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Centennial History

of the

Society for Savings

<LKg «g ,. -" — — — A-7 - •

Society for Savings

Present Building Erected in 1893 on

Original Pratt Street Site

Centennial History

of the

Society for Savings


Hartford, Connecticut
1819 - 1919

^Prepared by the

Brearley Service Organization

New York City


i One Hundred Years Ago . . .
ii The Founding of the Society
in The Society Begins its Work . .
iv The Growth of the Society . .
v The Society Comes into its Own
vi Rounding Out the Century . .
vn The Present Officers of the Society
viii The World Reach of the Society
ix The Triumph of Thrift . . . .





i Original Petition Asking for Charter . 47

11 Original Charter and Amendments . 50

in Officers of the Society (1819 to 1919) . 54



iv Trustees of the Society (1819 to 1919) 55

v Society Deposits by Decades .... 58

vi Employees of the Society in 1919 . . 58

vii Officers and Trustees of the Society

(1919) 59


Present Building of the Society . . . Frontispiece


Daniel Wadsworth, President, 1 8 19-1828 . . 2

James B. Hosmer, President, 1 851-1879 ... 4

Roland Mather, President, 1 879-1 890 ... 6

John C. Parsons, President, 1 890-1 898 ... 10

Pass Book No. 1 — Title-page 12

Old Open Account — Pass Book No. 28 ... 14
Reuben Langdon, Treasurer, 1 829-1 848 . . .18

Olcott Allen, Treasurer, 1 848-1 873 .... 20

First and Second Bank Buildings 24

Zalmon A. Storrs, Treasurer, 1 873-1 890 ... 26

Francis B. Cooley, President, 1 898-1904 ... 28

Jonathan B. Bunce, President, 1 904-191 2 . . 30



Charles E. Gross, President, Elected 191 2 . . 34

A. E. Hart, Treasurer, Elected 1890 .... 36

Sidney W. Crofut, First Assistant Treasurer,

Elected 1900 4°

Frank I. Prentice, Second Assistant Treasurer,

Elected 1907 44


IT is no small event in the history of
any institution, when it reaches the
milestone which marks one hundred
years in its career. When these years
measure generations of voluntary and
unselfish service by men whose only re-
ward lies in the satisfaction of contrib-
uting to the upbuilding of their com-
munity and to the welfare of their fellow
men, the record is no longer a mere
chronicle of deeds and events; it is a
story of human progress. Such is the
century of achievement attained by the
Society for Savings of Hartford, Con-
necticut, and it places that institution in
a position of honor among the Mutual
Savings Banks of America.


One Hundred Years Ago

NE hundred years ago the present capital of
Connecticut was a little town of six thousand

inhabitants, although even then it had reached
the venerable age of one hundred and eighty years.
Small as it was, however, Hartford was always abreast
of the times. When a group of its leading citizens met
on June 9, 1819, to organize the Society for Savings,
they thereby launched upon a long and honorable
career the sixth institution of its kind in the United

The first mutual savings institution in this country,
for it is to this class that the Hartford organization
belongs, was the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society,
organized on November 25, 18 16, but not chartered
until February 25, 1819. Others which preceded the
Hartford Society for Savings were chartered in the fol-
lowing order: The Provident Institution for Savings,
Boston, Massachusetts, December 13, 1816; The Salem
Savings Bank, Salem, Massachusetts, January 29, 1818 ;
The Savings Bank, Baltimore, Maryland, December,
181 8, and The Bank for Savings, New York City,
March 26, 18 19.

The mutual savings bank idea was suggested by the
organization, in 1810, of an institution fathered in

[ 1 ]


Dumfriesshire, Scotland, by the Reverend Henry Dun-
can. That apt phrase of frugality, "one dollar opens
an account," is to-day the echo of his voice reaching to
us across more than a century of thrift.

The founding of a savings bank was attended with
difficulty in the early days of the United States even in
conservative Connecticut. The people of New Eng-
land, in common with those of other sections of the
country, were just emerging from the period of barter
and trade. Bulky commodities which could not be
entered in any pass-book, were still being used as
medium of exchange. Currency had not yet become
common. When a currency system was finally estab-
lished, it was much disturbed by the unsettled condi-
tions which obtained in the United States in the early
part of the nineteenth century. The Federal Govern-
ment had not yet standardized the measuring value of
the dollar. Banks under merely State authority were
sending forth a whirlwind of paper money for the
public to reap in sorrow.

