Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Thinking about the name Glenmont and Elisha Hurlbut

or There is Always Something New to Learn

A while back, March 14, 2017, to be exact, I wrote some thoughts about the name Glenmont and the story I heard about it. Pop over and read it.  I'll wait. 
https://bethlehemnyhistory.blogspot.com/2017/03/thoughts-about-glenmont-and-frazertown.html

Ok are you done?  Good.

Now, thanks to the detective work of Chris Philippo, I can shed some more light on the name Glenmont.  Turns out it was devised by Elisha P. Hurlbut.  Also it turns out that Hurlbut wrote pages and pages of journals from 1858-1887 and that Jeffrey Dunnington wrote his master's thesis about them.  And low and behold page 8:

"Hurlbut lived his entire life in New York, predominantly in the Albany area....

After residing in his native county for eight years, he moved southeast to a farmhouse just outside of Albany called Abbey Farm. Here, he significantly improved the property, maintaining a farmhouse that he renamed Glenmont-on-the-Hudson. Located on twelve acres, Hulbut gave the old mansion its name because it was “strongly marked by a hill and a glen,” yet it was a short carriage ride from the city of Albany. He feared appearing “snobbish” from naming his property, but he could not bear to keep the same name it possessed when the property housed debaucherous taverns prior to his purchase of the land. Hurlbut would live out the remaining thirty years of his life at Glenmont, prior to his passing on September 5, 1889."

So there you have it, the origin of the name Glenmont.

But did you get the part about the debaucherous taverns?  That probably refers to the old Abbey Hotel established in the 1700s possibly by a Van Rensselaer and later run by Hugh Jolley and later still by Henry Parr.  There is also this gem on page 78:

"As a man who avoided alcohol consumption, the drunkenness people exhibited on Sundays greatly irritated Hurlbut. One particular instance in May 1871 caused him to rant on the vulgarity of Sundays. After hearing the yells of “drunken carousers” at a tavern a quarter mile away from Glenmont, he saw a man, whose family Hurlbut had recently befriended, walk up the road to Glenmont where he passed out on the side of the road. After allowing the man to lie in a ditch for a couple of hours, Hurlbut summoned the man’s wife and children to carry him away."

Anyway, I am making light of Hurlbut because I like the phrase "debaucherous taverns."  He really was an important personage, influential attorney and judge (elected to N.Y. Supreme court in 1847), staunch advocate of Woman Suffrage, essayist about many topics including secular views on religion and phrenology. Husband to Catherine Cuyler Van Vechten and father to .Jeanette Cuyler,  Bertha Van Vechten, Gansevoort de Wandelaer and Ernest Cole.

You can read the whole thesis here.  https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/51290226.pdf

Figure 1. Photo of portrait of Elisha P. Hurlbut. The portrait was painted by Asa Twitchell in 1871 at Glenmont-on-the-Hudson. The portrait hangs in the home of Emily D. McDaniel in Franktown, Virginia. Photo taken by Jeffrey Dunnington

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Our Towne Bethlehem February 2020: Sand

Sand, what a weird thing to be thinking about in February.  Hope you enjoy the article!


Molding Sand


While trolling around the internet, I am alert for new digital documents related to Bethlehem history.  Not too long ago I came across a map from the New York Public Library entitled “Road Map of the Albany – Troy District.” It was published in 1897 by Geo. H. Walker & Co. of Boston.  While it very much appears to be a resource for those riding bicycles, what it got me thinking about was molding sand.

But first the map. As noted, it covers a wide swath of the Capital District including Bethlehem. Regular roads are shown with a double line. Cycling roads are solid red and poor cycling roads are dashed red lines.  Hills are indicated with slanted slashes of line, tilted to the right is up hill, to the left is down.  
A crop of the 1897 "Road May of the Albany - Troy District showing Bethlehem.  (New York Public Library)

Along the red cycling lines are words like sand, clay, stony, and gravel.  I assume these indicate road conditions.  Right in the middle of what was to become my own neighborhood are the words “sand plains.” The words are right across what is modern day Elm Avenue south of where Feura Bush Road crosses. I live nearby and like to garden.  Let me tell you, there are no sand plains in evidence.  What I’ve got in my yard is heavy clay. Now I know, some of that was probably churned up in construction, but I wonder if the sand that used to be here was harvested.  Which is how this map led me to molding sand, an interesting nugget of Bethlehem history.


