Historical Society program looks at Chenango’s industrial heritage

NORWICH – One hundred years ago this month, on Aug. 28, 1909, the Ireland Machine & Foundry Company located on State St. in Norwich filed for their first U.S. Patent. Titled simply “Sawing Machine” this patent application was for what was commonly known as a Drag Saw.

On Thursday, the Chenango County Historical Society will celebrate the centennial with a presentation by Alan Estus.

Used to cut large logs into firewood blocks, the Drag Saw eliminated significant manual labor in the production of the winter’s firewood supply for rural homes. Ireland was awarded U.S Patent #959,221 on May 24th, 1910, and the Drag Saw became one of the Ireland Company’s longest running products produced into the 1940s.

A. Bertsell Ireland was born in the southwest corner of the Town of Smyrna in 1846 a section of the town known then as “Ireland’s Mills.” In 1873 the Ireland family moved to Greene where A.B. took a job in the wood-working department of the Lyon Iron Works. By the 1890s A.B. Ireland achieved the status of what today would be known as plant manager, and both of his sons were also employed at the Lyon company. In the early years of the twentieth century something prompted A. Bertsell Ireland to consider leaving the Lyon Iron Works, a company where he had worked for over 30 years, and venture out on his own to establish a foundry operation. Ground was broken in October of 1906 on State St. in Norwich for the new factory and by February of 1907 the first castings were poured in the new facility.

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