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Monadnock Moment No. 134
Era 4: Expansion and Reform - 1800 to 1860
Dewey's Illuminating Gas
Timothy Dewey was born on a farm in the western part of Sullivan, New Hampshire during the 1780s. His family had come to the town from Hebron, Connecticut in 1778. Young Dewey attended college and became a civil engineer. He completed his education in Europe. While studying in Germany, he learned the process of making illuminating gas for use in lighting homes.
Dewey moved to New York City in 1820 and in 1823 he established the first gas manufacturing plant in America. Gas had been made and burned before, but his New York factory was the first American plant for the commercial production of gas for lighting purposes. His home on Grand Street was the first house in America permanently lighted by gas. He was soon selling $2600 worth of gas to 1200 customers weekly and anticipating the construction of a second plant in Brooklyn.
Dewey's New York gas company was a success. In the 1830s he went to Philadelphia to introduce gas there as well. His company proved the safety and reliability of gas and other firms entered the business, bringing gas to homes throughout the country. Dewey became very wealthy and acquired a magnificent estate, known as Ashland Farm, in Jefferson County, New York. Sullivan native Timothy Dewey retired to Ashland Farm and passed away there in 1853.