The Ice Industry in the United States started in New York in the 1840's and grew into a substantial business wherever winters were cold enough to harvest ice. In the early years the ice was cut off of lakes and rivers by Farmers or small ice house business owners. After the Civil war much larger companies began to develop ice cutting on a large scale to satisfy the needs of the Meat packing, Dairy, and Beer Industries. While there was some residential sales it was not the bulk of the ice company sales.
Early tools for ice cutting were the ax, the scraper, the ice saw, and the breaking off bar. After 1900, the horse-drawn ice marker and ice plow came into use. By 1918, the power field saw was introduced.
Only the largest ice companies would have full time ice workers that worked year around. The greatest demand for workers was in the winter Jan and Feb when the ice was thick enough to cut. Most ice workers were either local or if the ice company was near a large city the workers would often be recruited from the local skid rows and shipped out to the lakes where they would work for the winter. Ice workers are difficult to document because of the transient lifestyle that they lived and seldom would they work for a company on a regular harvesting season. Ice cutting is one of the numerous occupations that can create a road block for the Genealogist that had a fmily member that was an Ice Cutter.