Merchant in Stamford
By Karen Cuccinello
This store was at 127 Main and was first owned and operated by Hamilton Preston from 1867-1893. Upon Preston’s death in 1893 his widow sold the store to Henry C. Lawrence who brought his son-in-law George Clute into the business in 1906; then after a couple of owners Clayton Hillson took over in 1932. Henry’s son George William Lawrence had his store in the same building.
George was born in Halcott, NY January 10, 1878 to Henry Christopher (1844-1930) and Sarah (Travis 1851-1924) Lawrence. He had one sister, Angeline “Angie” Crosby (Mrs. George Judson Clute 1884-1958). George graduated from Stamford Seminary in 1896 and married Caroline “Carrie” Marie Wilcox (1877-1970) of Treadwell on January 31, 1900. They had two daughters, Bessie E. (1904-1908) and Angelyn Wilcox (Mrs. Stephen J. Kerley 1911-2005).
George and family often went to Miami, FL or south in the winter where he engaged in business. They bought property on Roosevelt Avenue in 1905 for a future house. Their daughter Bessie died in Miami of pneumonia in 1908. Following Bessie’s death George had mental health issues pertaining to her death and was brought to the Binghamton State Hospital by Dr. Stephen E. Churchill in Churchill’s automobile in 1909. By 1910 he is back in Stamford advertising his new soda fountain at his sporting goods store. In 1911 George secured the lease of a store in South Carolina and went there for the winter. In 1913 he installed an electric printing machine in his Stamford store which aided his photographic business.
His 1917-18 WWI registration card lists 40 year old George’s description as medium height, slender build, blue eyes and light hair. During the summer of 1918 they moved from the Lawrence cottage, at 10 Harper Street, to their new home on Roosevelt Avenue. In September 1919 he sold his ice cream and photograph business to Morse Ellsworth. George had started the business when a boy, having a counter in the store of his father. Ellsworth planned to continue to carry a full line of stationery, up-to-date sporting goods, candies, cigars, cigarettes, etc., and offered printing and developing services. George’s wife Carrie evidently continued to work in the store as she lists as a saleslady in the 1920 Stamford census.
George and family motored to Miami in 1924 where George resumed his old position in the Douglas store, then were back in Stamford in the spring of 1925 to operate his novelty store again. In the fall of 1925 Carrie auctioned off the store and household goods and the next year George was deemed incompetent by the court. At some point, probably by 1928 when Carrie rented their home out and moved to Oneonta, George was sent to live at the Middletown State Hospital where he died February 17, 1931. Burial in the Stamford Cemetery, posted on Findagrave.com.
Carrie remarried Charles Olds (1909-1994) and is buried in Sarasota Memorial Park, FL. The daughter Angelyn is also buried in Sarasota.
Mrs. Mabel (Pierce) Townsend purchased the Lawrence Cottage in 1921, called it Raynham Lodge, and sold it to Prospect Enterprises about 1962; then Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Churchill purchased it in 1962.
Hand written on the back of the photo, which is housed at the Stamford Village Library, is George and Angelyn, but the child could just as well be Bessie. I did not find a family tree connection between the Hobart and the Stamford Lawrence merchants.