Early Business Interests of Hallowell, Maine

Category: Kennebec County Published: Sunday, 09 February 2014 Written by Carol Eddleman Print Email
Business Inerests -- It may be remarked in passing that soon after its settlement, Hallowell became the most important place of business on the Kennebec above Bath, and continued so for many years.  The early settlers therefore who came were generally tradesmen, mechanics or manufacturers, and but few of them engaged in agriculture.  Ship-building was carried on to considerable extent, and a large trade was carried on between this place and Boston, New-York and the West Indies.  In 1820 upwards of 4,000 tons of shipping were owned in Hallowell, ships generally of small tonnage and engaged largely in the coasting trade.  Hallowell was thus the market for a large territory, embracing central Kennebec, eastern Oxford and nearly all of Franklin county, beside some of the present Androscoggin county towns.  Farm products and short lumber were brought to Hallowell as a shipping point in large quantities, and the wharves presented a busy appearance.  At this time this town had strong hopes of becoming the metropolis of the state, and made efforts to divert the trade of Coos county and the Canadian towns beyond, from Portland to the Kennebec.  The building of the Atlantic & St. Lawrence railroad took away the trade of Oxford county, and destroyed all hopes of changing the direction of the markets for upper New Hampshire and Canada; the construction of the railroad to Farmington carried the Franklin county trade into another channel, and the building of the railroad from Waterville to Lewiston, by way of Winthrop, still further restricted the trade of Kennebec river towns and left them little more than a mere local business.
 
The book publishing business, which was at first started in Hallowell on a small scale, in process of time assumed large proportions. The founder was Ezekiel Goodale, whose book store stood where Leigh & Wingate’s store now is.  Mr. Goodale came here in 1802, and at this time there was no similar store between Portland and Bangor.  To his business he added a printing office in 1813, which was in a building at the foot of Academy street.  In 1819 he commenced the publication of the "Maine Farmer’s Almanac," an annual still issued by his successor.  In 1820 he took in as a partner, his nephew and clerk, Franklin Glazier.  Three years later Andrew Masters and Justin E. Smith were taken into the firm and the name and style became Masters, Glazier & Smith.  At one time Mr. John Merrick appears to have been in some way connected with the firm.
 
In 1857 Mr. Glazier retired from the firm, and from that time to 1880, the business was conducted by Andrew Masters and Danforth P. Livermore, under the firm name of Masters & Livermore.  In 1880 the office, including the "Maine Farmer’s Almanac," was sold to Charles E. Nash, and soon after moved to Augusta.  The books bearing the imprint of these several firms are very numerous, and probably exceed in number those of any other firm in the state.  They printed the Maine Reports, the Revised Statutes and many other law books, school books in great variety, town and other histories, volumes of poems, hundreds of pamphlets, and miscellaneous books of various kinds.  They published Williamson’s History of Maine and Perley’s Digest of debates in the convention that framed the constitution of the state.  They did their work thoroughly as the test of time abundantly shows.  Connected with their establishment was a bindery, which in the various styles of binding, kept abreast of the times.
 
One of the lost industries of Hallowell, and a very important one at the time, was the manufacture of pot and pearl ash.  Wood was the only article of fuel used, and the sale of wood ashes was an important source of income to farmers and others living in this vicinity. William Livermore manufactured and shipped very large quantities of the salts of potash in his day.
 
The power for propelling machinery in Hallowell is furnished by Vaughans stream, better known as Bombahook brook.  This stream is naturally small, and in modern times, steam power has been extensively used to supplement its limited capacity.  In ancient times the Vaughans had a brewery and a distillery at Sheppard’s point, and also a cotton mill, but none of these enterprises proved successful. The cotton factory building was long used by William Stickney and Simon Page as a whiting mill, and a portion of the building was cut away a few years ago because it interfered with the road.  There was also a rope walk at Sheppard’s point, conducted by Mr. Harlow. There was a linseed oil factory on Bombahook brook many years ago.  Fuller’s and McClinch’s foundries now occupy the place. George Fuller started the foundry business, and now his five son’s are continuing the business and prospering.  They also own the whiting mill on the Litchfield road.
 
Isaiah McClinch came here from Mt. Vernon and at first established a blacksmith shop.  He then built an iron foundry, in which he did an extensive business.  His son, George B. McClinch, and Mr. William A. Winter now conduct the business. The latter is now mayor of the city.
 
An important industry of Hallowell in the olden time was its fisheries.  Herring, shad and salmon were taken here in immense quantities, and the nicest salmon sold for from four to six cents per pound.  The fish left the Kennebec at this point many years ago, when the lumber mills were erected.
 
The oilcloth works on Hinckley’s point were first put in operation in 1840, by Samuel L. Berry.  In 1852 they were operated by Stickney & Page, in 1859 by Stickney, Page & Co., in 1868 by Page, Wilder & Co., and since 1872 by A. Wilder & Co.  Since Dr. Amos Wilder became connected with the industry, great additions and improvements have been made and its products now take very high rank.
 
The oilcloth factory operated by the four Sampson brothers, Edward, Henry, E. Pope and Alden, was started in 1840 by their father, Alden Sampson, who also operated large works in what is now Manchester.  Associated with him here was Elisha E. Rice, and his brother, William Sampson.  The factory building was burned and rebuilt in 1847.  It gives employment to forty-five men.
 
