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Town of Friendship Related Articles

Morse & Rices' Barrel & Box Factory and Hardware Store

Transcribed from the Friendship Chronicle, April 21, 1880.


 The Barrel and Box Factory and Hardware Store Of Messrs. Morse and Rices’.

History is proverbially a repetition. This is particularly the case in commercial and industrial history. Trace back the chronicles of any flourishing mercantile or manufacturing business and the same story of steady growth, of earnest effort, of hard work, of integrity and perseverance and of small beginnings will be found in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of every thousand. Few businesses now being successfully prosecuted in this country or in any other are established on mushroom growth foundation. The mushroom is a fungus and the sills of a hastily erected commercial superstructure soon become the prey to dry rot and consequent decay and ruin.

Advertisement for Morse & Rices, 1880 

Truly as we have said, history repeats itself and on every hand in daily life we encounter living examples of the adage, the story of whose early struggles and steady uprising towards success is but a counterpart of the record of the great majority of mercantile maintenance.

The history of the well-known and esteemed Friendship firm of Morse & Rices is no exception to the rule, as we shall presently attempt to show. But first let us take a hasty glance at what the firm is now doing. Its business is divided into two branches, the mercantile and manufacturing. We will at the outset take the first name.

In 1853 Mr. Sidney P. Morse, who was then working with his tinsmith’s kit bought out the interest of his father and brother, J. P. and E. P. Morse, in the tin shop and stove store conducted in the building on Main St. now occupied as a harness shop by S. King & Co.. In 1855 Mr. Morse formed a partnership with William Pardee. The business was carried down by Morse and Pardee until 1857 when Mr. Morse went west. He returned in 1859 and in conjunction with Mr. Calvin Cross, recently deceased, Carried on the same business. In 1865 Theron Cross son of Calvin was admitted into partnership the firm being known as Cross & Morse. In the spring of 1870 Mr. Calvin Cross retired from the firm the title of which was reversed to Morse & Cross. In 1875 Messrs. Herman and Ward W. Rice became partners of Messrs. Morse and Cross and the firm was changed to Morse, Cross and Rices’. A few weeks since Mr. Theron Cross sold out his interest, and the firm is now officially known as Messrs. Morse and Rices’. Thus it will be seen that at regular intervals of about five years there have been changes in the firm’s name although the name of Morse has endured since the start. The hardware and tinsmithing business is carried on in that commodious and substantial brick building on Main Street erected in 1870. In addition to a large and well assorted star of shelf and heavy hardware, agricultural implements, parlor and cook stoves and all the usual addenda of a first class wholesale and retail hardware establishment. Messrs. Morse and Rices do a very extensive trade in cheese factory furnishing goods of all kinds such as vats, cans, presses, scales, bandage, heating apparatus, rennets, coloring and the olla podrida of the dairying business. Their customers in this line are to be found all over Cattaraugus, Allegany, McKean, and Potter counties, indeed there is scarcely a cheese factory within fifty miles in any direction but derives at least a portion of its supplies from this Friendship headquarters of the business.

Their iron and tinsmithing department is in charge of Mr. Samuel A. Hancock, a clever and conscientious artisan who has been in the employ of the firm since 1873. In this department all kinds of cans, vats, pails, eaves troughs, stove pipe fittings &c. are handled.

The cheese box and barrel manufacturing branch of the firm's business is carried on in shops which are situated on the Taylor lot at the east end of town on Water Street near the Creek. The business, we believe, was inaugurated by Mr. A. F. Taylor With whom Messrs. H. and W. W. Rice afterwards became associated. Finally Mr. Taylor's interest was purchased so that the factory became entirely under the control of the firm of Morse, Cross & Rices, now Morse & Rices.

