The Frederick Jones Shoe Factory of Plymouth, Massachusetts, shown in this 1850s engraving, was, by 1860, one of 1,354 shoe manufactories in Massachusetts. Across New England, the shoe industry employed more than 62,000 people that year. (note Forefathers Monument top center)
Fredrick Jones of Athol, Massachusetts began his career tanning leather. He would exchange leather for shoes with the country shoemakers and with the farmers who would make shoes during the off season winter months.
In 1831 Frederick Jones added to his business of tanning that of manufacturing heavy shoes and brogans. Four years afterwards the production was changed from shoes to boots, and the business finally became one of the important industries of the town of Athol, MA. The tannery and the boot factory were operated by Mr. Jones and his partners until about 1872.
In 1832 he again enlarged his operations and took his first lot of shoes to New York for sale; transporting them by horse and wagon over the road to Hartford, CT, and then carrying them by steamer, arriving in New York City the day the cholera epidemic was announced. The city was in extreme panic, streets were deserted, stores closed and business was not to be thought of. The sale of shoes was out of the question, and Mr. Jones left those he had brought with Tileston, Hazeltine & Co., who were, at that time, large commission dealers.
In 1833 he enlarged his business operations further by starting a business in Boston as a dealer in boots, shoes and leather, being associated then with his cousin, Nahum Jones, under the company of F. & N. Jones. He continued to reside in Athol, and personally conducted the operations at the tannery and the boot factory until 1838, when he moved his residence permanently to Boston.
The firm of F. & N. Jones was dissolved in 1847, Frederick Jones continued alone until 1853, when Francis F. Emery became associated with him as a partner, and the firm being Frederick Jones & Co., which firm continued until 1882, when Mr. Jones retired permanently, and the business was continued by Mr. Emery. The firm of Frederick Jones & Co. manufactured and sold all kinds of heavy boots and shoes, for men's, boys' and youths', women's, misses' and children's wear ; selling only to the wholesale and jobbing trade. The business of the firm approached the largest in the trade, their product aggregating from 500,000 to 1,000,000 pairs per year, and the employees numbering from 500 to 1,000. They had factories at Ashland, Milford, Athol, South Braintree, Brockton and Plymouth, Mass., and at Dover, Farmington and Alton, N. H. During the Civil War, this firm manufactured largely sewed and pegged boots and shoes for the army, making in three years nearly a million pairs of footwear.
The location of the factory in Plymouth, MA can best be determined from a 1881 Guide to Old Plymouth published by Avery & Doten and printed by Old Colony Memorial Press.
"Emerging from the railroad station, we take our way through the little park of the railroad company. On our right is a large wooden building, four stories in height, one hundred and fifty feet long and thirty-five feet wide, with an L of nearly equal proportions. This is the boot and shoe factory of Messrs. Frederick Jones & Company. The land was given by the railroad corporation, and the building erected by a subscription of citizens of the town in 1873, and made a free gift to the firm, in order to establish the business here. At the end of the park we come to Court Street, the county road from Kingston. Opposite, in its nice grounds, is the Samoset House."