Archives for category: Cooperstown Graduate Program

Historic medicines infamously used dangerous chemicals or ineffective ingredients, resulting in people accidentally poisoning themselves or never getting better. The popularity of questionable medicines, lack of pharmacists with proper training, and pharmacies selling grocery items led to pharmacies getting a bad reputation in the late nineteenth century [1]. Despite these negative ideas, pharmacists Jarvis and Bliss ran a pharmacy from 1870-1895 in Cooperstown, New York where they worked with local partners to provide helpful medicine to the community [2]. While the medicine itself may have been problematic, Jarvis and Bliss strived to make quality products.

We know about the Jarvis & Bliss pharmacy thanks to some artifacts, namely a three-and-a-half-inch tall clear glass medicine bottle with “Jarvis & Bliss / Druggists / Cooperstown, NY” embossed on its side.  The glass material and a lack of an accompanying prescription label suggests the bottle was constructed to last, and customers likely often reused the bottle for refills, a popular trend for pharmacists and customers [3]. In fact, this bottle appears used due to some whitish film inside and a chip near the bottle opening, but it is unknown what this bottle actually contained.

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Medicine Bottle, 1872-1895, glass, L: 3.5  x W: 1.25 in. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown, New York, F0044.1970. Photography by Jen Vos.

While Jarvis and Bliss owned the pharmacy, they worked with others to provide quality products. A maker’s mark on the bottle, “S.B.W,” demonstrates the pharmacists cared about their bottles and their advertisement to the community as the bottle would need an expensive custom mold to include their label. The clear name “Jarvis & Bliss” on the bottle also guarantees that customers would not forget their local pharmacy every time they reached for their medicine. Even now, their name and the memory of the pharmacy remain because of the bottle’s construction and clear label.

Jarvis and Bliss not only cared about the reliability of their bottles, but also the medicine that went into the bottles. Much like they worked with S.B.W for a quality bottle, they worked with local doctors and physicians for more reliable medicine. As a result, they advertised having “Pure Drugs & Medicine,” although they still sold the popular nonprescription medicines [4]. By focusing on quality products and durable advertisements with the help of their partners, the pharmacists aimed to establish a good reputation with their community.

While the medicine in the bottles may be questionable, Jarvis and Bliss undoubtedly worked hard as entrepreneurs to serve their local town of Cooperstown by creating products with the help of partnerships from doctors and manufacturers. While pharmacies continue this work today, big name corporations replaced locally owned pharmacies and regulations better control medicine. Nevertheless, today’s medicine bottles feature brand names their customers develop opinions about. Today’s pharmacies continue aim to establish reliability and serve their customers, similar to Jarvis and Bliss’s work over a hundred years ago.

Thank you to Jen Vos for her research.

-Post by Brittany Boettcher

[1] John S. Haller Jr., American Medicine in Transition: 1840 – 1910 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 267.

[2] “Business Change,” The Freeman’s Journal (Cooperstown, NY), October 24, 1895, New York State Historic Newspapers, accessed February 28, 2018, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn83031222/1895-10-24/ed-1/seq-3/.

[3] Jane Busch, “Second Time Around: A Look at Bottle Reuse,” Historical Archaeology, 21, no. 1 (1987): 69, accessed February 28, 2018, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25615613.

[4] Jarvis and Bliss, advertisement, The Freeman’s Journal (Cooperstown, NY), August 14, 1873, New York State Historic Newspapers, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn83031222/1873-08-14/ed-1/seq-3/.

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Seed Box, c.1880, wood, paper, H: 5 x W: 9.25 x L: 22 in. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown, New York, F0507.1951.

Who else turns to gardening after a rough day? It can’t be just me. I’ve found there is no better way to end a rough day than to pull on some old clothes, put on some tunes, and tackle a much-needed gardening project.

The smell of freshly turned dirt.

The bees buzzing from bloom to bloom.

The satisfaction of pulling a particularly stubborn weed.

Perfect garden therapy.

The problems of the day seem to drift away like dandelion fluff on the breeze when I’m among the plants.  I’m always reassured that I’m not some crazy witchlike caricature from fairy tales when I find similar minded people both in the present and the past. One such person is Hiram Sibley.

