Memoirs of Col. Arial Bragg

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Bragg, Arial. Memoirs of Col. Arial Bragg. Milford: George W. Stacy (Printer), 1846. First Edition.

Arial Bragg was born on July 30th, 1772, in Massachusetts to Arial and Sarah (Fisher) Bragg. Arial's father, a shoe maker, fought and died (smallpox) in the American War of Independence.  Without her husband, Sarah turned to her father for support and moved with her youngest child to his home, while the remaining four children of Arial and Sarah, including the young Arial were placed with different families.

In 1781, Arial was bound by indenture as an apprentice to his uncle, Alexander Bragg.  The Memoirs contain a copy of the indenture issued on January 24, 1781: 

"With the assent of two Justices of the Peace for said County, have put and placed, and by these presents do put and place [Arial] Bragg, son of [Arial] Bragg, a poor child as an apprentice to Alexander Bragg of learn the art of husbandry...until he shall arrive at the age of sixteen years, all of which time, or term, his master he shall faithfully serve, his secrets keep close, and his lawful commands gladly do and obey; he shall not do any damage to his master, nor allow any to be done by others, without giving notice thereof to him. He shall not waste, perloin, or embezzel the goods, or estate of his master, nor lend them unlawful to any; he shall not practice unlawful games, nor haunt places of debaucheries, nor be at any time from family order, with the consent of his master, during said term of service, as aforesaid, but in all things carry and behave himself as a dutiful, faithful and obedient apprentice out to do during the said term."

After a series of interesting twists and turns in his relationship with Alexander, as well as later employers and a bout with disease, Arial settled in Milford, Massachusetts, where he is credited as establishing one of the first wholesale shoe and boot manufacturing firms.  He made his first sale, consisting of 22 pairs of shoes in 1793, having invested all the money to his name ($7.50) for the required materials (forty pounds of sole leather and four calf skins), to a man he met on the road to Providence for $21.50.

Arial would marry three times; serve 29 years with the military (at his own expense); was elected Representative to the General Court in 1839 and to the Senate in 1842.

The first half of this work is dedicated to Bragg's memoirs, while the second is a collection of poems he authored.