This feature is the contents of a pamphlet put out by H. G. Munger & Co. Department Store in 1929, presenting a time line of industry in the Herkimer area before and after the store's foundation in 1869. An example of the many interesting pamphlets and ephemera in the collection of the Herkimer County Historical Society. Thank you to Susan Perkins for permission to reprint.
Sixty years ago the doors of the H. G. Munger & Co. store were first opened. The history of this organization and its founder, Henry G. Munger, is interwoven with that of Herkimer and Herkimer County throughout one of the most interesting and important periods in the annals of the Mohawk Valley.
During these eventful years the founder of this business has been intimately affiliated with the many outstanding residents of Herkimer County who have made local, state and national history. As a progressive, outstanding citizen, Mr. Munger had been connected with all the affairs and activities of this community and for that reason the story of H. G. Munger & Co., and of the Mohawk Valley region, in which it is located, makes a notable historic record, which is here presented in tabloid form.
It is a far cry from the post Civil War days of 1869, but it is a vastly farther backward look to the pioneer days of Herkimer.
This region was part of the domain of the mightly Mohawks when the first Palantine German pioneers settled on the north and south shores of the river about 1722. This settlement was then the outpost of civilization in the province of New York. The high ridge on the south side of the river, which is known today as Shoemaker Hill, was the Mohawk's "Okwari", signifying the "Place of the Bears" or "Bear Mountain". These same redmen named our big tributary stream "Kuyahoora," meaning "falling waters"--the cascades which we call Trenton Falls today.
Soon after 1722 a blockhouse and a church were erected in our village, the latter on the site of the present Reformed church. A school is supposed to have soon followed. Peaceful development of this "German Flatts" region (as it was called) followed until the outbreak of the great French and Indian War which was fought for the mastery of the North American continent. Present Herkimer was then the "Palatine Village" and, in this conflict, it suffered one of the most terrible massacres of the Colonial period. On the morning of November 12, 1757, a French and Indian raiding party attacked and burned the settlement, killed over forty men, women and children and took 140 captives and a great amount of plunder back to Canada. Several hundred people saved themselves by fleeing to Fort Kouri or Herkimer, as it was variously called. Revenge was not long delayed for, in 1760, General Sir Jeoffrey Amherst led an army of 6,000 American militia and 4,000 British regulars, through the Mohawk valley to the conquest of Montreal and all of French Canada.
The German Flatts settlements were rebuilt and prospered until Revoluntionary days, when, in 1776, Fort Dayton was erected in the village section north of the present court house, while the stockade of a new Fort Herkimer enclosed the stone walls of the present Fort Herkimer Reformed church on the south side of the river.
On August 4, 1777, General Herkimer marched his Mohawk Valley militiamen from Fort Dayton to the field of Oriskany, where many of our forefathers died in the battle which was so vital in the conflict which gave us American liberty. Then followed the terrible Tory-Indian raids of 1778, 1780 and 1782, which again devastated this fair and fertile Mohawk river country.
While our sturdy forefathers were rebuilding their farms and barns, came the great western migration which brought to the Mohawk Valley many settlers of English, Scotch, Welsh and Irish blood, mainly from others of the Thirteen Original States.
In 1791 Herkimer County was set off from Montgomery County and Herkimer was made its county seat. Both took their names from the heroic native son of this county--General Nicholas Herkimer, the hero of Oriskany.
In 1797 one account says: "Herkimer village had a court house, jail, Reformed Dutch church, 40 dwelling houses and a population of about 250 people." In 1798 Oneida county was formed from Herkimer county and old Fort Schuyler became Utica village. In 1800 the Mohawk Turpike Co. was formed and the north shore road improved from Schenectady to Utica. Other dates of importance of this period are: 1793, building of first bridge over the Kuyahoora; 1798, bridge built across the Mohawk river, Herkimer to Mohawk; 1800, beginning of cheese making for the market by Fairfield farmers--from 1800 to 1890, Little Falls was the world's greatest cheese market; 1803, Fairfield Academy established; 1811, Little Falls was made a village; 1825, completion of the Erie Canal; 1831, establishment of the Remington industries of Ilion; 1833, construction of the Herkimer hydraulic canal; 1836, August 1, opening of the Utica and Schenectady railroad by the passage of the DeWitt Clinton train; 1842, manufacture of woolen goods started in Little Falls; 1844, Mohawk village charter granted; 1845, woolen yard manufacture was started at Little Falls; 1852, Ilion made a village; 1863, Frankfort granted a village charter; 1861-5; Civil War period; 1866, first wood pulp paper made in America, manufactured at Herkimer by Warner Miller.
