William C Gilman.

The celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of the town of Norwich, Connecticut, and of the incorporation of the city, the one hundred and twenty-fifth, July 4, 5, 6, 1909: online

. (page 11 of 19)
Online LibraryWilliam C GilmanThe celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of the town of Norwich, Connecticut, and of the incorporation of the city, the one hundred and twenty-fifth, July 4, 5, 6, 1909: → online text (page 11 of 19)
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ment age was reached in 1889. Thus withdrawn from the
activities of his profession during the best years of his life,
he was naturally less identified with local affairs than those
already named. It should also be remembered that in 1862
there enlisted from this town a young man of 22, who as a
boy of 9 had been brought here from his Scottish birthplace
by his widowed mother, who grew up to manhood here,
and who lived to become that honored and able and beloved
man, the late Chief Justice Torrance. Following his return
from the service he settled elsewhere, and his professional
and public successes were there achieved, but the founda-
tions of them were here firmly laid under conditions of self-
denial and struggle.

I feel that I should fail in my duty upon this occasion
if I dismissed this group of men without a fuller recognition
of the character and career of one of them. Jeremiah Halsey
was a born lawyer. Nature endowed him with her choicest
gifts of intellect and character, and he assiduously devoted
his many years of life to the service of his profession. No
one would have acknowledged more cheerfully his primacy
at this bar than the ablest among his contemporaries. He
was the ideal product of the rural life which bred him, and
of the life here which contributed to fashion him. In my
youth I was taught to think that all the noblest qualities of
manhood, and the highest legal erudition were met in him.
The personal observations of my later years have not caused
me to essentially modify this early impression. And the
verdict of those of his contemporaries, the state over, who
were best qualified to judge, was to the same general effect.
Was ever a man more simple in his life and manner, more


pure and sweet in his living, more gentle and sympathetic
in his spirit, more unselfish and helpful in his conduct? He
went in and out among this people as humbly as the hum-
blest of them. And yet he must have known that he pos-
sessed a power within himself and wielded an influence
over others which was rare indeed. The secrets of that
power and influence are not hard to discover. His vision
was clear and profound. He knew how to analyze correctly,
to discriminate justly and to reason soundly and honestly.
He was not an orator in the ordinary sense of that term.
But his power of simple, direct expression, his ability to
arrange and array facts and propositions and his luminous-
ness of statement were such as to make him a master in
the presence of either court or jury. To these gifts he
added the superlative one of character. He carried the high
ideals of his private life into his professional labors. His
conscience accepted no retainers. It was simply impossible
for him to dissemble, deceive, or be unfair and unfrank.
Casuistry he knew not. Artful practices and tricks, all too
common, he scorned. This everybody knew could not help
knowing. The result was that he came to exercise an
influence in this region, and to occupy a position at the bar
of this state which few indeed could claim to share with

No enumeration of the men in whose achievements
Norwich has taken a just pride would be complete which
did not include those of her sons by birth or adoption, who
have won for themselves during the half century just closed
high place in the field of letters or as educators, journalists
or publicists. Upon this roll of honor belong the names of
Donald G. Mitchell and President Daniel Coit Oilman, both
born here ; Edmund Clarence Stedman. who passed most of
his younger years here, and began his life work as the editor
of the Norwich Tribune; President William J. Tucker of
Dartmouth, born in Griswold, but soon coming with his
father to Norwich ; Isaac H. Bromley, already referred to,
and David A. Wells, who passed the later years of his life
among yon.


We have thus far only incidentally touched upon the
events of the last twenty-five or thirty years. As I am
bound not to forget the role in which I appear, I do not
feel at liberty to pass them by wholly unnoticed. But they
belong so nearly to the things of today, and so many of the
chief actors in them are of the living present, that I feel
constrained to refrain from further comments upon men,
and to confine the little which I feel obliged not to omit
to a barren recital of those happenings which possess that
public importance and interest which entitle them to a place
in a record of the time, however fragmentary.

