Fri Jun 5 1863: Willimantic and Vicinity.
We have a number of subscribers, former residents of this town and village, now scattered abroad, who, when remitting their subscriptions, not unfrequently have a word to say respecting their interest in the Journal, and the gratification they experience in reading the news from their old home. As specimens we present the following extracts from two letters recently received from gentlemen who formerly resided here. One, a prominent teacher, now occupying an honorable and responsible position, says:
"Put in everything that you hear or see in and around Willimantic. Nothing is so trivial that it does not interest the absent.***You have made an interesting and instructive paper; your selections are good; your genealogies must interest many; even the advertisements tell me who are the live merchants in your village."
The other, a merchant in a western city, writes:
"There is no bill that I pay more cheerfully than that for my Willimantic paper, more particularly at this time, as I never enjoyed it more than I do now.** I attribute its increased interest, in a great measure, to the fact that you pay more attention to local news than either of your predecessors have done, and that is just what we Willimantickers at a distance take it for."
To gratify this class of our subscribers we propose giving a few brief sketches of Willimantic, its present appearance and surroundings, with such facts and thoughts as may occur to us while visiting the different localities in and about the village. We cannot expect they will possess much interest, or any novelty to our home readers, and they may, if they please, pass over them without reading.
A word of personal explanation may not be inappropriate here. Some of our distant readers may not be aware that for nearly eight years we have been so much of an invalid as to be confined mostly to the house, only being able to ride about the village a little in the summer time. We have in consequence become, in some measure, a stranger in Willimantic, where we have passed most of our days, and every rood of ground, every hill and valley, rock and tree and stream have been as familiar to us from early childhood as our own home. With this explanation we proceed to give an account of our first trip about the village.
From our home we pass down Jackson street (named for Lyman Jackson, the worthy colored man who lived in the "house in the lot," where the writer spent the early years of his life) to Union, formerly called "Back" street, and across it to Main street, in front of the old Jillson mill, with its north end and belfry almost in the road. Here we stop to look about a little and the first thing that attracts our attention is the ruins the late fire on the premises of the Linen Company. The bleach and boiler house that stood here, which were consumed, occupied the site of the old yellow machine ship, where Jillson & Capen once carried on the manufacture of cotton machinery, and the blacksmith shop which stood near the old dam. This is an interesting locality; for here, on this identical spot, was established a foundry and "Iron Works," about 1725. The original Jillson mill which, had it not been for our water works, force pumps and hose connected with the different mills, would probably have gone with the boiler house the other night, looks as "natural as life"; and being now a part of the Linen establishment, is used principally for the manufacture and storage of spools for the thread manufactured by this company. These spools are made from the white birch, heretofore used mainly for pea-brush and bean-poles. The company use large quantities and pay from five to six dollars a cord for it. The spools are made by machinery especially adapted to the purpose, and are turned out with great rapidity. But we are traveling out of our present limits.
In passing we notice on the opposite side of the road that the Universalist meeting-house (lately Spiritualist) has undergone a metamorphosis, and is a meeting-house no longer. Mr. Geo. W. Burnham, the proprietor, altered the upper portion of it into tenements and fitted up the basement as a grocery store which is a very nice and convenient one. After passing the Duck mill we come to the new Thread mill and have a strong desire to go in and take a look, and see if we can discover the mysterious processes by which cotton is made as strong as linen and beautiful as silk. But even if we could render null and void the "No Admittance," which guards every entrance, and could obtain a pass from our friend Hall to make a tour of inspection through the mill, we should be obliged to forego the pleasure of a visit; for such a "getting up stairs" and so much walking as would be necessary to go the rounds would be more than we should venture to undertake.
This fine, large mill, built in such a substantial and tasteful manner, stands just above where the old "Iron Works" bridge stood on the river side of the road leading west. It covers the site of the school-house that stood here, which was the first one built on this side of the river. We will not at present attempt to describe the appearance of this mill, as we intend by and by to include a particular account of it in our "Historical Notes on Willimantic." Its site is so low that it does not show to good advantage.
