The John Mather Glass Works 1806-1821
Written and researched by Brenda Paullo
John Mather was born in Westfield, Massachusetts on October 19, 1780. He was the youngest child of Dr. Charles Mather and Rhoda Mosely and grandson of Nathaniel Mather of Windsor, Connecticut.
By the age of 21 he was running a store in Hartford, Connecticut, selling among other things crockery, glassware, and gunpowder.
In May 1806 he petitioned the legislature at Hartford for assistance in the form of a loan of $6,000 for "he has had great expense and trouble on finding out the proper materials to be used in the manufacture of window glass" and "that in pursuing this matter he has been obligated to depend entirely on experiment, the secret being entirely confined in this country to the knowledge of a few persons." The petition was not granted.
He evidently went ahead with his plans because an article in the U S Gazette reported that on October 26, 1806 the Glass Manufactury of John Mather by accident took fire and with its contents was consumed in a very short time. He expressed his thanks in the Courant to "those gentlemen who distinguished themselves in handing out property until a few minutes before the roof of the works fell in." In November of that year Mather was requesting immediate payment on Book or Note considering his misfortune.
By February of 1807 he was back in business advertising that the Glass Works had been rebuilt "manufacturing GLASS BOTTLES of an improved quality, superior in strength and beauty to any before made in this country."
In January of 1810 he was offering a FIFTY DOLLAR REWARD because "there has been of late, at sundry times, in a clandestine manner, some person or persons unknown to us, supposed to be employed by a company at Vernon...New York, to entice away the Glass-Makers, belonging to these Works, by making such offers as they have no intention to perform; and do us such an injury that we should be obliged to stop our Manufacture so to enable them to establish theirs."
Nothing is known of the glassblowers with the exception of Peter Hanover. He was a German who came from Maryland to work for Mather. He died in 1811 and John Mather was the administrator for the estate. George Hanover, a brother, was also a glassblower and was reported to have worked in Coventry and Willington.
On September 3, 1821 a Category 4 hurricane blew through Connecticut and it was reported that "the Glass Works of J. Mather were completely destroyed." There is no evidence that it was ever rebuilt.
A note from the late Mark Sutcliffe, Manchester Historical Society board member for many years, states that in a conversation with Sid Cushman of Parker Street he was told that the Mather factory was behind the brick homes in the area of 109-119 Mather Street. When Mr. Cushman did some rototilling in one of the back yards he turned up a lot of glass shards.
Note: For all of its existence, the John Mather Glassworks was located in East Hartford. It became part of Manchester in 1823 when Manchester incorporated to become a separate town.