Early Mayfield Industry

With much appreciation, this history was written and donated by Betty Tabor, Mayfield Town Historian.  A note of thanks for permission to reprint the following information.  It is transcribed from a booklet she wrote for the town's bicentennial titled, "Mayfield  1794- 1994", pages 5-8.


    Due to the nature of many streams in Mayfield, there were a large number of tanneries, sawmills and grist mills operating in the area.  The tanning of hides was a big industry and later the glove business flourished due to the abundance of hides tanned locally, and Mayfield grew into a flourishing community with many glove shops large and small springing up in town, as well as gloves being produced in the homes.  In the past years nearly every business depended greatly on the glove industry.  There were other businesses scattered throughout the town however.  Some firms extensively engaged in the business of making gloves.  Supplying steady employment for the people of  Mayfield were Wilkins, Close, Christie, Wood, Brown, Kelly, Titcomb and VanDenburgh.  In the later years others joined the glove manufacturers including Alvord, Delaney, Donlon, VanBuren, Day, and Hollenbeck.  Nearly every family can trace back to, when someone in the line were engaged in the glove making business.  

    A more recent business is SLM which took over Coleco Industries in the manufacture of plastic toys and sporting goods.  The industry has expanded extensively from a small building in Mayfield on Main St. to several structures out of the village.  The Finkle Candy Co. also has its' main part of the business located in Mayfield.  At one time a brick business was located in Mayfield North of Woodworth Corners, operated by the Thompson family.  Many buildings exist in Mayfield made out of bricks made by the Thompson family and a few remains of the brickyard may be seen today.  One of the local buildings was a "little" telephone building on West Main St. presently a beauty parlour and the Convenient Store on North Main Street.

    The first fulling mill was erected by Oliver Rice on his property in Riceville in 1795, and was discontinued in 1835.  Josiah Wood built an iron foundry in 1815, also in Riceville.  He built and ran a grist mill and a saw mil at the same time.  About 1866 Mosses Kinney built a skin mill on the sites of Rice's fulling mill.  These mills were constructed on Mayfield Creek as they needed water for operation.  Remains of these mill can still be seen along the creek.  George C. Allen also built a skin mill on the site of the first skin mill, and Flavel Bartlett known as  the father of Mayfield's tanning industry, conducted a small tannery.  There was also a tannery on Jackson Summit and one in Vail's Mills which were both destroyed by fire.  Josiah Danforth also built a small tannery in 1839 at Woodworth's Corners.

    A grist mill was erected in 1773 by Sir William Johnson which was confiscated during the Rev. War and later sold to a Mr. Romeyn.  The mill had passed through many hands.  Mayfield has a historical marker at this site which may be seen near the bridge on School St., on the Mayfield Creek at Shawville.  We now call this area Little Mayfield Lake.  Although due to the bridge hazards, a high fence has been constructed.  Over the years many of Mayfields' boys can brag about jumping over the bridge to swim.  Others like to catch the "big one" there.

    The first store to open Mayfield was in 1800 by William McConnell at Wilkins Corners.  Many stores sprang up over the town throughout the years.  About 1840 James Blowers ran a store in his home in Riceville.  He later built a store which was operated by various families and in 1938 it burned and taken down by its latest owner, Delbert Wemple after serving the community for a hundred years.

    The Thomas Embling Store opened about 1900 and was located on School St., the building presently owned by the Mayfield Servicemens Club.  The building which has remained in appearance much like it was when built, has a few minor face-lifts.  Mr. Embling sold a large variety of goods such as groceries, flour, feed, hoes, and wallpaper.  several of Mayfields' older residents remember this store, and the store's sign has recently been given to the Mayfield Historical Society, after an area resident discovered it in his home being used as a bookshelf.  There have been many stores situated throughout Mayfield over the years.  They included Hartins, Elphees, Reynolds, Warners, Getmans, Perrigos, Schaffers, Grand union, and Blahas.  In later years Mercers opened a store on No. Main St., a brick structure.  Later it was operated by Mortimer and Robinson, then solely by Robinson's until 1973.  The building presently houses an audio specialist business.

    William Jerome is presumed to have had the first drug store in Mayfield, about 1876, and in his day one good linement was used to cure everything from ear aches, belly aches, cuts and bruises, and coughs and colds.  In later years, B. D. Brown sold drugs and many years later, Russ Hisert operated a drug store and soda fountain in the building presently housing the Convenient Store.  This building was used for many purposes over the years.