Just below is the arch stone bridge (in place of the old wooden one) thrown across the Willimantic river, a fine, substantial structure, a enduring as time. At this end of the old bridge, on the east side of the road, as some of our readers will remember, formerly stood the "Light House," a small two-story grogshop, which in the early days of Willimantic dispensed liquor enough to the inhabitants to float it well on its way to Norwich, where most of the "ardent" came from in those days. But that is gone, and near by stands a waste house, belonging to the Linen Company.
We next come to the "Old Stone," which every teacher and pupil will remember who ever entered within its walls. We have a most feeling recollection of the time spent here as a teacher, for of all the miserable, ill-contrived schoolhouses ever built, this was, before it was remodeled, the cap-sheaf. The Linen Company own the land all around it, and we understand they desire to buy the house and land where it stands. We hope this is so, and that we shall have ere long a new schoolhouse of the right sort and in an eligible location.
Near the schoolhouse is the old "shackle dam," which leads over to the "Oven Hole," where in our boyhood days, about this time of year, we used often to go and see shad and salmon caught. Below the dam is the sawmill pond, and near it across the road just as you enter the "State," stands, silent and solitary, the venerable shop where Alfred Howes once presided and swung the blacksmith's hammer. One of the old buttonwoods is left standing near, looking the worse for wear, and somewhat mournfully reminding us of the past. Just below and across the way is the sawmill, looking very much as it did thirty or forty years ago, and there we saw "Uncle Orrin" in attendance where, if we mistake not, we used to see him when a schoolboy, looking just the same, apparently just as old and no older than he did then, giving us the impression that there is one individual among us not subject to the laws of fashion and change.
The old "State" has changed. For many years it was the same quiet, sleepy village, but it is so no longer; and we will say to our distant readers that greater changes are impending here, which will prevent its being recognized; and those who wish to see it as it is, with some of its ancient characteristics, must visit it soon. The old mill, the Howes house opposite, the woolen factory, the carding factory, and the old fulling mills, &c., are all gone. The ancient paper mill is altered into a grist mill, and there is very little that will remind one of the "State" as it was forty years ago. All that is venerable is soon to disappear, and in its place a new and splendid factory is to be erected, a modern village built, and the place which once knew it will know it no more forever.
We omit further notice of the proposed mill and improvements by the Linen Company, as we intend to speak more particularly of them in another place.
We pass along down to Wellsville, the place where modern Willimantic began: and a sorry beginning it was. But of this in our "Notes." This is a very quiet and pleasant part of the village. The fields are green, the trees are putting forth, the factory and buildings look neat, and everything about has a pleasing rural look. The old Baker house, now owned, by Scott Smith, is the only building that reminds us of former times. Capt. Capen's residence and buildings look neat and in good repair, and the lands about appear to be under excellent cultivation. In fact all the lots about here, including those down on the "Point," and towards the Horseshoe, which are mostly in grass, present a fine, fresh appearance.
We pass the Mansfield road by Mr. Rollinson's, where Mr. Keyes formerly lived, by the Waldo Cary place (anciently Skiff) now owned by John S. Smith, where we discover some appearance of former days. On going up the "Sandy Hill," as it was formerly called, we come to a plat of about sixteen acres of land, which was included in the hither pasture, north meadow and great pasture of the Cary farm. It is the tongue of land between Jackson street and the old Mansfield road, which unite at Mr. Nathaniel Robinson's. This property was owned for some years by Mr. Martin Harris, of this village, who, by the application of an abundance of manure and the expenditure of a large amount of elbow grease, brought it into a high state of cultivation. A few years since, Mr. Harris sold this land to Messrs. J.R. Fry and J.A. Lewis, who now own it in equal shares, we believe. Mr. Fry has built him a very pretty cottage on his part of the land, which is nearest Mr. Robinson's, and his fields show that they are tilled by a neat farmer, who need not be ashamed of his work.
