Tag: Remington Arms

Ilion, NY: The Klippels, the Gardiniers, the Gilberts, and Remington Arms

Early Mohawk Valley settlers

The region of New York where Ilion is located was first settled by Palatine Germans under the Burnetsfield Patent about 1725. The first settlers took plots along Steele Creek, which flows through what is now known as the Ilion Gorge and into the Mohawk River.

The Battle of Oriskany in the Mohawk Valley was one of the bloodiest battles fought in the American Revolution and was a major engagement during British General John Burgoyne’s Saratoga campaign. If you have read the novel, Drums Along the Mohawk, by Walter D Edmonds, you may be familiar with a character named, “Mad” Jacob Gardinier.

Being essentially historical fiction, there are many “real” historic characters in the story including General Nicholas Herkimer, Adam Helmer, William Caldwell, and yes, Jacob Gardinier.

“Mad” Jacob Gardinier was born on February 7, 1727 at Kinderhook, NY. He married Dirkji Vanderwerken from Albany, NY. They are buried in the Maple Avenue Cemetery in Fultonville, NY.

Jacob Gardinier served as a First Lieutenant in the Third Regiment of the Albany County Militia in 1768. In August of 1775, he was appointed Captain of the First Company, Third Battalion of Tyron County Militia, and was wounded at the Battle of Oriskany. Jacob Gardinier resigned his commission on March 26, 1787.

He died in 1808, but if alive today he would, I guess, be my great, great, great grandfather.

The Village of Ilion

The small village of Ilion began to grow in 1816 when Eliphalet Remington created his first flint-lock rifle. A blacksmith by trade, he built the rifle using a firing mechanism he purchased from a gunsmith and a rifle barrel he forged himself. The rifle was so popular he started producing them in quantity. This enterprise developed into what later became the Remington Arms manufacturing company. 

Ilion continued to grow after the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, which provided a trade connection to exchange products with Albany and the Great Lakes region. By 1850, the Village of Ilion had grown to a population of 812, not counting livestock.

Klippels and Gardiniers

William J Gardinier, circa 1904

William J Gardinier was born in the Town of Danube in 1870. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Cornell University in 1893, and was admitted to the bar in 1895. He married Minnie Lee of Herkimer in 1896 and went on to become a lawyer of some note, practicing law in Herkimer until he retired in 1963. William Gardiner had two sons, Russell and Elton, and a daughter, Eileen. who later married Erwin Klippel and became my grandmother.

The Klippel Saw Mill and the Lumber Yard on Elm Street.

Klippel Family Homestead on Litchfield Rd, circa 1890
Irving Klippel is on the horse

The Klippels immigrated here from Germany in the mid-to late 1800s. I know early members of the Klippel side of my family ran a sawmill in the Ilion Gorge and other members ran a lumber yard in Ilion on Elm Street.

Ilion Gorge, circa 1915
Front: Irving and Erwin Klippel
Back: Kathryn and Wagner Klippel

Erwin Klippel married Eileen Gardinier, mentioned above. They had three children, Kenneth Klippel, Ardis Klippel (Gilbert, my mother), and Carol Klippel (Piser)

The Lumber Yard, circa 1914
One of Ilion’s thriving industries

The lumber yard was started by Conrad Klipple. I am not sure when and where the spelling of the name Klipple switched to Klippel, but I do remember, as a young boy, hearing discussions about some branch of the family spelling it that way.

Arriving in Ilion in the 1890s, Conrad Klipple first established himself as a skilled carpenter, before expanding into the lumber business. The house where Conrad Klipple resided was at 64 Elm Street, and it still stands to this day. According to a 1925 map of Ilion, the office building for the lumber yard was located at 66 Elm Street; directly behind Klipple’s house.

The Klippels, the Gilberts, and Remington Arms

My grandfather, Erwin Klippel worked at Remington Arms as a gun assembler, and if memory servers me correctly, he built the prototype for the Remington Model 1100 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun. His wife, Eileen (Gardinier) Klippel, worked as the Secretary and Treasurer for Ilion High School for many years.

Erwin and Eileen Klippel, circa 1934

His older brother, Wagner Klippel, worked at Remington Rand, just across the street. “The Rand” as it was called made mechanical calculators. In the 1950s, they built the first real digital computer. It used radio tubes, (triodes), for its processing and memory systems. My dad didn’t see the computer, but he saw the truck they used to transport it – a huge 18 wheeler. However, one of Great Uncle Wagner’s sons, Bob Klippel, did work for Remington Arms as well.

On the Gilbert side of the family, both my Grandmother and Grandfather worked for Remington Arms. Marjorie (Widmer) Gilbert was the customer service representative for the custom-built division of Remington Arms for many years. So, if you had a custom-built Remington rifle or shotgun, and you had dealings with customer services during the 50s or 60s, you probably dealt with her.

Bernell and Marjorie Gilbert, circa 1940
Steuben Rd, Herkimer, NY

My Grandfather, Bernell Henry Gilbert, served in Japan with General MacArthur during World War II. After returning from Japan, he eventually ended up at Remington Arms, heading the shipping and logistics department for many years.

As a final note, I have a wonderful collection of letters written between my Grandmother and Grandfather Gilbert while he was serving in the Army. I will soon be working on a novel based on those letters.

