“Men of a commonwealth are the commonwealth. A state is only the achievement of its men. Hills, rocks and trees, the restless sea, the gleaming sands, in all does Connecticut rejoice, for they are hers and have been her choice possessions in enduring beauty since time began. But wonderfully as nature has endowed her, she is far better known as the land of invention, the home of shrewdness, sagacity and cleverness than through her charms of sea and land. To the people far away, the word Connecticut suggests the quality and calibre of her men, the length and breadth of their achievements…
GOVERNOR ROLLIN S. WOODRUFF, NEW HAVEN
And also Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard of the State of Connecticut
Often when a great political event electrifies the world, such as the sudden overturning of an empire, like the French revolution, or such as the recent war between Russia and Japan, people at a distance from the arena of action are inclined to look upon it as a bolt from the blue, due to the vagaries of capricious rulers, in the latter instance, or to a whole nation having gone mad, as in the former. A more careful observer, however, would recognize that no great movement affecting the welfare of millions of human beings could spring into existence spontaneously. The final ‘detente’ may come with the suddenness and force of a volcanic eruption, but its coming has surely been preparing in the still workings of thinking minds, in the black depths where lurk political ambition, plans for personal aggrandizement, or the gropings after freedom, which, gathering force under repression, rise in the fullness of time, to sweep all before them.
And so, on a smaller scale, we are often surprised to find in a prominent position, a man of whom no large part of our population had ever heard until by the result of some election, the limelight of publicity has been turned upon him over night, and while he, himself, is blinking just a wee bit at the unaccustomed glare, we ask ourselves, ‘Who is he, what of this man? On what meat hath this our Cesar fed, that he hath grown so great?’ And we say, ‘Oh, that is another example of the caprices of Fortune,’ — just as was said by so many, of William Jennings Bryan’s meteoric appearance before the nation; — and when some great good has been accomplished in a tempestuous way, we say, ‘What the reason of the ant laboriously drags into a heap, the wind of accident will collect in one breath.’ Yet these are not exceptions to the general rule, for, as Voltaire has put it: ‘Chance is a word devoid of sense, nothing can exist without a cause.’ The course of the rivulet from the cloud-capped mountain to the sea is none the less continuous for being obscure or underground, a part of the way.
The writer was led into the above train of thought after a vain search in the ‘Who’s Who in America’ for 1906, for the name of Rollin S. Woodruff. His rise to a position of extra-state fame has been as rapid as Jonah’s gourd of old. Still, to those who have known him these many years, there has been nothing surprising in his advancement, nor mysterious in the ways he took. Merely, he wrought out the problem of the moment, quietly, unostentatiously; each task well done, left him with muscles the better fitted to grapple with the next. It is in this sense that the saying is true, I think, that ‘the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands.’
Thus it is not in the least likely that Mr. Woodruff definitely determined that he would win the governorship of Connecticut one day, and by such and such a route; at least not until he had climbed high enough to nearly clutch the coveted prize on its branch. True, our mothers, God bless them, fore-ordained us all to the Presidency, but few of us attain unto the goal, perhaps through lack of faith. ‘Many are called, but few are chosen.’ But there is no doubt that Mr. Woodruff early made up his mind to do with his might whatsoever his hands might find to do and at the same time to keep his brains and eyes on the lookout for new things to do.
In that sense, is it true that the heart is its own fate?
It is interesting to consider some of the stepping stones by which Mr. Woodruff has climbed to the eminence on which he now stands.
The early days of the governor were spent in Rochester, Monroe County, New York, where he was born on the fourteenth day of July, 1854. He traces his ancestry back to Matthew Woodruff, who came from England to America in 1636, and can count among his ancestors many representatives of the sturdy stock that made possible the beginnings of American history. His parents were the Rev. Jeremiah and Clarisse Thompson Woodruff. His father was a Presbyterian minister, and thus he began life well, in a home where the severe, uncompromising morality of a minister of a very strait faith guided his feet in virtue’s ways, in a village where wholesome democratic standards prevailed, with little, if any, temptation to extravagance or false notions of life. The first fifteen years of his life were passed in this village, and its impress was burned deep upon his young heart. By whatever circumstances he has since been surrounded, though his lot has been cast with the rich and the powerful of the land, he has always remained at heart a man of the people; simple in his tastes, unostentatious in manner, a friend to all who are worthy of his regard and kindly to many who were not. When he was fifteen years old, his parents removed to New Haven, where he obtained his first position in life. That position was not an exalted one by any means. There was once an archbishop — of who entered upon his duties at the tender age of nine years, but those brilliant little boys aren’t born any more, or else a titled name does not carry the same pull as of yore.
