Release Date: February 9, 2006 [EBook #17722]
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*** Start of this project gutenberg EBOOK the Bay state monthly ***
Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, David Garcia and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by Cornell University Digital Collections)
[Illustration: Sylvester Marsh]
A Massachusetts Magazine.
Vol. III. May, 1885. No. II.
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[The projector of the Mount Washington railroad.]
By Charles Carleton Coffin.
There were few settlers in the Pemigewasset Valley when John Marsh of East Haddam, Connecticut, at the close of the last century, with his wife, Mehitable Percival Marsh, travelling up the valley of the Merrimack, selected the town of Campton, New Hampshire, as their future home. It was a humble home. Around them was the forest with its lofty pines, gigantic oaks, and sturdy elms, to be leveled by the stalwart blows of the vigorous young farmer. The first settlers of the region endured many hardships—toiled early and late, but industry brought its rewards. The forest disappeared; green fields appeared upon the broad intervales and sunny hillsides. A troop of children came to gladden the home. The ninth child of a family of eleven received the name of Sylvester, born September 30, 1803.
The home was located among the foot-hills on the east bank of the Pemigewasset; it looked out upon a wide expanse of meadow lands, and upon mountains as delectable as those seen by the Christian pilgrim from the palace Beautiful in Bunyan’s matchless allegory.
It was a period ante-dating the employment of machinery. Advancement was by brawn, rather than by brains. Three years before the birth of Sylvester Marsh an Englishman, Arthur Scholfield, determined to make America his home. He was a machinist. England was building up her system of manufactures, starting out upon her great career as a manufacturing nation determined to manufacture goods for the civilized world, and especially for the United States. Parliament had enacted a law prohibiting the carrying of machinist’s tools out of Great Britain. The young mechanic was compelled to leave his tools behind. He had a retentive memory and active mind; he settled in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and set himself to work to construct a machine for the carding of wool, which at that time was done wholly by hand. The Pittsfield Sun of November 2, 1801, contained an advertisement of the first carding machine constructed in the United States. Thus it read: