Friday, April 13, 2012

Silenus Hulbert Fellows (1827-1905)

From the Plainfield Bicentennial, 1899.

   This obscure gentleman is Silenus Hulbert Fellows, a clergyman from Windham County, Connecticut who served one term in his state's House of Representatives. Information on Fellows's life has proven to be rather scant, but enough has been found to help me write a small biography for him.
  A New Yorker by birth, Silenus H. Fellows was born on August 11, 1827 in the town of Durham, being the son of the Rev. Linus Hulbert (1790-1881) and Lydia Eldred Fellows. Silenus was received into full communion in his father's hurch in 1845 at age 18 and eight years later married Sylvia Newell, also a resident of Durham. The couple later had two daughters, Ida L. and Carrie Louise Fellows, who was born in June 1858 in Durham. In the year following Carrie's birth the Fellows family resettled in Windham County, Connecticut. 
   Within months of his relocation Fellows was ordained as a preacher in April 1859 and in December of that year became pastor of the Congregational Church in the town of Wauregan. Fellows continued to hold this pastorate until his death nearly fifty years later! 
  The name of Silenus Fellows grew to be a prominent one in both civic and religious circles in the Wauregan area. For over forty  years he was a member of the Wauregan town school board and later served as the Secretary of the Windham County Conference for two decades. Political service also beckoned to Fellows and in 1878 he (along with fellow Windham County resident Reuben Weaver) were elected to the Connecticut State House of Representatives, serving in the session of 1879-80.
  After the conclusion of his legislative service Fellows continued in his pastorate and later served as the director of the Missionary Society of Connecticut for fifteen years. He died at the home of his grandson in McKeesport, Pennsylvania on April 20, 1905 at age 78 and was subsequently buried in the Westfield Cemetery in Windham County, Connecticut. The Advance, a prominent religious newsletter in the early 1900s, remembered Fellows as "the Apostle John of Eastern Connecticut" and lamented that "a father in Israel has fallen asleep.The portrait of Fellows shown above (and very likely the only one to be found online) was discovered in the Plainfield Bicentennial, a souvenir history of the town Plainfield, Connecticut published in 1899. 
   I also must mention the origins of Fellow's odd first name, Silenus. It is presumed that he was named in honor of the Greek mythological figure Silenus, a friend and tutor of Dionysius, the god of wine. Strangely (especially when one considers Fellows being a man of the cloth) many sources mention Silenus as "a notorious consumer of wine, he was usually drunk and often had to be supported by satyrs or carried by a donkey." Silenus is also reported to have "special knowledge and power of prophecy" when highly intoxicated. One can only wonder why exactly Linus Fellows chose to name his son in honor of this interesting mythological figure!

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