Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wednesday’s Wonderful Collection - Black Rock Pearl Company records, SMCNE.0002.0010

Button finishing plants in Iowa and New York were supplied by tons of button blanks that came from small factories lining the northeastern Arkansas rivers, which teemed with the freshwater mollusks that naturally grew mother-of-pearl-lined shells. Supplying the button blank factories with raw material offered farm families extra income because shell harvesting fit around the ebb and flow of agriculture. Factories, which had to be close to a railroad for shipping outbound cargo, had button-cutting machines with various sized tubular saws that generated small to large button blanks.
Black Rock Pearl Company formed in 1900, began output in 1901, shut down due to a labor strike, and was purchased by a Davenport, Ohio, company. Harvey Chalmers Pearl Button Company, based in Amsterdam, New York, operated at two factory locations in Black Rock. By 1914, the Rockport Pearl Button Company was located between Falls Creek and the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad track spur. In 1936, the manager was V.C. Howe.
This collection has three checks that were found at the abandoned Black Rock Pearl Company. The paycheck exemplifies rate of pay for the early 20th century and the expense checks provide previously unknown details about the factory such as the name of the company and general manager.
·         1919 August 9: Paycheck to B. Smith (Box 2)
·         1936 May 12: Expense Account check
·         1936 May 26: Expense Account check