Friday, June 7, 2013

Brief history of Eddy Plow

A few years back I received an email with pictures of an Eddy Plow. The owner felt the need to paint (gasp) the metal & display it on their lawn. (BTW... don't paint antiques/ historical pieces until you talk to an expert.) The second image shows the business stamp. "___ Plow Co Greenwich N.Y."

Plow in question

Plow from Greenwich, NY

Perry Miller was the first to manufacture plows in the Greenwich/ Easton area. According to Mrs. B.F. Sharpe, in History of Greenwich NY, Mr. Miller "made the second cast-iron plow in the country" (p. 12). By 1830 his sons Hill & David were no longer in the plow business.

Enter Corinth (Saratoga County) native Walden Eddy (b. 1807). Mrs. Sharpe writes on pages 12-13
In 1832 Walden Eddy began the manufacture of plows, having a pattern which became justly celebrated afterwards  as the old "Rough and Ready wrought iron beam," and it is believed that from this source have originated all the wrought-iron plow-beams in the country. Mr. Eddy also invented a shovel plow that has large sale.
 The plow works was located in the village of Greenwich (at the time of founding, Union Village), but on the town of Easton side along the Battenkill. The three-story building still stands & has been renovated recently by Patrick Brereton.

In an article from the Greenwich Journal, date January 19, 1983, the population of the town is listed at about 1,000 when Eddy started making plows in 1832. Lack of convenient shipping (no canal on the Battenkill, no railroad until 1870), & lack of the latest technology are lists as reasons for the floundering foundry with Mr. Dyer. Enter Abram Reynolds, & a few years later, Samuel Langdon. Eddy, Reynolds & Langdon did rather well & then Mr. Eddy bought out the other 2 men. I'm assuming this was so he could bring his sons into the fold, because in 1881 Oscar H., Walden G., & Fred W. entered the business, & the name was changed again to W. Eddy & Sons.

Based on this same article, it appears that the present three-story Eddy Plow building was build in 1892 with 60 feet of frontage to Eddy St & incandescent, electric lights powered by their own plant. It even has a full basement "considered one of the finest in Washington county." The building had a showroom, moulding room, plow mounting & grinding room, as well as blacksmith, forge, machine paint & finishing shops. The article says the plow work employed 40 men including William McCall (head of the moulding room) & W.T. Liddell (business manager).

Apparently the "rough & ready" trademark is "NO. 4 s". In 1891 they introduced a steel reversible level land plow, & in 1892 a one horse plow with patent draft rod, perfect for gardening, & orchards. They were also selling an improved marker for corn & potatoes, a hilling plow, also for potatoes, rye thrasher, land roller, & horse hoe & cultivator, among other things. At one point they even made & sold bicycles.

Eddy Plow Works Calendar 1931

In 1908 the business was incorporated . A major fire in 1918 cut production & business fell off. On October 10, 1923, the Greenwich Journal reported that the W. Eddy Plow Company filed for bankruptcy at the federal court in Utica, NY.The fire had hurt business, but the Great Depression mad matters worse. Liabilities were listed at $79,072 (using the Consumer Price Index this is the equivalent of $1,060,000 in 2012). According to the Greenwich Journal, the plow works was sold at auction in December 1923 to Mac Finn of Saratoga Springs, NY for $16,500.

"W. Eddy & Sons: An Enterprise of Greenwich Sixty- Years Old, The largest Implement Manufacturers and Dealers in Eastern New York." Greenwich Journal. January 19, 1893. 
"Plow Company Files Bankrupcy Petition." Greenwich Journal. October 10, 1923.
"Mac Finn Purchaser of Eddy Plow Plant." Greenwich Journal. December 19, 1923.
Gill, I.V.H. The Greenwich Community of 1850. 1953.
Sharpe, B.F. History of Greenwich. Greenwich, NY: Commonweal Press. 1909.
Tefft, Grant. The Story of Union Village, Volume 1. Greenwich, NY: Greenwich Journal. 1942

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