ABBOTT, LYMAN FREDERICK was born at Holders, Worcester county, Mass.,
on the 13th day of January, 1839, and was the youngest of eight children
born to Asa and Sarah (MORSE) ABBOTT. The father was a farmer by occupation
at Holders. When Lyman was about nine years old the family moved to Worcester,
Mass., at which place at the age of fourteen years the young son was put
at work as a clerk, and was thus employed about two years, when the family
again changed place of residence, this time moving to Bennington. Here
Lyman entered the factory of his brother-in-law, Henry E. BRADFORD, working
in various departments, and by diligent application becoming acquainted
with the business in every detail.
The faithful services rendered by young ABBOTT were not left unrewarded
by his employer, for in 1863 he was taken into the firm, and upon the occasion
of the death of Mr. BRADFORD in April, 1878 Mr. ABBOTT became the senior
partner in the business, while the sons of the deceased manufacturer represented
the interest of their father, but never disturbed the old firm name of
H. E. Bradford & Co., it being too well and favorably known in business
circles to be thrown aside by the successors in the factory.
Upon the death of Mr. BRADFORD our subject practically succeeded
to the management of the extensive business of the firm as it then existed;
this business was exceedingly large, but under the charge of Mr. ABBOTT
and his associates it lost nothing of its magnitude, and the new firm is
still one of the leaders in the vicinity in the manufacture of knit goods.
While this manufacture has received from Mr. ABBOTT close attention and
care, he has not been so fully engaged by it as to prevent him from taking
part in the various enterprises looking to the welfare and improvement
of his town and its people, and once do we find him in the political arena,
though against his every inclination, and only to gratify the wishes of
his personal friends and party followers. In the fall of 1880 he consented
to become the Republican nominee for representative in the State Legislature.
He was elected by a large majority, although the town is so equally divided
as to require that each party put forth its strongest candidate.
Mr. ABBOTT is a member of the Bennington Historical Society, and
as such has been elected by that body to membership in the Battle Monument
Association, the object of which is well known to every resident of the
county. Also he has been connected with the First National Bank of Bennington
since 1879 as director and vice-president. On the 20th day of May, 1868
Lyman F. ABBOTT was married to Laura Tirza HANCOCK, the daughter of Frederick
HANCOCK, of Bennington. Of this marriage two children have been born, both
of whom are now living. Mr. ABBOTT is today numbered among the substantial
business men of the town of Bennington, having the companionship of a large
circle of friends, and enjoying the reputation of entire honesty in business
transactions, generosity in all good causes, and a citizen whose moral
character is above suspicion.
BRADFORD, HENRY E. In the portion of this volume that is devoted
to a description of the past and present manufacturing interests of Bennington
the statement appears that Henry E. BRADFORD was the pioneer of the knit
goods industry in the village. His operations in founding this industry
began in 1853, when he became the owner of the WILLS and FAIRBANKS property,
and soon afterward in the spring of 1854. Put it in operation in the manufacture
of woolen cloths. This was continued until 1857, at which time George S.
BRADFORD, a brother of our subject, became interested in the business,
and the firm of H. E. Bradford & Co. was established and has continued
until the present time, although neither member of the original partnership
is now living.
Henry Edwards BRADFORD, the senior partner of the firm above referred
to, and its principal member, was a native of Southbridge, Mass., born
September 19, 1819. His parents were Elisha and Sally BRADFORD, and of
their eight children Henry was the youngest. At the age of nine years the
lad Henry was put at work at wool sorting, that occupation being at that
time a trade, and so continued for several years until he became a practical
and reliable sorter. In the course of time he accumulated some little means,
and then about 1847, in partnership with John TENNEY, he engaged in the
manufacture of woolen cloths at Millbury, Mass.; but at the end of four
years Mr. BRADFORD sold out to his partner and went to North Amherst, where
he again engaged in business, this time in partnership with Thomas JONES,
the latter furnishing the necessary capital for the firm, while Mr. BRADFORD
was the practical man in charge of the manufacturing department. Their
product was cloths, principally Kentucky jeans, and their business was
conducted with reasonable success for a period of about three years.
During the time of his business operations, both at Millbury and
North Amherst, Mr. BRADFORD had a desire to establish a business for himself,
but he lacked the requisite means, and therefore was obliged to work with
others until his own capital was sufficient to warrant an investment of
it; and the latter part of his three years partnership at North Amherst
seems to have found him sufficiently well possessed for his purpose, or
at all events he then determined to make the venture. Looking about for
a desirable place to locate Mr. BRADFORD discovered an opening at Bennington,
and he thereupon purchased the old WILLS and FAIRBANK property that had
formerly been a cloth factory, but the business had not been conducted
with any great degree of profit. This property, as has been stated, Mr.
BRADFORD purchased in 1853, and in the spring of 1854 took up his abode
in Bennington. For the next three years the mill was run as under the preceding
firm, but at the end of that time its character was changed and the first
mill for the manufacture of knit goods was established in Bennington. The
business of the firm was soon made a successful and profitable one and
enlargements were necessitated to meet the increasing demands for their
product. Other persons saw too that the BRADFORDS were on the road to prosperity,
and they in turn commenced similar manufactures until the village acquired
the reputation of being an extensive knit-goods manufacturing center.
In the year 1863 George S. BRADFORD and Henry E. BRADFORD dissolved
partnership and divided the property formerly held and operated in common;
but the retirement of George S. BRADFORD did not affect the firm name,
as Lyman F. ABBOTT, whose sister Henry E. BRADFORD had married, at once
succeeded to the vacant place. John KELSO also became interested in the
business, and continued in the firm until about the year 1884. George S.
BRADFORD took what the former firm had always called their "upper mill,"
and there he conducted business until the time of his death.
Henry E. BRADFORD was a stirring, energetic and thorough business
man, and while he was a practical workman he also had the capacity of managing
the entire business in the office as well as at the work-bench. Thus was
Mr. BRADFORD engaged at the time of his death, April 10, 1878. By
his death the village of Bennington lost not only one of its most prominent
business men, but one who had at heart the interests of the town as well
as his personal affairs, and one whose influence for good in the community
was remarkable. While the turmoil of politics had no charms for him he
nevertheless was not backward when his friends requested him to represent
the people in local offices, but beyond this he would not consent to go.
Mr. BRADFORD, too, was a generous man, and gave liberally of his means
to the support of the church of which he was a member -- the Methodist
Episcopal -- as well as to all other worthy objects. He was an earnest
advocate of the graded school for the village, and when that institution
was erected Mr. BRADFORD generously donated to the trustees some desirable
apparatus for experiments in the scientific department.
After Mr. BRADFORD's death the business of the firm was continued
without changing its name, although several changes in partners have been
made. As now conducted the persons interested in the firm of H. E. Bradford
& Co. are Lyman F. ABBOTT, Willlam H. and Edward W. BRADFORD, sons
of Henry E. BRADFORD.
Henry E. BRADFORD was twice married. He was first married on the
16th day of August, 1843, to Lucy Ann PROCTOR, of Fitchburg, Mass., at
which place Mr. BRADFORD was then working at his trade as a wool sorter.
Of that marriage one child, Frances Ann, was born. She died during childhood.