Mr. Woodruff, like Mr. N. D. Sperry, began at the bottom round of the ladder, as errand boy for a New Haven hardware store. It will be seen that this did not give the future statesman any considerable opportunity for a formal education. He did get a few frills put on his country school education by means of a brief course in a school in Lansing, Iowa. His success in all he undertook was as complete and rapid, however, as that of any college man. This is not intended to be in any degree derogatory of the accomplishments of the average college-bred man, nor to insinuate that a college education is not an extra-ordinary blessing to the man who gets it and to the community in which he lives, but there are men who have in them the faculty to obtain culture, breadth of view, and general knowledge without going to the generally recognized sources of them. Governor Woodruff had in himself all the material that enables a man to make himself, and without them, neither riches, nor influence, nor costly tutors can avail aught to make a man out of straw. What he has learned, he has learned from contact with men, in the school of life. It was not long, before the young Woodruff’s remarkable capacity for business made itself felt, and as such young men are always in demand, he never lacked for work, and enjoyed the inevitable advancement that rewards exceptional service. He early discovered that this world divides itself into two distinct classes, usually with the consent of the classified; those who lead and those who are led ; not to adopt the cynical spirit of Talleyrand, of course, when he opines that society is divided into two classes; the shearers and the shorn, and that we should always be with the former against the latter.
Still it is true that our civilization is in the making, and its molecules are human souls, at a white heat with the fires of passion, of love, ambition and pride. In welding them into social unity, some are content to be the anvil, others must be the hammer. Governor Woodruff is of these. He engaged in various financial and mercantile enterprises in New Haven, and after a number of years became interested in the firm of C. S. Mersick & Co., one of the most extensive iron and steel wholesale houses’in all New England. He has been for many years the leading member of the firm and a controlling power of its large plant in New Haven. The great assistance he has rendered in promoting the commercial importance of New Haven is well known, and he may be expected to do much more to broaden its sphere of influence as a Twentieth Century municipality.
Few clubs claim Governor Woodruff as a member, but he occasionally strolls into the Union League or the Young Men’s Republican Club of New Haven, and when among his friends in a distinctly social way, proves himself a most agreeable and entertaining companion. Governor Woodruff has been reared in the atmosphere of business. Yet in his heart has always lurked a yearning for the green fields, the unlimited space, and the cultivation of the soil afforded in the country.
Five years ago, visiting his brother-in-law, William H. Losaw, at the home in Guilford to which he had just moved, Governor Woodruff noticed the ashes of a burned house on a beautiful tract of land adjoining and was so delighted with the site, that he purchased the land from Judge Lynde Harrison and erected a beautiful house.
From time to time, he has added to his property until to-day he owns a farm of 48 acres in Guilford Centre, and 30 acres at Long Hill. The farm is under the management of Mr. Losaw and of Governor Woodruff’s nephew.
The house which is called ‘Rollwood’ is handsome, and is beautifully situated on the crest of a lawn of velvety grass. It is in these surroundings that Governor Woodruff makes his home from May day to Halloween, and it is Guilford which is to him his best resting place. True, he comes to the city for the winter, but he is a country lover. With supreme satisfaction, he throws off the wear of city life and picks up the milking stool. He took to farm life as a duck to water and experience has rounded his art as a farmer.
The simple life is the sort which charms the Governor and for which he has natural aptitude.
‘Rollwood’ is a center of hospitality and many pleasant outings have been enjoyed there.
In nominating Colonel Woodruff for the governorship of the state, attention was called to him as the typical successful business man, whose common sense and integrity could not be too highly rated. It is pleasant to find this other side of his character, the Guilford farmer, whose love of nature and pleasure in the simple country life has so tempered his nature, that business acumen has never hardened into ruthlessness, that in the struggle for success he has found time to consider others and practice that special courtesy which makes of every man a friend.
Always intensely interested in public affairs and an ardent supporter of the Republican platform, Rollin S. Woodruff has held many public offices. He was at one time president of the chamber of commerce; in 1903, he went to the state senate and was elected president pro tem of that body. In 1904, he became lieutenant governor and reached the highest position within the power of the state to grant, by an overwhelming majority in the fall of 1906.
