Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Alvan Pinney Hyde came of good old Puritan stock. He was the lineal descendant, in the seventh generation, of William Hyde, who came from England in 1633 with the Rev. Thomas Hooker, and who, three years later, was one of the company that followed Hooker to the Connecticut valley and settled in the town of Hartford. The name of William Hyde is on the monument in the old Hartford burying ground, as one of the original settlers. He was an original proprietor of the town of Norwich, which he settled in 1660, as was also his son, Samuel, who married a daughter of Thomas Lee. Their eldest daughter was the first white child born in Norwich. The fourth son of Samuel Hyde was Thomas, who married Mary Backus of Norwich. The second son of Thomas was Jacob, who married Hannah Kingsbury and, like his father was a farmer in Franklin. The second son of Jacob was Ephraim, who married Martha Giddings, and settled in Stafford. The eldest son of Ephraim was Nathaniel, who married Sarah Strong, and their eldest son was Alvan, who married Sarah Pinney. The second son of Alvan and Sarah (Pinney) Hyde was Alvan Pinney, the subject of this sketch.
He was born March 10, 1825, at Stafford, Tolland County, Conn.
His father, an iron manufacturer, was a prominent citizen of Stafford, one of the selectmen of the town, and a frequent representative of it in the state legislature. He died prematurely, as it would seem, leaving the legacy of an excellent reputation both for his business abilities and for personal integrity.
His mother, the daughter of Isaac Pinney, Esq., of Stafford, was an eminently kind and generous woman, whose praise was throughout the church and neighborhood, and who, dying at the same age as her husband, left behind her the sweet savor of a saintly character.
Their son Alvan prepared for college at Monson Academy, Mass., entered Yale College in 1841, and graduated with honor in the class of 1845. Mr. Hyde was a member of the Skull and Bones Society, and occupied a position of respect, influence, and leadership in his class. Throughout his life he exhibited an eager interest in all that pertained to the interests of his college. This interest was enhanced by the fact that his two sons, William Waldo Hyde and Frank E. Hyde, were students and graduates of Yale. He was one of the founders of the Hartford Yale Alumni Association, and held the position of president in the Association at the time of his death. Letters written by his surviving classmates speak of him in terms of affectionate regard and memory. They refer to his early manifestation of just those traits and characteristics which marked his mature manhood, and won for him universal esteem and confidence.
On leaving college, he began the study of law with the late Judge Loren P. Waldo, at Tolland. He was admitted to the bar in 1847, and began the practice of his profession in the town of Stafford.
In 1849, he married Francis Elizabeth, the daughter of Judge Waldo, removed to Tolland, where he carried on the business left by the election of Judge Waldo to Congress, and remained there until 1864. Meanwhile public attention was attracted by his professional skill and success, and he became a conspicuous figure in the legal fraternity, and was regarded as a man of unusual vigor and promise. His integrity and sound judgment inspired confidence in business circles, and for several years he was president of the Tolland County Bank. Mr. Hyde was an earnest Democrat, and he was elected by his party to represent the town of Tolland in the General Assembly in 1854, 1858, and 1863.
In three hotly contested congressional campaigns, 1858, 1860, and 1862, he was the candidate of his party, but failed of an election each time.
In 1864 he removed to Hartford, where, in partnership with his father-in-law, Judge Waldo, he pursued the practice of law with increasing success. Three years later the firm became that of Waldo, Hubbard & Hyde, by the admission of Richard D. Hubbard, Esq., and continued in business without change until the death of Judge Waldo in 1881, except that Charles E. Gross was associated with it in 1877. Upon the death of Judge Waldo, Mr. Hyde's two sons, William Waldo Hyde, now mayor of Hartford, and Frank E. Hyde, were admitted to the firm, which became Hubbard, Hyde & Gross. Upon the untimely death of Governor Hubbard, the firm became Hyde, Gross & Hyde. In the summer of 1893, Frank E. Hyde withdrew from the firm, on his appointment as United States counsel at Lyons, and shortly before Mr. Hyde's death, Arthur L. Shipman was admitted to the partnership.
