Biography of Edwin H. Bugbee

The subject of this sketch was born in Thompson, April 26th, 1820. His father was James Bugbee, who was born at Woodstock April 11th, 1788, a descendant, through Hezekiah, James, Samuel and Joseph, from Edward Bugby, who came over in the ” Francis ” from Ipswich, England, in 1634, and settled in Roxbury, Mass. His mother was Elizabeth Dorrance, a descendant of George Dorrance, who came from the North of Ireland with that large Scotch emigration about the year 1715. He received his education in the public schools of his native town, and was early a clerk in his father’s store, devoting his leisure hours to reading and study. In 1839 he was engaged by a manufacturing firm, located at the Lyman village, North Providence, R. I., as clerk and bookkeeper. The year proving a disastrous one for cotton manufacturers, the firm felt obliged to suspend operations before its close. In the spring of 1840, operations were again resumed at the mill by its owner, Governor Lemuel H. Arnold, and Mr. Bugbee was continued as clerk. At the close of 1842 business was again suspended by the failure of Governor Arnold. The summer following, Mr. Bugbee obtained a lease of the factory property, and associating with him Mr. Henry Weaver, a practical operator, and receiving abundant financial aid from his friends, the well known firm of S. & W. Foster, of Providence, commenced business on his own account. Although at the commencement the outlook was not flattering, by an unprecedented advance in the price of print cloths, together with prudent management, the business showed at the expiration of the lease gratifying and substantial returns. At the close of the lease, the factory having been sold in the meantime, Mr. Bugbee returned to his native town, having, during the year, purchased a farm in Thompson; but not finding the business of farming at all congenial to his taste, sold it, and in the summer of 1849 entered the employ of the Williamsville Manufacturing Company, of Killingly, S. & W. Foster the Providence agents, with whom he remained thirty years, retiring in 1879.

Mr. Bugbee seems to have early won the esteem of the citizens of Killingly, they conferring various town offices upon him, and in 1857 elected him as one of their representatives to the general assembly, he serving at this session on the judiciary committee. Although a new member and without legislative experience, he at once took a prominent part in the debates of the session, always commanding the close attention of the house, receiving commendation at the close of the session from political papers of both parties. In 1859 he was again returned to the house and appointed chairman of the committee on education. In 1861, the war year, he was elected to the house for the third time, and was again chairman of the committee on education. This session was one of the most important in the history of the state, the inauguration year of the great rebellion; and had enrolled among the members of either house some of its ablest men. At its commencement the marshaling of troops had already begun, the sound of war everywhere heard, and the ways and means for furnishing material aid and support to the federal government were the engrossing subjects of discussion. At this session the subject of our sketch again took a .prominent part on the floor of the house. Aside from war questions at this session, the most exciting subject was that of the Flowage Bill. This bill was ably discussed pro and con, Mr. Bugbee making a lengthy speech in its favor, which was highly commended. In 1863 he was again elected, serving as chairman of the committee on state prison. In 1865 he was elected state senator from the 14th district by the large majority of 1,223 votes. On the floor of the senate as in the house he proved an active member. At this session he was chairman of the committee on banks, and one of the eulogists in the senate on the death of President Lincoln. In 1868 he was elected senator for the second time and chosen president pro tern. of that body, serving as chairman of the committee on military affairs. In 1869 he was in the house and again chairman of the committee on education. He was elected to the house in 1871 and chosen speaker, in which capacity he won especial favor and commendation. In 1873 he was a member of the house and chairman of the committee on new towns and probate districts. He was elected for the eighth time to the house in 1879, receiving the major vote of both political parties of Killingly, and was chairman of the committee on cities and -boroughs.

The partiality of the voters of his adopted town in having elected him eight times their representative something unusual in Connecticut towns, we think-and on two occasions giving him large majorities for senator, must have been exceedingly gratifying to the subject of our sketch. Mr. Bugbee, though an earnest republican, has never been a violent partisan; and by his non-partisan action when a member of the legislature, has received more or less democratic support. Through all the years of his legislative career he was ever attentive to his duties, seldom failing to answer to roll calls, participating in most of the important debates, always listened to with attention, receiving credit in either house as among their most eloquent speakers.

He married, in 1865, Selenda Howard, daughter of Howard Griswold, Esq., of Randolph, Vt. She deceased in July of the following year. He has retired from active business and at present resides in Putnam, Conn. He is a life member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and its vice-president for Connecticut, and is much interested in genealogical investigation. He has been one of the directors of the First National Bank of Putnam since the first year of its existence. He is represented as being heartily in favor of tariff and civil service reform, and condemns as unpatriotic the policy so often pursued by the political party that is out of power of opposing on purely partisan grounds and for party purposes the measures proposed by the party in power, which very measures if they, the minority, were in power they themselves would recommend and advocate.



History of Windham County, Connecticut, Bayles, Richard M.; New York: W.W. Preston, 1889. Additions and corrections © by

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