The History of the Old Town of Derby, Connecticut, 1642 -- 188O.
Published: Press of Springfield Printing Company, Springfield, Mass., 1880.
Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15 Part 16 Part 17
[transcriber note: image of Joseph Arnold moved to pg 523]
Was born at Hadham, Middlesex county, Conn., September 16, 1811. He descended from Joseph Arnold and Daniel Brainard, two of the original twenty-eight who settled the town of Haddam.
Joseph, the subject of this sketch, was son of Jared and Susan (Brainard) Arnold; received his education at the common and high schools of his native town; made a sea voyage with his father when only fourteen years of age; was placed as clerk in a country store when fifteen, and at nineteen opened a dry goods store in Middletown in company with the old firm of Pease and Hayden. The next year he bought out the other partners; took another partner, and added the clothing business under the name of Arnold and Buckingham. Their business was highly prosperous until 1838, when the partnership was dissolved, Mr. Arnold remaining at the old store and Mr. Buckingham going to Portland, Me.
Finding himself threatened with serious pulmonary difificulty, in 1844 Mr. Arnold sold his business at Middletown and spent the next four winters in the West Indies, the Southern states and New York city.
His health being restored he accepted a position in the American Exchange Bank, New York city, but a few months after, being elected cashier of the Meriden Bank at Meriden, Conn., he removed to that place in 1849. In 1853 he was elected cashier of the Manufacturers' Bank of Birmingham, which was reorganized in 1865 as the Birmingham National Bank. This office he accepted, and from that day to this has retained it with great credit to himself and satisfaction to the company and community.
In 1841 he married an estimable lady, Mary L., daughter of the Hon. Noah A. Phelps. She died in 1851.
Mr. Arnold may be classed among the self-made men. Be-
ing little aided by his primary education, but possessing an active, vigorous mind, which he has well stored with useful knowledge by reading, he has, by his own exertions, worked out thus far his successful career in life. In addition to his present responsible position in the bank he has occupied others, such as treasurer of school district, borough and town, and for a long time has been president of the Derby Savings Bank, the people having never found in him confidence misplaced. In his habits he is a model for imitation. Strictly temperate in all things, although physically infirm, he has been his own physician, discarding generally all drug medication. For twenty-six'years he has scarcely been absent a day from his post of duty in the bank. Independent in his principles, circumspect in his daily walk, liberal without ostentation, faithful to his word in financial dealings with all persons, he has won for himself a most enviable reputation.
Was born in New Haven in 1819. He received more than an ordinary education, and in 1846 came to Birmingham and bought one-third of the interest of Abraham and William Hawkins in the spring and axle business. In the following year a joint stock company was formed, called the Birmingham Iron and Steel Works, and the present extensive buildings were in part then erected. Mr. Atwater continued an active and energetic member of the company until the day of his death, January 22, 1862, at the age of forty-three years. For sixteen years Mr. Atwater was among the most enterprising manufacturers, and had the merit of being very public spirited. He never did things by halves.
He was warden of the borough two years; was postmaster under President Pierce, Senator of the state in 1850, besides filling other offices. Social and of gentlemanly address, having considerable public influence, Mr. Atwater was a popular citizen, and his death was deeply lamented.
Was born in Derby, October 2, 1834, and obtained his early education at the public school; later he studied medicine with
Doct. Ambrose Beardsley of Birmingham, and, entering the medical department at Yale in 1876, he received his degree January, 1879, and located at "Ansonia where he promises to secure a good practice.
Was born in Southington, Conn., June 26, 1826. He prepared for college at home and was graduated at Yale in 1847; and afterwards taught school at Bristol, Conn., and Brooklyn, N. Y. He took a course of lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York, and received his degree from the Buffalo University in 1863. He came to Oxford in 1856, and has been in active practice in his profession since that time; has held the office of town treasurer two years, and since 1868 has been town clerk and registrar; has been school visitor since 1857, and Judge of Probate since 1872. He married Caroling Saltonstall of Meriden, Conn., in 1853.
Was born in Farmington, Conn., April 18, 1814. The life of his father, Jonathan Bartholomew, sometimes called "Uncle Jonathan," may be summed up in one line from Gray's Elegy, "The short and simple annals of the poor." The subject of this sketch had only a limited district school education, and at the early age of fifteen he was employed by Isaac Dobson to assist in making the double reflecting tin baker, then in great demand, little thinking that this was laying the foundation for his subsequent successful life. The baker soon-' went out of use, but Mr. Bartholomew had obtained a pretty good practical knowledge of the tinner's trade, but being out of business he engaged one year as clerk in a store in Plainville. In 1834 he married Polly H. Root, the eldest of thirteen children For a short time he was employed in various kinds of work until he engaged in the making of sheet-iron cow-bells at five cents an hour; the days having fifteen or sixteen hours in those times, so that, Old Time coming in to help out the matter, his receipts were seventy-five and eighty cents a day. Such was the beginning not only of one but of many men in Connecticut who are now transacting business on the basis of millions a year.
Mr. Bartholomew next engaged in making brass kettles for Mr. Israel Coe of Wolcottville, Conn., and by his steady business habits, after four years' employment, was made superintendent of all the various manufacturing" interests of the Coe Company, the most important of which was the making of brass kettles by what was called the "battery process." When this business began to be profitable a new method of making these kettles was introduced into the country and the business was engaged in by different companies. At this time Anson G. Phelps, then a large stock-owner in the Wolcottville Company, was induced to start the business on a larger scale, and decided on Ansonia as the place of location, and he secured Mr. Bartholomew as the general agent of his company. Several manufacturing establishments were built in Ansonia under his supervision, viz., the "Battery and Rolling Mills," and the large "Brass and Copper Mills." Besides these, from time to time, numerous other branches were added, all of which proved successful except the "Battery Kettle" business, which was supplanted by the new process.
These various branches of industry which have added so much to the wealth of Ansonia, as well as to the stockholders, are largely under obligation to the efforts of Mr. Bartholomew; and, an idea of the estimate placed upon his services may be gained from the fact that a large yearly salary was paid him for more than a quarter of a century.
In 1869 Phelps, Dodge and Company merged all their extensive manufacturing interests in Ansonia with their real estate into one company under the name and firm of the "Ansonia Brass and Copper Company and the Ansonia Land and Water Power." At the first meeting of the joint companies Mr. Bartholomew was chosen a director and made general superintendent, which office he held up to 1876, when he resigned in consequence of ill health. His advent into Derby, in 1848, found Ansonia almost a barren, sandy plain, with only two factories and a very few dwelling houses. Among the first enterprises started was a good common school, in which he took an active part and was instrumental in doing away with the old rate bill system and establishing the method of support by taxing property only, which incensed the mind of Anson G. Phelps, this
being the first school in the town to adopt the method, but the excitement soon subsided.
He took a lively interest in the formation of the Congregational Society of Ansonia, and in building both its churches, the first having been accidentally burned. He led the church choir over twenty years, and was chairman of the society's committee about the same length of time. He was a stockholder, director and president of no less than six important moneyed institutions of the town, and served, so far as can be learned, to the acceptance of the parties interested.
Mr. Bartholomew was the first to propose the extension of the New Haven and Derby railroad, from its junction with the Naugatuck road, to Birmingham and Ansonia, and secured its completion. by most persistent efforts; the result being a great reduction of freights and public convenience.
He is a man of positive character, and being a republican in politics was elected to represent the town in the Legislature of 1869, receiving votes from both parties. He was a vigorous supporter of the war for the Union, contributing liberally of his means.
Thus the poor boy of Farmington became an active, useful pioneer in a variety of successful enterprises in the town, and his name will long be held in grateful remembrance, especially by the people of Ansonia. His example is worthy of imitation.
Was born in Derby, March 21, 1772; graduated at Yale College in 1796; ordained pastor of the Congregational Church at Winchester, Conn., May 20, 1801, and dismissed August, 1806. He was pastor at Wilton, Delaware county, N. Y., from 1807 to 1810, and resided in that place, preaching in that region and helping his brethren in revivals as opportunity afforded, until his death, April 29, 1859, aged eighty-seven years. He was the son of Benjamin Bassett.
He married Eliza, daughter of Dea. Job and Eunice (Cowles) Curtiss of Torringford, in the town of Torrington, Conn. She died January 19, 1868.
Was born in Derby November 22, 1828. His education was obtained in the district school, except one year in the academic school of Stiles and French in New Haven and two years at Haddam Academy. His father was one of the leading men of Derby and a pioneer in the business enterprises of Birmingham; first a merchant and then a manufacturer. He held many official positions with honor, but after the purchase of the Colburns Iron Foundry in 1850, he devoted all his energies to his business until the day of his decease, which occurred June 26, 1864, in his sixtieth year. On the decease of his father, Royal M., with his brother Theodore, managed the Iron Foundry with much success, giving steady employment to about 125 operatives for sixteen years, making it a valuable establishment to Birmingham.
Royal M. Bassett has been engaged in various manufacturing enterprises, railroads, and real estate operations, during a quarter of a century, and is a director in three railroad companies at the present time and president of the Utah Northern railroad. He has been warden of the borough two years, and an active and efficient committee-man of the Birmingham school district for eleven years, besides filling several other local positions, which places him among the public spirited men of the village and town. In all which he has proved himself a thorough business and upright man. Social, affable and liberal, and willing to forward any needed work for the public good, he stands among the popular and influential citizens of the town. He represented the fifth senatorial district in the Legislature, in 1876.
[This sketch was written by him whose initials are at the end of it.]
Doct. Ambrose Beardsley, whose portrait is the first in this book, was born in Monroe, Conn., October 23, 1811. It is often said "the child is father to the man," the which if true, the young Ambrose must have been one of those kind of boys who according to the Sunday-school books ought to have "died early," but fortunately for mankind did not. His first appearance in public was in the role of a district school teacher, beginning at the
age of sixteen years; continuing four years in his own and adjoining towns, during which time he pursued assiduously his own studies under the instruction of Doct. Stephen Middlebrook of Monroe, and later under Doct. Charles Gorham of Redding, and finally graduating with honor at Pittsfield, Mdss., Medical College in 1834. After a residence of a year and a half at Newtown, Conn., Doct. Beardsley came to Birmingham, then in its early infancy, where for forty-four years -- nearly half a century -- he has led an honorable, upright, and eminently useful Christian life; often officiating at St James's Episcopal Church -- of which parish he has been a life-long member -- in the occasional absence of a pastor, as "lay reader." If Ben Adhem's name led all the rest, according to Leigh Hunt, because "he loved his fellow men," then surely must the name of this kind, self-sacrificing physician be found very near the head of the column of Derby's adopted sons. In hundreds of families in this and adjoining towns, the name of Ambrose Beardsley is cherished almost as a household god; where his genial face and pleasant story, has often done the work of exorcising the demon of disease -- real or imaginary -- for which the harmless pill gets all the credit.