Mr. Lewis has also built him a modern-styled house, which is nearly opposite the grove in the great pasture, and when he gets things in trim about it, he will have a very pretty and desirable place. As most of our village readers know, Mr. Lewis is the proprietor of the Willimantic Nursery, and a large portion of his land is in growing trees, shrubs and plants. Mr. L. seems to be the right sort of man for this business, and has any amount of industry and go-aheadativeness. His nursery appears to be in fine condition, and is worth taking quite a journey to see. We are glad to learn that his enterprise is being well rewarded, his sales having been quite large this spring. We do not say this by way of puffing, for Mr. L. does not need anything of the sort; but because we consider his establishment a great benefit and convenience to Willimantic and the neighboring towns. Mr. L. does, however, understand the value of printer's ink, and is a shrewd enough Yankee to be willing to invest a dollar in advertising when he is morally sure that he will obtain five or ten dollars in return--a lesson which many engaged in business are very slow to learn.
But we fear we are making the description of our trip too lengthy; though as to the trip itself, we can assure our readers, it was most delightful. We will merely add that we found the eastern part of our pleasant village looking thrifty and greatly improved in most respects since we last went the rounds.
Hoping to give our distant friends some accounts of our further explorations at another time, we close our long rambling account of this our first trip of the season. W.L.W.
Fri Jun 5 1863: We reproduce from the Press a sketch of Gen. Grant, from a private letter of Mr. Fred. Law Olmstead: "He is one of the most engaging men I ever saw. Small, quiet, gentle, modest--extremely, even uncomfortably modest--frank, confiding, and of an excessively kind disposition. He gives you the impression of a man of strong will, however, and of capacity underlying these feminine traits. As a general, I should think his quality was that of quick, common - sense judgment, unobstructed by prejudice, and deep, abiding, quiet resolution. The openness of mind, directness, simplicity and rapidity of reasoning, and clearness, with consequent confidence, of conclusion, of Gen. Grant is very delightful. Those about him become deeply attached to him.
Fri Jun 5 1863: The Massachusetts Colored Regiment.--A Boston dispatch of Thursday of last week says: "One of the most exciting and demonstrative local military events of the war was the departure of the 54th regiment (colored) to-day for South Carolina. The ranks were entirely full, the men in regular United States uniform, splendidly equipped, and headed by a full band of colored musicians. After being received on the common by Gov. Andrew and staff, the regiment embarked on the new steamer De Molay, and will at once leave. The march of the regiment through the city was attended by enthusiastic cheering, and such vast crowds as lined the streets have seldom before been seen. The men marched well and presented a soldierly appearance."
Fri Jun 5 1863: The Stafford News Letter of last week says: Last Friday a Miss Jane Taylor of Willimantic stole some clothing from Saml. P. Sterry of Tolland. Deputy Sheriff Chapman was put on her track on Saturday, and found her in Willimantic, returning with her to Tolland about 3 o'clock Sunday morning. On Monday she was brought before Justice Bishop, plead guilty, and was sent to the Co. Work house for 20 days, no doubt thinking there was no "peace unto the wicked," not even a piece of dress, if it was stolen.
Fri Jun 5 1863: Warren Whitmarsh, the member of the First Conn. Cavalry, who was recently sentenced by court martial to be shot, and the execution of which sentence was to have been performed Friday, at Fort Trumbull, New London, has been reprieved by the President, in consequence of military circumstances. The reprieve was received on Thursday evening.
Fri Jun 5 1863: Capt. Charles J. Arms, of the Twentieth Regiment, arrived home on Saturday.
Fri Jun 5 1863: We omitted to mention, a few days since, the arrival home of Lieut. Henry P. Goddard, of the Fourteenth, formerly of the Bulletin. He has been suffering severely from the effect of the concussion of a shell. He hopes to be out again shortly.--Bulletin.
Fri Jun 5 1863: In Putnam, says the Transcript, on Thursday of last week, Mrs. Elice Elwood, an aged lady, fell and broke the neck of the thigh bone; and on Saturday the wife of Orrin Potter was thrown from a wagon, causing a fracture of a collar bone, and she was otherwise considerably bruised.
Fri Jun 5 1863: The N.Y. Times has news from Alexandria, La., on the Red River, to 12th inst., from one of its special correspondents. Gen. Banks still had his headquarters there, but his troops were moving up the river towards the enemy. The correspondent makes the somewhat startling announcement that four transports, with troops from Gen. Hunter's Department, were at New Orleans, and others coming.
