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A FEW SYRACUSE BUSINESSES OF THE LATE 1800'S

City of Syracuse

Submitted by Kathy Crowell October 1, 1998.

These Syracuse businesses were part of the personal sketches in Dwight H. Bruce's (ed.), Onondaga's Centennial, Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. II, but are more appropriately business sketches.  For information on other Syracuse businesses by owner, try biographies on the main page.


The firm of  Cashman & McCarthy, Syracuse, is composed of Thomas Cashman and John McCarthy, and was formed by the present members in 1880.  They are men of wide experience, and have successfully established one of the most important industries in Syracuse.  Their business has grown from a small beginning to a large and increasing trade, which extends through Central New York.  Among their products are galvanized iron and copper cornices, window caps, finials, weather vanes, crestings, steel ceilings, and slate, tile, copper, tin and iron roofing, and among the buildings upon which they have placed tile is the new City Hall.  Their steel ceiling has been fitted to the Syracuse Savings Bank building, the Old Ladies' Home, the St. Vincent de Paul Orphan Asylum, and others, while they executed the metal work on the Grand Opera House, the Wieting Opera House, the Kirk building, and the retail stores of D. McCarthy & Co. and Dey Brothers & Co.  All of this work is the result of careful study and skill.  Pp. 59-60.

Clinton Pharmaceutical Company, Syracuse, was organized and incorporated at Clinton, N.Y., in Nov., 1887, with a capital of $5,000.  The original officers were John R. Myers, president; John Clark, vice-president; and William M. Bristol, secretary and treasurer.  In Oct. 1889, the capital stock was increased to $25,000 and the business moved to Syracuse, where it has since become a leading factor in the commercial interest of Central New York.  In 1891 the capital was again increased, this time to $50,000, and the same year Messrs. Myers and Bristol purchased Mr. Clark's interest and have since been the sole proprietors.  The incorporate privileges expired in June, 1893, but the original name was retained, and thenceforward the concern has been conducted as a private company.  The business extends all over the United States, but principally throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New England, and considerably in the South, employing from eight to ten traveling salesmen.  Regular pharmaceutical preparations are manufactured, such as are used by physicians, consisting of liquids, tablets, and pills.  Their chief chemist, J. Le Roy Webber, is known throughout the country as an authority on pepsin and kindred products.  They manufacture a number of specialties and enjoy a wide reputation." P. 394.

Davis & Brennan, Syracuse.--This enterprising firm is composed of William A. Davis and William H. Brennan and was organized Jan. 1, 1887, at which time two stores were purchased in the Empire House block on North Salina and West Genesee streets--the one on the corner of William H. Acker, and the other a little west of Frederick J. Baker.  Six months later they closed out the last named store, and Feb., 1891, they bought the Park cigar store on the corner of East Genesee and Fayette streets.  On May 16, 1893, they purchased the block in which that store is located from the Yates estate, and on Jan. 1, 1894, the store in the Third National Bank building on the corner of North Salina and James streets was added to their business.  Both are young and progressive, and by rare ability combined with strict integrity have successfully established an extensive and growing trade.  They carry on a large wholesale and retail cigar and tobacco business, mainly through the leading citizens of Syracuse, but considerably among the residents of neighboring towns.  Mr. Davis is a charter member of the Syracuse Bowling Club, and also belongs to the S.A.A. and Citizens Club.  Mr. Brennan is a member of the C.B.L., the A.O.H., the Citizens Club, the Catholic Union, and S.A.A.  P. 438.

