The History of Middlesex County 1635-1885
J. H. Beers & Co., 36 Vesey Street, New York

[transcribed by Janece Streig]


Pages 226-228



Five natives of this town have become lawyers, two of them being eminent judges, viz., Ely WARNER and William D. SHIPMAN.

The following relating to Judge WARNER is taken from the obituary record of graduates of Yale College for 1873: "Ely WARNER, son of Jonathan and Hepsibah (ELY) WARNER, was born in Chester (then a parish in Saybrook) in 1785. After graduation in 1807 he taught school for a year or more, and then entered a law school at Litchfield, Connecticut, and was admitted to the bar at Middletown about 1811. So untiring was his industry while pursuing his professional studies that he wrote from his own stenographic notes the entire course of lectures, making three manuscript volumes; said to be the only correct copy of the lectures of Judges REEVES and GOULD now extant. Settling in Haddam in 1816, he afterward represented that town in the State Legislature for two sessions, in 1825 and 1831. In 1828, he was appointed chief judge of Middlesex County Court, and was reappointed for several terms. Subsequently, he became cashier of the East Haddam Bank, and removed to Chester n 1837, where his farm was situated, and where he resided during the remainder of his life. In 1855, he was appointed county commissioner, and held the office for two terms. He was also for more than 50 years actively engaged as county surveyor. He died of paralysis, at his residence in Chester, October 23d 1872, in his 88th year, being at the time the oldest lawyer in the State. Judge WARNER was married, November 11th 1817, to Sarah H., eldest daughter of John WARNER, of Chester, who survives him. Of their eight children, three sons and three daughters are now living. One son, Jared E. WARNER, graduated at this college in 1854, and died August 9th 1855, in East Saginaw, Michigan, where was engaged in teaching." Judge WARNER was a man of singular modesty, and an estimable citizen; and the people of the town ought to cherish his memory with feelings of gratitude, for the public spirit he displayed in beautifying the highways with shade trees, and for his example in everything pertaining to a good inhabitant.

The father of Judge WARNER, Jonathan WARNER Esq., was a man of great influence in Chester and in the town of Saybrook. He was a large land owner, and was for many years interested in commercial affairs, and was a man of sterling integrity.


William Davis SHIPMAN was born in Chester, December 29th 1818. His father was Capt. Ansel D. SHIPMAN, youngest son of Col. Edward SHIPMAN, and his mother, Elizabeth PETERS, a daughter of major Nathan PETERS, of Preston, Connecticut. The subject of this brief notice was engaged in manual labor from the age of ten to twenty-four, fourteen years; the first seven in tilling the soil and the last in laboring in a manufactory in his native town. At the end of that time, his health having become indifferent, and his education being very meager, he commenced a course of study to qualify him for a teacher. In a few months he was engaged as such at Springfield, New Jersey, where he continued to pursue that calling for about six years, during which his leisure hours were assiduously devoted to a wide range of studies. During the last three years of his residence in New Jersey he studied law without the aid of any instructor, and in the autumn of 1849 he removed to East Haddam, Connecticut, where he spent the winter, and continued his studies under the Hon. Moses CULVER, afterward a judge of the Superior Court.

Mr. SHIPMAN was admitted to the bar of Middlesex county in the spring of 1850, and at once entered on the practice of his profession, continuing his residence in East Haddam. In 1852, he was elected Judge of Probate for the District of East Haddam, and at the session of the General Assembly, in the spring of 1853, he represented East Haddam in the lower house. In July of that year, he was appointed United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and was reappointed in 1856. In January 1854, he removed to Hartford. He held the office of United States Attorney continuously for seven years, and till the spring of 1860, when he was appointed United States District Judge for the District of Connecticut. The latter office he filled for thirteen years, during a large part of which time he was engaged in the performance of judicial duties in the city of New York, and occasionally in the Northern District of New York, and in the District of Vermont; at the same time performing the duties pertaining to his own District of Connecticut.

From his appointment in 1860 till 1867, his judicial labors confined him most of the time to the city of New York, owing to the accumulation of cases there, where the federal judicial force was then limited. This period was fruitful in difficult and novel questions, owing to the disturbed condition of the country. Judge SHIPMAN's official labors embraced cases in all branches of the law-common law, equity, admiralty, and criminal law. His duties were mostly in holding the Circuit Court; and his written opinions delivered in that tribunal are published and occasionally in the London Law Times. Few of his opinions in the District Court have been published.

In May 1873, Judge SHIPMAN retired from the bench and returned to the bar, settling in the city of New York, where he has ever since been engaged in active practice. During that time the most important cases he has argued have been before the Supreme Court of the United States.

It is not too much to say that the subject of this sketch has proved equal to very station he has occupied, and that in the opinions of those who know him best, his abilities, accomplishments, and character place him among the foremost citizens of Connecticut. One indication of the estimation in which he has been held by those competent to judge may be found in the fact that Trinity College, Hartford, has conferred on him the honorary degrees of M. A. and LL. D.

