Zimri Scates Wallingford by Joshua G. Hall

Famous as the small farming towns of New Hampshire have been in producing men eminent in the learned professions, they have not been less prolific in furnishing young men who have achieved distinction and borne great sway in what are recognized as the more practical business pursuits. Inventors, constructors, skilled artisans, the men who have taken the lead in developing our manufacturing interests and bringing toward perfection intricate processes, those who have increased the volume of trade at home and abroad, and have become merchant princes, have come, as a rule, from the plain farm-houses and common schools of our thousand hillsides. The stern virtues, the rigid frugality, and the unflagging industry always insisted on in the home life, supplemented by the limited but intensely practical learning gained in the district school, have furnished successive generations of young men compact, firm, and robust in their whole make-up, strong of body, clear and vigorous of mind, the whole impress and mold of their moral natures in harmony with right doing. These men have been a permeating force for good through all classes of our population, and towers of strength in our national life. The life of the subject of this sketch is a well rounded example of such young men.

Zimri Scates Wallingford, the son of Samuel and Sallie (Wooster) Wallingford, was born in Milton, in the county of Strafford, October 7, 1816.

Nicholas Wallington, who came, when a boy, in the ship "Confidence," of London, to Boston in the year 1638, settled in Newbury, Mass., where he married, August 30, 1654, Sarah, daughter of Henry and Bridget Travis, who was born in 1636. He was captured on a sea-voyage, and never returned; and his estate was settled in 1684. With his children (of whom he had eight), the surname became Wallingford.

John Wallingford, son of the emigrant Nicholas, born in 1659, married Mary, daughter of Judge John and Mary Tuttle, of Dover, N. H.; but he lived in that part of Rowley, Mass., now known as Bradford. He had seven children; one of these was Hon. Thomas Wallingford, of that part of ancient Dover afterwards Somersworth, and now known as Rollinsford, who was one of the wealthiest and most eminent men of the province, associate justice of the supreme court from 1748 until his death, which took place at Portsmouth, August 4, 1771. The eldest son of John Wallingford, and grandson of the emigrant, was John Wallingford, born December 14, 1688, settled in Rochester, N. H., and became an extensive land-owner. His will, dated October 7, 1761, was proved January 17, 1762. His son, Peter Wallingford, who inherited the homestead and other land in Rochester (then including Milton), made his will April 18, 1771, which was proved August 24, 1773. His son, David Wallingford, settled upon the lands in Milton, then a wilderness. He died in 1815, being the father of Samuel Wallingford, who was father of Zimri S.

Upon his mother's side, Mr. Wallingford is descended from Rev. William Worcester, the first minister of the church in Salisbury, Mass., and ancestor of the eminent New England family of that name or its equivalent, Wooster. Lydia Wooster, great-aunt of Mr. Wallingford, was the wife of Gen. John Sullivan of Durham, major-general in the army of the Revolution, and the first governor of the state of New Hampshire; she was mother of Hon. George Sullivan of Exeter, who was attorney-general of this state for thirty years.

In 1825 the father of Mr. Wallingford died, leaving his widow with four children, of which this son, then nine years of age, was the eldest. At the age of twelve he commenced learning the trade of a country blacksmith. When he had wrought for his master as his boyish strength would allow for two years, he determined not to be content with being simply a blacksmith, and entered the machine-shop of the Great Falls Manufacturing Company at Great Falls, N. H., and served a full apprenticeship at machine-building there, in Maryland, Virginia, and in the city of Philadelphia.

August 27, 1840, Mr. Wallingford married Alta L. G. Hilliard, daughter of Rev. Joseph Hilliard, pastor of the Congregational church in Berwick, Maine, from 1796 to 1827. Their children have been (1) John O. Wallingford, who was sergeant-major, and became lieutenant in the Fifteenth N. H. volunteers, in the war of the rebellion; was severely wounded in the assault on Port Hudson; and was afterwards captain in the Eighteenth N. H., an officer of great merit, whose death at his home in Dover, March 23, 1872, was the result of disease contracted in his war service. (2) Mary C., now wife of Sidney A., Phillips Esq., counselor-at-law in Framingham, Mass.; (3) Julia, residing with her parents.