The inevitable crash had come in 1814, and for a
time the founding of such an institution as a savings
bank would have been well-nigh impossible. The
Washington authorities, however, had begun about
1819 to bring order out of chaos, and the States to re-
spond with a bestowal of their confidence. The second
Bank of the United States was established in 1816 and,
within a year, it had nineteen branches throughout the
country. "Wildcat" speculation came to an end; the
tension was relieved and money circulated more freely.

Under conditions such as these, forty-two of the


Daniel Wadsworth



prominent business men of Hartford, on April 29,
1819, petitioned the General Assembly for a charter
under which to establish the Society for Savings.

Although essentially a local institution, the story of
the Society's birth, and the annals of its progress, in
reality encompass the entire history of the movement
for individual thrift and savings in America. It was
one of those mutual organizations which occupy so im-
portant a place on this continent, that, in the United
States alone, they now hold more than $5,000,000,000
of the people's savings, credited to more than ten mil-
lions of depositors.

Thrift, in the year of grace 1919, in which the So-
ciety for Savings celebrated its Centennial, was hailed
as a new American virtue. This was due largely to the
intensive thrift campaigns of the Government during
the Great War. It was a quality, however, inherent
in the nature of the sons of Connecticut, whose Puritan
forebears learned the lessons of thrift in the early days
of the Colonies.

Whether the Connecticut Yankee remained at home
to win fame and fortune, or fared forth into the world
to become a New York or London financier or a mer-
chant prince in Boston or other American cities, he was
indebted for much of his success in life to the habits of
thrift and foresight formed in his youth.

To tell, therefore, of the development of the Society
for Savings during the first century of its existence, is
to touch upon the names of men who have borne a
mighty part in the development of finance throughout
the world.

[3 1

The Founding of the Society

IN the preliminary stages of the organization of the
Society for Savings, the signers of the petition of
the General Assembly for a charter met in Ran-
som's Inn. What Lloyd's Coffee House was to the great
English association of underwriters which took its name
from that ancient hostelry, and what the Tontine Coffee
House was to the New York Stock Exchange, the
^tavern of Amos Ransom at Hartford, Connecticut, was
to the Society for Savings.

A famous resort was the old inn. Here the Assembly
and Election balls were held, and not only was the place
a center of the social life of Hartford, but it was fre-
quented as well by men who came to talk of affairs of
business just as is the case with the great caravansaries
of our American cities in this twentieth century. It was
natural, therefore, that the establishment of Ransom
should be the scene of the organization of important
corporations. It was here that the Hartford Fire In-
surance Company was founded in 1810.

While the Society for Savings was being launched in
Ransom's Inn, the iEtna Insurance Company, which
celebrated its Centennial Anniversary in the same
month as that of the Society, was being organized in
another famous Hartford hostelry — Morgan's Ex-j
change Coffee House, of which the proprietor was

James B. Hosmer



Joseph Morgan, grandfather of the late J. Pierpont
Morgan. The charter of the iEtna was signed by Gov-
ernor Wolcott on June 5, 181 9, just five days after the
signing of the Society's charter.

Many men of commercial and financial influence in
Hartford were interested in both projects, a fact which
accounts for the close relationship which has ever since
obtained between the two institutions. Among the
original trustees of the Society who were also first
directors of the iEtna were Thomas K. Brace, Jere-
miah Brown, Isaac Perkins, Samuel Tudor, Jr., James
M. Goodwin, Joseph B. Gilbert, Henry Kilbourn,
Theodore Pease and Jesse Savage. Since then four
presidents of the Society have been actively identified
with the iEtna.

The wealth and position of the men who gathered
to found the Society for Savings is an index of the fact
that it was established from a sense of service and not
for the purpose of emolument. Many of them were
engaged in foreign as well as domestic trade, and
had counting-rooms in connection with their own busi-
ness. Some of those who had attained high place had
won it because they had conserved their slender re-
sources when they were young and had invested them
when the opportunity offered.

