Emily C. (Emily Carrie) Hawley.

Historical sketch of the First Congregational Church of Brookfield, Connecticut, and of the town of Brookfield online

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Hamlin home. Here also is the schoolhouse, and the

108 Historical Sketch

Louis Coville home and saw mill, the Wildman home-
stead, the Barlow home, the Bronson place, the Jones,
Bowdy, Corbin, and Morehouse places, and nearer to
the New Fairfield line are the homes of Charles Camp,
Mrs. Edwin Weld, Miss Bradley, Charles Wildman,
and the Ransom place.





Every town having fifty families was required by
law to maintain a school in early colonial days, and
a school of higher grade in county towns. The select-
men of each town were required to see that heads of
families instructed their children and servants to read
the English tongue well, likewise to instruct them in
religious principles. The penalty was twenty shillings
for neglect to comply with this law. The catechism
was taught weekly in the schools of the colonies, and
each family therein was provided with a copy of the
sacred Scriptures.

The legislature provided that the laws governing the
colonies be taught in the families of the settlers.

Connecticut for some years contributed to the sup-
port of Harvard College (founded in 1638) and young
men seeking college education were sent there until
Yale College was founded in 1701.

In January, 1756, the Society of Newbury voted to
keep a school six months ; two months in the New
Milford portion of the parish ; two months in the Dan-

110 Historical Sketch

bury portion, and two months in the Newtown portion.
The school committee of the first named district being
Lieut. Benjamin Ruggles, David Smith, Peter Hub-
bell; of the second district, Ronald Bostwick, Ben-
jamin Stevens, John Dunning; of the third district,
John Camp, Henry Peck, George Smith.

The school money was raised by a tax of one
farthing on the pound on the whole list of the in-
habitants. In 1769 four schools are mentioned in
Newbury as needing money for their support ; namely,
South School (Whisconier), Center School, Obtuse
School, and Pokono School. In 1771 it was voted by
the Society of Newbury that all on the west side of the
Still River should be a school by themselves.

Brookfield now has seven and one half school dis-
tricts ; the number of pupils registered one hundred
and fifty-two; the number enumerated, between the
ages of four and sixteen, being one hundred and
ninety-eight. The East and West Iron Works schools
were consolidated in 1906, the consolidation taking
effect June 15, 1907. The annual expense of main-
taining the schools of Brookfield the past year was
two thousand four hundred and fifty-five dollars.

The town received from the state to meet the school
expenses four hundred and fifty dollars on the enum-
eration grant, and seven hundred and seventy-one dol-
lars on the average attendance grant ; this last grant is

Schools 111

made to all towns whose grand list is below half a mil-
lion dollars, the object being to help these towns to
improve their schools ; the only change made in this
respect has been to lengthen the school year from
thirty-six to thirty-eight weeks.

The officers of the present school board are as fol-
lows : President, Frederick H. Beers ; secretary and
acting visitor, Edson N. Hawley; other members of
the board, F. S. Curtis, Dr. C. A. Ryder, S. B. Terrill,
C. S. Williams. Mr. E. N. Hawley has served as
secretary and school visitor for ten years.

Select Schools in Brookfield

In 1799 the selectmen were authorized to pay forty-
five dollars, that the upper story of the town hall
might be finished off and used for school purposes ; and
a joint committee from each school district was ap-
pointed to secure a teacher to teach this school. Miss
Skilton was at one time a teacher employed to teach
this school, and later Miss Kate Goodsell. A build-
ing erected by Elmer B. Northrop, just north of his
residence, was for a time used for select school pur-

A fund of about four hundred dollars was left by
Mrs. Mary Northrop, the income from which was to
be devoted to high school purposes. This fund is now
held by the town of Brookfield.

112 Historical Sketch

In 1840 Mr. Edward Robbins opened a school at the
Center, which was in operation for more than ten years,
some of the time in Masonic Hall. Mr. Robbins is
remembered as an excellent teacher.

Miss Ellen Williams, daughter of Dr. A. L. Wil-
liams, taught a private school in her father's residence
from 1852 to 1853.

Miss Julia Williams, a normal graduate, conducted
a private school in her father's home from! 1853 to 1855.
Also taught from 1859 to 1865 in St. Paul's School for
Boys, Brookfield Center. (Mrs. J. W. Skidmore.)

From 1868 to 1878 a select school was conducted
here under the patronage of Mrs. C. V. B. Booraem.
The school building was opposite the Episcopal

From 1879 to 1881 Miss Emily C. Hawley taught a
private school in the school building now occupied by
the Curtis School.