During his most active years the firm of which he was a member became one of the most widely known and successful law firms in this part of the country, and no member of the firm contributed more to this result than he. His mind was acute in perception, strong in its grasp and generalization of facts, and powerful in its lucid and convincing presentation of the salient points of a case. His judgment was excellent, and he combined the qualities of a good counsellor and a strong advocate. In his forensic efforts he often attained eloquence without aiming at it, and ever manifested the directness and singleness of purpose which were elements of his nature and character.
Although Mr. Hyde's career of public service and usefulness was mainly pursued and chiefly accomplished along the lines of his chosen profession, he was, nevertheless, connected with many of our public institutions, social, educational, humane, financial and religious, and earnestly engaged for their support and good management. All movements and enterprises for the improvement of the city and community that commended themselves to his good judgment received his cordial and generous support, and it is universally acknowledged that by his removal Hartford has lost one of its most public-spirited, most influential, and most esteemed citizens. His valuable counsel in the direction of several of our prominent mercantile institutions was highly appreciated. Directly and indirectly he generously assisted many of our benevolent and humane associations, and was a sympathetic friend and helper of the deserving poor.
From the time of his settlement in Hartford he was a constant attendant at the South Church in this city; served for several years as a member of the society's committee, and ever gave his cordial and substantial support to both the church and society.
He was a Mason of high standing in the order, and successfully administered the office of Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut during two terms from May 15, 1862.
Mr. Hyde's integrity, sincerity and straightforwardness of character, combined with kindly, charitable and amiable qualities of heart, won for him, all through his busy life, many firm friends whose warmth of attachment he greatly enjoyed and ardently reciprocated. The honors of public station or of social distinction seemed empty to him in comparison with the richer privileges which the fellowship of friends and domestic communion afford. Within that sacred privacy of household life, and all of its relations, his best qualities shone forth with a beautiful and cheerful brightness, and it is there that the feeling of his loss is and will be most grievous and enduring. Perhaps the noblest testimony to his worth and memory is to be found in the depth and breadth of devoted affection which he inspired in that large circle of those who were bound to him by ties of nature and kindred. That outwardly pleasant home of his, on the Charter Oak Place, graced in former years by the venerable presences of his parents-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Waldo, was inwardly a very pleasant and happy one, the scene of parental concern and devotion, and of filial respect and affection vying and blending each with the other in a manner and degree that was beautiful to behold.
In the later years of his life, Mr. Hyde and his wife, traveled somewhat extensively, both in his own country and abroad, refreshing his hard-worked mind and recruiting his overtaxed physical strength by such timely intervals and most suitable means of recreation.
For a year or two past his health has been visibly failing, nor could partial relinquishment of his hitherto arduous toil nor the benefits of travel avail to turn the gradually ebbing tide of his life.
Only a short time before his death, all arrangements had been made for his departure to Southern Florida, in hope that a winter residence there might prove beneficial. But on the eve of his intended departure he was again prostrated, and, as the event proved, beyond all hope of recovery. Another Hand was guiding him and leading him forth alone in that way which leads through the valley of the shadow of death to the land beyond our earthly horizons, - to "where beyond these voices, there is peace."
His strength was gone, and his life drew rapidly to its end, until, towards evening, February 5th, he painlessly and peacefully breathed his last.
A meeting of the members of the bar of Hartford County was held on the afternoon of February 8, 1894, to take action on the death of Hon. Alvan P. Hyde.