 News Item, Town Topics, Friendship Chronicle, April 14 1880

We paid a visit to the factory a few days since and found ample evidence of activity in the making of cheese boxes, an industry for which the season, somewhat late this year, is just opening up. The factory is in charge of G. B. Stiles and William Barber. We will not attempt to describe in detail the process of manufacturing cheese boxes but would briefly state that the heads are sawed out in flat pieces or slabs from bolts 18 inches long of hemlock, cucumber and other timber of this section. The slabs are then fashioned into the necessary circular form on an ingenious machine. The body and rims off the boxes are made out of thin elm steamed so as to take the circular shape needed and held together by iron tacks made specially for the purpose of which nearly three fourths of a ton are used during the season. The elm is imported from Michigan. The boxes are made of various sizes varying from 14 to 16 inches in diameter and from 10 to 11 inches in height. When running up to its average capacity the factory turns out 400 boxes per day and about 90,000 in a season. The prospect at present is that the number will be increased this year.

The apple and flour barrel factory will not be in operation until later in the year but Messrs. Morse and Rices’ are prepared for a larger demand than they have ever yet been called upon to supply. These barrels are made in a very ingenious manner which we shall take a future opportunity to describe. The staves are of elm, the hoops ash and the heads of whitewood or cucumber. Hitherto the firm has purchased the staves, but this year machinery will be put in to manufacture them here. There are two shops in which these barrels, which are very neatly constructed, are made, each shop accommodating sixteen coopers. The entire establishment is furnished with steam power by an excellent engine from the well known shops of McEwen Bros.– –Wellsville.

During the off season Messrs. Morse & Rices’ saw quite a large quantity of shingles.

They have always on hand a large quantity of bowls, sawed material, hoops &c.&c. so that they can become duly seasoned before being used. This brief sketch of their business would hardly be complete without a hasty personal reference to the members of the present firm.

Mr. Sidney P Morse was born in 1832 in Haight, now New Hudson, in this county. His parents moved into Wyoming County in 1834. Mr. Morse remain there till he was 17 years of age when with $14 in his pocket and a young friend equally wealthy (!) he started for Wisconsin––then the far-far-west. At that time railroads were but few and exceedingly far between. The two young adventurers took a deck passage on the steamer “May-flower” sustaining their health and spirits on the voyage to Chicago with a diet of herrings and crackers. Chicago was scarcely better than a large village at that time. Young Morse terminated his western pilgrimage at Janesville where he found himself one unpleasant full morning after breakfast with a capital stock up forty cents and his last meal paid for. He didn't start a paper; but he did what is next most horrible in the catalog of moral offences– –he taught school for about two years; after which time he returned to Allegany County as before noticed. For nearly thirty years Mr. Morse has worked, and joked, his way through life, earning the unfeigned respect of his neighbors and fellowtownsmen and gaining by a steadfast attention to honest business principles a position of ease if not of affluence in this business community and a high place in the esteem of all who have the pleasure of knowing him. He has served faithfully such offices of limited dignity as the circumscribed importance of a country township could confer upon him, and for more than a dozen years In the capacity of Justice of the Peace has held the legal scales as evenly balanced as could reasonably be expected. Mr. Morse’s present partners, Messrs. Herman and W. W. Rice, are cousins and and both are natives of Herkheimer County. The former is about 42 years of age and “Ward” is three years his junior. Both came to Friendship about thirteen years ago, they having previously been located in Cuba for some years. They are thoroughly au fait in all manners pertaining to dairying interests and it is almost a proverb in this section that was the Rices don't know about cheese and butter is not worth acquiring. These two gentlemen are held in high esteem by a large circle of friends and acquaintances. Each has stored away in his mental granary a bountiful harvest of humorous anecdotes which are liberally meted out to all who believe with Charles Lamb that

“A laugh is worth a hundred groans in any market.”

In all respects Messrs. S. P. Morse, H Rice and W. W. Rce form a most congenial co-partnership. In addition to their hardware and box and barrel factory the firm owns important interests in the Genesee Valley cheese factory at Belvidere, the Little Genesee factory and the Excelsior factory at Whites’ Corners; three of the most important cheese making establishments in this section. Messrs. Rice also are interested in the Rice cheese factory near Cuba.

Friendship has just reason for feeling proud of this important and honorable firm and its continued prosperity is the unvarying wish of all admirers of sterling integrity, business acumen and commercial enterprise.

 

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