A ‘Short’ Short Story

by Keith Schmidt

In the 1899 Cleveland Directory, on #1 North Street, next to the Episcopal Church is a man named S. Frank Putney, a Methodist and a glassworker. The S at the beginning of his name stands for Simeon. He is married to a woman named Mary. For both, this is their 2nd marriage. The third person living with them on North Street is Herbert A Short, which this short story is about, sort of. Herbert A Short is a glassworker, a gatherer, so his family and friends will be glassworkers, as we will see.

First we will go back to find out why Herbert Short is staying with Mr. & Mrs. Putney.

In the town of Amboy in the year 1873 a son was born to Henry C Short and Mary Warn. He had a grandfather Phillip Warn and Grandmother Laura living in his house when he arrived and an Uncle Calvin, (Mary’s brother), living in nearby Constantia. The son was given the name Herbert A. Short. Herbert Short grew up and went to school in Amboy. He also worked with his father. Henry Short was a merchant and probably did alright by his family, but he died early in life. Before he was 20 years old Herbert’s father died, both his grandparents were gone and his mother was a window.  The business was lost.

We have to imagine that being a merchant, Henry and his wife made many acquaintances, among them the well paid glassworkers. It would be of no surprise that Mary would find a suitable male in the lot for her and her son. Simeon Frank Putney fit the bill.  A glassworker was able to teach his trade to his new son, thus Herbert A Short became a glassworker because of his step-father.

Before 1899 Hebert lived and worked in Cleveland, his mother is remarried and he meets his future wife and mother of his children. A new life has unfolded itself before he is 24.  At 24 he marries, its late 1899. His wife is Grace Koehler, a daughter of Frederick Koehler, a glass flattener. Grace’s mother dies the same year. In 1901 Grace has her first child and names him Frederick, after her father. Herbert and Grace are living in Pennsylvania where Herbert is employed in his trade. In 1902 they come back to Cleveland. Herbert has family and friends, a good job and a house with a mortgage. In the fall of 1902 he goes hunting with his friends and fellow glassworkers, Edward Winn and Orson M Morenus.

Friends and relatives of the hunting party who did not already know read with dismay and shock the headlines in the Utica Herald Dispatch Monday evening, September 8, 1902.  HIS FRIEND THE VICTIM, HERBERT SHORT OF CLEVELAND, NY ACCIDENTALLY SHOT WAS MISTAKEN FOR A DEER.  Tuesday the 9th the NY Herald carried this report:

Utica, NY- another shooting accident in the Adirondacks in which a hunter mistook his friend for a deer and seriously wounded him took place last evening near Onekio. Herbert Short of Cleveland NY is the victim and Orson Morenus also of Cleveland, a friend of Mr. Short, did the shooting. Mr. Short’s wounds may be fatal.

A few days later another paper carries the news; Short who is about 28 years old moved to St Luke’s Hospital in Utica. Glassworker at Cleveland Glass Company will probably die. And another: HERBERT SHORT NEAR DEATH.

On November 14th 1902 Herbert A Short was discharged from St Luke’s Hospital and returned home by train. When home, and allowed, by his wife to have visitors, he told his friends that the story of his demise was greatly exaggerated.  Thus he began another chapter in his life.

In 1910 it looks like Herb has made a complete recovery. He still is with Grace, they still only have the one child, and he still is a gatherer and still has a mortgage on his home on Lake Street.  The same in 1920 save for another child, Herbert P. and now they live on North Street. Herbert P was also born in PA, meaning they are still traveling back and forth to the glass factories and their home in Cleveland.

In 1930 we find that Herbert can’t keep ahead of heartache and tragedy. Herb now is widowed, without Grace. His youngest and he live on North Street in a rented house and he takes care of his mother who lives with them and who now is also widowed. Herbert A, Herbert P and Mary Warn Short Putney. Herbert P, like his father, lost one of his parents while in his teens. Simeon Frank Putney died January 6 1927 in Central Square NY. According to his civil war pension papers he enlisted in Aug of 62 and discharged in September of 65. Co B 117 Reg NY INF.

Life goes on, as they say.  In 1942 Herbert A is 69 years old and working on a derrick boat in Canajoharie in the Barge Canal.  And this of a man the papers wrote off as dead. Finally there prediction came true.

July 29, 1945- Herbert Short, 72, retired glassworker and life resident of Cleveland died at his home Sunday. Born in Amboy 28 Feb 1873, He was the son of Clay and Mary Warn Short. His wife died several years ago. Survivors are Fred Short of Cleveland and Paul (Herbert P) Short of Rome, also a step daughter, Mrs. Harriet Putney of Schenectady.   WINN AND CAMPBELL FUNERAL HOME, B BAY.

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