Captain Samuel Reynolds
Captain Samuel Reynolds will probably always be best known for the fact that he donated the lot on which Westfield Congregational Church now stands. Previous to that he had given land for a street named for him, Reynolds Street. But he played an important role in the growth of Danielson.
Samuel Reynolds was born in South Kingston, RI, on July 29, 1792. His parents were Samuel and Amy (Weaver) Reynolds. In early life he removed to Woodstock, CT.
It was said that he led the singing in Woodstock, a service he enjoyed. He received his captaincy while serving in the War of 1812. Captain Samuel Reynolds married Sally Manning and they had two daughters who were born while they lived in Woodstock. Their daughter, Phila Manning, was born August 18, 1817 and the other daughter, Emily Maria, was born August 27, 1822.
He moved to Danielson about 1831. He owned a considerable tract of land, and his house and farm buildings occupied a position between the old stage road (now Broad Street) and the new road through to the railroad and business section, now part of Main Street. When the trains began running, it was deemed necessary to put a more direct road through the fields for the convenience of the people, so Captain Reynolds, O. M. Capron and others let them take portions of their property for Main Street and then building began in the downtown area south of the Westfield district of the village.
At that time these were roads, unnamed and unpaved; they were not streets. The divergence of the new road from the other brought the tract on which his buildings stood to a point several rods to the north. Across this tract and to the south of the buildings, Captain Reynolds laid out a new street intersecting the old stage road at right angles. This resulted in a triangular plot of land with roads on all three sides. This is now called Davis Park.
When the railroad came to Danielson in 1838, he bought land near the station .About 1840 he put up a store on that land which stood until 1906 when it was torn down to make space for A. F. Wood’s stone block. In the early 1840s Samuel Reynolds was station agent at the new depot. He did most of the teaming for all the factories in the village and as he expressed it, “did not move as many goods in the whole time as now pass over the railroad in a single day.”
His obituary relates, “Captain Reynolds was very active in beautifying our village, setting trees, etc. Besides, he probably laid out more streets than any other individual, one of which, a very handsome and popular one, bears, and we trust will continue to bear his name for centuries to come.”
When the Methodists were just beginning to meet, he offered the freight house to them for a meeting place. They often used a bale of cotton or hay for a pulpit. Later in 1842, when they planned to build, he offered them a site on the corner of Main and Central Streets.
About 1854 he gave a plat of his farm for the building of the magnificent new Westfield Church, with the express stipulation that it be built parallel to Reynolds Street. Reynolds was somewhat stubborn or self-willed and inclined to have his own way in various matters.
Captain Samuel Reynolds led a long and healthy life. On the occasion of his 90th birthday it was written, “He still retains his mental faculties in well neigh their full vigor, and for one who has had so many broken bones, most of which he has set himself, his physical powers are simply wonderful.”
Unfortunately he only lived two days past that 90th anniversary. The account of his untimely death was recounted in the August 2, 1882, Windham County Transcript. “It appears his son-in-law in Webster was very ill from a serious accident and Mr. Reynolds was hastening home in order to prepare for a visit to Webster on the 12:30 train.When near the railroad crossing, the approaching 11:30 train gave its warning whistle, and Mr. H. N. Ross, who was also in that buggy, seized the reins and warned Mr. Reynolds that to proceed would be dangerous. Mr. Reynolds, thinking probably only of his anxiety to get home, caught the reins back and gave the horse the whip. As the horse sprang forward across the track Mr. Ross jumped from the buggy just in time to save his life, for the engine instantly struck the team, throwing Mr. Reynolds several feet and instantly killing him. The horse was thrown in an opposite direction and killed also. The train was stopped, and its officers did all that could be done to aid in caring for the body; a jury of inquest was summoned and performed its duty, and the mangled remains were tenderly carried to the home which he had left but a few hours previous, full of the vigorous good cheer of hale and happy old age, the home which was in sight of the spot where he met his death, and which was probably the last earthly object he saw, as he spurred his horse onward to reach it.”
- Writings of Gertrude A. Pradel, Killingly High School history teacher
- The Windham County Transcript, August 2, 1882
- Vital Statistics of South Kingston, RI
- Bowen’s History of Woodstock
- Westfield Congregational Church History