Biography of Walter Aiken .
Franklin, New Hampshire

This biography is from "The History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties, New Hampshire". Edited by D. Hamilton Hurd and Published in 1885.

    The first ancestor, Edward (1), came from the north of Ireland about 1722, and settled in Londonderry, N. H., and became one of the proprietors. His son, Nathaniel (2), lived in Londonderry and was an energetic businessman.  One of his sons, Thomas (3), moved to Deering, N. H., and carried on farming there.  His son, Matthew (4), was born in Deering, N. H., March 21, 1776, and moved to Pelham, N. H., and was a saddler and harness-maker there.  He married Sally Hackett, daughter of Colonel Hackett, of Portsmouth, N. H., who built there the first frigate for the United States government that was engaged in the Revolutionary War.
    The children from this union were James Gilman (5), born May 10, 1795, who was a soldier in the War of 1812, and was last heard from by his family as an officer at the battle of  New Orleans, where it is supposed he fell, January 8, 1815. Herrick (5) was born in Peterborough, N. H., June 8, 1797.  Sally (5), born May 10, 1799, married Phineas Stevens, who was an engineer and built a number of prominent mills in New Hampshire.  Emma (5), born June 10, 1802, married David Hamblett, a millwright, of Manchester, N. H., and removed to Beckett, Mass., and there died September 25, 1878.
    Herrick (5) first set up in business as a manufacturer of machinery at Dracut, Mass., and moved to Franklin, N.H., and set up business in the old shop of Daniel Herrick, in 1838, which business he carried on in that vicinity for many years.  he was an inventor and received letters patent on many useful and cunning machines, among which were a "spiral-brush" and a leather-splitting machine.  He also received several medals for valuable inventions.  He conceived the plan of using a cog-rail for steep grades on railroads and constructed a model at his shop that worked well.  Thinking to apply his invention upon a road to to the top of Mt. Washington, he rode up on horse-back, and although convinced in his own mind that by his plan the summit could be reached, he was unable to convince the railroad men and capitalists that his plan was feasible, and the honor of the achievement, a few years later, went to others.  Mr. Aiken was a good citizen, a successful business man and a kind husband and father, and died November 7, 1866.
    At Dracut, Mass., February 5, 1830, he married Ann Matilda, daughter of Isaac Bradley, of that place. She was born August 28, 1810, and was a descendent in the fifth generation of the renowned Hannah Dustan, of Haverhill, Mass.  She died January 6, 1884.
    The children from this union were Walter (6), born October 5, 1831, in Dracut, Mass.; Jonas Bradley (6), born August 23, 1833, at the same place; James Hackett (6), born June 20, 1835, died of cholera in Calcutta.
    Francis Herrick (6), born June 10, 1843, in Franklin, N. H.  He succeeded his father in business carrying it on successfully.  He built a fine residence in Franklin and died January 16, 1876.  He was a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, a thirty-two-degree Mason.  He married Hannah A. Colby, of Hill, N. H., September, 1865.
    Charles Lowe (6) was born July 23, 1845.  he resided in Elkhard, Ind., for several years and is now an employe of the Old Colony Railroad Company, at Taunton, Mass.  He married Isabella Burleigh, of Thornton.
    Jonas Bradley (6), the second son, has been quite prominent among the business connections, although he retired from active business  some years ago.  He married, first, Helen M. Scribner, of Franklin, in 1864.  She died April 14, 1865, the same day upon which President Lincoln died.  He married, second, Addie G. Proctor, of Northfield, Vt.  The only child from the first marriage, Alice Matilda (7), died in infancy.  The children from the second marriage are Mary Louisa (7), born November 19, 1867; Charles Wilson (7), born August 21, 1869; and George Proctor (7), born December 5, 1873, who was drowned May 10, 1876.
    Walter, the subject of this sketch, passed his boyhood at the old home, and, in addition to the advantages of the common schools, he attended for two years the Gilmanton Academy and also the institutes at New Hampton and Tilton. He entered his father's machine-shop at an early age, and, having a natural talent for mechanics, he rapidly developed, and at the age of twenty-two years started in business for himself in an upper room in his father's shop, where he invented and built one of the first knitting-machines in the country.  A pioneer in the invention and manufacture of knitting-machines, Mr. Aiken has taken out over forty patents, and his latest machine makes a perfect stocking without seam in less than five minutes and works automatically.  He also invented a machine to make gimlet-pointed screws.  Mr. Aiken is also a woolen manufacturer, producing as many as four hundred dozen pairs of stockings per day.  He also built the house on the summit of Mt. Washington, owning one-half of it; assisted in building the railroad up the mountain; became the general manager at the opening of the road, in 1869, and has continued in the capacity, making the most complete success as a financial venture.  Mr. Aiken designed the locomotive in use on the Mt. Washington Railway.  He, in connection with Sylvester Marsh, has perfected and carried into complete operation the work which Herrick Aiken had so many years before conceived, viz: to build a railroad to the top of Mt. Washington.  His residence, on a bluff overlooking the village, is one of the finest in Franklin.  Mr. Aiken owns the Hamilton Hotel, at the Bermuda Islands, with all the modern improvements and capable of entertaining two hundred and fifty guests.  He built the signal station on Mt. Washington for the United States government in 1873; built the Summit House in 1872.  Mr. Aiken is a Democrat; was in the War of the Rebellion; has been a representative to the General Court for four years and is a director of each of the banks in Franklin, and a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity and also of the Odd Fellows. "The old Granite State" may well be proud of such sons.  He married, first, Susan Colby, of Warner, in 1853; he married, second, Mary Dodge, of Hampton Falls, January 1, 1867.  The children by the first marriage were James (7), born February 5, 1854, and Frederick(7), born November 4, 1855.  These children are now living.

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