HISTORY OF NEW LONDON COUNTY, CONNECTICUT,
WITH BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF MANY OF ITS PIONEERS AND PROMINENT MEN.
COMPILED UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF D. HAMILTON HURD
J. W. LEWIS & CO., PHILADELPHIA, 1882
PRESS OF J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO., PHILADELPHIA
[transcribed by Janece Streig]
Gen. Jedediah HUNTINGTON.-Among the distinguished names of those of the Revolutionary era which shed a luster about New London County, that of Gen. Jedediah HUNTINGTON stands pre-eminent. Born of a noble stock, he united inherited excellence with a superior education, and was eminently qualified for the important positions, both in the field and council, to which he was subsequently elected.
He was born in Norwich, Aug. 4, 1743, where he was prepared for a collegiate course, and graduated at Harvard College with distinguished honor in the class of 1763. The high social rank of his family is indicated by the order of his name on the college catalogue, it being the second in the list of his class, above that of John QUINCY. The Master's degree was also conferred on him by Yale College in 1770. After leaving college he became associated with his father in commercial pursuits, and was engaged in this business when the Revolutionary cloud began to lower, and he soon became noted as a Son of Liberty and an active captain of the militia. The bursting of the storm found him ready, and just one week from the firing of the first shot at Lexington he reported at Cambridge with a regiment under his command, and was detailed to occupy Dorchester Heights. After the evacuation of Boston by the British he marched with his army to New York, and entertained the commander-in-chief on the way at Norwich.
During the year 1776 he was at New York, Kingsbridge, Northcastle, Sidmun's Bridge, and other posts. In April of that year he assisted in repulsing the British at Danbury, Conn., assailing the enemy's rear, and effecting a junction with his fellow-townsman, Benedict Arnold.
In March, 1777, Roger SHERMAN writes thus, "Col. HUNTINGTON was recommended by Gen. WASHINGTON as a fit person for brigadier, but then Connecticut had more than her share." May 12th of that year he was promoted to that rank, as Mr. SHERMAN states, "at Gen. WASHINGTON's request." In July he joined Gen. PUTNAM at Peekskill with all the Continental troops which he could collect, and in the following September was ordered to join the main army near Philadelphia, where he remained at headquarters, at Worcester, Whippin, Whitemarsh, Gulph Hills, etc. In November, on receiving information of the enemy's movement upon Red Bank, he was detached with his brigade, among other troops, to its relief, but Cornwallis had anticipated them. Having shared the hardships of his companions in arms at Valley Forge thorugh the winter of 1777-78, he, together with Col. WIGGLESWORTH, was in March appointed by the commander-in-chief "to aid Gen. MCDOUGAL in inquiring into the loss of Forts Montgomery and Clinton, in the State of New York, and into the conduct of the principal officers commanding those posts." In May he was ordered with his brigade to the North River, and was stationed successively at Camp Reading, Highlands, Neilson's Point. Springfield, Shorthills, Potowa, Peekskill, West Point, etc. In July he was a member of the courtmartial which tried Gen. Charles LEE for misconduct at the battle of Monmouth, and in September he sat upon the court of inquiry to whom was referred the case of Maj. ANDRÉ. In December, 1780, his was the only Connecticut brigade that remained in the service. On the 10th of May, 1783, at a meeting of officers, he was appointed one of a committee of four to draft a plan of organization, which resulted in their reporting on the 13th the constitution of the famous "Society of Cincinnati." On the 24th of June, Washington writes that the army was "reduced to a competent garrison for West Point, Patterson, Huntington, and Greaton being the only brigadiers now left with it, besides the adjutant-general." At the close of the war he received the brevet rank of Major-general. Gen. HUNTINGTON was also one of the founders of West Point Academy.
On returning from the army he resumed business in his native town, and was successively chosen sheriff of the county, State treasurer, and delegate to the State convention which adopted the constitution of the United States.
In 1789 he was appointed by President Washington collector of customs at New London, then the port of entry for Eastern Connecticut and Connecticut River, which office he retained under four administrations, and resigned shortly before his death.
At twenty-three years of age he made a public profession of religion, and was for many years an officer and pillar of the church of which he was a member. "His munificence, for its profusion, its uniformity, its long continuance, and for the discretion by which it was directed," was pronounced "without an example or parallel in his native State." Gen. HUNTINGTON was twice married. His first wife was a daughter of Governor TRUMBULL, and she died at Dedham, Mass., while on her way to the camp to visit her husband. Two of her brothers, one of them the distinguished painter, were associated with her husband in the war, of which her father was one of the main supports. She died leaving a son. His second wife was Ann, daughter of Thomas MOORE, and sister of Bishop MOORE, of Virginia. She survived her husband, and was the mother of seven children.
Gen. HUNTINGTON died in New London, Sept. 25,1818, where his remains were interred, though subsequently transferred to the family tomb at Norwich.
[Transcriber's Note: There is a picture of Gen. HUNTINGTON in the book.]
William A. BUCKINGHAM was born May 28, 1804, in the town of Lebanon, Conn. He is a descendant of a family of Puritans, who left England and migrated to America in 1637. The memorials of the family are still preserved, from Thomas BUCKINGHAM, the pioneer, down to the present time, nearly two centuries and a half. Throughout the line they have been men remarkable for earnestness and piety, and his immediate ancestors were specially notable for kindness of heart, firmness of purpose, and nobility of character. Reared under the tutelage of such parents, and with the pure blood of a noble ancestry coursing through his veins. It is not strange that Governor BUCKINGHAM developed a noble manhood. He was educated at the public schools of the day, and during vacations he performed his part of the labor incident to a farmer's life. At the early age of eighteen he began life for himself. His first venture was as a teacher. He taught but one year, however, and then relinquished the calling for the to him more congenial vocation of merchant. He engaged first as clerk with a mercantile firm at Norwich, and made a study of his pursuit. At the age of twenty-three he deemed himself sufficiently well versed in trade to commence business for himself. He opened a store in Norwich, and met with success from the beginning. He soon added manufacturing to his mercantile pursuits, and the latter venture proving so profitable, he in 1848 abandoned merchandising altogether, and devoted his entire energies and means to the development of his manufacturing business. Prosperity and success crowned his efforts, and as the knowledge of his character and abilities spread abroad the circle of his personal influence and popularity expanded, and he became noted for possessing in a remarkable degree that stern integrity and grandeur of character which had distinguished his ancestors.
