Source: The Early Life of Lexington [KY] before the Year 1820, Mary Estelle Delcamp, A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Transylvania College in Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts June, 1916

The inconvenience and the length of time required to bring manufactured goods from the East were partly responsible for arousing public opinion on the subject of home industry. In 1789 an association was formed by the inhabitants of the district against the use of imported wines, rums, brandy, gauze, silk, lace, and broadcloth (Aug. 29, 1789). The next year the Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures met at Danville. The first dues of the organization were sent to Philadelphia to procure spinning and carding machines and stocking looms (Feb. 13, 1790). Nearly a decade later a resolution was introduced into the state legislature to the effect that after June 20 each member of the assembly should wear home-made apparel as an example to others (Jan. 24, 1809). In 1810 a meeting of mechanics and manufacturers of Lexington was held at the Kentucky Hotel 'to consult on the propriety of uniting in a memorial to Congress, praying for the protection of domestic manufactures' (Sept. 25, 1810).

For a small place Lexington had many industries. Some of these were carried on by one man and his family; others reached the dignity of the factory, - but all may be classed as manufactories. Occasionally, machinery was invented by citizens, In 1802 Edward West invented a machine which in twelve hours cut one thousand pounds of iron into nails of any size (Mar. 26, 1802). He received for his patent $10,000 (May 28, 1802). In the same year George Mansel presented to the public notice a machine for breaking, milling, or cleaning hemp or flex, for threshing grain, and sawing wood and stone. It was guaranteed to break and clean one thousand lbs. of hemp per day (July 30, 1802). In 1805 Mr. Delisle from Paris, France was making electrical machines of all sizes, for the sum of $150.00 each (Nov. 18, 1805). Eight years later a machine, recently invented, for preparing and spinning wool was placed on exhibition. This was calculated to take rolls from the carding engine and convert them into spun yarn, without the aid of any other machine then used. Farmers were to find it especially suited for home use. It had the further excellent qualification that any child could run it (Mar. 25, 1813).

Patent rights were respected. In 1798, upon the erection of a machine for moulding brick, the owner thought best to put a notice in the paper that he would pay legal premiums to any other person who had a patent on his machine (Feb. 28, 1798). Sometimes the patents for the use of single looms were sold at the rate of $15.00 to $25.00 (Oct. 17, 1814).

It would be impossible from the sources employed, except in a few instances, to give accurate figures for the number of industries, but it is possible to form some idea of the kind of articles manufactured. The Gazette for Sept. 18, 1810 gives an idea of the existing conditions thus: "At present hemp and cotton bid fair to be the staples of Kentucky. Eleven years ago there was only one solitary rope-walk, and its operation was languid. The proprietor lost 7,000 pounds by this experiment. There was no other walk in the state, except at Frankfort. Hemp was only four and five dollars per cwt., and the whole quantity consumed by these two could not exceed 150 tons per annum. This day there are eight rope-walks in the town, besides others that are building, three bagging factories, two sail-duck factories, four cotton spinning factories, and two wool factories." In February of the next year all the manufactories (the term, manufactory, seems to have been used very inclusively, as the following list indicates) of Fayette were stated thus: "Tanneries 9; distilleries 139; looms 1,039; wool, hemp, flax, and cotton cloth 207,687 yards; hemp raised 595 tons; maple sugar 94,775 lbs.; gunpowder mills 5; oil mills 1; paper mills 1; rope-walks 13; bagging factories 5; cotton and wool spinning mills 6; wool-carding machines, going by horses, 5; cut nail factories 2; hat factories 4 (Feb. 19, 1811).

As the above figures show, cotton and wool manufacturing were important. In 1796 the cotton had to be seeded, before being brought to the mill (Apr. 23, 1796). In 1819 Messrs. Brand, Postlethwaite and Co. had about a thousand spindles at work and spun two thousand dozens of cotton weekly (Sept. 17, 1819).

At times flour was manufactured in the same place in which cotton was spun. This was true in the case of the Steam Mill (Oct. 9, 1806) and the Alluvion Mill. The latter was operated by Daniel Bradford and Bowles. In 1819 the mill contained 'one steam engine with all the appurtenances complete, with power to drive two pairs of five-foot millstones, one pair of superior French burr-, and one pair of first quality Red River-millstones five feet in diameter, and bolting cloths, screen, fan, et cetera, complete for a merchant mill. It also had two throssels, with the carding, and roving apparatus for spinning cotton. These mills were usually located on Water Street (June 17, 1816).

The hat industry was also thriving. In one instance the owner was forced to put his name in his hats, because another man selling hats at different court houses represented them as his (i.e. the owner's) (Mar. 15, 1797). In 1809 a spectacle factory mounted glasses with silver, tortoise-shell, or steel (July 18, 1809).