The Wisdom of Grandfathers

Something that I think we are in danger of losing as our society turns more toward social media and texting for communication is talking to and gaining wisdom from those who came before us.

Erwin Klippel

My Grandfather Klippel was a pretty handy guy. He worked for Remington Arms in Ilion, NY, as a gun assembler, and if memory servers me correctly, he built the prototype for the Remington Model 1100 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun.

As a young man, he’d gone out west to study to be an airplane engine mechanic, but unfortunately, had to give that up to come home and help on his family’s farm. But he could build a camp, drive a truck, pour concrete, raise chickens, or tell you where to dig your well. And he had an endless supply of witty, often whimsical comments and stories to tell.

He played semi-pro football, and I understand he was also quite a dancer and rode an old Indian motorcycle around, at least until he met my Grandmother. He also taught me how to split wood with an ax, which incidentally helped me to embarrass a lot of bigger and stronger guys when it came to ringing the bell with a big hammer at state fairs. Looking back, I am glad they didn’t get too upset by that!

But, most importantly, he had a lot of wisdom and was always willing to share.

Never a borrower be, but …

One of my favorite stories my mother shared with me about her father involves a rusty old saw.

When my mother was a little girl, she was helping my Grandfather repair one of the chicken coops in the back yard. He needed some sort of saw that he did not have. He hated to borrow things but had little choice, so he went to a neighbor and asked to borrow that particular kind of saw.

His neighbor was kind enough to loan him the use of the saw, but the saw was in terrible shape. It was dull, the blade was rusted and pitted, and the handle was loose. My Grandfather made the saw work, and when he was done, he took it into his workshop and began to work on the saw. With my mother watching, he cleaned and polished the blade, sharpened it, and repaired the loose handle.

My mother asked him why he was doing all that. She could not understand why he would spend the time fixing a saw he had borrowed. Clearly, she said, the saw’s owner wasn’t concerned about it.

My Grandfather turned to her and said, “Ardis, always return something in better shape than when you borrowed it. Doing that can only serve you well in life.”

That bit of wisdom had a big impact on my mother, and later, also on me.

We need more people today to think like that!

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Don’t Bring Your Momma’s Tack Hammer!!

22-ounce wooden-handled framing hammer with mi...
22-ounce wooden-handled framing hammer with milled head and “straight” claw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was listening to the Hannity Show awhile back and Sean was interviewing some leader of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  This angry young man had amassed over $200,000 in student loans.  He felt the government should pay for his school, his housing, his food, etc.,  He stated he was not against working but that he would not work for less than $80,000 per year starting salary (and ummm … that’s was with no job experience).  Is this the kind of entitlement-minded, narcissistic idiots our NEA controlled public school system is producing for us  today?  An “entitlement kiddie” with his head full of socialist ideals and unsustainable utopian theories, and absolutely no work ethic, drive to succeed, real life experience, wisdom, or common sense?  I am so glad I do not have young children in today’s public school system.  I guess they would have to be “Home Schooled!”

What I want to know is … where was this kid’s grandfather?  I remember the “pearls of wisdom” my grandfathers passed on to me that helped shape the man I am today.  They helped form my work ethic, my sense of working for and earning what I receive, and … how to treat other people. Both of my grandfather’s worked at Remington Arms in Ilion, New York.  They were hardworking, blue-collar, honest men who gave a day’s work for a day’s wage.  They saved their money, provided for their families, and turned out the terrific, hardworking youngsters who later became my parents.  They suffered, they learned, they loved, and they sacrificed … for their families and their country.  They also developed a lot of real wisdom as they earned their wrinkles and lost their gray hair during those years following WWII.  I still remember some of these “Pearls of Wisdom ” like:

  • Measure twice, cut once!
  • Always return a tool in better shape than it was in when you borrowed it.
  • Can’t never could do anything
  • I sawed it off twice and it’s still too short.
  • It’s not what you say, it’s what you do that matters
  • The only people who never make mistakes are the people who never do anything

Hallerin Hilton Hill had a caller this morning on his radio talk show who related a story about his father.  His father was a life-long carpenter.  The caller told us how, from the time he was thirteen, he spent his summers helping his father; getting yanked out of bed early, toting 2 x 4 ‘s, driving nails, etc.  He worked and earned his own money.  He even bought his own school clothes throughout his years in middle school and high school.  That work ethic is with him to this day.  I especially like the part of the story where he talked about his dad‘s method of interviewing possible new crew members.  Of course, they would always claim to have many years of experience framing houses, building decks, etc.  His dad would shrug that off and simply ask to see the guy’s hammer.  I guess it was pretty obvious by looking at the guy’s hammer what kind of experience he had?  The caller told how once, his dad even turned and threw the guys hammer into the river and said something like, “Boy, don’t ever bring your mamma’s tack hammer to a carpenter’s job interview!”   I guess the guy probably didn’t get the job.

We need parents in this country who take the time to teach their kids real values, life skills, and common sense; to teach them how to get up when they fall down.  We need our grandfather’s wisdom to be passed down again.  Our country needs Americans who believe in hard work, in earning what you get, who have the gumption to get back up if they get knocked down, and who love their country!  We already have more than enough parasites who hope to fundamentally transform our country so they can simply lay back and suckle at the government’s teat … or folks who show up with their momma’s tack hammer and expect $80,000 a year!