Table of Contents
A Guide to the collection at the Connecticut Historical Society
Elam Chaffee was born in Somers, Connecticut March 11, 1783, and died there January 5, 1855. He married Elizabeth (1787-1865), daughter of Ezekiel and Elizabeth (Chapin) Spencer in 1808. Elam worked at the U.S. Armory in Springfield. Mass., finishing bayonets. In 1817 he and his brother-in-law, Chester Spencer, were partners in Somers as traders and storekeepers under the name of Spencer and Chaffee. Elam and Elizabeth’s children were born in Springfield, but the family moved to Somers sometime after 1821.
Chester Spencer, in addition to his mercantile ventures was also involved in textile production—he was partner in the construction of a woolen mill in Somers and in 1835 purchased two satinette looms. He married Rebecca Hamilton and had children Mandana, Theodore (b. ca. 1815), Salvina and Asa.
The collection primarily consists of financial and legal documents of a Somers, Connecticut family who were merchants and farmer. The papers were arranged chronologically by person, starting with the elder Ebenezer Spencer who is represented by land and probate records, 1738-1740. His son, Ebenezer, is represented by deeds and by his will, 1754-1800. The papers of Ezekiel Spencer, son of the second Ebenezer, consists of legal and estate records, 1815-1820 while the papers of his son Ezekiel Jr. concern some debt he found himself in, 1816, 1820.
The bulk of the collection is related to Chester Spencer who served as constable in Somers and as a result his papers include justice court records, writs and summonses, 1818-1848. Of note are liquor licenses he held from 1824-1834, and among his bills of sale and deeds, textile-related documents. Records of the partnership of Spencer and Chaffee date from 1816-1840 and consist of financial and legal records.
Chester’s son Theodore is also represented by assorted documents including financial records and a license, 1863. Additional Spencer family papers are also arranged chronologically although in most cases the exact relationship is unknown.
Somers town records consist of subscriptions, one to aid a fire victim, the other to start a school; land surveys; a lease for a grist mill; minutes of a school meeting; and a notice to electors of an upcoming meeting, 1793-1837. Court records include summonses, depositions and writs, 1800-1858.
A rather large number of unidentified or papers that could not be attributed to any single family member are arranged in the final box. These include bills related to building a fulling mill and purchasing looms. Also of interest are recipes for mixtures used for medicinal purposes and business cards from Hartford and Springfield.
There are no restrictions on access to the collection.
Use of the material requires compliance with the Connecticut Historical Society's Research Center regulations.
Spencer, Chester, b. 1783.
Spencer, Ebenezer, d. 1740
Spencer, Ebenezer, d. after 1779.
Spencer, Ezekiel, 1748-1820.
Spencer, Ezekiel, b. 1779.
Billheads --Connecticut --Hartford.
Decedents’ estates --Connecticut --Somers.
Deeds --Connecticut --Somers.
Somers (Conn.) --History --Sources.
Textile industry --Connecticut --Somers.
Item, Collection Title, Collection number (Box #, Folder #). Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut.
Collection was processed by Barbara Austen in 2008.
EAD Finding Aid created June 2011.