Our Business Pioneers – 1916

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | September 1, 2019

The Boston Globe ran a biographical series – Our Business Pioneers – on New England businessmen of note. Here are extracted some 1916 biographies of those whose industrial accomplishment or life story had some Milton component or chapter. (That portion of their story has been bolded).

These biographic sketches identify some short-term Milton residents whose activities and influence might otherwise be overlooked, due to their brief tenure, or the timing of their activities here having fallen between census enumerations, or other reasons.

They include a blacksmith’s apprentice of circa 1828-30, a Milton storekeeper of circa 1835-37, and a Townsend mill machine shop foreman of circa 1851-58. Also included is the Somersworth rail superintendent that pushed the Portsmouth, Great Falls & Conway railroad past South Milton [Hayes Station] on through to North Conway, circa 1853-73.

Cocheco Manufacturing Company executive Zimri S. Wallingford was born in Milton and he “began” to learn the blacksmith’s trade here, circa 1828-30, before departing for other fields of endeavor.

Wallingford, Zimri S. - BG160620
Zimri S. Wallingford

OUR BUSINESS PIONEERS. Men Who Built Up Industrial New England. ZIMRI SCATES WALLINGFORD, ACTIVE AGENT OF THE COCHECO MANUFACTURING COMPANY AT DOVER, N.H. Born at Milton, N.H., Oct 1, 1816. A certain Nicholas Wallington came to Boston in 1638 by the ship Confidence from London. He settled at Newbury, Mass., where he married in 1661, and had eight children. On a sea voyage he was captured and was never returned; his estate was settled In 1684 and at this time the surname was changed to Wallingford. The Wallingford family became a representative one in New Hampshire. Zimri’s father was Samuel Wallingford and when he died, in 1825, he left a widow with four children of whom Zimri, the eldest, was nine years of age. At 12 years he began to learn the trade of blacksmith, but this did not appeal to him as a business, so he entered the machine shops of the Great Falls Manufacturing Company at Great Falls, N.H., and after serving an apprenticeship went to work at Maryland, and Philadelphia. In 1844 he was employed as master machine builder in the Cocheco Manufacturing Company at Dover, N.H, where he remained for five years, and was then made superintendent of the company. In 1860 he was appointed agent of the company. Mr. Wallingford in a few years had raised the standard of the goods manufactured and had opened new and greater markets for selling them. During his many years as agent the company never suffered any depression from a panic or any money troubles. He had all his life deplored the fact that slavery existed in the United States and he was among the first of those who agitated emancipation. He was a warm personal friend of Garrison, Phillips, Parker and Douglas. He became one of the eager workers for emancipation and gave liberally to aid the cause. Mr. Wallingford was beloved by his workmen and took up their cause when a Southern Senator at Washington said in a speech that the Northern mechanic and laborers “stood upon a level with Southern slaves.” A meeting of mechanics was called at Dover and Mr. Wallingford presided. Resolutions were passed expressing the feelings of the meeting against this Southern speech, and when these were published the Senator wrote through a New York paper and asked Mr. Wallingford 10 questions. It was intended to show the disadvantages of our system of free labor, and the reply, also through the press, was a triumphant vindication of the workingmen of the Nation. Mr. Wallingford always refused to accept public. office. He was, however, a director in the Dover & Winnipesaukee Railroad, was president of the Strafford County Savings Bank and a director of the Strafford National Bank (Boston Globe, June 20, 1916).

Zimri S. Wallingford died in Dover, NH, May 28, 1886, aged seventy-nine years.

Sandpaper manufacturer William Shepard Stevens kept a country store at Milton, NH, circa 1835-37, in partnership with James Berry.

