William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

History of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) online

. (page 56 of 78)
Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 56 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

begun. E. J. W. Morse about 1840 to 1850 rented a part of
the factory and manufactured knitting cotton, Timothy Kaley
being the superintendent. Mr. Morse had also a cotton-picker

Except the tack business, which was very profitable, the
various enterprises of Elijah Howard & Co. in Easton were
not prosperous. Mr. Howard in a review of the whole subject
wrote : " So far as manufacturing cotton has been carried on by
the Company, they have in every instance lost money by it, and
in some cases to the extent of thousands of dollars." Their
business at Braintree proved very remunerative, and alone saved
the Company from ruin. In 1851 the Company had lost two of
its members by death, — Joseph Hay ward in 1843, and Roland
Howard later, which left Elijah Howard as principal owner.
He sold the Red Factory privilege in 185 1 to Oakes and Oliver
Ames, who have used it for various purposes connected with
the shovel business, latterly for the grinding of shovels. When


there is water-power to spare at this privilege it is used for
running the stone-crusher owned by the town.

The industry of next importance in town to the shovel business
is the manufacture of hinges by E. W. Gilmore. In 1854 the
firm of E. W. Gilmore & Co., the other partners being Oakes
Ames and Oliver Ames, began in a small way the manufacture
of strap- and T-hinges, ship-scrapers, wrought iron-washers, and
other articles. This business was started in the building at the
Shovel-Shop Pond dam formerly used by the Ames Company for
the manufacture of shovels. In 1871 E. W. Gilmore bought out
the Ames interest in the business first named ; he then built the
large works which he now occupies, and moved into them in Jan-
uary, 1872. His power is furnished by a sixty horse-power Cor-
liss engine. Mr. Gilmore is a practical and ingenious machinist,
and from time to time has invented and introduced important im-
provements in the way of machinery and labor-saving processes.
By this means, by hard work of brain and hand, and by excellent
business ability, he has achieved success. When full of work he
employs about seventy-five men and boys, making about fifteen
thousand strap- and T-hinges per day, besides other articles.
In 1884 Mr. Gilmore added another industry to his business,
that of making wire picture-cord. A view of the Hinge Factory
is here given.

In 1 85 1 there was organized in North Easton the firm of
A. A. Gilmore & Co., the other members of the firm being
Elisha T. Andrews and Oakes A. Ames. They manufactured
fine calf-skin boots in a building owned by Cyrus Lothrop.
Oakes Ames succeeded to the interest first owned by Oakes
A. Ames. In 1870, Messrs Gilmore and Andrews bought out
Oakes Ames. This firm, which for some time did quite an ex-
tensive business, gave up the manufacture of boots in 1879; but
the firm did not dissolve until death broke up the long partner-
ship, Mr. Andrews dying in 1883.

In 1855 William Andrews built vi'hat is known as the Brett
Shop (now Middleton's Market), and went into the business of
shoe-manufacturing with Ward L. Foster ; but the business
crisis of 1857 made this attempt a failure. The firm of Pratt,
Foster, & Co. manufactured for a time in the same building.
In 1863 George Brett made ladies' shoes in this building for

^,'-^, ^*^


E. H. Johnson, of Lynn. In 1855 he went into business in
the same place for himself, and continued in it for ten years,
when it closed.

Captain John A. Lynch once carried on the shoe business in
the village, as also did John Bailey.

In 1865 John B. King, with P. A. Gififord as partner, began
to make boots and shoes. In 1871 Mr. King bought out his
partner's interest, and has conducted a successful business ever
since. He now employs about fifty hands in his work ; his
goods go chiefly west and northwest.

The mill on the north road to Brockton has never been an
important enterprise, the water-supply being inadequate. It is
probable that the supply was larger here and in other localities
in town a century and a half ago. As stated already, this mill
was sold by the heirs of Samuel Stone in 1776 to George Monk,
then of Stoughton, but living near the mill. July 30, 1812, Mr.
Monk sold the mill and privilege to Edward Capen, it being then
" an old corn-mill." Mr. Capen carried it on as a grist-mill, and
in 1829 he sold it to Merrit and Francis French. For two years
it was regarded as too insignificant a piece of property even to
be taxed. It was then repaired and set to work again. The
mill is now the property of Simeon French, and is at present
(1886) the tenement of a solitary resident.