Up to the year 1856 Governor BUCKINGHAM had given no particular attention to politics, had never courted or accepted office further than the mayoralty of Norwich. In principle, however, he had always been a Whig and opposed to the institution of slavery. The repeal of the "Missouri Compromise" roused his nature, however, and in the Presidential canvass of 1856 he came forth as an active, ardent, and intelligent Republican. His name was placed on the Republican electoral ticket, and greatly contributed to its success. Becoming thus extensively and favorably known to the people of his State, he in 1858 was nominated on the Republican ticket and elected Governor of Connecticut. For eight consecutive years he was re-elected to that exalted and honorable position. Those years cover the most eventful period of American history. From the fall of Fort Sumter it has been said of him that he "devoted himself, mind, body, and estate, to the Union cause." From the "Military and Civil History of Connecticut during the War of 1861-65" we quote the following: "the Governor anticipate the enactment of laws, assumed responsibility, and pledged his private credit in purchase of supplies and munitions of war, etc. When the Legislature assembled it passed acts of indemnity, and literally placed the whole resources of the State at his disposal." Never was a trust more faithfully executed. To a citizen of the State whose duties kept him at the front Governor BUCKINGHAM said, "You will see many battles and much suffering: don't let any Connecticut man suffer for want of anything that can be done for him,--if it costs money, draw on me for it." His last term as Governor expired in May, 1866. In May, 1868, he was elected Senator of the United States, and for a period of six years, he remained a much-revered, able, efficient, and highly-respected member of that august body. When the session of 1874-75 began it was manifest that his active and useful career was drawing to a close. Though his mind still remained clear and strong, yet his bodily health was fast failing. His last days were peaceful and serene. A short time prior to his demise he sank into unconsciousness, and thus fell asleep. The representatives and dignitaries of the land gathered round his bier to take one fond look at their compeer and associate. Many and sincere were the eulogies pronounced on Governor William A. BUCKINGHAM by men high in station, and deep and sorrowful were the heart-throbbings of all who had the good fortune to know him. In his early manhood he embraced the Christian faith and united himself to the church of his ancestors.
Through life, in all its varied relations, he was true to its teachings. Of all the great, grand, and noble men Connecticut has furnished to the world there is no one to whom she can point with more pride and which posterity will more delight to honor than William A. BUCKINGHAM, the great war Governor.
[Transcriber's Note: There is a picture of Gov. BUCKINGHAM in the book.]
Gen. William WILLIAMS was born in Stonington, Conn., March 12, 1788. He was the son of William WILLIAMS, a self-made man of great business enterprise, and a citizen often honored by various offices of trust and responsibility. He inherited from his father to some extend that fondness for mercantile pursuits which distinguished him, and that perseverance and tenacity of purpose which contributed so largely to his success. He was educated at the district schools in Stonington and the Plainfield Academy, and at an early age commenced his business career as clerk in a store in his native town. He remained here, however, but a short time, when he went to New York and entered the commission-house of W. & S. Robinson, where he served a faithful clerkship of about three years, acquiring a practical knowledge of the duties of a shipping merchant's vocation.
In July, 1806, when eighteen years of age, he returned to Stonington, and soon after was dispatched as supercargo in one of his father's vessels bound for Labrador, and thence to Bordeaux. This was his first voyage, and consumed two years. Upon his return he commenced on his own account in New London, but soon after removed to Norwich, and in company with his father turned his attention to manufactures. He engaged in manufacturing flour on a large scale, and afterwards of that of cotton, until the closing up of this kind of enterprise, in the years 1818 and 1819. He then returned to mercantile life, and from 1821 to 1827 made a number of successful commercial voyages to Europe and South America. In 1828 he engaged in the whaling business with the late Capt. Acors BARNS, under the firm-name of Williams & BARNS, and remained interested in the whaling business until his death. This was an enterprising and successful firm, and contributed largely to the reputation New London attained as a famous whaling port.
He was one of the corporators of the Merchants' Bank of Norwich in 1833, and was chosen its first president, and officiated in that capacity a quarter of a century, until he resigned at the age of seventy.
In his connection with the militia of the State he rose through the several grades up to the rank of major-general, a title which adhered to him to the last, and by which he was almost universally addressed. He manifested a laudable interest in educational matters, and was one of the public-spirited men who organized and endowed the Norwich Free Academy, which has proved one of the model high schools of New England. He united with the Congregational Church in 1820, and remained a consistent and prominent member of the church during life. His charities were large and judicious. He was a corporate member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and vice-president of the Bible, Seaman's Friend, and Home Missionary Societies. For nearly a quarter of a century he devoted a large portion of the cause of education in Eastern Connecticut, and during many seasons he visited annually nearly ever school district within twenty miles of his home, distributing among them useful books and papers, and encouraging both teachers and pupils by his words of advice and the interest he evinced in their welfare.
He always manifested an especial interest in the moral and religious condition of the Mohegan Indians, living on a government reservation a few miles from Norwich, and by his personal efforts and weekly visits their church was in a great measure sustained.
In May, 1862, Gen. WILLIAMS and his estimable wife celebrated their golden wedding, and in July, 1870, he celebrated the completion of fifty years' union with the church in which he had so long been a leading member and counselor, and for nearly twenty-five years a consistent and useful office-bearer. In his death, which occurred Oct. 28, 1870, Norwich lost one of its oldest and most respected citizens and benefactors.
[Transcriber's Note: There is a picture of Gen. WILLIAMS in the book.]
