Taken from:

Southbridge Directory for 1882


The town of Southbridge was taken from the towns of Charlton, Dudley and Sturbridge, and was incorporated in 1816, having been previously called Honest Town. It is located in Worcester County, at the terminus of the Southbridge branch of the N.Y. & N. E. R. R., which connects at Webster with the N. & W. road, and at East Thompson with the main line to New York and Boston, and at Blackstone with the Providence and Worcester roads; also by stage routes to Palmer and Charlton, and thence by the Boston and Albany to the West or East. The towns abounds in extensive and numerous manufactories that find privileges along the Quinnebaug River. The number of square miles in the town is about eighteen; the number of inhabitants between six and seven thousand. The traditional saw and grist mills furnished the nucleus of the manufacturing interests, which are now gigantic.


was incorporated in 1831, manufacturing having been carried on by two or three different companies for seventeen years previously. This company has been constantly enlarging and improving their works from the beginning, and are now doing a business that is classed among the great industries of the State. The capital stock is $100,000, and the officers are John R. Brewer, President; Joshua Ballard, Treas; John Tatterson, Agent; Joseph Esten, Superintendent, who are apparently as zealous for the welfare of their employees as for the nicety of their manufacturing products, having established a library for their mental improvement, and erected a brick church in 1868, at a cost of $20,000. The company own and use several four and five story brick buildings in which are made the celebrated Hamilton Delaines, worsted dress goods, prints and cassimeres, which, for their choice material, nice patterns, and fine manufacture, find a ready market, and are shipped to the principal head centres of trade throughout the States. The company employs 1,200 hands.


was organized in 1863. Mr. C. A. Dresser is the President, with William H. Clarke as Superintendent, and Frank Dresser, Clerk. This company is engaged in the manufacture of cotton sheetings and twine, and does an annual business of $225,000, employing 225 hands. The company own one of the finest of water privileges in the vicinity, having a fall of twenty-nine feet. Mr. Dresser is one of the most public spirited of our citizens, being earnestly interested in all that pertains to the welfare of the town, having built, by his philanthropy and benevolence, monuments that are greatly to its advancement. The mills are located on Central Street, and comprise a large four-story brick building and a twine mill, just across the river, with numerous buildings adjacent; also, close by, is the village occupied by the employees of the company.


located at Sandersdale, originally Ashland, were built by James Sanders, Esq., formerly of Rhode Island, during the years of 1867 and 1868. The buildings embrace extensive structures of brick, and are especially adapted to the bleaching and printing of print-cloths, and are managed by T. & J. H. Sanders. Rapid advancement has been made in this branch of industry during the past few years, and extensive improvements may be seen at these works. The highest grade of skilled labor is employed in the various artistic departments, together with the most improved and costly machinery. The works are in constant operation, and produce about 24,000,000 yards of printed calico per year.


engaged in the manufacturing of spectacles and eye-glasses, using gold, silver and steel, has sprung from a small beginning until at the present time, their works are the leading mechanical enterprise of the town, and their reputation extends throughout both the old and new worlds. The achievements made in spectacles and eye glasses during the past few years has been marked, and this company has not only kept pace with its rivals, but has outstripped them all in mastering the art, and now stands the largest optical company in the world, fitted with the most intricate and modern machinery, guided by skilled mechanics who have spent years to acquire their present high degree of skill. These extensive works are situated on Mechanic Street, and are visited annually by hundreds of visitors from all parts, who are amazed at the extent to which this branch of industry is carried on. The works are all systematically divided into departments comprising gold, silver, steel, forging, engraving, grinding, polishing and inspecting rooms, together with many other departments; that to write in detail about would require a volume in itself. Their goods are noted for their honest qualities, accurateness and artistic finish, that make them indispensable in the stock of the dealer in these goods. The incorporators of this company are progressive men, being interested in all that pertain to the advancement of the town, both in its general business and social standing, holding positions of trust from the hands of their townsmen, thereby making their works and themselves indispensable in the progress of the place.


