If you’ve been to the grounds of the Society’s Dr. Hezekiah Chaffee House, you might have seen a memorial plaque dedicated to Horace Hayden. This monument has been here since 2008, when it was refurbished and reinstalled in a more accessible location in the Palisado Green historic area.
Dr. Horace Henry Hayden (1769-1844), a native of Windsor, Connecticut, is regarded as a pioneer in the field of dentistry and a leader in the 19th century movement to establish a formal system of dental education. During his lifetime, dentistry evolved from the crude techniques of the barber-surgeon into a scientifically based, modern profession. Hayden played a prominent role in the formation of a dental college, a professional society of dental surgeons, and a journal of dental science.
Hayden was born in the Hayden Station area of Windsor. He was the son of Thomas and Abigail (Parsons) Hayden and a direct descendant of William Hayden, a founder of Windsor. Young Horace helped his mother take care of the family farm at Haydens while his father was away serving in the Revolutionary War, and she instructed him in his early schooling. As a teenager he spent several years travelling at sea and then returned home to learn his father’s building trades. In 1795 he consulted with Dr. John Greenwood, George Washington’s personal dentist in New York City, and was so impressed with Greenwood’s skills and methods that he began the study of dentistry himself.
By 1802 Hayden had established a successful dental practice in Baltimore. He continued to study medical anatomy and surgery as well as teaching classes in dentistry. Believing dentists should receive formal, systematic medical education, Hayden spent decades advocating for the establishment of a school for dental instruction. In 1840 he co-founded the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery with Dr. Chapin Harris and served as its first president and its first professor of dental surgery. The college was the first institution to award the D.D. S. degree and is now part of the University of Maryland.
In 1906 the fledgling Hartford Dental Society began soliciting contributions towards a memorial to honor the Windsor birthplace of Dr. Horace Hayden. It was installed on the lawn of 1228 Windsor Ave. and dedicated in 1910 with a day-long celebration on the grounds of the nearby Tunxis River Canoe Club. The original monument was a pillar of colonial red brick eleven feet high with bronze plaques and topped by a lighted globe. By 1941 the monument had fallen into disrepair, and it was dismantled during the widening and reconstruction of Windsor Avenue. One of the bronze tablets was mounted on a boulder and installed at the intersection of Hayden Station Road and Palisado Avenue, adjacent to the William Hayden Memorial Stone marking the home site of the first Hayden family in Windsor.
During Windsor’s 375th year, the stone and tablet were again cleaned and restored by the Hartford Dental Society, thanks to the resources of the James and Ella Burr McManus Trust. A number of medical and dental instruments from Hayden’s time period can be seen in the doctor’s office at the Chaffee House. Nearby, the Horace Hayden monument will continue to honor the life, work, and leadership of this foresighted Windsor native.