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Bishop, J. Leander (John Leander), 1820-1868 / A history of American manufactures from 1608 to 1860 : exhibiting the origin and growth of the principal mechanic arts and manufactures, from the earliest colonial period to the adoption of the Constitution ; and comprising annals of the industry of the United States in machinery, manufactures and useful arts, with a notice of the important inventions, tariffs, and the results of each decennial census
Volume 3 (1868)

Manufactures of Taunton,   pp. 319-331

Page 321

William Mason's Machine Works.
The founder of this splendid establishmont belongs to that class of in-
telligent and ingenious mechanics who, in spite of early disadvantages,
and by the force of native genius, leave their impress upon the age in
which they live. New England has been especially fruitful in such
men, and they in turn have rewarded her by making her the pride and
glory of America. We however are not possessed of the facts from
which to write a biography of this eminent mechanic ; therefore suffice
it to say, that after a boyhood spent successively in the blacksmith's
shop, the cotton mill and machine shop, we find Mr. Mason, in 1829,
when about twenty-one years of age, in Canterbury, Connecticut, con-
structing and setting-up power looms for the manufacture of diaper
linen-believed to have been the first adapted to this kind of work in
the world; subsequently, in Killingly, manufacturing a new article of
" ring travellers," or ring frames, which still occupy a high place in
"throstle" or "frame-spinning"; and, at a later period, in Taunton,
Massachusetts, which, after many sad disappointments and crushing
reverses, caused by the failure of others, became the theatre of his
future triumphs. It was here, when foreman for Crocker & Richmond,
machinists, he perfected the great invention of his life, the " Self-
Acting Mule," a, machine now so well known to all who use cotton
machinery, that a detailed description of it would be superfluous.
Here, in 1842, when his employers had failed, he through friendly
assistance became the principal owner and manager of the works.
The prosperous times which succeeded the Tariff of 1842, and the
confidence of cotton and other manufacturers in his mechanical abili-
ties, at once established a business which in a very few years enabled
him to erect, after his own design, the noble buildings known as
Mason's Machine Works-the largest, it has been said, ever erected
at one time for the manufacture of Machinery. The main shop was
three hundred and fifteen feet long and three stories high, but addition
after addition has been made to accommodate a constantly increasing
business, until now the buildings cover an area of six acres. His busi-
ness comprised the manufacture of Cotton and Woollen Machinery,
Machinists' Tools, Blowers, Cupola Furnaces, Gearing and Shafting;
but the branch in which he was especially successful was the manufac-
ture of Cotton Machinery. In this department he labored indefatiga-
bly to devise and introduce those various improvements which have
contributed to increase the production, extend the consumption, and
diminish the price of cotton fabrics. In Constantinople, Alexandria,
and Cairo, it has been for years the practice of hawkers or pedlars of

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