Sand Slinger, Symington-Gould, 1943 Buffalo, NY Business History on the Web
Cynthia Van Ness
Return to Made in Buffalo

A gentle reminder: the internet may never be a good place to research defunct pre-computer companies, mainly because many businesses routinely come and go without leaving a paper trail to digitize.  Companies often destroy outdated records rather than maintain expensive storage space or risk having them fall into competitors' hands.

The links below represent less than1% of Buffalo's commercial and industrial history. Preference is given to links for defunct firms and for surviving companies that date back to before the Great Depression.

Sorely lacking is much online material about Buffalo's rich labor history. Please contact us if you know of Buffalo labor history websites.

Links are sorted into the following categories

Arts & Entertainment
Commercial Services
Food & Drink
Hardware & Tools
Health & Medicine
Iron & Steel
Raw Materials
Various/More Than One
Arts & Entertainment
Monuments, Music, Photography, Stained Glass, Theater

Buffalo Area Church Stained Glass Manufacturers

Charles Viner Organ Company

Denton, Cottier & Daniels 75th Anniversary in English and German

Denton, Cottier & Daniels--the world's oldest Steinway piano dealer still has a music store

McDonnell & Sons Memorials--the full text of a ca. 1910 catalog by the granite monument company

The Old Curiosity Shop: McDonnell & Sons Monument Company by the author of this website

Photographers 1855-1881, Buffalo New York--a list of names & addresses

When Buffalo Was the Melodeon Capital of the World--about the George A. Prince Melodeon company. Originally published in the Winter 1997 issue of Western New York Heritage Magazine

Commercial Services
Banking, Deliveries, Insurance, Law

Fidelity Trust Co. of Buffalo--a full text pamphlet about their services from 1922

New York Bank History--an alphabetical index of banks in NY State with a short chronology of each bank's history

Spaulding's Penny Post--an early private mail delivery service

Food & Drink
Agriculture, Breweries, Farms, Grain, Groceries, Public Markets, Restaurants, Taverns

Bars of Buffalo: A Photo Essay by Karl Josker

Beer, Breweries, and Breweriana of Upstate New York

Breweries, Temperance & Prohibition in Buffalo, NY--a list of items in the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society

Broadway Market--dates back to at least 1890

Buffalo Foods is an online ordering service for many beloved Buffalo edibles

Buffalo Pitts manufactured all kinds of agricultural equipment

Dairy Stations & Factories, Erie County--a list from 1916.  Be sure to see pp. 1158-1160

Deco Restaurants

Excise Certificate Holders, Erie County, 1918--this is a nifty list of saloon/tavern owners & liquor dealers on the eve of Prohibition.  See pp. 63-102.

Fowler's Chocolates--in business in Buffalo since 1901

Grain Elevators in Buffalo, NY--a list of items in the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society

Grain Elevators: Buffalo's Lost Industry

History of Brewing in Tonawanda, 1867-1948

Menus from the Miss Frank E. Buttolph Collection--includes the Statler and a few other prominent Buffalo restaurants, care of the New Yorkj Public Library

Hardware & Tools
Instruments, Machinery, Office Supplies, Tool & Die

Barcalo--had a little-known tool division in addition to its furniture factory

Buffalo Forge, 1877-1952

Buffalo Pitts
--steam engine manufacturer

Buffalo PharGo--started out in 1891 as Buffalo Belting and Weaving

Farrer & Trefts 1870s Engine Restoration

McKaig-Hatch, Inc.--makers of pliers & wrenches

Remington Rand Presents its Solution for Congested Offices--a filing cabinet catalog from ca. 1935

Spencer Lens Company was founded in Geneva, NY but later moved to Buffalo

Spencer Lens Company/American Optical--a history from the Optical Heritage Museum on Buffalo to find over a dozen vintage woodworking toolmakers and steam engine makers with a Buffalo connection

Health & Medicine
Hospitals, Pharmaceuticals


Buffalo State Hospital records, 1881-1920 and 1920-1975 are in the New York State Archives

Dr. Pierce's Hospital and Patent Medicine Empire

Early Buffalo Medicine Bottles--a four-part series with photos, drawings, and descriptions of patent medicines and their makers

History of the Comstock Patent Medicine Business and Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills

Western New York Hospitals--a list of some past and present institutions compiled by genealogist Katharine M. Kopp

Appliances, Dry Goods, Furniture, Garments, Interior Decoration, Kitchenware

Ball Brothers--the popular glass jar company was founded in Buffalo and moved to Muncie

Birge Wallpaper Company--includes recollections by an artist on the staff

Birge Wallpaper--search the wallpaper database of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities to see some Birge designs

Buffalo Pottery/China--now named Niagara Ceramics and still made in Buffalo

George N. Pierce Co. Illustrated Catalogue of Refrigerators, Ice Chests--the 1893 catalogue is online in full text

Jewett & Root--their 1868 brochure promoting the "Ventilator" stove is online in full text

Kittinger Furniture Company is being revived

Kittinger Company--according to Wikipedia

Larkin Company: A Brief History and John D. Larkin

Larkin Company: Selected Items in the Collection of the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society

Sikes Furniture Co.

Iron & Steel
Foundries, Forges, Coke Ovens

Bethlehem Steel--its records are in the Hagley Museum in Delaware.  Here is more of what they have.

Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna, NY

Bethlehem Steel Maps & Photos--undated, unsigned, and untitled website with a bunch of pop-ups, but some good pictures

Buffalo Forge & Howard Iron Works--makers of fire hydrants

Lackawanna Steel Company and Buffalo and Susquehanna Iron Company--reproduced verbatim from "A History of the City of Buffalo," published by the the Buffalo Evening News, 1908

Pratt & Letchworth--as descibed in the New York Times, 1872

Steel Plant a Certainty, from the Buffalo Evening News, December 30, 1899

Steel Plant Museum--honoring the workers of Bethlehem and Republic Steel

Employees, Strikes, Trade Unions, Workers

Buffalo Newspaper Guild History

Buffalo Police Then and Now--includes a small number of vintage newspaper clippings, names of officers killed in the line of duty, pictures of vehicles and badges, and more.

Erie Railroad Employee Rosters

Greater Buffalo Industrial Union Council--their records, 1937-1958, are in the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives at Cornell University. This page describes the collection, which must be used in person.

Labor Matters: A Tribute to Auto Workers

Steel Plant Museum, honoring the workers of Bethlehem and Republic Steel

US Railroad Retirement Board--Buffalo was the nation's second largest rail center and railroads were our largest industry at one time. The US Railroad Retirement Board was founded in 1936 and may have pension records for those employed by the railroads on or after that date.

Working in the Elevators: The Grain Scoopers

Books, Films, Magazines, Motion Pictures, Newspapers, Publishers, Radio, Television

American Bookbinders Museum--search on Buffalo to find 23 bookbinders listed in Buffalo city directories & other sources

American Type Founders Company--their 1897 catalog of typefaces is online in full text

Beadle & Adams--an online history of the early dime-novel publishing house, which was founded in Buffalo ca. 1850

Buffalo Broadcasters Association--preserving the sights and sounds of Buffalo's rich radio and television heritage

Courier-Express Newspaper--its archives are in Butler Library at Buffalo State College

William S. Hein & Co., Inc--the legal publishing house traces their origins back to the 1920s

Raw Materials
Building Materials, Chemicals, Lumber, Minerals

Bricks and Terra Cotta--a guide to makers in the Buffalo area

Chemical Companies Historical Index--a list of companies in NY state, arranged geographically by city

Historical Register of Chemical Companies in NY State--scroll down for Buffalo

National Aniline & Chemical Co.

National Gypsum Company Annual Reports--1939-1941 are online courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania

Automobiles, Bicycles, Boats, Buses, Canals, Planes, Railroads,Trains

Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields in the Buffalo Area--features maps and aerial photos

American Ship Building Company--had shipbuilding facilities in Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, and elsewhere on the Great Lakes

American Steamship Co.

Aerospace Industry in Buffalo

Bell Aircraft--records from the Buffalo plant are at the Lawrence D. Bell Museum in Indiana. 

Buffalo as a Rail Center--an essay about Buffalo railroad history

Buffalo Car Works--makers of wooden railway cars starting in 1853

Buffalo Gasolene Motor Co.

