A Welcome Awaits

Old Home Week 1

“My dear: So glad to have your dear letter this A.M. Shall write you soon. I’m so glad to make the extra tatting for you. Would not allow anyone else to do it for worlds. Shall begin on it very soon, gladly. Leave for a two days trip to Syracuse this P.M. Shall write you from there. Love, Ruby.”

— Postcard sent to Grace Brown Gladding of New Haven, Connecticut.

Wickes & Horton Co.

Just north of Willow Glen, on the west side of the Outlet, a grist mill was built about 1830 by Solomon Earll, on land the Earll family had owned since the early 1800s. In 1831, John H. Mabbett of New York City bought the mill, with 84 acres of land, from Hezekiah Earll, and the property became known as Mabbett Mill Farm.

Shortly before his death in March of 1833, John H. Mabbett conveyed the property to his brother, James Mabbett, and the next month James advertised the property for sale, with its flouring mill, access to water power, five dwelling houses, two barns and other out-buildings.

In 1840, the mill was still identified as the Mabbett Mill, but was run by Earll, Kellogg & Co. (Daniel Earll and John Kellogg). Daniel Earll added a stone structure to the mill’s original wooden building, expanding the milling business. On February 4, 1842, the flouring mill and storehouse were consumed by fire. The flouring mill was rebuilt and put back in operation early in 1843.

In 1848, the property was offered for sale in the Skaneateles Democrat by Ernest Fiedler, a merchant of New York City. The appearance of a New York City owner suggests that the property had changed hands since Earll, Kellogg & Co.’s purchase. In Fiedler’s advertisement, there is no mention of a distillery on the property.

In July of 1850, Frederick V.D. Horton bought the property from Ernest Fiedler. In 1851, an ad ran in the Skaneateles Democrat announcing that the Mabbett Mill Farm had been purchased by the partnership of Wickes, Horton & Co, and that they were milling corn, barley and rye, and selling flour and meal. The ‘Wickes’ of the partnership was Kenyon Wickes of Niles.

By 1851, Wickes and Horton were also running a distillery. They built a stone building as a warehouse where barrels of whiskey could be aged. On the 1856 map below, the distillery is in the center, identified as belonging to “Wicks, Horton & Co.”

Map Distilleries 1856

In 1855, the Skaneateles Democrat noted one of the hazards of the business:

“HOGS DYING WITH CHOLERA. – We learn that within the last week the firm of Wickes, Horton & Co. have lost eighty to one hundred hogs at their distillery, situated at the outlet of the Skaneateles, one mile and a half north of this village. The disease is said to resemble the cholera—they vomit up a green substance and soon die. They bury their carcasses in trenches. The loss is considerable.”

The distillery operated until 1858, when the principals – Kenyon Wickes, Frederick & Sarah Horton, and Luther & Lydia Fuller of New York City – could not pay the mortgage, i.e., $14,651.53 owed to the Cayuga County Bank. In 1859, the partnership of Wickes & Horton was formally dissolved.

Increasing federal taxes on whiskey, prompted by the Civil War, made it unfeasible to reopen the property as a distillery. The buildings stood vacant until 1864, when Earlls, Thayer & Co. purchased the property to make it over into a paper mill. In June of 1865, paper production began. In March of 1866, Newton Palmer purchased an interest in the company, and from 1875 to 1878 it was known as Earlls, Palmer & Co.

Forest Weeks

In 1878, the Skaneateles Paper Co. was organized and acquired the mill, with Forest G. Weeks and others as stockholders. In 1889, Weeks bought out the other stockholders and added his son, Charles G. Weeks, as a partner.

Not that it has much to do with history, but in 1888, a large male California salmon was found in the paper company’s millpond, apparently a descendant of salmon fry that had been released into streams that fed the lake in 1874.

In 1898, Charles Weeks purchased his father’s share in the company and became the sole owner of the Skaneateles Paper Co., shown below in a photograph from 1900.

Paper Mill in 1900

On May 2, 1907, the Skaneateles Paper Co. mill was completely destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt with brick walls and resumed production in June of 1908. Below is a photo of the new interior.

