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Salem Pioneer Cemetery ~ Thomas Lister Kay ~ part of the Marion County Pioneer Cemeteries of Oregon
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Thomas Lister Kay
BORN: 22 Jun 1837 DIED: 27 Apr 1900 BURIED: 29 Apr 1900
ETHNICITY:   OCCUPATION:  Woolen Mill Manufacturer
BIRTH PLACE:  Applebridge, Yorkshire, England
DEATH PLACE: Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
Rigdon - Thomas Kay, d. Apr. 27, 1900, age 64, burial in Rural cemetery, funeral ordered by C. P. Bishop. Woolen manufacturer, legislator, state treasurer.
IOOF - Thos. Kay, age 63, died cor. State & 12th of bladder trouble, "deceased was proprietor of the woolen mills".
1880 OR CENSUS - Thomas Kay, age 41, b. England, occupation superintendant of woolen mills, enumerated with wife Ann, age 42, b. England, along with children Thomas B., age 16, Libbie, age 14, Sarah, age 13 [all three work in woolen mill], Henry, age 11, Minnie, age 3, b. Oregon, Bertha age 7 m's, all born in Oregon

INDUSTRY-- Thomas Lister Kay (1837 - 1900) -- After a lapse of fourteen years, Thomas Lister Kay re-established woolen manufacture in Salem when he built the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill in 1889 on the present site of the brick mill building. The woolen industry on the Pacific Coast had started in Salem in 1859 with the Willamette Woolen Manufacturing Company and had been most prosperous until fire and litigation ended the enterprise in 1875.
Born in Yorkshire, and descended from a long line of woolen manufacturers, Thomas Kay was early trained in the industry, going to work part time at the age of nine, and being apprenticed as a spinner three years later when his father died. He visited America first in 1857, but the depression of the industry sent hem back to England to learn more of woolen manufacture.
He returned again in 1860, found work in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and then was hired as loom boss for the new mill at Brownsville, Oregon in 1863. Fire and management problems did not hinder his advancement. He worked at Ellendale, Salem, back at Brownsville, and finally was superintendent of the Ashland Mills, 1868-72. He returned to Brownsville as both superintendent and shareholder, 1875-1888, and he acquired the Waterloo Mills in 1882, which began to turn out hosiery and knitwear.
When the Salem Mill burnt in 1895, it was rebuilt the next year on a grander scale, with brick, and eventually a sprinkler system was installed. Again there was a popular subscription that made it possible, and the Alaska Gold Rush and Spanish American War made it profitable. In public affairs Mr. Kay was a Salem City Councilman, and a member of Odd Fellows, the Masons and the Knights Templar. It was his pioneer industry which we honor more than anything else in Panegyric II.
Panagyric II, 1973 

Oregon Statesman 17 Apr 1889, 4:3: 
AMONG THE MILLS -- Squire Farrar yesterday received a letter from Thos. Kay, the proprietor of the Salem Woolen Mills, wh is now rustling around among the mills of North Andover, Worcester and Lawreced, Massachusetts, looking up the looms and other machinery needed for the mill here. He writes that if his wive keeps gaining her health, they will make the trip to England, starting next week, and will return here [Salem] about mid-summer, all ready for active operations. 
See also:
See also: Marion Co., probate file #1955