The next year Levett and Smith began to make oil floor-cloths for rooms, passages, stairs and carriages. According to their advertisement, "these carpets are the most durable and elegant kind, uniting every advantage: they are cool in summer and most useful in winter, because they can be cleaned in long spells of rainy weather by washing them as you would the floor."The prices were" plain ground only, per square yard $1.25; plain ground with a border of one color, $1.50; plain ground with figure in one color, $1.75; for every additional color, 25 cents. All carpets were delivered, and cash, or a note on the Kentucky Insurance Bank, or Kentucky Insurance Bank, was demanded on delivery (May 29, 1810).

Among other industries were: soap and candle making, often located near tanyards (Nov. 30, 1802; Mar. 5, 1811; Sept, 7, 1813); tobacco factory , on Main Street, opposite the court house (Sept. 28, 1793); paper mill, in 1819, known as the Fayette Paper Manufacturing Co. (Jan. 22, 1819); piano manufactory, where grand and square pianos, chamber and barrel organs were made (Sept. 24, 1805); The Western Piano Manufacturing Co., which was established in 1817 on Jordan's Row, next door to the reporter printing office (Jan. 16, 1817).

Furniture making was limited to the cabinet and chair maker. In 1810 chairs, in black and gold, white and gold, green and gold, coquelico and gold; bamboo settees; and windsor chairs were constructed in a shop on Main by workmen from New York and London (Jan. 9, 1810).

Other necessary articles which were homemade were: boots and shoes (Aug. 31 & Oct. 5, 1793; Feb. 21 & May 30, 1795), tins and nails (Apr. 19, 1794), pumps (Aug. 12, 1797), coaches (Mar. 31, 1801), umbrellas (Jan. 23, 1806), linen- and worsted tapes (Mar. 15, 1806), and saddles (Feb. 12, 1802). The people had to depend solely on tailors for their clothing. Lawson M'Calloh, a tailor in business in 1796, offered to make clothing for the following prices: a fashionable suit, 30 shillings; a coat, 16 shillings, 6 pence; vest and breeches, 13 shillings, 6 pence; foot-pantaloons, 6 shillings, 9 pence; capes, 13 shillings, 6 pence; great coat, 13 shillings, 6 pence; vest, 10 shillings, 6 pence; plain suit, 27 shillings (Jan. 9, 1796). Practically all the women's clothing was made by dressmakers. Dresses, gowns, meries, Paris aprons, riding habits, spencers, great coats, and cloaks - made in the most fashionable style by women directly from the East - keep the Lexington woman from becoming out of date (July 2, 1805; Nov. 16, 1810).

The guild system of apprentices and journeymen was in vogue at this time. The customary recommendations of good character and average intelligence were demanded (June 14, 1815; May 26, 1791). In 1811 Sanders Cotton Factory needed twelve apprentices, from twelve to eighteen years of age. The owner agreed to provide boarding, lodging and decent clothing, and to teach them reading, writing and arithmetic, and upon their dismissal at the age of twenty one he promised to give them a good suit of clothes (Jan. 8, 1811).

At the Lexington Manufactory in 1814 negro boys from seven to twelve years of age were wanted, and twenty white weavers and twenty colored (Sept. 12, 1814). Two years later the same concern was asking for twenty men and boys from fourteen to twenty one years of age, and also for women, girls, and children over nine years ((Feb. 12, 1816). It is rather amusing to notice how highly some apprentices were valued by their masters. One man offered one penny reward for the return of a runaway apprentice (Mar. 3, 1794); another more liberally inclined increased the reward to twenty five cents and a pair of shoe-strings for three deserting apprentices (Mar. 24, 1817).

As early as 1797 the journeyman hatters formed a society to aid members of their 'profession' who could not find immediate employment. At the meeting for organisation the following resolutions were adopted: "First, Each journeyman shall pay a stipulated sum to the secretary each month; second, no journeyman shall work for any person who uses another man's name in disposing of his hats, or, contrary to all principles of fair dealing, charges a workman six days a week in settling with him for his board (June 3, 1797).

In 1811 the journeyman shoemakers formed a union. At their meeting for organisation this resolution was adopted: "Considering the prices given by the bosses of Lexington, compared to the profits, to be under the standard by which justice should be regulated, be it resolved: first, that there should be a certain set wage; second, that no member of this union should work with anyone who takes less; third, the organisation shall relieve fellows suffering from these conditions; fourth, bosses who refuse to give the wages asked shall have their names published in the Kentucky Gazette; fifth, meetings shall be held on the first Monday of each month." The scale of wages decided upon by this organisation ran thus: " full-trimmed back-strapped boots, $5.00; plain back-strapped boots, $4.25; bound Cossack boots, $3.25; unbound Cossack, $3.00; foxing boots, $2.00; men's fine shoes, $1.12 1/2; men's fine pumps, $1.00; women's pumps, $1.00; leather pumps, $.62 1/2; kid and morocco pumps, $.50; men's coarse shoes, $.75; buttoning old boots, $1.25." There were twenty one signers to this resolution, and to the scale of wages agreed upon (Feb. 26, 1811).

Transcribed March 2001 by pb

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