Milton Mills Mfg. Co. & the Waumbeck Companies – 1837-98

By Muriel Bristol | July 19, 2020

The Milton Mills Manufacturing Company (1837-1864) was incorporated in 1837, and established itself as a lathe and wood-turning mill (that replaced an original woolen mill).

Gilman Jewett, Nathaniel Jewett, Asa Jewett and a Mr. Wedgewood transformed the old woolen mill into a lathe and turning mill about sixty-five or seventy years [1838-43] ago, after which it was operated more or less irregularly up to the year 1847 [1845] (Mitchell-Cony, 1908).

English immigrant John Townsend took over their mill in or around 1845 and used it to manufacture woolen flannel. It continued in this line of business, through several owners, until it burned down in 1898. Its site is now the Waumbeck Park in Milton Mills.

Milton Mills Manufacturing Company – Gilman Jewett (1777-1856) – 1837-4?

Gilman Jewett was born in Milton, January 18, 1777, son of Paul and Elizabeth (Gilman) Jewett.

He married (1st) in Exeter, NH, September 10, 1798, Sally Mead, he of Rochester, NH, and she of Newmarket, NH. She was born in Newmarket, NH, September 16, 1775, daughter of Stephen and Lucy (Wright) Mead. She died circa 1817. Her children were Sarah D., Eliza, Paul, and Asa Jewett.

He married (2nd) in Milton, circa 1820, Ann S. Nutter. She was born in Newington, NH, in December 1790, daughter of Hatevil and Susanna (Shackford) Nutter. (Note her father’s male Puritan “virtue” name: “Hate-Evil.” It is of a kind with more familiar female ones, such as Constance, Faith, Hope, Charity, Chastity, Prudence, etc.).

Gilman Jewett was one of nine named incorporators of the Milton Social Library in June 1822.

The NH legislature granted Gilman Jewett and his associates incorporation as the Milton Mills Manufacturing Company in January 1837. They transformed an old woolen mill to a lathe and turning mill in 1837-38.

The Milton Mills Manufacturing Company was organized in 1837, and in that and the following year built their mill, and after running it a few years transferred the business to Durgin & Co. (Scales, 1914).

President Zachary Taylor’s administration appointed Gilman Jewett as Milton Mills postmaster, April 30, 1849. Such appointments were political sinecures in those days, from which one might infer that Jewett was a Whig, as was Taylor. Gilman Jewett succeeded James Berry in that position. Berry’s tenure coincided with the presidency of Democrat James K. Polk.

Gilman Jewett, a postmaster, aged seventy-three years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Seventh (1850) Federal Census. His household included Ann S. Jewett, aged fifty-nine years (b. NH), Joseph Sharp, a manufacturer, aged forty years (b. England), Hannah Sharp, aged twenty-five years (b. England), Benjamin Sharp, a manufacturer, aged twenty-five years (b. England), Susan A. Hubbard, aged sixteen years (b. ME), Susan S. Nutter, aged forty-six years (b. NH), John McDonald, a tailor, aged thirty-five years (b. Scotland), and Joseph Robinson, a manufacturer, aged thirty-six years (b. England). Gilman Jewett had real estate valued at $2,000. Jewett’s household appeared next to that of John Townsend, agent for the Milton Mills Manufacturing Co., aged forty-three years (b. England).

Gilman Jewett died in Milton, May 24, 1856. Ann S. (Nutter) Jewett died in Milton, November 28, 1870.

Milton Mills Manufacturing Company – Durgin & Co. – 184?-45

Gilman Jewett and his associates sold Milton Mills Manufacturing Company to Durgin & Co., who remain as yet a bit elusive. They seem to have been in the wood business, rather than the wool business. Durgin & Co. sold to John Townsend.

Milton Mills Manufacturing Company – John Townsend (1807-1891) – 1845-64

In 1845-46 the whole property was bought by John Townsend and was run successfully by him for several [nineteen] years (Scales, 1914).

John Townsend was born in Wilton, Wiltshire, England, October 22, 1807, son of Joseph and Sarah “Sally” (Palmer) Townsend, and was baptized there January 8, 1808.

He married (1st) in Dorchester, MA, January 14, 1834, Jane Matilda “Matilda” Townsend, both of Dorchester. Rev. David Sandford performed the ceremony. She was born in Wilton, Wiltshire, England, September 18, 1815, daughter of Thomas B. and Jane (Randall) Townsend, She died in Dorchester, MA, December 24, 1843.

John Townsend “hired” a colored flannel factory in Gilsum, NH, in 1838, and produced flannel there until 1845. George Learoyd and Thomas Townsend bought it then and produced flannel there until 1847 (Hayward, 1881). George Learoyd (1805-1887) was the brother-in-law, and Charles T. “Thomas” Townsend (1810-1881) was the brother, of John Townsend.

John Townsend married (2nd) in Boston, MA, April 22, 1844, Eliza A. Townsend (sister of the first wife). She was born in Milton, MA, April 8, 1823, daughter of Thomas B. and Jane (Randall) Townsend. She died in Needham, MA, September 19, 1896.

John Townsend, the grandfather, was born in England and came to the United States in 1819, and to Milton Mills, N.H., about 1845. He purchased the plant of the Milton Manufacturing Company and continued it, carrying on woolen manufacturing under the name of John Townsend (Scales, 1914).

The Milton Mills company of Milton, NH, having John Townsend as its president, appeared in the New England Mercantile Union trade directory of 1849. It produced 235,000 yards of flannel annually, from 42 tons of material. It had 1,000 spindles, 18 looms, and employed fifteen male and sixteen female workers (Pratt, 1849).

