September 9: The Shoe-Manufacturing Lounsbury Brothers Try On the Governor’s Office

 

When Phineas Chapman Lounsbury of Ridgefield, Connecticut won the Republican party nomination for governor on September 9, 1886, it marked the beginning of a short-lived but unique political dynasty. Phineas would go on to win the governor’s race later that year and serve a single term as Connecticut’s 53rd governor before retiring from political service. Then, not quite 10 years later, his older brother George Edward Lounsbury would successfully run for governor as well — making the shoe-manufacturing  Lounsburys the only fraternal pair of governors in Connecticut history.

Born to a well-to-do family, the two brothers Lounsbury pursued very different life paths on their way to reaching the state’s  highest political office. Elder brother George was a student at Yale in the early 1860s, while younger brother Phineas served in the Union Army during the early months of the Civil War before severe illness earned him an honorable discharge. As George continued his higher education at Yale and then Berkeley Divinity School, Phineas pursued real-life business experience instead of formal education, serving as a store clerk and salesman before partnering with George to establish the Lounsbury Brothers shoe manufacturing company in 1862. Both brothers served in the Connecticut General Assembly before seeking the governor’s chair; Phineas as a state representative and George as a state senator. Each of them served one term as governor before retiring from public office.

Today, “Lounsbury House,” the restored mansion originally built by Phineas Lounsbury in 1896, serves as an event rental space and as the home of the Ridgefield Community Center.

Further Reading

Jeremy Main, “From Londesborough to Lounsbury,” The Ridgefield Press

Christopher Frank, “Lounsbury Elected Governor,” connecticuthistory.org