Amos Eaton: Pioneering Educator, Ex-Convict

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Amos EatonOne of the founders of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Amos Eaton, probably doesn’t get sufficient credit for developing new instructional methods relating to the practical application of science, using the radical method of learning by doing, having students experiment and deliver lectures. His initial aim in creating the Rensselaer School was to teach the teachers, and Eaton’s reputation as a speaker on natural philosophy (now the sciences) drew students from distant Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as closer New Yorkers and New Englanders, to the new institute in Troy. The school was a success from the start. In addition to a number of firsts, such as granting the first civil engineering degrees in the nation, Rensselaer may also have been the first college led by someone who had done hard time: Amos Eaton spent nearly five years in prison for forgery.

Eaton was born in Chatham in Columbia in 1776 to a prosperous farm family, and he early on showed an interest in nature and science, performing land surveys at the age of 16. Despite that, after studying natural philosophy at Williams College and dabbling in teaching, he took up the study of law and became a practicing lawyer and land agent, while continuing to develop his knowledge of the sciences, particularly botany.

The “Biographical Record of the Officers and Graduates of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1824-1886,” describes Eaton’s progression delicately:

“He was admitted as an attorney of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, at Albany, October 30, 1802, and soon after established himself as a lawyer and land agent in Catskill, N.Y. Here he remained several years, his position affording him good opportunities for cultivating his growing taste for the natural sciences. In May, 1810, he made in Catskill, it is believed, the first attempt in this country at a popular course of lectures on botany (compiling for the use of his class a small elementary treatise,) for which he was highly complimented by his former teacher, Dr. Hosack, as ‘first in the field,’ saying ‘you have adopted the true system of education, and very properly address yourself to the senses and the memory.’ Here we find Mr. Eaton, at this early day, adopting that mode of instruction which rendered him so pre-eminently successful in inspiring young men with that enthusiasm which assured success.

Owing to a concurrence of circumstances which our limits will not allow us to explain, Mr. Eaton now found his love for the details of his profession diminishing, and his interest in the natural sciences fast growing upon him; and he therefore resolved to abandon the practice of the law, and prepare himself to become an efficient laborer in the congenial pursuits of science.”

So, a thing happened that diminished his love for the details of his profession. That thing was prison. Every web source reports it pretty much the same way: while working as a land agent and surveyor in Catskill in 1811, some form of a land dispute resulted in Eaton being imprisoned for forgery for nearly five years. He was accused by a client of having forged a property release; some articles suggested that it was somehow a political frameup (although there’s little other evidence of any political activity on his part) and that he received less than a fair trial. A review of an Eaton biography in the Knickerbocker News in 1941 says that he served more than four years at Newgate state prison in Greenwich Village, New York City, and that he had received a conditional pardon from Governor Tompkins in 1815 before being fully pardoned by Governor DeWitt Clinton in 1816 (or perhaps 1817). In the conditional pardon, he was exiled from New York State, so he studied botany and mineralogy at Yale College starting in 1815, and then went back to Williams College in 1817 as a lecturer. In 1818, came back to New York, started touring around as a visiting lecturer, and assisted in creating the Troy Lyceum of Natural History.

He then connected with Stephen Van Rensselaer, who engaged him in an agricultural and geological survey of Rensselaer Manor, and that led to a geological survey of the route of the Erie Canal, where he was assisted by a young Joseph Henry. Eventually, Eaton raised the idea of creating a new kind of school to the Patroon, where Eaton would train students in the application of science to the common purposes of life. And the Rensselaer School was born, in 1824.

(There is an article that may explain the DeWitt Clinton and Amos Eaton connection, if you’re a subscriber to the Journal of American History or you have a spare $40 lying around to view it for one day.)

Edgar Smith’s Dry Air Refrigerator

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smith-refrigerator-1876For what seems to be a brief period right around 1876, the Smith Refrigerator Company of No. 7 (later No. 12) James Street in Albany manufactured a dry air refrigerator, essentially a somewhat more sophisticated ice box, that gathered a little bit of attention and a national award, and then (as far as we can tell) disappeared. This ad from 1876 proclaims that Smith’s patented refrigerator was one of the simplest refrigerators made. “Dry, Clean, Light and Cheap. Will keep ice Twenty Days, and fresh meat Two Weeks.”