Possessed of a clear ringing voice, great fluency of speech and a happy gift of oratory, upon all public occasions Doct. Beardsley has been "the speaker of the day" and conspicuously the figurehead and leader in all enterprises which had for an object the welfare of nation or of individuals. Before the writer is now lying an ancient looking document which bears the following statement: "The foregoing oration was delivered by A. Beardsley, to the citizens of Derby on occasion of commemorating the anniversary of our American Independence, July 4, 1839." As a sample of the principles then held by the orator a quotation is important: "Sacred to the heart of every true American should be the day we have here assembled to commemorate. We have met to join in congratulations over an event so abundantly propitious to this country, and so marked in its influence upon the world that as patriots and loyal citizens we could not have met on this occasion with other feelings than those of gratitude, and an ardent love and desire to preserve in remembrance the birthday of our National Independence; coupled
with a determination to throw off for a moment our more common attachments; to mingle our hearts more completely in the ardor of freedom; to manifest our zeal for the preservation of our dear bought liberties; and to join in the celebration of the day in a way calculated not only to awaken in our minds anticipations of the noblest destiny, but to call up those master spirits of the past who offered their all upon the alfar of Liberty." Farther along we read as follows: "The founders of this republic have not set in motion a machine which will continue to run uniform without the constant care and vigilance of posterity. . . . . The history of the past speaks to us in tones of thunder the fact that one of the strongest and most sacred of the obligations imposed upon us by our fathers is the maintenance and perpetuity of the bond of the Union. I repeat it with emphasis, Union between the states. The Moslem Turk sleeps soundly in his chains not even seeming to dream of their weight. The slave surrenders himself tamely to his master, but the hatred of party dissensions and political animosities should never lead to a calculation on the value of the Union. 'One Europe' says an eloquent patriot 'is enough for the whole world,' and if Americans would not hear the shrieks of Liberty, if they would not see this fair Republic 'rent with civil feuds and drenched in fraternal blood,' let them be forever deterred from indulging even a passing thought upon the dangerous doctrine of disunion." This be it remembered was the utterance of our "Fourth of July orator" forty-one years ago. In the light of the terrible events of a quarter of a century later, it is seen that had the mouth of a prophet of the Lord even been commissioned to speak an inspired warning it could have hardly been more pertinent and forcible.
The oration, which is full of the various topics uppermost in those comparatively early days of the Republic, closes with the following peroration: "Let us, fellow citizens, at all times and in all places prove ourselves the undeviating friends of our country, by sustaining its wise government, promoting sound doctrine, advancing wholesome morality and pure religion." But scarcely a quarter of a century had passed when we find this watchman on our national walls sending his own first born to the field in defense of these very liberties imperiled by intes-
tine feuds, and himself laboring day and night in furnishing comforts and necessities for the sick and the wounded soldiers in the field. In June, 1864, by all odds the largest and most successful fair ever held in the town was held on Birmingham green under an immense tent, and which resulted in raising over $4,000 in aid of the Sanitary Commission, which enterprise was largely indebted for its success to the unflagging efforts of Doct. Beardsley and the several members of his family who took part in the enterprise. This much is simple justice to say, although a large number of other noble workers took part in the labors of the occasion.
In political life the Doctor was well fitted to do noble work. Although never a member of the noble army of Connecticut legislators yet many a time the honor was within his easy reach had he chosen to avail himself of his opportunity. His always extensive professional practice forbade his acceptance of the position. In the town, however, he has been a public official in some important capacity nearly all the time of his residence here. For twenty-five years continuously he was town treasurer; eight years he has been warden of Birmingham, and registrar of vital statistics the same length of time, besides many other minor offices much of the time. The Doctor, though now verging well towards three score and ten, is vigorous and full of energy; ever ready at all times to respond to the calls of the sick, whether with prospect of remuneration or not, it seems to make little difference with him. Little indeed has he gathered of the gold that perisheth, but of the wealth that cometh from the living of an earnest, friendly, humane life, he is the richest man in all the town. It is here clearly put on record that these words will be abundantly verified when his record shall be closed.
He married Mary, only daughter of Samuel Bassett, Esq., of Humphreysville, April 30, 1837. J. W. S.
Was born in Milford, Conn., May 12, 1848, where he attended the High School some time. He prepared for college at the Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, entered Yale in 1866, and was graduated in 1870. He was graduated at the Bellevue
Hospital Medical College, New York, in 1873, and received his degree of M. D. He came to Birmingham in 1874; has been a member of the Board of Education, and is at present assistant surgeon of the 2nd regiment Connecticut National Guards. He married, M. Louise, daughter of Amos H. Ailing, Esq., December 24, 1874.
Son of Benjamin Beach sen. of North Haven, was born April 15, 1737, and resided at North Haven some years in a house his father built in the year Benjamin jun. was born; his two brothers residing one on each side of him, and in the three families were at one time seventeen sons. His brother, Elias Beach, was a farmer and a licensed preacher, but not ordained.
Benjamin Beach preached in what is now Seymour, Prospect and Milton. Tradition in the family says, he having agreed to settle in Seymour waited all winter for snow on which to remove his family, but the snow failed to come that winter and he removed in March, 1789, without snow. In November of this same year Isaac Johnson deeded to Mr. Beach "one acre of land lying a little east of the meeting-house," which was a present to Mr. Beach in consideration of his "settling in the gospel ministry in the Congregational or Independent church" in the place. On this land Mr. Beach built a house in which he resided, and which is still standing. In 1791 he bought of Isaac Johnson one acre and a half adjoining, and "lying east and south of the first." In 1799 he purchased of Amos Hine seventeen acres for $333 at a place called Success Hill, and on February 26, 1810, being then of Cornwall, he sold to John Swift eighteen acres of land at Success Hill for $686.06.
The meeting-house was built for his use and was standing when he received the first deed. He preached in Prospect several years, closing his labors there in 1797, and probably served the two churches at the same time. He is said to have removed to Cornwall about 1805, which gives him eighteen years of ministerial labor in Seymour.
He married Mercy Blatchley, who died in 1812 on her seventy-fifth birthday, and he died in Cornwall July 12, 1816, aged seventy-nine years.
Two sermons of Mr. Beach are preserved, and are in the style of the age in which he labored, and compare favorably with hundreds of others by different ministers of that day. One of these sermons illustrates the old method of giving instruction from a text, in a very clear manner. Many have laughed at the great number of divisions the older preachers mentioned in their sermons, but those divisions frequently marked not a division of the subject treated, but simply the thought illustrative of the topic spoken of; as in this sermon there are only three heads, or general propositions, and the advice given; but during the discussion of the topics there are in all eighty items numbered with figures. Hence there is secured in such a production a great amount of concise and definite statement, and when the sermon was delivered, all knew precisely what the minister believed, which is not always the case at the present time. The old people who delighted in such preaching are frequently supposed to have been dull scholars and poor thinkers, but it is quite certain they did know what they believed, and why they believed it.
Son of Giles and Mary (Dayton) Beach, was born May 21, 1809, in that part of North Haven, Conn., now called Montowese, near Pine River Bridge. Giles Beach was the second son of the Rev. Benjamin Beach, the first pastor of Chusetown.
Mary Dayton, the wife of Giles Beach, was the daughter of Jonathan Dayton and Mary Yale of North Haven. Jonathan Dayton had several children, one of whom married Joel Thorp, who removed with his family from North Haven by means of an ox team to New Connecticut (Ohio) and was one of the pioneers in that section of the country; his nearest neighbor being twelve miles distant This Jonathan Dayton was a captain in the Revolution and had four of his sons under him in the army, which gave to his command the name of the Dayton company. He was also a justice of the peace and a prominent man in his community.
Sharon Y. Beach had only the advantages of a common school education, although one of his teachers, Benjamin Eastman, grandson of Dr. Benjamin Trumbull, himself a liberally edu-
cated man, thinking young Beach ought to have better opportunites, offered to furnish them at a higher school;. but the spirit of independence declined the friendly offer while the kindness of the teacher was always gratefully remembered.
His early life was one of temperance, industry and frugality; laboring on a farm until he was seventeen years of age, wdien he passed through a long siege of illness from which he recovered very slowly. After this, he at first engaged as a peddler, carrying his small stock of goods in a basket and hand trunk, and then accepted a place as a clerk in a dry-goods and grocery store where he continued until his employer sold his interests to another firm. After a few months he was employed by John H. De Forest in the cotto;i factory, then in operation at Humphreysville, for the small sum of $16 per month for the first year, and $18 per month for the second, with the promise of an increase of wages or a more advantageous position at the expiration of that time. From this amount of wages he paid his board, clothed himself and saved a small sum for capital on a future day.
At the expiration of his engagement the business of the factory was so depressed as not to warrant his continuance therein, and Mr. De Forest gave him a letter of commendation in which he said: "I recommend him to any one in want of his services as one competent and faithful, and whose character is entirely above reproach." The terms of this confidence exceeded the expectations of Mr. Beach, but they gave him an inward courage which has never been effaced from his mind; which fact illustrates that a little expression of confidence is often of more value than money. After six months' employment elsewhere he was again employed by Mr. De Forest in the cotton factory, at advanced wages, where he continued nine or ten years.
In the year 1843, he in company with George L. Hodge and Samuel Roselle engaged in the manufacture of printing and colored paper, in which relation he continued two years, when a new company was formed, consisting of Ezekiel Gilbert, Samuel Roselle and himself, for the term of five years. This company purchased the old mill standing on what was still known at that day as Rimmon Falls, and continued the paper
making business. At the expiration of that term Mr. Beach bought the interests of the other partners and removed the paper mill to its present location, about three-quarters of a mile east of Seymour on Bladen's brook, where he has continued to the present time with a good degree of success.
Mr. Beach has occupied several positions of trust and honor in the town, and manifested considerable public spirit in the more substantial enterprises and progressive improvements of the community and town. He was elected to the office of justice of the peace while Seymour belonged to Derby, and after its separate organization he was the justice before whom most of the cases were tried for several years. Upon the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion he was the first to offer a bounty to those who would enlist in the army for the defense of the Union, and paid to those who enlisted in the twentieth regiment, ten dollars each, to the amount of $270, and continued in an active part in sustaining the town in all its efforts through that struggle. He has been selectman, a member of the board of relief, a member and chairman of the board of education a number of years.
He has been a member of a Baptist church about fifty years; has had charge of the Congregational Sunday-school in Seymour at several different terms, and when the Baptist Bible school was started at Ansonia he was elected its superintendent, which position he held about six years. He was one of the building committee of the Ansonia Baptist church; was elected its first deacon, and has been a prominent member and an active supporter of that church since its organization, there being no Baptist church in Seymour.
In business and principles of morality, he has made life a success, and has no reason to reflect severely upon it as it recedes into the forgetfulness of the past.