Several of John Townsend’s brothers worked with him. An elder brother, William B. Townsend, died in Milton Mills village, November 23, 1847, aged forty-four years. A younger brother, Joseph Townsend, married in Milton, January 6, 1850, Ruth Paul Wentworth, he of Milton and she of Acton, ME.

John Townsend, agent for Milton Mills Manufacturing Co., aged forty-three years (b. England), headed a Milton household at the time of the Seventh (1850) Federal Census. His household included Eliza A. Townsend, aged twenty-nine years (b. MA), Jane R. Townsend, aged fourteen years (b. MA), Henry Townsend, aged eight years (b. MA), Emma Townsend, aged four years (b. NH), and William B. Townsend, aged one month (b. NH). They shared a two-family dwelling with the household of Michael Folley, a manufacturer, aged thirty years (b. Ireland). Folley’s household included Margaret Folley, aged twenty-eight years (b. Ireland), and Betsy Dore, aged fifty years (b. NH). Neither household had any real estate. Their neighbor was Gilman Jewett, postmaster, aged seventy-three years (b. NH); he had real estate valued at $2,000.

English immigrant Joseph Robinson (1812-1895) was Townsend’s mill superintendent and dyer in the early 1850s. (See Milton in the News – 1895). He resided with Gilman Jewett in 1850 (see Jewett above).

Milton Mills – John Townsend proprietor; capital, $50,000; manufacture flannels; have 18 looms and 1200 spindles. Amount manufactured per annum, $90,000; Do. stock used per annum, 120,000 pounds wool; Number of operatives, 35 (Charlton, 1857).

John Townsend, a woolen manufacturer, aged fifty-two years (b. NH), headed a Milton (“Milton Mills”) household at the time of the Eighth (1860) Federal Census. His household included Eliza A. Townsend, aged thirty-seven years (b. NH), Jane R. Townsend, aged twenty-four years (b. NH), Caroline F. Townsend, aged twenty years (b. NH), Henry H. Townsend, aged seventeen years (b. NH), Ermina M. Townsend, aged fourteen years (b. NH), Willie B. Townsend, aged ten years (b. NH), and Frank A. Townsend, aged five years (b. NH). John Townsend had real estate valued at $2,000 and personal estate valued at $8,000. His neighbor was [his younger brother,] Joseph Townsend, a woolen manufacturer, aged thirty-seven years (b. England).

Mr. Townsend was a wonderfully astute buyer, and manufacturer, and one who understood the art of selling the manufactured goods. As a result he was very successful (Mitchell-Cony, 1908).

John Townsend succeeded John L. Swinerton as Milton Mills postmaster, June 22, 1860. He received his appointment during the administration of Democrat President James Buchanan, which might suggest that he was a Democrat too. He was, in turn, replaced by Henry S. Swasey, April 12, 1861, during the administration of Republican President Abraham Lincoln.

Destruction of a Flannel Factory. Great Falls, N.H., Oct. 19. The flannel factory of John Townsend, at Milton Mills, N.H., was burnt this morning. The loss is estimated at $30,000, on which there is a partial insurance. The factory was running on a government contract for army flannels (Baltimore Sun, October 22, 1861).

Miscellaneous Items. The flannel factory belonging to John Townsend. at Milton Mills, N.H., was burnt Saturday morning, at about 2 o’clock. Loss about $30,000; partially insured. The mill was running on a government contract (New England Farmer, October 26, 1861).

John Townsend rebuilt in the same location a larger plant to replace that which had burned.

In June 1863, he opened a much larger factory which replaced the mill that had been burned, and after continuing the manufacture of flannels for some time, sold the mill to Mudge, Sawyer & Co., of Boston, Mass. (Mitchell-Cony, 1908).

John Townsend appeared in the Vulpes Letter of 1864, as having the best woolen mill in New England, which was then running “full blast.”

The Milton Mills Co., manufacturers, paid $10 for their Class B license in the US Excise Tax of May 1864. (A $10 gold eagle would have today the gold value (as opposed to numismatic value) of about $900 in Federal Reserve notes).

John Townsend sold the newly rebuilt mill to E.R. Mudge, Sawyer & Co., of Boston and New York, in or before May 1864.

ORIGINAL AND SELECTED. The new woolen mill at Milton Mills, belonging to John Townsend, Esq., has been sold to a Boston company (Portland Daily Press, May 12, 1864).

John Townsend, a merchant, aged fifty-five years (b. England), headed a Brookline, MA, household at the time of the Second (1865) Massachusetts State Census. His household included his wife, Eliza Townsend, aged forty-two years (b. Milton, ME), Jane R. Townsend, aged twenty-nine years (b. Dorchester), Caroline L. Townsend, aged twenty-five years (b. Dorchester), Henry H. Townsend, a clerk, aged twenty-two years (b. Dorchester), Emma M. Townsend, aged nineteen years (b. Milton, N.H.), William B. Townsend, aged fourteen years (b. Milton, N.H.), Frank A. Townsend, aged ten years (b. Milton, N.H.), and Flora G. Townsend, aged two years (b. Milton, N.H.), and [his servant,] Mary Welsh, aged twenty years (b. Ireland).

John Townsend was a principal owner and treasurer of the Littleton Woolen Company of Littleton, NH, between 1867 and 1869.

