Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Crocker, Alvah

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CROCKER, Alvah, capitalist, b. in Leominster, Mass., 14 Oct., 1801; d. in Fitchburg, 26 Dec., 1874. He obtained an academic education, entered a paper-mill at Franklin, N. H., in 1820, removed to Fitchburg, Mass., in 1823, and began to manufacture paper on his own account on borrowed capital. He struggled for many years with debts, but gradually extended his business, and in 1834 laid the foundation for a fortune by purchasing all the land in the Nashua valley, in order to build a new road. He was elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1835, where he advocated steam communication with Boston, returned to the legislature in 1842, and obtained a charter for a new railroad between northern Massachusetts and the seaboard, which was completed through his exertions in 1845. He afterward engaged in building the Vermont and Massachusetts, the Troy and Boston, and the Hoosac tunnel railroads, and in 1847-'8 lectured in behalf of the tunnel project. Near his paper-mills, which became the largest in the United States, he built machine-shops and foundries. He was the first to use cotton-waste in the manufacture of white paper, and palm-leaf fibre for coarse wall-paper. He was a member of the state senate for two terms during the civil war, on 2 Jan., 1872, was elected to congress as a republican to serve out the unexpired term of William B. Washburn, who had been made governor, and was re-elected for the following term, serving from 14 Feb., 1872, until his death.