Mr C’s Connecticut History Question



Photos, Top: Perry’s Victory, painted by William Henry Powell of Cincinnati in 1865; Bottom:  Pawcatuck River with former C.B. Cottrell & Son complex shown.

Q.  What do Oliver Hazard Perry, Hero of Lake Erie in the War of 1812 and C.B. Cottrell have in common?

A.  They both did business on the banks of the Pawcatuck River, which has formed the southern portion of Connecticut’s border with Rhode Island since at least 1636.

Calvin Bryon Cottrell, and his partner Nathan Babcock, were 19th century businessmen whose company C.B. Cottrell & Sons built printing presses into the 20th century on the river’s edge in the Pawcatuck section of Stonington.  Mr. Cottrell had more than 100 American and European patents to his credit.  At one time their company was the second largest pressworks manufacturer in the United States.

Commodore Perry, “We have met the enemy and they are ours”, played on the river as a child living in Westerly (RI) and later built gunboats there for the U.S. government.  That was before he sailed into harm’s way and won the important battle on Lake Erie against a formidable English fleet.

The naval engagement gave the U.S. Navy control of the Great Lakes.  The Perry-led victory severed the British supply lines and forced them to abandon Detroit.

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