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The Shelby Museum Of History
 
 
 
 
"A light from our distant past"
 
The Shelby "Y Ray" Lamp
 
 

 
 
 It is important, but not necessary, to this story to determine when the home on inlot # 1103 was being constructed and when it was completed. For this reason, the article will begin with some background concerning the earliest owners of this Shelby building lot.
 

 

 

There is much evidence that the Boulevard home located on lot # 1103, may not have been completed when purchased by the Chaillet family. The previous owners, Elver and Elmira Kimmel Williams, bought the lot on the Boulevard from the partnership of Wentz, Brucker and Leighty. This partnership was composed of Henry and wife Sarah A. Bushey Wentz, Francis and Lena A. Palmer Brucker, and Jacob and Kate A. Metzger Leighty. The contract was actually between the partnership and Elmira K. Williams; Elver was not mentioned in this deed document.
 
- -- - - - 1898 - - - - - -
 
The document in part reads "for the consideration of three hundred & fifty Dollars (350.00) received to our full satisfaction of Elmira K. Williams, the Grantee, do give, grant, bargain, sell & convey unto the said Grantee, his heirs and assigns, the following described premises: situated in the Village of Shelby, County of Richland, and the State of Ohio, and known as inlot number eleven hundred & three (1103) in the regular series of consecutive numbers of inlots in the said Village of Shelby, situated on the north side of Grand Boulevard in the Wentz, Brucker and Leighty's Addition to Shelby, Ohio. To have and to hold the above granted and bargained premises with the appurtenances there unto belonging unto the said Grantee, his heirs and assigns forever. And we (the partnership) . . . have the good right to bargain and sell the same in manner & form as above written; that the same are free and clear from all incumberances whatsoever, except last half of 1897 taxes (due June 1898) and that we will warrant and defend said premises with the appurtenances there unto belonging to the said Grantee. his heirs and assigns forever against all lawful claims and demands whatsoever. And we (the partnership) . . . do hereby revise, release and forever quit-claim unto the said Grantee and his heirs and assigns all our right and title of dower in the above described premises, and it is further covenanted by and between the parties to this deed their heirs and assigns . . . . . that if the said Grantee erects or builds a house on the above described premises, that the same shall be built as a modern house, and that the same shall not cost less than Twelve Hundred Dollars (1200. 00) and it is further covenanted by and between the parties to this Deed that the Grantee, erecting or building upon the above described premises agree to build at a certain prescribed distance, not less than thirty five feet from the public highway fronting said lot. It is further agreed that these covenants shall run with the land or premises and shall not be broken without the mutual consent of the grantors and the then owner of the above described premises.

 

"In witness whereof , we here unto set our bonds this ninth of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety eight. " 1
 
The above document was signed before C. W. Hildebrant (Notary Public) and received August 31, 1898 and recorded on September 1, 1898.
 
This document provides the proof that the home on lot #1103 was begun sometime after the signing of this deed.
 

 

 From the signing date of the above deed the Williams family were owners of the property for less than one year. Elver's father Joshua passed away in November of 1898. Elver and Almira's third child Louis Williams was born February, 1899 just prior to the sale of their home. In 1900, the Williams family was living in New Haven, Huron County, Ohio with Elver listing his occupation as farmer.

     
    It seems likely that the loss of Elver's father with the possible necessity of returning to the home farm, coupled with the birth of their third child may have been responsible for the fact that they owned the Boulevard property for such a short time. These events also make it quite plausible that the home was not totally completed prior to the sale to the Chaillet family.
     
    The 1910 census finds the family in Amarillo, Texas and Elver lists his occupation as house contractor. Since the census indicates that their last two children, Treva c. 1904 and Hilas c. 1908 were born in Ohio, they perhaps only lived in Texas a short while before moving on to Springfield, Missouri in the 1920 and 1930 censuses. The fact that Elver lists his occupation as "house builder" in later life, may indicate that he gained experience in the trade due to the experience gained in the building of their Boulevard home.
 
 

 

 

    Adolphe Chaillet purchased his home on lot # 1103 of the Shelby Boulevard Addition in late March of 1899 and on April 2nd he bought a large quantity of wall paper and on April 19th, several window shades, all from the V. O. Peters drug store here in Shelby. In September, 1901, the Chaillet home was sold to J. C. Fish, and Adophe and his family moved from the area having lived in their Shelby home only thirty months.
     
