ALVA WARD BLANCHARD (1872-1956)
Alva Ward Blanchard was born on January 13, 1872, in Clarendon, Orleans County, New York. He was the youngest of four children of Alva Smith Blanchard and Amanda Jane Freer Blanchard. Over the course of his life he left an extensive trail of papers, diaries, ledgers, letters, newspaper ads, patent applications and the like, as well as a host of photographs, which contributed a great deal to this biography.
Blanchards had lived in Orleans County since Alva’s great-grandfather Nehemiah moved there from New Hampshire probably in 1810.
When Alva was only eight years old his family moved out to Anderson County, Kansas. He was known as “Ward” when he was a youngster. In fact, in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Rich Township, Kansas, his name is rendered as “Ward A. Blanchard.”
Ward’s father had hooked up with a Hereford cattle breeder named J. S. Hawes, and he evidently got involved in transporting cattle by train from New York (and maybe elsewhere in the East) to Kansas. Between 1880 and 1883 Ward’s father bought over 200 acres of property in Lone Elm, Kansas. But the father didn’t spend all his time in Kansas; he went back and forth between Kansas and New York and stayed for long periods of time in Clarendon.
The family apparently traveled back and forth to New York with Ward’s father and spent time with him in both places. Ward had an autograph book that covered the years 1882 to 1886, when he would have been 10 to 14 years old and going to school. Based on the dates of his classmates’ inscriptions in his book, the family was in Clarendon for most of 1884 and early 1885.
Here's the inscription Ward's father wrote in Ward's autograph book on December 2, 1883 while they were living in Lone Elm.
After eight years in Kansas, the family moved back to Orleans County in February 1888, this time settling in Albion.
Ward presumably completed high school in Albion. From January to November 1890 he attended Eastman National Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Here's a stamp portrait of Ward taken while he was at Eastman. He had borrowed $210.00 from A. L. Salisbury, a family friend in Holley (near Clarendon), to pay for this school. He paid weekly board of between $3.00 and $4.00 while studying there, and kept track of his various other expenses in a ledger book that he had started in January. According to his notations, it seems he was always borrowing money and sometimes paying it back. He borrowed small amounts of money from his father – he called him “Pa” in the ledger book – to use for unspecified things, but some of it went to pay Mr. Salisbury back. It took him over four years to pay all the money back to Mr. Salisbury. Ward also borrowed from his brother Judd. On January 1, 1891, a year after he started his ledger book, he noted in it that his net insolvency was $212.42. Most of his entries were for expenses. Over and above what he borrowed, it wasn’t clear where his other income was coming from.
In the summer of 1890, during his enrollment at Eastman, he took a job with a man named Daniel Smiley across the Hudson River at Lake Mohonk near New Paltz, New York. Daniel Smiley and his older brother Albert Keith Smiley, owned and operated a huge resort at Lake Mohonk. It is unknown what kind of work Ward did there.
In December 1890 and January 1891 Ward noted his expenses for a couple of suppers and dances back home in Holley and Byron Center. He was probably dating his future wife, Lucy Gay Stevens, at that time. Much later Ward’s daughter Edith recalled the following episode in Ward’s and Lucy’s courtship: “I remember hearing about their going to a dance, it could be a Grange dance at that time or something like that, and they went off with their cutter in the woods in the snow, and they couldn’t get back. Very bad at that time!” (A cutter is a small, one-horse sleigh.)
In February 1891 Ward took a job with the Erie Preserving Company of Buffalo, which had rented the facilities of the Blanchard Vinegar Company in Albion. (The Blanchard Vinegar Company was run by Ward’s older brother Kirk Smith Blanchard). The Erie Preserving Company made canned vegetables. Ward’s pay was $1.75 per day for an 11-hour day. Ward only worked there for three months from February to April 1891. He evidently rented a room in Albion at $3.00 a week while he worked there. In May he returned to work for Daniel Smiley again at Lake Mohonk for the summer.
Ward clearly had an interest in music around 1891. He owned a violin, and he made notations in his ledger book when he bought strings, hair for his bow, and a violin chord book and probably a violin method book. He also had a banjo, and he bought a banjo method book in 1891 as well as a couple of tools and parts for his instrument.
For ten weeks from July 1 to September 2, 1892, Ward rented a house on West Academy Street in Albion. He paid $2.00 a week for the rent. He presumably lived there after he got back from his second summer job at Lake Mohonk.
In an early application of his business training and budding entrepreneurship, Ward took up selling fountain pens in the late summer of 1891. He ordered the pens from the Paul E. Wirt Fountain Pen Company in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and sold them apparently to various people and/or friends around town. At the same time he also seemed to be buying bicycle parts.
On October 5, 1892, Ward married his sweetheart from school, Lucy Gay Stevens. They were wed at Lucy’s parents’ home in Clarendon. They were both 20 years old at the time. Here's a photo of them in their wedding finery.
After they were married they lived in Albion, where, according to a wedding announcement in the local newspaper, Ward resumed his work as bookkeeper for the Blanchard Vinegar Works.
