Learn more about the invention of the power looms and the growth of industrial textile production in early Baltimore.
On February 4, 1814, John George Jackson arrived in Baltimore at the factory of Alexander McKim. A prominent Virginia politician, lawyer and land-owner, Jackson had recently started to develop a substantial industrial community near his home in Clarksburg, Virginia. As a keen observer of the growth and development of Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Jackson knew he could find support for his new venture in the city. At McKim’s factory, he hired skilled workers, including millwrights and blacksmiths, a joiner, saddler and other artisans. He also purchased heavy machinery for his new mill, iron furnace and tannery.
Business from men like Jackson helped Baltimore’s industrial economy expand in the early 1800s. In 1814, Robert and Alexander McKim built a new iron-works, one of the first factories in the city driven by steam power, on French Street in Old Town. Just a few days after his arrival in Baltimore, Jackson received authorization from the Virginia state legislature to convert a former grist mill on Elk Creek into a cotton and woolen mill. Virginia also granted Jackson’s request to lay out a town for his workers known as “Mile’s End” near Clarksburg. In a letter to his wife Mary Sophia Meigs, Jackson anticipated the new factory and saltworks to bring, “a pretty smart revenue to me, or it would be idle to go on the way I do.”
Source: Voice of the New West: John G. Jackson, His Life and Times, Stephen W. Brown, p. 120.
On January 25, 1814, mechanic John Owings received two patents for the design of a new water mill and an impressed roller for the production of “knives, spoons, etc.” Born in Baltimore around 1780, Owings lived in the city’s Western Precincts at Paca and Franklin Streets. He later served as a Captain under Colonel Jessop in the 36th Regiment of the Maryland Militia.