JOHN SILCOX

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.  959

JOHN SILCOX (deceased).  During the earlier period of the woolen manufacturing business, in Rockville, Tolland Co., Conn., there were attracted from the woolen centers of England, many young men whose early training in that branch of work made them desirable acquisitions to the great army already busy here.  These in later years often developed into some of Rockville's best and most highly respected citizens.  This is shown in the case of John Silcox who came to Rockville fifty years ago and grew with the town, rejoiced and assisted in its development and prospered with its prosperity.

Mr. Silcox was born at Road, Somersetshire, England, Jan. 31, 1831, a son of John and Jane (Dodemade) Silcox.  He was one of a family of four boys and four girls, of whom one boy and one girl died in infancy, and one sister, Virtue, died at the age of eighteen.  Of the others, Samuel, who came to Rockville in 1847, entered the mills, and died in 1890;  William, who was a skilled musician, traveled over England with a show for a number of years, and died there;  and Sophia, who married William Moore and went to Australia years ago, dying near Sydney.

The father of John Silcox remained in England until 1867-68, when he came to the home of his son, then in Broad Brook, Conn., where his last years were spent.  He reached the age of eighty-three, still a well preserved old gentleman, although he had been active during life, his business being that of dyeing.  The mother did not live to reach America, dying in England where she had been a sufferer from inflammatory rheumatism for a long time.  The Silcox family is a long-lived one and some of the ancestors lived to reach the age of almost a century.

The parents of Mr. Silcox were people of limited means, the four cents a week required to pay for his schooling was almost more than could be afforded when the family was large and wages low.  Even the advantages offered the children of that time were so inferior to those pressed upon the boys and girls of today that there is scarcely any basis of comparison.  Physical needs had to be attended to, and at the tender age of eleven years John Silcox was obliged to give up all further hope of an education, and go into the mill as a “roller joiner,” this being a feature which machinery and different kinds of rollers have long done away with.  His wages were fifty-six cents per week.  Then Mr. Silcox was engaged at “fulling on the cards,” and so his young life was spent, the only change from the noise and confusion of the mill being when he could get a few jobs at hay making during the summers.

As Mr. Silcox grew older he was not satisfied with the industrial conditions then prevailing in his native section, and decided to come to the United States, the only question being that of enough money to pay his passage.  Although he had been most industrious and economical, it was almost impossible, with his opportunities, to have saved sufficient money, but his brother Samuel was willing to lend it, and Mr. Silcox prepared to leave his native country.  This loan was repaid in later times.  Samuel had come to the United States, previously.  In May, 1852, John Silcox took passage from Liverpool on the sailing vessel “Henry Clay,” and after a voyage of five weeks and three days landed in New York and set out immediately for Rockville to join his brother.  At this time he was in possession of six sovereigns, but owed his brother Samuel the passage money.  Entering the Rock Mill, Mr. Silcox was employed there for seventeen years.  He left this place in 1869 to go to Glastonbury, Conn., where for a year he was employed in the Glazier Mill and for a time conducted a boarding house in connection with that mill.  From there he went to Broad Brook and for nine years was in the fulling room of the Broad Brook Manufacturing Co.’s Mill, but in 1879 he returned to Rockville and for a few months was employed in the fulling room of the American Mill, this terminating his work in mills.

With H.C. Parker, Mr. Silcox now entered the mercantile business, opening a furniture store in the Orcutt building.  This partnership was dissolved a year and a half later, Mr. Silcox retiring.  Shortly after Mr. Silcox bought the clothing business of H.A. Merrick in Rockville, and in company with Henry L. Noble formed the firm of Silcox & Noble.  For thirteen years this business flourished, then Mr. Silcox became its sole proprietor, continuing until February, 1896, when he was succeeded by his son Earnest J., who was a member of the firm of Howell & Silcox.  Mr. Silcox then concluded to retire and enjoy the fruits of his former activity and success.

The first marriage of Mr. Silcox was in Rockville, in November, 1853, to Esther Bowns, a native of Wiltshire, England, and the daughter of Enoch and Esther Bowns, who came to Rockville about 1849.  Mrs. Silcox died in 1861, the children of this union being:  Charles, Esther and Francis, deceased;  John Edward, a resident of Battle Creek, Mich.; and Julia, the wife of Rev. F.B. Adams, of East Blackstone, Mass.  The second marriage of Mr. Silcox was April 22, 1863, to Miss Emma Dart, a native of Tolland, near Snipsic, who was born Oct. 19, 1835, a daughter of Salmon P. and Maria (Ladd) Dart.  Mrs. Silcox was but a child when her parents removed to Ellington, and soon after to Somers, Conn.; in 1847 they moved to Rockville, from which time Mrs. Silcox was reared in that city.

Salmon P. Dart was a carpenter by trade and lived to be eighty-two years old, his wife also reaching that age.  Of the family of seven born to Mr. and Mrs. Dart, only Mrs. Silcox and one sister survive, Mary Ann, now Mrs. Willard Griswold, of Rockville.  The children born to Mr. Silcox by his second marriage were:  Algernon, Archibald and Gertie, died young; and Earnest J., born March 29, 1876, a graduate of Rockville high school in 1895, passed a successful examination for entrance to Yale, but respecting his father’s wishes took up a business career and in 1896 became a member of the firm of Howell & Silcox, clothiers and tailors, which firm he succeeded in July, 1901.  His marriage was to Bernice Tilden, of Ellington, only daughter of John Tilden, and they have one child, Marjorie, born March 1, 1899.

In 1877 Mr. Silcox bought the property on High street, and where he continued to reside until his death.  A staunch Republican, he took a keen interest in the success of his party; in religious matters he was one of the prominent members of the Methodist Church, having joined it in 1853; he was a member of the official board, for many years was the chorister and for a long time a member of the choir.  Although he was successful in life, his life as spread before the public is one which would naturally bring success.  Add energy, industry, honesty and correct habits to a young man’s equipment, and the result of his life race can easily be predicted.  Mr. Silcox’s death took place April 18, 1902 and he was laid to rest in Grove Hill cemetery.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel

 

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