Shelburne — Industries

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

      Shelburne is a town of agriculture and manufactures, and derives the elements of its substantial prosperity about equally from each industry. At Shelburne Falls village the extensive cutlery-works of J. W. Gardner furnish employment to 70 persons, and manufacture one hundred and twenty dozens of pocket-knives daily. The works are exclusively devoted to the production of pocket-cutlery,—jack-knives mostly. Mr. Gardner was for nearly a quarter of a century previous to 1876 interested with the Messrs. Lamson in their cutlery-works in Buckland, and in that year began the manufacture of cutlery at his present location.
      Streeter & Mayhew occupy a commodious mill of two and a half stories for the manufacture of silk-twist, of which their production is about 700 pounds monthly. The mill is operated by steam-power, and when running to its full capacity gives employment to 50 persons. The firm of Streeter & Mayhew was organized in 1870, and occupies the site whereon A. W. Streeter manufactured bit-braces previous to 1870.
      H. H. Mayhew & Co. have been engaged since 1866 as the successors of H. S. Shepardson & Co. in the manufacture of bits, braces, gimlets, etc. They employ 25 men, and operate with water-power. Messrs. Mayhew & Co. manufacture the double-cut bit, patented by C. C. Tolman, of Shelburne, many years ago, and first made in this country in 1855 by Sargent & Foster, of Shelburne Falls.
      The German Harmonica Company, composed of Jacob Oefinger and H. M. Willis, was organized at Shelburne Falls by Jacob Oefinger in December, 1877. Mr. Oefinger began the manufacture of small tools, etc., at the Falls in 1874, and in 1876 removed to North Adams, Mass., where, with E. R. Tinker, he organized the American. Harmonica Company for the manufacture of harmonicas. The company was dissolved in 1877, in which year Mr. Oefinger formed the present company, which is said to be the only one of its kind in America, and the only one in the world that manufactures harmonicas by other than hand-power. The present daily production is from two to three gross of instruments, and the number of employes 10, but, according to expectations, these figures will soon be increased fivefold.
      In the north part of the town, on North River, are the Frankton Mills, operated by a corporation composed of Messrs. S. T. Field, W. H. Gould, and T. D. Purrington, and engaged in the manufacture of cotton prints. The company was organized in 1877, and began business in the present mills. These were built in 1870 by E. Wells & Co., and devoted by them until 1873 to the manufacture of printing-paper. From 1873, when the firm, of E. Wells & Co. was dissolved, until 1877, the mills were idle. The capital stock of the Frankton Mills corporation is $30,000; sixty-four looms are operated and 40 people employed.
      Other manufacturing industries of the town are the tannery of Messrs. A. Bardwell & Son, at the Falls, and the chair-factory of Messrs. Alvord & Franklin, at Shelburne Centre.
      Agriculturally, Shelburne is somewhat noted for the production of fat cattle, butter, and maple-sugar.

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