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Early Glastonbury Industry

Glastonbury has a rich history that was shaped largely by its early industries.
 

Glastonbury and the Sea

by Richard Inman

Help us explore Glastonbury's long and successful relationship with ships and the sea.


More than 270 vessels were built here that plied the Connecticut River, America's Atlantic coast and routinely called on ports in the West Indies. An exquisite scale model of the Exact, also known as the Seattle Mayflower, a locally built schooner that sailed around cape horn to the North West Territory, is on display at the Museum on the green. The immigrants carried by the Exact were instrumental in the founding of Seattle, Washington.

The Town provided captains and crew as well as financing for a host of these ships, as well as many built elsewhere along the Connecticut River. Some of the privateers that preyed on British ships during the American Revolution were built in Glastonbury and owned by Glastonbury families who also provided crew members as well as financing.

In addition to shipbuilding an anchor works once operated here supplying ground tackle to local as well as other ships of the time.

If you are interested in learning more about Glastonbury's proud nautical heritage please contact Jim at the Museum (633-6890) or Dick Inman after March (633-1685) as we are forming a special interest group which will focus on this exciting part of our history.

The Nestor

by Lin Scarduzio (Curator)

Roswell Hollister had a great ability to command capital. Not only was he an influential man in Glastonbury, he built ships for Hartford merchants who promoted everything important in Hartford: trade with the Indies, banks, insurance companies, the bridge across the Connecticut River at Hartford, and the toll channel that paralleled the river from Middletown to Hartford. He employed three sea captains, who operated the ships built at his shipyard until each was sold to a new owner.

From 1785 until around 1823, his shipyard at Log Landing in South Glastonbury was one of the largest industries in the area, keeping shipsmiths and anchor forges busy. He is reputed to have built "100 sail of ships" in total. A launching of three new ships in one day, which was unprecedented and never matched, brought thousands of people to watch. There was cider, rum, and other refreshments for the shipbuilders, their wives , and other celebrants.

Roswell's last ship, and perhaps one of his finest was the Nestor. The Nestor was a brigantine: "a two masted, square-rigged vessel, differing from a brig in that she does not carry a square mainsail." She was "copper sheathed, broad of beam, and a thing of beauty". Her spikes were brass to prevent rusting. The Nestor was expected to be a great vessel.

The Nestor set sail on her maiden voyage in 1823. At her helm was Captain Caleb Elizah Hollister, Roswell's twenty-nine-year-old son. In her hold were the agricultural products that Glastonbury and neighboring towns produced. Around Cape Horn she intended to sail, planning to trade her cargo along the way.

A small newspaper clipping in the archives of the historical Society reads, "...May 19, lat. 34, 54, long 71, fell with a wreck, bottom up, which proved to be the brig Nestor, of Hartford---cut a hole through her bottom, and got out 7 bls. of damaged flour----she had flour, lard, sperm candles, butter, &c. drifting about the hold---was copper fastened, and appeared to be a new vessel..." She had sailed only as far as Cape Hatteras. All on board were lost. Only a spike was to be saved from the Nestor. It was retrieved by Roswell Hollister's son-in-law, Jedidiah Post and returned to Glastonbury. It is part of the Ship Building Exhibit at the Museum on the Green.

Roswell Hollister ceased building ships. Timber had become scarce and difficult to get. The Town of Glastonbury had passed ordinances preventing its waste. The hub of shipbuilding moved down the Connecticut to Haddam and Saybrook.

 

The Aviator

          Frank Herbert “Bert” Harriman was born in 1868 in East Orland, Maine.  He was an avid reader with a photographic memory and a knack for mechanics.  At 19 years old, he left Maine to find work in the industrial town of Brockton, Massachusetts.  There, he met a man who, recognizing Harriman’s ability, secured a position for him in Thomas Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

            In 1898, Harriman left Menlo Park to work at Hartford Hospital with Dr. Ansel Cook, a pioneer in the medical use of  X-rays.  At this time, Harriman developed an arc light, and sold all of the rights to his invention to the General Electric Company for $10,000.  With the money, he started Harriman Motors, a Hartford firm that manufactured marine motors.