Lucy went by the name Gay at that time. She had been a (very young!) teacher at the Honest Hill School south of Clarendon before they got married. (She had also attended that school previously, but it is unknown where she got her teacher training, if any.) The Stevenses were another long-time Orleans County family. Lucy’s great-grandfather settled in Clarendon in 1813.
From various entries in his ledger book, Ward had spent a lot of money on clothes before he got married. Well, it wasn’t actually a lot of money, but he did buy a lot of clothes. He must have been a very dapper fellow in his late teens! In fact, in practically all of the photographs of Ward later in life, he was always very well dressed, usually in a suit and tie.
After he got married, however, the expenses he noted in his ledger book were mainly for rent, groceries, and occasional miscellaneous items. He also bought a cigar once in a while before he got married, but there were no cigar expense entries after he got married! He must have had a sweet tooth too, because he frequently bought candy. He also paid for fabric and lace, so it’s likely that Lucy made some of her own clothes.
It is not clear what Ward was doing for a living for the next several years. In 1895 he and Lucy were living with her parents (John J. and Eln Frances Hooper Stevens) in Clarendon. During this time Ward’s father, Alva Smith Blanchard, kept a diary for about a year from March 1895 to March 1896. Ward and Gay went over to visit his father and mother every week or two, usually on Sundays. Ward also helped his father around the farm. He helped with the bean harvest, he helped water the horses, he helped plow and plant potatoes, he helped get firewood, he helped fix a pump and install a well pump, he “mended” his father’s sleigh, and he did all the chores on a couple of occasions when his father and mother went to Albion to visit other family and stayed overnight. In February 1896 Ward’s father, who was not totally literate, got him to write a letter for him to a nurseryman regarding a fruit tree order. And also in February 1896, his father gave Ward a “sitting hen” so that Ward could try his luck at raising chicks.
By 1897 Ward and Lucy were living in Holley, New York.
As noted above, Ward had been buying bicycle parts. He pursued this interest in bicycles at a machine shop that he operated in Holley. In 1897 he ran the following ad in a book called “The Standard Road Book.”
The Standard Road Book was a publication for cyclists that contained maps showing the condition of bicycle compatible roadways across New York State and other states.
Ward’s wife, Lucy, was a pretty adventuresome woman. She used to ride one of those old bicycles with the huge front wheels, a penny-farthing.
In February 1897 Ward ran the following ad in The Holley Standard newspaper: “Blanchard has added steam power and iron working machinery and is prepared to do all kinds of machine and light lathe work. He makes parts for all kinds of machinery and does all kinds of repairing. Bicycles a specialty. First door west of Standard office.” There’s an ad for Keating bicycles in a March 1897 issue of The Holley Standard. A.W. Blanchard is identified as the “Holley Agent.” And there’s another ad in a September 1898 issue of The Holley Standard for Keating bicycles and Ward added the following blurb about vulcanizing: “I have a new steam vulcanizer and can repair in a first class manner any tire that is repairable at reasonable prices.”
By March of 1898 A.W. was selling an assortment of bygone brands of bicycles, such as Monarch, Keating, Ellicott, Red Jacket and Fleet. The prices ranged from $25 to $75.
Ward operated this bicycle and repair shop in Holley in 1898 and 1899. In July 1898 he borrowed $250.00 from his father-in-law, John J. Stevens. The purpose of the loan is unknown, but as collateral Ward offered up all the equipment, supplies, tools and bicycle parts that he had in his shop in Holley.
In early 1899 A.W. ran the following ad a couple of times in The Holley Standard: “Bicycles, Cycle Sundries, Electrical Supplies and Repairing. A.W. Blanchard, Thomas Street. Shop open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.”
Ward and Lucy’s first child, son Yorke Stanford Blanchard, was born in Holley on February 2, 1899. Yorke served briefly in World War I in Texas. He worked in a couple of garages in Millerton, New York, as a young man. In 1924 he married Margaret Wright Bard. He was a rural mail carrier for many years and then business manager for the local school district.
On Yorke’s birth certificate, Ward’s occupation was identified as “machinist.” From around October 1900 to November 1901 Ward ran an occasional ad in The Holley Standard newspaper that read as follows: “A.W. Blanchard, Machinist. Shop at residence, corner Thomas and Main Streets. Job work a specialty.” (In the 1900 U.S. Federal census for Holley, however, his occupation was listed as “Electrical Engineer.” Where did that come from? Maybe because he had advertised “electrical supplies and repairing?”)
On September 8, 1901, for the price of $1.00, Ward bought a piece of land in the village of Holley from one Josephine Houghtaling of New York City. The lot was identified as the northwest corner of village lot number 74, at Thomas and Main Streets. This is the location of his latest shop, so maybe he had been renting before and then bought the property.
