William Columbus Ferril.

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death occurred in Winsted, September 12, 1897, was born at Plymouth, Conn.,
January 18, 1844. His parents were Augustus L. and Maria Hall Fenn. His
ancestors settled in New Haven in 1639, and the sterling characteristics he ex-
hibited indicate inheritance from sturdy ancestry of colonial days.

The foundation of his education was laid in the common school of his na-
tive town, upon which he built, later on, at the Waterbury high school. He
early showed unusual literary talent, and at fifteen published a volume of
poems, which he studiously hid from the public eye, however, in later years.

He began the study of law at the age of eighteen with Hon. Ammi Gid-
dings in his native town, but relinquished it after a few months to enlist in the
army. He entered the military service as lieutenant in the 19th Conn. Volun-
teers, in July, 1862. The following year, when his regiment became the 2nd
Conn. Heavy Artillery, he was advanced to a captaincy. The adjutant and
historian of his regiment says of
him: "He proved himself one of the
best drill masters and disciplinarians
in the regiment, and one of the most
competent officers in every position."
He served for a time on, the staff of
General Emory Upton, and was five
times detailed as judge advocate. At
the battle of Cedar Creek he lost his
right arm. Hospital surgeons who
attended him proposed to muster
him out for disability, but he pro-
tested, and through the influence of
Gen. Ranald S. Mackenzie he was re
tained. " In less than seven weeks
from the time his arm was taken oH
at the shoulder he reported for full
duty," writes his regimental histo
rian, and he subsequently partici-
pated in several engagements. He
was promoted to major in January,
1865, and was brevetted lieutenant-
colonel and colonel for conspicuous
instances of bravery.

Colonel Fenn was mustered out
of the military service with his regiment August 18, 1865, and the following
month resumed the study of law with Gen. S. W. Kellogg in Waterbury. He
was admitted to the bar of Litchfield county, February 15, 1S67, after which
he pursued a course of study for a year at the Harvard Law School, from



which he received the degree of bachelor of laws. After practicing a year
in Waterbur}', he opened an office in his native town, where he continued in
the practice of his profession until i?75- He was judge of probate several
years in Plymouth, holding also several other minor public offices. In 1875 he
was Republican nominee for secretary of state, but his party ticket was unsuc-
cessful in that election.

In 1S76 he removed to ^\■insted, which since that time has been his home.
He had become an ardent admirer of Samuel J. Tilden in his fight against the
''Tammany ring" of New York, his admiration being so strong as to lead him

to remark that if Til-
den should be a Pres-
idential candidate,
he should support
him. He was true
to his word, and thus
became allied with
the Democratic par-
ty. He was judge ot
probate in the dis-
trict of Winchester
several terms, and by
the careful study of
that branch of his
profession, became
known as one of the
best authorities of the state on probate law. In 1884 he represented
Winchester in the General Assembly, serving on the judiciary committee and
as chairman of the committee on forfeited rights. In 1885 he was appointed
by the Governor member of a committee to revise the statutes, a task of which
he performed his full share.

Notwithstanding his changed political affiliations he continued to hold the
highest esteem of his former political associates, for he was never regarded as
strenuously partisan. He was nominated judge of the Superior Court in
1887 by a Republican governor, and as associate justice of the Supreme
Court of Errors in 1892 by another governor of the same party. His appreci-
ation of these advancements at the hands of his political opponents was such
as to lead him to say — when his name was mentioned in various news-
papers in connection with gubernatorial honors — that he should never allow
himself to accept nomination for any position which would bring him into com-
petition with any Republican. He had been advanced in his profession bj* his
political opponents and felt that it would indicate lack of appreciation, or in-
gratitude, were he to take advantage of his promotion to the bench as a step-
ping-stone to further political preferment.

