Friday, April 22, 2016

The Great White Fleet

The Great White Fleet
by Rachel Dworkin, archivist

On December 16, 1907, the Great White Fleet, a United States Naval battle group consisting of 18 ships manned by 14,000 sailors, set sail from Hampton Roads, Virginia to begin it’s nearly 2-year voyage to circumnavigate the globe.   One of those sailors was a 19-year-old Elmiran named Chauncey Lawrence (1888-1951) who was serving aboard the U.S.S. Wisconsin.  His personal papers including photographs and a scrapbook from the voyage were recently donated to CCHS and they are pretty darn neat.
Sailor Chauncey W. Lawrence, 1907

Ostensibly, the fleet was a goodwill gesture designed to augment America’s diplomatic efforts with friendly (or at least friendly-ish) nations around the world.  It was, after all, fairly common at the time for the navies of the various nations to visit each other’s ports, especially in conjunction important anniversaries or celebrations.  At the same time, the Great White Fleet was a clear demonstration of America’s naval power.  The defeat of the Russian Navy during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 had given rise to anxieties about an ambitious Japan, especially along the west coast.  By sending the fleet, President Roosevelt hoped to intimidate the Japanese enough to keep them in check.

Yokohama, Japan, during the Fleet's visit, October 18-25, 1908

The fleet’s voyage took nearly 2 years and included 17 extended stops in 14 countries.  The Panama Canal wasn’t in operation yet, so the fleet had to travel down the coast of South America and through the Strait of Magellan.  On the way home, they were able to bypass the Horn of Africa by taking the Suez Canal.  They arrived back in Hampton Roads on February 22, 1909. 

Commemorative medal given to sailors of the Great White Fleet during one of their stops in 1908.
Chauncey Lawrence’s collection from the voyage includes postcards from every port the fleet visited, as well as a smattering of photographs.  After the voyage, Lawrence married the sister of one of his fellow crewmen and lived for a while with her family in Colorado.  He re-enlisted in the Navy during World War I.  While he was unable to be accepted back during World War II, he served as a Naval Reservist in the Korean conflict and died while serving aboard the U.S.S. Howe.      
Chauncey Lawrence and fellow crewmen on leave in Korea, 1951.
 See if you can figure out which one is him.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Farrington Stoneware

by Erin Doane, curator

Stoneware was widely popular in the United States in the 19th century. The pottery was fired at extremely high heat, making it very durable and suitable for daily use. Many companies that made stoneware stamped their names on the pieces they made. Just recently, CCHS received a collection of stoneware stamped “E.W. Farrington.” The company produced drain tiles and fire bricks as well as stoneware pottery. The pottery bore the marks “J. Farrington & Co. / Elmira, N.Y.,” “E.W. Farrington,” and “E.W. Farrington & Co. / Elmira, N.Y.”
E.W. Farrington stamp on a piece of stoneware
James B. Farrington came to Elmira around 1862 from Havana, New York (now Montour Falls). Two years later, his wife and children joined him here. In 1868, he and Orin C. Walter took over a local pottery manufacturing business. Albert O. Whittemore had built the stoneware factory in 1865 at 900 East Church Street. Whittemore also operated a similar plant in Havana. The Elmira factory was next to the Chemung Canal so clay and other supplies could be brought in by water and finished products could be shipped out the same way.

Large crock made by E.W. Farrington
In 1876, Orin Walter left the business and was replaced by a man named Everard. At that point the business changed its name to Farrington and Everard. After Everard died in 1881, James Farrington brought his son E. Ward into the business and the company name became J.B. Farrington and Company.

Advertisement from the 1885 Elmira city directory
Upon the death of his father in July 1887, E. Ward Farrington took over the company and operated it himself under the name E.W. Farrington & Co. On February 16, 1894, a note in the Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press announced that “the pottery of Ward Farrington on East Church Street has been shut down, owing to the oversupply of earthen wares on hand and no market. Seven employes (sic) are thrown out of employment.” In 1913, a fire destroyed the storehouse located in the rear of the old pottery works. E. Ward Farrington remained listed in the Elmira city directories as a seller of stoneware until 1916. Perhaps the business no longer manufactured pottery but still sold it. In 1917, E.W. Farrington was listed as selling only wood and coal.

Three E.W. Farrington stoneware jugs
While the factory was in operation, the crocks, jugs, and pitchers produced by Farrington were sold to various businesses and individuals. Different sizes of jugs were used by wholesale and retail wine and liquor sellers here in Elmira including J.J. O’Connor, John M. Connelly, Fred Ferris, and C.E. Vinton. The number on the side of many of the jugs indicates how many gallons of liquid it could hold.

E.W. Farrington stoneware jugs used by
local businesses in three different sizes
Stoneware butter crocks made by Farrington were also used by creameries such as the Atwater Brothers.

Atwater Bros. butter crock made by E.W. Farrington
One interesting thing about the Farrington pottery factory was that none of its owners were potters. They were all businessmen who relied on their hired craftsmen to do the actual work. This may not be at all unusual for businesses today but it marks Farrington as one of the few potteries in New York State that was owned for its entire history by men who were untrained as potters.

Stoneware spittoon made by E.W. Farrington
The recent donation of eleven pieces of Farrington stoneware is a great addition to CCHS’s collections. The museum now has examples of the many different shapes and sizes of jugs, crocks, and other pieces that were made by the company and used by other local businesses.

E.W. Farrington jug used by the
Family Liquor Store of Elmira