The growth of Nashua over the past two centuries owes much to its industrial development. In the early 19th century industrial development was made possible by a combination of water power and water transportation access and centered on the Nashua Manufacturing Company which was incorporated in 1823 for the manufacture of cotton goods. Over the years, textile mills provided a solid economic base for the local economy and in turn stimulated other types of manufacturing. The construction of the Nashua and Lowell Railroad in 1838 was followed by additional lines from Concord, Worcester, Wilton and Portland. In the 1870s and 1880s textile manufacturing declined somewhat in importance to the local economy as a number of new industries established themselves near the railroads.
What would become the Nashua Gummed & Coated Paper Company and later Nashua Corporation began as a partnership of three local men who were going to make their fortune making playing cards to fill the demand for the product by gold rush miners. This company was known as Gill and Company and it was formed by Charles Gill, a book store owner and bookbinder, O.D. Murray, a publisher who had experience with printing wallpaper and machinist John H. Gage. In 1849 they built a building on the north side of Water Street. The company never actually made playing cards but instead manufactured cardboard and other paper products such as glazed paper. After Charles Gill's death, Gage sold his interest to Virgil Gilman. The company continued under several other names – Gage, Murray & Co. , Gilman Brothers and in 1869 the Nashua Card and Glazed Paper Company was formed by a consolidation of the Gilman Brothers and the Nashua Glazed Paper Company which had been founded by Col. John Fennimore March in 1865. By the 1870s the company was the largest manufacturing concern in the city with the exception of the cotton and iron mills. Virgil Gilman retired from the business in 1872 followed by O.D. Murray in 1883. At this time operations were centered at a factory on Pearson Avenue in Nashua.
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