Harried PECK WILLIAMS.1 -The long married life of this venerable and beloved lady, extending over more than fifty-eight years, needs little record than that of the prosperity, the wide and useful influence, the noble hospitality, and the large munificence of her husband, Gen. William WILLIAMS, recounted elsewhere in this volume, and more fully in the Congregational Quarterly for July, 1872. She was the daughter of Capt. Bela PECK, some of whose high qualities of character she reproduced in her own life, and whose memory she loved to honor. [1 Contributed by Rev. Leonard Woolsey BACON, D. D.] The death of her husband in 1870 left her the last survivor of her family. All her three children, the last of them in the strength of manhood, had preceded her husband to the grave. With what stately courtesy, bright wit, and true benevolence she ministered the hospitalities and charities of the bereaved but cheerful house there are multitudes, both rich and poor, to testify.
All the time when her husband was among the leaders in the founding of the Free Academy, she of herself instituted various prizes for scholarship, and founded the library of the new institution, naming it, in honor of her father, "The Bela PECK Library." It was in her widowhood that the building of the Park Church was undertaken, and to that enterprise she gave earnest thought and prayer and liberal benefactions. The lot for the church, immediately opposite her window, the chime of ten bells, the clock,2 the great window in the west transept were among her gifts. But generous as she was in public charities, it was in acts of private and personal beneficence that she most abounded. In her last will she bequeathed the greater part of her fortune for the foundation of a high school for girls at New London, in memory of her son, Thomas W. WILLIAMS, who at the time of his death was a citizen of that place. [2 The gift of the tower-clock was made in the closing year of Mrs. WILLIAMS' life. Soon after it had been put in place, at a church festival, a series of conundrums on the clock was proposed, among which was this: "Why is it like its giver? Because it is full of good works." When the old lady heard of this she remarked that a better answer would be, "Because it bears the marks of time on its face." Her friends will recognize the quick wit of the answer as characteristic of the dear old lady.] She was born at Norwich town, March 17, 1795, was married May, 1812, and died Oct. 14, 1880.
[Transcriber's Note: There is a picture of Mrs. WILLIAMS in the book.]
Charles JOHNSON3 traces his ancestry to Capt. Edward JOHNSON, who was born at Herne Hill, near Canterbury, Kent, England, in 1599. He came to America with Governor Winthrop, and was his intimate friend. He was a founder of Woburn, Mass., and was one of the most prominent men of his time. For many years he was a captain in the colonial army, and was also a deputy to the General Court for the colony of Massachusetts, and served on many important committees. He died at Woburn, April 23, 1672. He was the author of the first history of New England ever published. It was printed in London in 1654, entitled "Wonderworking Providence of Sion's Savior in New England." This is now a very rare work, and commands a high price. Only a few copies of this antique publication are in existence, one of which is owned by Mr. C. C. JOHNSON, of this city. The ancestral line from Capt. Edward JOHNSON to the subject of this sketch is as follows: John JOHNSON, fifth son of Capt. Edward JOHNSON, was born in England in 1635 or '36; Obadiah JOHNSON, third son of John, was born at Woburn, Mass., Jan. 15, 1664; Obadiah JOHNSON, second son of Obadiah above named, was born at Canterbury, April 10, 1703. For wealth, religion, and political influence he was one of the first men in that part of the colony. [3 The following sketch is taken principally from the Norwich Daily Bulletin.] Obadiah JOHNSON, grandfather of the subject of this sketch and son of Obadiah, was born in Canterbury, Feb. 18, 1736, and died Oct. 27, 1801. He was conspicuous during the Revolutionary war, and held the office of lieutenant-colonel and colonel in the Continental army, and was a brave and gallant officer. His commission, signed by John HANCOCK, president of Congress, is in the possession of Mr. C. C. JOHNSON.
John JOHNSON, fourth son of Obadiah and Lucy CADY JOHNSON, was born at Canterbury, Sept. 26, 1774. They had nine children, of whom Charles JOHNSON was the eldest son.
Charles JOHNSON was born in Jewett City, April 29, 1806, and spent the earlier period of his life in that thriving village. When about fourteen years of age he began working in the cotton-mill at that place, where he remained two years, at the expiration of which time, says the "New England Official Directory and Handbook," he was taken into the factory-store and office, remaining there until the mill was sold to Samuel and John SLATER. From 1824 to 1824 he was employed as accountant by the Hopkins & Morse Machine Company, of Norwich; as book-keeper in the Griswold Woolen Company, by Trumbull, Breed & Co., from 1824 to 1827." Becoming of age in the last-named year, he invested the savings of this period of labor in a mercantile enterprise in which he was associated with his father, under the firm-name of John JOHNSON & Son, and which he pursued with a profit which thus early indicated his possession of shrewd business talent. Later he conducted a store at Norwich Falls under the firm-name of COBB & JOHNSON.
When the Jewett City Bank was organized in 1831, Mr. Charles JOHNSON was chosen its cashier at the modest salary of two hundred dollars per annum. Three years afterwards, when the late Newton PERKINS, of this city, resigned the corresponding position in the old Norwich Bank to accept the treasurership of the Ohio Life and Trust Company, Mr. JOHNSON was offered and accepted the vacant position at a salary of one thousand dollars, beginning his services in January, 1835, and being succeeded in the cashiership at Jewett City by his father, who retained it until within a year of the close of his life, a period of some twenty years, In the year 1847, upon the death of the late Jabez HUNTINGTON, Mr. JOHNSON was chosen president of the Norwich Bank, and held that position until his demise.
At the time Mr. JOHNSON came to this city the business of the young Norwich Savings Society was conducted in the same edifice with the venerable Norwich Bank, and Mr. JOHNSON assisted in transacting its then diminutive business. In June, 1840, he was made a trustee, and about the same time a director, and in 1865, on the death of the late Joseph WILLIAMS, he was chosen its president.
It was in connection with these institutions that Mr. JOHNSON was most prominently known in the community, and in his relations with both his duties were ever performed with a scrupulous precision and honesty that are worthy of the widest imitation. The Norwich Bank is one of the three oldest banks in Connecticut, and has a record of which those who have been connected with it have always been peculiarly and justly proud. Since it was founded, some eighty-three years ago, it has not one failed to pay its regular semi-annual dividend, and it is largely due to the discretion and virtue of Mr. JOHNSON that it has stood so well and proved so successful for the past forty-five years. During his connection with the Savings Society the deposits have swelled form less than one hundred and fifty thousand to nearly eight million of dollars, and more than fifty thousand persons have availed themselves of its privileges. With the principal share of the grave responsibility of judiciously investing this money, and of protecting the loans when one made, Mr. JOHNSON was charged for many years.
