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History of Fall River, Massachusetts online

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which several important buildings have been constructed,
notably the city hall, Granite Block, St. Mary's cathedral and
the Slade school. The lower story of the B. M. C. Durfee
high school building is also of this material, which has like-
wise been used in the building of wharves and in the con-
struction of many of the mills. Fall River granite has also
been used in some buildings at Newport, R. I. The quarries
are in the eastern section, and give employment to a consider-
able number of men.


Through history passed down from one generation to
another, we learn that very early in the nineteenth century a
primitive dam had been constructed across the Quequechan
river in the vicinity of the present Watuppa dam, for the


purpose of providing a constant supply of water for a small
business (the nature of which is unknown) carried on at that
point. On the building- of the Troy Cotton & Woolen Manu-
factory in 1813 this dam gave way to the dam of that company,
by which the water in the river was raised to a point three
feet above its original level. As business along the Queque-
chan increased, it became evident that if the mills were to run
throughout the year, the waters of the Watuppa ponds must
be stored in times of flood for use in time of drought. Accord-
ingly, in 1826,.an act of the Legislature (Mass. Special Laws of
1826, Chapter 31) was obtained, incorporating the Watuppa
Reservoir Company. The names of the incorporators being as
follows: David Anthony, Nathaniel B. Borden, Oliver Chace,
and Bradford Durf ee. The object of the incorporation, as given
in the Act, was, "for the purpose of constructing a reservoir

of water in the Watuppa ponds for the benefit of

the manufacturing establishments on Fall River; and, for this
purpose, shall have all the privileges and immunities, and be
subject to all the duties and requirements contained in an act
passed on the third day of March in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and nine "entitled an act defining the
general powers and duties of manufacturing corporations,"
and the several acts in addition thereto."

Section 2 of this act provided that the company should
have power "by erecting a dam across the outlet of said ponds

to raise the water in said ponds, two feet higher

than the dam already erected by the Troy Cotton and Woolen

Section 4 provided "that the capital stock of said corpora-
tion shall be divided into one hundred shares."

Section 5 provided that said corporation should be "liable
for damages to any person by flooding."

Preparing to act under authority given, the company
proceeded to settle with the owners of land adjacent to the
Quequechan river and to each of the two Watuppa ponds for
the damage they were to sustain by the flowage of their land.
Most of these settlements were easily obtained. In som'e
cases, however, the price demanded and received was quite
large. In quite a number of instances, public spirited indi-


viduals refused to make any claim, believing it a work of
great public benefit which should be assisted rather than dis-

That the business of this time was conducted by men
possessing great foresight is attested by the fact that the
company refused to take advantage of any person's liberality
and insisted on paying for the privilege, even if but a nominal
sum. Such sums were received with a "Thank you", and the
agent in every case took a receipt for the money paid. This
receipt found safe lodgement in the company's strong box
and was found of great value later.

The Watuppa dam now standing in the rear of the Troy
building was constructed under authority of this act, and is
capable of holding the waters of the Watuppa ponds at an
elevation five feet above the original height of the ponds,
thereby increasing the capacity of the ponds 5,133,234,600
gallons. It is easy to understand the difficulties encountered
in the running of machinery on a stream where from six to
eight months of the year flood conditions prevailed, while
during the remainder of the year there were times when very
little water could be depended upon. Owing to the long work-
day then the rule (often extending from daylight to dark)
the quantity of water used was much in excess of what would
be required at the present time.

The Watuppa Reservoir Company is still in existence, its
stock being held by several of the mills located on the river.

Until within a few years this company held absolute con-
trol of the water in the Quequechan but by the terms of a recent
agreement, such control (under certain restrictions) is vested
in the Fall River Iron Works Company or its management.

The original outlet of the river was into the creek south
of Central street mentioned elsewhere.

