Table of Contents
Part I: The Blood Family
Part II: The Blood Factories
Part III: Decline of Bloodville
The evolution of hard edge tool making in the Ballston area closely mirrored the rest of the country. The earliest scythes and axes were made individually by blacksmiths and sold locally, much as Sylvester Blood did for thirty years at his home on Brookline Road. During the mid-1800s, the assembly line was introduced so that workers would be responsible for just one step of tool fabrication. Sylvester’s son Isaiah introduced the assembly line process in the new factories along the Kayaderosseras Creek, thereby increasing production by an order of magnitude. At the end of the century, various industry “trusts” were created that purchased many smaller companies and operated similarly to the conglomerates of today. Often the trusts closed down most of the branch locations and consolidated into a few large factories. The American Axe & Tool Company purchased the Blood factories in 1892. When most of the buildings were destroyed by fire a few years later, the company decided to consolidate operations into its Glassport, Pennsylvania headquarters, so the factories were never rebuilt.
The domestic edge tool business had passed its peak even before American Axe & Tool entered the area. In 1870, axe production started to decline due to the increased use of the crosscut saw. Axes were still used to limb trees, but the important role of the axe was diminished. Likewise the development of farming machinery such as tractors and threshers eliminated the need for hand-held scythes and sickles.
Isaiah Blood did not live to see
these changes in the marketplace. Throughout his lifetime, the
demand for his hard edge tools remained steady, even through
economic recessions that forced many other businesses to idle or
close. Throughout the three decades of Blood’s ownership of the
scythe and axe works, there is no record of worker strikes or
widespread discontent. Dozens of employees spent their entire
working lives in the Bloodville factories.
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