incorporated 1878, Festus C. Litchfield, Pres., John M. Cheney, Trea. This concern commenced business in 1843, in (Globe Village), Southbridge, Mass., under the firm name of L. & P. Litchfield & Co. Its members were Leroy, Pliny, Festus C., Libya M. Litchfield and Schuyler Whitney. They moved their works to Shuttleville in 1846. About this time Pliny sold his interest to Liberty Litchfield, and the style of the firm was changed to Litchfield & Co. Leroy died in 1860, and Schuyler Whitney retired in 1862, the other members, to wit: Liberty, Festus C. and Libya M. Litchfield purchasing their interests. In 1878, they were incorporated under the General Act, with a capital stock of $21,000 equally divided between them. Liberty Litchfield, died in 1878. Libya M. Litchfield retired in 1880. Festus C. Litchfield, the president of the corporation is the only original member interested now. The original firm (the most of them being millrights, and coming in contact with the mill owners) got the impression that a better shuttle than was then made, was needed, and they decided to go into the business and supply that demand. Their aim was to give the best shuttle possible. The large amount of work they got proved that they were correct in their impression, and the additional price they received is evidence of their superior quality. It has always been the aim of this concern to sustain the reputation it won at its commencement, and that they have succeeded is known by the consumers of shuttles throughout this country and Canada. Today their shuttles take the lead. They have been compelled at various times to increase their capacity so as to supply the constantly increasing demand, and now employ more help than at any time before. In looking through their works, no one, except he be an expert, but would be surprised at the amount of detail required to produce a first-class shuttle. All the various parts are wrought by machinery (and this concern make their own) which requires a very much larger amount of capital, than one looking at a shuttle would suppose. They take special care in seasoning their timber for shuttles; they have four large storehouses, besides two large rooms in the shop, well filled, and in them they carry stock so as not to be compelled to use any except it be thoroughly seasoned without forcing by heat. They are awake to any improvement, and are constantly making new machinery to produce them. The famous ÒLitchfield SpindleÓ was a production of their shop (invented by Leroy). They make shuttles for weaving cotton, wool, silk, linen and jute, adapted to the various looms, for the different grades of goods produced from each of the kinds of stick named. They cannot carry shuttles in stock. Their work is exclusively on orders.


The manufacture of shoe knives, commenced by Mr. Hyde, has developed into one of the prominent and constantly increasing industries of the town. The increasing demands upon the company have necessitated enlargement and important changes, and recently the company has been changed into a corporation, comprising J. P. Hyde, President; F. L. Chapin, Clerk and Treasurer; Frank Jacobs, Master Mechanic; with a capital stock of $12,000. The company occupy a large building on Main Street, built expressly for them on the site of the old spectacle shop, comprising a main building 50 x 30, with two ells, one of them running parallel with Main Street, giving the building a large frontage; the other is in the rear. The building was built expressly for this company and their business, and is arranged in all its details for the expeditious and artistic manufacture of shoe knives. This company own the patents of A. E. Johnson, for improved edge and heel-shaves for boots and shoes, the manufacture of these shaves forming quite a branch of this industry, and which are working in upon the market with great favor. The Hyde shoe knife is well known in the market, and has been steadily growing in favor, until now their goods are classed among the finest graded and tempered shoe knives in the market, and meet with a ready sale. The manufacturing power is furnished by a Sibley turbine wheel, and an eight-horse power engine.


Among the institutions of a town, the local paper is one that, besides being an unprejudiced and faithful chronicler of all local happenings, and matters of interest to the inhabitants, above all others wields an influence more readily felt than any other, reaching as it does all classes and conditions of people. The Journal, under the able management of Geo. M. Whitaker, A. B., graduate of Bowdoin College, has steadily grown in popularity until now it enjoys a round of prosperity equaled by few country journals, and which extends far beyond the immediate field of its labors. By its unflinching advocacy, the Journal has secured for the town many advancements that will ever live as marked improvements in the minds of the people, and as an honor to the local paper. Mr. WhitakerÕs personal popularity can in no way be attested stronger than in the fact that he has been elected to positions of trust by his townsmen, and at present is serving on the library committee, which institution is one that would be a credit to a town of three times the size of Southbridge. Mr. Whitaker has also served in important official capacities in the Massachusetts Press Association. The Southbridge people are fortunate possessors of an independent, fearless newspaper, on which they can always depend as reporting all matters fairly and squarely, and advocating that which will be to the general good and welfare of the town and its citizens.


In a branch of art that is carried on in town to a degree of perfection seldom achieved outside of the larger cities. George M. Lovell, the local artist, is enjoying a degree of patronage that is not limited by the boundaries of the town his fame justly extending far beyond its limits. Besides attending to all of the commoner grades of work in photographic art, Mr. L. has a large run of patronage that demands the most artistic and skilled workmanship, who have learned to patronize an artist that, although doing business in a town, is capable of turning out the finest productions of photographers art. Mr. L. seems to have a complete control of the lights and shadows in his gallery, thereby reproducing the features in all their details without embodying that harshness which seems to be such a hindrance to many artists. The gallery is at 103 Main Street.


This popular place of resort furnishes one of the most brilliant histories in the annals of the town, having been the scene of many remarkable managerial successes. The hall, as a place of amusement, is twenty years old, and within its walls have appeared many of the brightest lights of the educational and amusement world, its repertory embracing many celebrities that are seldom listened to outside of the large cities. About a year ago C. D. Paige secured a lease of this place, and by his lavish expenditures has transformed the former old-fashioned resort into a modern place of amusement, adding a beautiful gallery, ample stage and scenery, and otherwise adorning the walls and ceiling with fresco-work, gas-fixtures, etc., that make it one of the most convenient and beautiful entertainment halls, both for the actor and auditor, that can be found on the New England circuit. Liberal terms are made with first-class stars and combinations. Among those that have and are to appear this season is a choice list of the leading dramatic and musical stars and combinations, together with the popular local course of lectures, entertainments and fairs. The hall is capable of accommodating 800, and is located at the business centre of Main Street.


