HISTORY OF OLIN SCOTT
Scott, Olin (Colonel) as found in HISTORY OF BENNINGTON COUNTY, VT
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHESOF SOME OF ITS PROMINENT MEN AND PIONEERS.
EDITED BY LEWIS CASS ALDRICH 1889
SCOTT, COLONEL OLIN. This well-known and enegetic business man of the village of Bennington is a life long resident of the town, and was born on the 27th day of February, in the year 1832. He is therefore in the fifty eighth year of his life, although he might well be taken for a man at least ten years younger, and that notwithstanding the fact that Colonel Scott’s life has been one of hard and incessant labor since he was about ten years of age. His work, too, has been of such a character as would ordinarily break the constitution of an average person; but he, happily, has been an exception to the general rule, and the strength of mind and body are apparently as vigorous as can be found in the great majority of men with a score less years upon them. The parents of Olin Scott were Martin B. and Mary A. (Olin) Scott, of whose children our subject was the eldest save one. The father was a carpenter and joiner by trade, and lived, when Olin was born, in Bennington, about a mile due north from the Putnam House corner, on a direct continuation of North street past the Soldiers’ Home. In the spring of 1841 the family moved to Shaftsbury, Vt., and in 1843 removed to the village of North Bennington, Vt., where the family have since remained. Up to the time that Olin reached his eleventh year he attended the district school of the town, but on attaining that age his father obtained for him a situation in a store at Troy, N. Y., where he remained about one and a half years. He then returned home and resumed his books during one winter, but went the next spring to Albany, and took a position as cashier and collector’s assistant in a dry goods establishment in that city, remaining there several months, and then came back to North Bennington and school. In the spring of 1846 the young man came to Bennington village (that now known as such), where he worked for his board, with the privilege of attending school at the old Union Academy; but during the spring of 1848 he became an apprentice to learn the trade of a millwright, working with his mother’s brother, Truman Olin, and was so employed during the next three years, and at the end of that period he had so thoroughly mastered the trade in all its departments that he was frequently sent out with gangs of men under his charge to do millwright work in various places. But during these years, as well as those that followed, it was an absolute rule with young Scott to spend at least an hour each day in the study of mathematical and mechanical books; and after his term of apprenticeship had passed he attended the North Bennington Academy and studied mathematics and surveying, the knowledge of which served him an exceedingly good turn in after years. It may be stated further, parenthetically, perhaps, that until within a very few years Colonel Scott has devoted much of his leisure time to the study of mechanical engineering, drafting and kindred pursuits, which might be of assistance to him in business life; and while so doing other studies have not been wholly neglected, as he has a fair knowledge of law, and besides these he is an exceptionally well informed man, and an agreeable, clear, and forcible conversationalist on all the leading events of our civil and political history. From the time of completing his apprenticeship until the year of 1855 young Scott worked for himself, jobbing in various localities and States, some in New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts, but mainly in Vermont; but during the year last named or early in the next year he became connected with the old firm of Grover & Harrington, of Bennington in the capacity of foreman of their mill machinery department. With this concern he was employed until their suspension in December, 1857, after which he became for a time interested in a mill property in Shaftsbury, which he sold in the spring of 1858. In May, 1858, Mr. Scott became a partner of Major S. H. Brown in the Bennington Iron Foundry and Machine Shops and engaged in the business of building general and papermill and powder machinery, at the Bennington Iron Works on North street in Bennington, which copartnership continued for a period of five years. At the beginning of the war of the rebellion Colonel Scott was prompt to begin the work of raising men to support the government, and largely assisted in raising the first company of three years’ volunteers put in the field by the State of Vermont—Company A of the Second regiment (the first regiment being a regiment of militia who went out as three months’ men). He drilled with the company two weeks, when he was called to the work of reconstructing the powder mills of the country to make the powder needed for the extensive military operations then in progress. Not being able to go into the field in person during the war, he hired a man to go in his stead as a volunteer, but without procuring exemption for himself. At that time Colonel Scott was the only mechanical engineer in the United States who was an expert in the construction of powder-mills, and also in the manufacture of gunpowder, he having already made that business a specialty. A large part of the powder machinery built during the war of the rebellion was built by him. During the war Colonel Scott continued building powder mill machinery, and the urgent needs of the country for machinery, such as the firm put up, gave them an abundance of busluess and necessitated