Scranton Lace Company, Here I Come

Teaching is hard.  Like….really hard.  You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in two months!  Two whole months!  Sometimes I’ll sit down to the computer to write something out cause I have a great thought…and maybe…just maybe…a three sentence post is better than no post at all.  But I am honestly too tired to even begin to think about what to write.

I started teaching this year, full-time, US History and US Government.  I have had not a moment’s rest since the first day of school.  But today…I took a little diversion from grading bell-ringer worksheets and started planning my fall break.  I work at Indianapolis Public Schools and we are now on what is called a “balanced schedule”.  This means we go to school earlier in the fall, get out later in the spring, but have these amazing breaks in between.  So I have a lovely 2 week fall break coming up, and I can’t wait!

I am heading out east to visit some friends in NYC and do some family history research in Scranton, PA, FINALLY!  I am absolute delighted to be going to Scranton, where generations of Kinsleys, Laceys, and Smiths resided.  This is the town where my mom spent her young childhood.  This is also the town of the fictional Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company.  If there was a museum devoted to The Office we would be going.

While I got distracted, planning my vaca, I also took a little diversion onto (so naughty! I know!) and just did a general search for Charles W. Kinsley (my grandfather and also his father).  I ended up finding a new little tidbit of information about what C.W. Kinsley Sr. did as an occupation.  The 1936 City Directory had him working as a purchase agent at the Scranton Lace Company.  So I decided to Google the Scranton Lace Company to see if it was still in operation.  Sadly it seems that it closed in 2002 – but I was utterly delighted to come upon someone’s photo-blog of their urban exploration photos of this shuttered factory.  The photos are amazing, and have me dying to go visit.  If you’re into abandoned/urban decay pictures, you’ll love this:

The Art of Abandonment

As I was reading more about this company I came to find out that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s father and grandfather worked in this factory as well!  So I perused the R’s in the 1937 Directory and the one page that the Rodhams were on was missing!  Shenanigans!  So I looked to see if they had any other years posted and they did!  One year earlier, 1936.  So I looked up the Kinsleys first to make sure they were working at the factory then as well.  They were.  Then I found Mr. Hugh Rodham!  And yes, he worked at the lace factory with my great-grandfather.

1905 Scranton Lace Company Gold Bond Note

In addition to their place of employment, the directory also lists their residences.  It turns out these two fellows lived less than a mile from each other, both pretty close to the factory.

Whether you appreciate the Clinton’s politics or not, it’s pretty cool to have a link to a “first family”.


14 thoughts on “Scranton Lace Company, Here I Come

  1. Can you tell me the links to the 1936 and 1937 Scranton Lace company directories you reference in this piece? My father was a millwright at Scranton Law during this time, and he rose to president of its union before having to move on in the early 50s when Scranton Lace was “downsizing”.

  2. Hey there! I was able to find them on I can see if I can save a screenshot of your father’s information if you don’t have a subscription and email it back to you. Let me know.

  3. I was born and raised in Archbald, Pa. and left in 1986. I’ve never heard of the Scranton Lace Co.. May I please asked for building address?

  4. My wife owns a vintage linen and lace shop in downtown Colorado Springs. I managed to get ahold of some lace from Scranton Lace Company and knowing the history of it, I was doing some research on the history of the company. In the process, I fuirst came across your post, and then I found this history of Scranton that may have some of your relations in it. I haven’t gone all the way through the book, but it is funny and I thought it might be something you would enjoy (assuming you haven;t already read it) Heres the direct link to the book located in the Scranton Public Library archive.
    Have fun.
    Gary Clark

    • I have not read it. What a great and bizarre little book! I’m definitely going to have to give this a full read when I have some time. Thanks for the link!

    • Unfortunately no one is allowed it. It looks pretty awesome though, right? I would love to get in there. However, there are cameras…and the time we drove by it looked like there were people working in there.

      • I have been inside many times, and in July, I am actually doing an art gallery showing of pictures that I took both inside and out. Amazing building steeped in history and lore!

  5. Many of my family worked there in the 30s and 40s. It was recently featured on a tv show where two guys went thru it looking for valuables for resale. ( there was very little). It was the salvation of many desperate immigrants, but salaries were horrible. My mom took home $12 per week for backbreaking work mending lace. The owners were very affluent and lived in mansions in Clark’s summit and waverly.

  6. My grandfather, Grant Kaley, worked at the Scranton Lace Company in the late 20s-30s. My mother Mabel Robson was the secretary of Mac Megargel (spelling?) and she met my dad, Robert (Bob) Kaley at the company. They married in 1930 in Scranton and she remained working there while my dad went to engineering school in Rolla, Missouri. I have my mother’s autograph book with many autographs of her fellow employees, not, alas one from Hil’s dad!

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