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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 102: The Birth and Development of Mohawk Valley Inventions and Manufacturing Industries.

[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 1481-1501 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Biographies | Illustrations | Maps | Portraits

Go back to: Chapter 101 | ahead to: Chapter 103

Chronology and history of Mohawk Valley manufactures — 1800-1810, Gloversville leather and glove industry — 1800, Herkimer County cheese manufacture — 1808, Utica city district white goods — 1816, Eliphalet Remington makes first Remington rifle — 1831, Remington Works at Ilion — 1832, First American power knitting mill at Cohoes — 1836, Men's clothing manufacture at Utica — 1840, Westinghouse threshing machine perfected at Central Bridge, first Yale lock made at Newport, manufacture of carpets at Hagaman, removed to Amsterdam, in 1842 — 1842, Stove and furnace works at Utica — 1845, Schenectady locomotive works — 1848, Linseed oil at Amsterdam — 1858, Wagner sleeping car — 1859, Wagner elevated car roof, cotton (and later paper) bag manufacture at Canajoharie — 1863, Knit goods machinery at Cohoes — 1867, Wagner palace car — 1868, Broom factory at Amsterdam — 1869, George Westinghouse invents railroad air brake — 1870, Dairy machinery at Little Falls — 1870, Threshers at St. Johnsville — 1873, Remington typewriter at Ilion — 1874, First magazine rifle at Ilion — 1874, Alfred Dolge locates at Dolgeville (beginning of present felt shoe industry) — 1886, Desk manufacture at Herkimer, Edison Electric Company (now General Electric Company) removes to Schenectady — 1891, Beech-Nut Packing Company at Canajoharie, Charles B. Knox Gelatine Company, Inc., begins at Johnstown — 1897, First Mohawk Valley hydro-electric plant at Dolgeville — 1895, Bicycle manufacture, Little Falls.

The birth and growth of manufactures has frequently gone hand in hand with invention in the Mohawk Valley. This is particularly true of the knit goods industry of Cohoes, the threshing machine works of Schenectady, the General Electric Company and the American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, the Remington Arms Company and the Remington Typewriter Company of Ilion. These subjects are treated more in detail in the different town and city chapters. They are briefly summarized in this chapter, in order to give a comprehensive view of Mohawk Valley industry and invention, both of which have played an important part in American industrial and commercial development.

Grist mills, saw mills, tanneries, blacksmith shops, fulling and carding mills, asheries, etc., were built at nearly all Valley centers, in the settlement period, from 1661 to 1800. Many of these, with the dates of their beginning, are mentioned in the historical chapters of this work. In a number of instances, the time of their establishment is difficult or impossible to obtain. Boatbuilding was a Valley industry from the beginning of the use of the batteaux on the Mohawk about 1725. Schenectady was the seat of this industry. The first great impetus to the Valley manufacturing was given by the building of the Erie Canal.

Following is a chronology of Mohawk Valley manufacturing, inclusive of the manufacture of dairy products. This does not cover all the industries of the six Mohawk Valley counties, but it does include the principal industries, in which the great majority of the wage earners of the valley are engaged. This chronology gives at a glance the beginnings and development of the leading manufactures.

1666 — Sweer Teunis Van Velsen opens the first grist mill in the Mohawk Valley on Mill Lane Kill in Schenectady. This was the beginning of the present great industrial development of the Mohawk Valley. Part of this old mill forms a portion of a barn (in 1925) back of Burger's store on State Street, Schenectady. The author does not know the date or place of operation of the first valley sawmill, but one was probably started near Schenectady soon after Van Velsen's mill. There were several small industries in Schenectady when it was burned in the massacre of 1690.

1800 — Plow factory at Mohawk.

1800 (about) — Manufacture of cheese for outside markets begun in Mohawk Valley. Dairying became a large valley industry about 1825. Cheese making for market purposes was introduced into the Mohawk Valley by New England immigrants into the Mohawk Valley, principally in Herkimer County.

1800 (about) — Leather and glove industry started at present Gloversville.

1807 — Manufacture of woolen cloth begun at Frankfort.

1808 — Manufacture of white goods (cotton cloth) begun at New York Mills. This was the beginning of the great textile industry of the present Utica city district.

1809 — James Burr and Tallmadge Edwards start business of dressing leather and making leather mittens in Kingsboro (now Gloversville), Fulton County; this was the first important development of the leather and glove industry of Fulton County.

1811 — Manufacture of cotton cloth begun at Oriskany. Broadcloth was later made in the factory. It now makes paper maker's felt.

1813 — Judd Pottery Works started at Rome.

1816 — Eliphalet Remington makes his first gun barrel and rifle on his father's farm at Crane's Corners, Herkimer County.

1820 — Manufacture of plows begun at Utica.

1822 — Ephraim Hart foundry started at Utica. Now the Hart and Crouse heater works.

1823 — Grist mill and an iron foundry opened at Utica.

1823 — Worthington hat factory opened at Rome.

1826 — Pottery works opened at Utica.

1830 — Harry Burrell of Salisbury, Herkimer County, makes first shipment of cheese to England (ten thousand pounds).

