A CENTURY OF
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY,
EARLY AND MODERN. LITER-
ARY EXERCISES AT HISTORIC
AT VERNON CENTER.
INCEPTION AND ORGANIZATION OF THE
MOVEMENT. REPORT OF THE PROCEED-
INGS AND PROGRAM FOR THE WEEK'S
June 28 to July 4, Inclusive, 1908
PUBLISHED UNDER THE AUSPICES OF
SPECIAL HISTORICAL COMMITTEE.
PRESS OF T. F. RADY & COMPANY
COMMITTEE ON PUBLICATION
JOSEPH C. HAMMOND, JR., THOMAS F. NOONE,
PARLEY B. LEONARD.
EDITED AND COMPILED BY
HARRY CONKLIN SMITH.
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY,
EARLY AND MODERN.
Early History of Vernon
C. DENISON TALCOTT.
The Pilgrim Fathers who founded the colony of Plymouth, and
their successors who established the colony upon Massachusetts
Bay, were the bearers of a new and more excellent order of life.
They constituted the vanguard of a new civilization based upon
freedom of spirit which aspired to religious liberty, and upon
freedom of mind and of body which is the civil liberty of our
modern state. From the leaders of these two colonies, with
vigor of manhood and nobility of ideal, there migrated in the
year 1635, the pioneer settlers of our three original towns —
Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield. In 1726 from one of
these original towns, Windsor, there journeyed into the territory
of North Bolton. Samuel Grant, the first permanent settler. In
1808, by reason of the large increase of these pioneers, this
northern part of the Mother Town. Bolton, was set off and incor-
porated as a separate town. Thus it was that Vernon was not
only descended from the foremost pioneers of the nation, but
inherited the motives and impulses of a new era.
The original towns were founded upon a distinct principle of
government. Shortly after the migration, a legislative council
was convened, under the name of the "Corte," afterward called
the General Court, our General Assembly, The powers of this
'"Corte" were delegated by the towns. The central authority
was regarded as dependent finally for its claim to power upon
the townships themselves. They were the creators of the state,
were therefore the source of authority and finally supreme. Such
has been the governing principle of all the successive towns of
the commonwealth. Imbued, in her turn, with this principle of
her natural autocracy. Vernon entered upon existence.
6 SUMMARY OF VERNON S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
Vernon, as a beneficiary of Nature, has been kindly treated.
The town is divided, north and south, by a range of hills,
which mark the limit of the broad valley of the Connecticut
Eiver. As a result, the western portion of the town is a gently
undulating territory, of fair soil, and well watered by the prin-
cipal streams, the Hockanum and the Tankaroosan. The eastern
portion, of a variegated rock formation, precipitous and severe,
possesses at its northern extremity, the outlet of a marvelous
watershed. Formerly this outlet was not under the control of
a high and massive dam of stone, but was bound by a low
combination of logs and gravel from which there passed a rivulet,
so small, that a well-known townsman, Peter Dobson, expressed
considerable surprise that Colonel McLean should think of con-
structing a mill upon the Hockanum instead of the Tankaroosan.
Mr. Dobson, on other occasions, was an unusually able and close
student of nature. While excavating for the foundation of his
cotton factory, he was greatly impressed with the abraded con-
dition of many of the bowlders. This unique condition, Mr.
Dobson attributed to their being suspended and carried in ice
over rocks and earth under water. Eminent scientists in Europe
and America confirmed this original theory of the glacial for-
mation, and Mr. Dobson was honored with well-merited prestige.
Nature was kind to Vernon, therefore, in the diversity of her
gifts, as well as in providing successful interpreters of her
As the new town had an inland location and manufacturers
were still in the experimental stage, the inhabitants by nature
and by necessity gave themselves universally to the pursuit of
agriculture. The conditions of farming within the territory
of a single township led to a limited and somewhat isolated
population. At this early time, the town government, while
essentially the same as that of today, possessed and exercised a
much wider range of authority, an influence indeed which to the
eye of the settler was complete and supreme. The average citizen
of 1808 looked upon his town as upon a small republic, and
knew little and cared less for the larger commonwealth to which
he owed his allegiance. The reason for this was because the
interest of every individual was bounded by the rule of the town
^VmJ 4^>^^ynSi~^-A /^i-t-mifi-Coy ~/#Vi^>} OcfcnrOf** 4*j>
FAC-SIMILE OF ORIGINAL DEED by which Samuel Grant exchanged his
farm in Bolton of one hundred acres for five hundred acres of land in
North Bolton, now Rockville — deed executed in 1726.
SUMMARY OF VERNON S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 7
of his residence. To secure legal residence he must either be a
native, be admitted by vote of the town meeting, by the approval
of the selectmen, or by election to some town office. Having
acquired a legal residence, to become a voter there was a property
qualification, the usual testimonial as to character, and the
freeman's oath. These powers over residence and tbe right to
vote were greatly modified in the formation and adoption of the
new state constitution in 1818. The property qualification
disappeared by an amendment of 1845, one more step in the
evolution of the suffrage to a more simple and universal form.
The problems of our fathers, in 1808, were primarily problems
of construction rather than of maintenance as at present. Sim-
ilarity of occupation brought about an identity in private inter-
est, which naturally found expression in public affairs. At the
earliest town meeting, presided over by the first town clerk and
treasurer, Oliver King, it was voted to divide the districts and
assess the labor on highways. For a long period of years the
laying out of new highways was the principal subject for action
at town meeting. Many acts of these early meetings have refer-
ence, also, to the protection of property in ways quite unusual
today. The definition of property was a matter which claimed
much careful attention, as is evidenced by the office of fence-
viewer. Again, men were so few, and animals so common, that
the hay wards and pound-keeper were as ordained as the regular
constable. Horses, mules, sheep, cattle, geese were restrained by
special acts from running at large. A notable exception occurred
in the case of swine which were allowed to run at large with a
ring in the nose. With these various additional town offices and
a comparatively small list of citizens, opportunities for public
service were open at one time or another to nearly every one.
Considering that the population was eager to exercise itself in
this regard, it is not to be wondered at that a great amount of
sound political training was accomplished. The tax, in those
early days, was seldom paid in money, the greater part was work-
ed out. Town meetings were held at Vernon Center up to 1856,
when they were held alternately at Rockville, and in 1865 alto-
gether in the latter place.
8 SUMMARY OF YERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN
The ideal of religion was as widespread and profound in its
spiritual effect as the ideal of government was stimulating in
its intellectual effect. The established church being Congrega-
tional, possessed the same democratic principle as the civil au-
thority. In fact the relation of the church to the civil power
was peculiarly unique. Taxes were by law collected for the
support of the church as regularly as for town expenses. The
church society used the civil tax list, and if there was difficulty
in collecting, the town authority enforced the collection. Re-
strictions over voting in the society meetings were as rigid, indeed
were the same as in the civil town meeting. The activity of the
tithing-man was clearly in behalf of the church society, yet he
was a regularly appointed town officer. He constituted a sort
of moral police, who on the occasion of divine service, quelled the
restlessness of the youth and disturbed the slumbers of the aged.
While the church society had direct control in all matters per-
taining to local religion, the General Assembly held jurisdiction
over the church body as a whole. This close relationship between
church and state was ended in 1818 by the provisions of the
In 1749, upon petition of eighteen residents of North Bolton,
the General Assembly granted the privileges of a winter parish.
These privileges were allowed on account of the unusual distance
from the ordained church in Bolton. They consisted of special
services in the schoolhouses or individual houses as convenience
allowed. In 1760, upon further petition, a separate parish was
established under the name of the Ecclesiastical Society of North
Bolton. The first pastor of this Society was Rev. Ebenezer
Kellogg and his salary during the fifty-five years of his pastorate,
did not exceed £70. (Colonial currency $233.33). A church build-
ing was erected in 1762 and was located a half mile east of
the present edifice at Vernon Center. The spot being elevated
according to custom, became familiarly known as "Old Meeting
House Hill." It was not until IT 70 that square straight-back-
ed pews Mere installed, nor until 1774 that the building was
finally plastered. The age of our ancestors was pervaded by the
ideal of the spirit. They labored for the meat that perisheth,
SUMMARY OF VERNON S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 9
but only in the sense that by a renewed vigor and a more ample
fortune they might erect some new symbol of their faith in the
spirit of man. In 1837, members of the parish living in the
village of Roekville. organized a second church. The church had.
as its first preacher. Rev. Diodate Brockway. and the church
building, constructed at a heavy expense ($4,500) was located
on the site of our present Memorial Town Hall. This church
remained the Second Church in Vernon up to 1848. when the
growth of the village became so pronounced that the parish was
divided and a new church organized. The new edifice was erected
on the site of the present Union Church and the first pastor
was Rev. Andrew Sharpe. The two churches became known
respectively as the First and Second Churches in Rockville.
Of the other denominations the first to make its appearance
was that of the Methodists. Services were held by itinerant
preachers as early as 1833. It was not until 1840, however, that
Vernon was placed upon the regular list of appointments. The
first appointees were Revs. Benj. M. Walker and Caleb D.
Rogers. Meetings were conducted in the old schoolhouse on
AVest Street until 1847, when a church building was erected. The
location was in the same vicinity, on AVest Street, not far from
For professions other than clergymen, there was in the Puritan
regime comparatively little room. The lawyer was, according
to the Scriptures, decried and regarded as a maker rather than
a settler of disputes. Vernon was fortunate in that her first
lawyer not only easily dispelled the prejudice of the age, but
achieved a distinction far beyond the confines of his adopted
town. Hon. D wight Loomis was born a judge, and to that rare
temperament was added a profound devotion to the public wel-
fare, and to the principles of a far-seeing and high-minded
A new country, consecrated to the idealism of a theocracy,
had little thought for the advancement of science. Although
physicians, as a profession, were prominent much earlier than
lawyers, the efficacy of their cures lay fully as much in the
common sense of a strong personality as in the consequences of
10 SUMMARY OF YERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX
a huge cathartic. The list of rates for general practice, adopted
in 1828, by the Tolland County Medical Society, is a significant
commentary on the times — regular visits twenty-five cents, night
visits fifty cents, consultations one dollar. One of the ear-
liest physicians in North Bolton, and the first in
Vernon was Dr. Scottoway Hinckley. Dr. Hinckley
joined the Medical Society in 1803, and read a disser-
tation before that body in 1807. He was particularly interested
in school matters, and served many years on the visiting and
district committees, (1799-1815). We recall Dr. Hinckley also
for his experiments, in 1812, along with Delano Abbott, in the
first weaving of cloth. Altogether Vernon may feel well satis-
fied with the public spirit of her first regular physician.
A school society was established in Xorth Bolton, October 31,
1796. The formation of a society was the method prevailing at
that time in the promotion and regulation of all school matters.
In the early days of the three original towns, the common educa-
tion was a subject for action at town meeting. In those ^days
there was usually but one parish or ecclesiastical society in each
town. As the population increased, a division became necessary,
and two or more parishes began to occupy the same general terri-
tory. With this division into parishes came the gradual transfer
of school supervision from the town authorities to the leaders
in each parish. The school society was a self-appointed repre-
sentative committee of the parish interested in school matters.
The first meetings of the society in Xorth Bolton were held in
the <»ld meeting house. The parish was immediately divided into
districts, and the erection of the small but historic schoolhouses
soon followed. In L798 the first school visiting committee was
appointed. The visiting committee appointed in 1808. when
North Bolton became Vernon, consisted of Scottoway Hinckley,
Oliver II. King, Benjamin Talcott, Jr., and Thomas W. Kellogg.
It is clear, therefore, that the school system was in working order
at the beginning of our history as a town. As the southern
part of the town was the earliest to develop; the Center. Dobson,
PJicenix and Valley Falls Districts became the first of impor-
tance. The old schoolhouse near Valley Falls, long since out of
Founder of First Cotton Mill in Vernon and one of the first in America.
Co-worker with Samuel Slater, Father of Cotton Manufacturing in
this Country. (Courtesy of Rockville Journal).
SUMMARY OF VERNON 's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 11
commission, still stands the relic of a stern and somber past. In
the vicinity of Rockville, the West District became the first of
importance. The schoolhouse stood near the old Grant Mill.
In the East District there was no schoolhouse until 1836. To
meet the rapid development of the new village, schools were held
in private houses. In the same year, 1836, the society voted
that school should be kept four months in the year, the first
reference we have to the length of the term of instruction. While
an opportunity for instruction was made possible for every child
in the township, we can not regard the resultant education other
than purely elementary. Up to Is;;*.) there was hut one grade.
The pursuit of agriculture without modern implements and in
the midst of a primitive wildness afforded slight opportunities
for self-culture. The foremost problem of the community was
the hard practical end of gaining a livelihood. Nature was the
task-master and applied mechanics was the general course of
study. The field of advanced learning was reserved for the
clergymen, and the effect even here was dogmatic and limited.
It must he borne in mind, however, that profundity of knowl-
edge was not the first essential of a community based upon free
institutions. "We glorify our fathers because they recognized
that a diffusion of knowledge, a high average intelligence, was
the real foundation of a i'vvr democracy. In 1848, the first
regular school building for both the lower and higher grades
was completed at a cost of about $10,000. This marked the
beginning of our modern system of education. A state law, in
185(5, abolished the school societies and transferred the school
jurisdiction from the parish back to the town. Ii was some time
later, however, (1866) before the various school districts were
made uniformly responsible to the town authority, as we have it
Agriculture, which in 1808 occupied a foremost position in
industry, was destined to be superseded, and in a comparatively
short time become second in importance to the mechanical arts.
In the early days the lord of the farm looked down upon the
mechanic as upon a vulgar and inferior being. Not until the
constitution of 1818 were both placed upon the same level as
12 SUMMARY OF VERNON'** HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
citizens. Manufacturing at once felt the impetus of the new
equality in industry. Soon after, in 1821, appeared the first
real factory in the town, built by Colonel Francis McLean, and
called the Bock. Other manufactories in their order of develop-
ment were — the Frank (1831); New Bock (1832); afterward
the Leeds (1837); Hockanum (1833), formerly Twin Mills
(1814) ; Springville (1833) ; Saxony (1836) ; Panola or Stone
Mill (1836) ; and New England (1837). These various enterpris-
es so rapidly succeeded that by 1841, when a post office was estab-
lished and Bockville entered upon history, the mechanic had
passed the agriculturist, and not only in Vernon but through-
out Connecticut as a whole. We became a manufacturing town,
and we arrived at this condition by reason of the intuitive
faculty which has given us the name of "Yankee."
War has made its summons upon Vernon in the most memor-
able conflict of history. Three hundred enlisted men responded
to the great moral call of the Civil War, Company F
of the Fifth Connecticut, Company D of the Fourteenth
Connecticut, and a detachment in Company B of the
Seventh Connecticut, and one German company of the Xew
York military, beside nmny individuals to various other regi-
ments. Upon the record of the town, as well, is the heavy
expenditure of money which was none other than the labor of
those who fulfilled their duty at home. At the town meeting
of August 19, 1862, the sum of $25,000 was appropriated for the
general expenses. By the close of the war, other appropriations
brought the total to over $46,000. In addition the estimated
amount paid by individuals for bounties to volunteers and sub-
stitutes was $15,000. When we remember that the population
was less than half of our present numbers, the measure of the
sacrifices, both in men and in money, appears in a truer and
more powerful light. The days of the Bebellion are gone. Only
those who lived them through can know of the anguish of soul
upon the field and the terrible uncertainty of mind at home.
A'crnon, in 1824, by the advantage of her location on the
Boston Turnpike, enjoyed an event of considerable historic inter-
est. Upon this turnpike Colonel King erected a substantial
Builder of the first woolen mill of
importance and pioneer of the indus-
Delegate to Constitutional Convention
in ISIS. Agent of the Rock Manu-
facturing Company. Organizer of
The American Mills.
CAPTAIN ALLEN HAMMOND.
The history of Rockville has been in-
separably connected with name of
Hammond since 1837.
DR. ALDEN SKINNER.
One of the last of the old-time phy-
sicians. Father of Town Clerk
Skinner — Alden Skinner Camp Sons
of Veterans is named in his honor,
SUMMARY OF VERXON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 13
hostelry, our present town farm, known in those days as King's
Tavern. At the tavern many men of national fame from time
to time regaled themselves. Finally, one of international repute,
General Lafayette, on his revisit to America, had occasion to
make the journey from Boston to Hartford. Vernon, to render
the illustrious guest appropriate homage, called out her military
for a royal salute. The general, however, was so late in arriving
that the soldiers and royal salute betook themselves home.
Nevertheless the historic sojourn at the old tavern took place,
and many veterans of the Revolution greeted the gallant French-
man. This event has been honorably commemorated by one of
our patriotic societies, the D. A. E.
The achievements of early Vernon must needs be to the many
a tradition, to the few, only a memory. The work of our Puritan
ancestry was essentially constructive. They were the precursors
and guardians of a new manhood, and as such, were builders of
mind, of body, and of soul. The final effect was not perfect,
nor always pleasing, but citizenship was ennobled in every de-
partment and life was made richer for the generation to come.
SUMMARY OF YERXOXS HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN" 15
MODERN HISTORY OF VERNON
Harry Coxklix Smith.
History is a record of what man lias done, a narrative of
past events. A town history treats of the rise and growth
of the town, of the deeds of the town's citizens, the manners
and customs of her people, from which it gains its color and
inspiration. It also shows the part the town has taken in that
mighty forward and onward movement, called progress. Town
history is distinguished as early and modern. Usually it is the
task of the historian to trace the progress of the town from its
rude beginnings to its present strength and wealth. It should
be a labor of love, and to be properly done, it must be the
work of years. The history of the town of Vernon has been
divided into two parts. The first part, or a summary of the
early history of the town, has been admirably presented to the
reader in the preceding pages.
Xo generation in the strictest sense can begin its own work.
It reaps fields that have been sown by others. To understand
what we are today we need to go back to the toils and hardships
of our ancestors, the descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers. It
was their rude schoolhouses that prepared the way for our
splendid present-day system of education. It was their struggle
for political and religious freedom that gave us the greatest
republic on which the sun ever shone, and our Xew England
town and Xew England town meeting, institutions that typify
freedom and democracy. It was their intense conviction of their
accountability to God that fruited in the rugged virtues of Xew
England character. While we of the present day, in veneration of
that loyalty to God, home and country, which made our ancestors
industrious, honest, self reliant and honored, strive to maintain
the splendid character of our Xew England civilization, the
16 SUMMARY OF VERXOXS HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX
problems that confront us as a town today are vastly different
from the problems our fathers had to deal with when the town
was incorporated, and for many years after its incorporation.
As has been truly said, they are no longer problems of con-
struction, but problems of maintenance. In chronicling the
events of these later days the historian must deal with plain,
unvarnished facts, crowding a maximum of historic information
into a minimum of space.
While it will be necessary in some instances to go a decade
or two back of the Civil War to properly describe conditions
and chronicle events during the modern period of Vernon's his-
tory, the Civil War is the point of demarcation between the early
and the modern history of the town. In the summary of the
town's early history the reader was given a clear idea of what
Vernon did for her brave and loyal sons, who enlisted for the
war, and what they in turn did for their country. The first
chapter of the modern history introduces the reader to the
return of these soldiers, showing the conditions that existed in
the town of Vernon following the war.
When the news of Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox
reached Vernon, there was great rejoicing and a notable
demonstration. One by one the Boys-in-Blue came back to their
old homes and their families, conscious of having discharged
the highest duty of American citizenship. Of the three hundred
enlisted men from Vernon, who responded to the great moral call
of the Civil War, many lost their lives on the various battlefields
or died of wounds in hospitals or elsewhere. Practically all of
Vernon's mill owners showed the right spirit toward their
employees who answered their country's call in its time of dire
need, and toward their families who were left at home, in
many cases to battle with life alone. The American Mills'
conduct along these lines was particularly noteworthy.
VERNON AND THE WAR WITH SPAIN.
Just a third of a century after one of the grandest wars ever
fought by man for man, the tocsin of war again sounded
throughout the land. This time the United States was forced
SUMMARY OF VERNOX's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN' 17
to teach Spain a lesson. Because she persisted in the practices
of the fifteenth century in the closing years of the
nineteenth century, refusing to advance with the modern
laws of humanity, we entered upon a unique war,
standing alone amidst all the wars of history. The
young men who marched through Rockville's streets on
.May 1. 1898 were the exad counterpart of the young
men of '61. Never in Rockville's history was there
more patriotism displayed than when Company left for Nian-
tic to be mustered into the United Stales service. Over five
thousand people saw them off. Public buildings and private
residences were covered with "Old Glory," business was suspended
and the boys departed amid cheers and tears. It was a source of
great satisfaction to know that the manufacturers had made
arrangements to provide for the families whose husbands or
other members enlisted for the war. The sum of $25 per
month was given to the married men and $15 per month to the
single men. Company C was the banner company of the regi-
ment, a greater percentage of its men having passed the rigid
medical examination, which goes to show that the men were
in their prime and enjoyed vigorous health.
The First Regiment having been assigned to the peaceful
department of the East, Company C hoys did not get into the
thick of the fight. They sacrificed much, however. Some died,
while others endured long sieges of sickness. That they did
not go across the waters was no fault of theirs. They offered
themselves, as did the boys of '61, for any sacrifice which might
be called for.
They were gone away from home a few days over six months,
spending the time after leaving Xiantic at Jerry's Point, Ports-
mouth, X. H. and Camp Alger, Ya. They received a grand
ovation and reception on their return to Rockville on the even-
ing of November 9, 1898.
18 SUMMARY OF VKKXOX's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
ROSTER OF COMPANY C WHEN MUSTERED INTO THE
UNITED STATES SEE VICE AT CAMP HAVEN,
NIANTIC, MAY 17, 1898, BY LIEUTENANT
ROWAN, U. S. ARMY.
Captain — Martin Laubscher.
Lieutenants — 1st, John Paul Haun ; 2nd, Frederick W. Chapman
First Sergeant — James H. Barnett.
Sergeants — Quartermaster, Francis Murray; Charles B. Milne,
Arthur W. Gyngell, * James W. Milne, Albert E. Usher.
Corporals — 1st, William F. Schillinger; 2nd, Webster Kaye ; 3rd,
William M. Hefferon: 4th, Arthur A. Gerich; 5th, William J.
Breen; 6th, Albert E. M. Profe.
Musicians — William J. Finley, Walter F. McCray.
Artificer — Henry M. Seipt.
Wagoner — George B. McClellan.
Privates — George N. Aborn, Charles R. Anderson, Sylvester E.
Arnold, Ernest E. Austin, Albert C. Bartlett, James A.
Beaumont, Charles E. Binch, Richard Brache. Frank S. Breen.
Hugo Broil, Harry J. Brown, Elmer W. Cahoon, Frank D.
Chadwick, Richard G. Champion, Perlin L. Charter, Wilbur
F. Charter, Jesse Clift, William J. Connolly, John Connors
2d., Jewett Collum, Philip Diedering, Jr., John Donovan,
Frank P. Dowd, Francis F. Einsiedel, James B. Farrell,
Francis P. Fitzpatrick, Joseph H. Flynn, Otto Flossbach,
David E. Fox, Herman P. Franz, John E. Gawtrey, Thomas
F. Golden, George F. Gorham, *Felix Gross, Manville Grum-
back, John F. Haun, John J. Hecker, George A. Hewitt,
Andrew Eopf, Squire Jackson, James S. Jones, Martin T.
Leamy, Robert H. Lehmann, Jason D. Lowell, Charles F.
Ludwig, James H. Lutton, Joseph H. Lutz, Thomas P. Lynch,
William E. Lyons, Matthew McNamara, Philip J. Malir,
Frank L. Manion, Ferdinand A. Matthewson, George Meyer,
*Died of typhoid lever, contracted while in the service of the
SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN* 19
George H. Miller, Thomas L. Millot, Thomas F. Moore. John
C. Murphy, John L. Murphy, John W. Murphy, William C.
Murphy, Patrick J. McCollough, Donald K. McLagen, Matt-
hew N. Xahigian, Thomas F. Newbury, Francis M. Norton,
John J. O'Neil, William Phillips, Frederick J. A. H. Profe,
James J. Quinn, Robert H. Rau, Charles H. Rauschenbach,
John Regan, Emil R. Schwerwitzky, Carl C. Schmeiske, Emil
W. Schmeiske, Ernesl A. Sharpe, Isaac- Simms, John H.
Smith, Freedrick W. Stengel, Henry H. Tracy, Eerman C.
Wagner, Charles J. Waidner. Anthony Wannegar, Waller J.
Willis, Howard Winchell.
Charles H. Thrall, son of Mr. and Mrs. Julius S. Thrall of
this city, who was in Havana, Cuba, previous t<> the outbreak
of the Spanish- American War, in charge of an electric light
station, had a thrilling experience that he is likely to remember
as long as he lives. After war had been declared, Mr. Thrall,
who had been in this country, set sail for Cuba, where he was
employed in the interests of the United States government and
as a correspondent for the Xew York papers. He was taken a
prisoner, with others, at Salado Beach by two companies of
Spanish batteries. He was conducted to the Cuban fortress,
Morro Castle, by seven of the Civil Guards and confined there.
He was finally exchanged. The incidents surrounding his cap-
ture would form a very interesting chapter.
During the Spanish-American War Dr. Thomas F. Rockwell
of this city was major and surgeon on the staff of General Charles
L. Burdett, having volunteered his services. On May 4. 1898,
he was appointed post surgeon of the military post at Xiantic,
Conn., under Brigadier-General George Haven, and he served
as consulting surgeon in the First Division Hospital at Camp
Alger, Va. His military career has been a long and honorable
FPHOLDIXG MILITARY TRADITIOXS.
Shortly after the close of the Civil War a Grand Army Post
was organized in this city, but owing to dissensions in the ranks
of its members it was short lived. It was one of the pioneer
20 SUMMARY OF VERNON S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
posts of the state. After its disbandment, a Veterans' Associa-
tion was formed among many of the local veterans of the
Rebellion to perpetuate the memory of departed soldiers who
bad taken part in the memorable conflict from '61 to '65. Bur-
pee Post, Xo. 71, Department of Connecticut G. A. R. was
organized April 23, 1884, with twenty-three charter
members, of whom the following are living: A. Park
Hammond, D. F. Andrews, Willard Griswold, W. B.
Root, H. M. Willis, J. H. Newell, L. X. Charter,
John Thompson, Arthur A. Hyde and H. W. Coye.
George X. Brigham was the first post commander and Charles
W. Wood the post's first adjutant. Since the organization of
the post to the present time one hundred and twenty-five
veterans have enrolled their names on the membership
book. The post is named in honor of the gallant
Colonel Burpee of the Twenty-first Regiment, Connecticut
Volunteers, who was killed at the battle of Cold Harbor on the
morning of June 9, 1864 while acting as brigade officer of the
day. Colonel Burpee was a Rockville boy. Harvey Davis is
the present commander and Julius H. Xewell is adjutant.
Burpee Woman's Relief Corps, which has done noble work,
co-operating in a splendid manner with Burpee Post, was organ-
ized on January 15, 1886 with a membership of about
twenty-five. Its present membership is one hundred and
fifty-three. Mrs. Anna Dickinson is president. It stood
first in the state last year in amount of money given
for relief work.
Alden Skinner Camp, Xo. 45, Sons of Veterans, is
named in honor of Alden Skinner, a surgeon of the
Twenty-fifth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers, who died
March 30, 1863, of malarious typhoid fever, contracted
in the service of his country. It was organized May
7, 1890 with twenty charter members. William F.
Loom is was captain and Frank B. McPherson, first ser-
geant. Its present commander is John Felber and its secre-
tary is H. L. Symonds.
Growing out of the Spanish- American War a camp of Spanish
War Veterans was organized in Rockville on May 17, 1908, by
SUMMARY OF VERNON '.S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 21
Department Commander Henry H. Saunders. The camp is
known as James \Y. Milne Cam]), in honor of Sergeant James
W. Milne, who lost his life as the result of contracting typhoid
fever in that war. It started with twenty-four charter
members and its present membership is thirty-four. The
adjutant's report at last division encampmenl showed
that the camp had made the largesl gain in member-
ship of any of the camps. .Martin Laubscher was the
firsl commander, and Arthur \V. Gyngell is the present com-
Back in the early forties there was a military company in
Roekville. It was commanded by Captain Chauncey Hibbard
and was part of the old state militia. Captain Hibbard being
a natural drillmaster. the company furnished many officers dur-
ing the Civil War and many men who enlisted in that memor-
able conflict received their first training in this company, and
it proved valuable training. The company, which was known
as Company C, subsequent to the war finally disbanded.
On February 25, 1890, a company was organized in Roekville
and was accepted as a part of the state militia, taking the
name of Company C. The late Sheriff Amass I'. Dick-
inson was captain. Frederick H. Linker, first lieutenant and
Martin Laubseher second lieutenant. For several years the com-
pany led the regiment in figures of merit. The present officers
of the company are: Captain. James 11. Lutton; first lieutenant,
Michael J. O'Connell; second lieutenant. Albert E. Scharf.
The Hammond Drum Corps, organized by J. C. Hammond,
Jr., brought fame to Roekville back in the early seventies. It
participated in a great many memorable parades in various
parts of the country. It continued in existence for several years.
finally reorganizing. It has held several notable reunion.-.
Roekville has had several good bands in its history, but is
without a local band at the present time.
YERXOX AXD HER INDUSTRIES.
Snipsic Lake, as a water power, has contributed very largely
to the prosperity of the town of Vernon. Through its outlet
22 SUMMARY OF VERXOX*S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN'
the winding, sinuous Hockanum, it pours down a
grade of two hundred and fifty-six feet to the mile
and a half into the valley below, furnishing one of
the finest and most easily available water powers to be
found in America. The water possesses a superior quality, which
gives it a special value. The supply is practically inexhaustible,
and the descent is so rapid and steady that the power may be
used over and over again, at surprisingly short intervals. To
the genius of "Snip," as it is affectionately known, Rockville is
indebted for its growth and development during the past cen-
tury. The beautiful Hockanum is the magic wand which has
transformed an unfertile, unpromising, and what appeared at one
time to be a worthless tract of land, into a thriving city of
substantial mills, modern streets and beautiful residences. By
its invisible arm, gravitation, Snipsic daily sets in motion nearly
a score of water wheels, and for the space of more than a mile
the Hockanum is literally studded with shops and factories.
"Snip" is the ruling, the motive ]i>ower, men and machinery be-
ing but the agents to do its bidding.
Aside from its importance as a motive power to run ma-
chinery, Snipsic Lake is a very interesting and attractive spot.
Indeed, situated as it is, in the Tolland hills, it is one of Con-
necticut's most beautiful glimpses of forest and water. In its
setting and adornment Nature has been most prodigal of her
charms. Few New England lakes surpass it in beauty, althorigh
in size it is not large, covering five hundred and twenty-five
acres. The original lake was half that. It is five hundred and
fifteen feet above the sea level. Prior to 1847 Snipsic dam was
five feet and ten inches high; in 184? ten feet were added; in
1864, seven feet, in 1872, three feet and eight inches, making
the present dam twenty-six feet and six inches from bottom to
coping. From top of the dam to and including Windermere
privilege, the Hockanum River, fed by Snipsic Lake, has a fall
of three hundred and nine feet.
The company's first main in 1847 was an 8-inch cement pipe,
and the first line of pipe came down to what was then a reser-
voir basin in Central Park. This reservoir basin,
SUMMARY OF YKKXOX's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 23
which was piped, supplied the lower part of the village.
In 1866 a 12-inch cast iron main was laid in place of the 8-inch
main. In 1893 and 1894 a 20-inch east iron main was laid,
which extends as far as the corner of West Main Street and
Vernon Avenue. On Union, Prospect and Brooklyn Streets
LO-inch mains have been laid and on all the other city streets
6-inch mains are in use.
Snipsic furnishes Rockville with its domestic water supply,
which is of great abundance, superior quality, with good gravity
and high pressure service. The business is conducted by the
Rockville "Water and Aqueduct Company, which at the present
time is largely composed of the mill owners of the city. Originally
a stock affair, it was organized in October, 1847, with a
capital of $7,000. The first meeting was held at the
Leeds office on November 11, 1847. George Kellogg was the
first president and Phineas Talcott first secretary and treas-
urer. Tn 1866 the needs of the village demanded better service
than the old company with its limited capital and capacity could
give. Having secured a charter from the legislature at the May
session in the above named year, the company was reorganized
with J. J. Robinson as president and .'. ('. Eammond, Jr., as
secretary and treasurer. A. Park Hammond is the president of
the company at the present time and J. C. Hammond, Jr., the
present secretary and treasurer, has served the company in this
capacity for forty-four consecutive years — a remarkable
record. The company has kept pace with the growth
of the town and at the present time lias one hundred
and fourteen city hydrants, about fifty private hydrants,
and about twenty miles of pip''. Prior to 1894 the
high service was supplied by wells and cisterns. In 1904 the
present pumping station and standpipe were erected.
