William C. (William Charles) Gilman.

The celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of the town of Norwich, Connecticut online

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President of the United States.


Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary


Settlement of the Town of Norwich



The One Hundred and Twenty-Fihh

July 4, 5, 6, 1909




By transfer
The White Hou8«
March 3rd, 1913

"'3 d^Z


Foreword, ......

Officers and Executive Committee, .
Introduction, Part I, ....

Introduction, Part II, Norwich, 1859 to 1909
The Quarter Millennial Celebration, .
First Day. Services at Up-town Burying Ground,
Second Day. Reception of President Taft, .
Historical Pageant, ......

The Procession, ......

President Taft's Address on Chelsea Parade,
Third Day. Presentation of Memorial Fountain,
Literary Exercises at Broadw^ay Theater, .
Financial Statement, .....

Appendix. Official Program, .

Alilitary and Civic Parade,

Loan Exhibit at Converse Art Gallery,

Sermons, .....

Letters from Absentees, .

Notes on Persons and Places, .











Goveniur of llic Slate of CoiuKclicul.


Several public-spirited citizens of Norwich, who felt
that an event so important and interesting as the celebra-
tion in 1909, of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary
of the settlement of the town ought to be commemorated
in a permanent form, invited me in the autumn of 191 1 to
undertake the work which I have now accomplished purely
as a labor of love.

This endeavor to show what Norwich celebrated, why
it celebrated and how it celebrated, and to set forth its
prosperity in each decade of its long history justifies a
large measure of pride in the Town as it is to-day, and of
confidence that the coming generation, inspired by the
example of those who are now building on the foundation
laid by their forefathers, will continue the good work in
anticipation of a still more illustrious future.

W. C. G.

Norwich Town, December 20, 191 1.

Akriii-K I). L.\Tiikni>.
•si— 'i'own el Xdrwicli.

CosiKl.I.n l.ll'lMl r,
Mavur of ihc ('ily nf N'onvicli,

Norwich Quarter Millennial Celebration


President :

Winslow Tracy A\'illiams.

Vice-Presidents :

Edwin A. Tracy, Jeremiah J. Desmond,

John Eccles, John McWilliams,

Gen. AVilliam A. Aiken.

Treasurer :

Col. Charles W. Gale.


Gilbert S. Raymond.

Assistant Secretary:
Grosvenor Ely.

Executive Committee:

Edwin A. Tracy, Chairman,
Dr. P. H. Harriman, Arthur D. Lathrop,

John Porteous, Albert L. Potter,

William B. Young, Henry A. Tirrell,

James B. Shannon, Charles D. Noyes,

Timothy C. Murphy, Howard L. Stanton,

Albert S. Comstock.

Wixsi.ow Tracy Williams,

Presitk-iit of the General Committee.

Viee-Chairman of the rixeeutive Cmnmittec,

l-jiwiN AvKuv Tkacv,

Cliainnan of \hv h'.xecntive Committee.

First Vice-President of tiie (leneral Ci)nnnittei

J. J. Desmonh. Gilbert S. Raymond.

Members of the Executive Committee.

Coi.. Charles W. Gale.

P. 11. ilAKUlMAX, M. D.


McmhiT'- lit the I'.xcciitixc Cnnmiittce.

William B. Voung.


James B. Shannon. Charles D. Noyes.

Members of the Executive Committee.

Timothy C. AIiri'IIY.

IlowAKii L. Staxtox.

Ai.iiKkT S. Com STOCK. GkosvKXoK I-:i.v.

Members of the F.xeculive Committee.

The Quarter Millennial Celebration of the
Settlement of Norwich.

July 4, 5 and 6, 1909.


The History of Norwich for the two hundred years
following the foundation under the rocks on the up-town
green in 1659 has been fully set forth by Frances Manvvar-
ing Caulkins, whose history, says a discriminating writer,
"is one of the fullest and best of those volumes of local
lore that afflict American historical writers with an excess
of authentic material." The fruits of her researches are
household words, and by them she will be held in ever-
lasting remembrance.