Mr. Beach married first Adaline, daughter of Asa and Eunice (Johnson) Sperry, of Orange, Conn., and they had eight children, five of whom are still living. The eldest, George W. Beach, is the superintendent of the Naugatuck railroad. (Which see.) Andrew Y. Beach is agent at Springfield (Mass.) of the N. Y., N. H. & H. railroad. Sharon D. Beach has charge of his father's paper mill. Theodore B. Beach is the agent of
the Naugatuck railroad at Seymour. Emeline E. Beach, the only daughter, resides with her father.
Was born in Newtown, Conn., December 28, 1807. His father, the late Samuel C. Blackman, was a graduate of Yale College, class 1793, and was judge of probate for the district of Newtown from its organization until disqualified by the state constitution, which was about fifteen years, and died at the advanced age of ninety-one.
Alfred studied the classics and was fitted for college by his father, and graduated at Yale in 1828. He read law in his father's office, reciting regularly for two vears to the late Gov. Henry Button, and was admitted to the bar of Fairfield county in 1831. The writer of this remembers well listening in that same year, with great pleasure, to an eloquent oration delivered by him at Monroe, on the occasion of the celebration of the Fourth of July.
In the spring of 1832 he removed to Humphreysville, then a flourishing part of Derby, and commenced the practice of his profession. At this time Horace M. Shepard, also from Newtown, was practicing law in that village, where he had been settled two or three years, but removed in a few weeks, and soon after died.
Mr. Blackman married on the 3d of June, 1832, Abby Beers, of his native town, and had two sons born at Humphreysville, both of whom graduated at Yale, the eldest, Samuel C, in the class of 1854, and Charles S., in the class of 1857. Three generations of this family were present as graduates at a meeting of the alumni of this college at one of its commencements.
Mr. Blackman remained at Humphreysville ten years, encouraged by an increased and flattering practice, until he was elected to the state Senate from the fifth district. At the end of the session of the Legislature he removed to Waterbury to take charge of the probate office of that district, and in consequence of the sickness and lamented death of Judge Robinson S. Merriman he was called to take charge of the probate court of New Haven, thus dividing his time between the two districts. This led him to remove his law office to New Haven,
where he has since resided. In 1855 he was elected as one of the representatives from New Haven, his colleague being ex-Gov. James E. English. While a member of the Legislature he was elected mayor of New Haven and served in that office one year, declining a re-nomination, and refusing ever since to be a candidate for election to any political office. He was elected for one year by the Legislature judge of the county court, and on hearing of his appointment immediately sent his written declination of the same to the Hon. Origin S. Seymour, speaker of the House, who assumed the responsibility of not presenting it to that body, and he was persuaded to fill the office one year, although he preferred the office of an advocate to any position or other employment. But he did consent, under the appointment of the late Andrew T. Judson, judge of the United States district court, to accept the office of clerk of that court and of the circuit court of the United States, which appointment was continued by the late Judge Charles A. IngersoU and William D. Shipman, and he held these offices from 1852 to 1867, when Judge Loren P. Waldo was appointed his successor, and the office and records were then removed to Hartford.
Since his retirement from the active practice of his profession in 1872, in consequence of impaired health, he has been occupied most of the time in his private library, in miscellaneous reading, and receiving the social calls of his friends and taking a daily drive in seasonable weather. His brethren of the New Haven county bar have caused his portrait to be painted, of life size in oil, and suspended in the superior court room, attached to which, in a frame, is a copy of the correspondence which explains itself. As it is of appropriate character it is given a place in these pages, and is as follows:
"New Haven, November 9, 1878.
Hon. Alfred Blackman:
Dear Sir -- Desiring to express in some suitable manner our personal regard for you, and in recognition of the distinguished position you have held at the bar of this state, and also your services in securing the erection of our new court house, we have placed your portrait in the superior court room. We trust our election in this respect will be agreeable to you and gratifying to your numerous friends.
Very sincerely your friends and brethren at the bar,
New Haven, January, 1879.
To Messrs. John S. Beach, Charles R. Ingersoll. Arthur D. Osborne, and others, members of the New Haven county bar:
Gentlemen -- Your esteemed favor informing me of your action in procuring my portrait to be painted and placed in the superior court room was recently received, and impressed my heart with warm and abiding gratitude. You may be assured that such an unmerited act of kindness is agreeable to me and commands my cordial approbation.
To be associated with the portraits of the learned and acute Baldwin, the eloquent and amiable Ingersoll, and the noble hearted and generous Foster, in the arena of their forensic exploits, and in the building which you are so kind as to say I contributed some service in securing its erection, is gratifying to my ardent professional ambition. We belong my friends, to a somewhat belligerent profession; and if, after nearly a half century of intimate association and conflict with my brethren, I have so far succeeded as to be entitled to this ante mortem token of your esteem and the generous words you so kindly express, you will believe me when I say that I am now and ever shall be, with sincere gratitude,
Your affectionate friend and brother,
Fixed in his principles, Judge Blackman seldom entered the arena of politics, oftener rejecting than accepting the tender of political honors, choosing rather to confine himself to the duties of his profession. Affable and gentlemanly in his manners, blessed with a classical education, shrewd and clear-sighted in his capacities, a ready and pleasing speaker, he has won for himself a reputation that enrolls his name among the first members of the New Haven bar. -- Since writing the above Mr. Blackman has died, having passed away April 28, 1880.
Was born at Broad Brook, Conn., January 6, 1847. His early school days were passed at the public schools, and Ellington Academy from which he graduated, and entering Yale Medical College in 1868, was graduated at that institution in 1871, receiving the degree M. D. He has practiced his profession in Ansonia since 1871, with the exception of three years. Although a young man, Dr. Blodgett has gained a large and remunerative practice, of which many an older physician might well feel proud. The only public office held during his residence in Ansonia is that of registrar of vital statistics which position he held two years.
Was a native of England, the son of George Bowers who was in Scituate, Mass., in 1637, in Plymouth in 1639, removed to Cambridge where his wife was buried March 25, 1644. John was graduated at Harvard College in 1649 [American Quarterly Register viii. 335.], and was a school-master in Plymouth, perhaps (says Savage) the earliest in the business. He came to New Haven in the spring of 1653 to teach, which he did some years. We hear of him next in Guilford, where in 1660, he purchased an estate and supplied the pulpit for three or four years until Mr. Joseph Elliot was settled in 1664.
On the removal of Abraham Pierson with other planters from Branford in 1667, Mr. Pierson engaged Mr. Bowers to supply his place until the end of the year. After this as Rev. T. P. Gillett of Branford informs, "Mr. Bowers received an invitation to settle with the people although no church was organized. He remained until February, 1672, and then gave the town liberty to provide a minister for themselves, which they accepted." In November, 1673, he was preaching regularly in Derby and the people made provision to build him a house, in which he afterwards resided. In the spring of 1671, Derby granted him twelve acres of land and he had probably preached here some at that time, and was here during most of the year 1673. For his salary during 1674 he agreed to take what the
people were willing to give, and after that for some years he received fifty pounds a year.
In 1684 he was very sick and made a will which was recorded by the town clerk. He probably died on the 14th of June, 1687, and yet it is unaccountable how it should occur that the town clerk should have recorded the death of a minister without writing Mr. to his name as in this case. I do not remember to have seen a minister's name written before the Revolution without the "Mr." attached.
He married at New Haven, Bridget daughter of Anthony [See chapter 11 of this history, and the family genealogy.] Thompson of New Haven, who survived him until May 19, 1720.
Was born in Hartford, Conn., June 4, 1830, was fitted for college at the Hartford Grammar school and Cheshire Academy; was graduated at Trinity College in 1851, pursued his theological course at the Berkley Divinity school, and was ordained deacon by Bishop Brownell December 18, 1853.
He was assistant minister at Grace Church at Baltimore for two years and ordained priest by Bishop Whittingham May 28, 1856. He was called to the rectorship of St James's Church of Birmingham in 1856, where he remained until November, 1863, when he resigned to accept the rectorship of St. Peter's Church at Auburn, N. Y.
Mr. Brainard was a very acceptable, exemplary and efificient pastor and his resignation was much regretted by the parish. In 1870 he received the degree of S. T. D., from Trinity College, Hartford, and is at present rector of St Peter's Church, Auburn.
Was born in New York, October 1, 1804; was educated in Connecticut, and for two years was a close student in Yale College. After his marriage to Caroline, the acomplished daughter of Clarke Elliott, he was largely and successfully engaged some years in New York city as a grain distiller and sugar refiner. Retiring from this business he removed to Huntington in 1840. Having no profession, and being of an active and sanguine temperament, he took a lively interest in the political issues of
that day, and revolutionized the politics of Huntington and was elected in 1847 as a whig- representative from that old democratic town. On his removal to Derby he became variously interested in manufacturing pursuits, but this did not lessen his devotion to whig principles, and he represented Derby with great credit in the Legislature in 1848-9.
Mr. Burlock was a man of talent, and of gentlemanly manners, and was one of the finest and most elegant off-hand speakers of the town. He died, much lamented, very suddenly of heart disease, October 3, 1865.
A soldier of the Revolution, was born April 6, 1753, and enlisted in the company of Capt. Nathan Pierson as piper, May 7, 1777, and marched to New Haven the same day, where he remained with the forces for the protection of the city and harbor during the term of his service. His residence was in Chusetown where he had a shop and manufactured brass and pewter buttons, buckles, sleighbells, metal, and tags. He employed an English engineer to cut the dies used in making the figures on the buttons, for military and other purposes. He afterwards purchased of Bradford Steele the house east of the Episcopal Church and built a shop near it. He died December 6, 1812, aged fifty-nine years. [History of Sevmour.]
Was graduated at Castleton, Vermont, Medical College; Located in Humphreysville in 1829, and remained until 1833. He is still practicing in Clinton, Conn.
Was born in New York in 1823, removed to Stratford, Conn., in 1833, and to Birmingham in 1842, and was employed by E. N. Shelton as book-keeper about five years. He then entered the general mercantile business with his brother-in-law, John W. Osborn, and they continued in Birmingham until .1858, when they commenced the manufacture of hoop-skirts, and in 1859 removed their manufactory to Ansonia, where they have found success in their enterprises. Mr. Cheeseman's father,
George Weeks Cheeseman, died when this son was only six years old, but a noble-hearted and Christian mother molded the mind and habits of her son, who has been an honor to her good name.
Mr. Cheeseman is a representative man and highly influential in the social and business circles in which he moves. His circumspect daily work, being identified with many benevolent and Christian efforts, has commanded the respect and confidence of the community.
He married Sarah Durand of Derby, a most estimable woman, whose life has always abounded in Christian works.
A good representative of the Coe family, was born in Bethany, and for many years was a successful manufacturer and dealer in leather at Beacon Falls. In his later years he made Birmingham his residence, and was esteemed among the useful and most exemplary citizens. He was a consistent Methodist, walking after the example of his first ancestor and namesake in Derby; one of his peculiar traits being to watch and care for, in a quiet way, the poor of the community. He died greatly respected, December 15, 1876, aged sixty-one years.