The office was located in the New England Mill until 1877,
when it was moved to a room in the rear of the Citizens' Block,
where the post office was then located. Since June. 1890, it has
been located on the second floor in the Rockville National Hank
24 SUMMARY OF VERNON S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
Snipsic Lake is conceded to be the best illustration of an
artificial reservoir to be found in Connecticut, if not in the
The most important event in the history of the local water
company was the consolidation that took place between the old
Rock vi lie Water Power Company and the Eockville Aqueduct
Company. On March 1, 1893, a special enactment drawn by the
late A. P. Hyde was obtained from the General Assembly,
merging and consolidating the two companies. A meeting was
held in the Rock Mill office, at which a charter was adopted. All
the mill owners and manufacturers were present, and they
became interested in the new company. Previous to the consoli-
dation, the Eockville Water Power Company had to do largely
with water for power purposes, while the Eockville Aqueduct
Company was interested principally in water for domestic pur-
Vernon's era of industrial pursuits arrived in the early twen-
ties. Their development during the germinating period, how-
ever, was not exempt from adverse influences. "Industries," as
understood in our modern classification were not any too prom-
inent during the early period of the town's history, the period
from the date of the incorporation of the town in 1808 down to
1845. As these have been referred to in the preceding pages
under the head, "Early History," it isn't necessary to again
call attention to them. There is a vast difference between early
and modern industrial life. AVith the growth of the years a
change swept over the community — a change likely to sweep over
any community with a similar environment, surroundings and
The first notable expansion in the industrial life of Vernon
took place in the forties, and it can be truthfully said that the
years 1847, 1848 and 1849, marked a distinct epoch— an epoch
of industrial progress. The mills built during these years
greatly added to the volume of business and enhanced the
material prosperity of the town. The panic of 1857, which was
national, paralyzing industries all over the country, hit Vernon
bard and there was an extended period of business depression.
SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN' 25
There was no marked rally until the breaking out of the Civil
War, when there was an urgent demand for goods for army pur-
poses. The Rockville mills, like mills in other places, had de-
sirable contracts. Those mills that did not care to take army
contracts found a ready market for all the goods they could
manufacture. During the years of the war, and immediately
following the war up to 1865, times were good and optimism
prevailed in the industrial life of the town. While there was a
gradual growth and development, there was no marked period
of expansion akin to the expansion of '49. In the fifties, over-
seers in the Rockville mills earned from -$1.50 to $2.50 per day,
and other mill help was paid in proportion. The salaries paid
to the mill officers were not large. George Kellogg, affection-
ately known as "Uncle George," head of the Hock Mill for many
years, received the very modest salary of $1,000. A. ('. Crosby,
superintendent of the same mill, received what was considered
then a very high salary. $1,500. When Thomas M. Barrows
was engaged to come to Rockville and manage the American
Mills at a salary of $2,500 per year, many of the other mill
owners were actually scandalized. After the close of the war,
a readjustment took place owing to changed financial conditions.
When Lee surrendered at Appomattox, gold was selling at 270,
and the cost of living had greatly increased. While naturally
there was an inflation in wages, it didn't begin to compare with
the increased cost of living. From 1865, up to the present time,
Vernon's industrial life has shown a slow but healthy growth.
Old concerns have passed away, new concerns have come, addi-
tions and enlargements have been going on. There have been
periods of industrial activity and depression. Small industries
have expanded into gigantic corporations with millions of capi-
tal, until today the town of Vernon enjoys an international
reputation as a great woolen center.
At the present time there are twelve manufacturing concerns
in the town of Vernon doing business on a large scale. They are
for the most part corporations chartered by the state. There are,
however, several smaller enterprises conducted by private firms.
Of the twelve companies nine are engaged in the manufacture
26 SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN
of fine woolen and worsted goods. These are the Hockanum.
Springville, New England and Minterburn Mills, the Hock
Manufacturing Company, the American Mills Company, the
James J. Regan Manufacturing Company, Talcott Brothers and
the Roekville Worsted Company.
The goods of many of the companies exhibited at Chicago
in competition with the best English, French and German makers
were unhesitatingly pronounced by expert judges to be equal, if
not superior, to any worsted goods in the manufacturing depart-
ment. Thus as a result of this exhibition, it has been shown
beyond peradventure of doubt that, so far as quality of goods
is concerned, our American manufacturers have nothing to fear
from foreign competition, and it has also been proved that Rock-
ville stands at the very forefront, the products of its woolen
manufacturing plants commanding world-wide attention and
challenging the admiration of expert judges in the woolen in-
To show the great reputation of the goods produced in the
factories of the Hockanum Mills Company, it may be said that
they have made suits to be worn at the inauguration by three
different presidents of the United States, the Springville Com-
pany having made the suit worn by President Harrison, the
Hockanum Company the suit worn by President Mclvinley, and
the Springville Company the suit worn by President Roosevelt.
The cloth of which these different suits was made was sold
thereafter as among the highest price fabrics on the market,
and were named "Inauguration" cloth, "Mclvinley'" cloth and
"Presidential" cloth, respectively.
The cloths were all similar fabrics, being black undressed
worsted made of the very finest counts of yarn used in men's wear
goods. These yarns took many months to produce, as they were
from the very finest selected wool that could be obtained be-
taking the very best lots from an immense quantity of wool. The
goods were London shrunk at the mills and were turned out with
a very soft and beautiful finish.
The mills of this association made the first men's wear goods
that were produced in this country from worsted yarn. The
HOUSE WHERE WOOLEN MANUFACTURING was first started in town of
■tar ■ X
1 ' ■ "»_! •
IN 1804, JOHN WARBURTON utilized
this "lower" privilege as a wool-
EIRST MILL IN VERNON— Built in
1 79 ">-<> by John Warburton on this
I I I ■ '■
4.1 J f l I I B 1
i II II II II II I|
PIONEER WOOLEN FACTORY from
which Rockville derives its name.
Old Rock Woolen Factory erected in
J821 by Colonel Francis McLean.
EIRST WOOLEN MILLS in Rockville.
Twin mills erected by E. Nash on
the old. Hockantim site about 1814.
SUMMARY OF VERNON 's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 27
Hockamim Mill lias undoubted proof of this from testimony of
yarn manufacturers, that their books showed the first sales of
worsted yarn to any men's wear mills were made to the Hock-
Prior to 1841-42 the only goods manufactured by the Xew
England Mill were cotton warps. It was decided to commence
the manufacture of all-wool fancy "Kerseymeres/ 5 and the new-
looms came from the original George Crompton. It was from
Mr. Crompton that Captain Hammond learned designing. The
Xew England Company's looms turned out the first all-wool
"Fancies" made in America.
In 1906 the Hockanum Mills Company was organized as a
holding corporation by the stockholders of the Hockanum.
Springville, Xew England and Minterburn Companies, with a
view to centralizing the business. The capital stock is
$6,000,000. Under the new plan the four mills combined for
the buying of raw material. The selling of the finished product
has also been facilitated by the change.
The officers of the Hockanum Mills Company at the present
President— F. T. Maxwell.
Vice-President — Robert Maxwell.
Secretary and Treasurer — William Maxwell.
General Superintendent — David A. Sykes.
Assistant General Superintendent — Charles S. Bottomley.
Assistant Treasurer and Paymaster — A. Park Hammond.
Purchasing Agent — M. C. Mason.
Assistant Paymaster — George B. Hammond.
Office Managers — Hockanum. J. E. Maynard; Xew England,
George B. Hammond; Minterburn, S. Tracy Noble.
Superintendents — Hockanum. Nelson Little ; Springville.
dames A. Elliott; Xew England. Frank Eastwood; Minterburn,
Frank P. Reiser.
The total yearly output in dollars and cents of the four mills
in the Hockanum Mills Company is $3,500,000, and the total
weekly payroll is $14,000.
28 SUMMARY OF YERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX
A new central office building has just, been completed for the
Hockanum Mills Company just east of the Springville Mill
office. It is a two and one-half story brick building with brown
stone trimmings, 70x50 feet in size.
A new dyehouse has also just been completed. It is a one-
story brick and concrete building with monitor roof, having a
very complete ventilating system, which disposes of steam. It
is 190x75 feet in size.
The Hockanum plant today comprises five mills, the main one
being 375x45 feet, four stories high, built of wood and brick,
with a wing 180x56 feet, four stories, built of concrete reinforc-
ed with steel: finishing mill 250x40 feet, constructed of brick:
dyehouse 75x40 feet, connected to main mill four stories high.
There is also a large brick boiler house and engine house. The
plant uses about 500-horse power.
The mills are equipped with 156 broad looms and 15 sets of
cards and 4,440 spindles. There are also four large tubular
steam boilers of 400-horse power and a steam engine of 350-
horse power. Some twelve electric motors are used doing away
with much belting and shafting. The mills are equipped
throughout with automatic sprinklers and all advanced methods
for protection against fire. Employment is given to 325
THE SPRINGVILLE MANUFACTURING COMPAXY.
The Springville mill, which was established in 1833 by the late
Chauncey Winchelh in 1866, just a third of a century later,
underwent a wonderful expansion. At that time the property
was purchased by the late George Maxwell and the late George
Sykes, Avho soon commenced the removal of the old mill, replacing
it with a much larger one of stone and brick, 300 feet long and
45 feet wide, with two wings, each 100x50 feet, and all four
stories high, equipped with automatic sprinklers and all up-to-
date appliances for tire protection. Other buildings are the
dyehouse. boiler and engine house, and storehouse, all built of
SUMMARY OF VKKXox's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 29
brick and modern and commodious. One hundred horse power
is developed by water and 600 by three Large steam boilers. One
large 200-horse power engine furnishes the steam power. A
75-horse power dynamo and engine furnish the electric lights.
Eight sets of cards and 135 broad looms and 3. .300 spindles
comprise the equipment. Employment is given to 350 operat-
THE NEW ENGLAND COMPANY.
The New England's group of buildings on Vernon Avenue
include a large frame and brick structure, also dyehouse and
boiler house, constituting an important factor in Rockville's
industrial life. The finished product amounts t<> nearly 350,000
The plant will compare favorably with the other plants in
the Hockanum Mills Company. Its equipment is first class in
every respect, there being 9 sets of cards at the present time.
114 broad looms and 600 spindles. The mill is equipped with
dynamos for providing their own light. Power is furnished by
steam engines of 225-horse power. Employment is provided for
The old wooden water wheel, which has been in use at the
New England mill since 1860, was used for the last time on
Thursday, August 20, 1909. Work commenced on the follow-
ing day on the tearing out of the old wheel. While the new
turbine water wheel was being placed in position, the plant was
run wholly by steam power. The completion of the new turbine
wheel is a decided improvement, the mill now being run by
electric drive, the water power being utilized to run a generator
providing electricity for power.
The old mill wheel, which provided 120-horse power, was 24
feet in diameter and 16 feet wide. It was the largest water
wheel in the city.
THE MINTEPBUEN MILLS COMPANY.
This is the youngest of the four companies comprising the
Hockanum Mills Company. It occupies the old site of the Rock-
30 SUMMARY OF YE RNON's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN"
ville Warp Mills Company, being the first plant on the Hockan-
um Kiver. It was incorporated in 1906, and after tearing down
the old and dilapidated buildings on the site, work was com-
menced on the erection of a handsome, modern concrete con-
struction building, which is likely to stand for a generation.
It is the largest mill in the city and one of the finest in New
England of concrete construction.
The main building is 300 feet long by 06 feet wide, five stories
high. It is equipped with the latest approved automatic sprinkl-
ers and an improved steam plant of 250-horse power has been
installed in a boiler and engine house in the rear of the main
building. A chimney of concrete construction 165 feet high,
in connection with the mill, is one of the sights in the east end
of Eockville. Xo better lighted or ventilated mill, manufactur-
ing woolen and worsted goods can be found in the country.
Opposite the main mill is the warehouse, constructed of brick,
100x45 feet, and an office building containing counting room,
large vault, private office and directors' room, lighted by elec-
The machinery is the very best money can buy. The mill is
equipped with 68 broad looms and there are 4,080 spindles.
Employment is given to 225 hands.
THE ROCK MANUFACTURING COMPANY.
The plant of the Bock Manufacturing Company comprises
twelve buildings at the present time. The main mill, which is
300 feet long and five and one-half stories high, attracts the at-
tention of all visitors to the city. The equipment is modern
throughout, including one of the finest and most up-to-date
finishing departments in the country. The plant is equipped
with 11 sets of carding machines, 36 spinning mules,
102 broad looms and 10,000 spindles. The company has a valu-
able \v;iler power, having two wheels of 125-horse power each,
and also a steam engine of 150-horse power.
The Rock embraces what was formerly the Leeds Mill and
lias a large group of buildings on West Main Street. Employ-
ment is given to 300 operatives. The yearly output of finished
SUMMARY OF YERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 31
goods amounts to $1,250,000. Some idea of the magnitude of
the business may he gained from the fact that the company
annually pays to the New York, Xew Haven and Hartford
Railroad Company about $12,000 in freight charges.
The Rock Manufacturing Company's product, fine coatings,
thibets, coverts and uniform cloths, are known far and wide for
their tine texture, splendid quality and general excellence.
The Rock Manufacturing Company made the cloth worn by
President Benjamin Harrison and Vice-President Levi P.
Morton at the centennial celebration of the inauguration of
Georg Washington as president of the United States in Xew
York City, April 30, 1889.
The cloth is what is known as a "Clay Twill." It was made
from a very fine grade of worsted yarn. There were six thou-
sand seven hundred ends and one hundred and twelve picks of
filling to the inch, the dye being alozarine.
Frederick Swindells, a thoroughly practical man in the woolen
business, familiar with every detail of manufacture, has been
with the company since 1891, first as superintendent and then
as agent. He has been president of the company since 1905.
Arthur T. Bissell is the secretary and treasurer and Frederick
W. Swindells, son of the president, is the superintendent of the
Two buildings, 180x44, one story high, of regular mill con-
struction, were completed in July, 1909. These are used for
A two-story regular mill construction building, 80x30 feet in
size, fire proof, was completed in December, 1909. This is being
used for a storehouse.
THE AMERICAN MILLS COMPANY.
Just east of the business center of the city is the main build-
ing of the American Mills Company, one of Eockville's indus-
trial landmarks. It is one of the largest buildings used for
manufacturing in the city, and is likewise one of the old and
substantial concerns, making woolen and worsted goods in Rock-
32 SUMMARY OF VERNON 's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
The plant, which is an extensive one. turns out an enormous
quantity of finished product. It is equipped with the very latest
machinery and keeps abreast of the times in every respect. The
mill has 86 broad looms, 3 narrow looms. Vt sets of cards, 5,000
spindles. Its employees number 225.
The goods manufactured by the American Mills Company have
figured prominently in bringing fame to Rockville as the home
of fine woolens and worsteds. Their superior quality has been
tested time and time again and found to be of the very highest
standard. In addition to its regular line of fine fancy worsteds
for men's wear, the American Mills Company manufactures
standard and fancy carriage cloths of most novel effects in fancy
weaves and beautiful colorings in whip cords. Bedford cords,
wide and narrow wales and diagonals.
The officers of the company are : President. George Talcott ;
agent and treasurer. Charles X. McLean; superintendent,
Edward F. Badmington.
Talcott Brothers was organized in 1856 by II. W. & C. D. Tal-
cott. The property was purchased of X. 0. Kellogg, and con-
sisted of two mills, located respectively on an upper and lower
privilege. The upper mill was dismantled by the freshet of 1869,
and the lower mill was burned in the same year. Thereupon
the two privileges were consolidated, and the present mill erect-
ed. The product was principally satinets up to 1875 when a
change was made to union cassimeres. In 1907 a grade of fine
woolens was added to the line. In 1882, H. G. Talcott became
genera] manager, and M. H. Talcott became associate manager.
John <i. Talcott entered the firm in 1895, and C. Denison Tal-
cott in 1903.
THE JAMES J. REGAN MANUFACTURING COMPANY.
The James J. Regan Manufacturing Company, which is one
of the town's most important industries, has undergone a
marvelous growth since it was organized. Today the concern is
recognized as one of the largest in the Inked States in the
SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX 33
manufacture of knit goods for linings. It also occupies an
enviable position among the woolen good- manufacturers of the
The equipment of the two mills, which comprise the plant of
the James J. Regan Manufacturing Company, is thoroughly
modern, and the product is well known for its high standard of
quality and uniformity. The company's policy has been to
produce the best in its line. Of late years the business has
increased one hundred per cent.
The company operates 50 looms and 10,000. spindles, and its
yearly output of cloth is 400,000 yards (woven) and 1,500,000
yards (knit). The company has 350 employees.
The officers of the James J. Began Manufacturing "Company
are: President and treasurer, Francis J. Regan; vice-president
and assistant treasurer, Herbert J. Regan. George C. Rice has
been with the company for a number of years as bead book-
keeper and is a trustworthy and valuable employee.
THE ROCKVILLE WORSTED COMPANY.
This is Rockville's youngest industry. It is only about a year
old. On September 6, 1909, Edmund Corcoran of Philadelphia,
a practical woolen manufacturer of many years experience, pur-
chased of A. X. Belding the brick mill on East Main Street,
known as the Fitch Mill, which previous to its purchase by Mr.
Belding had been part of the James J. Regan Manufacturing
Company's plant. In December, 1909. the incorporators of the
company organized by elected the following officers: President,
Frank E. Weedon; vice-president, Thomas M. Corcoran; secre-
tary. Parley B. Leonard: treasurer. Edmund Corcoran; assistant
treasurer, Thomas Corcoran, Jr.
Sim-e purchasing the so-called Fitch Mill. Mr. Corcoran has
made numerous changes and what repairs were necessary. The
null was equipped with modern machinery. Already there are 5'-?
Knowles looms in operation and 100 hands are employed. It is
the company's intention to eventually have 90 looms, 30 on each
door. Within a year or two the company will probably employ
34 SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX
several hundred hands, making a valuable addition to the city's
The Rockville Worsted Company produces high grade worsted
goods for men's wear.
BELDING BROS. & CO.
The parent mill of Belding Bros. & Co., which is located in
this city, was started in 1866, and it has been enlarged and im-
proved from time to time, until today, it bears little likeness to
its former self.
On March 30, 1909, Belding Bros. & Co., purchased of the
James J. Regan Manufacturing Company the Stone mill, for-
merly known as the White Mill, and Mill No. 4, formerly known
as the Fitch Mill. The latter was sold to Edmond Corcoran of
Philadelphia and has been converted into a modern worsted mill.
The former mill has been thoroughly overhauled and has been
added to the extensive plant of Belding Bros. & Co., in this city.
New floors have been put in throughout. All the water has been
put onto one water wheel, two new 250-horse power boilers have
been installed and a new 350-horse power engine to be used in
the event of trouble with the water, or if the water should be low.
The entire plant is to be driven by electric power, about 30
individual motors being used. About 10,000 spindles are in
operation in the local plant of Belding Bros. & Co. and employ-
ment is given to 400 hands.
In addition to its mill in this city, Belding Bros. & Co. have
four other mills in Belding, Mich., one in Petaluna,
Cal., one in Northampton and one in Montreal. A large addi-
tion is being built to the Northampton mill at the present time.
The plant is the leading one in size in the silk manufacturing
world, but it is not excelled by any other plant in quality of
goods turned out. About $8,000,000 business is done annually
by the combined mills of this concern.
The officers of the concern are: President, M. M. Belding, jr.:
treasurer, M. M. Belding; secretary, A. N. Belding; assistant
treasurer, E. C. Young, Chicago; assistant secretary, E. F.
Crooks, Northampton. Mass. Halsey L. Allen is superintendent
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 35
of the local mill, having filled the position for thirty-eight
WHITE, CORBIX & CO.
White, Corbin & Co., now one of the divisions of the United
States Envelope Company, was established by the late Cyrus
White and the late Lewis A. Corbin, pioneer envelope makers of
the country. They commenced in 1855 in a small way, manufac-
turing envelopes in a frame building 83x39 feet, which they
erected. The Puffer machine, capable of turning out 10,000
envelopes a day, which was considered a wonderful output, was
used. The business in those days amounted to about $8,000 per
annum. Today a business of $600,000 yearly is done and the
machines produce 2,000,000 envelopes per day.
The late William H. Prescott, whose services as bookkeeper
and accountant had made him indispensable to the firm, was
admitted to partnership in 1866, the firm's name becoming
White, Corbin & Co. Under the skillful guidance of Mr. Pres-
cott, following the retirement of Mr. White in 1870, the business
enjoyed a period of wonderful expansion, until in 1881 it had
assumed such proportions that it was imperative that the com-
pany should have more room. The Florence Mill, at that time
one of the largest and finest plants in Eockville, was purchased,
and later enlarged by additions to accommodate the increasing
In 1900 White, Corbin £ Co. became one of the divisions
of the United States Envelope Company, the late W. H. Prescott,
who had been actively identified with the local company and who
had a genius for doing business that made him a recognized
leader in the industrial world, became a director in 1898 and at
the time of his death in 1908 he was a member of the executive
committee of the United States Envelope Company.
Frank Keeney is the present agent of the White, Corbin & Co.
plant and E. H. Woodford is the superintendent. The plant
gives employment to 200 operatives.
36 SUMMARY OF YERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN
E. J. MARTIN'S SONS.
This important industry, which makes the famous Kingfisher
brand of silk fish-lines, was started by the late Elisha J. Martin
in 1882, who first made braided eye-glass cords. He braided
some fish-lines for his friends and they gave such satisfaction
that he started their manufacture, renting room and power
from Belding Bros & Co. The business developed so
rapidly that it was necessary to get more room, and in 189G a
factory was erected. As the business grew and prospered the
plant was enlarged. The factory is 200x30 feet, two stories and
a basement, being the most modern and best equipped fish-line
factory in this country. Power is furnished from a 100 -horse
power steam boiler and a 20-horse power steam engine. Six
hundred power operated braiding machines are kept in constant
operation. The company has 25 employees.
The E. J. Martin's Sons' specialties are raw and finished
silk lines, variegated waterproof lines, mottled P. & S. lines, oiled
silk lines, Potomac bass lines, extra quality trout lines, Italian
trout and bass lines, bait casting lines, slickest casting lines,
Italian casting lines, extra strength waterproof lines, enameled
oil silk fly lines, russet enamel lines, mist color enamel lines,
highest quality enamel lines.
A. L. Martin, son of the founder, has conducted the business
since his father's death in 1899, and under his able management
it has more than doubled its production, till today it is the leader
in silk fish-lines in this country.
THE ACKEELY MILLS.
The Ackerly plant at Vernon, formerly the Ravine and
Phoenix Mills, gives employment to about 50 operatives. Since
purchasing the plant less than two years ago, Mr. Ackerly has
made several improvements. Twine and cheese-cloth are manu-
factured. A large and successful business has been built up.
VERNON WOOLEN COMPANY.
The plant of the Vernon Woolen Company was totally de-
stroyed by lire on Tuesday morning, October 12, 1909, making
serious inroads on the prosperity in the lower part of the town.
The site and privilege are for sale, the owners having decided not
SUMMARY OF VERNON S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN Si
THE VERNON CREAMERY COMPANY.
The Vernon Creamery Company, butter manufacturers, was
incorporated in 1888 with a capital of $3,500. Its product is
known all over the country, the company having been awarded
numerous gold and silver medals, including first premium at the
Paris Exposition. The president of the company is Alfred 0.
Thrall and the superintendent is Arthur W. Annis. The plant
is located at 171 High Street, corner of Vernon Avenue.
THE GRANITE PAPER MILLS.
The Granite Paper Mills, located at Talcottville, manufacture
binder boards, album boards and leather boards. The mill is a
one-machine one, capable of turning out four tons in twenty-
four hours. Included in the property are two double tenement
houses and one single tenement. E. J). Alvord and J. L. Brown
are the owners.
In addition to the above named industrial enterprises, there
are several smaller industrial enterprises in the town, conducted
by private individuals, among them being a lace factory on
Vernon Avenue, owned and operated by John U. Heller and
ROCKVILLE GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY.
The Rockville Gas and Electric Company had its beginning in
1862 as the Rockville Gas Light Company. In 1890, when the
electric department was added, the name was changed to The
Rockville and Ellington Street Railway Company, and in 1897,
by a legislative act the present name was adopted. The late
George Maxwell was the founder. Under the present company.
the plant has been enlarged and a great many improvements have
been made. A. M. Young of New York is president of the
company and M. J. Warner of that city secretary and treasurer.
AVilliam M. Lewis is the general manager.
The company has in use 4,?00 incandescent lamps. 80 are
lamps and 30 incandescents in street lighting.
38 SUMMARY OF YERNOX's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
TEANSPOETATION AND POSTAL FACILITIES.
The transformation that has taken place in the methods of
transportation in the town of Vernon since its incorporation is
certainly marvelous. The good old days — the days of the tav-
ern and stage coach — have gone, and with them, much of the
spirit of neighhorliness and human interest. The fascination
that characterized early day traveling has largely disappeared
with the advent of steam and electric power. The whirligig of
time is moving onward and it will be hardly a greater change for
the next generation to travel by aeroplane.
The late Harvey King, who owned and occupied a portion of
what is now the St. Bernard Terrace property, was the pro-
prietor of the stage route between Eockville and Vernon Depot,
and George Brown, here in our midst today, hale and hearty, a
venerable old gentleman, beloved by the entire community, was
wont to pull the ribbons over the four large horses that drew
the stage. Mr. King kept from twenty to thirty horses for his
different stage routes. One of these routes extended from Eock-
ville to "Warehouse Point, which Avas the nearest railroad center.
The late Thomas Blake, one of Bockville's famous old fire fight-
ers, who had the proud distinction of running Hartford's first
fire propeller, was driver of this line. Among other stages was
one from Eockville to Hartford, also a line from Norwich to
Springfield through Eockville and one from Eockville to Tol-
land. It took from two and a half to three hours to drive into
Hartford. The trip in and out was made in the same day.
Usually the stage left about 8 :30 o'clock in the morning and
got into Hartford before noon. The start from Hartford on
the return trip was made about four o'clock in the afternoon.
Practically all the mails were carried by the stage coach. There
were two large barns connected with the hotel, where from
forty to fifty horses were kept. The stages which were high
class affairs, costing a good bit of money, would carry from
thirty-five to forty passengers, with baggage. From four to
six horses were used and the driver would swing them around
in front of the Eockville House with all of the dignity of a
fARBURTON [NN— Built and occu-
pied by John Warburton in 1800.
This photograph was taken in L867.
OLD TAVERN AT DOBSONVILLE,
where "Bije" Evans, one of the town
characters in early days, fiddled for
'IRST FIRE FIOHTERS IN CONNECTICUT— "Old Fire Kins," with which
is related most of the narratives of heroism in Vernon and Rockville.
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 39
railroad president, while the horn which be carried would an-
nounce his arrival. It was nothing short of criminal for the
mails to be late, and it was therefore up to the stage coach driver
to see that there were no delays. The daily paper, along with
the letters, came by stage route, and as far back as the early
thirties the Hartford Courant, which was an especially good
paper for those times, was a welcome visitor and one of the
daily pleasures was waiting for the stage coach to arrive with
the mail. News did not travel as fast in the early days as it
does now, and there was an eagerness and expectancy to get a
newspaper to see what was going on in the world. From 1849,
when the Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Eailroad was opened,
the stages ran from Eockville to Vernon instead of from Rock-
ville to Hartford, and in 1863, when the Eockville Eailroad was
built the stage coach was no more. Its days of usefulness were
about over and it became an affectionate reminder of an age
that had its compensations as well as its drawbacks.
Among some of the famous taverns of the early days around
which are associated many facts of great historic interest, may be
mentioned King's Stage House, now the town almshouse, "Waffle
Tavern, which for many years was owned and occupied by
Lorenzo E. Sparrow on South Street and the Sullivan house at
Dobsonville. The old hotel, the first public house in Eockville,
built in 1843 by William T. Cogswell on the site of the present
Eockville House, was a lively place during the stage coach days.
It was headquarters for many of the stages. The first landlord
was Asaph McKinney, who kept it for three and one-half years,
when he was succeeded by Francis Keeney, father of Mrs. W. H.
Prescott. Both landlords were popular with the public during
the later period of the stage coach days. Among the old stage
coach drivers may be mentioned the following: "Joe v Phelps,
father of Lester D. Phelps, Dwight Cabot. Frank Johnson, Lin-
coln Childs, John Talcott, and Harvey Perrin. Among the stage
drivers of a later generation were Harvey King, Thomas Bl°ke
and George M. Brown, the only one of the stage coach drivers
40 SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN
Eockville was without a railroad of any kind until in the
sixties. The four and one-half mile coach and teaming space to
Vernon Depot began to seem long, and so enterprising citizens
decided to get a move on, to use the vulgar parlance of the pres-
ent day, and preparations were commenced to find a way "out of.
the woods." To William B, Orcutt, the people of Vernon are
indebted for bringing civilization a little nearer to Eockville and
Eockville a little nearer to civilization. He was the energetic
promoter of the road, which became known as the Eockville
Railroad, and did more than any other one man to get it started.
It was built by a chartered company and the stock was all own-
ed in Eockville. While the charter for the road was procured
from the legislature in 1857, it was some five years later when
the company was organized, with the following directors : Phineas
Talcott, Allen Hammond, George Kellogg, E. B. Preston, and
William E. Orcutt. Phineas Talcott was president and E. P>.
Preston, clerk and treasurer. The late William E. Orcutt <vas
the road's first superintendent. The road was opened for travel
August 11, 1863, right in the midst of the Civil War. The first
conductor was Amos H. Putnam and a Mr. Golden was the first
engineer. George M. Brown was the first baggagem aster. For
seventeen years he was in the employ of the Adams
Express Company, carrying the mail to and from
the post office until the New York and New England
Eailroad Company took the road over. John Shanley
was the first brakeman and "Sam" Eaton the first fire-
man. In these days the little ticket office was about two thirds
its present size. It was used as a freight office, and in April,
1864, Edward E. Pillsbury entered the freight office and -at-
tended to the books, selling tickets part of the time. He served
the company with marked fidelity for a period of seventeen
years. Betiring from the railroad company, he took up the
transformation of that part of the city known as Pillsbury Hill.
On the first Monday in October, 1869, while the town o h '
Vernon was voting money out of the town treasury for town
expenses a big washout occurred doing hundreds of thousands
of dollars worth of damage to property belonging to the town
and individuals and ruining the Eockville Eailroad. As the
SUMMARY OF YERNOXS HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN" 41
company had no money and as the Hartford, Providence and
Fishkill Eoad made a very tempting proposition, it was thought
best to accept it and the Eockville Railroad was leased to the
above company and run by them for about fifteen years. After-
ward it was leased by the New York and New England Company,
which paid a rental of about $4,500. For several years it was
operated by the "Consolidated," the company simply paying a
nominal rent for it. In 1875 the Connecticut Central Road was
built from East Hartford to Springfield, and there was a branch
from Eockville to Melrose, known as the Melrose Branch, which
made connections with the Connecticut Central. Eventually all
these roads passed into the hands of the Xew York, Xew Haven
and Hartford Railroad Company.
People living here today can recall the little "Betsy" and
"Schenipsit" locomotives, nicknamed teakettles, so small, (hat it
has been said that if they jumped the track, the passengers would
gel out and assist in putting them back on again.
A whole chapter could easily be devoted to the various men
in the employ of the Eockville Railroad Company nearly fifty
years ago, but limited space forbids but a passing reference to a
few. Amos H. Putnam succeeded W. R. Orcutt as superintendent
of the road. Henry Vanness must not be forgotten. He is a real
old-timer, whose railroad career dates back into the teaming
time, when the late "Father" Corey ran a teaming line into
Hartford. Mr. Yanness commenced work for the railroad com-
pany September 1, 1864, in the freight department. He served
in this department about three years and was then given the po-
sition of baggage master and brakeman. At that time the
company sent a combination car through to Hartford to save
the transfer of passengers and baggage at Yernon. He was in
charge of this car for about nine years. He also acted as brake-
man and switchman in the yard at Eockville. A. H. Putnam,
who was superintendent of the branch, also conducted the trains.
Owing to poor health Mr. Putnam did not feel able to protect
the last runs so he permitted Mr. Yanness to do it for him. The
last run in at that time was about eleven o'clock at
night. In August, 1879, Mr. Yanness commenced
42 SUMMARY OF VERNON^S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN"
running the train regularly, making about twenty-eight
years he served as conductor. On January 1, 1880
he received from his Eockville friends and others along
the line between Eockville and Hartford, a solid gold badge,
representing a lantern and containing a single diamond to repre-
sent the light. It bore the complimentary inscription "Semper
Paratus." The late "Father" Corey did teaming for the mills
in the early days of the town, Henry was in his employ. He
was the only driver he had that he didn't worry about when
he didn't get back on time. He knew Henry was doing his best
at all times. In his long acquaintance with him he said often
to friends that he never knew Henry to swear, tell a lie, drink
or forget an errand. When the road was leased to the New
England it was necessary for Henry Vanness to get a certificate
of character, so to speak, and the best recommendation his towns-
men could give him was the one given by "Father" Corey, his
former employer, and it was accordingly embodied in a letter
sent in by one of the officials of the Eockville Eailroad.