About 1835 a canal was constructed to conduct the water
into what is known as Crab pond. This pond was formed by
the construction of a dam across the outlet of a body of salt
water originally known as "Long pond" in which the tide
ebbed and flowed but which was at low tide a pond. The

NoteвАФ None of the mills now depend exclusively on water for power.


depth of water was thereby increased about fourteen feet,
adding greatly to its capacity. This for many years furnished
power for the American Print Works and the Fall River Iron
Works and is still used by the printing company in connection
with its business. For many years ice was cut here for
domestic use. An ice house stood on the west side of the pond
on what was known as "High Hill," and near by stood a stone
"powder house" owned by the Iron Works Company.


During the earlier period of the development of manu-
facturing, the plants were small and could not be very large
as the available water power was limited, and the water
wheels were crude, clumsy and inefficient.

The water wheels first installed were probably of the type
known as the breast wheel, which was not so efficient as the
more modern type of turbine water wheels. The first tur-
bines were made with revolving shaft vertical and a pair
of bevel gear wheels to transmit the rotation of the vertical
shaft to a horizontal shaft. Later horizontal water wheels of
higher speed having the revolving shaft horizontal and the
power transmitted therefrom by belts, were installed in most
of the plants on the Quequechan river.

The height of fall and power of the several plants were
as follows:

Height of fall Power

Troy Cotton & Woolen Mfg. 10 to 15 ft. 150.6 H.P.

Pocasset Mfg. Co. 21.67 " 225.4

Quequechan 21.00 " 218.4

Watuppa 15.38 " 160.

Fall River Print Works 10.00 " 104.

Fall River Mfy. 14.46 " 150.4

Annawan Mfy. 14.73 " 153.2

Metacomet Mfg. Co. 16.18 " 148.2

The last mentioned discharging into tide water, varied in
height of fall and power and the Troy varied as to fall and
power according to the height of water in the pond.


When the demand for larger capacity in the manufac-
tories became more pressing the power was supplemented by
the steam engine. As the supply of water decreased from
drought and overusing the flow of the stream, larger engines
were installed, capable of driving the whole of the machinery.
Until this time the mills on the Quequechan river having all
the available water power were the only factories built, except
some at Globe Village. When the steam engine was required
by these mills, it placed them in a position to invite competi-
tion and other factories w^ere erected in various parts of the

The Massasoit Steam Mills, situated on Davol street near
the shore of the bay, was probably the first factory in Fall
River driven wholly by steam power. This mill was erected
about 1845 and destroyed by fire in 1875.

The next factory driven entirely by steam power was the
Wamsutta Steam Woolen Mills situated near Pleasant street on
the shore of the upper Quequechan river from which it derived
the water used for making steam and for condensing the steam
after passing through the engine. This mill was erected in
1849 and still stands.

The Union Mill on Pleasant street was one of the earlier
steam driven factories and was erected about the year 1860
just before the Civil War.

This factory was the first in town to be heated in winter
with exhaust steam from the engine.

This engine was one of the Corliss type afterwards famous
throughout the manufacturing world. It was in fact, two
single cylinder engines having a common shaft with cranks on
each end. The steam entered the cylinder pushing forward the
piston part of the stroke then the supply was cut off and the
steam in the cylinder expanded to about atmospheric pressure,
when it was allowed to escape into another chamber and
condensed, forming a vacuum on the return stroke of the
piston thus increasing the power about 25 per cent over the
non-condensing type. One of the two cylinders was so made
that the exhaust from each end was separated. In cold
weather the steam from both ends was exhausted and used
for heating the buildings and for dressing the warps for the


In warm weather when no heat was required in the build-
ing only steam from one end of the cylinder was exhausted
for dressing the warps, the steam from the other end being
exhausted into the condenser.

When this engine was installed it was understood the
contract stipulated that the price for the steam plant should
be a certain sum or the saving for a period of time, over the
former manner of running engines in factories.

This was an unusual proposition and after running the
plant as designed, for only a short time, the management saw
that it was for its advantage to pay the stipulated amount
at once rather than pay over the saving for the length of time
proposed, as the economy was so great and satisfactory.

