Match Boxes

historical artifacts

c. 1870-1890

In the 19th century Woodbridge used to have a number of industries along its waterways, among them a match company founded in 1832 by William A Clark, one of the first people – if not the first person – in America to hold a patent on the friction match. His factory and associated dormitories, now houses, are still to be seen along Seymour Road.

Frederick P. Newton was Clark’s son-in-law and he took over the business in the late 1870s. (The historical society has a copy of a letter he wrote to a relative saying that his father in law was ignoring the business and that it could be making more money.) It was eventually moved to Westville and absorbed by the Diamond Match Company during the 1880s.

The making of the matchboxes was a cottage industry in Woodbridge: women were given the materials and paid a penny for every 100 boxes they assembled at home.

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