HENRY CHANDLER BOWEN

309

HENRY CHANDLER BOWEN

Henry Chandler Bowen, Corresponding Member since 1858, died at his home, 90 Willow Street, Brooklyn, New York, February 24, 1896. He was born in Woodstock, Connecticut, September 11, 1813, and was descended from Griffith1 Bowen, the immigrant (see Register, xlvii, p. 453), through Henry2, Isaac', Henry4, Matthew5, William', and George7, who married Lydia Wolcott Eaton, a daughter of Dr. John Eliot Eaton. His ancestors for the most part resided in Roxbury, Pomfret, and Woodstock. At the age of twenty he went to New York City, finding employment in the silk house of Arthur Tappan and Company. In 1839 began the firm of Bowen and McNamee, later Bowen, Holmes, and Company, which conducted the dry-goods business until the Civil War, when they were obliged to suspend. The firm several years before, in a historic card, gave notice to the trade at large that "our goods and not our principles are on the market." In young manhood he began an active religious life, and was foremost in promoting the enterprises of the Congregational Church. In 1848 with others he began the "Independent," becoming full proprietor in 1861. With retirement from trade he gave himself to its business management. In 1862 he was appointed collector of internal revenue by President Lincoln, continuing five years. During the history of the "Independent" its influence has been in behalf of the best causes. In antislavery days, the trying times of the Civil War, the period of reconstruction, and all the larger interests of peace, education, reforms, and Christian missions, the "Independent" has been a leading force. Mr. Bowen was its soul and life. He attracted able writers, and by wise management secured a patronage making the " Independent" probably the ablest and widest-read religious periodical in America. Among the editors whom he employed, of world-wide 310

CHARLES FRANCIS POTTER

reputation, were Rev. Drs. R. S. Storrs, J. P. Thompson, Joshua Leavitt; Henry Ward Beecher, Theodore Tilton, and Rev. Dr. William Hayes Ward. In recent years it was his delight to gather at Roseland Park, his gift to Woodstock, on each successive Independence Day, a company illustrious in every department of the world's better ways. These famous celebrations have been highly productive of the historic and patriotic spirit of our day. Mr. Bowen married first, June 6,1844, Lucy Maria, a daughter of Lewis Tappan, by whom he had ten children, eight of whom were living at the time of his death. He married second, December 25, 1864, Ellen, a daughter of Dr. Hiram Holt, of Pomfret.

CHARLES FRANCIS POTTER

Charles Francis Potter, a Resident Member, elected in 1884, was a lineal descendant of one of the oldest Concord families, was born at Concord, Massachusetts, March 29, 1829, and died at Malden, March.l, 1896, after a long illness. He came to Boston several years before the war, and was engaged in various commercial pursuits; at the outbreak of the Civil War he was in the wholesale and retail shoe business under the firm name of Bodwell and Potter. The unsettled condition of the market caused the firm to dissolve, and some years afterwards Mr. Potter entered the wholesale watch and jewelry business, in which he remained until a few years before his death. During this long period he was connected with the house of H. T. Spear and Son.

The strong religious tendencies of his youth were developed in his early manhood, and he associated himself earnestly and with eager conviction with the Universalists. He held, as a lay member, many offices in the religious and social organizations of that sect. He was an officer in the Universalist Sunday-School Union, CHARLES CARLETON COFFIN

311

which embraces twenty different schools, for twenty-eight consecutive years, including the secretaryship for ten years, and for several years he was president of that body. At the time of his illness he was also secretary of the Universalist Club, which office he had ably filled for six years. A lameness from boyhood had always prevented his participation in active life, and had developed the mathematical and statistical abilities for which he was well known among his own circle of friends.

CHARLES CARLETON COFFIN

Charles Carleton Coffin was descended, as are most of the Coffins of this country, from Tristram Coffin, who came from Brixton, near Plymouth, England, to Massachusetts, in 1642, with his widowed mother, Joanna Thember Coffin, and his sisters Mary and Eunice. He settled at Newbury, where he built a house and remained till 1660, when he removed to Nantucket and died there in 1681, leaving five sons. Captain Peter Coffin, a descendant of Tristram, and the grandfather of Charles Carleton, removed in 1769 from Newbury to Boscawen, New Hampshire, where he was prominent in public affairs, especially in energetic resistance to the oppression of the mother country. He fought at the battle of Bennington. His son, Thomas Coffin, married Hannah Kilborn, daughter of Deacon Eliphalet Kilborn, of Boscawen.

