N.H.) Manchester Historic Association (Manchester.

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cabin, and cider so hard it took eight yoke of oxen to haul
it, to show us that if the pace was slow result was sure.

In the early 40's a party of Indians landed from cheir
birchen canoes, in the field above the falls to visit the fish-
ing and hunting-grounds of their forefathers. The com-
mittee that welcomed them was self-appointed and included
a large part of the villagers. That field in the spring was
often the tenting ground of the Norcross logging men.

Then came the bridging of the river and the change
from canal boats and canvas covered wagons to steam cars
for traveling and commerce.


The Millerite excitement, with its earnest but deluded
adherents, and the follies, farces and sad events that
attended it.

The next year's excitement was the singing presiden-
tial campaign, when the young people of an evening return-
ing from the campaign meetings the house would resound
with their songs, and the small boy chorus on the street
would echo "James K. Polk of Tennessee."

From the factories and from the school-house on the
hill have gone forth young men and maidens into the vari-
ous walks of life to do faithfully their part and to share
the respect due to true manhood and womanhood. Some
have been called to fill places of responsibility with honor
to themselves and to the state. Among the teachers of
those days were Dr. Cromby, E. T. Ouimby and the Misses
Margaret Allison and Rebecca Richards.

The doctor not only "taught the young idea how to
shoot," but also how to walk by rule. Mernory recalls one
time when he had a drill exercise. A line was formed
across the school-room and he gave to each a personal
illustration of his favorite rule so effectively that sixty
years and more have failed to efface its memory. Writing-
compositions was a matter of choice and few the result.
One, however, comes to mind which would tax the old
Thompsonian chemist's skill to equal. But, orators!
Amoskeag had them galore. Who could render Marco
Bozzaris with more ease and grace than our gifted presi-
dent in his youthful days. And who could declaim such
classics as "Hohenlinden," "The Battle of Waterloo,"
"The Roman Soldier," "Last Day of Herculaeneum," with
such oratorical power and pathos as would have made
Cicero and Demosthenes, groan with envy.

I think it was in 1844 that some of the villagers were
permitted to look down from the bridge upon a real live
president of the United States, as he stood upon the depot
platform. Some who disapproved of his course as presi-
dent looked upon him with critical eyes.


The "Fourths" at Amoskeag were always celebrated
in a patriotic manner. . One celebration was unique in the
history of the village. For weeks previous preparations
were being made. In the "hall" were heard music and the
rhythmic stepping as the gentlemen drilled the ladies to
march in military order. In the meantime young men
were busy inventing new designs and manufacturing com-
bustibles of waste, tar and other items too numerous to
mention, for the grand fireworks. The housewives caught
the spirit of preparation and the elaborate and bountiful
menu testified to their success.

The "Fourth" arrived on schedule time, in all her
glory At the appointed time and place the procession
formed, led by the band, followed by the Amoskeag
Phalanx, in their blue and white uniforms, their white
cockades nodding approval with every step, while over
them floated the stars and stripes. Then came the ladies
dressed in white, with blue sashes and bows. In their
midst a gentleman bearing a magnificent silk banner, with
appropriate designs and golden fringe and ribbon streamers,
held by four little girls, dressed in white, with blue

The procession started, the citizens falling into line
and augmented by visitors from the city and the adjoining
country. When it reached the grove everything was in
readiness: seats, speakers' stands and tables. The oration
was pronounced unusually interesting, the banner was
gracefully and fittingly presented by the ladies to the
Amoskeag Phalanx. The band enlivened the exercises
with patriotic music. In the closing part of the program
all present participated, with such satisfactory results that
both by word and act the generous housewives must have
felt complimented, for not only the villagers but all the
visitors were bountifully supplied, even to the proverbial
small boy.

The fireworks rounded out the day's program, sur-
passing all previous efforts, and a credit to the ingenuity
and pyrotechnic skill of the boys of Amoskeag.


The old village pump on Second street must not be
forgotten, with its sparkling and life-giving waters. Its
memory was as dear to the old villagers as ever could have
been the "Old Oaken Bucket" of song.

