REMINGTON CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION 1916

Ilion, NY




In addition to the Centennial Book which was prepared to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Remington rifle, there was also a Historical Souvenir Programme highlighting the events of the three day celebration. It also contained information about some buildings and organizations in Ilion. The content of that programme follows, and was provided by Carolyn Deming Bayer of Ilion. Paragraphs have been spaced apart for ease of online reading.

Paul McLaughlin Village of Ilion Editor October 2002




REMINGTON CENTENNIAL
HISTORICAL SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

of the

Remington Centennial Celebration

Ilion, New York
August 29, 30, 31, 1916

TUESDAY, AUGUST 29


ILION DAY


10:30 a.m. .-- At Monument Square
    P. H. Ward, President of the Village of Ilion, will open formally the celebration.

A. D. Richardson, Village Attorney, will preside at the opening ceremonies.

ATTORNEY FRANK A. SCHMIDT OF ILION
An Address
"The Industries of Ilion"

CAPTAIN THOMAS A. MARSHALL
Of Western Representative of the Remington Arms Union
Metallic Cartridge Company
An Address
"Remington"

CONGRATULATORY GREETINGS

By
  County Judge Charles A. Bell of Herkimer
    Attorney E. LaGrange Smith of Frankfort
      Mayor Abram Zoller of Little Falls
        The Rev. Arthur Moody of Mohawk
          George E. Dunham, Editor of the Utica Daily Press, Utica

12 p.m.-- High Diving. Albert Van Arrnen will dive into the Erie Canal from the top of the Morgan Feed Mill.

2:30 p.m..-- On the Ilion Gorge Road, opposite the place where the first Remington forge was built, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry Chapter, United States Daughters of 1812, of Ilion, will unveil a bronze tablet marking the location of the forge. The following programme will be carried out at the unveiling:

MUSIC ---"America, I Love You" Ilion Military Band
INVOCATION ---Rev. Lloyd R. Benson
QUARTETTE ---"America"(Messrs. Naulty, Wheeler, Roberts and Barnum)
ADDRESS AND PRESENTATION OF TABLET--Mrs. Frank D. Callan, Regent, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry Chapter, U.S.D. of 1812
UNVEILED BY Mrs. Ida Remington Squire, Granddaughter of Eliphalet Remington, 2d
ACCEPTED BY Hon. Watson C. Squire, Former United States Senator and Governor of Washington
QUARTETTE ---"Our Country's Flag"
ADDRESS---Mrs. William Gerry Slade. New York State President and Honorary National President, U.S.D. of 1812
MUSIC ---"My Own United States" Ilion Military Band
ADDRESS ---"Patriotic Citizenship" Mrs. Harriett Wilson Smith
QUARTETTE ---"Star Spangled Banner"

The audience is requested to join in the singing of the National Anthem.

ONE OF ILION'S HONORED GUESTS
GENERAL HUGH LENOX SCOTT

Chief of Staff, United States Army

A direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin, Gen. Scott entered the United States service as soon as he was graduated from the West Point Military Academy in 1876 and from a Second Lieutenant in the Ninth Cavalry, he has climbed to the highest active post in the service as Chief of Staff. His Indian diplomacy made him famous. He is sixty-three years of age.

THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER

Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd,
Were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare,
Bursting bombs in the air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
Oh, say, does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows,
Half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam,
Of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected,
Now shines on the stream:
'Tis the Star Spangled Banner; oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.


BENEDICTION ---Rev. Calvin H. French

8:30 p.m.--- PARADE OF THE WOMEN OF ILION, AND THOSE CHILDREN OVER 16 YEARS OF AGE, WITH MANY BEAUTIFUL FLOATS UNDER THE DIRECTION OF MISS FRANCIS SCHERMER OF HERKIMER.

    The parade will form in Otsego Street, right resting on Benedict Avenue. It will move north in Otsego Street to Main, to West, to Third, to John, to Otsego Street. Colonel James Palmer of Ilion, the Grand Marshall of all the parades; R. B. Julian, Chief of Staff, Captain H. P. Hamlin, Aide-de-Camp, and other members of Colonel Palmer's staff will review the line at Fourth Street. Parade will be as follows: 1. Police; 2. Officials of City; Arms Co. And Committee, 3. Band; 4. The Original Forge; 5. Grecian Float; 6. Band; 7-8-9 Spring leading Summer; 10. Band; 11. Child Welfare Station; 12. Venetian Street Scene; 13. New England Women; 14. Band; 15. Japanese Tea garden; 16. D. A. R. Reception; 17. Indian Life; 18. Band; 19. Daughters of 1812; 20. Dixie Land; 21. Coaching in 1861.


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30
NEW YORK STATE DAY


THE HON. CHARLES S. WHITMAN
Governor of the State of New York, will be Ilion's guest

10:30 a.m.---At Monument Square Village Attorney Arleigh D. Richardson will preside at the New York State Day exercises.

SENATOR FRANCIS W. CRISTMAN
OF HERKIMER

An Address
"The Community"

GOVERNOR CHARLES S. WHITMAN
An Address
"The State"


12 p.m.---High Diving. Albert Van Arnem will dive into the Erie Canal from the top of the Morgan Feed Mill.