In 1844, Mr. Wallingford entered the employ of the Cocheco Manufacturing Company, Dover, N. H., as master machine-builder, and remained in that capacity until 1849. During that period, Mr. Wallingford and a partner, by contract, constructed new machinery, cards, looms, dressing-frames, and nearly everything necessary for the re-equipment of the mills. The then new and large mill at Salmon Falls was also supplied with the new machinery necessary, in the same manner.

In 1849 he became superintendent of the company's mills, under the then agent, Captain Moses Paul, and upon the death of that gentleman, was, on the first day of August, 1860, appointed agent of the company. He has continued to fill that office to the present time. Taking into account the great social and public influence, as well as the recognized ability with which his predecessor had for many years administered the affairs of the Cocheco company, the magnitude of its operations, the force and grasp of mind necessary to carry on its affairs successfully, it was evident to all familiar with the situation upon the death of Captain Paul, that no ordinary man could occupy the place with credit to himself, or to the respect of the public, or the satisfaction of the corporation.

Fully conscious of the responsibility assumed, and full of the determination which an ardent nature is capable of, not only to maintain the reputation of his company but to extend its operations and raise the standard of its manufactured goods, it is not overstating the fact to say that in the last twenty years few manufacturing companies have made greater strides in the extent of their works, in the quality of their goods, or their reputation in the great markets, than has the Cocheco under the management of Mr. Wallingford. Always strong financially, its wheels have never, during that time, been idle in any season of panic or monetary depression. Honorable, and ever generous to all its employes, its machinery has never stopped for a day at the demand of any organized strike. The pride, as well as the main business interest of Dover, Mr. Wallingford has always made his company popular with the people; its word proverbially is as good as its bond. The importance of the work is seen in the fact that the mills were, when Mr. Wallingford took charge, of a so-called capacity of fifty-seven thousand spindles; it is now one hundred and twenty thousand; and the reputation of the goods is world-wide. Twelve hundred operatives are on the books of his charge.

To a stranger to the home life of Dover these results seem the great life-work of Mr. Wallingford; but such an one, in making up his estimate, will fail to do justice to some of the elements of character which have, by skillful adaptation, contributed to so great success. To one so observing, the marked traits of the individual are lost sight of in the results of his career. To those only who are personally familiar with the individual are the real elements of success apparent. Of course, without the strong common sense and good judgment which we sum up as "business sagacity," Mr. Wallingford's successes would have been failures; but, to one familiar with his daily life for a score of years, it is apparent that the crowning excellence of his life, and the power which has supplemented his mental force and rounded out his life, have been his stern moral sense.

Perhaps the most noticeable trait in his character from childhood has been his love of justice and right, and his hatred of wrong and injustice in all its forms. Under such a man, no employe, no matter how humble his position, could be deprived of his just consideration; no interest of his corporation could be allowed to ask from the public authorities any indulgence or advantage not fairly to be accorded to the smallest tax-payer. Had he gone no farther than to insist on this exact counterpoise of right and interest, as between employer and employe, and between the interest represented by him and the public interest, his course would have stood out in marked contrast with the conduct of too many clothed with the brief authority of corporate power. Had this strict observance of the relative rights of all concerned been as nicely regarded by associated capital generally as it has been by the Cocheco company under the management of Mr. Wallingford and his lamented predecessor, no "brotherhood" for the protection of labor, no "strikes" organized and pushed to bring too exacting employers to their senses and to an observance of the common rights of humanity, would have had an existence, and none would have had occasion to view with jealous eye the apprehended encroachment of corporate power on private right. But while so insisting on justice in everything, no man has a kindlier vein of character, or a warmer sympathy for deserving objects of charity. Impulsive, naturally, no distressed individual or deserving cause appeals to him in vain, or long awaits the open hand of a cheerful giver.