As Governor, he is again demonstrating the ability of the bourgeoisie to draw from its midst competent rulers whom it will respect and obey, this bourgeoisie which some one in speaking of England, has likened to the clear golden liquid in the middle of a cask of England’s ale; the froth is above, the dregs below.
What after the governorship? Will he, perhaps, go to the national congress? Will Clarisse T. Woodruff prove to be the one mother of 1854 whose fond dream came true? Who can say, mayhap his ambition does not point as high as that, but if the call comes, there will be no cotton in the Governor’s ears, Meanwhile, he is doing his duty as he sees it, fearlessly, thoroughly. He is winning the approbation of all right-minded men. ‘He bears his blushing honors thick upon him,’ but remains the same at heart. Some one has characterized him as ‘popular, honest, honorable, spotless in character, a plain man of the people, a devoted citizen of the state, unostentatious, but true blue, always.’
COLONEL NORTON R. HOTCHKISS, NEW HAVEN
When Governor Woodruff broke all precedents and named as the members of his staff, men who had become endeared to him through ties of personal friendship, instead of men who had busied themselves in politics, he demonstrated that he was a man of original ity and of force. Incidentally he made a very popular choice, when he selected as his Surgeon-General Dr. Norton Royce Hotchkiss of New Haven.
In him flows the blood of one of the pioneer settlers of Connecticut although himself of Southern birth and Southern training, for he traces his ancestry back to that Samuel Hotchkiss who came from Essex, England, to settle in the New Haven colony in 1641. The Hotchkiss family remained many years in New Haven and vicinity, and its members took an active part in the fight for liberty.
Seth Hotchkiss, the father of the doctor, was the first of the line to make his home away from Connecticut and when a young man settled in Fort Mill, South Carolina, where he became successful in business and was postmaster for many years.
Here Dr. Hotchkiss was born August 23, 1870, and in the public schools of Fort Mill, he received his early education, later studying at the Fort Mill Academy.
He determined to follow the study and practice of medicine and became a student in the University of Maryland where he distinguished himself in his studies, and became the leader in every enterprise of his class.
Previous to his graduation, he served for one year as intern in the University Hospital, and was graduated from the Medical College in 1891, being president of his class. During his college course he was prominent in the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
When the time arrived to choose a field for labor, the young physician inclined toward the home of his ancestors and left his Southern home to begin his practice in New Haven. Success came in gratifying measure, and each year his standing has become higher, his place among the skillful and much sought physicians more firmly established.
For the past seven or eight years, he has devoted considerable time to surgery and has developed remarkable skill and a high reputation in this branch.
His office is always filled with patients and his practice is very wide. With such a busy round of daily duties, he has but little time to give to outside pleasures, and early enthusiasms such as baseball, have had to give way to the fascination and absorption of medical activities.
Dr. Hotchkiss is president of the New Haven County Medical Association and is also a member of the American, the state and city medical associations.
Fraternal life contains many charms for him and he is affiliated with about fifteen societies. Among these may be mentioned the Masons in which he has attained the thirty-second degree, the Mystic Shrine, the N. E. O. P., the Red Men, the A. O. U. W. In several fraternities, he is the examining physician. Of a genial, social nature, he is cordially welcomed in clubdom and is an active member of the Knights Templars Club, the Graduates Club, the Union League. He is a Son of the American Revolution and his strong interest in historical matters has led him to join the New Haven Colony Historical Society. To no organization is he more devoted than the Second Company, Governor’s Foot Guards, of which he is still a member and whom he served for a decade as surgeon.
Dr. Hotchkiss has more than the usual apportionment of popularity, accorded men distinguished in their profession and fond of the society of their fellow-men, for by his personality, his broad sympathies and his consideration of the rights of others, he has won friends innumerable from every rank in life, loyal friends who combine their cordial liking with respect for his character.
Dr. Hotchkiss married Miss Lucy E. Belk of Fort Mill, South Carolina, in October, 1893. Mrs. Hotchkiss is a member of the Heath family, widely known as big cotton manufacturers and bankers, their reputation extending through the entire South. Three children have been born to them, Elizabeth Morrow, Norton Royce, Jr., and Mattie Eugenia.
