Wayne County

History of Sexton Mfg. - Fairfield, IL

Submitted by Randall McDaniel

The Sexton Manufacturing Co. was locted in Fairfield, Illinois. The company was founded by George C. Sexton from St. Louis who took over the Woolen Mills in Fairfield, Illinois, in 1907. The remodled mill made blue shirts and overalls, i.e., men's and boys' work clothes.

In 1909 the company was in financial trouble, but was saved from ruin by Mr. Sexton's brother-in-law, H. G. Ferguson. At this point the Sexton Company began making men's athletic underwear. By 1917 the business was booming. In one week during World War I the company produced 150,000 pairs of underwear for the War Department.

The Sexton boys' waist suits, advertised in 1921, were a boys' version of men's athletic nainsook union suits widely sold by the Sexton Co., but the boys' version featured reinforcement straps, waist buttons for fastening on short trousers, and special tabs for supporters that allowed the garters to be worn either inside or outside the underwear (a feature similar to that of Alheneeds made by Sprague). Almost universally, boys in 1921 needed provision for long stockings.

In 1935 Mr. Ferguson sold stock to workers and local people in Fairfield, Illinois. Then the factory went out of business and most of the investors lost their money.

The Sexton company provided employment and company-built housing for many people in Fairfield, Illinois, and was a major factor in the growth of the town. Sexton summer underwear (mostly union suits and waist union suits) was widely worn by men and boys throughout the United States for about 25 years (1910-35).

1830 Census (A-F)

Wayne County