J. L. (John L.) Rockey.

History of New Haven County, Connecticut online

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The following sketch of the Church of the Epiphany {Protestant
Episcopal) was contributed by Jervis Sommers:

For many years all the inhabitants held to the established church,
when some churchmen settled in the town before or soon after the
revolution. Among these were Doctor Anthony Burritt, on Southbury
Main street: Jonah Summers, a blacksmith, and Shadrach Osborn.the
merchant, in the same locality. "Out East" was Captain Bartholo-
mew, a churchman from France. After 1800 many dissented from the
established church, and the number of churchmen increased. At
Southford the family of John Peck strengthened the church feeling;
and the wife of Amos Candee devised some property to the First Epis-
copal church of the town about 1840. There being no such body, the
churchmen formed themselves into a church estate April 18th, 184:!,
at a meeting held in the brick school house, on Main street. Reverend
Abel Nichols presided, when a constitution was drawn up, which was
signed by the following: William Ward, Johnson Camp, A. Wildman,
Israel Bradley, Ambrose Ward, John Ward, Jeremiah Johnson, Adin
Johnson, Elisha Wheeler, Samuel Candee, William Johnson, Ephraim
E. Stiles, Nathan B. Stiles, Charles B. Hicock, Lemuel Ward. Samuel
Candee was elected clerk and treasurer; Adin Johnson and William
Ward, wardens; Elisha Wheeler, Israel Bradley and Charles B. Hicock,
vestrymen. The church was called the " Church of the Resurrec-
tion," but subsequently was changed to the " Epiphany." The parish
was the town of Southbury. Mr. Candee was clerk for twenty years,
and Adin Johnson warden during life.

The corner stone of the church, on the Shadrach Osborn lot, was
laid November 5th, 1863, and the church was consecrated by Bishop
Williams September 19th, 1867. Reverend Henry Townsend, of New
Haven, had charge of the parish in 1866, C. Collard Adams in 1867,
Clayton Edy from 1868 to 1S70, H. A. Welton from 1871 to 1873. Since
that time clerical services have been rendered by divinity students
from Berkeley School, Middletown. The church is an attractive stone
edifice, in the Gothic style of architecture, and stands on a beautifully
located lot. It has been but little used the past few years, owing to
the weakness of the parish, which has a few members only.

The Roman Catholic Mission of the Sacred Heart is in the Pom-
peraug valley, near the north line of the town. Catholic worship was
here introduced in 1862, when mass was first said by Father James
Bowen.atthe house of Francis Grant. At that time about a dozen
families attended, coming from all parts of the town. Thereafter mass
was quite regularly said, about once per month, by priests coming from
New Milford, Waterbury, Watertown and Naugatuck, each year wit-
nessing -an increase of membership. In 1884 there were about 40
families dependent upon this means of worship, and Father James
O'Brien, who came from New Milford, began the building of a church.
Dennis Hallahan donated a lot of land adjoining the White Oak school


house and near where had been built the first meeting house in the
town. Upon this a neat frame chapel was completed so that it was
used for mass Christmas day, 1884. The following May it was dedi-
cated by Bishop McMahon, and has since been used every fortnight.

After being a mission of the parish of New Milford several years
Southbury was connected with Watertown, and the past three years
Father James Lancaster of that parish has been the officiating priest.
In the spring of 1890 half an acre was added to the church lot for
•burial purposes, and the mission is steadily growing into a parish.

The town has half a dozen places of interment, embracing several
well kept cemeteries. The one at White Oak contains the graves of
many pioneers, has a number of fine monuments, and is in a neat
condition. A little more than a mile southwest is the second cemetery
of the Southbury society, whose location is a little more isolated but
it is not unattractive. The Pine Tree Cemetery, west of the present
Congregational church, is newer. It is spacious, well enclosed, and is
controlled by a cemetery association. The South Britain Cemetery is
centrally located, contains about four acres, and appears attractive.
More than a mile north, in Pierce Hollow, is a smaller graveyard; and
there are fine monuments in both of them. The Catholics have a
place of burial in connection with their church; and in other locali-
ties are small graveyards, now seldom used. There is also a fine place
of burial at Southford.

Among the citizens of the town who participated actively in the
wars of the country, in official capacity were Colonel Benjamin Hin-
man, Colonel Increase Mosely, Shadrach Osborn and Captain Elisha
Hinman. The latter removed about 1760, but during the revolution
he was in the naval service. Colonel Hinman was born 1720 and
died in March, 1810, about 90 years of age. He was in the French and
Indian wars in 1755, as a major, and in 1775 was commissioned colonel
of the Thirteenth Regiment of Connecticut troops, by Governor Jona-
than Trumbull. In the revolution he was colonel of the Fourth Regi-
ment and was at Ticonderoga. Ill health compelled him to retire and
return home in January, 1777. He was a leading man in the affairs
of the town.

