Norris Galpin Osborn.

Men of mark in Connecticut; ideals of American life told in biographies and autobiographies of eminent living Americans (Volume 6) online

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Men of Mark in Connecticut








Copyright 1910 by W. R. Goodspeed


KiARD CcMPANr. Printers. Harttord. Cor



Col. N. G. Osborn, Editor-in-Chief











COL. N. G. OSBORN New Haven

editor new haven journal and courier





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TRIED by a test that rarely comes to men — and never came to
but one other man in Connecticut — Frank Bentley Weeks of
Middletown has proved true to his lineage and his name.
Called from business affairs to a high public station, that of lieutenant-
governor, he was performing his duties quietly and was winning new
meed of respect from his fellowmen when the stem decree of fate
placed him in the chief office of the State — in the chair of the
executive himself. The people turned to him in their grief over the
death of Governor Lilley and, though the standard established was
of the highest, they were not to be disappointed.

We know that rarely does the life of such a man begin with his
own. For its true inception we look back to his ancestry. And it
is to the records we must turn, since Mr. Weeks is one of those
unboastful men who wish to let their name rest on what they have
done or not done themselves. Such men in their hearts may have an
ancestry to be proud of but they never are known to rely upon it.

We find, then, that a Thomas Weeks came from England in
1637, and that a John Archer left the home country for the new
world ten years later. From both of them, and from Jasper Griifing
on the maternal side, who came from Wales in 1670, we trace the
governor's descent. Archer was of that Warwickshire family which
was founded in England by Fulbert Li Archer, who came into
England with William the Conqueror. To John Archer was given
a grant of 1250 acres of land in America, and he was made by
Charles II "Lord of the Manor of Fordham" (New York).

Of the best Anglo-Saxon and Welsh blood, Mr. Weeks was bom
in Brooklyn, New York, on January 20th, 1854. His father was
Daniel L. Weeks, and his mother Frances M. Edwards. His father
was a prosperous merchant. When the son was only thirteen years
old the family removed to Middletown and the boy continued his
studies in the high school there. In Brooklyn he had attended a
military school and, youthful as he was when he left it, he had


acquired a precision, promptness and alert bearing that were to
remain with him through life.

The boy early having shown a predilection for the finer side
of business affairs, his father decided to give him the benefit of a
training at one of the foremost institutions in the country at that
time — the Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York.
While availing himself fully of this opportunity to obtain the best
scientific knowledge, the youth also was storing his mind with those
readings and researches which go to make up broad culture, indulging
his natural taste for the best in literature and the arts. Thus, when
he was graduated in 1873, at the age of eighteen, he was equipped
for meeting life's chances as well as for assisting in the conduct of
the most exacting business affairs.

Having taken another two years to round out the period of his
adolescence and still further strengthen his mentality, he returned to
his home in Middletown, there to become its most eminent citizen.
Each step he has taken has been, however, only with the one desire
to make that step satisfactory to his conscience and to his associates.
Thus his first appointment and task was in connection with the
Connecticut Hospital for the Insane to which the State had just
begun to give special attention. He began in 1874. as an assistant
to the superintendent in the business management of the institution
— an institution in which his services as trustee through many
subsequent years have proved invaluable to the State.

But his duties directly in the office of the hospital covered
only a period of six years. In 1880, he associated himself with
George A. Coles of Middletown, and they took over the large grain
and milling business of the corporation known as Union Mills, which
they conducted imder the firm name of Coles and Weeks. For fifteen
years, Mr. Weeks' ability, integrity and always courteous manner
did much toward winning for the concern the high reputation it
enjoyed far beyond its immediate confines.

On November 4th, 1875, Mr. Weeks was married to Miss Helen
Louise Hubbard, daughter of J. Warren Hubbard of Middletown.
Their home was one of the most attractive and delightful in the
city, and in it, then as now, Mr. Weeks found his chief enjoyment.
In 1895, his personal affairs and other duties coming to claim so


much of his attention, he decided to give all his time to them and
to retire from the milling business. He is a director of the
Middletown Savings Bank and in the Middletown Mutual Assurance
Company in addition to being trustee in the Connecticut Hospital
for the Insane. He has constantly taken a deep interest in the
welfare of his community, and when the Middletown Board of Trade
was established, he was its first president. Also he served two years
in the Court of Common Council of the city.

