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. 773
OLCOTT THRALL, one of the prominent and successful farmers of Vernon, Tolland
county, comes from one of the oldest families in the State of Connecticut, his
ancestor, William Thrall, being one of the first settlers at Windsor, and a
member of the party of Rev. John Wareham, who settled there in 1635.
Thrall was a native of England born in 1605, and his wife’s name was Goode,
and among their family of children were Timothy and David. Our subject is in the
eighth generation of this old family. In 1637, the old records tell us, that
Windsor was required to furnish thirty men for service in the Pequot war, and
among fifteen names found of those who answered the demand, is that of William
Thrall. The great battle, which decided the struggle between the Colonists and
the savages occurred May 26, 1637, and was so complete a victory in the early
history of the State, and caused such a universal relief and rejoicing all
through New England, that a grant of land was given to each soldier, and to this
day the memory of an ancestor who fought the wily Pequots is an honorable
heirloom in every Connecticut family.
Thrall, the son of William, was born in Old Windsor in 1641, and in 1659 married
Deborah Gunn, and they reared a family of nine children. Timothy was a prominent
citizen, possessed of considerable property and influence. His name frequently
appears on the Windsor records.
Thrall, son of Timothy, born 1671 or 1676, married Mindwell Moses, and reared a
family of nine children. His son Moses was, no doubt, the first of the Thrall
family to settle in Vernon.
Thrall was born in Windsor in 1703, and was one of the pioneers in what is now
Vernon Center, and owned a large tract of land, upon a part of which Alfred O.
Thrall now lives in Vernon. Much of the land between Vernon and Phoenix Pond
belonged to him. He bore the title of “Captain” and was one of the leading
men of his section. His death occurred Aug. 24, 1770, and he was buried in the
Cemetery at Vernon. His son, James, was the great-grandfather of Alfred O.
Thrall was born in Vernon in 1746, and was reared and married there. He followed
the occupation of farmer and died in 1816 in his native town.
Thrall, son of James, was also born in Vernon. He inherited the farm of 200
acres at the death of his father, and followed agricultural pursuits all his
life. He married (first) Susan Baker, who died in 1805, aged twenty-four years,
who was a member of the old Baker family of Tolland. She left three children at
her death. Warren, a physician who practiced at Stafford, and later in
Glastonbury where he died; Ira, the father of our subject; and Daniel, who lived
to an old age and died in Colchester. Daniel Thrall married (second) Elizabeth
Strickland, of Vermont, then a resident of Marlborough, and she became the
mother of the following children: Betsey, who married Miner C. Preston; Nancy
who married Nelson Kingsbury, a manufacturer of Rockville and various other
places, who died at Hartford; Harriet, who married David Bacon, a manufacturer;
Lemuel, at one time a blacksmith in Rockville, who had two sons, one of whom
died on his way home after the horrors of Andersonville prison; and Henry,
youngest son of Daniel, who all his life was a manufacturer in Stafford Springs,
and married for his first wife Emeline Converse, and upon her death married her
sister, Minerva, both daughters of Capt. Parley Converse, of Stafford Springs.
Thrall was born at Vernon Center, Sept. 24, 1803, attended the local schools and
became a successful teacher, following that profession for eighteen years in
Vernon, Manchester and other sections, and acquired quite a reputation as an
accomplished grammarian. During his younger life he remained at home, but when
he was thirteen years old he went to Pennsylvania, with and uncle, Jerry Baker,
but becoming homesick, the poor lad started on foot and walked the entire
distance to his home. Ira Thrall was married, in Vernon, to Miss Larrissa
Sparks, a Native of what is now Vernon Depot, born April 14, 1802, daughter of
Jonas and Olive (Smith) Sparks, the latter a native of East Haddam. The children
born to Mr. and Mrs. Thrall were: Susan, died in infancy. Susan O., born in
1830, married Chauncey Smith, who is deceased; she resides in Rockville. Julius
S., born Aug. 11, 1832, lives in Rockville, and has a sketch following. Lucia
A., born in 1834, married Eldredge Tuttle, who is deceased; she resides in
Rockville. Alfred Olcott, born in 1835, is the farmer on the old homestead.
Nelson K. died in childhood. Wells
G., born in 1841, married Julia Willes; he is a veteran of the Civil war and
lives in New Britain, Conn. Mrs. Larrissa Thrall died Nov. 23, 1869, and Ira
Thrall, July 12, 1878. Ira Thrall was a man who left his mark on his generation,
was prominently identified with many public interests, represented Vernon in the
legislature and always stood fast for Jeffersonian Democracy. For several years
he was a selectman, was tax collector, and in his younger days served in the
office of constable. On April 1, 1848, he located on the old homestead, and
there he met his death from a fall. He was buried by the side of his devoted
wife, in the Elmwood cemetery at Vernon Center.
