Sylvester Barbour.

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hymns they were read from the tablets of his memory,
and in like manner were recited passages of Scripture.
His discourses were delivered in a very impressive man-
ner. I vividly recall one, on the text: "Within three
days ye shall pass over Jordan," a sermon on preparation



for death. The sudden death the next day of my father's
distant relative and near neighbor, an aged man, Mr.
Levi Barber, familiarly known as " Uncle " Levi, brought
to the minds of some who had heard that sermon, Mr.
Barber's apparently very thoughtful attention to the ser-
mon, as though it was a personal address to him. Mr.
Barber was not a church. member, but was a very constant
attendant at church, a very exemplary man in his life, and
was, I doubt not, " an Israelite indeed, in whom was no
guile." [Mr. Barber's death is further referred to on
next page, under the head of " Physicians.] There have
been several successors to Mr. Burt in the Center church,
the present one being the Rev. J. W. Moulton. He and
his cultured, gifted wife are doing a good work there.
If sudden emergency requires it she can go into her hus-
band's pulpit and conduct the service, a happy condition
of things for pastor and people, in this day, when the
fear of St. Paul's adverse declaration is less prevalent
than formerly.

Canton has been extraordinarily honored in the cler-
gymen with whom properly it may be credited. The Rev.
Heman Humphrey, D.D., long-time president of Amherst
college, was born there, near where the venerable octo-
genarian, Levi Case, resides. [Levi Case was born Janu-
ary 4, 1822, and died October 21, 1907.] Including Dr.
Humphrey's three sons, his son-in-law, his brother (the
Rev. Luther Humphrey), and Humphrey descendants in
the Barber and Barbour lines, there have been fourteen
most respectable clergymen in the family.

The Old Church.
The pleasure of an occasional visit to my home .church
has mingled with it much sadness. The pews are there
as they were three score years ago, but only a very few
of the former occupants are there, and church attendance
is comparatively small. Then, those pews, and the large


galleries on the three sides of the church (which have
since been removed), were well filled. The large choir
in the gallery facing the pulpit was led instrumentally
by William E. Brown, on the bass viol, Warren C. Hum-
phrey on the violin, and General Jarvis Case on the flute,
an accompaniment to church singing I never have seen
anywhere else. The congregation, apparently not to seem
impolite in standing with their backs to the choir, stood
during singing, facing it, that is, all but a very few men,
who stood in prayer time. In that day Canton had many
staunch laymen, active in helping to maintain church
services, Sunday and week days. They loom up in my
memory very pleasantly. Among them were those long-
time deacons, Lancel Foot and Uriah Hosford, Dr.
Chauncey G. Griswold, Elijah Whiting, Warren C. Hum-
phrey and Averitt Wilcox. The last named, a very able
man in speech, was at the head of a line of five genera-
tions whom I have known, Imri Wilcox of Hartford
being midway in the line.


Next I will speak of the physicians. Sixty years ago
there were only three local ones in Canton, Dr. O. B.
Freeman, Dr. R. H. Tiffany (sometime subsequently a
resident practitioner in Hartford), and Dr. Ben Adam
Kasson. The first named was a man of kindly manner,
rare gentility, much esteemed by many as a physician, and
very deliberate in action. I had a memorable illustration
of the last named characteristic in my very early boyhood.
On the occasion of the death of " Uncle " Levi, his son-
in-law, Horace Gridley, came hurriedly to my father's
place, and asked that I be at once dispatched to Collins-
ville for a doctor, as Mr. Barber had been " taken with
a fit." I immediately mounted a horse, not stopping for
saddle or blanket, and rushed for Collinsville, a distance
of six miles. I feel sure King Jehu himself never trav-



eled more swiftly, though he Is said on one occasion to
have ridden " furiously." People all along the way gazed
in wonderment and fear. The first doctor I found was
Dr. Freeman, and he would go. As I was the worse for
my furious ride, I asked him if I could ride back with
him and lead my horse behind. " O, yes, my little man,
come right in, and wait for me." And oh! what a wait!
I thought the stricken man would die before we could
reach him. I don't know that the doctor waited to shave
himself, but there was time enough for it before we got
started, and then, what distress I was in because the
doctor didn't whip up his horse with all his might, and
not stop on the way to tell all inquiring people what was
the cause of such a hurried call ! Well, the good doctor
knew more about " fits " than I did, and reasoned it out,
I suppose, that the man was probably dead from the first
attack, as turned out to be the case. Dr. Freeman was a
republican, and represented the town In the house In 1862,
with gre^at dignity.