Somewhere along in here, Ward’s interest shifted from bicycles to the beginning of a life-long preoccupation with machines that had motors and wheels, especially automobiles. And he became known simply as “A.W.,” which remained his moniker for the rest of his life. In January 1902 he and Lucy and Yorke moved to Brooklyn, New York, where they lived at 631 Grand Avenue and/or 1441 Bedford Avenue (as noted in two different sources). In the 1902 city directory for Brooklyn, A.W.'s occupation was listed as "demonstrator," whatever that was.
A.W. took a job with A. G. Southworth, who had a Pope automobile dealership in Brooklyn. Southworth was a contemporary of A.W.’s, and he had actually attended high school in Holley, so that was probably where A.W. knew him from. Southworth was general manager and a man named John W. “Pop” Sutton was president of the A.G. Southworth Company.
Here are some photos of A.W. with family members and others, in various automobiles, They were taken between about 1901 and 1907.
On April 1, 1903, the A.G. Southworth Company opened a branch at 10 Clinton Street in Brooklyn, and A.W. took over the management of that branch. His office was still at 10 Clinton Street as of August 1905.
A.W. applied for and was granted U.S. Patent No. 724,157 on March 31, 1903, for a “Tire Detacher.” The device was made of hardwood and nickel-plated steel and was adjustable to all sizes of tires up to 4 ½ inches. A.W. claimed in a magazine ad that it was impossible to pinch the tube when this device was properly adjusted. It's interesting -- almost comical -- to note that in the 1903 city directory for Brooklyn A.W.'s occupation was listed as "tiredetacher!" (His home address in 1903 was 832 Washington Avenue.) Here's the first page of his tire detacher patent.
A.W. and Lucy’s second child, daughter Elizabeth Lois Blanchard, was born on December 25, 1903, in Brooklyn. She was always known later as “Biz.” Biz worked at the local Philgas (later Suburban Propane) office in Millerton, New York, for many years, and then she assisted her father in selling real estate starting around 1940. She took over his real estate business when he died in 1956. She married late in life (in 1953) to widower Francis LeRoy Ganung.
In at least early 1905 A.W. and Lucy and family were living at 20 Waldorf Court in Brooklyn (photo on right). In the 1905 New York State census for Brooklyn, A.W.’s occupation was listed as “auto shop clerk.” Also according to that census, they had a 37-year old U.S.-born servant named Catherine Duffy living with them. And, in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, a 23-year old Norwegian servant named Hannah Rodberg was listed as living with the Blanchards.
Lucy developed an interest in photography in the early 1900s. In addition to the usual family snapshots, she took some more artsy photos.
In February 1906 A.W. drew up a plan with sketches for a magnetic clutch. He probably intended to apply for a patent on his invention, but it looks like he never went through with it.
On November 1, 1906, the A.G. Southworth Company took possession of the Pope Manufacturing Company’s New York branch at 1733 Broadway. Southworth took over the New York store and A. W. was put in charge of the Brooklyn store at 342 Flatbush Avenue. Sometime in 1907, John W. Sutton bought Southworth's business.
On September 1, 1908, A.W. incorporated a company called "A.W. Blanchard, Inc.," and on September 20, he bought out the Sutton agency. From October 1908 to January 1909, his business was located at 1876 Broadway (or "1,876 Broadway," as the street number was rendered in the ads in those days). He continued selling Pope automobiles at two of Sutton's three business locations -- 342 Flatbush Avenue and 10 Clinton Street in Brooklyn (the third had been at 811 Union Street). Capital stock was $25,000. The company reportedly "manufactured motors." A.W. was president, treasurer and director of the company. His nephew Alva Neil Wilcox was vice president and his wife Lucy G. Blanchard was secretary of the corporation. In 1909 their garage had 150 cars and dealt in repairs and supplies.
In addition to Pope Toledos, Pope Hartfords and Pope Tribunes, A.W. also sold Pope Waverly electric cars at his two locations. Here's a 1908 ad from a Boooklyn newspaper for renting a Waverly for an hour or so. In 1909 he added Herreshoff, G.J.G. and Oldsmobile cars to his sales inventory. He was still at 342 Flatbush Avenue and 10 Clinton Street. (By the way, if you drove an Oldsmobile in those days you were known as an “Oldsmobilist.”)
In January 1910 A.W. showed Oldsmobiles at a Brooklyn automobile dealers' show at Madison Square Garden.
In March 1910 he started selling Fiats, and he advertised heavily for Fiats, Herreshoffs and Oldsmobiles in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper. Interestingly, he did not advertise the Fiats and Herreshoffs in the New York Times, but he ran quite a few ads in the Times from 1908 to 1912, and he was identified as an Oldsmobile dealer throughout 1910. He also advertised used cars in the Times.
A.W. drove a Herreshoff automobile in a race around Long Island called a Reliability Test on May 21-22, 1910, for a prize called the Pardington trophy. The race was sponsored by the Brooklyn Motor Vehicle Dealers’ Association. There were 30 cars in the race, 15 from the Long Island Automobile Club and 15 from the Crescent Athletic Club. They started from Prospect Park Plaza in Brooklyn and drove across Long Island to Riverhead. On the next day they returned to Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. A.W. was one of the drivers from the Crescent Club. He was written up as follows in a May 22, 1910, New York Times article: “Another local dealer, representing the Half Moon Club, was A.W. Blanchard, the well-known agent of the Oldsmobile and Herreshoff cars.” A.W.’s Crescent Club didn’t win the trophy; the Long Island club took it.
