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Westfield lock works, padlock patent

Buzzings from BeeLines

June 14, 2011
By Marybelle Beigh, Westfield Historian
Part 5 of Series — Mysteries and Memories along the Chautauqua Creeks

Readers may recall Parts 2 and 3 of this series from last month, in which an antique padlock, manufactured by Westfield Lock Works, was found by a couple of local young men. Early maps (1854), newspaper articles, advertisements, receipts, and letters (1848-1857) documented and described the Townsend Manufacturing Company, and Frank Waters’ Manufactory predating the Westfield Lock Works at its location on Big Chautauqua Creek, just north of the Main Street Bridge (later the viaduct). After 1857, with John F Townsend succeeding Frank Waters as proprietor of the manufacturing works, copies of The Westfield Republican newspaper are sparse. Only a few issues remain on the microfilmed newspapers, or in the archived newspaper tomes, until the mid 1860s; correspondingly, advertisements and articles regarding the manufactory are not readily available.

In the Patterson Library History Files, several items were located relating to the lock works and locks manufactured by the factory. An exchange of letters in October –November, 1975 between the Lock Museum of America, Inc. in Terryville Connecticut, and James Wheeler, who was Westfield Historian and Head Librarian at the Patterson Library, held the “key” to information about the mystery padlock, Townsend Manufacturing Company, and Westfield Lock Works, referencing articles and other documents dating from 1861 through 1892.

In the letter from the Lock Museum of America, Mr. James Wheeler was addressed, “Dear Sir: We were referred to you by the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. The padlocks we are seeking information on are as follows. #1 Townsend Mfg Co, Pat Dec 10 1861, Pat July 27 1869; #2 Westfield Lock Works, Westfield NY, Pat Dec 10 1861.” The writer requests various items of information regarding the businesses and which business was taken over from the other.

The first article, which Mr. Wheeler documents, is from the Westfield Republican of August 2, 1865, page 3, is an obituary notice: “Mr. John F. Townsend, of the Townsend Manufacturing Company, in Westfield, died on Monday… had for some years been at the head of the manufacturing company that bore his name… giving employment to a large number of hands.”

The next document is a notice in the August 16, 1865, issue of the paper, page 3, datelined “WESTFIELD, Aug. 15, 1865. In consequence of the death of John F. Townsend, President of the Townsend Manufacturing Company, it becomes necessary to call a meeting of the Directors of said Company to supply his place on the Board of Directors. A meeting will be held … Tuesday the 22d inst., at 10 A.M. F.B. Brewer, Treasurer.”

Wheeler directs attention to the 1867 Chautauqua County Atlas map of the Village of Westfield, stating that it “Shows buildings of Townsend Manfg. Co., including Lock Fact. And Machine Shop, and the adjoining residence of Mrs. Townsend.”

Additional items located by Wheeler include:

The Westfield Republican of November 8, 1865, has a brief announcement in the Local, Literary, and Miscellaneous column: “The Townsend Manufacturing Company have erected another large shop to accommodate their increasing business.”

Chautauqua County Directory, 1873-74, states that “The Westfield Lock Works became property of F. B. Brewer in 1871…”

March 31, 1880 – The machinery of the Lock Works has been sold to Messrs. Clark and Co. of Buffalo…also mention of “Mix Brothers”

August 3, 1892 – Death of F.B. Brewer…”prominently connected with the lock works.”

A handwritten notation on the copy of James Wheeler’s letter points to an article in the August 12, 1874 issue of The Westfield Republican which reads in part, “Dr. F. B. Brewer has sold to E.M. and J.E. Mix the property so well known as the ‘Westfield Lock Works,’ embracing all the tools, machinery, patterns, patents, andc., together with the real estate. They will continue as heretofore to manufacture Door Locks, Padlocks, Knobs, Small Grey Iron and Brass Castings.”

The Westfield Republican of March 31, 1880, (per Wheeler’s letter) provides more details in two separate notices as follows:

“The machinery of the Lock Works has been sold to Messrs. Clark and Co., of Buffalo, who have commenced moving it to their works in that city. This is one of the effects of special rates for railway freights.”

“The change in the Lock Works removes from our midst Messrs. J.E. and E.M. Mix; although the family of the former will remain here, and consequently we shall expect to see the Major occasionally. We regret the loss of Mr. E.M. Mix and family to our place and trust they will find their new home one which they shall enjoy fully – and that ‘Mix Brothers’ may be abundantly prospered in their business in Buffalo.”

In connection with the letters between James Wheeler and the Lock Museum, a copy of the entire UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE publication of Padlock Patent, # 33,920, of E.M. and J.E. Mix, Patented Dec.10, 1861, was found. This is the same padlock patent number as was discerned on the antique brass padlock found here in Westfield as first described and photo shown in Part 2 of the Mysteries and Memories Along Chautauqua Creeks series.

Finally, some research at the McClurg Museum, in the CCHS files, produced an informative typewritten copy of some notes taken from a newspaper clipping located in Mrs. FW Crandall’s scrapbook circa 1879-80. “WESTFIELD ITEMS…We also visited the Townsend Lock Company’s establishment…800 locks per month…saw a padlock…establishment erected some years ago by Frank Waters…”

In addition, a Westfield NY bill dated Jan. 31, 1876, lists several locks that Shackelton Steam Heater Co “Bought of Westfield Lock Works…”

Article Photos

Submitted photo
Above is a drawing from the padlock patent that is for the same lock as the one shown in the photo of the found antique padlock from part 2 of this series or articles.



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