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JN^PJ&m^ttY, LOAM 


Cornell University Library 
CS71.G87 A44 

Black Hall traditions and reminiscences. 


3 1924 029 842 089 

Ill Cornell University 
y)B Library 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

Black Hall 


Collected by 

Adeline Bartlett Allyn 

Granddaughter of Col. Charles Griswold 


The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 


Copyright, 1908, 
by Adeline Bartlett Allyn. 

(Co tbc Mematv of Ms ancestor*. 

I wish to express my sincere thanks to all my cousins 
for their kindness in furnishing material for these collections. 

A. B. A. 


"People out of the Past. Have we caught them at last? 
They elude us so fast; will they answer our call?" 

Charles Wagner has said, " Remembrance 
of the Past is a great moral and social force." 

Surely there are few subjects of more vivid 
interest than the study of our ancestors. 

This has been ably undertaken by eminent 
scholars, in our own family, but we feel the 
need of a small familiar volume, within the 
means of all, easy to hold and to read, which 
may fill a want which large and valuable books 
of reference do not quite seem to supply. 

I make no pretensions to historic value and 
authenticity. I simply tell the tales as they 
were told to me, and hope to keep in mind the 
people who used to be familiar figures in my 
own youth, and tell the stories they told. 

Having access to some writings prepared by 
loved hands, and some tales told by dear lips, 
now silent, I hope to link the future with the 
past, and to hand down to our posterity these 


memories and traditions so precious, and once 
so familiar to us. 

Again, we cannot doubt that there are few 
subjects more worthy of our vivid interest than 
the study of the noble deeds of our ancestors; 
few more inspiring to ourselves to live worthily 
that we may transmit to those coming after us 
such memories and the example of the Past. 
Indeed there is no work of imagination which 
can be so full of romantic delight as the true 
tales of the loves and quaint romances of the 
lives of these same ancestors. 

The once familiar figures have all passed on 
to a better world but it is beyond the veil, and 
they can no longer tell us anything. But as 
yet there are some still with us who can remem- 
ber some of the traditions, and we have access 
to some precious writings copied from the an- 
cient papers; and it becomes us to seize at once 
all we have left, and render it as familiar and 
accessible as we can. 

Our children and grandchildren will like to 
know the meaning of these historic names which 
some of them will continue to bear, and they 
will say, " Who were these people? " "What 
did they do?" We tell them that they lived 
on the very spots which we all know so well; 


that they were daring, true, and loving; that 
they laughed, loved, suffered, and dared, even 
as people do now. They worshiped the same 
God; they have left to us a precious heritage 
of integrity, honor and scholarly taste, more 
precious than any material legacy; and thus 
have conferred on us the obligation not to dis- 
grace our noble lineage, and surely while there 
is yet time not to allow them to pass into ob- 

On the next page you may see the map of 
Black Hall; the location of the present houses 
which we all know so well, and the indication 
of the sites of those which have now passed 
out of existence. 

The very first edifice built in Black Hall was 
the log hut which you see on the cover. This 
picture is the work of the late C. C. Griswold 
Lane, copied from a pen and ink drawing by 
him, and it forms a memorial to one whom we 
all loved for his sweet and sunny nature, and 
whom we shall never cease to mourn since he 
was taken from us in the bloom of his beautiful 
youth, to leave us only to be thankful that we 
had known him, and that he had passed on into 
a better world " in all his spirit's lightness." 

This log hut was built by Matthew Gris- 


wold, 1st, for a negro, who used to occupy it, 
before any white man dared to pass the night 
on this side of the river, for fear of the Indians. 
I understand that these dusky sons of the forest, 
while they hated and feared the " pale-faces," 
had no enmity toward negroes of a darker 
hue than themselves, and would never disturb 

This hut was called Black's Hall, and from 
this, Black Hall. 

There are several other stories to account 
for the name. One is as follows: According 
to Rees' Encyclopedia, there was a monastery 
of Black Friars near Kenilworth, England, and 
the lands were Abbey Lands. It is possible that 
the name Black Hall may have been suggested 
by Black Friars Hall. The story of the Black's 
Hall, though generally accepted in the family, 
is not entirely satisfactory. It is more natural 
to suppose that the name was taken from some 
English association, as was customary among 
our early settlers. 

Still another story is that in the parish of 
Sevenoaks, in the county of Kent, England, 
there is a place called " Black Hall Farm," and 
that may be the origin of the name. 

However, it is " Black Hall," and always has 


been such, since the memory of white men in 
Connecticut. And has always belonged to the 
Griswold family, either in name or in blood. 

To return to the map. 

i. The first house was built by Matthew 
Griswold, ist, near the residence of Mrs. W. G. 
Lane, a little south of it. This is evidenced 
by the existence at the present time of the old 
well, bearing the date of 1640. This is re- 
corded by James Griswold from the remi- 
niscences of Judge Matthew Griswold. 

2. From the same source we also learn that 
a house was built by Gov. Matthew Griswold 
for his son, John, when the latter married Sarah 
Johnson, and this is the house torn down by 
C. C. Griswold when (in 1842) he built the 
house now standing on same foundation. 

3. The Leffingwell house. 

This house stood on the knoll north of Lef- 
fingwell's Pond. It was a small house, possibly 
only a squatter's hut. The cellar was plainly to 
be seen in James Griswold's day, and in the 
memory of some of the family now living. 

The writer believed that this house, what- 
ever it was, was built by the original Thomas 
Leffingwell, and I think I have proof of this. 
I have seen and can produce the copy of a deed 


conveying land on both sides of the Connecticut 
River from Thomas Leffingwell to Matthew 
Griswold; also records of the births of several 
children, taken from the Saybrook records, with 
dates — the place is not named, but if they are 
recorded in Saybrook, and Saybrook was then 
both sides of the river, may they not have been 
born at Black Hall? There is no veil of ob- 
scurity over the figure of Thomas Leffingwell. 
He stands in the white light of authentic his- 

There was an Indian burying ground near 
the sound, south of the house built by Gov. 
Roger Griswold. Many of the graves could 
be seen previous to the September gale of 1815. 
By that gale, of which we give a full account 
later, much of the ground was washed away, 
and the bank caved in. There has been since 
no trace of the Indian graves remaining. 

4. Ensign Thomas Griswold, son of Judge 
John, built a house on the site of Roger Gris- 
wold's barn. This was called the " Lee Lay 
house," as Lee Lay married one of the daugh- 
ters of Ensign Thomas. This Lee Lay and 
his wife lived to be very old (95) and died 
in 18 12 of a fever, which carried off a number 
of old persons very suddenly. This house was 


standing until 1822, when it was pulled down 
by A. H. Griswold, and some of the timber 
was used in repairing his barn. The original 
barn, as was told by Ezra M. Champion to 
Roger Griswold, was said to have been an old 
barn in 1800. We can well see that the erec- 
tion of the house itself must have been before 
1700, but there is no tradition or record to tell 

6. Judge John Griswold, father of Gov- 
ernor Matthew, built a house exactly on the 
site of the Judge Matthew house. The present 
house is said to have been built precisely on the 
same plan to gratify Judge Matthew's father, 
Governor Matthew, who remembered his fath- 
er's house with great affection. 

6. To bring the oldest house of the Gris- 
wold's in Black Hall down to modern history, we 
will say that for two years this house was rented 
by Charles Griswold Bartlett, who opened there 
the "Black Hall School." This school has 
since been moved about a mile and a half 
farther north, and has flourished for more than 
thirty years in its present situation in the dis- 
trict known as " between the rivers." 

7. There was a small house behind the 
burial ground of Fred Champion's family, 


whose cellar could be seen in James Griswold's 
day. This was called " the Watrous house," 
but I can find no tradition about this. 

8. The " Sears house " stood in what is 
still called the "Sears lot;" it was still stand- 
ing within the recollection of Judge Matthew, 
who describes it to his great nephew, James 
Griswold, as a large fronted house with a lean- 
to roof behind. 

9. The Larrabee house. 

This was a small house standing in what was 
the garden of Col. Charles Griswold, now be- 
longing to Mrs. C. H. Griswold. When 
Colonel Charles built his house in 1825, the 
cellar was still in existence. In ploughing his 
garden, this cellar and all traces of the Larra- 
bee possession were obliterated, and near the 
spot a pine tree shilling was found, which may 
still be seen. I had thought that the veil of 
mystery hung over the name of Larrabee, but 
after much research, and many questions in dif- 
ferent quarters, I find something definite about 

In the Salisbury book I read that Phebe 
Brown married Thomas Lee, in England, of 
the renowned and illustrious family of Legh, 
in Warwickshire. They had three children. 


Thomas Lee died of smallpox on the voyage 
to America. After her arrival in this country, 
we learn that the widow, Mrs. Lee, married 
Greenfield Larrabee of Saybrook, whether East 
or West Saybrook tradition does not say. By 
her second marriage she had five children, i, 
Greenfield; 2, John; 3, Elizabeth; 4, Joseph; 
5, Sarah. After the death of Larrabee, she 
married James Cornish of Norwich and had a 
son, James, who settled in Simsbury. 

The very oldest house now standing in the 
vicinity of Black Hall is the Armstrong house; 
this was built by John Dennison, who married 
one of the daughters of Matthew Griswold, 2d, 
Patience Griswold. 

The tradition about this is as follows : The 
Dennisons were Tories and as the Griswolds 
were ardent patriots, the Dennisons became so 
unpopular that John Dennison retired from the 
family circle, and built this house, at that time 
far distant from the Griswold community in 
Black Hall. I learn from the Dennison family 
that they have no record of the Tory proclivities 
of their ancestor, John Dennison, but they tell 
me that his son, Samuel Dennison, was such a 
strong Tory that his estates in South Lyme were 
taken from him by the government, because of 


his disloyalty. I have no dates in regard to 
this transaction. 

The Griswold family in America. 

On account of the malicious conduct of Abra- 
ham Brownson, of which we will tell you later, 
all authentic records concerning our English de- 
scent have been lost to us. However, wishing 
to leave no stone unturned which may disclose 
a bit of information, I found in the Watkinson 
library in Hartford a copy of an old tomb- 
stone in Warwickshire, England. The monu- 
ment presents the supposed portraits of Thomas 
Griswold and his three wives, and bears the 
inscription as follows : 

" Thomas Greswalde of Solihull in the 
county of Warwick, gent, and of Alice, Jane 
and Isabel his wives. He died 1577. Had 
issue by Alice his first wife one sonne and seven 
daughters. Whom God grant a joyfull resur- 

Still older is the monument of Richard Gris- 
wold, very quaint indeed. A Latin inscription, 
which may be translated, " Pray for the soul of 
Ricardi Greswold, armiger," and of his wife. 
Which Ricardus died (the date is obscure) ? 
The coat of arms is carved on this tomb, and 
contains the two greyhounds on the upper left 


hand corner, combined with some other em- 
blems in other quarters of the shield. In an old 
church in London is found a tomb with this 
inscription: "Near to this monument lyeth 
buried the Body of Dorothy Greswolde, 1610, 
the only daughter of Roger Greswolde, citizen 
and Merchant Taylor of London. Which 
Roger was the third son of Richerd Greswolde 
of Solyhull in the county of Warwick, Esqr." 
Thus we see a younger son of a country gentle- 
man took up commercial life in the capital and 

The deposition of George Griswold. 

