TABLE OF CONTENTS
405 Babbidge Road, Unit 1205
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1205
Jewett City is a small borough located in the eastern Connecticut town of Griswold, where the Pachaug River empties into the Quinebaug River. The first settler in 1771, Eleazer Jewett, set up a grist mill and, later, a saw mill, near the mouth of the Pachaug River. By the first decade of the nineteenth century, Jewett City also included a fulling mill and a carding mill.
In 1809, two Rhode Islanders, John W. Tibbits and Lafayette Tibbits came to Jewett City and purchased a mill privilege on the Pachaug. The following year, the Tibbits and seven other persons, mostly local businessmen, adopted the name, “The Jewett City Cotton Manufacturing Company,” (JCCMC), purchased two additional privileges, and built a small frame spinning mill. The mill's products were cotton yarn for warp and filling, and dyed and finished thread for weaving. The company built seven double tenements for its workers. The mill yard included a factory, dye house, grist mill, trip-hammer shop, and coal house. In 1815, the property of the JCCMC was declared to be worth $21,888.
Like many small eastern Connecticut cotton manufacturers, the JCCMC was never more than marginally successful. After enjoying several good years during the War of 1812, the company reorganized in 1815, and incorporated on 20 September 1816, with a board of directors consisting of John Wilson (a long-time Jewett City manufacturer), Charles Fanning (owner of a nearby cotton mill), and James Treat (owner of a cotton mill in Voluntown). The agent was Christopher Lippit, who had joined the partnership in 1813. Although power looms were installed at the mill, the company continued to struggle and finally was sold to Samuel and John Slater in 1823 for $17,100.
The importance of Samuel Slater to the development of the cotton textile industry in the United States is well known. Arriving from England in 1789 with the plans for early textile machinery in his head and with the financial support of Almy and Obadiah Brown of Providence, Rhode Island, Slater built and operated America's first cotton mill at Pawtucket, Rhode Island. This venture proved so successful that many others attempted to follow Slater's example. To stay ahead of the competition, Samuel invited his brother, John Slater, who had studied the latest advancements in English machinery, to join him in America. When John arrived in Pawtucket in 1803, he supervised the building of the new, advanced cotton spinning machines, known as Crompton's Mules.
Even though business continued to prosper, Samuel and John Slater were determined to expand their operations. In 1805, as a partner in the new firm of Almy, Brown and Slater, John supervised the purchase of 122 acres in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and the building of the new mills and a village, which was named Slatersville. John resided there until his death in 1843. In 1816, Samuel Slater moved to Oxford, Massachusetts, where he built a number of mills.
The 1820s saw further expansion and brought the brothers to Jewett City. Hearing about the financial problems of the JCCMC, John and Samuel Slater moved quickly in 1823 to complete their purchase of the JCCMC's land, buildings, and water rights. They bought this property outside their other partnerships and ran it under the name S. & J. Slater. John Slater managed the Jewett City mill from Slatersville, allowing Samuel to concentrate on his work at Oxford and his other interests.
At Jewett City, John Slater immediately began to make improvements, including building a new dam and stone mill and installing modern equipment. For about seven years, John Slater supervised the mill through an agent, William F. Clarke, who was also in charge of the company's store. In 1831, however, John Slater purchased Samuel's share in the Jewett City property and thereafter sent his son, John Fox Slater, to assist in the mill's management, and to oversee operations at a small mill at Hopeville, about three miles away, that John Slater had purchased in 1825.
On the death of John Slater in 1843, his two sons, John Fox and William S. Slater, inherited his business properties. In 1849, the brothers purchased the interests of Samuel Slater's heirs in Slatersville, and, in 1853, decided that William S. Slater should have charge of the Slatersville mills and that John Fox Slater should continue managing the Jewett City and Hopeville mills. They operated these properties under the name J. & W. Slater until 1872 when the partnership was dissolved, each brother gaining ownership of those mills in his charge.
John Fox Slater made many improvements to his Jewett City mills, and his activities had a considerable impact on the community. In 1846, the old wooden mill of the JCCMC was replaced by a new and much larger brick mill, the initial step in a process which saw the number of looms at the Jewett City plant increase from 90 to 449 over the next forty years. Around the mill, in an area of Jewett City known as Factory Hill, many tenements were constructed.
