NELSON HOLLISTER, who died on March 2, 1897, was for a long period
one of Hartford's prominent business men and substantial citizens. He was
a picturesque figure on the streets where his flowing pure white hair and
beard, clear complexion, and kindly smile attracted general attention.
Born Feb. 12, 1810, in Andover, Conn., son
of Gideon and Mary (Olmstead) Hollister, our subject was a descendant of
one of the historic families of the Colonial period of New England and
Connecticut, and a family of prominence, too, in the history of the State.
(I) John Hollister, the ancestor of the American
Hollisters, is believed to have been born in England in 1612, and to have
emigrated to America about 1642, sailing from Bristol, England. His name
is of record in Wethersfield, Conn., as early as 1642. He became one of
the most prominent men of that town and the Connecticut Colony, and represented
the town many times in the Legislature. He married Joanna, daughter of
Hon. William Treat, Sr. John Hollister died in 1665.
From this emigrant ancestor the late Nelson
Hollister was a descendant in the seventh generation, his line being through
John (2), Thomas, Gideon, Nathaniel and Gideon (2).
(II) John Hollister (2), son of John the emigrant,
born about 1644 in Wethersfield, married in 1667 Sarah, daughter of William
Goodrich. Mr. Hollister was one of the leading men of Glastonbury, where
he died in 1711.
(III) Thomas Hollister, son of John (2), born
in 1672 in Wethersfield, married Dorothy, daughter of Joseph Hills, of
Glastonbury, and lived and died in that town, passing away in 1741.
(IV) Gideon Hollister, son of Thomas, born
in 1699 in Glastonbury, married in 1723 Rachel, daughter of Sergt. Nathaniel
Talcott, and settled in the East Parish of Glastonbury. Mr. Hollister was
a lieutenant in the militia, and a deacon in the church in Glastonbury.
He died in 1785.
(V) Nathaniel Hollister, son of Gideon, born
in 1731 in Glastonbury, married in 1754 Mabel Matson. He died in 1810.
(VI) Gideon Hollister
(2), son of Nathaniel, and the father of Nelson Hollister, born in 1776,
in Glastonbury, married Mary Olmstead, of East Hartford, and settled in
Andover, Conn., where he was a manufacturer of paper, and a valued and
respected member of society. He died in 1864.
Nelson Hollister, the subject proper of this
sketch, in youth became engaged, with his father and brothers, in the manufacture
of paper. Subsequently he removed to Hartford, and in about 1840 engaged
in business on Front street, as a dealer in paper stock and rags, where
he laid the foundation of a large fortune. Late in the sixties he disposed
of his business and retired. Mr. Hollister was identified with a number
of banks and corporations, among them the old Charter Oak Life Insurance
Co., the Etna Fire Insurance Co., the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection
and Insurance Co., and the State Bank, in all of which he was a director.
He superintended the erection of the large granite building on the corner
of Main and Atheneum streets, now the property of the Etna Life Insurance
Co. He was the first treasurer of the Hartford & Connecticut Valley
Railroad Co. He was president of the Cedar Hill Cemetery Association, and
took an active interest in the cemetery's development. He was an original
member and a deacon of the Pearl Street Congregational Church, organized
in 1852. Mr. Hollister was also a member of the Veteran Corps of the Governor's
Foot Guard, in which he ever took an active interest. In 1894 he was admitted
as a member of the Connecticut Historical Society. Up to two years before
his death, in spite of his years, Mr. Hollister was one of the most active
men of Hartford. He was poss-essed of a vigorous constitution and good
health, was a great lover of outdoor life and sports, and enjoyed seeing
played the National game of baseball.
On May 12, 1834, Mr. Hollister was married
to Edith Sawyer, born Nov. 21, 1815, daughter of Elijah R. and Fanny (Spencer)
Sawyer, of Windham, Conn. They had four children, as follows: (1) Arthur
N. Hollister, born Dec. 28, 1835, died Jan. 18, 1897. (2) Erskin B. Hollister,
born May 4, 1842, died Nov. 21. 1859. (3) Edith Sawyer Hollister, born
May 15, 1845, was married May 13, 1867, to Charles Augustus Robinson. (4)
Lucy Sawyer Hollister, born Aug. 3, 1848, married June 14. 1870, Albert
J. H. Beers & Co.