Alanson Warren

Alanson Warren, of Watertown, Conn., was the son of Edward and Mary Steele Warren, of Watertown and was born May 16, 1796, at their home, on the farm called the Warren place, located about three and a half miles easterly of Watertown Centre. The farmhouse is now standing, in a good state of preservation and liable to for generations to come, for many of its timbers and beams of hard wood are of huge size, being twelve to fifteen inches in diameter.

He was the youngest of six children, five sons and one daughter. His father died December 10, 1814, aged fifty-three years. Alanson at this time was about eighteen years and six months of age. His mother died February 26, 1849, aged eighty-five. His father was a Revolutionary soldier and but eighteen years old when he entered the service. He was engaged in the capture of the fortress of Stony Point by Gen. Wayne, in 1779 and, as he used to relate the account of it, was the third man to go over the wall or embankment into the fort. The widow drew a pension during her life. At the age of sixteen Alanson went to learn the hatter's trade with Joel P. Richards, in Watertown and when he became twenty-one bought out the business of his employer and, with a capital of six hundred dollars, embarked in the business for himself, employing from ten to twenty apprentices and journeymen. At the age of twenty-two he was married to Sarah M. Hickox, Christmas, December 25, 1818. She was the daughter of Caleb and Ruth Hickox, who lived upon their farm, one and a half miles east of the village of Watertown.


In the year 1833 he formed a co-partnership with William H. Merriman and son, C. B. Merriman, merchants and united the two concerns, under the name of Merrimans & Warren. After three years he withdrew from the company and alone resumed his old business and, in addition thereto, commenced the manufacture of cloth and fur caps and fur goods of various kinds. His manufactured goods he sold to the country merchants in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York States, carrying them in a large two-horse wagon built especially for that purpose.


In 1843 a company was formed for the continuance of the same business, under the name of Warrens & Beers, composed of A. Warren, his son, T. A. Warren, and R. S. Beers, who for many years had been with Mr. Warren, acting as foreman, attending chiefly to the manufacturing.


About the year 1845 he formed a co-partnership with his son-in-law, George P. Woodruff, for merchandising and manufacturing of buckles, buttons, slides and metal trimmings for hats and caps, occupying the store then standing on what is now the east end of the Warren House Park and was popularly known as the "Corner Store", but has since, at the time of building the hotel, been removed to a lot south of G. A. Warren's residence.


In 1847, Alanson Warren withdrew from the business, which was thereafter carried on by Mr. Beers and T. A. Warren, under the name of Beers & Warren. Besides his other business, Mr. Warren for many years carried on farming to quite an extent, having at times from one to three large farms and other lands, the care of which was in a measure-entrusted to his elder sons, with hired men more or less, according to the season of year.


The manufacturing was carried on in other buildings on the same premises for several years, until about the year 1848, when they formed a co-partnership with Nathaniel Wheeler, who was then also engaged in the manufacture of similar goods in Gen. M. Hemingway's factory, now his silk-factory, but very much enlarged. The tools and machinery of Warren & Woodruff were now removed to this factory and the two concerns consolidated, operating under the firm-name of Warren, Wheeler & Woodruff.


They now added to their previous business the manufacture of suspender buckles. The business so rapidly increased that early in 1849 they found the room and water-power too limited for their business and that of Mr. Hemingway, and there-fore purchased the water-power on which the Leverett- Condee satinet-factory, that was burned, had formerly stood, about one and a half miles south of the Centre and erected a large factory. Here, with their greatly increased facilities, the business was very much enlarged and successfully carried on.


About this time the idea of sewing by machinery began to agitate the minds of a few inventors and late in 1850 the company contracted to build some two thousand of the Wilson first patented shuttle sewing machine for a New York company, then the principal owners of that patent.


Early in 1851, A. B. Wilson, the patentee, came to the factory to assist in building these machines. He, who has since attained such a world-wide reputation as a sewing-machine inventor, had at this time, in his head, on paper and in models, still another idea of a sewing machine on a different principle, that of a rotary hook, which was brought out after much study and labor and patented in 1851, but was not considered quite satisfactory until his second invention, patented in 1852.


