In 1880, William A. Walton bought a woolen mill that had been established in 1862. He attempted to develop a model mill town, building houses with individual garden plots, laying sidewalks, initiating a tree-planting program, and providing for such community programs as a brass band. Walton's masonry mill burned in 1890, to be replaced in 1906 by a nondescript factory whose name—Alton Manufacturing Company—derived from the old owner's.
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