Henry Milne Fenner.

History of Fall River, Massachusetts online

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nance passed on April 25, 1895, This Commission consisted of
the mayor and city engineer ex-officio and three citizens
appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the aldermen. In
order to protect the purity of the water supply, the commis-
sion has acquired nearly 3,000 acres of land, on both sides of
the North Watuppa pond, at a cost of more than $200,000. In
view of the possible necessity of diverting some of the streams
that flow into the pond, an exhaustive study was made in
1899, 1900 and 1901 of the capacity of the ponds, the amount
of the discharge of the streams, the nature and extent of the
watershed, evaporation, rainfall, and flow from the North
into the South pond. This was done under the direction of
the city engineer, with Arthur T. Safford of Lowell, consult-
ing engineer, and in 1902 a voluminous and valuable report
was made. The commission as originally constituted was
abolished June 5, 1905, and its duties transferred to a new
board made up of the three members of the water board and
the mayor and city engineer ex-officio.

In connection with the study of the water supply by
engineers in the employ of the reservoir commission, an
extended examination was made of the Quequechan river and
of possible methods for improving it, so as to give the mills an
adequate supply of cool water from the stream for condensing,
even in the dryest seasons, make available for use a large
amount of land, approximately 166 acres, near the center of
the city which is now flowed in times of high water, and
remove unsanitary and unsightly flats which are exposed at
low water. The consulting engineer presented a report on
the situation late in 1910, with three plans, either of which
would greatly improve conditions. He proposed either a
single canal, a canal with cooling ponds, or a canal for cool
water only with channels to convey the hot water from the
steam plants back to the pond. The estimated cost ranged
from $685,000 to $740,000 and it was suggested that the land
which could be reclaimed might, in the case of the first and
third plans, repay the expenditure. The proposed work
extends from the Sand Bar at the head of the river to the


Watuppa Dam, near Pleasant street, and if put into effect
will, in the opinion of the engineer, be "an improvement for
all time, which will build up the city, provide facilities for
the mills and the public, and perhaps improve the character
of the city so much that it will remain a permanent monument
to the people who have this matter in charge."

Surveys have been made, plans prepared and approved by
the State Board of Health, and a report is now in the printer's
hands showing the intention of the commission to construct
along the westerly shore of the North Watuppa pond a con-
duit to collect the drainage now entering the pond from the
west, between Pleasant street and New Boston road, and
delivering it into the South Pond, where it will be available
for manufacturing purposes by corporations located on South
Watuppa pond and Quequechan river but cannot menace the
city's water supply in the North Pond.

The strike of 1904 was the longest and the most disastrous
in the history of the community. Nearly 30,000 operatives
were idle the greater part of 26 weeks, from July 25 till Jan. 21
of the following year, causing an estimated loss of $4,500,000
in wages. Work was resumed following a conference in
January with Governor Douglas at the state house between
representatives of the manufacturers and the operatives, at
which he agreed to investigate business conditions in the
industry and report a margin between cotton and cloth on
which an increase in the scale of wages should be paid. On
his subsequent report a system of wage dividends based on
the margin between the quotations for specified quantities of
cotton and cloth went into effect, and continued until July 2,
1906, when the wage scale prevailing before the strike was

Approximately 7,000 persons removed from the city dur-
ing the strike which, however, had been marked by uniform
good order. The census in the spring of 1904 had shown a
population of 113,602. That of 1905 revealed but 106,645, and
it was not until 1908 that the city regained the ground it had

Important changes in the local banks had taken place in
1903, following a state law which forbade national and


savings banks to occupy the same offices. In February of
that year the Second National, which had rooms with the
Five Cents Savings, was purchased by the Metacomet
National, and in July the Pocasset National, which occupied
an office with the Citizens Savings, and the National Union,
which had been associated with the Union Savings, merged
with the Massasoit to form a new bank know as the Massasoit-
Pocasset National, which occupied the enlarged banking
rooms of the old Massasoit National Bank.

In the same year, 1903, a beginning was made in the lay-
ing of granolithic sidewalks, under a betterment system,
which has become very popular, and has done much to
improve the appearance of the city.

