Portrait Caricature of Theodore Thieme, 1926

Portrait Caricature of Theodore Thieme, 1926

Theodore Frederick Thieme


Theodore Frederick Thieme was the second of ten children born to immigrants Frederick John and Clara Thieme of Saxony. During a visit to the Saxon city of Chemnitz, which was known for its thriving textile industry, Thieme decided to begin manufacturing full-fashioned hosiery in the United States. Upon his return, he founded the Wayne Knitting Mills in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In time, Wayne Knitting Mills became one of America’s largest producers of men’s, women’s, and children’s full-fashioned hosiery.


Theodore Frederick Thieme (born February 7, 1857, in Fort Wayne, Indiana; died August 11, 1949) was the second of ten children born to immigrants Frederick John and Clara (née Weitzman) Thieme of Saxony. In 1890, during a trip to his parents’ homeland, Frederick Thieme visited the Saxon city of Chemnitz, which was known for its thriving textile industry. The visit inspired him to begin manufacturing full-fashioned hosiery in the United States. The following year, he founded the Wayne Knitting Mills in Fort Wayne, Indiana. With workers, machinery, and supplies imported from Germany, Thieme manufactured European-style hosiery in his American factory and advertised his products under the patriotic slogan “American Made for American Trade.” Under the protection of the McKinley Tariff, the Wayne Knitting Mills thrived against foreign competition and became one of the largest producers of men’s, women’s, and children’s full-fashioned hosiery in the United States. In addition to its achievements on the market, Wayne Knitting Mills contributed to the development of worker benefits through its extensive company welfare program. In his private life, Thieme was an advocate for civic improvement in both his hometown and in the state of Indiana as a whole, and he was a prominent contributor to the municipal socialism movement in the early 1900s.

Family and Ethnic Background

Theodore Frederick Thieme was born on February 7, 1857, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to German immigrant parents Frederick John and Clara (née Weitzman) Thieme.[1] Both of his parents were natives of the kingdom of Saxony, an independent German state. Frederick was born in Leipzig and Clara in Dresden. The couple married in Dresden in the Lutheran Church around 1853 and had their first child, Clara, in Leipzig the following year.[2] At the time, Saxony was an industrial hub in central Europe and was highly regarded for its textile production.[3] It was in Leipzig that Frederick trained to be a tailor and entered the textile industry – a trade that he and several of his sons would later pursue in the United States.

In 1855, Frederick and Clara Thieme joined 951,667 other immigrants in what became the second largest wave of German immigration to the United States in the nineteenth century (1851-1860). They arrived at the Port of New York in New York City on September 21, 1855, and from there made their way west to Fort Wayne, Indiana.[4] Their reasons for leaving Germany are difficult to pinpoint, but Frederick’s decision to settle in Fort Wayne was no coincidence. Census records indicate that Frederick’s brother, John, immigrated to the United States several years before his sibling and took up residence in Fort Wayne.[5] When the Thieme family arrived in Indiana, Frederick joined John, who was also a tailor, in business, and the two founded J.G. Thieme and Bro. Clothing Manufacturers and Retail Store.[6] Family partnerships in business would also feature prominently in his son Theodore’s later career.

Aside from family connections to the city, Fort Wayne appealed to Frederick Thieme and other recent immigrants from Germany because of its large German immigrant population. By the time Thieme arrived in Fort Wayne, Germans had been settling there for forty years. They had been drawn there by the availability of inexpensive, wooded land and by growing industrial opportunities.[7] By 1870, more than 78,000 foreign-born Germans resided in the entire state of Indiana, with over 5,000 of them living in Allen County, which is where Fort Wayne is located.[8] Nicknamed “A Most German Town” by the Chicago Tribune in 1893, Fort Wayne quickly grew into a thriving center of German culture and immigrant business in the United States.[9]

Germans in Indiana generally resisted assimilation. In Fort Wayne, immigrants created German cultural clubs and organizations, read German-language newspapers, bought goods in German-owned stores, and sent their children to schools where they learned to speak German. Several German-language newspapers surfaced and thrived at different points in the city’s history, including the Fort Wayne Demokrat, the Fort Wayne Zeitung, the Freie Presse-Staats-Zeitung, and the Fort Wayne Staats-Zeitung. Social clubs played an important role in preserving German heritage in Fort Wayne. Clubs such as the Turnverein Vorwärts (a German athletic association), the Waffengenossen-Verein and the Landwehr Verein (military fraternities), and several singing clubs, such as the Sängerbund (men’s chorus) and the Fort Wayne Damenchor, allowed German immigrants to build a strong community in which they could preserve their cultural identity.[10] In this “most German town,” Theodore Thieme received his education and gained his initial experience in the world of business.

Theodore was the second of ten children; he was also the first of Frederick and Clara’s children to be born in the United States. After settling in America, Frederick and Clara had another four boys and two girls, as well as two children who did not survive early childhood. Their surviving children included, in addition to Clara and Theodore, John Andrew (1858), Gottlieb (1862), Frederick (1864), Pauline (1867), Hugo (1870), and Mathilde (1872).[11]

Although Theodore did not initially pursue a career in the textile industry, he likely gained some knowledge of the trade from his father and uncle at their clothing store in downtown Fort Wayne. Two of Thieme’s brothers, Gottlieb and John, followed in their father’s footsteps and started their own tailoring firm, Thieme Bros.[12] A third Thieme brother, Frederick, Jr., also entered the textile industry and worked for a wholesale cloth house in Philadelphia.[13]

Theodore’s parents had different plans for him, however. The Thieme family was active in the local Lutheran church, and Frederick and Clara initially sent Theodore to a preparatory school to be educated as a Lutheran pastor. The Lutheran church had established a strong presence in Fort Wayne earlier in the nineteenth century, and it was responsible for early efforts to preserve the German language and German culture in the Indiana town.[14] Over time, Fort Wayne became such an important center of the Lutheran church in the American West that a seminary (Concordia College) was established there in the 1840s to train new Lutheran pastors to preach on the frontier.[15] A young Theodore received his early education in the Lutheran parochial schools of Fort Wayne, and at age fourteen he began his training as a pastor at Concordia College. The seminary did not interest him, however, and he left to pursue a career as a druggist. After completing a two-year course at the New York College of Pharmacy, Theodore accepted a position as a prescription clerk at a Fort Wayne drug and retail store, Meyer Brothers Drug Company.[16] The store was owned by a German immigrant, Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer, who had emigrated from Stemshorn in Lower Saxony.[17] Under the tutelage of Meyer, Thieme learned how to run a successful business.

