Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Talented Tuesday -An Inventor In The Family

Asa Shadrack Sherman, Part II

On this past Sunday, I wrote about my maternal gr-gr-gr-grandfather, Asa Shadrack Sherman.  His 1904  obituary stated "Mr. Sherman, who has been engaged in laying cement walks in the village,...". I had heard stories that Asa had laid cement sidewalks in Canastota (Madison County, NY), and even heard stories that some plaques in the sidewalk cement still existed. But yesterday, I learned so much more about this whole endeavor, thanks to a 2010 news article link sent to me by a 3rd cousin, Robin Hadden.

You see, Asa not only laid the concrete for the sidewalks, but he had invented a formula for a concrete that would withstand the harsh upstate NY winters!  Prior to this, other concretes had been tried, but they had all failed to survive the New York winter frosts. Asa substituted ground stone dust for sand and increased the amount of cement used. Some of his concrete sidewalks that were laid have lasted over 100 years. There are still seven original brass plates embedded in Asa's original concrete sidewalks that survive.

The brass plates embedded in the sidewalk concrete say:


The surviving brass plates can be found embedded in the sidewalk in these locations in the Village of Canastota:

  • near the corner of Wilson Avenue and Spencer Street
  • near the corner of Elm and Spencer Streets
  • near the corner of Ball Avenue and Spencer Street
  • near the corner of Spencer and Chapel Streets
  • near the corner of Main and Lewis Streets
  • on Hickory Street in the direction of Main Street
  • near the corner of Peterboro and Hickory Streets

In July 2010, as part of Canatota's bicentennial celebration, the "Canastota Walk Through History Contest" was sponsored by the Canal Town Museum. Part of the contest was locating all seven of these brass plates successfully.

You can read more about this - and see a photo of one of the original sidewalk embedded plates - in the July 29, 2010 Oneida Daily Dispatch article by Matt Powers, Dispatch Staff Writer.

I had no idea that Asa had actually invented the formula for this special concrete himself. When his obit said he had been laying cement, I just assumed he was mixing up and laying standard everyday common cement. This is so cool to learn that he was a creative thinker and problem solver.

I'm so excited to learn this new-to-me information!

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