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The Town of Winchendon is an industrial and residential highland community on the upper Millers River. The town is in northern Worcester County on the border of New Hampshire. It was a six-mile square grant allocated in 1735 to 60 veterans and descendants of veterans of the Colonial army's expedition to Canada. The first permanent settlement in town was not until 1752, colonization was slowed by frontier warfare. Originally Winchendon was heavily agricultural but in the early 19th century there was industrial development along the Millers River. Textile manufacturing with spinning machinery was set up in 1816 on the river and the town became so large a producer of shingles that it inherited the nickname of "shingletown". Cotton and wool fabric was manufactured and significant amounts of woodworking were done. The railroad from Ashburnham to Keene, New Hampshire went through Winchendon, providing easy transportation of goods and bringing in immigrants, primarily from Ireland, to work the mill jobs. A family library was begun in town in 1835, a scientific library was started in 1851, and an agricultural library was established in 1865. The entire group of libraries was turned over to the community in 1867. The early decades of the 19th century showed tremendous growth in the town, accelerated by the railroad connections and the development and production of a continuing stream of innovative machinery to cut and shape wood, such as the cylinder saw. By 1875, almost a half million dollars of clothespins, tubs, pails, chairs and barrels was being produced in Winchendon, which had also become a center for the production of woodworking machinery. The creation of the rotary-head cylinder planer, which contributed to the advancement of all woodworking processes, is one of the proud achievements, which took place in Winchendon. In 1852, a flood washed away every bridge and dam on the Millers, River in Winchendon, destroying businesses of all kinds, but by 1855 the town had recovered sufficiently so that 1.6 million yards of cotton sheeting was produced in its mills. Agricultural production included mixed grains, hay and cattle raising. French Canadians joined the Irish immigrants moving into town to take mill jobs and help the B.D. Whitney Machine Company to become a pioneer in the field of direct motor-driven woodworking machinery. In 1911, the firm built the first single planer operated by direct motor drive. Other industries in town in the early 20th century included tanneries, the textile firms and a substantial dairying industry (Seal supplied by community. Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission)
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