G-Shaft Candy was also launched by a mining accident. In September 1881 William Williamson was killed in a mine accident in the I-Shaft of the Chicago, Wilmington & Vermillion Coal Company mine in Braidwood. That left his wife, Harriet, a widow with six children. According to the family story, when Harriet left England to join her husband in America, her father gave her a recipe for a hard, brown candy called “bull’s eye,” telling her it might make her a living someday. So, Harriet started making the candy with the help of other miner’s widows. She renamed it “G-Shaft” because that was the mine she could see from her kitchen window. She willed the recipe and trademark to her son, Harry, who set up shop in his home in Minooka, working with his wife and two sons. The business ended in 1942 due to WWII government sugar rationing. However, a copy of G-Shaft candy is made at Dan’s Candy in Joliet and it is a seasonal favorite at Christmas time. It is also made with peppermint and brown sugar, with a slight caramel flavor.
Sue Morse, Harriet Williamson’s granddaughter, donated these cherished candy tools to the Museum. The candy cutter was made by Harriet Williamson’s father and brought here from England. The copper kettle was used by Harriet to bring to candy to a boil on the wood burning stove. Leather mitts were used to handle the scalding pots of candy. Batch scissors were used to cut large pieces.
This desk is from the Morocco Coal Mine located at the junction of Route 6. It was a strip mine started by Ralph and Carl McElvain in 1934. Carl’s son, Jim McElvain, worked as a contractor. He used this desk while he was working on the I-80 construction project.