On May 24, 1907 the railroad company retired Mr. Vanness
on a liberal life pension in recognition of his faithful and effi-
cient service, he having been connected with the company in
various capacities for a period of nearly forty-three years. So
far as known, he was the only colored railroad conductor in the
country. Mr. Vanness is living in our midst enjoying the respect
and esteem of all.
Although there was a branch railroad from Eockville to Ver-
non, connecting with trains going west to Hartford and points
beyond, and going east to Willimantic and points beyond, the
facilities for getting in and out of Eockville were very meager
until within the past decade. The town of Vernon and city of
Eockville had no trolley until 1898. On Saturday, January 8, of
that year Eockville became connected with the outside world by
trolley. On that day the first car was run by the Hartford,
Manchester and Eockville Tramway Company. It was a memor-
able and never to be forgotten day in the town's history, and
marked a new epoch in transportation. Owing to many obstacles
that had to be overcome the trolley was a long time coming, and
BUILT IN 1S09 — Homestead of Ozias Grant (.11 the site of original lot;
cabin built by Samuel Grant, which was the first house in Rockville.
UILT PRIOR TO REVOLUTION—
First hotel in Vernon, called
"Waffle" Tavern because of famous
waffles that were cooked there.
OLD KING STAGE HOUSE where
Marquis Lafayette stopped on his
visit to the United States .
In the Railroad Service for Nearly Forty-three Years. Retired May 24,
1907, on Liberal Life Pension. (Courtesy of Rockville Journal),
SUMMARY OF VERNON S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 43
when it actually arrived there was genuine rejoicing and the
patronage from the outset was large. In January, 1906 the New
York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company assumed
control, having purchased the road from the Shaw Syndicate.
The road today is operated under the name of the Connecticut
The opening of the trolley road from Warehouse Point to
Eockville forms an interesting chapter in the transportation his-
tory of the town of Vernon and was an event of much importance
to Ellington people, whose transportation facilities for reaching
Eockville up to this time were very meager. The first car over
the road reached Eockville about one o'clock in the
afternoon on May 18, 1906. The road was opened
to regular traffic on Sunday, May 20. The week
beginning May 21 marked a notable celebration in which
Eockville business men rejoiced. During the day the city was
gaily decorated and at night the illuminations were brilliant, all
in honor of the opening of the road. There were free band
concerts and free vaudeville day and evening for an entire week,
with big crowds of people on the streets. The week ended with
a firemen's parade and muster.
Wednesday, December 4, 1907 the first interurban car arrived
in Eockville. It reached the city at 3 :42 o'clock, coming from
East Hartford. The trip out was uneventful. It was not until
Sunday, January 13, 1908 that the interurban service was for-
mally opened to the public. The first interurban car to leave
the Eockville depot, over the electrified steam tracks, was No.
3339, which pulled out at seven o'clock in the
morning in charge of Conductor P. T. Beaucar
and Motorman Edward M. Thrall. Conductor Whetstone
of the Highland Division acted as pilot. George Cleve-
land, of Dobsonville, who boarded the car at Eockville, had the
honor of being the first passenger. He rode as far as Vernon.
Miss Imogene Corbin, now Mrs. John P. Cameron, was the first
woman passenger. To many of the older residents, who had been
in the habit of hearing the locomotive whistle for nearly half
a century, the doing away of the steam trains, so far as Eockville
is concerned, was, indeed, a novelty.
44 SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
The new trolley line between Eockville and Stafford Springs
was officially inspected by the railroad commissioners of the
state on Friday, April 17, 1908. Four days previous to this, a
car containing trolley officials went over the road. It was in
charge of Conductor S. J. Connors and Motorman "Dick"
Thrall. People decorated their houses all along the route, and
there was general rejoicing. Through the courtesy of Manager
W. P. Bristol, of the Hartford Division of the Connecticut Com-
pany, a party of Eockville business men and newspaper represen-
tatives went over the road on Saturday afternoon, April 18, fol-
lowing a tour of inspection of the line within the city limits on
the preceding day, by Alderman David Horgan, chairman of the
Public Works Committee, and City Engineer John T. McKnight.
On Monday, April 20, the road was formally opened to regular
traffic, and Stafford Springs recognized the event, which meant
much to them, bringing them into closer touch with Rockville
and the outside world, by a notable celebration, in which Rockville
shared with Stafford in the rejoicing and merrymaking.
The first post office in Rockville was started during the ad-
ministration of President -John Tyler. Previous to that time the
community had no name. It was made up by counting the mills
and houses belonging to each corporation. There were several
small localities known by different names, to wit : Rock, New
England and Stone Mills, Paper Mill, Leeds Mill. Grist Mill.
Frank Factory, Springville, Hockanum and Saxony Mills.
People coming into the city from the outside would say, "I am
going to the Rock." To this day that name is used by many
of the earlier settlers and older inhabitants. Naturally there
was some strife before a name was selected. Each of the cluster-
ing villages around the several mills desired to have its own name
adopted. There was a strong desire on the part of many influ-
ential people to have the place named Frankfort, in honor of
Colonel Francis McLean. It was nip and tuck between the
Rock and Frank villages, but the question was put to a vote and
"nip" won out and the place was named Rockville, after the Rock
Factory, the pioneer factory of the place. Samuel P. Rose, who
was the first postmaster, received his appointment May 5, 1842.
SUMMARY OF VERXOX'.S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 45
Previous to this, for a year or two at least, the mail had been
brought from Vernon and distributed by him. The first post
office was located in a store, which stood nearly opposite the
Johnson Building on what is now ( 'entral Park. George Talcott,
now president of the First National Bank, was clerk for awhile.
In 1844 the Moore Building was erected, which stood next to
the present Methodist Church on the Memorial Site, and for
sometime previous to its being pulled down was occupied by
Carroll and McDonnell. This building was occupied by Samuel
P. Rose and Edwin McLean, and it is presumed that the office
was kept here for a brief period,
Mr. Rose's appointment did not expire until June 4, 1845.
The old building vacated by Mr. Rose was in 1845 fitted up for
tenements and moved to the site of the present high school, being
the old corner building, which was pulled down. The second
post office was opened in the house owned and occupied now by
Miss Minerva Stewart on East Main Street. Her father, who
was a Democrat, a rarity in those days, was the second post-
master. During the incumbency of Postmaster Stewart there
were only about half a dozen stores in the village. There was
no railroad. Goods were brought from Hartford, the nearest
station, by teams. The population of the village was less than
1,500. It had a hotel, but no saloon, steam cars were not within
The Rockville post office became a presidential one on March
The postmasters of Rockville with the location of the post
offices, from the time the office was first established up to the
present time, follow: —
Samuel P. Rose, 1842-'45, Johnson Building, Central Park
and Moore Building on present Memorial Building Site : James-
Stewart, 1845-'49, in ell of house at 147 West Main Street, still
standing; Edward McLean. 1849-'53, Moore Building, next to
present Methodist Church; Edward P. Allen, 1853-'57, in small
building on what is now the site of the James J. Regan Manu-
facturing Company and also in basement of Rockville Hotel for
a short time; William 11. Cogswell 185T-'61. in drug store of old
46 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
Cogswell Building, the site of which is next north of Preston's
furniture store; A. W. Tracy, 1861-^65, in what is now Eockville
Hotel barn, which stood on site of present People's Savings Bank
on Park Street. For sixteen years the post office was located in
this building, being moved to the Citizens' Block in 1879. Since
1903 it has been located in the Prescott Block. There is a resolu-
tion now before congress calling for an appropriation of $75,000
for a new Federal building for Eockville. Favorable action is ex-
pected and it's a question of only a short time when Eockville
will have its post office in a new building owned by the govern-
George N. Brigham was postmaster from 1866 to 1886, having
served longer than any postmaster in the history of the office.
When he retired he was given a testimonial by the citizens of
the city. He was succeeded by Wilbur B. Foster, who served
from 1886 until 1890, when George W. Eandall was appointed,
holding the office from 1890 until 1894, when Mr. Foster again
took hold, owing to a political change in the administration.
Postmaster Eandall has beeen in charge from 1899 to the pres-
ent time. E. L. McChristie is the present assistant postmaster.
The business done at the post office today amounts to about
$17,000 per annum. There are three clerks and five carriers,
and four rural free delivery routes.
FINANCIAL LIFE AND INSTITUTIONS.
The financial history of the town of Vernon properly begins
with the year 1855. No pressing or urgent need of financial in-
stitutions was felt previous to that time. Money was about as
scarce a commodity as there was in the community. It didn't
begin to change hands as often as it does today. Generally
speaking, people carried what money they had in their pockets
or in improvised banks. Safe deposit vaults for valuable papers
and documents were a luxury. The woolen mills comprised the
principal business of Vernon and yearly settlements were the
rule with them. Goods, oftener than money, represented the
basis of settlement for services rendered, and as nearly all the
owners of the woolen mills were interested in the few stores
there were in the community, Vernon was what might be called
SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN 47
a close corporation in its early days. Her captains of industry
were also her financiers. Of course if the mill employees wanted
money instead of its equivalent before the year was up, they
went to the mill office after it, and they seldom came away
disappointed. The absence of a system of regular payments did
not put the town to any great inconvenience, nor was the
paucity, or entire lack of local financial institutions, any serious
drawback. What little banking business the town of Vernon did
in the early days was done with the Tolland County Bank,
which was a substantial and influential financial institution,
with an extensive business and clients in all parts of
The above-described conditions in the town of Vernon con-
tinued in existence until about 1848-49, when new and larger
mills were built, at which time the monthly payment system
was adopted, continuing in operation until 1887, when a week-
ly payment law enacted by the state, went into effect. The
Bock Mill took the initiative in establishing monthly payments
and all the other mills followed suit.
Frenzied finance has always been tabooed in Rockville. Rock-
ville's financial institutions, from the time of their establishment
up to the present moment, have been as strong and as sound
as the hills upon which the city is built. Conservatism has
characterized the management of the local banks. Starting in a
small way, the four banks, two savings banks and two national
banks, which Rockville boasts of at the present time, have kept
pace with the city's development and progress. No effort has
been made to push them. Their growth has been entirely natural.
For a place its size, Vernon occupies an enviable position in
the financial world. The men connected with the management
of her financial institutions have reason to be proud of the
present financial status of these institutions. They have done
their share to make them what they are today.
THE SAVINGS BANK OF ROCKVILLE.
The Savings Bank of Rockville was incorporated in the year
1S58, a charter having been obtained at the May session of the
48 SUMMARY OF VERNON S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
legislature. The bank opened its doors for business on the first
day of September in the year in which it was incorporated. Its
first banking house was in the frame building on West Main
Street, known formerly as King's store, now owned by 'the James
J. Regan Manufacturing Company. In December, 1872, it was
moved to its present quarters on Main Street beneath the large
Methodist Church and facing Central Park. George Kellogg
was the bank's first president and Lebbeus Bissell, father of Ar-
thur T. Bissell, the first secretary and treasurer. He served
forty-five consecutive years — a record unequaled — death ending
his official career with the bank in October, 1903, at the ripe old
age of ninety-three years.
During the first year of the bank's business the deposits
amounted to $65,384, and there were 528 depositors. At the
present time the bank's assets are $3,080,681 and the depositors
number 5,734 with total deposits of $2,812,716.38. From the time
it started to do business fifty-two years ago, up to the present
time, the bank has issued 28,884 pass books.
The present officers of the bank are: President, William
Maxwell ; vice-president, George Talcott ; secretary and treasurer,
Arthur T. Bissell; assistant treasurer, Edwin G. Butler.
PEOPLE'S SAVINGS BANK.
The People's Savings Bank was started in the year 1870. It
opened its doors for business in July of that year. It was located
in what is now Preston's furniture store which at that time
stood on Park Place, where the store of the E. J. Silcox Company
is now located. In 1880, soon after the completion of the pres-
ent modern block, known as the Henry Building, it was moved
to its present location. John W. Thayer, who became prominent
in the business and political life of Vernon, was the bank's first
president and E. S. Henry was the bank's first treasurer. He
has served the bank in this capacity for a period of forty con-
Another unique distinction has come to the bank. It has a
woman secretary and director, Miss Susie Harrington, who has
filled the position in a most efficient manner for twenty years.
SUMMARY OF VERNON 's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 49
During the first year of the bank's existence the deposits
amounted to $100,000, and there were about 300 depositors. At
the present time the bank's assets are $902,916.65, and there are
2,353 depositors. From the organization of the bank down to
the present time, over 7,000 pass books have been issued.
The present officers of the bank are : President, Edward H.
Preston; vice-president, John E. Fisk : treasurer, E. Stevens
Henry; secretary. Miss Susie Harrington.
THE EOCKYILLE NATIONAL BANK.
The Eockville National Bank is over half a century old. having
been organized as a state bank in 1855. Its first officers were:
President, Allen Hammond; secretary, John X. Stickney;
treasurer, Elliott B. Preston. Its capital at the start of busi-
ness was $300,000. In 1864 it was organized as a national bank.
The capital at the present time is $200,000 and the average
deposits are $325,000. Previous to 1890 the bank occupied a
small one-story brick building, which stood on the same site as
its present building. During the fire of April 3, 1888, which
destroyed the Second Church, the south side of this building was
badly damaged and it was torn down to make room for the pres-
ent modern banking house.
The officers of the Eockville National Bank at the present
time are: President, A. Park Hammond: vice-president, Frank
Grant; cashier, Clayton E. Harwood, who has been with the bank
in this capacity for twenty years; assistant cashier, Fred H.
THE FIEST NATIONAL BANK.
The First National Bank of Eockville was chartered February
24, 1863, with J. J. Eobinson as president. He served but a
few months, being succeeded by Clark Holt. Jotham Goodnow.
who afterwards became president of the Aetna Fire Insurance
company of Hartford, was the bank's first cashier. Its first
banking house was located in the brick building still stand-
ing and now used for office purposes by the James J. Regan
Manufacturing Company. "When the bank first started its capital
was $100,000, surplus $1,000 and deposits $52,000. Today its
50 summary of vernon's history early and modern
capital is $200,000, surplus and unsecured profits $64,500, de-
posits $161,000. This is a low mark for deposits, the average
being considerably higher. Since 1868 the bank has occupied
its present quarters under the Methodist Church on Park Place.
On January 23, 1868, George Talcott was elected president of
the bank, and he has held this position continuously since, being
re-elected each year. He has served the bank as its chief
executive officer for a period of forty-three years. This is a record
undoubtedly without a parallel in the financial history of the
state of Connecticut. Mr. Talcott is eighty-four years
old and enjoys the very best of health, being keen
mentally and strong and robust physically, more active
today than many men twenty-five years Ms junior.
He has spent all but eight years of his life in Vernon. His career
in the financial life of the town has been characterized by
faithfulness and fidelity.
The present officers of the bank are: President, George Tal-
cott; vice-president, H. L. James; cashier, H. H. Larkum.
BUILDING AND LOAN.
The Rockville Building and Loan Association was organized
November 20, 1889 and incorporated June 30, 1903. Its capital
stock is $1,000,000 and it has 5,000 shares at a par value of $200
a share. Its first officers following its incorporation were : Presi-
dent, A. Park Hammond; vice-president, C. E. Harris; secretary
and treasurer, J. P. Cameron; treasurer, C. E. Harwood. Its
present officers are: President, A. Park Hammond; vice-presi-
dent, Frank Grant; secretary, Charles N. Fitch; treasurer, C. E.
Harwood. Its assets amounted to $112,445.96 on January 1 ?
SUMMARY OF VERNON S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 51
THE PRESS AND EDUCATION.
Newspaper publishing in Eockville properly begins with the
year 1854, and Curtis B. Wells, deceased, was the pioneer news-
paper publisher of the city. He started a paper known as the
Tolland County Gazette. Following the Gazette came the Tol-
land County Republican. Both were short lived. United States
Treasurer James Gilfillan was interested in newspaper publish-
ing in Eockville in the early days. From the old Simpson
Block, A. B. Warner established the News, which he sold out
to the late J. A. Spaulding, who changed its name to the
Tolland County Journal, its first issue appearing February 7,
1867. Mr. Spaulding continued his ownership of the Journal
until January 27, 1872, when he sold out to J. N. Stickney &
Son. From 1880 until 1881, it was conducted by French
Brothers of North Brookfield. Mass., who purchased it of J. N.
Stickney & Co. Thomas S. Pratt became proprietor about the
middle of May in 1881, publishing the same in connection with
a job printing plant until March, 1905, when he sold out.
The plant is now owned by a stock company. The present
editor of the Journal is Charles S. Greer. The plant
is located in the Eockville Opera House Block, and the paper is
an eight-page one, six columns to the page. It is issued
weekly, making its appearance on Thursday.
On Tuesday, January 28, Thomas S. Pratt, for twenty-four
years publisher and proprietor of the Eockville Journal, died
and on April 29, 1908, B. L. Burr, founder of the Leader and
associated with it as owner and editor for twenty-six years, died.
The Eockville Leader, Tolland County's only semi-weekly
newspaper, is the outgrowth of the Tolland County Gleaner,
which was bought out by B. L. Burr, who had successfully
conducted a Eockville department in the Stafford Press. It
made its first appearance on May 9, 1875. It was a small
four-page paper, five columns to the page and was printed at
the White, Corbin & Co., Envelope Works, only one page being
printed at once. A. W. Phillips succeeded Mr. Burr as owner
and he was succeeded by L. J. Washburn of New York.
In February, 1879, Mr. Burr bought the material (not the
paper) and started the Tolland County Leader. Associated
52 SUMMARY OF YERXONS HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
with him in the business was J. A. Byron. This partnership
continued until August, 1888, when it was dissolved; Mr. Burr
continuing the publication until October, 1897, when he disposed
of the business to Rady and Brown. On February 24, 1898, the
name of the paper was changed to the Rockville Leader. T.
F. Rady bought Mr. Brown out in July, 1904 and the publishers
of the paper since then have been T. F. Rady & Co. For several
} r ears the plant was located on Brooklyn Street. On March 20,
1908, Mr. Rady purchased the Butler property on East Main
Street, making many changes and improvements in the newspa-
per department and in the job printing plant, introducing the
latest modern machinery, including a linotype machine. The
second floor of the present Leader Building was rented by J. A.
Spaulding, where the Rockville Journal was first issued.
The Rockville Leader is a four-page, seven-column paper. Its
present editor is Harry C. Smith. Its publication days are
Tuesdays and Fridays.
The school system in the town of Aernon is in a condition of
advanced development and has a large and suitable equipment.
From earliest times citizens of the town of all classes have taken
keen interest in educational affairs. As a matter of fact, the
people have begrudged money spent for educational purposes,
less than that spent for any other purpose. For a small manu-
facturing town, Vernon has a high reputation and stands at
the very forefront as an educational center. The town has
every reason to be proud of the teaching corps of its schools.
The high average scholarship is conclusive proof that it is of
Modern education in Vernon advanced in 1870 by the erection
of a second regular school building on the inauguration of a
High School course. It was under district management unti T
June 20, 1893, when the first town High School committee was
appointed, consisting of Dr. A. R. Goodrich, Wilbur B. Foster,
A. M. Gibson, James Dingwell, and William V. McNerney
After the completion of the new building in 1870 the second
SUMMARY OF YERXON's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN* 53
floor of the old building was refurnished with new single desks
and the number occupying this floor considerably reduced.
Randall Spaulding was the first principal following the es-
tablishment of a first High School course, and the first class
graduated in 1873, which consisted of Thomas Goodell and his
brother Edwin B. Goodell. These brothers graduated from Yale
in the class of 1877, the former being a member of the faculty at
the present time of Yale University and a distinguished Greek
scholar. He wrote the commemorative poem for the centennial
celebration of the town of Vernon, June 28 to July 4, inclusive.
The present High School Building, which cost about $40,000,
was dedicated September 5, 1893 and was used immediately as
the Public High School of the town of Vernon. The present
High School Committee consists of William Maxwell, chairman;
George P. Wendheiser, secretary and treasurer; Lyman T.
Tingier, Eoraee (i. Talcotl and Dr. F. W. Walsh. Harry
Brooks Marsh, M. A., is the principal of the High School and
Philip M. Howe. ftl. A., assistant principal. Ten teachers com-
pose the faculty. There are three courses. The enrollment at
the opening of the fall term in September, 1910, was one
hundred and seventy-nine, one hundred from Yernon and
seventy-nine from other towns. The cost of running for the
year begun in September. 1910, is estimated at $9,750.
There are thirty-four graded public scbools in the town, with
free text books, teaching music, besides the regular course.
Manual training and sewing are taught in all the schools within
the city limits. The districts are: Past. West. Northeast, South-
fast. South, Talcottville Southwest, Yernon Center and North-
west. Schools are maintained in all these districts, with the
exception of the Southeast, where the pupils are conveyed to
Rockville, attending the East District. A school is also main-
tained at the Tolland County Temporary Home for Children at
Yernon Center. The enumeration of children October 1, 1910,
East District 796
'\Yest District 636
54 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
County Home 36
There are thirty-seven teachers employed, including the teachers
of music, drawing and writing, in the district schools of the
The board of education of the town of Vernon at the present
time consists of M. H. Talcott, president; S. T. Noble, secre-
tary and acting school visitor; Dr. T. F. O'Loughlin, acting
school visitor; E. G. Butler, Dr. J. E. Hassett and Fred Wood-
hall. Dr. A. E. Goodrich, who died December 20, 1908 was
a member of the school board for twenty-five years, twenty-three
years president of the board. S. T. Noble has been a member of
the board for nearly twenty years.
There are two parochial schools in the town of Vernon, St.
Bernard's, and the school connected with Trinity Ger-
man Church. They are both doing excellent work and are a
credit to those who have their management and direction in
SUMMARY OF VERNON S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 00
EELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND FRATERNAL
The truth and hope of the gospel has been the dominating and
all absorbing force in the growth of mankind in all of the higher
qualities. Religious life may vary in different communities, but
religious institutions are essential to the best progress and true
growth of all communities. Religion, like everything else, ex-
pands. The difference betweeen early and modern conditions in
the religious life of Vernon is no less marked than it is in
other Connecticut towns. In the mighty forward sweep of civili-
zation and onward march of progress the religious customs and
characteristics of the people undergo many and wonderful
changes. No more contrasting picture can be presented than the
religious life and institutions of Vernon, when the town was
incorporated in 1808, over a century ago, and the religious life
and institutions of today, as Vernon enters upon her second
century as a political factor in the commonwealth of Connecti-
The age of Puritanism has gone never to return, but the
Puritan character will live as long as time shall last. "We may
lay aside the creeds, the forms of worship, the social customs
of these good people, of strong faith and stronger courage, but
we can never lay aside the two fundamental life-principles, faith
in God and faith in man. The fatherhood of God and the
brotherhood of man have always been, and ever will be, the great
keystones in the arch of every perfect and enduring religious
structure. Religious restraint and intolerance have given way
to liberty and charitableness, but we should exercise every care
and not abuse the power which comes with the larger liberty of
these modern days, striving at all times and in all places to obey
the laws of God and man, and as spiritual heirs of the Puritans
building up a theocracy that will endure throughout the ages.
While the unit of life during all ages and in all towns has been
the home, the blessed trinity which has held men and women to
that which is highest and best, has been the home, church, and
school. Vernon is blessed with churches that are progressive,
standing everywhere and at all times for the moral and spiritual
56 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
welfare of the people, and her religious life has contributed to
the beauty and nobility of the community. So much has been
accomplished by religion and the church that it would require
more than a single chapter to do full justice. A history of each
denomination during the modern period of the town's life will
give a better insight into the conditions in the religious field,
than a general treatment of the subject of religion and religious
Vernon has today twelve churches, nine Protestant aud three
Catholic, divided by denominations as follows : Three Congre-
gational, two Methodists, one Baptist, one Episcopal, and two
German Lutheran. The Christian Scientists have an organi-
zation but no organized church. There is also a Swiss church
just over the city line in Ellington, which is attended by several
Piockville people of that nationality.
VERNON CENTER CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.
The parish was formed by name of North Bolton in 1760.
The church was organized as the Second Church of Christ in
Bolton in 1762. When the town was incorporated in 1808, the
church and society took the name of the town.
The first house of worship, one-half mile east of the present
building, was erected in 1762, present building erected in 1826,
thoroughly remodeled in 1851, when the portico and spire were
added. The spire was taken clown in 1896.
The church has had a great many pastors. The records of the
church are rich in honored names, which there is not space to
mention here. The fate of so many of the hill town churches,
from causes that are inevitable, has fallen upon the Old Mother
church, that of a contracted parish, greatly lessened constitu-
ency and meager material resources. For a number of the years
the pulpit has been supplied by theological students. Albert A.
Marquardt, a student at the Hartford Theological Seminary, is
acting as pastor of the church at the present time.
ROCKVILLE A QUARTER CENTURY
AGO — Looking West from Market
Street. (Courtesy Hockville Leader. I
VRRXOX CENTER CONGREGATION-
AL CHURCH, erected in 1826, re-
modeled in 1851, when portico and
spire were added. Spire taken down
1896. (Courtesy Hockville Leader.)
Park Place and Park Street in 1870. Site of present modern Henry Build-
ing, showing First Congregational Church of Rockville.
(Courtesy of Rockville Journal.)
SUMMARY OF VERXON's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 57
CONGREGATIONAL CHUECHES IN ROCKVILLE.
For fifteen years the original settlers of Rockville went to the
old church at Vernon. The men usually walked, while the
team of the Rock Company carried the women and girls. Weekly
prayer meetings were held during this time in the Rock boarding
house. The first service on a Sunday was held in the Rock
"Lecture Room"' on December 2, 1836, conducted by Rev.
Diodate Brockway, of Ellington. The First Church of Rock-
ville was organized October 26, 1837, with forty members, thirty-
five of them from the old church in Vernon. There was con-
nected with it a Sunday School of one hundred members, and
the growth of the church, as of the village was rapid. The house
of worship Mas twice enlarged, and still there was need of more
The Second Church was accordingly organized February 22,
1849, with forty-eight members, twenty-nine from the First
Church and nineteen from elsewhere. Its house of worship, a
New England meeting house of the noblest style, with Ionic
portico and a lofty spire that was much admired for its graceful
proportions, was built in 1848-9.
These two churches worked side by side for a generation while
the village grew to be a city. The years 1850, 1852, 1854,
1858, 1864, 1866-7, 1874, not to mention later dates, are spoken
of as times of especial religious interest, when large numbers
weer added to the church membership.
The pastors of the First Church were : Rev. Ansel Nash, 1839-
1841; Rev. Augustus Pomeroy, 1841-1845; Rev. Horace Wins-
low, 1845-1852: Rev. John W. Ray, 1853-1855; Rev. Smith B.
Goodenow, 1859-1860; Rev. Avery S. Walker, 1861-1864; Rev.
Henry S. Kelsey, 1866-1868; Rev. E. B. Bingham, 1871-1878;
Rev. J. W. Backus, 1879-1883: Rev. Charles H. Ricketts, 1884-
The pastors of the Second Church were : Rev. Andrew W.
Sharpe, 1849-1851; Rev. Charles H. Bullard, 1853-1857; Rev.
Charles W. Clapp. 1857-1864; Rev. Asa S. Fiske, 1865-1871;
Rev. Henry F. Hyde. 1872-1880; Rev. Samuel B. Forbes, 1881-
58 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
Of these men the most influential were undoubtedly Revs.
Horace Winslow and Edward B. Bingham, of the First Church,
and Eevs. Henry F. Hyde and Samuel B. Forbes, of the Second ;
and it is a curious co-incidence that the term of service of each
of these men was about seven years. Mr. Hyde died in office,
and was sincerely mourned by the entire community.
April 3, 1888, the building of the Second Church was de-
stroyed by fire. About the same time the town of Vernon wished
to acquire the site of the First Church Building for a Memorial
Town Hall. As there were eight churches in the place, the way
seemed to be providentially opened for the union of the Congre-
gationalists into one body, and after mature consideration and a
thorough canvass, union was decided on.
The Union Ecclesiastical Society was formed on June 15, 1888,
and into its hands the property of the societies connected with
the First and Second Churches was duly conveyed. The Union
Church was organized by one hundred and eighty-nine members
of the First and two hundred and twenty-two of the Second
Church, in August, 1888.
Services were held in the building of the First Church, which,
after the sale of the lot on which it stood, was moved to the south
side of Main Street across the Rock Canal. Rev. Charles H.
Ricketts, the last pastor of the First Church, acted as pastor of
the united body until May, 1889. On December 12 of that year,
Rev. James Dingwell was installed by council as first pastor of
the Union Congregational Church.
After considering other locations, the Ecclesiastical Society
voted on July 24, 1888, to build a new church building on the
site of the former Second Church. Plans submitted by
Warren H. Hayes of Minneapolis were accepted, and on the
anniversary of the burning of the Second Church the contract
for the erection of the present beautiful edifice was signed.
September 5, 1890, the building committee, consisting of J. G.
Bailey, George Sykes, Crosley Fitton, George M. Paulk and Dr.
E. K. Leonard, presented the finished building to the society.
The church was first opened to the public for an organ recital
by Prof. W. C. Hammond on the evening of September IT. The
W 5 * ■
Hr^ ' " *^m
NATHANIEL OLMSTED KELLOCC ALLYN KELLOGG.
Grandsons of Reverend Ebenezer Kellogg, 8rs< Pastor of Vernon. Promin-
ent in the early days of the first century of Rockville.
Grandson of first pastor.
One of the earliest residents of Ver-
SUMMAET OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN 59
services of dedication were held the next day. The sermon was
by Bev. E. A. Reed, D. D., of Holyoke, Mass.
Wise, earnest, devoted laymen have been the strength of the
Congregational churches of Rockville from the first. The names
of Hammond, Kellogg, Maxwell, Loomis. Thompson, Prescott,
Sykes, Grant, Harwood, and many more, appear again and again
in the records. Deacon George Maxwell at his death, April 2,
1891, had been a deacon of the Second and Union Churches for
thirty-five years, and Deacon John 1ST. Stickney, served the First
and Union Churches in the same office forty-four years.
Work among young people has always been a strong feature.
One hundred were gathered into the Sunday School when the
First Church was formed in 1837. Since then the schools have
been fortunate in their officers and teachers. E. B. Preston
is especially remembered as a superintendent who knew every
child in a large school by name. The Young People's Society of
Christian Endeavor, formed September 1, 1888, was for many
years one of the most nourishing in the state. Other organiza-
tions, not only of young people, but of men and women, have been
efficient tools in the church work.
An event of great importance was the reception in February,
1892, of the legacy of $5,000 left by Mr. Maxwell to found a free
reading room in connection with the church. Trustees were ap-
pointed to have charge of the fund, to which another $5,000 was
added in 1898 by the heirs of Mr. Maxwell, and yet another
$5,000 in 1901 by the will of George Sykes. The rooms
were furnished and opened to the public in the spring of 1892.
The daily attendance has averaged about seventy year after
year, proving the great usefulness of this institution.
Since 1897 the church has given the community a chance to
hear sacred music of the highest order in a series of special ser-
vices of song on Sunday evenings. Large portions of Handel's
'"Messiah" have been given at the Christmas season for years.
Haydn's ''Creation'' was given twice in connection with the cen-
tennial celebration in 1908.
AVhen the General Conference of Congregational Churches of
60 SUMMARY OF YERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX
Connecticut was formed, Rockville was one of the first places to
entertain the annual meeting, and has now entertained the state
body four times, in 1869, 1880, 1893, and 1908.
Mr. Dingwell closed his pastorate in 1895, and the present pas-
tor, Rev. Charles E. McKinley, was installed September 16,
Under the pastorate of Rev. C. E. McKinley, which has
extended over a period of fourteen years, the present Union
Church has attained a remarkable growth, and today its member-
ship is 550. It has one of the largest Sunday Schools of any Con-
gregational church in the state. Mr. McKinley is an excellent
preacher and a faithful and devoted pastor, who does not neglect
a single interest of his parish.
TALCOTTVILLE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
The Talcottville Congregational Church was organized March
13, 1861. with a membership of seventy-four. (By
letter sixty-four, by confession ten.) The church
building was erected by H. W. and C. D. Talcott;
at a cost of $31,000, and presented by them to the Congrega
tional Church, in Talcottville, "so long as said church shall sus-
tain the preaching of the gospel and other connected means of
grace according to the Faith and Order of the Fathers." There
have been eight pastors, Rev. George A. Oviatt (1866-1875), Rev.
Joseph P. Hawley (1875-1878), Rev. Theodore L. Day (1879-
1883), Rev. George H. Pratt (1883-1888), Rev. Jonathan Wad-
hams (1888-1890), Rev. Foster R. Waite (1890-1903), Rev.
David L. Yale (1901-1908), Rev. Francis P. Bacheler (1908).
The first deacons were John Winchester ( 1867-1874), Horace AY.
The Sunday School was organized December 2, 1866, with
H. W. Talcott as superintendent. The Ladies' Missionary
Society was organized September 19, 1866, with Mrs. Daniel
Kellogg as president. The Ladies' Mission Band was organ-
ized October, 1882. with Miss Alice Dexter as president. The
Y. P. S. C. E. was organized September, 1886 with Rev.
George H. Pratt as president.
The present officers of the church are: Deacons. Horace (I.
