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Men of mark in Connecticut; ideals of American life told in biographies and autobiographies of eminent living Americans (Volume 1) online

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days and rendered service to the country in the French and Indian
Wars, at Bunker Hill and at Valley Forge. The first of the name
to reach America was William Roberts, who came from England in
1754. George Roberts held a captain's commission during the Revo-
lutionary War, where he contributed his full share toward the event-
ual success of the patriot's cause. On his mother's side the Governor
is a descendant of John Taylor and of Thomas Taylor, to whom the
people of Deerfield, Mass., have erected a monument in grateful com-
memoration of his bravery in the French and Indian Wars.

Young Henry Eoberts spent the early years of his life on his
father's farm in South Windsor. He was a sturdy youngster whose
special tastes were for outdoor athletic sports and for reading his-
tory. Like most country boys he began at an early age to make



HENRY ROBERTS 27

hijiself helpful in the farm work. His regular tasks, involving real
manual labor, increased each year as he grew older and were of great
advantage to him in strengthening his character and in teaching him
regular habits. During this formative period of life the influence
of his mother was particularly strong. She stimulated his youthful
intellect, taught him high moral principles and left a profound im-
pression upon his spiritual life. His first school training was re-
ceived at the public schools of Hartford. He then attended the
High School and after his graduation in 1873 he entered Yale Col-
lege, from which he was graduated with the class of 1877. Having
decided to adopt the legal profession he attended the Columbia Law
School for one year and then the Yale Law School for the same
length of time.

In 1879 Governor Eoberts began his active business career by
entering the service of the Hartford Woven Wire Company of
which his father was the president. He had intended to practice
law, but the death of his father compelled him to remain in business
to care for the large interests of his family. Having inherited the
executive ability and commercial acumen of his father he quickly
took his place among the leading manufacturers and business men
of the State. By creating industries which give useful employment
to his fellow citizens, his success has brought prosperity to many
others. He is president of the Hartford Woven Wire Mattress Com-
pany and a director in a large number of corporations. Among
others may be mentioned the Phoenix National Bank, the Hartford
Trust Company, the State Savings Bank of Hartford, the Hartford
Electric Light Company, the Farmington River Power Company,
the Hartford Dairy Company, the States School, Winston, N. C,
the Y. M. C. A. School, Springfield, Mass., and the Hartford Bed-
stead Company.

The Governor's career in politics might be recited imder the
title " From Alderman to Governor in seven years " ; for within that
short period of time he has risen from a minor position in his city
to the highest office in the State. Like his father he has always
been a staunch Republican. In 1897 he was elected an alderman in
Hartford. In this position he served his fellow citizens so well that
they sent him in 1899 to represent the city in the State House of
Representatives. He remained a member of the lower house until



28 HENRY ROBERTS

in 1901 he was elected to the Senate from the First District. While
in the Senate his ability, energ}^, and loyalty to duty became known
throughout the State, and while still a member of the upper house
of the legislature he was nominated and elected Lieutenant-Governor.
In this position he served from 1903 to 1905.

When, on September 14, 1904, the Eepublican State convention
met in Hartford to nominate a candidate for Governor, it was recog-
nized that the Lieutenant-Governor was the logical man for the place.
A short time before, the Eepublican city convention of Hartford
adopted a set of resolutions in which was recommended Governor
Eoberts' nomination in these words : " We commend him to the
consideration of his party in choosing their candidate for Governor,
as one who has illustrated, in public and in private life, the value
to a community of an honest, capable, fearless, loyal, and lovable
man.'' Mayor Henney of Hartford in presenting his nomination
to the convention declared: "As an Alderman of Hartford, as its
representative in the lower house of the General Assembly, as Sen-
ator, as presiding officer of the Senate, as Lieutenant-Governor of
the State, no man, be he friend or enemy, can say of Henry Eoberts
that he ever shirked his duty or failed to do that duty well. He
stands before you an honest, capable, energetic, experienced man.'*
On the first ballot he was nominated by a large majority. Informed
of the choice of the convention he thanked his supporters in these
words : " You have paid me a great compliment in this expression
of your confidence and conferred a high honor upon me, and with
a sincere appreciation of your action and a deep sense of the responsi-
bility and sacred trust I assume, permit me to signify my acceptance
of the nomination. If elected it will be my endeavor to give to the
State an administration during which I shall strive to attain the same
marked success as that attained by my able and worthy Eepublican
predecessors." When the ballots were counted after the election of
November, 1904, Governor Eoberts was found to have a large major-
ity over his Democratic rival. In voting for him the citizens of
Connecticut felt confident that they were bestowing their highest
public office upon a loyal, energetic, capable, and broad-minded busi-
ness man; a careful student of public questions and a practical man
of affairs.

