Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hop Extract Works

The Hop Extract Works, built in 1879 by James R. Whiting, were located about one mile outside of Waterville on the way to Deansboro, where the Suburban Propane bulk tanks and storage buildings are located. It was at what was called "Factory Village," on Mill Street (Buell Ave.)

At first, the works were in a small wooden building with three extractors. However, the demand for the product was so great that by 1881 plans were underway for expansion, which included a three-story brick factory 33x75, a hop pit of corrugated iron, 30x73 feet for the reception of the waste hops after the extract has been removed, a 35x70 foot warehouse for the storage of hops, an engine house, which will contains two 60-horse power boilers (later 100-horsepower boilers were added), a workshop, a fire-proof structure to store the hops, and an office. In 1882, apparatus was installed for making electric light into the extensive works. In 1887, a large blast blower was placed to carry the waste hops through a tube from the damping place to the boiler room, where they are used for fuel. Conservation at its finest!

Local farmers brought their hops in large horse-drawn wagons; or, if the weather was adverse, hops were imported from England, Ireland and South America, and shipped from as far as Oregon and California by freight train. The hops were placed in large brass vats tightly closed, and  through a process of hot water and cooling, the lupulin (the active ingredient in hops) was extracted.  "It was almost like steeping tea," commented Celia Roberts Jones, who was born in 1893 and whose father was a bookkeeper there. The extract was preferred by the brewers because the extraction process ensured that the best part of the hops was preserved; and one pound of hop extract equaled to about  two and one-half pounds of hops, a plus for shipping. An 1886 article in the Waterville Times proclaims, "Lest anyone should question whether this hop extract is mixed or in any way a substitute for the hop, we will add that for many years they have made, and still make, a standing offer of $1000 for an ounce of anything but the pure hop found in any quantity from their works."

Celia Roberts Jones, mentioned above, added the following anecdote: one officer of the plant, experimenting with the extract liquid, added confectioner's sugar and boiled it down to cake form, something like fudge. This solid product was made for "medicinal purposes".

At its heyday, the plant converted about 150 bales of hops per day into about 2000 pounds of extract, and was running day and night to keep up with the demand, with two men relieving each other every twelve hours. There were about 15 men working each shift. Working at the hop works was dangerous business: one man, lost some fingers while removing a belt; another had his hair and face burned in a gas explosion.  

In 1897, the engine house (where the boilers were) caught fire. Fortunately, the building was brick with a tin roof and located quite a distance from the works. Had it  caught in the main factory building the damage would have been enormous. Gasoline was used in the work of extracting hops, and a new supply had just been placed in storage. However, it was confined to the one building, easily controlled and put out. The origin of the fire remained a mystery. Arson was suspected; and a pile of hop residue was found in front of the boilers: possibly the fire started there, However it occurred, the plant was closed for while for repairs but then started up again as busy as ever. 

After a time, however, the plant closed, a victim of the low prices of hops, around 1902, although there was still enough product stored to meet demand. Some talk was made about using the plant to extract rubber. But in 1935 the brick building was razed, and in 1937 the 70-foot brick chimney was demolished by the State Highway Department, using 92 sticks of dynamite. The plant was the only hop extract works in the world at that time.   

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Forge Hollow

Forge Hollow was another once-thriving, prosperous community in the Town of Marshall. The first white settler (according to the 1860 Gazetteer) was David Barton in 1792. He first settled in land on the Brothertown Patent (on West Hill on the Bishopp farm) and was obliged to move). Forge Hollow was notable for its forges - hence the name. It used ore from Clinton and later scrap iron to turn into farm tools. The first forge was built in 1801 by Daniel Hanchett, John Winslow, Thomas Winslow and Ward White. It was located a short distance down the stream from the caves and was known as the upper forge.  In 1808, Hanchett went into partnership with Skinner. The last forge man and blacksmith was Yemmans Phinney. Hunkerford & Daniels operated what was called the lower forge. As a side note, the curve on Route 315 going in known as Daniel's Nose. Forge Hollow was also known for its grist mills and saw mills; near the old stone school house was the Mowery Tefft sawmill, and further upstream was the grist mill, operated by Isaac Jones. There was a blast furnace, originated by Andrew S. Pond and later operated by Billy Titus.  Forge Hollow also boasted a Universalist church, a furniture store, run by M.L. Lyman, at least two hotels or public houses, shop and a school. Willona Creek (or Big Creek or the West Branch of the Oriskany Creek) provided water for the grist mills and sawmills. A plank road extended from Waterville through Forge Hollow to Deansboro, later replaced by a hard macadam road. Yes, Forge Hollow was a important, busy place, where Town business was conducted in either Donohue's Hotel or the Ryan Building, and was bustling until the Chenango Canal was opened in 1837, followed by the railroad in 1867.  Even though Forge Hollow has declined - the forges and mills are gone - it is still celebrated for the cave-pocked limestone cliffs over which a spring bubbles to a pool below. In fact, one of the largest caves in Central New York can be found on the highway near Forge Hollow. In the same area, plenty of horsebone rock can be found.  In 1885, a scorpion fossil was found in the caves, and appeared in a exhibit in the American Museum of Natural History. This fossil is associated with the fossil Eurypterid, the oldest fossil in New York State. Today, one can see bicyclists stopping by for a cool drink, or people filling water jugs with the spring water from the "hollow." In the wintertime, water drips down the fact of the cliff, forming huge icicles.

