Category Archives: Troy

This Is Not A Collar, But Still

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Cluett, Peabody display card

Did you know Benjamin Franklin founded a free library? Okay, you probably did. Did you know that library still exists, as The Library Company of Philadelphia? And did you further know that the online collections of The Library Company of Philadelphia include some items of interest to Capital District history nerds? Well, now you do.

This, for instance, which is a trade card and point-of-sale cutout from about 1900, promoting the legendary Cluett, Peabody & Co., one of the several makers of collars who made Troy the Collar City. That they chose to advertise collars with a display of a cuff might be a little confusing, but yes, cuffs were made of detachable cellulloid in those days as well. Want to advertise collars? Show a little cuff.

Cluett, Peabody was the largest, and the longest-lasting of all the collar companies. As with many Troy companies, they went through many forms and names. They started as Maullin & Blanchard, in 1851, at 310 River Street. According to Anderson’s “Landmarks of Rensselaer County,” George B. Cluett had been in charge of the manufacturing department when he was admitted to partnership in 1861, and the company became Maullin & Cluett in 1862. Joseph Maullin died the following year, and George Cluett, J.W.A. Cluett and Charles J. Saxe formed George B. Cluett, Bro. & Co., with a factory at 390 River Street.  Saxe left in 1866 and another Cluett, Robert, rose to partner. In 1874 R.S. Norton’s name was added to the firm, and they moved to 74 and 76 Federal Street, where they would remain until destroyed by fire on March 20, 1880. “Before the fire was extinguished a new location was found at 556 Fulton street.” In 1891, Geo. B. Cluett, Bros., & Co merged with Coon & Co., another prominent collar maker, to form Cluett, Coon & Co., which brought along Frederick F. Peabody. In 1899, the company became Cluett, Peabody & Co., and after 48 years of pretty much perpetual name changes, decided to settle down and focus on collars and cuffs.

By the way, the detachable collar was invented by a Troy woman, Hannah Montague.

The Centennial Exhibition Awards Capital District Manufactures

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Centennial ExhibitionLast week we mentioned that Edgar Smith’s dry air refrigerator, a product of Albany manufacture, was featured at the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, what was essentially the first world’s fair held in the United States and a celebration of the tremendous progress, particularly industrial and agricultural progress, the young country had made in the course of its first century, and the extremely promising future that events seemed to portend. Thousands of items of manufacture were presented at the Exhibition; of those, hundreds were singled out for awards by an international jury – the awards were given in categories like “Clothing, Furs, India-Rubber Goods, Etc.” and “Agricultural Machines, Implements of Agriculture, etc.” Smith’s refrigerator (“Will keep ice Twenty Days, and fresh meat Two Weeks”) was a long way from the only item featured at the Centennial Exhibition.

The firms below were all recognized with awards – after their names are the things they were awarded for; in some cases, Burr’s “Memorial of the International Exhibition” gave us some idea of what else they had shown.

Albany was represented by:

Newton and Co.: fire brick linings for stoves, ranges, and heaters. They were on Rathbone Street, and here’s their great letterhead from 1863.

Mrs. Treadwell and Co.: seal skins (though the reference to Mrs. Treadwell is confusing; the company was well-known as George C. and then George H. Treadwell).

Graves, Bull and Co: shoe lasts and patterns.

Thomas Feary [sic: Fearey] and Son: shoes. We’ve spoken of Thomas Fearey, makers of the Hatch flexible shoe, before.

Smith Refrigerator Co.: dry air refrigerator, “containing fruits and meats that have been long kept.”

Jason Gould [sic: Goold] and Co.: sleighs. The Goold family was renowned for making the Albany sleigh, the very model of Santa’s sleigh, and after the horseless carriage took over, they got into auto bodies and existed until 1951. they showed sleighs, carriages, and coaches on runners, seven in all worth $8000.

