Norris Galpin Osborn.

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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June. 1903. Mr. Curtiss was still unmarried in 1906.


(^ REENE, JACOB LYMAN, was born on the ninth day of Au-
"jT gust, A.D., 1837, in the town of Watorford and the State of
Maine. His parents, Captain Jacob Holt Greene and Sirah
Walker Frye, were both of noble lineage, for in their veins pulsed the
blood of the Greenes, the Fryes, the Holts, the Abbots, the Poors, the
Trumbulls, the Kilburns, and the Gordons, some of whom are more or
less distinguished for various virtues and gallant services in the
French and Indian and Eevolutionary wars.

The boyhood and youth of this sturdy, earnest lad, fond of his
books as well as of manly sports, was passed, until twenty years of age,
on his father's farm amid the granite hills and pastoral slopes of his
native state. The influence of both parents was strong on his intel-
lectual and his spiritual life. In later years he spoke of his father as
"one of the unheralded heroes, possessing great intelligence, high-
mindedness, and dauntless courage."

Young Greene took advantage of every opportunity for the cul-
tivation of his mind. He was a great reader, history and biography
being his favorite studies. Speaking of his early education, he said:
"I had to work it out." Later he enjoyed the advantages of special
courses of study at the University of Michigan, and he engaged in
the practice of law in that state just before the Civil War broke out.
In August, 1861, he entered the service of his country as a volunteer
in the Seventh Michigan Infantry, rising rapidly from a private to
captain, major, and brevet lieutenant-colonel.

Colonel Greene's brevet was given for "di^^tinguishcd gallantry
at the battle of Trevellyan Station, and for meritorious and faithful
services during the war." He was a prisoner of war at Libby Prison
in Richmond, Virginia; in Macon, Georgia; in Charleston, South
Carolina, and in Columbia, South Carolina. During the last part of
his military career he was intimately associated with General Custer,
acting as his adjutant-general and chief-of-staff. He was mustered
out of service and honorably discharged in March, ISfiG. Colonel
Greene's brilliant army record has become a part of the history of the
United States.


His experience in life insurance began in 1866 at Pittsfield,
Massachusetts, in connection with the Berkshire Life Insurance
Company. In 1370 he became associated with the Connecticut
Mutual Life Insurance Company, and took up his residence in Hart-
ford. In 1871 he was appointed secretary, and in 1878 was elected
president. Under the wise counsel and masterly administration of
Colonel Greene the company reached the highest state of beneficent
efficiency and unquestioned strength, and it stands to-day "sui
generis" among insurance companies of the country. President
Greene's last word in his message to the policy holders in January,
1905, was : "How truly and steadfastly the Connecticut Mutual has
held to its ideals, and in what unequaled measure it has realized
for its members and for their beneficiaries their best result, is told,
through its history, and each recurring year witnesses it anew." By
a few strokes of the pen President Greene makes the whole history of
the company strikingly luminous.

As a public speaker, and as a writer, he ranked high. He was
one of the orators of the day at the Grant Memorial exercises in
Hartford, and delivered a most eloquent address. His writings bore
the stamp of an original mind, permeated by sound principles and
lofty ideals. What he said carried with it weight, and never failed
to make serious impression upon thoughtful readers. Of him it
could be said that he could "lend ardor to virtue, and confidence to

In 1900 he issued an able work on "Gen. Wm. B. Franklin and the
battle of Fredericksburg," and in 1903 an "In Memoriam of General
Franklin." He also published several pamphlets, business and pro-
fessional, notably : "Bimetallism or the Double Standard," "Our
Currency Problems," "What is Sound Currency," and "The Silver
Question." When the latter pamphlet came from the press it
aroused the bitterest ire of the so-called Silverites. One of them, a
policy holder in the Connecticut Mutual, violently attacked Colonel
Greene for daring to condemn what some of his policy holders be-
lieved in and profited by, whereupon the fiery valor of the Colonel's
heart flamed out, and he replied thus: "If telling the truth to
our policy holders about their own business alienates my friends, I
must bear the grief; if men must wear muzzles because they have
been charged with large financial or other responsibilities, then, this
is not the country my fathers fought to found, and which I fought


to keep whole, and for which / will again fight to make free from
mob rule and to cleanse of cowards." In these brave words we
discover an echo of Lexington and Concord, Valley Forge and (Jettys-
burg. We witness again the brilliant cavalryman in the saddle, see
the charging of squadrons and hear the rattle of musketry.

