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date: 03 August 2020

Douglas, William Lewislocked

(22 August 1845–17 September 1924)
  • Jill Massino


Douglas, William Lewis (22 August 1845–17 September 1924), shoe manufacturer and governor, was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of William Douglas, a sailor, and Mary C. Vaughan. Attending public schools sporadically throughout his boyhood, Douglas was sent to work for his uncle, a shoemaker, at age seven, two years after his father’s death at sea. As a shoe pegger, he worked long hours and faced habitual mistreatment, but by age eleven he began to train formally as an apprentice under his uncle. Becoming a journeyman shoemaker at age fifteen, he was first employed at a cotton mill in Plymouth, where he earned thirty-three cents a day. He continued in the shoemaking trade in Hopkinton and later South Braintree under the well-known bootmaker Ansel Thayer until 26 February 1864, when he enlisted in the Fifty-eighth Massachusetts Regiment. Wounded at the battle of Cold Harbor in that same year, Douglas spent months in army hospitals and was discharged in 1865. In 1866 he headed west to Colorado, settling in Black Hawk and later Golden City. There he received training in designing, drafting, cutting, and fitting shoes—knowledge that allowed him to be classified as a professional shoemaker—and opened a retail boot and shoe store. He returned to Massachusetts in 1868 and that year married Naomi Augusta Terry. They had three children....

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