McKinley & Smack / Clinton Foundry

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McKinley & Smack
Clinton Foundry
502 Water St. N. Y.

Robert Smack & Co. were described as follows in History and Commerce of New York, Second Edition, 1891, published by the American Publishing and Engraving Co., 149-151 Church Street, New York, "Robert Smack & Co., Machinery and Ship Castings, Etc., Clinton Foundry, Nos. 502 and 504 Water Street, near Rutgers Slip. - The extent to which all descriptions of heavy machinery and castings are manufactured in this city makes it a prominent source of supply for large sections of the country, and the principal point for foreign shipments. The facilities are unsurpassed for the execution of repairs, and steamships which have been disabled can here be put in thorough order with the least possible delay. A well-known firm engaged in the manufacture of machinery and castings is that of Messrs. Robert Smack & Co., proprietors of the Clinton Foundry, which is located at Nos. 502 and 504 Water Street, near Rutgers Slip. The office of the firm is at No. 237 Cherry Street. The foundry is 50 x 200 in area, supplied with steam-power and thoroughly equipped in every respect. The production includes ship castings, such as screws and steamer shafts of any size; also loam and dry sand castings of every description. About fifty workmen are employed, aided by the best modern mechanical appliances, and the heaviest castings are turned out very expeditiously. The firm are also prepared to build all kinds of heavy machinery and to execute repairs. The business of this concern was established in 1860, when the firm was McKinly [sic] & Smack. In 1886 the firm style became Robert Smack & Co. Mr. Smack was born in this city, and although considerably past middle age is still actively devoted to business matters."

This scenario seems to be only slightly inaccurate. McKinley & Smack appears in New York city directors in 1856 and continues through 1885. Robert Smack & Co. then continues at the addresses 502-504 Water St. and 237-241 Cherry St. through 1902.

The founder, William McKinley (1823?-?), is recorded in the U. S. Census of 1870, age 47, born New York, living in Brooklyn's 21st Ward. He lived with his wife, Mary, and four children, John R. 16, Ella G. 9, Grace 6, and William 2. In 1880 the same William McKinley, age 56, born New York, Iron Founder, lived at 331 Gates Ave., Brooklyn. His family consisted of his wife, Mary Jane 54, and the same four children, now John R. 26, a clerk to a stock broker, Ella J. 19, Grace 16, and William 12. William McKinley appears in New York city directories in the early 1840s as a moulder living at 8 Columbia St. and later at 219 Cherry St. The first listing for McKinley & Smack in 1856 has William McKinley living at 219 Cherry St.

Robert Smack (1825?-1898) can be traced through the three successive U. S. Census reports of 1860, 1870 and 1880. In 1860 he was 33, born in New York, a moulder, and lived in Manhattan's 10th Ward, District 2. His wife, Rebecca, was born in Pennsylvania, and they had three children, John 8, Samuel 4 and Sarah 2. In 1870 Robert Smack was 45 years old, born New York, lived near his partner, William McKinley, in Brooklyn's 21st Ward. His family consisted, as earlier, of his wife Rebecca, sons, John 17 and Samuel 13, and daughter Sarah 11. A second daughter, Ella 8, had joined them, as had Rebecca Smack's mother, Sarah Whiteside, and Rebecca's sister, Margaret Whiteside. In 1880 Smack lived next door to his partner, William McKinley, at 333 Gates Ave., Brooklyn. Smack was now 54 years old, and the family consisted of his wife and two daughters, his mother-in-law and sister-in-law, but the sons lived elsewhere. Smack died, age 74, 28 Dec. 1898, still living at 333 Gates Ave., Brooklyn.

After Robert Smack's death in 1898, the business continued for a few years under his son, John H. Smack (1852-19??), and John Smack's sons, Robert Clinton Smack (1876-?) and Percy Girard Smack (1881-1935).

The Clinton Iron Foundry existed in the early 1850s at 502 Water St., although it is not clear who the proprietors were. The New York Times, 9 August 1852, wrote, "On Friday night about 9 o'clock, a fire broke out in the Clinton Iron Foundry, No. 502 Water-street; but the flames were extinguished before they had made much progress."

A story in the New York Times, 3 July 1868, p. 2, about the construction of the Croton Aqueduct mentions McKinley & Smack, who were awarded a contract for "thirty tons of special castings at $80 per ton; for stop-cock boxes and covers, twelve tons, at $80 per ton."

The following advertisement dates from 1872:

Clinton Iron Foundry
502 & 504 Water and 239 & 241 Cherry Streets,
Between Pike and Rutgers Slips, New York.
Girders, Round and Square Columns, Lintels, Cornices, Fire-Place Fronts, Window Lintels and Sills,
Leader Pipes, Pulley Hangers, Grate Bars, Machinery Patterns of all kinds. Also Loam
and Dry Sand Castings of every description constantly on hand and made
to order at the shortest Notice and on reasonable terms.
W. McKinley. R. Smack.

The same year the New York Herald Tribune ran a want ad for a "good flask maker."

I only found one foundry mark reading "McKinley & Smack." Many more read "Clinton Foundry." A few of these Clinton Foundry marks are found at:

McKinley & Smack / Clinton Foundry
121 Chrystie St.
McKinley & Smack / Clinton Foundry
35 Carmine St.
McKinley & Smack / Clinton Foundry
178 Greenpoint Ave. Brooklyn
McKinley & Smack / Clinton Foundry
13 1st Ave.

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