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"Boots, Shoes & Rubbers for Everybody at Sovereign's Cash Shoe Store"
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The Sovereign Shoe Store was located in the Botsford Block in downtown Greenfield, Massachusetts. Because it sold shoes that it had not made itself, it is representative of an enormous change in how shoes were made in the years after the Civil War. Prior to 1858, shoes had to be made almost entirely by hand. That labor-intensive method, combined with the individual fitting of shoes, meant that there were few reasons to create factories to make large numbers of shoes. In 1858, Lyman Reed Blake created a sewing machine to sew shoes with only a limited success. Until the Civil War with the departure of thousands of cobblers, meant that there was no one around to create shoes for both civilians and soldiers. In a rapid period of time hundreds of shoe factories were built to produce new machine-made shoes using standardized sizes mainly for the soldiers. After the war this new shoemaking capacity was turned to civilian uses and the old ways of shoe-making ended forever in the United States.
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