Glastonbury's noteworthy citizens and their contributions
The Historical Society of Glastonbury has a timeline that begins in the 1600s and goes to the 1980s. It contains many facts about the PEOPLE OF GLASTONBURY. Click here to read the entire list.
The names Timothy Stevens, Gideon Welles, the Smith sisters and John Howard Hale sprinkle our conversation today. From Steven's role as the town's first minister; Welles' cabinet post under Lincoln as the first Secretary of the Navy; Julia and Abby Smith's pursuit for women's rights in 1869; to Hale's famous peaches, Glastonbury abounds in famous personalities.
Harriman for the early Connecticut-made aircraft engine; J.B. William's soaps; Hubbard's tanning mill; Bidwell's grist mill; and many, many more.
Broadening the Definition of Democracy: The Smith Sisters
“Here began a peaceful resistance to the same kind of tyranny as that which caused the Revolution, and here, some day, as to Bunker Hill now, will come men and women who are reverent of the great principle of the consent of the governed, who respect courage and fidelity to principle, and who will hold at its true value the part which these sisters have taken in solving the meaning of a representative government.” ~ Lucy Stone, suffragist leader
The Smith sisters were not only ahead of their time but helped other people to move ahead with them. Born in the last two decades of the eighteenth century during a period when the young United States was struggling to understand what it meant to be a democracy, they spent their entire lives challenging narrow definitions of that term – definitions that excluded women, African-Americans, and immigrants from full citizenship. Beginning in the 1820’s, the Smiths were ardent abolitionists at a time when most people felt that although slavery was wrong, it was none of their concern. The Smiths supported advanced education for women before there existed any colleges that would admit them. Following the Civil War, they became suffragists even though it meant financial loss and public ridicule. Yet all the battles they fought were eventually won: the slaves were freed, the education of women improved, and women won the right to vote. READ MORE
Gideon Welles-Gastonbury's Native Son
by Gary E. Wait
Mr. Wait is a leading expert on the life and times of Gideon Welles.
During the dark days of the Civil War, when the Union army was suffering a series of discouraging reverses, and it had begun to appear that the Lincoln Administration might go down to defeat in the forthcoming national election, two prominent national officials sat discussing the country’s future on the porch of the old Welles mansion in Glastonbury. One, the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, had been born in the house some sixty years before, and had come “home” to attend the funeral of his nephew, a casualty of the war.
With him was Admiral David G. Farragut, hero of the Battle of New Orleans, whom Welles had placed in charge of the expedition. Welles’ faith in Farragut had been justified--and in the aftermath of family tragedy, they turned once again to the affairs of state, discussing on the porch of Welles’ ancestral home the strategy by which the Navy hoped to wrest another key position from the rebellious South. In the days that followed, the successful operation at Mobile Bay under Farragut’s command would vindicate their plans. READ MORE