Looms, etc.

    When I was a kid growing up in Hopedale, I knew that looms were made at Drapers, but that was about
    it. It wasn’t until I began to take an interest in Hopedale history in the past ten years that I began to
    wonder when they produced their first loom, and what other items they manufactured. Fortunately there
    is a fair amount of information available on this.

    The first Draper product was a loom part called a temple. The patent for this 1816 invention of Ira
    Draper, was owned by his son, Ebenezer when the Hopedale Community built its first shop in 1842. It
    became the most successful product of the Community, and probably the first thing manufactured by
    Ebenezer and his brother George when they formed their own company in 1852. In 1856, they withdrew
    their investment in the Community which resulted in its failure. In that same year, an inventor from
    Vermont to Hopedale and went into business with him. His name was Warren Dutcher and his
    invention was an improved temple. (Warren’s house still stands at the corner of Adin and Dutcher
    streets. The home of his son, Frank Dutcher, is the one on Adin Street that was the Adin Manor Nursing
    Home.) Dutcher’s business operated under the name, Dutcher Temple Company. The Draper brothers
    were his partners. This was the first of a series of moves in which they succeeded in bringing an
    inventor of a promising device for textile machinery to Hopedale and going into business with him.

    At first the Drapers operated under the name of E.D. & G. Draper. When Ebenezer left Hopedale in 1868,
    General William F. Draper joined his father and the company became George Draper & Son. Later,
    when the general’s brothers, Eben and George Albert joined, the name was changed to George Draper
    & Sons. Other divisions that were operated as separate companies, all housed in the same area that
    eventually became consolidated under the name, Draper Company, and later Draper Corporation,
    included the Hopedale Machine Company, Hopedale Furnace Company, and the Hopedale Machine
    Screw Company. Companies carrying the names of inventors, in addition to Dutcher, included the
    Sawyer Spindle Company and the Lapworth Elastic Fabric Company.

    From 1856, through the 1880s, the Draper companies produced an increasing number of parts and
    machines, mostly involved with spinning and weaving. One of the big textile developments of the era in
    which they played a significant role was a process called ring spinning. Spindles were one of their main
    products in that era. The following paragraph, from a Draper publication, written in 1881, gives an idea
    of what the company was doing at that time.

    “Our business, begun in a small way, has been gradually increased, until it has included improvements
    in every branch of cotton manufacture. Many of the most important improvements in use have been
    introduced by us; and we have undoubtedly owned or had the management of more useful patents on
    cotton machinery than any other concern in the country. Among such inventions are the Draper
    Revolving Temple, the best of its day; the Dutcher Temple, which has since superseded the above, and
    is so much superior to every other that we have practically the entire market of the country; the Parallel
    Shuttle Motion, on which we have owned about a dozen patents, including that of W.W. Dutcher, the
    original inventor; the Thompson Oil Can, which has sustained its supremacy over numerous rivals for
    more than twenty years; the Evener for Railway-Heads, which has been universally adopted; the Shuttle
    Guide, Let-Off Motion and Thick and Thin Place Preventer for Looms; the firs Self-Oiling Steps and
    Bolsters for Spinning; the Sawyer Spindle, proved by actual tests, and acknowledged by competent
    judges, to be the best of its class in operation, of which at this writing about a million and three-quarters
    have been sold; the wonderful New Rabbeth Spindle,  recently introduced, but already selling in great
    numbers; Draper’s Filling Spinner, which is rapidly superseding mules for weft spinning; the Double
    Adjustable Spinning Ring, already sold to the number of two million; improved Spoolers, with the Wade
    Bobbin Holder and Laflin Thread Guide, and the Sawyer or elevated bolster for their spindles; Twisters,
    with the Sawyer or New Rabbeth principle applied to their spindles; Slasher Warpers with rising or
    falling rolls, Walmsley’s matchless Step Motion, and an unrivaled Slow Motion; with many others as
    widely known.”

    It wasn’t until 1887 that the Drapers began moving toward the development of a loom. They decided that
    if they were going to make and sell them, they wouldn’t be ordinary looms. Theirs would be automatic.
    Up until that time, when the bobbin ran out of thread, the bobbin girl would have to stop the loom and
    replace the empty bobbin with a new one. It was a fairly involved procedure. Development of a loom that
    would eliminate this required the invention of many new devices. There were about six men who made
    major contributions, but the most important innovations were the work of James Northrop, so when the
    new loom was finally ready to market, it was sold under the name of the Northrop loom. The first of them
    were delivered in 1894. It was a revolutionary development in the cotton weaving industry and Drapers
    sold hundreds of thousands of them well into the twentieth century.

    A longer version of this article.   The Dutchers and their business.    The development of the Northrop
    loom.       Draper inventors     The Draper and Dutcher temples.    

    Recent deaths:

    Harold G. Taft, 103, November 29, 2008.

    Peter Ellis, Jr., 50, December 5, 2008, HHS 1976.

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