1831 — Eliphalet Remington, Jr., opens forge for manufacture of gun barrels and firearms at Ilion, Herkimer County.

1832 — Timothy Bailey and Egbert Egberts invent a frame for knit goods manufacture, operated by power, at Cohoes in 1832. Knit goods machines had been hand operated prior to this invention.

1832 — Manufacture of knit goods begun at Cohoes by Egberts and Bailey; probably the inception of the knit goods business of the country; the Mohawk Valley now (1914) being the center of American knit goods manufacture.

1836 — Manufacture of axes and other edge tools begun in Cohoes.

1836 — Manufacture of ready-made clothing begun at Utica.

1836 — Manufacture of cotton cloth (white goods) introduced at Cohoes by Peter Harmony, a Spaniard, who founded the Harmony Mills Company.

1840 — Threshing machine invented by George Westinghouse, Sr., at Central Bridge, Schoharie County.

1840 — Manufacture of ingrain carpets begun at Hagaman's Mills by Wait, Green & Company; later J. Sanford & Son of Amsterdam.

1840 — Yale locks made first at Newport (industry removed later).

1842 — Manufacture of woolen goods begun at Little Falls.

1842 — Stove and furnace manufacture begun at Utica (start of the great furnace and heating industry there located).

1842 — Carpet mill at Hagamans removed to Amsterdam (beginning of Amsterdam's great rug and carpet industry).

1844 — Manufacture of matches started at Frankfort. Concern later merged and business discontinued.

1845 (about) — Manufacture of yarn begun at Little Falls.

1845 — Manufacture of railroad steam locomotives begun at Schenectady.

1846 — First kid glove factory of Johnstown established. Gloves were previously made in the homes of Johnstown and Gloversville.

1847 — Manufacture of woolens begun at Utica.

1848 — Manufacture of linseed oil begun at Amsterdam.

1848 — Manufacture of cotton cloth (white goods) begun at Utica; now (1914) largest center of this industry in New York State and the chief textile center of the United States.

1850 — First solid steel gun barrel made in the Remington works at Ilion.

1851 — Manufacture of locomotive headlights started at Utica.

1852 — Iron works started at Utica.

1857 — Manufacture of knit goods begun at Amsterdam.

1858 — Webster Wagner of Palatine Bridge invents the Wagner sleeping car.

1859 — Webster Wagner invents the railroad car elevated roof with ventilators.

1859 — Manufacture of cotton and paper bags begun at Canajoharie.

1861 — Steam gauges made at Utica.

1862 — Firearms factory started at Utica (later developed into the great Savage arms factory which helped the allies win the World war with the Lewis machine gun made here).

1863 — Manufacture of knit goods begun at Utica.

1863 — Manufacture of knit goods machinery on a large scale begun in Cohoes.

1863 — Remington breech loading rifle perfected at Ilion.

1865 — Manufacture of furniture begun at Fort Plain.

1866 — First wood pulp paper made in America manufactured at Herkimer by (later U. S. Senator) Warner Miller.

1867 — Webster Wagner invents railroad parlor car.

1868 — Cap manufacture at Utica.

1868 — Blood's broom factory established at Amsterdam; first large broom factory of that city.

1869 — George Westinghouse, Jr., invents the railroad air brake at Schenectady.

1869 — Dairy supplies business (D. H. Burrell & Co.) started at Little Falls. Manufacture of dairy machinery begun about 1870.

1870 — Threshing machine manufacture begun at St. Johnsville.

1870 — Manufacture of springs and axles started at Fort Plain; removed to Chicago Heights, Illinois, in 1894. This business started in the old Van Horne mill at Van Hornesville, later removed to Springfield and came to Fort Plain in 1874.

1871 — Iron works and machine shop started at Whitesboro.

1872 — Manufacture of knit goods begun at Herkimer.

1872 — Manufacture of knit goods begun at Little Falls.

1873 — Manufacture of leather begun at Little Falls.

1873 — Manufacture of Remington typewriters from the Sholes model begun at Ilion.

1874 — First Remington typewriters put on the market.

1874 — First (Lee) magazine rifle perfected at Remington works in Ilion.

1874 — Alfred Dolge locates at Dolgeville and begins manufacture of felt goods, etc.

1878 — Manufacture of brass begun at Rome, Oneida County.

1879 — Iron foundry started at Oriskany.

1880 — Paper makers' felt made at Oriskany.

1880 — Silk manufacture begun at Fort Plain. Factory burned in 1884.

1880 (about) — Myers balloon factory and "farm" started at Frankfort.

1882 (about) — Butter color and dairy preparations started at Little Falls.

1883 — West Shore railroad repair shops located at Frankfort; later removed to Depew, near Buffalo.

1885 (about) — Broom band factory started at Fort Plain.

1886 — Worsted manufacture begun at Utica.

1886 — Manufacture of desks and typewriter cabinets begun at Herkimer.

1886 — General Electric Company moves to Schenectady.

1887 — Manufacture of copper begun at Rome, Oneida County.

1887 — Manufacture of knit goods begun at Fort Plain.

1888 (about) — Hose band factory started at Fort Plain.

