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Commemorative biographical record of New Haven county, Connecticut, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and of many of the early settled families .. (Volume 1, pt.3) online

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is the widow of James H. Prince, of Winchester,
]\Iass. (6) Laura A. married Frederick H. Fowler,
and both are deceased. (7) John G. was drowned
in Nebraska in 1859, '^vhile on his way to California.
(8) Julia A. married Richard H. Woodward, a real-
estate man in Long Branch, N. J. (9) Cynthia E.
married Erastus H. Cusbv. (10) Frances E. mar-
ried R. H. Chipman, a coal dealer in New York,
who has his home in Philadelphia.

Capt. Oliver N. Brooks removed with his par-
ents to Clinton when he was four years old, and
there attended the public school and the academy.
When thirteen years of age he went out as a cabin
boy with Capt. Eldikin, on board the schooner
"Planet," making a short voyage from Clinton to
Philadelphia to take on a coal cargo for New
Haven. From this humble beginning he worked
himself up in rank to a position as commander and
master, when he was only nineteen years old. At
that early age he was perfectly competent to com-
mand a vessel, and the first in his charge was the
sloop "Ostrich." For eleven years he commanded
different vessels in the Atlantic coast-wise trade.
In 185 1 Capt. Brooks was appointed keeper of the
Faulkners Island Lighthouse, receiving his appoint-
m.ent from TJiomas Corwin, Secretary of the Treas-
ury, and for thirty-one years he was always at his
post of duty, and rendered valiant service in the res-
cue and service of those imperilled by wind and
water. During his long term of activity over one
hundred vessels were stranded near the Island ; in
seventy-one of these disasters, eight of which were
total wrecks, Capt. Brooks rendered valuable as-
sistance in an open boat, often at the great peril
of his life. One noble rescue he effected was that
of the crew of the schooner "Moses F. Webb,"
which went ashore on Goose Island on Nov. 23,
1858. Single handed and alone he rescued the crew,
and his daring eft'orts won the applause of the whole
country. Many -valuable and touching letters and
testimonials were sent him, and are now preserved
as valuable mementoes of a noble deed.

From the Life Saving Benevolent Association
of New York he received a letter of ardent appre-
ciation, accompanying the bestowal of a gold medal,
only bestowed where "Life has been exposed in
saving life," which was signed by Daniel Lord,



the vice-president of the association. The medal
bears this inscription: "Presented to Oliver N.
Brooks, keeper of the Faulkners Island Light, for
rescuing with great courage and humanity four
lives from the wreck of the schooner Moses F.
Webb, on tiie 23rd of November, A. D. 1858." The
value of this medal was fifty dollars, and its weight
forty dollars.

From the citizens of New Haven he received the
following letter, bearing date Dec. 6, 1858:

"Impressed by the account of your braverv on
the 23rd of November, 1858, in rescuing five per-
sons from the wreck of the schooner Moses F.
Webb, at the hazard of your own life, we have pro-
cured the accompanying testimonial of our admira-
tion of your courage and your humanity. We
present your wife the salver and tea set, your chil-
dren the cups and napkin rings, and yourself the
purse containing $126, in the hope that your ex-
ample may encourage others to succor the im-
perilled. That your life may long be spared and
your health and prosperity be continued is the earn-
est wish of yours respectfully, Washington Webb.
In behalf of Thos. R. Trov.-bridge ; Hotchkiss Eros.
& Co.; L. W. & P. Armstrong; E. C. Scranton ;
James W. Brester; Canfield & Spencer; D. AI.
Welch ; English, Atwater & White : George D. Eng-
lish ; C. L. English; Alinott A. Osbom : D. S.
Graves; S. W. King; C. T. Candee; P. A. Pink-man;
Dr. Bishop ; E. A. Mitchell : T. O. Betts ; R. Chap-
man : C. B. Whittlesey; City Fire Insurance Co.,
N. H. ; William Conner (Secretary Springfield Fire
Insurance Co.) ; S. A. Thomas: Fred Lines; S. W.
Mansfield; Wylie & Brother; C. P. Hubbell ; Law-
rence, Bradley & Pardee ; Lindsley & Carlisle ;
James E. English ; Lucus Gilbert ; S. L. Smith &
Co.; Sylvanus Butler; S. D. Cooley, Jr.; D. A.
Benjamin ; C. M. Ingersoll ; Bishop & Bros. ; W. A.
Ensign; Wm. B. Johnson; S. B. M. Huges ; S.
Punderford; Leonard Daggett; S. S. Griffing; S.
S. Atwater ; D. S. Glenney ; Isaac Thompson ; W. T.
Bradley & Co. ; Isaac Anderson ; Bushnell c&; Co. ;
L. Treadwav & Co. ; D. Trowbridge ; Solomon
Collis : John Walker ; H. T. Norton ; M. R. Shepard ;
S. G. Peck ; John W. Russell ; C. S. Chaplain ; E.
Arnold & Co.: Benjamin Noves ; C. H. .Tuttle: E.
Marble; Cowles & Leete ; Strong & Hall; E. E.
Hall ; R. P. Cowles : Joel Ives ; D. Killam & Co. ;
F. L. Bostwick; C. O. Crosby; S. R. Spencer; S.
S. Rowland ; S. E. Stone : Saml. Rowland ; Edw.
Bromley; D. S. Stout; J. H. Benham; N. D.
Sperrv; Alfred Blackman ; W. T. Eustis, Tun.; G.
S. Sheffield: and W. Bristol."

