www.cortlandhistory.com
In This Issue
Lunch & Learn Returns!
Join us for a whole new round of topics beginning in April. Here are the dates for now, topics will be announced soon! 
April 12, 19, and 26
May 3, 10, and 17

All programs will be on Wednesdays and run from 12:10-12:50pm.
Temporary Hours
We are test driving new hours from January until April. If they are successful, we will continue beyond April.
Tuesday         1-5pm
Wednesday   1-7pm
Thursday       1-5pm
Friday            1-5pm
Saturday   10am-2pm


Adventures in Time Story Hour
Saturday 2/18
10 am

Join CCHS and our special guest reader, Katie Keyser as we explore historic transportation.

Aimed at children 5 - 9, but all are welcome.
February 17, 2017 

This month, we are featuring Preble, one of the original six towns of Cortland County. When Cortland County was formed in 1808, Preble was carved from Tully. Most of the towns in the Military Tract were given names from Greek and Roman heroes, but Preble was named after Commodore Edward Preble. Commodore Preble was a United States naval hero in the war with Tripoli in 1803-1804.

Best Wishes,

Mindy and Tabitha
Photograph of the Month
Preble Mineral Development Co., 1907



Worked in the swamp cutting timber and harvesting marl (a substance used as a fertilizer)

Artifact of the Month
Account book of blacksmith James Segar

From the inside cover: "Steal not this book for fear of shame for in it stands the owner's name"

James Segar's account book covers a period from 1812-1828 and contains the names of many early Preble settlers. Segar did a great deal of business with people in the area and often his payment was in the form of barter.

From the Pages
J.K. Henderson

This ad from J.K. Henderson is from the "Cortland County Review, 1915."
Biography
Preble Kraut Farms
By Tabitha Scoville
 
At one time, cabbage and sauerkraut were a way of life for many farmers in Preble. Cabbage was an important cash crop that was typically grown as a source of extra income. While cabbage was typically around $5 a ton during the 1940s, an overabundance of cabbage in 1941 saw cabbage at a low price of $2.50 a ton. Just a year later in 1942, a scarcity of cabbage drove the price up to $80 a ton.
 
Preble has an ideal climate and perfect soil for cabbage crops. According to an article written by former Preble historian Dorothy Rofe, the first acre of cabbage was planted in Preble in 1885 by Perry Haynes. That cabbage was then sold door-to-door in Cortland County. The first boxcar load shipped from Preble to Scranton in 1890. In time, Preble farmers sent cabbage seed to farmers in Maryland to start the seeds in a more moderate climate and then the seedlings were sent back to Preble to be planted.
 
Sauerkraut is an amazingly simple product. It requires only salt, water, and time to change cabbage into sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is aged anywhere from two months to one year. This is a pickling process called lacto-fermentation and when done, sauerkraut can be kept for months in the right conditions. The sauerkraut industry in Preble arose because of cabbage farming. The crop had the potential to secure extra funds for the farming families, but they also turned tons of cabbage into sauerkraut for their own consumption. Families had large vats in their basements for this purpose. As more farms became specialized, the opportunity arose for the sauerkraut industry to evolve from a small household activity to larger enterprises.  Around 1929, Snow White Kraut, Inc. was founded by Robert D. Knapp and Carl L. Allen, but was in business for only two years due to poor cabbage crops. Preble Produce was started in 1946 by Louis Kaplan and Harry Resnick. Another sauerkraut plant opened in Preble in 1958 that was called Victor Kraut. Victor Kraut had other facilities and eventually merged with Preble Produce in 1960. Sauerkraut was sold as "Cortland Valley Kraut" and "Victor Kraut." These plants were family owned and operated. They relied on local help and purchased most of their cabbage locally. The facilities where sauerkraut was made were modernized in the 1970s and largely mechanized. In 1983, Victor Kraut was bought out by a much larger company, Comstock. At this time Comstock owned five sauerkraut plants in New York. They would close both the Preble and Phelps plants in 1988. At the time when Preble Produce began business in 1946, the facility had 13 vats for preparation of sauerkraut. When it was closed as Comstock in 1988, the plant had 31 vats. There was a tremendous amount of growth in the business over time before declining production and the ultimate cessation of this industry.
 
Cabbage was a niche market that paved the way for an important industry for Cortland County. With all of the interest in unusual foods, heirloom varieties, and a growing agri-tourism industry in Cortland County, perhaps cabbage and sauerkraut will make a comeback. 


Genealogy Tool Test Drive
The Accidental Genealogist
Have you ever wondered how you became the family historian or genealogist? It seems to be a role that just falls to certain people, sometimes because they are interested and sometimes by default. This month we are sharing a blog rather than a "tool" you can use directly in your research. Mindy and I had the opportunity to see Lisa Alzo at a conference last year, and she is a wonderful source of genealogical resources. Her blog, "The Accidental Genealogist" is a place you can find tools to help you in your role as the family genealogist. There is an e-newsletter you can sign up for to learn even more information about researching your family history. 
  The Accidental Genealogist

Cortland County Historical Society | | [email protected] | http://www.cortlandhistory.com
25 Homer Avenue
Cortland, NY 13045