Daily Archives: June 15, 2011

Eagle Air Furnace, the temperance furnace!

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Eagle Air FurnaceA little less nifty looking than the Ransom & Rathbone Stove-Works, the Eagle Air Furnace also made stoves and other iron castings somewhere on Beaver Street.

Like its competitor, The Temperance Furnace, the Eagle was a temperance furnace. In 1832, the New York State Temperance Society championed the Eagle’s anti-drink stance and clearly connected its decision not to ply its workers with strong drink to the lack of incidence of cholera at the works:

Temperance and regular attention to business the best preventives of Cholera.

Although experience teaches us that the temperate and the regular are not wholly exempted from the ravages of cholera, there is abundant evidence to prove that they are by far the safest, and indeed that the sickness and death among such, is but little if any more than in ordinary seasons. In confirmation of this, the following statement in made:

Tho Eagle Air Furnace in this city, conducted by Messrs. Many & Ward, is situated in Beaver-street, within a few rods of the Centre Hospital, in which, during six weeks past, have constantly been from ten to twenty persons sick and dying of the cholera, and also in the immediate vicinity of Howard-street and the Centre Market, where numerous deaths have taken place. There are thirty men constantly employed in this furnace, and these with their families number 116 persons and occupy 19 tenements. Not a drop of strong drink of any description is furnished to the men or permitted to be used in the furnace, and but few of the men are in the habit of drinking at all out of the furnace, and these few but very little. The business of this establishment has not had a moment’s interruption since the cholera made its appearance among us; both the principals and every person in their employ having continued regularly to discharge their duties as at other times. Not a death has occurred among the workmen, nor in their families, and there has been no sickness worth naming of any description. The premonitory symptoms of cholera have hardly made their appearance. One man lost four days and another three in consequence of diarrhoea, and it was ascertained that both these individuals had been induced to use quack medicine as a preventive. Several other establishments in this city might be named, in various branches of business, where a similar course has been pursued, and with similar results.

The champions of temperance were not alone in 1832 of failing to understand that bad drinking water was the source of the cholera bacterium, and that in fact alcoholic beverages might have been safer than contaminated well water during an outbreak. But anything to make a point.

In addition to stoves, the Eagle also had on hand potash kettles, bark mills, large and small caldrons, and “a constant supply of Liverpool and Virginia coal, for family and smith’s use.” There’s a lovely billhead from the Eagle online here.

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