And now we come to the modern era of Herkimer and the Mohawk Valley, which may fittingly begin with the opening of the Munger Store in 1869. The establishment of sixty years ago was small as compared with the model department store of today, just as the Herkimer community of sixty years ago seems little as compared with our present population. In both store and community were the seeds of the great growth and development, which followed within the next six decades.
The Palatine German pioneers of two centuries ago, who located their farms along the river from present Herkimer to present Mohawk, Ilion and Frankfort, then created a community which had grown to nearly 7000 people in 1869. Today this four-village city numbers over 35,000 people.
The history of the four-town community of Herkimer-Mohawk-Ilion-Frankfort, from 1869 to 1929, can be summarized as follows, with the addition of events outstanding in other Herkimer County sections; 1869, establishment of dairy machinery manufacturing business in Little Falls; 1870, construction of Mohawk-Ilion street railroad, extended to Herkimer in 1871 and to Frankfort in 1872; 1871, H. M. Quackenbush began the manufacture of "air pistols"; 1872, knit goods manufacture started at Herkimer; 1873, first practical commercial typewriter made at Remington works, Ilion, where in 1874 first magazine rifle was perfected; 1872, knit good manufacture started in Little Falls; 1873, leather manufacturing began at Little Falls; 1875, Alfred Dolge bought tannery at Brocketts Bridge (present Dolgeville), beginning of village's felt and felt shoe and sounding board industries; 1881, Dolge introduced electric light in his mills; 1883, building of West Shore R. R.; 1885, Mohawk and Malone R. R. built with southern terminus at Herkimer; 1886, beginning of desk industry in Herkimer, today largest desk manufacturing center in world; 1886, knit goods factory started in Ilion; 1891, cornerstone of New York State Masonic Home at Utica laid by G. M. John W. Vrooman, now (1929) Senior Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York; 1891, Dolgeville incorporated; 1892, Little Falls-Dolgeville railroad built; 1895, Little Falls made a city; 1896, Alfred Dolge established first Mohawk Valley hydro-electric plant at Dolgeville; 1896, General Herkimer monument dedicated at the Herkimer homestead; 1898, knit good manufacture started at Mohawk; 1900, Mohawk-Oneonta railroad completed; 1901, Library Bureau business established at Ilion; 1902, trolley line extended from Rome to Utica to Little Falls; 1905, work began on Mohawk river section of Barge Canal, opened in 1918; 1905, manufacture of felt shoes started at Little Falls.
In 1907 Herkimer celebrated its centennial as a village with notable exercises. Chief of these was the presentation to the village of a spirited bronze statue of General Herkimer which stands in Myers Park. The late Burr Miller, a talented American sculptor, was its creator and its donor was the artist's father, the late U. S. Senator Warner Miller, one of Herkimer's most noted citizens.
Other dates of events of historic interest, from 1907 to 1929, follow: 1911, Little Falls celebrated its centennial with a pageant and exercises; 1912, Mohawk Valley chapters, Daughters of the American Revolution, marked the line of General Herkimer's march from his home to the Oriskany battlefield with granite and bronze monuments.
In February, 1917, a great fire destroyed the heart of Herkimer's business section and with it the Munger Store. As a man of 70, Mr. Munger, with unusual energy, responded to the requests of his many friends and erected the present modern establishment.
In 1917 and 1918, Herkimer County, in common with all America, sent its sons into the great World War army and navy of the United States. Mohawk's armory (built in 1891) is a monument to Herkimer County patriotism. In the World War the Remington works at Ilion turned out vast quantities of rifles for the armies of America and its allies.
In 1920 the Mohawk Valley Historic Association was organized at the General Herkimer Homestead. The Mohawk Valley Towns Association was formed in 1926. In 1928 Seymour field (midway between Herkimer and Little Falls) was designated as an emergency landing field of the Albany-Cleveland air mail route.
It is a mighty record which is reflected in these pages. The doors are closed on sixty years of human achievement. But today the same spirit of growth and development is still firmly implanted in the heart of the community and in the Munger Store. Again we open the doors to a future of progress and prosperity.
(Note: The above was a booklet presented by H. G. Munger & Company, Herkimer, NY. on the occasion of their 60th Anniversay Celebration - May 16th to 25th, 1929.)
The original Munger's store was closed many years ago, with other smaller shops or stores occupying the building to this date in 1999.)