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

[transcribed by Janece Streig]


Pages 31-40




At the time of the formation of Middlesex county in 1785, it occupied a commanding position in the affairs of the State. The city of Middletown was incorporated in 1784, one year previous, being at that time the leading city in the commonwealth. Middletown soon became the most prominent port of entry upon the Connecticut coast. Its commerce was large, its tonnage great, and its importations far in advance of those ports which have since made flourishing commercial centers. For these reasons, and others which it is not necessary to mention, the county of Middlesex, from its existence, became at once an important field of litigation. Large interests were involved, great principles at stake, which had not been settled and fixed by the commercial law of a country just springing into existence. As may well be supposed, therefore, in the three or four decades on from 1785, the county of Middlesex furnished to the courts of this State some of the most important cases every determined by her system of jurisprudence. Great, not only in consequence of the amount of money involved, but greater still by reason of the principles of commercial law submitted and determined, a law then in its infancy on this side of the Atlantic. As a natural consequence Middlesex county became the abode of many eminent men learned in the law. And not only so but the most illustrious attorneys in the State were accustomed to practice at its bar. The SHERMANs, the BETTs, the INGERSOLs, the STAPLEs, and scores of others whose fame is bright in our annals appeared often as counsel at the sessions of the Superior court in this county. It is safe to affirm that the old Court House in Middletown has resounded with as fine specimens of forensic eloquence as were ever heard in any tribunal where the English language is spoken.

The terms of the Superior court were then different from those held at present. By the statutes of 1796 it was provided that in the county of Middlesex a term of the Superior Court should be held in each year at Haddam on the last Tuesday of December and at Middletown "on the last Tuesday save one in July." There were, besides, two terms of a County Court held on the second Tuesday of November at Haddam and on the first Tuesday of April at Middletown. This arrangement of terms of courts, with some modification as to time, continued until 1855, when the County Court was abolished, and two additional terms of the Superior court established.

The account of the attorneys who flourished in this county in the early part of the present century, which is hereto appended, is derived mainly from Dr. FIELD's "Centennial Address," delivered at Middletown in 1850, and the appendix to that valuable hand-book of local historic information.

Titus HOSMER was a native of Hartford. He was distinguished while in Yale College for his scientific and linguistic acquirements, as well as for his literary brilliancy. He graduated from that institution in 1757, and probably settled in Middletown about 1760. Although he possessed a poetic genius, the profession which he chose led him to cultivate the powers of the understanding rather than of the imagination. In the practice of his profession faithfulness to his clients, and strong powers of reasoning soon raised him to high esteem with the bar and court, and secured him not only much professional business, but civil positions of honor and importance.

Beside the ordinary town offices and the commission of the peace which he held, he was annually elected a representative in the General Assembly from October, 1773, till May, 1778, after which he was chosen an assistant every year till his death, in 1780. In 1777, he was Speaker of the House of Representatives, and exercised great influence with the Legislature in favor of the adoption of vigorous measurers against Great Britain. During a part of the revolutionary war he was a member of the Council of Safety, and in 1778, he was a member of the Continental Congress. In January, 1780, he was elected one of the three judges of the Court of Appeals, that was established by congress principally for the revision of maritime and admiralty cases in the United States. It was understood that one of these judges was to be from the southern, one from the middle, and one from the eastern portion of the country. Mr. HOSMER was chosen from the eastern section, but he never entered on the duties of the office. He died suddenly, August 4th 1780.

The celebrated Dr. Noah WEBSTER named three men as the "Mighties" of Connecticut. These were William Samuel JOHNSON, LL. D., of Stratford, Oliver ELLSWORTH, of Windsor, Chief Justice of the United States, and the Hon. Titus HOSMER, of Middletown.

In person he was above the ordinary size, and his countenance was expressive. His passions were quick and strong, but were held under subjection to his stronger will. He was fond of conversation, and was extensively acquainted with men and books; and he often entertained at his house groups of friends who courted his society. In deliberative bodies he was always heard with that attention and pleasure which lucid and manly argumentation, along with probity and patriotism, always receive. He was, in short, a gentleman of the most polished and engaging manners, of correct moral habits, a thorough scholar, a learned, eloquent lawyer, and a sound, practical statesman.

Two sons of Hon. Titus HOSMER became lawyers; Stephen Titus HOSMER, and Hezekiah Lord HOSMER. The latter practiced in Hudson, New York. The former pursued his studies in Yale College till the suspension of that institution in the Revolution, then completed his collegiate course under Dr. DWIGHT. He graduated in 1782. He studied law with Hon. William Samuel JOHNSON, and Hon. Oliver ELLSWORTH, and commenced practice about 1785, in Middletown. He was dependent on his own resources, and by the steady exercise of his talents he soon secured a very large practice, which he retained till he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court, in 1815. It was his custom to read books connected with his profession with such fixed attention, and so repeatedly, page by page, that their contents became indelibly fixed in his memory, and he was able to call up, at will, nearly all the reports of cases referring to any point without consulting his books. By this means he acquired a wonderful memory, which was of great service in his judicial labors. His briefs were prepared with great care, the points clearly stated, and numerous cases cited. His habits were very regular, each week day being devoted to the study of law, interrupted only by the hour's walk which he daily took. Each evening was devoted to general reading, for which he had the means in a large, miscellaneous library. He was exceedingly fond of music, which he studied scientifically, and in the early period of his life, he was for many years a skillful reader of sacred music in the sanctuary. He was repeatedly elected to the council of the State, and otherwise honored by his fellow citizens. Some years before his death, the corporation of Yale College conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws.

