At Jacob Zoller’s packing house on Main Street, carload after carload of fresh porkers arrive to be cut up, salted, and smoked.
It’s not an area where one wants to be on a hot summer’s day.
January 19, 1883, Cooney Archives
The Zollinger Brothers, Hans Jacob, Hans Andreas, Hans Casperli, and Hans Heinrich, immigrated as young children to America in 1739, from Zurich, Switzerland, arriving in Carolina. The brothers had Americanized their names into being Jacob, Andrew, Casper, and Henry Zoller by the early 1760’s, when they pledged their loyalty to their new country by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the Colony of New York. The Zoller brothers then marched through the Mohawk Valley, as soldiers of the Continental Army. They were under the command of Lieutenant Nicholas Herkimer, in Captain Jacob Klock’s Company, when they were called to duty during the French and Indian War for the last Indian alarm at German Flatts, which lasted from July 24- July 28, 1763.
The Zoller brothers established themselves at Dutchtown, New York, near the vicinity of Fort Willett. (The Town of Minden was known as Dutchtown by the German Palatines when they settled in the early 1720’s) Jacob joined the Revolutionary War along with his brother Andrew, with them both being privates in the Canajoharie District’s 1st Regiment of the Tryon County Militia. On August 4, 1777, Captain Samuel Campbell led the regiment under the command of General Nicholas Herkimer, on their march from Fort Dayton (Herkimer) to Fort Schuyler, (Fort Stanwix) as a relief force for Colonel Gansevoort. During the march, on August 6th, they were met with an ambush by the British and their allies at Oriskany, which was located at a day’s march away from Ft. Schuyler. During the battle at Oriskany, Jacob was shot through the shoulder. Jacob and Andrew were both taken as prisoners by the British Army, with Jacob dying later that day.
Andrew was taken to Canada and was released from captivity when the war ended. He arrived back in New York, in poor health, with his death coming shortly after. Jacob and Andrew were buried at the Zoller Farm in Fairfield, New York. Jacob and Andrew Zoller were commemorated in 1884, for their bravery during the Battle of Oriskany, with having their names etched on the Oriskany Battlefield Monument that stands in Oriskany, New York.
JACOB I. ZOLLER
Jacob Zoller had left a wife and four children behind in Dutchtown when he went off to war to fight at Oriskany, with his youngest son, Jacob I. Zoller, being at the age of five months. Jacob I. Zoller grew up in Dutchtown, married and settled his family at Fordsbush, which is known today as a hamlet within the Township of Minden. Jacob I. became a very prosperous farmer and served in the War of 1812, at Sackets Harbor.
JOHN I. ZOLLER
Jacob I. Zoller’s oldest child, John I. Zoller grew up on the family farm at Fordsbush and entered the mercantile business. In 1843 and 1844, Hon. John I. Zoller represented Montgomery County as a member of the New York State Legislature.
JACOB | THE THIRD GENERATION OF AMERICANIZED ZOLLINGERS
Hon. John I. Zoller married Eliza Sanders and their son Jacob Zoller, was born on April 15, 1833, at Fordsbush, New York, being the third generation of the Americanized Zollinger’s. He grew up on the family farm, completing his early schooling at Fordsbush, and continued his schooling, with a desire to study medicine, at the Clinton Liberal Institute in Fort Plain, New York.
JACOB ZOLLER LEARNS A TRADE
Jacob’s Uncle Abram owned and operated a combination bookstore / drug store in Little Falls, where in 1856, Jacob came to work for him as a clerk. The Zoller store was located at 544 East Main Street, which is the present-day location of Ruggerio’s Trattoria. Jacob remained in his uncle’s employ until 1859, when he entered the employment of John and Daniel Crouse, at Canastota, New York. The Crouse brothers were in the pork packing business and Jacob was there to learn the business firsthand.
Jacob stayed with Crouse’s until the early 1860’s, when he returned to Minden to start his own pork packing business, in which he also became a dealer in butter, cheese, and eggs.
