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History of Killingly, (Windham County) Connecticut
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Local History Notes:
History of Killingly
The manufacturing furor raged with great violence in Killingly, its numerous rivers offering such convenient facilities that her own citizens were able to embark in such enterprises with less foreign aid than was requisite in other towns. "Danielson's Factory" at the Quinebaug Falls enjoyed a high place in popular favor, its twenty liberal-handed stockholders, mostly town residents, prosecuting its various business affairs with much energy. William Reed served most efficiently for many years as its agent. Its well-filled store was managed by the Tiffany brothers from Rhode Island. Once a year, proprietors and managers met to report progress and divide profits, when business was followed by a jovial good time and supper. The "Stone Chapel" on the present site of the Attawaugan, was built by Captain John and Ebenezer Kelley for John Mason of Thompson in 1810, but did not get into successful operation for some years, when John, James B. and Edward Mason, Jun., were incorporated as the "Stone Chapel Manufacturing Company." Messrs. John Mason and Harvey Blashfield had the oversight of this establishment. The tallow candles needed for its morning and evening service were dipped by Miss Harriet Kelley, in batches of forty dozen at a time. The privilege on the Five-Mile River long occupied by Talbot's Grist-Mill passed into the hands of the Killingly Manufacturing Company in 1814. Its constituent members were Rufus Waterman, Thomas Thompson, John Andrews of Providence; David Wilkinson, Henry Howe of North Providence, Dr. Robert Grosvenor, Jedidiah Sabin, Elisha Howe, Benjamin Greene of Killingly, Smith Wilkinson, Eleazer Sabin of Pomfret. The Howes had charge of the business, and the factory soon built was called by their name. The remarkable descent of the Whetstone Brook furnished privileges quite out of proportion to its volume of water. The first Chestnut Hill Company to take advantage of this fall was constituted by Joseph Harris, Ebenezer Young, Calvin Leffingwell, Asa Alexander, George Danielson, Lemuel Starkweather, whose wheels and spindles were soon competing with those of other manufacturers. The greatest spirit and activity prevailed in these growing villages. Everybody was hard at work, building, digging, planting, carting, weaving, spinning, picking cotton, making harnesses, dipping candles, and attending to the thousand wants of the hour. The wives and families of the manufacturing executives entered into their work with jubilant enthusiasm, helping everything forward. Mrs. John Mason was a lady of wonderful energy and vivacity, one who would be a social light in the darkest corner. Very pleasant intercourse was kept up between the families of the several villages, who seemed bound together in a common aim and fraternity. The intense mechanical activity of the time was manifested by a remarkable feminine achievement, the exercise of the inventive faculty, hitherto dormant in the female mind. Mrs. Mary Kies of South Killingly invented "a new and useful improvement in weaving straw with silk or thread," for which she obtained in May, 1809, the first patent issued to any woman in the United States, and she is also said to have been the first female applicant. Mrs. President Madison expressed her gratification by a complimentary note to Mrs. Kies. The fabrication of this graceful and ingenious complication was thus added to the other industries of Killingly. The impulse given by manufacturing enterprise was manifested in other activities. The mineral resources of the town were sought out and brought before the public. The old Whetstone Hills were found to enclose valuable quarries of freestone, suitable for building purposes. Rare and beautiful detached stones as well as extensive quarries were found on Breakneck. "A rich bed of porcelain clay" was discovered on Mashentuck Hill, "pronounced by competent judges to equal the best French or Chinese clay." Indications of lead and still more valuable ore were also reported. Many new roads were demanded to facilitate the opening industries. The town accepted a road laid out from Danielson's Factory to the country road near the dwelling-house of Solomon Sikes (declining responsibility at the same time for the bridge over Five-Mile River), and voted not to oppose a road from Danielson's to the house of Rev. Israel Day, and thence to Rhode Island line. This new road to Providence was very needful for the transportation of goods and cotton. The mercantile operations of Captain Alexander Gaston, who had removed from Sterling to South Killingly, were also greatly benefited thereby. His flourishing store added greatly to the importance of this miniature "city." He was accustomed to buy large quantities of goods at auction in New York market, and farmers would hurry down to Providence with their teams when his ships were expected, that they might reap the profit of hauling them up to Killingly. A new turnpike project forcibly urged by some citizens was most vigorously resisted, and called out the following successful manifesto:- "Whereas a contemplated branch of four miles to the Connecticut and Rhode Island turnpike (petition by Evan Malbone and others) is to meet about a thousand dollars expense upon Killingly without enhancing the interests of the town, or facilitating a convenience to the public; and, whereas, such an obtrusion upon the town would be considered as truly extraordinary and unprecedented as it would be derogatory to its interests; and, whereas it is the unquestioned privilege of a town at all times to defend and protect its interest against that principle of invasion which would sacrifice the interests of town and individuals to its own accommodation-therefore voted, that the town of Killingly will never submit to such an invasion upon these rights while protection can be claimed by the laws of the State." So heavy was the burden brought upon tax-payers by public improvements that an effort was made to secure town division by an east and west line through the centre. Sampson Howe, Captain Gaston and Ezra Hutchins appear frequently as moderators of town meetings; Daniel Buck, John Day, Samuel Sprague, John Kelly, Tiffany and John Adams, Jacob Spalding, as selectmen; Ezra Hutchins, Joseph Adams, Anthony Brown, Ebenezer Young, Penuel Hutchins, Luther Warren, Arba Covill, David Chase, as justices; Luther Warren, town clerk; Hezekiah Howe, constable. Ebenezer Young had now opened a law office in the rising village of Westfield, which with its meeting-house, doctor's office and tavern, was becoming more and more of a town centre. A fine house near the meeting-house was occupied by Captain Evan Malbone and his establishment. Captain Solomon Sikes' popularity as a military officer added much to the fame of his tavern, especially during war-time. Killingly's artillery company was very efficient at this date, commanded by Captain David Bassett. Laban and Barzillai Fisher served as its lientenants. William Alexander, Calvin Day, David Chase and Charles Buck were rising officers. The admired South Killingly company maintained its standing under Simon Hutchins, John Eaton, 2d, and Aaron Rood. Increasing centralization and other causes gave a new impetus to the West Killingly church. Mr. Johnson was dismissed from the pastorate in 1809. His successor, Roswell Whitmore, the son of an old Killingly family removed to Ashford, was ordained January 13, 1813. Ordination services conducted with due form by Reverends Moses C. Welch, Walter Lyon, Israel Day and Elisha Atkins, were very satisfactory as was also the Ordination Ball held the same evening at Captain Silas Hutchins' Assembly Room under the management of the Messrs. Malbone and Hutchins. Many of the young people who graced the Assembly Room on that joyful occasion were among the subjects of the almost immediately succeeding revival and became pillars in church and town. Mr. Whitmore was a man of much life and energy, ready to engage in any form of christian labor and the church was rapidly built up. James Danielson and Shubael Hutchins were elected and installed as deacons in March, 1813. The South Killingly church also enjoyed religious revivals and under its respected pastor peacefully kept the even tenor of its way.
