Chicago Beers (J.H.) & Co..

Commemorative biographical record of New Haven county, Connecticut, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and of many of the early settled families .. (Volume 1, pt.3) online

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of Almon O. Wilcox and Ruth (Kennedy). (2)
Harriet Lucretia, born Feb. 24, 1859.

LEMUEL J. CURTIS. In the death, on Jan!
TO, 1888, of Lemuel J. Curtis, there passed awav
not only one of the wealthiest men of Meriden, but
one of her noblest citizens, a good man, a philan-
thropist.

Mr. Curtis was born Jan. 15, 1814, in Meriden,
son of Elisha Curtis, and was a descendant of John
Curtis, who came from England and was one among
the first settlers at Stratford, Conn., in 1639.
Thomas Curtis, a son of John, was one of the
original settlers in Wallingford, Conn., in 1670.

Lemuel J. Curtis when sixteen years of age be-
gan to earn his own living by learning the britannia
business from Ira Yale, of Wallingford, and he was
so successful that he finally bought Mr. Yale out.
Before he was twenty-five he went west with the
late Isaac C. Lewis, intending to go into business
there, but gave up the idea and rertumed to Meri-
den, beginning the making of britannia ware. He
was associated at various times with Edwin Curtis,
W. W. Lyman and others. He was one of the
heavy stockholders of the Meriden Britannia Co.,
and always took a particular interest in that concern.
He was president of the ?kliller Brothers' Co., and
either a director or stockholder in about every in-
corporated concern in Meriden. He amassed a for-
tune of probably a million dollars, acquired by un-
tiring industry, careful investments and economical
though not parsimonious living.

Mr. Curtis was senior warden of St. Andrew's
Episcopal Church of IMeriden and one of its stanch-



864



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



est supporters. He was the founder of the Curtis
Home for Aged and Indigent Women, and that
most worthy establishment will stand as a fitting
monument to Mr. Curtis' strong Christian character.
He was deeply interested in the Home, personally
looking after many details of the management. Be-
sides the building, which cost $50,000, he endowed
the institution with about $750,000, and this gift of
three-quarters of a million showed the sincerity
of his desire to do something for the benefit of Meri-
den and the honor of the church to which he was so
devoted. He was thoroughly reliable as a man and
citizen in every way, and his acts of charity were
none the less because not heralded. He was a true
friend and an upright man in all respects, and his
death was a great loss to the city, which he helped
materially to build up.

On Dec. 24, 1835, Mr. Curtis was married to
Bedotha P. Button, and to them were born two chil-
dren.

Mr. Curtis' pastor, the Rev. A. T. Randall, thus
wrote of his life: "In the midst of a sore affliction,
which weighs heavily upon me in a personal as well
as an official capacity, I have been asked by the
editor of the Journal to write a few words concern-
ing Mr. Lemuel J. Curtis, who last evening was so
suddenly called to his rest in Paradise. As a citizen
of unimpeachable integrity and uprightness he stood
in the highest rank. Few men in all the relations
of life were so alive to the dictates of conscience.
Advantage, policy, gain and affection were unhesi-
tatingly set aside at the bidding of conscience, and
no sacrifice was deemed too great when demanded
by this guiding power of his life. He has thus been
a model of integrity to all with whom he has been
thrown in contact, and especially to those with whom
he had business relations. A man who had known
Mr. Curtis intimately for nearly forty years once
said in my hearing, 'Whatever Lemuel J. Curtis at-
tempts to accomplish, his first thought is to do
right.'

"Such a characteristic cannot in these days be
too highly eulogized. But it is especially my duty
and pleasure to speak well of Air. Curtis as a relig-
ious man. For forty-five years he has been a faith-
ful and regular communicant at St. .Andrew's
Church, and for more than half this long period he
has been honored with the office of warden of the
parish. It was only during the last year of his life,
when he felt his infirmities growing upon him, that
inclement weather could keep him from his accus-
tomed seat in the House of God. He was always
alive to every need of the church he so loved.
Whenever he realized that the need was pressing,
when there was a special offering at the church for
religious or charitable purposes, and he through ne-
cessity was absent, it was his invariable custom to
forward his offering to the writer within the ne.xt
twenty-four hours. Such a habit is only formed
under the conviction that a stated portion of a man's
' wealth must be given back to God, and this convic-



tion was the source of a generosity too modest and
unassuming to be fully appreciated.