Lucy Ann BRADFORD died May 9, 1847. Again on the 8th day of November, 1849,
at Millbury, Mr. BRADFORD was united in marriage with Eleanor ABBOTT, the
daughter of Asa and Sarah ABBOTT, then residing at Worcester. There have
been born of this marriage seven children, viz.: Herbert Waldo, who died
September 8, 1857; Frederick, who died March t9, 1859; William Henry, of
Bennington; Carrie Frances, who died September 10, 1859; Edward Walling,
of Bennington; Lizzie May, the wife of Chester J. REYNOLDS, of Chicago;
Emma Amelia, wife of Charles Henry DEWEY, of Bennington.
H. BROWN, MAJOR
BROWN, SAMUEL H., MAJOR. In the township of Bennington there was
probably no man longer engaged in business pursuits, or who had a more
extended and favorable acquaintance throughout the vicinity than Major
BROWN; for, during the better part of sixty years he was in a greater or
less degree directly interested in mercantile or manufacturing enterprises
in the town; and during all his long and varied business life and intercourse
with his fellow men no man ever had just cause to doubt his honor and probity.
Although he began life with not limited means, his prudent habits, excellent
judgment, and firm adherence to the rule that "whatever is worth doing
at all is worth doing well," brought to him most gratifying success and
enabled him to accumulate a comfortable fortune Of quiet disposition, kind
of heart, and generous to all good causes, he won the respect and esteem
of all to whom he was known. But in no way did the qualities of the man
appear so strongly as in the citizen, friend, and neighbor, in the more
private walks in life, and as the parent and husband within the sacred
precincts of home. His commanding personal appearance, agreeable manners,
and scrupulous attention to the common civilities of life, endeared him
alike to old and young.
Such were the characteristics of Major Samuel H. BROWN, who, after
an exemplary life of eighty-three years, changed the mortal for immortality,
and was laid at rest on the 1st day of June, in the year 1887.
Samuel Hinman BROWN was born in the town of Bennington on the 2d
day of May, in the year 1804, and was the son of Samuel and Betsey BROWN.
Very early in life was he deprived of a mother's tender love and care,
for she was stricken and died when Samuel was but seven years old; and
eight years later he was left an orphan through the death of his father.
But kind friends interposed, and young Samuel, under the guardianship of
Captain Jonathan NORTON, was placed in the family of Dr. Noadiah SWIFT,
with whom he lived most of the time till his majority was reached. He then
formed a partnership with Benjamin FAY, and commenced mercantile business
at Bennington Center, as successors to General Henry ROBINSON, but in 1829
the partner retired, and the business was continued by Mr. BROWN for some
time longer, when, having acquired an interest in a tin business at East
Bennington, he again took a partner, Ray R. SANFORD, a relative of the
It would indeed be difficult to follow the many and varied business
enterprises in which our subject was from time to time engaged after his
first venture in partnership with Mr. FAY and his successor, Mr. SANFORD,
until his final retirement in 1870; but there may properly be made, as
a part of this sketch, some mention of the leading of these enterprises
as they are noted in the obituary, written soon after Mr. Brown's death
and published: Major BROWN was interested in two cotton-mills here. The
first stood upon the site of the Stewart block, and the other on the site
of the present novelty works and known as the Doolittle factory. About
1838 he sold out his store at the Center, and entered the bank of Bennington
as cashier, remaining there four years. After leaving the bank he exchanged
his farm for business property in Troy, and came to East Bennington to
reside in 1842. He engaged in the grocery trade in Troy, but not liking
it there returned to Bennington and built the stone grist-mill on North
street, which he furnished with fine machinery and conducted for about
twenty-five years. A foundery was also run in connection with the other
This foundery was the Aaron Grover Works, and was purchased about 1846.
From this time Major BROWN became prominently identified with the
iron interests of the county. The iron mines east of the village were worked,
and this business was a leading industry of Western Vermont at the time.
One of his partners in this business was Resolvy GAGE, now a resident of
East Boston, Mass. In 1860 Olin SCOTT succeeded Mr. GAGE.
In 1867 Mr. BROWN sold his grist-mill and appurtenances to Henry
W. PUTNAM, and began work on his Troy property, which occupied his attention
for about two years. In 1870 he retired from active participation in business
pursuits, and devoted himself to the management of his investments.
In his daily meeting with friends and fellow townsmen Mr. BROWN
was generally addressed as "Major." This title became his by virtue of
his appointment in 1829 as brigade major and inspector of the second division
of Vermont militia, and by it was he ever afterward designated. Besides
this Major BROWN was variously honored with offices, the gift of the electors
of the town and county, but he was by no means an office-seeker; and whatever
of political holdings were his the duties of office were faithfully and
honestly administered. In 1853 he was elected associate judge of the County
Court of Bennington county, and served in that capacity two terms.
An event that proved an important factor in Major BROWN's success
in life was the faithful and devoted companionship of a most estimable
wife, the sharer of his fortunes and reverses in business, and who survived
him at the time of his death in 1887. Samuel Hinman BROWN and Sarah Maria
BROWN, the latter formerly of Southbury, Conn., were united in marriage
on the 10th day of October, 1826. Of this marriage five children were born,
as follows: Hinman Samuel, now of Bennington; Sarah Maria, who died at
the age of twenty-five years; Francis Raymond, who died at the age of twenty-seven
years; Helen Elizabeth, who became the wife of William E. HAWKS, and Cordelia,
who died an infant of one year and eleven months.
ELIAS BLACK BURTON
BURTON, ELIAS BLACK, HON., was born in the town of Rupert on the
3d of May in the year 1816, and was the fourth of nine children born to
Nathan and Charlotte (GRAVES) BURTON, both of whom were highly respected
residents of Rupert, the mother being a daughter of Dr. GRAVES of that
town, a leading physician of his time. Young Elias was given the advantages
of a good education in the district schools of the town at first, but afterward
was under the instruction of judge AIKEN, then of Manchester, afterward
of Massachusetts, by the latter preparing for college. He also attended
one term at the Royalton Academy, and later at the Bennington Academy,
and in 1833 entered the Middlebury College for a regular classical course
of four years. In 1837 he was graduated from that institution. He then
went South and passed about a year, engaged in teaching at Carrolton, Ala.,
but at the expiration of that time returned to his home in Rupert.
The next year, 1839, our subject is found in Troy, in the office
of Lawyer WILSON as a student, determined to enter the legal profession,
but after four months he went to Salem, N. Y.; and there entered the law
office of Allen & Blair, with whom he continued until his admission
to the bar at the General Term of the Supreme Court held in May, 1842.
In 1843 the young lawyer came to Manchester and formed a law partnership
with Counselor A. L. MINER of that place, with whom he was associated until
the year 1851, Mr. MINER then leaving off practice to enter upon the duties
of the office of representative in Congress, to which he was in that year
elected. From that time until 1854 Mr. BURTON practiced alone, but in the
year last named he took a partner in the person of Samuel Seward BURTON,
the cousin of our subject, who afterward became prominent as one of the
leading and most successful lawyers and business men of LaCrosse, Wis.,
to which place he emigrated in 1857. Then, after a period of practice alone
Mr. BURTON formed a partnership in 1866 for law practice with Loveland
MUNSON who had then but recently been admitted to the bar of the State,
and who had prosecuted his legal studies in the office of our subject.
This latter co-partnership relation continued until the spring of 1888,
when the senior partner felt justified in retiring from the onerous and
burdensome duties of active professional life.
As has already been stated it was in the year 1843 that Elias B.