In the summer of 1878, Theodore Thieme embarked on a European tour, which included a visit with relatives in Dresden and Leipzig.[18] It was the first of many trips to his parents’ homeland, which was known for its thriving textile industry. During his European travels, Thieme also attended the 1878 Paris Exposition, which featured many textile exhibits from international manufacturers, though none from Germany on account of lingering animosity between the French and the Germans over the relatively recent Franco-Prussian War (1870-71).[19] Upon his return to the United States a year later, Thieme purchased a small drugstore in Fort Wayne, with money borrowed from his father. He renamed the store T.F. Thieme and later took on a partner, Otto Gross, the husband of his cousin Clara.[20] This was the first of several family business partnerships that Theodore Thieme established throughout his career.

Business Development

Throughout the nineteenth century, the U.S. government adopted increasingly protectionist economic policies to encourage the growth of America’s developing industries. This era of protectionism peaked with the introduction of the McKinley Tariff (1890), which was named after the tariff’s main proponent, Ohio congressman and future U.S. president William McKinley. The legislation introduced a tariff of up to forty percent on many foreign imports, with the goal of making American-made goods more attractive and affordable than foreign-made ones. The McKinley Tariff opened the door to many new businesses in the United States and allowed others to expand, including companies in the steel and oil industries.[21]

Looking to enter the manufacturing business, Thieme viewed the new tariff as an excellent opportunity to establish a new industry in the United States. In a speech delivered at the end of his career, Thieme reflected on the importance of the McKinley Tariff, explaining: “The possibilities under this new tariff protection appealed to me, and I saw the opportunity that I had been waiting for, to get into the manufacturing business.”[22] Around 1890, he sold his interest in the drugstore to Otto Gross and embarked on a year-long tour of Europe in search of a new business venture.[23] During this trip, Thieme visited his parent’s homeland of Saxony, where he studied the textile industry in the city of Chemnitz, an international hub for the hosiery and knit goods industries. Impressed with the products manufactured by full-fashioned hosiery factories, Thieme settled on this industry and returned to the United States to found Wayne Knitting Mills.[24]

Full-fashioned hosiery was an emerging industry at the time of Thieme’s visit to Chemnitz, and Germany was gaining prominence in this arena.[25] In the late nineteenth century, most hosiery, or socks, in the United States were knit on circular knitting machines that produced shapeless tubes. The pieces were later stretched on a foot-shaped board and steamed into shape. Hosiery manufactured in this way lost its shape after a few washes. Full-fashioned hosiery, on the other hand, was knitted to the contours of the foot.[26] Though it was generally more expensive than seamless hosiery, the full-fashioned variety was considered more desirable by many consumers, especially women, because it fit better and held its shape longer.[27] Most of this style hosiery was imported from Europe and sold on the American market.

While other types of textile production had been mechanized for decades, the knit-wear industry lagged behind. The complex hand movements required in knitting were difficult to replicate with machinery, so the industry remained largely craft based. Machinery for knit hosiery was developed and introduced in Europe and the United States throughout the 1800s, but automated full-fashioned machines were still being perfected for widespread sale as late as the 1890s.[28] German machine manufacturers were at the forefront of the advances in knitting technology. In 1886, Chemnitz native Albin Beyer patented a machine that could mechanically shape hosiery by automatically widening and narrowing the gauge. The Seyfert and Donner machine manufacturers of Chemnitz bought the patent from Beyer, perfected the machine, and shortly thereafter, marketed it for use in the automated production of full-fashioned hosiery.[29]

It is unclear if this machine was the first of its kind on the market; still, it was likely available in Germany long before American machine manufacturers began producing something similar. According to the U.S. Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce (1915), the first American-made full-fashioned knitting machinery was not introduced on the market until 1898. Even then, American manufacturers continued to depend on German full-fashioned knitting machines well into the twentieth century.[30]

Thieme toured the Chemnitz factories shortly after full-fashioned machines arrived on the market, and he purchased his machinery directly from German manufacturers, which gave him a distinct advantage over other hosiery businesses in the United States. The machines were not easy to procure, however. This being the case, Thieme relied heavily on his German-American network in Leipzig and Chemnitz for help in navigating the political environment of the area. According to Thieme’s biographer, Ross F. Lockridge, he sought the advice of the American consul in Leipzig, Henry W. Diederich. A fellow German-American, Diederich had lived in Fort Wayne before his appointment by the U.S. State Department, and he had spent a considerable amount of time studying and teaching at Concordia College, where Thieme studied theology. He was also a friend of the Thieme family. [31] Diederich proved to be a helpful ally during Thieme’s investigation of the German hosiery industry, and he provided crucial letters of introduction.

While the McKinley Tariff helped fledgling U.S. businesses, European manufacturers viewed the tariff as a direct threat because it fostered greater competition and encouraged American businessmen to carry European manufacturing secrets overseas. These fears were particularly strong within the German textile industry, since the nation sold a large portion of its textile goods in the U.S. – more than $20,000,000 worth of goods annually in the early 1890s.[32] On the advice of his German-American contacts, Thieme assumed an alias to avoid suspicion while touring German knitting machine factories and hosiery operations. Throughout his tour, he introduced himself as Herr Gross, a Polish businessman. Thieme’s thin disguise was not the only thing that helped him obtain machines in Chemnitz, however. Whereas German textile manufacturers feared the growth of their American competitors, German hosiery machine manufacturers were eager to find new markets for their products – especially since European manufacturers had cautiously stopped buying new machines to avoid overproduction in the face of increasing overseas competition.[33]

In a 1911 article on the founding of Wayne Knitting Mills, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette claimed that Thieme was the first manufacturer to produce full-fashioned hosiery in the United States.[34] Thieme also made this claim in a 1924 pamphlet, writing: “… in 1891, I had sought out, discovered and established a manufacturing business, which was original and the first of its kind in the United States.”[35] While it is difficult to prove that he was the first, Thieme was certainly among the earliest American manufacturers to produce full-fashioned hosiery on automated machines.