What is molding sand?  Sometimes spelled the British way, moulding, the sand is a naturally occurring product that is used extensively in foundries for metal casting. It has just the right combination of quartz grains and clay that, when formed into a specific shape, creates a mold that holds firm when molten metal is poured into it.  Foundries to this day use molding sand as it is effective and relatively inexpensive. 

Bethlehem’s sand is part of a large layer of sand and sediments laid down in the late Pleistocene about the time that Lake Albany held the flow of water that would become the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. Over thousands of years, sand and clay settled out of the standing lake water creating layers. To reach the molding sand layer, first the sod and soil is removed and then the molding sand is dug out. Then the sod and soil is replaced.  For many years this was strictly a hand digging activity as the layer of molding sand in the bed could run from just a couple of inches to several feet thick.

Slingerlands and Cedar Hill were the centers of molding sand production in Bethlehem.  The December 22, 1875 issue of the Coeymans Herald reports that shipping molding sand from Cedar Hill had become an important industry.  It reports that Mr. Cutler employed on average eight teams and drivers plus a number of shovelers to help load the wagons.  Each team drew an average of about six tons of sand a day. The sand was then shipped to buyers via the Hudson River.  As the article notes, some was “schoonered” to Eastern States and some sent via canal boats to different foundries along the Hudson.

As early as 1886, Whitehead Brothers was active in the sand extraction industry in our area.  That year it was reported by the Coeymans Herald that they were taking advantage of the fall weather and “getting out immense quantities of moulding sand from their several banks and hauling it to points convenient for shipping.  Their shipments this season have been large and they still have numerous orders to fill.” In 1891 C.B. Baker of Cedar Hill sold a farm of 51 acres to William Whitehead for $10,344.  It was said that it would yield a large amount of molding sand.

Whitehead Brothers got its start in 1841 with sand found in and around Sayreville, New Jersey.  Retired peach farmer Samuel Whitehead, Sr. established the business selling to foundries in New York City, an operation which was greatly expanded by his sons, the brothers Charles, William, James and John. Whitehead continued to be active in Bethlehem for many years, and the company is still a going concern today, known as Whibco.

Over in the Slingerlands and Delmar area, the sand was extracted from banks near Union Avenue. For example, the July 25, 1919 Altamont Enterprise reported that William McMillan of Delmar purchased the molding sand band from the Blessing estate on Union Avenue. Jones & Kilmer Sand Company were also active in Slingerlands at this time.  As late as 1960, the Altamont Enterprise reported “Much Moulding Sand Still Shipped From Slingerlands” and that William McMillen, now an agent for Whitehead Brothers, still looked after his sand business. Slingerlands sand was shipped to market via the railroad.

Over the years, I have talked with many folks who remember the piles of sand awaiting shipment  near the Slingerlands railroad station and the Selkirk station. It was a while before I personally encountered molding sand.  As it turns out, the Slingerland Family Burial Vault is built into a hill of mostly molding sand.  While working on that restoration project, I scooped up a handful and it truly does hold its shape when you squeeze it.  Molding sand just feels different than beach sand, even the wet sand I’ve left foot prints in or shaped into sand castles. Somehow, it’s very composition is just sticky. 

And, to circle back around to the 1897 cycling map, I have no idea what those sand plains are on the map.  I can speculate about a flat-ish landscape and blowing sand from fallow fields, but I am guessing it is not in reference to molding sand.
 
Molten metal is poured into the mold at the Meneely Bell Foundry of Troy. There is a fascinating video on YouTube showing the casting process and the use of molding sand.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yWbVoTmLJo  Search on Meneely Bell Foundry if the link doesn't work.
 The image here is from the website http://bells.danmeneely.com.
##########################


P.S.

If you are like me and like trolling the inter-webs for old photos, be sure to visit the New York Public Library's digital collection.  They seem to add to it daily.  Search under Albany County, N.Y. and lots of good stuff will pop up.


Also if you have molding sand stories or pictures - please share!
sleath@townofbethlehem.org


And another P.S.just because I know you like old stuff.  In researching the molding sand article, I came across this auction announcement.  It is an interesting glimpse into what was available on a farm in Bethlehem in 1920.  And it touts 7 acres of molding sand.


