COMMUNITIES IN THE TOWN OF ALEXANDRIA
REDWOOD: DEPAU BACKED REDWOOD GLASS FACTORY
By Ernest G. Cook; from the Thousand Islands Sun, courtesy of Jeanne Snow, editor.
When John S. Foster found the wealth of splendid materials that Nature had provided for the making of glass right near the banks of Butterfield Lake, and water power to his liking, he was satisfied that the locality was the ideal place to locate a glass factory for the making of a better grade of glass.
But where was the money coming from to secure the site, build a factory and provide funds to operate the plant? He wisely concluded hat the best thing to do was to pay a visit to Francis Depau, and lay the matter before him. He would tell Mr. Depau the wealth to be had from the place, if properly handled. Right away Mr. Depau was interested. If all this was true it would mean more wealth to him. He sized Foster up as a practical business man, who could be trusted and who had the ability to make fine glass.
It ended in Mr. Depau proposing that Foster go ahead and get matters in shape and he, Depau, would back him financially, to a certain extent. Foster was to purchase 10,000 acres of land of Depau, and Depau was to furnish several thousand dollars with which to start the work of getting the factory built and in operation.
With all this accomplished, Foster hurried east to find capable help to come and build the factory and make glass when the factory was completed. That summer the building of the factory was started and pushed along with all possible speed. A boarding house was built, for men must have a place to live. A store was constructed, to be owned and operated by the new Company, of which Foster was the head.
People hearing of what was being done in the new community, began to rush into the new settlement with the idea of getting work and being on the ground floor for better things. More people called for new homes, and many of them and rhe community was in a real boom.
Thomas Clark, the surveyor, was called in to lay out a village, and he followed some previous plans and christened the place "Jamesville." So Jamesville seemed to be the name of the fast growing settlement until Foster heard of what was being done, when he stopped all such proceedings and said the name must be "Redwood."
Foster knew that the place he came from, Redford, had a reputation for making fine glass. By using the name of Redwood, the trade would be somewhat confused and probably throw their buying to Redwood, and after the new product was established on the market, it would be good enough so that the quick sales of the product would be assured. So the new community was named Redwood, by common consent of all, and the strong demands of Foster, who as president of the new company, and owner of 10,000 acres of land, certainly ought to have some say in the matter.
The new factory was completed in September of the year 1833. On the last day of September the first glass was made and with great success. The future of the plant and of Redwood seemed to be assured. People were flocking to Redwood in ever greater numbers. Mr. Depau was delighted with the prospects for the future. It looked as if Redwood would be the city of the future for all the section.
But with all this promise in the air for great things, the black cloud of death came suddenly upon the place within the short period of three months. For on Jan. 2, 1834, only three months after the factory started, John S. Foster died. With the death of the head and brains of the new concern, what would be the future? Must all stop, or could the plant struggle on?
With the sudden death of John S. Foster, practical glass manufacturer, at Redwood on January 2, 1834, the operation of the new plant came to a sudden stop. The outlook was dark. The new factory had only been in operation since September 30, of the previous year, three months of production. (It is stated that the first grave, or nearly so, at least, in the Redwood cemetery, was that of Mr. Foster.)
Francis Depau was greatly discouraged. As the money man of the new enterprise, he stood to lose a large sum of money. He had sold the project 10,000 acres of land and put up cash to the amount of several thousand dollars. According to the contract the factory and land would revert back to him, but a glass factory, no matter how well equipped, would bring no return unless it was in operation. Mr. Depau was anxious to find a man who could and would take over the plant and to that end instructed certain parties to make a search for an expert glass maker who could operate a plant like that in Redwood.
In time a report came that a man in northern New Jersey by the name of John B. Schmauss would be the ideal man for the post. It stated that this man was an expert in the glass business, but he did not care to move, especially into a community in a wilderness land. He was told that the best of every kind of material was at hand, that there was plenty of fuel at the spot, and that the wood would be secured at a very low cost. When it was told that the new maker would be placed at the head of the plant, having full charge and a percentage of the profits, Mr. Schmauss decided to accept the offer. But now a new problem presented itself. The family of Mr. Schmauss did not want to come. They said that in a new community they would miss the social advantages they would derive in an older settlement, and that the move would be a long and hard trip. But after some days of discussion, and knowing that the factory would be in Schmauss's name, they consented to move.
There was one difficulty in the moving and that was that the family possessed a very fine piano, one of the first and very few in the country. To move it would be a very expensive matter. But a canal boat was secured, their goods placed on board, and the family with their goods started northward. The canal boat would get them to the Hudson River. The trip up the Hudson River would not be a hardship, for the country presented many sights and the trip was easy and quite comfortable.
[This article of Mr. Cook's appears to end abruptly. If a continuation can be found, we will add it.]
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For other articles on the history of glass making in Redwood, visit
REDWOOD: REDWOOD GLASS TIME LINE
REDWOOD: THE HISTORY OF REDWOOD GLASS
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