Tag Archives: CT

Reverend Calvin Philleo: Suffield Resident, Family Man, and Born Abolitionist

After being informed that there was a dark chapter to the life of Calvin Wheeler Philleo that we had missed, we pressed on with our research and found three possible books of interest that could illuminate the lives of Prudence Crandall and her husband Calvin.

(1) The Fillow, Philo and Philleo genealogy. A record of the descendants of John Fillow, a Huguenot refugee from France

The excerpt below contains information about Rev. Calvin Philleo the Husband of Prudence Crandall. It gives us insight into his family, origins, and a brief snapshot of his life.


The excerpt below contains the vital information concerning Rev. Calvin Philleo’s only son, Calvin Wheeler Philleo. Calvin Wheeler is of Rev. Calvin’s first marriage to Elizabeth Wheeler, and not the child of Prudence Crandall. From the third book, we examine (below) the marriage between Rev. Calvin and Prudence Crandall resulted from Calvin’s wish for a mother to his three children from the previous marriage (many of Prudence Crandall’s friends and William Lloyd Garrison disapproved of the union between the Reverend and Prudence)**See Prudence Crandall’s Legacy

Link to book by Van Hoosear, D. H. (David Hermon), b. 1844


A record of the marriage between Calvin Wheeler and Elizabeth. P. Norton which we extracted from the Town of Suffield’s public archives.

Suffield, November Seventh, Eighteen Hundred and Forty Nine.  Calvin W. Philleo and Elizabeth P Norton…officially joined in Marriage by me.  [name]…Minister of the Gospel


We are beginning to construct a family tree of the descendants of Rev. Calvin Philleo based upon the records we have at our disposal.

(2) Calvin’s Own Writing

While diving deeper into the life’s work of Rev. Calvin Philleo we discovered that his son, Calvin Wheeler, also was an excellent public speaker and an author. “He commenced a serial entitled ‘Akin by Marriage’ and “Twice Married: A story of Connecticut Life” (Hoosear, 114). Hopefully, within these writings, we can find more details about the life of his father, and his father’s second wife, Prudence. Pictured below is the cover as the book is published!

ISBN 13: 9781363631391

As of today [2/23/19], we have not yet managed to secure our own copy of this book for our research but we will update this segment with a synopsis and takeaways when we do.


(3) Prudence Crandall’s Legacy

ISBN-13: 978-0819576460

Prudence Crandall’s Legacy, written by Donald E. Williams, is a work that we, in our American Studies class, have become well versed in. It documents the life of Prudence Crandall, her struggles and successes, but it also provides a unique perspective on the relationship and influence between Crandall and her husband Calvin.

Takeaways:

The following are takeaways and important quotes taken from our in-class collaboration regarding the book Prudence Crandall’s Legacy:

  • “She was in name Prudence Philleo, but in every other respect she lived as Prudence Crandall, making her own decisions and earning her own keep” (Williams, 237)
  • “Education offered the potential for opportunity, self-sufficiency, even freedom, especially for women, blacks, and the poor. Crandall discovered, however, that educating the oppressed involved risk and clashed with deep-rooted traditions in American society.” (Williams, 1)
  • “More important, Garrison finally saw the school in action; students were learning their lessons assisted by devoted teachers such as William Burleigh, Prudence, and Almira. To see the realization of Crandall’s efforts- a true working school for young black women- and to know it existed in part because of his work with Crandall and his advocacy in the Liberator was deeply moving for Garrison.” (Williams, 150)

From the Seneca Baptist Association, our class has uncovered documents about some of the Rev. Philleo’s accomplishments in Suffield:

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Driving Questions:

What were the emotional dimensions to the marriage of Prudence Crandall and Rev. Philleo?

  • We know a large part of their marriage agreement was that Rev. Philleo needed a mother for his three kids. Was this the only reason they married or was there more to their marriage?
  • We also know from the book Prudence Crandall’s Legacy that many of her friends and William Lloyd Garrison did not approve of their relationship. Did anybody support their marriage? Other friends? Family members?

Prudence Crandall is the primary educator of Sarah Harris at the school she sets up, has the historical record forgotten her legacy as a teacher? 

  • Has her legacy as an educator become clouded by her high profile court cases and her relationship troubles?
  • Is the fact that Sarah Harris desired to one day be an educator the only reason Prudence taught her?
  • Why did Prudence persevere with her school after all the public backlash she faced?

What did the Rev. Calvin’s son address the town of Suffield about in 1856? 

  • We know this was a big election year, could his address possibly have anything to do with this?

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The New Role of Intelligence Agencies

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Ewald Wever is shown in the 1920 Census

The Bureau of Investigations, later known as the FBI, was a critical tool for the United States in counterintelligence during World War I, especially after the Espionage Act of 1917. This act was used to stop interference with the military, preventing insubordination in the military, and preventing support of the enemies of the United States during the war. Any person who conveyed information that was intended to interfere with the U.S. war effort or promoting the success of enemies was subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. In one famous case, Eugene Debs made a speech criticizing the Espionage Act and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. These acts were stopped around the country by the Bureau of Investigations and one occurrence even happened right here in Suffield. In a declassified report from the Bureau of Investigations, the investigating officers detail this occurrence in Suffield. A fairly successful tobacco farmer of West Suffield, CT, Ewald Wever, discouraged many people in his tobacco warehouse not to buy the second Liberty Loans. He told the people that they would just lose their money because soon the Germans would be ruling over the United States. There were at least two people, who before talking to Mr. Wever, wanted to buy the Liberty Loans, but after talking to Mr. Wever, they decided against doing so because of the way that he talked about them. When Mr. Wever was later asked to buy some Liberty Loans, his response was that he had no money. This was obviously not true since it was well known to everyone around he was a quite wealthy man. Our research so far shows that Mr. Wever had a tendency to be pro-German as he was born in Germany before becoming a United States citizen. Once while in Springfield, MA, Mr. Wever refused to stand for the National Anthem until a fellow resident forced him to stand. Mr. Wever’s actions caught the attention of the FBI thanks to a tip from Charles Bissell, who has a strong connection to the Suffield School. The FBI followed up with Mr. Wever and their desired action is unknown.

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Hartford Courant article talking about a strike at Mr. Wever’s tobacco warehouse. Article date: February 21, 1917

Based on 1920 Census, Mr. Wever lived in West Suffield, CT, was from Germany and was sixty-two years old. According to an article in the Hartford Courant, the tobacco warehouse that Mr. Wever managed was called the “Kaiser & Boasberg plantation,” which consisted of two warehouses, one where the women sort the shade-grown tobacco and the other where the men sort the Havana seed leaf. He lived with his wife and one of his sons and one of his daughters. The family also had a maid who lived with them, which shows that they were financially strong. While doing research on Mr. Wever through Ancestry.com, it was revealed that he had a total of four children with his wife. We continue to research the family of Mr. Wever and are looking to see if there are any direct relatives of him. We will also look into if Mr. Wever and Mr. Bissell were economic rivals, which may have prompted Mr. Bissell to report Mr. Wever. It was known that Mr. Bissell made money in tobacco, therefore this could give him a reason to report Mr. Wever. As we continue to look into new leads, look into acts of espionage in your own town.

Sources:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fbi-founded

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-congress-passes-espionage-act

https://search.proquest.com/docview/556434153?accountid=46995