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Curd Knife, 1875, David G. Young, steel and wood, H: 6.5″ X 2 “, The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown, NY, Gift of The Young Family, F0141.1987. 

Cheese is delicious. With the enticing and robust flavor that only fatty foods can provide, vitamin-rich and protein-filled cheese has long been an American favorite. The cheese industry in the United States was worth approximately 14.92 billion dollars in 2015, and the state of Wisconsin alone produced approximately 3,239,035 thousand pounds of cheese in the last year. [1] To see how the cheese industry reached such staggering heights, we must take a look at the tools that made cheese making possible in the first place.

From the earliest Massachusetts Bay colonists in the 1600s, Americans have been making cheese and gradually improving the manufacture process over the nation’s history.[2] This early era of cheese making saw the small-batch manufacture of cheese in individual farm kitchens and dairies, with households each producing their own varieties. English, Dutch, and German settlers throughout Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania all brought their own heritage recipes and dairy sources to bear on early American cheese making.  This stratified and specialized cheese production resulted in diverse flavors, hues, textures, and qualities across the marketplace. [3]

As the nation began to spread westward in the early 1800s, so too did the production of cheese. New York gradually supplanted Massachusetts as the US’ chief diary producer as more settlers moved into the plentiful arable land in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York, and the Erie Canal attracted more people to the state. By 1808, Herkimer County, NY established the beginnings of its reputation for cheese production, as “all who adopted [dairying and cheesemaking] flourished at it at once…” [4] By 1849, Herkimer County alone was producing 10 percent of all cheese in the US annually. [5]

An area cheesemaker from Rome, NY named Jesse Williams forever changed the industry upon opening the first cheese factory in 1851. Over the next 16 years, New York state saw the establishment of 499 cheese factories.[6] These plants utilized newer technologies, including the dairy steamer, a multi-source milk blending technique, and a distinctive way to press cheese known as the “Herkimer method.” [7]

One indispensable tool to the process of producing cheese, the steel curd knife, played an equally crucial role in both the Willaims-style manufacture of cheese and the independent mode of cheese production.[8] This curd knife, an example of which is pictured above, was first designed by Herkimer County native David G. Young. This curd knife represents Young’s entrepreneurship and innovation at a pivotal time in the shifting dairy and cheese industry.

 

The knives D.G. Young pioneered “nearly displaced all the former contrivances of use,” owing to its efficient and clean method of cutting curd (the solid dairy product that is pressed and made into cheese) and separating it from liquid whey. [9] As manufacture and sale of farm cheeses slowed to almost a standstill and dairying began to shift yet further west, the innovation of this Herkimer curd knife endured in Wisconsin and Ohio: the new frontiers of American ‘dairyland.’[10]

Kate Rowell

3.26.18

Footnotes

[1] “Top U.S. States’ Cheese Production 2016 | Statistics,” Statista,  https://www.statista.com/statistics/195764/top-10-us-states-for-cheese-production-2008/.

[2] “History of Cheese,” The National Historic Cheesemaking Center, http://www.nationalhistoriccheesemakingcenter.org/history-of-cheese/.

[3] Loyal Durand Jr., “The Migration of Cheese Manufacture in The United States.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 42:4, 264.

[4] Frederick A. Rahmer, Jesse Williams, Cheesemaker, (New York: Steffen Publishing Company, 1971), 6.

[5] Ibid, 8.

[6] Loyal Durand Jr., “The Migration of Cheese Manufacture in The United States.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 42:4, 272.

[7] The Oxford Companion to Cheese, Edited by Catherine Donnelly, (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016).

[8] Xerxes Addison Willard, Willard’s Practical Dairy Husbandry: A Complete Treatise on Dairy Farms and Farming,–Dairy Stock and Stock Feeding,–Milk, Its Management and Manufacture Into Butter and Cheese,–History and Mode of Organization of Butter and Cheese Factories,–Dairy Utensils, Etc,” (New York: Excelsior Publishing House, 1877), 214.

[9] Annual Report of the Secretary of the Maine Board of Agriculture, Volume 7, 1861, Maine Board of Agriculture, (Augusta: Stevens and Sayward, Printers of the State, 1862), 103.

