Alvah W. Sulloway by H. H. Metcalf

From an industrial, as well as a political standpoint, the town of Franklin has long occupied a prominent position in the state. Highly favored by nature with the facilities most conducive to the development of manufacturing industry, there has grown up within its limits, or been attracted thereto from other localities, a large class of citizens possessing the enterprise, energy, and sagacity requisite to the most advantageous use of those facilities. There are, indeed, few among our New England towns of corresponding size, which include among their inhabitants a larger number of active and successful business men, or whose progress has been signalized during the last quarter of a century by a more substantial industrial development.

Alvah W. Sulloway is one of the best-known, most practical, energetic, and public-spirited among the enterprising business men of this prosperous and progressive town. While the state of Massachusetts has drawn from our midst a large proportion of the men whose labors have brought the prosperity and distinction which that proud old commonwealth enjoys, she has given New Hampshire in return some of her own sons, whose efforts have contributed in no small degree to advance the honor and welfare of the state of their adoption. Among these is the subject of this sketch. Born in Framingham, Mass., Dec. 25, 1838, Mr. Sulloway is now in his forty-fourth year. He is the only son and eldest child of Israel W. and Adeline (Richardson) Sulloway, to whom three daughters were also born, two of whom are living, one unmarried, and the other the wife of Herbert Bailey, Esq., a prominent manufacturer of the town of Claremont. Israel W. Sulloway is a native of Boston, and sprang from revolutionary ancestry on both the paternal and the maternal side, his mother being a Woodbury of Salem, daughter of Capt. Israel Woodbury, who served in the patriot army throughout the war for independence. He engaged in manufacturing service in youth, and was for some time an overseer in the Saxonville woolen mill. When his son Alvah was about ten years of age, he removed to the town of Enfield in this state, where he engaged in the manufacture of yarn hosiery. Here he introduced the process of manufacturing the celebrated Shaker socks by machinery, being the first manufacturer to engage in the enterprise, where he established a prosperous business, which he carried on about sixteen years, when he sold out to his son-in-law, Mr. Bailey, and retired from active life, locating at Waltham, Mass., where he still resides. In his father's mill at Enfield, Alvah W. Sulloway gained that practical knowledge of the business in which he has since been engaged, which constituted the sure foundation of the success he has attained therein. He secured a good academical education at Canaan, Barre, Vt., and the Green Mountain Liberal Institute at South Woodstock; but spent a considerable portion of his time between the age of ten and twenty-one years in active labor in the mill, thoroughly familiarizing himself with the various processes in hosiery manufacture, and the general conduct of business in that important line of industry.

Upon attaining his majority, with that ambitious and independent spirit which so generally characterizes the youth of New England, and to which the development and prosperity of all sections of our country are so largely due, Mr. Sulloway determined to go into business for himself. His purpose received the ready sanction and encouragement of his father, and after due deliberation he formed a partnership with Walter Aiken of Franklin, in the manufacture of hosiery. The partnership continued for about four years, when it was dissolved by mutual consent, and another firm was organized, which put in operation a new mill. This firm consisted of Mr. Sulloway and Frank H. Daniell of Franklin, who carried on business together until 1869, when Mr. Daniell withdrew, and Mr. Sulloway has since been sole proprietor. The mill is situated upon the lower power of the Winnipesaukee, opposite the mills of the Winnipiseogee Paper Company, the power being used in common by the two establishments. The building is of brick, three stories high, with basement, contains four sets of woolen machinery, with about seventy-five knitting-machines, and furnishes employment for about ninety operatives, besides a large number of women in the vicinity, and surrounding towns, whose labor is required in finishing the work which the machines leave incomplete. The goods manufactured are the Shaker socks, or half-hose, of which about three hundred dozen pairs are produced daily, giving an annual product of about one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The monthly pay-roll averages about two thousand five hundred dollars, aside from the amount paid for outside labor.

Mr. Sulloway is a business man in the true sense of the term, and as such he has been thus far eminently successful. But while devoting his energies and ability to the development of his own business interests, and thereby indirectly conferring large benefit upon the community in which he moves, he has never failed to contribute, by direct personal effort, to the advancement of all measures of public utility and material progress; and to his labor and encouragement, personally and pecuniarily, as much as to any other among its many enterprising and public-spirited citizens, the town of Franklin is indebted for the advanced position which it holds, when regarded from a business, social, or educational standpoint. He was a prime mover in the organization of the Franklin National Bank, which went into operation in November, 1879, and has been president of the institution from the start. He has also been a trustee of the Franklin Savings Bank ever since its establishment, and for several years past a member of the committee of investment. In 1880 he was chosen a member of the board of directors of the Northern Railroad, which position he still holds.

