BELA MARSH KENT

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.  504

BELA MARSH KENT, one of Putnam’s self-made men and for years its representative manufacturer, born March 16, 1826, at Attleboro, Mass., died at his home in Putnam, Sept. 29, 1902.  Ezra Keith Kent, grandfather of Bela Marsh Kent, was born Sept. 26, 1767, and lived at one time in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.

Thomas Viall Kent, son of Ezra Keith, and father of Bela Marsh, was born April 19, 1801, in Seekonk, Mass.  By occupation he was a cabinet maker, and worked at his trade all his life, and was familiar with all kinds of work in wood, including wood turning and carpentering.  After moving about frequently in his younger days, he finally settled at Palmer, Mass., in 1837, where he passed the remainder of his life, employed with his work, which, as he was a natural mechanic, he enjoyed exceedingly.  Of medium stature, he was very robust of constitution and jovial in disposition, dearly loving and appreciating a good joke.  The Jeffersonian principles appealed to him, and he was a staunch Democrat, and although he never sought office, was honored with election as constable for several years.  While not a church member, his convictions were in favor of all religious denominations, and he was liberal in his gifts to them.  On Nov. 25, 1822, he married in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, Dolly Howard, who was born June 29, 1796, and who died Feb. 19, 1836, in Worcester, Mass.  The children born of this union were:  Ezra, born Sept. 2, 1823, in St. Johnsbury, Vt., became a spinner in a cotton mill, married Maryette Townsend, and died at the age of twenty-seven years, in Palmer, Mass.  Bela M., is mentioned later.  Ellen Jane, born Aug. 26, 1827, in Attleboro, Mass., married Keyes Bacon (now deceased), and is living in Worcester.  Allin Viall, born Dec. 14, 1830, in Smithfield, R.I., is now living in Newark, N.J., engaged in wood-turning; he married Maria Stone.  Harriet Maria, born July 4, 1833, in Northbridge, Mass., died unmarried, at the old homestead in Newark, N.J., at the age of forty-three.  A daughter, born Feb. 19, 1836, in Worcester, Mass., died the next day, and was buried in the same grave with her mother.  On Nov. 24, 1836, Thomas Viall Kent married, in Ware, Mass., Hepsibah R. Barnes, born Nov. 15, 1810; she died in the spring of 1872, in Palmer, Mass.  To this union came the following family:  Dolly Howard, born Aug. 24, 1837, in Palmer, Mass., never married, but is now residing in Worcester, Mass.; and Julia Ann, born July 21, 1844, in Stafford Springs, Conn., died in Palmer, unmarried at the age of forty years.

Bela Marsh Kent was born March 16, 1826, and when he was but seven years of age, his parents removed from Attleboro, to Northbridge, Mass., where he attended the district schools, finishing his education with one term at the North Wilbraham Academy, and leaving school at the age of nineteen years.  From the age of seven he worked in the cotton mill when he was not at school, the entire time devoted to the latter scarcely amounting to two years, and after he decided that his school life was ended, he entered the cotton mill at Thorndyke (town of Palmer) learning the carding trade, and he remained there until 1851.  When twenty-five hears of age, he embarked in butchering for six months, then removed to Windsor, Conn., and went to work in a sash and blind factory, owned by his brother Allin Viall Kent, and there remained for another six months.  His next location was at Thompsonville, Conn., where he worked in a sash and blind factory for Elliott Hamilton, for three years.  At the expiration of this time, believing he could better himself, Mr. Kent located at Hampton (then South Wilbraham), Mass., and for three additional years worked in the employ of Marcus Beebe, in a plow factory, making wooden plows by hand for the southern trade.  Inducements being held out to him by William Johnson, at Westfield, Mass., Mr. Kent next entered his employ and worked in his organ factory at that place for several months, but not liking the business, went to Somers. Conn., establishing a sash and blind factory and also engaged in farming, remaining in this locality for one year.  After this experience, he removed to East Longmeadow, Mass., and worked in the Springfield Armory on gun barrels, in what is known as the “water shops,” where he remained about three years, during the greater part of the war, leaving in 1865 to go to Warren, Mass., where he was employed working on tape looms, and when, at the expiration of one year, the business was removed to Worcester, Mass., he went with the firm, and remained there two and one-half years.  His next change was to Webster, Mass., and at that place he was in the employ of Charles Palmer in his sash and blind factory, but after three years he located in Putnam, in May, 1872, purchasing the woodturning business of Horatio Reed, on the Quinebaug river, a very small plant at that time.  Subsequently he made many improvements and enlarged his fields of operation until he occupied the entire building and gave employment to from ten to twelve men.  His output included sash, blinds and all kinds of builders’ finishings.  So thoroughly understanding every detail of this line of work, and having a natural inclination for it, he was enabled to take advantage of every opportunity offered and was very successful.  In January, 1900, however, he felt that he had discharged his duty, and sold his business to his sons. Who continue it upon the old lines, the same policy of strict honesty, uprightness of dealing and excellence of workmanship being followed out by the new firm.  Mr. Kent was a consistent member of the Advent Christian Church of Putnam, of which he served as deacon for over twenty years, and also as treasurer, and of which Mrs. Kent is also a member.  When occasion demanded, Mr. Kent cast his vote for the candidates of the Republican party, but his business so fully absorbed his time and attention that he never took an active part in politics.  All his sympathies were in accordance with temperance principles and his life testified to his sincerity.

