Horseshoer seems like a little bit of an exotic profession today, but in the 19th century--in fact until the 1920's--a motorized truck could not haul as much weight as a draft horse and wagon. While intercity freight was transported by the most modern technology available--steam and electric railroads--local freight cartage was carried in the same way it had been for centuries--by "teamsters" who drove a team of horses.
Horseshoeing was vital and indispensable to horse-drawn transportation. Horses that are used for work on hard surfaces require horseshoes to preserve the hoof. Wild horses did not have needed a harder hoof since they spent most of their time feeding and roaming grassy, soft areas. Their hooves wore down at the correct rate for their needs. Once horses were domesticated, they spent more time on roads and city streets. Hooves now wore down too quickly, and were damaged. A metal horseshoe, uniquely fitted to the animal, gives the horse stability and protection from these new elements that nature did not design their hooves for.
Horseshoeing was closely allied with blacksmithing, or working with and shaping iron, and once the work horse had passed from the scene, many horseshoers, like Abraham Knoble, turned to full time blacksmithing at 1741 W 7th St., long since torn down.
William Latchford, Local 28's "Sergeant-at-Arms," was employed by Engine Company No. 8 of the St Paul Fire Department. Lest it be forgotten, the Department's motive power was, of course, provided by horses for all of the 19th century.
"Leather Workers on Horse Goods"
The 19th century labor unions were broadly representative of these circumstances. Not only were the horseshoers engaged in maintaining the free flow of horse-powered commerce, the members of St Paul's Leather Workers on Horse Goods Local Union 19 manufactured a myriad of leather implements essential to keeping the nags moving--harnesses, reins, collars and, yes, horsewhips.
While no one ethnic group predominated in this industry, there is a strong indication that Germans played a large part--the union's official monthly publication,The Leather Workers' Journal, had a regular feature re-printing news from the German language and Berlin-based Sattler-Zeitung, the organ of the Sattler Verbande, or Saddle Makers Union.
One of the Bohemian West End workers enrolled in the St Paul union local was Frank J Jelinek, the Secretary-Treasurer, and an employee of the Scheffer-Rossum Company, who lived at 301 Goodhue St, just a short walk to the CSPS Hall. Brother Jelinek reported in the August, 1906 issue of the union's Journal that a spirited baseball tournament, involving teams from Scheffer and Rossum, and the PRL Hardenbergh Company, among others. The contests took place at Schmidt's Park and the winning team was awarded a barrel of the brewery's best beer.