In addition to his regular banking business, Mr. Johnson conducted extensive brokerage operations for many years, and was called upon to administer several public and private trusts. In the first-named capacity, and in connection with the Savings-Bank, he probably place more money than any other gentleman in Norwich. His management of estates, as of all other trusts, was marked by exactness, even to the minutest details, and by universally recognized fidelity to the interests of his clients. Never was it suggested that he had misused a cent that was not his own. The office of the treasurer of the Otis Library ever since the first meeting of the trustees, twenty-nine years ago, and of the local fund for the benefit of the soldiers' families during the late war, were only two of several responsibilities imposed upon him and borne with satisfaction to the community.
Among Mr. JOHNSON's other public relations may be mentioned his share in the directory of the Norwich and Worcester Railroad from 1848 to 1869; he was the only member of the board who openly asserted his disapproval of the lease to the New York and New England management, believing that negotiation to be detrimental to Norwich interests. For more than six years prior to his death he had been engaged in reorganizing the affairs of the Southern Minnesota Railroad, in the interest of the first mortgage bondholders, having been elected first director in the new company, and having had the most prominent share in the undertaking. The interest involved was some six million dollars; and inasmuch as Mr. JOHNSON had been one of the several who had marketed those bonds here, it was a great consolation to him that, after their depreciation, they had been again brought up to or above the price at which they were originally taken. The work of reorganization had been very nearly consummated before his death; but it was a matter of regret that he could make just one more trip to New York to arrange a few remaining details. Mr. JOHNSON was one of the originators of the Norwich City Gas Company, in which he was a director until the time of his death. From 1845 to 1851 he was president of the Norwich Fire Insurance Company, now defunct. Of all the old directors of this corporation, as also the original directors of the Norwich Bank and the trustees of the Otis Library, he was the last to be taken away.
Mr. Johnson was a large contributor to the Second congregational Church of this city until the formation of the Park Church and society, towards which he subsequently held a similar relation. Of the former he was more than once treasurer. He was prominent and enthusiastic in the movement for the erection of a new place of worship on the Plain, though reluctant to have a distinct organization effected. No one gave more largely than he, in proportion to his means, to the new enterprise. Mr. JOHNSON was also one of the incorporators of the Free Academy. It might be remarked in this connection that Mr. JOHNSON was not only a liberal giver, but was also gifted with the public spirit, the tact and energy which made him prominent and successful in all sorts of movements for raising money.
A large part of Mr. JOHNSON's life is recorded only in the grateful memories of those whom he had pecuniarily and otherwise befriended. He was a man of large and varied through quiet benevolence. Although he lived in a very unostentatious way and died without any accumulation of wealth, it has been estimated by one who knew him well that he scattered during his life nearly one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for religious and benevolent purposes and personal charities. Never anything of a politician, and not always hopeful in his views, he nevertheless took a decided interest in national affairs, and was fond of discussing them with his friends. In the days of the old Whig party he was a devoted admirer of Daniel WEBSTER, whose funeral at Marshfield, in 1852, he attended as an act of personal reverence. In the days of the anti-slavery agitation he was a strong Abolitionist, and later an ardent friend of the Union cause and of the universal brotherhood of mankind. The eagerness with which he watched the progress of material civilization amounted almost to a passion, and he took pride in relating the circumstance that he sent the first pad telegram over the wire from Baltimore to Washington. Another one of his traits was his singularly clear memory, which retained events and dates of even trifling importance with rare accuracy, and which was often of great assistance to his associated in business.
Though well fitted to enjoy domestic happiness and to confer it, Mr. JOHNSON's life was clouded by signal bereavements. He was thrice robbed of the conjugal partners of his joys and sorrows by death, and lost two promising children also. The only surviving child is Mr. C. C. JOHNSON, of this city. Mr. JOHNSON was a consistent Christian, and the advancement of the religious interests of the city found in him an earnest advocate. A former friend and pastor speaks of Mr. JOHNSON as "one who was such a signal embodiment of every noble, unselfish, and generous trait as to give a new significance to the word friend. He was a representative of everything that was noble, and his life was a river of help and cheer to all who knew him." For his varied and prolonged business activities, his faithfulness to large responsibilities, his quick response to the demands of charity or public weal, his modest voluntary generosity, and his cordial and gentlemanly bearing, Mr. JOHNSON will be long held in kindly rememberance by the community of which for so long a period he was so useful and worthy a member, and prove a wholesome model to a rising generation. He died April 16, 1879.
[Transcriber's Note: There is a picture of Mr. JOHNSON in the book.]
Charles OSGOOD.-A man who entirely by his own efforts rose to affluence and social position, and through all the changing events of a remarkably active business life preserved his integrity unimpeached, well deserves the pen of the historian. Such as one was Dr. Charles OSGOOD, of honored memory. Without the advantages of inherited aid, he worked the problem of his own fortune and lived to enjoy the fruition of a successful business career.
He was born in Lebanon, Conn., in February, 1808. He was graduated at the Plainfield Academy, and having decided upon the medical profession as a life-work, he commenced its study in the office of his father, the late Dr. Erastus OSGOOD, who for nearly half a century was a successful practitioner in this section.
In 1833 he graduated from Yale College, receiving a medical diploma from that institution. In the same year he went to Providence, R. I., and became associated with Dr. ARNOLD in the practice of medicine. Here he remained but a short time, and removing to Monroe, Mich., at once entered upon a large and successful practice. In 1840 he returned to his native county, locating in this city, and in the following year, 1841, established his drug business, which subsequently made his name familiar in the business circles of the East. He commenced business in this city, in the building now occupied by the Henry Bill Publishing Company, on Shetucket Street. Here was located his first drug-store and laboratory. He pursued his business with energy and tact, and came to be ranked among the millionaires of Connecticut.
The history of the life of Dr. OSGOOD since his return to Norwich is in a great measure a history of the town itself. He was identified with the city as but few men have been. In every enterprise that a large public spirit inspired his hand was always among those most potent, his practical wisdom most earnestly sought and prized, and his purse always ready.
