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Encyclopedia of Connecticut biography, genealogical-memorial; representative citizens; (Volume 10) online

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Amer i_can_H i st.or _S p.c i e ty
May 2,, 1923.








Compiled with the Assistance of a

Capable Corps of Advisers and Contributors








R 1923 L


EACH one of us is "the heir of ah the
ages, in the foremost files of time."
We build upon the solid foundations
laid by the strenuous efforts of the fathers
who have gone before us. Nothing is
more fitting, and indeed more important,
than that we should familiarize ourselves
with their work and personality ; for it is
they who have lifted us up to the lofty
positions from which we are working out
our separate careers. "Lest we forget,"
it is important that we gather up the
fleeting memories of the past and give
them permanent record in well-chosen
words of biography, and in such repro-
duction of the long lost faces as modern
science makes possible.



^ -*


WILCOX, William Walter ( 3 rd),


With many worthy ancestors for ex-
ample, with a natural aptitude for busi-
ness, and with the advantages of being
reared in a good New England home, Mr.
Wilcox began life under very favorable
auspices. The family of Wilcox is of
Saxon origin, and was seated before the
Norman Conquest at Bury-St. Edmunds,
Suffolk county, England. Fifteen gener-
ations of this family prior to the year 1600
are mentioned in the "Visitation of the
County of Suffolk," going back to the
year 1200, when the name was estab-
lished as a surname and family title.
Many spellings are found in early records,
including Wilcocks, Wilcoxon and Will-
cox, used interchangeably.

(I) Among the early residents of Hart-
ford, Connecticut, was John Wilcox, who
served as selectman in 1640, was chosen
surveyor in 1643-44, and died in 1651.
His name appears on the monument
erected to the pioneers of Hartford in the
Center Church burying-ground. His wife
died about 1668.

(II) John (2) Wilcox, eldest child of
John (i) Wilcox, was born in England,
came to Hartford with his father, and was
one of the first proprietors in 1639. In
1655 he removed to Middletown Upper
Houses, now Cromwell, where he died,
May 24, 1676. He made extended pur-
chases of land there, having forfeited his
grant through failure to settle there as
early as 1653. Prior to November i, 1655,
he had built a house and he was active
in various departments of town manage-
ment. He -named for his fourth wife

Esther Cornwall, born in May, 1650, died
May 2, 1733, daughter of William and
Mary Cornwall, pioneers of Middletown,
Connecticut. By will of her father she
received a whole lot east of the river in
what is now Portland. She married
(second) John Stow of that town.

(III) Ephraim Wilcox, eldest child of
John (2) Wilcox, was born July 9, 1672,
in what is now Cromwell, removed to
East Middletown, now Portland, where he
died January 4, 1713. He married Au-
gust 23, 1698, Silence Hand, daughter of
Benjamin Hand, who removed from Guil-
ford to Middletown.

(IV) Janna Wilcox, eldest child of
Ephraim and Silence (Hand) Wilcox, was
born September 20, 1701, prior to the
removal of his parents to East Middle-
town. He married, April 29, 1725, Rachel
Boardman, born September 16, 1706, in
Wethersfield, Connecticut, daughter of
Samuel and Mehitable (Cadwell) Board-
man, who removed to Portland.

(V) Aaron Wilcox, third son of Janna
and Rachel (Boardman) Wilcox, was
born June 13, 1745, in East Middletown,
and died there March 6, 1820. He mar-
ried Sarah Bell, born February 19, 1745,
in Glastonbury, daughter of Isaac Bell,
and died October 18, 1813.

(VI) Asahel Wilcox, eldest child of
Aaron and Sarah (Bell) Wilcox, was born
May 9, 1771, in East Middletown, and
died before his father, October 31, 1817.
He married, October 2, 1791, Lucy Crit-
tenden, born in 1772, died October 25,
1811, daughter of Daniel (2) and Rhoda
(Tryon) Crittenden (see Crittenden VI).