It may be well doubted if there can be recalled, within the remembrance
of the present generation at least, another equally conspicuous instance show-
ing firmer or more intimite friendships than existed between Jttdge Fenn and
those who differed with him politically. His relations with his townspeople,
with his professional associates and with his comrades of the war were such as
to indicate that political differences were not thought of, or if thought of were



no bar to the most intimate confidences. His loyalty to his personal friends
and neighbors was not unlike that he exhibited to his country — firm and un-
wavering. In the Presidential campaign of 1896 he affiliated with the Repub-
lican party.

As an advocate, Judge Fenn is remembered as possessing gifts which, if
they did not draw spectators to the court room, at least prolonged their stay.
His addresses were listened to with an attention rarely warranted by the mer-
its of the cause at issue. His language was concise, and he had such excellent
choice of expression as to make his arguments models of diction. It was clear
to the listener that he had the main points of his argument well arranged in
his mind. His citations from authorities indicated not only a well read law-
yer, but the happy faculty of weaving them into the warp and woof of his
argument with harmonious effect. His success as an attorney was so fully
recognized during his period of practice that he was never without a long
list of clients.

Judge Fenn first sat on the supreme bench as a regular member at the
May term in Norwich, in 1891, although his appointment b}' the Legislature
was not completed until the 2d of February, 1893. His last duty was at the
May term in Norwich, 1897. He was regarded by his associates of that tribu-
nal as an agreeable companion, cheerful, kindly, sympathetic and generous.
He had unusual power to acquire knowledge, a singularly clear and retentive
memory, great industry and wonderful endurance. He had read not only the
common books of the law but some which are not commonly looked at. He
had read most of the text of Littleton in the Norman French, Fearne's Con-
tingent Remainders, and had gone over Coke's second, third and fourth Insti-
tutes. His mind

worked rapidly and
he came to conclu-
sions quickly- It is
said of Lord Eldon
that he was never
quite ready to de-
cide a case, because
he always doubted.
Judge Fenn, while he
was always conscious
that all human judg-
ments are liable to
error, gave to every
case his best judg-
ment, came to that
conclusion which he
deemed to be the
correct one, and then
laid it aside. He
never seemed to be distressed by doubts. He had very little pride of opin-
ion, and not any pride of position.

In consultation. Judge Fenn was always considerate and forbearing. He
listened to others with the greatest patience, and was always ready to yield,

JUDGE ken-n's home in vvinsied.


so far as possible, in order to secure a unanimous judgment. It is difficult to
recall a dissenting opinion written by him; he has joined another judge some-
times in a dissent. He was a favorite with lawyers who argued before the
court, because he was always attentive. His written opinions are regarded as
a pretty accurate reflex of his mind. He worked rapidly; his opinions indicate
that quality, and some of them show a want of careful revision. His relations
with his associates on the bench were always intimate and confidential rather
than professional, and he appeared to be regarded as a younger brother rather
than as a rival in the profession or in the struggle for preferment, and his
death came to them like a personal affliction.

Judge Fenn was president of the Connecticut Army and Navy Club at

i[l|i KKSIDI Ni

time of his death, a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and of the
Loyal Legion. His patriotic impulses found their best medium of expression
in public addresses on Memorial Day and on similar occasions. He was presi-
dent of the Winchester Memorial Park Association, trustee of the Gilbert
School and Home, and identified with various other local organizations. He
possessed a reverent nature, and, though not a communicant, was a regular
attendant of the Congregational church. His domestic relations were of an
agreeable character, and to him there was "No place like home." He was
twice married — in 1868 to Frances M. Smith of Waterbury, and in 1879 to Mary
E. Lincoln of Winsted. His widow and four children survive him — Emory,
Augusta, Lucia and Lincoln — two by each marriage.



