Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - A Tom Thumb Wedding

Grayson Cosby in Tom Thumb Wedding,
ca. July 1896
A Tom Thumb wedding pageant, like this one which was held in Richmond, Virginia, is where all of the major wedding roles are played by small children, usually under ten years of age.  In these mock Lilliputian weddings, children would be assigned to portray the bride, groom, attendants, and sometimes the minister.  Smaller children would sometimes play the flower girls and ring bearers.  There would usually be many photographs of the event such as this one where my grandfather, Grayson Cosby, happens to portray the groom.

The term "Tom Thumb wedding" comes from an actual wedding, the marriage of the famous little person General Tom Thumb (born Charles Stratton) to Lavinia Warren, another little person, in 1863. The wedding attracted considerable publicity and was a major event of the time. Tom Thumb was a celebrity promoted by the circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum, who gave him a stage name inspired by the folk hero Tom Thumb and managed his career starting at an early age.

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Military Monday - Herschel Lander with the 4th Corps Balloon Group

Corp. Herschel S. Lander, World War I
My husband's great uncle, Herschel S. Lander
(23 Jun 1890-28 May 1940), son of Warren and Annah Lander, was in France during World War I with the American Expeditionary Force, 4th Corps Balloon Group.

On back of World War I Postcard Photo reads the following:

Mr. W. J. Lander & Family
A Merry Xmas
A Happy New Year
Corp. Herschel S. Lander
Headquarters Co. Balloon Group
4th Army Corps
Am. E.F.

World War I Balloon units of the U.S. Army:
  • 1st Corps Balloon Group consisted of the 1st, 2nd, and 5th Balloon Companies.
  • 3rd Corps Balloon Group consisted of the 3rd, 4th, 9th, and 42nd Balloon Companies.
  • 5th Corps Balloon Group consisted of the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 12th Balloon Companies.
  • First U.S. Army Balloons consisted of the 1st Corps Balloon Group which consisted of the 11th and 43rd Balloon Companies.
  • 4th Corps Balloon Group consisted of the 15th, 16th, and 69th Balloon Companies.
  • 6th Corps Balloon Group consisted of the 10th Balloon Company.
Air Service World War I posters fromWikipedia
For more information, go to

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Those Places Thursday – The Shoe of Beverly, MA

As one of the largest factories in the world, United Shoe Machine Corporation, also known as “The Shoe,” was the livelihood of thousands of workers and their families.  For more than 70 years, it dominated the economic life of Beverly and its surrounding communities.  Whole neighborhoods were developed to house the workers, and the residents thrived on an industry of manufacturing the machinery which made shoes.  One of those workers, a machinist, was my paternal great grandfather, Frank Albert Andersen.

Founded in 1899 by a merger of Goodyear Machinery Company, Consolidated Hand Lasting Machine Company, and McKay Shoe Machinery Company, United Shoe Machinery Company, as it was then known, revolutionized shoe equipment manufacturing and the shoe industry itself.  Its establishment of an international division made it one of the first three international companies ever formed, and it became a worldwide powerhouse as affiliated companies were set up in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, South America, and Asia by 1905.  The new company became United Shoe Machinery Corporation on 1 May 1905.

Construction of the factory and headquarters in Beverly, Massachusetts (181 Elliott Street, now known as the CummingsCenter) began in 1902.  The massive complex, housed a business that created shoe manufacturing equipment and was, at the time, considered a state-of-the-art facility.  Designed by engineer Ernest L. Ransome, "The Shoe" was the largest reinforced concrete structure in the world until 1937.  The building has been ranked among architectural historians as one of the most significant industrial landmarks in the country.

United Shoe Machinery Co., Beverly, Mass.

Defined by its overall understated design, the building’s exterior walls were painstakingly hammered by hand for a decorative texture effect.  The plant’s utilitarian beauty also inspired modernist pioneer/architect Walter Gropius.  The Ransome technique lead to the modern-day skyscraper, changing the face of the American landscape.

By 1906, the Beverly factory was operational.  And then in 1911, a major factory expansion began, which was the same year USM's long complex history with anti-trust legislation began.  This stemmed certainly from the extraordinary monopoly USM gained in the shoe machine industry, but also from the Company's practice of leasing equipment and selling customers only the equipment's proprietary parts.

Although the story of USM is certainly the story of a monopoly, the monopoly's long and fruitful life became a way of life for literally thousands of Beverly area families, many with multi-generational ties to this hugely successful property.  Between 1900 and 1910, immigrants quickly swelled Beverly's population from 13,888 to 18,650, or roughly half of its 1998 population.

Following the guideline that a happy worker is a productive worker, the USM revolutionized American industry in the early 1900s by offering new-fangled benefits, such as adequate lighting, central heating, and healthcare.  In line with the company’s beliefs, the team designed “The Shoe” — as it is affectionately called — where employee health and comfort were paramount.  Originally, open courtyards surrounding the structures allowed cool air to circulate throughout the buildings during the summer months.  In the winter, steam-heated air was pumped through hollow columns into the workrooms.  More than 2,000 5-foot by 10-foot windows flooded the factory’s pre-electricity interiors with natural light.