AUCTION SALE
Of Farm, Farm Implements, Household Goods
WESLEY SIMMONS    AUCTIONEER
Will sell for the subscriber on his farm, 1 mile south of
Wemple Station on the West Shore R. R., 1 mile from the state
road west of Cedar Hill School house, 1 mile from state
road west of First Reformed Church of Bethlehem, on
Tuesday, October 12, 1920
At 10 o’clock, sharp, the following property:
FARM OF ABOUT 40 ACRES, Farm Implements and
Household Goods; also Bay horse, brown mare, 25 fowls,
about 15 tons loose hay, about 50 bushels oats in straw;
any crops that may be on ground day of sale.
14 Room house, attractive location. Good water sup-
ply. About seven acres molding sand. Ample farm
buildings.  Fruit includes Apples, Pears, Cherries, and
plums.
TERMS – Personal property, Cash day of sale. Farm,
10% cash day of sale. Remainder one-half cash, one-
Half on mortgage if desired.

By order of ABRAHAM VAN OLINDA

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Our Towne Bethlehem January 2020: Paper

I am intrigued by the very human desire to record things for the future.  Business dealings recorded with knotted strings, realistic animals and hand prints on cave walls, strips of papyrus covered in symbolic writing, ancient Chinese characters brushed on silk.  Humans surely love to communicate.

Paper



Are you reading this on-line or are you holding an actual newsprint edition of Our Towne Bethlehem? Paper is still ubiquitous in our lives despite the digital age we live in. I don’t know about you, but lots of paper, both old and new, comes across this historian’s desk.

The history of paper is of course entwined with writing. People have been pursuing the desire to record things for thousands of years using such devices as clay tablets, barks and animal skins. This desire to write things down and save them for the future is a uniquely human trait. Just think of the deeply ancient cave paintings in Lascaux, France. While not writing as we think of it, those images still communicate something human across the ages.

The invention of paper goes back to China with the oldest pieces being over 2000 years old, dating to 179 BCE (BCE means before the common era.) Paper at its essence is cellulose, the building block of plants, which has been broken down and suspended in water. The cellulose fibers are then scooped out onto a screen and allowed to dry. This thin layer of fiber binds together to create a sheet of paper. Cellulose can come from many vegetable sources such as linen, hemp, silk, cotton, even seaweed. Most common today is paper from wood pulp. Modern makers of high-quality writing papers still boast their cotton rag content.

By the 8th century, paper was highly used in the Arab world especially as intellectual pursuits such as science and math flourished. Better, easier to produce writing surfaces were needed. Europeans resisted paper for a long time. Parchment, stretched animal skin (a higher quality of which was known as vellum) worked just fine, at least up until the 1500s when the printing press came along. Interestingly enough, there was a period when parchment and paper overlapped. Copies of the famous Gutenberg Bible were printed on both paper and parchment.

Bethlehem’s archive of paper documents varies widely. The oldest ones are land records, deeds and indentures from the late 1700s. Most use a pre-printed form that is filled out in cursive hand writing. Road records, town board minutes, and vital records were entered into large bound journals. Old newspapers feel very different from modern versions. Old clippings printed on high cotton or rag content are soft and somehow foldable. Modern clippings, meaning those from after wood pulp came into widespread use in the mid-1800s, are brittle and fine.

A favorite set of hand written documents are John R. Adams’ journals. He wrote daily in pencil in small, pre-printed diaries, chronicling his life in Delmar. They date from July 2, 1900 to August 13, 1903, a time when John was in his late 60s. He died in 1905. You might recognize the family name.  His father and mother, Nathanial and Rhogenia Adams, basically established the hamlet of Adamsville, now known as Delmar. 

Here are a few examples of John’s writing from a snowy February when icy roads were the best for sleighing.

February 4, 1902. Tuesday. Cold & raw snowing at intervals all day but not much snow ground covered with ice and snow. Sleighing excellent – more teams on road than there has been seen in many a day. Hay, wood, logs, stone & in fact everything that needs to be hauled. All home not much doing except chores. Heavy snows in the western part of N.Y. Roads blocked mail delayed – no freight. Samuel some better, but not over his cold yet.

February 5, 1902. Wednesday. Fair Cold & Sunny. Sleighing grand – an icy bottom not a bare spot. Sharp horses are indispensable – had ours sharpened this a.m. Rec’d notice of being drawn as Juror in U.S. Court.

