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Overseers in Lowell's Textile Mills

Lowell Labor History

Jabez Edwards (1819-1893)

                                                    Portrait of Jabez Edwards

Lowell Historical Society "Album 3," p. 055.

Born in Weare, New Hampshire, in 1819, Jabez Edwards moved to Lowell in November 1834 and entered the Merrimack Mills within two days of his arrival to the city.1 In 1841, he was appointed overseer of the No. 2 Carding Room where he remained for 40 years.2 Edwards retired in August 1881, after 47 years with the Merrimack Corporation. Upon his retirement, mill agent Ludlum presented Edwards with a gold watch and chain, with the inscription: “Presented to Mr. Jabez Edwards by the Merrimack Manufacturing Company, in token of his long and faithful service, 1834-1881.”3 

Jabez Edward and Elizabeth H. Bean, born in 1819, were married by Rev. Theodore Edson of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church on October 23, 1839.4 They had a daughter, Elizabeth H. Edwards, born in Lowell in 1844. The family lived many years in a Merrimack Mills boardinghouse. By 1860, their household included Lucy Bean, age 65, the mother of Elizabeth, and Ann Kelly, a 21-year-old Irish servant. After Edwards retired from the Merrimack he and his wife lived in a house that he owned on Summer Street, across from the South Common. He died in 1893 from complications related to anemia.His wife and a servant continued to reside in the Summer Street house. In the 1900 federal census in Lowell, Elizabeth Edwards listed herself as a “capitalist,” perhaps owing to the real estate property that she inherited upon her husband’s death.She died in 1901.

“Industrial Notes,” Saturday Vox Populi, August 20, 1881.
“Overseers in the Mills,” Lowell Daily Courier, July 12, 1872.
“Fitting Testimonial,” Saturday Vox Populi, August 27, 1881.
“Married,” Lowell Advertiser, October 25, 1839.
5 Lowell Vital Records for 1893 

U.S. Census, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1900.