Early Manufacturing of Chesterfield NH

Spafford brook is an outlet from the easterly shore of Spafford lake. The waters from the channel, “which flow easterly, take a southeasterly course, crossing the main road near George Hamilton’s sash and blind shop. Passing Currier Bros. bit manufactory, it takes an abrupt turn northward, again crossing the main road near Fred Pierce’s brush handle shop, descending and curving around the southeastern portion of Mt. Pistareen, through a deep glen. Holt’s brook unites with this stream from the south, into the “Bitshop “pond; Gilson brook comes down a deep gorge and is bridged over in the eastern part of the village, entering Spafford brook near Bradford Farr’s grist-mill; Wild brook, running through Mr. Fowler’s farm, is also a tributary of this stream, and the whole finds admission into the Connecticut, near the county farm, in Westmoreland. Upon these waters the industries of Factory Village, mainly depend, and, if they were fully utilized, would form a large, manufacturing field. In this connection, indeed, it is a truism that a majority of the manufactories of the past, here have prospered. The first right’ upon the stream was a saw and grist-mill, built about the year 1800, near the. present residence of George Fletcher. The purchase of this privilege secures to the sash and blind shop of George Hamilton (formerly a cotton factory), the first right upon the stream. The different manufacturing stands have been occupied by different owners and companies, some of them as early as 1787. Some of the manufacturing enterprises, however, are among the industries of the past. Among these might be mentioned, cloth-dressing, and an iron foundry. Powder was also made here by a Baptist minister named Wilber, on the west side of the ravine, where Sidney Campbell has. for many years, made wheel-heads. The making of wheel-heads has been a large and profitable business, conducted by different firms, and is still a paying industry. The tanning and finishing of leather, where Hershal Fowler has the last year made pails, was, for two-thirds of a century, a leading pursuit; and it was a recognized fact that leather there finished, by Sumner Warren, was of a better quality than any entering Boston market. The supposed reason for this superiority was the purity of the water used in its manufacture. The fall of the brook, the first one-half mile from the outlet, is 150 feet. There are nine water privileges in this distance, and one below.

Currier Brothers’ bit and auger factory. – In 1836 or ’87, Richardson & Huggins commenced the manufacture of boring instruments, at Factory Village, in what was originally the old meeting-house of the east parish of Westmoreland. It was purchased by Benjamin and Gilman Farwell, who took it to pieces and removed it to its present location, intending it for some kind of factory, when it was purchased by Richardson & Huggins. In 1851 Barton Skinner bought the factory and carried on the same business for Benjamin Pierce, who furnished the stock, etc. In 1853, however, he purchased the factory, and refitted it. For many years he conducted a large business, employing a number of hands and producing yearly a large number of bits, augers and other boring tools. He also manufactured spinning and flax wheels and wheel-heads, employing, during the war, fifty hands. In July, 1882, he sold the bit auger business to the present firm, and since 1870 his son, Fred B., has manufactured the other line of goods for him, Mr. Pierce attending to the sales, etc. Currier Brothers came from Newburyport, Mass., taking possession of the bit shop July 19, 1882, where they manufacture auger, car and machine bits, carpenter’s and boring-machine augers, Lake, German, and gimlet bits. The works are driven by water-power. Capacity, 175,000 bits, augers and gimlets-in raw material, twenty-five tonsyearly. They employ twenty-five men. Their goods are mostly sold in the Western states. Since coming into possession of the shop they have put in a new Humphrey wheel, and other improved machinery, doing their work with less help than formerly.

Fred B. Pierce’s brush-handle factory, at Factory Village, was established by him in 1875. He employs about thirty hands in the manufacture of brush-handles, using the water-power and doing a business of about $25,000.00 per year.

J. H. Goodrich’s steam saw-mill. In 1872 seven men formed themselves into a company known as the Steam Power Company, and erected at Factory Village a large steam saw-mill. In 1878 this mill was burned. The property was then bought and the mill rebuilt by I. H. Goodrich and his brother George. They continued the business until the death of the latter, February 15, 1884, since which time it has been operated by J. H. The mill has facilities for sawing 10,000 feet of lumber per day, and gives employment to six men.

George L. Hamilton’s sash, door and blind factory, at Factory Village, was established in 1868, and occupies what is known as the old cotton factory building. He employs twelve hands and does a business of about $6,000.00, per annum.

Oliver J. Butterfield’s saw-mill, located on road 6, was built in 1882. He manufactures lumber, shingles, pail-stock, box-boards, etc.

William W Ford’s grist and cider-mill is located at West Chesterfield. The grist-mill has one run of stones, and the cider-mill the capacity for turning out ten barrels of cider per day. Mr. Ford also manufactures wagons and sleighs and carries on a general repair business.

W.W. Farr’s grist and saw-mill is located at West Chesterfield. The grist-mill has one run of stones and the saw-mill the capacity for sawing 5,000 feet of lumber per day, having also a planer and general job shop.

O. R. Farr’s box stock factory, at West Chesterfield, was built in 1875, by Ransom Farr, and was bought by the present proprietor in 1877. He manufactures box-stock and extension tables, employing ten men.

Bradford C. Farr’s grist-mill, on road 6, has one run of stones and the capacity for grinding 200 bushels of grain per day.

Fowler & Buxton’s wagon and carriage factory is located a Factory Village.

Ira P. Buxton’s cider-mill, at Factory village, turns out about 200 barrels of cider per annum.

Arthur M. Davis’s cider-mill, on road 27, has the capacity for turning out about ten barrels of cider per day.

Butler Brothers’ saw-mill, located in the southern part of the town, cuts about 5,000 feet of lumber per day. The firm also manufactures shingles and cloth-boards, employing four men.


Hurd, Duane Hamilton. History of Cheshire and Sullivan counties, New Hampshire. Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis. 1886.

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