For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; For want of the shoe, the horse was lost; For want of the horse, the rider was lost; For want of the rider, the message was lost; For want of the message, the battle was lost; For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Henry Burden’s story and how he helped win the American Civil War starts the way all success stories seemed to start in the 19th century. Driven, hardworking, innovative and independent young men thrived under America’s young and vibrant system.
Henry was the son of Scottish sheep farmers. At home he studied engineering, improving upon farm implements for his father until he up and moved to New York. Not a man to sit still or think small he immediately moved up the ranks at “the Townsend & Corning Foundry, manufacturers of cast iron plows and other agricultural implements, located in Albany’s south end – near today’s Port of Albany. The next year, he invented an improved plow, which took first premium at three county fairs, and a cultivator, which was said to have been the first to be put into practical operation in the country. He also made mechanical improvements on threshing machines and grist mills.” (WIKI)
Not satisfied being under anyone Henry quickly went to work building his own company across the river in Troy. Some of us are happy to have a job to go to. Henry built his job, defining it as he went brick by brick, building by enormous building.
He invented things and patented them. Fascinated by not only the useful implements he made but also the tools that made the useful things he erected huge waterwheels for powering his projects (The Ferris Wheel was inspired by his massive waterwheel).
As the winds of war blew up the Hudson Henry was set with his HORSESHOE MACHINE. It is said that Henry’s 600,000 KEGS OF HORSESHOES sent south each year won the war. If we find the importance of one company hard to believe there is evidence that the Confederacy sent special men to infiltrate the Burden works hoping to destroy the business but to no avail. Iron works were some of the first targets in a war of horses and their shoes.
Think of the great generals astride their beautiful mounts–no horseshoes, no beautiful mounts.
Henry employed many Troy men. Mrs. Burden worried about their souls and the long walks they must take on Sundays to get to church. Upon her death Henry Burden built Woodside Presbyterian Church granting her final wish. He died a few years later having lessened the burdens of others.
What the Burden Works Look Like Today
4 responses to “Henry Burden “spent a lifetime in devising means for lightening toil””
A fascinating story and one I did not know before. Thank you for your writing excellence. What a shame the iron works has not been restored, and if there is no interest in an American heritage museum, then a center for inspiring young people to pursue the crafts, which I think is a lost art today and why our economy suffers so much.
Agreed. Everyone is told the only way to success is through an expensive university–it’s sad since a lot of people would be happier (and richer) doing other things. But we all must follow the “system.”
I will have to see if he is related to my Burdens in my genealogy. Greatly enjoyed this post!
Thanks. I love genealogy! Hope he’s related 🙂