CAPT. BENJAMIN TURNER LOOMIS

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. 423

CAPT. BENJAMIN TURNER LOOMIS, an honored veteran of the Civil War, and an inventor of note, is now living retired at Tolland, Tolland county, in the same house in which he was born, March 7, 1838.

Sylvanus Loomis, the grandfather of Capt. Loomis, lived in Mansfield, Conn., where he followed the occupation of a farmer.  Both he and his wife, who in her maidenhood was Olivia Turner, of Mansfield, lived unusually long lives, and she drew close to the completion of ninety-five years.  They were both devoted members of the Congregational Church.  Two of their children lived to mature years:  Leonard, mentioned below; and Stephen T., who went West and located at Painesville, Ohio, where he died (he was quartermaster in the same regiment with James A. Garfield, and was always a staunch friend of that eminent Ohio statesman).

Leonard Loomis, son of Sylvanus and father of our subject, was born in Mansfield, Conn., in 1798; he died in Tolland in 1862, and was buried in the Mansfield cemetery.  He was a man of good education, and when he was only eighteen years old published an arithmetic which was received with much favor by school teachers, and which was widely used for many years in a number of States in the Union.  He served as a fifer in the American army during the war of 1812, though he was only thirteen years old at the time he entered the service, and he participated in the campaign around New London.  Mr. Loomis was a good stump speaker, and was well known as a deep thinker and a logical reasoner.  In 1836 he removed to Tolland where he taught school, and had a large business as a house and sign painter.  Mr. Loomis was established at first at Tolland Center, and a year later the Turnpike Company built a house where Capt. Loomis now lives, and there the father kept the toll-gate for ten years.  Mr. Loomis was married to Mary Turner, the daughter of Benjamin Turner, of Mansfield.  Her father was an extensive farmer, and made combs on a large scale when comb making was the principal industry.  To this union were born:  (1) Mary D. married first, Charles Moore, of Tolland, and second Dr. Wilder, of Boston.  (2) Jane was twice married, first to George W. Hanover, of Willimantic, the second, to Lorenzo G. Winter, of Tolland.  (3) Henry was drowned in Tolland when ten years old.  (4) Stephen died in infancy.  (5) Ann Z. married Francis King, of Vernon, Conn., and is now living in Washington, D.C., where he holds a government position.  (6) Andrew W., born Oct. 13, 1835, married Sarah Jacobs.  He was the first man in Connecticut to enter the Union army in response to the first call for soldiers.  He enlisted for three months in the 1st Conn. V.I., and in the summer of 1862 re-enlisted in the 18th Conn. V.I., going out as second lieutenant, returning as first lieutenant.  Taken prisoner by the Rebels, he was confined for eleven months in Libby prison, and about ten months in Macon and Charleston.  Returning to Tolland he bought a farm on which he made his home for two years only, and then moved to Willimantic, where he is now living.  (7) Benjamin T. is our subject.  (8) Caira I. Married Lester D. Phelps, who served in the war of the Rebellion, and is now judge of probate of Rockville.

Capt. Benjamin T. Loomis received his education in the Tolland schools, continuing there until just before his sixteenth year, when he began to paint with his father.  In 1855 he began teaching, his first school being in Willington, the following winter in Coventry, and the winters of 1857-58 and of 1861-62 in Tolland, working during the summer time at painting.  Early in the spring of 1858 he went to Meriden, to learn the burnisher’s trade and the following year removed to New York to work at burnishing solid silver for Wood & Hughes, where he remained until Jan. 1, 1861.

As Woods & Hughes sold their goods very largely in the South, they were compelled to shut down, and Mr. Loomis returned to Tolland to resume the occupation of teaching for a time.  In 1862 he raised a company in Tolland, and went into the nine months’ service as captain of Company K., 22nd Conn. V.I.  The regiment was largely engaged in picket and guard duty around Washington, and in Virginia, and saw but little actual fighting.  Nevertheless the service was very exhausting, and when Capt. Loomis was mustered out with his command in Hartford, after being in the war about a year, his health was greatly impaired.  When he had somewhat regained his strength he again sought work with friends in New York, and was engaged for a time with William Gale & Sons, silversmiths, and then entered the offices of the Grover & Baker Sewing Machine Co., where he was employed for five years as shipping clerk and overseer of the export trade, having full charge of the out-put of the factory and the firm’s dealings with the custom house.  After his connection with the Grover & Baker Co. had ceased, Mr. Loomis was employed for two years with F.A. Ross, manufacturer of sewing machine wood-work, and when that gentleman died his business was given up.  Mr. Loomis then came back to Tolland, and for about one year was engaged with Lorenzo Winter in the hotel business.  In the fall of 1879 he went to Baltimore to put on the market a valuable water filter, which he had invented.  Mr. Loomis has had peculiar success as an inventor.  While in New York he thought out and perfected and invented a “tap” for cutting threads on castings, which invention he sold.  He also invented a fire escape and a self-adjusting caster.  Mr. Loomis was engaged in the manufacture of his water filter in Baltimore until 1896.  In April, of that year, he sold out his business to the Loomis-Manning Filter Co., who have their main office in Philadelphia, and branches all over the world.  The United States Government makes large use of this filter, and it is regarded as a very valuable invention, and has proven most profitable to the inventor.

Capt. Loomis retired in 1896, and made his home on a farm in Tolland, which he bought in 1893, and which is known as the old “toll-gate place.”  He has been very successful in his business life and is a self-made man.  In 1859 he joined the I.O.O.F., in New York, and the F.&A.M. in 1870.  A Jeffersonian Democrat, he has never been a politician or an office seeker.  Capt. Loomis is a pleasant and genial gentleman, and his hospitality is but one of his many good traits.  A firm believer in cremation, he has built a splendid mausoleum on his farm in which is deposited the ashes of his deceased daughter.  It is made to receive his own ashes when the time shall come for his incineration, as well as those of other members of his family.  A beautiful grove on his farm is improved with swings, stands, tables, and other conveniences for picnic parties, which is at the free command of the community.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel

 

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