Biographical / Historical
The E. Murdock & Company was founded by Elisha Murdock in 1834. Murdock was from Winchendon, Massachusetts, a small town outside of Boston. He was the third child of Ephraim and Zibah Murdock. He was born on August 27, 1802.
Elisha Murdock's family had many industrial and educational pursuits. His father, a builder of sleighs, founded the first public high school in Winchendon, Massachusetts in 1843. Eventually his son Ephraim Murdock, Jr. established in 1887 a self-supporting high school in Winchendon named The Murdock School, was considered one of the best equipped high schools in Massachusetts and in 1961, the school became known as "The Murdock Junior High School.
Elisha worked in the manufacturing of tubs, pails, and other wood wares using machinery invented by his father. For 100 years, from 1831-1931, Winchendon was known as "The Home of Woodenware Manufacture."
In 1840, Murdock's first woodenware factory in Winchendon burned. In 1895, a second fire destroyed an even larger plant. After the 1895 fire, however, a new factory was erected and a variety of products were offered.
Murdock also established a plant in Boston, in the industrial area of Market Street. The Boston plant was listed in the city directory until 1882. In 1882, Elisha Murdock died and the company's leadership was handed over to William and Elisha Whitney.
From 1883-1929, little is recorded about E. Murdock & Company. In 1929, Murdock's Company, Keene Woodworking Company in New Hampshire and the West Swanzey plant, merged to form the New England Woodenware Corporation. However, the Winchendon unit was still supervised by Elisha and William Whitney, with 225 employees. According to Murdock's great-great-granddaughter Margaret Urquhart, the company moved from Massachusetts to New Hampshire in 1958, where it became a personal holding company with no employees. In 1951, the company stopped producing wooden artifacts and began producing boxes. In 1982, the company moved from Winchendon to Gardener, Massachusetts.
The Murdock family, through marriage, was related to the Whitney family. While the Whitneys produced woodworking machines, Murdock's company manufactured woodenware products for a century. Eventually, the Whitneys managed E. Murdock and Co. for over twenty years.