Frye's Measure Mill Founder

Daniel Cragin 1837-1922

Daniel Cragin

Daniel Cragin's Great-Grandfather, John Cragin, or Cragon (Chraggon) was Scot by birth. At the age of 16, he was forced to join the Scottish army supporting Charles II against Cromwell. At the battle of Dunbar in 1652, he was taken prisoner, sold into servitude, and as a penalty for his political offenses was sent to America in the ship "John and Sarah."

The local legend "says" that on the voyage, John Cragin was stricken with smallpox, and he was about to be thrown overboard but was spared by the intercession of a young English woman, Sarah Dawes, whom he afterward married. They settled in Woburn, Massachusetts, and later generations made thier way to southern New Hampshire.

In 1858, Daniel Cragin "attained his majority" (a colloquialism meaning he became twenty-one years of age) and rented a room in the Putnam Bobbin Factory. He began his "enterprising" by manufacturing knife trays and toys on a cash capital of ten dollars. Within two years, Cragin's company was profitable, and he purchased a small building on the site. In the autumn of 1878, Cragin began to manufacture dry measures which soon became the mainstay of his business.



Measures were made in five sizes, the smallest being one quart, then two quart, four quart, single peck, and one-half bushel. In 1885, Daniel Cragin sold full sets or "nests"; iron bound, varnished, plain, or unsealed (rough).

Farmers, fishermen, and storekeepers needed a standard unit of measure to conduct their business, trade, and barter. Mechanical scales were scarce, expensive, and not available for common use. By the 1800's, with a swelling population, a growing industrialization, and a prospering agriculture, a huge market existed for Cragin's dry measures. However, the commercial demand for dry measures diminished when the national standard of measurement switched over to weights.