GEORGE MASON HOLT

BIOGRAPHY

AS RECORDED IN:

COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF 
TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND REPRESENTATIVE  CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903     P.  982

GEORGE MASON HOLT, owner and operator of one of the most highly cultivated estates of Hampton, Windham county, known as the Elm Dale farm, is also one of the leading citizens of the town.

James Holt, father of George Mason Holt, was born Feb. 17, 1786, in Hampton, and in early manhood learned the trades of tanner and shoemaker, and followed them for many years.  Later in life he abandoned the former pursuit and followed farming during the summers and worked in his shoe shop during the winters.  He occupied several rented farms in Hampton at various times and finally purchased a farm of Charles I. Grosvenor, the same one now occupied by his son, and there Mr. Holt passed his last years.  He was an extensive farmer and also dealt largely in live stock, driving many head of stock thirty-six miles to market in Providence, R.I.  In almost any line of business Mr. Holt would have been a successful man, for he possessed rugged health and great industry combined with business sagacity which enabled him to accumulate large means.  In his early political life he was a Democrat, but after the formation of the Republican party, he adopted its principles as being more in accord with his views.  He efficiently filled many of the town offices and was well and favorably known through the town.  The cause of his death was a stroke of paralysis, which rendered him somewhat of an invalid for the last six years of his life.  His death occurred Dec. 23, 1865, and he was interred in the burying ground north of his home.

Abigail (Ashley) Holt, the mother of George Mason Holt, was born March 1, 1790, daughter of Samuel Ashley, a farmer of Hampton, and her death took place Oct. 24, 1873.  The children born to James and Abigail (Ashley) Holt were as follows:  Mary Ann, born Aug. 25, 1810, who married Joseph F. Holmes, a bookkeeper, and resided for many years in Providence, R.I., but died in Hampton, April 17, 1880;  Sylvester G., born Nov. 1, 1812, a farmer in Hampton, who married Eliza Ann Curtis (who died May 3, 1887), and died June 24, 1898;  James H., born April 21, 1815, deceased Aug. 4, 1842;  Lucy Maria, June 12, 1817, who died at the age of twenty years;  Angelina A., May 2, 1820, residing in Hampton;  Cornelia A., June 7, 1826, who died April 17, 1901, in Hampton, unmarried;  George Mason, Jan. 2, 1829;  and Charles, Sept. 8, 1831, a farmer in Hampton, who married Sophia Simmons and died May 26, 1871.

George Mason Holt was born in the house that stood on the site of his present residence.  His education was acquired in the district schools and until he was eighteen years of age he employed himself in farm work.  At that age he went to Plainfield, Conn., to learn the carpenter trade, apprenticing himself for two years to Gardner Rouse; for his first yearís labor he was given a salary of $40, and $60 for the second year.  He remained with Mr. Rouse for three months longer and then went into the employ of Samuel Underwood, a contractor of Pomfret, and was made overseer of a number of carpenters who were employed by Mr. Underwood.  Later he filled a similar position for Mr. Samuel Truesdale where he had charge of a large force.  Mr. Holt remained with both these employers for several years and worked through Connecticut and Rhode Island at various places.  Still later he was foreman for George A. Bodge, a large contractor and builder in Hartford, and there Holt continued to fill responsible positions of this kind for several years in Hartford, and then went to Providence, where for two years he was employed as boss carpenter for Moulton & Ingraham, after which he opened a shop of his own there and found employment for from six to ten men.  For two years, or until 1857, he remained thus engaged in Providence, but then the whole country became involved in financial distress, he closed out his business in Rhode Island and returned to Hampton.  There he worked quietly at his trade for several years and finally located on his fatherís farm, as the latter was getting to be advanced in years.  He assumed the care of his parents, smoothed their way during their last days, and after his fatherís death purchased the farm, which comprises 180 acres.  Since that time his energies have been engaged in agricultural labors, including general farming and dairying.  He has erected a new house and commodious barns and is considered as good a farmer as he was a carpenter, and that is high praise, for few excelled him in his locality in the latter line.  Many of the attractive homes in Hampton are examples of his taste and skill.  Mr. Holt was the principal contractor and builder for many years in Hampton and the surrounding towns.

On Nov. 1, 1854, in Hampton, Mr. Holt was married to Miss Abby C. Dorrance, born April 18, 1829, in West Woodstock, Conn., daughter of Deacon Alexander and Mary Lucretia (Fox) Dorrance, the former of whom was born Feb. 15, 1796, and died Sept. 11, 1870.  The latter was born in 1801 and was instantly killed Sept. 9, 1849, by being thrown from a wagon.  Mrs. Holt is a descendant of Rev. Samuel Dorrance, who graduated at the University of Glasgow in 1709, and became the first pastor of the first church in Voluntown, Conn.  Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Holt, namely:  Helen C., Aug. 10, 1855, widow of George L. Cleveland, who was born Oct. 29, 1835, and who died Jan. 18, 1888;  Mary Louisa, April 18, 1859, who married William P. Spaulding, a farmer in Pomfret, and has one child, Helen Holt, born Aug. 25, 1894;  and Frank H., born Jan. 15, 1865, who died March 18, 1865.

In politics Mr. Holt is a staunch Republican, and has held many of the local town offices.  For a number of years he has served on the board of selectmen, being its chairman for two years, and has also served as trial justice for a number of years.  In 1877 his fellow-citizens made him their representative in the State Legislature, and he served acceptably on the Fisheries committee.  Mr. Holt has taken a very active interest in the Grange movement and he was the prime mover and organizer of Little River Grange, No. 36, of Hampton, the organization being completed in Mr. Holtís residence, Dec. 30, 1885.  He served as first Master and subsequently held the office during two more terms, and in 1901 and 1902, his accomplished daughter, Mrs. Cleveland, was made Master, both daughters being interested members of the order.  Mr. Holt belongs also to Moriah Lodge, No. 15, A.F.&A.M., of Danielson, a pleasant connection which has lasted through a quarter century.  Although not a member of the Hampton Congregational Church, to which his family belongs, he attends the services and gives it a generous support.  Mr. Holt is held in high esteem in Hampton and is regarded as one of the townís representative men.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel

 

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