Was born in Derby, December 9, 1788, and obtained his early education mostly in the shoe-shop at the old Coe place on Sentinel Hill. While at work on the bench he always kept his book before him, making daily progress in a single study at a time. After learning his trade he commenced school-teaching, which occupation he followed some years with much satisfaction in the public school and academy at Up Town, and afterwards was engaged with Josiah Holbrook in the agricultural college on the Holbrook place. Yale College conferred on him the degree of A. B. About 1828 he entered the ministry in the Congregational church, when forty years of age, and in 1832 settled in Kirkland, Ohio, and was a logical and entertaining preacher. In classical learning he is said to have been ahead of his time, and exerted a strong moral, religious and educational infiuence in Derby, where he was much respected and is still pleasantly remembered.
Sylvester and Sullivan M. Colburn, twin brothers, were born in Stafford, Conn., December 7, 1806. and were sons of Daniel Colburn who was the father of thirteen children, all being now deceased except the eldest, Dr. J. M. Colburn. These twin sons had no education save a few months in the district school. When they came to New Haven, they were employed as errand boys by different stores, by which they picked up a few pennies "to help themselves along."
They started, in Westville, the business of casting, on a small scale, and from that place removed to Birmingham in the infancy of the village. After a time they disposed of their interests in the iron foundry at Birmingham and removed to Ansonia, and became much interested in the growth and success of the place.
In their habits and methods of doing business, they were peculiar. Having married sisters, and both having large families, all bills were paid from the common stock of one pocketbook, and no account kept. Horace Greeley like, they often carried their valuable notes in the crown of their hats, dealing loosely with their customers, and yet they made money. The people said, "these Colburns are lucky." If flood or fire threatened their property, they generally "whistled," seemingly unconcerned, and everything came oat right for them. Twice within six weeks was Sullivan, while at work on a water-wheel in Ansonia, thrown into a race and carried under-ground a distance of 150 feet without injury.
These brothers proved themselves valuable acquisitions to the town, and we take pleasure in recording them among the enterprising men of Birmingham and Ansonia.
Was born at Stafford, December 20, 1799, and obtained his early education in the district school. He received his degree of M. D., August 22, 1822, at the Yale Medical College, and, soon after located in Orange. Conn., where he married Miss Clarke and conducted an extensive practice until he came to Derbv in 1839. Here he practiced successfully for some years.
when his health becoming infirm by a dangerous illness he abandoned it and became a partner with his twin brothers in the Birmingham Iron Foundry. On their removal to Ansonia the Doctor followed, and was at one time president of the Ansonia Bank. He was assessor of the town, selectman, long a justice of the peace, and has always been a firm supporter of the Congregational church.
Son of John Hancock, and Dotha (Woodward) De Forest, was born March 31, 1826, at Humphreysville, Conn.
In 1846-7 he traveled eighteen months in the Levant; visiting Greece, Constantinople, the Holy Land and Northern Syria. Returning home he collected the materials for the "History of the Indians of Connecticut," and finished that work during his twenty-third year.
He then went to Europe and remained four years; visiting England, France, Germany and Italy, acquiring during the time the French, Italian and Spanish languages. Having found rest once more in his native America he devoted himself to literature in connection with magazines and the publishing of books; his earliest volumes being two books of travels, "Oriental Acquaintance" and "European Acquaintance," and soon after followed two novels, "Witching Times" and "Seacliff."
The civil war breaking out he raised a company and entered the service as captain of company I, 12th regiment Connecticut volunteers, in which he saw over three years of field duty, including several battles in Louisiana and Virginia, and the siege of Port Hudson, in all forty-six days under fire, receiving one wound. Brevetted major and transferred to the invalid corps, he served over three years longer, acting as adjutant-general of the invalid corps, and subsequently as chief of a district under the Freedmen's Bureau.
Returning to civil life he re-commenced writing, and produced successively the novels, "Miss Ravenel," "Overland," "Kate Beaumont," "The Wetherel Affair," "Honest John Vane," "Playing the Mischief," "Justine Vane," and "Alice the Missionary;" several of them being published as serials in
the leading magazines. Besides these he has written some fifty short stories, a number of articles and reviews, and many fugitive poems.
Mr. De Forest is residing in New Haven and pursuing his literary tastes.
Was born in Huntington, Conn., in 1817, and came to Birmingham in 1838 and entered into mercantile business, but afterward engaged in the hardware business in the store now occupied by F. Hallock and Company. Still later he became interested in the manufacture of hoop skirts, and up to January, 1880, was business manager of the house of Downes and Bassett, corset manufacturers.
Mr. Downes has held many ofifices of trust, among them, judge of probate, town clerk and assessor, besides being administrator on many estates. He is held in high esteem by the citizens of Derby, and in business relations has established a reputation for honesty and fidelity which few public men attain.
Was born in Milford, August 22, 1824. After leaving the common school he prepared for college under the instruction of Rev. Asa M. Train, entered Yale in 1841, and was graduated with honor in 1845. He read law with the Hon. Alfred Blackman one year; was in the law-school one year, was admitted to the bar in the autumn of 1848, and in December of the same year came to Derby, opened an ofifice and commenced the practice of his profession in which he continued about fifteen years, securing a growing business and a fine reputation as a lawyer at the New Haven county bar. On June 24, 1851, he was married by the Rev. Mr. Guion of the Episcopal church to Miss Jane Maria, the only daughter of the late Dr. John I. Howe. Doct. Howe, resigning the general management of the Howe Manufacturing Company in 1863, urged his son-in-law to relinquish his profession and take his place in the company. Mr. Downes hesitated, as his taste and legal habits had wedded him to his profession, but he finally yielded, assumed the position, and since the death of Doct.
Howe in September, 1876, has been principally engaged with his father-in-law's estate and manufacturing interests. He has generally neglected political preferment, but consented to represent the town in the Legislature in 1855, and for years has been a valuable member of the Board of Education in the town. He has been a continuous director in the Ousatonic Water Company, and was very efficient in carrying forward the magnificent project of building the Ousatonic dam.
A ripe scholar, progressive in literary attainments, kind, considerate and liberal to the poor, without ostentation; identified with various enterprises as a capitalist, Mr. Downes occupies a commanding and influential position in the community.
Was born in Derby, the son of Samuel Durand, a plain farmer who could give to his son only the benefits of a common school education. His entrance into public life was first as a clerk and afterwards a merchant in New Haven. Thence he went to New York city and entered business as a dry goods merchant, but subsequently turned his attention to manufacturing, and was active in forming the Osborn and Cheeseman Company of Ansonia.
Mr. Durand possesses considerable talent, is of pleasing address, a fine off-hand speaker, and in several whig and republican presidential campaigns has taken the platform and rendered good service to his political principles. He was twice elected from Derby as representative to the Legislature, and in 1877 was elected Speaker of the House, which position he discharged with fidelity and credit to his party.
Was born in Southington, Conn., and settled in Derby (now Oxford) about one hundred years ago. He was self-educated, made good progress in Latin, Greek and Hebrew without a tutor, and was an expert in mathematics. With these advantages he seems to have had full command of the place, holding nearly all the offices; and was bitterly opposed to the settlement of a rival physician, especially when Doct. Noah Stone encroached upon his territory. He was rather changeable in
his religious proclivities, being first a Presbyterian, then a Methodist, afterwards a Baptist, and finally an Episcopalian. On the purchase of a bell for the Congregational church, he gave one month's earnings from his profession, which amounted to $26. He was a strong whig in the Revolution and was roughly opposed by the tories. He died at Oxford in his ninety-second year.
His son, Thomas A. Button, succeeded him, and had an extensive practice for several years, when he removed to Newtown, Conn., in 1845, thence to Birmingham and afterwards to Milford, and finally to West Haven, where he now resides in feeble health at an advanced age. In all these places Doct. Button secured the confidence of the people as a physician.
Was a native of Waterbury, where he learned of his father the trade of a millwright, and for many years was the leading millwright, machinist, builder and contractor in his line, in the Naugatuck valley. There has been probably no other man in the state who superintended the construction of so many first mills and manufacturing establishments. He was noted for the strength and durability of his work. Specimens of his skill abound in Waterbury, Seymour, Berby, Thomaston, Wolcottville, Bristol, Westville, Pequonnock, Newtown, and many other places. [Bronson's History of Waterbury, 389.]
Mr. Farrell was largely identified with the early history of Birmingham and Ansonia, being adviser to and in the employ of Anson G. Phelps and others. Through his instrumentality the Seymour dam, built by Raymond French, was purchased, it being necessary to the growth of Ansonia.
He was self taught, and his success in life was owing much to his native genius and perseverance. He died in the prime of life and in the midst of his usefulness. May 31, 1857.
Son of Almon Farrell, was born in Waterbury, Feb. 17, 1828. He had only a common school education, and, like many boys who have made their marks in the world, he "roughed it" in
early life. At fourteen he commenced to learn the trade of a millwright under the practical teaching of his father. In December, 1844, he came to Derby and assisted his father in engineering for the water works and other projects within the limits of Ansonia. The place was then a sandy region, and, many times when Anson G. Phelps was watching the progress of the surveying, Franklin built fires under the trees or in some corner to secure warmth for the party in the winter months.
In 1849 he went into the foundry and machine business in the firm of Farrell and Johnson. Almon Farrell, his father, put into the firm $8,000, and S. and S. M. Colburn with Dr. Josiah M. Colburn put in $7,000. With this small capital as a starting point the concern (afterwards reorganized under the name of the Farrell Foundry and Machine Company) has increased to a capital of $500,000. This speaks for the capabilities of Mr. Farrell who is its manager.
He has devoted himself with great assiduity to his business, which has been varied and extensive, and his labors have been crowned with success. He is liberal, especially to his church, and is a prominent citizen of the community.
Near by the old road that winds its way through the woods above Derby Neck, there stands a rude domicile, built nearly one hundred years ago. So secluded is the spot that its dwellers from within could never see the rising nor setting sun, though surrounded with romantic, beautiful and poetic scenery. Here was born, reared and educated the last sable governor of Connecticut, Roswell Freeman, who died October 6, 1877, aged seventy-four years.
His father was a slave to Agur Tomlinson, though he "bossed" his master, and when young was only known by the name of Quash. His mother, whose name was Rose, was a slave to the Rev. Mr. Yale, a minister of the Presbyterian church. When the state of Connecticut threw off the yoke of human bondage Quash took the name of Quash Freeman, which he always retained. Tomlinson gave him the above hut, a cow, and the use of some thirty acres of land, at his freedom.
According to the custom of the colored freemen of that time, Quash was elected governor of the state. He held the office for many years. He was a man of herculean strength, a giant six-footer, and it is said of him that he could take a bull by the horns and the nose and at once prostrate him to the ground. No one ever dared to molest or tried to make him afraid, and when he was approaching from a distance he awakened the sense of a coming thunder cloud.