2:30 p.m.---ILION'S INDUSTRIAL PARADE

    First Division: Employees of the Remington Arms Union Metallic Cartridge Company
    Second Division: Employees of the Remington Typewriter Company
    Third Division: Employees of the Library Bureau, Sterling Mills, A. N. Russell & Sons., Ilion Lumber Co., Klipple Lumber Co., Dyett Manufacturing Company and the Ilion Concrete Company.

    The parade will form on East Main Street, its right resting on Otsego Street, It will move west in Main Street, to West, to Third, to John, to Fourth, to Otsego, to Main. East on Main to Village Line, countermarching past the reviewing stand, where Colonel Palmer and his staff, will be located, in front of the Carney Block.

4:30 p.m .---BASE BALL, Recreation Park
    The Corona Typewriter Company's Base Ball Team of Groton and the Remington Arms Company's Base Ball Team will Play an Exhibition Game Immediately After the Parade. The Corona Typewriter Company's Band will give a Concert at recreation Park During the Game.

6 p.m.---Dinner in honor of the Hon. Charles S. Whitman, Governor of New York State, at the Masonic Temple, Centennial Headquarters.

8:30 p.m .---ELABORATE DISPLAY OF PAINE'S FIREWORKS ON THE MOHAWK RIVER FLATS.


THURSDAY, AUGUST, 31


MILITARY DAY


GENERAL HUGH L. SCOTT
Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Washington, D. C.
and

SENATOR WARREN G. HARDING
of Ohio

will be Ilion's Guests of Honor


10:30 a.m.---At Monument Square
    Attorney James Conkling of Ilion will preside at the Military Day exercises

12 p.m.---High Diving. Albert Van Arnem will dive into the Erie Canal from the top of the Morgan Feed Mill.


CONGRESSMAN HOMER P. SNYDER OF LITTLE FALLS
An Address
"The Mohawk Valley"

SENATOR WARREN G. HARDING OF OHIO
An Address
"The Nation"


2:30 p.m. .---MILITARY PARADE
    Companies A and B of Utica and M of Mohawk, National Guard, New York, will act as an escort for General Scott. The line will proceed from Main Street, to West, to Third to Monument Square.

2:30 p.m. .---FIELD DAY AT RECREATION PARK

The Events

    Free-for-all, with Gold, Silver and Bronze medals of beautiful design and mounted on black silk, as prizes.

100-yard dash:
First............Second............Third...........
            Time:

Match Race at 100 Yards between Capes and Lever
            Winner ...................Time:

440-Yards Dash:
First............Second............Third...........
            Time:

Running High Jump:
First............Second............Third...........
            Height.....................

"TED" MEREDITH, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, INTERCOLLEGIATE SPRINT CHAMPION, WILL RUN 300 YARDS AGAINST ANYONE IN THE WORLD

One-Half Mile Relay (Four-men teams)
First.........(1)......(2)......(3)......(4)......
            Time:
Second.....(1)......(2)......(3)......(4).............................
            Time:
Third........(1)......(2)......(3)......(4).............................
            Time:

Pie Eating Contest:
First............Second.............Third......................................
            Time:

880-Yards Dash:
First............Second.............Third......................................
            Time:

"Ted" Meredith will run 440 yards against time.
Time:

220-Yards Dash: First............Second..............Third.....................................
            Time:

4 p.m. ---The final game of the series between the Remington Arms Company's base ball team and the Remington Typewriter Company's base ball team will be played.

    The officials of the track and field meeting follow:
Referee: Floyd Risley of Utica; Starter: James Evans of Little Falls; Judges: William H. Flood, Physical Director of the Utica Y. M. C. A., C. A. Brown of Oneida, J. E. Holmes of Oneida, Dr. William K. Johnson of Ilion and James T. Coughlin of Utica; Manager of Sports: T. R. Quaife of Ilion; Timers: C. N. Underwood, Ray Slocum and William C. Clark of Ilion; Messengers: Claude Thayer and Herbert Allen of Ilion; Clerks: Leroy B. Williams and Merton McLoughlin of Ilion; In charge of grounds: Charles Rhodes. 6 p.m.: Dinner in honor of General Hugh L. Scott, Chief of Staff of the United States Army and Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio.

ALL DAY---A registered trap shooting tournament, under the direction of the Interstate Association, will be held at the new club of Remington Gun Club throughout the day. Some of the country's most famous shots will compete.
8:30 p.m.


---THE ANNUAL BOOSTERS' PARADE
    The annual Boosters' Parade will form in Otsego Street, with the right resting on Main Street. It will move over Main to Railroad Street, to East Clarke Street, to Cottage Street, to North Street, to Grant Street, to Clarke Street, to Railroad Street, to Main Street, to West Street, to Third Street, to John Street, to Otsego Street. Thence South on Otsego Street to the Village Line, counter marching north on Otsego Street to the starting point. The parade will be reviewed by Colonel Palmer and his staff at Second Street.


HOW ILION WAS BEGUN AND NAMED LONG YEARS AGO

    Ilion, like Topsy, just grew. Celebrating the making of the first Remington rifle a hundred years ago, the village looks more like a city of sizable proportions but in the days before the American Revolution, a few pioneers who had found homes in the "West" along the banks of the Mohawk River marked the beginning of the Ilion of to-day.

    Not until the completion of the Erie Canal, as a matter of fact, was there anything on the site of Ilion meriting even the name of a village. There was a store in Ilion in 1816 when young Eliphalet Remington, Jr. forged out the first Remington rifle. This fact is attested by the shinplasters of Thomas Gillespie & Son of that date. But the store did little business and was of small consequence.

    During the early years, the western part of the present corporation was known as "London." After the canal went through, however, the locality was known as Morgan's Landing, although on the canal list it was called Steele's Creek.

    William Hibbard Page, in 1874, took it upon himself to chronicle the history of the village and his account, which is most interesting, follows:

    "The village was incorporated in 1852, and the first officers were as follows: Trustees, John A. Rasbacch, John Harrington, Conrad Folts, Phineas Gates, and Samuel Underwood; assessors, Jacob Getman, Lawrence Helmer, William J. Lewis: clerk, Eliphalet Remington, Jr.; treasurer, William O. Barnes; collector, William Breadon; pound-master, Abraham Fish. In 1866 by legislative act the charter was changed in important matters, making the term of office of the trustees five years, and providing for the election of one only each year. In 1870 the population had reached 2,876, and in 1875 it was a little more than 4,000; it is now nearly 10,000.

    "The fire department was organized in 1863. R. R. Bennet was the first chief engineer, and Alfred E. Brooks and William Kitzmiller, first and second assistants. The present chief engineer is M. M. Kane. The Armory Hose Company was organized in 1863 and was composed wholly of employees in the Remington factories, and chiefly for the protection of those works, the water being taken from pumps. This organization continued until 1870, when the corporation purchased for it a hand engine. The company was then divided, a part retaining the former name and the others assuming the name of Excelsior Fire Company No. 2, and persons outside of the Remington works were admitted to membership. A. H. Summer was the first foreman of Excelsior Company, and John Irlam and Smith C. Harter, first and second assistants.

    "Ilion Steamer and Hose No. 1 was organized in 1863, soon after the formation of the Armory Hose Company. It consisted of fifty men, and the first foreman was D. J. Randall. The steamer purchased at about this time and for this company, cost $4,500: it was a Silsby rotary. In the spring of 1876 the village purchased two new steamers of the Silsby make, at a cost of $4,000 each. The village has always been fortunate in escaping disastrous fires, and the department is now thoroughly equipped after modern ideas.


WHEN REMINGTON BOUGHT LAND

    "On the 1st day of January, in the year 1828, Eliphalet Remington purchased one hundred acres of land of John A. Clapsaddle, in part the site of the present village of Ilion, being that portion bounded on the west by Otsego Street. The canal had been in operation about three years, but the settlement could only boast of seven dwellings, two storehouses and a school house. The river road (Main Street) came down from Frankfort as it does now, but near the residence of Mr. Albert Baker it crossed the canal on a bridge, which was torn away when the canal was enlarged; passing down on the north side, it re-crossed to the south side of the canal a short distance below the gas works. One of the principal dwellings was the old Clapsaddle farm house, which stood on the premises now occupied by the bank block and the adjacent armory buildings. Here Mr. Clapsaddle had lived for many years, and we are reliably informed that he was born and brought up in that vicinity. Where Hotel Osgood now is there stood a building in the front part of which was the 'corner grocery,' kept by a man named Cary. Here all the business of the Corners was transacted, temporarily and spiritually. Groceries, dry goods, etc.; and intoxicating liquors made up the stock in trade. Daniel Dygert, father of our deceased townsman, J. M. Dygert, occupied a portion of the same building as a dwelling. Just west of this, and where the last named gentleman resided was the residence of his uncle, Dennis Dygert. This gentleman owned a storehouse, which stood where the Alpine Block now is.

    "On the site of Log's Hotel (now occupied by the Colemn Motor Truck Company) was the farm house of Selden Morgan, who also owned a storehouse near where the Morgan's mill now stands. Still farther west and near the creek, was the residence of Adam Steele. The school house was located on the site of Long's barn, near the old feeder, but was afterward moved to about half way between Dennis Dygert's storehouse and the bridge first mentioned. Opposite this bridge, and close to the towpath, was the 'Seth Curtis House,' occupied by Mr. Lawrence Helmer, which is still standing, and is distinguished as the old brown tenement, third building east of the Agricultural Works; farther to the east was the residence of Esquire Helmer. This property was afterwards bought of Mr. Harter by William Jenks, inventor of the Jenks carbine, who erected a new dwelling in the place of the old one; and later it passed into the hands of Esquire Rasbach, by whose family it is now occupied. Such was Ilion in 1831; and these eight families consisted of less than forty persons. From 1830 to 1843 the settlement was called Remington's Corners by the residents, and generally known as such by the inhabitants of the surrounding country. On the canal list, however, it was designated as Steele's Creek, probably after the stream of water which now flows through the center of the village, and which took its name from the fact that Mr. Steele had lived for many years where the creek passes under the canal.

    "During all this time there was no post office at this point, and the villagers received their mail through the office at Mohawk and others in the immediate vicinity. This was a source of great annoyance to them, as it was very inconvenient to go or send from two to ten miles to get letters and papers which could be brought almost to their very doors. In 1843 the place had materially increased in size and population, and had become a point of considerable interest. The manufacture of fire-arms was then in its infancy; indeed, Mr. Remington's principal business was the manufacture of gun barrels, which were sold to gunsmiths and to large manufacturing houses in distant cities.


