(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Historical pamphlets, Julius Gay, Farmington, 1890-1911"

^ 








8 



\ 






^c 



s^^ 





m^ 


^^^ 










*< 



i"*^? 




>^ 







m 




^ 



% 




^ 



-) 








'(^ 



'^ 




W 




^^^ 



J 



I 



c 












AN 



HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT 



Cl^e £Dpening 



OF THE 



VILLAGE LIBRARY OF FARMINGTON, CONN., 



September 30TH, 1890, 



BY 



JULIUS GAY. 



AN 



HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT 



Cl^e €)pening 



OF THE 



VILLAGE LIBRARY OF FARMINGTON, CONN., 



September 30TH, 1890, 



HV 



JUIvIUS QAY. 



HARTFORD, CONN.: 
The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Printers. 

1S90. 



SRLF 
URL 



^y^99^^^^3^ 



ADDRESS. 



We have met this evening to open, to the use of 
the public, the library which the generosity of the 
citizens and friends of this village has instituted. By 
way of introduction, a brief account has been thought 
fitting of an older library founded here a century ago, 
of the men who organized it, and of the literary taste 
of their times. 

There have been other libraries in this town 
also well-deserving consideration, if time permitted. 
Seven were in active operation, in the year 1802, with 
an aggregate of 1,041 volumes on their shelves, cost- 
ing $1,241. The most recent library is too well- 
known to you all to need any eulogy or description 
from me. If the Tunxis Library had not attained its 
remarkable prosperity, there is little reason to suppose 
we should have been here this evening. 

In the year 1795, when the Revolutionary War 
had been a thing of the past for twelve years, the peo- 
ple of this village found time to turn their energies to 
peaceful pursuits. The long and bitter contentions in 
the church had just given place to peace and good- 
will by the settlement of the beloved pastor, the Rev. 
Joseph Washburn, in May of that year. The Hon. 
John Treadwell of this town, afterward Gov. Tread- 



2012369 



well, was at this time a member of the upper house of 
the State Legislature, and John Mix, Esq., had just 
begun to represent the town in the lower house twice 
each year as certainly as the months of May and 
October came around. These worthy and public- 
spirited men, with such assistance as their fellow 
townsmen were ready to offer them, founded, in that 
year, the first library in this village of which we have 
any extended record. They called it " The Library 
in the First Society in Farmington," and this library, 
with sundry changes in name and organization, has 
survived to the present time. 

The first librarian was Elijah Porter, a soldier of the 
Revolution, who served three years with the Connecti- 
cut troops on the Hudson, and was for many years a 
deacon in the Congregational Church. The members 
of the first committee were Martin Bull, John Mix, and 
Isaac Cowles. Martin Bull, also a deacon of the church, 
was a man of versatile powers and occupations, — a 
goldsmith and maker of silver spoons and silver but- 
tons, a manufacturer of saltpetre when it was needed in 
making gunpowder for the army, a conductor of the 
church music with Gov. Treadwell for assistant, the 
treasurer of the town for eight years, and clerk of 
probate for thirty-nine years, and until the ofiice passed 
out of the control of the old Federal party. He was 
one of the seventy signers of an agreement to march 
to Boston, in September, 1774, to the assistance of our 
besiesred countrvmen, if needed. Of all his numerous 
occupations, perhaps none pleased the worthy deacon 
more than writing; Ions: and formal letters to his 



5 

friends. One series of fifteen to a student in college, 
full of kindly feeling and pious exhortation, has come 
down to us, but whose appalling solemnity would tend 
to drive the modern college youth into any dissipation 
for relief. 

John Mix, the second member of the committee, 
was a graduate of Yale College, and an officer in the 
Revolutionary War, serving first as ensign along the 
Hudson, and afterward as lieutenant and quarter- 
master in the Highlands until the close of the war. 
Then, when the return of peace dismissed the officers 
of the army to their homes, and the strong friendships 
formed around the camp-fire and on the battlefield led 
to the founding of the Society of the Cincinnati, John 
Mix became the Secretary of the Connecticut branch 
until that society was dissolved, in 1804, to appease 
the insane clamors of the politicians of the da)?-. He 
then served the town ten years as judge of probate, 
thirty-two as town clerk, and twenty-six as a represen- 
tative to the General Assembly. Those were the 
good old days when the magistrate and his duties 
were looked up to with veneration, and rotation in 
office had not become a political necessity. This old 
town was then a power in the land. 

Isaac Cowles, the third member of the committee, 
was a farmer, a tavern keeper, a colonel in the State 
Militia, and a man of wealth. 

The library company numbered thirty-seven 
members, who contributed 380 volumes, valued at 
$644.29, which amount was six-sevenths of one per 
cent, of the assessed value of all the property in the 



First Society of Farmington. Th? books were in 
part the remains of a former library formed Aug. i, 
1785, of which no record, except this date and the 
amount of money collected, has come down to us. 
The first book on the list was Dean Swift's Tale of a 
Tub. Other works of fiction were his Gulliver's 
Travels, The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves of 
Smollett, The Sentimental Journey of Sterne ; Henry 
Brookes' Fool of Quality ; Fielding's Tom Jones ; Miss 
Fanny Burney's Evelina and Cecilia ; Dr. Moore's 
Zeluco ; and Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield. There 
were translations of Gil Bias, and of several French 
novels ; The Tales of the Castle and the Adelaide, 
and Theodore of Madame De Genlis, and others of a 
more ephemeral nature. 

Of poetry, they had, of course, the Paradise Lost, 
Pope's version of the Iliad, Young's Night Thoughts, 
and Goldsmith's Poems. There were, too, McPher- 
son's Ossian, The Task and Olney Hymns of Cowper, 
Thomson's Seasons, and the poems of Akenside. 

The list is not a long one, for the New England 
mind did not take kindly to works of the imagination. 
Being appealed to on their patriotic side they bought 
with alacrity The Conquest of Canaan by President 
Dwight, and the Vision of Columbus by Joel Barlow, 
— those two epic poems which were thought to be so 
inspired by the Genius of American Liberty as to put 
to shame all the works of effete monarchies and 
empires. To these they added the poems of General 
David Humphreys, revolutionary soldier and diplo- 
matist, and a volume of miscellaneous American 



poetry, which completed the Hst, nor did they see 
occasion to make any additions until twenty years 
after, in 1817, they bought Thomas Moore's Lalla 
Rookh published that year. 

History fared a little better. Robertson was 
represented by his Histories of America, Scotland, and 
India, and his Reign of Charles the Fifth. Even 
Voltaire was admitted with his Charles the Twelfth 
and his Age of Louis the Fifteenth. Rollins 
Ancient History appears in ten volumes, and Joseph- 
us's Antiquities of the Jews in four volumes. Hume's 
History of England, Watson's Philip the Second, and 
Winthrop's Journal were there, — the latter now a 
valuable prize when found in the edition of that day. 
There were histories in man}^ volumes of almost all 
the then known countries of the world, — Europe, 
Greece, Rome, England, Spain, America, Switzer- 
land, and Hindostan, but by whom written we can 
only conjecture. The volumes have long since dis- 
appeared, and the catalogue is silent. 

Of biographies, there were those of Mahomet, 
Cromwell, Frederick the Great, Eugene, Newton, 
Doddridge, Boyle, Franklin, and Putnam. Of books 
of travel, there were Anson's Voyage around the 
World, Cook's Voyages, Wraxall's Tour through 
Europe, Volney's Travels in Egypt and Syria, 
Niebuhr's Travels in Arabia, Cox's Travels in Poland, 
Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, and Young's Travels 
in France, which latter has been recently reprinted, 
and is one of the notable books of the day. 

Any one could make a list of the essay literature 



8 

on the shelves without much danger of going astray. 
The Tatler, The Spectator, and the Citizen of the 
World constituted pretty much the whole of it. 

Of dramatic literature there is not much to 
say. The first copy of Shakespeare waited twenty 
years for admission to the library. Our forefathers 
did not love the theater or its literature. 

Theolooical books were more to their taste. I will 

o 

not weary you with a list of those which formed a 
large part of their first library. The most famous were 
Butler's Analogy, Edwards " On the Freedom of the 
Will," " On Justification by Faith Alone," his " Treatise 
Concerning the Religious Affections," and his " His- 
tory of the Redemption " ; Hopkins' Divinity ; Paley's 
Evidences and his Horae Paulinae ; Newton, on the 
Prophecies ; West, on the Resurrection ; Strong, on 
Baptism ; and Sherlock's Practical Discourses on 
Providence. There were also sermons by Blair, 
Newton, Edwards, and other divines. 

Such were the 380 volumes with which the first 
library was opened to the public. For a quarter of a 
century thereafter the books added were, with few ex- 
ceptions, of a theological character. With the excep- 
tion of " Don Quixote " and " Sir Charles Grandison," 
added in 1799, no more novels were bought until Miss 
Hannah More's " Coelebs in Search of a Wife" found 
favor in 1809, probably owing to the religious charac- 
ter of its authoress; and so matters continued until 
the Waverlcy Novels knocked too hard at the doors to 
be denied admission. 



Why did the intelligent men and women of this 
village restrict themselves to such a literary diet ? 

Certainly not in a sanctimonious spirit, or because 
they thought it pleasing in the sight of Heaven, but 
simply and wholly because they liked it. Not the 
religious and moral only, but all classes alike dis- 
cussed the subtle distinctions of their theology with 
an excitement and too often with a bitterness unknown 
even to the modern politician. They held stormy 
debates on these high themes by the wayside, at the 
country store, and over their flip and New England 
rum at the tavern. They thoroughly believed their 
creed — believed that the slightest deviation from the 
narrow path they had marked out for their steps would 
consign them to the eternal agonies of a material helK 
Such was their belief and such the literature that 
pleased them. 

Even the young ladies of the day read the works 
of Jonathan Edwards, as the records show. But let 
no one picture them only as Priscilla singing the 
Hundredth Psalm at her spinning wheel, or waste un- 
necessary compassion on their gloomy puritan sur- 
roundino^s. The same ladies danced with the French 
offlcers of the army of Rochambeau by the light of 
their camp-fires, down on the Great Plain, with the 
approbation and attendance of their fathers, and even, 
as tradition says, of the courtly minister of the church. 

We know from old letters, carefully treasured, how 
Farmington society spent its evenings, at what houses 
the young ladies were wont to gather, what they did, 
and what young men, with more money than brains, 



10 

were frowned upon for stopping on the way at too 
many of the numerous taverns then lining our street. 
We know how Gov. Treadwell fined the society ladies 
of his day because, as the indictment read, " They 
were convened in company with others at the house 
of Nehemiah Street, in said town, and refused to dis- 
perse until after nine o'clock at night," The nine 
o'clock bell meant something in those days. 

Only a few years later, the Governor writes in a 
strain worthy of John Ruskin, " The young ladies are 
changing their spinning wheels for forte-pianos and 
forminir their manners at the dancing school rather 
than in the school of industry. Of course, the peo- 
ple are laying aside their plain apparel, manufactured 
in their houses, and clothing themselves with Europ- 
ean and India fabrics. Labor is orrowino: into disre- 
pute, and the time when the independent farmer and 
reputable citizen could whistle at the tail of his plough 
with as much serenity as the cobbler over his last, is 
fast drawing" to a close. The present time marks a 
revolution of taste and of manners of immense import 
to society, but while others glory in this as a great ad- 
vancement in refinement, we cannot help dropping a 
tear at the close of the golden age of our ancestors, 
while with a pensive pleasure we reflect on the past, 
and with suspense and ap})rehension anticipate the 
future.'' 

Such was social life then. Much hearty enjoy- 
ment of the increasing good things around them, 
tempered and always overshadowed by their ever 



II 



present belief in the stern doctrines of Calvin — 
" fixed fate, free-will, fore-knowledge absolute." 

The meetings for the drawing of books were held 
on the first Sunday evening of each month, not be- 
cause the eminently religious character of the library 
became that day, but because our ancestors read on 
the first page of Holy Writ that the evening and 
the morning were the first day, and when they saw the 
last rays of the setting sun disappear behind the west- 
ern mountains, the Sabbath with all its restraints was 
ended. The boys might resume, though somewhat 
quietly, the sports of the week. Those of older 
growth were expected to present themselves in all the 
bravery of their Sunday attire wherever tlieir youth- 
ful affections called them, and they, both young men 
and maidens, doubtless blessed the new library as 
a most suitable place of resort for their elders. 
Hither they came from far and near, not simply for 
books, but to exchange friendly greetings, to discuss 
the affairs of the State and the Church, the health of 
their families, the labors of their farms, and all the 
details of their everyday life. It was a true literary 
club made up of the most intelligent and worthy mem- 
bers of the community. 

When all were assembled and had accounted for 
the books charged them, the new books, or any old 
ones desired by two persons, were put up at auction, 
and the right to the next month's reading was struck 
off for a few pennies, adding on the average $2.50 to 
the annual income of the company. 

Deacon Porter kept the library in excellent order. 



12 

Every volume, though originally bound, as books then 
were, in full leather, had a stout cover of sheep skin 
sewed around it. The reader who turned down a 
leaf to keep his place while reading was fined a penny, 
and a strict record was kept of every grease spot or 
other blemish, giving the volume and page where it 
occurred, so that any new damage could be charged 
upon the offender with unerring certainty. Two 
pence a day was the cost of forgetting to return books 
on time. It made no sort of difference who the un- 
lucky offender was, be he of high degree or otherwise, 
he had to pay. Major Hooker pays his sixpence, Col. 
Noadiah Hooker his shilling, and even Gov. Tread- 
well is reminded that it has cost him five shillinsfs and 
sixpence for forgetting his books a whole month. 
Solomon Whitman, Esq., reading the fourth volume 
of Rollin, probably with a tallow dip in one hand, sets 
fire to the book and comes so near brinoing the wars 
of the Persians and Grecians to an abrupt termination, 
that he has to pay one dollar. Dr. Todd is fined one- 
half as much for having his mind so occupied with 
his patients as to forget his books for six days. The 
fines for ten years amounted to ^'i 3 6. 

On the first day of January, 1801, the first day of 
the new century, the name of the library was changed 
from The Library in the First Society in Farmington 
to The Monthly Library in Farmington, probably to 
distinguish it from some other library. Deacon Mar- 
tin Bull, still the chairman of the committee, engra\'ed 
for it a new book plate in the highest style of his art. 



13 

It contains the by-laws of the company and this 
motto : 

" The youth who led by Wisdom's guiding hand 
Seeks Virtue's temple and her law reveres, 
He, he alone in Honour's dome shall stand 

Crowned with rewards and raised above his peers." 

Wisdom is represented in the central picture in 
the form of the god Mercury leading a very small 
boy up to a book-shelf of ponderous folios. The boy 
is dressed in the fashionable court costume of the 
period, and with uncovered head contemplates a per- 
sonification of virtue crowned with masonic insignia. 
By her side stands a nude figure of wondrous anatomy, 
perhaps a siren against whose allurements the youth 
is being warned. 

The books were kept in the house of the librarian, 
which stood on the east side of the main street, next 
north of the graveyard, and here sat Deacon Porter, the 
village tailor, in this solemn neighborhood and among 
these serious books ready to minister to the literary 
taste of the community. In the meantime the be- 
loved pastor, Joseph Washburn, died on the voyage 
from Norfolk to Charleston, whither he had gone in 
the vain hope of restoring his health, and on the 23d 
day of August, eight years afterward. Deacon Porter 
married the widow and moved into her house opposite, 
now occupied by Chauncey Rowe, Esq. He relin- 
quished his care of the library, and Captain Luther 
Seymour succeeded him for the year 18 13. At the 
end of the year the Monthly Library Company came 
to an end. The furniture was sold and the cash on 



14 

hand to the amount of $54.93 was divided among the 
proprietors. A few weeks later, on the 12th of Feb- 
ruary, 1 8 14, Deacon Porter was reinstated in office, 
the books set up in the kitchen of his new abode, and, 
as was the fashion of the times when any dead insti- 
tution started into new life, after the manner of llie 
fabled bird of mythology, which is supposed to arise 
from its own ashes, they called the new institution the 
Phoenix Library. Nine years after, it was incorpora- 
ted under that name, January 28, 1823, by leaving a 
copy of its articles of association with the Secretary of 
State. 

Contemporaneously with this, another library 
called the Village Library, also holding its meetings 
on the first Sunday evening of each month, had ex- 
isted for many years. The leading spirits of the 
company were Capt. Selah Porter at the center of the 
village, Capt. Pomeroy Strong at the north end, and 
John Hurlburt Cooke at White Oak. Its records 
date back to January, 181 7, but I was told some thirty 
years ago by Capt. Erastus Scott, then one of the 
most prominent men of the town, that he and his 
fellow school-mates were the real founders. They 
met on a Saturday afternoon under the church horse- 
sheds, and each contributing ten cents, began the pur- 
chase of the little volumes entitled " The World Dis- 
played." This selection seems to indicate a reliance 
on the literary taste of the schoolmaster; but when 
the next purchase was made, the true boy's instinct 
asserted itself, and Robinson Crusoe was the result. 
These and some subsequent purchases were the nu- 



15 

cleus, he said, of the Village Library. The accuracy 
of Capt. Scott's recollection seems to be sustained by 
the list of books bought from the Village Library at 
its dissolution in 1826. Two of the twenty volumes 
of " The World Displayed," the boys' first purchase, 
are still in existence bearing the book plate of the 
Village Library, a work of art probably beyond the 
skill of Deacon Bull. It substitutes for his awkward 
boy a self-possessed young lady seated in an arm chair 
in the most approved position taught by the boarding 
schools of the day. She is absorbed in a book taken 
from the library shelves at her side, and through the 
window of the room has before her the inspiring 
vision of the Temple of Fame crowning the summit 
of a distant mountain. Beneath is the motto — 

'' Beauties in vain tlieir pretty eyes may roll, 
Charms strike the sense, but merit wins the soul." 

Thus early did the Village Library recognize the 
value of female education. 

In March, 1826, the Village Library was merged 
with the Phoenix, and Capt. Selah Porter, who since 
181 7, and perhaps longer, had been its librarian, now 
took the place of Deacon Elijah Porter. He held the 
office until he resigned April 4, 1835, and Simeon 
Hart, Jr., was appointed in his stead, and it was voted 
that the books be removed to the house of the latter. 
The affix of Jr. sounds strangely to those who remem- 
ber the venerable and beloved instructor of our youth 
better as Deacon Hart,— a name which brings back 
to many hundreds of men scattered all over the world 



i6 

the recollections of the wise teacher, the kindly direc- 
tor of their sports as well as studies, the high minded 
man trusting the honor of his pupils and worthy of 
all honor in return. Deacon Hart had just finished 
his twelfth year as principal of the Farmington Acad- 
emy, and one month after his appointment as librarian 
" Commenced," as he wrote, "a Boarding School in 
my own house. May i, 1835." This new departure of 
his so occupied his time that on the 6th of March he felt 
it necessary to resign, and Rufus Cowles was appointed 
in his place, filling the office until the company came 
to an end and was reorganized on the i8th day of 
February, 1839, under the name of the Farmington 
Library Company. The library was given a room in 
what was then the northeast corner of the lower tioor 
of the old Academy building, and Rev. William S. 
Porter was installed as librarian, which office he filled 
until March i, 1840, when he was succeeded by Mr. 
Abner Bidwell. 

Under this administration the library comes within 
the limit of my personal recollection. The meetings 
were held on the first Sunday evening of the month 
immediately after the monthly concert. To this mis- 
sionary meeting came the patrons of the library from 
the Eastern Farms, from White Oak, and from most of 
the districts of the town, each with his four books tied 
up not unusually in a red bandanna handkerchief. 
Here we waited, more or less patiently, the men on the 
right hand and the women on the left, while Deacon 
Hart gave us a summary of missionary intelligence for 
the month, and the Rev. William S. Porter elucidated 



17 

his views of family government and the divine prom- 
ises to faithful parents. Then, when Dr. Porter had 
expounded some suitable portion of the Scriptures and 
invoked the blessing of God on us and on all dwellers 
in heathen lands, when the choir in the northeast 
corner of the hall had concluded our devotions with 
the Missionary Hymn, a large part of the meeting re- 
paired to the library room below. Here were the 
books, a thousand or more, som.e in cases, some on 
benches, some on a big table, some in rows, some in 
piles, — but all scattered without regard to character or 
size or numbering in a confusion that would have 
astounded the orderly soul of Deacon Elijah Porter. 
The books purchased during the last month were an- 
nounced and the first reading of each was determined 
by a spirited auction at which every book was de- 
scribed as a " very interesting work." Then after 
tumbling over the book piles with varying success, 
and with the excitement unknown in more orderly 
collections, of possibly unearthing some unexpected 
treasure, each had his four books charged, and departed 
to enjoy the spoils of his search. 

This chapter in the history of the library was 
abruptly terminated in 185 1 by a change in the owner- 
ship of the building in which it had its temporary 
home. The old building and the adjoining premises 
were owned jointly by the Academy Proprietors, 
the First Ecclesiastical Society, the Middle School 
District, and the town. The upper room was used 
for all sorts of purposes. The Sunday-school boy 
saw its walls adorned with the big placards which 



i8 

taught him " Remember now tliv Creator in the days of 
thv youtli," and that •' The wages of sin is death," but 
his mind was much more apt to dwell on the grotesque 
exhibitions he had seen and heard from the same 
benches the evening before, — the political orator, the 
ventriloquist, the negro minstrel, the mesmerist, the 
uncouth magic lantern pictures, and the war dance 
and war-whoop of imitation red men. The situation 
became so intolerable that the Ecclesiastical Society, 
after no end of skillful diplomacy and hard work on 
the ]:)art of Deacon Simeon Hart, bought out the 
other owners, and the upper room was dedicated to 
religious uses only, by a vote which will not seem 
strict to those who remember the abominations of the 
past. The money changers in the holy temple at 
Jerusalem were most respectable by contrast. From 
the Academy building the books were removed to the 
oflfice of Deacon Simeon Hart, who was appointed 
librarian once more, February 7, 1853, only twelve 
weeks before his death. He was succeeded by Austin 
Hart, Esq., who had charge until the office building 
was sold and moved away. The library, once more 
homeless, was moved across the street into the stone 
store which stood, before the great fire, on the site of 
the present parsonage. Finally, in 1855, the town 
gave it a resting place for the next thirty-five years in 
the new record building, it being agreed in considera- 
tion therefor, " that any responsible person belonging 
to the town may have the right of drawing books from 
the library upon paying a reasonable compensation." 
Mr. Chauncey D. Cowles, the town clerk, was 



19 

librarian for the year 1855. In February of the fol- 
lowing year, Mr., now Dr., JameS R. Gumming, then 
the very successful principal of the Middle District 
school, was appointed librarian. With his habitual 
energy and exactness he brought order out of confu- 
sion, and the library became once more a very useful 
and prosperous institution. During the next ten years 
nearly all the most valuable books of the library 
were acquired, thanks to the fine literary taste, the 
generous gifts, and the practical good sense of Deacon 
Edward L. Hart. 

Such, then, was the library, which for a century 
has been no mean adjunct to the pulpit and the 
school-house, in giving to the citizens of this village 
whatever claims to intelligence and uprightness may 
justly belong to them. And now, after its wanderings 
from one temporary resting place to another, it has 
found an honorable and fitting place of abode. May 
it with many additions and with a generous care con- 
tinue for another century to bless this village. 



LIBRARIANS. 



Elijah Porter, 
Luther Sevmour, 
Elijah Porter, 
Selah Porter, 
Simeon Hart, 
RlI'US Cowles, 
Wii.i.iA.M S. Porter, 

AnXER BiDWEI.I., 

Simeon Hart, - 
Austin Hart, - 
CiiAUNCEY D. Cowles, 
James R. Cimminc;, - 
Julius (^av, 
William E. Hart, - 
Thomas Treadwell, 
Thomas P. Porter, 



elected 







1795 


Dec. 


28, 


1812 


Feb. 


12, 


1814 


April 




1826 


April 


4> 


1835 
1836 


Feb. 


18, 


1839 


Jan. 


5, 


1840 


Feb. 


7. 


1853 


Sept. 


26, 


1853 
1855 


Feb., 




1856 


Jan. 


-7 

— ) 


i860 


Jan. 


6, 


1868 


Jan. 


4. 


1869 


Jan. 




— > 


1882 










^r w 



QLy//e./ie^2^/h^^oi.y&/^<a^^^ </oiv-n- a 



&/ie^ 



•^ QjV/^^ ^/tc/z/vg^ a i^oon^ /^ ci^'on/' zo/i /'t^^or. 



6Cyyo tj/e-'^ti'On/ a/^^tc>€a cf- Jiiioo/f- u/AeO?- /■i'/r-^'Ajfe^ 




I 






ee^ttJ . 



Q_^/L^^it^/i>y c>/,<=-2fe i ^cti//i^ 





Two p ence PT D ay lor Tetammg' a B o olc 

in ore tkan one ISdorttK „=_ 

One Permyfor foldmo- down a X-eaf . 

TKree fhilling^s for lendmo* a .Book to a 

llsFonpropi-ietor , IN^o Ivlemberto retain a 
Book after S o clock on drawincT pjAAe-hincrs . 

r . . ^ /mud. 

T/i^Yof/tk nrho led. Otf wi^JdouVJ giadhw' 

//e, ke^ olryneyA/yh ITrntoK^ J^ cm e ^kaH s^tdn 
CTXHvrvdy ^rv iUvReiiraclj V^r^-u'd. al'i^i^e hu 



'.^ 




(Tburcb flDueic in jfarminoton m tbe Qlbcn Zmc 



AN 

Historical Address 



DELIVERED AT THE 



ANNUAL MEETING 



OF THE 



Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

Afay 6, iS'pr 



By Julius Gay 



HARTFORD, CONN. 
Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

I 891 



Cburcb flDusic in fanninoton m tbc ©Ibctt Zimc 



AN 

Historical Address 



DELIVERED AT THE 



ANNUAL MEETING 



OF THE 



Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

May 6, i8gi 



By Julius Gay 



HARTFORD, CONN. 
Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

I 891 



ADDRESS. 



Ladies and Getitlemen of the Village Library Com- 
pany of Farmington: — 

We have been called together this evening, in 
accordance with the articles under which we are as- 
sociated, to hear of the prosperity of our library, and 
to select those who for another year shall care for 
its well-being. 

In bygone times, whenever the citizens of this 
state were called upon to exercise the elective fran- 
chise, it was customary to designate some learned 
divine to deliver for their guidance and encourage- 
ment an annual election sermon. Far be it from me 
to invade the sacred office or to assail your ears with 
lessons of such ponderous wisdom. Some, however, 
who heard the account of the library of a century 
ago have desired to go back with me another century 
and hear something of that still older time. A iiide 
age it was, but rudeness seen through the mists of 
two centuries ceases to be repulsive. The petty dis- 
comforts of life are forgotten, and even the uncouth 
becomes picturesque. There Is a strange fascination 
In looking back on the deeds of your own ancestors; 
and the very localities where they lived — trivial to 
all others — seem sacred in the sight of their descend- 
ants. 



You will hear of no libraries in their rude cabins. 
They deemed the Bible and the Psalm-Book suffi- 
cient for their wants. The one was for a time their 
only law book, and with the other their souls rose 
on the wings of song out of their gloomy surround- 
ings to the God who had brought them hither, and 
who they believed would still sustain them. 

What, then, was the music which was as dear 
to them as the breath of life? 

Rude it may seem to our ears; trivial it could 

not have been. The gay soldier of King Charles's 

court derided it. Tennyson tells how — 

" The Roundhead rode, 

And hummed a surly hymn." 

but when on Marston Moor the Ironsides of Crom- 
well raised their battle psalm and, roused to frenzy, 
rushed upon the Cavaliers, .they learned full well the 
power of Puritan psalmody. 

No doubt many of you say, " Have we not 
heard this old music over and over again, and, 
dressed in the vei^ apparel of our ancestors, our- 
selves helped to sing it? By no means. The musiq 
of the Old Folks' Concert is all comparatively modern. 
This town had been settled more than a century 
when William Billings was born in Boston, in 1746, 
and in due time gave to the world those strange 
tunes which suited the taste of a former generation, 
and have not yet wholly lost their charm: Majesty, 
in which the vision of Ezekiel is portrayed, David's 
Lamentation, The Anthem for Easter, and numerous 
other pieces, well known to you all. Still later was 



5 

it when Timothy Swan, born in Worcester in 1758, 

and living now in Northfield and now in Stamford, 

inheriting a tinge of insanity from his mother, wrote 

that wild, weird tune, Ocean, in which he strives to 

picture how, while — 

" The winds arise, 
And swell the towering waves, 
The men astonished mount the skies 
And sink in gaping graves." 

Daniel Read who sang — 

" O may my heart in tune be found, 
Like David's harp of solemn sound." 

or again, in the plaintive minor strains of Russia, 

compares man, whether of high degree or of the 

baser sort, to a " puff of empty air," or in triumphant 

notes rejoices — 

" While shepherds watch their flocks by night, 
All seated on the ground ; " 

or shrinks with horror at the dreadful end of the 
wicked as he sees them stand on slippery rocks while 
" fiery billows roll below," died in New Haven so 
lately as 184 1. 

What, then, was the music of our forefathers 
in their first sanctuary? 

It was simply the music they had been accus- 
tomed to sing in the churches of Old England. 
The settlers of this town came from Hartford, and 
were, for the most part, members of the so-called 
Braintree Company, which came from the County of 
Essex in England. They did not, therefore, like the 
Plymouth Colony, spend twelve years on their way 
in Holland until, as Winslow said, they were like to 



lose their language and the name of Tinglish, but 
brought straight from the village churches of Eng- 
land the songs, they had learned in their youth. Cot- 
ton Mather tells of their neighbors of the Salem 
church, that the Rev. Mr. Higginson, calling up his 
children and other passengers into the stern of the 
ship, to take their last sight of England, said, " We 
will not say, as the Separatists were wont to say at 
their leaving of England, ' Farewell, Babylon ! Fare- 
well, Rome ! ' but we will say, ' Farewell, dear Eng- 
land ! Farewell, the Church of God in England, 
and all the Christian friends there. We do not go 
to New England as Separatists from the Church of 
England, though we cannot but separate from the 
corruptions in it.' " 

They brought with them two metrical versions 
of the Psalms ; that of Henry Ainsworth which was 
used mostlv in Massachusetts, and that of Sternehold 
and Hopkins which found favor in this State. I 
have myself a copy brought over by one of the lirst 
settlers of this town. Its quaint old title is worth 
repeating. 

"The Booke of Psalmes: Collected into English 
Meeter, by Thomas Sternehold, John Hopkins, and 
others: conferred with the Hebrew; with apt Notes 
to sing them withall. Set forth and allowed to be 
sung in ail Churches, of the people together, before 
and after Morning and livening Prayer: As also 
before and after Sermon: antl moreo\'er in pri\ate 
houses, for their godly solace and comfort, laying 
apart all ungodly Songs and Ballads, which tend 



onely to the nourishment of vice, and corrupting of" 
youth." 

It has, besides the metrical version of the Psalms, 
several pieces of Old English Church Music, a few 
of which I name because they form part of a book 
actually in use in this town nearly, if not quite, 250 
years ago. The following certainly do not sound 
much like the music of the conventicle as the author 
of Waverly loved to describe it. The Benedictus or 
Song of Zacharias, The Magnificat or Song of the 
Blessed Mary, the Nunc Dimittis, or Song of Simeon, 
The Athanasian Creed, The Pater Noster or Lord's 
Prayer, The Ten Commandrnents, anci many other 
set pieces. The music, of which there was a con- 
siderable variety, was printed with the oki-fashioned 
square-headed notes and without bars except at the 
end of each line of the words, the C clef being in- 
variably used, a sore puzzle to modern performers. 
Only the melody was given which was to be sung 
by the whole congregation in unison. Some few of 
the more rigid Puritans objected to congregational 
singing, and argued that, as one man prayed and 
preached, so only one should sing; a refinement of 
solo music which did not prevail. That these men 
looked upon singing simply as an act of devotion, 
without the slightest thought of anything aesthetic in 
it, appears when they proposed to exclude female 
voices, and argued further: "Because it is not per- 
mitted to a woman to speak in church, how then 
shall they sing? Much less is it permitted them to 
prophesy in the church. And singing of Psalms is 



8 

a kind of prophesying." These objections, though not 
sustained by the great body of the worshipers, were 
nevertheless answered at length by the Rev. John 
Cotton, in a tract published to help the introduction 
of the famous Bay Psalm Book, which was compiled' 
by about thirty New England divines, and was printed 
at Cambridge in 1640, the year in which this town 
was settled. It was the first book printed in the 
United States, and has become so rare that a copy 
was sold in 1879 for $1,200. It lacked the musical 
notes in the early editions, a most disastrous omis- 
sion, as will soon appear. 

A few years later, in 1718, Cotton Mather, 
best known by his famous Magnalia, published the 
Psalterium Americanum, which also lacked the printed 
notes. It was a very exact translation of the Hebrew, 
written in smooth and elegant English blank verse, 
but people missed the rhymes and the rude vigor of 
the old v^ersion, and would have none of it. It 
possessed one remarkable provision, said to have been 
invented by Richard Baxter, by which a number of 
the Psalms could be sung to any of the meters then 
in use. Long, Short, or Common, — a device which 
would commend itself to any luckless leader of a 
prayer meeting, who has come to grief in attempting 
to sing a I^ong meter hymn to a Short meter tune. 

The metrical version of the Psalms was usually 
bound up with the great family Bible, and was too 
heavy and costly a book for common use in the 
churches. It was the custom, therefore, in this scarc- 
ity of singing books, for one of the deacons to read 



the Psalm a line at a time, and when the singers 
had finished that line, to read the next, and so on 
until the Psalm was concluded. There were no h\ mns 
in use and no favorite Psalms which the congrega- 
tion, becoming familiar with, could in time sing with- 
out the book. They deemed it their solemn duty to 
sing all the Psalms in course, just as they read their 
Bibles through from Genesis to Rev^elation, and then 
began again ; and it worried their consciences not a 
little that in the early editions, Sternehold and Hop- 
kins had not rendered all of the one hundred and 
fifty Psalms into meter. Still, as several had more 
than one hundred lines, and one over seven hundred, 
" deaconing out the Psalm," in this lack of books, 
was an evident necessity. 

Let us now spend a Sabbath in the first meet- 
ing-house which stood on our village green, and, so 
far as may be, learn how our fathers worshiped 
within its walls. As all days are alike open to our 
choice, we select the year 1676 for our visit. You 
need not listen for the signal of the bell; you will 
have to w^ait 44 years for that sound; but the drum 
will be beaten at the time of divine service, and also 
an hour before. 

Let us join the train of worshipers as they ap- 
proach the sanctuary from all parts of the little village. 
They are, for the most part, on foot; but some from 
the outlying farms are on horseback — the good w^ife 
on a pillion behind the good man, with the young- 
est child in her arms, while the rest of the family 
— the sturdy sons and daughters — follow on foot, 



10 

family intermingled with family, and much paired ac- 
cording to the law of a natural selection older than 
Darwin. The meeting-house stands where the second 
and third house were aftenvard built. Doors open 
to the east and. south, and very likely to the west. 
Within stands the lofty pulpit, directly beneath and 
in front of which is the deacons' seat, where the two 
deacons of the church — Deacon Stephen Hart and 
Deacon Thomas Judd — are already sitting. Above, 
running part way around the house, is a gallery, 
where the youth of both sexes are divided off from 
the rest of the assembly, — a most ingenious device 
for setting their high animal spirits and inherent love 
of mischief at constant war wnth the solemn cie- 
corum demanded by the tithing-man. The rest of 
the people are seated according to the custom of 
Puritan churches soon afterward formulated on our 
records, with " respect to age, office, and estate, so 
far as it tendeth to make a man respectable, and to 
everything else which hath the same tendency." 
Prominent we shall see the civil magistrate, in the 
person of his Honor, John Wadsworth, Commis- 
sioner of the General Court, and next in rank that 
majestic personage, the captain of the train-band, 
whose office every boy looks forward to as the goal 
of his youthful ambition. Behind them sit the lesser 
dignitaries, the Lieutenant, the Sergeant, the Ensign, 
the Corporal. I must humbly beg their pardon if 
I have not set them down in the proper order, for 
you might as well address one of them without his 
exact title as to salute the Queen of Great Britain 



II 

and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, by her family 
name, simply as Mrs, Guelph. It is well that you 
have entered among the first comers, for the house 
is filled to its utmost capacity. Every available nook 
and corner is made to yield a seat for some devout 
worshiper. Soon after this, to relieve somewhat the 
pressure, " the town gav'e unto Ebenezer Steele, Jo- 
seph Judd, Thomas Lee, Nathaniel Lewis, and Sam- 
uel Judd, a liberty to build them a seat over the 
short girt at the easterly end of the gallery, on the 
condition that they do not damnify the other seats in 
the meeting-house." This was but a temporary re- 
lief. There was no longer room for the youth in 
the gallery, and to let them sit with their parents in 
the Holy of Holies below was not to be thought of. 
It would interfere with the etiquette of precedence 
in the seating of the house, and no European court 
ever was more rigid in this than were the worshipers 
in the old Puritan meeting-house. Nevertheless some- 
thing must be done to accommodate the patriarchal 
families of our ancestors. The problem of how Noah 
'stowed away all the animals in the ark, proposed 
by Dr. Johnson to little Miss Thrale as a pretty 
question in arithmetic, was as nothing compared to 
it. At length a compromise was effected by which 
some of the older and more sedate of the young 
women w^ere admitted below, and " the town by vote 
gave liberty to Lieutenant Judd's tw^o daughters, and 
the Widow Judd's two daughters, and the two eldest 
daughters of John Steele to erect, or cause to be 
erected, a seat for their proper use at the south end 



12 

of the meeting-house at the left hand as they go in 
at the door, provided it he not prejudicial to the 
passage and doors." 

And now the guard of eight men with muskets 
at shoulder march in at the door, and, stacking their 
arms within reach, take the seats assigned them on 
either side. Why this armed inxasion of the house 
of God? Simply hecause the noble savage is on the 
war path. News has just reached the town that 
Hezekiah Willet, brother of the pastor's wife, has 
been slain by the savages over at Swansea. Only a 
few months since Johanna Smith of this town was 
killed at Hatfield, and Roger Orvis wounded. Nor 
have people forgotten the murder in their midst a 
few years before of a woman and her maid, and the 
burning of several houses. True, the murderer had 
been duly executed at Hartford in a manner too 
brutal to relate, and, if tradition be correct, his head 
had been set up on a pole, — an object-lesson for 
the instruction of the untutored savage. Just now 
they are unmindful of the lesson, and any moment 
King Phillip and his warriors may fall upon the vil- 
lage. Now that the last roll of the drum has 
sounded, and all are in their places, with stately step 
and re\erend demeanor the pastor, Samuel Hooker, 
walks up the aisle and ascends the lofty pulpit. He 
comes fresh from the honors of Harvard, where for 
his graduating thesis he has argued in the affirmative 
one of those subtle metaphysical questions so delight- 
ful to the early New England mind, " Whether an 
all-perfect being can be perfectly defined." More re- 



13 

cently a fellow of that college, he declined a call by 
the church In Springfield, and was here installed as 
the successor of his brother-in-law, the Rev^ Roger 
Newton. 

The service begins with a prayer continuing about 
a quarter of an hour. The pastor then reads and 
expounds a chapter and announces the forenoon 
psalm. One of the deacons, or some devout man of 
sufficient musical gift, arises and reads, in a sonorous 
voice, the first line of the psalm — 

" The man is blest that hath not bent," 

and, sounding the first note as near D as his skill 

admits, launches out bravely in the old choral. One 

by one the assembly joint their voices until the line 

is finished, when the leader reads again the second 

line — 

" To wicked reade his eare," 

and the whole congregation having now caught the 
melody, join in the tune, only resting their voices 
for a mightier shout, while the deacon reads the 
third line — 

"Nor led his life as sinners do;" 

and so alternately reading and making the forest echo 
with their song, they conclude with — 

" And eke the way of wicked men 
Shall quite be overthrown ; " 

and sitting down, with their souls, if not their voices, 
attuned to the praise of God, await the discourse of 
the beloved Hooker as he turns the hour-glass and 
announces his text. I cannot describe his sermon. 



14 

Twice he preached the annual election sermon, and 
twice the General Court ordered it printed, but no 
copies are known to have ever existed. After a con- 
cluding prayer and a blessing the people retire for 
a little time to their homes to eat their frugal Sab- 
bath meal and talk over the lessons of the day. 

The afternoon service is like the morning, ex- 
cept, after the concluding prayer, all children born 
since the last Sabbath are presented for baptism, no 
matter what the weather, no one daring to incur, 
what seemed to them, the terrible responsibility of 
deferring this solemn rite. One of the deacons now 
rises and announces " Brethren of the Congregation, 
now there is time left for contribution, wherefore as 
God has prospered you, so freely offer," The magis- 
trates first, and others in the order of their rank, 
now come forw^ard and bring their offerings to the 
deacon at his seat. Then new members, if there are 
any, are admitted, a concluding psalm is sung, if 
time permits, and with a blessing the congregation 
is dismissed. 

1 have said that the first editions of the Bay 
Psalm Book were printed without the music. As a 
result the people sang by rote, forgot in time all 
but three or four of the tunes, and sang these in as 
many ways as there were singers. To remedy the 
evil the publishers of the Bay Psalm Book began 
about 1690 to aild the notes of the only twelve tunes 
then in use, viz.: Litchfield, Canterbury, York, Wind- 
sor, Cambridge, the looth Psalm Tune, and six 
others, the names of which have ceased to be familiar. 



15 

So little was known of musical notation that 
such directions to the leader as these were printed. 

" First observe . . . the place of your first note, and how 
many notes above and below that, so as 3'ou may begin the tune 
of your first note, as the rest may be sung in the compass of your 
and the people's voices, without Squeaking above or Grumbling 
below." 

For six of the twelve tunes " a cheerful high 
pitch " is recommended for the first note. For the 
One Hundredth Psalm Tune " a note indifferent 
high," and a low note for the remainder; and these 
directions were as concise as would be understood. 

By the year 1720 the singing in all the churches 
had become so desperately bad that ministers began 
to preach in earnest the need of reform. Cotton 
Mather published his "Accomplished Singer" in 1721 
for the encouragement " of those who are learning 
to sing by Rule and seeking to presence a Regu- 
lar Singing in the Assemblies of the Faithful." The 
Rev. Thomas Walter of Roxbury the same year pub- 
lished a singing-book in the introduction to which he 
says, " At present we are confined to eight or ten 
tunes, and in some congregations to little more than 
half that number," and as for the ornamental notes 
introduced according to the individual taste of each 
singer, he says " much time is taken up in shaking 
out these turns and quavers; and besides, no two men 
in the congregation quaver ali^e or together, which 
sounds in the ear of a good judge like five hundred 
different tunes roared out at the same time." In our 
own State the Rev. Nathaniel Chauncey of Durham 



i6 

published a sermon in 1727 in defense of the new 
or regular way of singing by note, in which he 
answers four objections. Ihe fourth and no doubt 
the principal objection of the old people was, " It 
looks very unlikely to be the right way, because that 
young people fall in with it; they are not wont to 
be so forward for anything that is good." His 
answer was introduced by a somewhat free rendering 
of Job 32: 9, namely, "As old men are not always 
wise, so young men are not ahvays fools." The Rev. 
Timothy Woodbridge also preached a sermon at East 
Hartford the same year w'hich w^as printed and largely 
circulated in aid of the Reform. Singing-schools be- 
gan also to be established, and the war betw'een the 
old way and the new way began in good earnest. It 
lasted until just before the breaking out of the Revo- 
lutionary War. Let us see how it fared with the 
old church in Farmington. A period of forty-eight 
years has passed since our last visit to the old meet- 
ing-house. The beloved Hooker sleeps beneath the 
sod of the old burying ground, though no stone marks 
the spot. There has been a long interruption of the 
pastoral relation. Ineffectual calls have been extended 
by the town to Mr. Joseph Parsons, to " the much 
esteemed Mr. Jabez Fitch," to " the much esteemed 
Eliphalet Adams," to " the worthy Mr. John Buck- 
ley," to " Mr. Daniel Hooker," to " Mr. l^phraim 
Woodbridge," and to "the worthy Mr. Nathaniel 
Eells." Finally a committee has been ordered to 
undertake the long and perilous journey through the 
wilderness to Xantasket near Boston in search of a 



17 

minister. The town treasury being unequal to supply- 
ing funds for so important an expedition, a loan, to 
be repaid at the rate of two shillings for one, has 
been negotiated. The Rev. Samuel Whitman returns 
with the committee, and the town votes him thanks 
for " venturing the difficulties of such a journey to 
serve us." A new meeting-house has been erected 
during his pastorate, and now, on the 7th of April, 
1724, the church votes " to delay the admission of 
regular singing into the church." Two months later, 
June 9th, they vote to " take a year's time to con- 
sider and look into the way of singing called regu- 
lar," and " that if any person or persons shall for 
the future presume to sing contrary to the lead of 
the chorister appointed by the church to the disturb- 
ance of the assembly and the jarring of the melody, 
he or they shall be looked upon and dealt with as 
offenders." Nevertheless, this very thing happened, 
and the testimony before the court which followed 
w^ill throw more light upon the musical ways of the 
past than any words of mine. The parties concerned 
have been a century in their graves and cannot be 
harmed. 

"February 19, 1724-5. The testimony of Jonathan Smith 
is as followeth, viz.: I being at the house of God or place of 
public worship in Farmington die 24th day of January, 1724-5, 
it being the Sabbath or Lord's Day, and after prayer our chorister, 
viz.: Deacon John Hart did fit or set a tune to the psalm that 
was offered to be sung, which tune is commonly called Bella 
tune, as well he might, it being as proper or more proper to that, 
psalm than any other tune. And soon after said Chorister had 
set said tune, I heard an unwonted sound, something like hollow- 
3 



i8 

ing or strong, strong singing to my disturbance and the jarring 
of the melody, which caused me to observe from whence it came, 
and perceiving tliat it came from Capt. Joseph Hawley. I took 
particular notice of his ascents and descents, and according to 
m\- best judgment and observation, said Hawley (after his man- 
ner of singing) sang the tune commonly called Southwell, alias 
Cambridge Short Tune, and said Hawley continued said dis- 
turbance the greatest part of said singing." 

John Hooker, Esq., promptly fined Capt. Hawley 
for a breach of the Sabbath, but as the captain was 
a member of the General Assembly, he brought the 
following petition to that body, which states with 
much humor and with learned puns his view of the 
case. Though printed many times it is worthy of 
repetition. 

" To the Honorable, the General Assembly at Hartford, the 
i8th of May 1725: The memorial of Joseph Hawley one of 
the House of Representatives humbly sheweth: Your memorial- 
ist, his father and grandfather and the whole church and people 
of Farmington have used to worship God by singing psalms to 
his praise in that mode called the Old Way. However, the other 
day Jonathan Smith and one Stanley got a book and pretended 
to sing more regularly and so made great disturbance in the wor- 
ship of God; for the people could not follow that mode of sing- 
ing. At length it w\as moved to the church whether to admit the 
new way or no, who agreed to suspend it at least a year. \ct 
Deacon Hart the chorister one Sabbath day, in setting the Psalm, 
attempted to sing Bella tune, and your memorialist being used 
to the old way as aforesaid did not know helium tune from f>ax 
tune, and supposed the Deacon had aimed at Cambridge short 
tune and set it wrong, whereupon your petitioner raised his voice 
in the said short tune and the people followed him, except the 
said Smith and Stanly and the few who sang aloud in Bella 
tune, and so there was an unhappy discord in the singing as there 
has often been since the new singers set up, and the blame was 
all imputed to your poor petitioner, and John Hooker, Esq., 



19 

Assistant, sent for him and fined him the 19th of February last 
for breach of the Sabbath, and so your poor petitioner is laid 
under a heavy scandal and reproach and rendered vile and pro- 
fane for what he did in the fear of God and in the mode he had 
been well educated in and was then the settled manner of sing- 
inii by the agreement of the church." 

The memorial continues at great length . but if 
all the memorials written by Capt. Hawley during 
the contention and still preserved were printed, they 
would make quite a good-sized book. 

A single extract from the records of a Justice 
Court in Wethersfield shows how the youth of this 
town looked upon these proceedings. 

" Asahel Strong of Farmington being presented . . . for 
that he did in company with several others in the night after 
the 13th day of November last past, it being the night next follow- 
ing the Sabbath or Lord's Day, at the place of parade or muster- 
ing in said Farmington, where Capt. Hawley usually trains his 
company, make and set up something called a gallows with a 
strange picture or image fixed thereon with ' h^bels ' upon it &c., 
thereby notoriously defaming, reviling and traducing Capt. Haw- 
ley of Farmington, though in a clandestine manner under the 
name of vetge [effigy?] or some such word, which actions or 
doings of his are contrary to the public peace of Our Sovereign 
Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity." 

Two years later the Ecclesiastical Society on the 
17th of March, 1726-7, expressed their great dislike 
of the " way of singing of Psalms which is recom- 
mended by the Reverend Ministers of Boston with 
other ministers to the number of t^venty or there- 
abouts." 

But the matter did not rest there. Some of 
the parties were disciplined by the church. A coun- 
cil of the neighboring divines was convened on the i8th 



20 



of January, 1 730-1, and memorials lengthy and 
spirited were presented. Finally the church, August 
4, 1737, more than tweK'e years after the beginning 
of the trouble, decided the learned decision of the 
council too difficult for their understanding, and that 
they would drop the whole matter. 

After the conclusion of this unhappy strife, the 
church had rest many years. fhe elders had tri- 
umphed, but the younger singers awaited their time. 
On the 17th of December, 1750, the Ecclesiastical 
Society ^'oted " that they would introduce Mr. Watts' 
Version of the Psalms to be sung on Sabbath days 
and other solemn meetings in the room of the ver- 
sion that hath been used in time past." This was 
a long step forward. True, some of the hymns de- 
scribe the future state of the wicked in a manner 
too realistic to suit our modern taste, and Dr. 
Watts himself in his last years desired to recall some 
of his verses, but having parted with the copyright 
was unable to prevent the publication of what was 
no longer in accord with the more tender and loving 
feelings of his old age. Still very many of his hymns 
will be sung in our churches so long as devout wor- 
shipers shall admire whatever is majestic or reveren- 
tial. 

Twenty-three years more past. I'he reform ad- 
vocated by the twenty divines half a century before 
has been preached in season and out of season trom 
all the Congregational pulpits of New England. 
Tracts and sermons have been printed and scattered 
broadcast; singing schools have become the most 



21 



popular amusement of the young, and finally the old 
men who stood up manfully for the old way have 
one by one ceased their earthly songs. The change 
was finally made without opposition, when, on the 
i2th of April, 1773, the Ecclesiastical Society "Voted 
that the people who have learned the rule of sing- 
ing have liberty to sit near together in the same posi- 
tion as they sat this day at their singing meeting, 
and that they have liberty to assist in carrying on 
that part of divine worship." 

Of course a radical change of method did not 
at once go smoothly, and the next year a committee 
had to be appointed " to compromise the difference 
among the singers;" but differences among singers 
have been known since that time. The change was 
made by other towns of the state about the same 
time. In one of the churches of Windsor, in 1771; 
in Farmington and Simsbury in 1773: in Norfolk and 
Columbia in 1774: and in Harwinton in 1776. The 
change was not always made so easily as with us. 
In some churches the deacons persisted in lining out 
the psalm; but the new singers having once got well 
under way with the first line, kept straight on with 
the rest of the psalm, cari-ying everything before them 
like a whirlwind and leaving the deacon in hopeless 
despair. But not always. We read of one deacon 
who sat down in grim silence, biding his time, and 
when the young people had finished their musical an- 
tics, arose, and with trumpet tones which rang through 
the house, announced " Now let the people of the 
Lord sing." And they did it, though for the last 



22 



time, In the good old way. The historian of Wor- 
cester, Mass., tells us that in 1779, after the town 
had voted to adopt the new way of singing, " after 
the hymn had been read by the minister, the aged 
and venerable Deacon Chamberlain, unwilling to de- 
sert the custom of his fathers, arose and read the 
first line according to his usual practice. The singers, 
prepared to carry the alteration into effect, proceeded 
without pausing at its conclusion. The white-haired 
officer of the church, with the full power of his voice, 
read on until the louder notes of the collected body 
overpowered him, and the deacon, deeply mortified 
. . . seized his hat and retired from the meeting- 
house in tears." Nearer to us, in 1773, the History 
of Simsbuiy tells of the employment of a teacher of 
music who, " after practicing some time appeared 
with his scholars in church on a Sunday, and the 
minister having announced the psalm, the choir, under 
their instructor's lead, started off with a tune much 
more lively than the congregation had been accustomed 
to hear. Upon which one of the Deacons, Brewster 
Higley, took his hat and left the house, exclaiming 
' Popery, Popei*y ! ' " 

And now that more elaborate music began to be 
sung, instruments were allowed to guide the v^oices. 
First the pitch pipe, and then that horror of the 
older Puritans, the great viol, followed by the little 
viol, the flute, the bassoon, the hautboy, the clario- 
nette, and if there were any other instruments known 
among them, all were introduced to praise the Lord 
and triumph over their elders. 



23 

And now, breaking loose from all restraint, 
whether religious or esthetic, with their taste founded 
on the patriotic songs that helped to usher in the 
War of the Revolution, the young men sang with 
wild enthusiasm the noisy fugue tunes of the day. 
William Billings was the pioneer of this style of 
music. Born in Boston, blind of one eye, and other- 
wise deformed in person, taking snuff by the handful 
from his open pocket, he pursued the trade of a 
tanner, and as he tended the mill for grinding bark, 
wrote out his intricate fugues on the wall with chalk, 
and sung them with a voice of thunder such as has 
been seldom bestowed on man. His first book, " The 
New England Psalm Singer," was published in 1770, 
the title page being enlivened by a doggerel of his 
own composition, 

" O, praise the Lyord with one consent, 
And in this grand design, 
Let Britain and the Colonies 
Unanimously join." 

Somewhat later he kept a music store, his sign 
projecting out over the sidewalk painted BILLINGS' 
MUSIC in big letters on both sides. He was much 
annoyed by the ungodly youth of Boston, who amused 
themselves by tying cats together by their hind legs 
and hanging them on his sign. Their unearthly 
screams In connection with the words BILLINGS' 
MUSIC, expressing the popular opinion of his per- 
formances. Samuel Adams, the " Father of the Revo- 
lution," while he relied on such men as John Han- 
cock to influence the wealthier and more cultured 



24 

classes of Boston, made good use of Billings and his 
music in stirring up the masses against the British 
rule. To the tune Chester, Billings set the words, — 

" Let tyrants shake their iron rod, 
And slavery clank her galling chains;" 

The 137th Psalm "By the rivers of Babylon, 
there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remem- 
bered Zion," he paraphrased as " By the rivers of 
Watertown we sat down and wept, when we remem- 
ber thee, O Boston." . . . " If I forget thee, 
O Boston " . . . . 

" Then let my tongue forget to move, 
And ever be confined. 
Let horrid jargon split the air, 
And rive my nerves asunder: 
Let hateful discord grate my ear, 
As terrible as thunder." 

A wish which his own music amply fulfilled. 

Billings' own description of his music is as fol- 
lows : 

" It has more than twenty times the power of the old slow 
tunes ; each part straining for mastery and victor}^, the audience 
entertained and delighted, their minds surpassingly agitated and 
extremely fluctuated, sometimes declaring for one part, and some- 
times another. Now the solemn bass demands their attention, — 
next, the manly tenor; now, the lofty counter, — now, the 
volatile treble. Now here, — now there, — now here again. 
O, ecstatic! Rush on, ye sons of harmony!" 

Time will fail to describe more at length this 
noisy music, with the best specimens of which you 
are already familiar, or how by slow degrees a better 
style took its place. 

Let us not, however, leave the subject without 
some slight attempt to understand the position of 



25 

the worthy men of old who clung so tenaciously to 
the barbarous methods of their day, during their 
long war with the so-called " regular singing " of 
their children. They sung in their rude way as their 
fathers and their fathers' fathers had before them. 
Their three or four tunes had become so sacred to 
them that we are told " the people put off their hats, 
as they would in prayer when they heard one sung, 
though not a word was uttered." Some believed the 
tunes inspired equally with the Psalms themselves, and 
that they had been taught by the very voice of 
Jehovah speaking face to face with man as with 
Moses on Sinai. 

