The Ellsworth Memorial Association hosted a tea to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution and honor members with 40 years or more of service. It was held at the Oliver Ellsworth Homestead in Windsor. The Connecticut State Society DAR was organized on Feb. 20, 1892, and was one of the first to appoint a state regent. The program included a lookback at the founding of CTDAR and its early leaders and tributes to six Honorary State Regents and twenty longtime members. The Abigail Phelps Chapter of the DAR is proud to have the following members honored for their years of service: Barbara Crede of Newington, Mary Lou Kerr of Simsbury, Celia Roberts of Canton, Lynn Stewart of North Granby and associate member Carla Bue of West Hartford. Over 80 members and guests attended and many took tours of the house after enjoying tea and a variety of delicious confections.
By Carol Laun, Archivist, Salmon Brook Historical Society
This rather ordinary looking white house was once the imposing Federal-style mansion house of a wealthy Granby resident. In the more than 225 years since it was built, it has undergone huge renovations, additions and subtractions. When built, it was located very close to the southwest corner of Rte. 10-202 and Rte. 20. The house has been moved from its original site and has had even more architectural changes. It has now been divided into apartments and is a rental property.
The house was probably built in the late 1700s. It is difficult, if not impossible, to trace some of the early Granby homes because of the 1877 fire that burned three books of Granby land records.
The entire southwest corner of Salmon Brook Street and North Granby Road, comprising about 25 acres, was owned by Pliny Hillyer. On this site he had a tavern, a store, barns, other outbuildings and at least two dwelling houses, including his home, now 265 Salmon Brook Street. Pliny had tavern licenses between 1778 and 1791, so his house may even date from the late 1770s.
George Seymour Godard
Cossitt Library is celebrating 125 years April 2016 to March 2017. A series of historical articles about the library and North Granby will be featured here.
The latter part of the 19th century saw a "generation of giants" emerge from the one-room schools in the farming town of Granby. Among them were William Mills Maltbie, Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court; Tudor Holcomb, prominent tobacco grower, dairy farmer, philanthropist; James Lee Loomis, insurance executive, banker, author; Edward W. Dewey, state legislator, County Commissioner, County Sheriff; William Scoville Case, lawyer, author, Connecticut Supreme Court Justice; and George Seymour Godard, Connecticut State Librarian.
George Godard was a direct descendant of Daniel Gozzard (Gossard, Goddard) who came from England to Hartford, in 1646. Daniel's son, Nicholas Gozzard, was granted land in the Salmon Brook section of Simsbury (now Granby) in 1683. His probate inventory in 1692 mentions a homestead in what is now Granby Center. Eventually the Goddards came to North Granby and purchased the land around and including Crag Mill. They operated the gristmill at the Crags and later added cider and saw mills.
As in all small and somewhat isolated communities, families intermarried. The Godards married Cossitts, Holcombs, Hayes, Cases and other local families, until land ownership, industries and family relationships were thoroughly entwined.
By 1858, Harvy Godard was operating the mills at the Crags. He married Sabra Beach and they raised six children in their home at 58 Granville Road. Oren Harvy born 1859, Porter Beach 1861, George Seymour 1865, Fred Munyon 1868, Oliver Clifton 1871 and finally a little girl, Grace Minerva who was born in 1874 and died before her fourth birthday.
Harvy owned several farms, large tracts of woodland and the saw, grist and cider mills. Shingles from Godard's Crag Mill covered many of the roofs in the Farmington Valley area. Harvy Godard helped organize the Grange in Granby and was the master from 1875 to 1893, as well as serving as the first master of the State Grange for four years. According to the Encyclopedia of Biography, "He was a man of strict integrity, of generous and social nature and temperate to the last degree."
Young George attended District School 6 on Granville Road. He described it as "the little one-room school house in Granby where my father and his father and his father went to school." With his brothers, George helped his father with the many chores of farm and mill.
He developed a love for libraries and books as a young boy. Godard recalled that it was before 1873 when "I drove into Hartford with my father and visited the State Library. I was surprised to find so many more Connecticut documents than we had in our collection in our attic at home. My interest was noticed and appreciated by Dr. Charles J. Hoadly, State Librarian, who from that time became one of my best friends."