(VII) William Walter Wilcox, young-
est child of Asahel and Lucy (Crittenden)


Wilcox, was born May 20, 1803, and lived
in Portland, Connecticut, where he died,
November 6, 1824, shortly after his mar-
riage. His wife, Mary Plum (Rand) Wil-
cox, born in 1804, survived him but a
short time, and died November 4, 1826.
(VIII) William Walter (2) Wilcox,
only child of William Walter (i) and
Mary Plum (Rand) Wilcox, was born
Alay 23, 1825 (after the death of his
father), and was many years one of the
most active and prominent citizens of
Middletown, Connecticut, where he died,
November 10, 1903. The public schools
supplied such education as he was priv-
ileged to receive and early in life he mani-
fested exceptional capability. Having ac-
cumulated a capital of $133.00 he estab-
lished what grew to be a great industry,
founded upon his inventions of ship
chandlery articles. Previous to the age of
six years he lived with his grandmother
and was then taken into the family of his
aunt, Mrs. Ira K. Penfield, of Portland.
Connecticut. His home there was in the
section of Chatham, now a part of Port-
land, known as Gildersleeve. About the
time of his majority he suffered a severe
attack of measles which impaired his
health and he went South, where he trav-
elled extensively in the interests of a New
York business house until 1847. Return-
ing to Middletown, he entered the employ
of Eldredge H. Penfield, who had just
patented a brass eyelet or grommet, and
had begun its manufacture with hand and
foot presses in a small room in Middle-
town. Mr. Wilcox's wages were five shil-
lings per day and when his employer went
out of business in 1849, ne was indebted
to Mr. Wilcox in the sum of $133.00.
Forming a partnership with his uncle, Ira
K. Penfield, under the business title of
Penfield & Wilcox, the business was con-
ducted with Mr. Wilcox as travelling
salesman until June I, 1849. He visited all

of the sail lofts along the coast from Nova
Scotia to Texas, where he demonstrated
the advantages of his manufactured goods
over those previously in use and soon
gave the business a great impetus.
Shortly afterward, Mr. Wilcox invented a
round edge sail thimble, made of malleable
iron, which came into general use through-
out maritime industry.

Mr. Wilcox was the first in this country
to introduce galvanized iron castings and
forgings in ship construction. In 1859,
after ten years of very successful business,
Mr. Wilcox sold his interests to his part-
ner and engaged in business on his own
account. He leased space with water
power at the south end of the city at a
cost of $75.00 per year and soon admitted
to partnership in his business Joseph
Hall, of Portland, with whom he con-
tinued some ten years, and then became
sole owner by purchase of his partner'>
interest. At this time Mr. Wilcox formed
a co-partnership with several gentlemen
of Middletown, under the firm name of
\Vilcox, Crittenden & Company, a title
which is now known throughout the mari-
time world. Many of the goods manu-
factured by his establishment are still in
use in the English navy. He made im-
provements on the original invention, re-
sulting in an entirely new grommet, which
was patented in 1884, a very great im-
provement on anything heretofore used.
Mr. Wilcox visited England, where he
succeeded in introducing it to the English
navy, and his establishment soon became
one of the largest in this line of business
in the United States. The plant at Mid-
dletown was operated by both steam and
water power and subsequently by elec-
tricity generated by those same powers.
Their goods are now used in all of the
great navies and find a ready market in
all harbors. In 1906 the establishment
received a charter from the State of Con-

fire NE\T YORK




necticut, and though its chief moving
spirit has passed away, the business con-
tinues to increase in volume. Mr. Wilcox
was variously active in local affairs ; he
was made a director of the Middletown
National Bank in 1883, served in both
branches of the city government ; and was
elected representative to the State Legis-
lature in 1877 and 1879. He was a regu-
lar attendant and liberal supporter of the
South Congregational Church, in which
Mrs. Wilcox has always been a prominent

Mr. Wilcox married, November 17,
1853, Elizabeth Shepard Crittenden, (see
Crittenden line), who was born March 5,
1835. in Portland, daughter of George and
Anne Eliza (Sellew) Crittenden, a de-
scendant of an old time family of that
section. (See Crittenden line).