February 6, 1902. Thursday. Very fair and bright sunshine day, but cold. Sleighing 1st class. Russ & I went to Albany this a.m. Took 9 doz eggs @ 35c. Home 11:30 …Louise & I @ Phipps to the Euchre club, home at 1:00 a.m. quite a gathering 22 in all. a pleasant evening.
February 7, 1902. Friday. Fair, bright sunshine but cold. Sleighing grand. Home all day. Nothing doing. Rec’d bills of J.S. Messifield 13.98 …Squally in the afternoon not much snow. 

 
Mr. Degenaar of Bethlehem reads his newspaper with the family dogs circa 1930.

An advertisement regarding a horse stolen from Henry Vanderzee of Onesquethaw, town of Bethlehem,
from the Catskill Recorder, November 4, 1805.


 Want more of the history of paper? Read this book

Paper  Paging Through History by Mark Kurlansky (New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 2016)

Also, visit the Crane Museum of Papermaking.  https://cranemuseum.org/
The museum is a short hop over to the Berkshires, a small museum but well worth the trip.  When we were there they had hands on papermaking activities plus a nice little shop.  Nowadays, Crane makes very elegant stationary plus ALL of modern U.S. currency paper.  That fancy 100 dollar bill with all its anti-counterfeiting measures crafted in? Made right next door in Massachusetts!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Another Visit to the Albany Institute

This is a lazy post for the night before the night before Christmas (that is the evening of December 23!)

I wanted to share a couple of items from my recent visit to the Albany Institute while they were still fresh and had not been chased out by visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.  I specifically went to see The Schuyler Sisters and their Circle before it closes on the 29th.  And per usual with a visit to the Institute, I found some fun Bethlehem items. 


One item that caught my eye was this original journal from the 1800 U.S. Census for Albany County.  I have seen the digitized version and transcribed versions, but there is something cool about seeing the actual thing.  Wish I could have touched it!





The other interesting exhibit was the one on Walter Launt Palmer. His family had a summer place at Cedar Hill in Bethlehem.  Happily it was mentioned in the show.  Also I liked the landscape pictured here. It is called Autumn Skies and reminds me of the land around here - Five Rivers maybe?







The man himself, looking dapper, Walter Launt Palmer.

Hop on over to https://www.albanyinstitute.org/ for more info.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Real Estate in 1976

A real estate booklet from 1976 recently came my way.  (Thank you Anne!)  It is funny how much the prices have risen, but some of the houses still look the same.  I included the "now" pictures for 3 of the homes that I could easily find.  Enjoy!










Friday, December 6, 2019

Our Town Bethlehem December 2019: Shoes


Shoes, Shoemakers and Shoes in the Wall
(and a bit about the Scharbauer's of South Bethlehem)


As we move into winter, do you think about your footwear more?  I do.  Are these boots waterproof? Will they keep my feet warm? Will they support my arches?  Thoughts such as these get me to wondering about shoes in history, and specifically in Bethlehem history. 

Seemingly as long as there have been humans, there have been shoes to protect our feet.  Shoes have a long, long history from Paleolithic leather foot wraps to Roman sandals; from tiny shoes meant to fit the bound feet of Chinese women in the Tang Dynasty to the high platforms of the European Renaissance. And let’s not forget the iconic wooden Dutch shoe that became popular in the 1500s in the Netherlands.
Skipping ahead in time to the 19th Century, this is the time boot and shoe making went from a handmade process to an industrialized one.  Bethlehem residents could go to their local general store and buy factory made shoes or head into Albany for shopping at one of the big department stores.  However, one could still visit a local maker such as Ferdinand Scharbauer of South Bethlehem.

According to a biography of his son, Texas cattleman John Scharbauer, Ferdinand Scharbauer learned shoe making in his native Germany and followed the trade all his life.  It is not known exactly when he and his wife Rosanna arrived here, but their oldest child was born in New York about 1849 and the family shows up in the 1860 U.S. Census in Bethlehem. Ferdinand and Rosanna raised seven children in the South Bethlehem area.  In the 1880 Census, Ferdinand, age 70, was living with his son Christian.  Christian was a harness maker, a leather working occupation he perhaps learned from his father. In 1883, Christian and his family joined his brother John in Texas and they were both very successful cattlemen.  The other siblings remained in New York. Ferdinand (1809-1891) is buried next to Rosanna (1815-1878) at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in South Bethlehem.

