:: The Founders ::
Gordon W. Burnham
Benedict & Burnham Button: 1834-1843
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a brief historical profile of
The Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company
| From Town and City Atlas of the State of Connecticut, D.H. Hurd & Co., 1893
began in 1812 in Waterbury, Connecticut.
As the US went to war with England, Aaron Benedict siezed on an opportunity.
Soldiers and sailors needed uniform buttons, but England would obviously no longer supply them. Benedict bought up every brass kettle, pan and pot he could find, established a rolling mill and began making buttons for the armed forces.1
In 1824, James Croft, a partner, went to England to purchase a larger rolling mill. Benedict could now produce all the brass he needed, plus a surplus to market to other companies. Israel Coe partnered with Benedict on February 2, 1829 to form Benedict & Coe. Other partners included Bennet Bronson, Benjamin DeForest, and Alfred Platt. Coe left the firm in 1834 to pursue other business ventures. Israel Coe's name turns up time after time in the Naugatuck Valley's brass history.
In 1832, Gordon Webster Burnham
The Benedict & Burnham Mfg. Co., Waterbury, Conn.
, entered the firm of Benedict & Coe, which by that time was also manufacturing brass and copper utensils. On February 14, 1834, after Israel Coe's departure, he formed a partnership with Aaron Benedict, and established what became The Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Co., the largest manufacturers of brass and copper appliances and fixtures in the United States.2
The partners included Bennet Bronson, Alfred Platt, Henry Bronson, Samuel S. DeForest and John DeForest. Benedict & Burnham also produced copper and copper alloys, door handles, furniture knobs, safety pins, rivets, bolt hinges, lamp burners, insulated electric wire and copper wire for telegraph lines.3
The TRIUMPH Burner by Benedict and Burnham. J.G. Hallas' patent #208,309, September, 24, 1878.
, the firm of Benedict & Burnham had assets in excess of $100,000 and became the first brass factory in Waterbury to incorporate, doing so on January 14, 1843. In 1846 The Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company and a company called Brown & Elton jointly organized the American Pin Company.4
They later spun off two divisions into separate companies - The Waterbury Button Company (1849), which is still in business today, and the Waterbury Clock Company, which was formed as a joint stock corporation by Benedict & Burnham in 1857. The Waterbury Clock was in business from 1857-1944. The company began making watches for Robert H. Ingersol in 1892, and subsequently purchased his business in 1922. When the company failed in 1944, it became part of the U.S. Time Corp.5
The following passages are from the Work Record Pocket Diaries of Charles Somers Miller, Waterbury, Connecticut. Mr. Miller performed a number of odd jobs, but had substantial experience as a blacksmith. His diary entries chronicle scores of days working for Benedict & Burnham. He also did repair work or made wagons for Holmes, Booth & Haydens.Source: Robert Kraft's Genealogy Page,
Saturday, February 11, 1899.
While I was there yesterday Young Mr. Kenworthy from Benedict & Burnhams came to see if I would go there monday to work forging, in the place of Wallace Burgess who is sick.
Friday, March 10, 1899.
Worked to day at Benedict and Burnhams, blacksmithing.
Wednesday, March 29, 1899.
Worked at Benedict and Burnhams,
Mr. Byers told me that they would like
me to stay and work next week.
Monday, April 10, 1899.
This day I worked at Benedict & Burnhams Irving carried me down, and came after me at night. Benedict and Burnhams require four large engines to drive its machinery. They also have eight small engines located in different parts of the concern to use when the large engines are not running.
They keep fourteen horses in the barn, six of which they use on double teams, the rest single, also they have a locomotive which is in constant use.
The different departments are. [paraphrased]
The Office, Mill, Seamless Tube, Braised, City, Heat Steam & Light, Wire Mill, Shipping, Yard, and Barn departments.
Friday, April 28, 1899.
There was a severe frost this morning and it was cold, worked at Benedict and Burnhams, Mr. Byers told me that the work is caught up and that they would not need me after tomorrow night. But would like to have me come again when they are busy.
University of Pennsylvania, http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu
The RADIANT Burner by Benedict and Burnham. W.N. Weeden's patent #131,918, October 1, 1872.
, The Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company started making seamless tubing. Until this time, only one other firm was successfully making seamless tubing. In 1894 The Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company made significant advances in the manufacture of tubing when they imported machinery from Germany. By 1895, The Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company employed 967 people and was producing 4,740,685 pounds of brass sheets, wire and tubing! On August 6, 1900, the Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company became part of the American Brass Company.6
Weeden's Lamp-Socket by B&B. W.N. Weeden's #167,371, Patented August 31, 1875.
Photo courtesy Hugh Pribell
As early as the 1840's, the company was involved in the manufacture of whale oil lamps. They made a number of quality lamp burners, as many fine examples survive today.
The Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company was assigned at least twenty-four patents between September 29, 1868 and November 8, 1898. See the patent table
below for details. Noteworthy inventors include James G. Hallas, assignor of six patents, and William N. Weeden, assignor of eleven. Hallas and Weeden collaborated on another two patents which were also assigned to B&B. Weeden is also credited with at least seven additional lamp/lighting patents prior to those assigned to Benedict & Burnham.
Hallas' patent #187,007, February 6, 1877, was for a machine to thread lamp collars, so it's safe to assume they made collars as well.
|A. BENEDICT & CO.
|BENEDICT & COE
|BENEDICT & BURNHAM
|BENEDICT & BURNHAM MFG CO.
|WATERBURY BUTTON CO.
|THE WATERBURY COMPANIES
|THE WATERBURY BUTTON CO.
|WATERBURY CLOCK CO.
|Patents assigned to Benedict & Burnham between Sept. 29, 1868 - Nov. 8, 1898|
|[ additional patents will be added as they are discovered ]
|D = Design Patent, RE = Reissue of an earlier Patent|
To view any of the above patents, enter the number in the box below and select Query USPTO Database. This will take you to the specific patent images on the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Database. Learn more about the USPTO here.
- 1 The Waterbury Button Company. Highlights from History (14 March 2003) <http://www.waterburybutton.com/detpages/aboutus29.shtml>.
- 2 Rita's Genealogy Corner. Men and Women of Note (14 March 2003) <http://web.cetlink.net/~firestar/hampton/note.htm>.
- 3 The Waterbury Button Company.
- 4 Lathrop, William G. The Brass Industry in the United States. New Haven, CT: The Wilson H. Lee Company, 1926.
- 5 M.S. Benedict Mfg. Co. Novelty Timepiece (14 March 2003)
- 6 Lathrop.
- Davis, William T., ed. The New England States, Their Constitutional, Judicial, Educational, Commercial, Professional and Industrial History, Volume II. Boston, Mass: D.H. Hurd & Co., ca 1896.
- Grant, Ellsworth Strong. Yankee Dreamers and Doers. Chester, CT: Pequot Press, n.d.
- G. Fox & Co. Highways & Byways of Connecticut: A Century of Connecticut Living. Hartford, CT: G. Fox & Co., 1947.
- M.S. Benedict Mfg. Co. Novelty Timepiece. 14 March 2003.
- Lathrop, William G. The Brass Industry in the United States. New Haven, CT: The Wilson H. Lee Company, 1926.
- Rita's Genealogy Corner. Men and Women of Note. 14 March 2003. <http://web.cetlink.net/~firestar/hampton/note.htm>.
- The Waterbury Button Company. Highlights from History. 14 March 2003. <http://www.waterburybutton.com/detpages/aboutus29.shtml>.
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