The tanning business has been an important Hallowell industry.  John Atkins and Phineas Sweetser were early engaged in the business.  Frank Atkins is still engaged in tanning.  Archibald Home was a noted man in this line of work, and was highly prosperous. He lived on Loudon hill, in the house now occupied by Samuel Walker.
 
A cotton mill, now idle, was erected at Hallowell in 1846, and with the exception of four years during the civil war and four other years since, has furnished employment there to a large number of families.  Among the early promoters were Justin E. Smith, John P. Flagg, Eben G. Dole, Captain Lawson Watts and C. D. Bachelder.  In 1886 the property passed into the hands of Samuel R. Payson, of Boston, and since 1887 has been known as the Kennebec River Mill.  The building is a substantial brick, with 15,616 spindles, requiring 200 operatives.  The looms have been chiefly run on regular sheetings.  Charles K. Howe, of Hallowell, became agent in 1890.
 
A large wire factory was started on Bombahook brook a few years ago.  Rev. H. F. Harding and Simon Page were the movers in the enterprise, which did not prove a success and was soon closed out.
 
Benjamin Tenney started the manufacture of sand paper here a few years ago, and the business is still carried on by him and others as a corporation.  The business has been highly prosperous.
 
Charles and Elias Milliken built a steam mill on Sheppard’s wharf, and the same is still operated by Elias Milliken & Sons, on an extensive scale.
 
The number of wharves in Hallowell, many of which are now going to decay, give some idea of the great amount of business done here in by-gone days.  Beginning at the south end of the city proper there was Sheppard’s, afterward Vaughan’s wharf, upon which the steam lumber mills now stand.  Next above is Lowell’s wharf, owned by Abner Lowell.  The next was known as West’s wharf, and the next, Clark’s.  David Sewall owned the next one, and William Livermore the next.  The next above was called Kennebec wharf, owned by the proprietors of Kennebec Row, and a packet line between here and Boston.  Here also was the town landing.  The next was Dummer’s wharf and here was the ferry.  Next and last was Wyman’s wharf, which was private property.  Lovejoy’s, afterward Bachelder’s wharf, has since been built.
 
The first stone from the Hallowell quarries was taken out by John Haines in 1815, and was used for millstones.  In 1820 the first of the product of the quarry was shipped and carried out of the state to be used for cornices of the Quincy Market, in Boston.  Much of the material for the state house in Augusta was taken from Haines’ quarry.  From John Haines the property descended to his son, Jonathan Haines.  In 1828 the property was sold to Winslow Hawkes, Levi Thing, John Gardiner and John Otis, the last named of whom finally obtained it, and at his death it was sold to A. G. Stinchfield, who disposed of it to J. R. Bodwell, Charles Wilson and William Wilson.  The southwest quarry was once worked by Dr. John Hubbard and Samuel Longfellow and was known as the Longfellow quarry.  Longfellow sold a large tract of land, including the quarry, to Mr. Bodwell.  The Hallowell Granite Company was organized in 1871.  This company and its successor, the Hallowell Granite Works, are noticed at... 
 
The Hallowell Savings Bank was chartered in April, 1854, and organized for business on the third of July.  The first president, Doctor Hubbard, was succeeded by Andrew Masters, and Justin E. Smith, who served until six years ago, when Eliphalet Rowell became president.  The treasurer is the venerable Judge Henry K. Baker, who has served since the bank was organized.  Eliphalet Rowell is now president and trustee, the other trustees being H. K. Baker, J. H. Leigh and Ben Tenney.
 
The Northern National Bank of Hallowell was chartered as No. 532, on the 13th of October, 1864, with an authorized capital of $100,000.  Alden Sampson, the first president, was succeeded by Simon Page, who served until 1879, when Justin E. Smith was elected, and served until January before his death, in April, 1888.  Since January, 1888, James H. Leigh has been the president. When Justin E. Smith became president the cashiership, which he had held from the organization of the bank, passed to his brother, George R. Smith.  In January, 1890, George A. Safford, who had been clerk in the bank, was made assistant cashier.
 
The American National Bank was chartered in 1864, and began business as No. 624 of the national series, with a capital stock of $75,000.  Austin D. Knight was its president until 1871, when Peter F. Sanborn was elected.  Mr. Sanborn held the office at the time of his death in 1883, when John Graves was elected president.  Mr. Knight, who had from the first given much attention to the management of the bank, succeeded A. H. Howard, the first cashier, in 1872, and held that position until the close of 1888, excepting a short interval filled by his nephew, Austin Perry.  On the first of January, 1889, Wallace H. Perry became the cashier.  He had been formerly assistant to his uncle, Judge Knight, and has been in the bank since 1887.  At the expiration of the charter in 1884, instead of running it under the same name, it became the Hallowell National Bank, No. 3,247, with a capital of $50,000, but with the same officers and essentially the same directors and the business continued at the same location.
 
(Source: Illustrated History of Kennebec County, Maine: eds.: Kingsbury, Deyo, H. W. Blake & Co., 1892: Chapter 19, Hallowell, Me., pp. 488b-516.)
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