He was connected with many prominent manufacturing institutions and corporations, among which may be mentioned the Boston Rubber She Company, located at Malden, Mass.; the Brown Cotton-Gin Company, at New London; the Norwich City Gas Company, etc. He was prominent in banking circles; was the founder of the Shetucket Bank, and was its president from its organization in 1853. He was also a director in the New London Mutual Fire Insurance Company, in the Norwich Water-Power Company, and was one of the vice-presidents of the Norwich Savings Society. Dr. OSGOOD also did much to advance the interest of the New London Junction Railroad, and was its president since 1873.
He not only labored to advance the business interests of the city, but educational matters also found in him an earnest advocate. He aided in founding the Free Academy, and became one of its incorporators.
Politically Dr. OSGOOD was a Democrat, but never a bitter partisan. He seemed content with the places of honor and trust won by his business achievements, and had little ambition for public office. In 1876, however, by the earnest solicitation of his fellow-citizens, he accepted the nomination for the mayoralty of the city and was elected; but failing health compelled him to resign when his term had only half expired. He dignified the office as long as he held it, and his resignation evoked universal expression of regret from his fellow-citizens irrespective of party.
Dr. Charles OSGOOD was a good citizen, a gentleman of superior culture, genial and social in manner, very popular with the masses, and was distinguished for his sterling integrity and business energy and tact. He died March 18, 1881, leaving a wife, two sons, Charles H. and F. L. OSGOOD, and a daughter (wife of A. C. TYLER).
[Transcriber's Note: There is a picture of Dr. OSGOOD in the book.]
Leonard BALLOU.-After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in the early part of the seventeenth century, a large body of Huguenots, driven from their homes in the "sunny land of France" by the relentless persecutions under the reign of Louis XIV., fled to this county in search of religious liberty.
As a body they represented the most intelligent, industrious, and enterprising of her citizens, belonging principally to the nobility and middle classes. They brought with them to the American colonies characters and habits which were of more value than large amounts of money, together with the most useful industrial arts of their native land. Their descendants, in New England, New York, and the West, have been among our most useful and honored citizens, and their names are blended with our national history. The most notable instance is seen in the life of our late President James A. GARFILED, who inherited a marked degree the characteristics of his ancestor, Maturin BALLOU, the earliest of the name in this country, who settled on the shore of Narragansett Bay, and afterwards became identified with the Roger WILLIAMS colony. His son Nathaniel subsequently purchased a large tract of land in Cumberland, in the colony of Rhode Island, and engaged in its cultivation. His eldest son, according to the law of primogeniture, then in force, inherited all the landed estate of his father, but he, not recognizing the principle of the old feudal system, gave a farm to each of his brothers. Of these, Noah had ten children, many of whom, together with their ancestors and four succeeding generations, counting seven in all, lie buried in the old BALLOU burying-ground, in Cumberland, opposite the old church long known as the Elder BALLOU Meeting-house, its pulpit having been occupied for thirty-five years by Elder Abner BALLOU, who died in 1806, in his eighty-first year. The old meeting-house, which was built in the seventeenth century, has long ceased to be a place of regular worship, but had become a sort of Mecca, to which the BALLOUs from all parts of the country make regular pilgrimages. The old house is built of wood, shingled on the outside, and has a gallery and pews, all hewn from solid oak, and put together with wooden pins. At the time of its construction there were no saw-mills in the country, and no nails were to be purchased, and even the floor was originally hewn from oak and fastened down with wooden pins. The pulpit was built with a solidity which was absolutely essential to its permanence under the eloquent and vehement fervor of the many BALLOUs who occupied it from generation to generation.
The second Noah, who was the son of the one before mentioned, and the father of Leonard BALLOU, the subject of this sketch, having enterprise, industry, and mechanical skill, engaged in the business of boat-building, quite an important industry at that period, in addition to his farming interests. In his sixteenth year he entered the Revolutionary army, and afterwards became a commissioned officer under Gen. GREENE. He died in Cumberland, in 1843, in the eighty-fourth year of his age.
His eldest son, Leonard, was born in Cumberland, Feb. 23, 1794, and in his boyhood attended the common school of the town. He afterwards pursued his studies in a private school preparatory to a classical course, working in the mean time in his father's shop and on the farm. When he had reached the age of sixteen the non-intercourse act and the embargo which preceded the war of 1812 entirely destroyed all the mechanical industries of the country connected with commerce, and the father was obliged to abandon his plans for the higher education of his son. The next winter he taught acceptably the public school in his own district, and later had charge of a much larger school in another part of the town. Under these circumstances, finding that he must rely upon his own efforts for his future support, and having a natural taste for mechanical pursuits, as well as a facility in the use of tools, acquired in his father's shop, he sought and obtained work as a carpenter and joiner in building houses for the small manufacturing establishments just making their appearance on the Blackstone River. In 1819 he entered the employment of Jason TOWER, a millwright, engaged at that time in mill-work generally, and in building a water-wheel for Mr. HARRIS. The charge of constructing and placing the wheel, and arranging the shafting, with the gearing, pulleys, draws, etc., crude as they were in that early period of manufacturing, developed chiefly on Mr. BALLOU, a great responsibility for a young man of so little experience in that specialty. At that time there were few competent mechanics, even in Rhode Island, where the first mills were erected.
He succeeded so entirely to the satisfaction of Mr. HARRIS that soon afterwards, when Watson, Tingley & Rathbone, of Providence, proposed to take up the water-power at the present important manufacturing centre, Willimantic, Conn., then almost a wilderness, he recommended the young BALLOU as a competent man for that great work, involving, as it did, not only the construction of the water-wheel, shafting, etc., for the mill, but also determining the fall of the water-power by practical engineering, which had not then been reduced to an exact science.