When Thieme returned to the U.S. with plans to found a new hosiery company, he originally considered Philadelphia, then a major center of the American textile industry, as the site of his new mill. However, he ultimately settled on his hometown of Fort Wayne because of “a feeling of loyalty and pride in the city of my birth…” [36] More importantly, he found the capital he needed to start his business there. Thieme received funding from Old National Bank of Fort Wayne and from individual Fort Wayne citizens, though the names of these investors are unknown. The company also had a starting capital stock of $30,000 (approximately $765,000 in 2011).[37] With this capital, he set up Wayne Knitting Mills in the spring of 1891. Thieme returned to Chemnitz once more to place his purchase orders for knitting machines and to recruit experienced Saxon knitters to work in his new factory.[38] That summer, the company began production in a small, rented building with a core of twenty-five German-immigrant knitters and finishers and two to three machines.[39] Reflecting on Wayne Knitting Mill’s early struggles, Thieme stated, “Needless to say, within a short time our little business had all the symptoms of an invalid hovering between life and death; but in spite of the many natural obstacles, there was one thing that did not die, and that was the conviction that here was a wonderful opportunity to those who had the courage and tenacity to persevere.”[40] In 1892, the small enterprise turned out its first products, men’s and women’s full-fashioned hosiery, under the “Wayne Knit” brand.[41] Initially, the fledgling company encountered resistance from buyers who were skeptical about the quality of American-made hosiery. Most hosiery products were imported from Europe, especially Germany (approximately 90 percent from Chemnitz).[42] Wayne Knitting Mills also faced competition from numerous American manufacturers. At the turn of the nineteenth century, over 500 hosiery firms operated in the United States, and Thieme’s most prominent competitors included the Haynes Hosiery Corporation (circular knit goods), Berkshire Hosiery Corporation (full-fashioned hosiery), and Munsing Corporation (underwear).[43] Nonetheless, the transfer of knowledge, skilled workers, and cutting-edge technologies from Chemnitz helped Thieme’s factory remain competitive with these well-established American manufacturers and overseas competitors. At Wayne Knitting Mills, hosiery was manufactured on German-made machines by experienced German hosiery workers. Thus, the finished products were as close in quality and style to the German imports as possible, a fact that the company emphasized in its advertisements.

Building on the McKinley Tariff’s nationalistic industrial campaign, Thieme adopted an advertising strategy that emphasized the German quality of his products while touting the advantages of buying American-made goods. Similar to the “Made in America” campaigns of today, Wayne Knit advertisements featured the catchy slogan “American Made for American Trade,” which aimed to engender American pride in the nation’s growing industries. In these advertisements, Thieme assured consumers that Wayne Knitting Mills manufactured goods with German-made machinery and German-trained workers, and could therefore match the quality of Chemnitz hosiery.[44]

The Wayne Knit brand succeeded in overcoming consumers’ initial skepticism, and the company’s rapid expansion throughout the 1890s testifies to its general success in the American market. By 1893, Wayne Knitting Mills had expanded its operations to fill a two-story building in downtown Fort Wayne, and it increased its capital stock by another $25,000 (approximately $691,000 in 2011) in 1896.[45] When the company sought to expand again in the late 1890s, Thieme widened his scope to seek new investors and partners beyond Fort Wayne. There was little capital left to be extracted from investors in his hometown, so he sought support from silk goods importers in New York. After inspecting the Wayne Knitting Mills factory and its financial books, silk importer William A. Spies and his auditor John C. Marin agreed to buy stock in the company. Other Eastern capitalists agreed to invest in the company as well, and the capital was increased to $250,000. Wayne Knitting Mills was then able extended its operations to the East Coast and opened an office and stockroom in New York. This move served as an important catalyst to the company’s future growth.[46]

After expanding the mill’s capital and market share, Thieme sought ways to further increase the mill’s manufacturing capacity. In 1898, the entrepreneur sent representatives to Germany to convince small manufacturers in Chemnitz to move their operations to Fort Wayne. Two mill owners agreed to join the Wayne Knit community. They brought their machinery and workers to Indiana and manufactured products as a separate entity. However, all of these products were sold through Wayne Knitting Mills. Through this strategic partnership with German manufacturers, Thieme further assured the production of European-style goods in his American factory. Several years later, the German owners sold their mill to Thieme, and he merged it with Wayne Knitting Mills.[47]

In 1898, after deciding to venture into children’s hosiery, Thieme entered into his second family business partnership. Thieme’s brother, Frederick, undertook the organization of a separate company known as United Knitting Mills to manufacture children’s hosiery for Wayne Knitting Mills. Under the trademark “Pony Stockings,” Thieme and his brother managed to carve out a special niche in the hosiery market.[48] Few hosiery mills manufactured full-fashioned children’s socks, because they were generally more expensive than seamless ones. Manufacturers did not expect that parents would be willing to spend more on high-end hosiery for children, who wore through socks easily and quickly, and who cared little about the fit of their clothing.[49] Still, United Knitting Mills found a market for its children’s brand and produced what Wayne Knit boasted was “the best advertised brand of children’s hose in America.” Theodore Thieme later purchased his brother’s mill and hired him as the superintendent of Wayne Knitting Mills.[50]

As the company entered the twentieth century, Wayne Knitting Mills continued to expand at a rapid rate. The mill’s progress was especially apparent at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Approximately twenty million people visited the fair to see educational exhibits and displays of the latest innovations from around the world.[51] Thieme used the fair to build further confidence in the Wayne Knit brand. The company’s exhibit featured a display of Wayne Knit products and a full-fashioned knitting machine that operated during the fair so that visitors could see how lace stockings were made. Thieme walked away from the event with a grand prize that functioned as an official endorsement of the superior quality of Wayne Knit hosiery.[52]

By 1906, the factory had grown so large that the company had difficulty finding enough workers in Fort Wayne. To solve the labor shortage, Thieme opened branch plants in Garrett and Roanoke, Indiana, which employed approximately sixty women workers each. Around this time, yet another Thieme family member joined the Wayne Knit business. John A. Thieme left his business partnership with Gottlieb and took an unspecified position at Wayne Knitting Mills.[53] In 1909, the company branched out again to manufacture high-end products that filled a growing demand for silk hosiery in the United States. Theodore invited John to help him form the Thieme Brothers Company, a subsidiary dedicated to the manufacture of silk products.[54] Thieme Brothers added greatly to Wayne Knit’s overall profits, contributing $65,000 (approximately $845,000 in 2011) in profits in 1919 and $100,000 (approximately $1,120,000 in 2011) in 1920.[55]

