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Manufacturers Index - D. E. Whiton Machine Co.
History
Last Modified: Oct 2 2016 9:07AM by Jeff_Joslin
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David E. Whiton (1898)
Lucius E. Whiton (1908)

David E. Whiton, born in 1825 in Stafford, Connecticut, apprenticed as a carpenter to his brother, Lucius H. Whiton. David eventually bought out his contract and after working in various places as a carpenter he moved back to Stafford and then established himself as a millwright. In 1856 he began manufacturing a patented centering machine for use in machine shops; this was under the name D. E. Whiton of Stafford, Conn. In 1865 he purchased the machinery and business of John E. Washburn and began manufacturing lathe chucks. The business continued to thrive. Whiton's son, Lucius E. Whiton, joined the business in 1881 and was soon made a partner. In 1882 a branch location was established in New London. In 1886 or '87, the business was continuing to expand and also needed better shipping facilities, so the business was incorporated as the D. E. Whiton Machine Company with $50,000 in capital stock. D. E. Whiton was president and L. E. Whiton was secretary and treasurer, and soon became general manager. The reorganized business then consolidated operations in newly constructed facilities in New London, with 50 employees.

The two men, both separately and together, were awarded several patents, mostly for improvements to lathe chucks. In the years following the move to New London, the senior Whiton spent most of his time working in the shops and designed improvements to their gear cutting machines, lathes, and chucks. He eventually retired from the business and died in 1904, his son succeeding him as president. At that time the business had 100 employees spread over several buildings, including a foundry and multiple machine shops.

From 1919-01-02 American Machinist

By 1922 the company had, at times, over 200 employees. In early 1947 the business was reorganized as The Whiton Machine Co.; we speculate that this change marked Lucius E. Whiton's retirement from the business. In any event, Whiton died in 1949. The business survived into the early 1960s but seems to have been fading away by that time.

Information Sources

  • Taylor's Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut, Vol. VI, 1908.
    LUCIUS E. WHITON, New London.
    Lucius E. Whiton, of New London, was born at West Stafford. December 25. 1862, and is the son of David E. and Asenath Francis Whiton. His father was frequently a town officer in Stafford and represented that place in the Legislature two sessions, the last being in 1879. Mr. Whiton was educated at Wesleyan Academy, Wilbraham, Mass., from which he graduated in 1881. On October 12, 1887, he married Viola King and has three daughters: Helen, born, November 4. 1888; Dorothy Quincy, born April 20, 1891, and Winifred Gardiner, born August 22, 1899. Three sons died in infancy and his wife died July 9, 1907. After leaving school Mr. Whiton went into company with his father and later became manager of the D. E. Whiton Machine Company of New London, which office he holds at the present time. He is a Republican, and has been a member of the School Board. Councilman and Alderman and is a member of the Second Congregational Church, of which he is trustee and deacon. Mr. Whiton is a director in the Union Bank of New London, trustee of the New London Manual Training School and of Wesleyan Academy. He is a member of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers and of Brainard Lodge. F. & A. M. He was proprietor and editor for one year of the "Binnacle," a weekly paper published in New London.
  • 1896 catalog of lathe and drill chucks manufactured by the D. E. Whiton Machine Co., New London, Conn.
  • 1898 book, Men of Progress...in and of the State of ConnecticutWHITON, David Erskine, Inventor and Manufacturer, New London, was born in Stafford, Tolland county, Connecticut, October 15, 1825, son of Heber and Marcia (Gay) Whiton. His fathers family came from England in 1635-6, and settled at Hingham, Massachusetts. His maternal ancestors also came from England at about the same period. David E. Whiton's early education was limited to that acquired in the district schools. At the age of fourteen he was "bound out" to serve as an apprenticed in the carpenters' trade until twenty-one. Before the expiration of his apprenticeship he bought up his remaining time with earnings made by working overtime and in other ways, and for several years worked at his trade as a journeyman. In 1849 he spent some time in travel in the West, beyond Chicago and in Wisconsin, then almost a wilderness. In 1852 he started business in West Stafford, Connecticut, as a millwright, also building turbine water-wheels and other mill machinery. In 1856 he extended his business by adding machinery and appliances for the manufacture of a patent centring machine, for use in machine shops. He continued to add occasionally other machinery specialties, and in 1865 he started the manufacture of a line of lathe chucks, having purchased the machinery and business of another shop at about this time. His business continued to increase in this line of mechanical specialties, and largely through the inventive and mechanical skill of the proprietor, until in 1886 it was removed to New London, where it has been growing steadily since the removal. Mr. Whiton has given most of his time to mechanical matters, and has made many inventions and improvements, in the special lines referred to, which have come into general use. He has, however, been almost constantly active in town affairs, and during his residence in Stafford has served at various times as Constable and Collector of Taxes, Assessor for several terms, member of the Board of Relief, Selectman, and Representative to the Legislature. He was also a prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church during most of this period, and for a number of years Trustee of the Society and Superintendent of the Sunday School. In politics Mr. Whiton was an old-time Whig until the formation of the Republican party, with which he has ever since been identified. He has never held any political State office except that of Representative, to which he was twice elected. He was a member of the first Legislature to occupy the new Capitol in Hartford. Mr. Whiton was married November 13, 1856, to Asenath Francis. They have had three children: Rosa, who died at four years; Lucius Erskine, now in business with his father; and Mary Francis, wife of L. K. Shipman, M.D., of New London, Connecticut.
  • October 1904 Power.
    David E. Whiton, founder of the D. E. Whiton Machine Company, New London. Conn., died after a brief illness at his residence in New London on September 12, 1904. He was born in Stafford, Conn., in 1825, and after serving his apprenticeship in Connecticut and working a short time in Chicago, he returned to his native State and started a shop for the manufacture of turbine water-wheels of his own design. He leaves a son. L. E. Whiton, secretary and treasurer of the D. E. Whiton Co.
  • Genealogical and Biographical Record of New London County, Connecticut, 1905.

