The Story of a Mystery Object
My recent Facebook post of this image
has attracted questions and curiosity as to “ What is it? ”
With all the time in the world, I can take the time
to build out the full story.
Here is a Google Map View of Flat Ledge Quarry Map’
I’ve keyed the view to a number of topics related to my 20 years of photographing Flat Ledge Quarry.
For now, the yellow * gives us the location.
And the *(in yellow) gives us the approximate location.
An iron underlining for the railroad track timbers which took granite from the backside of Flat Ledge, out to Granite Pier.
This photo from the early 1900s ( Page 162 in ‘Rockport Through the Years,’ gives another view of the back wall area. The large derrick to left rear – and collapsed paving stone cutter shed would be just to the left of our object.
I’ll post tomorrow (April 19, 2020) as to how the iron underpinning has come to look the way it does.
Of the original investors in the Rockport Granite Company of Massachusetts who came together: John L. Thaxter, John H. Stimson Salem T. Lamb William F. Dow (Trustee)
Benj. P. Battles T. P. Fiske John Lathrop ,
only John H. Stimson came in with a background of working in the granite industry.
Here is Barbara Erkkila (Hammers on Stone pg. 114) speaking on John H. Stimson
“About 1830 also, John Stimson, a son-in-law of Zachariah Green, came to Rockport where he also owned stock in the company. It was while he was there that he built the granite barn and put up the first pair of heavy-timbered hoisting shears ever used in the quarries. After a few years he left the Gloucester and Boston Granite Company and began quarrying at Flat Ledge. It was from this quarry that he made his famous shipment of paving blocks to Fort Warren. In 1834, Eames, Stimson & Company was organized, consisting of Ezra Eames, John Stimson, and Beniah Colburn. They continued to quarry at Flat Ledge, but had quarries in Lanesville and Bay View as well. About 1845 Mr. Stimson bought out Ezra Eames, Beniah Colburn, and new partners William J. Torrey and Joshua Sanborn. The latter had worked as a foreman for Mr. Torrey when he first came to Rockport. In 1854 Stimson rigged up the first steam pump, the design for which was brought back from the California gold fields by Lewis Lane of Cape Ann. Other partners in Stimson’s company over many years had been Anson and Aaron Stimson, George R. Bradford, J. Henry Stimson, Abraham Day and Jotham Taylor of Lanesville.”
John Stimson became the chief Agent for the Rockport Granite Company of Massachusetts, he was charged with managing contracts, seeking new business, insuring deliveries were on time, and collecting funds from clients.
[Left to Right: George Rogers, C.Harry Rogers, Louis Rogers, Arthur Rogers. Courtesy SBHS]
On fourth day of August, 1864, in Boston, Massachusetts, the Rockport Granite Company of Massachusetts is incorporated for the purpose of “carrying on the business of quarrying, and preparing for the market and selling stone.” It is not until 1914 that two amendments are voted onto the original article of Incorporation and the Corporation’s name is shortened to ‘The Rockport Granite Company.’
The chart below lists the original investors, shares and amount of each individual investment.
This was an unprecedented capitalization in the Cape Ann Granite Industry and it represents the appearance of shrewd determined businessmen who saw golden dollars to be made from the selling of paving stones.
Name No. of Shares $Amount
John L. Thaxter 623 $62,300
John H. Stimson 623 $62,300
Salem T. Lamb 623 $62,300
William F. Dow (Trustee) 60 $6,000
Benj. P. Battles 50 $5,000
Re T. P. Fiske 20 $2,000
John Lathrop 1 $100
PART 2 arrives April 18, 2017, in which we learn what the RGCof MA was doing during the time prior to its incorporation.
LOUIS ROGERS: Treasurer of Rockport Granite Company
THE ROCKPORT GRANITE COLLECTION
at the Harvard Baker Library, Cambridge, MA
The Story of How Louis Rogers preserved
Rockport Granite Company History
A Monograph by Leslie D. Bartlett
Kindle & Paperback formats: available June 12, 2017
“Quarry Historian Leslie Bartlett now brings to light the glimpses of quarry life and business the Rockport Granite Collection records reveal, in detail. He offers an expanded view of daily life on Cape Ann, when the largest land-based business was ruled by the sounds of granite being broken; and men’s hearts were broken by on-going labor disputes.
The Corporate story of the Rockport Granite Company are contained in documents preserved by Treasurer Louis Rogers. For over 30 years after the company goes bankrupt he holds the records, and then donates them to the Harvard Baker Library, Cambridge, MA. This monograph describes what Louis Rogers preserved, and how, and why he choose to have the records leave Cape Ann in 1953. A fascinating glimpse is offered of how the Rogers family conducted the on-island life of the Rockport Granite Company.
This monograph reflects Leslie Bartlett’s 50 year fascination with the world of granite quarrying, as he now relates the story of his 4 years research in perusing ‘The Rockport Granite Collection,’ and the important memories evoked.”
Leslie D. Bartlett April 17, 2017
For over 200 years Cape Ann farmers had dug out, pushed and shoved rock out of the way to clear their fields for farming.
Granite was something everyone could break, shape and sell. It lay on either side of the road, the fields cleared, small holes were dug out for larger chunks of granite to be removed. The quarry spectacle was viewed by summer visitors who sat atop their carriages.
The Cape Ann Quarryland is born .
Cape Ann Quarryland, a sketch made by Carl J. Nordell of Annisquam and Boston
This is a timeline of the major quarries on Cape Ann and how the Rockport Granite Company eventually acquired most of them.
Letterhead from the SBHS Research Library
The letterhead of the Rockport Granite Company reveals the extent of the Company’s holdings – both on Cape Ann and beyond. Not only did the Rockport Granite Company quarry in Maine, but at one time it also owned a pink granite company in Lebanon, N.H. With offices in Boston, N.Y. & Chicago, it was a company which could offer its granite for contracts across the United States.
As you walk in along below the Keystone Bridge in Rockport, take a look to your left; there inscribed on the wall is a veritable tale told in chisel. A lineage of initials & dates. A permanent colophon. Emotions of whimsy, striking anger, and the wish to be remembered.
More hidden on the right wall, and down along the ledge which held the ladder by which all workmen climbed down into the quarry, are more carved initials which date back as early as 1881. The ‘Signing of the Quarry Walls,’ is almost unique to the Flat Ledge Quarry. (Almost because there is one other example to be found in Rockport.) These wall surfaces were revealed as the Keystone Bridge neared completion in 1872, located below the bridge, there was no further quarrying to take place.
The carvings therefore, took place in areas obscured by buildings and sheds, and away from the peering eyes of the Rockport Granite Company Treasurer who would lean over the Keystone Bridge. observing the pace of workers.
They stand as individual expression, from an era where men had to work together to make their daily bread.
NOTE: the ‘All Done,’ chiseling to the left includes an elaborate ! exclamation point.