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Windham County Connecticut
WINDHAM COUNTY RECORDS
AS RECORDED IN:
COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES.
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903 P. 6
GEORGE SYKES. The life of George Sykes, a manufacturer of Rockville, and at this time the president of three large manufacturing corporations of a city in which he has dwelt for upward of a third of a century, and which he has aided very materially in developing from a village into one of the busiest industrial centers in New England, furnishes to the ambitious youth of to-day an example of what can be accomplished in the line of energy, industry and integrity.
Born April 4, 1840, in Honley,
near Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England, Mr. Sykes is a son of John
Sykes (son of Joseph) and his wife Harriet Durrans (daughter of
Thomas), who came to America about 1851. In his youth and early
manhood John Sykes had been taught woolen manufacture in all its
branches, a business in which he was employed, near Huddersfield,
until he came to America. After coming to the United States, he
entered the mills of E.S. Hall & Co.,
of Millville, Mass., a firm, which then and for many years afterward
enjoyed the highest reputation as manufacturers of fancy cassimeres.
After some years Mr. Sykes removed to North Adams, where he died
at the age of eighty-seven years, his wife dying in that place at
the age of seventy-six, both respected in the community. Their family
of boys became citizens of the type that few parents are permitted
to take pride in. The mechanical skill of the father was inherited,
the pious teaching of the
Mr. And Mrs. Sykes had children as follows: (1) George, whose name opens these lines, was the eldest. Of the others, (2) Thomas W. married Miss Jennie Bond, of North Adams, and has three children, Carrie Bond, Bertha and Mattie (now Mrs. Herbert Lewis). (3) Elizabeth is a resident of North Adams, Mass. (4) James T., whose death occurred at Rockville on Nov. 19, 1894, at the early age of thirty-nine years, was from boyhood a resident of Rockville, where he was well and favorably known. Born in 1855, at Millville, he came to Rockville at the age of fourteen and entered the mill of the Hockanum Co., familiarizing himself with the work of every department until he was made superintendent, a position he had filled for ten years before his decease. His sturdy character and honesty of purpose in all things were greatly admired by the community. His widow, formerly Hattie L. Vibbert, and one son, Elmer H. survive. (5) David A.
Receiving a common school education, George Sykes at an early age entered, as a carding boy, the mill where his father was employed. Both his grandfathers had been skilled workmen, in the line of woolen manufacture, one in the weaving, the other in the finishing department, and the knowledge of this, and of his fathers skill in the same line, in addition to the fact that his birth took place in a great manufacturing center, may have been something of an inspiration to the fourteen-year-old lad, creating the ambition that led to his great success in after years. As he planned how best to use his first wages, $13 per month, he probably could never have dreamed of the changes the years would bring, nor of how many ciphers he could add to those first dollars as time passed by.
Possessing a natural aptitude for mechanical work, and giving his duties diligent attention, young Sykes passed from one branch of the industry to another, becoming a weaver, then loom-fixer, and later overseer in the weave-room. Shortly after attaining his majority he went to Cavendish, Vt., to take charge of the weaving in the woolen mill at that point belonging to Frederick Fullerton & Co., and a year later, in 1864, was advanced to the superintendency of the mill. This position he held until he came to Rockville, Conn., on Oct. 1, 1866. Since that time Mr. Sykes has gradually widened his influence, steadily forging his way to the front rank of New England manufacturers and to a most enviable place among them. During all these years he has been closely identified with the growth of Rockville as a manufacturing center, and has been allied with some of the largest corporations. On coming to the village, in 1866, he became manager of the Hockanum Mill, and though he was but a young man of twenty-six, under his able conduct of the affairs of the company their goods became widely and favorably known in the market, and the name of the Hockanum Co. second to none in prominence among the manufacturers of New England. What was known as the Saxony Mill, at Rockville, was bought and equipped by the Hockanum Co. Mr. Sykes, in association with the late most highly esteemed George Maxwell, purchased the mill of the New England Manufacturing Co., whose business was established in 1836 by the late Allen Hammond and George Kellogg, re-organized it, and made it a joint-stock company, of which Mr. Maxwell was president until his death, in 1891. Prosperity attended his efforts, and in 1886, opportunity offering for the purchase of the stock of the Springville Manufacturing Co., Mr. Sykes and his associates became the owners, the mill now being operated under the old charter. The old mill was removed and on its site was erected a new one, which is considered one of the best equipped and most successful woolen mills of its kind in this country. Of these three corporations Mr. Sykes is now president, having succeeded Mr. Maxwell as president of the New England Co. The products of all these mills are fancy cassimeres and worsted goods for mens wear.
The mills of the Hockanum Co. are the
most extensive of the kind in Rockville. With ten sets of cards and
162 broad looms the output is
The Hockanum Co. has a capital
of $300,000 and gives employment to 400 hands. The New England
Co. has a capital of $250,000, and operates nine sets of cards
and 114 broad looms, and was established in 1836, under the firm
name of Hammond & Kellogg.
In 1837 this company was incorporated with a capital stock of $31,000,
for the manufacture of satinets, but in 1842 the product of the mill
was changed to fancy cassimeres, for which Crompton looms were put
in, and in 1879 the manufacture of worsted goods was commenced, these
fabrics ranking among the best in the country. This company gives
employment to 350 people, and the mill has a capacity of 300,000
yards of material annually. The Springville Company has a capital
of $250,000, operates eight sets of cards and 135 broad looms, and
Mr. Sykes was married Sept. 2, 1864,
to Sarah A. Fitton, a native of Northfield, Vt., born Nov. 6, 1844,
daughter of James and Mary (Watson)
Mr. Sykes is a director of the Rockville National and Savings Banks; the Rockville Aqueduct Water Co., the Rockville Railroad Co., and for years has been a member of the National Association of Wool Manufacturers, for an extended time having been one of the executive members of that organization, and in 1898 becoming its vice-president. In his political views he is a Republican, was a Presidential elector in 1892, and a delegate to the Republican convention at St. Louis in 1896, but has never accepted public office. He was one of the commissioners from Connecticut at the Worlds Fair in Chicago, 1893.
The family are all connected with the Union Congregational Church, where Mr. Sykes is most highly esteemed, and to the support of which he is a liberal contributor. In 1893 he built his elegant mansion on the corner of Ellington avenue and Prospect street, in Rockville, where hospitality is dispensed with good taste, and without ostentation. Socially Mr. Sykes is an interesting companion, his reading, experience and travel having given him a wide outlook over life. Nineteen times has he crossed the Atlantic, and foreign shores are almost as familiar to him as his own, and although business responsibilities press upon him at all times he is never too occupied to do a kind action or to extend the helping hand to a worthy but less fortunate brother.
Linda D. Pingel great-great granddaughter of Cyrus White of Rockville, Ct.
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