In 1815, when he was first appointed judge, the Superior court consisted of a chief judge and eight associates. By the constitution of 1819, it was made to consist of five judges. Mr. HOSMER was appointed chief justice, and three of the former judges and one new judge were appointed his associates. He continued in this exalted position till January 10th 1833, when he arrived at the age of 70, the constitutional limit of his term. He died in Middletown, August 6th 1834.

So far as the opinions of intelligent judicial tribunals and officers are respected in other States than those in which they are pronounced, no judge has left higher claims than Judge HOSMER to the gratitude of those engaged in judicial pursuits or studies out of this State. Following the example of several most illustrious judges of this country, particularly of PARSONS and KENT, it was often the case that his opinion contained, not only the reasons for the judgment given in the particular case before him, but a collection of the leading cases on the subject generally, and a concise and lucid epitome of the law as involved in them. By this means, although a great portion of the opinion would not, perhaps, be deemed authoritative, the reader was furnished with an abstract of the leading principles applicable to the subject in one connection, and at the same time the deliberate views of an able jurist, entertained after consultation with his fellow judges. These opinions are most full and precise, prepared with much care, expressed with great perspicuity and force, and arranged with entire method; and they constitute so many valuable elementary treatises, so to speak, for the instruction of the judge, practitioner, and student.

His temperament was ardent, but his disposition most friendly and forgiving. Every object of philanthropy, and every case of suffering or want immediately called forth his sympathy and aid. Among the excellent traits of his character, one of the most striking was his readiness at all times to render service, by his advice and investigation, to the younger members of the legal profession who applied to him for assistance. His eager thirst for the improvement of himself and others led him to examine every subject on which he was consulted, and freely to communicate the results of his thoughts and inquiries. His personal appearance was commanding, his deportment dignified, his manners affable, and his elocution polished and graceful.

Mr. Samuel Whittlesey DANA, son of Rev. James DANA, D. D., graduated at Yale college in 1775, and soon afterward opened a law office in Middletown. He had popular talents, and his appearance at the bar was admired; and had he devoted himself entirely to his profession, he would probably have commanded a large practice; but his friends placed him in political positions; first electing him a representative in the State Legislature, and then in the councils of the nation, so that for a course of years he acted rather as a statesman than a lawyer. He was either a representative or a Senator in Congress through a part of the administration of WASHINGTON, through the whole of that of ADAMS, JEFFERSON, and MADISON, and a portion of that of MONROE. He was, in early life, made a brigadier general. In the latter part of his life he was several years mayor of the city of Middletown. He also became presiding judge of the County Court, a position which he held at his death, in July 1830.

Asher MILLER was a native of Middlefield. He graduated from Yale College in 1778, with a class that was distinguished for the talent of its members. He ranked well in this class, and after he left college he acquired a proficiency in geology, mineralogy, and chemistry, professed by few scholars of his time. He became a lawyer in Middletown, and was highly esteemed and honored by the people of that town. He probably commenced the practice of his profession about 1780, and in 1785 he was elected a representative in the Legislature. He was elected many times afterward, and so highly was he esteemed for his legal knowledge and his integrity that he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court in 1793, but resigned in 1795. He was long an assistant, and during many years presiding judge of the County Court and judge of Probate. On the death of Colonel HAMLIN, in 1791, he was elected mayor of the city, and he held this position, with his two judgeships, till his death, in December 1821.

Silas STOW was a native of Middletown, and was a lawyer in that town. About 1795 he removed to Lowville, N. Y., and was afterward a member of Congress. He died in 1827, at the age of 53.

Asahel Hooker STRONG, a native of Portland, and a son of Rev. Dr. STRONG, was a fine scholar and a good special pleader at the bar; and had he lived he would have been worthy of a seat on the bench of the Superior Court.

John G. C. BRAINERD was, for a short time, a lawyer in Middletown, where he was a universal favorite because of the sweetness of his temper, the correctness of his taste, and his fine conversational powers. He was afterward editor of the Connecticut Mirror, at Hartford. He shone more as a poet than a lawyer. He was the author of those vigorous verses upon "Niagara," commencing with "The thoughts are strange that crowd into my brain."

William PLUMBE was a native of the Society of Westfield. He graduated from Yale College in 1769, practiced law a short time, became a preacher and a chaplain in the army, and finally a merchant. He died in 1843.

Mathew Talcott RUSSELL was a namesake of Col. Mathew TALCOTT, his uncle by marriage, who was childless. He was educated, at Col TALCOTT's expense, at Yale College, where he was, during four years, a tutor. He studied law with the Hon. Oliver ELLSWORTH, and commenced practice in Middletown. Though of delicate health, he was able to attend to his professional affairs, and was accurate and methodical in everything. He was entrusted with a large amount of collecting business. He was, during some years, State attorney. He died in 1828, aged about 68.

William BROWN was born in Guilford, and graduated at Yale in1784. He practiced law n Middletown during some years, and was city clerk from 1789 till 1792. He was an able man and was much respected. He died in Hartford in 1803.

Joshua HENSHAW was a native of Middletown, and a graduate of Yale in 1785. He removed to Vermont, and thence to Canada.

Enoch HUNTINGTON, son of Rev. Enoch HUNTINGTON, graduated from Yale in 1785. He was a dean scholar, and a man of superior natural abilities. He was a fluent speaker at the bar. He died in 1826, at the age of 58.

George W. STANLEY was born in Wallingford, graduated at Yale in 1793, and practiced law many years in his native town. He removed to Middletown in 1819, and was at one time State attorney. He removed to Cleveland, Ohio, about 1837.

