13. Damon-Smith Partnership, 1864-1876
The process of rebuilding and reequipping the mill had been an arduous undertaking for Edward Damon. Though he thrived on hard work, the fire and its repercussions had taken its toll on his energy and he decided to take on a partner. Henry F. Smith, his cousin, had fifteen years experience in flannel manufacturing and had just left the Ballard Vale Company in Andover. Damon proposed a partnership and Smith agreed, purchasing a one-third interest in the Concord property. Their partnership began in 1864 and lasted through twelve of the mill's most prosperous years.
Immediately after Henry Smith joined Edward Damon, a number of improvements were implemented. Production at the mill more than doubled as a result of the addition of new machinery. It also became more diversified. In addition to domett and other fabrics, Shaker flannels and all-wool flannel were also produced. Increased production meant more employees, and the addition of new structures to house them. A few old buildings were converted into tenements, and several new houses built. A dye house and a large brick building for storing stock and sorting wool were constructed. The old saw and gristmills, which had fallen into disrepair, were replaced by a new multipurpose structure on the other side of the river that contained a machine shop and updated wood-working machinery.
The partnership between the cousins was dissolved in December 1876, when Henry Smith went into the wool brokerage business. It was a dark, difficult time for both men, as they had maintained a close personal as well as business relationship for many years.
The image on this page documents the Damon-Smith partnership. It comes from lawyer Charles Hosmer Walcott's record of title searches for properties in Concord and elsewhere.