He is a member of the First M. E. Church and is active in the affairs of that church. Since his practice has crowded out many other things in life, Dr. Hotchkiss has been forced to lessen his activities in some directions, but he is still a member of the New Haven Gun Club. Politics has never claimed him, and this is a unique fact, in connection with a member of a Governor’s staff.
His home is at 219 York Street, New Haven, and he is fond of being surrounded by his friends.
SENATOR CLARENCE E. THOMPSON, WEST HAVEN
That a charm of personality is an asset, few will deny. And, while the success of the man, a sketch of whose life follows, might have been just as marked, had he possessed less of that attribute that the rareness of his personality helped, cannot be gainsayed.
Clarence E. Thompson, who was born at Orange, Conn., in November, 1844, has been so long identified with the leading men of affairs in New Haven, that to many it would appear as though he owed no allegiance elsewhere.
Yet the good people of Orange claim this man as their own and to .strengthen their hold upon him, they elected him their Representative in the Legislature in 1902, conferring the same honor upon him in 1904. In 1906 they sent him to the Senate from the Fourteenth District. Notably good work was done by Mr. Thompson in 1903 in the General Assembly, where he occupied the important position of House Chairman of the Committee on Banks. This office he was well qualified to fill, for as an authority on banking and investments, Mr, Thompson stands in line with the best versed men in the state.
A story told of him by some of his fellow Senators that brings a hearty laugh when- ever recounted, has to do with the last session of the Senate. It was at the time the smoke nuisance of the Consolidated road was being so vigorously agitated. One night toward the close of the session, a dinner party was given at the home of Senator Patrick McGovern of Hartford. It was strictly a Legislative function. Governor Buckley was the guest of honor. The occasion marked the presentation of a magnificent clock to Senator McGovern. A sumptuous menu was served. It was indeed a brilliant and merry event. A day or two after, the same body of men met on the floor of the Senate. There was no hint of the frivolous in any of them. They were the finished men of state. There were questions of importance to be discussed, serious problems to be solved. They were there in solemn array, the merry-making of a few nights gone by — forgotten. It came the turn of Senator Jeremiah Donovan of Norwalk to occupy the rostrum. Every one familiar with Mr. Donovan’s oratory knows his convincing method of addressing his fellow senators. He was in on the smoke nuisance thick and fast that day. It was an outrage, a terrible outrage, and morever, one that could easily be obviated. There were patent devices that could be used to keep the smoke from coming out of the chimney, if only the corporations interested would take the trouble to look into the matter. Just at this juncture, Senator Thompson stood up, and with an apology for his interruption, stated that he was somewhat surprised that the learned Senator from the Twenty-sixth district should thus express himself; in view of the fact, continued Senator Thompson, that only a few nights ago, I heard this same gentleman at Senator McGovern’s dinner singing in splendid basso profundo, ‘You push the damper in, and you pull the damper out, but the smoke goes up the chimney just the same.’ The House burst into a roar of laughter that continued for several minutes. Mr. Donovan was forced to join with the rest, and the smoke question was tabled.
Mr. Thompson has a splendid record aside from his legislative distinction. In his home town, where his father, Silas Thompson, was one of the leading men of the place, he spent his early life on the farm. Even then he showed the promise of the broader and bigger things to come. He was prominent in the expansion and improvement of the school system, his interest in the school question remaining to this day, keenly alert. Later he was on the board of warden and burgesses for several years, serving as warden for one year.
In 1868, Mr. Thompson married Miss Helena R. Smith of West Haven. Four sons have blessed their union, Howard W., late cashier of The National Tradesmen’s Bank, who died November 1, 1904; Ernest S., late discount clerk of the Yale National Bank, who died January 10, 1902; Clarence E., Jr., and Harry D. who are members of the firm, Clarence E. Thompson & Sons.
It is somewhat curious that all of Mr. Thompson’s sons should have inherited his faculty and taste for banking. There are few men who have the satisfaction of seeing their children voluntarily choose the same calling in life as their own. The loss of his two sons was the first great sorrow Mr. Thompson knew. Somehow his entire life has seemed marked by continual progress and success.
Socially, Mr. Thompson is one of the most genial men in town. His popularity as a club man was attested when he was chosen President of the Union League Club of New Haven, an office he still holds.
While a Republican, frank and firm, loyal to the last degree to his party, his independent attitude toward questions of public concern, has marked him a man of more than ordinary importance in the civic world.
Mr. Thompson is a staunch member of the Congregational Church. A many-sided man whose life is rounded out in the fullness of prosperity and well-earned content.
