About A.W. Stearns


Artemas W. Stearns was born March 11, 1816 in Hill, NH. At age 11, he was “bound” to a Bridgewater, NH farmer. For his services, he would receive clothing and board and $100 at age 21. At 16, he bought himself out of the contract. He then went on to work in mills in Nashua, Lowell, and Methuen. He acquired some education at Newmarket, NH Academy and Nashua Academy. He taught school in the winter and worked as a peddler in the summer.

He settled down as an entrepreneur in 1844 in Methuen, shortly thereafter opening a branch store in Lawrence on Amesbury Street. His business (dry goods) prospered and he opened stores on Essex Street in Lawrence.

In 1854, larger quarters were needed at a different location on Essex Street, and additions and improvements were made in 1870 and 1888. In 1893, a new store was added on Common Street, connected to the Essex Street establishment by a bridge and a tunnel over and under the alley.

At one time, Mr. Stearns’ had the largest dry goods store in Essex County, employing 75 people.  He also had a farm of 60 acre on Lawrence Street. In 1854, along with two partners, he established the Wright Manufacturing Company with specialized in the manufacture of cotton and mohair braids.  Production included braids used in the creation of military uniforms, awnings, shoe laces, cloth binding and in the shoe trade.  The company made a patented braided article used in the manufacture of button shoes that was sold to 95% of shoe factories in the country.

Besides dry goods and manufacturing, he was also president of the Lawrence National Bank and for one year (1861) he served on the Board of Aldermen. He was a member of Trinity Congregational Church. He married Lydia Searles of Nashua. They had no children. He died in April 1896.

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Investing in Lawrence MA



Stearns Trust
c/o Marsha E. Rich.
9 Bartlet St., Suite 343
Andover, MA 01810
United States