It is an accredited tradition that the first water privilege in town was at Chaffinville, where John Bigelow built a
mill in 1726. Manufacturing was begun here in 1817 by Royal H. Chaffin.
He at first made a specialty of dyeing wool and coloring yarns, in which he attained great excellence, and a very
wide reputation, the first prize having been awarded him in a competition of much importance. Mr. Chaffin ran the mill
for many years, and then sold out to his son, Alfred H. Chaffin. In his hands woolen goods suitable for prison uniforms were made.
In 1879, it was a one-set mill employing nine hands. June 20th, it was burned, just after having been refitted and leased
to Peter Scanlon & Co.
About 1870, Alfred H. Chaffin established an unusually fine grist-mill, which was burned and rebuilt.
From 1885 to 1890, John W. Shrewbrooks operated a grist-mill and shoddy mill here. This was destroyed by fire in 1890.
A shoddy mill was rebuilt in this location and was operated for a year by August Pearson, and by a number of others for
The property was acquired by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and the mill industry came to an end in this
early settlement of the town.
Source: Florence Newell Prouty, History of the Town of Holden, Massachusetts,
16671941 (Holden, Mass.: 200th Anniversary Committee for the Town of Holden, 1941), 154155.