Other Early Industries

Chapter 15 -- Part 11

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About 1895, Charles G. Marston and A. C. True started manufacturing wooden spindles, which were used by carriage and buggy makers, especially ones in Amesbury. In October 1901, they relocated from Exeter Road to a new and larger building adjacent to the depot. They closed the business in June 1905 and sold their buildings to the Irving Powers Company, a wholesale dealer of grain, flour, coal, hay, lime, and cement. The company built a grain elevator holding 6,000 bushels, a grist mill (producing Boar's Head flour), and hay scales. The 30-foot-high elevator had an automatic scoop for unloading freight cars in 20 to 30 minutes. The grain storage bins had a capacity of 15,000 bushels and the coal bins could handle 500 tons. In December 1907, fire destroyed the grain elevator and the grist mill, a loss of $12,000 with only $4,500 insurance. Soon after the fire, Hampton Coal and Grain Company formed to take over the site of the Irving Powers Company. The obituary of Thomas Cogger, who died in 1940, said he had bought out the Irving Powers Company and combined it with the DeLancey ice business and a general trucking business. Cogger built two business blocks in the village on the west side of Lafayette Road and was a leading businessman of the day.

Meanwhile, in July 1906, the Atlas Manufacturing Company set up in the shoe factory, manufacturing collapsible boxes for carrying lunches, etc. Called the Auto Folding Lunch Box, the large size sold for $1, the individual size for 50 cents. By the following June, the company announced that production was handicapped by a lack of help; 20 women were needed immediately. During a 10-day period in March 1908, the company shipped nearly 1,000 of its lunch boxes, but apparently that was not enough, because the company and its assets were sold at auction on July 23.

A small industry was Moses W. Brown's piano factory, located at 394 Winnacunnet Road. A native of Hampton, Brown first learned the mason's trade, then worked as a farmer. He was assisted in his career by Norman Marston, a piano tuner and bandleader for whom young Brown worked for two years as a farmer. Marston, who received a patent on a piano in 1892, learned of Brown's "fine ear" for music and in 1886 arranged for him to work at a piano company in Boston. During 10 years in the city, he learned tuning and became manager of a large piano factory. He built a large home in Hampton in 1890 but continued to work in Boston until 1895, when he began making pianos in a three-story shop behind his home. His first piano, sold to the North Adams (Massachusetts) Congregational Church, was described as "a fine instrument, an upright, seven and one-third octaves, encased in mahogany with silver trimmings, the finest of ivory keys, and has three pedals." By 1901, the factory was producing two upright pianos a week, with the cases made of double-veneered mahogany, rosewood, Hungarian ash, or oak. Brown also repaired other makes of pianos, did furniture refinishing, and had a bicycle shop. Brown's pianos were available for purchase at wholesale or retail. He also operated a piano rental business, delivering his instruments to various Hampton Beach hotels or cottages. One of his pianos is displayed in the Tuck Museum. Brown, who was born in 1858, continued to be listed as a piano manufacturer in town directories until 1941, although he probably had stopped making pianos in the late 1920s. He died in 1944.

Another small business was the Johnson Gravity Hook and Ladder Company. A patent was received in February 1910 by J. Austin Johnson of Hampton, who had been an employee of Moses Brown. Stillman Hobbs recalled seeing Johnson at the beach with his ladder mounted on a platform to demonstrate it in hopes of sales.

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