"Besides founding the only charitable institution
of which Aleriden can boast, Mr. Curtis was not un-
mindful of the smaller charities, and on his last
Christmas eve he left many a substantial gift at the
doors of those who were in affliction and distress.

"He was an exceptional example of that charac-
ter which is animated by the spirit of a pure and
undffiled religion before God and the Father, and
whose habit it is to visit the fatherless and widows
in their affliction, and keep himself unspotted from
the world."

JAMES WARD BEECHER PORTER, now
living retired, is looked upon as one of the most
worthy citizens of Watcrbury, of which city he is a
native, having been born there June 12, 1853.

James Porter, father of our subject, was born
in Waterbury March 26, 1818, a son of Elias Por-
ter, also of Waterbury nativity. James Porter has
been a lifelong resident of the city, where for years
he was a "caster" in several of the brass rolling
mills, but he is now living retired. He married
Sophia Beecher, who also is yet living, and five chil-
dren were born to them : Emily is the wife of James
Elliott, of Elmira, N. Y. ; Sarah lives in Waterbury;
our subject comes next in the order of birch ; Fannie
and Mary (twins) are unmarried.

James Ward Beecher Porter received his educa-
tion at the common schools and high school of
Waterbury, and at the age of fifteen years entered
the hook and eye shops in order to learn the brass-
molding trade. With the then proprietors he
worked about one and one-half years, or until the
shops were purchased by Barnard, Son & Co., and
he continued with the new firm several months. He
then went to the Scovill Manufacturing Co., and
was in their employ from 1871 to 1898, a period of
twenty-seven years, for a long time having the en-
tire contract of the casting department. He is now
living retired, having by honest labor and persever-
ance amassed a comfortable competence.

On Jan. 18, 1876, Mr. Porter married Elizabeth
Collins, who was born in Cambridge, .Mass., daugh-
ter of John Collins, also of Massachusetts birth, and
six children have been born to them, as follows :
John B., Oct. 28, 1876: Fannie E., July 9, 1878:
Nellie F., ?klarch 25, 1880: James W., June 16,
1881 ; Bessie S.. .\ug. 11, 1882 (died in infancy):
Harry C, March 13, 1885. The family attend the
services of Trinity Episcopal church. Mr. Porter is
a Republican in politics. He is very prominent in
fraternal circles as a member of several secret soci-
eties, and his Masonic record is as follows : En-
tered -Apprentice, .\pril 21, A. D. 1892, \. L. 5892:
passed to the degree of Fellow Craft, .\pril 28, A.
D. 1892, A. L. 5892; raised to the Sublime Degree
of a Master Mason, June 2, A. D. 1892, A. L. 5892 ;
installed Worshipful Master, Dec. 6, 1894; Har-
mony Lodge, No. 42, F. & A. M., Waterbury, Conn.





