Sunday, April 21, 2013

Gibbs Woodward Skiff (1810-1894)

Portrait from the History of Litchfield County, Connecticut, 1881.

  After a bit of a break from writing and posting oddly named political figures here on the site, we return after a month-long hiatus to highlight an oddly named state representative from Connecticut, Mr. Gibbs Woodward Skiff. This obscure man was a lifelong resident of the Nutmeg State and was a prominent 19th century resident of the town of Sharon, representing it in the Connecticut State Legislature in the early 1850s.
   Born on July 13, 1810 in the town of Sharon, Gibbs W. Skiff was one of three sons born to Samuel Skiff Jr. (1781-1862) and his wife Jerusha Woodward (died 1844). Gibbs Skiff is recorded by the 1881 History of Litchfield County as having "passed his early life in the customary employments of a farmer's boy" and received his education in schools native to the Sharon area. During his teenage years Skiff began teaching school in Sharon during the winter months while engaging in farm work during the summer.
  On January 1, 1834 Skiff married fellow Sharon resident Abigail E. St. John (1811-1884), with whom he would have one daughter, Lucy, born in 1854. A pious man, Skiff was for many years a parishioner at the Congregation Church in Ellsworth, Connecticut and served as a deacon for the church for thirty-six years (1859-1895). In addition to his being a deacon, Skiff is remarked as being the clerk of the local Ecclesiastical Society for nearly sixty years! The History of Litchfield County also denotes that Skiff was "justly entitled to take rank as one of Sharon's leading and successful agriculturalists", owning over 300 acres of farmland with his son-in-law Giles Skiff.  
  While the life of Gibbs W. Skiff was centered mainly as a private citizen in Sharon, he did maintain an active involvement in local political matters, serving at various times as a town selectman and assessor. In 1851 he was elected to one term in the Connecticut State House of Representatives from Litchfield County. 
  Throughout the latter period of his life, Skiff continued to be an active citizen in Sharon, serving as town assessor whilst also engaged in his earlier mentioned church activities. He died at age 84 on November 15, 1894 and was subsequently interred alongside his wife in the Ellsworth Burying Ground in Sharon. He was memorialized by local pastor Giles Frederick Goodenough (1871-1960) as "a man excessive in his modesty and of retiring disposition, he was strong in his tender conscience, his sound judgement and unfailing kindness of heart."

                                       From the Journal of the Connecticut Legislature 1851.

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