Ellingwood Hubbard Towle

Father of Jane T. Towle

Ellingwood H. Towle

Ellingwood H. Towle was my mother’s father.  He and his brother went to France where he served as an ambulance driver in World War I before the United States entered the war.  He was an inventor who had several patents, including some for landing gear for World War I planes. None of them were successfully sold and produced, but we have copies of a them that are shown in the link above.  Ellingwood was married to Charlotte Talmadge Towle and they had four children, but they were later divorced.  He died when I was young.

Click below for an album of photos, documents, and additional information.  The first item shown is a Word document that summarizes what we know of Ellingwood H. Towle.  The second item is a PDF version of that same document.  If you have information to add, please let me know.

Photos and documents of Ellingwood H. Towle        [**NOTE**]


Information on Ellingwood Hubbard Towle

Gathered by Walter vom Saal as of 12/1/2018

Ellingwood Hubbard Towle was Jane T. vom Saal’s father, and so was the grandfather of Walter vom Saal, Robert vom Saal, and Susan vom Saal Decker.  None of us knew him well, or even much at all, since he had divorced my mother’s (Jane’s) mother when my mother was 12 or 13, and there had not been a great deal of contact after that point.  I do not remember ever meeting him, although I do remember his second wife Alice being at our house at least once.  That may have been after his death.  He died when I was 5 years old.

The information below is from documents and notes on photographs, found in old family albums.  I scanned a number of those, edited and repaired many of them, and posted them in a OneDrive folder.  Click the link above to see this material.


1/6/1893. Born at 427 Greene Ave, Brooklyn NY, mother Florence Hubbard Towle, father George Sibell Towle.

4/10/1911. Enlisted to serve 5 years with the N.Y. 7th Regiment 60M.  From discharge document dated 8/25/1914.

8/25/1914. Honorable discharge as corporal in the N.Y. 7th Regiment Company M.  Discharge document says he enrolled 4/10/1911 at age 18, was born in Brooklyn, had brown eyes and was 5’7 ¼ inches tall.  Length of service: 3 years, 4 months, 15 days.  Marksmanship was evaluated as “Distinguished Expert” and horsemanship as “Fair.” Interesting side note: the section of the discharge document with these descriptions, and attesting to his character (“Excellent”), was signed by his father, George S. Towle, commanding officer of the Company M.  (This document has been scanned.)

8/7/1914. With his brother Bartram, departed for France to see the war.  There they both ended up joining the French Foreign Legion, where Ellingwood served as an ambulance driver.  Date from handwritten note on photograph.  His typed resume dated 3/21/1929 says “enlisted in French Foreign Legion, with men who later formed Lafayette Escadrille – Col. Wm. Thaw, Alan Seeger, etc.”  A press release typed by him dated 1/5/1930 says he “was one of the original 24 members of the Foreign Legion who formed the Lafayette Escadrille.  The 1929 resume suggests he was responsible for maintenance of 6 ambulances, so from the information I have found it is not clear whether he drove ambulances, maintained them, or both.  (This document has been scanned.)

8/24/1914. According to his typed resume dated 3/21/1929, “Carried first American Flag in World War, August 24.”  This seems confirmed by photograph of him carrying an American flag in Paris with that handwritten date on it.  The note on the photograph says it was taken at Pont Alexandre III, Paris, France.  Photos of that location on line indicate this is correct.

10/1914.  Discharged due to physical disability.  (According to his typed resume dated 3/21/1929.)

6/26/1916. Enlisted in Company M, 7th Infantry regiment, New York National Guard.  Enlistment information says he was born about 1892, age 23, birthplace Brooklyn, NY.  (Info from Ancestry.com on-line database “New York, Mexican Punitive Campaign, Muster Rolls for National Guard, 1916-1917).

7/8/1916. Appointed Sergeant in Company M of N.Y. 7th Regiment (7th Infantry of the National Guard of NY). (This document has been scanned.)

2/15/1917. Honorable discharge from N.Y. 7th Regiment with the rank of Sergeant, due to moving out of the state. (This document has been scanned.)

5/7/1917. Enlisted in Connecticut Home Guard.  Honorably discharged 11/15/1917 due to enlistment in the U. S. Army. (From discharge document dated 11/15/1917)

7/13/1917. Appointed Sergeant in F Company of the 5th Regiment of the Connecticut Home Guard. (This document has been scanned.)

