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D & L Slade Co.– Way of Housekeeping Larry Clark — A Tide Mill

D & L Slade Co.– Way of Housekeeping Larry Clark — A Tide Mill

Larry Clark

In 1775 the mill provided a footnote to the American Revolution. One of the earliest naval engagements of the war took place near the mill, and its gates prevented the British from sailing up Mill Creek and coming within firing range of Chelsea.
Henry Slade had bought into the mill in 1827, and the innovation introduced in his time was the grinding of tobacco into snuff to supplement corn. As Henry’s children David, Levi and Charles took an interest in the business, they – especially David – wanted to let their new ideas and ambition increase the business.
For one year, Henry turned the mill over to the hard-working David, who increased the mill’s profits to $500 until the older generation stepped back in. But soon David took charge again, creating the D & L Slade Co. with brother Levi. It would for more than 100 years turn out spices for New England home and professional kitchens



Re: D&L Slade Company Boston, Massachusetts

By genealogy.com user September 30, 2000 at 07:43:06

Henry Slade (born 1791) purchased an old mill in Revere that was powered by tidewater.This mill has burned down TWICE, so the poor building that is falling to ruin currently is more modern than Henry’s mill.He used the mill to grind snuff, since he sold tobacco products.He turned over the use of part of the mill to two of his sons, Charles (born 1816) and David (born 1819), and they began to grind spice for wholesale grocers as Slade Spice Company.Charles eventually left the company and was replaced by his brother Levi (born in 1822)and D & L Slade was formed.When Levi died in 1884, the company incorporated, with David, Wilbur L. Slade (son of Levi), Herber L. Slade (son of Levi), and Henry Dillingham (son-in-law of David and husband of Anna Jeanette, David’s daughter, of course).They began to buy spice and sell it, and since they were sticklers for quality, they did very well and the company grew rapidly.They refused to put fillers in their spice, and they soon became the largest seller of unadulterated spice (something that was hard to find in those days).Besides the mill in Revere, they had a factory in Chelsea, and offices in Boston.When Bell Seasoning’s went on the market, they purchased that company, which had also been family-owned, but they retained the name of Bell’s on all its packages.Somehow the same nicety was not extended to the Slade’s brand when it was finally acquired by a large food corporation, and the Slade’s Spice name no longer exists.


The mill was one of several tide mills dotting the New England coast – an innovation that some say originated in the area. Tide mills worked by using a set of flood gates. When the tide surged in, the flood gates swung open to allow the ocean water to fill the marsh and mill pond. When the tide turned and began to exit the marsh, the gates closed, trapping the water. From this impounded water the mill drew off a steady stream to turn its machinery – similar to the way a mill on a river used the flow to drive its works.

Tide mill - Wikipedia

In 1918 Slade would make the investment that keeps its legacy alive today. It bought out the Bell’s Seasoning Company. In 1867, William Bell had begun selling his blend of poultry seasoning through his market in Boston. Bell had started as a grocer in Lowell, Mass. before moving south to Boston where he could buy spices directly off the ships arriving in port.

Over the next 40 years Bell continually expanded the popularity of his Bell’s Seasoning – a blend of rosemary, ginger, oregano, sage and marjoram – until his sudden death at age 76. Sensing opportunity, Slade purchased the brand, but wisely did nothing to change the name or formula. Instead, he  incorporated Bell’s into his own lineup, which had expanded to baking powders, cumin, pepper and a wide range of spices. The company promoted them in its own cookbook.

The Slade name finally disappeared from the grocery shelves in the 1970s when the Slade family sold the company. Only the Bell’s brand name remains today – touted by a wide range of cooks as still the best poultry seasoning for a Thanksgiving turkey.

The Slade Mill, though, still lives on. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, its owners converted it to apartments in 2004.

Hat tip to: The Spice Mill on the Marsh by Thomas P. Smith

The Boston Globe
Boston, Massachusetts
07 Nov 1919, Fri  •  Page 16

Comments from Larry Clark

Drove from North Bay to Ottawa with a wedding cake for my sister in law. My wife baked the cake (3 layers) and had it iced professionally here. The baker was a little dubious when told of our mission but completed the cake. Everything went well until the time to cut the cake. They ended up using a hammer on the knife to break the cake open. The cake (and icing, when you managed to soften it) was delicious. Larry Clark

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