PHOTOGRAPH NOTE - The photograph of Thomas Kay is from the Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley, pg 586
Hon. Thomas Kay Died Last Night. -- 
Will Be Brought to Salem Today. -- 
Was the Leading Woolen Manufacturer on the Coast and a Most Enterprising Citizen.
Hon.Thomas Kay, one of Salem's most enterprising and industrious, citizens, and leading woolen mill manufacturer of the Pacific coast, passed away at St. Vincent's hospital, Portland, at 8 o'clock last evening, after an illness of several months.
For several years Mr. Kay has suffered from bladder trouble until, a few months ago, he went to California in search of medical aid, his trouble having become acute. He failed to find the hoped for relief, and returned to Salem about a month ago. Several weeks ago he decided to submit to an operation, going to the St. Vincent's hospital, Portland, and there underwent the operation, which, it was hoped would result in giving him relief, and restore him to health. He had, however, waited too long, his system having become too weak to recover from the shock, his digestive organs had become so badly affected as to almost refuse to perform their functions, and he slowly sank, until, at 8:30 o'clock last night, he passed away peacefully, surrounded by his nearest relatives, after making a heroic struggle for life. The remains will be brought to this city on the Shasta express, at 11 a.m. today. Funeral arrangements will be completed today and interment will probably be had under the auspices of De Molay Cammandery No. 5, Knights Templar.
Thomas Kay was born at Applebridge, Yorkshire, England, in June, 1837. He was descended from a long line of woolen manufacturers, and he was early trained in the industry, and at the age of 9 years began systematically to learn the trade at Shipler, where he spent two years in the spinning department, and six years in learning the process and methods of weaving in every branch of worsted manufacture. In 1857 he came to America, and turned his attention to the manufacture of woolen good, finding employment at Cazenovia, New York. At the end of one year he returned to England to perfect himself in the manufacture of woolen goods, and again visited the United States in 1859. He secured a position with the Smith Woolen Manufacturing, at Philadelphia, but afterwards was employed at Trenton and Newark.
In 1863 the officers of the Brownsville Woolen Mill in Oregon sent for him to come and take charge of their weaving department; he accepted the offer, and came to the state upon a three years' contract. Upon the burning of the factory in 1865 he was released, when he took the position of superintendent of The Dalles Woolen Mill; at the end of a year he went to the Ashland Woolen Mills, where he remained four years as superintendent. He then came to Salem and took charge of the weaving department of the Willamette Woolen Mill, built in 1850. Upon the rebuilding of the Brownsville mill in 1873, Mr. Kay leased the building and operated the mill for a term of two years. At the end of that time he organized the Brownsville Woolen Mill Company, purchased the mill and machinery, and continued its business; he was superintendent and was also a member of the board of directors, J. M. Moyer being president. This business was conducted very successfully until 1888, when a disagreement arose in the firm and the business was sold out.
Mr. Kay then took an extensive trip abroad, the first long vacation he had given himself in thirty years; he was accompanied by his wife, and after a most pleasurable tour returned to Salem. Here the citizens offered him a cash bonus of $20,000 if he would build a $100,000 mill in this city. The proposition was accepted, and in August, 1889, he began the construction of the building; he purchased four acres with a fine water power on mill creek convenient to the railroad. Then visiting Eastern cities he made an inspection of large factories, and bought his machinery at Lawrence, Massachusetts, including all the latest improvements. This mill burned down in 1896, but was at once rebuilt on a larger and grander scale, and is today the leading woolen factory on the Pacific coast.
Mr. Kay organized the Waterloo Development Company, which corporation purchased the Oakland Hosiery Mills, one of the largest on the the coast; this mill was removed to Waterloo, where the company owned valuable water power, and was operated in connection with the land development, it had a capacity of 200 hands, and was opened and put in operation in the summer of 1882, turning out hosiery and all kinds of knitted underwear. This, perhaps, was the greatest and most promising undertaking of Mr. Kay's life, and one in which he had great confidence. The mill was burned a few years ago.
Deceased was married in the old Corvela church near Leeds, England, in April 1857, to Miss Ann Slingsby, who with five children, survives to mourn his demise. Ten children were born to them, five of whom had preceded their father to the better land. Those surviving are: Mrs. Fanny Bishop, wife of Salem's mayor; Thomas B. Kay, assistant manager of the Salem Woolen Mills; Mrs. Elizabeth Coshow, of Roseburg; Miss Nora Kay and Miss Bertha Kay, of Salem.
Mr. Kay was, during all of his connection with the Salem Woolen Mills, president and manager of the company, and was one of Salem's most enterprising citizens. He served the city several times as councilman, and was highly respected, and implicitly trusted by all. He was a member of the Brownsville lodge and encampment of Odd Fellows, a member of the Masonic fraternity, and a Knight Templar. Deceased was a devoted member of the First Baptist church of this city.
The Salem Woolen Mill was shut down last night in respect to the deceased president of the company.
Chapman Scrapbook, pg. 123-124.
Oregon Statesman 28 April 1900 1:5,6
Thos. Kay
June 22, 1838
Apr. 27, 1900
(monument shared with Ann Kay)

We Will Meet Again (photo's available)
Rigdon Records, Bk. 1, #3
1880 CENSUS OR (Linn Co., N. Brownsville Pct., pg 404B)
Panagyric II, 1973
OS 17 Apr 1889, 4:3
OS 28 April 1900 1:5,6
Oregon State Library Image Collection
LOT: 421 SPACE: Center LONGITUDE: N 44° 55.161' LATITUDE: W 123° 02.835'

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