Stephen French, Father of Stephen E. French, born June 2, 1823 in Dummerston, Vermont son of Stephen French and Polly (Pierce) French.
Successful in the sewing machine business in the pioneer days of that industry. Educated until the age of 19 in his home town, he worked on his father farm then "purchased his time" from his father for $150 and went to East Templeton. Made chairs for Pratt, French & Company in Ohio. After returned to Templeton, he was employed by Greewood & Whiney in their chair factory.
In 1861 Stephen French accepted position with Thomas Howard White, making a hand sewing machine with a single thread. Assembled and then invented and experimented to improve these machines
In 1862 Thomas Howard White moved his business from Brattleboro, Vermont to Orange, Massachusetts and to Stephen French was given a share of the company.
In 1866 when the White Manufacturing Company moved its business from Orange, Massachusetts to Cleveland, Ohio, Stephen French refused to go.
In 1867 the Barker-Clark combination having developed the Gold Medal Sewing Machine Company, moved the plant to Orange, Massachusetts and a stock company was formed on April 27 of that year. The first annual meeting of the Board was held on July 31, 1867. Andrew J. Clark was elected President, with John Wilson Wheeler Secretary-Treasurer and Stephen French as Superintendent.
In 1870 Stephen French created the "Home" and the "Home Shuttle".These two models were retailed worldwide.
The sewing-machine "Combination" was at this time at the height of its power and it was under a license that the “Gold Medal” was made and the “Home” first introduced in 1870.
In 1872 Stephen French sold out his interest for a large profit and W.T. Elliot became Superintendent.
In 1882, January 25, the Gold Medal Sewing Machine Company was reorganised and became New Home Sewing Machine Company with John Wilson Wheeler as a chairman.
Stephen French had a wholesale/retail shoe business in Worcester, Massachusetts with his nephew. Later, became a bank president in Manhattan, Kansas and its largest stockholder Real Estate was his next venture upon returning home to Orange. Supported good causes and took special interest in young men who were just starting out in business.
Stephen French died on April 19, 1905 in his home in Orange, Mass.