WILLIAM HENRY SMITH

& WILLIAM SMITH

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. 107

WILLIAM HENRY SMITH, deceased. Few men have left a more lasting impress upon the community which had the honor of their birth, than the late William H. Smith of Stafford, Tolland Co., Conn. The family is an old and highly regarded one in New England, Deacon Recompense Smith, the great-grandfather of our subject, standing high in public esteem.

Deacon Daniel Smith, son of Deacon Recompense, was born Dec. 14, 1790, and died Feb. 13, 1869 in Stafford. On Dec. 20, 1815, he was united in matrimony to Ann Kingsbury, who was born July 13, 1790, a daughter of Jabez, Jr., and Freelove (Netley) Kingsbury. She was a descendent of the sixth generation from Henry Kingsbury, of Haverhill, Mass., the line of her descent being through Joseph, Nathaniel, Jabez, and Jabez Kingsbury (2).

Henry Kingsbury, was born in 1615, in England, and resided in 1658-60 at Ipswich, Mass., and in 1662-67 and later, at Rowley, Mass. Finally he settled at Haverhill, Mass., where he died, in 1687.

Joseph Kingsbury, son of Henry, was born in 1656, in Haverhill, Mass. (according to Savage, in his genealogical dictionary), and in 1679 married Love Ayers.

Nathaniel Kingsbury, son of Joseph, was born 1684, and married Hannah Denison, in Ipswich, Mass. They left Haverhill, in 1708, and located near Norwich, Conn., and later moved to what was then Coventry, now town of Andover, Conn. To them were born fifteen children.

Jabez Kingsbury, son of Nathaniel, was born in 1717, and in 1749, he married Mary Phelps.

Jabez Kingsbury (2), son of Jabez, was born in 1758, and in 1789 married Freelove Netley.

Ann Kingsbury, daughter of Jabez (2), born July 13, 1790, married Deacon Daniel Smith, the grandfather of William H. Smith.

To Deacon Daniel Smith and wife were born: Henry, born Oct. 26, 1816, died April 30, 1880, in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Daniel K., born Aug 22, 1818, was a farmer in Willington and died Aug. 14, 1890; Anna Eliza, born April 17, 1820, died April 26, 1820; William, born Aug. 8, 1821, died March 1, 1881; and Chauncy, born April 16, 1824, died Jan. 5, 1880. Deacon Daniel Smith was an early manufacturer of Stafford, and his life ended in Willington, Conn., at the home of his son, Daniel K. His whole active life was spent in Stafford, and he was identified with many of its most important manufacturing enterprises, and was the original owner of the mill and privilege of the Charles Fox Manufacturing Company, where he carried on what was then styled the “clothier’s” business. Mr. Smith was one of the original stockholders in the Stafford Manufacturing Company, formed for the erection of the mill now occupying the same site. Deacon Smith was well known and highly esteemed as a useful citizen, and his death occurred Feb. 14, 1869.

WILLIAM SMITH, son of Deacon Daniel and father of William Henry Smith, was born Aug. 8, 1821, in the town of Columbia, Conn., and died March 1, 1881, in Stafford Springs. In his death Stafford lost one of her foremost business men and useful citizens. While yet an infant, his parents moved into the town of Stafford, where the son was reared. In his boyhood he received only such educational advantages as the common schools of the neighborhood afforded, and while still a lad he began his battle with the world, and entered the woolen mills at Foxville, Conn., where he became self-reliant and independent. Quick to observe and to profit thereby, he soon became thoroughly trained in the business of woolen manufacturing, and later was placed in charge of the finishing department of the woolen mill at Stafford Hollow, a mill of which he subsequently became part owner. This proved an unfortunate investment, whereby he was a loser to such an extent that he was obliged to begin anew his life struggle.

