Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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NESMITH, John, manufacturer, born in Londonderry, New Hampshire, 3 August, 1793; died in Lowell, Massachusetts, 15 October, 1869. After serving an apprenticeship in a country store he entered into business with his brother Thomas, and, removing to New York, became a successful merchant. In 1831 he settled in Lowell, Massachusetts, and invested largely in real estate, purchasing the Gedney estate in Belvidere with its large mansion, the Old Yellow House, which was erected in 1750, and is still in possession of his family. He then laid out several streets, giving his name to one of them, and his purchase, being made soon after the formation of the Merrimac manufacturing company, secured him much wealth. He was a large owner in the Merrimac woollen-mills company, and made a large sum by obtaining the supply of water in Winnipiseogee and Squam lakes as reservoirs for the Lowell mills in dry seasons. He secured the site for the city of Lawrence, and also the control of water-power there. Mr. Nesmith invented a machine for making wire-fences, and another for making shawl-fringe. He held various political offices in Lowell, and contributed largely to the pecuniary support of the anti-slavery movement. He served as an elector on the Lincoln tickets of 1860 and 1864, was lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts in 1862, declined a re-election in 1863, and was appointed collector of internal revenue for his district in 1863, holding this office until a few days before his death. He provided in his will for the foundation of a "Nesmith Fund" for the support, education, and maintenance of the indigent blind of New Hampshire, and also bequeathed money for a public park in Franklin, New Hampshire
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