In 1825, a Mr. Morse built a factory at the village now known as Jefferson. It soon passed into the hands of John Jefferson.
In 1841, it was a satinet factory containing one hundred and eighty spindles and eight looms.
For many years previous to 1830, Colonel Artemas Dryden was engaged in this village in the manufacture of machines for carding.
The first power cards used in this country were made by him. Later he built a satinet factory which in 1841, contained three
hundred spindles and eight looms. At that time it was owned by Samuel Damon.
In 1858, manufacturing was continued by William Howe and Theron E. Hall who formed a partnership and engaged in the
manufacture of woolen goods. In 1860, Martin V. B. Jefferson bought out Major Hall and the business was continued under the
firm name of Howe & Jefferson until 1886.
Mr. Howe removed from Jefferson to Holden Center in 1889, where he built the large house next east of the stores and
filling station on the corner of Reservoir and Main Streets. He was born in Holden, and held many responsible positions in
church and town. January 1, 1886, Mr. Jefferson purchased the interest of Mr. Howe, and the business was conducted under
the name of the Jefferson Manufacturing Company. In 1891, there were 275 "hands" employed.
Mr. Jefferson during these years, held numerous important offices in the town and state.
December 8, 1892, fire destroyed the "Lower mill" and badly damaged the "Upper mill," with a total loss of $150,000.
Immediately plans were made for a new brick building on the site of the burned mill.
In 1893, the Jefferson Manufacturing Company purchased the real estate of the Holden Mills.
The author is indebted to Mr. Francis L. Coe for the following account of the Jefferson Manufacturing Company:
"In 1906, upon the death of Martin V. B. Jefferson, the company was incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts with
William H. Coe, Treasurer, and Jefferson W. Coe, President. During the World War of 19141918 the company manufactured
many thousands of Army blankets both for the U. S. Government and the Italian Government.
"In 1920, Jefferson W. Coe died from influenza so prevalent at that time, and was succeeded by his brother Robert
H. Coe who had returned from overseas duty in France. In this same year William H. Coe resigned as an official of the
Company and Francis L. Coe, then attending Law School in Boston was elected to the Directorate.
"In 1923, it was decided to concentrate all activities in one plant and the machinery and office of the company at
the lower plant at the junction of Princeton and Quinapoxet Streets was moved to the Eagle Lake plant on Main Street
in the westerly part of the village. In 1926, a new brick addition was added to the Eagle Lake plant and many improvements
made to the existing property. From 1920 to 1929, the Company was unusually active and was renowned for its steady operation
and quality of fabrics produced. In 1929, William H. Coe died at his home in Worcester. The following years were most
difficult ones as the country was in the throes of a depression. In 1934, the employees of the Company, numbering approximately
350 voted to Unionize and become affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. This unit was subsequently absorbed by the
C.I.O. During the following five years the company was beset with labor difficulties which combined with a declining demand
for its manufactured product resulted in a vote of the stockholders to liquidate the enterprise in December, 1939. At this
date the real estate was valued at $293,725.
"The homes and tenement properties owned by the company were sold by public auction in 1940. It is interesting to note
that a great majority were purchased by local people for permanent homes. In 1941, the machinery and equipment were sold
by auction bringing an approximate total of some $200,000, and at this writing the buildings are still standing though vacant."
Source: Florence Newell Prouty, History of the Town of Holden, Massachusetts,
16671941 (Holden, Mass.: 200th Anniversary Committee for the Town of Holden, 1941), 158160.