Henry Q. Hawley, gas heating and cooking furnaces and water motors. We couldn’t find anything about Hawley, until we found a “Memorial of the International Exhibition” that said that Hawley was a Philadelphia agent for the actual company,  Henry A. Haskell. The engine was “a motor that costs $40, to run sewing machines, &c., by the supply through the pipes of city water works.” The gas apparatus, ascribed to Hawley, was a furnace for heating and cooking by gas. “Cost, two cents an hour. Burns without flame and does not poison the air.”

P.K. Dederick and Co.: perpetual baling press. Dederick’s company was the Albany Agricultural and Machine Works, a massive factory in Tivoli Hollow. Three sizes of the baling press were shown: hand, horse, and steam. “The largest will press twenty tons of hay per day, requiring to operate six horse power. In a building located east of Agricultural Hall is a large display of farm wagons, portable steam engines. All the machines are well built.”

Wheeler, Millick and Co.: horse hay rake and straw preserving rye thresher. Also given as Wheeler & Melick Co., New York State Agricultural Works. They were established in 1830 (according to the Memorial), employed 125 men and had capital of $186,000. They exhibited “threshing machines, one-dog power, double and single horse powers, a rye thresher that leaves the straw straight for binding, tread and lever powers, a combined thresher and cleaner, thresher and shaker, and forms. The entire display has been sold to the Japanese Government.”

William A. Wood Co.: reaping machine.

Charles Fasoldt: astronomical tower clock. He exhibited “very handsome and accurate astronomical and tower clocks.”

E.D. [Erastus Dow] Palmer: sculpture. To say the least.

Regents of the University of N.Y.: Full set of reports and documents (in the category of Education and Science).

Dudley Olcott: Native English Setter Dog (who received a special award – he was a good dog, Brent).

Mrs. C. Hewitt Pfordt: embroidery. We’ll speak more of her soon.

Troy was represented by:

The Albany and Rensselaer Iron and Steel Company was demonstrating its Bessemer steel and wrought iron rails, bars, forgings, axles, spikes, nails and horseshoes. This was the company of Amasa J. Parker. They also showed “a fine array of rails, twisted to show their quality.”

Henry Burden (though it was typed as Burgden) and Sons were awarded for wrought iron bars and horse and mule shoes, and for its horseshoe machine model. We’ve written about Henry Burden quite a bit.

The Henry J. Seymour Chair Co.: chairs.

E. Waters: Paper cans for kerosene oil, and of course paper boats. The “Memorial” said “The firm has been established about nine years, and employs 15 men. Their exhibit consists of one six-oared coxwain gig, forty-six feet six inches long, twenty-five inches wide, and weighs 195 pounds. Value, $350. One four-oared shell, thirty-eight feet long by sixteen inches wide, weighs 78 pounds. Value, $260. Double shell, thirty-four feet long and fourteen inches wide, weighs 39, and is worth $160. One single shell, twenty-eight feet long by twelve inches beam, weighs 30 pounds. Value, $115. Also, a single scull, twenty-six feet long by eleven and a quarter inches beam, weighs 20-1/4 pounds. One Adirondack gig. All the boats are made of paper and furnished with the latest improvements. In all the races in the United States this year, the winning boats were made by this firm. They also exhibit kerosene oil cans and camp stools made of paper. Also, a water-tight joint, in which the tongue is made of prepared paper, and fits into a groove, where it swells when touched by water.”

Harrison and Kellogg: castings of malleable iron and coach wrenches. They also showed gearing and screw-wrenches.

Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Co.: sliding stop valves and fire hydrants. Ludlow had a lovely letterhead. They showed a large water valve of 36 inches, and a full set of small brass valves.

Empire Portable Forge Co.: portable forge.

Albert L. Betts: wire machine. He was showing ready-made wire fencing.

W. and L.E. Gurley: transits, levels, compasses, etc. Not sure why we’ve never written about Gurley before – they may be the only area business that exhibited at the Centennial Exposition that is still in existence. They showed “Civil Engineers’ and Surveyors’ instruments exhibited in a neat room in the aisle. Value of exhibit $15,000. Hands employed, 114. Capital used, $350,000.”