Alexander COLLINS, son of General Augustus COLLINS, of North Guilford, graduated from Yale in 1795, and studied law in the office of Judge HOSMER. He died in September 1815, aged 41, in Vermont. Collinsville derived its name from his sons.

Elijah HUBBARD graduated at Yale in 1795, studied at the law school in Litchfield, practiced some years in New London, and returned to Middletown on the death of his father, Elijah HUBBARD, Esq., in 1808. He was, during many years, president of the Middletown Bank, and was many times mayor of the city. He died in 1846, at the age of 69.

Chauncey WHITTLESEY, son of Chauncey WHITTLESEY, Esq., was a graduate of Yale in 1800, and a dean scholar. He read law with the Hon. Charles CHAUNCEY, of New Haven, and was admitted to the bar in November 1804. He practiced in Middlesex, and adjoining counties, till 1819, and took an elevated rank among the ablest lawyers in this part of Connecticut. He was made a brigadier general of militia, having, during the war of 1812, raised a regiment at his own expense. In 1819, he removed to Louisville, Kentucky, and thence to New Orleans. In 1827, he returned to his native town, and after a protracted and painful sickness, died in 1834, at the age of 51.

John L. LEWIS, a native of Philadelphia, read law with Judge HOSMER, and was admitted to the bar in 1805. In 1818, he was appointed sheriff at Middlesex county. He afterward removed to Florida, where he died.

Levi L. CLARK, a native of Sunderland, Mass., graduated from Yale in 1802, and studied law with Hon. Charles CHAUNCEY, of New Haven, and with Asa BACON, Esq., of Canterbury. He commenced practice in Haddam in the spring of 1805, but removed to Middletown in 1807 or 1808. He enjoyed a good practice in both towns. In 1816 he removed to Carthage, N. Y., where he engaged in non-professional business, but was unsuccessful. He resorted to literary work for support, and was for many years connected with newspapers and other publications in New York city. He died in 1840, aged 57.

Noah A. PHELPS, a native of Simsbury, was a law student with Hon. Elisha PHELPS, and was admitted to the bar in Hartford, in 1811. He remained in that city till 1829, when he was appointed collector of customs and removed to Middletown. He was afterward judge of the County Court, mayor of Middletown, judge of Probate, State Senator, and Secretary of Connecticut.

Samuel INGHAM was born in Hebron, Conn., September 5th 1793. His preliminary education was received in the common schools, and he was admitted to the bar in Tolland county, Conn., in 1815. In 1819 he became a resident of Essex, where he resided till his death, November 10th 1881.

By constant self-reliant labor and upright conduct, he placed himself in a conspicuous position at the bar, where he was distinguished as an advocate before juries.

He was a member of the lower branch of the Legislature from 1828 to 1835, and again in 1851. In 1843 and 1850 he was a member of the State Senate. In 1835 he was elected to Congress, and was re-elected in 1837. He was four times a candidate for governor of the State, but was defeated with his party. He was during nine years State attorney for Middlesex county. He declined a position on the bench of the Superior Court and the Supreme Court of Errors. He was commissioner of customs in the Treasury Department at Washington from 1858 to 1861.

Major Andre ANDREWS, a native of Cornwall, studied law with his brother, Benajah ANDREWS, in Wallingford. He began to practice in Middletown as early as 1815, and was afterward State attorney.

William HUNGERFORD was born at East Haddam, November 22d 1788, and graduated from Yale College in 1809. He was admitted to the bar in 1812, and practiced in his native town till 1829, when he removed to Hartford where he resided till his death, January 15th 1873.

By diligent and unremitting study, Mr. HUNGERFORD acquired a remarkable familiarity with elementary treatises on law, and thus paved the position which he came to occupy-that of the head of his profession in the State.

He was distinguished not only for his great legal ability, but for his love of right and his hatred of wrong. His well known sincerity gave him great influence with judges, as well as with his brethren at the bar. It was well known that he would not argue a point that he did not himself believe to be just, or in which he had grave doubts. Another prominent feature in his character was his uniform courtesy and kindness to his professional brethren. Mr. HUNGERFORD had no taste for political life, though he many times represented his native town, as well as the city of Hartford, in the Legislature. He always declined a position on the bench of any court, but adhered steadfastly to the practice of his profession during his long life. He was never married.

Jonathan BARNES, a native of Tolland, was born in 1789. He graduated from Yale College in 1810. He completed his law studies, which he had commenced under his father, with Chauncey WHITTLESEY, of Middletown, in 1813, and from the time till his death he practiced his profession here.

He stood among the first in his profession, and was remarkable for his unremitting industry and close attention to the business entrusted to him. He sought rather to faithfully discharge his duty to his clients than to display brilliant achievements. He had a vast and varied store of legal erudition, and this was so systematized that it was always available. His style of argument was always chaste and polished.

He never lost his love for literature, and by almost daily reading of the classics he kept up his knowledge of them to the end of his life.

He was a profound scholar and was able to read fluently, ten languages.

He never entered the political arena, preferring the quiet duties of his profession.

Minor HOTCHKISS was a native of New Haven, and a graduate of Yale in 1813. He was admitted to the bar in New Haven in 1815, and at once settled in Middletown. Upon his appearance in Middlesex county he was noted as a young man of talent and promise. He soon became distinguished in his profession, and his prospects were as bright as those of any man of his age in the State. His mind was well stored with knowledge, and his disposition, manners, and habits were adapted to win affection and secure confidence. In the last two years of his life he represented the town in the State legislature with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his constituents. After a long and painful sickness, he died, in 1825, at the age of 34.