Colonel Increase Mosely moved to Southbury in 1768 and died here
in 1810, aged 70 years. He obtained his rank from the colonelcy of
the Thirteenth Regiment after Colonel Hinman entered the conti-
nental service, but also served the patriot cause. Shadrach Osborn, a
son of Timothy, was born in 1747. He also marched to Ticonderoga
as a commissary and was soon appointed as quartermaster. While
acting in that capacity, he stored provisions in Southbury at "Pork'
Hollow " and along the Pomperaug, after the burning of Danbury.
It is said that in 1778 George Washington paid a visit to the town and
was his guest. His home was on the lot now occupied by the Episco-


pal church, on Southbury street, where he lived until his death in
August, 1838, in the 91st year of his age.

In the war for the suppression of the rebellion, 1861-5, Southbury
was keenly alive to her duty and responded promptly to every de-
mand made upon her. More than forty men were supplied, filling the
required quotas, and the total war expenses in money were about
$12,000. For bounties to volunteers and pay for substitutes about
$S,050 was expended.


William C. Beecher, born in Southbury May 28th, 1828, is a son of
Nathaniel and Hannah (Peck) Beecher, and grandson of Nathaniel.
Nathaniel and Hannah had two children : Elizabeth and William C.
Elizabeth married Horace C. Baldwin. William C. married Mary E.
Strong, of Woodbury, April 4th, 1855. They have six children : Wil-
liam S., born 1856, married Harriet Beers ; Mary E., 1860 ; Henry W.,
1862 ; Harriett L., 1866, married Homer A. Jones ; Seth N., 1867 ; and
Horace B., born 1870. Mrs. Beecher died July 28th, 1884. One son,
William S., died in 1888. Mr. Beecher enlisted in 1862, in Company
B, 13th Connecticut Regiment, as second lieutenant, helping to recruit
this company, he being the only commissioned officer from Southbury.
He served under General Butler, participating in the taking of New
Orleans, and afterward under General Banks. He was discharged on
account of ill health February 5th, 1863, and returned to Southbury.
After regaining his health, he was engaged in superintending railroad
-construction, his first work being on the Hartford, Providence &
Fishkill road. Twelve years later he assisted in the completion of the
same line under the name of the New York & New England railroad.
He also assisted in building the Connecticut Valley, Providence &
Springfield and the D. L. & W. railroads.

Almon B. Downs, born in Southbury in 1824, is a son of Erastus
and Betsey (Burr) Downs, grandson of Wait and Phebe (Hinman)
Downs, and great-grandson °f Moses, a descendant of Deacon Eben-
ezer Downs, who was one of the first settlers of Southbury. He set-
tled in South Britain, was one of the first deacons of the South Britain
Congregational society, organized in 1769, and served as captain in the
revolutionary war. He died in 1790. Erastus had five children :
Fanny, Celina, Almon B., Julia E. and Henry W. Almon B. Downs
was in the legislature in 1S58 and 1862.

David M. Mitchell, born in Southbury in 1842, is a son of Elizur,
grandson of Benjamin, and great-grandson of Eleazer, who was the
first one of the name that settled in Southbury, where he was a large
land holder. He came to this town when it was a wilderness, and had
no neighbors but the Indians. He was called Deacon Eleazer. He
was one of the founders of the South Britain society. He was born
November 27th, 1732, and was the youngest of a family of 13 children.


His son, Benjamin, was born in 1777, married Hannah Pierce, and had
five children. Elizur, his son, was born in 1S04, married Cornelia
Mary Ann Merwin, and had eight children. David M. is the only one
now living in Southbury. One son, Lawrence Mitchell, lives in Fair-
field county, Conn. David M. was educated at the common schools of
the town and at Hinman's Academy, of Oxford. He married Hattie
I. Lemmons, of Woodbury, in 1869. They have three children : Ben-
jamin M., born 1870 ; John L., born 1873 ; and Lottie C, born 1878.

