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Windham County Connecticut
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EDWIN REYNOLDS, Mansfield, Conn. Edwin Reynolds, who spends his summers at the home of his youth, Mansfield, Tolland county, is most highly esteemed there as a worthy descendant of an old and honorable family of New England. William Reynolds, the remote ancestor, came from Plymouth, Mass., to Providence, R. I., in 1637, one year later than Roger Williams, and was one of the original purchasers of the land from the Narragansett Indians. He married Alice Kitson, in Open Court, of Massachusetts.
James Reynolds, son of William, died in Kingston, R. I., in 1700.
Joseph Reynolds, son of James, was born Nov. 27, 1652, and died in 1722, in North Kingston, R. I. His wife’s name was Susannah.
Samuel Reynolds, son of Joseph, was married Dec. 31, 1732, to Ann, daughter of Samuel Gardiner. Thomas Reynolds, son of Samuel, and great-grandfather of George H., was married Sept. 22, 1749, to Elizabeth Hopkins, who was born Sept. 22, 1729, a daughter of William and Mary (Tibbitts) Hopkins.
Samuel Reynolds, son of Thomas, and grandfather of Edwin Reynolds, was born Feb. 12, 1752, and lived in Frenchtown, R. I., and migrated to Eaton, New York, where he died. On Dec. 4, 1777, he married Amy Weaver, who was born Nov. 18, 1759, and who died near Buffalo. Their children were: Sally, Thomas, Betsey, Peleg, Selah, Christopher, Samuel, Jonathan, John H, Eleanor and William (twins) and Eunice. Of these, Sally married Andrew Moredock, a farmer who died in Killingly; she died in South Coventry, Conn. Thomas died in Kingston R. I.; in early life he was a seafaring man. Peleg married Mary Wells, and died in Mansfield, Conn. Samuel, a farmer and merchant, was the first agent at Danielsonville (now Danielson), Conn., of the old Norwich and Worchester railroad, and was killed by the cars, at the age of ninety years and two days. Jonathan was a farmer in Ashford, Conn., and died there. John H. was a tailor and died in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Christopher Reynolds, the father of Edwin, was born July 11, 1790, in Frenchtown, R.I., and spent his boyhood there. He was reared to farming. In 1810 he located in Mansfield, where he was employed by Mr. Tillinghast (who resided at the farm now owned by Steven C. Gardiner, between the Mansfield Depot and Eagleville), until his marriage. During the war of 1812 he was a member of the Mansfield militia, and he was one of the few men drafted from his company to go to New London to assist against a threatened invasion by the British.
After his marriage Mr. Reynolds moved to the fulling mill, a short distance south of the Tillinghast farm, on land now owned by his son Edwin, the old dam is still remaining, although the mill structure has been removed. There Mr. Reynolds engaged in cloth dressing, and also operated a small farm, and on this place ten of his twelve children were born. He continued the business until it ceased to be profitable, and then moved to Eagleville, where he assisted in the building of the first dam across the Willimantic river at that point. In time his former farm was purchased by his two sons, George H. and Edwin, and the parents returned and passed the remainder of their lives there, the mother dying Sept. 24, 1860, the father on July 21, 1871.
On Sept. 26, 1813, in Mansfield, Christopher Reynolds was united in marriage with Charissa Huntington, who was born in Mansfield March 5, 1794, daughter of Jonas and Rhoda (Baldwin) Huntington, both members of families prominent in Mansfield. Children were born to this marriage as follows: Adaline, born May 2,1814, married Jacob S. Eaton, and died in Indian Orchard, Mass. Melissa, born March 14, 1816, married Charles Shumway, and died in Mansfield. Elizabeth, born March 14, 1818, married (first) Asa Sanders, a clergyman, and (second) Benajah Gurnesy Roots, a civil engineer, who assisted in the construction of the Illinois Central Railroad and became prominent State school affairs in Illinois; she was killed in a runaway accident. Sarah H. born Jan. 31, 1820, married Fayette Barrows, and died in Mansfield. Julia, born Oct. 8, 1821, married Leander Derby, a comb manufacturer, who died in San Andreas, Cal.; she is now living in Brooklyn, N. Y. Glenn H., born Nov 25, 1823, married Elizabeth F. Eaton; he remained at home until of age, when he moved to Providence; spent ten years at Danielson, Conn., two years at Cranston, R. I., twenty years at Providence, engaged in the mill supply business , and returned to Mansfield in 1886; later he became a resident of Danielson. Jane, born July 9, 1826, died when a little over one year old. John D., born July 28, 1827, married Martha Slater for his first wife, and Mrs. White for his second; he is now postmaster at Andover, N. J. George H., born Feb. 8, 1829, is mentioned elsewhere. Edwin, born March 23, 1831, is mentioned below. Benjamin Franklin, born Jan. 29, 1833, married Amanda Hawkins; he has been chief engineer of the Omaha Water Works for the past seventeen years, and resides at Florence, Neb. Albert W., was born Dec. 11, 1835, married Rebecca Runion, and died in New York.