In the archives of the State Library, the petition
under which the Society for Savings came into being
may be seen to this day. It is mellowed in tint by the
touch of time, and slightly tattered, yet the writing on
it is as clear and legible as it was when penned by the
firm hand of Isaac Perkins.



The high ideals of the founders — men who expected
to derive no financial benefits themselves from this
enterprise, and never did — are set forth in the docu-
ment itself, which may be found in full in another part
of this volume. The petition to the General Assembly,
bearing date of April 29, 18 19, is directed to that body
"to be holden at Hartford on the second Wednesday of
May, 1819."

It is announced in the preamble, that savings societies
had recently been established in New York and other
places, and that the petitioners believe that the "in-
fluence of those societies has been extensive and bene-
ficial, by holding in safety and obtaining an increase on
the savings of the industrious poor."

"Experience has also demonstrated," to quote further
from the document, "the superior excellence of those
societies over all laws that have been enacted for the
encouragement of the poor, and over all other moral
and provident societies, in their tendency to promote
industry and economy and, consequently, to suppress
vice and immorality."

The first signature on the petition is that of Isaac
Perkins, a Hartford lawyer. He was once the State's
Attorney and he was also the first secretary of the iEtna
Insurance Company of Hartford. He appears as the
chairman of the "Committee for themselves and for
others, whose names are hereto annexed." His fellow /
committeemen were Ward Woodbridge, Charles'
Hosmer, John Russ, Jeremiah Brown and Cyprian

The other signers, all of whose names are leading


Roland Mather

I 879-I 890


ones in the financial history of Hartford, were: David
Porter, Thomas K. Brace, Henry Kilbourn, Christopher
Colt, Theodore Pease, Joseph B. Gilbert, John Butler,
Brazillia Hudson, Jr., Roderick Terry, Horace Burr,
Josiah Hempstead, James B. Hosmer, George Good-
win, Jr., Samuel Tudor, Jr., Lorenzo Bull, James W.
Woodbridge, Russell Bunce, James M. Goodwin, Nor-
mand Smith, Henry Waterman, Jesse Savage, Thomas
Day, John T. Peters, Daniel Wadsworth, Charles Sig-
ourney, Michael Olcott, Henry Hudson, James H.
Wells, Michael Bull, Mason F. Cogswell, William
Ely, Josiah Beckwith, David Watkinson, George
Beach and George Putnam.

The General Assembly, at its May session, granted
the required charter to the Society for Savings, and, on
June i, 1 8 19, its action was duly approved by Governor
Wolcott. The instrument of less than one thousand
words is divided into ten sections, and is a model of
clear and concise diction, as may be seen by a perusal
of its text which appears in the appendix. Four amend-
ments were added to the charter, among them one in ,
1 82 1, permitting greater latitude in the investments
of the Society, and another in 1833, empowering the
corporation to hold real estate. The officers and trus-
tees have always been restricted by the terms of the
charter from borrowing money from its funds and
from participating in any of its business transactions.
The mutual nature of the institution is shown through-
out the charter as well as in the by-laws. The president
was to receive only a nominal salary, and the various
trustees and other officials received no compensation,*/



except in the case of those whose daily presence was
required by the growth of the business in later years.

Hartford, at that time, although it had a population
of only six thousand, was a wide-awake commercial and
financial center. It drew upon a fertile territory and,
although fifty miles from the sea, it had a flourishing
trade with the West Indies. The founding of the great
insurance companies for which the town was to become
so noted in later years, had already begun. Among the
incorporators of the Society were men of large affairs
who devoted part of their time to promoting this in-
stitution because they believed that their fellow citizens
of lesser means would be benefited if facilities for bank-
ing in a small way were accorded to them.

"The said corporation," to use the language of the
charter, "shall be capable of receiving from any person
or persons disposed to obtain and enjoy the advantages
of said incorporation, any deposit or deposits of money,
not exceeding the sum of two hundred dollars, from
any individual, in any one year, and to use and improve
the same for the purposes and according to the discre-
tion herein provided."

This provision was modified, of course, in later years.
But it marks how small were the beginnings of the
Society which later was to have and to hold millions in
its vaults.


The Society Begins its Work

THE Society began work as soon as the ink on its
charter was dry. Its Board of Direction was
officially organized on June 9, 18 19, at a meeting
held in the famous State House and, therefore, practi-
cally under official auspices. The commonwealth gave
its sanction in every direction, and the press of the day,
in reporting the organization meeting, commended its
aims and purposes.

