The life and times of the walking-talking pocketknives.

A Short History of the Ulster Knife Company
Ellenville NY USA 12477

The village of Ellenville is in the town of Wawarsing and part of Ulster County. It is about 90 miles northwest of New York City and same distance southwest of Albany. Ellenville is located at the junction of routes NY 52 and US 209. It is bisected by the recently designated Shawangunk scenic byway. It is also lies in the Rondout Valley in the eastern base of the Catskills Mountain and the western base of the Shawangunk ridge. It is well known as the “Last Great Places on Earth”. The north-flowing Sandburg Creek and east-flowing Good Beer Kill intersect In Ellenville New York. The confluence of these two tributaries flows north to join the Hudson River near Kingston. The town of Ellenville is part of Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. It is known historically as the settlement established in 1685 by Dutch settlers, the Hoombeek, Rutsen and Vernooy families. It is a dangerous place to live at its pioneering days as it is a part of the frontier during the French–Indian wars. It was also subjected to frequent raids by the Tories and the local Indians during the American Revolution. In 1730 the Ellenville lead mine was developed by Antony Rutgers & Company in Napanoch within the village limits of Ellenville. Anthony Rutgers & Company and was a main supplier of war material for the American Army. The resident adapted a Dutch style of architecture in the construction of their homes with extensive use of stone materials as common in Ulster County. The first town Post Office building was built in 1938 thru a budget established and approved by Congress. The Post Office was opened for operation in 1940. At the lobby of the building is a mural done by Louis Bouche that illustrates the naming of Ellenville in 1823 after a famous early settler, Ellen Snyder.

 According to US Census Bureau, Ellenville village has a total area of 8.8 square miles and .68% of the area is water. The Ulster Knife Works in Ellenville was started through a cooperative formed and developed in the 1870’s in Naugatuck, Connecticut.  The cooperative were composed of cutlers whose purpose was to engage in the business and manufacture of cutleries. These skilled craftsmen were mostly English immigrants who underwent long period of apprenticeship and training in cutlery craft in Sheffield, England. The cooperative started with a capital stock of $25,000 and selling shares at $25 each.

 In 1871 a committee led by prominent residents Eli D. Terwilliger and William H. Otis of the village of Ellenville in Ulster County New York has seriously considered to establish a similar cooperative such as the one established in the previous year in Naugatuck Connecticut for the purpose of providing meaningful employment for the residents of the village. After arrangement and negotiation were made with the Naugatuck group, the Ellenville Cutlery Works was established. This led to the formation of the Ellenville Knife Building Company, which purchased the foundry property of John L. Bloomer & Sons on the Beer Kill in August, 1871. The company succeeded in making   cutleries of the finest quality. Although production was strong, the cooperative’s finances were not sufficiently adequate to enable continuance as a cooperative company as it could not meet its financial obligations. In 1875 the cooperative was practically bankrupt.

Same year 1875 "The Ulster Knife Company" was incorporated by Jacob Hermance, John Lyon, Alfred Neafie, R. Harvey Brodhead and Dwight Divine. This group assumed all the financial obligations of the company and continued with the manufacture of knives. The name Ulster was then adopted as the trade mark for its cutlery, and has since been used to designate one of the most popular and dependable lines of cutlery ever made in the United States. In 1878 Dwight Divine took over the entire control of the company and continued the business as the sole Owner of the company. Dwight Devine retained the original organization of the Ulster Knife Company and made William Booth one of the original cutlers, the company foreman and continued in this position until his passing many years later. Mr. Divine has proven himself a very capable and efficient businessman. He has gradually transformed the company to a strong business enterprise that meets its financial obligation and paid its employees regular salaries. There were setbacks. A fire destroyed the plant in 1880. However, fire damaged buildings were soon rebuilt and in a very short period of time was back in operation employing about four hundred workmen.

In 1926, Mr. Divine organized as Dwight Divine & Sons, Inc., taking into partnership his two sons, C. Dwight and John H. Divine, who carried on the business after the death of their father in 1932. John H. Divine died in November, 1943. In 1941, the control of the Ulster Knife Company was transferred from the Divine family to a group of capitalists, with Albert M. Baer as president. Albert M. Baer also has control the Camillus Cutlery Company at the same time. It is claimed that the Ulster Knife Works is the oldest shop of its kind now in existence in the United States.