The Roman Catholic diocese of Fall River was established
March 12, 1904, consisting of Bristol, Barnstable and Dukes
counties, with the towns of Marion and Mattapoisett, in
Plymouth county. Fall River was made the episcopal city
and St. Mary's church named as the pro-cathedral. Rt. Rev.
William Stang, D. D., was consecrated as the first bishop,
at the cathedral in Providence, May 1, 1904, and on his death
February 2, 1907, was succeeded by the present bishop, Rt.
Rev. Daniel F. Feehan, D. D. Fall River had been a part of
the diocese of Boston until 1872, when the diocese of Provi-
dence was erected, which included this city.

The Bradford Durf ee Textile School on Durf ee street was
opened to students on March 7, 1904, and has since proved so
popular and successful that within a few years a large addi-
tion was necessary, which was erected on Elm street and
connected with the original building. The school first opened
with 164 pupils and during the year of 1910-1911 had 50 day
students and 900 evening pupils. It is free to citizens of the
commonwealth, and is supported by appropriations by both
the state and the city.

The school is equipped with modern machinery and labora-
tories, and, in the words of the catalogue, is designed "to
meet the needs of two distinct classes of students: one class
being those who wish a preliminary training in the art of
manufacturing before entering upon the practical work in the
mill; the other being those already at work in the mill, who


feel a necessity for a training in the principles of the art and
a greater knowledge of all the departments of their chosen

In 1907 the cotton manufacturing industry of the city
experienced a period of prosperity, in which the whole
community shared. The product of the mills sold at the
highest price since 1880 and was in such demand that even at
these prices it was contracted for, months ahead. The profits
were large and the mills were enabled to place themselves in
a strong financial position. Dividends were increased and
extra payments made to shareholders. The employes shared
in the general prosperity through advanced wages and steady
employment. The year's business was of inestimable value
to the city, not only for the financial returns but also for
the increased confidence it gave in the community's chief

A sliding scale of wages was agreed upon in May, 1907,
which went into effect the last Monday in that month, and
with modifications, remained in force for three years.. It was
for six months' periods, and was terminable by either party on
three months' notice. It was discontinued in the last part of
May, 1910, following notice by the textile unions that they
desired to abrogate it and the failure of negotiations for its

The agreement was entered into in a period of great
prosperity, and under it wages were advanced to a high level.
The subsequent year, however, business became less profita-
ble, and the margin between cotton and cloth, on which the
scale was based, declined to such an extent that in May,
1908, wages were reduced under the agreement 17. 94 per cent.,
to a basis of 19.66 cents per cut for weaving. The margin
continued to decrease, and in November of 1908, May, 1909,
and November, 1909, the manufacturers were entitled under
the scale to make additional reductions, in the last instance
to the minimum of 18 cents per cut. They, however, waived
their rights each time and maintained the scale at the 19,66
cents level, on which wages are still based.

John T. Coughlin was mayor of the city from 1905 to 1910,
inclusive, and at the beginning of the municipal year of 1911


was succeeded by the present chief executive, Thomas P.
Higgins. During Mr. Coughlin's administration the Samuel
Watson school was completed and occupied in September,
1906, and the new Lincoln school was completed and dedicated
June 18, 1907. This replaced the old wooden building, erected
in 1846, which was burned on Dec. 22, 1905. The Westall
school was completed in 1908, permitting the closing of the
Foster Hooper and June street buildings, and the fire station on
Stanley street, at the Highlands was finished. In 1909, a new
engine of 10,000,000 gallons daily capacity was installed at the
pumping station. The William S. Greene school was completed
and occupied in September. Three new schools were begun
in 1910, the John J. McDonough on Wilham and Fountain
streets, the William J. Wiley on North Main and Canedy
streets, and the Hugo A. Dubuque on Oak Grove avenue, and
plans were prepared for a new technical high school on the site
of the Foster Hooper and June street buildings, for which the
contract was awarded in April, 1911. The hospital for con-
tagious diseases was completed and opened for the use of
tuberculous patients, and Purchase street extended to Court
square, thus furnishing a new highway from the center of
the city to the north. A fire station on Stafford road was
completed in 1910.

The fourth of the large tanks of the water department
was constructed in 1907 on the south side of Bedford street.
It has a capacity of 1,389,976 gallons, and is of about the
same size as the first Bedford street tank, built in 1892, and
that on Haskell street, built in 1897. The Townsend hill tank,
the first to be constructed, was built in 1886, and holds
1,161,448 gallons. The combined capacity of the four is
5,306,593 gallons, about one day's supply for the city.