They held singing to be an act of devotion com- 
manded by Him to whose ear their rude melodies and 
the more delicate tones of their children were alike 
as vanity except as they helped to bear upward the 
contrite soul of the worshiper. And now to sit in 
silence, debarred " the right to worship as they be- 
lieved the Word of the Lord commanded, while their 
children in no devotional mood performed their pretty 
tunes, was indeed hard to bear. 

Like the patriarchal Cotter of Burns, 

"They chant their artless notes in simple guise; 

They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim ; 
Perhaps Dundee's wild warbling measures rise, 

Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name: 
Or noble Elgin beets the heav'nward flame, 

The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays: 
Compar'd with these, Italian thrills are tame; 

The tickl'd ears no heart felt raptures raise; 

Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise." 



26 

So sang our fathers in the sanctuary, generation 
after generation, until one by one they lay down to 
rest in the old burying-ground with an unfaltering 
trust that sometime, at the mighty blast of the arch- 
angel's trumpet, they shoyld arise and stand in their 
flesh before God, singing with a now united xoice, 
the glorious song of the redeemed. 



SCHOOLS AND SCHOOLMASTERS IX FARMIXG- 
TON LN THE OLDEN TIME.* 



Ladies and Geiitk7nen of the Connecticut Historical Society : 

I have the honor to read for your entertainment this evening, 
an account of the Schools and Schoolmasters of Farminsrton in 
the Olden Time, trusting that it may not be wholly devoid of 
interest to those of other ancestry and other environments. 

Our knowledge of the life of this community for the first forty 
years is most meager, and it may interest the members of this 
Society who have occasion to consult ancient records, to consider 
once for all why this is so. 

The first volume of our town meeting records has disappeared. 
Tradition says the early records were all burned. The Rev. 
William S. Porter, a very learned local antiquary, accepts the tra- 
dition, while the historian of the descendants of Stephen Hart 
draws a lurid picture of Indians dancing at midnight around a 
burning house, and watching with fiendish glee the cremation of 
a whole family. The town records, he says, were burned with 
the house. Let us examine a moment the foundations of this oft 
repeated story. 

The house of Sergeant John Hart, son of Deacon Stephen, the 
immigrant, stood on the west side of the main street, nearly oppo- 
site the meeting-house, and was burned on the night of Saturday, 
December 15, 1666. The Rev. Samuel Danforth, pastor of the 
First Church in Roxbury, kept a diary, and under date of Febru- 
ary II, 1666 (O. S.), entered "Tidings came to vs from Connecti- 
cot, how that on ye 15th of 10 m 66, Sergeant Heart ye son of 
Deacon Heart and his wife & six children, were all burnt in their 
House at Farmington, no man knowing how the fire was kindled, 
neither did any of ye neighbors see ye fire till it was past remedy. 
The church there had kept a Fast at this mans house 2 dayes 



■ A paper read before the Connecticut Historical Society, Jan. 5, 1892, by Julius Gay. 



before. One of his sons being at a farm, escaped this burning." 
The Rev. Simon Bradstreet of New London also kept a journal, 
and under date of December, 1666, entered, " There was a house 
burnt at Farmington in Connecticot jurisdiction. The man, his 
wife (who was with child) and six children were burnt in it. The 
Lord is to bee feared because of his judgments. 129 Psal. 120." 

John Winthrop, Governor of the Colony of Connecticut, writes 
to Col. Richard Nicolls, the Royal Governor at New York, under 
date of December 24, 1666, and the paper states that "a narra- 
tive of the sad accident of ye fire at Serg. Sol. Harts at Farming- 
ton was also inclosed." 

The Indians had, therefore, nothing to do with the fire. Mesa- 
pano, Cherry, and the rest of them, had indulged in that amuse- 
ment once too much some nine years before, and the Colonial 
Records show ample reason why they were not likely to repeat 
their indiscretion. We shall soon see how such accidents hap- 
pened without any help from savage malice. There is no reason 
to suppose that any records were ever burned. None seem to be 
missing but the most interesting volume of them all, the minutes 
of town meetings for the first forty years, and the history of that 
book is briefly this. At a meeting held December 27, 1682, the 
town voted that " the Ould Touen Book should bee keept by the 
Touensmen annually as they are chosen & thoes persons yt will 
have any act or grant yt is therein, transcribed into ye New book, 
it shall bee don att their oun proper charg and cost." In 1709, 
a notch in the top of the leaf is reported and the exact size is 
given. In 17 14 the clerk reports a still larger "gap torn out at 
ye top of ye leafe." Some thirty-three extracts were made from 
the old book, and from the dates, we learn that the old book was 
in existence eighteen years before the fire, and fifty-two years 
after the fire, and simply fell in pieces, and no one cared enough 
for it to rebind or save it. Thus much in explanation of our want 
of information about the earliest schools of the town. 

The Puritan Fathers of New England founded the church and 
the school simultaneously. They were their two strong defenses 
in the eternal warfare in which they were engaged, a strife not 
simply with savage beasts and savage men, but with the powers of 
darkness who seemed to them to have made the gloomy forests of 
New England especially their home. They did not found the school 
so much from their love of learning, though there were ripe and rare 
scholars among them, but from the religious motives very clearly 



set forth in their code of 1650. "It being," so runs the code, 
"one chiefe project of that old deluder Sathan to keepe men 
from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times keep- 
ing them in an vnknowne tongue, so in these latter times by per- 
swading them from the vse of Tongues, so that at least the true 
sence and meaning of the originall might bee clouded with false 
glosses of saint-seeming deceiuers ; and, that Learning may not 
bee buried in the Grave of o'' Forefathers, in Church and Common- 
wealth, the Lord assisting our endeauors. It is therefore ordered 
by this Courte and Authority thereof, that euery Townshipp 
within this Jurissdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to 
the number of fifty householders, shall then forthwith appoint one 
within theire Towne to teach all such children as shall resorte to 
him, to write and read." 

For the first sixty years of its existence as a town, the inhabit- 
ants of Farmington met annually in town meeting to transact all 
public business, whether pertaining to the town, the church, or 
the school. About the year 1686, Richard Seymour and others 
began a settlement near the present north line of the town of 
Berlin on the road known as Christian Lane. The settlement 
prospered, and in 1705 the General Assembly made it into a dis- 
tinct society called the Great Swamp Society, the remaining part 
of the town being from this time on known as the First Society of 
Farmington. For ninety years thereafter the inhabitants met in 
society meetings in di\ers places to vote upon matters relating to 
churches and schools, and in town meetings at the center for all 
other public matters. At the May session of the General Assem- 
bly of 1795 certain moneys were granted to towns and societies, 
and the societies which received them began to be called by the 
Assembly, School Societies. On the 29th of October of that 
year the First School Society of Farmington was organized, and 
thenceforth for sixty years the division of the public business was 
a triple one. The Ecclesiastical Society provided for the church, 
the School Society for schools and cemeteries, and the town for 
all other matters. In 1856 the legislature abolished school socie- 
ties, and ever since the Ecclesiastical Society has been confined to 
the care of matters religious, and the town to matters secular. 

By the code of 1650 reading and writing were to be taught in 
all public schools, and, whenever any town increased to the 
number of one hundred families, it was required to set up a 
Grammar school, that is, a school in which the Latin and Greek 



languages were taught. That a somewhat high standard was 
aimed at in this town will appear from the qualifications required 
of the masters. The first master of whom we have any knowl- 
edge was a minister. In 16S5 the town voted to procure "a man 
that is so accomplished as to teach children to read and write 
and teach the grammar and also to step into the pulpit to be help- 
ful there in time of exigency." 

In 1693 they desired " a man that is in a capacity to teach both 
Latin and English, and, in time of exigency, to be helpful to Mr. 
Hooker in the ministry." A similar vote was passed the next 
year. All this learned instruction was to be given in the winter 
schools which the older boys attended. The proper education in 
this town for females was settled by a judicial decision in 1656. 
The previous year Thomas Thomson of Farmington, the first of 
that numerous family, died and left in his will directions for the 
education of his children. The court in Hartford, " finding many 
terms or expressions therein dark and intricate," decided "that 
the sons shall have learning to write plainly and read distinctly 
in the Bible, and the daughters to read and sew sufficiently for 
the making of their ordinary linen." The same court in 1655, on 
the death of Thomas Gridley of Hartford, ordered the adminis- 
trator to " well educate ye children, learning ye sonnes to read 
and write and ye daughters to read and sew well." 

Writing was an accomplishment not considered necessary for 
females. To the girls and smaller children, a female teacher 
gave instruction in the summer months. In 1747 the society 
" granted to ye Scoll dame yt kept scool of the Inhabitants att 
Sider brook ye same Sallery pr week as they gave ye dames in 
the Town plat." 

The Dames' School was an institution with which the first set- 
tlers had been familiar in the land of their childhood. Shenstone, 
born in 17 14, thus describes good Mistress Sarah Lloyd, his 
early teacher, in the poem of " The Schoolmistress : " 

"In every village mark'd with little spire, 

Embowered in trees, and hardly known to fame, 

There dwells, in lowly shed and mean attire, 
A matron old, whom we schoolmistress name. 
Who boasts unruly brats with birch to tame. 

The noises intermixed, which thence resound, 

Do learning's little tenement betray; 
Where sits the dame, disguised in look profound, 
And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheel around." 



5 

I am not aware that the spinning wheel forms a part of the 
philosophical apparatus of the modern school, nor would the 
youthful schoolmistress of the present day find much in common 
with the dame of two centuries ago, either in appearance or man- 
ner or attire. 

" Her ca]5, far whiter than the driven snow, 

Emblem right meet, of decency does yield ; 
Her apron, dyed in grain, as blue, I trowe. 

As is the hare-bell that adorns the field ; 

And in her hand, for scepter, she does wield 
Tway birchen sprays, with anxious fears entwined, 

With steadfast hate and sharp affliction joined. 
And fury uncontrolled, and chastisement unkind." 

Possibly, good Mistress Lloyd might have had something on 
the other hand to say about the boy Shenstone. In more loving 
terms does Henry Kirke White paint the village matron of his 
youth, good Mistress Garrington. 

" Gentle of heart, yet knowing well to rule. 
Staid was the dalne, and modest was the mien. 
Her garb was coarse, yet whole and nicely clean ; 
Her neatly border'd cap, as lily fair. 
Beneath her chin was pinn'd with decent care ; 
And pendant ruffles of the whitest lawn, 
Of ancient make her elbows did adorn. 
Faint with age, and dim were grown her eyes ; 
A pair of spectacles their want supplies." 

Let us not regret that " Old times are changed, old manners 
gone." But what shall we say of the discipline of the winter 
school with its big boys and strong-armed master? The Puritan 
took the Bible, Old Testament as well as New, for his infallible 
guide, and when he read " He that spareth his rod hateth his 
son," he did not presume to be wiser than Solomon. It was the 
Englishman's belief that the learned languages could only be 
taught by a constant application of the rod. Bennet Langton is 
said to have once complimented Dr. Johnson on his skill in 
Latin. " Sir," said the great moralist, " My master whipt me 
very well. Without that I should have done nothing." It was a 
common notion of the older boys in New England schools, down 
to quite a recent time, that a master who had not the physical 
ability to give them a sound thrashing could teach them nothing. 
Many years ago a gentleman, then prominent in the public affairs 
of the town, told me the custom in the district school of his boy- 



hood. Winter after winter the boys had turned the master 
out of doors, until the school had become a total failure. The 
committee were at their wits' end. Finally, they heard of a young 
man in a distant tow^n who thought he could teach the school. The 
committee thought otherwise, but, as no one else would under- 
take it, they engaged him. The very first day showed the boys 
that a new manner of man had come among them, and they went 
home battered and bruised and howling to their parents for 
vengeance. Their fathers were terribly enraged, and vowed that 
the very next morning they would show that master that he 
could not treat their boys in that sort of way. When the school 
bell jingled the next morning, every boy was in his place and 
everything went on in perfect order. An unusual stillness per- 
vaded the room, but it was a deathlike stillness that boded no 
good to the master. A fire of oak logs was blazing in the fire- 
place, and the master now and then stirred it up with the big 
iron shovel, which somehow he neglected to remove from the 
logs, and left it there with its long iron handle sticking out 
within easy reach of his desk. It was none to soon, for in a few 
minutes half a dozen burly men tramped into the room without 
any useless ceremony of knocking, and having briefly stated 
their business, made a rush for the schoolmaster. Drawing the 
huge iron shovel, blazing red-hot from the fire, he brought it 
down on their luckless pates with all the power of his strong 
arm. If the cherubim, who guarded the gate of Eden, with 
their flaming swords turning every way, had appeared among them, 
they could not have been more overwhelmed with astonishment. 
The action was short and decisive. In a few moments all that 
remained of the intruders was a very bad smell of burnt woolen 
and singed hair. The school that winter was a great success. 
Never had the boys made such progress in the " three Rs," 
but when the committee endeavored to secure the master's 
services for the next winter, he declined. He had proved his 
ability to teach school, and wandered away to fresh fields of 
usefulness. 

The first schoolhouse in Farmington of which we have any 
mention was ordered in 1688, when the town voted "that they 
would have a town house to keep school in, built this year, of 
eighteen-foot square, besides the chimney space, with a suitable 
height for that service, which house is to be built by the town's 
charge," The clause relating to the chimney is significant. 



Chimneys were at first built on the outside of the houses. They 
were not built of bricks, for there were no bricks in the country 
except those brought by the Dutchmen from Holland. They 
were aot built of stone, because they had no lime for mortar 
but the little they could obtain from the burning of oyster shells. 
So they built their chimneys of wood, laid up log-house fashion, 
and lined with clay. Of course the clay was continually coming 
off, and the houses taking fire. The town, therefore, every year 
elected, along with its other officers, a set of men called chimney 
viewers, whose business it was to inspect these chimneys once in 
six weeks in winter, and once a quarter in summer, and who were 
to be fined ten shillings for any neglect of duty. This old plan 
of paying no salaries, but of imposing fines for every neglect of 
duty, did not tend to make offices the spoils of political victory. 
The vote to build this year was not carried out. Two years 
after they added to their committee for this purpose. The 
fourth and fifth years find them voting about finishing the house. 
We do not know where it stood, but probably near the church on the 
land reserved for public uses. This house, which was five years in 
building, continued in use but twenty-five years, when the town 
voted that they would not build a new schoolhouse but repair 
the old one, and then, before the meeting adjourned, voted not 
to repair. The next year, in 1717, the Ecclesiastical Society 
took the matter in hand and voted "to erect a new school- 
house with all convenient speed," and this time, that there 
should forever be no doubt as to its site, they voted that it should 
be " on ye meeting house green and near where the old chestnut 
tree stood." This house was in use until May, 1756, when the 
society voted to sell the schoolhouse in the meeting-house yard 
to the highest bidder. Five months before they had voted to 
build two houses sixteen feet square, or as much larger as the 
committee should judge needful, one at the North end of the 
town and one at the South end. From this time on school- 
houses rapidly multiplied. A division of the town into twelve 
school districts was adopted June 16, 1773, and the inhabitants 
were empowered "to erect schoolhouses in their respective 
districts where and when they please." ' Gov. Treadwell reports 
about the year 1809 that " each of these districts is accommo- 
dated with a schoolhouse convenient and in good repair, 
excepting the Middle and North schoolhouses, which are too 
small for the number of scholars. What the interior arrange- 



8 

ment of the Middle District schoolhouse was which seemed a 
model of convenience to the Governor, has been described to me 
by one who remembers it as long ago as 1820. The arrange- 
ment was the one that I remember at a much later period in the 
Waterville district. Around the wall on all sides ran a wide 
board nailed up at a convenient angle. In front, for a seat, 
was a rough slab, sawed side upward, supported on legs driven 
into augur holes and often projecting above them to the no 
small discomfort of the occupants. The whole arrangement was 
exceedingly simple. Was a class called on to recite, — there was 
no complex marching out to music, but each child, swinging his 
feet over the seat, dropped them down on the other side, and the 
class at once sat facing the teacher ready for recitation. Recita- 
tion over, they swung their feet back again and studies went on as 
before. 

In regard to the support of the public schools of the town, it 
would be interesting to trace the gradual change in the law from 
year to year, but time will not suffice. Those who desire this 
knowledge will find it most fully set down in the report of the 
Hon. Henry Barnard to the legislature of 1853. In the year 
1685 it was voted to establish " a free school in this town " with 
the limitation only, that if the appropriation proved insufficient 
the balance should be made up by the inhabitants whose tax- 
list amounted to one hundred pounds. To all others the. school 
was to be absolutely free. The plan was, however, soon given 
up, and the former plan was renewed, of voting about ten pounds 
a year, and leaving the parents of the scholars to make up the 
rest. Each family was also to provide a load of wood in the 
winter. This plan, with little variation (the provision about wood 
only excepted), continued until the State, in 1868, made all the 
public schools free. 1 well remember, while committee of the 
North District, making out year after year the rate-bills under 
which the parents, usually the poorer ones, paid a large part of 
the school expenses. This may have done some little good in 
making them value what cost them heavily, but on the whole, the 
plan was oppressive aiid unwise. As time went on and our 
ancestors, by patient toil and frugal habits, earned for them- 
selves a more generous life, their first thought was to build up 
certain funds which would, they fondly thought, give their 
descendants a free school for all time. These funds were five in 
number. In the years 1737 and 1738 the land forming the town- 



ships Canaan, Cornwall, Goshen, Kent, Norfolk, Salisbury, and 
Sharon were sold by the Colony of Connecticut and the money 
distributed among the towns of the colony in proportion to their 
tax-lists of the year 1733, the interest to be used for the support 
of their respective schools forever. Treasurers of this school fund 
were appointed in Farmington as early as 1741. To this fund 
in 1 766 was added any sums still clue the colony under the 
excise Act of 1758 on tea and other merchandise which the 
towns could collect. 

The next fund for schools was acquired on this wise. More 
than one hundred years before, in 1672, the town voted that a 
rectangular piece of land extending three miles north of Round 
Hill, two miles east of the meeting-house, three miles south of the 
house of Joseph Hecock and two miles west of Round Hill, should 
be reserved. All other land of the town should be divided among 
the eighty-four tax-payers of that year, in proportion, or nearly so, 
to the amount of their tax-list. This land was divided at different 
times between 1721 and 1764 into thirteen grand divisions, and 
these, for the most part, into tiers of lots one-fourth of a mile 
wide, separated by four-rod highways with much wider ones oc- 
casionally thrown in. These highways were for the most part 
located where no roads were needed or over precipices or through 
swamps where none could be made. The attempt to use one of 
them in the Pine Woods resulted in its being known ever 
since as Folly Road. So, on the 27th of December, 1874, the 
town voted to sell such highways, the avails to be a perpetual 
fund for the support of schools. To avoid any possible illegality, 
the General Assembly passed an Act on the i8th day of May, 
1786, validating such sales. The last sale was made October 
19, 1-819, since which time the courts have held any further 
such sales illegal. Next came the famous School Fund of Con- 
necticut. The colony claimed under the charter of 1662 a strip 
of territory of the width of the present State, beginning at the west 
boundary of Pennsylvania, and extending due west to the South 
Sea, or later on to the Mississippi River. This the State ceded, 
in 1786, to the United States, reserving the small part long known 
as the Western Reserve, lying east of the west bounds of Erie and 
Huron counties in Ohio. From the sale of this Western Reserve 
arose the Connecticut School Fund. The next and last fund was 
derived from the surplus revenue in the treasury of the United 
States, which, by an Act of Congress passed June 23, 1836, was 
2 



lO 

distributed among the several States in proportion to their repre- 
sentation in that body, and known as the Town Deposit Fund. 
Gov. Treadwell made an elaborate estimate of the probable in- 
come from the funds existing in 1799, and rejoiced in the belief 
that it would pay the school expenses of Farmington, and leave 
annually the sum of $447.84 "to be applied to the support of the 
gospel ministry." On the 4th of March, 1799, therefore, the 
School Society appointed " Hon. Lt. Governor Treadwell, 
Timothy Pitkin, Jr., and John Mix Esquires " to petition the Gen- 
eral Assembly, in May of that year, for liberty to use the surplus 
income of the funds for the support of the ministry. The Gen- 
eral Assembly granted this request, but when, on the 5th of Decem- 
ber, 1803, the Ecclesiastical Society applied for the money, its 
request was flatly refused. I'he next year there was a com- 
promise in which the Ecclesiastical Society was allowed the 
money for " the instruction and practice of psalmody in said 
society; provided nevertheless that all dissenters from the mode 
of worship practiced in said society shall be entitled to their 
rateable proportion of said monies." In 1805 and 1806 the 
"Gospel Ministry" secured the money, and also in 1808 when 
the surplus had fallen to "about 137 dollars." After this no 
farther attempt seems to have been made to divert the money 
from strictly educational uses. The schools were becoming more 
numerous and expensive. The parish of Northington claimed its 
share, and perhaps the distant muttering began to be heard of the 
storm which was soon to separate church and state forever. 

The amount of the Town School Fund in 1826 was $9,090.41, 
and in 1881 it was $9,470.58, at which latter date the Town 
Deposit Fund amounted to $4,882.41. 

But enough of funds and finances. Let us go back two cen- 
turies to the old log schoolhouse and consider what our forefathers 
studied in that little cabin. The same meeting that ordered it 
built voted twenty pounds for the instruction of the " male 
children that are through their horning-book." 

The horning-book, more commonly called the horn-book, con- 
sisted of a board about as big as one's hand on which was 
fastened a paper inscribed with the alphabet and usually below 
it the Lord's Prayer. Over all was nailed a thin sheet of trans- 
lucent horn through which the boy could see the characters 
beneath and with his dirty fingers point out great A, little a, and 



II 

so on, without soiling the clean white paper below. Shenstone 
says : 

" Lo ! now with state she utters her command ; 
Eftsoons the urchins to their tasks repair, 
Their books of stature small they take in hand, 
Which with pellucid horn secured are, 
To save from finger wet the letters fair : " 

Cowper describes it as : — 

" Neatly secured from being soiled or torn 
Beneath a pane of thin translucent horn, 
A book (to please us at a tender age 
'Tis called a book, though but a single page), 
Presents the prayer the Saviour deigned to teach. 
Which children use, and parsons, — when they preach." 

The next book in course was a very small one, but was more 
universally read and left a more lasting impression on the New 
England mind than any other book whatever, the Bible alone ex- 
cepted. This was the New England Primer. Primers, formerly 
called prymers or primary books, are among the oldest writings 
in our language. The Vision of Piers Plowman, written about 
1362, enumerates the prymer among priestly books. The Prioress, 
one of the Canterbury Pilgrims whom Chaucer sets forth from the 
old Tabard Inn about 1386, tells of a little child " as he sate in 
the scole at his primere." 

Henry VIII, in 1545, directs that "every schoolmaster and 
bringer-up of young beginners in learning, next after the A. B. 
C. now by us also set forth, do teach this primer or book of or- 
dinary prayers." 

These little books, containing first the doctrines and forms of 
the older church, then the modified forms of the Established 
Church of Henrv and of Elizabeth became bv slow changes the 
chief exponent of New England Calvinism. 

In December, 1645, at a court holden at New Haven, Good- 
wife Stolion was complained of for selling " primers at 9^/ apiece 
Avhich cost but 41^ here in New England." Nothing is certainly 
known of the contents of these early primers. Dr. Trumbull tells 
of one compiled by the Apostle Eliot in i66g for the use of the 
Indians supposed to be substantially the same, the contents of 
which he discovers by translating from Algonkin back into Eng- 
lish. In an "Almanack Containing an Account of the Coelestial 
Motions, Aspects, &c. For the year of the Christian Empire, 
1691." It is adv^ertised that "There is now in the Press, and 



will suddenly be extant, a Second Impression of the New Eng- 
land Primer enlarged, to which is added, more Directions for 
Spelling ; the Prayer of K. Edward the 6th, and Verses made by 
Mr. Rogers the Martyr, left as a Legacy to his Children. Sold 
by Benjamin Harris, at the London Coffee-House in Boston." 

The earliest edition of which a complete copy is known to exist, 
is that of 1737. The first leaf is adorned with a wood-cut of the 
" Man of Sin," followed by one of King George the Second. 
Then come " The Great Capital Letters," " The Small Letters," 
the " Easie Sylables for Children," ab, eb, ib, etc., leading rapidly 
up to A-bom-i-na-ti-on and other words of six sylables. Then 
comes the Alphabet adorned with cuts, beginning with the Alpha 
of the Puritan's faith, — 

" In Adam's Fall 
We sinned all." 

with its representations of Adam, Eve, the Apple, and the Serpent 

coiled around the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The 

succeeding illustrations are worth a moment's consideration as 

showing the gradual change of Puritan thought. Their early 

maxims of prudence and morality, after the great revivals which 

followed the preaching of Edwards and Bellamy, for a while 

gave place to solemn precepts of religion, and these were in turn 

modified by the taste of later times. Against the letter C stood 

the rhyme : — 

" The Cat doth play 
And a,fter slay," 

with a picture of a cat standing on her hind-legs and playing on a 
pipe. 

This was discarded for the solemn utterance — 

" Christ crucify'd 
For sinners Dy'd." 

Subsequently the cat was reinstated, this time playing the 
fiddle and still later playing with an unlucky mouse after the 
manner of cats. Against the letter D the old rhyme 

"A dog will bite 
A thief at night," 

was dropped, and we read 

"The Deluge drown'd 
The world around ; " 

but the picture of the thief with his bag of plunder and the dog 



13 

hard after him taught too valuable a lesson to be lost, and the 
" Deluge " had at length to give place. The loyal utterance 

" Our King the good 
No man of blood;" 

became 

"Proud Korah's Troop 
Was swallowed up," 

for which an edition of 1812 has 

"Tis Youths' Delight 
To fly their Kite." 

For the letter O the old version had 

"The Royal Oak, it was the Tree 
That sav'd His Royal Majesty ; " 

but the memory of Charles was not very dear to them and so 

they substituted a tribute in honor of three Old Testament 

worthies — 

"Young Obadias, 
David, Josias, 
All were pious." 

The Royal Oak was at length reinstated, and finally a Hartford 
edition is said to have improved it into 

"The Charter Oak it was the Tree 
That saved to us our Liberty." 

The solemn admonition 

" Time cuts down all 
Both great and small," 

could not hold its place against the couplet — 

" Young Timothy 
Learnt sin to fly." 

with a picture of Sin which amply justifies Timothy's flight. But 
Time proved too strong for Timothy and at length reappears at 
the top of the page with his scythe and forelock. There was 
much other matter in the New England Primer which we have no 
time to consider, a very learned and entertaining account of 
which by Dr. Trumbull may be found in the numbers of the 
Sunday School limes for 1882. All this matter was designed to 
lead the youthful mind gradually up to the contemplation of the 
grand end and aim of the book. The Westminster Assembly's 
Shorter Catechism, beginning with "What is the chief end of man," 



M 

and going on through the profoundest doctrines of Calvinism. 
Saturday was devoted to the study of this catechism, and the 
minister, at stated times, examined the children upon their 
knowledge of its contents. As if this were not enough, the code 
of 1650 enjoined upon "the Selectmen of every Town . . . 
to see . . . that all Masters of families do once a week at 
least catechise their children and servants in the grounds and 
principles of religion " 

Not only was the catechism of the Westminster divines taught 
in the schools, but every church and town had some other 
favorite one adapted to their especial needs. That of the Rev. 
John Cotton, in very common use, was entitled "Spiritual Milk 
for BOSTON BABES in either England Drawn out of the Breasts of 
both Testaments for their Souls Nourishment." The Rev. Mr. 
Stone of Hartford wrote one for his church, and another, in the 
most illegible penmanship I am acquainted with, is inscribed on 
the first record-book of the church in Farmington. It contains 
such questions as, " Is original sin an exorbitation of a man's 
whole nature from the whole law, and actual sin the exorbitation 
of the action from the law ? " The youthful mind having become 
familiar with the distinction between original sin and actual sin, 
was next asked "Was Adam's transgression carried on in his 
own person, or was it imputed to his seed .-' " By which time he 
must have been ready to exclaim in the words of the next 
question, " What is this .... original sin ? " However 
absurd these doctrines may seem to some or hateful to others, to 
the Godfearing men of old they were the most terrible of reali- 
ties. The remaining list of school books is a short one. The 
Bible was, no doubt, read, but it was not an age of Bible 
Societies and cheap Bibles. The word of God in every house- 
hold was a costly book handed down with reverence from father 
to son like that of the cotter of Burns. " The big ha'-Bible, 
ance his father's pride," Probably some cheaper edition of the 
New Testament supplied their needs. At a later day in 1815 
the overseers of public schools in Farmington adopted the 
following rules concerning the use of the Bible and Catechism, 
interesting as showing the reverential and law-abiding spirit of a 
bygone time. 

" The masters will select such lessons from the Bible for those 
who read therein, as they can best understand ; and will fre- 
quently explain and inculcate such truths in the course of read- 



IS 

ing, as lie nearest the level of their capacities, by occasional 
remarks or a more solemn address ; particularly their obligations 
to honour and obey their parents ; to be subject to magistrates 
and all in authority ; to revere the ministers of the gospel ; to 
respect the aged and all their superiors ; to reverence the 
sabbath, the word and worship of God ; also to remind them of 
their dependence on God, of their accountability to him, of their 
mortality, and of the importance of religion both as a prepara- 
tion for death, and the only means of true peace, comfort, and 
usefulness in the world. On Saturdays the masters will teach 
the children the catechism before mentioned ; and it is expected 
that all such as go through a course of ordinary school learning, 
will commit the whole to memory, so as to be able promptly to 
answer every question therein." 

The Assembly's Catechism continued in use until 1846, when 
it was voted to use the " Catechisms of Religious Denominations 
among us." 

The character of the teachers who were to give this religious 
instruction was carefully considered. By the rules of 1825, 1841, 
and 1846, each candidate must formally declare his belief in the 
divine inspiration of the Scriptures. 

In 1825 DaboU's Arithmetic was formally introduced into the 
schools, having been in use for about ten years in the Farming- 
ton Academy. Probably it M^as the first text-book in Arithmetic 
ever used in our public schools. 

In 1805, twenty years before, only "some useful arithmetical 
tables were ordered by the board of overseers." Previous to the 
Revolution, Arithmetic was no more taught in the common 
schools than Differential Calculus is now. It was one of the 
higher studies considered of no use outside of the counting-room. 
Slates and blackboards were unknown, and if the pedagogue 
could put a few columns of figures on paper for some youthful 
prodigy to foot, he was thought something uncommon, while to 
read his Bible in Latin and Greek was not an unusual accomplish- 
ment. 

In 1796 the School Society ordered the introduction of "Web- 
ster's Institute in all its parts," and directed that the Bible should 
be read as the closing exercise of the afternoon. By Webster's 
Institute in all its parts, was meant : Part First, the famous Spell- 
ing Book ; Part Second, " A plain and comprehensive Grammar 
founded on the true principles and idioms of the language,'' 



i6 

which, however, never came into general use ; Part Third, " An 
American Selection of lessons in reading and speaking, calculated 
to improve the Minds and refine the Taste of Youth," etc., etc., 
more familiarly known simply as " The Third Part." Webster's 
Spelling Book held its place for seventy-eight years until it was 
voted out in 1874, and the school boy no longer reads of the Boy 
that stole Apples, or of the Milk-maid who prematurely counted 
her chickens, of Poor Tray, The Partial Judge, and all the other 
wholesome lessons in morality. 

Webster's Third Part, coming after the war of Independence, 
was largely made up of the patriotic orations of Hancock, War- 
ren, Ames, Livingston, and other American orators, with the 
Fourth of July oration of Joel Barlow at the North Church in 
Hartford. It would hardly be read with much enthusiasm by the 
boy of to-day, but at the beginning of the century every boy was 
taught to consider himself a possible President of the United 
States, and school declamations were thought a useful prepara- 
tion for the future statesman. 

The Columbian Orator was introduced in 18 18, and Scott's 
Lessons in Elocution in 1825. Declamation led to dialogue, 
and soon the last half of the winter term was given up to prepa- 
ration for the closing exhibition. Moreover, the Hartford Thea- 
ter had just been opened in 1795, and the Cotinecticut Courant 
in a long editorial had held it up as a worthy school of morals. 
The theater was to the Puritan the most alluring portal to the 
bottomless pit, and all that fostered a love of the drama must be 
crushed out. Gov. Tread well, about the year 1800, says of the 
school visitors, "They have discontinued all attempts at public 
speaking in declamations, dialogues, and theatrical representa- 
tions, as not suited to the years of the scholars, as calculated to 
foster pride, to raise them in their own view into men and women 
before their time, and like hot beds to force a premature growth 
for ignorance and folly to stare at." In place of the proscribed 
exhibitions, there were introduced annual examinations of the first 
classes of all public schools of the town which took place in the 
meeting-house until the year 18 18, when they began to be held in 
the " Union Hall," or upper room of the new Academy building. 
District vied with district in reading, spelling, and especially in 
saying the catechism, as they styled it. They were repeated 
annually until 1822. In 1841 an attempt was made to revive them, 
and they were held for five years. 1 remember attending one in 



17 

the meeting-house, March 15, 1844, in which, with the exception 
of a fine display by the West District School under the instruc- 
tion of Mr. John N. Bartlett, now Superintendent of Schools in 
New Britain, the exercises were not especially interesting. 

In 1816 the Farmington Academy was opened with Mr. Epaph- 
ras Goodman as principal, who was succeeded in 1823 by Simeon 
Hart, Jr., long known and honored by the more familiar name of 
Deacon Hart. Deacon Hart, who dearly loved to make boys 
happy, revived in that institution the old school exhibitions. An 
account of the entertainment concluding his first year in the 
Academy is preserved in the diary of a very lovely girl of sixteen. 
As this exhibition had some interesting peculiarities not now 
associated with dramatic performances, I give a few extracts. 
The exhibition took place November 13, 1823, in the meeting- 
house, where a part of the room was curtained off, and the cur- 
tains hung with festoons of roses by the young ladies of the 
school. She says " The scholars met at the schoolroom and 
walked over in procession. We had two flutes which supplied us 

with music between the scenes We had plenty of 

cake and wine behind the curtains and all was mirth and happi- 
ness. Our dialogue was the last — ' Not at Home.' — When that 
was through the scholars who had been engaged during the even- 
ing with speaking, formed a semi-circle on the stage and Mr. 
Porter stood in the center and made a prayer, which closed the 
exercises of the evening." 

In 1826 another exhibition took place, but our youthful diarist 
was not among the number of the happy actors. For two years 
the grass had groAvn above her grave. Most of the actors were 
scholars from other towns, but a few have familiar names. One 
of the principal scenes was from the then very famous tragedy of 
Douglas, by John Home, a minister of the Kirk of Scotland. It 
was first represented in Edinburgh, when the delighted Scotch- 
men, wild with enthusiasm, exclaimed with one accord "Where is 
Wully Shakespeare noo." In this scene, Edward L. Hart, after- 
wards a very successful and beloved teacher in this town, de- 
claimed the words so familiar to the school-boy ears of our 
fathers : 

" My name is Nerval. On the Grampian Hills 
My father feeds his flocks, a frugal swain " 

and Noah Porter, Jr., now the venerable ex-president of Yale, had 
the part of John, and later in the evening, acted the part of a 

3 



i8 

Frenchman in a play called "The Will or the Power of Medicine." 
The next year N. Porter, Jr., Ralph Cowles, and Edward L. Hart, 
recite a colloquy " On Improvements in Education," and Winthrop 
M. Wadsworth, then a youth of fourteen, acts the part of John 
Hickory in " The Country Boy," with Timothy Pitkin, son of the 
Hon. Timothy Pitkin, as Hotspur. Elijah L. Lewis has the part 
of Philip in the play of " The Curfew," in which N. Porter, Jr., is 
a robber disguised as a minstrel. 

The example of the Academy boys and girls excited the emula- 
tion of the scholars in the district schools, who no longer had the 
fear of Gov. Treadwell and the school visitors of 1800 before their 
eyes. The favorite plays were those of a martial order, and 
happy was the boy who could wear a sword, and in grandiloquent 
language challenge some other youth to deadly encoluiter. 

I remember seeing the Combat in Sir Walter Scott's Lady of 
the Lake enacted, James Fitz James appearing in the uniform 
of the Farmington Grenadiers with its Roman helmet and tower- 
ing white plume, while Roderick Dhu was arrayed in the red and 
blue uniform, or whatever it was, of the Bushwacker Company. 

Before closing the subject of schools, perhaps you will expect 
some mention of the Indian School in Farmington. In the year 
1706 the General Assembly desired "the reverend ministers of 
the colony " to present to the next Assembly a plan for promot- 
ing the conversion of the natives. In 17 17 they resolve " that the 
business of gospelizing the Indians be referred to the sessions of 
the Assembly in October next." The result, after a long delay, 
seems to have been the establishment of the somewhat famous 
Indian school at Mohegan, and of another at Farmington. In 
October, 1733, "On a report made by the Reverend Mr. Samuel 
Whitman of Farmington relating to the Indians in said town ; 
This Assembly do appoint Capt. William Wadsworth and Capt. 
Josiah Hart of said Farmington, to provide for the dieting of the 
Indian youth at four shillings per week for the time they attend 
the school in said town." On the 27th of May, 1734, the Rev. 
Samuel Whitman writes to Gov. Talcott, " May it please your 
Honour. I understand that ye Act of Assembly relating to ye 
boarding out of Indian children in order to their being schooled 
is expired, and having a few moments to turn my thoughts on that 
affair, hope that ye defects in what is here brokenly offered will 
be overlooked. I have leisure only to inform your Honour that 
of the nine Indian lads that were kept at school last winter, 3 can 



19 

read well in a testament, 3 currently in a psalter, and 3 are in 
their primers. Testaments & psalters have been provided for 
those that read in them, 3 of ye Indian lads are entered in writ- 
ing and one begins to write a legible hand. I thank the Assem- 
bly on their behalf for their care of ym & past bounty to them 
and pray that that Act of Assembly be revived and continued, 
not at all doubting but ye pious care of ye government for ye 
education of ye Indians is pleasing to heaven, and may be of ad- 
vantage to some of them so yt they may be saved by coming to 
the knowledge of the truth. I ha'nt time to enlarge but 

remain your Honour's humble and Obedient Servant 

Sam" Whitman." 

An itemized account was rendered of the amounts paid to Dea- 
con Timothy Porter and seven others named, for the board of 
these boys. Appropriations for the school were made by the 
Assembly for three successive years. In the next year, 1736, 
instead of the annual appropriation, the General Assembly ordered 
a contribution for civilizing and christianizing of the Indian 
natives to be taken " at the next public Thanksgiving." 

The contribution was duly taken, but, whether from the peculiar 
regard felt for the Indian or from other causes, it consisted so 
largely of uncurrent money that the General Assembly at its next 
session appointed a committee " to receive the contribution money 
for gospelizing the Indians and exchange the torn bills with the 
Treasurer." 

But iet us not forget the schoolmasters of the olden line. The 
records rarely name them. They give, with labored precision, year 
after year, long lists of committees, treasurers, collectors and what 
not, but the schoolmaster, the center and life of the whole system, 
and the only man we much care to know about, is rarely men- 
tioned. Mr. James is the first master named. This was the Rev. 
John James, who came from England, where he had been under 
the instruction of a Mr. Veal, a dissenting minister. We first 
hear of him in January, 1683, when a committee from Haddam 
was chosen "to go to New London and speak with Mr. John James 
in reference to securing him to be our minister." In May, 1684, 
the town of Farmington "agreed that the town would give twenty- 
five pounds as a town by the year for the encouragement of Mr. 
James to teach school and so proportionably so long as the town 
and he shall agree," In December of the same year they chose 
a committee "to treat and agree with Mr. James for to teach 



20 

school for one year after his year agreed for is up." In Decem- 
ber, 1686, the town of Haddam made another and probably suc- 
cessful attempt to secure his services, and voted "that if Mr. 
James stand in need of a house to live in, he shall have Mr. 
Noyes's house and orchard and pasture for one year." 

Sev^en years afterwards he began to preach in Derby, where he 
soon became preacher, schoolmaster, and town clerk. In 1706 
he was sick and disabled and removed to Wethersfield, where he 
died August 9, 1729, aged about 72. 

Dr. Stiles, visiting the Prince Library in Boston in 1770, made 
some memoranda from a letter of Rev. Stephen Mix of Wethers- 
field, dated September 22, 1729. "He came from England, I 
should think, 40 years since. Devoted to Books. Was some 
time Pastor of the church in Derby. Some years before his death 
he removed hither, living a private life. Delivery very ungrace- 
ful. Died a good man." Dr. David Dudley Field, in his 
"Statistical Account of the Town of Haddam," says, "Some 
ludicrous anecdotes are transmitted respecting him, and are now 
widely circulated in the country;" but Dr. Field and most of the 
good people living in Haddam in 1819 are dead, and the aforesaid 
ancedotes do not seem to have survived them. The Rev. Gurdon 
Saltonstall, writing to John Winthrop of an attack on New London 
by French privateers on the morning of July 17, 1690, alludes to 
a Mr. James, who was without much doubt our early school- 
master He writes, " my wife & family was posted at your Hon'' 
a considerable while, it being thought to be ye most convenient 
place for the feminine rendevouz. Mr. James (who commands in 
cheife among them) upon ye coast alarme given, faceth to ye mill, 
gathers like a snowball as he goes, make a generall muster at 
your Hon", and so posts away with the greatest speed, to take ye 
advantage of ye neighbouring rocky hills, craggy inaccessible 
mountaines ; so that w' ever els is lost, Mr. James & ye women 

are safe." 

In 1705 "the town by vote declared it to be their minds that 
Mr. Luke Hayes shall not be further employed in teaching of 
school." This votes implies that he had previously taught, and 
the title Mr. at that day cannot very well be construed to mean 
other than Reverend. Two years afterwards they vote that Mr. 
Luke Hayes shall not be further employed in teaching of school. 
Luke had married Elizabeth, daughter of Deacon John Langdon, 
deceased, and lived in the leanto of his house, which stood near the 



21 

present site of the South District schoolhouse. Elizabeth died in 
1703, and Luke married Maudlin, whose maiden name was probably 
Daniels. She was a much-marrying woman, having had at least 
four husbands of various nationalities and colors. First she married 
Samuel, son of Rev. Samuel Street of Wallingford; next, in 1696, she 
married Frank Freeman of Farmington, a negro, a man of property, 
and an office-holder duly elected by the town. He died in a few 
months, and she married next Luke Hayes, who followed his pre- 
decessors in 1712; and in a little more than three years afterwards 
the records inform us that Maudlin Hayes, widow, on the third 
of May, 17 16, married Dennis Hoogins of Ireland. Seven years 
later Maudlin is again a widow. Luke's library is inventoried as 
consisting of one Latin book, which, with other items, was in- 
ventoried at eighteen pence, not one-fourth of what the library of 
his predecessor, Frank Freeman, was valued. 

From the close of the administration of Luke Hayes ten years 
elapse before the name of any succeeding master is recorded. 
On the 8th of January, 17 17-8, the Ecclesiastical Society voted to 
pay William Lewis, schoolmaster, for teaching school the year 
past. It is extremely improbable that this was his first year's 
service, for he was now sixty years old. He was one of the six- 
teen children of Capt. William Lewis, a son of William Lewis, the 
immigrant, who arrived in Boston in the ship Lion on Sunday, 
September i6th, 1632. That William Lewis became a school- 
master is not far to seek. His father married for his second wife 
Mary, daughter of Ezekiel Cheever, the famous school teacher of 
New England, who taught school for seventy years, at New Haven, 
Ipswich, Charlestown, and Boston successively. Ezekiel, a 
younger brother of William, preached occasionally in Farmington 
in 1698 after the death of Rev. Samuel Hooker, but afterwards 
became an assistant teacher in the Latin School of his grand- 
father, Ezekiel Cheever, in Boston. 

Schoolmaster William lived in a house which stood on or very 
near the site of the Elm-Tree Inn, and was one of the seven 
houses which the town, on the 31st day of March, 1704, ordered 
to be fortified and supplied with powder, lead bullets, flints, and 
half-pikes. This was during the French and Indian War. Not 
only did Master William Lewis teach school, but the Society ap- 
pointed him collector to collect of the parents of his scholars 
their share of the rate bill and the wood tax. For this service he 
was to receive " five shillings as a reward for his trouble "; but let 



22 

no one presume to envy him his reward. The effigy of Queen 
Anne or of George the First on the coin of the reahn was a rare 
sight to the farmer of 17 17. Year by year the town voted how 
taxes should be paid, and this year ordered payment in wheat at 
five shillings per bushel, rye at three shillings, and Indian corn at 
two shillings and eight pence. The office of collector was no 
sinecure. 

It was many years before we learn the name of any succeeding 
master. The olden time was gone and the modern teachers are 
well known ; nevertheless, I cannot well constrain myself from 
paying a brief tribute to the memory of the noblest of them all. 
Deacon Simeon Hart, the teacher of my boyhood. He was a 
member of this society, admitted in 1840, and a frequent donor to 
its collections. No minute account of his life is needed. To 
some of you his face and voice and person were a familiar bene- 
diction. Others can read of him on the printed page. I shall 
'confine myself to a very few personal recollections. Most prom- 
inent in the character of Deacon Hart was his profound but 
unaffected piety. Next to his religious life, and growing out of 
it, through love of his fellow men, appeared his wonderful public 
spirit. He was no originator of brilliant schemes which ended 
in failure and the setting by the ears of all participants. What- 
ever he undertook, his remarkable practical good sense was sure 
to carry through, and when all was done, he invariably paid much 
more than his share of the expense. By his foresight and gener- 
osity was built the Farmington Female Seminary building with 
its wide-reaching consequences. He was the first treasurer of 
the Farmington Savings Bank and its principal founder. Perhaps 
his next most conspicuous characteristic was his love of farming, 
I remember hearing him deliver the annual address before the 
Hartford County Agricultural Society in October, 1849. I"^^^ 
Department of Philosophy and the Arts, providing instruction in 
Agricultural Chemistry, had just been established in Yale College, 
and Professor John Pitkin Norton, with all the energy and zeal 
of his enthusiastic nature, was lecturing all over the country about 
the new science. The notion somehow was prevalent that the 
•farmer had only to send a few pounds of soil from his farm to 
New Haven for analysis, and then, putting this alongside of the 
known analysis of the different grains, could at once know how 
to doctor his farm and pour untold wealth into his granaries. 



The object of Deacon Hart's address was to explain what the new 
science really proposed. It was as successful as most attempts 
to popularize science. He had much to say also of what seemed 
to him the delightful life of the farmer, his independence, his 
long winter evenings for social and intellectual enjoyments, and 
the firm and vigorous health which crowned his labors. As a 
schoolmaster, he could not well refrain from closing his address 
with an extract from the Georgics of Virgil, about the fortunate 
husbandmen needing no lofty palaces, or gold embroidered gar- 
ments, or delicate perfumes, but happy in quiet security, honest 
lives, and abundant riches. Anyone who ever attended school in 
the front basement room of his house, will doubtless remember 
the " Catechism of Agricultural Chemistry," edited by Prof. Nor- 
ton. Other studies were somewhat optional, but that book every 
boy had to study. None were excused, whether intending to be 
farmers or merchants or "professional men. It made no differ- 
ence. That book they had to learn. Mr. Hart had a fondness 
for scientific studies, and many were the brilliant experiments he 
showed us in that old basement room. His experiments were 
always successful. He did not say " Young men, we will mix 
these two colorless fluids and the result will be a brilliant blue," 
and then have it turn out red. If he said blue, blue it was. His 
profound religious beliefs and his scientific knowledge did not con- 
flict. The time for plans to harmonize religion and science 
annually brought out and then laid aside, had not come. I re- 
member on one of those glorious rides to the Tower, which he 
gave the boys, we noticed a huge rock split from top to bottom, 
and when the boys asked how it came in that condition, the Dea- 
con, doubtless having in mind a recent Sunday-school lesson, 
replied, that it might have occurred at the time of the crucifixion, 
when the earth did quake and the rocks were rent ; which was 
not bad science for the year of grace 1846. 

Such, so far as I have been able to describe them, were the 
schools and schoolmasters of Farmington in the Olden Time. 
We, in these modern days, have increased the cost of schools 
many fold. We have introduced studies, the very names of which 
were unknown to Our ancestors. We teach wonders in science 
which they would speedily have set down to dealings with " that 
old deluder Sathan." The funds which their pious care provided, 
our towns and cities have in many cases used in payment of their 



24 

debts, and issued bonds for their children to pay. We have 
broadened our theology, extended our intellectual horizon, put 
all manner of learning within easy reach of all, but let us not for- 
get that the men and women who went forth from the old log 
schoolhouse to found and preserve our free institutions and 
make our modern scholarship possible, have earned our profound- 
est gratitude, and are worthy of eternal honor. 



jfarmiuGton in tbe Mar of the IRevolution 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



ANNUAL MEETING 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 
May 3, 1893 



Bf JULIUS GAY 



HARTFORD, CONN. 
Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

1893 



jfarmiiiGton in tbc Mar of tbc IRevolution 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



ANNUAL MEETING 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

May 3, 1893 



By JULIUS GAY 



HARTFORD, CONN. 
Press of' The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Comtany 

1893 



ADDRESS. 



Ladies and GentlerneJi of the Village Library Company of 
Farviington : 

I propose this evening to answer, in a somewhat 
informal way, certain questions often asked about Farm- 
ington in the days of the Revolution. I shall have little 
to say of battles and campaigns, and great generals. A 
glimpse, and only a glimpse, we may have of Washing- 
ton as he rides into the forest toward Litchfield, soon to 
learn of the treachery of Arnold. All these weightier 
matters every schoolboy knows, or ought to know. My 
subject lies nearer home, of little interest but to those 
whose grandsires here lived, and from this valley went 
out to preserve its liberties. 

The visitor to the old cemetery, after passing through 
the gateway with its grim inscription, " Metnento Mori,'' 
and climbing the steep pathway beyond, soon finds on his 
left a stone with this inscription : " In Memory of | Mr. 
Matthias Leaming | Who hars got | Beyond the reach of 
Parcecushion. | The life of man is Vanity." There is no 
date of death or record of age. It is not so much the 
memorial of an individual as of a lost cause. Its posi- 
tion, facing in opposition to all the other stones, is itself a 
protest. ]\Iatthias Leaming was a Tory, or, as he pre- 
ferred to be called, a Loyalist. At the close of the war 
the Tories mostly fled to England, Nova Scotia, New 
Brunswick, and Canada, and in 1 790 were allowed fifteen 
and one-half millions of dollars by the Crown, besides 
annuities, offices, and other gifts, in recompense for their 



services and sufferings. So few remained here that we 
hardly realize that once, taking New England as a whole, 
they were as numerous and wealthy as the patriot party. 
We have no time to consider at length the causes of the 
war, but certain things we must bear in mind if we.would 
at all understand the spirit of the times. The orators had 
much to say of taxation without representation, and stout 
Dr. Johnson replied in vigorous English that taxation was 
no tyranny. Other matters, however, less abstract, had 
gradually prepared the patriots to resist to the death this 
last imposition. The colonists were denied the right to 
manufacture for themselves almost all articles of neces- 
sity, but must import them from some Englishman whose 
sovereign had given him the monopoly. Their commerce 
was restricted to British ports. Even the agricultural 
products of the neighboring West Indies must first be 
shipped to England before they could be landed in Bos- 
ton. They were denied a market either for sale or pur- 
chase outside of the dominion of Great Britain. The 
British merchant could say, " You shall trade at my shop 
or starve, and you shall make nothing for yourselves." 
Their solemn charters were annulled, authority to elect 
their principal officers was denied them, and the right to 
assemble in town meeting abolished. Repeatedly his 
Majesty asked, in a long list of questions submitted to the 
General Assembly of Connecticut, where his dutiful sub- 
jects bought and sold, and what they presumed to manu- 
facture, and repeatedly he was shrewdly answered. So 
long as diplomacy and downright, wholesale smuggling 
availed, the crisis was averted, but when the wants of the 
British treasury, and especially of the East India Com- 
pany, demanded a rigorous enforcement of the laws, the 
situation became intolerable. To all this was added the 
threat of vigorous government by lords spiritual as well 



5 

as lords temporal, from which they had once for all 
escaped. 

The lapse of a hundred years has made the position 
of the loyalists, who were ready to submit to all demands 
of their divinely anointed king as a matter of course, a 
mystery to us whose habitual treatment of our highest 
magistrate has not trained us in habits of reverence. The 
graceful sentiments of Sir Walter Scott's heroine have to 
us an unreal sound : 

" Lands and manors pass away, 

We but share our monarch's lot. 
If no more our annals show 

Battles won and banners taken, 
Still in death, defeat, and wo, 
Ours be loyalty unshaken ! " 

More easily can we understand the sturdy independ- 
ence of the patriots. They came to these shores, not for 
religious freedom, which was a principle unknown, but to 
establish a church of their own and a government of their 
own, such as their consciences demanded, narrow, as our 
vision, broadened by two centuries, looks upon them, but 
established by themselves and for themselves only, where 
there was no one to be interfered with, and leaving in the 
more genial regions of the South plenty of room for the 
colonies of other religious proclivities. How long this 
exclusiveness could be maintained, time has shown. 
These men, to whom Church and State were one, whose 
relieion was a covenant with God, between whom and 
themselves they allowed no human mediator, were the 
men whom George III thought to crush. 

On the 31st of March, 1774, the Boston Port bill was 
signed, and on the ist of June it went into effect. Its 
reception in this town will appear in the following letter : 

"Farmingtun, Connecticut, May 19. 1774. 
"Early in the morning was found the following handbill, 
posted up in various parts of the town, viz. : 



"'To pass through the fire at six o'clock this evening, in 
honor to the immortal Goddess of Liberty, the late infamous act 
of the British Parliament for farther distressing the American 
colonies. The place of execution will be the public parade, where 
all Sons of Liberty are desired to attend. ' 

"Accordingly, a very numerous and respectable body were 
assembled, of near one thousand people, when a huge pole, just 
forty-five feet high, was erected, and consecrated to the shrine of 
Liberty; after which the act of Parliament for blocking up the 
Boston harbor was read aloud, sentenced to the flames, and exe- 
cuted by the hands of the common hangman. Then the following 
resolves were passed, nci)i con. " 

The resolves were spirited, but too long for our pres- 
ent purpose. 

The Rev. Samuel Peters, of Hebron, notorious as the 
author of "A General History of Connecticut ... by 
a Gentleman of the Province," and inventor of the 
so-called " Blue Laws of Connecticut," comments on 
these proceedings as follows : 

" Farmington burnt the act of Parliament in great contempt 
by their common hangman, when a thousand of her best inhabi- 
tants were convened for that glorious purpose of committing trea- 
son against the king; for which vile conduct they have not been 
styled a pest to Connecticut, and enemies to common sense, either 
by his Honor or any king's attorney, or in any town meeting. We 
sincerely wish and hope a day will be set apart by his Honor very 
soon for fasting and prayer throughout this colony, that the sins 
of those haughty people may not be laid to bur charge." 

We shall hear enough of fast days, but they were not 
proclaimed to bewail the sins of Farmington. 

The situation of the once flourishing port of Boston 
was now most critical, and donations for the relief of its 
suffering inhabitants flowed in from the surrounding 
towns. The action of this town on the 15th of June is 
chronicled at length in the admirable discourse of Presi- 
dent Porter. The following is a letter written by Samuel 
Adams in response to this action, addressed " To Fisher 



Gay, Esq., and the rest of the Committee in Farmington, 
Connecticut. 

"Boston, July 29, 1774. 

"Sir, — I am desired by the Committee of the Town of Boston, 
appointed to receive the donations made by our sympathizing 
brethren, for the employment or relief of such inhabitants of this 
town as are more immediate sufferers by the cruel act of Parlia- 
ment for shutting up this harbor, to acquaint you that our friend, 
Mr. Barrett, has commtniicated to them your letter of the 25th 
instant, advising that 3'ou have shipped, per Captain Israel Wil- 
liams, between three and iowr hundred bushels of rye and Indian 
corn for the above-mentioned purpose, and that you have the sub- 
scriptions still open, and expect after harvest to ship a much 
larger quantity. Mr. Barrett tells us that upon the arrival of Cap- 
tain "Williams he will endorse this bill of lading or receipt to us. 

