ALFRED OLCOTT THRALL

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.  773

ALFRED 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.

William 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.

Timothy 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.

John 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.

Moses 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.

James 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.

Daniel 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.

Ira 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.

Alfred 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.

Asa 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, 1843.

Mr. 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.

In 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.

Mr. 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.

Mr. 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.

At 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 bushel.

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

 

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