THE HON. GREEN KENDRICK
Green Kendrick's ancestors were Virginians, with a mingling of Puritan stock.
John Kendrick, his father, was a cotton-planter who lived near Charlotte, Mecklenburg
County, North Carolina. He was a man of marked religious character, and eminent usefulness in the affairs
of the church, the state, and society. His house was a centre of hospitality, and his had was ready to
aid in every good work. Mr. Kendrick's mother was a woman of great force and character,
who administered her manifold duties as mistress of the house and the plantation with energy and fidelity.
Green Kendrick was born April 1, 1798, and was the seventh in a family of eleven children.
He had such means of education as were afforded by the county schools of that period, and, although by
the help of diligence and zeal he made excellent progress, he always regretted the lack of a thorough collegiate training. It was doubtless his remembrance of the difficulties besetting the
gratification of his early thirst for knowledge that led him to serve the interests of education so faithfully
during his life. After leaving school, he busied himself in the management of the plantation,
but at the age of nineteen or twenty, engaged in mercantile pursuits in Charlotte. On June 12, 1823, he
married Anna Maria, the eldest daughter of Mark Leavenworth and great-granddaughter of the Rev. Mark Leavenworth. This happy union, which lasted for forty seven years, largely determined Mr. Kendrick's
future course, for soon after his marriage, he visited his wife's native town and was greatly attracted
by its manufacturing interests, then in their early development. Upon the earnest request
of his father-in-law, he removed to Waterbury in 1829, and then became thenceforth a Northern citizen,
identifying himself in every way with the interests of his adopted town and state.
Mr. Kendrick became a member of the firm of Mark Leavenworth & Co., manufacturers
of clocks, afterwards, under the firm name of Leavenworth and Kendrick, he was among the first to engage
in the manufacture of gilt buttons, an industry out of which grew the manufacture of brass. He subsequently
engaged in the manufacture of pocket cutlery and organized the Waterville Manufacturing
Company, which his direction procured skilled labor from abroad and proved the practicability of competing
successfully with Europe in this useful art. He later organized and successfully established under peculiar
difficulties the Oakville Pin Company. He was interested in the American Suspender
Company and many other manufacturing companies. Indeed, his interests were co-extensive with the industries
of the town, with its business and its financial institutions, for nearly the entire period of his residence
in Waterbury. In the later years of his life, he obtained the controlling interest in
the manufacture of silver-plated ware, then recently established in Waterbury by Rogers & Brother.
During the period of his control of this company, its business increased rapidly and it became the leader
in its special field, with a reputation for excellence in all particulars.
While actively engaged in the industries of Waterbury at home, Mr. Kendrick served the
town abroad yet more efficiently. To him was due, in part at least, the passage in 1837 of the general
manufacturing law of Connecticut, providing for the easy organization of joint stock companies and the
more efficient combining of capital in co-operative work. The passage of this law gave a stimulus to all the manufacturing industries of Connecticut, and especially to those of Waterbury
and the Naugatuck Valley.
Mr. Kendrick was a leading member of the Whig party, serving it to the extent of his ability
in all its relations to the town, the state, and the nation. To one knowing Mr. Kendrick intimately, his
relations to his party, and his power to serve it, were seen to be among the most gratifying results of
his life. He was called to represent the town eight times, and his district three times, in the legislature; was honored with the office of lieutenant-governor of the state in 1851, and
subsequently in an election by the legislature, came within one vote of being elected governor. He was
speaker of the General Assembly in 1854 and 1856. In 1856, he was the candidate of his party in the legislature
for United States senator, and was defeated by Lafayette S. Foster by only two votes.
Subsequently, after the death of President Lincoln, Mr. Foster became vice-president, so that the two
votes in the Connecticut legislature would have changed the vice-presidency. Mr. Kendrick was loyal to
the Whig party as long as it existed, and then stood aside, acting with the Democratic party so far as he acted at all. Ever loyal to his conception of duty and his convictions of right, he followed
them without regard to party lines. By nature manly and just, he outgrew party bondage and in his later
years, sought to conciliate and harmonize the differing elements of strife, always preferring principal
to party. Born at the South, he deeply regretted the necessity of war, but was loyal to
the section of his adoption.
Mr. Kendrick took an active interest in everything that concerned the prosperity of Waterbury
and the education of its people. He was chairman of the Board of Education for many years and at the time
of his death, and also president of the Board of Agents of the Bronson library. He was active in his support
of the First Congregational Church. His convictions of religious truth were profound, but
he was not a church member for he could not adopt a creed as a whole unless he was willing to accept it
in detail. Here, if anywhere, he believed, was the place for frankness and honesty; if he could not enter
the church without mental reservations, he would not enter at all. Yet his interest in the church was
deep and permanent, and in all that concerned its material prosperity he served it faithfully.
He was chairman of the society's building committee in 1840, and again of the building committee of the
present church in 1874 and 1875, to the erection of which he subscribed $10,000. Mr. Kendrick thought
deeply and constantly on religious subjects, and was not only serious, but reverential.
Amid the cares of a busy life, he was always ready to lead in all movements to improve
and beautify the town. The beautiful Center Square owes to him and to the Messers. Scovill and others
its transformation from the condition of an unpromising bog to what it is now.
Few events in the history of Waterbury have excited a deeper interest in the community
than the opening of Riverside Cemetery. Mr. Kendrick was one of the pioneers in this movement and devoted
himself to the complete organization of the plan. He was chairman of the board of trustees and delivered
the address at the dedication of the cemetery.
Note: The address, with an account of the dedicatory services was published in a pamphlet
entitled, "The Riverside Cemetery at Waterbury, Connecticut, its Articles and Associations, " with the
Dedication Address &c, Waterbury, 1853. It is reproduced in full (occupying pp. 23 to 42) in the handsome
"Book of the Riverside Cemetery" published by the board of trustees of the association in
1889. At the dedication of the Hall Memorial chapel at the cemetery in June 1885, the writer of this note
referred to Mr. Kendrick as "the kindly old man, the loyal friend, who, when the cemetery was opened,
fulfilled a service similar to that which I am now fulfilling, and whose remains we laid away nearly twelve years ago in the spot of his own choosing on yonder hillside." (p. 6r) - J. A.