With a strong, captive water source from the Sebasticook River, an ample work force and town officials willing to make necessary concessions to attract a large, new business, industrial expansion on a formidable scale was inevitable in the Village. When it happened in 1862, it forever changed the history of Hartland.

Linn Woolen Mill from Pittsfield Avenue

 

There were numerous small industrial businesses located throughout Hartland Village and in the outlying areas of North Hartland & West Hartland since the early settlement of the region. They included several sawmills, blacksmith shops, gristmills, brick foundries, a shoe shop and a carding mill, among others. All of them provided important contributions to the overall growth and prosperity of the town however most operated with just a handful of employees with none of them employing more than a dozen people or so.

By the mid-1800s, new production techniques and advancements in technologies were being utilized by the industrial sector including an efficient harnessing of steam power which in turn relied on a steady water source. Industrial expansion on a larger scale was inevitable in the Village with a strong water source provided by the Sebasticook River, an ample work force and town officials willing to work with a new industry.

In 1860, the businesses located at the Lower Dam on Main Street included the original William Moor Sawmill (S. M.) & Gristmill (G. M.), the John Page Tannery, the Stinchfield Carding Mill and 3 Blacksmith Shops (B. S. S.). Commercial Street (then known as North Street) was home to only a handful of residences and a single general store.

Hartland Village – 1860

 

Linn Woolen Mill | 1862-1889

 Archibald Linn (1818-1889) was born in Biggar, Scotland where he was raised and educated. He married Grace Wilson about 1840 and they moved to her native town of Galashiels, Scotland where 3 children were born to them; Christiana, Robert & Thomas, who died as a young child. He engaged in the woolen mill business in Galashiels before he left Scotland for America arriving in Boston by ship on June 9, 1848 with Grace and their 2 surviving children. He worked at woolen mills in Cherry Valley, Saugus and Lawrence, Massachusetts for the next 10+ years where 3 more children were born to them; Thomas, Mary & William.

In the late 1850s, Linn came from Lawrence to Dexter where he co-owned and operated an existing woolen mill with David Campbell, a native of Galashiels, which had been built in 1846 (future Fay-Scott location). With the success of his new mill in Hartland, Linn later sold his shares in the Dexter mill to Mr. Campbell in 1864.

In 1862, Archibald Linn came to Hartland where he found conditions quite suitable to build and operate his own woolen mill. Mr. Linn built the new Linn Woolen Mill next to the Lower Dam on Main Street encompassing the site of the original sawmill off Commercial Street which had been constructed by William Moor around 1800. Linn also purchased and operated the existing grist mill located next to his new building. The timing of the new woolen mill’s construction coincided with the breakout of The Civil War providing Linn an opportunity to garner a lucrative contract from the government to produce ‘Union Blue’ wool and the new Linn Woolen Mill prospered greatly.

Insurance Company Rendering of Linn Woolen Mill – 1874  (Photo courtesy of American Woolen Mill Museum, Ohio)

 

The new mill dramatically changed the landscape of Main Street as well as inducing several new store businesses to open in the village. Up until 1880, equipment shared by the town’s fire department was stored at the mill. It was a convenient arrangement until a massive weekend fire at the Fuller-Buck Store at Warren Square in late 1879 forced the town to rethink its equipment and storage strategy when its firefighters were unable to access the equipment locked up at the mill in time to save the building.

Linn Woolen Mill (right) & Grist Mill looking West on Main Street from Baptist Church Steeple – c1877

 

The original Linn Woolen Mill building seen below across the river from the future Hubbard Avenue. The mill’s original peaked roof gives us an important hint to the time period along with the catwalk seen crossing to the Grist Mill as drawn in the 1874 insurance rendering above.

Original Linn Woolen Mill – c1877

 

Upon moving to Hartland, Archibald & Grace purchased the house below on Commercial Street from Sewell E. Prescott . The house was originally owned by his father, Sewell Prescott who had moved to Hartland from Monmouth in the early 1820s. By the time they moved to Hartland, their youngest son William Linn had passed away in Dexter in May of 1863 at 3 yrs old followed by their oldest daughter Christiana Linn who passed away in August of 1863 at 20 yrs old leaving Robert, Thomas & Mary as their only surviving children.