SUMMARY OF VEIiXOX's HISTORY EARLY AND MODELS' 61
Talcott (1882 ), Morris H. Talcott (1889 ). clerk.
J. G. Talcott; treasurer, M. H. Talcott: superintendent Sunday
School, H. G. Talcott : choirister, G. W. Smith; president Ladies'
Missionary Society and Mission Band, Mrs. C. D. Talcott:
Daughters of the Covenant, Miss Florence Moore: president
Y. P. S. C. E., Rev. F. P. Bachelor. Present church member-
ship, one hundred and ninety-six.
Since the burning of the church edifice on October 31, 1908,
Talcott Brothers have kindly donated the use of the hall in the
upper part of the store building for church purposes.
THE METHODIST CHURCH.
The first steps looking toward a new church home were taken
on February 26, 1866. At this meeting it was voted to build a
church and a subscription paper was put in circulation by a com-
mittee, consisting of R. S. Lewis, C. White, L. A. Corbin and
H. C. Parker. The first service in the vestry of the new church
was held on June 16, 1867. It was a love feast. The bell was
raised to its place in the tower June 28, 1867. The vestry was
inadecpiate to accommodate the congregations and the audience
room of the church was dedicated on Tuesday, November 26,
1867, Bishop Simpson preaching the sermon. Finished and fur-
nished, the church cost $56,000. A little more than a year after
dedication, including the debt secured by mortgage, it was found
that there were claims against the church, including interest, of
about $38,000. At this point Messrs White and Corbin came to
the rescue agreeing to assume all but $10,000 of the debt, if
the church would deed hack to them the banks and the property
in the rear of the church, and make over to them some uncol-
lected subscriptions. The deed was given, the property costing
them nearer $25,000 than $10,000. Pastor after pastor made an
effort to liquidate the debt, but without success. Rev. J. H.
dames, who assumed the pastorate of the church in 1885, freed
the church of a heavy debt, a notable accomplishment.. The
mortgage was burned at a union meeting of the people, in which
different ministers participated, on the third Sunday in October.
1887. The occasion marked a jubilee celebration long to be re-
membered in the annals of local Methodism.
62 SUMMARY OF YERNONS HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
From the time that Messrs. White and Corbin took the front
basement rooms of the church, long used as banks, it was the
intention of those gentlemen that this property should revert to
the trustees of the church. When Cyrus "White died this had
not been attended to and Lewis A. Corbin bought the banks.
The subject was frequently mentioned by pastors and others,
but it was not until the pastorate of Rev. W. J. Yates that it
was definitely arranged. Then Mr. Corbin executed deeds which
are duly recorded, conveying the banks to the trustees. He
reserved the income during his life. Then a portion was reserved
for a fund for contingencies, but at last all the income goes to
the trustees. Certain annual contributions to benevolent inter-
ests are provided for and the balance may be used for the cur-
rent expenses of the church.
Meanwhile Mr. Corbin had purchased the lecture room of the
First Church and removed it to his own lot, back of the
church. This is the room, which, by the courtesy of the Congre-
gational Church, was used as a place of worship by the Metho-
dists when the old West Street Church burned. Now
George W. Doane joined with Mr. Corbin and these two gentle-
men at their own expense fitted up the commodious "Wesleyan
Hall," "Ladies' parlor" and church kitchen and placed them on
the lot on which stands at the service of the people of the church,
a noble act, worthy to be remembered to their honor.
When Eev. W. S. Maclntire came to be the pastor of the
church the frescoing on ceiling and wall was badly defaced and
the church greatly needed repairs. He soon set about this work
and on "Old People's Daj^," October, 1906, the church was re-
opened in its present attractive condition.
Under the energetic pastorate of Eev. E. S. Moore, who is now
on his second year, the spiritual wants of the people are in good
hands and material blessings have come to the church in the
way of additional improvements.
The church records show the following as to the pastors :
183L S. dishing. E. Whitney, L. Pierce: 1835, no record;
1836, H. Torbush, E. A. Standish, E. Chapin: 1837, no record;
1838, E. Chapin. (A "local preacher" of East Hartford) ; 1839,
SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN 63
no record; 1840, "Vernon Circuit," B. M. Walker, C. D. Rogers;
1841, L. Leffingwell, L. W. Blood, E. A. Standish; 1842, Lanson
B. Clark, W. Emerson ; 1842, Xo record, R. W. Allen presiding
«lder; 1844-1845, A. F. Park, "local preacher." A lawyer of Nor-
wich; 1840, H. Torbush, J. B. Gould. First Church built, West
street; 1847, W. Hurd. Church dedicated May; 1848-1849,
Anthony Palmer; 1850, L. W. Blood; 1851-1852, W. S. Sim-
mons; 1853-1854, G. W. Brewster; 1855-1856, W. 0. Cady;
1857-1858, G. W. Wooding; 1859, Charles Morse; 1860, C. S.
Sanford; 1861-1862, R. Parsons; 1863-1864, John Lovejoy;
1865-1866, Erastus Benton; 1867-1868-'69, J. W. Willett; 18T0-
1871, E. H. Hatfield; 1872, Shadrach Leader; 1873-'74-'7o,
Henry H. Martin; 1876-1877, G. W. Miller; 1878-1879, N. G.
Axtell; 1880-'Sl-'82, Richard Povey; 1883, 0. H. Fernald ; 1884,
G. W. Brewster; 1885-'86-*87, J. H. James; 1888-'90, Orange
W. Scott; 1891-"94, G. H. Bates; 1895-"!i9. W. J. Yates; 1900-
'01, W. A. Luce; 1902-'05. W. P. Buck; 1906-'08, W. S. Mac-
Intire; 1909, R. S. Moore.
VERNON METHODIST CHURCH.
The Vernon Methodist Episcopal Church started from small
beginnings, as most of the Methodist churches do, from class
meetings. This was in the early sixties. The meetings were
held mostly in the Dobsonville schoolhouse and the increasing
numbers demanded preachers and the society was supplied by
students from Wesleyan University at Middletown. One of the
men was Rev. W. W. Bowdish, who at present is district super-
intendent in the New York Evangelist conference. About 1865
the congregation had increased to such numbers that a house
of worship became imperative and the church at Bolton was
purchased and moved to Vernon, cut in two and lengthened and
is the building now used for worship. Somewhat later the
building was improved and a belfry added with a fine bell in-
stalled, mainly by the generosity of S. S. Talcott, a prosperous
manufacturer, who for many years was the motive power
of the society.
64 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
In 1872 a resident pastor became a necessity and Rev. S. 0.
Benton was sent to the field. In the meantime, S. S. Talcott
and George Miner bought a lot near the church and a par-
sonage was built. The congregation numbered forty or more and
steadily increased under the labors of Rev. Briton and his suc-
cessor, Rev. D. A. Jordan. Both of these men have risen to
distinction in the Methodist Episcopal Church. The church
was served by other ministers later, viz., Ellis, Bentlev, Page,
C. S. Davis and others. A cabinet organ costing $300, the
gift of S. S. Talcott, was placed in the church and the pews
upholstered and other improvements made.
In 1886 at the close of Rev. W. A. Taylor's pastorate, the
Vernon Church was united with the Wapping charge, which ar-
rangement lasted a year or little more. From tins time on
until 1892, the church had a temporary supply and then an
interval of three years with no pastor and a closed church. Rev.
B. C. Phelps gave his services for one year to keep the church
open and a Mr. Hilton from Hartford conducted services for a
year and some others, whose names do not appear, for brief
intervals. The Crusaders succeeded in awakening an interest
which resulted in the appointment of Rev. D. W. Adams in 1895
to the charge. Under his aggressive administration an Epworth
League was formed with Mrs. Robert Walker as president. A
Sunday School was previously organized by G. N. Phelps, who
has remained as its superintendent until the present. During
Rev. D. W. Adams' pastorate some changes were made in the
interior of the church, giving a commodious vestry. A Ladies*
Aid Society was organized at this time with Mrs. S. S. Talcott as
president, which became of great assistance in the church work.
Rev. D. W. Adams was followed by Rev. F. J. Follansbee
during whose term, a lot adjoining the church was purchased and
a new parsonage erected, the former one having been sold some
years previously. The society thus incurred a debt which
at the time was heavy but which the Ladies' Aid Society
under the able leadership of Mrs. G. X. Phelps, its president,
Avas Largely instrumental in lifting, and on March 31, 1905, amid
much rejoicing, the mortgage note was consigned to the flames,
SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX 65
and the society was free from debt. Following Rev. F. J.
Follansbee came Revs. James Tregaskis, S. F. Maine, J. F. Rob-
ertson and lastly Rev. S. M. Beale, whose wise, ardent and
progressive labors guarantee the future prosperity of the Ver-
non Methodist Episcopal Church.
THE BAPTIST CHURCH.
The history of the Baptist denomination in the vicinity of
Yernon begins as far back as 1842, when at the request of several
brethren a meeting was held on April 8 at the home of Thomas
King in Ellington "to consult upon the propriety of constituting
a Baptist church in said town." In the afternoon of that day
the church was organized, but this organization disbanded in
1845, but before doing so the membership had grown to thirty-
two members. Rev. George Mixter was the first pastor. The service
of organization was held in the lower room of the Congregational
Church in Ellington. This building was later removed to Roek-
ville and re-erected as the Rockville Opera House. Before dis-
banding, the church built a small building in Ellington, which
is still standing.
In 1849 twenty-eight members of various Baptist churches of
Rockville issued a call, looking to the formation of a Baptist
Church. The signers of the call were all Rockville residents. On
July 17, 1849, fourteen persons met at the home of E. S.
Hurlburt and formally organized the Rockville Bap-
tist Church. Rev. D. D. Lyon acted as the first
pastor. On April 21, 1850, Rev. Henry R. Knapp
became pastor of the church. At the close of the pastorate of
Rev. H. R. Knapp, May 1, 1852, the church numbered over
eighty members. The church remained pastorless after the re-
signation of Rev. H. R. Knapp until January, 1854, when a
call to the pastorate was extended to Rev. G. W. Gorham, who
continued as pastor until about a month and a half before the
The Sunday services of this church were held during the
earlier period in Union Hall in the Sears Building on Market
Street in the rear of the Exchange Block. This building has
since burned down.
66 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
In 1849 it was unanimously voted to contract for building a
house of worship. According to the* vote, there was to be a
basement under the house of worship and stores for rent. Land
for a building was purchased of the Frank Factory near the fac-
tory. The response to a subscription paper warranted the pro-
ject of building, and work was commenced, and after what was
apparently a long and hard struggle, completed. This edifice
was that which is now occupied by the German
Lutheran Church on West Main Street. It was
sold to the Methodist Episcopal Society on Februaiy
27, 1855. Regular services were discontinued at this time, but
the society continued to hold annual meetings and elect officers
year by j^ear until the church began again to hold regular ser-
vices in 1882.
For twenty-seven years the Baptists of Rockville
kept up their organization, while not holding services of a dis-
tinctively religious nature. This seems a remarkable fact and
proves conclusively the persistent character of this people. In
1882, Rev. L. S. Brown of Tolland commenced holding services.
Sunday afternoons in Rockville Hall, which is now the dining
room of the Rockville House. Soon the place of holding ser-
vices was changed to what was called "The Mission Room," now
the room occupied by the Journal Publishing Company.
The Baptist church was revived in June, 1882. It was a small
start, there being but six members to begin with, but additions
were made from time to time, the church growing steadily and
showing signs of prosperity. Rev. L. S. Brown continued to
supply the pulpit until November, 1883. The church was without
a settled pastor until January, 1884, when Rev. W. C. Walker
began to supply, continuing until May, 1885. The pastorate of
Rev. A. S. Brown commenced immediately after the close of the
pastorate of Rev. W. C. Walker, and continued until April, 1887.
The present house of worship, which was dedicated on March 8.
1887, was started during his pastorate, the site being purchased
from the Rock Manufacturing Company on Union Street, where
the church now stands.
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY VXD MODERN" 67
The pastors of the church following Rev. A. S. Brown were :
Rev. E. W. Potter, 1887-1894; Rev. A. P. Wedge, 1895-1900.
The present pastor, Rev. George D. Gould, commenced his duties
on April 1, 1900. During his nearly eleven years of service, peace
and prosperity have attended the church. The church has been
refurnished inside and out, until it hardly looks like the same
building. During the present pastorate there have been added
to the church eighty-three members, fifty-eight of them by
baptism, while twenty-five have been lost to the membership by
various causes, leaving a net gain to the church of sixty, the
present membership being one hundred and sixty-six. The
membership has doubled on the average once in eight years since
THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
The first Episcopal service held in the town of Vernon was
the marriage of Dr. Alfred R. Goodrich, who in later years
achieved distinction in the professional and political life of the
town, and Miss Charlotte Dobson, daughter of Peter Dobson,
founder of the first cotton mill in the town and one of the
first in America. The ceremony was performed October 28,
1847, by Rev. Mr. Clero of Broad Brook.
In 1850 a funeral service was held by Rev. Mr. Fitch. Regular
Episcopal services were begun by Rev. Enoch H. Huntington
in 1855. He was the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Broad
Brook. The initial service of the denomination in Rockville was
held in the Rockville House on May 7. It is said that over three
hundred attended. Rector Huntington ventured to express the
hope that a chapel might be built here to accommodate the
Episcopalians. To this end he continued to lead the congrega-
tion from Broad Brook and subsequently from Manchester. He
was assisted and succeeded in the work by his son, Rev. John
T. Huntington, at the present time the beloved pastor of St.
James' Episcopal Church, Hartford, who gave himself, his time
and means to the work, in the winter coming out from Hart-
ford in the cold and snow. Eventually becoming discouraged,
Mr. Huntington gave it up as the biggest mistake of his life.
68 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERX
The parish was served by lay readers, young men from Trinity
College, Hartford, who afterwards became prominent clergymen
in the church, Messrs Buckingham, Alfred Harding, J. H. Free-
land, F. D. Buckley and others.
The parish was organized by the convention in June, 1872.
Services were held in 1871 and 1872 in the German Lutheran
Church on West Main Street, but the time had arrived when they
must have a building of their own. Considerable difficulty was
encountered in finding a location. Eventually the present site
was obtained, then occupied by an unsightly barn. And here
the church building stood.
Heavily mortgaged, the parish handicapped with debt, the
whole thing gave evidence of a conspicuous failure. But upon
the earnest appeal and subscription of Bishop Williams, church-
men came forward and with the assistance of the Missionary
Society of the Diocese bought the property and placed the parish
upon a working basis. The parish was paid out of debt entirely
and the present church edifice was consecrated as that of St.
John's on May 30, 1905, Memorial Day, and thereupon
entered upon a new and vigorous career.
Rev. Harlow R. Whitlock was the first rector of St. John's
Church. The discouragements of the work were so great that Mr.
Whitlock resigned, practically abandoning the ministry, from
which at his own request he was deposed. Other rectors of the
church with their term of service follow: William F. Bielby,
1884-1888; Elijah Roke, 1888-1889; Clarence E. Baal, 1889-
1892; Bev. Samuel W. Derby, 1892,1895; Rev. Robert C. Ton-
Rev. J. Francis George, the present pastor, succeeded Rev.
Robert C. Tongue, commencing his pastorate on October 1, 1899.
Aside from faithful and generous parishioners, citizens of
the community have patronized the church, of whom are the
names of Judge Dwight Loomis, A. N. Belding, George Talcott.
E. N. Foote, L. E. Thompson, Heber Townsend, Cyrus Winchell.
E. S. Henry, W. R. Orcutt, H. L. James, L. Bissell, W. B.
Foster and George Sykes.
SUMMARY OF YERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX 69
Of the church itself a distinguished citizen has said that "more
than anything else it represents the progress of the town.''
Placed at the outside in a most unattractive location, improve-
ments have gone on year after year upon the church and its
environment, until it finds itself in the midst of the most desir-
able residential portion of Eockville. If we are to judge from
the past this church is destined to fill a noble position in the
city and in the state, the product of a wealthy and intelligent
The number of families connected with St. John's Episcopal
Church at the present time is one hundred and seven; baptized
persons, three hundred and twenty-seven and communicants,
one hundred and fifty-nine.
Under the present rector, who has labored faithfully and zeal-
ously, "progress" appears to be the keynote in the spiritual life
of the people and the material life of the parish. The call is
"Forward and Upward."
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
As far as can be ascertained, James McAvenney was the first
Catholic to settle in Eockville. He came sixty-seven
years ago. In 1848, about fifteen Catholics assembled
at the first mass celebrated in Eockville in a
house owned by the paper mill company and then
occupied by Christopher Carroll and family, was the place
where divine services were conducted. Eev. John Brady, of
Hartford, was the celebrant of the mass. It may be interest-
ing to those of us of another generation nearly three score
years and ten later to know who were some of the attendants
of the first mass. The records disclose the name of Christopher
Carroll, Patrick Quinn, Edward Gorman, Thomas McDonnell,
Dennis O'Donnell, James Conner, Philip Kernan, Matthew Fay.
Eugene Kernan, Patrick Duffy. Martin Flood, John Moore and
It was not until the year 1849 that regular visitations were
made, and this duty developed on Eev. James Smyth, one of the
patriarchs of the diocese. He officiated here at monthly intervals
70 SUMMARY OF VERXOX'S HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX
at the house of Albert Lamb, where Patrick Quinn resided. He
said mass also in the Dean house on Mountain Street, where
Martin Flood resided.
The "Brick Tavern," famous in the early history of Vernon,
when the growth of Catholicism in interest and numbers made
larger quarters essential, became a meeting place. Beginning
with the year 1851 a large upper room on the west side was used.
Mass was said here for two years, when "Skinner" Hall was se-
cured in the Sears Building on Market Street over the Eockville
meat market, where mass was said by Father Smyth and others
until March 15, 1851. Rev. Peter Egan assumed charge as the
first resident pastor. Manchester, Stafford Springs, Broad Brook
and Mansfield, which were without any Catholic meeting houses,
Between 1850 and 1860, there was considerable activity in
Catholic circles and as the Catholic population was increasing
slowly but surely it was felt that a site and building should be
secured. Although the financial means of the Catholics were
meager and there existed a deep rooted local prejudice against
Catholics and Irishmen at this time, once a start had been made
for a church home of their own on the part of the Catholics,
there was no turning back. Hawley Kellogg, a druggist, who
conducted business on what is now known as St. Bernard's Ter-
race, who was broad and liberal in his views, offered his entire
property to the Catholics on terms satisfactory to them, and
they promptly accepted the offer, and after removing the store on
the site, work was commenced on the new church. Good progress
was made and the church was completed. In the meantime a
parsonage was secured, a cemetery, consisting of five acres on the
Tolland Eoad, purchased by Father Egan, who was in charge
here at the time. Having been instrumental in getting the parish
under headway and accomplishing much for the spiritual welfare
of the people and the material wants of the parish, Father Egan
went to Lee, Mass. on November 12, 1856.
Rev. Bernard Tully succeeded Father Egan, assuming his
duties in December, 1856. Under his administration the church
was finished and embelished and dedicated by Bishop McFarland.
Father Tully 's pastorate continued until January, 1863.
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 71
Following Father Tully's pastorate, the pastors of St. Ber-
nard's Roman Catholic church were Rev. Hugh O'Reilly, 1863-
1868; Rev. Bernard Tully, 1868-1869; Rev. James Quinn, 1869-
1872; Rev. Patrick P. Lawlor, 1872-1873; Rev. John J. Fur-
long, 1873-1895; Rev. John Cooney, 1895-1900. Rev. Luke
Fitzsimons assumed the pastorate on Sunday, September 30,
1900, coming from the Immaculate Conception Church in New
During Father Tully's pastorate the sanctuary of the church
was enlarged, the church beautifully decorated and the main
portion of the rectory built.
Father Tully's second pastorate was of very brief duration.
He suddenly expired in his carriage on July 20, 1869, while
on his way to Ellington. The splendid marble monument,
which stands over his grave in front of the church, was erected
by Rockville and Manchester people, in testimony of their love
and esteem for him.
Rev. John J. Furlong served for a longer period than any
pastor in the history of St. Bernard's parish, 1874-1895. Father
Furlong's first work was to improve the cemetery. During his
pastorate the church was completely renovated, mny notable
improvements being made. The renovated church was re-
dedicated on January 20, 1878. In February, 1886, the John-
son site on Park Street was purchased. The house was con-
verted into a convent and a chapel was arranged therein. The
Cogswell lot adjacent was soon added to this property. The
present lot on which the present handsome school building
stands, was secured by Father Furlong. On this lot was the old
building which Father Egan had removed to make room for the
church. This was remodeled for the "Sisters," who removed there-
to from Park Street, May 13, 1895. To Father Furlong belongs
the honor of introducing the Sisters of Mercy into Rockville.
November 3, 1886 was the date they took up their work here.
On May 2, 1887, the basement of the church, which had been
fitted up, was opened for school purposes. A new school build-
ing, 63x68 feet, commenced by Father Furlong in 1894, was
opened September 10, 1895.
72 SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN
During the nearly ten years Eev. Luke Fitzsimons was
pastor of St. Bernard's Church there was a wonderful
growth and expansion. In many respects it was one of the
most remarkable decades in the history of the parish. The years
have been marked by material prosperity and progress and
spiritual uplift. On Tuesday, August 30, 1904, the people of
the parish were bereft of a church home, their frame edifice
erected in 1855, enlarged in 1863, moved back and added to in
1873 and improved by the addition of a new steeple and in
various other ways, being re-dedicated in 1878, was totally de-
stroyed by fire. The Union Ecclesiastical Society offered its
church edifice for a temporary place of worship for the members
of St. Bernard's Church and the town authorities put at their
disposal the Town Hall, which was accepted. Undaunted and
undismayed by the catastrophe that came to the parish, Father
Fitzsimons lost no time in getting plans out for a new church
home, and in seven months after the fire, work started on the
new church. The cornerstone of the new church was laid on
Sunday, May 28, 1905. It was a grand and imposing ceremony.
Bishop Michael Tierney spread the mortar with a silver trowel,
forty priests assisted, all the Catholic societies turned out and
many citizens, Catholic and Protestant, graced the occa-
sion with their presence. The chapel was dedicated on Sunday,
November 26, and this was another memorable occasion in the
history of the parish. The greatest epoch in the history of the
parish arrived when the church was dedicated on Sunday,
September 20, 1908, when the people beholding the new church
complete and crowning the ideal site of the old, forgot their grief
in joy. Before the vast assemblage the church was dedicated.
"While Father Fitzsimons was the moving spirit and genius in
building up the new church, the loyalty and devotion of his
people and the co-operation and noble response on the part of the
non-Catholics of the city, made his task a pleasant one.
The church is of granite foundation to the main floor and
the main body is of brick. It will seat nine hundred.
When Father Fitzsimons assumed the duties of pastor of St.
Bernard's Church, there was a debt of $30,000. The debt has
SUMMARY OF YERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN' 73
been removed, a new church, costing $65,000 has been built, the
parish owns a large amount of valuable property in the very
heart of the city, and there is an indebtedness of but $12,000.
When the church first started there were two hundred
and forty-seven Irish people in Eockville. Today there
are two thousand one hundred souls in St. Bernard's parish
and the church has one thousand six hundred communicants.
Eev. M. H. May of Colchester, Conn., succeeded Rev. Luke
Fitzsimons as pastor of St. Bernard's Church. He arrived in
Eockville on Wednesday, August 3, 1910. On Sunday, August
6, he said two masses at the church and occupied the pulpit at
the three masses, where he introduced himself to his parishion-
Father May has been extremely fortunate in bis assist-
ant, Eev. James L. Smith, who came to Eockville in 1904 from
the Norwich parish. He co-operates with the "Sisters" in the
convent in carrying on the educational work of the boys and
ST. JOSEPH'S POLISH CHUECH.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church (Polish) is one of the young-
est churches in Eockville, dating back to April 28. 1905. Previous
to this time the Polish people worshipped at St. Bernard's
Church. The steady increase in the Polish population made it
necessary to take steps to erect a suitable church home, ami the
present edifice at the corner of Union and West streets was dedi-
cated on Sunday, October 29, 1905. The distinguished prelate,
Bishop Michael Tierney officiated and the ceremony was an
impressive one. A feature of the clay's exercises was a big
parade in which out of town Polish societies took part, there
being about 1,200 men in line. The edifice was erected under the
supervision of Eev. C. J. Wotypka, the first rector, since deceased.
Owing to the generosity and devotion of his people and the co-
operation of the citizens of the community, excellent progress
was made. To help pay for the church, the members of tiie
parish set aside two days pay each month for the first six
months and then one day's pay each month for a year.
74 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
The church building, which is of Gothic style of architecture,
of frame construction, 40x83 feet in size, has a seating capacity
of about eight hundred. It is of modern construction and the
appointments are complete in every respect. The church has
over eight hundred communicants. The rectors of the church
since its organization have been: Eevs. C. J. Wotypka, Joseph
H. Culkowski, M. Soltysek.
WEST MAIN STEEET GEEMAN LUTHEEAN CHUECH.
The first divine service was held in 1856. It was served as a
mission by different outside pastors until 1864. The congrega-
tion was organized by Rev. Otto Hanser of Boston, September
23, 1866, with a membership of ninety-seven. The first local
pastor was Eev. C. Graeber, who took charge in November, 1866.
The present building was bought in 1867, at that time owned by
the Methodist Episcopal Church. Eev. C. Graeber resigned in
August, 1869, after two and one-half years of work. His suc-
cessor was Eev. Simon, who remained about two years.
Eev. Frey had charge of the work from 1871 to 1875. Eev. N.
Soergel came to Eockville early in 1876 and supplied until 1882.
He was followed by Eev. C. A. Graepp, who served the congre-
gation from August, 1882 until May, 1888.
In 1884 a lot was purchased on Ward Street and a parsonage
In July, 1888, Eev. G. F. Hartwig, the present pastor, took
charge. During the following years a debt of $3,700 was paid
off, a pipe organ purchased and various other improvements
made when the church building was purchased, a store which
remained until 1891, was conducted in the basement. During
this year the basement was remodelled and fitted up for a Sun-
day School room, and other improvements made at a cost of
$3,400. In 1906 new church pews were installed, a stone wall
and iron fence erected and other repairs made on the church
property at a cost of $2,600. In 1907 a fine church bell was
donated by Mrs. Julia Paulsen.
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 75
The church building and parsonage are in good condition
and free from debt. The present membership of the congrega-
tion is four hundred and fifty communicant members, and the
Sunday- School has about two hundred scholars; Ladies* Aid
Society, seventy-two members and the Luther League, one
hundred and two members.
TRINITY GERMAN LUTHERAN CHURCH.
The Trinity German Lutheran Church was started in 1866 by
Rev. Otto Hanser, sent from Boston. It was refounded May 29,
1882. The first service was held on the 18th of June in that
year in the hall of the Rockville Hotel. The first church building
was erected June 3, 1883. A parsonage was built in 1895.
The pastors of the church have been : Rev. C. Graeber, 1866-
'69 ; W. A. Prey, 1872-'75; P. A. Soergel, 1875-85; Otto Hanser,
1886-'01; John Heck, 1901-'05.
Rev. Walter Von Schenk assumed the pastorate in 1906.
A parsonage was built in 1895. Among the improvements
made were the renovation of the interior of the church, cement
sidewalks, organ, organ motor and school hall.
There is a parochial day school connected with the church,
with fifty-two pupils and two teachers. The Sunday School has
one hundred and eight pupils and seven teachers.
The present membership of the church is five hundred and
twenty souls and two hundred and fifty communicant, or voting
A Ladies' Aid Society, Young People's Society and choir are
connected with the church, which is prosperous in every depart-
ment at the present time.
While they have not organized a church, several Rockville peo-
ple, believing in the Christian Science doctrine, hold meetings
every Sunday in Masonic Hall in the Fitch Block. These meet-
ings have been held in various halls for the past two years and
previous to this, for about seven months the meetings were held
at the home of Mrs. Carlos Doane on Village Street. The mem-
76 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
bers have banded together and the officers are : President, A. W.
Annis; secretary and treasurer, Mrs. Carlos Doane. Miss Ida
Martin is the first reader and Mrs. A. W. Annis is the second
reader. The attendance each Sunday runs from eighteen to
There are few, if any towns with a like population that have
a greater number of fraternal organizations than the town of
Vernon. Indeed, Vernon is especially remarkable for the
strength of the fraternal spirit and organizations. It is probable
that all the fraternities together include a goodly percentage
of the entire population of the town. Many of the societies
have handsome rooms, and the influence of this element in our
social and charitable life is incomputable. The oldest strictly
fraternal organization in the town is Fayette Lodge of Masons,
which was organized in October, 1825 in the William Morgan
Tavern in Ellington. It will thus be seen that Masonry in the
vicinity of Vernon is nearly as old as the town itself. On June
1, 1857, Fayette Lodge occupied for the first time its new hall
in King's Tavern, now the town almshouse. The Lodge was
reorganized in that year and Frank Winthrop Perry was made a
Master Mason, the first Master Mason ever made in the town of
Vernon. There are six living members of Fayette Lodge, who
have been Masons over half a century. They are Edward E.
Fitch of Burnside, Frank W. Perry of South Norwalk, Henry
W. Coye of Cottage City, Mass., E. Stevens Henry, A Park
Hammond and Lucius E. Thompson of this city. E. Stevens
Henry has been an officer of the lodge for over fifty years. The
lodge had furnished one grand master of the Grand Lodge of
Masons of Connecticut, Edward E. Fuller.
VAKIOUS INSTITUTIONS AND OEGANIZATIONS.
Vernon, for a town its size, has several institutions, some in
the embryo stage, but certain in the not far distant future to
take their proper place in' the life of the community and be-
potent factor in the development of
A captain of industry who worked
his own way to the topmost round
of the ladder. At his death he left
a fund of $100,000 for a Manual
JUDGE DWIGHT LOOM IS.
Christian Statesman — Distinguished
jurist — Prominent in National Life.
WILLIAM H. PRESCOTT.
Wfco Gave $50,000 for a City Hospital.
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERN 77
come a potent influence for good, making for the uplifting and
betterment of the people. Perhaps the foremost institution in
which the town takes greatest pride is the George Maxwell
Memorial Library, presented to the city on June 29, 1904, by
the Maxwell family, in honor of their father, and as a tribute
of affectionate remembrance to him, who had been a stalwart
figure in the religious, social and industrial world, one of earth's
true benefactors. The library building is a modern one and is
finely located on Union Street a few rods west of the Union Con-
gregational Church, Central Park and the business center and
nearly opposite the magnificent Maxwell homestead. It stands
high above the street, occupying land that was formerly two build-
ing sites, on one of which was the residence occupied for several
years by the deceased. A commanding feature of the structure,
which is built of marble, is the magnificent double flight of gran-
ite steps and the beautiful terraced grounds. Beautiful in
exterior and interior, equipped with all modern conveniences, it
is indeed an enduring memorial of one who loved Rockville and
all her institutions and who was beloved by all. It is a gift
which every part of the community shares. The library contains
10,164 carefully selected volumes. The management is vested
in the hands of the Rockville Library Association of which
Francis T. Maxwell is president; William Maxwell, secretary
and J. C. Hammond, Jr., treasure]-.
The present librarian is Miss Bessie Beckwith, who has several
capable and efficient assistants.
The magnificent generosity of the Sykes family insures a
manual training school for Rockville. At the death of George
Sykes, which occurred December 21, 1903, Vernon lost a citizen
who had been closely identified with her growth for over a third
of a century and allied with the city's largest and most success-
ful corporations. He left a fund of $100,000 for a manual
training school. Mrs. Elsie Sykes Phelps, wife of Hon. Charles
Phelps, the president of the Vernon Centennial Committee, pre-
sented a desirable site for the building on Park Street, and since
the death of Mr. Sykes, his widow has presented the trustees
with $50,000, without condition or restrictions, to be added to
78 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN"
the building fund. The latest gift received by the trustees, is
the sum of $25,000 from Mrs. Charles E. Bond of Hartford,
daughter of the late Mr. Sykes. This money is to be used by
the trustees as they see fit.
A city hospital, made possible by the Prescott family, William
H. Prescott, one of Eockville's captains of industry, having con-
tributed $50,000 before his death, aud the family having con-
tributed the site, the Gainer property on Prospect Street, will be
a reality at no distant day.
The Tolland County Agricultural Society was organized
August 22, 1853 at the County House in Tolland, by Jonathan
Flynt, who was then treasurer of Tolland county. Ephraim
H. Hyde was the first president. The fairs were held at Tol-
land for a few years and were then transferred to Eockvillle.
Mr. Hyde remained at the head of the society for a great many
years. When the park in Kockville was purchased, it was decided
to name it Hyde Park in his honor, in consideration of his valu-
able services. The entire amount of the premiums to begin with
did not exceed $350. Today they average from $1,200 to $1,300.
In 1898 the Tolland County Agricultural Society became a joint
stock corporation and the name was changed to the Rockville
Fair Association. The late Walter E. Payne was the first
president and E. P. Badmington the first secretary. Andrew
Kingsbury is president at the present time and Fred J. Oooley
is secretary. The annual fair is now recognized as one of the
biggest and best in the state.
The Tolland County Temporary Home for Children was
opened in November, 1883, at Andover, and Mrs. William T.