Two large playgrounds were purchased by the park com-
mission in 1909, under the provisions of a legislative act which
had been accepted by the citizens by a decisive vote. The
tract on Stafford road contained nearly 16 acres and cost
$38,386.50. The land on Eastern avenue and County street,
containing about 11' j acres, was bought for $42,513.91. The
city also has playgrounds at the South, North and Ruggles
Parks and at the corner of Canal and Spring streets.


The new bridge over the Taunton river at Brightman
street, authorized by the legislature in 1903, to be constructed
by a joint board consisting of the County Commission, the
Harbor and Land Commission and the Railroad Commission,
and begun in 1906, was opened to public travel Oct. 10, 1908,
and furnished a new and attractive entrance to the city. It
is 922^ feet in length, between abutments, 60 feet wide, with
sidewalks eight feet in width, giving a roadway of 44 feet,
and has a draw span of 118 feet. Its total cost to September,
1910, was $1,014,102.17. Of this $528,824.28 was apportioned
to be paid by Fall River, $8,112.82 by Somerset, $4,056.42 by
Swansea, $38,738.71 by New Bedford, $13,183.33 by Taunton,
$1,216.92 by Westport, $2,636.65 by Dartmouth, $1,521.15 by
Dighton and the remainder by the County of Bristol. It was
further ordered that 96 per cent, of the cost of care and
maintenance should be borne by Fall River, 2h per cent, by
Somerset and li per cent, by Swansea.

Still another great work for which plans are being pre-
pared and permission has been obtained from the legislature,
is the building of a tunnel under the city by the New York,
New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company, to connect its
main tracks along the bay with its New Bedford branch.
This will, if constructed, give the railroad direct communica-
tion through the city from New Bedford and the Cape to
Providence and New York, thus avoiding the present circuitous
route to the north.

One of the recent additions to the city's public buildings
is the district court house on Rock street, erected on the site
of the Exchange Hotel, later the Gunn house, which in the
period between 1830 and 1850 was the principal hotel of the
town. It was completed early in the present year, and the
first session of the court was held there on Jan. 23, 1911.

The extent of the city's industries to-day is shown by
figures recently made public by the census bureau, from an
inquiry made here in 1909. The agents of the bureau reported
here in that year 288 manufacturing establishments, with a
capital of $82,086,000. The materials used cost $35,524,000,
and the value of the product was $64,146,000, showing a value
added by manufacture of $28,622,000. The average number
of wage-earners employed was 37,139, and the total salaries
and wages paid, $16,583,000.



The cotton mill that was started at Globe Village 100
years ago by Colonel Joseph Durfee bore but little resemblance
to any of the mammoth factories that have succeeded it, yet
it was the beginning of the great industry which has since
grown up here.

It occupied a building at what is now the northeast corner
of South Main and Globe streets, which is supposed to have
been the building still standing, and probably contained less
than 1000 spindles. The picking of the cotton and the weaving
of the cloth were still done by hand, in the homes of neighbor-
ing farmers, and the carding, spinning and finishing were
probably all that w^ere done in the pioneer mill. Its equip-
ment is supposed to have been limited to a few Arkwright
spinning frames, carders and probably a calender, and these
were operated by the scant water power obtainable from the
little pond adjoining.

Col. Durfee's mill, known as the Globe Mill, was a stock
company, and in soliciting subscriptions for the shares, the
most effective argument is said to have been that "cotton
cloth would darn much easier than hnen." The success of
the enterprise was not great at any time, due probably to
want of practical knowledge, and in the end the venture
appears to have been disastrous. The mill was operated by
various persons, and in 1829 the building was converted into
a print works.

All honor, however, is due to Col. Durfee as a pioneer in
the industry here. He was the son of Hon. Thomas Durfee,
and a grandson of one of the original holders of a large tract
in that section under the Pocasset Purchase. At the time of
starting the mill he was 61 years of age. Eight others were
associated with him in the ownership of the 100 shares in the
enterprise, and their names appear in the deed given below.

