Harwinton People

Abijah Catlin I, II, III, IV

The crossroads of Burlington, Harmony Hill, and Locust Roads are known as Catlin’s Corners after the family who developed the area and lived there for five generations. Land was granted to Abijah Catlin I, whose son Abijah Catlin II constructed a house at 1 Harmony Hill Road in 1760. Abijah II ran a tavern and owned an adjacent store. Catlin served refreshments to Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, and General Knox. He built a house for his son, Abijah Catlin III across the street. Like his father, Abijah Catlin III was a farmer and merchant. He also manufactured hats, which he sold in the Catlin store.

Portrait of Abijah Catlin
Son Abijah Catlin IV (1805-1891) was a lawyer, state legislator, comptroller, and probate judge.

Collis P. Huntington (1821 - 1900)

As a boy, Collis Potter Huntington grew up in the Poverty Hollow section of Harwinton, the sixth of nine children. The family was poor, and times were hard. At a young age, Collis learned to make money as a peddler and salesman.  He went on to become one of the “Big Four” of western railroading and was one of the wealthiest, most successful men in the country.  Despite his success, Huntington never forgot his Connecticut roots, especially the love and care he received from his mother.

Portrait of Collis P Huntington
Collis P. Huntington

John Henry Roraback (1870 - 1937)

John Henry Roraback was a lawyer who was elected to the Republican State Central Committee and the National Republican Committee. He became a member of the National GOP Executive Committee and the Calvin Coolidge re-election team. His business credentials include being the founder and president of the Connecticut Light and Power Company, a company that he led for 25 years. 

J. Henry incorporated the Skinner house/farm into a massive private hunting/fishing preserve which eventually extended to over 2,000 acres of woodlands and meadows, miles of trout streams, and abandoned old town highways – ~10% of Harwinton’s total acreage. In 1982 1,976 acres was willed by his son Lewis to the state (Roraback Wildlife Management Area) to be maintained as open space for recreational activities.

Portrait of John Henry Roraback
John Henry Roraback

Lois Lenski (1893 - 1974)

Lois Lenski, born in 1893 in Springfield, Ohio, was a renowned author and illustrator of children’s and young adult literature.  She became an art student in New York where she met painter and muralist Arthur Covey.  They married in 1921 and lived at 76 Harmony Hill Road in Harwinton from 1929 to the 1950s.  Arthur is known in Harwinton for painting the mural inside Harwinton Consolidated School.  In 1967, Lois established the Lois Lenski Covey Foundation.  Her goal was to give back to children. By the time of her death in 1974, she had written and illustrated more than 100 books for children of various ages.

Picture of Lois Lenski
Lois Lenski

T. A. Hungerford (1838 - 1903)

Born and educated in Harwinton, Theodore Alfred Hungerford moved to Chicago in 1860 and established a publishing company.  The company was destroyed in the Chicago Fire.  Hungerford moved to Manhattan, New York, worked at and eventually purchased the “Hotel Gazette” a where-to-stay vacation magazine. 

When Hungerford began to think about establishing a mausoleum, his nephew Newman Hungerford encouraged him to bequeath a library for Harwinton in his memory.  T. A. created a provision in his will for Newman to buy property, build a library and supply it with books. 

Hungerford died in 1903 and his remains were interred in a granite vault inside the foundation of the library which opened in 1912. After the Harwinton Public Library was built, the T. A. Hungerford Memorial Museum was established.

T. A. Hungerford portrait
T A Hungerford