The early history of the Roper Company is truly a triumph of American grit over adversity.
George D. Roper, was challenged from childhood by the loss of his left arm in a train accident. He chopped wood and performed other duties as well as other boys with two
good hands, asking no consideration because of having only one arm.
In 1889 at age 34, George D. Roper founded the Roper legacy with the purchase of a 50% interest in the Van Wie Gas Stove Company of Cleveland, Ohio. He persuaded them
to move to Rockford, Illinois, operating as Secretary and Treasurer to company president P.G. Van Wie.
As the U.S. moved into Depression in the early 1890’s, the Van Wie plant passed into trusteeship. George Roper was to operate as trustee until the obligations against the plant
were paid off, at which time the Gas Stove Works would become his sole property. All debts were liquidated fully on September 1, 1894. Ten days later, the institution was
entirely destroyed by fire.