Sylvester Dresser, sole proprietor and manager, is located in the centre of business on the Main Street, up one flight, is amply furnished with a large stage so situated as to enable managers to convey baggage to and from the street, direct, without carrying it up stairs, complete sets of scenery, etc. The acoustic properties of the house are among the best, it being very popular on that account. Managers will find Mr. Dresser ready to arrange on the most reasonable terms, and the house is found to be one of the most popular in New England, and has a seating capacity of 800, including a gallery of the most improved style; also adjacent to the large hall is a smaller one, with the necessary ante-rooms. Southbridge has long been noted as a first-class Òshow town,Ó and combinations of sterling merit rarely play here without profit to the managers. The hall is one of the most attractive in appearance, and easy of access, and is also furnished with ready egress in case of panic from fire. The Ideal Opera Company, Geo. Riddle of Edipus Tyrannus fame, the Germania Orchestra, and other standard attractions, are among those that have recently appeared.


Among the institutions of a town that are the very first to add to its prosperity and good reputation is its hotel, and how the traveler is treated at these public places of reception goes a great ways in forming his likes or dislikes about the place. Southbridge has little to fear in that respect, and the traveler or permanent guest finds here a home far surpassing in its appointments those of much larger and more pretentious places. The C. A. Dresser House is located on the corner of Main and Central Streets, and is one of the most beautiful and costly structures in the place, erected by C. A. Dresser, at a cost of $80,000. The present landlords, Messrs. J. F. Parker & Son, seconded by their able corps of assistants, enjoy the confidence and good will of their guests who in the past have frequently attested this by marks of respect. The house contains a large office, reception rooms and parlor, billiard hall and reading room, large dining hall, bath rooms and barber shop, laundry and about fifty sleeping rooms, the whole being nicely furnished and heated by steam, and supplied with hot and cold water throughout.


Southbridge is almost entirely dependent upon the management of the above corporation for its railroad facilities, and to their credit be it said the arrangements for the traveler are ample and convenient. Extra trains have been added recently, and more will be put on as the necessities of the public demand. Although being at the terminus of the branch, Southbridge is an important station, even rivaling Webster in the cash receipts per month for sale of tickets. This fact is recognized by the General Passenger Agent, Mr. A. C. Kendall, who is constantly endeavoring to make the passenger train service convenient in all its appointments. A perusal of the time table in the advertising department will show that close connections are made with trains on the Norwich & Worcester, Providence & Worcester, and other connecting roads. The extra mid-day train is a great convenience, enabling business men to be away from home but half a day, and reach Worcester with ample time for business. The late train, 4:25 p.m., is equally well appreciated, enabling persons to remain at home longer, when going by rail for a more or less extended trip. The local managers of the depot and train service are responsible and accommodating men, and seem to enjoy the confidence and good will of the people of the town.


The manufacture of carriage spokes, by W. P. Plimpton & Co., is one of the local manufactures that takes a high rank. The years of constant practice and study which have been employed in this business by the proprietors, has enabled them to produce a spoke that is unequaled for durability and finish; made so by years of constant trial and testing. From the beginning, the wood is carefully selected and examined, when it is cut into raw shapes and thoroughly seasoned, great care being given to this part of the business, as without the proper qualities in the wood the spoke is lacking in its most essential particulars. The manufacture of these spokes is only given to the most reliable and skilled help, thereby insuring an article free from the botches of the incompetent workman, and insuring to the buyer and consumer perfection in all its details. The spokes manufactured by this concern are in constant demand in the market, commanding the best prices, and are spoken of as having no superiors and few equals. The manufactory is located on Mechanic Street, and connected with it is a grist mill.


The Columbian Company was formed in 1812, and was burned out in 1844. This was a cotton mill. The property has had several owners, and in 1866 was sold to H. T. Grant of Providence, who erected an additional mill for making print cloths. The working product in 1874 was 24,000 yards. At the present time the mill is a 6,000 spindle mill, running 123 print cloth looms, 64 x 64 goods, turning off 25,000 yards of goods per week. It was leased by the present managers, the Messrs. Loomis, in the fall of 1879. Since it has been under their management they have made many improvements, making a general repair of the mill by putting in a slasher (the yarn always having been dressed by the old-fashioned dressing machines), new spinning frames, warpers, etc. Before their leasing it, the mill had been idle nearly two years, it having formerly been run by Mr. Wm. O. H. Grant, who had charge of it some twelve or fourteen years.

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