Chelmsford Historical Society
Outline of Interview 1974 Ethel Booth
19-born Providence,R.I., October 2, 1895
28-moved to Chelmsford. in 1915 (December)
38-Mills were beginning to be affected by W.W.I; had not yet converted to the war industry
47-father a "pin setter" in Silesia Mills. It was a unique job there were only two or three in every mill
63-lived on Gay Street, at this time almost everyone owned homes there weren't any rentals available
67-rentals available only on Gay Street, there were three or four large tenement blocks
71-Miss Booth lived on library side
77-Silesia Mills, Southwell's today, it was part of the U.S. Worsted Mills, there were several, all with German names
94-began working in mills in Rhode Island at age 14; walked three miles to work
97-worked in Drawing Room, condensing sliver
104-wool came directly from fleece, was sorted by wool sorters then threaded into different fibers or dimensions
117-woven on looms
118-weekly pay was $7.40
124-work at Silesia was piecework in the Spooling Room
125-Silesia only produced spools which went elsewhere to be woven into cloth
129-George C. Moore Mills bordered on Gay Street
143-Moore was always going broke but he owned water rights to Stony Brook, so he always had water power to rely on
148-very good to people of the Town
153-left a home to two women, next to the Congregational Church
161-these two elderly women were willing to sell their house to the Congregational Church for $2500 during the Depression, but Church refused to buy it
166-the Church did buy it later, for about $20,000
172-home on Wright St.
185-U.S. Worsted took over when Moore went Bankrupt
202-Mr. Ingham, agent for U.S.Worsted, lived in brick house off Vinal Square (across from Common, next to Kennedy Drive
213-after 1915, Silesia Mills bought houses on Gay Street
217-these were possibly built by the Gay Family
221-Silver and Gay Iron Works
228-Silesia Mills, U.S. Worsted went bankrupt in 1928
230-worked in Drawing Room,then Superintendent's Office (1920 or 21)
241-Cost Office, then the Main Office
246-Billy Picken was boss
249-working day in the Drawing Room; before WWI the fleece was washed in olive oil and lime
254-during the war, wool and oil were more difficult to get
260-wool stored in cars on Railroad tracks
264-were parked for 48 hours, had to be unloaded within this time or demurrage occurred, that is, there was a charge for the delay
274-scouring machines, carding
280-began work at 7 AM 4 finished at 5 PM, in Rhode Island hours were 6AM to 6PM
300-Silesia Mills owned all the houses on Gay Street during WWI except those on the Library side which belonged to Emma Gay
322- Gay Street Library, on the Mill side s next to fenced in parking. lot; a 4 apartment block was on the other side
342-building was originally a school (?)
346-Town allowed an annual appropriation, Trustees provided the rest, (Royal Shawcross was involved)
353-Mrs Sheldon, Edwards Ave.
361-Gay Family gave land for library
371-Edwards Family left money to establish Beach
392-Family left money to McKay
397-Gay Street Library was a one room schoolhouse, there was no toilet, it was open from 3-5 and 7-9 on Wednesday and Saturday
406-it was small,there were few books; (referring to the North Section) "We really had nothing oven here as they wouldn't let our kids use the Center Library to get school books," this is one of the reasons McKay gave his house for use as a library
413-Center "just that way, the North paid three quarters of the taxes and got nothing, not even water"
419-Center wanted money from North
424-Center put in water, required a lot of pipe because the farms were spread out; North homes were closer together but didn't get water
434-North put its own Town water in just before 1915,paid for by North Chelmsford residents
441-the biggest taxes were paid in North because of the mills, and Procter Lumber was across from where St. John's Church is today
455-further division between North and Center was the conflict over the Center's refusal to allow North children to take books from the Center
459-there was only fiction at Gay Street,n o dictionaries "We had nothing"
465-Stewart McKay, lived with sister at hoUse which is now library
474-librarian always sat by the door
477-1949,State threw away all the books from Gay Street (not clear)
486-Stewart McKay taught at Lowell Tech
491-left house to be used as library
494-Town Meeting granted funds for renovation
502-people didn't come to this little library at first, because the prestige was in the Center
506-the McKay Library opened in 1949
521-Anna McKay was the first librarian
528-most of North's residents worked in the mills
530-had to walk or travel by electric car
532-many took train to Boston, especially those who owned big homes
559-story of becoming a Library Trustee, influence of Royal Shawcross
570-everyone knew everyone in Town, streets were named but not numbered
579-causes of the mill decline following WWI
583-in 1921 the mills closed for a time
592-impact on closings on North "It was amazing,we all thought it would be a destitute area" most people owned their own homes
596-but paople made out
598-large houses split up
601-the mill agent who was boss in the office found jobs elsewhere for those displaced
610-Miss Booth stayed with the mill one year after it closed
615-story of the mail train
632-job at Southwells, mill was off Vinal Square down by the River across the railroad tracks; formerly a towel factory
643-Southwell was from Rhose Island o started business in Chelmsford in 1924
654-Miss Booth started working for Southwell in February, 1929 for thirty one and a half years
655-mill moved to present mill site after flood of 1936, Silesia had been empty for years
658-Southwell was well known for his "top" that is, a ball holding yarn for spinning; with this device he superseded the reputation Of the Arlington Mills
663-Flood of 1936, started at Connecticut River (perhaps means Merrimack)
668-water reached road in Vinal Square l could only see out of mill from second floor window
674-previous day, mill had prepared for expected flood
679-assembled and organized all shifts to remove all "tops" from cellar; Southwell had just bought part of the Silesia Mill for storage
698-North Chelmsford' Machine and Supply, where Hadley's is today
703-Fletcher's Quarry,many people worked there summers, and in the mills during the winter
716-during WWI t two tracks were built from here to Fort Devens
727-Sandbank was along tracks, up Quigley Ave.
735-Chelmsford in early 1900's was farming community
738-North section most densly populated

Side 2
64-primary school,Princeton Blvd., 1865
74-no direct transportation line to Chelmsford Center t had to take electric car to Lowell then out to Center
78-Trolley car line,Merrimack to Central to Middlesex to Branch to Middlesex Branch Street originated because people on Middlesex street didn't want trolley tracks in front of their house at the time
98-tracks went through Vinal Square, then to Tyngsboro;for a time there was aline to Ayer, Fort Devens
125-Crystal Lake was very nice, in 1936 Varney Playground was built
140-it was very carefully planned and laid out
142-Edwards Beach was given by the Varney Family
151-Chelmsford Center didn't help much with upkeep & improvements
169-Vinal Square was once Stevens Corner, named after a Civil War Vet, Miss Booth felt it was wrong to rename it after WWII for A.W. Vinal
170-Vinal lived on Groton Road,before turn onto Main Street, house on left
193-Chelmsford a small town compared to Providence, R.I.
208-Village Block, long sidewalk in front
214-once a stopover for travelers from up North
229-Corner store, between Dunstable and Groton Roads
241-Groceries bought at Anderson's Meat Market
245-often groceries were bought in Lowell
266-post office was down by the railroad tracks, there's a gas station (abandoned) there now
274-Mr Scribner, Post Master
279-appointments were political
291-Dinnigan, a Democratic Selectman from North

End of interview
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