Imágenes de páginas

In 1840 the average weight of the fleece was barely 1.85 pounds; in 1850 it was 2.42 pounds; in 1860, 2.68 pounds; in 1870, 3.52 pounds; in 1880, 4.79 pounds; and in 1887, about 6 pounds.

Since 1860 the population has not kept pace with the wool crop. In 1860 the country produced little over 2 pounds to each inhabitant; in 1880, over 4 pounds; and in 1885, over 5 pounds to each inhabitant.


From the report of the committee of the National Academy of Sciences, made in 1886 to the Secretary of the Treasury, it appears that "the different purposes to which wool is applied has produced the breeding of different stocks of sheep in the United States, so that we now produce wool from 1 inch to over 1 foot in length of fiber, and varying in fineness from 10 of an inch to of an inch in diameter.' From the same authority it appears that "our wools differ in strength of fiber, elasticity under pulling strain, elasticity under bending strain, flexibility, softness, character, and amount of secretions, color, luster, and in many other ways; that the character of the wool varies as to its location on the hide, especially in the unimproved stock; that it also varies under different conditions of food, climate, soil, and water; that a flock which produces a certain quality of wool will not always produce the same quality in another pasture; that the same pasture varies greatly at different seasons of the year, and affects the quality of the wool by making fibers of unequal fineness in different portions of their length and decreasing their strength at certain points of their growth."

Dr. McMurtrie, formerly connected with the Agricultural Department, and now professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois (high scientific authority), furnishes the following information:

The merino sheep varies as to fineness of wool from 5 to 15 per cent., according to the condition of the animal as to health, nutrition, and care. The following is the result of tests made of merino wool selected from several States from the purest merinos, descended from the same parent stock in Vermont, first as to fineness of fiber which is measured in centimillimetres: Pennsylvania, 1.711; Texas, 1.837; California, 1.883; Illinois, 1.902; Vermont, 1.979; New York, 2.034; Wisconsin, 2.049—which shows that of the seven States named, Pennsylvania produced the finest and Wisconsin the coarsest fiber from pure merinos descended from the same stock.

As to elasticity, estimated in percentages, the following is the result from pure merinos from the same parent stock in Vermont: Illinois, 91.751; Texas, 90.292; Minnesota, 77.010; Vermont, 70.587; Pennsylvania, 63.795; California, 61.972; New York, 55.875; Wisconsin, 48.446-which shows that Illinois produced the most and Wisconsin the least elastic wool from the same stock of sheep.

Wool improves in elasticity to a maximum with the age of the sheep, to a certain age, and then deteriorates; the maximum point differing widely in the different breeds of sheep. The Cotswold and Lincoln or Leicester reaches its maximum at one year; the Downs at three years, and the Merino at four years. In strength of fiber the Southdown stands first; the Merino second; the Lincolns third, and the Cotswold is the weakest.

The fiber of wool is 14 stronger than bone; nearly twice as strong as soft brass, iron, or steel wire rope; twice as strong as the hardest wood, and four times as strong as white pine.

The Merino wools are used for fine cassimeres and broadcloths and for felting purposes; the Lincoln and Cotswold sheep furnish the long combing wools used in manufacturing worsted and soft knit goods; the Merino and Down wools are called carding wools, while the Lincoln and Cotswold are denominated combing wools.


While the United States, especially the western part of the country, has been steadily increasing its wool product, until 1884, the rest of the world has kept pace with us.

In the thickly-settled portions of Europe, where lands are valuable, there has been little or no increase in the wool product, but in the English dependencies and colonies the growth has been as rapid as in this country, and of late years the River Platte country of South America has also taken its place in the front rank of the wool growers of the world.


Prior to 1820 India exported no wool and raised very little. In 1840 her export was only about 2,500,000 pounds; in 1850 a bout 3,500,000 pounds; and in 1859 over 14,000,000 pounds; since which time her export of wool has greatly increased. India's wool clip of 1870 was estimated at about 30,000,000 pounds, and in 1880 at over 50,000,000 pounds.


The English colonies in South Africa prior to 1820 produced no wool; in 1845 these colonies furnished England with 3,500,000 pounds of wool; in 1850, nearly 6,000,000 pounds; in 1855, over 11,000,000 pounds; and in 1859, over 14,000,000 pounds. In 1870 they produced 41,000,000 pounds; and in 1880, 46,000,000 pounds.


