INTRODUCTION OF SEWING MACHINES
from the book
Troy's One Hundred Years 1789-1889
Published in 1891 by William H. Young, 7 and 9 First Street, Troy,
In the winter of 1851-1852, Nathaniel Wheeler, of the firm of
Wheeler, Wilson, & Co., visited Troy to introduce into the
collar, cuff, and shirt factories the use of the firm's recently
invented sewing machine. Its simple mechanism, it seems, did not
impress the manufacturers favorably, and they were not inclined
to make a trial of the machine. In a letter to the author, Mr.
Wheeler disclosed the discouraging results of the exhibition of
the machine at the Mansion House: "I particularly brought
the attention of the manufacturers of collars and cuffs to the
machine, most of whom shook their heads, doubting the practicability
of stitching collars by machinery.
my visitors was Jefferson Gardner, who seeming to be less skeptical,
patiently examined the machine, and concluded to give one a trial."
In the spring of 1852, several were sent to him. He afterward
visited Bridgeport, Connecticut, and purchased a half-interest
in the sale of the machine in Rensselaer County. Besides using
about thirty in his own factory, he sold, a large number to the
other collar manufacturers in the city.; The Wheeler & Wilson
sewing machines have since that time been largely used in the
manufacture of collars, cuffs, and shirts in Troy.
women, who, before the use of sewing machines in the factories,
had been earning fifty cents a day in stitching collars and cuffs
by hand, were enabled to earn with sewing machines, from two dollars
to two dollars and fifty cents a day. In 1855, O. W. Edson, of
the firm of Bennett & Edson, was the first of the manufacturers
in Troy to undertake to operate the Wheeler & Wilson sewing
machines by steam power. In later years, the use of button-hole
machines had become quite common in all the factories.