Saturday, May 2, 2015

page 79 -- Jumbo, Willimantic Thread, F.H. Allis & Co., J.H. Dudley & Co., Joseph W. Smith & Co.

updated 23 May 2017
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note the huge crowd on the roof
I hope Jumbo was not as distressed as portrayed here!
In the 1880s and 1890s Jumbo was a phenomenon. The trade cards depict an actual elephant that came to America as part of the genesis of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. For the complete story, The Barnum Museum or Wikipedia are useful sources. Jumbo's departure from London for America is detailed on Scrapalbum.com.

for a great tail
that rivals the whale
prepare to view
(apologies to Melville
-Wretched Poet)

The Barnum Museum has a good online exhibit on Jumbo and much more on circus history. If you have a moment now, you might want to consider what the circus became in the early 21st century without its elephants:

Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey
final performance (YouTube: 130 min.)

By contrast, here's a description of circus life in the 1930s:

YouTube ~10min.
Credit: Historia - Bel99TV "Film shows the circus train being unloaded, circus wagons drawn by horses. The circus tent is put together. It shows the challenge of providing all circus people with meals, these being made en masse, It shows a clown putting on his makeup and clown acts. And the circus parade."

In the midst of all this hype for Jumbo, if you're still interested in Willimantic Thread, see The Willimantic Cotton Mills page of textilehistory.

"Jumbo reaching for candy"
177 Main St. (Fortis Henry Allis 1854-1911)
According to the New Britain Public Library,
"Hart's Block was  located at 181 Main Street. F.H. Allis & Co. first appears in the 1877-78 New Britain City Directory.  The address is 177 Main Street. The company remained at that address until the 1887-88 directory. In the 1888-89 directory, F. H. Allis & Co.'s address is Booth's Corner. Booth's Corner was located at the corner of Main and Church St. The address remains at Booth's Corner until 1901. F. H. Allis & Co. is not listed in the 1902 city directory. According to the 1906 directory Fortis H. Allis moved to Haverhill, MA."
The Library kindly supplied the following photo of the building that most likely housed the Allis business:

"... Hart's Block is the taller of the two buildings. 177 Main may have been the building to the right and it may be that Mr. Allis used the Hart's Block designation because it was the bigger building."
-Pat Watson, New Britain Public Library


"Jumbo leaving England, on the way to the steamer"
46 Bank St., Waterbury CT

"the way Jumbo was suspended"
From Google Books digital version of the Boston Directory:







"Jumbo with his new friends, Madison Square Garden, NY"
Portion of an ad for Smith, Stevenson & Co. appeared in the Meriden Daily Republican, 15 June 1883:



"giving Jumbo a friendly push up Broadway NY"
The Byxbee Block was nominated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places:

The Meriden Weekly Republican, relates news of the Byxbee family:


From page 117 of 150 Years of Meridan it is possible to get an idea of the neighborhood at the time Smith, Stevenson & Co. were in business:
150 years of Meriden; published in connection with the observance of the city's sesquicentennial, June 17-23, 1956 Published 1956, Publisher Meriden, Ct. : The City ; Pages 410




traces of the Byxbee Block,
acquired in 2000 for back taxes by the City of Meriden and demolished in 2005
Recently acquired for the Diver collection, a  moody postcard depicts buildings along Colony St. in approximately 1906. The first building on the left is the Byxbee House with the Byxbee Block next in line. (Click photo to enlarge.)




Another early 20th century of these buildings:





Here's what these buildings looked like when historical status was nominated:


Byxbee House (left) and Byxbee Block
The National Register of Historic Places could not save this bit of history.
After the death of David Legere, the family lost the building to the city for taxes:







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