In 1877 12 year-old George was quite ill with a fever. His mother described the rather peculiar medical treatment he was receiving, in a letter to another son, Oren, away at school.
"Poor Georgie is nearly 'done up' in onions, on his feet, under his arms and across his stomach, chopped onions—besides plates of the savory vegetable standing about the room. In addition to this prescription of Harvy's, he is washed thoroughly in saleratus water and rubbed in high wines twice a day. So you see, no common fever can last long with such treatment as that. The Doctor says he is doing as well as could be expected, as he was very bad when we came home." Fortunately, George recovered from his fever, despite being treated like a stew.
While still in his teens, George taught school in Granby for three terms in 1882-83. He was named a state scholar at the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale College in 1884.
Godard went to Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham, Mass. to prepare for college, and graduated in 1886. He then attended Wesleyan University in Middletown. During his junior year, 1889, the Cossitt legacy to build a public library in North Granby was received. George Godard was chosen to be on the first Board of Directors for the Cossitt Library, was the first librarian, serving 15 years, and remained on the board serving as president from 1918 until he died in 1936.
Postponing his senior year, Godard gave a full year of his life to the building and organization of the library. It was a measure of his ability and a tribute to his talent, that the older men on the Board entrusted this 24 year-old student with almost total responsibility for the library.
Godard competently researched library construction, interior arrangement, planning, selection of books, organization and management. He was involved in every facet of the project. The neatly documented record books of Cossitt Library illustrate the remarkable organizational skills of this man.
He wrote numerous letters, made endless book lists and cataloged, labeled and shelved the books. There were no computers, copiers or fax machines. Everything was transcribed in the precise handwriting of George Godard.
The books he selected "show both his diligent labor in filling the library with a wide selection of important literature, and his efforts to expand the cultural environment of North Granby. He employed 'scientific' cataloging techniques he had learned at college; searching around the region for complete sets of periodicals to which he was subscribing (including three professional educators' publications for Granby schoolteachers); had printed a double-entry catalog so readers could 'send for' books from home; kept detailed statistics of numbers of readers, circulation per reader, and types of books most read; and badgered the board of directors and the architect about everything from designing an inviting reading room to building horse sheds, so readers would stay longer in stormy weather." (Mark Williams)
Despite his heavy involvement in the library, the ambitious Godard also applied for the job of census taker in 1890. Even after George returned to college, he kept the job of librarian. His assistant and future wife, Kate E. Dewey, actually worked in the library.
Godard received his BA from Wesleyan in 1892, attended Northwestern University in Illinois in 1893 and during his vacation, served as a guide at the Chicago World's Fair. In 1895, Godard received a Bachelor of Divinity from Yale and continued his studies for his Ph.D. until 1896 when his father died and he was called home.
He married Kate Dewey the following year and they had three children: George Dewey in 1899, Paul Beach in 1901 and Mary Katharine in 1903.
Godard entered the most illustrious phase of his career in 1898, when his old friend, Dr. Charles J. Hoadly, asked George to be his assistant. When Hoadly died two years later, Godard (only 35 years old) became the third State Librarian in the history of Connecticut.
Under the direction and leadership of Godard, the State Library was reorganized and its activities were widely expanded. He found a wealth of material not cataloged nor indexed and a lack of protection for the state's historic treasures. He was a historian as well as a librarian and earned the title of "Preservation Godard."
He gathered early Connecticut church records, probate records, military history and other important documents. He compiled an inventory of all printed data on the state found throughout Connecticut. He was innovative in his use of a photostat to copy original papers. He was tireless in his efforts to save the history of the state. During his tenure, every book was indexed, the library was open to all, and every item was available.
The State Library soon outgrew its space in the State Capitol and a separate library was approved in 1907 and completed in 1910. Godard supervised every detail of the new Connecticut State Library building, just as he had done with Cossitt Library.
Godard did not limit his activities to the library. He was an active member of many professional, patriotic, fraternal and civic organizations. He was chosen to chair many committees; the old cliché, "let George do it," became literally true with George Godard. He traveled widely, often representing the Governor, and was in constant demand as a public speaker. He was so well known and respected, that he often was introduced before the Governor or other dignitaries at public events. And yet, this busy man always found time for his visitors.