NOTES:  The annual Senior's Night Out was October 22, and it was well attended with good food and good company. Bingo was on the schedule following the meeting and the following won prizes: Paul Cornelius, Mabel and Mike Silliman, Nelson Blau, Bob Dangler, Joyce and John Ingraham, Charlie Angier, and Debbie and Ron Steinmann.

Also well attended was the Congregational UCC's Harvest Dinner October 24. Congratulations to Dana Schliffit of Earlville, who won the quilt made by members of the Women's Fellowship.

The Oneida County Health Department has determined that the water from the spring in Forge Hollow is contaminated and unsafe to drink. Ironic, since so many partake of the water.

The Marshall Historical Society is planning to publish a book detailing all businesses in the Town of Marshall, both past and present. If you received a notice about your business, please return it so work can start on the project.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Motor Mechanics

During the first two years of World War II, women explored the mysteries of spark plugs and carburetors. They learned what makes a car run, how to perform minor repairs and change a tire - in short, the car inside and out - in a course of Motor Mechanics so they would  be prepared if they are needed to drive ambulances or take men's places in mechanical jobs during the war.  Little could be found on the Motor Mechanics course in the Town of Marshall except from photographs from 1942, courtesy of Eleanor Dawes of Clinton, formerly of Deansboro. In the photos are several women from Deansboro, wielding tire irons and wrenches, learning how to change a tire or intently studying spark plugs, taught by Hardie Sanders.  Some of the women were Clara Cornelius, Esther Sanders, Cecile Pierce, Charlotte Bishopp, Margurite Kennard and Eleanor Dawes. There were about 12 women in the class. There was also a Motor Mechanics class in Waterville, taught by Alphonse Rienzo, which possibly some Town of Marshall residents attended. 

Congratulations to Jessica Scoones, daughter of Jody and David Scoones of Deansboro, who was part of a Solar Decathlon through Alfred University, where she is an engineering student. The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. Jessica's team, one of 20 in competition, was in collaboration with SUNY Alfred. The house featured solar panels, radiant flooring and many other features. Her team reconstructed the house in Irvine, California in October, and won awards for affordability, comfortable temperature, and electrical. Jessica's mother and father also traveled to California to witness the competition.

Welcome to the Gary Comstock family, who recently purchased the Robert Palusky home on VanHyning Road. The Comstocks are from Clinton, where Gary previously owned Alexander's Cafe, where Stan's Coffee Shop used to me. The Paluskys are living across the road at Blueberry Brook.

Sympathy of the community is extended to the family of Allen Benedict of Deansboro, who passed away October 28 at the Siegenthaler Center. He leaves his wife Joan Barker Benedict, sons Keith and Kevin, and many grandchildren, relatives and friends. Allen and Joan have owned and operated Ye Olde Canal Shoppe on Main Street, Deansboro for many years.

Dave Sullivan writes that KD Homes is building a new home on Gridley Paige Rd. for Brent & Lindsay Gilchrest and their family. Brent runs the Waterville Animal Resort and Lindsey is a registered nurse. They are building on what was the Clark Lallier farm. We would like to welcome them to our town.

The Marshall Historical Society is planning to publish a book detailing all businesses in the Town of Marshall, both past and present. If you received a notice asking about details concerning your business, please return it so work can start on the project.  If you didn't receive a notice and would like your business included, please let us know.

Do you have pictures of happenings in the Town of Marshall? In January, bring your pictures to the Town Hall and we will scan them for posterity and return them to you. We'll let you know the date. In the meantime, pour over your old albums (that's fun!). Any archives (business' calendars, etc.) you'd like to share with us? Keep the Historical Society in mind.