Daniel Wadsworth was chosen president; Elisha
Colt was made treasurer; and James M. Goodwin was
chosen secretary. Twelve vice-presidents were elected
— Ward Woodbridge, James H. Wells, Michael Ol-
cott, John T. Peters, David Porter, Michael Bull,
Charles Sigourney, John Russ, Jeremiah Brown, Isaac
Perkins, David Watkinson and William Ely. These
public-spirited citizens were men of strong personality.

Michael Olcott, who had amassed a fortune in the
West Indian trade, had served as a member of the
General Assembly, and was an officer of the First Com-
pany, Governor's Foot Guard.

John T. Peters was a member of one of the higher
courts, and had been on one of the committees that re-
ceived Lafayette upon the occasion of the Marquis'
memorable visit, September 23, 1824.



Charles Sigourney was a well known citizen, and the
husband of Lydia Huntley Sigourney, the poet. In
his Colonial mansion, which still stands on Lord's Hill,
many of the literary celebrities of his day had been
entertained. In 1820 Mr. Sigourney became president
of the Phoenix National Bank. He was also one of the
incorporators of the Connecticut River Company.

John Russ was a member of Congress from 18 19 to

Jeremiah Brown was a prominent merchant and a
director of the iEtna Insurance Company.

David Watkinson was one of Hartford's prosperous
merchants. He was also a liberal supporter of the
city's philanthropic institutions, and the Watkinson
Library on his death received a bequest of $100,000,
the largest single donation made up to that time for
library purposes.

The twenty-four trustees chosen were Cyprian Nich-
ols, Mason F. Cogswell, Henry Hudson, Samuel Tudor,
Jr., Russell Bunce, James B. Hosmer, Charles Hosmer,
Thomas Day, George Goodwin, Jr., Lorenzo Bull,
James R. Woodbridge, James M. Goodwin, Joseph B.
Gilbert, John Butler, Henry Kilbourn, Christopher
Colt, Theodore Pease, Brazillai Hudson, Jr., Roderick
Terry, Horace Burr, George Beach, Normand Smith,
Thomas K. Brace and Jesse Savage. Some of these
trustees became prominent in the work of the Society
and all of them were active in the fostering of the civic
spirit of Hartford.

Among them may be specially mentioned George
Beach, who had been elected president of the Phoenix

John C. Parsons

I 89O-I 898


Bank five years before, and, in 1827, became an incor-
porator of the Connecticut River Company.

Thomas K. Brace was the principal founder and
first president of the /Etna Insurance Company.

The primal idea of the Society for Savings was not to
Encourage the accumulation of money, but to inculcate
the habit of thrift and thus enable depositors to get a
start in life. The charter was granted because of the
belief of the General Assembly that it would be of great
Jbenefit to those of small means. At the first meetings of
the officers, the by-laws were prepared under which the
Society commenced business.

"The primary objects of this institution," to quote
Article I of these regulations, "are to aid the industri-
ous, economical and worthy; to protect them from the
extravagance of the profligate, the snares of the vicious,
and to bless them with competency, respectability and

In the humble and simple beginnings of the Society
for Savings itself are revealed the disposition to avoid
display. It was years before it had a habitation of its
own. Its first office was in the State House, probably
because its first treasurer, Elisha Colt, was State comp-
troller. The business of the Society was there con-
ducted because it could be conveniently attended to
without interrupting the other duties of the comptrol-
ler. The time required, at first, for the affairs of the
institution, was small.

"No business can be done at this office," reads a rule
printed on the first pass-books, "but on Wednesday,
from two until five o'clock P.M. This regulation is to



save expense to those who put in their money, as the
treasurer can do the business cheaper, when only three
hours per week is required, than he could if three, or
even one hour, each day were to be employed."

At the close of the Society's first day of business,
which according to entries in the original pass-books
was July 14, 1819, thirty-two deposits had been re-
ceived, totaling $532, which was an average of sixteen!
dollars for each person.