To a man so endowed by nature, so grounded in right principles, and so delighting in the exercise of a warm christian charity, we may naturally expect the result that we see in this man's life,—success in his undertakings, the high regard of all who know him, and the kindliest relations between the community at large and the important private interests represented by him in his official capacity.

Fifty years ago, when the subject of this sketch, a mere child, was leaving his widowed mother's side to learn his trade, the public mind was just beginning to be aroused from its long lethargy to a consideration of the abolition of slavery in the United States. The sleep of men over the subject had been long, and their consciences seem hardly to have suffered a disturbing dream. Church as well as state was a participator in the system, and with unbecoming haste rose up to put beyond its fellowship and pale the first agitators of emancipation. Garrison had just been released, through the kindness of Arthur Tappan, from an imprisonment of forty-nine days in Baltimore jail, for saying in a newspaper that the taking of a cargo of negro slaves from Baltimore to New Orleans was an act of "domestic piracy," and was issuing the first number of the Liberator, taking for his motto, "My country is the world, my countrymen are all mankind;" and declaring, "I am in earnest, I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, I will be heard."

The agitation of the abolition of slavery, which was to end only with emancipation, had thus begun. The discussion found its way into the public prints, and among the thinking circles of all rural New England. The blacksmith's apprentice read what the newspapers had to say, and listened to the neighborhood discussions on the great question. His sense of justice and humanity was aroused, and he adopted the motto and declaration of purpose as announced by Garrison; and from early youth till the time when Lincoln's proclamation assured the full success of the object aimed at, Mr. Wallingford was the earnest friend of the slave and the active promoter of all schemes looking to his emancipation. With Garrison, Phillips, Parker, Douglas, Rogers, and the other leading anti-slavery men, he was a hearty co-worker, and for years on terms of warm personal friendship.

During the winter of 1849-50, Hon. Jeremiah Clemens of Alabama made a speech in the United States senate, in which he claimed that northern mechanics and laborers stood upon a level with southern slaves, and that the lot of the latter was in fact envious when compared with that of the former classes. This speech at once called out from Hon. John P. Hale, then a member of the senate, a reply in keeping with the demands of the occasion and with the great powers of Mr. Hale as an orator. Soon after, a meeting of the mechanics of Dover was held, at which Mr. Wallingford presided, and at which resolutions expressing the feelings of the meeting toward Mr. Clemens's speech were passed, and a copy furnished to that gentleman by Mr. Wallingford. Upon the receipt of these resolutions, Senator Clemens published in the New York Herald a letter addressed to Mr. Wallingford, propounding ten questions. These questions were framed, evidently, with the design, not so much of getting information about the actual condition of the workingmen of the free states as to draw from Mr. Wallingford some material that could be turned to the disadvantage of the system of free labor. Mr. Wallingford replied through the press, February 6, 1850, in a letter which at once answered the impulsive and haughty "owner of men," and triumphantly vindicated our system of free labor. For directness of reply, density, and clearness of style, few published letters have equaled it. It must have afforded Mr. Clemens material for reflection, and it is not known that he afterwards assailed the workingmen of the nation.

From the formation of the Republican party, Mr. Wallingford has been one of its active supporters. Though no man has been more decided in his political convictions, or more frank in giving expression to them, no one has been more tolerant of the opinions of others, or more scrupulous in his methods of political warfare. Despising the tricks of the mere partisan, and abhorring politics as a trade, he has always been content to rest the success of his party on an open, free discussion of the issues involved. Not deeming it consistent with his obligations to his company to spend his time in the public service, he has refused to accede to the repeated propositions of his political friends to support him for important official positions; but he was a member of the constitutional constitution of 1876, and presidential elector for 1876, casting his vote for Hayes and Wheeler. He is and has been for years, president of the Savings Bank for the County of Strafford, a director of the Strafford National Bank, president of the Dover Library Association, and a director in the Dover & Winnipesaukee Railroad. In his religious belief Mr. Wallingford is a Unitarian, and an active member of the Unitarian society in Dover.