Paul Whitin (1767-1831) helped found the Northbridge Cotton Manufacturing Company in Northbridge, Massachusetts, in 1809, and in 1816 joined his brothers-in-law in founding the Whitin & Fletchers mill in South Northbridge (now Whitinsville), of which he became sole owner in 1826. Around this time, his two elder sons, Paul, Jr., and John, joined him, forming P. Whitin & Sons. Operating under that name, Paul and John purchased the Northbridge Cotton Manufacturing Company mill after the death of their father in 1831, and they later added their younger brothers, Charles and James, to the company. The company prospered and supplemented its cotton production with the manufacture of pickers, looms, and other machinery. About half of the houses in Whitinsville were owned by the company and rented to its employees, most of whom worked in the shop and foundry; a few employees were clerks in the company store.
The shareholders formally dissolved P. Whitin & Sons in 1864, and distributed its assets proportionally among themselves. They sold the company store, which had been owned by P. Whitin & Sons, to their cousin, Paul Whitin Dudley. Each of the brothers formed separate companies following the 1864 split; the portion owned by John Whitin became the Whitin Machine Works, which operated well into the 20th century.
Paul Whitin Dudley, the son of Amasa Dudley, was born in Amsterdam, New York, on April 3, 1817. He lived in Whitinsville, Manchaug, and Uxbridge, Massachusetts, throughout his childhood. He became the manager of the P. Whitin & Sons company store in 1846. Upon the dissolution of the company in 1864, he formed a partnership with Charles Whitin, named P. W. Dudley & Company. He married Sarah A. Tobey on October 19, 1842, and they had 4 children: Henry (1846-1876), Herbert, Sarah, and Walter Whitin. Paul Whitin Dudley died on July 1, 1872.