The original documents are in script, executed
by D. Stanton, beautifully done, and could not be
duplicated for less than thirty dollars. The salver
bears the following inscription : "Presented to Mrs.
Mary M. Brooks, by the citizens of New Haven, in
honor of the noble conduct of her husband, Capt.
Oliver N. Brooks, who at the peril of his own,
saved the lives of five persons from a wrecked ves-



-.j;: !\:



984



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



sel during a storm in Long Island Sound, on the
23d of November, in 1S5S. " The salver alone is
worth $So. At this time the citizens of Guilford
presented him v\ith a membership in the ]\Iasonic
lodge.

During Capt. Brooks' term of service in the
liglithouse many improvements were made, such as
the introduction of kerosene oil. He had three as-
sistants from 1866 to 1882, in which latter year he
retired from tlie service, with a record of which any
man might be proud. Locating on the old home-
stead in Guilford, he became interested in real es-
tate at Sachem's Head, where he built a number
of simimer cottages. In 1887 he went to Cali-
fornia, and located in Arch Beach, where he was in
business, and where he spent three years. During
this time he was appoiatcd postmaster, and visited
many places of interest in the southern part of the
State. In 1890 Capt. Brooks came back to his Guil-
ford home, and has since lived retired from active
business. The Captain is a keen observer, and a
fine conversationalist, being a well-read man and
widely informed on all current topics. Capt. Brooks
was elected to the Legislature in 1892, though he
is a Democrat, and was a member of the Committee
on Temperance. In 1898 he was again elected by a
good majority.

On Jan. 4, 1846, Capt. Brooks was married
to Mary J^I., who was born in Guilford, a daughter
of John and Betsy (Field) Hart; she was a lady
of a charming personality, with fine artistic tastes,
and was highly esteemed by those who had the
privilege of her acquaintance. In her home are
many creations of her artistic skill, especially notice-
able being preparations of rare and beautiful sea
shells, which evidence her love of nature. Mrs.
Brooks died Oct. 28, 1899, and was buried in Guil-
ford cemetery. The Captain and Mrs. Brooks were
the parents of three children: (i) Oliver N., Jr.,
who died in infancy; (2) ^lary E., who married
Henry I. Thrall,, formerly of Guilford, now of Cuba,
has two children, Allison Irwin and Edith Amelia,
both born in Riverside, Cal. ; (3) Nancy Amelia.
who married Edwin G. Hewsted, a nephew of Prof.
Cyrus Northrop, president of the University of
Minnesota, and has two children, Oliver Brooks
and Edwin G. Capt. Brooks is a skilled taxider-
mist, and has a valuable collection of animals and
birds. Mrs. Thrall, his daughter, has much ability
in music and art.

HARVEY \V. BEACH, late of Branford, where
in his lifetime he was a successful and popular
business man, was bom 2^Iay i, 1834, in that bor-
ough, a son of Timothy and Esther (Cook) Beach.
The father, a native of Branford, and a farmer all
his life, was a son of Andrew Beach. The maternal
grandfather of Harvey W. Beach was Joseph Cook.
a resident of Branford for many years, who mar-
ried a Miss W'headon. He served as a private in
the war of the Revolution.