'The Old Houses of the Antient Town of Norwich"
by Mary E. Perkins, published in 1895, gives an account
of all the buildings on the main roads from Mill Lane
(Lafayette street) to the meeting house on the up-town
green, and of their owners and occupants from the settle-
ment to the year 1800, and contains, in addition to one
hundred and thirty-two illustrations, maps, and portraits,
invaluable historic and genealogic records, the result of
her indefatigable and exhaustive investigations.

These two works and the historical discourses at the
Bi-centennial celebration in 1859, by Daniel Coit Oilman,
John Arnold Rockwell, the Right Reverend Bishop Alfred
Lee, and Donald Grant Mitchell — all of them sons of
Norwich — published in John W. Stedman's "Report of the
Celebration," together with numerous magazine articles and
the transactions of historical societies, have completed the
town history for two hundred years so far as it can be
completed, unless, indeed, unsuspected treasures that have
hitherto escaped the closest scrutiny shall be discovered
in family archives or public records.


It would be an interesting task to re-write the history
of the town in the light of all these publications, to combine
them, as it were, in one composite picture, but to do this,
adequately, would be to exceed by far the limits of this
volume. It is well, moreover, to give heed to the words
of Judge Nathaniel Shipman, an honored son of honorable
Norwich ancestors : "No living man can do justice to the
town of Norwich : Few living men will ever undertake
it, and if they do they will be apt to fail — and it is inex-
pedient for us to attempt to do anything more than simply
to say we loved the town when we were boys, we love
it now when we are men, and we want to say so."

The^ history of the town for the last half century,
however, has not been written, nor can it be written in
just proportion until time shall have given atmosphere and
perspective to events that seemed to the men and women
engaged in them of supreme importance, but have faded
from memory like a dream.

At an early period the original "nine miles square,"
by reason of its topographical formation, naturally became
a group of small districts, Norwich, Franklin, Bozrah,
Lisbon, and Preston. After these had been set off as
separate towns, in 1786, the parent settlement, retaining
the name Norwich, gradually became, as it continues to
be, a cluster of semi-detached villages radiating from the
Landing as a common center, and including "the pleasant
plains of Chelsea half a mile from the Norwich port," the
Falls, Up-town, Bean Hill, Yantic, West-side, Thames-
ville, Laurel Hill, East Norwich, Greeneville, Taftville,
and Occum. These are surrounded by hills. Plain Hill,
Ox Hill, Wawecus Hill, and others, occupied for the most
part as farms and woodlands. These villages have some-
times been fancifully regarded as the petals of the Rose of
New England. The authorship of this felicitous appella-
tion has been ascribed to Henry Ward Beecher, but it
does not appear in his published writings, not even in his
famous Norwich "Star Paper," which, after sixty years,


is Still as perfect a pen picture of the old town as if he
had written it in 1909,

This tradition as to the name, received by Jonathan
Trumbull from Edward T. Clapp, remains undisputed,
and may be accepted as veritable history. When the
Committee on Decorations for the Bi-centennial cele-
bration in 1859 was considering an appropriate desig-
nation for the town, the chairman, James Lloyd Greene,
said, "Well, she is a rose, anyway !" "Yes," responded Mr.
Clapp, "Norwich is the rose of New England." The
suggestion was accepted, and on an arch under which the
procession marched, on Broadway near Broad street, were
inscribed the memorable words, "Norwich, the Rose of
New England." "That which we call a rose by any other
name would smell as sweet," and whether Norwich be called
Dorothy Perkins, or Killarney, or General Jacqueminot, it
will still be the American Beauty, the Rose of New England.

Comparatively few are living to-day who remember
the celebration of 1859. Of the prominent men who served
actively on the various committees scarcely a score remain.
All the settled pastors of Norwich, all the leading
physicians, most of the prominent lawyers, the special
orators of the day, the after-dinner speakers, have departed,
and, most distinguished of all. Governor AVilliam A.
Buckingham, whose grace and dignity as the presiding
ofificer were undisturbed by forebodings of the impending
national conflict — not two 3^ears in the future — in which
his patriotic services were to gain for him lasting renown
as Connecticut's great War Governor.

A new generation has come upon the stage, new faces
are seen in the windows and in the streets, new preachers
are in the pulpits, new lawyers at the bar, new doctors at
the bedside, and names once familiar on sign boards in
the business districts have been replaced in large measure
by those of new comers from foreign lands.