In 1881 Governor Eoberts was married to Carrie E. Smith of



HENEY ROBERTS 29

Bridgeport. He became the father of three children, two of whom
arc now living. From boyhood, home influences have been a strong
factor in shaping his career and in urging him on to success. He
has also received helpful inspiration from companionship with those
who have been successful in active life and from the serious study
of history and the lives of great men. He is a member of many
clubs, among them the Hartford Club, the Country Club, the Hart-
ford Golf Club, the Eepublican Club, and the University Club of
New York. He attends the Congregational Church. From boyhood
he has been an enthusiastic reader of history and of the biographies
of the world's greatest men. In later life he has given careful study
to the science of political economy. He could not have chosen four
subjects of study more valuable to a public man than law, history,
biography, and political economy. He now, in the prime of life,
holds the highest office within the gift of the State of Connecticut.
When his present term expires, he will take his place among the
foremost of Connecticut's sons.



EOLLIN SIMMONS WOODRUFF

WOODRUFF, ROLLIN SIMMONS, a prominent merchant,
ex-state senator and the present Lieutenant-Governor of
Connecticut, was born in Rochester, Monroe County, New
York, on the fourteenth of July, 1854. He traces his ancestry back to
Matthew Woodruff, who came from England to America in 1636, and
finds among his ancestors many representatives of that sturdy stock
that made possible the beginnings of American history. His parents
were Jeremiah Woodruff, a Presbyterian clergyman, and Clarisse
Thompson Woodruff. He spent the early years of his life in a country
village and when he was fifteen the family moved to New Haven, where
he obtained his first position in life as errand boy in a hardware store.
His education was limited to that of the public schools in his native
town and a brief period of schooling in Lansing, Iowa, but his success
in all he undertook was as complete and as rapid as that of any college
man, for he had in him all the material that enables a man to "make
himself." He engaged in various financial and mercantile enter-
prises in New Haven and after a number of years became interested in
the firm of C. S. Mersick & Company, one of the most extensive iron
and steel wholesale dealers in New England. He has been for many
years a leading member of the firm and a controlling power of its
large plant at New Haven.

Always intensely interested in public affairs and an ardent sup-
porter of the Republican platform Rollin S. Woodruff has held many
public offices. He has been president of the Chamber of Commerce,
state senator in 1903, and during his senatorship he was president pro
tern of the Senate, and he is the present Lieutenant-Governor of Con-
necticut, to which office he was elected by a large majority. Each
office that he has held has added so greatly to the esteem in which
Lieutenant-Governor Woodruff is generally held that a still greater
appreciation of his popularity and valuable service is prophesied. A
leading newspaper has said of him : "Popular, honest, honorable, spot-
less in character, a plain man of the people, a devoted citizen of the



EOLLIN S. WOODRUFF Zd-

state, unostentatious but true blue always — that is Rollin S. Wood-
ruff."

Lieutenant-Governor Woodruff is a member of the Union League
Club and of the Young Men's Republican Club of New Haven. Since
1896 he has been a member of the Governor's Foot Guards. In 1876
he married Kaomeo Perkins, by whom he had two children, neither of
whom is now living.

Mr. Woodruff was nominated for Governor by acclamation at the
Republican State Convention in New Haven, September 20th, 1906.



THEODORE BODENWEIN



THE career of Theodore Bodenwein, proprietor of the New Lon-
don Day and Morning Telegraph, is a striking example of
the possibilities of American citizenship. Born in Dusseldorf,
Prussia, in 1864, he came to this country at the age of five, the child
of German parents in humble circumstances.