Harvey W. Beach grew to manhood in Bran-
ford, where he obtained his education in the com-
mon schools. A miller by trade, he owned and
operated a combined grist and sawmill. For many
I years he was in the ice business. During the Civil
war 2\Ir. Beach was a member of Company B, 27th
Conn. v. I., enlisting Aug. 22, 1862. He partici-
pated in the battles of Fredericksburg and Chan-
cellorsville, was taken prisoner May 3, 1863, in-
carcerated in Libby prison six days later, and pa-
roled on the 2 1 St of the same month. Air. Beach
was honorably discharged at New Haven after nine
I months' service. For some five years after his re-
turn from the war he was a member of the State
\ militia, in which he rose to the rank of captain.
' On coming home Mr. Beach resumed his busi-
ness of milling, and carried it on until his death.
May 3, 1881. He was married, Nov. 16, 1856, to
\ Cornelia Hubbard, daughter of Richard and Rhoda
' (Andrews) Hubbard, of Durham, Conn., and to
them were born nine children: (i) Willys E.. born
: Dec. 27, 1857, married Frederica Miller, and has
i one son. Lewis, born March 8. 1880. (2) An-
\ zonitta. born Dec. 20, 1858, died Dec. 12, 1863. (3)
Isaac P., born March 20, i860, married Grace
: Wheeler; they had no children. (4) Harvey E.,
born Aug. 14, 1861, died Aug. 30, 1862. (5) Cor-
: nelia A., born Jan. 20, 1863, married Walter Boyn-
I ton, and has two children — Nellie May, born May
I 15, 1885, and Clarence N., born April 29, 18S8.
j (6) Fred A. M., born Feb. 28, 1868, died April
i II, 1899. (7) Clara L., born Jan. 4, 1871, died
I Oct. 2, 1891. (8) Edna L., born Sept. 15, 1873,
died Jan. 3, 1874. 19) Ada "V. was bom Nov.

: 8, 1877.

Mr. Beach was a member of the Baptist Church,
with which his widow also unites. He was en-
rolled in Widows' Sons Lodge, No. -66, F. & A.
I !M. In politics he was a Republican.

! RUFUS M. GILLETTE, an honored and high-
ly respected citizen of Naugatuck, who is now liv-
I ing a retired life, was born in Prospect, this coun-
i ty, Alarch 30, 1829, and is of French descent. His
paternal grandfather, Benjamin Gillette, was born
in France, and on his emigration to America lo-
cated on a farm in Milford, New Haven Co., Conn.,
where he spent the remainder of his life. He had
only two children : Garret, father of our subject ;
and Benjamin, who never married and was en-
I gaged throughout life in farming in jMilford.

Garret Gillette was born and reared in Milford.
and there he was married. Oct. 23, 1804, to Nancy
Piatt, of the same town, but shortly after his mar-
riage he removed to Prospect and located upon a
farm, where he spent the remainder of his life,
dying there April 16, 1874. His wife passed away
May 6, 1841. To them were born eleven children,
as follows: Abigail, born Jan. i, 1810, married
; Lucius Talmadge. a farmer of Prospect, now de-
i ceased, and she died in Alarch, 1892; George S.,



,l:'..l::.! ■ I



,,..•7






n 1/




J^':>^^ .^^'lf2<^^uB4^



\



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



985



born March 26, 181 1, was a mechanic, and died in
Seymour; Alartha, born June 19, 1813, died Oct.
22, 1835; Nancy, born Nov. 4. 1815, died Aug. 29,
1836; Jonathan, born June 19, 1817, was a carpenter
of Prospect and died in 1880: Mary, bom Sept.
18, 1819, married Harry Smith, a manufacturer of
Prospect, and died Jan. i, 1877; William, born
Nov. 12, 1821, was a fanner of Milford, and died
in 1878; Sarah Ann, boni Jan. 8, 1S24, is the widow
of Harry iNIorse, a farmer of Prospect ; Bennett,
born Sept. 5, 1826, was a carpenter of Prospect,
and died in 1876; Rufus 'M., our subject, is next in
order of birth; and Garret, born Feb. 4, 1831, was
a fanner of Prospect, and died Dec. 8, 1878.