(IX) William Walter Wilcox (3rd),
eldest child of \Villiam Walter (2) and
Elizabeth Shepard (Crittenden) Wilcox,
was born April n, 1862, in Middletown,
Connecticut, where he is now actively
engaged as the successor of his father in
a very extensive manufacturing industry.
He grew up in his native city, received
an excellent preliminary education, and
graduated from Williams College, B. A.,
in 1885. Immediately on leaving college,
he engaged in business under the training
of his honored father, and was prepared
upon the death of the latter to assume the
full responsibilities of president of the
Wilcox, Crittenden Company.

Mr. Wilcox has always been active in
furthering the best interests of his native
city and State, and is recognized as a
citizen of ability and worth. He is vice-
president of the Middletown National
Bank ; a director of the Farmers and Me-
chanics Savings Bank; and of the Con-
necticut Industrial School for Girls ; and
is secretary of the board of trustees of the
Connecticut Hospital for the Insane.

Though firm in his support of the political
principles expounded by the Republican
party, he steadfastly declined to be a can-
didate for any public office until 1918,
when he was elected representative to the
State Legislature. In the session of 1919
he served as chairman of the Committee
on Railroads. He is a member of the
Sons of the American Revolution, and of
numerous clubs, among them being:
University Club of New York City ;
Graduates' Club of New Haven ; Highland
Country Club ; and the Sigma Phi frater-
nity of Williams College. During the
World War he was active in many organ-
izations : Chairman of the Middlesex
County American National Red Cross
(with nineteen branches throughout the
county); vice-chairman of the Middlesex
County War Bureau; one of the public
speakers of the Connecticut "Four-Minute
Men ;" and member of the Connecticut
State Guard. With his family, he is iden-
tified with the South Congregational
Church of Middletown.

Mr. Wilcox married, in Hartford, No-
vember 3, 1886, Mary Elizabeth Root, of
that city, born August 23, 1865, only
daughter of G. Welles and Pauline S.
(Brooks) Root (see Root line). Mr. and
Mrs. Wilcox are the parents of three chil-
dren : i. Pauline Root, born August 3,
1891, now the wife of Julian B. Smith, of
Waterbury. 2. Elizabeth, born September
10, 1896; married, June 15, 1921, Phelps
Ingersoll, of St. Paul, Minnesota. 3. Wil-
liam \Valter (4), born December 27, 1901.

(The Crittenden Line).

Down through the generations the Crit-
tenden family has been connected by mar-
riage with many of the most prominent
pioneer families of the State, including
those of Kimberly, Bulkeley, Lord,
Chauncey, Robbins, Hamilton and Pyn-


(I) The founder of the Crittenden fam-
ily in America was Abraham Crittenden,
who came from Cranebrook, Kent, Eng-
land, and was one of the founders of the
Guilford Colony, of which he was made
a trustee, and secretary at the time of its
purchase in 1639. He was born about
1609-10, and died in January, 1683, at
Guilford, where he was often in public
office and a large landholder. His first
wife, Mary, who accompanied him from
England, died in 1661.

(II) Abraham (2) Crittenden, eldest
son of Abraham (i) and Mary Crittenden,
born about 1635, was a farmer in Guilford,
Connecticut, and died September 25, 1694.
He married. May 13, 1661, in New Haven,
Connecticut, Susannah, daughter of
Thomas and Jane Griegson ; she died Sep-
tember 8, 1712.

(III) Abraham (3) Crittenden, eldest
son of Abraham (2) and Susannah (Grieg-
son) Crittenden, was born March 8, 1662,
in Guilford, where he had a two-acre home
lot in 1716 and was assessed over 183.
He married, May 6. 1686, Susannah Kirby,
born March 8, 1664, in that part of Middle-
town which is now West Cromwell,
daughter of John and Elizabeth Kirby ;
she died in October, 1729, in Guilford.