Abiel L. LOOMIS commenced the practice of law in Middle Haddam as early as 1816. After two or three year he went to Killingworth, now Clinton, and ten years later he removed to Middletown. He afterward went to Hartford, where he died.

William L. STORRS graduated at Yale in 1814, read law with his brother, Henry L. STORRS, Esq., at Whitestown, N. Y., was admitted to the bar in New York in 1817, and in Connecticut soon afterward. He was a representative in the Connecticut Legislature in 1827 and 1828, and in the Congress form 1829 to 1833. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives in Connecticut in 1834, and was again elected to Congress for two years from 1839; but in 1840 was made a judge of the Superior Court. He was also a professor in the new Haven Law School. The Western Reserve College conferred on him the degree of LL. D.

Ebenezer Force practiced law in Middle Haddam during three years from 1819, then removed to Middletown and practiced a short time. He enlisted in the army of the United States, and soon afterward died.

Enoch Thomas PARSONS graduated from Yale in 1818, was admitted to the bar in 1822, practiced a short time, and died in 1830, at the age of 30.

Samuel Holden PARSONS graduated from Yale in 1819, was admitted to the bar in 1822, and practiced for a time in Middletown.

Samuel Dickinson HUBBARD was a graduate from Yale in 1819. He studied at the New Haven Law School, and practiced law some years. He was mayor of the city of Middletown, and a member of Congress.

John Hiram LATHROP was a graduate of Yale in 1819; was a tutor in the same institution, and afterward received the degree of LL. D. He practiced law a short time in Middletown, and afterward became a professor in Hamilton College, in the University of Missouri, and president of the University of Wisconsin.

Ezekiel L. HOSMER, son of Judge Stephen Titus HOSMER, was admitted to the bar in 1823, and died in 1826, at the age of 24.

Charles Richard ALSOP graduated at Yale in 1821, studied law in the office of Jonathan BARNES, Esq., and was admitted to the bar in this State. He then attended the lectures of Chancellor KENT, in New York; studied in the office of Daniel LORD, Esq., an attorney in that city, and was admitted to the bar there. He returned to Middletown in 1832, and in 1843, on the resignation of Noah A. PHELPS, Esq., he was elected mayor of Middletown for the residue of his term, and was re-elected for two years, after which he declined the office. He was, from the first, active in the promotion of the railroad enterprises, was president of the Middletown and Berlin Railroad Company, and one of the original corporators of the New York and Boston Railroad Company.

Isaac WEBB was born in Chester, and graduated from Yale in 1822, and was afterward a tutor there. He studied law in New Haven, commenced practice in Middletown in 1827 or 1828, and died in 1842, at the age of 45.

Stillman K. WIGHTMAN was a graduate of Yale in 1825. He studied law with Jonathan BARNES, Esq., and at the law school in New Haven, and was admitted to the bar in 1827. He was State attorney, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and State Senator. He removed to New York city about 1844.

Ebenezer JACKSON was a native of Savannah, Georgia, and was educated at the College of St. Mary, in Baltimore. He studied law in Litchfield, and was admitted to the bar in 1827. He was afterward a member of Congress.

Charles C. TYLER, a native of Haddam, studied law with Judge STORRS, and was admitted to the bar in 1827. He was State attorney and judge of the County Court. He was a man of infinite jest and most excellent humor. He died at Middletown on the 6th day of February 1882, having reached the 81st year of his age.

Samuel W. GRISWOLD was a native of Westfield Parish. He studied law with Abiel A. LOOMIS and Jonathan BARNES, and was admitted to the bar in 1832. He died in 1844, aged about 36.

Alfred HALL, a native of Portland, and a graduate of Trinity College in 1828, studied law in Middletown, New Haven, and Cambridge, and commenced practice in Middletown about 1833, but soon returned to Portland and became a merchant. He represented Portland in the General Assembly several years.

Elihu SPENCER, a native of Warren, Ohio, graduated at the Wesleyan University in 1838, studied law with Judge STORRS, and was admitted to the bar in 1841. He became town clerk, clerk of the County and Superior Courts, treasurer, and representative in the General Assembly.

Dennis SAGE, a graduate of Wesleyan University in 1839, studied law with Judge STORRS, and was admitted to the bar in 1842. After practicing a short time he engaged in other business.

Charles WHITTLESEY, a native of Salisbury, and a graduate of Williams College in 1840, studied law in Litchfield county, where he was admitted to the bar in 1844. In that year he commenced practice in Middletown, and he was afterward State attorney.

Norman L. BRAINERD was born in Portland. He studied law in Cambridge and in New York city, in which latter place he was engaged in practice. He afterward removed to Middletown. He was always a genial gentleman, winning the affections of those who knew him. He was a vigorous and versatile writer and a poet of no mean rank. He died at Middletown on the 30th of August 1877, in the 57th year of his age.

John Hugh PETERS was graduated at Williams College in 1798. He studied law with his brother, Judge J. T. PETERS, of the Superior Court, and commenced practice in Middle Haddam as early as 1803. He continued till 1811, when he died at the age of 35. He was well-read but modest.

Asahel UTLEY, a native of Wilbraham, Mass., was admitted to the bar in 1822. He practiced a short time in Middle Haddam, then went to East Haddam, where he remained till 1831. He then removed to Middletown, where he died the same year, at the age of 35.

Constans F. DANIELS removed to Middle Haddam from Waterford in 1822 but left in 1825.

Mark MOORE removed to Middle Haddam from Boston in 1822, but in 1825 went to Bridgeport, where he died in 1850.

Horace FOOTE, a native of Marlborough, and a graduate of Yale College in 1820, studied law with Seth P. STAPLES, Esq., of New Haven, and was admitted to the bar in1822. He removed to Cleveland, Ohio, about 1835.

