Chicago Tribune, September 14, 1902
According to the city directory, there are more than 400 horseshoeing shops in Chicago. Two men to a shop means 800 horseshoers. By the rules of the shops, the average shoers should turn out a horse, shod all round, in an hour. And when it is remarked that the life of a set of steel toed shoes on Chicago pavements is from ten to eighteen days for the dray animal, up to thirty days at the most for the animal that is at least and lightest used, something of the magnitude of the work of the shoer is appreciated. On top of these facts is the greater statement that while the work of the horseshoer has been nearly doubled by the demands of the horse owners, no machine possible promises ever to take the place of the man who, with bent back and the hoof in his, drives home the nails that hold the iron to the foot.
To find a horseshoe has been regarded as a lucky omen time out of mind. Today, however, for the finder to recognize a horseshoe every time he sees it is becoming steadily more difficult. Once the horseshoe was an unmistakable quantity; today an up to date dealer in supplies must keep thirty-five styles of rubber shoe pads alone in his stock, while in the shoes themselves they range in weight from five ounces to two pounds each. When it comes to the shapes and materials of these shoes, only the nails that might cling to a lost shoe would serve to identify many of them as being cast from the foot of a horse.
Kelley & Gregory, Horseshoers1
4307 Cottage Grove
Many Changes in a Generation.
Changes that have come about in the trade of horseshoeing since David E. Russell went to work at it in 1868 have been many. In those days the shoer made his own shoes at the forge and pointed his own nails. There were only wooden pavements or none at all in Chicago streets, and when a set of hand made shoes were tacked on a horse’s feet both the smith and the owner expected that these shoes, “sharpened,” would reset two and perhaps three times before they were worn out. In those days, too, a shoe that weighed a pound was considered heavy for even a dray horse.
Nowadays the machine made horseshoe drops from the machines faster than they can be counted; eighteen days’ wear on the cobblestones will grind a two pound shoe so thin at times that the smiths pulling off might cut his fingers on its edges; nails, stamped and sharpened ready for driving, come to his hand, but chief of his troubles are in the numerous pads of leather and of rubber that have been developed within the last five years and which are increasing in number at a still more alarming rate.
Pads for Horses’ Hoofs.
To the dealer and the smith it looks as if those men without originality enough to invent a new breakfast food or to write a book had turned their attention to patenting rubber cushions that shall keep the horse from slipping on frozen asphalt or boulevards, or prevent his injury from the steady jar that comes from a jog trot over the paving stones. The rubber companies almost everywhere have gone into the making of these pads, some being a distinct pad laid on the hoof and nailed to it with the nails that pass through the iron shoe; others showing an iron shoe with the rubber molded into it on the bottom and covered next to the hoof with layers of canvas to prevent the heating the hoof.
With the advent of these pads of rubber and with the increase in the size of the bars from which the shoes are made, a big dray horse of today weighs a good deal more than he would have weighed thirty years ago. The rubber pad on one foot will weigh a pound and a half; the shoe to correspond will weigh two pounds. Thus, allowing for the four feet, a big draft horse carrier fourteen pounds of rubber and iron on his feet, and the lifting of these weights through a long day’s drive involves an energy approaching the capacity of a steam engine of no mean proportions.
Looks Like a Torture Chamber.
“The man who shod horse in Chicago thirty years ago and who should return to it now,” said David Russell, “would think he had struck some kind of torture chamber in the ordinary downtown shop. He couldn’t stand under the work for all day. ‘Bull shoeing,’ we call it. Take a man even from one of the outlying shops in the city and he would break down before night. As a rule a drayman whose horse loses a shoe in the outskirts of the city where light horses usually are shod finds difficulty in getting his shoe put on. If he has the shoe that the horse cast he may get the work done; otherwise the smith is more likely to say that he hasn’t a shoe in the shop that will fit the horse.”
In the Russell shop virtually everything is heavy shoeing. The South Water street and the big machine shop sections are close at hand, and it os no uncommon thing for a team drawing a load of 13,000 pounds to stop before the shop for the purpose of having a shoe tacked on a horse.
With this class of horse the smith has much trouble, aside from the hard work. In the first place, pads are used on the feet of nearly half of these animals, and to suit the owner or driver in a particular brand of pad is by no means easy. Somebody has told him of a pad that beats the one he has been using for so long, and if that especial pad is not in the list of stock the driver frequently looks through the whole range for something like it before he finally decides to use the pad that he had before.
Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett
Wholesale Catalog No. 6
Difficulties of the Shoe’s Work.
Fitting an iron shoe to a rubber pad instead of fitting it to a horse’s foot direct requires a good deal of skill and judgement, and when both have been fitted the problem of finding enough hoof to nail them becomes an even greater proposition in so many cases.