A.W. drove a Herreshoff in similar race on August 9-10, 1910. It was another two-day reliability contest, also under the auspices of the Brooklyn Motor Vehicle Dealers’ Association. The entrants – 58 of them this time – drove 400 miles around Long Island.
On October 8, 1910, A.W. and Lucy purchased a 110-acre farm west of Millerton in Dutchess County, New York, on what is now New York State Route 199. It is not known how they knew about Millerton or how they found out about the farm. The property contained approximately six acres of land or right-of-way owned and occupied by the Newburgh, Dutchess and Connecticut Railway Company. (This stretch of track running from Pine Plains through Millerton to State Line was abandoned in 1925.) A.W. and Lucy bought the land from a lady named Carrie Kilmer. They paid one dollar for the property and evidently took over the remaining mortgage of $1,500.00. They gave this farm the name “Cluyvala,” which is a transposition of the letters in the names Lucy and Alva. They used this farm as a sort of summer place for the next ten years. They would take the train or drive up from Brooklyn and spend occasional weekends or entire weeks in Millerton, where A.W. would tend to his garden and take care of minor repairs around the house. Once A.W. wrote in his diary that he and Lucy went up in the woods on the hill and dug up some flowers and shrubs to plant around the property at Cluyvala.
A.W. also mentioned in his diaries how, when he took the train up to Millerton, he would walk (over the hill) to the farm. And he would walk to town and back on occasion too. Other times he would get a ride with someone.
From February 18-25, 1911, the first Brooklyn Automobile Show was held at the 23rd Regiment Armory on Bedford Street in Brooklyn. A.W. participated heavily in the show as a member of the Exhibition Committee, the Reception Committee and the Transportation Committee. A very nice biographical sketch of him appeared in the February 17th issue of the Brooklyn Daily Standard Union, which included a line drawing of him. A.W. reserved space number 174 and exhibited three cars – a Fiat, an Oldsmobile and a Herreshoff. Here's an attractive ad he put in the February 11th issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
And here's a photo showing what A.W.'s space looked like at the Armory show.
A.W. built his own automobile dealership and garage at 101 Liberty Street in Brooklyn. It opened for business in early January 1912. He evidently dropped the other brands and sold Fiats and Case automobiles exclusively at his new location.
There was a second Brooklyn Automobile Show at the 23rd Regiment Armory the following year, from February 24th to March 2nd. A.W. showed Fiat and Case cars. Here's a caricature of him that appeared in the February 28th issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Ward Stevens Blanchard, A.W. and Lucy’s third child, was born in Brooklyn on September 25, 1912. Ward – who was always known just as “Ward” – was a Navy Seabee in World War II, he was married three times, and he ended up a college librarian in California.
On June 24, 1913, A.W. and Lucy bought a house at 990 East 8th Street in Brooklyn. They sure didn’t stay in one place for very long! They paid $9,250.00 for this house. They lived in it for at least the next two years or so. On one trip to Millerton in the summer of 1914, they dug up three thornapple trees (hawthorns) and took them back to 990 East 8th.
There was an article in the June 26, 1913, issue of the weekly “Motor World” stating that the Standard Oil Company of New York had filed suit in the Supreme Court for New York County against A.W. Blanchard, Inc., which was identified as a “garageman-dealer” at 101 Liberty Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. The claim was for $543.60 for goods supplied between November 1 and December 10, 1912. There were indications noted earlier in A.W.’s ledger book about his need to borrow money and his mysterious lack of obvious income. He became notorious later on for having perennial financial problems and not always paying his bills on time.
This is interesting: There was a 1914 publication called “Official Automobile Directory of the State of New York.” It listed the permit numbers, the names and addresses of the automobiles’ owners, and the type of automobile. You’d think A.W. would have had several cars listed in this directory, but his name doesn’t appear. Instead, Lucy’s does. Her address is given as R.F.D. No. 2, Millerton, and the type of automobile was a Pope. Why was the car registered in her name, and why did they use Millerton as the address? (The permit number was 76773.)
A.W. was awarded U.S. Patent No. 1,125,942 on January 26, 1915, for a type of hydraulic shock absorber for automobiles. He had applied for the patent way back on June 7, 1911. Here's the first page of this patent.
Unfortunately, A.W.’s business, A. W. Blanchard, Inc., went bankrupt in 1915, and on June 30th of that year A.W. sold his garage at 101 Liberty Street and all its assets, except for his tools.
