Archive for the ‘Wethersfield’ Category

Deacon Simeon Francis House (1800)

Friday, September 29th, 2017 Posted in Federal Style, Houses, Wethersfield | No Comments »

At the corner of Nott Street and Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield is a house (248 Nott Street) built in 1800 by Deacon Simeon Francis (1770-1823). Five Children of Simeon Francis would eventually move west, making an epic journey. As described in Indiana and Indianans, Vol. III (1919) by Jacob Piatt Dunn:

Five of the Francis brothers and their two sisters, children of Simeon and Mary Ann, decided after the death of their parents to leave their old home in Wethersfield and seek a new home in the west. Charles and Simeon left home sometime previously. The others embarked on the sloop Falcon at Hartford September 17, 1829, their journey being down the Connecticut River and through Long Island Sound to New York, thence up the Hudson River to Albany and across the state by the Erie Canal to Buffalo, where they were joined by their brother Simeon. A sailing vessel took them over Lake Erie to Sandusky, and thence they procured wagons to cross the State of Ohio to Cincinnati. After a journey fraught with much exposure and lack of proper nourishment they reached Cincinnati, and were thence borne by a small steamboat down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to St. Louis, barely escaping with their lives through the wrecking of one of the boats. They were seventy-seven days in making the journey which can now be made with comfort in less than one-third as many hours.

In 1831 Simeon, Josiah and John went to Springfield, Illinois, taking with them a little old printing press which they brought from Connecticut. On November 10, 1831, the first issue of the Sangamon Journal, now the Illinois State Journal, was brought out by these brothers. Simeon and Allen Francis fostered the youthful ambitions of Abraham Lincoln by loaning him a copy of Blackstone and all the other books possible. They also introduced Mr. Lincoln to the leading social and professional figures of Springfield. It was at the home of Allen Francis that Mr. Lincoln met Miss Todd, whom he subsequently married. Mr. Lincoln reciprocated in 1861 by appointing Simeon Francis paymaster of all the troops in the Northwest, with the rank of colonel, and stationed at Vancouver, Washington. In 1870 he was retired on half pay and returned to Portland, where he established the Portland Oregonian, still a power in the newspaper field.

Mentioned in the above is Allen Francis (1815-1887), who was born in the Wethersfield house. As described in Francis; Descendants of Robert Francis of Wethersfield, Conn. (1906), compiled by Charles E. Francis:

He went to St. Louis when a young man and resided there until 1834. He then moved to Springfield, Ill., and in 1846 he became connected with his brothers. Charles and Simeon, in publishing the Sangamon County Journal, at which time they erected the new Journal buildings. He was for many years a member of the city council of Springfield. In 1861 President Lincoln appointed him the first consul to Victoria, Vancouver’s Island. He resigned in 1884. With his sons he was afterwards engaged in the fur trade with the Indians on the Pacific coast. [. . .]

It was through Hon. Allen Francis that Secretary Seward gained the information concerning the varied resources of Alaska which determined him to enter into negotiations with Russia for its purchase. He was a firm and intimate friend of President Lincoln, and it was at his home in Springfield that
Mr. Lincoln met Miss Todd, whom he subsequently married.

Thomas Harris House (1755)

Saturday, August 19th, 2017 Posted in Colonial, Greek Revival, Houses, Wethersfield | No Comments »

The house at 117 Maple Street in Wethersfield was built c. 1755. It was the homestead of Thomas Harris (1695-1774) and remained in the Harris family for many years. The area around the Harris Homestead, where members of the family built other houses, was known as Harris Hill. Harris had a son, Thomas Harris, Jr., who died in 1774 from injuries sustained at a barn raising. His son, Thomas Harris III (1771-1829) had a son, Chauncey Harris (1816-1875), who was principal of Hartford’s South School, which was later renamed for him. Chauncey Harris also served as the city’s Superintendent of Schools.

