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 7 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 7 of 19)
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Major John Mason was a great man and he had a son-
in-law, James Fitch, a minister of the gospel in this town
for forty years, who was a good man ; and there were in
those thirty-five men in whose name the nine miles square
\vere given by Uncas, men of bone and sinew fit to meet
the tremendous trials of those early days.

Then you came to the revolutionary time and you
were not wanting, for out of the descendants of your first
settlers you furnished great force to that which was needed
to separate this country from England. And then again
in the Civil War you furnished much more than your quota,
and the names of the men who marched out from Norwich
would have done credit to many a larger city with a much
greater population to draw from.

One of the things that the history of this town suggests
is the character of the government that you had here in the
early days. Like that of the government of other New England
towns, but perfect in its way, it was almost a theocracy.
The minister, James Fitch, was not alone a minister of the
gospel as we know him to-day, exercising a beneficent
influence in the community, but he spoke by authority, the
state was behind him, and the men and women of the com-
munity were obliged to conform to the rules of morality
and life which he laid down.


We speak with great satisfaction of the fact that our
ancestors and I claim New England ancestry came to
this country in order to establish freedom of religion. Well,
if you are going to be exact, they came to this country to
establish freedom of their religion and not the freedom of
anybody else's religion. The truth is in those days- such
a thing as freedom of religion was not understood. Eras-
mus, the great Dutch professor, one of the most elegant
scholars of his day, did understand it and did advocate it but
among the denominations it certainly was not fully under-
stood. We look with considerable horror and with a great
deal of condemnation on those particular denominations
that punished our ancestors because our ancestors wished
to have a different kind of religion, but when our ancestors
got here in this country and ruled they intended to have
their own religion and no other. But we have passed
beyond that and out of the friction. Out of the denomina-
tional prejudices in the past we have developed a freedom
of religion that came naturally and logically as we went on
to free institutions. It came from those very men who
built up your community and made its character. The
Rev. James Fitch could not look upon any other religion in
this community with any degree of patience, but his
descendants, firm in the faith as he was, now see that the
best way to promote Christianity and the worship of God
and religion is to let every man worship God as he chooses.
This community was well supervised by the clergy, and did
well by the clergy. The Rev. James Fitch, after fourteen
years at Saybrook, came here and presided in the First
Church for forty more years. I have heard clergymen say
that after a clergyman passes his fiftieth year he ought to be
made emeritus and step out of the profession. They did
not say so in those days. There was an authority about a
minister of the gospel that meant a good deal more than
mere persuasiveness, and the clergyman's authority is one
that seems to cultivate a long life.

The Rev. James Fitch was succeeded by Dr. Benjamin
Lord and he was succeeded by Dr. Strong, all of the same


church, and the Doctors Lord and Strong presided together,
including six years when they were both ministers of this
town, one hundred and seventeen years. Now think of
the influence in a community of God-fearing men with force
of character, with power to condemn wrong and uphold
right, and then you can understand, how Norwich has sur-
vived and preserved an individuality.

Major Mason was a statesman. He was deputy
governor. His chief was Governor Winthrop and Governor
Winthrop, while Major Mason presided over the colony of
Connecticut, went to London and found King Charles the II
in such good humor that he got that far-famed charter to
Connecticut. They said that Charles II was a monarch who
never said a foolish thing and never did a wise one. Whethei
it was wise for him or not, the charter of Connecticut that
he gave, with its principles of free institutions and its lati-
tude to the people of Connecticut in carrying on their
goverment, was certainly from our standpoint a wise act,
and I don't wonder that when they tried to get it away
they put it in that oak where it was not found.

The truth is, my dear friends, we hear a great deal of
discussion of free government and references made to the
declaration of independence which this day celebrates. And
some people so construe that instrument that they would
make it mean that any body of men or children or women
are born with the instinct of self-government so that they
can frame a government as soon as they begin to talk.
Now, that is not true. Self-government has been fought
out in the history of this world and by certain races has
been hammered out by a thousand years of struggle and
men have taught themselves how to govern themselves.
Men are not fit to govern themselves until they have sense
and self-restraint enough to know what is their interest and
to give every other man all that is coming to him according
to right and justice.