The boyhood and youth of Rufus M. Gillette
were passed in Prospect, and his education was ac-
quired in its district schools. In early life he
learned the carpenter's trade with his brother, and
continued to follow the same throughout his active
business life, but for the last three years he has lived
retired. On April i, 1896, he removed from Pros-
pect to Naugatuck, where he owns a beautiful home
and is surrounded by all the comforts which make
life worth the living.

Mr. Gillette was married, I\Iay 20, 1854, to Miss
Abigail Payne, also a native of Prospect and a
daughter of Stephen and Abigail (Doolittle) J^ayne,
who v/ere born in the same town. Her maternal
grandfather was Joseph Doolittle, a fanner of Pros-
pect. In early life her father was a speculator and
manufacturer of buttons, but later engaged in the
hotel business in Naugatuck. W'aterbury and !Mil-
ford. He died in 1892, and her mother departed
this life in 1854. To our subject and his wife were
born three children, namely : Ruble, who died at
the age of twenty-one years ; Mary, wife of George
W. Andrew, of Naugatuck ; and Joseph, an electri-
cian of New London, Connecticut.

Politically ^Ir. Gillette is identified with the Re-
publican party, and in 1888 he represented his town
in the State Legislature. He and his family are in-
fluential m.embers of the Congregational Church,
and he has always taken an active part in church
work. He has championed every movement de-
signed to promote the general welfare, has sup-
ported every enterprise for the public good, and
has materially aided in the advancement of all so-
cial, educational and moral interests. After a use-
ful and honorable career he can well afford to lay
aside all business cares and live in ease and retire-
ment at his elegant home in Naugatuck, which, in
its appointments, evinces the refinement and culture
of the inmates.

JOSEPH T. BEARD. The Beard family is
One of the oldest and most prominent in the town
of Milford, and the old homestead, now occupied
by the subject of this sketch, has been held by the
family since 1639 — the only tract of land in town
which can show a title running unchanged in one
family since the first settlement. The Fowler prop-



erty, with which the Beard homestead formerly
divided that honor, has changed hands, being sold
first to George Gunn, and by him to the New Haven
Water Company

Joseph 1'. Beard traces his descent from Capt.
John Beard, the pioneer, through Benjamin, son of
Capt. John; Joseph; Benjamin, who married Abi-
gail Clark ; Andrew ; and Joseph Beard, his father.

Andrew Beard, our subject's grandfather, was
born March 3, 1752, on his farm in Milford. Dur-
ing the Revolutionary war he ser\'ed as a soldier. He
married Susan Rogers (who was born in Milford)
Nov. 30, 1779, and eleven children came of this
union: Sally, 1781 ; Andrew, 1784; Andrew (2),
1786; Benjamin, 1788; Susan, 1790; Abigail, 1793;
Abigail (2), 1794; Mariah, 1796; David, 1798;
Joseph, 1800 (father of our subject) ; and jMinerva,
1802.

Joseph Beard was born in Alilford in May, 1800,
and, like his ancestors, carried on farming as an
occupation. Politically he was a Whig, and later a
Republican. His death occurred Oct. 4, 1870, from
an accident on a railway. He married Alary Ann
Baldwin, daughter of HezekiaJi Baldwin, of Alil-
ford, and she lived to the good old age of ninety-
two, dying Feb. 17, 1892.

Joseph T. Beard was born in Milford April 19,
1840, and, as the only child, inherited the home-
stead. He attended the district schools near his
home and the high school at Milford, and on leav-
ing school at the age of nineteen gave his attention
to farming as a business. He is a general farmer,
and is noted for his excellent management. At
present the farm comprises 200 acres, a portion of
his inheritance at the site of Naugatuck Junction
having been sold to the New York, New Haven &
Hartford Railroad Company.

Politically Mr. Beard is a Republican, and he
and his family are members of the Congregational
Church. In 1872 he married Miss Alice A. Davis,
of Seymour, Conn., and they have had five children :
Nellie is a school teacher in Milford ; Ernest T., a
farmer in Milford, married Fannie W. Booth, of
Shelton ; Alice married Fred AI. Smith, of Milford;
Warren is a machinist of Bridgeport, Conn. ; and
Harold is at home.

