Manufacturer: E. Ingraham Company
For more than a century, the E. Ingraham Company was a prominent family-operated manufacturer of clocks and watches, with headquarters and plants located in Bristol, Connecticut. Most of its employees were natives of the Bristol region, and members of the Ingraham family of Bristol controlled its management.
The company underwent numerous reorganizations and name changes, particularly during the 19th century. It was founded in 1831, when Elias Ingraham (1805-1885) opened his own shop in Bristol as a cabinetmaker and designer of clock cases. In 1841, Benjamin Ray and Andrew Ingraham founded Ray and Ingraham, and hired Elias Ingraham, whose business had succumbed to financial difficulties, as a case maker and designer. This firm was succeeded in 1844 by Brewster and Ingrahams, with Elisha Brewster, a clock movement maker, joining Andrew and Elias Ingraham as partners, succeeded this firm in 1844. In 1852, the company name was changed to E. and A. Ingraham. When fire destroyed their plant in 1855, the Ingrahams relocated temporarily in Ansonia, Connecticut, returning to Bristol in 1857. The company name continued to change: Elias Ingraham and Company (1857-1860), E. Ingraham and Company (1861-1880), and E. Ingraham and Company (1881-1884). From 1884 to 1958, the period during which most of the surviving company records were created, the firm was known as E. Ingraham Company. In 1958, the name was changed to Ingraham Company, and in November 1967, when the company was sold to McGraw Edison Company, it became Ingraham Industries.
From the 1850s until his death in 1885, Elias Ingraham served as president of the company. His son, Edward Ingraham (1850-1892), who served until his death in 1892, succeeded him. Walter A. Ingraham (1855-1939), Edward's son, was president from 1892 until 1927, when he became chairman of the board. His brother, William S. Ingraham (1857-1930), served as company treasurer for many years. In 1927, William's son Edward Ingraham II (1887-1972) succeeded his uncle as president of the company, serving until 1954. Edward's brother, Dudley S. Ingraham (b. 1890) was the last of the Ingraham family to hold the position of president, from 1954 until 1956. However, Edward Ingraham continued as chairman of the board from 1954 to 1961. Later presidents of the company included Robert E. Cooper, Jr. (1956-1961), Bret C. Neece, who served concurrently as chairman of the board (1961-1963) and Wesley A. Songer (1963-?).
E. Ingraham Company's products throughout its history reflected technological advances and changing consumer demands for timepieces. Until about 1890, the company manufactured only pendulum clocks, such as the spring-driven 8-day pendulum clocks produced by Brewster and Ingrahams. During the 1890s, they began making lever escapement time clocks and alarm clocks. Radical changes in manufacturing methods during the following decade enabled E. Ingraham Company to produce 30-hour alarm clocks, pocket watches (1914), and 8-day alarm lever and timepieces (1915). In 1913 the company purchased the machinery, equipment and inventories of Bannatyne Watch Company of Waterbury. Soon after, they began to manufacture the popular “dollar watch.” In 1930, Ingraham added non-jeweled wrist watches and in 1931 began marketing electric clocks.
The depression of the 1930s did not affect E. Ingraham Company as severely as it did many other businesses. Employment never dropped more than 15% and wage and salaries were not cut. By the beginning of the Second World War, the company was producing clocks and watches at maximum capacity in order to meet the great export need after many European supplies were cut off. However, in 1942 the War Production Board ordered E. Ingraham Company to cease manufacture of all clocks and watches. By August 1942 the company had entirely re-tooled for production of items of critical war use, such as mechanical time-fuse parts for Army and Navy anti-aircraft and artillery. Full production of clocks and watches was not resumed until 1946, but the years 1946 to 1948 were boom years for company sales. Meanwhile, E. Ingraham Company employees were unionized in 1941 by the United Electrical Workers (UE). Accused of being the “communistic wing of the labor movement,” the UE was forced out of the CIO. In 1950 the IUE-CIO replaced the UE as the union representing E. Ingraham Company workers.
The company was sold to McGraw Edison Company in November 1967 and its name changed to Ingraham Industries.
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