Dr. Tiffany was stately in bearing, and, by polite,
gentle manners and a wise look impressed his patients
and their friends favorably. He had a drug store in
Collinsville, and I remember the honor he conferred upon
me in my youth, by an invitation to become his clerk and
study for the profession. But the life of the physician,
with no time, day or night, he can call his own, didn't
appeal to me. In those days country doctors had to hold
themselves ready for any service, from extracting a tooth
to amputating a limb ; always carrying forceps, and some-
times a torturing instrument, called a turnkey, which was
operated very much as a derrick is for extracting rocks
from the earth. I remember how, on one occasion in my
youth, when I was suffering from toothache, I chanced to
meet Dr. Tiffany on the street and asked him if he could
relieve me. Of course he could, for he was equipped for
it, and we repaired to a nearby shed, and out came three



teeth, as it was difficult to tell which was the offending
member. It was a senseless transaction on my part, but
tooth-pulling was quicker relief than filling, and scarcely
more painful in those days, when dentists didn't use co-
caine to enable one to sleep while the dentist did his work.
I knew all about the filling business, for I had spent hours
of suffering in the hands of Dr. Curtis of Collinsville,
who, however, I could testify, was as honest, competent
and thorough a workman in his line as I ever knew. In
one respect the doctors of that day had an advantage over
those of this day, for I think pneumonia and appendicitis
hadn't then been invented; if they had, I didn't happen
to hear of it.

I have always had reason to remember Dr. Kasson
gratefully. He was my father's family physician, and I
therefore assume I am indebted to him for my introduc-
tion to the world. I trust he has long since forgiven me,
if, as is probable, there was on my part a manifestation
of ingratitude rather than gratitude for the introduction.
He carried my mother through many sicknesses, more
than one of them of several weeks' duration, when her
life for days hung in the balance. He was self-reliant,
heroic in his treatment of disease, rarely, if ever, himself
proposing counsel, was understood to have a high opinion
of calomel as a remedy, though I knew from a little ex-
perience and much observation that his little paper packets
of Dover powders, so soothing in effect, were much in
evidence in the sick room. He was moderate in his
charges, never, in his early practice at least, more than
75 cents for the longest drives, never oppressing poor
people who couldn't easily pay, never accused of repeating
visits to swell his bill, quick to detect and expose imaginary
sickness, in which latter cases he prescribed exercise in-
stead of medicines, in doing which he would, of course,
sometimes give offense. He was sober and stern in visage,
brusque in manner, tall and erect in his bearing; and.


with his neck elongated by his high stock, did in that
respect somewhat resemble Micawber, as Dickens pic-
tures him. His mode of travel was unique and attracted
much attention. His vehicle was a high-up gig or sulky,
often the worse for age and wear; While making calls,
his horse would graze by the roadside, and sometimes
would stray some distance from the house. As doctors
are rarely at home at meal time, on the wing most of the
time, the doctor himself would many times receive per-
sonal refreshment when making his calls.

My mother never lost an opportunity to minister to
him in that respect. He had been her personal savior in
several sicknesses, and she almost worshiped him. The
doctor was an ardent whig, fond of talking politics with
democrats, whom he generally fancied he had worsted In
the argument — and. If having the last word was proof
of victory, he was right in his conclusion. Canton grati-
fied his ambition by sending him to the house In 1846.
The doctor had sore family trials, beginning with the
death of a promising young son, whom he so idolized that
he was inconsolable at his funeral. His house in later
years was struck by lightning, the bolt entering the bed-
• room of his two daughters, occupying the same bed, in-
stantly killing one, but the other escaped. Another afflic-
tion was the death of his estimable wife, who was a
daughter of General Ezra Adams and much esteemed in
the community.

[The doctor would be proud to know, if he could,
that he has now a son by a later wife (Benj. B.), a
doctor practicing In Massachusetts.]


