This is the Vandervort mill I picked up from a lady who found it in their farmhouse attic in New York.
John Vandervort, machinist, is a native of Schoharie county, N.Y., born January 6th, 1832, and came with his parents to Tuscarora, Bradford county, in 1840. In 1854 he went to Illinois, where he was farming and worked at his trade fifteen years. Afterwards he operated extensive iron works at Binghamton, N.Y., until 1874, when he settled at Laceyville and built a planing-mill which he and his son still operate, manufacturing bee keepers' supplies almost exclusively. He is extensively engaged in the bee and honey business and is widely known throughout Pennsylvania and New York as a scientific and successful beekeeper. He is the inventor of several improvements in machinery connected with the business. - History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, PA. 1880
Comb-foundation has of late been receiving the careful attention of many skilled workmen and thorough manufacturers.
In the construction of machines for making foundations with the natural or hexagonal base, I think I am justified in saying that in perfection of workmanship, J. Vandervort, of Laceyville, Pa., stands at the head. His machine for making a light quality of foundation, shown in fig.77, is acknowledged to be the most perfect one for the purpose ever made. He claims it to be the only machine that will make foundation with natural base as light as twelve square feet to the pound. Messrs. Dadant & Son, Hamilton, Ills., who are high authority, as they unquestionably manufacture the best grade of natural base foundation in America, use it in preference to any other.
I feel certain that the heavy grades of this make for brood frames will also take a prominent position. Mr. Vandervort deserves patronage from the fact that while he gives us a better machine, he also gives us a cheaper one. - Quinby’s New Bee-Keeping. by L. C. Root 1885
684. The Root-mills,-the most practical-have been improved upon in different ways, by C. Olm, by Mrs. Dunham of Wisconsin, and by J. Vandervort of Pennsylvania. The latter gentleman, one of America's eminent machinists, makes most superior mills for any grade of foundation. - Langstroth on the Hive and Honey Bee. 1889
One morning, five or six of us, who had occupied the same bed-room the previous night during the North American Convention at Cincinnati, in 1882, were dressing preparatory to Another day's work. Among the rest were Bingham, of smoker fame, and Vandervort, the foundation-mill man. I think it was Prof. Cook who was chaffing these inventors, saying something to the effect that they were always at work studying how to get up something different from anybody else, and, if they needed an implement, would spend a dollar and a day's time to get up one "of their own make," rather than pay 25 cents for a better one ready-made. Vandervort, who sat contemplatively rubbing his shins, dryly replied: "But they take a world of comfort in it." I think all bee-keepers are possessed of more or less of the same spirit. Their own inventions and plans seem best to them, and in many cases they are right, to the extent that two of them, having almost opposite plans, would be losers to exchange plans. - Fifty Years Among the Bees. by Dr. C. C. Miller 1911
We are sorry to announce the deaths of J. Vandervort, Laceyville, Pa., Feb. 10, and D. C. Polhemus, of Lamar, Colo., Feb. 13.
Mr. Vandervort was the first man to manufacture foundation mills, making different thicknesses of walls for different weights, and in the eighties he made the first mills capable of turning out foundation over 12 feet to the pound.
Mr. Polhemus was a noted apiarist of Colorado, and his death followed his election as vice-president of the National Beekeepers' Association, after only five days.
These men both deserve a longer obituary notice, and we hope to be able to give it in our next number. - American Bee Journal, March, 1917
John Vandervort, whose death was announced in our March number, was born in Schoharie county, N. Y., Jan. 6, 1832, and at the age of 12 years, with his parents, went to live at Laceyville, Pa. He remained in the family home until 1853, when he was united in marriage with Miss Harriet Montgomery, of Silvara, a year later going to Marengo, Ill., where he spent about 15 years.
In 1869, Mr. Vandervort returned East, locating in Binghamton, and three years later permanently settled in Laceyville. At this time he formed a partnership with his son A. L., going into the planing mill business for the manufacture of beehives, the son taking charge of the milling end while the father devoted his time to bees, which in the following years proved a very successful venture. The partnership of father and son continued about three years, and in the dissolution the son took the milling business while the bee industry was continued by the father.
While in Binghamton, Mr. Vabdervort was for a time in partnership with Jones, who “pays the freight.”
Mr. Vandervort was the first manufacturer of comb-foundation cylinders to make mills of different cell walls for the different grades of foundation. The first machines made by Washburn under the direction and management of A. I. Root, were very accurate, but no attempt was made by him at first to make cell walls of different depth and thickness, or at least only one grade was put on the market. Mrs. Frances Dunham, of Depere, Wis., about 1880, put upon the market mills with a rounded cell which gave very satisfactory foundation. But this was a very heavy grade, as it was difficult to manufacture anything lighter than five square feet to the pound with her mills. Vandervort, who was a fine machinist, at the suggestion of the writer made mills with walls of different thicknesses and different depths. It was with his mills that the first separate grades of brood and super foundation were secured.
Vandervort was as warm hearted and generous as he was skilled in his profession. We used his mills for years, and I visited him in 1884, to suggest some improvements in his methods. He had a little shop about 12 by 12 feet, and in the midst of his skilled work, which required a great deal of attention, he would find occasion to help his neighbors. I remember his stopping from his work on a mill to repair a tool for a neighbor blacksmith, free of charge. He cared little for money, and I have before my eyes a letter from him, dated Sept. 2, 1884, in which he writes: “You sent me nearly $50 more than belongs to me, and for this I shall try to get even with you some future day.” We never could get him to send us a bill for the numerous mills that he manufactured or repaired for us, and one of his favorite sayings was: “What a grand country America would bi if it would only forget the Almighty Dollar.”
Mr. Vandervort was thrice married, and of the first marriage in 1853, there survive two children, Mrs. Carrie Darrow, of Reading, Pa., and A. L. Vandervort, of Laceyville. In June, 1875, he was married to Emily Jane Fish, of Silvara, and of this union there survives one daughter, Mrs. Frank Creasy, of Berwick, Pa., and in 1890 he was united in marriage to Mrs. Ella Brown, of Golden Hill, who also survives. - American Bee Journal, April, 1917