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Manufacturers Index - George N. Stearns & Co. | E. C. Stearns & Co.

George N. Stearns & Co. | E. C. Stearns & Co.
Syracuse, NY, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery

Last Modified: Jul 12 2018 5:47PM by Jeff_Joslin
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George N. Stearns was a wagon maker who invented and patented several items, including a boring and mortising machine and an auger. In about 1860 he left the wagon-building business and began manufacturing his inventions under his own name, George N. Stearns. In 1864 he incorporated as George N. Stearns & Co. His primary salesman was his son, Edward C. Stearns. By 1877 the father was having health problems, and his business was taken over by Edward and his sister, Avis. The company name was changed to E. C. Stearns & Co.. George Stearns died in 1883 (or perhaps in late '82).

Information Sources

  • From Transactions of the New-York State Agricultural Society for the Year 1850, writing of the 1849 Fair: "A Boring and Mortising Machine.—For mortising hubs, and round and inclined work, a first rate article. Geo. N. Stearns, Syracuse, Diploma."
  • A large article in an 1853 issue of Scientific American contains a pair of detailed engravings of Stearns' boring and mortising machine. A patent had been applied for, but was not granted until 1856.
  • From Transactions of the New York State Agricultural Society for the Year 1858 lists the results of their annual fair, including "Boring and mortising machine, spoke tenoning, axle indicator, G. N. Stearns, Syracuse—Diploma".
  • The Illinois Department of Agriculture, Transactions of the Illinois State Agricultural Society for 1865-66, lists the results of the September, 1866 state fair, including "Adjustable Hollow Augur: G. N. Stearns, Syracuse, N. Y.—Commended."
  • Apparently the book A Sourcebook of United States Patents for Bitstock Tools and the Machines That Made Them, by Jim Price, has information on George N. Stearns. Similarly, Thomas C. Lamond's book, Manufactured and Patented Spokeshaves & Similar Tools, also has information on George N. Stearns.
  • The book, Memorial History of Syracuse, N. Y., 1891, has this history:

    E. C. Stearns & Co.—The inception of this business had its origin in about the year 1860, when it was commenced by George N. Stearns, father of Edward C. Stearns and Mrs. Avis S. Van Wagenen, two of the present proprietors. Six years later a small factory was erected in Cedar street. Mr. Stearns had during this time devoted his energies chiefly to the manufacture of hollow augers. His business was a decided success from the beginning, and continued to expand and improved from time to time to keep pace with the ever increasing demands for his articles, which were accordingly increased in number as necessity required. He carried on the concern alone at this location till 1877, when owing to ill-health his son and daughter, Edward C. Stearns and Mrs. Avis S. Van Wagenen (then Mrs. Avis Mead), purchased the business under the firm name of E. C. Stearns & Co., by which it has ever since been known. Three years later they removed the offices and plant to the old John A. Nichols gun works, on the north site of James street near the corner of Lock, and about the same time established a branch office in Chicago. The rapid growth of the business, caused by the addition of saw vises, parlor sliding door hangers, band setters, spoke shaves, pointers, etc., to their list of manufactures, soon necessitated another removal to larger and more commodious quarters, and accordingly in 1882 the present extensive plant was erected at the foot of West Adams street, corner of Oneida, in the Sixth war. Since then new buildings have been added each year, until it is now one of the most extensive manufactories of hardware in the country, and is justly entitled to a leading rank in the manufacturing industries of Syracuse. The firm now gives employment to 350 men, and turns out among other specialties ten distinct styles of patent sliding door hangers, a number of different kinds of patented locks, window and door screens, screen frames, hinges, vises, spoke shaves and pointers, jack screws, lawn mowers, iron sinks, and stable fixtures, etc. Of many of these goods and of others they are said to be the largest manufacturers in the world, and prominent among these articles are their parlor sliding door hangers, barn door hangers, barn door locks, door and window screen frames, adjustable stove-pipe thimbles, adjustable screw and door frame clamps, hollow augers, spoke shaves and pointers, cast-iron stable hay racks and feed boxes, saw vises, bench drills, lawn mowers, mallets, chisel handles, jack screws, etc. The plant now utilized in the manufacture of their various hardware specialties consists of the main building 252 x 60 feet and four stories high, the foundry and woodworking department 250 x 200, two-story japanning building 43x25, pattern building 40x20, screen frame factory 104x60, and storehouse 31x72 and others aggregating 166x35. The buildings are all of brick, well lighted, and conveniently arranged for manufacturing purposes. They are fitted up with costly machinery, much of which has been designed and built by the firm for their special use, and all tools and appliances used in the manufacture of their various articles are the very best. The firm consists of Edward C. Stearns, Mrs. Avis S. Van Wagenen, and Herbert E. Maslin.