Tradition has it that one dark night he was out with his son Roswell, on the Ousatonic, fishing, and a party from the other side came in collision with his skiff and were much damaged. They sang out: "There is a lot of niggers over this side, and if you don't keep your net out of our way we will come over and flax you out." Quash curtly replied, "Nigger this side, too." Enough was said; they knew his voice and dared not trouble him. Physically speaking. Quash was probably the strongest and largest man that ever shared the gubernatorial honors of this commonwealth.
Roswell, his son, was the father of thirteen children, by Nancy, who survives him. One of these children, a female, developed the muscle of her grandfather, Quash, having repeatedly, it is said, lifted a barrel of cider into a cart or on a wagon.
Roswell, by profession, it might be said, was a fox hunter, and the board whereon he stretched his fox skins from time to time showed that during his life he had shot and captured three hundred and thirty-one foxes. He was three times elected governor of the state, and there was fun and frolic in those days over the election of a colored governor. The writer of this well recollects a notice some fifty years ago, published in the papers, which read as follows:
There will be a general election of the colored gentlemen of Connecticut. October first, twelve o'clock, noon. The day will be celebrated in the evening by a dance at Warner's tavern, where it will be shown that there is some power left in muscle, cat-gut and rosin.
By order of the Governor,
Roswell was less popular as governor than some of his predecessors, for he was opposed to "treating" on election day. These elections were held at Oxford and Humphreysville, but more generally at Hawkins Point in Derby.
The method of choosing or electing the governor was changed from time to time, to meet the wishes of different candidates. They had no ballot stuffing, returning boards, or corrupt and civilized practice of buying votes. On one occasion at Hawkins Point the election was decided on muscle, which might contrast oddly with the Olympic games of the ancient Greeks. There were four or five candidates. It will be recollected that the Old Point House well, which lives among the legends of Derby, and about which strange stories are still told, stood near the edge of the steep and long sand-bank which reached down to the Ousatonic turnpike. Up this bank it was almost impossible for mortal man to ascend, and many who attempted would fall and roll to the bottom before reaching the top. The candidates were to start with their heels drawn on aline from the turnpike, equidistant from each other, and the one who ascended the sand-bank, which stood at an angle of forty-five degrees, reaching the top and planting his dexter upon the curb of that famous old well, was to be the victorious governor. The spectacle was amusing, exciting the risibilities of the most pious and long-faced man in town. Tobias, the elder, the bigger, alias Black Eben, the father of E. D. Bassett, our Haytian minister, was the successful competitor. Tobias came off with flying colors, for he was caparisoned with gay feathers, flowers and ribbons of red, white and blue, which gave a most laughable and imposing character to the whole ceremony. Many amusing reminiscences in connection with these general elections might be narrated.
Roswell Freeman was a Samson among the foxes of New Haven county. Many a sly Reynard, who had made his inroads upon various barn-yards, was brought to bay by his hounds and fatal shots, and for this he was called the "farmer's benefactor." Roswell, it is said, was never in a quarrel with his neighbors or anybody else. Living quietly, soberly and peacefully, he enjoyed this world's goods in his own way, with little or none of the anxieties and perplexities incident to the life of
the wisest of statesmen or the most fortunate of millionaires. The pen of eulogy might find much to record in favor of his life and character, springing as they did from humble birth.
His sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool, sequestered vale of life
He kept the noiseless tenor of his way."
The eldest son of Israel French, was a patriot of the Revolution, going to Boston after the battle of Bunker Hill to assist in resisting the encroachments of despotism. He was trial justice of the north part of the town of Woodbridge many years, having more cases than any other justice of his time. He represented the town of Woodbridge in the General Assembly twenty successive years. He built his first log-house in Nyumphs on land he afterwards gave to his son Luther. He was for many years a deacon of the First Congregational church of Bethany, under the Rev. Stephen Hawley. but in later life became a Methodist, although never of the enthusiastic kind. In his political life he was much accustomed to public speaking, having a strong voice and expressing his opinions with much frankness, energy and confidence, by which he commanded much respect and infliuence. He died August 4, 1821, aged eighty years. [Historv of Sevmour.]
Was born in East Hampton, Long Island, N. Y., in 1841, and died at Birmingham, Conn., March 29, 1880. He was graduated at Princeton college, N. J., in 1864, devoted himself to the study of law and was admitted to the bar in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., in 1866. He came to Derby in 1867, and a year later began his official connection with the town affairs, serving as town clerk from 1868 to 1874, and acting also as judge of probate from 1871 to 1873. He was a member of the Board of Education of the town for three terms, being a member at the time of his death. He was a member of the republican town committee for several years, and represented the town in the Legislature from 1878 to 1880, serving two years on the most
important of the joint standing committees, the judiciary, and acting as clerk of the committee in 1879. The last year, in addition to his duties on that committee he was chairman of the committee on engrossed bills. He was one of the most indefatigable workers among the members, and was one of the leaders of the republican side of the House.
Mr. Gardner was at one time Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias of this state, and at the time of his death was a supreme representative. He belonged to the endowment rank and his family will receive $3,000.
In his character he was exemplary; for in all that constitutes nobility of manhood, true dignity of character, honesty and integrity of purpose, gentleness of manner, and a firm and conscientious reliance upon the fundamental principles of Christianity as his guide in life, he was the peer of any man in the community. All these traits were beautifully and consistently rounded out in his daily walk and conversation, and it was these that made him conspicuous in society, and won for him the kindly regard and warm esteem of everybody. In whatever relation he occupied, whether as town clerk, probate judge, or the framer of the laws of the commonwealth, he was the same earnest, patient, careful and conscientious worker; and in many instances his sound judgment and keen perception have been advantageously employed in the interests of the state. Outside of his own community he won for himself a notable distinction by the devotion which he gave to public interests, and it was in the midst of this devotion that he was stricken down. He carried into his profession the same characteristics that marked his other relations in life, and by such an honorable course has won for himself and his profession lasting honor and respect.
Although radical in his notions of men and things, yet upon most great questions that have agitated the public mind, subsequent events have proved that he was radically right. He was one of the earliest abolitionists, and when the news came of the hanging of John Brown his was the hand that scandalized a large portion of the community by tolling the church bell,
commemorative of the event. He has been a life-long advocate of temperance, and during the early days of the Maine law prosecutions he was very active, perhaps vindictive, in seeing the law maintained, and this rendered him obnoxious to certain individuals, and secured him many enemies. Twice was his tannery destroyed by fire, as was at the time believed, by those who imagined they suffered from the course he pursued. Whatever his mistakes, in his old age he was a friend to the slave and to those who indulged in the cup, when it cost money and secured scorn to hold the principles which he did.
Was one of three brothers, Truman, Lucius and Ezekiel; the last figuring in the history of ancient Derby as a merchant in what was then Humphreysville. Truman learned the house builder's trade of Agur Curtis at Huntington Landing, and came to Derby when twenty-one years of age, where he married Anna, daughter of Capt. Eneas Smith. He built the edifice known as the First Congregational church in Derby, and many dwellings, employing many men and apprentices. He built at Derby Landing Bristol's Wharf, and also the first liouse in Birmingham. He also established the first lumber-yard in the town, which business he continued until a short time before his death. His business partners were, Andrew Johnson, Chester Curtiss, Capt. Lyman Osborn and L. H. Russell, the last residing in Stratford. He was in the war of 1812, under Col. Robert Gates. He was one of the pioneers in the temperance cause, was eminently a religious man, served as one of the selectmen of the town several years, and died in 1857, at the age of fifty-eight years.
Was born in Bedford, N. Y., August 31, 1817; was educated at Trinity College, Harford, graduating in the year 1840. Advanced to the ministry, he first acted as a missionary in the Episcopal church at different places. On the resignation of Rev. Wm. B. Ashby he was called to the rectorship of St. James's parish, Derby, and for four and a half years was a most faithful, beloved and acceptable minister of God.
Dr. Guion was called from Birmingham to the rectorship of St. John's Church, Brooklyn, N. Y., where in 1862, "he ceased from his labors." He was truly a good man, "full of faith and the Holy Ghost."
Was born on Long Island in 1792, and died in Derby, January 11, 1870. He came to Derby about 1816 and engaged in ship building, first at Sugar street and afterwards at Derby Narrows, where he built many vessels in company with his brother, Israel Hallock.
Few men, if any, ever lived in the town more universally respected than Zephaniah Hallock. In early life he became
a zealous member of the Congregational church, and his daily life and devotion to moral and religious principles, with his manifested desire to do good, inspired full public confidence in his Christian profession. He was seldom absent from the stated services of the sanctuary, and, being of a cheerful mind, he was delighted in the society and prosperity of others of whatever denomination. It is refreshing to think of an aged soldier of the cross whose every day walk has been a steady and shining light in the "straight and narrow path."
Was born at Derby, June 26, 1842; graduated at Bellevue Medical College, New York, in 1869, and entered upon the duties of his profession in New York city. He was also located at Stratford, Conn., for three years, and latterly has made his residence at Derby where he is at present in active practice.
Was born in Derby November 16, 1810, and resided here until 1828 when he removed to Bridgeport to learn the trade of a blacksmith. He afterward returned to Birmingham and in 1837, in connection with his two brothers, David and William, commenced the manufacture of carriage and wagon axles. The business was continued for a time when David withdrew and the two remaining continued the enterprise until 1846, during which time the manufacture of carriage springs was added to the business. About this time Henry Atwater of New York purchased a one-third interest in the firm, and in 1847 the company built and organized the well known and extensive "Iron and Steel Works."
In 1849 Abram became associated with his brother William and other gentlemen in the formation of a new company for the manufacture of carriage and wagon axles under the name of the Hawkins Manufacturing Company, which was successfully conducted until 1865 under the management of William Hawkins, when the business was closed and the capital returned to the stockholders with a liberal amount of surplus that had accumulated.
Abram continued his interest in the Iron and Steel Works
until 1857 when he withdrew and went to New York, where he enofaged in the manufacture and sale of iron and iron wire.
As one of the pioneers of Birmingham Mr. Hawkins was enterprising and public spirited, and his departure from the town has always been regretted. He was twice warden of the borough, besides filling many other important positions.
Was born in Derby, July 6, 1816, and like his brother Abram had but little advantages of education. He learned his trade as machinist in 1834, and was associated with his brother for many years in Birmingham, and since dissolving partnership has conducted the manufacture of skates, wrenches and other hardware implements.
He is now associated in a new company, formed April 1, 1880, for the manufacture of bits and augers in connection with his other business.
He has been warden of the borough, and has held office in the town.
This Hawkins family springs from good stock, having descended from one of the original settlers of the town.