Smith was the first matron. In 1888, the Edwin Bill property
at Vernon Center was purchased and the Home was removed
there. Early in 1900 a start was made toward a new building,
which was dedicated on December 5, of that year. It
stands just at one side of the old one, is an imposing structure
of Colonial style of architcture and an ornament to the village.
Edwin Hick is superintendent, succeeding E. S. Talbot, who
served in that capacity for fifteen years. Mrs. Hick acts as
SUMMARY OF VERNON V HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 79
On November 18, 1876 property for a town farm was pur-
chased. In the early days of the town this property was a famous
tavern, known as King's Tavern. In a room in this tavern
Fayette Lodge of Masons had its first meeting place in Yemon.
The property has been improved from time to time, and today
it is recognized as a model town farm. Nelson Palmer was the
first superintendent. Gilbert Ahem is the present superinten-
No organization is doing a more effective work along patriotic
lines than Sabra Trumbull Chapter, D. A. E. Since its organi-
zation it has accomplished a world of good, not the least of which
was the inauguration in 1908 of the free evening school, now
under town support, where the city's foreign born population can
learn English and acquire the fundamental principles that are
essential to progress in education, which makes for good citizen-
ship and a law-abiding community. Other organizations which
deserve a passing notice are the Eesearch Club, the Cornelia
Circle, the Mothers' Club, the Teachers' Club, the W. C. T. IT.,
Salvation Army and Sunshine Society. In the business life of
the city no organization has exerted a better influence than the
Eockville Business Men's Association, which was organized eight
years ago with Edward A. Kuhnly, since deceased, as president
and Wilbur B. Eorster, also deceased, as secretary. The member-
ship at the present time is about one hundred and the president
is Harry C. Smith and William A. Howell is the secretary.
The town of Vernon has four modern cemeteries, three public
and St. Bernard's Cemetery. There was no movement for the
establishment of a cemetery in Eockville until 1817, when the
present grounds were purchased of David Hale, consisting then
of seven and one-half acres, and costing $398. No considerable
improvement in the grounds was made for twenty years. In
1867 additional grounds were purchased for cemetery purposes.
After this the changes were numerous, and the cemetery at the
present time is an attractive one, containing many handsome
monuments in marble and granite.
80 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN"
The other two comparatively modern cemeteries are Elmwood
at Vernon Center, and Mount Hope at Talcottville.
After Grove Hill Cemetery was laid out, the hearse, a one-
horse affair, covered, without glass panels, was kept in a house
near the gate and belonged to the town. It was the only one
in the town. When Albert Dart was selectman and the Met-
calfs built their shop on Market Street, he ordered them to take
charge of the hearse and furnish a horse and driver. But the
good people of Vernon had not been in the habit of paying for
the use of a hearse, and most of them gave up the plan and the
Metcalfs sold out their business. As near as can be learned
McCollum and James, successors to the Metcalfs, were the first to
procure a paid hearse.
The first monument in Grove Hill Cemetery was erected for
Of the early cemeteries, the one designated on the town rec-
ords as the East Cemetery, is the oldest. It is situated about
half a mile east of the spot, where Vernon's first meeting house
stood, on the road from Eockville to Bolton. It was laid out
a great many years before the first church was built, which was
in 1762. Probably the site of the church was selected partly
because of its proximity to the cemetery. There are many old
gravestones there and several graves without any stones.
Tradition says the first body buried there was that of a child,
who was killed by a fall from a load of goods near the very
spot. The goods were being moved by ox-team from Bolton.
The child was buried in the northeast corner of the cemetery.
There is no place of burial where, with more peculiar fitness, one
may quote the pathetic lines:
"Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."
Once the center of the parish, time has played strange pranks.
It is today "far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,"
removed from the haunts of men. Few go there, except the
curious, and those drawn by a desire to muse and be alone. As
we wander through this old graveyard and pause to read the
uncouth rhyme, under the rudely carved death's head on the
SUMMARY OF VERNON V HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 81
frail memorial of one of the early pioneers, we are bidden:
"Behold and see as you pass by,
As you are now so once was I,
As I am now so must you be,
Prepare for death and follow me."
Many of the fathers of the town, who helped make history in
the early days, and who have lived Godly and useful lives, are
buried in the ancient burying ground, among them being the
honored and saintly Ebenezer Kellogg, Vernon's first pastor,
who died September 3, 1817. The inscription on his stone reads:
"Kev. Ebenezer Kellogg died
September 3, 1817 in the 81st year
Of his age, and 55th year
Of his ministry in this place."
"In yonder sacred meeting house he spent his breath,
Now silent ; senseless, here he sleeps in death.
Those lips again shall wake and then declare,
A long amen to truths they published there."
Captain Moses Thrall, who was the first to settle on the tract
of land in the vicinity of this ancient burying ground in 1703,
was one of the pioneers in what is now Vernon Center. He
died August 21, 1770, and is buried in Vernon's ancient bury-
ing -ground. Daniel Thrall was one of the first sextons of the
historic old burying ground. His son, Ira Thrall, succeeded him,
and he was in turn succeeded by his son, Alfred 0. Thrall, who
is the present sexton. Their combined period of service extends
over one hundred years.
Vernon's other ancient burying ground is designated as the
Southwest Cemetery. It is located below Dobsonville.
St. Bernard's Catholic Cemetery was started about 1855. It
has increased in area by the purchase of additional land, and
numerous improvements have been made, until today it is a
credit to the town and to St. Bernard's parish.
82 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN"
EOCKVILLE AS A CITY.
For nearly fifty years after the incorporation of the town of
Vernon, the south part of the town, designated as Vernon, was
the "hub." Eockville was hardly a spoke in the wheel. Gradually
Eockville became the "hub" and Vernon was hardly a spoke in
As far back as 1861, when A. C. Crosby represented Vernon in
the General Assembly, there was talk of a change of govern-
ment, many citizens expressing a desire for a new form. A few.
were bold enough to think the opportune moment had arrived
for the adoption of a borough charter, and Mr. Crosby intro-
duced a bill for such a charter. He plainly discerned the hand-
writing on the wall and dropped the matter. For twenty years
or more Vernon continued to go along under the town system,
sentiment finally crystalizing for a change, it being everywhere
acknowledged that the town was too big and important for a
suit of borough clothes. Those who had given careful thought
and attention to the subject were firmly convinced that a suit
of city clothes would fit very nicely and be the proper thing,
and, accordingly, in November, 1888, an informal meeting was
held at the office of Town Clerk Gelon W. West for the purpose
of considering the advisability of a city charter. There was a
good attendance. Opposition developed, coming principally from
the manufacturers, and the first effort ended without any action
The sentiment for a city charter among the business men
continued to grow, and those who advocated a change felt success
was bound to come eventually. At the legislative session of 1889,
William B. Sprague of Andover, who was then a member of the
senate, introduced a bill, providing for a city charter for Eock-
ville. At the hearing, which was slimly attended, E. S. Henry
presented the matter before the committee on cities and boroughs.
The charter, which was patterned after the Danbury charter,
provided that the matter be submitted to the people. The
people in the south part of the town justly felt that Eockville
was an expensive proposition for them, and Eockville proper felt
that the time had arrived for extensive public improvements —
SUMMARY OF VERNOX's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 83
improvements it was impossible to get under the old order of
things. The need was felt for a paid police force to control the
hoodlum element, better lighting facilities and increased fire pro-
tection and the establishment of a modern sewer system, also the
establishment of building lines. These were some of the many ar-
guments that appealed with irresistible force fur a change in the
system of government. With the lower part of the town lined
up against paying Bockville's bills and Eockville expanding and
reaching out for more costly things, it is no wonder the vote for
a city charter when submitted to the people was passed. For
some time after the charter was adopted there was talk of
abandoning it, as the tax rate took a decided upward jump, but it
was nothing more than talk. A fact worth noting in connection
with the securing of the city charter is that it came at a mini-
mum of expense.
Under the city charter Samuel Fitch became the first mayor,
and following him came William V. McNerney and E. S. Henry,
all of whom served for two years each. E. L. Heath and William
H. Loomis served four years each. George Forster holds the
record for length of service, having served three terms of two
years each, and he was re-elected in December, 1909, for a fourth
term. Since the organization of the city government Eockville
has had but six mayors. All of the citizens who have occupied
the city's chief executive office are living at the present time with
the exception of Messrs. Fitch and Loomis.
With the acceptance of a city charter Eockville did away with
the justice system of trying case, as the new system of govern-
ment provided for a city court, giving it much wider jurisdiction
than the ordinary police courts, including the town within its
jurisdiction. The first judge of the city court was Gelon W.
West and the present officials are : Judge, John E. Fisk ; associ-
ate judge, John E. Fahey; prosecuting attorney, Thomas F.
N"oone; assistant prosecuting attorney, D. J. McCarthy; clerk,
Frederick Forster; probation officer, T. F. Garvan.
The city charter provides for a mayor and a Court of Common
Council, consisting of two boards. At the present time there
are four wards, each ward having one alderman and two council-
84 summary of vernon's history early and modern
men. They serve without compensation. The charter originally
made no provision for paying the mayor, but an amendment
was passed in 1905 allowing the mayor $300 per year. There
have been a few other amendments making slight increases in
the salaries of the court officials.
The county court was established in Tolland County in 1786.
The first presiding judge was Samuel Gilbert of Hebron. Before
1819 the county court consisted of one chief judge and four
justices of the quorum. After 1819, it consisted of one chief
judge and two associate judges. From 1838 there was but one
judge. Sylvester Gilbert was the first state's attorney and
Ephraim Grant was the first clerk. On July 1, 1855, the county
court was abolished. Sessions of the superior court are now held
in Tolland county, where civil and criminal cases are tried, the
court meeting for the purpose in September, December, April and
June. Numerous short calendar sessions are held during the
year. John H. Brockaway was the first state's attorney for Tol-
land County appointed by the judges of the superior and supreme
courts. Others following him were Dwight Marcy, Benezet H.
Bill and Joel H. Beed.
Charles Phelps is the present state's attorney of the county;
Joseph Bishop was the first clerk, and L. T. Tingier is clerk
of the court at the present time.
The story of the old days has no more entertaining anecdotes
than those of the first fire fighters. The first fire engine used
in Vernon has passed beyond recollection. The second one was
Hockanum No. 1, a button engine. This was housed for a time
where the present Rock Mill dyehouse stands, at that time owned
by the Leeds Mill. There was no organized company and the
machine did not receive proper care. The engine had two narrow
escapes from destruction by fire, the first coming at the time of
the Frank Mill fire September 20, 1851, and the second coming
when the Leeds Mill was burned in 1854. It was abandoned in
disgust. Following the Leeds Mill fire, there was an insistent
demand for better fire protection. The hat was passed around in
the various mills, contributions were asked for and about $1,500
was raised, two fire companies were organized and a new engine
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 85
was bought. It was known as the "Fire King." This old hand
engine is inseparably associated with the early history of Bock-
ville. Not even an entire chapter can give the reader a com-
plete idea of the fire fighting days "befo' th' wa'." Older resi-
dents now among us recall them. They were days that will live
long in memory — different from the fire fighting days of this
modern age, and, when contrasted with these days, bringing
vividly before us the wonderful changes time has wrought in fire
fighting methods. Electric wires were unheard of then. It was
lung power and the man who could '"holler" the loudest was the
best fellow. This would start the mill bells going and the
noise by those combined flesh and brass alarms was something
to strike terror to every inhabitant. Did anyone sleep through
these noises? Well, hardly; and almost everybody not sick in
bed was out to the fire, regardless of wind or weather. There
were no prosecutions for "ringing in" false alarms then, for no
false alarms were given, taking a strict view of the matter. What
matter if a few packing boxes or tar barrels did get ablaze in
some mysterious manner? There were no tramps about in
those days to lay the cause to. And it was the people who saw
these fires and imagined some house on fire who gave the alarm,
and with good intentions. Nobody was to blame. Besides, there
was no expense when the department was called out only occa-
sionally wounded feelings. The remuneration the fire laddies
received for yanking the old hand engine over the rough streets
and up and down the steep hills was the feeling that they had
done their duty. The engine burned no coal and there was no
fire police to pay.
Of the "false alarms" of long ago, it is only necessary to speak
of one. It was the king of them all, however. There are some
here in our midst today who remember it, and there are some
here, too, who dare insinuate that there are those who could tell,
by practical experience, the ins and outs of that false alarm. At
that time there was no common council to pay a detective for
looking up criminals. Indeed, there was no ordinance relative
to the matter. A lesson may have been learned from that inci-
dent, however, as it may be proper to assume that one or more
86 summary or vernon's history early and modern
of those '"'alarm ringers" may have seen service in the City
Council and in framing the present ordinance.
It was not long after old "Fire King" had been purchased.
The members of the fire department then, were the first men of
the village and they were proud of belonging to the department.
It numbered on its roster the Hammonds, the Winchells, the
Kelloggs, and all the leading citizens of the place. There was
great rivalry between the two companies. At that time the
Saxony Mill Pond was quite large. One very stormy night, in
January, 1858, with the snow piled two feet on a level, the old-
fashioned alarm "rung out" on the snowy air. Fire King boys
were ever ready for a contest. They ran, tugged, pulled and
puffed away for a weary mile — the longest mile they had ever
been up against in all their experience, and lo, and behold ! what
did they find? A huge pile of tar barrels and
boxes were blazing on the further corner of the pond.
One or two of the recognized leaders in the affairs of the town,
who were looked upon as pillars in the community, held high
their heads and offered a reward for the detection of the con-
spirators, the offenders against the sacredness of Eockville's
fire system. A wise-headed man, however, put his hand upon
the benevolent champion of law and order and suggested: "I
wouldn't do it, Captain, it might possibly hit too near home."
The incorporators of the Fire King Company, which was or-
ganized in 1854 in Butler Hall, the present editorial room of the
Leader, were : William E. Orcutt, Edwin P. Allen, A. C. Crosby,
Thomas Spence and Wells Symonds. Mr. Orcutt, who was the
first foreman of the company, the "firemen's friend," selected and
purchased the engine of James Smith of Brooklyn, N. Y. in the
spring of 1855. It was at that time considered a marvel of
mechanism. The engine was housed in the basement of the B.
H. Bill residence, which is now doing duty as a hotel in El-
lington under the name of the "Ellington Inn." In this house,
which at that time stood on Park Street, the company had two
rooms, one fitted up for a parlor. Under the articles of incor-
poration the company was allowed to own property to the amount
of $2,500 and to have a membership of sixty, and for years
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 87
the company had its full quota. The engine gave a fine account
of itself at the various firemen's musters about the country and
a feature of the early days in Yernon were the contests between
the Hockanum and Fire King boys.
Foreman of the Fire King Company following Mr. Orcutt,
were A. C. Crosby, N. H. Thompson, E. P. Allen, E. H. Dawson,
Charles E. Harris, J. W. Burton, George Millard, John Leach,
Nicholas Wendhiser, 0. C. West and James Fitzgerald, who was
the last foreman before the reorganization of the company.
The Hockanum Fire Company was organized in 1855 with
Carlos McKinney as first foreman. The other foremen up to
the time of its reorganization were Joseph Selden, A. Park
Hammond, Joseph Schofield, Carlos Tracy, William C. Avery,
P. G. Holt, William H. Jones, John Pitney, John Chapman and
The Hockanum Engine Company had a hall, where reunions
were held. Joseph Thompson was the first secretary of the
company and E. S. Henry the first treasurer. The foreman of
hose was S. A. Groves.
The Hockanum and Fire King engines were all the town had
for a period of thirty-five years. In 1889 there was agitation for
a better fire department and Crosley Fitton, George Sykes and E.
S. Henry were appointed a committee to purchase a steamer.
After a lengthy investigation they unanimously agreed upon a
rotary pump engine which was put in commission in the fall of
1889. Later a second one was purchased. When the old engines
went out of commission the Hockanum button engine was sold for
junk in exchange for fire supplies. "Fire King" was sold in 1891
to the Pawtuxet, E. I., firemen, who have proved themselves
worthy successors of the old Fire King Company, making a
great record with the machine.
Previous to the securing of a city charter, the town of Vernon
had several incorporated fire districts. The fire chiefs from the
earlier days up to the present time include : William E. Orcutt,
A. C. Crosby, 1ST. H. Thompson, Albert Dart, C. E. Harris, Lewis
Hunt, Joshua Wood, Nicholas Wendhiser, James Breen, Edward
Marshman, Gilbert Holt, John Wagner and John W. Hefferon.
88 SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN
The officers of the department are: Charles J. Scholl, chief;
E. Serbser, assistant chief; A. T. Dickinson, superintendent of
alarms; T. F. O'Loughlin, department physician;
There are two steamer companies, Fitton Steamer Com-
pany No. 2, and Fitch Steamer company, No. 3, a hose com-
pany, known as Hockanum Hose company No. 1, and a hook and
ladder company, known as Snipsic Hook and Ladder Company.
All the companies have their own houses and the paid firemen
on the rolls of the various companies, including officers and men,
The police force is one of Eockville's most modern institutions.
Indeed, it was one of the strong arguments for the adoption of
a city charter. In the early days of the town, there was no police
department. Constables, grand jurors and justices of the peace
preserved order, issued complaints and tried cases. For many
years in the early days of the town, George Talcott and E. S.
Henry acted as trial justices, and they did their duty fearlessly
and well, according to all accounts. Mr. Henry had an office
upstairs in his building and Mr. Talcott had an office fitted up
in his house. Prior to that time a trial justice would try a law-
breaker or violator in any convenient place the lawyer would
assign. Phineas Talcott, father of George Talcott, did most of
the trial justice work in the very early days of the town and
he attained fame and distinction.
Not until the city government was instituted was there a "cop"
in Eockville to molest or make afraid. Previous to this the po-
lice work was done by constables, who, while they wore a badge
and had plenty of authority, had no blue uniform with brass
buttons. It was under the administration of Mayor Samuel
Fitch, now deceased, that regular policemen and supernumer-
aries were appointed. The first regulars were William H. Cady,
Fred Einsiedel, D. W. Delaney and Jewett Collum. The first
supernumeraries were A. E. Barnes, Frederick, Harding, Frank
Davis and Fred Bauchman. William H. Cady was the first
captain of police, serving from 1890 until June 30, 1907, a
period of seventeen years. He dropped dead on that day at
12 :20 o'clock as he was crossing Central Park on his way to his
SUMMARY OF VERNON'S HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX 89
office in the police headquarters in the Memorial Building.
Apoplexy was the cause of his death. His career was character-
ized by faithfulness and fidelity.
By virtue of his office, the mayor is chief of police. The rules
and regulations of the department are vested in the hands of
the police committee of the City Council, appointed by the
Eockville's police force at the present time consists of a
captain, three regular policemen and five supernumeraries. E. J.
Kane, who received bis appointment by Mayor Forster
on July 30, 1907, as successor to the late Captain William H.
Cady, was appointed a supernumerary by Mayor E. S. Henry
in 1894 and promoted to be a regular patrolman on December 1,
1900 by the late Mayor William H. Looniis. He was acting
captain during the month of July, following the death of
Captain Cady. His career as the active head of the police force
of the city of Eockville, which was a notably successful one, was
ended by death on Friday. July 29, 1910. He died at the Hart-
ford Hospital following an operation. The entire city mourned
the loss of a faithful officer. His funeral, which was held at St.
Bernard's Church on Monday. August 1. was very largely attend-
ed, husiness being generally suspended for the occasion, citizens
in all the walks of life uniting to pay their respects to his mem-
On Tuesday, September 20, 1910, Mayor Forster announced
the appointment of Leopold Krause as captain to succeed the
late Captain E. J. Kane. Captain Krause was made a supernu-
merary in 1901 and promoted to be a regular patrolman in 1907.
The regular policemen at the present time are A. E. Barnes,
Joseph Forster, Jr., and S. J. Tobin. Owing to continued ill
health. Patrolman Forster has done very little duty, the various
supernumeraries taking turns filling his place.
The present supernumeraries of the police department of the
city of Eockville are Alfred Say, John Donovan, Eichard Shea,
William Clift and Moritz Kemnitzer. The city is free from vice
and there are few disturbances. Few cities in the countrv. with
90 SUMMARY OF VERNON^S HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN"
the cosmopolitan population Eockville has, are better policed or
have less disorder. Conditions are almost ideal and speak vol-
umes for the people who comprise the city's population. Eock-
ville is a thoroughly law-abiding communit}^.
Eockville is set, not on a single hill, nor on seven hills, like
ancient Eome, but upon a series of hills. Its situation is as pictur-
esque as many of the historic Old World villages. Located in the
highlands of Tolland County, it overlooks the famous Connecticut
Valley and presents a panorama of some of the most charming
landscape scenery to be found in New England. From the top
of Fox Hill, which is six hundred and ninety-three feet above the
sea level, a magnificent view of the city and surrounding country
for miles around can be obtained. The upper part of North
Park Street also furnishes a delightful prospect. With a good
field glass Mount Tom, Mount Holyoke, the State Capitol at
Hartford, and numerous other towns and villages can be seen
There are beautiful drives and good roads about the city.
During the past decade many sewers have been put in and con-
siderable curbing has been done. The septic system of sewage
disposal is one of the best in the country. The city is 16.7
miles from Hartford, 4.4 miles from Vernon, 109.4 miles from
Boston and 125 miles from New York.
The daily wants of Eockville are supplied by one hundred
stores, shops and markets. The people of a number of smaller
villages, including Vernon, Vernon Center, Talcottville, Elling-
ton, Tolland, Bolton, Quarryville, Coventry, Broad Brook and
Windsorville, all of which are within a radius of a few miles,
do considerable trading in Eockville. There are numerous hand-
some and substantial business blocks in the city, among the
number, the Prescott Block on Park Street, the Henry Build-
ing, at the corner of Park Place and Park Street, Eockville
National Bank Building, Exchange Block, Doane Block, Citi-
zens' Block, all in the center of the city, the Fitch Block
on Union Street and the Orcutt property on East
Main Street and Market Street, and the Turn Hall
property on Village Street. There is one first class
hotel, "The Eockville/' and several smaller hotels and two
SUMMARY OF VERNON 's HISTORY EARLY AND MODERN 9]
opera houses, or theaters. A feature that appeals to every
stranger, the tripled terraced streets, adds much to the beauty
in the center of the city. Located on Park Place, opposite
Central Park, is Eockville's Memorial Building, erected by the
town in 1889, in memory of the soldiers and sailors who fought
in the Civil War. It is a structure of character and dignity. It
contains a spacious public hall, capable of seating one thousand
persons, also the rooms of Burpee Post. G. A. B., the town and
city offices, superior court and bar library, probate office for
the Ellington District, which includes the towns of Vernon and
Ellington, and is presided over by Judge John E. Fahey, and
police headquarters and police court room. For a city its size
there are few, if any, that have so many costly and magnificent
residences. A very large percentage of the people own their
homes, which speaks well for people and community. The
telephone and telegraph facilities are first class. The assessed
valuation of the property in the town is $6,093,393, an express
business of $30,000 per annum is done and the freight business
in a year amounts to $200,000.
The geographical position of Eockville is such as to render
impossible the allotment of much space for parks, gardens, or
even a desirable location of the public streets. The city is by no
means destitute of public or private adornments of this kind.
There are three parks. Talcott Park, the largest in the city, the
gift of Phineas Talcott. was donated by him to the town in the
early fifties, and Central Park was donated by adjacent
land owners and laid out in its present shape in the early
seventies. This is in the very heart of the city on the main
thoroughfare. Although small in area, owing to the arrange-
ment of the streets, it presents a remarkably pretty picture and
attracts the attention of all strangers.
Nearly four score and ten years ago, even almost before the
Eockville of today proper had its birth, there was enacted at the
east end of the town a drama the real end of which was hardly
then completed. General Lafayette, the friend and former
protector of an embryo nation on a tour through this country,
honored Eockville by his presence, stopping for a few hours at
92 summary or vernon's history ancient and modern
the old King Tavern, now the town almshouse. On Thursday.
June 12, 1902, Lafayette Park and monument were dedicated
in memory of General Lafayette. The memorial is the result
of hard and persistent work of Sabra Trumbull Chapter, D. A. B.
of Eockville. It consists of a large, native boulder with appro-
priate inscription on a bronze plate. The boulder is located on
a small plot of land, which has been made into a park at the
intersection of Grove, East and South Streets, Hyde Avenue
and Coventry Boad.
GROWTH OF THE TOWN.
The growth of the town has been slow and substantial, rather
than showy and meteoric. The entire population was less than
a score of families in 1822, six of whom were Grants. In 1823
there were five families in the Eock District. In 1840 there were
six hundred inhabitants in the chain of little houses that clus-
tered about the mills. Up to the year 1841, so far as can be
learned, the people of Eockville were accustomed to getting their
mail at Vernon Center, which was the "Hub," being the only
voting place in the town and the center of business in general.
At this time Eockville was just beginning to put on its village
clothes. It had no hotels, it had no steam roads and no trolley
cars. The polling place for the town was in the conference room
of the Congregational Church at Vernon Center, which was
built in 1826. Everyone went there to vote until 1856, when
town and electors' meetings began to be held in alternate years
at Eockville and Vernon Center. In 1865 all such meetings
were transferred to Eockville. The population of the town of
Vernon in 1810, two years after it was incorporated, was 827; in
1820, 966; in 1830, 1,164; in 1840, 1,435; in 1850, 2,900; in
1860, 3,838; in 1870, 5,446; in 1880, 6,915; in 1890, 8,808; in
1900, 8,483; in 1910, 9,087. The figures of the thirteenth cen-
sus give Eockville city a population of 7,977. Nearly all nation-
alities are represented.
Lewis T. Skinner has the honor of being the oldest male
native of Vernon living. He was born January 23, 1823, and
is eighty-eight years old. The house he was born in stood
in the vicinity of the old meeting house at Vernon Center. He
SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX 93
was personally acquainted with twenty-five of the one hundred
and nine freemen of the town where it was incorpor-
ated in 1808. He resided in the town for thirty-five
years. He now lives on the edge of East Windsor
about a quarter of a mile from the Vernon town line. Up to
within the past few months he was remarkably spry and active,
getting outdoors every day and doing his regular farm work.
Mrs. Harriett K. Maxwell is the oldest female native of Ver-
non living. She was born May 2, 1823. She has lived in the
town all her life and is a wonderfully preserved woman and
unusually active for one her years, with keen mental perception
and enjoying excellent health. She is the widow of George
Maxwell, one of the pioneers of the town.
William Butler, who died December 18, 1910 had the dis-
tinction of having been in business for a longer period than any
man in the town — three score years. Among the business men
now living, who were in business previous to the outbreak of the
Civil War are the following: G. A. Groves, of Bradford, Pa..
Joseph Selden of Norfolk, Henry W. Gove of Cottage City,
Hudson Kellogg of Chicago ;E. S. Henry, H. B. Murlless, L. E.
Thompson, Francis B. Skinner, 0. C. West, P. E. Gorman.
Hugh Kernan, A. Park Hammond, Erank Grant. George Tal-
cott, Edgar Keeney, William P. Kobertson, Charles A. Ladd,
A. 0. Thrall, H. L. James, Henry Burke, J. C. Hammond. Jr.
and Dr. John B. Lewis, of Hartford.
Vernon (Bockville) has indeed reason to be proud of her
record at the end of her first century. A wonderful change has
taken place in the quiet little hamlet of a hundred years ago.
Then there were seven hundred souls, mostly Yankee farmers.
Today Vernon is nine thousand strong, with a reputation in
manufacturing that extends far and wide, reaching the high water
mark of excellence, being first in the states in the manufacture
of the finest worsted and woolen goods silk fish-lines and spool
sewing silks, the home of the Hockanum worsteds, Belding silks,
Kingfisher silk fish-lines and the parent mill of the United
States Envelope Company. The city operates nine hundred
94 SUMMARY OF VERXOX's HISTORY EARLY AXD MODERX
looms, thirty-five thousand spindles and five hundred braiders,
Thirty-four hundred hands are employed with a weekly payroll
of approximately $35,000, and a yearly output of one million
five hundred thousand yards of cloth. Surely Eockville lives up
to her name, the "Loom City," a city in which its looms of
industry are building honest riches ; a city whose hills loom into
the regions of pure air and invigorating health, crowned by good
old New England homes in which abide industry and integrity ;
a city whose achievements in all the pursuits of life and whose
contributions to the state and the nation stand high in the esti-
mation of the American brotherhood of municipalities. May we
continue to press forward, doing each duty as it presents itself,
placing our confidence "in the God of our fathers, from out
whose hand the centuries fall like grains of sand." What will
be the lot of those who will be here one hundred years hence, to
recall the origin and history of Vernon, is beyond our conception.
Our hope is that it will be as peaceful, as prosperous, and as
contented as our own.
President of General Committee, Vernon Centennial Celebration.
RESOLUTIONS AUTHORIZING CELEBRATION.
The following resolutions authorizing the centennial celebra-
tion by vote of the town were passed at a special town meeting
held on Friday evening, November 29, 1907, in the Town Hall:
Resolved — That the legal voters of the town of Vernon in town
meeting assembled, do hereby declare themselves in favor of an
"Old Home Week" celebration, to be held during some week in
the year 1908, which will appropriately mark the one-hundredth
anniversary of the town of Vernon, and that a committee con-
sisting of the board of selectmen of the town, the town treasurer,
the mayor of the city of Eockville, the president of the Eockville
Business Men's Association and Hon. Francis T. Maxwell, rep-
resenting the manufacturing interests of the town, be and they
hereby are appointed a committee with power to select fifteen
other residents of the town, representing its business and profes-
sional interests who, together shall form a committee of twenty-
two, and who shall have power to arrange for, direct and carry
out all plans for such celebration on such dates as they shall
select and which shall be considered most appropriate from every
standpoint: said committee shall have power to appoint any and
all additional committees and sub-committees in their opinion
necessary for the celebration.
Resolved — That a sum not to exceed $2,000 be appropriated
from the town treasury to be used for the expenses incurred by
the "Old Home Week" celebration during the centennial year of
the town, and that the town treasurer be, and he hereby is author-
ized to honor any and all orders from the treasurer of the general
committee for such amounts as the committee shall need from
time to time, not to exceed in the aggregate the amount appro-
priated by the town.
Resolved — That the city of Eockville be asked to do what it
can legally do to co-operate with the town through the mayor
and Common Council in making the celebration a success.
98 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
G E X EEAL COMMITTEE.
Charles Phelps, President.
Thomas F. Noone, Vice-President.
Joseph C. Hammond, Jr., Secretary.
Fred Woodhall, Assistant Secretary.
Parley B. Leonard, Treasurer.
Francis B. Skinner, John H. Zimmermann,
Paul Brache, George Forster,
Francis T. Maxwell, David A. Sykks,
Francis A. Randall, Francis J. Began,
George P. Wendheiser, John W. Hefferon,
Augustin B. Parker, Charles N. McLean,
C. Denison Talcott, Harry C. Smith,
Henry H. Willes, Moritz Kemnitzer,
INCEPTION AXD ORGANIZATIOX OF CENTENNIAL
Before any definite steps had been taken to celebrate the cen-
tennial of Vernon's incorporation as a political factor in the
commonwealth of Connecticut, the citizens of the town had
their attention called to the subject in an editorial which ap-
peared in the Rockville Leader on Friday, October 11, 1907,
entitled, "Let a Jubilee Mark Vernon's One Hundred Years of
Existence as a Town Xext Year." In the same issue an inter-
esting historical article, reprinted from the Vernon town records,
volume Xo. 1, appeared. From time to time there were fre-
quent references in the public prints and communications from
and interviews with prominent citizens during the latter part of
mo; and the forepart of 1908.
The first decisive step toward bringing about a big one-
hundredtb birthday party was taken by the Rockville Business
Men's Association on Friday evening, October 25, 190*. when
resolutions favoring the celebration, were unanimously adopted.
At an adjourned meeting of the general centennial committee
in the Council Chamber on Friday evening, December 27, 1!»CK.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 99
at 8 o'clock, with seventeen out of the twenty-two members in
attendance, organization was perfected by the election of the
following officers : President, Charles Phelps ; vice-president,
Thomas F. Noone ; secretary, Joseph C. Hammond, Jr. ; assistant
secretary, Fred Woodhall ; treasurer, Parley B. Leonard. Each
one received a unanimous vote.
Eealizing the magnitude of the project and feeling that haste
would make waste, the general committee in charge of the Vernon
centennial celebration took its time and gave careful considera-
tion to every phase of the subject. It was no easy task to deter-
mine the character and scope of the celebration and to fix dates
that would prove satisfactory from every standpoint. Before
deciding this question the general committee took special pains
to get in touch with public sentiment in so far as possible and to
find out just how the citizens of the town felt. Through inter-
views with citizens in all the walks of life, which appeared in
the Leader, some idea of what would prove satisfactory
dates was obtained.
Before definitely fixing the dates for the celebration, the
general committee met in the Council Chamber on Friday even-
ing, January 17, 1908, at which time the sub-committees were
announced as follows:
Finance — Francis T. Maxwell, C. Denison Talcott, John \\ .
Hefferon, Francis A. Randall, John H. Zimmermann.
