East Killingly Sketch
(Reprinted from the October 3, 1901 issue of the Windham County County Transcript)
Reminiscences of Men and Women Who Once Lived There
By the sale of the Elliottville cotton mills at East Killingly, the assured completion of the Providence and Danielson electric railroad, and the promised reorganization of the Chestnut Hill reservoir company, attention is again called to the eastern part of Killingly, which was once the prosperous and populous business center of the town. For twenty years East Killingly industries have been decaying and the villages on the upper part of the Whetstone Brook have been almost forgotten by the outside world. Yet East Killingly has given birth and schooling to large numbers of men and women who have become prominent and who have achieved success.
Many of these memories were recalled last year when a reunion of the scholars who attended the Valley school from forty to fifty years ago, was held in the school house which now shelters, and which, for nearly three-quarters of a century has sheltered, the school children of district No. 13, known as the "Valley district."
It was brought to mind that Senator Aldrich of Rhode Island, a leader of the U. S. Senate, spent his boyhood days in the East Killingly schools while his mother worked in the nearby cotton mills. It was also remembered that Roxie Chase, the daughter of Judge Chase, was educated in the local school and that she afterwards went to Ohio where her daughter, the cousin of John Chase and Charles D. Chase, two of Killingly's selectmen, and of numerous other resident Chases, married William Rockefeller, one of the Standard Oil magnates.
Thirty-six of the old "Valley district" scholars assembled upon that occasion, August 29, 1900, and, with the ringing of the school bell, took their seats as they had frequently done so many years ago. The roll call of 1850 was responded to by the following persons, many of whom traveled long distances to be present:
Alpheus Slater, Marcia Mitchell Frost, Ellen Mathews, Emily Cole Chase, Charles Potter, Albert Himes of Providence, Eunice Avery Covell, Abbie Mathews Card, John Chase, the Democratic selectman from the third district and his wife, Ellen Lewis Chase, Ellen Bennett Ray, Sarah Himes Bartlett, Willis Bartlett, the cotton mill promoter, Harriet Kies Bastow, Mariette Mathews Paine, Amanda Warren Foster, Betsy Warren Davis, Jane Edson Law, Lucy Edson Fairman, Phoebe Chase Potter, Jane Bastow, Josephine Slater Horton, Helen Slater, Erastus Potter of Port Oram, N.J., Erwin Jordan, James H. Potter, Killingly's Judge of Probate, Amelia Bastow, Susan Slater, William Slater, Mary Hazard Bartholemew of Pomfret, Sarah Hazard Smith, Dr. Henry L. Hammond of Dayville, Horace Hazard, Adelbert Mitchell, W. H. Chase and E. F. Chase. Mrs. Marcia Frost of Mantua, O. and Charles D. Chase of Killingly, who were not in the 1850 class, were also present.
Hon. E. E. Potter, James H. Potter, Dr. H. L. Hammond, Willis Bartlett, Alpheus Slater and Albert Himes called up the brilliant past and pictured the bright "hoped for" future of East Killingly. Songs, spelling classes and social diversions of various kinds served to make the occasion exceedingly pleasant; but there were few whose hearts were not tinged with sadness over the dark present and the apparently gloomy future of the village in which their childish days had been spent. Yet, within the brief space of a year, the abounding gloom, despair and lassitude have given way to renewed activity and the brightest prospects which promise to make East Killingly the scene of such prosperity and happiness as the old days could never boast.
(Note at the end of this piece, which was reprinted February 7, 1952: "The old schoolhouse was purchased in February, 1947, by Philip T. Lewis, East Killingly's postmaster. He and his family are now living there.")