The Loop

Club Men

The late Howard Hosmer, a longtime Rochester newspaper and TV journalist, was a grand collector of books. I was fortunate to be the recipient of some editions from him, as an early mentor for my career, and later from his son Geoff, my late brother-in-law.

One of those was a book from the early days of the 20th century. The “Club Men of Rochester in Caricature” was published in 1914 by the Roycrofters in their shop in the Buffalo suburb of East Aurora.

It shows the key men of the times featured in artwork by Jack Sears, director for associated cartoonists, and associate artists. The introduction explains its use of the caricature aims to show the true likeness of the individual.

The book begins with the Honorable Hiram H. Edgerton, mayor of Rochester. The drawings include a bespectacled man holding an unfurled scroll that states “Rochester The City That Makes Conventions Famous.”

Interestingly, a chap who would become just a bit famous locally and globally, George Eastman, does not appear until the sixth individual—he is shown standing with a camera on what appears to be a tripod and in front of, literally, a camera factory—as in built out of cameras. Following George is William Bausch, listed as secretary of Bausch and Lomb Optical Co., driving a car with orphans and a flag stating Orphan’s Annual Christmas Outing.

So who are the luminaries shown ahead of those well-known local businessmen?

No. 2 was Robert M. Searle, vice-president of Rochester Railway and Light Co. and of New York State Railways; No. 3 was Warner Wesley Salmon, president of General Railway Signal Co.; No. 4 was Hiram W. Sibley; and No. 5 James S. Watson, president of Security Trust. Co.

Some—perhaps one out of every half-dozen in the early pages—are familiar, either because of their companies or became some building in Rochester bears their name, but bookwide most have been lost into the past for me.

The caricatures are fantastic and suggest a close knowledge of the subject and some humor. Many of the items accompanying the featured gent on each page, however, have lost their meaning—at least to me.

Many are business owners or officers, but there are attorneys, physicians and scientists as well as political figures and government officials. Interesting is the number of automobile company owners.

Some names likes the Sibleys, Strong, McCurdy and Odenbach draw immediate attention.

The more than 350-page book ends the caricatures with Samuel R. Cornish, secretary and treasurer of Lyell Avenue Lumber Co., who apparently was a hunter and fisherman of some sort—possibly not the most-skilled given the drawings.

According to, similar editions were published in Cleveland, Columbus, Louisville and other cities.

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email [email protected].

The Loop

Cutting the mustard

News this week that spices firm McCormick & Co. had agreed to buy Reckitt Benckiser Group’s food business for $4.2 billion brought to mind a onetime local firm many longtimers here remember well.

The Reckitt’s unit portfolio includes an array of products, but one, French’s mustard, rose to fame here.

The Frenches came from New York City in 1883 and bought a Fairport flour mill, which burned down the following year. The family then relocated the flour mill to Rochester. At this time in history, mustard came in a very hot powder form. The Frenches were responsible for refining and taming the hot, European-style mustard to cater to the American palate.

The brothers worked on their recipes and in 1904 created a milder, ready-to-eat condiment called French’s Cream Salad Mustard.

They showcased this creamy mustard at the St. Louis World’s Fair that year, the same summer the hot dog came onto the scene. The two have been paired ever since.

The company built factories in Rochester in 1912 and in 1922. It employed over 1,000 workers at its peak in 1966, making it the area’s 15th-largest industrial firm.

But alas, the French brothers—George and Francis—did not have any male heirs to take over their company operations. In 1926, they sold it for $3.8 million to the firm now known as Reckitt.

French’s manufacturing operations moved out of Rochester in 1972; the company’s headquarters followed 15 years later, relocating to New Jersey.

The Loop through the years

This year the RBJ marks its 30th anniversary. As part of looking at that milestone, we came across a somewhat dingy green binder that dates back to the first version of this column, the Inner Loop. The binder—years before the web and our digital archive—starts with the Oct. 9, 1992 column. It was compiled then by another Mike—Mike Cosgrove.

The column continued, with different authors, until March 11, 1997. It was relaunched Feb. 3, 2006 and has continued since then. Its return to newsprint began with an item titled “Cash in, bow out.” The segment looked at Tom Golisano’s decision not to run for governor:

“So much for the adage: ‘Follow the money.’ Conventional wisdom pointed to a recent spate of stock sales by Paychex founder and chairman Tom Golisano as evidence of his plan to run for governor. In late December, the billionaire sold 250,600 shares of stock, worth some $9.75 million, SEC documents show. Political pundits and media saw the sales as evidence the self-funded politician was ready to hit the campaign trail again. He proved them all wrong on Tuesday when he declined to run.”

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email [email protected].