Public Exercises — Thomas F. Noone, David A. Sykes, George
P. Wendbeiser, John W. Hefferon, Moritz Kemnitzer.
Invitations and Reception — Parley B. Leonard, George
Forster, Augustin B. Parker.
Advertising, Publicity and Printing — Francis A. Randall,
Harry C. Smith, Charles Backofen, George P. Wendbeiser.
Decorations and Illuminations — Fred Woodhall, J. C. Ham-
mond, Jr. and John H. Zimmermann.
Transportation — Paul Brache, H. H. Willes, F. B. Skinner,
Francis J. Regan.
Historical Addresses, Events and Relics — Joseph C. Ham-
mond, Jr., Francis T. Maxwell, Augustin B. Parker.
100 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
Piiblic Safety— Francis J. Kegan, Charles N. McLean, Henry
H. Willes, George Forster.
Sports — Fred Woodhall, George Forster, Francis B. Skinner.
Licenses and Privileges — David A. Sykes, Francis A. Randall,
George P. Wendheiser.
Executive Board — Charles Phelps, Thomas F. Noone, Joseph
C. Hammond, Jr., Fred Woodhall, and Parley B. Leonard.
Each sub-committee elected a chairman and secretary.
It was not until Friday evening, March 13, 1908, that dates
for the centennial celebration were fixed. At a largely attended
and enthusiastic meeting of the general committee, it was the
sense of all that the question of dates could not be delayed
longer. A friendly discussion took place and ideas were asked
for and given. Nearly all the members of the committee present
favored the month of June, owing to the fine weather conditions
that usually prevail at that time. It was unanimously voted to
hold the celebration from June 28 to July 4, inclusive. Having
determined the character and dates of the centennial, the sub-
committees lost no time in getting down to business. The mem-
bers were selected with great care, and with the idea of getting
those adapted to the work devolving upon them, and willing to
bend every effort and put forth all the energy they possessed
to make the event a notable and successful one. Meeting after
meeting was held and with scarcely an exception the members
of the various sub-committees put their whole hearts and souls
into their work, carrying out, in a manner that elicited the
heartiest commendation, the trust imposed in them by the people
of Vernon, and by their untiring activity, undaunted courage
and splendid enthusiasm, thoroughly stirring and arousing the
cordial support ;\]]t\ hearty co-operation of the people.
OPE X I \ ( ; ( ) F C E LEBRATION ; DEC( >RATIO X S AND
At last ! After mouths of preparation, of hard work, of en-
couragement and obstacles, of enthusiasm and misgivings, those
who had labored saw the fruition of their efforts, and the town
of Vernon entered upon its grand centennial celebration.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 101
Any one-hundredth birthday of a person or of a place is a
notable events and that of our town must live long in the mem-
ories of those who shared therein, and have permanent interest
for such as shall make Vernon their future home.
Naturally, the story of this historical event centers and circles
in and about the city of Kockvrlle. Here began, and here was
consummated the desire to mark the growth and progress of
Vernon by a scries of spectacles and exercises which should leave
a lasting record in the minds of the townspeople, and make a
worthy subject for preservation in type.
Doubtless the memories still freshest with those who can look
back upon the events of that week in June, 1908, are the recol-
lections of the decorations which transformed our streets and
open spaces into a stage-setting of more than theatrical splendor.
Private houses, public buildings, business places, all contributed
a lavish share to the total effect of beauty and carnival-like
gaiety. Never before had Rockville's natural scenic advantages
been so utilized and enhanced by the tasteful touch of Art.
If the daylight effects were inspiring, those of evening and
night were thrilling. Myriads of many-colored lights, outlining
buildings, festooning streets and parks, made up a veritable
"blaze of glory." Especially worthy of mention were the bril-
liant effects seen about Central Park. Here were erected Ionian
columns, their white gracefulness crowned with gilt; and festoon-
ed from pillar to pillar, shone thousands of electric bulbs. A
pretty effect was obtained about the fountain in Park Place
by twining the four lamp-posts with laurel.
Memorial Hall, as was fitting, was made a chief feature in
the scheme of decoration, over the main entrance shining the
word "Centennial," flanked on each side by the figures "1808"
and "1908," respectively, the seal of the state being also outlined
in bulbs of red, white, and blue.
First and foremost in the sentiments expressed by the decora-
tions was that of "Welcome." This heart-stirring word was of
frequent appearance by day and night, and sounded the key-
note of the whole week's festivities.
102 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
Many were they who responded to the home-call, and t'oundf
that "welcome" was indeed the common salutation to all home
comers. Indeed, to this day, we think and speak of that time-
as "Old Home Week."
On the Sunday of June 28th, special services in all of the
churches marked the preliminary approach of the real celebra-
tion. Pastors of all denominations united in presenting to their
people some thoughts of special appropriateness to the occasion.
Music, too, was a large factor in putting the minds of the people-
in tune with all the harmony and delight manifested within and
without. Without in any way slighting the value and enjoy-
ment of other musical performances, it seems worthy of special
remembrance that the centennial service of the Union Church
was the occasion of presenting Haydn's magnificent oratorio,
"The Creation." It was indeed a fine contribution to the prog-
ress of Vernon in a musical sense.
Perhaps the honor of inaugurating the celebration proper
remains with the Gesang and Declamation Club. Just before-
midnight of Saturday night, this association assembled in Central
Park and sang "Forward the Light," and "Milage Dear."
Thus commenced that season of many delightful happenings
which were crowded into the next few days.
COMMEMOEATIVE EXEECISES AT YEKNOX CEXTEIL
"Back to Vernon Center !" That might well have been the cry
which stirred the people of Vernon town on Monday, June 29,.
1908. Such, at all events, was what took place. From all points,.
towards the old Mother Church, the historic Congregational
Church of Vernon Center — traveled crowds of people interested
in the literary exercises of the day. For here was to be heard
related that long train of events which had found their cul-
mination in this one-hundredth anniversary. Within the walls,
of this old church gathered descendants of those sturdy and
God-fearing men and women, who, by their faith and their
works, laid the foundations of our present-day society, both
church and community.
CEXTEXXIAL EXERCISES 103
Ex-Representative Henry H. Willes, master of ceremonies,
conducted the exercises. Mr. Willes briefly welcomed those
present, thanked the centennial committee for doing the old
village the honor of having the exercises on that historic spot.
and assured everyone present of his and the townspeople's ap-
Following the invocation by Rev. C. E. McKinley of the
Union Congregational Church of Rockville, there was an address
of welcome by Parley B. Leonard, first selectman of the town
M r. Leonard spoke as follows :
•ClTIZEXS OF VERXOX AND 1XVITED GUESTS :
We are here today to celebrate the one-hundredth birthday of
the town of Vernon, and as this spot was the center of the town
for many years, it is very fitting and appropriate that these
•exercises should take place as planned. I do not propose to tell
jou what happened one hundred years ago, or the many changes
that have taken place during the time, as we have with us today
able speakers who will address you along these lines.
Your committee in charge has arranged a very attractive
program for the entire week. Yesterday, religious services were
held in all the churches, and it was an event long to be remem-
bered. There will be attractions in Rockville day and night
•during the week, and every day will be a big day. All roads
will lead to Rockville, and the gates of the city will be wide
open. All are welcome; there is no division line, as to you and
jour ancestors is due the credit for the growth and prosperity of
-our beautiful town.
Come and be with us as much of the time as possible, for this
is our home, and we want to keep the record we have already
obtained of having as good a home as anyone. Your presence
will help to make the week enjoyable, and it will go down into
history as one of the most notable events that ever took place in
In behalf of the committee, I thank you for the interest and
enthusiasm you have shown here today. We not only welcome
jou, but urge you to continue with us the entire week.
104 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
Following Mr. Leonard's address, the act of the general as-
sembly creating the town of Vernon was read by Town Clerk
Francis B. Skinner. The following is a true copy of the record :
"Upon the Petition of Oliver King and Saul Alvord, of Bolton,
in the County of Tolland, agents for said town of Bolton, in
their own names, and in the names and behalf of the rest of the
inhabitants of said town of Bolton, shewing to this Assembly
that said town is about eleven miles in length from North to
South, and from three to five miles in width from East to West,
and is divided into two ecclesiastical societies, and that from the
situation and circumstances of the inhabitants of said town, the
same ought to be divided into two towns by the society lines;
and that all questions respecting the debts, poor, bridges, and all
matters, which might arise in consequence of a division of said
town, have been amicably settled and adjusted, — Praying for an
Act of Assembly to divide said town as aforesaid and to allow
each town one representative only, — as by Petition on file dated
the 3d day of May, A. D. 1808.
"This Petition was brought to the General Assembly hoi den at
Hartford in May last, and thence by legal continuance, to this
Assembly, with an order to advertise notice of the pendency of
the same, which order has been complied with and no opposition
being made against the Prayer of said Petition and the facts
stated in the same being proved, — ■
"Besolved, By this Assembly, that the inhabitants living within
the limits of the society of North Bolton, in said town of Bolton,
be and they thereby are incorporated into and made a town by
the name of Vernon; and that they and their successors, inhabi-
tants within said limits, are, and shall forever remain a town
and body politic with the rights, privileges and immunities to
other towns belonging, excepting that they shall elect only one
representative to the General Assembly and the lines and limits
of said society shall be the lines and limits of said town of
"And it is further resolved, that said town of Vernon shall
hold their first town meeting at the meeting house in said Vernon
on the third Monday of November next, at two o'clock in the
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 105
afternoon, to choose their town officers for the year ensuing, —
and said meeting shall he warned by posting a notification to
that effect on the sign-post in said Vernon ten days before said
third Monday of November, which notification shall be signed
by Oliver King, Esquire, who shall be the Moderator of said
meeting; and in case the said King shall fail to perform the duty
hereby assigned to him, the same may be performed by any
other justice of the peace in any town adjoining said town of
Vernon. — ■
"And it is further resolved, that said town of Bolton shall
hereafter elect no more than one representative to a session of the
"A true copy of Record, examined by
Vocal selections by the school children, under the direction
of Prof. T. William Sturgeon, were a pleasing feature of
the exercises, preceding the reading of the historical essay pre-
pared by C. Denison Talcott; reminiscences by Captain C. W.
Burpee of Hartford; commemorative poem by Pro lessor Thomas
D. Goodell of New Haven, and commemorative address by Bon.
Charles Phelps. Each of these notable contributions will be
found printed in full.
Just before the close of the exercises at the church, Rev. C: E.
McKinley, pastor of the Union Congregational Church, Rock-
ville, arose and said that he desired to make a motion, and that
was, that the congregation, before it leaves, show its appreciation
of the old church at Vernon Center and the village, by subscrib-
ing to a fund to rebuild the church steeple. The motion did not
want for seconders. Pastor McKinley gave an impetus to the
movement by making a very generous contribution himself. Ex-
Representative H. H. Willes, master of ceremonies, made a few
remarks, saying how pleasing such a suggestion as Mr. McKinley
had made would be to the people. He announced that he would
give $100 toward the object himself. Rev. C. E. McKinley
temporarily assumed charge and called for subscriptions. The
sum of $260.00 was secured from among those present. After
106 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
the exercises Mr. Willes went among the people and succeeded
in getting additional contributions, which brought the total
amount up to $800.00. At the present time only a few hundred
dollars more are necessary to raise the sum. of $2,500.00, the-
amount necessary to restore the spire.
The literary exercises closed with the benediction by Rev. E.
Payson Hammond of Hartford. Before pronouncing the bene-
dict ion he made a few appropriate remarks, referring to the many
years he bad lived in Vernon and of the many times he had
preached in the pulpit of the Vernon Center Congregational
Church, of the numerous prayer meetings he had attended and
the great interest and enjoyment he had taken in them all.
After the literary exercises in the church were over, there was-
a social gathering on the beautifully kept lawn with selections
by Ulivieri's Band of Florence, Italy. Refreshments were also-
HISTORICAL ESSAY BY C. DEXISOX TALCOTT.
Following is the historical essay, which was written for
the occasion by C. Denison Talcott of Talcottville, and read
by him :
You have come today into this house of worship to hear
recounted the glories of our beloved Vernon. This build-
ing itself, in which we are assembled, teems with the hal-
lowed memories of the fathers that are gone. For those
who have reached a ripe old age, it will be impossible for
me to lend a coloring to events which can be satisfactory
or compare with living experience. I only hope that as the
more important triumphs are passed in review, you will
picture them yourselves, anew, in your minds, and out
of this reveries supply those details which must otherwise
be lacking. For those in middle life who have come from
distant lands and made their homes within the boundaries
of this town, I shall endeavor to dwell upon those early
struggles, by reason of which it has been possible to re-
ceive so many, and having received them into our strength
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 107
and fellowship, to mould a noble body politic — our pre-
vious possession today. For us, younger voters, there can
be from a reflection upon the hundred years that have
passed but one effect — an abiding" inspiration.
Eighteen hundred and eight is the year towards which
our minds are turning today. On the second Thursday of
October, 1808, by an act of the General Assembly of the
state of Connecticut, a section of the town of Bolton was
set off and incorporated into the town of Vernon. Possibly
many of you have wished that this town had not been set
off from another, but had entered the county along with
the other towns, in 1785, the time when the county of Tol-
land was set apart as one of the principal divisions of the
.state. Contrary to this idea, I believe that the creation of
Vernon by a special act of the Legislature reflects the highest
possible credit upon those who constituted her citizens. All
districts required a separation originally, and the fact that
the townspeople of North Bolton were so aggressive and
resourceful as to be recognized by the state government at
that early time, accounts in no small measure for the leader-
ship in the county which Vernon enjoy so pre-eminently
The early settlers, previous to 1808, were attracted by the
power of the two streams now familiar to us all as the
Hockanum and the Tankarooson. To follow these waters
through an undisturbed wildness of a thousand years was
no mean task. In fact, land companies, acting as proprie-
tors, were formed by leading citizens of the Connecticut
Valley, for the purpose of developing and creating town-
ships in just such a wilderness as was Tolland County at
that time. The towns of Bolton, Tolland and Union were
opened and established by companies of this sort. How
was it with Vernon ? To Samuel Grant of Windsor, we
give honor for that undaunted spirit which made him the
•clear possessor of the land upon which the city of Rock-
ville is built today. Mr. Grant was the owner of between
five hundred and six hundred acres of land in North Bolton,
108 n:\ 'n:\M.\L exercises
but being" a non-resident and having no particular interest
in the plans of the proprietors of that township, he was
induced to swap off his original farm for the rugged lands
now so luxuriant with wealth. This transaction was due
solely to the courage and vision of a fearless pioneer. April
29, 1726, Mr. Grant took possession and erected the first
dwelling house near the corner of Union and West streets.
In those primitive times the great and most natural needs
soon started the saw and grist mill. Nearly, if not the first,
dam across the free waters of the Hockanum. was built by
the Payne family and was located on the present Minter-
burn privilege. From 1730 on the Grants and Paynes made
use of the abundant power, produced the necessary lumber,
and took care of the grinding of the crops.
The question naturally comes to us. "Did these stalwart
explorers never meet the Indian?" The historian is of
the opinion that this section was used as a hunting and
fishing ground, but was probably never a regular abode of
the red man. In 1675 by the will of the old Sachem Joshua,
son of Uncas, the northern hunting grounds w'ere trans-
ferred to the white men of the Saybrook plantation. This
was the final trumpet, and accomplished for Connecticut, at
least, the "Last of the Mohicans." An extract from this
old Colonial record reads as follows : "I give and bequeath
all that tract of land lying from the mountains in sight
of Hartford, northward to the pond called Shenaps." Shen-
aps is a confusion of Schenipset, our Snipsic, just as Mohi-
can and Mohegan are applied to the Indians of the Hudson
and of Connecticut, although one race. Not only by this
reference to Lake Snipsic from the will of an old Indian
chief, but by arrow heads and other relics, we know that
the red men at least encamped temporarily, during their
summer excursions, in this territory of Vernon. From 1675,
moreover, we are likewise sure that their influence and ac-
tivity ceased. It is perfectly safe to say, therefore, in
answer to the query — did the early settler never meet the
Indian? — that by 1725, the date of the arrival of Samuel
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 109
Grant, there were scarcely more traces of the red man to be
found than there are today.
The rude, one-story cabin, the primitive mill, the rough,
hard clearing, enveloped by nature, irresistible, impassable,
silent, yet slowly but surely vanquished by the sinewy arm
of the man of faith, this is the scene from 1725 to the close
of the eighteenth century.
What shall we say of the primal virtues of our fathers?
What was the moulding force, the sustainer of faith and
hope? On November 24, 1762, Rev. Ebenezer Kellogg ac-
cepted the call of the church in North Bolton, to settle in
the work of the Christian ministry. As the North Bolton
Society occupied the same territory as our town of Vernon,
we are right in speaking of "Sir. Kellogg as the first pastor
of the First Church of Christ in Vernon. This pastorate
was alike unique for its extreme length as well as for its
far-reaching and abiding effect. For fifty-five years Mr.
Kellogg labored without interruption in the ministry of this
one church. During this long period not only did many of the
early members themselves become preachers, but. through
the spirit of migration which sent far and wide fully half of
the population of the town, the benignity of this first pastor
was shed throughout every northern state. Flow better
can we speak of this remarkable character, simple, yet so
sublime, than by a few of his own words on the fiftieth anni-
versary of his ordination : "Time in its nature is fleeting.
It bears all the living along with it. As to myself, the time
of my departure is near at hand. And in view of the pros-
pect of that solemn day, I am supported with a believing
hope that I trust in my all-sufficient Savior, and that I
have not labored altogether in vain among you." This
benign and peace-loving nature was the source of the faith
and hope of the fathers. Of the Puritan mind like their
pastor, our ancestors reflected every Puritan tradition. The
idea, foremost in the minds of all, was the call to the serv-
ice of religion. They were remarkably united and content,
and next to their anxiety to know the right, and do it, was
110 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
a like fervency and loyalty toward the government. In
conclusion the theory of their lives is clear — -not how much
they might he ahle to get out of the society of their fellows,
but rather how best they could give of themselves to the
well-being of all.
In 1789 North Bolton was enlarged more than a third by
the annexation of a section of the town of East Windsor.
This section had long been a part of the North Bolton
Ecclesiastical Society, but had not been formally incorpo-
rated as a part of the township. From this union of terri-
tory was derived, virtually, the boundaries of our town of
We come now to the formative period of our manufac-
tures, the development of which has drawn so large from
the best of our life blood, and has given us in return so
great a dividend of honor and respect.
The first machinery for carding and spinning was built
by John Warburton. Mr. Warburton came from England
in 1794, and shortly after located on the privilege now held
by Talcott Brothers. Here, after much preparation, were
manufactured the first stocking yarns and thread. The his-
torian makes mention in particular of the liberal and unique
hospitality of Air. Warburton. On the highway a hogs-
head of Jamaica rum was kept on tap in an open shed,
free to all. Your historian feels safe in saying in general,
that whatever rum comes into Talcottville today does not
-come from Jamaica. Near the present iron bridge there
still remain the two brick houses built by Mr. Warburton.
In 1809 the Warburton property was bought by Alexander
McLean, Lebbeus B. Tinker, Irad Fuller and Colonel Fran-
cis McLean. L'nder Alexander McLean's leadership the
property now became known as McLean's wool-carding
plant. In one part of this plant Peter Dobson made his first
preparations for the spinning of cotton. Together with Ches-
ter King and James Chapman, he bought the privilege now
occupied by the Ravine Mills Company. By the spring of
1811 a mill was completed and two mules of one hundred and
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 111
ninety-two spindles each were in operation. Mr. Dobson, as
the first to assemble the yarns and develop the art of weav-
ing, may rightly be called our first manufacturer. He was not
only a natural mathematician, but a practical draughtsman
as well. He both made his designs and constructed his ma-
chinery — a rare combination of genius. Think how la-
borious were those first efforts ! Much of the raw stock
was carded at McLean's, then spun by Dobson in his own
mill, afterwards put out by him to housewives for weav-
ing, and finally sold to peddlers, owing to opposition to all
goods of American make.
How now do we connect these first attempts of Dobson
in southern Vernon with the beginning of manufacturing
in Rockville? Up to 1811 Dobson's yarns had been used
especially to meet the primal needs of the home — shirtings,,
sheetings, ginghams, tablecloths. All these fabrics were
woven on cumbersome looms with the simplest possible
weave. In this year. 1811, Delano Abbott, a farmer living
not far from Vernon Center, consulted Peter Dobson with
regard to a sample of woolen cloth which had particularly
attracted him. Mr. Abbott made up his mind to manu-
facture this cloth. He persuaded Mr. Dobson to build
the necessary machinery, and in 1812, in a building close
to his house, produced the first piece of satinet. The cloth
was carried to Simeon Cooley's to be fulled and finished.
This clothing works was located near the old Payne privi-
lege on the site of a traditional iron works — clearly a con-
siderable distance from Mr. Abbott's homestead. To the
vision of Delano Abbott and to his faith to act upon what
he saw, we are indebted for the beginning in Vernon of
the regular manufacture of woolens. Two years later, in
1814, encouraged by the success of Mr. Abbott, a nephew
of his, Ebenezer Xash, built a small mill on the old Hocka-
lmiii Site. This effort of Mr. Xash was the start of manu-
facture in Rockville.
For some years Colonel Francis McLean had fostered many
and varied enterprises. He was a man of great mental vigor
112 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
and the possessor of an indomitable will. In his youth
there was evident this same intensity of character. Work,
heavy and constant on his father's farm, developed a phy-
sique of great power. Referring to his military service, the
Colonel remarks : "At 18 years old I became a soldier, then
was chosen corporal, then a sergeant, orderly sergeant, en-
sign, lieutenant, captain, major, and at last colonel." He
adds : "I went up too fast from one office to another for
my good." This was the caliber of a leading spirit — gen-
erous, high-minded, and firm in principle. Such nobility be-
came the bulwark of the early institutions of our town. In
1821 Colonel McLean, George and Allen Kellogg and Ralph
Talcott organized for the regular manufacture of satinets.
They erected a building 80x30 and three stories high, on the
present Rock Site. This structure loomed up so mightily
and was actually so much larger than anything previously
attempted, that to the inhabitants it appeared indeed a posi-
tive prodigy. This was a real factory, in fact, the first
that might properly be called by that name. It was called
the Rock, because of the many great rocks thereabout, and
the name of Rockville followed naturally from the name
of this first factory. We have mentioned George Kellogg
and Allen Kellogg as two of the proprietors of this mill.
Another brother, Nathaniel O. Kellogg, a few years before,
in 1817, bought the Warburton privilege in southern Vernon
which McLean had operated as a wool-carding plant. Here
Mr. Kellogg added spinning and weaving equipment for
the manufacture of the same cloth — satinet. Hence the
early development of this new industry was almost simul-
taneous at both extremities of the town.
In 1821, when the first Rock Mill was completed, the scat-
tered population was hardly fifty persons all told. At least
a third of these were Grants, descendants of the pioneer,
and from them Colonel McLean purchased the land neces-
sary for the new mill. The surrounding country was in real-
ity the forest primeval. In 1823 there were only two dwell-
ings in the vicinity of the Rock Mill, and these necessarily
THOMAS F. NOONE,
Vice-President Vernon Centennial
Committee and Chairman of Com-
mittee on Public Exercises.
J. C. HAMMOND, JR.
Secretary. .Member Committee on De-
corations and Member of Committee
on Historical Addresses, Events and
PARLEY B. LEONARD,
Treasurer General Committee. Mem-
ber of Committee on Reception and
Assistant Secretary of General Com-
mittee, Member of Committees on
Decorations and Sports.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 113
served for owners and workers alike. All at that early time
felt not only the need of keeping shoulder to shoulder, but
I believe, possessed a spirit of affection, a real brother-
hood, which might well be a lesson for us today, in the
complexity of our modern life.
Up to 1826 the only changes worthy of note were within
the mill itself. The most significant improvement was the
introduction of power looms executed from the designs of
Lewis Beach and William T. Cogswell, later the author of
"The History of Rockville." The process of spinning like-
wise was simplified by the adoption of the spinning jack.
These mechanical improvements had a revolutionary effect
both on the general business of satinets and the rapid in-
crease of the inhabitants. The actual number of families
was thirteen. Two hundred yards in a twelve-hour day. this
was the new record for the Rock Mill in 1827. The popula-
tion likewise increased a third. A new house for Mr. Kel-
logg, and a reorganization of the mill company, with a much
larger capital, under the name of the Rock Manufacturing
Company, these were the signs of advancement.
Another event, signalling the growing wealth and ambi-
tion of the community, was the building by the church in
Vernon of a new meeting house. This new house of wor-
ship was dedicated on April 4. 1827, and is the present edi-
fice in which we are gathered. Regularly on the Sabbath
the people of the Rock District attended the services of
this First Church of Christ. In fact, "the most notice-
able sight of the day was the large team wagon of the
Rock Company with four horses, driven by John Chapman,
Jr., full loaded with girls from the Rock Factory." The
spirit in which this building, as well as many others, was
raised, shows us how remarkably universal was the license
of the early part of the century. Honorable men could
see no evil in drink, even the pastors indulged themselves
freely on festive occasions. The prevailing idea seemed to
be that liquor was always a benefit, indeed, it became
a panacea for every ill. We must remember that these were
114 CENTENNIAL EXESCISES
times of great hardihod and self-sacrifice. The logic was
simple. Here were the crops, close by were the distilleries.
If comfort were so easily forthcoming, why should they not
have it? Yet, out of that age of well-meaning license, there
arose a company of men, remarkable in temperance and
wonderful in virtue.
Colonel McLean was continually interested in some new
enterprise. Following the old Rock, he built the Frank
Factory, close to the site now occupied by the James J.
Regan Manufacturing Company, then an oil mill at the New
England bridge, and at length a paper mill near the present
Belding privilege. He likewise did considerable surveying,
particularly in the laying out of new roads. These varied
undertakings became so pressing that in 1831, Colonel
McLean closed his relations with the old Rock. George
Kellogg naturally succeeded as the head of the company.
In contrast to the marvelous achievement of Colonel
McLean as an engineer, Mr. Kellogg presented an equally
remarkable power. He was an aggressor and a sustainer, in
truth — -an enduring force. As founder of the New England
Mill in company with Captain Allen Hammond, he shared,
when one considers those troublesome times of '37, a confi-
dence truly unique. A mind of rare discrimination, a sublime
morality, a constant energy, we today do honor to the char-
acter of George Kellogg, consecrated in truth, "To the weal
of man and the glory of God." In that same year, 1837, a
committee of nine was appointed to procure a site and affix
a stake for the Second Church in Vernon. This action was
taken because the population had steadily increased, and
was now more than sixty families, or three hundred persons.
The cost of this new meeting house was met by voluntary
subscription, and was necessarily borne by a few individ-
uals. We know that George Kellogg was one of the first
deacons of this church, we know also that he possessed
the crowning virtue of all noble characters — true generosity.
We may. therefore, rightly and in more senses than one,
call him the "Father of the First Church in Rockville."
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 115
Mention has already been made of Captain Allen Ham-
mond and his connection with the New England Mills. Mr.
Hammond belonged to that group of sterling citizens, who,
in recalling with honor today, we but exalt and honor our-
selves. Of an unassuming nature, persistent in principle, he
became a guiding spirit of every honest impulse, a vital
force ever pointing upward. In addition to his associa-
tion with the New England Company, Mr. Hammond was
for a time agent of the Rock Company, also an organizer
and first president of the Rockville National Bank, as well
as treasurer of the savings bank. Through this relationship
to the last-named institutions, the character of Mr. Ham-
mond is revealed in its truest and most perfect light. To
•distinguished probity there was added that charm of real
greatness — unaffected modesty.
All the manufacturing companies, except during the gen-
eral depression of 1837-'38, had an excellent record. Among
the small, one-set mills, the Springville Company was espe-
cially notable for continuously handsome dividends. The
directors of this company were unusually practical men —
Alonzo Bailey, agent: Chauncey Winched, wheelwright;
Christopher Burdick, machinist, and Phineas Talcott, later
founder of the American Mill. Up to the year 1840, the
several districts were recognized by the names of the va-
rious mill companies. In 1841 the first post office was estab-
lished and the name Rockville adopted. Samuel P. Rose,
agent for the Rock Manufacturing Company, became the
first postmaster. The New York and Boston stage (we
must remember these were still the days of stage coaches),
now made its regular trip through Rockville. At length,
after twenty years of earnest struggle, nature had yielded
her supremacy, farmers had graduated to manufacturers, a
settlement had given place to an ordained village.
From this time on there was in every direction a rapid
expansion. In 1843. on land offered by the Rock Company,
Samuel P. Rose and Hubbard Kellogg built the first hotel.
Before this time there had been no suitable meeting place
116 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
for the development of the general social side of life. So
great was the satisfaction, therefore, on the completion of
this first public house, that a great festive gathering was
held, and our fathers and mothers regaled themselves in a
way, judging from the records, easily equal to any idea of
gaiety that we may pride ourselves on today — not so sci-
entific, perhaps, but fully as robust. In that same year,
1843, the New England Company, in a new mill, began the
manufacture of cassimeres, the first departure from the
time-honored satinet. Rockville began to assume the form
in which we see it today. One store established in 1833,
was no longer sufficient. Houses multiplied and there was
heralded the first real boom in real estate.
The year 1847 witnessed the building of the American
Mill by Phineas Talcott. Mr. Talcott was distinctly a man
of affairs. As agent of the Rock, president of the railroad
company and of the savings bank, he was another example
of the powerful virtues of our fathers. In the realm of
politics, his temperament, eminently judicial, carried him to
the principal offices, and made him always a factor of very
great influence. Shortly after, in 1850, the firm of White
and Corbin was organized. Cyrus White possessed a re-
markable energy, and was largely interested in the develop-
ment of the Brooklyn side of the Hockanum. As a supporter
of the Methodist denomination, his firmness of principle and
truth of heart was continuously manifest.
The first Irishman came to Vernon as early as 1845, and
the German a few years later. So large has been their in-
crease and so prominent their work in the township, that
we are glad to do honor today to the Irish and German
immigrant, through whose thrift and integrity Vernon truly
has builded well.
During those years of darkness from 1861-'64, when times
were troubled, and days and hours were racking to the soul ;
in that great war of the Rebellion, Vernon cheerfully yielded
her portion to the service of the nation.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 117
Of modern Vernon and the noble lives that have been
lived, men whose memories are still fresh in our minds,
and whose passing calls back again regrets still lingering,
of these, today, how shall we speak with proper honor or
with sufficient thankfulness? Editors, merchants, farmers,
the professions, artisans, manufacturers — think, for a mo-
ment, of the long roll of honor ! Permit me to make mention
of three whose names stand forth with peculiar luster:
Dwight Loomis, Christian statesman, impartial judge ;
George Maxwell, master of finance, leader of men ; George
Sykes, manufacuring genius, captain of industry. These
men and many more fought great battles of faith. As we
turn our eyes toward the future, let me suggest a simple
watchword united to the fair name of our town, and to
bring these lines of reflection to a close with the words:
"Forward ! Vernon !"
113 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
REMINISCENCES BY CHARLES W. BURPEE.
The following reminiscences were by Charles W. Burpee
of Hartford, a former Rockville boy:
There were missionaries in those days. To help some
of them, we bought chestnuts, each nut in a cute little
phial, corked in. I came across one of those chestnuts a
while ago, in my mother's attic. The chestnut was just
as good as it was when I gave five of my precious pennies
for it, and denied myself cornballs and soap bubbles for
a week. Then the bottled chestnuts were photographed
and we gave a few pennies more — or the price of a bag of
precious peanuts — for the "carte de visite."
Thus we paid for those actual chestnuts and so helped
a worthy cause. Other "chestnuts" were given to us and,
true to the law of human nature, I don't think we appre-
ciated them half as much. They were given to us from the
pulpit of a Sunday — I should say, from recollection, about
once in two weeks, but in reality I presume it was not
oftener than once a month. Those were called "missionary
Sundays" ; they were not bulletined or advertised in ad-
vance ; they took us as they found us, and thereby, perhaps,
they found a good many more of us than they otherwise
might have done. We knew it was missionary Sunday in
my church when a certain tall, white-headed, sepulchre-
voiced minister from another town took a seat on the pul-
pit platform with our regularly employed minister. I see
him yet, I hear his voice; but I've forgotten what he said,
if I ever heard.
Nature abhors a void. When that missionary-Sunday
man ceased coming there may have been no one to fill his
place ; I do not know for I was not in Rockville then. But
the thought comes to me that you and nature are trying
to train me to fill his place — if not as a pleader for mis-
sions, at least as a dispenser of "chestnuts." And, from
the way the training has gone on the past year or two I
wonder if half a century from now some one will not rise
up and say of my gray beard and "chestnuts" all that I
say — and even all that I think — of my early predecessor.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 11 9
Reminiscence must always be personal even if it is not
respectful. It implies old age looking back upon youth.
