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Watkins Mill: Factory on the Farm

Overview

When Waltus Watkins, a successful farmer and entrepreneur, decided to open a woolen mill on his rural western Missouri property in the late 1850s, he was not just undertaking another commercial venture. By locating the factory on his farm rather than in one of the thriving nearby towns, Watkins was making a conscious decision to blend agriculture and industry. In so doing, he addressed a philosophical question that had been raised a generation before by Thomas Jefferson and others: the role of technology in a ...
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Overview

When Waltus Watkins, a successful farmer and entrepreneur, decided to open a woolen mill on his rural western Missouri property in the late 1850s, he was not just undertaking another commercial venture. By locating the factory on his farm rather than in one of the thriving nearby towns, Watkins was making a conscious decision to blend agriculture and industry. In so doing, he addressed a philosophical question that had been raised a generation before by Thomas Jefferson and others: the role of technology in a largely agrarian society. As the United States entered the Industrial Revolution and then the Civil War, the folkways and nature of work changed drastically. Watkins Mill reflects that transition, as Watkins embraced new technologies yet clung to a more traditional and paternalistic management style. In seeking to shape the values and habits of his employee-neighbors through local institutions such as the school and church, he left his mark on an entire community.

Sixteen pages of full-color photos of the mill buildings, machines, documents, and textiles still remaining at the Watkins Mill State Historic Site help tell the story of a distinct midwestern stage of nineteenth-century industrialism, as played out in western Missouri by one enterprising individual.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931112222
  • Publisher: Truman State University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Driving on in the same old way 1
2 Too good a home there to leave 20
3 Good judgment and attention 40
4 Leaders of the neighborhood 55
5 This unholy war 71
6 A reputation not surpassed by any in the west 87
7 Considerable knowledge and mechanical ingenuity 113
8 None but sober and industrious men need come here 145
9 The last time we'll turn the wheels 164
Epilogue : what eventually will become of the mill? 177
App. A Watkins mill chronology 191
App. B Abbreviated family tree 196
App. C Hierarchy of Watkins mill employees, 1870 198
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