Glass Houses

 The Goff Glass House: The first glass house at Peterboro was located on the knoll at the corner of Peterboro Road and Bump Road, just west of the village. It was established by David Goff, who was born in Granville, Massachusetts, in 1754, son of Moses and Abigail Goff, who also had a son named Jonathan. Both brothers served in the Revolutionary War. David enlisted three times. At the close of the war, he settled in Hartford, Connecticut and learned the glass trade at the Pitkin Brothers Glass House. Here he met two brothers, John and Jeremiah Hoffman, expert glassblowers from Germany. In about 1793 or 1794, Goff and the Hoffmans headed toward the western frontier beyond Utica searching for a glass house site. They arrived in New Petersburgh just as the site was being cleared for the village of Peterboro. The factory was built about 1795. David's son Lyman was born in Peterboro in 1805. David and his family appear in the 1810 Smithfield census.
 According to Goff's journal, there were several requirements for the making of glass;first, trees of high potash content; second, sand of the quality needed; third, a good stand of wood for making charcoal;fourth, a catalyst; and fifth, clay that could be used for the furnace pots. Goff claimed that swamp elm had great potash content. There was plenty of hardwood for making charcoal and limestone was used as a catalyst. Clay was found in quantity in several places. The chief hindrance was the sand in the area--it was no good. So, sand was brought from Oneida Lake by oxcart in the summer and sleigh in the winter--twelve bags per load. The sand was washed and cleansed before it arrived at Peterboro.
 Glass was made when sand, potash, and a catalyst were fused together under great heat.
 At one time the Goff Glass House had 105 people working--woodcutters, charcoal burners, ox drivers, etc. To keep the blowers occupied, potash was also produced for sale. This was made from the ashes of the brush trash wood and from wood not needed for other things. The ash was made into potash by boiling it down in large potash kettles. It took 500 to 600 bushels of wood ashes to make one ton of potash. Trees during those days were cut with an axe. Saws did not come into use until after 1840. So it is understandable why so many workers were needed to maintain a glass house.
 The Goff Glass House closed in 1813. They had been selling their products in Albany but the nearby Guilderland Glass House was a strong competitor. The extra glass and potash were taken to Oneida Lake, then by boat to the Oneida River, up the Oswego to Oswego, New York, and was sold to the British in Canada. The War of 1812 put this market and the Goff Glass House out of business.
 David Goff then moved to Madison, New York, where he received his Revolutionary War pension of $96 per year. Between 1830 and 1832, he went to Cleveland, New York, where he helped establish the Cleveland Glass Works. At that time, he lived in Maple Flats, just north of Cleveland.
 Goff's establishment in Peterboro is credited with the 7" x 9" window pane, which was sold ready cut. They specialized in window glass and bottles, etc.
 On the creek in back of Carl Frank's workshop is a mill site which was very possibly where they used an up and down mill to saw the timber and also where they ground up the limestone. The large mill pond (between Carl Frank's and the DeGroat Homestead on the Buyea Road) was obliterated when the dam broke sometime after 1900.
  The Goff Glass House either fell down 1926 and 1928 or was taken down by a Mr. Campbell, who used it build a garage. Even during the early 1970's, there were still chunks of glass (cullet) to be found at the site. For the Old Home Day in 1971, Reverend Robert Rowe, pastor of the Peterboro United Methodist Church, used glass from the Goff site to make necklaces, paper weights, etc.
 The Smith Glass House: Perhaps about the year 1810, a factory was built by Jonathan and Abraham Turk along with R.M. Malcolm. In 1811, its name was changed to the Smith and Soulden factory when the business was purchased by Peter Skenandoah Smith (undoubtedly with money from his father). William Soulden, Daniel Petrie, and O.S. Wilcoxson. These partners operated the business until about 1818 when they sold to W.H. Backus and Dr. Fenn (Benn in some records.)
 The location(s) of this glass house is in dispute. Maynard Hauck's grandmother, Lila Hauck, stated that it was originally situated across the creek behind Maynard Hauck's house. There evidently was quite a bit of slag and cullet at this location in the 1930's so perhaps it validates this theory. Mrs. Hauck said that the structure burned after a few years and that they built a large one "over the road." In this statement, she is referring to what in later years became known as the Bliss farm, about two miles southeast of Peterboro. There are several clay pits still in that area (some filled or bulldozed in) where they used to dig for clay.
 Members of the Hoffman family, plentiful in the township, were employed here also. From 1820 to 1830, the population of Smithfield was larger than it has ever been since, due to the many workers required to operate a glassworks. The facilty contained twelve pots and ceased operations about 1830 when the furnaces were blown out and never relighted.
 It is this glass house that is credited with producing the glass window panes in the Langberg home on Park Street in Peterboro. This house was built by Elisha Carrington, an agent for window glass at Peterboro in 1811.
 This second glass house was a wooden structure 80 feet long by 50 feet wide. It was built with hand hewn beams. When it was destroyed by fire on Friday, May 19, 1964, it was being used to store antique furniture, cutters, plows, and carriages.
 Other Glass Facts (or Fancy?): In his 1899 Our County and Its People, John E. Smith writes that an old Smithfield account book of 1809 contained entries of "whiskey for the glass blowers." William Tuttle, in Pioneers of Madison County, lists a Francis Galliger who agreed to work for Peter Smith in the glass factory at Peterboro for 10 shillings a day-- this was in 1810. Probably this is the Francis Gallinger who died in Smithfield on June 1, 1833.
 As stated previously, the Peterboro glass houses were concerned primarily with the manufacture of window glass. However, they also made whiskey jugs, bottles and jars of all types, flasks, demijohns, bowls and canes.
 Peterboro glass can be distinguished by its deep bluish-green color. Later, when the bleaching process was perfected, the products still had a purplish-white cast.
 Grace Woodbury Ingalls (Mrs. Hollis) who lived in the present-day Spokowsky residence, owned eleven pieces of Peterboro glass, which, it is said, she purchased from the Hoffman descendants. Included in her collection was a glass rolling pin filled with salt and colored pieces of cloth. The salt was put in the rolling pin in the early 1800s when a little girl emptied out the whiskey a worker had put in it and substituted the salt. In 1938, Mrs. Ingalls was living at 514 Broad Street, Oneida. Also at that time Mrs. Charles Marks of Kenwood owned one piece and Hope Allen, then residing in England, had two pieces. A newspaper article of that year indicates that these fourteen pieces of Peterboro glass were the only ones in existence. Some of Mrs. Ingalls' glass was given to the Madison County Historical Society.
 The father of William Evans (who established the Evans Fund and for whom Evans Academy was named) was a stoker in one of the glass factories at Peterboro. William (Billy) was born on September 4, 1811, in the village. Because the father was a man of "dissolute habits", the family often had to depend on the charity of others. Billy never forgot the kindness shown to his mother, himself, and his two siblings. After he made a fortune as a public works contractor in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts, he determined to repay the town of his birth. He returned to the scenes of his boyhood on his birthday, September 3, 1856, and formally presented his gift. We might say that, had it not been for the existence of the Peterboro glass houses, the Evans family would never have settled in Smithfield and the Evans Fund would never have existed.
Cemeteries | Early Picures | Events | Family Snipets | Maps
Gazetteer | Pleasant Valley | Siloam
Smithfield | Towns
Home Page