Miss Wilhelmine Skidmore, after a course of study
at Windsor and Wellesley College, opened in 1889 a
private school in her home, which she conducted for
about ten years. Since 1904 Miss Skidmore has been
assistant instructor at the Curtis School, Brookfield.

Boarding Schools

St. Paul's School for Boys was founded in 1858
by Rev. Henry D. Noble, at one time Episcopal rector

Frederick S. Curtis
Master of the Curtis School

Schools 113

here; the school secured a wide popularity. The
school property being the present residences of S. B.
Terrill, Esq., and Mrs. Skidmore. This school was
conducted for ten years or more, Mr. J. W. Sagendorf
being assistant principal during the later years. The
double row of beautiful elms at this site was planted
by Mr. Noble.

The Curtis School for Boys, established in 1875
by Frederick S. Curtis, a Yale alumnus, was removed
from Bethlehem, Conn., to Brookfield Center, Conn., in
1883, and has been a permanent and growing institution
here for twenty-four years. Mr. Curtis was located
from 1883 to 1886 "on the hill," but in 1886 purchased
the present school property of the Goodsell estate,
which he has greatly enlarged and beautified. Mr.
Curtis, by methods entirely his own, has built up a
school which is to-day widely known and of high
reputation ; pupils from remote parts of the country
are students here. The school at present numbers
twenty-eight pupils and five instructors beside numer-
ous helpers. The school property comprises a large
modern dormitory and home, a schoolhouse, gym-
nasium, master's study, caretaker's home, and about
fifty acres of ground. In November, 1906, a fire de-
stroyed the gymnasium, which has just been rebuilt.
The school is unsectarian, but the pupils and teachers
attend the Congregational Church, and because of their

114 Historical Sketch

numbers and interest have made a place for themselves
in the local church.

The "Jolm Hawley Bible Training School" was
opened by Rev. Frank K. Hawley in 1895 at his com-
modious home on Whisconier Hill. The school was in
active operation for seven years, the object of school
being to train laymen for home and foreign mission
work. Six persons went out from the school to the
foreign field, among the number Rev. William P.
Knapp and wife. Monthly religious services are now
conducted by Mr. Hawley at his home, including a
summer gathering for conference. Mr. and Mrs. Clar-
ence Keeler are also interested in this work.

School of Music

In 1901 Prof. Herbert W. Greene of New York City
removed his Summer School of Music to Brookfield
Center, and during the seven years of its residence
here over two hundred pupils have been in attendance,
who represent many states. The school property em-
braces five buildings pleasantly located. A course of
instructive lectures and recitals is annually given by
the school, the lecturers and artists being of high grade.
The department work is as follows : Pianoforte,
theory, vocal, organ, violin, sight singing, and art.

Churches 115

Episcopal Society

January 21, 1785, fifty-five persons lodged a certifi-
cate with the clerk of the First Ecclesiastical Society
of Newbury, declaring themselves "to belong to the
Episcopal Church." They built a church edifice on the
triangular spot opposite the residence of Elmer H.
Northrop, Esq., where they worshiped until their
present church edifice was constructed in 1837.

For a complete list of the rectors of this church see
the Addendum. Rev. E. L. Whitcome was the faithful
rector of this parish from 1877 to 1906, a period of
about thirty years, being closely identified with the in-
terests of this town. He resigned in 1906 and is living
at Poughkeepsie, N. Y. Rev. Clarence S. Mullikin be-
came rector of this church early in 1907. Mr. Mulli-
kin is a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary,
class of 1902-03. He was ordained to the diaconate in
1903 and settled in Alaska, remaining one year and a
half at Sitka and the same length of time at Skaguay.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 1906 by Bishop
Rowe. Frederick Beers and Stanley B. Terrill are the
wardens of this church, and Charles Stuart is the treas-
urer of the society.

It is interesting to note at this time that the Episco-
pal Church in Connecticut celebrated her bi-centennial

116 Historical Sketch

in June, 1907, at Stratford, where the First Episcopal
Church in Connecticut was organized two hundred
years ago.

Methodist Society

In 1837 members of the Methodist faith residing at
Southville and Brookfield purchased the old Episcopal
edifice and organized a society, worshiping in this
building until about 1857, when they built an edifice
at Brookfield (Iron Works), which they occupied until
1867, when the society became extinct. Methodist
brethren living north of the Iron Works worshiped in
this church after services were abandoned at Gallows
Hill Church.

Reformed Church

In 1868 Henry B. Hawley, Esq., purchased the
Methodist Church edifice and remodeled it.