Swett, Quimby and Perry: graphic parlor stove and Empire heating range.

Fuller, Warren and Co.: stoves, furnaces, ranges, etc. One of the area’s major stove manufacturers, Fuller, Warren lasted until 1951. They also had operations in Chicago, Cleveland and New York at the time of the Exposition. “The building containing this exhibit is located on Fountain avenue, west of Machinery Hall. It has the sides of glass, thus affording light sufficient to minutely examine the concrete. The decorations are chaste and elaborate, and make one of the most attractive edifices on the grounds. In the interior are shown their theaters, ranges, cooking and parlor stoves of every description. Upon many of these the most prominent parts have been nickel plated. Several of the stoves were kept running during the entire exhibition, so that they might be easily understood by visitors. To make and continue this display the firm have been to an enormous expense, though the praise elicited from all, and the favor with which they have been received have partially reimbursed them.”

West Troy, now known as Watervliet, was represented by:

James Roy and Co.: shawls. They showed “Woolen cloths and shawls in profusion, and very elegant.”

J.M. Jones and Co.: street car for two horses. It was described in the Memorial as a “Handsomely finished street car.”

Schenectady, not yet really an industrial town, had only one representative awarded in the exhibition: G. Westinghaus [sic] and Co., showing their horse and steam powered threshing machines. George Westinghouse definitely left his mark on Schenectady and was very well regarded in the agricultural implement world. His son became just a little more famous.

Cohoes was represented by:

William Harrabin: anti-friction top rollers. The Memorial listed him as “Wm. T. Horrobin,” and said he was a maker of top rollers and other appliances for cotton factories, pipe cutting and threading machines, transverse wheel card grinder, miniature knitting machines, and Snow’s standard water-wheel governor. They had been 16 years in business and employed 150 hands, with capital of $200,000.

Star Knitting Co.: underwear. Star was one of about 17 mills running in Cohoes at the time.

Campbell and Clute: upright rotary knitting machine.

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.)

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
MAJOR GENERAL B. B.
S. B. LOYALTY, ADJUTANT.
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.)

The Hygienic Lunch, and the Father of the Veep

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Hygienic Lunch menuFile this under: How did we not know this? Hoxsie grew up hard by Schenectady in the 1970s and was perhaps more tuned than your average teenager to both politics and local history. And yet, until this week, we had no idea that the father of Vice President Spiro Agnew, one Theodore Agnew (originally Theofraste Anagnostopolous), was once the proprietor of a couple of lunch joints in Schenectady and Troy. That seems like the kind of information that would have been floating around the zeitgeist, particularly given that Spiro (whose middle name was Theodore) was a controversial, polarizing figure who ended up resigning from the Nixon administration in a bit of a scandal.

Information on this is scant, and the timeline isn’t entirely clear. One Agnew biography says that Theodore arrived from Greece in 1902, settled in Schenectady, spent six years here and then moved to Baltimore. That timeline doesn’t quite work, as we know he was in Schenectady and Troy in 1911 and 1912.

His restaurant was called Hygienic Lunch, at a time when many restaurants, diners, and cafeterias were anything but. We first find it mentioned in Schenectady in 1911, located at 412 State Street, just below the (trolley) waiting room. (This was the old trolley waiting room at 420 State, east of the Witbeck Building. The Hygienic, we believe, was in the Hough Block, torn down to make room for the Bowtie Cinemas.)

In the Troy Times Record of March 25, 1911, we find this notice with regard to the Troy location of the Hygienic Lunch:

“The Hygienic Lunch to-day became one of the convenient eating places for shoppers and business people. Located at 319 River Street, the new lunch room is in the centre of the business district. In its equipment the Hygienic is thoroughly modern, having tiled floors and marble walls, with a kitchen equipment on which no expense or care has been spared. Small marble tables take the place of the usual wide arm chairs. The Hygienic will cater particularly to busy people, and is prepared to serve quickly a lunch or dinner, simple or elaborate. In addition to the usual sandwiches and short-order courses, patrons of the Hygienic can order a steak or portion of roast. The place is managed by the President of the company himself, Mr. Theodore S. Agnew of Schenectady, and James W. Donnan of this city. Mr. Agnew is an experienced restaurant manager, and is one of the founders of the Hygienic Lunch system, which was inaugurated in this state a few years ago.”

At the time, Agnew is found in the Troy City Directory, listed as president and manager of 319 River Street (the business was not named), and boarding at The Rensselaer (later called The Troy House).

A notice in the Schenectady Gazette from June 15, 1911, promises improvements at the Schenectady location:

“Theodore Agnew, president of the Hygienic Lunch Company is in this city after having spent some time in Troy launching a new business in that city. Mr. Agnew stated yesterday that it was his intention to as soon as possible to remodel the place of business in Schenectady and enlarge it to a certain extent. This lunch room is now capable of accommodating a large number of people, several tables have recently been installed which will seat four persons each, these replace the chairs along one entire side and a portion of the other.”

Not much else is said of the Hygienic in either location (and it’s not clear that a contemporaneous Ballston Spa operation by the same name was necessarily connected). A very brief article in the Troy Times on January 5, 1912, says that the proprietors of the Waldorf lunch system, a cafeteria style lunch joint that then had branches in eight cities from Boston to Buffalo, “to-day purchased the Hygienic Lunch from The Hygienic Lunch Company, Incorporated. George R. Donnan of Schenectady was proprietor. The new establishment will be called the Waldorf Lunch.”

That may have been the end of Theodore Agnew’s association with the Hygienic Lunch, and perhaps it was at this time that he lit out for the Charm City. It was not, however, the end of the Hygienic Lunch, for in 1914, Mr. Andrew Kansas announced the new Hygienic Lunch would be opening:

The New Hygienic Lunch

We know from the advertisements of a menswear salesman named Joe Green (and we’ll get to old Joe) that this Hygienic Lunch was also at 412 State Street, and that it continued by that name at least through 1922.

The only mention of the Spiro Agnew connection we find, other than in some biographies and birther sites (apparently there was some controversy), was an article in the Troy Times Record from October 11, 1973, after Agnew had already resigned. It was headlined “Agnew’s Father Ran Restaurant in Troy, and was filled out with just a little less information than we’ve provided above. “Agnew’s father also owned a restaurant in Schenectady but both failed to support him and his brothers. A check of the city directory of 1912 reveals Theodore Agnew moved to New York City. He eventually ended up in Baltimore, Md.”

How to Google Things in 1973

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The kids and their interwebs these days. They have no idea how the world worked before there was a worldwide web. Well, here’s how it was done. Say you wondered where to find a particular oven cleaner. You could just wander aimlessly from grocery store to grocery store, hoping to find what you needed. Or, you could write a letter to the Troy Record’s Hot Line. (Yes, a letter, to a Hot Line that lacked a phone number.) For just the cost of a stamp and the random chance that yours was the question they answered that week, that elusive oven cleaner information could be yours.

In search of oven cleaner

Seriously. This is how things worked. The other scintillating question on this day was from Mrs. Ruby Austin of Johnsonville, who wondered where she might find gloxinia bulbs. (Yonder Farms on North Greenbush Road. “Phone 283-4267 to find if they’ll mail them to you.”

19th Century Railroads: Unsafe at Any Speed

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Rairoad train heading west  just past northern boulevard albany ny c 1900

In 1865, every railroad in the state made a report to the railroad commissioners of the State of New York. There are lots of facts and figures about capital stock, funded debt, length of road laid, numbers of passenger cars and snow plows, etc. They even give the average rate of speed and the average weight of full size cars. Fascinating. But what’s really interesting are the detailed descriptions of the dozens of ways that passengers, employees, and ordinary citizens trying to cross the tracks were parted from life and limb, quite literally. Here are just a few examples from Albany area railroads, that don’t even begin to touch on the dozens of horrific ways people were killed or maimed by the iron horse that year.