(IV) Daniel Crittenden, son of Abra-
ham (3) and Susannah (Kirby) Critten-
den, was born May 27, 1696, in Guilford,
and became a physician of a somewhat
roving disposition. He lived successively
in New Haven, Middletown, and Milford,
Connecticut, and Edgartown, Massachu-
setts, where he died in 1751. He married
Patience Bradley, probably a daughter of
Benjamin and Elizabeth (Thompson)
Bradley, of New Haven, who died August
14, 1733, said to have been fifty-five years
of age, more probably forty-five.

(V) Dr. Hopesdale Crittenden, son of
Dr. Daniel and Patience (Bradley) Crit-
tenden, was a resident of New Haven in
1741, of Haddam in 1745, and later of Mid-

dletown, where his house is still standing.
He married Mary Wetmore Bacon, born
in 1719, daughter of Nathaniel and Han-
nah (Wetmore) Bacon. They were the
parents of fifteen children.

(VI) Daniel (2) Crittenden, second son
of Dr. Hopesdale and Mary Wetmore
(Bacon) Crittenden, born in 1744, was a
farmer living in what is now the town of
Portland, and died in 1824. He married
Rhoda Tryon, daughter of William and
Sarah (Goodrich) Tryon, born about 1746,
died in 1828, and their daughter, Lucy, be-
came the wife of Asahel Wilcox as prev-
iously noted.

(VII) David Crittenden, son of Daniel
(2) and Rhoda (Tryon) Crittenden, born
about 1778, lived in Portland, where he
died in 1859, and where his house is still
standing. He was a lieutenant in the
United States army in the War of 1812,
and served at the defense of New London.
He married, April 25, 1802, Elizabeth
Shepard, who was born July 10, 1781.
daughter of Lieutenant Daniel and Phebe
(Strickland) Shepard, died August 19,
1821. Lieutenant Daniel Shepard was a
soldier of the Revolutionary War.

(VIII) George Crittenden, eldest son
of David and Elizabeth (Shepard) Crit-
tenden, was born April 23, 1808, in Port-
land, where he was reared on the paternal
farm and began life in the immediate
vicinity of his birthplace, where he was a
farmer, and died September 20, 1852. He
married, November 12, 1832, in Glaston-
bury, Anne Eliza Sellew, who was born
March 7, 1806, in that town, daughter of
Thomas and Lucy Bulkeley (Lord) Sel-
lew, died May 10, 1891, at the home of her
son in Middletown (see Sellew line).
Their daughter, Elizabeth Shepard Crit-
tenden, married William Walter (2) Wil-
cox, as previously noted.

(The Sellew Line)

( I ) The Sellew family is of French origin,
and was founded by Philip Sellew (Salu,


Selu, and Seleu), a Huguenot. The pres-
ent form of the name gives little clue to
its original spelling. When a young man
Philip Sellew settled at Edgartown, on
Martha's Vineyard, and was a school-
master for a period of fifty years there and
at Hyannis, and died May 15, 1773. His
second wife, Abigail Martin (Martain),
was undoubtedly also of French origin.

(II) Captain John Leland Sellew, son
of Philip and Abigail (Martin) Sellew,
was born in 1717 in Edgartown, and mar-
ried there, September 20, 1739, Hannah
Hamilton, born there July 18, 1721,
daughter of James and Barsheba (Pease)

ail) Philip (2) Sellew, son of Captain
John and Hannah (Hamilton) Sellew,
born about 1740, at Edgartown, and set-
tled in Glastonbury, Connecticut. He was
probably a soldier of the Revolution, as
one of his name served in that struggle.
He married, in Glastonbury, April 2, 1767,
Elizabeth Kimberly Smith, daughter of
Jonathan and Mary (Kimberly) Smith, of
Suffield, and Wethersfield, respectively.

(IV) Thomas Sellew, second son of Philip
(2) and Elizabeth Kimberly (Smith)
Sellew, was born in 1/74. and lived in
Glastonbury, where he died in 1862. He
married, January i, 1800, Lucy Bulkeley
Lord, born about 1775, died in 1816.

