Allison-Antrim Museum

Greencastle's Century of Industrial Change - PART 2

    by William P. Conrad

    edited by Jane Conrad Alexander


This article was printed in four parts in the Greencastle newspaper,

The Echo Pilot, in July and August of 1993.


Part 2

However, the most important development came with the erection of factory buildings which would require many more workers than the traditional craft shops. The first of these had come in 1845 when George Bradley and Edward Chappel formed a partnership to build and operate a foundry. Census records show that four molders or founders lived in Greencastle at the time - Bradley, Edward Chappel, Henry Wellders and Jacob B. Crowell.


In 1850, Crowell bought Chappel's interest in the business and the new partnership continued to produce plows, stoves, farm bells, and custom made castings for equipment used on area farms. This foundry was located on West South (now Franklin) Street in the general vicinity of what is now Leiter's Hardware and Implement business. The hill on which this firm's buildings stood is still referred to as "Foundry Hill.'


This was J.B. Crowell's first venture into the industrial world. He was 33 years of age at the time and had been working as a construction worker in Greencastle since 1840. Crowell was a native of Adams County, Pennsylvania and had come to the area in 1836 to work as. a bricklayer and at other building jobs. By 1850, he knew enough about foundry work to consider himself a molder, truly a man of many talents, and as the future would tell, someone with unusual business acumen.


The firm of Bradley and Crowell was broadened in 1857 when Franklin Keller was taken into the business as a third partner. Keller was interested in farm equipment and the business expanded to include the production of grain drills and hay rakes - two horse drawn machines in ever increasing demand by progressive farmers of that time.


While the Bradley, Crowell and Keller firm prospered, another significant development came with the introduction of a steam powered factory in 1860, when Edwin Emerson, the local Presbyterian minister; Gen. David Detrich; and W.H. Davison started a sawmill business along South Cedar Lane on a lot opposite the building formerly housing the Walck Hatchery. This business produced lumber for construction purposes, including doors and door sashes.


The significance of these two factories coming at this time was part of a development taking place throughout the nation. Already the traditional craftsmen were beginning to feel the competition of factory made furniture, hardware, clothing, hats, shoes, stoves and a host of other family needs. General stores still prospered, but by now specialty shops were selling mass produced products at prices with which local artisans could not compete. Now two factories, that employed perhaps 10 to 20 workers, were in Greencastle. They were capable of turning out products at a rate which blacksmiths, coppersmiths, carpenters, tinners and other skilled workers could never hope to match.


Secondly, the use of a steam powered sawmill represented the first time in local history that a mill or factory was nowhere near a stream. This was the beginning of the end of reliance on water power for industrial purposes.


While these developments were taking place, the Cumberland Valley Railroad gradually gained control of the Franklin line. Improvements that followed gave the entire valley another important artery of commerce for its growing economy. Greencastle's new industries shared in this and in 1859, another improvement came with the construction of a turnpike to Williamsport, Maryland. This linked Greencastle industry to markets along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.


In 1860 the Bradley, Crowell and Keller buildings burned to the ground. Temporary structures were erected to carry on the business and a year later Crowell bought his partners' interests and relocated the plant along South Cedar Lane opposite the E.L.M. Grain elevator which has just recently been demolished. Mr. Crowell's new plant was right next to the saw mill started by Emerson, Detrich and Davison. By this time, however, James C. Austin had bought the Emerson and Detrich rights to become Davison's sole partner. Then in 1862, Crowell purchased Austin's share in the business and a partnership of Crowell and Davison followed.

Part 3



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