Jacob was the first person in the area to lime eggs. A food grade lime, such as pickling lime, which is calcium hydroxide, was used to make a water limed solution. The unwashed eggs were submerged in the limed water solution, which sealed the pores of the shell of the egg so that no moisture could escape from within the egg. This method of preserving eggs resulted in unspoiled eggs that could be preserved for up to a year and a half. When the eggs were used, they were as fresh as the day they were laid.
JACOB ZOLLER AS A PROSPEROUS BUSINESSMAN
By 1867, Jacob’s wholesale business had grown substantially, and he needed to secure a larger space to expand his business. He chose Little Falls, mainly for its proximity to the railroad station, for the ease of shipping his products throughout the United States and Canada. At Little Falls, his business was in the Kellar Block 622-638 on the north side of East Main Street, which is the present-day location of the former East End Steak House. Zoller then built Zoller Block 617 on the south side of East Main Street, which is the present-day location of the entrance to the ramp that takes you from the Main Street level into Price Chopper’s parking lot. By 1909, Zoller had built the Zoller Block 583 on the south side of East Main St., just west of the Zoller Block 617, which would have been located in the block of the present-day M&T Bank, across from the present-day business of Ed’s Pizza. One large building, usually built of brick or stone during this time, was called a “Block”, whereas today we have many large buildings within the space of one block.
From 1869 through 1872, Jacob held the office for Supervisor for the Town of Minden as a Republican, which he had been elected for the last three terms by running unopposed and being endorsed unanimously by both parties for 1870, 1871 and 1872, with serving four consecutive terms.
In 1879, Jacob was offered the position of bank president by Burke & Healey, when the First National Bank first became organized as a banking institution, within the Cronkhite Opera house on the corner of Ann and Main Street, which he graciously declined. The Cronkhite Opera house was in the present-day location of the former Berkshire Bank.
Jacob built the Little Falls Warehousing Company on East Mill Street in 1883, being a three-story building, built from stone, that was adjacent to the railroad depot. The present-day location of the warehouse would have been the parking lot between George’s Lumber and Fieldmeier’s on East Mill Street. It was fully equipped with modern equipment for cold storage, dealing with meat packing and wholesale provisions. At this time, he was also partnered with Adison Eaton in a market on South Second Street.
On May 17, 1900, Zoller purchased water lot #8, next to the Mohawk River on Mill Street for $14,000. The purchase contained the Valley Mills Company, with Jacob becoming a merchant in the feed and flour business, with James Van Allen as a partner.
THE ZOLLER’S MANSION
On December 12, 1872, Zoller bought lots #11 and #12 on the south side of Garden Street for $4,500. The builders of his home were William and George B. Dale, of Dale & Son’s Construction. The Zoller Mansion was completed in 1879, becoming 553 Garden Street. The family also owned a country estate called Pelham Manor.
JACOB ZOLLER’S FAMILY LIFE
Jacob, being thirty-three years old, married Mary Jane Dygert, who was twenty -three years old from the Town of St. Johnsville, on June 27, 1867. Mary Jane descended from Gilbert Van Alstine, an aristocratic gentleman farmer from Palatine Bridge, New York.
Mary Jane and Jacob had their first child in 1873, with Mary being twenty-nine years of age and Jacob being thirty- nine years of age. They went on to have five more children in the early years of their marriage, namely, John I, Maude Jane, Henry, Thomas Jacob, and twins, Zadia, and Abram. They hired a girl in 1883 as a nanny, Catherine “Katie” Green, who came to them at the age of sixteen, staying in their employ for the next sixty-five years.
THE ZOLLER FAMILY IN FAITH
Jacob was a deeply religious man within the Universalist faith, supporting St. Paul’s Universalist Church at Little falls and the Universalist Church at Fordsbush. His family in turn, became deeply involved in the Universalist faith and gave many hours of their time to St. Paul’s Universalist Church, such as teaching Sunday school, deaconship, serving on the church board of trustees, and leading special classes.