BURTON began his professional career in Manchester, the north half-shire
town of Bennington county, but his subsequent practice was not by any means
confined to this locality alone. As a lawyer, whether young or old in the
profession, he always applied himself diligently to its labors, and at
an early day assumed, and to the time of his retirement maintained a leading
position among the profession's ablest members. In the conduct of his legal
business he was methodical and cautious, without being laborious. He discountenanced
rather than promoted litigation, and in his intercourse with his clients
mature deliberation always preceded council. He rarely indulged in rhetoric
and never in ostentatious display, but addressed himself to the understanding
of his hearers instead of appealing to their passions, and approached whatever
subject he had in hand with dignity, self-possession, and in the light
of principle and common sense. Upon all the political issues of the times
he has entertained clear and well settled convictions and is perfectly
frank and outspoken in the expression of them. His sentiments have been
and are emphatically conservative -- naturally inclined to adhere to the
established order of things, and not easily drawn into the advocacy of
any of the isms of the day.
Naturally enough a man of his prominence could not well avoid being
drawn into the arena of politics, yet he has by no means been an office-seeker.
In 1849 he was elected State's attorney for Bennington county, and held
that office one year. In 1855 he represented the town of Manchester in
the State General Assembly, and in 1836 and 1857 in the Sate Senate. In
1865 he was elected to the office of Probate judge, and filled that position
for twelve consecutive years. In 1860 John W. STEWART and Elias B. BURTON
were appointed delegates to represent the first Vermont Congressional District
at the National Republican Convention held at Chicago, and at which Abraham
Lincoln was nominated for the presidency of the United States, and it is
to this last named event anti his connection therewith that Judge BURTON
looks back with feelings of the greatest pride and satisfaction.
On the 13th day of December, in the year 1842, the same year in
which he was admitted to the bar, Elias B. BURTON was married to Adeline
M. HARWOOD, of the village of Bennington. Of this marriage there have been
born six children, three of whom are now living, the other three having
died in infancy.
BURTON, WILLIAM B. The subject of this sketch was born in the town
of Manchester, on the farm now owned and occupied by his brother, George
G. BURTON, on the 3d day of July 1820. His father was Joseph, and his mother
Anna (BENEDICT) BURTON, and of their six children William was the eldest
but one. The father, Joseph BURTON, was a farmer, and on the farm William
was brought up at work, attending school in season, until he reached the
age of about twenty years, when, having been educated at the Burr and Burton
Seminary at Manchester, he began teaching school, which occupation engaged
his attention for several years.
About the year 1848, in copartnership with F. W. HOYT, Mr. BURTON
embarked in the mercantile business at Manchester village, but three years
of experience in trade brought the firm no gratifying results, and the
establishment was closed. But Mr. BURTON settled the affairs of the unfortunate
firm, and accepted a clerkship or managing position in connection with
a union store gotten tip and stocked by the farmers of the vicinity, and
located at Factory Point (now Manchester Center), which business Mr. BURTON
conducted for about eight years.
In 1862 our subject formed a partnership with Samuel G. CONE of
Manchester, and succeeded by purchase to the mercantile business formerly
conducted by Franklin H. ORVIS; and about five years later the firm added
to their interests another store at Factory Point, in both of which enterprises
they have been engaged to the present day. It is no flattering comment
to state that the business of this firm has been entirely successful, or
that the members of the firm are both counted among the most honorable
and fair dealing men in the community. From 1862 to 1875 Mr. BURTON also
held the office as postmaster.
William B. BURTON has never been an aspirant for political honors
in his town or in the county, but has been content to busy himself with
the affairs of his own interests; still there is no man that has been more
closely identified with the various measures looking to the benefit and
welfare of the town than he. In matters pertaining to the church, with
which he has for upwards of thirty years been connected as a member, Mr.
BURTON has taken a deep interest, contributing both of his time and means
for the advancement and prosperity of the Congregational Society. The office
of treasurer of that society he held for many years, and insisted on being
retired from the duties of the same at the last annual meeting, but still
he holds the office of deacon. For more than forty years he was leader
of the choir in the Congregational Church.
On the 16th day of August, 1846 William B. BURTON was married to
Angeline M., the daughter of Abraham B. STRAIGHT, of Manchester. Of this
union three children were born, only two of whom grew to maturity. His
wife died on the 13th day of December, 1877. On the 15th day of June, 1880
Mr. BURTON was married to Elizabeth T. MORGAN, the daughter of a highly
respected and prominent pioneer resident, Colonel A. W. MORGAN, of Glens
Falls, Warren county, N. Y.
COOPER, CHARLES was born in Nottingham, England, in January, 1835.
He was the fourth child, and one of the twelve children born to James and
Ann (GLOVER) COOPER. The father, James COOPER, was a very skillful mechanic,
and made the inside work of knitting machinery a specialty. He manufactured
for the trade all kinds of knitting needles, and the various forms of the
sinkers for the knitting frames. Into this business Charles COOPER was
very early inducted, and before reaching his minority had acquired considerable
skill in many of the operations that constitute the process of this manufacture.
In 1847 James COOPER, the father of the subject of this sketch, came to
America, first to Germantown, Pa., at that time the seat of the greatest
knitting industry in the United States. After a few months he went to Thompsonville,
Conn., to enter the employ of the Enfield Manufacturing Company of that
place, pursuing the calling to which he had devoted his life, making needles
and sinkers, and the delicate inside work of knitting frames. In 1848 the
family left by him in the old English home came across the water to join
the pioneer husband and father, and, being soon domiciled, began the working
out of their several destinies in the new world. The COOPER family are
a gifted race in the line of mechanical design and invention. A sister
of Mr. COOPER, Madam GRISWOLD, of New York City, has invented and manufactured
some of the most popular designs of corsets and other articles of ladies'
underwear. She has made for herself an enviable reputation and secured
a competency. George COOPER is known as a most skillful and ingenious machinist,
and his patents are numerous, and have won for him great distinction as
While living at Thompsonville Charles COOPER was married to Miss
Annie SEMPLE, daughter of Alexander SEMPLE, whose brother is now the superintendent
of the Broad Brook Woolen Company's Works. To Charles and Annie COOPER
have been born five children, three daughters and two sons, one son and
two daughters are now living; the younger son, a remarkable boy, died at
the age of twelve years. The middle daughter, Mrs. Mabel E. GRAVES,
but recently passed away. Charles COOPER, having previously purchased of
his brother George all his right in the, flat rib knitting machine patent
in: 1868, came to Bennington to put one of his machines to work in the
mills of H. E. Bradford & Co., bringing with him George DAKIN, an expert
knitter, to run. In the fall of the same year Charles COOPER brought his
whole needle plant to Bennington, and began here his extensive business
in that line. He manufactures all kinds of knitting needles for all kinds
of machines, also the sinkers for the same. This was his father's business,
and lie has been trained in it since his youth. In 1870 Mr. COOPER took
his brother-in -law, Mr. Eli TIFFANY, into partnership with him, and the
year following they commenced the manufacture of their patent flat rib
knitting machine, and so great were their sales that their output went
as high as $75,000 per year. In 1886 the firm was dissolved, and Charles
COOPER began the manufacture of the same machine in a shop of his own,
and the output of the new shop equals the number of machines made by the
old company. His machine works are supplied with the most improved machinery
and tools, and are under the superintendency of Mr. Daniel HURLEY. In 1883
he started the manufacture of knit goods of a very fine quality and diversified
patterns, and this branch of his business has increased to such an extent
that the Cooper Manufacturing Company ranks as one of the leading industries
of southern Vermont. Of this company the capital stock is $100,000, Charles
COOPER, president, and his son, A. J. COOPER, is vice-president and treasurer,
and Benjamin F. BALL secretary and superintendent.