Mr. Smith, however, possessed a great amount of perseverance, and after this experience he moved to Stafford Springs, where he established a warehouse for the handling of wool and waste and manufacturers supplies, and this was eventually developed into the large manufacturing business of the firm Smith & Cooley of to-day, at Stafford Springs, who now operate the Glynn mill, which was built by Moses B. Harvey years ago, this firm being the successors to that of William Smith & Co. As time passed, Mr. Smith needed an associate and he took into partnership his son-in-law William H. Cooley, and later his own son, William H. Smith. Both of these men were of large business experience, practical in their ideas, energetic and able in their methods, and after 1881 they successfully carried on the business.

William Smith was one of the incorporators of the Stafford Bank in 1854, which later became the Stafford National Bank, and was its president in 1869. In various ways he identified with the growth of Stafford Springs, where his memory is still greatly cherished. A remarkably strong man, both physically and mentally, he frequently performed the labor of two or three men, and was known for his courage, often facing dangers when others would have retreated. Mr. Smith possessed good, sound common sense, and was an excellent judge of men and measures, a man of strong impulses, who abhorred hypocrisy or meanness, and was very quick to condemn in strong and unmistakable language. With all this severity he was wonderfully tender-hearted, and no citizen in Stafford more generously relieved the deserving poor or sympathized with the unfortunate. As a man of honor, his word was always regarded as being as good as his bond. Possessed of a strong character, his life showed pluck, perseverance and determination to a most remarkable degree. Shrewd and careful in his business transactions, he had the faculty of rightly judging men and forecasting probably results. From a poor boy he rose to be a man of prominence and influence by his own efforts. Fatigue seemed to be to him an unknown quantity. His aim was to succeed, and that he did succeed is evidenced by the fact that the industries with which he was associated during his life of usefulness are among Stafford’s foremost establishments to-day. They are as monuments to his memory. It is said that his far-seeing business sagacity more than equalled that of three average business men.

William Smith was a member of the Congregational Church, and in his own way was very helpful, supporting it with cheerfulness in its various needs, and he left an impress for good in the community in which he lived, doing work of kindness, charity and benevolence, and his posterity can truly point to his record with a degree of pride.  Mr. Smith was a man who was greatly loved by all who knew him, and there were many, especially among the poor and needy of this community.

On June 5, 1845, William Smith and Abigail Ellis were united in marriage. She was born Aug. 8, 1823, a daughter of Wyllys and Abigail (Carpenter) Ellis, of Stafford, and she died Dec. 14, 1898. The children of this union were: Helen Maria, born May 24, 1846, in Stafford, Conn., was married Jan. 31, 1872 to William H. Cooley, of the firm of Smith & Cooley, extended mention of whom will be found elsewhere in this volume; William Henry is mentioned below; Annie Clara, born Oct. 3, 1855, was married Feb. 3, 1887 to Charles E. Butterfield, of Stafford; Mary, born Dec. 24, 1850, died April 5, 1851; and Julia Emma, born Aug. 10, 1853, died Sept. 16, 1853. In every way Mr. Smith was alive to the interests of his town, and he gave  much of his time to its advancement. In politics he was a Republican, but never would accept the offices continually proffered him, desiring rather the political preferment of his friends. Neither would he connect himself with any fraternal societies. His lamented death took place March 1, 1881, and his body was laid away from mortal sight, but the powerful and far-reaching influence which he exerted through his life survives and will be long-enduring.

William Henry Smith, son of William Smith, was born in Stafford Springs, Sept. 25, 1848. His education began in the schools of his native town and was continued at Monson Academy, at Monson, Mass., where, in the class of 1868, he was fitted for Amherst College, having also taken special work in the Massachusetts Agricultural College. Upon his return one year later to Stafford, Mr. Smith became associated with his father and brother-in-law as manufacturers and dealers in flocks, shoddies and wool waste, a business started by the former, and continued until 1881, when, upon the father’s death, the business was continued under the name of Smith & Cooley. This business is still in existence, one of Stafford’s best known enterprises. William H. Smith remained a member of this firm, deeply interested in its welfare, until his own deeply lamented decease, Feb. 16, 1900.

