MOSES B. HARVEY

& THE BENJAMIN FAMILY

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.  486

MOSES B. HARVEY, deceased.  The Harvey family can be traced to Thomas Harvey (son of Thomas Harvey, of Somersetshire, England), who was born in 1617.  In company with his brother William, he came to Dorchester, Mass., in 1636, and two years later he was found at Cohasset, where he was one of the first purchasers.  Between 1639 and 1642 he was admitted as a proprietor of Taunton, and about 1642 he married Elizabeth Andrews, who was born in England in 1614.  He died in Taunton, in 1651.

John Harvey, son of Thomas, the emigrant settler, was born in Taunton, Mass., about 1647, and married in 1675.  In 1686, Mr. Harvey purchased land of Isaac Willey which lay mostly within the limits of Lyme, Conn.  This was in what is the present town of Salem, which was formed in 1819 out of portions of Lyme, Colchester and Montville.  Mr. Harvey died in Lyme, Jan. 18, 1705, and his wife Jan. 9, 1709.  Their children were:  John, born in 1676, died in 1767;  Thomas, born in 1678, died in 1725;  Elizabeth, born in 1680, died in 1752;  and Mary and Sarah, twins born in 1682, died in 1705.

The great-grandfather of Moses B. Harvey married Mrs. Lockie Harris, of Preston, Connecticut.  Amos Harvey, the grandfather of Moses B. Harvey, was born in Preston, Conn., and he married Elizabeth Giddings, also a native of Preston.  Their children were:  (1) Amos;  (2) Joseph, who remained in Preston, became a farmer and a milk dealer, married Betsey Phillips, and reared a family of seven children;  (3) Paul, who was a shoemaker, married Betsey Green, and reared a family of six children, and at her death married Margaret Fitch, of Preston, moved to Stafford, had a family of six more children born to him, and died in Stafford;  and (4) Rhoda, who married Richard Stroud.

Amos Harvey, father of the late Moses B. Harvey, was one of the best known and most highly esteemed citizens of Stafford in his day.  His birth occurred July 29, 1781, in Preston, Conn., his death in Stafford, Feb. 24, 1846.  He married Sept. 27, 1801, Esther Benjamin, who was born March 10, 1781.  Their children were:  Julia A., who married William Moore, a shoemaker in Stafford, who had learned his trade with his father-in-law;  Moses B., of this biography;  Cynthia, the twin sister of Moses B., who married Elijah Fairman, of Stafford;  Philip, an iron molder, who married Malinda Howlands, of Rome, N.Y.;  Esther, who married Lemuel Ingalls, a machinist, who later managed the “Orinoca Hotel” at Stafford Springs;  Mary, who married Marcus Howland, a tailor of Spencer, Mass.;  Amos, a foundryman, who later in partnership with his brother Moses B., engaged in the manufacture of cotton warps (he married Lorinda Kibbe);  Philena, who married Horatio Ledoyt, a native of Monson, Mass., who became a machinist of Stafford;  and Park, a molder in the foundry, who married Althea Humphrey, of Tolland.

By trade Mr. Harvey was both a shoemaker and tanner, and had a large tannery on the site of the present Riverside mill, at Stafford Hollow.  Not only was he a man of fine business qualifications, but he was favored with robust health, his only sickness being his last.  It is pleasant to recall a man like “Squire” Harvey, genial, kind hearted and ever ready to help those who could not help themselves, but still a man of strong convictions, firm in his faith in the Democratic party, delighting in a practical joke, yet the man on whom the community could call when some trust or responsibility was to be assumed.  Mr. Harvey was one of the founders of the Universalist Society in Stafford street, and performed more marriages than any other justice of the peace in his locality.

BENJAMIN FAMILY.  The mother of Moses B. Harvey came from a family whose ancestry reaches far back, and whose name became widely known during the last century through the brilliant career of her talented nephew Park Benjamin, the author.  The family records tell that John Benjamin came in the ship “Lion” to Boston, Mass., Sept. 16, 1632, and was made a freeman Nov. 6, of the same year; was appointed May 20, 1633, by the General Court, a constable; was a proprietor of Cambridge, removed about 1637 to Watertown, and died in 1645, leaving a widow, Abigail, and children, most of whom were born in England.

Joseph Benjamin, son of John, the settler, born about 1640, married June 10, 1661, Jemima, who was a daughter of Thomas Lambert or Lombard.  Mr. Benjamin sold his estate in Cambridge in 1686 and he is spoken of at Barnstable and as having lived some time in Yarmouth.  Joseph Benjamin’s name is given among those of the early settlers of Preston, Conn., about 1690.  Later he removed to New London, Conn., and died there in 1704, leaving a widow, Sarah, and children.  The records tell of the inventory of the state of Joseph Benjamin taken April 27, 1704, which speaks of his widow Sarah and children;  Joseph, aged thirty;  John, aged twenty-one;  Jemima;  Sarah;  Mary and Marcy.

