Carpet manufacturers Stephen and John Sanford of Amsterdam loved their horse farm in the town of Amsterdam. But other Mohawk Valley movers and shakers have gone to great lengths to indulge their leisure pursuits.
Broom manufacturer Charles L. Howard of Fort Hunter was a driving force in the Bourbonnaise-Kiameka Hunting and Fishing Club of Canada. During a memorable outing at Lake Simon in Quebec in 1914, club members caught 447 Canadian gray trout and 75 brook trout. As a Recorder headline proclaimed, “Over half a ton of trout caught.” Lake Simon was described as being twice as big as Lake Piseco in the nearby Adirondacks.
The breathless coverage of the fishing trip in the local paper may have had something to do with the fact that Recorder executive William J. Kline was one of the anglers involved. So were mill owner Charles Yund of Amsterdam and several prominent men from Kansas and Pennsylvania.
The Recorder reported, “Of the half ton and more of fish caught at Lake Simon none was wasted. Many were eaten, some were brought home, as stated, and the remainder given to the five guides and families living in the vicinity. The small ones hooked were returned to their native element.”
A 1920 newspaper account finds the club meeting at the Ten Eyck Hotel in Albany, with Charles Howard giving up the presidency. A new clubhouse was being built on Little Long Lake in Quebec at a cost of $1,100.
Charles Howard’s father, Ebenezer Howard, and John D. Blood began the Blood & Howard broom factory in Fort Hunter in 1859. It was one of the first factories in the country to make brooms from corn. The raw material came from the Fort Hunter area and even the Midwest. Brooms were exported to as far away as Australia. Blood sold out his interest to the Howard family in 1869.
According to genealogist Theresa Moran of Glenville, “The factory produced 12,000 dozen brooms valued at $45,000 in 1870.”
Fire destroyed the Fort Hunter factory in 1873, but it was rebuilt. When Ebenezer Howard died in 1891 he was described as “one of the influential residents of the Mohawk Valley.”
There were several major Amsterdam broom manufacturers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pioneer Broom on West Main at Pine Streets, founded by the Blood family, ended up being the largest, according to historian Hugh Donlon. Gardner Broom was on Elk Street and one of its owners, Herbert Gardner, indulged a passion for horse racing and owned 1929 Kentucky Derby winner Clyde Van Dusen. The Wasserman family’s Amsterdam Broom Co. was on Brookside Avenue. The former Wasserman complex was destroyed by fire in 2010.
The Howard firm merged with others to form American Broom and Brush in 1894. In 1902 Charles L. Howard became president of the company. The factory relocated from Fort Hunter to Walnut Street in Amsterdam. The company closed in 1934.
Charles Howard continued to live in Fort Hunter and died in 1935. Moran wrote, “He is fondly remembered by his only surviving grandson, Roger Moran of Amsterdam.” Roger Moran is Theresa Moran’s father-in-law.
Theresa Moran’s entry about the Moran family broom company won second prize in my recent Stories from the Mohawk Valley contest. She is retired high school librarian in Scotia-Glenville and secretary of the Capital District Genealogical Society.
There were 28 entries in the Stories from the Mohawk Valley contest. Monday through Thursday at 8:10 a.m., I will read two of the stories each day on my morning radio show on Lite 104.7 FM and AM1570 WVTL. We’re also online at www.wvtlfm.com.