Phelps Can Company

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
July 6, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 455-456

THE PHELPS CAN COMPANY is one of the several estab-
lishments that have made an important industrial com-
munity at Weirton in Hancock County, practically
surrounding the historic old village of Holliday’s Cove
with factories, teeming population and all the institutions
and improvements of twentieth century existence.

This plant was established at Weirton in the spring of
1911 by the president of the original company, W. J.
Phelps of Baltimore. At that time the plant started with
a capacity of 350,000 cans daily and about a hundred em-
ployes. Subsequent additions and improvements have
trebled the capacity, and employes now number about 350,
with a payroll of about $6,500 a week. The tinplate is
obtained from the adjacent Weirton Steel Works, the an-
nual consumption being between 600,000 and 700,000 boxes
of tin plates. The plant at Weirton makes a specialty
of tin containers for evaporated and condensed milk, the
output being sold to condensaries all over the United States
and Canada.

The company is capitalized at $50,000. The president
and treasurer of the corpoartion [sic] at Baltimore is W. J.
Phelps, the vice president and secretary is Forest Bramble,
of the same city, while the executive in charge at Weirton
is J. Howd Phelps, assistant treasurer and manager. This
company maintains four plants, one at Baltimore, another
at New Philadelphia, Ohio, the one at Weirton, and another
established in 1921 at Clarksburg, West Virginia. Mr. J.
Howd Phelps and Mr. J. B. Dresel, the superintendent,
started the plant at Weirton and have been in active
charge ever since. The plant has floor space of 110,000
square feet, about two and a half acres, and a double rail-
road track runs the entire length of the factory.

The Phelps family have been pioneers in can manufac-
ture. W. J. Phelps as a boy made cans by the hand
process before the introduction of any of the complicated
machinery now used in can making. He started his first
can factory at Baltimore about 1890. The Phelps Can
Company now stands third in the United States in relative
size and importance, and is probably the first in a special-
ized output for packers.

J. Howd Phelps was eighteen years of age when he en-
tered the shops of the Baltimore plant, and has grown up
in the business. He is a Mason, is affiliated with the
Scottish Rite Consistory at Wheeling, is a member of the
Weirton Masonic Club, and belongs to the Scottish Rite
Orchestra at Wheeling and also a similar orchestra at
Steubenville, Ohio. Mr. Phelps, whose home is at Holli-
day’s Cove, married Sarah Marie Turner, a native of New
York State. Their four children are Dorothy, Howd, Jr.,
Marjorie and Virginia.