Mr. COOPER is essentially a self-made man, a good example of America's
opportunities and rewards of talent and energy. He began life with no capital
save a thorough knowledge of his trade, and this he has utilized to exceedingly
good purpose. Substantial returns are the reward of his energy, industry,
Devoted to his business, Mr. COOPER has not found time to enter
into local or general politics to any great extent than should every prudent
and patriotic citizen. He has, however, very decided political opinions,
and is a thorough protectionist from conviction of the imminent disaster
that must come to American industries if, by lowering the present tariff
rates, American operatives and manufacturers are brought into too sharp
competition with the cheaper labor and massed capital of Europe.
He knows the more favorable condition of the American operative
and mechanic as, compared with the same employment in Europe. He knows
this from observation and experience on both sides of the Atlantic, and
is therefore the more pronounced in favor of the American system of protection.
In social and society matters Mr. COOPER. takes great interest.
But he finds his greatest pleasure in the relaxation from business by devotion,
to church work. He is an official member of the Methodist Episcopal Church,
and is the superintendent of the Sunday-school. He is an earnest and reliable
helper in all good enterprises.
HILAND HALL, L.L.D
HALL, HILAND Hon, L.L.D., ex-Governor, ex-Member of Congress and
ex-Controller of the United States Treasury, was born in Bennington July
20, 1795. Nathaniel HALL, his father, was an industrious farmer, and his
wife, whom he married in Norfolk, Conn., October 12, 1794, Abigail (HUBBARD)
HALL, a worthy companion. The ancestors of both, John HALL of the father
and George HUBBARD of the mother, were from England, who after being over
fifteen years at Boston and Hartford became in 1650 large landholders,
and the first settlers of Middletown, Conn. Nathaniel HALL was a deacon
of the Baptist Church in North Bennington. He and his wife were worthy
communicants of that church, and respected members of society. Of their
seven children, two sons and five daughters, all of whom lived to be married,
Hiland, the subject of this sketch, was the oldest. His education was obtained
in the common schools of the day when he could be spared from the labor
upon the farm, with a finishing term of three months at the academy in
Granville, N. Y. He early exhibited a taste for reading, and any
books he could borrow in the neighborhood were read, and on many occasions
by the use of the light from coals on the hearth of an old fashioned fireplace,
candles being at that time among the often forbidden luxuries. History
and biography were his choice, and as soon as his age would allow he began
teaching during the winters in the districts schools. When eighteen he
was interested in the formation of the "Sons of Liberty," a society of
the young men of Bennington for a vigorous prosecution of the War of 1812
with England. He was admitted to the Bennington county bar in 1819, and
always resided in Bennington, only as he was absent on official positions
of trust. He began his political life as a national Republican, voting
for John Quincy Adams for president in 1824 and 1828. The party afterwards
took the name of "Whig," with which he acted until it became merged in
1856 in the new Republican party, the name under which he began his political
career. He represented the town in the General Assembly of the State in
1827, and was chiefly instrumental in obtaining a charter for the first
bank located in the county. In 1828 he was clerk of the Supreme and County
Court for Bennington county, and was elected State's attorney for the county,
and reelected the three succeeding years. Mr. HALL was naturally generous,
and his sympathies sometimes led him in answering the claims of the needy
to be more liberal than his income would allow, and he was for years in
straitened pecuniary circumstances. In later life, however, after his family
had grown so as to care for themselves, his income was ample for his mode
of living and for expressing in a tangible way many of his benevolent desires.
In January, 1833 he was elected to Congress to fill the vacancy made by
the death of Hon. Jona HUNT, and at the same election was chosen a member
of the Twenty-third Congress. He represented this district for ten successive
years as a Republican and Whig, when he declined longer to be a candidate,
and closed his Congressional course the 3d of March, 1843. In Congress
Mr. HALL served upon several important committees, and being a working
rather than a talking member his services were often laborious and severe,
especially on that of post-office and post-roads, and afterwards on that
of Revolutionary claims, his printed reports upon the latter covering several
volumes of public documents. In May, 1834, he made a speech against General
Jackson's removal of the government deposits from the United States Bark,
and another in May, 1836, in favor of the distribution of the proceeds
of the public lands among the States, by which Vermont received nearly
seven hundred thousand dollars as her portion, to be added to the school
fund of the towns. Both the speeches were printed as campaign documents,
and extensively circulated by his political friends, and the former was
reprinted in New York prior to the succeeding election. In March, 1836,
while a member of the post office committee, he presented a minority report
on “incendiary publications," in opposition to the message of the president
and the advice of the postmaster-general and in answer to a re report made
in the Senate by Mr. Calhoun of South Carolina. but as the majority of
the committee failed to present theirs it did not become a public paper,
but was published in the National Intelligencer at Washington, and other
papers through the country. He took an active part in procuring the act
of July 2d, 1836, by which in the reorganization of the post-office department
a system for the settlement of accounts was established, which inaugurated
an economical administration of its affairs.
Mr. HALL was successful in putting a stop to the payment of claims
which had for years been made by Virginians, called commutation claims,
half pay and bounty land claims. These had been numerous, and had passed
through Congress with little opposition, as many influential Virginians,
governors, and members of Congress were and had been interested in them,
and were founded on alleged promises of the State of Virginia or of the
Continental Congress to Virginia officers of the Revolutionary army. There
had been over three millions of dollars paid by the United States on fictitious
claims for supposed services of deceased officers, and their numbers were
continually increasing. By patient examination of Revolutionary archives
at Washington, and information gleaned from public records at Richmond,
he prepared a report as chairman of a select committee for the purpose
of such investigation, which was approved by the committee and presented
to the house on the 27th of February, 1839. By dilatory motions and efforts
in obstructing the action of the house, participated in by Mr. Wise and
others of the Virginia delegation, it being near the close of the session,
the designed object was effected of smothering the report for that Congress.
At the next session, on the 24th of April. 1840, Mr. HALL made a report
as a member of the committee on Revolutionary claims, upon these claims
of the Virginians, which showed by authentic evidence that every one was
unfounded. The efforts of the Virginians to obtain allowances being continued,
Mr. Stanly, of North Carolina, on the ground that the claimants could not
otherwise have a fair hearing, on the 10th of June, 1842, offered a resolution
that a select committee be appointed to examine and report on their validity.
On the 16th Mr. HALL spoke an hour, vindicating his course and showing
that the claims were, every one, either gotten up in fraud or were clearly
unfounded on any service to sustain them, and closed by giving a list of
sixty-four of the latest of such claims, amounting to over two hundred
thousand dollars, which were before the house, and had been recommended
for payment by the executive of Virginia. He offered to withdraw his opposition
to the claims if any member would satisfy the house that any single claim
was well founded. His speech was commented upon by many of the Virginians,
some of whom were personally interested in the payment of them, among them
Messrs Goggin, Goode, and Gilmer, the latter of whom while governor of
Virginia, had already received over twelve thousand dollars by a law of
the State entitling him as agent of the half-pay claimants, to one per
cent on all that should be paid by the United States on this class of claims.