Archibald Linn (center) hosting Linn Woolen Mill Employees at his Commercial Street Residence

 

Archibald & Grace Linn were known for their numerous social gatherings at their home including those with family, friends or employees.

Family & Friends at the Linn Residence on Commercial Street

 

Archibald Linn’s business, real estate and political interests were vast. Along with his woolen mill, he also operated a grist mill and granite quarry. He was a Maine State Senator in 1879-’80 and played a leading role in bringing the Sebasticook & Moosehead Railroad to Hartland in 1886. Linn purchased numerous houses and real estate in Hartland, much of which would later be sold in the Great Auction of 1932. He also donated some 900+ acres of his large land holdings on Great Moose Lake for the Wild Goose Club’s Castle Harmony complex built in 1872.

Former Archibald & Grace Linn Residence as later owned by Elmer Burton – c1940

 

Work conditions at the woolen mill or any factory in these times were particularly dangerous. Workers performed their tasks under minimal natural light from the windows and a few gas lights. There were unprotected drive belts and open machinery parts with numerous accidents reported over the years. One particular deadly accident was reported in the Bangor Whig newspaper as noted:

February 23, 1878: “Isaiah Woodbury (III) was instantly killed on Saturday in Lynn’s Woolen Mill in Hartland, being caught in a belt.”

March 2, 1878: “The reporter says that Mr. Isaiah Woodbury (II), father of the young man who was killed at Linn’s Mills in Hartland, was at work in the woods at the time of the accident, and on the same day had a presentiment of his son’s death. The effect upon his mind created considerable alarm among the men at work with him. He left his work and arrived at his home just as the messenger came to communicate the sad intelligence of his son’s death.”

Isaiah Woodbury III was 36 years old at the time of his death. He was born in Hartland in 1841, the son of Isaiah Woodbury II & Mary “Polly” Cook. He was a Civil War Veteran and had married Mary Nevens. Their daughter Adeline Woodbury would marry Allen R. Burton who would later operate “A. R. Burton & Son” store on Commercial Street.

Linn Woolen Mill Workers – c1877

 

Along with the new woolen mill, Linn also built a storage building on Main Street beside the Drug Store (future Robert E. Latty Hardware Store) and the Linn Woolen Mill Company Office (future Library) on Commercial Street next to his residence. Several new stores had been built along Commercial Street after he built the mill in 1862.

Hartland Village – 1883

 

The Great Flood of 1887 caused major damage to numerous Hartland industries at the Lower Dam including the Linn Woolen Mill and the John Page Tannery; likely part of the reason for the end of his tannery operations soon after. Greenville Shaw’s Tannery, which was located at the Upper Dam, also ceased operations soon after this time and this flood was likely the cause of its eventual demise.

Pittsfield Advertiser – 1887: “The dam between Linn’s Mill and the Grist Mill gave way Sunday morning and the vents through the bridge being choked, the water broke across the street in front of the Grist Mill and the lower end of the dye house gave way on Tuesday. The Buck Store is very insecure, knocked out some of the area supports. The water went into Morrison’s (Carding) Mill, Knowle’s Shop and White’s Blacksmith Shop. The modus operandi in getting from the west side of the Post Office (on Commercial Street) consists of going up into the Grist Mill, climbing over a lot of flour barrels, through a window upon the roof of a shed and then from the lower side by a plank laid across the rushing water. The section of town known as “Georgetown” is more or less submerged. A house owned by Major (James) Fuller is described at an abrupt angle Sunday, the foundation having gradually been worn away. (future George Mead House) The Boat House at the Upper Dam and a wing dam connecting to the end of (Greenville) Shaw’s Tannery were carried away. Mr. (Amasa) Moor’s Sawmill is all right but on Sunday, some 10,000 logs belonging to him went down river.”

St. Paul (Minnesota) Daily Globe – May 6, 1887: “THE FLOOD IN MAINE: The woolen mills and other factories at Hartland are flooded, and five stores there are undermined and fell from their foundations causing great loss. Boats are used to pass along the streets, and hardly a building has escaped. Archibald Linn, the great mill owner, is the heaviest loser. His damage will be over $150,000, it is thought, and two months will be required to get the factory running.”