            In 1907, Harriman moved his firm to 1123 Main Street in South Glastonbury, a building he bought from the Taylor family, along with a house for himself, his wife, Bertha, and their daughter, Gladys.  The new location was less expensive than comparable space in Hartford and was paid for, in part, by mortgaging the property.

            Harriman was fascinated by the work of the Wright brothers, and by 1909, he had built and flown his own “aero plane.”  The fuselage and propellers were made in South Glastonbury at Taylor’s sawmill and cooperage.  Doug Taylor, a cabinet maker, carved the propellers from laminated layers of wood.  Harriman experimented with several fabrics for the skin of the aircraft, including rubberized Goodyear cloth and silk which was doped and varnished.  Finally, he used unbleached linen, woven 60-70 threads to the inch.  It was pulled taut over the frame and then shellacked or varnished.  The skin was two layers of cloth with wire reinforcement between.  It was finished with coats of linseed oil giving it a yellowish appearance.

            In his foundry, Harriman cast bearings of brass and bronze.  His slogan was: “Raw Material to Finished Product in one factory.”  When Harriman’s planes would not fly because of overheated bearings, he tried coating them with silver.  According to legend, Bertha canvassed the neighborhood to purchase silver for her husband’s bearings.  Harriman’s daughter, Gladys, remembered the silver being bought from a company on Elm Street in Hartford.  Years later, Pratt & Whitney solved its own overheating problems with silver coated bearings.

            Harriman’s first plane crashed in the meadows in South Glastonbury and had to be repaired there.  By 1910, Harriman was flying in the South Windsor meadows.  By 1915, he flew in an air show in Minneola, New York.  He gave flying lessons in the Glastonbury meadows.

            Around 1910, Harriman built the concrete and steel building that still stands at 1123 Main Street.  It was the first factory built specifically for the manufacture of airplanes in Connecticut, and Harriman Motors was the state’s first commercial airplane manufacturer.  The wood frame building where Harriman started manufacturing in Glastonbury was demolished in 1932.

            Harriman, who had arrived in Glastonbury in 1907, had started building “aero planes” here in 1909.  But it was not until 1914 that he had a four-ox team haul his first seaplane, its wings detached, to Log Landing for a flight test.  It crashed on the breakwater near Red Hill, but nonetheless, it drew favorable attention to Harriman Motors.

            That year a federal government inspector came to look into the developing hydroplane.  It had a wingspan of 32 feet, and Harriman claimed it would lift 2,000 pounds which included fuel, operator, a small machine gun, and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.  It had two seats, dual controls, and armor.  Harriman believed that he had a commitment from the Navy for 20 of these seaplanes, but that never materialized.

            Besides aircraft, Harriman Motors had for sale airplane engines--30, 50, and 100 horsepower models.  It also continued selling its original product, marine engines.  Harriman increased the size of both his plant and his workforce in anticipation of selling the Navy engines for torpedo boats.

            Mr. Huen Chi from China came to observe the factory and the hydroplane experiments.  He stayed in the Harriman home.  Prices and specifications for the 100 horsepower aircraft engines were requested by Russia and sent.  Mr. D. A. Thomas, a purchasing agent from Europe, met with Harriman to negotiate a $500,000 contract to purchase 125 planes for England and 30 for France.  However, no firm orders ever materialized.

            The Harriman  Motors logo included a winged gear with the letters “H F” on it.  The “F” is for Mr. Fitzpatrick, a company officer who lived with the Harrimans for a time and may have helped with product design.  His employment ended when he was believed to have stolen equipment worth $3,000 from Harriman Motors.

            In addition to his work on marine and aircraft engines, Harriman held a single patent, granted in 1920, for a fuel economizer for automobiles.  It was manufactured in Essex, Connecticut.  For early aircraft and aircraft engine manufacturers, the most significant patents were held by the Wright brothers who were demanding large licensing fees from anyone attempting to sell planes or plane engines for profit.

