Encouraged by the Embargo of 180-9 and the War of 1812, the Nelson Cotton & Woolen Company was formed by Asa Beard, Amos Heald, Pious Burnap and Andrew Harris in 1814. The company began acquiring land at outlet of Granite Lake by acquiring the outlet and surrounding land from Benjamin Felt. In 1816 it acquired the saw and grist mill (C-5-16) established by Joseph Baker in 1793 and acquired the house (C-5-11) as a boarding house for employees. The whole site totaled seven acres.

By most accounts the mill was a marginal operation until it was acquired by Alvan Munson and George Furbush of Peterborough in 1832 for $4,000. By 1850 Alvan Munson had $10,000 invested in his cotton factory. He purchased 25 tons of raw cotton that year. The mill contained 12 looms and 640 spindles which were operated by 20 employees (15 of them females who earned an average of $8.75/month while the males earned $20.00/month). The factory turned out 55,000 yards of cotton cloth in 1850, valued at $13,200.

Alvan Munson put the cotton factory up for sale in the late 1850s and by the start of the new decade father and son Joshua D. and Lewis J. Colony of Keene had purchased the business for $8000. They modernized the machinery and increased the number of looms and spindles, just in time for the economic boom associated with the Civil War. By the late 1860s the Colony’s employed 12 men, 24 women and 4 children and turned out 160,000 yards of cloth annually.

A fire in 1877 changed the nature of manufacturing in the village. The Colony’s cotton factory burned in that year.

The Colony’s rebuilt the factory, but when they did so they equipped it with machinery to manufacture chairs. By the mid 1880s the company employed 30 to 50 people and made 25,000 to 30,000 chairs annually. J. Colony died in 1891 and his family operated the chair factory until 1916. The mill was sold to the Demeritt-Fisher company soon after that. Fred Fisher operated the company; his son Hermon was involved in the operation in later years. Demeritt-Fisher operated their chair plant in Munsonville until 1929 when the Depression closed it for good. The building collapsed in 1947 and only its foundations remain today.

The Millhouse at C-5-11

Mill Pond Outlet from Granite Lake

Fire at the Mill, 1877

The rebuilt mill