HON. MORRIS F. TYLER, NEW HAVEN
One of the most progressive men who ever lived in New Haven was the late Morris F. Tyler. A sketch of him, prepared before his death, follows:
It is a pleasing and a just custom which prevails among most, if not all, of our institutions of higher learning, of calling, each, its own sons to fill its chairs whenever this may be done without sacrificing merit. This is a just recompense to those who have profited by the teachings of their Alma Mater, and have won proficiency through hard labor. It is something of a compliment to the institution, also, for she honors herself in honoring him. Among these favored sons of a grand old institution was the subject of the present sketch, Hon. Morris Franklin Tyler.
Mr. Tyler was of the number who, in assuming positions of public trust, merely perpetuated family traditions, for the Tylers, an old and well-known Connecticut family, have often served the state. His father, Morris Tyler, is still personally remembered by the elder citizens of New Haven, where he served the city as councilman, alderman, and mayor, and his state as lieutenant-governor. He was a wholesale manufacturer of boots and shoes, and left a reputation for uprightness and directness. Mr. Morris F. Tyler was born in New Haven in 1848, August 12th. He was educated in the public schools of his native city, and in the Hillhouse High School, entering Yale at the age of eighteen, and receiving the degree of A.B. four years later with the Class of 1870. He was remarked there chiefly for his studious proclivities, bearing away among other trophies the Sophomore declamation prize, the Junior classical prize and a Senior oration. He became a member of Gamma Nu, Alpha Delta Phi and Phi Beta Kappa. He then entered the Yale Law School, from which he was graduated in 1873. In this year he won three prizes, the degree of Master of Arts, of Bachelor of Laws and a wife. He was married in New York City on November 5, 1873, to Miss Delia Talman the daughter of Victor Clifford Audubon, and granddaughter of John James Audubon, the famous ornithologist. Five children were born to them, of whom four are now living, Victor Morris Tyler; Ernest Franklin Tyler, an artist, living in New York; Leonard Sanford Tyler, and Audubon Tyler. His daughter Mary died in November, 1902, at the age of seventeen years and eleven months.
Mr. Tyler’s tirelessness as a brain-worker is shown by the fact that at the same time he was studying for his two degrees of 1873, he had devoted considerable time to journalism. He was engaged at first with the Hartford Evening Post, then became associate editor of the New Haven Palladium.
On receiving his degree, he immediately commenced the practice of his profession, in partnership with Mr. Hubbard, but later became the leading member of the firm of Tyler, Ingersoll & Moran. He developed an extensive practice, but of a sort that rarely brought him before the courts, being rather the administration of estates and the management of business enterprises.
In 1878 he became interested in the telephone business. The first telephone exchange in the world was put into operation in New Haven at that time, and Mr. Tyler became pres- ident of the company, now known as The Southern New England Telephone Co. From a modest beginning, he developed it into the wealthy and widely operating concern of to-day.
Those who are qualified to judge, consider his company one of the most successful of its kind in America. Before many years it, with still other business interests, had entirely weaned him from the practice of law. But, as we shall see, other important, as well as honorific duties were to occupy his attention.
From 1875 to 1878 Mr. Tyler served on the board of education, while in 1876-7 he was also a member of the board of common council. This service to the city was followed by one to the state, for in 1881-2, we find that he served for one year as executive secretary of the state of Connecticut under Gov. Bigelow, during which term, he declared he had all the politics he wanted for a life-time. In 1893, he was appointed instructor in Law at Yale University; in the following year, he became a regular professor of general jurisprudence, in place of the late Professor Johnson T. Platt. This is one of the most important chairs in the Law School. He held this position until 1899, when he was appointed to the very honorable position of treasurer of Yale University, a position which he filled with marked ability until 1904.
Indeed, Mr. Tyler’s tastes were remarkably literary, for one endowed with so keen an executive mind. His chief hobby was books, and when fairly launched upon that all engrossing subject, would go on and on indefinitely like grandfather’s clock. He recited editions and authors and reprints so glibly that you were lost in wonder and you thought of the schoolmaster of whom Goldsmith said,
‘And still the wonder grew,
That one small head contained all he knew.’
His specialty in books was catalogs and biography. Entre nous, only a severely legal mind could go into paroxysms of ecstacy over catalogs, but never mind. He has some writing also to his credit. It will be recalled that he edited the ‘Memoirs of Madame Vigee Le Brun.’
