Sheldon B. (Sheldon Brainerd) Thorpe.

North Haven annals : a history of the town from its settlement, 1680, to its first centennial, 1886 online

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point. The reas6ns alleged were that a Public Build-
ing was needed, and would better serve as a memorial
than^ a granite monument. On this issue the com-
munity became divided. A portion of the local clcrgv
unaccountably entered the lists, and ignoring the
existence of the veteran element, antagonized the
original plans. Under the specious pretext of a Mem-
orial Hall, the taxpayers were appealed to to reverse
their previous action. The veterans were not caught
by this logic. To their everlasting credit be it said.
they remained true to the belief that no building or
pile of buildings under'the whole heaven as fitlv com-


memorates and emphasizes the patriotism of the
Union soldier before the world, as the simple
granite shaft surmounted by the well-known war-
rior figure.

The winter passed in more or less agitation of the
matter. The veterans pressed the canvass for funds,
and it began to be seen that the spring would witness
the laying of the foundation of the monument.
Another special town meeting was petitioned for and
held February 3, 1886. This gathering was largely
attended, and with the following results :

Voted, That in memory of the soldiers who served in the late
war, and for the uses of the town, we, the legal voters and citi-
zens of the town of North Haven, do erect a hall within one year
from this date, to be known as Memorial Hall, at a cost to the
town not exceeding §5,000, and that the sum of one and one-half
mills on the dollar on the grand list as last completed be hereby
appropriated from the treasury of the town towards the payment
of the cost of said hall.

Voted, That the additional expense thereof, over and above
the aforesaid appropriation, be defrayed by five annual payments
from the treasury of the town, unless the town shall otherwise

Voted, That the vote passed at the meeting of October 5, 1SS5,
appropriating one and one-half mills on the grand list of the town
for the erection of a soldiers' monument, be rescinded.*

These resolutions were the death blow to the mon-
ument. The veterans did not violently assail the
Public Building project; they were suddenly left in a
hopeless minority. It was felt they could better afford
to wait the unerring verdict of time than force a bit-
ter partisan fight on the community. Public opinion,
influenced by need rather than by patriotism, they
recognized as a stubborn foe, and so retreated,
defeated and humiliated.

At the meeting mentioned above a building com-
mittee was appointed to contract at once for the

* Town Journal.


erection of a public hall. It was made up as {>>]
lows :

Romanta T. Linsley, \

Willis B. Hemingway, - Selectvien.

Frederic E. Jacobs, )

Isaac L. Stiles, ^

Rev. W. T. Reynolds, - Citizens.

Isaac E. Mansfield, ;

SolomQn F. Linsley. \

Sheldon B. Thorpe, [- Ex-Soldiers.

Dr. Robert B. Goodyear, )

Organization of this committee was effected at
once. A lot was purchased from the Cowles estate,
plans for a 'building- adopted, and ground broken ^lay
10, 1886. It had been voted by the town the year pre-
vious to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of
its incorporation the next October, and hence the
appropriateness of dedicating the new hall at the
same time.

The contract for erection was awarded to Solomon
F. Linsley. The work was driven forward durin;.;' the
summer with all possible speed, but as early as Octo-
"ber it was foreseen the building could not be com-
pleted in season for the Centennial ceremonies.
Attention was then turned to finishing such portions
of it as wotild be most needed on that occasion. A
popular concert to be given as the inauguration of
the joyful occasion, seemed to call especially for hall
privileges, and consequently the upper floor was com-
pleted first.


The building is of brick, manufactured by I. L.
Stiles & Son, 43 feet by 75 deep. A projection of \2
feet in front, semi-circular in style, and carried to
the top of the structure, contains two winding stair-
cases, which meet in the vestibule on the second floor.
On the first floor a wide hall extends from the
entrance to the court room in the rear. On the ri<2ht


the Bradley Library Association has its quarters,
occupying one-fourth of the lower floor. Directly
opposite is, first, the town clerk's office and vault, and
then the selectmen's room. A narrow passage con-
nects the two apartments. The vault for records is a
heavy piece of masonry, built from the foundation
and provided with modern methods of protection
from fire. Beneath this vault are constructed two
cells for the durance of local criminals.