This form or type of engine was used in most of the
subsequent factories erected until the building of the Globe
Yarn Mills No. 2 in 1886-7 when the first compound condensing
engine was installed. The compound engine consisted of two
cylinders, the smaller one called the high and the other the low
pressure cylinders. The steam first entered the high pressure
cylinder and after following the piston part of the stroke
the supply was cut off and the steam in the cylinder allowed
to expand to about eight to ten pounds pressure when it was
exhausted into the larger cylinder and expanded in same to a
vacuum by condensing the steam on the return stroke, thus
increasing the power derived from the same amount of steam
that was formerly used in the simple condensing type of
engine heretofore used.

Since that time most of the factories erected have in-
stalled compound engines and nearly all of the older mills
have replaced the simple condensing engines with the com-
pound condensing type.

The economy of the compound condensing engine over
the simple condensing type is about 33 per cent, or, in other
words, it requires in the modern compound condensing engine
less than two thirds the amount or weight of steam, that is
required in the simple condensing engine, which in our mill
plants of large powers amounts to a considerable saving.

Of late years the electric drive has come into use in many
cases, especially when the power is to be transmitted some
distance from the engine.


The electricity is usually produced on the mill plant by
direct connection of the generator with the steam engine, and
the current of electricity sent over suitable wires or cables to
the motors in the various buildings or rooms of the factory.

Systems have been introduced of compound non-con-
densing engines which furnish part of the power required,
and which is transmitted direct to the shafting in the factory
by belts, and the steam, in place of being condensed from the
engine, is passed on through suitable pipes into a low pressure
steam turbine and afterwards condensed, forming a very high
vacuum, thus producing additional power without increase of
the amount of steam used.

This combination of compound engine and low pressure
turbine makes an increased economy of sixteen to twenty per
cent, over the usual compound condensing engine.

This arrangement brings the power question up to date
and highest economy. The power used in our modern factories
varies according to the size of the plant, in some cases being
as high as 2500 to 3000 horse power while in the mills of the
earlier periods of our history the power used was probably
not much more than 125 to 200 horse power according to the
fall of the water. Speed of engines has increased from less
than 50 to 120 revolutions per minute or a piston speed of 960
feet per minute, and a belt speed of over a mile per minute.


With four national banks, a trust company, four savings
banks and four co-operative banks, Fall River furnishes ample
financial facilities to all. The history of the institutions shows
not a single failure in their long career.

Fall River was one of the earliest communities in the
United States to establish a savings bank, it was also one of
the first to start a five cents savings bank, and the more than
$22,000,000 in deposits now standing to the credit of the 55,000
depositors in the four savings institutions show the value of
these banks to the community and the extent to which they
are appreciated. The same may be said, and with equal


justice, of the more than 40,000 shares in local co-operative
banks now outstanding, representing a sum in excess of
$2,000,000 due to shareholders.

The four national banks of the city showed by recent
reports in 1911 a combined capital of $2,200,000, deposits of
$6,354,000 and surplus and undivided profits of $1,589,000
while the B. M. C. Durfee Safe Deposit & Trust Co. reported
deposits of $2,363,000 and surplus and undivided profits of

The oldest of the city's banks is the Fall River National,
incorporated in 1825 as the Fall River Bank, and for over 20
years the only bank of discount here. It became a national
institution in 1864. Its first building was of brick on the site
occupied by the present banking house, and was erected in
1826. It was burned in 1843 but rebuilt. The building now
occupied was erected in 1892.

The oldest of the saving banks is the Fall River Savings
Bank, which was chartered in 1828, only 12 years after the
establishment of the first savings bank in the country. It was
first known as the Fall River Institution for Savings, but
changed the name to the present title in April, 1855. It was
located in the oflnce or store of the man who was its treasurer
at the time, until about 1844, when it occupied a part of the
rooms now used by the Fall River Five Cents Savings Bank,
removing to its present building in 1869.

