Daniel Curtis Rand (pictured here) came from New England in
the 1863. He settled in Pittsford and opened the powder mill where he
used in western New York stone quarries and the coal mines in northern
Pennsylvania. Gun powder, which played an important part in the Civil
War, was also manufactured at the powder mills. A native of New Hampshire,
Rand had learned the business in a plant in Middleton, Conn. owned by
his sister, Lucia Rand.
Ready to open his own business, Rand traveled to western NY. One evening
he met Mortimer Wadhams who operated a grist mill at Railroad Mills.
Rand knew exactly what the site of the business should contain. It must
have water, shipping facilites must be readily available, and most importantly,
it must be secluded because of potential accidents and explosions. He
wanted some hills, too, and when he came upon that section of Irondequoit
creek, not far from Wadhams mill, his search ended.
Wadhams joined Rand and the business became known as Rand and Wadhams
Manufacturing of Mining, Blasting and Sporting Powder. It remained so
until 1900 when it was renamed the D.C. Rand Powder Co.
Daniel had learned much about the dangers of explosions at the Middleton
plant, and his plan was to build several mills, one for each step in
the process, a good distance from each other. Wooden pegs were used in
the construction to lessen the chance of sparks which might ignite dangerous
explosives. A little wooden railroad connected the buildings and wooden
wheels were used on the flat car which carried materials from one building
A machine shop was built high on a hill to keep the forge far away from
the explosives. It was here, also, the Daniel built his homestead for
his bride – the daughter of his partner – Stella Wadhams.
The couple had four sons, C.Mortimer, Robert, Samuel, and Phillip. There
were three daughters, Lucia, Lucy, and Stella.
Daniel died when his son, Phillip was 14. Phillip and his mother took
over the business which continued to operate until about 1910 after a
series of unfortunate explosions. The homeplace of the Rands was called “Oakridge”.
The powder mill property was sold to Monroe County about 1930 for the
development of a county park. The homestead was torn down about that
On December 27, 1887, at 6:30 o’ clock in the morning, the Rand & Co.
powder mill exploded, but the workmen being at their breakfast and not
about the plant escaped injury.
Contemporary newspaper accounts of the event related that the shock
was felt as far away as Honeoye Lake and at Canandaigua Lake, and at
Avon – the noise being noted as well as the tremor. The gatekeeper
at Hemlock Lake, attending the Rochester Water Works installations, telephoned
to Rochester to inquire as to what had happened.