This year also marks the beginning of a change in the life of the town [of Littleton, NH]. The woollen mill and the scythe factory were for many years the only industries that did not have their origin in the soil. In 1867 E.J.M. Hale sold the woollen mill to a corporation that had been organized under the title of The Littleton Woollen Company with a capital of $200,000. In this company Mr. Hale, John Townsend, Jordan, Marsh & Co, and the firm of Leland, Allen & Bates, were the principals. All but the first named were of Boston, and Joseph L. Whittaker was the only resident of the town who held any of the stock. John Townsend was treasurer, and Leland, Allen & Bates selling agents, while Henry H. Townsend, a son of the treasurer, became superintendent. In 1869 Jordan, Marsh & Co. purchased controlling interest and Capt. William H. Stevens became and agent (Jackson, 1905).

A post-war recession in the woolen blanket market – the Federal army no longer buying blankets in tens of thousands at inflated wartime prices – occasioned a necessary and obvious return to Littleton’s peacetime wage structure, the only alternative being a suspension of production.

LITTLETON. The workmen and women in the Littleton woolen mills have refused to work for 15 per cent reduction of their wages, and the mills are stopped until spring (St. Johnsbury Caledonian, December 13, 1867).

The Littleton Woolen Company mill was damaged by a “freshet,” i.e., rapid flooding through sudden melting of snowpack, in Spring 1869. (This sometimes take the form of a sudden and destructive rush of water released through collapse of a natural ice dam). The mill was still coping with the damage in the Fall.

HANOVER. The damages by the freshet to the Littleton Woolen Mill are nearly repaired (Vermont Journal, November 20, 1869).

John Townsend, a wool merchant, aged sixty-two years (b. England), headed a Brookline, MA, household at the time of the Ninth (1870) Federal Census. His household included Eliza A. Townsend, keeps house, aged forty-seven years (b. MA), Emma Townsend, at home, aged twenty-three years (b. NH), William B. Townsend, a dry goods store boy, aged twenty years (b. NH), Frank A. Townsend, at school, aged fourteen years (b. NH), and Flora A. Townsend, at school, aged six years (b. NH). John Townsend had real estate valued at $15,000 and personal estate valued at $100,000.

(John Townsend’s son, Henry H. Townsend, established his own woolen mill at Milton Mills, entirely separate from the prior one, in 1872).

John Townsend of Brookline, MA, donated the bell for the Milton Mills school-house (now the Milton Mills Free Public Library).

MILTONM.V.B. Cook. During the past year an excellent wooden school-house has been erected in district No. 7 situated in the thriving village of Milton Mills. The main building is 40×40 ft., one and a half stories high, with French roof, and basement; also, tower in front, 10×12 ft. It contains two school-rooms, four ante-rooms, and a library, and is finished with western pine and black walnut. The furniture is of the latest improvements. The entire cost exceeds $6,000, besides some valuable presents, – among which was a bell, presented by Hon. John Townsend, of Brookline, Mass. The dedication consisted of music and an address by Rev. Geo. Michael (NH Board of Education, 1876).

John Townsend, a wool merchant, aged seventy-two years (b. England), headed a Brookline, MA, household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Eliza A. Townsend, keeping house, aged fifty-seven years (b. MA), his children, Frank A. Townsend, at home, aged twenty-four years (b. NH), and Flora F. Townsend, aged sixteen years (b. NH), and his servant, Jennie Farquhar, a servant, aged twenty-five years (b. Nova Scotia). Daughter Flora G. Townsend was sick with “consumption,” i.e., tuberculosis.

John Townsend and his wife, Eliza A. Townsend, of Brookline, MA, and their son, Frank A. Townsend, also of Brookline, MA, were among the guests at the Kearsarge House hotel in North Conway, NH, in July 1884.

NEAR THE ZENITH. The Summer Season at Hillside and Seashore. … There is much that is fascinating to the lover of nature along the banks of the Saco, and year in and year out the pleasure-seeker comes here to spend the summer months. The drives about North Conway, as well as its scenery, are attractive, and of them none is more delightful than the one to Conway, going and returning by different routes. In point of numbers, North Conway is not ahead in guests of previous years, but it is having at least an average season, so far as the present month is concerned. August is always the big month of the year, when Boston comes up to have a holiday season among the White hills. The new proprietors of the Kearsarge House are building for themselves a reputation. The house is much better kept than formerly, and in time the reward for well-doing will come. Among the present guests are the following: Mrs. C.B. Sawyer. Boston; P.G. Peabody and family, New York; John Townsend and wife, Brookline; F.A. Townsend, Brookline; Mrs. S.M. Eldridge, Boston; Mrs. S.A. Caldwell. Philadelphia; Mr. and Mrs. Albert Currier, Miss S.N. Hills, Newburyport; J.F. Harvey and wife, Chelsea; J.M. Kupler, Boston; Mrs. D.N. Stanton and family, New York; C.W. Abbott, Wolfboro; Horace Hunt and family, Boston; Miss Florence Wyman, Mrs. John C. Lee, Miss Harriet Lee, Miss H. Silsbee, Miss J.P. Phillips, Miss G. Phillips, Salem; J.J. Fitzgerald, Mrs. Ally Freeman, Boston; William R. Wood and family, Portland; Rev. Melville Boyd and family, Mrs. Thomas Waller, W.R. Deming, Miss Miller, Brooklyn; Mr. and Mrs. Charles G. Coe. Mrs. J.B. Barr, New York; George T. Coolidge. Boston; Mrs. R.E. Radway and two Misses Radway, New York; Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Fearing, Newton; Charles B. Train and family, Esther R. Stratton, Boston: Dr. J.F. Frisbie and family, Newton; Judge Nathan Webb and family, Portland; Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Dodge, Boston; George E. Hughes and wife, Bath, Me. (Boston Globe, July 27, 1884).