The limits of the city have been extended four times,
and those of the town once. In 1874 the Greeneville sec-
tion was added to the city, as were Laurel Hill and Boswell-
ville in 1875. In 1901 the western portion of the town of
Preston was taken into both the town and city, and in 1907
that portion of Mohegan park which lay without the city
limits was included in them. In 1870 the completion of the
city's fine water supply system, work upon which had been
begun in 1867, was fittingly celebrated, and on July 4 Presi-
dent Grant honored the city with a visit, and received the
enthusiastic welcome of its people. The same year the first
street railway line was built. It extended from Greeneville
to Bean Hill. It was electrified in 1892, and since that time
radiating lines have been constructed furnishing direct and
convenient communication with a large portion of eastern
Connecticut. In 1904 the city became the owner of its
lighting plant. The year 1873 saw the occupation of the
combined court, town and city building, which during the
last year or two has been undergoing the process of enlarge-
ment to meet the increasing demands upon it. The spring
of this same year also witnessed the erection at the head of
the Great Plain of the monument to the memory of the
soldiers and sailors of the Civil war. This theater was
opened in 1890. The following year the Otis library was
made free, and in 1892 enlarged, and thus the way prepared
for the invaluable work it is now doing. The year 1893 was
made memorable by the completion of the William W.


Backus hospital, for whose beautiful location, admirable
plant and ample endowment Norwich owes an inestimable
debt of gratitude to Mr. Backus and to that most generous
of her sons, William A. Slater. In 1894 the Masonic temple
was dedicated, and in 1905 the new post office was opened.

An untoward event of the last few months impels me
to depart from my resolve to remain silent concerning those
who have been participants in the activities and life of this
people during the more recent years. I knew Frank T.
Brown at the Academy and at Yale. It was my privilege
to continue my acquaintance with him, and to observe his
career during the years which have since passed. I saw his
steady progress in his profession, and in the confidence of
all who knew him until the time had come when he could,
without presumption, claim to be the peer of the select few
best lawyers of the state, when his professional brethren
cheerfully recognized his right to that high position, and
when the rewards of such a reputation were coming to
him. His foot was already upon the topmost round of the
ladder, and he had justified his right by virtue of both ability
and character, to assume the succession to Strong and
Halsey and continue that notable line, when the end came.
The loss to a community like this of a man of such abilities,
such force, such character, such courage for the right and
such public spirit is one which it is hard to measure. Who
is there that, taking heed of his example and of that of those
whom he followed, shall prove himself worthy to follow

The year 1859 saw this town a group of approximately
14,000 persons. They were, as I have already had occasion
to notice, largely of the old New England stock, and retained
to a striking degree the strong and sturdy characteristics of
their inheritance. Their homes were scattered over a terri-
tory which Providence had lavishly endowed with its gifts
of natural beauty. Towering hill looked out upon towering
hill, and down upon fertile valleys and gentle rivers. Wood-
land and rock and meadow in striking contrast added diver-
sity to the scene. Many of these homes were of historic


interest, and carried one's thoughts back to the early days.
The principal thoroughfares were lined in profusion with
attractive houses set in generous spaces which bespoke the
taste, the prosperity and the comfort which characterized
the life within. The symbols of prosperity, content and
happiness were disclosed on every hand. It was easy to
discover the dominating presence of the typical New
England character and thrift. The homes of the lowly as
well as those of the comparatively rich told the same story.
For miles about lay a thriving farming community which
looked to Norwich as its business, social and political center.
Its members were of the same New England stock and type.
From this source Norwich was drawing, and had long
drawn, not only the material advantages of trade, but also,
what was of infinitely more value, a constant reinforcement
of the best sort of its business, professional and social

Fifty years have passed. They have been eventful ones,
and have witnessed great changes in the business, industrial
and social life of this country. Material prosperity has
abounded; the spheres of business activity have wonder-
fully broadened; industrial growth and expansion has been
marvelous, and populations have multiplied and centralized
as never before in our history. Many centers of population
have increased in numbers and been transformed in charac-
ter so as to be scarcely recognizable. Riches have been
amazingly multiplied, and have fallen to the lot of very
many who had not been trained to their use. Extravagance
and display have set their alluring examples in many quar-
ters, making simple and unostentatious living harder and
less common than it used to be. New standards of various
sorts have come to supplant the old, and former ideals have
given place to others. The changes which have taken place,
however, have been by no means uniform. Cities have
prospered and increased, where country has not to the same
extent, or not at all. Some cities have thriven and grown
almost in spite of themselves, where others have had to plod
their way to larger things. Some communities have found