Linn Woolen Mill

 

As compiled from an 1896 article in the Pittsfield Advertiser, the town of Galashiels, Scotland had an extensive history in the textile industry and furnished five men who had so potent an influence in the building of woolen manufacturing in Maine including Robert Dobson of Pittsfield (Pioneer Woolen Mill), Archibald Linn of Hartland (Linn Woolen Mill), David Campbell of Sangerville (Dexter Woolen Mill), Lewis Anderson of Skowhegan and Thomas Walker of Warren. All of them became successful woolen manufacturers and took a prominent place in developing the resources of the State and building up their respective localities.

Linn Manufacturing Company | 1889-1915

Archibald Linn was predeceased by his wife, Grace (Wilson) Linn in 1884. Following his death on November 18, 1889, the mill’s operations were taken over by his 3 surviving children, Thomas Archibald Linn, Robert Wilson Linn, Sr and Mary Isabelle (Linn) Fuller along with her husband, Henry Clay Fuller . As noted in Henry’s obituary, he had been hired by Mr. Linn soon after he had married Mary in 1875 when “he was taken into the Linn Office in a confidential capacity, and as he became an expert in wool manufacturing, relieved Mr. Linn of the cares of management for many years.” 

In his Will, Archibald Linn had recommended Henry oversee the business operations with Linn praising Fuller’s management and business skills. Linn also noted in his Will his son Thomas A. Linn should play a major role in the company as well as his other son, Robert W. Linn, Sr. With Archibald’s blessings, Fuller became President & General Manager of the reorganized Linn Manufacturing Company and with the other Linn heirs, led the way for a new woolen mill building addition in 1892. Archibald Linn’s vast real estate holdings and business interests initially remained, per his Will, under the watch of his friend and Estate Trustee, Greenville Jefferson Shaw.

Former Linn Woolen Mill from Hubbard Avenue

 

Since 1879, Archibald Linn has been suggesting an expansion to his original set of buildings. Soon after the Great Flood of 1887, and the resulting demise of the John Page Tannery on the lower side of the Main Street Dam, Linn approached the town requesting a 10 year tax abatement on a new set of buildings. Although Linn died in 1889, a special Town Meeting in 1890 granted the abatement to the new Linn Manufacturing Company who in turn built a new addition to the Linn Woolen Mill about 1892 on Main Street at the former Page Tannery location.

New Linn Woolen Mill Lower Addition on Main Street – c1892

 

Pittsfield Advertiser – June 28, 1894:

The Linn Woolen Mill in Hartland has received a $25,000 order for shawls from the U. S. Government for the use of Indians on the Reservations in the West.”

The 3 Linn Heirs with their spouses and other Linn Family members posed for a photo on the roof of the new lower mill. The names are listed on the back of the photo but they are not identified as to match who is who. Noted to be in the photo are Thomas Archibald Linn & wife Clarabelle (Osborne), Robert Wilson Linn & wife Eva (Weymouth), Mary Isabelle (Linn) with husband Henry Clay Fuller and 2 other unknown couples noted as Linn Cousins and likely included William “Bill” Linn, Jr, a nephew of Archibald Linn.

Members of the Linn Family pose on the roof of the new woolen mill addition – c1900

 

As seen in this close-up crop from the 1896 Map, the Linn Manufacturing Company’s woolen mills expanded across the entire Lower Dam area on Main Street replacing the former John Page Tannery and most of the stores and blacksmith shops which formerly stood on the lower side of the dam.

Hartland Village – 1896

 

For several decades, much of Hartland’s public water supply was controlled by the Linn Woolen Mill including several fire hydrants the company maintained and leased to the town. With advances in modern plumbing becoming more available and affordable to individual residences after the turn of the century, Hartland eventually developed its own independent means of supplying water with the creation of the Hartland Water Company in 1911 which constructed a 6 mile water main pipeline from Starbird Pond.

Linn Woolen Mills from Water Street

 

In 1901, Henry C. Fuller and his son-in-law George Teel Osborne expanded operations of the Linn Manufacturing Company with a new business called the Fuller-Osborne Company which they financed by raising $20,000 of capital through the sale of stocks. The new company had several business interests including real estate, newspaper printing, a greenhouse operation on Elm Street and clothing production.

