William Sobey, the vice president of the J. I. Case Plow Works, has been connected with the implement business for fifty-six years and for a third of a century has been with the Case Company. He entered its employ in a comparatively unimportant capacity but his industry, knowledge of the business, and his power to direct the work of others, led to his advancement from one position to another and for about fourteen years he has held the office of vice president. The greater part of his work has been done as superintendent and designer and he has taken out over thirty different patents on plows all of which are in the name of the company.
His birth occurred in Plymouth, England, on the 4th of January, 1849, and his parents were William and Elizabeth (Harvey) Sobey, the former of whom engaged in farming in England until his demise, in 1851. In 1857 his wife and children went to Canada in company with her brother and she passed away in the Dominion in 1892. When nine years old William Sobey began working upon a farm on his own account and at the age of fourteen learned the blacksmith’s trade. In 1865 he removed to Loda, Iroquois County, Illinois, and for two years worked at his trade. In 1867 he became blacksmith on an immense farm comprising forty-five thousand acres of land in Livingston and Ford counties, Illinois, and belonging to Mike Sullivan. While there Mr. Sobey took apart the plows which had been used and studied them carefully in order to discover why they had not given good satisfaction and found that they were ill-fitted for use in the kind of soil found upon the farm. He designed a new plow and rebuilt the old ones according to the new plans and found that they worked much more efficiently. This accomplishment gained him considerable note and in the spring of 1868 he secured a position in the Decatur Agricultural Works, devoted to the manufacture of plows and from that time until the fall of 1883 was employed in various plow shops. He then accepted a position as foreman in the blacksmith shop of the J. I. Case Plow Works and three years later was promoted to superintendent. He served in that capacity until about 1902 when he was made general superintendent and vice president, which positions he is now filling. He has not only been very successful in supervising the operation of the shops and in securing the co-operation of the men under him, but is also the inventor of many of the improvements found on the Case plows. He has taken out in all thirty patents, all of which are owned by the company.
Mr. Sobey was united in marriage at Decatur, Illinois, on the 19th of September, 1872, to Miss Mary Keane, a daughter of Morris and Hannah (Doyle) Keane. Mrs. Sobey passed away in October, 1913.
Mr. Sobey supported the Republican Party until 1872 and then became a democrat, but in 1896 took issue with some of the policies of that party and again became a supporter of the Republican Party. He votes a republican ticket when national issues are at stake but in other elections votes independently. He is well known in local fraternal circles, belonging to the Elks, the Knights of Pythias and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He is unassuming in manner but those who have been closely associated with him appreciate his loyalty in friendship, his consideration of the rights of others. his sincerity and his unswerving integrity, and there are few men in Racine who have a larger number of true friends than he.