John Townsend of Brookline, MA, woolen manufacturer, made out his last will and testament on November 1, 1890.

John Townsend died in Brookline, MA, May 21, 1891 aged eighty-three years, seven months. Eliza A. (Townsend) Townsend died in Needham, MA, September 19, 1896.

Six Bequests to Charity. DEDHAM, Jan. 27 – The will of Mrs. Eliza A. Townsend, late of Brookline, filed in the Norfolk registry this afternoon, contains the following public bequests: Free Will Baptist church of Acton, Me., $2000; the Consumptives home, Boston highlands, $1000: the home for Little Wanderers, Boston, $1000; the Old Ladies’ home in Boston, $1000, and the blind asylum in South Boston, $1000. The will was executed Aug 25, 1886, and the testatrix’s son, Frank A. Townsend, is named as its executor (Boston Globe, January 28, 1897).

Milton Mills Manufacturing Company – Mudge, Sawyer & Company – 1864-1870

It was soon after sold to Mudge, Sawyer & Co., and [later] to the Waumbeck Company, and has continued to do a very successful business (Scales, 1914).

MP660406 - Mudge Sawyer
Mudge, Sawyer & Co. Advertisement, 1866 (Memphis Daily Post, April 6, 1866).

E.R. Mudge and Joseph Sawyer formed their partnership in 1862. They were commission agents for a number of textile and yarn mills, including the Washington Mills, the Burlington Woolen Company, the Chicopee Manufacturing Company, the Ellerton New Mills, Milton Mills, and Victory Manufacturing Company. They first advertised their association with Milton Mills in April 1866.

Enoch Redington Mudge was born in Orrington, ME, March 22, 1812, son of Rev. Enoch R. and Jerusha H. (Hinckley) Mudge.

He married in Portland, ME, April 20, 1832, Caroline A. Patten. She was born in Kennebunkport, ME, August 6, 1811, daughter of John and Olive (Lassell) Patten.

Erastus [Enoch] R. Mudge, agent manager – company, aged fifty-eight years (b. ME), headed a Swampscott, MA, household at the time of the Ninth (1870) Federal Census. His household included Caroline A. [(Patten)] Mudge, aged fifty-eight years (NH), Caroline E. Mudge, aged nineteen years (MA), Henry S. Mudge, aged seventeen years (b. ME), Sarah Townsend, a seamstress, aged thirty-nine years (b. New Brunswick), Agnes Goodwin, domestic service, aged thirty-seven years (b. CA), Tessie James, domestic service, aged thirty-two years (b. LA), and Daniel Buns, a coachman, aged thirty-one years (b. Ireland). Erastus R. Mudge had real estate valued at $250,000 and personal estate valued at $400,000. Caroline A. Mudge had real estate valued at $80,000.

E. Redington Mudge died in Lynn, MA, October 1, 1881. Caroline A. (Patten) Mudge died in Swampscott, MA, January 9, 1882.

Mudge, ER
E. Redington Mudge

Death of Hon. E.R. Mudge. Special Despatch to The Boston Globe. Swampscott, October 1. Hon. E. Redington Mudge of Swampscott died at his home, at 11.20 a.m., from congestion of the brain. He was about 70 years of age and leaves two adult children. The deceased was born in Lynn in 1812. His father was a prominent Methodist minister of that place. During the war be was proprietor of the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. Subsequently he came to Boston and engaged in the dry goods trade at 15 Chauncy street, under the firm name of Mudge, Sawver & Co. He served two years in the State Senate, but aside from this was not much interested in politics. Some time ago he gave $200,000 to an Episcopal parish of Lynn for the erection of a memorial church in memory of his two deceased children, Mrs. Van Brunt and Lieutenant-Colonel C.R. Mudge, who was killed [at Gettysburg] in the war. He leaves a wife, an invalid, who some time ago had an apoplectic shock, from which she is still suffering. Mr. Mudge was a man of great wealth (Boston Globe, October 1, 1881).

Mudge’s partner was Joseph Sawyer. He was born in Boston, MA, September 22, 1823, son of William and Ellen (White) Sawyer.

He married in Boston, MA, June 10, 1847, Anne M. Dillaway, he of Chelsea, MA, and she of Boston. She was born in Boston, MA, April 3, 1823, daughter of William and Susan (Bassett) Dillaway.

In 1888, Joseph Sawyer paid $1,399 in property taxes in Boston, MA, at a rate of $13.40 per $1,000, i.e., he had property valued at $104,403. He was one of only 20,000 New Englanders that paid $100 or more (Luce, 1888).

Joseph Sawyer died in Boston, MA, May 27, 1901, aged seventy-seven years. Anne M. (Dillaway) Sawyer died in Brookline, MA, December 25, 1905.