Colonel Greene's personality was of singular power. No person
who came in contact with it failed to feel its peculiar force. His
character called forth character in the lives of others. Those who
came to him as carping critics, invariably departed admiring friends.
To know him was to love him, and those who knew him best, loved
him most. His purse was ever open to almsgiving and his heart
tender to those who needed relief.

In 1897 Yale University bestowed on him the degree of A.M., and
in 1904 Trinity College followed with an LL.D. He was a member of
the D. K. E. Fraternity and also of the Century, Hartford, Country,
and the Hartford Golf clubs. He was the leading layman in Trinity
Episcopal Church, and served as vestryman and warden for many
years. Colonel Greene took up his daily tasks with unwearied dili-
gence, and carried them with undisturbed resolution, without stum-
bling and without stain, to the last day of his life.

Of his religion, it may be briefly said, that it was the main object
of his life. It brooded over him like the canopy of heaven ; without
it his life seemed to possess nothing, but with it the potentiality of
becoming an heir of the kingdom of heaven. For years he carried
in his vest pocket a well worn copy of the Psalter, and from that
source, according to his own statement, he drew daily refreshment and

Colonel Greene died at his home in Hartford on the twenty-ninth
day of March, nineteen hundred and five. His last moments were
like those of another great and good man, of whom it is written:
"After a short conflict betwixt nature and death, a quiet sigh put
a period to his last breath, and so he fell asleep."

In the company of the noble dead he now securely stands, fit type
of the brilliant soldier, masterful underwriter, ripe scholar, faithful
friend, loyal citizen, and, more than all, man of God.

Colonel Greene left a widow, Caroline S. Greene; one daughter,
Mrs. H. S. Richards of Buffalo, New York, and one son, Jacob
Humphrey Greene, who is an assistant secretary of the Connecticut
Mutual Life Insurance Company.


TAYLOR, JOHN METCALF, president of the Connecticut
Mutual Life Insurance Company, of Hartford, was born of
New England parentage, at Cortland, Cortland County, New
York, February 18th, 1845. His father, Charles Culver Taylor, was
a farmer, a vigorous, strong man, and was honored by offices in his
town as trustee of the Cortland Academy, treasurer and trustee
of the State Normal School, president of the board of village trustees,
and by other offices. He was a man of integrity, generosity, courtesy,
and kindness. Mr. Taylor's mother, Maria Jane Gifford, died when
he was an infant, and the development of his character was chiefly
due to the care and counsel of a good woman who had charge of
him in his earlier years, strengthened as it was by his zeal in the
tasks of the common school, by his love of out-of-door sports and
recreations; and, later, broadened and deepened by listening to the
pleas and arguments of distinguished counsel at the bar, and to
courses of lectures, in 1858-1860, by Henry Ward Boechcr, George
William Curtis, Thomas Starr King, Wendell Phillips, Samuel J.
May, E. H. Chapin, Lydia Maria Child, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and
to other gifted authors and lecturers of that period.

His earliest ancestor in this country was Stephen Goodyear of
London, England, — 1638; who was one of the founders of New
Haven, Connecticut, a magistrate, commissioner for the United
Colonies, and deputy governor of New Haven Colony. Another, John
Taylor of England, was one of the settlers of Hartford, Connecticut,
and of Hadley, Massachusetts.

His sound, healthy physical development is to be attributed in
many ways to his early years on the farm, with its varied demands on
body and mind and its excellent school of discipline, observation, and
useful experience. In boyhood the study of the Bible and the reading
of history and biography were potent factors in strengthening his firm
and serious grasp of the basic principles for an honest, sturdy, and
forceful life. Lalor, the Greek, Latin, and English classics, and
standard fiction, served to mold his speech and writing into a correct

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and admirable style of expression, while his training in his profession
of the law, his diligence in following court decisions and current
legislation, broadened his mastery of principles and details, and
lodged in a splendid memory a reserve and a strength which have
manifested themselves in his life work; and have made him an
acknowledged authority on insurance law, well known in the insurance,
as well as in the legal profession. His education, begun in the common
and academic schools, was carried on through his course at Wil-
liams College, from which he was graduated with the degree of B.A.
in 1867; and his Alma Mater again honored him by conferring upon
him the degree of M.A. in 1888.

