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Biography of Colonel Alexander Warner

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Asahel Warner, the grandfather of Colonel Warner, was a native of the state of Rhode Island, and later in life removed to New York, from which point he migrated to Connecticut and engaged in agricultural pursuits. His children were seven sons and one daughter, Mary, who became Mrs. Ross. The sons were: Asahel, Stephen, Thomas, John, Sabin, Benjamin and Daniel. Thomas of this number, also a native of Rhode Island, established himself as a manufacturer in Woodstock, where his death occurred in June, 1877. By his marriage to Amy Collins, of Rhode Island, were born children: Sarah A., wife of John Lake; Harriet S., married to Salem L. Ballard; Alexander; Mary F., wife of Samuel M. Fenner, and Edward T.

Alexander Warner, the eldest son, was born in Smithfield, Providence county, Rhode Island, January 10th, 1827, and at the age of eight years accompanied his parents to Woodstock. where he became a pupil of the Woodstock academy. He then entered the academy at Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and before completing his preparatory collegiate course was summoned to the assistance of his father in his business enterprises. Subsequently becoming a partner, the firm was, at the outbreak of the late war, engaged in the manufacture of cotton twine. When the bombardment of Fort Sumter called the North to arms, Colonel Warner was among the first to offer his services to the state. Enlisting as a private he was appointed by Governor Buckingham major of the Third Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, and participated with his command in the first battle of Bull Run. He was afterward made lieutenant-colonel of the Thirteenth Connecticut ‘Volunteers, joined the Department of the Gulf, and shared in most of the important engagements. Ill health compelled his temporary retirement from active service, when, reporting for duty, he was ordered by General Emery, commanding the Department of New Orleans, to raise and organize the Fifth Louisiana Regiment for the defense of New Orleans, which he commanded during that important crisis and until continued ill health compelled his retirement from the service. He was subsequently appointed by Secretary Chase special agent of the Treasury Department at New Orleans, and held the office until his return to the North, on which occasion he tendered his resignation.

In the autumn of 1865, Colonel Warner purchased in Madison county, Mississippi, a plantation embracing several thousand acres. Many other northern capitalists, attracted by the superior productiveness, had also located in the same neighborhood, and the energy, courage, sagacity and apparently exhaustless resources of the subject of this biography, caused him to be recognized from the beginning as a leader of the northern element. He employed at regular wages a large number of freedmen, which exasperated the natives, who were unwilling to realize the fact that slavery was ended. His innovations were denounced as certain to disorganize the labor of the country, and still deeper resentment was aroused as agent for the Freedmen’s Bureau, when he compelled on the part of the native planters, the fulfillment of the contracts made with the blacks. During this transitional period his life was often threatened, and always in danger, but he never faltered in the line of duty, nor hesitated to extend to the oppressed the full protection of the law. Colonel Warner was appointed secretary of state by the military commander, was trustee and treasurer of the State University, six years a member of the state senate, and part of that time its president and ex-officio lieutenant-governor, four years chairman of the republican state committee, and three times a delegate to the national republican convention. As chairman of the Mississippi delegation at the convention which first nominated General Grant, he cast the vote of the state, with the sentiment, ” Mississippi, the home of Jefferson Davis, casts her unanimous vote for U. S. Grant,” amidst tremendous applause.

In 1877 Colonel Warner, on returning to the north, purchased “Woodlawn,” in the town of Pomfret, embracing a ,highly cultivated and productive farm from which the blooded stock was a well known feature of the various fairs throughout New England. He, later, removed to “Sunny side,” the former home of Mrs. Warner’s family in the same town, where he now resides. The Colonel was in 1876 commissioner from Mississippi to the centennial exposition in Philadelphia and again from Connecticut to the exposition of 1887. He was in 188S commissioner to the Ohio centennial, and in 1859 to that held in New York. He was elected and served as state treasurer for the years 1887 and 1888, was a member of the state board of agriculture and has been appointed by the several governors to various national agricultural conventions. He was president of the Windham County Agricultural Society, and has held various local offices. He has extensive interests in the West and is president of the Baxter Bank, of Baxter Springs, Kansas. As a Mason he is connected with Putnam Lodge, “No. 46, and Montgomery Chapter. He is a member of Loyal Legion Commandery of Massachusetts.

Colonel Warner was married on the 27th of September, 1855, to Mary Trumbull Mathewson, daughter of Rufus Smith Mathewson and Faith Williams McClellan, of Woodstock. Mrs. Warner is the great-granddaughter of William Williams, one of the signers of the declaration of independence. Mr. Williams married Mary Trumbull, daughter of Jonathan Trumbull, the first colonial governor of Connecticut, the friend of Washington, and prominent during the revolutionary period. Colonel and Mrs. Warner have had two children-Benjamin Silliman, who was born September 24th, 1856, and Arthur McClellan, whose birth occurred April 13th, 1860, and his death September 4th of the same year. Benjamin Silliman, who is a resident of Baxter Springs, Kansas, in 1886 married Sarah L., daughter of Edward Trowbridge, of Brooklyn, New York, and has one son, Arthur Trumbull.

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