GILFORD – Later this month, Gilford author and historian Carol Lee Anderson will have her third book published with The History Press. The book, entitled A History of the Belknap Mill: The Pride of Laconia's Industrial Heritage, will be released on June 24. The Belknap Mill Society will be hosting the official book launch on July 11, beginning at 6 p.m. at the historic Belknap Mill, 25 Beacon Street East in Laconia. The event is free and open to the public.
The publication follows the release of Anderson's second book, The New England Life of Cartoonist Bob Montana: Beyond the Archie Comic Strip, which hit the shelves last fall. A History of the Belknap Mill took Anderson nearly a year to write and encompasses not only the mill's history but also the industrial history of Laconia.
Manchester businessman J. Paul Morin, whose great-grandfather J.P. Morin bought the Belknap Mill in 1913, penned the foreword to the book. Morin's family owned and operated a hosiery business there for three generations, and he is the last of his generation to have first-hand experience with the family's complex enterprise. Anderson worked closely with him as she conducted her research on the mill's history.
J.P. Morin was also highly involved in the establishment of Sacred Heart Parish and the construction of Laconia's Sacred Heart Church. Being a Franco-American, he constantly searched for ways to ease his fellow immigrants' assimilation into American society. Due to the extent of J. P. Morin's contributions to life in Laconia, Anderson dedicated an entire chapter to the French-Canadian entrepreneur.
The tale of this history includes the stories of many of the French-Canadian immigrants who worked as mill operatives, and it chronicles the story of women mill workers, who were known as "mill girls". The women far out-numbered their male counterparts and performed far more complicated tasks.
The intense battle for the mill's preservation and restoration is told throughout several chapters, featuring an interview with Save the Mills and Belknap Mill Society founder, Peter Karagianis. Anderson conducted additional interviews with Dr. Richard Candee, an architectural historian who helped those who saved the mill from demolition during urban renewal.
One of the things that most surprised Anderson was that the Belknap Mill's history did not include the same type of stories that are associated with mills in larger cities - tales that describe challenging working conditions and the poor treatment of operatives. Presented in an easy-to-read style, the book encourages readers to enjoy discovering the unique history of the Belknap Mill and the little-known facts about Laconia's industrial history.
Anderson is also the author of the award-winning, The History of Gunstock: Skiing in the Belknap Mountains, published by The History Press in 2011. For more information, visit CarolLeeAnderson.com.