Life and Times of Alvah Crocker

Life and Times of Alvah Crocker

Life and Times of Alvah Crocker

Life and Times of Alvah Crocker

Excerpt

It would be difficult to express the purpose of this book in better words than the following taken from a memoir of the late Samuel Appleton: "Of lives of statesmen, poets, artists, literary, military, and professional men of all sorts, we have enough, but of eminent and successful merchants, men who have made commerce the sphere of their extensive activity and usefulness, we have few permanent records . . . yet commerce has had its heroes, its saints, and martyrs,--men who, along its dusty paths, in its busy counting-houses, amid its varied enterprises, have exhibited the noblest qualities of intellect and of heart. . . . To these men, these noble and benevolent merchants, literature, learning, science, humanity in all the instrumentalities that would promote its progress, in all the institutions that would alleviate its sufferings, owes a debt which cannot be too gratefully acknowledged."

Among such men was Alvah Crocker, whose public works--the building of the Fitchburg Railroad, its extension to the West through the Hoosac Tunnel, the establishment of a great paper manufactory, and the founding of Turners Falls--have done so much for Massachusetts. And yet the lesson of his life, the inspiration of his achievement, would soon be lost unless recorded.

His works have been, so far, his only monument; but few remain who know them as his works. Still fewer realize, when they travel over the railroad that he built, how much they owe to one who began in a paper mill at the age of eight, who added to a meagre schooling a fund of knowledge such as few possess, and by sheer force of character overcame the strongest opposition of men and mountains!

It is nearly fifty years since Alvah Crocker died, and just a century since he began his career in Fitchburg; so it seems a fitting time that the obligation to his memory should be paid in a memoir, that shall preserve the record and inspiration of his life for posterity.

The author desires to acknowledge the kindness shown in facilitating the preparation of this book by Charles Fosdick, Esq., Frederic A. Currier, Esq., Edward F. Kimball, Esq., Miss Theresa N. Garfield, Librarian of the Fitchburg Historical Society, Julius H. Tuttle, Esq., Librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and Miss Harriet Swift of the Boston Public Library; and also to acknowledge his indebtedness to the following authori-

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