TH ROUGH articles which have recently appeared in the pages of this mag.
azine, as well as in other ways, many readers of the Quarterly have been
made familiar with the interesting landmarks of "ye ancient town of
Norwich" and with the quaint or stately figures who have played well their parts
in its history in days gone by. To many others, doubtless, it is also well known
as an educational center through its admirably equipped preparatory school,
the Norwich Free Academy. Perhaps, however, fewer people throughout the
state have thought of the little city on the Thames as an art center. Never-


theless, it is slowly but surely winning public recognition as such through its
Art Museum and its Art School, which are both closely allied to the Free

Both of these have their home in the Slater Memorial Building, a gift to
the institution from a former student of the Academy and a public spirited
citizen of the town, "in grateful recognition of the advantages there enjoyed"
and in memory of his father, for many years a member of the board of trus-
tees. The same generous friend also equipped the Museum with a collection


in the island of San
race, 1867.

uf casts, now numbering nearly four hundred, repre-
senting the best sculpture of the Classic and Renais-
sance periods, and also a collection of very fine pho-
tographs of the world's best art in painting and archi-
tecture. These were very carefully selected under
the supervision of Mr. Edward Robinson, curator of
the Boston Art Museum, and are most admirably ar-
ranged to display them to the best possible advan-
tage both for the general public and for the stu-
dent. The Museum was formally dedicated in 1888.

The donor of this noble gift, as well as the board
of trustees of the Academy, realized that much yet
remained to be done to make the Museum fully
exert its due influence on the commimity, and to
meet this recognized want the foundation of the Art
School followed two years later.

The aim of the trustees was to offer a thorough
training in art to those residents of the town and of
tnis section of the state who desire to develop "the
power to understand, to enjoy or to create the beau-
tiful." Five rooms in the Memorial Building were
set apart for the use of the School. Both day and
evening classes were established, the day classes in-
tended for those students who could give much time
to study, the evening classes mainly — but by no



means solely — for wage earners who were occupied during the day, but who de-
sired a training in art either simply for personal education or as a means to
increase their ability in their chosen fields of labor. The school pursues its
work along three main lines — drawing and painting, modelling, and design.

All new movements in any community at first awaken great popular en-
thusiasm, and Norwich was no exception to the rule. Art became a fad for a
time, applications for membership were very numerous the first year — espe-
cially for the evening classes — and the student with the customary roll of
charcoal paper was as familiar a figure as the granite soldier on Chelsea Pa-


rade. But alas, many of these would-be artists soon discovered that " Art is
long," lost patience and fell by the wayside, finding it a far cry from drawing
"block " hands and feet to representing the Venus of Milo or the Praxiteles
Hermes. Next year the inevitable sifting process followed. This scattered
the chaff and left a residue of earnest workers who had counted the cost and
believed that the pleasure the pursuit of art brings with it is worth the sacri-
fice and self-denials it demands. Since that time the school has been on a
sound working basis. Year by year since its foundation it has grown steadily
in earnestness of purpose, in directness of aim and in esprit de corps, and its
small but steady increase in numbers smce the second year shows a slow but
healthy growth.

I wish I might take my readers on a tour of inspection of the large,
well-lighted rooms in the Slater Memorial Building which are devoted to
the use of the Art School. On the right, after the great entrance door


swings open and admits us into the lofty entrance hall, we should first
enter the evening class room, a large apartment divided into alcoves by
screens hung with casts, and well arranged for artificial light. A stroll
about would show us that the room, which is deserted by day, must, in the


three evenings of the week when it is occupied, be a hive of industry, for
many of the unfinished drawings on the boards show how much may be
accomplished in even a limited amount of time when energy is directed to one
aim alone.

Let us ascend one flight of stairs — and we reach the Design Room, where, if
our visit is made in the morning, we shall find busy students working at large
tables either drawing in first drafts of problems in charcoal or filling in the
prepared pencil outlines with water colors. A glance over the shoulders of the
pupils or at the walls of the room will show us what these " problems " are.
Persian rugs, tiles, placques, fans, grille work, etc., hanging on the walls are an
evidence of the kind of work done here. No (so-called) original work of any
kind in this department can be done, however, without a firm grasp of the
principles used in decorative work by the nations which have preceded ours on
the stage of history. A course covering many months in the History of Orna-
ment, from the first efforts of savage tribes down to the best achievements
of the Renaissance, is required of every pupil who enters this department and
wishes to reach success in it.