When Rip Van Winkle, awaking from his long sleep
in the mountains, stretched his rheumatic limbs, and, calling
in vain for his dog Schneider, made his solitary way to his


old home, he was dumbfounded to find the lazy Httle hamlet
of Falling Water grown to be the thriving, bustling village
of Catskill. New times had come, new faces, new manners
and customs. The friends of his youth had gone, and the
boys and girls had grown up past recognition. The
Revolutionary war had been fought and ended. The
successors of those who in the good old colony times
had lived under King George the third were casting their
ballots for President George Washington. The successive
changes of twenty years seemed to him the miraculous
transformations of a single night.

If any survivor of the Norwich Bi-centennial could
in a moment roll back the wheels of time for half a century,
and, reversing the moving picture, could see Norwich as
it was in 1859, his amazement would be as great as was
Rip Van Winkle's. The same skies, the same rocks and
hills, the same rivers and meadows, all that was created
b}' God, would stand forth in perennial beauty, but the
work of man would appear strangely quaint and crude ; "the
old houses of the antient town" would seem asleep, and the
daily life of the good people, their habits and customs, dull
and old fashioned. He would look in vain for the comforts
and conveniences of modern civilization, and would realize
that the golden days were not in the past but in the present
and the future, and that, on the firm foundation laid by the
fathers a new Norwich had arisen, surpassing all that was
dreamed of in their philosophy.

With no purpose of writing a history of the town and
still less of the nation for the last fifty years, it may not be
inappropriate to review briefly some of the momentous
events of the period that have deeply concerned the nation
and therefore the town, as well.

Of these events, foremost in time and importance was
the war for the Union, beginning with the attack on Fort
Sumter in April, 1861, and ending with the surrender at
Appomattox in April, 1864. To every household in the
land, north and south, the war brought deep sorrow for
the loss of kindred and friends, and, to many, peculiar


hardship and even destitution, but it determined forever
that no state may of its own voHtion secede from the Union;
it abolished slavery, and guaranteed that the right of no
citizen of the United States to vote shall be abridged on
account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.
Jn the prolonged conflict Norwich did her full share of loyal,
patriotic service. Her citizens poured out money for the
cause like water; her sons eagerly volunteered for active
service ; mothers, sisters, wives, like ministering angels
of mercy, co-operating with the constituted authorities, were
unceasing in their efforts to relieve suft'ering on the field
and in hospitals, and as far as possible to mitigate the
horrors of war.

Norwich has not forgotten those valiant women, nor
has she forgotten her sons who laid down their lives for
their country, nor the scarred veterans of the war wdio still
survive. The flowers and flags that mark the graves of
the departed heroes, year after year on Memorial Day,
tell a sad yet inspiring story to many hearts.

On Chelsea Parade in 1873 ^ monument was "erected
by the town of Norwich in memory of her brave sons who
voluntarily entered the military service of the United States
in defence of the national government during the rebellion."
At a later day (1902), a granite monument was placed on
the Little Plain in honor of the 26th Regiment of Connecti-
cut Volunteers, which numbered 825 men, of whom 52 were
killed, 142 wounded, and 84 died in the service.

In 1903 Hannah Lathrop Ripley narrated her personal
reminiscences of the war in an address before the alumni
association of the Norwich Free Academy in behalf of
a fund for a bronze tablet, placed within the building,
bearing the names of Academy boys who were engaged in
the conflict.

In March, 1898, Sedgwick Post, No. i. Grand Army
of the Republic, acquired the commodious house and land
on Main Street that had been for many years the residence
of Governor William A. Buckingham. The purchase money
was supplied by the Post with the aid of patriotic citizens.


It is an interesting fact that four presidents of the United
States have been received under its hospitable roof. The
Buckingham Memorial is more than a monument to the
officers and soldiers of Sedgwick Post. It worthily com-
memorates one who as merchant, manufacturer, philan-
thropist, benefactor of Yale University, the Broadway
Church and the Norwich Free Academy, as Mayor of
Norwich, twice elected, as presidential elector in 1856, as
Governor from 1858 to 1866, and as United States Senator
from 1869 to 1875 was illustrious as the most distinguished
citizen of the town of Norwich.

