the method of operating. As to whether this mill—in the year 1818—was precisely the one built in 1751, Mr. Wilder states that it is likely there had been some renewals of the wood-work, but most of the iron-work was the original. It was impossible to break down the mill, from the fact that, if a heavy piece or a pair of tongs were passed in, the effect would be—after some squeaking of the timber-wheels—to stop everything."
The claim made that this rolling-mill was the first in America can not be substantiated, for, according to the evidence adduced, it was not erected until 1751; but it is certain that there were already several slitting-mills in operation in the colonies, as is proved by the certificates transmitted to the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations by the Governors, Lieutenant-Governors, or commanders-in-chief of his Majesty's colonies in America, in pursuance of an act of the twenty-third of his present Majesty's [George II, 1750] reign, containing accounts of any mill or engine for slitting or rolling of iron, and any plating-forge to work with a tilt-hammer, and any furnace for making steel, erected in any of his Majesty's colonies in America":
|Mill or engine for
slitting or rolling iron.
|Plating forge to work with
|Furnace for making|
|Maryland||. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||1, with two tilt-hammers.||. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|New Jersey||1, not now in use.||1, not now in use.||1, not now in use.|
|New York||. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||1""||. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|Connecticut||. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1||1|
|Massachusetts Bay.||1, 1||1||1|
By these certificates of 1750 it appears that in all the colonies there were four slitting-mills, two of which were in Massachusetts; and as Judge Peter Oliver's mill was not erected ("by special privilege") until 1751, it could not have been one of them, and for the same reason it is certain that it was not the first rolling-mill in America. Nevertheless the paper of Mr. Harrison is instructive and valuable, inasmuch as it gives us the only reliable technical information we have relative to the construction and operation of rolling and slitting mills in colonial times. In addition to the leading constructive features of this mill, we are given some facts regarding its administration, and are told that "about eight men were employed, at about one dollar per day; six heats, of about eight hundred pounds each, were made in twelve hours' running. One pint of rum was consumed for each heat, or more, according to the weather. The value of the forge iron was one hundred dollars per ton; nail-rods, one
- A Comprehensive History of the Iron Trade throughout the World, from the Earliest Records to the Present Period. By Harry Scrivenor. London, 1841.