As the president of the Western Union Telegraph Company in the mid 1800s, Sibley was used to success, wealth, and things going his way. His company’s’ biggest success was connecting the east and west coast of the US by telegraph line.  Sibley moved to more ambitious plans to connect the US and Russia by telegraph, but ultimately failed when the cost became too much [1].

The epitome of a no good, bad day.

With a shattered telegraph career, Sibley tried a few other things before finally turning to the seed supply industry.  While not your typical backyard gardening endeavor, Sibley found a new profitable passion to pursue.  He bought previously unused land near Rochester, NY and Chicago, IL to establish greenhouses and farms to grow and breed plants that produced seeds for sale.  Sibley imported plants and seeds from around the world to the US and bred them to produce the best yield and be the hardiest [2]

Today, seed packets can be found in practically any hardware or big box store.  In Sibley’s time things were a little different.  Sibley needed to find a way to not only advertise his new seed business, Hiram Sibley & Co. but distribute the seeds he grew.  The box pictured above is how Sibley sold his seeds.

The box came with 37 different seed packets, all that would have been selected from a mail order catalog.  The catalogue from 1883 lists brief planting instructions, prices, and uses for dozens of vegetables, perennials, flowering bulbs, climbing plants, ornamental grasses, in additions to bulk farm seeds such as corn, oats, cotton, tobacco, wheat and many more. [3]

 

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Sibley, Hiram. Hiram Sibley and Co’s Seed Catalouge for 1883. Rochester, New York. 1883

Anyone, from the leisure gardener to the stalwart farmer, could find what they needed at the Hiram Sibley & Co. Sibley’s savvy entrepreneurial spirit made it possible for him to bounce back from what could have been financial disaster for anyone else, and cultivate success.  Without his failures in the telegraph industry, a profitable, innovative company would never have blossomed in upstate New York.

So while I can promise that I won’t disappear to New York to start my own seed company after a bad day, you can still find me happily digging in the garden, growing my own roses of success.

–Karina Kowalski

 

 

 

[1] Scientific American Supplement. “Hon. Hiram Sibley.”  21, no. 530 (February 27, 1886) Accessed 25 March 2018. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13399/13399.txt

[2] Ibid.

[3] Sibley, Hiram. Hiram Sibley and Co’s Seed Catalouge for 1883. Rochester, New York. 1883. Accessed March 24, 2018. https://ia802503.us.archive.org/2/items/hiramsibleycosse1883hira/hiramsibleycosse1883hira.pdf.

 

N0014.2012 image

Middy Blouse, linen, 25.5″ x 22″ x 17.75″. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, N0014.2012.

“If you build it, they will come.”[1] This famous quote from the movie Field of Dreams captures the essence of Cooperstown, New York’s sports atmosphere. People, inspired by the sport’s supposed birthplace, constructed the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Dreams Park to entice people to visit and pay homage to America’s favorite pastime. Today, Cooperstown welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world.

While the quote complements the town’s tourism attractions, the opposite occurs for Bundy and Cruttenden Company, a retail-turned-manufacturer that operated in Cooperstown from the mid-1800s to the late 1920s. Sports and fashion fueled the decision behind the company’s switch in enterprise. Instead of building and having customers arrive, the demands of women participating in sports caused Bundy and Cruttenden Company to change revenue ventures. They did not have to build anything for women to come, they had to adapt since people were already there looking for athletic clothing.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, women and girls participated in gym classes and pursued athletic activities that required greater ranges of movement than archery or croquet. However, long skirts and structured corsets hindered them from fully engaging and enjoying other sports. They simply could not move. Thankfully, the middy blouse solved this problem.

Invented in 1908, the middy blouse was a women’s athletic shirt made of cotton or linen and tailored to have straight lines from shoulder to hip.[2] This loose fitting shirt allowed for women to freely move, thus increasing women’s opportunities to participate in athletic activities.

As a result, demand for middies skyrocketed. Women and girls wanted to be comfortable when playing sports or participating in gym class and rushed to the stores to acquire this new piece of fashion. The increase in demand caused the owners of Bundy and Cruttenden Company to make some changes.

