University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

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)

The great iron works of the United States,   pp. 475-495


Page 492

GREAT IRON WORKS IN THE UNITED STATES.
Probably the oldest Iron Works now in operation in the United
States are those of
M. Ellis & Co., South Carver, Mass.
As early as 1756, some fifteen or twenty of the citizens of Plymouth
county resolved to associate their capital and labor, and erect a Blast
Furnace at the mouth of Assawampset Pond, about ten miles from
the town of Plymouth. Though distant from navigable waters, the
reasons that influenced them in the selection of this site for their infant
enterprise, seem to have been proximity to bog ore beds; the abundance
of Pine forests in the immediate vicinity, from which an unlimited sup-
ply of charcoal could be obtained, and thirdly, good water power.
The bottom of this Lake, or Pond, covering about seven hundred acres,
contained a rich deposit of sedimentary or bog ore, which was dragged
from the water by an instrument similar to an oyster dredge, and with
such facility,*that, for a time, one man could fish up two tons per day.
At these Works, subsequently called the Charlotte Furnace, was made
a variety of ordinary Iron Hollow Ware, and about 1760, the first cast
iron Tea-kettle made in America. This important utensil had pre-
viously been made of wrought iron and was imported from England.
During the Revolutionary war they supplied the Colonial Government
with solid shot, and also furnished the shot and shell which were used
by the Frigate " Constitution" in her memorable engagement with the
" Guerriere."  This Furnace continued in operation every year, until
about 1832, when it was converted into a Cupola Furnace.
Among the first contributors to the erection of the Charlotte Fur-
nace were the Ellises and Murdocks, ancestors of the present proprie-
tors. Previous to the beginning of the present century, Mr. Benjamin
Ellis leased the Works and subsequently purchased the interests of the
other shareholders. He became a large landed proprietor, owning ten
or twelve thousand acres of land in Plymouth county, besides three
or four Blast Furnaces, among them the " Federal Furnace," which
was described with some detail in the first volume of this History.
Since his decease, the Works have been owned by his son, Matt.
Ellis, and his brother-in-law, Jesse Murdock, trading under the firm
style of Matt. Ellis & Co.
The buildings. which are mostly of wood, comprise a Foundry,
Machine shop, Warehouse, and sundry auxiliary structures. The pro-
ducts now consist principally of Cooking stoves, Cabooses, and fine
Parlor grates, which for many years had almost exclusive preference
in the Boston market. Farmer's Boilers are also made here, which are
favorably known and extensively in demand throughout New England.
492


Go up to Top of Page