NAMING THE POST OFFICE

    "At this time the necessity for a post office had correspondingly increased with the prosperity of the Corners, and became the principal topic of conversation in the stores, shops, and firesides as well. But to get an office there must be a name by which to call it. As many as thirty different names were proposed. This was at a time when villages were being named after the most prominent statesmen of the nation, and as there cannot be two post offices of the same name in any single state, nearly all the propositions were dropped and the people of the Corners settled upon two names, Vulcan and Fountain, under one of which they resolved an office should be established. Finally, a general meeting of the citizens was called to express their views, and to decide by vote which of the two it should be. This meeting was held in one of the stores. The result of the vote as announced was that the friends of Fountain outnumbered the Vulcanites nine to one. These were the days of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too'! On the death of William Henry Harrison, John Tyler succeeded to the presidency, and under his administration A. G. Wycliffe was post-master -general. From 1840 to 1844 Hon. L. L. Merry was postmaster at Mohawk, and he used to send the mail to the Corneres tied up in a handerchief, frequently there being no more of it than he could hold in one hand. Mr. Benton of Mohawk, familiarly known as Charley Benton, was member of Congress from this district, and the petition for the new office was placed in his hands. Another petition, from Mr. Merry and the postmasters of Herkimer and Frankfort, was also handed to Mr. Benton, but was not presented to the department, as Mr. Wycliffe readily granted the office on the petition of the citizens. The friends of Fountain were not entirely satisfied with their choice, although they consented to adopt the name for the want of something better.

    "It had been suggested that the place be named after Mr. Remington, but that gentleman modestly declined the honor. Mr. Benton, however, was so much in favor of the suggestion that after consulting with General Spinner, then cashier of the Mohawk Valley Bank, and Humphrey G. Root, by their advice he concluded to change the name, on presenting the petition, which he did accordingly. So this village was called Remington by authority of the government, and one of its most highly esteemed citizens, David D. Devoe, was appointed to be postmaster. As might be supposed, the people were greatly surprised when the papers were received informing them of the change, but they were apparently satisfied. Mr. Remington was displeased. In due time the department sent on a contract for a weekly mail service from Mohawk at twelve dollars a year; a mail but once a week was hardly better than under the old system, and a contract for twelve dollars a year nobody would take. For the sake of form, however, and to comply with the requirements of the department, David Harrington was induced to accept it, and the contract was accordingly returned to Washington. This arrangement not being satisfactory to the postmaster or the citizens, Mr. Devoe made a private contract with a Mr. Roarbach to let his (Roarbach's) boy get a daily mail from Mohawk; and it was agreed that in time of unpleasant and stormy weather the official should go after the mail himself. The price of the contract was fifty-six dollars. This sum was the amount allowed by the department less forty-four dollars, which Mr. Devoe paid out of his own pocket.


HOW ILION GOT ITS NAME

    "The office was opened in the store where O. B. Rudd's jewelry store is now located, and it was fitted up with a case of boxes and other fixtures necessary to make it convenient by Mr. Devoe. These circumstances are mentioned simply to show how much interest was felt by our first postmaster in the success of his administration, as well as personal expenses incurred by him in supplying Remington with a daily mail, facts not generally known to our citizens. So great was Mr. Remington's displeasure at the name of the new post-office that he refused to date his letters at Remington, but dated them at German Flatts; consequently answers to his correspondence were sent to German Flatts post-office, nine miles away up in Paines Hollow. As a further inconvenience, letters addressed to this place would be sent to Bennington, Vt.; Perrinton, N. J.; Bennington, N.Y.; and another place of a similar name in Pennsylvania; so also would letters intended for these places reach this office, occasioned, of course, by illegible superscription. These circumstances finally became a source of such great annoyance that the people murmured. About a year after the establishment of the office Messrs, Remington and Devoe became satisfied that a change was very much needed.

    "Considerable time was spent by them in searching for an Indian name for some point in close proximity to Remington, but without effect. Failing to find a name which he would be willing to forward on his own responsibility to the department for confirmation, Mr. Remington asked his friend to suggest one, and Mr. Devoe named Ilion, which he had proposed at the beginning. At that time there was one other office of this name in the United States, located in Tipton County, Tenn.; but it has since been discontinued. On that account, but chiefly because he had been favorable impressed with it in reading Homer's Iliad, did Postmaster Devoe urge the name of Ilion. Mr. Remington was pleased with it, but there was one objection; he thought that there was somewhat of a vanity in taking the name of so important a city as ancient Troy to bestow on such a small and unpretending place as was proposed. Concluding that none could be found that would give better satisfaction, these gentlemen sent their petition to Washington, and the name of Ilion was substituted for Remington, without consulting the citizens, which would doubtless have caused delay, and perhaps defeated the object in view."

    Shortly after the name of the place was changed from Remington to Ilion, the Remington business, around which the village centered, began to grow and the village grew with it.

    And this has been so ever since, until today Ilion employs more men than any other place in New York State in proportion to its size and the village is known far and wide as one of the most progressive towns in the Nation.


THE MAKING OF THE FIRST REMINGTON RIFLE

    The first Remington rifle came into being when Eliphalet Remington, Jr. discovered that the country about Ilion abounded with the finest kind of game.