Traditionally, shoemakers and cobblers are two different occupations.  The writer at footfiles.com puts it succinctly. “At one time, shoemakers were the skilled artisans tasked with making shoes out of brand-new leather, while cobblers were the ones who repaired shoes. In fact, cobblers were forbidden from working with new leather and had to use old leather for their repairs. The difference between the two trades was once considered so vast, it was a serious insult to call a shoemaker a cobbler (the latter of which, not so coincidentally, is a term that also means to work clumsily or bungle).The shoemaking  and cobbler trades were forced to merge around the beginning of the 19th century when the introduction of mass manufactured shoes left shoemakers out of work and having to accept lower paying repair jobs."  https://www.footfiles.com/subject/cobbler

Next time you put on your shoes, think of the long history of footwear, the many styles that have come and gone.  Even consider the aglet, the plastic tip of the shoe string that makes it easier to thread your laces.

Jessie Adams, daughter of John and Louisa Adams of Adamsville/Delmar, was born in 1860.
Notice her lace up boots. 


Concealed shoes are a fascinating find.  The ones pictured above were found in the wall under a window at a circa 1880 home on New Scotland Road in Slingerlands.  Shoes were placed inside walls and roofs going back to the 1400s in England and the practice carried over to the U.S. The shoes are almost always woman’s or children’s that are very worn. One idea is that they were placed to ward off evil spirits, or encourage good luck. Another is that they were related to fertility (you know the old woman who lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn’t know what to do.)  Interestingly, no written historic records about the phenomenon have been found, just the shoes themselves. 

Elsmere School, class of 1926. Notice the shoes!



Students pose at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse circa 1920. Notice their sturdy, lace up boots. 

And finally, a side note.  Google John Scharbauer and/or the Scharbauer Cattle Company. It is kind of a fascinating story of how a young man from a small village in Albany County, namely South Bethlehem, went west and made it big in Texas. Look for this book: Historical And Biographical Record of the Cattle Industry and Cattlemen of Texas

I also found some interesting tidbits in the local paper about brother Phillip Sharbauer who stayed behind in South Bethlehem and made a good living for himself and his family.  He was a hay merchant and grocer. The 1900 US Census simply labeled his occupation as "Capitalist." The local papers had many entries for various events that took place at Scharbauer's Hall. Including skating - I couldn't figure out if it was ice skating or roller skating.  Or both. Fun!



You've got to read these old maps with a grain of salt.  Pretty sure this 1891 Beers map should read P. Scharbauer. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Our Towne Bethlehem November 2019: Tobacco and Cigars

Pop over to Our Towne Bethlehem for the digital version - my article is on page 12.
http://www.ourtownebethlehem.com/



Tobacco and Cigars
November 2019

Search on Google Images for "cigar vintage daguerreotype" and you find find plenty of 19th century
 men and their cigars.  This gentleman came from the Flickr group Vintage People with Dogs. 

Tobacco and Cigars. What a strange topic I know. Here’s how it came up. Not too long ago while talking about the hamlet of Slingerlands, I used the quote below that describes the village in 1886.

 “The village contains 44 dwellings, 50 families, 230 inhabitants; a commodious brick school-house and M.E. Church, printing establishment, hotel, marble and monumental works, store, 2 blacksmith shops, wheel wright and paint shop, shoe shop, cigar manufactory, R.R. station and several fine residences….Being near the city, it affords many conveniences to those who seek for rural pleasure and the quiet of home life.”

Very nice right? But then, someone asked, “Where was the cigar manufactory?” I had no idea, but my curiosity was piqued. The question also brought to mind the ad for Pigaback Cigars with its cute picture of a pig with four little piglets on its back. The image was used by Dearstyne Brothers of Albany in the early 1900s and catches my eye every time I am researching in the Altamont Enterprise. The question also reminded me that tobacco was a very big deal in the early colonial times in what was to become Bethlehem.


Tobacco use has a long history with the native peoples of the Americas. European explorers of the 1500s encountered it and brought the practice of smoking tobacco, and the seeds to grow it, back to their home countries. It is said Sir Walter Raleigh introduced smoking tobacco in pipes to England’s elite. Tobacco use spread quickly fueled by belief in its curative powers and it became entrenched in the American and European economies.

You might have heard of Albert Andriessen Bradt, the Norwegian? Often recounted is the story that he was the early settler for whom the Normans Kill was named. Bradt signed a contract in August 1636 with Killian Van Rensselaer to leave Amsterdam, travel to Rensselaerswyck and start a sawmill venture with two others. Van Rensselaer described the 29-year-old Bradt as a tobacco planter meaning he probably managed one of the tobacco plantations in Holland. There were tobacco farms there as early as 1616.

