Foamite-Childs Corp.; 1923-1928 - Kearns-Dughie/Foamite-Childs 1923-1928; Foamite-Childs division, American LaFrance Corp., 1928-1929; Foamite-Childs div. American LaFrance, 1929-1987; Elmira, NY
Justus Childs was born in Woodstock, Connecticut on September 21, 1809 to Dolphus and Chloe Jackson Child, and came to Paris, Oneida County, New York in 1831. He resided east of Cassville on the stone road, and was an extensive farmer — his farm being one of the "model farms" in town.
He was a direct sixth generation ancestor of Benjamin Child, who came to America from England about 1630 and died in Roxbury, Mass., in 1678. A valuable family genealogy, published in 1881 by Reverend Elias Child, of Utica, New York gives the unbroken lineage of his descendants, many of whom were prominent in civil, commercial and military life.
He married Betsey Budlong, the daughter of Joseph Budlong, Esq., of Bridgewater, N.Y., on Sept. 21, 1834 and to the blessed union were born 6 children: Sarah Louisa Childs. (b. Nov. 18, 1835 – d. Oct. 20, 1870); Joseph Morris Childs (b. Apr. 17, 1840); Wallace Budlong Childs (b. July 8, 1842-d. 1870); Orlando Justus Childs (b. July 25, 1844); Kate Elizabeth Childs (b. July 10, 1848); and Charles Henry Childs (b. Dec. 26, 1854).
In 1843 Justus served a single term in the State Assembly and in 1857 was elected Supervisor of the Town of Paris for a single term. During the interim he established himself in the manufacture of agricultural implements in the city of Utica, Oneida Co., N. Y. The business grew on his hands to large proportions, taxing his energies to an extent which seriously impaired his health. In the prime of manhood and amid business activities, he fell into a decline which terminated his useful life on May 24, 1868, at the age of 59.
The Utica Observer carried the following tribute following his passing:
"He was gifted with superior intelligence and an excellent constitution; and was characterized by active habits and large business capacity, with marked public spirit. Always one of the most prominent citizens of his town, he was repeatedly its Supervisor, and also represented his district in the State Assembly. In all the relations of life, as well as in an official capacity, his conduct was distinguished by integrity, conscientiousness and good judgment, and his death will be lamented by all who knew him. He leaves a large family, among whom are Messrs. J. M. and W. B. Childs, of Utica, and a large circle of friends, to mourn his loss."
Joseph Morris and Orlando Justus Childs, were the immediate successors of their father in the firm's Fayette St. factory, taking over management of the firm when their father fell ill soon after the start of the Civil War. Wallace Budlong Childs decided against it, electing to attend Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y. where he pursued a law degree, graduating in 1864. Unfortunately his career was short-lived as he passed away in 1870, just two years after his father.
Charles H. Childs, the youngest of the four Childs brothers, joined the firm after the death of his father and for the next decade the three brothers carried on a successful business in both the wholesale distribution and manufacture of numerous agricultural products.
1867 ad – Oneida County directory
"THE ORIGINAL AND ONLY PREMIUM Buckeye Mower & Combined Self-Raking Reaper
In 1871 a line of mowers distributed by Childs was awarded a bronze medal at the State Fair by the New York State Agricultural Society. A description from the catalog follows:
"Graham, Emlen & Passmore, Philadelphia, Pa., by J. M. Childs & Company, Utica, N. Y.; the Philadelphia lawn mower; three sizes hand machines; No. 0, 10 Inches cut, price fifteen dollars; No. 1, fifteen inches cut, twenty-five dollars; No. 2, twenty inches cut, thirty five dollars; two sizes for horse-power; No. 2 ½ , thirty inches cut, seventy-five dollars No. 3, thirty-six inches cut, $150."
