Elias Howe, Jr.

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Elias Howe Jr, invented the first practical sewing machine in 1845.  Howe opened a factory along the banks of the Pequonnock River in 1863. The factory was located on the east side of the Pequonnock River.

The factory produced as many as 400 sewing machines a day.   Howe’s building was a beautiful domed building with a fountain in front of it.  He had his own dock for direct shipping to and from New York.  A fire in 1883 destroyed the main building.

Elias Howe was the first person from Bridgeport to sign up for the Civil War, however Howe was 42 years old and in ill health.  He served as a private in Company D of the 17th Connecticut Volunteers, but he never served in combat due to poor health.

Elias Howe died three years after enlisting. The Grand Army of the Republic Post in Bridgeport was named after Elias Howe, Jr.  His son Simon was in charge of the factory after his death.

Want to learn more about Elias Howe, Jr.? The Bridgeport History Center has the following materials available:

Books:

Bridgeport at Work, Witkowski, Mary K.  Arcadia Publishing, 2002.

Pictorial History of Bridgeport,  Palmquist, David

Bridgeport History Center, Newspaper Clippings, Biography: Howe, Elias Jr.

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About Author

Mary K. Witkowski is the former Bridgeport City Historian and the Department Head of the Bridgeport History Center, Emeritus. She is the author of Bridgeport at Work, and the co-author with Bruce Williams of Bridgeport on the Sound. Mary has had a newspaper column in the Bridgeport News, a blog for the Connecticut Post, and a weekly spot on WICC. She continues to be involved in many community based activities and initiatives on local history and historic preservation.

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