" George Griswold, aged about 67 years, 
testifieth as followeth. In his youthful years 
he lived with his father in England, in a town 
called Kellingsworth or Killingsworth in War- 
wickshire. He did severall times here (hear) 
his father Edward say that the house in which 
they then lived and lands belonging thereto 
belonged to his brother Matthew Griswold 

George Griswold made oath to this in Hart- 
ford, May 9, 1700, before an attorney. 

Joseph Curtis, Clerk. 

Judge Lane of Ohio, in his genealogy of the 


family, states that Matthew had brothers as 
follows : 

1. Thomas, remained in England. 

2. Edward, lived in Killingworth, Conn. 

3. Francis or ff ranee Grissell, lived in 

4. George, in Simsbury and Windsor, Conn. 
James Griswold says : " I do not know his 

authority for this statement, but have supposed 
that the Norwich Griswold was of the second 
generation, a son of the Saybrook or Killing- 
worth Griswold. There is a family of Gris- 
wolds in Killingworth (now Clinton), Conn. 
There was an Episcopal minister, Rev. George 
Griswold, who used to come and hold service 
in the Black Hall mission." 

Francis Griswold was an early proprietor of 
land in Bride Plain, removed from there 1659- 
60 to Norwich. 

From a record in the State Library of Con- 
necticut, at the Capitol in Hartford, I find a 
record as follows: 

" George Griswold of Kenilworth, England, 
had five sons born in England. 

"1. Thomas remained in England. 

"2. Michael b. 1597, settled in Wethers- 
field Conn. 


"3. Edward b. 1607, settled in Windsor 
Conn. 1639. 

" 4. Francis, settled in Cambridge Mass. 

"5. Matthew b. 1620 settled in Windsor, 
Saybrook and Lyme Conn." This is Matthew, 

1 St. 

The record found in the family Bible of 
Judge Matthew Griswold is as follows: 

" Matthew Griswold, the first of the name, 
came to America in 1636. Afterwards his 
three brothers came. Thomas who settled at 
Windsor, John at Wethersfield and George at 

From these three are descended all the Gris- 
wolds in this country. 


I. Matthew, 1st, went to Windsor, mar- 
ried Annah (or Hannah) Wolcott, daughter of 
the first Henry Wolcott. He was a lawyer by 
profession, though by trade a stone-cutter. He 
made a stone table over the grave of his father- 
in-law, and a note in the State Library states 
that Matthew Griswold thus commemorated 
the graves of many of the early settlers, but 
unfortunately there is no monument over his 


own last resting place in the cemetery at Say- 

Griswold was the first commissioner and jus- 
tice of the peace in Saybrook, from which we 
may be assured that he was a lawyer, though 
he had the trade of a stone-cutter. It was cus- 
tomary for the early settlers of this country to 
possess some handicraft of practical use in the 
new country. Also Burke, in his great speech 
on conciliation, tells the British Parliament that 
the Americans were well versed in the science 
of law. 

Before Major Fenwick left Saybrook to re- 
turn to England, he committed all his public 
as well as his private affairs to Matthew Gris- 
wold. The town of Saybrook formerly com- 
prised all the land now included in Lyme and 
East Lyme. Soon after the settlement of the 
affairs of Fenwick, Matthew Griswold removed 
to Black Hall, on the east side of the river, in 
the town of Lyme. 

Matthew Griswold, 1st, married Annah Wol- 
cott, and had children as follows: 

1. Sarah, married George Colton of Spring- 

2. Matthew, married Phebe Hyde. 

3. John, died young. 


4. Elizabeth, married John Rogers. 

5. Martha, married Lieut. Abraham 

Before leaving Matthew, 1st, and passing on 
to his children, of whom there are many tales 
to tell, I wish to tell one thing about him, 
which shows his advanced and liberal views in 
regard to women's rights in property. I have 
always understood that in former days a mar- 
ried woman could hold nothing in her own 
right. It was only through the agitations of 
the nineteenth century that these rights were 

But our ancestor, Matthew Griswold, was 
quite beyond his age in this respect, for there 
is an ancient deed of which this is a copy : 

"April 23, 1663, Hannah (or Annah) Gris- 
wold wife of Matthew Griswold has a portion 
of meadow land in Windsor Great Meadows. 

Twelve akers more or less this comes 

to her as part of the portion that fell to her by 
the last will of her brother Christopher Wol- 
cott Diseased out of his estate which was to be 
divided among his Relations, and this parcell 
of meadow is allowed by her husband Matthew 
Griswold to be recorded and made over to 


Annah his wife to remain to her and to her 
children and their Dispose forever." 


II. Matthew Griswold, 2d, the champion, 
was born, probably at Black Hall, in 1652. He 
built a house of eight rooms east of his father's, 
which house stood until it was blown down in 
the gale of 18 15. 

He was a man of large size and of great 
strength, which characteristics have descended 
to his remote posterity. 

Lyme was bounded on the east by the lands 
of the Niantic Indians; by New London and 
Niantic Bay. A territory of four miles in 
width, which belonged to neither, lay between 

A petition was made to the legislature to 
have it divided squarely to each town, stating 
it should be two miles to each. The petition 
was granted, the parties met to make the divi- 
sion, but could not agree. Each claimed for 
itself three miles, and to give the other but 

After some heat they agreed to " leave it to 
the Lord," and put an end to the dispute. 

Each town should appoint two champions, 


and they should meet on the contested ground 
and fight it out in a boxing match, and to whom- 
soever the Lord should give the victory should 
divide the land, and the other should be bound 
to agree. 

New London selected Mr. Hempstead and 
Mr. Chapman; and Lyme, Matthew Griswold 
and William Ely. They met and fought, and 
in both cases the Lyme champions won the con- 
test, and the land was divided accordingly. 

This was indeed a truly medieval method of 
deciding a matter. 

Matthew, 2d, married Phebe Hyde, who 
must have been extremely pretty. I wish we 
had a portrait or even a description of her 
charm. Surely only a beauty would have dared 
to be so coquettish and to play fast and loose 
with so doughty a champion as Matthew Gris- 

Let me tell you a story of their loves in Mat- 
thew's own words. 

There were found among the papers of 
Judge Matthew Griswold, the fifth of the 
name, some ancient papers. His affairs were 
arranged after his death, and that of his 
widow, by James Griswold, his great nephew, 
a rising young lawyer at the time. These 


papers were carefully copied by James, who ap- 
preciated their value. To these I have access, 
and from them I make the following copy. As 
many words are obliterated owing to their great 
age, you will have to pardon the occasional 
blanks. The following is a letter from Mat- 
thew to Mr. Burchard of Norwich, the guardian 
of Phebe Hyde. 

" Mr. Burchard 

" Respects kindly presented to yourself and 
Mrs. Burchard and thankful remem- 

brances of all your former kindnesses 
these may inform you that we are in a comfort- 
able state of bodily health I perceive by 
him that the hearts and heads of all good peo- 
ple there, are full of trouble ;. not knowing how 
soon we may de deprived of our priceless liber- 
ties, which we have so long enjoyed and 
bodily injured. I inclose a letter to P. H. if 
you would stand my friend that I may have 
it is a great deal to ask if I am 
decided. If any other man doe interfere. Lett 
me playnly know it, and if the thing should 
go on, lett me nott afterward heare her say 
that if it had nott been for the persuasion of 
friends, or out of pity for me, she might have 


married otherwise or better. Though I have 
suffered much for her Sake since I saw your 
face, not only on account of trouble from my 
own Spirit, but alsoe from opposition which I 
mette with from some friends who wish me 
well notwithstanding if she can see it 

her way to proceed and God give her a 

heart to if any In her place I 

doubt nott that she will be well beloved by 
all my friends. Sir J. (Rev. John Higginson 
the minister) designs favorably in this so mighty 
a concern. If conscience and doe not 

bind her and encourage her to 

proceed with me in marriage, but that all the 
love which she hath hitherto showed be but 
fayned, lett mee know it. Sir, I speak not of 
any of these things to hinder the proceedings. 
But being I would write my minde unto 

yourself, as to a faithful friend nott 

but I the Lord give mee 

a heart Less to mind these things which con- 
cern the outward manne ; and earnestly to seek 
the one thing needful. 

" I take leave and remain ever your devoted 
friend and serv't. 

"M. G. 

"March 15, 1683." 


Then followed a quantity of poetry, mostly 

Here are a few of the most nearly perfect 
verses : 

" And grant me this 

Token of bliss 

Some lynes to pen with speed 

That may to mee 

You doe me choose in very deed 

And if with freedom thou canst find 

We may proceed to marriage bonds. 

And bee right welcome from thy hande 

" And mee 

That I doe neglect 

With prayer been my defense 

But I have heard he said 

Which in a measure I find true 

That which the eye doth not behold 

The heart soe sorely doth not rue. 

" So art present farewell my deare 
Who art of my joye the Life 
And life's joy, Why should I feare 
If once you were my wedded wife." 

Thus we perceive that these verses, lame as 
they are, and incorporated in the letter to her 
guardian are directly to the fair maid herself. 

The next letter is addressed to Phebe. 

" Dear Heart 

" Tender of my most unfayned and Intyre 
love to you, hoping that you are in good health, 


etc. Although my present abilities of body and 
mind will not allow me to write largely unto 
you, as I should be glad to do; yet having this 
opportunity I am desirous to remind you of the 
unexpected unheard of which I 

have mett with; In the arrangement, the mo- 
tion of marriage, made by me unto yourself; 
soe very strange that I am att a great Loss of 
mind to think what the good pleasure of the 
Lord can be as a finall issue. 