The Beverly plant boasted such modern inventions as the first time-clocks produced by IBM, the hot glue gun, the pop top for the soda can, the drive mechanism for the lunar module, as well as pop rivets used in the Supersonic Concorde.

Between 1899 and 1960, USM developed and marketed nearly 800 new and improved shoe machines and patented more than 9,000 inventions in widely disparate areas.  During 1910 the factory staff grew from 3,000 to 4,500, and the workweek was cut from 55 to 50 hours as the company reportedly paid its workers the highest average wages in the country.  

Although Beverly had a long history of industrial interests, including the first cotton mill in America, USM's influence dwarfed all other commercial activity in the area.  By 1911, according to the old Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics, Beverly residents as a whole had higher annual earnings than the residents of any other city in the state.  The company was a model of employer benevolence for decades before it eventually unionized.

In addition to having its own stop on the north/south rail line between Boston and Lowell, USM actually had Boston & Maine Railroad passenger trains that pulled right into the Elliott Street yard every morning and evening.  

The company established its own state chartered industrial school in 1909, where generations of future workers and managers were trained.  The newly formed Beverly Industrial School was "the first successful school for mechanics in the United States," according to NEW ENGLAND Magazine in 1911.  Two groups, each consisting of 35 young men, alternated between the factory and Beverly High School, and before that, the adjacent McKay School, spending one week at the factory and then one week at the high school.

USM took good care of its employees.  Very early on it established the USM Athletic Association as the umbrella organization through which it reached out to employees, and to some extent the city.  By the fall of 1910, the association had more than 1,100 members, which could have included up to 25 percent non-employee "outsiders."

In 1911, various divisions included the gun club, a new baseball division, a motor boating division, a soccer/football coterie, a band, a chorus, a vegetable growing group, a bowling league, and a cricket team, as well as tennis and golf.  

Indeed, employee athletic and recreational opportunities were of prime importance from USM's earliest days in Beverly.  Most were centered in the United Shoe Golf and Country Club (now the Beverly Golf and Tennis Club), where special attention seemed to be given to meeting the needs of both male and female workers.

The new clubhouse was turned over to the men, however, "a few hours before the bells of the New Year tolled in 1911," by USM Vice President George W. Brown. "Inside are a theater, an auditorium, a library, locker rooms, bowling alleys and cozy little rooms for the women who may congregate with their sewing or other pleasant diversions so dear to the feminine heart," NEW ENGLAND Magazine reported (emphasis added).

Among 3,000 workers in Beverly by 1911, the company referred to about 100 female office workers and another 70 or 80 girls in the factory, a company brochure proclaims.  They all "begin their work ten minutes later than the men and leave ten minutes earlier, so that a proper distance is maintained between the sexes as they enter and leave the factory," the brochure adds.

"While the United Shoe is one of the largest factories in the country," NEW ENGLAND Magazine noted in 1911, "the provisions made for the comfort, safety, health and contentment of its mass of employees, at times upwards of five thousand persons, men and women, are pronounced to be not excelled, and, perhaps, not equaled at any other factory in the world."  The factory, in the judgment of factory experts, ranked "foremost among the best type of twentieth century industrial establishments."

Since its purchase of the property in 1996, Cummings Properties has worked closely with Beverly Historical Society to preserve much of The Shoe's rich history.  In 1999, the mammoth Cummings Center was designated the "United Shoe Machinery Corporation Historic District" by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11 – Never Forget

Ten years ago today, the day started off normal.  I was still at home getting the kids ready for school and me ready for work.  My husband had already left with his car pool buddies and was in-route to his work.  My pace was a little faster than usual because I had to get to the office a little earlier than usual.  One of our customers was auditing our company so I had to be there early to get things ready.  The phone rang and it was my mother urging me to turn on the news.  I followed her plea and watched in disbelief as CNN showed a plane crash into the first tower of the New York World Trade Center.  

I listened as the reporters tried to explain what had just happened and what was happening.  "Apparently a plane has hit tower one and there is a massive hole about 15 stories down from the top.  There are papers flying all over the place and a tremendous amount of smoke streaming from the building."  Reporters asked, "What type of plane was it?"  "Was it a private plane or a commercial airline?"  "Is it possible that this was deliberate or was this just an accident?"

Still shaken, I took my kids to school and proceeded to work.  But, when I arrived at work I discovered that the events were still unfolding.  We tuned in to the large conference room TV and watched the pictures and videos that began to emerge.  Sirens, dust-covered crowds, horror, and mayhem; no one really understood what was going on and then...

The reporter said, "Wait, there’s another one!”  We just saw on live television as a second plane flew into the second tower of the World Trade Center!  Something is going on!  This was a jet!  It now became obvious that intentional attacks on our country were occurring.