Linus PARMELEE came to Haddam, with his parents, when about six years of age. He studied law with Levi H. CLARK, Esq., and was admitted to the bar in 1808 or 1809. He practiced in Haddam till 1842, then in Middle Haddam.

Elihu SPENCER, one of the most accomplished scholars and keenest logicians that ever practiced at the bar of Middlesex county, was born in Warren, Trumbull county, Ohio, in 1820. He was a grandson of Isaac SPENCER, for many years treasurer of the State of Connecticut, and great-grandson of Gen. Joseph SPENCER, of East Haddam, who was a distinguished officer n the Revolutionary Army. His father died before the subject of the present sketch was born, and while he was yet an infant his widowed mother removed, with her only son, to Connecticut and settled in Middletown.

After the usual preparatory studies he entered Wesleyan University, and was graduated from that institution in the class of 1838. After his admission to the bar he at once took high rank in his profession. He was learned without pedantry, and cultivated without ostentation. He was one of those genial natures with whom every one who can appreciate becomes enamored. He was modest, retiring, in honor preferring others, and yet possessed of a wonderful intellect, clear, penetrating and logical. Every phrase was a premise, every statement a syllogism. He was devoted to his profession and sought no other field. He refused many offices which were offered to him.

His health failed him, and after a lingering sickness, which he bore with a cheerful fortitude, he died at Middletown on the 11th of April 1828.

Hon. Moses CULVER.* (*By Hon. William W. SHIPMAN)-Moses CULVER was born in Wallingford, June 20th 1817, where he continued to reside till 1837, when he removed to Chester, where he remained till 1845. During his residence in the latter place he was engaged in mechanical labor, but all his spare hours were devoted to the cultivation of his mind. While he was still at work daily at his trade, he commenced the study of law under the instruction of the late Hon. Ely WARNER, of Chester, and, after three years of diligent application, he was admitted to the bar. In May 1845, he removed to Colchester, Connecticut, and entered upon the practice of his profession. In 1846, he removed to East Haddam, where he succeeded to the law business of the Hon. E. A. BULKELY, who had removed to Hartford. Mr. CULVER resided in East Haddam till 1856, during which time he represented the latter town one year n the lower house of the Legislature, and for several years filled the office of judge of Probate.

In 1856 he removed to Middletown, where he continued the practice of his profession, and, for six years, he was State attorney for Middlesex county. In 1860 he represented Middletown in the lower house of the Legislature.

In June 1875, he was elected a judge of the Superior court for the term of eight years, and at the expiration of the term was re-elected.

The career of Judge CULVER was a happy illustration of that sure reward which follows diligence and persistent well doing. Without the advantages of an early education, he cultivated his mind by his own unaided efforts, and rose to distinction at the bar and on the bench by devoting all his energies to the discharge of his duties. As a citizen, his name was without a stain, and in all the relations of life he bore a high character for integrity. As a lawyer he spared no pains or labor to serve the best interests of his clients, and met that success which such efforts seldom fail to win. As a judge he was honored by his associates on the bench and by the bar which practiced before him in all parts of the State; and held in high esteem by the whole community as an able and upright magistrate.

For many years Judge CULVER has been a devout member of the Congregational Church, and, in his modest demeanor, and the purity and simplicity of his daily life, has exemplified the principles of that religion which he professed. During the whole forty-six years in which he was, for most of the time, a conspicuous citizen of Middlesex county, he enjoyed the respect and confidence of all who knew him.

In 1845, he was married to Lucinda BALDWIN, of Chester, by whom he had several children, two of whom still survive. His only son, M. Eugene CULVER, Esq., is a member of the bar of Middlesex county. The death of Judge CULVER occurred on the 21st of October 1884, after a lingering illness.

This list of attorneys now residing in Middlesex county, not all, however, in active practice, is derived from the annual State Register for 1884:

Middletown-Arthur W. BACON, Conrad G. BACON, Clarence E. BACON, Eldon B. BIRDSEY, Arthur B. CALEF, M. Eugene CULVER, Daniel J. DONAHOE, William E. ELMER, Lovell HALL, John M. MURDOCK, Thomas G. MATHER, D. Ward NORTHROP, Wesley U. PEARNE, Robert G. PIKE, Silas A. ROBINSON, Charles G. R. VINAL, Frederick VINAL, Samuel L. WARREN, Harris WARREN.

Chatham-Lovell HALL.

Chester-Jonathan T. CLARK, Washington F. WILCOX.

Durham-Henry G. NEWTON (office in New Haven).

East Haddam-Julius ATWOOD, Francis H. PARKER, Hiram WILLEY, E. Emory JOHNSON.


Portland-William H. INGERSOLL, Dennis A. MCQUILLAN, John M. MURDOCK.

Saybrook-Washington F. WILCOX.

Westbrook-David A. WRIGHT.




All intercourse between the opposite sides of the Connecticut River was, till the construction of the bridges of the Air Line and Shore Line Railroads at Middletown and Saybrook Junction, by means of ferries. These bridges are only for the passage of railroad trains, but most of the travel, which would otherwise cross the ferries, goes over on these trains. The ferries are still utilized by teams and for local travel, but the great change which the establishment of railroads across the country and along the river has effected has diminished the importance of these ferries, and some of them have fallen into disuse, while others are only occasionally used.

Although at an early period facilities for crossing the river, at various points along its course, were provided by private individuals or associations of neighbors, no ferry with privileges guaranteed by law was granted till 1662, when the Saybrook ferry, between Saybrook and Lyme, was authorized by the General Court. In 1664, CHAPMAN's ferry, between Haddam and East Haddam, was granted. In 1724, BROCKWAY's between Pautapaug and North Lyme, was established and in 1726, Middletown ferry, between Middletown and what is now Portland was granted.