    Eliphalet Remington, Sr., and his family, which included young Eliphalet, were among the earliest settlers. They were a family of farmers, as were other families in the neighborhood, but unlike the farmers of today, they were something more than mere tillers of the soil. They were mechanics of ability. They had to be. One could not go out and buy spoons or hoes or hatchets at the corner store, then. They had to be made.

    And while good farming land meant life to those pioneers, still it was not the highest type of farm unless it had somewhere upon it running water that could be harnessed for power. The steam engine had not come into general use at that time and if one wanted power there were only running water or a horse-turned windlass to look to for it. The windlass method often was used on lathes and other simple machines, but water power was better, and any stream large enough to turn a water wheel was suitable. Factories, such as they were, were located right out in the country, next to the farms, for the line between the farmer and the manufacturer was vague. The farmer had to be mechanic enough to make and repair tools and to manufacture lots of things for the family. Thus it came that almost any place up a creek might be the beginning of a great industry, and it was in just such a place that the first Remington was made a hundred years ago.

    Eliphalet Remington, Sr., was a keen Connecticut Yankee. In 1880 he moved to this state and settled about three miles southwest of the present Ilion, in the town of Litchfield. He was both farmer and mechanic, and his lands of some 300 acres, included what is now known as the Ilion Gulf. And because it was hard in those days to get other people to repair tools, the Remingtons set up a forge and blacksmith shop on the place to do the work themselves.


MAKING OF THE FIRST GUN

    Just how the first Remington rifle came to be made is best told in a manuscript of unknown authorship which was typed on the first Remington typewriter and now is in the possession of Mrs. Watson C. Squires, a daughter of Philo Remington, of Ilion. It follows:

    "The Historians of the Mohawk Valley of the County of Herkimer, have almost, if not entirely forgotten to give their readers a clear or distinct idea of the natural forest and of the game which was here one hundred years ago. In fact, they have said nothing about it. Nevertheless, there were woods and game in abundance; as much as there is today in the uncultivated wilderness. There were deer and any quantity of partridges up the gulf in Litchfield, Columbia, Frankfort and elsewhere.

    "There was a young man residing in Litchfield whose inclinations pressed him in the same direction as the young man already spoken of. (Refers to story of a young man who improvised a gun with which to shoot a bear) He wanted some of the partridges and to get them he must have a gun. He asked his father to buy him one, but the father did not seem to acquiesce to his request, Still his inclinations were to secure partridges, but unlike our former friend, he did not know of an old musket. In his deliberations he resolved that if his father would not buy him one he would go to work and make a gun for himself.

    "This young man's name was Eliphalet Remington, Jr., the son of Eliphalet Remington who moved to the town of Litchfield, Herkimer County, after the Revolutionary War, near the close of the last century. He came here to improve his circumstances as there were two blast furnaces near by, one in Litchfield and another in Frankfort.

    "The first piece of ground which Mr. Eliphalet Remington bought was in Litchfield, 50 acres, which was deeded to him March 22d, 1779, by Mr. James Smith, for $275. The next was on the 20th of April, 1807, being 195 acres of land from Mr. Samuel Merry, for $585. The following year he bought 71 acres more.

    "It is evident that the Remingtons were of Puritan Stock. The industry of the father and the self-confidence which the young man manifested in his ability to manufacture with his own hands the very implement which was needed to reach the game, seems to be more than mere faith. It denoted ability. However, this was his second experiment or article which he had manufactured. Being fond of music he made a flute and tuned it correctly. We presume that the old flute is still in some branch of the family.

    "In regard to his education, but little can be said, as the schools at that day were meager, but a Puritan will bestow care upon the education of his offspring, even when circumstances are adverse. The father, no doubt, did all in his power to instruct the boy in the rudiments of a common education.

    "We are told that in early life young Remington hesitated as to his future course; whether he should devote himself to mental or mechanical work; whether he should use the quill or the hammer on their anvil. At that period in life he was considered to be a fair poet as he composed freely. His mother treasured up many of them, whether they are extinct or not, we cannot say. In the war of 1812, he wrote several pieces, one on the Declaration of War, and another on the Fast-Day, in which he expressed the sentiment "That God would dispose our rulers to do that which was best for our country." At the close of the war he wrote another of which we give a fragment from the lips of one whom he had often repeated them in after years:

"Hail sacred peace, thy gentle reign
Is now restored to us again,
Thy radiant smiles and cheerful voice,
Bids every virtuous heart rejoice.

"But can thy smiles disburse the gloom
That reigns within the warrior's tomb,
Or can it assuage the widow's grief,
Or to the orphan speak relief?"

    "These lines may not stand the test of a critical poetical examination, but still they express sentiments of pleasure on the return of peace, and questions of doubt as to the making up of the loss sustained by the widow and fatherless in the ravages of war.

    "We are not prepared to state what authors this young man had read. We can only say that he was partial to the poets. Scott was his favorite author and at one time he could repeat every line Pope's 'Essay on Man.' Byron he detested on account of his diction.


MADE BARREL WITH HIS HANDS

    "But let us return to the first gun, as it was the turning point in his life. Some men cannot do anything unless they have every convenience which science has suggested. Others, as we have already shown, can improvise. We will not attempt at this distance from the scene to show the reader how young Remington made the several parts of that gun. It is sufficient for us to say that he made the barrel and the stock with his own hands. A neighbor was present when he ground the barrel on the grindstone, and sometimes in its revolution it would snatch the barrel out of the hands and throw it aside, but without a murmur or the utterance of an impure word, he would go and pick it up and hold it tighter. The plate of the lock he found among some scrap iron which was brought to the furnace. The spring and other parts wanting, he made himself.

