History of Pawtucket, Rhode Island - 2

Rhode Island Reading Room
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History of the State of Rhode Island with Illustrations

Albert J. Wright, Printer
No. 79 Mille Street, corner of Federal, Boston.
Hong, Wade & Co., Philadelphia 1878.

The History of Pawtucket.

pp. 224 - 232.

PAWTUCKET. [continued]

The subject of bridges, far back in the early history of Pawtucket, occupied the attention of her citizens, and the propriety of erecting suitable passages over the river and smaller streams, afforded subjects for many early discussions.  The Colonies of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as early as 1713, took upon themselves the expense of building a bridge over the river, for the better accommodation of the traffic then being carried on between them, and to facilitate the means of transportation, &c.  Some years afterwards, however, it was rebuilt by order of the General Assembly.

In the 'Centennial History of the Town', we find that this first bridge was erected, and stood a little south of the place where now stands the granite bridge.  In 1741, it was again rebuilt, but in the great freshet of 1809, the greater portion of it was swept away.  It was, however, soon rebuilt, and remained until 1832, when the work was done anew.  In 1843, the wooden structure was torn down, and superseded by another, which continued to serve the purpose of the town for some fourteen years, when the question of another bridge began to agitate the minds of the citizens, and, in due course of time, after many discussions, it was decided to replace this structure with a more imposing and durable one.  Hence, in 1858, the present fine granite bridge was erected, the expense being shared by the State, and the towns of North Providence, and Pawtucket.  Messrs. Fairbrother, Brown, and Wilkinson were appointed commissioners, and the elegant structure was erected under their superintendence.  S. B. Cushing was the engineer, and Luther Kingley the builder.  Its firmness and solidity remain intact, and demonstrate the abilities of the several parties, under whose supervision and direction the work was accomplished.  In 1827, what is known as the upper bridge at Central Falls was built; but, in 1871, it was torn down, and the present iron structure was erected, Pawtucket and Smithfield sharing in the expense.  This bridge is located at the end of Mill Street, in Central Falls.  Mr. Elijah Ingraham, in 1853, erected a wooden bridge in order to connect the east and west sides at Greene's and Daniels' Mills.  This structure remained until 1868, when it was torn down, and the present iron one erected.  Again, in 1871, the people began to agitate the question of a bridge at the foot of Exchange Street, and soon after, the towns of North Providence and Pawtucket came to a vote on the subject, and it was decided that such a bridge would add materially to the business of the towns, and, on May 3, 1872, it was completed and thrown open for public use.  It was built of iron, and cost $30,000.

In 1871, Albert W. Carpenter, at a town meeting, introduced a resolution for the erection of another bridge at the foot of Division Street, in Pawtucket, but not being favorably received at the time, it was rejected.  The matter, however, was kept before the people, and the question discussed, until, March 1, 1875, at a town meeting, it was voted that a bridge should be built.  Thus the friends of the enterprise at last triumphed, and their wisdom is to-day acknowledged by all.  C. B. Farnsworth, William T. Adams, and William R. Walker were appointed commissioners, and Mr. Horace Foster obtained the contract to build it.  The original contract price was $71,000, but there were many changes made by the town subsequently, which increased the sum to $91,000.  It was decided to built it of granite, and large quantities were procured from Sterling and Westerly.  In October, 1875, it was commenced, and completed in 1877.  The bridge across the river is 160 feet long, 420 feet from abutment to abutment, and 50 feet above the water.  There are nine arches, which contain 550,000 bricks.  The first arches, next to the abutments, are 40 feet in the clear; those next to these, 44 feet; and those across the river, 52 feet in the clear.  The piers are of granite, bedded on the rock in the river-bed.  The extensions of the walls on the east side are 190 feet in length, and those on the west side, 90 feet.  It has a roadway 26 feet wide, and the sidewalks upon either side are seven feet in width, making the breadth of the structure 40 feet.  It is lighted by ten gas-jets.  The roadway is paved with granite blocks, and the seams are filled with tar, while the whole surface of the paving is covered with it.  Some one hundred and fifty barrels of tar were used for this purpose.  The railings along the sidewalks are of iron, as also are those placed along the curbing, which separates the walks from the roadway.  Messrs. Crowell & Sisson of Providence made the iron-work, and it certainly displays a commendable degree of workmanship.  This is one of the handsomest and most substantial structures of its kind in all New England, and reflects great credit upon its builder, Mr. Horace Foster.  The business interests of Pawtucket must receive a new impetus, and nothing but unmistakable benefits can accrue to all her citizens.

Blocks, Public Buildings, Halls.
Up to the middle of the present century, but a few extensive buildings, or blocks, were seen in Pawtucket.  The large majority of the business places were confined to wooden structures of ancient architecture, and not until a comparatively later date did there appear the more spacious edifices that now adorn the thoroughfares of Pawtucket.  In 1813, what is known as the Lefavour Block was erected.  It was injured by fire in 1876, and has since been remodelled.  In 1820, the Ellis Block, situated corner of Main Street and Broadway, was built, and, doubtless, many more would have been constructed from time to time had it not been for the depression of the times, and consequent revulsion in business  that occurred in 1829.  This stagnation in all branches of business put a check upon enterprises of this kind, and nothing was done for many years after in the way of erecting extensive blocks. Coming down to 1848, we find the Manchester Block in process of construction, and the year following, or in 1849, the A. M. Read Block was built.  John B. Read, not to be outdone by any of his co-townsmen, completed the block bearing his name in 1850.  In 1854, the Almy Building appeared, and added to the business interests of the town.  In 1865, Captain N. G. B. Dexter commenced to erect his fine block, but it was scarcely finished when he died, in 1866.

