FINDING THEODORE A. HUNGERFORD
 
 
Roger P. Plaskett
 

The original library in Harwinton is the brick building at the corner of Route 4 and Harwinton Heights Road. Originally It was called the Theodore A. Hungerford memorial Library. So who was T.A. Hungerford and why was the Library named after him?

THEODORE A. HUNGERFORD MEMORIAL LIBRARY

Theodore Hungerford was born in Harwinton on August 20, 1838. He was the son of Anson and Louisa Hungerford. He grew up in the house with the red door on the center green.

In 1852, he attended the Center Academy which was actually connected to his family home. (Acadamy was moved to South Road much later). He was 14 years old.

CENTER ACADAMY PRIOR TO BEING MOVED IN 1929

By the time he was 22 he had left his Harwinton home and was living and working in Georgia as a clerk in a store owned by his step brother Anson Jr. and his brother in law William Hurd.

THE HURD AND HUNGERFORD STORE

With the Civil War looming, the Hungerfords fled the South and ended up in Michigan and then onto Chicago where Theodore Hungerford started the T.A. Hungerford Publishing Company. He had a very successful business there but the great Chicago fire in 1871 burned him out.

He moved to New York and, in 1881, he worked at the Broadway offices of “The Hotel Gazette”. In 1885 he actually bought the business and in 1887 he took on John Martin as a partner. The Hotel Gazette was a weekly publication that sold Hotel advertizing and also provided a rating of Hotels in New York.

PART OF THE HOTEL GAZETTE'S LETTERHEAD

In 1903 the average male life span was 49 years. T.A. was now 65 years old and his three older siblings were still living with John at 73, Henry at 75 and Sarah at 77. The Hungerford Genes were apparently very strong.

At that time, some of their needs were taken care of by T.A.s half nephew Newman Hungerford.

Newman was born back in Gerogia in 1849 along with his brother Clarence; they lived with their mother and father. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was elected president and Georgia seceded from the Union. It was time for this line of Hungerford’s to move north. They went to Albany New York, primarily so that Clarence could attend the Albany Academy.

THEODORE A. HUNGERFORD
NEWMAN HUNGERFORD

Around 1870, the entire family moved to Hartford and Newman was working at the Blodgett & Clapp Co. They were importers and dealers of Metal and tin plate materials.

In 1892 he married Helen Dotha Wilson, a Harwinton girl. They had no children and she died unexpectedly in 1898 at only 35 years old. Newman was now 49.

Helen Dotha Wilson

By 1900, Newman was retired and living in Hartford with his mother and, in 1905, he purchased property in Harwinton 3/4 of the way up the hill and called this place "Sunset Hill". Newman loved photography and spent his summers in Harwinton but would return to the house at 45 Prospect Street in Hartford for the winter months. In addition to photography, Newman was a stamp collector, a coin collector and a gun collector.

NEWMAN AT SUNSET HILL

On June 7th, 1903, Newman received a telegram that his Uncle Theodore had suffered a mild stroke while having dinner at the Hotel Normandie in New York. That same day, Newman took a train to New York along with his good friend Horace Averill from New Preston. The doctor described the stroke as "mild" but maybe the start of something more serious. He suggested that Newman work on getting Theodore's affairs in order. Only two days later, a last will and testament was drawn up and signed by Theodore. Newman was appointed the executor.

One important item in the will is Item #3 which reads:
To purchase a suitable lot or plot of ground in said town of Harwinton and erect theron a stone or brick building, as he may deem best, for a free public library for the use and benefit of said town and the inhabitants thereof, forever, to be known as “the Theodore Hungerford Memorial”; and I herby direct that my remains be placed and kept in a granite vault, to be erected in or under such building, and a memorial tablet placed upon the wall.

Item #6 of the will reads:
All the rest residue and remainder of my estate to invest and keep in trust
for the care and maintenance of library building, grounds, insurance, and the purchase of new books for “free public library” for the benefit of said town of Harwinton, and its inhabitants forever.

On June 27th, Theodore suffered another stroke. This one was more severe and rendered him unable to conduct business. He could only speak in short spurts and was paralyzed on his right side. He would never again return to his office and Newman would make numerous trips to New York to attend to T.A.'s affairs including his care.

By July, T.A. had completely lost his ability to speak. He was still staying at his place at the Normandie Hotel and, between the first of July and August 9th, the doctor had visited him a total of 71 times charging a whooping $1.50 per visit. On August 10th, T.A. was moved to the Dr. Pettigill's home.

ON SEPTEMBER 27TH, 1903, THEODORE A. HUNGEREFORD PEACEFULLY PASSED AWAY.

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