DEATH OF JOSEPH SAWYER. One of Most Prominent Merchants of the Old School and Well-Known Philanthropist. In the death of Joseph Sawyer, Boston loses one of her most prominent merchants of the old school. philanthropy one of its most generous and deserving benefactors, and religion a most conscientious and ardent supporter. Mr. Sawyers giving was never of the obstrusive kind, and yet no worthy cause was presented to him in vain. The amount of his contributions was never heralded by himself, but those who knew him best estimate them at more than $500,000. His assistance to objects which commended themselves to his judgment was never niggardly, and he was accustomed to carefully weigh every claim presented. Particularly did he enter into the spirit of the Salvation Army work, and his voice, his presence and his purse were ever ready when needed, while the workers found a hearty welcome at his home from both Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer. In fact, no suppliant was too obscure, and no cause too humble to claim his attention and sympathy. Mr. Sawyer was a member of the Warren-av. Baptist church, a prominent supporter, and active participator in all its interests. He was also closely affiliated with various charitable organizations, and his advice was frequently sought and always welcome. In private, too, his counsel was often solicited and given, whether in business troubles, social relations or personal grievances, and in all these it was considered invaluable. Mr. Sawyer was the oldest of 11 children, and was born 77 years ago. His father was a mariner, plying his vocation between America and Liverpool, where he met and married his wife. He came of English stock, his ancestor, James Sawyer, having settled in Ipswich about 1630. Joseph received his education in the Eliot school, which he left at the age of 14 to enter the employ of Josiah Stetson on Hanover st., then the headquarters of the retail dry goods business. In 1849, Mr. Sawyer was admitted to partnership in the woolen and jobbing business of Wilkinson, Stetson & Co., from which he retired in 1862, when he became a member of the firm of E.R. Mudge, Sawyer Co., to carry on the sale of textile fabrics. This concern, with that of Wilkinson, Stetson & Co., purchased the Burlington woolen mills of Winooski. Vt., the largest in the state, and in 1869, Mr. Sawyer became treasurer, and in 1882 its president. The firm was dissolved on the death of Mr. Mudge, and Mr. Sawyer retired from active business, although he afterward assisted in the formation of the firm of Sawyer & Manning, for the purpose of placing his son, Joseph D. Sawyer, in the business in which his father had succeeded. Mr. Sawyer was married in this city in 1847 to Miss Anna Maria, daughter of William Dillaway, who survives him with three sons and two daughters. The family home was at 31 Commonwealth av. Mr. Sawyer’s health began to cause anxiety about three weeks ago, but last Friday he was able to take a walk to the Public Garden. He was confined to his room on Sunday and his health failed rapidly from that time, until death came yesterday afternoon. The funeral will be held on Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock, at the Warren-av. Baptist church (Boston Globe, May 28, 1901).

Milton Manufacturing Company appeared in the Milton directories of 1867-68 and 1869-70. E.R. Mudge & Co. was its owner, and George H. Jones was its agent.

Mudge, Sawyer & Co.’s Boston facility was seriously damaged by an attic fire in April 1869. This circumstance might be compared with that suffered by Lewis W. Nute, and a large part of downtown Boston, in the Great Boston Fire of 1872. There too goods stored in the attics fed the fire.

DESTRUCTIVE FIRES. In this city, store No. 57 Summer Street, occupied by Mudge, Sawyer & Co., was damaged by fire in the attic some $4000 or $5000, and the goods to a larger amount (New England Farmer (Boston, MA), April 24, 1869).

George H. Jones, a farmer, aged forty-four years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Ninth (1870) Federal Census. His household included Lucy J. Jones, keeping house, aged forty-three years (b. NH), Addie V. Jones, aged twenty-two years (b. NH), Charles A. Jones, a farm laborer, aged eighteen years (b. NH), Ira W. Jones, a farm laborer, aged sixteen years (b. NH), and Nettie J. Jones, at school, aged seven years (b. NH). George H. Jones had real estate valued at $2,000 and personal estate valued at $455. (His son, Ira W. Jones, would become Milton’s famous hydraulic engineer).

Waumbeck Company – 1870-1898

Waumbeck is said to be an Abenaki word meaning “White Rock.” It is commonly used in New England where such geographic features appear.

[Mudge, Sawyer & Co.], after occupying it for about six years, disposed of it to the Waumbeck Company, a stock corporation, of which John D. Sturtevant of Boston was the managing agent. Geo. W. Olney was the first superintendent under the Waumbeck Company, and was succeeded by Benj. J. Adams. During the management of John A. Buguey, a different concern assumed control of the mill, the Waumbeck Woolen Co. The mill was burned in 1898 (Mitchell-Cony, 1908).

Waumbeck Company manager John D. Sturtevant was born in Center Harbor, NH, July 14, 1816, son of Perez and Dorothy (Kimball) Sturtevant. He married Dorcas A. “Adaline” Bradley. They had children Franny, who married Amasa Clarke, and Ellen, who married Edward Steese.

John D. Sturtevant, a woolen manufacturer, aged fifty-three years (b. NH), headed a Brookline, MA, household at the time of the Ninth (1870) Federal Census. His household included Adeline Sturtevant, keeps house, aged fifty-one years (b. MA), Franny Sturtevant, at home, aged twenty-five years (b. MA), Edward Steese, a wool merchant, aged twenty-six years (b. OH), Ellen Steese, at home, aged twenty-three years (b. NH), Edwin S. Steese, at home, aged one year (b. OH), Mary Moran, a domestic servant, aged thirty-five years (b. Ireland), Michael Moran, a laborer, aged thirty-two years (b. Ireland), Patrick Welch, a coachman, aged twenty-four years (b. Ireland), Mary McSweeney, a domestic servant, aged twenty years (b. Ireland), and Lydia Archer, a nurse, aged thirty-three years (b. OH). John D. Sturtevant had real estate valued at $20,000 and personal estate valued at $200,000.

