The Caboteria / Main Web / JamesShepard (05 Jan 2013, TWikiGuest)


Chilton Shepard Cabot
Lawrence Thompson Cabot
Judith Cabot

from records compiled by
Alfred A. Adams
Georgianna Shepard Leslie
and from
Supplementary Papers of
Miriam Shepard Cabot
The Massachusetts Society of
The Colonial Dames of America

JAMES STRATTON SHEPARD was the son of Joseph Shepard 3rd and Mary (Stratton) Shepard, and was born in Foxborough, Norfolk County, Mass., March 31st, 1815.

He was directly descended from Jacob Shepard, who, according to the Foxboro Centennial Address by E. P. Carpenter, "Was there in the wilderness in 1704, and so far as any known record, must have been the first settler of Foxborough."

The tract of land containing 500 acres originally in Dorchester, annexed to Wrentham in 1824, and now in Foxborough, was deeded to Jacob Shepard on July 11th, 1704, and is known as Shepard's Farm. The reservoir contained in the tract is known as Shepard's Pond.

Mary Stratton Shepard, mother of James Stratton Shepard, was the daughter of James Stratton and Lydia (Tower) Stratton of Foxborough.

As his father was in humble circumstances, James Stratton Shepard was obliged to commence labor early in life, and at ten years of age entered a cotton mill, where he worked until he was fifteen.

After being employed on a farm in Foxborough for ten years he subsequently went to Sharon to learn the machinist trade, in 1832, but after eight months he was put in charge of the carding room in the mill of George H. Mann. There his diligence, energy, and general intelligence won for him the confidence of his employer, and he was promoted rapidly, until he was given entire charge of the mill.

In February of 1839 he entered into partnership with his brother Joseph in Foxborough, for the manufacture of straw goods, but as the business did not suit him; and, as Mr. Mann was again desirous of securing his services, he assumed the superintendence of the mill.

In the fall of 1839 Mr. Mann's mill was burned, and Mr. Shepard commenced the manufacture of palm-leaf hats. After one year of this business he took charge of a cotton mill in Ashburnham, Mass. for George Blackburn & Co. of Boston, making satinet warps, and in January 1841 he removed thither and was appointed superintendent and agent.

Here he remained until the fall of 1844. Then removing to Canton he purchased the cotton mill of Vernon A. Messinger, where he manufactured cotton wicking for a few years. In 1851 he purchased the thread mill of Southworth & White, and fitted this up for making seine twine, acquiring at the same time the adjoining forge and grist mill, the latter of which he operated for a short period.

During the first year 10,000 lbs. of twine were manufactured, and by 1883 the production had increased to 550,000 lbs. He was also associated with Timothy Kaley in the manufacture of knitting cotton and harness twine from 1853 to 1856, when he sold his interest to Martin Wales.

The American Net & Twine Company of Boston had been for a period of 15 to 18 years the largest purchasers of seine twine from Mr. Shepard, and after the Civil War he became a partner of that Company, leased his seine twine plant to them, and became actively engaged in the manufacture of fish nets and seines, as well as twines. The Company, of which Mr. Shepard was the largest shareholder, and with his family held a controlling interest, was the first in America to engage in the manufacture of nets by machinery, and the industry assumed such proportions that a large manufacturing plant was erected in East Cambridge in 1879.

Upon receiving the highest award at the Centennial World's Fair at Philadelphia in 1876 the "Shepard Twine" assumed the name of "Shepard Gold Medal," which became standard throughout the country, and received the highest awards at the different international expositions in Chicago, London, Paris, and wherever exhibited.

In 1896, in order to be nearer the cotton supply and to facilitate the manufacture, the twine plant was removed from Canton, Mass. to Anniston, Ala. the corporation having acquired a tract of land there.

A modern and extensive mill was erected for the exclusive manufacture of seine twines, which were produced in very much larger quantities than before, to meet the increasing demands. Around the plant a town was developed, with churches, schools, etc., so that it is at the present time considered one of the model factory towns of the South.

Mr. Shepard was a practical and thorough-going man. He gave his personal attention to all the details of the business, which proved the prime element of his success. He was essentially a self-made man, and his life was one of steady and active devotion to his varied and numerous business interests. He became a stockbroker in several corporations, and was a director of the Neponset National Bank. In politics he was a Republican from the date of the organization of that party, and in 1871-72 represented Canton in the state legislature. He took an active interest in everything devoted to the upbuilding of his native town, and was a representative citizen of Canton.

On September 12th, 1839 he married Mary, daughter of Clifford and Mary (McKendry) Belcher of Canton. She was born February 1st, 1819. Their children were: Sarah E., who married Ivers W. Adams of Boston: Ellen A., who was unmarried: Georgianna, who married Freeland D. Leslie, M.D. of Canton, Mass.: and Willis Stratton Shepard, who married Marion Thompson of Concord, N. H., and who was president of the American Net & Twine Company of Boston from 1894 until his death, November 12th, 1910.

Mr. James S. Shepard died at Canton, Mass., June 8th, 1898.

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