In 1869 Mr. Hawley invited the Reformed Church
of New York City to organize a church. This was
done by "classis" ; twenty persons constituted the orig-
inal membership, eleven persons coming from the Con-
gregational Church. Sabbath school was gathered
February, 1869, consisting of thirty scholars and six
teachers. It increased in five years to seventy-five
scholars ; church membership to about eighty members.
During a revival season in 1876 thirty-six persons
united with the church on profession of faith.

Henry B. Hawley

Churches 117

The Reformed Church organization existed for six-
teen years, or until 1883, with pastors as follows:
Rev. Sanford W. Roe, Rev. Ransford Wells, D. D.,
Rev. F. E. Allen, Rev. F. M. Bogardus. Ordained
elders were : H. B. Hawley, R. G. Knapp, J. F. Ben-
nett. Deacons were Hiram Manville and A. S.

Episcopal Mission

In 1883 Mr. Hawley removed to Danbury and in-
vited the Episcopal and Congregational churches to
assume charge of the religious services at the Re-
formed Church edifice. Rev. E. L. Whitcome, rector
of the Episcopal Church, accepted and for more than
twenty years conducted Sabbath day services in this
church (from 1884 to 1906). Rev. C. S. Mullikin has
continued the services since 1907.

Mr. John Bateman has been the faithful superin-
tendent and chorister for more than thirty years, dur-
ing the period of Reformed Church and present

Baptist Church

In 1846 the Baptist Church edifice was built. Rev.
William Biddle was the first pastor and remained so
until 1854. He resided near the church until his
death in 1877 and frequently preached in this church.

118 Historical Sketch

Building was converted into a dwelling a few years

Catholic Church

About the year 1867 the Catholic community at
Brookfield gathered for religious services in the home
of Mrs. Mary Meaney, and for twenty-five years her
home was their meeting place. This mission at that
period was in the parish of Newtown.

In 1892 St. Joseph's Catholic Church was built here.
Since 1881 this church has been within the parish of
New Milford, and Rev. John Burke, curate, and Father
T. J. Cronin officiate. The present membership is
about two hundred.


Dr. Preserve Wood was the first resident physician
in Newbury-Brookfield ; he is frequently mentioned in
the Society records, being prominent in the affairs of
Newbury. Dr. Wood was born in Danbury in the
year 1756. He was the grandson of Danbury's first
physician, Dr. Samuel Wood, who came from England.
I am unable to ascertain the number of years he
practiced in Newbury, but judge that it was twenty-
five at least. Dr. Wood died in Brookfield in 1806 and
was interred in the South Cemetery; his brother, Dr.
John Wood, was practicing physician in Danbury.

Physicians 119

Dr. Philo Merwin, born on the site of the present
Merwin residence in the year 1765, practiced medi-
cine in this town for thirty years ; he studied with Dr.
Preserve Wood. In 1825 Dr. Merwin retired from
active practice, but was called in consultation up to
the time of his death in 1844. He lived to the age of
eighty-three years.

Dr. Lemuel Thomas practiced in Brookfield at one
time, but removed to New Milford, where he died in
1798. He was born in Newtown, Conn.

Dr. Arza Canfield was born in 1798. He came
from Bridgewater and practiced here, where he died
in 1826, in his twenty-eighth year. He was interred at
South Cemetery.

Dr. Eli Perry was practicing physician in the early
days of the town. He lived on the site where Benjamin
Hawley built a residence in 1854, now the home of
Stephen Osborne, Esq.

Noah Lacey, M. D., practiced in Brookfield many
years. His residence is now owned by Lucius S.
Hawley. Dr. Lacey was a man of ability; he was a
member of the Constitutional Convention which formu-
lated our state constitution in 1818. He died in Wis-
consin, being nearly one hundred years of age. Three
of his sons were physicians — Edwin Lacey, William
F. Lacey, Thomas Lacey. Dr. Edwin practiced in

120 Historical Sketch

Brookfield, Dr. W. F. in Danbury, and Dr. Thomas in
Racine, Wis.

Dr. Chauncey Stewart, who came from Sherman
to this town, was resident physician in 1830-1833 and

Dr. Chamberlain was also engaged in medical
practice in Brookfield. I believe that he lived where
Hiram D. Hawley now resides.

Dr. Edwin Lacey, son of Dr. Noah Lacey, was
born in Brookfield. He lived and practiced his pro-
fession in the house formerly used as an Episcopal rec-
tory, and removed when present rectory was built. His
brother, W. F. Lacey, M. D., was practicing physician
in Danbury from 1814 to time of his death.