    DAVID ERSKINE WHITON, an inventor and well-known manufacturer of New London, was born in Stafford, Tolland Co., Conn., Oct. 15, 1825. His early education was limited to that acquired in the district schools of Monson, Mass., which he attended until he was fourteen years of age, when he went to Stafford and became apprenticed to his brother, Lucius Heber, until he was twenty-one years of age. During this time he attended the district schools of Stafford in the winter months until he was about nineteen years of age, working at his trade of carpentering in the summer months. Before the expiration of his apprenticeship he bought up his remaining time with earnings made by working overtime, and in various other ways, and for several years worked at his trade as a journeyman in various places, among them Coventry, Willimantic and Hartford, Conn., and Brimfield and other points in Massachusetts. In 1849 he spent some time in travel in the West, beyond Chicago, and in Wisconsin, then almost a wilderness, where he did some work at his trade and where he expected to locate. After spending about a year in the West he returned to Stafford and worked at his trade. In 1852 he started in business in West Stafford, Conn., as a millwright, also building turbine waterwheels and other mill machinery, shafting, etc., building water privilege and a mill which still stands and is operated by Charles W. Bradway. In 1856 he extended his business by adding machinery and appliances for the manufacture of a patent centering machine for use in machine shops. He continued occasionally to add other machinery specialties, and in 1865 he started the manufacture of a line of lathe chucks, having purchased the machinery and business of John R. Washburn, combining the business all in one plant, and employing from twenty to twenty-five men. His business continued to increase in this line of mechanical specialties, largely through the inventive and mechanical skill of the proprietor, until in 1886, when, owing to the increasing business, and that he might have better shipping facilities, the plant was removed to New London, Conn., where it has been growing steadily ever since. Mr. Whiton gave most of his time to mechanical matters, and made many valuable and important inventions and improvements in the special lines referred to, which have come into general use. He invented improvements on gear cutting machines, lathes and chucks. Coming to New London Mr. Whiton incorporated the plant under the name of the D. E. Whiton Machine Company, with a capital stock of $50,000. Several new brick buildings were erected, including machine shops and foundry. The company employs about one hundred hands. Upon the incorporation of the company Mr. Whiton was made president, in which capacity he served until his death. Mr. Whiton was active in town affairs, and during his long residence in Stafford was ever mindful of his duties as a citizen. While a resident there he served at various times as constable and collector of taxes, assessor for several years, member of the board of relief, selectman, and representative to the General Assembly of the State. In politics Mr. Whiton was an old-line Whig until the formation of the Republican party, with which he was ever after identified. He never held any political State office except that of representative, to which he was elected twice, in 1867 and 1879. He was a member of the first Legislature (1879) to occupy the new Capitol at Hartford. In the Legislature he served on several committees of importance. Mr. Whiton was always a prominent and active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and during his residence in Stafford was for many years trustee of the Church Society and superintendent of the Sunday school. After coming to New London he served as trustee of the church of the same denomination in that city. Mr. Whiton was married Nov. 13, 1856, to Asenath Francis, born June 12, 1833, in Stafford, Conn., daughter of James and Achsah (Howe) Francis, the former a farmer. Mrs. Whiton, through her mother, was a descendant of John Alden. She died Sept. 25, 1902, in New London. Their first child, (1) Rosella Lenette, was born Nov. 2, 1860, in Stafford, and died there Feb. 15, 1865, aged four years. (2) Lucius Erskine, born Dec. 25, 1862, is mentioned below. (3) Mary Francis, born July 21, 1867, in Stafford, married April 23, 1890, Leander Kenney Shipman, M. D., of New London. Mr. Whiton died Sept. 11, 1904, and was buried at Stafford Springs, Connecticut.