Albany Railway
1864. Sept. 14. John T. Siegmann, of New York, in leaving the front platform of car No. 2, descending State street, opposite Tweddle Hall, without proper notice to the conductor or driver, was thrown down and his right arm so injured as to require amputation. The conductor and driver were exonerated from blame.
Oct. 21. John Mooney was injured in a drain excavation in the Bowery [renamed Central Avenue in 1867] by the falling of the horses of a car. No fatal result occurred.

Albany and Susquehanna
April 26, 1865. John Van De Bogart, a brakeman, while standing on the steps of a passenger car, was struck by the bridge near Guilderland, and instantly killed.

Albany and West Stockbridge
1865. Feb. 19. A boy by the name of John Kildan, in trying to get upon a stock train at Chatham fell between the cars, was run over and killed.
Aug. 30. A man by the name of John Kiley, in trying to get upon a freight train at Greenbush, fell between the cars, was run over and killed.
Sept. 22. A man by the name of Michael Behan, of Pittsfield, in trying to cross the track at Shaker’s Village, in front of a train, was truck by the engine and killed.

Hudson and Boston
1865. Sept. 9. Jacob M. Rivenburgh was struck by the morning train from Chatham while driving his cattle from the track in Ghent; being aware that a train was coming, and supposing at the time that it was a Harlem train until it was too late for him to escape, the engine struck him, injuring him fatally; he lived about five hours, perfectly rational, blaming no one but himself for the accident.

Hudson River Railroad
1864. Oct. 2. John Bowman jumped from the cars near Troy, and was run over and severely injured.
1865. January 31. Anson Norcutt, brakeman, stepped from his train, near Castleton, on to the opposite track, and was struck by a down train and killed.
March 9. An express train, going south, was thrown from the track near Stuyvesant, and a brakeman, named O. Jenkins, had one of his legs broken.
March 15. George Comstock, while walking on the track near Castleton, was struck by an express train, and so severely injured as to cause his death.
May 29. Patrick Kennedy, employe, while riding on a hand car between Catskill and Hudson, came in collision with a locomotive and was seriously injured.
[Many other accidents up and down the Hudson were recorded.]
Most of the accidents which have occurred are attributable to the carelessness of the persons injured, particularly to their walking on the track.

New York Central
1864. Nov. 5. Christian Shilling, a laborer, in attempting to pass from a car of a wood train to the engine, while the train was in motion near West Albany, fell upon the track, was run over and killed.
Dec. 16. John Rahill, an employe, while shoveling snow from the north track in the rock cut east of West Albany, in order to avoid a gravel train moving west, passed over to the south track just in front of the Buffalo express train moving east, was run over and killed.
1865. Feb. 25. Andrew Smith, a brakeman, was killed by striking against the Johnstown and Fultonville bridge, under which his train was passing.
March 30. Thomas Merritt, an employee, got off an engine on the north track at West Albany, and while passing across the south track, was run over, by an engine backing, and killed.
April 3. Mathew Kennedy, an employe, jumped from a moving engine at West Albany car shops, fell upon the track, was run over and injured in the leg so as to render amputation necessary.
April 14. Timothy Dewelly, a brakeman, fell from a freight train moving east, about five miles west of Albany, and was killed.
May 13. Joseph Myers, while walking on the track, about a mile west of Schenectady, was struck by the engine of a moving freight train, and had one of his legs broken.
July 5. Stephen Bush was found dead on the track near Crescent Station. It is supposed he was run over the night previous by the New York mail train moving west, blood having been found upon the pilot to the engine of that train.
August 24. Baltus Flesh, a boy aged six years, got upon the tender of an engine backing, in Railroad avenue, in Albany, and while attempting to get off, fell upon the track, was run over and killed.
September 2. Matthew Smith, a baggageman, was killed near Centre, between Albany and Schenectady, by the baggage car being thrown from the track by the breaking of an axle.
September 3. Ferdinand Netterman, was found dead near the track west of Schenectady. It is supposed he fell off the Cleveland express train moving east.
September 21. Patrick Dollan stepped upon the track at Schenectady, in front of a baggage car that was being slowly moved in making up a train, was run over and killed.