A.W. must have had a premonition that his automobile shop was in trouble. Shortly before his business went under, A.W. started dabbling on the side in the sales of a gasoline-powered cultivating machine called the Universal Tractor. This was while he was dividing his time between Brooklyn and Millerton. (In addition to being a cultivator, the Universal Tractor had a system of pulleys and belts that could be used to drive other machines. A brochure for the machine illustrated how it could be used to operate the following devices: a cream separator, a grindstone, a grain separator, a washing machine, a saw, a dynamo, a pump, and a corn mill. Hence its name – the universal tractor.)
In June 1914 he traveled by train to Chicago to discuss tractors with the Marshall Huschuck Machine Company. According to the deal they struck, A.W. would assemble and sell the machines, and when they were completed and marketed, the tractor business of the Universal Tractor Company would be wholly his. On his way back from Chicago he stopped in New Castle, Indiana, where the Universal Tractor plant was located. In September he went back to Chicago and then to New Castle again to arrange shipment of the machines. The destination of the shipment was probably Brooklyn, because he had already shipped a demonstrator tractor by express from Chicago to Brooklyn. After he got back home, he took the demonstrator to the Mineola Fair on September 23rd and arranged for several demonstrations. (Mineola is in Nassau County on Long Island.)
On October 14, 1914, A.W. took out a lease on a property at the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and Hawthorne Street in Brooklyn for $360 per year. He was identified as an agent of the Universal Tractor Company, and the purpose of the lease, which was actually dated December 8, 1914, was “for storing and manufacturing purposes and testing gasoline tractors.”
Here's a photo of A.W. that was taken in 1914.
Daughter Edith Gay Blanchard was born at Cluyvala in Millerton on October 25, 1915. She was later known by everyone as “Eacy.” Eacy once remarked that her mother had wanted to stay in Millerton to have her baby rather than go back to Brooklyn. In 1940 Eacy married Christian Oskar Andersen, a landscape architect, and they lived most of their married life in Simsbury, Connecticut.
Eacy was the source of several interesting automobile-related stories and other stories about her father. She confirmed that A.W. worked for A.G. Southworth, who had a garage in Brooklyn before A.W. had his own garage. She said Southworth also sold electric cars. (An ad in, of all places, the Brooklyn Medical Journal, December 1905 issue, says that A.G. Southworth sold, among other Pope automobiles, the Pope Waverly, which was an electric car.) Eacy added that her mother, Lucy, used to drive the electric car. Furthermore, Eacy said that Southworth’s wife, Mabel, was her (Eacy’s) godmother.
Eacy said that A.W. used to go to car races all the time (as noted above). She also mentioned that he was a friend of Louis Chevrolet. Chevrolet was the famed race car driver and founder of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company. In the early 1900s Chevrolet was working for a French car manufacturer in Brooklyn, so it is certainly likely that he and A.W. traveled in the same circles and that A.W. would have known him. Chevrolet was also a friend and associate of William C. Durant, who later went on to found General Motors. According to Wikipedia, Durant had been interested in “building a successful company by improving on the safety of these new machines (horseless carriages). In order to accomplish this, he sought out the purchase of Buick, a local car company with few sales and large debts.” Eacy said that A.W. had a chance to buy the Buick company himself, but didn’t because he didn’t think it would amount to anything!
According to Eacy, A.W. was quite a bowler when they lived in Brooklyn. He once won a big cut-glass punch bowl for his bowling prowess. In a write-up in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, he was named as being one of the prize-winners at the April 24, 1909, annual dinner of the Bowling Association of the Montauk Club. Among the things handed down in the family from A.W. is the printed program for the Montauk Club's annual dinner that was held the following year on April 26, 1910. The Montauk Club was –- and still is –- a private social club in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. Whoever made up the program wrote short poems about various officers of the club and others who were probably members. Here’s the ditty about A.W. (there must be some inside jokes going on here):
“Gasoline” Blanchard’s a friend of mine,
A friend of mine, yes, a friend of mine.
He’s sure to qualify every time –
Which shows a good system.
If he played cribbage he’d make a good score;
For every month “pat,” he adds fifteen more.
Over fifteen for him, it exceeds the speed limit.
Oh! A.W.’s a friend of mine.
A.W. also dabbled in fencing, according to Eacy, and she had some of his fencing things in her house.
Finally, Eacy stated that A.W. owned the first automobile in Millerton. How’s that for a juicy factoid?
Getting back to A.W.’s cultivators: A.W. filed a New York State form called the Capital Stock Report for the year ending October 31, 1915. In it he wrote that his Universal Tractor company had been organized on October 14, 1914. The nature of the business was “assembling and selling gasoline tractor cultivators.” Some parts were manufactured, and the tractors were to be assembled in Millerton. The business address was listed as 445 Hawthorne Street in Brooklyn and the mailing address was Millerton. The business obviously wasn’t doing very well, because in this report A.W. noted that the “company is in practically a dormant state, sold a very few machines and are now making some changes for the 1916 model.” In addition to Alva W. Blanchard being identified as the president of the company, Lucy G. Blanchard was identified as the vice-president and treasurer.