-^ rs G-^i^



■> -■ .1



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



865



Received the Degree of Mark Master, Sept. 28,
i8;)J; Past Master, Oct. 12, 1892; M. E. .Master,
Nov. '9. 1892; Royal Arch ^[ason. Xov. 23, 1892;
iuireka' Chapter, No. 22, R. A. M.. Waterbury. Ad-
mitted to the Rewards and Honors of a Royal Mas-
ter. Jan. 19, 1893; Select Master. Jan. 19, 1893; Su-
f>cr E. Master, March 15. 1S93 : Waterbury Council,
No. 21, R. & S. ^I., Waterbury. ^^'as constituted and
created a member of The Illustrious Carder of the
Red Cross, Sept. 5, .\. D. 1894: constituted, created
and dul)bcd a Kni_2;ht Temi^lar. Oct. 3. A. D. 1894;
and finally constituted a Knight of .Malta, Xov. 7,
A. D. 1894: installed Eminent Commander, Feb. i.
1899; Clark Commandery, Xo. 7, K. T., Waterbury.
C(.nstituted Noble of the Mystic Shrine in Pyramid
Temple of Bridgeport, X^ov. 26. 1894. Received the
degrees of tlie Lodge of Perfection, from the 4th-
14th inclusive, in E. G. Storer Lodge of Perfection,
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. January, 1895.
New Haven, Conn.; received the degrees 15th and
i6th, in Elm City Council. Princes of Jerusalem,
Feb. 14, 1895, Xew Haven ; received the degrees,
17th and i8th, in Xew Haven Chapter, Rose Croix.
Veh. 14, 1895, Xew Haven : dimitted from the above
Scottish Rite bodies to become a charter member of
Tlie l>3ric Lodge of Perfection : the Ionic Council,
Princes of Jerusalem (Past M. E. Sov. P. Gr. Mas-
ter); and Corinthian Chapter, Rose Croix, all in
Waterbury. Received the degrees, I9th-32d, in-
chusive, April 26, 1895, '1 Lafayette Consistory, S.
P. R. S., of Bridgeport, Conn. Mr. Porter is also
a member of Xosahogan Lodge, Xo. 21, I. O. O. F. ;
Speedwell Lodge, Xo. 10, K. of P. ; Tunxis Tribe,
No. 10, I. O. R. AI. ; and of the Connecticut Society
of the Sons of the American Revolution, which lat-
ter he joined Feb. 8, 1897.

ROBERT ROBSOX WOOD, who passed from
earth Aug. 20, 1890, was for many years a resident
of Ansonia, and by his excellent qualities of char-
acter won in a high degree the esteem and respect
of his fellow citizens. His life, which extended be-
yond the allotted limit of man's years, was free from
ambitious strivings for public notice, yet in its quiet
usefulness it made an impression upon the commun-
ity which will remain as an inspiration toward right
doing among all who knew him.

Mr. Wood was born April 4, 1816, in Littl.;-
boro, Lancashire, England, son of James and Isa-
bella Wood. James Wood was for some years su-
perintendent of a cloth factory at Littlelx)ro, and
came to .America in 1828. to take a similar position
in a mill at Amesbury, Mass.. where he died in
1832. His wife died July 7, 1822. This worthy
couple had three sons and one daughter : the last
named, Mrs. Joshua Miriam, of Ashburnham,
Mass., was the last surviving member of the fam-
ily, and died in March. 1883. Of the sons, Lineus,
wlio died in 1863 in Xew Bedford, Mass.. was a
prominent Mason, holding the rank of Sir Knight.
Pliny, formerlv a Methodist minister of Cam-
55



bridge, Mass., and at one time chaplain of the
State Senate, died in 1876 in Munich, having been
sent to the Vienna Exposition by his State.

.\s a boy our subject became thoroughly famil-
iar with all branches of the cloth manufacturer's
art, and before leavin.g England was engaged as a
flannel finisher for' the Amesbury Mills. On May
12, 1828, he arrived in this country, landing in Bos-
ton, and although a mere boy he proved so compe-
tent in his work that he was appointed in 1832 to
act as superintendent of the mills during the remain-
der of the year of his father's decease. Later he was
employed in .A.ndover, Lowell and Taunton, and on
April I, 1839. he removed to Derby. Conn., having
been engaged by Plumb & Beach, cloth manufactur-
ers, whose mill was located opposite the old Somers
building, in Main street. Birmingham. The writ-
ten contract, which was for the term of two years,
is now in the possession of the family. For seven-
teen years he remained in that locality, and at one
time he was connected with the wire drawing busi-
ness conducted by the Howe Pin Co.. at Birming-
ham. In 1848 he went to .Ansonia with D. W.
Plumb, and in 1855 he became superintendent of
the mills of Wallace & Sons, then newly organized.
During the thirty-three years which he spent with
them he had the satisfaction of seeing constant
growth and development in the business, in which-
his advice and masterly management were of rec-
ognized value. It was during the memorable bliz-
zard week of March. 1888. that he first found his
health impaired, and from that time he took no act-
ive part in business affairs. -\n attack of th.e grip-
in the following winter left him very feeble, and i
brief illness in August terminated his life. . .\fter a
last visit to the mill he remained at home, r-alizing
that the end was near, and some of his brethren of
the I. O. O. F. were, at his request, constantly at
his bedside during his last days.