In 1847, Mr. SHIPMAN married Sarah Elizabeth RICHARDS, of Springfield, New Jersey, by whom he has six children living.


There are a few men in almost every community whose lives are so intertwined with the growth and development of the place that the extent of their poser and influence is not felt and their usefulness not fully appreciated until the brittle thread of life is snapped asunder, and the shock is felt by the whole body politic; then men exclaim, "He was a valuable citizen, and we have suffered an irreparable loss." It is the duty of the faithful historian to gather such data from the living, as that their virtues may be reflected in a clearer light, ere the lamp of life has ceased to burn, and that they themselves may know that their lives have not been spent in vain.

The snows of 74 winters have whitened the hairs of Samuel C. SILLIMAN, and yet he stands erect, strong in mind and body-like the sturdy oak of the forest, with a spotless escutcheon, and a public and private record of which any man might feel justly proud. While he is strictly a self-made man, he inherits many virtues from his worthy ancestors. His American ancestor was Daniel SILLIMAN, who settled at Holland Hill, in Fairfield county, about 1640, His great-grandfather was Rev. Robert SILLIMAN, who settled as the pastor of the Congregational church in Chester in 1772, and ministered to the people in spiritual things for many years. His father and grandfather held the office of deacon of the church for over 100 years.

Mr. SILLIMAN's maternal grandfather was Col Edward SHIPMAN, who received a lieutenant's commission in the French war, and at the commencement of the Revolutionary war raised a company, of which he was captain, and soon after rose to the rank of major, and at the close of the war, became colonel of State militia.

Samuel, the father of Mr. SILLIMAN, was a contractor and builder, and subsequently engaged in manufacturing. He married Annie H., daughter of Colonel Edward SHIPMAN, of Chester, by whom he had eleven children.

Samuel C., the second son, was born in Chester, on the 8th of November 1809. In his early youth he attended the public school and subsequently attended a select school taught by the Rev. William CASE. He served an apprenticeship with his father as a joiner, and continued with him in the manufacturing of glass lines wooden inkstands for some years, which was at one time the leading ink-stand in the market. Subsequently for several years he was engaged in the manufacture of ship augers. He has since principally confined himself to the cultivation of his land.

From his early manhood up he has been identified with the public affairs of his native town, and while never seeking office, he has filled nearly every position of trust in his native town.

For ten years he held the office of county commissioner, and won the highest encomiums for his able management of the prison and reformatory institutions and his careful solicitude for the welfare of the prisoners.

In 1862, he represented his native town in the State Legislature, and for a number of years has been first selectman of the town.

In every position in life he has evinced that rectitude of purpose, that firm determination to adhere to what he believed to be right, regardless of the opinions of others. Under no consideration would he ever accept public office when it was necessary to bind himself to obey the instructions of his constituents. His independent course has sometimes made him enemies, but his firm adherence to principle has always gained him the approval of his fellow-citizens.

He has been for some years engaged in genealogical researches, and in collecting facts relative to the history of his native town, and it was unanimous wish of the people of Chester that he should write the history of this town as a part of the history of Middlesex county.

In 1832, he married Harriet, daughter of Israel L'HOMMEDIEU. Four children were the issue of this marriage: Charles N., born June 12th 1834; Franklin Y., born October 21st 1835; Harriet Amelia, born June 22d 1837; William L'Hommedieu, born August 25th 1846.

Two of these, Charles N. and William L'Hommedieu, enlisted in the ware of the Rebellion, and made an honorable record, Charles N. having risen from the ranks to the post of 1st Lieutenant in the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery. William served 3 years in the 3d Missouri Cavalry.


Joshua L'HOMMEDIEU was born in Norwich, Conn., in 1878, and became an inhabitant of this town in 1812. He was, with his brother Ezra, one of the early manufacturers of the town. Mr. L'HOMMEDIEU was an active member of the Congregational Society and was interested in all affairs of the town. He was well known throughout the county as democratic politician. He was a member of the House of Representatives several years, and once a member of the Senate. He was a perfect gentleman of the old school in manners; and, though never married, took a deep interest in the welfare of the young in the community. He died October 7th 1880, aged 83 years.


The history of the town would be incomplete without the mention of Capt. Oliver H. CLARK, who spent many of his early days in Chester. After acquiring a competency in business, in New York, he returned here about twenty years since, and freely spent his money in purchasing real estate, in beautifying the highways by building stone walls on his premises adjoining, and setting out shade trees. All the shade trees on both sides of the road from the post office to the railroad depot were placed there by him. He invested a large amount in the Connecticut Valley Railroad (in which the town invested $17,500), and was one of the active men in securing the building of the road, and also one of the first directors. He paid nearly eight hundred dollars from his own purse to give the town a better depot than was built by the road in other towns. He also gave the land for the road from DENISON's Bridge to the depot, and made the road around the hill from E. CHAPPELL's. He built the handsome residence on the hill near the railroad depot, costing some fifteen thousand dollars; but, as in the case of many other men who have exhibited a public spirit, he felt that his efforts in what he regarded for the public good were not appreciated, and his residence is now in an adjoining State.