A satisfactory course in Historic Ornament would be impossible were not
a large and well equipped collection of casts, books, prints and photographs



available. Such a collection, however, is alwaj-s at hand in the Peck Library,
located in a beautiful room, spacious and well-lighted, on the same floor. This
library is very rich in literature and photographs relating to art; and large ta-
bles, with racks for holding the pictures, afford the best opportunities for
sketching. These collections are always accessible to students of the Art
School and are in constant use.

To make the art treasures of the building still more useful to the students
and to the public, courses of lectures on sculpture, painting, architecture or dec-
oration are held each winter and are illustrated by the casts and photographs.

Leaving the library, another flight up brings us to the Preparatory Room,
where, if it is the first of the school year, we shall find students at all stages of
progress, from those who are drawing from casts of block hands and feet to
those who are working from the most delicately modelled heads. When a
scholar in the judgment of the teacher has gained proficiency enough in draw-
ing from the head, he is promoted to the Museum to draw from the full-length

Still one more flight up, and under the roof we find another knot of pupils
working in oil or charcoal from the living model.

On Thursday afternoon of each week the sketch class also works for two
hours from a model in pencil, pen and ink, or water color. This class was

started and is maintained by the students themselves, each member in turn
providing a model for the afternoon.

No mention of the Art School would be complete without a word about



the Children's Class which has proved such a success in the School. The idea
of the possibility of training young children in the elements of art and thus
fitting them to know and appreciate the beautiful is not a very new one, as it
is recognized more or less in the public schools of most progressive cities of
any size throughout the country. But of course any -thorough instruction in
this line cannot be carried on in the common schools, owing to the lack of time
and the requisite facilities. Several art schools in the country, however, have
opened classes on Saturday for children between the ages of eight and thir-
teen years, in order to give them a more comprehensive art education than is
possible in the public schools. Such a class was opened here in 1S95. The


lessons, which the little pupils enjoy thoroughly, include drawings from ob-
jects and from casts, composition from subjects given by the teacher, rapid
sketching, and painting in water color and pastel. In the spring term they
also model in clay.

Not the least valuable are the walks in the Museum with the teacher,
where a cast is pointed out, its story both historical and mythical told, and
then it is sketched by the young art students. Knowledge gained in that way
is absorbed without conscious effort and as a pleasure rather than a task. That
this training of eye and hand is appreciated by the parents is shown by the
applications for admission which became so numerous this year that a second
class was formed.

For six weeks in the Spring a teacher from New York gives instruc-
tion in modelling, and for that time the preparatory and antique classes devote
their time to that.

Each year exhibitions of art work of various kinds are held by the s-chool



for the benefit of the students themselves and for the broadening influence
they may exert on the community. Such exhibitions have included both pic-
torial and industrial art. Furniture, rugs, porcelains, book bindings, stained
glass designs, magazine illustrations, pictures, etc., have been some of the
phases of art work represented. That these displays and the atmosphere of
the Art School as a whole are slowly but surely exerting an influence upon the
people of the town is shown by the increased interest in, and the more intelli-
gent comprehension of the work of the school shown at the annual exhibitions
each year.

There is also a very pleasant social side to the life of the School, which is
not yet so large but that a spirit of camaraderie exists among the students.
With the purpose of furnishing a bond of tmion between those pupils who are
working in other places and those still in the school or in the town, a flourish-


ing "Art Students' Association" was formed three years ago which holds
monthly meetings where papers on art topics are read and discussed. It is
also pledged to forward in any way possible the interests of the Art School.