[10] Annual Report of the Wisconsin Dairymen’s Association, Volume 9, Wisconsin Dairymen’s Association (Madison, WI: David Atwood Co, State Printer, 1880),76.

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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.

 

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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 any age of 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. The original wilderness that was Cooperstown no longer existed due to the accepted comforts of urban areas and the desire for profit and Hervey Luce, along with his employees, sold goods that symbolized these aspirations: acceptable, refined commodities that conquered nature.

 

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Fig. 1 Trunk. The Farmer’s Museum Collection. Cooperstown, N. Y., N0064.1997. (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 un-urbanized Cooperstown, New York.

 

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Fig. 2 Trunk (tag). The Farmer’s Museum Collection. Cooperstown, N. Y., N0064.1997. (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

Entrepreneurs are people who organize a business while taking on greater financial risks than normal. In the pharmaceutical business, everyone was taking a financial risk as they often had to take on other roles besides selling medicines to make ends meet. In Cooperstown N.Y., the pharmacy, Brazee and Boden which opened March 2, 1901, with  partners Edward Daniel (E. D.) Boden and Hubbard L. Brazee [1], had to be resourceful by selling paints, oils, dyes, and perfumes in tandem with their remedies [2].

A small container from Brazee and Boden, that was not used for medicine, made its way into the storage facility of the Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown N.Y. This container was recycled from Palmer’s Perfumes, a prominent perfume company from New Hampshire [3]. The fact that the container was relabeled for Brazee and Boden shows that the pharmacy took advantage of the partnership they had with the larger company. Rather than letting items within the store go to waste, as the druggist bought their wares in bulk to save on expenses, they sold excess items and, evidently, reused containers from their stock.

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Box (Bottom), 1945, Cardboard, (H: 7.75 in X D: 3.25 in X C: 10.21 in). The Farmer’s Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Withey’s Drug Store, The Farmer’s Museum Collection, F0114.1945, Photographed by Nathan Samoriski.

 

The bottom of the container reads, “PLEASE USE THIS PACKAGE FOR DISPLAY AFTER IT IS EMPTIED SOLON PALMER”, indicating that Palmer’s Perfumes wanted continued advertising of their product even after the item was sold by the smaller businesses. Brazee and Boden instead recycled the container for their own purpose, taking away this free advertising for the big perfume company.

 

Box, 1945, Cardboard, (H: 7.75 in X D: 3.25 in X C: 10.21 in). The Farmer’s Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Withey’s Drug Store, The Farmer’s Museum Collection, F0114.1945, Photographed by Nathan Samoriski.

 

Their new label reads, “BRAZEE AND BODEN PHARMACISTS. COOPERSTOWN, N. Y.” The label also includes spaces for “No.,” “Date,” and “Dispensed by:” however these spaces remain blank. Following “Dr.” “1.00” is written and hand-written on the label is “Zebra Re[d]” which could be a pigment or dye powder. The original contents of this container cannot be determined without damage to the Brazee and Borden label.  The Freeman’s Journal advertise that Brazee and Boden sold dyes as well as paints. Dyes were no longer limited to natural pigments. As of 1856, synthetic dyes made any color available and it is possible that the name “Zebra Red” is an invention of Brazee and Boden as advertising of this powder.

These entrepreneurs decided to save their money and reuse the abundance of perfume containers that their partners sent to them. Even though Palmer’s Perfumes wanted these containers to be used for their advertisement needs, Brazee and Boden claimed the containers as their own. As entrepreneurs, these men are taking a financial risk running a pharmacy in the early 1900s as they would not make enough money selling drugs alone. By utilizing what they already had in their possession, Brazee and Boden were able to save money on their powder containers and earn money by selling other items in their drug store.   

By: Aubrey Kirsch

March 26, 2018

Sources:

[1] “Obituaries,” The Otsego Farmer (Cooperstown, New York), Friday, May 23, 1939.

[2] Brazee and Boden, “Announcement,” The Freeman’s Journal (Cooperstown, New York), March 7, 1901.

[3] James E. Davis, Annual Meeting of the Manufacturing Perfumer’s Association of the United States, (Detroit: Speaker Printing Company, 1903) 127.