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Windham County Connecticut
WINDHAM COUNTY RECORDS
OLON S. CHAFFEE & JOSEPH CONANT
AS RECORDED IN: COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL
RECORD OF TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES.
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903 P. 594
OLON S. CHAFFEE, for a number of years a well-known manufacturer of Mansfield, Tolland County, and now engaged in business in Montville, Conn., is a representative of an old and honored family, for many years prominent in the history of Windham and Tolland Counties.
Thomas Chaffee, the founder of the family in America, settled in Hingham, Plymouth Co., Mass., in 1637.
Frederick Chaffee, the grandfather of Olon S. Chaffee, was a prosperous farmer, and followed that calling all his life, residing in the northeast portion of the town of Mansfield. He died April 3, 1862, in Mansfield, at an advanced age. He married Katherine Knowlton, who died Oct. 21, 1875. To them were born: Orwell S., father of Olon S.; and William, who married Sophia Simmons, and was a farmer in Mansfield when he died leaving one son, Frederick, who is now living in New London.
Orwell S. Chaffee, son of Frederick,
was born June 10, 1807, in Ashford, Conn., came to Mansfield with
his parents when a boy, and was reared upon a farm. When he attained
to mans estate he engaged in the silk mill (soon after his
marriage) of his father-in-law, Joseph Conant, at Conantville, and
was later taken into the company, continuing in that line for many
years. Later Mr. Conant retired from the business and the management
of affairs fell upon the shoulders of Mr. Chaffee, who so continued
for some years. Finally the business was disposed of, and in 1838
Mr. Chaffee purchased a factory site at what is now Chaffeeville,
tore down the old building and erected a large building; he also
constructed a good dam. There he engaged in the manufacture of silk,
which he continued the remainder of his life. In later years he took
his son, Hon. J. Dwight Chaffee, into partnership, and in 1872, a
factory was started at Willimantic, under the title of O.S.
Mr. Chaffee married Lucinda Amelia Conant, who was born August 30, 1814, in Northampton, Mass., daughter of Joseph Conant, and died Feb. 27, 1879. The children born of this union were as follows: Maria died at the age of fifteen; Col. J. Dwight is mentioned below; Olon S. is mentioned below. Mr. Chaffee was married, a second time, to Bertha Perkins, a resident of Mansfield. No children were born of this marriage. Mrs. Chaffee later married a Mr. Gridley.
Col. J. Dwight Chaffee, the second child of Orwell S. Chaffee, was born Aug. 9, 1847, attended the common schools, and at the age of sixteen entered his fathers factory at Mansfield, where he thoroughly learned the process of silk manufacturing, later becoming his fathers partner. Later he became president of the Natchaug Silk Company and director of the W.G. & A.R. Morrison Machine Co. Since 1890 he has resided in Willimantic. In politics he is a Republican, and in 1874 was elected to the State Legislature; in 1885 he was the choice of his constituents for State senator. In January, 1887, he was appointed on the staff of Gov. Phineas C. Lounsbury. He married Martha, daughter of George B. Armstrong, of Mansfield, and three children have been born to them: Arthur D., Howard S. and Gertrude A.
JOSEPH CONANT, the maternal grandfather
of Olon S. Chaffee, was born March 28, 1792, in Mansfield, near what
is now Mansfield Centre, one of the twelve children, six sons and
six daughters, of Sylvanus Conant, all of whom grew to maturity and
attained the age of at least sixty. Being brought up upon a farm,
all of his school life was ended by the time he was twelve, and,
as his mother died about that time, child though he was, the little
fellow set out to win his way in the world. His first work was upon
a neighbors farm, where he remained until he attained his majority,
when he erected a small factory upon the site of Chaffeeville and
began the manufacture of augers and steelyards, although he had but
little capital and employed but few men. For a number of years he
followed this occupation, meeting with a fair measure of success.
Later he embarked in silk manufacturing at that place, and after
some years went to Northampton, Mass., where he was employed in
Olon S. Chaffee, our subject proper, was born Nov. 20, 1855, in what is now Chaffeeville, in the house that stands immediately south of his present residence. During his boyhood he attended the common schools of his native town, and then went for three years to the select school of Dr. J. C. Fitch, at Norwalk, Conn. After returning home he went to work in his fathers factory, first on a finishing machine, and later was employed in all the various departments, until he secured a thorough knowledge of the business. In 1888, after the death of his father, he assumed full charge of the factory, conducting it under the name of O.S. Chaffee. In February, 1902, he moved all his business to Montville, Conn., where he conducts a much larger business, his factory there having twice the capacity of his former mill.
In politics, Mr. Chaffee is a Republican, and he represented Mansfield in the State Legislature in 1882, at a time when Hon. John M. Hall, now president of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railway Company, was speaker of the House; Mr. Chaffee served on the committee on States Prisons. In 1903 he represented the 24th District in the State Senate, and was on the committees on Manufactures and Senate Appointments, serving as chairman of the former.
Mr. Chaffee has never married. He is at all times a pleasant, genial companion, and a staunch friend. Personally he presents a fine appearance, being six feet four inches in height, and weighing at least 265 pounds. In all of his transactions he proves himself a worthy descendant of those two excellent men, his father and grandfather, whose insight into business life and methods he clearly inherits, along with their pleasing personalities.
Reproduced by: Ellen Bisson
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