Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The Shoe-Shop

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The Shoe-Shop

Shoe-making has been pursued from early times. A room in the dwelling or a little shop near by has long been appropriated for the purpose, on many a farm, and men have worked in field or at the bench, as occasion demanded. Some did custom work; but in later years, a large amount of work has been taken from Lynn, Haverhill and other manufacturing places. Till the advent of the sewing-machine, shoe-binding gave employment to women; and at one time, Robert F. Williams had a large number in his employ.

The shoe business took on much larger proportions than ever before, when, in January, 1888, V. K. & A.H. Jones, of Lynn, Mass., consolidated their branch establishments in Strafford and Barnstead and brought them to Hampton. A stock company of Hampton men had built a shop eighty by forty feet, of four stories height, with a three story wing, fifty by forty-six feet, into which the new firm brought a considerable number of laborers from the two towns above mentioned. Many Hampton men and women soon came to be employed, and the quiet old town awoke to new activity and financial life.

A wooden building, in close proximity to the steam sawmill and lumber yards, demanded extra safeguards against fire. These were provided, in a water tank, of a capacity of thirty thousand gallons, and a four-inch fire house, operated by steam pump, for outside service; together with small hose and automatic sprinklers for use through the building. A special engine, used for this work only, carries water from the large tank to a second tank, of three thousand gallons' capacity, at the top of the factory. By connecting an additional hydrant, which is contemplated, not only the immediate premises, but a considerable portion of the village, would be protected.

In the factory, a thirty-five horse power steam engine carried the machinery; and work embraced all grades and varieties of women's shoes. Two hundred to two hundred fifty hands were employed, with a weekly pay roll reaching twenty-five hundred dollars. After the Lynn fire, of December, 1899, in which the Jones brothers lost their main factory, the Hampton business was temporarily increased, by the removal hither of their entire force, till they built anew and reopened in that city the following autumn.

The career of this new industry was prosperous, but it was brief. In the autumn of 1891, the firm of V.K. & A.H. Jones removed their Hampton business to Lynn, and the great shop awaits its fortunes.

In the Genealogies will be found mention of other trades -- tailor, cooper, glover, hatter, weaver, baker, basket-maker -- variety enough to furnish occupation and supply the needs of the people.

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