Conway — Industries

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      Conway has been an important manufacturing town since 1837, and it is in its manufacturing interests that the place finds the chief element of its prosperity. South River, which rises in Ashfield, and, flowing east to Conway village, passes north to Deerfield River, provides fine water-power for all the town's manufactories.
      About midway between the villages of Conway Centre and Burkeville, Richard Tucker & Co. are largely engaged in the manufacture of cotton warps and yarns, of which they pro-duce annually 250,000 pounds, and employ 50 people, Their mills have a river-front of about 200 feet, are three stories in height, and may be operated by steam as well as water, steam being used, however, only in time of drought.
      Richard Tucker, Esq., the present head of the firm, started the mills at this point in 1858, and in 1860 was succeeded by R. Tucker & Co. In that year, also, the firm of Tucker & Cook was organized, and, occupying the site of H. B. Whitton's mill (built by Howland & Moss in 1842), half a mile north of Conway Centre, began the manufacture of knitting-cotton, in which they employ 40 persons, and produce yearly 250,000 pounds. Their mills have a front of about 200 feet, and have facilities for operating with steam as well as water-power.
      At Burkeville, east of Conway Centre, Delabarre & Hackstaff occupy the mill built by the Conway Manufacturing Company in 1845. This latter company, founded by Edmund Burke in 1837, built their first mill in that year, a little west of the present mill, and, as noted, changed their location in 1845. The company suspended in 1857, and, in 1858, Edmund Burke, reviving the business, continued until 1867, in the early part of which year the property was purchased by Edward Delabarre, who, in 1871, was succeeded by the present firm, Delabarre & Hackstaff. To the main building--which is four stories in height--they have made additions, so that they have a front of upward of 300 feet. They employ 115 people, operate 32 looms, and produce 350,000 yards of fancy kerseymeres and other cloths annually. The mills are lighted throughout with gas manufactured on the premises, and are operated with steam when water-power fails.
      T. J. Shepardson has completed the erection of a mill on South River, a mile from Bardwell's Ferry, where he expects to begin, in the summer of 1879, the manufacture of cotton yarns, for which his mill will have a capacity of 100,000 pounds annually.
      Eli Thwing operates a saw-mill on South River, in the north part of the town, where he also manufactures hand-rakes to a limited extent.
      Conway occupies a fruitful agricultural region, but is noted especially as an excellent grazing town. Large quantities of butter are yearly manufactured, and stock-raising is also profitably pursued. Tobacco growing was once an important interest, but has latterly declined, as in other towns of Western Massachusetts. The raising of sheep was at one time a popular and profitable pursuit, but receives now only limited attention.

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