George W. Mitchell, born in South Britain, Conn., 1846, is a son of
Amos and grandson of Benjamin Mitchell. He mother was Thalia
M. Painter. Amos had three sons and two daughters, George W.
being the third child. The Mitchell family is one of the pioneer
families of Southbury. George W. married Julia E., daughter of
Sidney S. Piatt, of Southbury, in 1872. They have three children:
Abbie E., born in 1874; Susan W., born in 1877, and Hubert A., born
in 1881. Mr. Mitchell is interested in real estate in Kansas, and is
president of the Goodrich Cattle Company of Kansas. He is a re-
publican in politics and represented this town in the legislature in
1SS7 and 1888.

Ezra Pierce was born in 1842. The first of the name to settle
in this town: was John, who came from England. He had a son,
John, who settled in South Britain in Pierce Hollow, and had
nine children, of whom Joseph had a son, Benjamin, who had two
sons, Sterling and Edwin. Edwin married Nancy Mallory, of South-
bury, and had four children : Susan, Lucius, Ezra and Charles
B. Susan married John Bryan, of Waterbury; Lucius died in 1889;
Ezra married Matilda Gates, of St. Johnsbury, Vt, in 1877. He has
always been a farmer. He was elected to the legislature in 1S72, and
was town treasurer in 1882. Charles B. married Alice Butler and has
four children.

Merritt S. Piatt, born in Southbury in 1825, is son of Stephen S.
and Sally Piatt, and grandson of Stephen. .Stephen and Sally Piatt
had seven children, of whom Merritt S. is the only son. He married
Maria, daughter of Ebenezer Smith, of Middlebury, in 1853. They
have one son, Stephen S., born in 1858, married Edna R. Hine, of
Southbury, in 1886, and has two children: Mary E., born 1888, and
Irving Smith, born 1889. There seem to have been four brothers of
the Piatt family that came to this town, and they were among the first
settlers in Southbury, locating in the South Britain society. The elder
Stephen was a deacon of the Congregational church and helped organ-
ize the South Britain society. Merritt has been a member of the Con-
gregational church since 1842. He has been a member of the board
of relief of the town six years, and is a republican.

Willis E. Piatt is a son of Edward A. Piatt, who was born in the
house where he now lives, in 1827. He is a son of Simeon, grandson
of William and great-grandson of Stephen, who was the first of the


name to settle in Southbury. He came from Milford about 1750, and
settled in the Purchase district. Stephen's wife was Hannah Wood-
ruff. They had seven children. William, the youngest, born in 1765,
married Mercy Pierce, and had three children: Simeon, born 1792;
Currance, 1796; and Olive, 1799. Simeon married Eliza Blackman,
and had five children that grew to maturity: Polly B., born 1818;
Maria, 1822; Olive, 1S23; Eliza A., 1825; Edward A., born January
17th, 1827; and William, 1835. Edward A. settled on the old home-
stead which has been in this family over 120 years. The house was
built in 1806. Edward A. married, in 1853, Ellen, daughter of Ed-
mund Barnes. They have three children; Harriet, born 1855; Willis
E., 1857; and Jane E., 1861. Willis married, in 1880, Margaret Burke,
of New Haven, and has three children: Eunice E., born 1882; Sarah
E., 1885, and Edward A., 1887. Jane E. married William A. Fenn, and
has two children. Harriet married Franklin D. Bradley, and has three

Samuel W. Post, born in Southbury in 1827, is a son of Henry and
grandson of Joseph Post. Henry was born in 1797, and was twice
married; first to Lucinda Shelton, by whom he had three children:
Phebe, Henry M. and Lucinda. She died April 13th, 1822, and he was
married in March, 1823, to Maria Munn, who bore him seven children,
five of whom are living: Benjamin, born in 1824; Joseph, 1825; Samuel
W., 1827; Henry M., 1829; and Jane A., 1832. Samuel W. was educated
in the common schools of Southbury, and has been engaged in various
kinds of business — as clerk, speculator and farmer. He has held
nearly all the town offices in Southbury, and has been representative
and state senator. He' married Cythera M. Hollister in 1854. They
have two children: George H., born in 1858; and Lillian J., born in
1860. George H. married Belle Lewis, of Naugatuck, and has one
daughter, Eloise A. Post.

Eliott Pulford, born in Southbury, April 22d, 1810, was a son of
Abel, a native of Newtown, Conn., who settled in this town. Eliott
Pulford married in 1834, Maria, daughter of Colonel Joel Hinman
and Sarah Curtiss. They had two children, Julia M. and Grace S.
Mr. Pulford died in 1887. Miss Grace S. Pulford was educated in
Southbury and at West Haven High School, and, ranks high as a
teacher. She has taught in South Britain, Shelton and Southbury.