Throughout Wayne Knitting Mill’s rapid expansion, the company remained inextricably linked to the German hosiery industry. For example, to keep apprised of advancements in the European hosiery market, Thieme made frequent trips to Germany.[56] He also continued to purchase machinery and other essential materials such as needles and aniline dyes from Chemnitz manufacturers. The connection between the German and American hosiery industries came to the forefront during World War I, when the United States and Germany fought on opposing sides. Imports of machinery and other vital manufacturing materials from Germany stopped altogether, temporarily crippling Wayne Knitting Mills. In a 1918 company newsletter, Thieme observed, “The great World War, which started in the Fall of 1914, vitally affected the knitting, as well as all other industries. All importations of German dye-stuffs, needles and machinery were stopped, causing serious complications in our business. For months we did practically no dyeing, although the factory was kept running, with the result that enormous stocks of undyed goods were accumulated.” Although the company found American substitutes for some hosiery supplies, domestic manufacturers could not provide the necessary machinery. Even after the war, Wayne Knitting Mills and other hosiery manufacturers remained dependent on German machine suppliers. [57]

After his sixty-sixth birthday, Thieme began to make arrangements for his retirement from the hosiery business. According to Thieme’s wishes, his only son, Wayne, had pursued a career in finance, taking over his father’s positions in several banks and trusts. [58] With no heir to take over the family business, Thieme considered selling Wayne Knitting Mills to the Munsingwear Corporation of Minneapolis in 1922, but ended negotiations because he “… learned and realized that it was unpopular and unfair to our well established trade, to our organization, to my brothers, our employees, our stockholders, and to the City of Fort Wayne; besides the price offered was entirely too low.”[59] Instead, Thieme sought to train a “committee” of upper management within the company to take his place.[60] However, before Thieme finished securing the future of his company, the board unexpectedly sold Wayne Knitting Mills to Munsingwear. In his farewell message to the company, Thieme expressed his outrage, saying, “…[W]hile in the midst of perfecting plans for the perpetuation of this business, and only four months before my anticipated retirement in June, I was struck in the back and cruelly betrayed by certain officers of the Company. . .”[61]

While Thieme was on vacation in Florida, two company officials, Samuel Foster and Henry Miller, “secretly” garnered stockholder support for the sale of Wayne Knitting Mills to Munsingwear. According to Thieme, the “two men constituting an ambitious minority, organized a secret conspiracy, seized control of the business by force, and sold it out upon their own terms and conditions.”[62] Mr. Foster accused Thieme of “misappropriation and misapplication of funds,” charges of which Thieme was later cleared by auditors.[63] He withdrew from the company officially on June 18, 1923, but his involvement in the hosiery business did not end here. The board did not include Thieme Brothers Hosiery Company in the sale to Munsingwear, and this branch remained under the control of Theodore and his brother John. Thieme reorganized the branch as an independent company and appointed himself as president and general manager. He then turned his attention to expanding Thieme Brother’s Hosiery to the West Coast – a project he initiated in 1921 with the purchase of land in Los Angeles. Thieme completed the project in 1923, shortly after his departure from Wayne Knitting Mills, and named the new branch Theme Brothers Hosiery. (He chose to remove the “i” from Thieme to distinguish the mill from the Fort Wayne original while still associating it with his family name. [64]) Aided by a loyal group of former Wayne Knitting Mills department heads and foremen, Thieme got the company off the ground, and his brother John took over the management of the branch.[65] Two years later, Thieme “took advantage of a favorable opportunity” and sold the Fort Wayne branch of Thieme Brothers. After thirty-two years of successful management in the hosiery industry, Theodore Thieme officially withdrew from all business activities in 1925 and entrusted the future the Theme Bros. Company to his brother John.[66]

Welfare Capitalism Efforts

Apart from its quality hosiery products, Wayne Knitting Mills was well known for the progressive array of welfare activities and fringe benefits available to company employees. Thieme organized his company during a tumultuous period in U.S. labor history. Labor unrest grew in the 1880s and 1890s, culminating in multiple high-profile strikes, including the 1894 Pullman Car strike by the American Railway Union. In response to the growing unrest, national labor organizations such as the American Federation of Labor (1886) emerged, and the federal government enacted numerous labor reforms including the Erdman Act. [67]

Wayne Knitting Mills encountered its share of labor disputes in the early twentieth century. At its height, Wayne Knit employed approximately 2,500 workers and was one of the largest employers of women workers in Fort Wayne.[68] These workers faced long hours, low wages, and often hazardous conditions.[69] For example, in 1914, a U.S. Public Health Service inspector cited Wayne Knitting Mills for unsatisfactory working conditions due to inadequate washrooms and poor ventilation, among other hazards.[70]

In the first decade of the twentieth century, at least two strikes occurred. In 1900, twenty-five apprentices walked out in protest of Thieme’s demands that they pay for any needles that they broke and for the mending required on poor work. Thieme argued that such policies encouraged better work performance and fewer errors.[71] Two years later, the factory had to close down for several days on account of a strike of the “fancy knitters” over low wages.[72]

Hoping to quiet labor unrest, slow the advance of labor reform laws, and increase worker efficiency, Thieme and other employers began to offer fringe benefits to employees. From profit sharing and health care benefits to company-sponsored social activities, Thieme’s welfare program was part of a larger movement among businesses. This movement was later named “welfare capitalism.”[73] While these programs were beneficial to employees in many ways, they were also paternalistic in nature. Business owners could have achieved similar reforms by offering higher wages. With more income, employees could have afforded their own housing and health care, and participated in social activities of their own choosing. However, welfare programs gave companies greater control over their employee’s lives, both within and outside of the workplace.[74]

Wayne Knitting Mills introduced its first significant benefit program in 1904, when the Board of Directors created a profit-sharing plan that benefitted officers, department heads, and other “special employees.” Two years later, the company organized the Wayne Knitting Mills Benefit Society, which provided limited sickness, accident, and death benefits to workers. The mill also added an on-site hospital to treat ill and injured employees. Thieme’s welfare work culminated in 1910 with the construction of a company clubhouse for employees.[75] Established in part to house out-of-town employees, the clubhouse served as the “Wayne Knit Social Center.” The clubhouse featured a bowling alley, billiards, a parlor, a recreational hall, a library, and a kitchen and dining room that fed 600 to 700 employees daily.[76] Workers could take classes at the clubhouse in subjects such as personal efficiency, economics, and psychology, or join numerous clubs that met in the clubhouse such as Gymnits (a women’s athletic club) and the Saxonia Singing Society.[77] The mill even had its own volunteer fire department.[78]

