Superintendent of Shawmut Woolen Mills in 1918

Gilbert Harris, a wide-awake and enterprising business man, is now superintendent and one of the stockholders of the Shawmut Woolen Mills of Stoughton. A native of Rhode Island, he was born at North Smithfield, January 14, 1874, and is a son of Orlando and Nellie (Brown) Harris, who were also natives of Rhode Island, The father was a farmer throughout his entire business life, which he passed in Rhode Island. He is now living retired and makes his home at Woonsocket, enjoying a rest which he has truly earned and richly merits. His wife passed away in 1897.

Gilbert Harris largely spent the period of his boyhood and youth in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and after mastering the branches of learning taught in the public schools he started out in the business world as an employee in a woolen factory when a lad of twelve. He worked at a knitting machine and has since continued in this line of business, gaining knowledge, experience and efficiency as the years have passed. In 1893 he established his home in Stoughton and entered the employ of the firm of French & Ward. He worked in a comparatively minor position in the factory of which he is now superintendent and his advancement to his present position, has come in recognition of his faithfulness and capability as the years have passed by. He assisted the firm in establishing their business and remained with the house until 1916, when the Shawmut Woolen Mills were organized, Mr. Harris becoming one of the organizers and stockholders of the company, which is devoted to the manufacture of knit cloth, Jersey sweaters and other goods of similar character. R. H. Wimer is the treasurer of the company and A. S. Perskey is the president. Their output averages six thousand yards of cloth per week and three hundred dozen bathing suits per week. They are also making seventy-five thousand tights for the government. Their trade has reached very gratifying and satisfactory proportions and the business is today one of the important productive industries of the city.

In May, 1894, Mr. Harris was united in marriage to Miss Ada M. McLean and to them have been born three children: Prescott W., Marjorie A., and Gilbert D. The parents are members of the Congregational church and fraternally Mr. Harris is connected with the Masons, the Odd Fellows and the Red Men. His political allegiance is given to the republican party, but while he keeps well informed concerning the questions and issues of the day, he does not seek nor desire office, preferring to concentrate his efforts and attention upon his business affairs, which are rapidly developing. The Shawmut Woolen Mills did a business of five hundred thousand dollars in the year 1917 and at their factory, which is located at No. 208 Canton street, they employ fifty people. This establishment is largely a monument to the enterprise, business capacity and progressive spirit of Mr. Harris, who, starting out to provide for his own support when a little lad of twelve years, has steadily worked his way upward. His work originally was of a minor character but as the years passed on his efficiency increased as the result of his close application, his indefatigable energy and his earnest desire to master the duties entrusted to him. Thus he has steadily progressed and each forward step has brought him a broader outlook and wider opportunities until today he stands with the well known and prominent manufacturers whose interests constitute the basic element of the progress and prosperity of Norfolk county.

Source: History of Norfolk County Massachusetts 1622-1918 (New York, S. J. Clark Publishing Co., 1918), 2:323-325.

Back to the main page of