The rear half of the building is devoted to a large
apartment more definitely known as the "court
room," or "grange room." Here the Patrons of Hus-
bandry have their headquarters. A side entrance
admits not only to the main floor, but to the basement
and rear of stage in the hall above. The entire
arrangement of the building has been found very con-
venient under the test of practical use.

The second floor furnishes one of the pleasantest
halls found in country public buildings. The entire
area is made available. The roof is finished to the
peak and supported by huge trusses. The stage is
conveniently arranged and mounted with suitable
scenery. Settees of approved pattern offer seating
accommodations, and a light and commodious gallery
is provided for patrons of such places. The inside
finish is of hard pine and whitewood. The cost was
not far from §8,000.'

There is a wide divergence of opinion as to
whether after all this building fitly expresses its
builders' design.

The only discoverable external features of a mem-
orial nature are these words raised on granite blocks
across its front :





To the strang-er such is an indefinite inscription.
So many memorial strvictures are erected from other
than patriotic motives in this day, that the hick i.f
specific statement, either by word or device, makes
this pile valueless as an object lesson. Furthermore,
even within its doors no emblem to denote its charac-
ter is seen until a small marble tablet, six feet bv
three, set in the vestibule on the second floor is
pointed out as containing the names of those who
died in service during the Rebellion. They are as

Leverett M. Rogers, Walstein Goodyear, Joseph O.
Blair, John McCormick, Frederic G. Eaton, Theodore
Bradley, Harvey S. Hoadley, Oliver T. Smith, Hobart
A. Bassett, Edgar S. Bradley, Henry Culver, Rus-
sell Hills, Samuel M. Linsley, Jacob F. Linsley,
Augustus G. Morse, Milton B. Pardee, Merton L.
Smith, Horace Waters, Ellsworth Bradley, Albert E.

Various attempts were made by the veteran sol-
•diers to secure upon the walls of the main hall some
recognition of the services of their comrades, together
with patriotic insignia indicating the intention of its
builders. To all such suggestions the committee
turned a deaf ear. As the building progressed it
became more and more apparent that its chief promo-
tors sought more' a public edifice than a soldiers'
memorial, and the sequel abundantly proved it. No
provision whatever was made for an assembling place
or headquarters for the veterans, and for some three
years after its completion the latter body was required
to pay rent for holding its meetings in it. As an expres-
sion therefore of the wishes of the living defenders
of the nation, it is a failure. Their ultimate hope
rests in the descendants of the old native born North
Haven families to provide yet some truer memorial
sacred to the four score and five souls who defended
their country in the houf of its need.



This institution, located in the above mentioned
building, is indebted for its existence to the Hon.
Silas Leverius Bradley of Auburn, N. Y. Mr. Bradley-
was the son of Solomon and Lora Bradley and grand-
son of Tittis Bradley. The paternal homestead stood
on the east side of the street a few rods north of the
magnificent elm tree near the residence of Charles H.
Thorpe. Titus Bradley was an extensive land holder
and one of the leading citizens of the town. He had
a large family, the most of whom inherited their
parents' v.'orth and integrity. Solomon, the father of
the subject of this narrative, was not of this favored
number. The tavern had more attractions for him
than the church, and destitution and V/ant, therefore,
were no strangers at his fireside. Silas Leverius was
the youngest of the family. His early education was
obtained at the "old red school house on the green."
When fifteen years old, or in 1831, he united with
the Rev. W. J. Boardman's church, a step unusual
at so tender an age. It was soon after this im-
portant act that he began his business career.
Obtaining two small, tin trunks, such as were in use
by peddlers, he found in Joel Ray, a noted mer-
•chant at ^Mansfield's Bridge, a large-hearted friend.
Mr. Ray generously filled his trunks with such
"household notions" as were in demand, requiring
no security but the boy's word. At first his journeys
were on foot around the town; later he widened his
circuit and on orie occasion traveled so far east as
Norwich, Conn. Here he fell in with a merchant who
persuaded him to abandon his old battered trunks
and enter his employ. He was fitted out with a wagon
and made repeated circuits of the state, increasing
his trade and popularity at every trip. It was in the
line of this duty that he eventually reached Auburn,
N. Y. Here he was again persuaded to make another
vchange, and entered the employ of a ]\Ir. Lester. This


was in 1837. A few years later he became a partner w.
the house. In 1841 he married ^liss Jane Loomis o:
Auburn, and prepared to make his home in that bust-
ling village. Thither he removed his mother in licr
declining years.