In his Capital Stock Report for the following year – the year ending October 31, 1916 – A.W.’s business and mailing address was listed as 2619 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn (this was actually his home address). The tractors were now being assembled at 1580 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. In this report, A.W. again noted that the “company is in practically a dormant state, sold a few more machines and still improving same.”
For three months from December 1916 to March 1917 A.W. ran a weekly ad for tractors in the Sunday New York Sun. These were real 4-wheel tractors, for farm and garden, not the cultivator he had been selling. But they were apparently still made by Universal Tractor. In December 1916 his address was listed in the ad as 2619 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn. But in that month he leased a shop at 245 West 55th Street in New York City, so, beginning with the January 7, 1917, ad in the Sun and in subsequent ads A.W.’s address was 245 West 55th Street. In one January 1917 ad, A.W. identified himself as a "tractor specialist" and the President and General Manager of the Universal Tractor Co., Inc. (Interesting sidelight: In the December 2, 1917, issue of the New York Times, and giving his address as 245 W. 55th St., A.W. advertised for sale an aluminum 5-passenger limousine body that he had for sale!)
It is unclear when A.W.’s dalliance with Universal Tractors ended. He did use one in his own garden for many years after they moved to Millerton in 1920, though.
On March 30, 1917, A.W. and family moved to 55 Grand Avenue in Nepperhan Heights, Yonkers, New York. Then by early 1918 they were living on Park Avenue in Port Washington, Long Island, New York. (John J. Stevens, Lucy's father, had been living with them in Brooklyn since February 1914, and he died on February 19, 1918, while at their home in Port Washington.)
In July of 1919 A.W. wrote a letter to someone to whom he owed $700.00. A.W. apologized for his delay in this matter, because, as he wrote, “I have been working about 18 hours a day and simply have let my own correspondence and business matters go to the board.” It’s not known what A.W. was doing for work at this time. Perhaps he was still involved with the Universal Tractor. In the 1920 U.S. Federal census for Port Washington, however, A.W.’s occupation was listed as “Manager, Vacuum cleaners.” And their street address in this census, taken in early January, was noted as Bayview Avenue.
Sometime later in 1920 A.W. and his family moved permanently to Cluyvala Farm in Millerton. They remained in Millerton for the rest of their lives.
The move to Millerton brought about a significant lifestyle change for A.W. Now at age 48 he clearly got back to his farming roots. On September 13, 1920, he and Lucy purchased another property in Lucy’s name on the east side of South Mill Street in the village of Millerton. This 3-acre property they referred to as the “mill property” or just “the mill.” Across the brook in the back of this property was a long building that was a saw mill. A.W. operated that for a while. He cut up wood that people brought him and he sold the lumber. There was also a cider mill there. It was in a big building on the front of the lot. It had a big stone that crushed the apples. A.W. made the cider and sold that too. This would have been around the mid-1920s, and they were still living at Cluyvala. Lucy still had title to this property in 1946.
Around 1924 A.W. and Lucy had a little Scottish terrier named Scottie. They also had other dogs in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A.W. noted the deaths of three of those dogs – Bruce, Penny and Billie – in his diaries.
Now, if the saw mill and cider mill weren’t enough, it seems like A.W. was always trying to find other innovative ways to make a few bucks. In 1924 he had a brochure printed up advertising the fact that he was selling Black Langshan chickens and hatching eggs from Cluyvala Farm. (His father’s gift of the “sitting hen” back in 1896 must have paid off!) Sometime along in here A.W. also had stationery printed up for his business in Millerton as a landscape architect. Eacy recalled that her father knew a lot about landscape architecture. (He was really pleased when Eacy married a landscape architect!) A.W. had a big drawing board that he would do his landscaping and surveying work on. He worked in his office in a little room behind the fireplace at Cluyvala.
Even though he was involved in these other pursuits, A.W. apparently couldn’t stay away from cars for very long. He was associated with the Dutchess Auto and Supply Company in Millerton, an automobile sales and repair shop. He reportedly worked for them for about 20 years. It’s possible that his association with Dutchess Auto began as early as the mid-1910s, before he and his family even moved permanently to Millerton. Initially, according to reminiscences of his daughter Eacy, A.W. sold Buicks at Dutchess Auto. In fact, he bought a Buick for himself in 1924 – his first one – for the grand sum of $200.
In this 1929 photo of Dutchess Auto employees, A.W. is seated on the far left. His daughter Biz and son Yorke are also in the photo. Biz is seated third from the right, and Yorke is standing right behind her, fourth from the right in that row.
A.W.'s occupation is listed as Automobile Salesman in the 1930 Federal Census.
Here's a photo of A.W. with a 1934(?) Buick in front of the Cluyvala farmhouse.
After a while he quit selling cars at Dutchess Auto and opened up his own shop at their so-called “mill property.” A.W.’s dealership was located in the big building where his cider mill used to be. He started selling Hupmobiles there. And his son Yorke helped out there for a while. After a while A.W.’s association with Hupmobile became official: in the late summer of 1934 he announced that he had obtained the Hupmobile agency in Millerton and he had become the authorized dealer for the complete Hupmobile line in the local area. He even put a notice in the July 21, 1935, New York Times advertising Hupmobiles from his address on Mill Street in Millerton. If it’s true that he worked for Dutchess Auto for 20 years, then he must have continued his association with them in some manner during the ‘30s, even after he had established his own car dealership.
