Tombstone Tuesday: William McCorkindale

by Laurel | January 7th, 2014

10 March 1927

William McCorkindale

William McCorkindale
1851 – 1927
Forestdale Cemetery, Holyoke

Noted Holyoke Paper Official Dies at Hospital
William McCorkindale, Long Superintendent of Parsons Mill, Prominent in Industry and as Citizen

Holyoke, March 7 — William McCorkindale, 76, one of Holyoke’s most sterling citizens and for many years of the most skilled papermakers in the country died last night at the Corey Hill Hospital at Brookline, where he wen for an operation about five weeks ago. Following the operation he rallied for a time then slowly sank, finally relapsing into a semi conscious state until the end. Very few are left of the old time paper makers and still fewer, if any, left of those who were personal friends and in personal touch with pioneer manufacturers such as the late J. C. Parsons and W. Murray Crane; for Mr. McCorkindale worked in both the Crane mills under the late Senator Crane and under J. C. Parsons when he founded the papermill that still bears his name. Through these earlier days down to about three years ago, when he resigned as active superintendent of the present Parsons Paper Company, Mr. McCorkindale was every hour of the day and every day of the year the master of his job; and his job was to make perfect paper. Through the many years the products of the Parsons Paper company have maintained the highest standards in the trade, so that it might be said that in the web of paper from the machines was woven Mr. McCorkindale’s life work.

Served as Alderman

It must not be imagined by those unacquainted with him that the manufacture of paper was all that there was to his life. For he was a versatile and many-sided man; though not a politician in the accepted sense of the term, he nevertheless, did his bit in the political field, serving on the board of aldermen, under Mayor Arthur B. Chapin from 1899 to 1902, inclusive; and he took deep interest in political affairs to the end. in national politics he was at all times a staunch Republican and served for several years as a member of the Republican city committee.

It is a curious fact that Mr. McCorkindale entered the Crane Mills at Dalton in 1872 the same day that the late Senator W. Murray Crane entered the Crane Mill office. The two men were close personal friends until Mr. Crane’s death.

On December 10, 1873, Mr. McCorkindale made a trip to Holyoke, one of the most important in his life as he wedded that day Miss Lillian Forsythe, a Holyoke girl, and brought her back to Dalton with him. Three years ago the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and the two drove over the same route to Dalton, this time by automobile. And some say that Scotch people are not romantic! They made their home in a modest cottage at Dalton for eight years following their wedding.

In 1881, the late J. C. Parsons who had bought the old Mt. Tom paper Mill had remodeled it and planned to manufacture the highest grade ledger papers; so he called Mr. McCorkindale to act as his superintendent and thus was established the first ledger paper mill at Holyoke. the venture was a success from the start. In 1888 a new mill, the Parsons No. 2 mill was built on Sargent Street, the one the company retained when the older mill was bought by the American Writing Paper Company. But Mr. McCorkindale remained in service with the company until 1923 when he resigned after 42 years of continuous service.

McCorkindale Memorial

McCorkindale Memorial
Forestdale Cemetery

Deacon of First Church

Personally Mr. McCorkindale was a keen eyed, alert, at times abrupt man, not given to many words though he could talk fluently enough when the spirit moved him; he could at times be gruff but the gruffness was superficial as he was the warmest-hearted kind of man, and a type of man that made many friends, though not with everybody, and retained friendships when formed throughout the years. his religious life was deep and steadfast; he was for years deacon of the First Congregational Church where he and his family made their church home. Any one who heard him speak in religious service could not fail of being impressed with his humility and devotion and the sincerity of that spiritual life was manifest in the constant succession of gits to deserving works and his shunning of publicity about them. His home life was ideal and his home ties were first in his thoughts and his life, but he found time to meet with his fellows in many ways outside of his church and his home, and was a member of Mt. Tom Lodge of Masons and Mt. Tom Gold Club.

Born in Scotland

Like many sterling papermakers, Mr. McCorkindale was born in Scotland, Greenock being his birthplace. He left the town when 17 years old for this country after learning the fundamentals of papermaking in Scotland.  He first settled in Pittson, N.Y., and traveled for a time, including a visit to Holyoke where he met his future wife. Older Holyokers recall that he was an exceptionally handsome young man of distinguished appearance.

Mr. McCorkindale was as successful in other business ventures as with his own, showing that he possessed business acumen far above the average. He was associated with E. P. Bagg and others in the formation and operation of the Millers Falls Paper Company; he had a large part with Charles P. Randall in the organization of the Holyoke ilk Hosiery Company, he was a direcor of the People’s Savings Bank, Holyoke City Hospital and Holyoke Silk Hosiery Company.

Besides his widow, who was also of Scotch descent, being born at Bar Head, Scotland, he leaves two sons, Edward J., a paper jobber at Philadelphia and Roger W., who succeeded his father as superintendent of the Parsons mill; and one daughter, Ethel Lillian, wife of Martin Harwood of Longmeadow; also grandchildren, Elizabeth, Marion and Edward McCorkindale, children of Edward J., Lesley, Jean, daughters of Roger W. and Jean and Fred, William Harwood.

From The Springfield Republican.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Suggested Holyoke Books

Mountain Park -- The Holyoke destination we all loved.

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College, Postcard History by Donna Albino. Many Holyoke women have attended Mount Holyoke. Author also maintains an amazing MHC website based upon her personal collection.

Holyoke - Chicopee, A Perspective

Holyoke-Chicopee: A Perspective, by Ella Merkel DiCarlo. DiCarlo, a former Transcript columnist offers a fascinating compilation of her essays. Published in 1982, this out-of-print book is worth looking for in the aftermarket.


Holyoke, by Craig Della Penna. The first Holyoke book in the Arcadia series, published in 1997.

Belle Skinner Collection

Belle Skinner Collection, by Ruth Isabel Skinner. Published in 1933, this book is long out of print but copies are still available in the aftermarket.

Mitch Epstein: Family Business

Mitch Epstein: Family Business Published in 2003, available in the aftermarket. Epstein's furniture.