I am privileged to be one of the two co-historians of the Pierpont Family Association. Recently, my distant cousin and co-historian gave me an author-signed copy of the book “The Mill on Mad River,” a historical fiction that takes place in Waterbury, CT and which centers around the beginnings of what later became Scovill Mfg. Co., the company for which my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather worked for a combined 100+ years (*1). It has been fascinating reading, especially knowing that many of the facts in the book are true.
In the back of the book was inserted a few pages from the Scovill Bulletin (an employee publication) from September 1948 showing the author signing a copy of the book for the then Scovill president, Leavenworth Porter Sperry. It noted that President Sperry and his brother, Vice-president Mark Leavenworth Sperry are descendants of Dr. Fred Leavenworth, of the original firm of Leavenworth, Hayden & Scovill Company. I have previously documented how Mr. Sperry and I are related (*2), but I thought that I’d see if the other individuals in the original Scovill history are also related to me. Here is what I found.
The original company was called Abel Porter’s button shop and was started around 1802. Abel’s grandmother was Mary [Hooker] Hart and she was the grand-daughter of Samuel Hooker from Farmington. But Mary’s aunt, also named Mary, was married to Rev. James Pierpont, the progenitor of the Pierpont family and the founder of Yale University. This means that Abel Porter is my 3rd cousin (6 times removed) as Ezra Pierpont, who was living in Waterbury at the time this book takes place, was Abel’s 3rd cousin.
Abel’s button company was bought out by Dr. Frederick Leavenworth, Daniel Hayden, and James Mitchell Lamson Scovill (called Lampson Scovill in the book). I’ve already documented my relationship to the Leavenworth/Sperry family. And I have not found any connection to Daniel Hayden, who had come to the area from Attleboro, MA and who left Waterbury not too many years later. But is there a connection to Lampson Scovill?
During the period that the book covers, Lampson was not married and he ran the general store in Waterbury. But he did eventually marry a woman named Sarah Ann Merriman. The Merriman family had been in the Waterbury area for several generations, in fact when my wife and I were first married we lived on Merriman Lane in the nearby town of Prospect. Sarah Ann’s great*3 grandfather was Caleb Merriman. But through a series of females beginning with Caleb’s daughter, Lydia, another of Caleb’s great*3 granddaughters was Sally Beecher. Sally married Austin Pierpont, making Austin Lampson’s 4th cousin. As a descendant of Austin, that means that Lampson Scovill is my 4th cousin (5 times removed).
There are other relatives of mine mentioned in this book. When the primary (fictional) character in the book travels to Litchfield to get strips of brass annealed, the preacher in the Litchfield church is Lyman Beecher and his daughter Harriet is also mentioned in the story. But I’ve already told the story of how Lyman and Harriet are distant cousins of Sally Beecher and thus they are distant cousins of mine as well (*3). In Litchfield, the book also mentions Judge [James] Gould who ran the Litchfield Law School as well as Sally Pierce who ran the Litchfield Female Academy. These were both real people. Judge Gould took over running the Litchfield Law School after the death of Tapping Reeve who founded it. I’ve written about my relationship to him earlier (*4).
Many of the other family names mentioned in the book are real families from Waterbury history (Hotchkiss, Payne, Farrell, etc.), but the specific individuals who have parts in this book are fictional. However, Captain [Samuel] Judd, who is in his 90s when he appears in the book, is a real individual. I am related to the Judd family through my Upson ancestors who were some of the earliest settlers in Wolcott (*5).
While this book is fictional, the basis of it is in the real history of Waterbury and particularly the founding of Scovill.
Because it contains so many references to real individuals who are my ancestors, I really enjoyed reading it. You can find copies of the book through places like Amazon.com. You can also read many of the details about this history of Waterbury in the book at Mr. Clark used as a basis for his (*6).