Thursday, August 23, 2007

High Finance Connections

This post links to an article about Charles Dow, a Sterling, CT, native and founder of the publishing empire, Dow Jones. Thanks to Heidi Colwell for sending the article. It is a timely memoir in these days of stock market unrest; and it highlights a few historic connections between Foster, eastern Connecticut and high finance.

So many early settlers came to Foster (then Scituate) from Sterling and Killingly, CT. Just a week ago FPS had a request for information from a lady in New York about her ancestor, Frink Uriah Dorrance, who was the son of Alexander Dorrance and Elizabeth Frink. In the article about Charles Dow, author Bill Stanley, a Sterling native, mentions the “legendary Herman Frink” who owned the gorgeous farmland at the top of Ekonk Hill on Route 49 in Sterling. (That site was proposed, by Bill Stanley, for an international airport during the 1980s, and was one of the threats that Foster faced a few decades ago.)

The Dorrance connection is to the Dorrance House, c.1720, on Jenks Road in Foster (National Register, 1971) The Dorrance brothers emigrated from Ireland to eastern CT before 1719, but due to the dispute over the RI/CT border, ended up on the Quandoc Brook (which separates RI from CT) in Foster, where they built saw and grist mills, establishing southwestern Foster along with the Tyler families, also natives of CT.

In a different Foster location, another giant in the world of finance, US Senator Nelson W. Aldrich (from 1881 to 1911), was born in the Gideon Burgess Homestead on Burgess Rd. The Aldriches moved to East Killingly, CT where Nelson grew up. “He became such a leading figure in the Senate and in the national government that he was often referred to as the ‘general manager of the United States’. Congress moved to revise the monetary system by creating the National Monetary Commission, led by U.S. Senator Nelson W Aldrich of Rhode Island as chairman, 1908-1912. Senator Aldrich was chief sponsor of The National Monetary Commission--the National Reserve Association which eventually became the Federal Reserve System.
(From The History of the Rhode Island General Assembly)

There seems a bit of irony in the fact that CT’s economically depressed quiet corner and our small Town, which cannot wield the influence today to rate a single traffic light, cable television or complete access to high speed internet connections, spawned two of the most influential men in the history of the world’s high finance. I have to wonder if they knew each other. Read this biography of Charles Dow and compare with that of Nelson Aldrich. Hard to believe they didn't know each other. Write to us if you find the connection before we do.

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