Among those to whom pass-books were issued, that
first afternoon, were Elisha Colt, Jr., George Beach,
Jr., John L. Bunce, one of the trustees, and Isaac Per-
kins, one of the prime movers in the enterprise. It will
be seen that the sons of Messrs. Colt and Beach, who
were then young boys, began early to follow their sires
in the path of thrift. These first pass-books, of which
several are now extant, were of heavy coarse paper
stock, of a peculiar salmon color, seldom seen these
days. The covers are roughly stitched to the body of
the book, and across their base is pasted a slip bearing
the name of the Society.

Pass-book No. 1 was assigned to Frederick W.
Dimock, who deposited twenty dollars on July 14, 18 19.

The name of Thomas W. Gallaudet, who founded
the American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, appears
on pass-book No. 10; later it was to shine in that "book
of gold" in which are the names of those "who love
their fellow men." After his signature, written in his
flowing hand, as it stands on the Society's records, is
added this line: "For two young friends." On the same
page, in the space in which each depositor was required




IN THE CITY OF HARTFORL t;ivi ' ><r ~"

Its Office is established at the State House, —
and will be open every Wednesday t . from 2
till 5 o'clock, P. M.



Ward Woodbridge, Charles Sigourney,

Jaiues H. Wells, John Russ,

Michael O^cott.A^f Jeremiah Brown, •
John T. Peters^F^- A Isaac Perkins,
David PorteV; ' r David Watkinson,

Michael Bull, William Ely.


Cyprian Nichols,
Mason F. Cogswell,
Henry Hudson,
Samuel Tudor, jun. >
Russell Bunce,
James B. Hosmer,
Charles Hosmer,
Thomas Day, g

George Goodwin, jun.
Lorenzo Bull,.
James R. Woodbridge,
James M. Goodwin,

Joseph B. Gilbert.
John Butler,
Henry Kilbouru,
Chri.stopjer Colt,


Barzillai Hudson, jun.
Roderick Terry,
Horace Burr,
George Beach, y
Norinand Smith, r
Thomas K. Brace, y
Jesse Savage.

James M. Goodwin, Secretary.
Elisha Colt, Treasurer.

THE design 0/ this institution is, to afford those who

^are desirous of saving their money, the means of employ-

ingit to advantage, without running the risque'of losing,

by fending it to individuals, who by misfortune or fraud,

pay, neither interest nor principal. To promote so de-

Pass Book No. 1

Title-page of Original Book, Issued to Frederick
W. Dimock, First Depositor, July 14, 1819


to set down his occupation, there is opposite his name
the title "preceptor," as this kindly teacher, who
founded an institution which exists to this day after
more than a century of usefulness, was wont to style

Eliza Porter, afterwards Mrs. William A. Ward,
had pass-book No. 17, which was the beginning of an
open account which ran for eighty-four years, and on
May 14, 1903, was finally closed by her executors.

All of us have read, from time to time, hypothetical
examples of the manner in which money increases when
allowed to remain undisturbed. Let us take a glance
at pass-book No. 28, of the Society for Savings. The
actual amount deposited in this account was $11.73,
which covered seven separate deposits, made in a period
of five years. The first one turned in on July 14, 18 19,
was three dollars, the second $2.73, and the balance con-
sisted of amounts of one and two dollars each. At the
close of a century, on June 1, 1919, this book showed a
total of $1,188.15. The book was in the name of
George Beach, Jr., referred to heretofore as the son of
one of the trustees. At his death, his executor, Charles
M. Beach, permitted the account to remain open. The
executor passed into the Great Beyond, leaving as ad-
ministrator, Mr. C. Edward Beach, who likewise left
the amount untouched. The family, as a matter of
sentiment, have kept up this account to the present day,
and a transcript of it, which is herewith given, is in it-
self an ample proof of the steady accumulation which
follows upon thrift.



How Money Accumulates
Pass-book No. 28



































i Interest



6 Interest


5 "

4 "

4 "



3 Interest


2 Interest



1 Interest



•03^2 •
.07^ .





1. 00
1. 00

1. 00

1. 00




7 $1.40 possible loss Eagle Notes

7 Interest

6 "

6 "

5 "

4 "

3 ."

3 Dividend Eagle Notes

3 Interest

1 "













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Online LibraryBrearley Service OrganizationCentennial history of the Society for Savings of Hartford, Conneticut, 1819-1919 → online text (page 1 of 4)