This improvement being a success, the co-partnership of Wheeler, Wilson & Co. was now formed and composed of A. Warren, N. Wheeler, George P. Woodruff and Allen B. Wilson, each having equal shares in it and without any specified amount of capital, which consisted in real estate, patents, machinery, etc., valued probably at not less than eighty thousand dollars. It was about this time, when the sewing machine business was in its infancy, that Mr. Warren remarked to one of his sons that he would probably live to see the day when they would make and sell twenty-five machines a day. This was considered an extravagant remark at that time, as no one could then foresee the magnitude to which the sewing-machine business would in the future attain and would hardly have been justified in making a larger estimate. The most visionary mind did not anticipate, or even venture to predict, that they would ever come up to their present capacity of turning out from four hundred to six hundred a day and with such a demand for them that, even at this rate of production, in November, 1880, they fell some eighteen thousand machines behind their orders and from a machine that could perhaps take but fifty to seventy-five stitches a minute, have so improved as to now produce machines that will take fifteen hundred stitches per minute. The business was successfully continued under this firm-name for about one year, when it was thought desirable to enlarge the business, introducing more capital.


They then organized the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing CompanyOctober 5, 1853, with a capital of one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. Alanson Warren was elected its president and George P. Woodruff secretary, Waterbury capitalists and others taking part of the increased stock.


In 1855, Mr. Warren re-signed the presidency, and N. Wheeler was elected president and William H. Perry secretary and have been re-elected every year since to said offices and may continue to be for life.


It was soon found that the room and power of this factory was not sufficient for their rapidly increasing business and in June, 1856, they removed to Bridgeport, into more commodious quarters. They have continued to prosper under the wise management of its officers, increasing its capital stock from time to time by stock dividends to its present capital of one million dollars, with a very large surplus and in the mean time have paid liberal cash dividends to its stockholders. Their extensive manufactory now covers from eight to ten acres of ground and employs from nine hundred to eleven hundred hands, according to the business. But for the engagement of Messrs. Warren, Wheeler and Woodruff with each other in business this great and prosperous concern might never have existed. Mr. Warren was president of the Warren & Newton Manufacturing Company, organized February 5, 1846, for the manufacture of suspenders, with a capital of twelve thousand dollars, which was by the earnings of the company increased to sixty thousand dollars. Their factory was at Oakville. They also carried on a store for general merchandise at Watertown Centre, the "Corner Store".


In 1857 the store was sold to the Phoenix Company,  a new company , with Mr. Warren as president and continued as a country store. The factory property and suspender business was sold to the American Suspender Company, at Waterbury, a new company, formed by the union of three suspender companies, viz., Cheshire Company, Hotch- kiss & Merriman Company of Waterbury and the Warren & Newton Manufacturing Company and the business continued on a much larger scale, under a capital of three hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Warren was also interested in various other manufacturing companies, that of the American Knife Company of Plymouth, Waterbury Brass Company, Oakville Pin Company, Union Leather Company, A. Warren & Co., for buckles, etc., at the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company's factory, after their removal, 1856 and the Beers, Woodruff & Co., Watertown, for shirts and linen goods, from 1853 till the death of Mr. Woodruff, 1857, then R. S. Beers & Co., till the death of Mr. Warren, 1858, when, T. A. Warren taking his father's interest in the company, it continued, with some changes, till 1870. Mr. Warren always took an active and lively interest in the affairs of the town and was willing to do his full share for its general improvements. He represented the town in the General Assembly of 1841. In politics was a Whig. He was a member and communicant of Christ Church parish (Episcopal) and for many years its senior warden and contributed liberally to its support, also to the building of its new church edifice, the corner-stone of which was laid May 29, 1854 and the church consecrated November 15, 1855, by the Rt. Rev. Assistant Bishop Williams. The church was built on grounds across the park or church green, east of and facing the residence of Mr. Warren. The old church, now removed, then stood north of his residence, between it and the highway. He was one of the building committee for the new church and was greatly interested in the building of it. He was one of the incorporators of the Evergreen Cemetery in 1854 and took a deep interest in the laying out and beautifying of these grounds, in which his remains were so soon to be deposited.


He died in October 20, 1858, aged sixty-two years. His widow, who survived him about eight years, died April 20, 1866, aged sixty-seven years. Their family consisted of ten children, five sons and five daughters, of which but four sons are living at this date (January, 1881), two of whom reside in Watertown after retiring from Wheeler & Wilson in 1855, Mr. Wheeler succeeded to the presidency, continuing as general manager also, both of which offices he held until his death, December 31. 1893. Singer Corporation took over the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company in 1905.










Gender: Male

Birth: May 16, 1796 

Watertown, CT, United States

Death: October 20, 1858 (62)

Place of Burial: Watertown, CT, United States

Immediate Family:

Son of Edward Warren and Mary Warren 

Husband of Sarah Martha Warren 

Father of David Hard Warren; Belinda Warren; Truman A Warren; Sarah Warren; Charles Alanson Warren and 5 others 

Brother of Issac Warren and Truman Warren 

Added by: Charlotte Julia Warren on March 7, 2010

Managed by: Arky © and Charlotte Julia Warren