Paper Mill Skaneateles

In 1910, Charles Weeks died. The controlling interest of the Skaneateles Paper Co. was acquired by the owners of the Oswego Falls Pulp & Paper Company. The business remained a family concern. The president was Lester Paddock, the husband of May L. Weeks, i.e., Forest Weeks’ son-in-law; the vice president was Nellie Weeks, Charles Weeks’ widow; the company’s secretary was Charles W. Tooke, husband of Sara Louise Weeks, i.e., another son-in-law of Forest Weeks.

The Sealright Company, based in Fulton, was begun in 1917 as a subsidiary of the Oswego Falls Pulp & Paper Company. The two companies and the Skaneateles Paper Company merged in 1922 and became the Oswego Falls Corporation.

At some point between 1925 and 1934, the Oswego Falls Corporation sold the former Skaneateles Paper Co. plant to the Kieckhefer Container Company, a national manufacturer of corrugated and solid fiber boxes, and a pioneer in the manufacture of milk cartons. The Skaneateles plant, one of the company’s smallest sites, was idle between 1934 and 1937, opened briefly and closed again, and reopened in June of 1941. It closed for good in May of 1942.

The mill next passed into the hands of the Hetz Construction Company of Warren, Ohio, which specialized in buying, clearing and reselling such properties. Parts of the plant were demolished beginning in February of 1943, with the machinery sold for scrap. However, 90,000 square feet of floor space remained for any industry that might follow.

In 1944, Robert Flannigan, formerly with the Electrolux Company, bought the property from Hetz Construction as a place to manufacture his “Liberator” vacuum cleaner. Designed by Flannigan himself, the machine went into production in August of 1945. The Liberator was said to be “more powerful than any portable machine now on the market,” and included a device for moth-proofing, plus a paint sprayer. Unfortunately, Mr. Flannigan died of a heart attack at the age of 50 in March of 1947 and the company closed soon after.

In 1954, the Skaneateles Boat Company moved its boat building operation from the Village to the mill site, but the company closed soon after and the site was again vacant in 1957. There was, however, one artifact of the company’s brief occupancy. For many years, a wooden mold for building Lightning sailboats languished in an outside area underneath the building.

Boat Mold

In 1957, Ceramic Age noted, “Tru-Tile, Inc., which has taken over the former Skaneateles Boats plant near Skaneateles, N. Y. and added a steel building of 2,000 sq. ft. area, is listed as the only glazed ceramic tile operation in New York state.” Richard F. Evans was the founder and president of Tru-Tile Inc., which occupied the space between 1957 and 1976, producing glazed ceramic wall tiles for the hallways and bathrooms of hospitals and schools, as well as glazed and unglazed floor tiles.

In 1980, Karl Miller established Miller Ceramics in the former Tru-Tile space, to manufacture ceramic tiles, clay glazes, and equipment for amateur potters and ceramic artists. In 1999, Miller Ceramics was purchased by Laguna Clay, a supplier of clay and other supplies to amateur potters. The plant was moved to Ohio and the distributorship to Syracuse.

In February of 2003, the building was bought by John Menapace, and in the following years housed a number of small businesses.

Last Shot 1

In December of 2015, the Last Shot Distillery opened its doors on the site. Co-owner and distiller Chris Uyehara had 37 years’ experience as a chef and a dream of a craft distillery. John Menapace had space and engineering expertise. The men, longtime residents of Skaneateles, partnered to make Last Shot a reality.

Brewery Outdoors

In December of 2019, the Skaneateles Brewery opened in the same building. The owners are John Menapace, Hope Strods, Dorothy Krause and Dan Welch. The staff members are wonderful, the friendly-dog-friendly beer garden is a haven and the Short Line Stout is one of the best I’ve ever had.

