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Aldrich and Hapgood

Company History

Milton Aldrich and Ephraim Hapgood were listed for the first time in 1845 in the Lowell City Directories (LCD). They were shuttle makers, initially in Mechanic Mills on Dutton Street; in '47 in Middle Street; in '49, in Howe Street. In 1851, they listed their product as power-loom and carpet shuttles.

In '53, Hapgood was listed as part of Whitten, Hapgood, and Co., dealing in stoves. In '58, his work was listed as junk dealer. He will play no further part in our history.

Through the kindness of Gregory Cangialosi [], I have seen and examined a clamp marked "Aldrich and Hapgood". Apparently, at some time between '45, and '53, they included clamps among their products. Certainly, the tools and materials needed for making shuttles, and for making clamps, are very similar.

We might speculate that it was a late product, that Aldrich saw its potential, and formed his own firm to exploit this opportunity. It's a shame that the '52 LCD is missing.

Milton and William Aldrich of Lowell MA

Company History

In 1853, Milton Aldrich was a wooden screw manufacturer, located in O. Allen's Mill, and he continued there until 1866. In that year, Aldrich was listed, still as a wood screw manufacturer, but located in Mechanics Mills, on Dutton. His sons, Nelson T. and William K. Aldrich, were also listed as wood screw makers; later, they were joined by his third son, E. True Aldrich.

In '76, William K. was listed as Foreman in his father's firm. (By this time, the other sons no longer worked in the firm.)

In '80, the firm had an advertisement on page 567 of the LCD; they were the only firm to advertise under the heading "wood screws". The text of the ad was unchanged, although the layout and typography varied slightly, until after 1890.

In 1884, Milton retired (at age 69), and William ran the business thereafter. In the Lowell Year Books of '84, through '92, the Aldrich firm was said to employ from 7 to 10 hands.

In 1903, William organized William K. Aldrich Company, successor to Milton Aldrich, doing business at the same address. An ad that year in the LCD gave the dates of 1844 through 1884 for the predecessor firm. William continued to use his father's mark on the clamps. This makes it impossible to distinguish clamps from the two firms, unless a clamp bears a paper label.

When William took over, the major products were wooden hand and bench screws, cabinet and piano-forte clamps. The 1903 issue of the LCD illustrates 4 bench screws, 4 pianoforte clamps, and 10 hand screws. This same illustration was used from then on, with only slightly different text.

In 1910, the product list added malleable iron clamps, steel bar clamps, vises, and mill baskets. Clearly, wooden clamps were in transition.

The firm stayed in the A. L. Brooks building (previously known as Mechanics Mills) at 587 Dutton until 1917. After three fires at these premises, William believed that place was his "hoodoo" and he moved to an address he thought immune from fires. He chose the Cady Building on nearby Western Avenue. The firm continued until 19 March 1918, when "the most spectacular fire Lowell has seen in years" destroyed major parts of the Cady Building. William died in the fire. The firm ended with him.

Personal Histories

Ephraim Hapgood

At this time, nothing is known.

Milton Aldrich

Milton Aldrich was born in Douglas Massachusetts in 1815, and came to Lowell in 1833. He was first employed in the Lowell Machine Shop and assisted in the construction of the first locomotive there for the Boston and Lowell railroad. There was no listing for him in the city directory before 1840. But in 1841, he boarded at 30 Merrimack, with no occupation listed. In 1842, he worked at George W. Fiske's, a bobbin and shuttle maker in Mechanic Mills, and lived on Church Street, near Law. He continued there through 1844. From '45 to '51, his home was on Ash.

In 1853, Aldrich's house was at 1 Branch. In '55, his address was the rear of 33 Branch, later re-numbered to 60 Branch, and he continued to live there for the rest of his life.

On 10 June 1890, Milton Aldrich died, after two or three years of poor health. His obituary described him as

an upright, conscientious man, patient and indulgent as a husband and father, and has struggled against adversities such as few men encounter. He was an intelligent man and a most interesting conversationalist.... He was burned out several times, once losing all he had, and several years ago he lost one of his arms.

His widow, Hannah G. T. Aldrich, was born in Franklin New Hampshire in 1813, married in '43?, and lived at 60 Branch until her death. On 8 September 1895, she died from a fall down stairs.

William K Aldrich

William K was born 5 December 1844. In 1866, he boarded at home, and was listed as wood screw maker, at Mechanics Mills on Dutton, working for his father. In '76, William became Foreman in his father's firm, and in '84, he took over the business from his father.

As Lowell grew, a number of new streets were developed. In the 4 decades from 1874 to 1918, William boarded or lived in a number of houses in the neighborhood. In '74, William K lived at 37 Branch. In '78, he lived at the rear of 60 Branch, the family home. In '80, he boarded at 2 Leroy; from '81 through '84, he lived at 10 Coral; in '84, at 111 Appleton; in '85 through '86, at 56 Branch. In '03, he lived at 8 Coral; in '10, at 24 Leroy; in '15, at 4 Grove, until his death. None of these locations are more than a few blocks from his birthplace, and the firm was within walking distance.

He died in the fire of 19 March 1918; he was napping in a back office after lunch, and apparently was not able to escape . His obituary does not mention any family, except for his brother, Doctor Eban True Aldrich of Boston.

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