THE BLACKSMITHS OF WINDHAM
There was a need for a blacksmith as soon as the first settlers arrived in Nutfield. A village blacksmith would be skilled in a variety of work, as it would have been necessary for him to service the numerous metal tools of centuries ago. It would not have been unusual for a blacksmith to fire up his forge in order to produce an ax, a hoe, a scythe, or even an iron plow. As horses were invaluable for farming and transportation, one of the blacksmith's most common services was the shodding of horses with hand fashioned horse shoes. However, oxen would not have been uncommon on the farms of Windham. According to Morrison, the process for shodding oxen was much more laborious than that for horses. One man would have been tasked with holding the head of the ox. The front legs and back legs of the animal would have been tied together to minimize the animal's mobility. The blacksmith would then attach the shoes to the ox with hand forged nails. However, this process was eventually replaced by the invention of a swing to suspend an ox above the ground for the procedure.
Above is an illustration of an apparatus similar to that of the first models introduced in around 1810. It was likely at least a few decades before the first swing for shoeing oxen arrived in the blacksmith shops of Windham. When wagons and carriages became commonplace, Windham's blacksmiths would have been tasked with repairing the vehicles. It was rather common for a blacksmith to repair the iron rim or hardware of a carriage's wood spoked wheel. With an increasing need for the services of a town blacksmith by the 1880s, Charles Perkins was able to hire two men in order to keep up with the demand for work. Perkins' shop burned to the ground in January of 1882 and there was no blacksmith in Windham for the next five years. Fortunately for many of the farmers requiring the services of a blacksmith, George Bugbee opened a blacksmith shop in 1887. Others began to see the lucrativeness of the trade, and the father and son team of Richard and Charles Esty opened their shop in Windham in 1888.
Although the Estys sold their business to A. Hamond and I.G. Goodwin in 1891, the shop was in operation until approximately 1908. In 1900 two more blacksmith shops were opened in town by E.A. Douglas and William Linsy. Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century the need for a blacksmith began to go the way of horse drawn carriages with the introduction of the automobile. Many of the tools required by the town's businesses and farms, such as axes and iron wrenches, began to become more available due to mass production; no longer was a blacksmith needed to forge a tool. Also, the automobile significantly reduced the usage of wagons and carriages. According to "Rural Oasis" E.A. Douglas was the last blacksmith in town, and remained in business until around 1910. However, as late as 1915 a new blacksmith came to Windham. Frank L Clayde leased a blacksmith shop owned by the wife of William H Anderson in West Windham, for the price of $5.00 per month. It is unknown how long Clayde remained in business at the West Windham shop.
10/30/2020 03:52:04 pm
Thank you so much for your thorough research on blacksmiths in Windham. This will be very useful for me in my farrier history research. I wish I had more sources like your site.
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Derek Saffie is an avid Windham historian who enjoys researching and sharing his collection with all those interested in the history of the New England town.