wealth dropping into their laps with the minimum of effort,
while others have been obliged to win their achievements
by persistent endeavor. Nature's bounty has not been the
same to all sections ; the advantages of location have not
been uniform ; and the facilities of transportation, which
have played a large part in industrial and business history,
have not been shared in equal measure. Norwich has not
found itself the beneficiary of some great natural deposit
of coal, iron ore, oil, gas, copper or gold to contribute to
the expansion of its industries, the increase of its popula-
tion and its accumulation of wealth. It has not found itself
the center of some great industrial development. It has not
been favored by exceptional transportation facilities. The
great lines of railway passed it by on either hand. It has
thus been left without those aids to growth which certain
other places have in greater or less degree enjoyed, and it
has been compelled to rely for the most part upon the re-
sources and energy of its people for what it has attained.
The situation, however, has not been without its compensa-
tions. Success won by effort is blessed in the winning. It
is blessed in the character it develops, and in the type of
manhood it creates. And there has been success. Of this
there are evidences on every hand, and the fact that the
population has practically doubled within the last fifty
years amply attests it. But the conditions have not been
such as to invite a heterogeneous population of all sorts and
kinds to the extent and of the character found in some other
localities. Sudden wealth has not come to many, and to
many unfit to use it. The new rich do not infest its streets
and knock at the door of its society. What has come has
been earned, and in the earning the stability, the solidity
and the strength of the old days has not been dissipated.
The dignity of the simple life in its best sense has not been
lost sight of; nor the standards and ideals of the former
days forgotten. There has been retained a closer touch
with the country than is common with cities. The ranks of
its trade and its professions have been recruited very largely
from the surrounding farms and villages, and that influence


has been a constantly powerful and wholesome one. The
best blood of the country round about, and the most of it
the blood of a New England ancestry, has flowed to this
center to invigorate its life. As a result of all these influ-
ences and conditions Norwich, it seems to me, is today
more truly representative of the old New England spirit,
and better typifies the life and thought and sterling charac-
ter of the fathers than any other large and growing center
of population of my acquaintance.

She now enters upon another half century of her his-
tory. What the future will bring forth we know not. But
I can conceive of no nobler ambition for her sons no wor-
thier standard for them to set up than that they remain
true to the ideals of the past which are their inheritance,
and that they continue untarnished the record of high
minded endeavor which has marked her history hitherto.

The interesting allusions of Judge Prentice to events
and persons within the remembrance of many of his hearers
were listened to with deep interest.

A hymn,

"Like boulders, down an alien land,
Our fathers moved before Thy Hand;
And on the foothills of the free
They rise memorial to Thee,"

composed for the occasion by Margaret W. Fuller, with
original music by Frederick W. Lester, was then sung by
the choir, and received warm applause from the audience.

The words and music are printed in full on following



1. Like boulders down an al - ien land Our fathers moved before Thy hand; and

I i


on the foot-hills of the free They rise me-mo-ri - al to Thee. What

fixed their choice on bar-ren slope? Or in a wil - derness their hope? Lone

i i fcz^ L 4t^H"fH^

-p-fr r P [ i i r r; r i i i ~^~


boulders wrench'd from heedless sod They moved before un - err -ing God.

Moulder of men ! their faith was plain Thou bro ugh test them : Didst Thou sustain ?Their

Poem copyright, 1909, by MARGARET W. FULLER


shad-ow is the garden close Where safely spreads the grateful Rose.The

r^f-J L*-rf

foot -less a- ges drift like sandjWe come, we go nor un - derstand:Yet


- a-HB*- 1 ) -i
^ *3-

ores. . . . ">

- J- | i^ |



sure as light grows with the morn The souls that trust in Thee live on. Oh

God, our fa-thers' God, whom we call Fa-ther, Thou our Fa-ther be! And

I crea.

i-f- , IT-J-* h-r

X ~

t=f==3=3=3=* gubts




let Thy childrens' children stand Me - mo - rials of Thy guid-ing hand.