" Though this I must say, if I thought you 
had not reall love and affection for mee I should 
then think it rather my duty to desist than to 
proceed, but as yet I am nott, nor cannot be 
convinced that Itt is so (or as God and thy 
owne conscience knows very well) when I had 
fully come to a conclusion in my owne minde 
never to give myself nor you any farder trouble 
in this matter yourself were pleased to tell me 
that unexpected (though welcome) news that 
you could not bear the thoughts of a finall sep- 
aration, and since when you were last at our 
side of the River you told me the same thing; 
beside many things which you have in dis- 
course told diverse of your own best freyndes, 
which gave them grounds to conclude that you 
had special Love for my person; If I had 


thought that these things had been false, I 
must have judged of according to the 

which would have commanded a period 
to all proceedings of this nature; but constant 
I believed thee, and accordingly concluded that 
hee which had Inkindled this Love in thee 
would Increase it and in good time bring us to- 
gether in the relation of man and wife. And 
hereupon gave my affections full scope, conclud- 
ing that not only I mite, but that it was my 
duty to Love her intensely for whose Sake I 
should forsake Father and Mother. And as I 
told you when I last spoke with you, I shall 
not, at this time Release any promise (and you 
to me I should not suffer at this time for your 
own sake) which has past between us; though 
I cannot desyre that you should joyne yourself 
to mee in marriage on account of pitie ; I desire 
to look to God who is able to give mee 

to all his gracious promises, which 
would be a matter of comfort (for so they are) 
I would desyre you not forget how willing 

I have been according to my capacity and op- 
portunities: so then in kindness and in way of 
requital favor mee with some lynes. I shall 
not enlarge at present, but desiring that the 
good Lord would graciously guide us to that 


which may tend to his glory and our own ever- 
lasting peace I take leave and remain 
thine and thine only in the bonds of Intyre af- 

" M. G." 

Then another lot of poetics. Cannot de- 
cipher the first stanza. And I must say that 
while Matthew's letter does express sincere, 
manly, reverent affection; and when analysed 
shows him to be a man worthy the love and con- 
fidence of any maiden, however fair she may 
have been, yet surely as a poet he cannot com- 
mand the admiration of the fastidious critic of 
the twentieth century, but we must put it all in. 
It surely gives reality to these shadowy figures 
from the Past. 

" Deceit is loathsome, though in matters small 

And quite in things that are most triviale 

But when the case amounts to such a height 

To be of such concernment and such might 

Those that will then intentionally deceive 

Shall sure a curse as their reward receive 

My dearest dear, think nott that I 

Then find it true, and nott a lie 

He's thy best friend that speaks out playne 

My dear take heed 

And make great speed 

That thou give God no great offense 


Then for my part 

A loving heart 

From thee shall be large recompense 

For why should I. 

Let not deceipt 

Cause me to wait 

But show thyself most intimate 

To him that will 

With all his skill 

Unto thy love retaliate " 

Matthew was right. Phebe Hyde did love 
him sincerely, and we have reason to believe 
that the marriage was a happy one. Later in 
life he pays tribute to her character, as he styled 
her a " Godly mother " of a wayward son. 


We have told, in enumerating the children of 
Matthew Griswold, 1st, and Annah Wolcott, 
that their youngest daughter, Martha, married 
Lieut. Abraham Brownson, or Bronson. Now 
we will relate the story of how he conferred a 
great and irreparable injury to the family of 
Griswold, and deprived us of our rights in 
England, and all proofs of the English con- 
nections and origin. 

We give the copy of an affidavit before Wil- 
liam Ely, justice of the peace, Nov. 15, 1699, 
by Henry Mervin, " that Bronson told him 


that he had a trunk of writings that were his 
father-in-law's which he said would vex his 
brother Matthew Griswold very much. I told 
him I had heard so — and I told him that I be- 
lieved that there were some weighty concerns in 
those papers for money, either in this country 
or in England; he answered that there were 
some great concerns in them, and there were 
some papers that Griswold never knew of, and 
never should." 

This concealment of title deeds to property 
was complained of to the General Court by 
Matthew Griswold in 1700. 

Had these papers been found and recorded 
they would undoubtedly have thrown some 
light on the English ancestry of the Griswolds. 

Matthew Griswold's loss of deeds was fatal 
to his claims in England. Hence, owing to the 
blind malice of Abraham Bronson, the English 
property was irretrievably lost, and with it all 
the family history connected with the transmis- 

It is a mystery which has never been solved, 
nor can any clue be found to it. What was the 
character of Bronson? What angered him 
against his brother-in-law, his wife's eldest 
brother and the head of the family? How the 


family papers came into his possession no one 
knows and probably no one ever will, in this 

I remember that James Griswold used to 
walk up from his brother's house in Black Hall 
to Lyme village over the " Meeting House 
Hills " and visit the ancient burying ground 
near the site of the old church. Here is situ- 
ated the grave of Abraham Bronson; and he 
(James) would sit on the grave of Bronson at 
midnight and try to call up his ghost to make 
him tell where he had hidden the chest contain- 
ing these priceless papers. But the old ghost 
never came, and James Griswold, greatly be- 
loved and mourned by us all, has passed on to 
where perhaps he has learned everything. 

There is hope, however, that in the later 
times, when psychical research is occupying so 
deeply the minds of scientific men, some one 
may find out that which we have so long sought 
in vain and either this generation or the next be 
able to consult our forbears, verifying our Eng- 
lish descent and claim the estates. I doubt not, 
however, that could this be done, our claims 
would be found as worthless as those of Colonel 
Pyncheon, hidden by the Wizard Maule behind 
the colonel's old portrait. 



Matthew, the third of the name, was a rather 
wild boy. He ran away to sea, underwent 
great hardships, and finally returned home to 
die under his father's roof, in the odor of 

His whole story is told in the following 
letter written by his father to the Rev. Cotton 
Mather shortly after the young man's death: 

" Dear Sir 

" Though I am an utter stranger to you, yet 
considering that it ought to be the chief and 
continual care of Every man to glorify God, I 
thought it my Duty humbly to present to you 
the following narrative, desiring you to im- 
prove on it as God shall direct. 

" This last October 'tis five years since, my 
eldest son, having a vehement desire to go to 
sea, and concluding that I would not consent 
to it, took an opportunity to make his escape 
when I was attending the General Court. I 
used my utmost endeavors to recover him, but 
he got off from Piscataqua, leaving me sorrow- 
fully to think what the Event might prove, of 
a Child's wilful forsaking the Duty of his Re- 


lations and the means of Grace, and ingulphing 
himself into the temptations of a Wicked 
World. And I was the more concerned because 
he had been but a very weakly Lad. They had 
not been long at sea before they were surprised 
by a dreadful Storm, in the height whereof the 
Captain ordered my Son to one of the Yard- 
Arms, there to Rectify something which was 
amiss, which whilst he was performing, he fully 
lost his Hold; but catching hold on a loose 
Rope, he was preserved. This proved a very 
Awakening Providence, and he looked upon 
the Mercy as greatly Enhanced by reason of his 
Disorderly Departure. Arriving at Jamaica, 
he was soon pressed on board a Man of War, 
from whence, after diverse months of Hard 
Service, he obtained a Release, tho with the 
Loss of all the Little he had. He then fell in 
with a Privateer on board of which he was Ex- 
posed into Eminent hazard of his Life in a 
hot Engagement, wherein many were killed and 
the man who stood next him was by a Chain- 
Shot cut all to pieces. At the time of this Fight 
God caused him to take up Solemn Resolutions 
to Reform his Life; which Resolutions he was 
enabled through Grace to observe. And he 
then Resolved to return as soon as might be to 


his Father's House. After a Skirmish or two 
more he was cast away. Then he was taken by 
the French and turned ashore at the Bay of 
Honduras, where he and fifteen more were 
taken by a party of Spanish Indians, led by 
a Spaniard. Having their hands now tied 
behind them, and Ropes around their necks, 
they were in that manner led to a place called 
Paten six hundred miles from the place where 
they were taken and very far within the Land, 
having no food but water and the cabbage which 
grows upon the Trees. My son had at that 
time the Fever and Ague very bad, so that 
many times every step seemed as though it 
have been his last. 

" Yet God marvellously preserved him, while 
Three men much more likely than himself per- 
ished upon the Road. Upon their Arrival to 
the End of their journey they were fast chained 
two by two ; and so continued eight months con- 
fined, and Languishing in Exquisite Miseries. 

" My son was visited with the Small Pox 
while he was in these Wretched circumstances. 

" At this time two Godly Ministers came to 
see my Family, and One of them then putting 
up a fervent Prayer with us on behalf of my 
Absent Child, he was directed into such Expres- 


sions that I was persuaded that the Prayer was 
not lost, but that my Poor Son was then in 
some Remarkable Distress. 

" Noting down the time when this Prayer 
was made. My Son was in irons, and had the 
Small Pox upon him. 

" I observed some other Things of this Na- 
ture, which Modesty directs to leave unmen- 

" Innumerable Endeavors were used in this 
time by the Father Confessors to persuade them 
to turn Papists. Sometimes promising them 
Great Rewards, at other times threatening them 
with the Mines and with Hell. Some of these 
Miserable men became Roman Catholics. 
Hereupon the man who took them Petitioned 
the Viceroy for a Liberty to sell them into the 
Mines; which was very likely to have been 
granted. But there happening an Irreconcila- 
ble Difference between the Governor of the 
place and him, the Governor then wrote to the 
Viceroy that they were honest men taken by 
the French and turned ashore, having no ill will 
and Intention against the Spaniards. The Vice- 
roy then sent a special Warrant that they should 
all be Released and care taken to send them 
down to the Seaside, there to be put aboard 


some Spanish Ship and sent to Old Spain, there 
to be delivered unto the English Consul. The 
New Proselytes hearing of this took to their 
heels, met them on the Road, went with them to 
Old Spain, leaving their New Religion behind 
them, together with a wife which one of them 
had married; and became as Good Protestants 
(to a trifle if I mistake not) as they were before. 
They were put aboard Spanish Ships, and car- 
ried prisoners to Campecha, and several other 
places in the Spanish Indies, waiting until the 
Plate-fleet went home. My Son with some of 
his Companions were put on board one of the 
galleons. In the Voyage to Spain he was seized 
with a Dreadful Fever. The Doctor having 
used his best means for him a considerable time 
at last pronounced him past recovery. How- 
ever he let him Blood, and afterward the vein 
opened of itself and bled so long that all his 
Blood seemed to be gone, and he lay for Dead. 
The Bleeding stopped and so he Quickly Re- 
covered. The Captain of the Galeon told him 
that he had no Child, and if he would Embrace 
the Catholick Faith, and be baptized into it, 
and Partake of the Mass, he would immediately 
give him Three Hundred Pounds, and put him 
into as good a way to Live as he could wish for. 