The Miller Building, one of the finest buildings in the town, was erected about the year 1873, by the heirs of the Miller estate.  It is situated at the corner of Main and Mill streets.  In this block is located an illuminated clock, procured through the personal efforts of Captain H. F. Jenks by a subscription from his fellow-townsmen.  A complete history of this clock is given elsewhere, and hence we forbear any further mention of it in this connection.  Mr. G. L. Spencer erected another block upon this same street in 1874, which is known as the Spencer Building.  In 1875, the Littlefield Brothers completed a beautiful block, which is located on the west side of Mill Street.  About the same time, the Dexter Brothers reared a splendid edifice at the corner of East Avenue, the former site of a cotton-mill.  In this building is located the First National Bank, Slater National Bank, and the post-office.  These fine buildings add to the beauty of the town, and furnish large and convenient places for the transaction of business.  The Lee Block, situated on Main Street, was built in 1869 at an expense of about $25,000, and is occupied by offices and stores.  This site was formerly owned by Daniel Carpenter, his date of purchase being 1794.  On this site the first regular grocery-store was established by George Jencks, and here was kept the first Sunday school in the United States of which there is any record.  The Bagley Block, erected the present season, was designed and built by S. B. Fuller, and contains the clock that was in the old building that was destroyed by fire.

The Town Record Building was built in 1871, at a cost of $35,000, and is pleasantly located on High Street.  The assessors' and recorders' offices are located in this building, and the town council and court are held here.  The building is of brick and stone, and regarded as fire-proof.  Its central location makes it convenient for the transaction of business.  It is an ornament to the place, and supplies a convenience long felt to be a necessity.  The Town Asylum, and Town Farm, are located on what was known as Seekonk Plains, and contains some sixteen acres of land, with all necessary buildings, &c.  Horace Barnes has been superintendent since 1876, having held the position for thirteen yeas on the North Providence Town Farm.  The farm, at present, is devoted to the cultivation of small fruits and vegetables.  Average number of inmates for 1877 was fifteen.  The place is inclosed with a substantial picket-fence, neatly whitewashed, which gives to it an appearance of tidiness.  The Opera House, on High Street, Battery Hall, on Exchange Street, and Armory Hall, on the corner of Exchange and High streets, are all used as places of amusement.  They are all fine and commodious places, fitted up with taste, and all modern improvements, and have ample capacity for the accommodation of the public.

Business Interests of Pawtucket.
Under this head will be found a brief sketch of the leading business interests of the thriving town of Pawtucket.  For the past six years, the town has had the hardest of times, and many have looked upon all business enterprises with a certain degree of distrust.  But to-day the dark clouds of adversity seem lifting, and the renewed activity that pervades nearly all the various branches of trade, marks the dawning of a new era, and the reviving of commercial prosperity.  This life and freshness give a new impulse to all branches of business industry, and the manufactures.  Merchant and mechanic alike feel its influence, and smiles are taking the place of frowns, as the people discern the dawning of a renewed prosperity.  The growth and prosperity of Pawtucket are largely due to its manufacturing interests, and it claims the honor of being the first to introduce many of the extensive industries that have made New England prominent in the history of the New Republic.  The inventive genius of many of her settlers revolutionized the industries of the East, and their descendants have been no less active in improving and perfecting the various kinds of machinery that have not only increased the facilities for manufacture, but have enhanced values.  Foremost among the developing influences is the

Machine Business.
As has been remarked, the descendants of these early settlers and inventors have been continually improving and perfecting the results of their genius, and prominent among them is the firm of Fales, Jenks & Sons.  David G. Fales was one of the founders of the present firm in 1830.  He formed a copartnership with Alvin Jenks, and they commenced the manufacture of cotton-machinery at Central Falls, under the firm-name and style of Fales & Jenks.  In 1833, they added the manufacture of rotary-pumps, and having improved the original design, and perfected the various parts of the instrument, they have secured the monopoly of this class of pumps.  They have added from time to time various other classes of machinery, -- such as ring and spinning-frames, ring-twisters, &c.  They are largely engaged at present in the manufacture of Houston's Turbine Water-Wheels, Major's Combined Flier-Frame and Speeder; also, the Revolving Piston Water-Meter, and Rabbeth's Patent Self-Oiling Spindle.  In 1854, the addition of a son of each of the original partners changed the firm-name to Fales, Jenks & Sons.  After the death of Alvin Jenks, his son, Stephen A. Jenks, was admitted to the concern, the name of the firm being unchanged.  In 1859-60, they erected very large shops, which they subsequently sold to the A. & W. Sprague Manufacturing Co.  In 1865, they purchased forty-five acres of woodland, and commenced the erection of their extensive shops.  Their works cover some eight acres of land, and are supplied with the best improved machinery, tools, &c.  Their facilities for manufacturing their peculiar style of work is surpassed by no like institution in New England.

Captain James S. Brown is also quite extensively engaged in the manufacture of various kinds of machinery.  His fine and substantial buildings are located a short distance south of the railroad track nearly to Main Street.  Mr. Brown was the junior member of the firm of Pitcher & Brown, who continued business up to 1842.  The firm was dissolved at this time, and Captain Brown assumed entire control.  In 1847, his present extensive works were about completed, and he commenced to occupy them.  Captain Brown in the inventor of many important and useful machines, and Pawtucket feels a just pride in the inventive genius of her citizen.

Collyer & Co.'s machine-shops are located on Jenks Avenue.  The senior partner first commenced business as a partner with W. H. Haskell.  They remained in business for some years, when Mr. Haskell withdrew from the firm, and was succeeded by Mr. Robert Alexander.  The last-named gentleman retired after a few years, and the business has since been conducted by Mr. Collyer and his uncle, under the firm-name of Collyer & Co.   N. S. Collyer died during the past season, and the business is now conducted by S. S. Collyer, who does a general jobbing business, and makes machinery from drawings or models.  Employs some thirty operatives.

In 1858, Mr. L. P. Bosworth originated the company known as the Bosworth Machine Company.  Their works are located in the old Lefavour Mill, and the company is engaged in the manufacture of jewellers' tools, presses, &c.  They give special attention to repairs, and have a capacity sufficient for the employment of twenty or thirty men.

Collins & Son, at 405 Mill Street, are also carrying on the machine business.  They manufacture cotton and woollen twisters, and spinning-frames.  W. W. & J. W. Collins began the business in 1866, on the opposite side of the street.  In 1869, the new building was erected, and J. W. Collins retired from the business, and the present firm succeeded, under the firm name of Collins & Son.  The old building was blown down in the September gale, in 1869, but was rebuilt and occupied as a tannery, by Bacon Brothers.  The new building of the Messrs. Collins, is 200 x 38 feet, three stories high, and filled with all the necessary machinery for the manufacture of their goods.  They have a capacity for the employment of about eighty hands.

