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Franklin's role in the industrial revolution presentation



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  • Alan Procknow, a senior majoring in History at Dean College, presented this study during the Holiday Stroll at the Franklin Historical Museum, Thursday Nov 29, 2012.
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  • My research centers on Franklin in the 1800s and the textile mills of that period . Franklin’s Industrial Revolution began with its textile mills.
  • First successful water-powered cotton spinning mill in Pawtucket at Slater Mill in 1790. The spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship quickly spread from nearby Blackstone Valley to Franklin.
  • This is a map of the Blackstone River Corridor. Notice Franklin’s proximity to the Blackstone Valley Town of Franklin incorporates in 1778, originally was part of Wrentham , and a few decades later , Franklin’s Industrial Revolution begins …..
  • I am sure that you all are familiar with the” Hats off to Franklin” statue that stands outside this building. The straw hat that the man is holding represent the straw goods industry in Franklin.
  • The straw industry is an early example of artisans leaving their homes to work in factories. Davis Thayer ran one of the oldest straw factories in the state ( Blake, 78).
  • This is a 1858 map of Franklin showing City Mills as part of Franklin. City Mills was part of Franklin until 1870 when it became part of the Town of Norfolk ( cite). On this map , I show the two most important mill villages within Franklin- Unionville and City Mills.
  • This is a picture of City Mills in the early 1900s, notice the smoke rising from the smokestacks in the background.
  • Charles River provides water power for the early textile mills of City Mills.
  • More efficient and powerful steam engines begin to replace water wheel power generated by falling rivers . Therefore , factories may be located in places other than along rivers ( for example many were conveniently located near railroads) One of the most important inventions relating to Franklin’s industry is the Shoddy Picker. This machine shreds woolen cloth into fibers which were then respun into shoddy. There was a multitude of uses for shoddy- it lined piano keys, shoes, gloves, shoulder pads , saddles and was made into carpets and blankets, etc. Demand for shoddy shoots up during the Civil War as the supply of Southern cotton is cut off , and shoddy is made into blankets and uniforms for soldiers ( cite ) .
  • This is a photograph of a shoddy picker from about 1860 (Johnston, 103).
  • Waite is a pioneer in felt manufacturing and makes a fortune by partnering with others to establish felt mills as well as establishing felt mills of his own. Enoch Waite connects the Ray Brother’s to the felt industry
  • In 1826, Dean moves to Manchester, NH to make his fortune as one of the owners of the huge Amoskeag textile mills and eight years later , he moves back to Franklin as a wealthy man( Vignettes of Dean and Reflections, 1).
  • Harry T. Hayward owned a number of textile mills including one in Franklin
  • In the later half of the 1800, there is less emphasis on cotton ( manufacturing ) , especially due to the Civil war when raw cotton from the South was unavailable However, straw goods and the wool industries thrive during this time.
  • This is an example if a thriving straw goods company ( Snow and Bassett). This picture a drawing from the 1888. ( Earls, 85).
  • In order to decrease competition, the textile industry consolidates throughout New England. This trend directly effects Franklin’s wool mills.
  • This is a picture of the Ray Mill , circa 1900, when it purchased by the American Woolen Company ( A Sketch of the Mills)
  • Both banks and railroads are very tied to Industrial Revolution in that railroads transported the goods and banks provided the capital for the manufacturing companies.
  • Much of Franklin ‘s growth during this time is due to its Industrial Revolution . Much of Franklin growth occurs from 1870 to 1910 which is the height of its Industrial Revolution.
  • Some of Franklin’s population growth is due to immigrants moving into town to work in the textile mills and the Norfolk Railroad which was built to serve the mills. As the Industrial Revolution in Franklin takes off in terms of more and larger factories and a new Railroad, more immigrants arrive in Franklin. “ Previous to the year 1848, there were no Roman Catholics in the town of Franklin. In the following year, however, two families took up residence here, and shortly after a number of employees of the Norfolk Railroad Company became permanent residents in the town” (Blake, 34).
  • Photo from Images of Franklin ( Johnston, 42).
  • Like workers in other New England mill towns , some laborers live in factory owned housing. These are two example of factory owned housing.
  • Franklin’s industrialists become very wealthy from their interests in textile mills, railroads. These men generously donate money to establish institutions which benefit the citizens of Franklin.
  • This photograph is the Ray Library which was dedicated in 1904 (Johnston, 22).
  • Fire stations such as this one were important to the textile industry in Franklin since tiny air borne fibers were highly combustible. Mills burned and were built several times .
  • Dr. Dean donated the land and money for Dean Academy. This picture is from1878 (Johnston, 81).
  • I want to thank the Historical Commission and especially Mr. Earls for this opportunity to make this presentation. Thank You.