In politics Mr. Wood was a Republican, and al-
though he never sought public office his keen inter-
est in local affairs was shown in manv wavs. To
all progressive movements he gave liberally, ac-
cording to his judgment, and for manv years he at-
tended the Episcopal Church at .Ansonia. Public
affairs had not for him an absorbing interest, how-
ever, coming second to the cares of his business
and the welfare of the workingmen under his con-
trol, over 600 in number during the last years of
his stav. His manner was kind, and his cheery
"Good morning, young man." was like a ray of
simshine. In 1877. in his sixtv-first vear. he and
his wife went to Europe, visiting all the cities of
note, and making a pleasant stay at his birthplace,
where among other old acriuaintances he found the
man who had taken his father's old position in the
mills half a century before.

On June 20. 1847. ^f^. Wood was married in
Birmingham to .Miss Elizabeth Wallace, a native of
Manchester. Englanrl, and a daughter of the late
Thomas Wallace. She passed away Feb. 19. 1900,.



866



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



at the age of seventy-seven, while residing with her
son, Thomas J. Wood, in the home huilt hy our sub-
ject. Of two other sons, John \V. died in Ansonia
in 1898, aged forty-three years ; and W. R. died a
number of years ago.

Mr. Wood's funeral was largely attended, his
great popularity bringing crowds of people to
watch the solemn procession through Alain street,
from his residence on North Cliff street. Wallace
& Sons had ordered their mills closed for the entire
day in memory of his long and faithful services.
The workmen, many of whom had known him for a
score of years, assembled at the Episcopal Church
to pay their last tribute of respect to one who had
always been their friend and benefactor, and there
was many a moist eye among them as the hearse
bore the remains to their last resting-place. Xau-
gatuck Lodge, No. 53, I. O. O. F., marched in a
body in the procession, accompanied by the grand
officers of the State and ten members of the Veteran
Odd Fellows Association, of which INIr. Wood was
vice-president ; among the floral tributes was a cross
four feet in height given by the Veterans Associa-
tion. The pall-bearers were chosen from Nauga-
tuck Lodge and Ousatonic Lodge, of Birmingham.
Rev. Mr. Woodcock, rector of the Episcopal
Cliurch, read prayers at the house and the funeral
:services at the church, and the procession then went :
io Birmingham, where the remains were interred. [
At the grave the ritual of the L O. O. F. was read j
'by John Naukervis, N. G. of Naugatuck Lodge, as- j
sisted by G. E. Church, Chaplain, and Grand Mas- |
ter F. S. Hunt made a short address in which he
'eulogized the deceased, telling of his work in the
society and his standing as a citizen. In this con-
nection it is appropriate to review Mr. Wood's long
service in the L O. O. F., as he was one of the old- j
est and most prominent members of the Order in |
this State. For nearly half a century he had been j
an earnest worker in the society, and was looked up
to as the pillar around which they grew, and at the
yearly meeting. of the Veterans' Association he was
always present. At the time of his residence in
Derby he was the oldest Odd Fellow there, and he
was instrumental in founding Ousatonic Lodge,
No. 6, of Birmingham, of which he remained a
member until the organization of Naugatuck lodge,
of Ansonia, in 1849. In 1841 there were five lodges
in Connecticut, and Mr. W^ood, in order to re-or-
ganize the local lodge, became a member of Ouin-
nipiac Lodge, New Haven. The curiosity caused
by the local establishment was so great that the
trunk containing the paraphernalia had to be hid-
den in the cellar over night. Air. Wood successively
passed all the chairs, and became past noble grand.
He was a conservative Odd Fellow, and proved a
capable and efficient officer, discharging the duties
' devolving upon him with care and skill, and ruling
with a tact that avoided all signs of unjust discrim-
ination.