H. F. Jenks & Co. are located in what is known as the Lefavour Mill.  The Messrs. Jenks & Co. have established themselves in the manufacture of builders' hardware.  The business was started in 1865, and since that time has gradually increased, until now it forms one of the leading business institutions of the town.  The specialty in the first place, was the manufacture of the Jenks window-springs, but various other house-trimmings have been invented by Mr. Jenks, which are all manufactured by the company; conspicuous among them being the Jenks blind-fastening.  Another invention, the improved spinning-rings and supporters, by Mr. Jenks and O. F. Garvey, are now largely manufactured by the company.  Their mill is run by water-power, and has facilities for twenty or twenty-five workmen.

Mr. Jenks, or Captain H. F. Jenks, as he is more familiarly known, undertook the entire charge of obtaining and putting in the illuminated clock, which now graces the new and elegant block known as the Miller Building.  After ascertaining the probable expense, he set about obtaining subscriptions from his fellow-townsmen.  This accomplished, he visited New York, Boston, and several other large cities, in order to find out the best mode of arranging such a clock and its dial.  Failing, however, to find any mode suited to his ideal, he took upon himself the task of forming a model, and the success of his efforts is fully exemplified in the magnificent illuminated clock that now adorns his native town, and which is unsurpassed by any in this part of the land.  Connected with the clock, is an ingenious contrivance for shutting off the light at any hour desired.  The dial is of French plate-glass, seven-sixteenths of an inch thick, and four feet in diameter.  Mr. Jenks succeeded in modelling it so perfectly in all its details, that no improvement has as yet ever been suggested, in order to make it more perfect or complete.  Great credit is due Mr. Jenks, for his unremitting efforts to accomplish this project, and his fellow-townsmen should regard with pride this beautiful ornament, and cherish in grateful remembrance the memory of its generous donors.

The only fountain where a horse can drink without the inconvenience of unchecking, is located at the junction of Broadway and Walcott Street.  The design differs from any in the State, being both ornamental and substantial.  It has conveniences not only for pedestrians, horses, and all large animals, but there is a very ingenious contrivance at the bottom, for smaller animals to slake their thirst.  The fountain is the result of wise legislation upon the part of the town council, and was designed, and its erection superintended, by Captain H. F. Jenks.  The water-works, now in process of construction, will undoubtedly establish several of these benefits to the public in other places in the town.

E. Jencks & Co.  In the upper stories of the old Slater Mill, may be found the works of the above firm.  Mr. N. P. Hicks, a member of the firm, began in 1853, the manufacture of improved ring-travellers.  He was an overseer in a spinning-room, and conceived of the idea of improving these instruments.  His efforts proved successful, and he began their manufacture, first at Valley Falls, then at Providence, and finally removed to Pawtucket.  He has had several different parties associated with him, but the present firm succeeded to the business in 1871.  Since the formation of the new firm, their facilities have been enlarged and improved, and their goods find ready sale in this and European countries.

Payne & Mathewson, located on Jenks Avenue, are engaged in the manufacture of spoolers, and all varieties of spindles.  The spoolers are adapted to cotton, woollen, and silk fabrics.  This is the only establishment that makes these articles a specialty, and their trade is extended to all parts of the country.  In this building is also located the Pawtucket Tack Company.

R. R. Carpenter is located in the old Slater yarn-room, and is engaged in the manufacture of reels.  These instruments are made of wood and iron, and are used for reeling both cotton and wool, and find ready sale in all the various markets of the East.  This is the oldest established reel manufactory in the country.

C. A. Luther, also located in the lower story of the above building, manufactures patterns and cloth-stretchers.  Mr. Luther served his apprenticeship with Mr. D. L. Peck, whom he succeeded, and who was the first to manufacture this article in the United States.  Many improvements have been made by the present proprietor, and his stretchers are said to be the most perfect in the market.

Esten & Burnham.  This establishment is situated in the Fales, Jenks, & Sons' machine building.  Messrs. Esten & Hopkins established the business at Providence in 1849.  In 1857, Mr. C. C. Burnham purchased the interest of Mr. Hopkins, and became one of the firm, under the title of Esten & Burnham.  In 1860, the change was made from Providence to Central Falls, where they remained until February, 1866, when they removed to their present place of business.  This is the only factory in the town that makes the manufacture of spindles a specialty.  Annually produce about one hundred and fifty thousand.

Hugh McCrum, located in the Slater Cotton Company's mill, is engaged in the manufacture of top-roll covers.  A Mr. Turtelott [sic] began this business in 1837.  Mr. McCrum began in 1842, and has continued in the business until the present.  J. H. Platt began the business in Central Falls in 1867, subsequently removing to his present location, No. 11 Woodbine Street, Pawtucket.  Mr. Platt is a native of Lancashire, Eng.

Forge and Nut Business.  Just before reaching Captain Brown's machine-shop, we come to W. H. Haskell & Co.'s bolt and nut factory.  In 1834 or 1835, Messrs. Jeremiah O. and Joseph Arnold started the first press for making iron bolts.  It was located on the Moshassuck River, near where now stands the extensive bleachery of Messrs. Syles.  They continued in business a few years, when the firm was dissolved, and a Mr. William Field became associated with Mr. J. O. Arnold.  These gentlemen added to their business that of the manufacture of bolts.  Stephen Jenks engaged in the same business, and occupied the old forge-shop upon the site where now stands the mill known as the American Hair-Cloth Padding Company.

