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Lowell History: Mill Management Letters

Samuel Batchelder 1826

Lowell Historical Society Written by Samuel Batchelder1 
To US Congressman Edward Everett2

Lowell3 Dec.6th 1826 
Hon. Edward Everett,

            I take the liberty of enclosing to you an application for the establishment of a daily mail between Boston and this place I am not sure but I may have mistaken the proper course, but I purpose it was within the authority of the Post Master General to negotiate the mails on existing post roads so far as may be necessary in this case. If any legislation is necessary you will oblige us by placing the business before the proper committee, and let me know if any further steps ought to be taken here, to effect our object. If the Post Master at Boston is to be consulted in the manner, there is no reason to suppose that he would be in favor of the arrangement~but you are sufficiently acquainted with the necessity of a daily communication between this place and Boston, to know that such a mail & would be a great convenience to the people with them and here. 
           Very Respectfully and truly 
           your obt. Servt 
           Sam Batchelder

[on bottom]

The proprietors of the daily stage from this place will contract to carry the mail daily between this place and 
Boston, without stopping at intermediate offices, at one hundred Dollars for the next year. 


1 Samuel Batchelder b: 8 Jun 1784, Jaffrey, NH d: 5 Feb 1879, Cambridge, MA; His early life was spent in New Ipswich, NH. In 1808 he open a cotton mill, which was the second built in New Hampshire. In 1825 he moved to Lowell, where he supervised the construction of the Hamilton Company - cotton mills. In 1831 he was went to Saco, Maine to build York Manufacturing Company cotton mill and to superintend its operations. In 1846 he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts were he served as a representative in the Massachusetts Legislature. He also continued his relations with the textile mills, as president of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company, the Appleton Company, the Essex Company, the Everett Mills, the York Manufacturing Company, and the Exeter Manufacturing Company.  
2 Edward Everett b: 11 Apr 1794, Dorchester, MA d: 15 Jan 1865, Boston, MA; graduated from Harvard University in 1811; minister Brattle Street Unitarian Church, Boston, in 1814; professor of Greek literature at Harvard University 1815-1826; U.S. Congress 1825-1835; Governor of Massachusetts 1836-1840; United States Ambassador to Great Britain 1841-1845; president of Harvard University 1846-1849; Secretary of State 1852-1853; United States Senate 1853-1854; unsuccessful candidate for vice president of the United States 1860. 
3 Lowell, Massachusetts. 

John Clark 1847

Lowell Historical Society 
Transcribed by University of Massachusetts Lowell, Center For Lowell History.

Lowell  July 27, 1847 
Jesse Huse Esq.

                         Dr. Sir,

                         Understanding that you intend to visit a section of the States of Vermont, & New-York, I will thank you to engage for the Merrimack Company any smart, active & healthy girls whom you may happen to meet who would like to come to Lowell. We can give employment to from 50 to 100 girls, at the usual wages paid in this place. our custom is to pay to new hands one dollar per week, & board in the Weaving & Dressing Rooms, & one dollar & a half & board, in the Carding & Spinning Rooms, until they can 
tend the Machines without assistance. After that they are paid for all the work they can get off: & of course some earn more & some less, according to their industry & skill. The wages vary from one dollar & a half to 3 dollars a week, averaging perhaps 2 dollars to 2.25 per week. I wish you to make no exaggerated statements with regard to wages, nor raise any extravagant expectations which will be likely to be disappointed.  I know this is often done, & I wish it carefully avoided. We can employ none under 15 years of age, & those of weakly or sickly constitutions should not be encouraged to come.  If any are desirous of coming to Lowell & have not the means of paying the expense of the journey I am willing you should advance the means of paying their expenses, or pay them for them; but you will give them distinctly to understand that such sums are loaned , not given, & that we shall expect them to repay the amount out of their wages, as soon, & as fast, as they can conveniently do it. You will please engage only such persons as sustain a good character; and as you may think will approve useful hands to the company, and all such as you may judge it expedient to engage, we will employ on their arrival.

                                  Yours very Trruly 
                                  John Clark 
                                  Supt. Merk. Mfg.Co.

