Saw Vises

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Simonds Saws


Monhagen Saw Works - Middletown, N.Y.

Wheeler, Madden & Bakewell
Wheeler, Madden & Clemson


Marketing, Advertising and Sales

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John Williams

For marketing and sales of their products the company enlisted a man who became, in later years, one of the most influential promoter of the American industries, John Williams.  Here is an excerpt from his biographical sketch, published in 1906:

"Immediately after the collapse of the abortive attempt in 1848 to establish the political autonomy of Ireland, an attempt which did not attain the proportions or dignity of a revolution, but which more or less seriously compromised with the British authorities a great many patriotic Irishmen.

John Williams, originally a hardware salesman, but at that time an editorial writer on the Dublin Nation, deemed it expedient to immigrate to America. His activities as a Nationalist had made him persona non grata to the Crown and to that extent embarrassed his career.

But his chief reason for leaving Ireland was that the political and social conditions existing and established in that country closed every door' of advancement to the enterprising and ambitious man. He reached this country alone before the end of 1848, and for some reason not now remembered went to Port Jervis, N. Y., instead of remaining in this city, where the opportunities were apparently much larger and better suited to his capacity.

Naturally he experienced the difficulties and discouragements which attend the educated immigrant without capital or friends. His family had been identified with the iron interests; his grandfather having established in Waterford the first foundry built in the south of Ireland, which at the time of his leaving home was conducted by his mother for the estate of his father, of whom he was the posthumous thirteenth child.

As there were many ahead of him in the succession the foundry gave him no opportunity for satisfactory employment. He found his first steady engagement in this country in a small foundry in Port Jervis, of which he quickly became bookkeeper and accountant. In 1851 he sent to Ireland for his wife and five children.

John Williams was in many respects a remarkable man, with a phenomenally active mind, a highly developed imagination and ideas far exceeding the limitations of his opportunities. Men of his temperament care less for the gains of systematic industry than for the current excitements of diversified mental activities.

He was a man of strong convictions. Anything in the way of a reform movement had for him an irresistible attraction. He was a religious enthusiast, but was unalterably opposed to the restraints of a formal church relation, delighting in theological controversy and in ostentatious nonconformity to the dicta of ecclesiastical authority.

He was a forcible and impassioned advocate of what he believed in and equally zealous in the condemnation of what he doubted or disapproved. The period between 1845 and the outbreak of the Civil War witnessed the birth of many movements, some ephemeral and others, notably the antislavery movement, in which he took, an active part, epoch-making in their influence. Many of these movements, promising reforms of greater or less consequence, powerfully attracted a man of the temperament of John Williams.

The temperance cause at that time divided society into two distinct classes and the best elements of every community were opposed to all traffic in liquor. Into this contest Mr. Williams plunged with characteristic enthusiasm, and he did all he could to create a controlling popular sentiment in favor of prohibitory legislation as applied to the sale of Intoxicants of all kinds. He was a leader of the movement to incorporate into the statutes of New York the drastic provisions of the Maine law, then attracting great attention.

This movement gave promise of success at one time, but seems to have been overshadowed by the more exigent political problem of restricting and finally abolishing the institution of negro slavery. These fascinating but unpractical activities naturally drew Mr. Williams from commercial pursuits into the then open field of personal journalism.

He edited for a time a local newspaper in Port Jervis, the Tri-State Union, and later founded and conducted a temperance journal with the surprising name of the Maine Law Precursor. To have refrained from polemical writing would have for him impossible. His literary style was that of the controversial pamphleteer of the age-virile, vigorous and incisive. He made a distinct impression upon the radical thought of his time.

John Williams' early training as a hardware salesman led him to believe that this business, then in its beginning, offered him a promising career in this country, and he decided to return to it in 1854.

His first engagement in this line was as a traveling salesman for the saw manufacturing firm of Wheeler, Madden & Bakewell, Middletown, N. Y. He started out with his customary enthusiasm, but was soon recalled for a reason which many salesmen of the present time would be glad to have interrupt their trips.

He had sold so many saws that it would tax the resources of the plant to the breaking point to catch up with his orders in half a year. His employers were quite willing to hitch their chariot to a star, but when it came to hitching it to a comet the pace was too rapid.

Those were the days of small things in American manufacturing. No one concern being in a position to afford him full opportunity for his high voltage energy as a salesman, he decided to establish himself as a general manufacturers' agent in hardware and to handle a number of lines.

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