Notable Phelps Family Members
Anson Green Phelps, Merchant and Philanthropist
|Two portraits of Anson Phelps.|
Anson Green Phelps, [P&S #819] b. Simsbury, Ct., 24 March, 1781, m. 26 Oct., 1806, Olivia Egleston, daughter of Elihu and Elizabeth (Olcott) Egleston. She was b. Middletown, 30 March, 1784, d. New York City, 24 April, 1859. Elihu Egleston was son of Ebenezer, of Ebenezer, of Samuel, a twin of Begat Egleston, from Exeter, England, to Dorchester, Mass., in 1630, an original member of Rev. Mr. Warham's Church. "He probably came over in the ship Mary and John." He m. Sarah Talcott, daughter of John Talcott.
From The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors, (Save $201 by ordering through us.) Two volumes. By Judge Oliver Seymour Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. (Eagle Publishing Company of Pittsfield, Mass., 1899) p. 1409-1412.
He was descended from the early Colonial Governors Thomas Dudley, John Haynes and George Wyllys and from Woodbridge, Lamb, Wolcott, Drake, and Griswold families.
Anson G. Phelps's, mother died when he was 12 years old, and it is said that he was brought up in the house of the minister of Simsbury. 13 Oct., 1799, Anson Greene Phelps made choice of Thomas Woodbridge Phelps as his guardian. On May 5, 1799, the two brothers Thomas Woodbridge and Anson Greene Phelps were admitted to the Church in South Canton, the Rev. Jeremiah Hallock being pastor.
A few years after the three brothers, William, Thomas and Anson, and their cousin Job Phelps, left Simsbury, the first three settling West, while Anson G. Phelps settled in Hartford.
After settling in Hartford his first successful mercantile operation was in manufacturing a large number of saddles and shipping them South. At this time horse-back riding was the general mode of travel there. This, his first enterprise, was a very successful and profitable one. He continued to be a successful manufacturer and merchant in Hartford and erected a large brick building on North Main street, known as. "Phelps Block."
In 1812 Mr. Phelps removed to New York City and was associated in business with Elisha Peck under the firm name of Phelps, Peck & Co. They dealt in metals, iron, brass, etc.
Sheldon Smith induced him to invest in the industrialization of the area of Derby that came to be called Birmingham. Settled in 1651 as part of Derby, Ansonia was founded (1844). Thwarted in his efforts to expand his business farther north, he instead settled on the east bank of the Naugatuck River in what is now downtown Ansonia. That area might have become "Phelpsville", except that there was apparently another town by that name, so the new industrial village came to be called Ansonia.
Ansonia, (1990 pop. 18,403), of New Haven Co., Connecticut, on the Naugatuck River. Today it is a center for manufacture of plastics, latex foam, electronics, automatic screw machine products, and novelties.
Mr. Peck's father removed from Berlin, Ct., to Lenox, Mass., late in the last century. The descendants of this family are now one of the first families of Pittsfield.
They were successful and prosperous in their operations and accumulated a large fortune. This firm was dissolved about 1828, and Mr. Phelps organized the now well-known house of Phelps, Dodge & Company, composed of Anson G. Phelps, his son-in-law William Earl Dodge, and others of his relations,
Mr. Phelps's mercantile life was one of great prosperity, while he and his partner Mr. Dodge were acknowledged in the great mercantile community of New York as the type of Christian merchants.
Both were members of Dr. Spring's church, and the firm of "Phelps, Dodge & Co.," soon became everywhere identified with the interests of the Presbyterian church. Mr. Phelps's high standard of mercantile morality, his deep personal piety and decided interest in all good words and works, rendered him a tower of strength in the cause of Christ, and these qualities of head and heart, found their natural and joyous expression, in deeds of systematic benevolence, and in the promotion of philanthropic enterprises.
The "American Bible Society," the " American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions," the "American Home Missionary Society," the "Colonization Society," the "Blind Asylum " of New York City, all received his support, and of all of which he at one time was president. Many other societies and charitable institutions were largely aided by him during his life, and many of them generously remembered in his will. Among others his native town of Simsbury received $1000 for the poor. He may well be called the princely and philanthropic merchant of New York City, while the following memorial verses of Mrs. Sigourney thus fitly characterize the secret of Mr. Phelps's life
"The cares of commerce and the rush of wealth Swept not away his meekness, nor the time To cultivate all household charities; Nor the answering, conscientious zeal To consecrate a portion of his gains To man's relief and the Redeemer's cause."
The following clause of Mr. Phelps's will is characteristic of, and peculiarly illustrates the whole of his life.
"I give and bequeath to each of my grand-children, living at my decease, the sum of $5,000, to be paid them as they severally attain the age of 21 years. This latter bequest I direct to be accompanied by my executors with this injunction:-That each of my said grand-children shall consider the said bequest as a sacred deposit, committed to their trust, to be invested by each grand-child, and the income derived therefrom to be devoted to spread the gospel, and to promote the Redeemer's kingdom on earth, hoping and trusting that the God of Heaven will give to each of that wisdom which is from above, and incline them to be faithful stewards, and transmit the same to their descendants, to be sacredly devoted to the same object.
I know this bequest is absolute and places the amount so given beyond my control; but my earnest hope is that my wish may be regarded as I leave it, an obligation binding simply on their integrity and honor.''
Mr. Phelps died at his residence, formerly the Coster place on the East River, 30th Nov., 1853, in his 73rd year, and was buried in his family lot in Greenwood Cemetery.
A sermon by the Rev. George L. Prentice was given at the Mercer Street Church, 11th Dec., 1853, on account of the death of Mr. Anson G. Phelps.
Children of Anson Phelps and Olivia Egleston
[P&S 1466] I. Elizabeth W., b. Hartford, Ct., 22 Aug., 1807, m. Daniel James.
[P&S 1467] II. Melissa, b. Hartford, Ct., 3 March, 1809, m. Win. E. Dodge.
[P&S 1468] III. Caroline Olivia, b. Hartford, Ct., 5 Jan., 1811, d. young.
[P&S 1469] IV. Caroline, b. Hartford, Ct., 3o Nov., 1812, m. James Boulter Stokes.
[P&S 1470] V. Harriett N., b. New York City, 24 Sept., 1815, in. Charles F. Pond.
[P&S 1471] VI. Anson Greene, b. New York City, 13 Oct., 1818, in. Jane Gibson.
[P&S 1472] VII. Olivia Egleston, b. New York City, 5 Jan., 1821, in. Benjamin B. Atterbury.
[P&S 1473] VIII. Lydia Ann, b. New York City, 5 March, 1823, d. young.