As the 19th century came to an end, the Village of Middleburgh, tucked in the heart of the Schoharie Valley, was a typical picturesque American small town.
The village was largely residential with small industries, businesses and professions supported by the expansive surrounding rural area. The well-kept lawns, homes and buildings expressed a special community pride.
In 1900, the first street lights were installed, the amazing invention of the telephone was coming along, and twentieth century progress was well on its way to the village. The old dirt roads were widened and paved a couple of decades later.
South Side of Main Street (circa 1914)
Many small industries could be found around the Town of Middleburgh. Along the creeks were many gristmills, sawmills and tanneries. Other industries of early Middleburgh included a lime kiln, stone yards and small foundries. The foundries produced many of the tools needed by the local farmers including plows, hop-drying equipment, stove grates, water troughs, kettles, iron spiders and trivets.
Small factories produced a wide variety of goods. J.M. Scribner manufactured wrapping paper, Thomas Foster produced gloves, Charles Griffin made fruit baskets and two cigar factories used locally-grown tobacco to manufacture cigars.
Sullivan's Hardware Store sold traditional hardware, of course, but also featured butter and cream pails, milk cans, a wide variety of brooms, and even automobiles. The Sullivans had one of the first auto showrooms in the area with three autos on display in the store.
The farm economy depended on broom corn as a cash crop. The farm families found employment during the growing season, raising the broom corn, and during the winter, making and marketing the brooms. Many farmers also raised hops for breweries in nearby Albany, as well as apples, plums and cherries that were also sold as cash crops.
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