Brief histories of the following industries will be added in the coming months:
A. Sam & Sons
Atlas Steel Co. – Allegheny Ludlum Steel
The Atlas Steel Company was founded in1908 by Edward Burgess on Howard Avenue, employing 12 people. It produced tool and die materials. In 1912 it reorganized into the Atlas Crucible Steel Company, nearly going out of business within a year but being resurrected by World War I so that by 1916 employment rose to 300. In 1922 the firm merged with Electric Alloy Steel of Charleroi, Pennsylvania, and became the Atlas Steel Corporation. After going into receivership the firm in turn became the Atlas Alloy Steel Corporation. In 1929 that firm merged with the Ludlum Company of Watervliet to become the Dunkirk plant of Ludlum Steel. In 1936 the Ludlum Steel completed an expansion program, and a wire mill was built at Lucas Avenue. In 1938 the firm merged with Allegheny Steel Company of Breckenridge, Pa., making the Dunkirk plant a division of Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation. The company was a specialist in stainless and alloy steels. In 1941 a new building facing Brigham Road on their property was erected by the Federal Loan Association for the manufacturing of defense materials, providing work for 600 men. In 1947 Allegheny Ludlum bought the Brigham Road war plant from the US Government and converted it into one of the best wire mills in the country, with 1948 employment being 1900. In 1975, low prices on imported steel resulted in layoffs of one third of the workforce. Al Tech Specialty Steel Corp. was formed in 1976 when a management group purchased the Bar Products Division from Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corp. Sammi Steel Co. Ltd. purchased Al Tech in 1989.
Bedford Products – Kraft:
This food processing business was founded by Frederick W. Bedford, Sr., in 1933, on a farm near Westfield, N.Y. A year after its founding he moved the business to a factory in Brocton, NY. However, in 1937, after sales had expanded, Bedford bought the abandoned Dotterweich Brewery in Dunkirk on Sixth Street and occupied it. Starting off producing jellies from local crops, Bedford later experimented with freeze concentrating of fruit juices to then using those concentrates to produce jellies. In 1948 Bedford expanded its business by purchasing a building on Talcott Street that had once been part of the ALCO locomotive building business (the old hammer shop). Bedford became a major producer of “private label” jellies, jams, preserves and fruit juice concentrates. That building on Talcott would in time become the center for the Kraft plant, the relationship with Kraft beginning when in 1950 Bedford Products furnished all the ingredients for jellies that were put out in Portion Control products by Kraft Foods. Bedford merged with National Dairy in 1955, operating as a separate division and becoming Bedford Products Division of National Dairy, by which time Bedford sales were close to five million dollars with markets largely in a 500 mile radius from Dunkirk. In 1956 the plant was making BBQ sauce and in 1957 ice cream toppings. In 1959 the Bedford products operation was merged into Kraft Foods.
The Boston Store was located at 316-318 Lion Street (now Main Street), and was owned by the Ballotin family, immigrants from Russia. It opened in September of 1911 at 6 o’clock in the morning due to the large crowd that had assembled, and stayed open till midnight, accommodating some 6,000 people on that first day. The store carried a line of dry goods, ladies ready-to-wear clothing and gentlemen’s furnishings. The business expanded to rugs, carpets, floor coverings, and more.
This Dunkirk favorite opened on Central Avenue in October of 1919. Owned by Gus Surlas, George Surlas, and Jim Vlachos, the business was known for its homemade ice cream, candies, and sandwiches. It closed in 1959.
Dotterweich Brewing Company:
This company was located at 537 Dove Street, with the building fronting Sixth Street, and was established in 1852.
Dunkirk Engineering Company
Dunkirk Radiator Corporation:
This business was established in 1928 by Earle C. Reed and other local businessmen, the foundry being at 85 Middle Road in Dunkirk, and the stamping plant at 135 Middle Road. It produces boilers for use in residential heating, and these were in turn sold by Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and others. It today operates as ECR International, leading manufacturer of innovative heating and cooling products and systems.
