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Obituaries of Noted Stamfordites

Claison Shaw Wardwell

April 20, 1936
Stamford Advocate
transcribed from newspaper clipping


Leader in His Profession, Practiced Upwards of 50 Years in New York.

Dr. Claison Shaw Wardwell, a member of a distinguished Stamford family, who was a leading dental surgeon for about half a century in New York City, and whose unusual skill was also expressed in many other lines of endeavor including mechanical inventions, died in eightieth year at 11:45 Saturday night at his residence at 484 Elm Street, following a cerebral hemorrhage three days before.

Of the seventh generation of Wardwells in America, he was a son of Isaac [Wardwell] and Frederica L. Wardwell of this city, both of whom were of pioneer New England stock of old British lineage. Among his ancestors were a high official of George III of England, and also Baron Thomas de Moulton, the latter being mentioned in the Doomsday book as a crusader with Richard the Lion-Hearted.

Born here.

Born in Stamford on October 24, 1856, Claison S. Wardwell at an early age exhibited traits of industry, ability, and integrity which formed the foundation of his lengthy and successful career, as they also had of the similar career of his father, who for scores of years was an outstanding citizen of Stamford. Following attendance at Stamford Academy, he was apprenticed to Dr. Elisha T. Payne of Stamford in January 1874, and was graduated with honors from Philadelphia Dental College at the age of 20. With his brother, the late I. Franklin Wardwell, he opened offices in Stamford, and in 1878, in New York, first on West 89th Street, where he practiced for 23 years, and later at 576 Fifth Ave., where he practiced for 34 years. His skill soon brought him, in his chosen field, a leading position which he held for the greater portion of his life, his clientele of "patient-friends" comprising many names indicative of achievement.

In February 1935, he retired from the profession, in which he had worked for over 61 years, in order to enjoy the fruits of his labors with his family and largely by plans for the future centering around his shops for the working of metal and wood.

Dr. Wardwell’s versatile genius was expressed in a variety of ways, principally of a mechanical nature, although his architectural designs covered several houses, including his own home. Among his inventions were devices utilizing compressed air for the operation of dental hammers, which were widely adopted in his profession; and anti-friction pulley lining, which was manufactured under royalty, and an improved electric dental hammer with jeweled bearings. Turning his attention to scientific kites, he designed an built a new type of box kite, which won the prize competition at Blue Hill Observatory for meteorological purposes. Another of his box kites took the world title at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904 against the entries of such experts as Baden-Powell, W. Eddy and Alexander Graham Bell. Under the name of National Kite Co., he manufactured his improved Malay kite, which was covered by one of the list of patents issued to him and which was distributed by Horsman.

Up to his latest illness, Dr. Wardwell never lost his keen enjoyment of working unusually long hours in making things which challenged his dexterity. At the age of 10, he made a steam engine with his brother; while still young, he constructed a small telephone system with wooden instruments when telephony was in its infancy; he made cameras when plates were dipped in liquid before exposure; he built a small sailboat; he made a tennis racket with which he competed in national tournaments, as well as an inlaid violin which he played in the family orchestra. Before marriage, Dr. Wardwell lived at his father’s homestead at the top of Elm Street Hill, now the site of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. For a number of years, he was a member of the then well-known Company C of the Connecticut Militia.

In ways such as serving as vice president of The Stamford Foundry Co., and as corporator of the Citizen’s Savings Bank of Stamford, Dr. Wardwell found time to parallel some of the activities of his father, who among other interests, including real estate, was a director of the First National Bank, now the First National Bank and Trust Co., was instrumental in building the Stamford Canal, and was a partner of The Stamford Foundry Co., manufacturers of the "Shipmate" range and said to be the oldest stove foundry in the United States.

Dr. Wardwell further resembled his forbears in that the results of his industry and versatility were accentuated by the longevity characteristic of his family. His father was active in business and other pursuits almost to the time of his death in his ninetieth year, but was outlived by his twin sister, the late Mrs. William C. Hoyt. Dr. Wardwell’s oldest sister, the late Anna W. Wardwell, died a few years ago at the age of 85, and other relatives lived to ages 80 to 96.

Dr. Wardwell is survived by his wife, the former Mary Augusta Bradford, of Newport, R.I., whom he married in 1885 and who is a direct descendant of Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth Colony; his son, J. Bradford Wardwell, and his daughter Mrs. C. Ward Birch; his elder sister, Miss Ida L. Wardwell, and two grandchildren, Herman Wardwell Liebert, son of his elder daughter, the late Mrs. Frederick W. Liebert, and Margaret Patricia Birch; and a niece, Mrs. Charles A. Betts, jr., all of Stamford, except Mr. Liebert, who lives in New York.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday at 4 p. m. in St. John’s Episcopal Church, of which Dr. Wardwell was a member since 1868. Interment will be at Woodland Cemetery. Automobiles will meet the train leaving Grand Central at 3 p. m.

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