In politics, Mr. Sulloway is an ardent Democrat, an earnest and enthusiastic worker in the party cause; and his labors in this direction have been largely instrumental in bringing his party into ascendency in Franklin, which was for many years one of the hardest-contested political battle grounds in the state, numbering, as it does, among its citizens several of the most active leaders of the two great parties. In 1871, although the town was then decidedly Republican, he was chosen a member of the state legislature from Franklin, and was re-elected the following year. In 1874, and again in 1875, he was elected to the same position. In the legislature, as everywhere else, he proved himself a thoroughly practical man, devoting himself actively to business, and leaving speech-making to those inclined to talk rather than work. In 1871, he served on the committee on elections; in 1872, upon railroads; in 1874 was chairman of the committee on manufactures, where his close acquaintance with manufacturing interests fitted him for most efficient service; and in 1875 was again a member of the elections committee. In 1874, when the Democratic party managers set to work systematically to win a victory in the state, Mr. Sulloway was nominated for railroad commissioner upon the ticket headed by James A. Weston for governor. Although there was no choice by the people in the election that year, the Democracy won a substantial victory, in that they secured a majority in the legislature, and the election of their candidates for governor and railroad commissioner followed at the hands of that body. To this triumph of his party in the state, the energetic labor of Mr. Sulloway in the general conduct of the campaign contributed in no small degree. As a member of the board of railroad commissioners for the term of three years, the last year as chairman of the board, he rendered the state efficient service, carrying into his official labors, so far as they extended, the same practical sagacity and judgment exercised in his own private business.

In January, 1877, Mr. Sulloway was nominated by the Democracy of the second district as their candidate for congress, against Major James F. Briggs of Manchester, the Republican nominee. The district was strongly Republican, and that party had a popular candidate in the field; yet Mr. Sulloway, with no expectation of an election, made a vigorous canvass, and ran largely ahead of his ticket. He was also the candidate of his party in the district at the next election, and again in 1880, making lively work for his successful opponent, Major Briggs, on each occasion. He has been an active member of the Democratic state committee for more than ten years past, and for the greater portion of the time a member of the executive committee of that body, having direct charge of the campaign work. He was a member of the New Hampshire delegation in the national convention at St. Louis in 1876, which nominated Samuel J. Tilden for the presidency, and was an enthusiastic supporter of the great New York reformer, not only in convention, but also in the subsequent campaign in which he was actively engaged as a member of the Democratic national committee from this state. In 1880 he was again a delegate to the national convention of his party, at Cincinnati, where Gen. Hancock was nominated, and was again elected as the New Hampshire member of the national committee, holding the position until the present time.

In religion, Mr. Sulloway is an adherent of the liberal faith. He was reared a Universalist, and is now an active member of the Unitarian society in Franklin, a young but flourishing organization which is already taking active measures for the erection of a fine church edifice. In this organization, as in business and politics, Mr. Sulloway is an earnest worker, and his labor and encouragement have contributed materially to its success. He is a trustee of this society, and, with Governor Bell, a vice-president of the New Hampshire Unitarian Association. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the Unitarian Educational Society, under whose auspices the liberal educational institution known as Proctor Academy, at Andover, is conducted.

In 1866, Mr. Sulloway was united in marriage with Miss Susan K. Daniell, an accomplished daughter of the late J. F. Daniell, a member of the noted paper-making firm of Peabody & Daniell, and a sister of the Hon. Warren F. and Frank H. Daniell. They have two children, a daughter and son,—the eldest, Alice, born August 5, 1871, and Richard Woodbury, born February 15, 1876. Their home is a fine modern residence, erected in 1877, beautifully located in a bend of the Winnipesaukee river, surrounded by handsome grounds, with all its appointments conducive to the comfort of the family and the host of friends who share their generous hospitality.

Mr. Sulloway is a man of keen perceptive powers and ready judgement, so that he is enabled to form conclusions upon all practical questions presented with more than ordinary promptness and accuracy. His opinion in all matters of public interest and concern in the community in which he resides is as frequently sought and carries as great weight as that of any other man, to say the least, and the same also may be said of his advice in private business affairs. He is frank and outspoken at all times, and never hesitates to say just what he thinks when called upon to express himself in any direction. He has many warm friends, and enjoys a full measure of popularity in social as well as in public and business circles. He was a moving spirit in the organization of the "New Hampshire Club," an association formed by New Hampshire men doing business in Boston, for social entertainment, and has been a leading member of the same from the start. Endowed with an active mind and healthy and vigorous bodily powers, he has great capacity for labor, and will, unquestionably, accomplish even more substantial results in the future than have already attended his efforts.