1889 — Manufacture of player pianos and piano actions begun at St. Johnsville.

1890 — Burial casket factory started at Utica.

1890 — Knit goods manufacture begun at Whitesboro.

1891 — Manufacture and packing of foodstuffs begun at Canajoharie.

1891 — Charles B. Knox begins manufacture of gelatine at Johnstown (now Charles B. Knox Gelatine Co., Inc.).

1892 — Manufacture of knit goods begun at St. Johnsville.

1892 — Silk manufacture again started at Port Plain by Duffy Brothers (now Duffy Silk Company, Inc.), with large factories in Buffalo.

1895 — Manufacture of bicycles begun at Little Falls (now H. P. Snyder Mfg. Co.).

1897 — First hydro-electric power plant in the Mohawk Valley established at High Falls on East Canada Creek at Dolgeville.

1898 — Knit goods manufacture begun at Mohawk.

1905 — Felt shoe factory started at Little Falls.

1920 (about) — Felt shoe manufacture started at St. Johnsville.

1921 — Heater and furnace factory started at Whitesboro. (Utica Heater Company removed from Utica.)

1923 — Radiator factory opened at Utica.

We have seen, in this review of events, the development of manufacture in the Mohawk Valley. Its inventions and the development of its manufactures are here briefly summarized.

With regard to the foregoing Mohawk Valley manufacturing chronology, the author would say that it has been impossible to obtain information as to the beginning of a number of valley industries. Requests for information along these lines were widely published in the newspapers of the Mohawk Valley, in connection with the announcement of the publication of the History of the Mohawk Valley — Gateway to the West — and thus every opportunity was afforded manufacturers for the inclusion of such data, regarding their industries, in this work.

1805-1809 — Fulton County's glove and leather industry first started. Beers' "History of Montgomery and Fulton Counties" (1878) on page 175, gives a history of the origin of the glove and leather dressing business in Fulton County. It is in part as follows:

The business started first, as such, in Kingsboro (now on the northern limits of Gloversville) in 1809. That village and the surrounding country was originally settled by people from New England, many of whom were skilled in the manufacture of tin. They were of genuine Yankee stock, cute and industrious and unlike their Dutch neighbors along the Mohawk, took more naturally to manufacture and to trade than to farming. Hence they were accustomed to manufacture tin, load a horse with it and, leading the beast up the Mohawk and "Chenango country," as it was then called, would exchange the tinware for wheat, also for any other products which they needed or could readily sell.

The deer skins, one of which they generally bought for a medium sized tin basin, were sometimes rather a burden, for they were not used for much else than jackets and breeches, being prized more particularly for the latter purpose, because of their lasting qualities — no small consideration in those days of comparative poverty, economy and hard work.

The inhabitants had learned to tan the skins for clothing, according to the Indian process, using the brain of the deer itself, when convenient, but at this time often substituting the brains of hogs for that purpose. It is said that the brains of a deer will tan the hide, containing as it does the same elements as the "soda ash" fat liquor in use at the present day. * * *

About 1809 Tallmadge Edwards, formerly a leather-dresser in England, * * * moved from Massachusetts to Johnstown. In that year James Burr * * * hired Edwards to come to Kingsboro and teach them his art of dressing leather. Mr. Burr, in 1809, made up a few pairs of mittens which he took up the Mohawk and bartered off. In the following year he made a considerable number and sold at least part of them by the dozen, the first transaction of the kind. He subsequently made material improvements in the process of dressing skins, the most noticeable of which was the invention of the "bucktail," for which he received a patent. The apparatus is still in use, but the invention, like many others, proved rather a loss than otherwise to the inventor.

At this time, and much later, no gloves were manufactured, but only rough heavy mittens, which were needed to protect the hands of farmers and woodmen in cold and heavy labor. Even the leather which was produced up to a quite recent date (prior to 1878) was unfit for the manufacture of gloves, being too stiff and heavy. As lately as about * * * (1850), it is said, gloves were seldom cut, except an occasional pair, taken from the thinnest and most pliable parts of the skins. Gloves were originally cut, it is said, by laying a pasteboard pattern on the leather and following it with the shears. But very indifferent progress could be made in that way with the elastic leather now in use, and this fact shows the difference in quality quite distinctly. E. P. Newten started, in 1859, the first general machine works in Fulton County for the manufacture of glove and mitten cutting machines. The goods made in earlier days, however uncouth, furnished a good means of disposing of surplus deer skins, which, instead of being a drug on the market, were eagerly sought for, and when made up, were returned, with the next parcel of tinware, to be rebartered to parties from whom the skins had been obtained, besides being put upon the market for sale to any who wished to purchase. Elisha Judson, it is said, carried east, about 1825, the first load of gloves ever driven into Boston. The trip took six weeks.

In justice to others it may be said that the inception of Fulton County's glove business has been ascribed to people other than those mentioned. William C. Mills, in 1805, and Ezekiel Case (a former Cincinnati citizen) in 1806, are said to have started leather dressing and glove making operations. However it is certain that some time, during the years — from 1805 to 1809, the leather dressing and glove making business of Fulton County, began the start of its remarkable later growth.