An 1890 guide by the Baldwin Manufacturing Company gives us an idea of how a dry air refrigerator worked:

“The Cold Air falls to the LOWEST point in Refrigerator through an AIR DUCT, when it enters the Provision Compartment, displacing the LIGHTER AIR, forcing it upward through the Provision Compartment to its highest point, thence escaping through an AIR DUCT into TOP of Ice Room.” (Thus presaging both modern refrigeration and modern attitudes toward capitalization.)

The Smith Refrigerator was awarded twice at the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, in the categories of “Apparatus of Heating, Lighting, etc.” and “Agricultural Machines, Implements of Agriculture, etc.,” and that accomplishment was noted in the Albany papers. On August 11, 1876, the Albany Express featured this article of interest:

“The French Baron Seilliere, who is now at New York with his elegant yacht Surprise, has been looking after that indispensible article of household comfort, a good refrigerator, and after thoroughly canvassing the matter, has ordered of the Smith Refrigerator Co. of this city, through their New York agents, Messrs. Newman & Capron, one of their large size dry air refrigerators of extra finish and style. From the success of this new invention we think the Baron will be Well pleased with his purchase.”

smith-refrigerator-1877The company advertised regularly in 1876 and 1877, and in that latter we find evidence that they have moved beyond the household refrigerator to offer hotel refrigerators, refrigerator rooms, beer coolers, and refrigerator cars. In August 1876, they suffered a fire at a warehouse they used, owned by J.W. Osborn, when an entire block between DeWitt and Lawrence Streets (bounded by the Canal and the railroad) burned; their loss was $500 and tools owned by employees.

But beyond that, we find no further mention of the Smith Refrigerator Company.

The Sale of Hoxsie to Any Armed Persons After Dark Is Prohibited

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Satirical declaration of martial law in Lansingburgh(With special thanks to an alert reader!)

On July 15, 1863, the city of Troy was rocked by a draft riot, generally thought to be the second-worst riot against the Civil War draft (New York City’s riots being the worst). Rioters drove African-American residents out of the city in fear of their lives (and may have killed some), destroyed the offices of the Troy Times, and set fires. Just a week later, however, things had calmed to the point where someone felt comfortable with lampooning the laws put in place to maintain order. It would appear that Lansingburgh, which had not been affected by the riot, had established a night watch, and passed an ordinance to close hotels and restaurants at 11 p.m., which brought a response from someone going by the designation of Major General B.B., Adjutant, S.B. Society, a Republican group. The broadsheet was posted in the village and posted to the New York Express. It purported to be “General Order 38,” a “burlesque” of the local ordinance. The order expressed that the Chief Mogul and Grand High Cockalorem declared martial law because the proprietors of hotels and restaurants in the village were ignoring the order to close, because they “didn’t see it.”

We’re interested especially because of its mention of our namesake, Hoxsie. George Hoxsie was a bottler of several drinks soft and hard, but we can only assume that this is a reference to one of his alcoholic offerings. The Order, printed in the New York Express on August 1, 1863, declares:
1st. All small boys shall be housed at dark, and larger boys soon after.
2d. No citizen will be allowed to carry more than two arms.
3d. Horse cars running after dark shall have their wheels muffled, and not disturb the slumbers of our ever vigilant night watch.
4th. The sale of “Hoxsie” to any armed persons after dark is prohibited.
5th. Milkmen are not allowed to ring their bells and disturb the quiet of our loyal citizens.
6th. Fishmongers are hereby forbid blowing their horns, even if “they don’t sell a fish” in consequence.
7th. Any crowd of two persons or less, will be dispersed by the Military.
8th. Berry-women must get a permit before crying “raspberries,” or cry it at their peril.
9th. All crying babies will be instantly confiscated—in fact any symptom of riot will be squelched.
10th. Dinner bells shall cease to ring the knell of sustenance; and the church bells must be subdued.
11th. Cats on garden walks, and noisy dogs, are respectfully requested to preserve order.
12th. Be it understood that the Major-General commanding, is decidedly in favor of a “draught,” which he will enforce, by the Eternal!
13th. The “S. E. Society,”—in case of any alarm—is to be put into the hands of good and careful nurses, for safe keeping until the danger is over.
The Major-General commanding this division is determined that peace and quiet shall reign supreme in this ancient commonwealth, the “Garden of America.” Burghers are therefore ordered to report any breach of the above orders to the High-cock-a-lo-rum, at his headquarters.
By order of
LANSINGBURGH, July 23d, A. D., 1863.

Was Hoxsie particularly potent after dark? We may never know.

