ROBERT MCALPIN, inventor and
manufacturer, was born in Cokensie, Edinburgh, Scotland, March 4, 1837.
His father and other ancestors had lived in the vicinity of Edinburgh for
many generations, having come there from the Highlands, descendants of the
ancient royal Alpin line.
He came to America in 1853, and
began his career as a paper manufacturer at Lee, in the Berkshire Hills,
Massachusetts. Mr. McAlpin took hold with determination to learn the
business, working in every department of the paper mill and living on what
he could earn and educating himself until he became absolute master of
every detail of the paper business. There was not a shaft, bolt, pulley,
pump or any piece of machinery with which he was not familiar. He could
take a steam engine apart, repair it and then put it together again. He
could fire a boiler better than any of his firemen, and could run a
machine better than the best machine tender. So proficient had he become
that he could make a better sheet of paper at less cost than any other
mill man in the country. He produced the first sheet of paper from ground
wood pulp in the United States, and later was able to produce a sheet of
news-print paper which could be sold in New York market at half the price
for which it had been sold formerly. He is entitled to an enduring place
in the history of paper manufacturing.
Mr. McAlpin continued in the
manufacture of paper during his whole life, being the inventor and
patentee of many of the improvements in paper-making machinery, and was
the first paper manufacturer to install machines which made paper at the
rate of over three hundred feet a minute.
From youth Mr. McAlpin spent his
leisure in the study and enjoyment of music and in the reading of ancient
Scottish history. He was a lover of the literature of Walter Scott and of
Robert Burns. He was especially interested in every bit of evidence which
threw new light upon the interesting and romantic period of the regions of
the Alpin line.
He married, September 26, 1860,
Harriet Graves, born in Lee, Massachusetts, 1841, died in New York City,
March 31, 1914. She was of a prominent Puritan family and was descended
from the Colonial Governors, Governors Wells and Webster of Connecticut.
They celebrated their golden wedding in 1910. They had seven children,
each with families living in different parts of the United States: Charles
Walter, Robert Arthur, deceased; Louis A.; Maurice DeWitt; Milo Frederic,
and Ellen, deceased. Robert McAlpin died March, 1, 1911