Stevens, William S. - BG161124
William S. Stevens

OUR BUSINESS PIONEERS. Men Who Built Up Industrial New England. WILLIAM SHEPARD STEVENS. A SUCCESSFUL GLUE AND SANDPAPER MAKER. Born at Canterbury, N.H., June 21, 1816. William Shepard Stevens went Concord, N.H., to serve as a clerk In the store of Andrew Capen when he had finished attending the public schools at Canterbury. After a year he went to study at the academies of Gilmanton, Pembroke and Hampton, and while at the latter place was asked to teach at Kingston, N.H. Three teachers had been appointed to the Kingston School, and the disorderly students had driven each one of them away. Mr. Stevens was appointed and he taught the Winter term with satisfactory results. He had decided to enter business, so he went home to Canterbury, formed a partnership with John Bryant, and under the firm name of Bryant & Stevens they began to manufacture platform scales. For seven years the business was carried on, and much of the time Mr. Stevens traveled about the country and took orders for the scales, going all through New England and into the British provinces. He then dissolved partnership with Mr. Bryant, formed another with James Berry, and opened a country store at Milton, N.H, where he remained only two years. Then he went to Ossipee, N.H., and for 10 years kept a country store without a partner. Then in 1848 he went to Dover, N.H., took Asa Jewett as a partner in a country store. At the end of two years he bought out his partner and ran the business alone. Then he became absorbed with the idea of settling in the West, and made a long journey for the purpose of finding a suitable place to locate. His wife’s ill health broke up his Western plan and he returned to Dover. Here he was joined by Benjamin Wiggin and together they manufactured glue. They worked together till Mr. Wiggin died, in 1863, and then the son, Russell B. Wiggin, entered the firm. About this time the firm began to manufacture sandpaper. New works were built for this additional business. Ten years later these works were destroyed by fire and the firm rebuilt at Malden, Mass., making the works up to date. Russell Wiggin died In 1886 and Mr. Stevens and his son bought out the Wiggin Interests. Later they built a new factory for glue at Malden, but continued to manufacture at the old works at Dover. The Malden sandpaper works turned out flint, garnet and emery papers. Both of the glue factories produced material for making sandpaper. The firm had quarries in Maine and Massachusetts where they secured the flint for the paper. The Stevens plant was one of the largest of its kind in the country and the goods were used, not only all over the United States, but also in several foreign countries. He found time to be elected to the New Hampshire Legislature, and served with credit as Mayor of Dover. He was a director of the Strafford Bank, and when it was reorganized as the National Bank he was made president. He was for 40 years a trustee of the Strafford Savings Bank, he was for many years a director of the Boston & Maine Railroad (Boston Globe, November 24, 1916).

William S. Stevens died in Dover, NH, April 15, 1897, aged eighty years.

Newspaper machine inventor Samuel C. Forsaith was “given charge” of the machine repair shop of John Townsend’s Milton Cotton Mill, between 1851 and 1858. (See Milton in 1857 and Milton in 1859).

Forsaith, Samuel C. - BG161121
Samuel C. Forsaith

OUR BUSINESS PIONEERS. Men Who Built Up Industrial New England. SAMUEL CALDWELL FORSAITH, WHO INVENTED A MACHINE FOR FOLDING NEWSPAPERS. Born in Goffstown, N.H., Sept. 29, 1827. Samuel Caldwell Forsaith was the son of a farmer, and  during his youth he worked with his father and attended the district school in Goffstown. Even as a young boy he showed that he had strong inventive genius. There was no machinery he saw that he could not understand,. and when he was but 11 years old be built a miniature sawmill on the bank of the river near his home, and put it in perfect running order. The model was complete in all its appointments. When he was 17 years old Manchester was then a town of 5000 inhabitants, the Amoskeag Mill was busy, and young Forsaith entered the machine shop of this mill as an apprentice. He learned rapidly, finished his time and his first place of employment was in the Stark Mill. In 1850 he went to Milton, N.H, where he found a place in the machine repair shop that was connected with the Milton Cotton Mill. He was given charge of the shop and remained there for eight years. Mr. Forsaith had made a good record and the Saco Water Power Machine Company, in Maine, was looking for foreman. For two year he demonstrated to himself and the mill owners that he thoroughly understood his business, and then felt that the time had come for him to establish a business of his own He was able to hire a room in the shop of the Manchester Scale Works, and he began in the simplest way, for he had very little money. In the first year his business became so well established that he hired a larger shop. Watching always for some practical invention to make, Mr. Forsaith noted that a machine had been built for folding newspapers and a patent had been secured, but the machine was of no real service as the owners were unable to work it. Forsaith studied the machine, saw where it could he perfected, and made the machine for sale. The newspapers all over the country adopted it. While he was working on this invention he built circular saw mills, shafting, mill gearings, water wheels and various other useful works. In 1863 his business was so large that he took a lease of the entire scale works. In 1867 he had to build a new shop that became the main building of what was one of the largest manufacturing industries in New Hampshire. In 1884 it was decided to reorganize the business as a stock company. During the years Mr. Forsaith lived at Manchester he had seen the city grow to be one of the financial centers of New England, and he had taken an active part in  the affairs of the city (Boston Globe, November 21, 1916).