Young as he was, diffident as to his ability to accomplish the work, he yet saw that if he was to earn larger wages than an ordinary mechanic he must do what an ordinary mechanic could not do. Acting under the advice of his friend HARRIS, he went to Willimantic, surveyed the water-power, constructed the wheel, shafted the mill, and applied the water successfully, thus justifying the confidence of Mr. HARRIS as to his ability, and having the satisfaction of engineering the first water-power in a wild and almost uninhabitable section, which to-day teems with a large and thriving populations, and whose immense and elegant mills represent the highest manufacturing skill to be found in New England. On Mr. BALLOU's return to Rhode Island his services were eagerly sought after as a millwright by the WILKINSONs, the SLATERs, and the BROWNs, who were the leading manufacturers of that period.
In 1825, having accumulated a small property as the result of this hard labor, he decided he would have a mill of his own, however, small it might be, and in November of that year he purchased a mill privilege on the Five-Mile River, in Killingly, Conn.
On this privilege was a small mill, built for the purpose of grinding rye to make gin, a business then very common in that part of the State. The power was so poorly applied that it was barely possible to carry one run of stones, while to-day, known as the BALLOU Mills, it runs twenty-six thousand spindles.
Here cam in the value of the knowledge which he had acquired of the capacity of mill-sites, and which led to his future success.
In making this purchase his father-in-law, Jabez AMSBURY, a practical machinist, was associated with hi, under the firm-name of AMSBURY & BALLOU.
During the winter they built a part of the necessary machinery. The following spring they removed their families to Killingly, and with them came George WEATHERHEAD, another son-in-law, and Mowry AMSBURY, son of Jabez AMSBURY.
The entire capital possessed by the parties was six thousand dollars, but each was qualified to fill the position required in the running of a small mill, Mr. BALLOU being the manager and leading spirit of the whole.
Their small capital necessitated their utilizing the old gin-mill, which was a small one-story building; but soon, under the impulses and labors of these earnest workers, it assumed the form of a factory, fifty feet long, thirty-two feet wide, and three stories in height. They started the mill in the following autumn, with only ten looms in full operation.
After running the factory for one year, Mr. BALLOU discovered that an income sufficient to support four families could not be derived from the product of ten loons. He saw from the beginning that the only way to realize a larger profit was to increase the machinery, which had been contemplated in the building of the factory, but he had not the money to do this, and he hesitated.
He was in a dilemma. Instead of laying up a small sum every year, as he had been doing while working for others, he found himself losing daily working for himself. But that was not the worst of it. His father-in-law and brothers-in-law could not abandon the enterprise without great loss and even failure, and to him alone they looked for relief.
Of the BALLOUs it may be truly said that whatever they undertake they seldom or never stop at any obstacle to success which industry, energy, and enterprise can conquer, and this was the trait of character for which the subject of this sketch was pre-eminently distinguished.
Yet a young man with very little experience in the management of business affairs, he sough the advice of a friend in Providence, R. I.,--a gentleman of excellent reputation as a manufacturer, of a kindly nature and sound judgment,--and was confirmed in his own opinion as to the necessity of the case and its remedy; but, always careful and conservative, he hesitated about incurring so large an indebtedness, and feared he might not be able to raise the money and feared he might not be able to raise the money to carry out the plan, until his friend assured him that he would give him whatever aid he might need, saying to him, "Go ahead, and I will see that you do not fail." The machinery was ordered the same day, and he returned home greatly encouraged by the confidence placed in him by the successful merchant and shrewd business man, who had known him but a single year, but had doubtless discerned in him qualities which satisfied him that the loan of his credit would not be misplaced.
The business at once commenced to increase, and the firm were able to meet all their payments without availing themselves of the proffered aid. Mr. BALLOU always regarded this event as "the turn in the tide" of his affairs "which led on to fortune." Having secured these increased facilities, he made a contact with Robert RHODES, of Providence, to receive cotton and manufacture cloth for a fixed price per yard, plus providing for the working capital to run the mill. In 1833 he commenced to buy his own cotton, and sold his goods in New York, and during the financial crisis of 1837 made no losses, while many other manufacturers were greatly embarrassed by the failure of their commission-houses. It is a notable fact that during that year the paper of every domestic commission merchant in New York went to protest excepting that of two firms, and with them alone had Mr. BALLOU any business relations.
In 1834 he increased the capacity of his mill more than double, and in 1836 purchased the entire interests of his partners, whom he helped to establish in mills of their own on the same river.
In subsequent years he continued to enlarge his mill, and introduced new machinery as his means accumulated and the inventions of the age made it imperative, for he never could be satisfied is his relative cost of production, which is the key to manufacturing success, was not as low as any of his competitors.
He passed through the several financial crisis of half a century without compromise of any kind and with steadily-increasing resources, relying always for success on the result of patient, honest, and skillful labor rather than on any combination of any especially favorable circumstances, promising speculations, or hazardous ventures. His unimpeachable integrity, promptness in meeting his payments, never having failed to meet any indebtedness, never having been sued, and never having sued any other person, all contributed to make him respected and honored by all who knew him.
The unusual success of Mr. BALLOU in the manufacture of cotton goods in a small mill, where so many of his compeers have failed, was due in great measure to the fact that his mechanical education and superior intelligence in the manufacturing departments enabled him to adopt or reject the various new theories or systems which were daily presented during nearly half a century of business life, and thus he never failed to produce fabrics at the smallest possible cost.
Yet he was one of the most considerate of mill-owners to his operatives. Their counselor and friend, to them, as to others, his name as a synonym for honesty and fair dealing, and they regarded him with respect and affection.
His opinions were sought on all occasions with reference to manufacturing changes and methods, even to the last years of his life, for even in his retiracy he loved to mark the progress of his favorite business, which he had seen rise almost from its birth, with its crude devices and surroundings, and lived to see the rapid improvements and ingenious applications which have resulted in making a modern cotton-mill one of the wonders of the nineteenth century.
He had for many years entertained the purpose of retiring from active business when he should attain the age of threescore and ten. Accordingly, in February, 1864, he closed his career as a manufacturer, and sold all his property in Killingly to the Attawaugan Company. The village where he first commenced operations is now known as Ballouville.