The debate occupied the morning hour, of several days, and having the large
delegation of Virginia on one side and a single member from another State
on the other, and being in a great degree of a personal character, it attracted
very general attention. Members of both houses of Congress were present
during much of the debate, and the lobbies and galleries were filled with
spectators. Mr. HALL triumphantly sustained every position he had taken
in debate, and so discomfited his assailants that besides being highly
complimented by many senators and members of the house, among them ex President
Adams, his vindication was the subject of general newspaper notice through
the country. This thorough exposure of these claims, followed soon after
by a report in detail of the select committee, prepared by Mr. HALL, operated
as a final suppression of them. May it not be said this capturing of the
Virginia delegation was really the first taking of Richmond by evidence,
much of which was taken from the State archives and brought to bear with
irresistible force upon the fortified plans and schemes of its greedy speculators.
He was president of the large "Whig" Convention held in Bennington
in 1840, and made the opening speech introductory to his presenting Hon.
Daniel Webster at the famous "Stratton Whig Convention," held on the top
of the Green Mountain on the 16th of August of the same year.
He was bank commissioner of Vermont for four years, from 1843, judge
of the Supreme Court for the like period until 1850, when he was appointed
Second Controller of the United States Treasury. While acting as controller,
he took the ground that he should, if satisfied of the illegality of an
expenditure, though ordered by the head of a department representing the
president, reject it, although in opposition to a labored written argument
and sanctioned by the published opinion of three former Attorney-Generals.
He showed conclusively that judicial authority had been designedly conferred
on the accounting officers as a check upon lavish expenditures in the several
departments, and a second edition of his published opinion, which has since
been followed in the department, has recently been printed for government
In 1851 he was appointed by President Fillmore with General James
Wilson, of New Hampshire, and Judge H. I. Thronton, of Alabama, a land
Commissioner for California, resigning his position as controller, and
recommending for his successor Hon. E. J. PHELPS, a prominent lawyer of
Burlington, and since United States minister to England. Mr. HALL was chairman
of the commission, and wrote the opinion in the famous Mariposa claim of
General J. C. Fremont, which included, almost without exception, all points
that would be liable to arise in the adjusting of land claims under the
treaty with Mexico. After the election of President Pierce he remained
for a time in San Francisco with the law firm of Halleck, Peachy, Billings
& Park as general adviser and to assist in the preparation of important
In the spring of 1854 he returned to Vermont, and, resuming his
residence on the farm in North Bennington on which he was born, retired
from the further practice of his profession.
Mr. HALL was possessed of the qualities which go to make up a statesman;
a good mind stored with good common sense, a retentive memory and a practical
mode of thinking. His flow of language as an extemporaneous speaker was
deficient, but at the desk he excelled, as formulated thoughts and correctly
molded ideas flowed as freely as could be readily written; and in whatever
position he was placed lie was found equal to any exigency which arose,
as his fund of information extended to all branches of national, constitutional
or international research.
Mr. HALL was a member of the convention which met in Philadelphia
in 1856, and gave the Republican party a national character by nominating
candidates for the presidency and vice presidency, and he presided at the
Republican convention held in North Bennington on the 16th of August of
the same year.
In 1858 he was elected by that party governor of the State, and
re-elected the next year by a like large majority. In his first message,
after calling the attention of the Legislature to the local affairs of
the State and speaking in condemnation of the attempt by a decision of
the Supreme Court to legalize slavery in the Territories, he pronounced
the decision in the "bred Scott" case as "extra judicial, and as contrary
to the plain language of the constitution, to the facts of history and
to the dictates of common humanity:" and in his last message in 1859 he
announced his determination to retire from further public service. He,
however, acted as chairman of the delegation from Vermont to the fruitless
"Peace Congress," which on the call of Virginia met in Washington in February,
1861, on the eve of the rebellion. On the breaking out of the rebellion
in April, 1861, he felt it his duty to do all in his power to up hold the
unity and integrity of the government, and his tine, energies, and means
to a large extent were devoted to aid in crushing it out. His association
and intimate relations with such men as Webster, Clay, Adam, Giddings,
Stevens, and others, when the doctrine of nullification or disunion was
being advocated by Calhoun and his associates, that slavery and States
rights might be sustained and perpetuated, had prepared him for immediate
action, and his anxiety ceased only on the final surrender of Lee to Grant.
Mr. HALL always took a deep interest in the history connected with
the territory and State of Vermont. He delivered the first annual address
that was made before the Vermont Historical Society, and for six years,
from 1859, was its president, and was afterwards active in the preparation
of the materials for a number of the volumes of its collections, and otherwise
promoting its success. He read several papers at the meetings of the society,
some of which were published; among them one in 1869 in vindication of
Colonel Ethan ALLEN as the hero of Ticonderoga, in refutation of an attempt
made in the "Galaxy Magazine" to rob him of that honor. He has contributed
papers to the "New York Historical Magazine," to the Vermont Historical
Gazetteer," to the "Philadelphia Historical Record," and also to the "New
England Historic Genealogical Register." In 1860 he read before the New
York Historical Society a paper showing "why the early inhabitants of Vermont
disclaimed the jurisdiction of New York and established a separate government."
In 1868 his "Early History of Vermont," a work of over five hundred
pages, was published, in which is unanswerably shown the necessity of the
separation of the inhabitants from the government of New York; their justification
in the struggle they maintained in the establishment of their State independence,
and their valuable services in the cause of American liberty during the
Revolutionary War. In it the loyalty of all the important acts of the leaders
is so firmly established by documentary evidence, that he was confident
no aspersion could be maintained reflecting upon the patriotism of any
of the early heroes.
Governor Hall was prominent in forwarding the centennial celebration
of the battle of Bennington during the week of the 16th of August, 1877;
in securing for it the aid of the State Legislature, and in advancing its
successful accomplishment. He had a little before prepared a full and concise
description of the battle, with an account of its far-reaching consequence,
which was extensively published, and has also a place in the official record
of the celebration.
Being deeply interested in the erection of a suitable monument for
commemorating the battle of Bennington, he was sorrowfully surprised at
the report of the committee on design, of which Hon. E: J. PHELPS was chairman,
made in December, 1884, of an artistic structure about sixty feet high,
and in June, 1885, having reached the age of ninety, he addressed an open
letter of twelve printed pages to the Bennington Battle Monument Association,
giving his views of monuments and their form in relation to different historic
events, critically reviewing the design of the committee recommending the
small, low structure, and advised the erection of a tall, large, bold and
commanding shaft. The letter, written with the vigor of earlier years,
was extensively circulated and read, and as a result at the annual meeting
of the association the same year at Bennington, which was very largely
attended, the "report of the committee on design" was withdrawn, and it
was unanimously voted to erect a monument of magnitude and grandeur.
The honorary degree of L.L.D. was conferred on him by the University
of Vermont in 1859. He was a life member and vice-president for Vermont
of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, a member of the Long
Island Historical Society, an honorary member of the Buffalo and corresponding
member of the New York Historical Societies.
He married in 1818 Dolly Tuttle DAVIS, of Rockingham, Vt., who,
after over sixty years of happy and useful married life, died January 8,
1879, having been a consistent member of the Congregational Church in Bennington
about fifty years. Their golden wedding, with "no presents received," was
celebrated October 27, 1868. There were about three hundred present; of
the gentlemen forty-five were over sixty years old, and one, a former teacher
of his, aged eighty-five years. Mrs. HALL's parents, Henry DAVIS and Mary
TUTTLE, lived together sixty years lacking three days. He was at the battle
of Bunker Hill under Colonel Stark at the line of rail fence, and also
served at West Point at the time of Arnold's treasonable attempt to surrender
it to the enemy, being in the Revolutionary service over three years. At
a family reunion in North Bennington July 20, 1885, in honor of Mr. HALL,
at the residence of his granddaughter, on which day he was ninety years
of age, there were present fifty-one of his descendants, there being five
others who were detained from the interesting gathering. The difference
in the ages of the oldest and youngest was eighty-nine years and four months.
