The Stamford Historical Society Presents
Portrait of a Family: Stamford through the Legacy of the Davenports
Samuel Fessenden 1847–1908
Samuel Fessenden came to be perhaps the most widely known Davenport in-law throughout the State of Connecticut. Born in Maine, in April 1847, he was the son of Reverend Samuel C. and Abigail Fessenden. He attended the Lewiston Falls Academy in Auburn, Maine. At the onset of the Civil War, Samuel wished to join his fellow youths to fight. His parents initially refused to let him go, but two years later conceded and Samuel enlisted as a private in the Seventh Maine Volunteer Battery at the age of sixteen. Soon he found himself participating in some of the fiercest conflicts: the battles of the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Spotsylvania. His record was brilliant, repeatedly displaying valor during the heat of battle. In December 1864 he received recommendation for promotion and was appointed a first lieutenant of the Second United States Infantry. He was offered the rank of captain but upon receiving a commission as second lieutenant of the First Maine Volunteer Battery, chose to join those from his native state. His conduct earned him great respect from both the enlisted men and his fellow officers.
After the war he returned to his studies, deciding upon the law as a profession. He chose Harvard Law School and graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Laws. In 1867 his parents moved to Stamford, and two years later he joined them. He was admitted to the Bar of Fairfield County in 1869, and soon became very popular within the ranks of the Republican Party.
He married Helen M. Davenport, daughter of Theodore and Harriet Chesebrough Davenport, in June 1873.
Samuel was elected as a State Representative in 1874, 1878 and 1894. He also served as State Senator in 1905 and 1907. In 1880, he became State’s Attorney for Fairfield County, a position he held until his death. In 1877 he formed a partnership with Galen A. Carter, Jr. to start the firm of Fessenden & Carter, which rapidly developed into an extensive practice.
On the national political scene he represented the State of Connecticut at the Republican National Convention in Cincinnati in 1876, proudly casting his ballot for James G. Blaine of Maine. In 1880, he once again was chosen to represent Connecticut, this time at the Republication National Convention in Chicago. Four years later he was elected as secretary of the Republican National Committee, a position which he held for many years until declining health forced his resignation.
He belonged to the Fairfield County Bar Association and was a director of the Stamford National Bank and the Stamford Trust Company. There were also memberships in several fraternal organizations, but the one that gave him the greatest satisfaction was the G. A. R. [Grand Army of the Republic]. As the years passed by and the ranks of his comrades in arms began to diminish, he devoted time to addressing their needs—which they acknowledged with gratitude. He died at his home in Stamford on January 7, 1908.
Obituary sketch, Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys.
On display in the exhibit:
Political campaign material
Man of the Hour : Hon. Samuel Fessenden
For U. S. Senator, Hon Samuel Fessenden
Extracts from Connecticut newspapers giving opinions of this candidate during the senatorial campaign of 1874.
The Stamford Historical Society