Needless to say, productivity was down as we hung on to the horror of the events that unfolded before our eyes that day.  If I wasn’t participating in our company audit, I was glued to my computer screen, clicking update, replay, or refresh screen; with each minute I was fixated on what was happening.

 9/11 has been etched into my memory much the same way as the assassination John F. Kennedy, and the untimely death of my young brother-in-law.  Life has gone on, but these memories have become frozen in time.  I will never forget.  We will never forget. 

Have You Forgotten?

Have you forgotten... that on September 11th, 2001 the United States of America was attacked and over three thousand civilians were murdered?

How we vowed to never forget... the scores of brave men and women who lost their lives that morning in heroic efforts to save their fellow Americans?

How can we forget... our troops who are still on the front lines fighting a global war on terror to not only protect our freedoms, but the freedoms and human rights of others
around the world?

 And have we forgotten... that our enemy is devoted to a wicked belief system that still justifies the destruction of our culture and way of life?

On this day, Americans will pause once again to remember and to honor the fallen of that terrible day. We will offer our respects by uniting in remembrance of those whom we
vowed to never forget.

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day – Workers for C&O Railway

As stated at Labor Day Weekend, The History of Labor Day, Labor Day's true meaning is to honor the everyday working people.  The people whose sweat build and maintain the heart of United States.  

This article is dedicated to my great grandfather and my great-great grandfather, who both worked in the early days for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.
Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) Conductors Hat

Captain George B. Emmerson worked for the railroad for most of his adult life.  Employed in his earlier years as a laborer, by the time he was 28, he was holding the position of Conductor for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O).

Wearing his distinctive uniform and hat, Captain Emmerson had many responsibilities as a Conductor.  The job placed him for several hours each day in intimate contact with hundreds of people.  First and foremost, he had to be a good operating man, then a public relations specialist.  A few of his duties included punching tickets, selling passage to those who boarded the train without purchasing a ticket where there was no ticket agent, supervising the other trainmen, settling arguments, and admonishing misbehaving children or inebriated passengers. He had presided over the cars in the train with a fatherly dignity, answered passengers questions about many things, and performed a "public relations" function for the railroad company.

According to Rails West, as a Conductor, George was the railroad employee charged with the management of the freight or passenger train, and was also the direct supervisor of the train's "Train Crew".  He was required to carry an accurate watch, which was regularly inspected, and ensured that the train was running according to the timetable.  As the Conductor, George was responsible for signaling the engineer when to start moving and when and where to stop.

George’s son Frederick J. Emmerson followed his father in the railroad profession.  By 1901, the same year he marries Eva C. Miskell, Fred is working as a fireman on the C&O Railway.

This image from The Modern Railroad (1911), captures a railroad fireman shoveling coal into the firebox.
As a Fireman, Fred’s job was to feed the firebox with fuel while the engine was in use. During this time, the steam locomotives ran on coal, wood or oil.  Loading the fuel was typically hard work, where wood and coal were transferred or shoveled from the tender to the firebox by hand.  As a Fireman, Fred also monitored the water level in the boiler and kept the cylinders on the drive wheels oiled while the train was underway.

A Fireman learning the trade typically started as a Switch-engine Fireman, who worked in the yard.  Then, there were the more experienced Road Fireman, who traveled with the freight or passenger trains. On diesel locomotives, the firemen would monitor controls and assist the engineer.  Often Firemen served these duties as a form of apprenticeship, aspiring to be locomotive Engineers themselves.  The Fireman knew that if he did his job well, in about three years he would move up to Hostler, and then to Switch-engine Engineer before becoming a journeyman Engineer.

I’m not sure when the promotion occurred, but by 1917 at age 42, Fred was working as a locomotive Engineer for the C&O Railway.  According to Rails West, the locomotive Engineer was the most heroic and glamorous figure during the nineteenth century, for he was the one that was capable of making the steam locomotive come to life and pull the train on its journey.  If the locomotive needed to be repaired in a remote area, he was the one who fixed it.  

As an Engineer, Fred was the person in charge of the locomotives. He was responsible for preparing the equipment for service, checking paperwork and the condition of the locomotives.  He was also in charge of the mechanical operation of the train including controlling steam pressure, boiler water level, fire box temperature, acceleration, braking and handling of the train underway.  He needed to know the physical characteristics of the railroad, including passenger stations, the incline and decline of the right-of-way and speed limits.  As the train moved he watched for obstructions on the rails ahead.  Along with the conductor, Fred monitored the time so the train did not fall behind schedule or leave the stations early.  He made sure the train's speed was reduced when following other trains, approaching route diversions, or when regulating time over road to avoid arriving too early.

The Engineer and the Conductor, who was in charge of the train, compared watches to ensure they were both set to railroad standard time, reviewed any train orders received, and shared the responsibility for the safe operation of the train and application of the rules and procedures of the railway company.

I don’t know if George and Fred worked the same locomotive as Engineer and Conductor, but I’m sure they exchanged many stories at home of their shared labors and experiences as employees of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.

  ©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved