JOHN A. CONANT, WILLIMANTIC: President New England Christian Association.
John A. Conant is a descendant in the seventh generation from Roger Conant, who came from England in 1623, and
finally settled in what is now Salem, Mass. He was born at Mansfield, Conn., August 16, 1829, being the oldest
son of Lucius and Marietta (Eaton) Conant, who were unable to give him anything more than a common school education.
At ten years of age he went to live on a farm with his mother's brother, George Eaton, and remained there until
nearly fifteen, when he returned home, and soon after went to work in a silk mill of which the Hon. Augustus Storrs
was agent. In 1849, because of the depressed condition of the silk manufacturing business, he was thrown out of
work, but secured employment at the American mills in Rockville, where he became acquainted with Miss Caroline
A. Chapman of Ellington, to whom he was married in 1852. In 1854 he engaged with Messrs. Cheney Brothers to take
charge of the winding department of their mills in Hartford. There he remained two years, during which time he
took a letter from the Wesleyan Methdist Church of Tolland, and, with his wife, united with the Fourth Congregational
Church of that city, Rev. William W. Patton pastor. In 1856, being weary of mill life, he bought a small farm in
West Hartford, but only a year elapsed before he yielded to the earnest solicitations of the Watertown Manufacturing
Company to superintend their silk mill at Watertown, in this state. Having lost the companion of his youth, who
died in 1863, leaving one son, he was married the following year to his second wife, Mrs. Marietta (French) Brown
of Mansfield, by whom he had two sons, but only one is now living. In 1866 he engaged with Messrs. J. H. &
G. Holland to superintend the throwing department of their silk works in Willimantic, where he still resides.
When Mr. Conant became an elector he commenced voting with the free soil party, with which he acted until it was
merged into the newly organized republican party, in which he was a zealous worker until after the war of the rebellion,
when, seeing the successful influence of the liquor traffic over its leading men, he left it in 1872 to act with
the prohibitionists. Meanwhile the anti-secret reform began to engage his attention. Mr. Conant has been a member
of three secret societies, two of which are now extinct, and the other he abandoned many years since because of
the clannish spirit and idolatrous tendency he discovered in such societies. He has come to look upon all secret
organizations as dangerous to the state, and a hindrance to the work of the Christian church; and hem now holds
the position of president of the New England Christian Association, formed for the purpose of opposing and exposing
the evils of the lodge system. In 1884 he was nominated on the anti-secret ticket by the American party for vice-president,
but with the other candidate, Dr. J. Blanchard, withdrew in favor of St. John and Daniel; since which time he has
generally acted with the prohibitionists, except when such action would conflict with his anti-secret principles.
Illustrated Popular Biography
Compiled and Published by J. A. Spalding
Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.
Hartford, Conn. 1891
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