It is probable that under like adverse circum-
stances no other North Haven boy ever attained the
honors and position Mr. Bradley won. In all circks
his counsfel was unquestionably followed. In 1841 he-
was chosen an elder in the Second Presbyterian
Church of Auburn. In i860 he was elected a director
in the First National bank, and in sixteen years rose
to be its vice-president, followed a year later by his
elevation tp its presidency. Besides this, he had
other positions of trust, all of which were as carefully
managed as his personal affairs.

Such a course could not but win friends, wealth
and respect ; he had all in abundance, insomuch that
at the day of his death, April 17, 1S83, the city of
Auburn mourned his loss as a universal one.*

By the provisions of Mr. Bradley's will it was
found he had not forgotten the home of his boyhood.
A legacy of $1,000 was granted on condition the incor-
poration of a public library association was secured
within one year from the date of his decease.

Notice of a public meeting to take action upon this
bequest was issued' by Edward L. Linsley, Esq., town
clerk, and held September 5, 1883. At this meeting: a
committee was chosen consisting of the Rev. "William
Lusk, Jr., the Rev. William T. Reynolds, the Rev.
Emerson S. Hill, Edward L. Linsley, Maltby Fowler.
Sheldon B. Thorpe and Dr. Benjamin M. Page, to pre-
pare a plan of organization.

This committee reported at a subsequent meeting
October 11, 1883. Their plan was adopted and the
committee were made the incorporators. Their
instructions were to apply to the next legislature tor

• Press Reports.


a charter which was secured at the following January

The corporate menl^ers organized March 31, 1884,
with the Rev. Williar.i Lusk, Jr., president, Dr. B. M.
Page, treasurer, and ICdward L. Linsley, secretary.
A wing of the residence of Dr. Austin Lord was leased
for a library room. This apartment was opened to
the public October i. >[iss Alice F. Lord was appointed
librarian and the room was opened for patronage two
afternoons and evening; ^ ii^ each week.

The Association remained here until the comple-
tion of Memorial hall as noted. The transfer was
made late in December, 1886, and celebrated by a
reception on New Year's day, 1887. At this time
about 1,000 volumes were on the shelves and the run-
ning expenses were nearly or quite met by the
receipts. Only about three-fourths of the legacy had
been expended, but by careful management this had
been found suiiEicient to place the library on a substan-
tial footing.

At present it contains something over 2,000 a'oI-
umes ; the leading magazines and illustrated papers
are found on its tables. An annual subscription of
two dollars entitles the holder to two volumes at a
time, often as desired, and a subscription of one dollar
to one volume, etc. Transient loans are fixed at five
cents each. A cabinet for the collection of valua-
ble papers, curios or deposits of any nature has
recently been added. A fine crayon portrait of the
donor adorns the walls, and as a local reminder of
him, the old family dining table from which he ate
his frugal meals while a boy was presented to the
Association by Mrs. Joshua ]\I. Childs.

Valuable donations of books have been received
from time to time. The most noted of such gifts
have come from the jniblishing house of J. W. Brad-
ley & Co., of Philadelphia, and from Dr. Judson B.
Andrews of Buffalo. Very recently also a valuable


consignment was received from the bequest of Mr-.
Bradley, widow of the founder. Though conncLtcci
by no ties with North Haven she yet evinced by ocx;.'
sional liberal donations her sympathy with her hus-
band's bequest, and it was found upon her death slu-
had supplemented her husband's legacy by a likt-
amount of her own. The present officers are the Re \-.
W. T, Reynolds, president ; Sheldon B. Thorpe, scl -
retary; Joseph Pierpont, treasurer, and Miss Harriet
Andrews, librarian.


PAL CHURCH, 1822-1892.

The Rev. Ira H. Smith was made the successor of
the Rev. Leverett Griggs in the pulpit of the Congre-
gational church. He had been selected from the sev-
eral candidates as the most promising, and was
ordained February lo, 1846. After only a year's ser-
vice, in which he fully sustained the people's confi-
dence, he foiind himself in such ill health as to be
unfitted for the further care of his pastorate. By the
advice of his physicians he tendered his resignation
and was reluctantly dismissed, March 2Sth, 1S47.

