Henry A. Emerson, the President and Treasurer of the Contoocook Valley Paper Company, whose plant is located in West Henniker, was born in Concord, N.H., May 1, 1837, son of Fenner H.. and Clarinda B. (Baker) Emerson. His father, a native of Rhode Island, was connected with the paper manufacturing industry in this State for many years. Both his parents passed their last years with him, and died in Henniker.
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At the age of seventeen, having acquired a good practical education, Mr. Emerson began to learn the business of paper-maker. Commencing at the lowest round of the ladder in a paper-mill of Pepperell, Mass., he worked his way upward through the various departments until he had acquired a good knowledge of the trade. He was later employed in mills at Leominster, Mass., and Franklin, N.H. Finally he was appointed superintendent of a mill in Pepperell, Mass., which position he occupied for three years. Having saved some capital by then, he was desirous of engaging in business on his own account, and looked about for a suitable place in which to carry out his purpose. In 1871 he became favorably impressed with the future prospect of a paper-mill in Henniker. With P. C. Cheney & Co., of Manchester, and H. T. Hill he began operations in an old mill here; and a short time later the Nashua Card and Glazed Paper Company secured the interest of Cheney & Co. In 1872 the Contoocook Valley Paper Company was incorporated with a capital stock of seventy-five thousand dollars, and a large mill was erected in West Henniker. The business grew in importance; and, as Mr. Emerson gradually acquired the greater part of the capital stock, he became the President in 1880 and the Treasurer in 1886. The plant is propelled by water, having a capacity of three hundred horse-power, more than half of which is utilized. The annual product, which is of a superior quality, amounts to about seven hundred tons. For the past fourteen years the Contoocook Valley Company has furnished the paper used in the State printing office. Mr. Emerson is also interested in other enterprises. He is a Director of the Hillsborough Electric Light Company; was for eleven years President of the Henniker Spring Water Company; owns stock in the Walworth Manufacturing Company, and in several railroad companies, including those of the Connecticut River, the New York, New Haven & Hartford, the Concord & Montreal, the New Boston, and the Amoskeag; and he has also invested to some extent in Western securities. In 1888 he built the Emerson Block, a frame structure of three stories. In 1876 and 1878 he was elected a Representative to the legislature as a Democrat, and during his term served upon the Committee on Corporations. He continued to vote with the Democratic party until 1894, when he became a Republican. In the last national campaign he was an active supporter of McKinley and sound money.
On January 1, 1864, in Litchfield, N.H., Mr. Emerson was united in marriage with Louisa M. Lydston, a native of Hillsborough County. He is the President of the Henniker Free Library Association, which occupies quarters in his block. Included in his household property is a library, containing about two thousand well-selected volumes. He has been connected with the Congregational church since coming to Henniker, and for several years he sang in the choir.