About the Endicott History & Heritage Center
Endicott, NY is the birthplace of International Business Machines (IBM), a company that has changed the world for over 100 years. It also became the home of Endicott Johnson Shoe Company (EJ), the world’s largest shoe manufacturer by 1950. Since the early 1900s these two companies have dominated the history of Endicott and also greatly impacted the history of all of Broome County.
The Endicott History and Heritage Center, managed by the Old Village of Union Historical Society, houses extensive displays covering the histories of both EJ and IBM. The amazing stories of these two companies, told with displays of hundreds of artifacts, help define how such a small village in upstate central New York became the hometown for two international giants of industry.
Divided into two main sections, the entire ground floor of the museum is devoted to the history of IBM, a world leader in the early development of computer technology that got its start just up the Avenue from the museum. Upstairs there is a large exhibit covering another manufacturing giant that also got its start in the area, the Endicott-Johnson Corporation. Several other exhibits contain artifacts of local history.
The IBM museum, originally created by IBM for its employees, is now available for all to see and enjoy. The EJ material, a broad collection of never-before-seen EJ items, is the result of many donations from a number of local collectors.
About the Old Union Village Historical Society
The Old Village of Union Historical Society was organized in 1989 to collect, preserve and display artifacts, relics, photographs and other items of local history. Today, these items are displayed at the Endicott History & Heritage Center on Endicott’s historic Washington Avenue.
How Union Got Its Name
The name for the Town of Union and the Village of Union originated from a 1779 military excursion ordered by George Washington. In upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania areas Iroquois native-Americans had been joining forces to help the British in attacks against Americans. Fearing this would continue, George Washington ordered a campaign that would travel along the Susquehanna River and engage the Six Nations of Iroquois.
Major General John Sullivan would start from Easton, PA and travel up the Susquehanna River with about 3,500 soldiers. General James Clinton would start from Otsego Lake with about 1,500 soldiers and 220 boats and march or float down river. They planned to meet at Tioga Point (Owego area).
Water flowing out of Otsego Lake becomes the Susquehanna River (site of Cooperstown, NY) and resembles a typical unnavigable creek. Clinton’s soldiers built a dam to hold back the waterflow from the lake for five weeks. On August 8, 1779, he blew up the dam, and his boats floated downstream on the man-made flood (or “wave”).
By August 18 Clinton had reached the area now called Johnson City and Sullivan was at the planned meeting place of Tioga. Sullivan became worried of a possible attack on Clinton’s forces so on August 19 he dispatched General Enoch Poor to travel up-river to locate him.
Poor met Clinton in the general area now called the Union business district. People commonly referred to their meeting as the “union” of their forces. In 1791, when the Town of Union was formed, its name memorialized this locally famous event. Eighty years later, in 1871, the same name was chosen when the Village of Union was incorporated.
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