Was born in Milford, Conn., September 13, 1793, and came to Derby when quite a youth, making his residence in the family of Col. David Johnson, one of Derby's old residents. After a few years he married Anna, daughter of Capt. Jared Bartholomew of Derby. He was a prominent citizen of the town until his death, July 26, 1868. In the war of 1812 he was very enthusiastic and enlisted in a Derby company and went to New London under Capt. Gates, but the British having evacuated that place he returned home with his company. For many years he was in full charge of Leman Stone's business, that of seed raising, and sharing his confidence until Mr. Stone's decease, when he assumed the business himself and conducted it successfully many years, until his health failed. He was a very active member of society; was some time president of the Derby Temperance organization, and being faithful in many
good deeds he gained for himself the credit of a useful and exemplary citizen.
[See Barnard's Journal of Education.]
Was the son of Col. Daniel Holbrook of Derby, where he was born in 1788. Colonel Holbrook was an energetic, prosperous farmer, andaman of wealth and extensive influence. His house was that now a little south-east of the Swift farm. His son received the ordinary common school education of the day, fitted for' college under Rev. Amasa Porter of Derby, entered Yale College in 1806, and was graduated in 1810. Five years afterward he married a daughter of Rev. Zephaniah Swift of Derby. She died in 1819, leaving two sons, Alfred and Dwight. On the death of his father and mother about that time, the care of the farm devolved upon him, and it was during the period occupied in this vocation that the ideas which were the central ones of his subsequent labors first occurred to his mind.
Acting on these views he opened, about that time, on his own farm, in connection with Rev. Truman Coe, then a teacher, one of the first schools in America which sought to teach a popularized form of natural science, and to combine manual labor with education. Boys in this school were allowed to pay a portion of their expenses by laboring on the farm. The institution was not permanent, but the experiment satisfied Mr. Holbrook of the practicability of the principle. We quote from a letter of Mr. Coe to a son of Mr. Holbrook, the following statements respecting this school:
"He had long cherished the idea of endeavoring to found an institution in which the course of instruction should be plain and practical; an agricultural school where the science of chemistry, and mechanics, and land surveying should be thoroughly drilled into the mind of the pupils by practice. With these views the Agricultural Seminary was commenced in Derby in 1824, and continued to the fall of 1825, under the direction of your father and myself, and, as far as I know, was the first educational movement of the kind in all that region. But the institution, being unendowed and on a private footing, labored under many embarrassments, especially in never having land enough to accomplish the ends of its founders. We did what we could to train the students in the analysis of soils, in the application of the mechanical
powers to all farming operations, and took out our young men often into the field and country for practical surveying, geological excursions, road-making, and ihe labors of the farm, but, not being able at that time to place the school on an eligible foundation, it was abandoned."
While at work on his farm, Mr. Holbrook's zeal in the pursuit of knowledge led him, with the design of increasing his acquaintance with chemistry, mineralogy and geology, to attend the lectures of Professor Silliraan of New Haven; riding over and back from Derby for that purpose, notwithstanding distance and an inclement season.
The precise train of thought and of circumstances which led Mr. Holbrook to transfer his efforts from the farm and school at Derby to the wider field of popular scientific lecturing, there is no data for tracing. The American Journal of Education, then conducted by Mr. William Russell, contains in its tenth number, October, 1826, a paper by Mr. Piolbrook, setting forth his views on the subject of "Associations of Adults for the Purpose of Mutual Education," which gives some insight to his plans and propositions for the general public good; and this was the earliest printed exposition of his principles, or propositions for general improvement of the people.
In this paper to the Journal Mr. Holbrook gave nineteen rules for the organization and conducting of lyceums for general education and improvement. Every great enterprise requires a forerunner, or one to lay out the work, tell how to do it, and put the implements into the hands of the workmen, which, when done, it becomes easy to follow in the perfecting of the work.
Mr. Holbrook having defined his plan, went soon after to Millbury, Mass., where he delivered a course of lectures, and at the close persuaded thirty or forty persons to organize themselves into a society for mutual improvement, which at his request was called Millbury Lyceum, a branch of the American Lyceum. This society was the first permanent one established in the country. From this time forward Mr. Holbrook devoted all his efibrts for a long series of years to the organization of a system of institutions to bear the collective name of the American Lyceum.
During the years immediately following 1826, Mr. Holbrook made Boston his centre of operations, where he coinmenced,
about 1829, the manufacture of philosophical apparatus for common schools, in which enterprise he was much aided by Timothy Claxton. [Life of Timothy Claxton.] By the desire of Mr. Holbrook a convention was held in Boston, May 15, 1830. which resulted in the organization of the American Institute of Instruction, and a recommendation of Teachers' Institutes; and numerous meetings of this kind were held during the following year. In 1830, also, Mr. Holbrook commenced the publication of a series entitled Scientific Tracts, with the view of diftusing useful knowledge. After two years he surrendered the Tracts to Dr. J. V. C. Smith, and devoted himself to the Lyceums ancFto the interests of a weekly paper, The Family Lyceum.
About the year 1834 Mr. Holbrook left Boston and for a few years occupied himself chiefly to establish the Lyceum system in Pennsylvania, in which effort he was quite successful. While in this field of labor he conceived the plan of a Universal Lyceum, to introduce national Lyceums. A list of officers was made, with Lord Brougham as president, and was published with a brief outline of the aims of the institution, in a pamphlet, the "First Quarterly Report." His labors in Pennsylvania were greatly advantageous to common schools.
His next effort was to establish Lyceum villages, the first of which he commenced in 1837 at Berea, Ohio, but which was a financial failure.
His next engagement was in New York city in 1842, as central agent of his plan of School Exchanges which was a part of his original scheme of Lyceums, which seems to have been the collection of specimens of natural science, and general association of the societies. While in New York, his friend, Mr. Seton, then agent of public schools, drew up, with his assistance, a scheme for applying his favorite principle of education to that city. [Fourteenth Report of Trustees of Public Schools, New York.] This included particularly the teaching of drawing.
In the spring of 1849 Mr Holbrook went to Washington, D. C, to ascertain what aid could be secured from the government in behalf of his plans, and such was his encouragement in this respect that that city remained the centre of his operations until his death.
In May, 1854, he made a journey to Lynchburg, Va., on business connected with his enterprise; and having walked out alone one morning, was evidently collecting minerals, as he had been busily engaged in doing for some weeks, from the face of a precipitous cliff overhanging a deep creek, and losing his footing, fell into the water, and was drowned. His body was found a day or two after, on the 24th of May, 1854, floating in the water, was interred in the burying-ground of one of the churches at Lynchburg, and his funeral was attended by a large number of persons, who had become interested in his enthusiastic devotion to science and education.
The American Institute of Instruction at its annual session at Providence, R. I., in August following, passed resolutions of very high commendation upon the life and work of Mr. Holbrook.
Is the principal of the National Normal School at Lebanon, Ohio. He was born in Derby, Conn., February 17, 1816, and was the son of Josiah Holbrook.
At the age of fourteen he went to Boston and was employed for a year and a half in his father's manufactory of school apparatus. His health failing, he returned to his native village where he remained until seventeen years of age when he entered upon his first experience in teaching, in Monroe, Conn. One year later he went to New York city and engaged for some eighteen months in the manufacture of surveyors' instruments. Being compelled to relinquish this business on account of failing health, he repaired to Kirtland, Ohio, with the intention of employing himself in land surveying, from the carrying out of which plan, however, he was prevented by physical disability. He nevertheless accompanied his uncle, David Holbrook, to Boonville, Indiana, where he remained a year and a half, occasionally engaging in surveying. His health proving too feeble for this business he returned in 1840 to Ohio, on horseback, and began teaching at Berea with a school of three pupils under the auspices of John Baldwin. The school rapidly increased in numbers and Mr. Baldwin soon erected a commodious building for the accommodation of pupils. This was the foundation of Baldwin University. Here Prof. Holbrook remained nine years,
within which time the institution passed into the possession of the Methodist Episcopal church. Prof. Holbrook next took charge of an academy at Chardon, Ohio, for two years, and then in partnership with Dr. John Nichols engaged for a time in the Western Reserve Teachers' Seminary at Kirtland. He subsequently accepted a call to the superintendency of the public schools of Marlboro, Ohio where he remained three years, from which place he removed to Salem, Ohio. While here he received the appointment as principal of the South Western Normal School at Lebanon, Ohio, which position he has occupied nearly twenty years. His subsequent history is in connection with this school.
The professor is the author of two educational works which have had very wide circulation, namely: "Normal Methods" and "School Management." He has also more recently issued two text books on the English language which are perhaps the best treatises of the kind ever published, namely: "Training Lessons" and an "English Grammar." In an educational experience of nearly half a century, Prof. Holbrook has had under his direct instruction not less than thirty thousand persons, a number equaled by very few teachers in our country. It has been remarked by those best acquainted with his work, and who have seen its results far and wide over the nation, that no student has ever left any institution of which he has had the control, morally worse than when he or she entered it.
The Professor's ripe scholarship, large experience, superior judgment and Christian integrity eminently fit him for his position as a teacher of teachers, and his long and successful connection with the National Normal has placed him in the front rank of American educators. [Extract from the Historical Atlas of Warren county, Ohio.]
Prof. Holbrook's sons and daughters are all engaged with him in his normal school, with great efficiency and success. His son, R. Heber Holbrook, a few years since came east to obtain a little independent experience and took charge of the large public school at Vineland, N. J., where during two years he had very marked success. A few of the principles which he recommends to teachers are obtained by the slightest accident
of preservation, and commended to the consideration of all persons.
"I. Be pleasant. It is never necessary to frown or scold.
"2. Be lively. The true teacher will seldom seat himself before a class.
"3. Be original. Never depend upon your book If you can't conduct the recitations without a book, you have given too long a lesson.
"4. Be reasonable. Don't assign a lesson so long that you will yourself be hardly able to prepare it.
"5. Be prepared. Always make out in your own mind the work to be accomplished by the class at their next recitation.
"6. Be not too talkativ-e. Any fool can lecture and interest children with wonderful facts; but it requires a wise, patient, and hopeful person to draw those facts from the pupils.
"7. Be sympathetic Come down to the apprehension of your pupils. Remember what is curious and interesting to you is beyond their understanding. What are axioms to you are difficult propositions to them.
"8. Be patient. Let the smart ones take care of themselves. Give your energies, your ingenuity and your smiles to the stupid ones."
The sixth rule of this catalogue is partictilarly comniended to the consideration of all who engage in Stinday-school teaching at the present day.
Son of Josiah and Lucy (Swift) Holbrook, was born in Derby, Conn., in 1817, and accompanied his father to Boston, Mass., in 1829. In 1833 he went on a business tour to China. In 1839 he went to Berea, Ohio, to carry out his father's plans of an educational village which was then being established at that place. His next enterprise was the establishment of a manufactory for making school apparatus, which articles he sold mostly in the state of New York for the use of public schools; that state Legislature having passed an act to use the Library Fund for that purpose In 1850 he exhibited his inventions and productions in Toronto, Canada, in the House of Parliament, and they were granted entrance free of duty; the result being the sale of large quantities to the Educational Department of that Province.
