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A Look Back: Springville Canning Factory

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By Jolene Hawkins

Did you know that at one time, Springville had a large canning factory?  In May of 1879, there was a proposal of creating a canning factory and by August of the same year, there was an ad in the paper wanting 25 women or girls to work at the place.

By 1887, 300 or more people were working at the factory— men, women and children. Corn, tomatoes, beans and apples were being canned and they had a machine that could make cans—10,000 a day!

By 1890, they were making contracts with those who wished to raise peas for the canning factory for a season:  $20-40 per acre, clear, take your choice in picking or threshing.

In the fall of 1893, they did the “first four” at the Springville Canning Factory, which meant they labeled 750 cases of corn (24 cans per case) inside 10 hours.  That was two days of work in one!

In 1895, arrangements had been made with the Rider Medicine Company of Buffalo, where they were manufacturing the remedies for the AVOE company, and put them upon the market as fast as the Rider people could advertise and sell them.  The remedies consisted of a blood purifier and a cough medicine and were made up of the very best formulas known.

By 1931, 52 years after they started in Springville, they ended the year with 85,000 cases.

Through it all, what was needed were farms to grow the food, and the Rumfola brothers, Charles, Joseph and Louis, ran one of the largest ones.  They successfully grew nearly 500 tons of beans in one season for the canning factory in Springville.  They made use of every labor saving farm tool they could find, and had a motto of “Each for all and all for each.” In 1931, they had several areas they worked—180 acres at their home, 327 acres on a farm on Waverly Street, 35 acres on Vaughan Street,  with 110 other small acres around the area.  They had 300 acres in beans alone, creating 390 tons of beans!  All of the beans were hand picked, creating jobs for 350 pickers, all ages of men, women and children.  Some lived in quarters on the farm.

Besides beans being grown, they also grew corn, oats, potatoes, pickling cucumbers,  varieties of fruit trees and 40 acres of raspberries! The canning factory had expanded their canning products to include strawberries, blackberries, pears and pumpkins, along with the vegetables that they were known for.

It continued to be open and run until the mid 1950s, giving jobs to many people, from farmers to the people who harvested the fruits and vegetables on to the factory, where the cans and labels were made. Workers were needed for everything from filling the cans and sealing them, to transporting the cans to the railroad cars, towns and stores.

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