Hoosick Township Historical Society

THE BUTTON FACTORY

 

From an account by the Standard Press 1935

Construction of the connecting link in the highway system near the Whitehouse Bridge necessitates the demolition of the old and abandoned Tibbits "Button Factory" and a small plaster dwelling house nearby. The job of razing these two buildings is now under way, B. B. Lester of the village having secured the contract.

As an industrial plant the Button Factory passed through a varied and curious career. Insofar as The Standard Press was able to learn, it was constructed by the late John B. Tibbits between 1875 and 1880. I. G. Langworthy of Hoosick states the plaster dwelling house was erected some years prior to the factory, his family residing there and he, himself, being born there in 1871. His father, the late Isaac R. Langworthy, operated the factory as a saw mill for seven or eight years after its construction, using vertical saws which were later replaced by circular saws. Operated by water power from a pond across the highway and the outlet passing through the mill to the Hoosick river, more than 90,000 feet of timber was cut at the mill during the first few years of its existence all of which was consumed in the construction of Tibbits properties. It had been utilized as a saw mill, more or less, through the years up to within recent times.

An addition was made to the mill later on, and for eight years or more, A. A. Brimmer of Hoosick operated a cider and vinegar mill on the property. Four vats, each capable of producing 130 gallons of either product, kept a half a dozen men busy through this period and large quantities of vinegar were shipped to New York weekly. Work at the saw mill went on at full blast at the same time. John B. Tibbits then changed the plant considerably gad went into the business of manufacturing buttons. During this period the factory enjoyed its most prosperous years, some 30 hands being employed.

For a short time the mill was operated as a flax industry, the raising of flax during the 80's being one of the most predominating farming occupations in this section. Later, knitting machinery was installed and far a time, a John Dryer manufactured hosiery and shirts there. A few years passed and the factory underwent a complete change of character when John B. Tibbits took Fred Jackworth and a man by the name of Yunk, both inventors of sorts, under his wing and launched into the business of making electric light bulbs. For a time this business prove profitable, although the three men at its head made little or nothing out of the proposition because of patent troubles and differences of opinion arising between the two inventors. Files of the Rensselaer County Standard of 1885 Aeneid refer to the fact that at one time the mill entertained an order for 18,000 electric light bulbs. Large dynamos were also constructed at the plant, but these were not an overwhelming success , as it appears the motors failed to function as they were expected to do. Other small industries were launched from time to time, but the factory finally reverted to its original status as a saw mill, and in the course of time ceased operations altogether.

The building was constructed two stories above the highway with three other stories being sunk down the side of the embankment for a distance of approximately 40 feet. Huge timbers were used in the frame work while in some sections of the mill the floor boards are from three to four inches thick. The interior is awesome; footsteps echo hollowly through cavernous depths; damp and dark recesses in the walls are met at almost every tuning, and dust lies thick over disabled machinery of almost every description. Since the demolition work started a week ago the wreckers have been assailed by an extremely disagreeable odor, which led to thoughts of partially buried and decaying bodies. The odor was tracked to its lair Tuesday and while it was something decidedly dead and gruesome, it was not the body of a human being. Lester has seven men employed on wrecking the structure. His contract limits him to 21 days in which to raze both buildings, but he believes he will complete the wrecking several day prior to the expiration of the given time