(Thanks to the Lansingburgh Historical Society for its full post on this interesting bit of tomfoolery.)

Pigeon Louis

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Aged Cripple Drinks PoisonFrom a far less sensitive time, the Times-Union ran with this headline in 1903: “Aged Cripple Drinks Poison and Dies.” They were speaking of Louis Slyer, reported as 75, 79 or 80 years old depending on the edition of the paper you read. Slyer was “formerly a well-known resident and property owner of the West End,” who committed suicide in the hallway of a building he had previously owned and lived in for many years on Lexington Avenue. Police speculated that he came to his old home to die; he was living at Cedar Hill in Bethlehem at the time when he took a vaseline jar filled with strychnine back to the old homestead. The details reported were fairly grisly, but the next day, Sept. 24, 1903, the Times-Union provided a little more about Slyer, who was known as Pigeon Louis:

“Pigeon Louis’” Death.

In the death of Louis Slyer, who committed suicide, the West End loses one of its best known characters. For years he has been known as “Pigeon Louis” because of his fondness for pigeons. At one time he had no less than a thousand pigeons, while his ambition was for even a larger number. He was eccentric in many ways, and it is said that he lost his leg in an effort to drive rheumatism out of the limb. Somebody told him to “bake the leg” and he put it in an oven, baking it so badly that it had to be amputated. Despondency is given as the cause of his suicide.

A character, indeed. In 1874, he was fined $3 for assault and battery. In 1876, Slyer got into a fight with his son-in-law Conrad Emsler, who had been separated from his wife for two years. Emsler showed up unbidden at Slyer’s home on Second Street, near Perry, but was sent on his way. He tried to come back in through a window, whereupon Slyer (and daughter) attacked Emsler in the head with an axe. Somehow an axe didn’t give Slyer the upper hand, and he got stabbed eight times for his troubles. “Considerable blood was drawn.” Both survived, and both faced charges. We wouldn’t be surprised to find more, similar stories about him. We’d be delighted to learn more of his pigeon obsession, but, alas, that didn’t make the papers.

Inventor of Gas Meters, and Possibly Soap

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1903-mulhall-meter-articleWe ran across this article from 1903 about the invention of Mr. James J. Mulhall, “the well-known resident of Catherine street.”

“The invention is an improvement on gas meters now in use and Mr. Mulhall’s ideas have been approved by the patent department of the United States government. His meter is much smaller and composed of a greatly reduced number of pieces than those in use, and an evidence of its excellence is the fact that he has already been urged to circulate his invention through all of the foreign countries. Prominent mechanics of Albany who have seen Mr. Mulhall’s new meter heartily approve it and he intends to put it on exhibition in the near future that Albanians generally may inspect it and inquire carefully into its workings.”

So we were interested in Mr. Mulhall. If he was a well-known resident of Catherine Street, we might presume he was well-known for his inventions. And did file a patent for a gas meter in 1903 (patent no. 740,301). A few years later, in 1911, he filed another patent (No. 995,278), for improvements to water and gas meters, “so arranged that no sediment will locate in the meter and affect in anyway the operation of the apparatus.”

1903-mulhall-meter-diagramHow he came to be an inventor of gas (and other) meters, and what else he may have done, is not entirely clear. James was the son of Thomas and Mary Mulhall, born around 1844. Thomas was listed in 1870 as a gas-fitter, and it seems that James must have followed him into the gas business. In 1862, at 18, James was listed as a clerk for the gas company, boarding at 3 Clinton. Thomas’s listing for that same year said “gas regulators,” and that his home was at 89 Broad Street.

In 1867, the Albany Morning Express noted very briefly that there had been a petition to Alderman Sullivan, by James Mulhall, “relative to a new apparatus of which he has the patent, for preventing the freezing of gas.” The petition was referred, and we found no more about it. If James was a jeweler, gas was on his mind already; we haven’t found that particular patent, and we haven’t figured out if he went on inventing or if there was a hiatus between 1867 and 1903.