He had eight children, six sons and two daughters. Of the sons there are
now living, viz.: Henry D., of Bennington; Nathaniel B., of Jackson, Mich.;
and Charles, of Springfield, Mass. The deceased were, Eliza D., wife of
Adin THAYER, who died in 1843; Hiland H., in 1851; Laura V., wife of Trenor
W. PARK, in 1875; M. Carter, in 1881, and John V. in 1888.
Governor HALL died in Springfield, Mass, at the house of his son,
with whom he was spending the winter. December 18, 1885. Retiring on the
17th in usual health, he was heard in the morning to open the register
for more warmth, as was his custom, when a fall called the family to his
room. He was unable to rise, but gave directions for the care of himself,
living about two hours, the machinery of the body seemingly having worn
out, he being in his ninety first year. The funeral was in North Bennington,
the services being largely attended by the people of the vicinity, with
the county bar; also friends from Manchester and Rutland, and other parts
of the State were in attendance. Rev. Isaac JENNINGS, the pastor of the
First Church, officiated, and the casket was borne and lowered into the
grave by his remaining children, Henry D., Nathaniel B., John V., and Charles,
who had a few years before in like manner, gently laid away the loved form
of the wife and mother. The interment was at Bennington Center in the family
lot he had prepared years before, anal where his beloved wife and many
of his descendants are buried.
HAWKS, WILLIAM EDWARD, the son of Alvah and Julia Ann (PRATT) HAWKS,
was born in Bennington, on the 27th day of January, 1832; therefore he
is now just past his fifty-seventh anniversary of birth. His father and
mother were also natives of the town of Bennington, and on both sides his
ancestors have: been pioneers of the county. The father of our subject
was a farmer by occupation, and on the farm William was brought up at work
and attending school in season, until he attained his eighteenth year,
at which age he went to New York City and took a clerkship in the house
of Hunt Brothers, importers and jobbers of dry goods. With this firm young
HAWKS continued about four years, when they suspended business, whereupon
he entered the dry goods house of Richards & McHarg, in the capacity
of salesman, and with whom he remained from 1854 until 1857, when this
firm also was obliged to suspend.
Having now been some years in the city of New York, and having acquired
a pretty thorough knowledge of the business with which he had been connected,
and what was of equal value to him, having saved as much as possible of
his salary, Mr. HAWKS joined his accrued capital with that of Charles C.
HURD, and entered into active business life at 13 Park Place, as importers
and jobbers of hosiery and notions, under the firm name and style of HURD
& HAWKS, which business was continued with indifferent success until
1860, when the senior partner went out of the firm and our subject was
left to close out the stock as best he might.
In the year next preceding this, or in 1859, on the 2d day of February,
William E. HAWKS was married to Helen Elizabeth, daughter of Major Samuel
H. BROWN, of Bennington. Of this marriage five children were born, all
of whom are still living.
Again, in 1864, our subject ventured into business in New York,
this time as a dealer in ladies' and gentlemen's furnishings. This proved
far more profitable than his previous undertaking at the metropolis, and
his endeavors were rewarded with abundant success. And during the same
period, or from 1864 to 1870, Mr. HAWKS was engaged in other business enterprises,
and these, too, were fortunate and brought satisfactory returns. But in
1870, or about that time, the capitalists of the East were giving much
attention to Western investments, and our subject saw for himself that
these promised better returns than any Eastern enterprises offered at that
time; he therefore closed out his mercantile business in New York, and
"turned his face toward the setting sun," and there, in the main, has he
been interested from 1870 until the present time; but not to the prejudice
or neglect of his native town – Bennington -- for here has been his acknowledged
home notwithstanding the magnitude of his interests in other localities.
And he has been, and now is, largely interested in investments in Bennington
and elsewhere in its vicinity; he is director and stockholder in the Bennington
County National Bank, vice-president of the Bennington County Savings Bank,
the owner of a large amount of real and personal property in the county;
also, he was one of the chief advocates of the graded school enterprise,
and connected with the Monument Association in their most laudable undertaking.
Mr. HAWKS, too, is known to possess much public spiritedness and generosity,
and no worthy charity has ever appealed to him in vain.
But, turning for a moment to some of Mr. HAWKS's Western investments,
we find him, in 1872, one of the organizers and directors of the First
National Bank of Marseilles, Ill.; later he becomes president of the Marseilles
Water Power Company, and the largest stockholder of the concern; he was
also at one time vice-president of the Joliet Water Works Company; is president
of the Plymouth Rock Cattle Company, a corporation having a capital stock
of $250,000; also president of the Leadville Water Company, the capital
of which is $300,000; also president of the Soda Springs Land and Cattle
Company, capital stock $300,000. In each of these enterprises Mr. HAWKS
owns a very large and controlling share of the stock.
Such, then is a brief resume of the principal business operations
of William E. HAWKS. If it indicates anything it is that he is a remarkable
man in his capacity to grasp and successfully direct great enterprises.
In such undertakings, the detail of which would distract and paralyze the
powers of men less favorably constituted for such operations, Mr. HAWKS
has seemed to observe the end from the beginning. He looks over his ground,
forms his judgment with rapidity and almost unerring accuracy, and then
proceeds to the execution of his plans with the serene confidence that
all will end according to his expectation. And he is, as must be seen,
a very busy man; but his manifold interests never seem to worry him; in
all these his power has been found sufficient for any emergency, and his
time adequate for all requirements. And he has found time too, for other
duties than those confined to his business operations; indeed, to every
improvement that has promised to add to the welfare or beauty of his native
place he has given the same care and efficient attention that is bestowed
upon his own affairs. His personal connection with the Congregational Church
covers a period of twenty years, and this, and other religious institutions,
have received his sympathy and material aid. In short, he has not only
succeeded in erecting a business and financial fabric of large proportions.
but is in all respects the useful citizen, to whom the confidence and respect
of his townsmen are not the least appreciated of his rewards.
JOHN G. McCULLOUGH
McCULLOUGH, GENERAL JOHN G. The subject of this sketch was born
in Welsh Tract near Newark, in the State of Delaware. His ancestry is of
Scottish blood on the paternal, and of Welsh extraction on the maternal
side of the house. His early educational advantages were of a meager character,
but such as they were he diligently utilized them with considerable credit
to himself. His father died when John G. was only three, and his mother
when he was only seven years of age; but friends and relatives extended
kindly and considerate care to the youth, whose pluck, persistence and
unwearied industry placed him in command of the resources of a good education
before he had attained his legal majority. His scholastic career ended
in Delaware College. where he graduated with the first honors of his class
before he had reached his twentieth year.
Selecting the profession of law, Mr. MCCULLOUGH began to prepare
for its practice immediately after his graduation. Repairing to Philadelphia
he entered the law office of St. George Tucker Campbell, who for many years
was one of the brightest and most successful jury lawyers at the Philadelphia
bar. There he zealously prosecuted the necessary studies for the next three
years, and also attended the law school of the University of Pennsylvania.
