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G-Shaft Candy

G-Shaft candy originated in Braidwood, Illinois in the late 1800's. Harriet and William Williamson came to Braidwood in 1872, where William worked as a hoisting engineer at the Chicago & Wilmington Coal Company's "I" shaft. Tragedy struck in September of 1881 when William died from injuries sustained when the engine house roof collapsed. Harriet, now widowed, with no income and several children to support, turned to an old family recipe to make a living. When she had left England to immigrate to the United States, her father gave her the recipe for a hard, brown candy "Bull's Eye," reportedly telling her that she may need it someday to support herself.

 

 

Harriet Williamson

Harriet Williamson
 

 

After her husband's death, Harriet and her children began making and distributing the candy to merchants in the Braidwood area. She named in "G. Shaft" after the mine she could see from her kitchen window. In 1893 it became a registered trademark. The hard candy with the distinctive taste and poignant background sold well and became a holiday tradition throughout the coalfields.

 


Chicago, Wilmington & Vermilion Coal Company's "G" shaft mine

Chicago, Wilmington & Vermilion Coal Company's
"G" shaft mine


This is the "G" shaft Harriet Williamson named her candy after. If you look closely at the logo on the box label below and you will see a similar drawing of this mine.

After Harriet's death in 1914, her son Harry and his sons, Harry, Frank and Ralph, continued the family business.
 


 

This is an original label from a box of G. Shaft candy made by the Harry Williamson Candy Co.

 

 

 

Harry Williamson Family, 1912

Harry Williamson Family, 1912

Back Row (L-R): Edna, Harriet, Alfred, Alice, Harry
Middle Row (L-R): William, Martha
Front Row (L-R): Martha Alde Melbourne Williamson, Ruth, Frank, Harry Williamson
Lap: Ralph

 

 

Sugar rationing during the war and the untimely death of Ralph Williamson in the Elwood Ordnance Plant explosion in 1942, ended the family's G-Shaft candy business.

The candy is still made in the area by others, but the original family recipe still remains a closely guarded secret.