William Pinney Does It All for Ellington
Workers on the Charter farm on Crystal Lake Road, Ellington

Workers on the Charter farm on Crystal Lake Road hold freshly harvested tobacco plants in 1911. The stalks were hung in the barn to cure - Ellington Historical Society

William N. Pinney’s life was one of public service. A lifelong resident of Ellington, William served his town and his state up until his death at the age of 90. He was a man capable of assuming a vast array of offices and responsibilities—at times serving as First Selectman, organizing the Connecticut Valley Tobacco Association, helping found the Connecticut Valley Rail Insurance Company, and even serving as a school district committeeman. His legacy is one of advancing his family’s centuries-old commitment to serving the town of Ellington and its constituents.

Hall Memorial Library, Ellington, 1903

Grading the grounds of the Hall Memorial Library, Ellington, 1903. First man seated on the left is William Pinney – Hall Memorial Library and the Treasures of Connecticut Libraries

William Pinney, born in Ellington on December 21, 1865, was the great grandson of an Ellington soldier famous for fighting the Hessians during the Revolutionary War. A member of the 7th generation of Pinney’s in Ellington, William lived in a house owned by his family since 1717.

Public Servant and Advocate for Agriculture

In his early 20s, William married Annie L. Lamphere of Westerly, Rhode Island, and dedicated himself to a life of agriculture, both as a dairyman and tobacco grower. His status as a respected member of one of Ellington’s most established families, however, soon altered his career path. In 1905 he became a state road inspector and in 1915 represented Ellington in the state General Assembly. He went on to serve as an Ellington selectman for 7 years. In 1923 he succeeded Louis L. Grant as the director of the Fifth District of the Connecticut Valley Tobacco Association, continuing his life-long effort to better the lives of Connecticut’s agricultural community.

By the time Pinney reached his 70s, he was juggling as many responsibilities as he had in his youth. During the 1930s he served as a director for the Tolland County Farm Bureau, the Connecticut Valley Growers Association, the Connecticut Valley Hall Insurance Company, and the People’s Savings Bank of Rockville. William Pinney died at his home on Pinney Street in Ellington in 1956.


Learn More


“Ellington Historical Society,” 2017. Link.


University of Connecticut, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. “A Guide to the Connecticut Valley Tobacco Growers Association Records,” 2017. Link.

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