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Albert Gallatin & Co.

Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin was born January 29, 1761 in Geneva, Switzerland, into an artistocratic family known for watchmaking and public service. America’ sbold experiment in modern government appealed to his republican principles,and he migrated to America in 1780, eager for adventure and committed to making a fortune.

In 1783 Gallatin began buying large tracts of land in western Virginia and the Ohio River Valley.  The town of Wilson’s Port in Fayett County where George’s Cree kflows into the Monongahela River looked promising. He predicted the area would prosper through river trade,  renamed the town New Geneva after his home city, and invited Swiss immigrants to come west. Gallatin and his partners built a general store, gristmill, sawmill, gun factory.

On May 10, 1797, John Badollet, a partner in Albert Gallatin & Co., wrote Gallatin about a partnership agreement with James Nicholson, Louis Bourdillon and Charles A. Cazenove on the one part and on the other part five glassblowers--John Gabler, Adolph Eberhart, George Reppert, Lewis Reitz, Baltzer Kramer and Christian Kramer.  The glassblowers had earlier explored Limestone,  Kentucky, on the Ohio River, and  returned to the Monongahela River site that had been offered them for a glass factory which offered a better market and better material for their purposes.  The arrangement called for the Gallatin group to put up the capital and land while the Kramer group contributed their knowledge of glassmaking and skill as blowers.

The first glasshouse works was located about three quarters of a mile from Georges Creek where the forests supplied cheap fuel and allowed the workers to use wood ashes instead of potash in the furnace.  Gallatin supplied all the wood and sand used.  Three sides of the glass-house were wood and the fourth was stone; the structure was forty  by forty feet with a wood furnace. The first glass was produced in 1798 and the output soon averaged 4000 boxes of window-glass annually, plus bottles, pitchers, plates, etc. made out of pale green glass valued at $16,000.

The glasshouse received an order in 1801 for eight hundred 10 by 12 lights for the Chillicothe Court House because New Geneva glass was deemed superior to Pittsburgh glass.  On May 8th, however,  the “Pittsburgh Gazette” announced that “On the 30th of April ALBERT GALLATIN Esq.  left New Geneva for the City of Washington, to take care of the Treasury Department of the United  States  of which he had been appointed Secretary, by President Jefferson.”  Gallatin decided to dispose of his interest and in May 1803, having dissolved his partnership with James Nicholson.  An advertisement in the Tree of  Liberty, Pittsburgh, announced a sale by auction of his one-half undivided interest in the New Geneva Glass works, a ferry across the Monongahela River and  Sundry Lots and  Dwelling Houses in the Town of New Geneva, but there were no offers.

The remaining members of the firm moved the glass works across the river to Greensboro in Greene County and began to use coal as a source of fuel.  This factory functioned until 1847, and was operated by the sons of Reitz and the Kramers who made the same type of glass. John  Gabler  and Charles Kramer blew their last  glass in Gallatin’s  former factory in 1857.

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