Dey Brothers & Co., of Syracuse, one of the leading dry goods firms in Central New York, was founded by Robert Dey and is brothers in the spring of 1883, and from the start has taken a foremost rank among similar establishments in the city.  The firm consists of Robert, Donald, and James Dey, two other brothers having several years ago retired to follow other enterprises.  For many years the business was conducted at what is now Nos. 205 and 207 South Salina street, whence it was removed in the spring of 1894 to the corner of South Salina and East Jefferson streets, where a magnificent and imposing structure had been erected for the purpose.  This is one of the largest, finest, and most convenient commercial buildings in the State, and is almost exclusively occupied by the firm.  The firm has done much to abolish old fashioned and objectionable business methods pertaining to the dry goods trade, and has always been foremost in movements to promote early closing and the establishment of a weekly half-holiday.  Source:  Bruce, Dwight H. (Ed.), Onondaga's Centennial.  P. 483.

Gray Brothers Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Co. was founded in Little Falls, N.Y. in 1865, by H. H. and J. D. Gray, but was soon after moved to Syracuse.  At this time there were but few manufacturers of stylish and high grades of ladies' shoes in the country.  Levy Gray, their father, manufactured a heavy grade of ladies' shoes and the above served their apprenticeships under him; being men of skill and taste they determined to enter business for themselves, but instead of the heavy coarse work they aimed to produce an article equal to any make, and from the start their work was equal in style, workmanship and quality to any manufactured in the country.  In 1873 they exhibited their goods at the World's Fair at Vienna, and received the first prize over all manufacturers of machine made shoes.  They followed this up at the Centennial at Philadelphia in 1876, and received the highest diploma for both hand and machine made shoes, competing not only against this country, but the world.  In 1880 the firm was transferred to a corporation under the style of the Gray Brothers Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Co., with H. H. Gray, president; J. D. Gray, vice-president; D. C. Gray, treasurer; and G. S. Sanford, secretary.  In 1881 H. H. Gray died, and D. C. Gray moved to California; this left the business  in the hands of J. D. Gray and G. S. Sanford, who conducted it until 1889, when Mr. Gray withdrew, and moved to California, transferring his stock to William H. Warner, G. S. Sanford, and V. E. Maurer.  The corporation continued with the following officers:  G. S. Sanford, president, W. H. Warner, treasurer; and V. E. Maurer, secretary.  In 1893 Mr. Warner disposed of his stock to G. S. Sanford and W. A. Hill.  In the spring of 1895 Mr. Sanford retired, selling his interest to W. H. Warner.  The officers of the company are W. H. Warner, president; W. A. Hill, treasurer; and V. E. Maurer, secretary.  Their goods are sold in all the States and Canada.  P. 39.

G. C. Hanford Manufacturing Co.  Among the older and prominent manufacturing industries of Syracuse is that of the G. C. Hanford Manufacturing Co., established since 1874, of which George C. Hanford is president and Mr. Joseph Waibel, secretary and treasurer.  This house is best known in connection with the manufacture of the well known 'None Such' Baking Powder, besides which they manufacture a full line of choice flavoring extracts and two proprietary medicines:  Hanford's Celery Cure for the nerves, and Hanford's Balsam of Myrrh, a surpassing remedy for burns and the like.  This house was established in 1874 by George C. Hanford, and, for the first year or two, Mr. Hanford manufactured flavoring extracts only.  Along in the summer and fall of 1876, some experimenting was done with baking powder, and as a result, in March, 1877, Mr. Hanford started the now well known and celebrated 'None Such' Baking Powder, which for years has been recognized as the standard for purity and excellence.  About four or five years ago the manufacture of Hanford's Celery Cure, that well known remedy for 'nervous folks,' was added to their business and had a healthy growth from the start.  To these products, in Sept. of 1893, the firm added another old and well known proprietary article:  Hanford's Balsam of Myrrh, which has been manufactured by Mr. Hanford's parents for the last forty-eight years and which came to Mr. Hanford in the nature of a legacy.  The foundation of this house was begun in a very small way, Mr. Hanford himself starting the business in a small room on the third floor in the Washington Block, on South Salina street.  This was in the fall of 1874, and after continuing there a year or two, he moved to South Clinton street, near their present place of business.  Remaining in this location about six years, he thence moved to the present location, where the firm has since remained.  The corporation now employs three travelers and several employees in the office and factory; in advertising they expend something like $6,000 a year.  On April 1, 1893, the firm was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York, being capitalized for $35,000, of which $25,000 is common and $10,000 preferred stock; the purpose of the company being to carry on the business as heretofore conducted by Mr. Hanford and to manufacture the several articles above mentioned.  Pp. 21-22.

