Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 10 [audio](part 1)

Hagley ID:
  • Doremus' family background in the gunpowder business; Selling to Laflin and Rand and then DuPont; Products made at the Schaghticoke Powder Company
    Partial Transcript: "My grandfather, W. R. Swift, was a papermaker in the little town of Schaghticoke, New York. In that town was a powder mill that had been built to furnish powder for the War of 1812" "...before the powder mill was completed the war was over and the powder mill stayed dormant. This grandfather of mine apparently had some money and ambition, and he bought the powder mill and operated it for a number of years as Swift Powder Mill, then took in partners and then it was Swift and Masters; and later Swift, Bliss, Greeley, and several other names."
    Synopsis: Doremus talks about his family's origins in the gunpowder business. He talks about his family's Dutch and French origins and says that his family company, Schaghticoke Powder Company eventually came under control of Laflin and Rand, then DuPont after they purchased Laflin and Rand in 1902. He details the products made at Schaghticoke Powder Company. He says that the plant ran with electric power starting in 1892. He says that the plant eventually ran under the Hercules Powder Company and ceased production after an explosion around 1914. They sold the land to a real estate agent.
    Keywords: Blasting powder; DuPont; Electricity; Gunpowder; Hercules Powder Company; Laflin and Rand; Schaghticoke, Ny.; Schaghticoke, Powder Company
  • Photographs of Schaghticoke Powder Company; Father's attempts to develop a cleaner shooting powder.
    Partial Transcript: "I have some of those stereoscopic pictures that they used to take, and then I have a number of photographs..."
    Synopsis: Doremus talks about photographs of the powder company. He describes his father's efforts to develop a cleaner shooting black powder which would leave behind less residue than normal powders. He describes his father experimenting in the family kitchen. Doremus says that the superintendent of the powder plant eventually secured the patent for "carbonized pea" powder.
    Keywords: Black powder; Photographs; Schaghticoke Powder Company; Smokeless powder
  • Doremus' biographical details; Early work and career; Making charcoal; Sales; Schagticoke Sporting Powder and Schaghticoke Blasting Powder
    Partial Transcript: I went to the RPI, Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute..."
    Synopsis: Doremus provides some details about his life. He says that he was born in Schaghticoke and attended Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute. He talks about his early working life at the Schaghticoke Powder Company. He talks about his wages and says that he started at $5.00 a month. He says that one of his jobs was to buy the wood used for charcoal at the powder plant. He talks about the charcoal making process. He says that he also sold powder in nearby towns. He talks about how he sold powder and explained that they used circulars, but preferred word of mouth and then shipped their powder by rail or in their own trucks. He talks about how their blasting powders and sporting powders were sold across the country.
    Keywords: Blasting powder; Making charcoal; Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute; Sales; Schaghticoke Powder Company; Schaghticoke, Ny.; Schagticoke Sporting Powder; Wages; Work
  • Gun clubs and promoting powder; Shooting competitions
    Partial Transcript: "I can remember as a boy going to a glass ball shoot, and my father was secretary of a gun club... my father, I don't think ever shot a gun, he was a powder maker..."
    Synopsis: Doremus talks about gun clubs and says that he remembers the clubs being organized by sportsmen not powder companies. He says that he purchased his first gun in 1895 and was a member of several different gun clubs. He talks about when companies started to load their own rounds. He talks about other rifle shooting clubs and shooting and events, but says he specialized in shotguns, not rifles. He says that he is president of the local shooting club.
    Keywords: Black powder; Gun clubs; Guns; Promotions; Remington; Rifles; Rounds; Shotguns; Smokeless powder; Sports; Trap shooting
  • Sales; The invention and importation of smokeless powder; Last major sale of black powder; Cleaning a gun that fired black powder
    Partial Transcript: "That was my induction into the selling game... about 1894 Laflin and Rand got an agency for a German smokeless powder..."
    Synopsis: Doremus talks about selling powder, including a smokeless powder for Laflin and Rand. He talks about competition in the gunpowder industry. Doremus explains what makes black powder smoke, and talks more about his father's efforts to develop a cleaner burning black powder. He talks about how smokeless powder started to replace black powder except for in the south. He says that African Americans could not afford the more expensive smokeless powder. He talks about the last order of black powder he sold to Remington. He describes visiting the Remington offices with T. Coleman du Pont which led to the sale of 7,000 kegs of powder. He says that after the period of 1914-1916 there was little black powder produced and it was most often used in fireworks and ignition primers for the Army and Navy. Doremus explains how gun users would have cleaned their rifles after shooting with black powder that built up in the barrel.
    Keywords: Blackpowder; Cleaning; Competition; Du Pont, T. Coleman (Thomas Coleman), 1863-1930; Fireworks; Gunpowder; Ignition Primers; Laflin and Rand; Sales; Smokeless powder; Troisdorf
  • Going to work for DuPont
    Partial Transcript: "Laflin and Rand had started producing 'Infallible' which was an excellent powder."
    Synopsis: Doremus talks about how he came to work for DuPont after the company acquired Laflin and Rand.
    Keywords: DuPont; Laflin and Rand; Work