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A note on history and an apology: The history of the earlier distillery has been muddled at least since 1896 when Onondaga’s Centennial: Gleanings of a Century by Dwight Hall Bruce stated the mill was converted into a distillery in 1840 by Daniel Earll. Many readers (myself included) repeated this story over the years. However, newspaper accounts from the 1840s and ‘50s (now available via the Fulton Database) show that the flouring mill ran all through the 1840s and ‘50s, and that the distillery did not open until the 1851. When it did open, it was “in connection with” the flouring mill, and was run by Wickes & Horton Co., not by Earll, Kellogg & Co. The distillery closed in 1858 when Wickes & Horton Co. could not make their mortgage payments; the property was empty and idle until 1864.

One other bit of folklore has it that whiskey barrels from this distillery were transported by the Skaneateles Railroad. However, the first Skaneateles Railroad went out of business in 1850 and the second did not open until 1867, hence there was no rail service during this distillery’s years of operation.

A Tug Strap

Tug Straps

“Mottville over in Onondaga County has been so quiet for so many years that it has just ached for something to happen and now it has a sensation that will furnish gossip enough to keep the tongues wagging for the next ten years.”

The sensational setting was the Methodist Church in Mottville, on a Thursday evening in February of 1913. Floyd Myers, who sang in the choir, was standing by the piano, waiting for the evening’s prayer meeting to begin.

Enter George and Lilly Miller, and Lilly’s brother Joseph Cottle. They were the parents (and uncle) of Ruth Miller, an “unusually attractive” girl of 19, and they guarded her virtue zealously, never allowing her to leave the Miller farmhouse unless properly chaperoned.

At one point, Ruth had decided to leave home for good; Floyd Myers and his wife Stella, Ruth’s friends since childhood, opened their home to her. Ruth’s father persuaded her to return, but resented the Myers’ intrusion into a family matter. One evening after choir rehearsal, when Ruth stopped to speak to Floyd on the sidewalk, he told her they shouldn’t meet or talk as it might bring on more trouble with her parents.

But the Millers heard stories that Myers had been “saying ugly things about their daughter and calling her names.” Without fear of contradiction, they also said Myers had been “too friendly” with the girl.

And so, two weeks later, just before the prayer meeting, the church doors swung open and the Miller party-of-three entered. George Miller told Myers he wanted him to stop molesting Ruth and talking about her. At that point, to underscore her depth of feeling in the matter, Lilly Miller pulled out a tug strap she had concealed under a folded cape and delivered a roundhouse blow to Myers’ head. George Miller followed with a fist to Myers’ face, quickly accented by cracks from a sawed-off broomstick wielded by Uncle Joe.

Ruth Miller fainted. Children ran screaming from the church crying that Floyd Myers was being murdered. The church sexton had been ringing the church bell as a call to worship and was so excited by the spectacle that he forgot to stop, ringing so vigorously that he called out “half the population” of Mottville.

One lad, Clarence Wickham, went to Myers’ assistance, but took a hard blow from Lilly Millers’ tug strap and withdrew. “I didn’t want any more scrap after that,” he said. The pastor tried to intercede and “was sent hurdling over chairs and tables.”

Then, leaving Myers senseless on the church floor, his assailants left quietly, unhindered by any of the observers.

Afterwards, George Miller told a reporter, “This man tried to step between us and our daughter and I got mad… We watch her carefully because we want to bring her up a good, honest, straightforward woman, and he was interfering with us…. Then I decided he had a thrashing coming to him. And he got it. I am sorry that it all had to happen in church… but when we didn’t find him in the streets we had to go where he was. I am sorry Mrs. Miller took a hand in the licking we gave him. I wanted to do it myself.”

At the pre-trial hearing in Skaneateles, Floyd Myers stripped to the waist in the courtroom to show his bruises. Among the prospective jurors was Fred Krebs of Skaneateles but the case never came to trial. The charges were dropped and Floyd Myers, who had sued for $5,000 in damages, settled for $750. The church end of matters remained to be “threshed out,” but eventually the pastor, the Rev. Annable, thought forgiveness was the best course. Besides, George Miller was on the church council and had fists the size of hams.

*    *    *

My thanks to the Fulton Database for access to the Skaneateles, Syracuse and Auburn newspapers of February 1913.