Fri Jun 5 1863: The late Major Charles Larrabee--Correction.
There were several errors in our notice of the late Maj. Larrabee, copied partly from the Courant and partly derived from an informant who, we supposed, was acquainted with the facts.
From letters kindly sent us by Thos. D. Webb, Esq., of Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and from Capt. Adam Larrabee, of Windham, we are enabled to make the necessary corrections. Maj. Larrabee was the son of John Larrabee, not Charles, as we stated. He was with Harrison at Tippecanoe, with Hull at Detroit, lost his arm at Brownstown, was taken prisoner at Detroit, re-taken on a transport near Fort Erie, and was on the staff of Gen. Macomb, at Plattsburg, the last summer of the war. After the war he was stationed at Fort Snelling and other Western posts, and was for a time Collector of the port of Cincinnati. He married Elizabeth Hathaway, of Rome, N.Y., and had two children, Charles H., of Wisconsin, and a daughter, who died at Cincinnati when a child.
Mr. Webb says: "He was not wounded at Lundy's Lane, and I am confident he was not in that battle. He was wounded near Detroit, about the time of Hull's surrender, taken prisoner and had his arm amputated in Canada by a British surgeon. He was under Harrison in 1811, at the battle of Tippecanoe. After his exchange or re-capture--for I believe he and others were retaken by Capt. Jesse. D. Elliott, of the Navy, at Fort Erie, as the British were taking them down to Lake Ontario and Montreal--he was under Wade Hampton, Wilkinson and others in several battles on the St. Lawrence, in Canada and New York."
Fri Jun 5 1863: We have received the Eleventh Annual Report of the State Reform School, which represents this excellent Institution in a sound and flourishing condition. The whole number of inmates on the first of April was 198. Superintendent Hatch seems to be the right man in the right place. Our old friend Saxton B. Little still fills the place of Assistant Superintendent and principal teacher most admirably and acceptably.
Fri Jun 5 1863: The Legislature: On Wednesday, an effort was made to pass an act to increase the pay of members of the House to $2.50 and of Senators to $3.00, but it failed.
Fri Jun 5 1863: The War.
There has been no very startling occurrences during the past week. Vicksburg has not been taken, and the prospect of its immediate capture is not very flattering. The siege is slowly progressing. On the 22d there was a general assault on the works, but our forces were repulsed at all points, with a reported loss of 2500 in killed and wounded. At the same time gunboats shelled the batteries in front without serious results.
The gunboats sent up to Yazoo city were entirely successful. They destroyed the rebel navy yard, several unfinished gunboats and rams, and some $2,000,000 worth of property. The gunboat Cincinnati has been sunk before Vicksburg by the rebel batteries. Twenty-five men were killed and wounded, and 15 were missing. The following is the latest from Vicksburg: Scouts report that Gen. Johnston is advancing. One army corps drew seven days' rations and marched to meet him. At daylight Saturday his advance was stated to be between the Yazoo and Big Black rivers, with the intention of retaking Haine's Bluff, and breaking up communications by the Yazoo route. His force is estimated at from 15,000 to 35,000. Gen. Grant is confident of his ability to defeat him without raising the siege.
From Port Hudson we have interesting intelligence: A dispatch in the N.O. Era of the 24th, dated Port Hudson Plains, May 22d, says "Yesterday Augur's whole division were engaged in a nine hour's fight on Port Hudson Plains, four miles in the rear of Port Hudson, on the Bayou Sara road. The rebels were thoroughly whipped and left a large number of killed and wounded on the field. The rebel Gen. Gardner sent in a flag of truce at midnight, asking permission to bury his dead. We took 100 prisoners. The enemy was driven three miles from his first position, and Gen. Augur bivouacked on the battlefield. Our loss was twelve killed and fifty-six wounded. Our men fought with great bravery.