Samuel Lawrence 1847

From Samuel Lawrence to the Mill Agent in Lawrence, Massachusetts.       

Lowell Massachusetts 6th 1847

My Dear Sir

Huldah I. Stone a radical of the worst sort & late Editor of the Voice of Industry intends to get a Boarding 
House at the New City. I write this to warn you “to keep hands off of her.”

           Yours most truly 
           Saml. Lawrence


Note: this letter is held by Cornell University's Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives where you can also view a digital scan of the original.


John Carver Palfrey 1865

University of Massachusetts Lowell1, Center for Lowell History2

From John Carver Palfrey to Doctor Steven W. Driver

            Merrimack Man Company3 
            Lowell4 Nov. 8th 1865

Dr. S.W. Driver

My dear Doctor,

            I git your kind note yesterday and it gave me great pleasure. I am very glad you have such pleasant recollections of our Ship Island Life.

            I have been here a fort-night, hard at work, but a good deal interested in the beautiful machinery and the regularity of the place. I find myself in a very conspicuous and responsible position, and my usual luck of plenty of work follows me. I have a command of force 1800 people mostly women who I consider about equivalent to an Army Corps. My duties include the regulation & care of these boardinghouses as well as the Mills. However I am well paid, and the life, though meritorious, promises to be [unclear] and useful, and I hope I did wisely in resigning. My Army accounts are [unclear] and unsettled, & my resignation is not yet acted on, but is promised by Mr. Stanton [?]

            A fine house is one of my prerequisites. I have boundless room & very little to put in it. However I am going to move in directly, & start a mess as soon as I can get a cook. After I get unpacked & straighten out, I shall insist in your coming up to pass some Sunday with me. I stole & brought home my old Ship Island gun, and I have also some stereoscopes f the sacred spot wh. will interest you.

           I had a little fever in August after leaving Texas, but now am very hearty once more. I do not pay much attention to the ravings of people in transition States. If you were only unengaged or married, your tesimony would be entitled to credit. One of my sisters will generally be with me to look after housekeeping, and I am as far from the Temple of Hymen as ever. I will maintain in confidence however that the abundance of bloom in young women here, & the unmistakeable love-making in the streets is not favorable to asceticism, & this or some change of life had rather affected my refiner since my return.

            I have just gone up another peg - brevet colonel, regular army for conduct at Mobile City & Spanish Fort of wh. I can be quite proud.

            I will see you some Sunday. I cannot well tell when, as I am unsettled in living & a [unclear] deal tied down here.

           Ever Yours Truly, 
           John C. Palfrey 


[on cover] 
Nov 8 
Lowell Mas

1 Transcribed by the University of Lowell, Center for Lowell History. 
2 John Carver Palfrey b: 25 Dec 1833, Cambridge, MA d: 1906, Belmont, MA; parents: John Gorham Palfrey and Mary Ann Hammond; West Point engineer: Civil War served with Benjamin F. Butler on Ship Island in Mississippi during the Civil War; Agent:  Merrimack Manufacturing Company – cotton mill; married 21 Oct 1874 Adelaide Eliza Payson b: May 1838, Roxbury, MA; parents Samuel and Hannah Payson. 
3 Merrimack Manufacturing Company – cotton mill. 
4 Lowell, Massachusetts.

Nauman G. Sway, 1852

Lowell Historical Society Lowell Museum Collection 
Transcribed: University of Massachusetts Lowell, Center for Lowell History

