October 26 – Happy Birthday Tom Leavenworth

In the spring of 1890, a young man named John E. Larrabee opened a hardware store at 5 Market Street and christened it with the not too creative name of John E. Larrabee Company. The store sold hardware, cutlery, guns, fishing tackle, haying tools and mowing machines. Just before he started the business, Larrabee had married an Amsterdam woman by the name of Louise Leavenworth. He also hired Louise’s brother, E.W. Leavenworth to help him run his new store.

The business did well from the start and Larrabee added new products and expanded the store in size by taking over the adjacent storefront at 5 Market Street. John Larrabee died in 1911 and was succeeded as President of the business by first his wife, than his daughter Katherine and then his wife’s sister, Mrs. Edmond Horgan. E.W. Leavenworth worked for all of these ladies and managed the actual operation of the store. In 1931, he added his son Thomas W. Leavenworth to the store’s staff. When E.W. died in 1940, Tom became the manager of the store and treasurer of the company. When Mrs. Horgan died in 1958, Tom became President of the John E. Larrabee Company.

By then the store had again expanded into leased space at 7 and 9 Market Street and greatly expanded its wholesale hardware business. A staff of salesmen called on over 300 accounts, selling production tools and equipment to industrial plants throughout New York State.

A lifelong resident of Amsterdam, Tom graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1926 and then attended prep school in Lake Placid, NY before graduating from Hamilton College. He loved the outdoors and was a crackerjack skeet shooter, winning many trophies in that sport.

Tom married Charlotte Lindsay in 1933. Her family owned Amsterdam’s Inman Manufacturing Company on Guy Park Avenue. The company made cardboard packaging inserts and sleeves on intricate machines that had been designed and built by the founder of the business, Horace J. Inman. Inman’s made a lot of money during the Vietnam War manufacturing the sleeves used by defense contractors for boxes of ammunition. Tom’s brother-in-law Wallace Lindsay had taken over operation of the company. In 1971, he asked Leavenworth to become his partner in the business and Tom sold his share in Larrabee’s and joined him…

You can read the rest of my story about this former Amsterdam businessman in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.


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