Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Scythe Making

Okay, here I'm going to mention a little something about one of my ancestors. His name was Nathan Putnam. Nathan was a farmer who also had a business of making scythe's, hoes, axes. He was the first to have a trip-hammer to help in the production of the scythe making. His son, Abner, who is in the direct line of my lineage, moved to Ludlow, MA. and continued making scythe's there.

Below is an excerpt from the "History of the Town of Sutton, Massachusetts, from 1704 to 1876" that speaks about this scythe making business. It was an important part of the development of a community, in much the same was as a blacksmith was.

making were also carried on at an early date–scythe making in particular. All these were at first beaten out by hand, afterward by the trip-hammers, operated in some cases by water-power and in some by horse-power.

There are several places in town which lay claim to the introduction of the first trip-hammer.

Mr. Oliver Hall says the first was put into operation by horse power by Mr. Nathan Putnam, who had a scythe shop near the house in which Mr. Hall now lives.

Mr. Putnam afterwards erected a building (the foundations of which may still be seen on the stream emptying into Manchaug pond, just below the village of West Sutton, a little west of the road to Manchaug, in which he had a trip-hammer operated by water-power. He forged his scythes in this building and finished them in the shop near his house. Scythes, hoes and axes were made at West Sutton–hoes and axes by Elder Samuel Waters and his son-in-law, Amos Waters, and axes by Cornelius Putnam.

End of Excerpt.

Nathan was b. 1730 d. 1813
The trip-hammer stayed in use throughout the first part of the 19th century. In 1839 the steam-powered drop hammer was invented and patented in 1842. By the end of the century the rolling mill and the adoption of puddling changed the steel industry.

But if you're writing in the early part of the 19th century, a trip-hammer was a mighty fine piece of machinery.

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