"The Committee have a very grateful sense of the generosity 
of their friends in Farmington, who may depend upon their dona- 
tions being applied agreeable to their benevolent intention, as it 
is a great satisfaction to the Committee to find the Continent so 
united in opinion. The town of Boston is now suffering for the 
common liberties of America, and while they are aided and sup- 
ported by their friends, I am persuaded they will struggle through 
the conflict, firm and steady. 

"I am, with very great regard, gentlemen, 
" Your friend and countryman, 

"Samuel Ad.a.ms." 

Five weeks later, on the 3d of September, the follow- 
ing agreement was drawn up in the handwriting of Major 
William Judd, and bears the signatures of seventy of the 
principal inhabitants of this village : 

' ' We, whose names are hereunto subscribers, promise and 
engage to be in readiness and duly equipt with arms and ammu- 
nition to proceed to Boston for the relief of our distressed and 
besieged brethren there, and to be under the direction of such 
officers as shall be by us appointed, as witness our hands this 3d 
day of September, A. D. 177 A-" 

A roll of honor on which we may well be pleased to see 
the names of our ancestors recorded. 



8 

Town meeting-s followed in quick succevSsion. On the 
20th of September the Rev. Levi Hart of Preston was 
invited to preach to the assembled freemen of Farming- 
ton on Liberty. He preached them a sermon on " Liberty 
Described and Recommended," but his text must have 
sounded strangely in their ears as he read, " While they 
promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of 
corruption." There w^as not a word about British tyr- 
anny, but a fervid discourse to our merchant princes on 
the horrors of the slave trade. 

vStrang-e doctrine this. Did not the good men of that 
day rejoice in thus delivering benighted souls from the 
heathen darkness of Africa? West India shippers, not 
only of this, but of all trading communities, universally 
engaged in the traftic. Times have changed. Let us 
judge men by the light of their own day. We, no doubt, 
will need like favor badly enough an hundred years 
hence. 

The meeting, at the close of the discourse, proceeded 
to vote thirty hundred-weight of lead, ten thousand 
French flints, and thirty six barrels of powder. A little 
later they voted "that the several constables should have 
a large staff provided for each of them with the King's 
arms upon them." The authority of the King was as yet 
unquestioned. 

On the 1 2th of December the town approved of the 
Association of the Continental Congress and appointed a 
Committee of Inspection to carry out its provisions. This 
committee of fifty-two men at once met at the tavern of 
Amos Cowles, and while they are busy with the public 
good, and, very likely, with the good of the house, let us 
take a little rest from the contemplation of these warlike 
proceedings and look about us. The inn of Amos Cowles 
stood just south of the church, on or about the site of the 
house of the late Chauncey D. Cowles, Esq. It has long 



since disappeared, as have all but about a half-dozen of 
the houses of that day, and they, for the most part, have 
been reconstructed past recognition. The village street, 
certainly not since broadened with age, ran as now, and 
along it passed the pedestrian, the horseback rider, and 
the unwieldy cart of the farmer. Pleasure carriages were 
unknown. When the minister of that day brought home 
his bride in the finst chaise his parishoners had ever seen 
they lined the street to welcome him, and the first man 
who cauo'ht si^ht of the coming chaise shouted, " The 
cart is coming." Mail coaches were unknown. In 1778 
Joseph Root advertised in T/ie Connecticut Courant as 
follows : 

" This is to notify those that have friends in General Parsons' 
brigade that I have undertook to ride post for the town of Farm- 
ington, the letters to be left at my house and at Landlord Adams', 
Southington; at Landlord Smith's, New Britain; at Landlord 
Hayes", Salmon Brook; at Esq. Owen's, Simsbury; at Joseph Kel- 
logg's, New Hartford, and at Robert Mecune's, at Winchester. 
Those who have letters to send are desired to leave them at either 
of the above places by the iirst day of next month, at which time 
I shall set out. Joseph Root. 

" N. B. Letters may also be left at Lieut. Heth's, West Hart- 
ford, and at Landlord Butler's in Hartford. 

"Farmington, June 12, 1778." 

The travel between the two capitals of the colony 
then, as now, passed on the other side of the mountain 
throuQrh Wethersfield and Wallingford, but the exigencies 
of war required new lines of communication, and this 
quiet street was soon to be familiar with the measured 
tread of armies. Thomas Lewis, Avriting to Lieut. Amos 
Wadsworth at Roxbury Camp, says : 

"The same night " (that is, July 19, 1775,) "lodged in this 

town a captain with a company of riflemen, who appeared to be, 

many i)f them, very likely young gentlemen. The officers 

infiirmed me a great number of their soldiers were men possessed 

2 



10 

with fortunes worth three or four thousand apiece. These are 
from Philadelphia and on their march to join the army. The Cap- 
tain told me he expected one thousand more of the same troops 
would pass the town next week for the like purpose." 

After the evacuation of Boston the line of communi- 
cation from Newport and Hartford to the Highlands 
above New York passed through this village. 

Here in 1781 marched the army of Rochambeau. 
The diary of one of his aids, accompanied with a map of 
the route, records, under date of June 24th : 

"In the afternoon I went to see a charming spot called 
Wethersfield, four miles from East Hartford. It would he impos- 
sible to find prettier houses and a more beautiful view. I went up 
into the steeple of the church and saw the richest country I had 
yet seen in America. From this spot you can see for fifty miles 
around. 

"June 25. In the morning the army resumed its march to 
reach Farmington. The cotmtry is more open than that we had 
passed over since our departure, and the road fine enough. The 
village is considerable, and the position of the camp, which is a 
mile and a half from it, was one of the most fortunate we had as 
yet occupied." 

On the return of the army in 1782 Rochambeau made a 
halt in Farmington on the 29th of October, and the next 
day in Hartford. 

Of the journeys of Washington through this town he 
leaves us but brief mention. In May, 1781, he writes : 

" I begin at this epoch a concise journal of military transac- 
tions, etc. I lament not having attempted it from the commence- 
ment of the war." 

Til this journal he writes : 

" May 19th. Breakfasted at Litchfield, dined at Farmington, 
and lodged at Wethersfield." 

Also : 

"May 24lh. Set out on my return to New Windsor, dined at 
Farmington, and lodged at Litchfield." 



1 1 

This is all we gather from his own writing-, but we 
know that on the i8th of September, 1780, he bade adieu 
to General Arnold at Peekskill and was in Hartford on 
the 2 1 St. The commonly traveled road between the 
places lay through Farmington. After his conference 
with Rochambeau, he leaves Hartford on the 23d and 
arrives at Litchfield on the same day. Two days later he 
heard of the flight of Arnold. On the 2d of March, 1781, 
he left New Windsor, and arrived at Hartford on the 4th, 
and, returning on Sunday the 1 8th, was back at his head- 
quarters at New Windsor on the 20th. He seems, there- 
fore, to have passed through Farmington six times : on 
the 20th and 23d of September, 1780, the 4th and i8th of 
March, 1781, and the 19th and 24th of May, 1781. 

What house had the honor of entertaining his Excel- 
lency is uncertain. An idle tradition one hears over and 
over again tells us that once, being overtaken by a sud- 
den storm, Washington took refuge in the newly erected 
meeting-house, but if there is any one with any military 
experience before me, I will leave him to determine into 
which the General would most likely turn his steps, the 
hospitable inn of Amos Cowles, or the house of God with 
closed doors, standing there side bv side. The means of 
entertainment at that day were ample. As he rode down 
the mountain slope from the east and first came in sight 
of the meeting-house spire, the tavern of vSamuel North, 
Jr., greeted him on the left. A little farther on, wdiere the 
Elm Tree Inn now stands, Mr. Phineas Lewis would have 
been happv to entertain the General. He could also have 
been cordially welcomed by Mr. Seth Lee, where are now 
the brick school buildings of Miss Porter. If he suc- 
ceeded in passing all these attractions, the newly erected 
inn of Mr. Asahel Wadsworth, grandfather of the late 
Winthrop M. Wadsworth, Esq., hung out its sign, and 
just as he turned off from the main street into the wilder- 



12 

ness toward Litchfield there was still the well-known inn 
of Captain vSolomon Cowles to prepare him for the rono-h 
journey before him. This last tavern was famous in its 
day. The weary teamster on his journey witli supplies 
for the army hailed it with delight. One Joseph Joslin, 
Jr., a revolutionary teamster from Killingly, left a racy 
diary which oug-ht to please the modern advocates of pho- 
netic spelling. He says : 

"April 21, 1777. We set out attain and went through Harwin- 
ton into Farmington. and it was very bad carting indeed. I 
declare, and we stayed at a very good tavern, old Captain Coles', 
and we fare well, and did lie in a bed, T think." 

The hay mow by the side of his cattle was usually con- 
sidered good enough for a revolutionary teamster. Three 
days later he says : 

" I went to Farmington to old Captain Coles' again." 

Ikit alas I the hopes of man are deceitful. It was a Fast 
day, and all he could get was a little cold, raw pork. But 
it is time for us to return to our Committee of Inspec- 
tion, wh(jm we left at the house of Amos Cowles.. William 
Judd was made chairman and John Treadwell clerk, and 
their business was to carry out the requirements of the 
fourteen articles of the Association of the Continental 
Congress. This agreement, .signed by the representatives 
of the twelve colonies at Philadelphia on the 20th of Octo- 
ber, 1774, was not so much sustained by law as by the 
merciless power of public opinion. The transgressor was 
looked upon as Achan with his wedge of gold in the 
Lsraelitish camp before Jericho. A single instance will 
illustrate the spirit of the times and help you to under- 
stand what is to follow. Samuel Smith, merchant, of New 
Britain, had been convicted by Isaac Lee, Jr., justice of 
the peace, of selling metheglin at too high a price, 
namely, at eight shillings the gallon, and hens' eggs at 



13 

the enormous price of one shilling' the dozen. He 
brought his humble petition to the General Assembly, in 
which he says : 

"But when your memorialist reflects on the disaloility he is 
under, a sort of political death or disfranchisement which must 
render him incapable either to provide for or save himself from 
insult, or to serve the public in this time of calamity, which he 
ahvays has and still wishes to do, he cannot bi:t in the most hum- 
ble manner pray this honorable Assembly to take your memorial- 
ist's case into your wise consideration and grant that he may be 
restored to his former freedom." 

The petition was signed by Ju.stice Lee and twenty- 
six of the principal men of New Britain. The Assembly 
promptly granted his petition. Our committee held sev- 
eral meetings, and considered numerous complaints which 
the Sons of Liberty had to make concerning- the patriot- 
ism of their neighbors and of each other. It required 
cool heads and ripe wisdom to satisfy this red-hot zeal 
and do justice to all offenders. I will note only a few 
representative cases. Samuel Scott was accused of labor- 
ing on a Continental Fast day. This solemn day was to 
be kept with all the strictness of the Jewish Sabbath, and 
in its entirety. " Thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor 
thy son, nor th}- daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid- 
servant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy 
gates." It was not alleged that he had himself performed 
any labor on that sacred day, but there was some suspicion 
that one of his hired men might have done some work 
not strictly necessary. For this and similar cases the com- 
mittee drew up a form of confession, in which the accused 
aftirmed his fervid patrioti.sm and regretted any breach of 
the fourteen articles he might possibly have been guilty 
of. Another case made our worthy committee more 
trouble. Captain Solomon Cowles and Martha, his wife, 
were complained of for allowing vSeth Bird of Litchfield 



and Daniel Sheldon of Woodbury to drink India tea at 
their tavern. From the time of the destruction of the tea 
in Boston harbor nothing so roused the wrath of the pat- 
riots as any dalliance with this forbidden luxury. Their 
wives, who had patriotically abstained from their darling 
beverage and looked with regretful eyes on their unused 
china, could not endure such intemperance as this. The 
guilty parties printed their humble apology in TJic Con- 
nect iait Coiirant. Seth Bird was exceedingly wroth, and 
published in the next paper his version of the affair, this 
tempest in a teapot, as it seems to us. laying all the blame 
on the landlady, and accusing her and the committee of 
makinp- him infamous. It was the old storv of the forbid- 
den fruit and the ignoble reply, " The woman gave me 
and I did eat." He says : 

"About the middle of the month of March last past I called 
for breakfast at Captain Solomon Cowles'. The landlady said she 
would i>;et some, and asked what would suit, and added, says she, 
' I suppose you don't drink tea.' I answered that I had not prac- 
tised it, to be sure, since March came in, but as 1 feel this morn- 
ing it would not wrong my conscience to drink a dish or two, if 1 
could come at it, for I had a new cold by riding in the wet the 
night before and had slept very little, etc. The landlady replied 
that if I felt unwell she supposed she might get me some, and 
accordingly went and prepared it, and T drank thereof." 

The committee do not seem to have taken any notice 
of Mr. Bird's disrespectftil paper. Litchfield was a far 
country, and, like the immortal Dogberry, they no doubt 
thanked God they were well rid of one offender. More 
serious still were the complaints against the Tories. 
Some one petitioned that Nehemiah Royce, " a person 
politically excommunicated," be prevented from .sending 
his children to the public school. The committee wisely 
declined any such action, and, moreover, voted that the 
evidence against him " is not sufhcient to ju.stify the com- 



15 

mittee in advertising said Ro^-ce in the gazette." Every 
week there appeared on the first page of The Coiirant, in 
the blackest type Mr. Watson possessed, a list of enemies 
of their country, and confessions from parties accused 
appeared from every part of the State. Matthias Leam- 
ing, they voted, should be advertised in the public gazette 
" for a contumacious violation of the whole Association of 
the Continental Congress," and then voted to defer the 
execution of their sentence. By the middle of the fol- 
lowing September the committee had had enough of the 
business, and voted " to request a dismission from the 
office, it beino^ too burthensome to be executed bv them 
for a longer time." A new committee was appointed, 
who passed a few votes, and then we hear no more of 
them. There were more important matters to occupy the 
public mind. The persecution of Matthias Leaming, how- 
ever, was not yet ended. As late as 1783 his petition to 
the General Assembly sets forth that, being involved in 
debt, he had conveyed his real estate to a brother without 
his knowledge and without receiving one penny in con- 
sideration. Unfortunately for IMatthias, his brother joined 
the enemy in New York, and the land, being found 
recorded in his name, was confiscated. 

A very long and minute report by the legislative 
committee is on file, in which they decided adversely. 
Three years later another long memorial met the same 
fate, but in 1787 the Assembly gave him i,"8o in treasury 
notes, payable on the ist of the next February. Before 
that day the treasury was virtually bankrupt. In October, 
1 788, Governor Treadwell drew up another memorial, and 
persuaded Rev. Timothy Pitkin, Col. Noadiah Hooker, and 
twelve ethers of the most prominent men of the village 
to petition the Assembly to assist him in his old age and 
distress. No action was taken. The treasury was power- 
less to help. No doubt the Tories were treated roughly. 



i6 

vSome lost their lands by confiscation. Some were hung. 
It is very easy to sit by the quiet firesides which the valor 
of patriotic fathers secured us and coolly moralize on their 
severity. War is not a lovely thing, least of all, civil war. 
The siirht of neisfhbors with whom we were wont to hold 
pleasant converse arrayed against us, side by side with 
hired mercenaries and scalping savages, rouses passions 
slumbering deep down in human nature, which war 
always has and always will arouse, moralize as we will, so 
long as warm blood flows in human veins. A single letter 
written by Dr. Timothy Hosmer of this village to Ensign 
Amos Wadsworth July 30, 1775, illustrates the spirit of 
the times, and is, perhaps, quite enough to say about 
Whig and Tory hatred. He says : 

" The first act I shall j^ive you is concerning the grand Con- 
tinental Fast as conducted by that great friend to administration, 
the Rev. John Smalley. The Sunday before the Fast, after ser- 
vice, he read the proclamation, and then told his people that fast- 
ing and prayer were no doubt a Christian duty, and that they 
ought in times of trouble to set apart a stiitable time to celebrate 
a fast, but they were not obliged to keep the day by that procla- 
mation, as they (the Congress) had no power to command, but 
only to recommend, and desired they would speak their minds by 
a vote, whether they would keep the day. The vote was accord- 
ingly called for, and it appeared tt) be a scant vote, though they 
met on the Fast day and he preached to them. We look upon it 
as implicitly denying all authority of Congress. It hath awakened 
his best friends against him. Even Lieut. Porter. Mr. Bull, and 
|ohn Treadwell say they cannot see any excuse for him, and 1 
believe the committee will take up the matter and call him to 
answer for his conduct. There hath happened a terrible nnnpus 
at Waterbury with the Tories there. Capt. Nicholl's son. Josiah, 
enlisted under Capt. Porter in Gen. Wooster's regiment, went 
down to New York with the regiment, tarried a short time, and 
deserted . . . came home and kept a little under covert, but 
goes down to Saybrook and there enlisted with Capt. Shipman 
.... got his bounty and rushed olf again. Capt. Sliipman 
came up after him . . and went with some people they had got 



17 

to assist them to Lemuel Nicholl's, where they supposed he was. 
Lemuel forbade their coming in, and presented a sword and told 
them it was death to the first that offered to enter, biit one yoimg 
man seized the sword by the blade and wrenched it out of his 
hands. The}^ bound him and made a search through the house, 
bttt could find nothing of Josiah. The Tories all mustered to 
defend him, and finally got Lemuel from them and he and Josiah 
pushed off where they cannot be found. This ran through Thurs- 
day. The Whigs sent over to Southington for help, and the peo- 
ple almost all went from Southington on Friday. They took Capt. 
Nicholls, whom they found on his belly over in his lot, in a bunch 
of alders, carried him before Esq. Hopkins, and had him bound 

over to the County Court at New Haven They had 

near loo Tories collected upon the occasion, and were together till 
ten o'clock Friday night. They dispersed and there was nothing 
done to humble them, but I apprehend the next opportimity I 
have to write I shall be able to inform you that Smalley and they, 
too. will be handled. " 

If the Rev. Dr. Smalley of New Britain, eminent 
divine and esteemed pastor, had not at this time deter- 
mined which cause to espouse, there was no doubt in the 
mind of the pastor of the church in Farmington, the Rev. 
Timothy Pitkin. His pulpit rang with fervid discourses 
on liberty. He visited his parishioners in their camp, and 
wrote them letters of encouragement and sympathy. To 
Amos Wadsworth, in camp at Roxbury, he writes : 

" These wait on you as a token of my friendship. Truly I feel 
for my native, bleeding country, and am embarked with you in 
one common cause. . . . What you may be called to is 
unknown. I wish you may fill up your new department with wis- 
dom, courage, and decorum. My hope is yet in God, the Lord of 
Hosts and God of Armies. " 

To the first coiupany of soldiers marching from Simsbury 
he preached a farewell sermon from the words, " Play the 
man for your country, and for the cities of your God ; 
and the Lord do that which seemeth Him good." 

At the opening of the war there stood at the south- 

3 



i8 

west corner of Main street and the Meadow lane, as it was 
called, a shop where' Amos and Fenn Wadsworth adver- 
tised to sell drugs, groceries, etc., etc. Amos, the elder 
brother, was one of the first soldiers to march to Boston, 
and it is from his extensive correspondence, together with 
the orderly-book of Roger Hooker and the diary of Dea- 
con Samuel Richards, that most of our knowledge of 
Farmington men in the war is derived. The first Farm- 
ington company commenced its march on the 1 8th of May, 
1775, being the 6th company of General Joseph Spencer's 
regiment. The officers were Noadiah Hooker, Captain ; 
Peter Curtiss and Joseph Byington, Lieutenants ; Amos 
Wadsworth, Ensign, and Roger Hooker, Orderly-Ser- 
geant. They were eight days on their march, resting one 
rainy day at Thompson. They were stationed at Rox- 
bury and there remained during the siege. They were 
therefore at a distance from Bunker Hill and took no part 
in the battle of June 1 7th. Deacon Richards, however, 
gives a description of the battle as he saw it from elevated 
ground at Roxbury. With the exception of this one bat- 
tle, the whole army was kept in inglorious inactivity for 
want of powder, seldom returning the fire from the bat- 
teries in Boston. Deacon Richards .says : 

' ' The almost constant fire of the enemy produced one effect pro- 
bably not contemplated by them : it hardened otn* soldiers rapidly to 
stand and bear fire. When their balls had fallen and became still 
the men would strive to be the first to pick them up to carry to a 
sutler to exchange for spirits. At one time they came near pay- 
ing dear for their temerity. A bomb had fallen into a barn, and 
in the daytime it could not be distinguished from a cannon ball in 
its passage. A number were rushing in to seize it when it bin-st 
and shattered the barn very much, but without injuring any one. 

One night a ball passed through my apartment in 

the barracks, a few feet over me, as I lay in my berth. Such 
things, having become common, we thought little of them." 



19 

The troops before Boston were mostly farmers, each 
at home the absokite lord of his broad acres, impatient of 
military discipline, and a sore trial to the patience of 
Washington. Over and over again Orderly-Sergeant 
Roger Hooker records, " It is with astonishment the Gen- 
eral finds," etc., etc. On the 4th of August it is 

"With indignation and shame the General observes that, not- 
withstanding the repeated orders which have been given to pre- 
vent the firing of guns in and abotit the camp which is daily prac- 
tised, that, contrary to all orders, straggling soldiers do still pass 
the guards and fire at a distance where there is not the least 
probability of hurting the enemy, and where there is no end 
answered but to waste their ammunition and keep their own camp 
in a continual alarm, to the hurt and detriment of every good sol- 
dier who is thereby disturbed of his natural rest, and at length 
will never be able to distinguish between the real and false 
alarm." 

Occasionally the men were allowed to gratify their 
restlessness in certain madcap adventures. On the 12th 
of June Amos Wadsworth writes : 

' 'A week ago last Friday about one hundred of our men went 
to one of the islands to assist some of the Whigs in getting off 
their families and effects. They brought off about 500 sheep, 
some cattle and horses, and took a boat belonging to one of the 
transport ships with three inen as they were fishing near the shore. 
They secured the men and drew out the boat in plain sight of a 
man-of-war. The ship twice manned out her boats and set off, 
but put back without doing anything more. Our men got a team 
and cart, loaded the boat into the cart, hoisted her sails, set the 
two commanding officers in the stern of the boat, and the three 
prisoners rowing, and in this manner drove on as far as Cam- 
bridge, where they confined their prisoners in gaol 

Eight of our company were in the expedition. She is now launched 
in a large pond about 100 rods from us, very convenient for us to 
fish and sail in. " 

Amos Wadsworth, Roger Hooker, and others of their 
company were in the somewhat famous boat expedition of 
July nth. Amos writes: 



20 

" It was necessary for us to take the night for the business, as 
we had several ships of war to pass. We lay till after sundown, 
and then manned out 45 whale boats and set oif for Long Island in 
order to take whatever we could find on the island. About 11 
o'clock arrived at the island, and landed without opposition, and 
drove off 19 cattle, about 100 sheep, i horse, 4 hogs. The island 
lies between the lighthouse and Castle, and, we supposed, was 
guarded by a party of regulars. The island is about one and one- 
half miles long, and one large house on it, which contained con- 
siderable furniture, which we carried off the most of it. We took 
19 prisoners on the island, two of whom were women, one a young 
lady a native of Boston, who, they said, was to have been married 
to the captain of the King's store ship the next week. The most 
of the prisoners, we suppose, were marines and sailors sent on 

shore to cut hay for the use of the troops in Boston 

We towed the cattle near two miles at the stern of the boats to 
another island, where we landed them, and a part of the men 
drove them at low water to the main land. There were 7 ships 
lying so near the shore that we could hear people talk on board 
them, though not distinctly, and see the ships plain. I can give 
no reason why they did not fire on us. After we had returned as 
far as Dorchester with the boats the prisoners said there was 
something of value left in the house. We 'got to Dorchester 
Wednesday morning about 6 o'clock. Ten boats were manned out 
with fresh hands to go and make farther search and burn the barn 
and hay. They landed in the daytime, and were attacked by a 
number of the King's troops in a boat and an armed schooner, 
which fired grape-shot and obliged them to retreat with the loss 
of one man. However, they fired the house and barn before they 
left the island, but had not time to get much furniture on board, 
nor was there much for them, as we brought off all the beds, 
chairs, tables, a considerable quantity of wool, cupboard furni- 
ture, etc." 

Amos wrote many entertaining letters which I have 
no time to quote at length. He gave to his brother Fenn, 
who kept the shop in his absence, minute directions for 
preparing those tremendous medical compounds which 
were supposed to suit the hardy constitutions of our ances- 
tors. His orders about clothing would horrify the trim 



21 

militia man of our time. Every man in the army dressed 
as seemed good unto himself. There were no uniforms. 
Deacon Elijah Porter, Farmington's first librarian, is said, 
on the authority of another deacon, to have worn his 
wedding suit to the war. Orderly-Sergeant Roger Hooker 
records on the 14th of June : 

" That no man appear for any duty, except fatigue, with long 
trousers, or without stockings and shoes." 

After Washington took command the orderly-book 
announces that the officers 

"Be distinguished in the following manner. The Com- 
mander-in-Chief with a light blue ribbon worn across his breast 
between his coat and vest. The Major and Brigadier- Generals 
with a pink ribbon in the same manner, and the Aids-de-Camp by 
a green ribbon." 

Colonel Fisher Gay writes, February 26th : 

"Was Officer of the Day. . . . 27th, returned the sash 
. . at 9 o'clock and made report to Gen. Ward." 

This sash or ribbon seems to have been the means of 
distinguishing officers from privates. On the 4th of Sep- 
tember Lieut. Wadsworth was on the point of joining 
Arnold's expedition against Quebec, but was dissuaded by 
his friends. Almost the next we hear of him is the 
account of his funeral, celebrated with much military dis- 
play on the 30th of October, the day after his death. The 
procession was headed by an advance guard of twenty 
men with reversed arms, followed by the Sergeants as 
bearers. The coffin was covered with black velvet and 
bore two crossed swords. Then followed the mourners, 
his mother and brother, the regiment under arms, and 
the officers of the other regiments. The musicians 
played the tune, " Funeral Thoughts," and at the end of 
every line the drums beat one stroke. The march was a 



22 



mile and a half long, and during the last half-mile the 
Brookline bell tolled constantly. His monument stands 
to-day in the old cemetery of Brookline. His brother 
Fenn soon entered the army, and was for several years 
one of the Committee of the Pay Table in Hartford. He 
died just after the close of the war, and a monument in 
Saratoga marks his resting-place. 

From this point our sources of information about 
Farmington men in the war are sadly lessened. The 
orderly-book of Roger Hooker closes with his promotion 
to be Second Lieutenant under Ebenezer Sumner, Cap- 
tain of the 5th Company in the 22d Regiment, which 
office he was holding as early as December i ith. On the 
2d of February, i -]-](), begins the short diary of Colonel 
Fisher Gay. He says : 

"Setoff for headqtmrters to join the army under command 
of General Washington before Boston, and arrived at Roxbury 
the 6th of said month. Stationed at Roxbury with the regiment 
I belonged to, and quartered at Mr. Wyman's with Col. Wolcott 
and ]\Ir. Perry. Was sent for by General Washington to wait on 
his Excellency the 13th of said month, and was ordered by the 
General to go to Connecticut to purchase all the gunpowder I 
could. Went to Providence, and from thence to Gov. Trumbull, 
where I obtained 2 tons of the Governor, and then to New Lon- 
don to Mr. Tjhomas] Mumft)rd, and obtained of him an order on 
Messrs. Clark & Nightingill, merchants in Providence, and re- 
tiirned to camp the 19th, and made report to the General to his 
great satisfaction." 

On Sunday, March 1 7th, he writes : 

"Col. Wolcott on the hill. An alarm in the morning. I 
ordered the regiment to meet before the Colonel's door after 
prayers. I marched them off with Major Chester. Near the 
alarm post found, instead of going to action, the enemy had aban- 
doned Boston. 500 troops immediately ordered to march into 
and take possession of the fortifications in Boston. Col. Larned, 
myself, Majors Sproatand Chester, with a number of other officers 



23 

and troops, marched in and took possession, and tarried there till 
the 19th at night, then returned to camp at Roxbiiry. Never peo- 
ple more glad at the departure of an enemy and to see friends." 

Deacon Samuel Richards also tells of the entry into 
Boston in his " Personal Narrative." He says: 

" I had the gratification of being selected to carry the Ameri- 
can flag at the head of the column which entered from the Rox- 
bury side. When arrived in the town numerous incidents crowded 
upon our view. I can particularize but few of them. The burst 
of joy shown in the countenances of our friends so long shut up 
and domineered over by an insulting enemy; the meeting and 
mutual salutations of parents and children, and other members of 
families, having been separated by the sudden shutting up of the 
town after the battle of Lexington; the general dilapidation of 
the houses, several churches emptied of all the inside work and 
turned into riding-schools for the cavalry; all the places which 
had been previously used for public resort torn to pieces. As I 
was the bearer of the flag, I attracted some attention and was 
constantly pressed with invitations to ' call in and take a glass of 
wine with me.' " 

On the day before the evacuation of Boston Governor 
Trumbull closes a letter with the exclamation : 

"Hitherto the Lord hath helped us. Although they came 
against us with a great multitude and are using great artifice, yet 
let our eyes be on the Lord of Hosts and our trust in Him." 

And then adds : 

" P. S. This moment received a letter from headquarters 
requesting me to throw two thousand men into New York from 
the frontiers of Connecticut to maintain the place until the Gen- 
eral can arrive with the army under his command." 

In response thereto the Farmington soldiers marched 
by way of Providence to New London, where they took 
ship, and, after running upon a rock in Hell Gate, finally 
reached New York in safety. Here, on the 226. of August, 
shortly before the Americans were driven from the city. 



24 

died Colonel Fisher Gay. A not very well authenticated 
tradition affirms that he was buried in Trinity Church- 
yard. 

With New York in possession of the enemy, the 
towns on the coast were exposed to raid by the British 
and Tories. This, with the scarcity of provisions in New 
Haven, caused the corporation of Yale College to send 
the freshman class to Farmington, the sophomore and 
junior classes to Glastonbury, and the seniors to Wethers- 
field, to meet at these respective places on the 27th of 
May, 1777. Again they advertise that the sophomore 
class is ordered to meet at Farmington October 22, 1777 : 

" Where provision is made for their residence. We could wish 
to have found suitable accommodations for the senior class, and 
have taken great pains to effect it, but hitherto without success." 

Here came their tutor, the Rev. John Lewis, and here in 
the old cemetery you will find a stone recording the birth 
and death in this village of his son, John Livy. 

After the surrender of Burgoyne, General Gates 
ordered the captured artillery sent to Connecticut for 
safety, and a memorial to the General Assembly states 
that Colonel Ichabod Norton, grandfather of the late 
John T. Norton, Esq., was ordered 

" To take the command of a company and proceed to Albany 
for the purpose of guarding the cannon taken from (icn. Bur- 
goyne the last campaign, ordered to be removed to said Farm- 
ington." 

After the expedition was well under way the snow disap- 
peared, and the men were a fortnight dragging the heavy 
pieces through the mud. They were finally stored in the 
orchard of John Mix, where they remained a considerable 
time. 

During the remainder of the war the Farmington 
soldiers were located almost exclusively in the Highlands 



25 

above New York. Of the first occupancy of West Point, 
Deacon Richards says : 

" I being at the time senior officer of the regiment present, of 
course led on the regiment, crossing the river on the ice. . 
Coming on to the small plain surrounded by the mountains, we 
found it covered with a growth of yellow pines ten or fifteen feet 
high; no house or improvement on it; the snow waist high. We 
fell to lopping down the lops of the shrub pines and treading 
down the snow, spread our blankets, and lodged in that conditi(jn 
the first and second nights." 

Concerning this same affair Deacon Elijah Porter says in 
his journal: 

"When Gen. Putnam was ready to go over on the ice he 
called me to come to him. He then loaded me with tools for 
building huts, and took a heavy load himself, and bade me follow 
him. When we got about half a mile on the ice, he went on some 
shelly ice, began to slip about, and down he went with his load of 
tools and made the ice crack so that I thought he would go down, 
but the ice held him up, and I sprang round and picked up his 
tools and loaded him up again. We went on and arrived safe on 
the point." 

Deacon Porter soon returned home and his journal 
closes, but Deacon Richards remained at West Point and 
was an eye-witness of the execution of Andre. To 
Timothy Hosmer, formerly the village doctor of Farm- 
ington, and now army surgeon, was assigned the duty of 
laying his finger on Andre's pulse and reporting him 
dead. 

Deacon Richards was at West Point during the build- 
ing of the fortifications the subsequent spring under the 
direction of Kosciusko. He says : 

" I was quartered a considerable time with him in the same 
log hut, and soon discovered in him an elevation of mind which 
gave fair promise of those high achievements to which he attained. 
His manners were soft and conciliating and at the same time ele- 



26 

vated. I used to take much pleasure in accompanying him about 
with his theodolite, measuring the heights of the surrounding 
mountains. He was very ready in mathematics. Our family now 
consisted of Brigadier-General Parsons, Doctor, afterwards Presi- 

ent Dwight, Kosciusko, and myself, with the domestics 

When the weather had become mild and pleasant in April, I went 
one day with Dr. Dwight down to view the ruins of Fort Mont- 
gomery, distant about eight or ten miles. There was a pond jnst 
north of the fort, where we found the British had thrown in the 
bodies of their own and our men who fell in the assault of the 
fort. " 

He closes a very gruesome account of the spectacle with 
the exclamation : 

' ' Had the fort held out a little longer, I very probably might 
have lain among them." 

I shall close this rambling paper with a notice of a 
proposed invasion of this quiet village, a bill for which 
actually passed the Lower House of the General Assembly 
near the close of the war in 1781 : 

' ' Resolved by this Assembly that considering the peculiar 
difficulty that many of the members of this Assembly meet with 
in procuring subsistence for themselves and forage for their 
horses, it is expedient this Assembly be adjourned to the town of 
Farmington to transact and complete the business of the present 
session, as soon as proper accommodations can be made arid that 
the selectmen of said town be desired to make the necessary pre- 
paration for the reception of the Assembly as soon as possible. 
" Passed in the Lower House, 

"Test, John Treadwki.l, Clerk, P. T." 

The reply to this request by the Selectmen of Farm- 
ington was as follows : 

" To the Honorable Lower House of Assembly now sitting in 
Hartford. Being desired by your Honors to make inquiry whether 
the General Assembly may be accommodated in their present ses- 
sions in this town, we have to observe that from the knowledge 
we have of the circumstances of the inhabitants, we are of the 



27 

opinion that should the Honorable Assembly signify their deter- 
mination to adjourn to this place, the members might be conveni- 
ently, though perhaps not elegantly subsisted, and their horses 
well provided. The greatest difficulty will be to provide a house 
in which it would be convenient to transact business. The Meet- 
ing House, though elegant and well finished, would be inconveni- 
ent for want of a fire at this inclement season. The dwelling 
house of Mr. Asahel Wadsworth, situate in the center of the town, 
may be obtained for the purpose, and is as convenient as any in 
the town. It is 42 feet in length and about 22 in breadth. The 
rooms on the lower floor finished, and one of them may well 
accommodate the Honorable Upper House. There are two stacks 
of chimnies, one at each end. The chambers are unfurnished, the 
floor laid but not divided into several apartments. One fire place 
is finished, and the room, if proper seats were made, which might 
soon be done, would be large enough for the Lower House. The 
house is covered with jointed boards and clapboards upon them, 
but neither ceiled nor plastered. This is an exact description of 
Mr. Wadsworth's house, and if the Honorable Assembly shall 
judge it will answer the purpose, upon suitable notice might be 
accommodated and other preparation made in a short time. 

"We are, with sentiments of the highest esteem and regard, 
" Your Honors' most obedient and most humble servants. 

"Farmington, February 26, 1781. 

James Judd, ^ Selectmen 
Isaac Bidwell, \ of Farmington. 

A letter from Elijah Hubbard offering the Assembly 
accommodations at Middletown equally magnificent was 
also sent. 

Time fails to speak of the after-life of these worthy 
men, of William Judd, famous in the political history of 
the State ; of John Treadwell, last of the Puritan Gover- 
nors of Connecticut ; of Samuel Richards, first post- 
master of Farmington ; of Roger Hooker, sitting of a 
summer evening under his noble elm tree and delighting 
the assembled youth of the village with tales of a seafar- 
ing youth, of shipwreck, and of his long service in the 



28 



Continental army ; of Timothy Hosmer, village doctor, 
army surgeon, judge of Ontario county. New York, and 
pioneer settler of that western wilderness ; of Noadiah 
Hooker, honored with many public trusts, and finally, as 
a white-haired old man, standing on the hillside above 
Whitehall and dropping a not unmanly tear over the 
graves of a hundred of his soldiers buried by him during 
the terrible days of the pestilence at Skenesborough ; of 
John Mix, for twenty-six years the representative of this 
town to the General Assembly of the State, and of Tim- 
othy Pitkin, welcoming his children home from their vic- 
torious struggle, their beloved pastor and faithful friend. 
There were other, many other, worthy men of whom we 
would know more, who deserved well of their country. 
If this paper shall prompt any one to preserve the scanty 
memorials of them which still exist, my labor this even- 
ing will not have been in vain. 



OLD HOUSES IN FARMINGTON 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual flDeeting 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 



By JULIUS GAY 



Hartford, Conn. 
Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

1895 



OLD HOUSES IN FARMINGTON 



AN 



HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DEI.IVERKD AT THE 



Hnnual nDcetino 



OF 



The Village LibraryCompany 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 



By JULIUS GAY 



Hartford, Conn. 
Press of The Case, Lockvvood & Brainard Company 

1S95 



ADDRESS. 



Ladies and Gentlemen of the Village Libj'ai-y Company of 
Farniinizton : 



'i> ' 



I have been requested to speak this evening of the old 
houses of Farmington and of some of the people who 
lived in them. If my paper be not ver}- profound with 
great events and much learning, it may perhaps none the 
less, for a passing hour, revive the fast-fading picture of 
our ancestors, their virtues and their foibles. 

In the w^inter of 1639, when the town of Hartford had 
been founded three and one-half years, and Windsor and 
Wethersfield about the same time, all three towns began 
to think their broad acres too limited, and applied to the 
General Court " for some enlargement of accommodation." 
A committee was appointed to view the valley of the 
Tunxis and report on the 20th of February, but Windsor 
was busy building a bridge and a meeting house, and 
their neighbors of Wethersfield objected to the wintry 
weather ; so the Court added to the committee Capt. John 
Mason, who had recently rid the colony of 600 or 700 
Pequots, and who brought the Court on the 15th of June 
following to order the Particular Court " to conclude the 
conditions for the planting of Tunxis." 

Five years thereafter, in 1645, the village of Tunxis 
Sepus, literally the village at the bend of the little river, 
became by legislative enactment the town of Farmington. 

The settlers found the natural features of the place 
much as we see them to-day. To the east of the main 
street their lots extended to the mountain, and on the 



west to the river, beyond which fertile meadows spread 
away to the western hills, undisligured for more than one 
hundred years by divisional fences, a broad panorama of 
waving grain and green corn fields. 

The land was indeed owned in severalty, but annually 
the proprietors voted on what day in October they would 
use it for pasturage, and on what day in April all must 
remove their flocks and herds. Access to this common 
field was through the North Aleadow Gate just west of 
the Catholic church, or through the South Meadow Gate 
near the Pequabuc stone bridge. Along the main street 
houses began to rise, log huts at first, each provided by 
law with a ladder reaching to the ridge to be examined 
every six months by the chimney-viewers. In 17 ii the 
town granted fourscore acres of land to encourage the 
erection of a saw-mill, but long before this time frame 
houses had been built, the sides covered with short clap- 
boards split from logs. The oldest house of which we 
know the date of erection was built in 1700 by John 
Clark and stood until 1 880 on the east side of High street, 
a little south of Mrs. Barney's. It had a leanto roof, the 
upper story much projecting, and ornamented with con- 
spicuous pendants. Another, the last of this style, but 
with modern covering, still stands about seventy-five rods 
further south. Within, a huge chimney with its enor- 
mous fire-place and ovens, filled a large part of the lower 
story, barring all convenient access to the interior of the 
house by the front door. But this sacred portal was sel- 
dom used except for weddings, funerals, and days of 
solemn thanksgiving. Later on appears the gambrel 
roof, which was the approved style until the time of the 
Revolution, and which is even now being revived under 
the name of the Old Colonial style. The huge chimney 
was at length divided into two, and moved out of the way 
of the front door, which now, with its polished brass 



5 

knocker, welcomed the approaching guest. An old house 
was seldom pulled down, but, moved to the rear, it made 
a kitchen for the newer structure, so that in time the 
house had as many styles of architecture and dates of 
erection as an English cathedral. 

As we first come in sight of the village, looking down 
upon it from the Hartford road, we see on the left one of 
our oldest houses long owned by Seth North, and built 
by his father Timothy or his grandfather Thomas. Mr. 
North did not take kindly to Puritan ways and never 
went to church, and so was universally known as " Sinner 
North." By the children he was pleased to be addressed 
in the most deferential manner as " Mr. Sinner." A most 
excellent authority, writing me about the old-time char- 
acter of the village, mentioned "its universally genteel 
ways, where everybody went to church except Sinner 
North." He was otherwise so much in accordance with 
modern ideas, that as he drew near his end, he ordered 
his body to be cremated, the place a lonely spot on the 
mountain between two rocks, and his friend, Adam vStew- 
art, chief cremator, who was to inherit the house for his 
kindly services. The civil authority, however, interposed 
and insisted on giving him what they deemed a Christian 
burial, but Adam Stewart got the house and it remained 
in the family many years. Nearly opposite stood in Rev- 
olutionary days the tavern of Samuel North, Jr. He, too, 
found his ways at variance with public opinion, bought, 
as he states it, his rum, sugar, tea, etc., in violation of the 
excise laws, in foreign parts, sold them for Continental 
money which proved worthless, and then was arrested on 
complaint of Thomas Lewis and Deacon Bull and fined 
i^ioo, the General Court declining to interfere. A little 
east of Mr. North's tavern stood the home of the Bird 
family from whom the hill derived its name. They have 
all long ago taken their flight to other towns, but our old- 



est men can easily remember the old house and the tragic 
end of Noadiah Bird, one of the last of the family who 
dwelt there. He was killed by an escaped lunatic on the 
night of Sunday, May 15, 1825, and the attempt to capture 
the lunatic resulted in the death of still another citizen. 
Descending the hill toward the west, we find on the cor- 
ner where the road, formerly called the road to Simsbury, 
runs northward, an old house once the home of Josiah 
North, and soon after his death in 1784, passing into the 
hands of Capt. Isaac P)Uck, who there lived and died at an 
advanced age. But we must not linger on the site of the 
numerous houses that once looked over the valley from 
this hill, only at the foot we must stay a moment, though 
the little red house of Gov. Treadwell, just north of Poke 
brook and west of the big rock can onl}- be remembered 
by the oldest of our people. Dr. Porter and Professor 
Denison Olmsted have both written worthy memorials 
of this eminent patriot, scholar, and Christian, but any 
exhaustive account of his public services must be a his- 
tory of the common school system of Connecticut, of the 
rise of foreign missions, and of much of the political his- 
tory of the State in the days of the Revolution. 

Crossing the brook and walking on the line of the old 
road which once ran where the south gate of the prem- 
ises of Mr. Barney stands, we come upon the house of 
Mr. P^lijah L. Lewis, built for his grandfather Elijah in 
1790, the family living while it was building in an old 
house just west. Going southerly about thirty rods, we 
find on the corner next south of the North schoolhouse 
an old gambrel-roofed building with the end towards the 
street, and, in some far-oif time, painted red. In 1752 
it was the property of Daniel Curtis, who, twenty years 
thereafter, sold it to his son Gabriel, who, after another 
twenty 3^ears, found it necessary to pay Capt. Judah 
Woodruff for new windows and for twenty days' labor in 



making the old structure habitable. Gabriel was a tanner 
and shoemaker, and in 1812 sold out to Frederick Andrus 
of the same trade, removing to Burlington, Vermont. 
The old house now became the noisy abode of journey- 
men shoemakers pounding leather under the direction of 
Mr. Andrus, thereafter known as Boss Andrus. He died 
in 1845, and the old house followed the usual dreary 
fortunes of a tenement house until, in 1882, we find it 
transformed by the subtle magic of a genial philanthropy, 
into the home of the Tunxis Library. Entertaining 
books fill every nook and corner, and antique furniture 
ranged around the vast old-time fireplace welcome readers 
young and old to a free and healthful entertainment. 

The old house next west, in 1752 the residence of 
Daniel Curtis, became thereafter the home of his son 
Solomon until he died in the army in 1776. In 1822, his 
heirs sold it to Frederick Andrus. The brick blacksmith 
shop and the white house adjoining were built soon after 
1823 by Charles Frost. The land on which the house 
next west stands was successively owned by the families 
of Norton, Rew, Judd, North, Smith, Whitmore, and 
DeWolf. I do not know who built the house. The Elm 
Tree Inn, where Phinehas Lewis once kept a famous tav- 
ern in revolutionary days, was built at various times. 

Just across the line on what was once the garden of 
Col. Gay and of three generations of his descendants, 
stood the little red shop now removed to the east side of 
the Waterville road just north of Poke brook. In 1795, 
Gabriel Curtis pays Capt. Judah Woodruff thirteen shil- 
lings for making for it a show window of thirty-two 
sashes (you can count them to-day if you like) for his son 
Lewis Curtis. Lewis advertises in the Connccticitt Courant 
under date of 1799, "that he still continues to carry on 
the clock-making business, such as chime clocks that play 
a number of different tunes and clocks that exhibit the 



8 

moon's age," etc., etc. A few steps down the hill west- 
ward bring us to the house built by Col. Fisher Gay in 
1766 and 1767, as appears by his ledger account with 
Capt. Woodruff. Col. Gay died early in the war, and 
some account of his public services can be found in H. P. 
Johnston's " Yale in the Revolution." 

Crossing the Waterville road, we come to the house 
opposite the Catholic Church, some parts of which are 
very old, the upper story of the front, however, having 
been built by the late Capt. Pomeroy Strong, soon after 
he bought the place in 1802. There was, as early as 
1645, one more house to the west, and then came the 
North Meadow gate. 

Returning now to the main street, the highway com- 
mittee in 1785 sold to Deacon Samuel Richards a strip 
out of the center of the highway, 26 feet wide, where, in 
the year following, he built the little shop in which traffic 
has been carried on successively by himself, Horace and 
Timothy Cowles, James K Camp, William (jay, and by 
his son, the present owner. Crossing the trolley track, 
we come upon the lot on which Daniel Curtis and his 
youngest son, Eleazer, had in 1783, as the deed reads, 
" mutually agreed to build a new house, .... and 
have large provision for the same." As they held it 
until 1794, it is probable that the present edifice was built 
by them. The next house south, where Air. Abner Bid- 
well lived many years, was built by Deacon Samuel 
Richards in 1 792 as he records in his diary. 

I have spoken at some length in my last paper of this 
very worthy man and of his honorable service all through 
the revolutionary war. He was a Puritan of the Puritans, 
of the strictest integrity, kindly of heart, precise in man- 
ner, and with a countenance grave, not to say solemn, as 
became a deacon of the olden time. It is related that a 
small boy once sent to his store, was so overpowered by 



the gravity of his demeanor, that instead of asking for a 
pair of H and L hinges, he demanded of the horrified 
deacon a pair of archangels. He was the first postmaster 
of Farmington. On the 226. of July, 1799, he advertises in 
the Connecticut Conrant : 

"Information. A post-office is established at Farmington for 
pt:blic accommodation. Samuel Richards, D. P. Master." 

The post-office was in the front hall of his house, and the 
half dozen letters that sometimes accumulated were 
fastened against the wall by tapes crossing each other in 
a diamond pattern. Five years later he records in his 
diary, " Kept the post-office, the proceeds of which were 
forty dollars, the one-half of which I gave to Horace 
Cowles for assisting me." The year after he obtained 
this lucrative office, instead of recording as heretofore the 
" continuation of divStress in my temporal concerns," he 
deplores " my unthankfulness to God for his great good- 
ness to me. He is now trying me by prosperity." 

Immediately to the south stands a house which, before 
it was modernized by the late Mr. Leonard Winship, I 
remember as an old red, dilapidated structure, built by I 
know not whom. During the Revolution it was owned 
by Nehemiah Street, who, as I told you at the opening of 
this library, was fined along with many of the young 
people of the village, because, being assembled at his 
house, they refused to disperse until after nine o'clock at 
night. Mr. Street was frequently in similar trouble until 
disgusted with Puritan ways, he converted his goods 
into money and sought the freedom of the far West. 
Poor Nehemiah ! He soon found something worse than 
New England justice. Having invested his money in a 
drove of cattle, he sold them at Niagara Falls for six hun- 
dred pounds and fell in with a certain James Gale of 
Goshen, N. Y., who during the war commanded a plunder- 



10 

ing party on Long Island. This treacherous companion 
followed him from Niagara, and watching his opportunity 
while Mr. Street was bending over a spring of water by 
the roadside, struck him from behind with a tomahawk, 
and all the troubles of Nehemiah were ended. 

The land to the south once belonged to Rev. Samuel 
Hooker and remained in the family for four generations. 
Here stands the house where Major Hooker lived and 
died, and where, under a great elm tree in front, most 
genial of story-tellers, he was wont to sit of a summer 
evening and entertain his youthful friends. On this 
locality lived his father, Roger, and his grandfather, John. 
The latter was an assistant, a judge of the Superior Court 
and a man of note in the colony. Deacon Edward Hooker 
states that John Hooker and the Rev. Samuel Whitman 
were the only men in town that were saluted with the 
title of Mr. Others were known as Goodman or Gaffer. 
Mr. Whitman, the minister, he says, would always wait 
on the meeting-house steps for Mr. Hooker to come up 
and enter the house with him on Sabbath morning and 
share with him the respectful salutation of the people. 

Passing over the site where once stood the store of 
vSamuel Smith, we come to the brick building erected in 
1 79 1 by Reuben S. Norton for a store, and which has 
since been used for divers purposes — store, tailor's shop, 
tenement house, post-office, church, groggery, and now, 
much enlarged, for a savings bank. Where my house 
stands, there stood, until I removed it in 1872, the very 
old house of Solomon Whitman. At the northeast corner 
was a square addition in which Miss Nancy Whitman 
presided over the post-office. I remember calling on the 
way from school and seeing through the small delivery 
window a huge dining-table covered with methodically- 
arranged letters and papers, and Miss Nancy, with gold- 
rimmed spectacles, bending over them. By this little 



II 

window, on a high shelf, to be out of reach of mischievous 
boys, stood a big dinner bell to call the postmistress, when 
necessary, from regions remote. Sometimes an advent- 
urous youth, by climbing on the back of a comrade, suc- 
ceeded in getting hold of the bell, but I never knew the 
same boy to repeat the offense. The next buildings are 
modern, so let us hurry on past the drug store built some- 
where between 1813 and 181 8 by Elijah and Gad Cowles, 
and past the brick schoolhouse of Miss Porter, built by 
Major Cowles as a hotel to accommodate the vast con- 
course of travelers about to come to the village by the 
Farmington canal. Next comes a house built by Capt. 
Judah Woodruff for Thomas Hart Hooker in 1 768, and 
very soon passing with the mill property into the posses- 
sion of the Demings. It was said during the days of 
fugitive slave laws to have been an important station on 
the underground railroad. It is best known to most of us 
as the residence of the late Samuel Deming, Esq., for 
many years a trial justice of the town, who fearlessly 
executed the law, whether his barns were burned, or 
whatever happened. We did not suffer from that curse 
of society, a lax administration of justice. The house 
next north of the post-office, now owned by Mr. Chauncey 
Deming, is said by the historian of the " Hart Family " to 
have belonged to Deacon John Hart, son of Capt. John, 
and if so, must be about 1 50 years old. The land was 
in the Hart family for five generations. Near the site 
of the post-office stood the house of Sergeant John Hart, 
son of Deacon Stephen, the immigrant, in which he 
with his family were burned on the night of Saturday, 
December 15, 1666, eight persons in all, only one son, 
afterward known as Capt. John, escaped, he being ab- 
sent at their farm in Nod, now Avon. From this point 
southward to the road down to the new cemetery, all 
the houses were destroyed by the great fire of July 21, 



12 



1864, including the long yellow house, just north of the 
present parsonage, which was the home of Rev. Timothy 
Pitkin during his sixty years' residence in our village. 
In my last paper I spoke of him as a patriot in the War of 
Independence. Of his high character and fervid elo- 
quence as pastor and preacher, we have the testimony of 
Dr. Porter in his " Half-Century Discourse." Professor 
Olmsted says of him : " Do you not see him coming in at 
yonder door, habited in his flowing blue cloak, with his 
snow-white wig and tri-cornered hat of the olden time ? 
Do you not see him wending his way through the aisle to 
the pulpit, bowing on either side with the dignity and 
grace of the old nobility of Connecticut?" Immediately 
south of the road to the new cemetery stands the brick 
house built by Dr. Porter in 1808, the year of his mar- 
riage. We need not linger in our hasty progress to speak 
of the manifold virtues of one too well known to us all, 
and personally to many of us to need any eulogies here. 
The next house, now the residence of Mr. Rowe, was 
built by the Rev. Joseph Washburn on a lot purchased 
by him for that purpose in 1796. This healer of dissen- 
sions and much-loved pastor, after a settlement of eleven 
years, while seeking a mild southern climate in his failing 
health, died on the voyage on Christmas day, 1805, and 
was buried at sea. A few years later his house became 
the home of this library under the care of Deacon Elijah 
Porter. The large brick house on the top of the hill, 
with its imposing Roman fayade looking southward, was 
built by Oen. George Cowles. The house on the corner, 
long the residence of Zenas Cowles, and now owned by 
Lieut.-Commander Cowles of the U. S. Navy, of a style 
of architecture much superior to all houses of the vil- 
lage of that time and perhaps of any time, is said to 
have been designed by an officer of Burgoyne's army sent 
here as a prisoner of war. The house next north of it 



13 

was bought by the late Richard Cowles in 1810, and must 
have been built by its former owner and occupant, Coral 
Case, or by his father, John Case. 

But it is high time that we crossed the street and com- 
menced our return. Nearly opposite the last-mentioned 
house stood the dwelling of the Rev. Samuel Hooker, 
second minister of Farmington, of whom I have formerly 
spoken. On this site, and probably in the same house, 
lived Roger Newton, his brother-in-law and the first 
pastor of this church. On the 13th of October, 1652, he 
stood up with six other Christian men, and they known 
in New England phraseology as the " Seven Pillars of 
the Church," seeking no authority from any intermediary 
church, consociation, bishop, priest, or earthly hierarch, 
but deriving their powers from the Word of God alone, 
as they understood it, declared themselves to be the First 
Church of Christ in Farmington. Probably during the 
pastorate of Mr. Newton there was no meeting-house. 
The Fast Day service of December, 1666, we know was 
held at the house of Sergeant John Hart, two days before 
the fire, and there is a carefully transmitted tradition, 
that the services of the Sabbath were held on the west 
side of the main street a little south of the Meadow Lane, 
and, therefore, probably at the house owned by Mrs. 
Sarah Wilson, sister of Rev. Samuel Hooker, where now 
stands the house of T. H. and L. C. Root. We hear of 
no meeting-house until 1672, when the record called the 
New Book begins, the " ould book " having been worn 
out and lost, and with it all account of the erection of the 
first house. In September, 1657, Mr. Newton was dis- 
missed from this church and went to Boston to take ship 
for England. What befel him by the way is narrated by 
John Hull, mint-master of Boston, he who coined the 
famous pine-tree shillings. After waiting on shipboard 
at Nantasket Roads six or eight days for a favorable 



14 

wind, the commissioners of the colonies and the Rev. 
John Norton sent for him, desiring- a conference before 
his departure. The captain of the vessel and his associ- 
ates, of a race always superstitious, thinking this divine 
another Jonah and the cause of their detention, hurried 
him on shore, and, the wind immediately turning fair, 
sailed on their way without him. He remained in Boston 
several weeks, preaching for Rev. John Norton on the 
17th of October, After this date, we lose sight of him 
until his settlement in Milford on the 22d of August, 1660. 
Crossing the road formerly known as " the highway 
leading to the old mill place," and a century later as 
" Hatter's Lane," we come to the house next south of the 
old cemetery, owned and probably built by John Mix. 
He was commonly known as Squire Mix, a graduate of 
Yale, an officer of the Revolution, ten years Judge of 
Probate, thirty-two years town clerk, and twenty-six years 
a representative to the General Assembly. He was, as I 
am told by those who knew him well, tall in stature, 
dressed as a gentleman of the time, with silver knee- 
buckles, formal in manner, of quick temper, punctilious, 
very hospitable, a good neighbor, a member of no church, 
and bound by no creed, and in politics a federalist. In 
his latter days, when old age and total blindness shut him 
out from the busy world, when the political party of his 
active days had passed away, and new men who hated the 
names of Washino^ton and Hamilton filled all the old 
familiar places in the town, the State, and the nation, he 
is said to have sometimes longed for a judicious use of 
the thunderbolts of the Almighty. Here, too, for much 
of his life lived his son Ebenezer Mix, universally known 
as Captain Eb., who made voyages to China and brought 
back to the merchant princes of the town, tea, spices, 
silks, china tea-sets, marked with the names of wealthy 
purchasers, and all the luxuries of the Orient. 