A.W. continued to acquire and enjoy fancy cars for the rest of his life. He and Lucy took frequent motor trips all around the area. Lucy evidently didn’t drive as she got older, so A.W. took her everywhere she needed to go. Later she often accompanied him on his real estate-associated visits to inspect or show property.
Speaking of which, around 1935 A.W. got into the real estate business in Millerton. That’s probably when his association with Dutchess Auto would have ended. He started out working for an outfit called E.A. Strout Realty in Millerton, but around 1943 he set up his own real estate agency. It was called A.W. Blanchard Realty, Inc., and he sold land and farms and houses in Millerton, in the surrounding Town of Northeast and in other locations in Dutchess County. He advertised in the New York Times and in the local Millerton News Republican newspaper. This business was his main source of income until his death in 1956. Here's one of his ads. It appeared in the August 26, 1945, New York Times.
The big news of 1938 was the installation of a telephone in the Blanchard’s house! This photo of him dates to 1938.
Reading the entries in his diary for 1940 gives an idea of the kinds of things that occupied him on the farm. He was clearly finished with the saw mill, the cider mill and the Hupmobile dealership by now, because there are no mentions of those in the seven diaries dating from the late 1930s to the early 1950s that have been handed down. During 1940 A.W. and Lucy kept a variety of animals at Cluyvala: chickens, a lamb, sheep and horses. Throughout the year A.W. cut, sawed and drew firewood and he did many other things around the house: he shoveled snow, he built a bridge over a stream, he worked on fences, on the barn, on the milk house and in the garden planting flowers and vegetables. He now had several Graham-Paige automobiles, a model 120, a model 615 and a model 95. There was also mention in 1942 of a Cord, but that probably belonged to daughter Biz. (And in the early 1950s he had a Frazer or Kaiser-Frazer.)
Here's a photo of A.W. and Lucy and their four children taken at Cluyvala in August 1940 on the occasion of daughter Eacy's wedding. A.W. and Lucy are seated, and, standing from left to right, that's Yorke, Biz, Eacy and Ward.
There are more details in his 1942 and 1943 diaries. A.W. turned 70 years old on January 13, 1942, but his age certainly didn’t seem to slow him down. He was very industrious. When he wasn’t working on real estate-related affairs in his office, he was doing physically strenuous work around the house and yard, like sawing and cutting firewood, plowing, cultivating and harrowing fields for crops, mowing, tending to the animals, etc. He planted squash, corn, potatoes, buckwheat, beets, carrots, cucumbers, beans, rutabagas, spinach, tomatoes, and berries, among others.
A.W. got into the animal husbandry business pretty heavily in 1943. In addition to the sheep, horses, chickens noted before, he also had cows, pigs, and heifers. Some of his sheep were Karakul sheep. On several occasions he noted that the sheep got loose and he had to go find them. After he did, then he noted that he went and fixed the fences. He did a lot of fence fixing!
This nice portrait of A.W. was taken at Cluyvala probably in the early 1940s.
In 1944 A.W. was interested in patenting a method he had developed for log cabin construction. He submitted the paperwork (“Improved Method of Construction of Log or Timber Structures”) to a patent attorney and corresponded back and forth with him between February and May. In May the patent attorney quoted a fee of $200 to submit and process the application. A.W. didn’t do anything about it. In later references in July and October in his 1944 diary, A.W. wrote that he had shown a model of his log cabin to several people but he just couldn’t get anybody interested in it. Then in October 1947 he wrote to the patent attorney again. He explained that earlier he lacked the funds and had other pressing matters, and he inquired whether it would be possible to take up the application process again. The patent attorney said yes, but A.W. evidently never followed through this time either. So he dropped the project.
In April 1946 A.W. and family moved into their house on South Mill Street in the village of Millerton. This is the building that had been a cider mill and then A.W.’s Hupmobile dealership. They only lived here for a short time, however, because in 1947 they moved to 26 Maple Avenue in Millerton. Like Cluyvala, they named this house too: Gayward, another word based on their own names. They lived there until 1956. This photo of Gayward was taken in December 1949.
A.W. had an unusual method for feeding the fires in the fireplace at 26 Maple Avenue. He would use ice tongs to haul a big log into the fireplace. He wouldn’t cut the log up. He would just put one end of the whole log in the fire and hitch it up as it burned. A.W. also never put a screen in front of the fireplace. He felt that the screen kept the heat in. He’d go off and leave the fire all night, and the rug would occasionally get burned.
Continuing her artistic bent (like with photography in her younger years), Lucy took up oil painting very late in life – in the 1940s, when she would have been in her 70s. Another Grandma Moses! Several of her primitive paintings have been handed down in the family.