an enlargement of their works. In 1863 Colonel Scott became sole proprietor of the works and so remained until 1864., when he and H. W. Putnam purchased the Grover & Harrington property and made a division of the same, Mr. Putnam taking the realty and Colonel Scott the machinery and patterns, the latter being soon afterward removed to the location on Pleasant street where the colonel’s extensive works are now operated. In 1865 the large brickbuilding was erected, but the works were not in full operation until the year 1866, up to which time he continued to operate the works on North street. His chief manufacture at that time and in fact up to within the last two years was the production of powder-mill machinery, but incidental thereto he has always carried on the business of general jobbing and machine work together with the building of paper and marble-mill machinery at the same time. In his special industry of so many years continuance – that of building powder-mill machinery – Colonel Scott has done a large business, and it is a fact that during the period above stated he has built such to the extent and value of more than two millions of dollars; and his product has gone into all the principal powdermills of this country and many in Europe. One great advantage of his over other powder-mill inventions lies in the fact that by their use the risk and danger to life are very much lessened. So much, indeed, were his inventions and improvements superior to others in use, and his mechanical genius estimated over that of other like engineers, that he was in 1869 chosen as superintendent of the Lake Superior Powder Company – a newly organized corporatien in which he was a stockholder, and stayed during the greater part of that year on the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, the location of the company’s works, which were built by him. Again during the years 1873 and 1874 he was engaged by the Laflin-Rand Powder Company in the capacity of mechanical engineer, and as such had headquarters in New York City during his term of engagement. In 1882 Colonel Scott assisted in organizing the Ohio Powder Company of Youngstown, 0., and built that company’s works, and for three years was a director and vice-president. In 1884 he organized the Pennsylvania Powder Company (Limited) at Scranton, Pa., and two years later he became the owner of the entire enterprise, which he sold in March, 1887. On the first of April following Colonel Scott made a contract with the firm of E. I. Dupont de Nemours & Company, of Wilmington, Del., and the Laflin-Rand Powder Company, of New York, by the terms of which Colonel Scott was engaged by each of them for a term of ten years in the capacity of consulting engineer and superintendent. In July, 1887, Colonel Scott formed a partnership with C. W. Roberts, for the manufacture of wood pulp machinery. This firm was organized into a stock company during the summer of 1888, and Colonel Scott was made its president, an office which he still holds. Such is a résumé of the events of the early and business life of Olin Scott, and from it the reader will discover no period of idleness or inactivity, and anyone that thoroughly knows Colonel Scott also knows that his characteristics are those of a persistent enterprising business man. But, however busied be may have been with his multitude of business affairs, Colonel Scott has lacked nothing of public-spiritedness or progressiveness in matters pertaining-to the welfare of his town and village, and every measure looking to that end has found in him an earnest advocate and generous contributor. Political aspirations he has none, still he has been called into some of the offices of the town and village because he could not well avoid it. At one time he served in the capacity of auditor for the village, town, school district, and savings bank, the first of which offices he held for ten successive years. His connection with the Bennington Savings Bank covers the entire period of that institution’s existence, having been for many years a trustee. He was one of the earnest advocates of the graded school enterprise, and when that consummation was attained he generously donated an elegant and costly piano for the use of the school. He was also prominently connected with the committee chosen for the Centennial Celebration in 1877 and the subsequent Battle Monument Association, being nowthe secretary and first auditor as well as one of the present directors. Colonel Scott was brought up in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and for many years was one of the strongest supporting members of that society, but in 1875 he withdrew and has since become a member of the Congregational Church of Bennington, of which society he has for many years been a trustee. Olin Scott has no children to enjoy the prosperity he has earned and so richly deserved. He was married on the 30th day of October. 1856 to Celeste E., the daughter of Deacon Samuel Gilbert, of Salem, N. Y. Of that marriage three children were born, two daughters and one son, but none of them are now living. This great loss fell heavily upon our subject, and may with much truth be said to have been the only burden that ever bore him down. In the foregoing sketch the writer has designated the subject by the title by which he is generally addressed — ” Colonel” This came to him by virtue of his position on the staff of Governor Farnham, to which he was appointed during the incumbency of that official. For five years Colonel Scott served as captain of Company K, First Regiment V. S. G., and was appointed to Governor Farnham’s staff in 1880.