While he always is glad to work for the public good, his recrea-
tion he prefers to find in the circle of his own home and immediate
companions. He is a member of the University Club and of the
Colonial Club of Middletown, also of the Hartford Club, and is a
charter member of the Middlesex County Historical Society, where
he indulges his love for the study of ancient times. For pastime
he likes nothing better than driving a good horse, and one only has
to see him with his horse or his dog to appreciate how deep is his
feeling for all dumb animals. He is a member of the Congregational

It was in 1895 that he first came conspicuously into the public
eye of the whole State. Governor Coffin had appointed him to
represent Connecticut at the Cotton States and International
Exposition at Atlanta. Georgia, and in the discharge of that function
he broxight great credit to the commonwealth. He was president
of the commission. In 1904, his name was upon the Eepublican
list of presidential electors for the State, and acting in tliat capacity
he cast his vote in the electoral college for Roosevelt and Fairbanks.

In the Eepublican state convention, September 8th, 1908, he was
the unanimous choice for second place on the state ticket, and this
though he never had held a state ofiBce other than as already indicated
and had had no legislative experience. But he had established a
name as a wise man and a good man, and such a man the party was
seeking. He was elected by a plurality of 40,487. From the moment
he delivered his address as presiding officer of the Senate, it was
seen that no mistake had been made in selecting him. He was the
friend of no clique, the backer of no scheme; he stood only for
square dealing, in the interests of the people. In 1909, he received
the degree of LL. D. from Wesleyan University of Middletown.


Early in the session, Governor George L. Lilley was stricken
with a severe malady. Special duties of the chief executive were
thrust upon the junior even before it was considered necessary to
formally transfer the routine work. They were days of enibarass-
ment as well as of anxiety — anxiety both for the State and for his
greatly loved friend, the Governor. The transfer made by tho
Legislature preceded by but a few days the full and complete transfer,
following the Governor's demise, April 21st, 1909. It was in the full
tide of a brilliant and energetic administration, ordained by the
people in a year of general arousing. There was no inclination on
Governor Weeks' part, when he was sworn in, either to shirk the
severe task or to be presumptuous. In every act since that day,
and often despite heavy pressure, in his public utterances, his ap-
pointments, his much applauded vetoes, his one purpose has been, as
through all his previous life, to do well that which his hands find
to do without fear or favor. Although the circumstances of his
governorship are fortuitous — and by the same token liis position
more difficult — his administration already has received the com-
mendation which is given only upon the most faithful discharge of
such trust directly imposed by the people.


AVEEILL, HEMAN OTIS, State Commissioner on Domestic
Animals, and one of Connecticut's most honored and active
Eepublicans, has held many important state and local offices,
has been a leader in industrial and agricultural affairs, and is now
Judge of Probate for the District of Wasliington, Litchfield County,
Connecticut, his birthplace and the home of his family for genera-
tions. He was born on August 20th, 1856, and represents the sixth
generation of Averills who have lived on and owned " The Averill
Homestead," which is situated on land once a part of the great
Wauramaug Reserve, owned and ruled by a former Indian chief of
that name. The land was deeded to Samuel Averill in 1746 and the
conveyance reads " County of Hartford," Litchfield County being
unknown at that time.

Mr. Averill is descended from William and Abigail Averill, who
came from Broadway, Worcestershire, England, to Ipswich, Massa-
chusetts, about 1630. The line of descent is through William (1),
William (2), Isaac (3), Samuel (4), Perry (5), a soldier in the
Eevolutionary War, Samuel (6), and Samuel Johnson (7). Samuel
(4) was the first proprietor of " The Averill Homestead " and farm.
Mr. Averill's parents were Samuel Johnson and Laura Phinette
(Piatt) Averill. His father was a farmer who held several town
offices and was state representative and a deacon in the Congrega-
tional Church. He was characterized by integrity, honesty and firm-
ness of purpose and was widely respected. By example and precept
both these worthy parents taught their son lasting lessons of frugality,
honesty and perseverance. It was their wish that their only son
remain at home and keep the ancestral farm in the family and his
great love for his parents, combining with his family pride to meet
their wishes, determined his choice of a career.

