James G. Batterson (1823 – 1901)
James G. Batterson is considered to be a true “Renaissance Man.” He was an Egyptologist, he founded Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford and managed the company for more than a third of its first century, he was co-owner of New England Granite Works in Hartford, and he played a key role in founding Hartford’s American rural cemetery – Cedar Hill Cemetery.
Batterson co-owned New England Granite Works with his brothers, and, as a result, he had the resources to promote fine arts and is credited with bringing the art of sculpture to Hartford. New England Granite Works was the leading supplier of stone for Civil War monuments, including some of the largest Civil War monuments at Antietam and Gettysburg. Batterson’s commissions include the national Monument at Gettysburg, the statue of Alexander Hamilton in Central Park, New York, the Congressional Library in Washington, and the State Capitol in Hartford. He also enjoyed traveling to Italy where he would seek talented sculptors and convince them to come to Hartford to work for him. One such sculptor was Antonio Argenti whose stunning works can be found throughout the region and world today. One of his most significant pieces of artwork is a large statue of the God of Time, which is on display at Edoardo Rancati’s (1832 – 1897) tomb in Milan.
In addition, Batterson was a good friend of Elizabeth Colt, widow of gun manufacturer Samuel Colt. Batterson was instrumental in introducing Elizabeth to Cedar Hill Cemetery, which resulted in her purchase of a large family plot at Cedar Hill. Elizabeth then commissioned Batterson to erect the first major monument at Cedar Hill. The 32-foot tall pink granite memorial is topped with a bronze rendition of the Angel Gabriel, which toured the country before finding its final resting place atop the Colt memorial. When she purchased the lot, the hilltop of Section 2 was the highest point in the Cemetery.
Through his promotion of the arts, Batterson also inspired Elizabeth to acquire many of her fine art pieces. She and Batterson joined forces in the 1870s to advocate for the Wadsworth Athenaeum to become a free public art museum. In her will, Elizabeth left the majority of her artworks in her estate to the Athenaeum.
James Batterson died on September 18, 1901 after a summer of failing health. He worked at Travelers Insurance Company until his death.
Connecticut’s Heritage Gateway. Accessed at http://www.ctheritage.org/encyclopedia/ct1865_1929/newstatecapitol.htm in August 2010.
Insurance Hall of Fame. Accessed at http://www.insurancehalloffame.org/laureateprofile.php?laureate=96 in August 2010.
RootsWeb.com. James Goodwin Batterson. Accessed at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ctharbio/Batterson_James_Goodwin.html in August 2010.
Society of Architectural Historians. Biographies. Accessed at http://www.sah.org/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=BiographiesArchitectsB&category=Resources in August 2010.
The New York Times. Death List of a Day. September 19, 1901. Accessed at http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9800E6D8143FE433A2575AC1A96F9C946097D6CF on August 12, 2010.
Travelers. History. Accessed at http://www.travelers.com/about-us/careers/life-at-travelers/history.aspx on August 12, 2010.
Photo Credit: James Goodwin Batterson, Public Domain