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1888 Advertising Cover from Rochester "Flower City" New York

This advertising cover was sent on December 17, 1888, from Rochester, New York to Cobbleskill (or Cobleskill), New York, a small town about 195 miles east and a bit south of Rochester. The cover is franked with a pair of 1-cent stamps - US Scott catalog #206 - to cover the 2-cent postage rate for a letter in 1888.


The letter was sent from Chase Brothers Nurseries, which was organized in Rochester in 1868 by brothers Lewis (Figure 3) and Ethan (Figure 4) Chase. Lewis and Ethan were born in Chase Mills, Maine in 1830 and 1832, respectively. They started a nursery there in 1857 with their brother Martin before relocating to Rochester.


Rochester was home to more than 20 nurseries and earned the moniker "Flower City" in the post-Civil War years. By 1887, Chase Brothers was one of the largest, employing 200 people at peak season, shipping half a million dollars of nursery products, and owning the largest brokerage house in the nursery business. The last vestige of Chase Brothers ceased operations in 1956.[i]


Based on census data. Lewis and Ethan were engaged in the nursery business until their deaths. Lewis passed away in 1911 at age 81 and was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Rochester. Ethan moved to California in 1891 and organized the National Orange Company there with his sons in 1891. He died in 1921 at age 89 in Riverside, California. In his obituary he was hailed as "an authority on the culture of citrus fruits" and that his citrus "plantation at Corona is one of the show places of southern California."[ii]


The letter was addressed to "W D Worden" care of "C H Shaver," Cobleskill, New York. I found several Worden's who lived in upper New York State, but none that fits the bill.


Charles H. Shaver (Figure 5), on the other hand, lived a well-documented life.[iii] He was born around Albany in 1827, and by 1852 he was living and doing business in Cobleskill. When he first arrived, he purchased an existing mercantile business and started a coal exchange. He opened a hardware store in the early 1860s and ran that business until the early 1890s. That was probably the business to which this letter was delivered. He also organized the First National Bank of Cobleskill and served as its president. He died suddenly - from a heart attack or stroke - in early 1896 at age 69. In his obituary, he was described as "one of the best known businessmen in Schoharie County, a man of sterling integrity and enjoying the esteem of the community."[iv] He was survived by his wife and four children. His remains were buried at the Cobleskill Rural Cemetery.


[ii] Bakersfield Morning Echo, October 11, 1921.

[ii] Historical Souvenir of Cobleskill, N.Y., E.L. Welch, 1895, p. 10.

[iv] The Post-Star, Glen Falls, NY, February 7, 1896.


Figure 1 - Front

Figure 2 - Back

Figure 3 - Lewis Chase

Figure 4 - Ethan Chase

Figure 5 - Charles H. Shaver


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