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Manufacturers Index - Birdsall Engine Co.

Birdsall Engine Co.
Penn Yan, NY; Auburn, NY; Newark, NY., U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Jan 22 2016 1:52PM by joelr4
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Founded 1860 in Penn Yan; the company started as H. Birdsall, Son & Co., then became E. M. Birdsall & Co. sometime after 1870. The father was Hiram Birdsall, and the son was Edgar M. Birdsall. They were originally makers of agricultural equipment, but at some time, perhaps about 1880, they started making circular sawmills. In 1881 he moved the company to Auburn, NY, purchasing the old Cayuga Chief Co. works and changing the name to the Birdsall Co.

      Edgar M. Birdsall, of Buffalo, NY was born in the town of Ledyard, Cayuga county, N. Y., June 27, 1837, and in 1844 removed with his parents to the village of Genoa, in the same county, where his father engaged in the foundry and machine business with Abram W. Stevens as an associate, continuing the co-partnership until 1860. During that period young Birdsall received his education and also practical experience as a mechanical engineer in the firm's establishment. After dissolving the co-partnership with Mr. Stevens, Mr. Birdsall, Sr., removed the business to Penn Van, Yates county, N. Y., where Edgar M. was his associate and partner for a few years, when he sold his interest, and the business was continued by the son and others under the firm name of E. M. Birdsall & Co., until 1881; it was then removed to Auburn, N. Y., and incorporated as the Birdsall Company. Mr. Birdsall was president of this corporation until 1887, when he voluntarily withdrew and severed all relations with the concern. In 1888 he removed to Buffalo, where he has since resided, being engaged in business as a mechanical engineer and manufacturers' agent. By 1890, Birdsall was in the real estate & insurance business in partnership with H. J. Brownell. February 13, 1862, he married Mary, daughter of Alexander Bothwell, of Genoa, N. Y.

After Edgar Birdsall left the company in 1887, the name was changed to the New Birdsall Co. About 1904, the company reorganized as the Birdsall Engine Co.

Information Sources

  • Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines, by Jack Norbeck, 1975 page 3
  • Our County and its people A descriptive work on Erie County, New York, The Boston History Company, Publishers 1898
  • Steam Power on the American Farm by Reynold M. Wik, 1953 page 254
  • The Steam Tractor Encyclopedia by John F. Spalding & Robert T. Rhode, 2011 pages 106-115
  • The 11 August 1866 issue of Scientific American has a brief writeup, with engraving, on the E. M. Birdsall friction pulley. A patent was pending, but so far we have not found any patent.
  • The 1870 work Boyd's business directory of over one hundred cities and villages in New York state lists E. M. Birdsall as a resident of Penn Yan and an employee of H. Birdsall, Son & Co.. That firm's principals were E. M. Birdsall, C. Strobridge, and O. H. Stark.
  • Listed in C. H. Wendel's "The Circular Sawmill". Wendel says that this company "originated at Penn Yan, NY in 1860. In 1881 the company moved to Auburn, NY. Eventually, however, Birdsall ended up at Newark, Wayne County, NY." Wendel lists the company as, simply, "Birdsall Co." and "Birdsall Engine Co.", but patents show it as E. M. Birdsall & Co.
  • Wendel's book shows a big iron frame sawmill, plus a much smaller machine - the size of a big tablesaw - for making crate slats.