For in driving on one of these heavy shoes a corresponding heavy nail is used, and as the shoe that is discarded may not have been on the foot for longer than two weeks the difficulty of avoiding the old nail holes is to be considered. In general in shoeing these great animals the nail is driven as far up the shell of the hoof as is possible, often coming out at the clinching point full two inches above the bottom of the hoof. In the country shop today this “hold” of the nail is not more than five-eighths of an inch, and as a horse under such conditions can wear a shoe for four weeks the hoof by that time has grown till in fitting the new shoe the smith cuts out the old nail holes.
Mr. Russell said:
- This weakening of hoofs by nailing is so great, that if a drayman’s horse loses a shoe at Twenty-second street and he drives the animal this far without it we find mighty little hoof left to hold a nail. No driver who is wise will drive a block if he can help it without having a lost shoe tacked on.
For a man who uses a dray team every working day of the year, he can hardly hope to escape a shoeing bill of at least $55; if he insists on pads with the shoes the bill will be from $75 to $80 a year.
With the driving horses the shoeing bill will be just what the driver wishes it to be. In most cases, however, he will insist on the rubber pad, as in winter especially the asphalt streets of the city become slippery until a horse cannot hold his feet. Frequently, with a driving horse, the rubber plate shoes behind must be changed in ten days, and in front they will scarcely last twenty days if the horse be driven every day.
In the experience of Mr. Russell, the horse of the present is much more easily handled in the shop than was the horse of thirty years ago.
Mr. Russell says while stepping cautiously toward a medium sized gray horse, which with new shoes and oiled hoofs, stood close to the door::
- One reason, is that the horse of today is handled by his owner from the time he is a colt. When I first went into the work some of the horses that we used to shoe had never seen a man till they were roped and brought in to be broke.
But not all horses are angels yet. This horse is 28 years old, and he has been coming here to be shod for fourteen years. He is full of metal, and occasionally he reaches out for one of us as we come up. But we know how to take him and we have no fault to find with him—whoa, Bill.
Horses That Cause Trouble.
Russell had stepped up to the horse’s head, passed down the right side of the animal, and lifted the hind foot, when without a second’s warning the creature struck out a kick that would have killed a man in reach of the steel toed shoe.
- Yes—whoa, Bill—we know his tricks. We can hobble a young horse and cure him of that sort of thing in a little while, but the old horse will die that way.
As an indication of the evolution of the horseshoeing shop it may be remarked that no shop of any size can get along now without the telephone. Employers must use it to keep in touch with their drivers while they are waiting for the shoeing to be done, for often messages regarding loads and loading are imperative. Then the instrument is of especial use to the customer who may wish to find out how crowded the shop is at a certain time.
Up to the present horseshoeing has been a growing industry in Chicago. How far the automobile may effect it remains to be seen. But the fact that hand labor probably always will be necessary in horseshoeing makes it improbable that the horseshoers of the city soon will decrease materially in numbers.
Kelley & Gregory, Horseshoers
4307 Cottage Grove
Chicago Tribune, July 31, 1904
If the gaunt, tired eyed street car horse, which for years slipped and stumbled over the uneven pavements of Chicago’s downtown streets, could observe the foot-gear provided for well kept horses to-day, he would feel that he hadn’t received is just deserts. And he would have just cause for complaint. A few years ago the function of the horseshoer was simply to rivet a bar of iron to the hoof with little or no regard for the purpose it was to serve. The result was that a whole lot of horses were incompetently fitted as regards their footgear, and they were left to pick out the most assuring path in the pavement and trust to luck or the intervention of Providence to keep them on their feet. The horse-shoer felt little or no responsibility beyond the competent placing of the shoe. He didn’t care much whether it was the sort of a shoe the horse ought to have or not. He “shod” the animal and sent it back to the barn.
Today, however, the horseshoer goes about his work in a vastly different fashion. He makes a careful study of his business and knows absolutely the style of shoe a horse needs to best aid it in the work to which it is put. The present day horseshoer is something of a specialist. He doesn’t conclude the moment a horse 1s brought to him that all it needs is a set of shoes, but sets to work to find out the condition of the horse’s feet, and then forms the shoe to meet the specific requirements of the hoof, taking into consideration shape, deficiencies, and deformities. That is why the horse of the present day, particularly the city horse, has it on the one which traveled the pavement in years gone by.
City Shoeing Complicated.
Shoeing city horses is an occupation which presents any number of interesting and complicated angles to the brawny men engaged in this line of work. The country horse does not call for so much attention in this direction, for the reason that its hoofs come into contact with soft earth, or, at the worst, country roads. It has its daily frolics in open pastures, and, if shod at all, an ordinary set of shoes will do.
The city horse is a much different propositon. Its feet have absolutely no relief from jarring and stiffening contact with hard, unelastic pavements, and unless great care is exercised in caring for the feet the owner is apt to discover in a short time that he 1s burdened with a cripple, This is true of horses of every description from the heavy craft animals utilized in traffic to the high stepping roadster which is valuable for style only.
Unique Methods Used.
