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Samuel A. Randall
 Samuel A. Randall, 1824-

From American Series of Popular Biographies. Massachusetts Edition. This Volume Contains Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Boston: Graves & Steinbarger, 1891.


SAMUEL A. RANDALL, a retired business man of Dorchester, was for many years one of the most noted machinists of the country, and filled many contracts for the government and for railroad companies. He was born at Salmon Falls, N.H., in 1824.

His father, Bradbury C. Randall, a native of Lee, N.H., was a man of great mechanical skill, capable of transforming iron and steel into almost any shape, being what was then known as a whitened blacksmith, but now called a machinist. For several years the elder Randall did blacksmith and whitesmith work for the government at the Portsmouth navy-yard. He subsequently worked at his trade in Ashland, N.H. , leaving that place in 1853 and coming to Boston to take charge of the Boston Locomotive Works. Later he assumed the charge of the finishing and blacksmith department of the Taunton Locomotive Works, and subsequently, in company with his sons, Samuel A. and William, he took the contract for building the engines for the Mansfield Manufacturing company. He died August 1, 1856, at the comparatively early age of fifty-six years. He was member of the A.F. & A.M., and both he and his wife belonged to the Free Will Baptist church. On May 29, 1823, he married Ann Purrington Cromwell, who was born October 10, 1803. She survived her husband many years, dying at the advanced age of fourscore and four. Their family consisted of four sons and one daughter, namely: Samuel A., the special subject of this sketch; William B.; Charles E.; John; and Ann Eliza, who died in infancy.

Samuel A. Randall was graduated at an early age from the Portsmouth High School. After that he served an apprenticeship of seven years with his father at the machinist's trade in Ashland, N.H. Returning to Portsmouth, N.H., he took possession of the old shop formerly occupied by his father, where he filled the contract which he had taken for making some machinery for the first cotton factory erected in Portsmouth. On the completion of his work he came to Boston to assist in building the engines for a sloop of war, and was here employed for a number of years in locomotive and engine building. Going from Boston to Bridgeport, Conn., he was superintendent of the yard in which the sloop of war "Ossipee" was built, that being the first of the ten war vessels for which the contract called. He subsequently went to Indiana as master mechanic of the New Albany and Salem Railroad, a position that he held two years. Mr. Randall then returned East, having contracted to build locomotives at the Taunton Works in Taunton, Mass. Afterward he went to Mystic Conn., to fill a government contract for building engines for ships. He was next employed by the Atlantic Company to put the engines in several sloops of war, one being the "Monadnock," which he ran on her trial trip, and as engineer took out to sea. He was present at the bombardment of Charleston, S.C.; was afterward the first naval officer to enter Fort Sumter, whence he went with his vessel to Fort Monroe and up the James River to Richmond, where he witnessed the evacuation of that city. From there he went to Havana after the rebel cruiser "Stonewall," and, having put his engines and ship in good condition, he proceeded to Philadelphia, where he resigned from the navy. He put the engines in the frigate "Franklin," and went with her on her trial trip. He then took a contract to sell engine tires for John Taft, of Boston, whom he succeeded in business, selling out, however, to organize a company for building car trucks. He subsequently formed the Shaw Randall Car Truck Company of which he was general manager until 1895, when he retired from active business, having had a long and very successful career.

Mr. Randall was married in October, 1846, to Abby, daughter of William and Abigail (Prescott) Drake and a descendant of James Prescott, who came to New England in 1665, and settled at Hampton. (See "Prescott Families.") Of their union three children were born, namely: William Harbert, who was accidentally killed, when fifteen years of age on the Taunton Railway; Frank Cromwell; and Ann Eliza wife of Charles F. Tolman, of Dorchester. Politically, Mr. Randall is a Republican, and fraternally he is a member of the A.F. & A.M.* and of the G.A.R.* Post, no. 68.

*A.F. & A.M. Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.
**G.A.R. Grand Army of the Republic.

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Created: November 13, 2004   Modified: November 13, 2004