The National Union Bank was chartered in 1823 as the
Bristol Union Bank of Bristol, R. I., but removed to Tiverton
in 1830, changed its name to the Fall River Union Bank and
erected a brick building on the corner of South Main and
Rodman streets in 1837. The change in the boundary line
in 1862 brought it within Massachusetts territory, and it
removed to the southwest corner of city hall. It became the
National Union Bank in 1865 and again removed to Number 3
Main street, where it occupied quarters with the Union
Savings Bank till it was merged with the Massasoit-Pocasset
in 1903.

The Massasoit Bank, organized in 1846, became a national
institution in 1864. Its office was at the corner of North Main
and Franklin streets till 1876, when it removed to the north-


east corner of Main and Bedford. In 1884, it again transferred
its office to the northwest corner of Bedford street and
Court Square, and in 1889 it erected the building at the corner
of Bedford and Second streets; this was removed in 1910 to
make way for the new structure of its successor, the Massasoit-
Pocasset National Bank.

The Metacomet Bank dates from 1853 and carried on its
business at the corner of Anawan and Water streets, on the
second floor, in what is now the office of the American Print-
ing Company, until 1876, when it removed to an office on the
corner of South Main and Pleasant streets, in the Borden
Block. It erected its present building in 1888, and remodelled
it in 1910. It became a national bank in 1865, and in 1903
f)urchased the Second National, formerly the Wamsutta. The
latter was chartered in 1856 and became a national institution
in 1864, changing its name to the Second National. It occu-
pied an office with the Fall River Five Cents Savings.

The Pocasset Bank was incorporated in Rhode Island in
1854, and carried on business at South Main and Rodman
streets, till after the change in the boundary line, when it
removed to the northwest corner of city hall. In 1872 it
erected the building now occupied by the Citizens Savings
Bank. It had become a national institution in 1865, and was
merged in the new Massasoit-Pocasset when that was formed
in 1903 by the combination of the Pocasset, the Massasoit
National and the National Union.

The First National Bank, the first to be formed here
under the federal banking law, was organized Jan. 23, 1864,
and was located at the southwest corner of Main and Central
streets, in Granite Block, till it occupied its present building
in 1888.

The B. M. C. Durfee Safe Deposit & Trust Co. was
chartered in 1887, when it took over the private banking busi-
ness of B. M. C. Durfee & Co., a partnership composed of
Mr. Durfee and John S. Brayton.

The Citizens Savings Bank was formerly The Savings
Bank of Tiverton and was organized in 1851 and occupied
rooms with the Fall River Union Bank. After the change in
the state line it was authorized to do business in Massachusetts


and assumed its present title. It occupied rooms with the
Pocasset Bank in the northwest corner of city hall until 1873,
when it removed to its present quarters.

The Fall River Five Cents Savings was incorporated in
1855 and the Union Savings in 1869. The latter's office was
in the southwest corner of city hall until 1872, when it removed
to the location on Main street where it erected its present
building in 1897.

Of the co-operative banks, the Troy is the oldest. It
dates from 1880 and until 1883 was known as the Troy
Co-operative Savings Fund and Loan Association. The
People's Co-operative was organized in 1882, as the People's
Savings Fund & Loan Association, but took its present name
shortly after; the Fall River Co-operative Bank in 1888 and
the Lafayette Co-operative Bank in 1894,


The small beginning from which the city's present
extensive school system has grown, are perhaps, illustrated
by nothing better than by the early appropriations for the
support of the schools. In 1804, the year after the town was
separated from Freetown, the amount raised to pay the
expenses of the town schools was but $250, and this was to
be divided among the several districts in proportion to the
number of their inhabitants. More than 20 years later, in
1825, the appropriation was only $600, which was divided
among ten districts, having 391 families.

The early buildings were few and small, and a map of
1812 shows but three schoolhouses, one near the present corner
of South Main and Hamlet streets, one near the corner of
North Main and Prospect streets, and one at Steep Brook.
Private schools were common, and in 1826 were more numer-
ous than those maintained at public expense. In the year
named, there were 14 private institutions and 12 public schools.

