Movers & Shakers of the Norwood Press

The Norwood Press was three separate companies, and each company had its own an owner/president. Each of these men, founded very successful companies came from humble beginnings, two even came from other countries. All entered into an apprenticeship in their teens, and learned to make books by hand. When their companies opened in the new Norwood facility, the books they made by the most modern bookmaking machinery available.

Josiah Stearns Cushing

(May 3, 1854 – November 13, 1913)

J. Stearns Cushing was born  in Bedford, MA. He was the son of Rev. William Cushing and Margaret Louisa Willey.  Cushing ended his formal education at the age of thirteen, but he loved to read, so he never stopped learning.  He began apprenticing in 1868, at age 14, at the University Press in Cambridge. At the age of 24, Cushing had saved $150, and he established his own typesetting company. Cushing believed he could greatly improve the printing of textbooks and decided to make this his specialty. His compositing company was very successful having to move six times to larger accommodations over the next ten years. Cushing was very civic minded; he served his adopted community of Norwood, as well as printing companies and the Republican Party. He was the president of the Norwood Business Association, and was the chairman of trustees of the Morrill Library. Cushing represented printing firms for nine years as the president of the Boston Typothetae. As a Republican, he served on the (Massachusetts) Governor’s Council  and attended The Republican Convention as a delegate. Is was said that, he was well respected and often sought out for his advice.

James Berwick

(February 18, 1840 – June 15, 1916)

James Berwick was born in Nova Scotia.  He was the son of James Berwick and Lucy Charlotte Anderson. Berwick grew up in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, where he attended local public schools. In 1854, at the age of 14, he came to Boston with his mother and his two sisters. His father, a sea captain, had been lost at sea two years earlier. Within a year, Berwick had landed an apprenticeship as a printer for the Cambridge Chronicle. He established the printing firm of  Berwick & Smith in 1884 with his friend George Harding Smith. The company grew quickly, and by 1889, they moved into a 10,000 square feet floor space. This large amount of space was needed for ten cylinder presses, three book presses, and several smaller presses. In 1894 he moved his operation again to the Norwood Press building on Washington Street in Norwood. Berwick was active in social and professional associations. He served as the president of the New England Printers Association, the president of the Boston Typothetae Board of Trade for nine years, president of the American Typothetae, and trustee of the Franklin Typographical Society. He bought the land and built the Norwood Press Club, a gathering and athletic club  on Chapel Street in Norwood. He was a Mason, and was chairman on the Norwood Electric Light Commission.

George Harding Smith

(February 15, 1859 – 1941)

George H. Smith was born in Milford, Massachusetts. He was the son of Jason Harding Smith and Elizabeth M. Heath. Smith’s mother died two weeks after he was born, and his father died when he was ten years old. Smith was raised by his paternal grandparents in Medfield. When he graduated from high school, he went to work for a furniture factory in Boston for six years, where he was a clerk and a bookkeeper. In 1883 Smith and his friend, James Berwick founded their printing business. Berwick was the printer and Smith the business manager. Their company grew quickly. They moved three times over the next ten years, the last place being in Norwood. Over the thirty years Smith lived in Norwood, he was involved in their civic affairs. He served as president of the Business Men’s Association, he was chairman of the school committee, and was on the committee that oversaw the construction of the Junior High School. In 1929 George and Laura returned to Medfield, living on East Main Street. In 1941, Smith died from injuries he sustained from being hit by a car.

Edwin Fleming

(August 19, 1821 – April 2, 1894 )

Edwin Fleming (from the collection of LL Kearney)

Edwin Fleming was the founder of E. Fleming & Co., the bookbinding division of the Norwood Press. Although he did not live to see the realization of this partnership, he certainly would have been involved with some of the decisions that brought his company to Norwood. Fleming was in Bristol, England. He was the third of eleven children born to William Fleming and Diana Norman. He learned bookbinding in Bristol. He came to Boston in 1844. By 1855 he had his own bookbinding company, Fleming & Haskell; eventually he bought out his partner and renamed the company E. Fleming & Co., the company grew steadily over the years and in 1889, he moved into the brand new Estes Block on Summer Street in Boston.  J. Stearns Cushing, James Berwick, and George Smith, with whom he would later form the Norwood Press, also had offices in in the new printing building. Fleming was an abolitionist and was friends with many Boston abolitionists such as Wendell Phillips; William Lloyd Garrison; Charles Sumner; Henry Wilson; and, as his obituary says, he “was a student and a disciple of Theodore Parker.” He was a member of the Unitarian Church, a Republican, and a member of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association.

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