Austin Eugene Pearl’s State Legislator Bio

I recently came across this short biography of Austin, my great great grandfather, in “Taylor’s Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut, 1901-1902; Portraits and sketches of State Officials, Senators, Representatives, etc. (Volume 3)” By William Harrison Taylor, copyright 1901, as found on Google Books.

content-2Austin Eugene Pearl, of Hampton, is a native of the town he has the honor to represent in the General Assembly. He is the son of John P. and Maria (Jewett) Pearl and was born January 11, 1852. He received his education in the common schools of his town. He has always lived in Hampton, except three years, 1871 to 1874 in South Manchester. He is a successful carpenter and builder and is also engaged in farming. He is a staunch Democrat and has been honored many times by his townsmen. He has been a Selectman for thirteen years, Grand Juror, Justice of the Peace, School Visitor, Assessor, Constable, member of the Board of Relief, etc. He has held all these offices in a pleasing and efficient manner. He is a member of Little River Grange, has been Master two years and Overseer two years in the Grange and is a member of the United Order of Pilgrim Fathers.

On July 25, 1875 he married Mary E. daughter of Sylvanus Weeks. Seven children have blessed the union: Eva M., born June 30, 1876, died July 8, 1901; Arthur E., born May 28, 1878; William A., born May 15, 1880; Reuben E., born November 30, 1885; Mary A. born October 20, 1888, Flora B., born April 30, 1891; Evelyn M., born April 13, 1899.

Austin is just one of the many Pearls from Hampton who have served in the Connecticut State Legislature and other Statewide and local offices.  His Father in Law was Sylvanus Weeks, of whom we have a portrait that can be seen in this earlier posting

Memories of a Hampton Long Gone

The following is a letter sent to me by Pearl Scarpino in 1999.  She was responding to a question I had about the farm where my Mom and her siblings grew up.  My grandfather, William Austin Pearl, and my grandma, Mabel Waite Pearl, purchased the home in the first decade of the 20th Century. It was situated near the bottom of Hammond Hill Rd and had a good view of Little River, the valley and North Cemetery.  I had asked Pearl if she knew from whom they bought the homestead?  Names placed in parenthesis are additions made by me to clarify the identity of that person ……..  Dot Vander Meulen.

Pearl Scarpino wrote, “Your question piqued my curiosity so I went up to the town hall and looked in the land records.  I found that in 1906 a deed was recorded to Uncle Will for the farm.  His original purchase was for about 2 acres of land with a dwelling house thereon.  The deed was signed by Frank Pearl as Administrator of the estate of Charles Pearl.  For this land with house your grandfather paid $500.00!  There are several purchases of land listed for the next couple of decades at least, but I was just interested in the original purchase.  It would have taken quite a bit of time to research every one of those deeds.

“When I was small my mother (Mary Almeda Pearl Emmons) and us children spent quite a bit of time on that farm.  One of my very earliest memories was when I was not quite 3 years old and I heard a baby crying in the night.  In the morning I asked my mother if Uncle Arthur (Arthur Eugene Pearl) had been here with his baby during the night.  Little Arthur (Bennett) Pearl had been born about 3 weeks previously.  She told me that no, but that during the night Dr. Marsh had brought me a baby brother (Austin Edwin Emmons).  Austin and Arthur were so near the same age that they spent a lot of their growing up years together.  Your grandmother, my Aunt Mabel, had helped with the delivery and took care of my mother afterward.  (Mabel Waite Pearl was a midwife and delivered many babies in Hampton.)

“When I was 6 years old I spent several weeks there.  Grandpa Pearl (Austin Eugene Pearl) was terminally ill and my mother stayed up at his house with Aunt Evelyn (Pearl Estabrooks) and Aunt Flora (Pearl) and the three of them provided round-the-clock care he needed.  I went to the Center School for those weeks with Bill (William Waite Pearl).  He was in the 6th grade and I was in the 3rd.  There was only one other student in the third grade, and it was a boy.  Since there was only one set of third grade books, I would have to sit with him!!  So I chose to take my lessons with the second grade all the time I attended the Center School.

