Area riverbeds are rich with mussels whose shells, when polished, have a luster suitable for processing into "pearl" buttons. In the late 19th century, mussels were harvested by brailing from the river bottoms; they were then cooked in vats for meat removal, and the shells were stockpiled on the riverbanks for shipment to the button factories. For many years, shell~diggers camps and hugh piles of shells could be seen along the banks of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. The pearl button business became an important local industry when Capt. Lois Igert, Sr. moved his family to Paducah in 1920, and established the McKee Button Co. on S. 3rd Street. By 1928, National Button Producers Association proclaimed Ingert's business "the largest producers of freshwater buttons in the world".