Mrs. Alice A. (Davis) Beard is of Welsh de-
scent in the paternal line, and her family is well
known in Seymour, where her grandfather. Dr.
James W. Davis, practiced medicine at an early day.
Her father, Henry P. Davis, was born in Smith-
town, Montgomery Co., N. Y., May 16, 1818, and
spent the greater portion of his life in Seymour.
His death occurred there March 31, 1885. By oc-
cupation he was an axmaker and later a farmer. He
married for his second wife Almira Steele Holcomb,
who was born in Seymour Feb. 22, 18 10, and died
Alarch 20, 1885. Of their three children, George
S. is a mechanic in Waterbury, Conn. ; Burr S. is
a miner in California ; and Alice A. married our
subject. The Steele family is one of the oldest in.



L/. j'. ..,.?'r>i



986



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



Seymour, and Mrs. Beard's maternal grandfather,
Deacon Bradford Steele, served for about eight
months in the Revolutionary army, enlisting about
July lo, 1777, as a lad of sixteen. His wife, Ruth
Wheeler, was born Sept. 17, 17O5, a daughter of
Simeon Wheeler, and died Feb. 20, 185b. Her
mother, Sarah Baldwin, who was born April 11,
1746, and died May 13, 1826, married tirst a Mr.
Wheeler, and second Capt. Bradford Steele. In
this line Mrs. Beard is a descendant of Sylvester
Baldwin, the pioneer, the line being traced as fol-
lows : Sylvenius, son of the pioneer ; Richard ;
Timothy ; and Capt. Timothy Baldwin, father of
Sarah Baldwin Wheeler.

WEBSTER. This well known and numerous
family of New England traces its line of descent to
John Webster, fifth Colonial governor of Connecti-
cut, who landed in Massachusetts Sept. 4, 1635.
He and his wife Agnes left \Varwickshire, England,
in the spring, and settled first in Cambridge, Alass.
During that year a company of one hundred persons
was organized to form a Colony on the banks of the
Connecticut river, and in June, 1636, a well ordered
band set forth. Gentlemen of fortune and rank
and delicately bred ladies were there, and bravely
endured the hardships of that journey over moun-
tains, through swamps, across rivers, and drove
their flocks and herds before them.

In Benjamin TrimibuH's "History of Connecti-
cut" we find the following: "For twenty years
Mr. John Webster had been annually chosen into
the magistracy of Connecticut, being elected Gov-
ernor in 1656. At the election in Hartford, May
17, 1655, Thomas Wells was elected Governor, and
John Webster Deputy Governor. At the election
in 1656 John Webster was elected Governor, and
Thomas Wells Deputy Governor. At the election
in 1657 John Winthrop was elected Governor,
Thomas Wells Deputy Governor, and John Webster
Chief Magistrate. Mr. Webster removed to Had-
ley, Mass., in 1659." During this entire period he
was active in the administration of public affairs,
and the records show him to have acted in nearly
every impvortant movement. In 1639 he was one
of a committee appointed to confer with a like com-
mittee from Xew Haven concerning the best way
to treat with the Indians regarding their murderous
attacks at Middletown. In 1640 he acted on another
committee, which in this day and generation seems
extremely curious if not futile, "to consult with the
elders of both plantations" to prepare instructions
for the punishment of lying, "which begins to be
practiced by many people in the commonwealth."
In 1645 ^^'S find him as one of a committee ap-
pointed by the General Court to arrange "all par-
ticulars and several charges of the late war and
for the support of Uncas" — the "late war" referring
to trouble with the Narragansett Indians, and a little
later, when Long Island was threatened by the
Dutch and Ninigrate, he was appointed with others



to secure a frigate of some ten guns for the neces-
sary defense. In 1649 ^^"^ ^'^w England Congress
employed him to levy on the towns for the neces-
sary men and ammunition for the Indian troubles.
Besides all these various duties it is found that he
surveyed highways, administered justice, looked
after the impost duties, and the exportation of pro-
visions in times of scarcity, and he assisted in draw-
ing up legal papers and petitions. During the time
he was a member of the Xew England Congress he
was one of the authorities on Indian troubles, both
as regards protection from them, and as regards the
Indians' conversion to Christianity and his educa-
tion at Cambridge. The fact that the papers and
correspondence on these topics were written in
Latin speaks well for the educational standing of
the men in the Colony.

