The Directory of American Toolmakers (DATM) has two listings for the Eagle Square Co.: Eagle Square Co., South Shaftsbury, VT, 1859 - 1874. "This is a consolidation of the former steel square making activities of Dennis George, Jeremiah Essex, Heman Whipple, Lewis Beach, and the Hawks, Loomis & Co. Other square makers Stephen A. Whipple, Milo Pierce, and Norman A Douglass were also incorporators of the company, but were not listed as contributors to its initial inventory. It also used equipment and machinery formerly used by R.W. Bangs. In 1874 its name was changed to Eagle Square Mfg. Co." (DATM, 1999, pg. 247). The Eagle Square Mfg. Co. continued in business at least until 1881.
As noted in DATM (pg. 365) Eagle Squares can be traced back to the 1817 patent of Silas Hawes who was the first of many square makers working in the Shaftsbury and South Shaftsbury area; DATM indicates Silas Hawes made squares in Shaftsbury, VT, 1814 - 1828, but that several other local makers also marked their squares "HAWES PAT". These were predecessors to the famous Eagle Square Co. organized in 1859. Along with the square makers noted above, DATM also notes May and Blackmer as a square maker working before the formation of Eagle Square. DATM (1999) also lists Jeremiah Essex as making squares in Bennington, Vermont, 1830 - 1859 before merging with the Eagle Square Co. in 1859. Of particular note is that the square makers who followed Silas Hawes often only marked their squares with either "HAWES PAT" or "S. HAWS PATENT WARRANTED STEEL". An example of the latter is in the Davistown Museum collection ID#: 121906T1. Also in the Davistown Museum collection is a second framing square ID#: 040103T9 marked "HAWES patent 1825" and ID#: 63001T3, a "J. Essex CAST STEEL WARRANTED No. 1". A curious aspect of the square manufacturing activities of makers preceding the organization of the Eagle Square Co. is the relatively common appearance of S. HAWS as the makers mark, rather than the also common HAWES PATENT. Why many of the early Vermont makers changed their mark is unknown.
Also of interest is the change in the metallurgical composition of the squares; both examples of the museum's early Hawes squares are made of malleable iron; the later Essex square is clearly stamped CAST STEEL. An ongoing project for the Davistown Museum will be to examine incoming examples marked Eagle Square (many have been sold by Liberty Tool Co. in the last 30 years) to see if they also are marked cast steel. More information about any Eagle Squares with the mark cast steel would be appreciated.
The Shaftsbury, VT, square making community is also important for the foundations laid for future measuring tool manufacturing activities. Major changes were occurring in the way tools were manufactured during the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s. The following pictures are of a Millington & George, 1853, patent model for a dividing machine currently owned by Rick Floyd. Its dimensions are roughly 8 1/2" X 5" X 6 1/2" tall. This patent model represents a landmark in the evolution of the Industrial Revolution as its use in the marking of framing squares meant that all the marks on a square previously hand stamped could be done by this machine in one step. This patent model dates from the same period of time -- the 1850s -- as the invention of the micrometer, the milling machine, the Robbins and Lawrence Armory's first production of interchangable rifle components, and signals the advent of factory production of framing squares. For a more detailed and very interesting description of Silas Hawes tedious hand stamping of squares in the earlier years of the 19th century, please go to the University of Vermont link below and see their historical notes.
The wooden model illustrated below was reproduced in a much larger size,
presumably in cast iron, to become one of the earliest dividing machines
to facilitate rapid, accurate production of measuring tools. Information
on other dividing machines utilized by other toolmakers during the 19th
century would be greatly welcomed by The Davistown Museum.
Eagle Square Manufacturing Company Records, 1847-1962, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library.
Shaftsbury Township Information.
More Shaftsbury history information.
http://cdi.uvm.edu/findingaids/collection/eaglesquare.ead.xml -- 1847-1962, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library.
http://www.shaftsbury.net/images/eagle_square.htm -- Photo of the plant
Silas Hawes - Early Squaremaker, an article by Suzanne Bacheller