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Goodell-Pratt Company - Greenfield, MA

  Goodell Brothers - the Bedrock of Goodell-Pratt Co.
by Wiktor Kuc
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The beginning of the Goodell-Pratt Company is rooted in business ventures initiated by two brothers, Albert D. Goodell and Henry E. Goodell. 

In 1866 they started a small operation in Buckland, Franklin County, MA and after four years sold it to Millers Falls Company.  For the next 18 years they worked for them as employees.

In 1888 they organized a tools manufacturing business in Shelburne Falls, MA, and named it Goodell Brothers.

As we look today at all the permutations of Goodells businesses, their associations and competition, we learn that they built their businesses by relying on their own engineering talents and their own work.  Self-reliance was a characteristic of their first venture in Buckland and then later in Shelburne Falls.  It was their ingenuity that led to employment and an exemplary career with Millers Falls Co.  These were the traits that helped them to build a foundation for what decades later became a Goodell-Pratt Company.

The Roots

The Goodell brothers were born in the town of Whitingham, Vermont.  Their father, Anson Goodell,

"... when a young man, removed from his native State to Vermont, and, buying a tract of land in Whitingham, Windham County, carried on general farming there with much success for many years. Later he sold that farm, and removed to Buckland, Franklin County, Mass. He was an industrious man, not afraid of hard work, and rounded out a full period of years, passing to his rest in May, 1892.

Mr. Anson Goodell took a prominent part in political and religious affairs in his town, being a Republican in politics, serving in various offices, and, with his wife, belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he was an official member."(1)

Albert David Goodell and Henry E. Goodell

Albert D. Goodell was born on August 3, 1845.  His brother Henry E. was born on October 12, 1848.  Both received an education in local public schools, and during boyhood worked on their father's farm. 

Around 1866 the brothers started a small operation in Buckland, Franklin County, MA, making parts for wooden chairs.  They worked at the shop of Perry & Demming, a producer of wooden-ware.  It is not clear if they were employees, independent contractors or used the premises as an independent business.

Buckland was a small but vibrant town.  Located on Clesson River, it

"... affords much water-power, which was well improved at an early day.  Near the Hawley line, and at what was called the 'Upper City,' Silas Dodge had a saw-mill, and handle-factories were carried on by Alpheus Smith and others.  A trip-hammer and a forge were also operated.  At a power lower down on that stream was a grist-mill, having two run of stones, which was erected by Josiah Davis about 1800.  The Ruddocks thoroughly repaired it in 1827, and it was last operated by Harris White, about 1868. 

A quarter of a mile below, Zur Hitchcock built a shop, in 1847, for grinding and polishing cutlery. Two fatal accidents occurred here: A. Perkins was killed by the bursting of a grindstone and Oscar Hitchcock by being caught in the belting. The building is at present used for a dwelling. Farther down Perry & Demming built a wooden-ware shop, in which the Goodell Bros. began the manufacture of their patent bit-brace."(2)

Working on their father’s farm, the brothers were undoubtedly exposed to many situations where problem solving skills was a necessity of life.  They use this skill throughout their professional career with good results.

In 1868 Albert D. received his first patent No. 79,825 for "Improvement in Bit-Stock".  As mentioned above, the Goodells began making this brace right there, in the Perry & Demming shop.  We don't know how many of these braces were made, but several examples of this brace were found in recent years.  I know at least one example of the brace that was most likely manufactured by the Goodells. 

The word about the Goodell's brace reached Millers Falls Manufacturing Co. and the design must have been attractive enough to Levi J. Gunn to offer the Goodells a place with Millers Falls Co.

There was also another likely reason for bringing the Goodells onboard.  By the end of 1869, Millers Falls Co. was moving to their new location in Millers Falls and Gunn needed more staff and especially, talented mechanics.  At the same time, relations between Gunn, Amidon and a new president of Millers Falls Mfg. Co., Henry L. Pratt, became strained and Charles Amidon was ready to leave the company.

One source, stated that "...they sold a year later to the Miller Falls Manufacturing Company, in whose employment they were engaged the succeeding eighteen years." (3) 

On Wednesday, April 6, 1870, the Springfield Republican newspaper reported, that "Millers Falls manufacturing company have bought for $10,000 the patent for a bit-brace of the Goodell Brothers of Buckland."  By mid-1870 the brothers were employed by the Millers Falls Co.  As quick learners, they mastered new skills and soon became an important part of the Millers Falls operation.

(1) Biographical Review Publishing Company, Biographical Review - Biographical Sketches of the Leading Citizens of Franklin County, Massachusetts, (Boston, MA, 1895), 325.

(2) Everts, Louis H., History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Vol.2, (Philadelphia, PA, 1879), 699.

(3) Biographical Review Publishing Company, Biographical Review - Biographical Sketches of the Leading Citizens of Franklin County, Massachusetts, (Boston, MA, 1895), 326;  Cope, Kenneth, Sorting out the Goodell Companies, Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, v. 45, no. 4, (Levittown, NY, 1992), 115.

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