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Whitin Family Gardens: Whitin Family

Whitinsville, Worcester Co., MA

At a Glance

Whitinsville (pronounced White-ins-ville) is a village of Northbridge, MA and named for a family that for generations ran one of the most successful industries in the Blackstone Valley. Our interest centers on Paul and John C. Whitin who lived during the 19th century and whose interests extended beyond the family businesses to agriculture and horticulture.




Paul Whitin Grave

Many of the Whitin's are buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Northbridge, MA. Pictured below is Paul Whitin, Jr.'s gravestone.

Photograph by Merry Morgan Hill


The Blackstone River Valley is known as the "birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution" and Whitinsville played a significant role in the story. Like Samuel Slater (dates) and others who developed mills and factories along the river -- and later the Blackstone Canal -- six generations of the Whitin family built successful mills and manufacturing companies, housing and amenities like gardens for workers, and a village to support their operations. Our interest is primarily the Whitin family gardens and though we've made some inroads, we're still searching for details like garden plans, planting lists and garden maps. Please let us know if you have ideas for more places we can search, but meanwhile, please take a look at what we've found so far.

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Paul C. Whitin (1767-1831), grew up in Sutton, MA; learned to be a blacksmith and moved to So. Northbridge after his apprenticeship; married Betsy Fletcher in 1793. They had 5 sons and a daughter.

1794: Purchased water rights, iron forge and blacksmith shop; worked as blacksmith

1800: Paul C. Whitin (1800-1884) born in Northbridge

1807: John C. Whitin (1807-1882) born in Northbridge

1822: Paul Jr. marries Sarah Chapin; they have 4 children; [need NY years]

1826: Paul Sr. purchased forge and built a cotton mill and turned management to sons Paul and John; Paul became president of Whitin Manufacturing; John C. became president of Whitin Machine Works, or "The Shop." In time the latter would become the world's largest textile machine shop.

1828: Paul Jr. became President of the Blackstone Bank

1831: Paul Sr. dies

1835: Village of South Northbridge renamed Whitinsville in honor of Paul Sr.

1837: Paul elected to MA legislature

1847: The Providence to Worcester Railroad begins service; one of the early cars is named 'Paul Whitin'

1849: Paul elected to MA Senate

1856: Paul Jr.’s family moves to a new home (mansion) near Douglas Road

1873: John C. has hothouses (for roses, peaches, grapes, chrtsanthemums, etc.) built on his estate

1876: Paul Jr. is part of a Worcester County Horticultural Society contingent that travels to the U.S. Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia

1879: Town Hall (now Memorial Hall) built by the Whitin’s in honor of their father

1882: John C. Whitin dies

1884: Paul Whitin dies 

1940's: Labor problems and a vote to unionize caused the resignation of the last family member to run the business, E. Kent Swift. The family sells Whitin Machine Works and their properties in the village.

1966: Whitin Machine Works sold to White Consolidated Industries


National Park Service. Whitinsville Self-Guided Tour. Available online:

      A great introduction to this Blackstone Valley company town; includes maps, photographs, a hisory of the town, the Whitin Family and Whitin Machine Works.

Navin, Thomas R. (1950). The Whitin Machine Company since 1831: A Textile Machine Company in an Industrial Village. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Swift, Katharine Whitin (compiler) (1955). The Whitin Family: Historical Notes. Whitinsville, MA: Elijah Kent Swift.

Transactions of the Worcester County Agricultural Society (1819-1853). Worcester, The Society.

Transactions of the Worcester County Horticultural Society.  Worcester:  The Society, 1840-2006. (October 6, 2015)

Whitin, Cora Berry (1929). Ancestors and Kindred: A Family Sketch.  n.l.: Privately printed.

The Whitin Spindle (1919-1965)Whitinsville, MA: Whitin Machine Works.

     An employee newsletter for Whitin Machine Works with some Whitin family, company and community history and photographs. Available online:


We are very fortunate to have met Carol Brouwer of the Northbridge Historical Society as we couldn't have found a more knowledgeable source for information about the Whitin family, businesses, town and legacy. Carol introduced us to a wide range of resources and shared many of the images and information contained on these pages.

This guide provided by CBHL