“One of the things I remember fondly about Aunt Mabel was that she always gave Bill and me hot cocoa to take to school with our lunch.  Also, she made the very best rice pudding in the world.

“In those days Hammond Hill Road was a dirt road and there were a number of ‘thank you maams’ on the road.  These were spots in the road that were leveled off so that horses could take a rest as they toiled up the hill pulling the wagons.  Sometimes we would take a sled to school and what a wonderful ride it was down the hill coming home!

“I remember someone climbing up the tallest pine tree up at Uncle Reuben’s, but I am not sure if it was when your mother (Dorothy Pearl ) did it or possibly Idamay (Pearl) who also would have tried it, particularly if your mother had already done it.  I remember whoever it was that time calling down they could see Uncle Will’s house in the valley.  Have you talked with Idamay?  Next to your mother she was the tomboy of the family.  She and Bill were always putting on circus acts, with emphasis on acrobatics, and I am sure she could give you some stories,  I was devastated when your mother showed me her engagement ring and told me she was getting married and moving away.  After all, she was teaching me how to do hand stands and cartwheels, and who else could teach me that stuff?

“During the various times I stayed on the farm I also helped with the morning ritual of cleaning out the chamber pots.  These were usually quite beautiful and often were part of a set which included a washbowl, pitcher and the pot.  A typical set would be made of white china, with a gold rim, and probably roses painted on the side.

You mention that the farm was one of the last places in Hampton to be electrified.  I vividly remember the gas lamps that were there when I was small.  Outside the house there was a supply of what I think was carbide  Adding water produced a gas which was piped into the house.  In the various rooms were small pipes running up the wall and they would terminate at a lamp.  Voila–modern lighting, at least very modern for those times. ”

“Love,  Pearl”

The Honorable Philip Pearl, Jr. (Part 1 of 3)

This website focuses on the descendants of Austin Eugene Pearl, but there were many other Pearls in Hampton, all descendants of Timothy Pearl (1694-1773, who settled in Hampton in about 1717). These other branches, like our own, lived in Hampton and surrounding communities for many generations.  Although some of Philip Pearl Jr’s own children (including Patrick Henry Pearl) lived in Hampton up until the early 20th century, he is but a distant cousin to our line, as seen in the chart below…

Timothy Pearl (b. 1694, d. 1773)

….Timothy’s 7th child was James Pearl (b. 1739, d. 1831)

……..James 7th Child was Jerome Pearl (b. 1775, d.1825)

…………Jerome’s 6th child was John Porter Pearl (b. 1813, d. 1881)

…………….John’s 3rd child was Austin Eugene Pearl (b. 1851, d. 1927, this is our ancestral line)

….Timothy’s 12th child was Philip Pearl, Sr. (b. 1747, d. 1835)

……..Philip Sr’s 2nd Child was (the Honorable) Philip Pearl, Jr.  (b. 1783, d. 1850, the subject of this posting)

The Honorable Philip Pearl, Jr. was born 19 Aug. 1783 to Philip and Olive Wheeler Farnam Pearl in Hampton, CT and became a member of Hampton Congregational Church in 1804.  He was a wealthy farmer and landowner who lived in Hampton all his life.

Like many of his cousins and descendants, Philip was a prominent man in the public affairs of Windham County and the State of Connecticut.  He represented Hampton as a Senator in the State General Assemblies; and was named Captain of Hampton’s Company of Grenadiers (formed soon after the Revolution by the town’s many Veterans and sustained by the residents “with much enthusiasm” for many decades afterward).  He was also a Deputy Sheriff and a Justice of the Peace.

In the Presidential election in the fall of 1840; Philip Jr., a Whig, was one of eight presidential electors to cast the vote of the State for Wm. Henry Harrison for President, and John Tyler for Vice President.

