Home | Query | Town Index | Records | Volunteers | Links
CT GenWeb | CT Archives | US GenWeb


Windham County Connecticut
CTGenweb Project


"Windham’s Bi-Centennial 1692-1892; A Memorial Volume of the Bi-Centennial Celebration of the Town of Windham, Connecticut, containing the historical addresses, poems, and a description of events connected with the observance of the two hundreth anniversary of the incorporation of the town, as held in the year 1892." Published by the Committee, Hartford, CT, 1893

Windham’s Second Century ­ Notes of Interest:

An index of the growth of land values in later Willimantic may be seen in the fact that what was known as the Johnson Park property,
including not only the square between North, Meadow, Bank and Valley streets, but the lot where A.G. Turner’s silk mill now stands, and the
land under the row of tenements on the South side of Meadow street, was all sold in 1863 for $1300. Recent sales from the same property show the market value of the same land to-day for not less than $40,000. The life of Dr. William Witter, first resident physician of
Willimantic, and who lived in what is still known as the Witter house, on the east side of High street, corner of Main, was shortened by
accident. When crossing the old bridge near the Stutely Sweet place in Coventry one day, the doctor’s horse shied at a big stone in the road,
and backed off into the river bed, gig, horse and man. Dr. Witter was seriously injured about the back. [Corrections and Additions in the back
of the book state: The first physician of Willimantic was Dr. Mason. He came in 1827, and his wife’s mother Mrs. Lambert, built in 1828 a house on the site of the present Dime and National bank building. Dr. Mason remained only three or four years and Dr. Witter was the first
long-resident physician.] He sued the town of Coventry and got a verdict for $1400. He always suffered from internal injuries after that, and though before the accident he bade fair to exceed fourscore and ten, he died at 44. Dr. Witter was called one of the best surgeons of his day east of the Connecticut River. When he first started here he charged his patients twenty-five cents a visit. The Windham Center of about 1790-1820 was a great place for law students. Judge Hovey studied there. Judge Swift wrote his famous “Digest” there. During the War of 1812, Charles Taintor, general tradesman at the Green, bought large quantities of provisions for the government to supply the soldiers, and this gave the Windham farmers quite a boom. Warren Atwood bought the old Stanniford Inn, took it down and used it in some of his buildings in Willimantic, but I do not learn where. William C. Cargell of Willimantic has in his possession a pig-weed cane which was growing in the sod by the old M.E. church where the ground was broken for the Atwood Block. It is a curiosity. James Walden was the first Adams Express agent here in 1855 and used to carry most of the packages to the depot in his arms, or with a wheel-barrow. Now, teams are run, six men are employed all the time, and the gross receipts for the business average $125 a day. One of the most active and energetic of Willimantic pioneers was Daniel Sessions who lived about two miles west of the village on the Coventry turnpike. Almost all the brick used in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s were made by him. Young people will be interested to know that seventy-five years ago it was necessary for the young men and maidens who became engaged to have their bans published from the pulpit before they could be united in the holy estate of matrimony. It was generally done the Sunday before the great event.

Windham had some old slaves who were familiar figure down to 1840 or later. “Old Prime Dyer” has been immortalized with the frogs in
Leavitt’s operetta. There were also his sister “Cindy,” another veteran negress called “Case Knife,” and “Old Cruse White,” who used to bleach hats and bonnets for the ladies. “Pete Smith” was another familiar figure. There were a score or more in town who remained here until death, employed in various capacities chiefly as field hands or domestics. Slavery was finally abolished in Connecticut in 1848. A noteworthy attempt was made to start a shoe industry at Windham Center about forty years ago. Captain Justin Swift was President, and
the capital subscribed was $10,000. The old shop, still standing next below the Parsons house, was built for the purpose, and about twenty
hands were employed. Shoes were made and shipped to New York. Ten per cent dividends were soon declared and all went swimmingly for a time, but had times came, extended credit was given to the New York commission house which sold the goods, and ere long the company awakened to the fact that most of its capital was in New York. Negotiations followed and the settlement was such that the industry was abandoned.
Windham has had three Congressmen under the new constitution: John Baldwin, 1825-29, George S. Catlin, ‘43-45 and Alfred A. Burnham, ‘59-63. Baldwin was a Federalist of liberal tendencies; Catlin a Democrat of brilliant qualities who committed political suicide by voting for the admission of Texas; and Burnham a loyal Republican of war times, a gentleman of high moral character and marked ability, who also served as lieutenant-governor. Henry Hall, brother of Horace, was first postmaster of Willimantic, establishing the office here in 1827. As he was clerk at the Windham Co’s store, he located the office at the Hebard tavern, in charge of a deputy. George W. Hebard succeeded him and located the office at the Jillson stone store, opposite what is now the spool shop. Then came Col. Roswell Moulton who took it down to a building near by Edward F.Casey’s present furniture store. In 1843 Gen. L.E. Baldwin became postmaster, and was audacious enough to locate the office uptown in a small building opposite Nile Potter’s hotel (now Young’s). Then came successively Joshua B. Lord in the Hanover Block, William L. Weaver at his store in Franklin building, James H. Work in the Twin buildings, Thomas Campbell in the Boon (now Card) block then William H. Hosmer in the same place. In 1861 James Walden was appointed and he held the office for eight years, locating it in his block on Main street, where now A.B. Williams’s dry good store is. John Brown followed for twelve years, then James Walden another term, then Henry N. Wales, and the present incumbent, Charles N. Daniels. The post office was removed by Postmaster Daniels in 1890 to the new Loomer block on North street, just back of the opera house. Mr. Brown remains as clerk, and has served in the office continuously for thirty-one years. In ’49, when the California gold fever broke out, Windham furnished three men for the company that sailed from New London: Allen Stoddard, William Webb and Mosely Curtis.


Back to Windham's Bi-Centenial Index


Copyright © 2008-20152008
Please send comments to

Home | Query | Town Index | Records | Volunteers | Links
CT GenWeb | CT Archives | US GenWeb