" Then the Pious Instructions of a Godly 
Mother long since gone to a better World were 
of Precious use to him. For though he was 
then lame (and not long after in danger of 
losing his leg) he was Enabled to sleight all 
these Temptations, and put his Trust in the 
Providence of God. I wish that such Experi- 
ances as these might stir up Parents to be more 
careful in catechising their children, and that 
you or some Powerful Person would move the 
Authority that, if it be possible some more Ef- 
fectual Course may be taken for the Instructing 
of Youth. My Son was Landed at Cadiz. 
From thence by the Good Providence of God 
he got a Passage to Portugal; from thence to 
New-foundland; from thence to Nantucket. 
And a Cure for his leg. Here I may not omit 
my Thankful Acknowledgement of the Kind- 
ness of some Good Peoples whose Hearts God 
stirred up to have Compassion on my Child in 
his Low Estate. There was a Gentleman from 
Boston who had some Lameness in his knees 
(whose name I have forgot) : He was in the 
Voyage from New-foundland to Nantucket 
supplied him with Money and was very kind to 
him. At Nantucket several were exceedingly 
kind to him. Entertained him at their houses 


and gave him Monies and Garments. When 
I revolve the Charity of these Good People, 
it often makes me think of what we read in 
Mark xiv;8o- (there is no such verse, he has 
made a mistake) but I have not yet had an 
opportunity to retaliate their Kindness. My 
Son coming from Rhode Island got a Passage 
from thence home by water. This after Four 
Years were near expired. I received my Son, 
the truest Penitent that ever my Eyes beheld! 
He took diverse Opportunity to discourse with 
me privately. Once he told me that he verily 
believed that he had little time to live. Said he, 
' Tho' I am in perfect health I believe I have 
little time remaining, and Since God has been 
Exceedingly Merciful to me, I greatly desire to 
spend the rest of my Time very much to his 
Glory.' In farther Discourse he told me that a 
man whom he named had done him Great 
Wrong and that he had formerly often resolved 
to revenge himself. Said he ' I now freely for- 
give him.' And another man ' to whom I have 
not behaved respectfully, I wish to ask his 
pardon.' He now quickly fell sick, and he now 
said to me. ' My business home was to make 
my peace with you, and to Dy.' 

" His whole conversation during the eight 


weeks which elapsed after his return was Ex- 
ceedingly Exemplary. Respectfully your ob't 

Matthew Griswold " 


i. Phebe, born August 13, 1684, died 
aged 19. 

2. Elizabeth, born Nov. 19, 1685; died, 

3. Sarah, born May 19, 1687; died, single, 
aged 77. 

Her tombstone may still be seen in the ceme- 
tery near Duck River, bearing this inscription, 
" Sarah Griswold — single woman." 

4. Matthew, born Sept. 15, 1688; died, 
single, 17 1 2 (the prodigal son). 

5. John, born December, 1690; married 
Hannah Lee; died March, 1773. 

6. George, born Aug. 13, 1692; married 
1st, Hannah Lynde; 2d, Elizabeth Lee. Rev. 
George Griswold of Giant's Neck. 

7. Mary, married Edmond Dorr. 

8. Deborah, married Col. Robert Denni- 

9. Patience, married John Denison. 

10. Samuel, born 1697; died, 1727, aged 
20 years. 


ii. Thomas, born 1699; died July, 1716, 
aged 16 years. 

The first and second children of Matthew, 
2d, and Phebe Hyde were as we see two daugh- 
ters who died young. Phebe, the eldest, died at 
the age of nineteen years from quinsy, con- 
tracted from sleeping in damp sheets. Eliza- 
beth, the second child, died at the age of three 
years from sleeping in the same bed. From 
this we gather that our illustrious grandmother, 
Phebe Hyde, though probably a beauty, and un- 
questionably " Godly," was a careless house- 
keeper, as she did not air her sheets sufficiently, 
and thus lost two lovely daughters, one in the 
bloom of youth and the other in infancy, from 
the same cause. 

To continue the course of the family in the 
third generation. We have told all about Mat- 
thew, 3d, and we have seen that the fifth child 
was John, born in 1690. He was for a long 
time justice of the peace, and has always been 
referred to in the family as "Judge John." 

He married Hannah Lee and had children as 
follows : 

1. Matthew, 4th, married Ursula Wolcott. 

2. Phebe, married Rev. Jonathan Parsons. 

3. Thomas, married Susannah Lynde. 


4. Hannah, married Benaja Bushnell. 

5. Lucia, married Elijah Backus. 

6. Sarah, married Judge William Hill- 

7. Clarissa, died in infancy. 

8. Clarissa, married Nathan Elliot. 

9. Deborah, married Nathan Jewett. 
10. Lydia, married Samuel Louden. 

Concerning Judge John Griswold we select 
the following eulogy from a funeral sermon : 
" He was not only a gentleman of great wealth, 
but much esteemed by his townsmen and ac- 
quaintances for his superior wisdom and in- 

He built a house where now stands the Judge 
Matthew house. This present house was built 
by Judge Matthew on the exact spot, and pre- 
cisely like his grandfather's house to gratify his 
own father, Governor Matthew, who had ten- 
der associations with his father's house. 




Matthew Griswold, the fourth of the name, 

was the son of Judge John and Hannah Lee. 

He was born in Black Hall in 17 14. He held 



the offices of king's attorney, assistant judge 
of the Supreme Court, for thirteen years lieu- 
tenant governor; also for the same term chief 
judge of the Superior Court, and one year 
governor of the state. There are many stories 
told of this Matthew. During the Revolu- 
tion he was ever an ardent patriot, and the 
tradition is that when pursued by a band of 
British soldiers he had to run. He ran up 
"Whip-poor-will Lane," and when he reached 
the Marvin house (now that of Isaac Peck- 
ham) he found Hetty Marvin sprinkling the 
homespun linen spread on the grass to bleach. 
He hid under the linen and told the lit- 
tle girl not to let the soldiers know that he 
was there. Up came the British soldiers in 
their red coats. " Did you see Griswold pass 
this way my child?" "No," answered the 
brave little maid, which was strictly true, as he 
had not passed. So the pursuers went on and 
Griswold was not taken. 

The love affairs of this same Matthew Gris- 
wold form a charming romance, and as we have 
all so often heard the story told I have only to 
refer to personal reminiscences to tell it as I 
find it also in all the narratives. He was at first 
interested in a lady at Durham, Conn. She was 


undecided and tradition hath it that she thought 
she could do better and marry a doctor, as it 
then seemed that Griswold was only a farmer. 
When he came for her final answer she hesi- 
tated and said: "I would like more time to 
consider the matter." Whereupon Matthew re- 
plied: " Madam you may have your lifetime." 
And she did, for we learn that she never mar- 
ried. Why this was so, whether the doctor 
failed to come forward, or she repented too late, 
tradition saith not. 

This unfortunate experience had the effect of 
making Matthew Griswold silent and backward 
about declaring his love a second time, we 
know not how, but he did not " wear the wil- 
low." He had a bright, pretty cousin, Ursula 
Wolcott of Windsor, daughter of Gov. Roger 
Wolcott. She appreciated the worth and dig- 
nity of his character, and determined, before 
she ever saw him, that she would marry him. 
She was visiting at his home in Black Hall, and, 
becoming convinced in her own mind of his love 
for her, she decided that she must take the 
initiative, and as she met him from time to time 
around the house she would say, " What did you 
say, Cousin Matthew? " As he at first made no 
definite response, she still would not give up 


the quest. At length meeting him on the steep, 
narrow, winding staircase, she said again 
brightly and encouragingly, " What did you 
say, Cousin Matthew?" "Oh, nothing," re- 
plied the bashful swain. " Well it is time you 
did," insisted the spirited maiden. Whereupon 
he spoke definitely, was accepted, and they 
" lived happily ever after." 

Just here it may not be out of place to insert 
something about the Wolcott family which it 
his been my good fortune to find. I read that 
the first Henry Wolcott was the son and heir of 
Sir John Wolcott of Golden Manor, England, 
which is still standing. Also a personal descrip- 
tion of Gov. Roger Wolcott by a South Wind- 
sor woman. " Several times a week he rode out 
on horseback, and always in full dress. He 
wore a suit of scarlet broadcloth. His coat 
was made long with wide skirts, and trimmed 
down the whole length with gilt buttons and 
broad gilt vellum buttonholes two or three 
inches in length. The cuffs were large and 
deep reaching nearly to the elbows, and were 
ornamented like the sides of the coat, also the 
pocket-lids with gilt vellum buttonholes and 
gilt buttons. The waist coat had skirts, and 
was richly embroidered. Ruffles at the bosom 


and over the hands were of lace. He wore a 
flowing wig, and a three cornered hat with a 
cockade, and rode slowly and stately a large 
black horse." Such was the appearance of Gov. 
Roger Wolcott, the father of our cherished 
grandmother, Ursula. Gorgeous old gentle- 
man our ancestor! How I wish we had a por- 
trait of him ! 

The family circle of Ursula Wolcott was 
most distinguished. Her father, brother, and 
nephew were governors of the state. Also her 
husband, and her son, and her cousin, Governor 
Pitkin. Six governors in her immediate kin- 
dred, besides many judges in various states of 
the Union. From her posterity we may find 
others, not mentioned here. She herself is said 
to have been a woman of great beauty, energy, 
and amiability, and I have always heard it said 
in the family that the infusion of the Pitkin- 
Wolcott lineage into the Griswold integrity 
brought in a strain of quickness, brilliance, and 
spirit which combined well with the more solid, 
sterling qualities native to the Griswold's. We 
have always believed this to be true. 

I will quote from a sermon of the time : " His 
Excellency Matthew Griswold Esqr. descended 
from a respectable family was born at Lyme 


March 25 17 14. He was not favored with a 
liberal education but was gifted with fine natural 
abilities and great natural powers of mind. At 
about twenty years of age, he commenced the 
study of Law without an instructor and acquired 
such thorough acquaintance with the profession 
that he was admitted to the bar." 

He died of a cancer at his home in Black 
Hall, April 28, 1799. His wife, Ursula, died 
in 1788, in the 64th year of her age. 

V. The children of Matthew, 4th, and 
Ursula Wolcott were : 

1. John, "Deacon John," married Sarah 

2. Matthew, Judge Matthew, married 
Lydia Ely. 

3. Roger, Governor Roger, married Fanny 

4. Ursula, died in infancy. 

5. Hannah, died in childhood. 

6. Marian, married, 1st, Charles Church 
Chandler; 2d, Judge Ebenezer Lane; 3d, Jus- 
tin Ely. 

7. Ursula, married Lynde McCurdy. 



During the war he rarely came home for 
the house was directly on the shore, and the 
British longed to take him as a hostage. He 
was governor of the state and one of the Com- 
mittee of Safety. One day he was at home — 
the cry went up — " The British are coming 
over the fields." He jumped into a meal chest 
and they threw the bags over him. His wife, 
Ursula, met the soldiers. " Search the house, 
gentlemen." But the meal bags were not dis- 


One of the Griswold's — I think it was 
Marian, daughter of Governor Matthew and 
Ursula. She had married three times, and at 
one time lived on the Post Road along which 
the first of our soldiers were to pass on the way 
to Boston. She and her servants lighted the 
great brick oven, made and baked bread all 
night, and gave the loaves to the tired and 
hungry men, who could not stop to eat but 
took them as they passed. 