There is much documentary evidence of tobacco farming in general and Albert Bradt in particular in what was to become Bethlehem, especially in the correspondence of Killian Van Rensselaer. For example, in a letter dated May 10, 1638, Van Rensselaer writes Bradt, “This will serve to advise you that I duly received your letter in which you wrote that the tobacco looked fine…” The following May, Van Rensselaer writes to Bradt, “Now as to the tobacco which you sent me, it is a great loss to yourself and to me that the tobacco in these barrels was so poor and thin of leaf that it could not stand being rolled, which must be due to your having left too many leaves on the plants; furthermore the weight was short.” It must be noted that Bradt engaged in a number of activities in order to make a living in Rensselaerswyck including trading in furs, cattle raising, grain farming and sawmilling. By 1646, Bradt had left the tobacco farm to concentrate on his other money-making ventures.

Northern tobacco soon fell out of favor as the supremacy of Virginia tobacco grew. I did find evidence of one Bethlehem farmer raising tobacco in the Agricultural Schedule of the 1880 Census. Usher Otman, on his 34 improved acres, amidst the many bushels of corn, oats, rye, wheat and potatoes, produced 30 pounds of tobacco. He is the only one in 39 pages of records, reflecting approximately 200 farmers.  

And what about that cigar manufactory in Slingerlands? It was owned by Samuel Dickson. Dickson turns up as early as the 1870 U.S. Census where he is listed as a “segar maker.” At that time, he lived with his uncle and aunt, Alexander and Elizabeth Dickson McGilva. He was still making, and one assumes selling, cigars in the 1880 census and by the 1892 NY census he is a listed as a merchant. The 1900 census has him as a grocer. All this time he was living in Slingerlands with members of the McGilva side of his family. As a side note, Dickson was active in Republican politics, winning election as Collector in 1872 on a ticket topped by Albertus Becker for Supervisor.

Dickson remained single all of his life, passing away in 1900 at about age 68. He is buried next to his aunt and uncle at the New Scotland Presbyterian Church Cemetery.  His cousin Elizabeth McGilva was in charge of settling his estate, and her legal notice in the Altamont Enterprise is fascinating. In searching for heirs and interested parties, the notice begins with a listing of a whole host of people from the Dickson family of Cigarville, Onondaga County, New York.

While I don’t know how Dickson landed in Bethlehem or how he learned his trade as a cigar maker, a large part of his extended family was located in a village so famous for its tobacco product that they called the place Cigarville. One newspaper clipping headlined “Tobacco Farming Lost Onondaga County Calling” describes Cigarville as one of the “liveliest settlements in Onondaga’s tobacco land.” It continues, “a thriving little community which derived its name from its ranking industry, the manufacture of cigars from tobacco cultivated in the surrounding region. In its hey-day the Cigarville factory employed between 75 and 100 men, described as a rowdy, rollicking, quick tempered lot.” With the decline of the industry around 1900, the hamlet of Cigarville became Clay Station.

I don’t imagine Dickson’s operation in Slingerlands was on the scale of the Cigarville factory. He probably had a small business hand rolling cigars and selling them locally. Cigar making in general ranged from large manufacturers, there were several in Albany, to smaller operations such as Dickson’s. One 1886 book reports “The smokers of cigars and chewers of tobacco are as numerous in Albany as elsewhere. Most of the wholesale dealers and manufactures are also engaged in the retail trade… all of the retail stores manufacture to some degree…there are over one hundred firms in engaged in this branch of trade in Albany.” Elsewhere in the book, the writer notes that the Cigar Makers Union was organized in Albany 1879 and included between three and four hundred members.

This exploration of tobacco and cigars does not even begin to look at the history of pipe smoking and cigarettes, or the health consequences we are familiar with today. While I am not at all nostalgic for the bad old days of widespread cigarette use, the smell of cigar smoke does bring back fond memories of my dad. And historically, it is interesting to wonder about the roots of a wide scale industry that is still impacting life today.  If you’d like to read further, check out the book Tobacco How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization by Iain Gately. 

Cooke & Nelson’s cigar and soda store can be seen in this snapshot taken September 11, 1924. The building was at the Four Corners in Delmar where the Swifty’s parking lot is today. Cooke & Nelson advertised their confections, smoker’s articles, magazines and periodicals as well as
Syra-Cord tires and tubes for automobiles.




Another handsome cigar smoking gent from Google Images.