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The main mill building was constructed in the early 1800's and was named after the fulling mill (Parker Mills) whose foundation it now shares. The mill was rebuilt in 1848 after a fire destroyed part of the structure. Until the 1920's the main source of power was a centrifugal water wheel which powered the massive overhead shafting. The beams and trusses mostly wooden pegged are a study in strength and rigidity for which the ship-carpenters who designed and built them would have been justly proud today.
The bell in the cupola bears a date of 1851 and has called to work and to rest over six generations of loyal workers. Since 1819 Tremont Nail Company has survived the tests of time. Loyalty, determination, fortitude and ingenuity have once again succeeded in preserving this early American industry. It is truly a living museum.
Tremont Nail Company History
Nails in their crudest form date back to 3000 B.C. The Romans hand-forged them and they have been found in excavations and sunken ships from the period 500 A.D.
When our ancestors first stepped from the Mayflower onto that soil that was to become Plymouth County, they discovered a soil which was essentially sandy and difficult to cultivate. As they plowed for their fist crops, they noticed that the earth yielded small deposits of crude iron ore mixed with the ooze of the swampy regions. From this ore and with crude smelters, they separated the metal from the ore and began the fashioning of nails and metal tools they had left behind then when they sailed into the unknown.
Cooking utensils, shipfitters hardware, nails and wagon treads grew from this ore dug in the swamps where the cranberries grow today. As the Massachusetts Bay Colony grew, the residents of Wareham were able to supply newcomers with nails for their homes. The nail industry had been born.
The original factory was established by Issac and Jared Pratt in 1819 on the site of an old cotton mill which had been shelled and burned by the British in the War of 1812. Known originally as Parker Mills Nail Company, it later became known as the Tremont Nail Company. The first cut nail machines appeared during the late 1700's and the first machine to cut and head a nail in one operation was invented by Ezekiel Reed of Bridgewater, Mass.
The present nail factory has about 60 nail machines and was completed in 1848. Among those who managed the business in the early days are men whose names are famous throughout New England: John Avery Parker, William Rodman, Charles W. Morgan, Bartlett Murdock, Benjamin Fearing, William Caswell, Horace Pratt Tobey and William A. Leonard.
For almost 200 years, the company has achieved a reputation for skilled nail cutting that has made its product readily saleable throughout the markets of the world. Through all the changes and the hurried pace of modern industry the same product is still being produced for customers who prefer the superior holding power and durability of this time-tested nail.