Benjamin Douglas (1816-1894) nobly served not only his family, but also his city and country. Born in Northford, Connecticut, he spent his first sixteen years working the family farm. With a limited education, he apprenticed himself to a machinist in Middletown in 1832. He joined his brother, William, in the operation of a machine shop and foundry in 1839. In 1842, the brothers invented a pump for use in factories and on farms. On the cornerstone of this invention, they created the W & B Douglas Company which was quite successful.
Douglas was very involved in his factory, church, and community. Between 1850 and 1862 he served as the Mayor of Middletown, a member of the General Assembly, a Presidential elector, and as Lieutenant Governor. During his time as mayor, Douglas publicly refused to comply with the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and most likely participated in the Underground Railroad’s activities in Middletown.