From the latter institution he received the diploma of L.L.B., and was
also admitted to the bar of the Supreme Curt of Pennsylvania in 1859. Thus
thoroughly equipped for the contests of the courts the young lawyer found
himself apparently doomed to exclusion from them by the declining condition
of his health. Of naturally weak constitution he was now seized by a grave
pulmonary complaint, and was obliged to turn aside from the pleasing local
prospects before him. The preservation of life itself demanded speedy change
of climate and surroundings. Having tried and won by his maiden effort
the first and only case entrusted to his management in Philadelphia, he
sailed for California. The outlook was not promising. More dead than alive,
the probabilities of the health, fortune, and fame, of which he was in
eager quest, were neither numerous nor flattering.
When Mr. MCCULLOUGH landed in San Francisco he was unable to remain
there because of the severity of the winds. He at once went forward to
Sacramento. There he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of California.
But physical necessity was upon him, and he again moved onward to the foothills
of the Sierra Nevadas, in order to profit by the dry and exhilarating air
of the mountains. When the stage stopped at the end of its long route,
in Mariposa county, he disembarked, and stood face to face with all the
new and untried possibilities of the situation. This was in 1860. Opening
an office for the transaction of business, he rapidly acquired a full share
of legal practice. The fame of a patriot, rather than that of a legist
was, however, what awaited him in his new and unaccustomed home. Before
he had established any close and extended acquaintance with the people
he was unwittingly swept into the thickest of the forensic fight for the
preservation of the national union. The outer currents of the eddying war-storm
that had gathered over the Cotton States, and that threatened destruction
and death to all who stood in its pathway, made themselves felt in the
remote coasts of the Pacific. There in Southern California the Secessionist
from Alabama lived in close proximity to the Unionist from Vermont. It
was by no means certain that the State would not become the theater of
internecine war. The arrival of General Sumner on the scene was remarkably
opportune. By a coup d'etat he superseded Albert Sidney Johnston in command
of Fort Alcatraz, and thus frustrated the scheme of the Southern sympathizers
to separate California from the Union. He found a ready and efficient supporter
in the young MCCULLOUGH, whose heart was too hot, intellect too swift,
and eloquence too effective to permit him to be an inactive spectator of
passing occurrences. Stranger as he was, he ascended the stump, and from
that popular rostrum did splendid service for American nationality and
freedom. Although barely qualified according to local law, he received
the nomination for the General Assembly. A coalition of the Republicans
and Douglas Democrats triumphantly elected him, despite the efforts of
Secessionism, and sent him to Sacramento in 1561.
In the Legislature of California Mr. MCCULLOUGH so manfully and
successfully advocated the cause of the Union that in 1862 his constituents
returned him to the Senate. The Senatorial district was large, and composed
of many counties, and had for many years previously been under the control
of the Democrats. Senator MCCULLOUGH displayed such legal acumen and such
judicious vigor in shaping Legislation, that, notwithstanding the fewness
of his years and the recency of his citizenship, he was nominated in the
following year by the Republican State Convention for the office of attorney-general,
and was elected at the polls by an overwhelming majority. This office he
continued to hold for the next four years, in which he resided at Sacramento.
Much important litigation, in which the commonwealth was interested, thus
fell to his management, and was so skillfully and satisfactorily conducted
that he was again nominated by his party in 1867. But popular sentiment
had veered. In the election his name stood at the head of his ticket in
the reception of general favor, but nevertheless both himself and co-aspirants
failed of success.
After the close of his official career General MCCULLOUGH settled
in San Francisco, and there established a law firm, of which he was the
head. From the commencement of its operations, and throughout the more
than five years of his residence in that city he was a prominent member
of the bar, which included men of the keenest and most cultured intellect
from every State of the Union. His practice was highly remunerative, and
his reputation with court, counsel, and client that of a practitioner who
is scrupulously precise in statement and in action, and who is always governed
by the nicest sense of professional honor. In 1871 he visited the Eastern
States and Europe, and returned in company with a gifted and accomplished
lady, whom he had espoused in Vermont. The latter auspicious connection
was the controlling cause, aided by the fact that he had already acquired
an ample fortune, of his permanent removal to Vermont in 1873.
In the full prime of manhood, and endowed with a restless, energetic,
and self-controlled temperament, General MCCULLOUGH could not content himself
with the enjoyment of what he had so nobly and honorably won. Although
he has not again taken up exclusively legal labors, he has distinguished
himself in commercial, banking, and railroad affairs. For the past twelve
years he has been vice-president and manager, in great measure, of the
Panama Railroad Company. He is now the president and directing genius of
that corporation, having consented to hold such relation at the urgent
solicitation of M. De Lesseps and its French owners. He is chairman of
the board of directors of, the Erie Railway Company. He is also the president
of the First National Bank of North Bennington, president of the Bennington
and Rutland Railway Company, and a director of several banking and other
institutions in Vermont and New York. Belonging to the Bennington Battle
Monument Association, he was an active member of the committee charged
with the selection of a design for the fitting memorial of that celebrated
Politics, as an applied science, have never failed to enlist the
warmest sympathies of General MCCULLOUGH. Whether on the Pacific or the
Atlantic slope of the continent he has exhibited the liveliest interest
in all the public questions of the day. No political campaign since 1860
has passed away without having heard his voice, ringing out in no uncertain
tones, in advocacy of the principles and men that challenged his support.
Under ordinary conditions the better and more fruitful portion of life
is still before him. His beautiful home in Southern Vermont is the abode
of elegant and cordial hospitality, and the center whence radiate the manifold
energies which class him with the ablest and most influential citizens
of the Green Mountain State.
John Griffith MCCULLOUGH was married in 1871 to Eliza HALL, the
oldest daughter of Trenor W. PARK, and grand-daughter of ex-Governor Hiland
HALL. Four children, named Hall Park, Elizabeth Laura, Ella Sarah, and
Esther Morgan, are the fruit of their union.
PARK, TRENOR WILLIAM, the son of Luther and Cynthia (PRATT) PARK,
and the grandson of William PARK, was born in the town of Woodford, in
this county, on the 8th day of December, 1823.
When two or three years old Trenor W. PARK moved with his parents
to Bennington. There his meager educational advantages were utilized in
such irregular manner as the poverty of the family would allow. Pluck,
perseverance, and industry, however, enabled him to surmount all obstruction.
From 1830 to 1836 he was known as the bright, precocious, keen witted boy,
who peddled molasses candy to supply the necessities of the household.
He also performed such acts of service as he was capable of doing. Among
these he carried letters to and from the post-office at Bennington, which
was then located in what is now called Bennington Center. This penny postal
establishment between the present village of Bennington and that of Revolutionary
fame was among the earliest harbingers of cheap postal service.
When fifteen years of age Trenor W. PARK had prospered so much as
to be the proprietor of a small candy store on North street. But his aspirations
were to much higher ends than any associated with so humble a branch of
commerce. He resolved to become a lawyer. Entering at sixteen the law office
of A. P. LYMAN, he there studied for admission to the bar, and with such
success that he was received into the legal fraternity soon after the attainment
of his majority.
Beginning practice in the village of Bennington, he continued to
prosecute it with great success until the spring of 1852. He was also interested
in the lumber trade of that section of the State, and contributed largely
to its subsequent development. In controversy or argument his talents were
strikingly apparent. In the village lyceum he was one of the most conspicuous
figures, and judging from his success in later life, was doubtless one,
of its most able and brilliant debaters.