The youngest of their nine children — Charles Carleton Coffin — was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire, July 26,1823. His boyhood was passed on the farm, with early rising and hard labor. His education was in the district school, with a few terms at Boscawen Academy and Pembroke Academy. He acquired some knowledge of surveying, and assisted in laying out the Northern Railroad and the Concord and Portsmouth Railroad. February 18, 1846, he married Sallie Russell Farmer, daughter of Colonel 312

CHARLES CARLETON COFFIN

John Farmer, of Boscawen. In 1851 he constructed the telegraph line from Cambridge Observatory to Boston, by which uniform time was given to the Massachusetts railroads. During the following winter and spring he set up the Telegraphic Fire Alarm in Boston, under the direction of his brother-in-law, Professor Moses G. Farmer. In connection with Professor Farmer he had taken out a patent for a contrivance connected with the electrical battery, which proved to be valuable and was sold, Mr. Coffin receiving for his share $2,000. The possession of such a sum of money encouraged him to strike out for a new home in the vicinity of Boston, and he rented a house in Malden for $100 a year.

He had been, for a few years, writing for the newspapers occasional articles, both in prose and in poetry. The favor with which these were received drew him more and more toward literary and editorial work. His first engagement in Boston was as assistant editor of the "Practical Farmer," a weekly agricultural paper. In 1856 and 1857 he was connected with the editorial work of the "Daily Atlas," the organ of the antislavery wing of the Whig party, and of the "Atlas and Bee." In 1858 he came into a connection with the "Boston Journal," which was to continue, in one form or another, for many years. Upon the breaking out of the war in 1861, Mr. Coffin was sent to the front as correspondent of the "Journal." He saw the engagement at Blackford's Ford, and at the first battle of Bull Run narrowly escaped capture by the Confederate cavalry. In December, as all seemed likely to be "quiet on the Potomac," he obtained letters of introduction from the Secretary of War to General Grant and General Buell, and hastened west. At Louisville he presented his letter to General Buell, only to have it tossed aside with a contemptuous remark and a refusal. Then he made his way to Cairo, seeking General Grant. In the second story of a dilapidated building he found a man in a blue blouse, sitting on a nail keg, at a rough desk, and smoking a cigar. Presenting his letter from the Secretary of War, he requested the man to hand it to General Grant. Instead of turning to the inner CHARLES CARLETON COFFIN 313

office, the supposed orderly read the note and, rising, extended his hand and said, "I am right glad to see you. Please take a nail keg." Mr. Coffin was at once on the best of terms with the general, who gave him all needful facilities for obtaining information. He witnessed the surrender of Fort Donelson, and was with the fleet during the operations at Island No. 10, and later at the capture of Memphis. Then he came east and made report of the seven days' battles before Richmond. His account of the battle of Antietam was very highly commended. An immense edition of it was disposed of in the army. Another of his reports which became somewhat famous was that describing the three days' struggle at Gettysburg. It was reprinted far and wide in America, and translated and republished in France and Germany. He continued his services as correspondent to the end of the war, witnessing and making record of all the principal engagements of the army of the Potomac under General Grant.

In 1866 Mr. Coffin went to Europe as correspondent of the "Boston Journal." Mrs. Coffin accompanied him on this journey, which finally became a tour around the world. After a year and a half in Europe, he visited Turkey, Syria, Egypt, India, China, Japan, and California, reaching Boston in December, 1868, after an absence of two years and five months. His traveling experiences furnished interesting material for public lectures, and for some years after his return he was one of the popular lyceum speakers. He delivered a course of lectures before the Lowell Institute. He is said to have given, first and last, two thousand public addresses. In 1870 Amherst College conferred upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts.

His later years were largely devoted to authorship. His published works number nineteen volumes, besides eight or ten pamphlets. He was a member of the Legislature of Massachusetts in 1884 and 1885, and sat in the Senate in 1890. He was an Honorary Member of the New Hampshire Historical Society and a member of the American Geographical Society, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of the Massachusetts Club, of the Boston Congregational Club, and from 1865,

« PreviousContinue »