Deacon Simeon Francis House (1800)

September 29th, 2017 Posted in Federal Style, Houses, Wethersfield

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.

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