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George Bird: The Industrialist and his Legacy

“George Bird was a man of uncommon strength of character, like his wife deeply religious, fearless of public opinion whatever public opinion crossed his idea of duty, which he was determined to fulfill at any cost. At the same time he was gentle by nature and remarkable for his good humor. He was warmly beloved by his eight children and was universally respected by all who knew him.”

George Bird. oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Walpole Historical Society.

George Bird’s story is a true rags to riches story. Born in coastal Maine he was raised by his grandparents after the death of his parents. His grandparents envisioned a different life for George then perhaps he wanted for himself. His grandfather and his brothers were mariners, which was most likely the career George would have followed had he remained in Maine. George came to Massachusetts sometime in the early 1790s. Here he learned the papermaking business and by the close of the decade, he co-owned and operated a papermaking mill.

Bird & Son sign (Courtesy of the Walpole Historical Society)

In 1818 George Bird opened his new paper manufacturing company along the banks of the Neponset River on the South Dedham/East Walpole border, where it became a huge part of the community for over 200 years. Not only did the Bird family supply jobs for so many people in Walpole and South Dedham (now Norwood), but he also contributed to the growth and development of these two towns.

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