the average resident of this section, the name probably means nothing except an odd title for an
unheard of place, but there are many cities, Woonsocket among them, which depend on Spindleville,
Mass. for their industrial prosperity.
There is probably not a textile city in the nation that does not at some time or other have direct contact
with Spindleville and its products - spindles.
There, midway between Milford and Mendon, at a road junction, is the small settlement with the shop
that gave it its name. And from that shop come the spindles that go to mills making woolens, cottons
and even silk.
Despite the modern importance of its product, it is one of the few remaining shops that is conducted
much as it was three quarters of a century ago, and despite the passage of time, the product is little
changed and the methods of production still call for the inherent skill that made the New England
The workmen themselves are craftsmen of the old school and their contentment and pride in their
work is probably unequalled in any other plant in New England. Here men have worked since they
were mere youngsters and today sons carry on jobs started by their fathers.
Three such workers are George Grayson, Samuel S. Olivant and Arthur O. Sweet. This trio of
"youngsters" has compiled 162 years in the firm, which is officially known as Asa A, Westcott and Sons.
(The present plant manager, Asa A. Westcott, is the grandson of the founder.
Oldsters Top Mechanics
These three whose ages total well over 210 years, are active; each carries on at his skilled trade, and
should anyone suggest retirement he would probably be chased from the shop by one or all of the
three. Moreover, the younger men of the shop admit that they cannot compete in skill or production with
any one of the three.
Grayson is the dean of the crew in point of service.
"I graduated in June 1889 from high school, says George, "and the next day I started work here. That
was 58 years ago. I have tried other places for short times, but have spent most of that 58 years right
here at the same trade that I learned in school - straightening spindles." Grayson is the father of seven
children, has 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He said that his children want him to retire
but that he prefers to work.
Sam Olivant, 79, came to work Columbus Day 1892 and has been at his forge for 55 years, but the
years have left little trace on Sam who maintains that he will still "dance a jig with any of 'em."
Expert in Forging
Olivant was born in England and entered his apprenticeship in forging and blacksmithing at the age of
13. After 8 years as an apprentice, he came to this country and his first and only job here has been at
the Spindleville plant.
Sam is head of the forging department, where steel rods are heated, then beaten with a trip hammer
until they are drawn to the shape called for. It is a highly skilled trade, and while the younger men are
working at top speed, Sam sits on his chair, feeding the trip hammer at an even pace, and when
quitting time comes, he is generally far ahead in production. The younger forgers are quick to admit
that Sam is the best man in the room. When one of the "boys" said he was going to claim the title "best
forger," Sam agreed, but added, "There are two kinds of forgers and I am the best forger of metals."
Sam also insists that although he came here on Columbus Day, the "boys" are lying when they say he
came over with Christopher. "I paid my passage," Sam adds.
Youngster of Trio
Sweet is the youngster of the trio. He has been in the shop a mere 49 years, but to make up for his
lack of service points out that his son, Reginald, has been there 20 years and another son, Arthur L.,
has already worked there 17 years, making 86 years for the family. Sweet polishes, rounds and
hardens the spindles.
Grayson also has had sons working at the plant, but today his family is scattered.
Asa Westcott, or "Mr. Asa" as he is called, is plant manager, but the only way to find it out is to ask.
Clad in working clothes, he is on the shop floor daily, taking an active part in the work. Only 70, the old
timers refer to him as a "young squirt" and Grayson and Olivant often remind him that when he was a
youngster and annoyed the workers, they would pull his ears and "tan his britches" to keep him in
The shop, according to Westcott, was originally a cider and grist mill, but was converted to a spindle
shop about 76 years ago by Asa A., grandfather of the manager. His sons Augustus, Wilmer and David,
carried on for some years, and today Asa and his brother Roy, sons of Augustus, are the proprietors.
Probably the most unusual thing about the shop is the spirit of the workers. There is none of the
bickering or griping often found among skilled mechanics but the friendly rivalries go on continually.
Even Westcott is not immune to "abuse" from his men, but production never slows.
Radios in the shop bring music and baseball games, and a softball field in the rear of the shop is well
The spindles from Spindleville go to nearly every city or town where textiles are made, and many
foreign countries know the Westcott product.
There are many larger shops in the area, but nowhere will a visitor find a pleasanter atmosphere or
more careful workmanship than it the spindle shop that is Spindleville. Woonsocket Call, September
HOPEDALE - Spindleville doesn't appear in the town's official history. And to many residents, it's just
the name of a pond and the section of town where you find the Hopedale Country Club golf course.