Connected as he had been with so many interests, Mr. Tyler had a wide acquaintance with men of affairs. These acquaintances he conserved in a large measure through numerous clubs, such as the Union League Club, the Grolier Club and the Yale Club, all of New York City, while he held membership in the Quinnipiac and the Graduates’ Clubs of New Haven.
He was long a faithful and earnest member of the Church of the Redeemer in New Haven. His early political affiliation was with the Republican party, but the incidents attending the campaign between James G. Blaine and Grover Cleveland caused him to cast in his lot with the Democrats, and since then he had renmined an independent in politics.
In conclusion, Mr. Tyler was a man of strong personality and keen judgment, a man endowed with an acute sense of his responsibility as the head of a large public utility corporation toward the people whose well-being it subserves. A lover of literature and nature, a professional man by education and a corporation manager by position, yea ‘all the elements were so mixed in him that Nature might stand forth and say to all the world, this is a man.’
COMMISSIONER JAMES R. MAXWELL
Called at an early age to the ranks of the world’s workers, — persistence, zeal and ability have been the happy trinity which have raised Commissioner James R. Maxwell to a proud position, both in the business world and as a man among men.
Unaided and alone, he has fought his hard battle with the world and has developed splendid traits of character, a fearless zeal, and unvarying cheerfulness of mind and heart, — coming out of the struggle, stronger, nobler and more than ever a man.
Among the lofty hills of Litchfield, in the land which cradled so many men of renown, he first saw the light of day — his native town being Plymouth, in Litchfield County. In that county of magnificent views and wholesome surroundings, breathing in the famous pure air — at once a delight and an inspiration, he gained his childish impressions and grew from infancy to early boyhood. In his youth, the family moved to New Haven and when the school age was attained, he entered the schools of that city, where he gained all of his bookage.
His fondness for stone work eventually led him into his present line, in which he has attained such conspicuous success. As a dealer in monuments, tablets and statuary — specializing on cemetery work — he has won a high position.
His place of business, from 14 to 20 Hedge Street, is one of the busiest spots in New Haven, and any one who desires expert workmanship combined with square-dealing, finds these two important qualifications united at Mr. Maxwell’s establishment.
Above all, he holds honor dear, and his straightforward sincerity makes him notable among business men of his city. His establishment is close to St. Bernard’s Cemetery and much of his work is designed for use in that cemetery.
This particular line of work requires m.tch dealing with people in deep affliction, and. to it, Mr. Maxwell brings a strong sympathy and a chivalrous courtesy, which are sincerely appreciated, making him more than ever, the desirable man for such a position.
The qualities of such a man demand recognition, and that New Haven citizens know to whom honor is due, has been demonstrated by the election and elevation of Mr. Maxwell to several posts of distinction.
In 1902 he was elected alderman-at-large and was re-elected two years later. It was a period in the history of New Haven when many noteworthy changes were advocated and made, and in these, Alderman Maxwell played an important part.
At that time the question of permitting an immense ‘cut’ through the city, to admit of the Consolidated Road’s four tracking the Shore Line, came up for consideration and a storm of controversy arose.
Public interest was at fever heat and a commission including Mayor Studley, Alderman Homan and Alderman Maxwell was chosen to give the matter their most earnest consideration, and report back to the Board of Aldermen.
The work of that commission was thorough, comprehensive and remarkably well done, and in this body of gentlemen, — men of high purpose and splendid executive ability — the city justly felt that it had true and devoted friends.
Mr. Maxwell has also served on the park board, where his artistic judgment was of benefit ; and was also a member of the tax commission.
At present he holds the responsible and important position of president of the Board of Police Commissioners, a body of men who perform duties of vital interest to the community, touching the protection of life and property.
Commissioner Maxwell is keenly interested in fraternal life and is a loyal and enthusiastic member of the Knights of Columbus, Elks, Eagles, Royal Arcanum, Woodmen of the World, Knights of St. Patrick, Union League, and Henry Grattan Club. These represent the very best in social and fraternal life in the city and bring him in touch with many congenial gentlemen, by whom he is held in high esteem.
He lives at 637 Howard Avenue, where he has an attractive home and where his friends are heartily welcomed.
HON. HENRY H. PECK, WATERBURY
In the town of Berlin, Hartford County, Connecticut, on the 25th day of December, 1838, was born Henry Hart Peck, the subject of this sketch. He came by way of a Christmas present, you see, and the best of all possible presents, too, for he proved a dutiful son. not only bestowing upon his parents that meed of filial love, which every well-brought-up young man does, but also bringing to the family name a degree of honor and respect that is the lot of but a few in the state to do. Indeed he would have been surprised could he have looked through the horoscope of Time, to learn that he was one day to sit in the Senate of his state, for his youth was spent modestly enough, upon a Hartford County farm. There were other boys as bright as he in the row of barefoot lads in the ‘First Reader’ class in the old red schoolhouse, but the others are scarcely known outside their native town. That is one of the glories of our American institutions. The door of opportunity is open wide, to the farm lad and to the town boy; to the rich, and to the poor alike. There is no nook nor cranny of our great territory so obscure, no country school so unpretentious, that we dare say of it, as of old, ‘What good thing can come out of Nazareth?’ The most dilapidated, weather-beaten shack may house a future president, or in Shenston’s word:
‘A little bench of heedless bishops here.
And there a chancellor in embryo.’
Still there is something in blood. Someone has said that to properly educate a child you must begin with his grandfather. Now Senator Peck began his education a good deal farther back than that. In fact, he got a flying start from his first American ancestor in a direct line, from good Deacon Stephen Hart, a collaborator with Thomas Hooker of sainted memory, and one of the first settlers of Hartford. Deacon Hart came from Braintree, England, and settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1632. Sometime later, he joined Hooker’s Cambridge Church, and accompanied that fearless man of God on his expedition into the unknown country west of the Massachusetts Colony. As for that, Mr. Peck’s ancestry may be traced indirectly to the Rev. Thomas Hooker himself.
Another prominent patriot in Mr. Peck’s family was General Selah Hart, an officer in the Revolutionary Army. He served throughout the war, spending two years in durance vile in a New York military prison. His services were much appreciated by the chief authorities. His staunch patriotism proved impervious to the many insidious Tory influences of New York, especially during its possession by the British and to which Benedict Arnold was only one of many to fall a prey.
Mr. Peck’s own father had held many town offices, and in the execution of his functions, proved himself one of that substantial class of citizens who are by nature modest and retiring, but on occasion can step forward and master new duties, grasp new trends of thought with true Yankee versatility.
With this head start then, Mr. Peck as a country lad, might justly have painted a bright future for himself in those day dreams which are the brightest treasure of the youthful mind. ‘The man who has nothing to boast of but his illustrious ancestors,’ says Sir Thomas Overbury, ‘is like a potato — the only good belonging to him is underground.’ True, but he who, conscious of the honorable lives of his forbears, pays the implied debt by generous strivings himself, is entitled to our esteem. ‘People will not look forward to their posterity who never look back to their ancestors.’
After seventeen years spent on the farm, divided between the rugged pursuits of the agricultural life and the district school, he attended Kellogg Academy of Meriden, and then, in 1857, he entered the dry goods store of D. & N. S. Miller, as clerk. After three years’ service with them, he felt competent to run a business of his own, going to Waterbury, Conn., to do so. He established a partnership with Mr. Charles Miller in the carpet and dry goods business, under the firm name of Miller & Peck. The new firm joined the strictest principles of business integrity with such assiduous efforts to please their patrons, that before it was old in years, the firm of Miller & Peck had settled down into a comfortable reputation as one of the old and reliable houses; and that, you know, in dear old, conservative Connecticut, is to sit on the front seat in Paradise.
It is now twenty years since other interests led Mr. Peck to sever his connection with the firm, though the name remains unchanged. Larger interests have claimed his time, quite particularly the Dime Savings Bank of Waterbury, with which he has long been connected, as trustee, and since 1886, as president. To handle the slowly accumulated hoards of the lowly laborer, so that they may bring him some return, and stand between him and some ‘rainy day’ is a public benefaction. It may be urged that bank presidents do not do this for nothing ; neither do ministers live by faith alone, nor by bread alone ; the most of them like a little butter on it. They are none the less benefactors. But the Dime Savings Bank goes a step farther than the other banks, inasmuch as it not merely exercises a kindly stewardship over the poor man’s savings, but educates him in the art of saving, by teaching him that no sum is too small to save. Many a laborer in Waterbury to-day has a tidy sum at interest, and many a snug cottage, bought with accumulated pennies, covers a happy family, that owes its felicity to the man who showed his fellow citizens that if they waited till they had dollars to save they would never save them.
