| On the north shore of Oneida
Lake, in the town of
Constantia is a small village with a great name
and a great past. The villiage is Cleveland. It was named not after our
twenty-second and twenty-fourth president, but after James
Cleveland, who migrated from Petersboro, Connecticut in 1826.
James Cleveland was a man of great
initiative and immediately constructed a hotel and store which served as
the nucleus of a growing community.
In 1840, Anthony Landgraff
came to found the glass
industry. Born in Germany, where he learned his
trade, he came to America in 1812 and began manufacturing glass at Vernon,
in Oneida County, New York. When wood became scarce in Vernon, he moved
to Cleveland with his four sons, and his son-in-law, George
Cowarden. One of his sons, Harmon, is credited with creating
some of the "off hand" pieces coming from the plant.
The book," Landmarks of Oswego County"
edited by John C. Churchill in 1859, describes Landgraff
as "a man of pronounced ideas, active and influential in all public and
private enterprises, and inaugurated many improvement in his art. He lived
in advance of his time, and was more or less ridiculed for the theories
he advocated - but since have been adopted."
chose Cleveland because of the thick strands of virgin hemlock surrounding
the village. This was very important as enormous quantities of wood were
needed for the furnaces. It was cut fine, about three feet in length and
dried in ovens. The forest was so near that the choppers were able to pile
logs against the drying house. In these days the accessibility of fuel
spelled the difference between success and failure.
The standard formula for making
glass for the past two
thousand years is composed of a melted mixture
of sand and two oxides from a group of four; soda, potash, lime and lead.
Cleveland used a combination of sand, limestone, soda ash and carbon. Pieces
of glass attributed to the earliest period have a definate green tint from
the iron present in the sand.
For the first year the sand was laboriously
boated across the lake from Vernon, but in 1841 the finest grade of silica
was found right in their front yard. This was dug by hand and hauled up
to the factory in ox carts. Some of this Cleveland sand was used by Corning
Glass in making the
giant lens for the world's largest telescope atop
constructed his own furnace. Mr.Fredrick
one time mayor of Cleveland,and self appointed curator of its past, describes
this furnace thus :
" The melting furnace was about six by
eight feet on the inside and the melting pots little larger than good sized
water buckets.A single blower could and did carry and place them in the
These first furnaces probably resembled
a small pyramid with a great chimney at the top.
The base of the furnace contained
an ash pit about five
feet deep. The cord wood was placed on grates
over the pit. Approximately five feet above the grate were two shelves
on which "the batch" was placed with holes so located that the blower could
reach in for the gather. There were doors above and below the grate to
allow removal of ashes and for stoking. Immediately above the Glory
Hole, the furnace would slant up to an enormous chimney.
The shelves, approximately four
feet above the grating
carry "the batch", the rough ingredients to be
fused. Through the door at one end the fire is stokes and the job is begun
of getting the heat up to 2600 degrees, necessary to melt the "the batch".
It might take twelve to twenty hours to create a fire intense enough to
reduce the ingredients to a fluid state. At the proper time
messengers were dispatched to the nearby homes
of the blowers who would immediately come and work until the supply was
Each blower gathered, blew,
flattened, and sometimes cut his own glass. The work of the glass blower
has always been arduous and in these early days exceptionally so. For their
work the blowers received slightly more than a
dollar a box which was considered very good pay
at the time.
Eggleson of Oswego, speaking before
the Oswego County Historical Society in 1941,
said, "The manner of selling the glass was in keeping with the character
and primitive ways of small,local,independent manufacturers. In the middle
of the century, Oneida Lake was connected by the Erie Canal by a side cut,
and it was customary during navigation to load a canal boat with glass
and peddle it out in the towns and villages along the canal from Troy and
Albany to Lockport and Buffalo, often in the way of barter for store goods
and other supplies."
The only product of the Cleveland
factories was window
glass. The canes, pitchers, bowls, chains, etc
that have been found and authenticated are "off hand pieces", meaning that
they were produced by the blower after hours from the left over pieces.
