Documentary History of American Water-works

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New England States Massachusetts Tyringham

Tyringham, Massachusetts

Tyringham was incorporated as a town in 1767.

The water from Hop Brook was found to be very conducive to making quality paper and several paper mills located in the area.  Perhaps the most prominent papermaker was Elizur Smith, whose "Turkey Mill" produced the finest writing paper in the United States.  Smith brought water from Hop Brook through wood pipes by 1835, and other mills may have done so earlier.  The paper mills eventually closed and moved closer to the railroad in Lee.

Tyringham also had a Shaker Community from 1792 until shortly after the Civil War.  It had an extensive water system to power their mills that used wooden pipes, but no evidence has been found that they distributed water for domestic purposes as did other Shaker settlements.

There is currently no public water supply in Tyringham.

1903 Walden's Stationer and Printer, 20(7):16 (October 26, 1903)
An interesting article appeared recently in "Berkshire Hills" regarding the old Turkey paper mills at Tyringham, which once made some of the finest writing paper in the world. The product of this mill took the World's Fair first premium in London nearly a half century ago which gave it unlimited name and fame on both continents. It was in 1799 that Captain Thomas Steadman came to Tyringham from Narragansett Pier, R. I., and purchased a mountain farm which took in the water privilege at this point. Elizur Smith the pioneer paper maker of southern Berkshire and the noted founder of the great Lee manufactories bought this historic Hop Brook privilege and erected thereon, with his partner, Plainer, a wooden structure which was quite sizable and was a large paper mill for those days.  The plant was known as the "Turkey Mill" and the selection of the site had been decided upon by Mr. Smith on account of the remarkable purity of the spring water on Bartown mountain and on another range of high land within a short distance from the works. In fact the location of the mill on this spot was not so much determined by the never-failing water privilege as by the remarkable adaption to the nearby springs to the manufacture of fine paper, a situation that was discovered by the pioneer Dalton paper maker, Zenas Crane, and similarly decided upon. Though the Turkey Mill was destroyed by fire fully twenty-five years ago, the site of the huge wooden water tank into which the spring water was reservoired, being brought over from the hills in bored pine logs, still pointed out, while from time to time remnants of these log conduits are come upon by agriculturalists in the fields and pastures in which they were trenched. For a number of years the Turkey Mill writing paper product was most popular and had a great sale both in Europe and the United States.

[1905] Tyringham: old and new, by John A. Scott
Page 31:  The Papermakes. It was in the era of the papermakers that Hop Brook presented a scene of greatest activity. The hills rang with the axes felling firewood, wagons rattled down into the vale with the product, tall chimneys belched black or yellow smoke, springs far back were tapped by wooden pipes for clear water to use in the paper itself; there was the song of the machinery, the laughter of the millhands. At least half the housewives in town boarded one or two or even twenty of the employees; wagons brought in rags from the railroad, and carried back the finished product; the local stores did a thriving business; the Lee stage ran weighted down with passengers at every trip; Sunday mornings the road was lined with men and women trudging into Lee to mass.
Pages 32-33:  The Turkey Mill.  The famous Turkey mill was erected on the site of the present Stedman rake factory in 1832 by Riley Sweet and Asa Judd, under the firm name of Sweet & Judd. It was started as a hand mill, making one sheet at a time on a wire mould, but soon it had two engines, a cylinder machine and made about 400 pounds of paper a day. Jared Ingersoll and George W. Platner bought the mill in 1833, and in 1835 Elizur Smith (founder of the present Smith Paper Co. of Lee) took an interest, the firm becoming Ingersoll, Platner & Smith. Mr. Ingersoll, however, soon sold out to his partners, and the mill remained Platner & Smith's until the former's death in 1855. In 1849 they introduced the first Fourdrinier machine used in this country, and began making water-marked, first-class paper. Soon they attained the reputation of making the best writing paper in the United States. By 1855 the mill had been enlarged and fitted with seven engines. Mr. Smith, however, withdrew his business to the railroad, and in 1869 the mill was rented to Watkins & Cassidy.  Within a short time it burned.  George W. Canon in 1872 erected a three-engine mill on the same sot, and he was succeeded in ownership by Robert Slee, of Poughkeepsie, but the new mill was never a success.  The building is now in service as a rake factory.

Tyringham Shaker Settlement Historic District

2017 Morris A. Pierce