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Tanning & Currying

Col. Nymphas Pratt, whose father, Capt. Seth Pratt, was the founder of the tanning and currying business in Shrewsbury, was born April 5, 1786, in the old house owned by Henry Harlow, standing near the brick house in which he lives. The tannery was on the south side of the road opposite the houses, and was sold in 1796 with the old house then comparatively new, and about twenty-two acres of land, by Capt. Pratt to the writer's grandfather, Thomas Harlow, who came from Duxbury, when he was twenty-one years old, to buy it, and paid $1000 for it.

Here was the place where, and Seth Pratt was the man by whom the tanning business was begun in Shrewsbury. After sale of his tannery he moved to Barre, dammed the Ware River, built woolen-mills and founded the village of Barre Plains. Deacon Thomas Harlow, who was a farmer as well as tanner, carried on the tannery for nearly fifty years in connection with his farm, which he bought piece by piece of his neighbors.

Col. Pratt, Capt. Seth's son (military titles both derived from militia commissions), about the year 1810 built a new tannery in the Lower Village in Shrewsbury, where the business or the currying branch of it has been continued to the present day. Here Col. Pratt did the business, both tanning and currying, till from a small beginning it grew into a very large and prosperous one, and the owner of it became a man of great influence and was accounted to possess immense wealth. People said he was worth one hundred thousand dollars, which sounded bigger than a million does now.


D. Hamilton Hurd, History of Worcester County Massachusetts with Historical Sketches of many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men (Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1889), vol. I, pp. 780-810.

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