In the 1800s, most of the commerce at Halfmoon in Saratoga County, NY, was located close to the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. Joshua Anthony however, developed his spice factory in a remote part of northern Halfmoon on his grandfather’s farm on Farm to Market and Anthony Roads.
The three-story tower in the center of the factory once boasted a windmill that provided power for the machinery. Anthony heated the farmhouse and buildings in the winter with steam from the factory.
He began his operations in 1869 under the name “Anthony and Co’s Universal Baking Powder” with the manufacture of baking powder and cream of tartar. He was known to manufacture a very superior and pure baking powder and he boasted it was the best Baking Powder ever introduced to the public.
The company introduced spice grinding and the production of extracts for flavoring in 1892. It’s said that visitors wept when the company was grinding their Simon Pure Pepper, of which the company as much as 3,000 pounds a day. Most of the employees were women.
In 1882, the success of his business prompted Anthony to approach the Delaware and Hudson Railroad and convince them to establish a station on the Schenectady Branch at nearby Ushers. The following year, Anthony had a private telegraph line run from Ushers, Clifton Park and Round Lake to his factory and in 1883 he helped secure a US Post Office in Ushers.
Around the turn of the century, Anthony was dealing exclusively with the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (aka A&P). With rising shipping costs, the operators of the A&P chain tried to entice him to move his operations to New York City, but he refused.
Joshua Anthony was born February 16, 1839, in Adams, Massachusetts. He and his three younger brothers were orphaned at a young age. They were raised by their maternal grandparents Zephaniah and Joanna Wells Buffington who were devout Quakers. They moved to New York State and the boys were raised on what was to become the Anthony farm. At 18, Joshua left the farm and clerked in local mercantile stores gaining business experience, returning to farm in 1867 at age 28. He started the baking powder business two years later.
At age 93, he was interviewed by a local newspaper and recalled voting for Abe Lincoln in 1860, his very first vote. He cast his ballot for Lincoln again four years later and recalled the grief that shook a nation when Lincoln was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer and slavery supporter John Wilkes Booth. Anthony said he voted for every Republican President since Lincoln, including Herbert Hoover in 1928, with whom he shared the Quaker faith.
Anthony passed away at age 94. Here is an excerpt from his obituary:
JOSHUA ANTHONY, 94, MASON FOR 66 YEARS, DIES HERE STILLWATER, Oct. 31 (Special)— Following an illness of three days, Stillwater’s oldest citizen, Joshua Anthony, died at his home here Saturday evening. Mr. Anthony who was in his 94th year was New York State’s oldest Mason, having been affiliated with the order for 66 years. He was a member of OnDa-Wa Lodge in Mechanicville where he has held an office for 35 years.
At Anthony and Farm to Market Roads the factory building and farmhouse remain relatively unchanged. The road names used in the Old Dater Farms housing development next door reflect the products the company manufactured and sold.
Joshua Anthoy’s first cousin was Susan B. Anthony, also born in Adams, Mass., and a leader of the Suffrage Movement. She visited the Anthony Farm at the time Joshua operated the Spice Mills. A third cousin, Mrs. Arthur Collins, related that when Susan was about 19 she used to babysit Joshua Anthony for her grandfather.
Photos, from above: undated photo of Joshua Anthony’s Spice Factory in Halfmoon, Saratoga County, NY; an advertisement for Anthony’s Universal Baking Powder (courtesy town of Clifton Park History Collection); and a ca. 1883 photograph believed to be Joshua Anthony, his wife Mary and daughter Sila (courtesy Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library).
Lynda Bryan, a life-long resident of the Town of Halfmoon, serves as Town Clerk since 2010, and is Town Historian and President of the Halfmoon Historical Society.