Biography of William Gaston
William Gaston, governor of Massachusetts, was born in Killingly, Conn., Oct. 3, 1820; son of Alexander and Kesia (Arnold) Gaston; and a descendant on his father's side from Jean Gaston, a French Huguenot; and on his mother's side from Thomas Arnold, who emigrated from England to New England in 1636. He attended the academies at Brooklyn and Plainfield, Conn., and was graduated from Brown in 1840. He was admitted to the bar in 1844 and began practice in Roxbury, Mass. He was a member of the state legislature in 1853-54 and 1856; was city solicitor of Roxbury for five years, and mayor in 1861 and 1862. He was state senator in 1868 and after the annexation of Roxbury to Boston he was mayor of the latter city, 1871-72. In 1874 he was elected governor of Massachusetts and served one term. He was married, May 27, 1852, to Louisa Augusta, daughter of Laban S. and Frances. A. (Lines) Beecher. He received the degree of LL.D. from Harvard and from Brown in 1875. He died in Boston, Mass., Jan. 19, 1894.
William Shadrach Knox Biographical Sketch
William Shadrach Knox, representative, was born at Killingly, Conn., Sept. 10, 1843; son of William and Rebecca (Walker) Knox; grandson of Samuel and Mary (Kimball) Knox, and of James and Hannah (Richardson) Walker. He removed with his parents to Lawrence, Mass., in 1852; was graduated from Amherst college in 1865; was admitted to the Essex bar in 1866, and began practice at Lawrence. He was a Republican representative in the state legislature, and served on the judiciary committee, 1874-75; was city solicitor of Lawrence, 1875-76 and 1887-90; and was representative from the fifth district in the 54th, 55th, 56th, 57th and 58th congresses, 1895-1905, serving as chairman of the committee on territories in the 55th and 56th congresses. He was twice married: first, Septembe.r, 1871, to Eunice B. Hussey, of Acton, Maine, who died March 27, 1897; and secondly, Nov. 26, 1898, to Helen Boardman, of Lawrence, Mass.
Biography of Amasa Learned
Amasa Learned, representative, was born at Killingly, Conn., Nov. 15, 1750; a descendant from William Learned, the emigrant in 1630. He was graduated from Yale in 1772, studied theology, and was licensed to preach. He was a representative from Connecticut iu the 2d and 3d congresses, 1791-95; was a member of the convention which ratified the constitution of the United States; a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1818, and for several years a representative in the state legislature. He married Grace Hallam. He received the degree of A.M. from Yale in 1783. He died in New London, Conn., May 4, 1825.
Charles Lewis Tiffany - A Biography
Charles Lewis Tiffany, merchant, was born at Killingly, Conn., Feb. 15, 1812; son of Comfort and Chloe (Draper) Tiffany, and a descendant of Humphrey Tiffany, who emigrated from England, and was killed by lightning near Boston, July 15, 1685. His father was a pioneer manufacturer of cotton goods. He attended school at Danielsonville, Conn., and Plainfield academy; engaged in business in Brooklyn, Conn., and later joined his father in the cotton manufactory, under the name of C. Tiffany and Son. In 1837 he became associated with John B. Young in the establishment of a stationery business in New York city. They also handled Chinese and Japanese goods, and French jewelry. Mr. Tiffany was married, Nov. 30, 1841, to Harriet Olivia Avery, daughter of Judge Ebenezer Young of Connecticut. In 1848 the firm began the manufacture of gold jewelry. During the panic that followed the disturbances in France in 1848, diamonds declined fifty per cent., and Mr. Tiffany invested all the available resources of the firm in the purchase of these gems. They consequently became the largest diamond merchants in the country. A branch house was established in Paris in 1850. The firm of Tiffany and Company were the first to introduce the English standard of sterling silver into the manufacture of silver ware. Mr. Tiffany was elected a chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France; and received the honor of Pr?mia Digno from the Emperor of Russia. He was a fellow of the Geographical society; a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and a member of the New York Historical society and of the Chamber of Commerce. He died in New York city, Feb. 18, 1902.
ADDITIONAL BIOGRAPHIES AVAILABLE:
Windham County Facts:Seat: Willimantic
Formed from: Hartford and New London
Killingly is situated 137 meters above sea level.