Oddly, perhaps temporarily, James was listed as a jeweler in the 1870 census. There was also a James Mulhall who ran a soap factory at 7 and 9 Exchange Street. We know of it because it burned in a “stubborn” fire in December 1892. It was in a four-story building belonging to the “Miller and Morris estate.” It was noted that the firm of Bacon & Stickney suffered damage to stock from smoke and was fully insured, as was Mulhall. “The building is the same in which Samuel Spencer, an eccentric old man, was found one morning about three years ago with his throat cut.” (The fire, by the way, was also reported in the American Soap Journal and Perfume Gazette, the kind of trade journal you just don’t find anymore, but which carried scads of historically interesting information.) Was this the same James Mulhall? Think so. Oddly the directory for 1892 lists him at 17 Catherine, but does not list his job. Same in 1893. In fact, in quite a number of years, James is listed as boarding at 17 Catherine, and yet, unlike almost everyone else in the directory, his occupation is not given, which is strange. Was he a soapmaker? An unemployed gas meter inventor? Both? Can’t tell. In 1881, a James Mulhall was appointed as an inspector of meters in New York City. Was he the same James?

In the 1905 New York State census, we find James on Catherine Street, with his profession listed as “inventor.” He was still there in 1910, listed as retired.

Amelia Earhart Flies for Beech-Nut Gum

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Earhart Will Make Series of Tests for Beech-NutHer lecture tour in 1935 wasn’t the only connection between Amelia Earhart and the Capital District, as evidenced by this May 29, 1931 edition of the Gloversville/Johnstown Morning Herald, which proclaimed “Miss Amelia Earhart Will Make Series of Tests for Beech-Nut Packing Company.” The sub-head said that the only woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean would be in Canajoharie on June 14.

“Miss Amelia Earhart, only woman to fly across the Atlantic, received delivery Tuesday of her new auto-gyro, the “Beech-Nut,” which she announced she would fly in a series of tests for the Beech-Nut Packing company. The plane was delivered to Miss Earhart at the Newark airport. It is one of about a dozen that has been manufactured in America and the only one owned by a woman. She is the only woman who has soloed an auto-gyro and recently established a ‘ceiling’ for this type of ship by making a climb of 18,500 feet. . . The ‘Beech-Nut’ is the first of two planes which will be flown under the auspices of the Beech-Nut Packing company. The second, which will be delivered within the next two weeks, will be piloted by Captain Frank T. Coffyn, one of the first six men to fly in 1910 for the Wright brothers.”

The auto-gyro was (and is) an odd hybrid craft that uses an unpowered rotor to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller to develop thrust; it was invented to create an aircraft that could fly safely at low speeds (sez Wikipedia). The craft that Earhart flew was made by Pitcairn-Cierva of Willow Grove, PA.

It’s worth noting that in 1931, Earhart hadn’t actually piloted a plane across the Atlantic – her trans-Atlantic journey in 1928 had been as part of a three-person crew, and she acknowledged (and was bothered by) the fact that she wasn’t able to pilot the trip because it required instrument flying. Still, she was the first woman to cross the Atlantic, that much was true.

Amelia Earhart with husband G.P. Putnam and the Beech-Nut auto-gyro.

Amelia Earhart with husband G.P. Putnam and the Beech-Nut auto-gyro.

So why was Beech-Nut involved in this odd bit of pioneering aviation? Simple: Advertising for Beech-Nut gum. Earhart embarked on a transcontinental tour in the Pitcairn, from Newark to Oakland and back , sometimes making three or more stops a day. She would be the first flyer to cross the country by auto-gyro. At each one, she was greeted by press, and her picture was taken with the odd little craft, on which the name “Beech-Nut” was painted in large letters. Oddly, perhaps because of logistics, the Morning Herald’s prediction that she would be in Canajoharie on June 14 turned out to be wrong. She was in Tucson, AZ, Lordsberg, NM and El Paso, TX that day, a long way from the pot that washes itself. In fact, she didn’t come to New York state at all on this tour (all the stops are listed here).

However, Earhart’s attempt to be the first to cross the continent in an auto-gyro was beaten by a competing flyer, John Miller, by just a few days. (If you can’t get enough auto-gyro talk, the whole story is here.)



Adam Gander Sells Nothing But Legitimate Merchandise

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Adam GanderA 1935 ad for Adam Gander’s wine and liquor store at 435 Central Avenue. Really only notable for the interesting claims in what we take to be a cocktail glass behind the bottle:

“Adam Sells Nothing But Legitimate Merchandise”

“What Adam Recommends Must Be Good”

Raises the question – did someone intimate that he sold anything other than legitimate merchandise? Perhaps he protested too much. But that would be unfair to Mr. Gander, for in fact we learn from a 1937 State Supreme Court case that Adam Gander was involved in an early scheme called Gifts By Wire, something similar to Florists’ Telegraph Delivery (as it was then known) that allowed delivery of gift items like wine and liquor that would otherwise be barred by state borders and alcohol control laws. Someone in California could call up (or telegraph) a Gifts By Wire provider in New York and have a bottle of wine delivered to their friends in New York. An affidavit in the lawsuit stated “It was quite clear from the outset that the persons who demanded this service from the stores located in the finer residential parts of New York City and other cities, and who wished to send gifts of fine liquors, wines and champagnes to friends and relatives in distant parts of the country, were the highest type of the consuming public.” Adam’s Wines and Liquors was listed as one of the founding high-class retailers involved in Gifts by Wire in 1936. (Of course, the State Liquor Authority, a literal buzz-kill, ruled that the business was illegal.)