After that time his only active business was the discharge of financial trusts in connection with various corporations in which a portion of his capital was invested. He was director of the First National Bank of Norwich for thirty-five years, and trustee of the Norwich Savings Society, the largest institution for savings in the State, and until increasing years rendered the work too onerous his services were of great value to the institution, his long experience as a manufacturer and his through knowledge of machinery making him an expert in the valuation of real estate and other manufacturing properties proposed as securities for loans. He was president for many years of the Norwich Water-Power Company, and at the time of his death was president of the Occum Water-Power Company, director in the Norwich Bleaching and Calendering Company, and in the Norwich City Gas Company.
Mr. BALLOU was a resident of Killingly for twenty years, and n the autumn of 1845 removed to Norwich, where he passed the remainder of his life. He was married in 1822 to Ann Eliza AMSBURY, of Cumberland, R. I., who died in Norwich in May, 1852. In 1854 he was again married to Mrs. KINGLSEY, of Norwich, who died in 1862.
He had been for many years a prominent and active member of the Congregational Church in North Killingly, and on his removal to Norwich joined the Second Congregational Church there, and afterwards became identified with the Park Congregational Church. He was an active promoter of the enterprise for erecting the church edifice for that religious society in 1873, and was one of the largest contributors for that object.
In politics he was a Whig of the old school, and a decided Republican. He was a man of strong convictions and uncompromising for the right, yet was willing to concede the rights of opinion to those who differed from him. To a fine, manly physique he added superior intellectual qualities, a well-balanced mind and sound judgment, with great kindness of heart and a calm and even temperament. Always a consistent Christian, he was a peacemaker in all difficulties, and was often looked to by friends to arrange mutual misunderstandings.
He died at his home on Washington Street, Aug. 5, 1880, in the eighty-seventh year of his age, having retained all his faculties to a remarkable degree until within a few months of his death. Two daughters survive him, one of whom married John B. YOUNG, of the firm of Tiffany & Young, now Tiffany & Co., New York; the other is the wife of Mr. A. H. ALMY, of Norwich; and one grandson, Leonard Ballou ALMY, now a practicing physician in Norwich.
[Transcriber's Note: There is a picture of Mr. BALLOU in the book.]
Edward Boylston HUNTINGTON, son of Deacon Jabez HUNTINGTON and Mary LANMAN, daughter of Peter LANMAN, Esq., was born in Norwich, Conn., June 18, 1806. His boyhood was passed in his native city, where he remained until twenty-one years of age, when he went to New York and engaged in business. He continued in business in New York City until 1850, when he changed his residence to Boston and became associated in business with the old and highly-respected firm of Naylor & Co., with whom he remained until 1871, when, in consequence of failing health, he retired from active business life and removed to his native city.
Mr. HUNTINGTON was prominently identified with religious matters, and all measures tending to advance the moral and religious welfare of the community wherein he resided found in him an earnest advocate. He was for twenty years a member and officer of the Eliot Congregational Church, in Roxbury, near Boston, which was under the pastoral care of Rev. A. C. THOMPSON, D.D. He was a large contributor to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, which society he regarded with the deepest interest and affection. His views were broad, and his sympathies extended to all needing his help.
Edward B. HUNTINGTON was a consistent Christian, a courteous and polished gentleman, thoughtful of others in the highest degree, with a kind word and sweet smile for all. He was the grandson of Gen. Jedediah HUNTINGTON, of New London, and great-grandson of Jonathan TRUMBULL, the first Governor of Connecticut.
Mr. HUNTINGTON married early in life his cousin, daughter of the Rev. Joshua HUNTINGTON, pastor of the old South church in Boston. Mr. HUNTINGTON died June 18, 1875, and was buried, at his request, at Forest Hills, the lovely cemetery near Roxbury. His wife, three children, and four grandchildren survive him.
[Transcriber's Note: There is a picture of Mr. HUNTINGTON in the book.]
Alba F. SMITH was born in Lebanon, Conn., June 28, 1817. When a boy his father moved to New London, and after a brief residence there returned to Windham, where his youth was spent. He received a common-school education, and as a lad exhibited strong tastes and natural genius for mechanical arts. He worked early in life at the machinist's bench, where he constantly exhibited marks of genius. He married and came to Norwich in 1840, at the age of twenty-three, and established himself in business with one Chester HATCH, for the manufacture and sale of lead pipe. He subsequently formed a partnership on Ferry Street, under the title of SMITH& CONGDON, plumbers.
Mr. SMITH's ingenuity soon after took practical shape, and he began improvements in the locomotive engine, which resulted in the invention of many of the most important improvements in locomotive construction, truck bearings, etc., of the age, now in daily use all over the country.
He remained in business here ten years, during which time he was a member of the fire department, and in 1846 was elected chief engineer of the department.
Gen. Dan TYLER took a deep interest in young SMITH, and recognizing his superior qualities for railroading, urged him to relinquish his business here in 1849 to go to Pennsylvania, where, by his influence, he obtained for him the superintendency of the Cumberland Valley Railroad. In this position he continued to develop unequaled sagacity and skill in management, and after seven years' service he was tendered the superintendency of the Hudson River Railroad, in 1856, which he accepted. He busied himself in putting its machinery in first-class condition, and had the supervision of the first bridge built across the Hudson at Albany. After a service of twelve years in this capacity he resigned, notwithstanding the earnest solicitation of Commodore VANDERBILT for his continuance and the offer of an increased salary, determined to return to this place, build for himself and family a residence at Norwich Town, and retire from active business life.
The distinction that he had earned abroad both as inventor and manager had preceded him, and he was not permitted to carry out the plan he had laid for quiet and sequestered conclusion to a busy life. In January, 1868, he was elected president of the Norwich and Worcester Railroad Company, succeeding Augustus BREWSTER, and in December of the same year succeeded the late David SMITH as president of the Norwich and New York Transportation Company. He was also elected "managing agent" of the Norwich and Worcester road under the least to the Boston, Hartford and Erie road, in March, 1869. He resigned the presidency of the Norwich and New York Transportation Company in December, 1874, retaining the presidency of the Norwich and Worcester Railroad Company and the office of "managing agent" until his death, and exhibited rare judgment in all practical matters connected with railroad management.
