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John Hooker

Also Known As: "esq.", "John /Hooker/"
Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Farmington, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
Death: Died in Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
Place of Burial: Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Edward Hooker, Sr. and Elizabeth Daggett
Husband of Isabella Beecher Hooker
Father of Alice Beecher Day; Mary Beecher Burton; Edward Hooker and Thomas Beecher Hooker
Brother of Cdr. Edward Hooker, USN and Elizabeth Daggett Gillette

Occupation: Businessperson, attorney, judge, activist, newspaper man
Managed by: Ivy Jo Smith
Last Updated:

About John Hooker

John Hooker was a businessperson, judge, activist, and journalist in Hartford, Connecticut. Nationally, he is best known as a leading abolitionist; locally, he is known for for association with Nook Farm and women's rights.

A fourth-great-grandson of the Rev. Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford, John both came from and married into some of Hartford's most prominent families. His wife, Isabella Beecher, was arguably the most prominent woman in Hartford due to her combination of wealth, activism, and social flair.

Activism

John Hooker was an active abolitionist throughout his legal career. For instance, he was instrumental in helping Reverend James W.C. Pennington gain his freedom from his Maryland slave owner for $150 when Reverend Pennington was a minister at the Talcott Street Congregational Church, an African-American church in Hartford, Connecticut. This financial arrangement helped Pennington feel safe in the north, and Reverend Pennington returned from exile in Europe to continue his career as an African-American minister. Hooker was also the president of an anti-slavery committee in Hartford and organized the liberty convention on October 27, 1846.

Influenced by his wife and her sisters, Hooker was an advocate in the women's rights movement and supported his sister-in-law, Harriet Beecher Stowe, during the initiation of her activist career. With his wife, he composed "A Woman's Property Bill," published in 1877. That same year, it was enacted by the Connecticut General Assembly as the Married Women's Property Act, giving women more power within the family. The act states: "This legislation enabled a married woman to control her own property and to sue and to be sued in the same manner as her husband."

Nook Farm

Along with business partner Francis Gillette, himself a Connecticut governor and U.S. Senator, Hooker established Hartford's legendary Nook Farm neighborhood. The neighborhood was the home of some of the country's most wealthy and prominent families in the mid-1800s through the mid-1900s. It was particularly notable as a colony for artists, writers, and public intellectuals. As described by Jenifer Frank:

"In the early 1850s, brothers-in-law John Hooker and Francis Gillette purchased 140 wooded acres just west of Hartford's last trolley stop on a bend, or nook, of the winding Park River. The men built their homes and parceled out land to family members and friends. What evolved in the years after the Civil War was Nook Farm, a tightly knit community of intellectuals, political leaders, and reformers who together and individually wielded an outsized influence on the country's intellectual and social development. ..."

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John Hooker's Timeline

1816
April 19, 1816
Farmington, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
1842
1842
Age 25
1845
August 15, 1845
Age 29
1847
August 26, 1847
Age 31
Farmington, CT, USA
1901
February 12, 1901
Age 84
Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
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Hartford, Conn.
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Lawyer
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Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States