Edwin Reynolds, who for so many years has occupied a prominent position in the business world, especially in the field of mechanics, is a native of Mansfield. His literary education was acquired in the common schools, and , as the family was large he began work early, commencing as a farm hand. In the spring of 1847 he was asked by the owner of a machine shop, who had heard favorable reports of the boys industry, to serve an apprenticeship at the trade in his shop. He was plowing a field when the man came to him with the proposition. It was entirely unlooked for, but with the promptness which has been characteristic of him throughout life, young Reynolds at once accepted, and he began his new work within a very short time. His remuneration was $30 per year and board. Displaying remarkable aptitude, he was foreman of the shop before the expiration of his three years’ apprenticeship. Mr. Reynolds’s apprenticeship was served with Anderson P. Kinney, who made and repaired the machinery of the different textile mills in the locality (his widow, Mrs. Kinney, now resides in Tolland street), and after leaving him he entered the employ of Smith, Winchester & Co., at South Windham, who manufactured papermaking machinery, remaining with them a year. At the age of Twenty-one he was at the head of the stone-dressing machinery department of the Woodruff & Beach Iron Works, at Hartford, erecting ass well as building the machinery for quarrymen and stone contractors. He found employment in various shops in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Ohio, up to 1857, at which time he moved to Aurora, Ind., and became superintendent of the shops at that place, conducted by Stedham & Co. The principal work carried on in these shops was the building of engines, sawmills and drainage pumps for Mississippi River plantations. His work in these positions, though it may have appeared of no special importance at the time, had much to do with the broadening of his ideas, and provided a variety of experience which has had a noticeable bearing on his subsequence success. He was interested in steam engineering from the beginning, but not until he became connected with the Corliss works did he have scope for the display of his ability in that line.
The outbreak of the Civil war materially interfered with the business, and in the spring of 1861 Mr. Reynolds returned to Connecticut and until 1867 was engaged in various kinds of work – mechanical and engineering – in New York and Boston. In those days progress was slow, if sure, and it was not until the year last named that Mr. Reynolds made his first important step forward. In that year he became an engineer and salesman for George H. Corliss, the famous engine-maker, and so well did he demonstrate his ability in this wide field that by 1871 he had won promotion to the position of superintendent in general of the great Corliss Engine Works, at Providence, a position he retained until July 1, 1877, when he moved to Milwaukee, Wis. There he accepted the position of general manager and superintendent of the Reliance Works, of Edward P. Allis & Co., though this concern has since been consolidated with a number of other large establishments, being now known as the Allis Chalmers Co., Mr. Reynolds holding the position of consulting engineer. Perhaps there could be no better evidence of Mr. Reynolds’s ability as a mechanical engineer, and no less as a manager, than the remarkable growth and prosperity of the Reliance Works under his management. In the period that has elapsed since his connection therewith, the size of the works, the number of men employed and the value of the annual output have been more than quadrupled. From being an industry of mere local importance, the works have become one of the leading engineering establishments of the United States, enjoying, both at home and abroad, a well-deserved and enviable reputation for the high grade and superior excellence of their products. Mr. Reynolds has become known as the builder and designer of the largest stationary steam engines in the world, and he has supplied most of the large stationary steam engines in this country. Especially where enormous horse power is required. One pump which he built still holds the record, the one installed in Milwaukee some fourteen years ago, and which handles 500,000,000 gallons of water daily. Recently his establishment turned out engines for the new electric works of the New York elevated railway system (eight, each of twelve thousand horse power). New York elevated road, subway, surface roads in New York, and in England, Russia and all European countries.
Mr. Reynolds has accomplished many remarkable things in steam engineering, one of the most important branches of modern engineering, in which he ranks among the foremost of the world’s experts. He has demonstrated , what was before his successful attempt considered impossible, that it is feasible to build high-grade engines and introduce the very best mechanical work, and to make the venture commercially successful and financially gratifying in the West. His "Reynolds-Corliss" engine was the first of the kind to win success in the West, and the large number which are now in use, not only in the West, on the far Pacific coast, from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico, but also in the East, through Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as about 200 shipped to foreign countries, six being used to furnish power for the Central London Underground Railway, prove conclusively his high mechanical standing. Lack of space forbids an enumeration of his many successful engines; it is enough to say that those in use at the water works in Milwaukee, St. Paul, Omaha, Allegheny City and other places give perfect satisfaction, and to the last will soon be added the triple expansion engines for the cities of Albany and Chicago. The many large engines in the steam flour and saw mills, Western factories and Eastern cotton mills, the large hoisting engines and steam stamps in the Lake Superior and Montana mining regions; the blowing and rolling mill engines in Pittsburg, Birmingham, and other iron making centers, are all regarded as standards of high mechanical performance, unexcelled by any and rarely equaled.
