LEROY M. COWLES. Without doubt our readers, in tracing their ancestral lines to the point where uncertain tradition brings their researches to an early and unsatisfactory end, have realized the value to future generations of this attempt to preserve in substantial form the information still obtainable.
The subject of this sketch, a prominent resident of New Britain, is more fortunate than some in having a record of his family through nine generations previous to his own, reaching back to John Cowles, a native of England, who came to Massachusetts about 1635; removed to Hartford, Connecticut, prior to 1639, and settled in Farmington, Connecticut, in 1640. About 1663 he went to Hadley (now Hatfield), Massachusetts, where he died in 1675. He is supposed to be the progenitor of all bearing that name in America except descendants, not numerous, of his brothers, Thomas, John and Henry Cowles, who came from England to James City County, Virginia, about 1740. John Cowles was one of the first settlers of Farmington, Connecticut; deacon and pillar of the church; member of the General Court or Legislature of Connecticut; constable and townsman, all offices of honor in those days. He was also one of the first settlers of Hadley, Massachusetts, and of Hatfield, Massachusetts. His widow, Hanna, died in Hartford in 1683. They had two sons, Samuel and John (2), and five daughters all of whom married well and had worthy descendants at the present time. John (2) accompanied his parent to Massachusetts, and became the progenitor of the Massachusetts branch of the family.
(II) Samuel Cowles, the head of the Connecticut branch, was born in 1639, and died in 1691. He remained in Farmington after the removal of the rest of the family to Massachusetts.
(III) Timothy Cowles, the next in line of descent, was born in 1666, and died in 1736.
(IV) William Cowles, son of Timothy, was born in 1691, and died in 1781.
(V) William Cowles, son of William (IV), was born in 1728, and died in 1808.
(VI) John Cowles, our subject's great-great-grandfather, was born in 1753, and died in 1821.
The (VII) Anson Cowles, but great-grandfather of our subject, was born in 1781.
(VIII) Romanta Cowles, our subject's grandfather, was born in 1808 in East Hartford, and in early manhood was engaged in farming there in connection with the mason's trade. In 1840 he removed to a farm in Glastonbury, but his skill as a mason brought him a somewhat extensive business in that line, and at one time he and his three sons were employed in building the Colt's Armory in Hartford. For more than 60 years he read the Hartford Courant, and although he did not care for office he took much interest in political affairs, being a strong Republican. He was a Congregationalist in religion, and was always active in the work of the church. His death occurred about 1888, and his wife, Cornelius Hills, died about 1885. They had the following children: Morris A; Erastus R., who died in November, 1898; Anson D.; Sarah M., whom married Frank Mansur, of Brooklyn, NY; Mary C., wife of Edward B Hodge; and Hattie, who died in childhood. The Hills family was prominent in Hartford, and Hillstown, where our subject's grandmother was born, was named in their honor. Cornelius Hills had two brothers (Osmon a resident of Hillstown, and Edwin) and three sisters (Mrs. Bidwell, Mrs. Rathburn and Mrs. Spencer).
(IX) Morris Adair Cowles, our subject's father, was born in 1831, in Hillstown, where he remained until the age of 18, his education being obtained in the common schools. By trade he was a mason, and he had extensive business as a contractor. He was of robust physique, and stood six feet two inches in his stockings, while mentally he was no less forceful, his judgment being unusually sound and his strong will keeping him a "four square to every wind" that blows. Politically he was a Republican, and in religious faith adhered to the Congregational church, in which he was reared under his mother's teachings. His record as a soldier in the Civil War is an honorable one, as he enlisted in 1861 in a Connecticut Volunteers infantry Regiment, and was afterward transferred to the Harris Light Cavalry; he was mustered out as a sergeant in 1865. From the organization of Stanley Post, G.A.R, while at New Britain, he was an active member, and as a citizen his public spirit was ever shown in many ways. He died in November, 1899. Mr. Crowell married Miss Mary Jane Richmond, by whom he had three children: Leroy M., our subject; Jameson B, born in 1859, now a farmer and mechanic in Southington; Bertha I., wife of Bert Loomis, a farmer near Westfield, Massachusetts. The mother of this family was born in 1836, died in November 1888. Her parents, Edmund and Lucinda (Bailey) Richmond, were highly esteemed residents in Glastonbury, where her father was engaged in business as a blacksmith. The following children were born to Edmund and Lucinda Richmond: Edmund, a resident of Lyme, Connecticut; Edwin (a twin of Edmund), who died in East Hartford in November, 1888; Andrew, who also died in November, 1898; Mary Jane, our subject's mother; Francis; and Collins, a veteran of the Civil War, who is in the Soldiers' Home at Noroton, Connecticut.
(X) Leroy M. Cowles was born in Glastonbury June 2, 1855, and was educated in the public schools and the academy of that town, attending summer and winter until he reached the age of 16. His excellent memory enable him to secure a thorough knowledge of branches taught, and since leaving school he has given much attention to history and current events. At 17 he went to Hartford and learned that trade of mason, working under his father for Hiram Hills, on the Buckingham building. He served a three-years' of apprenticeship, getting one dollar per day, and paying his board, and at the end of the first year he found himself $40 in debt, the amount being taken out of his next year's wages. After learning that trade he followed it as a journeyman in Hartford, and about 1881 he removed to New Britain to take a position as foreman for Cornelius E Hills. He had charge of the erection of the electric-light plant and other structures, including the new depot, following his trade until the Fall of 1893, and for a short time was with Mr. Hills at the "Columbia Hotel". On June 1, 1895, he was appointed by sheriff Edwin J. Smith, deputy sheriff for Hartford County, for four years, the duties of the office requiring his attention during that time; in June, 1899, he was re-appointed for a similar term. For five years he has been a member of the police force, and for 12 years has been a member of the fire department, being at present foreman of Engine Co. No. 2. As a Republican he has taken an active part in politics, and at one time he served as constable of the town of New Britain, where he is now chairman of the Fourth Ward town committee of New Britain. For eight years he was drum-major of the New Britain City Band (now the Philharmonic Band), and socially he and his family are identified with a refined circle. For 15 years he has been a member of the order of United American mechanics, and he also belongs to the Order of Red Men, the Knights of the Golden Eagle, and the Knights of Pythias.
On July 41875, Mr. Cowles married Miss Marion Victoria Sears, daughter of Henry Sears and Nancy Sears, well-known residents of Glastonbury, where her father was a foreman in a cotton-mill. The only child of this union, Claude L., was born in 1876 and died in 1884.