Middlefield CT: The Industrial Revolution

Button Factory Opened:

In the late 1840's Andrew Coe and A.M. Bailey became partners, created A.M. Bailey & Co., and building the button factory on the first privilege of the Beseck River, just below Wildcat Swamp. A privilege was given to the first settlers with their land rights. It gave the owner the right to dam and divert a portion of the water to run one or more mills. The privilege could be sold, rented or handed down.

Button shop

On August 6, 1849 the button factory opened. It could draw as much water as passed "through an orifice of fifteen square inches under a head of nine feet during the twelve hours of each day at any and all times when the pond is full or not reduced more that twelve inches below the surface of the dam" with no charge. When the dam was raised in 1852 a new agreement was signed on October 2 raising the head to fourteen feet. The water could not be drawn "earlier than five o'clock in the morning nor later than seven o'clock of the afternoon." without charge. The water turned a great overshot waterwheel. The machinery in the mill showed A.M.'s genius. After paying $500 to watch a Middletown factory run for 15 minutes, he designed a machine to saw cattle bones lengthwise into thin strips. It then made many complicated motions to round 60 buttons per minute. The buttons were drilled, rolled in sawdust to be shined and smoothed, painted or bleached, and packed in boxes. This machinery allowed the button mill to employ 20 people.