            Enlarging his plant and workforce overextended Harriman.  Claiming that Harriman’s motors were useless, Albert Oulette, a customer from Sanford, Maine, sued him for $1,000.  There were other lawsuits, including one for $37.50 due on the company typewriter.  Heavily in debt, Harriman reorganized his company with Joe Pratt of Hartford.

            Pratt was to manage the business, leaving Harriman free to develop engines, but capital remained scarce.  Harriman tried to convince the superintendent of Cheshire Correctional Institute to have inmates produce planes as part of a machinist’s training program, but this did not materialize.  On May 13, 1921, Harriman filed for bankruptcy in Hartford Superior Court and left Connecticut for Long Island.  There he sold some of his ideas for manufacturing aircraft to a company that put them into profitable practice.

            Before he left Glastonbury, Bert Harriman had built and flown a bi-plane, a tri-plane, and a hydroplane.  His were the first planes built in Connecticut, making him, in spite of his financial difficulties, an acknowledged aviation pioneer.

 

The Peach King

            In 1866, John Howard “J. H.” Hale and his brother, George, planted their first strawberries on a sandy hillside on the family’s 200 year-old Glastonbury farm.  Using a push cart borrowed from a neighbor, which they later purchased for one dollar, they had modest success selling their berries.  When it became apparent that more money was needed to buy the plants and fertilizer necessary to raise their income, 14-year-old J. H. took a job at a neighboring farm milking cows twice a day, 7 days a week, for $12.50 per month.

            J. H. also assisted in selling the milk door to door from a milk wagon.  In season, vegetables from the dairy farmer’s garden were also sold from the milk wagon.  Except for buying a good suit of clothes and his first store-bought overcoat, J.H. invested all of the money that he earned in the business he and his brother were building.  When the neighbors warned their mother that the boys were ruining her best planting ground with their briar patch of raspberry bushes, she was polite but did not stop the boys from planting more.

            J. H. and George learned that fruits brought larger profits than vegetables, that healthy plants could be sold for a profit, that a catalogue with good pictures and descriptions of the fruit plants could sell more plants, and that fruit packaged to please the eye could bring a higher price than the same fruit packaged less carefully.

            Growing peaches commercially had been abandoned in New England because disease and frost frequently killed the trees before they reached fruit-bearing age.  J. H. and George noticed a small grove of their grandfather’s peaches trees.  These trees were over 70 years old.  They produced fruit and did not suffer from the “yellows.”  From these trees, J. H. and George developed their first orchard.

            For seven years, the orchard produced nothing.  Revenues from berries carried the farm.  When a May freeze killed the strawberry crop, a church group comprised mostly of tobacco growers that held the $2,000 mortgage on the farm, gave the Hales until October to pay.  By September, their new peach orchard finally produced, as the brothers hoped it would.  The crop brought $9,000.

            By 1915, Hale Farms had grown from a borrowed pushcart business to 2,000 acres in Glastonbury and Seymour, Connecticut, and 1,000 acres in Georgia.  They had over 350,000 peach trees under cultivation.  At harvest time, peaches were shipped in railroad freight cars each evening via a trolley spur here in Glastonbury for delivery before dawn in New York City.

            Hale peaches were shipped all over the country, and J. H. became a pioneer in nationwide produce marketing.  He was the first to grade his fruit so that a crate held the same size peaches all the way to the bottom.  Not only are the Hale variety of peaches still available, but Hale peach trees have been used to create some of the hybrid fruit sold today.

            Although J. H. never went beyond grade school, he understood the value of knowledge and education.  He helped found the Glastonbury Grange and the Connecticut State Grange.  He also helped establish the Storrs Agricultural College, which we know today as the University of Connecticut.

