"At 17 young Estey went to Worcester and learned of Thomas Sutton what would now be called the plumber's trade. At that time this consisted of the making and putting in of lead pipe and copper pumps. By the primitive methods of those days lead pipe was made by pouring the melted lead into a mould and then drawing it out to any desired size over a steel rod. Three years later, on Dec. 31st, 1834, when Jacob was 20, his father died and he came up to Hinsdale to the funeral. From thence he came over to Brattleboro and naturally sought out Stephen Parker who had a lead pipe and pump shop here. Parker said he was tired of the business: he would sell it for half what it was worth, and named $200 as his price. Young Estey then had just this sum due him at Worcester, and taking a refusal of the business for six weeks at that price, went back to Worcester to consult with his employer. Mr. Sutton told him the chance was a good one and offered to help him with letters of credit to Boston and New York partners. When the young man got back to Brattleboro, however, Mr. Parker backed out of his trade, but said he would sell his business if he could sell his house also. The price on the whole he fixed at $1275. This looked a large sum to the young plumber, but his judgment told him there was money in the trade, and at Parker's suggestion the two went into Keyes & Bradley's office and had a contract for the sale drawn up. Both parties signed it, with the forfeit fixed at $500. The deed once done, young Jacob's soul was filled with a deadly fear lest he had assumed an obligation which he could never fulfil, and he went to Hinsdale to consult the friend of his boyhood, the late John Stearns, who was 12 years his senior. Uncle John told him that he had probably got cheated, "but if you have not," he said, "I'll help you out." On the following Monday morning, a day in February, 1835, Mr. Stearns and Oliver Adams came over with their young friend, to investigate. By that time Mr. Parker had sickened of his second trade and wanted to back out of it by paying $350, whereupon Mr. Stearns bluntly told him that he would either deed over the property or pay the full $500. The upshot of it all was that the parties went to Stephen Greenleaf, the town clerk, who lived on what is now the Thurber place beyond West Brattleboro, and had the papers made out, and the money, furnished by Mr. Stearns and Mr. Adams, was paid down. Mr. Estey took possession April 1, 1835, a few months before he was 21, and thus became a resident of Brattleboro. The Parker house was a small cottage standing on the site of Mr. Estey's present residence. His shop was in what was then the old tannery building, known to this generation as the Valley mill building which fell a victim to the flames last December..."

 Vermont Phoenix, May 5, 1887.

The Estey Organ Company was founded in 1846.


Estey Fire Department

"The Estey Organ Company manufactured excellent reed organs for more than half a century
before engaging the Roosevelt-trained Philadelphia builder, William E. Haskell(1865-1927),
to open the pipe organ department in 1901.  During the next fifty-nine years, the company
built and rebuilt 3261 pipe organs, and with one exception, all of the Estey instruments
had tubular-pneumatic or electro-pneumatic action.  The large Estey factory continued to
build reed organs, and Estey also dealt in Rieger tracker organs in the 1950's.

"During the first decades of the century, the Estey catalogs described standard designs,
the stoplists having no upperwork but that Haskell specialty, a labial reed stop.  The stop actions
included such oddities as the "stop key" and "luminous" types, and while the organs were
built of excellent materials, they were often so compact that maintenance was expensive
and nearly impossible to perform.  Estey concentrated on stock model two-manual
instruments and regarded any deviation in size and specification as a "Special" job.
Most of the older organs were sold through agents and Estey stores, and a company policy
forbid any dealing in old organs replaced by Esteys. Many organs shipped to the stores or music
dealers were not immediately set up in a permanent location, and some with "Store" on the
list remained unsold for years.  Player organs (called "Automatics" were popular until the
1930's and for a few years around 1930, "Minuette" models that vaguely resembled grand
and upright pianos were build on the unit system.

"Many older Americans still have a great respect for Estey tone, and the firm's name was
indeed a household word throughout the world."

-The Boston Organ Club Newsletter, December 1973


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