The divisions of Gen. Grover and Gen. Weitzel have joined those in Augur and Sherman, and the complete investment of Port Hudson has been accomplished. Its fall is regarded as a mere question of time, even should Gen. Banks decline to sacrifice life by storming the defenses of the place. While the army in the rear are pouring in a continuous fire from a hundred heavy guns, the mortars and gunboats on the river are raining a constant shower of shot and shell from the river. The garrison is estimated at from 4,000 to 10,000 men, and scantily supplied with provisions.
Rumors have been plenty of the movements of Lee's army but nothing definite is ascertained. It is also rumored that Rosecrans was advancing and that Burnside is about to take the field, but we have no confirmation of these reports.
A dispatch from Burnside to Bragg, announcing his determination to hang all rebel officers in his hands in case of retaliation for the two spies tried and executed in accordance with the usages of war should be resorted to by the rebel Government, has been conveyed from Murfreesboro under a flag of truce.
The 18th Connecticut Regiment is at Winchester, Va.
The Chattanooga Rebel gives a long list of buildings, including cotton factories, churches, mills, stores, dwellings, &c., that were burnt during the Federal occupation Jackson. Great quantities of cotton, sugar and molasses were burnt, railroad bridges for a distance of several miles from the city were burnt, and a large number of negroes, horses, hogs, and mules carried off. The total loss is estimated at five millions of dollars.
The New London Star says the effective force now at Fort Trumbull, including both officers and men, have been ordered to the seat of war. The 14th infantry band will accompany them, the whole under the command of Major Williams.
Admiral Foote is reported in New York, en route to take command of the Atlantic blockading squadron.
Fri Jun 5 1863: The New Dam and Thread Mill.--Work has been commenced at and about the old State, preparatory to building a dam and laying the foundations of the new mill--all we presume that will be done this year. The dam is to be built across the Willimantic river opposite the stone part of the present grist mill which was formerly the old paper mill. It is to be eighteen feet high, built of stone, in the most substantial manner, and laid in water cement. The proposed new mill, we understand, is to be 640 feet long--with the exception of Sprague's cotton mill at Sprague, the largest mill in the State. It will be built of the native Willimantic stone (gneiss), and will be a fine, substantial structure. The building is to be located mainly on the present street and will extend from near the east end of the saw mill to the house (formerly the old woolen factory) where the Pages lived when they operated the paper mill. A new street is to be opened north of the present one, under the hill. The grist mill, remnants of the paper mill, and saw mill, are all to be taken away to make room for the new concern. The boiler and bleach houses are to be between the mill and the river. In connection with the new works there is to be a steam engine of sufficient power, so that there will never be a necessity for stoppage on account of low water. Mr. Nathaniel Olin, of Plainfield, who had charge of the stone work of the present thread mill, and has done much work in Willimantic, has contracted to do all the stone work of the dam and mill--a sufficient guarantee that it will be done in the most thorough and workmanlike manner.
Fri Jun 5 1863: Sale of Real Estate.Â—We understand that Mr. James P. Howes has sold his real estate in this village to Mr. Allen Lincoln of Chaplin. It consists of his residence on Union street and about ten acres of land. Mr. Howes, we hear, obtained a pretty stiff price for it; but the property is a valuable one, near the center of the village, and is susceptible of great improvements. It has an opening on Union street and one on Jackson street and, we understand, Mr. Lincoln intends to open a street through the land, and offer portions of it for building lots. Mr. Howes, we believe, has purchased the house and lot on Jackson street, now occupied by Mr. Silas Jagger.
Fri Jun 5 1863: Lieut. Wm. S. Purington, Co. B, 5th Connecticut, son of Mr. Benj. Purington, of this place, is home on a furlough. He has shared the vicissitudes and hardships of this gallant regiment and it is pretty good evidence that he is a brave and faithful soldier that he has been promoted from the ranks to a Lieutenancy. He was in the severe battle at Cedar Mountain, where he was taken prisoner, and was four months in Richmond before he was released, where he had a pretty hard time of it. In the recent battle on the Rappahannock he was again taken prisoner and spent a week in Richmond, when he was paroled. This is his first visit home.