After the death of Governor Roger, his fam- 
ily felt the keen pinch of poverty. One winter 


the girls had no warmer dresses than blue and 
white checked cotton, but three of the girls mar- 
ried lawyers and two went into the wilds of 
Ohio, where there were Indians. One of my 
great aunts, Mrs. Lane, used to tell me a story of 
sitting alone in her little house at twilight, when 
her husband was absent on circuit, the door 
opened and a tall Indian came in. He showed 
no violence at all. She smiled bravely up at him, 
and after a little stay he passed on. 

Deacon John Griswold was born in Lyme (or 
Black. Hall), April 2, 1752. He was a man of 
great size and immense strength. Tradition 
says of him that he once knocked down a horse 
with a single blow of his fist. Also that his 
weight was so tremendous that he broke the 
back of a horse on which he rode. He married 
Sarah Johnson, and thus came into the Gris- 
wold family the Diodati connection, which is as 
follows: The Diodati family in America is 
first represented by William Diodati, who came 
over about 17 17, and bought land in New Ha- 
ven, April 23, 17 17. He married, February 6, 
172 1, Sarah Dunbar, daughter of John Dunbar. 
His only surviving child, Elizabeth Diodati, 
married Rev. Stephen Johnson. Her daughter 
married John Griswold, as above. 


The children of Deacon John Griswold and 
Sarah Johnson were as follows : 

1. Diodati Johnson, married Sarah Colt. 

2. Ursula, married Richard McCurdy. 

3. Elizabeth, married Jacob Barker Gurley. 

4. Sarah, married John Lyon Gardiner, 7th 
Lord of the Manor of Gardiner's Island, the 
only entailed estate in America. 

5. John, married, 1st, Mary Elizabeth 
Huntington; 2d, Louisa Wilson. 

6. Mary Ann, married Levi H. Clark. 

7. Charles Chandler, married Elizabeth 
Griswold of Giant's Neck. 


Roger Griswold was born in Black Hall, 
1762; we suppose in the house that was blown 
down in the gale of 18 15, but we have no 
knowledge of that. He entered Yale at the age 
of fourteen years; graduated, 1780; studied 
law in his father's office, and began the practice 
of the profession in Norwich. He married 
Fanny Rogers, daughter of Col. Zabdiel 
Rogers, and of very illustrious lineage, of which 
we will tell more later on. Roger Griswold 


was elected to Congress five times, from 1795- 
1805. In 1798 he had a violent personal en- 
counter with Matthew Lyon, the famous Ver- 
mont politician. Lyon was undoubtedly the ag- 
gressor, but an attempt to expel him from the 
House was unsuccessful. 

President Adams offered Griswold the posi- 
tion of secretary of war in his cabinet, but he 
declined the office, preferring, we may suppose, 
the practice of law in his native state. He was 
chosen a judge of the Supreme Court, and re- 
mained on the bench for two years. He was a 
presidential elector in 1809, when he voted for 
Pinkney and King — the Federalist candidate. 
In 181 1 he received the degree of LL.D. from 
Harvard University, and in 18 12 from Yale. 

Unfortunately there was no portrait ever 
painted of either of the Governor Griswolds, 
therefore, the State Library does not contain 
a likeness of any of our blood, except that of 
Gov. Oliver Wolcott. 

Governor Roger Griswold is thus described 
by a contemporary: " he was a very handsome 
man, with large flashing eyes, a commanding 
figure, and majestic mien, he seemed by his out- 
ward presence, born to rule." 

In 1 8 1 1 he was elected governor, and served 


but a year and a half. During his administra- 
tion President Madison made a requisition on 
the state for four companies of troops for gar- 
rison duty, but the governor declined to furnish 
them on the ground that " they were not needed 
to repel invasion." 

Dying in office, his native state erected a 
monument to him, now standing in the little 
family cemetery at Black Hall. This bears the 
following inscription : 

" He was respected in the university as an 
elegant classical scholar. Quick discernment, 
sound reasoning, legal science, manly eloquence 
raised him to the first eminence at the bar. Dis- 
tinguished in the national council, among the 
illustrious statesmen of his age, revered for his 
inflexible integrity and pre-eminent talents, his 
political course was highly honorable — his 
fame and honor were the just rewards of noble 
action, and of a life devoted to his country — 
His memory is embalmed in the hearts of sur- 
viving relatives and of a grateful people. 
When this monument shall have decayed his 
name will be enrolled with honor among the 
great, the wise, and the good." 



(Mostly from the notes of Miss L. S. W. 

I have told that Gov. Roger Griswold mar- 
ried Fanny Rogers, daughter of Col. Zabdiel 
Rogers of Norwich. Hers was a most illus- 
trious lineage. On her father's side she was 
directly descended from John Rogers, dean of 
the Church of England, eminent scholar, and 
assistant translator of the Bible with Tyndale 
and Miles Coverdale. First martyr to the 
Protestant faith in the reign of Queen Mary. 

Also Col. Zabdiel Rogers married Elizabeth 
Tracy, and her lineage runs back through va- 
rious illustrious Tracys, through Baldwin, 
Count of Flanders, to the Emperor Charle- 
magne; through Saxon kings to Alfred the 
Great and his grandfather, Egbert, king of 
the West Saxons. 

Lofty descent this, both for heaven and earth; 
but we must now confine our attention to Ameri- 
can history. Fanny Rogers was born away 
back in the eighteenth century, about 1769. 
She remembered at Norwich the dashing past 
of the horseman who brought the tidings of 
Lexington and Concord, her father was Colonel 
Rogers, in the thick of preparation. 


She had curious and vague remembrance of 
going to a house, where they pulled up a trap 
door. This woman went down into the cellar 
and she saw ladies drinking something out of 
cups. She always supposed them to be guilty 
and unpatriotic persons drinking tea. Fanny 
Rogers was invited by her step-grandfather, 
Parson Snow of Providence, to " entertain the 
fine gentleman." This was Count Custine. 

In November, 1782, the officers of the French 
army were quartered on the principal citizens 
of Providence, and Count Custine fell to the 
share of Parson Snow as a guest. Annals of 
the period in a Providence paper have the fol- 
lowing notices : "Nov. 18. The French army 
commanded by his Excellency Count Rocham- 
beau arrived here from the westward. Nov. 
23. A very splendid ball was given by his Exc. 
Count Rochambeau to the ladies and gentle- 
men of the town. Dec. 16. A public dinner 
was given by his Exc. the Governor and the 
Hon. Council to the General and Field officers 
of the French army, now in town, The Mar- 
quis de Vaudreuil and principal officers of the 
fleet." Count Custine seems to have been full of 
charm. When the day came for the army to 
leave town, he asked Fanny Rogers to stand 


on the stoop that he might have a last look at 
her. As they passed her Custine saluted her, 
bowing low : officers and soldiers followed suit, 
while pretty blushing young Fanny made cour- 
tesy after courtesy. She always ended this story 
in a sad tone, " And my dear his head was taken 
off in the French Revolution," raising her hand 
to her throat. 

" Adam Phillippe de Custine, who had served 
in America with Lafayette, welcomed the Revo- 
lution in France. He had fought battles in its 
cause, and won them across the Rhine. He 
was arrested on account of the loss of Mayence 
on the 22nd July 1793, was removed on the 
30th to Conciergerie and on the 17th August 
he was brought to trial. Condemned on the 
27th, he was condemned and guillotined on the 
following morning. His son's wife, Louise 
Melanie Delphine de Sabran wrote to implore 
him to die as a good Catholic; he had already 
resolved on doing so, had received absolution 
from the Abbe Sothringer chaplain of the Con- 
ciergerie who though a ' constitutional priest ' 
was entitled to administer the sacraments. The 


good Abbe accompanied the compte to the scaf- 
fold reading prayers and giving him the crucifix 
to kiss. The Jacobins were incensed at this 
pious and happy end, and arrested both the 
priest and the daughter-in-law. Later the priest 
was set free, but the daughter was imprisoned. 
She escaped in the dress of the jailor's daugh- 
ter, and being threatened by a turbulent mob, 
an unknown woman lent her infant as a pro- 
tection. After escaping the mob, Delphine 
handed the child back to the mother and got 
away. They had not exchanged a word. Her 
husband had been guillotined, but she lived un- 
til 1826." 

My friend and cousin, Miss Perkins, who has 
given me these notes, can remember a little high- 
heeled shoe, long since disappeared, which Fanny 
Rogers wore in her youth at the French balls. 
She said that she had to walk down hill back- 
wards when she had it on. The thin dresses 
they wore in those days in great, draughty 
rooms, heated only by wood fires in open fire- 
places, seem suicidal to us. Thin French or 
India muslins and a little gossamer scarf over 
the shoulders, no real undergarments, a linen 
slip and a petticoat. And thus they rode on 
horseback many miles often. 


There is a tradition in the family that Fanny 
was such a coquettish and captivating person 
that Governor Roger did not like to leave her 
behind unprotected amid the gayeties of Nor- 
wich, when he was in Congress. So he took, 
her behind him on a pillion to the old home, 
built the house now standing and installed her 
as mistress. The story is told that when dull 
and lonely, Governor Roger would take his 
violin, play a minuet, and he and Fanny would 
dance up and down the long kitchen. Later on 
the children came, and there was enough to fill 
their hearts and heads. I am sorry I cannot 
remember this bright grandmother, except as 
blind and very infirm. But others have been 
kind to recall and tell me these stories. They 
can remember how she used to sing old songs 
and ballads in a clear, high, sweet voice, and 
how all the family used to sing together in parts 
around the fire, singing catches and glees 
brought from England by Cap. Augustus 

Now I must bring my family reminiscences 
down to the children of Gov. Roger Griswold 
and Fanny Rogers. 

Matthew Griswold, the sixth of the name, 
was born in Norwich, and lived there until his 


father's death. He was beginning the study of 
medicine, and full of interest and ambition in 
his studies. But the premature death of his 
father left his mother and the younger children 
without a protector; so he gave up his plans, 
came home to take charge of the farm and de- 
voted his life to duty. But it never quenched 
his spirit — he never knew an aged moment. I 
remember him well — tall, thin, active as a boy 
of twenty years, full of a genial wit, and a fine 
story teller. He had a way when making some 
specially delightful point of giving a light, 
quick stamp that gave poignancy to the joke 
or bright story. A brave, gallant man he was, 
and a noble son. He was an extensive and suc- 
cessful proprietor of shad fisheries in the mouth 
of the river, where he used to go out with his 
boats and nets to a pier and catch large quanti- 
ties of the favorite Connecticut River shad. I 
have been told that whenever a thousand shad 
were caught at one haul, they used to fire a 
gun from the pier to announce the fact. 