Samuel C. Forsaith died in Philadelphia, PA, March 23, 1885, aged fifty-seven years.

Railroad executive Albert A. Perkins supervised construction of the Portsmouth, Great Falls & Conway railroad from where it had stalled at South Milton [Hayes Station] through to North Conway, over a twenty-year period beginning in 1853.

Perkins, Alonzo A - BG161123
Albert A. Perkins

OUR BUSINESS PIONEERS. Men Who Built Up Industrial New England. ALBERT AI.ONZO PERKINS, WHO WAS ACTIVE IN BUILDING THE RAILROAD FROM GREAT FALLS TO CONWAY, N.H. Born at Ossipee, N.H, March 6, 1826. Albert Alonzo Perkins’ father belonged to one of the earliest English families that came to settle at Wells, Me, and later he removed to the New Hampshire village of Ossipee. After attending the Ossipee schools Albert went to the academies of Effingham and Wakefield, and began to consider going West to gain advantages in the rapid development of the new States. Before he had absolutely settled upon this there was a chance to buy a country store in his village. So he gave up his Western ideas, bought this store and settled down as a New England merchant. He did well for five years, but he longed for a wider opportunity to take a more important position in public affairs. He was particularly interested in the railroads of the State and often talked about the Great Falls & Conway Railroad with one of the directors, who lived at Ossipee. One day when this man was at his store he spoke of the great difficulty the road had in finding an efficient treasurer. Mr. Perkins said laughingly: “If you cannot find any one else to take the place, I will take it.” A few days later the director called upon Mr. Perkins to notify him that he had been elected to fill the office. Mr Perkins sold his store and removed to Somersworth, N.H., where the offices of the road were situated. The railroad at that time extended from the village of Great Falls in Somersworth to South Milton, N.H., only 12 miles. The capital stock was $100,000, and $100,000 of mortgage bonds had been issued. Under Mr. Perkins’ management of financial affairs a second $100,000 of bonds were issued, and shortly after $75,000 of third mortgage bonds. There was soon trouble, for the holders of the third mortgage bonds tried to operate the road to the exclusion of the stockholders. While the affairs of the road were in this unsettled condition, in 1853, Mr. Perkins was appointed superintendent. When he saw the old stage coaches start from Great Falls to Concord, Mr. Perkins felt renewed courage and hope that the road would soon be built over the route outlined. He personally looked after the preliminary surveys, settled the land damages, graded the roadbed, laid the rails and worked for 20 years till the road was extended from South Milton to North Conway and from Great Falls to Conway Junction, with a branch line from Wakefield to Wolfboro. When Mr. Perkins resigned in 1873 the road was connected with the Eastern Railroad and with the Portland & Ogdensburg. He had accomplished what he considered the duty of his life, but his work had been too severe and his health failed. Three years were devoted to building up his strength; he spent his Winters in Florida and the Summers in various resorts of the North. He regained his health, and in 1876 was elected treasurer of the Somersworth Savings Bank and also president of the Great Falls National Bank. He served in the General Court of New Hampshire and was active in the municipal affairs of Somersworth (Boston Globe, November 23, 1916).

Albert A. Perkins died in Somersworth, NH, March 5, 1898, aged seventy-two years.


Find a Grave. (2013, October 3). Albert Alonzo Perkins. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/118093133/albert-alonzo-perkins

Find a Grave. (2013, November 17). Samuel Caldwell Forsaith. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/120452098/samuel-caldwell-forsaith

Find a Grave. (2016, May 24). William Shepard Stevens. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/163162202/william-shepard-stevens

Find a Grave. (2015, July 19). Zimri Scates Wallingford. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/149504393

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

One thought on “Our Business Pioneers – 1916”

  1. Another piece of NH history. How sandpaper was made and how inventive these men were. Many years ago I went to work for Carborundum located in Rochester, NY selling sandpaper which I knew little about. Much to my dismay of the 3M salesman I loved being one of the first salespersons in the Los Angeles area. I have never heard about this history keep writing I will keep reading.


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