The Prudence Crandall Museum in Canterbury, CT

During his tenure as a State Senator, his daughter, Hannah Pearl (b. 1815) was a student at the “Prudence Crandall Female Academy” in nearby Canterbury, CT  for the 1832-3 school year.  The school was established in 1831 with the support of the town to teach young ladies from wealthy families in advanced subjects.  The original school building is now a National Historic Landmark and museum roughly 10 miles South and East of Hampton Center.

Philip was killed 17 May 1850 at age 66 when a building that was being torn down fell on him.   He is buried in Hammond Cemetery (North Cemetery), Hampton.  He left most of his estate to his 7th child, Patrick Henry Pearl (1819-1900) on his death.

In the next article we’ll talk more about the Prudence Crandall Female Academy, the immense controversy that surrounded it, and Philip Pearl’s leading role in it.  We’ll end the series with an article about how this controversy led to his deep involvement with major personalities and formative events in the evolution of the Abolitionist Movement of the mid 1800’s.

We are still looking for additional information on Philip Pearl, Jr., such as: details of his history as a public servant; exactly where he resided in Hampton; more information on the lives of some of his children, especially Hannah Pearl (b. April 7, 1815); and photos or images of him and his family.  If you wish to help us research these questions, are a descendant of Philip Pearl, Jr., or already have some of this information, please let us know!

– Allen Vander Meulen III

71st Pearl Family Reunion

The Pearl Clan in front of the "Little River Grange" built by Austin Eugene Pearl and Arthur Eugene Pearl

This year the Pearl family held its reunion at site of the former Little River Grange Hall, now the Hampton Community Center in Hampton, CT. It was a day of celebration of family, and of remembering the two Pearl men who constructed this building over 100 years ago. Austin Eugene Pearl and his son, Arthur Eugene Pearl, built this hall which served the Little River Grange # 36 until recently, when dwindling membership forced its closing and the building was taken over and then renovated by the town of Hampton for a community center. As a Grange Hall and now as a community center, this building continues to serve its town well.

Some 55 ‘cousins’ attended this year. The ages of those present ranged from 5 1/2 months to 91 years. Some traveled from as far as Florida and Illinois to be here with us.

With plates full of good, filling and delicious food, most of our family enjoyed the pot luck lunch outside under the big trees surrounding the Hall while a few stayed inside to eat and visit in the quieter environs of the renovated dining room. There was much visiting and sharing of family news and enjoying each others company, renewing friendships and getting to know each other better. A brief business meeting followed the dinner. There it was voted to hold next year’s reunion in the same place.

The Jewetts and the Pearls

Ever since Hampton was a fledgling community, forming out of the wilderness of northeastern Connecticut, the Pearl and Jewett families have figured prominently. For years families with those last names participated in the life of the community in many capacities, their talents and hard work contributing to the well being and quality of life in the town. No longer are the Pearl and Jewett names prominent here. Families have moved away, children have married and taken on new surnames, old people have died so that gradually the names have disappeared from the consciousness of many now living in Hampton. I suggest that those who are interested take a stroll through the North and South cemetaries. There you will find many stones marking the spot where many with these names slumber beneath the sod.

There are many descendants of these families still living in this area, though their names are no longer Pearl or Jewett. Pride of family is evidenced each year as the Pearl family continues to celebrate its history and its uniqueness by coming together for their annual reunion.

The Jewett and the Pearl families joined together with the marriage of John Porter Pearl to Maria Jennings Jewett in 1847 in Hampton. John Porter Pearl was the great great grandson of John Pearl the immigrant. One of John Porter and Maria Pearl’s 8 children was my great grandfather, Austin Eugene Pearl, born in 1851. Austin and his wife, Mary Weeks Pearl owned a farm across from and a little south of where the Hampton Elementary School is now situated on present day Rte. 97. Their house still sits beside the road.

