Saturday, July 25, 2015

From the Archives: Juniata Hosiery Mill

The Nestler family opened the Juniata Hosiery Mill in 1913. Located in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania between North First and North Fourth Street along the Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery, the mill made women’s silk hosiery. Nine years later read more
it reported use of 51 knitting, ten sewing, three looping, and one finishing machine. The mill ran day and night, employing 75 people. W.I. Nestler was listed as the proprietor. Karl Otto Nestler with his two sons, E. Max and Richard J., ran the mill.

Operating until a fire destroyed the factory in 1928, the employment list grew to 175 people in peak years. Unmarried female employees who lived out of town stayed at a company owned boardinghouse holding 40-50 people. Many local people also worked there. According to an existing ledger, a local woman named Anna Belle Ritzman worked for two weeks and earned $28.98 minus the $2 she spent on hose. John Shirk made $67.25 in that time. Another woman, Pauline Bright, worked as secretary at some point during the years the mill operated. The list of employees also included Mary Lauver, Anna Hack, Rebecca Partner, Pearl Kennedy, Viola Quay, Dorothy Robinson, Edna Nipple, Mary Sweitzer, Emma Zimmerman, and many others.  

In 1918, during what may have been the worldwide Spanish flu epidemic, the company loaned an automobile and paid a driver for Dr. D. M. Crawford to tend to the sick. A descendent of the family set up the Richard J. and Lela A. Nestler College Scholarship Fund Trust. Every year the net income from this trust fund is given to two students from Juniata County for help with their college tuition.

Only residential houses exist now at the location of the Juniata Hosiery Mill.  

Side notes:

1. Prior to the Juniata Hosiery Mill, a knitting mill operated on Fourth Street beginning in 1901 to at least 1904 under the names Karl & Schott and later Karl & Etchells. 

2. In 1922, almost 400 hosiery and knit good mills operated in Pennsylvania. Many existed in Philadelphia and Reading. In the Central Pennsylvania area, each of these places had either a hosiery or knit mill: Harrisburg, York, Dillsburg, Mechanicsburg, New Cumberland, Lemoyne, New Bloomfield, Newport, Lewistown, Milroy, Lewisburg, Danville, Herndon, Dalmata, and Mifflintown. The Internet now contains only one listing for hosiery mills in Pennsylvania, Top Circle Hosiery in Lehighton. See these Hosiery Mill pictures

Thanks to Audrey Sizelove for her help at the Juniata County Historical Society Archives.
Juniata Tribune April 18, 1901
Juniata Tribune Oct. 24, 1918
Juniata Tribune Dec. 11, 1919
Juniata Tribune June 21, 1928
Juniata Hosiery Ledger 1928
Juniata Sentinel Jan. 5, 1972

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