During his administration as governor there
seems to have been a period of comparative quiet.
The term of otTice was for but one year, and not
until 1660 could the same person be elected gov-
ernor more than once in two years. The duties of
governor were varied, and for a long time no com-
pensation was received, but in 1647, owing to the
many expenses, the sum of thirty pounds was
granted.

For some time there had been an increasing dif-
ference on the subject of religion, the disputed
points being chiefly baptism, and various rules in
church government. Gov. Webster and many other
prominent members' of the Colony advocated the
strictest construction of doctrines, denying baptism
to any but the children of members in full com-
munion. He was firm in his belief, and in the de-
bates that occurred he took an active part, and when
after all other ways had been tried it was decided
to found a new Colony at Hadley, in Massachusetts,
he signed the agreement, dated April 18, 1659.
After locating at Hadley he seems to have had
much to do with the laying out of the town, but
shortly after became ill, and in 1661 passed to his
last rest. He had a family of four sons and three
daughters. The eldest, Robert, ultimately located
in Hartford in the old homestead, widi his wife
Susannah. Dr. Noah Webster, of New Haven, was
a lineal descendant of Gov. Webster, through
Robert. The children mentioned in Gov. Webster's
will are : Robert ; Thomas, who married Abigail
Alexander, of Northampton, Mass.. where he set-
tled, and where he died in 1686, leaving several
children ; William, who, with Thomas, inherited the
estate at Hadley, married Man.' Reeves in 1671,
and died in Hadley in 1687 or 1688; Matthew, who
settled in Farmington, and died there leaving a
son, John ; Anne, who m,arried John Marsh, of Had-
ley: Elizabeth, who married William Markham,
of Hadley: and ^Mary, who married a Mr. Hunt, by
whom she had a daughter, Mary, who married John
Ingersoll, of Westfield. and their descendants are
now the Injjersolls of Connecticut.

(II) Robert Webster, eldest son of Gov. John






'n;. I ,



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



987



Webster, married Siisai'.nah Treat, daughter of
Richard Treat, of W'ethersfield, Conn. They made
their home in Middletown, Conn., and in 1651 Rob-
ert Webster became the first recorder of the town.
In 1660 they removed to Hartford, where he died
in 1676, and his wife in 1705. Their children were:
Jolm, born Xov. 10, 1653; Sarah, born June 30,
1655; Jonathan, born Jan. 9, 1657; Susannah, born
Oct. 25, 1659; Samuel, Joseph, William and Mary.
There is no record other than the names of the four
children last mentioned.

(III) Jonathan Webster, son of Robert, was
twice married. His first wife was Dorcas Hop-
kins, of Hartford, where he, too, made his home,
and by her he had five children : Jonathan, born
March 18, 1682; Susannah, born April 25, 1686;
Mary, born Sept. 29, 168S; ^lehitable. born ^tlarch
8, 1691 ; and Stephen, born Jan. 21, 1693. His sec-
ond wife was, in her maidenhood, Alary Judd,
daughter of Thomas Judd. of Farmington, Conn.,
and she bore him but one child. Benjamin, born
Aug. 9, 1698.

(IV) Benjamin Webster, son of Jonathan, ap-
pears on the records as "Deacon Webster," and he
made his home in Litchfield. Conn., where he mar-
ried Elizabeth Peck, daughter of Deacon Paul Peck,
and died July 10. 1755. He was the father of
seven children: James, born June 2. 1734: Elijah.
born Dec. 28, 1732; Benjamin, born Dec. 8, 1736;
Stephen, born in Litchfield May 21, 1739; Elizabeth,
born Jan. 23, 1741 ; Charles, born March 9, 1743;
and John, born April 3, 1747.

(V) Stephen Webster, son of Benjamin, mar-
ried Hanor Kilbourn. daughter of James Kilbourn,



Online LibraryChicago Beers (J.H.) & Co.Commemorative biographical record of New Haven county, Connecticut, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and of many of the early settled families .. (Volume 1, pt.3) → online text (page 50 of 94)