In a 1923 company message, Thieme justified his welfare work to the stockholders by arguing that “what is of benefit to the worker is of benefit to the factory.”[79] Many employers turned to welfare activities to help reduce absenteeism, employee turnover, strikes, and to boost overall employee efficiency.[80] Likewise, Thieme used planned recreational activities, such as a company bowling league and an annual company picnic to help “[cultivate] the WAYNE KNIT co-operative spirit,” boosting both worker loyalty to the company and productivity within the factory.[81] He later boasted that, “The ‘Welfare’ activities of the Wayne Knitting Mills have been recognized throughout the country for their originality and success.”[82] In the end, it is unclear whether the welfare strategy was truly successful. What can be said, however, is that Thieme offered his employees a wide range of benefits that most workers did not enjoy at the time. Still, his welfare activities failed to permanently quell labor unrest at the factory. For instance, the Fort Wayne newspapers reported on one strike – arguably the company’s worst – that occurred after Wayne Knit enacted its welfare programs. In 1921, the Knitters’ Union went on strike to protest a sudden twenty-five percent wage reduction.[83] Thieme explained in one pamphlet that the decrease occurred after the removal of a twenty-five percent war bonus that was only added temporarily during the war economy boom. Regardless, the strike crippled the company for months, only ending when Thieme stepped in and fired several strike leaders.[84]

Social Status

Theodore Thieme married Eugenia Brueback in January 1881, but their marriage ended in divorce two years later.[85] He married again on January 18, 1894, in Medford, Massachusetts, to Bessie Loring. Together, Thieme and his second wife had one child, Wayne, who was surely named in honor of the city that had played such an important role in the entrepreneur’s life. [86] Thieme and his family enjoyed a life of prominence in Fort Wayne, and updates on their activities and whereabouts appeared frequently in the city’s newspapers.

Outside of his business affairs, Thieme was a highly active member of the Fort Wayne community. Among his many activities, Theodore Thieme was a member of the Fort Wayne Manufacturers’ Club, the “City Beautiful” movement, and the Commercial Club of Indianapolis; additionally, he was the director of the German-American Bank and a stockholder in multiple Fort Wayne business enterprises.[87] He also served as the president of the Morris Plan Co. bank in Fort Wayne and served on the board of several other financial institutions including the German American Trust Company and the Tri-State Loan and Trust Company.[88] Thieme was best known, however, for his civic improvement initiatives.

Throughout Thieme’s lifetime, the German-American community became increasingly involved in local government and politics in Fort Wayne. By the early 1900s, most of the city council members claimed German heritage.[89] The city had a German-born mayor, Charles Zollinger, who served seven terms beginning in 1873. Adding to the German-American influence over state and local politics in Indiana, Thieme took an active role in city government.[90] For example, in 1904, the mayor appointed him as city councilman for the fifth ward of Fort Wayne.[91] Later, he gained statewide prominence during a campaign to reform municipal government in all of Indiana.

In the early 1900s, a new model for municipal government gained popularity throughout the United States. Known as the Commission form of city government, or more popularly as the De Moines Plan, this new system replaced the common mayor-city council model with a commission of five officials. These officials were elected on a plurality-at-large basis rather than by wards, and each commissioner oversaw a different branch of the city administration. By 1911, the model had been adopted by over 150 cities throughout the nation.[92]

Intrigued by this innovative reform movement, members of the Fort Wayne Commercial Club formed a committee to explore the pros and cons of the Commission form of government. The club sent Thieme and seven others to American cities that had adopted the Commission model. They also travelled to leading European cities to examine their forms of municipal government; these cities included Manchester, Glasgow, Geneva, Düsseldorf, Amsterdam, Cologne, Leeds, Munich, and Gothenburg.[93] Thieme observed what he called the “Business System of Government” in many of these cities. Upon his return to the United States, Thieme advocated for the adoption of this European system, which featured home rule for cities, municipal ownership of public utilities, and city leadership by business-savvy individuals. His efforts were part of a larger movement called municipal socialism, which peaked in popularity between 1901 and 1917.[94] Municipal socialism called for government provision of utilities, transportation systems, and, in some cases, recreational facilities to provide public services to citizens where privately supplied services were inadequate.[95] Through his efforts to transfer the principles of municipal socialism that he observed in Europe, Thieme acted as a transatlantic bridge builder.

In a 1911 pamphlet, Thieme argued, “We must put the city on a business basis, because practically all of the functions of a modern city are of a business nature. The collecting of taxes and paying of salaries is business; the purchasing of supplies and material, erection of buildings, buying of land, construction of roads, sewers and sidewalks are all business transactions; the city deals with banks, trust companies, and with the county and state in money matters, and this is business …”[96] Thus, Thieme believed that city officials who were elected based on their qualifications as businessmen, rather than on their popularity or political affiliations, would run the city government more efficiently.

The Wayne Knit manager and other interested citizens formed the Business System of Government League, which Thieme chaired from 1911 to 1913, as well as the Citizens’ League of Indiana (1914). The League organized a non-partisan campaign to introduce home rule and municipal reform in the state of Indiana. Thieme and other League members even brought their proposal before the state legislature and advocated for a constitutional convention to change the state constitution. However, their proposals were dismissed by politicians in the state capital.[97] Some even considered Thieme’s political ideas “dangerous.” In one letter to the editor of the Fort Wayne News and Sentinel, a concerned citizen connected the business system of government to “socialist ideas” and dismissed Thieme’s proposition as the “fancies of the Germans.”[98]

Although Thieme’s municipal reform efforts never reached fruition, he left a lasting imprint on his hometown through two other notable civic improvement projects. Thieme traveled abroad frequently both for business and pleasure. During his travels, he developed an interest in art and collected many valuable pieces in the countries he visited. Hoping to cultivate the arts in Fort Wayne, Thieme helped to expand the Fort Wayne Art School by donating artwork, money, and his city residence in the 1920s. With Thieme’s help, a new Fort Wayne Art School and Museum Association was formed for the purpose of gathering members, and funds, to create a new art school and museum. Items from Thieme’s personal collection formed the nucleus of the museum, which still exists as the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.