1872-1873 Broome and Tioga County Business Directory:
"The Buckeye," J. M. Childs & Co., proprietors, office 10 and 12 Lafayette Street, Utica. It is hardly worth while to discuss the merits of this celebrated Mowing and Reaping Machine, at this late day. So perfect and complete was the Machine as originally invented, that its principles have never been changed. Improvements in parts, it is true have been made, as experience showed them to be requisite. When it is understood that notwithstanding the great number of machines thrown upon the market for public favor, more than 130,000 of the "Buckeyes" have been sold, it will be universally conceded that the majority are in favor of this as a labor saving implement. We will not attempt to detail its merits, but would recommend the reader to call and inspect the machine for himself, or send for a circular to J. M. Childs & Co., Utica. Messrs C. & Co., also keep on hand a full assortment of Agricultural Implements, such as Threshing Machines, Fanning Mills, Horse Rakes, Cultivators, Plows, Cider Mills, &c., &c.
"J.M. Childs & Co: Manufacturers and dealers in all kinds of farming implements : 12 and 14 Fayette Street, Utica, N.Y. : Call and see the best steel plow, and largest variety of implements in the state, 8 page catalog printed by Curtiss & Childs, steam job printers, 167 Genesee St., Utica, N.Y., 1873."
"The VICTORIOUS 'Wisner' IMPROVED was awarded the Gold Medal at the Great National Field Trail near Philadelphia, Pa., 1874, Also AMERICAN INSTITUTE MEDAL, Same Year.
On Dec. 10, 1874 Orlando J. Childs married Ella A. Jones, daughter of Jonathan Jones, a well-known distributor of dairy equipment located in Utica, N.Y. Soon afterward he sold his interest in the family firm to his brothers, entering into a partnership with his brother-in-law, Frank Jones, under the name of Childs & Jones, successor to Jonathan Jones & Co., embarking on a successful career as dealers in dairy apparatus and general hardware at 84 Genesee St., Utica, New York.
The withdrawal of Orlando from the family firm caused a reorganization of J.M. Childs & Co. with J. Morris Childs the senior, and Charles H. Childs, the junior partner.
The 1883 Oneida County Directory included the following Childs entries:
CHILDS CHARLES H. (J. M. Childs & Co. 12 to 18 Fayette), r Butterfield House
A chromolithograph advertising card dated 1884 depicts a woman riding a hay dump rake pulled by a tiger, text as follows: "Wisner's Tiger Sulky Hay Rake, 'the King of Rakes' manufactured for J.M. Childs & Co., Utica, NY."
After many years of success in the dairy supply business Orlando J. Childs became enamored with the chemical fire extinguisher, a revolutionary product invented by two local inventors.
In late 1899 Childs organized the O.J. Childs Co. in order to take over the business of the Utica Fire Extinguisher Co., the manufacturer of the Utica chemical extinguisher, an early chemical fire extinguisher designed by William C. Pomfret and Thomas B. Keating. Originally filed on January 16, 1896, the device was awarded US Patent number 588,055 on August 10, 1897 and assigned to the Utica Fire Extinguisher Co.
The following ad appeared in the 1898 Delaware, Lackawanna &a Western R.R. directory:
"The Best Hand Chemical Fire Extinguisher in the World.
September 1901 issue of Municipal Journal & Engineer:
The Utica fire extinguisher is one of the best on the market. It has been endorsed by the Boston Manufacturers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company as thoroughly reliable. It is manufactured by the O. J. Childs Company, 48 Liberty street, Utica, N. Y."
April 4, 1908 Street Railway Journal:
"A hand fire extinguisher which has been adopted widely for electric cars and which possesses a number of novel features is illustrated in the accompanying engraving. It is manufactured by the O. J. Childs Company, of Utica, N. Y. An important feature of the extinguisher is that it has a stop cock outlet in the cap and the lever that opens and closes this stop cock also operates the stopper which corks the bottle of acid. In other words, when the stop cock is shut off, the stopple is held firmly in the bottle, and the liquid securely in the machine until its use is required.