    LUCIUS ERSKINE WHITON, son of David E., was born Dec. 25, 1862, in West Stafford, and there received his early educational training in the district schools. In 1877 he entered the Wesleyan Academy at Wilbraham, Mass., from which institution he was graduated in 1881. In the fall of that year he entered the employ of his father in his machine shop at West Stafford, and shortly afterward was taken in as a partner. When the plant was removed to New London, and the concern was incorporated as the D. E. Whiton Machine Company, Lucius E. Whiton was elected secretary and treasurer, and shortly afterward was made general manager, all of which offices he has continued to fill acceptably ever since. After the retirement of his father from active business cares the general oversight of the establishment devolved upon him, but he has shown himself worthy of such responsibility, having proved efficient and faithful in every capacity. He succeeded his father as president of the company. He is a member of the New London Board of Trade.

    Socially Mr. Whiton is a member of Brainard Lodge, No. 102, F. & A. M., of New London. His religious connection is with the Second Congregational Church, and he is at present serving as deacon and as a member of the Society's Standing Committee. In politics he is a stanch adherent of the principles of the Republican party, and as such has served his fellow citizens in various positions of trust. He was a member of the board of education for two terms, served as school visitor, was a member of the common council, and during the existence of the old ward organization served as a member of the board of aldermen. In 1903 he was a candidate for representative to the General Assembly from New London on the Independent ticket, but was defeated by a small majority. Mr. Whiton is one of the original trustees of the New London Manual Training School, endowed and established by William H. Chapman, of New London. In short, he is identified with all the representative interests of that place, and ranks among the prominent citizens of New London.

    Mr. Whiton was married, Oct. 12, 1887, to Miss Viola E. King, of Lowell, Mass., daughter of George and Joanna (Dellehunt) King, and to them have been born five children, as follows: Helen King, Nov. 4, 1888; Dorothy, April 20, 1891; David E., Nov. 5, 1895 (who died Oct. 5, 1896); Winifred Gardner, Aug. 22, 1899; and Lucius Gay, Aug. 23, 1903, died April 26, 1904.

  • 1909 owner's manual for "The Whiton Automatic Gear Cutting Machine". This manual was seen on eBay in 2016. We did not buy it.
  • 1922 bookA Modern History of New London County, Connecticut, Volume 2, edited by Benjamin Tinkham Marshall.

    The manufacturing plant of D. E. Whiton was originally established in West Stafford, Connecticut, in 1856. It was built for the purpose of manufacturing centering machines and lathe chucks. In 1881 Lucius E. Whiton, who had then finished preparatory school, engaged in the business with his father under the firm name of D. E. Whiton & Son. In 1882 the business having outgrown its West Stafford quarters, a location was secured in New London and a branch established. The first plant of the Whiton Machine Company in New London was located in the building with the Livesey Roller Bushing Company, which had been vacated by the Brown Cotton Gin Company, and a part of what was afterward the Hopson & Chapin foundry in Howard street. In 1886 the concern was incorporated for $50,000 and the present fine plant on Howard street was erected especially for the industry and to it all of the works were moved. Though this doubled facility for production, additions to the plant have since been made and it is now particularly well adapted for the company's needs and is one of the best equipped in the country for the special lines manufactured. The foundry of the Whiton Machine Company was erected in 1904. Since then various other additions have been made and others are under way. The original plant started with twelve employes; when it was moved to New London, fifty men were employed; today, when the business is running at capacity, more than two hundred employees are on its pay roll.

    The D. E. Whiton Machine Company manufacturers several specialties in machinists' tools, including the original centering machines and lathe chucks, gear cutting machines and drills for special uses. These are all ideas developed by Messrs. D. E. and L. E. Whiton and are nearly all patented, most of the patents being owned by the company. The products of this concern are sold largely through machinery dealers, the company having long established connections with the most prominent firms in this trade in all the leading cities of this country and abroad.

    Upon the death of David E. Whiton in September, 1904, the management and full charge of the business fell upon the shoulders of the son, Lucius, who is still at the helm. Mr. Whiton has the honor and distinction of being the first councilman elected under the newly made council-manager plan charter.

  • March or April 1947 Machinery.
    THE WHITON MACHINE CO., 190 Howard St., New London, Conn., has just been organized to take over the business of D. E. WHITON MACHINE CO., of New London, manufacturer of automatic gear-cutting machines, centering machines, lathe and drill chucks, ...
  • A 1961 issue of American Machinist mentions "Whiton Machine Co 190 Howard St. New London".