McKenna Process Company
Plant formerly located in Joliet, Illinois - ca. 1920.
  The McKenna Company's First Accounting Records
by George Langford, III
March 1, 2007
George Langford, Sr. kept a meticulous record of all the paleontological and archaeological specimens that he collected (at least, up until August 19, 1919) in a ledger book apparently discarded by the McKenna company upon transferring the data to a more suitable medium.  The ledger entries start on August 17, 1897, and end on June 30, 1898.  There are [only] four pages, reproduced in their entirety below.  These are not the complete records, of course, because there are no payroll entries.

Not quite the same as the standard, framed first dollar earned, but pretty close for a company that started business in 1897.  Apparently, the McKenna Process Company shipped the first batch of almost 125 tons of re-rolled rails on August 30, 1897, to the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad.  That particular customer shouldn't be much of a surprise to historians of the McKenna company, because Edward W. McKenna was Chief Engineer of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul as well as the inventor of the process by which the rails were remanufactured and a principal investor in the McKenna process Company. 
George, Sr. started work at McKenna in March, 1898.
Page 2 of McKenna company ledger August 17 - December 31, 1897
Page 3 of McKenna company's ledger August 17 - December 31, 1897

The two pages reproduced above record, for examples:

Two tons, 140 pounds of coal at $3.25 per ton, totalling $6.73 on August 17, 1897.
Shipment on October 31st of 124.890 tons of rails to the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul RR, totalling $764.38 but recorded as $746.38, for which an $18.00 correction was made (I think - George, III).
Three shipments of rails to the Pennsylvania Lines West of Pittsburgh on the A.T.S.F. (Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe) for which freight of $88.75, $55.96 & (?) was paid.
Rail crop ends sold on November 30th for $216.34; Scrap rails sold the same day for $305.01, etc.
An entry on December 31st is for a rebate from the E.J & E. RR of $50.00 on 1,987 cars switched at a dollar each.  That's about 20,000 tons of rails processed in the first year of operation, assuming two trips per car and 20 tons per car.  By 1900, 80,000 tons of rerolled rails from the McKenna company were in use.
The  entries below (apparently in miscellaneous accounts) are for refunds, adjustments, reimbursements, etc.  Examples:

A credit to D.H. Lentz of $4.60 for cigars January 1, 1898 (cancelled ?).
A debit to E.W. McKenna of 50 cents for telegrams, also on January 1st.
A debit of $1.00 to the E.J. & E. (Elgin, Joliet and Eastern) for switching a car.
An abatement of $4.96 credited from the A.T.S.F. on a rail shipment.
A correction of $27.43 credited from the Bates Machine Company on June 30th because an entry was made twice. 
Werden Buck is still a brick manufacturer in Joliet.
Heggie Bros. of Joliet is listed on page 61 of the Mechanical Index (Industrial Press, New York, 1905) as a tubular boiler manufacturer.
Bates was located across the street from McKenna; the Bates building still stands.
Page 4 of McKenna ledger January 1 - June 30, 1898
Page 5 of McKenna company ledger January 1 - June 30, 1898