1808 — Cotton (white goods) manufacturing begins (in the Utica City District) at New York Mills. The first cotton mill in the State of New York was established in Oneida County.

According to the best evidence the earliest cotton mill was located at the site of what is now the lower mill of the New York Mills near the canal in Yorkville, Dr. Seth Capron having established the "infant industry" there in the year 1808. He soon thereafter found an associate in the person of Benjamin S. Walcott and the two began spinning cotton yarn in 1809. With some change in the personnel of this organization the mill operations on March 10, 1810, were incorporated as the Oneida Manufacturing Society. In 1812 the power loom for weaving cotton was introduced into the county and the development of the industry thereafter was but a matter of course. On January 13, 1813, the Whitestown Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Society was organized, Benjamin S. Walcott, Jr., being the directing head, his mill taking over the plant of a grist mill that had been built there in 1796. In 1824 Walcott, acting for Benjamin Marshall of New York, erected a five-story mill at the point now known as New York Mills and began the manufacture of sheeting, this operation giving an impetus to the industry which ever since has been gathering momentum. In 1840 the name "New York Mills" was adopted for this location and enterprise. In 1856 Samuel Campbell, an experienced cotton mill man from Scotland, arrived on the scene and took a hand in operations, which thereafter for some time were carried on under the name of Walcott & Campbell, and the concern was developed on a real going basis. In 1884 this mill was incorporated under the name of the New York Mills Company, with a capital stock of one million dollars, and operations were extended in accordance. Since then many large fortunes have been made out of the cotton mill industry in and about Utica and the products of Utica mills have gone into all lands.

Another growing development along this line was that initiated on March 30, 1810, with the organization of the New Hartford Manufacturing Society and the mill operations under that style were carried on until in 1870 when the New Hartford Cotton Manufacturing Company was organized to take over and extend these operations. The great Utica Cotton Manufacturing Company had its beginning with the organization and incorporation on April 5, 1814, of the Capron Cotton Manufacturing Company, which carried on for many years at Capron in the town of New Hartford and which under the present direction of the Utica Cotton Manufacturing Company maintains mills both at Capron and at Utica. It was in 1848 that the Utica Steam Cotton Mills had their start. This was the first effort made to apply steam to the manufacture of cotton hereabout, water power having held its own even after the beginning of the development of steam power operations in other industries. Steam mills had been found to be successful at other points and a committee of leading citizens of Utica, including Theodore S. Sexton, Silas D. Childs, Alfred Munson, Charles A. Mann, Edmund A. Graham, Andrew S. Pond and Horatio Seymour, took the matter up for investigation with a view to establishing the cotton milling industry at Utica on an entirely new and more profitable and productive basis. On the basis of the report made by this committee a company was organized, new mills were erected and the cotton milling industry in Utica was revolutionized. It only need be said that fortunes ultimately were made by those who were fortunate enough to hold stock in that enterprise. Along in the late '70s and through the '80s the cotton industry in this section grew by "leaps and bounds," and many companies were organized to carry on business along that line, with the result that Utica has come to be known as a greater producer of knit goods and cotton fabrics than any other city in the world, with an annual output of product that certainly would have staggered the imagination of the founders of the business here more than a century ago.

Gloversville and Johnstown form the greatest glove manufacturing center of the United States, 80 per cent. of the gloves of American make being (1925) made in this community.

This enterprise was the beginning of textile manufacturing in the Utica metropolitan district which is now the chief textile center in the United States. The organizers of this cotton cloth manufacturing enterprise were New Englanders like most of the early manufacturers and inventors of the Mohawk Valley. There were exceptions like Webster Wagner of Palatine Bridge, the inventor of sleeping and palace cars, who was of Palatine ancestry. In the main, however, the valley men of both Holland Dutch and Palatine ancestry were farmers or tradesmen or tavern keepers, during the first half of the nineteenth century, which was the great period of manufacturing birth and development, invention and town building and growth. This chapter treats of the first development of our largest Mohawk Valley manufacturing industries. The first cotton cloth was made around Utica. However, an exception is made in that mention is made of the interesting development of cotton cloth manufacture at Cohoes.

In 1912, 4,950 employes were engaged in the white goods manufacturing industry at Utica, according to figures of the New York State Department of Labor. Later statistics are not available.

1831 — Eliphalet Remington establishes an arms factory at Ilion.

In 1831, Eliphalet Remington, Jr., started a forge, at Ilion, Herkimer County, for the manufacture of gun barrels and firearms. He had previously had a small forge on his father's farm at Steele's Creek, Herkimer County. The business developed rapidly and during the years, 1861-65, furnished a large amount of arms to the Union armies, from the Remington factory, at Ilion and a branch factory in Utica. About this time the Remington breech-loading gun was completed. See "Chapter 128 — Ilion."

1832 — Cohoes knitting industry established.