Henry B. Russell, born in Southbury, August 16th, 1844, is a son
of Bethuel T. and Huldah A. Russell. They were both natives of
Southbury and had four children: Henry B., Charles T., Mary C.and
George B. Henry B. was educated at the common school, and at
Thompson school, Woodbury, and Ocean Port Institute, N. J. He was
married March 2d, 1864, to Rachel A. Pierce, of Southbury. They
have one daughter, Annie A., born December 26th, 1868. Mr. Rus-
sell has held the office of selectman three years, was elected town
treasurer in 1883, and has served as such since, and represented


town in the legislature in 1886. He has been society committee for a
number of years, and chairman eight years of the committee of the
First Ecclesiastical Society of Southbury. He has settled several

Curtiss H. Smith, born in Southbury, in 1850, is a son of Monroe
and Amanda (Hulbert) Smith. The latter was born in Roxbury in
1S20. Monroe Smith was born in 1820, in Middlebury, Conn., came to
this town in 1846, and died in 1864. He had five children, three of
whom are living: Curtiss H., born in 1850; Flora E., born in 1854; and
George W., born in 1856, married Miss Ella Allen, of South Britain, in
1884. Flora E. married M. S. Page, of Middlebury, who is now a
dentist in Mt. Vernon, N. Y. Curtiss H. was educated at the common
school, at Parker's Academy, Woodbury, and at Fort Edward, N. Y.
He is a farmer and dealer in cattle. He was elected selectman of
Southbury in 1886 and 1887, first selectman in 1888, and second in
1889 and 1890. Mrs. Amanda Smith lives on the homestead with Cur-
tiss H.

Jervis Sommers, born in Southbury in 1833, is a son of Jervis, and
a grandson of Jonah Sommers, who came from Newtown, and was a
descendant of Henry Sommers, who settled in Stratfield, now Bridge-
port, about 1666. The mother of Jervis was Rachel Ward, born in
Bethany, Conn., whose grandfather died on board of a British prison
ship in the revolutionary war. Mr. Sommers received a commission
as postmaster of Southford in 1890, and moved the office to the store
opposite the depot February 8th, 1890. He married Antoinette Haw-
ley, of Oxford, in 1877. She died in 1883.

David Judson Stiles. — Few men of the town of Southbury have
been more prominent than David J. Stiles. He was born on the place
still owned by his family and which, since the time of the settlement
of old Woodbury, had been the property of his ancestors, October
16th, 1795, and died November 17th, 1881, aged a little more than 86
years. His death, the result of pneumonia, occurred at New Haven,
while he was on business to that place, but he was interred in the
peaceful Southbury Cemetery, near the place of his nativity and
where for so many years he had lived. There also lie the remains
of many former generations of his family, among the very first set-
tlers of Southbury being the Stiles's, who have, in every generation,
been among the most active and influential citizens of the town.

David J. Stiles was the eldest of four children, born to David Stiles
and Olive Pierce, married in 1784, the remainder of the family being
Patty, who died young; Mary Anna, who married and died within one
year afterward; and Benjamin, who removed to Yorkville, South Car-
olina. The father, David, born September 10th, 1751, was a son of
Benjamin Stiles, Esq. (married to Ruth Judson, of Stratford, where
also had first lived, in Connecticut, this branch of the Stiles family),
who was born in Southbury, February 11th, 1720. After graduating



from Yale College he entered the legal profession and was the first
lawyer in the then town of Woodbury. He was a son of Lieuten-
ant Francis Stiles, married to Mary Johnson, of Stratford, September
21st, 1709, who settled in Southbury, on the place later the home of
his great-grandson, David J., and the house he built at that place was
for many years a noted landmark. He died in 1748. His father, also
Lieutenant Francis Stiles, lived in Stratford and was a descendant in
the second generation of one of the four Stiles brothers, who came
from England to America in 1634. The descendants of another
brother settled in North Haven, embracing among their members the
Reverend Isaac Stiles and the honored president of Yale College,
Ezra Stiles. In this part of the county the family was intermar-
ried with the oldest and most respected families — descendants of
early prominent settlers.

David J. Stiles was married October 10th, 1821, to Anna, only daugh-
ter of Bennett French, a prominent and wealthy citizen of the South
Britain Society. She was a beautiful young woman, of lovely dis-
position, of whom it was eminently true,

"None knew her but to love her
Nor named her but to praise."

They spent 60 years of life together, she surviving him less than
two years. Of the six children born to them, three grew to years of
manhood and womanhood and are now living in the town: Bennett
F., at South Britain, and Anna F. and Augusta M., on the homestead.
The mother died July 3d, 1883, in her 86th year.