    "The bore was a smooth one, but he wanted a rifle and not having a tool to cut the grooves, he took the gun to Utica to a gunsmith to cut the grooves.

    "Those who saw his work were highly delighted with what he had done, as doubtless he was himself, especially when he reached the game. Soon it became known that young Remington could make a barrel. At that time most of the barrels used at Utica and through the Mohawk Valley came from Pennslyvania and could not always be procured when needed. Applications, therefore, were made to Mr. Remington for barrels, and in less than two years his barrels were pronounced the best in the country. Two things had made them so--he made general improvements in the manufacture of barrels and his principals were such that nothing was allowed to go out of his hands which was imperfect. In speaking of improvements; once he completed a barrel and laid it upon the plate until it was called for, where, for some cause or other it remained for nearly two years. One day Mr. Remington took it down and examined it. He was astonished to note the difference from what he was then manufacturing.

    "When Providence indicated what his future should be, he gave his whole life to his business and unlike many others, who, after being successful for a while, have turned their attention to politics and have sought positions of influence from the government, his strength and energy were consecrated to his business and although he commenced with one, which probably cost him weeks of labor, that was the beginning. Soon he turned out one a day and so on in progression, he increased his facilities.

    "In 1832, he had twenty men in his employ and from that day forward his work and men seemed to increase on the principle of arithmetical progression. His sons also were instructed in the art and labored assiduously under his direction. His doctrine was that they must earn a competence for themselves. They, like their father, had mechanical eyes and a mechanic's hands. Eliphalet, when he was a mere boy, built a piece of wall which would compare well with a master mason's work. Philo wielded the hammer at the forge and was an expert in straightening barrels. He conformed strictly to his father's will, excepting in two instances. The first was when he found a better method--a way to straighten barrels without a line, and the introduction of a steel face to his trip hammer.


THE START OF IMPROVEMENTS

    "His father watched the son closely when he took his anvil to the center of the shop, raising the barrel without a line and when he saw him with his powerful arm cutting the face of the trip hammer, at last gave up, perhaps reluctantly, for he acted not on the theory that he believed what was right, but that he knew that it was so. The stern logic which Mr. Remington held was that he knew what was right and could not tolerate what was wrong.

    "That principle was thoroughly instilled in his sons. Changes in many departments have taken place since the 12th of July 1861, yet in the management of the works this same principle is adhered to. What is known to be right is right and a wrong cannot be tolerated for any length of time. Also an imperfect implement or piece of work must not leave the premises. In this Mr. Remington was exact and so are his sons.

    "He wronged no man intentionally and was amiable and kind. He was quick to apologize for a hasty word, as shown in the following instance. He gave a strange blacksmith who came in the shop, a job, and remarked that he would be around by the time he was through. The man was a quick workman and finished his task before the boss returned. Seeing another piece of the work just at hand he went on without instructions. Mr. Remington seeing what he was doing and supposing that he had laid the former work aside, spoke quickly, giving him other work and departed. At noon he called the man, saying "I want to know your name," and added "let the past be forgotten."

    "The history of that gun, though we know not where it is or who claims to be its owner, is far from being exhausted. What we have said is only a sketch---thousands and tens of thousands have been made in a single year and still the march is onward.

    "But there is another view which it will be well for us to notice, namely, the change it has wrought in society---in the social compact; the immense wealth it has brought to the family and to hundreds of others. That gun may be regarded as the nucleus of a city, of churches, colleges and many other institutions. A measurable comparison can scarcely be taken. We may take a glance at the old shop in the gulf then glance at the stately buildings at Ilion on both sides of the canal, but who can describe the difference? Or at the one man working at a single barrel in a retired nook, improvising tools for himself and then at the hundreds at Ilion which have all the appliances of science and the conveniences of modern improvements and the product of their industry are found in the principle parts of the world.

    "Mr. Remington lived to a good old age, but not quite long enough to see the full development of what he had inaugurated. His works and resources were in advance of the times. The war known as the American conflict had just broken out. He was in feeble health and his sons were enlarging their buildings. Neither of them knew then what a harvest awaited them, but the time of his departure was at hand. Most of his time was spent in his room in which he renewed his past history and returned to his early habit of composing verses. A linden tree that at an early day he had planted in his door yard, aided him in his meditations, especially when he thought of his children, who, like the tree, had grown up at his side and as the tree was in fine condition, so he was leaving his family and was delighted in the contemplation of their future prospects, as to things temporal and things which are spiritual.

    "He died quietly and peacefully and thus passed away one of the great men who was born in the last century and was an exemplar for coming generations."


THE REMINGTON ARMS COMPANY IN REVIEW

    The Remington factory was extended to Ilion in 1828, just twelve years after the making of the first rifle.

    The canal recently had been opened and Remington, looking about for a site, saw the possibilities offered at Ilion. He accordingly purchased a large tract of land here and erected his first shop, a low one-story building. Here he carried on his business, which showed a healthy growth. In 1835 he purchased of Ames & Co., of Springfield, Mass., their plant of gun-finishing machinery, with part of an unfinished contract with the United States for some thousands of carbines. The works were increased, and before the completion of this contract, the rising establishment was given another order for 5,000 Harper's Ferry Rifles; and still another order followed in quick succession. About the year 1840, while the capacity of the works was still insignificant compared to their later magnitude, Mr. Remington's sons, Samuel, Philo and Eliphalet, reached manhood and took an active part in the growing business, with the best of results.