He married Phebe Ely of North Lyme, who 
survived him and lived to be over a hundred 
years old and died a very few years since. Be- 
fore her death there were living in the collateral 
line five generations. To paraphrase the old 


saying, she might have said, " Rise niece and 
go to thy daughter, for they daughter's daugh- 
ter hath got a daughter." Her niece had two 
great granddaughters. We consider this a very 
rare fact. This great aunt was of a rare spirit, 
remarkably strong, serene, and gentle, a poised 
character. She had much to endure, for in her 
early married life housekeeping on a farm was 
a strenuous calling. She carried it on with a 
calm, unruffled temper and great ability. She 
brought up a grand family of daughters, noble, 
dignified, and accomplished gentlewomen, who 
cared for her last years with entire devotion, 
and now live in the old home of Gov. Roger 
Griswold. Her one son is the Hon. Matthew 
Griswold of Erie, Penn., several years member 
of Congress from his district. 

But I must not omit to tell about Ensign 
Thomas Griswold and the " Black Hall boys, ' 
for these were among the amusing stories which 
used to be told. Ensign Thomas was one of 
the sons of Judge John and Hannah Lee. He 
married Susannah Lynde, and built a house 
where now stands Roger Griswold's barn, which 
we mentioned on the map. 

Ensign Thomas had six daughters, who were 
called the " Pleiades " on account of their 


great beauty, and the " Black Hall boys " be- 
cause they were fond of and skilled in athletic 
sports. Such was the flow of their spirits that 
they were full of pranks. Their names were 
as follows: 

1. Phebe, born 1743; married Col. Dyer 
Throop, and received from her father the 
" Throop lot," whether or not he built a house 
for her tradition saith not, but the field has 
always retained the name. 

2. Lucy, born 1745; married Richard 

3. Lois, born 1747; married Samuel 

4. Sarah, born 1749; married Col. David , 
Fisher Sill. 

5. Lovisa, born 1754; married Lee Lay. 

6. Anne, born 1757; died 1760. 

These maidens attracted many suitors, who 
were not frightened away by their larks, as we 
see every one married except the youngest, 
Anne, who died in infancy. We will tell of 
some of their tricks. One suitor left his horse 
fastened near the door while he paid his court 
to the young beauty of his choice. Meanwhile 
her mischievous sisters unbuckled the saddle 
girths, and when the enamoured youth mounted 


his horse to return home, he found himself left 
sitting on the saddle on the ground while the 
steed careered away. Another trick was to lean 
from an upper window and, with a fish-hook, 
catch off the hat of a young man, as with a 
beating heart he raised the knocker to announce 
his arrival to his beloved. One of these girls 
was so capricious that after giving her promise 
to her lover, preparing her trousseau, the wed- 
ding guests were assembled, even the parson 
was in the house. The bride ran away and 
hid in the cornfield. The young man and all her 
family followed her into the obscurity of the 
corn and used all their persuasions to induce 
her to carry out her promise. At first she was 
obdurate, but at length the arguments and 
pleadings overcame her reluctance and she re- 
turned to the house, following the now delighted 
bridegroom, who ran on crying to the minister, 
"Hurry up! she says she will; she says she 
will." And she did, though tradition does not 
say which one this was. 

There were some unique characters in Black 
Hall before my day, but I heard so many 
stories about Diodate Griswold that I felt he 


was one of whom I must find out his story and 
relate it. 

He was a very handsome man, who grad- 
uated at Yale in 1793, and had a brilliant gift 
in oratory and conversation, an elegant and 
courtly manner. His love of dress was mag- 
nificent beyond that of Oliver Goldsmith, of 
whom the story is told that he went to his 
bishop to apply for ordination wearing a pair 
of scarlet breeches. The bishop was so offended 
at this breech of propriety that he sent Gold- 
smith away to try his fortunes in another pro- 
fession. However, the subject of this sketch 
displayed his love for gorgeous costume in a 
more appropriate sphere. We are told that 
at a ball in New Haven, where he had shown 
himself as the gayest and most admired of the 
beaux, he appeared first in a black satin costume 
and later in the evening, after a brief absence, 
he again showed his elegant figure and hand- 
some face in one of peach color. We hear that 
later in life, arrested for debt by his tailor, his 
brothers were obliged to pay up his debts, and 
that by his convivial habits he so wasted his 
patrimony that in his latter years he was en- 
tirely dependent on his brothers, and ended his 
life in an insane asylum in Hartford. 


Sally Colt was a very beautiful girl, of a 
warm heart and high spirit. I have heard her 
story told by her friend, Fanny Leffingwell of 
Hartford. She gave her heart and promised 
her hand to a young gentleman of good family 
and dignity of character. Diodate Griswold 
was attracted to her and made ardent love to 
her, but she refused him and made ready for 
her marriage with the suitor of her choice. 
The wedding day was fixed; and, bidding her 
a tender farewell, her lover was obliged to 
leave her to attend to some important business 
in central or western New York, hoping soon to 
return to claim his happy bride. But he, alas, 
was taken suddenly ill with a fever, became de- 
lirious, so that he could not even tell his own 
name, surely not that of his fiancee, nor the fact 
of his immediate marriage. Meanwhile the 
lovely, high-spirited girl was so mortified and 
angered by his apparent neglect that she was 
beside herself with injured pride and disap- 
pointment. Now was the chance for the wily 
tongue and brilliant persuasive powers of the 
lover whom she had refused; and he used them 
all with signal ability. He fed the flame of her 
anger and touched her pride, telling her all 
manner of stories to account for the absence of 


the expected and missing bridegroom; with 
vast tact and skill bringing her to contrast his 
devotion and tender worship with the desertion 
of the absent one, until at length she consented 
to marry him, and did so hastily. When too 
late to retract, her chosen lover returned and, 
after a full explanation, she learned how she 
hed been deceived, how misunderstanding and 
deceit had wrecked two lives. She soon learned 
that she was irrevocably bound to one whom 
she had never loved and found was entirely un- 
worthy of trust and respect. It was not long 
before they were separated and she went away 
to pass the remainder of her saddened life far 
from the scenes and friends of her youth. She 
lived long among strangers, but made many 
friends who learned to love and respect her; 
but all joy was blighted, her life was one of 
sadness and disappointment, begun so full of 
hope and promise. 

Judge Matthew Griswold married Lydia Ely 
of Lyme, Mount Archer, in the north part of 
the town, since divided. 

Matthew Griswold, the fifth of the name, re- 
sided in Black Hall, a large portion of which 
he owned and cultivated. He had excellent 
judgment and a thorough knowledge of the law, 


and would have been eminent in his profession 
but for the defect of stammering in his speech, 
which hindered his speaking in public. He had 
such a fine reputation for his legal knowledge 
that a number of distinguished men studied un- 
der his instruction, among whom I can mention 
Judge Ebenezer Lane of Ohio; Judge Henry 
M. Waite of Connecticut, father of the late 
chief justice of the United States; his nephews, 
Roger Griswold of Ashtabula, Ohio, and 
Charles of New London and Lyme, Conn. 

In order to explain fully the individuals con- 
cerning whom some confusion has arisen, I will 
specify that there were two Charles Chandler 
Griswolds. I do not feel sure which of these 
was the older, but will mention first the son of 
Deacon John. 

He went to New York and engaged in mer- 
cantile pursuits with great success. He married 
Elizabeth Griswold of the Giant's Neck branch 
of the family. After accumulating a handsome 
fortune, he retired, settled in Black Hall and, 
in 1842, built the new and beautiful house, now 
the residence of Mrs. W. G. Lane. This was 
built precisely on the site of the one built and 
occupied by his father. He lived to a good old 
age, and was a familiar figure in my childhood 
at Black Hall. 


We have said that " Cousin Charles C." mar- 
ried Elizabeth Griswold of Giant's Neck, the 
descendant of Rev. George Griswold. I wish 
to insert some personal recollections of this 
lady. She was, even in age, a handsome 
woman, slender, straight as an arrow, fine, well 
chiselled features and sparkling black eyes. 
And so neat! I have been in Holland, a place 
which is said to be the cleanest in the world; 
but it did not astonish me, who had passed the 
early years of my life next door to Cousin 
Elizabeth! Not only her house, but her lawn, 
the green in front, her barn indeed showed 
never a cobweb or speck of dust. Her entire 
place was so clean as to be truly awe-inspiring 
to the neighbors' children, who, conscious of 
the imperfection of little dusty shoes, trod " deli- 
cately," like Agag in the Bible, when sent to 
carry the mail or some message over the spot- 
less flag-stones. I remember a wonderful cup- 
board which was sometimes opened to show 
beautiful china, and sometimes, if I had been 
very good, or had brought some especially wel- 
come letters, or perhaps " Godey's Lady's 
Book " or the " New Lork Ledger," from out 
that cupboard would be taken an orange, or 
some rare and delicious candy from New York, 


and I was bidden to put it in my pocket (we 
had pockets in those days). Also I remember 
when ill with the measles or some kindred dis- 
order, there came over a delicate bowl, covered 
by an equally exquisite saucer, containing some 
most delicious custard or jelly for the little sick 

Again I remember one very red-letter day 
when Mrs. Ethelinda Griswold of Giant's 
Neck, Cousin Elizabeth's mother, invited the 
Black Hall relatives to pass the afternoon and 
take tea at Giant's Neck. No one can imagine 
from the present appearance of that degen- 
erated spot how beautiful it was in my child- 
hood, though there are still some who can 
remember. The little gambrel roofed house 
nestling among the rocks looking out upon the 
bay, surrounded by lilac bushes and lovely old 
fashioned flowers, with the blue blue bay in 
front, and the little islands dotting the sea, all 
radiant in the June sunshine. It seemed the most 
beautiful and romantic spot I could ever imagine. 
And such a tea ! We never meet such " loaf 
cake " and raised biscuits, such amber and crim- 
son preserves;, only in Mrs. Whitney's tales are 
such toothsome delicacies. After tea we sat in 
the twilight on the fragrant porch, and I 


listened to reminiscences of Cousin Elizabeth's 
youth. And she told me of a riding party when 
my mother was young, when she and my father 
rode out with some other young people; and, 
after such a tea as we had just enjoyed, riding 
home in the moonlight they became engaged. 
How pleasant it all was ! and how lovely was 
" Giant's Neck! " For many years I could not 
pass on the train without a pang of regret at 
seeing this charming spot turned into a manu- 
factory of fish fertilizers. The loathsome odor 
of fish pumice pervading the air once fragrant 
with the sweet breath of the sea and of the 
sweet garden flowers. 