Then followed two years of " candidate preach-
ing," during which period the Reverends Love, Bush-
nell and Pettingill received invitations to "settle."
None accepted, and it was not until the Rev. Theron
G. Colton came that it appeared as if a satisfactory
shepherd had been found. Like his predecessor, ]\Ir.
Colton was young, stirring and ambitious. He was
ordained pastor September 25, 1849, but his minis-
terial term was destined to be brief. Dissensions
arose, and he felt constrained to ask for a dismissal,
which was granted August 26, 1851. He was followed
by the Rev. Owen Street, a most godly man, who
declined a call to settle, but who remained a little
more than a year, to the great satisfaction of his

The next successful -candidate, destined to become
the eighth pastor of this church, was the Rev. Silas
W. Robbins, who was ordained June 16, 1853. Up to
this time six hundred dollars had been fixed as the
salary of the minister, but with the advent of ]\Ir.
Robbins it was raised to seven hundred dollars. The



young pastor entered upon his duties with a will, and
speedily won for himself a high reputation, not onlv
in his own pulpit, but within the limits of the Conso-
ciation. It was a time, however, of " spiritual depres-
sion," and the Church harvests were not plentiful.
Mr. Robbins very pointedly called attention to this.
and thereby incurred the displeasure of some of his
congregation. Opportunely, for him at least, came a
call from a distant field, at a larger compensation, and
he asked that his church relation be dissolved, whicli
was done by council, October 13, 1856.

The Rev. Benjamin St. John Page came into the
pulpit in the spring of 1857. It did not take long for
the societ}' to discover that he was a preacher cast in
a far different mould than any of his predecessors.
Nature had royally endowed him with brains and
imagination, and he had as royally developed both by
study and observation. He was employed to fill the
pulpit for a year on trial. It was his privilege to
make the Gospel attractive to the young of his con-
gregation. Hitherto little had been done to make the
latter more than silent partners, but under his stim-
ulus and encouragement the Church took a long leap
forward in "faith and works." The Society unani-
mously advanced his salary to one thousand dollars.
Mr. Page was an original thinker. Fearless and
plain spoken, he made haste to expose evil and com-
mend righteousness. Every fibre of his body and
every thought of his heart was intensely loyal to his
God and his country, and in the defense of each he
was wont to speak at times as one inspired. When he-
denounced the devil, his hearers appeared unmoved;
but when he attacked slavery, some arose and left
the meeting-house. The latter occasions were not
rare, and as a final outcome a few families withdrew
and attended St. John's Church.

At the time of his engagement a committee of the
society was appointed to confer with him regarding a


settlement, biit such a course did not meet his wishes.
He was therefore engaged from year to year, at the
stated sum mentioned, until 1861, when the amount
was reduced to $900, and Horatio N. Warner was
appointed to inform him of "the state of feeling
existing in the society." This was the beginning of
an outbreak. It culminated the next year at the
annual meeting, whereat it was voted to still further
reduce his salary to $Soo. Such an act the minority
denounced as cowardly, but it had its intended effect,
and Mr. Page declined a re-engagement. The causes
of this separation were political, social and spiritual,
three influences which, combined, terminated his use-
fulness in this field. During his five years of service,
ninety-one persons united with the church, the high-
est average in pastoral results since the days of
Dr. Griggs.

The resources of the Prudential or Society's com-
mittee were now again called into action to supply
the pulpit. Candidate after candidate passed in
review, all unsatisfactory, until it was character-
istically said that "there were sheep in that fold
whom even the Angel of the Lord coiild not shep-
herd." Finally came the Rev. John C. Paine, a man
of worth, and to him the society offered the pastorate,
late in February, 1863. After some hesitation it was
declined, by reaso'n of the limited salary, and the ship
was pilotless once more.

During this period of uncertainty there was one
level-headed gentleman, John Gill, who steadily kept
in view a certain local meeting held early in January
at West Haven. Among the speakers on that occasion
was a man on the sunny side of middle life, who
interested Mr. Gill much. On his return home he
informed Hervey T. Dayton, a member of the First
Ecclesiastical Society's committee, that "he had found
a man for the North Haven church." Dayton, in
view of his already large experience in catering for



that body, was a little incrediilous, but paid Mr. Gill's
selection a call and secured his services a Sabbath
or two for the vacant pulpit.