Now, what is true with respect, therefore, to our ances-
tors is now true with respect to many races in this world.
They have to be led on and taught the principle and lesson


of self-government. But our ancestors, by a wise negligence
in the home government for nearly two hundred years, came
to be the best prepared people there were in the world for
self-government. Take the town of Norwich and see how
those thirty-five men and the people who followed them
made up a government; how they were conscious of the
responsibility that they took upon themselves when they
attempted a government themselves, and how they carried
on an orderly government, a government of liberty, regu-
lated by law. So it was in every town in the thirteen
colonies. They were all men of strength of individuality,
of self-restraint, and they knew what it cost to build up a
government and maintain it ; and when on the 4th of July,
1776, they declared their independence of Great Britain,
they did it with reluctance and with hesitation because they
knew the tremendous burden on their backs, and they knew
the responsibilities that they owed to the world and that
they owed to the people for whom they were making the

No better example of the character of those men who
made that declaration of independence and who subsequent-
ly framed the constitution of the United States could be
found than right here among your representatives of the
town of Norwich. Your selectmen, your leaders, had the
education and the experience that fitted them, as all the
Americans of that day were fitted, to organize and maintain
a civil government and preserve the free institutions and
liberty regulated by law.

Now you have stood and looked at the procession so
long that your eyes are strained and I do not mean to strain
your ears. I wish again to testify to the profound pleasure
I have had in studying the history of the town of Norwich,
of going over the characters of your great men and of
realizing that the strength of your community the char-
acter of your community is in the character of the men
that made it up ; and I doubt not that right here under these
beautiful elms, and in these houses, so many of which
preserve the memories of the past, there is the same respect

Calvin H. Frisbie's automobile. First Prize.

C. Morgan Williams' automobile. Second Prize.


for virtue, for individual character, for honesty, for freedom
and for law that was left to you as a legitimate legacy from
the ancestors whose memory you honor to-day.

At the conclusion of his address the President, accom-
panied by the Governor and his staff, was escorted to the
Buckingham Memorial, where he held a public reception for
an hour in the large parlor, while Hatch's band of Hartford,
played patriotic airs in front of the building. Among the
two thousand people who paid their respects were United
States Senators Bulkeley and Brandegee and Representative
Higgins. After this ceremony he returned to the home of
Mr. Williams for a family dinner party, and, after witness-
ing from Jail hill the display of fire-works, was driven
quietly to the special night train that conveyed him to New
York en route for the ter-centenary celebration on Lake

In the afternoon of Monday, John Mitchell, as the guest
of the Central Labor Union, was applauded at several
points in the procession, in which he appeared as the head
of the representatives of organized labor, and afterwards he
delivered an address at the band stand in Union Square
before an audience of several hundred persons, to whom
he was presented by Dr. Harriman.

A magnificent display of fire-works on Rogers hill
opposite the railroad station closed the second day of the
Norwich quarter-millennial celebration.

The public events of the third and last day of the
celebration began at half past eight o-clock with an exhibi-
tion drill and parade by the fire department under Fire
Chief Howard L. Stanton, and an automobile parade an
hour later. These events interested a large number of
spectators who thronged the principal streets.

Memorial Fountain.

An interesting feature of the two hundred and fiftieth
anniversary was the presentation by Faith Trumbull chap-


ter, Daughters of the American Revolution, to the city of a
memorial drinking fountain of Westerly granite, in com-
memoration of the gift of the Little Plain to the city of
Norwich by Capt. Hezekiah Perkins and Hon. Jabez Hunt-
ington, in 1811. There was a pleasing order of exercises
attending the presentation, which were enjoyed by fully
2,000 people. On an elevated platform were past state
regents, those who took part in the exercises, and Jonathan
Trumbull and Gen. William A. Aiken. Directly in front
were chairs for the members of Faith Trumbull chapter and
visiting Daughters, and chairs were reserved for Governor
Weeks and his staff.