At the so-called Marshall place on the Quaker Leonard road
Eliphalet Leonard, 2d, owned a forge and steel furnace in 1800.
The first steel furnace was erected at the beginning of the Rev-
olutionary War ; and Jonathan Leonard, son of Eliphalet, had
built a second at this place in 1787, and he was living there at
this time. The old Leonard house was just west of where the
Box Factory now stands, and had an immense central chimney.
This whole property, March i, 1804, was deeded to Jonathan,
though the latter then lived in Canton. In 1808 he built another
furnace in the same place capable of making at first ten, and
then twenty, tons of steel at a batch. Here for a time was also
operated a machine for breaking flax. Jonathan Leonard re-
tained the ownership of this place until nearly 1827, when it
passed into the possession of Amos Binney, of Boston. But
prior to this a great excitement was made by the supposed dis-
covery of lead-ore at this place. A company was organized, and


in 1824 mining was begun. A large amount of capital was sunk,
one or two lives lost, and nothing was left to show for it at last
but a dismal hole in the ground. February 8, 1825, Joel White
was injured by a premature explosion here, and lived but ten
days afterward.

About 1833 this old Leonard place became the property of
Calvin Marshall, and he soon sold the right of the mill-privilege
to Jeremiah Kelley and Samuel B. King, who built a stone fac-
tory here, intending to manufacture cotton batting. They put
in two machines and began work, but soon became financially
embarrassed and were unable to carry on the business. Not
long afterward Nathaniel Hayward, assisted by his brother, man-
ufactured in this building rubber sheeting, which was made up
into ladies' rubber aprons by women who worked in a shop on
the east side of Washington Street, not far above the church.
This manufacture also was not long continued ; and then the
mill fell into disuse, suffering meantime from the depredations of
boys, who smashed the windows and did what damage they
could. Not far from i860 William Morse obtained possession of
the property, and Isaac Merritt began in it a box-factory. There
was soon some disagreement with Mr. Marshall, leading to long
and costly lawsuits, which ended by Mr. Marshall buying the
building of Mr. Morse. He put a new wheel into it, and it has
since been run as a box-factory. Near it are now the commodi-
ous ice-houses of the Brockton Ice Company, who do an exten-
sive business.

At South Easton, Samuel Simpson, February 4, 1828, began
the business of blacksmithing, and continued working at it until
age and failing strength obliged him to desist. The wheel-
wright business was added in 1852, and the painting and trim-
ming business in i88r. In 1884 the business firm was reorgan-
ized under the name of S. D. Simpson & Sons.

Simpson's Spring has already been spoken of. Though the
water of this spring had long been known to be especially good, it
was not until 1878 that it was analyzed and became an article of
sale. Since that time there has been an increasing demand for
it, the water being sold all over the country, and even sent to
South America. Considerable business is done in bottling and
carbonizing this water, which being flavored in various ways


makes a pleasant and wholesome beverage. The proprietor of
this growing business is Samuel D. Simpson.

As early as 1830 four Hay ward brothers — Nathaniel, Daniel,
Albert, and Charles — began the wheelwright business in the
old shop now standing on Poquanticut Avenue, south of the
intersection of Beaver Street, Within five or six years of that
time Daniel and Nathaniel, who were interested in trying to
make improvements in the manufacture of rubber goods, left
the business. Subsequently Charles also gave up his interest
in it, and it was conducted alone by Albert until 1872, when he
took his son, Albert M. Hay ward, into partnership. In 1882
the latter bought out his father's interest, and still continues the
business. In the spring of 1886 he moved his factory to the
Furnace Village, placing it on the corner opposite Joel S. Drake's
old store stand.

Daniel Hayward, after leaving the partnership as above said,
built a shop for the manufacture of carriages. The canvas for
them was prepared by a process of his own invention, being
made with what he called friction cement. He continued this
business until about 1850, without, however, making it a success.
He was greatly interested in the rubber manufacture, and experi-
mented a good deal with it, showing remarkable intelligence,
perseverance, and inventive genius. He was the first person
to make a success of the glazed rubber cloth. He went into
partnership with Dr. Hartshorn, of Providence, — the latter fur-
nishing the money for the business, the former supplying what
is scarcer than money; that is, brains. This was about 1853.
At the time of his death he was entertaining the idea of putting
up large rubber works in Easton, locating them south of Tisdale
Harlow's. His brother Nathaniel was in the rubber business
also, finally settling in Colchester, Connecticut, making consider-
able money. Daniel was with him there for a short time. The
Hayward Rubber Company, at present a great success, was an
outgrowth of the perseverance, inventiveness, and enterprise of
these Easton Haywards.

About twenty-five years ago Jephtha Buck built a small grist-
mill at the southeast end of the little pond near the intersection
of Rockland and Mill streets. It had in it a saw for cutting
wood. It has been occasionally used by Mr. Buck until recently.


Cider was sometimes made there. It is now occupied by El-
bridge Williams, who manufactures baskets in it.

The great gale of September 8, 1869, levelled to the ground
many acres of forest in Easton. More than twenty-five acres of
some of Edward R. Hayward's largest timber in the swamp
south of his residence thus suffered. Mr. Hayward immedi-
ately decided to erect a steam saw-mill at this locality, — the
only steam saw-mill in town, and the largest one in the vicinity.
He put in a thirty-five horse-power engine, with a fifty horse-
power tubular boiler, and provided a large circular-saw for saw-
ing long timber. He runs also a circular-saw for sawing wood,
slabs, and the like.

This mill was in operation before the close of the year 1869,
and in twelve months thereafter it had sawed out more than one
million three hundred thousand feet of lumber. Mr. Hayward
sometimes markets more than one thousand cords of wood a
y'ear, and gets out a large quantity of posts and rails for fencing.
He also gets out ties for the Old Colony Railroad. This Rail-
road Company has built for him at its own expense a private

Mr. Hayward also runs a large farm, paying considerable
attention to the cultivation of hops ; he has a building on his
premises for curing, drying, and bailing hops for the market.

An excellent example of success in farming in Easton has
been given by Mr. James Rankin. He has also invented an
incubator which is rapidly displacing other incubators in the
market, and the business of manufacturing them is steadily in-
creasing. At the request of the writer Mr. Rankin has pre-
pared a statement descriptive of his business experience in town,
and it is here given in his own words : —

"In April, 1874, I bought a farm in Easton known as the Deacon
Reed farm, and moved on in September of the same year. I found
it very much run down, keeping with difficulty three or four cows and
a horse. The buildings also, both house and barns, were in a very
bad condition. I repaired the house, built a new barn, and started in
confidently. I had bought the place for its possibilities, it being a
fine plot of loamy land, free from stone and sloping gently to the south-
east. By utilizing all the fertilizers at my command with scrupulous
care in composting them, also by the judicious application of ground


bone, some three or four tons each year, with the component parts of
potash and nitrogenous salts, the farm cut more than sixty tons of hay
and easily kept twenty-five head of cattle with provender to spare.

" Previous to locating in Easton I had been growing poultry on
a large scale, and found it by far the most profitable part of farm in-
dustry. I had also been experimenting somewhat with incubators, and
became convinced that if the artificial system could be made a success
it would greatly enhance the profits of the business. In 1879 I con-
structed a machine with a hot water circulation and an automatic reg-
ulation, relying upon the expansive and contractive force of the water
in the tank to regulate the heat in the egg chamber, — thus making
the very principle which generated the superfluous heat provide for its
own escape. The thing worked admirably, and I was enabled to dis-
continue the use of hens entirely for purposes of incubation. Others
wished me to construct machines for them. The demand for them
became so great that I eventually patented it, put it out in public
competition with all other machines whenever opportunity offered, in-
variably winning by its meritorious work all honors and the first pre-
miums over all the first class machines in the country. The past
winter we employed some fifteen or sixteen hands in the manufacture
of incubators, and could hardly fill the orders we received."

There are a number of cranberry meadows in Easton. The
names Cranberry Meadov\^ and Little Cranberry Meadow were
given to localities in Easton already spoken of, which proves
that our early settlers found cranberries growing here. They
are now carefully cultivated in several places in town. Avery
Stone and Levi C. Fitton have meadows northwest of their
homes. Samuel K. Kelley, who has for some years culti-
vated them east of the Bay road in Stoughton, has lately, in
company with Edward R. Hayward, prepared and planted some
fine meadows in the valley of the Whitman Brook west of the
railroad, near the town line. They are already yielding a crop.
Oliver A. Day is also engaging in the same industry just below
Kelley and Hayward's meadows. Other persons have small
cranberry meadows in town. The swampy lands and numerous
small watercourses of Easton offer favorable opportunities for
this important business.

For many years William King, in a small building west of his
dwelling-house, has manufactured awls, and has added to this


business the making of various kinds of cement and some other

In 1880 at Easton Centre, in a building that was once the old
Chapel and subsequently a coffin manufactory, Reed & Lincoln
began the manufacture of a variety of shoes. There has been
an addition made to the building, and the industry is now carried
on by Lackey & Davie, who employ about twenty-four hands
and are doing an increasing business.

In the fall of 1880 D. H. Packard began the manufacture of
shoes in North Easton but soon gave up the business.

In March, 1880, A. J. Leavitt established a business which
goes under the name of the New England Specialty Company.
He manufactures a large variety of such articles as screw-
drivers, can-openers, sewing-machine trimmings, steel-keys, etc.
His shop is the former hinge-factory of E. W. Gilmore east of
Shovel-Shop Pond.

In March, 1883, W. B. Drew and J. W. Keith formed a co-
partnership for the manufacture of boot and shoe heels. In
October, 1884, they erected a building just north of the No. 8
schoolhouse on Washington Street, and have since done a
thriving business, employing about twelve workmen.

In January, 1885, the Howard Shoe Company began business
in White's Village. Its members are J. M. Howard, J. E. How-
ard, and M. H. Willis. This Company has been doing business
on a small scale for a year, but has just erected a building sixty
by twenty-two feet, where they will employ more hands and in-
crease the amount of goods manufactured.

December 22, 1885, Walter Hill, of Easton, patented a cart-
ridge-loading machine, which is named the Acme Cartridge
Loader. It is a very ingenious but also a simple contrivance by
means of which, though working by hand, one person can load
two hundred cartridges in an hour. It is thus described by Mr.
Hill : —

" The machine consists of a powder and shot reservoir, also a recep-
tacle for supplying wads, which are fed and driven automatically by
the use of a lever. It is so constructed that by the simple turn of
a thumb-screw any desired charge can be used. Sufficient powder,
shot, and wads for the loading of one hundred shells can be placed
in the receiver. A glass is placed in front of each receiver, so that




at any time the amount of powder and shot in them can be seen.
The shell is placed in a brass sleeve, and with one motion of the
hand it is placed in position ready for the charge. Three quick
motions of the lever, and the shell is loaded ; one motion of the
hand tips back the sleeve containing the cartridge and puts it in
position to be crimped ; two turns of the crimper, and the cartridge
is ready for use."

These machines are at present manufactured at Drake's
foundry and machine works.

In September, 1886, there M^as organized in North Easton vil-
lage a corporation under the title of the North Easton Boot &
Shoe Manufacturing Company, with a capital stock of not less
than thirteen thousand dollars. The corporation was formed,
not for the purpose of manufacturing boots and shoes, but in
order to provide a building where such manufacturing could be
done, — this building being specially designed for D. B. Closson
& Company, shoe manufacturers, previously located at Brock-
ton, Mr. Closson's partner being N. S. Gould. Mr. Closson is
well known in North Easton, having for a short time carried
on the shoe business here. The corporation chose for directors
Josiah Goward, Henry Carr, Hiram Williams, L. L. Berry, and
P. A, Gilford. Mr. Goward was elected president, E. B. Hay-
ward secretary, and Mr. Gifford treasurer.

A lot of land on Mechanic Street a few rods east of the rail-
road was purchased ; the first spadeful of earth was removed
October 7, and on the 14th the first stone of the foundation was
laid. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in
the coming winter of 1 886-1 887. Its dimensions are to be one
hundred and fifty feet long and thirty-five feet high, with two
projections. The front projection will be fifty-four by thirty-two
feet, and the boiler-house thirty-three by thirty-two feet It will
be four stories high.

It is hardly desirable to go into further and more minute
details in regard to the business interests of Easton. The town
has its carpenters, masons, painters, and paper-hangers, market-
men, butchers, milliners, tin-men, tailors, cobblers, livery-stable
keepers, druggists, store-keepers, etc., like other towns ; but
they would be more properly specified in a town business




The First National Bank, — The North Easton Savings Bank. —
Military Bands of Easton. — Paul Dean Lodge of Freema-
sons. — MizPAH Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. — A. B.
Randall Post, G. A. R. No. 52. — The Good Templars. — Sons
of Temperance. — The Roman Catholic Lyceum. — The Knights
OF Honor. — The Royal Arcanum. — ■ The Queset Club. — The
North Easton Athletic Club. — The Knights of Labor.


THE First National Bank of Easton was organized in March,
1864, and opened for business on the ist of July fol-
lowing. Its first board of ofificers was as follows : President,
John H. Swain ; Cashier, Pardon A. Gifford ; Directors, Oliver
Ames, Reuben Header, John H. Swain, E. W. Gilmore, Oakes
A. Ames, and Frederick L. Ames. Mr. Swain held the office of
president for three years, and was succeeded by Oliver Ames in
January, 1867, who filled the position until his death in March,
1877. Frederick L, Ames was then elected president, and still
retains the position. The death of Oliver Ames made a vacancy
in the board of directors, and this was filled by the election of
Oliver Ames, the son of Oakes. George Barrows succeeded
Reuben Header in 1880, on the same board.

The capital stock of this bank when it organized in 1864 was
^100,000 ; and twice in that year it was voted to increase it by
the addition of ^100,000 more, — making a total of 1^300,000,
which is the amount at this date (August, 1886). The surplus
earnings are over ^100,000. This bank has been very successful
from the start. Pardon A. Gifford still remains cashier.

The North Easton Savings Bank was incorporated February
2, 1864, on petition of Oliver Ames, A. A. Gilmore, and John
H. Swain. It was approved by the Governor, February 8. The
original petitioners associated with themselves P. A. Gifford,


Oakes Ames, C. C. Hussey, Cyrus Lothrop, Henry W. French,
Oakes A. Ames, Horace M. Pool, Daniel Belcher, Edward N.
Morse, and Thomas H. Dean as members of the corporation,
which organized in August, 1864, by the choice of the following
officers : President, A. A. Gilmore ; Vice-Presidents, J. H. Swain,
George W. Kennedy, F. L. Ames ; Secretary and Treasurer, P.

A. Gifford ; trustees, Oakes Ames, Reuben Meader, Henry J.
Fuller, John Kimball, Lincoln Drake, Oliver Ames, Oliver
Ames, 2d, Henry McArdle, E. W. Gilmore, Thomas H. Dean,
T. M. Porter, and Joseph Barrows. Only three of the original
trustees remain, except the officers, who also act in that capa-
city. The vacancies have been filled, and four additional trus-
tees are added to the board. The Savings Bank opened for
business in October, 1864.

In January, 1867, F. L. Ames was chosen president, A. A.
Gilmore having declined re-election. The bank has always done
a good business. In 1879 its deposits had reached the sum of
^320,000. This was at the time of alarm, when there was a great
run upon savings banks. The North Easton Savings Bank paid
out at that time about ^90,000. It did not then ask, nor has it
ever asked, for a day's previous notice in order to meet any calls
made upon it. It does a safe and prosperous business, and its
present deposits amount to about $480,000. It has considerable
influence in promoting thrifty habits among the working people,
who frequently deposit portions of their earnings therein, and
who place in its security a confidence that is well deserved.


I. The first military band of Easton was organized at the
Furnace Village, September 8, 1841. Albert A. Rotch was
chosen first leader, Daniel Belcher second leader, and William
P. Howard, clerk. The original members were Albert A. Rotch,
George L. Torrey, Daniel Belcher, S. W. Morse, Clifford Belcher,

B. F. Johnson, George Williams, William P. Howard, Ira C. Root,
Robert Lunn, Guilford White, Zenas Packard, Ezekiel Dicker-
man, Isaiah Packard, Abner Drake, Jr., Charles Briggs, and
Lysander White. Others afterward joined at different times,
but the above are the names first entered as members upon the
band-book of records. These records were begun by William P.




The Lodge was named after the Rev. Paul Dean, a Unitarian
clergyman, who was settled over the Unitarian Society at Easton
in 1845, and continued their pastor for five years. He was a prom-
inent Mason, having served in almost every official position, being
grand- master of Masons in Massachusetts in 1838, 1839, ^"

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 56 of 78)