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Manufacturers Index - John A. White Co.
History
Last Modified: Oct 2 2016 6:09PM by Jeff_Joslin
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Advertisement from April 5, 1879 Scientific American

The firm D. C. Allen & Co. was taken over by Frank M. Stevens. After only a brief interval, John A. White took control in 1877. The works themselves were operated as Concord Machine Works, a name that may or may not have been used before White's tenure. Machines are marked variously with the names "Concord Machine Works", "John A. White, "J. A. White Co., N.H.", or minor variations of these.

In 1898, or shortly before, the company was taken over by Somersworth Machine Co. (a 50-year-old diversified company best known for their heating equipment), with John A. White serving on the board of directors. So far as we can tell the "John A. White Co." name was still used on the machinery despite the change in corporate ownership. In any event, the Somersworth company seems to have gotten into financial difficulty and by 1900 the company's various factories were being sold off, with the former John A. White plant being sold in April 1901 to one George Gage. Details are murky but somehow the John A. White Co. re-emerged from the ashes of Somersworth Machine Company.

In 1911 The John A. White Co. was purchased by Dover, NH, entrepreneur Joel Sheppard, who renamed the business to Dover Machine Works. Sheppard then purchased Hobbs Manufacturing Co., which had, a few years earlier, bought out the venerable Witherby, Rugg, & Richardson. Dover and Hobbs were merged to create National Woodworking Machinery Co.

Information Sources

  • David Lamb, a professional cabinetmaker who has a large collection of John A. White machinery, provided much of the information here.
  • Ben Campbell informed us of a John A. White Co. catalog in his possession. The catalog, containing an introduction by White and short list of his product line, has an F. M. STEVENS cover and interior pages. The F. M. STEVENS name on the cover has been crossed out and John A White hand written over it. Stevens, having taken over the business of D. C Allen & Co, would appear to have operated the manufactory for a very short time. The catalog states,
    Concord, N. H., October 22, 1877. Having assumed direct control of the Machine shop lately occupied by Frank M. Stevens, I wish to say to you that all orders and communications in regard to any of the above Machines will have prompt attention. Soliciting your correspondence and orders, I am yours truly, JOHN A. WHITE, Proprietor.
  • An 1881 Manufacturer & Builder article, about a machinery fair in Boston, mentions that White was exhibiting "band saws, pony planer, molding machine, cutter and grinder." One of several 1892 Manufacturer & Builder articles about the company reports that White bought out the Concord (N. H.) Machine Co., and relocated it to Dover. Several workers, including "E. F. Gordon, the well-known inventor and designer of wood-working machinery," relocated as well. The article hints that a new line of machinery was in development at that time; subsequent articles show several of these new machines, including bandsaws, band resaws, and tablesaws. The machines were designed with a system of interchangeable parts to ease manufacture and repair.
  • An 1892 ad lists bandsaws, dovetailing machines, molders, mortising machines, re-sawing machines, rip saws, sanding machines, tablesaws, shapers, swing saws, lathes, planers, planing-mill machinery, box machinery, carriage machinery, car-building machinery, furniture machinery, and wagon machinery.
  • Ben Campbell reports a catalog from National Woodworking Machinery Co. of Manchester, NH, that states the following in the Introduction:
    In these our first general catalog pages, we desire to call your attention briefly to the business change which took place June 8, 1911, whereby the National Woodworking Machinery Co. of Manchester, N.H., a new organization, purchased and combined the woodworking Machinery lines of the Witherby, Rugg & Richardson Co. and the Hobbs Manufacturing Co., of Worcester, Mass., with the John A. White Co., Dover, N.H.
    The catalog description appears to be a simplification of the history given above, which was researched by David Lamb.
Somersworth Machine Co.
  • The 1883 Manchester Directory by Sampson, Davenport, & Co., lists Somersworth Machine Co., Great Falls, Somersworth, as furnace manufacturers, gas works manufacturers, iron founders, machinists, pipe manufacturers, and water wheel manufacturers.
  • The 1887 book, Half-century's Progress of the City of Chicago.
    Somersworth Machine Company, Manufacturers of Steam Heating Apparatus, Improved Cast Iron Block Radiators, and Improved Indirect Radiators, No. 154 Lake Street, E. R. Ware, Manager.—The use of steam for warming buildings has latterly become well understood. The old fire-place, though a valuable auxiliary for ventilation, cannot be depended upon for warming purposes. The hot-air furnaces, with their long train of evils, are giving way rapidly to steam. Special attention is directed to Brown’s Improved Steam Heater, manufactured by the Somersworth Machine Co., and for sale in Chicago at the salesrooms of the Company, 154 Lake street. This heater is rapidly supplanting all others wherever introduced. The Somersworth Machine Co. has its factory in Great Falls, N. H., where it was incorporated in 1848, the business having been established in 1825 by Mr. M. Burleigh. The Company has a capital stock of $00,000 and employs three hundred and fifty hands, having one of the largest concerns of the kind in the east. They established their Chicago house in 1886, placing it in charge of Mr. E. R. Ware. This gentleman had been in business for himself in New York for twenty-five years, and was eminently well fitted for the management of the affairs of the Company at this point. He has control of the country west of Detroit and has already built up a fine growing trade. In the construction of Brown‘s Improved Steam Heater, it has been the aim of the manufacturers to produce an apparatus which should be economical in consumption of fuel, efficient in operation, easy of management, compact and durable, and they base their claim to success on the favorable opinions expressed by men of acknowledged mechanical ability who have investigated the construction and operation of this apparatus. These heaters are made of the best material, are thoroughly tested, and have always given perfect satisfaction wherever used. The Improved Cast Iron Block Radiators, manufactured by this Company, have a positive circulation, and are superior to all others, while their Improved Indirect Radiators combine the best features and meet all requirements. A visit to the warerooms of the Company in this city will satisfy the most sceptical as to the superiority of these inventions" The Company also manufactures and has for sale here the Automatic Edging and Stove Plate Grinding and Polishing Machine, and the Automatic Shive-Pulley Grinder, beside a full line of machinery for grinding and polishing purposes. Mr. Ware, the manager of the Chicago house, is a native of Worcester, Mass., in the prime of life, and a gentleman of business experience, capacity and ability, with whom it is always a pleasure to deal.
  • State of New Hampshire Reports, 1897-1898.