The regular exercises were commenced with rendition
of the "Star Spangled Banner," which was followed with
an invocation by Rev. Lewellyn Pratt, D.D.

Mrs. Elizabeth B. Buel of Litchfield, the state regent,
then extended greeting in part as follows:
Madame Regent, Madame Honorary State Regent, mem-
bers of Faith Trumbull chapter, citizens of Norwich and
guests :

It is my happy privilege to-day to bring greetings from
the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution, to
Faith Trumbull chapter and to ancient Norwich on this
impressive occasion. To reach the distinction of a 25oth
anniversary has not yet been the good fortune of many of
our towns, though we trust that it is in store for all, even
as many a happy couple looks forward to some golden
wedding as the culmination of a long life of good deeds.

It only remains to offer my heart-felt congratulations
to beautiful Norwich upon this event so soon to become
one of the brightest pages in her already notable history,
and to say to Faith Trumbull chapter, Ye have fought the
good fight of faith faith in the principles of that society
which you are honoring in your patriotic action of to-day;
faith in the principles of human generosity and unselfishness
which you are memorializing to-day; and faith in all those
qualities that made Faith Trumbull a woman to be loved,


a patriot to be honored, and an example to be followed ; and
thus, in your high endeavors does Faith Trumbull live again
in these her Daughters fighting even yet the good fight of

At the conclusion of Mrs. Buel's greeting Ebenezer
Learned sang the "Connecticut State Hymn," written by the
blind composer, Fanny J. Crosby, and adopted by the state
legislature as the state hymn. The assemblage joined in
the chorus and Hatch's band accompanied.

Presentation of Fountain.

Mrs. Ellen M. R. Bishop made the presentation of the
fountain to the city through Mayor Costello Lippitt, and

Honorable Costello Lippitt, Mayor of the City of Norwich,
and Friends:

Representing the members of Faith Trumbull chapter,
Daughters of the American Revolution, it is my privilege
in their name to present to the city of Norwich, through you,
its representative, this memorial fountain.

The national society of the D. A. R. was organized
eighteen years ago for patriotic, historical and educational
purposes. Inspired by the high ideals of the society to
which it belongs, Faith Trumbull chapter has continued the
work which was inaugurated in Norwich by its former
citizens who erected monuments to the memory of Capt.
John Mason, Uncas, Miantonomo, and to the donors of
Chelsea Parade Joseph Perkins, Thomas Fanning and
Joshua Lathrop.

We have, with the invaluable aid of the late George S.
Porter, been able to identify and mark the last resting place
of the little band of French soldiers who came to this
country as a part of the army of General Lafayette and who
were buried in unmarked and almost forgotten graves at
Norwich Town.

We have placed upon enduring bronze the names of
the Revolutionary soldiers whose dust lies in the Old Bury-


ing Ground. We have also marked in granite some of the
historic Revolutionary houses, and now we have put in
permanent form our tribute to the memory of two men
whose deed of generosity in the year 1811 had at least few
duplicates. It is comparatively easy to follow where others
lead, but Hezekiah Perkins and Jabez Huntington were
among those who led that others might follow.

Though but the brief space of one hundred years has
elapsed since they gave this land to Norwich, we find it
difficult to gather many facts about their daily lives.

They lived as respected citizens in the two houses at
our left, now occupied by Mrs. Charles M. Coit and Mrs. H.
H. Osgood, and their descendants bear testimony that they
were Christian men, and the records show that they were
men of business ability, Jabez Huntington being the second
president of the Norwich Savings Society, which after the
lapse of one hundred years is so ably represented here
to-day in the person of Mayor Lippitt. But the deed of
generosity which gave to Norwich this open space will be
their memorial when other facts concerning their lives are

How far-reaching their influence has been, none can
tell; the same spirit that prompted them to benefit their
native town has also influenced other citizens to give Laurel
Hill park, the large tract of land now known as Mohegan
park, and the fair Lowthorpe meadows.

