With town officials willing to work with a new industry, a strong water resource provided by the Sebasticook River and an ample work force, industrial expansion was inevitable in the Village. When it happened in 1862, it forever changed the history of Hartland.
Sunset View from Pittsfield Avenue
There were numerous small industrial businesses located throughout Hartland Village and in the outlying regions 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 Biggor, Scotland. He was educated in his native place, married there and began a family. He arrived by ship in Boston with his wife, Grace (Wilson) Linn, and their 2 youngest children, Christiana & Thomas, on June 9, 1848 and worked in the woolen mills of Cherry Valley, Saugus, and Lawrence, Massachusetts for the next 12 years.
Linn and his family had moved to Dexter at the time of the 1860 Census. Mr. Linn operated an existing woolen mill (this mill was built in 1846 where Fay-Scott was eventually located) with David Campbell in Dexter until Linn sold out his share to Campbell.
In 1862, Archibald Linn came to Hartland where he found the conditions quite suitable to build and run his own woolen mill which he would operate as the Linn Woolen Mill for the next several decades. Mr. Linn also purchased and operated the grist mill which was located next to the woolen mill. The Civil War provided an opportunity for the new woolen mill to gather a lucrative contract to produce ‘Union Blue’ wool and the mill prospered greatly.
Insurance Company Rendering of Linn Woolen Mill – 1874 (Photo courtesy of American Woolen Mill Museum, Ohio)
Linn Woolen Mill (right) & Grist Mill looking West on Main Street from Baptist Church Steeple – c1877
The original Linn Woolen Mill across the river from the future Hubbard Avenue. The mill’s original peaked roof gives us an important hint of the time period along with the catwalk which can be seen crossing to the Grist Mill as drawn in the 1874 rendering above.
Original Linn Woolen Mill – c1877
Upon moving to Hartland, the Linn Family purchased the house below on Commercial Street from Sewell E. Prescott. The house was originally built by his father, Sewell Prescott, who had moved to Hartland from Monmouth in the early 1820s.
Archibald Linn (center) hosting Linn Woolen Mill Employees at his Commercial Street Residence
Former Prescott-Linn Residence – c1940
The Linns were known for their numerous social gatherings at their home including those with family, friends or employees.
Family & Friends Gather at the Linn Residence
Work conditions at the woolen mill or any factory in these days were particularly dangerous. Workers performed their tasks under minimal natural light from the windows & a few gas lights. There were unprotected drive belts and open machinery 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 his store, “A.R. Burton & Son” on Commercial Street.
Linn Woolen Mill Workers – c1877
The Linn Woolen Mill was built where the former William Moor Sawmill had been located at the Lower Dam. Linn also built a storage building (future Robert E. Latty Hardware Store) on Main Street beside the Drug Store and built 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
~ 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 (son of James Fuller, Jr). Henry Fuller & Thomas Linn become the chief officers of the newly renamed “Linn Manufacturing Company”. Linn’s vast real estate holdings and business interests initially remained under the careful watch of his good 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 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 his heirs who in turn built a new addition to the Linn Woolen Mill seen below on Main Street at the former Page Tannery location.
Linn Woolen Mill Lower Addition on Main Street – c1892
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 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 mill addition – c1900
As seen here on the close-up crop of the 1896 Map, the Linn Manufacturing Company Woolen Mills expanded across the entire Lower Dam area replacing the former Page Tannery and most of the stores and blacksmith shops which formerly stood on the lower side of the dam.
Hartland Village – 1896
Linn Woolen Mills from Water Street
In 1902, the Linn Manufacturing Company expanded their operations with a new subsidiary company called the “Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Company”. The new company produced skirts and other clothing items and occupied a section in the original mill building. The name Fuller-Osborne likely derived from a combination of Thomas Clay Fuller (husband of Mary Isabelle Linn) and George T. Osborne (father of Clarabelle Osborne who married Thomas Archibald Linn). At some point around this time, the Fuller-Osborne Printing Company was also formed. Details are scarce on this particular printing enterprise but we continue searching for more information.
Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Company
In 1907, Officers of the Fuller-Osborne Company included: Robert Wilson Linn, Sr, President; Thomas Archibald Linn, Secretary; George T. Osborne, Treasurer; D. A. Packard, Superintendent.
The company’s trademark skirt became a very popular national fashion item. It was in such high demand they were unable to fill orders by 1907.
Sebasticook Walking Skirt featured in a 1907 Advertisement
In 2020, a group of followers from Hartland Historical Society’s Facebook Group rallied together to purchase online an original Sebasticook Walking Skirt manufactured by Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing which was in turn graciously donated to the historical society for our collection.
An Original Sebasticook Walking Skirt
Close Up of the Sebasticook Walking Skirt’s Details
(L-R): Fred Fuller, Percy Butterfield & Jim Young – Officers of the Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Company – 1910
To help finance the company, $20,000 of Capitol Stock was offered with each stock valued at $12.50
Original Stock Certificate purchased by Frank L. Griffith – 1915 (Donated by the Griffith Family)
Original photo noted as “Home of Sebasticook Skirts” taken from Commercial Street
View from Pittsfield Avenue
New Addition of the Linn Woolen Mill – c1910
View from Pittsfield Avenue
There were undoubtedly numerous circumstances which contributed to the eventual demise of the Linn Manufacturing Company which had been operated by the heirs of Archibald Linn since 1889. At least 3 of the major contributing factors were the deaths of Henry Clay Fuller and Greenville Jefferson Shaw in 1903 followed by the death of Thomas Archibald Linn in 1914.
Main Street – c1912
Henry Clay Fuller, who married Archibald’s daughter, Mary Isabelle Linn, was personally recommended by Linn in his Will to operate his business with Linn praising his management and business skills. Linn also noted his son Thomas A. Linn should play a major role in the company as well as his other surviving son, Robert W. Linn, Sr. Fuller took control as President of the company and led the way for the new mill addition in 1892 and the formation of the Fuller-Osborne Manufacturing Company in 1902. He and Mary had just built the “Fuller Mansion” when he succumbed to Tuberculosis on March 11, 1903 at 49 years old. It was most certainly a blow to the new company.
Fuller Mansion on Elm Street – c1910
Later in November of 1903, Greenville J. Shaw also died. 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) made him an invaluable overseer for the young Linn heirs and most certainly a wise and experienced voice of reason in their business decisions.
Main Street – c1912
Thomas Archibald Linn, who had been the company’s Treasurer since 1889, was able to step into the role as President following Henry Fuller’s death and continued the business with great success while living with his family on Blake Street.
A 1902 article notes, “He 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.”
View from Pittsfield Avenue
A final blow which directly coincided with the company’s end came with Thomas’ death in 1914 at 59 years old. The company seemed unable to financially function without the leadership of these men and finally bowed to the financial pressures declaring bankruptcy in 1915.
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 mill buildings and begin a new era of wool production and employment in Hartland.