New Hampshire Tidbits: Temple and The First Glass Factory

glass bottlesA glass factory of considerable extent and remarkable for its employment of Hessians and Waldeckers who were deserters from the British army was established 1779 or 1780 at Temple, NH by a Mr. Hewes of Boston, but was burned down in 1780-81 and was not rebuilt; some of its products, a glass plate, etc. are in Harvard University.” [from Johnson’s universal cyclopedia: a scientific and popular treasury; Vol 3: Glass, American Manufacture of”, p 506]

This curious statement immediately held my attention.  Though New Hampshire has been renown for several types of manufacturing, I had not thought glass was among them.  Though touted as such, Temple’s factory was not the first glass factory in colonial America, though it probably was the first in New Hampshire. The History of Temple (NH) gives great detail about the factory which, like the above pronouncement states, burned down, and Robert Hewes’ attempts to rebuild it.

The Jamestown colony (Virgina) no doubt was the site of America’s first glassworks.  The

Examples of South Jersey glass.

Examples of early Southern New Jersey blown glass. Photograph by J.W. Brown.

second oldest was probably in Salem, Massachusetts.  “The first glass house in Massachusetts, and the first to which a date can be assigned, was erected in Salem about 1639.  In this year Ananias Concklin, Obadiah Holmes, and Lawrence Southwick received two acres of land each “adjoining to their houses,” which was granted to them as “glass men,” for the purpose of promoting the manufacture of glass. [Report on the Manufacture of Glass, by the United States Census Office, 1884, page 89].  The famed New Jersey glass makers did not begin their work for another one hundred years in 1739.

As for the man, Robert Hewes, who started the aforementioned New Hampshire glass venture–he was born in Boston MA in 1751. The manufacture of glass was not his only interest, as he also manufactured soap and glue (1795), was a hog-butcher (1800), a fencing master (1805), and a bone-setter. Though he married he left no children.

Other early New Hampshire glass-making factories were located at Keene New Hampshire (1814), Stoddard in 1857, and Lyndeborough in 1866.

SEE Report on the manufacture of glass, by the U.S. Bureau of Census, Statistical Research Division, Joseph Dame, 1883. Internet Archive. “Glass Making in New Hampshire.”

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