included the whole California Railroad system, systems
in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, a line from Portland
Ore to New Orleans, the completion of the Chesapeake
& Ohio railroad and lines through West Virginia,
Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.
He is also associated
with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, which had a
fleet of 16 vessels. He was founder of the city of Newport
News Virginia and invested more then $7,000,000 in a
ship yard there that employed over 4,000 workers.
Collis P. Huntington
was a large man, standing six feet, four inches with
very broad shoulders. He was trim and fit; a condition
that he would maintain all the way to his death. He
was certainly a leader and had a saying that he would
repeat many times, “trust all in all, or not at
all”. He would sometimes add “if you show
a man that you believe in him, he will, in return, try
to show you that you are not mistaken”.
It's true that Collis
P. Huntington may be the most famous person born in
Harwinton but what he may be most remembered for here
was his gift to the town.
In 1885, during
one of his visits back here he presented the Congregational
Church Society with a plan to build a granite chapel
in loving memory of his mother, whom he cherished all
of his life. This would be a beautiful structure to
be built behind the historic church at a cost of $60,000.
All Europe was to be searched for the finest stained
glass to be used in the windows.
Picture circa 1886
The chapel was finished
in 1887 and Huntington, now 66, returned for its dedication.
The following paragraphs are the transcript of Mr. Huntington's
address as recorded in the Von Tobel Scrapbooks:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am glad to be here with you in the place of my nativity.
I see before me many men and women whom I knew as children
when I was a child, before I went out of this good old
town of Harwinton. Years more than half a hundred have
passed away since those days, and in that time great
changes have come over us. Then I, and some of you,
were “barefoot children” and those that
were then of middle age have passed on to the other
land and we who have stayed have become gray with years.
In my childhood days my mother was here, and she often
worked into the small hours of the night that her children
might be comfortably clad on the morrow, and in the
years that came after her children worked so that her
last days might be made like herself, bright and full
of sunshine; and in that was their reward. And as often
as I have returned to these my native hills have I been
made glad that this was the place where I was born,
and that I was born poor; for I think that that was
the reason, at least in part, of such success in life
as I have been able to achieve. It was long year ago
when I said to myself that what ought to be done could
be done, and that success in life only meant labor with
an honesty of purpose and an intelligent economy. But
I think most of the real joys of life come from the
doing of good to others, in helping those who fall,
to rise; those who are below us to come up a little
New is to this little chapel. I have built it for you,
who were children with me, and I also wanted to build
it in memory of my mother, who was one of the best women
that ever lived; and I ask you to care for it also because
it is in memory of my mother. I only hope that it will
give you as much pleasure in the receiving as it does
the giver in the giving.