"When the stop cock is opened the stopple is lifted away from the bottle and allows the chemicals to mix when the extinguisher is inverted. This construction is considered especially desirable in the case of an extinguisher to be carried on cars where the device will be subject to a certain amount of rattle and shaking, and where the acid bottle should be kept tightly closed until the extinguisher is to be used. A hose can be employed or not as desired. Among the electric railway companies which are users of this extinguisher are the Utica & Mohawk Valley, the electrified section of the West Shore Railroad the Auburn & Syracuse Electric Railway, the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway and the Indianapolis & Eastern Railway.
"The same manufacturers make the Childs Approved 3-gal. extinguisher for the protection of buildings, and among the companies which are using this extinguisher are the Detroit United Electric Railway Company, which has some 500; the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, which has 700; the Metropolitan Street Railway Company, which has 575, and the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Company, which has 112."
Their listing in the 1908 Motor Cyclopedia Directory follows:
"Childs Co., O. J.—48-50 Liberty St., Utica, N. Y. Mfrs. fire extinguishers. Est. 1896. O. J. Childs, Pres.
October 3, 1910 Electric Traction Weekly:
"UTICA FIRE EXTINGUISHER - A fire extinguisher forms a valuable item of apparatus for an interurban car. Defective wiring, overheated motors and bearings frequently start fires which are difficult to extinguish, especially when a car is in the country. The Utica No. 7 fire extinguisher illustrated herewith is designed especially for railroad service. The particular feature of the extinguisher is that it has a stop-cock outlet in the cap, and by shutting off this stop-cock the passage to the nozzle is closed and also the stopple is held firmly in the bottle, so that the acid cannot mix with the liquid. To operate it, the stopcock is opened and the extinguisher turned upside down. In the accompanying cut, A is the lever handle to the stop-cock, and E is the lead stopple. The face of this is beveled and ground to a true surface, making a tight joint with the top of the lip of the bottle, which is also ground. The bottle cage is made of bronze in one piece with the top. This cage and the inside working parts of the stop-cock, as well as the inside of the tank, are thickly coated with a lead mixture to prevent corrosion. The packing, B, around the stem of the stop-cock prevents leakage if any liquid should get through the joint at C, which, however, is ground true and should make a perfect joint. The strainer D is over the outlet from the tank.
September 5, 1912 Municipal Journal:
"Syracuse Gets Combination Hose Wagon.
September 1913 Safety Engineering:
"SOME OF THE EXHIBITS AT THE FIRE CHIEFS' CONVENTION.
Childs saw an opportunity in producing ready-made chemical tank equipped truck bodies to rural fire departments and in March 1918, acquired the services of L. C. Smith, formerly superintendent and secretary, American La France Fire Engine Co., Elmira, N.Y.
By the late teens Childs had sales outlets scattered across the country as evidenced by the following display ad published in the June 1920 issue of American City:
"Fire Equipment — For Any Chassis
February 1920 American City:
"Town Fire Apparatus
July 1920 American City:
"The Latest Development in Light Weight Fire Apparatus
1921 - W.J. Childs, ME Cornell University 1898, is president of the O.J. Childs Co., Utica, NY.
August 1922 Automobile Dealer & Repairer:
"Consolidation of Fire Extinguisher Companies
Their neighbors just happened to be Utica's classic-era coachbuilders, Willoughby & Co., which was located just around the corner on Dwyer Ave. The Childs' plant, now demolished, was located just north of the 250,000 sq. ft. Savage Arms factory (later Sperry-Univac) on Turner St.
KEARNS (US) 1909-1928 (bodies by Foamite-Childs Corp of Utica, N.Y)
(1) Kearns Motor Car Co., Beavertown, Pa. 1909-1912 (2) Kearns MotorTruck Co., Beavertown, Pa.1912-1920 (3) Kearns-Dughie Corp., Danville, Pa.1920-1928
The Kearns automobile was a high-wheeler introduced in 1907. The first truck, a brewery wagon, was built in 1909. The high-wheelers, built until 1913, were powered by a 3-cylinder 2.stroke air-cooled Speedwell engine and had a friction transmission, dual chain drive, and wheel steering. In 1912, when water-cooling was optional, the 1500.pound truck cost $900 for the chassis.
