PIRIE-L ArchivesArchiver > PIRIE > 2007-07 > 1185400641
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Subject: [PIRIE] James Kelman PIRIE (Scotland, Maine, Massachusetts,& Vermont)
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 21:57:21 -0000
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Surnames: PIRIE, LAMSON
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Hello: Below is an article about the settlement of the estate of James Kelman PIRIE, owner and operator of the Pirie Granite Quarry in Vermont. The book from which the story was published is cited below, but the attached photographs of Mr. Pirie; his sons, James G. Pirie and Fred F. Pirie, and the Pirie Granite Quarry (once known as the Wells Lamson Co. Granite Quarry) are from the booklet entitled, "Pirie's Select Barre Granite Quarries, Barre, Vermont" published by the Pirie Company after 1921.
"Story of The Pirie Quarry," in Monumental News: Granite, Marble, Stone, Bronze Sculpture, June, 1923, pp. 343.
"A final decree of settlement was made yesterday in the estate of the late James K. Pirie, prominent Barre quarry owner, by which the extensive quarry is decreed in trust to James G. Pirie and Fred F. Pirie during their lives, to be operated for the benefit of the widow and ten children of the deceased. This trust is created after the bestowal of several private bequests. The order was signed by Judge G. L. Stow of Orange county probate court.
"The decree brings out in some detail an interesting chapter in the history of Barre granite as given in the Barre Times - a chapter which tells of the energy and initiative of a poor boy applied in a field of activity where there was great promise and where those efforts were crowned with such a degree of success that an estate of considerable proportions was left. The amount of the property left in trust is not revealed but it is known that the estate was one of the largest to go through the probate court of the district recently.
"When 'Jim" Pirie came to Barre in 1880 from Aberdeen, Scotland, by way of Maine and Quincy, Mass., his worldly goods didn't total very much but he had plenty of enthusiasm and a good working knowledge of granite. He hammered away in Barre stonesheds for a year or so and then, allying himself with George Lamson, he began prospecting on the Barre hill where Midas dreams were to come true in later years.
"'Jim' and George went up on S. W. Flint's pasture, which was worthless as a farm proposition and so poor for pasturage that it couldn't even be fenced. Their eyes lighted on a boulder that looked promising. So they approached the owner with a view to purchase. They found that while the owner realized he had a worthless pasture he nevertheless wasn't going to let the land go for little or nothing what with the opening up of quarries in the region.
"So the granite prospectors were somewhat prepared when the owners (sic) asked them $1200 for his stony pasture of a dozen acres - and they readily snapped up the proposition. With eight acres added, Flint's pasture has been turning out splendid dark Barre granite by the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth in the forty years since a cow couldn't find a decent living on the property.
"Having gained title to the flint pasture, Messrs. Pirie and Lamson proceeded in 1882, to strip off what little soil there was and opened a quarry operating under the name of Wells Lamson Co. There they dug out some of the finest Barre granite, and the quarry has since been sending its product to all quarters of the continent. After the settlement of Mr. Lamson's estate in 1900* Mr. Pirie became the sole operator of the quarry and was at the time of his death in 1921, probably the largest sole operator on the Barre hill.
(* According to the booklet, "Pirie's Select Barre Granite Quarries, Barre, Vermont" published by the Pirie Company after 1921, George Lamson died in 1902.)
"For nearly forty years Mr. Pirie was engaged in quarrying operations there. He combined business integrity with a good product and he gained an excellent standing with the trade, so good a standing, in fact, that the company retains on its list of customers today some people who were customers thirty years ago. Thus it will be seen that, starting with the first big rush of the Barre granite industry, Mr. Pirie contributed very largely to the enormous development of the last four decades, maintaining the good will of the trade, of his business associates and of his employees. The Pirie quarry is by no means the largest in the Barre district, but it has always been a prominent factor in the business. It employs under normal times approximately fifty men.
"Several of Mr. Pirie's boys grew up with the business and two of them, James G. and Fred F., to whom the quarry is left in trust, have been closely associated in the conduct of the business of late. James G. Pirie, has indeed, been actively engaged in the management of the quarrying end of the business for ten years.
"In keeping with the development of the business, a town office of the concern was located in Barre City, being in the Quarry Bank building and being in charge of James G. Pirie, who, a year ago, took up his residence in Barre City and who has since become prominently identified with various affairs of the community. Fred F. Pirie will manage the quarry end of the business and will reside at the quarries where he at present resides. All the eleven heirs to the Pirie estate reside in this vicinity with the exception of one daughter, who is in the south.*
(* According to the booklet, "Pirie's Select Barre Granite Quarries, Barre, Vermont" published by the Pirie Company after 1921, there were seven girls and three boys in the family. It is also noted that "the other son has not been active in the business since his return from overseas, a number of grandsons of the founder and other family members of the founders' descendants are now actively engaged in the business of quarrying Pirie granite.")
"The J. K. Pirie estate on May 5 signed an agreement with the Quarry Workers' union similar to the agreements made by other quarry companies on the Barre hill which have settled with the union."
Peggy B. Perazzo
Stone Quarries and Beyond
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