Mr. Taylor was married on the fourth day of October, 1871, to
Edith Emerson, at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. One child was born to
them, Emerson Gilford Taylor, who is now a member of the Yale
University Faculty.

John M. Taylor was admitted to the Bar and began the practice of
law in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in June, 1870, and he has occupied
many positions of honor and trust in that community. He was
influenced to his choice of a profession by his own personal leaning
that way, and has always taken pleasure in pursuing his study of the
law, especially in those branches relating to and connected with in-
surance. At Pittsfield he held, at various times, the office of town
clerk, clerk of the District Court, and clerk of St. Stephen's parish.

In 1872 Mr. Taylor went to Hartford, Connecticut, as the assist-
ant secretary of The Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company.
In 1878 he became secretary; in 1884, vice-president, and in 1905,
upon the death of his valued friend and associate, the late Colonel
Greene, he became president of the company. Among other offices
held by him is that of trustee of the Connecticut Trust & Safe
Deposit Company since 1884; director of the Phcenix National Bank;
director of the New York Dock Company ; vice-president and president
of the Loomis Institute from 1901 ; and trustee and secretary of the
Bishop's Fund of the diocese of Connecticut. He has been a diligent
student of early Colonial history, and of the history of the era
of the Civil War; and out of his studies have grown the writing
and publication by him of his books entitled "Koger Ludlow the
Colonial Law-maker," in 1900, and his "Maximilian and Carlotta, a
Story of Imperialism," in 1894. These books have taken high rank
among the standard authorities.

Mr. Taylor is a member of the American Historical Association;


the Connecticut Historical Society; the Connecticut Civil Service
Reform Association; the Society of Colonial Wars; Berkshire Com-
mandery of Knights Templar. He has always been identified with
the Republican party, but is not slow to express his mind or take
action when it is necessary to make a choice of men or measures
in the interests of the general good.

He has been a president, and is now a director of the Hartford
Golf Club, and continues to take an active interest in its atfairs,
and to make very considerable use of the athletic advantages of the
club. He enjoys hunting and fishing; is an excellent shot and fly
fisherman ; and often takes long walks in the woods and fields, but is
particularly fond of the game of golf.

He has always been an attendant of the Protestant Episcopal
Church and a member of Christ Church in Hartford for many years,
which has called upon him to serve as vestryman and on its various
committees from time to time. He has always been kindly and sym-
pathetic with young people and has truly said : "Successful men have
no failures to explain. Unsuccessful men do not always attribute
their failures to recognized causes. In one sense all men have suc-
ceeded, and in another all have failed to do what they hoped to do
in life; and I cannot see how a study of failures can be helpful to
young people. A book might be written on the broad question of
what will contribute most to the strengthening of sound ideals and
will most help young people to obtain true success."

He feels that as to principles: "An abiding religious belief and
faith; a clear conscience; honor in all things; charity towards all
men; right living in the sight of God and man; loyalty to one's
country; knowledge of its origin and development, its theories and
principles, and the sacrifices that have been made for them, should
be chief factors in the growth of young people."

As to methods : "They should aim high ; all ideals are not attain-
able, but most of them are, through study, observation, and persist-
ence. Early choice should be made of a profession, business, or
occupation, and a determination to succeed in it despite all obstacles.*'

As to habits: "Too great importance cannot be given by young
people to a life of temperance, purity in act, thought, and speech,
courtesy at home and abroad, punctuality and thoroughness every day
in the week, with time for exercise and recreation."

Mr. Taylor himself has truly followed the course which he has
thus marked out for others.