Wallace & Norman’s Excellent Adventure

After returning from France at the end of World War I, Wallace Weeks went to work at the Oswego Falls Pulp & Paper Mills in Fulton, N.Y. The firm had been founded by his grandfather, Forest Weeks.

Fulton Mill

It was something of a family business; Wallace’s father, Charles G. Weeks, had been a Vice President of the Fulton mills and owner of the Skaneateles Paper Mills and the Lakeside Paper Mills before his untimely death in 1910.

Norman Scott was a salesman who sold screens to paper mills. In making paper from wood pulp, cellulose fibers suspended in water are poured over a sieve-like screen, laying down a sheet of interwoven fibers. As water is drained and pressed from the sheet, it becomes paper. Scott sold the necessary screens to paper mills; he was well known in the trade, and became known to Wallace Weeks. Both men were young and, in spite of Prohibition, appeared to enjoy a convivial cocktail.

Early on a Monday evening in June of 1922, they pulled up to the Great Northern Hotel in North Syracuse, lurched inside waving whiskey bottles, and said they were prepared to take orders for any quantity of “Syracuse-made Johnnie Walker, as per sample.” As they were being pushed back out the door, one of them added they had $6000 worth of dope in their car and were on their way to Watertown to sell it.

In an unkind twist of fate, State Troopers Merle Holmes and Phillip Sheridan were dining at the Great Northern that evening, witnessed the Weeks & Scott sales presentation, and rushed outside to stop the pair before they could drive away. The troopers seized the car—Wallace Weeks’ 1922 Buick roadster—and arrested them both. The local press sensed that this might be the arrest of the century: bootleggers with unlimited supplies, thousands of dollars in dope, the stuff law enforcement dreams are made of. And, getting a bit ahead of themselves, they said the car would be seized and sold at auction “to the highest bidder,” which is generally how auctions go.

1922 Buick Roadster

After jailing the men for the night, and making a thorough search of the car (no dope), it became clear that these were not bootleggers or dope pushers, but just two yahoos who had been very, very drunk.

Tuesday morning, they were charged with violating the Volstead Act and reckless driving. Wallace Weeks, whose bail was posted by “a friend from Skaneateles,” had nothing to say and doubtlessly never wanted to be in the newspapers again.

Norman Scott, however, was just getting warmed up. On Tuesday he went to Watertown and registered at the Woodruff Hotel. He took Marguerite Crawford of that city to the nearby town of Carthage. At 4 a.m. on Wednesday, they rousted the county clerk out of bed to procure a marriage license and at 5 a.m. did the same for a Justice of the Peace, who married them, with some hastily summoned witnesses. At 10 a.m. the couple was back in Watertown to break the news to the bride’s parents, who told reporters they had never met Scott and had no idea how their daughter knew him. On Friday, the couple sped back to Syracuse for Scott’s court appearance where he pled “not guilty.” Back in Watertown that evening, he said that he did not wish to discuss what happened in North Syracuse. “That’s a closed chapter in my life,” he said, “all over with. It was all a mistake.”

County officials, meanwhile, sought the couple to question the legality of the marriage license. The bride gave her address as Carthage, but lived in Watertown. The groom gave his home as Montreal when getting the marriage license and as Springfield, Massachusetts, when checking into the hotel in Watertown. A reporter asked, “Where is your home?” And he replied, “I haven’t got any.”

Next stop, New York City, to continue the honeymoon. Without Wallace Weeks.

When the Waters Rose Up

A storm came up on Sunday morning, July 19, 1909. First darkening skies, approaching thunder and lightning, then a downpour with inch-wide hailstones and winds that whipped up waves on the lake. From the Packwood House, guests watched as an immense dark cloud formed over the lake and beneath it the water rose up 200 feet in a waterspout. The people “marveled and were awe-stricken.”

1896 Martha's Vineyard

But they were not as awe-stricken as three boys on a sailboat off Mandana, who had been trying to reach shore since the first hints of the storm. The boat’s owner was young Sinclair Reynolds and his boat was the Lillian, named for his mother. His wide-eyed shipmates were Wallace Weeks, son of Charles Weeks, president of the Skaneateles Paper Company, and William Gray Jr., son of the paper mill’s Secretary.

