Such were the beginnings of a business career of great prosperity. It was in these ways that he got his start in life, and in these lesser employments he proved himself worthy of and equal to the greater tasks yet before him. Here he showed the same judgment and far-sighted wisdom, which have marked his career in the larger, more conspicuous circles of the business world, and won him a name which is everywhere repeated with respect, and a reputation for integrity and honest dealing which any man might covet.
In 1853 Mr. Wallace came to Fitchburg and entered upon that period which, for convenience, I have named his business life. He formed a co-partnership with Stephen Shepley, known as Shepley and Wallace. They were wholesale dealers in books, stationery, paper-stock, and cotton-waste. This firm continued under the name of Shepley and Wallace, and R. Wallace and Co. till July 1, 1865. On this day the firm dissolved, and the business was divided. Mr. Wallace took the department of paper-stock and cotton-waste, which he still carries on. To what proportions it has grown, under his management, may be judged from the fact that the business done amounts at least to $200,000 a year.
December 31, 1864, Stephen Shepley, Benjamin Snow, and Rodney Wallace bought the Lyon Paper Mill and the Kimball Scythe Shops at West Fitchburg, and began the manufacture of paper under the name of the Fitchburg Paper Company, Stephen E. Denton was taken into the firm as a partner soon after. He had charge of the business at the mill. In July, 1865, Rodney Wallace and Benjamin Snow bought the interest of Stephen Shepley; and the Fitchburg Paper Company was then Wallace, Snow, and Denton. Mr. Denton died in June,1868. January 7, 1869, Mr. Wallace bought the interest of Benjamin Snow. January 23 of the same year he bought the interest of Mr. Denton’s estate of his widow, who was at that time residing in New York. From that date till the present the Fitchburg Paper Company is Rodney Wallace. He retains the old firm name.
Since becoming sole owner, he has added largely to the original property. A neat village of dwellings has grown up around his mills, which deserves a name of its own. Wallaceville would be an appropriate name. He has put in a substantial stone dam at great expense. In 1878 he erected a new brick mill, with all the modern improvements, doubling the capacity of the establishment. It is now capable of producing from 15,000 to 18,000 pounds of paper every twenty-four hours. Just across the Nashua River is the Fitchburg Railroad. He has a freight station of his own, where he receives all his freight and ships all his paper.