BLOG: Charles Henry Sterry - Tolland Historical Society Article

by Peter Palmer

​Charles Henry Sterry a farmer, stage driver and Post Master…

Charles Henry Sterry

Charles Sterry was born in Tolland on the 23rd of December 1852 to Tolland residents, Samuel and Hattie Sterry. The homestead purchased by Samuel and his mother, Elizabeth in 1843, sat at the bottom of the hill on the south side of Old Post Road across from the present highway department facility. When a resident of Tolland, Samuel worked (among other activities) as a leather worker and he taught Charles the trade.

What schooling Charles got would have been at the Center School, located just north of the Tolland County jail. The jail was established in 1785 on land now under the road now known as Route 74 between the present jail and the general store. The first center school was established on land acquired in 1799, as one of 13 district schools under a law passed by the new state legislature.

When Charles was ten, his mother died and Samuel married Harriet (Hattie) Staples. Having two mothers with the name Hattie confused the research.

When Charles was 12, a new school on a new site was constructed. It was a two story wood-frame building, located at the corner of the town main street and Old Post Road (now occupied by the town hall). It appears from surviving pictures, to originally have no second story windows. There were two maple trees in front. The present trees are the third set planted there.

At age 16, Charles was apprenticed in Hartford, as an ornamental painter. At age 18, Charles married Mary Josephine (last name and place of marriage unknown) on January 20 1870. The marriage did not last, a divorce granted in December of 1872. Charles then married Elizabeth McComb Graham of the Hartford Graham’s on June 11th 1873.

In 1872, Charles and his father are reported to be in Verbank New York running a coal and lumber business under the name of Samuel Sterry and son. The business was successful, but Samuel and Charles returned to Tolland in 1877.

On his return to Tolland Charles farmed the family property. Showing energy, he became a stage driver, transporting residents to and from Rockville, had the contract to deliver the mail from and to Rockville, operated a leather work business and later become the town Post Master. His leather work was highly regarded and the Tolland Historical Society has some of his tools on display. Charles was well regarded and was sought after as a hunting guide. He gave and endorsement to a widely known gun powder.

The attachment is Charles's endorsement and picture.

Submitted by Peter C. Palmer copyright, October 2015, Tolland Historical Society

Peter Palmer
Written by:

Peter Palmer

Peter Palmer is Tolland Historical Society's Assistant to Barbara Cook and Archivist. Submissions are on behalf of the Tolland Historical Society.