This deed is interesting not only as the first reference to
the mill, in the town records of Tiverton, but also from the
fact that it gives the names of the other original stockholders


and the amount of their holdings, and h'kewise furnishes an
excellent example of the wording and spelling in the deeds of
those days. It is as follows:

Whereas I Joseph Durfee of Tiverton in the County of
Newport Esq. am the sole owner and proprietor of a certain
lot or parcel of land lying in the Town of Tiverton aforesaid
and is a part of my homestid through which a stream of water
flowing from a certain pond called Cooks Pond doth pass
whereon it is contemplated to Erect and put in motion a
cotton factory and in order to effect the same I the said
Joseph have thought fit to divide the lot with the privileges
and appurtenances thereunto belonging into one hundred
shares and to dispose of the same in the following Manner

Now Know Ye that for and in consideration of the sum of Six
hundred and Sixty dollars to me in hand paid by the Persons
hereafter Named in manner following to (wit) by Seth
Simmons of Providence in the County of Providence carpenter
four hundred and forty Dollars by Nathan Chase fifty five
dollars by Boulston Brayton thirty three Dollars by William
Durfee twenty two dollars all of Tiverton in the county of
Newport yeoman, Benjamin Brayton of Gray twenty two
Dollars by Nathan Cole Sixty Six Dollars Elisha Fuller Eleven
Dollars Robert Hazard Eleven Dollars all of Rehobath in the
County of Bristol and Commonwealth of Massachusetts the
receipt whereof I the said Joseph do hereby acknowledge and
with other considerations me thereunto moving have Granted
Bargained and Sold unto the above Named persons Sixty
Shares of the One Hundred Shares above mentioned (to wit)
To Seth Simmons forty shears to Nathan Chase five shares to
Boulston Brayton three Shares to William Durfee two shares
to Benjamin Brayton two Shares to Nathan Cole Six Shares to
Elijah Fuller one Share and to Robert Hazard one Share of a
Certain Lot of Land above mentioned, bounded as follows
takeing its beginning at the Southwest Corner of said lot and
Running South thirty five degrees East twenty Rods and two
Links thence South twenty five degrees west Eleven Rods and
twelve Lingths thence South Sixty Seven degrees and one
quarter East twenty three Rod and two Links thence North
thirty four Degrees East nineteen Rods and thirteen links
thence North thirty five degrees west thirty one Rod eight
links thence South Seventy three and half degrees West
twenty two rods agreabale to the plat by Survey hereunto
anexed reference being thereunto had for further particulars

To Have And To Hold the Sixty Shares aforesaid with all the


privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging with a
further and more particular privilidge (to wit) that of passing
to and from the road to the head of the Stream by foot people
for the purpose of opening and Shuting the Gate with privledge
to Clear out the brook Springs and Streams as occation may
require to them the said Seth Simmons Nathan Chase Bouls-
ton Bravton William Durfee Benjamin Brayton Nathan Cole
Elisha Fuller & Robert Hazard the share above mentioned to
them their heirs and assigns forever and I the said Joseph for
my self heirs Executors and administrators do covenant to
and with the afore Named Grantees that I am the true Sole
and Lawful owner of the premises afore-discribed, and have
good Right to Sell and Convey the same in manner as afore
said and that I will warrant and Defend the Same against the

Claims of all persons

In witness whereof I have together with Elizebeth wife of me

the sd. Joseph our hands and Seals the Sixth day of June 1811-

Signed Sealed and Ded.

in the presence of Joseph Durfee (Seal)

Pardon Gray

William Humphrey Elizbeth Durfee (Seal)

Newport Ss at Tiverton in sd. County personally appeared the

above Named Joseph Durfee and acknowledged the foregoing

Instrument to be his Vaullentory act Deed hand & Seal this

7th. day of October 1811-

Before me Thos. Durfee Jus Peace

A true Coppay of the original Deed

Reed, on file at Tiverton October ye 11th day A.D. 1811

at four o'clock P. M.

Pardon Gray Town Clerk

Following the records, it appears that in 1813 Oliver
Chace purchased a controlling interest in the mill, and later
in the same year, conveyed it to several persons. Charles
Dyer and Benjamin Dyer each purchased from Mr. Chace
25 shares, at $60 a share. Nine years later, in 1822, the
Dyers conveyed their shares back to Oliver Chace. Each
received $1388 for his interest, "being," as the deed states,
"all right and title to the factory and other buildings, and
machinery, tools and stoves belonging to the Globe Cotton
Mill, standing on land aforesaid."