 

The Father of the Modern Poultry Industry

            Frank Saglio arrived in Glastonbury from Italy in about 1900.  He took a job in the J. H. Hale orchards and worked his way up to foreman, supervising other Italian immigrants.  By 1917, he had earned enough money to buy his own farm on John Tom Hill.  There, he raised vegetables and fruit for market and, in two discarded piano crates, chickens for his family’s use.

            As Frank’s sons reached an age where they could assume some responsibility, each was encouraged to develop a farming specialty.  His oldest son took on vegetables.  His second son took on the fruits.  Frank’s farm came to be known as Arbor Acres.

            When Frank’s third son, Henry, reached the 8th grade, the chickens were all that was left, although as some remember it, Henry chose chickens because he did not like working in the sun.  Henry earned an electrician’s license and built the first real chicken coup for the farm.  The flock grew.  When the vegetables and fruits went to market, eggs went with them.  To make his operation more efficient, Henry began trying to breed a white bird, because black pinfeathers were difficult to pluck from a bird headed for the dinner table.

            Prior to World War II, broiler chickens were a by-product of the egg industry.  Female chickens produce eggs.  Males do not, so they became the broilers, also called “spring chickens” because most of the hatching occurred early in the year.  The war caused meat shortages.  Because chickens reached eating size more quickly than beef or pork, poultry became a more important source of food.

            To stimulate production in the poultry industry, the government and food distributors held a competition sponsored by A&P, then the nation’s largest food supermarket chain, to find “the chicken of tomorrow.”   State and local officials urged Henry to enter.  Reluctantly, he agreed.  Arbor Acres was already the largest cauliflower producer in Connecticut.

            In 1948, Henry Saglio’s Arbor Acre White Rocks were judged second best chicken in the nation, the highest rank achieved by any purebred.  When the three-year competition was held for the second time, the same farmers, including Arbor Acres, won again.

            At that time, Henry hired as his own agent the man who had done the marketing for “the chicken of tomorrow” competition.  White chickens were unpopular as food because the color was associated with Leghorns, a good egg producing bird, but a poor eating hen.  Henry and his agent convinced processors of the benefits of the new white eating chickens, and the processors began demanding them.  There was only one source of good white eating hens--Arbor Acres.

            By 1950, Arbor Acres was marketing breeding hens coast to coast, both as day-old chicks and as fertile eggs to be incubated by chicken farmers.  Because of the difficulty in shipping fragile goods, branches of Arbor Acres were established across the United States.  By 1958, Arbor Acres had gone world-wide with its headquarters still in Glastonbury.  About half of the

chickens being consumed around the world were from Arbor Acres breeding stock.

            Arbor Acres was one of the first firms to use genetic engineering to develop chickens that were meatier, matured more quickly, and laid more eggs.  In 1977, Henry Saglio was inducted into the Poultry Hall of Fame.

 

The Pigskin Tannery

             In 1695, shortly after Glastonbury became an independent town, Kasper Roser left his home in what is now Strasburg, France in search of religious freedom.  He moved both his family and his tanning business to Stuttgart, Germany.  Seven generations later, his descendents were still known for the high quality of the leather they tanned.

            Herman, the seventh son in that seventh generation, saw no future for himself in Stuttgart.  There were too many brothers ahead of him, and traditionally, the oldest inherited the family business.  A cousin, who had been selling leather in England and Scotland, found that particularly the Scots thought the best quality pigskin came from America.  After much discussion, Herman’s father allowed him to cross the ocean to the land “overrun with Indians and gun-toting criminals.”

            In 1883, Herman came to America.  He had learned every job in the family tannery, from the most menial to the most skilled, and had worked in other tanneries across Europe.  With his solid experience, Herman had no trouble finding work in an American tannery, but he wanted to open his own tanning business.  He looked for an established tannery with good sources of pure water, oak bark for its tannin, and pigs.

            In 1854, Isaac Broadhead and Edward Hubbard had established a tannery in Glastonbury.  Hubbard had died in 1872, and by 1886, Broadhead was ready to sell the tannery.  It used water from nearby Neipsic pools; oak trees grew well on Glastonbury’s hillsides; and Glastonbury was a farm town with lots of pigs.  Herman bought the tannery in Glastonbury.

            When Herman Roser took over, the only machinery used was a water-powered bark grinder.  As time passed, the operation went from water power, to steam, to electricity.  New machines were used.  Herman’s sons, John and Martin, joined the business.The common practice was to dump industrial wastes into brooks or ponds.  Because tanning requires pure water, the Roser tannery developed its own research department.  In 1942, Roser’s Tannery received one of the first awards from the Connecticut Riverside Council for water purification research.  By 1949, Rosers had one of the most complete systems for disposal of tannery wastes in America with a capacity of 100,000 gallons per day.

            Roser’s leather was used to make saddles for the U.S. Cavalry, upholstery for Pierce Arrow limousines, watch bands, book bindings, and many other items.  In 1965, when Rosers was sold to Allied Kid Corporation, Herman Roser was recognized as one of the founders of modern pigskin processing in the United States.

 

James Killam, the Plane Maker

by Edward C. Swift

Note: Mr. Swift, a professional engineer, enjoys woodworking and collecting antiques.  These interests led him to study the Killam family, particularly James Killam, who was a successful Glastonbury maker of wooden planes during the early days of the Republic.

Wooden Planes

The first European settlers in New England brought axes and saws to use in constructing their earliest buildings. They also brought with them an appreciation for artistic elements, and some knew how to create ornamental woodwork.  With an ample supply of wood in New England, it was not long before decorative elements were being incorporated into locally-made houses, furniture, ships, and tools.

 

Wooden planes were a key tool used in finishing woodwork.  A wooden plane can be thought of as a specialized metal knife mounted in an exact position in a block or body.  Today these bodies are made of metal, but until the mid-nineteenth century, they were usually made of wood.  

 

With a plane that holds a straight metal blade, a craftsmen can create a smooth finish by passing the tool over a rough wooden surface with the blade set to shave off thin strips of the surface (wood shavings).  This leaves a surface that is smoother and more regular than a wood finish created with a saw, broadax, adz, or handheld knife.

 

 A specially shaped plane with a shaped blade (called a molding plane) can be used to create a particular shape for banisters, moldings, or other decorated surfaces.  Different shaped planes create different shaped moldings and other ornamental elements. 

 

This is about the Killams of South Glastonbury, particularly the family members who were expert makers of wooden planes.

 

Migration

Our story starts in Dennington, Suffolk, England in 1637, when Austin Killam, his wife Alice, and their children sailed from Yarmouth, England and to Salem, Massachusetts.  They were part of a migration during the 1630s organized by the Massachusetts Bay Company.  It moved over 20,000 Englishmen and women to New England on the first of a great series of convoys, this one utilizing about 200 ships. The leading settlers were outstanding Puritans, like John Winthrop.  Although many were seeking economic opportunities and not focused only on religion, this was considered the Puritan migration.

 

The newly arrived Killam family settled in Wenham, Massachusetts.  In time, their three sons left Wenham seeking their own land and opportunities.  One of the sons, John Killam, and his wife Hannah Pickford settled in Preston, Connecticut.  Their son, Samuel, married Elizabeth Rose of Preston and in time acquired the Rose family farm land.  Samuel, while operating his farm, also did some part-time carpentry which may have included making wooden planes, a trade that his descendents are known to have engaged in.  Samuel had a son and a grandson, each named Samuel.  The son and grandson made wooden planes and sold them to furniture makers and others in and around New London County.

 

According to New London County Furniture published by the Lyman Allyn Museum, there were at least 50 cabinetmakers in New London, 40 in Norwich, and 12 in Preston, at the time of the American Revolution.  Many of the customers for furniture made by these craftsmen probably lived outside the immediate New London area because, according to a 1774 census, New London, the region’s primary city, had only 5,888 residents.