The boyhood and almost the entire life of David J. Stiles was
spent in Southbury. He received his early education in the schools of
this town and Woodbury, but throughout his entire life was a student.
Even at the extreme age of 80 years he purchased a set of encyclo-
pedias, which he diligently read, thus constantly storing his mind
with knowledgde. He had a strong taste for law, inherited, most likely,
from his grandfather, Benjamin Stiles, Esq., and was self-instructed
in its principles and rules ; and having an acute discernment and clear
judgment, he was often consulted upon important legal points. His
mind was ever active and alert, and few men in this part of the
county were more vigorous in that respect or obtained as the result of
their study and energy more fruitful results. One of the most re-
markable characteristics of his nature was his strong tenacity of pur-
pose. After he had once determined to do anything, he persevered
until he had accomplished his object. Whatever he conceived to be
his rights he sought to obtain at all hazards of time and means, per-
sisting in his efforts when most men would have yielded to discourage-
ment. This trait was strikingly shown in his connection with the
ownership of the Mine Hill tract of about 549 acres of land, in Rox-
bury, nine miles from his home. From the time he acquired pos-
session, in 1824, for more than 30 years his title was disputed in the


courts, but he successfully defended it, and after a hotly contested
trial, lasting nine days, in the May, 1856, court held at New Haven, it
was finally decided that he was the rightful owner. In this important
legal struggle, some of the most distinguished lawyers of the state
were opposed to him, but could not overcome the barriers he had set
up in the details of the case, which he had himself arranged, and which
old jurists pronounced the clearest brief they had ever seen. His sa-
gacity in acquiring this property and so pluckily holding possession
of it were rewarded when, a few years later, he sold it for $100,000.
Besides the cares of this estate, Mr. Stiles had other large business in-
terests which engaged his time and prevented his participation in pub-
lic matters to a great extent, and he held no public offices. But he
was esteemed a good citizen and was especially warm in his support
of schools, and other matters which promoted the general good of the

Mr. Stiles had, in addition to his thorough knowledge of the law,
studied and acquired a clear understanding of the principles of mechan-
ics, and in the latter years of his life, had invented a useful appliance
to prevent the explosion of steam boilers. He constructed a neat
model and had filed the necessary papers in Washington, but died be-
fore he could obtain a patent for it. Until the very end his fertile
brain impelled him to activity, and he died in the midst of business

Nathaniel Tuttle settled in Woodbury about 1680, and from him
have descended most, if not all, of the name now residing in its vicinity-
Captain Nathaniel, his grandson, served in the revolution. His son,
Nathaniel, was born in 1785, married May 9th, 1808, Betsey Fabrique.
He died May 5th, 1850. Mrs. Tuttle died February 19th, 1868, aged
83 years. She was a member of the Congregational church and was
very much loved and respected. Their children were: John H., born
February 16th, 1809, a merchant, died August 30th, 1831 ; Nathaniel.
born February 1st, 1811, kept a shoe store on Chapel street. New
Haven, about 20 years, and died October 18th, 1854 ; Sherman and Ben-
jamin N. Sherman, born January 18th, 1813, was formerly a carpen-
ter by trade. He was married June 13th, 1860, to Emeline, daughter
of Thomas Blakely, of Roxbury. Both are members of the Congrega-
tional church. Mr. Tuttle joined in 1832. He was one of the build-
ing committee and helped build the church edifice in 1844. He was
clerk of the society 40 years, also one of the society's committee
some 48 years. He was elected deacon of the church January 11th,
1861, which office he still holds, and is seldom absent from the church
on the Sabbath, unless illness prevents. Benjamin N., born April
11th, 1815, was a carpenter by trade some 30 years in New Haven.
He was married January 23d, 1848, to Francis A. Finch. They were
both members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which they took
a lively interest. Mrs. Tuttle died March 5th, 1867, aged 43. Ben-


jamin died March 14th, 1871. The ancient house formerly occupied
by Captain Nathaniel Tuttle and his descendants for a century or
more, was situated in Southbury on Main street, near the churches.
The old one was removed in 1784, and a new one was erected by Sher-
man Tuttle on the same ground, where he now resides.

Elisha Wheeler was a lineal descendant of Moses Wheeler, who
came from England and settled in New Haven about 1640. Subse-
quently he removed to Stratford, where his family became ver^
prominent and for many generations ranked among the most influ-
ential citizens. Some of its members joined the colonists who left
Stratford to form new settlements, north and west of that old town,

Online LibraryJ. L. (John L.) RockeyHistory of New Haven County, Connecticut → online text (page 96 of 99)