Mr. Charles E. Perkins presided. Henry C. Robinson presented the following resolutions:
"In the death of Hon. Alvan Pinney Hyde the bar has lost an eminent lawyer. Nature equipped him for usefulness. His frame was strong and stalwart, his intellect penetrating and logical, and his moral character honest and sound. Study and culture developed his natural powers. A long career of honorable practice carried him to the front rank of the profession and its most important activities, whence he retired for a few months of sickness, and died. He had an instinct for correct reasoning. His thoughts flowed out in a clear and forcible sentiment. He was faithful to his client and his cause, and his own conscience as well, from the first hour of examination until the last decree of the court was registered. If he succeeded he was generous, if he lost he was brave. In consideration for his associates he had no superior, in dealing with his opponents he was always fair. His broad outfit for professional achievement made him a favorite counselor and advocate in large interests, but he was never deaf to the inquiry nor reluctant to serve the cause of the humble client. He won his victories by direct and open attack; he had no use for indirection nor intrigue. No problem of logic puzzled his reflection, and no crisis confused his perception. His knowledge of jurisprudence was reinforced by a large knowledge of human nature, for he was full of humanity. He had, what is of supreme importance in furnishing a good lawyer or a good judge, a fine sense of that natural justice which underlies the written law of statutes and constitution. He was fair to a witness, for he was full of kindness. Aggressive in his assertions of a righteous cause, he delighted to fight fraud and tyranny, but he had only sympathy for the unfortunate and weak. He loved the law and his love was returned. His name and his life are woven into the records of our courts for last forty years.
"In business circles he was influential and useful. He was skillful in banking, insurance, and bookkeeping. He was fearless and upright in public life.
"As a friend he was true, as a husband, father and brother, he was tender and self-sacrificing. His genial presence was a joy to companionship. He brought much sunlight and no darkness to social life. He was full of hope. He believed in man, individually and socially, and for cynicism and pessimism neither his head nor his heart had any harbor.
"His career was successful and honorable. We remember him and will remember him with respect, admiration and love.
"We will attend his funeral in a body, and the clerk of the bar will enter this minute upon our records and transmit a copy of it to his family."
REMARKS BY JUDGE DAVID S. CALHOUN.
"My remembrance of Mr. Hyde goes back further, possibly, than that of any other one present, for it will be fifty years next October since I entered Yale College as a freshman and first saw Alvan P. Hyde, then a senior, looked upon by me with his full share of that reverence with which the eldest class in college is regarded by the youngest. I knew him not at all familiarly, though we were both from the same county, but I recall vividly the concentrated vigor of his kick as he `warmed' the football, sometimes sending it whirling from a point just below the big elm in the upper green on to the floor of the State House portico. But I knew he was a great favorite among his classmates, and had gained an excellent reputation as a scholar and writer.
"As a general practitioner, I doubt if I have seen his superior at our bar. He had no specialty, though his marvelous faculty in unwinding the tangled threads of business complications might have made him one of the greatest mercantile lawyers in the country. His mind was so versatile and his equipment so complete, that he was fitted for every style of forensic contest. I always found him a trusty and competent leader, a sturdy, skillful, and dangerous antagonist. Patient and fearless, with that grand physique which defied fatigue - never too elated and never discouraged - insensible to ill omens, he never faltered till an irresistible judgment barred his way.
"But whatever an analysis of his natural and acquired powers may show, no one who knew Mr. Hyde as I have known him, will deny that, judging him by the amount, variety, importance, and success of his legal work, he was one of the great bodies of the Connecticut bar. And it is not the humblest part of the eulogy which we offer his memory today, to say that no lawyer through nearly half a century of struggle and strife in courts ever carried himself more manfully, more generously, more honorably, or left fewer rankling wounds behind.
"The higher Alvan P. Hyde rose, the higher he was esteemed. His great, kind heart, his liberal judgment of others, his rare good fellowship, his simple honesty of soul which needed no sensitive moral sensibilities since it was not open to temptation, his strong relish of the pure airs of truth and justice, his deep-seated love for home, friends and country - these we remember with that affection which crowns our estimate of the character of our brother and mingles sorrow for his loss with our respect for his memory."
REMARKS OF JUDGE DWIGHT LOOMIS.
"A sense of personal bereavement impels me to say a word or two on this occasion. In our younger days Brother Hyde and I were often in each other's society.
