PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903      P.  434 & 435

CHARLES P. BACKUS, the cashier of the Windham County National Bank, at Danielson, is one of the rising young financiers of eastern Connecticut. His present standing in banking circles, and the esteem and confidence that he commands, he has earned by his individual effort.

The Backus family is of English origin and was founded in America by three brothers, two of whom located in Canterbury, Conn., the third settling in Norwich. Stephen Backus, one of the emigrants, located first in Canterbury, but later moved to Eastford, which at that time was called Ashford, and there followed farming for many years. Prior to his decease he returned to Canterbury, where he died at the age of eighty-four years, and there his remains lie. At one time in his life he was possessed of ample means, but misfortune caused the loss of a considerable portion of it. The first marriage of Stephen Backus was to Miss Susan Welch, daughter of a minister. She left two children, Eunice and George. The second marriage of Mr. Backus was to Esther (Jennings) Chapman, who died at the age of seventy-two years. By her first union she had children as follows: Lewis, who died in Pennsylvania; Dilla, who married Stephen Wood, removed to Pennsylvania, and died in that State; Cynthia, who married William Mathews and also moved to Pennsylvania; Tryphena and Irena, twins, the former of whom died young, and the latter of whom married Gurdon Withey, and died in Woodstock, Conn.; Eli and Levi, twins, the former of whom was a cooper in early life, and later became a wealthy farmer, living near Hartford, where he died; Levi died while young, from the effects of falling into a kettle of hot water. One child was born to the second marriage of Mr. Backus, Timothy Jennings, who became the grandfather of Charles P. Backus, of Danielson.

Timothy Jennings Backus was born in Eastford, then Ashford, Conn., June 17, 1811. Like other lads in the vicinity, he attended the winter schools, but was early put to work at the shoe-making trade, a most excellent one in those days, before the establishment of the great factories. Later he became a peddler of Yankee notions, his stock including also silks and ginghams. With his wagon he covered almost all of the eastern part of Connecticut and western Rhode Island, his employers belonging to the latter State. For several years, until his marriage, he followed this business, locating then in Eastford where he bought a small farm in the south part of the town and engaged in tilling the soil for a number of years, also supplying the demand for shoes in his vicinity.

In 1884 Mr. Backus removed to Eastford Center, the home of his second wife, and resided there until her death. After a few years of boarding, he made his home at Eastford Center with his daughter, Mrs. Susan Smith, and there he died, Jan. 3, 1901, and was interred at Phoenixville. Although almost ninety years of age, Mr. Backus was remarkably vigorous and possessed a very retentive memory which made him a pleasant companion. His early political sympathies had been with the Democratic party, but later he became identified with the Republicans, He was a man of good business ability and had accumulated ample means.

The first marriage of Timothy J. Backus occurred July 15, 1838, to Sally Hill Wilson, born in Plainfield, Sept. 12, 1811, daughter of Nathaniel and Zilphia (Wheeler) Wilson; she died May 10, 1880, and was laid to rest at Phoenixville. Of the children of this marriage, (1) Susan Jane, born Aug. 19, 1839, married Samuel H. Smith and resides in Eastford. (2) Zilphia Wheeler, born June 21, 1842, married Henry Whittaker and died Sept. 25, 1877, in Phoenixville, her five children being: Charles W., who married Jennie Beebe, and resides in Springfield, Mass.; Henry J., who married Lillie Stone, and resides in Worcester, Mass.; Zilphia Ellen, who died single; Susan Jane, who married Q.V. Ball; and Abel E., who resides in Worcester, Mass. (3) Eli Nathaniel, the youngest son of this family, became the father of Charles Palmer Backus, of this sketch.

Eli Nathaniel Backus was born Jan. 11, 1845, in Eastford, and remained on the home farm until he was about twenty-two years of age. Going then to Willimantic, he learned the butcher trade and followed this business at various locations in the State, being for a long time a resident of New Britain. His death occurred in Putnam, May 31, 1899, and he was buried at Phoenixville. Mr. Backus returned to the old traditions of the family in his political opinions, and was a staunch Democrat. He took an interest in several secret organizations, and was a member of Harmony Lodge, No. 20, A.F.&A.M., of New Britain; was an Odd Fellow, and belonged to other orders.

On May 11, 1869, Eli N. Backus was united in marriage with Annie Elizabeth Palmer, born June 14, 1848, a native of Willimantic, daughter of Amos Burrows and Elizabeth (Freeman) Palmer. The children born to this union were two sons and one daughter, viz.: Charles P., of this sketch; Harry Burr, born Nov. 22, 1873, who died Feb. 8, 1882; and Annie Elizabeth, born Nov. 15, 1875, wife of Orean T. Babcock, of Hartford.

