Archive:The Descendants of John Whitney, page 143

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The Descendants of John Whitney, Who Came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635, by Frederick Clifton Pierce (Chicago: 1895)

Transcribed by the Whitney Research Group, 1999.


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WHITNEY GENEALOGY. 143

his native town, and worked on his father's farm till nearly 20 years of age. In 1824 he began work as an apprentice in James M. COMEE's chair shop in Fitchburg, but the same year he began business for himself, driving to Boston as often as he had a horse load finished, and selling them. The Fitchburg Sentinel says of Mr. HEYWOOD, and the growth of the chair business in Fitchburg: In 1827 his brother, William commenced working with him and they employed from 15 to 20 hands. In 1830 he formed a partnership with three others, his brother, Benjamin F., who had been a merchant in Gardner, Moses WOOD, afterward president of the Rollstone Bank, and James W. GATES. The firm carried on the chair business, and opened a store in Gardner for the sale of groceries and dry goods. They also established a store in Boston for for the sale of chairs. The business was successfully conducted in its various branches till about 1835, when the part- nership was dissolved, Messrs. WOOD and GATES retiring from the firm, and Mr. HEYWOOD severed his relation with the store at Boston. A new company was formed, consisting of Levi, Benjamin F., Walter and William HEYWOOD and W. R. CARNES. A large shop was erected on land now occupied by the facto- ries of Heywood Brothers & Co., and the company entered into the manufacture of chairs on an extensive scale. In 1841 Wal- ter HEYWOOD sold his interest in the business and removed to Fitchburg, in company with Leander P. COMEE he, in 1842, built the block on Main street more recently known as Sprague & Comee's block, and in 1842 the firm opened a store for the sale of dry goods, groceries, hardware and other merchandise at the salesrooms now occupied by L. Sprague & Co. In the fall of 1844 the firm hired a part of the "Old Red Mill" on West street, since used as a cotton factory by H. W. Pitts & Son, and commenced to manufacture chairs, employing about ten hands. In 1846 the chair business was removed to the upper story of a new building which Alvah CROCKER had erected on Water street, on the spot now occupied by the Fitchburg Steam Engine Company's shop. This shop was burned Dec. 7, 1849, and the firm lost heavily by the fire. The partnership was then dissolved, and Mr. HEYWOOD directed his whole attention to the manufacture of chairs. Mr. CROCKER erected a new build- ing, 130 x 40 feet and three stories high, on the site of the burned shop, and Mr. HEYWOOD hired the whole of the new building. In 1852 he received as partners Alton BLODGETT who had entered his employ in 1833, and who continued a member of the com- pany until his death, Sept. 19, 1878; Lovell WILLIAMS, still a member of the company, and George E. TOWNE, who continued with the company until 1874, when he disposed of his interest to H. A. BLOOD. G. H. SPENCER, the present superintendnet of the works, was admitted to the firm in 1864. Soon after the new company was formed they erected two large buildings in the rear of the shop, on land leased of Mr. CROCKER, and with in- creased facilities they greatly enlarged their business. In 1856 the firm opened a foreign trade, which eventually extended to England and the continent of Europe, the West Indies, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, China and Japan. The Walter Heywood Chair Company was organized as a stock company under a special act of the legislature, May 31, 1869, with a capital of $240,000. On the night of July 21, 1870, the most destructive conflagration that ever visited Fitchburg laid the entire establishment in ruins. Fortunately the loss on the chair company's property was fully covered by insurance, and preparations were made shortly after the fire to rebuild the works on a scale unprecedented in this branch of manufactures. The location of this important industry excited much interest. A lot of nine acres on River street was at length purchased, and the present commodious buildings were erected. At present

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