Canton has had few resident lawyers, nev^er more than
one at a time, I think. Orrin S. Case was located there
more than fifty years ago, and represented the town in
the house in 1853. Because there were not many local



attorneys, no one should jump to the conckision that Can-
ton hadn't much litigation. Lawyers from out of town
often came in to help the contentious enjoy the rich luxury
of a lawsuit. I recall one occasion, when those distin-
guished attorneys, Truman Smith and Charles Chapman,
once came. Delicacy forbids my giving the names of the
parties to the celebrated suit, or the offense involved. Mr.
Chapman came at other times, once in defense of a man
charged with breaking up a session of a large singing
school at the " conference house " at the center, by put-
ting pepper upon the stove at recess time. This lawyer,
as might almost be assumed, as a matter of course, con-
sidering his general success as a defender in criminal cases,
cleared the accused, but in a very queer way; another
person confessed he did the deed. [See further on this
incident, item, " Pepper on Stove," p. 64.]

General Jarvis Case.

Reference, has been made to General Jarvis Case, who
for many years was very prominent in Canton affairs. He
was born September 10, 1801, and died March 18, 1864.
There were some noteworthy incidents (one of them most
sad) in his life and In that of his family. His estimable
wife, Lucia, daughter of General Ezra Adams, to whom
he was married March 26, 1828, died October 11, 1885.
Their children were Lucia Helen, commonly called by her
second name, born April 13, 1829, died October 30,
1845; Mary Jane, born March 15, 1832, died October
31, 1855; Ann Lucelia, born January 12, 1839, ^'^^ J^^Y
3, 1903; George Jarvis, born -November 15, 1835, mar-
ried Sarah Ruth Case, February 20, 1861 ; she died Janu-
ary 14, 1902; and Ellen Maria, born November 3, 1845,
twice married, first to Edward E. Woodford, September
3, 1867, and, secondly, to Clifford S. Thompson, October
12, 1881.

In the autumn of 1845, there was a so-called select
school in the " conference room " at the center, taught



by my brother, Henry Stiles, and Helen was a much loved
member. She went to her home from school one evening,
in perfect health, was prostrated that night with profuse
hemorrhages at the nose, and died. When news of her
death came next morning to the school, a scene, was pre-
sented never to be forgotten. Teacher and scholars were
ovei'whelmed with grief. That community has rarely, if
ever, been more profoundly moved by any event. The
funeral services took place at the church opposite the
school room, the Rev. Mr. Spencer of New Hartford
preached the sermon, in the absence of the pastor, Mr.
Burt, and many with bowed heads and sympathetic hearts
followed the dear one to the grave.

It was my great privilege and honor to teach a similar
school at that same room, eleven years later, and George
and Ann were beloved pupils. The school was made up
of yoiing men and young women of whom any teacher
might be proud. The disparity in the ages of teacher and
scholars was so small, that it would not have been strange
if the imperfections and deficiencies of the teacher should
have led to manifestations of some disrespect, but, fortu-
nately, the teacher can recall no such manifestation, and
he vividly remembers with what tearful eyes he attempted
to address a few parting words to those much beloved
scholars at the close of school. There was in that school
a lady whom it seems proper to mention in this connec-
tion. Miss Sabra L. Beach, subsequently Mrs. Harvy
Godard, of Granby. As she and Miss Ann Lucelia, sub-
sequently the wife of the Hon. Edwin N. White (in the
house from Canton in 1878), sat together in that school
room, they little dreamed of the tie that was afterwards
to be formed between them, by the marriage of the for-
mer's son, Oren Harvy Godard, of Granby, to the daugh-
ter of the latter.

General Case organized a military company called the
" Canton cadets," was its first captain, and was advanced


from that to the rank of brigadier-general of the state
mihtia. He was a man of striking dignity and gentility,
erect and stately (though of medium stature), such a one
as would attract the attention of strangers ; was long
prominent in the choir, taking an interest in its pros-
perity and improvement, participating in singing schools
sometimes held in the winter. He was a whig till the
dissolution of that party, and afterward an ardent demo-
crat. He began a carefully prepared record of the
weather in 1857, and it has been continued by his son,
George J., since his death. That record has been pub-
lished in. The Times monthly, and has been esteemed for
its accuracy.

No Race Suicide.