John F. Slater was succeeded by his son William A. Slater in 1884. Two years later, the Great Freshet of 1886 destroyed most of the dams along the Pachaug. The Slater mills were inundated, production was lost for many months, and more than $150,000 was spent for repairs. This crisis was surmounted and by 1896, the company's most prosperous period, 700 looms and 19,000 spindles were operating, providing employment for 500 people. The major products were stripes, plaids, flannels, shirtings, dress goods, and fancy colored goods.
The collection contains the administrative and financial records of the combined business interests of several generations of Slaters. The collection has been divided into four distinct sections, reflecting the changing business interests of the Slater family. The sections include: the Jewett City Cotton Manufacturing Company, Jewett City Mill, Jewett City Store and Hopeville Mill and Store.
The Jewett City Cotton Manufacturing Company was purchased by John and Samuel Slater in 1823 and the section includes administrative, financial and production records, as well as correspondence. Also included are records dating from 1795 through 1810 that may have originated from a general store and livery taken over by the company when it was established in 1810, board of director's minutes, correspondence, production and labor records, contract, daybooks, cashbooks and ledgers.
The Jewett City Mill documents include administrative, legal and financial records, correspondence, production and labor information, marketing and sales records.
Jewett City Store section contains the records of the company owned store used primarily by employees. The records document the buying habits of the community and the terms of credit established by the company. Documents are primarily financial in nature.
Hopeville Mill and Store records are primarily financial in nature and include daybooks and blotters, account books, cashbook, invoice book, and similar record books.
Slater materials located at other repositories:
The importance of the Slater Papers at the University of Connecticut is enhanced by existence of other Slater materials which directly relate to the Jewett City mill and will enable the researcher to study the work of the Slaters at Jewett City in its proper context.
A large collection of Slater materials at the Harvard Business School's Baker Library was collected between 1910 and 1920 by Dr. Arthur H. Cole. These records were the first collection of business records ever assembled for scholarly research in the United States.
Most of the Baker Library's holdings relate to Samuel Slater and his interests at Oxford. However, the account books of Almy, Brown & Slater, 1793 - 1833, includes material from the years when Samuel and John Slater were working as partners. Of greater relevance to Jewett City, are the ledgers, journals and cashbooks of J. & W. Slater of Slatersville. This was the partnership of John Fox Slater and his brother William S. Slater (John Slater's sons) which jointly owned and ran the mills at Slatersville and Jewett City.
Another group of Slater materials is held at the Rhode Island Historical Society. Two collections are particularly important: the papers of J. W. Slater, which include information on the Hopeville mill; and the papers of S. & J. Slater, which include letters and deeds of partnership concerning the purchase of the Jewett City mill by Samuel and John Slater in 1823.
The collection has been divided into four distinct sections, reflecting the changing business interests of the Slater family. The sections include: the Jewett City Cotton Manufacturing Company, Jewett City Mill, Jewett City Store and Hopeville Mill and Store. The documents for each section have been further subdivided by format.
Jewett City Cotton Manufacturing Company, 1795-1838
Series I: Administrative Records and Correspondence (1810-1824) contains minutes of director's meetings and one volume of correspondence (1817-1824). At director's meetings, actions taken include election of directors and employee assignments for special duty.
Correspondence consists of outgoing correspondence, signed by Walter Palmer and John Johnson.
Series II: Production and Labor Records (1811-1838) contains primarily production information with a few labor documents. The home production book is a record of those men and women who wove cloth in their homes for the company. There is information about supplies used and the price paid for finished goods. The inventories and debts due book includes a general accounting of money owed by the company to its weavers and other individuals. Inventories of goods held by New York and Philadelphia merchants, of goods in the company store and of cotton yarn in the mill are also included. The mill supply book records the costs of building and machine repairs done in the mill and the construction costs of some of the mill facilities. Labor records are composed of a laborers' time book, documenting wages and attendance and labor contracts. The contracts are agreements drawn up between the company and an employee (and often his family) outlining the terms of employment. Slater Company contracts (1837-1838) are included in this volume.
Series III: General Accounts (1795-1832) is composed of daybooks, cashbooks and ledgers. Daybooks (1795-1832) record company store transactions including purchases of clothing, food and liquor. Cashbooks (1796-1829) record cash entries for both the store and the mill. Ledgers (1795-1817) record individual account transactions and are indexed.