KNOWLES's Landing ferry was granted in 1735, but it was abandoned, and another grant was made in 1806.

In 1741, the East Haddam ferry, between Haddam and East Haddam, was granted, but it was only occasionally kept, and in 1811 a new grant was made.

Upper Houses ferry, between what are now Cromwell and Portland, was authorized in 1759.

Higganum, between Haddam and Middle Haddam, was granted in 1763.

WARNER's, between Chester and Hadlyme, was established in 1769.

Haddam ferry, between Haddam and Middle Haddam, received chartered rights in 1814.


The nearest approach to steam navigation previous to the 18th century was a boat built by John SILLIMAN, of Chester. It was in the form of a scow, with a paddle wheels propelled by horse power. He carried grain and other materials on the river, and at one time, it is said, he carried the mayor and aldermen of Hartford on an excursion rip. The loss of a load of grain, by the sinking of his boat by running onto a rock, compelled him to abandon the undertaking. At the time he met with the loss he used two sows fastened together, propelled by two horses. The wreck of these could be seen, a few years ago, just south of the Chester steamboat dock, sunk in the mud.

No steamboat is known to have run on the Connecticut River prior to 1819, except the Fulton, which plied for a short time. The Enterprise, built and owned by a Mr. KELSEY, of Middletown, came on soon afterward.

In 1824, the Connecticut River Steamboat Company put on the river the Oliver Ellsworth, a new boat, commanded by Captain Daniel HAVENS, of Norwich; and in the next season the McDonough, another new boat. These were among the best boats of that time. They were well finished and furnished, were schooner rigged, and had figure head and bowsprits, and cared work on their sterns. They were well patronized, and they did a large share of the passenger business between eastern and northern Connecticut and New York. At Calves' Island wharf, In Lyme, stages met these boats, and conveyed passengers between that point and New London, and the region east. State connections were also made at ELY's ferry for Norwich, and at Hartford for the north. The Oliver Ellsworth exploded her boiler on Long Island Sound, in March 1827, by which accident four or five lives were lost. She was repaired, and was afterward commanded by Captain STOW, of Middletown, and others, till 1834, when she left the river. At about the same time the McDonough was sold, to run between Boston and Portland, Maine.

In 1830, the Victory, and Albany boat, came on the route. Opposition brought down fares, and tickets for New York were sold as low as twenty-five cents. During the season of 1831, this boat ran in connection with the other Connecticut River boats.

In the spring of 1832, the Chief Justice Marshall, Captain Jabez HOWES, came, and continued till she was lost, near Branford, in a heavy storm, in April 1833.

In June of the same year came the Water Witch, Captain Jacob Vanderbilt, which made the passage between Hartford and New York in thirteen hours.

In August came the New England, of the Connecticut River line, a new boat, and one of the best then afloat. She was commanded by Henry WATERMAN, of Hartford. On the 9th of October 1833, at Essex, this boat exploded both her boilers, killing and wounding some 20 people. She left the river, in 1837, for the Boston and Portland line.

The next boat was the Bunker Hill, Captain SANDFORD, which was so crank on its first trip that it was at once docked, sawed in two, and lengthened, after which she did excellent work till she struck on Cow Neck, in Oyster Bay River, while enveloped by a fog, in 1841.

The Lexington, Captain VANDERBILT, ran, during part of the season of 1837, in opposition to the Bunker Hill. She was called the fastest boat of her day.

The Cleopatra, Captain REYNOLDS, came on in 1837, and ran on alternate days with the Bunker Hill and Charter Oak. Se continued on the river till 1842, most of the time under the command of Captain DUNSTAN, who was, in 1846, lost on the Atlantic, at Fisher's Island.

The Charter Oak, built at Hartford, under the supervision of Matthew HUBBARD, was an excellent steamer. She was transferred from the Hartford to the New London route. During the season after the Charter Oak was built, Mr. HUBBARD built a ship at East Haddam, for Capt. C. R. DEAN, who claimed that the Charter Oak cost him more than $500; for said he: "Every broadaxe and plane was still when that boat came in sight below Higganum. All rested to see 'Boss HUBBARD's boat.'"

The spring of 1842 found no boats plying on the Connecticut River below Hartford. The Splendid, which had run to Hartford every month in the previous winter, had been taken off.

The Kosciusko, Captain Van PELT, came on about the 1st of May. The Globe, which had been built and fitted with the engine and apparel of the wrecked Bunker Hill, appeared about the 1st of June. She was, probably, as fast a vessel, and as much a favorite, as any that ever ran on the river. Directly after the Mexican war she was sold and went to Texas. She was, during most the time she was here, under the command of captain E. D. ROATH, of Norwich.

The Kosciusko ran on the river till 1846, when the New Champion succeeded her. This boat was under the command of Captain Van PELT, and afterward of Captain TINKLEPAUGH. She was a fortunate boat, very regular in making her time, and she continued on the river till 1853, when she was succeeded by the Granite State.

The Globe was, in 1847, succeeded by the Hero, which continued till the City of Hartford came, in 1852. The Hero was, during most of this time, under the command of Captain Joseph H. KING.

In the summer of 1850, the Connecticut, Captain PECK, ran on the same days as the New Champion, and the Traveller on the days of the Hero, and fares were very low.

Early in June 1852, the City of Hartford, Captain Daniel A. MILLS, came on. She was owned by a new company, was new, large, and well fitted and furnished.