(V) Anne Eliza Sellew, daughter of
Thomas and Lucy Bulkeley (Lord) Sel-
lew, was born March 7, 1806, and died in
1891 ; she became the wife of George Crit-
tenden, of Portland (see Crittenden line),
and the mother of Elizabeth Shepard Crit-
tenden, who became the wife of William
Walter (2) Wilcox (see Wilcox line).
She survives her husband and now resides
in Middletown, where she has long been
active in social life. She is a member of
the Huguenot Society and was formerly
regent of Wadsworth Chapter, Daughters
of the American Revolution ; and vice-

president for Connecticut of the Mary
Washington Memorial Association. She
is the mother of a son and daughter, the
latter, Mary Crittenden Wilcox, born Au-
gust 8, 1866, married, October I, 1890,
Heman Charles Whittlesey, Yale 1880,
now treasurer of the Wilcox, Crittenden

(The Root Dine).

Mrs. Mary E. (Root) Wilcox is a de-
scendant of one of the oldest Hartford,
Connecticut families of English origin and
was herself born in that city, where her
father was an active business man.

(I) The family of Root has been traced
to John Root, a resident of Badbey Parish,
Northamptonshire, England, who mar-
ried, about 1600, Ann Russell. He appears
to have been a resident of Farmington,
Connecticut, and is supposed to have re-
turned to England and died at Badbey.
The baptisms of four of his children are
recorded there.

(II) Thomas Root, eldest son of John
Root, was baptized January 16, 1605, in
Badbey, Northamptonshire. England, and
came to this country about 1637. He was
among the first settlers of Hartford, Con-
necticut, where he lived for about fifteen
years and where all his children were
born. His name appears on the Founders'
Monument there, and in 1639 he is called
a "considerable landholder." On May 9,
1654, he removed with his family to
Northampton, Massachusetts, and became
one of the eight planters of what was then
called Nonatuck, was selectman, a soldier
of the Pequot War, and is supposed to
have been a deacon of the church there.
P>y occupation he was a farmer, and also
a weaver of cloth. He died July 17, 1694,
and left a will in which he mentioned all
his children and the fact that he lived with
his son, Jonathan, at the old homestead.
His wife's nime is unknown.

(III) Thomas (2) Root, son of Thomas


(i) Root, was born about 1644, in Hart-
ford, Connecticut, and lived in Northamp-
ton until the death of his first wife, when
he removed to Boston, Massachusetts, and
subsequently to Lynn, and is described
as a husbandman in that town. He mar-
ried, July 3, 1666, Abigail Alvord, eldest
daughter of Alexander and Mary (Voar)
Alvord, born October 6, 1647, m Wind-
sor, Connecticut, died June 17, 1699, in

(IV) Deacon Thomas (3) Root, eld-
est child of Thomas (2) and Abigail (Al-
vord) Root, was born April u, 1667, in
Northampton, and in 1709 settled in Cov-
entry, Connecticut, where he was the first
town clerk, first deacon of the church, and
died November 3, 1758. He married,
March 4, 1691, Thankful Strong, daughter
of Jedediah and Freedom (Woodward)
Strong, born in Northampton, died in
1745, in Coventry.

(V) Ebenezer Root, second son of Dea-
con Thomas (3) and Thankful (Strong)
Root, born November 5, 1693, in North-
ampton, was in his sixteenth year when he
removed with his father to Coventry, and
there spent his life filling various civil
offices and gaining the esteem of his fel-
lows, and died January 30, 1760. He mar-
ried, May 19, 1718, Sarah Strong, daugh-
ter of Joseph and Sarah (Allen) Strong,
of Coventry, born in 1699, died, December
13. 1784-