Edmund Clarence Stedman's poem, The Inland City,
was then read by the Rev. Dr. Pratt, and verses written by
the Rev. Anson G. Chester for the celebration were read
by Henry A. Tirrell.

The exercises at the theater closed with the singing
of "My Country, 'tis of Thee" by the choir and audience,
accompanied by the band.

An organ recital in Broadway church by R. Huntington
Woodman, formerly of Norwich, followed the literary exer-
cises, and in the afternoon and evening concerts were given
by Tubbs' military band on the reviewing stand and at
Union square.

After several attempts that were not entirely success-
ful in consequence of high winds, Capt. Baldwin made an
ascension in his airship at about six o'clock on Tuesday
afternoon, and, after rising to a height of perhaps a thousand
feet above the fair grounds, circled about for ten minutes
to the gratification of an admiring crowd.

In the evening a flotilla of thirty or forty power boats,
canoes and other craft, beautifully decorated with Japanese
lanterns, paraded on the Thames river, which was enlivened
by music from Tubbs' band on the steamboat Sightseer.

This ended the third and last day of the celebration.

Invitations and Badges.

The invitation committee issued a beautifully engraved
invitation, embellished with a view of Norwich as it ap-
peared in 1859 from a point on the Thames river, and with
devices embossed in colors representing the flag of the city
and the Rose of New England. The invitation was in these
words :


Welcomes home her children.

On July fifth and sixth, nineteen hundred and nine

Norwich, Connecticut, will celebrate the

Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary

of the Founding of the Town,

and the One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth

of the Incorporation of the City.


It is earnestly desired that all who by ties of birth,
ancestry or former residence are connected with our town
shall unite in this celebration. Now in behalf of the Citizens
of Norwich we extend a cordial invitation to you and yours
to come home and join us in making the event one that shall
long be remembered in the history of the Old Town of

The Invitation Committee,

William H. Shields, Chairman.

The committee also provided an elaborate silk badge,
nine inches long and two inches wide, woven in red, white,
blue and gold colors, decorated with United States flags and
a full-blown rose, and suspended from a gold bar. The
badge, which of course cannot be reproduced here, bore
these words woven in silk :



"The Rose of New England"

Founding of the Town

1 25th Anniversary
Incorporation of the City

July 5th & 6th, 1909.

Good Old Norwich ! How I love thee

Love thy strong and massive hills;
Love the rushing of thy rivers

And the babbling of thy rills ;
Love thy rocks that rise like bastions,

And the vales that stretch below ;
Love thy summers with their sunshine

And thy winters with their snow ;


Love thy cedars, such as furnished

Unto Lebanon its fame;
Love the glories of thy landscapes,

And the glory of thy name ;
As a mother loves her darlings,

As a sailor loves the sea,
As a woman loves her idols,

So, dear Norwich, love I thee.

Anson G. Chester, 1859.

Besides this were smaller silk badges with medallions
for the members of the various committees.

Loan Exhibition.

During the celebration Faith Trumbull Chapter, D. A.
R., maintained in the Converse Art Gallery a large and in-
teresting exhibition of antique furniture, porcelain, silver,
pictures, and other objects of historic value which attracted
much attention. The catalogue, in part, will appear in the

Greetings from Old Norwich.

The following cablegram was received on the second
day of the celebration :

Norwich, England, July 5, 1909.
Gilbert S. Raymond,

Secretary of Anniversary Celebration Committee,
Norwich, Conn., U. S. A.

City of Norwich sends hearty congratulations to
American daughter on her attaining 250 years.

(Signed) Walter Rye, Mayor.

To this friendly greeting a suitable reply was returned
by the Secretary.


Statement of Receipts and Disbursements of Charles W.
Gale, Treasurer Norwich Celebration.