The Legislature of Connecticut passed a special act in 1852,
to allow the use of twenty-five convicts for five years for the production of this apparatus for the use of the schools of the state, and in 1853 it was introduced into the schools of Ohio by the Superintendent of Education for that state.
In 1867 the Danish and Chinese Governments purchased through their ministers at Washington samples of the goods. For the last twenty years the apparatus has gone into every town in the country and Mr. Holbrook's name has become a household name, and these goods are still extensively manufactured by many firms; Mr. Dwight Holbrook's eldest son, C. W. Holbrook, has a factory for this purpose in Windsor Locks, Conn., and the firm of A. H. Andrews and Co., in Chicago, Ill, have an extensive manufactory, of which Mr. Dwight Holbrook is the superintendent at the present time. The goods are also manufactured in New York and Boston.
In a great lawsuit in Chicago between the successors to the Holbrook School Apparatus Company and A. H. Andrews and Company, Judge Wilson decided that the word "Holbrook" was public property as applied to school apparatus, since it had been used so many years by so many firms. Thus from so small a beginning has grown an immense business that has apparently filled the pockets of every one connected with it more than the inventor of it, and again the old rule is exemplified that one furnishes the ideas and others turn them into money.
Son of Dwight Holbrook, was born in Berea, Ohio, September 16, 1847, is a descendant of Rev. Zephaniah Swift of Derby, Conn., and the grandson of Josiah Holbrook the educator. At the age of sixteen he went to Chicago and engaged in business life, where, while thus pursuing his work at the age of nineteen, he united with the church, and two years after closed his business relations to study for the ministry, although he had risen to a partnership in one of the largest firms in Chicago. After spending two years at Beloit College he went to Yale, and studied in the college and seminary five years, when he accepted a call to the Oakland church in Chicago. After two years of successful work in this church he resigned his pastoral position, and soon after, while on a visit east, accepted a call to the
church at Methuen, Mass., where he was installed December 4, 1878.
Frederick Holbrook, second son of Dwight Holbrook, is a teacher in Wisconsin.
Was born in Derby in 1805, and worked at the same business as his brother Willis. In 1834 they came to Birmingham and engaged in church, factory and house building, and were the principal founders of the present Derby Building and Lumber Company. About the beginning of the Rebellion they exchanged their stock in the Lumber Company for 2,600 acres of timbered land in Rathburn, New York. Operating this successfully they bought 300,000 acres, nearly all pine timber, in Canada. On this tract Lewis, who was the principal manager, erected two large saw-mills, one to run by steam, the other by water power, and for six years he conducted a lumber trade with the States, very extensively and profitably.
Lewis Hotchkiss, apart from this Canada enterprise, built, and ran on his own responsibility, a steamboat on Lake Georgian Bay. In 1871 he sold this adventure to good advantage, and also sold the land to Anson G. Phelps and Dodge, and returned to Derby and has continued since in business under the name of W. and L. Hotchkiss. Lewis Hotchkiss is a practical, sound common-sense man, and with meagre opportunities in early life has worked his way under many disadvantages to an enviable position. Neither he nor his brother had, scarcely, the benefit of a common school education, yet they have succeeded well in the business relations of life.
Brother of Lewis, was born in New Haven, March 29, 1803, and came to Derby when three years of age, where he has since resided. His father was a carpenter and joiner, from whom he learned the same trade.
Was born in Derby April 25, 1788, a poor boy. He often said he "never went to school but one day in his life, and that was Saturday and the school didn't keep." He was a great stut-
terer, which was to him an embarrassment all his life. Very eccentric in his way and quick at repartee, a large amount of his sayings, made more laughable by his stammering, are treasured up among the people of the town. When quite a young man he tried his hand .at impromptu poetry. The subject of repairing or removing the meeting-house at Up Town was under discussion, and the building being an old, dilapidated structure, various opinions prevailed as to what should be done with it, while the pious Swift, then pastor, tried to calm the troubled waters as much as possible. At a meeting called for the purpose, after the subject of the meeting-house had been well discussed, Mr. Swift called on Mr. Hotchkiss for his opinion. After rising, it was minutes before he could speak a word, but finally said:
A good pastor and quarrelsome people."
"Them is my views," said he, and the poetic speech had a very good effect.
On a later occasion, when the same society had been troubled with frequent changes in the ministry, the good deacon, in meeting, moved that "we settle the Rev. Mr.---- as pastor over this church," which provoked some discussion, when Mr. Hotchkiss said he "would move an important amendment, that this -- this minister be set -- set -- settled on -- on -- on horse -- back."
Coming from New Haven one dark evening in a lumber wagon, he was stopped on the road by two highwaymen, one seizing his horse by the reins, the other accosted him: "Give us your money, or I'll knock h--l out of you in two minutes." He replied: "All the money I had with me I left at the tollgate, and if you think I have h--l in me you may knock it out." This cool reply, in stammering language, disarmed the ruffians, who let him go without further hindrance.
On a certain occasion there was to be a great agricultural dinner given at New Haven; Capt. Thomas Vose of Derby, being president of the society, invited several prominent men from his town, Mr. Hotchkiss being one of the number; but he excused himself by saying he could not talk. To which it was replied that he need not say anything, especially at the table, upon which he ventured to go. At the sumptuous dinner he
succeeded well until the waiter came round asking: "What will you have, pudding or pie?" To which he could not readily answer, as any word beginning with P was very difficult for him to speak, and by a significant wave of the hand he said to the waiter: "Go -- go -- go -- on." Soon the waiter repeated the interrogation, to which he received the same reply: "Go -- go -- go on." Captain Vose, John L. Tomlinson and others being at the head of the table, desirous that all should be well served, the waiter inquired of Captain Vose, "What shall I do for that man at the foot of the table, he acts crazy." "Oh! follow him up, you'll get something out of him." On the next round the waiter said with much emphasis: "Now sir, what will you have, pudding or pie?" In a loud voice he stammered out, "B-b-both." As he had attracted the attention of the guests this created the greatest laugh of the entertainment.
One day John L. Tomlinson, the lawyer, asked him for two dollars. "What for?" said Hotchkiss. "Why, for speaking advice to you about your division fence," was the reply. "Well, I'11 pay it, but don't you ever speak to me again."
When young Doct. B---- came to Birmingham, in 1836, Donald Judson introduced him to Mr. Hotchkiss, saying that Doct. B---- had come to Derby to doctor folks and get a living. The quick reply was, "It is high time, neighbor Judson, that we all pre-pre-prepare for death."
Mr. Hotchkiss was a cooper by trade, and conducted the business at one time quite extensively. He died November 24, 1872, at the advanced age of eighty-four years, and will long be remembered by the people of Derby.
Was born at Ridgefield, Conn., July 20, 1793. His early education was obtained at the village school, and being of very studious habits, he at the age of nineteen commenced the study of medicine and surgery with Doct. Nehemiah Penny, a distinguished physician of that town. He was graduated at the Medical University of New York; married Cornelia Ann, daughter of George Ireland of New York, and for many years was a successful and skillful physician in that city. A large portion of these years he was one of the resident physicians of
the New York almshouse. His constitution having been impaired by a severe illness of fever, he removed with his family in 1829, to North Salem, N. Y. Before abandoning his chosen profession he made a series of experiments on India rubber with a view to its use with other substances and for purposes to which it has since been so variously applied.
As early as 1828, he obtained a patent on rubber compounds, and for the manufacture of which while in North Salem he constructed machinery at considerable expense, but he was beaten in the race by Charles Goodyear. He next gave his attention to model making for pin machines. During some of his visits at the New York almshouse among the English inmates he was forcibly impressed with the manner of making pins by hand, and being of a mechanical and inquisitive turn of mind he was moved with the idea that this staple article could be manufactured by machinery. In the winter of 1830 and 31 he employed his time in constructing a pin machine; made a rude mold performing various movements and combinations essential to such a machine. In 1832 he was successful in making a machine which made pins though in an imperfect way. For this he was awarded by the American Institute a large silver medal for "inventing a machine that would make pins by one operation."
To aid in his finances about this time James Brush and Edward Cook (brothers-in-law, of New York) were associated with him by contract. In the spring of 1833 he completed a second machine and immediately sailed for Europe and secured patents in France, England, Scotland and Ireland; and spent about two years in London and Manchester experimenting and building machines according to his invention and finding a market for his patent.
In December, 1835, the Howe Manufacturing Company was organized in New York and Doct. Howe was appointed its general agent, in which position he had the sole management of its manufacturing department until 1863, a period of nearly thirty vears.
These machines made what was called the "spun head" pins, but afterwards they were changed so as to make the "solid header," and for this patent, in 1842, the American Institute
awarded him a gold medal for "the best solid headed pin made by machinery." The company removed their manufactory from New York in 1838 to Birmingham, since which time the business has been carried on most successfully. Doct. Howe with a persevering courage, contending against prejudice, inexperience and poverty, knew no defeat, and must be placed at the head, as the first practical and successful pin manufacturer by means of automatic machinery, however worthy may be his numerous predecessors and competitors, especially, Slocum, Fowler, Atwood and others. The "History of American Manufactures" by I. L. Bishop enrolls Doct. Howe among "the most useful inventors of the country."
While a resident of Birmingham Doct. Howe held many offices of trust, and having accumulated large means he was enabled to identify himself with many substantial enterprises of the town. During the war he was very patriotic and contributed liberally to the support of the Union cause. Among other contributions he paid the amount of $1,500, to a certain number of families, in monthly installments, while the heads of those families were absent as volunteers in the army. As an evidence of his devotion to his country, a short time before his death, he headed a subscription with $500, towards erecting a suitable monument to the memory of the soldiers of Derby who lost their lives in the war.
Doct. Howe was a self-made man; modest below his merit, and governed his life by precepts of the golden rule. Inflexible in his principles, most exemplary in his habits, faithful to his professions, strict in his integrity, wise in counsel, he won for himself the highest approbation and was universally esteemed by the community in which he resided. He died suddenly of aneurism September 10, 1876, in the eighty-fourth year of his age.
Was born in Derby, March 9, 1775, and was the son of Joseph, the eldest brother of Gen. William Hull. His father was a sea captain and Isaac early learned the arts of navigation. When a boy he was entertaining one day a party of ladies at Derby Narrows, with a sail on the river in one of his father's old whale boats, affording much frolic and amusement to the participants,
when a sudden squall (of wind, not the ladies) capsized the boat, and dumped the precious cargo all overboard. Young Hull being an expert swimmer plunged into the water, and by almost superhuman efforts succeeded in securing his entire party, some eight or ten in number, and placing them on the bottom of his boat, and was encouraging and cheering them when assistance arrived from the opposite shore. His coolness of conduct on that occasion was highly applauded by the people, and the ladies especially commended him for his noble exploits and at once named him the gallant Hull.
Isaac Hull entered the merchant service, and at the age of nineteen commanded a ship and made a voyage to London.
The first effort of the United States to establish and maintain a Navy was made in 1798, when four frigates were built for that purpose.