In 1888, J.D. Sturtevant paid $2,955 in property taxes in Brookline, MA, at a rate of $10.50 per $1,000, i.e., he had property valued at $281,429. He was one of only 20,000 New Englanders that paid $100 or more (Luce, 1888).

John D. Sturtevant died in Brookline, MA, July 5, 1889. Dorcas A. “Adeline” (Bradley) Sturtevant died December 20, 1892.

OBITUARY. JOHN D. STURTEVANT. Boston, July 5 (Special). – John D. Sturtevant, a well known woollen manufacturer, died at his home in Brookline to-day. He was born at Centre Harbor, N.H., on July 4, 1814 [SIC]. For forty years he was engaged in the manufacture of woollens. He owned mills at Rochester and Milton, N.H., and Winthrop, Me., and was interested in a mill at Norwich, Conn. (New York Tribune, July 6, 1889).

Superintendent George Wilson Olney was born in Louisville, KY, August 27, 1840, son of Wilson and Eliza (Butler) Olney.

He married in Oxford, MA, November 17, 1862, Waity M. Harwood. She was born in Oxford, MA, April 24, 1839, daughter of Elihu and Hannah (Beals) Harwood.

George W. Olney, agent for woolen mill, aged twenty-nine years (b. KY), headed a Milton household at the time of the Ninth (1870) Federal Census. His household included Waity M. Olney, keeping house, aged thirty-one years (b. MA), Thomas W. Olney, at school, aged six years (b. MA), Robert S. Olney, aged one year (b. NH), Frederick A. Olney, clerk in woolen mill, aged twenty-two years (b. MA), and Ellen Conley, a domestic servant, aged fifteen years (b. NH). George W. Olney had personal estate valued at $700. The census enumerator recorded his household between those of Patrick English, weaving room superintendent, aged forty-nine years (b. Ireland), and John U. Simes, a retail grocer, aged thirty-four years (b. NH).

Waumbeck Company - BP750622
Sole Agents for Waumbeck Company Mill (Boston Post, June 22, 1875)

The Waumbeck Manufacturing Company appeared in the Milton directories of 1871, and 1873, as Milton Mills manufacturers of flannel. It cut wages in response to reduced sales during the financial and economic Panic of 1873.

INDUSTRIAL NOTES. The operatives employed by the Waumbeck Manufacturing Company at Milton Mills, N.H., have been notified that on and after Nov. 15th their wages will be reduced 15 per cent (Portland Daily Press, November 11, 1873).

Labor Notes. The Waumbeck Manufacturing Company, at Milton Mills, N.H., has reduced the wages of its operatives 15 per cent (New York Herald, November 28, 1873).

The newspapers were full of accounts of firms that laid off most of their staff or simply shut down altogether. The Waumbeck Company survived and had recovered to the extent that it was able to pay its shareholders their dividend in December 1874 (Boston Globe, December 29, 1874).

George W. Olney died in Leicester, MA, February 28, 1894. Waity M. (Harwood) Olney died in Providence, RI, July 1, 1916.

Death of George Olney. WORCESTER, Mass., March 1. George W. Olney, a brother of Attorney General Olney, a well-known woolen manufacturer, died at Cherry Valley last night of rheumatic fever. He was born at Louisville 53 years ago, but his parents moved to this state when he was two years old. He spent his business career in the woolen industry (Berkshire Eagle, March 1, 1894).

Olney’s successor, Benjamin G. Adams, was said to have been Waumbeck Manufacturing Co. superintendent for seventeen years. His tenure likely ran from about 1874 through 1890.

Benjamin G. Adams was born in Barnstead, NH, May 27, 1823, son of James and Elizabeth (Bellamy) Adams.

He married in Farmington, NH, April 4, 1846, Sophia Nutter. She was born in Farmington, NH, in May 1827, daughter of John H. and Hannah (Hall) Nutter.

The Waumbec Company bought a whole carload, i.e., a train carload, of industrial soap from a soap salesman in or around 1877.

The Waumbeck Manuf’g Company appeared in the Milton directories of 1874, 1875, 1876, and 1877, as Milton Mills manufacturers of flannel.

Another Trade Sale of Blankets and Robes. Special Despatch to The Boston Globe. New York, July 23. A great sale of 6000 cases blankets. carriage robes, lap robes and horse blankets took place today. The entire production belonged to the Clinton Mills Company, the Norwich Woollen Company, the Waumbeck Company, Winthrop Mills Company and Norway Plains Company, and included all sizes and qualities. At least 600 persons were present, representing some of the largest dry-goods houses throughout the country. The sale was peremptory, on a credit of four months (Boston Globe, July 23, 1878).

FIRE RECORD. Dover, N.H., Aug. 8. – The Waumbeck Company’s mills at Milton Mills, N.H., caught fire yesterday in the picker room, but through the prompt use of the hose connected with the mills the fire was confined to the picker house. The damage was slight by the fire, but considerable by the water (Boston Post, August 9, 1878).

Sheperd Norwell - Detail - BG870130
Waumbeck Shaker Flannels On Sale (Boston Globe, January 30, 1887)

The Waumbeck Manuf’g Company appeared in the Milton directories of 1880, 1881, 1882, 1884, 1887, [and 1889], as Milton Mills manufacturers of flannel.

Benjamin G. Adams, superintendent of the woolen mill, aged fifty-seven years (b. NH), headed a Milton (“Milton Mills Village”) household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Sophia Adams, keeping house, aged fifty-three years (b. NH), and his son, Frank H. Adams, works in woolen mill, aged twenty-seven years (b. NH).

