More On Lees

Dale Call’s day job is Westport Chief of Police.

In his spare time, he does detective work — on Westport’s history.

Following up on yesterday’s post, referencing the Lees’ twine manufacturing company — and Mary Palmieri Gai’s additional comments, remembering Lees’ Richmondville mill and surrounding real estate — Dale writes that the Leeses were “a fairly large family, and pretty prominent Westporters back in the day.”

Edward M. Lees (Courtesy of Dale Call)

Edward M. Lees (Courtesy of Dale Call)

They began selling their significant landholdings in the 1920s — but the name survives, thanks to Lees Pond, Lees Dam and Lees Lane, all in the Richmondville area.

Edward Lees was a Westport postmaster, and a lawyer. Dale thinks he had little to do with the mill, which belonged to his father, John.

Dale also knows quite a bit about Fairfield’s 17th Regiment, which was mentioned yesterday, and in which many Westporters fought during the Civil War. A number of soldiers were Dale’s ancestors.

Edward Lees joined the regiment too, ending the war as a 2nd lieutenant in Company K. He was wounded at Gettysburg, and captured at the Battle of Chancellorsville — which, Dale notes, began 150 years ago yesterday.

7 responses to “More On Lees

  1. How could a soldier captured at Chancellorsville have fought at Gettysburg a battle fought two months later?

    • Lees was paroled (in effect, released on his signed word not to fight until properly exchanged) in late May 1863. Once properly exchanged (which was a paperwork matter at this stage of the war) he rejoined his regiment in time for Gettysburg.

      Exchanges ended once Grant took over the Union Army for many reasons, but that happened layer in the war.

  2. Tom Allen '66

    Was probably the reverse, unless he was quickly exchanged, which was unlikely.

  3. He could have escaped.
    He could have been part of a prisoner swap.
    He could have been paroled — released with a promise not to fight, a practice in which both sides engaged at times because housing and feeding prisoners could become burdensome.
    Depending on the family’s wealth, his freedom could have been bought

  4. Sally Campbell Palmer

    I love this blog…remember & learn things about Westport all the time.

  5. Jack Whittle

    The results of some searching on Edward Lees, plus some more info on the Lees family:

    Edward M. Lees (born c. 1832) shows up in both the 1860 and 1870 US censuses living in Westport CT (address not specified) with his wife Caroline. In the 1860 census Edward’s occupation is listed as “blacksmith” while in the 1870 census his occupation is listed as “law student”. Edward was appointed postmaster for Westport on April 7, 1867. He died in 1909 and is buried alongside his wife in Willowbrook cemetery. I found a picture of their graves on-line (amazing what you can find if you know where to look):

    Lees Manufacturing Company – they ran the cotton twine mill (never a timber mill) on Richmondville Ave – was founded in 1814 by John Lees, who was born in 1787 in England, and perhaps a brother Thomas Lees was also a founder. John Lees was married to Martha (b. 1793) and they are shown living in Westport in the 1850 US census, with their two youngest sons George and Henry.

    As far as precise Main Street Westport addresses of the Lees are concerned, I see Robert Lees (b. 1855) and his wife Lucy living in “on Main street near Myrtle Ave” in Westport in the 1919 Westport City Directory (they are both shown living in Westport – precise address not given – in the 1900 and 1910 US censuses, with Robert’s occupation listed as “cotton twine manufacturing.”) Robert dies around 1919, but Lucy continues to live in Westport, with her precise address listed as “171 Main St.” beginning with the 1925 Westport City Directory and continuing through the 1933 directory (when Lucy was 83 or so, she may have died soon thereafter).

    Meanwhile, beginning with the 1910 census John A. Lees (b. 1875) and his wife Margaret Sniffen Lees are living next door at 169 Main St., along with their son John A. Lees Jr. (b. 1905). According to the 1917 City directory John A Lees Sr. is the president of Lees Manufacturing, and Charles Sniffen (his wife’s father? Brother?) is shown as the manager. It looks like John A. Lees Sr. and Margaret moved into Lucy Lees’ house after she died, because they are shown living at 171 Main St. in the 1940 census. At this point John A. Lees Jr. is married (Jane) and from 1931 – 1939 living at 193 Main St. (per the City directories.) Looks like John A. Lees Jr. (who also ran the company) and Jane eventually moved to Turkey Hill Rd. S. in the 1950s. John A. Lees Jr. dies on April 24, 1966 in Westport.

    So I can at least confirm Lees living at 169, 171 and 193 Main Street. They do sound like they were a prominent family.

  6. Jack Whittle

    I forgot to mention that, given the address of the Lees house on Main St. provided by Mary yesterday, as compared to these addresses, I am wondering if they didn’t re-number Main St in the 1950s or so.