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Founding of Stall & Dean

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Maker Spotlight:
The History of Stall & Dean
The story of Stall & Dean began in the mid-1800's in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, a small town located 24 miles due south of Boston. In the early 1800's, Bridgewater was best known for the Bridgewater Iron Manufacturing Company, which produced small arms and cannon during the American Revolution, and heavy agricultural and industrial machinery during the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840). The construction of the Taunton Branch Railroad in 1837 and the Old Colony Railroad in 1847, created a high-speed, large capacity industrial pipeline to Boston and beyond that would transform the region. Small towns like Bridgewater, Taunton, Middleborough, and Lakeville boomed, importing immigrant labor and raw materials while exporting textiles, shoes, paper products, and lumber. North Bridgewater's population exploded from 2,600 in 1840 to over 6,500 in 1860 as industries harnessed the Salisbury Plain River to power dozens of new factories that cropped up along its river banks. By 1860, shoe manufacturing had become the largest industry of the region, making it the country's largest producer of shoes for Union troops during the Civil War. In 1874, North Bridgewater's leaders decided that the town had grown large enough to have its own name. After considerable debate they settled on "Brockton", which was incorporated as a city in 1881.

The Industrial Rise of Brockton, Mass.

The Stall's

Born in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1827, William Dean worked as a shoe cutter in a Lakeville, Massachusetts shoe factory in the early 1850's. In September 1862, he enlisted in the Massachusetts 3rd Infantry, which saw limited action in North Carolina in 1862 and 1863. After mustering out with the rest of Company I in June 1963, William married Mary Pratt's sister Elizabeth in November, 1863. The couple had two sons, Charles H. Dean (1865) and William F. Dean (1871).

In 1885, William Dean was instrumental in founding the Commonwealth Shoe Company, a division of the Whitman Shoe Company, the largest American shoe company of its time. Both Charles and William learned shoemaking from their father and worked alongside him at Commonwealth in the late 1880's.
In 1852, Thomas Stall, a machinist from Taunton, Massachusetts married Mary Louisa Pratt of Middleborough. The couple moved to Boston in the late 1860's and Mary gave birth to the couple's only child, Walter, in 1869.

Thomas worked as a foreman in a hosiery factory until the late 1880's when he became a janitor, an occupation he held until his death in 1904. The family likely didn't have the means to send Walter to college. Thus, at the age of 17, in 1886 Walter went to work as a clerk for Dame, Stoddard & Kendall & Co. (successors to Bradford & Anthony), a Boston merchant house that imported and manufactured a variety of goods, including hardware, fishing tackle, bicycles, skating equipment and cutlery.
Brockton Massachusetts postcard, 1905
Stall & Dean Factory, Brockton, MA, c. 1905
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Dame, Stoddard, & Kendall's limited geographical footprint and primary focus on general merchandise constrained the athletic department's opportunities for national growth. As the popularity of their products grew, Walter and Charles decided the time was right to set out on their own.

On March 15, 1899, Walter Stall (30) and Charles Dean (35) acquired the Dame, Stoddard & Kendall factory and sporting goods division in Brockton, and reopened the business as "The Stall & Dean Manufacturing Company." According to a September, 1900 article in "The Sporting Goods Dealer," the new company's focus was to manufacture "a line of athletic clothing that is second to none in the country, and is also very strong in leather goods, such as punching bags, football shin guards, etc."
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Walter Stall's employer, Dame, Stoddard & Kendall, was a Boston merchant house with history dating back to 1800. The company imported and manufactured a variety of household goods, including hardware and cutlery, and sporting goods, such as fishing tackle, bicycles, and skating equipment.

Looking to capitalize on the booming athletic equipment market, Dame, Stoddard & Kendall started an athletics department in 1890 and named Walter Stall manager. In 1892, the company opened an athletic clothing factory in Brockton to meet the growing demand for baseball and football uniforms in the Boston area. To manage the factory, Walter hired his first cousin, Charles Dean, as foreman. The factory produced uniforms for Dame, Stoddard & Kendall's Boston-area stores, where they were sold alongside Draper & Maynard and Victor sports equipment.

Dame, Stoddard, Kendall & Co.

Dame, Stoddard, & Kendall Catalog, 1898

Stall & Dean Family Trees

The Deans'

Founded by cousins Walter Stall and Charles Dean in 1898, American sporting goods manufacturer Stall & Dean remained privately-held and family-owned for three generations. Touted as the "largest manufacturer of baseball uniforms in the country" in the 1910's and 1920's, Stall & Dean was the first company to supply uniforms to the "Original Six" teams of the National Hockey League.
Walter Stall, c. 1905
Chris Hornung
December 22, 2016
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