He obtained his education in a country school. At an early age
he showed an aptitude for the printer's trade, and in 1881 he became
an apprentice in the office of the New London Day. He passed through
the different branches of the business, and, from close application and
observation, obtained a practical knowledge of the newspaper busi-
ness. By constant application he became a ready and forceful writer.
In 1885 he became one of the founders of the Morning Telegraph,
which succeeded the old Evening Telegraph, whose eloquent mouth
was closed by the sheriff. He remained on the Telegraph in various
capacities for five years. Then he disposed of the interest. In Sep-
tember, 1891, he purchased the New London Day, that had been
founded by Major John A. Tibbets, a well known writer and politi-
cian. The Day had been leading a checkered career for ten years,
and was heavily encumbered with debt. The new proprietor quickly
brought order out of chaos, showing rare executive ability, and the
paper was put almost at once on a paying basis. Its growth in
circulation was not over 1,500. To-day (1906), it exceeds the 6,000
mark, that is, one paper to every six inhabitants in its field,
which includes the lower part of New London County. In the first
ten years Mr. Bodenwein bought four newspaper presses, discarding
one after the other to accommodate the growing demands of his busi-
ness. To-day, he has one of the finest equipped newspaper plants in
Connecticut. The Day establishment is one of the prominent institu-
tions of New London, on account of the magnitude of its operations.
His experiment of issuing both morning and evening papers from the
same office seems to have met with success, as both papers are better
and more prosperous than ever before.



TUEODORE BODENWEIN 37

Mr. Bodenwein was married February 21st, 1889, to Miss Jennie
Muir. He has two children: Gordon, aged twelve, and Elizabeth,
aged nine. He is a member of numerous clubs and societies. In
politics he is a Kepublican. He served as alderman in the New Lon-
don Court of Common Council and as sewer commissioner of the city,
1903-6. In 1904 he was unanimously nominated by the Republican
State Convention for Secretary of State, and had the pleasure of
being elected by over 37,000 plurality, leading his State ticket and
only 814 votes behind the vote for President Roosevelt.

Mr. Bodenwein was re-nominated for Secretary of State, September
20th, 1906.



JAMES FRANCIS WALSH

WALSH, JAMES FRANCIS, lawyer, politician, and public
official of Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, at
present judge of the Criminal Court of Common Pleas of
Fairfield County, was born in Lewisboro, Westchester County, New
York, March 15th, 1864. He is the son of James F. Walsh, a black-
smith by trade, and Annie E. Walsh. Soon after his birth the family
moved to Eidgefield, Connecticut, where his boyhood was spent and
where he received a common school education.

At eighteen James F. Walsh left Eidgefield and went to Green-
wich to study law with his brother, the Hon. R. Jay Walsh. In
January, 1888, he was admitted to the Fairfield County Bar and
immediately opened an office of his own for the practice of law and
he has maintained it ever since and has built up in the meantime a
successful and extensive practice. In 1888 he was appointed prosecut-
ing agent for the county commissioners and in 1899 prosecut-
ing attorney of the borough court of Greenwich, both of which offices
he held until 1905. In 1900 he was chosen by the Republican party,
of which he has been an active and loyal member since his majority,
as State representative, and during his term of office he was chair-
man of the committee on railroads. In 1903 he was elected State
senator and was leader of the Senate during his term of office.
In 1905 and 1906 he was treasurer of State and in 1905 he was ap-
pointed to his present office of judge of the Criminal Court of Com-
mon Pleas for Fairfield County. His term of office will expire in
July, 1909.

He entered upon his public life at a time when the history of
Greenwich was undergoing a crisis and in the transition from old
time conservatism to its present modern and progressive state he
was one of the chief powers at -york. Then, as now, he was intensely
interested in the highest welfare of his town and untiring in his
efforts to bring about every posible betterment of public conditions.

In addition to his professional and political interests Judge Walsh



JAMES FRANCIS WALSH 41

has been extensively interested in real estate. He is a director in and
treasurer of the Byram Land Improvement Company, a director in
and secretary of the Greenwich Gas and Electric Lighting Company,
a director in and treasurer of The Riverside Water Company, and
a director in and attorney for the National Investment Company.