The earliest school report in the possession of the public
library is that for 1842-43, and this, with the reports for the


next few years, gives a fairly good picture of the schools of
those days. The town was divided into 14 districts, each with
a prudential committee of one, and there was a general school
committee of three, elected by the town. The system was very
unsatisfactory, and the general committee was outspoken in
its condemnation. One district had no school building,
and school was kept in ' 'an unfinished room in an unfinished
house," separated from, the living apartments of the family
only by a small partition. In other instances, the buildings
were altogether too small, in poor condition and often unfit
for school purposes. Discipline in many schools was poor,
owing to the youth and inexperience of the teachers and the
presence of unruly boys.

There was also "a lamentable deficiency of books", and
in one district ' 'at a late visitation of the committee, he found
but a single volume in the whole school authorized to be used
in our schools." Until about 1846, when the town appropri-
ated $850 for their purchase, maps, globes and other apparatus
were rare. In 1843 but one schoolhouse in the town had a
bell, and as the districts did not seem inclined to purchase
bells, the committee suggested an arrangement with the
Pocasset Mfg. Co. for ringing its mill bell in the hope of
reducing the cases of tardiness. After the fire of that year,
when the Anawan street building was burned, school was
held in the lecture room of the Unitarian church.

The reports criticise the conditions in each school and the
success or failure of the teachers, by name, with startling
frankness. That of 1843-44 declares that the custom of
building cheap schools and employing cheap schoolmasters is
not yet obsolete, and says that "there is not a single school
room in this town where provision is made, as it should be,
for the escape of bad air and the introduction of that which
is pure and fresh. ' '

Schools were frequently closed from lack of funds, and
the report just quoted says, relative to this, that "when one-
half of the grammar schools in a town like Fall River are
suspended a part of the year for the want of funds, so that
one man can send his children to school the entire year and
his nearest neighbor, who pays the same tax, can send his


children only two-thirds of the year, there must be something
radically wrong in the arrangement of the districts."

In some of the schools only winter terms were kept, and
in many, men taught in winter, when the big boys attended,
and women in summer. In the earlier reports, the standard
pay for the women teachers was $16.25 a month, or $195 a
year. A few years later some received $200 a year, paid
quarterly, and some $220. The teachers were selected and
contracted for by the prudential committee of each district,
and then presented to the general committee for examination.

In 1841-42 the town raised by taxation but $2.35 for each
child between 4 and 16 years of age, and the committee
constantly urged, in its early reports, the need of more funds.
The total school appropriation in 1842-3, when the census
showed 1943 children between 4 and 16, was but $5,455.66, of
which $255.66 came from the state. In 1847-48 $7,000 was
appropriated by the town, and $455.87 received from the

School was kept on Saturday mornings, and for 46 weeks
instead of 40 as at present. The regulations of 1844 provided
that school should be held from 9 A. M. until 12 throughout
the year, and in the afternoon from 2 to 5 in the summer and
from 1:30 to 4:30 in the winter. Three vacations were
allowed each year, two weeks from the last Wednesday
in April, three weeks from the third Wednesday in July
and one week from the third Wednesday in November.
Fast Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July and
every Saturday afternoon were holidays, "and none other
shall be allowed except by special vote of the committee."
By 1850 the entire day on Saturday was allowed as a holiday,
as well as the day after Thanksgiving, but there were still
46 weeks of school each year.

After 1845 the schools began to show material improve-
ment, in consequence of the influence of the state normal
school, and in their progress kept pace with the other schools
of the commonwealth.

About this time, also, a beginning was made in the con-
struction of larger and better buildings. The present
Anawan schoolhouse was built after its predecessor of that


name, (a remodelled Congregational church,) had been burned
in the fire of 1843. It was regarded as a model, with "the
most perfect school room in Bristol County", to quote from a
statement of the committee in 1848. The High street build-
ing followed in 1846, the June street in 1849, the Columbia
street and the High School in 1852 and the Maple street in
1855. The Morgan street dates from 1868, and since that
time buildings have rapidly followed each other, as noted
elsewhere, as the city has grown. Three will be completed

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Online LibraryHenry Milne FennerHistory of Fall River, Massachusetts → online text (page 7 of 10)