Henry William Spafford


Henry William Spafford


Sketch of the Career of a Well Railroad Man.—Began Railroading as Station Agent at Danby.

Henry William Spafford of Rutland, Vt., son of William H. and Eliza (Rumrill) Spafford, was born in Weathersfield, Vt., November 2, 1840. He received his education in district schools, of his native town, Cavendish, Chester and at Springfield Seminary and Chester Academy. On leaving home May 10, 1857, he entered the railroad service as station agent at Danby, where he remained until April 1, 1861, when he wags appointed station agent at North Bennington and removed to that place.

Upon the breaking out of the Civil War he enlisted, September 4, 1861, as a private in Company A, Fourth Vermont Infantry, and left the state for the front September 21. On reaching Washington the regiment was assigned to the second brigade, second division, sixth army corps and attached to the Army of the Potomac then being formed. The brigade as then organized consisted of the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth Vermont regiments. It was, however, better known in, as well as out of, the state as “The Old Vermont Brigade.” The regiment remained in this organization during its entire term of service. The brigade was separated from the sixth corps only once, being absent from the field about six weeks, when it was sent to New York City in August, 1863, with two brigades of regulars, to suppress the riots incident to the enforcement of the draft of that year. After completing its work there and on returning to the field to assume its old position in the corps, it was given a welcome which amounted to an ovation by its comrades in arms that was entirely unique and will long be remembered by those who witnessed it. It participated in and rejoiced over all the successes, triumphs and victories and shared in all the misfortunes, reverses and disasters which befell the grand old Army of the Potomac during its splendid service throughout the war.

Mr. Spafford was promoted to commissary sergeant of the regiment May 28, 1862; was captured at Brandy Station, Va., October 11, 1863, and confined in rebel prisons In Richmond, Va., until May 21, 1864. He was mustered out of service at Brattleboro September 30, 1864, on the expiration of his three years’ period of enlistment. On October 25th he re-enlisted and returned to his old regiment. He was promoted to first lieutenant and quartermaster of the regiment November 6, 1864; was on the staff of Gen. Lewis A. Grant and Gen. Gerge P. Foster, commanders of the Old Brigade; was acting quartermaster of the brigade during the latter part of its service and at the time it was disbanded and left t the field for home. He returned to the state with his regiment and was again mustered out, at Burlington, July 13, 1865.

Soon after the close of the war Mr. Spafford accepted employment as book-keeper in the hide and leather house of Lapham & Clarendon of New York City, but impaired eyesight, caused by hardships and exposures during his long service in the army, compelled him to surrender his position and abandon book-keeping.

He went to Redfield, N. Y., to manage a large tannery plant for that firm, but as the business did not prove congenial to his taste he gave it up and once more returned to Vermont, where on January 16, 1867,11 he again entered the service of the Bennington & Rutland Railway Company as station agent at North Bennington, the position which he vacated when enlisting in 1861. On October 8, 1877, he was promoted to the position of general freight agent and on February 23, 1880, to be general passenger agent of the road.

On April 24, 1884, these two offices were moved from North Bennington to Rutland, since which time Mr. Spafford has been a resident of that city. He held the position of general freight and passenger agent until the road was purchased by and absorbed into the Rutland Railroad system on May 10, 1900. He was appointed local freight agent of the Rutland Railroad at Rutland September 1, 1900, and served in that capacity until October 8, 1902, when his connection with railroad interests were severed, after forty-five years of practically continuous service, broken only by his absence at the time of the Civil War.

Mr. Spafford was married, October 5, 1864, to Mattie E., daughter of ‘William and Fanny (Spring) Kingsbury of Chester, Vt. Mrs. Spafford died June 3, 1877, leaving four children, Eva M., now Mrs. George M. Rowell of Burlington, Alton W., Mattie E. and Henrietta W., now Mrs. John B. Stearns of Rutland. Mr. Spafford was married again on December 5, 1878, to Lydia Ella Marsh, daughter of Jared and Ahnira (Eaton) Marsh of Chester, Vt., from which marriage they have five children, Mrs. Ella Marsh (Spat-ford ) Prink of Seattle, Wash., Henry W., J r., J. Marsh, L. Harold and Samuel E. Spafford of Rutland.

Mr. Spafford inherited a rugged constitution and is blessed with good health, especially good when taking into consideration the strain and tension that he has carried in all his active and untiring business life. He is an active member of the Congregational Church and of the Grand Army of the Republic, also to member of the Young Men’s Christian Association and always an earnest and zealous worker for its interest. He has always been an abolitionist, a prohibitionist and an uncompromising republican.

He is a trustee of the Vermont Soldiers’ Home, and on his duties as one of the auditors, spends a small part of his time at the “Home” in Bennington. Aside from this he is taking the much needed rest which his long, arduous and faithful public service has so justly entitled him to enjoy.