           Have sent you a piece of Gold that come out of one claim in this letter 

           Gods Valley    California, March 7th 1852

           Mr. Jefferson Bancroft  Dear Sir, According to promise of writing you, I took the first opportunity after locating ourselves in the mines. We arrived at Sanfrancisco the 5th of Feb. 31 days from New York we had a rough passage on the Atlantic we had a pleasant time of going up the river & crossing the land also on the Pacific to Sanfrancisco. We arrived their all well, was sea sick most of the ways, my health never was better than at the present, my appetite is very craving since I have been on the land. I have gained ten pounds & Woodbury gained twenty pounds on the passage. We saw J.G. Gilman & Kiteridge the blacksmith & some other Lowell men, all well & doing well I should think, we left that place on Saturday following for Sacramento, saw Bert Moore & young Bush both well Moore & his partner has bought the Orleans House, 
they are to pay eighty thousand dollars for it took possession on Monday the day we was there, we left on Tuesday for the mines. we rode some twenty miles in a two mule wagon to a mining town called Auburn. 
there we saw the boys taking out some of the yellow stuff, than we started with our packs on our backs for the American River. Hear we amongst the mountains the roads were better than I expected with the 
exception of the hills some of them are very long & steep, we arrived about dark at Smith Ranch on the divide of the north & middle fork of the American River, here we stopped & prospected. we found some Lowell men near this place, on the north fork we have taken up six claims to work this summer when the river is low we worked a few days the water troubled us & we had to stop work. I wrote a notice and put on our windless claiming, all right to work them when workable that makes some of the law we have in this  
Country. We left the river & came back to Smith’s this we make a kind 
of a home. there was two men that took a notion to go with Woodbury & myself they came out in the ship with us they worked with us on the river they got discouraged & left us so Woodbury & I couldn’t sink the hole any deeper it is true the water come in very fast we should like to have put it down to the bed rock. we expected rain every day and the river would be still higher so it was very important we should have a claim in the dry digins. we prospected a few days couldn’t find any thing we thought would pay these two men left & went to the city. a great many when they first come in get discouraged and leave for the city stop there a while then come back to the mines. Soon after they left us we found a claim & have commenced working it we think it will pay us very well. the claim is in the dry digins. business has been very dull in the dry digins. most of the mines 
have been on the rivers there has been no rain this winter so they could work there dirt in the dry digins.  there is thousands & thousands of dollars thrown up in the dirt ready for washing. there will be plenty of water now in the dry digins, it commenced raining a week ago & has rained day & night all the time. they say it looks likely to rain a week or fortnight longer. they think the rivers will be higher than they were in forty-nine. if it rains next week it will drown them all out of Sacramento City, this claim where we are to work is in the Gods Valley, four miles from Smith Ranch (that is Smiths House) on the divide of the north & Middle fork of the American River, we probably will stop here or near here this season so if you know of any body coming on to the American River you can direct them where they can find us. I feel certain that we shall so well if we have our letters. this is called a very healthy climate our exposure is nothing as it was in forty-nine & fifty. we have plenty of houses plenty of provisions of all kinds. vegetables of all kinds the the best in the world the best potatoes that I ever saw. Clothing Boots & Shoes tools of all kinds are a great deal Higher than we were told in the States.   


I have written to my Wife three letters since I left home. I rote to her when we left the Promethus & rote her at Sacramento & rote to her from this place. I expect to get a letter from her next week have not received any yet. I want to hear from my Wife & little daughter very much. this has been a lonely week it has rained all the time day & night haven’t done any work this week. hope we can o to work next week. I should soon get homesick in this Country if  I couldn’t work. there are thousands here that don’t work much they work get one hundred dollars than lays round some House and gamble until that’s gone then go to work again and some men that have been out here ever since forty-nine. thousands of them they haven’t money enough to get Home. Drinking & playing Cards is the sum of so many having bad luck in California. there are some other reasons that some don’t do anything. Some travel about prospecting from one mine to the other hearing of rich digins, but if a man has his health & lets these things alone he can make moneys in this Country, there is no mistake about it. I am satisfied my self that I can make Money if I have my helth. I rote to my wife to send me out some things that I need very much or shall need I want you should see her & if she wants any assistance to let her have it. I shall send her some money before a great while I expect. the prospects look favorable for us. I want you to write me & direct your letter to Sacramento City the express comes up to the Valley once a fortnight. we are about 75 miles from the City of Sac. How is Mrs. Bancroft & the children. give my respects to them & have them call over & See my wife. I shall write you in the next letter more particulars of our successes and what our Claim pays. we haven’t worked it enough to tell it pays us day wages so far & we are doing as well as could be expected for this season of the year.

            Give my love to my wife and little daughter when you see her 
            Respectfully Yours   Nauman G. Swasey  
            To  Jefferson Bancroft Esq