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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 1368~


William Elmer Fitch


William E. Fitch the well-known proprietor of Fitch’s Laundry at La Salle, Illinois, is a native of Fayette county, Iowa, born in Illyria township, April 10, 1867. He is the eldest of a family of seven children born to George W. and Roxcie (Moore) Fitch, both of whom are natives of northeastern Ohio.

Will E. Fitch was reared and educated in his native county. He attended the country schools of Illyria and Bethel townships during the first five or six years of his school life, after which his parents located in West Union, and he there pursued the full course of the graded schools and a special teachers’ course at Ainsworth’s private academy. He began his independent career as a teacher in the country schools of the county, and was quite successful as a pedagogue. But his inclination was towards mechanical pursuits and he was permitted to make his own choice of a life work. When about eighteen years old he went to Cedar Rapids and there learned the "preliminaries" of the laundry business. He was employed for a few months in Muscatine, and afterwards leased a small plant in Minnesota. But this small town and one or two other small places where he set up in trade, did not have the population to sustain the business on the scale which he had in mind. He was employed in various capacities in many of the larger cities of the country and finally worked for the Empire Laundry Machinery Company in the capacity of expert launder, installing new plants and instructing inexperienced buyers in laundry methods. Finally he accepted a position as foreman of a large plant at Ottumwa, Iowa. While so employed he found a plant poorly equipped and operated in what seemed to him a good town, LaSalle, Illinois. After some preliminary skirmishing he bought it, and began building it up and improving it. From that day he began to forge to the front, and has now one of the best-equipped and most up-to-date laundries in the state. He gives employment regularly to about thirty people, exclusive of a considerable number of outside agents. The output of the plant at first was less than a hundred dollars a week; but for the last eight or ten years it has seldom been below five hundred dollars weekly, and often above that figure. Men in the business in Illinois and elsewhere recognize in Billie a man who thoroughly understands the business and who is not so selfish as to keep his knowledge to himself. In 1900 he was elected president of the Laundrymen’s Association of Illinois, served one year, was then elected secretary, which responsible office he held for eight years, when he was again given the presidency. During this period he was also elected secretary of the National Association, and was for five years secretary of the Middle and Western Launderers’ Association. Billy’s person as well as his home is well decorated with presents received in acknowledgment and appreciation of his valued services.

Being of a literary turn of mind, Mr. Fitch is also a paid contributor to the laundry journals of the country, especially the National Journal, and it seems that his contributions, of both prose and poetry, are eagerly sought, and much of this matter has been republished in the regular press of the country.

"Billie" Fitch is one of the men who believes in going to the bottom of things as is evidenced in the fact that he passed the necessary examination for the position of grand lecturer (Masonic) for the state of Illinois, and carried off the prize and has served a number of years in that capacity. He is a thirty-second-degree Mason, a Shriner and an Elk.

The subject of this sketch has a character and manner peculiarly his own. Among his business associates he is known as "Pastor Bill." His writings and sayings are always in a highly moral and unselfish tone, which have brought him this unsought, and perhaps undesired prefix. No man more thoroughly despises wrangling and fault-finding and his competitors cannot but admire his entire fairness, even to the side of personal losses, rather than to engage in any form of self-exaltation.

Mr. Fitch has been twice married, first to Ella Mae Jack, of Muscatine, Iowa. A son and daughter were born to this union, Mary Luella, a stenographer, and Frank, in school. His present wife was Charlottina Trout, of Peru, and they have one son, Harold William, thirteen years of age.

In politics and religion Mr. Fitch is extremely liberal. He is free and outspoken, yet never obtrusive. Politically, he supports the men whose sayings and doings most cleanly coincide with his own views regarding the issue. But it must be added that such men, thus far, have usually been found in the Republican party. He is not a member of any church organization, though interested in every movement that has for its aim "the greatest good to the greatest number.

~transcribed for the Fayette Co IAGenWeb Project by Doris A. Smith


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