Glove maker was source of scandal: Ogdensburg company made big headlines

In the early 1900s, gloves were big business. Mittens, unlined gloves, fleece lined, rabbit fur, lambskin, gloves of all shapes and sizes were the hottest and most practical fashion accessory and there were dozens of options from which to choose.

The story of the Dinberg Glove and Mitten Co., which was located on the corner of State and Gilbert streets in Ogdensburg, is one that reads like a modern-day television procedural drama.
Alleged arson, murder and a court battle all pepper the history of the Dinberg Glove and Mitten Co., which was the former W.J. McIntosh Glove Co.

In late 1934, the Ogdensburg Advance News “unofficially but reliably reported” that Israel Dinberg and his brothers, Harry and Nathan, would be purchasing the McIntosh Glove Co. and all of its assets, machinery and inventory. The W.J. McIntosh Co. was one of Ogdensburg’s most thriving manufacturers and, at the time of the sale to the Dinberg brothers, had been in operation for more than 25 years.

It was the former Phair Glove Co., at which W.J. McIntosh was employed.

The McIntosh name was well respected in Ogdensburg industry circles. In the early 1920s, it was reported that W.J. McIntosh would be incorporated with a capital stock of $50,000 and would expand its physical plant location in the city. Mr. McIntosh had stated that business had increased to such an extent in years prior to 1920 that it became necessary to enlarge the plant that sat on the corner of State and Gilbert streets. He announced plans to increase the number of employees to at least 100 by summer of 1920.

More than a year later, W.J. McIntosh Co. was still floundering as it sought help. In a 1921 Ogdensburg Republican-Journal article announcing the appointment of John T. Hannan as president of the company it was stated that, “The glove manufacturing plant is doing a flourishing business under the direction of W.J. McIntosh, who is an expert glove man. The factory is rushed with orders but because of the inability to secure sufficient help, the plant has been unable to handle all the work demand.”

The Dinberg brothers were not new to glove manufacturing. They had previously operated their own glove business in Ogdensburg and, according to the Advance News, had “developed the industry to such an extent that added space was needed.” Gloves manufactured by the Dinberg brothers were sold nationwide through national distributors. Those contracts and national exposure continued as the company grew into the W.J. McIntosh site.

As early as Christmas 1934, advertisements popped up in local newspapers, including the Hammond Advertiser, which promoted the liquidation of the McIntosh Glove Factory stock, being sold at “manufacturer’s wholesale price.”

The Dinberg family did a strong business in Ogdensburg throughout much of the 1900s. Israel Dinberg served as president of the glove company, while his two brothers, Harry and Nathan, operated Dinberg Bros., a shoe dealer also located in Ogdensburg. However, drama in the family story was always evident.

Early in 1926, David Dinberg, a Russian immigrant, junk dealer and father to the three Dinberg brothers, was found murdered in his home in Ogdensburg. The killing had all the makings of a murder mystery: a brutal beating, a bloody hatchet that police found hidden in Mr. Dinberg’s junkyard and a vagrant who allegedly committed the crime during an attempted robbery.

The elder Mr. Dinberg, billed in newspaper reports, earned a decent wage and police believed that he was killed after a botched robbery. The murder was discovered after a neighbor phoned police to alert them that Mr. Dinberg’s horse had been wandering his property unattended. Police entered Mr. Dinberg’s home to find him in a pool of blood, footprints in the snow outside leading to and from the home, fingerprints on the walls and a pocket in Mr. Dinberg’s trousers ripped out.

Michel Lisowsky, also known as Mickel Lisaur, was suspected of killing Mr. Dinsberg after a hatchet belonging to him had been found hidden in the junkyard. Police also found a pair of khaki trousers belonging to Mr. Lisowsky that had been cut into pieces and scrubbed vigorously in what was believed to be an attempt to hide evidence.

In 1941, Israel Dinberg was the center of media attention because of legal trouble. He was arrested and charged not once, but twice for violating a state penal code the covered wage kickbacks. The charges were the result of an employee strike that lasted nine weeks at the glove factory.

On the night of Nov. 12, 1964, a massive fire destroyed much of the glove factory at 215 Gilbert St. The estimated cost of damage exceeded $40,000, a large sum at the time. Police were summoned to the scene of the blaze after fire chief Paul Silver found signs of gasoline at the site. Photographs of the scene showed gasoline containers on the second floor just minutes after the fire was first discovered, around 8:16 p.m. on that night. Firefighters also found at least three gasoline containers on the second floor, with a wick extending out of at least one. When firefighters arrived, all the doors to the building were locked.

At age 72, Israel Dinberg died on Nov. 9, 1969, of an apparent heart attack. He had retired in 1965 after the fire that destroyed the glove factory.

-Kyle R. Hayes

Business history is a monthly feature from the archives of the Watertown Daily Times. Visit www.watertowndailytimes.com to access digital archives since 1988, or stop by the Times, 260 Washington St., Watertown to research materials in our library that date back to the 1800s.