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Sketch of William H. Fruen
William H. Fruen carried an influence in business and political circles
in Minneapolis. He was born in Fisherton Anger Parish, Salisbury,
Wiltshire, England, July 15, 1845, and served an apprenticeship as a
machinist at Newcastle-on-the-Tyne. Coming to the United States in June,
1865, he found employment with the Boston Screw Company, and there
learned all the detail of the manufacture of screws and of making the
screw machinery. He made patterns for several new machines and installed
them, also becoming a stockholder in the company. In those years the
American Screw Company was buying up the smaller shops and forming a
monopoly, the Boston Screw Company being thus absorbed.
In 1870 Mr. Fruen visited St. Paul--had then never heard of
Minneapolis--but soon secured a repair and machine shop in the milling
district of Minneapolis. The new process of flour manufacture was being
introduced; and his skill was sought to make patterns and build new
machinery. With the idea of screw manufacture in mind he built
twenty-five machines; and in 1874, he built a dam on Basset's Creek near
where Glenwood Avenue crosses it and erected a plant where he made 8,000
gross of screws, most of which were sold to T.B. Janney and Company.
R.P. Russell and M.J. Mendenhall were original partners, but both were
so crippled by financial depression that the burden fell wholly on Mr.
Fruen, who found it difficult to enlist capital, so that it took some
years to get well established.
In 1878 the American Screw Company sought to buy the Fruen plant, and
make screw machinery.
After the historic explosion of the Washburn "A" mill, his services were
sought to provide means to prevent a recurrence, one invention being an
alarm bell to indicate shortage of flow of grain between the mill stones
and stop the machinery before the surfaces would be injured. speed of
machinery also needed regulation and in 1878 he secured patents on a
Water Wheel Governor; which, within a year, had replaced all other such
devices in Minneapolis; although, to get his first governor into use he
had to give it to one of the mills. His old screw factory was now
converted into a manufactory of these governors. These machines which
automatically regulated the speed of water wheels, regardless of the head
of water, were shipped into many foreign countries including England,
Japan, and Argentina. This industry demanded his attention largely until
1890, and proved a financial success, making him an important factor in
Mr. Fruen was doubtless best known in connection with the supply of
spring water to Minneapolis. Fine springs of purest water near his
factory began to be utilized for this purpose about 1882. It was during
this time of the development of the spring water business that he
invented a coin machine for the dispensing of a glass of water by the
deposit of one cent through a slot. This is listed in the official
Gazette of the United States Patent Office as "Liquid Drawing Device",
Patent no. 309219 issued on December 16, 1884 to William H. Fruen.
The general appearance of the equipment was a replica of a four-sided
office building with cast iron fronts. Depressions formed the windows
and a larger and deeper depression formed the building entrance. In the
latter was placed the water tap and drinking glass, and also the slot
through which the coin was dropped. The weight of the coin actuated the
mechanism which measured and delivered the water to the glass. One of
these was placed in operation in the lobby of the West Hotel, the
principal Hostelry of Minneapolis at that time. Here it was the subject
of considerable comment.
A franchise was also asked for to lay mains to bring the water to the
heart of the city and to supply users on the route, John T. West and
Thomas Lowry being associates. Only one dissenting vote opposed, but
Mayor Pillsbury vetoed it, the rates asked not being satisfactory. In a
second effort Phillip Winston was a partner; and still later a third
attempt was made, Mr. Winston then being mayor; but then not interested,
he vetoed it
In 1885 they began to deliver water in jugs. An ice plant was added and
ever since then the business has grown until it has now assumed large
proportions. In 1896 Mr. Fruen retired, his son William F. Fruen
becoming the head of the business, now known as the Glenwood-Inglewood
The Fruen Milling Company is another project which was started by William
H. Fruen. About 1890 he experimented with steam rolling wheat from which
only the exterior bran had been removed, and which was then packaged and
sold through grocers as a breakfast cereal.
The company was incorporated in 1894 as the Fruen Cereal Company. Later
as the business broadened, the name was changed to the Fruen Milling
The old machine shop, in which were first manufactured screws, then water
wheel governors and the coin operated dispensing machines, had been
converted to a mill in the early part of the twentieth century when it
was still using the water power with the assistance of a steam engine.
In 1909 this cereal mill was turned over to the management of another
son, Arthur B. Fruen, who is still active in the company; now holding the
position of Chairman of the Board.
Mr. Fruen's house stood on an elevation on the bank of Bassett's Creek,
and here he was occupied with history, politics, philosophy sociology and
religion. His experiences a manufacturer made him and ardent free
trader, his views appearing in pamphlets which he wrote. He was a member
of the First Baptist Church of Minneapolis. He died in October, 1917.
(Written by Arthur B. Fruen in 1960. The above sketch came about as as
result of a request from Frederick Fried of New York who was researching
and writing a book about the development of coin dispensing machines It
owes much to The History and Biography of Minneapolis and Hennepin
County, Minnesota, By Holcombe.)
Pure, refreshing and great-tasting spring water is the hallmark of the
Glenwood-Inglewood company. Our story starts in 1884 when William Fruen,
a machinist, built his factory on Bassett's Creek at the edge of
Minneapolis. In his leisure time, William was an avid fisherman so he
decided to construct a pond to keep his catches alive until he was ready
to eat them.
While excavating for the pond, he hit a flow of spring water. The high
quality of the crystal clear water prompted William to abandon his pond
project and deliver his find to Minneapolis homes. Because the spring was
in a glen surrounded by woods, William called it Glenwood Spring. The
company operated under this name until Inglewood Spring was acquired and
the name changed to the Glenwood-Inglewood Company.
Today, homes and offices throughout the Upper Mid-West enjoy the delivery
of delicious drinking waters. The company also delivers the highest
quality distilled water to homes, druggists and industrial customers.
From water.com downloaded January 2001
What is this database for?
What is this database for?
This database contains a collection of some of the thousands of bits of information about Frewin's, Frewin's, Fruin's and Fruen's etc that are publicly available in family archives, Census's, the IGI, Parish Records and similar sources.
In many instances, we have attempted to make some sense of the various fragments and give an outline of the most likely family structure as we currently understand it based on the limited information available.
Given the sheer amount of transcription work needed to create a database of individuals, and the very sparse nature of the evidence found in many early records, there will certainly be mistakes in this database!
The intention is that any mistakes will be ironed out as more information becomes available about the various individuals.
Therefore, please do not assume that the information found on this database is absolutely correct! Use the source information privided to check the record yourself and let us know if there are any corrections needed.
If you have information about any of the individuals on this database that is not already mentioned in the record, please contact us so that we can amend or correct the entry concerned.
The database is very much a work in progress. Please treat the information provided accordingly.
For further information, contact: Lawrence Frewin