 

To help finance the company, $20,000 of Capitol Stock was offered with each stock valued at $12.50.

Fuller-Osborne Company Stock Certificate purchased by Frank L. Griffith – 1915  (Donated by the Griffith Family)

 

Among its numerous business ventures, the largest and most successful was the Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Company which produced skirts and other clothing items and was initially located in the rear section in the original woolen mill building before operations were moved to the new mill building as noted in a Pittsfield Advertiser article from December 12, 1901: “The entire third floor of the new mill contains the plant of the Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Company, which is doing an extensive business in manufacturing of ready-made clothing, ladies’ capes, skirts and other lines of goods of this character.”

Original photo noted as “Home of Sebasticook Skirts” taken from Commercial Street  (Courtesy of Maggie Smith)

 

On March 11, 1903, Henry Clay Fuller succumbed to a long battle with Tuberculosis at just 49 years old at Boston City Hospital where he had gone to seek advanced treatment. Henry & Mary had just recently built the Fuller Mansion on Elm Street in the late 1890s and the Scotch Thistle Greenhouse next to it in 1901 when he passed away.

Fuller Mansion & Scotch Thistle Greenhouse on Elm Street – c1910

As noted in his 1903 obituary, Henry C. Fuller also personally invested in other local area business interests. “Several years ago Mr. Fuller, with George Dobson and J. W. Manson of Pittsfield, bought the woolen mill in Newport, which has been successfully operated by them since that time. Of this corporation, Mr. Fuller was the Treasurer and Wool Buyer.”

Newport Woolen Mill – c1905

 

Although Henry Fuller’s death was a devastating loss to the company, Thomas Archibald Linn, who had been Treasurer of the Linn Manufacturing Company since 1889, was able to step into the role as its President following Henry’s death and continued operating the businesses with great success while living with his family on Blake Street.

A 1902 article notes, “Thomas was educated in the public schools of Lawrence, Massachusetts, where the family moved when he was a young child, and also attended an Episcopalian school at Portland, Maine. He went into the mills to work at Lawrence when very young, and learned the business of textile manufacturing from bottom to top. He engaged in manufacturing on his own account, and at the present time is Treasurer of the Linn Manufacturing Company, of Hartland, Maine, and is an owner in the Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Company of the same town. He has taken a leading position among the manufacturers of his section and has done much to make the town of Hartland a busy industrial center.”

Linn Woolen Mill from Pittsfield Avenue

 

On November 13, 1903, Greenville Jefferson Shaw also passed away. Shaw had been a close friend and business associate of Archibald Linn for many years and had been named by Linn to be the Executor of his Estate in his Will. Shaw’s great success in the tanning business in Hartland and his numerous other endeavors, breeding champion race horses at his Century House on Commercial Street among others, had made him an invaluable overseer for the young Linn heirs and most certainly a wise and experienced voice of reason in some of their early business decisions.

 

Officers of the Fuller-Osborne Company in 1907:

President, Robert Wilson Linn, Sr; Secretary, Thomas Archibald Linn; Treasurer, George Teel Osborne & Superintendent, D. A. Packard.

Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Company

 

As their clothing manufacturing business grew, demand for labor increased significantly over the years.

Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Help Wanted Ad – 1905

 

The company’s trademark “Sebasticook Walking Skirt” became a very popular fashion item nationally and was in such high demand in 1907 that they were unable to fill orders by the end of the year. They eventually expanded some of their production in Pittsfield.

Sebasticook Walking Skirt featured in a 1907 Advertisement

 

In 2020, a group of followers from the Hartland Historical Society’s Facebook Group rallied together to purchase an original Sebasticook Walking Skirt manufactured by the Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Company being offered for sale online and graciously donated it to the Hartland Historical Society for our collection.