    In 1847 the firm began making pistols, and so simply and efficiently were they constructed that a large market was opened for them at once. This branch of the business grew to enormous proportions before they took up the manufacture of their well-known army and navy revolver, which was afterwards adopted by the United States Government. For some time previous to 1865, the firm had perfected systems particularly designed for the conversion of muzzle loaders to breech loaders, in rifles. A carbine embodying the results of their prior experiments in this direction was tested among about sixty others by a board of government officers at Springfield in 1865, and attracted considerable attention. During the succeeding year valuable improvements were made in the system, after which for many years the Remington was the leading breech-loading arm of the world. Many governments in the old world adopted it, while large contracts were filled for the United States, and the gross number manufactured reached much more than half a million. In all of the severe tests made by expert boards for the several governments, including our own, this arm maintained its foremost reputation. So great was the capacity of the new works that in 1870-71, during a period of about seven months, the enormous number of 155,000 rifles was shipped to the French government---an order altogether unprecedented in the history of similar enterprises.


INCORPORATED IN 1865

    In January, 1865, the Remington works were incorporated, with Philo Remington as president; Samuel Remington, vice president; and Eliphalet Remington, Secretary. In 1871, Col. W. C. Squire was elected secretary; he was a member of the Remington family by marriage, and is a former United States Senator for and Governor of Washington. The nominal capitol was $1,000,000 while the value of the plant was then placed at $1,500,000. This latter estimate was subsequently increased to about $3,000,000.

    In 1856, the manufacture of agricultural implements was begun at the armory, commencing with a cultivator tooth, which soon found a large and profitable market. To this was afterwards added plows, mowing machines, wheel rakes, horse shoes , and a large variety of smaller tools. For this department three large buildings were erected, and they employed at one time about 400 men.

    In 1870, the firm added to their lines of products the manufacture of sewing machines, a branch of the business that soon became as successful as those preceding it. This step was taken partly because of the fluctuation in the manufacture of arms, much of the machinery being necessarily idle at times. An excellent sewing machine was turned out and it found such favor that the sale reached about 35,000 in a single year.

    In 1874, still another important industry was added to these works in the manufacture of typewriters, which have since become almost a household necessity. While this branch of the business was being developed and improved, the firm became embarrassed financially. In 1878, to relieve the financial embarrassment of the corporation, its bonds for over $500,000 having five years to run, were issued to its creditors. In 1882, in order to provide relief and get quicker returns for a part of the vast product of the factories, an arrangement was made whereby the sewing machine output was disposed of by the Remington Sewing Machine Agency, a company formed for the purpose of marketing all the machines made at the works. In August of the same year, further arrangements to this end were made by which the typewriters were sold direct to the firm of Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict, who continued to handle the product of that department until March, 1886, at which time they purchased the business and machinery and have ever since handled with great success both the manufacture and sale of these machines. In 1883, a further arrangement was made with Lamberson, Furman & Co., of New York, to handle all the sporting arms.

    All this served as a relief for a period, but unfortunately it was not permanent. In March, 1886, the entire typewriter interest was sold, as stated, and a part of the works leased in which to continue their manufacture. This action preceded the failure of the company only a few weeks, and in April, A. N. Russell and Addison Brill, both prominent business men of Ilion, were appointed receivers of the company. They immediately assumed charge of the works and took an inventory as soon as practicable. Their report was ready in June. Under order of the Court they operated the works until 1888. In October, 1887, they were given an order to sell the works at auction, and the first sale was made in February, 1888, the gun department being sold to Hartley & Graham, of New York, for $152,000. This sale included the armory plant and all the goods in process of completion. The sale was not approved by the court, and a second took place in March, 1888, under which the same firm paid $200,000 for the same property.


START OF REMINGTON ARMS CO.

    This firm organized the Remington Arms Company, with Marcellus Hartley, as president; Thomas G. Bennett, vice-president; W. W. Reynolds, secretary; Wilfred Hartley, treasurer.

    Since that time, improvement in the sporting arm, backed by aggressive salesmanship, together with contracts for guns in connection with the present European struggle have brought the Remington Arms Company's plant to the point where it may be looked upon as the greatest gun-making establishment in the country.


HOW THE REMINGTON CENTENNIAL STARTED

    The idea of holding a celebration to mark the making of the first Remington Rifle a hundred years ago originated at a meeting of the Ilion Board of Trade in 1914. At subsequent meetings, the matter was discussed and in January, 1915, a committee, headed by Herbert A. House, was appointed to undertake the task. The committee follows: Herbert A. House, Chairman and Manager of the Centennial; Seward Hakes, Secretary; F. C. Thurwood, Treasurer; S. C. Burch, E. E. Barney, F. A. Schmidt, A. B. Russell, J. H. Rudd, G. O. Rasbach, P. H. Ward and H. P. Hamlin.

    Mr. House and his fellow committeemen put their shoulders to the wheel and soon plans for the event began to take definite form.