    What happened during those 30 months of occupancy is of interest to the following story.
 

 
- -- - - - 2011 - - - - - -
 
 Early in the Spring of 2011, a new family purchased the home on lot # 1103 on the Shelby Grand Boulevard and since it had been previously made into two apartments, they began the task of restoring the home to it's former state. As work progressed it was necessary to rewire portions of the home and to remove or alter some of the inside wall partitions. The walls are stick built construction with horse-hair plaster over lathe, and wall papered and / or painted. To rewire some of the walls required removing some of the plaster and lathe to expose sufficient space to begin the task of running the new wiring. At some point, the new owners, Joe and Trisha Wagner, were working on the lower portion of an interior partition removing baseboards and some plaster and lathe, when they were startled by the appearance of a light bulb. Joe said that after a good bit of pounding on this wall to loosen plaster, etc., he was surprised to see a light bulb roll out from behind the partition. His first thought was that it was just an old light bulb and he would throw it out when he cleaned up at the end of the day. But luckily, later he looked at the old light bulb a bit closer and discovered it was marked as a "Shelby" lamp, made by the Shelby Electric Company. Later Trisha began a search on the internet and discovered that it probably was a rare light bulb and the Shelby Museum might be a good place to inquire about the new found "old" bulb.
 
 

Joe and Trisha Wagner
 

 

 After a visit to the Shelby Museum they learned a bit more about their bulb and the early occupants of their home. This bulb may have a special significance and more study might reveal the extent of that significance.
 
 One of the questions raised during their visit to the museum concerned the functionality of the bulb. Optically the filament appeared to be intact, but it was decided that a resistance test would better determine the continuity of the filament. And if an actual voltage test was desired, equipment to supply a reduced voltage would be the safest method of accomplishing that. A second museum trip was then scheduled to perform those tests.
 

 
 
Weeks later, on the second museum visit, the filament resistivity was measured and it proved to be intact. A Variac was used to provide a reduced voltage and Joe and Trisha slowly increased the voltage until they could begin to see the filament start to glow. What they were seeing was light coming from a Shelby Electric Company lamp that had not been used for at least 110 years. The test results brought smiles to everyone's faces.
 

 

photos taken courtesy of the Wagners
Reduced Voltage Test
 
 After picture taking and documentation, a trip was made to the Wagner household to document the area where the bulb was discovered. Joe had left this part of the restoration on hold so that photos could be taken of the place of discovery. The cavity where the lamp was found had originally been fully lathed and plastered on both sides of the partition from floor to ceiling with no space left at the bottom of the walls. Baseboards had then been installed over the plastered walls. As can be seen in the photo below, the baseboards have now been removed and the lathe and plaster have been cut away at the bottom of the walls to allow for the installation of the new wiring. It was during the removal of the lathe and plaster that the bulb appeared, rolling from inside the wall cavity, out onto the floor.
 

 
 

photos taken courtesy of the Wagners
Place of discovery - Previous home of the 110 year old bulb
 
 
    Of course, one of the first questions this raises is: Who put the bulb in there ?
    If your answer would be Adolphe Chaillet, then how could he have done that if he had purchased a finished home from the Williams family as has been assumed in the past.
 
    Who else could have placed the bulb inside the wall cavity?
     
    The Williams family can be ruled out, since the "Y - Ray" bulb had not been manufactured prior to 1898 and there has been no connection found between the Williams Family and the Shelby Electric Company.
     
    Adolphe Chaillet sold his home to J. C. Fish, September 24, 1901 and it was then sold to Malcolm Wickstron March 22, 1902.
     
    J. C. Fish held the property for six months during that winter and would have had the opportunity to place a bulb somewhere in the home at that time, but what would be his motivation to do this? If he wanted, he could have easily left items of a significant nature in his own home on South Broadway.
     
    Malcom Wickstron held the property for approximately five years selling it to William Imhoff in 1907. During that period of time he apparently had no connection to The Shelby Electric Company, being employed at the Shelby Seamless Tube Company, the "Tube Works".
 
 
 The owner who had both the motivation and the opportunity seems to have been Adolphe Chaillet. The only difficulty in accepting this would be the thought (historically) that the home was completed when purchased by the Chaillet family. The fact that the Williams family only owned the lot (with no house at the time of purchase) for a bit less than a year, coupled with their family occurrences during that time, it is reasonable to assume that the house was not totally completed when sold to the Chaillet family.
 