15 

Passing the house adjoining the burying-ground on 
the north, the home of this library and of Deacon Elijah 
Porter until his marriage in 1812, we come to the house 
built by Mr. Asahel Wadsworth, and which was reported 
unfinished in 1781 when the General Assembly, dissatis- 
fied with its treatment by the inn-keepers of Hartford, 
proposed to finish their winter session elsewhere, and re- 
quested the selectmen of Farmington to report what 
accommodation could be obtained here. The next house, 
from which the stage coach goes its daily rounds, was 
once the residence of Mr. Asa Andrews, and after 1826, of 
his son-in-law, the late Deacon Simeon Hart. In the 
brick shop next north, Mr. Andrews made japanned tin 
ware. He was the maker of those chandeliers, com- 
pounds of wood and tin, that long hung from the meeting- 
house ceiling. Crossing the street formerly known as the 
Little Back Lane, we come to the house built by Asa 
Andrews on land bought in 1 804, and where Deacon Sim- 
eon Hart for many years kept his well-known school. 
About twenty rods south, on the east side of that street, 
we come to the gambrel-roofed house built by Hon. 
Timothy Pitkin, LL.D., on a lot bought by him in 1788. 
He was a son of the Rev. Timothy Pitkin, a graduate of 
Yale, a lawyer by profession, five times speaker of the 
Legislature, a member of Congress from 1806 to 1820, 
and the author of a " Political and Civil History of the 
United States," of great value as a book of reference. 
Next south is the gambrel-roofed house formerly the 
home of Capt. Selah Porter, and immediately beyond this 
once stood the house of Deacon Martin Bull and of his 
father before him. 

Returninof to the late residence of Deacon Simeon 
Hart, and crossing the now vacant lot where once flour- 
ished the famous inn of Amos Cowles, we reach the house 
with Ionic columns built by the late Major Timothy 



i6 

Cowles. Chauncey Jerome, in his " History of the Amer- 
ican Clock Business," says, under date of i8i 5 : 

"I moved to the town of Farmington and went 

to work for Capt. vSelah Porter for twenty dollars per month. We 
built a house for Major Timothy Cowles, which was then the best 
one in Farmington." 

The meeting--house next on our way need not detain us. 
He who would attempt to add to the graphic and exhaust- 
ive history by President Porter would be presumptuous 
indeed. The next house of brick was built by Gad 
Cowles within the century, and the three-story house of 
Dr. Wheeler on the corner, by Jonathan Cowles in 1799. 

Crossing the road up the mountain, we find on the 
corner the square house with the pyramidal roof and the 
chimney in the center owned and occupied by the Rev. 
Samuel Whitman during his ministry. Parts, if not the 
whole, of the building are much older than its well-pre- 
served walls would indicate. Tradition says the kitchen 
was built out of the remains of the old meeting-house, 
and the Rev. William S. Porter, who knew more about 
the history of the town than any man who has ever lived 
or is likely to live, says that the house, probably the front, 
was built by Cuff Freeman, a colored man of considerable 
wealth, of course after the death of Mr. Whitman. 

Leaving the main street and ascending the hill to the 
east, we come at the dividing line between the grounds 
about Miss Porter's schoolhouse and the late residence of 
Rev. T. K. Fessenden to the site of the house of Col. 
Noadiah Hooker, known as the " Old Red College " dur- 
ing the days when his son, Deacon Edward, there fitted 
Southern young men for college. Commander Edward 
Hooker of the United States Navy sends me a plan of the 
old house, which he of course well remembers. He says, 
" the part marked kitchen was floored with smooth, flat 
mountain stones, and had a big door at the eastern end, 



17 

and originally at each end, and my father used to say that 
when his father was a boy, they used to drive a yoke of 
oxen with a sled load of wood into one door and up to the 
big fireplace, then unload the wood upon the fire and 
drive the team out of the other door." Of the building 
of the house on the corner eastward, we have the most 
minute account from the time when in January, 1 8 1 1 , 
Capt. Luther Seymour drew the plan to the 25th of May, 
18 12, when Deacon Hooker took possession with his 
youthful bride. We even know the long list of those 
who helped raise the frame and of those who came too 
late for the raising but in time for the refreshments. 

But we must hurry back to the main street, lest with 
the rich materials at hand for an account of this most 
interesting man, we detain you beyond all proper bounds. 
The next old house to the north, the home of Col. Martin 
Cowles, was built and occupied by John Porter in 1784. 
Opposite the Savings Bank, the south part of the long 
house once the residence of Reuben S. Norton, merchant, 
was built by his grandfather, Thomas Smith, Sen., and 
the north third, by Deacon Thomas Smith, son of the 
latter. The next house, long the residence of Horace 
Cowles, Esq., was built by Samuel Smith, brother of the 
Deacon, in 1769, and is a good specimen of the style of 
houses erected by Capt. Judah Woodruff. The next old 
house, with the high brick basement, was built about 
1 797 by Capt. Luther Seymour, cabinet-maker and house- 
builder. Many choice pieces of old furniture in town, 
much prized by relic-hunters, were the work of his hand, 
but a large part of his work, thickly studded with brass 
nail heads, as was the fashion of the time, has been for- 
ever hidden from sight under the sods of the old burying- 
ground. Capt. Seymour was also librarian of one of the 
several libraries which divided the literary patronage of 
the village. The next house on a slight elevation stands 
3 



i8 

on a lot bought in 1769 by John Thomson, third in descent 
of that name, conspicuous about town with his leathern 
jacket and his pronounced opinions on Continental paper 
money. Here lived three generations of his descendants. 
Passing the house owned by Dr. Thomson, and before 
him by Air. James K. Camp, and two other buildings, we 
come to a house built or largely renewed in 1808 by 
Nathaniel Olmsted, goldsmith and clockmaker. Here 
for twenty years were made the tall clocks bearing his 
name, which still correctly measure time with their sol- 
emn beat. He removed to New Haven to be near his 
brother. Professor Denison Olmsted, and there died in 
i860, most genial and loveable of men. His funeral dis- 
course was from the words, " Behold an Israelite indeed in 
whom is no guile." We will halt under the big elm tree, 
which overhanofs the little house where Manin Curtis 
spent his life, long enough to say that his father, Sylvanus 
Curtis, in company with Phinehas Lewis in 1762, the year 
when Sylvanus was married, brought home from a swamp 
three elm trees. One was planted back of the Elm Tree 
Inn, one in front of the house of Mr. Curtis, and the third 
failed to live. The big elm tree is, therefore, 133 years 
old. On the corner eastward stands the house, much 
improved of late, built in 1786 and 1787 by Capt. Judah 
Woodruff for Major Peter Curtiss, an officer in the Rev- 
olutionary War, who removed to Granby in 1790, and 
was the first keeper of the reconstructed Newgate prison, 
leaving it in 1796 in declining health, and dying in 1797. 
Omitting the other houses on the west side of Pligh street, 
for want of time and information, we come to the house 
lately owned by Selah Westcott, built by Major Samuel 
Dickinson on a lot bought by him in 1813. Major Dick- 
inson was a house-builder, and when the Farmington 
canal was opened, he commanded the first packet boat 
which sailed southward from our wharves on the loth of 



19 

November, 1 828, on which a six-year-old boy, afterward a 
gallant U. S. naval officer in the late war, made his first 
voyage, sailing as far south as the old South Basin. He 
writes me : " Long live the memory of the old ' James Hill- 
house,' and her jolly Captain Dickinson, who was not only 
a royal canal boat captain, but a famous builder, whose 
work still stands before you in the ' Old Red Bridge,' one 
of the best and most substantially built bridges of Con- 
necticut." On the northeast corner of the intersection of 
High street with the road to New Britain, long stood the 
house of Capt. Joseph Porter, one of the three houses on 
the east side of High street, with much projecting upper 
stories and conspicuous pendants, built about 1700. This 
was moved some rods up the hill when Mr. Franklin 
Woodford built his new house, and was burned on the 
evening of January 15, 1886. So there remains but one of 
the three houses, the one bought by Rev. Samuel Whit- 
man for his son, Elnathan, in 1735, and is the same house 
sold by John Stanley, Sen., to Capt. Ebenezer Steel in 
1720. Descending to the low ground on the north and 
rising again, we come to the gambrel-roofed house where 
lived Dr. Eli Todd from 1 798 until his removal to Hart- 
ford in 1 8 19. Of this eminent man you will find appreci- 
ative notices in the two addresses of President Porter and 
m the article on the Connecticut Retreat for the Insane 
by Dr. Stearns in the Memorial History of Hartford 
County. He will probably be longest remembered as the 
first superintendent of the Connecticut Retreat for the 
Insane in Hartford, where his system of minimum re- 
straint and kind treatment opened a new era for suffering 
humanity. At the northern end of High street, facing 
the road to the river, we make our last stop at the house 
of ]\Irs. Barney, built by Capt. Judah Woodruff about 
1805 for Phinehas Lewis. Between this house and the 
place from which we set out, there stands no house, old or 



20 

new, to detain us longer. Thanking yon for the patience 
with which you have endured our long walk through the 
village streets, I am reminded that it is time we parted 
company with the old worthies whom we have called up 
before us for the entertainment of an idle hour, remem- 
bering that in times gone by they were wont to hale 
before his Excellency the Governor such as, having assem- 
bled themselves together, refused to disperse until after 
nine of the clock. 



I 



FARMINGTON SOLDIERS 

IN THE COLONIAL WARS 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual nDeeting 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

September 8, i8gy 



By JULIUS GAY 



Hartford, Conn. 
Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainaxd Company 

1897 



FARMINGTON SOLDIERS 

IN THE COLONIAL WARS 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual fIDcctiiuj 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

September 8, i8gy 



By JULIUS GAY 



Hartford, Conn. 
Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

1897 



ADDRESS. 



Ladies and Gentlevicn of the Village Library Company of 
Farmingtoii : 

I propose this evening to give some account of Farm- 
ington soldiers in the wars preceding the Revohition, 
while the colony was still tinder the crown. In so doing 
I shall consider the men of this village only, leaving out 
of sight the vastly more numerous residents of the 
ancient town, which once extended from Simsbury on 
the north to Cheshire on the south, and from Wethers- 
field westward to what is now the town of Plymouth. 

The first serious conflict in which the settlers of Con- 
necticut were engaged was the Pequot War. This oc- 
curred before our village had any existence, but several 
of the men who afterward settled Farmington, and who 
here lived and died, were in the fight. That we may 
realize the necessity and the justifiableness of the war,, 
let us briefly recall the situation. In the river towns of 
Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield were only about 250 
adult men, and in the fort at Saybrook twenty more, 
under the command of Lion Gardiner. In the south- 
eastern corner of the colony was the powerful tribe of 
the Pequots, under their sachem, Sassacus ; further east 
the Narragansetts, under INIiantonimo ; and to the north 
the Mohegans, under the friendly Uncas ; while to the 
west were the dreaded Mohawks. An attempt by the 
Pequots to unite all the tribes and wipe out the whites at 
one blow failed. The Narragansetts hated the Pequots 
more fiercely than they did the Englishmen, and Uncas 
was always the friend of the whites. 



4 

In 1633 two traders of Virginia, Stone and Norton, 
with six other men, were murdered in their vessel as they 
were sailing up the river to the Dutch fort at Hartford. 
Three years later occurred the murder of John Oldham 
at Block Island, and the ill-advised attempt of Endicott 
from the Bay Colony to chastise without destroying the 
offenders called out the indignant protest of Gardiner : 
"You come hither to raise these wasps about my ears, 
and then you take wing and flee away." After the kill- 
ing and torture of numerous men at Saybrook, and the 
roasting alive of a Wethersfield man, the savages pro- 
ceeded to the latter place, killed seven men, a woman, 
and child, and carried away two girls. This was bring- 
ing the war too near home, and so, in May, 1637, the Gen- 
eral Court at Hartford " ordered that there shall be an 
offensive war against the Pequot." A levy of ninety 
men was ordered, to be under the command of Capt. 
John Mason, who had learned the art of war with Fair- 
fax in the Netherlands. For the captain, the minister, 
and the sick were to be provided one hogshead of good 
beer, three or four gallons of strong water, and two gal- 
lons of sack, and for the army a vast supply of stores. 
On the loth of May, 1637, the expedition sailed down the 
river in three vessels, with their friend Uncas and seventy 
of his men. The graphic account of the expedition 
written by Capt. Mason is quite as entertaining as any 
commentary of Cassar, but we have time only to recall 
what every school boy has read — the burning of the Pe- 
quot fort and the destruction of their power. Mason 
says : " Thus in little more than one hour's space was 
this impregnable fort, with themselves, utterly destroyed, 
to the number of six or seven hundred." Whatever we 
may think of this style of warfare, the Indians surely 
had no right to complain of any barbarity. No half-way 
measures were possible. One nation or the other must 



5 

be exterminated. The valiant Capt. Mason closed his 
account with the pious exhortation : " Let us, therefore, 
praise the Lord for His goodness and His wonderful 
works to the children of men." And then, by way of 
postscript, says : " I shall add a word or two by way of 
comment. . . . Our commons were very short. , . . 
We had but one pint of strong liquors among us in our 
whole march. . . . (the bottle of liquor being in my 
hand), and when it was empty, the very smelling to the 
bottle would presently recover such as fainted away, 
which happened by the extremity of the heat. ... I 
shall mention two or three special providences that God 
was pleased to vouchsafe to particular men. . . . John 
Dier and Thomas Steel were both of them shot in the 
knots of their handkerchiefs, being about their necks, 
and received no hurt. Lieutenant Seely was shot in the 
eyebrow with a flat-headed arrow, the point turning 
downward ; I pulled it out myself. Lieutenant Bull [an- 
cestor of our Deacon Bull] had an arrow shot into a hard 
piece of cheese, having no other defense ; which may 
verify the old saying, ' A little armor would serve if a 
man knew where to place it.' " On their return the sol- 
diers from Hartford were granted a lot known as the Sol- 
dier's Field, and it is largely from the record of this land 
that we learn the names of the soldiers in the fiofht. One 
of those who soon helped settle Farmington was Thomas 
Barnes, whose house stood on the east side of the main 
street on land now occupied by the old burying-ground, 
or possibly just south of it. Another Pequot soldier was 
John Bronson, whose house stood near what is sometimes 
called Diamond Glen Brook, having the mountain to the 
south, and highways on all other sides. A third was 
Deacon Stephen Hart, a man of note in all public mat- 
ters, whether pertaining to the town or the church. His 
house was on the west side of the main street, opposite 



the meeting-house. The fourth, and, so far as I know, 
the only remaining soldier, was John Warner, who lived 
in a house nearly opposite the savings bank, which he 
sold about 1665 to Matthew Woodruff, and bought an- 
other of Reinold Marvin on the west side of the main 
street, near the house of T. H. and L. C. Root. To 
Thomas Barnes and John Warner each, the General 
Court in October, 1671, granted fifty acres of land for 
their services as Pequot soldiers. 

The Pequot war ended, the settlers were able to culti- 
vate in security the rich lands bought by them of Sequas- 
son, the sachem of the Indians of Hartford and vicinity. 
In 1650 they obtained a new deed from the Indians of 
Tunxis Sepus with new agreements " to settle peace in a 
way of truth and righteousness betwixt the English and 
them." For fourteen years they lived in much peace and 
contentment undisturbed by the distant wars of savage 
tribes. At length the Commissioners of the United Col- 
onies resolved to assist the Long Island Indians in a war 
against the Narragansetts. Twenty men were to go 
from Connecticut, of whom Farmington was to send one 
man. The expedition was under the command of Major 
Willard of Massachusetts, who found the Indians had 
deserted their village and taken refuge in a swamp 
fifteen miles away. Leaving them unmolested, he 
marched home again and disbanded his forces. The 
next General Court at Hartford voted the soldiers six- 
pence a day for their valuable services, and thus ended 
the Narragansett war. Who the one soldier was from 
Farmington does not appear. 

Leaving unconsidered the constant warfare of hostile 
tribes and the complex diplomacy by which the colonies 
sought to keep the peace, we must confine ourselves to 
what especially concerns our village. On the 9th of 
April, 1657, the General Court takes cognizance of "a 



most horrid murder committed by some Indians at Farm- 
ington." Fourteen days afterward John Hull of Boston 
records in his diary : " We also heard, that at a town 
called Farmington, near Hartford, an Indian was so bold 
as to kill an English woman great with child, and like- 
wise her maid, and also sorely wounded a little child — 
all within their house, — and then fired the house, which 
also fired some other barns or houses. The Indians, 
being apprehended, delivered up the murderer, who was 
brought to Hartford, and (after he had his right hand cut 
off) was with an axe knocked on the head by the execu- 
tioner. The Lord teach us what such sad providences 
speak unto us all ! " I speak more particularly of this 
occurrence because careless writers persist in confound- 
ing this affair with the burning of the house of Sergeant 
John Hart in 1666, with which the Indians had nothing 
whatever to do. 

The situation was becoming so serious that the com- 
missioners in September forbade Indians traveling armed 
from village to village. Here is an examination, by the 
magistrates, of a body of Deerfield Indians who came 
through Farmington in a threatening manner on April 
28th of the following year. The combined shrewdness 
and insolence of the Indian replies are interesting. 

Q. Whence come you ? 

A. We are Pocumtocooks. 

Q. Why come you so many of you armed with guns ? 

A. Why may one not carry guns as well as the Mo- 
hegans or other Indians. And why do you carry arms ? 

Q, What did you do at Hockanum ? 

A. We were on our way. 

Q. What did you do at the English houses ? 

A. Nothing. 

Q. We asked whether they were at Robert [illegible] 



8 

house yesterday and whether they did not take away a 
basket of corn and a pewter bottle. 

A. They returned and asked us whether we came to 
look after an old Indian basket, and thereupon heaved 
unto us an old Indian basket and a bunch of flax. This 
they did with laughter and derision. 

Q. We asked whither they were going. 

A. They told us that we are here. The chief of this 
company was one Wonoepekum to whom we directed 
our speech and desired them that they would give us a 
reason why they came through the English plantations 
in such manner contrary to the law made by the commis- 
sioners last September Anno 1657. Unto this they made 
us no return. 

No more serious disturbances with the Indians oc- 
curred until in 1675, Philip's War called -a new generation 
of soldiers to the field. Massasoit,, sachem of the Poka- 
nokets, was dead. His oldest son, Wamsutta, did not long 
survive him, and Metacomet, his second son, known as 
Philip, became chief sachem of the tribe. You have all 
read of this savage hero, whose proud nature could not 
endure the arrogance of the Plymouth people, and who 
for two years devastated the country with fire and 
slaughter. The war, beginning in June, 1675, at Swansea, 
spread northward through Massachusetts, destroying the 
towns on the Connecticut River, and came as near to us 
as Simsbury, which was burned on the 26th of March, 
1676. On the 6th of August, two days after the attack on 
Brookfield, Massachusetts, the Council at Hartford or- 
dered one hundred dragoons raised, fifteen from P'arm- 
ington. Again, vSeptcmber 2d, Farmington was ordered 
to furnish seven of the 100 soldiers who marched under 
Major Treat and rescued the survivors of the Bloody 
Brook fight at Deerfield on the i8th. Again, November 
25th, the Council ordered fifteen soldiers from Farming- 



ton which were probably in the great Narragansett 
Swamp Fight of December 19th. On the 4th of January- 
following seven more were called for, and on the 21st of 
February ten more. Driven from Rhode Island, the sav- 
ages assaulted the Massachusetts towns, Lancaster, Med- 
ford, Northampton, Rehoboth, and Sudbury, and on 
March 26th burned Simsbury in this colony. On May 
ist Sergeant Anthony Howkins of this town was ordered 
to raise as many volunteers as possible. Twenty days 
later, " upon the intelligence of the last engagement up 
the river," five more were ordered from this villaQ-e. The 
engagement referred to was the famous " Falls Fight " 
on the morning of ]\Iay 19th at Turner's Falls above 
Greenfield, where Johanna Smith of this town was killed 
and Roger Orvis wounded. Philip now returned to his 
old haunts at Pokanoket, and finally, with a few remain- 
ing followers, was driven into a swamp and killed. The 
General Court ordered the first day of November, 1676, 
to be solemnly kept a day of public thanksgiving, and 
Rev. Samuel Hooker of the Farmington church, preach- 
ing the next election sermon, lamented " how many vil- 
lages are already forsaken of their inhabitants, their 
highways unoccupied, how many chosen young men are 
fallen upon the high places of the field, how many wid- 
ows left solitary among us, with tears on their cheeks, 
how many mothers in Israel weeping for their children, 
and refuse to be comforted because they are not." 

Peace having returned, the town granted land called 
" soldier lots " to those who fought in the war, and from 
the record of these we learn the names of some of the 
soldiers. Care, however, must be used not to confound 
the names of the subsequent purchasers with those of the 
soldiers, the original record having been worn out and 
lost, and only a portion of the grants having been tran- 
scribed into the " new book," so called, which opens with 



lO 

the year 1682. I will give a brief aceoiint of twenty sol- 
diers, being all I can positively identify. 

Joseph Andrews, son of John, was born in 1 651, and 
removed, after the war, to that part of Wethersfield now 
known as Newington, where he died in 1706. Benjamin 
Barnes, son of Thomas, the Pequot soldier, was born in 
1653, and removed to Waterbury, where he became a 
townsman — that is, selectman, and a grave-digger. 
There he died in 171 2. Joseph Barnes, brother of Ben- 
jamin, was born in 1655, married Abigail Gibbs, and died 
in 1 74 1. His house was next south of the old burying- 
ground. Samuel Gridlev was a constable, and for five 
years a selectman. His house was on the west side of 
the main street, on or near the site of the house of the 
late Egbert Cowles, Esq. Anthony Howkins was one of 
the patentees named in the charter of Charles H, and an 
assistant in the years 1666 to 1673, inclusive. He was or- 
dered to raise a company of soldiers at Farmington, and 
march them to Hadley in May, 1676. His house was on 
the east side of the road to Hartford, nearly opposite 
where the North schoolhouse now stands. John Judd, 
son of Deacon Thomas, was a son-in-law of Anthony How- 
kins, was a deputy to the General Court many times, and 
held the offices of ensign and lieutenant. His house was 
on the west side of the main street, where Major Hooker 
afterward lived, and after him the late Deacon William 
Gay. Samuel Judd, brother of the last-named soldier, 
married after the war, and removed to Northampton, 
where he lived and died. William Lewis was the son of 
Capt. William Lewis, and grandson of William the immi- 
grant. He was selectman in 1696 and 1713. He owned 
several houses, one of which was fortified by the town — 
very likely the t)ne on the site of the Elm Tree Inn. 
John and Thomas Newell, sons of Thomas the immi- 
grant, were born in a house which stood on or near the 



II 

site of that of Mrs. Dr. Brown, opposite the Catholic 
Church. They removed to Waterbury. James and Na- 
thaniel North, sons of John the immigrant, who lived 
near where now stands the house of the late Dr. Asahel 
Thomson, were born in Farmington in 1647 and 1656, re- 
spectively, and removed from the town soon after the 
war. Roger Orvis, son of George the immigrant, was in 
the party which marched from Hadley for the relief of 
Hatfield, May 20, 1676, and was wounded. His house was 
at " ye southerly end of the town plat," near where the 
late James W. Cowles lived. Dr. Daniel Porter was a 
son of the first Dr. Daniel, who lived on the west side of 
the main street, not far from the South schoolhouse, and 
who was paid a salary of twelve pounds by the General 
Court for setting all the broken bones in the colony, and 
was allowed six shillings extra for traveling expenses for 
each journey to the river towns. Dr. Daniel, the younger, 
who assumed the practice of surgery on the death of his 
father, removed to Waterbury, and was the second of 
five generations of Drs. Daniel Porter — father, son, 
grandson, great-grandson, and nephew of great-grandson. 
His medical library consisted of " a bone set book," ap- 
praised at two shillings. Thomas Porter, son of the first 
Robert, was the great-grandfather of Dr. Noah Porter. 
Johanna Smith was born at Wethersfield before his father 
removed to this town, in or about the year 1656. He was 
killed May 30, 1676, in the expedition for the relief of 
Hatfield. His soldier lot was laid out to his heirs, " a top 
of ye mountain against Rocke Chayr." This singular 
rock formation, or what is left of it, stands on the north 
side of the road to Hartford, a little west of the stone 
crusher. With an attempt to emphasize the unusual, it 
was long known as the Devil's Rocking Chair. Deacon 
John Stanley received a grant of a soldier lot from the 
town, and was pretty certainly a soldier in King Philip's 



12 

War, rather than his father, Captain John, to whom has 
sometimes been ascribed that honor. He removed to 
Waterbury, but subsequently returned to Farmington. 
Much interesting information about him can be found in 
the recent history of Waterbury. Timothy vStanly, 
brother of John, also removed to Waterbury, and was a 
prominent man. John Woodruff, son of the first Matthew, 
filled a number of town offices — townsman, fence-viewer, 
chimney-viewer, etc. Simon Wrotham, the last on the 
list, was known as Mr., but I have been unable to learn 
the source of a title then accorded only to ministers and 
men high in official position. He was certainly conspicu- 
ous in the church, which excommunicated him. Before 
a council he fared no better, whereupon he appealed to 
the General Court to cite both the church and council 
before them, which body declined " to give the church or 
council any trouble to appear before them .... but 
advised said Wrothum to a serious consideration of his 
former ways." His house stood near the site of the resi- 
dence of Mr. H. H. Mason. 

In addition to these, six Farmington friendly Indians 
went up to vSpringfield on the 6th of October, 1675. 
Trusting you will excuse any error in my pronunciation 
of Algonquin which you may detect, I give you the 
names of the warriors as recorded. Nesehegan, Wanaw- 
messe, Woewassa, Sepoose, Uckchepassun, and Unckco- 
wott. 

But we must hurry on. There is still much fighting 
before us. With the death of Philip the scene of strife 
was removed to the Province of Maine, and Connecticut 
had rest until England, on the accession of William and 
Mary, declared war with France in May, 1689. Then 
began a new series of fiendish massacres, planned no 
longer by the savage Philip, but by the polite French 
rulers of Quebec, and continued until the Peace of Rys- 



'3 

wick in September, 1697. Connecticut repeatedly sent 
soldiers to Albany, a force under Wintlirop in the expe- 
dition of Sir William Phipps against Montreal in 1690, 
and in 1695 to the river towns of Massachusetts. The 
peace was of short duration. After a rest of five years 
Queen Anne declared war against France and Spain, and 
the savages, led by French generals, recommenced their 
midnight massacres. In 1704, seven houses in Farming- 
ton w^ere ordered fortified, viz., those of Thomas Orton, 
William Lewis, Howkins Hart, James Wadsworth, John 
Hart, John Wadsworth, and Samuel Wadsworth. In the 
expedition against Quebec under Nicholson in 1709, 
which failed for want of the promised assistance of Eng- 
lish ships, Farmington furnished eleven men. How 
many of the 300 Connecticut soldiers who went under 
Col. Whiting in the successful Port Royal Expedition of 
1 710, is not recorded, or of the 360 who marched under 
Whiting the next year against Quebec and failed, owing 
to the utter incompetency of the English Admiral 
Walker. The peace of Utrecht was signed March, 171 3, 
and the colony had rest. The only Farmington soldier 
in the Canada Expedition of 171 1, whose name I find 
recorded, was John Scott. Capt. John Hart marched 
a company in February, 1712, into the county of Hamp- 
shire, Massachusetts, but the names of his soldiers have 
not been preserved on any known record. From the 
peace of Utrecht in 1713, to the declaration of war 
against Spain in 1739, the colony had peace broken only 
by fears of invasion from Canada, which did not take 
place, but which kept the colony in constant alarm. On 
the destruction of Rutland, Vermont, in 1723, a company 
of 200 men was formed from the trainbands of Hartford, 
Windsor, and Wethersfield to hold themselves in readi- 
ness. Hunting parties of friendly Indians were forbid- 
den north of the roads from Farmington to Waterbury 



and from Farmington to Hartford, and scouting parties 
of whites were ordered to range the woods continuously 
north of Simsbury. In May, 1724, thirty-two men, of 
whom ten were from Farmington, were ordered for the 
defense of Litchfield against a party of hostile Indians 
discovered lurking about that town. One of the ten was 
Matthew Woodruff, the fourth in direct descent of that 
name, who, in his memorial to the General Assembly in 
May, 1725, says: " Your memorialist in the .summer last 
past at Litchfield, being a soldier there, killed an Indian 
(one of the common enemy) by the help of God." The 
Assembly voted him thirty pounds, whereupon one Na- 
thaniel Watson of Windsor, encouraged by his success, 
represented to the Assembly that he too made a shot at 
an Indian at the .same time as Mr. Woodruff, and thought 
he hit him, but the General Assembly thought otherwise. 
The following year the New Milford Indians held dances 
in war-paint and barbarously murdered a child, where- 
upon the Governor and Council ordered all painted In- 
dians to be treated as enemies. John Hooker, William 
Wadsworth, and Isaac Cowles, or any two of them, were 
ordered to " inspect the Indians of Farmington . . . 
every day about sunset " who were required to give " an 
account of their rambles and business the preceding 
day." Submission to such an infringement of their per- 
sonal liberty, shows the peaceful character of the Tunxis 
Indians. In October following they were allowed their 
former liberty, provided they abstained from war-paint 
and wore a white cloth on their heads while in the 
woods. The danger was soon over, and no Connecticut 
town suffered actual violence. 

In October 23, 1739, England declared war against 
Spain, and Connecticut was called upon for two compa- 
nies of 100 men each which sailed in September of the 
following year under Captains Roger Newberry and John 



15 

vSilliman to join the disastrous expedition of Admiral 
Vernon against Carthagena. Of the i ,000 men from New 
England, scarcely 100 returned. What was the quota of 
Farmington does not appear or the names of the men. 
The folly and rashness of Vernon, bringing sorrow to a 
thousand homes, did not prevent the poet Thomson from 
singing his praises or Lawrence Washington from nam- 
ing Mount Vernon in his honor. Five years of compara- 
tive quiet pass. On the 4th of March, 1745, France de- 
clares war and once more lets loose her savage allies 
upon the English frontiers. Her stronghold was the 
fortress of Louisbourg on the island of Cape Breton, and 
no lasting peace seemed possible until Canada, and, first 
of all, this fortress, was wrested from her. An expedition 
of New England troops, under the direction of Gov. Shir- 
ley of Massachusetts, defended from molestation seaward 
by British men of war, was sent for its reduction and cap- 
tured it June 17th, a day subsequentl}'- memorable as the 
anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill. Connecticut 
sent 500 men besides 100 in the colony's sloop, Z^^/^«^^, 
and 200 more during the siege. Of the company from 
this vicinity Timothy Root of Farmington was lieuten- 
ant, and died at Cape Breton in April after the surrender. 
He was the great-great-grandfather of T. H. and L. C. 
Root. I know of no list of the soldiers of his company. 
■Dr. Samuel Richards, who practiced as a physician in 
numerous towns in this vicinity and died in Plainville, 
learned the rudiments of his professional knowledge in 
the hospital established for the New England troops. 
Another soldier in this campaign, as appears from his 
memorial to the General Court, was Ebenezer Smith, son 
of Jonathan, who lived on the south side of the road to 
Hartford, near where Mr. Martin O'Meara now lives. He 
removed to New Britain, and his gravestone describes 
him as late of Farmington. Ebenezer Lee and Gershom 



i6 

Orvis, in the company of Adonijali Fitch, were probably 
identical with Farmington men of that name. In May, 
1 746, twenty men were ordered as scouts to the county of 
Hampshire, Massachusetts, and forty more for a similar 
service " between the enemy's borders and the borders of 
the British plantation." By request of his Majesty's gov- 
ernment a new expedition against Canada was organized. 
In May the General Court ordered 600 men raised, and in 
June increased the number to 1,000, but the ships for 
their support w^ere sent elsewhere and the colonies given 
over to destruction by the formidable French fleet under 
d'Anville, which proposed to wipe out every vestige of 
Englishmen and their hated religion from the western 
continent. Pestilence and the war of the elements came 
to their relief, and the New England divines thanked the 
Almighty for a repetition of the stor}^ of Sennacherib the 
Assyrian. The war ended with the treaty of Aix la 
Chapelle, April 30, 1748. 

For seven years the colony had a respite from war, 
but in 1754, without any declaration of war, the French 
began to extend their line of forts around the English 
settlements, which led to four expeditions to break their 
line in 1755. One' against the Ohio, resulting in Brad- 
dock's defeat and Washington's finst lesson in war; one 
against Nova Scotia, familiar to the readers of Longfel- 
low's Evangeline ; one against Niagara, and one against 
Crown Point. For the latter service Connecticut raised 
1,500 men in four companies of 750 men each, who partic- 
ipated in the bloody but indecisive battle of September 
6th at Lake George. As a result of the Nova Scotia 
expedition, some of the Acadians were sent to Connecti- 
cut, and more, to the number of 400, being expected, the 
General Court ordered fourteen sent to Farmington as its 
proper proportion. So ended the year 1755. Of Farm- 
ington soldiers, we can identify Ezekiel Lewis, sergeant ; 



17 

Ebenezer Orvis, ensign ; and privates Bela Lewis, Sam- 
uel Bird, and Noah Porter, father of the late Dr. Noah 
Porter and grandfather of President Porter. Deacon 
Noah Porter, who served in this expedition, lived in his 
boyhood in the house of his father Robert which stood 
where now stands the brick house built by the late Fran- 
cis W. Cowles, next north of Miss Adgate's pharmacy. 
The house was given him by his father on his marriage 
in 1764, and was occupied by him until about 1781, when, 
after the birth of Dr. Porter, he removed to what is now 
the town farm on the road to Avon. This he sold in 
1 809 and returned to village life at the house of his son, 
then the pastor of the church of which the father had 
been for thirty-four years a deacon. 

For the campaign of 1756 against Crown Point the 
Connecticut Colony ordered 2,500 men raised and formed 
into four regiments, and in October, in response to the 
urgent call of the Earl of Loudon for reinforcements, 
eight additional companies of 100 men each were ordered 
raised out of the town train-bands, Josiah Lee of Farm- 
ington to be captain of one of the companies. They 
were no sooner raised than Loudon concluded to go into 
winter quarters three months before the usual time and 
do nothing. The troops were accordingly dismissed, and 
so ended the inglorious campaign of 1756. In this cam- 
paign were Ezekiel Lewis, lieutenant, Ebenezer Orvis, 
second lieutenant, Samuel Gridley and David Andrus, 
sergeants, and Samuel Bird, Abraham Hills, and Bela 
Lewis, privates. Dr. Elisha Lord, then of this village, was 
in March, 1756, appointed physician and surgeon for this 
expedition. On the 2d of October Dr. Timothy Collins 
of Litchfield, the chief surgeon, returned home sick, and 
Dr. Lord took his place. He soon afterward removed to 
Norwich. 

In the campaign of 1757 Connecticut raised 1,400 men 
3 



i8 

to act under the Earl of Loudon. There followed the 
surrender of Fort William Henry at the southern end of 
Lake George to the French general, Montcalm, and the 
butchery of the garrison by the Indians in violation of 
the terms of the surrender, and this was all the result of 
great preparations, vast expense, and brilliant hopes. 
The Farmington soldiers were Ezekiel Lewis, ensign, 
privates Samuel Bird, Sylvanus Curtis, Gershom Orvis, 
and Bethuel Norton. Immediately upon the capture of 
Fort William Henry, the colony was called on in hot 
haste for reinforcements, and sent about 5, coo men. 
They were no sooner on their way than orders came 
from General Webb for their return. This campaign 
was known as the Alarm of 1757. The soldiers from this 
village were in service sixteen days, and were Captain 
William Wadsworth, sergeant Judah Woodruff, clerk 
James Wadsworth, corporal Hezekiah Wadsworth, and 
privates Amos Cowles, Phinehas Cowles, Rezin Gridley, 
Elisha Hart, Noadiah Hooker, John Judd, Elihu Newell, 
Joseph Root, Timothy Woodruff, Solomon Woodruff, 
and an Indian, Elijah Wimpey. Probably there were 
others. 

England, now thoroughly tired of its incompetent 
generals and ministers, compelled King George to accept 
the administration of William Pitt, the great commoner, 
as the only man to save the country from ruin. Pitt re- 
called the weak Loudon and sent over Generals Wolf and 
Amherst, and Admiral Boscawen, and a new era began. 
In response to an appeal by Pitt stating that his majesty 
has " nothing more at heart than to repair the losses and 
disappointments of the last inactive and unhappy cam- 
paign, and, by the blessing of God on his arms, the 
damages impending on North America," the General 
Assembly raised five thousand men for the campaign of 
1758. The capture of Louisburg, the strongest fortress 



'9 

of the French, followed by that of Fort Frontenac on the 
north bank of the St. Lawrence where it flows out of 
Lake Ontario, and of Fort Duquesne where now stands 
the city of Pittsburg, revived the spirits of the nation. 
The loss of Lord Howe in the march against Fort Ticon- 
deroga and the subsequent ill-advised attack on that fort 
by Bradstreet, alone marred the success of the campaign. 
The Farmington soldiers, so far as known, were Judah 
Woodruff, lieutenant, Samuel Bird and Eleazer Curtis, 
sergeants, and Ashbel Norton, David Orvis, Daniel Ow^en, 
and Bela Lewis, privates, and probably Matthew Norton 
and Thomas Norton. 

For the memorable campaign of 1759 Connecticut 
raised 3,600 men. The capture of Ticonderoga, Crown 
Point, Niagara, and finally of Quebec itself followed, with 
the glorious victory of Wolf over Montcalm on the Plains 
of Abraham. We know very few of the soldiers who 
took part in this series of victories. The imperfect mus- 
ter rolls here fail us altogether. We know that Judah 
Woodruff was first and Samuel Gridley was second lieu- 
tenant during the years 1759 and 1760, and that is about 
all. The journal of a single private soldier has been 
preserved, — a boyish, illiterate performance, it neverthe- 
less gives us quite as vivid a picture of what happened 
around him as do the more formal accounts of his supe- 
riors. It was written by Reuben Smith, son of Thomas 
and Mary Smith, well-known citizens of our village, who 
owned and lived in the south two-thirds of the long house 
opposite the savings bank. I will give you the greater 
part of the journal. 

"April the 18, 1759. We marched from Farmington. The 
20th we entered Greenbush. The next day we sailed over the 
river and encamped on the hill. May 29, 1759. We marched from 
Albany to Schenectady, and the same day Horres [Horace .'] was 
shot at Albany before we marched. We set out very late and got 



20 

there before night, and pitched otir tents and lay very well. As I 
have thought it proper to write all that is strange, now this thing 
it seems more strange than anything that I have seen since I came 
from home. June the 3d day in Schenectady there were two old 
women got one of the old Leather Hats drunk, and took him to 
the guard house and put him under guard. . . . God 
save the King and all the Leather Hat men. June the 6th. There 
was a woman riding the road from Schenectady to Sir William 
Johnson's. There came a number of Indians and pulled her off 
her horse and scalped her, but left her alive. Oh ! it grieves me to 
take my pen to write these ways of an Indian. This poor woman 
had a child about one year and a half old, which she begged that 
she might embrace it once more with a kiss before they killed it. 
But these cruel, barbarous, cruel creatures . . . stripped 
her and left her in her blood, and they killed her poor child or 
carried it into captivity, and another lad that was with them. 
This woman was brought into Schenectady, and she lived about 
two days and died. I saw her buried myself, Reuben Smith. 
June the 12th day, 1759. One of Major Rogers' captains, Captain 
Redfield, catched three Frenchmen and brought two of them into 
Schenectady, and from there to Albany. The other they carried 
to Sir William Johnson's. I saw these captives myself. Reuben 
Smith. Schenectady, June 20. Died William Ellsworth of Har- 
rington |Harwinton?l in a fit. Belonged to Capt. Paterson's Co., 
the first that died after we left home. June the 24, 1759. Died 
Samuel Wright, son to Emersine [Emerson?] Wright of New 
Britain. He died at Schenectady with sickness in the barracks. 
He was about 18 years of age. July the ist, 1759. I was pleased 
to take a walk to the Dutch Church, and all that I learnt was the 
148th Psalm, which they sang. I understood the psalm which the 
clerk mentioned, and that was all. July 4, 1759. Returned one 
Stevens who had been in captivity the space of one year. He be- 
longed to Canterbury. He was sold to an Indian squaw. She 
told him that she would return him to his own land in a few days, 
but kept him almost one year, and he ran away, and his first post 
was Swago [Oswego ?|, and from thence to Fort Stanwix, and 
there came a guard from thence with a French lieutenant. They 
carried him from Schenectady to Albany blindfolded. July 20, 
1759. Died Samuel Woodford of Farmington at Schenectady. 
July 10, 1759. I set out a batteauxing for my pleasure. I went to 



21 

the Little Carrying Place and returned the 19th to Schenectady 
again. . . . 2 of August I had news that Niagara was 

ours at the loss of | illegible] notwithstanding. Kept a day of re- 
joicing and eating and drinking. Came night we built a large fire 
almost extended to the clouds, and shot our guns briskly. August 
the 10. Came an old bush-headed man crying good limes, good 
limes, good limes, with such open throat and horrid mouth that 
some took him to be the devil. . . . October the 14th. 
I am sorry to think that I have omitted writing so long. Now 
one thing prompts me to write. There were two men killed by ' 
Negroes in a garden. November the 7th, 1759. Died Capt. Daniel 
Owen of Farmington, belonging to Major John Patterson's com- 
pany." 

The subsequent year our journalist came again to 
Schenectady, but died on the 26th of May. 

To strengthen and defend the places captured, and 
for the reduction of Montreal, Connecticut raised 5,000 
men in 1760, and 2,300 more during each of the years 
1 76 1 and 1762. Martinique was captured in February, 
1762, and Havana in the succeeding August. From the 
latter expedition scarcely a man returned. From the 
memorial of his widow to the General Assembly, it ap- 
pears that Lieut. David Andrus, who lived where the 
East Farms district schoolhouse now stands, was taken 
sick before the embarkation of the troops on their return 
from Havana, and died about eight days after his ar- 
rival in New York. 

The treaty of Paris, February 10, 1763, ended the war. 
With the exception of 265 men sent in 1764 to put down 
the Indian uprising at Detroit, the colony was not called 
upon for more soldiers until the War of the Revolution. 

Such is the account of the soldiers of this village, so 
far as I have been able to gather it from contemporaneous 
records. A much more entertaining narrative might 
have been constructed from family traditions, which 
sometimes contain a grain of truth, but not always. The 



22 

stories of Indian warfare compiled by the father of the 
late Egbert Cowles, Esq., for the history of this town by 
Governor Treadwell, might have been drawn on, or the 
stories heard in my own childhood to the droning accom- 
paniment of the spinning-wheel, in the long winter even- 
ings, when the labors of the day were over — blood-curd- 
ling tales of Indian massacres, interspersed with stories 
of New England witchcraft, of Captain Kidd and the Sa- 
tanic hosts who guarded his buried treasure — all devoutly 
believed in by the aged narrator. If, instead, I have 
given you but a bare list of names, it is, so far as it goes, 
a reliable one and an honorable one. 



INDEX OF SOLDIERS' NAMES. 



Andrews, David 






Page. 
17 


Norton, Ashbel 






Page. 
19 


Andrews, Joseph 






10 


Norton, Bethuel 






18 


Barnes, Benjamin 






10 


Norton, Matthew 






19 


Barnes, Joseph 






10 


Norton, Thomas 






19 


Barnes, Thomas 






5 


Orvis, David 






19 


Bird, Samuel 




• 17 


, 18. 19 


Orvis, Ebenezer 






17 


Bronson, John 






5 


Orvis, Gershom 






16. iS 


Cowles, Amos 






18 


Orvis, Roger 






9. II 


Cowles, Phinehas 






18 


Owen, Daniel 






• 19, 21 


Curtis, Eleazer 






19 


Porter, Daniel 






II 


Curtis, Sylvanus 






18 


Porter, Noah 






17 


Gridley, Rezin 






18 


Porter, Thomas 






II 


Gridley, Samuel 




10 


17, 19 


Richards, Samuel 






13 


Hart, Ehsha . 






18 


Root, Joseph 






18 


Hart, John . 






13 


Root, Timothy 






15 


Hart, Stephen 






5 


Scott, John . 






13 


Hills, Abraham 






17 


Smith, Ebenezer 






15 


Hooker, Noadiah 






18 


Smith, Jobanna 






9 


Howkins, Anthonj 






9, 10 


Smith, Reuben 






19 


Judd, John . 






10, 18 


Stanley, John 






n 


Judd, Samuel 






10 


Stanley, Timothy 






10 


Lee, Ebenezer 






15 


Wadsworth, Hezekiah 




18 


Lee, Josiah . 






17 


Wadsworth, James 




18 


Lewis, Bela . 






17. 19 


Wadsworth, William . 




18 


Lewis, Ezekiel 




16 


17, 18 


Warner, John 




6 


Lewis, William 






10 


Wimpey, Elijah . 




18 


Lord, Elisha . 






17 


Woodruff, John 




12 


Newell, Elihu 






18 


Woodruff, Judah . 




18. 19 


Newell, John 






10 


Woodruff, Matthew 




14 


Newell, Thomas 






10 


Woodruff, Solomon 




18 


North, James 






II 


Woodruff, Timothy 




18 


North, Nathaniel . 






II 


Wrotham, Simon 






12 



THE EARLY INDUSTRIES OF FARMINGTON 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual Meeting 



OF 



The Village LibraryCompany 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

September 14, i8g8 



By JULIUS GAY 



Hartford, Conn. 
Press of The Case, Lock wood & Brainard Company 

1898 



THE EARLY INDUSTRIES OF FARMINGTON 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual HDeetino 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

September 14, i8g8 



By JULIUS GAY 



Hartford, Conn. 
Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

1898 



ADDRESS, 



Ladies and Gentlemen of the Village Library Company of 
Farmington : 

Having been requested by your Committee to read for 
your entertainment another paper on the Farmington of 
our ancestors, I propose to give this evening some account 
of the early industries of Farmington. 

The first settlers of this village came from Hartford 
probably along the same path and through the same 
notch in the mountain we still use. Finding further 
progress westward interrupted by the river, they turned 
southward and built their first houses where runs the 
Main street of to-day. To each settler was allotted a strip 
of land about two hundred feet wide, bounded on the 
east by the mountain and on the west by the river. 
When their numbers increased, and their flocks and herds 
required ampler accommodation, they made use of the 
meadows and forest to the westward, enclosing them with 
a strong fence and a deep ditch, remains of the latter of 
which may still be traced from Avon southward through 
the Pine Woods nearly to Plainville. This fence kept 
their flocks from losing themselves in the forest, and 
was thought a sufficient bar against wolves, which do 
not easily climb an obstruction. 

Here in much peace and contentment they lived the 
laborious lives of early settlers. Let us see what can be 
learned of their industries and daily life for the first sixty 
years of their residence. During this period forty-five, 
out of a much larger number who died, left estates 



minutely inventoried by the courts of the day. These 
inventories, showing- all a man's possessions, from his 
farm down to his smallest article of clothing, give us 
about all the information of his daily life and habits we 
possess. 

They were all farmers, every one of them. The min- 
ister was the biofSfest farmer of them all. To him was 
allotted a double portion of land. The Rev. Roger New- 
ton removed early and died elsewhere, but his successor, 
the Rev. Samuel Hooker, dying here in 1697, left a farm 
valued at ^^440, many horses, cattle, and sheep in his pas- 
tures, much wheat, rye, corn, and barley in his granary, 
and already sowed for the next year's crop, with abun- 
dant husbandry tools for the prosecution of this industry. 
With two sermons, not of the shortest, to write every 
week, and another for lecture day, with an occasional 
election sermon, and much public work in the colony, he 
must have been a laborious man. His estate, with the 
exception of that of Mr. John Wadsworth, was the largest 
inventoried before 1700. 

The work of the farm was done largely by oxen. 
Almost every farmer owned one yoke, but none more 
than two, so far as can be learned. Horses were about 
twice as numerous as oxen, and were also used in the cul- 
tivation of land, as the inventory of their tackling proves. 
Every man had a cow ortwo but no large herds. John 
Hart, burned in his house in 1666, left six, as also did 
Nathaniel Kellogg, dying in 1657, but one and two were 
the common number. Sheep were held a necessity on 
every farm to furnish warm clothing in the long New 
England winter. John Orton, dying in 1695, left a flock of 
twenty-two, but the average number was ten. Swine were 
numerous. John Cowles' estate had thirty-eight. The 
average for a farmer was fifteen. A few hives of bees 
usually closed the list. Farming implements were much 



5 

as we knew them fifty years ago, before the day of horse 
rakes and mowing-machines, only a ruder construction. 
They had fans but no fanning-mills, trusting to the winds 
of heaven to winnow the grain from the chaff as in bibli- 
cal times. Their carts and plows were home-made and so 
rudely built that the appraiser frequently estimated the 
value of the iron parts only. Josselyn in his " Two Voy- 
ages to New England," printed in 1673, advises the planter 
to buy his cart-wheels in England for fourteen shillings 
rather than trust to colonial workmanship. Certain tools 
were then common which some of us remember to have 
seen in our boyhood, long unused. There was the heavy 
and cumbersome brake for breaking flax, the wooden 
swingling knife for continuing the process, and the 
hetchel. Wool cards were also common. After flax, 
wheat was the most important crop, and rye was raised 
when the exhausted land would no longer bear wheat. 
Mislen, or a mixture of wheat and rye, was often sowed 
in the hope that one or the other grain might thrive. 
Barley was raised for the manufacture of malt, and we 
find even oats used for this purpose. It took the Eng- 
lishman several generations to learn that he could live 
without beer. Wood, in his " New England's Prospect," 
printed in 1634, gives his English view of the matter. 
" Every family," he says, " having a spring of sweet 
waters betwixt them, which is far different from the 
waters of England, being not so sharp, but of a fatter 
substance, and of a more jetty color ; it is thought there 
can be no better water in the world, yet dare I not prefer 
it before good beer as some have done." After the multi- 
plication of apple orchards, cider largely took the place of 
beer. John Hart had a cider press in 1666 and Capt. 
William Lewis in 1690 had not only a cider mill but a 
malt mill, a still, and a supply of malt and hops John 
Bronson in 1680 had ten barrels of cider in his cellar 



valued at four pounds. Potatoes are not named. Prob- 
ably none of the settlers had ever seen one. Peas and 
beans were common, but by far the largest crop was 
Indian corn. Corn was the first eatable thing which the 
starving Pilgrims could find after they left Plymouth 
Rock. The friendly Tisquantum showed them how to 
raise it. " Also he told them except they get fish and set 
with it (in these old grounds) it would come to nothing, 
and he showed them that in the middle of April they 
should have store enough come up the brook by which 
they began to build." So says Gov. Bradford in his 
history. Other Indian advice was to place in each hill a 
shad, a few kernels of corn, and a few beans. The shad 
was for manure, and the cornstalks formed in good time 
sufficient poles for the bean vines to climb. The savage 
meanwhile retiring to the sunny side of his wigwam 
trusted the rest to all bountiful nature, with a little assist- 
ance from his squaw. Other things the settlers soon 
learned. Of the blackbirds which soon pulled up their 
corn, Roger Williams writing in 1643 says, "Of this sort 
there be millions, which be great devourers of the Indian 
corn, as soon as it appears above the ground. Against 
these birds the Indians are very careful both to set their 
corn deep enough, that it may have a strong root, not so 
apt to be plucked up (yet not too deep, lest they bury it, 
and it never come up) ; as also they put up little watch 
houses in the middle of their fields, in which they, or 
their biggCvSt children lodge, and, early in the morning, 
prevent the birds from devouring the corn." As for the 
crow, he says, "These birds, although they do the corn 
some hurt, yet scarce will one native amongst an hundred 
kill them, because they have a tradition, that the crow . 
brought them at first an Indian grain of corn in one ear, 
and an Indian or French bean in another, from the great 
God Cawtantowwit's field in the southwest, from whence 



they hold came all their corn and beans." In 1694 the 
town offered a reward of two pence for crows and one 
shilling the dozen for blackbirds. In Hartford, in 1707, 
it was held the duty of every good citizen to kill one dozen 
blackbirds each year, or pay a fine of one shilling. If he 
killed more than a dozen he was entitled to one penny 
for each bird. From that time to this many bounties 
have been paid and much powder burned, but the crow is 
still with us, and his morning voice is still heard as he 
wings his daily flight from the mountain to the meadow. 
The most troublesome animals the farmer had to contend 
with, were the wolves which, roaming by night in packs 
of ten or a dozen, with dreadful cries, devoured sheep, 
calves, and the smaller animals. From a stray leaf of the 
town accounts we learn that in 171 8 Ebenezer Barnes, 
Stephen Hart, vSamuel Scott, and Matthew Woodruff were 
each paid six shillings and eight pence for killing wolves. 
They were mostly killed in pits into which they were en- 
ticed by bait placed over the concealed mouth of the pit. 
They were poor climbers, and once in the pit their fate 
was sure. The road running from the eighth milestone 
southward from the Hartford road has, since 1747, and I 
know not how much longer, been known as the Wolf Pit 
road, and certain depressions in the ground used to be 
shown to credulous boys as the ancient wolf pits. 
Another very common method of destroying these 
animals, Josselyn tells us in his " New England's Rari- 
ties " of 1672. "The wolf," he says, "is very numerous, 
and go in companies, sometimes ten, twenty, or fewer, 
and so cunning, that seldom any are killed with guns or 
traps ; but of late they have invented a way to destroy 
them by binding four mackerel hooks across with a brown 
thread, and then, wrapping some wool about them, they 
dip them in melted tallow till it be as round and big as 
an eg^ ; these (when any beast has been killed by the 



8 

wolves) they scatter by the dead carcass after they have 
beaten off the wolves ; about midnight the --volves are sure 
to return again to the place where t" ^eft the slaugh- 
tered beast, and the first thing they venture upon will be 
these balls of fat." Bears were frequently met with, but 
they made the farmers very little trouble, and were es- 
teemed a good-natured animal, except when defending 
their young. The town paid for killing panthers in 171 8 
and in 1726, and probably in other years. In 1768 a 
bounty of three shillings was offered for wildcats, and on 
the 30th day of May, 1773, the town paid three shillings 
to Noah Hart for a wildcat, and the same day paid one 
shilling to John Newell, Jr., " for putting a strolling fel- 
low in the stocks," wildcats and tramps being held in like 
estimation. One other animal the settlers feared more 
than all the others put together. It spared neither man 
nor beast, and its midnight roar was not a cheerful sound 
to the lonely settler. All over New England they called 
it a lion, with about as much knowledge of natural history 
as Nick Bottom, who held " a lion is a most dreadful thing ; 
for there is not a more fearful wild-fowl than your lion 
living." Wood, in his " New England's Prospect," says, 
" concerning lions, I will not say that I ever saw any my- 
self, but some affirm that they have seen a lion at Cape 
Anne .... some likewivSe, being lost in the woods, 
have heard such terrible roarings, as have made them 
much aghast ; which must be devils or lions there being 
no other creatures which use to roar saving bears, which 
have not such a terrible kind of roaring." Sundry locali- 
ties were named after the beast. A Lion's Hollow west- 
ward of the road to Plainville, and a Lion's Hole eastward 
of the road to Kensington were frequently mentioned in 
old deeds. A Lion's Hole near Dead Swamp is men- 
tioned in 1686, and one, hardly the same, in 1705 on the 
Great Plain. The animal was without much doubt a 



catamount. If you have ever seen the bronze figure of 
this beast standing on its granite pedestal in front of the 
site of the old Catamount Tavern in Bennington, Ver- 
mont, " grinning towards New York," you will not 
wonder at its unpleasant reputation. 

