“Life, like leather, can be stiff and unyielding, then turn supple and soft, can be shaped and trimmed only with skill and patience, and only then result in a finished work of high quality to be proud of, and beauty to be admired.”  - Cornelius Collins, 'Of Leather and Stone'

Milford Mass

Milford Town

The years 1850 to 1914 were a golden era in the industrial New England town of Milford, Massachusetts. At its height, Milford was ‘Boot maker to America’ employing thousands of ‘cordwainers’ producing 1,000,000 pairs of boots and shoes annually, and the source of the world famous ‘Milford Pink Granite’ adorning some of the most iconic buildings of the time including; the Boston Public Library, New York’s Grand Central Station, and the President McKinley Mausoleum in Canton, Ohio.

This is the American origin story of two very different families whose lives and destinies would be forever changed by Milford town. One is the family of an illiterate refugee fleeing Ireland’s Great Famine on a ‘coffin ship’ to America with no prospects awaiting him. 

The other, the family of a skilled stone artisan ‘tagliapietre’ from the northern Italian region of Lombardia, sought the world over for their craftsmanship.

It was a time of great technological change never before witnessed in such a short span of history, and perhaps more life changing to the generation of the time than the impact of space travel and the world wide web on its generation.

Factories now produced goods of every kind forever replacing the handmade work of artisans in their workshops. Gas and electric lighting illuminated city streets and towns replacing centuries of burning oil and candles, and the eventual demise of the whaling oil industry.

Self-propelled vehicles linked cities, towns and the nation carrying people and goods in every direction spanning great distances in a matter of hours instead of days, weeks and months by horse and wagon. 

Trains and automobiles replaced the horse and carriage for land travel, the steam powered ship replaced the wind powered sailing vessel, and the airplane replaced the windblown air balloon.

The telegraph and telephone linked everyone, everywhere sending news and information in real time, all but replacing the mail carrier packet ship and overland mail stagecoach. 

The phonograph, photographic camera, and motion picture camera captured human voices and images for the first time in human history, preserving a true record of the lives of individuals and civilizations for generations yet born.

It is the birth of a gritty and gripping American family saga spanning nineteenth and twentieth century life from the mountains of northern Italy to the famine stricken Irish countryside, to Boston, ‘Hub of the Universe’ and on to the prosperous industrial town of Milford, Massachusetts, where technology is changing everything, and where fortunes and generations are being made “Of Leather and Stone.”

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