FENELON McCOLLUM

BIOGRAPHY

AS RECORDED IN:

COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF 
TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND REPRESENTATIVE  CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903     P.  740

FENELON McCOLLUM,  owner of the Mansfield Organ Pipe Works, at Mansfield Depot, is one of the successful and leading manufacturers of Tolland county.  His great-grandfather came to America from Scotland, and his grandfather was captain of a vessel and was drowned while engaged in the discharge of his duties.

Erastus McCollum, the father of Fenelon, was born in Manchester, Conn., where he spent his early life and learned the trade of carpenter.  He removed from Manchester to Vernon, where he followed farming, and later located in Rockville, at a time when that city contained but a few houses.  Mr. McCollum erected the first house on Brooklyn street, and also a barn in the rear of what is now the Rock mill.  It was in this barn that the first church organ was set up by Seldon McCollum and his two brothers, Julius and Henry.  Erastus worked in the mill as a millwright, and lived many years in that city, following the same occupation.  His death occurred in advanced age, and he is buried in the cemetery at Vernon Center.  Early in life he was a Whig, and later became a Republican.  For many years he was a most consistent member of the Congregational Church at Rockville.  His first marriage was to Lydia Corning, by whom he had the following named children:  Erastus S., who married Miss Putnam, was one of the first to learn the trade of organ builder in this country; he resided first in Rockville, and later removed to Middletown, where he died.  Maria, who married Hart Keeney, a stationary engineer, died in New Haven.  Electia R. died young.  Henry F., who married Emily Webster, was an organ builder, and resided in Boston, in Westfield, Mass., and later in Mansfield, where he was engaged in the business with our subject until 1890, dying soon after retiring; he had a son Henry, who served in the Civil war.  Julius S., also an organ builder, died in Boston.  Electia R. (2) is the widow of S.K. Childs, and resides in Duxbury, Mass.  Sarah Ann, who married Luther Talcott, died in Rockville; he was a railroad man.  Martha, Mrs. Bilson, died in Rockville.

The second marriage of Erastus McCollum was to Harriet Bosworth, of Rockville, who survived him several years, and died in Westfield, Mass.; she was buried at Vernon Center, Conn.  The children of this marriage were Fenelon (our subject) and Harriet.  The daughter married S.B. Carpenter, and they had two sons:  Orlando B., living in Mansfield; and Albion B., living in Brockton, Mass.  Mrs. Carpenter married for her second husband S.B. Carr, of Brooklyn, where they now live.

Fenelon McCollum was born in Rockville, Oct. 5, 1841, and received his education in the Rockville high school, soon after leaving which he was employed for several years as assistant postmaster, during the administration of President Lincoln, when Andrew W. Tracy was postmaster at Rockville.  Within a short time he became engaged in the furniture business with H.L. James, at Rockville, under the firm name of James & McCollum, but after several years they disposed of the business to J.L.G. Carpenter, and Mr. McCollum went to Westfield, Mass., where his half-brothers were engaged at organ building.  Until 1868 Henry and Julius were employed by Johnson & Son, at Westfield, and there Fenelon also secured employment, beginning on case work; later he was engaged on the making of the pipes.  After a fire destroyed this factory in 1871 Julius and Henry returned to Boston.  Fenelon had conceived the idea of making the manufacture of the pipes a separate industry, and in 1871 started this independent business.  Hard times came on, and desiring a location where expenses were less, he removed to Merrow, in the town of Mansfield, and rented a room, where he employed several hands and was joined by his brother Henry.  They remained at Merrow until 1876, when they removed to Mansfield, to the “ell” of the Brigham mill, at Mansfield Depot, and the style of “The Mansfield Organ Pipe Works” was adopted.  The business soon demanded more room, and the whole mill was leased.  Later, in 1889, the whole mill property, tenement house as well as mill, became the property of Mr. McCollum, and in 1892-93 a new four story factory was erected to accommodate the rapidly growing business.  In 1890 Henry McCollum was obliged to retire from business, and died soon after.  In 1896 fire destroyed the mills, but with characteristic energy Mr. McCollum erected new ones, and equipped the establishment with the latest improvements in machinery.

Fenelon McCollum is an inventor and patentee himself, and has made special machinery for some of the work.  Among his inventions is an improved pipe foot for organs, on which he holds the patent, and is considered an important invention in first-class organ construction.  These factories have the best equipment of any in the country for the manufacture of organ pipes, and constitute the largest manufactory for wood pipes in the world.  About 400,000 feet of the best Michigan pine is used annually, and the skill and care with which each part is fitted place the work of this establishment at the head of the output in that line.

Fenelon McCollum has always been active in religious and moral affairs, and the result of his labors is very apparent in the section of the town occupied by his industry.  Socially he is a member of South Coventry Lodge, No. 10. A.O.U.W.  In politics he descended from old Whig stock, and has always been identified with the Republican party, and greatly interested in political issues, even as a boy taking an active part in the Fremont campaign, but he has always refrained from holding office.  In public-spirited enterprises of all kinds, however, he is very prominent.  He is a member of the Union Chapel Society at Mansfield, and was one of the organizers and builders of the chapel there.

Mr. McCollum was married Dec. 15, 1870, to Mary E. Carpenter, of New Britain, Conn., who died in 1890, and they had two children:  Herbert O., who died in infancy; and Odell F., who died at the age of two and one-half years.  The second marriage of our subject, on March 18, 1896, was to Minnie L. Bowers, of Mansfield, and they have had three children:  Ruth B., Ella Louise and Fenelon Jr., the last named born March 11, 1902.  In 1896 Mr. McCollum erected his handsome residence from which is dispensed a charming hospitality.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel

 

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