It was mentioned previously that Professor Chaillet purchased a great deal of wall paper two weeks after buying the new home on the Grand Boulevard. When wall paper was selling for approximately 20 cents a roll and wall paper border, 10 cents a roll, Professor Chaillet bought wall paper costing over $45.00 at the V. O. Peters Drug store. That could buy 175 rolls of paper for walls and ceiling and an additional 100 rolls of border. It seems to indicate that either there was no wall paper in his new home, or none of the wall paper that was there (and it would be less than six months old) seemed suitable.
 
After establishing that Adolphe Chaillet was the owner who had the opportunity and the probable motivation to hide the bulb in the wall of the house, then we wonder what his motivation might have been and why did he choose this specific bulb to be the item he placed in the wall?
 
 
 

photos taken courtesy of the Wagners
The newly discovered Shelby "Y Ray" Lamp, probably manufactured c. 1899 - 1901
 
 

 The bulb could have been placed in the wall anytime between April, 1899 and September, 1901, but why was it decided to put it there in the first place? It seems it may have been intended to be a miniature "time capsule". Why else would you place it in a location where it would be most unlikely to be found without breaking into the walls of the home? Any casual future owner would never "find" it. This fact seems to support the "time capsule" idea. The bulb would only be discovered when major changes would be made to the house and it turned out to be over 110 years before that happened.

If we assume that he wanted to use this bulb as the item in his "time capsule", then why choose this bulb? We may never determine the answer to this question, but Professor Chaillet must have selected this from any number that would be available to him. Perhaps he played a significant part in the development of this style bulb.

 
 
 
(Click on the image for additional information)

 
 
 
    If this newly discovered bulb is compared to the illustrations (Figures 1 through 3) in Patent Number 701, 295, one can see the distinct similarities. (Click on the patent image above to see the patent in it's entirety.)
     
     The globe (A) is heightened a bit more than in the illustrations to allow for a larger filament. So instead of the"pear" shape mentioned in Professor Chaillet's patent application, it becomes closer to the shape of a modern day incandescent bulb. Of course the evacuation or sealed off tip (a2) is still of the style of the early bulbs.
 
In this bulb, although the filament is wound in a manner similar to what is shown in Figures 1 through 3, the construction is improved by an additional extended mount, or stem that is fused to the normal mount (C). This addition is used to help support the longer and slightly increased radius of curvature of the filament. This bulb employs the same two platinum wires used to secure the filament structure (D) to the power line -in wires coming from the socket cap. However there are two additional platinum wires fused into the added extended stem or mount that serve to support the center portion of the filament to lessen the possibility of damage due to shaking or vibrations. These items can be clearly seen in the photo above.
 
There has been some speculation as to what the "Y - Ray" label connotation means. Our opinion would be that it has nothing to do with the light distribution from this style filament and merely refers to the "Y" shape of the extended stem or mount that is used to help support the larger, longer filament.
 
 Professor Chaillet filed for what was to become Patent Number 701,295 on October 22, 1900 approximately 18 months after moving into his new home. He did not receive his patent until June 3, 1902, nearly 9 months after selling his home, but he must have known that the patent was being examined and would soon be issued. It was to be his first and only patent on an incandescant electric lamp and he must certainly have been proud of this accomplishment. What better way to celebrate than to place a bulb that featured one of his most recent improvements to this patent in a place that might, on some future day, be discovered and spark an interest in the significance of the contents of his improvised time capsule.
 
It certainly has done just that! We believe that Professor Chaillet would be delighted to know that his Shelby Electric Company light bulb creations have traveled the world, just as he did, and that 115 years after he made his contribution to the electric light industry, his bulbs are still bringing acclaim to him and to Shelby, Ohio.
 
We would like to thank Joe and Trisha Wagner for bringing the bulb to the Shelby Museum and sharing the news of their wonderful find with us and all who view this article.
 

 
If you have a Shelby bulb, we would very much like to hear from you. We will do our best to answer any questions you may have about your bulb. A photo of the bulb would be most helpful in our evaluation.
 

 
1. Richland County Deed Book, Volume 119, pages 313 and 314.
 
 
 
 
If you have comments or questions, please contact :
 
The Shelby Museum of History
% Sally Maier
76 Raymond Ave.
Shelby, Ohio 44875
 
Email 
 
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