When Bundy and Cruttenden Company opened in 1876, the department store sold several items including clothing, furniture, and bed linens. But, the rising demand for girls and women’s gym clothing inspired the company to take a risk and change its business strategies. In 1928, the Main Street retail store transformed into a manufacturing warehouse.[3] Employees of Bundy and Cruttenden were no longer salesmen of various goods, but creators of women’s athletic wear.

The owners and managers of Bundy and Cruttenden Company during the late 1800s and early 1900s saw an opportunity to increase revenues by changing its business pursuits. And due to this entrepreneurial decision, Bundy and Cruttenden Company was no longer a local retail store in Otsego County, but a local manufacturer filling the orders of customers throughout the country and helping women pursue more athletic ventures.

Post written by Beata Hlinka

[1] Field of Dreams, directed by Phil Alden Robinson (1989; Universal City, CA: Universal Studios, 1992), VHS.

[2] Patricia Campbell Warner, When the Girls Came out to Play: The Birth of American Sportswear (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2006), 218.

[3] “Local Company Files for Bankruptcy,” The Freeman’s Journal, March 12, 1930, accessed March 26, 2018, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn83031249/1930-03-12/ed-1/seq-4/.

A trunk can protect memories, but also be part of a memory that represents the conquest of a community in the middle of a wild forest. Some objects can help us to understand the past of consumption and also its environmental impact in human history.

The trunk in figure 1 was designed by Hervey Luce in Cooperstown N.Y.  Its symbolized a business owner and craftsman attempting to meet not only the basic needs of his customers, but also their romanticized, yet conflicting ideas about nature. The design and construction of a trunk  demonstrates another motive: people remained enamored with the idea of unsettled land because it was an opportunity to instill control.  Hervey Luce sold goods that symbolized aspirations as: acceptable, refined commodities that conquered nature.

 

Trunk

Fig. 1 Trunk. The Farmer’s Museum Collection. Cooperstown, N. Y., N0064.1977. (Photo: Beata Hlinka)

 

The wood began as an organic shape; a tree with bark, branches, and animal scratches. Then it was cut, measured, cut again, and assembled to form a geometric shape that allowed people to store goods inside.  Trunks were typically strapped to stagecoaches and other carriages when people traveled, thus susceptible to rain, snow and other weather elements. Because of extensive deforestation, many animals such as wolves and deer retreated deeper into whatever forest remained.

In addition to taming wildlife to satisfy the desires of customers, Hervey Luce’s trunk demonstrates entrepreneurship with its personalization. On the lid of the trunk are the initials “D.F.” in brass head tacks. This signifies that Hervey Luce’s customers were able to customize their purchases and demonstrates that there were clients in Cooperstown who were wealthy enough to afford this option. Thus, while the hide and wood of the trunk represent tamed wilderness, the personalized tack design reveals the need for modern style in Cooperstown, New York.

 

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Fig. 2 Trunk (tag). The Farmer’s Museum Collection. Cooperstown, N. Y., N0064.1977. (Photo: Beata Hlinka)

The trunk is made of natural materials, which fit the image of wilderness adventure, but is tamed by its geometric shape, the fact that the natural resources had to be killed to be used in the trunk’s creation, and the manmade brass tacks that hold the natural materials together and allow for the initials of the “conqueror” to be implemented in the design. The wilderness had to be tamed; forests disappeared and were replaced by fields while wild animals were hunted down and displaced.

The American Revolution inspired a generation of entrepreneurs and adventurers seeking new avenues of wealth. As a result, Hervey Luce created his own image; a businessman making a profit on his customers’ idealized notions of nature .

 

By Viridiana Choy based in the research of Beata Hlinka.

 

Bibliography

Hervey Luce & Co. “Saddlery, &c.” Advertisement. The Freeman’s Journal (Cooperstown, New York). November 15, 1819.

Taylor, Alan. “The Great Change Begins: Settling the Forest of Central New York.” New York History 75, no. 3 (1995): 265-290. http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/articles/nyhistory/1995nyhistory-taylor.html#note*.