About the 1st of July 1853, the Granite State, Captain James H. KING, owned by the old company, appeared. She was new and in excellent order. For the next few years steamboating on the Connecticut River was in its glory. The Granite State and the City of Hartford, commanded by Captains KING and MILLS, afforded facilities for travel on this route that have never been surpassed.

The City of New York came out in 1866, under Captain MILLS. It was subsequently commanded by Captain DIBBLE. In August, 1881, it was sunk and badly damaged, but was rebuilt in 1882, and names the City of Springfield.

The Granite State was burnt near Goodspeed's Landing in May, 1883. The City of Hartford was refitted in that year and was named the Capitol City.

The City of Lawrence, Captain MINER, and the Capitol City, Captain RUSSELL, ran on the Hartford and New York line at present. They are good boats and are well patronized.

The Silver Star came on in 1865, and for some years it did considerable business at the river landings, but after the advent of the Connecticut Valley Railroad this business waned and the boat was sold in 1883.

The Lawrence, Captain Royal S. WHITE, commenced running between Norwich and Hartford in 1846, and continued, with the Alice, till 1850.

The Cricket, Captain POST, commenced running to New London and Long Island in 1850, and since then the Island Belle, the Mary Benton, the S. B. Camp, and the Sunshine have been on that route.

With the exception of steamboats that have navigated the river for short periods, and those which have run temporarily in the place of the regular boats, the above list contains the names and times of all the Connecticut River steamboats.


The first settlers in Middlesex county came hither by way of Connecticut River, the great natural avenue of approach to the region along its shores. A few subsequently came from eastern Massachusetts over such rugged Indian trials and paths as were then to be found in the untamed wilderness. As settlements multiplied along the river and extended back from it, communication between them was first established and maintained through paths which were chosen because of the facilities for passage which they then presented, and without reference to future exigencies or conditions. As the country became more densely populated these paths, which had become highways, were in some cases altered to meet the requirements of changing circumstances; new ones were established, and those which had become of little use were abandoned. In many cases, however, these primitive roads determined the location of those settlers who followed the pioneers, and it was afterward found difficult to change them, though the routes which they followed were not the most feasible under the changed circumstances.

As time went on points more or less distant from each other became important, and more frequent communication between them was necessary, yet during many years this communication was had by way of these tortuous and inconvenient roads; and more direct and easier routes were not adopted till after the inconveniences of the old ones had long been endured. Gradually the crooked highways were straightened where it was practicable, and the most frequently travelled roads were kept in better repair, but it was not till early in the present century that roads between important points began to be constructed and maintained in this county by incorporated companies, that received for their labor and expense tolls from those who passed over these roads.

The first of these roads in Middlesex county was the Middlesex Turnpike, that extended from Saybrook through Haddam and Middletown to GOFFE's Brook, in Wethersfield, thirty-two miles. It was incorporated in May, 1802.

At the same time the Hebron and Middle Haddam Turnpike was incorporated. It ran from Hebron Meeting House to Middle Haddam Landing, thirteen and one-half miles.

The Middletown and Berlin Turnpike, extending from Middletown through Berlin into Farmington, twenty miles, was incorporated in May, 1808.

In October of the same year the Colchester and Chatham Turnpike was granted corporate privileges. It extended from Colchester through Chatham to Middletown ferry, eighteen miles.

Chatham and Marlborough Turnpike was chartered in October, 1809, and extended from Middletown ferry, via Pistol Point, to Marlborough, ten and one-half miles.

East Haddam and Colchester Turnpike, from East Haddam Landing to Colchester Meeting House, ten and one-half miles, was chartered in October, 1809.

Middletown and Meriden Turnpike, between Middletown and Meriden Meeting House, seven miles, received its charter in October, 1809.

Durham and East Guilford Turnpike extended from Durham street through North Bristol to East Guilford Green, fourteen miles. It was chartered in May, 1811.

Middletown, Durham, and New Haven Turnpike ran from Middletown through Durham, Branford, and North Haven to New Haven, twenty-three and one-half miles. It was granted in May, 1811.

Killingworth and Haddam Turnpike was incorporated in October, 1813. It extended between Killingworth street and Higganum, fifteen and one-half miles.

Beaver Meadow Turnpike was a branch of the above. It was also chartered in October, 1813, and extended to Haddam street, four and one-third miles.

Haddam and Durham Turnpike was incorporated in May, 1815. Its length was seven and three-fourth miles, from Higganum to Durham street.

Chester and North Killingworth turnpike ran from the bridge over Chester Cove to North Killingworth, about seven miles. The charter was granted in May, 1816.

The turnpike from Norwich through East Haddam and Haddam to New Haven was chartered in October, 1817; and that from Pautapaug Point to East River bridge in Guilford, in October, 1818.

The Madison and North Killingworth Turnpike Company was incorporated in May, 1835.


This company was incorporated in July, 1882, with a capital of $300,000. Work was commenced on the road, the termini of which are indicated by the name of the company, in the latter part of 1883, and the road went into operation in the autumn of 1884. About one-half of the road lies in Middlesex County. H. C. WILCOX is president of the company; Charles PARKER, vice-president; C. L. ROCKWELL, secretary; and A. CHAMBERLAIN, treasurer.

The object of this road is to afford to the manufacturers of Meriden an additional inlet and outlet for raw material and manufactured goods, and thus to relieve them from the extortions of monopolies.

The stock is mostly owned by manufacturers and merchants in Meriden, and no debts have been incurred in the construction of the road, either by the issue of bonds or otherwise.