Thom.\s j. Wood, the only surviving son of our



subject, was born June 8, 1848, in Ansonia, soon
after the place was given its name. His education
was secured in the common schools of the Jity and
at Cheshire Academy, and at the age of sixteen he
entered Wallace & Sons mills, and gained a practi-
cal knowledge of the business under his father's
direction. He was pipmoted at the latter's death to
the position of superintendent, which he has since
held — although the firm of Wallace & Sons has
been superseded by the Coe Brass Mfg. Co. — mak-
ing about thirty-five years of continuous service
with the establishment. He is a stanch Repiibiicav;
and is prominent in municipal affairs, having been
a member of the board of burgesses and alderman
from the First ward during the first two years of
city government. During his term he served as
chairman of the Police committee and the commit-
tee on Claims, and his work was characterized by
ability and rare fidelity. He has also been active in
military aft'airs. serving five years as a member of
Company H, 2d C. N. G., in which he was promoted
first to the post of orderly sergeant and then to tiiat
of second lieutenant, with which rank he was dis-
charged. He is a charter member ol the local
Board of Trade, and of the Eagle Hook and Lad-
der Company of Ansonia, of which he was foreman
and treasurer for some years. Mr. Wood attends
the Episcopal Church, and socially is identified with
various organizations, including the F. & A. M.,
George Washington Lodge, No. 83 ; the Ansonia
Club, of which he is a charter member; and the I.
O. O. F.. Naugatuck Lodge.

In March, 1869, Air. Wood was married to
Aliss Marie C. Clemens, daughter of A. B. and
Catherine (Girard) Clemens, the former a prom-
inent retired citizen of Ansonia, and a well-known
expert in machinery, for many years the superin-
tendent of the Farrell Foundry. Mrs. Wood is a
member of the D. A. R., being of Revolutionary de-
scent through her mother, wdio was a Girard. The
only son of this union, Robert A. Wood, learned
the brass business with his father, and is now fore-
man of several departments with the Afanhattan
Brass Co., of New York, where he resides. He
married Aliss Eva A'l. Perkins, of Ansonia, and
they have two children : Robert Thomas, born
Nov. 14, 1899; and Ethel Alay, born Alay 10, 1901.

GIDEON LUCIAN PL ATT, AI. D., late of
Waterbury, where for fifty-three years he was act-
ivelv engaged in the practice of medicine, was one
of the citv's useful and prominent citizens. He de-
scended from an ancestry among the oldest and
most prominent of Connecticut.

Richard Piatt, the progenitor of many of the
Platts of New England, came to this countrv in
1638. landing at New Haven. He was enrolled
among the first settlers of Alilford, Nov. 20, 1639,
having four in family. In August, 1889, at the in-
teresting and noteworthy commemoration of the
settlement of Alilford two hundred and fifty years



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



867



licfore, the name of Richard Piatt was mentioned
witli honor, and amou": the coping stones of the
licnutiftil memorial bridge erected over the Wapa-
waii" to perpetuate the memory of the early settlers
was one placed with this inscription :

DEACON

RICHARD PLATT,

OBIT 1684.
MARY HIS WIFE.

Dr. Piatt was a descendant in the sixth genera-
tion from Richard Piatt, of Milford, the line of his
descent being through Lieut. Joseph Piatt and tb.rce
consecutive Gideon Platts, our subject being fifth
in the line bearing the name of Gideon.

Gideon Piatt (2), son of Gideon Piatt, married
March 17, 1783, Hannah Clark, daughter of Joseph
Clark, all of Milford, Conn., and their children were
Gideon, Joseph and }»Ierrit.

Gideon Piatt (3), son of Gideon (2), and the
father of the subject of this sketch, was born Dec.
19, 1784, and married Nov. 8, 1807, Lydia Sperry,
daughter of Capt. Jacob Sperry. They became
residents of Middlebury, Conn. Mr. Piatt was a
deacon, as was his father before him, in the Congre-
gational Church of Milford, where they were highly
respected and esteemed citizens.