The story of "Norwich in connection with the war for
the Union," and the "Necrology of the War in relation to
Norwich" are recorded so fully in Miss Caulkins's History,
edition of 1S74, and in the Rev. Malcolm McG. Dana's
"Norwich in the Rebellion," published in 1872, that repeti-
tion here is unnecessary. Mr. Dana's work is a worthy
tribute to the brave men who went forth to defend their
imperilled country, and records with painstaking accurac}^
their names, their sufferings, achievements, and triumphant

Borrowing again, in substance, the language of Judge
Shipman, it may be added that "the characteristics which
most prominently mark the town of Norwich are earnest,
impulsive, quickly responsive and fervent patriotism,
restrained by devotion to truth and by a sense of the
supremacy of justice .... And so it has gone on : in
every field where patriotism and devotion to liberty were
to be found, there the sons of Norwich have gone. I need
not tell you in what a magnificent way and with what
a magnificent record this town came to the front in 1861.
I think that no town of similar size made, during that
terrible struggle, a record which can at all equal or which
can at all compare with it. Norwich gave her best to the
principles in which she believed."

Notwithstanding the sorrows and losses of the war,
so enormous were the demands of the army upon manu-
facturers, merchants, and farmers for clothing, arms, and


agricultural products, and so lavish were the expenditures
of the government in paper money, and so large were the
incomes of all who were engaged in active business, that
Norwich during the war and the years immediately follow-
ing appeared to be at the flood tide of financial prosperity.

Subsequent to the restoration of peace and the recon-
struction period, most noteworthy is the vast expansion of
the national domain, first, by the purchase of Alaska from
Russia in 1867, and, then, thirty years later, by the
annexation of Hawaii ; and, later still, by the acquisition
of Porto Rico, the Philippines and other smaller islands in
the Pacific as lawful spoils resulting from the war with
Spain in 1898, and finally, by the "taking" of the Panama
Canal Zone by President Roosevelt in 1904, making in all
an addition of over three-quarters of a million square miles
(753,984), to the territory of the United States. Simul-
taneously, the population of the continental United States
increased nearly three fold (from 31,443,321 in i860, to
91,972,226 in 1910) and the total population, including the
insular possessions, is over one hundred and one millions

Comparing small things with great it may be observed
that the borders of Norwich have been extended by the
annexation of Laurel Hill and a portion of Preston, and that
its population has increased from 14,048 to 28,219 in fifty

With this vast increase in the territor}'- and population
of the United States, facilities for transportation by land
and by water have increased in corresponding ratio. On
the ocean the supremacy of the Cunard line of steamers has
been successfully challenged by many competitors, with the
result that the time between England and New York has
been reduced one-half since 1859, and the magnificent
steamships of to-day with every appliance for safety and
comfort have practically banished sailing vessels from the
sea. On the land, also, transcontinental trains have
diminished by one-half the time to all important points and^
with improved passenger coaches, parlor cars, sleeping cars.


dining cars, safety brakes, and vestibules, absolutely
unknown fifty years ago, have lessened the risks and cor-
respondingly increased the comfort in traveling.

In the last fifty years Norwich has participated in
the excitement of thirteen presidential campaigns from
Abraham Lincoln to William Howard Taft, and has stood
aghast with horror at the assassination of three honored
presidents of the United States, Lincoln, Garfield, and
McKinley. In all these campaigns, however warmly con-
tested, the opposing parties, sensible that differences of
opinion are not incompatible with loyalty to the funda-
mental principles of the constitution, have accepted the
results of the elections as final and conclusive, and the people
of Norwich in particular, of whatever political faith, have
forgotten minor differences in their intense spirit of
patriotism, and have been conspicuous for their allegiance to
the supreme law of the land.

In 1859 ocean telegraphy was in its infancy. In 1909
there were no less than five independent cable lines to
Europe, and, by the aid of the telephone — regarded as
a toy if not a "fake" thirty-six years ago — a merchant on
Main street, or a farmer on Wawecus Hill could communi-
cate with the uttermost part of the earth and receive a reply
in a few hours without so much as leaving his own door.
The "wireless," the most marvellous invention of the age,
is no longer a novelty. Incoming vessels report themselves
hundreds of miles at sea, and the Navy Department at
Washington is perfecting arrangements for direct communi-
cation with every United States v/ar ship on either ocean.