Early in the history of this village, as in all new settle- 
ments, it became necessary for some of the farmers to 
engage in other industries essential to civilized life. The 
goodman could prepare wool and flax for the wheel of the 
goodwife, but not every one possessed a loom, or knew 
how to use it. Joseph Bird and his sons, Joseph, Samuel, 
and Thomas, living on Bird Hill, on the Hartford road, 
were all weavers before 1700. Simon Wrothum, a man 
conspicuous for his want of sympathy with the religious 
views of his townsmen, was also a weaver. Sergeant 
Stephen Hart, son of Deacon Stephen, had " looms, 
sleys, reeds, and other weaving tools," valued at ^5-2s. 
Sergeant John Clark, who died in the Canada Expedition 
of 1 709, had a coverlet of John Root's weaving, valued at 
18 shillings. The latter was known as "John Root, 
weaver," as early as 1699. Samuel North, dying in 1682, 
left " A looiTL and tools belonging to it," valued at three 
pounds. Here, surely, were weavers enough to supply all 
reasonable requirements of the little village. Probably 
the goodwife of the settler fashioned the products of these 
many looms into substantial clothing, but, as early as 1697, 
Deacon Thomas Porter, son of the first Thomas, came to 
be known as " Thomas Porter, tailor." His house stood 
near the site of that of Judge E. H. Deming, and here the 
young men who desired something more stylish than 
home-made garments doubtless repaired. We regret our 
inability to describe the fashions of his shop. An inven- 
tory of the wardrobe of a respectable farmer of the day 
must suffice. Sergeant John Clark had four coats, one of 
kersey, one of serge, a cape-coat, lined, afid an old coat. 



lo 

Of waistcoats he had a blue and a serge. His breeches 
were severally of drugget, serge, and leather. He had a 
hat of castor beaver, two fringed muslin neckcloths, two 
pairs of gloves, and two speckled shirts. Further it is 
unnecessary to go. Five men, besides the minister, wore 
broadcloth, — John Judd, son of William ; Samuel Cowles, 
who, besides two broadcloth coats, valued at six pounds, 
had a damask vest and four pairs of silver buttons ; Capt. 
John Stanley, who had a straight broadcloth coat of a 
sad color ; Samuel Gridley, who also carried a silver- 
headed cane, and his son, Samuel, who had two coats, 
each three times as valuable as his father's, and silver 
buttons and buckles to match. The tide of luxury so 
deeply deplored by Gov. Treadwell years afterward had 
already set in. Samuel Langdon, son of Deacon Langdon, 
removing to Northampton and carrying thither the luxu- 
rious habits of his native village, was with divers persons 
" presented by the grand jury to the court at Northamp- 
ton, March 26, 1676, for wearing of silk, and that in a 
flaunting manner, and others for long hair and other 
extravagances contrary to honest and sober order and 
demeanor, not becoming a wilderness state, at least the 
profession of Christianity and religion." Mr. Langdon 
made his peace with the court by paying the clerk's fee, 
2 shillings and 6 pence. 

Samuel Woodruff, son of Matthew the immigrant, was 
the village shoemaker, commonly known as " Samuel 
Woodruff, cordwainer." About 1700 he removed to 
Southington, and tradition calls him its first white inhab- 
itant. John Newell, son of Thomas the immigrant, was 
another shoemaker. He removed to Waterbury with those 
who went from this village, but returned, and died un- 
married in 1696. His inventory shows: " vShoe leather, 
lasts, and shoemaker's gears," valued at 19 shillings, 9 
pence. Benjamin Judd, son of Deacon Thomas, dying in 



1 1 



1698, left " Leather and shoemaker's tools to the value of 
one pound and six shillings." Johanna Smith, who was 
killed in the " Falls Fight " of May 19, 1676, was the vil- 
lage cooper, and, after him, John Stedman and Samuel 
Bronson. Daniel Merrills was a tanner, and Joseph Haw- 
ley had a tan-yard. Thomas Lee, son of the first John, 
was described in the deed of David Lee of Northampton, 
weaver, as " Thomas Lee his brother, mason and brick- 
layer of Farmington," in 1697. Joiners must have been 
important members of the community, but I know of no 
one distinctly classed as such. Thomas Thomson the 
immigrant, a brother of Samuel Thomson, stationer, of 
London, dying in 1655, left "Tools for a carpenter and 
other small implements," valued at 5 pounds, i shilling. 
Richard Bronson, in 1687, left a full set of carpenter's 
tools. Deacon John Langdon left a set in 1689. William 
Hooker, son of Rev. Samuel Hooker, left a "turning 
lathe, with saws and other tools, for turning and joiner's 
work." He was a merchant, and these may have been a 
part of his goods. John Bronson and John Warner had 
each a pit saw, — useful tools before saw-mills could be 
built. 

The Gridleys were the blacksmiths of the village. 
Samuel, son of the first Thomas, lived near where now 
stands the house of the late Egbert Cowles, Esq., and his 
shop was in the highway, as was the custom. Dying in 
1712, his son Thomas succeeded to his trade, and was 
known as "Thomas Gridley, smith," to distinguish him 
from other Thomas Gridleys. His house, given him by 
his father in 1704, was on Bird's Hill, on the north side 
of the road to Hartford. The tools inventoried "in ye 
smith's shop" of Samuel Gridley were pretty much what 
you would find in a country forge of to-day. Mr. Gridley 
was also a merchant, and the long inventory of his estate 
is interesting as showing the evolution of the early coun- 



12 

try sliopkeeper. vSilver coin was scarce. Capt. William 
Lewis had, by his inventory, two pounds and four shil- 
lings; John Wadsworth, two pounds vsix shillings; John 
Newell, three pieces of eight, that is, fifteen shillings, and 
John Clark a sum not separately appraised ; and if others 
had any, it was not specifically mentioned. Nathaniel 
Kellogg had wampum valued, in 1657, at two pounds. 
Everyone accepted in payment such goods and valuables 
as the debtor had to offer. Hence Mr. Gridley, as he per- 
ceived his goods increase, opened a shop for their sale. 
Of such wares he had accumulated 3 beaver skins, and 
the skins of 16 raccoons, 3 foxes, 5 wildcats, i bear, i deer, 
7 musquashes, and 2 minks. Of his own handiwork, 
besides other iron ware, he sold nails, not by the pound 
but by count. There were 2,300 four-penny nails, 2,350 
six-penny, 1,900 eight-penny, and 200 hob-nails. In addi- 
tion to the goods he made or got in payment for work, 
his business came, in time, to embrace anything the far- 
mer needed, from carts, harnesses, and scythes to jack- 
knives and catechisms. Here the ladies could procure 
calicoes, crapes, muslins, laces, ribbons, thimbles, thread, 
knitting-pins, combs, and fans, or could stock their pan- 
trys with all manner of shining pewter. Here, too, the 
hunter found powder, flints, and bullets. John Wads- 
worth, dying in 1689, son of the first William, besides a 
large farm, had a shop containing goods not .specifically 
enumerated, but valued at 87 pounds. He had also a 
cold still, an alembic, and sundry gallipots. Perhaps he 
combined the business of a druggist with other industries. 
He was probably the wealthiest man of the village. He 
left a library valued at i^i7-i4s.-6d. His house stood a 
little south of where now lives Judge E. H. Deming. 
William Hooker, son of Rev. Samuel Hooker, lived on 
the west side of Main street, on the corner where the 
road turns off to the railroad station, and was also a shop- 



13 

keeper. His business, judging from the inventory of his 
goods, must have been largely in hardware, such as brass 
kettles, warming-pans, pewter of all sorts, including lo 
pewter tankards, 5 dozen pewter spoons, and 3^^ dozen 
ocomy (that is alchemy) spoons. Farming, however, was 
his principal occupation. Roger Hooker, another son of 
Rev. Samuel Hooker, was also a merchant, and, dying in 
1698, left as great a variety of goods as you will find in 
the country store of to-day, and some other things from a 
very valuable lot of bear skins, deer skins, and moose 
skins, down to fish-hooks and jewsharps. The jewsharp 
was the only instrument of music I find inventoried in a 
Farmington house, and was one of the three allowed in 
the Blue Laws fabricated by the Rev. Samuel Peters. 
The drum, I suppose, was town property, and was beaten 
by John Judd, drummer, at a regular salary. A little 
later, in 171 8, four other men were each paid 13 shillings 
4 pence for drumming. The three New England meth- 
ods of calling the worshipers to the meeting-house were 
by the conch shell, the drum, and the bell. We had at this 
period reached the second stage of development, — the 
drum. According to an old hymn, 

" New England Sabbath day 

Is heaven-like, still, and pure, 
When Israel walks the way 

Up to the temple's door. 
The time we tell 

When there to come 
By beat of drum 

Or sounding shell." 

Another industry, mostly speculative, absorbed much 
time and attention, — the search for valuable ores and the 
precious metals. In 1651 the General Court authorized 
John Winthrop, afterwards the sixth Governor of Connect- 



H 

icut, to search for mines and minerals, and set up works 
for operating the mines when found. His success, espec- 
ially with the iron works at New Haven, was sufficient to 
encourage every land-owner here to believe untold wealth 
was just within reach. Deeds of land frequently appear 
upon our records reserving precious metals should such 
be discovered. The town committee, in 171 2, leased to 
William Partridge and Jonathan Belcher, for eight years, 

" all mines and minerals iron mines only 

excepted, already found out and discovered and hereafter 
to be found and discovered." Two years later eight indi- 
viduals lease to New York merchants the right to dig for 
" oar of Lead or other sort of mettle whatsoever," for sixty 
years. The mineral mostly sought hereabouts was black 
lead. John Oldham, afterwards murdered by the Indians, 
traveling through Connecticut in 1633, brought back 
" some black lead ore, of which the Indians said there 
was a whole quarry." In 1657 the Tunxis Indians sold 
to William Lewis and Samuel Steele " the hill from 
whence John Standly and John Andrews brought the 
black lead, and all the land within eight miles of that 
hill on every side." The sale of this hill was confirmed 
by deed of Pethuzo and Toxcronnock in 17 14. This 
famous hill, with all its treasure, has disappeared from 
view as completely as the fabled island of Atlantis, often 
sought, never found. The Rev. R. M. Chipman, in his 
" History of Harwinton," is authority for the statement 
that sundry citizens of that town and vicinity, to the 
number of five hundred, headed by three venerable cler- 
gymen, on a day appointed, repaired to the woods sup- 
posed to contain the black lead, and, forming a long line, 
marched all day after the manner of beating the woods 
for game, to make sure of the discovery of the black lead 
by some of their number. Whether the story had some 
foundation, or was merely the joke of a minister on his 



15 

clerical brethren, does not appear, but the black ]ead is 
still undiscovered. 

One of the most necessary institutions in a new settle- 
ment is the mill, saw-mills to provide lumber for houses, 
and grist-mills to grind the wheat and corn. Sometime 
during the first ten years of the village, John Bronson 
set up a mill on the brook thereafter known as the Mill 
Brook, and subsequently as the Fulling Mill Brook, and 
which, running down the mountain, crosses Main vStreet 
just north of the house of the late Egbert Cowles, Esq. 
Before 1650 he had sold it to Deacon Stephen Hart, who 
described the premises as " one parcel on which a mill 
standeth with a swamp adjoining to it in which the mill 
water cometh and containeth all the land that the country 
gave to John Bronson there, except the house lot." It was 
probably a saw-mill. In a grant of 1687 we hear of the 
Upper Saw-Mill Pond. Deacon Stephen Hart gave the 
mill in his lifetime to his three sons, John, Stephen, and 
Thomas. In 171 2 the town "granted unto John Bronson 
liberty to build a fulling mill upon the brook that cometh 
down the mountain by Jonathan Smith's, and also the im- 
provement of so much land as is necessary to set a mill 
upon, and for damming in any place between Jonathan 
Smith's lot and John Hart's, provided he do not damnify 
the cart way." In 1778 the town gave Solomon Cowles, 
Thomas Cowles, Isaac Bidwell, Amos Cowles, and 
Phinehas Cowles " liberty to erect one or more grist mills 
on the brook called the Fulling Mill Brook." Their peti- 
tion sets forth " that although there is one grist mill now 
in said society, yet it does not at all times well accom- 
modate the people with grinding, for in certain seasons 
of the year said mill is rendered entirely useless by 
reason of floods, ice, etc., whereby the people are obliged 
to carry their corn five or six miles to get it ground." 
The inference is that the first mill on the brook was a 



i6 

saw-mill built before 1650, the second a fulling mill built 
in 1 71 2, and that the first grist-mill was built on the river 
where a mill has been sustained to the present day. I 
find an early mention of it in the year 1701, which con- 
tains several points of interest. In that year Wenemo, 
an Indian, stole " a good fire-lock gun " from John Bates 
of Haddam, and another Indian, Nannouch, to save his 
friend from the very serious consequences, mortgaged to 
said Bates " two acres of land situated in Farmington 
meadow near the corn mill of Capt. Thomas Hart lying 
in the Indian Neck," and vSamuel Hooker and Stephen 
Root testify " that we saw the Indian Nannouch deliver 
two acres of land commonly called this Indian's land 
afore mentioned to Mr. John Bates of Haddam by turf 
and twig." This ancient form of conveyance by the 
actual delivery of a piece of the soil and of the timber 
growing thereon, was doubtless more intelligible to the 
Indian mind than the drawing a picture of his totem at 
the bottom of a piece of paper inscribed with " Know all 
men by these presents," and other ponderous formulas. 

Without going more at length into the industries of 
the men of that day, it is time we gave some attention to 
the equally laborious occupations of their wives and 
daughters. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the subject 
is to take you to the house of a well-to-do farmer and in- 
spect the housekeeping and all the surroundings of its in- 
mates. We will call on the 30th of May, 1712, at the 
house of Samuel Gridley, which, as I have already men- 
tioned, stood near the site of the house of the late Egbert 
Cowles, Esq. The date is a little later than I could wish, 
but our knowledge of the house is better than that of any 
other. We will examine, not what might have been seen 
in such a house at that time, but what the appraisers, John 
Wadsworth, John Porter, and Isaac Cowles, found there 
that day, and made solemn oath that they found. The 



17 

female inmates of the house we are to inspect were the 
widow Mary and her three daughters, Sarah, a girl of 
eighteen who afterward married Nathaniel Cowles, Mary, 
aged four, who died unmarried, and Jerusha, a babe of 
four months who afterwards married Nehemiah Lewis. 
We will enter by the porch which opens into the hall, on 
either side of which are the parlor and kitchen, and back 
of all the leanto. Over each room except the leanto is a 
chamber, and over all the garret. In the porch we find 
much which had reference to out-of-door life, and which 
the modern housewife would certainly have requested 
Mr. Gridley to bestow elsewhere, — harnesses, saddles, 
the pillion, and pillion cloth on which the goodwife rode 
behind her husband to church or elsewhere, a chest and 
tools, a cart rope, a steel trap, and sundry other things. 
Entering the hall we find the furniture to consist of a 
wainscot chest, a table, a great chair, four lesser ones, 
three cushions and a pillow. Here are stored the arms 
which every man must have ready for instant use, his 
gun, pike, bayonet, rapier, back sword, and cutlass. I 
think there must have been a fireplace in the room, for 
we find two heaters, two smoothing irons, a spit, a pair of 
bellows, two trammels, and their hooks. Here are pots 
and kettles, large and small, of brass and iron. There is 
a goodly display of shining pewter, tankards, plates, 
basins, beakers, porringers, cups with handles, barrel 
cups, pewter measures of all sizes, and pewter bottles. 
Here is much wooden ware, earthen ware, and even 
china ware, and here the family supply of medicines, 
Matthew's pills, blistering salve, and sundry drugs whose 
names I must leave for the professional practitioner to 
transcribe. Here are the goodman's money scales and 
weights, his spectacles, and his library, a collection of 
books which would have been called good Sunday read- 
ing fifty years ago. They are an old Bible, a psalm book, 

3 



i8 

and other books entitled " KOMETOrPA<&IA, Or a Discourse 
Concerning Comets ; wherein the Nature of Blazing 
Stars is Enquired into: With an Historical Account of 
all the Comets which have appeared from the Beginning 
of the World unto this present Year, 1683, ... By- 
Increase Mather." " Time and the End of Time," being 
two discourses by Rev. John Fox of Woburn, Mass., 1701. 
" Zion in Distress ; or the Groans of the Protestant 
Church ;" printed in 1683 for Samuel Phillips. "Spirit- 
ual Almanack," " The Unpardonable Sin," " Divine 
Providence Opened," " Man's chief End to Glorifie God, 
or Some Brief Sermon — Notes on i Cor. 10. 31. — By the 
Reverend Mr. John Bailey, Sometime Preacher and 
Prisoner of Christ at Limerick in Ireland, and now Pastor 
to the Church of Christ in Watertown in New-England." 
1689, " Commentary on Faith," " How to Walk with God," 
" The Wonders of the Invisible World," by Rev. Cotton 
Mather, a very famous book on witchcraft in Salem and 
elsewhere, and on the ordinary devices of the devil. It 
was answered by Robert Calef's " More Wonders of the 
Invisible World," which was burned by order of Dr. In- 
crease Mather, President of Harvard College, in the col- 
lege yard. We find also, " Some Account of the Life of 
Henry Gearing," by J. Shower, "A Warning to prepare for 
Death," a New Testament, "A Book on Numbers," 
whether an arithmetic or a commentary on one of the 
books of the Pentateuch does not appear, " a law book, 
and several pieces of books." The latter entry seems to 
show that the library was much read, and even the frag- 
ments of books were carefully preserved. From the hall 
we pass to the kitchen, where we find in the big fireplace 
a pair of cast-iron fire dogs weighing sixty-four pounds, 
two pairs of tongs, a peel, two trammels and a jack. The 
furniture seems scanty, a table, a chest, a truckle bedstead, 
a great chair and two small ones. Sundry baskets, keel- 



19 

ers, tubs, pails, and kettles stand around. The main 
features of the kitchen, however, are the loom, the great 
wheel, two linen wheels, a hand reel, and the great piles 
of linen sheets, pillow bears, table-cloths, towels, and 
napkins, largely no doubt the production of the loom and 
wheels, and large supplies of yarn, tow, and flax for 
further manufacture. Spinning and storing up vast sup- 
plies of spotless linen against their w^edding day, were the 
great accomplishments of the young maiden. We read 
of spinning matches which lasted from early dawn to 
nine o'clock at night, the contestants being supplied with 
food by other hands while they worked, and finally with 
bloody fingers sinking from sheer exhaustion. Spinning 
bees have continued until within a few years in some 
rural districts. I remember as late as the fall of 1859, 
passing, on a by-road near Farmington, Maine, just at 
sunset, a merry procession of young women with their 
great wheels carried by young men, on their way to a 
contest with the spinners of the next village. Let us now 
inspect the parlor, then as since the crowning glory of 
the house. We find a bedstead with a feather bed and 
a great supply of blankets and coverlids, and, hanging 
over all, a set of calico curtains with a calico vallance to 
match. A warming-pan, a most useful article in a cold 
room, completes the sleeping equipment. Other furniture 
is three chests, a trunk, a round table, a great chair, three 
little ditto, a joint stool, and five cushions. There is also 
a cupboard and a carpet for said cupboard. A carpet was 
not a floor cloth but a covering to furniture often showily 
embroidered by its owner as a specimen of her skill. 
Probably a green rug, valued at five shillings, was for the 
floor. Here are Mr. Gridley's pair of pistols and holster. 
There now remains down stairs only the leanto, which 
will not detain us long, though it probably detained Mrs. 
Gridley many a weary hour, for here are the cheese-press. 



20 

and churn, the butter tubs, and all the machinery of the 
dairy, and, last of all, an hour-glass with which the various 
mysteries of the place were timed. This hour-glass is 
the only instrument for the measurement of time I find, 
except the watch and clock of Rev. Samuel Hooker. The 
sun dial answered very well when the sun shone, and a 
blast on a conch shell when the good wife decreed it to 
be dinner time, called the village home at noon. 

If you please we will now walk up stairs. In the par- 
lor chamber we find a bed with a silk grass pillow and 
two leather pillows weighing ten pounds, and a goodly 
supply of blankets, coverlids, curtains, etc. There are a 
number of chests and boxes and twenty-one pounds of 
yarn, and there was room left somewhere for Mr. Gridley 
to store 50 bushels of wheat and 80 of rye, a practice 
which the tidy housekeeper of to-day might not approve 
in her best chamber. It was, however, the custom to store 
grain in the house where it would be under the protec- 
tion of the household cat, as we see illustrated in the 
picture books of to-day. 

" This is the cat 
That killed the rat 
That ate the malt 
That lay in the hovise that Jack built." 

In the hall chamber we find a feather bed and belong- 
ings and a great store of wheat, barley, corn, and peas 
in baskets, bags, and barrels. The porch chamber is 
given up to malt, oats, and peas. In the garret are 10 
bushels of rye and 100 of Indian corn. If you care to in- 
spect the cellar you will find it pretty well filled with bar- 
rels of pork, beer, soap, hops, oatmeal, and other family 
stores. Here we must take leave of Mrs. Gridley and her 
hou.sehold treasures, pleased no doubt that our lot has 
fallen two centuries later, and that seven generations of 
men have come and gone and left us the better for their 
hardy industries and honest lives. 



THE EARLY INDUSTRIES OF FARMINGTON 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual flDeetino 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

September 14, i8g8 



By JULIUS GAY 



» 



Hartford, Conn, 
Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

1898 



THE EARLY INDUSTRIES OF FARMINGTON 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual nfteetino 



OF 



The Village LibraryCompany 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

September 14, i8g8 



By JULIUS GAY 



Hartford, Conn. 
Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

1898 



ADDRESS. 



Ladies and Gcntlcnioi of the Village Library Company of 
Farniington : 

Having- been requested by your Committee to read for 
your entertainment another paper on the Farmington of 
our ancestors, I propose to give this evening some account 
of the early industries of Farmington. 

The first settlers of this village came from Hartford 
probably along the same path and through the same 
notch in the mountain we still use. Finding further 
progress westward interrupted by the river, they turned 
southward and built their first houses where runs the 
Main street of to-day. To each settler was allotted a strip 
of land about two hundred feet wide, bounded on the 
east by the mountain and on the west by the river. 
When their numbers increased, and their flocks and herds 
required ampler accommodation, they made use of the 
meadows and forest to the westward, enclosing them with 
a strong fence and a deep ditch, remains of the latter of 
which may still be traced from Avon southward through 
the Pine Woods nearly to Plainville. This fence kept 
their flocks from losing themselves in the forest, and 
was thought a sufficient bar against wolves, which do 
not easily climb an obstruction. 

Here in much peace and contentment they lived the 
laborious lives of early settlers. Let us see what can be 
learned of their industries and daily life for the first sixty 
years of their residence. During this period forty-five, 
out of a much larger number who died, left estates 



minutely inventoried by the courts of the day. These 
inventories, showing all a man's possessions, from his 
farm down to his smallest article of clothing, give us 
about all the information of his daily life and habits we 
possess. 

They were all farmers, every one of them. The min- 
ister was the biofSfest farmer of them all. To him was 
allotted a double portion of land. The Rev. Roger New- 
ton removed early and died elsewhere, but his successor, 
the Rev. Samuel Hooker, dying here in 1697, left a farm 
valued at ;^440, many horses, cattle, and sheep in his pas- 
tures, much wheat, rye, corn, and barley in his granary, 
and already sowed for the next year's crop, with abun- 
dant husbandry tools for the prosecution of this industry. 
With two sermons, not of the shortest, to write every 
week, and another for lecture day, with an occasional 
election sermon, and much public work in the colony, he 
must have been a laborious man. His estate, with the 
exception of that of Mr. John Wadsworth, was the largest 
inventoried before 1 700. 

The work of the farm was done largely by oxen. 
Almost every farmer owned one yoke, but none more 
than two, so far as can be learned. Horses were about 
twice as numerous as oxen, and were also used in the cul- 
tivation of land, as the inventory of their tackling proves. 
Every man had a cow ortwo but no large herds. John 
Hart, burned in his house in 1666, left six, as also did 
Nathaniel Kellogg, dying in 1657, but one and two were 
the common number. vSheep were held a necessity on 
every farm to furnish warm clothing in the long New 
England winter. John Orton, dying in 1695, left a flock of 
twenty-two, but the average number was ten. Swine were 
numerous. John Cowles' estate had thirty-eight. The 
average for a farmer was fifteen. A few hives of bees 
usually closed the list. Farming implements were much 



5 

as we knew them fifty years ago, before the day of horse 
rakes and mowing-machines, only a ruder construction. 
They had fans but no fanning-mills, trusting to the winds 
of heaven to winnow the grain from the chaff as in bibli- 
cal times. Their carts and plows were home-made and so 
rudely built that the appraiser frequently estimated the 
value of the iron parts only. Josselyn in his " Two Voy- 
ages to New England," printed in 1673, advises the planter 
to buy his cart-wheels in England for fourteen shillings 
rather than trust to colonial workmanship. Certain tools 
were then common which some of us remember to have 
seen in our boyhood, long unused. There was the heavy 
and cumbersome brake for breaking flax, the wooden 
swingling knife for continuing the process, and the 
hetchel. Wool cards were also common. After flax, 
wheat was the most important crop, and rye was raised 
when the exhausted land would no longer bear wheat. 
Mislen, or a mixture of wheat and rye, was often sowed 
in the hope that one or the other grain might thrive. 
Barley was raised for the manufacture of malt, and we 
find even oats used for this purpose. It took the Eng- 
lishman several generations to learn that he could live 
without beer. Wood, in his " New England's Prospect," 
printed in 1634, gives his English view of the matter. 
" Every family," he says, " having a spring of sweet 
waters betwixt them, which is far different from the 
waters of England, being not so sharp, but of a fatter 
substance, and of a more jetty color ; it is thought there 
can be no better water in the world, yet dare I not prefer 
it before good beer as some have done." After the multi- 
plication of apple orchards, cider largely took the place of 
beer. John Hart had a cider press in 1666 and Capt. 
William Lewis in 1690 had not only a cider mill but a 
malt mill, a still, and a supply of malt and hops John 
Bronson in 1680 had ten barrels of cider in his cellar 



valued at four pounds. Potatoes are not named. Prob- 
ably none of the settlers had ever seen one. Peas and 
beans were eommon, but by far the largest crop was 
Indian corn. Corn was the first eatable thing- which the 
starving Pilgrims could find after they left Plymouth 
Rock. The friendly Tisquantum showed them how to 
raise it. " Also he told them except they get fish and set 
with it (in these old grounds) it would come to nothing, 
and he showed them that in the middle of April they 
should have store enough come up the brook by which 
they began to build." So says Gov. Bradford in his 
history. Other Indian advice was to place in each hill a 
shad, a few kernels of corn, and a few beans. The shad 
was for manure, and the cornstalks formed in good time 
sufficient poles for the bean vines to climb. The savage 
meanwhile retiring to the sunny side of his wigwam 
trusted the rest to all bountiful nature, with a little assist- 
ance from his squaw. Other things the settlers soon 
learned. Of the blackbirds which soon pulled up their 
corn, Roger Williams writing in 1643 says, "Of this sort 
there be millions, which be great devourers of the Indian 
corn, as soon as it appears above the ground. Against 
these birds the Indians are very careful both to set their 
corn deep enough, that it may have a strong root, not so 
apt to be plucked up (yet not too deep, lest they bury it, 
and it never come up) ; as also they put up little watch 
houses in the middle of their fields, in which they, or 
their biggest children lodge, and, early in the morning, 
prevent the birds from devouring the corn," As for the 
crow, he says, " These birds, although they do the corn 
some hurt, yet scarce will one native amongst an hundred 
kill them, because they have a tradition, that the crow 
brought them at first an Indian grain of corn in one ear, 
and an Indian or French bean in another, from the great 
God Cawtantowwit's field in the southwest, from whence 



they hold came all their corn and beans." In 1694 the 
town offered a reward of two pence for crows and one 
shilling the dozen for blackbirds. In Hartford, in 1707, 
it was held the duty of every good citizen to kill one dozen 
blackbirds each year, or pay a fine of one shilling. If he 
killed more than a dozen he was entitled to one penny 
for each bird. From that time to this many bounties 
have been paid and much powder burned, but the crow is 
still with us, and his morning voice is still heard as he 
wings his daily flight from the mountain to the meadow. 
The most troublesome animals the farmer had to contend 
with, were the wolves which, roaming by night in packs 
of *en or a dozen, with dreadful cries, devoured sheep, 
calves, and the smaller animals. From a stray leaf of the 
town accounts we learn that in 171 8 Ebenezer Barnes, 
Stephen Hart, Samuel Scott, and Matthew Woodruff were 
each paid six shillings and eight pence for killing wolves. 
They were mostly killed in pits into which they were en- 
ticed by bait placed over the concealed mouth of the pit. 
They were poor climbers, and once in the pit their fate 
was sure. The road running from the eighth milestone 
southward from the Hartford road has. since 1747, and I 
know not how much longer, been known as the Wolf Pit 
road, and certain depressions in the ground used to be 
shown to credulous boys as the ancient wolf pits. 
Another very common method of destroying these 
animals, Josselyn tells us in his " New England's Rari- 
ties " of 1672. "The wolf," he says, "is very numerous, 
and go in companies, sometimes ten, twenty, or fewer, 
and so cunning, that seldom any are killed with guns or 
traps ; but of late they have invented a way to destroy 
them by binding four mackerel hooks across with a brown 
thread, and then, wrapping some wool about them, they 
dip them in melted tallow till it be as round and big as 
an egg ; these (when any beast has been killed by the 



8 

wolves) they scatter by the dead carcass after they have 
beaten off the wolves ; about midnight the wolves are sure 
to return again to the place where they left the slaugh- 
tered beast, and the first thing they venture upon will be 
these balls of fat." Bears were frequently met with, but 
they made the farmers very little trouble, and were es- 
teemed a good-natured animal, except when defending 
their young. The town paid for killing panthers in 171 8 
and in 1726, and probably in other years. In 1768 a 
bounty of three shillings was offered for wildcats, and on 
the 30th day of May, 1773, the town paid three shillings 
to Noah Hart for a wildcat, and the same day paid one 
shilling to John Newell, Jr., " for putting a strolling fel- 
low in the stocks," wildcats and tramps being held in like 
estimation. One other animal the settlers feared more 
than all the others put together. It spared neither man 
nor beast, and its midnight roar was not a cheerful sound 
to the lonely settler. All over New England they called 
it a lion, with about as much knowledge of natural history 
as Nick Bottom, who held " a lion is a most dreadful thing ; 
for there is not a more fearful wild-fowl than your lion 
living." Wood, in his " New England's Prospect," says, 
" concerning lions, I will not say that I ever saw any my- 
self, but some affirm that they have seen a lion at Cape 
Anne .... some likewise, being lost in the woods, 
have heard such terrible roarings, as have made them 
much aghast ; which must be devils or lions there being 
no other creatures which use to roar saving bears, which 
have not such a terrible kind of roaring." Sundry locali- 
ties were named after the beast. A Lion's Hollow west- 
ward of the road to Plain ville, and a Lion's Hole eastward 
of the road to Kensington were frequently mentioned in 
old deeds. A Lion's Hole near Dead Swamp is men- 
tioned in 1686, and one, hardly the same, in 1705 on the 
Great Plain. The animal was without much doubt a 



9 

catamount. If you have ever seen the bronze figure of 
this beast standing on its granite pedestal in front of the 
site of the old Catamount Tavern in Bennington, Ver- 
mont, "grinning towards New York," you will not 
wonder at its unpleasant reputation. 

Early in the history of this village, as in all new settle- 
ments, it became necessary for some of the farmers to 
engage in other industries essential to civilized life. The 
goodman could prepare wool and flax for the wheel of the 
goodwife, but not every one possessed a loom, or knew 
how to use it. Joseph Bird and his sons, Joseph, Samuel, 
and Thomas, living on Bird Hill, on the Hartford road, 
were aH weavers before 1700. Simon Wrothum, a man 
conspicuous for his want of sympathy with the religious 
views of his townsmen, was also a weaver. Sergeant 
Stephen Hart, son of Deacon Stephen, had " looms, 
sleys, reeds, and other weaving tools," valued at ^5-2S. 
Sergeant John Clark, who died in the Canada Expedition 
of 1 709, had a coverlet of John Root's weaving, valued at 
18 shillings. The latter was known as "John Root, 
weaver," as early as 1699. Samuel North, dying in 1682, 
left " A loom and tools belonging to it," valued at three 
pounds. Here, surely, were weavers enough to supply all 
reasonable requirements of the little village. Probably 
the goodwife of the settler fashioned the products of these 
many looms into substantial clothing, but, as early as 1697, 
Deacon Thomas Porter, son of the first Thomas, came to 
be known as " Thomas Porter, tailor." His house stood 
near the site of that of Judge E. H. Deming, and here the 
young men who desired something more stylish than 
home-made garments doubtless repaired. We regret our 
inability to describe the fashions of his shop. An inven- 
tory of the wardrobe of a respectable farmer of the day 
must suffice. Sergeant John Clark had four coats, one of 
kersey, one of serge, a cape-coat, lined, and an old coat. 



10 

Of waistcoats he had a blue and a serge. His breeches 
were severally of drugget, serge, and leather. He had a 
hat of castor beaver, two fringed muslin neckcloths, two 
pairs of gloves, and two speckled shirts. Further it is 
unnecessary to go. Five men, besides the minister, wore 
broadcloth,— John Judd, son of William ; Samuel Cowles, 
who, besides two broadcloth coats, valued at six pounds, 
had a damask vest and four pairs of silver buttons ; Capt. 
John Stanley, who had a straight broadcloth coat of a 
sad color; Samuel Gridley, who also carried a silver- 
headed cane, and his son, Samuel, who had two coats, 
each three times as valuable as his father's, and silver 
buttons and buckles to match. The tide of luxury so 
deeply deplored by Gov. Treadwell years afterward had 
already set in. Samuel Langdon, son of Deacon Langdon, 
removing to Northampton and carrying thither the luxu- 
rious habits of his native village, was with divers persons 
" presented by the grand jury to the court at Northamp- 
ton, March 26, 1676, for wearing of silk, and that in a 
flaunting manner, and others for long hair and other 
extravagances contrary to honest and sober order and 
demeanor, not becoming a wilderness state, at least the 
profession of Christianity and religion." Mr. Langdon 
made his peace with the court by paying the clerk's fee, 
2 shillings and 6 pence. 

Samuel Woodruff, son of Matthew the immigrant, was 
the village shoemaker, commonly known as " Samuel 
Woodruff, cordwainer." About 1700 he removed to 
Southington, and tradition calls him its first white inhab- 
itant. John Newell, son of Thomas the immigrant, was 
another shoemaker. He removed to Waterbury with those 
who went from this village, but .returned, and died un- 
married in 1696, Plis inventory shows: " vShoe leather, 
lasts, and shoemaker's gears," valued at 19 shillings, 9 
pence. Benjamin Judd, son of Deacon Thomas, dying in 



1 1 

1698, left " Leather and shoemaker's tools to the value of 
one pound and six shilling's." Johanna Smith, who was 
killed in the " Falls Fight " of May 19, 1676, was the vil- 
lage cooper, and, after him, John Stedman and Samuel 
Bronson. Daniel Merrills was a tanner, and Joseph Haw- 
ley had a tan-yard. Thomas Lee, son of the first John, 
was described in the deed of David Lee of Northampton, 
weaver, as " Thomas Lee his brother, mason and brick- 
layer of Farmington," in 1697. Joiners must have been 
important members of the community, but I know of no 
one distinctly classed as such. Thomas Thomson the 
immigrant, a brother of Samuel Thomson, stationer, of 
London, dying in 1655, left "Tools for a carpenter and 
other small implements," valued at 5 pounds, i shilling. 
Richard Bronson, in 1687, left a full set of carpenter's 
tools. Deacon John Langdon left a set in 1689. William 
Hooker, son of Rev. Samuel Hooker, left a " turning' 
lathe, with saws and other tools, for turning and joiner's 
work." He was a merchant, and these may have been a 
part of his goods. John Bronson and John Warner had 
each a pit saw, — useful tools before saw-mills could be 
built. 

The Gridleys were the blacksmiths of the village. 
Samuel, son of the first Thomas, lived near where now 
stands the house of the late Egbert Cowles, Esq., and his 
shop was in the highway, as was the custom. Dying in 
1 71 2, his son Thomas succeeded to his trade, and was 
known as "Thomas Gridley, smith," to distinguish him 
from other Thomas Gridleys. His house, given him by 
his father in 1704, was on Bird's Hill, on the north side 
of the road to Hartford. The tools inventoried " in ye 
smith's shop" of Samuel Gridley were pretty much what 
you would find in a country forge of to-day. Mr. Gridley 
was also a merchant, and the long inventory of his estate 
is interesting as showing the evolution of the early coun- 



12 



try shopkeeper. Silver coin was scarce. Capt. William 
Lewis had, by his inventory, two pounds and four shil- 
lings ; John Wadsworth, two pounds six shillings ; John 
Newell, three pieces of eight, that is, fifteen shillings, and 
John Clark a sum not separately appraised ; and if others 
had any, it was not specifically mentioned. Nathaniel 
Kellogg had wampum valued, in 1657, at two pounds. 
Everyone accepted in payment such goods and valuables 
as the debtor had to offer. Hence Mr. Gridley, as he per- 
ceived his goods increase, opened a shop for their sale. 
Of such wares he had accumulated 3 beaver skins, and 
the skins of 16 raccoons, 3 foxes, 5 wildcats, i bear, i deer, 
7 musquashes, and 2 minks. Of his own handiwork, 
besides other iron ware, he sold nails, not by the pound 
but by count. There were 2,300 four-penny nails, 2,350 
six-penny, i ,900 eight-penny, and 200 hob-nails. In addi- 
tion to the goods he made or got in payment for work, 
his business came, in time, to embrace anything the far- 
mer needed, from carts, harnesses, and scythes to jack- 
knives and catechisms. Here the ladies could procure 
calicoes, crapes, muslins, laces, ribbons, thimbles, thread, 
knitting-pins, combs, and fans, or could stock their pan- 
trys with all manner of shining pewter. Here, too, the 
hunter found powder, flints, and bullets. John Wads- 
worth, dying in 1689, son of the first William, besides a 
large farm, had a shop containing goods not specifically 
enumerated, but valued at 87 pounds. He had also a 
cold still, an alembic, and sundry gallipots. Perhaps he 
combined the business of a druggist with other industries. 
He was probably the wealthiest man of the village. He 
left a library valued at i^i7-i4S.-6d. His house stood a 
little south of where now lives Judge E. H. Deming. 
William Hooker, son of Rev. Samuel Hooker, lived on 
the west side of Main street, on the corner where the 
road turns off to the railroad station, and was also a shop- 



13 

keeper. His business, judging from the inventory of his 
goods, must have been largely in hardware, such as brass 
kettles, warming-pans, pewter of all sorts, including lo 
pewter tankards, 5 dozen pewter spoons, and 3^^ dozen 
ocomy (that is alchemy) spoons. Farming, however, was 
his principal occupation. Roger Hooker, another son of 
Rev. Samuel Hooker, was also a merchant, and, dying in 
1698, left as great a variety of goods as you will find in 
the country store of to-day, and some other things from a 
very valuable lot of bear skins, deer skins, and moose 
skins, down to fish-hooks and jewsharps. The jewsharp 
was the only instrument of music I find inventoried in a 
Farmington house, and was one of the three allowed in 
the Blue Laws fabricated by the Rev. Samuel Peters. 
The drum, I suppose, was town property, and was beaten 
by John Judd, drummer, at a regular salary. A little 
later, in 171 8, four other men were each paid 13 shillings 
4 pence for drumming. The three New England meth- 
ods of calling the worshipers to the meeting-house were 
by the conch shell, the drum, and the bell. We had at this 
period reached the second stage of development, — the 
drum. According to an old hymn, 

" New England Sabbath day 

Is heaven-like, still, and pure. 
When Israel walks the way 

Up to the temple's door. 
The time we tell 

When there to come 
By beat of drum 

Or sounding shell." 

Another industry, mostly speculative, absorbed much 
time and attention, — the search for valuable ores and the 
precious metals. In 165 1 the General Court authorized 
John Winthrop, afterwards the sixth Governor of Connect- 



14 

icut, to search for mines and minerals, and set up works 
for operating the mines when found. His success, espec- 
ially with the iron works at New Haven, was sufficient to 
encourage every land-owner here to believe untold wealth 
was just within reach. Deeds of land frequently appear 
upon our records reserving precious metals should such 
be discovered. The town committee, in 171 2, leased to 
William Partridge and Jonathan Belcher, for eight years, 

" all mines and minerals, iron mines only 

excepted, already found out and discovered and hereafter 
to be found and discovered." Two years later eight indi- 
viduals lease to New York merchants the right to dig for 
" oar of Lead or other sort of mettle whatsoever," for sixty 
years. The mineral mostly sought hereabouts was black 
lead. John Oldham, afterwards murdered by the Indians, 
traveling through Connecticut in 1633, brought back 
" some black lead ore, of which the Indians said there 
was a whole quarry." In 1657 the Tunxis Indians sold 
to William Lewis and Samuel Steele " the hill from 
whence John Standly and John Andrews brought the 
black lead, and all the land within eight miles of that 
hill on every side." The sale of this hill was confirmed 
by deed of Pethuzo and Toxcronnock in 17 14. This 
famous hill, with all its treasure, has disappeared from 
view as completely as the fabled island of Atlantis, often 
sought, never found. The Rev. R. M. Chipman, in his 
" History of Harwinton," is authority for the statement 
that sundry citizens of that town and vicinity, to the 
number of five hundred, headed by three venerable cler- 
gymen, on a day appointed, repaired to the woods sup- 
posed to contain the black lead, and, forming a long line, 
marched all day after the manner of beating the woods 
for game, to make sure of the discovery of the black lead 
by some of their number. Whether the story had some 
foundation, or was merely the joke of a minister on his 



15 

clerical brethren, does not appear, but the black lead is 
still undiscovered. 

One of the most necessary institutions in a new settle- 
ment is the mill, saw-mills to provide lumber for houses, 
and grist-mills to grind the wheat and corn. Sometime 
during the first ten years of the village, John Bronson 
set up a mill on the brook thereafter known as the Mill 
Brook, and subsequently as the Fulling Mill Brook, and 
which, running down the mountain, crosses Main vStreet 
just north of the house of the late Egbert Cowles, Esq. 
Before 1650 he had sold it to Deacon Stephen Hart, who 
described the premises as " one parcel on which a mill 
standeth with a swamp adjoining to it in which the mill 
water cometh and containeth all the land that the country 
gave to John Bronson there, except the house lot." It was 
probably a saw-mill. In a grant of 1687 we hear of the 
Upper Saw-Mill Pond. Deacon Stephen Hart gave the 
mill in his lifetime to his three sons, John, Stephen, and 
Thomas. In 171 2 the town "granted unto John Bronson 
liberty to build a fulling mill upon the brook that cometh 
down the mountain by Jonathan Smith's, and also the im- 
provement of so much land as is necessary to set a mill 
upon, and for damming in any place between Jonathan 
vSmith's lot and John Hart's, provided he do not damnify 
the cart way." In 1778 the town gave Solomon Cowles, 
Thomas Cowles, Isaac Bidwell, Amos Cowles, and 
Phinehas Cowles " liberty to erect one or more grist mills 
on the brook called the Fulling Mill Brook." Their peti- 
tion sets forth " that although there is one grist mill now 
in said society, yet it does not at all times well accom- 
modate the people with grinding, for in certain seasons 
of the year said mill is rendered entirely useless by 
reason of floods, ice, etc., whereby the people are obliged 
to carry their corn five or six miles to get it ground." 
The inference is that the first mill on the brook was a 



i6 

saw-mill built before 1650, the second a fulling mill built 
in 1712, and that the first grist-mill was built on the river 
where a mill has been sustained to the present day. I 
find an early mention of it in the year 1701, which con- 
tains several points of interest. In that year Wenemo, 
an Indian, stole " a good fire-lock gun " from John Bates 
of Haddam, and another Indian, Nannouch, to save his 
friend from the very serious consequences, mortgaged to 
said Bates " two acres of land situated in Farmington 
meadow near the corn mill of Capt. Thomas Hart lying 
in the Indian Neck," and Samuel Hooker and Stephen 
Root testify " that we saw the Indian Nannouch deliver 
two acres of land commonly called this Indian's land 
afore mentioned to Mr. John Bates of Haddam by turf 
and twig." This ancient form of conveyance by the 
actual delivery of a piece of the soil and of the timber 
growing thereon, was doubtless more intelligible to the 
Indian mind than the drawing a picture of his totem at 
the bottom of a piece of paper inscribed with " Know all 
men by these presents," and other ponderous formulas. 

Without going more at length into the industries of 
the men of that day, it is time we gave some attention to 
the equally laborious occupations of their wives and 
daughters. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the subject 
is to take you to the house of a well-to-do farmer and in- 
spect the housekeeping and all the surroundings of its in- 
mates. We will call on the 30th of May, 171 2, at the 
house of Samuel Gridley, which, as I have already men- 
tioned, stood near the site of the house of the late Egbert 
Cowles, Esq. The date is a little later than I could wish, 
but our knowledge of the house is better than that of any 
other. We will examine, not what might have been seen 
in such a house at that time, but what the appraisers, John 
Wadsworth, John Porter, and Isaac Cowles, found there 
that day, and made solemn oath that they found. The 



17 

female inmates of the house we are to inspect were the 
widow Mary and her three daughters, Sarah, a girl of 
eighteen who afterward married Nathaniel Cowles, Mary, 
aged four, who died unmarried, and Jerusha, a babe of 
four months who afterwards married Nehemiah Lewis. 
We will enter by the porch which opens into the hall, on 
either side of which are the parlor and kitchen, and back 
of all the leanto. Over each room except the leanto is a 
chamber, and over all the garret. In the porch we find 
much which had reference to out-of-door life, and which 
the modern housewife would certainly have requested 
Mr. Gridley to bestow elsewhere, — harnesses, saddles, 
the pillion, and pillion cloth on which the goodwife rode 
behind her husband to church or elsewhere, a chest and 
tools, a cart rope, a steel trap, and sundry other things. 
Entering the hall we find the furniture to consist of a 
wainscot chest, a table, a great chair, four lesser ones, 
three cushions and a pillow. Here are stored the arms 
which every man must have ready for instant use, his 
gun, pike, bayonet, rapier, back sword, and cutlass. I 
think there must have been a fireplace in the room, for 
we find two heaters, two smoothing irons, a spit, a pair of 
bellows, two trammels, and their hooks. Here are pots 
and kettles, large and small, of brass and iron. There is 
a goodly display of shining pewter, tankards, plates, 
basins, beakers, porringers, cups with handles, barrel 
cups, pewter measures of all sizes, and pewter bottles. 
Here is much wooden ware, earthen ware, and even 
china ware, and here the family supply of medicines, 
Matthew's pills, blistering salve, and sundry drugs whose 
names I must leave for the professional practitioner to 
transcribe. Here are the goodman's money scales and 
weights, his spectacles, and his library, a collection of 
books which would have been called good Sunday read- 
ing fifty years ago. They are an old Bible, a psalm book, 
3 



i8 

and other books entitled " KOMETOFPA^IA, Or a Discourse 
Concerning Comets ; wherein the Nature of Blazing 
Stars is Enquired into : With an Historical Account of 
all the Comets which have appeared from the Beginning 
of the World unto this present Year, 1683, ... By 
Increase Mather." "Time and the End of Time," being 
two discourses by Rev. John Fox of Woburn, Mass., 1701. 
" Zion in Distress ; or the Groans of the Protestant 
Church ;" printed in 1683 for Samuel Phillips. "Spirit- 
ual Almanack," "The Unpardonable Sin," "Divine 
Providence Opened," " Man's chief End to Glorifie God, 
or Some Brief Sermon — Notes on i Cor. 10. 31. — By the 
Reverend Mr. John Bailey, Sometime Preacher and 
Prisoner of Christ at Limerick in Ireland, and now Pastor 
to the Church of Christ in Watertown in New-England." 
1689, " Commentary on Faith," " How to Walk with God," 
" The Wonders of the Invisible World," by Rev. Cotton 
Mather, a very famous book on witchcraft in Salem and 
elsewhere, and on the ordinary devices of the devil. It 
was answered by Robert Calef's " More Wonders of the 
Invisible World," which was burned by order of Dr. In- 
crease Mather, President of Harvard College, in the col- 
lege yard. We find also, " Some Account of the Life of 
Henry Gearing," by J. Shower, "A Warning to prepare for 
Death," a New Testament, "A Book on Numbers," 
whether an arithmetic or a commentary on one of the 
books of the Pentateuch does not appear, " a law book, 
and several pieces of books." The latter entry seems to 
show that the library was much read, and even the frag- 
ments of books were carefully preserved. From the hall 
we pass to the kitchen, where we find in the big fireplace 
a pair of cast-iron fire dogs weighing sixty-four pounds, 
two pairs of tongs, a peel, two trammels and a jack. The 
furniture seems scanty, a table, a chest, a truckle bedstead, 
a great chair and two small ones. Sundry baskets, keel- 



19 

ers, tubs, pails, and kettles stand around. The main 
features of the kitchen, however, are the loom, the great 
wheel, two linen wheels, a hand reel, and the great piles 
of linen sheets, pillow bears, table-cloths, towels, and 
napkins, largely no doubt the production of the loom and 
wheels, and large supplies of yarn, tow, and flax for 
further manufacture. Spinning and storing up vast sup- 
plies of spotless linen against their wedding day, were the 
great accomplishments of the young maiden. We read 
of spinning matches which lasted from early dawn to 
nine o'clock at night, the contestants being supplied with 
food by other hands while they worked, and finally with 
bloody fingers sinking from sheer exhaustion. Spinning 
bees have continued until within a few years in some 
rural districts. I remember as late as the fall of 1859, 
passing, on a by-road near Farmington, Maine, just at 
sunset, a merry procession of young women with their 
great wheels carried by young men, on their way to a 
contest with the spinners of the next village. Let us now 
inspect the parlor, then as since the crowning glory of 
the house. We find a bedstead with a feather bed and 
a great supply of blankets and coverlids, and, hanging 
over all, a set of calico curtains with a calico vallance to 
match. A warming-pan, a most useful article in a cold 
room, completes the sleeping equipment. Other furniture 
is three chests, a trunk, a round table, a great chair, three 
little ditto, a joint stool, and five cushions. There is also 
a cupboard and a carpet for said cupboard. A carpet was 
not a floor cloth but a covering to furniture often showily 
embroidered by its owner as a specimen of her skill. 
Probably a green rug, valued at five shillings, was for the 
floor. Here are Mr. Gridley's pair of pistols and holster. 
There now remains down stairs only the leanto, which 
will not detain us long, though it probably detained Mrs. 
Gridley many a weary hour, for here are the cheese-press, 



20 

and churn, the butter tubs, and all the machinery of the 
dairy, and, last of all, an hour-glass with which the various 
mysteries of the place were timed. This hour-glass is 
the only instrument for the measurement of time I find, 
except the watch and clock of Rev. Samuel Hooker. The 
sun dial answered very well when the sun shone, and a 
blast on a conch shell when the good wife decreed it to 
be dinner time, called the village home at noon. 

If you please we will now walk up stairs. In the par- 
lor chamber we find a bed with a silk grass pillow and 
two leather pillows weighing ten pounds, and a goodly 
supply of blankets, coverlids, curtains, etc. There are a 
number of chests and boxes and twenty-one pounds of 
yarn, and there was room left somewhere for Mr. Gridley 
to store 50 bushels of wheat and 80 of rye, a practice 
which the tidy housekeeper of to-day might not approve 
in her best chamber. It was, however, the custom to store 
grain in the house where it would be under the protec- 
tion of the household cat, as we see illustrated in the 
picture books of to-day. 

"This is the cat 
That killed the rat 
That ate the malt 
That lay in the house that Jack built." 

In the hall chamber we find a feather bed and belong- 
ings and a great store of wheat, barley, corn, and peas 
in baskets, bags, and barrels. The porch chamber is 
given up to malt, oats, and peas. In the garret are 10 
bushels of rye and 100 of Indian corn. If you care to in- 
spect the cellar you will find it pretty well filled with bar- 
rels of pork, beer, soap, hops, oatmeal, and other family 
stores. Here we must take leave of Mrs. Gridley and her 
hou.sehold treasures, pleased no doubt that our lot has 
fallen two centuries later, and that seven generations of 
men have come and' gone and left us the better for their 
hardy industries and honest lives. 



The Library of a Farmington Village Blacksmith 

A. D. 1712 



AN ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual fll^eeting 

OF 

The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

September 12, ipoo 



By JULIUS GAY 



HARTFORD PRESS 

The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

1900 



The Library of a Farmington Village Blacksmith 

A. D. 1712 



AN ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hntuial fIDcetiiuj 

OF 

The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 

September 12, igoo 



By JULIUS GAY 



HARTFORD PRESS 

The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

I 900 



II 



ADDRESS. 



Ladies and Gentlemen of the Village Library Company of 
Farmington : 

It has been the custom of the managers of some neighbor- 
ing libraries to celebrate the passing of each decade of their 
history. Let us also to-night briefly consider how it has fared 
with us. Ten years ago the old library, dating from the close 
of the Revolution, had ceased its usefulness for want of suitable 
accommodations. Another, known as the Tunxis, the result 
of enthusiastic and well-directed individual enterprise, had 
taken its place, and it in turn began to find its usefulness limited 
by its contracted habitation. Again, the village library, heir 
of many predecessors, has outgrown its quarters, and we hope 
that somehow in the march of public improvements a larger 
and more convenient building, and one separate from all other 
public uses, may in good time be provided for it. 

Ten years ago this library was opened to the public by a 
goodly company ; to-night we are again met, but not all. First 
among the speakers of that evening to pass over to the majority 
was Professor Nathan P. Seymour, who came among us every 
spring with the coming of the birds. To the school he dis- 
coursed on Grecian literature, and by us all his familiar con- 
versation was greatly enjoyed, rich with stores of the most 
genial wisdom. Next passed away President Porter, whose 
love for his native village was strong and enduring. He was 
its earliest and best historian, his high position reflecting honor 
on the home of his youth and of his long Hue of ancestors. 
Next to leave us was the Rev. Thomas K. Fessenden, active 
in all good words and works. Then came Mr. Edward Nor- 



ton, one of the fouiulcrs of the Hlji-ary and useful with advice 
and assistance as an of^cer of the company. An active helper 
in all worthy enterprises, and of great learning in his special 
department of thought and research, but so modest that few 
knew of his attainments. Next passed away the beloved 
minister. Rev. Edward A. Smith, helpful in all good things, 
judicious in no ordinary degree, loved by all, and the personal 
friend of many. These were all graduates of Yale and an honor 
to any station to which their lot called them. Last of all the 
company of that evening, passed away from the scene of her 
life-long work, Miss Sarah Porter, the eulogies upon whom 
from all parts of the world need no repetition here. Her life is 
known of all men. On that evening a paper was read on the 
former public libraries of the village. To-night I propose to 
speak of the private library of a Farmington village blacksmith 
in 17 1 2, if so small a collection of books can be called a library. 
Considering the serious character of Puritan literature, we 
approach the subject very much as Burns did his Epistle to a 
young friend, feeling 

" Perhaps, it may turn out a sang, 
Perhaps, turn out a sermon." 

There is certainly an opportunity for something more solemn 
than any sermon you have heard of late years. We will, how- 
ever, endeavor to take as cheerful a view of the subject as it 
admits. I think it may be interesting for us all to know, not 
merely what books might have been read in New England in 
1712, l)ut what was actually the daily intellectual food of the 
common people in this very community. 

