Historical glass factories of Peterboro

Smithfield Town Historian Donna Dorrance Burdick will present a program on the history of glass works from 1800 to 1830 at 2 p.m. Sunday Aug. 2 at the Gerrit Smith Estate in Peterboro, within the town of Smithfield.

Burdick's presented history will include the Goff Glass House on Bump Road which was built in 1795 and ceased operation in 1813. The Smith Glass House or Smith & Solden Glass Factory began operations in 1810. Peter Smith's eldest son Peter Skenandoah Smith was one of the owners of the works, which employed 100 hands at the larger site that had 12 pots or furnaces.

The early industry brought skilled glass blowers from as far away as Germany to a hamlet not yet established. The Goff, Hoffman and Turk families were among those who came to the area to work at the glass houses. The father of William Evans, the generous benefactor after whom the Smithfield Community Center-Evans Academy is named, came to Peterboro as a stoker for one of the glass factories.

The glass made in Peterboro was primarily for window glass, but whiskey jugs, bottles, jars, demijohns, bowls and canes were also made. Several houses in Peterboro still have window glass panes manufactured in the glass factories. The Madison County Historical Society has Peterboro glass items in its collection. Cullet, chunks of glass, have been collected from the glass factories sites and are for sale in jewelry at the Peterboro Mercantile for the benefit of the Gerrit Smith Estate.

The description of the glass houses includes an explanation of the location of the factories. Tisha Lock, Chair of the Gerrit Smith Estate Glass Squad that is hosting the program, will explain the process of making glass. Lock has also arranged an 11 a.m. glass demonstration and exhibit by Pat Ryan of Catch the Sun Stained Glass in Peterboro. The Peterboro United Methodist Church will provide light fare.

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