Fri Jun 5 1863: Rev. D. Mullen, late of Willimantic, left for South Providence, R.I., having taken charge of St. Bernard's Church. Rev. H. DeBruycker who, for the last six months, has been attending the Catholic French and Germans of Connecticut and Rhode Island, has been appointed pastor of the Roman Catholic church in this place.
Fri Jun 5 1863: On Monday evening the moon rose partially eclipsed, and continued till nearly half past eight o'clock.
Fri Jun 5 1863: Frank M. Lincoln, of North Windham, has been appointed deputy U.S. Enrolling officer for the 17th sub-district, embracing Windham and Scotland.
Fri Jun 5 1863: Roderick Davison, of this village, has been appointed Deputy Sheriff for Windham County.
Fri Jun 5 1863: Captain Charles Thompson, late of Windham Center, was recently captured by the rebels near Suffolk, Va., with a stock of ready-made clothing, which he was selling in that vicinity, and taken to Richmond. We understand that his wife received a letter from him last Tuesday, dated at the Confederate capital; so it seems there is no doubt but the rebels have got him. We shall have some curiosity to learn from the Captain, when he gets around this way again, what he thinks of his "Southern brethren" and matters and things 'away down South in Dixie."
Fri Jun 5 1863: Marriages
In Willimantic, May 29, by Rev. H. DeBruycker, William Crabb, of the 7th C.V., and Ellen Lynch, both of Sprague.
June 6, Mr. Edward A. Patt, of Central Falls, R.I. and Jennie M., daughter of Averil Hebard, Esq., of Windham, Conn.
Fri Jun 5 1863: Deaths
In Willimantic, May 29, Mrs. Lucy Crane, wife of Mr. Cordial S. Crane, aged 83.
In Norwich, may 30, Miss Mary Louise, daughter of Mr. E.S. Simpson, late of Willimantic, aged 19.
In South Coventry, May 22, Mr. George Boynton, aged 60.
In Lebanon, on Saturday, May 20, Mr. Edwin Thomas, of Co. H. 18th C.V. He came home on a furlough sick and died quite suddenly.
Fri Jun 5 1863: I Hereby give notice that my wife, Mary L. Thompson, has left my bed and board without any provocation and I forbid any person harboring or trusting her on my account from date. John Thompson Coventry, June 2, 1863
Fri Jun 5 1863: At a Court of Probate holden at Windham, within and for the District of Windham on the 1st day of June, A.D. 1863. Present, Justin Swift, Esq., Judge. On motion of Betsey Bellfield Executrix of the last will and testament of James Bellfield late of Windham within said district deceased: This court doth decree that six months be allowed and limited for the creditors of said estate to exhibit their claims against the same to the executrix ad directs that public notice be given of this order by posting a copy thereof on the public sign-post in Willimantic. Certified from Record, Wm. Swift, Clerk.
Fri Jun 5 1863: At a Court of Probate holden at Coventry within and for the district of Coventry, on the 25th day of May, A.D. 1863. Present, Andrew K. Brown, Esq., Judge. Upon the petition of Eunice C. Colman, of Coventry, in the County of Tolland, showing to this Court that she is Guardian of Lucy A. Colman, George E. Colman, Maria P. Colman and Maria E. Colman, of Coventry, within said district, minors. That said minors are the owners of real estate situated in said Coventry, viz. A certain tract of land, bounded easterly and southerly on highway leading from Joseph Colman's to Oliver Edgerton, westerly on land of Patrick Brannegan, and northerly on land of Jesse W. Hatch, with dwelling house and barn standing thereon, containing about thirty three acres of land, more or less, and subject to the life estate of the widow Eunice C. Colman;--the whole of said estate being valued at about fourteen hundred and fifty-five dollars: That it would be for the interest of said minors that said estate be sold and the avails thereof invested in other real estate: praying for liberty to sell said property for the purpose aforesaid, as per petition on file. It is ordered by this Court; That said Guardian give notice of said application, by causing the same to be published in a newspaper printed in Willimantic, in the County of Windham, three weeks successively, at least six weeks before the hearing: and said petition will be heard at the Probate Office in said district on the first day of August the next, at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Certified from Record. A.K. Brown, Judge.