July 31, 2020
For educational institutions
Emily Dickinson & Manufacturing in Amherst
⟶ Updated 11 Dec 2018 ⟶
List of edits
This timeline examines the writings of Emily Dickinson in parallel with industrial developments in the town of Amherst during her lifetime. Dickinson would certainly been aware of many of the markers of progress, including steam and smoke from factory chimneys, factory whistles for the workers throughout the day, and the sounds of arriving trains four to six times a day. This scenery's effect on her poetry and letters is for you to judge via this interactive timeline.
11 Dec 2018
“...father used to take me to mill for my health.” JL401 to Louise and Frances Norcross
Red Grist Mill built on Montague Road, operates from 1844-1934
20 identifiable mill sites and 26 water wheels by this point
Amherst third in papermaking in the Pioneer Valley
Ephraim and John Cushman start a paper factory on the Mill River, known as the "old mill"
Ephraim Roberst builds the Lower Roberts Company Mill, his second paper mill
A second Cushman paper mill, the Red Mill, is built. The Red Mill made yellow board, an imitation leather, out of straw pulp used for boxes
Cushmans build Factory Hollow Mill, which manufactured paper for the New York Tribune. The factory burned in 1873 and was not rebuilt
“We hope you are not too much fatigued with the alarm of last Night…” JL368
"Will Susan please lend Emily..." JL231
Paper industry turns away from rag-derived writing paper to paper made from straw pulp
Peak of the paper industry in Amherst
David Mack opens a hat factory, employing about 100 people, mostly women and girls. Foreign straw was brought in through New York, and hats were distributed in New York City, Philadelphia, and New Orleans
David Mack sells his business to Joseph Payson of Easthampton, who runs it until 1853
L.M. Hills begins employing men to split palm leaf in his shop and starts building mills as the business expands
Amherst becomes a center for hat making in the U.S., thus establishing Amherst as an industrial center
Railroad reaches Amherst, facilitating industry and especially delivery of supplies for hat making
L.M. Hills builds a mill in Factory Hollow; later destroyed in a flood (1863)
L.M. Hills establishes his first retail hat shop in Amherst
Hills begins using steam pressure, heating and hydraulic systems to speed up the processing of palm leaves for hats, and builds a three-story building on the east side of the RR to make Shaker hoods
Hills builds a new wooden factory across from the Shaker Hood factory with separate buildings for different steps of the process: bleaching, splitting, dying and pressing. The factory had water works, carpentry, machine and metal working shops
L.M. Hills builds a hotel, workers homes, 2 boarding houses, stores, and starts a bank
First use of power driven looms in Hills Hat Factory
Hills becomes the largest employer in Amherst
Amherst now the largest hat producer in the U.S.
Hills factory west of the railroad sold to H.D. Fearing & Co
Henry Fearing becomes president of the factory on the east side of the railroad tracks. Fearing and Hills companies are now competitors
Factories on both sides of the railroad destroyed by fire. Both rebuilt of brick within 80 days
“Nectar in January is as unexpected as charming.” JL686 to Mrs. Fearing
“Who writes those funny accidents, where railroads meet each other unexpectedly, and gentlemen in factories get their heads cut off quite informally?” JL133
"Where bells no more affright the morn - "
"I had no time to Hate - "
"The Birds begun at Four o'clock - "
“...the grand Rail Road decision is made...” JL72
"Had I not This, or This, I said,"
"The things we thought that we should do"
"A Chilly Peace infests the Grass"
"His little Hearse like Figure"
"Will Mrs. Hills please break an Ounce of Islinglass in a quart of fresh milk..."
“After a night of terror, we went to sleep for a few moments, and I could not rise.” JL691
“Vinnie came soft as a moccasin, ‘Don't be afraid, Emily, it is only the fourth of July.’” JL610
"Good Night! Which put the Candle out?"
"I tie my Hat - I crease my Shawl - "
"Why should we hurry - Why indeed"
"Some - Work for Immortality - "
Grist mills and saw mills
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