 

The American Revolution was hard on New London.  In the summer of 1781 the Minerva, an American privateer out of New London, captured the British ship, Hanna, with its rich cargo, including personal supplies for the British officers stationed in New York City.  In retaliation, at sunrise on September 6, 1781, a British force of about 800, led by Benedict Arnold, a native of Norwich, Connecticut, attacked and laid ruin to New London.  Not only were large stockpiles of goods and naval stores destroyed, but 143 buildings were burned, as were many ships and all of the city’s wharfs.

 

It took years before New London recovered as a thriving commercial center.  In the meantime, the many cabinetmakers and carpenters located along the Thames River, who had depended on New London as their commercial hub, had to rely on their farms for a living or relocate.  These included the 12 cabinetmakers in Preston, Connecticut.

 

It was the original Samuel Killam’s great grandson, Lyman, who came with his sons, James and Samuel, to South Glastonbury.  Early records not only make it possible to trace the family in both England and colonial America, but they also provide some insights into the life of the family.  For instance, the will dated November 14, 1754 of Captain Samuel Killam, the second of the Samuel Killams discussed here, provides in part as follows:

“To wife Elizabeth Killam, one third of the moveables and use of all the real estate till grandson Samuel Killam shall arrive to the age of 21 years and the use on one half of the real estate during her lifetime.

“To son Samuel Killam, my wearing apparel, my gun, one half of my farming and carpentering tools, to be delivered to him when my grandson Samuel Killam is 21, which with what I have already given, is his portion.

“To beloved grandson Samuel Killam, my freehold estate on which I now dwell it being a tract of land given to me and my wife Elizabeth by our honored father Mr. Thomas Rose late of Preston, deceased, and one half of the farming and carpentering tools when 21.”

 

In making this will, Captain Samuel Killam could not foresee that, because of a revolution, his beloved grandsons would find it necessary to leave the property in Preston to seek better opportunities elsewhere.

 

Life in Glastonbury

By 1816, James Killam, who had come to South Glastonbury with his father, Lyman, and brother, Samuel, was prosperous enough to purchase from Luther Goodrich the home at what today is 202 Ferry Lane.  It is known now as the Goodrich-Killam House.  This house, which dates from about 1760, came with 1¾ acres of land on what was then called the Rocky Hill Ferry Highway.  From 1826 to 1835, James Killam made nine additional purchases of adjacent land.  As a result, his home stood on a contiguous 42-acre tract.

 

According to Killam family records, when James Killam bought the house, he, his brother, Samuel, and father, Lyman, brought their wives and all their worldly belongings by boat from Preston, Connecticut to settle in South Glastonbury.  Like most other rural New England residents at that time, James Killam farmed and engaged in other businesses.  In his case the business was making wooden planes and woodworking.

 

In 1866, his son James L. Killam posted a $1,000 performance bond with the towns of Glastonbury and Rocky Hill obligating him to construct and operate a steam ferry for a ten-year period.  This was on the famous Glastonbury-Rocky Hill ferry run, which is still in operation today and recognized as the longest continually running ferry service in the nation.

 

When the elder James Killam died in 1878, records show that in addition to his farm and other real estate holdings, his estate included a feldspar mine and a shop with a wood turning lathe.  That lathe is said to have been used to turn spokes for wagon wheels.  While there is no known record that James Killam ran a tavern, the Goodrich-Killam House apparently once served that purpose.

 

By engaging simultaneously in a number of enterprises, James Killam was a typical New Englander.  Inhabited by such industrious people, it is no wonder that New England, during this period, became known for the outstanding enterprise of its inhabitants.

 

The peak period for the manufacture of Killam wooden planes in South Glastonbury was from about 1800 to 1825.  Beginning in 1840, plane manufacturing companies began to replace family plane making shops.  The elder James Killam passed away on May 24, 1878.  The shop where the family made molding planes was destroyed by the 1936 flood.  However, much of his property still exists in South Glastonbury, including the Hollister House, which the older James Killam had purchased for use by his relatives.  It is the oldest house still standing in Glastonbury.

