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REPRESENTATIVE COMMUNITY B.
Industrial significance of the community-Households studied-Members of house
holds for whom detailed information was secured-Employees for whom information was secured—[Text Tables 96 to 100 and General Tables 94 and 95].
INDUSTRIAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COMMUNITY.
The industrial development of this community began at the end of the eighteenth century. Cut nails were manufactured by hand machinery as early as 1791, and three years later pewter buttons and britannia ware were produced. The manufacture of britannia teaspoons and tablespoons began in 1808. By 1830 the first manufacturer of goods of this class employed from 10 to 12 men and made shipments direct to purchasers. The output of his factory was taken in part by peddlers who exchanged britannia ware for cloth, feathers, glass tumblers, and other articles of merchandise. There were four firms making britannia ware by 1837, and in 1852 to reduce competition a single company was formed, through the consolidation of the others. With the formation of this company the work was put on a more businesslike basis. Men were no longer paid in orders but in cash, and wages as high as $2 a day were given. Besides spoons and a few cooking utensils, a number of articles, such as cups, ladles, pitchers, cuspidors, candle stocks, caster frames, lamps, and mugs were made and the trade-mark of a firm which had begun silver plating in Hartford in 1846 was purchased. By 1854 the use of molds was given up and rolled metal was used. In the following year the first nickel silver forks were put on the market. In 1863 a new factory was built. The trade had been greatly enlarged until even the countries of South America were taking britannia ware. Three years later a new process caused the abandonment of britannia manufacture with britannia as a base, and since then white metal or nickel silver has been used as a base for plating:
There were, in 1898, seven companies engaged in the manufacture of silverware in the community studied, and two in a neighboring town. These, with four other companies, were consolidated at this time into a corporation capitalized at $20,000,000 and employing 5,000 men. The headquarters of this company are in the community studied, and over 3,000 men find employment in the seven local factories. Another large local manufacturing company had its origin in 1832, with the establishment of a coffee mill. The owner of the mill was successful, and later turned his attention to the manufacture of plated hollow ware, also making plated spoons and forks. In 1854 he invented a vise and shortly after the civil war began the manufacture of a shotgun. In 1876 the company was incorporated at $500,000. Besides producing the above-mentioned articles, this company has a piano-stool factory, and is engaged in the manufacture of lamps, brass, bronze, and steel wood screws, and bath fittings. A clock-manufacturing establishment, incorporated in 1893, is also controlled by this company. In the different businesses in which the company is active over 1,500 men are employed.
The industry third in importance is the manufacture of cutlery. This industry was established in the commnuity by a man who had been engaged in that industry in Maine, and who had formerly bought his ivory handles of an ivory-comb maker in the community studied. The manufacturer prospered, and besides making ivory-handled forks and knives he soon began to make table knives, carving and butcher knives, and corkscrews. The business is still located on the old site where ample water power is available for the uses of the factory.
Another cutlery company was established in the community shortly after the civil war. In 1878 the company was incorporated and, although it has met with much competition from German and English cutlery makers, the business has been continued with a moderate degree of success. In 1882 the company began the manufacture of steel pens. At the present time, a force of 300 men are engaged in the manufacture of pocket cutlery, steel pens, and steel ink erasers.
The manufacture of lamps, which ranks next in importance among the local industries, was begun in 1844. A stock company with a capitalization of $200,000 was organized in 1866. This company makes, besides lamps, brass and bronze goods and gas and electric fixtures. Another firm of lamp manufacturers was established in the community as early as 1854. In 1875 a company was organized and 150 men were employed. At present 1,000 men are employed in the manufacture of lamp, gas, and electric fixtures, and brass and iron grill work.
In 1835 a firm was organized to make casters, furniture trimmings, and cabinet hardware, and in 1866 a company was capitalized at $80,000. This company now employs 300 hands and is one of the five companies which has aided in placing hardware second on the list of the city's manufactures.
Besides the companies already mentioned there are in the community an establishment manufacturing enameled ware, coffee percolators, chafing dishes, and bathroom fittings; a company manufacturing organs and mechanical piano players; a cut glass manufacturing establishment; a caster manufacturing establishment; and a company engaged in the manufacture of firearms. There are many establishments besides those referred to. It appears from the records of the state factory inspectors' office that there were, in 1907, 78 factories employing five or more hands each in the community, Twenty-four of the factories employed over 85 per cent of the total number of employees, which amounted to 9,506.
Of the industries which have been mentioned, the plated silverware and the cutlery industries gave employment to the early immigrants to the community. In some cases men were induced to come from Sheffield and Birmingham, England, and enter these industries. Up to 1860 the majority of immigrants to Meriden were English and Irish with a few Welsh and Swedes. A few Germans had settled in the
town_by 1860 and found employment in the silverware industry. The French Canadian race was also established in the city by that time and were engaged in the occupation of burnishing:
From 1860 to 1865 immigration to the community was light. Numbers of Germans, Swedes, and French Canadians, as well as immigrants of the English-speaking races, came to the city between 1865 and 1880. The immigrants of these races found employment in the plated silverware industry, the lamp and chandelier industry, and the enameled ware industry. In the period from 1880 to 1890 there was a considerable Slavic, Italian, Jewish, and Greek immigration. The Slavic immigrants found employment as unskilled laborers in the foundries and shops, and some few engaged in small businesses; the Italians became fruit dealers, grocers, bootblacks, cobblers, and unskilled laborers in the foundries and shops; the Hebrews went into the junk peddling and clothing trades and some few worked in the shops, and the Greeks either went into the bootblack and candy trades, or obtained work in the shops and factories as unskilled laborers.
A total of 440 households were studied in Community B, the heads of which were engaged in the various local industries. The following table shows the number and per cent of households investigated, by general nativity and race of head of household:
TABLE 96.—Households studied, by general nativity and race of head of household.
Of the total number of households studied in the community that is embraced in the above table nearly 80 per cent are foreign-born, 18.6 per cent are native-born of foreign father, and only 2.3 per cent are households the heads of which are native whites born of native father. Among the households the heads of which are native-born of foreign father those of German descent show the largest proportion, 9.1 per cent. The Irish, with 4.8 per cent, show the next largest proportion. Of the foreign-born races the Poles were studied in the largest number. Slightly more than 20 per cent of the total number of households are of that race. A proportion almost as large, 18.9 per cent, is shown for the Swedes. The South Italians, French Canadians, and Germans each represent between 10 and 15 per cent of the total number of households. North Italian households were studied
in smaller proportion than those of any other foreign-born race. The households of that race represent only 1.1 per cent of the total number.
MEMBERS OF HOUSEHOLDS FOR WHOM DETAILED INFORMATION WAS
The following table shows, by general nativity and race of head of household, the persons in the households studied and the persons for whom detailed information was secured:
TABLE 97.—Persons in households studied and persons for whom detailed information was
secured, by general nativity and race of head of household.
In the 440 households studied the total number of persons is 2,222. Of that number of persons, 82.3 per cent are in households the heads of which are foreign-born; 15.6 per cent are in households the heads of which are native-born of foreign father, and 2.1 per cent are in households the heads of which are native whites born of native father. More persons were studied in households the heads of which are foreign-born Poles than in those of any other race. The proportion of persons in such households is 22.4 per cent of the total. The Swedes show the next largest proportion, 17.8 per cent, followed by the French Canadians with 16.8 per cent. Less than 1 per cent of the total number of persons in the households studied are North Italian, while 11 per cent of the total number are South Italians. For the persons for whom detailed information was secured the proportions are in most cases similar to that named above for each race, and where there is a difference it is very small.