Silk Company in Florence

Silk is a product that is found all over the world, considered a special item, used for many different products, and can be manufactured differently. The main purpose of silk however is to produce clothing however. This type of clothing was considered in history to be for the wealthy and for special occasions. Now however, silk can be found in every type of clothing and for just about any occasion.

The specific silk mill in Florence Massachusetts is called, the Nonotuck Silk Company. Samuel Whitemarsh originally started the company, in 1832. He purchased 25 acres in of mulberry trees near the mill; these trees would be used to provide a home the silk worms needed. He was part of the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, a utopian group known for the want for all people to be free, no matter sex, color, or religion. An interesting fact about this community is that Sojourner Truth was an active member in this community. Because of this, the company was at first a way to boycott the cotton trade and slavery, and later became part of the Underground Railroad. This did not happen however until Samuel L. Hill invented a machine that would change everything. He created a machine that could create silk so fine, that it could be used in a sowing machine. Being a part of the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, Hill later took over the factory and used his machine while still boycotting the slave trade. Because he was an avid abolitionist and an extremely smart businessman, he fought slavery and brought his business to the top. He used his house however as a stop on the Underground Railroad, his house is located at 31-35 Maple Street, Florence Massachusetts, which could very possibly be on our tour. The mill however was renamed to Corticelli Silk Company, and became one of the largest silk thread producers in the world. The company would import raw silk from Japan, or used silk they produced, and would turn it into thread that could be sold, or used at the factory to create clothing. Because this company was booming, it advertised in New York City on 42nd street, with a kitten playing with a spool of thread from 1910 to 1913. After this, business continued to progress until 1930 when the business closed. This is amazing because it was originally started to produce a product that slaves did not, but later turned into a company that would effect silk production in the world. It was around for 98 years, and multiple wars, which is another positive attribute towards the company.

This entry was posted in American Studies, HOT Log Florence 1/20/14, Slavery, Uncategorized, Underground Railroad and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Silk Company in Florence

  1. 14ahw says:

    The silk trade and its affect on the cotton industry is something that is very important and we have only touched upon so far, very interesting hot log. How affective was the silk industry at thwarting the cotton industry? A chart of silk to cotton exports or some kind of information like that would have been very useful.

  2. 14bsd says:

    Great job on being unique and picking something that hasn’t been focused on before, like the silk trade. Did you happen to do any research on the Ross farm’s silk company? Other than that really great piece and put together well.

  3. Jack Frank says:

    This is very interesting perspective to further our mission. I liked how you established a connected the silk industry and cotton industry to a much large picture of the slave industry. Do you think that you could find specific trends and figures as to cotton vs silk imports and exports during this time? Try to find an interesting picture or other media source to include in story.

  4. 14dlw says:

    I like the perspective you present here a lot! Are there possibilities to research the Ross farm’s silk company further? Some more information about the exports of cotton would make your post more complete.

  5. ahglennon says:

    Great job, Jimmy, I think this is a very unique part of abolition. Did you come across any additional information on the Ross Farm in your research? Also I am curious as to how much the silk industry rivaled cotton in the 1800’s? I think this is a very well written and informative piece; however, I would try to link it to the class and try to see how we can use this information.

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