Author Archives: carljohnson

Hartshorn’s Shade Rollers

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Hartshorn's Shade Rollers New Capitol.png

Okay, so Hartshorn’s shade rollers weren’t made in the Capital District, but how often do you see ads for interior decorating, or window treatments, or anything, that tout that they are in use at many public buildings, including (shouting now) THE NEW CAPITOL AT ALBANY? Not often. Not often enough.

Apparently there’s still quite a market for Hartshorn shade rollers, and their ads only got better.

Cash Buys Paste.

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City Bill Poster Troy 1895.png
What did Troy’s garage bands do in the days before staple guns and telephone poles? They called on Mrs. Dundon, City Bill Poster, who  pasted billsheets to the bricks of the Collar City. When this ad was published in 1895, the brush had been a power in the land for 26 years. Cash buys paste!

Stove Capital of the Country

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Buswell Durant stoves

Before collars, Troy’s fortune was made in iron works. The old forests of the Adirondacks fueled iron forges up and down the Champlain valley and beyond, but Troy emerged as the major iron manufacturing center in the state in the mid-1800s. And for a time Troy and nearby foundries were putting out huge proportion of the stoves in use in the country. This Rootsweb page excerpts the story of the industry from “Troy’s One Hundred Years,” and it’s notable that there were so many stove manufacturers that Buswell and Durant, who took this ad in the 1870 Rensselaer County Directory, don’t even make the list. (For those who are interested, this research paper lists literally dozens of stove manufacturers that set up shop in Troy, Albany and in between.)

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Colonial Ice Cream

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Colonial Ice Cream 1920s.png

There was a time when all ice cream was local, and Colonial Ice Cream was a prominent ice cream maker in Schenectady and Scotia, supplying  many local restaurants and stores. The last Colonial factory was in the former Mohawk School on Mohawk Avenue in Scotia; the building was demolished in 1962 and has been a parking lot next to the Baptist Church ever since.

Mrs. Smith was my great grandmother, but I don’t know that she ever played bridge or offered Colonial ice cream for dessert.

Weeber Bicycles

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Weeber's Cycle Works Albany 1899.png
Weeber Cycle Works 1907.pngChristian Weeber was an inventor and tinkerer who built a variety of things in his Albany shop in the early part of the last century: handbuilt automobiles, some of the earliest automobile mufflers, gasoline-powered electric generators, a type of railroad rail. And with his brother Emil, he made and sold bicycles. Weeber had a variety of locations for all his ventures, which were going on at the same time: 170-172 Central Ave., 47-53 Bradford Street, 250 Sherman Street.
Unfortunately, this jack of all trades is forgotten today.

Hate Albany? Blame it on the Dutch.

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Albany plan map 1758.jpg

In Dr. Morse’s American Geography published in 1789, he says, “Albany is said to be an unsociable place … To form a just idea of the manners and customs of the inhabitants, we must confine ourselves to the Dutch, who being much the most numerous, give the tone to the manners of the place.”

in 1795, the Duke de la Rochefoucault-Liancourt visited Albany, and gave his views of the inhabitants as follows: “I was by no means displeased at leaving Albany. The Albanians, to speak generally … are the most disagreeable beings, I have hitherto met with in the United States.”

In 1800 Gorham A. Worth writes, “Albany was indeed Dutch, in all its moods and tenses; thoroughly and inveterately Dutch. The buildings were Dutch – Dutch in style, in position, attitude and aspect. The people were Dutch, the horses were Dutch, and even the dogs were Dutch.”

(Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, Volume 10: “Real Burial Place of Lord Howe” 1911)

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Mourning goods

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Betts & Medbury Dry Goods in Troy

I don’t know where I’d go for mourning goods today, but in 1870, I’d have gone to Betts & Medbury, in the Mansion House Block in Troy. Dry goods of every description, but mourning goods were their specialty. Mourning was big business in those days.