JACOB ZOLLER’S LAST YEARS
From 1866 through 1907, Jacob invested his wealth into real estate. His childhood dream was to own a farm and upon his death on the 27th of January 1907, he had ownership of nine farms. Zoller had three farms in the Town of Minden, three farms in the Town of Danube, two farms in the Town of Manheim, and one farm in the Town of Little Falls. The combined acreage of the nine farms was 3,500 acres. He also owned several cheese factories and had financial control of fifty more, manufacturing cheese under the Zoller name, with the “Zoller Cheese ” winning a Medal Of Excellence at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois.
After Jacob’s death, his three sons incorporated the inherited business to be the Jacob Zoller Company, which had a capital of $100,000. In 1908.
Mary Jane Dygert Zoller’s death was on 9th of December 1930.
THE ZOLLER CHILDREN
JOHN I ZOLLER
John I. Zoller extended his education at the Clinton Liberal Institute, at Fort plain, N.Y. John graduated from Massachusetts’s William College in 1895. He worked beside his father in the meatpacking- cold storage business, at Little Falls Warehousing Company, eventually holding the position of president of the company.
He was a former secretary and director of the C. J. Lundstrom Manufacturing Company and served as vice president and a director of the Valley Mills Company from 1907 to 1922. John I. also served as director for the Herkimer County National Bank.
John I. Zoller married Imogene Lewis, who was a descendant of Governor William Bradfrod of the Plymouth Colony, on the 31st of July 1907. They had four children, namely, John Jacob, Sarah Imogene, Louis William, and Murray Dygert. (B. 5 May 1973 | D.16 February 1964)
MAUDE JANE ZOLLER
Maude Jane Zoller supported the Little Falls Hospital throughout her adult life, serving as past president of the hospital board. She also initiated the forming of the endowment fund to benefit the hospital and helped organize the staff of doctors at the hospital. (B. 13 February 1876 | D. 5 November 1962)
Henry is only mentioned one time- on the 1880 Federal Census as a three-year-old son. (B. 1877 | D. ? )
THOMAS JACOB ZOLLER
Thomas J. Zoller furthered his education at Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts, graduating in 1898. He worked alongside his father in the meatpacking- cold storage business, at Little Falls Warehousing Company, eventually taking the positions of secretary and treasurer. He organized and was the director for the Standard Bookcase Company and Hall Mammouth Incubating Company. He also served as director for three banks, the First National Bank of Utica, the First National Bank of St Johnsville, and the Herkimer County Bank of Little Falls.
According to “This Day In History…On September 3, 1909, a reliability tour was held to Cooperstown, in which twenty cars participated. Little Falls drivers were: Harold Hichman, Homer P. Snyder, Charles Ross, Prank Stacey, Benjamin P. Casler, Harry L. Becker, Frank H. Shall, R. D. Cooper, Irving Snell, Edwin A. Van Allen, Robert Livingston, Abraham Zoller, J. J. Gilbert, Thomas Zoller and several out-of-town residents. Mrs. O. J. Dempster was the only woman driver and won second prize. C. J. Lundstrom and W. F. Rathbun also won prizes.” (B. 1 May 1878 | D. 25 November 1952)
ZaidaZoller was the last surviving child of Jacob and Mary Jane.
According to “This Day In History …On April 18, 1894, date of a letter to Zaida Zoller of Little Falls from Susan B. Anthony asking that on November 6th the adjective “male” be stricken from the suffrage clause of the U. S. Constitution.”
Zaida was a graduate of the Burnham School in Massachusetts and the Miss Hewitt’s School in N.Y.C., graduating with the class of 1902.
