History of Woodstock, Connecticut 1801-1850

At the town meeting in 1807, John McClellan, Esq., served as moderator. Jedidiah Morse still retained the position of town clerk and treasurer; selectmen, John McClellan, Captains Luther Baldwin, William May and Jedidiah Kimball, and Deacon Stephen Johnson; constables, David Frizzell, Parker Morse, Amasa Lyon; grand jurors, Henry Welles, Thomas Corbin, Captain Asa Child, Darius Barlow; listers, David Frizzell, William Lyon, Darius Barlow, Doctor Haviland Morris, Captains Carpenter Bradford, Aaron Child and Judah Lyon; pound keepers, William Flynn, Roswell Ledoyt, Chester May; tavern keepers, William Bowen, Jonathan Day, Daniel Lyon, Charles W. Noyes, Chester May, John Child, Sanford Holmes, Perley Lyon, Earl Clapp and Lemuel Perry; Colonel David Holmes, Captain William May, Jedidiah Kimball, committee to wait upon turnpike commissioners.

The multiplication of taverns testified to the increase in travel and teaming. It was a day of emigration, when all the main roads were thronged with wagons and teams, transporting families westward. Manufacturing was also coming in vogue, stimulating business intercourse. As yet Woodstock farms sufficed mainly for the maintenance of its population, with such business as was demanded by the daily needs of its inhabitants. The town was thrifty and healthy, standing high among the towns of the county, exceeding in 1810 all others in population. Again in 1820, it stood at the head with 3,017 inhabitants, the first town in the county to enter the thirties.

During the war of 1812 she had shown her usual spirit, though a majority of her citizens opposed the course of the president, and manifested their disapproval in denunciatory resolutions. The summons to the relief of New London in June, 1813, awakened much enthusiasm. James Lyon was sent out to warn the militia, and returning from his-mission before sunrise, found two companies already mustered on the common, under charge of Adjutant Flynn, ready to march to the scene of action. Bow en’s tavern, under the poplars at Woodstock hill, was a place of much resort during this busy period, and was once the scene of a remarkable conjunction between two government cannon, ordered from different establishments by the secretaries of war and navy, which met before the tavern’ door at the same moment,

In the succeeding battles for a new state constitution and county seat Woodstock bore her part bravely, enrolling her vote against the constitution, and persistently refusing to pay any share of the expense of the removal of the courts to Brooklyn. This was the more unreasonable in view of the radical tendencies of the town, and its uncommon addiction to excessive litigation. A number of protracted and troublesome lawsuits were carried on during this period, and the three lawyers, Esquires McClellan, Ebenezer Stoddard and John F. Williams, found abundant practice. The pugnacity of Woodstock’s citizens made politics lively. The anti-Masonic controversy raged with much fierceness, breaking down old party lines and inciting new combinations.

Hon. Ebenezer Stoddard, who had served as representative in congress from 1821 to 1825, was elected lieutenant-governor of Connecticut in 1835. Temperance and slavery agitation called out much interest, and were soon introduced into politics. A large number of taverns had been maintained during the days of heavy teaming and hard drinking. In 1828 the licensed tavern keepers were George Bowen, William K. Greene, Rhodes Arnold, Aaron Corbin, Judah Lyon, Chauncey Kibbe, Thomas L. Truman, Hezekiah Bugbee. With the progress of temperance reformation the number gradually diminished. In 1833 Chauncey Kibbe, William Healy, George Bowen, Amasa Carpenter and Rhodes Arnold were nominated. Two years later and only Rhodes Arnold and James Lamson were allowed the privilege. Five persons were refused nomination, and the petition of George Bowen, Danforth Child and Rhodes Arnold for license to retail wine and spirituous liquors was rejected. In 1836 Lyman and William Hiscox, George Bowen, Pelatiah and Zenas D. Wight and Danforth Child were approbated to be retailers of wines and distilled spirituous liquors at the several stores.

After the Washingtonian temperance movement of 1840 a special town meeting was called, January 6th, “to see if the town will grant liberty as the statute law directs to any person or persons to sell wine or spirituous liquors in the town the year ensuing.” A decided refusal was given. Even the discreet application of Mr. George Bowen to sell such articles ” for medicinal purposes only and no other ” was decided in the negative. And as tavern keeping was quite superfluous apart from liquor selling, the application of Mr. Amasa Carpenter to keep a house of public entertainment met the same fate. For fifty years no liquor selling has been licensed by the town of Woodstock, save for medicinal and chemical purposes. Trainings and taverns were also simultaneously abandoned, or transformed into a mere shadow of former greatness.

The movement for the abolition of slavery aroused immediate interest in Woodstock. Its citizens aided in the formation of the early ” Liberty Party.” In 1843 Doctor Samuel Bowen of Thompson, received 116 Woodstock votes as the congressional candidate of the abolitionists. So powerful was the party that for three years it obstructed the choice of town representatives. In 1847 a compromise was effected between the Whigs and liberty party men, and Leonard M. Deane and Stephen Hopkins elected.

The latter is starred on the roll of representatives as the first Abolitionist ” in the state legislature. Woodstock’s abolition vote was much larger than that of any other town. So strong was this element that in 1856, when the republican party came into prominence, 4778 votes were cast for ” Fremont and Freedom.”

In population Woodstock has suffered gradual loss, numbering some hundreds less than in 1820. Constant emigration and the lack of manufacturing interests have caused this shrinkage, yet there are indications that the lowest point has been reached and renewed immigration set in. Many respected citizens have carried on the affairs of the town these seventy years. In 1830, October 4th, John Paine, Esq., served as moderator; John Fox was chosen treasurer and town clerk; Oliver Morse, William Lyon, 2d, Laban Underwood, Simon Barrett, Chauncey Kibbe, selectmen; Perley Lyon, Rhodes Arnold, Rodney Martin, assessors; John Chandler, 2d, Christopher Arnold, Otis Perry, board of relief; Silas H. Cutler, John Child, Oliver Saunders, constables and collectors of taxes; Charles Child, Jr., Elisha C. Walker, Spaulding Barstow, Simon Barrett, Elisha Paine, Alexander Dorrance, grand jurors; P. Skinner, Cyrus Davenport, Cyprian Chandler, John W. Wells, Amos Paine, Jr., Benajah Bugbee, 2d, Alexander Dorrance, Charles Skinner, Charles Crawford, Ebenezer Paine, John Chamberlin, Penuel Corbin, Jr., William Child, Alfred Walker, tithing men; George Bowen, sealer of weights and measures; Charles Smith, Asa Lyman, John Fowler, 2d, fence viewers; Aaron Corbin, Charles Smith, James Lyon, committee on alteration of highway districts. The rate list of 1820 amounting in value to about $36,000, comprised 363 dwelling houses, 16 mills, 399 horses and mules, 3,009 neat cattle, 27 riding carriages, 13 other carriages, 169 clocks, watches and timepieces. One academy building, 18 schoolhouses and 5 churches (houses of worship) were reported.

Source: History of Windham County, Connecticut, Bayles, Richard M.; New York: W.W. Preston, 1889

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