Thursday, July 20, 2017

Fuller & Warren Company

Connection of the Century:
Fuller & Warren Co.
updated 4 October 2018
Sometimes it's the smallest of connections that hold the most potential for historical research. Arriving recently in the Arnold Collection was this fine advertising trade card for Fuller & Warren Company's stoves, furnaces and ranges:

Fuller & Warren operated several factories, one of which was in Troy, NY:

The illustration above and the company description below is from The City of Troy and its Vicinity by Arthur James Weise published by E. Green in 1886 (Troy, NY 376p.)

Customers came from all over to purchase Fuller & Warren products, even some from places that no longer exist.

Farmers Village, NY transaction
A single corner of the original factory remains. Below is the remaining corner as portrayed in the illustration above followed by two views of the remnants photographed by Google Street View:

25 Monroe St., Troy NY

Street View closeup
Remnants from Monroe St., 1st floor facing railroad
Sometimes our story ends with these corporate discoveries. In this case, however, the back of the Fuller & Warren card reveals not only the name of the store that originally distributed the card, but something else besides....*

Charles J. Rumsey operated a hardware store in Ithaca that sold not only stoves and furnaces, but other merchandise as well.

In his book, Ithaca and its Past: The History and Architecture of the Downtown, DeWitt Historical Society of Tompkins County, 1982, Daniel R. Snodderly states that the business spanned the years 1876, when C. J. Rumsey became a partner to 1962, when it was replaced by the Outdoor Store on the Ithaca Commons.

The Ithaca Weekly Journal, 26 Dec 1907, p.9 carried this ad for the store:

A century later, it's not clear which device had tooth-saving qualities.
Tragedy struck the Rumsey family in 1906, when John Cooper Rumsey, Ithaca City fireman (Torrent Hose Co. no.5) and son of Charles J. Rumsey was killed while fighting a fire at Chi Psi lodge, a Cornell University fraternity. He and several colleagues were killed when the north wall of the burning building collapsed on them.

* Lurking on the back of this particular card is a clue that ties this card to one of those trivial everyday events that happened to all of us living in the late 19th century. Here's the clue:

Not long after Ada Poyer (1886-1980) learned how to write, she was given this valuable souvenir of her family's visit to C.J. Rumsey's store. In her best cursive, she affixed her signature to the back of the card. The card was kept as a valuable keepsake, perhaps long after she wed Edward Albert Thomas, maybe until she passed away a month after her husband in 1980.

The card may have passed through many hands after that, always being saved as an item of curiosity, if not of any particular value. In the summer of 2017 it left its temporary home in Lexington, Ohio and arrived back in the Village of Lansing, NY just outside of Ithaca, where it was added to the Earl J. Arnold Advertising Card Collection.

From the 1890s, Ada Poyer says "Hello" to her descendants and reminds those of us living today that all of our activities, no matter how mundane they appear, are significant and worthy of note.

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