I have said that there were two Charles 
Chandler Griswolds, and have told you about 
Cousin Charles C. The other one was the son 
of Governor Roger Griswold and my own 
grandfather. He died years before I was born, 
but my mother and grandmother have given 
me a full description of him, and I have read 
his journal and his letters, so I can tell about 
him. He studied law under the instruction of 
his uncle, Judge Matthew Griswold, and was 
admitted to the bar. He married Ellen Eliza- 
beth Perkins, youngest child of Judge Elias 
Perkins of New London. He at first practiced 


law in New London, but after a few years came 
to Black Hall and built the brick house, in 
1822, now the residence of Mrs. Charles H. 
Griswold, and her son or his grandson, John 
Hubert Griswold. 

After these two cousins, bearing the same 
identical name, returned to live as near neigh- 
bors in the old home confusion was trouble- 
some; therefore, my grandfather dropped en- 
tirely the use of his middle name, and as he had 
officiated as governor's aid to his father, Gov. 
Roger Griswold, he was thenceforth known as 
" Col. Charles " Griswold. 

The latter was a man, as I have been told, 
of a tall, slender form, fine features, beautiful 
dark blue eyes, which have been hereditary in 
his family, shown in all his children and in some 
of his great-grandchildren. He was of a quiet, 
reserved temper, of scholarly tastes and acquire- 
ments. He went to England again and again; 
and his journal shows the impressions on a culti- 
vated mind made by the scenes and historic ob- 
jects in the mother land, clothed in correct and 
beautiful English. 

While in England during one of his visits 
he learned of the destruction by fire of the old 
church on the " Meeting House Hills," and he 


took pains to make designs from one of the 
churches near London (St. Michael's, I be- 
lieve), made or planned by Sir Christopher 
Wren, and brought these to Lyme. 

After these designs was made the beautiful 
edifice which was destroyed on the night of 
July 3, 1907. This church has always been 
considered unique in its classic and beautiful 
proportions, and sincerely loved and treasured 
by us all. It is gone, but fortunately there are 
preserved many beautiful paintings of it done 
by the skillful hand of several of the gifted 
artists who of recent years have made their 
home in Lyme, attracted here by the pic- 
turesque scenery of the vicinity. 

Col. Charles Griswold also planted the 
avenue of elms which give such a charm to the 
entrance to Black Hall, and other noble trees 
about his house. The trees around the church 
were also planted by him. Only a few years 
since three majestic trees, the finest of all in the 
row behind C. H. Griswold's house, were blown 
down by a cyclone. It was deeply impressive 
to stand and mourn the loss of those old friends 
of my childhood, like fallen heroes. The 
family, aided by other friends, have searched 
in vain for the original plans of the church, 


for they cannot be found. There is no doubt, 
however, of the fact that Colonel Charles 
brought them, and that the church was built 
after these designs. It has always been spoken 
of in the family, and though there is now no 
one left who can remember the building of the 
church (in 18 17) , all the older people who re- 
member being told, by eye witnesses, know of 
the truth of this statement. Col. Charles Gris- 
wold was the first person to organize a Sunday 
School in Lyme. 

I have said that Col. Charles Griswold mar- 
ried Miss Ellen E. Perkins, daughter of Judge 
Elias Perkins of New London. She was a lady 
of cultured tastes, wide reading, and acute 
literary judgment. Of her may be quoted the 
rather trite saying, " to know her was a liberal 
education." Her influence was such as to raise 
the standard of thought all about her. She was 
a sincere Christian, though a woman of un- 
trammelled thought; a sincere lover of the 
Bible, and a conscientious observer of the sanc- 
tity of the Sabbath. On this day she always 
required a study of the " Assembly's Cate- 
chism," and that only " Sunday books " should 
be read. This was no privation, as she had a 
store of delightful books which were included 


under this head. First, a large, illustrated 
Bible, from which the wondrous lore of the 
Old Testament became familiar to us as a 
pleasure not surpassed by the "Arabian 
Nights." Also the beautiful story of "Pil- 
grim's Progress," which great allegory was 
read by us as a romance second only to Ivanhoe. 
She always allowed for Sunday reading the 
works of Mrs. Sherwood. " The Lady of the 
Manor," delightful details of eighteenth cen- 
tury life in England, France, and India. I 
rarely see, among the floods of modern histori- 
cal romance, anything which equals these. On 
other days she used to entrance us from the 
stores of her wonderful memory. She knew 
by heart Scott's " Lady of the Lake " entire. 
When I was a tiny child I can remember sitting 
on her knee before the fire in the long room 
listening entranced to her recital of this delight- 
ful poem. My memory always recalls her 
voice ringing out with enthusiasm in the Bat- 
tle of Beal-au-Dune or melting in tenderness 
in the parting of Ellen and her father. One 
of my first memories is of standing at her knee 
and following her knitting needles over the 
words of the 125th Psalm in a large print 


There is a sweet miniature of her, in the pos- 
session of her first great-granddaughter, show- 
ing a piquant profile, bright hazel eyes, a skin 
so fair that the painter said that the ivory 
needed no tint to depict it. A little plump face, 
lovely fair curls drawn up from the neck behind 
and falling over her head and face. In age she 
was a tiny figure, delicate extremities, small fea- 
tures, the same sparkling eyes ; wearing in front 
of a delicate lace cap, either black or white, ac- 
cording to the occasion, little silvery curls. 

Despite her diminutive aspect she had a 
large and noble spirit. Family discipline was 
maintained in perfection and the many bereave- 
ments of her life were borne with strong resig- 
nation and lofty faith. She suffered many 
griefs : her husband was taken from her in the 
prime of life; her father, brother, and sister; 
her three lovely little ones in infancy; her 
favorite, Joseph, in youth, the sweetest gentle- 
man I ever knew; and, amid the strife of war, 
her poet, scholar, and hero, John. But her 
faith was strong through all, and though she 
taught in words the theology of Calvin, she 
based her life on the love of the Divine Father 
and was thus sustained. 

Among the neighbors, outside of the family 


circle, she was spoken of as " Miss Ellen " or 
the " Widder Ellen." 


On the first day of December, 1806, the 
citizens of Black Hall decided that a school- 
house was needed in that vicinity, and on the 
4th of July, 1906, the centennial anniversary 
was celebrated with great distinction. A fine 
paper was read by Mr. Moss, sent by the Hon. 
Matthew Griswold of Erie, Penn., who had re- 
ceived his earliest instruction at this little, old 
schoolhouse. This was a most enjoyable paper, 
full of interesting reminiscences, which he was 
so well qualified to give as he had entered this 
schoolhouse at the early age of three and a half 
and later had taught there. A very witty piece 
of poetry was also read on this occasion. The 
original subscription paper was produced, and 
of this I will here give a copy: 

" We, the subscribers agree to build a school- 
house for the eighth school district in the first 
Society of Lyme, of the following discription 
viz. to be seventeen feet in length, and fourteen 
feet width in the clear, and to be seven and a 
half feet between joints, to be covered with pine 



boards as high as the desks, and plastered with 
lime mortar above and overhead, to have three 
windows, and the outside door to open into an 
entry by the side of the chimney, and a closet 
on the other side of the chimney. The house 
to be placed on the parade where the two roads 
meet in the District. And we agree to defray 
the expense of the house in the proportion an- 
nexed to our names respectively. 

" In witness whereof we have hereunto set 
our names, this first day of December 1806. 

"Lee Lay one eighth 

"Matthew Griswold — one quarter 

" Roger Griswold — one third 

" Diodate J. Griswold — one eighth." 

And since then the old school-house has been 
devoted to the purpose for which it was de- 
signed so long ago, by those men long since 
passed away. And to quote the words of the 
Hon. Matthew Griswold, " Of the scholars of 
my time I can say but little, they are mostly 
if not all gone — There were pleasant fellows 
and pretty girls among them, who have lived 
unselfish lives and so far as I recall were good 
citizens. No doubt the time spent in the old 
school house had its influence for good, and did 


its share in forming character that helped them 
to stand for the right." 


We have referred to this tremendous gale 
before as obliterating all traces of the ancient 
Indian burying ground and as destroying the 
house of eight rooms built by Matthew Gris- 
wold, 2d. 

The following account was copied from the 
journal of Col. Charles Griswold, who was an 
eye witness : 

"Saturday, Sept. 23, 18 15. 
" This day occurred the most violent tornado 
and the highest Flood-tide ever known since 
the settlement of this State. It commenced 
about seven A.M. and continued until twelve 
M. The gale was from the S. E. The conse- 
quence was that the waters of the Sound were 
heaped up, and thrown with immense fury on 
the shores. Such a swell of waters, tide and 
surf no inhabitant had ever witnessed. It came 
on rolling over all our high banks and inun- 
dating our fields in a manner that was perfectly 
terrific. The salt spray was scattered all over — 
the country and vegetation for miles from the 


sea became salted — The tide was about five 
feet higher than usual. The Gale prostrated 
vast quantities of forest and fruit trees; the 
face of the country is essentially altered and 
denuded. Great numbers of buildings are also 
demolished by the fury of the wind. Pro- 
digious damage is sustained on the Sea Coast 
from New York to Portland." 

Tradition tells us that window panes as far 
as Salem, Conn., were so incrusted with salt as 
to be entirely obscured. 

We have spoken of Capt. Augustus Henry 
Griswold, who was for many years commander 
of some of the fine sailing vessels, carrying 
goods and passengers from New York to Eng- 
land and sometimes to China. He also has 
left journals telling of his adventures. Through 
the kindness of his granddaughter, Miss Lilian 
Griswold, I have been permitted to read a thril- 
ling account of a shipwreck. While he was a 
supercargo he suffered a shipwreck on the At- 
lantic Ocean. The vessel was lost ; the captain 
and sixteen men were crowded in an open boat, 
and after enduring terrible privations for many 
days, they were at last landed at Fayal, on the 
Azores Islands. There they met with hospi- 


tality from the American consul, Mr. John A. 
Dabney, who treated them kindly, gave them 
food, clothes, and shelter, and at length ar- 
ranged for their return home. Capt. A. H. 
Griswold married Miss Elizabeth Lansdale, 
who was a very pretty English girl ; he built the 
picturesque stone cottage, behind the hill, look- 
ing towards the sea. He was much interested in 
the cause of temperance in the early days of 
temperance reform, and used to give able ad- 
dresses for this cause. There is still standing 
a cairn, erected on the top of the hill between 
his house and the road, and it was always called 
" the top of Mt. Temperance." He brought 
home some fine prints of Raphael's cartoons on 
scriptural subjects, still in the possession of his 
grandson and granddaughter, Edward and 
Lilian Griswold. The stone cottage is still stand- 
ing, but the grandchildren have made copious 
additions which have rendered the old house 
much more convenient and commodious. 



