The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.
This cast-iron parlor cook stove was manufactured at Excelsior Stove Works in St. Louis, a factory established by Giles F. Filley in 1849. Filley, a native of Connecticut, was one of many eastern-born men and women who moved to St. Louis around the mid-19th century. This influx, combined with the arrival of immigrants from Germany and Ireland, transformed the makeup of St. Louis in just a few decades. The shift in the city’s demographic played an important role in the Civil War in Missouri as many of these new St. Louisans were fervent supporters of Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party and determined opponents of slavery. Filley exemplifies this trend. In fact, he helped Colonel Frank Blair Jr. establish the Republican Party in Missouri. Filley also armed a group of his employees to fight for the Union cause, established a newspaper called The Union to support Lincoln, and used his stove factory to produce cannons for Federal forces.