Spencer "Thomas" Thomas, Henry, Samuel, Joseph, Isaac, John, John

Henry was born in Ohio but grew up in New Haven, Conn., New York City and Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a member of the 1st Connecticut Cavalry, Co. B., and lost his right hand April 6, 1865 -- three days before the Civil War ended -- at the Battle of Sailor's Creek, near Farmville, Va.

On Aug. 11, 1874, Henry obtained the patent for a sprinkler head to protect his Mathushek Piano Works factory in New Haven, the first building in the U.S. to be equipped with a sprinkler system. According to the National Fire Protection Assn., about 200,000 Parmelee sprinklers were installed in New England mills between 1878 and 1882. He granted Frederick Grinnell of Providence, R.I., a license to manufacture his sprinkler heads and received royalties. Grinnell went on to found the General Fire Extinguisher Co., which is now part of Tyco International.

Henry became a board member of the Fair Haven & Westville Railroad trolley line, and, by the 1900 census, its president. He and his wife, second-cousin Mary Frances Parmelee [1851-1918; Andrew Yelverton, Alfred R., Samuel, Joseph, Isaac, John, John], and their three children lived at 28 Hillhouse Ave., New Haven, with a seamstress, maid, cook, waitress and laundress, three of whom were born in Sweden.

On Sept. 28, 1902, he was aboard his yacht, the schooner Alert, anchored off Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, talking with some friends when he suddenly died. He and his family are buried at New Haven's Evergreen Cemetery.

Photo No.: 05-1413

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