In course of time Mr. Field started the manufacture of tools, and about the year 1840, he removed to Providence, and organized the tool company of that city, which has grown into a national reputation.  Mr. Franklin Rand also engaged in the business of making iron nuts.  In 1843, he occupied the old grist-mill house, in which he had set up a press for punching iron.  Mr. Joseph Arnold became a partner in 1844, and the firm continued until 1847.  Mr. Rand continued the business alone until 1863.  He built the largest press for punching iron that was in use at that time.  The business formerly conducted by Mr. Stephen Jenks, was, after his death, carried on by his son Joseph and a Mr. Joseph T. Sisson.  Messrs. Pinkham, Haskell & Co., succeeded to the business in 1855, and continued until 1857, when Mr. Haskell purchased the business, and carried it on until 1860.  During this time he added the manufacture of coach screws.  In 1860, he commenced the erection of the present building, and it was completed and occupied Jan. 1, 1861.  The present company was formed at this time, under the firm-name of Haskell & Co.

Foundry Business.  At an early date Oziel Wilkinson and his son David established a furnace in what is known as the Old Coal-Yard.  The elder Wilkinson died in 1815, but his son continued a resident of Pawtucket until 1829.  In 1831, Mr. Zebulon White began the business of casting iron, and used one of the abandoned furnaces of the Wilkinsons.  In 1835, a company was formed, consisting of Mr. White, Clark Sayles, and ex-Governor Earl, under the firm-name and style of the Pawtucket Cupola Furnace Company.  This company continued in the business until 1847, when Mr. White retired, and purchased the lot, and erected a furnace, now owned and operated by his sons.  The growth of this branch of business has kept pace with the increased demand, and many tons of iron are now melted daily and cast into various forms.

Rhode Island Stove-Works.  These extensive stove-works are located on Broad Street, near the railroad track, and were originally put in operation in 1853, by Messrs. William H. Hathaway, Thomas Robinson, Edwin Jenks, and Benjamin Smith Donald, under the firm-style of the Pawtucket Furnace Company.  Mr. Hathaway subsequently succeeded to the business, the other parties having retired.  Messrs. H. & S. Fifield purchased the business of Mr. Hathaway, and continued it until 1867, when Mr. H. Fifield withdrew, and Mr. S. Fifeld formed a copartnership with other parties, and the business was conducted under the firm-name of S. Fifield & Co.  In 1869, a company was formed which assumed the title of Rhode Island Stove-Works.  They continued until within a short time, when they yielded to the depression of the times, and failed.  A reorganization is now being consummated, however, and the business will be resumed.

Pawtucket Hardware Tool Company.  This establishment is located on Mill Street, and is engaged in the manufacture of various kinds of tools usually sold in hardware stores.  Mr. Samuel Cope is the general manager, and, in connection with this business, he personally manufactures hand-cut files, and his goods are well known in the market, and bear an excellent reputation.

Mr. William Jeffers commenced the manufacture of fire-engines in 1848, in the business located on Greene's Mill Place.  He continued the building of hand-engines until about 1861, when he began the manufacture of steam fire-engines.  In 1875, he discontinued business for a time, but resumed again in 1877.  Mr. Jeffers was the first successful fire-engine builder in the State, if not in the United States.  His engines have been used in nearly every State in the Union, and have won a well-merited reputation.

Cole Brothers, located near the corner of Main and Bailey streets, commenced the manufacture of steam fire-engines in 1864.  In connection with this business, they make and repair stationary fire-pumps, and build boilers and other similar articles.

Leather Business.
This branch of business, at the present time, forms an important feature in the manufacturing interests in the town of Pawtucket.  Timothy Greene was undoubtedly among the first to engage in the tanning business.  He was engaged in the manufacture of shoes, and in connection with this business ran a tan-yard.  Samuel Bowen also was engaged in the tanning business on the corner of Main Street, where it turns, opposite Dexter Street.  It stood on the Oziel Wilkinson plat.  This was about 1828, and the stream that runs under Main Street supplied the water used in this early tannery.  Daniel Mitchell was also a tanner here in 1827, and was located at the junction of East Avenue and Pleasant Street.

Mr. John Blackburn was the first to introduce belting made of leather, which he applied to certain machinery in the old Slater Mill.  Lewis Fairbrother commenced the tanning business in 1834.  In 1861, Mr. H. L. Fairbrother was admitted as a partner in the business.  In 1865, Mr. Lewis Fairbrother sold his interest to Mr. H. E. Bacon, and the firm-name was changed to H. L. Fairbrother & Co.  Mr. Bacon retired in 1870, and the whole establishment came into the hands of H. L. Fairbrother, the firm-name remaining H. L. Fairbrother & Co.  This firm has grown from one vat, in a building 15 x 30, to an extensive and well-equipped tannery, occupying as much floor-room as any firm in the State engaged in this branch of business.  This is the oldest lace and picker leather establishment in the State or United States, with the exception of a firm in Attleborough, Mass., where Mr. Lewis Fairbrother learned his trade, in 1824.  The business has continued to increase, until it reaches at present nearly half a million annually.  In 1847, Mr. James Davis began the manufacture of lace-leather, and both he and Fairbrother commenced the manufacture of belting in 1850.  At this time, the firm of James Davis & Co. enlarged their works and added a steam-engine of 20-horse power.  They introduced at this time the first fulling-mill ever used in the State for softening hides.  In 1862, the firm was dissolved, and Mr. Davis continued the business alone.  He experienced great difficulty in securing leather to work properly into belts; he therefore determined to tan his own belt-leather.  In 1864, he had tanned calfskins by a process of his own, and adapted the same process with success in tanning belt-leather.  In order to protect his invention, he applied for a patent, which was granted in 1867.  Another necessity became apparent in producing a perfect belt, in the form of a stretcher.  Mr. Davis succeeded in producing an instrument so perfect in construction that no improvement has ever been suggested since its manufacture.  In 1871, W. H. Bosworth, a son-in-law of Mr. Davis, was admitted to the firm, under the style of James Davis & Son.  In 1875, this firm manufactured double the amount ever manufactured in any one season before the introduction of the new process.  The works have been enlarged, from time to time, and the process of tanning is known as the Davis Chemical Tannage.  The area of their floor-room is equal to four and one-half acres.  At the Centennial test it was found that leather tanned by this new process was capable of withstanding double the amount of strain of that tanned in any other manner.