Taylor, Alan. William Cooper’s Town. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.

Trunk. The Farmers’ Museum Collection. Cooperstown, New York. N0064.1997.

“It’s after six, what am I, a farmer?,” remarks Jack Donaghy to Liz Lemon when asked why he is wearing a tux in an episode of 30 Rock.[1] As a member of the wealthy, corporate elite, Donaghy knows the social importance of wearing the right clothes at the right time. As such, he would have fit right in in 1800s Cooperstown, New York. This powder blue hat box in the collection of the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown reflects the style and social class of the residents of this small town as well as the ingenuity of local entrepreneurs to succeed in a small market.

Hat Box Side

Side, H. Hollister Hat Box, c. 1837, pasteboard, paper, H: 9.5″ x L: 12″ x W: 10.75″ x D: 8.25″ Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Dr. Carolyn Olendorf, N0518.1942 (02), photograph by Mary Kate Kenney.

Hat Box Lid

Lid, H. Hollister Hat Box, c. 1837, pasteboard, paper, H: 9.5″ x L: 12″ x W: 10.75″ x D: 8.25″ Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Dr. Carolyn Olendorf, N0518.1942 (02), photograph by Mary Kate Kenney.

When H. Hollister set up his hat shop on Main Street in Cooperstown around 1839, he knew it was no ordinary small town. Incorporated in 1812, William Cooper and the other founders of the village sought to attract residents “already of a higher order than that of most villages its size,” with “more liberal tastes and a better style of living” than other settlements of its size.[2] The success of James Fenimore Cooper’s books set in the area solidified Cooperstown’s status as a resort community in the lush, forested mountains of upstate New York. Despite the small size of the village, Cooperstown was able to support multiple shops that sold fine clothing to a more upscale clientele.

Hollister’s shop could be found “At the Sign of the Golden Hat” according to the advertisement on a hat box that had once been owned by local resident, Alfred Olendorf.[3] Olendorf could have chosen to patronize at least one other store in Cooperstown (J.R. Worthington), but whether due to quality of products, loyalty to the business, competitive prices, or effective advertising, he chose to purchase a top hat from H. Hollister.[4]

The fact that this hat box survives at all indicates that Olendorf made use of it beyond its first trip home from the shop. Most likely, Olendorf would have stored the purchased beaver top hat in this box while not in use. H. Hollister knew this about his customers and used it as an opportunity to further promote his business. Not only would Olendorf be able to tell his friends where he purchased his beaver top hat, he would also be encouraged to return to H. Hollister’s shop to purchase one of the other types of hats listed on the label. Whether the customer required a fine hat of beaver or silk for evening activities, or a straw hat for boating on the lake, H. Hollister’s hats could complete any ensemble.

Despite the small population of the village of Cooperstown, NY, H. Hollister’s hattery stayed in business for at least 30 years. An 1870 census recorded Hollister “as the owner of $4,000 worth of real estate and $3,000 worth of personal estate,” translating to about $51,900 and $69,000 respectively in today’s dollars.[5] With an above average demand for fine hats in a small community and a shrewd sense of business and marketing, H. Hollister threw his hat into the entrepreneurial ring.

By Jen Vos

 

[1] 30 Rock. “Tracey Does Conan.” Season 1, Episode 7, Directed by Adam Bernstein, Written by Tina Fey. NBC, December, 2006.

[2] S.T. Livermore, A Condensed History of Cooperstown, with a Biographical Sketch of J. Fenimore Cooper. (Albany: J. Munsell, 1862) 68, 80.

[3] Hat Box, Fenimore Art Museum collection, Cooperstown, New York, N0518.1942 (02), “Documentation.”

[4] Mary Kate Kenney, “Hat’s Off! A Cooperstown Hatter and Local Entrepreneurship,” Cooperstown Graduate Program. Cooperstown, New York, 2018.

[5] 1870 U.S. Census, Otsego County, New York, population schedule, Cooperstown, p. 3, dwelling 22, family 25, Harvey Hollister; digital image, Ancestry.com, accessed February 6, 2018, http://ancestry.comwww.in2013dollars.com