George Seymour Godard died Feb. 12, 1936 and an unprecedented outpouring of tributes and accolades attested to his renown. Letters, now bound in two large memorial volumes, came from local, state and national political leaders; from librarians all over America and overseas; from historical and genealogical organizations; schools and universities; colleagues, friends and old neighbors in Granby. The letters are not just routine formal condolences; most of the writers knew Godard as a friend and wrote notes of personal memories.
His funeral was held in his beloved State Library and Governor Wilbur L. Cross said, "Connecticut has suffered a loss so great it can hardly be estimated."
George Godard wrote a fitting summary to his life in a letter to a friend shortly before he died. He wrote that his years at the library were the best of his life and "I have been happy every day."
by Carol Laun
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Granby voters decided most local questions and elections by a voice vote or a show of hands. For State and National elections, a ballot box was used. In the 1890s, it was decided to vote for local issues by ballot, and this method was used even as late as 1950. The ballot box voting process had quite a few differences from the way we vote today.
The Salmon Brook Historical Society has the complete voting record from a special constitutional vote held in 1907. The legislators submitted a Constitutional amendment to the people of Connecticut. It was essentially the 1818 Constitution rewritten to organize all the previous amendments, which were scattered throughout the document.
The Granby Board of Selectmen called a special Town Meeting at 9 a.m. on October 7, 1907 at the Town Hall on North Granby Road (now the Grange building). All eligible town voters were invited to attend. After discussion, they had a vote by ballot. Seated at a table were the two town registrars, Harold M. Hayes and William Shattuck. They had to share a hand-written voter list. Naturally, there were only men’s names on the list.
After his name was verified on the list, each voter was given an official marked envelope and two small slips of paper. On one side of each paper was printed “Official Ballot,” and on the other side “Constitutional Amendment in the form of a revision of the Constitution.” One ballot had No and the other had Yes. The registrars watched while the voter made his choice and sealed his vote in the envelope. Before the vote could be dropped into the ballot box, each of the registrars had to sign his name on the envelope, as proof of a legal vote.
Despite the seemingly reasonable request for this amendment from the state legislators, they couldn’t resist adding a few other items. The terms of the Probate Judges were to be changed from two years to four years and the legislator’s salaries were to be raised from $300 to $500. The result of this vote was a resounding NO, both from Granby and the state. Granby vote results were 62 yes and 133 no.
All of the envelopes, carefully signed by Hayes and Shattuck, and all of the votes, were found in the Loomis Store attic, before the building was taken down in 1975. The Granby Town Clerk was Chester P. Loomis, one of the store owners, and town papers were kept in the store.
Other voting documents were also found, and one from 1895 contained a curious statement. Printed on the state form was “Number of ballots found in box marked “For Women’s Ballots” and the Granby Town Clerk just wrote “No Box.”
The reason for this was a bill passed by the State Legislature in 1893 that allowed women to vote “at any meeting held for the purpose of choosing any officer of schools or for any educational purpose.” The women had to be at least 21 years old, have resided in Connecticut for at least one year, lived in their town for at least six months, and they had to be able to read English. Women’s ballots were cast separately from men’s, in special boxes labeled “For Women’s Ballots.”
No evidence has been found that Granby ever had a box for women to vote on matters of education, even though the 1895 vote was a local election and included electing the Board of Education.
In 1898, the town voted on two question, along with electing town officials. First was for the town to take over the management of the schools instead of the individual school districts. The vote was 93 no and 35 yes. The other question was to determine whether any town residents would be licensed to sell “spirituous and intoxicating liquors.” This time the vote was 116 yes and 79 no.
Local candidates also had to report on how much money they spent during their campaigns. One man running for the state legislature listed cigars as his only expense. However, most of the sworn documents were similar to this one in 1900. “I hereby certify that my election expense as a candidate for Justice of the Peace at the Election Nov. 6, 1900 was nothing, (signed) Benton Holcomb.”
Quite a refreshing contrast to the millions spent on elections today.
© 2017 The Granby Drummer. All rights reserved.
Webdesign by PluginMatter.
Webdesign by PluginMatter.