NEW ADVERTISEMENTS. 10-4 white Waumbeck blankets, $2.75; 10-4 gray blankets, $2, at Wilcox Bros’ (The Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL), November 10, 1883).

The Waumbeck Company appeared several times in the U.S. Census’ water power report of 1885.

Benjamin G. Adams died in Amesbury, MA, January 31, 1905. Sophia (Nutter) Adams died in Lawrence, MA, September 25, 1908.

Obituary. Amesbury, Mass. Benj. G. Adams, a retired woolen manufacturer, died Tuesday, Jan. 31, aged 82 years. Deceased was boss weaver in the Pemberton Mills, Lawrence, 45 years ago, when many employes were buried in the ruins. Mr. Adams was an expert designer. The last 20 years of his active life he was agent of the Waumbeck Woolen Co., Milton, N.H. (Fibre & Fabric, 1905).

Waumbeck Company manager John D. Sturtevant died in 1889 and was succeeded by his son-in-law, Amasa Clarke (1844-1907). The Waumbeck Company appeared in the Milton business directory of 1892, as a manufacturer of woolen goods. Amasa Clarke, was its agent.

John Andrew Buguey was mill superintendent after Benjamin G. Adams. He was born in Leicester, MA, August 29, 1844, son of James and Winifred Buguey.

Mr. George Kavanagh was in [Concord] town Sunday as the guest of John A. Buguey (Concord Enterprise (Concord, MA), March 22, 1889).

The Waumbeck Company joined 916 other corporate woolen concerns in petitioning the US Senate in April 1892. Their petition sought continuance of McKinley’s woolen duties, i.e., tariffs, on foreign wool imports. (They had been in place since 1878). The Waumbeck company (J.A. Bugney, Supt.) appeared in the list of petitioners as having 10 sets of cards, i.e., 10 carding machines.

The following advertisements for cloth workers appeared in the Boston Globe near the end of 1892 (and beginning of 1893).

MALE HELP WANTED. A RELIABLE MAN who thoroughly understands the business of piece dyeing to dye dress goods, flannels, etc. A man of this stamp may address JOHN A. BUGUEY, Milton Mills, N.H. (Boston Globe, November 27, 1892).

MALE HELP WANTED. WANTED. A good experienced man to run a Parks & Woolson six-quarter shear. Write at once or come to JOHN A. BUGUEY, Milton Mills, N.H. (Boston Globe, November 29, 1892). 

MALE HELP WANTED. WANTED. Boss weaver on Davis & Furber looms, must be a good manager of help, competent, steady and reliable. Man with family preferred. Address JOHN A. BUGNEY, supt., Milton Mills, N.H. (January 26, 1893).

The Waumbeck Company mill suspended production for six months during the Panic of 1893. (See also Milton in the News – 1893).

A Three Months’ Vacation. MILTON MILLS, N.H., July 21. – The agent of the Waumbeck company has issued orders for closing the mills here for three months as soon as the goods now in process of manufacture are finished. The reason assigned for this action is a lack of orders except at ruinous prices. This is the first time in the history of this company that work has been ordered to cease on account of the conditions of the market (Fall River Daily Evening News, July 21, 1893).

The Waumbeck Manuf’g Company appeared in the Milton directories of 1894, and 1898, as manufacturers of flannels.

Senator William E. Chandler (R-NH) presented to the US Senate a remonstrance from the Waumbeck Company employees in 1894. They opposed the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act. It “reformed” the tariff system by reducing tariffs, but also added the first peacetime national income tax. It passed, but the income tax was struck down as unconstitutional in 1895.

Mr. CHANDLER presented the memorial of John A. Buguey and 42 other employes of the Waumbek Co[mpan]y, [M]ilton Mills, New Hampshire, remonstrating against the passage of the so-called Wilson tariff bill; which was referred to the Committee on Finance (US Senate, 1894).

It took passage of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1911 to saddle us with a national income tax. New Hampshire opposed passage of that amendment. (See Milton and the Income Tax – 1911).

Mary E. (Keating) Buguey died in Milton Mills, NH, April 22, 1896. John A. Buguey appeared in the Concord directory of that year, as foreman of Damon’s mill, with his house on Main street, in Westvale. He and his children resided in Concord, MA, in 1900, where he was a weaving instructor at the Massachusetts State Prison there. He married (2nd) in Concord, MA, September 8, 1913, Elinor Cummiskey. John A. Buguey died in Acton, MA, June 11, 1921.

DEATHS. BUTNEY – In Acton, Mass., June 11, John A. Butney. Funeral from his late residence, Fletchers Corners, South Acton, Monday, June 13, at 7:45. Solemn high mass at St. Bridget’s Church. Maynard, Mass., at 8 p. m. (Boston Post, June 12, 1921).

Waumbeck Woolen Company – 1898-04

A newly-formed Waumbeck Woolen Company sought to revive the Waumbeck Manufacturing Company’s moribund mill operation in July 1898. Its agent was M.F.S. Whipple, who was also its treasurer. (He was a partner in Whipple & Pratt).

Merritt F.S. Whipple was born in Burrillville, RI, April 2, 1845, son of Sterry and Maria H. (Warner) Whipple.

He married in Pawtucket, RI, in 1867, Evaline J. Larkin. She was born in Cranston, RI, in December 1847, daughter of Samuel A. and Sarah W. (Collins) Larkin.

NEWS IN BRIEF. Owing to the depression in the woollen business the woollen mill operated at Greenville, R.I., by Merritt F. Whipple, will run out [of] stock and stop until business revives (Boston Post, March 15, 1876).

