GEORGE LESTER PRENTICE

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.  475      

GEORGE LESTER PRENTICE is a direct descendant of one branch of the distinguished Prentice family of Colonial times.  The name is an English one and appeared originally in America in the form here used.  Later branches adopted the spellings Prentiss and Prentis.

The first American representatives of this name were Valentine and Alice Prentice and their son John, all of whom came to America in 1631 in company with Eliot, “the Apostle,” and settled at Roxbury, Mass.  A second child of Mr. and Mrs. Prentice died during the voyage.

The descent in a direct line of the subject of this sketch is traced from Capt. Thomas Prentice, who, it is supposed, was related to Valentine, of Roxbury, Robert, of Roxbury, and Henry, of Cambridge.

(I)            Capt. Thomas Prentice, born in England in 1621, married there in 1643, and had eight children.  On May 23, 1653, he was made a freeman in Cambridge, Mass.  After a while he moved to Newtown and took up his residence in the eastern part of the town, where the Boston water works tunnel now passes.  He came into possession of large tracts of land in various parts of New England.  Three hundred acres in the Pequod Country was deeded to him by Thomas Day in 1661, the order being recorded to Lieut. Thomas Prentice in the General Court Records of Mass.  In 1675 another 300 acres was granted to him by the General Assembly of Connecticut.  Thomas Prentice spent the greater part of his mature life in Newtown, but in 1709 moved to Stonington, Conn., where he owned much property.  He lived to the advanced age of eighty-nine and died in Newtown on Sunday, July 6, 1710, as the result of a fall from his horse while returning from church.  His wife died in Newtown, Oct. 9, 1692.  Mr. Prentice left no will, but in 1705, settled his own estate by gift deeds to his heirs.  To his grandson, Thomas Prentice, he gave a house and land in Newtown; to Samuel Prentice, another grandson, who is mentioned later, his mansion house and 100 acres of land in the southern part of Newtown.

As a military man Mr. Prentice was exceedingly prominent.  In 1656 when about thirty-five years old, he was chosen lieutenant of a troop of horse, and in 1662 Captain.  By their sudden attacks and impetuous charges he and his troop became a terror to the Indians in his vicinity.  One daring incident is recorded of how, in 1775 (***see footnote), they rescued from the dark-hued enemy, Vincent Druce, a badly wounded trooper.  So kindly was the feeling that existed between the trooper and his Captain that Mr. Druce, shortly before his death, which occurred Nov. 29, 1677, called Mr. Prentice to witness his will.

On June 24, 1675, Mr. Prentice was made a Captain, and rendered effective service in King Philip’s war, especially in the Narragansett fight.  His acquaintance with the Indian character particularly fitted him for dealing with the enemy.  He was one of the commissioners appointed in 1675, to put to service captive Indian children.  Mr. Prentice became the special friend and counselor of converted Indians, who in 1691 petitioned the General Court to appoint him their overseer and magistrate.  Additional proofs of his popularity are shown by the facts that in 1672 and 1674 he represented Newtown in the General Court; that, in 1675, after the burning of Lancaster, Mass., by King Philip and his Indians, he was appointed commissioner for the re-building of that place; and that, in 1689, he and his troops were sent to Rhode Island to arrest Sir Edmund Andros.

(II)          Thomas Prentice, Jr., second son of Capt. Thomas, born Jan. 22, 1649, became a member of his father’s troop of horse.  During his life he accumulated considerable property, and upon his death left to his heirs an estate valued at 354 pound, 5 shilling.  On March 20, 1675, Thomas Prentice married Sarah Stanton, who was born in 1655, daughter of Capt. Thomas Stanton, the well-known Indian interpreter.  Mrs. Prentice survived her husband, who died April 19, 1685, in his thirty-seventh year, and she later married Capt. William Dennison.  She died in 1713, at the age of fifty-nine.  Mr. and Mrs. Prentice had four children.

(III)       Samuel Prentice, Sr., third son of Thomas, Jr., born about 1680, married Esther Hammond, daughter of Nathaniel Hammond, of Newtown, Mass.  Mr. and Mrs. Prentice had ten children.  Among their grandchildren was Judge Samuel Prentice, of Montpelier, Vt.  Falling heir to part of the vast estate in Stonington, Conn., owned by Capt. Thomas, Samuel, Sr., made his home in that place.  The old house in which he lived, a substantial two-story building twenty-eight by forty-two feet, is still standing, part of it being over a hundred and fifty years old.  Mr. Prentice lived to the age of forty-eight, and died April 24, 1728.

(IV)       Joseph Prentice, son of Samuel, Sr., born in Newtown, Mass., Jan. 26, 1704, married, Nov. 10, 1725, Mary Wheeler and they had nine children.

(V)         Elisha Prentice, fourth son of Joseph, born in Newtown, Jan. 1, 1737, married and had six children.

(VI)       Capt. Elisha Prentice (2), third son of Elisha, was born Aug. 30, 1764, and resided at Griswold, Conn., where he was probably the Revolutionary pensioner of that name.  He was married to Deborah Weeden, of Preston, Conn., and they had ten children:  Nancy, Abby, Daniel, Elisha, Debby, Sally, Charles, Frederick, Mary, and John Perdy.  Capt. Prentice died in 1840 in his seventy-fifth year.

