Giles Tinker

Giles Tinker, though not a native to North Adams, spent most of his life there, and greatly added to the fabric of the community in terms of his industrial, religious, and social contributions.

Giles Tinker was born in 1781 in Lyme, Connecticut, and moved to North Adams in 1802. He was a talented machinist and mechanic who began manufacturing wool carding machines for the mills in town. His was the first machine shop of its kind in the county. He expanded the shop many times throughout his life, eventually purchasing on old grist mill in 1825 to relocate the shop to. In 1804 he entered into a co-partnership with Captain E. Knight for manufacturing the machines for use on West Bank Street, and a year later he married his partners sister, Zilpha Knight. They eventually had eleven children, only seven of which lived to adulthood1. He was very involved in the industry of the town, becoming a shareholder, silent partner, property and mill owner. He built and co-owned the Eagle Mill with his partner, William Brayton, in 1813. He bought his first house, on Main Street, for $2,000 in 1809. He later purchased a new property in town and built a new house, which he could afford to do given his investments and businesses.

Tinker was also interested in progress and technology, maintaining his machine shop through most of his life, and travelling to Rhode Island in order to purchase and bring to North Adams the new satinet power loom, which was the first of its kind in western Massachusetts4. He was also commissioned as a captain of the local militia in 1820, a leader in the local Temperance movement, and one of the first members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in North Adams. The members of the Methodist Society, to which Tinker also belonged, used to meet in Tinker’s machine shop.

In 1832, Tinker’s health began to fail. He showed signs of consumption, what we now call tuberculosis, and traveled to Florida in an attempt to regain his health in the warmer climate. He made it to Florida, but died January 1st, 1833. He was originally buried in St. Augustine, Florida in a Huguenot Cemetery. At some point his body was brought back to the area and interred in the family mausoleum along with his wife Zilpha, who only survived her husband by two months. Tinker has a grave marker in Florida, a broken one in the Hillside Cemetery in North Adams as well as a restored one, and the family mausoleum.

Map Coordinates: 42.7012758, -73.1212007