The people of Canton have generally been quite
obedient to the divine command, given to the original
pair, and inferentially, in the apparent opinion of Presi-
dent Roosevelt, to all succeeding pairs. Large families
have been common. The people bearing our name have
not been remiss in that obedience. The spelling of the
name in our case, as in the case of some other families, has
not been uniform; members even of the same immediate
family sometimes thus varying. Well, the craze in spell-
ing reform has not yet extended to names of persons,
hence everybody is at liberty to suit his own taste as to
spelling his own name. The orthography of our family
name has been quite variant. In our probate records of
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the name is
found written variously, " Barbur," " Barber," " Barbar,"
and " Barbour " — the latter orthography occurs as often
as any other, I think. My brother, Heman, led our family
in the adoption of the last named form, when, in 1840, he
located in the west, where that form of the name was
common. In this article, as T mention the name of any
person, I use his adopted form of spelling.


Doctor Samuel Barber, of Canton, had fourteen chil-
dren, eleven sons and three daughters. But, it should be
mentioned that there were two mothers,, each having
seven children, the first wife's all boys. Think of eleven
boys in a family ! There must have been music there,
'' to beat the band! "

The family of Daniel Barber was very large and
highly respected. Only two of the children are now
living, Daniel Hiram, and Jane Rood, the youngest.
[Mrs. Rood has since died.] The family of Sadosa Bar-
ber was large and much. respected. All the children are
dead, except Hon. Henry M. Barbour, the youngest child,
who resides in the house where he was born. He was in
the house in '1880. The daughter, Melissa, mother of
Rollin D. Lane, of Hartford, long resided in Collinsville
and was much beloved.

Family of Alson Barber.

The family of Alson Barber is the most remarkable
I have known, and seems to me worthy of special mention.
He was born May 6, 1792, and died April 5, 1880. He
was brother to Sadosa (their father, Reuben, being the
first person buried in the Center cemetery) , and first cousin
to my father, Henry Barbour. His wife, Hannah Hum-
phrey (born December 4, 1796, died April 19, 1877),
was a sister to the Rev. Heman Humphrey, D.D., (spoken
of on pages 48 and 71), and sister to my mother, thus pro-
ducing double relationship between the children of the two
families. John Brown, the martyr, was first cousin to
these sisters and brother. Alson and Hannah were mar-
ried November 16, 18 14, and the following named twelve
children were born to them: Luther Humphrey, Maria,
Nelson, Harriet, Sarah, Gaylord, John, Jennette, Lemuel,
Mary, Hannah and Martha. All of these children lived
to adult years, all were married, and excepting the first
named, had children of their own. The only ones now



living are Luther [Luther died August 17, 1907], Han-
nah, widow of Howard Rogers of Canton, and Martha,
wife of Ervin Whiting of Southlngton. All because mem-
bers of the church In their youth and lived exemplarlly.
The parents lived together most happily more than 62
years, and celebrated their golden wedding and the six-
tieth annl\ersary of their marriage. At the former cele-
bration eleven of their twelve children were present, and
at the latter nine were present. Thirty-five grandchildren
were living at the time of the former celebration, and all
the children were living at the sixty-second anniversary
of the parents' marriage. Luther was born September 3,
1815, graduated from Amherst college In class of 1839,
and from the East Windsor Hill Theological seminary
(succeeded now by the Hartford Theological seminary),
in class of 1842. He is the last surviving member of his
college class, which at the time of graduation numbered
fifty-seven; and only one earlier graduate of that college is
living, namely, the Rev. John H. Wells of Kingston,
R. L, who was In the class of 1837. The Rev. Henry
^L Field of the class of 1841 Is the only earlier living
graduate of said seminary [since died].

jVIr. Barber has the distinction of being the oldest
Congregational minister now living in Connecticut. His
active ministry was continuous, extending over a period
of fifty years, during which he had pastorates In Hitch-
cockville (now Riverton), Scotland, Hanover, Bolton
and Vernon Center. He was married, August 23, 1842,
to Miss Lucinda Taylor, of Canton, and they lived to-
gether most happily nearly fifty-four years, her death
occurring April 20, 1896. She was a woman of many
gifts, and one of the most lovable I ever knew, a true help-
meet to her husband in the highest sense of the word.
She finished her education at South Hadley seminary,
class of 1841, of which she was a member two years,
while Miss Mary Lyon, the founder, was principal. Mr.