In 1853, Mr. D. A. Martin succeeded a firm that had previously been engaged in the tanning of harness-leather, &c.  Mr. Martin learned his trade in the same establishment now occupied by him, in 1843.  He is engaged in the tanning of harness, upper, and sole leather, together with that of sheepskins, and is doing a safe and profitable business.  In 1873, Messrs. England & Almy began the manufacture of belting and lace-leather.  In 1874, Mr. England retired from the firm, and in 1876, Mr. Heber LeFavour became interested in the business, under the firm-name of F. R. Almy & Co.  They have two large and well-equipped buildings, located on Front Street, and in times of business activity, have facilities for the employment of one hundred and twenty-five or hundred and fifty men.  Their brand of goods is known as the Union-tanned Belt-Leather, being a combination of barks and a chemical process in tanning.  This process is claimed to produce a more desirable and stronger article, and is also used with corresponding advantages in the tanning  of lace and picker string-leather.  This establishment has a capacity of producing five hundred whole belt hides, three thousand four hundred sides of lace-leather, and eight hundred sides of picker and string leather per week.  At the present prices, this would average a business of $800,000 per annum; but owing to the depression of the times, the business does not exceed $300,000.  They produce at present as much lace-leather as all the other establishments combined.

Spool-Cotton Manufacture, &c.
Prominent in this class of manufactures are the extensive works of the Conant Thread Company.  This company started in 1869, in the manufacture of the celebrated J. & P. Coats six-cord thread.  In the above year their first mill was erected, to which they have added two others.  They occupy some twenty-five acres of land, upon which have been erected, in addition to their spacious mills, a bleachery, box-factory, storehouses, and other structures for the use and convenience of their business.  They have in operation one hundred thousand spindles, and employ about eighteen hundred hands.  Their motive power is obtained from several large engines, and their protection against fire is unrivalled by any like institution.  The men employed are organized into a fire corps, and a powerful force-pump is located in each mill, that can discharge, when necessity requires, a thousand gallons of water per minute in each mill.  Water is supplied from the Blackstone River, by means of pipes laid from the works to the river, a distance of nearly a mile, upon the bank of which is an engine used to force the water through the pipes.  In connection with this is a pond, near by, from which the water can be pumped in case of fire.  They also have seven watchmen on duty, during all hours of the night, and a magnetic telegraph connected the several buildings with the counting room or office.  This is one of the largest thread manufactories in the country, their capital exceeding $2,000,000, and their products are sent into all the various markets of the United States.

The Hope Thread Company.  This company was incorporated in 1869, with a capital of $100,000.  Their special manufacture is that of three-cord spool-thread.  They also make hosiery, cop, and other yarns.  Their building is located on Division Street, and contains five thousand or more spindles.  They use twenty-five bales of cotton per week, and employ from ninety to a hundred hands.  Their weekly production is some eight thousand five hundred pounds, and the value of their annual product is $150,000.  Messrs. Greene & Daniels are also quite extensively engaged in the manufacture of spool-thread.  In connection with their spool-cotton, they also manufacture yarns for various purposes.

Mr. Parley Brown, located in the Pitcher mill, is also engaged in the manufacture of spool-cotton, dressed and glazed thread.  The machinery in his rooms consists of thread-dressers, and spooling and winding machines.  He makes thread of all colors and numbers.  Mr. Brown has capacity for the employment of sixty to seventy hands, and his sales amount to about $20,000 per year.  He began business in Pawtucket in 1870, occupying the Greene mill, but moved to his present commodious rooms in 1877.  Mr. Brown is also agent of the braid-works, located in the same building.  They manufacture shoe and corset lacings, together with fancy cords.  They run three hundred and twenty-eight braiding-machines, and employ twenty operatives.

Cotton-Yarn Manufactures.
Besides the above firms, there are several others that are extensively engaged in the manufacture of cotton-yarn.  Prominent among these are the Littlefield Brothers.  They have conducted the business for twenty-five years past.  The original firm was David Ryder & Co.; but, in 1857, Mr. Ryder retired, and the business was conducted by the above firm.  They are largely interested in various mills in other towns, but all the goods are sold by them in Pawtucket.  Their mill in this latter place contains some twenty-four hundred spindles, and the class of goods manufactured is skein sewing-cotton.  Their office is located in their new block, on Mill Street.

The Dexter Brothers are also extensively engaged in the cotton-yarn manufacture.  Their father, Captain N. G. B. Dexter, began the manufacture of cotton yarns in 1820, and acquired a wide reputation for the excellent quality of his goods.  His sons subsequently became associated with him in the business, and the firm took the present name of Dexter Brothers.  The elder Dexter died in 1866, and the business passed into the control of the two brothers.  They occupy the mill erected by Messrs. Greene, Wilkinson, & Co., in 1813, as is evidenced by the date-stone over the door.  Through some adverse fortune, their business is at present in the hands of a trustee, but it is hoped that, with the return of business activity, they will recover from their misfortunes and resume the control of their business affairs.

R. B. Gage Manufacturing Company.  The senior member of this firm has been engaged in the manufacture of this class of goods for nearly thirty-five years.  He commenced to make hosiery yarns in 1845, at Attleborough, removed from thence to Central Falls, and subsequently to Pawtucket.  In 1868, he erected the large and commodious mills on Fountain Street, now occupied by the above firm.  They have in operation six thousand five hundred and seventy-two spindles and ten knitting-looms.  They make a specialty of hosiery yarns and stockinets.  Under the present management the business has largely increased, and the quality of their goods has acquired a well-merited reputation.

Lebanon Mill Company.  This factory occupies a site on the main land, near that upon which once stood the early mill erected by one Deacon Kent.  The original mill was used at first as a grist and saw mill, and was located on a small island.  In 1812, or during the second war with England, it was converted into a cotton-mill.  Deacon Kent's sons succeeded him in business, and continued the manufacture of yarns, which were sent through the country to be used in the manufacture of carpets.  Other parties occupied the old mill, from time to time, until at a later period, when it took fire and was destroyed.  The new mill was erected on the main land, in 1859-60, and was occupied successively by R. B. Gage & Co., Alanson Thayer & Son, and upon the death of Mr. Thayer, his son succeeded to the business, and gave to it the title it now bears.

