The Worthing & Alger Company
The abandoned factory on Carleton Road between Union and Oak Streets once housed a thriving fur business. The Worthing & Alger Company tanned skins and created garments from animals they furnished as well as from skins supplied by the customer. Almost any mammal could be turned into a coat, hat, muff, collar, cuffs, rug or robe. Using the fur of wild creatures and domestic farm animals isn't unusual; the use of cat and dog skins, however, seems grisly. One "Book of Furs for Ladies and Gentlemen" published by Worthing & Alger showed a woman modeling an "Actual Dog Skin Set" of muff and stole, advising that if the customer would "furnish two Collie Dog Skins, we do the rest for only $10.00."
Fur garments from Worthing & Alger were sold across the United States, as well as in many of villages in Hillsdale County, with hides supplied by the customer at half the price of those furnished by Worthing & Alger. Putting aside our squeamishness in turning family pets into garments, we can admire the early recycling efforts of our ancestors as they created a second use for animals that had died on their farms (or in their homes).
JoAnne P. Miller
JoAnne P. Miller (2013)