Tanneries of Jefferson County, NY
From: Jefferson County Centenial 1905
Compiled by Jere Coughlin, Secretary
Hungerford-Halbrook Co, Watertown, N. Y.


The tanning business of Watertown and vicinity is of an old date, extending far back among the oldest trades in existence here. The first tannery erected in Watertown on an extensive scale, was built by Jason Fairbanks in 1823, and since that date the interest has been an important one to Watertown as well as to this section of the State. Fairbanks' tan yard was upon the site now occupied by S. Pool's residence cn State street. The second tannery built by this industrious and enterprising pioneer, was located near Factory Square and continued to do a large business under various managements, until destroyed by fire in 1874. Messrs. Holt and Beecher carried on the tanning business for many years on Beebee's Island near the smaller bridge. This tannery was twice destroyed by fire. In 1844 the extensive tannery now occupied and conducted by Farwell, Hall & Co., located at the lower darn, was built by Messrs. Fisk & Bates. A good business has been carried on here since that year, and much profit has followed the enterprise.

In 1837 Messrs. Milton Clark & George Burr established a tannery between Beebee's Island and Factory Square, which was devoted principally to the sheep skin and morocco line. This tannery has been in continuous operation and has proved valuable property. It is now conducted by Farwell, Hall & Co.

The present tanning business of George Parker & Son was lounded in 1854 and was run for nearly twenty years by B. F. Hotchkin & Son. The tannery is located on Fairbanks street near Factory Square.

The last tannery built in Watertown was put up in 1868, upon the north side of the river on Sewall's Island, near the upper dam, by Messrs. Millington & Burt, and the tanning of hides and skins was conducted here for many years. It is now operated by Messrs. Gates & Gillett, both practical men, in wool pulling and sheep skin tanning. This tannery is of brick and is considered by the trade as a model of convenience.

The tanning interest of this county is extensive, and extends into the neighboring counties of Lewis, Oswego and St. Lawrence. We give below a record showing the tanneries in Jefferson county with such facts and statistics respecting each one, as may interest inquirers in this direction.


Farwell, Hall & Co., Watertown, in their two tanneries, tan 3,000 hides and 4,000 skins annually, rough and finished. Sales principally in northern New York, Vermont and Boston. The tanneries run to their full capacity.

George Parker & Son, Watertown, tan 500 hides and 6,000 skins annually, rough and finished, and sell principally in northern New York and Boston. The capacity of the tannery is 800 hides and 10,000 skins. The cost of bark in Watertown is $6.50 per cord.

G. N. Crosby, Antwerp. tans 800 hides and 3,000 skins annually, sold in the rough in Boston. Capacity, 1,500 hides and 8,000 skins. Cost of bark, $5.

Weaver & Son, Adams, tan 200 hides annually, finished as harness and upper. Runs to full capacity. Cost of bark, $6. Sold in Boston and home markets.

J. S. Lewis, Adams, does a business of like extent.

Baldwin & Douglass, Mannsville, tan 800 hides and 4,000 skins, in rough, and sell in Boston. Capacity 1,500 hides and 15,000 skins. Cost of bark, $6.

Tuttle & Holcomb, Carthage, tan 2,000 hides and 10,000 skins, finishing in the rough and selling in Boston and home markets. Capacity 2,000 hides, 15,000 skins. Cost of bark $5.

V. & J. Cooper, Theresa, tan 1,000 hides and 8,000 skins, finishing in the rough and selling in Boston and home markets. Capacity 1,000 hides and 10,000 skins. Cost of bark $5.

H. E. Farnharn, Philadelphia, tans by the pound for other parties. Capacity 5,000 skins. Cqst of bark $5.

Hiram Herring, Rodman, tans 500 hides and 10,000 skins, finishing in the rough and selling in Boston. Capacity 500 hides, 15,000 skins. Cost of bark $5.

Gates & Gillett's tannery, Watertown has a capacity for tanning 1,200 hides and 10,000 skins annually. Cost of bark $6.50.


C. C. Vebber, Felts Mills, Thos. E. Proctor, Natural Bridge; E. Brannan and Hoyt and Dickerman, Carthage have sole leather tanneries, using foreign hides, and sales are made in New York and Boston. Cost of bark $5.

In conclusion it may be said that Watertown being a central point in the localities described offers excellent inducements as a place for the successful carrying on of the industry mentioned. The reciprocity treaty with Canada places tanners stock, hides and skins on the free list, thereby affording the tanner a convenient and well supplied market for purchasing his necessary stock.

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