Dr. Amos L. Williams located in Brookfield in
March, 1833, his professional life here extending over
sixty-three years. Dr. Williams was born in 1811 in
Lebanon, Conn. He studied with his brother, Dr.
W. C. Williams of Roxbury, Conn., for two years, and
in 1831-32 attended a course of medical lectures in
New Haven, after which he was licensed to practice.
In a few months Dr. Williams located in Brookfield.
In 1840 he attended a course of medical lectures and
was graduated from Jefferson Medical College, Phila-
delphia, Pa. Dr. Williams was widely known and

Junius F. Smith, M. D.
For Seventeen Years Physician in Brookfield

Physicians 121

highly esteemed. He served the town in various
capacities for more than half a century, being medical
examiner, postmaster, registrar, and in 1883 repre-
sented the town in the legislature, being a member of
the committee on humane institutions. Dr. Williams
died in 1896 in his eighty-fifth year, being the oldest
member of the Fairfield County Medical Society.

Dr. Junius F. Smith located in Brookfield in 1890.
He was born in New Marlboro, Mass., in 1865. In
1887 he commenced the study of medicine with Dr.
W. S. Watson of Danbury, Conn., and entered the
Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn in the year
1887, from which he graduated in 1890. Dr. Smith
also received a post graduate course in New York City
and took a position on the staff of the Manhattan Eye
and Ear Hospital for several years. In 1898 Dr.
Smith opened offices in Danbury, which he continued
until the time of his death. Dr. Smith's professional
life in Brookfield extended over seventeen years, and
he was regarded as a physician of skill and ability.
Dr. Smith was a member of Fairfield County Medical
Society, and the state society. In 1906 Dr. Smith was
elected to represent Brookfield at the General Assem-
bly. His death occurred in Brookfield April 22, 1907,
in his forty-second year.

Dr. Arthur W. Griswold practiced here, residing

122 Historical Sketch

at the Iron Works, for a few years. He left Brook-
field about 1902.

Dr. Charles A. Ryder commenced the practice of
medicine in Brookfield February, 1904. Dr. Ryder
was born in Redding in 1874 ; prepared for college at
Betts Academy, Stamford, Conn. ; graduated from
Yale University Medical School in 1898 ; was interne
for one year in the Willard Parker and Riverside Hos-
pital, New York City. Practiced medicine in Water-
bury four years, and at Cornwall-Bridge one year
previous to locating in Brookfield.

Dr. Otis W. Sedgewick commenced the practice of
medicine in Brookfield in the spring of 1907 in the
office of Dr. Smith.



Revolutionary War

The first military company was organized in New-
bury-Brookfield in 1761. The General Assembly ap-
pointed Capt. Joseph Ruggles, Jr., the captain of this
company ; he was then thirty years of age. This mili-
tary company served under Wooster at Danbury in
1777. Pastor Brooks was without doubt an ardent
defender of the Declaration of Independence, as I find
that he appeared before the town clerk at Newtown in
October, 1777, and then and there took the oath of
fidelity to this declaration.

Four of Pastor Brooks' sons served in the Con-
tinental army. One of these sons, Samuel Lewis
Brooks, born in 1750, commanded a battery of artillery
under General Washington at West Point ; also
served under General Lafayette and was with him at
the siege of Yorktown. He died in 1846, being ninety-
six years of age. A complete list of men who served
in this war from Newbury may be found in "Men of
the Revolution in the Continental Army."

124 Historical Sketch

War of 1812

In 1812 Lieutenant Ruggles, descendant of Capt.
Joseph Ruggles, Jr., headed a company of volunteers
and went to New London for service.

Congress in 1818 adopted the flag designed by
Captain Reid, a Fairfield County man.

In 1840 the Fairfield East Association of Ministers
opposed the idea of holding a convention of ministers
in Hartford to discuss and take action on the slavery

The writer's father has related to her that in 1837,
when an anti-slavery sermon was being delivered from
the pulpit of this church, his father leading him by the
hand, and in company with other men, left the church.
These men subsequently became strong anti-slavery

War of the Rebellion, 1860-1865

Fifty-seven men enlisted from Brookfield, and ten
died in the service of their country. William H. H.
Williams, son of Dr. Williams, entered the navy as as-
sistant quartermaster; he became later quartermaster;
he was presented with a sword by the townspeople.
Major Williams now resides in New York.

