New Lebanon Manufactories

New Lebanon,

Columbia County,

          New York         

by Captain Franklin Ellis431


     The heavy pine-forests along the Wyomanock caused many saw-mills to be erected on that stream at an early day.  One of the first was put up near Lebanon Springs by Gideon King, and by him sold to Samuel Hand in 1790, who operated it many years.  Near the place where this stood is now a steam saw-mill.  Near New Lebanon Asahel King had a saw-mill, and at Lebanon Centre Major Elisha Gilbert had saw and grist-mills soon after the Revolution.  This power has been constantly employed to operate mills, and now supplies the motor for a first-class grist-mill belonging to Joseph Adams.  At West Lebanon John Darling had saw and grist-mills, and near the present depot was another mill by Gale Bigelow.  Both these powers have been abandoned.  In the New Britain settlement Nathan Hand and the Wadsworths had saw-mills.  On the brook tributary to the Wyomanock from the north, are a saw-mill and cabinet-shop by Andrew Shillinger, and a grist-mill by Michael Bacher.

     One of the first grist-mills in town was built by Jarvis Mudge, on the hill-side, just below the warm spring, the power being derived from that source.  The mill was much patronized, and Mudge was, according to Samuel Hand, an honest miller, always giving the settlers full weight.  The old mill was replaced, about 1794, by the present structure, erected by John Tryon.  Additional power has been supplied by means of a flume from a neighboring mountain stream.  The building has been used for other than mill purposes, and at present stands idle.  At the springs a man named Perry had a woolen-factory about 1806, and Fellows & Williams afterwards had a large cloth-manufacturing establishment.  These buildings have been demolished, and their site is now occupied by cottages.  Here also was a machine-shop, operated by "pool" water and conducted by A. P. Comstock.

     At the foot of Mount Lebanon the Shakers have an excellent grist-mill, and in their village many factories, which are noted in an account of that place.

     John Kendall & Co.'s Thermometer Factory, at New Lebanon, was established in 1820.  A few years previous, Thomas Kendall, an ingenious Yankee machinist, living at Worcester, Mass., had experimented in this direction, and concluded that a thermometer might be constructed in American which would equal those imported and be afforded much cheaper.  Visiting Boston to learn something about their manufacture, he was assured that it was not possible to produce anything of the kind.  Nothing daunted, he continued his experiments, and soon had the satisfaction of possessing an instrument which at least approximated perfection; and if he could devise a means which would enable him to overcome the inequality of the caliber of his glass tubes, his success would be assured.  He succeeded in constructing a machine which made the graduation of his scale uniform with the varying calibers of his tubes, thus securing a uniformity in his thermometers which it was impossible to attain by means of the old system of using dividers.  He now came to New Lebanon and began the manufacture of thermometers on a large scale, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing them in general use, as well as being adopted by scientists as a standard article.  On his death, in 1835, his son John succeeded to the business, which has been much enlarged, and now possesses a capacity large enough to supply the entire country with this valuable instrument.  The factory is well arranged, and supplied with machinery which enables the proprietors to produce all styles, from the simplest heat measure to the most elaborated and costly instrument.  Mercurial barometers are also made in limited quantities.  Thirteen hands are employed.

     The manufacture of Aneroid Barometers has been carried on, at Lebanon Springs, by Edward Kendall since 1859.  The "Aneroid," or non-fluid barometer, is the invention of M. Comte, a Frenchman of Mendon, near Paris.  As constructed by Mr. Kendall, it consists of a brass cylinder five inches in diameter by an inch and a half in height.  It presents a neat and substantial appearance, but is very delicate to impression, and marks the approaching changes as quickly and accurately as mercurial instruments.  This barometer has been warmly recommended by scientific men, and has proved justly popular among those who desire a portable instrument, and one which can be used in any condition without any particular adjustment.

     The New Lebanon Glass Works are located at the village of New Lebanon, and were established in 1873 by a company organized for this purpose, March 18, 1873.  The capital stock was fixed at sixteen thousand dollars, and Joseph S. Reed, Ezra W. Drake, Thomas F. Conway, Jacob Wainwright, and Samuel M. Bassett chosen trustees.  A building fifty feet square was erected for the works, containing six furnaces and pots, and employing fifty hands.  The product was from five thousand to six thousand green and blue bottles per day.  Work was discontinued in 1876.

     Tilden's Medical Laboratory at New Lebanon is the outgrowth of a small extract-factory, established here about 1846, by Gilbert & Tilden.  The former had been engaged among the Shakers in the manufacture of extracts, and, with the assistance of Mr. Elam Tilden's business tact, successfully founded an establishment, which, under the direction of the Messrs. Moses Y. and Henry A. Tilden has become the most extensive in the country.

     "From the beginning on a small scale with the vacuum apparatus, which was then scarcely known, they have studied assiduously to apply every improvement as fast as experience has demonstrated its value, and now their establishment may be said to embrace all the appliances of modern invention required for the best possible manipulation and medicinal agents, and their works have been remodeled and received additions from time to time, until the premises now occupy about half an acre of ground, and the vast amount of machinery is driven by a powerful steam-engine located in an adjoining fire-proof building.

     "Anything like a description of the numerous appliances in the different departments of their extensive laboratory would require more than our space permits; but we can give some idea, when we state that the capacity of the entire number of vacuum pans employed exceeds ten thousand gallons, and these are used in the manufacture of solid and fluid extracts, of which more than two hundred and fifty kinds are produced.

     "In the department for pills and granules every recent improvement is adopted, besides the various devices for saving labor and waste of material, which are the result of a long and practical experience in the manipulation of the more delicate combinations of potent drugs, and the necessity of accurate and strictly correct exhibition of quantities required in the minutest attenuations.  The pills and granules comprise the most valuable pharmaceutical preparations, and number more than one hundred varieties.  They also prepare one hundred elixirs, and more than one hundred kinds of syrups and wines.  Some of their preparations have become standard remedies among the profession of our country, and have been successfully introduced in Europe and Asia.

     "The advantages enjoyed by the Messrs. Tilden, of a local character, are worthy of mention, and explain how they have attained such a reputation for the efficiency and medicinal value of their preparations.

     "All the herbs, barks, and roots of indigenous growth are gathered by those who have experience, and each and every article is brought into the laboratory at the season when it contains most of medicinal value.  A large amount of these materials are gathered by the farmers and others over a large section of country around the laboratory, and, in addition to such supplies, the Messrs. Tilden have under cultivation some forty acres near their premises.

     "These advantages, acquired by a long experience, and patient as well as persistent labor, afford the facilities which are of greatest importance in this business, and cannot be enjoyed except by those similarly situated, and giving attention, more or less, to the cultivation of indigenous medicinal products and so as to get all the benefits of improved culture.

     "In this connection, it is only doing justice to speak of Mr. H. A. Tilden's various and important contributions to medical science; we refer more especially to his elaborate report to the Pharmaceutical Society upon the cultivation of narcotic plants, in which he carefully illustrates how fully the active properties can be developed, at will, by scientific culture."

     Messrs. Tilden & Co. maintain an extensive printing department, and have issued, since 1861, The Journal of Materia Medica, a monthly magazine of merit, whose subscription-list is greater than that of any other similar magazine in the Union.  For many years this has been edited by the veteran Dr. Bates.  A well-arranged book of formulae for physicians and other valuable works have also been issued from the office of the Journal.