After suitable schooling in the public schools and at the Wara-
maug Academy, Heman Averill entered Oberlin College, where he
took a special course. His time outside of school was given to farm



work, which afforded few real holidays to a hoy who loved play far
better than work. Soon after he became of age he became proprietor
of the family farm. He engaged actively in dairy farming from that
time until 1903, when his son was ready to assume the management
and thus allow his father to give his whole time to his official duties.
The Averill farm is one of the most fertile and productive in Litch-
field County and is also one of the most fully equipped and ably
managed. Seventy-five bead of finely bred cattle graze on the splendid
pasturage of this historic and beautiful farm land.

In 1893 Mr. Averill was one of the organizers of the Washington
Feed and Supply Company, of which he became first secretary and
afterwards president. In April, 1909, the company was reorganized
as The Washington Supply Company, Incorporated, with Mr. Averill
as president.

It has been said of Heman 0. Averill that he has had all the
public offices he would accept for as long a time as he would hold
them. He represented Washington in the famous " deadlock " session
of 1891, and in 1895 he was state senator from the twentieth district.
He was paymaster-general on the staff of Governor George E. Louns-
bury, resigning July 1st, 1899, to accept the appointment of Commis-
sioner on Domestic Animals tendered by that governor. He has been
reappointed by all the subsequent governors.

Since 1898 he has been Judge of Probate for the District of
Washington, each election since the first being unanimous. From
1900 to 1908 he was County Director of the Connecticut Dairymen's
Association, being succeeded by his son, Ealph J. Averill.

General Averill is past master of Washington and Excelsior
Pomona Granges, P. of H., and Rising Sun Lodge, No. 27, F. and
A. M. He is fond of social life and of all sports and games. His
generous, outspoken but charitable nature has won him a wide circle
of friends throughout the state, and he is well known and prominent
at all public gatherings and conventions. He is loyal to his party,
his friends and his principles, and in return commands a general
loyalty from admirers and supporters.

On October 20th, 1881, Mr. Averill married Bertha Whcaton
Buckingham, daughter of Ealph and Elvira Buckingham, at St.
Andrew's Church, Marbledale, Connecticut. Seven children have
been born to Mr. and Mrs. Averill; six are living: Laura Buckingham,


Ralph Johnson. Clara Wheaton, Dorothy, Heman Perry, and Grace
Julia. The older sod, Ealph Johnson, is now at the head of the family
dairy-farm, having assumed that position after his graduation from
the Connecticut Agricultural College in 1903. Commissioner Averill
makes his home the year around at " The Averill Homestead," situ-
ated a thousand feet above sea level and one of the sitely estates of
the county, famed for its antique mahogany, pewter and china, for its
historic interest and beautiful environment, but still more for its
six generations of stalwart, progressive farmers who have tilled its
soil and served state and country with honor.


SHEPARD, ANDREW NELSON, state senator, business man,
and leading citizen of Portland, Connecticut, was born there
May 5th, 1862, upon the extensive farm which forms the family
homestead. His father was Nelson Shepard, one of the ablest farmers
in all that country, and his mother was Elizabeth Tryon Shepard,
daughter of Noah Tryon of Glastonbury, and related to the Welles
and HoUisters of Glastonbury. Colonel Shepard's family have been
well known in the Connecticut River valley for more than two hun-
dred years, his earliest American ancestor having been Edward
Shepard, who came from England and settled at Cambridge, Massa-
chusetts, and was made a freeman there in 1643. Andrew Nelson
Shepard is the tenth generation of descent from Edward Shepard.