" The great delight of these child-days was 
the coming of Grandmother Griswold, one of 
the gayest and brightest of old ladies. 

" My very first remembrance is her teaching 
me grand manners. It was suggested that when 
I was old enough I was to go to Mme. 
Chegary's school in New York (my good fairy 
interfered and I went to Miss Green's). 

" Grandmother used to go through elaborate 
ceremonies in connection with my presentation 
to the French dame. She would sit solemnly in 
a chair and I would enter the room and make a 
courtesy and otherwise comport myself in a so- 
ciety manner. Then I was put in the chair, and 
Grandmother would come in and make the dear 
old world courtesy and so we would play hour 
after hour. Or she would sing in a high clear 
sweet voice old fashioned songs, Mother join- 
ing in with her fine contralto. Mother used to 
tell me that when the big family of her brothers 
and sisters was at home, they would sit about 


the big wood fire in Black Hall and sing catches 
and glees and old English songs. One of the 
brothers, Uncle Henry, used to bring them 
from England, as well as new books. He 
brought Ivanhoe and Waverly, when all the 
world was reading and wondering who wrote 
them. Mother would ask ' anything new by the 
Great Unknown?' (Her mother was Marian 
Griswold, daughter of Gov. Roger, who mar- 
ried Thomas Perkins, and the great Aunt of 
the collectors of these memories, A. B. A.) 

" Grandmother was in these days about sev- 
enty years old. (She died in '63, aged ninety- 
four.) During the twenty years of her bright 
old age, she was full of abundant life. A bril- 
liant talker, full of stories of earlier times. I 
can quite believe what they said that as a young 
woman she was such a captivating person. My 
mother told the story of her father's funeral. 
He was beautiful in death. A faint color in 
the cheeks as in life, robbed Death of its terror 
to her childish mind. (We have told else- 
where that Gov. Roger Griswold was a very 
handsome man.) Miss Perkins goes on to say 
that one of the older generation said that 
Uncle Robert bore a startling likeness to him. 
That same uncle is in another picture. 


" I was a little girl, he came in to see 
Mother. He was a tall handsome courteous 
gentleman, dressed in the last English style, 
light trousers strapped to the well made boot, 
not quite unconscious of his own perfections. 
There was a tradition in the family, that Grand- 
father had been painted by Rembrandt Peale and 
that the portrait was destroyed by fire. 

" Grandmother was passionately fond of 
reading, or after she had lost her sight, of being 
read aloud to — Anything, Everything I She 
simply adored Cecilia, on which she could stand 
close examination. Pamela, Romance of the 
Forest — ' Turn Angelina ever dear ' she 
would recite with delight, and an old poem 
about a miller. In her bookcase she had Rol- 
lins' Ancient History, many weary pages of 
which I used to read to her, Russell's Modern 
Europe, Hume's England, Cowper's Task, 
which I have. But her love for the book of 
Job was beyond all. I would sit on a little 
bench at her feet, reading chapter after chap- 
ter, sometimes her voice murmuring an accom- 
paniment of well remembered verses. 

" Grandmother would tell of the old Meet- 
ing House on the Hill, unheated, save for the 
little foot stoves which the ladies carried with 


them. She said the cold was bitter and the 
sermons long. In this connection I must tell 
the story of a Methodist minister, whose ser- 
mon was so long that when an ungodly neigh- 
bor planted his garden on Sunday morning and 
then went into church, while the sermon went 
on the beans sprouted, came up, and when the 
people came out of church, the beans showed 
above the ground. 

" Grandmother's story of one misadventure 
at the old meeting house was delightfully told. 
On a chill windy Sunday she emerged from the 
meeting house door, proud and gallant in a new 
red ' top-coat ' tightly buttoned down to the 
bottom of the skirt. A great gust of wind took 
her off her feet. She could not recover herself 
and rolled rapidly down the steep hill, until 
some one caught her floating cape, and arrested 
her mad progress. 

" I was also told of the evenings beside the 
big hearth during Grandfather's short visits 
from Washington. The eagerness of all to 
hear the latest news. The minister who had 
ambled down on his steady nag, Uncle Judge — 
perhaps the Doctor, all listening and discussing, 
and often in the chimney corner, a poor lazy 
Indian also with his mug of Flip." 



"All our enjoyments were without money, 
for we none of us seemed to have much. We 
rode the same horses that trotted discreetly on 
other days. 

"We had one good sail boat, called 'The 
Walk Spanish.' We would go to Saybrook, 
sailing down the Black Hall River, across the 
mouth of the broad Connecticut, buying crackers 
and cheese at a sort of Marine Supply shop, 
and washing them down with warm root beer. 
I wonder did ever young people have a sweeter 
and wholesomer time? I have never been able 
to recall an unkindness or ungentleness or coarse 
rough word. 

" We would sing, I playing the accompani- 
ment, or Jim would accompany me on the violin 
which he played well. He told me, once in that 
Caifornia experience, when he had used up all 
his money and was waiting for supplies from 
home, he played many a time for his dinner. 
He was among the Argonauts going immedi- 
ately after graduating from Yale. The love of 
adventure took him, not the love of gold, to 
which he was always consistently and curiously 


" During those summers, none could be hap- 
pier than we. Our ages from sixteen to twenty, 
life before us beckoning with every bright 
promise. Each house having some girl or 
young man visitor giving plenty of partners for 
the impromptu dances. We used to dance 
through long afternoons, Aunt Helen playing 
the piano, or one of the boys with a fiddle ; and 
one evening we danced to the music of the hum- 
ble Jew's harp ! We rode, drove, walked, 
rowed or sailed. Scoured the pastures for 
flowers and berries, examined the rocks with 
our geological hammers. 

" In looking back I remember one Thanks- 
giving, the happiest I ever knew, for I was too 
late for the wonderful ones at Grandfather's. 
This was in 1857. Mother and I took dinner 
at Uncle Mart's. Everything that could be was 
off his own land, and how good everything was 
with Aunt Phebe's delicate touch at the helm. 
I remember we younger ones, rose from the 
table when the pies came on and ran around 
the house in the fresh open air to freshen up our 

"Then in the evening we all went to Aunt 
Ellen's, talked, chattered and danced by the fire- 
light, making even little, old white-haired, blind 


Grandmother, foot it down the center with the 
rest of us. 

" Aunt Ellen's ghost story was a very real 
one to me. It seemed removed from the vision 
theory, as there was another witness. 

" Aunt was sleeping in a room alone, one of 
her children occupied a small one opening from 
hers, but with no other exit. A friend Mrs. 

was living in Ohio, at last accounts well 

and happy. Auntie had no more reason to 
think of her than usual. She was waked from 
sleep by the sight of her friend passing through 
her room into the one where the child slept. 
In a moment the child screamed ' there is some 
one in my room " — They knew afterward that 
the friend was dead, but how things corre- 
sponded I never knew. Things like this were 
not examined into in those old days. Aunt 
Ellen was her own Psychical Society. She was a 
strange compound of the old and the new. She 
had read and thought all her life and seemed 
to forget nothing. She read everything she 
could lay her hand on, Rees' Encyclopedia when 
there was nothing else. She was especially 
fond of the Bible. 

" She would sit at a window overlooking the 
Sea, with her large Bible on the broad window 


seat, reading, reading, hour after hour, while 
dust fell untouched, dinner unprovided for, un- 
less she had a capable Bridget. I do not know 
whether Aunt was perplexed or questioning. 
She accepted modern theories (they were geo- 
logical then) with ease, everything fitting into 
her scheme of the universe. There must have 
been some theological free thinking, for one 
night very late, midnight perhaps, we were 
sitting alone in the long parlor, close to the fire 
place, for it was winter. We must have been 
talking of the doctrine of the Atonement from 
the connection, but I remember only this one 
thing, ' you may call it what you will, right or 
wrong but it was not Justice that He should 
suffer for our Sins.' 

" Those familiar visits to Black Hall, and 
the intimate relations with Aunt Ellen were 
very dear to me, and must have had an immense 
influence on my mental development. And 
morals, as well, for her standard of honor and 
truth was the good old Puritan one, just missing 
asceticism. Her house ran itself. Often, when 
I have gone out for a visit, she would say, ' My 
dear, I have had a large loaf of fruit cake 
made, it is in the cellar closet, whenever you 
are hungry, take a piece.' We would often 


talk on, forgetting that dinner was to be thought 
of, then Charley would fry a large dish of po- 
tatoes, delicious! 

" ' Thorndale,' she completely lost herself in. 
It seems strange that I cannot remember more 
of these talks, for they went on for years, and 
were on every subject, except things and peo- 
ple around us. No scandal and no gossip. 

" The house was full of books, Uncle 
Charles' library with solid books and old his- 
tory; and the modern books the boys brought 
home from College, Emerson, Thoreau, Lowell. 

" And a delightful cupboard in the attic 
crammed with novels. I too read through all, 
thick and thin, which was safe, as I suppose 
everything had been taken away that could hurt 
us young people. 

" Those years before the terrible strain of 
war times were full of blameless beauty." 

Still, as in the time of the settlement by the 
first Matthew Griswold, Black Hall sustains 
its ancient natural beauties. The ripple of the 
waves can still be heard on the beach; the soft 
skies hang over the charming scene; the radiant 
sunsets delight the eye with the marvelous after- 


glow, which is rarely seen further inland; the 
moonlight shimmers on the silvery waves as it 
did when the stalwart Matthew and the lovely 
Phebe Hyde walked, smiled, and loved there 
so long ago. The scene is not the same;, the 
unbroken forests are all gone, none of the 
oldest houses are here now, but in those yet 
remaining lingers yet the sweet spirit of hos- 
pitality, family affection, and a lofty standard 
of intelligence. May we continue to prize and 
remember our inheritance and may we and our 
remotest posterity feel the inspiration of the 
past, as it lingers in this beloved spot, to keep 
before us the ideals of all these brave, noble, 
and courteous gentlefolks from whom we are 
so fortunate as to derive our lineage. May all 
we undertake be done " bravely and swiftly '" 
like the greyhounds in our family arms. 

Before closing I must tender my grateful 
acknowledgment especially to Mrs. C. H. Gris- 
wold and her son, John Hubert, for their kind- 
ness in furnishing me with the best and oldest 
records which have made possible this collection. 

A. B. A.