The ladies of this town frequently met to sew for
the soldiers and to assist in supplying them with com-

Town Affairs 125

I find on the church records in 1864 the following:
"It was voted at a church meeting that Miss Augusta
Pugsley be sent to the hospital to assist in the care of
wounded soldiers." Whether Miss Pugsley undertook
this work or not I do not know. The writer can recall,
as a little child, the death of Lincoln. Riding with my
parents from New York City to this town the morning
following this dreadful event, I remember the ex-
cited and sorrowful crowds of people at every sta-
tion. A great man had fallen, for, as Maurice Thomp-
son wrote of him : —

" He was the Southern mother leaning forth,
At dead of night to hear the cannon roar,
Beseeching God to turn the cruel North

And break it that her son might come once more ;
He was New England's maiden, pale and pure,
Whose gallant lover fell on Shiloh's plain ;

He was the North, the South, the East, the West,

The thrall, the master, all of us in one ;
There was no section that he held the best;

His love shone as impartial as the sun."

The Spanish-American War, 1898

The Spanish-American War of 1898, undertaken by
our government to free Cuba from the yoke of Spanish

126 Historical Sketch

misrule, was of such brief duration, happily, as not to
demand the service of volunteers from this community,
although men were called into the service from neigh-
boring towns.

John W. Sagendorf of Brookfield went to Cuba,
being employed as clerk to the assistant quartermaster
of a transport which conveyed United States troops to
and from the island. His position was a civil service


The charter under which Connecticut lived from
1662 to 1818 provided that the legislative power be
vested in two branches, the Council and House of
Representatives. The old towns were entitled to two
representatives elected in the spring and fall, being
chosen for six months each; but after 1818 there was
but one stated session, in May. After the change in
the constitution in 1876 the session was in January.
Brookfield's first representatives were Henry Peck
and Joseph Smith. It was no small undertaking for
the representatives of the early days to discharge the
duties of their office ; the journey to and from the legis-
lature was taken by private conveyance, sometimes on
horseback, all of which necessitated long journeys and
protracted absence from their homes. For a complete
list of town representatives see Addendum.

Town Affairs 127

Probate Court at Brookfield

Previous to the year 1850, all estates settled in this
town were probated at Newtown. Newtown was a
part of the probate district of Danbury from 1744 to
1820; therefore, up to 1820 the records of Brookfield
estates are to be found at Danbury, and from 1820 to
1850 at Newtown. In the year 1850 a probate dis-
trict was established for Brookfield, and the first estate
probated here was that of Mrs. Philena Wildman, who
died at the Iron Works in November, 1850, and was
interred at Gallows Hill Cemetery.

Judges of Probate in Brookfield

Judge Ebenezer Blackman was the first judge of
this district, serving from 1850 to 1859.

Judge Curtis Morris served from 1859 to 1867.

Judge Robert G. Knapp followed from 1867 to

Judge Homer Lake, elected in 1869 ; died soon

Judge Henry O. Lake served from 1869 to 1873.

Judge Samuel Sherman held the office from 1873
to 1874.

Judge Benjamin Griffen, elected in 1874, served
until 1905, a period of thirty-one years. Judge Griffen

128 Historical Sketch

was an efficient and valuable incumbent of this office.
He died September, 1906.

Judge Henry W. Griffen, his son, occupied the
office from 1905 to 1907.

Judge William B. Roe was elected to the office in
1907. Judge Roe is the grandson of the first probate
judge of Brookfield, and the ninth judge in this pro-
bate district. Judge Roe has held various town offices,
and brings to this office experience and legal knowl-

From 1850 to 1876 the probate judge was elected
annually; since 1876 the term has been two years.

It may be here stated that previous to our incorpora-
tion in 1788, some estates may have been settled in
New Milford. If so, they would be found in Wood-
bury Probate Records, as New Milford was included
in that district up to 1789.


In 1810 I find that the town of Brookfield had a
population of 1,037; a company of militia; two grain
mills; a fulling mill; four taverns; a social library;
one physician ; two clergymen ; two attorneys ; several
quarries were in operation.

In 1810, the population of Brookfield numbered
1,445 ; in 1844 it was reduced to 1,250:

Town Affairs 129

The last enumeration showed 1,060. In common with
a large number of the New England country towns
there has been a slow but sure decline in population,
and a change in the character of the community life.
Other types are manifest, and these elements are shap-
ing themselves into a new American character, which
must solve new problems, even as those of earlier
generations solved those of the formative period of
New England life.


In 1840 Brookfield came into connection with the

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Online LibraryEmily C. (Emily Carrie) HawleyHistorical sketch of the First Congregational Church of Brookfield, Connecticut, and of the town of Brookfield → online text (page 6 of 8)