The father of the knitting business in this country was Egbert Egberts. While living in Albany in 1831, he became interested in the making of knit goods. Here he made his primary experiments in the construction of a knitting frame to be operated by power. Timothy Bailey, a practical mechanic, became associated with Egberts in this work of experimentation. Bailey built a wooden frame, which, when turned by hand, accomplished, in a small way, what Egberts desired. A knitting machine had already been invented. One was bought in Philadelphia by Bailey and brought to Albany, and his contrivance was applied, so as to produce knit goods by turning a crank. In 1832 Egberts and Bailey removed to Cohoes. The new machine was arranged to run by water power. Soon eight of these machines were constructed by Timothy Bailey and set in motion. The next step was to commence carding and spinning, thus preparing their own yarn. In this way the foundation was laid for the extensive knit goods business, which is an industry of the greatest importance in the Mohawk Valley, and in the United States as well.

For some time the new invention was kept a secret. The doors were fastened by spring locks. Even General George S. Bradford, who ran the mill by contract, was compelled to make an agreement that he would not enter the knitting room. Timothy Bailey, and a foreman who worked with him, were the only ones who understood the machines.

In 1853 there were three knitting mills in Cohoes, employing 750 hands and producing 45,000 dozen goods annually. In 1883 there were 25 knitting mills in Cohoes, with 177 sets of cards, 595 knitting cylinders and 4,140 operators. $1,600,000 was estimated to have been paid out annually, about this period, to employes in the Cohoes knit goods business. In 1863 the manufacture of knitting machinery was begun on a considerable scale at Cohoes, the birthplace of the knitting industry, which is now one of the two mammoth industries of the valley — knit goods and the making of electrical machinery. In 1912, 17,000 persons were employed in the knit goods industry in the Mohawk Valley. There were factories in nineteen valley towns, with Utica, Amsterdam, Cohoes and Little Falls, the principal points of production in the order named. See "Chapter 108 — The City of Cohoes."

1836 — Cohoes, Harmony Mills (for the manufacture of white goods) established.

Peter Harmony, a Spaniard, was the founder of these mills and from him they have taken their name. Associated with him were many local public-spirited men and capitalists (largely of Dutch ancestry).

The company bought a tract of land about a quarter of a mile south of the Cohoes falls, and in 1837 erected a brick building, 165 feet long, 50 feet wide and four stories high, which complete with water-wheels, flumes, etc., cost $72,000. Three brick blocks were built at the time, just west of the mill and divided into tenements for the use of the operatives. The mill was equipped with the best cotton machinery then in use, and the manufacture of cotton cloth (or white goods) began under the most favorable circumstances. New mills were built in 1844, 1846, 1849, 1853, 1867, 1872.

See the chapter on the City of Cohoes with regards to its industries and water power.

In 1912, 5,650 employes were at work in the white goods factories of the Mohawk Valley, distributed as follows: Utica, 2,750; New York Mills, 1,800; Cohoes, 600; Capron, 250; New Hartford, 150; Little Falls, 100. Utica is the center of this industry for New York State. Later figures are not available.

1840 — Amsterdam carpet industry started.

The story of the carpet industry's location and growth at Amsterdam forms an absorbing chapter in the romance of American business. In 1836 William K. Greene, Sr., met with business reverses in Connecticut and removed to Poughkeepsie, where he met a Scotchman named Douglas, who was a dyer and whose father was a manufacturers of ingrain carpets in Scotland. Mr. Greene thus became interested in carpet manufacture. One day in looking through the New York Herald he saw an advertisement of an old mill and dwelling at Hagaman (north of Amsterdam). Mr. Greene and Mr. Douglas came to Hagaman and rented the property for $100 a year. They purchased six hand looms, loaded them on a sloop for Albany, brought them to Hagaman, and so this great Amsterdam industry began in the year 1840 in its northern suburb — as the result of advertising and of a keen man's eye happening to scan that advertisement. The business was removed in 1842 to Amsterdam and there grew rapidly.

In 1842 William K. Greene withdrew from the firm of Wait, Greene & Company of Hagamans Mills and came to Amsterdam where he started a carpet factory in a small building where now stands the Greene Knitting Company works. A few years later John Sanford acquired an interest in the business, which then removed to the old Harris mill further up the stream. Later Mr. Greene retired from the business and the firm thereafter became known as J. Sanford & Son. In 1853 the senior member retired and Stephen Sanford became sole proprietor. Later on the firm became S. Sanford & Sons and the Sanfords soon built up one of the largest carpet manufactories to the country. Several other carpet making establishments followed.

In 1912, in Amsterdam, 4,100 persons were employed in the manufacture of carpents and rugs. Later figures are not available.

In 1840 the first Yale locks were made at Newport, Herkimer County. As the industry did not continue there it is not given space in this chapter.

1840 — Threshing machine invented and its manufacture begun by George Westinghouse, Sr., at Central Bridge, in Schoharie County. Westinghouse had his first machine shop in the Township of Florida, Montgomery County. He later removed to Central Bridge, where his business increased to such an extent that he moved his factory to Schenectady in 1856. The manufacture of threshers was an important business there for many years. The Westinghouse shop was on the site of the International General Electric Company office in Schenectady.

1845 — The Schenectady Locomotive Works. (American Locomotive Company.)