Magnificent gifts have been made all over the land for
park purposes, but we place our memorial fountain
reverently upon this little plot given by men who were
among the pioneers in this movement.

While we perpetuate the memory of these two whose
love for their fellow men prompted this gift, let us, as we
enjoy this grateful shade, not forget George B. Ripley, who
lived in the third house below at our left, now occupied by
his daughters, the Misses Ripley. He too, loved his fellow
men and with desire to serve them outlined the park with
young trees, thus beautifying the gift of Mr. Perkins and
Mr. Huntington.


We as a chapter in this public way wish to thank all
of our friends and the descendants of these two gentlemen
who have contributed liberally toward our fountain fund,
and we would also thank Mayor Lippitt and the city officials
who have on this 25oth anniversary set young trees to re-
place those planted by Mr. Ripley which are now suffering
from blight and must soon die.

Fifty years hence, when others gather under the shade
of these trees as we do to-day, may they receive fresh in-
spiration from us, as we from those who have preceded us,
and so the influence of those who have gone before repeat
itself for good in the generations to follow.

Miss Mary Lanman Huntington, grand-daughter of
Jabez Huntington, and Miss Helen Lathrop Perkins, great
grand-daughter of Hezekiah Perkins, then proceeded to
the fountain, about three hundred feet from the speakers'
stand, and removing the stars and stripes, revealed the
granite fountain with bubbling drinking tubes and with
drinking bowls on the lower sides for dogs and birds.

This ceremony over, Mrs. Bishop, continuing, said :
Mayor Lippitt : In your custody and that of the city of
Norwich we place our memorial fountain. May it, like
this open space and these trees, prove a blessing to the
children who play here from early spring to late fall; to
the visitors who come in increasing numbers to our city and
loiter in this park; to the lovers who occupy its benches,
and to those who come from the heated quarters of the
town and spend their summer evenings here.

It is not a large gift which we leave with you to-day,
but we hope that in the dispensing of one of God's free gtlts
to the public it may bring unalloyed comfort.

Mayor Lippitt accepted the gift in behalf of the city in
the following words:
Mrs. Bishop and Ladies of Faith Trumbull Chapter:

We rejoice that there are not only "Sons" but also
"Daughters" of the American Revolution, equally patriotic


the one with the other; and that in these "piping times of
peace," when there are no rude alarms of war, no call for
them to make clothing and send supplies to the soldiers at
the front or nurse the sick and wounded in hospitals, they
can and do commemorate their illustrious deeds in enduring
bronze and granite.

That also they recognize the service of those public
spirited citizens who with generous forethought have long
ago learned the great truth that the highest happiness to
be gotten out of life is secured by contributing to the com-
fort and happiness of others.

With that purpose you have gathered here to-day to
perpetuate with this beautiful fountain, in close proximity
to their former homes, the memory of those honored
citizens, Hezekiah Perkins and Jabez Huntington, who gave
this "open space" for the comfort and enjoyment of present
and future generations.

In the name and in behalf of the city of Norwich, which
I have the distinguished honor to represent, I gratefully
accept your beautiful and appropriate memorial gift, with
the assurance that it will be to all who shall hereafter enjoy
its "unalloyed comfort" not only a perpetual reminder of
the generous donors of this Little Plain but also of the
loyalty and patriotic zeal of the ladies of Faith Trumbull
Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.

Rev. Edwin W. Bishop, D.D., a native of Norwich, now
of Oak Park, 111., was presented by the Regent of Faith
Trumbull chapter, and said, in part:

Madame Regent, Daughters of the American Revolution,
Fellow Countrymen and Fellow Townsmen :

These days through which we are now passing are full
of intense interest to every inhabitant and to every native
son and daughter of this beautiful city, rightly called "The
Rose of New England." With its princely streets and
stately elms alas! that so many which used to be yonder
are no more with its dignified homes, with its magnificent
schools and with its splendid traditions that root back into


a great historic past, Norwich is the fond mother of proud
sons and daughters who at this time throng back to do her
honor and reverence.

