What has 48 mulberry leaves and six side branches? If you answered, "Manchester's Town Seal," then you are right.
The seal's mulberry leaves capture the importance of the silk industry in Manchester's history. By way of background – the sole food of the silkworms that create silk filament is the leaf of the mulberry tree, and thus the mulberry is crucial to the silk business.
In 1965, when the seal was approved and implemented, the Cheney silk industry was still in operation, though greatly diminished from its boom years of the 1860s through the 1920s, when up to 25 percent of the town's population worked in its huge mills.
However, Cheney's was not the only silk mill in town – William H. Jones (1812-1903) manufactured silk in the North End, as described in a January, 2011 Courier article which is reproduced in this web site, and is accessible by clicking: W.H.Jones Article.
Note: You can find out more about this "Pioneer Silk Manufacturer With Enterprises in Buckland and Manchester" from the reprint of his 1912 memoir, available in the "Vintage Reprints" section of this web site by clicking: W.H. Jones memoir.
Along the bottom of the seal, the numbers 1823 are written in thread – 1823 is the year that Manchester was
incorporated. Using the image of thread is an ingenious way to symbolize all of Manchester's textile history – the huge
Union Cotton Mills in Union Village in the North End, and the satinet mill at Globe Hollow in the southeastern part of town.
Satinet, an important commodity in the textile industry, is a satin-like fabric made with cotton warp and wool filling and
finished to resemble wool.
To find out more about the Globe Hollow industries, see Osgood's "Memorial History of Hartford County, Connecticut, 1633-1884, Edited by James Hammond Trumbull, L.L.D., President of the Connecticut Historical Society, In Two Volumes, Vol. I," published in 1886, but now available online at Google Books and at the University of Connecticut's library in PDF format. The Manchester section, written by the Rev. S. W. Robbins, Pastor of the First Congregational Church (perhaps you've visited the Robbins Room in Center Congregational Church?) begins on page 243. At the time of the book's publication, the Globe Manufacturing Company was producing cotton warp. The Rev. Robbins summarizes the Globe textile business:
The Globe Manufacturing Company had "purchased the privilege in Globe Hollow, previously occupied by the satinet-mill of the American Company, and in 1844 erected there a mill which was used for several years in making cotton warp, and afterward sold to Cheney Brothers. In 1853, the Globe Company purchased the Eagle Hill Mill erected in 1836 by another company for making satinet, and continued the manufacture of cotton warp. After the decease of Joseph Parker, agent, the mill owned by F.D. Hale, on the site of the old cotton-mill of Richard Pitkin, became also the property of the Globe Manufacturing Company."
The seal's stylized tree captures the nature of our farming community and dependence on natural resources in the early
days of our town. Our first documented industry involved trees and lumber – in 1672 the General Assembly had granted to
John Allen land for a sawmill, located on the Hockanum River in the Buckland section of Manchester
The tree figured prominently with the committee that was charged with developing "a graphic symbol to use as identification of Manchester." The committee kept notes and published a final report, available at the Town Clerk's office. Here's what the committee said about the tree motif:
"This tree is not necessarily a mulberry tree but is rather a symbol which ties in with the 'Village Charm' aspect of Manchester. A tree is symbolic and meaningful in many ways. It represents life, beauty, growth, permanence, strength, protection – all of which can be interpreted into the image of Manchester.... The basic design ...has a certain interesting intricacy. It is quickly identifiable in shape, and legible at a distance. It is contemporary in style to portray the Town's progressiveness in the modern world...The ... words, Seal of the Town of Manchester, Connecticut, make a circular frame almost enclosing the leaf-shape – almost, but not quite, for the tip of the tree breaks through the circular border of letters. It is a growing tree. The committee feels that the design...represents the Town of Manchester in a most favorable manner and would add to the Town's present prestige and reputation."
In their report, the committee said that State Law requires that an official seal incorporate four things: (1) Name of
the Town, (2) Name of the State, (3) Date of incorporation, and (4) The word "seal." Adding graphics to symbolize the Town
isn't necessary, but images and themes were discussed at the committee's September 21, 1965 meeting:
"The symbol of a mulberry leaf or mulberry tree was mentioned. The thought was presented that some other symbol might better depict all of the local industries, such as a water wheel, preferably with a building. The committee considered the possibility of incorporating into the new design some portion of the seal of Manchester, England, it being the consensus that our town took its name from the English town. However, in examining the early records, no proof could be found... The cover design of the book recently published on the history of Manchester for use in the third grades of our local school system was reviewed."
While the committee discussed many items to include in the seal, in the end they were pleased with the work of committee member and artist Edwin R. Hyjek, who drew several sketches of various designs and developed the seal. Although Ed was in the graphic arts business, he donated his time and effort in creating the seal. It's hard to imagine in this day and age that someone however generous would provide so much free work. Ed also designed as "freebies" the logos of the Manchester Historical Society and the Manchester Land Conservation Trust.
For our Historical Society television show, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ed, and viewing the small art studio and clip file that he maintains at his home on Oak Forest Drive in Manchester. Ed was born on September 22, 1921, so a special birthday for him is fast approaching. Ed is a veteran of World War II, having served with the Marines in the South Pacific. Ed worked on the committee with its other members: William E. Buckley, chair, Mrs. Thomas Ferguson, Secretary, Mrs. Austin Cheney, Edward J. Tomkiel.
At the end of the report, the committee recommended these standard colors for the seal: "green leaf shape and reddish brown lettering against a circle area of yellow gold." They went on to say:
"For the extensive work of preparing the tentative designs from which the final one was chosen, as well as for the preparation of most of this report, the committee is deeply indebted to its artist member, Mr. Edwin R. Hyjek."
The Manchester Historical Society salutes Ed on his birthday and admires his and others' generous spirit of volunteerism, which makes Manchester a better place to live. [Webmaster's note: Ed Hyjek passed away Wednesday, October 29, 2014. Ed was predeceased by his wife, Trudy Tyler Hyjek.]
In its discussion of possible motifs, the committee discussed the symbols on the cover of a children's history of Manchester, designed by Hazel Lutz, representing aspects of Manchester: The paper industry and education, a water wheel, the glass industry, and textiles. Hazel Lutz (1902-1985), Manchester educator, artist, and founding member of the Manchester Historical Society, started the museum now known as The Lutz Children's Museum.
Information about the history of the town and the town's seal available at the town clerk's office. The clerk's office is a treasure trove for local historians – it also has Manchester's vital statistics, death records, and land records. Land records can now be searched from your own computer by going to the Town of Manchester web site, selecting the Town Clerk's page, and clicking on Index of Land Records in the left menu. This will bring you to an interactive search page where you can look up property, including land records stretching way back into history.
[Webmaster's Note: With the 2020 addition of digitized copies of The Manchester Herald, the following articles are available:
December 3,1965: Seal Proposed (page 13) and   December 8, 1965: Seal Adopted (page 10).