Clothespin Factory
Ruined By Flames

Dateline: 25 May 1936
Moravia, New York, USA

As most of you reading this already know, I started an American-made clothespin business last year. I call it Classic American clothespins. Some of you have bought them. And I thank you.

I’ll have more to say about my clothespin business in an upcoming blog post. For now, I’d like to tell you about the article pictured above. It was sent to me by my high school friend Roger Phillips (Moravia high school, class of ’76).

Roger is president of the local historical society. If you go to This Wall Street Journal Link and click on the little movie clip, you can see Roger talking about Millard Fillmore. Millard was 13th president of this United States and grew up here. I’m pretty sure his wife was a Moravia girl.

Anyway, Roger found out I was making clothespins and he recalled that there was a local clothespin maker around here many years ago. He did some research and found the newspaper clipping above. 

The business was in Dresserville, which is a little rural crossroads town a few out of Moravia, and a few miles down the road from where I live. Roger checked a 1936 map and pinpointed the Robinson property (just about half way between Fillmore and Brockway Roads, on the west side of Lake Como Road.)

Not much is known about the local business, except, as the 1936 newspaper article states, it burned down. But Roger knows all the old timers around here. He asked a woman from that area about the clothespin company. She remembers walking by the place on her way to school (a rural one-room school house, of course) but she doesn’t remember the fire. She would have been 9 years old at the time, and she says that the clothespins were the peg kind (mine have springs).

I find it amazing that there was once a small-scale clothespin company right down the road from me. Were rural people more enterprising 78 years ago? Yes, I’m pretty sure they were. I think everybody was. It is easier to be more enterprising when there are practically no government regulations to speak of. And hiring some locals to help out probably didn’t require much (if any) paperwork. Besides that, I don’t think the government paid people who didn’t work (like they now do) so more people were motivated to work and create their own opportunities. I wish I could go back and see that old clothespin-making operation

Here’s the text of the article....

Clothespin Factory 
Ruined By Flames

The clothespin factory and woodworking shop owned by Merle Robinson in Dresserville, seven miles east of Moravia, was destroyed Monday afternoon by a fire of undetermined origin, causing a loss of $7,000. The building was protected with only $200 insurance, according to Mr. Robinson.

Six men were working in the building and they declared that everything in the shop was all right when they left for lunch at noon. The fire broke out shortly before 1 o’clock, before the men had returned to work. A telephone call brought a motor pumper from Moravia Fire Department but the flames had spread rapidly and nothing could be done to save the building.

Pumping water from a nearby creek, the Moravia Firemen assisted by neighbors saved the homes of Mr. Robinson and William Rhodes, north and south of the plant, from being added to the loss. Both houses were threatened time and again by flying sparks. The firemen worked under the direction of Brand Flowers, chief of the Moravia Fire Department.

The shop was equipped with machinery for the manufacture of clothespins, and also with complete woodworking machinery. Mr. Robinson had been engaged in the woodworking business in that locality for the last seven years, and for the last year in the manufacture of clothespins.

1 comment:

Rozy Lass said...

What a great find! You're right about government regulation stifling entrepreneurs. It's very discouraging to start a business these days. Thanks for sharing.