                                     

Sebasticook Walking Skirt as seen on the online advertisement

Close Up of the Sebasticook Walking Skirt Details

 

Officers of the Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Company – 1910

(L-R): Fred Fuller, Percy Butterfield & Jim Young  (Courtesy of Maggie Smith)

 

New Building Addition of the Linn Woolen Mill – c1910

 

Along with its many other business endeavors, the Linn Manufacturing Company also took great interest in the Upper Dam. In 1900, they acquired the rights to the dam and the former Moor Family woodworking buildings off Mill Street from Walter H. Moore. One of the Moor Woodworking buildings was purchased by Frank Griffith around 1904 and moved to Mill Street where he operated his woodworking shop. It remains unclear so far what they did at the rest of the woodworking buildings but they were operated by Fred S. Burrill by 1917 before being sold in the Great Auction of 1932. Water was a vital resource for providing steam power at their woolen mill operations further downstream and controlling its flow appeared to be a major priority for the company when it rebuilt the Upper Dam in the early 1900s.

Upper Dam Rebuild

 

Upper Dam Purchase Article – Pittsfield Advertiser – July 4, 1901

“A year or more ago the Linn Woolen Company purchased from Walter Moor the water power at the Moor Mill, paying a large sum, and now has one of the best powers in the state for its business. Between the Upper Dam and the dam at the Linn Woolen Company’s mill there is quite a mill pool and by regulating the gates at the Upper Dam the head of water on the Linn Company’s wheels is maintained at a given point at all times and there is sufficient amount so that the company will never in all probability be called upon to use steam for power, notwithstanding an immense power is required to run the machinery in both their mills.

The company is now having a new boiler set which will increase the amount of steam available by 100 horse power to be used in dyeing and as needed for other purposes. The company’s business at present is as good probably as most any mill in the state, but the proprietors do not regard the outlook as especially bright. The conditions of the woolen business are not of a very settled character and as a well-known woolen manufacturer remarked Friday, the reputation of a firm does not count now in the sale of goods. It’s the fabric that talks and the mill that banks upon a reputation acquired in the past is wasting valuable time. It’s the mill that meets the demand that gets the orders.”

 

The exact date is currently unknown but probably between 1900 and 1910, the Linn Manufacturing Company razed the old Fairgrieve Homestead and built 4 identical houses on their Hubbard Avenue property likely for use by some of their management employees and families. The 4th house had a garage located on the outside of the bend which eventually completed the now familiar horseshoe shaped road. They would be sold during the Great Auction of 1923.

Linn Woolen Mill’s 4 houses on Hubbard Avenue – 1923

 

Another fatal accident at the Linn Woolen Mill as reported by the Pittsfield Advertiser on March 23, 1905:

“Ronald Bean, 24 years old, was fatally scalded in the dye room of the Linn Woolen Mill in Hartland on Friday. Mr. Bean was stirring wool in the dye vat and standing between that vat and one of boiling hot water. In reaching with a fork into the dye vat, he lost his balance and fell backward into the scalding water. He was hastily rescued from the vat, but was so badly scalded that Dr. Jennie Fuller, who was first summoned and who dressed the burns, gave almost no hopes of his recovery and his death resulted Sunday evening. The deceased was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Dana Bean of Harmony who were both hastily summoned after the accident and remained with their son until his death. This is one of the saddest and most terrible accidents to occur in Hartland for many years.”

Linn Woolen Mill from Pittsfield Avenue

 

Main Street – c1912

 

A little over 11 years after taking over the leadership of the Linn Manufacturing Company and the Fuller-Osborne Company, Thomas A. Linn passed away on April 21, 1914 at 59 years old. Thomas had successfully continued the companies operations and growth following the death of his predecessor and brother-in-law Henry C. Fuller in 1903.

Main Street – c1912

 

There were undoubtedly numerous circumstances which contributed to the demise of the Linn Manufacturing Company but one significant factor which directly coincided with the company’s eventual end came with the death of Thomas A. Linn. The company seemed unable to successfully function from this point on and finally bowed to financial pressures declaring bankruptcy the following year in 1915.

Linn Woolen Mill from Pittsfield Avenue

 

With the end of the Linn Manufacturing Company, the American Woolen Company, which had been buying up numerous other woolen mills in the area, leased the Linn Woolen Mill buildings in 1915 and began a new era of wool production and employment in Hartland. Its story is continued on the American Woolen Company page.