Sunday, September 11, 2011

Myron Davis’ Chair Factory

Here is a story about that Chair Factory in Felchville. Many Cavendish men worked there on and off in the 1880s and into the 1890s. It was a large enterprise for its day. Linda Welch


Myron Davis’ Chair Factory, Felchville, Vermont, NEWS:
NEWS: —Felchville, 17 Jan., 1879: “Myron Davis has taken in a partner in the chair business, Mr. W. S. Hodge, from East Templeton, Mass., an experienced workman.” —27 Feb., 1880: “Business is brisk at the chair shop. Since it has been in the hands of Mr. M. A. Davis, many improvements have been made. First class chairs are manufactured of the most improved styles.” —Felchville, 23 Oct., 1885: “Mrs. M. A. Davis is having a bad time with her arm. She was vaccinated for small pox and took cold in the arm when erysipelas set in.” —3 Aug., 1888: “Evidently, M. A. Davis does not mind much about the cry of ‘free trade,’ as he is laying out about six hundred dollars in repairs and new machinery for the chair shop. He is getting ready for a large fall trade, and has added to his already largelist of clients, the reform school at Vergennes, and is shipping to and receiving from there quite a quantity of chairs.” —4 Oct., 1889: “M. A. Davis and wife returned from their trip to the sea-shore last week. The former is somewhat improved in health, but tells us that medical advisers say that he must go to a warmer climate as the only means of fully regaining his health. In view of this, we are informed that he has advertised his entire chair-manufacturing business in this village, for sale. Mr. Davis began business here ten years ago, employing but three hands; but since then his business has steadily increased necessitating each year additional buildings to his enterprise and some of the time, employing over 30 men, besides a small army of cane-seaters. At the present time he has a variety of sixty cane-seat chairs, of modern patterns and styles, and judging from the loads of his goods hauled from this village, marked not only to parties in the Central and Western states, but to parties in Florida, Mississippi, California, and Washington Territory, we conclude hisreputation as a chair manufacturer extends from sea to sea. We regret that he cannot stay with us to enjoy the fruits of the reputation he has so persistently earned. In speaking of his success here, he largely attributes it to being located in a lumber region, where lumber and the living expenses of workmen are much cheaper than in the great chair manufacturing sections of Massachusetts. We hope some good man will see the advantage of investing in a well-established business.” —Advertisement: Chair Factory For Sale! Rare Opportunity for Investment! .. said business consists of a well-equipped factory for the manufacture of Cane-Seat Chairs, employing, (on full time) from 25 to 30 men; has fine water power on a branch of the Black River, running two good wheels under 30 feet head, giving ample power. There is attached to this factory a first-class circular sawmill which does a payingbusiness. In connection, there are large and commodious Storehouses and Lumber-Sheds, all well filled with lumber, stock, and finished goods. Buildings, Machinery, and Dry Kilns are in first class repair; and buildings and kilns are heated by steam. This is an excellent section for lumber, andliving expenses and rents for men are extremely low. Experienced workmen are located here; also an adequate number of cane-seaters. The above business has been established 10 years and has grown from nothing to a large and profitable industry, doing a wholesale business all over the country. This property must be sold at once and we invite parties or their representatives to investigate at once. Timberlands, houses, teams, etc., sold with the above if desired. —M. A. Davis, Felchville” — The local newspaper did what it could to enhance Myron’s plan to sell his business and in just about every weekly issue of the paperthey mentioned the success of the factory as a business in hopes that some hearty businessman would come along and buy it from Myron. NEWS:—31 Jan., 1890: “M. A. Davis has sold 40 dozen chairs within the last two weeks.” —9 May, 1890: “M. A. Davis has received an order from Dublin, Ireland, requesting price and terms for a large shipment of his chairs, and his brother, F. C. Davis is in the West on a business trip.” —8 May, 1891: “M. A. Davis has more orders for chairs than he can fill.” — Towards the latter part of Aug., 1891, Myron and his wife decided to take a pleasure trip through the northern part of the state and took in the Presidential reception in Montpelier on their return. President Harrison had made a tripthrough Vermont with his Secretary of War, Redfield Proctor, and whistle-stopped at many villages, greeting the Vermont farmers and familiesalong the way from his special train car. His train stopped in Ludlow where a large, enthusiastic crowd greeted him. —16 Oct., 1891: “Henry E. Byron and wife (Flora) of St. Johnsbury, and George Round, wife and two children of Lancaster, NH, who have been visiting at M. A. Davis’, returned home last week.” —29 April, 1892: “The tenant house of M. A. Davis, known as the ‘old boarding house’ and occupied by White Chapman, took fire from a defect in the chimney last Friday and had it burned a few minutes longer before being discovered, the building could not have been saved, but by a good supply of water, it was early extinguished.” Myron d. in Felchville, 16 Oct., 1893 (age 45). From his obituary: “... he had been an invalid for a long time. He was the proprietor of the chair shop for many years and was a highly respected

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