Next in interest to his bank, which is his chief hobby, comes the Waterbury hospital, of which he is a director and a generous supporter; nor are his charities confined to this worthy cause, for from his purse the needy of his town have often found relief.
Then, too, he devotes no little time to the Citizens’ National Bank of Waterbury, of which he is a director, as he is also of the Waterbury Brass Co. and the Beacon Falls Rubber Company.
Mr. Peck is a Thirty-Second Degree Mason, belongs to Clark Commandery, Knights Templar, to the Union League Club of New Haven, to the Waterbury Club, and to the Home Club of Meriden.
He is an active supporter of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
In 1886, Mr. Peck was elected a Representative to the State Legislature on the Republican ticket, and again, in 1905, he went to Hartford as Senator.
His public service differs little from his private service, as it is all for the public good.
Senator Peck is an extensive traveler. He has visited nearly every corner of the globe, and gains from his travels, as he has gained from his books, a breadth of view and a culture that make him a charming companion.
GEORGE I. ALLEN, MIDDLETOWN
George I. Allen, of Middletown, Conn., is one of the leading young Republicans of Connecticut, and was appointed Postmaster of Middletown by President McKinley, June 24th, 1898. He was born in Bridgeport, Conn., April 7th, 1869, and is the son of Wilson Allen, who moved with his family to New Haven a short time after the birth of the subject of this sketch, and it was in the excellent public schools of the latter city that he received his early education. Thrown upon his own resources early in life, he began his business career as a clerk in a mercantile establishment, devoting his evenings and leisure to reading and study. He possessed a determination to succeed and to fit himself for a higher position in the business world.
Mr. Allen became a resident of Middletown, Conn., in 1885, entering the employ of Henry Ward, of that city. He soon became well and favorably known, not only as a good business man, but as a leader of his party in the County. He has always been a Republican, and his keen interest in politics and rare executive ability resulted in his selection as Chairman of the Republican Town Committee, in which position he served for several years. He is also an active member of the Young Men’s Republican Club of Middletown, and early became identified with the Republican State League, of which organization he is Vice-President, and was a delegate to the National Convention of the League held at Louisville. He is also an active member, and has been for the past few years on the Republican State Central Committee.
During the campaign which resulted in the election of O. Vincent Coffin as Governor of Connecticut, Mr. Allen was an important factor, visiting all parts of the State and securing a large amount of support for Mr. Coffin, which resulted in the nomination of that gentleman.
He is a Director in the Anderson T. Herd Realty Company, and in a number of other Realty Companies, also a Director in the City Savings Bank.
Upon the formation of the State Highway Commission, Mr. Allen was appointed Secretary of the Board, and he faithfully served as such until his appointment as Postmaster of Middletown in June, 1898. Since he assumed the duties of the latter office he has made many improvements in the office proper, and has improved the service to a marked degree, devoting his entire attention to the development of the office to the highest state of efficiency. Mr. Allen was one of the six Presidential Electors of Connecticut in 1906, and cast his vote for President McKinley. He has a wide acquaintance throughout the State; is in close touch with all the political leaders of his party; and is a genial and popular young man with all classes.
In 1891 he joined Company H, Mansfield Guards, Second Regiment, C. N. G. C, as private, was promoted to Sergeant and later appointed Paymaster and Commissary of the Regiment, with rank of First Lieutenant. He takes great interest in military affairs, and served as Commissary for the Regiment during its trip to New York to welcome the return of Admiral Dewey.
Mr. Allen became a Mason soon after attaining his majority, and passed through the different orders of that fraternity until he was made Knight Templar of Cyrene Commandery. He is also a member of Pyramid Temple Mystic Shrine, of Bridgeport; Apollo Lodge, K. of P., of Middletown; the Middletown Lodge No. 771, B. P. O. E., of which he was a charter member, and the first member elected to the position of Esteemed Loyal Knight.
Socially, he is a member of the Middletown Club, the Elks Club, Middletown Yacht Club and the Union League Club of New Haven.”
-Excerpt and (top) image courtesy of Archive.org, Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, “Noted men of Connecticut as they look in life: as published in the columns of The Evening Leader of New Haven: being a collection of portraits and biographical sketches of representative men of Connecticut who have made and are making the history of the states,” by Edward James Hall, 1906