He is a member of Christ Church (Episcopal), of the Indian
Harbor Yacht Club, the Riverside Yacht Club, the Hartford Club, and
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

On April 11th, 1893, Judge Walsh was united in marriage to
Emily Gene Tweedale of Portchester, New York. No children have
been born to them.



ASAHEL W. MITCHELL

MITCHELL, ASAHEL W., prominent business and public
man of North Woodbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut,
former representative and State senator, and the holder
of various town, county, and state offices, was born in Woodbury,
Connecticut, October 16th, 1865. His parents were Asahel W. and
Harriet Allen Mitchell. His father was a farmer and a prominent
member of the Legislature for two terms.

According to Cothren's History of Ancient Woodbury and infor-
mation in the possession of Minot Mitchell, Esq., of White Plains, New
York, the Mitchells were originally from Scotland, but removed to
Halifax, in Yorkshire, England, where they resided for three genera-
tions.

Mathew Mitchell, who is the ancestor of the family in this country,
was born in 1590. He was a dissenter, and is represented to have
been not only a very pious man but a man of considerable fortune.
The dissenters from the Church of England being constantly per-
secuted and annoyed in their religious worship, he with many others
of his persuasion determined to leave England; and on the twenty-
third of May, 1635, they set sail from Bristol and arrived at Boston
August 17th, the same year.

He and his family spent the winter at Charlestown and removed
to Concord in the spring. The next summer he moved to Saybrook,
Connecticut, and the following spring to Wethersfield. He died at
Stamford, Connecticut, in 1645, at fifty-five years of age, leaving two
sons, Rev. Jonathan and David.

Asahel W. Mitchell, the subject of this article, being of the
ninth generation from Mathew, was brought up in the village of
Woodbury and educated at the Parker Academy in his native town.
His first business connections were with the Bradstreet Commer-
cial Agency at New Haven, which he left to enter the office of the
American Ring Company at Waterbury. In 1887 his health failed
and he gave up his position in Waterbury and returned to Woodbury,



ASAHEL W. MITCHELL 45

where he has lived ever since and has been chiefly occupied in
managing his father's affairs (since his death in 1888) and in the
performance of public duties. He is superintendent of the Wood-
bury Water Company and is town clerk, having held the latter ofiBce
since 1895. He has been justice of the peace for eleven years and
in 1905 he was elected State comptroller. In 1897 he became State
representative on the Eepublican ticket and during his term served
on the Eailroad Committee and acted as clerk of the county rep-
resentatives' meeting. In 1899 he was elected State senator and
during this term he was chairman of the committees on Education
and Executive Nominations and chairman of the county representa-
tives' meeting. He has also been a town auditor for ten years.

Personally Mr. Mitchell is progressive and public-spirited,
staunch in his political allegiance, which has always been with the
Eepublican party, and in his religious belief, which connects him with
the Congregational Church.

On the twenty-eighth day of May, 1901, he married Josephine
M. Stanton, by whom he has had one child, Katharine Allen Mitchell.



MORGAN GARDNER BULKELEY

THE ancestors of Morgan Gardner Bulkeley belonged to the
educated, liberty-loving class that directed in definite lines
the early development of New England. Peter Bulkeley,
fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, heir to a large estate,
silenced for non-conformity after a ministry for twenty-one years
in England, emigrated to Massachusetts in 1635, and the following
year, with a number of adherents, began the settlement of Concord,
where he preached and died. He married Grace, daughter of Sir
Kichard Chitwood, or Chetwode, as anciently spelled. Gershom
Bulkeley was graduated at Harvard College in 1655, and four
years later married Sarah, eldest daughter of President Charles
Chauncy. Preacher, soldier, physician, and politician, he served
the people of Connecticut with marked distinction in all these capaci-
ties. As a surgeon he occupied the first rank in the colony. As a
controversialist he struck hard blows. Some of his writings still
survive. To skip intermediate generations, Eliphalet A. Bulkeley,
father of Morgan G., was graduated from Yale College in 1824,
studied law, and after a brief residence in East Haddam moved to
Hartford, where, during a long career, he was prominently identified
with the financial institutions of the city. He also took an active
interest in polities, and was one of the founders of the Eepublican
party. Among other offices he was judge. Commissioner of the School
Fund, State Senator, Speaker of the House of Representatives, etc.
He married Lydia S. Morgan of Colchester — a woman of strong char-
acter and uplifting influence.

