This acquisition gives us a chance to retell a great story!
The Wells Brothers first set up business, at our site on the Green River, in 1878. In the picture below, notice the building to the right of the grist mill. We call this the “old foundry” and this is probably the only surviving photograph of the first Wells Bros. building. I have since read that the “Old Foundry” was actually a nail factory before the Wells brothers moved in. Please also notice the wooden building in the foreground of the round shaped gas house. Does it look familiar? Have you ever visited us?
Fire destroyed the “old foundry” only a few months after the Wells Brothers set up business. Their losses exceeded $3000, yet they were still able to relocate to Hope Street and operate for the next few years.
The owners of our Green River site were faced with the task of rebuilding from the aftermath of the fire. A new, single story brick factory was first built over the “old foundry” site. Then it was decided to also move the old Felt & Company office alongside this new brick building, and next to the grist mill. The old Felt & Company office? That was in front of the gas house and is now our present day museum building! It is the oldest industrial building on our site and is a classic example of commercial building construction from the 1840s.
The Wells Brothers returned to the Green River. It is generally believed that the products labeled “Wells Bro’s & Co.” were made in our buildings during these next years. Although they became pioneers of the modern machine thread cutting tap and die industry, their original core business was the manufacture of metal farming and blacksmith tools. We were just blessed with one such relic of this core business.
The Samson Tire Upsetter
This tool by Frederic E. and Frank O. Wells was granted patent number 269901 on January 2, 1883. It is capable of adjusting the circumference of metal wagon wheel hoops in a blacksmith shop. Wooden spoked wagon wheels “tread” consisted as a single iron hoop. This tool allowed the expansion or contraction of the metal hoop’s circumference in order to fit the wooden parts. Our new donation spent the 20th century in useful labor in an Amish community in upstate New York, and is probably why it still survives to come to us.
In 1912, the Wells Bro’s company and Wiley & Russell Manufacturing merged to become Greenfield Tap & Die, the globally famous thread cutting tool maker.