Penfield, William Allen


  William Allen Penfield, a contractor for the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company and the president of the Penfield Manufacturing Company, possesses marked inventive skill and ingenuity that has resulted in the winning of more than thirty patents upon his inventions. He comes of a family that is distinctively American in its lineal and collateral branches through many generations.

  He was born March 30, 1852, in New Britain, Connecticut, his parents being Lemuel and Caroline (Allen) Penfield. An early member of the New Haven colony was Nathaniel Penfield, who settled at Wallingford, where he passed away in January, 1776. To him and his wife, Hannah, was born a son to whom they gave the name of Nathaniel and who became a farmer of what is now Meriden. On the 9th of June, 1755, he wedded Lydia Barnes and following his death, which occurred in Meriden, May 18, 1777, his widow became the wife of Jeremiah H. Osgood, her death occurring January 31, 1811, when she was seventy-six years of age. Phineas Penfield, son of Nathaniel and Lydia Penfield, was born June 6, 1756, and enlisted at Farmington, Connecticut, as a private soldier for service in the Continental army, with which he was connected for twelve months and twenty-three days. On the 9th of April, 1778, he married Lucy Osgood, whose parents were Jeremiah H. and Lucy (Churchill) Osgood. He died in Hartford county, Connecticut, March 28, 1834, when seventy-seven years of age.

  Phineas Penfield, son of Phineas Penfield, Sr., was born October 18, 1785, and his life record compassed almost sixty years, his death occurring August 3, 1845. On the 25th of November, 1812, he married Ruth Judd Hart, who was born May 3, 1793, her father being Linus Hart, of Farmington. This couple became the parents of Lemuel Penfield, the father of William Allen Penfield.

  Lemuel Penfield was born in New Britain and had reached the age of fifty-six years when death called him in 1876. In his youthful days he secured a position with the Stanley Rule & Level Company, with which he continued for several years. He was the first policeman appointed under the city government of New Britain and remained a member of the police force until his demise. He first wedded Caroline Allen and they became the parents of four children, the eldest of whom  died in infancy, the others being Henry B., William A. and Caroline. The sister married Spencer Page and became a resident of New Britain. For his second wife Lemuel Penfield chose Miss Hattie Terrell. He was a devoted member of the Congregational church and was an earnest advocate of republican principles from the organization of the party.

  William Allen Penfield, whose name introduces this record, was a public school pupil in New Britain, Connecticut, his native city, and there passed through consecutive grades to his graduation from the high school. He was a lad of fourteen when he became an employe of the Stanley Rule & Level Company in the rule department and there remained for twelve years. He afterward came to Meriden, where he accepted a position with the Meriden Britannia Company in the German silver department and remained in that capacity for three years. He then returned to New Britain, where he was employed in a lock shop for a year, but at the end of that time he accepted a position in the brass department of the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company as a contractor. He has since continued with this concern, covering a period of thirty-four years. In 1915 he organized the Penfield Manufacturing Company, of which he is the president. This company is engaged in the manufacture of the Penfield spot light with combination bracket. No expense has been spared in the production of this light, no solder or other material liable to weaken or decrease the length of its durability being used. Experienced mechanics and electricians have given their best thought and ingenuity to the construction of the light, with the result that lamps have been produced and are ready for the market which possess the best features of any yet shown. The radiance of the light and the shape of the parabola renders possible the throwing of the rays a distance of nine hundred feet. A special feature of these lamps is their new struck steel combination bracket, which is so arranged that by turning the thumb screw one may lift the lamp out of the bracket and by means of extra length of cord use it as a trouble light. The plant of the Penfield Manufacturing Company has twenty-four hundred square feet of floor space and there are eight employes. Possessing marked mechanical skill and ingenuity, Mr. Penfield has brought forth more than thirty inventions which are now patented, all of these patents taken out under contract work with the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company. Among the patents is one for a drop tube for lamp wick, a bicycle bell, a reflector for bicycle lamps, an indicator for lamp fount, a bicycle lamp, a flame extinguisher for lamp, two patents of piano lamp extension of which over eighteen thousand were sold in one year, a wick raiser, a lamp burner, a wick stop, a bicycle frame, a hobble for horses and two shock absorbers. Mr. Penfield also perfected the famous Standard oil stove, of which over two and a half million have been sold.

  On the 16th of October, 1874, occurred the marriage of Mr. Penfield and Miss Sarah Briggs, who was born in New Brunswick, Canada, her parents being Eben and Mehitable (Taylor) Briggs. The marriage, however, was celebrated in New Britain and to them were born four children: Harry Briggs, who died in early life; Mattie May, who became the wife of Lorenzo T. Fuller; William Lemuel; and Charles Larkin, who died in 1917. The surviving son, William L., married Flora Smith and has two children, Esther and Gertrude. He is now with the Winchester Arms Company of New Haven and is an erector and lathe setter.

  Mr. Penfield is a man of genuine worth, fearless in the expression of his honest convictions, active in support of all measures which he believes to be right. He gave his political allegiance to the democratic party for many years but in 1901 became convinced that issues advocated by the republican party were of more importance and joined its ranks. In 1896 he was elected on the democratic ticket as alderman from the third ward of Meriden and was chairman of the claims committee. In 1899 he was appointed a member of the board of public works and continued to act in that position for sixteen years, making a most creditable record, as is indicated by his long continuance in the position. He was also fire commissioner for one year. He is well known in fraternal circles, holding membership in Myrtle Lodge, No. 6, K. P.; in Meriden Lodge, No. 35, B. P. O. E.; in Montowese Tribe, I. O. R. M.; and in Silver City Lodge, O. U. A. M.

  His pronounced qualities are such as have won for him high regard wherever he is known and most of all where he is best known. He holds friendship inviolable, is loyal and patriotic in citizenship and true to every obligation that devolves upon him, while as a business man his inventive genius has contributed much toward the upbuilding of this section of the state and its conversion into a great manufacturing center.

Modern History of New Haven
Eastern New Haven County


Volume II

New York Chicago
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 

pgs 640 - 642

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Elaine Kidd O'Leary &
Anne Taylor-Czaplewski
May 2002