Randall Manufacturing. Sea View Mass.

12/3/2019 Update:
I have added a sketch of how the original Little mill might have looked in the late 1600’s.

In the mid 1600’s, the Thomas Little family settled alongside a small stream that flowed easterly into the North River. They dammed-up the stream and created a pond for a controlled water supply to operate a saw and grist mill on the north side of Little’s Creek. The first power was supplied by an undershot water wheel. The Grist Mill Stones were shipped in from England and the Little’s got to work grinding corn and other grains for their own use as well as providing a place for other locals to mill grains. The use of the mill by others was usually bartered with a percentage of grain or other tradable goods.

An oil painting of the Little’s Mill. The small shed attached  on the left was the original Grist Mill . The Little’s homestead is within the trees, center. Elm St. is on the far right. The North River, upper left.

This oil painting was found in an antique shop in Hingham, 1981. The view is  from Sea View Heights, (now Deer Hill), by an unknown artist and before 1884. Owned by Ray Freden.

Thomas Little (b. 1610-d. 1671) acquired this farm about 1662, from the estate of Major William Holmes that arrived in Marshfield about 1658. Thomas improved the land and erected additional buildings. The Little family continued living there for the next 279 years with the second Luther Little  being the last Little living there. Luther  died in 1941.

William and Solomon Little , sons of Captain Luther Little (1757-1842), were still operating a grist mill in 1838. In 1871, at the age of 70 , William and Solomon sold the Mill, water wheel, the mill stones and water rights , to William Randall of Providence R.I. for one thousand dollars, with the understanding that they continue operating the Grist mill. However, the Little’s reserved the rights of taking from the pond, ice, trout, and other fish for their family’s use.

In 1872 George S. Randall moved to Marshfield, and, with his brother William W. Randall, went into business known as Randall Brothers. They maintained the original grist mill and added a three-story building where they manufactured cabinet organs.

A close up of the above painting .

On Sept 24, 1884, a disastrous fire destroyed the buildings and nothing could be salvaged. In October, William Randall sold his part of ownership and dissolved their partnership. The deed continued to include the wishes of the Little’s.

George Randall proceeded to rebuild a factory 30’x40′ by two stories high, along with a grist mill including a small 18” mill stone complying with the stipulation in his deed from the Little’s . The Mill reopened in 1885.
A newspaper publication of 9/24/1884

The new building’s gables now were north & south. The previous building’s gables were east & west.

The following few paragraphs are excerpts from the Boston Biographical Review  Publishing Co., “Sketches of leading citizens of Plymouth County”

‘GORGE S. RANDALL, of Marshfield Hills, whose organ-case factory
at Sea View is one of the important industrial plants of this locality, has long been interested in the manufacture of musical instruments, and before the piano had supplanted the cabinet organ in the homes of the people. He made many organs for the music trade. He was born in Winthrop, Me., on November 11, 1833, the son of Penuel and Emily (Baker) Randall.’

George Randall, at 91 Summer St. c. 1905-10.

‘George S. Randall in his boyhood attended the common schools of Winthrop, Me., and when he was seven years old he also began to work at shoe-making. Thrown on his own resources at the age of fourteen by the death of his father, he was a skilled workman in the “gentle craft of leather” at the age of seventeen. At nineteen he began to learn the trade of cabinet- and chair- making, which he followed for a number of years. In April, 1856, he went to Ansonia, Conn., to learn to tune organs, and the following year his employer, Mr. Fisk, took him into partnership with the firm becoming Fisk & Randall. They engaged in the manufacture of organs and melodeons for six years at Woodbridge, Conn., and then moved to New Haven, where they built a large factory. A few years later Mr. Randall disposed of his for business in New Haven to the Schoeninger Organ and Melodeon Company, and moved to Providence, R.I. There was formed the firm of Baker & Randall, cabinet organ manufacturers, with which he was connected for about four years’.

George  Randall ‘s brothers , William & Jason,  on the front step of William’s home at 91 Summer St.

William W. Randall, b. in Parkman Maine, June 9. 1842 to Penuel and Emily Randall. m. Betsey J. Mitchell , 1884. William died August 3, 1924. age 82 yrs. Betsey died Dec, 23, 1912, age 63.. Their children were Archie W. Randall, b. 8/15/1885 and Charles W. Randall, b. 9/15/1887. d.8/3/1924.

William and Betsey’s home at 91 Summer St. Sea View. c. 1910.