Samuol Ciridley, son of Thomas Gridley the immigrant, 
lived and had his blacksmith shop near the site of the house of 
the late Egbert Cowles, Esq., now known as the Lodge. He 
repeatedly held the oflfice of townsman or selectman, and that 
of constable. T do not know that his collection of books sur- 
passed that of his neighbors, but he had the rare good fortune 



5 

of having- John Wadsworth write the inventory of his estate. 
He, instead of valuing- the books in a lump, as was usually the 
custom then as now, gave us the title of each volume. First 
in order came an " Old great Riblc," valued at three shillings. 
The precise edition we do not know. I have seen the great 
Bible of only two of the first settlers of this town, that of Newell 
and of Thomson, and for many reasons believe Mr. Gridley's 
to have been of the same kind, namely the London Bible of 
1598 or of about that date, commonly known to collectors as 
the " Breeches Bible," from its peculiar rendering of a certain 
passage in Genesis. It had maps showing the precise location 
of the Garden of Eden and many curious cuts. It contained 
also Sternhold and Hopkins' Book of Psalms, " with apt notes 
to sing them withall." I do not suppose we should enjoy the 
constant use of this music, but I should be greatly pleased 
for once to hear a hundred strong voices singing in unison, 
with all the fervor of their souls, the music set, for instance, 
to the 68th Psalm. " Let God arise and then his foe's will turn 
themselves to flight." Such were the tunes which carried the 
Ironsides of Cromwell victorious over many a bloody field. 
Next on the list appears one Psalm Book, 18 pence. We can- 
not be sure which one of the three versions of the Psalms in 
common use w-as meant. These were Ainsworth's " Book of 
Psalms Englished both in Prose and Metre," that is, with the 
prose and meter side by side, so that the worshiper might see 
how far he was straying from the Bible ; Sternhold and Hop- 
kins' " Whole Booke of Psalms." and the famous Bay Psalm 
Book, the first book printed in New England, a copy of which 
was bought by Cornelius Vanderbilt at the Brinley sale in 1879 
for twelve hundred dollars. 

Next we find KOMETOrPAdilA, Or a Discourse Concerning 
Comets ; wherein the Nature of Blazing Stars is Enquired into : 
With an Historical Account of all the Comets which have ap- 
peared from the Beginning of the World unto this present Year. 
. . , By Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church at Boston 



in New Enn^land. . . . And sold by J- Browning- at the 
corner of the Prison Lane next the Town House. 1683. This 
was the only scientific book in Mr. Gridley's collection, but it 
was a scientific book written by a Puritan divine with a theo- 
logical intent. This is set forth by the Rev. John Sherman in 
his introduction to the book. " Comets," he says, " are 
ordinarily the forerunners of disastrous calamities, mischiefs, 
and miseries, hastening to follow and fall down on the heads 
of senseless and secure sinners. . . . If it be said that some 
of these peri-wigged heralds have appeared on the etherial 
stage upon a more benign account, it may be rationally replied, 
that the number of such is very small. . . . When the 
hand of PIcaven is seen writing Mene, Mene, Tekel, etc., it 
may become the highest of mortals to tremble." The author 
begins l\v expressing his regret that he could not at this dis- 
tance from Europe, in this American wilderness, suddenly ob- 
tain the long list of learned works he proceeds to enumerate. 
The opinions of ancient philosophers from Aristotle down as 
to the nature of comets, he combats. " The Peripatetic 
School," he says, " has fancied them to be meteors generated 
out of the bowels of the Earth, exhaled and extolled by the 
Sun to the supreme region of the air and there set on fire." 
PTe contends that comets are not placed in the first heaven or 
air, but far above it in the second or starry heaven. After 
vanquishing the ancients, he enters on his main task, that of 
setting down the dates of the appearance of great ntmibers of 
comets from the beginning of the world to his own day. and, 
along side of them, the duly corresponding dates of all the dire 
disasters which history has recorded. We will consider a few 
of these remarkable coincidences. " In the year after the 
creation. 1656. there was seen a formidable blazing star, which 
all tile old world beheld for the space of nine and twenty days. 
. . . Inmiediately upon its appearing Methuselah died. . 
. . The next year the flood came, wherein all men. women, 
and children throughout the earth (excepting eight persons) 



perished." " Anno Mundi 1744 there appeared a comet in 
the sign of Capricorn, which in the space of sixty-five days 
passed through three of the celestial signs. The building of 
Babel, confusion of languages, and subsequent dispersion of 
mankind throughout the world have been noted as events 
attending that comet. . . . A.M. 2118 a comet was ob- 
served in the sign of Aries . . . followed by the famine . 
. . which caused Abraham to remove into Egypt." He 
gives the dates and the descriptions, too lengthy for our pur- 
pose, of the comets which heralded one after another the Trojan 
War, the War of the Amazons, the destruction of the Philis- 
tines at the death of Samson, Haman's plot to massacre the 
Jews, the Peloponnesian War, the burning of the temple of 
Ephesus, the burning of Rome by Nero, the persecution under 
Diocletian, and the composing of his diabolical religion by 
Mahomet. As he proceeds to the more precise dates of 
modern times, the misfit between the comets and the disasters 
became more apparent, until he was forced to exclaim, " But 
there must needs be some mistake in that relation, and there- 
fore I intermit it and proceed unto." And he proceeds accord- 
ingly. The Star of Bethlehem could not very well be called a 
herald of evil, so he concludes that it was not a comet, but is 
ready to believe that the darkness of the crucifixion was caused 
by a comet interposing itself between the sun and the earth. 

The next book enumerated was " Time and the End of 
Time," by John Fox. Printed in Boston in 1701. This is 
worthy of a moment's consideration as a good specimen of 
the form of sermons two centuries ago. The writer divides 
his subject into five heads: istly. When is time to be re- 
deemed ; 2dly, What time must be redeemed ; 3dly, How time 
must be redeemed ; 4thly, Why time must be redeemed ; and 
5thly, Motives and Directions to help you. Each of the five 
heads has from five to seven subdivisions, each of which sub- 
divisions has its application, and each application has six heads 
called uses, and each use from four to ten motives. I do not 



8 

propose to weary you with any rehearsal of tlie subject matter 
of the book, for T am too forcibly impressed by the arguments 
of Mr. Fox against wasting time to be guilty of any such folly. 
In general we gather that time is most wisely spent in " read- 
ing the Word' catchising and prayer," and that it is most de- 
plorably wasted in story-telling, inquiring after news, card- 
playing, dicing, dancing, stage plays, bear and bull baiting, 
hunting, hawking, and in reading romantic tales. Especially 
was he displeased at the waste of precious time by a certain 
gentlewoman who invited a godly minister to dinner and kept 
him waitiner from ten of the clock till one, all of which time 
she was dressing. 

Next we come upon " Sion in Distress, or the Groans of 
the Protestant Church," printed in Boston, 1683. This is now 
one of the extremely rare books of Mr. Gridley's collection, 
though common enough in his day. The inventory of a Boston 
bookseller in 1700 showed six copies on his shelves. It is the 
third edition of what the writer calls " a revived poem with such 
additions and enlargements as makes it very different from 
the first impression." That is, he dares to print more fully 
here than in England, what the Popish or Titus Oates Plot of 
1678 had suggested to his heated imagination. He says, " We 
have now a plain prospect (by the gracious discoveries of Provi- 
dence) of those horrid and execrable plots, which the restless 
adversary has contrived against the peace and very being of 
Sion, and which were much in the dark when my Muse first 
bewailed its condition." As for the style of his poetry, he in- 
forms us that " In a subject of grief a quaint and ornamental 
method is not to be expected, for an abrupt and sobbing de- 
livery is more natural in the delineation of sorrow than a 
studied, well-poised and artificial harangue." He accordingly 
opens his poem with the lines, 

" What dismal vapour (in so black a form) 
Is this, that seems to harbinger a storm? " 



The poem is a discourse between Sion's Friend, Sion, Sion's 
Children. Babylon, Jehovah, Beelzebub, and Justice, which 
soon takes the form of a judicial trial, and the Waldenses, Al- 
bigenses, and Protestants of Piedmont, Savoy, Bohemia, and 
other lands are called in as witnesses. You will doubtless re- 
member in tliis connection the nobler lines of Milton's sonnet, 

" Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones 
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold: " 

Finally the Judge, descending from lofty rhyme to vigorous 
prose, indicts Rome as the Man of Sin, and also under the 
various titles usually chosen for her from the Book of Revela- 
tion, and finally convicts her of the peculiar sins and abomina- 
tions most popular at the court of Charles the Second. The 
next book is entitled "Spiritual Almanac," a title so abbreviated 
that we cannot discover the book with certainty. On the last 
page of an almanac for the previous year, 171 1, is the advertise- 
ment of a book which has the characteristics of what might be 
looked for in a spiritual almanac. It is a chronological account 
of the labors of the farm, beginning in the early spring and 
going on through the year, with religious observations thereon. 
It is entitled " Husbandry Spiritualized : Or the Heavenly Use 
of Earthly Things. By John Flavel, late minister of the Gos- 
pel." The husbandry is decidedly spiritualized, there being 
the least possible amount of husbandry that would suffice for 
a text to a long homily. Nevertheless the book is so superior 
to much of the literature of the day that I should be tempted 
to say something more about it if I could be sure that it was the 
very Spiritual Almanac we are seeking. That Mr. Gridley 
had an almanac of some sort, spiritual or otherwise, there can 
be no doubt. Every man, whatever other profession he might 
have, whether mechanic, or lawyer, or doctor, or minister even, 
was a farmer, and farming was in a way much more scientific 
than now. There was a precise time for every labor of the 
farm, and the almanac, with its information about the positions 



i6 • 

of the sun and moon and the signs of the zodiac and its list of 
saints' days was indispensable. In the book of Ecclesiastes they 
read : " To everything there is a season, and a time to every pur- 
pose under the heaven. . . . A time to plant and a time 
to phuk up that which is planted." What these times were 
they read in old Tusser's Five Hundred Points of Good 
Husbandry and in the other old English worthies who laid 
down the time for everything. Cut your hair when the moon 
is in Leo if you would have it grow like the lion's mane, or in 
Aries that it may curl like a ram's horn. The labors of the 
farm are duly set down as follows : 

l^pon St. David's day put oats and barley in the 

clay. 
ITpon St. Vitus' day sow cabbages. 
On St. Benedict's day sow oats and barley. 
On St. Philip's and St. James" day sow peas and 

lentils. 
On St. Urban's day sow tlax and hemp. 
On St. Barnabas' day put the scythe to the grass. 
Cut your thistles before St. John's, or 

you will have two instead of one. 
On St. Killian's day sow vetches and rape. 
( )n St. Margaret's day put sickle to the corn. 
C)n St. Ciles" day sow corn. 
On St. Lambert's day put lucat in pickle. 
On St. Matthew's day shut up the bees. 
( )n St. ( )swakrs day roast geese. 
C)n St. Luke's day kill your pigs and bung up 

your barrels. 
Nov. II. On St. Martin's day make sausages. 

And the list ends with the very comfortable injunction, hardly 
of Puritan origin. Drink wine all the year round, and then 
you will be ready to die at any time. 



March 


I 


.Marcli 


12 


March 


21 


May 


I 


May 


25- 


June 


II 


June 


24. 


July 


8. 


July 


13- 


Sept. 


I 


Sept. 


f? 


Sept. 


21 


Oct. 


•5 


Oct. 


18 



1 1 

The next title is " The Unpardonable Sin." In the cata- 
logues of the many thousand sermons which came from the 
presses of London and Boston before 1712 it is amazing that 
not one on this favorite subject of speculation can be found. If 
any are curious about the efTect of this weird subject on the 
early New England mind, they can find a vivid picture of it in 
Nathaniel Hawthorne's story of Ethan Brand, who in early life 
wandered away from his native village in quest of the un- 
pardonable sin, and returned in old age, boasting that he had 
found the object of his search. 

The next book is " The Doctrine of Divine Providence 
opened and Applied,'' by Increase Mather, Teacher of a church 
in Boston in New England. Printed by Richard Pierce for 
Joseph Brunning, and are to be sold at his shop at the corner 
of Prison-Lane next the Exchange. 1684. The l)ook opens 
with the well-known story of the angel who justified the ways- 
of-God-to-man to a doubting hermit by stealing a cup from 
one kind host who entertained them, drowning the servant of 
another, and killing the child of a third. All three seeming 
crimes the angel satisfactorily explained, and with this intro- 
duction Mather goes on to unfold to his readers things hard to 
be understood, — the Old Testament stories of the bloody ex- 
termination of the heathen by the word of the Lord, the de- 
struction of Saul for his pity towards the wretches he was told 
to slay, and the removal of the American Indians by the plague 
to make room for the Pilgrim Fathers. All these cases he ex- 
plains to the honor and glory of the Almighty. Next on the 
inventory we meet with " Man's chief End to Glorifie God, or 
Some Brief Sermon Notes. . . . By the Reverend Mr. 
John Bailey, Sometime Preacher and Prisoner of Christ at 
Limerick in Ireland, and now Pastor to the Church of Christ in 
Watertown in New England." It was a farewell sermon to 
his flock in which he speaks of the power which " thrust me 
from poor Limerick."' and of the time " when I was in prison 
and my public liberty gone." It is a long lament, more inter- 



12 

(-■stinjj^ U) his dear frii'iuls than it can possibly be to us. The 
next treasure noted in tlie H1)rary was a Commentary on I'ailh, 
1)nt 1 find so many books to which this abbreviated title would 
be appropriate that we will pass on to the next, which is " How 
to walk with God, or Early Piety exemplified in the Life and 
Death of Mr. Nathaniel Mather, who having become at the 
age of nineteen an instance of more than common Learning 
and ^"irtue, changed Earth for Heaven, Oct. i6, 1688." 
Whereto are added ... A Walk with God." Samuel 
Mather, in the opening address to the Reader, writes " am his 
younger brother and son of Increase Mather, the well-known 
teacher of a church in Boston and rector of Harvard College in 
New England." The youthful subject of this memoir lived be- 
fore the days of athletic exercises for students, spent his days 
and the larger part of his nights over his books, entered col- 
lege at the age of twelve, and, before many months, " had 
accurately gone over all tlie Old Testament in Llebrcw, as 
well as the New in Greek, besides going through all the 
Liberal Sciences." His biographer says, " While he thus de- 
voured books, it came to pass that books devoured him. His 
weak body would not bear the toils and hours, which he used 
himself unto." The extracts from his diary are a record of 
pious introspection in which he worked himself u]) to the usual 
test of piety, that he was willing to be eternally damned if God 
so decreed. As for the accompanying discourse, " The Walk of 
Holy and Happy Men," we have not time this evening for an 
extended walk with the Mathers, though we need not fear 
being wearied with any commonplace conversation by the 
way, for they had always something fresh to talk of and a 
vigorous way of saying it. Books like this, describing saints 
who were good, but rarely anything else, are not much in 
vogue at present. Eorty years ago there \vere a nunil)er in 
our vSunday-school library which had been handed down from 
generation to generation because they were in such superb 
condition, and thev were in this condition because no one read 



13 

them. Famous books they had been in their day, — The 
Dairyman's Daughter, The Young Cottager, and others. 
Thackeray continually alludes to such under the title of his 
supposed tract, " The Washerwoman of Finchley Common." 
You remember how Becky Sharp thanks Lady Southdown 
for that precious work " \\hich she had read with the greatest 
profit," and asked about its gifted author. A youthful saint, or 
prig, if you choose so to call him, may be an infinitely more 
useful member of the community than a brute, but most 
readers now prefer an account of the brute. 

The next book on the list was considered by the appraisers 
to have the highest commercial value of any, and was inven- 
toried at five shillings and four pence. It was certainly the 
most famous book of that time. " The Wonders of the In- 
visible World. . . . Published by the special command of 
his Excellency the Governour of the Massachusetts Bay in New 
England." This book was written in October, 1692, by the 
Rev. Cotton Mather at the request of Gov. Sir William Phipps 
in explanation and justification of the witchcraft trials at Salem. 
Up to the 22d of September nineteen persons had been hanged 
and one pressed to death for refusing to plead. The jails of 
Salem and the surrounding towns were full of the accused, 
and complaints against the highest persons in the land were 
beginning to be made. In this book Cotton Mather repeats 
the great need of caution as to the character of evidence which 
the ministers of Boston had already urged in their return of 
June 15th, a due regard to which might have saved all the dis- 
graceful tragedies wdiich followed. Nevertheless it did not 
occur to Mather, or indeed to any believer in the Word of God 
before the advent of the higher criticism, that there could be 
any doubt of the existence of witchcraft. His first proposition 
is, " That there is a Devil, is a thing doubted by none but such 
as are under the influence of the Devil. For any to deny the 
being of a Devil must be from an ignorance or profaneness 
worse than diabolical." In explanation of the sudden inroad 



H 

oi witchcraft, he says. " The New Englandcrs are a people of 
God settled in those which were once the Devil's territories; 
and it may easily be supposed that the Devil was exceedinj^ly 
disturbed when he perceived such a pctiple here accomplishing 
the promise made of old. . . . An army of Devils is 
horribly broke in upon the place which is the center and, after 
a sort, the first born of our English settlements ; and the houses 
of the good people there are filled with the doleful shrieks of 
their children and servants tormented by invisible hands, with 
tortures altogether preternatural." He quotes scriptural au- 
thority that the number of evil spirits let loose on a single suf- 
ferer is a legion, and informs us " that a legion consisted of 
twelve thousand five hundred people." To prove the existence 
and terrible power of witchcraft, and to justify the recent ex- 
treme measures for its destruction, he cites numerous instances 
from all times and lands and concludes with that of Ann Cole 
of Hartford, the famous " She runs to her rock " case. The 
picture is a dreary and monotonous one. A single story like 
that of Goodman lirown dressed up with all the marvelous 
skill of Hawthorne is attractive reading, but this long list of 
endless deviltries, repeated over and over again with the same 
ever recurring incidents, wearies one. They were copied by 
the wretched children concerned in the delusion, from well- 
known English cases, without the invention of any new 
machinery to relieve the monotony. We read of writing in 
the devil's book with one's own blood, which the devil tells 
Faust is a very ]:)eculiar fluid, of crooked ])ins as an article of 
diet, of toads and all manner of re])tiles which when thrust in 
the fire explode and reveal themselves in their true form, some 
l)adly signed old beldame, of private marks left by devils on 
the ])ersons of their victims that they may know their own. 
and oi all the villainous machinery of witchcraft, never rising 
to the level of the Walpurgis Night in h^aust, l)ut more sug- 
gestive of a college freshman society initiation of forty years 
ago. One of the commissioners on his journey to Salem ad- 



vised whipping the devil out of the afflicted, a procedure which 
would probably have ended Salem witchcraft then and there. 
There is, however, a growing belief among the investigators 
of the unknown if not the unknowable, that the fraud prac- 
ticed by a few children does not adequately explain the mystery, 
and the English Society for Psychical Research in its attempt 
at a scientific proof of a future life is accumulating a new col- 
lection of the Wonders of the Invisible World. In harmony 
with this line of research comes a hypothesis thrown out by 
the latest biographer of Cotton Mather. Briefly stated, his 
notion is, that before man was evolved from the lower forms 
of animal life, he was possessed of more than the five senses. 
These have descended to other animals as instincts, and vestiges 
of them may still appear under abnormal conditions in man, 
and, surviving from an age void of the normal sense, suggest the 
delusions which form the stock in trade of the necromancer, 
the witch, and the medium. However this may be, it is fair to 
the memory of the men of Salem to quote the language of one 
of the latest and most thorough students of the delusion, Mr. 
William Frederick Poole. He says : " No nation, no age, no 
form of religion or irreligion, may claim an immunity from 
this superstition. The Reformers were as zealous in the matter 
as the Catholics. It is estimated that during the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries two hundred thousand persons were exe- 
cuted, mostly burned, in Europe, Germany furnishing one- 
half the victims, and England thirty thousand. . . . The 
Familiar Letters of James Howell, who, after the restoration of 
Charles II, was Historiographer Ro3^al, gives a frightful picture 
of the extent of the delusion in England. Under date of Feb- 
ruary 3, 1646, he writes, ' We have multitudes of witches 
among us ; for in Essex and Suffolk there were above two hun- 
dred indicted within these two years, and above the one-half 
of them executed. I speak it with horror. God guard us from 
the Devil.' " 

The next book on the list is entitled " Some account of the 



i6 

Holy Life and Death of Mr. Henry Gearing, late citizen of 
London ; Who departed this life January 4th, 1693-4, Aged 
61. . . . By John Shower. Boston, 1705." A book so 
popular that another edition was called for and issued in 1720. 
Mr. Gearing seems to have been one of the excellent persons 
classed by Burns as the " unco guid. or the rigidly righteous." 
He was the son of a mercer in Lechlade in Gloucestershire " of 
extraordinary prudence and piety," and his relatives are enum- 
erated with much genealogical completeness. There is the 
usual diary in which the subject enters his daily communings 
with his soul, but whether for his own profit, or for that of pos- 
terity or lest the recording angel should forget, is left to con- 
jecture. The book is dedicated to the widow and children by 
their afflicted friend and servant in the Gospel John Shower, 
who tells them " An ordinary Hell will not be punishment 
enough for the children of such parents if you miscarry, and 
fall short of Heaven." 

The title of the next book sufficiently indicates its character, 
the great number read, and one of the curious customs of the 
times. It is named " The Great Concern ; or, A serious warning 
to a timely and thorough preparation for death, with helps and 
directions in order thereto. By Edward Pearse. . . . Rec- 
ommended as proper to be given at funerals. The twenty- 
second edition. Boston in New England. . . . 171 1." 
Eleven chapters and a last letter. 118 pages. The custom of 
giving books at funerals as a reminder of the deceased, was 
much like that also in vogue of distributing funeral rings duly 
inscribed, and was so common that Judge Sewall used to ex- 
tend the custom also to weddings and records in his diary gifts 
of elegantly bound psalm books to the happy pair, accompany- 
ing his gifts with much excellent advice. 

The next book Avas a copy of the New Testament, and this 
was followed by " A book on Numbers." There were two 
commentaries on this book of the Pentateuch in common use 
at that time, but which was the fp.vorite of Mr. Gridlev is not 



17 

very important for us to know. Next comes a Law Book. 
This was without doubt one of the copies of the " Whole body 
of laws now in force in the colony," which the General Court 
at its May Session of the previous year ordered printed and 
distributed by the towns to the several inhabitants, as they 
shall see cause. With the exception of an entry of 18 pence 
as the value of several books and pieces of books not named, 
one more book closes the list. This was a catechism valued 
at 4 pence, probably the one entitled "A short Catechism drawn 
out of the Word of God by Sanmel Stone, Minister of the Word 
at Hartford on Connecticut. Boston in New England. 
Printed by Samuel Green, for John Wadsworth of Farming- 
ton. 1684." It must have been written more than twenty 
years previously, for Mr. Stone died in 1663. The catechism 
in previous use can be found on our records, and one of our 
pastors informs us that it was ascribed to Rev. Thomas Hooker, 
but does not give his authority. Why Deacon Wadsworth so 
nnich preferred this compilation as to be at the expense of 
l^ublishing it, is a matter of conjecture. If a printed book was 
to be preferred to one in manuscript, the Westminster Shorter 
Catechism printed in Boston in 1691 might have sufficed, but 
the worthy men of that day were very precise about their doc- 
trines. Personal friendship for Mr. Stone can hardly account 
for the preference. Some of his prominent antagonists in the 
great quarrel in Hartford had removed to Hadley four years 
before his death, and came thence to this town just before, or 
during, the Indian atrocities of King Philip's War. Many of 
our prominent men would not, therefore, have been likely to 
be personal friends of Mr. Stone. Of this catechism only two 
copies are known to exist, one bought by the Lenox Library 
at a cost of one hundred dollars and one by the Watkinson 
Library at Hartford for sixty dollars. Of the nice shades of 
difference in the doctrines inculcated in its eighty-one ques- 
tions and answers, none but a skilled theologian could give an 
intelligent account, and no audience but one drilled from child- . 
3 



i8 

hood in subtU- nu-taphysical nicctios. as our fathers were, need 
attempt tt» hslcti. 

Such is a very brief and inadequate account of the Hbrary 
of a village blacksmith of this ttnvn in the year 1712, but prob- 
ablv as lengthy as you care for. Let us not think too lightly 
of the somber taste of its collector. Apart from religious works 
verv few bot»ks could be had even in England. Before 1712 
Addison and J 'ope had published almost nothing. The great 
novelists were yet to aj^jjcar. The poetry of Dryden and 
Milton was indeed available and was probably read by our an- 
cestors as nnich as by us. Dramatic literature was ahnost the 
only secular kind obtainable, but the New Englander had not 
yet learned to distinguisli between the i)lays of Shakespeare 
anil those which pleased the licentious court of the merry 
monarch. The first settlers and tlieir children after them were 
moreover U)u much occupied with turning the forest into fertile 
fields, defending their homes from the torch of the savage and 
organizing e.xpeditions against their northern neighbors, who 
urged the savages on, to have much time for literary culture. 
Let us not criticise them too sharpl} , but rather be grateful for 
their lives of self-dtnial which made our larger store of knowl- 
edge jjossible. 



THE TUNXIS INDIANS 



AN HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual ^eetino 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON. CONN. 



September ii, igoi 



By JULIUS GAY 



HARTFORD PRESS 

The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

I 901 



THE TUNXIS INDIANS 



AN HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Ennual iTDcctiuG 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 



September ii, igoi 



By JULIUS GAY 



HARTFORD PRESS 

The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

1901 



ADDRESS. 



THE Tunxis Indians, who once occupied the broad 
meadows and forests surrounding our village, first 
came within the range of our ancestors' knowledge 
about the year 1640. Already in January, 1639, the inhabi- 
tants of the three river towns, in the westward march of em- 
pire, before they were hardly settled on the Connecticut, 
moved the court for some enlargement of their accommoda- 
tions. A committee was therefore appointed to " view those 
parts by Vnxus Sepus which may be suitable for those pur- 
poses and make report of their doings to the court which is 
adjourned for that end to the 20th of February at 10 of the 
clock in the morning." The depth of a New^ England win- 
ter did not prove an attractive time for exploring an un- 
known forest buried beneath the snow, and when the court 
was duly opened it w^as informed that " our neighbors of 
Wethersfield, in regard the weather hath not hitherto suited 
for the viewing of A^nxus Sepus. . . . intimated their 
willingness to defer the issue of the business." In Decem- 
ber. 1645. the court " ordered that the Plantation called 
Tunxis shall be called Farmington." So in the year 1645 
the settlement had been made long enough to l)e called a 
plantation, and two years earlier, in 1643, Stephen Hart had 
recorded the purchase of land on the west side of the river 
from a previous owner. 

The place was known as Tunxis Sepus, Tunxis signify- 
ing crooked and Sepus a river, or the little river, in distinc- 
tion from the " Great River, the river of Connecticut." Dr. 
Trumbull translates the name as meaning " at the bend of the 



little river." for here the Farniington River turns al^nijitly 
northward and finds its way to the Connecticut at Windsor. 
In 164 J we read of a grand conspiracy of the Narraganset 
liKJians and of the trihes living at Hartft)r(l an<l Middletown, 
and the General Court ordered preparations to 1)C made " to 
defeat the plot of the Indians meeting ahout Tunxis." We 
hear nothing further of the jilot. and on the 9th of April, 
1650, the Indians of this vicinity execute a deed described as 
■■ A discovery in writing of such agreements as were made 
by the magistrates with the Indians of Tim.xis Sepus con- 
cerning the lands and such things in reference thereto as tend 
to settle peace in a way of truth and righteousness betwixt 
the English and them." It states that it is " taken for grantt'd 
that the magistrates bought the whole country, to the INfo- 
hawk country, of Sequasson, the chief sachem." The docu- 
ment then proceeds in a rambhng, incoherent manner to 
stipulate that the Indians should surrender their land, re- 
serving the " ground in place together compassed about w ith 
a creek and trees and now also to be staked out. also one 
little slipe which is also to be staked out." The English were 
to plough up the land for the Indians, who were allowed to 
cut wood for fuel. Fishing, fowling, and hunting were to be 
enjoyed by the English and Indians alike. The deed was 
signed by Gov. Haynes on the part of the English and by 
Pethus and Ahamo on the part of the Indians. The con- 
sideration was the protection afforded the Indians and the 
lucrative trade offered them in corn and furs. Nor was the 
consideration a small one. Before the coming of the English 
the tribe was between two hostile and powerful enemies, tin- 
Pecjuots <^n the east and the Mohawks on the west. Tlie 
brilliant campaign of Captain John INIason had indeed re- 
lieved them from the former, but from the Mohawks they 
were still wont to nm in abject terror to the houses of their 
new friends. The signatures of Pethus and AhauK* to tlic 
deed are ])its of ])icturc writing not easily explainable. In- 



5 

dian signatures are often uncouth representations of tlieir 
totems ; that is, of tlie animals after which the clan, and 
sometimes the individual, was named. Pethus' signature is 
a mere scrawl, but Ahamo's elaborate drawing resembles 
nothing " in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, 
or that is in the water under the earth." We must remember, 
liowcver, that the record is only a copy of the original deed 
transcribed January i8, 1667, by William Lewis Register, 
who may not have sufficiently admired Indian art and 
heraldry to have taken nmch pains with his copy. 

The deed of 1650 remained in force twenty-three years, 
but all compacts, whether in the nature of treaties like that 
of Clayton and T'ulwer, or of constitutions like that of Con- 
necticut, do in time cease to meet all the requirements of new 
conditions. In 1673. the Indians having become dissatisfied, 
the town " gave them a meeting by a committee wherein they 
came to a friendly and final conclusion." The Indians re- 
leased their right to a rectangular piece df land drawn out in 
diagram upon the deed that they might see definitely what 
they conveyed. The piece measured five miles north from 
\\'epansock or Round Hill, three miles to the east, ten miles 
to the south, and eight miles to the west. " The town of 
Farmington freely giving to the Indians aforesaid two hun- 
dred acres of upland within the lands of their plantation, as 
also three pounds in other pay." In a postscript (so called) 
to this deed the Indians are confirmed in their possession of 
land in the Indian Neck. This deed was signed by twenty- 
one Indians and by five of their squaws. Squaws often 
signed deeds with their husbands. They might be treated 
by them worse than beasts of burden ; nevertheless, if de- 
scended from sachems or sagamores, their right in the body 
politic and that of their children was respected. The salic 
law of old world nations did not hold with them. According 
to Parkman. among the Iro(|Uois, the royal line followed the 
totem down the female line. If a Wolf warrior married a 



llawk S(|na\\, the children w rrc 1 lawks and not Wolves, and 
a rc'puU'd son of the chief was sometimes set aside for the 
cliiUh-en of a sister, for a sister must necessarily be his kindred, 
and of the line royal. 

[•^ii;iit vears afterward, Alesecope executes another deed 
confirnn'n.ir that of 1673, and again in 1683. becoming dissatis- 
tied with these not very well understood legal documents, 
lakes the town authorities with him, and in a l)usinesslike 
manmr goes to the southern limit of the grant, marks a tree 
and huilds a mommient. In like manner he defines the 
eastern and western bounds, so that all men could see and 
understand, and then goes home and signs his heraldic device, 
a bow and arrow, to a long account of his day's work, llis 
son Sassenakum, " in the presence and by the hel]) of his 
father,"' adds his device, which ma_\- reiM-eseut the sun with its 
surrounding halo. The document was duly recorded and is 
tlie last deed we need consider. Peace was firmly established. 
and with few exceptions the relations between the whites and 
Indians were from first to last friendly. For an account of 
one sad exception we nuist go back a little. John Hull, mint 
master of Boston, in his diary under date of .\]M-il 23. 1657. 
says: " \\'e received letters from Hartford, and . . . 
lieard that at a town called Farmington, near Hartford, an 
Indian was so bold as to kill an F.nglish woman great with 
child, and likewise her maid, and sorely wounded a little 
child — rdl within their house — and then tired the house. 
which also fired some other barns or houses. The Inchans. 
bi'ing a])i)rihended, delivered up the uuu"derer, who was 
brought to Hartford and Cafter he had his right hand cut off) 
was, with an axe, knocked on the head by the executioner." 
This story is worth a little study as illustrative of the manner 
in which nuich grave historx" is evolved, (iiven a tew facts 
many years apart, a few traditions and a livi'ly imagination 
and there result^^ a story that shall go down through all tiirie 
as authentic as the exploits of ( )ld Testament heroes. Let us 



consider the facts and then the story. The General Court in 
April, 1657, takes notice of " a most horrid murder committed 
by some Indians at Farmiui^ton, and though Mesapano seems 
to be the principal actor, yet the accessories are not yet 
clearly discovered." Messengers were sent to the Nor- 
wootuck and the Pocumtuck Indians, that is, to those of Had- 
ley and Deerfield, to deliver up Mesapano, which would sug- 
gest that those Indians rather than the Tunxis tribe were 
the guilty parties. The latter, however, had been duly 
warned against entertaining hostile Indians and were there- 
fore held responsible for the murder and the firing of a house, 
and they " mutually agreed and obliged themselves to pay 
unto the General Court in October, or to their order, yearly, 
for the term of seven years, the full sum of eighty fathoms 
of wampum, well strung and merchantable." Nearly ten 
years afterward the house of John Hart takes fire one De- 
cember night and all his family, save one son who was ab- 
sent, were burned. We have several contemporary records 
of the disaster, but no suspicion of foul play appeared. Put- 
ting together these stories separated by ten years of time we 
have full materials for the historic tale. The Indians sur- 
round 'the house of John Hart at midnight, nuuxler the en- 
tire familv. and Ijurn the house over their remains. The 
town records perish in the flames, and the tribe pay a fine of 
eighty fathoms of wampum yearly thereafter. In point of 
fact the Indians did not murder John Hart or burn his house. 
No records were destroyed, and the court complained that 
the Indians did not pay the fine for their transgression of 
ten years before. The murder of 1657 was probably the 
work of strange Indians and not of the friendly Tunxis tribe. 
The Indians living to the north within the jurisdiction of the 
Massachusetts Colony were for many years a menace to the 
whites and friendly Indians alike. There is a well-known 
tradition that about the year 1657 a marauding party from 
the north, seeking captives to hold for ransom, appeared at 



8 

the I J art farm, one mile north of the present soutli hne of 
Avon, and, proceeding thence soutliward, murdered a Mr. 
Scott at a place thenceforth known as Scott's Swamp. The 
earliest record of the tradition is that by Mr. Ezekiel Cowles, 
father of the late Egbert Cowles, Esq., which I give in his 
Dun wtjrds. liv sa}s : "Two Indians came to Old Earm, 
where a man by the name of Hart was hoeing corn. He had 
a gun. He would hoe along a little way and then move his 
gun a little, and then hoe again. He also had two dogs. 
The dogs were disturbed by the Indians and would run 
towards the woods. A partridge flew upon a tree near where 
he was hoeing. He shot at it and then loaded his gun be- 
fore he moved. The Indians concluded they could not get 
him and went on upon the mountain until they came near 
the south part of the village and got something to eat, but 
fotuid loo many houses to attempt to take any prisoners. 
Went on. Saw Root's house on Great Plain. He was at 
prayers. The Indians heard him ; thought there were many 
persons in the house. Dogs barked. They ran. Found 
Scott alone. Took him. He resisted. Halloed. They cut 
out his tongue and finally killed him." This atrocity also is 
attributed to stranger Indians. The differences between the 
whites and the Tunxis tribe during this period w'ere com- 
paratively slight and appear mostly in the records of fines 
imposed on the whites for selling cider and strong drink to 
tile Indians, and on the Indians for the consequences which 
naturally followed. The cases were all petty and a single 
example will sufificicntly illustrate their nature. In 1654 
i'apacjurrote is adjudged to pay unto Jackstraw six fathoms 
of wampum for his injurious pulling of his hair from his head 
by the roots." Now, if the Indians indulged in such an ir- 
regular form of scalping as this, and the injured party ap- 
pealed to a Yankee justice of the peace for redress, it would 
seem that their savagery was beginning to take on a rather 
mild form. 



Until the year 1658 the tribe lived mostly on the east side 
of the river, where they bnried their dead and where they 
maintained a fort. Hither came strange Indians, sometimes 
as friends and sometimes as foes, until the court found it 
necessary to order " that notice shall be given to the Indians 
living at Farmington that in regard of their hostile pursuits, 
contrary to former orders of court, and considering their en- 
tertainment of strange Indians, contrary to the agreement 
with the English when they sat down in Farmington, whence 
ensues danger to the English by bullets shot into the town 
in their skirmishes, that they shall speedily provide another 
place for their habitation and desert that place wherein they 
are now garrisoned." In the year 1711. and perhaps earlier, 
a certain piece of land was known in the town records as 
Fort Lot, and it retained the name until it was absorbed into 
the golf grounds of the Country Club. It is the part bounded 
west by the bed of the old canal and north by land recently 
of Mr. Henry C. Rice. Here were formerly ploughed up in 
great numbers two kinds of Indian arrow heads, the broad, 
black kind used by the Tunxis Indians, and a lesser number 
of a kind narrower, more pointed, and of a lighter color. 
These latter we were told were the weapons of a hostile tribe 
left here after a great battle. Of this battle. Deacon Elijah 
Porter has left us an account based on the traditions of a 
hundred years ago. He says the whites " made an agree- 
ment with them to remove to the w^est side of the meadow, 
])ut liefore they left their old settlement they had intelligence 
that the Stockbridge Indians were preparing to come and try 
their strength with the Tunxis tribe. They met accordingly 
at what is called the Little Meadow. The battle was fought 
with true Indian courage and was vtry liloody, but the Stock- 
bridge Indians were too powerful for the Tunxis, and they 
gave way and retreated to their settlement, whereupon the 
squaws formed a battalion and, attacking the enemy on their 
flank, soon drove them from the field and gained a complete 
2 



lO 

victorv. 'Ilie Tiidians, soon after tlic hattlc, made ])repara- 
tion to remove to the west side of the meadow." The re- 
moval of tlie In(Hans ordered by the (ieneral C'lUirt in i65(S 
was ])rohah!\- soon accomphshed. for as early as 1662 the 
hi^'li ground west of T'equabuc meadow was known on the 
town records as l^ort Hill, where may still he seen the j;rave- 
stones which marked the new ])lace of Indian hnrials. In 
1675 the C'onrt admitted that they had " set their wigwams 
where the antho-rity appoints." 

Dm-iniL;- the whole of King Philii)'s war in 1675 and 1676, 
when the towns aronnd us siififered the horrors of Indian 
warfare, the Tnnxis tribe remained faithful to the luiglish, 
and on the 6th of October, 1675. ^^"t six of their warriors 
to assist them at Springfield. They were Nesehegan. 
\\ anawmessc, Woewassa, Sepoose, Unckchepassun, and 
rnckcowott. In the year 1682 we get a passing glimpse of 
the relations of the whites and Indians froiu a single leaf of 
the account book of Deacon Thomas Bull, in which he re- 
corded his dealings w'ith the Indians. Deacon Bull lived on 
the east side of the road which diverges from Main Street a 
little south of the Congregational Church. To Cherry he 
sells two hoes for which he was to receive five and one-half 
bushels of corn at harvest time. For one broad hoe John 
Indian promises a buckskin well dressed and duly pa}s the 
same. To Taphovv he loaned one bushel of grain and got 
back one-half bushel. He sells Arwous a hatchet to hunt 
with, for which he was to receive nine pounds of tallow. 
From Mintoo he received ten pounds of tallow for a hunting 
hatchet, four more for mending his gun, and another four 
for a half bushel of corn. He has accounts also with ^\'ono- 
mie, Judas, and others for sales and repairs of axes, bush 
scythes, guns, gunlocks, hoes, picks, knives, hatchets, etc. 
Implements for hunting seem to have been most in demand 
and were paid for from the proceeds of the hunt. They 
bought some seed corn and hoes, and it is to be hoped made 



II 

good use of them. Init the picture of Indian agriculture given 
l)v Wood in his '" New England's Prospect " is the more 
commonly received one. Describing the occupations of the 
squaws, he says " another work is their planting of corn, 
wherein they exceed our luiglish husbandmen, keeping it so 
clear with their clamshell hoes, as if it were a garden rather 
than a corn field, not sufifering a choking weed to advance 
liis audacious head above their infant corn, or an under- 
mining worm to spoil his spumes. Their corn being ripe, 
lliey gather it, and, drying it hard in the sun, convey it to 
their barns, which be great holes digged in the ground in 
form of a brass pot, ceiled with rinds of trees, wherein they 
put tlieir corn, covering it from the inquisitive search of their 
gormandizing husbands, who would eat up both their allowed 
portion, and reserved feed, if they knew where to find it." 

Six years later, in 1688, Pethus and Ahamo had departed 
this life for the happy hunting grounds of their race, and no 
one reigned in their stead. Under the mild protection of the 
Enplish the tribe no longer needed chieftains to lead them to 
battle, and the love of ofiice for its petty spoils and dignity, 
involving the sacrifice of self respect and worldly goods for 
its attainment, did not appeal to their simple natures. Never- 
theless, it was desirable that some of their race should have 
authority to agree with the English in the settlement of con- 
troversies. A meeting of the tribe was therefore held on 
the 17th of September. 1688. at the house of John Wadsworth, 
and thev were asked, now that their chief men were dead, 
whom they would make choice of to be chief. They very 
modestly " desired Mr. Wadsworth to nominate a man or 
two, who did nominate Wawawis and Shum. and all that 
were present well approved of them "... " as captains 
to whom the English may have recourse at all times." The 
record of the meeting was signed by John Wadsworth, Will- 
iam Lewis Senior, and John Standly Senior as witnesses on 
the part of the English, and by Nonsbash, Judas, and eleven 



12 

Others on the part of the tribe. Wawawis and Shuni, on their 
part, " accepted of the i)lace of captains or chief men amongst 
all the Indians now in our town and do promise to carry 
(piietly and i)eaceably towards all English and to give an ac- 
conin to Mr. Wadsworth of any strange Indians coming," 
etc. Twelve others, " not being Tunxis Indians," also signed 
an agreement " to walk peaceably and quietly towards the 
I'jiglish . . . and to be subject to Shum and Wawawis 
as their chief cunnnanders." This agreement seems to have 
been faithfully kept. In 1725, an attack from Canada being 
feared and IkukIs of hostile Indians having been found lurk- 
ing about Litchfield, the Governor and Council resolved 
" That John Hooker, Esq., William Wadsworth, and Isaac 
Cowles, or any two of them, shall inspect the Indians of 
I'arniington ; antl the said Indians, each and every man of 
them, is ordered to appear before said committee every day 
about sundown, at such place as said committee shall appoint, 
and give to said committee an account of their ramble and 
business the preceeding day, unless said committee shall, for 
good reason to them shown, give their allowance to omit 
their appearance for some time." In October this restraint 
was removed from the Farmington Indians provided they 
refrained from war paint and w^ore a white cloth on their 
heads when they went, into the woods to hunt, thus distin- 
guishing themselves from the hostile Indians around them. 
The conversion of tlie natives of this continent to Chris- 
tianity was a favorite purpose set forth in the grants and 
charters issued l)y European sovereigns, whether Protestant 
or Catholic. In 1706 the General Assembly of Connecticut 
desires the reverend ministers to prepare a plan for their con- 
version, and in 171 7 the Governor and Coimcil are ordered 
to present " the business of gospeling the Indians " to the 
October session of the assembly. In 1727 ])ersons having 
Indian children in their families are ordered to endeavor to 
teach them to read English and to catechise them. Tn 1733 



13 

the General x\sseml)ly provides for tlie payment of the board 
of the Inchan youth oi Farmington at a school under the 
supervision of Rev. Sanniel Whitman, and the next year the 
latter reports progress to Gov. Talcott. " I have leisure only 
to inform your Honour that of the nine Indian lads that were 
kept at school last w inter, three can read well in a testament, 
three currently in a psalter, and three are in their primers. 
Testaments and psalters have been provided for those that 
read in them. Three of ye Indian lads are entered in writing 
and one begins to write a legible hand." Appropriations for 
the school were made by the assembly for three successive 
years. In i/^y a pupil of the school, one John Matawan, 
became its teacher. In 1751 the tribe had made such prog- 
ress in adopting the customs of their white neighbors that 
the Ecclesiastical Society " granted a liberty to the Christian- 
ized Indians belonging to said society to build a seat in the 
gallery in the Meeting House over the stairs at the north- 
east corner of said house and to be done at the direction of 
the society committee." In 1763 Solomon Mossuck joins the 
church, and two years afterward his wife Eunice also joins. 
In November, 1772, a new teacher took his place in the little 
Indian schoolhouse in West District. This was Joseph John- 
son, a Mohegan Indian, whose father had been a soldier in 
the French war. He had attended Wheelock's Indian Char- 
ity School at Lebanon in 1758, but after leaving it had led an 
irregular life, at one time going on a whaling voyage and 
visiting the West Indies. Returning to a sober, religious 
life, he was employed by the " Society for Propagating the 
Gospel in New England " to teach the Tunxis Indians until 
he was ordained as a minister at Hanover, New Hampshire, 
in the sunnner of 1774. He had much to do with the subse- 
quent removal of the tribe to the west. 

The continued progress of the Indians toward a civilized 
Hfe and their feelings and aspirations in regard to it are set 
forth in the memorial of Elijah Wampey, Solomon Mossuck, 



14 

and the rest of tlic trihc to the May session of the General 
Assembly in 1774. " ^'our Honour's Memorialists have al- 
ways lived luul inhabited in the said town of Farmington by 
means whereof the most of us have in some measure become 
ac(juainted witli antl fcjrmed some general ideas of tlie Eng- 
lish custom and manners, and many of said tribe have been 
instructed in reading and writing in English, and have Ijeen 
at ctnisiderable expense in attaining the same, and furnisliing 
ourselves with l^ibles and some other books in English for 
our further instruction though poorly al)le to bear the ex- 
pense thereof, and we being desirous to make further profi- 
ciency in Juiglish literature and especially to be acquainted 
with the Statute Laws of this Colony ... do therefore 
pray your lionours to give us a Colony Law Book to guide 
and direct us in our conduct." The petition was granted. 

Another memorial l)y the same persons, dated six days 
earlier, foreshadows a great change about to come over the 
tribe. 'Jhe restless spirit of the savage which no civilizing 
influences, or religion itself, could wholly subdue, had been 
set on fire by the allurements of new scenes offered them and 
of more room for the exercise of their old-time freedom of 
forest life. The memorial states " that they have received a 
kind invitation from iluir Ijrethren, the Six Nations at Oneida, 
to come and dwell with them, with a promise of a cordial re- 
ception and ample provision in land whereon to subsist, and 
being straightened where we now dwell, think it will be best 
for ourselves and our children and also tend to extend and 
advance the kingdom of Christ among the heathen nations 
to sell (jur interest in this Colony, to accept said kind invita- 
tion of our brethren and to remove to the ( )neida, and to 
prevent being imposed upon therein, we humbly pray your 
lionours as our fathers and guardians to appoint Col. John 
Strong and I^'isher Gay. Esq., and Mr. Elnathan Gridley, all 
of said I'armington, a committee to assist, direct, and oversee 
us in the s.ale of our lands." Their petition was granted. 



15 

We have another account of this invitation of the Tunxis 
tribe to the home of their former deadhest enemies. It was 
written down by Deacon Ehjah Porter, who was a boy of 
thirteen at the time of the occurrence and doubtless wrote 
of what he personahy knew. He says : " Some time before 
the Revolutionary War a tribe of the Oneida IncHans came 
to Farmington to make the Tunxes a friendly visit. Accord- 
ingly they had a feast of wild deer. In the evening they held 
a pow-wow. Thev built a verv large fire and the two tribes 
joined hands and set to a running around this fire singing 
and shouting and sounding the war whoop so loud as to be 
plainly heard a mile." 

The great obstacle to the removal of the tribe was their 
claim to valuable lands which they could neither take wdth 
them nor legally sell. Since the year 1738 they had many 
times besought the assistance of the General Assembly and 
that body by sundry committees had found them to be the 
rightful owners of a piece of land knowm as the Indian Neck, 
containing from ninety to one hundred and forty acres, 
bounded east and south by the river, north by the Wells 
Farm, and west by land of Daniel Lewis. This land, though 
not held in severalty, certain individuals of the tribe had at- 
tempted to sell in small quantities by deeds in most instances 
not legally executed or recorded and dating back as far as 
the first day of December, 1702. Many legislatures per- 
plexed themselves with attempts to do justice to all parties, 
until at length a committee was appointed in 1773. which, 
taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, 
divided a ]:)articular holding to each Indian, whether warrior 
or scjuaw, in (juantity varying from ten acres to a little less 
than two acres and made a map of the same. Lots were laid 
out to thirty-seven individuals, being one more than the cen- 
sus of 1774 records. According to the latter there were four- 
teen males over twenty years of age and twelve females. The 
whole matter was accomplished in 1777. and the tribe was 



i6 

ivvv to rrnii)\-c with tlii' i^rocccds of the sale of their lands. 
'The trihe, small as it was. seems not to have made its exodus 
in a hody. in October, 1773, their principal men sent a cir- 
cular letter to six other New England tribes asking them to 
send each a messenger to the house of Sir William Johnson, 
who had encouraged their removal. Joseph Johnson and 
J'^lijah Wampey were the only men who went. At a meeting 
at ("anajoharie the next January, representatives were sent 
b\- four tribes wlu) announced their intended removal in a 
speech by Joseph Johnson in the council house of the Onei- 
das. The latter, in their reply, say : " Brethren, since we 
have received you as lirothers. we shall not confine you. or 
pen \()u u]^ to ten luiles square," and add many expressions 
of hearty welcome. The spring of 1775 saw the departure 
of a considerable ]iart of the Tunxis tribe, some to Oneida 
and some to Stockbridge. Tn the Indian deeds on record, 
F.lijah Wanipey locates himself in 1777 as " now of Oneida 
in the Mohawk country," and James Wowowas in 1775 as 
of Stockbridge. The time of their removal was most unfor- 
tunate. They, with most of the Oneidas. espoused the pa- 
triot side in the Revolution and were driven in 1777 from 
their new homes l)y the British. Tories, and Indians under 
St. Leger and sought refuge in Stockbridge. Massachusetts. 
To tell the story of their disaster at length were to rehearse 
a large part f)f the history of the Revolution. The war over, 
they renew their memorials to our state legislatiu'c to help 
them return to their now devastated homes. 

Their ai)i)eal to the October session of the ( "leiu'ral As- 
sembly in 1780 was written bv Wanij^ey, C'usk, C'urcond), 
and others from West Stockbridge asking for funds to i)ay 
for the preaching among them of " Daniel Simon of the Xar- 
raganset tribe of Indians of College education and ordained 
to preach tlie gospel." 'J'heir rc(]uest, though fortified by 
an appeal from the missionary Samuel Kirkland, was refused, 
and instead thereof thev were allow-ed to solicit contributions 



17 

ill the several churches. A considerable sum was thus col- 
lected in Continental currency and in bills of credit issued by 
the state, but so utterly valueless had this currency become 
that " not worth a continental " was the common designa- 
tion of anything absolutely worthless. The assembly this 
time took pity on their condition and ordered the state treas- 
m-er to take up the bills and pay lawful money to Rev. Samuel 
Kirkland for their use. 

In 1788 the Indians began to return to their Oneida 
homes, being encouraged by an act of the New York legis- 
lature which has the following preamble : " And whereas 
the Oneida and Tuscarora tribes inhabiting within this state 
have been distinguished for their attachment to the cause 
of America and have thereby entitled themselves to protec- 
tion, and the said tribes by their humble petition having 
prayed that their land may be secured to them by authority 
of the legislature," commissioners were appointed to devise 
measures for their contentment. In an act of 1801 we read 
" that the tract of land of six miles square confirmed by the 
Oneida Indians to the Stockbridge Indians by the treaty held 
at Fort Stanwix in the year one thousand seven hundred and 
eighty-eight shall be and remain to the Stockbridge Indians 
and their posterity forever." ..." and be it further en- 
acted that the tract of land heretofore set apart for the Indians 
called the New England Indians, consisting of the tribes called 
the Mohegan, Montock, Stonington, and Narraganset In- 
dians, and the Pequots of Groton and Nehanticks of Farm- 
ington, shall be and remain to the said Indians and their pos- 
terity, but without any power of alienation by the said In- 
dians, or of leasing or disposing of the same or any part 
thereof, and the same tract shall be called Brothertown and 
shall be deemed part of the town of Paris in the county of 
Oneida." Brothertown was on the Oriskany and occupied 
the greater part of the town of Marshall, which was formerly 
a part of the town of Paris and the southern part of Kirkland 
3 



i8 

in which is located Hamilton College. New Stockbridge 
was six miles to the west in the town of Augusta. The two 
settlements formed at first one parish, the Rev. Samson 
( )ccom preaching alternate vSundays, now in the barn of Fow- 
ler in lirothertown and now in some house in New Stock- 
bridge. The history of these two settlements, of their con- 
tentions with the land-hungry whites, and of their own in- 
ternal dissensions, is too voluminous for our present con- 
sideration. In 1831 they again began a new removal west- 
ward, this time to Green Bay, Wisconsin. The amount of 
Tunxis blood diffused through that conglomeration of races 
must now have become so small that we will not pursue the 
history of the tribe further. Those who desire further knowl- 
edge of the Erothertown Indians should consult the account 
of Rev. Samson Occom by the Rev, William Deloss Love 
and the numerous authorities to which he refers. I shall 
only quote a few lines from the account which President 
Dwight gives of his visit to them in 1799. He says: " I had 
a strong inclination to sec civilized Indian life, i. c, Indian 
life in the most advanced state of civilization in which it is 
found in this country, and was informed that it might prob- 
ably be seen here." The Brothertown Indians, he says, 
" were chiefly residents in Montville and Farmington, and 
were in nuniljer about one hundred and fifty. The settle- 
ment is formed on the declivity of a hill, running from north 
to south. The land is excellent, and the spot in every re- 
spect well chosen. Here forty families of these people have 
fixed themselves in the business of agriculture. They have 
cleared the ground on both sides of the road about a quarter 
of a mile in breadth and about four miles in length. Three 
of them have framed houses. , . . The remaining houses 
are of logs, and ditTer little from those of the whites, when 
formed of the same materials. Their husbandry is much in- 
ferior to that of the white people. Their fences are indiffer- 
ent and their meadows and arable grounds are imperfectly 



'9 

cleared. Indeed, almost everywhere is visible that slack 
hand, that disposition to leave everything nnfinished, which 
peculiarly characterizes such Indians as have left the savage 
life." 

We will close this paper with a brief account of the scanty 
remnant of the Tunxis tribe who lived and died on their 
ancestral soil. Solomon Mossuck. who joined the church 
in 1763. died January 25, 1802, at the age of 78 and was 
buried in the Indian burying ground on the hill to the left 
of the road as you go to the railroad station. A well-executed 
monument marks his grave. He had a son Daniel who w^as 
a soldier in the Revolutionary War and a son Luke who re- 
moved to Brothertown. Thomas Curcomb. who is said on 
the church records to have been the last Tunxis Indian of 
unmixed blood, died December 21, 1820. aged 44. He is 
best remembered by the story of his buying rum at the store 
of Zenas Cowles, the nearest source of supply for the inhabi- 
tants of the Indian Neck. It was during the early days when 
total abstinence societies were unknown and all classes and 
conditions of men bought rum. and every merchant sold it, 
as one of the absolute necessities of life. Thomas, having 
obtained a gallon for eight shillings, in due time returned for 
another supply and was disgusted to learn that the price in 
the meantime had risen to nine shillings. It was explained 
to him that the extra shilling w'as for interest on the money 
and for shrinkage of the liquor, and that it cost as much to 
keep a hogshead of rum through the winter as to keep a 
horse. Yes, yes. said the Indian. He no eat hay, but he 
drink much water. Thomas got his rum for eight shillings 
as before. The story of Henry Mossuck. son of Luke and 
grandson of Solomon, is not edifying, but as he was the last 
of his race and as his career well illustrates the inevitable fate 
of weaker races in the contest of life I must venture to give 
you a brief sketch of a man sinning somewhat, but very much 
sinned against. His first recorded appearance in public was 



20 

ill a juslicc court, w lie re F^sciuirc 1 loracc Cowlcs fined him 
for stcalinjj^ chickens on the night of July 8. 1824. A month 
afterward he was wanted in another matter hut had ahsconded 
to i)arts unknown. Two years later he g-oes to sea for a 
three years' voyag'e, and, as I am told, with Capt. Ehcnezcr 
Mix. c^ivinr;;" a white neighbor a ])ower of attorney to take 
care of his land in his al)sence. Just before he returned, his 
trusted agent sold the land, pocketed the proceeds, and went 
west. Passing- over twenty years of his uneventful life we 
find him at the ag'e of forty-nine in Colebrook, wdiere on a 
Saturday night in the last week of March, 1850, two wretches 
not twenty-one years of age, William H. Calhoun and Benja- 
min ]^>alcom. murdered a certain Barnice White in a most 
brutal manner. They were sentenced to be hung, and Henry 
Mossuck, known as Henry Manasseth. was sentenced with 
them as having prompted and abetted them. A year after- 
ward the sentences of all three were commuted to imprison- 
ment for life. T have read the lengthy records of the court 
and the minute confession of Calhoun and have learned much 
from other sources. There seems to have been no evidence 
whatever against Mossuck except that of the men, who rc- 
liearsed the story of their brutal crime with no more com- 
punction than they would feel at the butchering of an ox, and 
who had every motive for lying. INIossuck vainly petitioned 
the legislature for release for three successive years, in 1861. 
1862, and 1863. Init finally, in 1867, Ralcom on his death 
bed having asserted the innocence of Mossuck. and the chap- 
lain and officers of the State Prison giving him a good char- 
acter, he was pardoned. He died in our poorhousc on the 
r<;th of October. 1883. 