A major activity for A.W. in 1952 was overseeing the improvement of Wakeman Road and Blanchard Road, both of which ran through his property. Wakeman Road was in a tract of land situated within the limits of the village of Millerton that A.W. called Borderland. Blanchard Road ran up over the hill behind the Millerton Gun Club. That property was located outside the village limits and was situated within the Town of Northeast. A.W. – at the age of 80 – did some of the work on these roads himself. He worked on a drain pipe, he worked on a bridge, and he cleaned out the “gutters” (probably meaning the drainage ditches alongside the road).
As mentioned earlier, much of the land A.W. owned spanned a hill between Cluyvala on Route 199 and the village of Millerton. The area near his farm A.W. called Cluyvala Farm. And the tract on the top of the hill -- with the best view -- he called Cluyvala Heights. On the east side of the hill was Cluyvala Slope, Blanchard Woods and then Borderland. The hard-to-read map on this real estate flier shows the extent of his property. The orientation of this map is a little misleading. North is to the right, about two o'clock.
A.W.’s daughter-in-law, Margaret Bard Blanchard, remarked that A.W. sold off all the choice lots on the top of the hill first. What was left were some undesirable and odd-shaped lots. Many of these lots were not properly surveyed and some didn’t have deeds. In some of A.W.’s diaries, he does make mention of deeds a couple of times, and in the 1950s his son Yorke did some surveying work for him.
In January 1953 A.W. and Lucy were listening to news about the inauguration of President Eisenhower on the radio. Lucy told him she wanted to see it, so two days later A.W. went out and bought a television and an antenna! The only channel available in Millerton in those days was WRGB from Schenectady, New York (which was the first experimental television station in the world, by the way), and A.W. noted in his diary that the reception was quite good and they enjoyed watching it.
In at least the 1900s, 1910s and 1920s, A.W. and Lucy were Episcopalians. They had their son Yorke baptized at the Episcopalian church in Holley in 1901. Eacy described her parents as being “High Episcopalians” (more like Roman Catholics) when they lived in Port Washington. Somewhere along the line A.W. was introduced to the Christian Science religion by his niece, Madge Wilcox Hengerer. He joined the First Church of Christ, Scientist of Boston, and later he and Lucy were instrumental in founding the Christian Science Church in Millerton. They were very active in the Millerton Christian Science Church from at least the late 1930s to the mid 1950s. They went to church fairly regularly on Sundays, and they also attended the Wednesday night testimony meetings. In August 1942 A.W. was elected first reader in the church. A.W.’s real estate business sometimes took precedence over his attendance at church on Sundays, however. In the early 1950s A.W. had a ritual of going to the church early to either turn up the thermostat in the wintertime or turn on the “cooler” in the summertime. Then he would go to the news stand (probably Terni’s store) and get the newspaper (most likely the Christian Science Monitor).
A.W. was also a member of the Millerton Grange 796 (he and Lucy joined in May 1944) and the Dutchess County Realty Board.
The Town of Northeast historian, the late Chester Eisenhuth, confirmed that A.W. was kind of irresponsible with money and very slow in paying his bills. Chet’s father was a plumber and did all of A.W.’s plumbing work, and Chet said that it was like pulling teeth to get A.W. to pay. Margaret Blanchard recalled that when A.W. and Lucy moved into what was called the Wakeman house in Millerton in 1956, the house needed a lot of work done on it, but A.W. spent $1,000 on the bathroom! (A.W. must have owned the Wakeman house and property earlier than 1956, by the way, because he made references in his 1952 diary to planting some trees there and having some plumbing and masonry and wiring work done. That old house was located on the west side of New York State Route 22 just north of the intersection with Wakeman Road.)
A.W. was a big man. He was quite tall and he had big hands. He wore a size 16/34 shirt and size 12 shoes. Lucy, on the other hand, was very diminutive. Two of their children, Biz and Ward, were tall as well, and Yorke and Eacy were of smaller stature.
A.W. liked Spanish peanuts, the small ones with the skins on. When he and Lucy lived at 26 Maple Avenue, he always had a plastic dispenser on the kitchen counter that held a small can of peanuts. You pushed down a lever and you got a small handful of peanuts.
In 1956 A.W. and Lucy sold their house at 26 Maple Avenue to son and daughter-in-law Yorke and Margaret, and they moved into the Wakeman house in Millerton on April 25th. A month later A.W. was dead. He died of a heart attack at about 11:30 a.m. on May 20th while sitting in his chair listening to the radio. He was 84 years old.
Lucy went to stay with her daughter and son-in-law, Biz and Roy Ganung, who lived on Dutchess Avenue in Millerton. She became hard of hearing. She wore a hearing aid apparatus that clipped to her blouse and had a wire going to her ear. She developed a skin cancer on her chin and, being a Christian Scientist, did not seek treatment. She died on July 27, 1962, at age 90.
A.W. and Lucy are buried side by side in Irondale Cemetery in Millerton. As you drive into the cemetery from New York State Route 22, the Blanchard plot is the first one you see.