The first “Hampton” Pearl was Timothy Pearl, born in 1695 in Boxford, MA. He was the son of John Pearl the immigrant. Timothy was a tanner by trade. Sometime around the year 1716, as a bachelor, he moved to Connecticut and bought 100 acres from Ebenezer Jennings on what was then known as Appaquage Hill. That piece of land was near what is now Lewis Rd. in Hampton. His first wife, Elizabeth Stevens from Massachusetts died after giving him 6 children. His second wife, Mary Leach, also from Mass. gave him 9 more. Amazing for the time, all 15 children lived to adulthood.

Austin Pearl was not only a farmer, but also a carpenter, a home builder and a postmaster in Hampton. The Hampton Post Office during Austin Pearl’s tenure as postmaster (1913 – 1921) was located on the east side of Main St., just north of the intersection of Hammond Hill Rd. After he retired, the Post Office moved to the center of town into an addition built onto the Hampton Hill Store. The Pearls found the U.S. Post Office a good source of employment it seems. Besides Austin, his daughter, Evelyn (Pearl) Estabrooks, was the Hampton Postmaster from 1936 to 1964. His sons, Reuben and William Pearl, were mail carriers on Hampton’s rural routes; William serving for 40 years and Reuben for 45. Other family members who worked at the Hampton Post Office, in various capacities and at various times were: Eleanor (Pearl) Moon, Mary (Pearl) Stone, Mary (Pearl) Emmons, Gertrude Pearl, Stella Pearl, Helen Pearl, Will Jewett and Vincent Scarpino. These names will be familiar to many long time Hampton residents.

Austin was a staunch Democrat who served as state representative from 1901 -1902, serving under then Governor, George P. McLean. He was chairman of the Hampton Democratic Party for years and was also a town selectman for 13 years. The fact that my great granddad was a Democrat fascinated me because most of his descendants in my parent’s generation of whom I was aware were avid Republicans. I enjoyed teasing my mother about her ‘Democratic’ roots. She took refuge in denial.

Austin and his son, Arthur E. Pearl, built many structures still standing in Hampton. One was the Grange Hall. One of the ones that Arthur built was the home that my parents, Earl and Dorothy (Pearl) Overbaugh bought on Parsonage Rd. when they retired and moved to town in 1963. That house is a low, one story structure. It was originally built for the Peabodys as a summer home. The land on which it stands was called Petticoat Pastures. I was told that it was modeled after the Little White House of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Warm Springs, GA. Don’t look for a similarity today, though. The house has much changed over the years. If anybody can tell me of other structures that Austin and Arthur built in Hampton and environs, I would be most grateful.

Chester Jewett, Mrs. Allen Jewett, M. Louise Jewett were among the first officers of Hampton’s Little River Grange #36 when it was organized in 1885. Mrs. Chester (Mary) Jewett was an original charter member and was a member for over 77 years. William W. Pearl was not only Past Master of the Little River Grange and of the Quinebaug Pomona Grange, but also Past Master of the Conn. State Grange. Many Pearls and Jewetts were long time members of the Hampton Grange, holding offices and actively participating in that organization until it closed it doors in 2002.

Dorothy Vander Meulen, Family Historian

Other Family News – February 2008 Newsletter

(Originally posted 3/11/2008)

Sylvanus Decatur Weeks

Marion R. Emmons donated a large framed picture of Sylvanus Decatur Weeks to the Family at the 2007 Reunion. She is desirous that the picture remains in the family and that a record is kept of who has possession of it. Right now, it is in the possession of Dorothy Vander Meulen. Photos have been taken of the portrait and placed in the Family Scrapbook for those who would like to have a visual connection with an ancestor. Sylvanus D. Weeks married Minerva Maria Snow. He and Minerva are the parents of Mary Emma Weeks, born 27 June 1857. Mary Emma Weeks married Austin Eugene Pearl 25 July 1875. Mary died 15 Nov. 1923 and Austin died 3 Feb. 1927.