The Henley Shorthand Business College, Syracuse, was started in Syracuse by Miss S. M. Henley on Feb. 2, 1891, and three weeks later her brother, Benjamin J., was admitted to partnership; on Jan. 1, 1895, the latter became president and business manager, and both continue as proprietors.  The school first occupied one small room; now, seven rooms are utilized, while the number of students has steadily increased from one or two to seventy-five or one hundred.  The institution, at its annual graduating exercises, has sent forth graduates as follows:  On May 12, 1892, 71; May 19, 1893, 83; June 1, 1894, 98; June 1895, 95.  Up to June, 1894, the institution was devoted entirely to teaching stenography.  At that time a bookkeeping department was added, in which business law, arithmetic, commercial forms, banking, etc., are taught in addition to shorthand.  The college owes its eminent success to the fact of being able to place its graduates in positions, and works as much for this as for imparting knowledge.  Of the 252 graduates to June, 1894, 229 have been successfully placed in lucrative employment.  Miss Henley entered Lavere's Business College in Oswego in 1881 and remained eight and one-half years, having the responsible charge of the school much of that time.  Prior to this she was for four years a student and teacher in the parochial school of that city under the eminent theologian, Rev. Michael Barry.  P. 22.

Hipkens & Smith, Syracuse, started their present business in Feb., 1883, and conduct a general line of plumbing and gas and steam fitting, and in connection carry a large stock of artistic electric light chandeliers.  This firm, composed as it is of two young men of recognized ability, has since its inception established one of the leading enterprises of the kind in Syracuse.  Both members were born in this city in 1865 and through long apprenticeships have thoroughly familiarized themselves with the trade.  Frank J. Hipkens, the senior partner, was first with P. J. Gilroy and then with the late Alfred Tily each four years and afterwards with P. J. Dunn for six years.  George H. Smith learned his trade with Edward Joy and later was in the employ of P. J. Dunn.  P. 441.

Killian Kraus, Syracuse, watchmaker and jeweler, attended the old Government Horological College in Furtwangen, Baden, Germany, from 1861 to 1864, a period of four years.  In 1868 he came to Syracuse and in 1872 established himself in business as a dealer in fine watches of all grades, jewelry, diamonds, etc., and as a repairer of fine watches.  He has continued at his present location, 352 South Salina street, for ten years.  P. 443.

Kent and Miller, Syracuse.--This firm is composed of George B. Kent and Riley V. Miller, two prominent citizens and business men, and was formed in Feb., 1872, with headquarters in the old Bastable block.  Three months later they removed to their present location in South Salina street and in 1876 the adjoining store was added to meet the constantly increasing demands of the business.  The capacity and working force of the establishment has been more than doubled since the first year, when five clerks and four cutters were employed.  They are manufacturers of and wholesale and retail dealers in men's and boys' clothing, largely of the finer grades, and enjoy a trade extending over many of the eastern States.  Mr. Kent is a trustee of the Onondaga County Savings Bank, while Mr. Miller was for some time chairman of the board of trustees of the Commercial Travelers' Association.  P. 456.

The Manufacturers' Supply and Tool Company, Syracuse, had its inception in the Manufacturers' Supply Company, which was organized in Dec., 1893, by Charles Manz, and established business as general dealers in manufacturers' supplies, tools, machinery, etc.  The latter was succeeded by the first named concern, which was incorporated Feb. 22, 1895, with a capital of $10,000, and with C. A. Manz, president; H. E. Manz, treasurer; and Charles Manz, secretary and treasurer.  The business, which has grown from a small beginning, now extends over the entire State of New York west of Amsterdam, and is already one of the important factors in the commercial prosperity of Syracuse.  P. 417.

