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{"The History of Dexter" by Stanley Plummer are in quotation marks. All other comments are by James Wintle.}


The woolen mills were destined to be the little township's future working place and in 1836, Amos Abbott Company began it's connection in a small way with one carding mill. As time went by, the company grew and grew till it reached the capacity of an eight-set plant Some say it was the first woolen factory established in the State of Maine. Amos and Jeremiah Abbott started this factory in 1836.

In this same year, 1836, Lysander Cutler and Jonathon Farrar started a woolen factory on the northern end of what was known as the Dumbarton Woolen Co. (What is now the Chaia Apartments.) In 1843 this woolen mill, a three story wooden building burned to the ground. In the next two years it was rebuilt with stone that was quarried from the northern end of Witherell's Island on Little Lake Wassookeag. This new mill was built two stories high and one hundred twenty feet long and I presume that it was built of stone. Later on another forty feet was added making it two hundred feet long and then in 1867 R. W. Robinson, the new owner added two stories making it four stories high. At that point in time it was called the 'Stone Mill'.

This narration by Stanley Plummer about the woolen mills: "In 1842 Jeremiah and Amos Abbott built a dam where the Morrison Woolen Co. is now located, and constructed on the privilege thus afforded, a grist mill, which they operated as such until 1848, when Farrar & Cutler bought it, built an addition 80 feet long on the south end of the mill, and in 90 days had it running as a woolen factory." (This mill was also known as the White Mill.) Trembley's Trailer Park is now located on this site.

Farrar and Cutler also bought the brick factory, built by Foss & Conant in 1848 and known as the "Union mill". Later this mill was called the "Brick Mill" and now belongs to Dexter Shoe.

All of these mills were running full blast until the panic of 1857 hit them, and they all went down in the greatest business disaster that had overtaken the town in the first century of its existence. The total liabilities of the mills were $490,000.00, at that time, a large amount of money and a colossal failure, not only for the mill's backers, but also a big setback for the little township of Dexter.

Richard W. Robinson, a successful woolen mill operator came to Dexter from Amesbury, Mass. and leased the mills for five years from the creditors of Farrar and Cutler. A number of Englishmen and Scotchmen that knew a lot about the woolen business came to Dexter and worked for Mr. Robinson. While in this venture, Robin- son completed his five year lease with a sizable profit, One of the Scotchmen that came learned the business well enough that he bought out one of the original owners and continued on and went into partnership with Archibald Linn. David Campbell and Linn operated the woolen mill(this mill was built in 1846 where Fay & Scott's is now located) until 1864 when Linn sold out to David Campbell. Mr. Campbell operated the mill until 1868 when it burned to the ground.

Fay Scott

Mr. Richard W. Robinson continued on in the woolen mill business, it seemed that he somehow had charge of some of the mills because it says in , "The History of Dexter" that: "Louis Anderson, a Scotchman, for years the genial, skillful and wealthy woolen manufacturer of Skowhegan, came to Dexter in 1858 and worked for Robinson about a year and a half."

Mr. John Morrison came from Alva, Scotland in 1863 to work for Richard Robinson and then Mr. Morrison's son, John Jr. came to work in the Stone Mill and for a short time he was overseer for Amos Abbott & Company. In 1898 he bought the White Mill and enlarged it and later he purchased a tannery and changed it into a woolen Mill.

In 1864, Mr. Robinson's lease of the Dexter Mills expired and in it's place, Albert F. Bradbury, a resident of Dexter, organized a corporation called the Dexter Mills Company. This corporation operated until 1880 and then it was reorganized and was known as the Dexter Woolen Mills Company. In 1898 this corporation turned all of the property over to the bondholders, R.W. Robinson, Eben Dale, R. S. Russell, Edward R. Robbins and Albert F. Bradbury. Later on the three mills were sold to separate concerns.

The people in the Town of Dexter had a lot to do about the mills in the coming years. No. 1 Stone Mill was sold to the Penobscot Woolen Company and it was operated for three years when it was leased to Walter Scott & Co., then was purchased by The Dumbarton Woolen Co. and it ran successfully until 1910.

Brick Mill No. 3 was sold to the Union Manufacturing Co. in 1898, a corporation made up of Dexter residents and this corporation leased it to the Wassookeag Woolen Co. which operated it until 1912.

The White Mill No. 2 was sold to John L. Morrison in 1898. He enlarged it and kept it running up until about the same time that the other two mills closed.

More about the Dexter Woolen Mills and one of the men that had a hand in keeping them running for thirty-two years. Mr. Stanley Plummer had this to say about that period of time from 1864 to 1896: "During all the years from 1864, when he came to Dexter from Amesbury, Mass., to Nov. 28, 1896, when he died, Mr. Albert H. Bradbury was the resident agent of these mills and closely identified with the financial institutions and business development of the town. Born in Newburyport, Mass., July 16, 1827, he resided there until he was seven years old, when he went to Franklin County, Pa., with his father. In 1837 he returned to Newburyport, attended the public schools, and was for two years Clerk in his father's store. In 1844, he entered the employ of the Salisbury Manufacturing Co., at Amesbury, Mass., where he remained until he came to Dexter. In 1867, he took a leading part in the building of the Dexter and Newport railroad and was a director from its organization and at one time a treasurer.

In 1867, he was one of the Corporators of the Dexter Savings Bank and its president until 1888, when he became treasurer and held the position until his death. He also took an active part in the organization of the First National Bank of Dexter in 1875, and the Dexter Loan and Building Association in 1896, and was a director in each of these institutions from the beginning. He was a trustee of the Dexter Town Library and of the School Fund. He was a Representative in the Legislature of 1893 from The Dexter District."

Contact Jim Wintle by email or call 207-924-7598.

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