Fellow townsmen, I bring to you to-day the greetings
of the great west as voiced in the well known words of

Oh the east is east and the west is west
And never the twain shall meet,

Till earth and sky stand presently before God's judgment

But there is neither east nor west,
Nor border, nor breed, nor birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
Though they come from the ends of the earth.

Norwich has been particularly favored in the past by
numbering among its citizens a goodly fellowship of public
spirited men. Such time honored names as Perkins, Hunt-
ington, Blackstone, Lanman, Slater and many others would
have been a goodly heritage for any city. These men were
not satisfied merely to live in the present, but they builded
for the future. They were men of vision ; and true states-
manship, whether national or local, is always a result of
vision, for where there is no vision, according to a very old
book, the people perish. Given vision, however, and untold
generations will rise up and call you blessed.

One of the crowning glories of Norwich is that it has
had men of vision. We are standing on a little plot of
ground familiarly known as the Little Plain. We may not
all be aware that we are here to-day because of the vision
of two public spirited citizens in the hoary past Captain
Hezekiah Perkins and Jabez Huntington who were
pioneers in a movement which has resulted in large gifts of
land for similar purposes since. Up at the end of this street
stands an institution of which every citizen and son of
Norwich is proud. She may not be the greatest in Israel,
but along with Daniel Webster referring to Dartmouth
College, there be those of us that have reason to love her.
Many of us have lit our lamps with her oil and fed at her


table. Why this Free Academy with her honored traditions
and inspiring history? Because of the vision quality in Dr.
John P. Gulliver and others with him who saw and dared to
follow what they saw a vision !

Here on this Little Plain which has not echoed to the
tramp of armed feet so much as the Great Plain yonder,
dedicated therefore in the atmosphere of peace for the pur-
poses of peace, the Faith Trumbull chapter of the Daughters
of the American Revolution have conceived in vision of
this added aesthetic attraction to the public architecture of
Norwich, while at the same time ministering to our humble
creature needs. It is altogether fitting that this memorial
to Captain Hezekiah Perkins and Jabez Huntington,
planned by women, should be just what it is, not a statue
or a memorial window, but a fountain of generosity which
will stand here, not to be ministered unto, but to minister
and to give of its cool delights for the service of many.
And to me not the least significant feature is the provision
whereby not only mankind but also the small animal may
slake his thirst.

Daughters of the American Revolution, may the
knowledge that you have ministered to the needs of even the
humblest of earth's creatures be to you a source of genuine

As I come back to my native heath from time to time,
and especially as I come back this time, I am reminded that,
like the Apostle Paul, I too was once a citizen of no mean

From Greeneville to the West Side and from Laurel
Hill to Norwich Town, may the name of old Norwich be
kept ever bright because the visions of her sons shall equal
the visions of their sires and the virtue and the service of
her daughters shall be in no wise inferior to the virtues
and the service of the matrons of the past ! God bless the
state of Connecticut, and doubly bless old Norwich !

The closing address by Mrs. Sara T. Kinney of Hart-
ford, honorary state regent of the Connecticut Society,
Daughters of the American Revolution, was as follows:


Madame Regent, Members and Guests of Faith Trumbull
Chapter :

The Rose of New England is abloom to-day. Every
gift of grace, color and fragrance is hers without reserva-
tion. Pomp and ceremony are also hers the blare of trum-
pets, the roll of drums, the boom of cannon, the peal of
bells, the stately tramp, tramp of the uniformed hosts arc
all for Her. The president of the United States and the
governor of our commonwealth have honored the occasion
with their presence distinguished men and women from far
and near are here to rejoice with this radiant Rose. In
prayer, speech and song a great historical event has been
celebrated and consecrated, and last, but not least, the
Daughters of the American Revolution have added their
tribute of remembrance for yesterday, of rejoicing for,
to-day, and of refreshment for to-morrow.

The past, the present and the future are each repre-
sented in the gift which Faith Trumbull chapter, Daughters
of the American Revolution, presents this morning to its

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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 7 of 19)