One mechanical feat performed by Mr. Reynolds merits special attention. When he first entered the Corliss Works their engines, though then considered wonderful, were, compared with the products of the present day, very simple. Forty or fifty revolutions per minute, was the average speed; eighty was exceptionally high. During his time of service with the Corliss Company, he was called to Trenton, N. J., to arrange for gearing an engineto a train of rolls which were required to run 160 revolutions per minute. In looking the matter over, he came to the conclusion that the correct thing to do was to build an engine and couple it to the train direct without gears of any kind, and closed the contract for an engine to be coupled in this way, guaranteeing the same to work satisfactorily at 160 revolutions per minute. On his return to Providence, he reported what he had done to Mr. Corliss who exclaimed, "Why Mr. Reynolds, you are not going to undertake to run that engine at 160 revolutions per minute," to which Mr. Reynolds replied, "Yes, I have agreed to do this. It is better by far to run an engine in this way than to use the gears." Mr. Corliss then said, "You can have all the credit that goes with that kind of engineering, I want none of it." And it was for that engine that Mr. Reynolds designed the valve-gear which proved entirely successful at 160 revolutions per minute, and which he has so successfully used since that time on all engines of his designs.
One piece of work of which Mr. Reynolds may be mentioned as superintendent, was the engine installed at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, in 1876, which was started in motion by President Grant, after a speech by Gen. Hawley, chairman of the Exposition. Great as was this engine then regarded, it may be mentioned that the Manhattan L. engines now drive a load twelve times as great.
Mr. Reynolds has ever proved himself equal to emergencies, in fact, limitations apparently only spur him to increased effort. The blowing engines which he designed and built for Joliet (Ill.) Steel Works early in his Western experience, winning the contract in competition with first-class engineers from both home and abroad, widened the horizon perceptibly for the Allis Works. His last proof of this special faculty, however, probably surpasses all others – the construction of the electrical engines for the Manhattan "L" road. Many times during his connection with the Allis Works he had to overcome difficulties in construction, hampered in the earlier days by want of machinery of suitable size of make, and in this great
problem, though he was in competition with the foremost engineers of the world, men who had every opportunity and ambition to study and learn the highest achievements in their profession, he proved that his mind is as fresh and as prompt to act as in his younger days. There were many requirements which a man who had handled lesser enterprises would have deemed it impossible to meet; indeed, even those who had experience in that special line were not altogether certain that they could be met. Mr. Reynolds’s plans not only met with such approval from the "L" Company as to secure the Allis-Chalmers Company their contract, but also engaged the attention of interested parties to such an extent that large orders have come in to the firm as a result – a most substantial form of admiration and a genuine tribute to the worth of the machines and the confidence placed in their builder. In the building of the "L" electrical engines there were restrictions of space for the required 96,000 horse power not readily to be overcome. This difficulty Mr. Reynolds solved by dividing the area into eight equal parts, and then proceeded to build eight engines of 8,000 (minimum) horse power each; these engines have since developed energy to drive a load of 13,000 horse power each. The first was installed on New Year’s Day, 1902.
As an acknowledgement of superiority Mr. Reynolds could not have received a higher compliment than the one paid him last spring, on the occasion of Prince Henry of Prussia to America – his selection as one of the hundred men who have done most for the commercial progress of the country, who dined with the prince in New York. In addition to the duties of his position, he finds time for various other interests, and is a stockholder and director in various manufacturing enterprises, is president of the German-American Bank, the Milwaukee Boiler Co., the Central Improvement Co., the Badger State Long-Distance Telephone Co., and National Metal Trade Association, the West Allis Malleable Iron and Chain Belt Company, and the Northwestern Casualty Company. In political connection he has always adhered to the Republican party.
To his high standing as a mechanical engineer Edwin Reynolds adds a character for honesty and integrity, and he is regarded by all who have the honor of his acquaintance as in every sense a high-minded, thorough and representative selfmade man, worthy of universal esteem in every relation of life. It is a matter of congratulation to the residents of Mansfield that, in all his material success, Mr. Reynolds has retained an affection for his boyhood home and a desire to pass his declining years among the friends and scenes of his youth. He purchased a farm of 200 acres in the town of Mansfield, located one-half mile from Mansfield Depot, on which he has expended large sums in improvements, making it a most attractive home. He has since increased the area to over 600 acres, in the town of Mansfield. When he resigns the reins he has held so long, and shifts his great responsibilities to other shoulders, he will find a warm welcome awaiting him in the home of his boyhood.
On Sept. 28, 1853, Mr. Reynolds married Miss Mary A. Spencer, daughter of Christopher N. Spencer, of Mansfield, and to this union were born two children, both of whom died in infancy. They adopted a daughter (who came into their home at the age of eighteen months), who is now the wife of C. C. Robinson, of Mansfield Depot. Mrs. Reynolds father was born in Greenwich, R. I., came to Connecticut at the age of twenty-one years, and died in Mansfield. His wife was a native of Mansfield and died there. Some years ago the University of Wisconsin conferred on Mr. Reynolds the honorary degree of LL. D., and more recently honored him by placing his name in the frieze of their new engineering building – the only living engineer whose name there appears. These honors have all been fairly won, but their tender was highly appreciated by all his friends, as well as by himself. He was recently elected president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a position which he honors. Personally, Mr. Reynolds is a man of very regular and simple habits; he rises at seven in the morning, drives to work at eight, and retires early.
Submitted by:
Linda D. Pingel

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