  • 1. Franklins Industrial Revolution Alan Procknow November 2012 1
  • 2. Franklin- Advantageous Location• Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in nearby Blackstone Valley.• Franklin located in the watershed between Charles and Blackstone Rivers• Franklin central to Boston-Providence axis with large ports and markets 2
  • 3. Franklin - Early Entrant into Industrial Revolution •Franklin •Pawtucket 3
  • 4. Franklins First Industry - Straw Goods 4
  • 5. Straw Goods Moves from Cottage Industry to Factory Production• About 1800 - braiding straw bonnets become fashionable (Blake, 38)• By 1812- Asa and Davis Thayer begin manufacturing bonnets ( Blake, 38)• Other early straw manufactures include Albert Early (Blake, 84), Henry M. Green (Blake, 88), Milton Metcalf Fisher (Blake, 39)• By 1869 - Franklin has 7 factories producing 500,000 hats a year( Blake, 39) 5
  • 6. 1858 Map of Franklin •City Mills•Unionville 6
  • 7. City Mills 7
  • 8. City Mills-Site of First Textile Mills• City Mills - part of Franklin until 1870• Early 1800s - Dr. Nathaniel Miller ( Blake, 22), Eli Richardson (Virtualnorfolk .org), Alexander Dewitt (Blake 51), Henry Greene (Blake, 88) and James P. Ray (Genealogy of James P. Ray) establish small cotton mills• Unionville also develops into a mill village 8
  • 9. Steam Engines, Railroads, and New Machinery Fuel Growth• Steam engines allow for larger factories than those supported by small rivers• Factories sited near railroads for easy transportation, Norfolk Co. Railroad connects Franklin to Boston and Woonsocket in 1849 (MHC, 4)• New machines increase output, shoddy picker probably first used by Ray Brothers in 1849 (Blake 39) 9
  • 10. Shoddy Picker 10
  • 11. Enoch Waite-First Manufacturer of Felt in America• Learns felt trade in England and in 1849 comes to the U.S. at age 15 (Cook, 175)• Helps to establish felt mills throughout New England (Cook, 175)• In 1874, opens felt mill in Franklin (Cook, 175)• Around 1884, Waite opens felt mill for F.B. Ray (Cook, 175) 11
  • 12. Ray Brothers Prominence in Franklin’s Textile Industry• Establishes many cotton and wool mills in Franklin• Manufactures various cottons and woolen textiles ranging from fine cotton satinets to cotton batting to fine woolen cashmeres to shoddy• Wool industry surpasses the cotton industry• Shoddy wool becomes the most successful line of textile manufacturing 12
  • 13. Some Other Major Industrialists• Harry T. Hayward, owner of many factories including woolen factory in Franklin (American Textile Report)• Dr. Oliver Dean, an owner of Amoskeag Mills, one of the largest mills in New England (Blake, 51) 13
  • 14. Hayward Woolen Mill 14
  • 15. Latter Half of 1800’s• By 1865, only one cotton factory left (MHC, 4)• By 1870, straw goods peak with seven factories (MHC, 4)• By 1878, felt industry is largest in town (Blake, 73) 15
  • 16. Snow, Bassett Straw Goods Company 16
  • 17. Consolidation• Waite’s Felting Company of Franklin consolidates with other felting companies creating the American Felting Company (Cook, 176)• In 1899, the American Woolen Company is formed. It controls a large share of the US woolen industry including Ray Woolen Mills of Franklin (A Sketch of the Mills, 7)• Joseph G. Ray becomes Vice President of powerful American Woolen Company (A Sketch of the Mills, 7) 17
  • 18. Ray Mill 18
  • 19. With Consolidation Wealth Becomes Concentrated• In addition to textile mills, major industrialists also owned railroads and banks – Franklin National Bank (James F. Ray) (Dean Reflections, 18) – Benjamin Franklin’s Society Bank (Joseph Ray) (Dean Reflections, 18) – Railroad Company Owner (Harry T. Hayward) (Johnston, 104) – Norfolk County Railroad (Ray) (Genealogy of Ray Family) 19
  • 20. Industry Spurs Population Growth 1790 1810 1830 1850 1870 1890 1910Population 1,101 1,398 1,662 1,818 2,512 4,831 15,641 Percent --- 27% 19% 9% 38% 92% 324% Growth Source: US Census 20
  • 21. Immigrant Workers• Prior to 1870, only 10% of population is foreign born, Irish are the largest group (MHC, 4)• St. Mary’s Catholic Church forms to serve Irish population• After 1875, more rapid growth of foreign born population (MHC, 5)• By the turn of the century, more Italians move to Franklin (MHC, 5) 21
  • 22. St. Mary’s Church 22
  • 23. Factory Owned Housing• In 1900, 17 tenant houses in City Mills (• Joseph G. Ray’s Wool Mill, “Attached to the plant are 12 tenement houses for use of the operatives” (A Sketch of the Mills, 114) 23
  • 24. Philanthropy• Franklin benefits from industrialists’ wealth• Dean Academy (1865) - Dr. Oliver Dean• Ray Memorial Library (1904) - Ray Family• J. G. Fire Station (1924) - Ray Family 24
  • 25. Ray Memorial Library 25
  • 26. Ray Fire Station 26
  • 27. Dean Academy 27
  • 28. Conclusions• During the 1800’s, Franklin transformed from a primarily rural town to an industrial one• Today, Franklin is home to two industrial parks which include many Research and Development, Manufacturing and Distribution Companies• Franklin’s industrial legacy lives on…. 28
  • 29. Works Cited• American, Woolen Company. Sketch of the Mills of the American Woolen Company. [S.l.]: General, 2010. Print.• Blake, Mortimer. A History of the Town of Franklin, Mass.; from Its Settlement to the Completion of Its First Century, 2d March, 1878; with Genealogical Notices of Its Earliest Families, Sketches of Its Professional Men. Franklin, MA: Pub. by the Committee of the Town, 1878. Print.• Cook, Louis A. History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, 1622-1918. New York: The S. J. Clark Publishing Company, 1918. Print.• Cutter, William Richard, 1847-1918, ed.; Adams, William Frederick, B. 1848, joint ed. Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the state of Massachusetts; Volume: 2. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. 1910. Print. 29
  • 30. Works Cited• Earls, Alan R. Franklin. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 2009. Print.• Galvin, William F. "MHC Reconnaissance Survey Town Report: Franklin." Http:// N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <> .• Johnston, James C., Jr. Images of America Franklin. Charleston: Arcadia Pub., 1996. Print.• “ - The Town of Norfolk." – Norfolk Mills and Village Histories. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. < Villages>. 30