The newspaper accounts said, “They saw the wind whip the water into a great fountain and then looked on with horror as they saw the demon-like thing tear toward them.” The spout lifted the boat out of the water, tossed the boys overboard and tore the craft to pieces. When the boys came up for air, only the hull remained; they swam to it and held on for 20 minutes until the steamer Glen Haven arrived—surely a welcome sight—and lifted them to safety.

The waterspout, meanwhile, proved to be just as adept on land as on water, heading east for three more miles to rip off roofs, demolish small buildings, uproot trees, tear a pump out of the ground with 30 feet of its pipe, and mow hay fields “as neatly as if the lot had been cleared with a fine tooth comb.”

Sinclair Reynolds lived to be 91. A life resident of Skaneateles, he was the son of attorney John Reynolds and Lillian Sinclair Reynolds. Lillian’s father was Francis Sinclair, founder of the Union Chair Works in Mottville where he manufactured his “Common Sense” chairs. Undeterred by the waterspout, Sinclair Reynolds was a charter member of the Skaneateles Sailing Club, which merged with the Skaneateles Country Club in 1933.

The Laura

He was the owner and skipper of the legendary Laura, the Queen of the Lake since the 1800s, a sand-bagger sloop that carried 750 square feet of sail area and was unbeatable in a gale.

Wallace Weeks grew up in the Weeks House on Genesee Street, attended Dr. Holbrook’s Military School in Ossining, N.Y., and served as an officer in World War I. For a time he worked at the Oswego Falls Pulp and Paper Company, founded by his grandfather, Forrest Weeks, in Fulton, N.Y.  In 1926, he patented the paper cap on the milk bottle with John Pease of the Netherland Dairy. In the 1930s, he moved to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and died there in 1959.

William Gray Jr. spent just a few years in the village, arriving in 1908 and leaving in 1910 when his father took new employment. Although I imagine he never forgot his time here.

*     *     *

Photo: Waterspout off Martha’s Vineyard in 1896

The Packwood Diamond Heist

Horseshoe Pin

In July of 1892, diamonds disappeared from the Packwood House.

Mrs. Charles Stratton of New York City, a summer guest, discovered that a bracelet in her bureau drawer was missing nine diamonds, pried from their settings.

Theodore Specht, treasurer of the Glenside Woolen Mills and visiting from New York, was missing a diamond-studded horseshoe pin.

Onondaga County’s Criminal Deputy Sheriff John C. Kratz came from Syracuse, “questioned everybody about the hotel,” and left without making any arrests. The Auburn Bulletin noted, “The authorities say that no suspicious looking characters have been seen around the village and the hotel people say that they have entertained no questionable appearing people; hence the mystery.”

But the next week, Sheriff Kratz returned and “his presence excited the fear of the guilty one.” One Retta Allen, a head waitress at the Packwood since May, packed her trunk and rabbited, grabbing the 5 p.m. train to Auburn.

As if her unannounced flight was not enough to raise eyebrows, a woman answering her description had attempted to sell jewels in Auburn a few days before. The newspaper promised “a vigorous attempt will be made to fix the guilt of the robbery now that sufficient evidence has been gained to make an arrest.”

But crossing the line into Cayuga County, she moved beyond the jurisdiction of Sheriff Kratz, and sadly for us, beyond any further notice in the local newspapers.

The Muddle of Mills

Over the years, up and down Skaneateles Creek, mills opened and closed, owners changed, business names changed, hamlet names changed. A single mill might have different names and be listed in different locations without actually moving. As an amateur historian, I have found this to be very inconsiderate.

Take the mills of Thomas Morton. A native of Darvel, Ayrshire, Scotland, Morton owned two mills: The Mottville Woolen Company, in Mottville, and the Marysville Woolen Company, in Marysville, which was later known as Skaneateles Falls. But the Marysville mill was also known as the Darvel Mills. And when Thomas Morton sold the Marysville mill to his son, Gavin Morton, the mill was known for a time as the Ayrshire Mills (which later became the Waterbury Felt Company). That’s a lot of wool to unravel.