There was also an Adam Gander dealing alcohol and holding a concert saloon license in New York City in the 1880s; could be some relation.

Ganders LiquorAn eagle-eyed reader (or one who can work Google) tells us that Gander’s liquor store is still there, at the same location.

Well, What Else Could They Talk About?

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1935-tu-cleanlinessA snippet from 1935: The women’s auxiliary to the Master Plumbers’ Association was having its annual Christmas social and donation party at the Master Plumbers headquarters, and the topic of the evening would be “Cleanliness Makes for Good Citizenship.”

That is all.

Well, except that it’s worth remembering that in 1935, indoor plumbing was not a universal situation, and the average worker got much dirtier working than is likely the case today. Health care was still pretty rudimentary, communicable disease still pretty prevalent, and any number of ills could still be cured through some simple sanitation. So their statement had something to it.

This also gives us occasion to share this wonderful image from a time when people took real pride in their trades. A quarter century ago, we lived off Delaware Avenue, and each day on the way to work walked past Farrell Brothers plumbing, just beyond the Spectrum. In the window was a sun-faded poster from the past that proclaimed, “The Plumber Protects the Health of the Nation.”


Amelia Earhart in Albany

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Earhart in AlbanyWhile we’re talking aviation and Albany:

In 1935, Amelia Earhart was one of the most famous people in the world, a pioneer in aviation and women’s causes. She was well-known even before her 1932 solo flight across the Atlantic, but that act propelled her into the stratosphere, so to speak. She wrote a book, went on exhaustive lecture tours, endorsed consumer products like luggage and cigarettes, and promoted a line of clothes sold by Macy’s and inspired by her own sensibilities. So wherever she went, it was a big deal. And at the end of 1935, she came to Albany.

We’ve found a dozen or more articles announcing her impending visit, which was to be sponsored by the City Club of Albany and would take place in the Philip Livingston Junior High School on December 19, 1935. The club publicized the heck out of this.

“The entire membership of the City club is lined up back of the activities committee in their efforts to make the visit of Amelia Earhart at Albany on Thursday, December 19, one of the outstanding events in this city. ‘Adventures of the Skyways’ is the topic Miss Earhart has chosen for her talk … Hailed everywhere as a speaker of exceptional freshness and charm, Miss Earhart will, in her talk, share with her audience the experiences and thrills of the preparation, the hours in the air and the aftermath of her record-breaking flights. In spite of the many honors that have been heaped upon Miss Earhart due to her distinguished air service, she still retains a naturalness and modesty that endears her to her public.”

The article then goes on to name 39 women working on the event (most of them as ushers) in four groups. It wasn’t the only time every committee member would be named, either. Mayor John Boyd Thacher would be on hand to greet Miss Earhart, and Dr. Paul Hemke, head of the department of aeronautical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was invited to sit on the platform. The Exchange Club’s aeronautical committee, “which sponsors the building and study of airplanes among boys ranging from 15 to 20 years of age,” would be on hand to present her with a model of the plan in which she flew the Atlantic, and would have a display of other model planes at the school.

On the day of the event, the Times-Union printed an article headlined “Earhart Would End Wars By Making Women Go,” saying that in the afternoon Earhart talked equal rights and equal responsibilities for women, especially in warfare, a “thesis with which she shocked a national congress of Daughters of the American Revolution months ago.” She argued that putting women in uniform would “take all the fun out of war,” and that militaristic women should be psychoanalyzed. It appears that this was just lunchtime conversation with a reporter wherever she was prior to her speaking engagement that evening.

“There was nothing of the traditional suffragist mein about this young woman whose pacifist convictions are as well known as her airway exploits. Often described as ‘boyish,’ there is nothing of the ‘mannish’ about her. Her manner is quiet, friendly, earnest, or amused, by turns, wholly feminine and gentle … Earhart’s major interest is women. She wants to know why women are not news photographers, why they do not invade every field monopolized by men.”