On Sept. 20, 1849, Mr. Kent was married (first) to Adelia D. Bliss, born Sept. 24, 1826, a native of Monson, Mass., daughter of Austin and Eunice (Pease) Bliss, who died June 5, 1869, in Webster, Mass.  The children were as follows:  Ella Minerva, Clarence Marsh, Nellie Jane, Ernest Bliss, Cora Adelia.

Ella Minerva Kent was born July 11, 1850, in Palmer, Mass., and died in Enfield, Conn., Sept. 4, 1854.

Clarence Marsh Kent was born Dec. 5, 1856, in Enfield, Conn., and received his education in Worcester and Webster, Mass., attending the common schools.  His parents removing to Putnam in 1872, he finished his school days in the Gary district, Putnam, leaving school at the age of nineteen years.  Having employed his spare time working with his father, while still attending school, Clarence entered into the business after finishing his education, and together with his brother, Ernest B., purchased the plant, Jan. 1, 1900.  The religious home of Mr. Clarence M. Kent is the Methodist Episcopal Church.  While his sympathies are with the Republican party, whose candidates he always supports, he has never sought office, or allowed his name to be mentioned for nomination.  On Feb. 6, 1879, Clarence M. Kent was married to Ida Dewing Pettis, daughter of George A. and Harriet Newell (Hall) Pettis, of Putnam, and to this union have come the following family:  Clifford Ray, born April 5, 1881, died Oct. 2, 1890;  Earl Bliss, born July 6, 1882, is at home;  Edith May, born March 6, 1883, is attending school at the Willimantic Normal;  Mabel Dewing was born Feb. 15, 1886;  Harold Ray, born June 9, 1890.  Mr. Kent is a very estimable young man, and one who both as a business man and in social life has won the respect and esteem of a host of friends and acquaintances.

Nellie Jane Kent was born Nov. 21, 1858, in Wilbraham, Mass., and is a graduate of the Putnam High School, and is now teaching school in the high school at Clinton, Massachusetts.

Ernest Bliss Kent, the fourth child of Bela M. Kent, was born July 31, 1861, in Somers, Conn., and was educated in the Gary District, Putnam, Conn., where his parents moved when he was eleven years of age, and also the Putnam High School, completing his education when about eighteen.  At that time he entered his father’s shop, where he has since remained, becoming one of the proprietors in January, 1900.  His brother Clarence is his partner, and the two young men are succeeding wonderfully in their work, sustaining the reputation of the house, and gaining for it additional honor and business.  Like his father, Ernest Kent attends the Advent Church of Putnam, and takes part in its work.  He is a Republican and has served most acceptably as alderman one term, representing the second ward in the city board of alderman, serving during 1898-99.  On May 18, 1887, Ernest B. Kent married Fannie Louise Bugbee, daughter of Edwin O. Sumner and Frances Agatha (Thurber) Bugbee, of Putnam, Conn.,  and the following family has come of this union:  Ethel Bliss, born April 5, 1888, in Putnam, attending the Putnam High School, in the class of 1905;  Carl Thurber, born Nov. 8, 1889, in Putnam, Conn., attending the Fifth District School.  On March 5, 1896, Ernest B. Kent finished his fine pressed brick residence on Seward street, which is one of the pleasant homes in Putnam, and there he and his charming wife dispense a delightful hospitality.

Cora Adelia Kent, fifth child of Bela M. Kent, was born Feb. 14, 1866, in Warren, Mass., and married March 10, 1885, Edward E. Sanderson, of Pomfret, Conn.  Their children are Mildred and Kent M.

On Oct. 18, 1871, Bela M. Kent was married (second) to Almeda (Coman) Buck, widow of Barney Buck, and daughter of John G. and Diana (Tyler) Coman, of Thompson, Conn.  No children were born of the second marriage.

Early in life Mr. Kent had a hard struggle to overcome adverse circumstances, and at times he seemed almost vanquished, but through it all he displayed a sturdy uprightness of purpose and independence of spirit, which in the end conquered.  During all those years of hardships and discouragements, he never gave up, but persevered in his work, trying numerous lines of business, and after he succeeded in securing his factory in Putnam, keeping hard at work to make something out of it.  Such persistent effort must succeed in the end, when it is backed up with real ability and intelligence, and Mr. Kent had the satisfaction of looking back to his earlier days with pride in that he conquered adverse fate, and not only accumulated an excellent competency for himself, but also provided a fine business for his sons, young men of high character, well worthy of their father.  The life of such a man points an excellent example to the coming generations, in that it proves what can be accomplished by a man, if he never forgets to maintain a high standard of honorable dealing and never flinches from his work, no matter how hard and discouraging it may be.  In 1875, Mr. Kent built his very comfortable home, located about one mile from the centre of Putnam, and here he enjoyed the well-earned rest which comes after a life of toil, discouragements and successes, happy in the love of his devoted wife and children, in all of whom he took an honest pride.   

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel

 

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