Dr. Gideon Lucian Piatt, son of Gideon (3),
was born July 20, 1813, in the (what is now) town
of Miildlebury, Conn., and in addition to attending
the schools of the town he was a pupil in the cele-
brated classical school of Simeon Hart, of Farm-
ington. Conn. He was prepared for the medical
profession under the direction of Dr. Henry Bron-
son, of Waterbury, and under Dr. William TuUy,
then of New Haven, and a professor in the Yale
Medical School, where young Piatt pursued a regu-
lar course of study and received the degree of AI. D.
in 1838. He immediately established himself in pro-
fessional work at Waterbury, where he continued
same with success and rare usefulness for over fifty
years. Soon after settling in Waterbury he became
associated in the practice with his former preceptor.
Dr. Bronson, which partnership continued until Dr.
Bronson's removal to New Haven, in 1842. In
1849 Dr. Piatt bought what is known as the Apothe-
caries' Hall property, of Benedict & Coe. and along
with Dr. Fish opened a drug store which since 1852
has borne the name of Apothecaries' Hall. At one
time Dr. Piatt was associated with Dr. Philo G.
R'Kkwell. In 1880 he took into partnership with
jinn the late Walter Hamlin Holmes, who afterward
liecame his son-in-law, a partnership which lasted
until the death of Dr. Piatt. Dr. Piatt accumulated
consiflcrable real estate in Waterbury that later be-
came very valuable. He was president of the Xew
Haveu'County Medical Societv in 1880 and the fol-
lowing year president of the State Medical Society.
He wa^ an active member of the First Congrega-
tional Church of Waterburv, and became one '"of the
"icorporators of the Second Church there.



On Dec. 18, 1844, Dr. Piatt was married to
Caroline Tudor, a lineal descendant in the seventh
generation from Elder William Brewster, of the
Plymouth Colony, also of Owen Tudor, of Windsor,
Conn., and of Rev, Samuel and son, Dr. Elihu Tu-
dor, the eminent surgeon, who was one of the found-
ers of the Connecticut Medical Society. To this
marriage were bom four children : ( i ) Dr. Lucian
Tudor, born in 1846, received the degree of M, D.
from the University of Pennsylvania in 1869, On
Sept. 15, 1871, he married Rebecca Hurlbut, of
Winsted, Conn., and has one daughter, Aledora H.
(2) Mcdora Caroline is the widow of Dr. Walter
H. Holmes, (3) Dr. Walter Brewster, born Dec.
20, 1853, was graduated from Harvard Medical
College, and received the degree of F. R, C. S. at
the Royal College of Surgeons, London, England.
On Dec. 20, 1889. he married Mary Ferine, daugh-
ter of E. Glynn Ferine, of Baltimore, Md., and has
three sons, Washington, Lucian and David, ( 4)
Charles Easton died at the age of thirty-seven. The
mother of these died August 10, 1896. Dr. Gideon
L. Piatt died Nov. 11, 1889, and a writer in the
Waterbury American, who knew him well, said:

Dr. Piatt early in his professional lite attained a
high reputation both as a physician and surgeon, 'out it was
in the practice of his profession in that very close and
peculiar relation of a family physician, and which especially
exists in a country practice, that the strong points of his
character were most clearly seen and his highest usefulness
developed. In the modern style of city medical practice,
where each organ has its special expert, in which it is the
organ rather than the man of which the case and condition
are considered, that peculiar relation of the familv physician,
whose constant watchfulness continued from birth to death,
and included usually not only the relation of physician but
that of confidant, adviser and sympathetic counselor and
friend, is almost unknown. It may be that modern scientific •
pathology has rendered unnecessary that intimate knowledge
of heredity, predisposition and environment on which the



Online LibraryChicago Beers (J.H.) & Co.Commemorative biographical record of New Haven county, Connecticut, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and of many of the early settled families .. (Volume 1, pt.3) → online text (page 21 of 94)