The Bay State Monthly, Volume 3, No. 2

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The Bay State Monthly, Volume
3, No. 2

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Title: The Bay State Monthly, Volume 3, No. 2
Author: Various
Release Date: February 9, 2006 [EBook #17722]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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[Illustration: Sylvester Marsh]

A Massachusetts Magazine.
VOL. III. MAY, 1885. NO. II.
* * * * *

By Charles Carleton Coffin.
There were few settlers in the Pemigewasset Valley when John Marsh
of East Haddam, Connecticut, at the close of the last century, with his
wife, Mehitable Percival Marsh, travelling up the valley of the
Merrimack, selected the town of Campton, New Hampshire, as their
future home. It was a humble home. Around them was the forest with
its lofty pines, gigantic oaks, and sturdy elms, to be leveled by the
stalwart blows of the vigorous young farmer. The first settlers of the
region endured many hardships--toiled early and late, but industry
brought its rewards. The forest disappeared; green fields appeared upon
the broad intervales and sunny hillsides. A troop of children came to
gladden the home. The ninth child of a family of eleven received the
name of Sylvester, born September 30, 1803.
The home was located among the foot-hills on the east bank of the
Pemigewasset; it looked out upon a wide expanse of meadow lands,
and upon mountains as delectable as those seen by the Christian
pilgrim from the palace Beautiful in Bunyan's matchless allegory.
It was a period ante-dating the employment of machinery.
Advancement was by brawn, rather than by brains. Three years before

the birth of Sylvester Marsh an Englishman, Arthur Scholfield,
determined to make America his home. He was a machinist. England
was building up her system of manufactures, starting out upon her great
career as a manufacturing nation determined to manufacture goods for
the civilized world, and especially for the United States. Parliament had
enacted a law prohibiting the carrying of machinist's tools out of Great
Britain. The young mechanic was compelled to leave his tools behind.
He had a retentive memory and active mind; he settled in Pittsfield,
Massachusetts, and set himself to work to construct a machine for the
carding of wool, which at that time was done wholly by hand. The
Pittsfield Sun of November 2, 1801, contained an advertisement of the
first carding machine constructed in the United States. Thus it read:
"Arthur Scholfield respectfully informs the inhabitants of Pittsfield and
the neighboring towns that he has a carding machine, half a mile west
of the meeting-house, where they may have their wool carded into rolls
for twelve and a half cents per pound; mixed, fifteen cents per pound. If
they find the grease and pick the grease in it will be ten cents per pound,
and twelve and a half mixed."
The first broadcloth manufactured in the United States was by
Scholfield in 1804, the wool being carded in his machine and woven by
In 1808 Scholfield manufactured thirteen yards of black broadcloth,
which was presented to James Madison, and from which his inaugural
suit was made. A few Merino sheep had been imported from France,
and Scholfield, obtaining the wool, and mixing it with the coarse wool
of the native sheep, produced what at that time was regarded as cloth of
superior fineness. The spinning was wholly by hand.
The time had come for a new departure in household economies. Up to
1809 all spinning was done by women and girls. This same obscure
county paper, the Pittsfield Sun, of January 4, 1809, contained an
account of a meeting of the citizens of that town to take measures for
the advancement of manufactures. The following resolution was passed:
"Resolved that the introduction of spinning-jennies, as is practiced in
England, into private families is strongly recommended, since one

person can manage by hand the operation of a crank that turns
twenty-four spindles."
This was the beginning of spinning by machinery in this country. This
boy at play--or rather, working--on the hill-side farm of Campton, was
in his seventh year. Not till he was nine did the first wheeled vehicle
make its appearance in the Pemigewasset valley. Society was in a
primitive condition. The only opportunity
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