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MANUFACTURES AND TRADE.
Spinning Wheels. — Looms. — Home-made Clothing. — Fulling Mills.
- Carding Machines. — Factories. — Paper Mills. — Tanneries. Potash. Iron Works. Fossetts' Mills. Stores. Carting Goods to Boston in the War of 1812. - Canals.
MANUFACTURES. SPINNING WHEELS. — The old spinning-wheel, turned by hand and doling out its single thread, was in use from the first settlement of the town. It was considered indispensable to every household. The spindle was made to revolve by means of a band connecting it with a large wheel. Notwithstanding the facilities for manufacturing yarn at the present day, it is still occasionally used in many families.
. The only improvement in it is the “patent head,” which is merely the addition of an intervening wheel between the large one and the spindle.
LOOMs. T'he old-fashioned loom, more costly than the spinning-wheel, was not so common. The shuttle was thrown through the warp with the hand. The fly-shuttle, introduced about the year 1812 or 1815, was considered a great improvement.
HOME-MADE CLOTHING. By means of the spinningwheel and the loom, the inhabitants were able to provide themselves with woollen garments. The fleece was made into rolls by the tedious process of carding by hand. By the industrious housewife the rolls were spun on the large wheel, which in winter was brought up before the kitchen fire, — the only fire in the house,
except when there was company. The yarn was then woven, and the cloth taken to the clothier, dressed and returned, having been dyed Holland-brown or smokecolor. Cloth for striped frocks, and for some other purposes, was made and worn without being sent to
the fulling-mill. A tailoress was commonly employed to cut and sometimes to baste the garments, which were subsequently made by the wife and daughters.
The foot-wheel converted into linen the flax which was raised on the farm. Winter evenings, when there were not more pressing duties, were spent by the females around a rousing wood-fire, in knitting stockings, mittens, and leggins, from home-made yarn. Thus was every family practically in favor of domestic manufactures.
FULLING MILLS. — The first fulling-mill was built on Crawford's River in 1799, by Micajah Gleason, from Framingham, Mass. There have been four since, though there are none now.
CARDING MACHINES.- The first machine for carding wool was built by Ebenezer Alden in 1806. There have been four, of which two are now in operation.
FACTORIES. — In 1809, a cotton-factory was built on the west side of St. George's River, just below the Middle Bridge. Its operations were never very extensive. The building was carried away by a freshet in 1832. The Farmers' Woollen Factory was built near the Upper Bridge in 1814, and owned in shares of ten dollars each. Wool was carded there as recently as
. 1843, though no cloth was dressed during the two or three previous years. In 1843, William Gleason converted into a woollen-factory the building which had been used for a paper-mill at South Union.
PAPER Mills. — Several years ago, the manufacture of paper was carried on extensively. The water in Crawford's River is peculiarly good for the purpose. On this river, in 1810, was erected a paper-mill
, which was burnt in 1818. Another building was put up in 1819; but no paper was made there after 1837. Immediately above the Middle Bridge was another papermill, which was burnt early on the morning of June 11, 1843. The machinery, said to have cost $3,000, and unwrought stock valued at more than $2,000, were destroyed. The paper was saved. Insured at Worcester, Mass.
TANNERIES. - Richard Cummings was the first person who tanned hides. He abandoned the business after a few years, and the people traded for leather at Warren. In 1826, there were three tanneries; one owned by Joseph Beckett, south-south-west of the Methodist Meeting-house; another by Susman Abrams, a Jew,' a few rods below the Middle Bridge; and another on the east side of the St. George's above the Upper Bridge. In 1840, there were four in town.
POTASH. — Soon after the incorporation of the town, Edward Jones made potash, in small quantities, near the Lower Bridge. For several years in the early part of the nineteenth century, Ebenezer Alden manufactured five or six tons annually in a building which he erected for the purpose, on a rivulet at the brow of the hill east of Seven Brook, on the south side of the road.