Passersby on the way to their golf games notice the small low-profile electronic hardware and
precision parts factory, called M.C. Machine Co., Inc., without knowing that the building has a
manufacturing history that predates the birth of their great-grandparents.
But many longtime residents remember what it meant to live in Spindleville, and remember the mill, A.
A. Westcott and Sons, that gave Spindleville its name.
One of those people is Frances Rae of 120 Mill Street.
"Spindleville was sort of considered the other side of the tracks," said Rae, 74. "The families who
worked at the mill lived here." The home of Asa Augustus Westcott, Rae's grandfather, still stands. It's a
well-preserved, solidly built, wood frame house. Although her grandfather ran the mill that supplied the
spindles used in Draper Company looms, [That must be a mistake. Spindles were used in spinning
machines, not in looms.] his home does not compare with the almost monstrous brick estates on
Dutcher and Adin streets that housed the top Draper executives.
Asa Augustus Westcott came to Hopedale from Scituate, R.I., in 1826. Besides becoming a deacon at
the Congregational Church in Milford, he bought land in the southwestern part of Hopedale and the
mill, which had been used to make cider and grind grain.
On the hill that is now covered with the 224 home Laurelwood development, he started a farm with
chickens, corn, melons and livestock.
He converted the mill, which still hovers over the Mill River, to a steel spindle-making operation. The
spindles would be forged in the basement, shaped, hammered, straightened and smoothed - all by
"I would go into the straightening shops," Rae said. "I wouldn't stay much. It was so noisy! You can
imagine - particularly the big hammers on the steel."
A large wooden paddlewheel in the Mill River generated the electricity that ran the factory. [Reggie
Sweet, who worked at the mill for decades, recalled that in his early days there (the 1950s, I think), the
waterwheel was being used to operate the triphammers that were used in shaping and straightening the
spindles. He didn't mention anything about generating electricity there.]
Today, all you hear in the M.C. Machine Co. is the shearing down of finely fitted machine parts and
screws. The company gets its juice from power lines. And the riverbanks serve as a nice spot for
company employees to sit down and eat their lunch. That new business moved in soon after the need
for steel spindles died in the mid-1950s
Laurelwood resident Joanne Dutra, who works in Boston, considers herself a Hopedale - not a
Spindleville - resident. "Spindleville is just the name of a pond," she said.
But in a subtle way, the legacy of the Westcott family, and the mill, have remained part of Hopedale.
Rae's father, also named Asa Augustus, served as a Hopedale selectman for 33 years, until retiring in
Rae herself has three children, six grandchildren, and taught generations of Hopedale's
kindergarteners and first-graders. Michael and Paul Cogliandro, M.C. Machine Co.'s president and vice
president, were not familiar with the history of Spindleville but they still treasure the old yellowed photo
of the spindle makers standing in the snow, in front of the former spindle making shop. (See top of
"The factory helped a lot of people and helped the community," Selectman Jaime Wagman said. The
Middlesex News, August 21, 1989.
their factory may be found in use wherever wool or cotton mills are in operation in the United States,
and through the American machine builders they are exported to foreign countries. Mr. A.A. Westcott
commenced business at North Scituate, R.I., in 1869. In 1873 he secured the mill and water privilege
where they are now located. It is one mile south from the village of Hopedale, and here they have
combined water and steam of 125 horse power. The main factory building is 30 feet wide and 150 feet
long, with auxiliary buildings 34 by 40 for blacksmith shop, 35 by 45 for boiler and engine room, and 16
by 40 for office. The factory is supplied with specially constructed machinery for making steel spindles
and fittings, and the output is regarded as mechanically perfect. They employ a large force of skilled
machinists and can turn out over 3000 spindles per day. Mr. Westcott, while now an elderly man, is still
active about the works, and is ably assisted by his sons, who having been raised in the business, are
thoroughly familiar with every branch of the industry. Source unknown, undated.
Now and Then - Spindleville
The 1927, 1938 and 1955 floods in Spindleville Flood, 1955
VFW Home The Closing of the Westcott Mill
The shop is now the home of M. C. Machine Co.
Hopedale South of Route 16 Menu
Business Menu HOME
Ad from Hopedale business directory - 1907.
|Best New England Traditions
Live in Factory at Spindleville
|Its days of glory lie in past
Spindleville's legacy lives on in Hopedale
By Irene Coletsos
|A.A. Westcott & Sons
Manufacturers of Cotton, Woolen, Silk,
Twine, Twister Worsted, Speeder
and Quilter Spindles, Skewers, Flyers,
Strips, Bolsters, etc.
Office and Works, Hopedale.