William came to Marshfield in 1871, nine years after being wounded at age 20  at the second Bull Run Battle in Manassas, Va. He purchased the Little’s Mill, within a few months, and started a woodworking business with his brother in 1872. He married in 1884, and suffered a total loss of his business by fire. The same year he acquired a Grocery business from George Curell, and constructed a building on the Curell property. The first floor consisted of a grocery store with living quarters on the second floor.

This building became the Sea View Post Office until 1922, then continued as a general store into the late ’30’s.

At a later date, William, now in his 50’s, built a shop behind his residence, c. 1893, and began a woodworking business. He built wooden model boat kits. These were assembled by other craftsmen and sold to collectors.

The William Randall boat models were of much detail.

The models were identified with a sticker attached to hull.

Although the models were not built in this building, it was clever advertising  to use a likeness of the original Randall Mill, water wheel and pond.

George Randall was a busy man building organ cases and parts for organs in his water-powered mill alongside the Little Creek and across from the Little’s Pond (now Keen’s) on Summer St., just short of 500 ft. from Church & Elm Streets. His cabinets were made only from the finest hardwoods…cherry, black walnut & mahogany. These fine woods would be ordered from out of state suppliers and shipped by rail to the Sea View RR Station less than a half mile away. This method of shipping was a boom to all the Sea View businesses.

An example of Randall’s work now on display at the Marshfield Historical society’s Marsha Thomas house at 65 Webster St. Marshfield.

This kind of work was dedicated to only the finest quality available for the consumer. Profits from this business allowed George Randall to live a luxurious life. He built a handsome Dutch Colonial home, and a mansard roofed barn at 103 Prospect St. Marshfield Hills. He and his wife Marion enjoyed the social and political life, along with his affluent neighbors.

George died in 1903. His wife sold this property in 1905 and Marion moved to Ansonia Ct. The Mill and its contents and land were sold to Andrew Lincoln “Link” Creed with the right to manufacture the ‘Pitman rod’ for pianos. This was the last successful business carried on at the former Randall Mill. Creed died in 1939.

Some attempt to make lawn decorations, bird houses, and whirlygigs in the early 40’s was done by an unknown woodworker. I remember my Dad stopping by for some unknown reason, and I was taken by a blue airplane whirlygig set up on the fence railing along the street. Oh how I wanted that airplane. It was $3.50… Huh, it might as well have been $350. My Dad hadn’t that kind of money for some needless decoration! Upon leaving in sadness, the man said to Dad, “Two dollars and take it away”. But home we went without an airplane.

WW2 came along and the mill became vacant. About 1948, while on a fishing venture to the creek that flowed under the Mill which became mixed with tidal water, one might be lucky enough to catch a “salty” trout. Looking up under that shed attached to the main building were openings where the turbine water wheels were installed by George Randall replacing the undershot wheel. There was room enough for a young kid, about as big around as a pencil, to squeeze into the shed. The shed contained two turbines, one 6-inch and one 9-inch. Later I was told by Philip Randall, the 6” ran the small machinery and both ran the large machines. An unlocked door led the way into the first floor where large wide belt pulleys and long shafts were attached to the turbines. The next floor was bare, but there were witness marks where machines once stood with openings in the floor for the wide leather drive-belts that came up to the machine. There was no inside access to the next floor up, but there was access by outside stairs. I did not try to access other floors.

The Randall Mill in 1943 with outside access to the third floor.
The third floor and above was added on  by  A. Lincoln Creed.

Philip Randall, master cabinetmaker, 1920-1994 was the grandson of William. Phil purchased the machinery in the mill late 1945 with his discharge money from the Navy Seabee’s. These machines still run today in the shop at the rear of 91 Summer St.   In the shop that William built, his son Charles created model boats, along with various woodworking jobs, and sharpening tools for others.

 Philip Randall in his shop in 1988.

Phil worked in that shop from 1945 to the early 1990’s. It was sold to another woodworker who carried on the same type of woodworking that the Randall’s had for nearly one hundred and fifty years. Phil was my mentor.

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction – John C. Crosby

W. Ray Freden
Seaview Marshfield
70 years.

A special thanks to Janet Peterson, researcher of George S. Randall, William  Randall and their descendants.
Also a thanks to Robin Mitchell, author of “Yesterday’s Marshfield”, for including photos of my collection pages 34, 35 & 37.

2 Replies to “Randall Manufacturing. Sea View Mass.”

  1. I have a beautiful fireplace wall that Phil made for my house in 1980. My Mom and Dad (Nat snd Biff Henderson)had Phil make it for us. It came in house in one large piece to surround the fireplace made by Aldo Salvetti, both magnificent !

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