    From the outset, the idea met with the hearty approval, not only with the people of Ilion, but also throughout the Mohawk Valley. Other committees were appointed as the plans daily grew more elaborate, with the following chairmen: Parades, H. P. Hamlin; Field Sports and Fireworks, George O. Rasbach; Music, J. H. Rudd; Entertainment, E. O. Davis; Reception, E. E. Barney and C. C. Brill.

    These men and their associates have worked night and day and to them the success of the centennial must be credited.


REMINGTON AS A LETTER WRITER

    When Eliphalet Remington wrote letters, he wasted but few words on idle generalities. He wrote in a plain, legible hand, denoting that strength of character which carried his enterprises through to success, and he wrote to the point. Here is a copy of a letter written by him to his son, Philo Remington, on a western trip. The original letter, dated more than half a century ago, is in the hands of Mrs. W. C. Square. The lame duck is a bad customer at Joliet, Ill. The letter follows:

                        Galver, Ill, June 22, 1857

    Dear Son:
        I find we have thrown away two days' time, and about ten dollars in pursuit of our lame ducks, at Joliet, as there is but little prospect of ever getting anything of them. On my return I called on our customers at Ottawa, and Mr. Holland will take half a dozen pistols. I also found Volney Beckwith there (one of our old hands) who appears to be doing very well. The delay occasioned by this somewhat retrograde movement to Joliet has rendered it difficult to leave here until today. I now propose to go on to Galesburg this afternoon, and then proceed by way of Quincy and Alton to St. Louis, and when I think of the time already consumed, and look at the route still desirable to pursue on my return home, I fear I shall not be able to accomplish it within the time proposed when I left you, but I assure you I shall make no unnecessary delays, as I am well aware that our business requires my presence with you.

        The weather here has been rather wet and cold for several days, making fires in our rooms rather comfortable. My health continues good, and
I remain

Truly yours
                        (Signed) E. Remington


THE BEGINNING OF STANDARDIZATION

    Just before the outbreak of the Civil War, the Remingtons found the demand for their rifles so great that they had to begin standardizing their output. So, in 1857, they circularized the country as follows:

CIRCULAR

    We find that a constantly increasing propor-
tion of the Orders we receive for Gun Barrels, are
for those of DEFINITE DIMENSIONS, thereby requiring
additional time and attention in their execution.

    Although we keep constantly on hand a well-
assorted Stock of 3,000 to 5,000 Barrels, we are seldom
able to fill an order, from the entire stock, when precise
Length, Weight, Bore, etc., are required; whereas, if a
little variation were allowed in EACH of the above
particulars, the Barrels could generally be selected,
thereby avoiding the DELAY and the extra attention
required to make them of precise dimensions.

    We are therefore compelled to say, that in
future we must charge 25 cents Extra on all Barrels
made to PRECISE proportions, either in Length, Weight
Bore or Diameter.

        E. REMINGTON & SONS
    Ilion, February 1, 1857.


RECORD OF THE REMINGTON FAMILY

The record of the Remington family as found in the Remington family Bible follows:

NamesBirthsMarriagesDeaths
Eliphalet RemingtonOct 13, 1768
June 27, 1828
Elizabeth KilbournAug 20, 1770March 3, 1791
Elizabeth RemingtonFeb 2, 1792March 17, 1814
Eliphalet RemingtonOct 28, 1793May 12, 1814
Susana RemingtonMarch 6, 1796
Feb 4, 1817
Aphia P. RemingtonMay 13, 1800Dec 4, 1817
Samuel RemingtonJan 11, 1808
Feb 29, 1808

    E. Remington, 1st was born in Suffield and his wife in Sandersfield and moved to Cranes Corners in Litchfield when Elizabeth was eight years old, or in 1800; was a carpenter and built by contract the old Union Church at Corners. Afterward bought land in Avery neighborhood in several parcels, living first in a little wooden house about opposite where Sanford Avery now lives, and then built stone house.

    Was killed by being thrown from a load of timber he was drawing to Ilion to be used in building one of the first factory buildings, he falling from a timber which canted over when going through a slough hole in Road near C. Weber's place. The wheel of wagon passed over him injuring spine and he died in five days.

THE LINDEN TREE
REMINGTON'S LAST POEM

        As he lay on his deathbed in 1861, Eliphalet Remington, gunmaker, looked to his favorite pastime, the composition of poetry, for comfort and to his daughter, Mrs. Merry, he dedicated the following lines about a linden tree which he planted in his front yard, where the main office building now stands.

In manhood's strong and vigorous prime
I planted a young linden tree
Near to my dwelling; which in time
Has spread its branches wide and free.

Oft have I watched its healthful growth
With something like a parent's pride
Who sees the offspring of his youth
Grow to strong manhood by his side.

Oft have my thoughts gone back to where
I plucked it from its native bed
Long years ago when no grey hair
Was seen upon my now grey head.

But now old age has damped the flame
That glowed within me at that day,
Energy and strength desert my frame
And I am sinking in decay.

But thanks I've lived and long have shared
Health and Vigor like this tree
And when I'm gone let it be spared
A mute remembrance of me.

Continue on to Part 2


Back to Village of Ilion History Page

Back to Herkimer/Montgomery Counties NYGenWeb

Back to New York State GenWeb




Created 10/16/02
Copyright © 2002 Paul McLauglin/ Carolyn Deming Bayer/ Martha S. Magill
All Rights Reserved.