    The earliest records available on doctors in Mayfield show that John B. Day who came from Williamstown, Mass. was born in 1784, graduated from Williams College in 1804, licensed to practice in 1808 by the Albany Medical society and by the Montgomery county society in 1819.  He came to Mayfield and practiced here medicine here until his death in 1842.  He had 13 children.  Other physicians in Mayfield included Dr. Gilbert Ingalls, Dr. John B. Brooker, Dr. James Berry, Dr. Walter Gruenwald and more recently Dr. Phillips Horenstein, retired and residing in Mayfield.  Dr. Brooker who came from England, had a notice on his door noting that office hours were from 9 A.m. to 12 noon and from 1 to 5 P.M., 6 to 8 P.M. and fro emergency night calls, "ring bell".

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This part taken from, "History of Montgomery and Fulton Counties, N.Y.", New York: F. W. Beers & Co., 1878, Town of Mayfield, pg. 227:

    In the early settlement of this town, taverns were unknown as a place for the accommodation of the public, and not until the year 1808 do we find any record of such an institution.  In that year, the town meeting was held at the inn of William Van Buren.  Tradition, which seems to be reliable, says that Ebenezer Woodworth kept the first tavern in the town, in the building now occupied by David Getman, Esq., in the village of Mayfield.  Elisha Stone kept a tavern near the centre of town fro several years, but it was closed about 1863.  There are at present two hotels in the town, one at Mayfield Corners and the other Vail's Mills.

    John McKinlay was the first blacksmith of whom there is any authentic record.  He came from Scotland in 1783, and commenced business immediately.  In a few years after, William Williams worked at the trade at Wilkins Corners.  Edward Kinnicutt came into Mayfield, from Pittstown, N.Y., in 1801, and opened a blacksmith shop about a mile and a half north of the village.  Among the early blacksmiths were the firm of Smith & Billingham, who carried on quite an extensive business at the Mayfield village, and such was the physique of Billingham that he was named by the earlier settlers and known through life as "Old Vulcan".  There are now three blacksmiths in town.

    The first and only distillery ever erected in this was built in or about the year 1805, at Riceville, by Clark & Clancey, who did a large business for a few years, buying up all the grain used in their business in this and adjoining towns.  At that time all the wheat and corn needed for home use was raised o on the spot, while at  present nearly or quite all the flour used is imported.  Clark & Clancey's distillery went to decay, sharing the fate of other property in Riceville at that time.

    Weaving in early times was done mostly by the "guide housewife" and the grown up daughters; but in 1800 a Mr. Snyder came into to town, whose wife, Eveline, was a professional weaver, and could ply the shuttle a little better than the best.  She soon had all the work she could do, and in this way, supported a large family, as her husband was unable to contribute anything for their support.  They lived on the hill south of Anthonyville.

    The first physician who settled in the town was Lazarus Tucker.  He came from Connecticut about 1790, and located to the place where John Laird now lives, in the village of Mayfield.  He was of the old school, as, in those days, science had not developed any thing better.  his successors have been quite numerous, and at present Mayfield boasts of three well-known M.D.'s - Johnston, Vanderpool and Drake.

    Of early lawyers, there were David and William Kennedy, John Stewart, and William G. Waite.  The first two, who are brothers, still live near where they were born, in the south end of town.

    A post route was established in 1819 between Mayfield and Broadalbin.  Collins Odell was appointed postmaster, and carried the mails for the first two years, on horseback, between the two places, for fifty cents per week.  Soon after a post office was established at Cranberry Creek, with Samuel A. Gilbert postmaster, and then the route ran from Broadalbin to Fish House, Cranberry Creek, Mayfield village, and across again to Broadalbin.  Previous to this time, the mail head-quarters was at Squire McConnell's store, and the neighbors would take turns going to Johnstown after the mail.  when H.H. Woodworth reached twelve years of age, he had to go in place of his father.  He went on foot, nine miles, following the Indian trail, as no wagon road was built at the time and the region was wilderness most of the way.  A post office was afterwards established at  Riceville, but soon removed to Mayfield Corners.  On the 17th of July, 1861, a post office was established at Jackson Summit, with W. H. Shaw postmaster - the mail to be carried between that place and Mayfield Corners twice a week, without compensation.  The office was discontinued about the close of the war, in 1865.


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Copyright 1999,2000 Betty Tabor
Copyright 1999,2000 Jeanette Shiel

Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:14:04 PDT