The Star Mill
The Star Mill or Lower Factory area had a dam, at first, located near the Wading Place. But the water was very shallow and there was only enough power for one mill. The legislature granted to Peter Pierce, mentioned previously, and Horatio Wood the right to dam the river provided they maintain a fish way. The water rights and the fish way agreement have both been passed to the successive owners of the mill buildings.
The new dam, just a short distance upstream from the first dam provided water power for a very successful cotton mill. As the industry declined, Pierce and Wood erected a shovel manufacturer, which employed many people. This business coupled with a general retail store added to Mr. Pierces other successful endeavors, already mentioned amassed for him a nice fortune which his heirs added to successfully. When Peter Pierces last surviving son Thomas died, he left over half a million dollars to the town of Middleborough, $100,000 to the public library, and this was after providing for twenty-five of his relatives.
The Star Mill incorporated August 5, 1863 succeeded these industries. Its name has been used to refer to this area on the river even today. The mill manufactured cashmere's with eight sets of machinery. The capital of $100,000 was furnished by New Bedford parties.
Throughout the years the Star Mill Bell would ring at 5:30 a.m. every morning except Sunday, as our alarm clocks wake us today. The bell would ring again at 6:30 a.m. at which time all employees should be at work. The final ring would come at 6 p.m. as the employees left for home. Employees worked on Saturday too.
The Star Mill was a successful business, if one can judge by the item in the December 7, 1867 local newspaper, which was a card of thanks for the turkeys given to the employees of the Star Mill. Not many companies carry on that tradition today.
In 1867 the name of the mill was changed to Star Mill Corporation. New machinery was added for the manufacturing of ladies dress goods. Coal boilers became the main source of power and the water wheel was used only for auxiliary power.
The Star Mill building continued to house textile businesses until a strike in the 1920's closed it. The building was vacant until 1935. Then at varied times and sometimes sharing the building with Walker Company, Wing Innersoles Company, and Gerlich Leather Company used the building. In 1944 Winthrop-Atkins Company, manufacturers of desk calendars occupied the building. With the growth of the calendar business an addition for printing and gluing operations was necessary. As the business continued to grow, the problem of storing calendars until the fall when they are shipped around the world ,reached a critical point. There was no room for expansion, except into the Nemasket River. Like all previous owners of the mill, a fish way had to be maintained for the herring migration. So in May 1965 work began to build a new channel and bridge over it to the farm on the east side of the river. The peat from the old river was dredged out and replaced with solid fill. A new commercial fishing site would have to be found, but the addition would not hamper the herring because of the new channel.