In 1830, for the sum of $1986, Oliver Chace sold to Cyrus
Potter 71 undivided seventy-fifth parts of the Union Factory,
lot, buildings, fixtures and machinery; also 22|^ undivided


100th parts of the Globe Factory, lots and buildings thereon
and other land. In 1832 Cyrus Potter sold to Charles Potter
for $25,000 several parcels of land and buildings, including
that "formerly known by the name of the Globe Mill and the
Union Mill, now occupied and improved for bleaching, dyeing
and printing calicoes."

The venture, as has been said, was at no time notably
successful, and CoL Durfee lost a large part of his fortune in
the enterprise. It was subsequently operated by various
persons, and in 1821, following the burning of the Troy Mill,
the agent of that corporation was authorized by his stock-
holders to negotiate for a five years' lease of the factory, with
its real estate and machinery. It does not appear, however,
that such a lease was made. About 1829 it became a part of
a print works operated first by Potter & Chatburn, who printed
their first goods in September, 1830, and later known as the
Tiverton Print Works, and finally as the Bay State Print Works.

A part of the old mill was also for a time, between 1843
and 1850, used temporarily as a schoolhouse by one of the
Tiverton districts.

It is believed that printing machines were used in the old
Globe Mill as late as 1845, when they were removed, from
which time the building has been used for storage purposes.
The attic was probably used for hanging the cloth after print-
ing to "age" it, preparatory for dyeing. The water wheel,
although perhaps not the original, was removed about 1850.

The present building which is supposed to have been the
original, measures 120 2-10 feet in length, 32 4-10 feet in width,
with a projection on the west side about 31 feet by 8 feet, and
having three stories and an attic. It is now owned by the
New England Cotton Yarn Co. and the Laurel Lake Mills.

When the mill was started, cotton had been grown in this
country for manufacture only 75 years. No factory for
spinning it had been established in the United States till 1787,
when a little mill operated by two horses driven by a boy, was
started at Beverly, with a few jennies, each of which spun
84 threads. Spinning frames were in use in England during
the Revolution, but an act of Parliament, strictly enforced,
made it impossible to obtain the machines or their plans and


also forbade the emigration of skilled mechanics. Samuel
Slater, an Englishman who had made himself master of the
machinery and methods, knowing of the large sums offered
in this country for the machines, managed to make his way
to New York, and in 1790, having entered the employ of
Moses Brown of Providence, undertook the manufacture of
machinery of the English type at Pawtucket. He was
successful, and one year later started a small mill there with
machinery built on the Arkwright principle.

The introduction of English machinery, together with the
invention in 1793 of the cotton gin, by which one man could
clean for market a thousand pounds of cotton in the time
formerly taken to clean five or six pounds, gave an immediate
impetus to the business, and many men who had learned it
under Slater, left his employ to start plants of their own. By
1809 there were in Providence and vicinity 17 mills, running
14,296 spindles, and the United States census of 1810 showed
238 mills, of which 54 were in Massachusetts, 28 in Rhode
Island and 64 in Pennsylvania.

It was not until 1838 that an English self-acting mule was
brought to this country by William C. Davol. To escape the
British laws, which still forbade the exportation of machinery,
he went to England and after purchasing and cutting to
pieces a Sharp & Roberts mule had it shipped to America by
way of France in boxes labelled "Glass." On its arrival, he
set it up in his own shop in Fall River, and subsequently
manufactured many of these machines for American Mills.


The year 1813 marked the beginning of cotton manufac-
turing here on a substantial basis. In that year two com-
panies were formed, the Troy Cotton & Woolen Manufactory,
with a capital of $50,000, which is still in existence as a
successful corporation, and the Fall River Manufactory, with
$40,000 capital, which only a few years ago was purchased by


the Pocasset Mfg. Co. About one half the capital was secured
in the neighboring towns.

David Anthony, who became the first agent and treasurer
of the Fall River Manufactory, was a native of Somerset, and
was at this time only 26 years of age, but had acquired a

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Online LibraryHenry Milne FennerHistory of Fall River, Massachusetts → online text (page 5 of 10)