Carlton Ross Stevens and his motorcycle in World War I.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Carlton Ross Stevens:
War Hero and Inventor
Barely 20 years old, Ridgefield native Carleton Ross Stevens had one of the most important jobs in World War I: He delivered the first sectional terms of the Armistice to General Pershing.
To do that, Sgt. Stevens rode a motorcycle more than 800 miles in 19 hours. He stopped only three times — once when he crashed — and ate only chocolate.
Sgt. Stevens, who had entered the service in June 1918, was often under fire while on duty as a motorcycle dispatch rider. In one case, while on a motorcycle trip in France, enemy fire was so heavy he had to hide in a swamp for five days, with only raw bacon to eat.
Never formally schooled beyond the eighth grade, Mr. Stevens went on to invent numerous machines and electronic devices, lecture at Yale, and build a highly successful manufacturing business in Waterbury.
Born in 1898 of a longtime Ridgefield family, he joined American Brass in Waterbury after the war and began inventing automated machines and later, electronic devices. (In 1912, as a boy of only 14, he had set up the first wireless "ham" radio station in Ridgefield and he remained a ham operator all his life.)
Stevens founded his own firm, the Stevens Company in Waterbury, and during World War II, created devices for the Manhattan Project, which produced the atomic bomb; he lectured at Yale on the Manhattan Project. During the war, he was also a major in the Army signal corps.
He died in 1970 in Thomaston at the age of 72.
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