Just a few days before that, the Times-Union had run an article headlined “Girls of Today Intent on Jobs, Says Earhart.” She was then acting as a consultant lecturer at Purdue University, and said “Ninety-two per cent of the Purdue girls who came to me while I was lecturing there wished to occupy themselves gainfully. This shows a tremendous advance, in that, that women are interested industrially, economically. And I don’t think it means that the material, the domestic instinct is erased in their attitude. The home is still predominant, but modern appliances – the machine age, have corrected things so that women have more leisure to adapt themselves to an outside sphere.” She said the girls at Purdue had inquired about every field from radio to running a hotel. “‘There were some,’ she says, ‘who were interested in becoming hostesses on planes.'” By the way, this is the only article that also mentioned that Earhart would speak in Schenectady on Dec. 20, twice – once in the afternoon for children, and in the evening for the general public.

In her Albany speech, Earhart disclaimed any scientific contribution to flying, in spite of her intense interest in science, and said the lure of flying is the lure of beauty. “Her response to the beauty of scattered clouds, billowing mountainous clouds, endless expanses of black water with starlit highlights, thousands of brilliant white stars blazing in the blue-black of a midnight sky – this has been her dominant experience during her trail-blazing flights that have arrested a world.” The newspaper said she sketched the highlights of her career, and tried to clear the record on a famous communication she made on her then-recent trans-Pacific flight from Honolulu to Oakland, CA, where it was reported that she had said “I am getting tired.” “‘I had been flying for some time over fog, creamy white and piled high, like the beaten whites of eggs,’ she said. ‘What I actually said was: “I am getting tired of this fog.” The land stations missed the last words, because I spoke carelessly.'”

Already faced with the kinds of rumors about her personal life that are nowadays considered news, she addressed that she had taken on the flight because she was bored with her husband, publisher George Palmer Putnam, saying that without him, there could be no flights, and that she was reassured by the sound of his voice on the other end of the radio

“A determined but very feminine feminist, Miss Earhart is eager for the acceptance of aviation by women – and their participation in aviation. ‘Women should try to get outside their platitudinous sphere,’ she said.”

Albany to New York by Dirigible!

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Ho! For the AirshipsGlenn Curtiss and Beryl Kendrick helped put Albany on the map for motorized aviation with their record-setting (or attempted, anyway) flights from Van Rensselaer Island and the Hudson River. But just a little before that, there was another kind of aviation planned for Albany, and it was meant to be more than a novelty. An inventor by the name of George E. Tinker of East New York incorporated the New York Aerial Manufacturing and Navigation Company in 1909, with the intent to manufacture airships – dirigibles – and use them for transportation.

“The first transit route through the clouds will be between New York and Albany. If the airships do not display a disposition to seek the earth and the business pays, as Mr. Tinker’s friends are all sure it will, by and by, other lines will probably be run between [New York] city and Boston and Philadelphia.”

Tinker was backed by $25,000 in capital contributed by East New York businessmen, including a plumber, a lawyer, a druggist, and a bicycle dealer. “They all seem to have perfect confidence that Mr. Tinker’s machines will do all that is promised for them, and that the aerial navigation business will make millionaires of them all.” The focus was to have an airship of Tinker’s design ready for the Hudson-Fulton Celebration that would range up and down the Hudson River that autumn.

“For the proposed transportation line he will use dirigible balloons. His air craft of this class differs from most dirigibles in that it will not depend on a gas-filled bag to keep it in the air. The tinker ship will have a silk gas bag within an aluminum shell, but will rely upon fast-revolving propellers to lift it and keep it moving in the air. The bag will be filled with gas merely to guard against the machine dropping to earth in the event of the machinery getting out of order. There will be only sufficient gas to allow the machine to come gently to the ground. The ship will be equipped with three motors. One, of fifty horse power, will operate the lifting propellers, and the others, of ten horse power each, will run the driving propellers. The craft which Mr. Tinker is now building will be 38 feet long and 12 feet beam. He intends to enter the machine in the New York to Albany airship competition at the time of the Hudson-Fulton celebration.”

Tinker's airship 1911Little more can be found about George Tinker, so we’re not sure if he made his airship in time for the celebration. An article from August 1910 says his airship was almost ready. A year later still, in 1911, a model of his airship was shown in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, but talk of passenger service to Albany was forgotten.