Andrew N. Shepard attended the district school and later the
academy at South Glastonbury, following this with a two years' course
at Cheshire Military Academy. His vacations were spent with his
father on the farm, and as his father had made great success of raising
tobacco he naturally devoted himself to that staple. He began buying
tobacco in 1887 and this business has steadily grown until he has
large dealings with important tobacco growers in all parts of the state.
In 1888 he entered into partnership with Mr. J. F. Convey, at Gilder-
sleeve, Connecticut, for the manufacture of cigars, and in this enter-
prise he continued until 1901 when he sold his interest in the cigar
manufactory to his partner. This enterprise was entirely independent
of his principal business, the buying and packing of tobacco, which
he still continues.

Colonel Shepard's sound judgment and business ability led to his
election as director of the Freestone Savings Bank, and the First
National Bank of Portland. Naturally political honors followed busi-
ness success and he served his town as auditor for the long term of
ten years. For a decade he was a member of the board of relief.
Then he was sent for several terms to represent his community in
the General Assembly. In the Legislature Colonel Shepard made and



carried a great fight for the railroad indebted towns, securing a bill
by which the state assumed a part of the indebtedness and thus eased
the burden on many of the country towns. In 1906 Colonel Shepard
was elected to the State Senate, where he proved a very capable and
eflBcient member, aiding especially in the passage of the free bridge
bill to free the bridges across the Connecticut River. In 1909 he was
appointed by Governor Frank B. Weeks one of the commission to
construct a bridge over the Connecticut River between the towns of
Old Lyme and Saybrook.

Colonel Shepard is a vestryman in Trinity Church of Portland.
He is a member of Warren Lodge, No. 53, A. F. and A. M. ; of Wash-i
ington Commandery, No. 50, of Middletown; of Sphinx Temple,
Mystic Shrine, Hartford; of Middlesex Lodge, No. 33, of the A. 0.
XJ. W.; of Middletown Lodge, No. 771, B. P. 0. E.; and a charter
member of the Portland Lodge of Odd Fellows; a member of the
Social Club of Portland, of the Hartford Club of Hartford, and of
the Union League Club of New Haven.

On May 1st, 1889, Colonel Shepard was married in Windsor
Locks, Connecticut, to Miss Harriet Stockwell, daughter of Mr. A.
B. Stockwell, a leading business man of that place. They have two
children, Dorothea and Nelson A. Shepard.

Colonel Sliepard was a delegate to the Republican National Con-
vention, June 19th, 1908, at Chicago, and was an aide on General
Bell's staff when President Taft was inaugurated, being the only
military man from Connecticut. Colonel Shepard was appointed
commissary-general by Governor Lilley and reappointed by Governor


BLAKESLEE, DENNIS ALBERT, general contractor, ex-State
Senator, military man and a leading Republican of New
Haven, was born in that city on March 11th, 1856. His
maternal ancestors were Scotch and his paternal ancestors came from
England, both in early times. His father is Charles Wells Blakeslee,
a contractor, and his mother is Martha Jane Blakeslee, a woman of
excellent character and influence.

From the time he was " old enough to do anything " Dennis
Blakeslee had plenty of farm work to do, such as delivering milk on
foot around the neighborhood and later milking the cows and caring
for the horses. These industrious habits founded so early in life have
been of such value to him that he believes all boys should have regular
work to do. He read the current news with systematic intelligence
but found little time or opportunity for reading many books. His
education was confined to the public graded schools of his native city.

^Yhen he was sixteen years old Dennis Blakeslee started upon his
life work as a time keeper for his father on a contract in Bridgeport.
He quickly learned the contractor's business in all its details and
has spent his whole life as a general contractor. He has had many
large and important contracts and has been most successful in his
work which has been largely in connection with railroad enterprises.
He is in partnership with his father and brother Clarence in the
well-known firm of C. W. Blakeslee and Sons, Contractors, of
New Haven.

In 1880 and 1881 Mr. Blakeslee was a member of the New Haven
Common Council. From 1884 to 1890 he was fire commissioner. In
1906-1907 he was State Senator and re-elected in 1908-1909. He has
always been a loyal and influential Republican. For twenty-five
years he was a member of the Second Company, Governor's Horse
Guard, eight years of that time being major commanding.

