Willimantic's First City Council
by Pete Zizka


Once the people of Willimantic voted in the City Charter in October, 1893, thoughts turned to the election of those who would govern the city. The men in this week’s photo were elected as the new City of Willimantic's first leaders on December 4, 1893. They are : 1. Mayor George M. Harrington (R), 2. Alderman Charles A. Capen (R-Second Ward), 3. Alderman Herbert R. Chappell (R – First Ward), 4. Alderman Michael Nelligan (D-Third Ward), 5. Alderman Walter D. Brigham (R- Fourth Ward), 6. James W. Hillhouse (R-Councilman at Large), 7. Councilman Walter Bennett (D), 8. Councilman James R. Ross (R), 9. Councilman Lorenzo Litchfield (R), 10. Councilman Fred Sanderson (D), 11. Councilman Edmond A. Parent (D), 12. Councilman Leander Freeman (R), 13. Councilman Anderson T. Walker (R), 14. Councilman Timothy J. Reagan (D), 15. City Clerk and Treasurer Herbert A. Sanderson (R).  Also elected were Edgar H. Richmond (R) , Sheriff; Amos Hathaway (R), Assessor and Charles Fenton (R), Assessor. Prior to the election, the general expectation was that  the Democrats would capture most of the offices and so the Republican "rout" at the polls came as a complete surprise. Democrat Edwin Buck was expected to be elected mayor. Newspaper articles tried to analyze the election and came up with the fact that although Buck was indeed the "strongest candidate", the rest of the Democratic ticket was weak and , "the Republicans put up their strongest candidates". Just two weeks before the election, two injunctions were filed,  one to stop the election and another to keep the ones who were elected from taking office. Both injunctions were quickly adjudicated and denied. Ironically, the main proponent of one injunction was Charles Capen who, as you can see, still ran and won. The newly elected  Mayor was George M. Harrington,a local businessman who had been a Warden when Willimantic was a borough and who had been elected to the State Legislature. A newspaper article noted,” (A)s mayor, Mr. Harrington will act in all respects for the good of the new city as his judgment dictates. He has made no pledges and will be controlled only by his best judgment on having a safe and business city government. In whom the municipal affairs may be entrusted with confidence that things will go right”. Two days after the election, it was reported that Mayor Harrington’s congratulations from the Democrats were, “as hearty as those from the Republicans”. It should be noted that one of the first matters that the new council considered was the creation of a town seal. The ad hoc committee felt that, “the leading industry in the city should be prominently represented”. Charles Robbins, a draftsman for the Linen Company designed the seal which showed, “ a representation of No. 60 spool cotton with the loose end unwound to form the letters and numbers “Incorporated 1893”. For questions or comments about this  week’s photo or article, please e-mail us at “threadcity@outlook.com”.



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