11/15/1917. Honorable discharge from Connecticut Home Guard in order to enlist in U.S. Army. (This document has been scanned.)

11/21/1917. Married Charlotte Marjorie Talmadge.

11/26/1917. Enlisted in U.S. Army Reserve (from handwritten note).

6/29/1918. First child Marjorie Ann Towle born in Derby CT. She died on 4/16/1930 in Derby CT of complications from appendicitis.

7/1/1918. Honorable discharge from U.S. Army Enlisted Reserve Corps due to his appointment as Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army. (This document has been scanned.)

7/1/1918. Appointment as Second Lieutenant, Air Service (Production)in the U.S. Army.  Appointment is dated 10/11/1918 and the paper is stamped 3/3/1919. (This document has been scanned.)

11/15/1919. Second child Mary Elizabeth Towle born in Derby CT.  This is “Aunt Mizzie” who later married Wesley Smith.

4/3/1921. Honorable discharge from U.S. Army as 2d lieutenant A.S.A.P. (Unsure what these initials mean.  The officer who signed the discharge is listed as Colonel, A.S.A. The A. S. may mean Air Service.) (A photograph of this document was in his photograph album and has been scanned.)

10/7/1921. Third child Jane Talmadge Towle born in Derby CT. Jane later married W. Rudolf vom Saal.

2/19/1927. Fourth child James Ellingwood Towle born in Waterbury CT.

1919 through 1940s.  Family documents show large numbers of papers indicating that he must have spent huge amounts of time preparing drawings and descriptions of various inventions, applying for patents, engaging in much correspondence back and forth with the patent office about patent applications and revisions of patent applications.  There also is correspondence with companies explaining his inventions and asking that he be authorized to develop models or otherwise pursue commercial development of his inventions.  Examples:

1919. Various correspondence with the U.S. War Department Bureau of Aircraft Production regarding “Lt. Towle’s Preliminary Design for a Collapsible Chassis.”

1/20/1925. U.S. Patent #1,523,675 granted to Ellingwood H. Towle of Larchmont, NY: Folding Landing Gear.  Application filed 9/24/1919. (This document has been scanned.)

10/4/1932. U.S. Patent #1,881,149 granted to Ellingwood H. Towle of Larchmont, NY: Hydrocarbon Engine.  Application filed 1/6/1931. (This document has been scanned.)

1933 or (more likely) 1934. Divorced from Charlotte Talmadge Towle.  (Letter from Jane T. vom Saal referred to below says this was 1935.)

7/1/1936. Letter from International Motor Company, Plainfield NJ, indicating that “at present we are not interested in developing your oiling system.”

5/7/1941. Letter from Ellingwood H. Towle to “Mr. Kartwell” (unknown business or agency) regarding designs for airplane landing gears.

11/25/1948 (?). Ellingwood Hubbard Towle married Alice Engel(?)

4/8/1950. Died in Larchmont NY.

DOCUMENTS AND PHOTOS related to the life of Ellingwood H. Towle are here.

NOTE: Daniel vom Saal has two swords from the 7th regiment that were in my parents’ attic.  I assume they are from Ellingwood Towle: see 2/15/1917 entry above.


From a letter written by Jane T. Towle (his daughter) to her niece Laurie, 3/27/1992:

“Born in Brooklyn, NY, Jan 6 1893.  Lived most of his life in Larchmont, NY.  The oldest of six children.  Well educated, but no college, I think (private High School).  Mostly engineering and surveying.  In 1914 he and his brother Bartram went to France to fight in World War I (French Foreign Legion).  He drove an ambulance, was wounded (shot in knee) and spent quite a bit of time in a hospital there.  Both returned home before U.S. war was declared, I believe, and went to Derby to work in the gun factory there.  That’s where he met and married my mother, Charlotte (Lottie) Talmadge, on Nov. 21, 1917.  July 1918 he was commissioned as a pilot in the Air Service, and sent to Dayton, Ohio, where he was an instructor (2d Lieutenant), but resigned and returned to Derby, as Mom wanted to have her baby born there. … Ellingwood’s parents were George Sibell Towle and Florence Hubbard Towle.  They lived in Larchmont most of their lives and both died there.  George S. Towle was chief of the fire department there for over 40 years.  He earlier was a surveyor (helped to lay out Central Park in N.Y.C.).