Barber Is now living with his nephew, Rev. Clarence H.
Barber, In Danielson. His mind is clear, memory and
hearing good, general health quite good, though he is
nearly blind and much bowed in form, and unable tO' get
about much without assistance. He attended church on
the occasion of " Old People's " day, pronounced the
benediction, his voice being easily heard by all present.
Mr. and Mrs. Barber had an adopted child, Ella, who
was to them all that she could have been had she been
their own child. She tenderly cared for him after the
death of his wife, until she died, November 29, 1904.

Mr. Barber was a very practical preacher, Is a man
of saintly character and he greatly endeared himself to
the people in all the parishes where he ministered. He
retains a deep interest in all the affairs of church and
state and Is an exceedingly agreeable conversationalist.

The second daughter, Harriet, married iVmos Grid-
ley, who was one of the fortynlners, who went to Cali-
fornia in search of gold. He remained there a few years,
and returned to his family, having been successful In his

Gaylord, the third son (born October 16, 1824, died
May 21, 1879), was the first of the children to die, Mar-
tha, the youngest child, being then 42 years old, she
having been born April 23, 1837. tie was first married.
May 8, 1850, to Catharine Hayden, of Barkhamsted,
and, secondly, on November 22, 1868, to Miss Jerusha
Taylor, a niece of Luther's wife. By the first marriage
there were five children, all of whom survived their
father. The eldest daughter is the wife of Sherman E.
Brown of Collinsville, and the youngest daughter, Cath-
arine H., was for twelve years a missionary of the Ameri-
can Board at San Sebastian, Spain, engaged as a teacher
in a school there. At the outbreak of the war with the
United States, the school was hastily transferred over the
line into France, where the work of the school was con-



tinued, and at the close of the war, the school returned to
Spain, though Miss Barber's health failed while the
school was in France, and she returned home, and died,
September 5, 1901. The second daughter is also dead.
The two sons of Gaylord are I^ev. Clarence Howard
Barber, and Allison H. Barbour, the latter being, for a
time, a few years since, a successful teacher in Professor
Huntsinger's business college in Hartford, and since that
time in St. Johnsbury, Vt., and is professor, having charge
of the commercial department in the academy there. Rev.
Clarence graduated at Amherst college, class of 1877
and from the Hartford Theological seminary in class of
1880. In college he won prizes in debate, and in athletics.
His first settlement as pastor was at Torringford, his
second at Manchester, where he remained more than eight-
een years, when he resigned to accept a call from the
Westfield Congregational church in Danielson, where he
now is. In 1885, during his pastorate in Torringford,
he was one of the representatives from Torrington in the
house, and served on the committee on education.

In 1899 he was chaplain of the house, in 1901 chap-
lain of the senate. He was married September 29, 1880,
to Miss Mary Johnson, of Morris. They have- three
sons, Edward, Yale, '05, is a teacher in the Peekskill Mili-
tary academy; Laurence, Yale, class '10; and Harold, a
student in Danielson high school. Mr. Barber is modest
and dignified in bearing; attaches to himself wann friends
among the people; active in what concerns good citizen-
ship; tactful, sympathetic and helpful in pastoral work;
sound in doctrine and judgment; undemonstrative yet
pleasing in delivery, having such facility in substantially
memorizing his carefully prepared sermons as to be able
to discard his manuscript, and thus to have that freedom
which apparently extemporaneous, eye-to-eye expression
affords. It is safe to predict for him continued growth
and advancement in his chosen work. His stepmother is


happily making her home in his family. Mary, the fifth
daughter of Alson, died several years since, leaving chil-
dren, one of whom a talented woman, Mrs. Jennette Lee,
is a professor in Smith college, having a husband resid-
ing in Northampton. A member of my family in the
faculty of that institution informs me, that Mrs. Lee is
deservedly very, popular with the students, and is very
successful as a teacher. A pleasing story from her pen
occasionally appears in some periodical.

East Windsor Seminary,

In closing, a word about East Windsor seminary
building, where Mr. Luther Barber was educated for the
ministry. On this day of increased interest in ancient
buildings, permit me, please, to suggest how fitting it
would be to have steps taken for the preservation of these
buildings. They are right on the trolley line, and, there-
fore, very accessible. What a boon some one or more
persons could confer on deserving people by purchasing

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Online LibrarySylvester BarbourReminiscences → online text (page 4 of 11)