Every generation since Nestor has had men who would
indulge in it. Now, the vision of youth is somewhat dis-
torted. The world appears to us as children to be divided
into giants, clowns and pigmies. The giants are all the self-
respecting adults whom our parents know, or who get hon-
orable mention on the street or in the baseball stand — a
considerable class ; the clowns are those who for one rea-
son or another cannot win the respect of children ; the pig-
mies are those around us as other children. The giants
will remain giants in our memories forever, even though
some of them were pretty "small potatoes" ; the pigmies,
many of them, we watch grow or find they have developed
into giants after we have been away from home a few years.
To illustrate: Men who always have been giants to me —
and most properly so — are men like Judge Loomis, Judge
Talcott, George Maxwell, Charles Harris (who somehow
I always picture with a fireman's red shirt and trumpet),
Gardner Grant, the Talcottville Talcotts. Congressman
Henry, George Brown. Mr. Ogden, Mr. Parker, Mr. Symonds
— and with them every man who wore the blue. The one
or two who seemed to grow backwards into "small pota-
toes" as I grew older and gained a better vision, I cannot
now recall — I believe none are living. Of contemporaneous
little chaps who have become giants — why, I need only call
the roll from my various teachers' old record books ! And
for the development of the one who first stood before us
as a regulation law r student, I have only to point to Hon.
Charles Phelps. For the development of the boys who were
the first to receive diplomas at the High School, the
"Goodell boys," I have only to refer to him who reads the
ode today. I never could have aspired to step so jauntily
to their level as I have on this occasion, and I must not
forget that it was simply as dispenser of chestnuts that the
committee boosted me here.
120 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
We boys of the sixties and seventies were on the thres-
hold of a new era — a few were already over it. I heard a
learned educator the other evening analyzing a Massachu-
setts state report and lamenting the present educational con-
ditions that surround our youth. He said with sorrow that
the present course of studies in our schools did not attract
our boys and girls after they had reached the legal age limit
of fourteen, and they were glad to abandon their studies. If
my recollection of my boyhood days is trustworthy, it is not
in that particular that today differs from yesterday. But
he went on to say that in this generation the child is de-
prived of the home education he or she formerly received,
meaning the work about the house and grounds which made
girls good housekeepers and boys good jacks at about all
ordinary trades. What with bread made by machinery,
clothes and dishes washed by machinery, sewing done by
machinery and houses cleaned by hose and suction, what is
left for a girl but to go to dancing school? And with our
kindling wood bought in bundles and bags over the grocer's
counter, what is there for the boy but to play baseball?
My learned friend treated the subject more seriously than
my paraphrase might indicate — as one of the great national
problems of the day; and considering the mass of children,
by and large, we ought all to watch the experiments in voca-
tion schools. I want to acknowledge right now my indebted-
ness to my parents for bringing me into the world before
the labor-saving devices for children had been invented.
Many of you are even better off in this respect than I am.
As I say, my boyhood was on the threshold of this new
era; a few years and 1 wouldn't have known what it was
to split and pile wood and do like chores before I could go.
skating or play ball.
And now, the last vestige of joking aside, what were we
village boys learning that can't be learned from any text-
books? What were we having instilled into us that would
i worth more in getting on in life than tearing Milton's
"Paradise Lost" into prepositions and adverbs? We were
.Member of Committees on Reception
and Invitations, Sports, Public
FRANCIS !',. SKINNER,
Member of the Committees on Sports,
IHX H. ZIMMERMANN,
Member Committee on Decoration.
Member of the Committee on Trans-
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 121
learning to use our hands and eyes and bodies ; and we
were learning to perform heavy tasks for the general family
good before we went out for selfish amusement. Some-
times, when the fishing was good or the circus unusually
well advertised, the parental hand may have seemed relent-
less if not cruel, but by holding us to the tasks that some
one must perform, we learned to subordinate personal de-
sires and we gained also a power of steadfast application
which was to help us in our future studies and in earning
our daily bread. We know that the youth of today have
their annoyances ; we know that the football arena and the
tennis court can test their mettle, but if advancing civiliza-
tion has reduced the number of practical ways in which
their mettle may be tested until it has become a matter of
grave national concern, we must grieve as loyal citizens but,
in this moment of reminiscence, we may rejoice that we
were born when we were.
"The true man never wishes to be a child again." Ah. but
those were halcyon days in the little village. We cannot
say that they began and ended then, for our fathers and
mothers believe that the real halcyon days were when
they were young. But there was then no shriek of whistle
on or around "Snip," the Vernon reservoir hadn's been fished
dry, arbutus hadn't been uprooted, a boy could consume a
whole day in getting to West Street and back. Exchange
Building was a skyscraper, Talcott Park was a ball ground,
we could coast on almost any street and the girls were al-
ways ready to play Copenhagen ! For tight ropes to per-
form on we had the cables in "Father" Lewis's quarry right
back of the school grounds ; for "run. sheep, run" we had
the full sweep from "Snip" down to the Saxony Mill and no
trolley in the way. Our chief evening entertainment is re-
called by the outdoor vaudeville performance this week.
It was given on identically the same spot, near "the hotel,"
the blazing torches gathering us street Arabs from far and
near. There was only one principal performer and he was
selling patent medicine or cleanser. Oh, the excitement of
122 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
it when he got one of us up under his light to illustrate
the virtues of his bottled stuff — to pull a tooth, bathe a
bruise or clean a spot off our coats ! I can see those smoky
torches and smell that stuff now, and almost can hear the
swear words of some of the village elders when we stepped
on their toes. For everybody attended these performances.
That village didn't need much law — to our minds. When
there was an infraction and a consequent enforcement by
Sheriff Paulk or the constables, the whole town knew about
it and assembled. The hideous violator was dragged into
the damp dungeon hole under a market near Market Street
bridge. Of beverages we saw little effect except in the
innocent joyousness of our German citizens at the celebra-
tions of the Turners in Doane's Grove. Yet there must
have been evil within the knowledge of the authorities, for
I recall vividly the scene (after no-license had been voted)
when great casks were opened near the present Park Place
and their amber contents were allowed to flow down the
gutters to the canal. And when there was a fire, what ter-
ror was struck into our young breasts by those booming
factory bells the length of the valley and the shouts of the
men running with the machine !
Every town has its precious landmarks, and buildings
particularly dear to old inhabitants and former residents.
Hartford has its Charter Oak Site, but Hartford never had
a Talcott's Grove or a Doane's Grove. New Haven has its
Hyperion Theater, but New Haven never had a White's
( >pera House. Waterbury has its Roaring Brook and its
Naugatuck, but it never had a Hockanum. Bridgeport has
its harbor, but it never had a Paper Mill Pond. All those
towns are pleasant to live in — for a time ; I know by experi-
ence ; but for boys and girls they can't compare with the
Rockville we boys and girls knew.
"Rockville hasn't changed much," so some of the present
dwellers say. We old-timers, returning every chance we
get, love it all the more on that account. It has changed
and just now it is changing so rapidly that we fear most
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 125
of the old familiar places and things will be obliterated.
Then shall we have to center Qur affections upon this beau-
tiful Vernon Center which verily changeth not, and in its
loveliness cannot be changed except to harm.
I know the committee never intended that I should get up
here and speak "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but
the truth," as youthful Senator Noone would phrase it.
The whole of it would take the rest of the week. Every
one of us has his or her particular memories, cherished and
ever with us wherever we may wander. What I was to
do, then, was to appear as the representative of the old
boys and girls, and to say something which should voice
the home sentiment of all of them. The giants of my day
may have been the pigmies of the days of some of you,
and the pigmies of my day the giants to others of you.
Some of us may have different pictures than others of us
have of "Father" Lewis' quarry, Putnam's sawmill, the
Saxony, the Leeds Mill, the American, the Warp Mill, Paper
Mill Pond, Snipsic Lake and even White's Opera House,
but we have one thing in common — our fondness for getting
back here. Perhaps some of us thought the told town was
rather slow when we turned our backs and hurried down
the valley to Vernon Depot where we waited only for the
next train east or west; but I know that no one will dispute
me when I say that those of us who went farthest east or
west envy those of us who stopped nearer by because we
can the more readily and the more frequently get back here
to the old scenes.
This implies that the atmosphere of the old town was
the same for us all. We realize this fact down deep in our
hearts ; I see it reflected in the faces of those before me, and
it finds expression in the moments when we drop the cele-
bration spirit and each communes with himself or herself.
It was a Godly town ; it was a town in which the young
were carefully guided into the right path. It was a demo-
cratic town where the children of the rich and the poor were
on the same level, and caste unknown was unknown. It
124 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
was a town of neighbors, for the most part hard-working
and thrifty, innocent in their amusements, modest and hum-
ble in their disposition, developing the man fiber and the
woman fiber which the world stamps as New England. As
such a community must be, it was patriotic. There are
those of us here whose most vivid recollection still is of the
days when men abandoned the loom and the plow to answer
the nation's call ; and thank God ! there still are some of
those men with us who can hear us proclaim our pride
in the record of the town in the Civil War.
We have much, then, in common memory to be thank-
ful for — in the hallowed memories as well as in the rem-
iniscence of frolic and fun. Most naturally, therefore, we
all of us wish to renew our youth ; we all of us wish to
recall and refresh the ideals of our days of worthiest ambi-
tion ; we all of us like to pay tribute to the high thinking
(if lowly living) of the times past, to the atmosphere cre-
ated by such noble men as Winslow and Fisk and Hyde
and Kelsey and Bingham and Kellogg and Maxwell and
Loomis and Spaulding and Risley and Dickinson — we all
of us like to grasp the hands and look into the eyes of those
who shared our early joys and sorrows, and of those who
blessed us as we went forth. And we all of us commend
those who have remained here and those who have come
upon the scene since our day, to maintain the old-time
standard for the unpretentious, conservative yet ever pro-
gressive town of Vernon.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 125
PROF. THOMAS D. GOODELL'S COMMEMORATIVE
The commemorative poem, written by Prof. Thomas D.
Goodell of New Haven, a member of the faculty of Yale
University and a former Rockville boy, was read by him.
It follows in full :
Tpocpela irarpiht ar]/j,epov (f>epa) TcLSe.
As the Greek youth brought to his nurse a gift,
So bring I this thank-offering to our town.
"More room !" said the folk of the river towns.
Hartford and Windsor and Wethersfield.
"There's good land east fair crops will yield.
Let the Old World fight for outworn crowns.
We've better to do, building a state
Godly and free — and rich, maybe;
And if stepmotherly England frowns,
She's a long way off!" So they spread o'er the plain
Homes and billows of ripening grain.
And on the hilltop consecrate
The house where God's word shall be strictly taught.
Wheat, rye, and the red gold of Indian corn,
W ,T ool and flax, which the women wrought
With distaff and spinning-wheel and loom —
This was their wealth ; and children were born,
Many and sturdy, and still there was room.
If dwellings were plain and winters were long,
They woke in June to the robin's song.
In the high elm orioles hung their nest,
The bobolink's rapture gladden'd the morn.
And the whippoorwills charm'd their rest.
126 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
So in these upland fields
At the valley's eastern bound
Time her slow fruitage yields.
Priest Kellogg, servant of God and man, long crown'ct
With love and honor, in yon God's acre sleeps.
The colonies are states, united, strong
In hope and promise that to youth belong.
From bnipsic still the river leaps
Unhinder'd, pure, down the cool forest glen.
Said men of Vernon, "Now why
Need the hurrying waters rush idly by?
Let them learn our Yankee rule : 'tis when
We have done our stent we are free to play.
Let our wild Hockanum do as we !"
They yoked him to mill-wheels, made the spring flood stay
To help in August drought.
He ground their flour, saw'd the forest away ;
Then to finer tasks they put him to school,
With cotton and paper, silk and wool;
And he toil'd for all in season and out.
Till more helpers were needed, and helpers came
From the crowded lands of ancient fame,
From Europe over the sea.
And the village along the busy stream
Throve and grew, and began to dream
( )f larger things to be.
Ah, brethren of the Southland.
\\ hose fathers, with our own,
'Stablisht the dear Republic,
How keen hath our quarrel grown !
Again with childish wondering eyes
I see the throng'd street on that July day,
The waiting coaches, music and banners gay,
CEXTEXX1AL EXERCISES 12"
And women weeping', while hoarse cheers arise.
Now they are gone, first comers to the call.
"Three hundred thousand more!" From all
War ever takes the best. Cheerly they fare
On toward Potomac's war-swept banks —
Young fathers, from the last kiss of wife and child,
And boys too young to know love's wild
Deep ecstacy and woe, whose foreheads wear
The mother's chrism of farewell prayer.
Tho' stern forced march, Antietam's field,
And Marye's Heights, and Gettysburg await them.
And many shall return no more,
Or come in coffined honor, or maimed sore,
Their high design and inborn constancy
And valorous hope elate them.
Now each new May let the nation's thanks
In fragrant bloom fresh wreaths of honor plait them,
By whose blood and agony
The nation's wound was heal'd.
Peace once more, and the fruitful arts of peace !
There know thy strength, my country, there
Let thy pent youthful vigor dare —
Not in fleets nor tropic empire — seek release.
Treading new pathways to a nation's glory.
Which yet are old as Athens. And Vernon's story
Shall be true type thereof and prophecy.
Here patience, industry, inventive skill
Win nature's power to do man's will
To free mankind and magnify.
And whoso buildeth honest work.
Taking no private gain
From other's loss or pain.
He builds for all time, tho' his deed
Aim but to fill the daily need
For food and shelter; and no subtle murk
128 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
Of social theory can befog his mind
Whose hands have earn'd a home.
Here Irish wit and German thrift,
Slavic passion, Italian courtesy,
And many an Old World people's special gift,
With plain New England common-sense combined,
Shall shape a people sane and strong,
Full-rounded, like St. Peter's dome,
Based on the old, unto new heights ascending.
Here, too, the ancient Mother Church doth find
Her wilful daughters, tho' estranged long.
Hands of ungrudging welcome now extending,
While the firm Hebrew faith still proves its power,
Eldest, yet ever young, no longer forced to cower.
Alike one Father-God they teach,
And that man liveth not by bread alone.
For every word divine he must out-reach
In searching unafraid. Science and art
Also are worship, and no lesser part
Of our true native heaven-descended speech.
And our democracy means equal right
For all to climb the spirit's mountain height.
Here therefore shall stand open wide
All paths to ampler life — the treasured lore
Of ages, and the swelling tide
Of incorruptible treasures new from every shore.
The hand shall here learn delicate power, the voice
Grow musical, and homes be beautified
With gardens, modest or stately, that all eyes rejoice.
And for that sweet forest glen.
Long lost 'neath streets and factories,
Art shall discern a way to compensate —
With shapely bridge and planted bank and park again
Make beautiful, with tamer harmonies,
But noble still, what now is desolate —
In civic grace the lovely valley recreate.
FRANCIS T. MAXWELL,
Chairman of Finance Committee and
Member of Committee on Historical
Addresses, Events and Relics.
DAVID A. SYKES,
Member of Committee on Public Exer-
cises and Committee on Licenses
FRANCIS A. RANDALL,
airman of Advertising, Publicity
md Planting Committee, Secretary
m Finance Committee, Member of
Committee on Licenses and Privil-
FRANCIS J. REGAN,
Member of Committees on Public
Safety and Transportation,
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 129
Thou little commonwealth, our home, our pride,
A fairer dawn draws nigh.
The ancient Dark is fading; a light breeze
Wafts dewy odors, and the trees
Their leafy answer softly make.
Pellucid gold drifts up the morning sky,
Song-sparrow and bluebird are awake,
Soon the full chorus will begin.
Bathing the world in music, telling of love.
Then day shall enter in.
With light, with beauty, and with joy, whereof
The humblest with the highest shall partake.
COMMEMORATIVE ADDRESS BY HOX. CHARLES
Following is the commemorative address by Hon Charles
Phelps, president of the Vernon Centennial Committee :
Vernon, our beloved and typical New England town, has
reached its one-hundredth anniversary. "The horologe of
time strikes the full century with a solemn chime." and bids
us take note of the passing years ; to heed the lessons which
were imparted when the infant town was baptized and to
recall those which we may have forgotten.
From modest beginnings, Vernon has assumed an im-
portance out of proportion to its area and population. It
has taken rank with the most progressive towns of the
day and has given a splendid account of its hundred years
of progress. The fame of its industries has become inter-
national, and although its population numbers less than
ten thousand, it is equipped with a free library splendidly
appointed, a memorial building, and with site secured and
arrangements made for the permanent establishment, in
the near future, of a manual training school and a public
We are celebrating an event which took place one hundred
years ago, but incidently commemorating one which occurr-
130 CEXTEXXIAL EXERCISES
ed three centuries ago. Between the years 1607 and 1609, in
that portion of rural England termed the East Angelican
Shires, a body of men with a purpose fixed as fate, pre-
pared to leave their native country for the shores of Hol-
land. No celebration of this character would be complete
without their recognition. They stood for institutions and
ideals which made New England history. They kept pace
with the progress of independent thought, but were never
swerved from their ultimate purpose. Later, when they
reached the shores of America, they brought with them
the principles of English liberty united to those of Dutch
One of the interesting questions of the hour addresses
itself to the inquiry whether it is to England or Holland
that we are most indebted for the best that remains to
us of those institutions founded by the fathers. The town
meeting, free public schools, equality of taxation, and the
authority of a representative government, are the true prod-
uct of English principles united on this soil with those
derived from the Dutch Republic.
What was the ultimate object of those men who largely
shaped the thought of our Colonial days? What dominant
purpose impelled them to cross dangerous seas and to ex-
plore a still more dangerous country? Obstructing forces
and real and fancied" persecutions at home were perils of
less magnitude than those which awaited them in the New
Under those political conditions existing at the time of
their separation, it was impossible for them to enjoy re-
ligious and political liberty without incurring personal
danger. But they were eager to develop and spread those
principles for which they were willing to sacrifice all. With
this desire, however, there was bred something of a
spirit of intolerance which attempted to force upon others
their form of a theocratic government.
Their purpose aside from this alloy of human fraility
was one of the purest and noblest that has ever actuated
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 131
the deeds of men. They wished to lead Godly lives, and
to this end they surrounded themselves with those things
which encouraged Godly living. They attempted to put
into actual practice their own literal construction of the
Bible. They insisted that others should do the same ;
sincere piety was to them the test of citizenship. They
dreamed of a pure theocracy and laid the foundation for
such a structure. They believed it possible to square their
entire existence by arbitrary rules wrested bodily from
Their ultimate object was impossible, but in their per-
sistent search for it they revealed principles of political
co-operation which has made their name immortal. Like
the alchemist, they sought something visionary, but in that
search they gave to the world the results of important and
We are their heirs, and much of the good which they
accomplished is still with us. We are all equal before the
law ; the burden of taxation is equitably distributed ; the
system of free public schools established, and the old-
fashioned town meeting still in vogue. Too much cannot
be said in praise of this last-mentioned institution. It is
the forum of the people, and if the will of the people does
not here find free expression, it is the people's fault. This
institution is an exponent of pure democracy which an able
American writer once compared to a raft. "Your feet are
always in the water," he said, "but you cannot sink."
We are enjoying the blessings vouchsafed to us by the
persistent efforts of a noble ancestry, but with these bless-
ings have descended corresponding obligations. To our
charge have been committed those principles of government
upon which the hopes of a people rest, and upon this anni-
versary we may be properly called upon to give an account
of our stewardship. We were taught the value of the sim-
ple life regulated by the precepts of the moral law ; that
personal independence and individualism, properly exercised,
were the stamp of character; that the will of the people,
132 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
properly expressed, was the supreme tribunal; that town
and county, state and nation, had each its peculiar functions,
powers and duties clearly defined and independent thought
related ; and that they should experience no conflict and
suffer no encroachments.
Can we truthfully say that we have preserved those con-
ditions or that the principles which they represent have
not suffered at our hands? Facing the dawn of a new
■century, our answer to the stern inquiry must be in a
measure apologetic. The simple life has disappeared and
has been supplanted by one of a complex character. The
excuse offered is the great and increasing" activity of the
age ; the multitude of improvements and inventions impell-
ing a degree of progress amazing" and bewildering, and
calling for a life of such intense and ceaseless activity as
to strain the mental faculties to a dangerous tension ; a
life in which no space is left for reflection, meditation or
These conditions, exacting and exhausting, are to be de-
plored, not only on account of their personal effect upon
those involved, but also on account of the sacrifices which
must be made along other lines to meet their require-
ments. The reflective nature and the poetic temperament
have small room in which to develop, when the mind is com-
pletely engrossed with the thought of material gain. These
conditions partially explain the relatively meager import-
ance of the fine arts in the general progress. Poetry and
music, painting and sculpture have not kept pace with in-
ventions and mechanical devices.
He who would woo the muses must prosecute his suit
for Art's sake, lie cannot be chary of his time, or be en-
tirely engrossed by the desire for material wealth. He
must develop the reflective faculty and abide his time ; he
must wander "far from the madding crowd."
The tendency of the time leaves little opportunity for
such devotion, and even when exercised it is doubtful if
it be sufficiently appreciated. Material wealth has been
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 133
given such undue prominence that men have envied the
wearer of the golden rather than of the laurel crown.
Money gatherers in their narrow and superficial review of
men and affairs have classed the scholar and the pro-
fessional thinker as non-productive.
Consistent with the idea of ultimate attainment, indi-
vidualism has been thrust aside, and enormous combina-
tions effected, stifling competition and minimizing the
force of personal responsibility. The advocates of this
departure urge with some truth the material advantages
thus derived, instancing the increase and availability of
those things which a few years ago were regarded as rare
and costly luxuries. Yet, these very conditions lead to
extravagance and excess, and no material advantage can
compensate for the loss of the personal factor. The ten-
dency to combine and centralize has so pervaded all depart-
ments of business that the law has been invoked to correct
the resultant evils. The Federal government has concerned
itself in devising means to forestall the general effect of
this centralizing tendency in public service corporations.
And right here it may be pertinent to inquire if the gov-
ernment, whose aid has been invoked, is itself entirely free
from any fault in this direction. Has it drawn to
itself powers not originally designed to be exercised by
it ; has it in this respect kept intact and inviolate the
principles of the fathers ; has it wielded no weapon in this
warfare with the alleged evil other than that delegated to
it? It must be admitted that the tendency of governmental
supervision is to a degree in accord with that of corporate
management. Both are systemizing and centralizing their
forces ; both are combining all of the elements of power
in their control that they may be directed from one author-
itative head. Town authority is gradually yielding to the
superior power of the legislature, and the authority of the
state to that of the Federal government. Such a system
naturally establishes great centers of power which disturbs
the general equilibrium. It removes from convenient reach
and makes it difficult to locate the responsible party, or
134 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
to curtail acts "ultra vires." The very government is thus
laid open to the charge that those evils so vehemently
declaimed against in corporate management, have crept into
our public policies.
In the closing hours of the first century of Vernon's
existence she, in common with New England, is concerned
with the question of the conservation of our natural re-
sources. The greed and folly of man have dissipated these
to an alarming degree. Commercialism and selfishness, un-
der the guise of progress, have with ruthless hand laid waste
mountain and plain. With utter disregard of those who are
to follow us or of those finer feelings which are indicative
of appreciation, we on a broad scale are following the
example of the spendthrift and the prodigal. Warnings
of wisdom and of expert science fall upon deaf ears, or if
heard are received with indifference.
The wooded districts on our mountain sides protecting the
sources of our noble rivers and cascades are as much en-
titled to our thoughtful care and consideration as the main-
tenance of our highways or of any of our erected memorials.
Depletion of the soil and exhaustion of mineral wealth occa-
sioned by wanton destruction are beginning to show their
Men in high places have for some years paid little heed
to the voice of entreaty or to the note of warning. We
are met with the brutal proposition that our children can
take care of themselves, or with the arrogant assumption
of superior wisdom that when all of these things disappear
something better will take their place.
When the beauty of the noblest and most picturesque
waterfall in the world is assailed by those who would use
its power for commercial purposes, we are told that this
is an age of progress. Those who have followed the
discussion of this subject on the platform and in the halls
of congress have had occasion to remark the general ab-
sence of sentiment from the line of argument. The advo-
cates of the measure looking to the conservation of our na-
CEXTEXXIAL EXERCISES 135
tural resources have perhaps with wisdom urged commer-
cial reasons for stemming the progress of destruction.
And yet what mighty forces emanate from the familiar
scenes of "Old New England" ; her hills of picturesque
beauty, her numberless waterfalls and cascades, her dells,
rivers and streams ! What associations cluster about each
of these ! What inspirations come to us from them ! He
who could witness unmoved their destruction is of a nature
foreign to all principles adduced from the fathers, selfish,
heartless, barbaric. He who would destroy them for gain
would sacrifice any other temple and lay waste any herit-
age. What would be the New England town when all
that can speak to us of the past disappear; when material
conditions shall be such that if one of the fathers could
revisit the old familiar scene, he would fail in recogni-
tion of it? What will New England be when conditions
compel us to strike from our national hymn the words "I
love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills," as
too absurd to be continued longer?
It is a commentary upon the character of our general
patriotism that the president of our republic felt compelled,
in the face of this menacing evil, to assemble at Washing-
ton the governors of all of the states to consider the adop-
tion of some systematic plan which would save us from
ourselves. We are thankful, however, that the president
had the courage and wisdom to arrange such an assembly
under the very eaves of the Capitol and during the session
of Congress. This is a good omen and a beneficent sign
of the times, for it has already stirred the public conscience.
The highest courts of some of our New England states
have also moved in the right direction, and when of late
appealed to, they have spoken with no uncertain sound.
Forestry legislation, the institution of Arbor Day, and the
quiet but effective work of the village improvement society,
are most encouraging features.
Every true citizen feels that it is his duty to do something
to preserve those things which have been passed along
136 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
to him ; to use them wisely, not to dissipate or destroy
them. It becomes his pleasure to help render more secure
the blessings vouchsafed to him of a material as well as of
a political character. The obligations existing between
him and his country are not as some would have us be-
lieve, all on one side ; neither can the citizen demand of the
government as a matter of right those things which he does
not happen to possess. This tendency leads directly to
what has been aptly termed "paternalism in government" ;
that doctrine which educates the idle and restless to believe
that the country owes them support as obligatory as that
which rests upon a parent toward a child.
The words of our late ex-president on this subject are
words of wisdom ; he said it is the duty of the citizen to
support the government, and not the government to support
The founders of our New England towns laid great stress
upon the obligations of citizenship. The duty implied
therefrom could never be lawfully shifted to other shoulders.
The duty exacted was a stern one, personal and perpetual.
A government built upon the basis of good citizenship,
acknowledging personal obligation, becomes secure in its
superstructure. The splendid record of the New England
towns is a natural sequence of such a beginning. Person-
ality of a high character entering into all departments be-
comes the most efficient force in government. Where it
exists there is little to be feared from the current evils of
corruption, favoritism, boss-rule or monopoly, for the citi-
zen makes the state.
Such was the doctrine of the fathers, and it brings us
back to the point of individual responsibility. The town
is what the citizens make it ; if its politics are clean it
is because its citizens make them so ; if its government is
wisely and efficiently administered, it is because its citi-
zens arc wise and efficient.
Let us then dedicate ourselves to the principles suggested
and taught in the establishment of a New England town.
GEORGE P. WEXDHEISER,
ecretary of Committee on Public
Exercises, Member of Committees
on Advertising, Publicity and Print-
ing, Licenses and Privileges.
JOHN W. HEFFEROX.
Member of Committees on Finance and
Public Exercises and Ex-Chief of
Rockville Fire Department.
A. B. PARKER,
Member of Committees on Historical
Addresses, Events and Relics, Invi-
tations and Reception.
Died Wednesday, March 3, 1909.
CHARLES X. McLEAX,
Member of the Committee on Public
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 137
Let us take a stand in its town meetings on the basis of
mutual obligations, and for the principles of personal re-
The Colonial ball under the auspices of Sabra Trumbull
Chapter, D. A. K., commemorating the centenary of the town
of Vernon, which was held in Town Hall on Monday evening,
June 29, 1908, was the most brilliant social function in the
town's history. It was in every way a fitting introduction to
the events that followed.
The Tow r n Hall was magnificently decorated. Green and white
were the predominating colors, and American flags were con-
spicuous. There was a streamer ceiling, every streamer being
edged with a deep ruffle, the green streamer containing a white
ruffle and the white streamer a green. The walls were covered
with pleated bunting of white all the w r ay around, partly covered
with green and white fans, every fan containing a deep green
ruffle. The tower was decorated in a similar manner. In the
center of the tower was a D. A. R. emblem in between the laurel.
The stage was made into a balcony, the front being festooned
in green and white. The background was green and white with
a large sized painting of General Israel Putnam in the center,
with large American flags, military draped, on each side. The
picture motto contained the words: "He Dared to Lead Where
Anyone Dared to Follow."
The booth in the southeast corner of the hall w r as decorated in
white and green, with a large shield in the center, made of red,
white and blue with spangled stars. Inside the booth were two
flags on staffs near the lieutenant-governors chairs. The gallery
was draped in green and white in an artistic manner. The
back of the same was draped in white and partly covered with
green fans, edged with white ruffles. The pillars on each side of
the stage in front were covered with silk banners. On top of
each pillar was a shield draped with flags, each shield surmounted
by a gold American eagle. On the east side, as one entered the
door to the hall, was a refreshment booth draped in green and
white in an artistic manner.
138 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
The illuminations were magnificent. Streamers of electric-
lights were under the chandeliers, all wound with laurel rope.
Streamers also followed the end of the drapery around the side
walls. These many white bulbs added greatly to the general
effect. The decorating scheme was an original idea of the New
England Decorating Company of Kockville, and the electrical
effects were furnished by Williams and Goltra of Hartford.
Sutherland's Foot Guard Orchestra of Hartford" furnished a
delightful concert program and music for dancing.
At 9 o'clock, the Putnam Phalanx, that historic military or-
ganization, arrived from Hartford by special car. The members-
were escorted into Town Hall by the aides, floor committee and
reception committee, led by George E. Sykes and Miss Florence
M. Belding. They formed two lines. The members of the Put-
nam Phalanx passed through and under an arch formed by the
wands of the aides. The Putnam Phalanx were seated in front
of the gallery, a section being reserved for them and their ladies.
Following the reception to the Putnam Phalanx came the
reception to Lieutenant-Governor, E. J. Lake and Mrs. Lake.
They were escorted by the aides, floor committee and reception
committee. Two lines formed at the entrance to the tower, and
Lieutenant-Governor Lake, escorted by Mrs. E. H. Preston, and
Mrs. Lake, escorted by Colonel Francis T. Maxwell, passed under
the wands of the aides, followed by the other members of the
reception committee. They were seated in the tower. The
aides and members of the floor committee escorted Lieutenant-
Governor Lake and Mrs. Lake and Mrs. A. 1ST. Belding, regent
of Sabra Trumbull Chapter, D. A. E., and all Daughters pres-
ent, to the receiving line in front of the stage, where all were
received. As the lieutenant-governor entered the hall the or-
chestra played: "Hail to the Chief." Those present arose and
remained standing until Lieutenant-Governor Lake took his
The gowns of the ladies were conceded to be the most elabor-
ate ever worn upon any occasion in this section, all being made
with the Colonial ball in mind.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 139
To the following committees is due the credit for the success
of the Colonial ball :
Committee of General Arrangements — Mrs. A. N. Belding,
chairman; Mrs. Robert L. McChristie, Mrs. E. H. Preston, Mrs.
A. L. Martin, Mrs. L. T. Tingier, H. H. Larkum, Frank M.
Adams, Dr. W. H. Eobinson, George E. Sykes.
Floor Committee — George E. Sykes, chairman; Frank M.
Adams, A. L. Martin, W. A. Howell, Dr. W. H. Eobinson, H.
H. Larkum, Harold Loomis, Fred X. Belding, T. W. Sturgeon.
Aides — Miss Florence M. Belding, chairman; Miss Mildred
Orcutt, Miss Gladys Keeney, Miss Katherine Murlless, Miss
Edith Hayward, Miss Grace B. West, Miss Ethel West, Miss
Edith Harwood, Miss Ruth Tillotson.
Press Committee — Miss Grace B. West.
Reception Committee — E. H. Preston, chairman: A. \.
Belding, Francis T. Maxwell, A. T. Bissell, Dr. T. F. Rockwell,
Robert McChristie, C. E. Harwood, A. P. Hammond, 0. C.
THE AUTOMOBILE HILL CLIMB.
The automobile hill climbing contest on New England Hill
on Tuesday afternoon, June 30, the first event of the kind
that had ever occurred in Rockville, was an unqualified success.
No feature of the centennial celebration aroused more genuine
interest or was more thoroughly enjoyed. It was conceded by ex-
perts to be one of the biggest events of its kind ever held in this
country. Seventy entries were received, including several of the
most famous machines in the country, with drivers of national
reputation. For weeks the officers of the Rockville Automobile
Club worked hard to make the event a memorable one. President
George E. Sykes of the club was the moving spirit and he was
a very busy man for two weeks preceding the automobile hill
climb. Every precaution was taken to guard against accidents.
