The Village Blacksmith

Before the Industrial Revolution the blacksmith was an indispensable part of the community.  Some thought him the most important man in town.  Besides horseshoes, he made and repaired knives, kitchen utensils and farm tools.  Most of the early Hillsdale County towns and villages had at least one - and often more - blacksmiths.

Henry Taylor, the North Adams "strong man," had been a slave prior to the Civil War.  His muscular feats were legendary in the Adams area.  He would pick up his anvil and carry it around under his arm.  Once he was offered a large pot-bellied stove by a local merchant if he could take it out of the store.  The story is that he put his arms around the stove, picked it up and carried it home.

The Mingus family in Montgomery had a history of blacksmithing, horse shoeing and the livery business (right) for those in the that area. 

Watkins, Sprague and Lamb began their blacksmith and wheel making business in Cambria in an abandoned store building.  After moving to Hillsdale, E.J. Watkins was manager of the Hillsdale Wheel Company, with Chauncey F. Cook as President.


Carol A. Lackey