(VII)    John Perdy Prentice, born in Griswold, Conn., Jan. 31, 1818, moved to Pomfret about 1838, where he engaged in farming.  On March 26, 1835, he married Rebecca Lester, of Griswold, who was born May 5, 1806.  She died in Pomfret, Feb. 17, 1845.  On Nov. 27, 1845, Mr. Prentice married Caroline A. Davidson, of Brooklyn, Connecticut.

By his first marriage Mr. Prentice had five children:  (1) George Lester, who is mentioned below.  (2) Tirzah, born Nov. 12, 1837, who married Uriah Carpenter.  He died in Minnesota, May 6, 1871.  (3) James Lester, born Aug. 22, 1839, who is a truck gardener in Danielson, Conn.  He married Lucy Cushing, and they had two children:  Stephen and Lizzie.  (4) Charles, for many years an ice dealer, later a silk manufacturer of Putnam.  He was born in Griswold, Conn., Aug. 27, 1841, and died in Putnam, July 17, 1897.  On March 13, 1864, he married Ann M. Williams, and they had one daughter, Minnie Rebecca, born July 29, 1867, who grew to womanhood and married William David Goodwin.  (5) Rebecca L., born Sept. 13, 1843, died July 2, 1844.

By the second marriage there were two children, twins, Edward N. and Edwin B., who were born Aug. 28, 1846.  The first went West and died there, Jan. 11, 1874; the second married, Oct. 19, 1871, Mary A. Taylor.  He died in Webster, Mass., Feb. 1, 1875.

John P. Prentice owned one of the finest farms in Pomfret and was eminently successful as an agriculturist.  He died in Pomfret July 2, 1863, after a short illness caused by breaking his spine in being thrown from a wagon.

A member of the Congregational Church, Mr. Prentice was a strongly religious man and much opposed to war.  He considered the Rebellion a great blot on our history.  In politics, however, he was a staunch Republican.

(VIII) George Lester Prentice, of Putnam, Windham county, by persistent and varied efforts, has risen to the position of leading ice dealer in his city.  Born in Griswold, Conn., Feb. 3, 1836, he moved with his parents when about six years old to Pomfret.  Here he attended school until he was seventeen years old, when he went to farming on the home place.

It was in Hartford, as a burnisher with Rogers Bros., that Mr. Prentice began his active business career.  Here he remained several years and by strict application to business acquired much valuable experience.  Then the Civil war broke out, putting an end to his activities in this special line.  On Aug. 15, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Co. K, 21st C.V.I., and went with his regiment to the James River, serving there under Gen. Butler.  Among the battles in which he was engaged were Drury’s Bluff, Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg, Newbern, S.C., Suffolk, Va., and the siege of Petersburg.  On April 3, 1865, he also fought in Richmond and he was in that city during the explosion of the mines.

From the time of his enlistment till he was mustered out at Richmond, Va., in 1865, Mr. Prentice served with his regiment constantly, with the exception of a twenty-four hour leave of absence.  Despite the great exposure to which he was subjected he escaped without a single wound.  A few days before his enlistment, Aug. 11, 1862, he married Caroline Louise Deans, of Eastford, daughter of James and Sally Brown (Foster) Deans, farming people.  Mr. and Mrs. Prentice have had three children:  Mary Estelle, born in Eastford, Sept. 15, 1866, died in that place Feb. 8, 1869.  Harry Foster, born in Putnam, March 15, 1870, married Oct. 20, 1897, Mabel C. Brown, of Putnam, daughter of Edwin Brown.  They have no children.  Lena Augusta, born in Putnam June 1, 1873, lives at home.

After the war Mr. Prentice retired to a thirty-acre farm which he purchased in Eastford, Conn., and remained there three years.  Then selling his place, he went to Putnam and assisted his brother for about a year at stonemasonry and the ice business.  The next two years he managed with much success the John A. Carpenter farm in Putnam.  Having by this time laid by a small sum of money he purchased a half interest in his brother’s ice business, and for several years continued in this line under the firm name of Charles Prentice and Co.  During this period they also engaged for about a year in the fish business.  Finally withdrawing from the ice firm, Mr. Prentice started a street sprinkler in the city which became so profitable that he continued to work it for sixteen years.  At the same time he greatly increased his income by running a steam sawmill.  Other public works of his were the laying of the city water pipes and the placing, in 1886, of the first water trough, which is located at the corner of Main and Pomfret streets.  In 1890 Mr. Prentice again resumed the ice business, this time starting in on a small scale by himself.  Previous experience and excellent management enabled him in a short time to work up a paying custom, and in 1892 business had enlarged to such an extent that he took in his son Harry F. as a partner, under the firm name George L. Prentice and Son.  They are still engaged in this line, giving excellent satisfaction to customers.

Mr. Prentice has by steady work and wise management become very well to do, and his residence on Mechanics street, erected in 1898, is one of the pleasantest in Putnam.  Fraternally he has been prominent in many lodges in Putnam, among them A.G. Warner Post No. 54, G.A.R., of which he has been quartermaster and is now sergeant major; Israel Putnam Lodge, No. 33, I.O.O.F., of which he is Chaplain; Wolf Den Encampment, No. 33, I.O.O.F.; and Mizpah Lodge, No. 33, Daughters of Rebekah.  As a Republican Mr. Prentice takes a keen interest in politics, but is not, however, an office seeker.  Both he and his wife are highly respected members of the Second Congregational Church.

***footnote:  the year “1775” is an obvious error, but it appears in this reproduction of the biography as published.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel

 

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