About 1845 Schenectady became interested in the manufacture of locomotives. Some enterprising citizens, among them Hon. Daniel D. Campbell, Simon C. Groot and others, conceived the idea of here erecting locomotive works. Associated with the incorporators was John Ellis, "one of the shrewdest, ablest, hardheaded, Scotchmen and skillful mechanics the state has ever known." The Norris brothers of Philadelphia, about as eminent locomotive builders as lived in the land, came to take control of the little plant. The Norrises started well, but for some reason, made a bad failure in the end. The stockholders took charge in 1850. A disagreement occurred, in fact grew chronic among the shareholders. Ellis (the original practical man of the company) had the strength of his convictions and, when disputes arose, would not give way. He was the only real mechanic of the outfit and believed he understood his business. The stockholders endeavored to get rid of him but with true Scottish tenacity he stuck to the works. Walter McQueen was associated with Ellis, and McQueen was a grand mechanic, understanding every phase of the business. The McQueen engine soon became known all over the United States. One of them, purchased by the government, rolled into Fairfax Court House, one fine afternoon in the fall of 1862, when the 134th was lying there drilling for the awful experience they were to undergo. The Schenectady men recognized an old friend and, swarming about it, patted it like a horse and would have hugged it if they could. The genius of McQueen and the business ability of Ellis were building up an immense plant, soon to rival the Baldwins of Philadelphia and the Rogers of Paterson.

See the chapter on the American Locomotive Company at Schenectady.

1858-59 — Webster Wagner invents the Wagner Sleeping Car and elevated car roof with ventilators.

Palatine Bridge was the home of Webster Wagner (1817-1882), a prominent railroad man of the mid-nineteenth century. Mr. Wagner manufactured one of the first practicable sleeping cars made in America. In 1858 Mr. Wagner formed a company and four cars were produced, which began running over the New York Central railroad, September 1, 1858. Finding the cars' occupants suffered from defective and insufficient ventilation, Mr. Wagner in 1859, invented the elevated car roof, placing ventilators in the elevation. This invention which has worked so much for the benefit and comfort of the traveling public, has had a general and world-wide adoption. In 1867 Wagner produced the first drawing room coach or palace car. Pullman introduced a similar type in Europe and about 1890 the two companies producing the Wagner and Pullman cars were merged into one concern under the name of the Pullman Palace Car Company.

1859 — Arkell & Smith's sack factory at Canajoharie.

The history of sack making and printing at Canajoharie is interesting. Mr. James Arkell was raised on his father's farm east of Canajoharie. He was a ready writer and frequently contributed to the Canajoharie Radii, conducted by Levi Backus, a deaf mute. Later Mr. Arkell purchased, conducted and edited the Radii. About 1859, James Arkell made the first cotton bags and had them printed in the Radii office. He interested others and the firm of Arkell & Smith was formed. The business was confronted with failure during the Civil war, because of the scarcity of cotton. James Arkell then introduced the paper sack. He had great difficulty in getting the trade to adopt it but eventually succeeded. The company occupies large modern factories in Canajoharie and turns out bags by the most modern engraving, printing and color processes. Stretchable paper bags form one of Senator Arkell's inventions. (See biography of Senator James Arkell in the Biographical Section.)

1869-1870 — Dairy machinery manufacture begun at Little Falls.

David H. Burrell began the sale of dairy supplies in Little Falls in 1869. About 1870 he commenced the manufacture of certain dairy articles and this business has grown until it is now the largest factory producing dairy machinery in the world. It is conducted under the name D. H. Burrell & Co. See "Chapter 125 — The City of Little Falls."

1869 — Westinghouse air brake perfected at Schenectady.

The Westinghouse Company located in 1856 at Schenectady. Here George Westinghouse, Jr., created and perfected the Westinghouse airbrake, patenting it in 1869. For some reason, the elder Westinghouse considered his son's airbrake impracticable and would not back it. Being unable to secure other aid, George Westinghouse, Jr., went to the Pennsylvania Railroad, which adopted his invention, after which he located his factory in Pittsburgh.

George Westinghouse, Jr., also invented devices for high tension electrical transmission. He established the Westinghouse Company.

[Photo: The First Practical Typewriter]

1873 — Remington Typewriter Model No. 1 made at Ilion.

In 1873 the Remington works at Ilion made the first practicable commercial typewriter from the model invented by Christopher Latham Sholes of Milwaukee, Wis. Since 1714, many "typewriters" have been made but the Remington Model 1 was the first commercially successful typewriter and thus, in 1873, one of the greatest inventions of the age, was perfected at Ilion in the Mohawk Valley. See "Chapter 128 — Ilion."

James P. Lee designed the first military rifle with the bolt type cartridge chamber, the parent of the military rifle of today. The model was made at Ilion and tools and machinery made there for its manufacture in quantities. It afterwards became the basis for the British army rifle, the Lee-Metford and the Lee-Enfield, which were made here in Ilion in vast quantities for England during the World war, as well as for use in the American Expeditionary Force in France (1917-1918).

The Remington double-barreled breech-loading shotgun was here developed as well as a hammerless breech-loading pistol and a magazine pistol and a magazine pump rifle. Vernier and wind gauge sights, attached to any rifle, were here manufactured.

