Hiram Holt & Co.
East Wilton, Maine

The following information is from notes compiled by W. A. "Chet" Sweatt of Farmington, Maine.

The East Wilton knife factory
1808 -1818 Isaac Butterfield was the first blacksmith in town; he made tools for the granite quarries.  He was born in Dunstable, NH on November 1, 1750 and died in East Wilton on February 28, 1817.
1818-1836 Samuel Pease owned the blacksmith shop.
1836-1838 Andrew S. Butterfield (Isaac's son) bought the shop from Samuel Pease in 1836.  He built a tenement house (two apartments) on the west end of the shop.  Andrew died March 16, 1866.
1839 Calvin Keyes becomes a partner in the shop with Andrew Butterfield.  Calvin was born August 3, 1814 and died December 19, 1864.
1864 Hiram Holt took title to the shop from the Keyes estate.  He advertised nationwide and had salesmen traveling in Europe, especially in Sweden.  The salesman's kit contained small samples of hay knives, machetes and scythes.  Hiram was born in 1816 and died in 1894.
1871 George F. Weymouth of Dresden patented a hay knife, patent number 112,400 March 7, 1871.
1870s Sometime in the 1870s Hiram Holt bought George Weymouth's patent.  The company used the lengthy mark: MANUFACTURED ONLY BY THE HIRAM HOLT CO./EAST WILTON, FRANKLIN COUNTY, MAINE/WEYMOUTHS PATENT - MARCH 7, 1871.  It had a few variations - sometimes Holt's name alone appeared, and other times "Co." or "& Co." was added.  The patented hay knife was marketed under the Lightening brand name.
1881 September 4, 1881, Holt installed a phone from the scythe factory to an office across the stream.
1880s A. W. Parsons bought into Holt's shop sometime before 1887.
1887 The plant burned down with a loss of $35,000 and no insurance.  They employed 40 people at the time.
1888 The town voted to exempt Holt from taxes for ten years if he would rebuild in East Wilton.  On January 19th, Holt announced he would rebuild on the site of the old factory.  The new shop was 212' x 34' x 19' posted.  Ninety feet of the building had a monitor top roof.  There were six departments: on the east end a repair shop, a stockroom equipped with great shears for cutting iron and steel, a hammer room with trip hammers, a grinding room, a polishing room whose floor was four feet above the other rooms, and a painting and packing room.  The operation started on one end and finished on the other.  The wheel house was outside the main building with two belts, one to the hammer room and the other to the grinding and polishing rooms. 

On September 6 the scythe shop was completed and by the 13th it was in production.  By November 22, 1888, they were making 25 dozen Lightening hay knives daily.  These sold for $18/dozen.  Their other hay knife, the Blizzard, was shorter and sold for $12/dozen.  Workers had a quota to meet.  In the summer they started at daylight and would be done when their quota was met.  Knives were made from 2 1/2" x 1/2" bars of steel.  Workers "drew" the blades, then they were heated red hot and platers would put them under trip hammers.  This would thin the blade for the cutting edge.  The plater would also put the curve in the blade for the cutting edge.  Then the spindles for the handles were drawn.  Some were cut with the side handle as part of the knife, others were welded on. They were stamped: HIRAM HOLT & CO. EAST WILTON ME. PAT. 1871.  While still red hot, they were sent to the hardening room and dipped in a #2 oil bath to be quenched, then put in a trough filled with sawdust to absorb the excess oil.  Notches were cut by the grinders.  The grindstones were on a shaft with half of the stone above the floor.  The workers would straddle the stone and work while a stream of water ran on the stone.  The final polish was on a wooden spoke wheel with a five inch rim.  Cow hide was pegged to the wheel and hot glue applied to the cow hide for powdered emery to be applied.  Each knife was fine drawn before polishing.  Each was ground and polished three times and had two coats of paint.  To reduce the price, only one coat of paint was used.

1890 Hiram Holt & Co. offered stock.  A. Parsons is the Manager.
1894 The company reorganized as Clark and Parsons Co..  E. J. Clark of Farmington was the president.  [DATM lists him as Franklin J. Clark, perhaps the E. is a typographical error in Mr. Sweatt's notes.]  Arthur D. Clark of East Wilton was the treasurer.  The machetes sold heavily in Cuba.
1904 Clark & Parsons sold out to the Dunn Edge Tool Co. of Oakland, ME.  [Perhaps they kept using the name or mark as the Oakland Area Historical Society lists Clark & Parsons as a business in Oakland from 1904 to 1909.]
1913 DATM lists 1913? as the end date for Hiram & Holt Co.  Perhaps their trademark was used that long?
The North Wayne Tool Company, previously Dunn Edge Tool Company, was the last active firm in Oakland, closing in 1967.

Some of the marks and labels they used:
On a scythe painted gold:

On scythes:

A paper label on scythes:

Hay knives were marked:
PATENTED IN                        HIRAM HOLT & CO

Machete mark:
NO. 32

Also there is an arm holding a machete with the words under it:

The #32 has an overall length of 25", blade 20" with horn handles
The #22 has an overall length of 30 3/4", blade 25", with a five rivet horn handle.


Wilton Farm and Home Museum
Maine Preservation: "A days work in Maine": This site has a photograph and description of the Dunn Edge Tool Co. and their water powered trip hammers.
Oakland, Maine history: This site has information on the Dunn Edge Tool Co.