Thus was the Rev. William T. Reynolds* intro-
duced to the North Haven church and people. He
preached January i8 and the two succeeding Sab-
baths, and then fell into the long procession of
"passed candidates." On Mr. Paine's withdrawal, as
noted. Gill renewed his request that Mr. Reynolds be
recalled, with such success that the latter w^as hired
for one year, and he entered on what proved to be his
life work, March 15, 1863.

His salary was fixed at eight hundred dollars. At
the close of the first year it was raised to nine hun-
dred, with a re-engagement. This contract was
renewed annually until 1867, when the amount was
increased to one thousand dollars, and in 1869 to
$1,200. In the latter year preacher and people, after
six years of acquaintance, deemed it desirable that
still more intimate relations be established between
them and a return made to one of the former usages
of the church. Accordingly, Mr. Reynolds was invited
to become its permanent pastor, and he was installed
as such April 29, 1869.

At this installation service the following order of
exercises was observed :

Anthem Choir

Invocation and reading of the Scriptures, The Rev. E. C. Baldwin

♦William Thomas Reynolds is the son of James and Hetty (Smith) Reynolds,
and was born in West Haven, Conn., November 23, 1S23. The family is an ancient
one, and so far as this country is concerned dates back to the first settlement of \\ cth-
erstield. Young Reynolds was prepared for college at the Episcopal Academy in
Cheshire, and entered Vale in 1S41. He was graduated in 1845, and spent one year
immediately thereafter at .■\ndover Theological Seminary. In 1S4D he returned to
Vale and remained two years in the Theolo;.;ical department, graduating tlierefrom
in 1848. In 1850 he married Sarah M. Painter, of his native town. He did not enter
the ministry at once, but spent a portion of his time in teaching. He was ordained
pastor of the Congregational church in Sherman. N. V., April 22, 1852, remained there
three years, when from failing health resigned and returned to West Haven. He
again went to New Vork state in 1S56, and ministered to the church at Kiantone until
1862, when he returned to West Haven, on Ihe death of his father. — History Xiti'
Haven County.







Sermon, . . . . . . . The Rev. E. L. Clarke

Installing prayer, . . . . The Rev. George A. Bryan

Charge to pastor, The Rev. S. P. Marvin

Right hand of fellowship, .... The Rev. J. A. Gallup

Charge to the people, Dr. Leverett Griggs

Benediction, Pastor

The ministerial question settled, attention was
directed to material interests. It had been foreseen
that the church building was becoming- un suited to
the needs of its worshipers. A year and more was
spent in devising plans for its betterment, and in
March, 1871, a building committee, composed of Dea-
con F. L. Barnes, Willis B. Hemingway, Whiting S.
Sanford, Lyman F. Bassett and Horace P. Shares,
was appointed to rebuild or repair, as they deemed
best. They chose to do the latter, and the contract
was awarded to Solomon F. Linsley.

The last service prior to closing the doors was held
May 14th. The work was pushed during the summer,
and the lecture room was first completed. The main
audience room was reopened for worship November
12th. The cost of the change, together with the new
organ (set up some months later), was not far from
$15,000. Of this amount, $12,447.69 was raised by
subscriptions, fairs, etc. Mr. Alfred Linsley was the
largest individual donor (1,131.50), followed by Horace
P. Shares with $750, and Deacon Whitney Elliott with
$450. The balance of the claim was wrestled with
during the two succeeding years, until it was
announced, in the spring of 1S74 (prematurely, how-
ever), that the church was free from debt. To cele-
brate this event was the first thought of the people,
and the evening of April 30th was selected as the
proper time. Jubilees and bell-ringings have in all
lands sustained very close relations with each other,
and as this was the first occasion of the kind, the
young Congregationalists did not propose to occupy a
back seat during the demonstration, but rang the old


bell of four-score years with such zeal that it gave u])
the ghost in the height of its loudest clanging. It
was irremediably cracked. A few months later
another and somewhat heavier one was procured, but
by some strange oversight was not keyed in harmony
with that of St. John's Church.

The latter mishap and the non-arrival of the new-
organ caused a postponement of the re-dedication
exercises. November i8th, or the 156th anniversary
of the planting of the church, was finally fixed upon.
The Rev. Burdett Hart, of Fair Haven, preached the

Online LibrarySheldon B. (Sheldon Brainerd) ThorpeNorth Haven annals : a history of the town from its settlement, 1680, to its first centennial, 1886 → online text (page 28 of 32)