"We were together in the same classes in Monson Academy. While studying law in lawyers' offices in adjoining towns we often met, and after that we were members of the same class in Yale School.
"We were admitted to the bar of Tolland County and commenced the practice of the law at about the same time in the year 1847.
"Brother Hyde commenced practice first at Stafford, but soon removed to Tolland. I located in Rockville. We were very often employed on opposite sides of a case, and occasionally on the same side. We ran for Congress on opposite tickets twice, and yet in all our controversies, whether of a legal or political nature, I bear this testimony, that I never knew Brother Hyde to do a mean, unfair or ungenerous act, and in all our intercourse there never arose a shade of unpleasantness between us, either personal, professional, or political. Brother Hyde was tried and never found wanting as a friend. He had a warm heart and generous impulses. In social life he was most cordial and amiable, and exempt from affectation, insecurity or arrogance.
"Of his eminence at the bar, we are all witnesses. If he had not the graceful diction and rhetorical affluence that distinguished the late Governor Hubbard, he had a deep, logical and penetrating mind, and I often noticed with admiration a certain cogent, weighty, forceful and compacted style of argumentation, which, joined with great energy and enthusiasm of manner, amply compensated for any lack of ornaments and flowers of rhetoric.
"He was a man of untiring industry and almost irresistible energy, and I have rarely seen his equal as a consummate judge of mind and motive. And few men have been able to make such a profound and abiding impression on courts and juries as he.
"His loss to the bar of the state and to the citizens of Hartford is very great, but to yonder darkened home is immeasurable."
REMARKS OF CHARLES E. GROSS.
"Mr. Chairman and Brethren of the bar:
"I am so oppressed to-day by that which is, especially to me, a personal bereavement, that I would prefer to keep silent. I feel that I cannot give proper expression to what I would desire to say. Yet, not withstanding this, I should not be true to myself if, at this time, I neglected to add a few words of personal tribute to the memory of Alvan P. Hyde, for whom we all mourn so deeply and whom I loved so well.
"For over 22 years I have been connected with him in the practice of the law, and for over 17 years I have enjoyed the privilege and the honor of a copartnership with him.
"During this time our intimacy has not been simply formal, but I have been admitted within the sacred portals of his confidence and trust, and I am proud to believe, even of his affection also. Naturally, no one has appreciated more than I his great ability and attainments as a lawyer, yet it seems to me that, at this time, it is more proper that others should speak of him in this respect rather than myself.
"I prefer to speak of some of his personal characteristics, one of which especially has always impressed me deeply, and that has been his gentleness of spirit.
"He carried with him everywhere an enveloping atmosphere, as it were, of brotherly kindness. No one, whether friend or stranger, client or beggar, could come into his presence without feeling at once its warmth and encouragement.
"Yet he wore it not as a cloak, to be put on or taken off, from time to time, as an outer garment; it was neither superficial nor artificial, but it was ingrained into the very nature of the man, and formed as much a part of him as the nerves or veins in his body. He had a remarkably even and lovable disposition. Masculine in power and appearance, yet in those qualities which lie back of all action he was as thoroughly feminine. He was sympathetic almost to a fault. Suffering appealed to him in any form, and rarely, if ever, was his aid withheld.
"Another characteristic was his loyalty to truth and justice. He never prostituted his great ability to ignoble uses. He fought for the truth manfully and in the open field. He hated deception and despised all underground influences. He neither bore false witness nor knowingly aided in permitting another to bear false witness.
"Akin to this was his loyalty to his friends, his old home in Tolland County and its people, his professional brethren, and his clients. It was always the same true, fixed and absolute loyalty under every circumstance. He harbored no doubts, and permitted no questionings.
"We have lost not only a leader, but a friend. We are to-day bringing the wreaths which our respect and friendship and love have been winding during our acquaintance with him. If among them all one flower shall outlive its fellows, I think, Mr. Chairman, it will be that fragrant blossom which stands for his gentle and loveable nature.