Jewett City Mill, 1823-1884
Series IV: Administrative Records and Correspondence (1823-1884) contains memoranda books, bank books, Slater real estate holdings, legal papers (including contracts and agreements), dividend orders, insurance policies and advertising circulars. Correspondence includes alphabetized general correspondence (1825-1860) and letter books (1932-1839, 1845-1852) containing copies of letters written by Slaters' agents, William Clark and A.A. Young.
Series V: General Accounts (1840-1860) consists of bills and receipts, accounts, invoices, cashbooks, notes, bills of lading and a few unidentified account records. The bulk of the series is composed of bills and accounts that summarize and update clients' accounts and charges. Bills of lading are contracts issued to shippers listing the goods shipped from the mill, acknowledgement of their receipt and a promise of delivery to the customer.
Series VI: Production and Labor Records (1829-1884) is primarily composed of employee time books and departmental production records. Time books (1829-1882) document wages paid to employees and record attendance. Board Book (1869-1878) is a weekly accounting of charges incurred by employees living in tenement housing owned by the mill. Labor contracts (1837-1838), drawn up by the company, outline the terms of employment for new employees and their families. Production books maintained by individual departments document materials used and goods produced. Baleing books (1936-1884) record the number of bales of cotton cloth produced.
Series VII: Marketing and Sales Records (1834-1881) is a small series containing order and consignment books. Order books (1865-1881) list products and quantity ordered and include invoice memoranda. Consignments books (1834-1845) record description, quantity and destination of goods shipped on consignment.
Jewett City Store, 1818-1892
Series VIII: General Accounts (1818-1892) consists of ledgers, journals, cashbooks, order books, daybooks, blotters and unidentified account books. The bulk of the series is composed of daybooks (1838-1890) and blotters (1826-1857) that document daily store transactions. Order books (1873-1886) contain individual customer orders and prices paid for goods. A few expense accounts, inventories and balance sheets are also included. Cashbooks (1823-1876), ledgers (1818-1892), and journals (1832-1872) comprise the remainder of the series.
Series IX: Family Account Books (1850-1890) are long-term undivided customer account books that record goods purchased, such as food, cloth and household supplies. Each volume records a family's total purchases, the item, price paid and the date.
Hopeville Mill and Store, 1828-1845
Series X: Store Records (1828-1843) contains daybooks (1828-1843) and blotters (1829-1830). Daybooks and blotters are similar in content and document daily store transactions.
Series XI: Mill Records (1829-1845) contains account books and production and labor records. A cashbook (1837-1838), invoice book (1841-1842) and a receipt book (1829-1838) comprise the few account records available. Production and labor records include a baleing book (1841-1845), a weaving book (1841-1845), supply accounts (1841-1845) and a time book and production record (1829-1845).
Restrictions on Access
There are no access restrictions on this collection.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.
Archives & Special Collections has a substantial collection of materials pertaining to Connecticut businesses. For detailed information on these collections please contact the curator or ask at the reference desk. For detailed information on these collections please contact the curator or ask at the reference desk.
This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Clarke, William F., fl. 1823-1831.
Slater, John Fox, 1815-1884.
Slater, John, 1776-1843.
Slater, Samuel, 1768-1835.
Slater, William Albert, 1857-1919.
Slater, William S.
Tibbits, John W.
Connecticut--Business, industries, and trades--Textiles.
Jewett City (Conn.)
Fliers. [printed matter]
[Item description, #:#], Slater Company Records. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
Dr. Irving Gilman Davis donated the collection to the University in the 1930s.
E.H. Cameron. Samuel Slater: Father of American Manufacturers. N.p.: The Bond Wheelwright Company, 1960.
The Graphic. V. II, No. 1 (May-July, 1896). Jewett City Souvenir Number. Moosup, CT: Charles Burgess, Publisher, 1896.
Robert Grieve and John P. Fernald. The Cotton Centennial, 1790-1890, Providence: J.A. & R.A. Reid, 1891.
D. Hamilton Hurd, ed. History of New London County, Connecticut....Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co., 1882.
Robert W. Lovett. List of Business Manuscripts in the Baker Library, (3rd. ed.; Cambridge: Harvard University, Baker Library, 1969), pp. 28-31.
Daniel L. Phillips. Griswold—A History: Being a True History of the Town of Griswold. Connecticut....N.p.: The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Company, 1929.
J.D. Van Slyck. Representatives of New England Manufacturers. Boston: Van Slyck and Company, 1879.