Amoskeag Manufacturing

Amoskeag, or Namaskeak, is said to mean “great fishing place.” It was hereabouts that the Sachem Wannalancet resided. Tradition says that his tribe, when at war with the Mohawks, concealed their provisions in the cavities of the rocks in the upper part of these falls.

Henry David Thoreau

The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company was a textile manufacturer which founded Manchester, New Hampshire. From modest beginnings in near wilderness, it grew throughout the 19th century into the largest cotton textile plant in the world. At its peak, Amoskeag was unrivaled both for the quality and quantity of its products. But with great size came an inability to adapt. In the early 20th century, the business failed in changing economic and social conditions.

In May 1807, Samuel Blodget completed a canal and lock system beside the Merrimack River at Derryfield. His enterprise allowed boats traveling between Concord and Nashua to bypass Amoskeag Falls, opening the region to development. Blodget envisioned here “the Manchester of America,” a water-powered textile center comparable to the Industrial Revolution English city he had recently visited. The name stuck, and in 1810 Derryfield was changed to Manchester. That same year, Benjamin Prichard and others incorporated the Amoskeag Cotton & Woolen Manufacturing Company. 

Amoskeag Manufacturing Company entry in Wikipedia

The mill girl is is an icon of the mill towns along the Merrimack. Often working essentially from sunrise to sunset six days a week and often starting to work in the mills at ten years old they provided essential labor and they lived working lives that few can imagine nowadays. Here is a trailer for our piece on the mills and the workers.

Ella’s Story is a brief video about one girl who moved from Canada to Manchester with her familyElla’s story was repeated in its broad strokes thousands of times. Ella sits wearing a bow in her hair for a portrait with her family in 1903.

Ella family P1200405 small

In Manchester Heartbreak we raise one of the troubling aspects of the explosive growth of mill cities – coping with with the stress of urban living. Suicide was one consequence of the confusions of this new way of life. New Hampshire songwriter and poet John Perrault wrote a haunting song about such a suicide; he graciously contributed it to our video project and participated in the design of the video.   https://www.nhhistory.org/Store/Historical-New-Hampshire/Historical-New-Hampshire,-Volume-69,-No-3,-Fall-2

LOC millyard and canal 1880
Millyard and Canal 1880- LOC

https://vimeo.com/243975857

 

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