    1897, October. The Somersworth Machine Company shipped fourteen orders of goods to Japan the past year. Three hundred hands were employed.

    ...The Somersworth Machine Company, after a two weeks' suspension, resumed operations June, 1898.

  • The 1898 book, Dover, New Hampshire: Its History and Industries.
    Some of the most egregiously bloated prose has been elided in the extract below.

    The Somersworth Machine Company.

    This Company was incorporated under the laws of New Hampshire in 1848, as the Somersworth Machine Company, and located at Great Falls, now the City of Somersworth.

    ...The purchase of the Salmon Falls Stove Works was made soon after the foundation of the company and its business added to and conducted by this Company.

    The capacity of these two plants proving insufficient for the demands of the increasing business, a third and larger one was erected at Dover, to which place the Somersworth shop was transferred, thereby giving the company two splendidly equipped plants, within a radius of a few miles and simplifying the management of the business to a minimum.

    To the Dover plant has been added the extensive business of the John A. White Co. of Concord, manufacturers of all kinds of woodworking machinery, which has attained an enviable reputation in all parts of the world. This company is the most extensive of its kind in the world and through its agencies the machines are shipped to England, France, Germany, India, Japan, South America, Mexico and Canada. The Japanese Imperial government has purchased several machines and they are also used extensively by the various Japanese railroad companies. The Wm. White Textile Machine Co. of Nashua has also been added. The product of this company is famous all over the country for its excellent wool washing machinery,-dusters, drying machines, steaming and crabbing machines, and other special textile machines. ...

    Besides the manufacture of ranges, heating stoves, furnaces, sinks, hollow ware, etc., at Salmon Falls, and woodworking machinery and textile machinery at Dover, this company are makers of many different kinds of special machinery and pulleys, hangers and shafting, etc.

    The main shops of the company are located in Dover and consist of ten buildings, foundry, machine-shops, storehouses, pattern-shops, iron house, coal sheds and stables.

    ...The officers of the company are: President, O. S. Brown ; Treasurer, E. H. Gilman; Agent, James C. Sawyer; Directors, O. S. Brown, C. H. Sawyer, E. H. Gilman; J. A. White, and J. C. Sawyer. ...

  • 1900-07-19 The Iron Age.
    The plant of the Somersworth Machine Company at Dover, N. H., has been purchased by the Kidder Press Mfg. Company of Boston, and the latter concern will increase their capital under West Virginia laws and remove their manufacturing plant to Dover. The buildings are of fine modern construction, covering three of the nine acres of the site, and would accommodate 400 workmen. The company will get under way there in the fall, meanwhile putting in new machinery and adding a large crane to the equipment. They will manufacture high grade patented machinery in addition to their special line of presses, including some machines used in paper mill outfits, and give employment to upward of 200 hands, it is expected, at the outset.
  • 1900-08-16 The Iron Age.
    The Kidder Press Company of Boston, Mass., announce that they have purchased the plant of the Somersworth Machine Company, and in connection with their other business shall be in position to do a considerable business for outside parties in gray iron castings.
  • State of New Hampshire Reports, 1901-1902.

    Dover—In July, 1900, the Kidder Press company purchased the plant of the Somersworth Machine company and remodeled the same.

    George Gage purchased the plant of the John A. White company in April, 1901, and put it into condition for successful operation.

    Rollinsford—The stove foundry of the Somersworth Machine company at Salmon Falls passed into the hads of the Somersworth Foundry company in January, 1901.

  • The 1973 book, The History of the Town of Rollinsford, New Hampshire, 1623-1973, by Alfred Catalfo.
    In 1848, Milton Noyes, Arthur Noyes, Frederick A. Lord, Oliver Hill, Micajah C. Burleigh, Abraham Gilpatrick, Richard Davis, William Bedel, and Samuel D. Whitehouse organized the Somersworth Machine Company. They purchased the building which were once owned by William Henry Griffin and began to manufacture the famous White Mountain Stoves. These were "warranted to bake biscuits quicker than other stoves."