The Le Roy Plow Company


| January/February 2000



Reprint of the Le Roy Historical Society Newsletter

Reprinted from the Le Roy Historical Society Newsletter, Vol. 4, Number 1, with permission. Le Roy Historical Society is located at 23 East Main Street, Le Roy, New York 14482.

The Le Roy Plow Company was organized and incorporated in 1899. Several Le Roy businessmen, including Calvin Keeney, Patrick Gleason, Butler Ward, Orator Woodward (later of Jell-O fame), and Thomas Larkin purchased the Miller Manufacturing Company which made farm implements, including the Miller Bean Harvestor.

The first officers of the company were Butler Ward, President; Calvin Keeney, Vice President; Orator Woodward, Chairman of the Executive Committee; Thomas Larkin, Secretary and Treasurer.

The factory was located on the west side of Lake Street, behind the train station, and was serviced by five railroads: the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh, the Erie, the New York Central, the Lehigh Valley, and the Delaware, Lackawanna &. Western. The railroads provided necessary delivery for raw materials and easy delivery service for the manufactured equipment. In 1903, the old factory burned down and was immediately rebuilt. By 1906, according to an article in The Old Magazine published  by A. L. Jinks of Le Roy, the Le Roy Plow Company was third in the state in the production of plows.

The Le Roy plow was designed by Edwin Hall, who owned the Caledonia Plow Company. It was written that Edwin Hall was one of the greatest plow experts alive at that time. Another story about Edwin Hall states that Thomas Larkin convinced Fred Huff, a pattern maker for the Caledonia Plow Company, to bring the Caledonia plow patterns to Le Roy. Hall fought the infringement on his business and was unable to get monetary satisfaction.

In 1916, Thomas Larkin acquired the outstanding interests in the company and became the president and major stock owner. Larkin at this time was also a director and secretary of the Genesee Pure Food Company (which produced Jell-O). Larkin's first wife was Orator Woodward's sister, Clara, who died in 1888. Larkin moved to Le Roy at the age of 16 from Cohocton, New York. He was employed at a clothing and shoe store owned by Samuel Kelsey. In 1884, he purchased the 'Star Shoe Store' on Main Street, which he owned for about 15 years.