Pages 281



Most of the facts stated in this history have been condensed from the History of Durham, prepared by W. C. FOWLER, LL. D, and printed by the town.

The writer was acting school visitor jointly with him during the ten latter years of his life. During this time Prof. FOWLER lived on his place in Durham, and cultivated his farm. He was remarkable for the correctness and certainty of his memory, which remained unimpaired. Aged people often remember what took place in their youth, and forget the things of the present. He remembered both equally well. He seemed to take as much interest in his farm as if he were a young farmer just starting. He watched the schools like a man of 45. He knew the village gossip, kept the run of the young people, and what they were doing. He always had on hand some literary work, and occupied his time fully. He talked like a book, and it was a pleasure to listen to him. He loved his native place, and was zealous for its interests. He was an illustrious example of the way in which old age may be used, enjoyed, and improved. His other public works are more widely known, but his History of Durham should always make his name remembered among his town people.


Chauncey GOODRICH was born in Durham, Connecticut, October 20th 1759; graduated from Yale College, in 1776, with a high reputation for genius and acquirements. After spending several years as tutor in that institution he established himself as a lawyer at Hartford in 1781, and soon attained to eminence in the profession. He was a representative in the Legislature in 1793, and a representative in Congress from 1795 to 1801. From 1802 to 1807 he was a councilor of the State; and he was elected United States Senator from 1807 to 1813. He received the office of mayor of Hartford in 1812, and resigned his seat in Congress. He was elected lieutenant-governor of the State in 1813, and was also a delegate to the Hartford convention in 1814. He died at Hartford, August 18th 1815.


Pages 281

Pages 440 - 441.


David LYMAN, of Middlefield, was born in that town in 1820. He received his education in the public schools of his native town and at Guilford. He engaged early in business with his father, and afterward became the trustee of a large estate in Durham, in the management of which he displayed uncommon ability.

He was interest with others in the large wringer manufactory at Middlefield.

He was very active in promoting the construction of the Air Line Railroad, and was during three years its president. It was thought that the discharge of the arduous duties that devolved on him in this position impaired his health and hastened his death, which took place in 1871.

His wife was Elizabeth Hart, of Guilford, Connecticut. They had nine children, of whom three have died.


Phineas Miller AUGUR was born in Middlefield, February 8th 1826. He received a good education in the common English branches in the public schools, then in an academy, in Latin, higher mathematics, and the natural sciences. In early life he was appointed county surveyor and some years later surveyor general's deputy for Middlesex county, which office he held several years. He made a survey and maps of Middlefield with the necessary post rout; compiling statistics, etc., which David LYMAN used successfully at Washington in securing a post office in Middlefield.

In 1866, when Middlefield was set off from Middletown, he was chosen as sole assessor, and made out the first assessment list of the town. He was also chosen a member of the board of education, and has held the position continuously since. He has been a justice of the peace since the organization of the town. In 1869, he was elected to the General Assembly. He was a member of the committee on incorporations, and was the author of several bills now on the statute books.

In early life Mr. AUGUR united with the Congregation church of Middlefield. In 1850, he was elected deacon of the church, and has filled the office since that time, but has recently resigned.

At the age of 20, he married Lucy E. PARMELEE, of Guilford, a lady of noble worth and excellence. They have five children, three sons and two daughters, all of whom are married. At their last Thanksgiving festival, they, with children and grandchildren, mad up a number of 22, all happy, healthy, bright, and vigorous.

When the Middlefield Farmers' Club was organized, Mr. AUGUR was appointed secretary, and continues to hold that position. He was elected a member of the State Board of Agriculture in 1869, and after serving two terms, declined a re-election. He was, however, elected in 1872, as promologist of the State Board of Agriculture and has since acted in that capacity. In 1876, he was delegated by the board to make a collection of Connecticut products for the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia. Although a very small and inadequate sum was allowed by the State Centennial Commission, by close economy an exhibit was made which, in excellence, extent, and variety of grains, corn, fruits, vegetables, and seeds, was regarded as among the very best, bring specially remarkable for the great number of fruits of Connecticut origin.

Mr. AUGUR has always been an independent thinker, sympathizing with anti-slavery, temperance reform, anti-monopoly, and civil service reform. He is in favor of the best schools, the best common roads, and village improvement. He believes in economy, and condemns extravagance, either in public or private life.

Mr. AUGUR, in connection with his sons, is extensively engaged in raising fruits, trees, and plants, and their nurseries, green house, vineyards, and orchards embrace a large variety.

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