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Barnum, Richardson Company Records

Identifier: 1980-0037

Scope and Content

The collection contains and broad range of materials documenting the manufacture of iron in Connecticut including correspondence, financial and administrative records, minutes, employee materials, blueprints and patterns for factory equipment, production records, and documents pertaining to companies that merged with the Barnum, Richardson Company.


  • Creation: undated, 1793-1925


The collection is open and available for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.


Barnum, Richardson Company was established in 1830 by Milo Barnum and his son-in-law, Leonard Richardson in Salisbury, CT. Barnum was born in Dutchess County, New York, in 1790 and moved to Lime Rock in Salisbury, CT, in 1820 to engage in business as a merchant. The town of Salisbury was well known, at that time, for its extensive iron bed and for the exceptional quality of its iron ore. The company was based on a foundry that remelt pig iron. Barnum, Richardson and Company, as it was first called, was a small firm specializing in the production of clock and sash weights, plow castings, and other small items.

In 1840, Barnum's son, William, joined the company and the firm expanded to include production of hardware for the new railroad industry. The company's first major products were chains, frogs and headblocks for the Boston and Albany Railroad, which had just begun construction.

Salisbury iron proved most valuable in the manufacture of railroad car wheels. The iron did not break easily under tension and it was almost impervious to extremes of heat and cold. Barnum, Richardson and Company prospered because of the increasing demand for this high quality iron, and owned a number of the town's manufacturing concerns and most of its housing.

In 1852, Milo Barnum retired from active service and the name of the company was changed to Richardson, Barnum and Company. In 1858, the company purchased the Beckley furnace in East Canaan, and in 1862, obtained the Forbes furnace in the same town. At about the same time, the company purchased another foundry in Chicago. The company was reorganized as a joint stock company and renamed the Barnum and Richardson Manufacturing Company. In 1864, Leonard Richardson died, and the company was reorganized again as the Barnum, Richardson Company, a joint stock company with William H. Barnum as president and general manager. The heirs of Leonard Richardson continued to maintain an interest in the company.

A second foundry was built in Salisbury in 1870 and a third furnace in East Canaan in 1872. A new wheel foundry was built in Chicago in 1873. In 1870, the Salisbury foundries produced 10,000 car wheels. The foundries in Chicago had a capacity of three hundred car wheels per day. By 1881, the company owned eight blast furnaces in the Salisbury are which used an average of twelve hundred bushels of charcoal per day and produced eleven tons of iron to each furnace per day. The company also owned and operated its own mine, the Ore Hill mine, which in the late 1880s was providing 20,000 tons of ore per year.

Barnum, Richardson merged with several small companies during its history including: Landon, Moore and Company; S. B. Moore & Company; Sterling, Chapin & Company; and Sterling & Moore Company. Subsidiaries of Barnum, Richardson included Hunts-Lyman Iron Company, Lime Rock Iron Company, Sharon Valley Iron Company, Cornwall Bridge Iron Company and Millerton Iron Company. Companies affiliated with Barnum, Richardson included Brook Pit Mining Company, Forbes Ore-Bed Company, David Digging Company, Adams-Chatfield Company and Chatfield Mining Company.

In 1889, William Barnum died after a long and exceptional career as an industrialist. By the early twentieth century, the Salisbury iron industry was in decline. The newly imported Bessemer steel process, which produced a product more adaptable than the iron produced in small quantities by Barnum, Richardson made the small furnace iron industry of Connecticut obsolete. In 1920, Barnum, Richardson Company was purchased by the Salisbury Iron Company. This new firm went out of business in 1923 and shut down what was then the last of Connecticut's iron furnaces.


12.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Barnum, Richardson Company was established in 1830 in Salisbury, CT. The company was based on a foundry that remelt pig iron. Barnum, Richardson and Company, as it was first called, was a small firm specializing in the production of clock and sash weights, plow castings, and other small items. In the 1860s there were several reorganizations and name changes. The company merged and expanded into the turn of the century and was purchased in 1920 by the Salisbury Iron Company. The Salisbury Iron Company went out of business in 1923 and shut down what was then the last of Connecticut's iron furnaces.


Series I: Correspondence (1882-1926)

Series II: Companies (1854-1918)

Series III: Administrative Records (1833-1925)

Series IV: Labor Records (undated, 1887-1889)

Series V: Production Records (undated, 1879-1916)

Series VI: General Accounts (1841-1917)

Series VII: Merger Companies (1831-1856)

Series VIII: Estate of William H. Barnum (1793-1919)

Custodial History

Records of the Barnum, Richardson Company were donated to Harvard University, the School of Business Administration, by Alfred B. Stone. Stone had purchased the company property after the business had ceased operation. Harvard University transferred the collection to the Yale University Library, which later received a donation from the estate of Malcolm D. Rudd. The Rudd papers contain records of the smaller iron companies which merged with the Barnum, Richardson Company.

Acquisition Information

The combined records of Malcolm D. Rudd and the Barnum Richardson Company were donated by Yale University Library to the Historical Manuscripts and Archives Division (now Archives & Special Collections) of the University Of Connecticut Libraries in January, 1980.

Barnum, Richardson Company Records
Archives & Special Collections staff
1991 January
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Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US