Dunkirk Seed Company:
The company was established in 1860 at 11 Lucas Avenue. It produced garden and flower seeds that were sold throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
George H. Graf and Company
H.C. Ehler’s Company:
German immigrant Charles Ehlers opened a dry goods store and funeral home in 1872, then sold furniture. Partnering with George Philippbar in 1882, the business occupied a building at 400 Central Avenue on the corner of Central Avenue and Fourth Street in 1892. Ehlers’ son Herman took over the business in 1910, and they manufactured specialized canvas curtains for the Brooks Locomotive Works, Mika curtains for cars and upholstering, invented and marketed its own furniture polish–Lemoline, and sold furniture. It closed
The Fred Koch Brewery began in 1888 and was located at 13-21 West Courtney Street. The original building burned in 1896, when Fred Koch and Frank Were began brewing in the old Fink Brewery in Dunkirk. Within a year they moved to the location on Courtney Street where they stayed until the business closed. The building sifted fire damage in 1896, resulting in a new structure to be added and Fred Koch purchasing his partner’s interests in the business. In 1911 the brewery was incorporated. Before prohibition came, Koch’s purchased Deer Run Water Co. and the Star Bottling Company so that during those prohibition years the plant produced spring water, soft drinks, a limited amount of near beer called Kobru, and liquid malt syrup. In 1933, with the repeal of Prohibition, Koch’s sold beer once again. By 1940 the plant had a capacity of 41,000 barrels ad extended its market to Erie, Titusville and Meadville, Pennsylvania, to the west and Niagara Falls to the east. Additions to the plant were made over the years including modern storage buildings, and by 1950 the plant produced 100,000 barrels a year. In 1981 the business was purchased by Faux Breweries Limited of England, and in 1984 the business was merged with the Genesee Brewing Company of Rochester. As one of the last of the nation’s small breweries, Koch’s faced a drop in earnings as industry consolidation predominated. The operations in Dunkirk ceased in 1988 and production of Koch’s brand continued in the Rochester Genessee brewing plant, and by the 1990’s production of Koch’s brand beer was discontinued.
Lakeshore Seed Company
Hilton Brick Company
Martin Anti-Fire Car Heater Company
Mulholland Spring Company
New York Store:
This store was opened by Jacob (known as Jake) Ballotin, at 326 Lion Street (now Man Street) in October of 1907, and sold men’s and boys’ clothing. It s possible he opened the store in Dunkirk to create ab outlet for the pants factory he owned, called Faultless, in Buffalo. He was an immigrant from Russia and tailor by trade before entering the retail business. In 1918 Jake expanded the store twice.
Niagara Mohawk Power Company
Romer Ax Company
Sidey’s Department Store
Thomas Whitson Sidey of Glasgow, Scotland, opened The Buffalo Store at 61 Center Street (now Central Avenue) in partnership with John McLaren, another Scotsman, in 1882. In 1885 Mr. McLaren sold his interest in the store to Mr. Sidey. By 1916, a larger store was needed so the business was moved to 320 Central Avenue and the name changed to “Sidey’s”. Fire caused $150,000 in damage to the store in 1928, and the store renovated and reopened in 1929. In 1973 the store moved into a new building in the D&F Plaza. It closed in 1993 after 111 years of business.
United States Radiator Company
Valone’s Meat Market
Van Raalte Company, Inc.
In 1907 Ben and Arthur Van Raalte acquired a veiling and netting business that went back to 1877 in Patterson, New York. In Dunkirk, the American Glove Company existed in a plant on Main Street, later changing to Niagara Silk Mill. The latter’s main plant was in North Tonawanda. Around 1918 brothers Byron and Arthur Van Raalte bought the Niagara Silk Mills in Dunkirk and North Tonawanda, as well as the Saratoga Silk Mill and Hosiery in New Jersey. The original plant building in Dunkirk on Main Street, was followed by a plant on Franklin Avenue, and later, in the 1930’s a plant off Roberts Road in a former ALCO products building. By 1928 the brothers sold their interest in the company The company cooperated with DuPont in pioneering using nylons for undergarments, and the Dunkirk plant manufactured women’s gloves and underwear from Tricot and Milanese, knitted fabric made at the Van Raalte plant in North Tonawanda, and silk stockings. During the Depression the plant suffered economically but contributed enough employment to support many families. When World War II began, the firm went into production of mosquito nettings, parachute flares, and wool gloves for the services. The firm reached national prominence, with corporate offices in New York City, sales offices in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The glove department in Dunkirk was closed in 1963, followed by the closing of the entire plant in 1966.