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Utica, New York

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oo1900_CH_ChildsThe Childs Hay Trolley is the culmination of the partnership between two men. Charles H. Childs and Henry H. Durr. Durr was the inventor and patent holder, Childs was the manufacturer.

Justus Childs was born in Woodstock, Connecticut on September 21, 1809 to Dolphus and Chloe Jackson Child, and came to Paris, Oneida County, New York in 1831. He resided east of Cassville on the stone road, and was an extensive farmer — his farm being one of the “model farms” in town. He was a direct sixth generation ancestor of Benjamin Child, who came to America from England about 1630 and died in Roxbury, Mass., in 1678.

oo1869_JM_Childs1A valuable family genealogy, published in 1881 by Reverend Elias Child, of Utica, New York gives the unbroken lineage of his descendants, many of whom were prominent in civil, commercial and military life. He married Betsey Budlong, the daughter of Joseph Budlong, Esq., of Bridgewater, N.Y., on Sept. 21, 1834 and to the blessed union were born 6 children: Sarah Louisa Childs. (b. Nov. 18, 1835 – d. Oct. 20, 1870); Joseph Morris Childs (b. Apr. 17, 1840); Wallace Budlong Childs (b. July 8, 1842-d. 1870); Orlando Justus Childs (b. July 25, 1844); Kate Elizabeth Childs (b. July 10, 1848); and Charles Henry Childs (b. Dec. 26, 1854).In 1843 Justus served a single term in the State Assembly and in 1857 was elected Supervisor of the Town of Paris for a single term. During the interim he established himself in the manufacture of agricultural implements in the city of Utica, Oneida Co., N. Y. The business grew on his hands to large proportions, taxing his energies to an extent which seriously impaired his health. In the prime of manhood and amid business activities, he fell into a decline which terminated his useful life on May 24, 1868, at the age of 59. Joseph Morris and Orlando Justus Childs, were the immediate successors of their father in the firm’s Fayette St. factory, taking over management of the firm when their father fell ill soon after the start of the Civil War. Wallace Budlong Childs decided against it, electing to attend Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y. where he pursued a law degree, graduating in 1864. Unfortunately his career was short-lived as he passed away in 1870, just two years after his father. Charles H. Childs, the youngest of the four Childs brothers, joined the firm after the death of his father and for the next decade the three brothers carried on a successful business in both the wholesale distribution and manufacture of numerous agricultural products.

On Dec. 10, 1874 Orlando J. Childs married Ella A. Jones, daughter of Jonathan Jones, a well-known distributor of dairy equipment located in Utica, N.Y. Soon afterward he sold his interest in the family firm to his brothers, entering into a partnership with his brother-in-law, Frank Jones, under the name of Childs & Jones, successor to Jonathan Jones & Co., embarking on a successful career as dealers in dairy apparatus and general hardware at 84 Genesee St., Utica, New York. The withdrawal of Orlando from the family firm caused a reorganization of J.M. Childs & Co. with J. Morris Childs the senior, and Charles H. Childs, the junior partner Charles H. Childs, the youngest of the four Childs brothers was a forward-thinking citizen, and became an initial investor in the People’s Railroad, a Syracuse, New York street railway chartered April 22, 1887 that became operational on July 1, 1889. The total length of lines was 10.88 miles (17.51 km) with branches each 1 mile (1.6 km). On November 1, 1890, the company took a perpetual lease of the Central City Railway and the Syracuse and Onondaga Railway and those lines were merged into the People’s Railroad Co.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 11.31.24 AMBy 1893, Peoples had rolling stock consisting of 31 box cars, 38 open cars and 204 horse cars. Its directors included; Anson N. Palmer, F. W. Barker, W. R. Kimball, W. P. Gannon, all of Syracuse, New York and Thomas Hunter, Charles H. Childs, F. J. Callanen, A. T. Goodwin, J. R. Swan, all of Utica. Officers of the company were president, Anson N. Palmer; secretary, Henry H. Durr of Utica; treasurer, F. W. Barker; superintendent, John H. Moffitt, both of Syracuse where the company general office was also located.

In 1896, the company merged into Syracuse Rapid Transit Railway. In September 1890 Charles H. Childs organized the National Harrow Company of New York, one of the numerous manufacturing trusts that were being organized at the time in order to cut costs, fix prices and minimize competition. Joining him in the so-called ‘spring-tooth harrow trust’ were the following: D. C. & H. C. Reed & Company, of Kalamazoo, Mich.; G. B. Olin & Company, Perry and Canandaigua, N. Y.; Chase, Taylor, & Company, Lawrence & Chapin, both of Kalamazoo, Mich.; A. W. Stevens & Son, of Auburn, N. Y., and Child’s own firm, J.M Childs & Co. Patents owned by the six firms were transferred to National Harrow and for the next few years the trust effectively controlled the manufacture and distribution of harrows across the country, making its members quite wealthy.

The scheme came to an abrupt end at the turn of the century after President William McKinley put together the U.S. Industrial Commission, an agency given the task of identifying and breaking up the monopolistic trusts that now controlled most of country’s manufacturing. The report of the Commission was seized upon by Theodore Roosevelt, who based much of his early presidency on “trust-busting”. The creation of National Harrow coincided with the retirement of Joseph Morris Childs and the reorganization of J.M. Childs & Co. as Chas. H. Childs & Co.

One of the new firm’s popular products was the bellows duster or “bee smoker” which were marketed under the ‘Electric’ brand. Constructed of wood, leather and brass, a surviving example measures 27 1/2 long by 6′ wide. In addition to agricultural implements, the new firm also distributed wagons and buggies, many of which were built in the firm’s Fayette St. factory. The firm issued a 51 page catalog in 1895 entitled “Carriages, wagons perfectly designed, elegantly finished – Chas. H. Childs & Co., Utica N.Y.”

Childs also manufactured Savoy-brand safety bicycles (1896) and is listed as the distributor of Irving-brand bicycles 1896. The firm progressed from the manufacture of carriages to automobile bodies just after the turn of the century. Childs is known to have supplied the simple all-wood coachwork for the Utica, New York-built Buckmobile roadsters and runabouts of 1903-1905. Although the firm’s experience in producing automobile coachwork for the Remington had been short-lived, Charles H. Childs & Co. discovered that the retail sale of automobiles was the next big thing. The March 15, 1906 issue of the Automobile announced the firm’s entry into the garage business as it was called at that time. Childs was later listed as distributors of the Oldsmobile and Jackson (Jackson, Mich.) automobile.

US537143-0However the firm’s short career in auto sales came to an abrupt end in 1910 when the City of Utica decided to erect a new modern hotel. The city needed a first-class, fireproof hotel and needed one ASAP. The Utica Saturday Globe wrote that commercial travelers and tourists were planning their trips so as to avoid spending the night in Utica because of poor accommodations. A group of Utica business leaders – led by brewery owner F.X. Matt – decided to build a 10-story, 350-room hotel in downtown Utica next to the recently constructed (1899) Majestic Theatre. The site selected was on the northwest corner of Lafayette and Seneca streets, the location of the factory where Charles H., J. Morris and their father Justus Childs had produced farm tools, wagons, carriages, bicycles and automotive coachwork for the past 60 year. The Renaissance Revival-style structure featured fireproof construction with 200 rooms, four dining rooms, a ballroom, an assembly hall, a restaurant for ladies and a grill and cafe for gentlemen. It is due to celebrate its first century in business in the upcoming months and following a recent renovation continues to provide visitors to Utica and the Mohawk Valley first class lodging and dining opportunities. Charles H. Childs retired soon after the sale of the factory.

Source: 2004 Mark Theobald –

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