Susman Abrams was from Hamburg. In early life he travelled as a pedler, and traded in old clothes. To save expense, he lived on bread and butter, carrying his butter with him in a covered pewter porringer. It is supposed he fled for some misdemeanor, embarked on board a vessel, and was concerned in the sinking of it. After a residence in Waldoborough, and subsequently in Thomaston, he came to Union. Here he carried on the business of coopering and tanning. He was never very successful in the accumulation of property. His accounts were always kept in the Hebrew characters, and were read from the right to the left. Not being able, as he said, to translate from the Hebrew into our language, he first translated into the German, and then from the German into the English. He was very observant of his written or printed prayers ; but in his conduct there was much of the inconsistency which was laid to the charge of the Jews by our Saviour. On one occasion a Jew came to keep the Passover with him. The iron vessels, before being used, were heated red hot, that no leaven might by any possibility remain attached to them. Being very fond of eels, Abrams allowed his appetite to get the better of his religious scruples, and ate a hearty meal, to the great horror of his brother Jew, from whom he received a very severe rebuke for the unrighteous deed. Although he professed faith in Judaism only, and not in Christianity, he was a constant attendant on public worship. On Saturday, which is the Jewish sabbath, he abstained from hard labor, but took occasion to ride about and transact business. Not recognizing any obligation to keep sacredly the first day of the week, he often worked in secret at his tan-yard, and once fell into a vat and was nearly drowned. He was never much liked by the men, and was generally hated by the women. Nov. 29, 1810, he was married to the widow Mary Jones, of Friendship. He died, without issue, Oct. 6, 1830; aged, it is supposed, about eighty-seven years.
Iron Works. - In June, 1843, an iron-foundery was
established at South Union. Here 6 are made all kinds of country castings.” In August, 1844, business was commenced in the edge-tool factory of Vaughan and Pardoe. Nearly four thousand axes are made annually; also ship-tools to the value of about $1,500, and cooper's tools to about the same amount. March 12, 1850, J. Vaughan and Co. commenced business in their shovel-factory. The manu. factures at all these establishments are regarded as of a very superior quality; as well as the tool-work of Bradley R. Mowry, at the Middle Bridge.
FOSSETTS' Mills. The most extensive mill esta. blishment was the Fossetts', at North Union. completed in December, 1848, at an expense of about $10,000. Under one roof were a saw-mill, a gristmill with “ three run of stones,” besides a corn-cracker, stave-machine, shingle-machine, lath-machine, threshing-machine, cleanser, and bolt, — all carried by steam. They were destroyed by fire, June 21, 1850.
TRADE. STORES. — Brotherton Daggett says, that, though there had been a store on St. George's River, there was not any
when he came in 1789. Edward Jones, near the Lower Bridge, afterward kept a few articles, which were mostly bartered for ashes. It was the largest collection which had been brought to Union for sale. In 1801, Ebenezer Alden sold goods at his dwellinghouse. He put up a frame near his potash, and boarded it. John Little bought it, moved it to the Common, clapboarded it, and finished the interior in 1802, and furnished it. The building is now occupied as a store by Asa Messer and Israel Hills, the second story having been added. Ebenezer Alden and Na. thaniel Robbins formed a partnership in the fall of 1803. Afterward came Mallard and Chase; and subsequently, from Spencer, Mass. came Charles Pope and William Pope. Major Robert Foster, upon moving into town from Newburyport or the vicinity, during the war of 1812, opened a store at South Union, on the place now owned by Joseph Vaughan. It was the only store in town at the time. Not long afterwards, Alden and Robbins had separate stores. There have been several others since that time, some in the remote parts of the town. In 1840 there were six, in 1843 there were eight, and in 1849 twelve stores. Barter is carried on extensively by the storekeepers. The inhabitants sell to them produce; and much more business is done than is common in country towns which are not larger. As Thomaston and Rockland are extensively engaged in making lime, the farmers find there a good market for every thing which they raise, though not unfrequently the agricultural produce and the meat are carried to Belfast; and the storekeepers sell butter, cheese, &c. at Boston.
CARTING GOODS TO Boston. During the war of 1812, when the British had possession of all the United States territory east of Penobscot River, many goods were carted from Hampden and Frankfort to Boston by residents in Warren and the vicinity. Isaac Hills and John Burkett, of Union, engaged in this business in 1814 and 1815. One load, previously contracted for, was carried from Union to Boston, after the arrival of the news of peace. Duties were high. А man on the British side of the Penobscot, according to an agreement previously made, sent goods to another on the American side. A third person seized them as smuggled property, and had them prized. The
person to whom they were sent then gave bonds for the whole amount for which they were prized, sent them to Boston, and paid the bonds, the amount of which was less than the duties would have been. The journey to and from Boston required about two months, and travelling fifteen miles was considered a good day's work. A load generally contained two and a half tons. It was drawn by six oxen, for eighty dollars a ton, in wagons covered with boards.
Canals. - To facilitate trade, an Act was passed March 9, 1793, authorizing Charles Barrett, within six