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Phineas Talcott, Jr

Phineas Talcott, Jr


Phineas Talcott, Jr built Rockville's American Mill and gave us Talcott Park, but his path from farm boy to wealthy industrialist took an unusual path.

He was born in 1793 to Deacon Phineas Talcott (1758-1835) and Hannah Kellogg (1768 -1836), who was the daughter of our first minister Rev. Ebenezer Kellogg. The Talcott family were early settlers in Bolton and important contributors to Vernon's success as were Rev. Kellogg's descendants.

Deacon Phineas Talcott was a farmer living on Bolton Road near Vernon Center. He was involved with town affairs holding many positions in the early government, was a representative in the State Legislature and one of the delegates who created the State Constitution of 1818.

His son, our Phineas, Jr, attended local schools with the sons of other farmers. Options were few in the early 1800's for young men who preferred not to become farmers. In 1820, at age 27, he took a teaching position in Colchester and then transferred to Glastonbury. From there he was hired by Hartford and placed in charge of the Stone School House where he supervised 600 pupils and 10 teachers.

In 1823, at age 30, he married the love of his life Lora McLean, the daughter Francis McLean who built the Rock Mill. She was nine years his junior and educated in Miss Catherine Beecher's Hartford Female Seminary. They likely met in Vernon through their families or the church. She was a small-sized, delicate woman of fine fastidious tastes, yet very efficient. She and Phineas were the parents of two sons, Frederick and George.

Hartford Retreat For The Insane

Rather than join his father-in-law Phineas and Lora continued in another direction. In January 1828, at age 35, he was appointed steward of the newly opened Hartford Retreat For The Insane in Hartford and Lora became its beloved matron. The inmates of the Retreat spoke of her as ‘Good Mother Talcott.'

The institution was one of only four facilities of its kind in the country and in its first 10 years boasted the highest cure rate in the nation. Phineas and Lora Talcott worked with Eli Todd, the first director, from 1928 to 1835 helping to develop programs and the character of the institution. In its first 10 years, the Retreat boasted the highest cure rate in the nation and, possibly, the world. In the 20th Century it was incorporated into Hartford Hospital and became The Institute of Living.

Lora died there January 7, 1835 at age 33, which had a devastating effect on Phineas.

Phineas Return To Vernon

Heartbroken he returned to his parents' farm on Bolton Road and with his brother Ralph made a tour through New York, Ohio and Illinois prospecting for land. This might have been his way to grieve, clear his head and decide what to do next. The trip was cut short because his father Deacon Phineas died that December and his mother the following January.

A year later Phineas became the agent of the Rock Manufacturing Company working for his father-in-law, however, he resigned in March 1842 to try farming. He bought a farm north of Prospect Street, at the time considered the choicest residential section of Rockville. There in 1846 he built the house where he spent the rest of his life.

Phineas never remarried. He focused the remainder of his life on his business interests and Rockville.

Phineas Talcott, Jr Industrialist

In 1846 he began construction of the American Mills where he was the largest stockholder and its president until his death. He also had an interest in the Springville Mill, the Aqueduct Company, the Rockville Railroad Company, and the Savings Bank of Rockville.

Phineas also engaged in politics. When he was judge of probate the left wing of his home was his courtroom. He served as first selectman of Vernon, was a representative in the State Legislature and State Senator in 1851.

When he died in 1863 at the age of 70 Phineas was buried by the side of his beloved wife Lora, who he had mourned for thirty-one years. The cow pasture across from his home was donated to Rockville and became Talcott Park.

Talcott Park in 1870; Talcott's house is on the right.

» Learn more about Phineas Talcott, Jr and his wife Lora McLean.

» Visit his Find A Grave Memorial.

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