  • From the same books as above:

    EDWARD CARL STEARNS was born in the city of Syracuse, Onondaga county, N. Y., July 12, 1856. He is the youngest of the seven children born to Delilah Taylor and the late George N. Stearns

    Eben Stearns, the great-grand-father of E. C. Stearns, came to this country from England about the year 1780, and settled near Wilkesbarre, Pa., but when the historical massacre of Wyoming occurred, he removed with his family to the town of Lanesboro, Mass. His family consisted of his wife, three sons and one daughter—Samuel, Rachel, Cyrus, and Eben. Samuel, the eldest, married Elizabeth Smith, and came to New York State in the year 1824 and settled in the town of Pompey. Their children were six, as follows: Rachel, Mary, Anna, George N., Hiram, and Avis.

    George N. Stearns, the elder of the sons of Eben, and the father of the subject of this sketch, received a common school education, and at an early age from choice learned the wagon-making trade, which he followed until about the year 1859. At that time his several inventions began to attract considerable attention, demanding his time and energies to develop their manufacture. About the year 1860 he established himself in a small but complete works for the production of his patented devices, and from the readiness with which the trade accepted these tools, he realized that he had made a move in the right direction toward success. He remained in the same location six years, gradually extending the business, and at the end of that period erected a small but convenient factory on Cedar street. From there he was soon able to send his own traveling men on the road, instead of allowing a few large jobbers to monopolize the sale of his goods. During those six years, the subject of these sketch was the principal salesman of these wares. Visiting, as he did, continually, the principal cities of the Union, and coming in contact with the ablest buyers of the wholesale hardware trade, he acquired an experience in those early years that has since proven invaluable to him. The business was thus well established and profitable; but by the year 1877 the elder Mr. Stearns showed symptoms of failing health, and a new co-partnership was formed, which still exists, under the name of E. C. Stearns & Co. From this time forward his career as a business man has been marked by uninterrupted success. By his energy, active habits, and strict adherence to principles of integrity, he has surmounted obstacles and achieved success of which few men of his years can boast.

    About the year 1880, the firm removed their machinery to the shops formerly occupied by the gun works of John A. Nichols, on the north side of James street, near the corner of Lock street. About this time they established an office in Chicago, and shipments have since been made from that point. In less than year years thereafter, it became again apparent that more extensive quarters were imperatively necessary to meet the demands of the business. In February, 1882, they broke ground on the corner of Adams and Oneida streets, and by the following November their present large and substantial buildings were finished and occupied. In the following February (1883) was their foundry, machine shop and wood shop in full operation. The firm now possessed what they had so long desired—the facilities for producing their goods in the best, cheapest and most workmanlike manner, and from that time forward the progress has been rapid. Their shops are equipped with the most approved machinery, and in most instances labor saving machinery of their own design and invention is doing work in the most economical and perfect manner. Recently more territory has been acquired, and large storehouse erected thereon, and foundry has been enlarged to nearly double its former capacity, and the firm have in their employ about 300 men. Their goods have a national reputation and have a foreign trade that is most encouraging

    In the upbuilding of this immense business in all its details, Mr. Stearns has been at the front, and in its present condition, when compared to what it was only a few years ago, is very flattering to his business and executive ability. In recent years he has given some of his time and means to the improvement of real estate, and has erected about twenty houses for sale. His view of any business undertaking, no matter upon how large a scale, are broad and his judgment accurate.

    Mr. Stearns is a republican in politics and has shown much earnest interest in municipal affairs.

    Mr. Stearns was married, in 1881, to Miss Louis Albro, daughter of John Albro, of Syracuse.

  • Carriage and Wagon Makers Machinery and Tools by Kenneth L. Cope, 2004 page 171