Up to date horseshoers, realizing the business value of protecting and safeguarding the hoof, have devised several unique schemes, each of which has proved of value. Most of them are meant particularly for fine driving horses, but the traffic animal also has come in for consideration and has profited immensely by the spirit of humane invention. The task of securing new shoes for a horse today is not unlike fitting the human foot. The horseshoer has outgrown the idea that any shoe will do for every horse, and is as careful to provide a “good fit ” as the shoe salesman who caters to the most exacting customers. He realizes that, with a horse traveling constantly over hard pavement, it is only a question of a short time until lameness develops unless the shoes are properly and accurately set, and when this occurs it reflects damagingly upon his ability as a workman. That is why the city horse today is something of an aristocrat in the matter of the attention that is paid to its feet.
One of the schemes devised for the protection of a horse’s feet is a leather pad, which entirely covers the lower portion of the hoof, outside of the shoe. This relieves the jar when the foot ls brought down on the pavement and has been found to be of great value. If a horse is afflicted with particularly tender feet the space between the pad and the hoof may be packed, so as to afford additional relief. This system of shoeing is employed for both draft and carriage horses, but is more available for use on the former, which are not called upon for
Rubber Pad for Asphalt.
Another benefit the horse has reaped through the study that has been devoted to his business by the horseshoer is sureness of foot when traveling over slippery pavement. Asphalt is particularly treacherous, and it is no uncommon sight on a rainy day to see five or six horses fall in a walk of three or four blocks. To counteract this condition the horseshoer has invented a rubber pad which fts over the shoe and prevents slipping. Owing to the cost of these they are not generally used except for driving horses owned by men who are particularly solicitous for their welfare.
Shoes have been perfected for practically every aliment to which the horse’s foot is heir, and animals which years ago would have been discarded as cripples now travel about in easy fashion, with their afflictions unnoticeable. The greatest problem confronting the horseshoer in cities today is maintaining the hoof in such condition that it may be utilized time and again in resetting shoes. The character of city streets makes it necessary, that shoes should be fastened on securely, otherwise they will be wrenched off before the horse has traveled many blocks. When this occurs repeatedly the hoof naturally wears down until it frequently is a difficult matter to find sufficient holding space for the nails.
Handwork Still Best.
The horseshoer is one of the few craftsmen who has been able to meet the competition of machinery and still make his handwork stand out over that accomplished by invention. In years gone by all horseshoes were made by hand. Progress, however, brought forward the machine made product and such shoes are used in large numbers. But owners of fine horses, which require particular work, prefer the hand made product and in shops where valuable driving horses are given thetr footgear the machine made shoe is not generally used.
The Lakeside Annual Business Directory of the City of Chicago for 1907
Inter Ocean, September 5, 1909
MOTOR CARS REPLACE HORSES.
When the automobile made its advent into industrial history, It was undoubtedly looked
upon as a thing of pleasure and luxury, It is. doubtful whether the frst builders realized to what extent It would eventually enter into the commercial world as a new means of transportation, and it Is only In more recent years that one has heard much comment upon the automobile as an industrial economy and a business necessity.
Professional men, probably physicians, were first to find out that a small motor car is not only practical, but that one properly designed and constructed is actually cheaper to maintaln and more reliable than the horse and buggy,
Few people are interested in generalities when it comes to buying an automobile, especially for business use. One might make any number of assertions to the end of proving that the automobile is cheaper than the horse-drawn vehicle and convince no one while a single working demonstration would bring about the desired conviction.
Rural mail carriers do not receive large wages bf any means, but they must have some means of transportation. The small motor car is proving more practical for their use than-the horse-drawn vehicle. Here is one example which will serve to Illustrate the point. W. A. Johnson, a rural carrier in Ottawa, Kan., decided after careful investigation, that a small automobile would answer his purpose better than his three horses and wagon. As a result, he purchased a Brush runabout complete a total outlay of $610, which was only a little more than he had invested in horses and equipment.
The route Mr. Johnson covers is covers is twenty-five miles long and is through the hilly country west of Ottawa. Not only are the roads rough, but the hills are real hills. On the route, Mr. Johnson has eighty-four mail boxes to make each day, and he covers this run with ease in three hours in his runabout. It was a big day’s work with horses.
Mr. Johnson has always kept close account of his expense for maintaining his machine and finds that it is costing him Just $61.80 a year to run It. His repairs so far have amounted to less than $10.
This is, of course, much cheaper than he could keep even one horse, and he has more than one-half of? his time to devote to anything he pleases, He says, “The little car I am driving is proving very reliable in every way, and I would not think of going back to the use of horses for my work.”
So It seems to be with thousands of physicians, contractors, mall carriers, salesmen, farmers, and in fact every one who has given up the horse and buggy for a small runabout like the Brush.
1 James Jacob Gregory (January 13, 1865-May 5, 1907), Resided at 4620 Cottage Grove.