The German-American entrepreneur also took an interest in river improvement and beautification projects in his hometown. With his own money, Thieme built an ornamental retaining wall and a small city park along a stretch of the St. Mary’s River in downtown Fort Wayne.[99] In a June 1911 article in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, the city’s board of park commissioners expressed their gratitude, writing: “…this board desires to express to you not only its appreciation of your generosity and public spirit, but [also] that of every citizen of Fort Wayne, for whose benefit and enjoyment you have expended so large a sum of your private fortune.”[100] The park stands today as a testament to Theodore Thieme’s generosity and his personal interest in the improvement of his hometown.


In his “Farewell Message” to the stockholders, Thieme reflected on his career. He explained that his “dreams and visions of thirty-two years ago” had been realized and that he could look back over years of hard work with “a justifiable measure of pride and satisfaction.” By the time Thieme retired, Wayne Knit products were sold in over 2,000 of the leading “high class” retail stores across the nation; the factories had a manufacturing capacity of 31,000,000 pairs of hose per year; and Thieme’s workers enjoyed the benefits of one of the largest company welfare programs in the United States.[101] Using his connections in his parents’ native Saxony to his advantage, Thieme successfully transplanted a German-dominated industry to the United States and contributed to the growth of America’s fledgling industries in the Progressive Era. Theodore F. Thieme died on August 11, 1949, and was buried in Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne.[102]


[1] Ross F. Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme: A Man and His Times (Los Angeles, CA: Haynes Corporation, 1942), 4; Passport Applications, 1795-1905, September 12, 1890, No. 20853, NARA Microfilm Publication M1372, 694 rolls, General Records Department of State, Record Group 59, National Archives, Washington, DC.

[2] The 1870 U.S. Census indicates that the Thiemes’ child “Lony” was born in Saxony. According to Lockridge, however, “Lonnie” was the Thiemes’ nickname for their first child, Clara. Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 4; 1870 U.S.Census, Place:Fort Wayne Ward 5, Allen, Indiana,Roll:M593_297,Page:350B,Image:407,Family History Library Film:545796, lines 19-27, accessed through Ancestry.com.

[3] Stanley Chapman, “The Hosiery Industry, 1780-1914,” in The Cambridge History of Western Textiles, Volume 2, ed. David Jenkins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 824 and 826; James Sheehan, German History: 1770-1866 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 739-43.

[4] Erika E. Griffith, “The Growth and Decline of the German Element in Indiana, 1772-1972: A Description and Interpretation of German Influence upon the Development of Indiana” (Master’s Thesis, Butler University, 1972), 58. On Frederick and Clara Thieme’s immigration to the United States, see New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line], Year:1855,Arrival:New York, New York,Microfilm Serial:M237,Microfilm Roll:156,Line:3,List Number:917, accessed through Ancestry.com.

[5] 1850 U.S. Census,Census Place:Wayne, Allen, Indiana,Roll:M432_135,Page:96A,Image:195, Lines 40-42, accessed through Ancestry.com.

[6] Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 5-6; “Columbia Street east from Clinton street, Fort Wayne IN: showing Thieme & Bro. Clothing, Pfeiffer & Schlatter Hardware, Schwieters Bakery, Johns & company saddlery, Empire Binders, Buckeye Mowers, Joseph Wills. 1889,” reproduced from a printed source, Allen County Community Album, Allen County Public Library, accessed through http://contentdm.acpl.lib.in.us/.

[7] Jim Sack, “The Germans in Fort Wayne,” in History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, 1700-2005, vol. 1, ed. John D. Beatty (Evansville, IL: M.T. Publishing, 2006), 678.

[8] Sack, “Germans in Fort Wayne,” 676; Griffith, “German Element in Indiana,” 59.

[9] Sack, “Germans in Fort Wayne,” 676; Scott M. Bushnell, Hard News, Heartfelt Opinions: A History of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007), 85.

[10] Griffith, “German Element in Indiana,” 62; Sack, “Germans in Fort Wayne,” 686 and 688.

[11] 1880 U.S. Census,Census Place:Fort Wayne, Allen, Indiana;Roll:265,Family History Film:1254265,Page:705C,Enumeration District:126,Image:0432, lines 21-30, accessed through Ancestry.com; Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 4.

[12] The Fort Wayne Sentinel, December 11, 1890, n.p.; “Goes to Knitting Mills,” The Fort Wayne Sentinel, August 12, 1907, 9; Bert J. Griswold, Builders of Greater Fort Wayne: A Collection of Portraits of the men of Today Who are Carrying on the Work of the Fathers in the Making of “The Wonder City of Midwestern America” (Fort Wayne, IN, 1926), 578.

[13] Griswold, Builders of Greater Fort Wayne, 576.

[14] Lutheran Reverend Wilhelm Sihler emerged as a religious leader in Fort Wayne in 1845. He upheld the policy of using the German language within the church and in parochial schools, and he demanded the preservation of German culture in the Fort Wayne community. Sack, “Germans in Fort Wayne,” 680.

[15] Ibid., 681.

[16] Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 3-10 and 13-18.

[17] Sack, Germans in Fort Wayne, 681.

[18] Two announcements in the Fort Wayne Sentinel reported on Thieme’s activities in Germany, specifically Saxony, in 1878. See “Localisms,” Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel, June 26, 1878, 1; “Small Shot,” Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel, August 29, 1878, n.p.; Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 19-27.

[19] Reports of the United States Commissioners to the Paris Universal Exposition, 1878, vol. II (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1880), 431-64.

[20] Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 28 and 31; The Fort Wayne Sentinel, October 14, 1879, n.p.; “Theodore F. Thieme,” The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, April 23, 1911, 2; Allen County, Indiana,Index to Marriage Records 1824-1920 Inclusive vol., W.P.A. Original Record Located: County Clerk's O,Book:17,Page:58, accessed through Ancestry.com; Theodore Thieme and William Otto Gross appear in an 1889 Fort Wayne directory as partners in the Thieme & Gross drugstore, see R.L. Polk Co.’s Fort Wayne Directory, 1889, 465.

[21] Some examples of businesses that benefited from the McKinley Tariff include Bethlehem Steel, Standard Oil, and ALCOA. “McKinley Tariff of 1890,” in The 100 Most Significant Events in American Business: An Encyclopedia, ed. Quentin R. Skrabec, Jr. (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2012), 96-99.

