Alfred Pilkington Critchlow

Alfred Pilkington Critchlow

Death 24 Mar 1881 (aged 67)
Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Florence, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 38431346 · View Source
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Alfred's father was a silk stocking weaver; he lost his mother at age 9. At age 14, he started a 7 year apprenticeship as a die seeker. He went into the horn button business in Birmingham, England where he met Josiah Hayden, who convinced him to move to Haydenville, MA to start a horn button business. On 7 Dec 1843, Alfred (occupation mechanic), Margaret, Maria (age 7 yrs), & Mary (age 4 mos) arrived in NYC on the Ashburton out of Liverpool.
After several years, he moved to Florence, MA and started his own wooden (wild laurel) button manufacture. He invented "Florence compound", an early form of plastic made from shellac, wood fiber & lampblack. It was molded & dyed into buttons, hairbrush handles & daguerreotype cases. In 1857, he sold this business, but he couldn't stay retired and in 1858 bought an old woolen mill in Leeds, MA where he manufactured the first vegetable ivory buttons in the U.S. His mills were destroyed in the 1874 Mill River dam break, but he invested in replacing George Warner's (his son-in-law) mill and remained active in it until his death.
Alfred was active in the Florence and Leeds underground railroad. He was a charter member of the Free Congregational Society of Florence.
He owned a large tract from Park Street to the river in Florence and several large tracts in Leeds. The Leeds Elementary School stands about where his house was located.
He was an original investor and on the board of directors of the Williamsburg Reservoir Company, whose dam on the East branch of the Mill River burst in 1874.
After his death, his wife, Margaret Sarah, moved to Denver to live with their daughter and son-in-law, Mary & George P Warner. Their daughter, Maria, married Guy Naramore and in 1895 was living in Perth Amboy, NJ. His son, Alfred, was born & died in Massachusetts.
Information from History of Florence, editor Charles Sheffeld, 1895; In the Shadow of the Dam, Elizabeth Sharpe, 2004; US Federal Census 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880; NY Passenger Lists, Mass Vital Records

Family Members



Alfred P/Critchlow/Born Dec 26 1813/in Nottingham England/Died/Mar 24 1881/at Leeds, Mass

Gravesite Details This marker is suffering from serious structural failure. The bottom is bowing out; the middle is sinking in; there are cracks throughout the monument
  • Created by: P.K. Magruder
  • Added: 16 Jun 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 38431346
  • P.K. Magruder
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Alfred Pilkington Critchlow (26 Dec 1813–24 Mar 1881), Find a Grave Memorial no. 38431346, citing Park Street Cemetery, Florence, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by P.K. Magruder (contributor 47017377) .