Part 1, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12
The first tannery in Watertown was built by OLIVER TAYLOR, just back of where is now the Woodruff House. The water from the big spring ran through his grounds. After MR. FAIRBANKS came to Watertown, he bought out Mr. Taylor and removed his works up to the north side of State Street, on the grounds now covered by the dwelling house of S. POOL and others. Here Mr. Fairbanks carried on the business quite extensively a good many years, till the introduction of labor saving machinery required the use of water power to conduct the business profitably. ORRIS CHILDS was the foreman of the tanner, and it is no disparagement to any of his successors to say that he was a master of his trade in all its branches. One summer a certain person contracted to deliver at the tannery some 15 or 20 cords of hemlock tan bark. For the want of room at the works he was directed to cord it up at the side of the road, between the tannery and Mr. Childs' house, which stood on the hill that was where is now the Baptist church. Mr. Childs noticed that the man seemed to be taking special pains to pile up his bark as loosely as he could. Mr. Childs told him if he would come to the shop some of the men would come out and help him cord up his bark. But, no; the man thought it was hardly worth the trouble; he could do it himself. Now, Mr. Childs thought that was a game two could play at as well as one. However, he kept his own counsel, and when the man had but one or two loads more of bark to draw, he watched his opportunity when the boys at the school, just across the street, were out, after school was dismissed for the day. He called some of them, and in a pleasant way said he did not believe they could take hold of hands, three abreast, and run on top of that pile of bark to the other end and back again without falling off. Well, the boys rather thought they could, and soon convinced him that "some things could be done as well as others," and that they were the chaps to do it. When the man came the next day with the last load of bark the boys, nothing loth, came over to show him how highly they were pleased with their new sidewalk! He was satisfied that the less said about it the better, and took his pay for the bark as it measured then, which varied from 6 to 12 inches less than four feet high, as the man had put it up.
Before the cast iron bark mill came into use, tan bark was broken up and crushed for use by rolling a stone of about 8 feet diameter round and round on the bark that was being placed under it, a horse being hitched to one end of the axle. At first, Mr. F. had no horse of his own, and one day he hired one to grind or crush some bark. The horse was kind and gentle and a good traveler. After going around a few times at a good smart walk, rolling the stone after him, he soon stopped and began to look about him. He seemed to think it strange that although he had been on a good smart walk some time, he did not get along any. The boy driver gave him a cut with his whip and told him to go on, which he would do for a short time and then stop again. This starting and stopping soon became so frequent that the boy and the horse both got their temper up, when the horse tried to free himself from his work, and in his efforts broke his foreleg below the knee. The boy reported progress to Mr. F., who got Dr. Hutchinson to go and set the horse's leg, which he did and the animal was turned out to pasture. Then Mr. F. went to the owner of the horse, told him what had happened to him, and said--"Set your price on the horse and I will pay you for him," which was done to the satisfaction of both parties.
When the splints and bandages were taken from the horse's leg there was found to be a puffing out or bunch on one side, which the doctor thought was a collection of matter gathered there, and that he might as well tap it and let it out, which he did, when he found he had put his lancet into the main artery of the leg and that he would soon bleed to death at that rate. He then told Mr. F. to hold the blood vessel tight while he went to his office and got his needle and thread. When he came back a few stitches closed up the cut he had so unwisely made in the artery. The horse got well and was kept for the tannery horse a number of years and did good service.
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