(A note: In other histories, you may read that these mills made fine cashmere. They did not. They made cassimere, a woolen, twill-weave, worsted suiting fabric.)

Glenside Woolen Mills

And then there’s this postcard. I couldn’t understand how such a massive building could escape my notice. Was this building in Glenside, Marysville, or Skaneateles Falls? Well, yes. And it began life as an iron works.

Riding the boom that came with the end of the Civil War, the Skaneateles Iron Works Company was incorporated in 1866 with $50,000 in capital stock; the principals were Henry Vary, Eben Bean, George H. Earll and Edward B. Coe. In December of ‘66, the ground was leveled in preparation for the erection of the buildings in the spring of ‘67.

The edifice of blue and gray limestone, and its equipment, cost $108,000. The site hosted a rolling mill, a forging shop, a machine shop, a “commercial room” for packing and shipping, and an office. The main business was the conversion of scrap iron into bolts, nuts, washers, rivets and spikes. The works were placed between Skaneateles Creek, a.k.a. the Outlet, and the railroad. The fast-flowing creek provided water power and the railroad enabled delivery of scrap iron and coal “without cartage.”

A new furnace was in operation in April of 1868; a month later, the rolling department was up and running. However, in June of 1869, the principals felt the need to raise an additional $150,000 and offered bonds that found few takers. Of the principals, Henry Vary died in 1870, missing what was to come. In February of 1871, Edward B. Coe was arrested for forging the names of George H. Earll and Charles Pardee on $18,000 worth of “commercial paper.” He admitted his guilt but said he would set things right within a few days. He did not. In his History of Skaneateles, Edmund Leslie wrote of Coe, “In his business operations he became involved in insurmountable difficulties which caused him the loss of all his property.”

Living on borrowed time, the Skaneateles Iron Works declared bankruptcy in February of 1873. In the autumn of 1873, a series of U.S. banks and railroads failed, tumbling like dominoes, and triggered the nationwide Panic of 1873, making things immeasurably more difficult for business. In Skaneateles, the third principal, Eben Bean, declared bankruptcy and left town.

The last man standing, George H. Earll—a prosperous dairy farmer, hop grower, distiller and paper manufacturer—had a fortune to fall back on, but he died in October of 1873, one month after the Panic began.

(An investor, Charles Pardee, lost $30,000, one of the reasons he cut his throat with a straight razor in 1878. Bankrupt and disgraced, Edward B. Coe left town in 1882 and took his own life the next year, leaping from a steamship off the coast of Oregon.)

Devoid of leadership, the Skaneateles Iron Works was auctioned off for $29,500 in 1874. It limped along under new management for two years. In February of 1876, an auction sale of “moveable property” was held by the Onondaga Savings Bank. In 1878, the bank sold the works to Archibald C. Powell of Syracuse for $5,500. Powell was a trustee of the bank and the superintendent of the Syracuse Salt Works, and under a legal cloud of his own. He held the Skaneateles property just long enough to sell some machines and move a few others to one of his operations in Syracuse.

In 1879, the property was bought by Howard Delano, Ezekiel B. Hoyt and Russell B. Wheeler, who had other businesses along the Outlet, and tended to them.


In August of 1881, James McLaughlin Jr. purchased the idle property for $4,000, and converted it into a woolen mill operated as “McLaughlin Brothers,” with his brother, John McLaughlin, as partner. The McLaughlin brothers were teasel merchants, and hence knew something about textiles.

The mill first produced woolen fabric for ladies’ goods, but soon turned to making coffin cloth, a plain-weave wool fabric dyed black for use as a pall over a casket, or as a casket lining. (To reach the proper funereal shade of black, the fabric had to be dyed five times. The spent dye was dumped into the creek every two hours.)

Glenside Looking West

In September of 1888, “financial difficulties arose”—the McLaughlin partners owed the First National Bank of Auburn $189,000. The company was reorganized under the name of the Glenside Woolen Mills, with Theodore Specht of the New York firm Arnstaedt & Co., becoming the principal, investing $150,000 and gaining a controlling interest.