With one exception, this is the only art school in the country in which a
scholarship given free for one year has been offered by the Art Students'
League of New York. This example was followed by a like offer from the
Boston School of Design. To obtain these scholarships drawings are submit-
ted to the authorities of these schools, the best set, of course, receiving the

The good work done in the Norwich Art School is recognized by the large
metropolitan schools; and the students who go from it, either to such institu-
tions or to labor independently, show the effect of the thorough training they
have received here.



Pen and ink sketches bv Antoinette Xewell.

The Bristol Historical and Scientific Society had its beginning at the Bris-
tol Centennial in 1885, and received its initial impetus from the addresses de-
livered on that occasion by Prof. Tracy Peck of Yale and by Senator Joseph R.
Hawley, who suggested that the collection of articles loaned for exhibition at
that time should be made the basis of a permanent historical museum.

But while due honor should be given to those who proposed laying the
foundations of a museum, to three so-called antiquarians of Bristol, Dr. Fred-

^^^ 0m




erick H. Williams, William C. Richards and Edward E. Newell, the credit be-
longs of following these suggestions and forming the Bristol Historical and
Scientific Society.

On June 18, 1S90, about one hundred citizens of Bristol met in the Court
Room of the Town Hall to consider the advisability of organizing such a soci-
ety and to appoint a committee to draft a
constitution and by-laws and present them
for action on the second of July following.
The adjourned meeting was held and the
constitution was adopted and a president and
a board of directors were elected. On Aug-
ust 28 a meeting of this board was held
and a committee appointed to hire the upper



room in a block which had just been completed and to have charge of all arti-
cles donated to the Society.

In 1 89 1 the cause of history and science seemed to languish, for at the an-
nual meeting there was not a quorum present.

September 27, 1S92, is the date of the last minutes recorded with this dy-
ing wail, "Annual meeting adjourned for want of quorum."

In spite of all obstacles, want of encouragement from the public and need
of money to carry on]the enterprise, two faithful souls toiled on, collecting,
labeling and arranging. Just as they were on the verge of despair, seriously
contemplating the wisdom of letting the Society die a natural death, Mrs.
Randolph DeB. Keim, the organizing regent of the Connecticut Daughters of
the American Revolution, visited the rooms. By her appreciation and inter-
est in the collection she so inspired the Bristol Daughters that they voluntarily
assiimed the care of the relics of " ye olden time."

After this preamble, come with me and see how our great-grandmothers
lived and toiled and moiled, and perhaps we shall come away thankful for our
mercies that we did not live in those "good old days."

Up one flight of stairs; up two flights of stairs; at the third we pause for
contemplation and possibly — breath, wondering if these stairs have not some-
thing to do with the indifference of the public to this Society.

A glimpse of a scarlet cloak in the room above, a bit of "grandfather's
clock " and a big wheel attract our attention at once, and we mount the last


flight. A bewildering array of wheels, looms and all kinds of kitchen utensils
meets our eyes; but we must first visit the portrait gallery, for, "in treasuring
the memory of the fathers, we best manifest our regard for posterity." Here
are the pictures of representative men of the town whose labors are ended,
with some particularly interesting portraits of a few of the early settlers of

Passing out of the gallery we notice at the left a rotary stove, which
was a sort of labor-saving machine, for the pots and kettles were not
lifted off the stove, but gracefully swung around the circle. Standing near
are several foot stoves, many of which, no doubt, have often been carried to



"the meetin' house on the hill," in those days when it was considered a means
of grace to shiver and shake with cold while receiving spiritual food.

On the beam at our right hangs a row of lanterns appropriately labeled
"The Light of Other Days." Some of these are really valuable, even though
they have a battered and woe-begone appearance and look as if they had been
out very late o' nights. Here is a flax-break; in the corner stands a carpet-

Online LibraryWilliam Columbus FerrilThe Connecticut quarterly (Volume 2) → online text (page 21 of 46)