Charles Palmer Backus was born July 16, 1870, in New Britain, Conn., and was six years of age when his parents removed to Willimantic, where his education was received in the public schools. In the winter of 1886-87 he left school to accept a position as clerk in the Windham National Bank, at Willimantic, where he remained for six and one-half years, during four years of that time being teller of the bank. In August, 1893, he resigned this position in order to accept that of cashier of the Windham County National Bank, at Brooklyn, succeeding John P. Wood, who died in the previous month of June. In September, 1894, the bank was re-organized, and in May, 1895, it was removed to Danielson.

In 1894, Mr. Backus was elected treasurer of Windham county, an honor which had never before been bestowed upon so young a man. He has efficiently held the position ever since. Since 1894 he has been one of the directors of the Windham County National Bank, and is also the president of the Uncas Knitting Company, at Danielson, having been one of the organizers of the company. Fraternally he is prominent both in Masonic circles and in the order of Knights of Pythias; in 1896 he became a member of Moriah Lodge, No. 15, A.F.& A.M.; he belongs also to Warren Chapter, No. 12, R.A.M., Montgomery Council, No. 2, R. & S.M.; Columbian Commandery, K.T., of Norwich; Connecticut Sovereign Consistory, of Norwich, and Sphinx Temple of the Mystic Shrine, of Hartford. In the Knights of Pythias he belongs to Orient Lodge, No. 37, and Charles H. Bacon Company, Uniform Rank. While a resident of Willimantic, he attached himself to the Congregational Church, later transferring his membership to Danielson.

On Dec. 30, 1893, Mr. Backus was married to Bertha M. Adams, of Weathersfield, Conn., daughter of George W. Adams. A son and daughter have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Backus, namely: Harold Adams, born April 4, 1895; and Pauline, born Sept. 27, 1898.

Mr. Backus is a man who has a wide circle of both business and personal friends. His upright methods, as well as his business sagacity, have won him the confidence of investors, while pleasant manners and generous good fellowship have made him personally popular.

PALMER. The American ancestor of the Stonington Palmers was Walter Palmer, a native of London, England, where he was born about 1585. He was first married in England, and as early as 1628, with his brother Abraham, a merchant of London, and others, came to New England. For a time he was at Salem, Mass., then with others founded the city of Charlestown in 1629. In 1643 he removed to the Plymouth Colony, thence, with others, went to Rehoboth, of which town he was a number of times selectman, held other public offices, and was the first representative from the town, to the General Assembly or Court. Finally in 1653 he removed to Stonington, Conn. He married (second) in 1633, Rebecca Short, who came to New England in 1632. Mr. Palmer died Nov. 10, 1661. Six children were born to his first marriage and seven to the second.

Amos Palmer was a native of Voluntown, or North Stonington, Conn., where he became engaged in farming. He removed to Willimantic when his son, Amos B., was about seven years old. There he became possessed of property and “Palmer Hill” was named for him. That was his residence for the rest of his life and there he died at the age of eighty-one years. He was buried in Willimantic. Mr. Palmer was a member of the Baptist Church. His first marriage was to a Miss Lewis, and they became the parents of six children, namely: Mary, who married Courtland Whitehead, and died in Willimantic; Emily, who married Henry Benchley, and died in Willimantic; Sarah, who married Edon Seaman, and died in Norwich, Conn.; Charles, who went West in pioneer times, and all trace of whom was lost; Amos B., who became the grandfather of Mr. Backus, of this sketch; and Lucy, who married John Smith, and died in Willimantic. By a second marriage he had two children, namely: Courtland, who married Harriet Upton, and was a farmer in Willimantic; and Melissa, who married James Benchley and resides in Providence. A third marriage was without issue. His fourth wife was Julia Harris, who survived him several years. Their one child was Amanda, who died at the age of eighteen years.

Amos Burrows Palmer was born Dec. 30, 1820, in Voluntown, and he came to Willimantic when a mere boy, at a period when but few houses had been erected in the present flourishing industrial city. He was reared in a school of labor and when but eight years old went to work in the cotton mill. From the lowest position he became at length superintendent of the great Willimantic Cotton mills, serving for a long period. When he resigned that position it was to enter into a partnership with W.L. Harrington, under the firm name of William L. Harrington & Co., in the operation of a clothing store in Willimantic. He was also interested with Charles M. Palmer & Co. (his son) in the dry-goods business in which he continued until his death, Dec. 5, 1887. He was buried in Willimantic; as he was a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, his obsequies were conducted by that order. During his whole life he had advocated the principles of the Republican party, and represented Windham in the Legislature in 1886.

Mr. Palmer was married in Willimantic to Elizabeth Freeman, born in Colchester, Conn., in November, 1823, who died in Willimantic in September, 1887. Their family consisted of but two children. Charles M., born Aug. 6, 1844, married Emma Chaffee. At the age of eighteen he was overseer in the mill and followed factory life for a number of years. Later he went into the dry-goods business, in which he continued until his death in March, 1895. His widow and a son, Clarence C., reside in Willimantic. The second child was Mrs. Backus, the estimable and beloved mother of Charles P. Backus, of Danielson.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel


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