Early Manufacturing in Lamoille County, Vermont

The first manufacturing in the county was purely domestic. It was in the early days when the beautiful spring weather always found the men busy at the ” break and swingle-board,” and within doors the busy hum of hetcheling, carding, and spinning, was constantly heard. The early settlers were obliged to raise their flax and manufacture their own wearing apparel, for it must be remembered it then required sixty-four bushels of barley to buy one yard of broadcloth, and one bushel of wheat to purchase a yard of calico. The first general business and article of commerce was potash or salts of lye, which was manufactured in every town. Following this, as grain became more abundant, was the manufacture of distilled liquors. This business was carried on quite extensively, there being at one time ten distilleries in the town of Cambridge alone. The great mart for this article was at Montreal. Next came the hemp trade. A large manufactory for dressing the hemp for market was erected in Waterville; but this soon died out and the factory was converted into a woolen-mill. The manufacture of starch has also been conducted quite extensively, and is carried on to a considerable degree at the present time. All through this period, however, as is common in all timbered districts, the manufacture of lumber has received great attention. The principal manufacturing interests of to-day are lumber, in its various branches, starch, woolen goods, butter, cheese, etc., all of which will be found noted in connection with the sketches of the several towns wherein they are conducted. According to the United States census report of 1870, the county had 106 manufacturing establishments, operated by four steam engines and eighty-one’ water-wheels, giving employment to 255 persons. There were $229,975.00 invested in manufacturing interests, while the manufactured products were valued at $403,825,00.


Child, Hamilton; Gazetteer and business directory of Lamoille and Orleans counties, Vt., for 1883-84; Syracuse, N.Y., H. Child, 1883.

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