For its contribution to the war effort in World War I by its three major industries (Walworth, Kewanee Boiler and Boss), the city of Kewanee was honored by the naming of a United States government freighter the “SS Kewanee.”
The ship was launched on June 7, 1919 at Elizabeth, N.J. with a delegation from Kewanee invited to attend. Miss Clara Dossche, a 19-year-old employee in the molding room at Walworth Kewanee Works, was chosen to christen the ship since many Walworth products were used in the ship.
At the launching ceremony attended by 50 Kewaneeans, P.A. Waller, Boss Co. president, spoke on behalf of Kewanee.
The “Kewanee” was 335 feet long with 5,000 tons of displacement and was used by the Emergency Fleet Corporation, a U.S. government agency. The ship continued to serve through the end of World War II until it was scrapped in 1946.
The broken champagne bottle used to christen the ship can be seen at the Kewanee Historical Society museum.
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