The mill contains sixty-three hundred or more spindles, and is engaged in the manufacture of all kinds of yarns, twines, and threads.  He occupied the old Slater mill, and operates fourteen hundred and seventy-two spindles and employs some twenty-five hands.  The original lock used upon the door of the old mill is still preserved, and may be seen in the office.  It is a clumsy affair, much unlike our modern door-fastenings, and yet is a curiosity and commands admiration from its antiquity.

Ingrahamville Mill.  This mill is located on the Pawtucket River, about one mile below the village of Pawtucket.  It is run in the manufacture of cotton or hosiery yarn, and contains over two thousand spindles, and employs about twenty hands.  Water and steam-power are both used, as necessity requires.  The building is of brick, 104 x 42 feet, and three stories high, with basement.  Four dwellings, with a capacity for eleven families, are connected with the establishment.  The mill was built in 1827, by David Wilkinson and others, who ran it as a cotton manufactory until 1829, when they went down in the general wreck of business.  Dwight Ingraham purchased  the property, which subsequently passed into the possession of his father, Elijah Ingraham, from whom it derived its present name.

In 1848, Samuel Lord occupied one story, as a calico-engraver.  In 1852, a company was formed, under the name of Ingraham & Leckie, who purchased the mill and ran it until 1857, when Mr. Hugh Leckie purchased the machinery, and subsequently the real estate.  Previous to 1852, however, the mill was changed from cotton cloth to a yarn-mill.  Mr. Leckie is the present owner of the property, but it is operated by his son, Mr. John W. Leckie.

Mr. Charles C. Holland, located in the old stone mill, is engaged in the manufacture of yarn.  He operates twenty-six hundred spindles, employs some twenty-five hands, and the products of his manufacture amount to about four thousand pounds of yarn per week.  In the basement of this same building is located the works of the 'Universal Package-Carrier Company'.  This simple yet useful instrument was invented in June, 1875, and the manufacture of it commenced in 1876.  This ingenious instrument is used for a package-carrier, taking the place of the more cumbersome and costly shawl-strap.  It was invented by Mr. Isaac Lindsley, but its manufacture is conducted by Messrs. Lindsley & Card.  It can be purchased for the exceedingly small price of one to five cents.  They have met with unexpected success thus far, and increasing orders have crowded the factory to its utmost capacity.

C. D. Owen, on Mineral Spring Avenue, near the Moshassuck River, occupies a mill for the manufacture of worsted goods and yarns.  He also makes Italian cloth and zephyr yarn.  Has facilities for the employment of about three hundred hands, and when in full operation scours three thousand pounds of wool daily.

D. Goff & Son, are largely interested in the manufacture of worsted braids.  They have a fine, spacious mill, erected in 1872, having a capacity of two hundred and seventy-five horse-power.  Their braiding machines number some six hundred and fifty, and are mostly of foreign manufacture.  They employ one hundred and seventy-five operatives, mostly females.  Some definite idea may be obtained of the magnitude of the business carried on here, when we mention the fact of its consuming over one thousand pounds of wool per day, and manufacturing one hundred thousand yards of braid daily.  Their goods bear an excellent reputation and find ready sale in the various markets of the country.

George Cooper, corner of Cottage and Saunders streets, is engaged in the manufacture of hosiery yarn and thread.  His new mill was erected this present season, and all his work is now done here.  It is supplied with steam-power, and all necessary machinery for carrying on his business.  He manufactures gents and ladies' underwear, turning out one hundred and twenty-five dozen undershirts per week.  This is the first establishment of its kind in Pawtucket, if not in the State.

Mr. John Kenyon, located in the Greene Brothers' mill, is also engaged in the manufacture of shoe-lacings, braids, tapes, and webs.  He has facilities for the employment of some twenty hands, and the class of goods manufactured merits a fair reputation.  Greene Brothers are also engaged in a like manufacture.

Mr. James Berney, located in the old Lefavour mill, is also engaged in the manufacture of boot and shoe lacings of all descriptions.  In this department he has facilities for the employment of some forty hands.  In connection with this business he runs that of the manufacture of various kinds of brass goods; such as book ornaments, clasps, and various species of brass trimmings.  In this department he employs about twenty-five operatives.

Samuel Crane, located at No. 4 Read Street, is engaged in the manufacture of knit goods; cardigan jackets, ladies' jackets, hoods, garters, &c.  Employs about fifteen operatives; has six knitting-machines, and his annual sales amount to about thirty thousand dollars.

Cotton Goods.
The Slater Cotton Co.  Some of the members of this company are direct descendants of John Slater, brother to Samuel Slater.  It is a stock company, chartered, in 1869, under the name of the Slater Cotton Co., with four hundred thousand dollars capital.  President, William Slater;  Treasurer and general Business Manager, S. W. Mowry.  Their main mill-edifice was erected, in 1863, for a file factory; but was purchased by the above company in 1868, and materially enlarged.  The mill contains twenty thousand spindles, and four hundred and fifty-five looms.  Number of operatives employed is some three hundred and fifty, and the kind of goods manufactured is fine shirtings.

Messrs. Thurber, Horton & Wood, in the old stone mill, are engaged in the manufacture of light sheetings.  They are also interested in a factory at Central Falls.  They occupy only about one-fourth of the mill at Pawtucket, and operate two thousand four hundred spindles, and fifty-odd looms.  Employ about thirty hands.

Bridge Mill Manufacturing Co.  This company is located in a mill familiarly known as the yellow mill.  The company was incorporated, in 1867, with a capital of one hundred thousand dollars.  They operate five thousand spindles, and one hundred looms.  In times of business activity they employ some sixty to seventy operatives.  They manufacture cotton cloth for linings, shirtings, &c.  Another mill, formerly occupied by the Pawtucket Manufacturing Co., was located on the site of the old Buffington mill, burned in 1844.  It has of late been disused, and the machinery removed, and is now being converted into stores.