Josiah Robbins House (1800)

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 Posted in Federal Style, Houses, Wethersfield | No Comments »

The house at 401 Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield is thought to have been built about 1800 by Josiah Robbins. It originally stood to the south and was later moved to its current location. During the Revolutionary War, Josiah Robbins (1724-1794) served in Capt. Hart’s company in Col. Samuel Blatchley Webb‘s regiment from 1777 to 1781. He was then transferred to the Sappers and Miners and served under Capt. David Bushnell at the Battle of Yorktown.

Charles Wolcott House (1840)

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 Posted in Greek Revival, Houses, Wethersfield | No Comments »

Dated to c. 1840-1850 (or perhaps as early as 1820), the hip-roofed house at 431 Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield was the home of Charles Wolcott [possibly Charles Wolcott (1819-1900)]. In the mid-twentieth century it was owned by William C. Stuart. The chimney has been move from its original position.

Wethersfield United Methodist Church (1959)

Sunday, June 11th, 2017 Posted in Churches, Colonial Revival, Wethersfield | No Comments »

Jesse Lee, a pioneering Methodist clergyman, preached the first Methodist sermon in Connecticut in Norwalk in June, 1789. He continued his journey through the state, preaching in various towns, and reached Wethersfield in March, 1790. There he preached the town’s first Methodist Sermon in the North Brick School House, now the site of Standish Park. Itinerant Methodist preachers continued to visit Wethersfield in the ensuing years. Starting in 1821, Wethersfield Methodists were served by a circuit preacher. As related in a Brief Historical Sketch of the Wethersfield M.E. Church (1882):

The early services were held in Academy hall, against the solemn protest of some of the leading men of the town, who no doubt thought they were doing God service by resisting what might have seemed to them as a pernicious innovation of the established creed of the State. So bitter was the feeling toward the Methodists that the place where the meeting was appointed was not only forbidden them, but the building was barricaded, and the means for lighting it were taken away. Great indignation was manifested among the people who had assembled, and an officer of the town was detailed to read the riot act and bid them disperse.

But those friends of the church in the early days were not men who were easily discouraged. Persevering in their purpose they gained access to the hall, and when Mr. Pease was about to open the meeting, an officer appeared at the door and ordered the people away under penalty of the law. Mr. Pease, holding the only candle in the hall, boldly replied, “We have not come here for any riot, but to serve the living God; let us pray.” The meeting then proceeded without further trouble, and proved productive of much good.

The town’s first Methodist Church building, now Temple Beth Torah, was erected on Main Street in 1824. The building, moved 26 feet onto a new stone foundation, was much enlarged and rebuilt in the Queen Anne style in 1882. The Wethersfield United Methodist Church erected a new church building, at 150 Prospect Street, in 1959. A 2005 addition serves as the church’s Family Life Center.

Joseph Adams House (1795)

Saturday, June 10th, 2017 Posted in Federal Style, Houses, Wethersfield | No Comments »

Built in 1795, or perhaps earlier, the house at 76 Prospect Street in Wethersfield was originally the home of Joseph Adams (1755-1801), who operated a mill. Shortly before his death he married Mary Forbes, widow of Leonard Dix, and moved into the Dix House on Wolcott Hill Road. The Adams House was then occupied by his son, Joseph Adams, Jr. (1783-1834), who kept a general store on Main Street.

American Legion Hall – Griffith Academy (1874)

Sunday, May 28th, 2017 Posted in Churches, Folk Victorian, Organizations, Wethersfield | No Comments »

The building at 275 Main Street, at the corner of Hartford Avenue, in Wethersfield, was built c. 1874-1876 as a Baptist Church. Declining membership led the church society to vote to disband in 1918 and deed their Main Street property to the Town of Wethersfield for use as a library. The town decided not to proceed with that project and in 1922 the building was sold to Russell K. Bourne D.S.C. Post of the American Legion, which changed it name to the Bourne-Keeney Post 23 in 1949. The name honors Russell K. Bourne, who was killed in action in 1918 during the First World War, and Robert A. Keeney, who lost his life when the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1945. The second floor hall of the building maintains the deck of the Minerva, used as training ground for the town’s Sea Scouts. In 2014, the Legion Post sold the building to the Griffith Academy, which teaches Irish dance. The Academy had been renting the Hall for many decades. The veterans continue to use the building as well, now renting the basement.