 

Killam Planes

Typical of early 19th century craftsmen, James Killam and his family operated a plane making shop, creating planes required by shipbuilders and housewrights in the Glastonbury area.  The shop produced at least 21 plane types in various sizes.  For good reasons, the plane size was always stamped on the plane body’s rear, while the maker’s trademark was always embossed on the plane’s front toe.

 

Carpenter tool chests of the period were traditionally organized with each molding plane standing on its toe, exposing its back so that the carpenter could see the plane size and its cutting configuration.  Once the correct plane was located, it could be lifted out of the chest without disturbing the 50 or so other planes all being stored there in an organized way.

 

The fanciest of the Killam’s five trademarks is shown below.  These marks served to identify and advertise their products.

 

Planes made in the prolific Killam shop included hollows and rounds, complex molding planes, tongue and groove planes, and beading planes.  To gain an appreciation for the capabilities of wooden planes, visit the Welles-Shipman-Ward House to observe its architectural decorations that were shaped by hand using wooden planes.  While there, you also can see some of the planes themselves and wood shaped using those planes, all in an exhibit on the top floor of the Eastbury Barn.

 

The Killam plane business grew rapidly with Glastonbury shipbuilding and peaked during the War of 1812.  A few decades later, it began to suffer from competition associated with the industrial revolution.  In about 1840, plane making moved from small shops to factories.  By about 1855, metal planes were being patented by men like Leonard Bailey whose company was later acquired by the Stanley Company.

 

Although the Killams who made Killam planes and those who used them are long gone, many of the planes still exist.  Glastonbury’s Historical Society has several on display on the top floor of the Eastbury Barn at the Welles-Shipman-Ward property, 972 Main Street, South Glastonbury.  There is also an extensive collection on display at the Manchester Historical Society Museum in Manchester, Connecticut.

 

The standard text for identifying the trademarks of  early plane makers is Pollak’s A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes.  It lists the trademarks of James Killam and other 19th century plane makers.

 

To estimate when a particular plane was made, it is important to know that the name “Glastonbury,” which sometimes appears on these planes, was officially changed from “Glastenbury” by a town vote in 1870.  Trademarks also incorporated the Masi Treaty Shield of 1825.  Its use was discontinued in 1871.

 

The planes on exhibit at the Manchester Historical Society Museum are marked “S. Killum” and were made by James Killam’s brother, Samuel, in about 1840.  We know this because these planes match the wedge profile and length (nine and ½ inches) of James Killam planes.  From a Killam family history, we know that the name “S. Killum” for Samuel Killam was used on the planes made by the early Killams in Preston.  It was 1/8 of an inch high by 13/32 of an inch long.  Later the Killams used the “J. Killam” mark which was 5/32 of an inch high by 13/32 of an inch long.  Although these planes have the older “S. Killam” mark, we know by their size and design that they were made later by James’ brother, Samuel, using an embossed mark passed down from family members who had lived in Preston.

 

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Mr. Henry Killam of South Glastonbury, who provided insights about James Killam’s shop and family properties.  Thanks also to the Megson family for granting access to a helpful Killam family genealogy.

 

The Early American Industry Association (EAIA), Antique Tools & Trades in Connecticut (ATTIC), and the Society for the Preservation and Study of American Wooden Planes made it possible to notify collectors of the census conducted by the author.  Thanks to them and to the following dedicated tool collectors who responded: George Armstead family, Bruce Bradley, Rennie Carroll, William L. Curtis, Andy A. D’Elia, Dick Dickerson, Thomas Elliott, Eric Gannicott, Bruce Hassan, Peter Hathaway, Historical Society of Glastonbury, Craig Jensen, Frank D. Johnson, Daniel Korngiebel, David Lemieux, Manchester Historical Society, Peter and Trish Manfredi, William Martin, Don Nesslage, Carl Plassman, Pierre Rubbens, Bud Steere Auction, Sam Strauss, Jr., Charles Watson, and John M. Whelan.

 

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