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New Hartford Canning Factory


New Hartford Canning (located where Mohawk Container was) started circa 1900 and was owned by Sanford Sherman, brother of Vice President Sherman who would drop in at the factory often.

The company manufactured all its own cans. The tin came in large sheets and was cut in strips. Some of them were punch pressed into tops and bottoms and others were used for  the sides. These parts were assembled next, soldered and tested for leaks. Labeling was done in a building next to the tin shop by regular year round help and housewives when needed.

Many housewives and kids, from New Hartford and Utica, worked there off and on. The pay was $.10 an hour for most, more for machine operators. There was no overtime. You worked until the run was put up at 2 or 3 in the morning, at times up to 15 hours a day. There were about 15 year round employees who did labeling, shipping, and made repairs in the off season.

The company made contracts with farmers to provide seed, peas or other crops, especially corn which was husked by hand for $.03 a bushel. You would have a card punched for each bushel and get your money when you got through. Students could get out of school to husk corn.

Farmers brought the peas on a hay rack which were weighed and unloaded onto a conveyor belt. The peas were then threshed out then taken to inspection tables where stones and other things were removed. There were six women at each table, local housewives, who had done it for years. The vines were conveyed to silos.     

The peas were then blanched and placed in a bin for mixing with the syrup. The cans were dropped down a chute by two boys and conveyed to the filler machine, then to the capping machine, about twenty at a time. They then went to the cookers, next on to the water vats for cooling, and finally to labeling. The cans were then stored or shipped.


The entire village of New Hartford looked forward to canning season because everyone was sure to earn some extra money.

The juice that leaked out at the bottom of the silos was about 90 proof alcohol. A dog would come, take a drink, and stagger before it got out to the road. Birds would take a drink and flutter to the ground when they tried to fly. Farmers would take home a load of vines for livestock fodder.

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