By 1848 great changes had taken place. Amoskeag
had a memorable fireworks, greater and grander than ever
witnessed on the "Fourth," with a fiery thirst so intense
that the mighty waters of the Merrimack, surging round
its feet, failed to quench it. The illumination and fire
painting of land and water, with the flames wildly leaping
and roaring, presented a scene grand and weird, yet beauti-
ful. Never were the signal fires of the Indians on this
spot so far-reaching. It was a beacon to the nearby city,
to warn her that soon a regiment of men, women and chil-
dren would invade her precincts with a never-retiring

The exodus from Amoskeag, the breaking up of the
homelike community to be scattered never to meet again
as a people, was a sad and closing event of this decade.

We hail with gladness this Old Home Day reunion,
for its influence in bringing together some of Amoskeag's
former inhabitants, and cherishing in the hearts of later
generations a love for the home so dear to the parents,
grandparents and friends.

By Arthur P. Dodge

The following sketch was written about thirty years ago and pub-
lished in a pamphlet of twenty-four pages, by George H. Ellis, Boston,
but is now scarce. — Editor.


^HINEHAS ADAMS was born in Medway, Mass.,
the twentieth day of June, 1814, and comes from
the very best Revolutionary stock of New Eng-
land. His grandfather and great-grandfather participated
in the Battle of Bunker Hill, and served through that
memorable war. He had three brothers and seven sisters,
of whom the former all died, previous to 183 1. Three sis-
ters are now living: Sarah Ann, born in 1816, the wife of
E. B. Hammond, M. D., of Nashua; Eliza P., born in 1820,
widow of the late Ira Stone, Esq., formerly an overseer in
the Stark Mills; and Mary Jane, born in 1822, widow of
the late James Buncher, Esq., a former designer for the
Merrimack Print Works in Lowell, Mass. Mrs. Buncher
is the present popular and very efficient librarian of the
Manchester Public Library.

His father, Phinehas Adams, Sr., married Sarah W.
Barber, a native of Holliston, Mass., in 181 1. Her father
was an Englishman; came to America from Warrenton,
England, during the Revolutionary War, and married in
this country a Scottish lady who came from Edinburgh.

Phinehas Adams, the senior, was both a farmer and
a mechanic, and became quite an extensive manufacturer.
At a very early date, he constructed handlooms, which he
employed girls to operate; and, subsequently, started the
first power-loom that was ever established in this country,
at Waltham, Mass., in the year 18 14.

In this year and in the same town, he became a mill
overseer, and afterwards gave his whole attention to manu-


facturing. He resided, when Phinehas was a child, at
different times in Waltham, Cambridge, and in Nashua,
N. H., to which latter place he removed later in life, and
became proprietor of a hotel, — the Central House.

This business was now more agreeable to him, since
he had broken three or four of his ribs and received other
injuries from an unfortunate fall.

Hon. William P. Newell, of this city, who was agent
of the Amoskeag Old Mills from 1837 to 1846, was once a
bobbin-boy for the elder Adams. This was ten years
before the son, who was attending a private school in West
Newton, Mass., until 1827, began to work in the mills.

In the last-named year, his father became agent of the
Neponset Manufacturing Company's Mills, — which were
owned by himself, Dr. Oliver Dean, and others, — at Wal-
pole, in the same state; and to this place he removed his

When quite young, the son disliked close confinement
in school, the task of poring over books being to him
rather dry and irksome; but his father said to him that he
must either study or go to work in the mill. At the latter
place, he was soon found engaged in a work well calculated
to dispel boyish romance in a summary manner.

He almost repented making this choice, but pluckily
"stuck to the work" with the indomitable perseverance so
often displayed in after life, and was employed as bobbin-
boy for a year by the company.

He then entered Wrentham Academy, where he
remained, making good progress in his studies, for a year
and half, when his father was compelled to inform him that
he had met with serious losses by reason of the failure of
the company, and that he, Phinehas, would now have to
leave the academy and go to work.

The father very much regretted feeling obliged to take
this course, having cherished the hope of being able to give
his son a thorough education.


The latter, readily accepting the situation, replied to
hrs father that he was ready and willing to work, but that,
if he must go to work in a mill, he preferred that it should
be in a large one, and not in a "one-horse concern;" for he
desired a wide field and the best possible opportunities to
gain a knowledge of the business in its many details.

One of the greatest events in the commercial history
of our country was the founding of the "City of Spindles,"
Lowell, in 1821. Very naturally, the junior Adams was
led to go there to gain his desired knowledge.

On the loth of November, 1829, he proceeded to this
city, and at the age of fifteen became employed as bobbin-
boy in the mills of the Merrimack Company.

At that time the company had only about thirty thou-
sand spindles in its mills, but now its five mills contain (in
1876) one hundred and fifty-eight thousand four hundred
and sixty-four spindles, and three thousand nine hundred
and forty-one looms; has a capital of two and one-half
million dollars; and employs eighteen hundred female and
nine hundred male operatives.

In these early days of manufacturing, the system was
adhered to in Lowell of keeping fierce bull-dogs— one, at
least — in each mill. They were liberally fed with fresh
meat, not for the purpose of making them less savage, and
chained near the entrance to the mill, making effectual
sentinels while the vizXch-men were making their rounds.
This custom was followed until about 1831.

Mr. Adams Vv^as early possessed of an ambition to
become an overseer; and to this end he labored hard and
faithfully, never thinking or dreaming, however, that he
would become agent of a large mill.

This was his real beginning, the wedding to his long
and uninterrupted manufacturing life, the "golden wedding''
anniversary of which event occurred in November, 1879.

Soon after his commencement at Lowell, he was pro-
moted to the position of second overseer in the weaving
department, a post he retained until 1831, when he passed


to a similar position in the Methuen Company's mill, of
which his uncle was agent. In 1833, he made another
change, going to Hooksett, N. H., where he became over-
seer in the Hooksett Manufacturing Company's mills, of
which his father was then the agent.

Not long afterwards he assumed a similar position in
the Pittsfield Manufacturing Company's mill, at Pittsfield,
then under the administration of Ithamar A. Beard, Esq.,
agent, who was by profession a civil engineer. Mr. Beard
went from there to Brunswick, Me., where he subsequently
engaged in the construction of mills.

Mr. Adams remained in Pittsfield from December,
1834, until Mr. Beard resigned. The latter urged the
former to continue in his position at Pittsfield, and gave
him an excellent letter of recommendation, saying, as he
handed it to Mr. Adams, "There, young man, you can
keep this: it may never do you any good, but it will never
do you any harm. I can indorse it with a good con-

It was on a Saturday night, the 7th of March, 1835,
that Mr. Adams, who had previously decided to return to
Lowell, left Pittsfield; being driven in a team to Hooksett,
where he secured a night's lodging. In good season the
next morning (Sunday), he embarked in the mail stage,
and found himself about noon of the same day at Nashua,
where his parents then resided. In those days there was
no city of Manchester, neither was there a splendid rail-
road service running through the fertile Merrimack valley.
But the waters of the Merrimack, though scarcely at all
utilized at that time to propel water-wheels, carried upon
its fleeting bosom myriads of heavily laden vessels from
Boston, via the old Middlesex Canal, running as far north
as Concord. From the Boston & Lowell Railroad, the
former course of this canal can now be traced much of the
way. It ran through Charlestown, Medford, Billerica Mills,
and Middlesex Village, at which latter place it intersected
with the Merrimack River. Locks were in use at Garvin's


Falls, Hooksett, Manchester, Goffe's Falls, Nashua, and at
other points. A passenger steamer plied in those days
between Lowell and Nashua upon the river, which was
higher than the canal.

Mr. Adams remained at home only until Monday — a
short visit. But he was industrially inclined, and proceeded
immediately, we learn, to the Merrimack Mills in Lowell,
the scene of his earlier labors, as previously mentioned,
where he accepted the position of overseer. He remained
with this company until he came to Manchester, in 1846.

In December, 1841, the late John Clark, Esq., the
agent of the Merrimack Mills at Lowell, proposed that
Mr. Adams should enter the office as clerk. This idea was
very distasteful to Mr. Adams, as he detested bookkeep-
ing, having previously had much of it and other writing to
do for his father, when overseer and bookkeeper in his
father's mill. However, he yielded to the wishes and advice
of Mr. Clark, who had excellent opinions of Mr. Adams,
and who said to him on this occasion, "You have a
thorough knowledge of manufacturing, and ought now to
get acquainted with bookkeeping and the general business
of the mills; for you are destined to fill a higher position."
Time has abundantly proven the truth of Mr. Clark's
prophecy. During the five years he held this position, Mr.
Adams had good opportunity to observe the lively interest
Mr. Clark took in his employees. There was a fellow-clerk,
a young man, who was given more or less to the demoral-
izing habit of loafing around saloons. On one occa-
sion, Mr. Clark himself, always strictly temperate in his
habit, censured the practice of that young man, and
requested Mr. Adams to talk with him, and at the same
time to inform him that he could not be promoted without
mending his habits. In this connection, it can be said that
Mr. Adams has never used tobacco or intoxicating liquors
during his life.

In the year 1846, Mr. Adams left Lowell to assume
the agency (succeeding the Hon. William P. Newell) of the


<'01d Amoskeag Mills," then located on the west side of
the Merrimack River at Amoskeag Falls, — now a part of
the city of Manchester, — on the present site of ex-Gov-
ernor P. C. Cheney's paper-mill.

The building of the Amoskeag Mills was the begin-
ning of Manchester's wonderful career of prosperity,
which has developed to such great proportions. Her
many mills, now running more than three hundred thou-
sand spindles, many looms, and many cloth printing
machines, and the many other signs of industry, are abund-
antly attesting to the truth of the statement.

With the Amoskeag Corporation Mr. Adams remained
until the 17th of November, 1847, when he became agent
of the Stark Mills.

Of the great manufactories of Manchester, that of the
Stark Mills Company ranks third in magnitude and second
in age. This company was organized September 26, 1838,
and, and began operation the following year.

During its forty years and more of busy existence, it
has had but two resident agents, John A. Burnham, Esq.,
holding that position from the inception of the corporation
until the 17th of November, 1847, the date marking the
commencement of the long term of service by the present
incumbent, the Hon. Phinehas Adams. At that time, the
capital of the Stark Mills Company was the same as now,
one million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The
shares, the par value of which was and is one thousand
dollars each, were worth six or seven hundred dollars, when
Colonel Adams was chosen agent; but they rose to four-
teen or fifteen hundred dollars each share during the late
Civil War.

In the early days of New England manufacturing,
more labor was performed by hand than is to-day; and,
though substantially the same machinery was employed,
yet it had by no means attained its present capacity and
wonderful completeness.


In December, 1863, Mr. Adams was commissioned
by the directors of the Stark Mills to go to Europe for
the purpose of securing machinery and information relat-
ing to the manufacture of linen goods. At that time,
owing to the war, cotton goods were very scarce and
expensive. For unmanufactured cotton itself, the Stark
Company paid as high as one dollar and eighty-six cents
per pound, and a higher price even than that was paid by
other companies. A bale of cotton brought nine hundred
and thirty dollars.

Mr. Adams travelled extensively through England,
Scotland, and Ireland, and visited the city of Paris. He
ordered considerable machinery of the English manufac-
turers, who were very busy with American orders at the
time. So great, in fact, was the demand upon them, that
the Stark machinery did not arrive until the September
following, — nearly a year after being ordered.

At Paisley, about seven miles from Glasgow, Mr.
Adams examined the interesting process of making the
far-famed "long Paisley shawls." They were made princi-
pally by weavers upon hand-looms, at their places of abode;
some of the rooms in which many elegant shawls were
manufactured being found to be low-studded, dark and
dingy in the extreme. The different-colored yarns were
"given out " to the weavers to be made into shawls as are
stockings, in this city to be "heeled and toed." He saw a
pattern for one long shawl that a man was constantly
engaged in painting for the space of nine months.

From choice, Mr. Adams has been quite clear of poli-
tics, having only served as ward clerk when a young man
in Lowell, and, later, as a presidential elector for General
Grant. He was Governor Straw's chief of staff, which, by
the way, it is believed never "turned out in a body" as
such. He was also four years a director in the Concord
Railroad, just after the decease of Governor Gilmore.
About the year 1848, he was chosen one of the assistant
engineers of the Manchester Fire Department, in which


capacity he served with peculiar fidelity for twelve years..

Never being "up for office," as were many of his
friends, he could act with positive independence; and he
invariably did act, as he thought, for the best interests of
the city.

This sort of conduct was in marked contrast with the
non-committal policy of politicians who felt obliged to
please (.'') the firemen, who at that period, as is well known,
exerted great influence in municipal politics.

Mr. Adams and the other engineers resigned their
positions after two steamers had been obtained, thus giving
the captains of the old companies chances of promotion.

He has for a long time been closely identified with the
moneyed institutions of this city, having served as a
director in the Merrimack River Bank from 1857 to i860;
the same in the Manchester National Bank from 1865 to
the present time; and as a trustee in the Manchester
Savings Bank nearly all the time since it obtained the

Since the decease of Hon. Herman Foster, Mr.
Adams has been one of the committee on loans for the
latter institution.

He is one of the directors of the Gas-Light Com-
pany, and was for many years director of the Public

He was elected in 1S65 one of the original directors
of the New England Cotton Manufacturers' Association.

Three years ago last October, Colonel Adams attended
a class reunion of scholars of Mr. Seth Davis, then ninety
years of age, at his home in West Newton, Mass. Ex-
Governor Alexander H. Rice and other prominent men
were of this number.

Mr. Davis lived upon a large farm (one hundred and
seventy-five acres), and kept a private school for boys from
six to twelve years of age, some of whom he boarded.
Mr. Adams attended this school in 1826-27, and was one of
seventeen lads who lived in their tutor's family. Some of


them had parents or friends residing in ornear Boston, who
were in the habit of driving out to visit, and to give the
boys cakes, candies, and other dainties.

Now it used to happen that nearly every Monday
morning found the ranks of this solid seventeen broken;
and it also happened, said Mr. Adams to the writer once,
while conversing upon the days of long ago, that sickness
was the cause thereof or rather the effect, — for those per-
nicious sweetmeats were the primary cause of thin ranks
on those occasions.

For many years, Mr. Adams has been engaged, as
opportunity occurred, in procuring rare coins, medals, etc.
Of the former, he now possesses very complete collection
of the various denominations in gold, silver, nickel, and
copper; and he has a great number of valuable medals.
Many of these antiquities command a very high price in
the market, their numbers being absolutely limited, and
the demand for them steadily increasing.

The present of^cers of the Stark Mills are: Clerk,
Phinehas Adams; Treasurer, Edmund Dwight; Direc-
tors', William Amory, J. IngersoU Bowditch, Lewis Down-
ing, Jr., T. Jefferson Coolidge, John L. Bremer, J. Lewis
Stackpole, and Roger Walcott; Manufacturing Agent,
Phinehas Adams; Selling Agents, J. L. Bremer & Co.,
Boston. Mr. Amory was Treasurer at the commencement
and is now President of the Corporation.*

During the administration of Colonel Adams, wh'ch
covers a long series of eventful years, a great many
changes have taken place. In what may be called, more
particularly, the manufacturing world is this specially

He is the oldest agent and the longest in such position
in the city, — nay, more, in the entire Merrimack Valle} ;
and most of those holding similar positions thirty-two years
ago are now passed from life.

*It should be remembered that this was written in 1880. — Editor.


That fine old estate on Hanover street, for a long time
known as the "Harris Estate," was formerly owned by the
Stark Company, who built the commodious mansion now
converted into a charitable institution, — the "Orphans'
Home," for the use of their agents. John A. Burnham
was its first occupant; and next, Mr. Adams, who resided
there nine years, beginning with 1847.

When Baldwin & Co.'s steam mill on Manchester
street, where D. B. Varney's brass foundry is now located,
was, with other structures, burned on the 5th of July,
1852, that house then occupied by Mr. Adams was set on
fire by the flying sparks; but it was speedily extinguished.
Mr. Adams was at the time attending to his duties as
engineer where the fire raged the fiercest. Thus Mrs.
Adams and those of her household were without the pro-
tection of the sterner sex in the early part of their peril.
Soon, however, aid was proffered by several men, of whom
Mrs. Adams admitted Mr. Walter Adriance and three
others, friends of the family, whereupon she securely barri-
caded the doors. The work of passing water to the roof
was very lively for a while.

In 1856, Mr. Adams moved into the house No. 2
Water street, now occupied by Moses O. Pearsons, Esq.,
where he lived also about nine years, when he purchased
his present fine residence No. 18 Brook street.

On the 24th of September, 1829, Mr. Adams was
united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Simpson, daughter

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Online LibraryN.H.) Manchester Historic Association (ManchesterManchester Historic Association collections (Volume 4) → online text (page 11 of 24)