Upper Church Mill. William Church was one of the five Church brothers who had textile mills on Factory Brook in Middlefield, where they manufactured broadcloth for men’s suits and satinet for linings. The business was started by Ambrose Church in 1808.

In 1823 Ambrose Church built and equipped for Uriah Church, Jr. his cousin, and father of the five Church brothers, what was known as the Upper Mill. The business suffered some setbacks at first, but during the 1830’s there came a boom in the woolen business, aided in part by higher tariffs, and the local demand for high grade wool so stimulated wool raising among the local, farmers, that in 1836 there were in the little town of Middlefield 9678 sheep.

At one time the firm was known as U. Church and Sons, but the death of Uriah Church, Jr., the firm name was changed to S.U. Church and Brothers. Their product was known in the markets of Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, and Baltimore, as Mountain Mills Gold Band Cloth, and on account of its soft finish and brilliant luster, sold for twenty five cents more a yard than any brand of its kind. It was made in colors, but black was generally used for men’s clothing.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, they lost their southern markets, and the manufacture of broadcloth dropped to a low ebb. However,, there was a great demand for army supplies, and in a short time the Church Mills were working around the clock, making army blankets and woolen cloth for uniforms for the Union soldiers. The business was abandoned in 1890 after 82 years of manufacturing the fine products that helped so much in making Middlefield famous.

Middlefield Factory Village is tucked away in the valley of Factory Brook, coming down from the town center on Town Hill Road it has glorious views of the Hills as you descend into once the busiest most populated factory industry settlement making wool and the satinet to clothe fine gentlemen and military men. With the assistance of Doug Lyman lidar mapping genius, we set out to uncover all that the floods and forest have taken back. Contributed photos courtesy of DCR, History of Middlefield, Sternagle, mapping Doug Lyman. https://middlefieldma.net/

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