L.J. Backer, one of the proprietors of the Smethport Extract Works, East Smethport, son of Peter and Lovisa Backer, was born in Tioga County, Penn., in 1836, where he was reared and educated and began his business career. For several years he was in the employ of a large hemlock extract company, and as their traveling agent and salesman visited nearly all the territories of the United States, also Europe. While in their employ he contemplated the establishing of a company, and the erection of works for the manufacture of an extract for tanner's that would be in every way serviceable and reliable. With that purpose in view he devoted a year's time, and expended over $1,000 in traveling through the hemlock districts in search of a location. Finally his attention was called to Smethport, which is located in one of the finest white hemlock districts in the world, and he decided to make this the place of his operations. He accordingly had the necessary buildings erected, supplying them with the latest improved machinery, and in 1877 began the manufacture of extract. In 1883 the buildings were destroyed by fire, but were immediately rebuilt, and greatly enlarged, having now a capacity of 300 barrels weekly, being the largest works of the kind in the United States, and affording employment to a large number of men. The factory is now under the superintendence of Mr. Backer's son, Clarence A., mr. Backer and his family residing in Boston, Mass. Mr. Backer was married in 1860 to Miss H.E. Peters, and they have three children, two daughters and one son: Minnie E., Effie L. and Clarence A. In religion, Mr. Backer is a Methodist, and in politics a Republican.
2008 View of Former Smethport Wood Chemical Site
Source: Diana Phalon