The extension of the mail service since 1859, and the
reduction in postage rates keep Norwich in touch with
more than sixty thousand domestic post offices. Within the
memory of many who are now living five cents was the
lowest rate for letter postage. In 1909 a two-cent stamp
would carry a letter to any of the possessions of the United
States, to England, or to Shanghai. Free delivery in towns
by carriers, rural delivery over fifty thousand routes, money
orders, letter registration were unknown in 1859, and


although these agencies are not directly employed every
day by every man and woman in Norwich they neverthe-
less enter into all the varied interests of domestic and com-
mercial life, and come close to "men's business and bosoms."

Not less interesting and important is the vastly ex-
tended diffusion of knowledge by books, magazines, and
newspapers, the expansion of collegiate educational sys-
tems, and the uplifting of primary schools and academies,
happily illustrated in Norwich by the graded district
schools, and by the Norwich Free Academy, which in 1859
had graduated only five students, and in 1909 graduated
sixty-two students and had four hundred and forty-four
scholars under instruction.

No review, however rapid, of the great events that
have concerned both the nation and Norwich in half a
century, could fail to observe the vast amount of gifts and
bequests for libraries, institutions of learning, hospitals,
churches, and other beneficent purposes. Trustworthy
figures show that the aggregate of gifts exceeding $5,000
was approximately one hundred and fifty million dollars
in the United States in the single year of 1909, without
taking into consideration the enormous sum total of smaller
gifts from the two mites of the widow up to five thousand
dollars given privately of which there is no record. What
Norwich did in that way in 1909 through its churches and
benevolent societies, and the disbursements for benefits and
charities by whatever name they may be called, of the great
benevolent and fraternal orders, has not been computed and
must remain matter for conjecture. Suffice it to say that
an appeal for a good cause has never been made in vain
in Norwich. Her sympathy is world wide, and every one
of her citizens may well say with the Roman poet, "nothing
human is foreign to me."

A traveler needs above all things to put money in his
purse, and so the exile returning to his old home after many
years, without stopping to discuss the merits of the national
banking system, which did not exist in 1859, would soon
realize with satisfaction the great convenience, to say the


least, of having in his pocket, money, whether coin or
currency, of recognized and equal value in every part of
the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He could not
fail to note with pride that the financial institutions of
Norwich have for the whole period of fifty years more than
maintained their old-time reputation for integrity and
adherence to sound business principles.

The boys and girls in Norwich to-day, the children who
can call "Central" on the telephone as soon as they learn
to speak, do not realize that present conditions have not
always existed. They accept the telegraph, the telephone,
electric light, steam heat, rapid transit — all modern inven-
tions — as they accept God's free gifts, light, air, and water,
as their natural heritage.

Nor are the daily wage earners always sensible that
they have derived greater benefits, proportionately, in the
world's progress, than any other class in the community.
If great fortunes have been accumulated by inventors and
captains of industry in railroads, in oil, in improved manu-
facturing processes, they are as nothing in comparison with
the immense advantages that have accrued through their
enterprise and genius to every man and woman in the land.

Mr. Motley, the historian, said paradoxically, "give
me the luxuries of life and I will dispense with the neces-
saries."' We have changed all that. The luxuries of the
fathers have become the necessaries of their children. If
the workingman's hours are still sixty minutes long, there
are not so many hours in the working day. For five cents
he can ride with greater speed and greater comfort, in
a better vehicle, over a better road than the richest man
could fifty years ago. The world's best books, "worth a
dukedom," are open to him without money and without
price. Is he ill, has he sustained an accident, the hospital
gives him better medical and surgical treatment than
millions could have commanded in 1859.

Within the last two generations, by modern methods of
distribution, the sometimes unjustly censured middleman
has brought from the producer to the very doors of the


consumer the manufactures and agricultural products of
ever}'- section of the land that by no other means could
have been his, and in no place is the fact more generally
recognized than in Norwich that the interests of employers

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Online LibraryWilliam C. (William Charles) GilmanThe celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of the town of Norwich, Connecticut → online text (page 1 of 19)