Park Benjamin, the journalist and author, was born Aug. 13, 1809, in Demerara, British Guiana, where his father was engaged in business.  Park was liberally educated, became a distinguished man, and made his home in the city of New York, where he died Sept. 12, 1864.

MOSES B. HARVEY was born Feb. 8, 1806, in Stafford, Conn., and died Jan. 22, 1874.  His youth was spent in Stafford, and there his business honors were won.  Mr. Harvey enjoyed only such advantages as the common schools afforded, first in Stafford, later in Colchester.  At the early age of fourteen he began an active life in the tannery owned by his father, learning the business of preparing the skins which later were converted into foot-wear in his father’s store.

This business, however, did not altogether please young Moses, and he later entered a machine shop situated in the same neighborhood, operated by Harvey Waters, and remained there until he had passed through the different grades and had become proficient.  The mechanical knowledge thus acquired aided him greatly in the inventions which he subsequently worked out and patented, some of these being among the most useful of their kind ever applied in woolen mills.

Mr. Harvey with Elijah Fairman soon established a general machine shop for the manufacture of woolen machinery, in Stafford Hollow.  Very early in the business of this firm a disastrous fire swept away the first venture, and might easily have discouraged a less determined man than Moses Harvey.  However, he overcame this obstacle, and soon another shop was built on the same site in Stafford, and here for many years he was a successful builder of the peculiar machinery used in woolen mills.

Mr. Harvey was the inventor of the flock cutter, a most valuable machine, which he soon patented; he also made many improvements on old machinery, that in some cases almost revolutionized methods of manufacture.  For a time Mr. Harvey conducted the business alone, but later took Charles Holt into partnership; they gave employment to from eight to ten hands, and did a most satisfactory business.  Finally he disposed of the business to Mr. Holt.

Mr. Harvey then began the business of manufacturing cotton warps in Stafford Hollow, in connection with his machine business, Mr. Harvey giving his particular attention to the manufacturing and Mr. Holt to the machinery.  For many years he was the agent for the Valley Company’s Warp mills at Stafford Hollow, which he had established.  At the same time he controlled, with other partners, the Hop River Warp mills, of which he was general manager.  These mills were located at Columbia, Conn., and Mr. Harvey’s partners were Joshua Lord, of Willimantic, and J.H. Bolton, of Stafford.  Previous to the sale of his interests in the Valley Company’s mills, Mr. Harvey built, in 1857, the present Glyn mills.  Here with J.H. Bolton and Amos Harvey he continued the manufacture of cotton warps until his death, being the agent and general manager. 

Mr. Harvey was identified with many business interests aside from those mentioned.  For years, from January, 1870, until his death, he was president of the Stafford National Bank, of which he was one of the original incorporators, in 1854, and one of its first directors.  He was also one of the original incorporators of the Stafford Springs Savings Bank, and the first vice-president of the institution, serving in that capacity and also as director for a long period, ending only with his demise.

A staunch advocate of Jacksonian Democracy, Mr. Harvey was not ambitious for office, although at various times he served as selectman of the town, and in other capacities.  At one time he was a representative from Stafford to the Legislature, was judge of probate for several years, and was appointed by the governor Railroad Commissioner.

The marriage of Mr. Harvey took place Oct. 8, 1827, to Rachel Jennings.  Miss Jennings was born Oct. 29, 1807, a daughter of William and Anna (Staunton) Jennings, the former of whom was a farmer of Willington, Conn.  The death of Mrs. Harvey occurred Feb. 9, 1884.  The children born to this union numbered six:  Ann Elizabeth, born Nov. 26, 1828, died March 1, 1831;  George, born Sept. 29, 1831, died Nov. 6, 1831;  Ann Elizabeth, born Nov. 27, 1833, died March 30, 1835;  Frances, born Oct. 13, 1835, died April 11, 1836;  Emma, born April 4, 1837, died Oct. 28, 1838; and Esther Smith, born Dec. 24, 1838, married Edwin C. Pinney, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere.

Mr. Harvey was liberal in his religious views and found the creed of the Universalist Church most in harmony with his belief.  The church of that denomination in Stafford was largely indebted to him for its establishment and subsequent success, and he took a deep and abiding interest in its work and extension.

Mr. Harvey was emphatically a self-made man.  Lacking many of the advantages of a younger generation, the foundation of his large success was laid in his own naïve ability.  He was a man of keen and logical mind, and tenacious memory, gifted with a faculty for clear statement of principles and quick perception of results.  He seemed to comprehend intuitively both the intricacies of machinery and the complexities of the human mind, and this faculty seemed to increase with his advancing years.  In business transactions he saw, from the start, the end as clearly as the beginning.  Mr. Harvey was called lucky.  But it was rather that by his native worth and strength of character he commanded success, and he was the safe counsellor of both young and old.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel

 

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