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Industry

INDUSTRY

Several years ago (in a completely different context) I spent a lot of time in The Patent Gazette, weekly publication of the U.S. Patent Office. Would it surprise you to know that patent holders from 1880 to World War I aren’t concentrated in major urban areas?

At the time, I was interested in the development of CMUs (a.k.a. concrete blocks) and learned that patents related to this topic fall in two categories: 1) patents concerning the shape of blocks themselves and innovations in ways the blocks are laid or bonded together, and 2) the machines used to make the blocks. I suspect the second strategy was far more effective in protecting the patent holder’s idea. So what can we say about Agincourt’s “industry” and, by extension, its industriousness?

Of the four quadrants in the original townsite, both their topography and relation to the creek and river influenced their character. The well-to-do, for example gravitated to the higher ground of the NE Quad — what in other places came to be called “Pill Hill” because the doctors lived there (amongst bankers and lawyers and others aspiring to the professions, rather than the trades). Look here for big houses likely to have become funeral homes or B&B’s.

The NW Quad wasn’t quite so elevated but it was also still above the Muskrat’s flood stage. This is where the merchant class built their homes within easy walking distance of Broad Street. Look here for the butcher, baker, candlestick maker, and others of that solid Middle Class that had once made America great and may again. Here the houses are modest, well-maintained but wanting a coat of paint that should have been applied last year.

The SE Quad had character from the beginning of White settlement but it was rural and woodsy and found to be the place where Archers [what residents of Agincourt call themselves] went to engage the primordial. Native American had used “Gnostic Grove” as a campsite, a place for the gathering of lower-case “C” clans and tribal meetings and their festivals and rituals. Prior to WWII, I can’t imagine that it was excessively or even extensively built up. Howard has written about “Gnostic Grove” and the breadth of its happenings, from fornication to salvation.

All of which brings us to the SW Quad, whose flood plain at the fork of the Muskrat with Crispin Creek was suitable for wage laborers, modest working-class homes and the nearby factories where people made things and sold stuff that smelled or burned or exploded. In short, this was where we should look for industriousness and all the risks attendant thereto.

Related to these neighborhood distinctions was the matter of public education. Recall that the Original Townsite provided four “School Lots”, each intended for a grade school and one of them likely to accommodate a high school as well. I suspect the construction of school buildings occurred in this order: NW, NE, SW, SE and that the high school finally settled in the NW — simply because there were more families there and the birthrate was likely higher; the rich don’t like to divide their wealth — before its post-WWII move north of Highway #7 and the beginning of suburban sprawl.

Concerning early industry, however, it began simply enough with the Syndicate Mill, the first phase of which was built in 1868:

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