Rensselaer and Saratoga
1865. Sept. 3. A lad, name unknown, at play in the rear of a freight train at Schenectady, was squeezed against the bumper post and instantly killed.
Sept. 23. Charles Lambert, an employe of the Company, while at work on a car on the track at Green Island, was so seriously injured by a train backing against the car on which he was at work, that he died in a few hours.

Troy and Boston
1865. March 21. A woman named Kulchan walked on to the track at Walloomsac Station just as the up express train was passing, was struck by the engine and instantly killed.
July 6. Roddy Godfrey, while intoxicated, fell from platform of accommodation train up, when near Schaghticoke, and was so seriously injured that he lived but a few hours.
Aug. 11. William H. Stephens, a freight conductor, fell from his train near Hoosick Junction, receiving injuries from which he died the 21st of same month.
Aug. 19. John Kent, a man known to have been drunk an hour before the accident, was run over by a freight train near Eagle Bridge; when first seen by the engineer he was lying across the track.

Van Doren’s Patented Sewing Machine Motor

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EIVanDorenSewingMachineMotor.pngThis ad from the Troy Daily Times in 1917 touts the patented factory sewing machine motor of E.I. Van Doren of River Street. “Saves one-third of current because motor stops and starts automatically every time sewing machine does.” Imagine!

In an article on the same page (not an uncommon practice in those days for a newspaper to feature its advertisers in editorial content), Mr. E.I. Van Doren spoke more about the improvements his patented motors brought:

“‘Electric motors for power transmission in factories and industrial enterprises generally are proving a great saving over the belts and shafting which has been the method in use for ages,’ said Mr. E.I.Van Doren, electrical expert, with office and warerooms at 332 River Street, to-day.

“‘With the old system the average factory has a friction loss of from sixty to seventy-five per cent, and do not realize it, from the fact that shafting will get out of line, belts will stretch  and slip constantly, and no amount of mone spent on efficiency experts and high-priced help will avoid it under those conditions; it is impossible to increase the output, and instead of a reduction of cost price there is an ever increasing one . . .

“‘All this is eliminated by having the direct electric drive. It calls for very little expense to install a motor for individual drive, or several motors for group driving, depending upon the local conditions and decision of the engineer.

“‘The manufacturers, however, foreseeing the change that is coming are preparing to fill the requirements. We have sold the ‘Lincoln Motor,’ Peerless Single Phase Motors, The Fidelity, Individual Factory Sewing Machine Motor, no transmitter required.”

 Just the next year, an article in Electrical World announced that:

“E.I. Van Doren, who for several years past has been at 332 River Street, Troy, N.Y., with a line of electric motors and supplies, announces the opening of his new ground-floor store, ‘The Edison Shop,’ on or about Nov. 9 at 81 Fourth Street, where the will offer a new and varied line of electrical motors, ‘Mazda’ lamps, heating devices, etc.”

 

 

Careers, 1911

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TroyDirectory1911.png

We now live in a place that still uses an ancient occupation tax, and as a result its list of occupations includes a number of jobs that don’t exist any more, such as  IBM Key Punch, Paste-Up Artist, Teletypist and Photolithographer. It also lists a number of jobs that technically may still exist but certainly cause one to question how many people are included under the title, such as Roller Skate Instructor, Tire Builder, and Paper Boy. (Did we mention that the titles remain wildly sexist?) And then there are some that are just confusing, such as Tool Out Man and Night Counselor.