"Will we not always think of him as was said of another:
" `God gave him wisdom and understanding exceeding much; but above all, largeness of heart, even as the sand which is on the seashore.' "
REMARKS OF HENRY C. ROBINSON.
"Mr. Chairman: Although I had not expected to extend by remark my estimate of Mr. Hyde as expressed in the resolutions, yet I cannot decline your request to add a word by my voice. As I have listened with interest and emotion to the fitting and forcible tributes already rendered to the memory of our friend, I am impressed with the thought that no words of memorial speech or resolution can reproduce a marked personality. We gather together closely about our table, and one has gone from its head; we look at the vacant chair and try to describe the man who has gone. But the phrases of our description are insufficient to reflect the portrait of the individual character which is sketched upon our hearts. Qualities were assembled in his person which we may not picture in adequate tone and force in speech. Mr. Hyde was a masterly man in his profession. How and wherein he was masterly has been well told you, and better still, you all know it without telling. And what a successful thing it is to build up such professional worth and such character! If that is all of our friend, if life ends with his cold frame breathless and pulseless in its robes of death, his professional and personal achievements, running in the lines of the best laws of our nature, have made his life a success.
"The flower withered by the frosts of autumn or cut down by the scythe in summer, if it has fulfilled the laws of its best nature - beauty and fragrance - is still a success, though `to-morrow it is cast into the oven.'
"It was my lot to be many times called into the inner chamber of our friend's soul, in joy and sorrow, and the occupants were manliness, sincerity and tenderness. In God and His laws, in integrity and truth, and man's personal immortality, he believed, and his belief in those invisible realities was not bound by ragged threads of speculative possibilities, but by the firm cords of conviction.
"I have said if this were all of our friend, but it is not. There must be more - the pure and blessed invisible things within us must go on, and into the pure and blessed and invisibles external to us we may go. The dying Rabelais said, "Je vais chercher un grand peut-Ítre;" our philosophy halts not at a "perhaps," it is assured of a future where incomplete lives shall be made complete."
REMARKS OF JOHN C. PARSONS.
"Mr. Chairman: One word should be said, in recounting our memories of Mr. Hyde, of his kindness and consideration of his juniors at the bar, especially those associated with him in a trial. Fortunately for our times this trait or habit was not peculiar to Mr. Hyde alone at our bar. There are traditions coming down from a time earlier than you, Mr. Chairman, or I can remember, when the leaders of the bar were wont to throw all the labor and drudgery of preparation and trial upon their jurors, and appropriate to themselves all the credit and honor. That was long ago. None of us who have served under Mr. Hungerford, Governor Toucey, Mr. T. C. Perkins, or Governor Hubbard, have known what it was to be imposed upon or slighted by our leaders. We have understood that our seniors would see that we were not snubbed with impunity by opposing counsel, or overawed by the court; that we should be guarded from surprises and flank attacks; that a retreat, if necessary, would be skillfully covered, and that every possible opportunity would be given us for success or distinction.
"Mr. Hyde was an admirable illustration of this increasing courtesy. He had no place in his large, robust, generous nature, for envy or jealousy. He was ever ready to take the laboring oar; his vehemence and untiring energy gave his young associate strength and courage; his prompt resource covered any stumbling, and it was his pleasure to afford his junior every chance of winning the laurels of the contest. And in all his relations to his brethren at the bar, old or young, I am sure we can none of us recall any incident which has left any rankling or heart-burning; on the contrary, all our recollections are of a noble and kindly character."
The chairman, Mr. Perkins, before he put the resolutions to the meeting, said that he and Mr. Hyde had practiced together for forty years. During that time he was associated with him only twice. In having Mr. Hyde as his opposing counsel he felt his grit and the power of his mind. He used no flowers of rhetoric in his addresses, though he had the power to use them if he felt disposed to exercise it. Mr. Perkins eulogized Mr. Hyde as a lawyer and as a man.
The resolutions were unanimously adopted.