To one of these, Isaac Hull, then a distinguished shipmaster of New York, twenty-three years of age, was appointed as Lieutenant in the United States Navy. He was, at the early age of twenty-five, in charge of the frigate Constitution on the West India station, where a French ship under letters of marque was lying under cover of the guns of a strong battery in the harbor of Port Piatt, St. Domingo. Captain Hull, full of his youthful dash, manned a small sloop with ninety sailors and marines, and entered the harbor with it about noon, captured the ship by boarding her, carried the fort and spiked the guns, the whole being done with such adroit stillness that the commanding officer had no opportunity for defense.
From 1802 to 1805, Hull commanded the Nautilus and Argus, under Commodores Preble and Baron in the Tripolian War. and afterwards was with Gen. Eaton in the capture of the city of Deonoh, and in the bay of Naples protecting American shipping against an apprehended onslaught of the French. He was promoted to Master Commandant in 1804, and to Captain in 1806.
When the war of 1812 broke upon the country Captain Hull was in command of his favorite frigate, the Constitution, in which vessel he performed a surprising feat of seamanship.
"The frioate Constitution, commanded by Captain Isaac Hull, had received orders to join the squadron, under Commodore Rodgers, and, for that purpose, sailed from .Annapolis on the fifth of July. On the seventeenth off Egg Harbor, four ships, apparently men of war, were discovered from the mast-head to the northward, and in shore of the Constitution; and, in the belief that it was the American squadron, waiting her arrival, all sail was made in chase for them. At four in the afternoon, another ship was to the north east, standing for the Constitution with all sail set. At ten in the evening, being then within six or eight miles of the strange sail, the private signal was made by the Constitution; which not being answered, it was concluded that she, and the ships in shore, were enemy's vessels. Captain Hull immediately laid his vessel in the same course with the others, having determined to lie off till daylight to see what they were.
"Next morning, two frigates were seen from the Constitution under her lee, one frigate four or five miles, and a line-of battle ship, a frigate, a brig and a schooner, ten or twelve miles directly astern, all in chase, and coming up fast, they having a fine breeze, and it being nearly calm where the Constitution was. Finding there was but little chance for escape, being then within five miles of three heavy frigates, the Constitution was cleared for action, and two guns were run out at the cabin windows, and two at the ports on the quarter-deck. At eight o'clock, four of the ships were nearly within gunshot, some of them having six or eight boats ahead, towing with all their oars and sweeps out.
"In this perilous situation a new expedient was adopted, which was the means of saving the vessel, lieing in only twenty-four fathoms of water, boats were sent out ahead with anchors and the ship warped up to them, by which they soon began to get ahead of the enemy. They however adopted the same plan, and all the boats from the most distant ships were sent to assist those which were nearest. For two days and nights the Constitution was thus chased by the British squadron, sometimes with light winds, at others, warping and towing in a calm, seldom much beyond gunshot distance. On the morning of the twentieth, only three of the squadron couUl be seen from the mast-head, the nearest, about twelve miles distant, directly astern. A light breeze now springing up, the enemy was soon left far behind, and the Constitution, not being able to find the American squadron, arrived safe at Boston.
"During the whole of the chase the gallant crew of the Constitution remained at their stations. It is related on good authority, that the
ofificers of the British expressed their admiration of the skill with which Captain Hull maneuvered his ship and effected his escape.
"But however brilliant the nautical knowledge and professional adroitness of Captain Hull displayed on that occasion were, his generous disinterestedness afterwards is worthy of universal applause and imitation. The public notice taken of the affair, and the praises bestowed on the commander, induced him, on his arrival at Boston, to insert the following card on the books of the Exchange Coffee House.
"'Captain Hull, finding that his friends in Boston are correctly informed of his situation, when chased by the British squadron off NewYork, and that they are good enough to give him more credit for having escaped it than he ought to claim, takes this opportunity of requesting them to transfer their good wishes to Lieutenant Morris and the other brave officers, and the crew under his command, for their very great exertions and prompt attention to his orders while the enemy were in chase. Captain Hull has great pleasure in saying, that notwithstanding the length of the chase, and the officers and crew being deprived of sleep, and allowed but little refreshments during the time, not a murmur was heard to escape them.'" [Naval Battles, Smith, Boston, 1831.]
The following month the Constitution was lying in Boston harbor, when the British fleet from Halifax, composed in part of Hull's late pursuers, concocted another plan to capture our frigate, which would prove a very desirable prize at the opening of the war! Previous to this the ocean had been the theatre of many a sanguinary conflict, in which the British gained untarnished laurels, and the Americans, with a weak little navy and crippled land forces, seemed to them easily conquered. The honor of bringing in the first Yankee prize was courted and claimed by Captain Dacres, their most accomplished commander. He was fitted out with their boasted frigate, the Guerriere, a former prize seized from the French, with a choice crew from the fleet. He had also this advantage over his opponents, he with his officers and crew were thoroughly trained to arms in the best naval schools then known in the civilized world. The Constitution's crew were mostly Cape Cod fishermen, expert sailors, intelligent, patriotic, obedient to their officers, but unskilled in naval warfare.
On the second day of August, the Constitution again set sail, pursuing an easterly course. She passed near the coast as far down as the Bay of Fundy; then ran off Halifax and Cape Sable; and not seeing any vessels for some days, Captain Hull steered towards Newfoundland, passed the Isle of Sables, and took a station off the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to intercept the Canada trade. While cruising here, he captured two merchant vessels. On the 15th, he chased a convoy of five sails, captured one of them, and prevented the prize ship of an American privateer from being retaken. Having received information that the British squadron were off the Grand Bank, and not far distant, he left the cruising ground, and stood to the southward.
On the memorable 9th of August, at two p. m., the Constitution being in latitude forty-one degrees and forty-two minutes north, and fifty-five degrees and thirty-three minutes west longitude, a vessel was discovered to the southward. The Constitution instantly made all sail in chase, and soon gained on her. At three p. m., it could plainly be perceived that she was a ship on the starboard tack, under easy sail, close hauled to the wind. At half-past three, she was ascertained to be a frigate. The Constitution continued the chase. At about three miles' distance, Captain Hull ordered the light sails to be taken in, the coursers to be hauled up, and the ship to be cleared for action. The chase now backed her main-top-sail, and waited for the Constitution to come down. As soon as the Constitution was ready for action, she bore down, intending to bring immediately to close action the British frigate, which had about this time hoisted three English ensigns in token of defiance. As soon as the Constitution came within gunshot, the British frigate fired her broadside, then filed away, wore, and gave a broadside on the other tack. They, however, produced no effect, her shot fell short. The British maneuvered and wore several times for about three-quarters of an hour, in order to obtain a raking position. But not succeeding in this, she bore up under her top-sails and jib with the wind on the quarter. Captain Hull immediately made sail to bring his ship up with her. At five minutes before six, p. m., the Constitution being alongside, within pistol shot,
he ordered a brisk firing to be commenced from all her guns, which were double shotted with round and grape shot, and so well directed and so warmly kept up was the American fire, that, in fifteen minutes, the mizzenmast of the British frigate went by the board, and her mainyard in her slings. Her hull was much injured, and her rigging and sails torn to pieces. The fire was kept up, in the same spirited manner, for fifteen minutes longer by the Constitution. She had now taken a position for raking on the bows of the British frigate, when the latter could only bring her bow guns to bear on the Constitution. The grape shot and small arms of the Constitution completely swept the decks of the British frigate. Thirty minutes after the commencement of the action by the Constitution, the mainmast and foremast went by the board, taking with them every spar except the bowsprit. She then struck her colors which had been fastened to the stump of the mizzenmast. The Constitution then set fore and mainsails, and hauled to the eastward to repair damages. All her braces, a great part of her standing and running rigging, and some of her spars, were shot away. At seven p. m., she stood under the lee of her prize, and sent a boat on board, which returned at eight with Captain Dacres, commander of the frigate. She was the Guerriere, rating thirty-eight, and mounting forty-nine guns. The hull of the Guerriere was so much shattered that a few broadsides would have sunk her. She had fifteen men killed, sixty-one wounded and twenty-four missing, who, it is presumed, were swept overboard by the falling masts. The Constitution had only seven killed and seven wounded.
The boats were immediately employed in bringing the wounded and prisoners on board the Constitution. About two a. m., a sail was discovered off the larboard beam standing to the south. The ship was instantly cleared for action. At three, the vessel stood away. At day-break information was received from the lieutenant on board the prize, that the ship was in a sinking condition, and had four feet of water in the hold. As soon as all her crew were removed from on board of her, she was set on fire, and blew up a quarter-past three.
Captain Hull, in his letter to the Secretary of the Navy, says that, "from the smallest boy in the ship to the oldest seaman,
net a look of fear was seen. They all went into action giving three cheers, and requesting to be laid along-side the enemy." [Clark's Naval History, vol. 1. pp. 175-176.]
In the heat of the engagement, one of the crew of the Constitution, perceiving the flag at the fore-top-mast-head had been shot away, went up with it and lashed it so securely as to render it impossible to shoot it away, unless the mast went with it.
The generosity of Captain Hull and his crew was equal to their bravery. Captain Dacres, in his official letter, confessed their conduct to have been "that of a brave enemy; the greatest care being taken to prevent the men losing the slightest article, and the greatest attention being paid to the wounded."
The Constitution arrived in Boston harbor the 30th day of August. When Captain Hull landed he was received with every demonstration of affection and respect. The Washington Artillery, posted on the wharf, welcomed him with a federal salute, which was returned by the Constitution. An immense assemblage of citizens made the air ring with loud and unanimous huzzas, which were repeated on his passage up State street to the Exchange Coffee House; the street was beautifully decorated with American flags.
A splendid entertainment was given to Captain Hull and his officers by the citizens of Boston, to which Commodore Rodgers and the officers of his squadron were invited. The citizens of Philadelphia subscribed for two elegant pieces of plate -- one to be presented to Captain Hull, and the other to Mr. Charles Morris, his first lieutenant. The Legislature of New York, the council of the cities of Albany and Savannah, the Congress of the United States, the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, and other public bodies, voted their thanks to Captain Hull, his officers and crew. The order of Cincinnati admitted him as an honorary member. Congress voted fifty thousand dollars as an indemnification to the captain, officers, and crew, for the loss sustained by the destruction of the Guerriere.
The news of Commodore Hull's success in capturing the Guerriere was very gratifying to the people of Derby, and when assembled in town meeting April 12, 1813, they passed the following resolution, which was presented by the old soldier. Gen. David Humphreys, "Resolved that John L. Tomlinson, William
Humphreys and Pearl Crafts be a committee to collect and digest such distinguished and illustrative facts on the subject matter now before us as may be attainable, and that they will cause the result to be communicated to the public in such manner as they shall deem most proper." Very careful search has been made to find some report from this committee in the public prints of that day or on the town records, but without any success. Commodore Isaac Hull died at Philadelphia, Penn., February, 1843, aged sixty-eight years.
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