Saturday, May 17, 2008


Worsted loom, image courtesy of the University of Arizona

The Philadelphian was probably the son of Merrill E. Furbush who from 1849 to 1859 in partnership with George Crompton manufactured the latter's famous looms. Just before the outbreak of the War of Secession the two had dissolved their arrangement, Crompton reserving sales rights in New England and New York, Furbush having control over the rest of the country. It was the highly-advanced Crompton loom as well as other machinery that the mill purchased from C. A. Furbush in 1882.

A second prominent Northern investor was Francis Bangs Knowles. Born in Massachusetts in 1823 he had joined with his brother, Lucius, in 1862 in manufacturing looms at Worcester under the firm name of L. J. Knowles & Bro. Francis was in charge of finances and business management; he appeared, therefore, on the Charlottesville directory as the representative of his company. After his brother's death in 1884, he reorganized the business into the Knowles Loom Works, of which he was president. before he died in 1890, Knowles was also a bank director and had extensive interests in a railroad and a land company in Florida. A deeply religious man, he amassed a fortune, much of which he gave away in the form of philanthropy as befitted his motto: "the world shall be better for my having lived in it." Knowles, a man of wide interests, remained a director of the Charlottesville mill only a short time, however.--Harry Poindexter

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