So came to an ignoble end a race always friendly to our 
fathers. They have left little to recall them to mind. A few 
monuments mark their graves on Fort Hill near b\- where 
John Mattawan and Joseph Johnson taught their schools. A 
single stone in our own cemeterv overlooks the river once 



21 

covered with their canoes and the broad acres once their 
hunting grounds. On it are inscribed the well-known lines 
by Mrs. Sigourney : 

Chieftains of a vanished race, 
In your ancient burial place. 
By your father's ashes blest. 
Now in peace securely rest. 
Since on life you looked your last, 
Changes o'er your land have passed; 
Strangers came with iron sway, 
And your tribes have passed away. 
But your fate shall cherished be. 
In the stranger's memory; 
Virtue long her watch shall keep. 
Where the red-men's ashes sleep. 

More enduring' than these frail memorials are the few 
Indian words of liquid sound which remain forever attached 
to the places where the red man lived : Pequabuck. the clear, 
open pond; Ouinnipiack, the long-water land; and Tunxis 
Sepus, by the bend of the river. 



^ ^ ^ ®1|? StoarmtttQ of t\}t l^xbt ^ ^ ^ 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Annual iM^rttng 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 



September g, 190J 



By JULIUS GAY 



(^attfotb jpre^rf 

Thb Case, Lookwood & Brainabd Compaht 
1903 



* 




^ ^ ^ ®li0 ^itJarmtuQ nf tl)f ^xht ^ ^ ^ 



AN 

HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Animal iHrrtiug 



OF 



The VILLAGE Library Company 



OF 



FARMINGTON, CONN. 



September g, i poj 



By JULIUS GAY 



i^artforb fte^4 

The Case, Lockwood & Br&inard Compant 
1903 



ADDRESS. 



Ladies and Gentlevien of the Village Library Company of 
Farviiiigton : 

I propose this evening to speak of some of the divi- 
sions and migrations of our early New England ancestors 
which led to the settlement of Farmington, and how new 
divisions in their turn drove new colonies one by one 
from the old hive. Want of room for their flocks and 
herds and tales of fertile fields somewhere just beyond 
them were not the only causes of unrest. Back of all 
were the more potent internal dissensions which drove 
them forth. The Hebrews of old would have preferred 
the flesh-pots of Egypt to the glories of the promised 
land. It is the trouble within that causes the swarming 
of the hive. 

The first New England concourse with which we of this 
village are interested by descent was that at Newton, now 
Cambridge, gathered around the Rev. Thomas Hooker as 
pastor, and Rev. Samuel Stone as teacher, appointed to 
their respective offices at a fast, October ii, 1633. Wood 
in his New England's Prospect printed the next year 
says : " This is one of the neatest and best compacted 
Townes in New England, having many Faire structures, 
with many handsome contrived streets. The inhabitants 
most of them are very rich, and well stored with Cattell 
of all sorts ; having many Acres of ground paled in with 
one generall fence." Nevertheless on the 15th of May, 
1634, we read that "Those of Newton complained of 
straitness for want of land, especially meadow, and de- 
sired leave of the court to look out either for enlarofc- 
ment or removal." Six months later they give three 



reasons for their desires : the want of accommodation for 
their cattle, the fruitfuhiess and commodiousness of Con- 
necticut, and what was much more to the purpose, the 
bent of their spirits to remove thither. The theocratic 
notions of the Boston divines did not harmonize with the 
more democratic ones of Hooker. It was time for the 
hive to swarm. The account of the removal of the Cam- 
bridge church to Hartford, given by Dr. Trumbull in his 
history of Connecticut, and much expanded in almost 
every history of Hartford and its ancient families, is thus 
given in the concise and graphic original. "About the 
beginning of June Mr. Hooker, Mr. Stone, and about a 
hundred men, women, and children, took their departure 
from Cambridge, and travelled more than a hundred 
miles, through a hideous and trackless wilderness, to 
Hartford. They had no guide but their compass ; made 
their way over mountains, through swamps, thickets, and 
rivers, which were not passable but with great difficulty. 
They had no cover but the heavens, nor any lodgings but 
those which simple nature afforded them. They drove 
with them a hundred and sixty head of cattle, and by the 
way, subsisted on the milk of their cows. Mrs. Hooker 
was bourne through the wilderness upon a litter. The 
people generalh' carried their packs, arms, and some 
utensils. They were nearly a fortnight on their journey." 
The next year saw the extermination of the Pequots, the 
only people from whom the settlers had any fear of 
molestation. Here then in this quiet valley, looking out 
on the broad waters of the Connecticut on the east, on the 
Talcott Mountain range on the west, and within easy 
reach of their friendly neighbors of Windsor and 
Wethersfield on the north and south, here surely was an 
ideal resting place for weary mortals. Nevertheless, 
after a residence of less than three years, the settlers 
"moved the Court for some inlaruement of accomma- 
dacion," and desired that a committee " view those parts 
by Vnxus Sepus which may be suitable for their pur- 



5 

poses." How much the fertile meadows of Farmington 
and how much internal dissensions had to do with the 
swarming of this particular hive is uncertain. The 
situation which led to open rupture after the death of 
Hooker is not difficult to understand. The Hartford 
church had a triple leadership. The pastor, Thomas 
Hooker ; the teacher, Samuel Stone ; and the ruling elder, 
William Goodwin, were all strong men, and the duties of 
their respective offices, gathered from scanty scripture 
texts, were none too well defined. The teacher was " to 
attend upon points of knowledge and doctrine, though 
not without application," the pastor to attend upon 
"points of practice, though not without doctrine." The 
rulinof elder was the man of affairs, the moderator in 
meetings, the watcher over the private conduct of church 
members, and the visitor of the sick. Whatever may 
have been the immediate cause, a number of Hartford 
families began the settlement of Farmington in 1640, and 
for more than thirty years there was no considerable 
departure of its people to other settlements. We know 
little of the life of the village during this period. All 
town votes before 1672 were recorded in "ye ould book" 
which, when the dry details of land grants had been 
copied out, was allowed to drop in pieces, and with it 
perished almost the only record of the habits and customs 
of the olden time. The church record, begun by John 
Steele in 1652, and indebted to Rev. Samuel Hooker for 
most of its value, contains a tedious account of the church 
dissensions from 1668 to 1675, which ushered in the 
removal of some of the best citizens to Waterbury. The 
two parties most active in the quarrel were James Bird 
and Simon Wrothum. On the 15th of June, 1673, "the 
church at Farmington assembled at Deacon Hart's to 
attend the admission of James Bird. . . . About eight 
brethren voted for his admission, three against it. . . . 
Whereupon the Pastor told the said James, that the Church 
did expect of those that joined, and consequently of him, 



that he should promise to submit to the government of 
Christ in his house, walk with his brethren ; and fear, and 
keep all the commandments of God, as far as Christ should 
enable. To which the said James returned, ... as 
the Lord liveth, I will not close with you thus ; and so de- 
parted the house." One of the two offenders was denied 
membership and the other was dismissed. The latter 
applied to the General Assembly of the Colony to cite the 
church before it to show the reason why they cast him 
out of the church. The Assembly saw no cause to give 
the church or council any trouble to appear before them, 
but advised said Wrothum to a serious consideration of 
his former ways. Time fails us to consider all the petty 
annoyances which made a separation desirable. There 
were no fertile fields in the west that caused this swarm- 
ing of the hive. Dr. Bronson in his history of Waterbury 
says of the settlers, "They were tough men, and had 
come into a tough country; a country which, for easy 
tillage, was in striking contrast with the plains of Farm- 
ington." The most recent historian of Waterbury says, 
"Why were these men not content? The question of 
land surely could not have been a serious one ; nor were 
its divisions so arbitrary as to account for the spirit of 
unrest that prevailed in Farmington, as elsewhere. Men 
were not equal. The government of towns was in the 
hands of a few men. Few were the changes in the more 
honorary offices, and heavy was the repression felt by the 
individual consequent upon the letter of the law, whose 
weight weighed him down more heavily than he could 
bear. Hence the efforts of the individual to seek out 
some tract of land, even if distant from the settlement, 
where he could, at least to his little herd of cattle, speak 
his mind, without suffering the consequences." To this 
indictment of our ancestors, it may be said that no lists of 
town officers before 1680 exist, and if a majority of the 
voters chose to give office to well tried men rather than 
as spoils of party activity to a succession of new men, who 



shall oppugn their wisdom ? The trouble was largely a 
church quarrel in which the participants were not the men 
to seek out some lonely spot in which to rehearse their 
woes to their flocks and herds, but at all times and in all 
places spoke their minds with great freedom and plain- 
ness of utterance, as was the custom of their day. 

In October 9th, 1673, twenty-six of the most substan- 
tial citizens of Farmington presented a petition to the 
General Court sitting at Hartford for the establishment 
of a plantation at Mattacock, now Waterbury. The very 
kindly response of the Farmington church to the petition 
is as follows : " The Church having considered the desires 
of their brethren William, Thomas, John, and Benjamin 
Judd, — as also John Standley Jun. touching their removal 
from us to Mattatuck, agreed as followeth : — 

" I. In general. That considering the divers difficulty 
and inconveniences which attend the place toward which 
they are looking, and how hazardable it may be, (for 
aught that appeareth,) that the house and ordinances of 
Christ may not, (for a large time at least,) be settled among 
them, the Church doth advise the brethren, to be wary of 
engaging far, until some comfortable hopes appear of 
being better suited for the inward man, in the great 
things forementioned. 

"2. Particularly. To our brother William Judd, — that 
it having pleased God to deal so bountifully with him, 
that not many of the brethren with us have so large 
accommodations as himself, yet see not his call to remove 
on the account of straightness for outward subsistence, — 
and therefore counsel him, — if it may be with satisfaction 
to his spirit, — to continue his abode with us, — hoping 
God will bless him in so doing. 

"3. To the rest. Though we know not how much they 
will be bettered as to land, all things considered, by their 
removal, — especially John and Benjamin Judd, — and there- 
fore cannot much encourage, — yet if the bent of their spirits 
be strong for- going, and the advice af oregiven, touching 



8 

the worship of God, be taken, — we shall not trouble, — but 
say, — the will of the Lord be done." 

The next swarm which left the hive chose for its home 
a spot in what was known as the Great Swamp. If you 
will take a car at the Berlin Junction railroad station on 
the Middletown branch, after going about a mile eastward, 
you will see at your left across a quarter of a mile of level 
ground, the white stones of the old Christian Lane Ceme- 
tery on ground slightly raised above the dead level of 
what was once the Great Swamp. Near by was the Sey- 
mour Fort fenced in with palisadoes and containing a well 
and cabins for nightly shelter from the Indians, and near 
by stood the first meeting house of Kensington Parish. 
What prompted the settlement of this lonely swamp 
cannot well be explained, but as early as January i8th, 
1669-70, before the Eighty-Four Proprietors came into 
existence as such, the town granted to sixty-one men 1082 
acres of land " in the Great Swamp lying on the branches 
of Mattebesit River through the condescendency of par- 
ticular persons in the town to part with something of that 
which is their right, to persons of lesser estate on these 
conditions, viz., that this tract of land given to sundry 
persons shall perpetually and forever hereafter belong to 
and be a part of Farmington never to be a distinct people 
from the aforesaid town without their liberty and consent." 
In December 22, 1681, the town again voted " that the up- 
land adjacent to the Great Swamp shall be laid out so as 
they may best accommodate for inhabitants and the com- 
mittee that laid out the swamp are chosen to do that 
work." In December 27, 1686, the order was repeated 
and a committee of six named for its execution. Again 
on the 28th of September, 1705, the town votes "that so 
many of their inhabitants that do or shall personally 
inhabit at the place called the Great Swamp and upland 
belonging thereto and in the division of land on the east 
side of the Blue Mountains and in the lots called Bach- 
elders lots and so much of the division of land against 



Wethersfield as shall extend northward from the Great 
Swamp imtil it shal include the lot that was William 
Judd's and no more, so many of them, as see fit (none to 
be compelled), that they become a ministerial society, 
when they do gain a capable minister among them." The 
next month the proposed colonists prefer their petition to 
the General Assembly stating that "our unanimous desire 
is that the Worshipful Capt. Thomas Hart will prefer this 
our humble petition." Captain Thomas Hart was a 
representative from Farmington to the General Assembly 
and was the speaker of the house. It was around the 
worshipful captain as a center that the storm raged which 
attended the second division of the settlers and turned a 
peaceful community into an angry hive. The quarrel 
beean about the choice of a successor to the lamented 
Rev. Samuel Hooker. An oldtime New England com- 
munity without a minister was like a hive of bees without 
a queen. In 1701 the annual town meeting for the choice 
of officers was abruptly broken up, and it required an Act 
of the General Assembly the next year to set the machin- 
ery of government again in motion. The petty lawsuits 
arising were appealed to the higher courts, and the long 
and tedious details, looking trivial to all but the inflamed 
minds of the contestants, are spread over many pages of 
the records. All this verbosity is occasionally relieved by 
the vigorous language of the worshipful captain as when, 
" upon a Sabbath Day after the exercise, the church being 
stayed and a Fast propounded, Capt. Thomas Hart replied 
and said," quoting the words of the prophets of old, 
" When ye fasted and mourned . . . did ye at all fast 
unto me, even me? Behold ye fast for strife and debate, 
and to smite with the fist of wickedness," etc. The day 
of humiliation, fasting, and prayer was not voted. After 
a trial of ten candidates whose names are duly recorded, 
and no doj.ibt of many others, the General Assembly of 
the colony appointed " the reverend ministers of the towns 
of Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield to procure a minis- 



10 

ter for Farmington, who are hereby ordered to receive him 
and pay him as formerly until this Court do order otherwise 
or themselves agree." October, 1705, saw the grant of a 
distinct society called the Great Swamp Society, and the 
month following saw the departure of a committee of the 
town and church to Nantasket to negotiate with the divine 
chosen for them by the reverend ministers. They had 
selected a man from another state with sufficient power 
of will to hold his own until the storm subsided. The 
hive had swarmed and peace reigned. 

Let us not judge our ancestors too severely for this one 
unfortunate episode. Deny the present residents of this 
happy valley all means of communication with the outer 
world, railroads, telegraphs, postoffices, newspapers, and 
even the slow stage coach ; limit their thoughts and inter- 
est to the petty actions of neighbors close around them, 
and how much would they excel their forefathers ? It is 
not so much human nature that changes as its surround- 
ings. 

The subsequent history of the Great Swamp or Ken- 
sington parish can best be found in the Ecclesiastical 
History of New Britain by Deacon Alfred Andrews. 
With a few words from a historical discourse by the late 
Rev. E. B. Hillard concerning the Great Swamp meeting- 
house and its surroundings, we will leave this part of our 
subject. He says, " I visited a short time since that sacred 
spot. I stood beside the ancient graves. I looked around 
upon the scenes on which the silent sleepers in them used 
to look. I turned my eyes, as the sun was setting, to the 
summit of the western mountain, whither, at sunset, their 
eyes had so often turned when home and friends lay 
beyond, and all was forest-wild between. In sight and 
near at hand was the swell on which stood the old meeting- 
house, in which they first covenanted to walk with Christ 
and with each other. . . . The snow lay on the 
ground, as a century and a half before it had lain there on 
the December day when they first, collecting from their 



II 

vScattered homes, had gathered at the meeting-house to 
see him whom they had chosen to be their shepherd in 
the wilderness, set apart to his sacred work, and to cove- 
nant with him to be his people. . . . The spot where 
they sleep seems fit for their long rest. It is retired and 
lonely, as is now the history of their lives. The age in 
which they lived has passed away. The present is new 
and strange. It is meet that in their final rest they should 
be withdrawn from it. . . . And so it is. They sleep 
in peace. . . . the scene of their early homes is still 
almost as quiet as when no sounds were heard there save 
those of the Indian's footfall or the forest cry. There let 
us leave them to their sleep, beneath the trees, beside the 

river, 

' Each in his narrow cell forever laid.'" 

The next considerable exodus from the old center 
was southward. The first settler is supposed to have 
been one Samuel Woodruff, who made the place his sum- 
mer residence for purposes of hunting and fishing, pre- 
ferring the freedom of the forest to the restraints of the 
farm. Here his sixth child, David, was born in 1696, and 
was, by tradition, the first white child born in Southing- 
ton. Monuments to the memory of Samuel and Rebecca, 
his wife, stand on Burying-Ground Hill. Other families 
came in slowly. By the year 1722 the number had so 
increased that the Proprietors of Common Lands ordered 
Panthorn surveyed and divided for individual holding. 
No reasonable explanation of the name has ever been 
given. Dr. Trumbull is quoted as saying that the word 
is not Indian. "As poor as Panthorn" was long a com- 
mon phrase. In December, 1721, the First Ecclesiastical 
Society, " in consideration of the farmers southward of 
the town their hiring of Mr. Buck to preach among them 
this winter season, do agree and manifest the same by 
vote to abate the said farmers one-third part of each of 
their proportions toward the payment of Mr. Whitman's 
rate," the four winter months constituting one-third of 



12 

the year. Winter privileges did not long- satisfy. In 
1724 the General Assembly gave the inhabitants of Pan- 
thorn a distinct existence as the Third or South Society 
of Farmington. 

The next settlement within the original territorial 
limits of the town which attained a separate ecclesiastical 
organization was that of Bristol. In 1663 this town 
"granted to John Wadsworth, Richard Bronson, Thomas 
Barnes, and Moses Ventrus forty acres of meadow land 
lying at the place we commonly call Poland." Somehow, 
in February, 1650, the Rev. Roger Newton, two years 
before the beginning of his pastorate here, was the 
owner of "one parcel called Bohemia, through which a 
river doth run, containing by estimation fifty acres." 
Bohemia and Poland were included in the six divisions 
of land laid out in 1721 by the Proprietors of Common 
Lands west of the reserved lands. The inhabitants of 
five of these divisions, in 1742, represented to the General 
Assembly that they, "are so remote from any meeting- 
house in any ministerial society in said town as renders 
it exceeding difficult for us to attend the public worship 
of God in any place where it is set up, and especially in 
the winter season." Winter privileges, so called, were 
granted them, and in 1 744 they were constituted the New 
Cambridge Society. 

In the year 1743, while these changes were taking 
place, the inhabitants of the West Society of Hartford 
living within the limits of the town of Farmington 
petition the General Assembly to be relieved from pay- 
ing "ministerial and meeting-house charges" to Farm- 
ington, their location being such "as renders it very 
difficult to have any communication at all with Farming- 
ton so as to partake of any of the society privileges or be 
the better for them." The granting of this petition 
seems to hdvQ relieved all friction until the building of 
our new meeting-house in 1771, when certain farmers 
owning land in both towns petitioned the General Assem- 



13 

bly to be relieved from paying society taxes here. "Said 
First Society in Farmington," they say, " is very extensive 
as to its limits, their inhabitants wealthy, opulent, and 
numerous . . . are engaged in building a very superb 
and costly meeting-house." Petition granted. 

The next separation was by the farmers on the north 
living in what was long known as Nod, afterward North- 
ington and finally Avon. Nod extended north to Sims- 
bury, the southern boundary of which was laid out 
throuofh the mouth of Nod Brook. It was to Nod that 
John Hart had fortunately absented himself when all the 
other members of his father's house were burned on the 
night of December 15th, 1666. It had been known for a 
long time as Hart's Nod. Why Nod does not appear. 
Its pious owners could hardly have named it from the 
land of Nod on the east side of Eden into which Cain 
went from the presence of the Lord. In 1726 the inhab- 
itants of the extreme north part of Nod and those of the 
south part of Simsbury petitioned the General Assembly 
to unite them into a new society^ but the vote failed in 
the Upper House. Winter privileges were, however, 
granted them in 1746, that is, they "shall have liberty to 
hire some suitable orthodox person to preach the gospel 
among them during the months of December, January, 
February, and March annually." In 1750 the Nod people 
on both sides of the river were constituted "a distinct 
ecclesiastical society and parish by the name of Northing- 
ton Parish." In 1754 they built on the east side of the 
river on high ground a meeting-house, which however 
was burned in 1817, leaving, as in the case of the Great 
Swamp parish, only a graveyard in a lonely spot to mark 
its site. In each cemetery lie the remains of the first 
pastors of each, of Burnham in the one and of Booge in 
the other. As we near the last considerable removal from 
the old village, it must have occurred to you that what- 
ever may have been true of the state and the town, the 
ecclesiastical society certainly preceded the town except 



14 

in the few eases where they had a common origin. The 
minister was the most important personage in the land. 

It was a quarter of a century before any further sepa- 
ration of the inhabitants took place. The five tiers of lots 
to the north of New Cambridge, known as the West 
Woods, were gradually settled by families from the ad- 
joining towns, and in 1774 they were constituted a society 
by the name of West Britain, which in 1806 became the 
town of Burlington. The last families to leave the old 
center and form new societies were those of Plainville and 
Unionville, the former in 1840 and the latter in 1841. 
During the palmy days of the old canal the worshipers of 
both localities came to church at the old center by boat in 
the summer season. A rare Sunday picnic. 

Divisions into new societies do not account for all the 
removals from the hive. At the close of the Revolution- 
ary War, when Indian atrocities largely ceased, and the 
vast unknown regions of the west were open to settlers, 
they did not need a Sewall to tell them 

" No pent-up Utica contracts your powers, 
But the whole boundless continent is yours. ' 

E.squire Mix, than whom there could have been no 
better authority, in preparing material for Gov. Tread- 
well's History of Farmington, says : " There have emi- 
grated from this town into other states between August 
1783 and March 1802 inclusive, 147 families, which, allow- 
ing five to a family, will make the whole number 735, 
besides a number of unmarried persons of both sexes not 
belonging to those families, which I believe maybe fairly 
estimated at 40 more. This will make the total number 
775. They are principally gone into the states of New 
York and Vermont, though some few to different parts of 
the North West territory." This was written about the 
year 1800 when the town included Avon and Plainville. 
The manner of their going is set forth by Washington 
Irving in his Sketch Book, "with a whole family of 



15 

children, mounted on the top of a wagon loaded with 
household trumpery, with pots and kettles dangling be- 
neath, setting out for Kentucky, Tennessee, or the Lord 
knows where." We have time this evening to give the 
names of only a few of the best known of the leaders of 
the great exodus. One of the first companies followed 
the west bank of the Connecticut River as the easiest 
route. They sent in advance three pioneers in a boat to 
spy out the land, Capt. Steel Smith, Joab Hoisington, and 
Benjamin Bishop. Landing in a meadow just north of 
the present village of Windsor, Vermont, they cut down 
a tree and claimed the place by possession. They were 
soon followed by Gen. Zebina Smith, Major Elisha Haw- 
ley, Capt. Israel Curtis, Deacon Hezekiah Thomson, Asa- 
hel Hoisington, and Elihu Newell, and later on by the 
Rev. John Richards. They did not carry their titles into 
the wilderness but acquired them there. Here in Wind- 
sor the most recent of their number printed bibles and a 
newspaper, and here they developed sterner puritanic 
notions than they had learned in their childhood's home. 
A Farmington boy in their printing office writes to his 
parents : "A dancing-school has been commenced here 
this winter, and it was understood that none were to have 
employment in our office who attended it." Three girls 
having transgressed, " In the morning I had to perform 
the unpleasant duty of dismissing them. Two of them 
had worked in the office for nearly two years, had been 
very faithful, and were good compositors." A little to the 
west of Wind.sor Ira Langdon and Aaron North settled, 
farther west, in Ludlow, Deacon Lee, and a little to the 
north, in Dummerston, Samuel Orvis. A large number 
journeyed northward on the west side of the Green Moun- 
tain range. Benjamin Lewis, John Ford, and Ambrose 
Collins stopped short in West Stockbridge. Col. Orsamus 
C. Merrill, successively printer, lawyer, and member of 
Congress, went on to Bennington, Vermont, Oliver Wood- 
ruff and Thomas Porter to Tinmouth. In Castleton, a 



i6 

few miles to the north, Nathaniel Hart tanght a grammar 
school, Selah Gridley practiced medicine and wrote poe- 
try, Chauncey Langdon became a judge of probate, and 
Ebenezer Langdon owned a grist-mill. Cyrus Porter 
went to Middlebury, where William G. Hooker was a 
physician before he removed to New Haven, Conn. In 
Poultney lived and died Col. James Hooker. In Burling- 
ton, on Lake Champlain, resided George Wadsworth and 
Farming-ton's ancient tanner and shoemaker, Gabriel 
Curtis. In Montpelier, the state capital, lived Timothy 
Merrill, lawyer, and Col. James H. Langdon, a wealthy 
merchant, who was previously one of the Farmington 
colony at Windsor. To the west of Castleton along the 
New York state line, partly in one state and partly in the 
other, are to this day numerous descendants of Farming- 
ton Hookers, the names and virtues of whose ancestors 
are recorded in all the cemeteries around. Over the line 
into the state of New York the Farmington settlers jour- 
neyed. Rev. Asahel Norton became pastor of the first 
church in Clinton, and Seth Norton Professor of Lan- 
guages in Hamilton College in the same place, which, 
while still an academy, had been in charge of Rev. 
Robert Porter, another native of Farmington, and all 
three graduates of Yale. Here also resided Martin 
Porter, and near by in Litchfield, New York, Joseph 
Hooker. The original members of the First Presbyterian 
Church of Sherman were mostly from the church in 
Farmington — George, Dennis, and Ava Hart, Elisha 
Woodruff, William Williams, Charles Hawley, Robert 
Woodruff, Hiram Gleason, together with the wives of 
most of them. Amzi Porter went to Smithfield, Jesse 
Cowles to Augusta, and Alpheus Hawley to Jamestown. 
To the Genesee country went Dr. Timothy Hosmer and 
Major Isaiah Thompson — the former successively the 
village doctor of Farmington, surgeon of the Sixth Con- 
necticut Regiment in the Revolutionary War, and the first 
judge of Ontario County. An account of others who 



17 

were scattered all over the state would detain us too long. 
New York soon ceased to be the " Far West," and New 
Connecticut became the land of promise. New Connect- 
icut you will hardly find in a modern atlas. In the year 
1662 Charles II gave to the Governor and Company of 
Connecticut the territory of the present state and a strip 
of land of the same width extending westward across the 
continent to the South Sea, now the Pacific Ocean. In 
1 68 1, without troubling himself much about the geogra- 
phy of this western wilderness, and claiming the royal 
right to recall any gift and bestow it on some new favorite, 
he gave to Sir William Penn the land now known as the 
state of Pennsylvania. The north half of that state was 
included in both charters. Later on Connecticut men 
settled the Wyoming Valley, situated on the Susquehanna 
River in this common ground. Here they suffered all the 
horrors of Indian warfare in the successive Pennamite 
wars, and in the final massacre known the world over to 
all readers of Campbell's " Gertrude of Wyoming." Of 
the Farmington men engaged in the strife Llajor William 
Judd was four times chosen justice of the peace for the 
county of Westmoreland and was among those who in 
1 780 were voted compensation for losses sustained. Mervin 
Clark of our East Farms district lost a valuable farm and 
house, and barely escaped with the clothes on his back. 
Joseph Gaylord, a resident of Bristol and afterward of 
Farmington, removed from the latter place to Wyoming 
in the spring of 1 769, whence he was driven out by the 
Pennamites in the following November. From Farming- 
ton he returned to Wyoming in 1772, and was in the Gay- 
lord blockhouse in the Plymouth settlement during the 
massacre of July 3, 1778. There were other settlers with 
names identical with those of Farmington men of the 
time, but whether they were the same has not been clearly 
proved. 

In 1786 Connecticut ceded to the United States the 
western part of the land claimed under the charter of 1662, 



i8 

reservino-, as the basis of her school fund, what now con- 
stitutes the ten northeastern counties of Ohio, and also 
reserving, for the benefit of the Connecticut towns burned 
by the British, the so-called " Fire Lands," now the coun- 
ties of Erie and Huron lying next west. The whole re- 
served land was described as the "land lying east of a 
line 1 20 miles west of and parallel with the western 
boundary line of the state of Pennsylvania." The 
land was sold by a committee of one from each of 
the eight counties of Connecticut, John Treadwell 
of this town, afterwards Governor Treadwell, being 
first on the list. Thirty-six men who afterwards or- 
ganized the Connecticut Land Company, purchased the 
three millions of acres for $1,200,000. The share of 
Major William Judd of this town was $16,256, and that 
of Gen. Solomon Cowles was $10,000. To this land of 
promise came Farmington pioneers — Samuel Tillotson, 
Rollin Button, Lewis B. Bradley, Gad Hart, Daniel Wood- 
ruff, Rev. Ephraim Treadwell Woodruff, first pastor of 
the church in Wayne, and I know not how many more. 
Still further west in Kaskaskia, Judge Alfred Cowles, 
brother of the late venerable Egbert Cowles, settled in 
1823 as a lawyer, his first stopping-place in his western 
journeyings. He was active in the anti-slavery fight at 
Alton, and later on practiced law in Chicago and San 
Francisco, and at length celebrated his one hundredth 
birthday at San Diego, July 7, 1887. 

There were others who left the old home besides those 
who traveled with their families in the big ox-wagons. 
Young men tired of the monotony and restraints of this 
happy valley, and, hoping to better their fortunes, began 
to travel over the South and West. Their letters home 
show how the unusual manners and morals of the new 
world appeared to them, and how soon their own opinions 
of many things were changed. From a great variety 
of letters we have time to make a few selections in illus- 
tration from those of one young man only. In October, 



19 

i8i6, he left a commercial house in New York and a sal- 
ary of $350 to travel in its interest. After a voyage of 
seven days in a terrible gale, he arrived at Norfolk, Vir- 
ginia, from which place he writes : " I was invited to 
dine and take tea with a gentleman to whom I had letters 
of introduction. I did myself the honor to attend, and 
was treated with the greatest hospitality. His wife was 
a lady of about thirty years of age, and highly accom- 
plished, played charmingly on the forte piano and harp, 
and, in fact, was about as elegant a woman as I ever saw. 
They live in great style, and have about 15 or 20 negroes 
in the house. They have a fine plantation up in the 
country, where they live in the summer. They were 
quite inquisitive respecting the customs and habits of the 
northern people, and were much surprised at my relation 
respecting them. The people have very little regard for 
the Sabbath, Bible, or religion." He writes from Peters- 
burg, November 17th, on his way to Richmond : " I have 
been now two weeks in Virginia, and have seen a consid- 
erable part of the country, but do not like it much. The 
general state of society here is wretched, and as respects 
morality, it is known in this state only by name. This 
day being Sunday, there is a large party engaged before 
the house where I am now writing in playing ball, fight- 
ing, halloing, swearing, and making every other kind of 
noise that their ingenuity and the whisky they have 
drunk prompts them to " Five weeks afierward he writes 
from the same place : "I have spent my time very agree- 
ably, and am more pleased with the place and inhabitants." 
January 25th sees him still in Petersburg, about starting 
for Kaskaskia, Illinois Territory, having just returned 
from a six days visit to Norfolk, where he had a good 
time as before. " I was six days in Norfolk, and was 
treated with great hospitality by my acquaintances there, 
and attended two splendid parties. At one of them tea 
was brought in about dark, and was carried round in the 
same manner as you do in Connecticut. After tea the 



20 

ladies and gentlemen played whist till about 9 o'clock, 
when a fiddler was called and cotillions and country 
dances were performed till i or 2 o'clock, when the party 
adjourned. There were about twenty ladies present. 
During the evening we were regaled with the best of 
wine, cherry rum, apples, filberts, raisins, peaches in 
brandy, almonds, and every kind of foreign fruit that I 
think of. At about 1 1 we sat down to an excellent cold 
collation. Some of the ladies were very communicative 
and polite, and not so reserved as the northern girls. 
They converse very handsomely, and have, in general, 
received a very good education." His description of 
Williamsburgh. through which he passed, would answer 
as well for the present day. " It has formerly been quite a 
handsome town, but is now falling into decay in conse- 
quence of the seat of government having been removed to 
Richmond. The ancient college of William and Alary is 
in this place, where many of our first men have been edu- 
cated In the yard of the college is a handsome 

marble statue erected in honor of Lord Bottetourt, one of 
the former governors of Virginia." On the 12th of Feb- 
ruary he had arrived in Pittsburg, having stopped a day 
in Washington to call on Mr. Pitkin, the member of Con- 
gress from this state and town. At Pittsburg he found the 
Ohio river frozen over and had to wait until about the 
first of March. On the 9th of April he writes from Kas- 
kaskia: " I arrived in this place about 8 or 10 days since, 
after a thirty days passage from Pittsburg. ... I came 
down the Ohio in a keel boat and stopped at a number 
of very handsome towns as I passed down, as Marietta^ 
Cincinnati, Louisville, etc. The prospect is beautiful as 
you descend the river. I also passed through Vevay, a 
small town in Indiana which is inhabited by Swiss, who pay 
great attention to the grape and manufacture a great deal 
of wine, some of which I tasted." Of the fertile prairie 
lands all around him he speaks in the manner of the spies 
on their return from the promised land. No wonder the 



21 

delvers among the stony hillsides of Connecticut made 
haste for this western paradise. Here he remained until 
about the first of October, preparing the goods he was to 
take down the river, and hunting all sorts of game, with 
which the woods abounded. With western manners and 
morals, as before with southern, he was fast becoming ac- 
quainted. " Dancing is very fashionable in this place, par- 
ticularly with the French, who indulge themselves almost 
every night in this amusement. There are no Moral Soci- 
eties to rail against the innocent amusements." To his 
sister he writes : " In your last you make some inquiries 
how 1 passed my time on Sunday. There is no established 
church in the place except the French, and we commonly 
feel no great disposition to attend that, nor has there been 
any preaching since I have been here, and it is very sel- 
dom that there is any. When the weather is fine Sun- 
days we commonly ride out on hunting expeditions or 
fishing, or, in fact, anything to amuse ourselves and drive 
away time, or sometimes we are employed in taking care 
of peltries, selling merchandise, posting books, etc., etc. 
We are troubled with no grand juror's spies, tything-men, 
etc., every man following the dictates of his own con- 
science." November 3d sees him in Baton Rouge, on the 
way to New Orleans. " I shall proceed there tomorrow, 
and from there I shall go on to New York as soon as I can 
dispose of the property I have in charge. . . . If I am 
fortunate I shall be in New York about the 25th of De- 
cember." Kaskaskia was a favorite gathering-place for 
Farmington youths. Here were coming and going at or 
about this time, Edward Cowles, Erastus Scott, Alfred 
Cowles, Thomas Mather, John W. Mix, William Gleason, 
and doubtless others. All the way from Connecticut to 
New Connecticut Farmington men could be found. A 
prominent townsman of many years ago who had peddled 
tinware through the South in the days when stories of 
wooden nutmegs were rife, asserted that he had made 
a journey without expense to the Western Reserve and 



'>'> 



back, finding acquaintances at every stopping-place happy 
to barter hospitality for news from their old homes. 
Whatever we may think of such economy, we are re. 
minded of the great numbers who had gone from the old 
village. 

Besides the broad West there was another outlet for 
the superlluous energy of the village. Much Farmington 
capital and some men were engaged in seal voyages. 
Starting from New Haven, they proceeded to the Falk- 
land Islands, thence to the island of South Georgia, thence 
around Cape Horn to the island of Juan Fernandez, sup- 
posed to have been the home of Robinson Crusoe, and 
thence to Massafuera. Here they were accustomed to 
leave a part of their crew to catch seals, returning for 
them in about two years and taking with them the seals 
captured on some previous voyage. They touched next 
at the Sandwich Islands on their way to Canton. Here 
they exchanged their sealskins for tea, silks, nankeens, 
and china ware, and then touching at Calcutta, made their 
way home around the Cape of Good Hope. The history 
of vSome of the voyages has been minutely told, but how 
much our townsmen had to do with any particular voyage 
is uncertain. The ledgers of Elijah Cowles & Co., sold 
for old paper, might have told, and the records of the New 
Haven custom house certainly would, but during the recent 
stir in the matter of French Spoliations they were shipped 
to Washington as evidence, and are inaccessible to the or- 
dinary investigator. A few glimpses come to us from other 
sources. David Catlin, a young man about town and a 
favorite in Fannington society, writes from the island of 
South (Georgia to his friend Horace Cowles, then a student 
in Yale College. He left New York May 28th, 1800. 
crossed the equator on the fourth of July, celebrated both 
the cro.ssing and the day with the usual ceremonies, 
stopped at sundry ports duly recorded, arrived at the Bay of 
St. George September 5th, stayed two months while build- 
ing a shallop of 28 tons, and arrived at the island of South 



23 

Georgia December 17th, where lie found seventeen sail of 
American and English ships. We must omit his descrip- 
tion of the island, which you can read of elsewhere, and 
also the poetry he'wrote on the voyage for the entertain- 
ment of his scholastic friend. We have also the original 
agreement of a crew signed at Massafuera April i, 1803, 
in which many details of the business are set forth, and 
in which the crew agrees to remain two years and catch 
seals. The profits were divided about January, 1807, by 
Esquire John Mix at his office here. The ships Oneida 
and Huron were the most frequentl}' mentioned in Farm- 
ington correspondence. The former carried sixteen guns 
and the latter twenty, for use, if necessary, against the 
Spaniards in Patagonia. These voyages began about the 
year 1796, and ended with the commencement of Jeffer- 
son's embargo, in December, 1807. 

Farmington letters of the last century have much to say 
of ships fitted out by the merchants of this village at Mid- 
dletown, New London, and New Haven, and sometimes 
stopping on their way at all three places. I once bought at 
a book auction in Boston what purported to be an import- 
ant work on Farmington. It cost me twenty-five cents, 
and turned out to be the " Ship Book for the Brigantine 
Mary, September 10. 1792. 3/8 belonging to Solomon 
Cowles Jr. & Co., 3/8 belonging to John & C. Deming, 
1/4 to Capt. Amon Langdon Master." It contains a 
minute account of the cargo, from numerous horses down 
to one quire of paper. An account of five other voyages 
follows, the value of the cargoes varying from ^^677 to 

An account of one more exodus from the village must 
complete the story. When gold was found in California, 
Farmington, too, had her Forty-niners w^ho went around 
the Horn, and in due time returned not much poorer than 
they went, but rich in a fund of stories which lasted the 
rest of their lives. But it is not of them I would speak. 
A Farmington man, born in the Eastern Farms and edu- 



24 

cated at the Farmington Academy and at Yale College, 
Dr. Joseph Washburn Clark, with a party of settlers jour- 
neyed across the plains to California in the spring of 
1.S50. A relative writes: " He never traveled on Sunday; 
whatever danger of Indians there might be, the wagons 
belonging to his party always stopped on Sunday, letting 
the rest of the train push on in their eagerness to reach 
California ; and it always came out that his teams, re- 
freshed by a day's rest, overtook the train before the next 
Sabbath." A quarter of a century of labor and honor, 
with sufficient wealth, awaited him in California. 

Such have been some of the principal removals from 
the old center of Farmington. The tide has at length begun 
to turn. New names are fast taking the place of the old. 
But twelve of the surnames of the old Eighty-four Pro- 
prietors remain with us, while almost every state in 
the Union has its Farmington. I trust there are still 
enough descendants of the men of old left to take some 
interest in this too long rehearsal of matters fast fading 
from the memory of our people. 



fl^^J^i^ c4-a 'SXL^ <M.c^Ua^ 



APPENDIX. 



SOCIAL LIFE IN FARMINGTON EARLY IN THE 

CENTURY. 

By Julius GA^• of Farmington. 

[The following article was prepared at my special request by Mr. Julius 
Gay of Farmington, a gentleman of fine education and of great intelligence in 
all matters of local and state history. I am sure it will very much interest the 
readers of my book. It is of special pertinence to these reminiscences, as Far- 
mington is my native place and it depicts the social life into which I was born 
and in which I was reared. I have appended a few short notes, generally 
enlarging a little from my personal recollection some of the points spoken of 
by Mr. Gay. 

The Edward Hooker, from whose journal of that time Mr. Gay makes 
several extracts, was my father. He kept a minute daily journal from the 
time of his graduation at Yale College in 1S05 to about 1825, covering the 
period of his residence in South Carolina, his two years' tutorship at Yale, 
his marriage and the birth of two of his children (the second being myself), 
and the time of his taking young men to prepare them for college. The jour- 
nal is an almost inexhaustible mine of materials for the study of the people 
and habits of that time. J. H.] 

The present village of Farmington, the original center of the 
old town which once e:jftended from Simsbury on the north to 
Cheshire on the sonth, and from the river towns of Hartford and 
Wethersfield westward beyond the Burlington mountain range, 
occupies about the same ground as the village of the Revolution. 
On the site of LTnionville the tavern of Solomon Langdon stood 
almost alone on the forest trail which led to Litchfield and far-off 
Albany. Plainville, then known as the "Great Plain," had only 
a few scattered houses, while Avon, Bristol, Burlington, and 
Southington, though parts of the town when the revolution 
began, were separate communities, having meeting-houses and a 
social life of their own. The dwellers on the rich alluvial soil 
along the Farmington River were industrious and prosperous. 
The horrors of Indian warfare came all around them and left them 
unharmed. The only revolutionary armies which marched 
through their streets were the friendly troops of Rochambeau. 
21 



3 1 4 REMINISCENCES. 

At the close of the war the one or two stores on the main street 
.ijave place to a dozen or more that supplied the wants of the 
numerous villages springing up to the westward. Their owners 
began to import their own goods from the West Indies and even 
from far-otr China. From Middletown they shipped to the West 
Indies, in their own vessels, oxen, cows, beef, pork, flour, corn, 
and all manner of farm products, until the breaking out of the 
war between England and France in 1792 let loose the French 
privateers on their unprotected commerce and gave rise to the 
still unsettled "French Spoliation Claims." Later on from 1800 
to 1806 much Farmington capital was invested in trade with China; 
in the ship Sally, Capt. Storer ; the Huron, Capt. Moulthrop; the 
Oneida, Capt. Brintnall, and other ships, usually with a Farming- 
ton supercargo. Along with the ships sailed young men of the 
village seeking more stirring adventures than the quiet streets of 
their native village afforded.* Their letters home from Canton, 
the islands of the South Atlantic and South Pacific, then first 
explored by adventurous navigators, gave brilliant pictures of 
foreign travel when life was young and every scene a surprise. 
We have letters from the Falkland Islands oflf the east coast 
of Patagonia, from South Georgia some seven hundred miles 
eastward, and several from Massafuera just west of Juan Fer- 
nandes. At these places they captured large numbers of seals, 
making up cargoes of sealskins, on one voyage at least, 13,025, 
which were sold in Canton for ninety-five cents each, and the 
proceeds invested in silks, nankeens, tea, and china ware. Then, 
after circumnavigating the globe, the adventurers sailed back to 
New Haven, and the wealthy owners divided the spoils. So 
Farmington, for one generation, grew rich and took on luxurious 
habits. President Porter, in his discourse of 1872, says, " The old 
meeting-house began to rustle with silks and to be gay with rib- 



* Among these sailors was my uncle, James Hooker, an older brother of 
my father, of whom I give some account in a note at the foot of page 317. I 
remember well Captain Mix (a son of Squire Mix, a leading citizen of the 
town), who used to walk about the streets in his blue jacket, with the tradi- 
tional gait of an old sailor. He was then but a middle-aged man, but was of 
intemperate habits, and as I understood lost for that reason his place as a ship 
master under the Cowles Brothers. I was a small boy when he died. Life on 
the sea seems at that time to have been a school of intemperance. It became 
the vice not merely of the forecastle, but of the cabin. It made a great 
change in this respect when the daily allowance of grog to each sailor was 
wholly discontinued, as it was by 1830. J. H. 



A PPENDIX. 



315 



bons. The lawyers wore silk and velvet breeches, broadcloth 
took the place of homespun for coat and overcoat ; and corduroy 
displaced leather for breeches and pantaloons. As the next cen- 
tury opened, pianos were heard in the best houses, thundering 
out the ' Battle of Prague ' as a tour de force, and the gayest of 
gigs and the most ostentatious of phaetons rolled through the 
village. Houses were built with dancing halls for evening gayety , 
and the most liberal hospitality, recommended by the best of 
cookery, was dispensed at sumptuous dinners and suppers." At 
this rapid increase of wealth and luxury. Gov. Treadwell sounds 
a note of warning. " The young ladies," he says, "are changing 
their spinning-wheels for forte-pianos, and forming their manners 
at the dancing school rather than in the school of industry. Of 
course the people are laying aside their plain apparel manufac- 
tured in their houses, and clothing themselves with European 
and India fabrics. Labor is growing into disrepute, and the 
time when the independent farmer and reputable citizen could 
whistle at the tail of his plough with as much serenity as the cob- 
bler over his last, is fast drawing to a close. The present time 
marks a revolution of taste and of manners of immense impor- 
tance to society, but while others glory in this as a great advance- 
ment in refinement, we cannot help dropping a tear at the close 
of the golden age of our ancestors, while with a pensive pleasure 
we reflect on the past, and with suspense and apprehension 
anticipate the future." Good Deacon Samuel Richards also 
exclaims, " The halcyon days of New England are past. The 
body of the people are putting off rigidity in habits and morals." 
One of the first results of increasing wealth was a desire for a 
better education for their children than the district school afforded. 
Already, in 1792, Miss Sally Pierce had established her famous 
school in Litchfield under the patronage of Chief Justice Tapping 
Reeve, Gov. Wolcott, Col. Tallmadge, and other distinguished 
men, probably the first female seminary in America. Here were 
sent the young ladies of this village until the Farmington Acad- 
emy was established. E. D.Mansfield, LL.D.,* once connected 



* Edward D. Mansfield, here mentioned, was born in New Haven in iSoi, 
prepared for college with my father, graduated at Princeton College in 1822, 
studied law in Litchfield, settled in Cincinnati, where he was elected professor 
of constitutional law in Cincinnati College in 1836, soon after leaving that 
position for journalism, in which he continued the rest of his life. He died in 
1880. He was the author of several books. His "Personal Memories" was 
published in 1879. 



3i6 



REMINISCENCES. 



with the " Old Red College " of Mr. Edward Hooker of this vil- 
lage, gives us in his " Personal Memories " an outside view of the 
school as it appeared a few years later, on his first visit to Litch- 
field. " One of the first objects which struck my eyes was inter- 
esting and picturesque. This was a long procession of school 
girls coming down North street, walking imder the lofty elms, 
and moving to the music of a flute and flageolet. The girls were 
gayly dressed and evidently enjoying their evening parade in this 
most balmy season of the year. It was the school of Miss Sally 
Pierce, one of the earliest and best of the pioneers in American 
female education. That scene has never faded from my mem- 
ory. The beauty of nature, the loveliness of the season, the sud- 
den appearance of this school of girls, all united to strike and 
charm the mind of a young man, who, however varied his experi- 
ence, had never beheld a scene like that." He was about to enter 
the Litchfield Law School, a famous institution which gathered 
numerous brilliant young men, especially from the south. Their 
proximity might have been a disturbing element in the quiet of 
the young lady's school had Miss Pierce lacked the wisdom to 
manage discreetly what would have ruined a weaker administra- 
tion. The young men were allowed to call on certain evenings, 
but woe to the man who transgressed ever so slightly the laws of 
strict decorum. To be denied admission to Miss Sally Pierce's 
parlor was the deepest disgrace which could befall a young man. 

A school girl writes home that a " Mr. L was very attentive 

to Miss N of Farmington, and gazed at her so much that it 

mortified Miss N , and Miss Sally spoke to him, and he has 

not been in the house since March." It was only after much cor- 
respondence and penitence that Mr. L was reinstated. On 

leaving the school each girl was expected to bring home to her 
admiring parents some evidence of proficiency in her studies. 
Those who could, exhibited elaborate water color drawings which 
have ever since hung on the walls of Farmington parlors. Others 
less gifted were advised to paint their family coat of arms, and, 
if they had never heard of any, they soon learned how all this 
could be managed without any correspondence wdth the Herald's 
College. One Nathan Ruggles, who advertised in the Connecti- 
cut Courant, "at his Looking Glass and Picture Store, Main 
Street, opposite the State House, city of Hartford,"' had somehow 
come in possession of the huge folio volume of " Edmonson's 
Complete Body of Heraldry," and allowed anyone to select from 



APPENDIX. 317 

its vast assortment of heraldic monsters, " Gorgons and Hydras 
and Chimeras dire," such as suited his taste. His sole charge 
was the promise of being employed to frame the valuable work 
when done. I have seen several of these devices which were 
brought home from Litchfield, some done in water colors and 
some in embroidery, with combinations of color which would 
make a herald stare. They had, however, just as good right to 
them as ninety-nine out of a hundred of the families who flaunt 
coat armor and pictures of English castles, and all that in their 
published genealogies. Nathan Ruggles, who was in a measure 
responsible for all this spurious heraldry, came to an untimely 
end. We read in the Connecticut Coiirant that in a private dis- 
play of fireworks at his house, the whole suddenly exploded and 
brought his heraldic career to an all too brilliant conclusion. 
Miisic was not a specialty of Miss Pierce, and so the Farmington 
young ladies were removed to the school of Mr. Woodbridge in 
Middletown, where a piano was procured for their use, and instruc- 
tion was given them by a Mr. Birkenhead. One of them writes, 
•■ My Papa has just informed me that I might go to Middletown 
this summer to school with my cousin Fanny. I am so strongly 
attached to my native place that it is not without regret that I 
leave it ; from the calm scenes of pleasure into a busy crowd of 
extravagant people. I have been warned of my danger. My 
Mamma is something unwilling I should go, for fear that the 
pleasures of the world and its fashionable enjoyments will gain 
an ascendency over me and raise ambitious views and lead me 
into the circle of an unthinking crowd." Two years afterward 
she is sent to New York to continue her musical studies and 
writes, " Had a long passage here ; no female kind on board with 
us, but plenty of male, . . . and above all was Mr. Wollstone- 
craft, brother to the famous Mary Godwin, author of the ' Rights 
of Women.' He was a very good looking man, conversed hand- 
somely, and was, to appearance, of great information. He 
informed me that his sister died two years ago. ... I have 
seen him once since we came here. He is an officer in the army 
stationed at New York." By Mary Godwin she refers to the 
mother of the future wife of the poet Shelley. 

The first piano in town of which I find mention was bought by 
Gen. Solomon Cowles, probably in 1798 or 1799. In November 
6, 1799, ^is niece writes, "Wednesday . . . Came to Uncle 
Solomon's to hear the music, piano and bass-viol and three voices. 



3i8 



kEMINISCENCES. 



. . From there to Mr. Chauncey Deming's to see their new- 
piano, which is a very good one. It has ten more keys than 
Fanny's." A piano was bought about this time by Zenas Cowles, 
and these three pianos were probably the only ones in town for 
several years.* As for the style of music rehearsed on these 
instruments, we read: "Wednesday eve. Mr. Birkenhead had a 
benefit at Gridley's and his pupils played, all except Nabby 
Deming and myself. He wished me to play, but as I did not 
sing I thought it not best. Fanny played much the best, and 
sung extremely well, indeed. The tunes she played were ' The 
Shipwreck," 'The Tear,' and ' The Bud of the Rose.' Dr. Todd, 
I. Norton, and Larcon were there with their instruments. After 



* When I was a small boy my father purchased a piano for my sister, three 
years older than myself. There were at that time but few pianos in the village, 
and they had not ceased to be curiosities, and to be regarded as extrava- 
gances. My father was very fond of music, and began at once to amuse 
himself with the piano, though he never became an expert player. I often 
heard him for an hour at the piano after we had all gone to bed, and he not in- 
frequently spent an hour over it at midnight when he happened to have a 
wakeful night. My uncle James, whom I have spoken of on page 27 as his 
wayward brother, whose intemperate habits compelled my father to relinquish 
his settled plan of going into the practice of law in Columbia, So. Car., with 
his brother John (see page 237), and to settle in Farmington and take the family 
farm and the care of his father and mother, was then living with the old 
people at Farmington, and, upon the death of my grandfather, came into our 
family. My father was the youngest member of the family, and the only one 
(besides James) who was not settled in life. My uncle James. I remember well, 
in all my childhood. He lived to be 67. He had been a sailor under the 
Cowles Brothers, and had spent a few yeare on the sea. He there acquired 
the common habit of sailors of taking their daily grog, as well as a familiar 
use of their picturesque and often very emphatic language. He had been a 
bright boy, and through life was very fond of sitting all day in his room 
and reading. He had very positive views of social matters, and greatly dis- 
liked the introduction in our homespun village of pianos and extravagance. I 
have often seen him terribly irritated by my sister's inartistic practice upon 
it, and remember his once saying, as we stood in the yard, with the noise 

from it coming through the open window, "There goes again that d d 

eternal jewsharp." His death was preceded by a long typhoid fever, during 
which my father watched over and nursed him night and day, feeling, I think, 
that he had been too impatient with him in his "often infirmity." When at 
last, at the end of several weeks, he died, my father at once went to bed in 
complete exhaustion, and died in four days. He was but 61, and ought to have 
lived twenty years longer. Thus was wasted the life of one of the brightest 
of the family, and more than wasted, since in going down it carried with it the 
life of my father, one of the best and most useful of men.— J. H. 



APPENDIX. 319 

the playing was finished the company danced two figures, and 
George [afterward Gen. George] danced a hornpipe. Came 
home at twelve o'clock." 

And now with the young men, some in college and some in 
Canaan Academy, and the girls in Litchfield or Middletown, what 
sort of schools had they left behind them? As good as those of 
our neighbors, and as much better as the lifelong labors of Gov. 
Treadwell could make them. Two or three young misses, just 
beginning to write letters, thus inform their dignified cousin at 
Yale: "Mr. Lee," that is, Matthew Lee, the teacher, "says that 
the girls make more disturbance than all the rest of the school. I 
learn Geography but not Grammar, because Mr. Lee says he does 
not understand English Grammar." Eight months afterwards 
our collegian is informed — "We have got a good schoolmaster. 
His name is Gordon Johnson. You must be a good boy, and 
learn as fast as you can." A year later we learn that — "Mr. 
Nathan North keeps our school. He boards at our house. Mr. 
North has between thirty and forty scholars in his school." It 
was visited on the last day of the year by Gov. Treadwell, Major 
Hooker, Rev. Mr. Washburn, Deacon Bull, Col. Isaac Cowles, and 
Gen. Solomon Cowles. Imagine these ponderous dignitaries 
sitting around the blazing log fire on that winter's day. I will 
warrant there was no want of decorum in school that day, on the 
girls' side or anywhere else. What hard questions they put does 
not appear. Probably Messrs. Washburn, Treadwell, and Bull 
could hardly have failed to inquire, "What is the chief end of 
man ? " One lively miss writes, " They praised us very much, and 
if I was sure you would not think I was proud, I would tell you 
that my writing was judged the best in school. " Good penman- 
ship was considered of the first importance, and was the one 
qualification most insisted on in the examination of teachers. 
Nathan North, sitting at his desk one winter's day after school 
was out, writes to a friend — " It is six o'clock, and I am at my 
schoolhouse writing in the dark. Oh wretched man that I am, 
because I can write no better." 