Receipts :

Town of Norwich $ 5,000.00

City of Norwich 1,000.00

Sale of Seats on Reviewing Stand 508.00

Sale of Invitations and Magazines 200.00

Sale of Badges 590.60

Returned by D. A. R 22.31

Returned by Amusement Committee 144.06

General Subscriptions 8,510.50


Disbursements :

Executive Committee $ 5,079.18

Invitation Committee 400.81

Committee on Literary Exercises 22.85

Finance Committee 444-4O

Amusement Committee 2,088.15

Music Committee 1,584.58

Fireworks Committee 1,403.82

Publicity Committee 561.32

Decoration Committee 2,146.48

Hospitality Committee 1,178.88

Ways and Means Committee 43-^5

Band Stand Committee 87.70

Reviewing Stand Committee 500.00

Balance turned over to The Centennial Publish-
ing Co 433-65



The people of Norwich, looking back after the lapse of
more than two years, may well congratulate themselves in
sober second thought that their celebration was a complete
success. Favored by the weather, and by the presence of
distinguished guests, and by a great concourse of visiting
friends and strangers, there was no disorder and no accident
to mar the pleasure of the occasion. While varied enter-
tainments were provided for all sorts and conditions of men,
and while the celebration was universally observed as a
joyous festival, its dignified character raised it far above
the level of a carnival or a boisterous holiday.

It was an occasion of general happiness, of pious re-
membrance of the brave men and women who came to make
a hazard of new fortunes in this unknown land two hundred
and fifty years ago, to establish here homes and schools and
churches, to plant fields and orchards, to build roads and
bridges, and to lay foundations broad and deep whereon
succeeding generations have continued to build. It was an
occasion of devout thanksgiving that to those who are here
living upon the earth the lines have fallen in pleasant places,
and that theirs is a goodly heritage; an occasion of high
resolve that here shall be maintained the best traditions of
the Fathers.

When the Fathers came hither the wilderness and the
solitary places were glad for them, and the wild Rose of
New England, which they found in its native soil and sus-
tained with their fostering care, continues to grow and
blossom in perennial beauty. And so, contemplating the
past with serene satisfaction, those who now occupy the
stage may say, "God speed the coming generations," su-
premely confident that, under Divine protection, Norwich
will be happier and brighter and better in the next half
century because it is their dwelling place.



Official Program

of the
25oth Anniversary of the Founding of the Town

and the
1 2 5th Anniversary of the Incorporation

of the City
July 4, 5, and 6, 1909.

Sunday, July 4, 1909.

Historical sermons will be delivered in the churches at
their usual hour of service.

The graves in the old town burying ground at Norwich
Town and the Mason monument will be decorated.

In the afternoon at 4 o'clock there will be a memorial
service in the old burying ground at Norwich Town, as
follows :

Welcome in the Name of the Founders, Dr. F. P.

Invocation Rev. George H. Ewing of the First Con-
gregational church.

Address Rev. Lewellyn Pratt, D.D.

Address Rev. Charles A. Northrop.

Frederick W. Lester and a choir of selected voices will
lead in the singing of several old hymns.

At 5 o'clock an organ recital will be given in the old
First church by H. L. Yerrington, assisted by G. Avery
Ray, tenor.

Monday, July 5, 1909.

At sunrise, 4.31 a. m., all the bells in the city will ring
for half an hour.

At 9 a. m. The first ascension of the airship, "The
California Arrow," owned and operated by Capt. Thomas
Scott Baldwin, will take place, at the New London County


Fair Grounds. The flight will be made over the entire city
so that all may have a good view. This will be the first
ascension of an airship in the state. At the same time and
place the athletic events will be held.

Upon the entry of the President into the city, at about
9.45 a. m., the Presidential salute of twenty-one guns will
be fired by a battery on Geer's hill.

At 10 a. m. In the lot back of the Norwich Club
House, entrance through the Joseph Perkins road or at
the upper end of McKinley avenue, there will be presented
a series of Historical Reproductions consisting of scenes of
the early Indian life, the signing of the deed by Uncas and
the Founders, the visit of Washington during the Revolu-
tionary War, the return of the soldiers from the Civil War ;
the present to be represented by Coast Artillery and the
future personified by 500 school children. The Putnam
Phalanx will also give a parade drill.

At 12 o'clock a reception will be tendered the President,
the distinguished guests and the officials of the celebration

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryWilliam C GilmanThe celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of the town of Norwich, Connecticut, and of the incorporation of the city, the one hundred and twenty-fifth, July 4, 5, 6, 1909: → online text (page 11 of 19)