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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mill life on Chandler Street

Don Himsel

Editor’s Note: Imagine Nashua: Then & Now is a weekly photo column by Don Himsel. Each week, he will feature an old photo within a more recent photo and an explanation of how he got the shot.

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Editor’s Note: Imagine Nashua: Then & Now is a weekly photo column by Don Himsel. Each week, he will feature an old photo within a more recent photo and an explanation of how he got the shot.

Head up Chandler Street, head towards Lock Street and just over the crest of the hill is a series of row houses, descendants, I suspect, of the group pictured in this old photo.

I found this image at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Mass. Mill owners built both single-family homes and tenement housing for the scores of workers they needed. Some were dormitory-
like boardinghouses operated by a “keeper,” a woman who outfitted the place herself and was essentially the house mother. Others were apartment-style buildings like these, occupied by groups or families.

Regardless of the arrangement, it was expected that workers followed the mill’s rules. Here is what the Jackson Company, which operated south of this spot on the Nashua River, spelled out for its employees. This posting is also from the same museum and spelling is at it appears:

“The Overseers are to be punctual in their rooms at the starting of the Mill, and not be absent unnecessarily during working hours. They are to see that all those employed in their rooms are in their places in due season, and keep a correct account of their time and work. They may grant leave of absence to those employed under them, when there are spare hands in the room to supply their places; otherwise they are not to grant leave of absence, except in cases of absolute necessity.

“All persons in the employ of the Company are required to observe the regulations of the room where they are employed. They are not to be absent from their work without consent, except in case of sickenss, and then they are to send information to the Overseer of the cause of their absence.

“A due adherence to the regulations of the houses where they board is expected. Ten o’clock in the evening is the hour for closing the houses for the night.

“All persons employed in the mill are required to regard the Sabbath, and attend some place of public worship, and an habitual disregard of this requirement – the use of profane or indecent language, in or out of the mills-immoral conduct – the use of ardent spirits as a drink, and the wilful violation of any of these regulations, will be a sufficient reason for dismissing the person from employment.

“All persons entering into the employment of the Company are to work as many hours as the mills run, which will be the same as heretofore, and that time will be considered a day’s work.

All persons intending to leave the employment of the Company are to give two weeks’ notice of their intention, and work the time out, and their engagement to the Company is not considered as fulfilled unless they comply with this regulation. All persons who are taken as new hands and learned to work, will be required to stay at least six months.

“Any person who shall take from the mills or yard any yarn, cloth or other property belonging to the Company, will be liable to prosecution therefor.

“These Regulations are to be considered as included in the contract with all persons entering into the employment of the Company.

“Overseers hiring help are not allowed to set them to work until they produce a copy of these Regulations with their name signed to the contract below.

– M.A. Herrick, Agent of the Jackson Company

NASHVILLE, N.H. – I, THE UNDERSIGNED, do hereby agree to conform to the foregoing Regulations as the terms of my contract with the Jackson Company.”

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Don on Twitter @Telegraph_DonH.