WHITE, HERBERT HUMPHREY, secretary and director
of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company oi
Hartford, treasurer and trustee of the Hartford School of
Religious Pedagogy and a man of wide experience in banking and in
public service, was born in Hartford, July 3rd, 1858, the son of
Francis A. White, a builder, and Cornelia Humphrey White. His
father was a very sociable and musical man who possessed keen
mathematical faculties and his mother was a woman of great moral
force and spiritual depth. Going further back in the study of Mr.
White's antecedents it is found that he is descended from John White
who came from England to Salem, Massachusetts, in 1639, and was
an incorporator of Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1643 ; from John
Haynes who came from England in 1635; George Colton, a pioneer
settler of Longmeadow, Massachusetts; George Wyllis, an early
emigrant from Essex County, England, and from Peter Brown who
came to Plymouth in the "Mayflower" in 1620. Two of these,
Haynes and Wyllis, were the first and third governors of Connecti-
cut, and another early ancestor, Jonathan White, was a lieutenant
colonel in the French and Indian War and fought at Lake George.
Another, Benjamin Colton, was the first pastor of the West Hart-
ford Congregational Church and held that pastorate forty-five years.
Until Herbert White was twelve years old he was very frail and
he did not have hard work to do in early boyhood, as did so many
of his contemporaries. He was fond of study and was disappointed
because he could not take a college course. He attended the public
schools and took the classical course at the Hartford Public High
School, after leaving which he studied political economy, constitu-
tional history and astronomy at home. He desired to become engaged
in financial work and in 1874 he entered the employ of the Hartford
Trust Company, where he remained for four years, at the end of
which he entered the Phoenix National Bank, where he was assist-
ant cashier for nine years.


In 1899 Mr. White became secretary and director of the Connecti-
cut Mutual Life Insurance Company, one of the largest, most prosper-
ous and reputable life insurance companies in the world. March 23rd
1906, the office of treasurer was created by the company to which he
was promoted, at the same time resigning the office of secretary. He
is also a director of the Hartford Insane Eetreat, treasurer and
member of the advisory board of the Connecticut Institute for the
Blind, treasurer and trustee of the Hartford School of Religious
Pedagogy and a member of the West Middle District School Com-
mittee. In politics he is and always has been a Eepublican, and he
was a member of the common council for six years during two of
which years he was an alderman and one year the president of the
Board of Councilmen. He is secretary, treasurer and director of
the Hartford Golf Club Company, a member of the Twentieth
Century Club, the Connecticut Historical Society, the Sons of the
American Revolution, and the Hartford Club. He was president of
the Colonial Club before its consolidation with the Hartford Club.
In religious conviction he is a Baptist. As a boy, his most congenial
outdoor exercise was rowing, which did much to build up his con-
stitution. Tennis and golf have been his favorite recreations in
mature life. Mrs. White was Ella F. Kinne, whom he married in
1886 and by whom he has had one child, a daughter.

The dominating purpose and impulse of Mr. White's life ha? been
to do the duty made clear to him to do, without regard to conse-
quences, and he considers such an impulse the best "investment" one
can have. He gives an admirable list of the essentials of true success
in life which he considers to be: "A full and abiding trust in God,
a familiar knowledge of the Bible, unshirking performance of duty,
doing for others rather than seeking to get from others, the exercise
of self-control, proper care of the body, and abstinence from unneces-
sary stimulants."


HAMMER, ALFRED EMIL, was born in Boston, Massachu-
setts, March 8th, 1858. His parents were Danes; the father
emigrated from Denmark and settled in America in 1842,
and his mother was born of Danish parents, who came to this country
in 1832. His father, Thorvald Frederick Hammer — an inventor and
mechanical engineer — was a man of industry and perseverance, with
a nature hating show and shams, and cherishing an intense love for
America and its institutions. He served as a member of the board
of education of Branford for a number of years. Mr. Hammer's
ancestors, many of them, were men of note in the fields of art and

In childhood Alfred Hammer was a healthy boy, living after his
seventh year in the country, where his great love for nature — an
ancestral trait — was developed, and where he had opportunity to in-
dulge in his favorite sports of fishing, hunting, and trapping. Al-
though he had his part in the regular routine work of the farm, he
found time for reading, the books he cared most for in boyhood being
tales of Colonial life in America, and later Emerson's Essays,
Beecher's Sermons, Auerbach's Novels, and scientific works, includ-
ing those of Darwin and Huxley. His early education was acquired
in the Branford and New Haven high schools, and Russell's Military
Academy of New Haven.