[22] Theodore F. Thieme, “Farewell Annual Message to Present and Former Stockholders of The Wayne Knitting Mills,” June 18, 1923, reprinted in the Scrapbook of Fort Wayne History, vol. 141 (Fort Wayne, IN: Allen County Public Library, 2003), n.p.

[23] By 1891, the Thieme & Gross drugstore no longer appeared in the Fort Wayne directory. Instead, Theodore Thieme was listed as secretary and manager of Wayne Knitting Mills. R.L. Polk & Co.’s Fort Wayne Directory, 1891, 501, See also Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, Wayne Knitting Mills, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1891-1916 (Fort Wayne, IN: Wayne Knitting Mills, 1916), [3]. On Thieme’s European travels, see The Fort Wayne Sentinel, September 9, 1890, n.p.; “Home from Europe,” The Fort Wayne Sentinel, n.p.; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA);Washington DC;Passport Applications, 1795-1905,Collection Number:ARC Identifier 566612 / MLR Number A1 508,NARA Series:M1372,Roll #:359, no. 20853, September 12, 1890, accessed through Ancestry.com.

[24] Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 40-50; Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, [7]. For more on Chemnitz as a center of the hosiery industry, see Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, The Hosiery Industry: Report on the Cost of Production in the United States, Miscellaneous Series, no. 31 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1915), 173.

[25] Stanley Chapman, “The Hosiery Industry, 1780-1914,” in The Cambridge History of Western Textiles, Volume 2, 841.

[26] “Fort Wayne is the Home of One of the Biggest Hosiery Mills—31,000,000 Stockings Per Year,” Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, April 11, 1920, 8; Department of Commerce, The Hosiery Industry, 171-72.

[27] Department of Commerce, The Hosiery Industry, 172; “Fort Wayne is the Home of One of the Biggest Hosiery Mills—31,000,000 Stockings Per Year,” 8.

[28] Chapman, “The Hosiery Industry, 1780-1914,” 833-39; Marilyn Palmer, Framework Knitting (Oxford: Shire Publications, Ltd., 1984), 27.

[29] A patent for Beÿer’s Straight-Knitting Machine indicates that the machine was first patented in Germany on May 25, 1886, and shows that Seyfert and Donner were the assignees of the patent by 1888. By 1905, Seyfert and Donner knitting machines were in use throughout the United States. See “Albin Beÿer assignor to Ernst Julius Seyfert and Hermann Donner, 1888, Straight-Knitting Machine,” U.S. Patent 391,011, filed May 31, 1887, and issued October 16, 1888; “Two Leading Makes of Flat Knitting Machines,” Textile World Record, vol. 30, no. 3 (December 1905): 145; “About the History of Hand Flat-Bed Knitting Machines,” German Hosiery Museum.

[30] Department of Commerce, The Hosiery Industry, 179 and 235.

[31] Lockeridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 42-45; Diederich was appointed American Consul in Leipzig on July 9, 1889, and remained in this post until 1893. See Register of the Department of State, December 15, 1916 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1917), 85-86.

[32] Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 65.

[33] Ibid., 43-45.

[34] “Theodore F. Thieme,” Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, April 23, 1911, 2.

[35] Theodore F. Thieme, How and Why the Wayne Knitting Mills was sold to the Munsingwear Corporation, February 11, 1924, 6, Allen County Public Library.

[36] Thieme, “Farewell Annual Message,” [1].

[37] Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 52-53. All current values (in 2011 USD) are based on Samuel H. Williamson, “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present,” MeasuringWorth, 2011, using the Consumer Price Index.

[38] Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, [7].

[39] “Glorious News,” Fort Wayne Sentinel, February 26, 1895, n.p.

[40] Thieme, “Farewell Annual Message,” [1].

[41] “Fort Wayne is the Home of One of the Biggest Hosiery Mills—31,000,000 Stockings Per Year,” 8.

[42] Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 58-59; Department of Commerce, The Hosiery Industry, 46-47.

[43] Chapman, “The Hosiery Industry, 1780-1914,” 841.

[44] Wayne Knit Advertisement, McClure’s Magazine, vol. 12 (November 1898): 45.

[45] Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, [7].

[46] Ibid.; Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 68-69.

[47] Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, [7].

[48] Ibid.

[49] Department of Commerce, The Hosiery Industry, 46-47 and 172.

[50] Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, [7]

[51] Joe Sonderman and Mike Truax, St. Louis: The 1904 World’s Fair (Chicago, IL: Arcadia Publishing, 2008), 7.

[52] Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, [9] and [21].

[53] “Change at Knitting Mills,” Fort Wayne Knitting Mills, August 11, 1907, 3; “Goes to Knitting Mills,” Fort Wayne Sentinel, August 12, 1907, 9.

[54] Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, [9]; Griswold, Builders of Greater Fort Wayne, 578.

[55] Thieme, How and Why, 8.

[56] Existing passport application and passenger lists indicate that Thieme travelled to Germany in 1891, 1901, 1911, 1922, and 1923. Staatsarchiv Hamburg,Hamburg, Deutschland,Hamburger Passagierlisten,Year: 1891, Volume:373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 073,Page:0,Microfilm No.:K_1744, accessed through Ancestry.com; Staatsarchiv Hamburg,Hamburg, Deutschland,Hamburger Passagierlisten,Year: 1901, Volume:373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 121,Page:1406,Microfilm No.:K_1770, accessed through Ancestry.com; Staatsarchiv Hamburg,Hamburg, Deutschland,Hamburger Passagierlisten, Year: 1911Volume:373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 236,Page:1476, Microfilm No.:K_1819, accessed through Ancestry.com; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA),Washington D.C.,Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925,Year: 1922, Collection Number:ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534,NARA Series:M1490,Roll #:1219, accessed through Ancestry.com; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA),Washington D.C.,Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925, Year: 1923,Collection Number:ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534,NARA Series:M1490,Roll #:2297; accessed through Ancestry.com.

[57] Wayne Knitting Mills, Wayne Knit Rav-lings: The Voice of the Wayne Knit Community, vol. 4, no.1 (February 1918): 2-3; Wayne Knitting Mills, Wayne Knit Rav-lings: The Voice of the Wayne Knit Community, vol. 4, no. 2 (March 1918): 7.

