Harwinton Men of Distinction
in the Early Years

In our little corner of the world, most people don't associate Harwintonians with fame and fortune. In fact, probably most who have lived here were content with their private but simple ways of life. In reality, Harwinton has been the home of many prominent men including possibly the greatest railroad builder in the United States.

Collis P. Huntington
Huntington is one of those who left this little town to find his fame and fortune elsewhere. Born in the Poverty Hollow section of town he would become one of, if not the, greatest railroad builder this country has ever known. It is interesting to note that the first dollar ever earned by him, and he died a millionaire, was on a Harwinton farm. He was 14 and worked for $7.00 a month. At 15, he left Harwinton and became a peddler who would travel through New York State and then down towards the south where he sold goods and wares that were made in the small manufacturing hamlets of the north. Later he would be credited with building the first railroad across the Rocky Mountains. He also built a railroad connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a railroad in Mexico and also in South Africa, Central America and even British Columbia. His first railroad, the Central Pacific, extended from San Francisco to Ogden Utah. Later he built the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad from Newport News Va. to Cincinnati Ohio, and onto Louisville Ky. (See a more in-depth report on the life of Collis P. Huntington elsewhere on this Web site)

Cyprian and Moses Webster
These two came to Harwinton from Hartford in 1732. A descendent of Cyprian was General William H. Webster who won distinction during the Civil War and was appointed Chief of the Civil Service Board of Commissioners by President Garfield. He held that post until he died during Grover Cleveland’s administration in the late 1800's. The descendants of Cyprian and Moses were widely scattered throughout the land. One, a surgeon in a Missouri regiment, marched with Sherman through Georgia. Another served on General Joseph Wheeler's staff and earned tha rank of Colonel. Yet another was a captain in a Georgia regiment and had three horses shot out from under him in his first year of service alone.

Morris C. Webster
Morris was born on a Harwinton farm in 1848 and following his education here including at the center academy, he pursued a business career in Hartford where he remained for a number of years. He also held jobs out west and in New York City then, in 1894, he entered into business in Terryville. Most notably was his employment in New Britain for twenty four years with the Malleable Iron Works. He also held several offices in New Britain including the city council, school board and was even mayor of the hardware city for two years. He was elected to the General Assembly in 1896 and also served as chairman of the committee on agriculture. In 1912 he was elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 1914 he was our State's Comptroller.

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