WOOLEN MILL BURNED. Loss $75,000. Providence, April 14 – The mill of the Greenville Woolen Co. in Smithfield was burned last night, with the boiler house and a five tenement block. A large boarding house was on fire and partially destroyed. Loss $75,000. The buildings and machinery were owned by the wife of M.F. Whipple. Insured for $46,250. The stock and supplies were owned by the Greenville Woolen Co. and were insured for $16,085 (Fall River Daily Evening News, April 14, 1882).

TESTIMONIALS. From a Well-known Woollen Manufacturer. Greenville, R.I., Aug. 10, 1883. Dear Sirs, I wish to inform my friends and the public that for many years I have been a great sufferer from sick headache, and have tried almost every remedy, but could find no relief until your “BlLIOUSINE” was recommended to me. After taking a few doses of your powder I was greatly relieved. I have now taken the medicine about a month, and pronounce myself cured. I cheerfully recommend every one who is troubled with sick headache to give it a fair trial. Yours respectfully, M.F. WHIPPLE (Boston Globe, March 1, 1884).

Biliousine was manufactured in Providence, RI. Similar “specific” medicines for these symptoms contained super-carbonate of soda [baking soda], charcoal, paregoric and water.

During the management of John A. Buguey, a different concern assumed control of the mill, the Waumbeck Woolen Co. The mill was burned in 1898 (Mitchell-Cony, 1908)

MARKET AND FINANCIAL NOTES. Milton Mills, N.H. The Waumbeck Woolen Co has been incorporated with capital of $60,000 (Fibre & Fabric, 1898).

JULY 1898. Waumbeck Mills, Milton Mills, N.H. Woolens; new company organized; capital, $60,000; M.F. Whipple treasurer and manager (National Association, 1898).

The Waumbeck Woolen Co. mill burned to the ground on Sunday morning September 11, 1898, before it could be reopened. (See also Milton in the News – 1898).

BAD FIRE AT MILTON MILLS. Waumbeck Woolen Mills Burned to the Ground Sunday Morning. The entire plant of the Waumbeck woolen mills at Milton Mills was completely destroyed by fire early Sunday morning with a loss of nearly $100,000. The mills have been idle since 1890, but arrangements were recently completed for resuming work, and they were to start up again Monday of this week, giving employment to 390 hands. While the origin of the fire is unknown, it is supposed to have been caused by spontaneous combustion in the picker room. Agent M.F.S. Whipple of the mills stated that the company had $70,000 insurance on the property. The fire could be seen from Farmington and caused a bright reflection on the sky for miles around. It is not thought that the mill will be rebuilt. The fire was discovered by the night watchman, Charles Williams, about 2:15 a.m. and he at once gave an alarm. He then attempted to return to the engine room and start the fire pump, but the heat had become so intense that he was unable to do so. The village fire department responded promptly and did everything in their power to save the structure, and by energetic effort did succeed in keeping the flames away from the office. The factory was a three-story structure with basement, 150 feet long and 50 feet wide. This was the chief industry of the town, and the loss is a disastrous blow (Farmington News, September 16, 1898).

Merritt F. Whipple, a woolen manufacturer, aged fifty-five years (b. RI), headed a Providence, RI, household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of thirty-three years), Evaline [J. (Larkin)] Whipple, aged fifty-two years (b. RI), and his children, Harry C. Whipple, aged twenty-six years (b. RI), and Bessie M. Whipple, at school, aged sixteen years (b. RI). Merritt F. Whipple rented their portion of a two-family household at 28 Oak Street. Evaline Whipple was the mother of four children, of whom four were still living.

Henry H. Townsend bought the Waumbeck mill land in 1900. The Waumbeck Company appeared in the U.S. Geological Survey’s water power report of 1901. The Waumbeck Company was dissolved officially on January 27, 1904.

Merritt F. Whipple died in Providence, RI, November 8, 1912, aged sixty-seven years. Evaline J. (Larkin) Whipple died July 1, 1924.

As a sort of epilogue, three former Milton residents, two of them sons of Waumbeck mill superintendents, ran for high office in Massachusetts in 1903. Two of them ran as the Socialist candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, and one as the Democrat candidate for lieutenant governor.

LOCAL. The Milton Mills correspondent for the Rochester Courier says: Among the candidates for the gubernatorial honors in Massachusetts this fall are several who in times past have been well known in our village. On the Socialist ticket, John Chase, candidate for governor, was well known as a barefoot little urchin when his mother resided here. John Q. Adams, candidate for lieutenant governor on the same ticket, is a son of Benj. F. Adams, for seventeen years agent of the Waumbeck Co. here, and Richard Olney, 2d, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, is a son of George Olney, who was agent of the Waumbeck mills before Mr. Adams. Though neither of these may reach the prize they are striving for, we are glad to know that out boys are ambitious (Farmington News, October 16, 1903).

At this point, the two young Socialists might be excused to some extent. The Bolshevik revolution lay still fourteen years in the future. Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises had not yet proved Socialism to be both logically and economically impossible, as he would in 1919. And, of course, Socialism’s hundreds of millions of deaths lay also in the future. For those that cling still to its blood-stained notions in the present day, ignorance may be an explanation but is not an excuse.

See also Milton Mills’ Brierley Mill – c1864-18 and Milton Mills’ Miltonia Mill – 1872-14


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Wikipedia. (2020, May 3). Pemberton Mill. Retrieved from

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Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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