Friday, October 2, 2015

Appleton Howe Torrey (1847-1944), Appleton Park Williams (1867-1937), Appleton Bloomfield Clark (1825-1897)

Portrait from "A Souvenir of Massachusetts Legislators" 1901 edition.

   Today's triple profile focuses on the political doings of three men with the unusual first name "Appleton". The first of these men, Appleton Howe Torrey, was a lifelong resident of the town of Groton, Massachusetts, and over a life that extended nearly a full century he grew to become one of that town's favorite sons, serving at various times as town clerk, assessor, overseer, selectman and state representative.
  Born in Groton on December 23, 1847, Appleton Howe Torrey was the son of Willard and Catherine Blood Torrey. He attended school in Groton and later studied at the Lawrence Academy, also located in Groton. In 1870 he entered into the position of clerk in a Boston based "wholesale boot and shoe house" and remained there until 1879. In 1873 he married to Josephine Emma Nutting (born 1848), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple would later have two sons born to them, Frank Appleton (1874-1965) and Fred Howe (1877-1965).
   Appleton Torrey returned to Groton in 1879 and over the next few decades operated in that town as a "retailer in boots and shoes." He would serve Groton in a number of political capacities, including as town selectman and overseer of the poor from 1886-87 and as town clerk for over thirty years (beginning in 1893). From 1893-95 he was deputy sheriff and in November 1900 was elected as Groton's representative to the Massachusetts General Court, defeating Democratic candidate H.F. Tarbell by a vote of  824 to 469.
   During the 1901-02 session of the legislature, Torrey served as clerk of the committee on towns and as a member of the committee on Labor. After leaving the state house Torrey continued service as Groton town clerk and for over twenty years was clerk of the Groton Water Company, serving in that capacity until his death on April 26, 1944 at the age of 96. Memorialized as having had a "great love of nature" and as a "gentle, quiet gentleman", Torrey was survived by his two sons and was interred at the Groton Cemetery

Portrait from "A Souvenir of Massachusetts Legislators" 1898 edition.

    Another Massachusetts state legislator with this rather "fruity" sounding name was Appleton Park Williams, a resident of West Upton in Worcester County. Williams narrowly missed serving in the legislature alongside the man who preceded him in this article (their terms being just a year or two apart.) Although a resident of Massachusetts for most of his life, Appleton Williams was a Rhode Islander by birth, being born in Providence on January 28, 1867. 
  The son of Zephaniah and Minerva Victoria Park Williams, Appleton Williams attended school in the city of his birth and would graduate from Brown University in the class of 1889. Prior to his removal to Massachusetts Williams was affiliated with the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company of Providence and in 1892 relocated to West Upton in Worcester County. He married his first wife Emelyn Palmer Butts in September 1893 but their marriage proved to be short, as she died on June 22, 1895, aged just 29. It is unknown at this time if any children were born to them.
   Once settled in West Upton, Appleton Williams took work with the Upton Manufacturing Company, and was still in their employ at the time of his election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Elected to that body in 1897, Williams garnered 1,374 votes on election day and during his term (1898-99) served on the house committee on education. In addition to serving the legislature, Williams took part in local political affairs of West Upton, serving as chairman of the school committee and as town selectman in 1901.
   Following his time at the Massachusetts capitol, Williams busied himself in various civic organizations, including service as the President of the Massachusetts Sunday School Association from 1904-05. He remarried in 1907 to Adelaide Augusta Sisson (1869-1932), with whom he had one daughter, Adelaide Victoria (born 1908.) Widowed for the second time in 1932, Appleton Williams survived his Adelaide by five years, dying on February 24, 1937. Both he and his wife were buried at the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.

    Arguably the most obscure of the three men profiled here, Licking County, Ohio native Appleton Bloomfield Clark's placement here on the site rests on his 1880 candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio. Born in Licking County on July 11, 1825, Appleton B. Clark was the son of Anson and Elizabeth Harrison Clark. Little is known of Clark's life and no portrait of him could be found to post here. For a time he served as the editor of the  Newark American, the leading "Republican journal of Licking Countyand in 1869 served Newark, Ohio as its postmaster
  In 1880 Clark received the Republican nomination for Congressman from Ohio's 13th district. On election day he lost out to Democratic nominee Gibson Atherton, who defeated him by a vote of 19,038 to 16,565. Two years after this loss Clark was again a candidate for Congress, this time from Ohio's 16th district. He was dealt another loss on election day, as Beriah Wilkins (the Democratic candidate) polled 19,743 votes to his own 14,422.
  Little else could be located on Clark following his two unsuccessful candidacies for Congress. He died on February 24, 1897 and was later buried at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Granville, Ohio.


  1. Appleton Bloomfield Clark was the son of Anson Clark and Elizabeth Harrington of Granville, MA. Appleton was born 11 Jul 1825 in Granville Township, OH and in 1846, he married Mary Elizabeth Durant, daughter of Jotham Durant and Lucy Chilson. Following Mary's death in 1893, he married a Mrs. Ramsey. Mary and Appleton had one daughter, Floretta Mary Clark who married William Melville Graves.

    1. Thank you for the information! You wouldn't happen to know of a portrait of Mr. Clark would you? Try as I might I was unable to find one of him to include his bio above!