Olcott Thrall, son of Ira Thrall, was born Sept. 11, 1835, at Kellogsville, now
Talcottville, in the town of Vernon, and secured his education at the home
schools. When he reached the age of eighteen years he came to Rockville and
secured employment in the finishing room of the Rock Mill. In this
establishment, and also in the American Mill, he was engaged for some five
years, and then worked at Hartford for a time. At Stafford he was made a quarry
foreman, and while in that city became acquainted with his future wife, Miss
Julia E. West, to whom he was married March 11, 1856. Mrs. Thrall was born Aug.
23, 1836, a daughter of Asa D. and Mary (Converse) West, and a granddaughter of
Alva West, a Revolutionary soldier, whose wife belonged to the Davis family.
D. West, was born in Stafford, Conn., Dec. 15, 1795, was a blacksmith by trade,
and died Sept. 20, 1864. Mary Converse, his wife, was born June 23, 1801, and
died March 19, 1888. They were the parents of eleven children: (1) Melissa M.,
born in 1821; (2) Orin W. (deceased), born in 1823; (3) William D., born in
1825; (4) Emerson R. (deceased), born in 1827, went to California in 1849,
reaching that country by the Isthmus route; (5) Francis G. (deceased), born in
1829; (6) Betsy C. (deceased), born in 1832; (7) Fidelia J. (deceased), born
July 9, 1837; (8) Julia E., Mrs. Thrall; (9) Albert D., born in 1839, is a
veteran of the Civil war, and resides in Marysville, Cal.; (10) Charles H., born
in 1841, died Sept. 15, 1864, was a soldier in the Civil war, was captured by
the Rebels, and died in Andersonville prison; and (11) Martha A., born Oct. 16,
and Mrs. Alfred O. Thrall have had the following children: (1) Albert C., born
Dec. 15, 1862, died July 12, 1864; (2) Nellie West, born April 16, 1867, died
Jan. 21, 1875; (3) Eva M., born Dec. 15, 1871, married Oct. 16, 1895, Harry C.
Smith, a bookkeeper in Hartford, Conn., now residing in Vernon.
1865 Mr. and Mrs. Thrall returned to Vernon and located on the old Thrall
homestead, which he had inherited from his father. This land was originally
purchased by his ancestors from the Indians, and has been in the possession of
the family from that remote day. At one time this homestead was very extensive
comprising many hundred acres, but, as it was passed through the various
generations, was much broken up and divided, so that only a fraction of the
original body is in the hands of Mr. Thrall. Tradition has it that the Indian
chief, Tankanhoosen, is buried on this farm, and the stream that runs though it
bears his name. Indians were undoubtedly numerous in this vicinity for many
generations, as arrow heads and other evidences of their presence are frequently
unearthed. Since their location in this neighborhood, the Thralls have built
four homes. The one now occupied by Mr. Thrall was built by his grandfather, and
reconstructed by himself. The third house, which stood some two or three rods
east of his present location is well remembered by Mr. Thrall. The other two
were a little less than a quarter of a mile south from the present location, and
they stood close together. The ruins of the old well can still be traced. A more
charming spot particularly in summer can hardly be imagined than the place Mr.
Thrall has his home. The house is in a valley surrounded by hills. From a bay
window at the south of the house, through a break in the hills, Talcott Mountain
may be seen. Mr. Thrall owns a farm of a hundred acres, and engages in general
farming quite extensively. Before 1890 he was much engaged in tobacco culture,
but since that time has been giving his attention to dairying on a large scale.
In 1888 he was one of the organizers of the Vernon creamery, of which
corporation he has since 1896 been the president, and has always been on the
board of directors. This creamery is well managed, and has an enviable
reputation for its butter, of which it produces about ten thousand pounds a
month. The present directors are John Risley, E.B. Lathrop, H.P. Rick, Henry
Burke, George Dart, George Fisk and A.O. Thrall. Probably to Mr. Thrall more
than any other man, is due the credit for valuable services in the early start
of this institution.
Thrall cast his first vote for James Buchanan, but since that time has supported
the Republican party. He has always interested himself in local matters, and has
held various positions of trust and honor, serving as assessor, justice of the
peace, and at present is a member of the board of relief. At one time he allowed
his name to be presented as a candidate for the Republican nomination to the
General Assembly, but before the meeting of the convention withdrew in favor of
Mr. Kuhnly, of Rockville.
and Mrs. Thrall united with the Vernon Centre Congregational Church in 1869, and
from time to time have served in important places in that society. Mr. and Mrs.
Thrall, and their daughter, Mrs. Smith, belong to the Vernon Grange. Mrs. Smith
is lecturer of that grange, now serving her second term. Mr. Thrall has been
treasurer of the Vernon Grange for years.
the request of the committee having in their charge the preparation of sample
Connecticut farm products, Mr. Thrall selected a few ears from his crib, and
sent them for exhibition at the Columbia World’s Fair at Chicago. When the
awards were made, Mr. Thrall received a bronze medal for Yellow King Corn of the
best quality. It was planted May 1st, in hills 3x3 1/2 feet in soil well
fertilized, and was harvested Sept. 15th. The yield was from forty to seventy
bushels to the acre, and the weight fifty-six to sixty-four pounds to the
Reproduced by: Matthew
Markert, grandson of Dorcas Smith and LeRoy T. Markert of Rockville, CT.
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