Monday, March 17, 2014

Acors Wells Lawton (1797-1881)

From the  J.W. Lewis & Co. "History of Litchfield County, Connecticut", 1881.

   We continue our stay in New England for the following write-up on Acors Wells Lawton, a resident of Goshen, Connecticut who was long active in religious and public affairs in that town. A deacon in the local Baptist church for over fifty years, Lawton had fleeting involvement in state politics when he was elected as Goshen's representative to the Connecticut State Legislature in 1853. While very little exists online in regards to Lawton's life, his biography in the History of Litchfield County, Connecticut (published in the year of his death) proves that in his day A.W. Lawton was viewed as one of Goshen's "pillars", and that he "served his town in credit and confidence in all places of trust." This same book also yielded the rare portrait of him shown above.
   This native son of Rhode Island was one of several children born to Joseph and Anna Rathbun Lawton, his birth occurring in Hopkinton on May 1, 1797. Little is known of Lawton's early life or education, although the History of Litchfield County records him as removing to Connecticut prior to 1821. In that year he married to Mary C. Cheesbrough, daughter of an old established family in the town of Stonington. Mary died in childbirth in June 1823, after giving birth to twin sons, Zebulon Cheesbrough (1823-1902) and Joseph F. Two years following her death Lawton remarried to Elizabeth Clark (died 1862), with whom he had a further five children, Benjamin Lawton (born 1826), Wells A. (born 1830), Franklin (birth-date unknown), Giles M. (birth date unknown) and Nelson Henry (1842-1911).
   Following his removal to Goshen, Connecticut in 1827 Lawton purchased the farm on which his family would reside for decades afterward. Around this same time, he began service as a deacon at the Cornwall Hollow Baptist Church and is mentioned as one who "led in the organization of the church" and also held the office of treasurer of the Widow's Fund for the Litchfield County Baptist Association. Active in local politics in addition to church work, Lawton served as a justice of the peace for Goshen during the 1840s and in 1853 began a term in the Connecticut State House of Representatives as one of two legislators from Goshen. His one term saw him serve on the committee on the state reform school, and at the conclusion of his service returned to farming in Goshen.
   Acors Wells Lawton died at age 83 on February 16, 1881, in Goshen and was later interred at the Cornwall Hollow Cemetery in Litchfield County. He was memorialized by the History of Litchfield County as a popular Goshen citizen, noting that he had:
"Finished the work which God gave him to do." He had a longer time in which to do it than most men--eighty-three years and nine months,--and he did it with a more spontaneous, free and loving spirit that is common to man; so his friends loved Deacon Lawton, for the life of Christ was beautiful in him."

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