William Pitkin IV

Jason Penoud – William Pitkin, IV (1725 – 1789)

 

 

Born in 1725, the Honorable, Colonel William Pitkin IV, a son of Governor William Pitkin, was a member of a family dynasty then at its peak as one of a handful of powerful families that ran the affairs of first the colony and then the state of Connecticut throughout the entire 18th century.

The Pitkins were a wealthy extensive clan of blended generations, securely based on the east side of the Great River. William Pitkin continued carrying on long established family traditions in law, politics and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Like his father he was a prominent lawyer who became a Superior Court judge.

As a politician, he was elected to the 2nd Continental Congress in 1784, and was Clerk of the State Legislature for 19 years.

Pitkin was also an entrepreneur of much business acumen, involved in a variety of already established family endeavors, plus in the founding of new ones.

Pitkins were always part of the Congregational Church, the establishment church of Connecticut. For instance, one brother Timothy, a Yale graduate, followed in the steps of his maternal grandfather and namesake, in becoming a Congregational minister in Farmington Connecticut.

Early in the Revolutionary War, William and his brother George were partners in what is believed to be the country’s first gunpowder mill. The mill was located on the Hochanum River across from the site of the present day Marco Polo Restaurant. Not long after the Revolutionary War the mill was badly damaged by fire.

Being Pitkins always in search of new sources of income, William and George joined Pitkin cousins Richard and Ellisha and other investors to found the Pitkin Glass Works in Manchester, then the Orford Parish of East Hartford.

Glass making was a difficult and expensive business, but in recompense for their losses in supplying gun powder to the Connecticut militias the State Legislature granted them a 25 year, tax-free, monopoly, thus making potential profit seem feasible for their chancy investment.

The Glass Works was the first successful glass factory in Connecticut, remaining in business until about around 1830.

Romantic stone ruins of the factory still remain, and examples of Pitkin glass are now rare, quite expensive, and much sought after by collectors.

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