The appointment of Hon. Hiland HALL by President Fillmore in 1851
to the chairmanship of the United States Land Commission of California,
brought an entire change into the plans of Mr. PARK, who was the son-in-law
of Mr. HALL. The commission was constituted to settle Mexican land titles
in the new acquisition to the territorial domain of the country. In the
spring of 1852 Mr. PARK and his family migrated to the Pacific coast. Arrived
in San Francisco he commenced the practice of law, and displayed so much
ability in the successful management of his first case that he attracted
the attention of the law firm of Halleck, Peachy & Billings, which
firm he was soon thereafter invited to join, and did so, the style thereupon
becoming Halleck, Peachy, Billings & Park, the leading law firm of
Mr. PARK's professional practice at San Francisco was not unattended
by personal danger. Pistols were favorite arguments with disputants. But
he scoffed at pistols, and relied on principles and precedents. He was
counsel of Alvin Adams, of Boston, president of the Adams Express Company,
throughout the long and intricate litigation in which that company was
involved in California and Oregon. In the historic reform movement of 1855
he aided "James King of William" in establishing the San Francisco Bulletin.
When that daring reformer was assassinated in the street for sternly upholding
law and order, the memorable "Vigilance committee" sprang at once into
being, and assumed the local government. Mr. PARK was its attorney. Five
of the more prominent ruffians were hung. The worst of their companions
were deported to Australia.
In 1858 Mr. PARK visited Vermont. He was then the possessor of what
was justly regarded as a fortune. But this was unexpectedly diminished
in his absence by a commercial panic at San Francisco. Real estate greatly
depreciated in value. Yet although his available resources were suddenly
circumscribed, the ability and zeal to make the must of opportunities remained
intact. Not only was he a brilliant and successful lawyer, but he was no
less distinguished for judgment and skill in real estate operations. Politics
attracted his energies. He failed of election as United States senator
from California by a few votes only. Next he became associated with Colonel
John C. Fremont in the control of the celebrated Mariposa mine, and administered
the affairs of the Mariposa estate. Prosperous himself in all his undertakings,
he also made the fortunes of those who were connected with him in business.
In 1864 Mr. PARK retired from business and returned to Vermont:
Inaction was too wearisome for one of his temperament, and he soon emerged
into active life, and established the First National Bank of North Bennington,
built a fine residence, and connected himself with various business enterprises.
He also embarked in State politics, was elected to the Legislature, and
wielded great power in that body. One of the original corporators of the
Central Vermont Railroad Company at the reorganization of the Vermont Central
under that title, he furnished much of the capital required on that occasion.
Not all his railroad enterprises were as remunerative as he had expected.
The Lebanon Springs Railroad was one of these. Commencing its construction
in 1868, he hoped thereby to make Bennington an important railroad town,
and to place it on a through route from New York to Montreal, but almost
ruined his finances and also impaired his health in the undertaking. He
wished to supply the great want for transportation experienced by Southern
Vermont, but did not meet with fitting co-operation. Prior to this he had
purchased the Western Vermont Railroad. Works showed the sincerity which
his opponents have so freely and fully admitted.
In 1872 Mr. PARK was united with General Baxter in the ownership
of the celebrated Emma Mine, and while he managed it the payment of dividends
was regular. Positive, energetic, and accustomed to operate on a large
scale, he did not escape criticism and litigation. In the legal controversy
which sprang out of the Emma Mine he was the victor. His sagacity and legal
acumen were marvelous. After a jury trial of five months he was fully vindicated.
Neither trials nor claims were impending at the time of his decease,
nor did any stain rest upon his character. His administration of the Pacific
Mail Steamship Company, of which he was for years a director, was characterized
by his wonted shrewdness and force. He purchased a controlling interest
in the Panama Railroad, and was elected its president in 1874, and so continued
until his decease. As manager in connection with General J. G. McCullough,
he, through favor of circumstances, saw the value of its stock rise from
below par to three hundred cents on the dollar; at the rate it was sold
to the De Lesseps Canal Company. His was the dominant mind in the old Panama
corporation, and to him the felicitous close of its affairs were mainly
due. The transfer of its property and the accompanying negotiations were
only completed a few months before he sailed for Panama on the trip on
which he died.
Tremor W. PARK was warmly and deeply attached to the locality in
which the years of his youth arid early manhood had been passed. He was,
with E. J. PHELPS of Burlington, ex-Governor PRESCOTT, of New Hampshire,
and ex-Governor RICE, of Massachusetts, one of the committee on the design
of the Bennington Battle Monument, which is intended to perpetuate the
memory and preserve the spirit of Revolutionary patriotism. He was also
a liberal giver. When one of the trustees of the University of Vermont
he conceived the idea of donating the Gallery of Art which now bears his
name. Benefactions whose good was apparent in the improved health of hundreds
of poor New Yorkers (beneficiaries of the Tribune Fresh Air Fund) he delighted
in. To these he gave some months of delightful rural experience at Bennington.
The Bennington Free Library is also a splendid monument of his munificence.
His last and largest contemplated gift was that for the ample endowment
of a "Home" at Bennington. The "Park Home” for destitute children and women
is one of the most impressive memorials of the man. It reveals his heart.
It was intended by him to be monumental of his sainted wife. The Hunt property
north of the village was purchased, and the Home incorporated by act of
the Legislature of 1882, but soon thereafter Mr. PARK died. Since his death
the heirs, knowing his intense interest in the welfare of Vermont's soldiers,
have donated the property to the State where is now established the "Soldiers'
Paralysis seized him on the 13th of December, 1882, while a passenger
on board the Pacific mail steamer San Blas. His remarkable career closed
suddenly. In itself it is not only an illustration of the possibilities
of youth in this country, but also of the intrinsic value of shrewdness,
energy, and perseverance. Nurtured in poverty, he died in affluence. Reared
with scanty advantages, he died an able and astute legist, a general of
industry, a monarch of finance. Of course he had enemies. Such men necessarily
make opponents. But he also made and kept hosts of warm and devoted friends.
Short and slight of figure, head bent forward as if in deep thought, eyes
small and restless, manner nervous and restrained, chin and mouth strong
and firm, quick and decided in expression, a great reader and a powerful
thinker -- this modest and unobtrusive man was one whose memory neither
Vermont nor the world will permit to perish. His funeral took place from
the Collegiate Reformed Church, Fifth avenue and Forty eighth street, New
York, and was attended by many political, financial, and railroad dignitaries.
His remains repose in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Trenor W. PARK was married on the 15th of December, 1846 to Laura
V. H., daughter of ex-Governor Hiland HALL. Lovely and beloved, a woman
who through life showered sunshine on all around her, she died in June,
1875. Two daughters and one son survive their parents. One of the daughters
is the wife or General J. G. MCCULLOUGH, and the other of Frederick B.
JENNINGS, a prominent young lawyer of New York City. The son, Trenor L.
PARK, is also a resident of the city of New York. On the 30th of May, 1882
Mr. PARK was married to Ella F., daughter of A. C. NICHOLS, esq., of San
Francisco, Cal., who now survives him.
of Bennington County, Vt. with
and Biographical Sketches of Some
Prominent Men And Pioneers."
by Lewis Cass Aldrich,
& Co., Publishers, Syracuse, N. Y., 1889.
by Karima, 2004
provided by Ray Brown.