William H. Smith was a fine type of successful man of business—genial, alert, progressive and of unquestioned integrity. The famous Stafford flood, which made the year 1887 memorable in the annals of Stafford, swept away the plant of William Smith & Co., but nothing daunted or completely discouraged this enterprising firm, and the plant was immediately rebuilt, and the business was continued with more energy and success than before. As a citizen Mr. Smith was liberal and broad-minded and was ever interested in the prosperity and growth of his town, never courting and often declining public honors, although actively interested in all measures for the public good. One of the founders of the First National Bank of Stafford, he was elected its first vice-president, and until his death was one of the directors. He was also one of the incorporators of the Savings Bank of Stafford Springs, serving there several years as a director. Mr. Smith was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Stafford Library Association, and for many years was its valued president, resigning the position on account of ill health. When the plans for the new “Springs House” were being agitated Mr. Smith was one of the original supporters, realizing that an enterprise of this kind would materially benefit the town, and he was ever willing to contribute time and money to such a cause.  He was a constant attendant and liberal supporter of the Congregational Church, and was a very active member of the Ecclesiastical Society.

On Sept. 10, 1872, William Henry Smith was married to Miss Estelle Wood, daughter of Col. Alonzo and Ellen (Warren) Wood, of West Winfield, N.Y., the former of whom was a prominent farmer, well known in agricultural circles in his community. To this marriage came Robert Warren, born June 21, 1877, one of the public-spirited young men of this locality, who, after graduating from the Worcester, Mass., Academy, in 1897, was fitted for Yale, and is now associated with the firm of Smith & Cooley.

Mr. Smith was a thorough sportsman, following the rod and gun as an amusement and diversion from business cares, with never-abating enthusiasm. When on his vacation trips, which it was his custom to take yearly in the Adirondack Mountains, he was one of the most successful members of the Bisby Club, which later was merged into the Adirondack League Club.  In politics, believing in the principles of the Republican party, he voted with that organization, but would never accept office.

When the sad day came for the funeral of William H. Smith, not only a large concourse of the town’s people but many from afar gathered to pay a last tribute to the one who in life they had held in highest esteem. The banks, mills, and marts of business were generally closed, while a considerable delegation form all classes of society from out of town were present. Mr. Smith’s demise was felt by old associates and friends as a personal loss, while a community is always poorer when a man of his character and business eminence is removed from it. Long will be recalled his genial, pleasant personality, and many will cherish helpful memories of the well-spent life of William H. Smith.

In this connection it is interesting to recall the interesting features connected with a business with which three generations of the Smith family have been so closely identified. Smith & Cooley are manufacturers and dealers in flocks, shoddies and wool wastes, having two mills in Stafford, one of these in the village of Stafford Springs and the other, the well known Glynn Mill, located just outside of the borough limits, on the river, toward Stafford Hollow. The business was established in 1850 by William Smith, the father of our late subject. His brother, Chauncy Smith, became associated with him about 1855, but later retired from the firm in 1864, and from that date to 1870 William Smith again conducted the business alone. Then he admitted to the partnership his son-in-law William H. Cooley, and three years later his son, William H. Smith, this firm being dissolved in 1881 by the death of the senior partner. In December of the same year the firm became Smith & Cooley. Previous to 1877 the business had been wholly of a mercantile nature, but in that year William Smith & Co. began the manufacture of the line of goods in which they so long dealt. They at first utilized the water-power of Holt & Burwell’s shop, but in 1878 placed a boiler in their own building, and added another in 1879. In 1893 the steam plant of this establishment was rebuilt. The firm bought the Glynn mill, in 1885, and started machinery there in 1886. The equipment of the mills comprises six flock-cutters, five pickers, twenty-three cards and a dyeing plant. The flock-cutting and dyeing operations are performed at the mill in the village. The business is in a most prosperous condition, and, judging by the past, it is fair to assume that in the future it may become of vast proportions, bringing wealth and prominence to all concerned.

Reproduced by:  Matthew Markert, grandson of Dorcas Smith and LeRoy T. Markert of Rockville, CT.

 

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