Leslie, Dunham & Company were wholesale dealers in honey, maple syrup and sugar that operated in Brooklyn, N. Y. from 1888 to 1908. Ultimately the company opened another location in New Jersey where they continued in business until the mid 1920’s and possibly longer.
Their honey was sold with brand names like “Orange Blossom,” and “Choice Extra Clover,” while their maple syrup brands were, among others, “Green Mountain” and “Maple Twig.” “Green Mountain” was apparently one of their most popular.
The company’s founder and long time senior member was a native Canadian of Scottish descent named Charles G. Leslie who settled in Pittsfield, Massachusetts sometime after arriving in the United States in 1848. According to his September 27, 1907 obituary published in the “Berkshire Eagle:”
Mr. Leslie was born in St. Bridget, Canada, moving to the United States when a young man. He spent most of his life in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was actively engaged in business, being the head of the firm of Leslie, Dunham & Co., which he established some 50 years ago.
The above obituary suggests that the business was established sometime around 1860, a fact that’s referenced in several of the company’s business cards published years later in the Brooklyn city directories.
That year census records listed both Charles G. Leslie and Darius W. Dunham as farmers living in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. The census records, along with the obituary of Darius Dunham, published in the 1896 edition of the “Pittsfield Sun,” indicate that in 1859 Leslie married Dunham’s daughter Malissa. So the Leslie’s and Dunhams certainly had a personal relationship by then.
That being said, through the early 1870’s there’s no reference to either Leslie, Dunham or the company in the city directories for Brooklyn, New York City or even Boston for that matter, so any business apparently remained local to Pittsfield during that time.
That changed in the mid-1870’s when both Charles G. Leslie, along with Darius Dunham’s son, Jasper T., both began to appear in the Brooklyn directories with the occupation of “syrup manufacturer” and/or “honey” albeit at separate locations; Charles G. at 150 Nassau Street, and Jasper T. at 478 4th Avenue. During the early 1880’s Jasper also spent some time across the Hudson River in Jersey City where he was listed with the occupation of “honey” at 133 Coles Street.
Whether a partnership existed at this point is not clear, however by 1888 they were certainly in business together when this item appeared in the March 24th edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”
On Greene Avenue near Grand, Messrs. Leslie & Dunham are about to build a two story brick factory 25 x 95, to cost $8,000.
Subsequently in Brooklyn’s 1890 “Lains Business Directory” the Leslie, Dunham & Company name appears for the first time with an address of 275 Greene Avenue. That year , their business card was included with the directory listing.
Also listed individually at the Greene Avenue address were both Charles G. Leslie and Jasper T. Dunham along with Leslie’s son, Merwin. The business remained on Greene Avenue for the next 20 years, listing 281 Greene as their address in later years.
Apparently a relatively small operation, the New York State Factory Inspector’s Report for the Year Ending November 30, 1900 listed seven full time employees, all working a 60 hour week.
In 1904 the company opened a second location, this one at 252 Livingston Street in Newark, New Jersey, where the 1904 Newark Directory named Merwin Leslie as “plant superintendent.”
In 1908, with Charles Leslie having passed away the year before and Dunham either retired or having taken a step back (he passed away in 1944 at the age of 96), the Brooklyn plant disappeared from the Brooklyn directories. The Newark operation, with Merwin now listed as principal, remained at the Livingston Avenue location until sometime in the mid-teens at which time it relocated to 644 Montgomery Street in Jersey City. The company was still located there in 1925 (the latest directory I have access to).
It’s not clear when the business came to an end, however, Merwin Leslie was still living in New Jersey and continued to list his occupation as “merchant, maple products” in the 1930 census records, so its possible the life of the business extended into the 1930’s.
The bottle I found is 6-1/2-inches tall with a 2-1/4-inch square cross section that transitions to an approximate 1-3/4-inch round opening. Its embossing includes the “Brooklyn, N. Y.” location, dating it between 1888 and 1908.