In 1912, a traveling circus stopped at Little Falls, causing Zaida to become deeply distressed because of the lack of care towards the overworked horses. The police were called, and the circus was cited for animal cruelty and the horses were taken away. She decided then, to promote animal welfare and began to organize a committee to stand up for the treatment of animals. The Herkimer County Human Society was incorporated on February 13, 1913.
Zaida was very active in women’s rights, holding Suffrage meetings in her home, with some of the meeting being led by Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Anna Howard Shaw. She became the president of the Little Falls Charter of the League of Women Voters, after the 19th amendment was passed on August 26, 1920.
According to This Day In History…On January 12, 1920, Little Falls resident Miss Zaida Zoller was a major local organizer for women’s suffrage political activity prior to the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting women’s suffrage in 1920. Miss Zoller is buried in Fair View Cemetery.”
According to “This Day In History…On May 26, 1956, a memorable event for the V.F.W. was the mortgage burning party held. In just 10 years these active members had their home paid for. Each year the Post has honored a distinguished citizen of the city for activities benefiting the community as a whole. The names of those Anniversary Awards winners are as follows: John B. McGuire, Chr. Hansen’s Laboratory, A. C. Benjamin, Leon M. Dussault, Elmer E. Munk, Mrs. David H. Burrell, Jr., Edward Cooney, Jr., Richard Rasch, Francis Skinner, Donal Hurley, Mrs. Wayne Roa, Miss Zaida Zoller, and John Pinnegan.”
Zaida’s father gave her the Milky Way Farm for her animals (B. 12 July 1882 | D. 22 January 1990)
JUSTICE ABRAM ZOLLER
Justice Abram Zoller extended his schooling in Massachusetts, first at William’s College, where he ranked fifth in his class. He then continued at Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 1907. After passing the Bar in 1907, Abram opened a law office in Little Falls, and also one in Syracuse, N.Y.
Abram served as Mayor for the City of Little Falls from 1816-1919, as a Republican. Mayor Abram Zoller laid the cornerstone for the building of City Hall in 1916. Under his administration in 1917, the Little Falls Fire Department received its first fire truck, a Mac Truck, which in itself was a department all of its own.
According to “This Day In History…On April 3, 1917, a great campaign was initiated by Mayor Abram Zoller to have a branch of the American Red Cross in Little Falls. Led by many clubs and organizations, nearly 4,000 local citizens joined. The chapter was housed in the old bank building on South Ann Street after the bank’s move to new quarters in the Burrell building.”
According to “This Day In History… On December 23, 1918, Mayor Zoller and the Aldermen met at the new City Hall to pay their respects to David H. Burrell, whose generosity had made the building possible.”
Judge Zoller served as the Herkimer County Judge and Surrogate from 1930-1933. He then was elected to two fourteen-year terms as Supreme Court Justice for Herkimer County, starting in 1934. During his first term, Justice Zoller ruled that “hats were detracting”, making it mandatory for hats to be removed from women jurors, in the jury box. He retired in 1952, being ten years shy of completing his term. He served as an official referee for the Fifth Judicial District until 1958.
Justice Abram Zoller married Muriel Cornelia Schmidt, a harpist from Ilion, on the 30th of November 1933. (B. 22 July 1882 | D. 31 May 1961)
Jacob founded the Fairview Cemetery Association in 1898, with the cemetery’s first burial taking place that year. Jacob helped finance the cemetery of Fairview, on the old road to Eatonville, which contained fifty landscaped acres, with roads and walkways throughout that have been laid with regard to the scenery. The cemetery grounds contained an elevated, ornamental receiving vault that is large enough to accommodate a funeral in inclement weather.
A special section within the cemetery held the graves of Civil War soldiers, which included the grave of Little Fall’s “Unknown Soldier.”
Jacob and Mary Jane Dygert Zoller, along with their children, have all been interred at the Fairview Cemetery.
*From The Cooney Archive’s: This Day In History by Louis Baum JR, Digitizing of historical photos by Gail & Mike Potter, Article written by Darlene Smith.