In 1914 a standard truck with 20 hp 4.cylinder watercooled engine, cone clutch, 3-speed transmission, and Hotchkiss drive was introduced. It cost $1175 for the chassis. A few touring cars were built on the truck chassis in 1915. The firm also built the LuLu cyclecar in 1914.
Post war models included a ¾ ton model with Lycoming engine and 1½ ton model with Herschell-Spillman (later Continental) engine. The trucks, priced at $850 and $1800, had dry plate clutches and internal gear drive.
After the move to Danville the firm specialized in the manufacture of fire engine chassis which carried bodies and equipment by the Foamite-Childs Corp of Utica, N.Y. and were sold under the name of Childs Thoroughbred. In addition a complete line of worm-drive trucks from one to five tons was offered until the factory was closed down in 1928.
June 1920 Automobile Manufacturer:
"Kearns-Dughie Motors Corporation, Heavertown. Pa., has been incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000 to manufacture automobile motors, parts, etc. M. V. Dughie, Lewistown, is treasurer."
Charles M. Kearns, general manager, Kearns-Dughie Motors Corporation, Danville, Pa
R.E. Beaver, engineer and superintendent, Kearns-Dughie Motors Co.
October 1920 Motor Record:
"Kearns-Dughie Motors Co., Beavertown, Pa., has moved its plant and main offices to Danville, Pa."
March 15. 1922 The Commercial Vehicle:
"Danville, Pa, March 2—The Kearns-Dughie Motors Corp. announces a reduction in its model "H" 1-ton chassis from $1,600 to $1,150 and its model "M" 2-ton chassis from $2,200 to $1,650. The price of its model "H" chassis complete with its standard hand-made post express body is $1,360."
April 15, 1922 The Commercial Vehicle:
"Two Kearns Models Of 1 and 2-Ton Capacities Powered with Same Size and Make of Engine
"Kearns-Dughie Motor Corporation, Danville, Pa., announces the purchase of all assets of the Belmont Motors Corporation, Lewistown, Pa., which includes machinery, trucks and plant. The plant thus acquired has 70000 sq.ft. of floorspace."
Kearns Dughie chassis were also used by the Buffalo Fire Apparatus Co as the basis for some of their early Buffalo-badged fire trucks.
North Beach's first engine was a 1927 STUDEBAKER/FOAMITE-CHILDS. It also mentions that they used a Chemical-Hose truck loaned to them from FOAMITE-CHILDS while they were waiting for delivery of the 1927 STUDEBAKER.
Childs built many pieces of apparatus on Model T Ford chassis.
A 1914 Federal-OJ Childs chemical engine exists formerly in service with the Norwich, and Oxford, N.Y. Fired Depts.
A 1922 Reo-Childs engine exists, formerly in service with the Manlius, N.Y. FD.
In 1923 the Foamite Firefoam Company and O.J. Childs Co. merged to form the Foamite Childs Corporation. They began building chemical cars and pumpers, and in the late 1920s introduced their custom chassis, known as Child's Thoroughbreds.
Mr. Kimball was successively assistant hydraulic engineer at Underwriters' Laboratories in Chicago, chief engineer of the former O.J. Childs Co., and assistant general sales manager of the Foamite-Childs Corp.
The "Childs" motor pick-up street sweeper, is announced in a 4-page pamphlet issued by the Foamite-Childs Corp., Utica, NY This sweeper is said to be of low initial and maintenance cost, durable, of one-man convenience, quiet,
New Motor Pick-Up Street Sweeper. A new motor pick-up street sweeper has been brought out by the... Large rear broom so designed that "Childs" Motor Pick-Up Sweeper. wear automatically shortens distance between broom and conveyor....
