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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)

The great hat manufactories of the United States,   pp. 496-510 ff.


Page 508

GREAT HAT MANUFACTORIES.
The number of hands employed by this firm, which varies with the
fluctuations of business, is never less than two hundred, and at times
reaches five hundred. The machinery operated by them comprehends
every improvement known, though no patents for specialties have
recently issued to them, notwithstanding the fact that some of the most
important innovations in this manufacture have originated in their fac-
tories.
Orrin Benedict & Co., Bethel, Conn.,
Have been selected as a representative of the firms engaged exclusively
in the manufacture of Fur Hats. Their factory is situated on the
main thoroughfare from Danbury to Bethel, Connecticut, hardly more
than quarter of a mile from the latter place. The present principal,
Orrin Benedict, Esq., established the business in 1845, in a building
of insignificant size and capacity, with a force of twenty workmen.
The bodies were not made on the spot, but purchased from " forming"
establishments. No machinery was employed, and even up to as late
a date as 1866, every detail of the work was performed by hand-with
how great excellence the extraordinary growth of the firm and the
popularity of its wares, furnish ample demonstration. Year by year,
stimulated by his success, Mr. Benedict made additions to his factory
and labor-roll, till the premises at last became an extensive, though
incongruous and rambling mass of buildings. In 1865, his first and
only partner in the business, Mr. Wm. H. Barnum, who, for several
years previous, had been attached to the establishment, was taken into
the firm.
The amount of Mr. Benedict's production, in 1845, did not exceed
thirty thousand dollars; in 1867, it exceeded six hundred thousand
dollars.
A conflagration, in October, 1866, which made a complete wreck of
the factory, wrought a change in the operations of the firm, altogether
radical. Out of the ashes of the old establishment, rose speedily, a
structure which, in capacity of mechanical means, general adaptedness
for quick and economical production, and propriety of design, cannot
well be surpassed. The new factory of Benedict & Co., completed
and in operation in April, 1867, is a well built wooden edifice, four
stories in height, comprising a main building one hundred and seventy-
six feet long by thirty-eight feet in breadth, with an L, one hundred
and thirty-six feet in length.  That portion of the building con-
taining the boilers and engines, is constructed of brick, with unusual
solidity and strength. Two engines, of peculiar simplicity of design,
of Earle's patent, having each some seventy-five hprse power, with
508


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