On his return to the home of his adoption the people began to press him into public service, having honored him, previous to his leaving in 1849, with a seat in the Legislature, and in 1846 as first alderman under the mayoralty of William A. BUCKINGHAM, and knowing well his faithfulness to his constituents, and ability and willingness to serve them.
His perfect success in civil engineering, which had made him prominent among the eminent engineers of the country and brought his judgment as an expert into demand to solve all the difficult problems of railroad construction, made him pre-eminently in demand at home when, in 1866, it was thought that the health of the people required that a reservoir should be built, and the old wells abandoned that were liable to contaminate with city sewage and produce and epidemic among the people, and he was on the first committee appointed to consider the matter of locating and constructing the city water-works. He was one of a committee of three to draw the plans and make the specifications. He superintended the vast project and watched it to its completion; he was the first water commissioner elected, and for twelve years he was chairman of the board and the moving spirit and director of all that appertained to the enterprise, defending it from aspersion as a father would a child, clearly and indisputably setting forth the benefits.
In 1870 his residence was completed at Norwich Town, and he went there to reside, contemplating resigning the presidency of the Board of Water Commissioners in this city; but he was pressed to continue in office, and a special act was passed in the Legislature making his service legal. In 1872 he represented the town in the Legislature for the second time with marked ability. Besides these public honors, he was elected a director of the Second National Bank in 1868. In 1869 he succeeded the Hon. William A. BUCKINGHAM as president of the Norwich Lock Company, from which he resigned after a brief term of service. In 1872 he succeeded the late Augustus BREWSTER as president of the Norwich Water-Power Company, and also David SMITH as president of the Second National Bank, both of which positions he continued to hold until his decease. He was also president of the Locomotive Engine Safety Truck Company at the time of his death.
With the presidency of five corporations on his hands, besides the supervision of the building of the Laurel Hill tunnel and the improvements there, and the building of the viaduct at Worcester, his health began to fail, and after a brief illness he died, July 21, 1879.
[Transcriber's Note: There is a picture of Mr. SMITH in the book.]
James Monroe HUNTINGTON, the subject of this memoir, dates his ancestry in this country to Simon HUNTINGTON, an English gentleman, whose family arrived in Boston, Mass., in 1633, he having died on board the vessel a short time before its arrival in port. The grandfather of James M. was Judge Andrew HUNTINGTON, of whom the late Mrs. SIGOURNEY once said "was a man of plain manners and incorruptible integrity. His few words were always those of good sense and truth, and the weight of his influence was given to the best interests of society." He rendered invaluable services to the Revolutionary cause, and was one of Governor TRUMBULL's most trusted counselors. His brothers, Gen. Jedediah, Gen. Ebenezer, and Capt. Joshua, all sons of the old heroic patriot, Gen. Jabez HUNTINGTON, rendered distinguished services during the Revolutionary struggle.
James M. HUNTINGTON was born in Norwich, Aug. 8, 1817, and in a large degree inherited the virtues and ennobling characteristics of his illustrious ancestors, whose names have every been synonymous with integrity, uprightness, and a devotion to the best interests of society. He was educated in his native town, and commenced his business career as a clerk for the late A. F. GILMAN, who conducted a drug business in the building now occupied by the firm of Lee & Osgood.
In 1837, when but twenty years of age, he was admitted as a partner, and when Mr. GILMAN retired, in 1840, he formed a new partnership with the late Jedediah LEAVENS. In 1844 the firm removed to the wharf, in the building now occupied by Charles OSGOOD & Co. In 1846, Mr. LEAVENS retired from the firm, and a new partnership was formed, consisting of J. M. HUNTINGTON, Theodore RAYMOND, and James M. MEECH, which continued until 1850, when Mr. MEECH retired. The firm then removed to Commerce Street, where they engaged in extensive business enterprises, and became widely known throughout this section of the country.
In 1856 the firm purchased the Cold Spring Iron-Works, which were subsequently sold to the Mitchell Bros. Ship-building was next commenced, at what is now Thamesville, where this enterprising firm built eleven vessels, nine of which were steamers, constructing not only the hulls but the entire machinery. Three of these steamers, the "Uncas," the "Norwich," and the "Whirlwind," were in the service of the government during the late Rebellion. They were also largely interested in the West India trade, owning a wharf and bonded warehouse in New London. One of their steamers, the "Whirlwind," was the first American merchant steamer that entered the port of Porto Rico. In 1852 the firm held a contract for transacting all the coal business over the Norwich and Worcester Railroad, with an extensive coal-yard and business in the city of Worcester.
Mr. HUNTINGTON was largely interested in the cotton and woolen manufacturing business from its infancy in Eastern Connecticut to the breaking out of the late war. He was also, during the Rebellion, largely interested in manufacturing in Worcester, and furnished the machinery for all or nearly all the arsenals in the country.
In 1866 this firm established a line of passenger and freight steamers from Providence to Philadelphia, and in fact there is not a port for Newfoundland to Mexico of any importance that their vessels have not visited.
Public-spirited and generous, Mr. HUNTINGTON was ever found an earnest advocate of all measures, which, in his superior judgment, tended to advance the material, educational, and religious of his native city.
He was in all respects an ideal merchant, combing boldness of conception with unusual care and clearheadedness in planning and uncommon skill in the mastery and management of details. Upright and honorable in all his dealings with his fellow-men, it was often, and of truth, said of him that his word was as good as his bond. Stern integrity was born in him, a legacy of his Puritan ancestry, and what he exacted from those who had business relations with him he was equally scrupulous to accord to others. United with his indomitable energy was an inflexible will and unflinching courage that no obstacle could turn aside and no disaster could daunt.
Oct. 11, 1841, Mr. HUNTINGTON united in marriage with Emily Brewster MEECH, who died Dec. 11, 1843, leaving one child. Nov. 24, 1846, he married Sarah G. BURGESS, of Plainfield. She died Nov. 14, 1864. He was again married, Dec. 14, 1865, to Elizabeth R. BARSTOW, of this city, who survives him. In religious matters Mr. HUNTINGTON was a Congregationalist, and politically a Republican. He died Nov. 17, 1874, aged fifty-seven years.
[Transcriber's Note: There is a picture of Mr. HUNTINGTON in the book.]