Miss Eggleson, whom we have just mentioned, was a collector of fine glass
and illustrated her lecture with pitchers and basins that had been crafted
by Cleveland craftsmen. These pitchers and basins were used on wash stands
in the bedroom before the days of modern plumbing.
George and Helen
McKearin picture these on Plate 65 of their book, "American
Glass". They write- "Washbowls and pitchers, smaller bowls and pitchers,
milk pans, bottles, rolling pins, hats, with balls, and so on are included
amoung authenticated specimens of Cleveland glass. They are characterized
by the sturdiness of form and breadth of body and neck. The only decorative
technique we have encountered is the threading of the necks of the pitchers."
I recently acquired for my own
collection a very crudely
constructed chain of light green tint. These chains
were sold to saloons where they were festooned over the bar for purposes
The original plant was run by
the Landgraff family
until 1861, when it was taken over by William
a brief period before passing into the hands of H.J.
Caswell and Crawford Getman.
Child's Business Directory of Oswego County for 1866-67 carry the ad, "Cleveland
Glass Works, Caswell and Company, Manufacturers of window, coach, picture,
sheet, and double-thick glass, H.J. Caswell,
Getman, Wm. Foster, F.
had a large interest in this operation and continued in control after Caswell
retired in 1877. A picture of the workers standing before the factory at
this time shows a force of about seventy men. It is evident that Getman
supervised the most successful glass manufacturing operation in the village.
In July, 1869, the factory was nearly
destroyed by fire and completely demolished on New year's Eve of 1881.
Mr. Getman rebuilt a new and better
factory on the same site.
In 1851, the Union Glass
Factory was organized as a stock company by Cleveland citizens, but
after a couple years was re-organized under the control of WIllliam Foster,
Forest Farmer, and Charles Kaltner,
who ran it
with success for more than twenty years, when
it was sold to Crawford Getman in 1882,
who ran it with his Cleveland factory until 1889,when he sold both plants
to the United Glass Company.
left an indelible imprint on the village of Cleveland. He started as a
bookkeeper for Anthony Landgraff and
reputedly died a millionaire. It was evident that he was highly regarded
as a communtiy leader for his name is connected with a majority of business
of his era and was elected town supervisor in
1882. He ran the Hotel Getman which was advertised in an Oneida paper as
one of the finest hotels on Oneida Lake with
large and airy rooms. He also had a general store.
The picture certificates were issued
as pay to the workers and could be redeemed at his store. No one received
actual currency for his work. Is it any wonder that Cleveland, New York
was the birth place of our American Trade Unions. Frank Putney,
a veteran of the Civil War, was secretary of the Cleveland Glass Company.
He evolved a scheme of secret organization of workers. This was against
the law but they held their meetings in a nearby ravine and exerted considerable
influence in the factory. Mr. Samuel Gompers,
who was then a young cigar worker, learned of the scheme and spent some
days in Cleveland formulating ideas which ultimately gave birth to the
American Federation of Labor.
In later years, the Cleveland
factory was converted into a modern plant, organized and re-organized,
until it finally closed for good in 1912. Like many budding American industry
it was unable to successfully adapt itself to our fast moving industrial
tides. While this was an admirable
location for a small operation, using wood as
fuel it was not the most advantageous location for the assembly line production.
The changing seasons come and go, and today the halcyon period of 1834-1874
is but a memory.
At present there is little indication
that Cleveland was
once a thriving glass center. The Webb Lumber
Company of Bernards Bay has started a housing development on Factory Street
where the Union Company once stood and
neighbors are using large pieces of "Cutlet" or
waste slag, as borders for their flower gardens. The ruins of the Sand
Street plant, once owned by Crawford Getman
now houses a thriving oil business and people living within a few miles
of Cleveland hardly believe you when you speak of it's past greatness.
is my great, great, great, great, great
My home is atop the site of the old Cleveland Glass
Factory. During excavating - we discovered many walls and hallways that
once was the factory. We obtained many large "Cutlets" that adorn our yard
and flower gardens. KielyJo Malone