(Adapted from “Picturesque Franklin” , Wade, Warner & Co. , Northampton MA 1891
This publication was a “snap shot” of Franklin County businesses and industries as of 1891. This original article will not include the history which occurred afterwards, unless noted by the museum editor.)
September 1st, 1858, Richard Tucker, in company with his son-in-law, Chelsea Cook, purchased of L. B. Wright the mill and privilege on River street, Conway, and there on a small scale commenced the manufacture of cotton warps and yarns, employing some twenty hands. In 1861 they increased the business by building an addition to the main mill, doubling its production.
In 1862, desirous of further increasing their output, they bought the Howland & Morse mill, refitting it with now machinery, employing some sixty hands in both mills and producing from two to three hundred thousand pounds of warps and yarns annually. In the summer of 1866, it being an unusually dry season, they built a reservoir on the Boyden farm, about one mile above the village, consisting of a solid stone dam twenty feet high and having a pour-way of seventy feet. In the great flood of 1869, the right wing of the dam went out; the company at once repaired the damage, widening the pour-way to one hundred feet, increasing the height of the wing walls to seven feet. Again in the year 1878, the left wing wall went out. Thoroughly convinced of the necessity of building large enough they extended the width of the dam to two hundred feet. The water from the reservoir furnishes ample power to the mill sites below throughout the year. In 1877 they put into each of their factories a steam plant sufficient to meet all requirements.
In 1879 mill No. 1 on River street was burned to the ground, the fire being caused by spontaneous combustion. The company at once began to lay plans for a larger and more commodious mill building. September 1st saw them busy in its erection. January 1st they sent out the first invoice of goods. The present edifice is 80 feet long by 50 feet wide, four stories high, containing 3300 spindles and 34 cards, giving them 4700 spindles and 56 cards at their two mills, employing one hundred hands and producing 600,000 pounds of warps and yarns annually. In 1887 the members of the concern organized a joint stock company under the laws of the state, capitalizing it at $60,000, electing Richard Tucker president, A. M. Cook treasurer and Chelsea Cook superintendent. In the fall of 1889 they added to their business a dye house, enabling them to manufacture goods and put them up in colors or any state the trade demanded. In November of the same year, after leading an active and aggressive life in matters of business and public interest, Richard Tucker, at the ripe age of 79, passed away, his mantle falling on the younger generation. Chelsea Cook was elected president in his stead. In 1872 the company commenced putting up what has gained a national reputation in the marts of trade the celebrated “Knitting Cotton.” A few years later they rented the upper floor of the building then owned by the Agawam national bank on Lyman street, in Springfield, and there commenced to sell their own goods. This department is under the able management of David K. Tucker and his son, F. A. Tucker. Sales are constantly increasing and a valuable jobbing trade in knitting cotton, yarns, mending yarns, twines of all description, and other small wares is being built up. All through their several departments a spirit of push and aggressiveness is noticeable in the company. Notwithstanding fire and flood and hard times they have breasted all and now stand among the foremost of those who manufacture their line of goods.