Thomas Emerson

  • Thomas Emerson
  • Emerson, Thomas, 1785-1871
  • "Thomas Emerson was one of Wakefield's most respected citizens. Born in Reading (now Wakefield) on October 2, 1785, he was descended from a Puritan ancestry. Due to his family's limited means, he was not well educated, yet he rose above this obstacle and eventually became one of the most prominent members of the community. In 1810 he formed a successful partnership with Ebenezer Nelson for the manufacture of shoes. The partnership lasted a short time and eventually Mr. Emerson as sole owner increased the business until it was one of the most successful in the community. The factory was located on the present site of the Wakefield YMCA and produced men's shoes. Mr. Emerson was the first manufacturer in the town to inaugurate a system of cash payments to his workers in place of the previous barter system. He frequently purchased new machinery and introduced new methods for the profit of his workers. Mr. Emerson was kind and sympathetic to the poor and was a contributor to many philanthropic and missionary enterprises. In 1825 he sold his farm and surrounding buildings to the town for the sum of $3,275 to establish the Town Almshouse. He was instrumental in the formation of the South Reading Mechanical & Agricultural Institution in 1833 which was located at the corner of North Avenue and Albion Street and served as both Vice President and President. In 1844 he was elected President of the South Reading Bank, a position he held until his death. He was very well liked and was appointed to nearly every town office by his fellow citizens. He was also chosen to represent South Reading in the Legislature for eight years and served as Senator for two years. Mr. Emerson was an active member of the Congregational Church. Mr. Emerson died on November 29, 1871." -- Text from calendar by Jayne M. D'Onofrio.
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 1990
  • Photo courtesy of the Wakefield Historical Society.
  • [Wakefield, Mass.]: Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


Emerson, Thomas, 1785-1871, “Thomas Emerson,” NOBLE Digital Heritage, accessed September 27, 2020,


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