Massachusetts Benefit Life Association.  O. G. Moulton, Syracuse, came to Syracuse in 1885, and was made general manager, for the State of New York, of the Massachusetts Benefit Life Association, in the fall of 1891, a position he has since filled with great credit.  This corporation was founded at Boston, Mass., its headquarters, in 1878, has over 52,000 members, and is the largest natural premium association in New England.  22,862 policies were written during the year 1895, involving an insurance of more than $24,115,750.  Pp. 462-463.

McArthur, Wirth & Co., manufacturers and dealers in butchers' supplies, contracts for market and slaughter house tools and fixtures, cooling rooms, ice boxes and sausage machinery, 300 and 302 West Water street.  This firm is composed of Peter H. McArthur, Michael C. Wirth and Jerry F. Cooney, all capable and enterprising business men, and was organized in March, 1894, at which time they purchased the business founded by M. A. Shumway.  Mr. McArthur was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1851, traveled for several years selling butchers' supplies, and came to Syracuse in 1880.  Mr. Wirth was for some time a resident of Canastota, while Mr. Cooney has long been known to citizens of Onondaga Co. in various capacities.  Their trade extends over a wide and constantly increasing territory.  P. 80.

Mertens, Yann, & Garnett, Syracuse.--This enterprising firm, one of the largest in Syracuse, is composed of Jacob M. Mertens, Capt. Martin Yann, and John W. Garnett, and was founded by Messrs. Yann & Garnett in 1889.  In 1891 Mr. Mertens became a member of the firm and the present name was adopted.  Each member has a wide experience in the clothing extending over many years.  The firm enjoys an extensive trade, manufactures and deals in men's, youth's, and children's garments, and maintains a large, well-lighted, and handsome store in South Salina street.  Captain Yann was appointed one of the fire commissioners of Syracuse by major Ryan and held the position eight consecutive years.  P. 80.

St. John, Ballou & Co., Syracuse.--This concern originated with Joseph H. St. John and William F. Ballou, under the firm name of St. John & Ballou, on May 1, 1892, with a small salesroom.  Sept. 1, 1893, their regular and present warerooms were opened, and on March 1, 1894, a stock company under the above name was incorporated with a capital stock of $40,000 and with the following board of directors:  William F. Ballou, president and treasurer; W. H. Girvin, vice-president and treasurer; and J. H. St. John, secretary and manager.  The firm handles only pianos of the highest quality, such as the Chickering, Krakauer, Krell, Foster, and Sterling, being general agents for Central New York.  Mr. St. John is a thoroughly practical man, having entered the piano business under the tutorship of Henry Dreher, of the B. Dreher's Sons Co., of Cleveland, O., one of the largest retail piano concerns in the country.   He was also an apprentice in three large piano establishments in Boston and afterwards worked at tuning and repairing for about two and one-half years, which gave him a wide practical experience.  Having an inclination for selling he gradually drifted into that branch of the business, and in this capacity was connected with the houses of J. T. Wamelink and B. Dreher's Sons Co. in Cleveland, O.  In 1892 he came to Syracuse and has since ranked as one of the foremost music dealers in Central New York.  His aim is to elevate the standard of musical taste and to foster and encourage every kindred enterprise.  P. 46.

Sanford & Elliott, Syracuse.  This firm consists of Emmon H. Sanford and Chester M. Elliott, two well known members of the legal fraternity in active practice in Syracuse.  They do a large law business, and have offices in the Kirk building.  P. 400.

C. A. Whelan & Co., Syracuse, established business as manufacturers of and wholesale and retail dealers in cigars and tobacco in 1891, and since then have successfully built up a large and prosperous trade.  The firm consists of Charles A. and George A. Whelan and W. K. Niver, the business being under the immediate supervision of the first named, who is a practical man and has been identified with similar enterprises from an early age. P.400.


Submitted 1 October 1998