Theodore Specht was an importer and distributor of specialty cloths from Germany, and a U.S. woolen mill was a logical acquisition. For the first several years of Arnstaedt’s ownership, Specht continued to live in New York City. The McLaughlins retained stock; John McLaughlin continued at the mill and served as a Director. The Glenside Woolen Mills had something close to a monopoly on the coffin cloth business, employed 300 people, and made money.

Glenside Workers 1886

When in Skaneateles, Specht stayed at the Packwood House. On July 4th, 1893, he sprang for the fireworks in what is now Clift Park, and in 1895, he gave out handsome prizes at the company picnic, honoring winners of the blue rock shoot (a.k.a. clay pigeon or trap shooting), throwing the hammer, and the footrace, as well as fine prizes for the young ladies’ contests. In 1899, he bought a house on East Genesee Street in the village, and in 1901 he and his family moved to Skaneateles from New York City. The Specht house became known as Hazelhurst (today’s Athenaeum). Specht bought more land, and had 20 acres in all, with a boathouse, an outdoor bowling alley and his own golf course.

In 1909, a downstream paper mill sued the Glenside Woolen Mill for polluting the water it used to make paper. The oil and grease from the wool was fouling its paper making machinery creating holes in the paper produced. The dye bleached out of rags was making it impossible for the mill to make white paper. At the end of the day, Glenside had to pay the paper mill $1,500 in damages and cease polluting the Outlet.

Also in 1909, growing competition and a glut of coffin cloth decreased dividends and prompted a five-year snit between James McLaughlin Jr. and Theodore Specht, as well as his son and son-in-law. The suit alleged that the Spechts diverted the mill’s income to Arnstaedt & Co.; it occupied the courts and enriched lawyers through 1914.  James McLaughlin died before it was settled, but his brother John saw it through.

The onset of World War I in Europe complicated matters, as the company’s aniline dyes were made in Germany and could no longer be imported; the mill had enough dye for just four months. At the same time, “war orders” for uniform cloth swelled the mill’s volume. In 1915, a fire at the mill destroyed a carding machine that had been made in England and threatened to idle 250 workers for four months. In November of 1916, Theodore Specht died, and ownership of the mill passed to his son, Harry Mortimer Specht. All in all, it was a bumpy ride.

Branching out in the 1920s, the mill began making automobile upholstery. From 1923, Glenside produced most of the cloth used by the Franklin Automobile Company of Syracuse, and supplied other automobile manufacturers as well. But the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression took their toll. The Franklin company went out of business in 1934 and in July of 1937, the Glenside Woolen Mills shut down while “reorganizing.”

In 1939, the mill attempted again to reorganize and start work, hoping to employ 75 workers. In 1940, with World War II on the horizon, orders for wool cloth to produce U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard uniforms kept the business afloat for a few more years.

In 1951, the idle Glenside Woolen Mill was purchased by Welch-Allyn, a manufacturer of diagnostic medical instruments, which moved its operation from Clark Street in Auburn to Skaneateles Falls. The company expanded and modified the building many times over the years. In the summer of 2014, Welch Allyn enlarged its Jordan Road facility, just north of the Village, and moved operations to the new space, emptying the former Glenside Woolen Mill building. Now known as Eco Park, the building is occupied by Kohilo Wind, a maker of vertical axis wind turbines, as well as Lilypad Cosmetics and Scratch Farmhouse Catering.

The west side of the original mill is almost entirely obscured by a forest that has grown up over the past 150 years, but one can still see the placement of the windows and doors of the original Glenside Woolen Mill in part of the present-day building facing east.

Glenside Then

Glenside NOW


Open & Shut


Outside an old mill building on the Outlet stands a well-seasoned post indicator valve made by Kennedy Valve of Elmira, N.Y.  Such valves control the flow of water from an underground main to a fire protection system inside a building. The operating nut and a sign of the main’s open/shut status are at the top of the post, so the valve can be quickly spotted, read and opened by firemen.