The Otis Company of Ware, Massachusetts, was founded in 1839 and became a major producer of textiles, including checks, denims, and cotton underwear. At the height of their operations, the company operated three mills with a workforce of over 1,300. The collection contains correspondence between Otis agent Henry Lyon and the firms of Parks, Wright & Co. (1846-47) and Wright, Whitman & Co. (1847), both of Boston. It includes bills, invoices, letters, and memos, covering orders for such goods as lamp glasses, patent starch, whale oil, gas pipes, bales of cotton, pot and pearl ashes, fish glue, sour flour, fire buckets, potato starch, tar, sheet copper, and indigo.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Otis Company
The Otis Company of Ware Massachusetts was founded by James W. Otis in 1839 with capital of $350,000. It purchased a part of the property of the Hampshire Manufacturing Company that lay north of the Ware River, and at the time of its incorporation in 1840, the company employed 211 people, later swelling to a workforce of over 1,300. A manufacturer of textiles, including checks, denims, and cotton underwear, the company operated three mills, including one in Palmer (Three Rivers).
The collection consists of correspondence from Parks (Luther), Wright (John S.), & Co. (1846-1847), and later from Wright, Whitman (E. P.) & Co. (1847), merchants of Boston (97 Milk St.), to Mr. Henry Lyon, agent of Otis Company. Included among the correspondence are bills, invoices, letters, and memos, covering orders for such goods as lamp glasses, patent starch, whale oil, gas pipes, bales of cotton, pot and pearl ashes, fish glue, sour flour, fire buckets, potato starch, tar, sheet copper, and indigo. The correspondence principally deals with routine information relating to the invoices and bills. Other information of a "non-routine" nature is also present; especially significant are the letters of February 2 and May 21, 1847 concerning a vote of the board of directors respecting a "Guarantee Account" and a letter respecting eight Richmond Looms, for No. 3 Mill, to make ginghams.
The individual items in this collection are arranged chronologically from September 1846 through September 1847. The invoices and bills are identified with an original numerical identity [#355-409, Nos. 2-8], as well. The records are not complete as evidenced by the existing chronological and numerical gaps.
Acquired from John Foster, Agricultural and Resource Economics Department, University of Massachusetts Amherst, May 1990. The records were found by him in the attic of Draper Hall in a departmental file folder labeled with the date "1964/65". This collection is part of Accession #90-020.
This collection is part of Accession #90-020.
Processed by Mike Milewski, summer 1990.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: Otis Company Records (MS 310). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.