The Remingtons' activities covered too wide a field, with adequate financial returns along but a few lines. The period from 1878 to 1882 was one of financial embarrassment for the firm, and their interests finally got into other hands. For a full account of the first Remington typewriter and the varied inventions and machines perfected in the Remington works see the Chapter on Ilion.

1874 — Dolgeville felt manufacturing established.

In 1874, Alfred Dolge, a young German who was engaged in the importing of piano material in New York, and who also had started the domestic manufacture of piano felt in Brooklyn, came up to Dolgeville, prospecting for spruce wood, which is used in the manufacture of piano sounding boards. He purchased the tannery property and, in April, 1875, began his manufacturing operations, which later developed into the largest of their kind in the United States and included (1893) felt mills, felt shoe factories, factories for piano cases, piano sounding boards, piano hammers and lumber yards. Alfred Dolge subsequently failed and removed to California, where he founded another Dolgeville. His industries in Dolgeville (Herkimer and Fulton counties) have been continued by others and the felt shoe industry is now the largest of its kind in New York state. (See the chapter on Dolgeville.)

In 1912, in Dolgeville, 713 persons were engaged in the manufacture of felt articles and in Oriskany, 120, making a total for the felt industry of the Valley of 833 employes. Later figures are not available.

1878 — Rome brass industry. 1887 — Rome copper industry.

In 1878 the manufacture of brass began at Rome and in 1887 the manufacture of copper began there. These are among the largest of the Valley industries. In 1912, in the Rome brass works, 1,800 employes were engaged; in Rome copper works, there were 600 hands employed.

1886 — Desk manufacture at Herkimer.

In 1886 a factory at Herkimer started the manufacture of Typewriter cabinets for the Remington Typewriter Co., of Ilion. This has developed into the largest desk factory in the world and other desk factories have also started in Herkimer.

1886 — The General Electric Company comes to Schenectady.

In 1886 there came a corporation to Schenectady which was destined to make it the chief electrical manufacturing center of the world. The Jones Car Works of Green Island had come to Schenectady (in 1872) and had established a plant on the present site of the General Electric Company. It failed (in 1884) and went into the hands of a receiver. Under the direction of the court, its real estate was offered for sale. Hon. John A. DeRemer, the receiver, obtained an order from the court for the sale of the property for $45,000. The attention of the Edison Machine Works of Georck Street, New York City, was attracted to it and negotiations were entered into. The company, then by no means a large corporation, examined the situation and was struck by its advantages. Its directors discovered that they could not get in New York what they needed. Here then were railroad and canal connections, with all points of the compass at the door of their shops, and opportunities for experimental work along the bank of the canal were unequalled anywhere. But they would give but $37,000 for the whole outfit. The citizens took hold of the matter and private and personal subscription soon made up the $45,000. The original industry grew, daily increasing its output enormously and bringing work and workmen to the town. A connection was formed with the Thomson-Houston Co., with large plants in Lynn, Mass., and Orange, N. J. The works doubled in size and business. Like all factory towns a great number of cheap saloons sprang up on Kruesi Avenue, leading to the General Electric Works. The General Electric Company established its own restaurant in its works and desired to close up this street of saloons, besides which the company needed the land for the enlargement of its own works.

In 1899 the citizens of Schenectady raised $30,000 by subscription, the street was purchased and given to the General Electric Company, the gift guarded only by the promise that if the plant removed from Schenectady, the property was to revert to the subscribers to the fund. The corporation soon showed its appreciation of this generosity of the people by a subscription of $15,000 to the local public library and by many later public benefactions.

In 1897, the General Electric Company did a business of $11,170,319; in 1901, of $27,969,541. Sixty per cent of this business was done at Schenectady. In 1901, the employes of the company at Schenectady numbered 7,651, with a pay roll of $100,000 per week.

In 1912, in the General Electric Company's works at Schenectady, 17,000 persons were employed.

The General Electric Works of Schenectady in 1924 employed more operatives than any other manufacturing enterprise in New York State. The highest number employed in any year up to this date has been 26,000. It is the largest electric works in the world and one of the country's largest industries.

The Edison Electric Company was formed in 1878 and, prior to its removal to Schenectady, in 1886, was located on Goerck Street, New York City. In 1889, this company was merged into the Edison General Electric Company, which in 1892, was consolidated with the Thomson-Houston Electric Company of Lynn, Mass., the new organization being known as the General Electric Company, the growth of which, especially after 1900, was very rapid. The General Electric Company has now (1921) at Schenectady, 301 buildings with 523 acres of ground and 21 miles of standard gauge and 11 miles of narrow gauge electric railroad tracks. It has (1921) 128 acres of factory floor space.

In 1922 the General Electric Company had factories in 42 cities of America in which 71,000 people were employed. The manufactured product was $30,000,000 in 1892 and $230,000,000 in 1922. The export product of these factories is handled by the International General Electric Company.

When the Edison Company located here it was not a large concern but, with the growth of electrical industry, its development was remarkable. Since 1886 the growth of Schenectady has been coincidental with that of the "G. E." Artificial lightning was produced in 1922 in the G. E. laboratories by Steinmetz. The G. E. is a (1924) center of radio apparatus manufacture and one of America's chief broadcasting stations, "W. G. Y.," established 1922.