Union Wadding Co.  The early history of this manufactory is marked by trials and disasters scarcely equaled in any of the manufacturing interests in the town.  It was the prey of several disastrous fires, and its early founder, Mr. Darius Goff, met with many reverses in the establishment of this now important branch of industry.  These sad trials and disappointments, however, only served to awaken a new energy, and the fruits of his untiring perseverance have ripened into the present extensive wadding-works, whose capacity is unrivalled by any like institution in America.  In 1860, a new firm was formed, consisting of the following-named persons; viz., Darius Goff, John D. Cranston, Stephen Brownell, and Henry A. Stearns.  The latter-named gentleman had had practical experience in the business, and was assigned to its charge.  At this time they occupied a small stone mill, and turned out only twelve hundred pounds daily.

The increase in business has necessitated the enlargement of their building, and improvements have been made in the process of manufacturing.  In 1860, the company was incorporated, but retained the title of the Union Wadding Co.  They turn out between two and three hundred bales of wadding or batting, daily, and, if the waste machinery were added, the daily product would be materially increased.  A three hundred horse-power engine is in operation, and numerous labor-saving machines have been added to facilitate the manufacture.  The buildings are substantially constructed, and well guarded against the dangers of fire or other accident.

Dunnell Print-Works.  The business of coloring and printing cambrics and calicoes, was but limited until the formation of the above company.  Several parties were early engaged in the business, especially that of coloring, but not until the advent of the present extensive works did the business of printing reach any degree of perfection.  In 1833, Mr. Sibley began the printing business, by the use of a machine, printing but two colors.  This establishment was known as the Franklin Print-Works, until 1835.  About this time, Mr. Jacob Dunnell, Thomas Dunnell, and Nathaniel W. Brown formed a co-partnership under the firm-name of the Dunnell Manufacturing Co.  During their years of occupancy extensive improvements have been made to their buildings, and also in the machinery and process of printing.  The commenced with but two machines, of two and four colors; but, at present, they have in operation numerous machines capable of printing ten colors on a single pattern.   Their weekly production, at present, is about fourteen hundred pieces of calico, and to accomplish this some three hundred operatives are employed.  This is, undoubtedly, one of the largest institutions in the State, if not in the United States.

American Hair-Cloth Padding Company.  Messrs. Payne & Taylor, the former hair-cloth company, erected a building, in 1854, upon the site of the old anchor-shop of the Wilkinsons on East Avenue.  Here they engaged in the business of engraving for calico-printers.  In 1855, a company styled the Boston Hair-Cloth Company, began operations in this building, in the manufacture of hair-cloth.  They continued about three years, when they abandoned it.  In 1858, the Messrs. Payne & Taylor commenced the manufacture of tailor's hair-cloth padding and skirting, using the machinery that was left by the Boston company.  In 1860, they discontinued their business as engravers, sold their old looms, and secured the right to use the Pawtucket Hair-Cloth Company's patent for feeding the hair, with which they are furnished at present.  In 1867, Mr. Payne died, and his son succeeded him in the business.  At this time the style of the firm was changed, and took the title it now bears.  They manufacture tailor's hair-cloth padding, and ladies' hair-cloth skirting.  They employ about thirty operatives, and turn out six hundred yards per day.

James Q. Smith's Granite Works, located on Pleasant View, opposite Riverside and Swan Point Cemetery.  This extensive establishment was founded by Mr. Smith, in 1869.  He deals in all kinds of granite, and it is the first establishment of its character located in the town.  He has facilities for the employment of twelve men, and keeps one team employed.  A splendid specimen of the work done at these granite works, is found in the elegant monument of J. R. Fales in the Riverside Cemetery.  It was erected the present season, at a cost of $9,000, and is a fine specimen of artistic skill.

French & Leach, successors of French Brothers, are engaged in the manufacture of all kinds and styles of marble and granite work.  Fine specimens of their work are found in the various cemeteries and at their place of business.  John F. Kenyon, located on Pleasant Street, opposite the Riverside Cemetery, is engaged in the manufacture of brooms.

Cigar Manufacture.  This branch of manufacture commanded some attention in the early part of the present century.  Edmund Bailey was engaged in this business as early as 1825.  The present Bailey Street was named after his son, Mr. John Bailey.  Josiah C. Haswell was also a cigar-maker in Pawtucket, in 1827, occupying the site of the Miller Building.  In 1848, he removed to Slatersville.  In 1841, Joseph Morton began the business at Central Falls.  He removed from that place to Pawtucket, and located on Garden Street about 1844.  He began in the loft of his barn, and afterwards built a shop on the opposite side of the street.  Squire Z. Phinney began next in the Read Building on Main Street.  F. F. Follet & Son began, in 1868, at No. 9 Green Street; erected a building, 24 x 20 feet, one and a half stories high, and have a capacity for the employment of eight to twelve hands.  John M. Thurber located in the rear of 23 Cottage Street, in 1872.  Has facilities for five or more operatives, according to the demands of trade.

F. S. Eggleston, foot of Church Hill, is engaged in the manufacture of bottling of soda, sarsaparilla, and ginger ales, and all kinds of summer drinks; established in 1864; and the excellent quality of his goods commands for them a ready sale.  Mr. Eggleston is also agent for ale, porter and lager beer.

Wilbur & Tingley, located down Jencks Avenue, upon the site of the original mill that was swept away in 1807, are engaged in grinding corn, feed, &c.  The have facilities for grinding from a thousand to twelve hundred bushels per day, and their products find ready market in this vicinity.  Their office is located at No. 80 Main Street.

L. B. Darling & Co.  This establishment is located at Mineral Springs, and an extensive business is carried on in the manufacture of commercial fertilizers.  In 1850, the senior partner of this firm began the business of butchering with W. W. Darling, under the firm-title of L. B. & W. W. Darling.  In 1853, W. W. Darling retired, and L. B. Darling continued in the business.  In 1865, he began to grind bones for fertilizers, and to feed cattle for like purposes.  In 1874, L. M. Darling became associated in the business, and the firm took the title of L. B. Darling & Co.  They have facilities for the manufacture of the refuse of twenty to thirty thousand cattle, and seventy-five to one hundred hogs, annually.  They also render from eight to ten hundred pounds of tallow, and manufacture from one to two thousand tons of fertilizers per year.  This is one of the oldest establishments of the kind in the State, and is the only one engaged in business in the town of Pawtucket.  They employ about forty men, and steam is used as a motive power.