The start, which was a rolling one of eight hundred feet, was
made in front of the New England Mill office. The finish was
at the telegraph pole on the east side of New England Hill,
just around the corner where the road turns off from the New
140 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
England Hill schoolhouse. The course, which was practically a
straight one, was about seven-eighths of a mile in length. It was
put in first class condition by the city of Rockville, and the
day before the hill climb, President George E. Sykes of the
Rockville Automobile Club had it covered with calcium chloride
to prevent any dust. The course was roped off the entire dis-
tance with wire rope. By an order, issued by the adjutant-gener-
al of the state, Company C of this city acted as a patrol, the
members turning out in uniform. At stated intervals along the
course men were stationed with red flags and megaphones. In
this manner the time was announced at the grandstand. On
the grandstand there were five hundred seats, which afforded
the best view of the course. These seats, which were sold for
fifty cents, were all taken, and thousands lined the course from
one end to the other. It is estimated that ten thousand people
witnessed the hill climb. Citizens of the town of Vernon were
represented in large numbers, and all the adjoining cities and
towns sent large delegations. Never in Vernon's history were
there so many automobiles in town.
The various officials who had charge of the automobile hill
climb and to whom great credit is due for the success of the
Umpires — William Maxwell, Francis T. Maxwell, Francis J.
Eegan, A. N. Belding, L. F. Bissell, Everett J. Lake, E. J. Gar-
van, Roy T. H. Barnes.
Referee — C. H. Gillette, Hartford Auto Club.
Starter — H. P. Maxim, Hartford Auto Club.
Scorer — Frank S. Olds, Rockville.
Timers— S. M. Butler, New York; Philip A. Sayles, New
York; George Graham, New York.
Clerk of the Course — Warren Bartlett, Hartford.
Assistant Clerks of the Course — C. L. Heath, J. P. Cameron,
A. E. Waite, Leslie Badmington, H. F. Loomis, J. W. McManus,
William H. Yost, F. N. Belding, Fred J. Snow, William M.
Lewis, P. M. Talcott, W. H. Robinson, Arthur D. Sykes, A. L.
Martin, II. H. Larkum.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 141
FIFE AXD DRUM BY DAY, FIREWORKS AT NIGHT.
To such as love to hear the shrill note of the fife and the
rattle of the dram, Wednesday of Rockville's big week must have
been a day of days. With ten corps of fifers and drummers
parading the streets, dressed in their varied uniforms, and headed
by imposing drum-majors, he must have been a cold-blooded
person indeed who failed to get some thrill of military fervor into
his veins. The occasion for this gathering of the musical clans
was the contest wherein cash prizes were to be competed for.
The center of interest to the large crowds congregated about
Central Park, was the judges stand, where officiated C. M.
Ulivieri of Florence, Italy, and Titus Whitehead, a member of
Ulivieri's Band. Drum-Major William C. Steele of Hartford,
occupied a seat on the bandstand, as an interested spectator.
Passing in review before the judges, each corps was accorded
points on its performance, and general appearance. Both modern
and ancient styles of dramming were put in competition, and
awards made in each style. The following corps competed, and
prizes were awarded as indicated :
Father Matthew Dram, Springfield, twenty-one men,
Lancraft Drum, Xew Haven, eighteen men (ancient), $50.00.
Father Matthew Drum, Hartford, seventeen men, (modern),
Deep River Drum, thirteen men (ancient). $"25.00.
Plimpton Dram, of Hartford, ten men, (ancient), $15.00.
McLean Drum, (colored), Hartford, ten men (ancient),
Mansfield Fife and Drum, eighteen men, expenses.
Buckland Dram, thirteen men, expenses.
Glastonbury Drum, ten men, expenses.
Meriden Fife and Drum, fifteen men, expenses.
Several individual prizes were awarded for snare and bass
drumming, fifing, (both old and new style) best drum-major,
smartest appearing corps, corps coming longest distance (Deep
River) and oldest man in corps. This was John Bolles of Mans-
field, aged 73 years, prize $5.00.
142 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
Undoubtedly the real magnet, which brought out the enormous
evening crowd, estimated at twenty thousand, was the fire-
works display from Fox Hill and Central Park. Although
scheduled to start at 9 o'clock, it was 9 :30 before the twenty-
four extra-large bombshells were heard echoing and reverber-
ating for miles around furnishing a worthy and fitting salute to
the visitors. Fifty pounds of red fire fired from three separate
points then cast a luminous light over the entire city. The
effect was indeed striking. Coupled with the gorgeous decora-
tions and the magnificent electrical display, the scene about the
center of the city as this red fire was set off, beggared description.
The same amount of green fire was also fired from three separate
Fox Hill was reflected as a mountain of emerald fires, a truly
wonderful sight. There were many aerial pieces, a fine rocket
display, numerous serenaders and a couple of set pieces in Cen-
tral Park. The set piece, entitled "Vernon, 1808-1908," sur-
mounted by the national colors and displaying the red, white and
blue, suspended from one of the lofty elms in the park, was a
striking one. The girondolas, the marvelous in fireworks, at-
tracted much attention. These consisted of three pieces, placed
on ten-foot posts. They rapidly revolved horizontally, display-
ing a cascade of gold and silver spangles. Then rising from
the post, they flew to a great height. Descending nearly to the
ground, they made a second flight into the sky and finally disap-
peared with a burst of brilliant stars. An exhibition piece,
"Good Night," produced in two-foot letters of gold fire, embel-
lished with silver gerbs, brought the display to a fitting close.
CIVIC, INDUSTRIAL AND MILITARY PARADE;
What would undoubtedly have been the grand outdoor event,
and. crowning triumph of the celebration, could it have been
carried out as planned, was the parade organized by Chief Mar-
shal Moritz Kcmnitzer, and his corps of hard-working aides. But
alas ! for human glory. To vary the proverb, we may say that
"the marshal proposes, the weather disposes." As will be well
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 143
remembered, the parade had hardly gotten under way when
torrents of rain descended, and put it out of the question for
the program to be carried out.
The order of the parade was so arranged as to have all in
readiness at two o'clock in the afternoon, and the march was to
have lasted about one hour and a half. Included in the procession
would have been a review, by towTi and city officials, of the fol-
lowing: First Regiment, C. 1ST. C, Sons of Veterans, Catholic
Societies of the town of Vernon, Knights of Maccabees, Odd
Fellows, Free Masons, Foresters, German and Polish Societies,
with several bands of music.
Florally decorated floats, automobiles and business wagons
were also in line, and a contingent of private and unattached
vehicles were scheduled to bring up the rear. All in all, there
would have been presented to the citizens of Eockville and the
thousands of visitors making up the largest crowd of the
week, a moving picture of the civic, industrial, social and mili-
tary life of the community, such as had not been seen in the
Co-operating with Chief Marshal Kemnitzer and rendering
valuable assistance was a special committee, consisting of Major
T. F. Rockwell, Captain James H. Lutton, Ex-Captain Martin
Laubscher and Captain Earl D. Church.
The marshals of the various divisions were : First, Dr. Thomas
F. Rockw r ell and Arthur T. Bissell; second, George B. Hammond
and A. Leroy Martin; third, Charles Backofen, A. Gunderman,
Ignaz Kohn, Charles F. Ludke, Conrad Sachse; fourth, Frank
Goscenski; fifth, Fred J. Cooley; sixth, George E. Sykes.
Firemen's Day, July 4th, was another outdoor event of im-
posing proportions; and being favored with ideal weather, the
various companies participating made a fine showing, and af-
forded the crowds a Fourth of July celebration such as we
seldom get. Companies from other towns and cities swelled the
ranks; conspicuous among these being the Veteran Firemen's
Association of Hartford, with the veteran Hartford fire chief,
Henry J. Eaton in line, accompanied by Colt's Band. Special
interest was shown in the Norwalk Fire Police, and this was
144 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
increased by the fact of their having at the head John D. Milne,
a former Rockville boy.
Another company receiving special notice was the delegation
from Pawtuxet, R. I., which brought back to its home town
for this celebration, the old fire-fighter, "Fire King." Associated
with the early days of fire protection in Rockville, this piece of
inanimate mechanism seemed to possess a soul to those old
veterans who marched in company with it, and remembered the
runs they had had together in days gone by.
In striking contrast with the veterans a juvenile company
styled "Our Boys," organized by Chief Hefferon and drilled by
Charles B. Milne, gave a pleasing variety to the parade, and a
promise to the citizens of younger men taking up the work which
the old fellows must soon pass down to them.
The success of the whole parade, in its inception and carrying
out, resulted largely from the personal influence of Chief
Hefferon, whose wide acquaintance with outside organizations
brought about the large attendance, and secured hearty co-opera-
tion from all.
THE INDUSTRIAL EXHIBIT.
One of the most interesting features of Vernon's centennial
celebration was the industrial exhibit in the Maxwell Memorial
Library Building. The exhibit was open daily from ten to
twelve o'clock in the morning, from one to six o'clock in the
afternoon and from seven to nine o'clock in the evening, with
the exception of Saturday. It was visited by thousands of people
during the week. In great profusion were shown the goods that
have made Rockville what it is today, the "Loom City," the place
where the finest cloths, the best fish-lines, the daintiest silks in
the world arc made.
In this age of specialization, no longer, as in bygone days, are
nearly all of the industries carried on in the farmhouse. No
longer does each community manufacture practically all the
things it needs. No longer are the flock and the loom, the silk-
worm and the spindle within sight of each other. The raw
materials are now gathered by railroads and steamships from
HARRY C. SMITH,
Secretary Committee on Advertising
Publicity and Printing.
C. DEXISOX TALCOTT,
Treasurer Finance Committee of Ver
non Centennial Celebration.
H. H. W1LLES,
Member of Transportation and Public
Member of Committee on Public Exer-
cises and Chief Marshal of Military
and Civic Parade.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 145
the corners of the earth, and railroads and steamships distribute
the finished product.
Generally speaking, the people who see the place where the
things they use are prepared, are few. Kockville's centennial
industrial exhibit was, therefore, a real object lesson that
brought enlightenment and education, affording an excellent op-
portunity to see, not only the finished jaroducts, but in many
instances the goods in various stages of manufacture. Profit
and pleasure came to those who inspected the products of Kock-
ville's plants. A general summing up of the various exhibits is
M I NTERBURN EXHIBIT.
This exhibit consisted of a beautiful array of rich, soft effects,
produced in a mixture, and double and twist wool cloth that
showed the highest type of excellence in design and fabrication.
Many novel and delightful effects were produced by the fre-
quent and generous use of white silk, combined with the deli-
cate grays, tans and olives of the wool mixtures. All cloths shown
were of a woolen type of construction, and to the eve the effect
was most attractive showing excellent taste and skill in the manu-
AMERICAN MILLS COMPANY.
This exhibit occupied all of the space to the right of the
entrance of the library, and the tasteful arrangement occasioned
much favorable comment. It was the most varied and largest
display of fabrics shown by any one concern, including as it did
a large and attractive display of carriage cloths, in addition
to the regular line of fancy worsteds for men's wear, which the
company manufactures. In the exhibit of carriage cloths there
were the most novel effects in fancy weaves, and beautiful color-
ings in whipcords, Bedford cords, wide and narrow wales and
diagonals. In their regular line of fancy worsteds for men's
wear, both heavy and light weights of high quality were shown,
and the colorings were the new delicate tones of gray, stone
and tan, as well as the most complete lines of blues, olives and
146 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
browns, the mixture effects, as well as the skein -dyed fabrics
producing a pleasing impression and giving the visitor a clear
idea of the scope and great variety of the manufactures of the
American Mills Company.
HOCKANUM, SPRINGVILLE AND NEW ENGLAND
The Hockanum, Springville and New England Mills showed
a most complete line of fancy worsteds occupying all the space
to the left of the entrance on the south side of the room. They
maintained their reputation for the production of these fine and
high-grade worsted cloths. In their large and tastefully arrang-
ed display were represented the high- textured fabrics of the
Hockanum and New England Mills and the beautiful soft un-
dressed worsted effects of the Springville Mill. The whole was-
a bewildering display of modish, up-to-date, stylish fabrics and
color combinations, all indicating the highest degree of skill in
both structure and design.
E. J. MARTIN'S SONS' EXHIBIT.
The northwest corner of the reading room in the Library-
Building, where E. J. Martin's Sons, manufacturers of the cele-
brated ''Kingfisher" all-silk braided fish-lines, had their exhibit,,
appealed to the sportsman. The exhibit bore out the concern's-
reputation for excellence, reliability and perfection. All the
lines manufactured were shown, in the various sizes, colors and
finishes, both on spools and in hanks.
Cards, with the various lines drawn through them, were handed.
to visitors, while description leaflets were given away. The silk
of which the lines are made, was also shown, as well as the-
machine wiih which the lines are braided.
The walls were decorated with brook trout, mounted on panels
of oak or birch bark, surrounded by skeins of lines. The trout
were caught by local men in nearby brooks with Kingfisher
CENTENNIAL EXEECISES 147
BELDING BEOS. & CO.'S EXHIBIT.
This firm had a most artistic exhibit of all its products. Not
only those manufactured in this city, where spool silk of the
various varieties is the specialty, but also embroidery silks and
many kinds of all-silk fabrics from the Northampton, Mass.,
mills, besides piece-dyed satins and taffetas from Belding, Mich.,
were shown in a tasteful manner. The display, arranged in the
form of a dainty booth, the pillars of the booth being made of
hundreds of spools of green sewing silk, beginning with dark at
the base and gradually growing lighter in shade toward the
top. The front was draped in pearl gray satin with festoons of
green spool silk, while the background was of Copenhagen blue,
sage green and pink. The side walls were made of countless
shades of embroidery floss. Within the booth there were about
a score of hand embroidered pillows and pictures, some of the
latter rare works of art, requiring years of work and being
valued at thousands of dollars. Practically the same line of
goods was exhibited by this firm at Eockville's centennial indus-
trial exhibit, as was shown at the Jamestown exposition in
In addition to the finished goods there was also shown raw
silk, "thrown" silk and silk, gummed preparatory to dyeing.
A very interesting feature were the silk worms in all stages
of growth, beginning with the eggs, about one sixteenth of an
inch long, and ending with the complete cocoon. These were
in glass phials. A limited number were given away free.
The Arlington Mills Company of Lawrence, Mass., exhibited
a fine and comprehensive assortment of worsted yarns.
The committee, who had the arrangements in charge for the
industrial exhibit, consisted of E. F. Badmington, William
Maxwell, F. J. Began, M. C. Mason, M. H. White, A. N.
Belding, A. L. Martin and Frank Keeney.
148 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
IXDOOE EVENTS, RECEPTIONS, BANQUETS,
Never before was the social significance of the many fraternal
orders of the town of Vernon and city of Rockville, so brought
into prominence as during the centennial week. Lodges vied with
each other in keeping open house and making welcome friend and
The limited space at our disposal does not permit of detailed
accounts of these functions, but perhaps some further mention
should be made of the reception and banquet given in honor of
Most Worshipful Brother, Edward E. Fuller, Grand Master of
Masons of Connecticut. This notable event in the history of
local Masonry marked also a half-century of existence of Fayette
lodge, No. 69, A. F. & A. M., and the anniversary was fitly cele-
brated on the afternoon and evening of June 30, 1908, at
Masonic Hall. Chief among the incidents of the celebration was
the presentation of a watch to Grand Master Fuller, from the
lodge; the speech of presentation being made by Lyman T.
Tingier. The responsive remarks of Grand Master Fuller, and
the series of reminiscences given by Brother E. Stevens Henry,
made memorable contributions to the events of the day.
Amongst all the reunions of the week, both private and public,
that of the High School Alumni Association, on Tuesday evening,
June 30th, holds a big place in the memory of those who were
present. The guest of honor was Prof. Randall Spaulding, first
principal of the school, from 1870-1873. Graduates of 1873 and
1875 revived bygone history, and welded the chain of association
with the events of 1908. A specially interesting feature of the
occasion was the opening of the "old building,'' for refreshments
and a social chat among the old classmates. The intermingling
of the old order and the new gave pleasing evidence of loyalty to
school spirit, and of pride in the history of R. H. S.
"Auld Lang Syne" and "Home, Sweet Home," had never
a more heartfelt response to their heart-stirring strains than was
evoked at the service in Union Church, Sunday morning of
dune 28th. Here gathered about sixty past and present mem-
bers of the choir and led the good old hymns, in which the large
congregation joined heartily. Added interest was given the ser-
vice by old musicians, who played instruments of reed, string and
brass, as in the days when church organs were unknown in the
Another of the chief musical events was the organ recital
given in Union Church on the afternoon of July 2, by Prof.
William Churchill Hammond of Holyoke, Mass., assisted by Miss
Ida E. Martin, violinist, Eockville, and Mrs. Marion Murlless
Chapin, soprano, of Boston. All three being claimed as Eock-
ville artists, it was a fitting combination of home talent which
gave pleasure to the large audience assembled.
The exhibit of curios and historical relics, while not so large
as had been planned, proved of great attractiveness to many
people, and was open daily throughout the week.
One of the most useful institutions brought into being for
the occasion, was the general information bureau promoted by
Manager William M. Lewis of the Eockville Gas and Electric
Company. The bureau furnished much valuable assistance to
visitors, and helped in every way to make their stay in the city
agreeable and free from care.
Best houses were also established at convenient points; and
these afforded rest and comfort to many tired ones during the
course of a celebration where so great a demand was made upon
the staying power of sight-seers.
Turn Hall was headquarters for the special events planned by
our German citizens; concerts, balls, and other entertainments
making up a season of gaiety and rejoicing wherein a great many
people took part.
At Town Hall, many similar scenes were presented. Eecep-
tions and balls were given there by the Eockville Baseball Asso-
ciation; D. A. B. ; military and firemen; all of which were freely
patronized and made the occasion of social display.
150 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
OUTDOOB ATTRACTIONS OF CENTENNIAL WEEK.
The histories of all people witness to the love of man for
show, for diversion, and for spectacular entertainment. And
this present history of our town would be incomplete, without
some preservation of a record of those lighter features which
made "Old Home Week" pleasurable to young and old alike.
The committee on public exercises spared no effort to assure
a season of good humor, and of delight to eye and ear; and the
engagement of the Victor Amusement Company hit the popular
taste. In this aggregation of talent were animal trainers, acro-
bats, dancers, conjurers, and other skilled entertainers, all doing
something in their own special line to attract and amuse crowds
of holiday makers. A specially interesting artist was Miss Mabel
McKinley, then one of the most popular singers on the vaude-
The White City Band, under the leadership of Charles M.
Ulivieri, gave a series of concerts well suited to the audiences of
a free, outdoor celebration; the popular and the classic styles of
music being judiciously alternated, so as "to please all tastes."
Besides the larger shows, all manner of smaller ones such
as have come to be part of every "Midway" catered to the fun
or the curiosity of the pleasure seekers. Day and night did
these professional amusement makers ply their arts, and it was
a person's own fault if she or he had any dull moments.
The Connecticut Company rose to the occasion, and produced
displays of fireworks.
Ball games afforded sport to the lovers of the diamond; and
a series of athletic events, comprising races and other tests of
wind and muscle, took place on the Middle Road, drawing a
large crowd. The success of the athletic events was due largely
to the committee on sports and R. J. Murphy, who combined
experience with enthusiasm. The officials were: Starter, R. J.
Murphy; referee, W. J. Murphy; timers, Fred J. Coolev and A.
M. Burke: judges, Fred Wbodhall, George B. Milne. Parley B.
Leonard and W. A. El holt.
The July Fourth parade of Antiques and Horribles was made
the occasion for a more elaborate display, in keeping with the
spirit of the whole week of carnival.
CENTENNIAL EXEltOISES 151
FINANCING THE CELEBRATION.
To properly finance Vernon's centennial celebration was no
easy task. It required an untold amount of hard work, but
there was a noble and generous response on the part of residents
and former residents of the town. Contributions were received
through the local papers, coming from all parts of the country.
The first local subscription came from the Eockville Leader, the
originator of the idea of a one-hundredth birthday party for the
town of Vernon. Its contribution was $100. To Howard K.
James of Alameda, Cal., belongs the honor of being the first
out-of-town contributor. All the local mills gave' liberally and
there were many popular subscriptions. Nearly $8,000 was
raised as the result of careful planning and perfect system. A
detailed account of all receipts and expenditures was kept by
Treasurer Parley B. Leonard of the general committee. The
sum of $1,800 was appropriated from the town treasury to aid
the centennial celebration. There remained a substantial bal-
ance on hand after all bills were paid. No enterprise of this
nature was ever more ably and successfully financed than was
the Vernon centennial of 1908.
A synopsis of the treasurer's report follows :
Town of Vernon $1,800.00
Advertising and publicity $1,476.98
Auto contest 200.00'
Invitations and receptions 92.20
Public exercises 3,717.22-
Cash on hand 506.37
152 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
Official Program, "Old Home Week."
June 28th to July 4th, Inclusive.
SUNDAY, JUNE 28.
Morning — Special services in all the churches, sermons by
former pastors and singing of old-time hymns.
Afternoon — Eendition of famous oratorio, "The Creation," in
Evening — Oratorio will be given second rendition, with solo
parts by distinguished New York Artists, Orchestra, and
Chorus of one hundred and twenty-five voices. Historical
address at St. John's Church by Rev. Dr. Samuel Hart,
Dean of Berkeley Divinity School and President of Connec-
ticut Historical Society. Solemn High Vespers at St.
Bernard's Church, with sermon by Rev. Edward Flannery
MONDAY, JUNE 29.
Afternoon — Opening exercises at Vernon Center (mother settle-
ment of the town), in historic Congregational Church, built
in 1826, with following program: 1, Music; 2, Invocation;
3, Address of welcome by Parley B. Leonard, Esq., first
selectman of the Town of Vernon ; 4, Reading of Act of the
General Assembly creating the Town of Vernon, by Francis
B. Skinner, Esq., town clerk; 5, Music; 6, Historical Essay
by C. Denison Talcott, Esq. ; 7, Music ; 8, Reminiscences, by
Captain Charles W. Burpee of Hartford; 9, Centennial
poem, by Prof. Thomas D. Goodell of New Haven; to.
Music; 11, Commemorative address by Hon Charles Phelps.
President of Vernon Centennial Committee; 12, Benediction
Following the exercises in the church there will be a Band
Concert and social gathering on green in front of the church.
Evening— Grand Colonial Bal] in Town Hall, under auspices of
Sabra Trumbull Chapter, 1). A. R. Grand Ball at Turn
Hall. Opening of Electrical Display and Illuminations;
Treasurer of Committee on Advertis-
ing, Publicity and Printing.
PROFESSOR THOMAS D. GOODELL.
Member of first graduating class of
Rockville High School. Wrote com-
memorative poem for Vernon's cen-
CAPTAIN CHARLES W. BURPEE,
Of Hartford. Former Rockville boy
who took part in literary exercises
during centennial week.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 153
Band Concert; Vaudeville, and Midway, on East Main
TUESDAY, JUNE 30.
Afternoon — Automobile Hill-Climb Contest, Vernon avenue, at
two o'clock. Athletic sports, including foot races, sack races,
climbing greased pole, etc. Ball game on Union Street
grounds, Rockville vs. Middletown, champions of Middlesex
County League. Balloon Ascension ; Band Concert ; Vaude-
ville, and Midway.
Evening — Meeting of Alumni of Eockville High School, with
grand reunion. Reception and banquet tendered by Fayette
Lodge, No. 69, A. F. & A. M., to M. W., Edward Fuller, M.
W., Grand Master of Masons in Connecticut. Ball in Town
Hall. Electrical display and Illuminations; Band Concert;
Vaudeville, and Midway.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 1.
Afternoon — Fifers' and Drummers' convention and contest.
Ball game on Union Street grounds, Rockville vs. Bristol
Balloon Ascension; Band Concert; Vaudeville, and Midway.
Evening — Grand pyrotechnical display, furnished by Clarence
D. Holt, former Rockville resident. Band Concert; Midway,
and Vaudeville; Electrical display and Illuminations.
THURSDAY, JULY 2,
Morning — Baseball game on Union Street grounds between
Rockville and Springfield State League team, (game will be
preceded by parade of the players of the two teams in autos,
headed by band).
Afternoon — Baseball on Union Street grounds, Rockville vs.
Springfield State League team. Balloon Ascension; Band
Concert; Vaudeville, and Midway.
Evening— Rockville Baseball Association's reception to players,
entertainment, and ball, in Town Hall. Band Concert;
Vaudeville, and Midway ; Electrical Display and Illumina-
154 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
FRIDAY, JULY 3.
Afternoon — Grand military, civic and industrial parade, ending
with Centennial Drill under the direction of Moritz Kem-
nitzer. Band Concert; Balloon Ascension; Vaudeville, and
Midway. German Entertainment at Turn Hall.
Evening — Grand military ball at Town Hall. German enter-
tainment at Turn Hall. Band Concert; Vaudeville, and
Midway ; Electrical Display and Illuminations.
SATURDAY, JULY 4.
Morning — Parade of Antiques and Horribles. Band Conceit.
Afternoon — Firemen's muster. Baseball, Rockville vs. Stafford.
Balloon Ascension; Band Concert; Vaudeville, and Midway.
Evening — Firemen's ball in Town hall. Band Concert; Elec-
trical Display and Illuminations; Private Display of Fire-
works; Vaudeville, and Midway. Exhibit of historical relics
and curios each day. Industrial exhibit each dav.
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 155
Some Press Comments
TOWN AND CITY CREDIT TO OLD CONNECTICUT.
Bristol celebrated her centennial in 1883. Now it's Vernon's
turn. That is really the ancient and official town name, but
Rockville is the modern expression. "Old Home "Week" has
meant something there this week, and its observance has been
carried out in a spirit of genuine hospitality and hearty welcome.
We extend our congratulations to Vernon-Rockville. Both
town and city are a credit to old Connecticut. Progress and
enterprise and many other good things dwell there. — Bristol
IT IS A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE IN
There is no overestimating the value and importance of these
centennial and bi-centennial celebrations through the state. They
revive patriotism, encourage public spirit, and make in many
ways for good citizenship and human progress. The town of
Vernon is now engaged in this stimulating sort of entertain-
ment. Elsewhere this morning we publish the addresses of
yesterday, each of them worthy of a wide reading. The historical
sketch by Mr. Talcott covers most interestingly the development
of the place and its progress into a most important manufac-
turing center. Captain Burpee tells entertainingly of various
occurrences in the life of the town. And State Attorney Phelps,
with his commemorative address, sounds the call to duty in an
impressive and noteworthy oration. All the literary exercises are
evidently on a high plane, and the occasion is a memorable one.
Rockville, the industrial center of the town of Vernon, is one
of the greatest woolen producers in the world and the quality of
its goods is proverbially fine. The citizens who have grown rich
with its development are constantly doing in one way and
another for the town, steadily making it a better place to live in
and sharing their success with their fellow-townsmen. — Hartford
156 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
OUGHT TO BE PKOUD OF MAGNIFICENT SUCCESS.
Vernon's big centennial celebration came to a close Saturday
night, and il is now a matter of history. It will be remembered
as the greatest and most successful event ever taking place in
the town. Hereafter when occasion arises to fix the time of any
particular event reference will be had to its having been before
or since the Vernon centennial. The attention of the entire
state was centered on Vernon and Eockville last week. The
magnificent scale upon which the town observed its 100th
birthday will be the talk of everyone within a radius of many
miles for a long time to come. Visitors were amazed at the
elaborateness of everything; things were conducted on a scale
that would have done credit to a place four times our size. The
decorations and attractions were far beyond the expectations of
the hosts of people who came to attend the festivities. Former
residents who had not been in this city for years, came back for
"Old Home Week." meeting old acquaintances and reviving old
times and incidents. It was a great time for Eockville and
everybody who had anything to do with planning and carrying
out Vernon's centennial ought to feel proud of the magnificent
success achieved. — Rockville Journal.
EXCELLED ALL EECOEDS AND EXCEEDED ALL
The big centennial celebration is now a matter of history, and
Vernon (Eockville) has excelled all records and exceeded all
anticipations. This might sound egotistical were it not a fact
that it is the plain truth, corroborated by every one
who witnessed the celebration. Today the town of Vernon
stands higher in the estimation of the public than it ever stood
before As we look back it is difficult to name an event which
should have been omitted or a feature which should have been
added. A week's celebration has been held, covering every point
which such a celebration should cover, dignified and formal,
where dignity and formality were appropriate, informal, happy
and homelike at all oilier times. From the outset doubt had been
expressed whether a town the size of Vernon could keep up the
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 157
pace for an entire week of carnival. There is no longer any
doubt. From the very first day of the celebration until the last
day the pace was maintained. The populace and outsiders
crowded the streets day and night throughout the entire week
and joined in the rejoicings with the abandon of Xew Orleans
at the Mardi Gras. There was something doing every minute.
It was indeed a strenuous week, and when the windup came late
on Saturday night there were undoubtedly a whole lot of tired
people in Eockville, but not one of these regretted that the cele-
bration had taken place, although possibly some of the number,
if they were going to do it all over again, would bring it to an
end in three or four days, instead of continuing it for a week.
Aside from the entertainment and enjoyment features of Ver-
non's centennial celeb ration, there have been other features which
cannot fail to benefit the town. Eockville is known today from
one end of the state to the other. Indeed, her name is being
mentioned and her praises sounded throughout Xew England.
Every person who has visited the city from near and far, (and
there have been people from every part of the country here during
that week) has advertised Eockville, has had a good word to
say of the civic pride and public spirit of her citizens. Although
small in size, everyone today is satisfied that Eockville can do
big things — things that cities much larger could not do one whit
bettor. 'Without desiring to boast, it can truthfully be said that
Eockville's centennial celebration will compare favorably, yes hold
its end up, with any of the big celebrations that have been held
hereabouts in the last twenty-five years.
Nature has done much for Eockville. Conditions here are ideal
for such a celebration as was planned for the centennial of the
town of Vernon. There isn't another city in Connecticut better
adapted from a show standpoint for a centennial celebration than
Eockville. With its beautiful greensward in the center, its triple-
terraced streets, and its ideal spot for a midway, (East Main
street), everything can be seen to advantage. It wasn't necessary
to turn Eockville upside down to convert it into a show place.
The spectacular and show features were kept within a very
limited area. The center of Eockville certainly looked grand. It
158 CENTENNIAL EXERCISES
was a delight for visitors to walk up and down the main street
and pass along the midway by night, and thousands and thou-
sands who did it night after night were carried away with the
effect produced by the decorations and illuminations. They did
not tire of them, and kept coming night after night. Ask any
"Old Home Week" visitor what he thinks of Eockville and you'll
get an answer that will make you feel proud. It's the unanimous-
opinion of all who spent any time in the city during "Old
Home Week" that Eockville's welcome and hospitality were of the
18 karat kind and all wool and a yard wide. There was nothing
lacking in welcome and hospitality and the city never looked
By way of review, it should be said that Vernon's centennial
celebration was not only carefully planned and w r ell financed, but
splendidly conducted, with every contingency provided for and
no detail, however minute, escaping attention. Of course it isn't
likely that everyone was satisfied with everything that took
place or some things that didn't take place, but generally speaking
there was little criticism and practically no fault-finding. The
townspeople marveled at the magnitude of the celebration once
it was under headway. To the men who labored so hard and
faithfully, not only during that week, but during the eight
months of preparation, they did not hesitate to award a full
measure of credit, realizing that it w-as a big undertaking that
demanded self-sacrifice and called for ceaseless toil. It's a good
thing for the town that Vernon had the men capable of carry-
ing out the undertaking and willing to do the work necessary
to make it a success. It w r as new r work to most of them, but
they never faltered, and from the outset displayed a spirit of
enthusiasm and resistless energy that spelled success. Judging
by the verdict of those of the city's guests during the week, who
have travelled much and participated in such events, the great
enterprise was a success.
Some special points should be noted regarding the celebration.
Perfect order was maintained during the entire week. Over
100,000 people occupied our streets, and there was no disturb-
ance, no violence or theft, no accident of any kind, and a notice-
CENTENNIAL EXERCISES 159
ableable absence of drunkenness. That such admirable order
prevailed is a credit to our town and its visitors, and this com-
munity owes a debt of gratitude to the committee on public
safety, of which Mayor Forster, as chief of police, was an active
member, and to the police department. Too much praise cannot
be given to Captain Edward J. Kane and his men for
the discipline and order they maintained during the week of
immense crowds. Taking everything into consideration, it is
certainly marvelous that there wasn't trouble during the week.
Captain Kane and the men under him were onto their jobs, so
to speak, every minute, day and night. Both the active head
of the police department and the officers seemed to take pride
in their work. They did really more than they were called upon
to do, realizing that it was an unusual time — a time when too
much care could not be exercised. The good nature of the
thousands of centennial celebrants materially aided the police in
their work, but they controlled the situation from start to finish
in great style. — Rockville Leader.
LONG LIVE EOCKVILLE AND VERXOX.
The Vernon centenary and "Old Home Week" festivities at
Rockville are bringing great throngs of people there. The
weather has favored Vernon and Rockville splendidly in this
celebration. Manchester has contributed a generous quota of
visitors to all the attractions at Rockville this week. Wednesday
night the fireworks display brought record crowds to Rockville.
The display was a credit to Rockville. AVe certainly take off
■our hats to our enterprising neighbors in Rockville. Their
celebration is a grand success and they are covering themselves
all over with glory. Long live Rockville and Vernon. — South
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