after he arrived in America in 1847, Charles Duffy migrated to
Troy and worked in the iron industry for a company that manufactured
merchant iron spikes and horse shoes. From 1855 until his death
in 1859, he was a laborer living in Ward 6 near the Albany Iron
Works, formerly the Albany Nail Factory. The Albany Iron Works'
campus consisted of a company-sponsored public hall, a library
and reading room, and a chapel.
was employed at the Albany Iron Works at the time of his death.
The record states he died at the Nail Factory—the cause
was listed as diseased heart. (Obviously the recorder used the
former name of Albany Iron Works in reporting the death.) We are
unsure if he died on the job or in a separate building. An examination
of Troy's death records at that time revealed numerous deaths
occurred at the Nail Factory caused by various diseases. We conclude,
therefore, that a medical facility was located on the premises.
leaving Ireland for American shores in 1860, Edward Reardon also
settled near Iron mills in a southern ward of Troy—Ward
9, located a mile or two north of Charles Duffy’s Ward 6.
Since census records list him as an ironworker, he probably worked
at one of several large iron plants which lined the Hudson River
in South Troy. Nearby were Clinton Stove Foundries at Second and
Ida Streets, Fuller, Warren and Company at Monroe and RiverStreets,
and the Rensselaer Iron Worksat River Street at the foot of Adams
workers usually did not have a steady income during each 12-month
period. Between labor strikes and the iron mills often closing
for three months during the winter, it must have been challenging
to make ends meet. Since Edward was able to purchase a home 11
years after moving to Troy, we must assume work was fairly steady
and wages were relatively high.
son, John (my great-grandfather), followed in his father’s
footsteps as a skilled iron worker. He was employed as a molder
at Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Company, maker of fire hydrants
and valves, located on the former site of the Rensselaer Iron
Works. Molding required a long apprenticeship of between four
and seven years, great strength, and substantial skill. Also,
the molder was allowed to hire a helper.
the pay was relatively high, the profession was not easy. John
was engaged in the hot, dangerous, and delicate craft of casting
molten pig-iron into hydrants and valves which had to be completed
while the metal was molten. Sand or loam of the exact proper consistency
and wetness had to be prepared; the wood or cast iron patterns
(prepared by the pattern-maker) had to be filled with sand and
rammed strenuously to make a mold; the mold had to be rapped carefully
to remove the pattern without breaking the mold; and the molten
iron had to be poured quickly and evenly into the mold. A mistake
at any stage could render the mold unusable and entail the loss
of several days’ labor.
temperature at the foundry was well over 100° F., and John
would have worked multiple pourings each day with the molten metal.
The work was so strenuous that it could not be done continuously
during the ten-hour workday. Iron workers usually took rest breaks
between pourings, sometimes visiting the neighborhood saloon for
fortification and comradely relaxation.