History of Woodstock, Connecticut 1850-1880

Town offices in 1861, at the breaking out of the war of the rebellion, were: Ezra C. May, clerk, registrar and treasurer; Samuel M. Fenner, Asa Goodell, Hezekiah Bishop, selectmen; George N. Lyman, S. W. Bugbee, collectors; Nathan E. Morse, constable; R. S. Mathewson, H. S. Perry, Oliver Marcy, Elias Child, 2d, Baldwin Vinton, Carlo May, grand jurors; Simon Bartholomew, George Bugbee, Albert Morse, assessors; F. W. Flynn, L. D. Underwood, C. C. Potter, board of relief: William Lester, Otis Perrin, land surveyors; George Bugbee, George A. Paine, J. W. Sessions, S. M. Fenner, Alexander Warner, M. Bradford, John White, board of education; Stephen L. Potter, school treasurer. Very heavy burthens were brought upon the town during this period, in bounties, supplies for soldiers and care of their families. Woodstock maintained its ancient reputation in meeting promptly all public demands, and in the character and service of those who went to the battle. Soon after the close of the war efforts were made to reduce the debt that had been contracted. At the annual town meeting in 1868, Mr. Henry C. Bowen offered to give $5,000, a thousand a year, if the town would cancel the debt in five years. This generous offer was received with general favor, and immediate measures taken for raising the town’s proportion. By levying an additional tax each year the needful amount was secured, and the town freed from this encumbrance. The great American flag used at the monster mass meeting of 1868 was also presented to the town by Mr. Bowen.

The republican party was largely in ascendancy during the years of the war. In 1872 democrats and liberals united on a ticket for town officers,- composed of good men,” but did not succeed in breaking the ranks of the republicans. Ezra C. May still served as town clerk and treasurer; selectmen, George W. Clarke, Stephen D. Skinner, Nathan E. Morse; assessors, Martin Paine, Joseph R. Barber, Joseph M. Morse; board of relief, Amos A. Carrol, William H. Church, John A. Mason; grand jurors, Erastus H. Wells, Henry T. Child, Abiel Fox, Arthur Stetson, Ezra C. Child, Ebenezer Bishop; constables, P. Skinner, Jeremiah Church, John H. Child; John Paine, agent; John A. Mason, treasurer of town deposit fund; registrars of voters, Dis. 1. Lewis J. Wells, William H. Pearson; Dis. 2. George Bugbee, Albert Kenyon; Dis. 3. John Paine, George A. Penniman; school visitors, George S. F. Stoddard, Sylvester Barrows, Ebenezer Bishop, Monroe W. Ide, George Bugbee. George A. Paine served faithfully for several terms in the important office of school fund commissioner.

In 1880 the population of Woodstock numbered 2,639; children between 4 and 16 years of age, 556; grand list, $943,536; dwelling houses, 607; mills, stores, distilleries, manufactories, 49; horses, asses, mules, 647; neat cattle, 2,929; carriages and pleasure wagons, 87. Herbert M. Gifford had then succeeded to the office of town clerk and treasurer, retaining it till 1888; he was succeeded by Mr. Newton D. Skinner. The present selectmen are Charles H. May, Stephen D. Skinner and Reed Tourtellotte.

Woodstock as a Connecticut town was first included in Pomfret probate district. Its first clerk was Penuel Bowen, of Woodstock, under whose administration the records were lost in the destruction of his house by fire. Woodstock’s specific probate court was constituted in 1831, John Paine, judge, George Bowen, clerk. Political jealousies made this office very transitory and migratory for many years, transferring it from parish to parish. John F. Williams, Theophilus B. Chandler, Daniel Lyman, Ezra Child, George A. Paine, G. S. F. Stoddard, T. D. Holmes and Stephen Potter, were among the many who served as judge of probate. A new departure was effected under the administration of judge Oscar Fisher, who continued in service from July 4th, 1867, to January, 1881, when the present incumbent, judge Oliver Perry, entered upon service. The wisdom of the civil service reform in this department is conceded by all parties.

Parish divisions in Woodstock are unusually pronounced and definite. After a serious-contest the west half of the town was set off as a distinct parish or religious society in 1743, and still remains nearly or quite intact, as the Second or West parish. The First or East parish was again divided after the church controversy of 1850-60. The villages of Woodstock hill, South Woodstock and Quasset are included in the First society. West Woodstock parish includes the villages of West Woodstock and Woodstock Valley. The Third or ‘ Northeast society includes East Woodstock village, formerly called Muddy Brook, and North Woodstock village, first known as Village Corners. Town meetings are held alternately in each of the three parishes, and representatives are sent alternately, each sending a representative for two successive years, while one is without a representative every year.

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

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