Occupations in the Granite Industry


Babcock-Smith House Museum
124 Granite Street
Westerly, RI   02891
401-596-5704
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Occupations in the Granite Industry
Agent:  a company salesman who secured orders for monuments.   Salesmen for Westerly companies were located in major cities across the eastern United States.
Apprentice:  a young stone worker in training.  A young boy began his training by getting tools and materials needed by the master craftsmen.  As he handed over the tools, he watched the experienced men use the tools.  He imitated the way the tools should be held and used.  The more he imitated the master craftsmen, the more proficient he became in using the tools.  Eventually the apprentice acquired tools of his own and worked independently.
Architectural Engineer:  a highly-trained specialist who took into consideration the load-bearing members in the structure of the monument and made certain that the monument was structurally sound.  He also designed the hoisting mechanisms for lifting and transporting very large pieces.
Artist:  a creative worker who used colored pencils, pastels and watercolors to create two dimensional pictures of monuments—most often for sales presentations.
Blacksmith: a worker who shoed oxen and horses, mended chains, shaped iron tires for wooden wheels and struck them on.  There was one blacksmith for every twelve granite cutters.  He sharpened tools forging, hardening and tempering the edge and he also made new tools. The Smith Granite Company blacksmith's shop, with a higher center section, had a lifting device to hoist oxen in order to shoe them because oxen, unlike horses, are not able to stand on three legs.
Blaster: a quarryman specially trained in blasting techniques.  The amount of black powder used was critical.  Not using enough would not free the granite block; using too much powder would result in waste due to broken and cracked stone.

Carpenter: a tradesman who boxed finished work to protect it for shipment. He also built and repaired buildings. 
Carver:  a highly skilled stonecutter who specialized in cutting the floral, geometric, and classical designs and moldings on monuments. (Richard Comolli)

 

Designer/draftsman:  an artist who created the conceptual design for the monument and presented it to the customer for approval.  He then made detailed drawings which were used by the stonecutters in producing the work.

Driller:  a quarryman who specialized in making drill holes.  In the early days drilling was done by hand; later drilling was done with a steam drill. (Angelo Gradilone with the drill; Alex Palm, foreman, in the foreground)
Engineer:  a man who operated the engines for the hoisting derricks and cranes and the railroad locomotives.  (Rick Jacobson)
  Farmer:  a worker who cared for the horses and oxen and was responsible for the barns.
  Fireman: a worker who ran the boilers to produce steam to run the power equipment.
Letter cutter: a skilled stonecutter specializing in cutting the letters on a monument.    (Richard Comolli)

Lumper:  a quarryman who moved or turned partially-finished or completed work.
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Mechanic: a specialist who kept the engines and machinery in working order and operated air compressors.
Paving Cutter: a stonecutter who cut paving stones to dimension.
Photographer:  a worker who documented on film the work of the granite industry.
Polisher:  a craftsman who used increasingly fine grit to bring the finish of a monument to a high gloss. Large areas were polished by machine.  Small areas and areas around intricate details were polished by hand.  (Thomas Lynch)
Quarryman:  a worker who drilled, blasted, and hoisted granite from the quarries and moved it to the nearby sheds
Railroad man:  a worker who ran and maintained the railroad tracks and equipment

Rigger: a quarry worker who erected derricks, and designed pulleys and chain mechanisms to lift and move the heavy slabs of granite.

Sand blaster: a stone cutter skilled in using the sandblast machine to carve letters and designs. 
Sawyer: a man who operated the saws to cut  large blocks of granite to the approximate size required for the monument. Before the saws, granite was cut to rough dimensions in the quarry.
Sculptor:  an artist who designed and created the clay representation of the statue or design.  After the clay work was completed, a plaster version was made to serve as a model for the statue cutter or carver. (Stanley Edwards, standing, and Robert Barr, seated)
Setter: a member of a team which was responsible for erecting the finished product on its permanent site.   (Setting crew, with crane and staging, setting the roof stones of a mausoleum)
Statue cutter:  a highly skilled stonecutter who used the plaster model as a guide in cutting the statue in granite. 
Stonecutter:  a journeyman craftsman who cut the stone to the final size and shape and finished the hammered surface as required. (Bob Greene)
Teamster: a man who drove oxen, horses, and eventually trucks to move materials.
Tool boy:  a boy who carried dull tools to the blacksmith and later returned them sharpened.  He kept track of which tools belonged to which craftsman


Turner: a stonecutter who used a lathe to cut round components of the monument. (Alexander Shanks)

Wheelwright: a worker who built and repaired wooden wheels.  (The high wheels on the ox carts were about 12 feet in diameter.)

 

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