[58] Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 169.

[59] Thieme, How and Why, 3; see also, Thieme, “Farewell Message,” [2].

[60] Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 185-86.

[61] Thieme, “Farewell Message,” [3].

[62] Thieme, How and Why, 14.

[63] Ibid., 4-5.

[64] “Will Remove Part of Silk Mill Machinery,” Fort Wayne News and Sentinel, May 19, 1921, 3; “To Select Site for Thieme Bros. Mills,” Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, May 12, 1921, 1; Thieme, “Farewell Message,” [4].

[65] Griswold, Builders of Greater Fort Wayne, 578; Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 192-95.

[66] Lockridge, Theodore F. Thieme, 194-95.

[67] Jennifer Klein, “Welfare Capitalism (United States),” in Encyclopedia of Social Welfare History in North America, eds. John M. Herrick and Paul H. Stuart (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2005), 432-35; “CLEAR Timeline of United States Labor History,” Center for Labor Education & Research, University of Hawai’i-West O’ahu, accessed at http://clear.uhwo.hawaii.edu/Timeline-US.html.

[68] Sack, “The Germans in Fort Wayne,” 689; Peggy Seigel, “‘What Shall We Do with Our Daughters?’: Changing Roles of Fort Wayne Women, 1870-1920,” in History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, 1700-2005, vol. 1, ed. John D. Beatty (Evansville, IL: M.T. Publishing, 2006), 209.

[69] John D. Beatty, “Fort Wayne From the Progressive Era to the Roaring Twenties, 1900-1930,” in History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, 1700-2005, vol. 1, ed. John D. Beatty (Evansville, IL: M.T. Publishing, 2006), 77.

[70] Seigel, ‘“What Shall We Do with Our Daughters?”’ 210.

[71] “Apprentices Strike,” Fort Wayne News, June 6, 1900, n.p.

[72] “The Factory Opens,” Fort Wayne News, May 14, 1902, 5.

[73] The term welfare capitalism was applied to business welfare activities in the 1930s. Andrea Tone, The Business of Benevolence: Industrial Paternalism in Progressive America (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), 2.

[74] Tone, Business of Benevolence, 78-80.

[75] Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, [9].

[76] Ibid., [13]; Wayne Knitting Mills, Wayne Knit Rav-lings: The Voice of the Wayne Knit Community, vol. 4, no. 2 (March 1918): 5.

[77] Wayne Knitting Mills, Wayne Knit Rav-lings: The Voice of the Wayne Knit Community, vol. 4, no. 1 (February 1918): 3.

[78] Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, [13] and [19]; Wayne Knitting Mills, Wayne Knit Rav-lings: The Voice of the Wayne Knit Community, vol. 4, no. 2 (March 1918): 14.

[79] Thieme, “Farewell Address,” [2].

[80] Tone, Business of Benevolence, 72-73.

[81] Thieme, “Farewell Address,” [2].

[82] Ibid., [2-3].

[83] By this time, one official union was identified as representing employees at the mill: Knitter’s Union No. 2 of the Fort Wayne branch of the American Federation of Full Fashioned Hosiery Workers (AFFFHW). Wayne Knitting Mills, Souvenir of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, [16]; “Continue Discussion in Mill Controversy,” Fort Wayne News and Sentinel, May 19, 1921, 1; “No Settlement is Made,” Fort Wayne News, April 23, 1921, 1.

[84] Thieme, How and Why, 9; Seigel, ‘“What Shall We Do With Our Daughters?” 211.

[85] For the marriage announcement, see “Fort Wayne,” Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel, December 13, 1880, n.p. For the divorce announcement, see “City News,” Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, September 8, 1883, 7.

[86] Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840-1911, May 10, 1894, 15, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts, accessed through Ancestry.com. For the number of children, see 1900U.S. Census, Wayne Township, Allen County, Indiana, Roll:358,Page:4B,Enumeration District:0034,FHL microfilm:1240358, lines 95-97.

[87] “Theodore F. Thieme,” Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, April 23, 1911, 2; “Manufacturers’ Club Interest in the Scheme,” Fort Wayne News, August 11, 1902, 4.

[88] “Morris Plan Co. Elects,” Fort Wayne News, January 17, 1919, 1; United States Mortgage and Trust Company, Trust Companies of the United States, 1917 Edition (New York, NY: United States Mortgage and Trust Company, 1917), 104.

[89] Beatty, “Fort Wayne, 1900-1930,” 76.

[90] Sack, “The Germans in Fort Wayne,” 686.

[91] Fort Wayne Morning Journal Gazette, April 13, 1904, 4.

[92] Ernest S. Bradford, Commission Government in American Cities (New York, NY: Macmillan Company, 1911), v.

[93] Theodore Thieme, A New State Constitution for Indiana: Obstacles in the Way, Fort Wayne, IN (June 1914), 16-23; Theodore Thieme, A Modern System of Municipal Government: A Discourse by T.F. Thieme, President of the Wayne Knitting Mills, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Federated Commercial Clubs of Indiana, Fort Wayne, October 18, 1911 (Fort Wayne, IN: Singmaster Printing Co., 1911), 1.

[94] Robert E. Weir, ed., Class in America: An Encyclopedia, vol. 2, s.v. Municipal Socialism (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007), 551.

[95] See Edgar J. Levey, “Municipal Socialism and its Economic Limitations,” Political Science Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 1 (March 1909): 23-56.

[96] Theodore Thieme, A Modern System of Municipal Government, 7-8.

[97] Griswold, Great Builders of Fort Wayne, 770.

[98] “Cheated Himself,” Fort Wayne News and Sentinel, April 25, 1921, 4.

[99] Griswold, Builders of Greater Fort Wayne, 770-71.

[100] “Park Board in Letter Expresses its Gratitude,” Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, June 14, 1921, 2.

[101] Thieme, “Farewell Address,” [2]. For the number of stockings produced per year, see “Fort Wayne Is the Home of One of the Biggest Hosiery Mills—31,000,000 Stockings Per Year,” 8.

[102] Interment Records: Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1861-1971, vol. XIII, T-V, abstracted from original cemetery records by the staff, the Fort Wayne Public Library, 1973.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Theodore Frederick Thieme
  • Coverage 1857-1949
  • Author
  • Website Name Immigrant Entrepreneurship
  • URL
  • Access Date April 23, 2024
  • Publisher German Historical Institute
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2018