Sunday, May 26, 2013

life in clippings: ben mintz, inc.

i am STILL not writing my geocaching logs for the afternoon of may 4th because in the telling of the story i am totally stopped in playing junior historian around the mintz family just because i happened to have walked by some of their graves and for some reason gotten interested.

i found altogether more stuff than you probably need to know about one family living in the 19th and early 20th century in one small town in central new york, but i find the portrait of that life to be really, really fascinating.

it's not just about the mintzes; it's about life of that time and place.

in 1876 ben mintz established a clothing store at 129-132 state street in ithaca. apparently there is a louis mintz operating a clothing store in ithaca also, but it is not clear to me whether this louis mintz is ben mintz's brother or another louis mintz who appears to be living in ithaca also at this time.

later on maybe i will have answers.

just not now.

but as i was following the lives of the mintz family in ithaca, i kept seeing notices and ads from their store, and i put together a timeline of some of those ads as a sort of rough history of the business.

so far i know that ben mintz dies sometime before 1922 and that the family carried on the business for some years after. the 1930 ithaca business directory lists a bunch of mintzes as employed there.

and parenthetically, if you're in the mood for clicking links, i'm telling a sort of narrow story but i am linking you in many cases to digitized copies of the original publications where i found the information and by golly you can get LOST in those things. i totally recommend it.

i have not yet been able to find in what year the business closed.

there is a book in the tompkins county public library called Ithaca and its past : the history and architecture of the down-town by Daniel R. Snodderly, and it is available in two parts for online viewing:

(oh, goodness! how totally awesome is that?)

i mention it mostly because on page 32 there is a handsome illustration of the 100 block of state street and also because there are many lovely photographs state street buildings and the town in general, which is nice if you like that sort of thing.

i do.

it is interesting to note, however, that the author mentions only briefly the building at 121 to 131 east state street (page 36). he says:

Note also the alternation of
two- and three-window groups on the second floor, and the change
in brick color. (The first floor was originally divided into two stores.)
S. S. Kresge's built this structure to house a five and dime store, and
CVS bought the building in 1969. Barr Brothers hardware was at 127
from the 1880s until the 1920s.

he does not mention that half of the first floor was taken up by ben mintz inc.  from 1876 to at least 1930. i have no idea why he leaves this bit of information out; there's certainly no shortage of evidence and the book mentions a large number of stores with lesser tenures.

that's enough for now, i think. i am still up to my armpits in mintz histories, but i'm done writing for today.

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