(VI) Hon. Jesse Root, son of Ebenezer
and Sarah (Strong) Root, was born Jan-
uary 10, 1737, in Coventry, and died March
29, 1822, in Hartford. He was a gradu-
ate of Yale, and an eminent lawyer, lieu-
tenant of militia, captain of volunteers
during the Revolution, State's attorney,
assemblyman, congressman, judge of the
Superior Court, chief justice in 1789, presi-
dential elector in 1808, honored by Yale
with the degree of LL. D. and chosen to
deliver the address of welcome when Gen-

eral Washington visited Hartford. There
was concentrated in him all the strong
characteristics of his sires, and to his de-
scendants he bequeathed the same rich
legacy. He married, May 19, 1758, Mary
Banks, of Newark, New Jersey, born
about 1733, died December 5, 1813, in

(VII) Dr. James Banks Root, fifth son
of Hon. Jesse and Mary (Banks) Root,
was born May 20, 1770, and lived in
Athens, New York, where he died, Febru-
ary 25, 1813, at the age of forty-three
years. He married. June 8, 1797, Martha
Sargeaut, of Stockbridge, Massachusetts,
born 1773-17/4, died March 15, 1821.

(VIII) Erastus Sargeant Root, son of
Dr. James Banks and Martha (Sargeant)
Root, was born December 19, 1798, in
Burlington, Vermont, and lived at Mount
Morris, New York. He and his family
were identified with the Methodist Epis-
copal church. He married, April 7, 1822,
in Augusta, New York, Dorcas Welles, of
Winchester, Connecticut.

(IX) George Welles Root, second son
of Erastus Sargeant and Dorcas (Welles)
Root, born April 26, 1826, in Mount Mor-
ris, was for many years in business in
Hartford as a member of the firm of
Owen, Day & Root, dry goods commis-
sion merchants. He was a Congrega-
tionalist. He married, January 18, 1850,
Pauline S. Brooks, of Hartford. Their
youngest child, Mary Elizabeth Root,
born August 23, 1865, became the wife of
William Walter Wilcox, 3d. (see Wilcox

BACON, John Plum,

Undertaker, Public Official.

Among the oldest families of Middle-
town, Connecticut, is that of Bacon, and
many of its descendants are still found in
that town, pursuing worthily the various



industries which are important in the
community. This is probably a place
name, derived from the ancient seigniory
in Normandy, whence the ancestors re-
moved to England. The great Suffolk
family of Bacon was founded by one
Gremald or Grimaldus (a relative of the
great Norman chieftain, William de War-
renne), who came to England at the time
of the Conquest, and settled near Holt, in
Suffolk. His great-grandsons took the
place name of Bacon for a sirname. The
name is still in use in the North of France.
In 1082 William Bacon endowed the
Abbey of Holy Trinity at Caen. The Bat-
tle Rolls of England in the eleventh
century and the Hundred Rolls in the
thirteenth century bear the name, with
occasional variations in spelling, such as
Bacun and Bachun, and occasionally as
Beacon. Descendants of the family were
very early in Virginia. The original site
of the family was near Ipswich, in Suf-
folk, but prominent representatives have
been found in Durham, Hampshire, Nor-
folk, Somerset and Yorkshire. William
Bacon, born about 1608. lived in the par-
ish of Stretton, County of Rutland, Eng-
land, and had a numerous family.

(I) Nathaniel Bacon, son of William
Bacon (according to a doubtful tradition),
was born about 1630, and came to New
England when about nineteen years old
and settled first with his Uncle Andrew
Bacon, a deacon, at Hartford, Connecti-
cut. In the fall of 1650 he joined the com-
pany which founded Middletown and was
afterwards a leading and influential man,
a large landholder in that town. By the
will of his Uncle Andrew he received con-
siderable property. He married Anne,
daughter of Thomas Miller, Sr., and his
wife, Isabella, who came from Rowley,
Massachusetts, and settled in Middle-
town ; she died July 6, 1680.

(II) John Bacon, fourth son of Nathan-

iel Bacon, was born March 14, 1663, in
Middletown, where he made his home,
and where he died November 4, 1732. His
home was on his father's homestead, to
which he succeeded on the death of the
latter. He married, November 26, 1689,
Sarah Wetmore, or \Vhitmore, baptized
November 27, 1664, in Middletown,
daughter of Deacon Thomas and Sarah

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