Mr. Blakeslee is a member of the Congregational Church. He
is not affiliated with any Masonic or fraternal orders. For an in-door




recreation he enjoys card playing and for out-of-doors, baseball.
His home is at 501 George Street, New Haven, and his family con-
sists of a wife and six children. Mrs. Blakeslee's maiden name was
Lizzie F. Law and the date of tfeeir marriage was December 4th, 1878.
His children are Hattie F., Martha, Albert D., Harold L., Miles
Grant and Dorothy.

A young man, seeking true success in life, should, according to
Mr. Blakeslee's ideas, "be truthful, industrious and careful of the
company he goes iu. He should be saving and should leave intoxi-
cants alone. He should always be careful in making promises, but
after once giving his word should be sure and keep it." He also be-
lieves that as tobacco is no help to a young man and a constant expense
it is better left alone.

This practical and sage advice should make a strong appeal to
others, coming, as it does, from a man who has worked hard from
childhood, who did a man's work in youth, who had a limited educa-
tion, and who yet won success in both business and public life through
his own ability and efforts.


EGGLESTON, ARTHUR P., retired state's attorney and a
leading lawyer of Hartford, Connecticut, for many years, who
is popularly known as " a terror to all law breakers," was
bom in Enfield, Hartford County, Connecticut, October 23d, 1844.
His parents were Jere D. and Louise Carew Eggleston. Through his
father the Judge is a lineal descendant of Begat Eggleston, who
emigrated from England to Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1630, and
who settled in Windsor, Connecticut, five years later.

The life of a typical New England village was Arthur Eggleston's
experience in early boyhood. He prepared for college at Monson
Academy in Monson, Massachusetts, but interrupted his education
by enlisting in the Union army at the outbreak of the Civil War.
In 1864 he entered Williams College, where he was graduated in
1868. He had decided upon the legal profession in early boyhood
and evinced increasingly that keen judgment, common sense, grasp
of facts and thoroughness of detail that have made him widely known
as a " natural born lawyer." After leaving college he studied law
in the oflBce of Strong and Buck in Hartford.

In 1872 Arthur Eggleston was admitted to the Hartford County
Bar and began a career of unusual distinction and success. He won
his way speedily to the highest rank among lawyers through his own
energies, keen insight and relentless pursuit of evil and has earned
not only the esteem but the great gratitude of the many for his enor-
mous part in preserving high moral standards and abolishing and
punishing crime and vice. For thirty years he has been a member
of the distinguished law firm of Buck and Eggleston, the senior
member being ex- Congressman John R. Buck. For sis years Arthur
Eggleston was judge of the Hartford Police Court. From 1888 to
1908, he was state's attorney and his work in that capacity was as
effective and successful as his civil practice has been. In the office
of state's attorney he was the public protector against fraud and
evil of all kinds for a period of twenty years and his record as a terror




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to criminals and the defender of right and justice is one of the most
notable and honorable ones in Connecticut's history. He has success-
fully conducted some of the most famous, important and difficult
cases in the legal and criminal history of our state, both as a civil
lawyer and as state's attorney. Noteworthy among these were the
Taylor-Tracy murder case, the Souder-Talvin murder case, and the
prosecution of Dr. M. A. Griswold for burning the Woodbridge build-
ing on Main Street, Hartford. His great success has been insured
by his wonderful keenness in anticipating his opponent, sifting out
details, seeing through deceit and weighing evidences. In his pleas
he is sure to come quickly and forcibly to the point, to make every
possible showing of the hard, sure facts with which he is always
thoroughly prepared to bring home the truth with relentless precision
and incisive straightforwardness rather tlian by elaborate rhetoric
and fascinating eloquence. He knows human nature thoroughly and
keenly and makes sharp, telling tests and shrewd cross-examinations
that penetrate subterfuge and reveal truth and justice in the clear
white light of actuality.

Judge Eggleston retired from the office of state's attorney on
June 30th, 1908, and from the active practice of law soon afterwards.
He felt impelled to give up his practice because of ill health, and the
finality of the step is proved by the gift of his valuable and extensive

Online LibraryNorris Galpin OsbornMen of mark in Connecticut; ideals of American life told in biographies and autobiographies of eminent living Americans (Volume 6) → online text (page 1 of 26)