Frederic Edwin Church was a direct descendant of Richard Church, who was a Puritan pioneer from England who accompanied Thomas Hooker on the original journey through the wilderness from Massachusetts to what would become Hartford, Connecticut. Church was the son of Eliza (née Janes) and Joseph Church. The familys wealth came from Churchs father, a silversmith and watchmaker in Hartford, Connecticut. Joseph, in turn, was the son of Samuel Church, who founded the first paper mill in Lee, Massachusetts in the Berkshires. Joseph later became an official and a director of The Aetna Life Insurance Company. The familys wealth allowed Frederic Church to pursue his interest in art from a very early age. At eighteen years of age, Church became the pupil of Thomas Cole in Catskill, New York after Daniel Wadsworth, a family neighbor and founder of the Wadsworth Athenaeum, introduced the two. In May 1849, Church was elected as the youngest Associate of the National Academy of Design and was promoted to Academician the following year. Soon after, he sold his first major work to Hartfords Wadsworth Athenaeum.