J. O. Draper & Co.  This extensive establishment is located at Pleasant View, corner of Front and Clay streets, and manufactured bleaching, fulling, and scouring soaps, for woollen, cotton, and straw manufacturers.  It is running on full time, and turns out more goods than ever.  This factory was established in 1861, and the goods have become very popular, and meet with extensive sales.  It is supplied with all of the most improved facilities, and is capable of producing upwards of 7,500,000 pounds of soap annually.  The English fig-soap, tuffing-soap, and Nottingham curd-soap for print-works, manufactured by this firm, are unsurpassed, and are in especial demand.

The slaughtering of cattle and hogs, and the preparation of the meat for market, form an important branch of industry, and a large amount of capital is invested in carrying on this business.  Midway between Pawtucket and Providence, near the railroad, may be seen several extensive abattoirs.  The Messrs. Comstock & Son and Comstock & Co. have the most extensive establishments.  They have spacious accommodations for the reception of their cattle and hogs, and all of the convenience for the slaughtering and packing of the same.  Messrs. Comstock & Son deal in cattle, while Comstock & Co. deal in hogs.  Each have their agents in the West, making purchases and shipping stock east.  They have facilities for killing from five hundred to a thousand cattle per week, and from a thousand to two thousand hogs.

Large quantities are used in supplying the markets of Providence, Pawtucket, and neighboring towns, while large shipments are made to foreign countries.  They employ some fifty hands, and have ample accommodations for the horses used in their business; and numerous tenements afford comfortable homes for their operatives.  I. B. Mason & Co. are also engaged in the slaughtering and packing of hogs, and have facilities for the killing of two hundred and fifty to three hundred hogs per week.  H. V. Clarke is also engaged in the killing of sheep, lambs, and calves.  His supplies come from the West, and he had facilities for slaughtering from five hundred to a thousand head per week.  He employs some eight or ten men, and his stock supplies the local markets of the surrounding country.

This branch of industry formed an important item in the commercial interests of the early settlers.  For years the Indians had been accustomed to resort to the falls, and in their rude way, obtained large quantities of shad, herring, lamprey-eels, and numerous other species of fish.  The first regular fishermen were from India Point.  In 1817, the fishing interest became developed to quite an extent.  About that time, seines began to be introduced.  A Mr. James Benchley and Mr. Marchant were seine-fishermen at this time, and succeeded in capturing large quantities of these finny inhabitants of the river.  Oysters were taken in great quantities, more than the home market could consume; and the business has so increased, and become so widely extended, that at present there are about forty boats employed in this particular industry. Nor is this, even, sufficient to supply the constantly increasing demand, for it is said that Virginia alone sends nearly half as many of the bivalves as are caught here.  The Providence-River oysters bear the reputation of being the finest in the markets.  Clams, too, are a product of commercial importance, and Rhode Island clam-bakes have a world-wide reputation.  From 1815 to 1822, bass-fishing formed an important branch of business, and was carried on in the winter by cutting through the ice and using nets.  Large numbers of persons were often seen engaged in this business, with varying degrees of success.

B. P. Clapp & Co., located just above Division-street Bridge, are engaged in the special manufacture of aqua ammonia from ammoniacal water, obtained from the gas-works.  Mr. Clapp began business in 1859; in 1872, Messrs. Walter E. Colwell and Martin H. Lewis were admitted as partners, under the firm-title of B. P. Clapp & Co.  The article thus manufactured is used in calico-printing, in the manufacture of wall-paper, dyeing, and in the manufacture of jewelry.  The employ seven men, besides themselves, and do a business of $30,000 per year.

Messrs. Salisbury & Phillips.  This firm is located on River Street, and is engaged in the manufacture of studs, collar-buttons, and other articles.  They have facilities for the employment of twenty men, in times of business activity.

Mr. D. F. Read commenced in 1867, and his establishment is located in the J. B. Read Building.  He gives special attention to the manufacture of solid gold rings, and bears an excellent reputation for the purity of his goods.  He has of late added the manufacture of some plated goods, such as studs, buttons, &c.

Mr. George H. Fuller, located in the building of Messrs. Payne & Taylor, is engaged in the special business of making jewellers' findings.  In 1861, he started the business, and usually employs some fifteen to twenty operatives.

L. A. Kotzow & Co., located on East Avenue.  This establishment was organized in 1868, by Dodge & Kotzow.  In 1870, Mr. Dodge retired from the firm, and was succeeded by J. W. Pooler.  In 1872, Mr. Pooler was succeeded by Victor Vuilliaume, and in 1874 the latter gentleman withdrew, and since that time, Kotzow has carried on the business, retaining the same firm-title of Kotzow  & Co.    Their specialty is the manufacture of solid gold chains, and the excellence of their goods has acquired a wide-spread reputation.  They employ usually from forty to sixty operatives.  They have an office and salesroom 15 Maiden Lane, New York City.

W. A. Beatty & Co.  This establishment is located in the Greene Brothers' mill.  They began business in 1865, in the manufacture of jewelers' materials, but abandoned it in 1872.  They are at present engaged in making jewelry, and give employment to about sixty men.

C. D. Tuttle is also located here in this mill, and makes a specialty of the manufacture of jet jewelry.  Mr. Tuttle learned his trade in Paris, and moving to this country established the only concern in which all the details of the business are carried on.  He employs from fifty to sixty operatives.  Much of the finer and more delicate labor is performed by girls.  Messrs. Hathaway & Carter are also located in this building, and are engaged in the manufacture of chain-swivels, &c.

Crocker & Son.  This establishment is located in the Slater Mill, and is engaged in the manufacture of gold and silver plated coffin-trimmings.  Mr. Crocker started the business in 1861, with C. B. Manchester, at Central Falls.  In 1871, his son was admitted as a partner, under the firm name of Crocker & Son.  They employ about fifty operatives, and their goods are sold all over the country, being handled by jobbers.

These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project.
Transcription 2004 by Beth Hurd, Images by Beth Hurd 2004
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