Archive for January, 2011

Hannah Haddasseh Hickok Smith

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Last year, my newly found Austin cousin shared with me the Austin letters, info and photos saved by her grandmother Lillie Austin Calkin.

Among the items was an 1855 letter from an Abby Smith to my great-grandmother Mary Ann Eldred Austin.

The letter was about how Abby’s sisters had been so sick and what they did to get better. As I typed up the letter, I found myself wondering why in the world I was typing up a letter from 1855 about some very sick people I had never heard of.

But then the names of Abby’s sisters—Cyrinthia, Laurilla, and Zephina—were so unusual, that I thought perhaps even with Smith for a last name, I would do a google search including Glastonbury, where the letter was from.

Abby Hadassah Smith and her sisters—Hancy Zephina, Cyrinthia Sacretia, Laurilla Aleroyla, and Julia Evelina—were the daughters of Hannah Haddasseh Hickok Smith and Zephaniah Hollister Smith.

Hannah Haddassah Hickok Smith was a first cousin to my great-great-grandmother Hannah Hickok Eldred.

The Zephiniah H. and Hannah H. Hickok Smith Family
The Zephaniah Smith daughters came from an accomplished and nonconformist family. Zephaniah Smith was a lawyer and former minister. Their mother, Hannah Hickok, was an amateur mathematician and poet.

Zephina was an inventor; Laurilla was an artist; and Cyrinthia was a poet and horticulturist. Julia knew classical languages and translated the Bible into English.

In 1873, Abby, 76, and her sister Julia, 81, lived in their family home, Kimberly Mansion, in Glastonbury, Connecticut.

Kimberly Farm had the most valuable property in town. The Smith sisters were being exploited by the town tax collector, because they were women and at that time, had no vote or voice in their taxes.

Abby and Julia refused to pay their tax until they were given representation. Abby took their concerns to the town council where she said:

    The motto of our government is ‘Proclaim liberty to all inhabitants of the land!’ and here, where liberty is so highly extolled and glorified by every man in it, one-half of the inhabitants are not put under her laws, but are ruled over by the other half, who can take all they possess.

    How is Liberty pleased with such worship?

The town seized their beloved Alderney cows, auctioned them off and attempted to auction their farm as well.

The sisters were able to buy the cows back and fought the town in court, ultimately winning.

More information on the Smith Family
Abby, Julia, and the Cows
Fascinating, well written article by Elizabeth G. Speare.

Kimberly Mansion.

Glastonbury, CT history

The Smiths of Glastonbury