Rufus A. Maxfield by J. P.
Rufus A. Maxfield was born in Nashua, N. H., on the fifth day of March,
1835. His father, Stephen C. Maxfield, was a native of Newbury, Vt., was
married to Clarissa Staples, a native of Chichester. N. H., at Nashua N.
H., when the now populous city was but a small village. There were ten
children born to them. Four died quite young; six are now living, viz.:
the subject of this sketch; James G. Maxfield, M. D., surgeon at the
National Home for disabled volunteer soldiers at Togus, Me.; J. P.
Maxfield, treasurer of the Hiscox File Manufacturing Company, at West
Chelmsford, Mass., who resides in Lowell, Mass.; Stephen W. Maxfield, a
mechanic, now living in Nashua; Susan T. and Helen A.; the former
married and resides in Wolfeborough, N. H., the latter in Lowell, Mass.,
with the widowed mother, who is still living at the ripe age of seventy
years. Stephen C, the father, was employed for seventeen years by the
Nashua Manufacturing Company, and was a faithful servant to his
employers. He early became identified with the Methodist denomination,
and was among the most zealous workers in building up the two societies
in those early days. He died in Lowell. Mass., August 10, 1862, having
lived a consistent Christian life, at the age of fifty-three years.
When Rufus was eight years old he was employed in the carding department
of the Nashua company's mills during his school vacations. It was here
that he was first taught the rudiments of cotton-manufacture. For awhile
he worked as back boy in the mule-spinning department. In 1846 the
family removed to Lowell, Mass. After attending school here for a short
time he again went into the mill in the carding department on the
Lawrence corporation. From here he was transferred to the mule-spinning
department. In 1853 he left the mill temporarily to attend school at
Northfield, N. H., where he remained two years, when he returned to the
mill and to his mule-spinning. He passed through the various grades
until he reached the position of second overseer. He was married on the
10th of May, 1856, to Mary A. Spaulding, daughter of Joshua Spaulding,
of Pepperell, Mass.
Soon after the breaking out of the war of the rebellion, the mills of
Lowell suspended operations, and thousands were thrown out of
employment, Mr. Maxfield among the rest. In 1863 he entered the employ
of the Naumkeag Mill, at Salem, Mass., as second overseer under Charles
D. McDuffie, Esq., who had charge of all the spinning in these mills.
Mr. McDuffie is now agent of the Manchester Mills, Manchester, N. H. Mr.
Maxfield remained in the employ of the Naumkeag Mill until the close of
the war, when, the corporations in Lowell resuming operations, he was
tendered the position of overseer of the mule-spinning in the
hosiery-mill of the Lawrence Manufacturing Company, who were then
starting. Here he remained until the spring of 1866, when he took charge
of the mule-spinning in number five mill, then the largest mill owned by
the Lawrence company. During the latter part of 1868 he had charge of
all the spinning in this mill.
In 1869 he was appointed superintendent of Ida Hill Mill, Troy, N. Y.
Under adverse circumstances, with a mill cramped for power, and with old
machinery very much out of repair, he was very successful, earning
satisfactory profits for the owners. In the year 1872, the management of
the Tremont and Suffolk Mills in Lowell, Mass., offered him the position
of superintendent of their large mills, where, under Thomas S. Shaw,
Esq., agent, he remained until 1875. During his connection with this
company, the quality of the Canton flannels, which are a "specialty"
with these mills, was brought up to a standard that made them rank among
the first in the market, commanding ready sales and good prices.
The directors of the Nashua Manufacturing Company, on the death of
Oliver Hussey, Esq., in January, 1875, realizing the qualifications of
Mr. Maxfield for such a position, appointed him agent of their large
mills in Nashua, N. H. During Mr. Maxfield's administration to the
present time, there have been extensive alterations and improvements in
the direction of economy of manufacture and increased production, so
that the reputation of the company that owned the model mills of New
England has been maintained. Thus we find the boy who at eight years of
age took his first lesson in cotton-manufacture, returning, after the
lapse of thirty-two years, to the same mills as agent. Little did the
youth dream what thirty-two years would bring to pass in his career.
Socially Mr. Maxfield is a very agreeable gentleman; and, while he has
devoted his energies during all these years to his chosen calling, he
has found time to connect himself by social ties to beneficiary
organizations, thus lending his influence to the great work in which
they are engaged. He was prominent for many years in the management of
the affairs of Mechanics Lodge of Odd Fellows of Lowell, Mass., passing
through the various positions until now he is one of the "Past Grands"
of this lodge. He is also a member of Pentucket Lodge of Masons, Royal
Arch Chapter, Ahasuerus Council, and Pilgrim Commandry of that city.
He is a regular attendant of the Methodist church, and is respected by
the people of Nashua for his upright and honorable course of life. He is
prompt to decide questions that come before him; but his decisions,
though firm, are tempered with that affability of manner which relieves
them of much of the harshness that many men manifest. May he be spared
many years to pursue his favorite calling; and may the day be far
distant when the Nashua Manufacturing Company shall lose his services,
or the city of Nashua lose so worthy a citizen.