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William Douglas 







William Douglas (1812-1874) was the eldest son of William Douglas, of Northford, Conn., and was born in Branford, Conn., April 19th 1812, brother to Benjamin and Joseph.

It is the boast of Virginia that she has produced more presidents than any State in the Union, but the State of Connecticut has a nobler, grander record than this. In war she has given the ablest generals and the best soldiers; in peace she has given the ablest jurists, statesmen, and divines, and, what is of equal if not of greater importance, she is the parent of those industries and inventions that have added more to the wealth of the country than those of any State in the Union. The first manufacture of woolen goods by machinery, the first practical application of steam as a motive power, were conceived and developed by Connecticut men; and the first successful manufacture of metal pumps in this country was by William Douglas, of Middletown.

As a child he evinced a taste for mechanical inventions, and he left home when quite young to join his brother John, who was carrying on a brass foundry and machine works at New Haven. He soon acquired a knowledge of the business, and subsequently went to Hartford where he remained for about a year. In 1832, he came to Middletown and commenced the manufacture of steam engines and other machinery in connection with W. H. GUILD, under the firm name of GUILD & DOUGLAS. This firm built all the brass and iron work for Fort Pulaski, at Savannah. He continued in this business for about six years, and during this period he received the first patent for pumps, which was granted on the 20th of August 1835, signed by Andrew JACKSON, president of the United States.

In connection with his brother Benjamin, he commenced, in 1839, the manufacture of pumps and hydraulic rams, and soon after this invented the celebrated revolving stand premium pump. One invention and improvement followed another, the active brain of William DOUGLAS being continually at work, never tiring, never resting. As soon as the brain conceived an invention it was immediately brought forth by the mechanical genius of the man and put to a practical test. The productions of his genius are know known in every part of the habitable globe, and though he has long sinced passed to his rest he has left an enduring monument to his name.

He was quiet and unostentatious in his demeanor, modest and retiring in his habits, devoted to his family, kind and charitable to his neighbors, and his purse string were ever open to relieve the wants of the suffering and the unfortunate.

On the 12th of April 1835, he married Grace, daughter of Elias and Grace Totten Mansfield Parker, and niece of Major-General Joseph K. Mansfield, by whom he had two children: William, born May 19th 1836, died September 1st 1836; Joseph W., born January 29th 1838.

His first wife died on the 19th of February 1840; and on the 12th day of May 1845, he married Catharine C., daughter of Capt. Allen Riley, of Wethersfield, by whom he had five children; George Totten, born February 14th 1846; Grace C., born May 18th 1848; Mary A., born August 9th 1850; Ellen, born October 22d 1852; Sarah Kirtland, born May 20th 1857.

George Totten Douglas was for many years connected with the mechanical department of W. & B. Douglas, and one of the most valuable assistants. He was a prominent mason, an earnest and active temperance man, constantly seeking some means of doing good, and contributing to the happiness of others. He died on the 30th of May 1874, mourned by a large circle of friends.

Ellen was married on the 2nd of October 1872, to S. Clarence, son of Dr. P. M. Hastings, of Hartford.

Mary A. was married to Jonathan B., son of Jonathan Kilbourn of Middletown, September 2nd 1873.

Sarah Kirtland was married, on the 6th of June 1877, to George P. Raymond, of Lockport, N. Y.

Grace C. was married to Charles B., son of J. E. Bidwell, of Middletown, on the 6th of June 1872.


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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024