Morgan Gardner Bulkeley was born at East Haddam, Connecti-
cut, December 26th, 1837. Robust and adventurous, at the age of
fourteen he left school to tempt fortune in the great world. Enter-
ing the house of H. P. Morgan & Co., of Brooklyn, New York, as
errand boy, in seven years he was admitted to the partnership. In
answer to the call for volunteers he enlisted in the Thirteenth New
York regiment, and served under General McClellan during the



MORGAN GARDNER BULKELEY 49

Peninsular campaign. At the close of his term of military service
he resumed business in Brooklyn, but on the death of his father in
1872 returned to Hartford to supervise the financial interests of
the family. As organizer and first president he launched the United
States Bank, at first named the United States Trust Company, which
to-day has by far the largest percentage of surplus of any bank in
Hartford.

In 1879 Governor Bulkeley was elected president of the iEtna
Life Insurance Company, having long been intimately connected with
the management of its affairs. His father, as president from the date
of its birth in 1850 till his death in 1872, had safely piloted the
enterprise through the weakness and perils of infancy. Thus, for
over half a century, with the exception of seven years between 1872 and
1879, father and son in succession have guided the destinies of the
institution. Viewed in the light of strength and symmetry of develop-
ment its record has nowhere been surpassed.

December 31st, 1879, the capital of the ^tna was $750,000;
the premium income for the year $2,487,606 ; the income from invest-
ments $1,830,695; the total assets $25,592,363, and the surplus to
policyholders $3,591,665.

December 31st, 1904, the capital was $2,000,000; premiums for
the year $12,868,922; income from investments $3,062,633; total
assets $73,696,178, and surplus to policyholders $8,850,426.

Life insurance rests on a mathematical basis. Tables of mortality
generalized from long and wide experience under the law of averages
give the expectation of life at all ages, from youth onward. It has
been assumed that money will yield at least four per cent.

With the basic principles of the business mathematically and
hence immutably fixed, the measure of success or failure depends upon
ability of management. Justice in the treatment of patrons, fore-
sight in the investment of funds, skill in the choice of agents, care
in the selection of risks, and personal magnetism in bringing a multi-
tude of diverse and widely separated units into harmonious anH
effective cooperation, are the qualities that, if combined in the head
of a life insurance company, guarantee in advance that it will out-
strip all rivals less favorably equipped. Persons in position to form
a correct opinion unite in crediting to Governor Bulkeley the above
gifts in full measure.



50 MOEQAN" GAKDNER BULKELEY



The JStna led the way in loaning to western farmers. Early
contracts, although bearing ten per cent, proved even more profitable
to the borrower than to the lender. Purchasers of land at $1.35 per
acre through the aid of the capital thus obtained, and" the inflow of
population, in a few years saw it increase in value ten or twenty fold
or more. As the loans were paid and the rates of interest fell toward
the standards prevalent in settled communities, the company pushed
westward, preempting fertile acres and areas of large return. Simul-
taneously it invested liberally in the bonds of western towns. From
both sources the income largely exceeded the legal requirement of four
per cent.

Till 1861 the company made contracts of insurance only on the
stock plan. It then began the issue of participating policies, estab-
lishing a separate department with distinct books, accounts, and
investments. Patrons can choose between the two. On the partici-
pating plan the insured pays a sum somewhat in excess of the tabular
cost, and the difference in due time is returned to him in the form of
"dividends." On the stock plan he pays the bare cost with a slight addi-
tion for contingencies. Such profits above the legal reserve as accrue
from good luck or good management belong to the company. After
makmg provision as required by law for meeting at maturity all
contracts, it can dispose of the surplus as it pleases.

The extraordinary productiveness of the investments of the
^tna piled up in the treasury a large sum belonging to the stock.
10 place this where it could never be withdrawn, where it would
broaden the basis of security, and where it would remain planted in
perpetuity for the protection of policyholders, parts of it were used

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Online LibraryNorris Galpin OsbornMen of mark in Connecticut; ideals of American life told in biographies and autobiographies of eminent living Americans (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 30)