Capt. John McArthur, of the British Army, who settled in Australia, imported in 1797, 3 Merino rams, which were the first ever seen in that country. He crossed these on the native sheep. His experiment proved a success and he afterwards became a large sheep and wool raiser, but his example was not followed for many years, and in 1830 the wool crop was only about 1,000,000 pounds; in 1885 it was 3,776,191 pounds; in 1840, 6,215,329 pounds in New South Wales alone, and over 9,000,000 pounds in Australia; in 1845 it was 24,000,000 pounds; in 1850, 39,000,000 pounds; in 1855, 49,000,000 pounds; in 1860, 55,000,000 pounds; in 1870, 193,000,000 pounds; and in 1880, 392,000,000 pounds. In 1880 this immense wool clip was from 51,000,000 sheep, making the average of nearly 8 pounds per fleece. Since 1880 several years of severe drought in Australia destroyed 10,000,000 or 12,000,000 sheep, but at present her flocks and her wool clip are greater than in 1880. In 1885-86 the exports from Australasia were 455,476,000 pounds.


Since 1860 wool growing has also increased very rapidly in the Argentine Republic or River Platte country, in South America, so that in 1880 the wool product amounted to 240,000,000 pounds.

Since 1880 this industry has continued to grow and it is now estimated that the number of sheep is 80,000,000, nearly, if not quite, equal to that of Australia and New Zealand.


Next after Australia, the Argentine Republic, and the United States comes Russia, as a wool-growing country. There is, however, little difference in the weight of the wool clip of Russia and this country. The number of sheep in Russia in 1882 was about 57,000,000 and the wool clip about 263,000,000 pounds.


These countries, in the order named, come next as wool growers, but none of them produce enough wool for home consumption, and they all are heavy importer of raw wool.

The countries that yield the largest surplus of wool for export are Russia, the Argentine Republic, South Africa, and Australasia. Their capacity for supplying the manufactures of the world seems to be ample. They have all improved their sheep by crossing with the merinos, and their wools, especially those of Australia and the Platte country, are among the finest in the world.

These two last-named countries are much alike in their peculiar fitness for sheep raising, and are as yet not taxed to anything like their capacity. Australia alone is as large in area as the United States.

In Australia the plains devoted to sheep-raising are in the hands of comparatively a few, who have perpetual leases of immense tracts of Government lands at low rates. Some of these tracts contain as much as 100,000 acres, so that the country bids fair to continue to be a sheepraising section.

It is idle to talk about raising sheep in Europe or this country to compete with South Africa, the Platte country, or Australasia.

Our sheep farming must eventually be confined to small flocks of improved breeds, raised on farms where they require little or no extra labor. It has already come to this in Europe, and in the Eastern and Middle States, where lands are valuable, and will finally prevail in the West, as the large ranches are divided up and settled.

The conditions are entirely different in South Africa, Australia, and South America, where laborers are, at best, semi-barbarians or peous, and the immense plains of cheap lands and torrid climate seem better adapted to sheep raising than other industries,

The wools from South Africa are used chiefly in Scotland and the West of England for men's goods.

The Australasian clip varies from the long, bright, New Zealand cross-bred wools to the coarse carpet wools.

The River Platte wools also vary greatly, but are chiefly noted for their fine, short fiber, which fits them for fine broad cloths and cassimeres. The weight of the fleeces is therefore much less than in Australasia.


The manufacture of wool in the Colonies properly began with the erection of fulling-mills in Massachusetts in 1648-or, as claimed by some, in 1643-by a society of Yorkshire people, supposed to be Non-conformists, who brought with them from England their looms and implements of trade.

The woolen webs of the hand-looms of the private families were carried to these fulling-mills to undergo a process which gave them greater body and thickness, adapted them to a better finish, and increased their durability; they increased very rapidly in number throughout the Colonies until every neighborhood seems to have had a fulling-mill, while every family had its loom and every woman was a weaver; there were also many weavers who wove on their hand-looms for the public, and some who traveled about from house to house plying their trade, but there is no record of any woolen factory or company organized for woolen manufacture prior to the year 1788.

The progress we made in thirty-five years of competition with English manufacturers is very well shown by the business experience of the late Mr. Thomas R. Hazard, one of the earliest woolen manufacturers in this country. Mr. Hazard said:

In 1816 and later I used to employ scores of women to spin at their homes at 4 cents a skein, by which they earned 12 cents a day at most. Inferior cotton shirtings sold then at 50 cents a yard, thus requiring four days' work of the woman to pay for 1 yard of cotton cloth, she boarding herself. The wool was carded into rolls at Peacedale and transported to and from on the backs of horses. Some time ago I stood in a manufactory in the same village, and took note of a stripling who tended two highly improved jennies, from which he was turning off daily as much yarn as six or seven hundred formerly spun on wheels in the same time. In the mean time the introduction of labor-saving machinery and perfected skill had so reduced the cost of goods that a superior article of cotton cloth was then sold in the village stores for 15 cents a yard, for what formerly cost 50 cents a yard. So that had this boy spinner been paid the same price per skein that was formerly paid to a woman for an equal amount of work, he would have received as much as could formerly have been earned by about two thousand hand-spinners in the same time.

The following is an extract from Wade's Fibre and Fabric in regard to the early condition and progress of our woolen manufacture:

Up to 1840 about the only woolen fabrics made in the United States were satinets. broadcloths, flannels, and blankets. Eighteen hundred and fifty saw the success of the Crompton loom at Lowell and Lawrence, on which were made a full line of Scotch

plaids in all their beautiful colorings, as well as star twills, half-diamonds-basket weaving effects, all made from scoured yarns. The "Bay State shawl" was then being made in great abundance, and was universally worn. White flannels were then, as now, a staple product. There were also many mills making tweeds, used as water-proof cloaks for ladies. They were made on three harness, with cotton warp and wool filling, now substituted by the universally worn rubber water-proof. Up to that time fancy cassimeres had been largely made through the Blackstone Valley on the Crompton and Tappet looms, as made by William Crompton. These goods were woven in the grease, the same as at the present time. As early as 1846 the Jacquard was used at Woonsocket and Blackstone. From 1850 to 1860 fancy cassimeres made a rapid advance, and the styles ran to extremes far more than they ever have since. The Jacquard was again brought into use at Woonsocket, Blackstone, Millville, and at Rockville, the writer putting up some thirty machines at Warehouse Point, Conn. In 1854 very ultra styles were made, and sold well at large profit. When the war broke out almost every mill in the country was put on army goods and army flannels and blankets. The war brought its long stagnation; after which, with the revival of trade, came the demand for better-made goods. Ladies' worsted dress goods were also introduced, and following them the worsted industry for men's wear, which has grown to its present large proportions. With the downfall of worsted dress goods Bradford received a hard blow, and one of our largest corporations with difficulty weathered the storm. This fabric was followed by the "soft woolen" dress goods introduced by the French, and which have had such a long run and still remain popu lar. Wade's Fibre and Fabric, since the publication of its first number, has persistently advised the diversifying of cotton fabrics, and with the best results, as the close observer has noticed. The demand for better-made fabrics of all kinds has called for better made machinery, and the progress made in the past thirty-seven years has been wonderful, and the contest is still going on.

Fulling-mills of the present day are connected with and are a part of the woolen manufactories, except in remote and isolated localities in the West and South, where there are few factories, and the inhabitants still use their hand-looms in their families and wear their homespun cloths. They are, however, rapidly diminishing in number as separate establishments from woolen factories. In 1840 there were 2,585 fulling-mills in the United States, while in 1880 the number had become reduced to 991, and these combined wool carding with the fulling process.

In 1788 Jeremiah Wadsworth and others erected and put in operation at Hartford, Conn., the first woolen factory using more than one loom. This factory had the capacity of weaving 5,000 yards of cassimeres or broadcloth per annum, worth about $5 per yard. This was considered a stupendous undertaking at that time, and was deemed of such importance to the infant Republic that General Washington paid a special visit to it, and in 1791 Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, in his address to Congress, complimented the owners of the factory, and urged the importance of improving the breeds of sheep. When General Washington made his address to Congress he wore a suit of broadcloth manufactured and presented to him by the owners of the Hartford Woolen Factory.

About 1789 another woolen mill, with about the same capacity; commenced operations at Stockbridge, and in 1790 another at Watertown, so that in 1790 there were 3 woolen mills in operation, with a capacity of about 15,000 yards per annum, worth about $75,000,

« AnteriorContinuar »