Directory of Airplanes--searchable database of manufacturers and models, brought to you by the Smithsonian Institution

Erie Canal--a thorough link collection

Erie Canal--the records of the planning, design, construction, administration, expansion, and maintenance of the Erie & Barge canals are in the New York State Archives

Erie Railroad Employee Rosters

Farrell-Birmingham--an architectural reconaissance survey and history of a lost building at the Tonawanda Engine Plant

Great Lakes Vessels Online Index--search on Buffalo and Black Rock to get lists of the many boats built here. Images are available in some cases.

How Western New York Gave Wings to the World--early aviation history

Maritime History of the Great Lakes has a lot of Buffalo content, including material about local shipping companies and shipbuilders

Pierce-Arrow Sixes--a catalog from 1911-1912

Pierce-Arrow Society

Pierce Bicycles--a 17-page sales catalog from  around 1915

US Railroad Retirement Board--Buffalo was the nation's second largest rail center and railroads were our largest industry at one time. The US Railroad Retirement Board was founded in 1936 and may have pension records for those employed by the railroads on or after that date.

Western NY Has Fueled Auto Industry Growth--early automobile industry history from Business First of Buffalo

Western New York Railroad Archive--not an actual archive with company records, but a site by a rail history buff with some memorabilia and transcribed newspaper articles

Coal, Electricity, Gas, Water

The Day They Turned The Falls On: The Invention Of The Universal Electrical Power System--a lengthy article about the origins of electricity from Niagara Falls

Early Electrification of Buffalo--a 14-part series 

Frances G. Ward Pumping Station

Various/More Than One
Directories and businesses of different kinds listed together

Annual statement of the trade and commerce of Buffalo for the year 1855, together with a review of the general business of the city--full text of the 44-page book

Authorized Federally Funded WWII Industries--This compilation contains company names and plant locations for industrial facilities built or expanded in NY State during World War II at a cost of over $50,000 each from U.S. government funds. It is derived from a larger list that includes privately-funded plant expansions authorized, but not financed by, the United States. The authorizations cover the time period from July 1940 through August 1945 as reported by the Civilian Production Administration in 1946.

Blue Book of Buffalo Commerce
--the 1920 membership directory of the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce

Buffalo Business Directory, 1855--online in full text

Buffalo in 1860 as described in French's Gazetteer--includes descriptions of manufacturing and commerce before the Civil War

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership (our Chamber of Commerce) has a searchable directory of member businesses online

Buffalo Online City Directories--a good selection of mid-19th century Buffalo city directories are online and searchable by company or personal names

Buffalo to-day, industrial and commercial--a 1909 guide to businesses and manufacturers

Buffalo's East Side Working Group--has lists, pictures, and descriptions of businesses, saloons, theaters, hotels, photographers, etc., on Buffalo's east side

Business Records from Buffalo, NY Companies--a list of collections in the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society

Commerce, Manufactures & Resources of Buffalo and Environs--published in 1880 and features short descriptions of a lot of companies

Companies based in Buffalo--a list of past & present businesses from Wikipedia

Companies in Erie County, 1898--these short company histories are transcribed from Our County and Its People,  edited by Truman C. White (Boston History Company, 1898).

Federally Funded WWII Industries--This listing includes industrial plants and plant sites purchased, constructed or acquired in NY State by the United States government for World War II production. The properties included on this list were identified through several sources, including voluminous card files and publications of the Defense Plant Corporation. Many facilities in this group will duplicate entries in the "authorized" list above.

Five Minutes' Talk about the Commerce, Industries and Resources of Buffalo--a full text promotional pamphlet from 1882

History of American Manufactures from 1608 to1860--the classic compendium is online in full text

Lost Buffalo features color pictures of things that aren't there anymore

Made In Buffalo, a site with the same name as mine allows you to purchase popular products currently being produced here

Manufacturing Interests of the City of Buffalo--this 1866 book is online in full text

Obsolete American Securities and Corporations--published in 1904, this functions as a guide to buyouts and other reasons for a company's demise.  Several Buffalo firms are included.

Didn't see your company listed?
That's because no one has created a website about it, or if they did, I have not yet discovered  it. Remember, the past is not online.

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Copyright © 1999-2011 by Cynthia Van Ness, all rights reserved. This website may not be reproduced without the author's permission. This page was last modified 17 July 2011.  Return to