Article Contributed by
Joan V. Cusimano Lindquist
The Broadhead name holds a place of prominence in Jamestown’s manufacturing history. In 1843 William Broadhead came to Jamestown from Thornton,Yorkshire, England where the wool worsted trade was one of its major industries. Although Broadhead originally was a blacksmith, he began to develop an interest in quality woolen textiles and established a clothing store called William Broadhead & Sons. To learn more about the worsted process where wool fibers are spun into a high quality yarn that could be woven into a durable fabric, Broadhead revisited Thornton. Soon after his return to Jamestown, he established several textile and worsted mills: the Hall, Broadhead & Turner Alpaca Mill in 1873, the Broadhead Worsted Mill established in 1875 with his sons Almet and Sheldon, and later the well-known Jamestown Worsted Mill on Harrison Street in Brooklyn Square that was formerly Halls Mill. There were fifteen mill buildings on Harrison Street, and all employed thousands of people who worked in Jamestown’s wool industry until the mid-1940s when the mills were sold.
If William Broadhead was an industrial pioneer, his sons were no less than their father, for they not only continued to own and operate textile mills but also added to the progress of transportation in the Jamestown area by establishing and developing several electric trolley lines, operating a fleet of Chautauqua Lake steamers, and electrifying a steam railroad named the Jamestown Westfield and Northwestern Railway Company that connected Jamestown with Westfield and the New York Central Railroad with both passenger and freight service. Almet Broadhead, after acquiring Celoron Park, established Midway Amusement Park that promoted the use of the trolley lines around the lake, built the Lake View Rose Gardens, and formed the Jamestown Shale Paving Company that furnished the bricks for many of Jamestown’s streets.
But as well as businesses bearing the name Broadhead, a prominent building called The Broadhead occupied a Brooklyn Square location at 39-47 S. Main Street. Referred to as the Broadhead Block, it was the home of myriad businesses and organizations. South Main Pharmacy, also known as Spera’s Drug Store, occupied the northern most corner of the building at S. Main and Harrison Streets from 1930 to 1969—probably the one business that remained in its original location the longest among the building’s street-level stores.
The Broadhead Building in itself was almost a microcosm of many types of businesses that peppered the Square in its entirety. This is reflected in the variety of stores that moved in and out of the Broadhead that included barber shops, shoe repair shops, an accordian studio, news rooms, several restaurants and an ice cream bar, a second hand store, a real estate agency, dry cleaning companies, a dance academy, a bakery, a liquor store, and establishments appealing to Jamestown’s southern European immigrant population, such as the Italian and Victoria Olive Oil Company, the Italian American Independent League, the Independent Italian American Citizens Club, and the Marconi Club.
The variety of businesses that were located in The Broadhead is a perfect example of how the face of the Square was ever changing and serving our human needs. By 1970, however, the stores in the Broadhead Block were vacant, awaiting a swift removal as the forces of urban renewal leveled one of the most popular sections of Brooklyn Square. And the Broadhead name? It still lives on as the name of one of Jamestown’s oldest streets.
To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to jamestowngazette.com and visit Janet’s own web page.