Mr. Hammer decided to follow his father's profession, and began
fitting himself for a metallurgist by three years' study under a care-
ful teacher. He began the real work of life in the chemical laboratory
of the Malleable Iron Fittings Company of Branford, and is, at
present, manager and treasurer of this business. Mr. Hammer is
a trustee of the James Blackston Memorial Library Association,
director of- the Second National Bank of New Haven, trustee and
corporator of the Connecticut Savings Bank, and trustee and cor-
porator of the Branford Savings Bank.

In politics he is a Republican, and was a member of the House
of Representatives of Connecticut for 1889, and is, at present, serving


as senator for the 13th district of his state. He is a member of
the American Institute of Mining Engineers, and of the American
Society of Mechanical Engineers. Mr. Hammer is distinctly an out-
of-door man, fond of athletic sports, and of fishing, botanizing, and
walking. He attends the Presbyterian Church.

In 1887 he was married to Cornelia Hannah Foster (now de-
ceased), and has four children. In 1905 he was married to Edith
Eosamond Swan, daughter of Dr. Charles W. Swan of Brookline,

Mr. Hammer believes that he owes his success in life to private
study, home and school influences. Speeches by great men had a
distinct effect on his character also, and inspired him to strike out
boldly for himself and fellow men. He is of the opinion that young
men will follow successful leaders more quickly than good advice;
and that those who wish to influence them most must turn their hero
worship in the right direction. He would say to young men that
"the culture of the finer sides of a man's nature is to be gained by
reading great books, and by the study of the lives and words of men
who have ideals."


Haven Leader, is the son of John Mason Pickett and Elizabeth
L. Cogswell, and is a direct descendant of Archbishop Whittle-
sey of Canterbury, England ; of John Whittlesey, who came over and
settled in Saybrook in 1632, and of John Cogswell, who, on arriving
from England, settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1619, a year
before the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers. Both pioneers played
important parts in the forming of the colonies. When the War for
Independence came, William Cogswell held a major's commission in
General Washington's army.

Mr. Pickett was born in Waterbury, on June 13th, 1857. His
father was an honest, energetic, public-spirited farmer of high repute
in the communities in which he lived. He served as selectman and
while living in Sherman was three times representative to the General
Assembly from that town. His wife did much by teaching and by
example to develop the intellectual, moral, and spiritual life of their
son. He is to be counted among the many who learned as a boy what
work is, and learned in the stern school of agriculture. Early and
late, he was kept busy. The farm in Sherman was fertile, but the
remoteness of the location from busy centers did much to rob it of its
attractiveness in the eyes of the youth as he grew older. What he may
have lost by not being in actual contact with the bustling world in
his early days, he appears to have made up in his reading of Shake-
speare, Bunyan, and other masters, acquiring a fund of knowledge
of human nature invaluable to him in later life. He craved more
in hook knowledge, and in experience also, than his humble means
could afford him, so he set to work to provide the means.

In June, 1892, he could look back over a very successful course
through Waramaug Academy and the Yale Law School. But the
law was not to be his profession ; it was to be an aid in the field of
journalism. Having had experience as a reporter on the New Haven
Palladium, he came to feel more and more the enjoyment of daily


contact with men of affairs and to appreciate that in that contact
was the greatest uplift for him. So he chose to continue in newspaper
work. Just as he was graduating from the law school, and when
he had been discharging reportorial duties only six years, an oppor-
tunity opened for him to take the position he holds to-day, the
editorship of the Leader, an evening paper then just starting upon
its successful career, the only stalwart Republican paper in the city,
Mr. Pickett has made a paper that pleased a rapidly increasing con-
stituency, and his pungent, lucid editorials are widely copied. A
special feature of his work is his close observation of the sessions of
the General Assembly.

Colonel Pickett served a term of five years in the Second Infantry,
C. N. G., and was aide-de-camp with rank of colonel on the staff of

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 27 of 30)