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The Belcher Malleable Iron Foundry

By Irene Smith, librarian

Feb 1956.


     Easton people like to claim that the Belcher Malleable Iron Company at Furnace Village is the oldest malleable iron foundry in the country; but to be honest we should say the second oldest, and the oldest malleable plant in continuous operation in the same location in the United States.

     In 1837 Alexander Boyden, brother of Seth Boyden who discovered the malleablizing process in 1826, started the company with Lincoln Drake at the head. Mr. Boyden, who had worked at the gray iron foundry, acted as superintendent for two years. The firm was called A. Boyden and Co. In 1847 the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association awarded a silver medal and a diploma to Lincoln Drake for the "excellent specimens of malleable iron castings exhibited by him at the exhibition and fair."

     Two years later, in 1849, Daniel Belcher acquired the business and the plant has operated under the Belcher name ever since. For a few years brass castings were made as well as the malleable iron ones.

     Two of Easton's highest ranking officers in the Civil War had been apprenticed to Daniel Belcher and were working at the foundry when the call came for volunteers to join the militia. One was Robert Dollard, who rose to the rank of Major and served for four years and ten months with a record of great bravery and magnificent ability in heading his command. In his History of Easton Mr. Chaffin tells a story of early bravery demonstrated by Mr. Dollard when he climbed a 90 ft. chimney at the foundry to remove some loose bricks.

     The other was Major John Fitzparick who served an apprenticeship as moulder with Daniel Belcher. To quote the Rev. Mr. Chaffin: "No green turf in town rests over the remains of a braver soldier or more loyal man than that which covers the grave of Major John Fitzpatrick."

     Fire has destroyed many of the buildings at the plant through the years so that most of the original buildings are now gone; but the plant has maintained an enviable record of performance and qulity of product for nearly 120 years. They have made many things: fireplace hardware, door stops, ornamental fences and gates, castings of all kinds for a wide variety of uses. During the Second World War castings for molds and parts for the Iron Lung were made; and some of the Iron Lungs were sent to Germany for our troops carried parts originating in Easton. Today they make castings for the textile and machine tool industries, electrical fittings, plumbing fixtures, and the requirements of many other industries- numerous and varied.

     The company remembers with great affection the leadership of Mr. C. Bateman Swazey, who was with the foundry from 1919 until 1952.

     The present officers are Mr. Joseph Abusamra, president and general manager, and Mr. Frank C. Tuttle, treasurer.

Endnote: Pamphlet found in the Easton Public Library.

Endnote: Pamphlet found in the Easton Public Library.

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