Military – Hosierial Complex

Seneca Falls, NY 1-1-2011

Seneca Knit still stands - albeit sockless

I’m not sure what trouble the intoxicated man was referring to when he assaulted John P. Hale, but there is evidence that he could, at least in part, have been to referring to unemployment caused by the secession crisis and the war. Nevertheless, that same war was boon to some industries.

From a Seneca Falls, New York newspaper August 17, 1861:

A Good Business.

In the almost universal prostration of all manufacturing pursuits, which particularly is affecting our village, we are glad to notice that one branch of industry at least is not touched by the general paralysis, but flourishes with a vigor and prosperity much beyond that which witnessed it when the country was in a condition of peace. We allude to the manufacture of Stockings as carried on by the Seneca Falls Knitting Mills Company. The large State and Government contracts which have been awarded them, together with an increased demand by the trade, have enabled the managers of this establishment not only to carry on a successful business, but so urgent are the demands for their manufactured articles as to make necessary the employment of a double sett [sic] of hands to meet the obligations of their contracts. The advantages which our laboring population will derive from this establishment during the coming winter are beyond calculation. That it will be a means of support to a large number of our inhabitants and that it will keep want from the door of many a household, no one can doubt. It is now giving employment to between eight and nine hundred men and women, a large number recent employees, mostly all of whom were thrown out of employment by the recent suspension of opperations [sic] in other establishments. The government contract of two hundred thousand pairs of army half-hose, will undoubtedly be followed by other contracts from the same source, while the orders from private parties are of themselves of sufficient magnitude to warrant the belief that they alone would be sufficient to keep the Mills in operation during the coming winter. Connected with the Knitting Mills and enjoying the same prosperity is the Co’s establishment for the manufacture of the machines used in the factory. They are of the celebrated Goff patent, and their construction is looked to by Mr. A.J. GOFFE the inventor, who is also Superintendent of the Mills. They command a ready sale and are undoubtedly best Machine for the purpose yet invented.

John E. Cummins - Ohio Infantryman

Wearing a pair of Seneca Knit socks? Colonel John E. Cummins (LOC - LC-DIG-ppmsca-37549)

We are glad that this important branch of our manufactures has survived the catastrophy [sic] which has silenced the hum of industry in most of the large workshops of our village. We are glad of it also, because of those who otherwise might suffer for those necessities which its employment enables them to obtain.

There were a couple other related clippings from 1861 in the Seneca Falls library. One mentioned that a local company was doing well at least in part to a contract to supply blankets to the U.S. Navy. Another article had even more people working at the Mills, even employing folks from neighboring communities.

The mill manufactured socks until it shut down about ten tears ago.


Nary a single pair of military half-hose to be found*

*Doug Kerr’s photo is licensed by Creative Commons.

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