See the chapter on the General Electric Company.

The woodworking establishments of Herkimer, including desks, house and office furniture, and wood trim, employed 1,202 hands in 1912.

1891 — Beech-Nut Packing Company, at Canajoharie.

The model food packing factory of the world is the Beech-Nut Packing Company of Canajoharie referred to above. This great business had its inception in a project of Raymond P. Lipe, a young man of Canajoharie, to establish a ham curing factory. Lipe and John D. Zielley began the business in a small way in 1891. Mr. W. H. Lipe and Mr. Bartlett Arkell later came into the organization.

The company's original name was the Imperial Packing Co. Later the name was changed and the happy selection of the name Beech-Nut was made.

Mr. Bartlett Arkell is now president of the Beech-Nut Packing Co. and Mr. Frank D. Barbour of Canajoharie is its resident manager. The company occupies large model factories in full view of the New York Central Railroad. This, combined with its output, and its progressive advertising, has made the Beech-Nut Packing Co. one of the best known manufacturing organizations in America. A wide range of food delicacies, hard candies, mints, etc., are produced here. Visitors to the Beech-Nut plant are cordially welcomed and guides are always at hand to escort them through the works. The Beech-Nut Cottage is in Palatine Bridge, on the Mohawk Turnpike, here called Grand Street. Hundreds of thousands of tourists pass this point and many of them stop for a "snack" of Beech-Nut dainties, at the pretty little Cottage by the Turnpike. The Beech-Nut Company and its products have made not only the Beech-Nut Company, but Canajoharie as well nationally famous.

About 200 of the 800 employes of the Beech-Nut plant come daily back and forth three miles from Fort Plain, being carried in the large Beech-Nut buses. This has done much to unite the two towns of Fort Plain and Canajoharie in a community of interests.

The Beech-Nut Packing Company has five factories — at Canajoharie, N. Y., Rochester, N. Y., Brooklyn, N. Y., Hamilton, Ont., and San Jose, Cal. The Canajoharie factory is the chief one and the official center of the business.

1891 — Charles B. Knox Gelatine Co., Inc., at Johnstown.

In 1891 Charles B. Knox was a recently married young salesman on the road for a knit goods house. Mr. Knox was ambitious and desirous of operating a business of his own. Discovering an unoccupied factory building in Johnstown, young Mr. and Mrs. Knox combined their small savings, purchased the place and began the manufacture of gelatine. The business prospered, aided largely by Mr. Knox's active advertising efforts. Mrs. Knox had always been actively associated with her husband in the business and, on his death, she assumed charge of the organization. She published a famous cook book, showing the food and dessert uses of gelatine and became widely known as one of America's leading authorities on gelatine as a food and on its processes of manufacture. Mrs. Knox built a model factory at Johnstown, now exclusively used for business and packing and shipping purposes as the gelatine is manufactured in Jersey City. Mrs. Rose M. Knox is now president of the Charles B. Knox Gelatine Co., Inc., with her son, Mr. James E. Knox, as vice president. The Knox Gelatine package and Mrs. Knox's dessert book have done much to make Johnstown known the country over. (See biography of Mrs. Rose M. Knox in Biographical Section.)

1895 — Bicycle manufacturing started in Little Falls.

In 1895 Homer P. Snyder began the manufacture of bicycles at Little Falls. The H. P. Snyder Mfg. Co., is now the largest factory making bicycles in America.

The wood manufacturers of the Mohawk Valley, including the above and other branches, constitute one of the largest industries of the six valley counties. About 2,500 persons were engaged in the wood manufactures in these counties (1912), principally in Herkimer, Oneida and Montgomery, in the order named. Herkimer was the center of this industry and Herkimer County employed nearly four-fifths of the operatives in valley wood manufactures, principally at Herkimer, Little Falls, and Ilion.

Metal manufactures and iron founding employed several thousand people in the Mohawk Valley in 1912, in many widely varying industries, including the making of metal beds and heating apparatus, at Utica, Whitesboro and Rome.

Clothing, millinery, etc., manufactures, in 1912, employed over 1,700 persons in the six Mohawk valley counties, 1,600 of whom were operatives in Utica industries of this character.

Silk manufactures and silk throwing and winding employed, in 1912, over 1,500 persons in the six Mohawk Valley counties.

Food packing and the manufacture of canned goods are important items of Mohawk Valley manufacture. Canajoharie, Rome and Clinton are the chief Valley food packing and canning centers.

Broom factories, in 1912, in the six Mohawk Valley counties employed over 900 operatives. Broom corn growing was at one time an important feature of valley agriculture, but has been entirely discontinued for about twenty years. Broom making machinery and broom appliances are also made in the valley. Amsterdam was the center of Mohawk Valley broom making, over 800 hands being there employed in 1912.

It is impossible to secure later figures than those of 1912 regarding the industries of the Mohawk Valley, inasmuch as the U. S. Census does not itemize industries in towns of less than 10,000 population. The 1912 figures were obtained from the New York State Industrial Directory published by the State Department of Labor. This excellent publication has since been discontinued.

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