But that’s all down here in Chester County, PA. In looking through the 1911 directory for Troy, NY, it’s easy to find numerous jobs that simply don’t exist anymore. In the course of just a couple of pages of the directory, we find these jobs that no one aspires to in the 21st century:

  • Shirtironer
  • Collar worker
  • Collar cutter
  • Collar turner
  • Last maker [shoemaking]
  • Stitcher
  • Carriagetrimmer
  • Horseshoer
  • Coremaker
  • Buttonhole maker
  • Oilcloth printer
  • Stamper
  • Grinder
  • Paster
  • Starcher
  • Brushmaker
  • Buffer

Kids today aren’t likely to have to discuss any of those careers with their guidance counselors.

Wagar’s Confectionery

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WagarsConfectionery1909.pngThumbing (digitally — although thumbs are digits, too, one supposes) through the 1909 Troy City Directory, we ran across this ad for Wagar’s Confectionery, which sounded vaguely familiar despite its way-backness. Turns out there’s a reason.

At this time, the name of D. Lester Sharp was attached to Wagar’s Confectionery, “Manufacturer of Absolutely Pure Confectionery and Ice Cream,” both wholesale and retail, and they were located at 99-101 Congress St. (Today we know the building as Manory’s Restaurant.) But D. Lester was neither the first nor last word in the Wagar’s story, and thankfully, in 1926 the company took out a verbose and only mildly hyperbolic full-page ad in the Troy Times in order to make “The Most Important Announcement Ever Made By An Ice Cream Manufacturer.”

Wagar'sicecreamTroyNYTimes1-21-1926.png“We find the public wants a richer ice cream, an ice cream containing more butterfat. Wagar’s promise in their new high quality ice cream to satisfy the most discriminating in this respect. The cost of the extra amount of heavy cream we are going to use this year in our product would allow a person to live most comfortable on the interest of it.” Forgive our failure to follow their excessive capitalization; they didn’t know it was rude.

Proudly proclaiming their intent to make a higher quality ice cream — nay, a “SCIENTIFICALLY DEVELOPED FOOD” — the ad also gave us some of the company history.

“Mr. W.S. Wagar came to Troy forty years ago with a fifteen quart freezer, the same freezer he had assisted his father with so many times in making ice cream for Sunday School picnics, etc., at West Sand Lake. It was here he conceived the idea that by coming to Troy and making the same kind of ice cream he could succeed. By hard work and long hours after coming to Troy he was able to make 100 quarts of ice cream a day, with this old freezer.

“Thirty-two years of his life he devoted to his own retail stores, his success in this business is to [sic] well known to go into details. Eight years ago in a very limited way he entered the wholesale field, making ice cream for fifteen other confectionery stores. At this time he was able to freeze ice cream at the rate of 800 quarts a day. And from this modest start eight years ago his business has grown until today in one of the most modern factories in the World Wagar’s are able to freeze ice cream at the rate of 12,000 quarts a day, and with reserve capacity for almost double this amount. Such growth as we have enjoyed during the past eight years is, you will admit, phenomenal. We believe it because we have always been more concerned about the QUALITY of our cream than the extra profit we might derive from an inferior product.”

That we have an ad right in front of us saying Wagar’s was wholesaling in 1909 we shall choose to ignore; for all we know that was wishful thinking. While Wagar’s had several locations, one well-known location was in the Ilium Building at the corner of Fourth and Fulton streets, long-time home of the Night Owl News. The location of their modern sunlit factory, which was under the ownership of Winfield S. and Mrs. Mary E. Wagar in 1926, was 553-557 Federal Street. (Remarkably, no old buildings stand in that old section of Troy, straight off the Green Island Bridge.)

But even that didn’t seem like all there was to the Wagar’s story; the name sounded too familiar. It turns out, there was another outfit by the name of Wagar’s Confectionery that started up in Lake George in 1978 and lasted until 2004, founded by Malcolm Laustrup, Sr., the grandson of Winfield Wagar. (An appreciation of Mr. Laustrup appears here.)