In 1923, the Foamite-Childs Corp. designed a Pick-Up Motor Street Sweeper. This one-man device combined a sprinkler machine, a sweeper, and a disposal hopper mounted on a motor vehicle chassis. The water sprinkling system used gravity and was announced to the trade in the Jun 15, 1923 Commercial Car Journal:
"Childs Motor Pick-up Street Sweeper
January 1924 Popular Mechanics:
"Pick-up Street Sweeper is Motor Driven
1924 American City:
"Childs Sweepers delivered to New York City
"This new model motor pick-up street sweeper which has recently been put on the Canadian market by Foamite-Childs of Canada Ltd., 90 Jarvis Street, Toronto, is shown in the accompanying illustration."
1925 Foamite Childs Corp. "Childs" Motor Pick-Up Street Sweepers, 631 Turner St. Utica, NY
"Change in Sales Managers at Foamite-Childs
July 26, 1926 Simpson's Leader-Times (Kittanning, Pa.):
"Ford City, July 26.—Tests of a fire truck manufactured by the Foamite Childs Corporation, Utica, N. Y., were given here Saturday afternoon and evening. The truck was being taken from Utica to Pittsburg for a demonstration and as the company had submitted a bid to the borough for a 600 gallon pumper a stop was made here for a demonstration.
Originally located on Liberty Street, the company moved to Bleecker and Turner streets after World War I. In 1926, Foamite-Childs was acquired by the American-LaFrance Corp of Elmira, New York and production of chemical apparatus transferred to Elmira.
Under the direction of W.J. Childs, the firm's Utica operations were reorganized as O.J. Childs Inc., which continued to supply regional fired departments with custom-built apparatus into 1933 as evidenced by an ad in a 1933 issue of the Commercial Car Journal:
"Sell Motor Fire Apparatus to Your Cities and Towns
Time Magazine - Monday, Nov. 26, 1934:
"Business was slow the last year of the Civil War but Truckson La France of Elmira, N. Y. had an idea. He put on his best bowler and went to call on the rich Diven family. "I've perfected a rotary fire engine," he announced. "I want money to make it with." With a snort Old Man Diven gave him the money. Inventor La France made his first fire engine in an old brick house, sold it to Elmira. It was enough to scare the horses, but it had two lines of hose and only one weakness. The cams on the pumps wore down, refused to deliver the pressure. Firemen fixed that by pouring molasses over the cams. For years a jug of molasses was regular equipment on the old "La France."
1933 Commercial Car Journal display ad:
"Sell Motor Fire Apparatus to Your Cities and Towns Sell Them Your Truck Equipped With Childs Apparatus Profit for You and an Advertisement of Great Value WRITE US FOR PARTICULARS AND CATALOGUE O.J. CHILDS CO., Inc. UTICA, N.Y."
No further information has been locate and its assumed the firm retired from business shortly therafter.
© 2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com
|For more information please read:
Elias Child - Genealogy of the Child, Childs and Childe families, of the past and present in the United States and the Canadas, from 1630 to 1881, pub. 1881
Henry C. Rogers – History of the Town of Paris and the Valley of the Sauquoit; pub. 1881
Henry J. Cookinham - History of Oneida County, New York : from 1700 to the present time: pub. 1912
Charles H. Young and William A Quinn - Foundation For Living: The Story of Charles Stewart Mott and Flint, pub. 1963
O.J. Childs Co. - Which protects your property? The inefficient, risky, doubtful water pail, or the safe, sure, reliable "Childs" extinguisher? - 6pp., pub. 1920
O.J. Childs Co. - When seconds count: a brief description of the powerful "Childs Chemical Fire Engines. 6pp., pub. 1920
Donald F. Wood, Wayne Sorensen - Big City Fire Trucks: Volume 1; 1900-1950
Business & Finance: La France - Time Magazine - Monday, Nov. 26, 1934
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