This was the first railroad that was constructed in this county. Its termini were Middletown and the Hartford and New Haven Railroad in the town of Berlin. The president of this company was Charles K. ALSOP, of Middletown, and many of the directors and stockholders were citizens of this county. The road was completed and went into operation in the spring of 1849. Before its completion it was merged in the Hartford and New Haven Railroad, which has since become the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad.


In 1846, a charter was obtained from the Legislature of Connecticut for the New York and Boston Railroad, from New Haven to Windham, with authority to Bridge the Connecticut River at Middletown. This charter was vetoed by the governor, but was again passed over his veto. The opposition to the measure was strong in Hartford, and an unsuccessful effort was made to procure the repeal of the bridge clause of the charter at the next session of the Legislature. Another effort, in 1848, was successful. The bridge clause was repealed, but permission was granted for an impracticable suspension bridge at the Narrows. Meantime the company had been organized, surveys had been made, and work commenced between Middletown and Sterling; but this act checked the enterprise, and work was suspended. The charter was renewed seven times, the last time in 1866. In 1868, the old bridge clause in the charter was re-enacted, notwithstanding the violent opposition that was made. The company was reorganized under the name of the New Haven, Middletown, and Willimantic Railroad, in 1867, with David LYMAN president, and O. V. COFFIN treasurer, and in June of that year work was commenced and so vigorously prosecuted that cars were put on, for freight and passengers, between New Haven and Middletown, in August 1870. On the 17th of December 1872, the bridge across the Connecticut River was completed and crossed by a locomotive, and, in February 1873, trains ran as far as East Hampton. August 12th 1873, the road was completed to Willimantic, and on that day a passenger train passed over it to that place.

The bridge over the Connecticut is a wrought iron structure, 1,250 feet in length, with a draw of 303 feet covering openings each 130 feet wide at low water. It is capable of supporting 40,000 pounds to a linear foot, which is five times the weight of any probable rolling load. Its cost was about $400,000. It was designed and built by the Keystone Bridge Company, of Pittsburg.

The cost of the road was more than six millions of dollars. Of this cost, Middletown contributed $897,000; Portland, $318,000' Chatham, $12,000; and Middlefield, $70,000.

A foreclosure of the first mortgage bonds took place in 1875, and the bondholders organized a new company under the name of the Boston and New York Air Line Railroad. The road was afterward leased to the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company for the term of ninety-nine years.


By reason of an unusual reticence on the part of the former officers of this road, only a meager history of it can be gleaned. It is learned from the recollections of those in the vicinity, that the New Haven and New London Railroad was completed, and trains first passed over it, in the summer of 1852. At the time the Connecticut River was crossed, to Lyme, by a ferry, which took over the passengers and the baggage cars of the trains. The present bridge was built about 1870. No important changes have been made in the route through Middlesex county since the road was built.

In accordance with the usual custom in such cases, and with the usual result to the stockholders, the road passed into the hands of the bondholders by the foreclosure of the first mortgage. It was afterward reorganized under its present mane, and leased for the term of ninety-nine years to the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company, by which it is now operated.


The act of the Legislature incorporating this company was passed at the May session, 1868. The incorporators were: Luther BOARDMAN, Samuel WOODRUFF, O. V. COFFIN, O. H. CLARK, H. SCOVILL, J. C. WALKLEY, Henry G. HUBBARD, H. JOHNSON, S. E. MARSH, J. SILLIMAN, D. A. MILLS, J. W. HUBBARD, E. BRAINERD, S. W. ROBBINS, Isaac ARNOLD, and R. B. SPENCER.

The first meeting of the stockholders for the election of directors was held at the MCDONOUGH House, Middletown, Saturday, October 2d 1869. The following named persons were elected directors: Oliver D. SEYMOUR, Francis B. COOLEY, Elisha T. SMITH, Nelson HOLLISTER, Frederick R. FOSTER, Seth E. MARSH, Hartford; Gaston T. HUBBARD, and Samuel BABCOCK, Middletown; Elisha STEVENS, Cromwell; James E. WALKLEY, Haddam; Luther BOARDMAN, East Haddam; Oliver H. CLARK, Chester; S. M. COMSTOCK, Essex.

At a meeting of the directors held at the same place, October 7th 1869, the following officers were elected, viz.: president, James C. WALKLEY; vice president, Luther BOARDMAN; secretary, Levi WOODHOUSE; treasurer, Nelson HOLLISTER; chief engineer, Seth E. MARSH.

The capital stock authorized by the charter was $1,200,000. The construction of the road commenced in 1869, and the first shovelful of earth was thrown by Mrs. WALKLEY, wife of the president. The road was completed from Hartford to Saybrook Point, June 30th 1871, and from thence to Fenwick in 1872.

First mortgage bonds to the amount of $1,000,000 and second mortgage bonds to $1,250,000 were issued.

The cost of construction was much greater than was anticipated and the road did not prove a financial success. The result was that the first mortgage bondholders were compelled to assume control of it and the stock ceased to be of any value.

On the first of July 1880, the company was reorganized under the name of the Hartford and Connecticut Valley Railroad Company, and the following gentlemen were elected directors, viz.: Samuel BABCOCK, Timothy M. ALLYN, Charles T. HILLYER, Chester W. CHAPIN, Richard D. HUBBARD, Henry KELLOGG, Charles M. BEACH, Franklin CHAMBERLAIN, and Daniel C. SPENCER. The officers were: Samuel BABCOCK, president; Henry KELLOGG, vice president; C. H. SMITH jr., secretary and treasurer.

The present officers are: Samuel BABCOCK, president and treasurer; George H. WATROUS, vice president; W. C. BRAINARD, secretary and assistant treasurer; O. M. SHEPA

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