But enough of schools. The intellectual life of the middle 
aged found exercise in the several debating and literary societies 
of the day. The Social Club, The Union Society, The Weekly 
Meeting, and I know not how many others. The latter comes 
into being January 15, 1772, with this ponderous preamble : " It 
has been justly observed in all ages that vice increases when 




320 REMINISCENCES. 

learning is on the decline, and, on the contrary, when useful 
learning flourishes, it in some measure excludes vice and im- 
morality ; and we, the subscribers, sensible of the prevalence of 
vice and the low state useful learning is in among us," etc., etc. 
We learn, however, that after a few weeks this meeting joined 
the Social Club, under different regulations. A series of fourteen 
essays written by Amos Wadsworth for these clubs, beginning 
with the year 1772, and as many more by his brother Fenn, have 
come down to us. The subjects, many of them, show the theo- 
logical bias of the age. Some of them were — " Conscience, 
whether it be lawful to follow its dictates in all cases ; " " Infant 
Baptism vindicated; " " Extorted Promises not binding; " " Beasts 
not rational; " " Enslaving Negroes vindicated; " " Origin of Civil 
Society;" "The Sabbath Evening must be kept holy;" "Theft 
ought not to be punishable with death;" "The duty of unre- 
generate men to pray; " " The Supreme Magistrate not to be re- 
sisted;" "The Powers of Congress." The club sometimes also 
dropped into poetry. They have left us a "Song to Sylvia," in 
six verses, with much about love and tvirtle dove, the nightingale 
and amorous tale, and other interesting matters. I speak of these 
clubs as being the progenitors of those of the next two genera- 
tions with which our subject is more immediately concerned, in 
which other topics are discussed, and when thought begins to 
take a broader range. In 1813 we hear of the "Moral Society." 
Mr. Hooker records — "Thursday, Sept. 9. Evening. Attended 
the 'Moral Society,' when the conversation was chiefly on the 
means of resisting the vice of profane swearing." The next 
week the society conversed " on the use of ardent spirits at the 
meetings of people for business." At other meetings they dis- 
cussed colonization for the negro, paper money, and other topics 
of a political nature, until the one member who looked upon 
slavery as a divine ordinance came to denounce the Moral 
Society and all effort to interfere with the morals of the com- 
munity or the nation as odious, comparing them with the in- 
quisition of Spain and the system of espionage in the time of 
Bonaparte. A more genial body of men was the " Conversation 
Club," which met weekly at the houses of the members and dis- 
cussed a wide range of topics. The principal members were 
Doctors Todd and Thomson, Mr. Goodman, principal of the 
academy, Egbert Cowles, Alfred Cowles, George Robinson, 
Nathaniel Olmsted, and sometimes other prominent men. Mr. 



APPENDIX. 321 

Hooker almost always attended, and wrote in his diary an ab- 
stract of the subjects considered, and the diverse opinions of each 
of the members. We have space for only the most meagre 
account of these most interesting discussions. They conversed 
on the penitentiary system; to what extent it is desirable that the 
benefits of education be diffused among the mass of people ; on 
poor laws; on the expediency of further and greater encourage- 
ment being given to the manufacturing interests of the United 
States; on the distribution of the public school money of Connec- 
ticut; on the assessment of property, and on other questions 
mostly of public utility. There were also monthly meetings of 
the village library company, in which they discussed the merits of 
new books, and Mr. Hooker records the talk at length. The 
comparative value of the " Commentaries " of Clarke and Scott 
and Gov. Treadwell's criticism of "Johnson's Lives of the Poets," 
especially interested them. The ladies, too, had a society known 
as the Female Society, for aiding in the education of pious 
youth for the ministry. By far the most interesting conversa- 
tions recorded by Mr. Hooker are those which he himself held 
with the good people of the village in his daily walks among 
them, and which he recorded at length when he returned at 
night, revealing what Farmington society most cared for, and 
giving some insight into its culture and intellectual breadth. We 
can give but glimpses of it. He says — ' ' In the afternoon moralized 
with Mr. Chauncey Deming at his store about an hour .... 
He entertained me with some description of the manners that 
prevailed thirty or forty years ago. He says that more expense 
is bestowed on the bringing up of one youth than was formerly 
bestowed on twenty. Young fellows would often, perhaps gen- 
erally, go to meeting without stockings and shoes in the summer 
till they were fourteen or fifteen years old. Not more than 
twenty-eight years ago the girls would attend balls with checkered 
aprons on, and he has many a time gone to a ball with Dema (his 
wife) attired in that way." Again — " Made a call of an hour or 
two at Chauncey Deming's. Conversed on his favorite theme, 
the selfishness of the human character." With Gov. Tread well 
he converses on the common origin of mankind, on foreign 
missions, on Johnson's "Lives of the Poets," and on the sudden 
growth of Farmington opulence; and with Capt. Seymour on the 
most profitable mode of reading. With President Dwight he 
" walked very leisurely, and conversed on various topics, but 



322 REMINISCENCES. 

mostly on matrimony," he being particularly interested in that 
subject at that time. One afternoon he calls at Mr. Pitkin's, who 
was busy with some law business, "so Mrs. Pitkin said she must 
be imceremonious enough to ask me into the room where were 
her friends, Mrs. L. and Mrs. M., seated by a good fire and very 
social. The conversation turned on the reasoning power of 
brutes, catching rats, suicide, and various other things." Riding 
home from Hartford with Mrs. Pitkin, they discourse on the 
utility of newspapers, on the belittling nature of the ordinary 
strifes among men for village distinction, on the character of 
some public men, especially of John Randolph, and on the 
Quakers of Philadelphia, among whom Mrs. Pitkin had visited. 
Soon after Dr. Porter's settlement here, after noting all his 
wanderings for the day, he says, " Walked to the Rev. Mr. Porter's 
and spent the evening. There was quite a large assemblage, 
more than a dozen in number. Mrs. Washburn and her sister, 
Misses Charity Cowles, C. Mix, C. Deming, Mary Ann Cowles, 
Mary Treadwell, Maria Washburn, and Messrs. Porter, G. Norton, 
Camp, T. Cowles, W. L. Cowles, T. Root, and Egbert Cowles. 
The evening was spent in mixed conversation and singing, and 
the company was treated with cider and walnuts. The subjects 
of conversation were the Rev. Mr. Huntington's dismission, the 
character of the Philadelphia clergy and those of New York, the 
state of piety in the cities of New York and Charleston, the 
Southern Baptists, and numerous other topics suited to the time 
and place." Of all the conversations which he so laboriou.sly 
reported, none can begin to compare for clearness of thought, 
breadth of range, liberality of sentiment, and nobility of heart and 
mind, with those of Dr. Eli Todd. He says— "Dr. Todd is 
hardly willing to rank the pleasures of music with those of sense, 
for he thinks them intimately connected with the best affections 
of the heart. At least he believes this pleasure never exists in a 
high degree except when so connected. When in Trinidad he 
daily saw a tiger of prodigious fierceness confined in a cage, so 
rapacious that if a piece of meat were put to him he would 
instantly tear it into shreds. He played airs on a flute by the 
cage day after day, and the beast every day seemed less wild, till 
in a short time he would purr like a cat and roll and rub and be 
apparently the subject of inexpressible delight." An experience 
which may have profited the doctor in his new and kindly methods 
of treating the insane in after life. Again he discourses on " the 



APPENDIX. 323 

state of society in Farmington, the causes and consequences of 
the particular form which its character takes, and on earthquakes 
and meteors." On another occasion he talks on the "subject of 
expensive rural embellishments in reference to Daniel Wads- 
worth's country seat, and discussed whether it be justifiable to 
expend one's superfluous wealth in such a way, or in the expensive 
gratification of a taste for the fine arts. He argued for the 
affirmative, and insisted that the rich have a right to gratifications 
as well as the poor." Again he conversed " on those peculiarities 
of character which mark a simple state of society, holding that a 
high cultivation of the intellect, if not a part of virtue, is neces- 
sary to give to virtue its highest degree of beauty and loveliness, 
and on whether a state of society devoted to the rural interest or to 
commerce is to be preferred." Again he discourses " on the kind 
and degree of evidence by which the Christian revelation is sup- 
ported," and "on the effects of ardent spirits, and on the threat- 
ening danger to the country from the prevalent use of them. " 

The dangers of intemperance to the State were only just be- 
ginning to force themselves on the attention of thinking men. 
Deacon Bull, writing an account of the town to be used by Gov. 
Treadwell in his "Statistical History of Farmington." under the 
head of vices does not once allude to intemperance. He says : 
" The number and kind of vices in the town are too many for the 
compass of my ability to find out or enumerate ; however, there is 
nothing in this respect distinguishable from other towns of the 
same age, numbers, and experience. In particular, card-playing 
and profane swearing are the most prominent vices of the town. 
The inhabitants, in general, are industrious, sober, and peaceable." 

While the men amused themselves with their clubs, moral or 
conversational, the ladies read at home whatever books came in 
their way. He who will, may examine the records of the village 
library and find charged to them the works of Jonathan Edwards 
and other books which are not often called for in the library of 
to-day, and whose titles are as unfamiliar to us as most of those 
we read will be to our children. One devourer of books writes in 
her diary: " Yesterday, which was Monday, I went to Hartford 
in the stage with Miss Sally Pierce. . . . Bought a couple of 
books, — ' Wilberforce's View,' 6/, and ' Memoirs of Miss Susanna 
Anthony,' 3/6 ; the former, Miss Pierce advised me to purchase." 
We hear no more of Mr. Wilberforce and his " View," but, on leav- 
ing the school in Middletown, Mr. Woodbridge presented her with 



3 24 REM/iV/SCENCES. 

"Reflections on Death." Two Sundays afterwards she writes: 
"Attended meeting all day; read in 'Reflections on Death'; 
found it very interesting as well as instructive." Here is her ex- 
])erience with a famous novel she got from the library : " Thurs- 
day evening. Read in ' Sir Charles Grandison,' a novel I don't in- 
tend to read any more." But she did. Two weeks afterward she 
wrote: "Saturday. At home. Evening, read in 'Grandison.' 
Sunday. Stayed at home ; read in ' Grandison '; had a very bad 
pain in my head. Monday- . As usual. Evening. Read in ' Gran- 
dison.' " Two weeks later : " Went to Mr. Bull's ... to get 
the second volume of ' Grandison ' which I have read almost 
through." The Saturday following she writes : "Have been so 
much reading ' Grandison ' that other things have been neglected." 
This is the last we hear of Sir Charles. How any mortal could 
have waded through the one thousand nine hundred and thirty- 
three octavo pages of that famous book, even with skipping nine 
pages out of ten, is a mystery to all moderns. In the early days 
of the library, some one calling at Mr. Ezekiel Cowles's remarks : 
" Egbert is now reading the ' Lady of the Lake,' which seems to 
be a very fashionable book about here." 

Schools and music, debating clubs, books, and serious conver- 
sation filled up but a small part of the leisure hours of society. 
Five o'clock teas and evening parties assembling by invitation 
were not in vogue. Families were larger than now, and the 
young people from one house had but to join their cousins across 
the street to make the liveliest gatherings. Others dropped in, 
and, somewhere every night, there were dancing and music and 
games and hearty enjoyment. One favorite meeting-place on a 
summer evening was the long flight of stone steps which led from 
the street up to the ever hospitable door of Squire Mix. Another 
favorite locality involving a somewhat longer walk which some- 
times had its own attractions, was "The Maples." I think, but 
am not positive, that this must have been the familiar name of the 
residence of Gov. Treadwell, the little red house by the side of 
Poke Brook, near the great rock. Here are a few glimpses of 
these informal gatherings : "To Gen. Cowles's, where we found 
a lively little party engaged in a family dance, with a couple of 
negroes to play for them. Much affability and hilarity." Or, 
' ' All the ladies were at Mr. Norton's, and the gentlemen. We 
played ' Button.' I was mortified by a lad's handing me the but- 
ton twice following." Again: " Thursday we went to Fanny's. 



APPENDIX. 325 

All the girls were there, and, among the rest, ]Miss N H . 



Tim and Tim were there (afterward Major Timothy Cowles and 

Major Timothy Root). They proposed trying fortunes. N 

tried hers. (I'll tell you how we try them.) We take a glass and 
a ring and tie a string around the ring and hold it in the glass and 

let it strike the glass, and count A, B, C, etc. N's struck M 

C ." Much previous knowledge seems to have entered into 

this as into most fortune-telling, for soon afterward it was an- 
nounced from the pulpit that M — — C and N H in- 
tend marriage. Even the weekly prayer-meeting had its social 
side. Here female piety came to hear the teaching of the be- 
loved Washburn, and here, too, came young men not always of 
devout reputation. Until near the close of the ministry of Dr. 
Porter it was the fashion to seat the men on the right side of the 
hall in evening meetings and the women on the left, in the vain 
attempt to defy the strongest of nature's laws. When Dr. Porter 
began his ministry here, a young lady writes : "Mr. Porter ad- 
dressed the gentlemen and requested them to sit down and wait 
till the ladies were out of the hall. We arrived safely home with- 
out any escort, as the gentlemen, alas I could not overtake us. 
Mr. B got to us just as we crossed the street, after a long run- 
ning." In the winter evenings the young people amused them- 
selves with sleighrides. Commonly they drove to Southington, 
stopping at all the inns on the way — at least the boys did — and 
returning had a supper at Cook's in White Oak, and so home. 
Occasionally they rode to Solomon Langdon's, stopping, of course, 
at Thomson's by the way. Those old houses, Langdon's and 
Cook's, somber enough in our day, have probabh^ seen more of 
mirth and good cheer than any other two in town. Here ai-e a 
few specimens of a girl's experiences: " February 23, 1798, . . . 
We went to Mr. Jonathan Thomson's ; came back. Coming by 
the meeting-house, the bell rang [9 o'clock, of course]. Down to 
Mr. Dunham's we went ; stayed there about an hour, then down 
to Mr. Job Lewis's, then to Mr. Selah Lewis's. All abed. Came 
back to Mr. Dunham's. We stayed there about an hour longer. 
Got home about 2 o'clock. Got to bed and asleep about 3." One 
more account must suffice. On the day after Thanksgiving in 
1799 they planned a sleighride, but an inopportune rain carried 
oflf all the snow ; this, however, made no difference ; they went all 
the same. " Cleared off at noon ; took the stage and went out to 
Langdon's to dine. On the back seat were four, S , F , 



o^5 REMINISCENCES. 







B , and myself. Next N H , and D , and A- 

M , Next L , and M , N H , G . and M- 

Dick Gleason. negro, drove four horses. T C, T R- 



q^ , and S on horseback. Had a very good dinner, fried 

fowls, pies, chicken-pies, and cake. There was a live ow^ there, 
and after we got seated in the stage it was flung in, and then — 
what a screaming ! Set out to come home and the boys got w^hip- 
ping and running horses. Very muddy. You may depend I was 
frightened. The girls' white cloaks were covered with mud, and 
Sukey told me this afternoon she had been washing hers and 
could not get it out. In the evening went to the ball. Had a very 
good one. Thirteen ladies and about as many gentlemen." Fif- 
teen years later we have a picture of social life in Farmington by 
the same Mr. E. D. Mansfield, who gave us his impressions of the 
school of Miss Sally Pierce. He says: "In August, 1815, my 
father took me to Farmington, Conn., to prepare, under a private 
tutor, to enter college preparatory to the study of law. . 
As this was to me a new and striking life, I will give a little de- 
scription of it, chiefly for the sake of the inside view I had of New 
England society. My tutor, Mr. Hooker, was a descendant of 
one of the old New England families, and had all the characteris- 
tics of the Puritans ; was very religious and exact in all his duties. 
He lived on what had been a farm, but a portion of it had been 
embraced in the town. Having got forward in the world, he had 
built a new house. His old house was one of the oldest in the 
country, large, dark-red, with a long, sharp, projecting roof. This 
was the residence and schoolroom of the students, and we called 
it "Old Red." There were about fourteen of us, from nearly as 
many states. There we lodged and there we recited, while we 
took our meals at Mr. Hooker's. His son, John, afterward mar- 
ried Miss Isabella Beecher, now the noted Mrs. Isabella Hooker.* 
"Mr. Hooker was a deacon in the church — the church, I say, 
emphatically, for it was the only one in the village — a monument 
remaining to the old and unquestioned orthodoxy of New Eng- 
land. It stood on the little green, its high, sharp spire pointing 
to heaven. The pastor of that church was Mr. Porter, who 
preached there for nearly half a century [sixty years]. He was 
the father of the present Noah Porter, president of Yale College. 

* Mrs. Hooker's friends would hardly recognize her by this name, as she 
invariably writes her name Isabella Beecher Hooker. — J. H. 



APPENDIX. 327 

Mr. Hooker took a large pew for the students, and he told us to 
make notes of the sermon, upon which he questioned us. I was 
always thankful for this exercise, for I got into such a habit of an- 
alyzing discourses that, if the speaker had any coherence at all, I 
could always give the substance of the sermon or address. This 
is, to a newspaper man, a useful talent. I have tried to discover 
what was the religious effect of this continual hearing and analyz- 
ing sermons, but could not find any. Such exercises become a 
habit, and are purely intellectual. A striking figure is sometimes 
remembered, but any spiritual effect is wanting on young people 
who have not learned to think seriously. I remember one of Mr. 
Porter's illustrations of the idea of death, which I think he must 
have taken from Sir Walter Scott's 'Talisman.' At any rate 
Scott has beautifully described it in that work. It is that of Sala- 
din. who, in the midst of the most splendid fete, surrounded by 
his chiefs, had the black banner unfolded, on which was inscribed, 
' Saladin, remember thou must die ! ' Mr. Porter was more than 
half a century minister in that parish, and a most successful cler- 
gyman, honored in his life and in his death. Such was the minis- 
tration of the church to me, but I must say that in the service the 
chief objects of my devotiou were the bright and handsome girls 
around. At that time, and to a great degree yet in a New Eng- 
land village, out of the great stream of the world, its young 
women were the largest part of the inhabitants, and by far the 
most interesting. The young men usually emigrated to the cities 
of the West, in the hopes of making fortunes. The old people 
were obliged to remain to take care of the homesteads, and the 
young women stayed also. 

" No place illustrated this better than Farmington, where there 
were at least fitve young women to one young man. The advent 
of the students was, of course, an interesting event to them. And 
a young gentleman in his nineteenth year was not likely to escape 
wholly the bright shafts which, however modestly directed, he 
was sure to encounter. I soon became acquainted with these 
young ladies, and never passed a pleasanter time than when days 
of study were relieved by evenings in their society. My father 
went with me to Farmington and introduced me to the Hon. Tim- 
othy Pitkin. This gentleman was then a very distinguished man. 
He was one of the leading men of the old Federal party. He was 
sixteen years a representative from the State of Connecticut, and 
had written a very good book on the civil history and statistics of 



328 



KEMIAVSCENCES. 



this country. He was a plain man of the old school, living in an 
old-fashioned house near the church. In two or three weeks after 
I had been in ' Old Red,' Mr. Pitkin called upon me and said his 
daughters would be glad to see me on a certain evening. Of 
course I accepted ; and on that evening, arrayed in my unrivaled 
blue coat, with brass buttons, cravated and prinked, according to 
the fashion, I presented myself at Mr. Pitkin's. It was well I had 
been accustomed to good society, for never was there a greater 
demand for moral courage. On entering the parlor I saw one 
young man leaning on the mantel-piece, and around the room 
(for I counted them) were eighteen young ladies ! During the 
evening my comrade and self were reinforced by two or three stu- 
dents, hnt/ive made the whole number of young men who ap- 
peared during the evening. The gentleman who was in the room 
when I entered it was Mr. Thomas Perkins of Hartford, who after- 
ward married Miss Mary Beecher, th'e daughter of Dr. Lyman 
Beecher. The town of Farmington furnished but one beau dur- 
ing the evening, and I found out afterward that there were but 
two or three in the place ; I mean in that circle of society. This 
was perhaps an extreme example of what might have been found 
in all the villages of New England, where, in the same circle of 
society, there were at least three girls to one young man. You 
may be sure that when I looked upon that phalanx of eighteen 
young women, even the assurance of a West Point cadet gave 
way. But the perfect tact of the hostess saved me from trouble. 
This was Miss Ann Pitkin, now Mrs. Denio, her husband being 
Mr. Denio, late Chief-Justice of New York. Miss Pitkin evidently 
saw my embarrassment, which was the greater from my being 
near-sighted. She promptly came forward, otfered me a chair, 
and, introducing me to the ladies, at once began an animated con- 
versation. In half an hour I felt at home, and was ever grateful 
to Miss Pitkin. 

" I will mention here, as one of the characteristics of New 
England manners, that Mr. and Mrs. Pitkin never once entered 
the room on this occasion, and the older people never appeared 
at any of the parties or sleighrides given by the young people, 
or at any gatherings not public. This was contrary to the cus- 
tom of my father's house, where people of all ages attended the 
parties, and my mother was the most conspicuous person and the 
most agreeable of entertainers. . . . The evening passed 
pleasantly away, and I was launched into Farmington society. 




APPENDIX. 



329 



As there were only three of us at the close of the entertainment, 
to escort the young ladies home, it was fortunate that Farmington 
was built almost entirely in one street, so one of us took the girls 
who went down street ; one, those who went up the street, and a 
third those who branched off. Of these young ladies more than 
half bore one name, that of Cowles. I was told there were in that 
township three hundred persons of the name of Cowles. There 
were on the main street five families of brothers, in all of which 
I visited, and to whom I was indebted for many pleasant hours. 
. . . . The time had now come for me to leave Farmington. 
My sleighrides, my parties, my pleasant visits, and, alas ! my 
pleasant friends, were to be left forever. My path lay in differ- 
ent and sometimes far less pleasant scenes. I well remember 
the bright morning on which I stood on Mr. Pitkin's step, bidding 
farewell to my kind and gentle friend, Mary Pitkin.* Married 
and moved away, she soon bade farewell to this world, where 
she seemed, like the morning flower, too frail and too gentle to 
survive the frost and the storm. " 

The vast range of amusements which now enter largely into 
social life were scarcely known sixty years ago. School exhibi- 
tions were the nearest approach to the theater, and card parties 
were held of doubtful morality. Deacon Bull, compiling material 
for Gov. Tread well to use in his " Statistical History of Farming- 
ton," wrote what he knew of the amusements of the village, 
though both worthies probably knew less of amusements than of 
theology. He writes : " Their diversions and amusements are 
various, according to their different ages. The former genera- 
tions had for their amusements the more athletic exercises, such 
as wrestling, hopping, jumping, or leaping over walls or fences, 
balls, quoits, and pitching the bar, also running and pacing 
horses, especially on public days when collected from all parts of 
the town. Some of these diversions are still in fashion, especially 
balls, but the most polite and fashionable amusements now are 
dancing at balls or assemblies, card-playing, and backgammon. 
There are also hunting and fishing, both by hook and seine. The 
mountains afford plenty of game, such as squirrd'ls, partridges. 



* Afterward the wife of John T. Norton, a native of Farmington, to which 
place he returned to reside before reaching middle age, after a period of very- 
successful business in Albany. His wife died early. She was the mother of 
Prof. John P. Norton of Yale College, who also died before reachmg middle 
age.— J. H. 



330 REMINISCENCES. 

and some turkeys and foxes. The river abounds with plenty of 
small fish, such as pike, trout, dace, etc. In this diversion gentle- 
men and ladies both unite, and in the pleasant part of the summer 
ride out to the most agreeable part of the meadow near the mar- 
gin of the river, where are delightful shade trees with green and 
pleasant herbage for the accommodation of a large number of 
people to walk, fish, or eat, which renders the amusement 
delightful." Another out-of-door amt:sement was the Annual 
Field Day. This is how it impressed a quiet, un military specta- 
tor. " September 25. Some rain. Review Day. Street full of 
men and horses and carriages and mud, etc. A regiment of cav- 
alry was out and a part of the regiment of infantry. Afternoon. 
The troops marched off into the meadow and the town was quiet 
for two or three hours." A young girl observes, "In the after- 
noon rode out in the stage upon the Plain with seventeen in the 
stage. Stayed a few hours and became quite tired of field day. 
I was shocked to see the indelicacy with which some of my sex 
appeared. It wounded my delicacy to see girls of seventeen en- 
circled in the arms of lads. From the field I repaired to the ball. 
I returned home about 12." 

The most imposing anniversary was Independence Day, not 
then a day of license and vandalism, but a day when the old 
soldiers who knew well what independence cost, gathered with 
those who shared with them the blessing of freedom, and listened 
to the story of their valor, their sufferings, and their glorious vic- 
tory, and all unitedly offered up to the God of Nations a people's 
thanksgiving. The exercises were the reading of the Declaration 
of Independence, prayer, an oration, and a patriotic anthem. 
The young people closed the day with a ball, and their elders had 
a dinner with formal toasts and much good cheer. Perhaps a 
school girl's account of one celebration is quite as good as the 
more formal reports occasionally given in the newspapers. 
" Wednesday the cannon arrived. Some of the artillery are 
expected. Friday went to the meeting-house at the time set, 11 
o'clock. There I was an hour and a half or more before the 
troops arrived, who were all dressed in uniform and looked 
extremely well. They sang at meeting first Berkely ; Dr. Todd 
and Hooker and Mr. Seymour played on their instruments. 
Next, Mr. Washburn made an excellent prayer, prayed that we 
might be truly thankful that our country still maintained its inde- 
pendence, and that if any came to meeting that day more for the 




APPENDIX. 



331 



amusements of the day than for praise of God, that they might be 
pardoned. Next, Uncle Solly ascended the pulpit and read in 
their law book [the Declaration of Independence). Next came 
Dr. Todd with his oration. It was a very good one, indeed. 
The exercises closed with a hymn which was composed for the 
occasion by Dr. Dwight, and sung to the tune of New One Hun- 
dred, written by Birkenhead's brother. Returned home and soon 
went back to the tea party opposite Mr. Wadsworth's. There was 
another in the next lot south. Danced until twelve, when the ball 
broke up. One hundred and fifty dined under a bowery at Grid- 
ley's." Thanksgiving, the best enjoyed of all old-time anniver- 
saries, is briefly alluded to by the same person as follows : " Tues- 
day. Thanksgiving is coming and we are making preparations. 
We keep three days. Wednesday ; have finished twenty-one 
pyes and some cake. I wished for your assistance to flour the 
tarts. Thursday attended meeting. The first I heard was 
' Marriage is intended between Robert Porter and Roxanna 
Root, both of this place.' Heard a most excellent sermon by Air. 
Washburn, in which he exhorted us in a most pathetic manner to 
embrace the gospel. The parties were married in the evening. 
Timothy carried round the cake and wine." 

Weddings were mostly informal. We have one reported by 
Mr. Hooker, then a tutor in Yale College. "Attended the wed- 
ding of Richard Cowles and Fanny Deming at Mrs. Deming's. 
Large concourse of relations and friends, perhaps sixty. Not 
much ceremony. The parties were seated in the room when the 
companj' arrived. None stood up with them, but Mr. Camp and 
Caroline sat near them, and, after the ceremony, handed round 
two courses of cake, three of wine, and two of apples. The com- 
pany in the different rooms then conversed half an hour, then 
those who could sing, collected and sung very handsomely a 
number of psalm tunes, and half an hour after had quite a merry 
cushion dance. I came away about nine, leaving still a large 
number capering around the cushion." Some of our older people 
may be able to explain the nature of a cushion dance, if they 
care to confess their youthful follies. I have an invitation given 
some time afterward to a wedding for Wednesday evening at 7 
o'clock, on which the recipient years afterward wrote, ' A large 
assembly and a very pleasant evening, several college acquaint- 
ances present. After the old folks had gone we had a fine cush- 
ion dance, according to the fashion of our old Puritan fathers. ' 



332 



REMINISCENCES. 



At this latter wedding some one took Deacon Richards to task 
for drinking wine. ' Sir,' said the solemn deacon, *I have the 
highest authority for drinking wine at weddings," and, forthwith, 
drained his glass like the old soldier he was. 

Ordinations with their solemn rites, their good cheer, and their 
closing ball, were notable days in the land. In this town they 
came about once in two generations. The Rev. John Richards, 
writing to his children years afterward, gives his recollections of 
one. "Dr. Porter," he says, "was ordained Nov. 5, 1806. I 
remember well how he looked in the pulpit, and how Dr. Dwight 
looked with his green spectacles while preaching the sermon. I 
sat directly behind Mr. Roberts, the singing master. Just before 
the close of the sermon Caty Mix fainted. ' There,' said Mr. 
Roberts to Col. Tillotson, ' we lose one of our best singers.' But 
they sang the Ordination Anthem notwithstanding, well. I was 
in raptures, especially at the verse : 

' The saints unable to contain 

Their inward joys shall shout and sing; 

The Son of David here shall reign, 
And Zion triumph in her king.' 

I knew not then, as I did long afterwards, the meaning of the 
words." 

Besides these solemn festivals, other diversions of a lighter 
character occasionally though rarely enlivened the quiet of village 
life. Mr. Hooker records : "Dec. 12th. Snowy day. A large, 
tawny lion, a tall and beautiful Peruvian llama, an ostrich, and 
two or three monkeys were exhibited at Phelps's inn. To gratify 
my little daughter and son, I took them thither to see the animals. 
John rode the llama about the barn, while the keeper led the ani- 
mal and I steadied the rider." Other occasional amusements, in 
which society of to-day does not indulge, sometimes came within 
reach of an easy drive from the village. In the same journal we 
read: "Tuesday, June i, 1824. Very dry and warm, but other- 
wise pleasant. After early breakfast I took John and his cousin 
Samuel with me in the chaise and rode fifteen miles north to the 
town of Tolland, to witness the awful scene of an Indian man ex- 
ecuted for murder. We arrived there about ten, and, after put- 
ting out the horse at Col. Smith's inn, walked up the hill half a 
mile to view the gallows and other preparations, and returned to 
the village which, by this time, had become filled with company. 



APPENDIX. 



333 



Probably seven or eight thousand (and some say ten or twelve 
thousand) people were there. . . . The cavalry were on white 
horses and made an impressive show in the procession. There 
was a variety of musical instruments, drums, fifes, bassoons and 
bass viols, clarionets, etc."* 

One of New England's proud anniversaries was the college 
commencement. To this came the best culture of the land to do 
honor to the embryo statesmen and divines as they exhibited 
their learning in some unknown tongue to admiring parents and 
friends. The first student in Yale who arrived at the honor of a 
bachelor's degree was a Farmington boy, and the first tutor was 
our second mihister'sf son. The town has very frequently been 
represented on the commencement stage, but New Haven was a 
far country and too inaccessible to make the anniversary a popu- 
lar one. Col. Isaac Cowles writes to his son about the difficulty 
of getting him home at the end of the college term : "I spoke to 



*I remember well the incident which my father has here related. The 
cousin who was with me was Samuel S. Clarke of Columbia, Conn., who was 
at school at Mr. Hart's academy at Farmington, and was a member of our 
family. I was, at the time, 8 years old, and he lo. This paragraph from my 
father's journal is interesting as showing the great change in public opinion 
with regard to executions from that which prevailed at that time. The curios- 
ity to witness such an awful spectacle was not a little barbarous and morbid, 
but there was a general feeling that such exhibitions would make a deep moral 
impression and be a strong deterrent from crime. It was with that feeling, I 
have no doubt, that my father took my cousin and myself to see this execu- 
tion. There was a vast concourse of people from miles distant. The gallows 
was erected at the top of a hillock, where it could be seen by the surrounding 
thousands. There was not one in the great assemblage who could not see 
the wretched murderer swinging in the air. My father was not only very ten- 
der-hearted, but full of good sense with regard to such matters, and it is some 
surprise to me that he took us to see the distressing sight. It is to be said, as 
some excuse for the general desire to witness it, that it was a very rare thing 
that executions had taken place in this State, and there may have been some 
special atrocity in the perpetration of the crime that created an unusual inter- 
est on the part of the public in seeing the criminal punished. I was once tell- 
ing the late Judge Waldo, of our Superior Court, about my attending the exe- 
cution as a boy, when he told me that he was there. He must have been about 
2Q at the time. I have never seen the time when I would have taken my son 
to witness an execution, or would willinglv have looked upon one myself. — 
J. H. 

+ Rev. Samuel Hooker, son of Thomas Hooker, the first minister at Hart- 
ford. He was settled over the Farmington church from 176c till 1797, dying in 
his pastorate. — J. H. 



334 



REMINISCENCES 



Mr. W the other day respecting your getting home. He will 

lead down the bay mare for you to ride back. In that case you 
cannot brint? your trunk home." At the end of next term he 
writes : '• We send a few lines by Mr. C. Hope he will be sober 
when he delivers them. May he be a warning to you and all 
other youth. The Farmington East India Company will probably 
be loading their ship at vacation if the snow continues till that 
time. If not, shall get you home some other way. You must be 
a good boy. Don't let us hear any bad report of you." A young 
miss who mourned because her mother thought her too young to 
attend the Yale commencement the next summer, writes how her 
neighbors went to a similar entertainment: "The quality of 
Hartford and some of Farmington have gone to Dartmouth Col- 
lege to spend the commencement, viz., Chauncey Gleason, wife 
and daughter, Polly Cowles, and Sally Gleason, in one hack with 
a driver, and black Dick on horseback to ofificiate as servant. Mr. 
Howe and Mrs. Dolly Norton in a chaise." This repeated men- 
tion of " Black Dick " suggests the relation of society to the labor 
problem of those days, then, as always, an unsolved one. Who 
did the household drudgery then? Not labor-saving machin- 
ery. Not white servants. You might hire some strong- 
armed girl to do some well-defined work, such as spinning 
or weaving, for a limited time, but on an absolute social equal- 
ity with the daughters of the house. Most families were large, 
and the work was divided among all the members, who thus 
became notable housekeepers in their turn. Indians could not 
be made servants of. They were removed too few generations 
from their untamed ancestors to bear dictation or continuous 
labor. The only servants were the blacks. The probate records 
of this town, which begin in 1769, show bequests of such valuable 
pieces of property as "A negro woman and boy as slaves." . . . 
"A negro man called Daff." . . . "A negro man called Gad." 
. . . " My negro boy called Cambridge." I have an original 
bill of sale, of which this is a copy: "Know all men by these 
presents that I, Samuel Talcott Junr. of Hartford, for the consid- 
eration of twenty-six pounds, ten shillings, to me paid or secured 
to be paid, have bargained and sold to James Wadsworth of 
Farmington one negro girl about the age of six years, named 
Candace, warranted sound and healthy and free from any claim 
of other person or persons, and the same warranted a slave for 
life. Dated at Hartford, September 30th, 1763." These un- 




APPENDIX. 



335 



fortunate laborers, or fortunate as some thought them, were a few 
of them imported from the West Indies, but most came from 
Newport, which our Quaker brethren made the center of the New 
England slave trade. In 17 ii slave-owners were compelled to 
support the slave in his old age, and not set him at liberty to take 
care of himself. In 1774 the importation of slaves was forbidden. 
Ten years later it was enacted that all born after 1784 should be 
free at the age of twenty-five, and in 1797 all when they arrived 
at the age of twenty-one. Black servants, therefore, in the period 
of which we write, were not slaves. Such was our fathers' solu- 
tion of a difficult problem. The labor problem is still with us, 
and still we look forward to the final solution at the Millenium 
with great diversity of expectation. 

No account of the social life of the village which leaves out 
the religious side can be complete. That, however, has been so 
fully and fairly treated of in the Half Century Discourse of Dr. 
Porter, that any attempt to add to or condense his account of 
what he more than all others was most qualified to write, seems 
presumptuous. One great change, however, in religious thought, 
since he wrote, cannot be overlooked. From 1821 to 1851 he 
records ten revivals, those great awakenings which in quick suc- 
cession spread over the community, gathering all classes from 
their ordinary avocations, some in ecstatic elevation of soul and 
some in abject terror. That phase of religious belief can hardly 
be understood by the present generation. We now hear from the 
pulpit more of character and less of eternal punishment, more of 
the love of God and less of his wrath. Truth is eternal and the 
same. The same things are true to-day as two generations ago, 
but preachers and hearers alike do not universally and heartily 
believe the same things. 

Such is an imperfect account of social life in the first part of 
this century. I have said little about it, preferring to leave the 
actors in the drama to tell their own tale in their own words. Of 
all the old diaries and letters which have furnished material for 
this paper, much the most valuable is the journal of Mr. Edward 
Hooker, some parts of which have been printed, but which ought 
to be published in its entirety. Other diaries afford vivid pictures 
of the times which have not been given to the public, will not be, 
I trust, and ought not to be. Every girl began one almost as 
soon as she could write. Here they recorded the events of 
every day, all their love affairs with great minuteness, and their 



336 



REMINISCENCES. 



most sacred thoughts and aspirations. One of them began : 
"Diary. In the eleventh year of her age. To thee I will relate 
the events of my youth. I will endeavour to excel in learning 
and correct my faults so that I may be enabled to look backward 
with pleasure and forward with hope." And right well did she 
keep her resolutions until death early laid his hand on her as on 
many of the brilliant circle of her companions, and with trembling 
hand she records her last farewell to him she would have married, 
the last kindly words of Dr. Todd, and the last consolations of 
the saintly Washburn. 



I have read with so great interest the admirable article of Mr. Gay that 1 
cannot forbear to add a page or two with regard to my father and my own 
home life. I have spoken of him briefly in my introduction. There were a 
few men of education and refinement in Farmington in my early boyhood, 
who with him made up a very choice circle of intimate friends. Of these Dr. 
Eli Todd was perhaps the most brilliant. My father was very fond of him 
and deeply mourned his death a few years later when at the head of the insane 
asylum at Hartford. The Cowles brothers, who became the wealthy people 
of Farmington, were men of little cultivation, but of very great business 
enterprise and ability. It waS generally reported and believed that they 
had made half a million in their business, and I think it was so. When the 
five brothers dissolved their partnership a few years later it was generally 
understood that each took $100,000 as his share. This was a large sum for that 
time. They and their families were much given to free living and extrava- 
gance. With their relatives they gave a character to the town. My father 
had no fondness for display and no sympathy with them in their habits in this 
respect, although one of the five brothers married his sister. He had a com- 
petence, but nothing that could sustain extravagance. My recollection of 
our home life is of abundance, but of very plain living. Our clothes were 
made from the wool of our own sheep, which was fulled and woven at a mill 
within the town into a strong gray cloth, which was then made into suits of 
clothing by tailoresses who came around regularly for the season's work at our 
house. My father's clcjthes were made of the same material. He had a nice 
broadcloth suit for Sunday and public occasions, but I think his ordinary suits 
were cut by a tailor and made up by the tailoress. With this plain living we 
had a mcjst healthful and inspiring mental life. My father was a rare Latin 
and Greek scholar, and began quite early to teach me those languages. I 
recollect well how, when I was a beginner in Latin, he asked me to read some 
book which I happened to be then reading, and how I, with much pride, 
answered " Ego sum." I meant by the " I am " to be understood as saying " I 
am reading that book." He laughed and then explained to me that " Ego 
sum " meant only " I am" in the sense of " I exist," and that I ought to have 
answered in some word meaning "I read." This illustrates his way of cor- 



APPENDIX. 337 

recting my early blunders. We had also at this time a study of English at our 
table. If any one of us children made a mistake either in our use of a word or 
in our grammar, he would instantly call our attention to it, and, by a rule 
which liad been adopted for such cases, the one making the mistake was 
allowed a minute to correct it, and, he failing, any other of the children had 
the right to do so, and finally, all failing, he would himself correct the error 
and explain wherein it consisted. An account was kept among us. A failure 
corrected by the blunderer went for nothing, but if another child corrected it, 
the fact was set down to his credit and to the debit of the other. There was 
no forfeiture, but we all felt a great desire to have our account, when ex- 
hibited, a creditable one. We had at that time a table full of children, some 
cousins of mine, children of my father's sister, always attending the Farming- 
ton Academy as they became old enough, and finding a hospitable and pleasant 
home with us. We had rarely, through all my youth, fewer than two of them 
at a time. 

I should perhaps make a wrong impression if I should be understood as 
reflecting at all upon the intelligence of the people of the town who did not 
belong to the ambitious and fashionable circle, nor to that of the highly 
educated and cultivated. They were generally intelligent, availing themselves 
of all the opportunities for education that then existed, and very generally 
patronizing the village library. This association held monthly meetings on a 
Sunday evening at the librarian's, where the members drew out several books 
for the month. These meetings were quite largely attended by the older people 
in the parlor and by us boys in the kitchen. They were very enjoj^able times, 
and I rarely failed to attend with my father. The services on Sunday, in the 
Congregational church, the only one in the village, were largely attended. 
The huge church was alwaj-s well filled, and very few stayed away. The out- 
lying districts for several miles had no other place of worship, and their resi- 
dents came in large wagons and carriages, generally whole families coming 
and bringing all their children. 

My father appears by his journal to have been very familiar with the 
fashionable people of the town, and with the attractive young women, of 
whom there were so many; but he never had a particle of their love of display 
and was never moved a particle from his simplicity of life. 

Such a home life makes a great and abiding impression on a child of 
ordinary intelligence, and it saddens me to think how little is left of it for the 
coming generations. 

J. H. 



JOHN BLACKLEACH 



AN 



HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual flDeeting 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



Farmington, Connedicut 

September 13, 1911 



By JULIUS GAY 



|)artforU fJrefiB 

The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

1911 



JOHN BLACKLEACH 



AN 



HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



DELIVERED AT THE 



Hnnual HDectino 



OF 



The Village Library Company 



OF 



Farmington, Connedicut 

September 13, 1911 



By JULIUS GAY 



|)artforlj presei 

The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company 

1911 



ADDRESS. 



Ladles and Gcntlcincii of the Village Library Companv of 
Panniiigtoii: It is now seven years since I had the honor to 
read to you the last of a series of papers giving some account 
of the early life of the village, — its libraries and schools, the 
houses which sheltered the early settlers, the soldiers who pro- 
tected them in colonial days and during the long war of the 
Revolution, of the music of the sanctuary and of the social 
habits of the worshipers. A new chapter in the history of the 
village green has just begun. The town meeting of Sep- 
tember 2d has practically decreed that Church and State are 
no longer one. 

WTiile great changes may be in abeyance, let us call to 
mind, for a few minutes, things most dear to our ancestors, — 
the [Meeting House Green and the three houses in which 
successively they worshiped God. The masterly account of 
the third and last house l)y President Porter in his address 
of 1872 is well known to you all. I remember also, as if it 
were only yesterday, sitting in the North galler}- of the meet- 
ing house full to overflowing and listening to his " Historical 
Discourse of 1840," and seem to remember the very tones of 
his voice as he concluded with the words : " As we look back 
along the dim path-way of their darkness and danger in the 
past, we behold the bright token of his presence and care, in 
the words which the three vines planted on the Connecticut, 
delighted to bear aloft upon their banner : ' Qui transtulit 
sustinet.' As we look forward to the days that are to come, 
we behold them as they brighten in the distance, splendid in 
their tokens of future promise. Yes, he who brought them 
over will still uphold ; not them, for they are dead, and so are 



tlu'ir sons, and their m)ii's sons; Init their principles, their 
spirit and theii- honored names. 

Tile lirst nieeting--house, the first of three, stood on the 
main street midway between mountain and river. The wor- 
shipers were then, and for the next quarter of a century, 
summoned to attend by beat nl" (h-nni. The deacons still lined 
out the psalm, and musical instruments and dissensions in the 
choir were unknown. < )f the style of architecture in this old 
l)nildin,y we know little. There were doors on the east and 
south, and ])robahly on the west. Negroes sat u])on a bench 
at the north end. and. as the capacity of tlie house became 
less and less sufficient, individuals were allowed to build them- 
selves seats anywhere in the gallery, " on condition that they 
do not dainnifv the other seats in the meeting-house." The 
allotment of seats below was termed dignifying the house, 
and the seating committee was ordered to " have respect to 
age, office, and estate, so far as it tendeth to make a man 
respectable." The youths and the unmarried were forced up- 
stairs where thev gave the tithingman sufficient occupation, 
'inhere was one exception in favor of certain sedate young 
woiutii. ■■ The town by vote gave liberty to Lieutenant 
Judd's twd daughters, and the Widow Judd's two daughters, 
and the two eldest daughters of John Steele to erect, or cause 
to be erected, a seat for tlu-ir ])ro])er use at the south end of 
the meeting-house at the left hand as they go in at the door, 
provided it be not ])reiu<licial to the passage and doors." 
Seats too were reserved for the guard of eight men who 
marcheii in with muskets at shoulder. The Indian atrocities 
at Deertield and vicinity were but recent, and the meeting- 
house itself had long been a fort as well as a house of prayer. 
In if')74 Deacon Hull makes a charge for a joist for the fort 
gate of the church, and in 7675 for the irons of the fort gate, 
and again in \C^y('). 

The green was used as the parade ground for the military 
companies of the village, and from its pulpit in times of v^ar, 



5 

stirring drscourses sent the soldiers forth to battle. The elo- 
quence of the beloved I'itkin was a power in the land. One 
of his discourses was from the words " Play the man for your 
country, anl the cities of yuur God; and the Lord do that 
which seemeth llim good." In times of peace w^e read of it 
as " the place of parade or mustering in said Farmington, 
where Capt. Hawley usually trains his company," and similar 
records are frequent. There was once a belief, never wholly 
disproved, that the tirst meeting-house stood opposite the 
house of Admiral Cowles, where lived the Rev. Samuel 
Hooker, second minister of Farmington and probably his 
brother-in-law. Rev. Roger Newton, its first minister. Wil- 
liam Hooker, grandson of Rev. Thomas Hooker, owned the 
property where Admiral Cowles now resides. On his death 
his widow Susannah married John Blackleach, a Hartford mer- 
chant who lived on the place and to whom the town gave 
" liberty to take up four acres of land where he can find it," 
that is provided he remains in tow-n four years. He was the 
grandson of John Blackleach of Hartford, farmer, merchant, 
ship-owner, philanthropist, writer on theology, and ancestor 
of many worthy people of Hartford. I propose to give you 
a brief account of him as a very interesting character apart 
from his relationship as grandfather of our ancient townsman 
of the same name. 

We first hear of him as joint owmer with the noted Samuel 
Maverick of a plantation known as Winnissimet on the north 
side of the Mystic River immediately east of the present site 
of the United States Marine Hospital in Chelsea. Mr. Mav- 
erick, an early and noted settler of Massachusetts, in the 
manuscripts which have come down to us, describes it as 
" Two miles south from Romney Marsh on the north side of 
Mystic river in \\'innissimet, which though a few houses on 
it, deserves to be mentioned. One house yet standing there 
which is the ancientest house in this Massachusetts govern- 
ment, a house which in the year 1625, J (that is. Samuel 



Maverick), fortified with a palisado and flankers, and guns 
both below and above in them, which awed the Indians, who 
at that time had a mind to cut off tlie Enc^hsh. They once 
faced it hut receiving- a repulse, never attempted it more." 

Samuel Maverick and Amias his wife and T<^hn Rlackleach 
and his wife sold the place in February, 1^)34, to Richard 
ikdlingham and also an interest in the ferry. When Mr. 
lUackleach arrived in New England, or how either he or Mr. 
Maverick obtained a grant of Winnissimet or of the ferry has 
escaped much research by learned historians of that vicinity. 
Mr. Blackleach may have been a resident of London, for 
before 1644 he had married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert 
Bacon, formerly of Wapping Init afterward of "the parish of 
St. Katherine Cree Church, London, (iunner of His Majesty's 
good shi]) or vessel called the Mare Honor." 

In l'>bruary. 1635, the freemen of Salem granted Mr. 
Blackleach three hundred acres more at Long Marsh along 
the seaside and containing half the marsh. Of this, fifty 
acres was rock, but that he might have sufficient ground to 
inaintain a ])low. they gave him in 1638 fifty acres more, con- 
ditionally that he will be at the charge of plowing it. or the 
greatest part of it. Such were the inducements held out to 
the incoming farmers of England. At this time there were 
said to ])v i)iit thirty-seven plows in all Massachusetts. 

Tn May. t'"\^5. he was made a freeman by the General 
Court at liDston, to whioli body he was a deputy from Saleiu 
in May of the following year. About this time he made a 
voyage to luigland and back, beguiling the way by writing a 
work on theology. He calls it a treatise, and sends it to Gov. 
Winthrop at Hartford with an introductory letter, which the 
Crovernor endorses August 3. 1637. and which opens thus: 

"Great and many are the reasons (Right Worshipful), 
that moved upon the vast and troubled ocean sea. to study and 

commit to writing the following discourse These 

following notes have cost me much pains, and some time, to 



gather them together, and to commit them to writing. I pray 
you let it not be grevious to you to read tiiem. It may be 
that something herein may seem harsh ( I am but a mortal 
man, therefore subject to error), yet 1 believe what I have 
written to be truth, otherwise I would not have tendered it to 

}our consideration I humbly pray that when you 

have perused the following treatise, you will restore it to me 
again." Probal)ly this request was granted, as the treatise 
is nt)t to be found among the Blackleach papers of the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society. 

Mr. Blackleach returned to Salem and seems to have 
added the mercantile to his agricultural business, for in March, 
1637-8, he pays an excise duty of four pounds, three shillings 
and four pence on wine bought and sold by him. We lose 
sight of him until in May, 1644. the records of the General 
Court inform us that " Mr. Blackleach, his petition about the 
Moors was consented to, to be committed to the elders to 
inform us of the mind of God herein, and then to further con- 
sider it." This was the first of his philanthropic schemes of 
which we have any record, and refers to his wish to instruct 
certain negroes in religion. The case of Mrs. Hutchinson was 
too freshly in mind for anyone to presume to meddle with 
religious teaching without due authority. These Africans 
were a source of great perplexity to the good people of Massa- 
chusetts and had been brought to Boston on this wise. Gov. 
Winthrop, in his History of New England informs us that 
in the winter of 1645 Mr. James Smith " who was a member 
of the church of Boston with his mate Keyser were bound to 
Guinea to trade for negroes, but when they arrived there, they 
met with some Londoners, with whom they consorted, and the 
Londoners having been formerly injured by the natives, (or 
at least pretending the same) , they invited them aboard one of 
the ships upon the Lord's day, and such as came they kept 
prisoners, then landed men, and a murderer, and assaulted one 
of their towns and killed many of the people, but the country 



8 

coining down, they were forced to retire without any booty, 
divers of their men being wounded with the negroe's arrows 
and one killed." 

Arriving at Jiarhadues, on their return in their ship Rain- 
bow. Captain Smith and his mate Keyser quarrelled. The latter 
seized the shi]) and returned to Uostnn with the negroes and 
cargo, leaving Smith to get home as best he could. Get 
home, how-ever. he did. and brought suit against his late part- 
ner. The court allowed him substantial damages against Key- 
ser, but, on the other hand, ordered that " Captain Smith should 
allow^ Keyser ten pounds for threatening to i:)istol him." CjOV. 
Winthrop adds " For the matter of the negroes, whereof two 
were brought home on tlie ship and near one hundred slain 
by the confession of some of the mariners, the magistrates 
took order to have these two set at liberty, and to be sent home ; 
but for the slaughter committed, they were in great doubt 
what to do in it, seeing it was in another country, and the 
Londoners pretended a just revenge. So they called the 
elders, and desired their advice." Richard Saltonstall, there- 
fore, being an Assistant in the General Court. re])orted the 
act of murder and the act of stealing negroes contrary to the 
law of God and of this country '' but the act of chasing the 
negroes as aforesaid upon the Sabl)ath Day, being a servile 
work is expressly capital by the law of God." Ultimately one 
negro was given by Captain Smith to 'Wv. Williams of Pis- 
cataqua. and the General Court ordered the other, called the 
negro intiT])reter. to be sent to his native country of Guinea 
with a letter of indignation. To whom this letter was to 
be addressed is not stated, and how good a christian Mr. 
Blackleach made of the l)earer does not appear. His efforts 
were however so far approved that a new door was speedily 
opened to his pious endeavors. Tn April, 1657, the Society 
for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England writes 
from its London office of the " information we have received 
of the abilities of and good affection of Mr. John Black- 



leach, whose heart we are persuaded is engaged herein, to 
commend him to your approbation as a person whom we think 
may be useful and serviceable in civilizing the Indians and 
also helpful to inform them in the knowledge of the gospel." 
In the meantime while the catechism and bible and other 
good books were being translated into Algonkin, Mr. Black- 
leach is recorded a resident in Salem as late as September, 
165 1. Thence he removed to Boston in time to have his 
house and goods burned in the great fire of March 14, 1653, 
which Endicott calls " the most dreadful fire that I ever saw." 
Some mercantile business brings him to New Haven where 
he spent the winter of 1658, and where he made himself so 
agreeable to Mr. Davenport and his wife, who had never 
seen him before, that they gave him liberty to lay up his 
barrels of pork and corn, etc., that were to be paid him for 
his goods, in the garret of the house of Governor Winthrop, 
absent in Hartford. To the latter he writes a letter of apology, 
proposing " to come to Hartford the first opportunity, when 
the rivers are open about March next. Desiring the Lord to 
bless, guide, and keep you and yours." To Hartford there- 
fore he came and bought a house and lot of Elder William 
Goodwin who had removed to Hadley. It was situated on 
the North side of the Riveret and on the East side of the 
road from the Pallisado to the Sentinel Hill, or in modern 
phraseology, on the northeast corner of the intersection of 
Main and Arch Streets. Mr. Blackleach seems to have met 
with the too common prejudice against ne\i^ comers. The 
General court in March, 1661, "having weighed and con- 
sidered the nature of the ofifence of Mr. John Blackleach in his 
contemptuous expressions against several persons in authority 

in this colony doth impose the fine of thirty 

pounds to be paid by the said Mr. Blackleach to the public 
treasury." To what particular worshipful magistrate Mr. 
Blackleach had failed in respect we cannot say, but speaking 
contemptuously of those in authority was pretty serious busi- 



lO 

ness. Good men held with the Apostle Jnde that the dream- 
ers who speak evil of dignities should ha ranked among the 
ungodly. After a little delay ancF the exercise of common 
sense the wrath ni the Court was appeased and they found 
his prosecutors guilty of j^rejudice, of lying on wait, and 
suspecting that " both Loveridge and Burnani guilty of the 
same crime they testify against Mr. Blackleach, . . . . 
camiot hut see just cause to acquit Mr. Blackleach of that 
fine imposed." Here then he remained or made his head- 
(|uarters for the last twenty years of his life, making voyages 
mercantiU' and pliillhaiuhropic to foreign lands. His acquaint- 
ance with the Governor seems to have been mutually agree- 
able, and the latter in a letter dated Hartford, January 27, 
1664-5 to Sir Robert Moray, conmnmicating certain scientific 
statements made by Mr. lUackleach to his honor's c(msidera- 
lion and to that of the Royal Society of which the Governor 
was a member and founder, first announces his own astro- 
nomical discoveries as follows, " Having looked upon Jupiter 
with a telescope upon the 6th of August last, I saw five 
satellites very distinctly about that planet." This is one more 
satellite than any other observer has reported. " I observed 
it with the best curiosity I could, taking a very distinct notice 

of thr number of them Another thing T make 

bold to mention, u])on occasion of a relation which T had 
lately from an understanding seaman that hath been master 
of some vessels and often in the \\'est Indies, (Mr. John 
Ptlackleach) He affirmed confidently that being in the Gulf 
of Florida, he saw a great pillar of water (which is com- 
monly called spouts), rise up from the sea. and rise higher 
till it joined itself to a white cloud over it. \ urged it to him 

to be a mistake He confidently affirmed it could be 

no mistake, his ship was near, and that both himself and all 
on the ship with one consent judged it to rise out of the sea." 
As between the Governor's five satellites and Mr. "Rlackleach's 
water spout, the latter's scientific accuracy is to be commended. 



1 1 

In October, 1667, he was back in Hartford where " This 
Court grants Mr. John I^lackleach liberty to retail wine and 
liquors to lii^ neighbors that are honest, sober householders, 
and these onl}-, till the last of November next." 

l'"or five years we read of no more voyages, but in the 
quiet of Hartford, his old interest of twelve years before in 
the spiritual welfare of the Indians again takes possession of 
him. '■ Mr. Blackleach Senior," so it is recorded, " moving 
the Court for their approbation that he might use his en- 
deavors to make known to the Indians (in the best way be 
can), something of the knowledge of God according as he 
shall have opportunity. This Court grants his desire therein, 
with their desires that he may, through the blessing of God 
be an advantageous instrument to the end proposed." In- 
November, 1669, he reports progress to the Governor. " Mr. 
\\'inthrop, Much Honored Governor. ]\Iy due respect to you 
Sir. You may remember that at the last General Court, 
God gave me so much favor in the hearts of the Court that 
they approved me to speak and act to and with the Indians 
to reduce them to civility and Christianity. I have studied and 
taken some pains in the matter and in my thoughts and act- 
ings I do endeavor the further progress therein. Mr. Elliot 
gave me an Indian Bible and divers other books in the Indian 
tongue and added his prayers for my good success therein. 
. . . . Now Sir. this is to request you to be a friend to 
me ; it will cause me to proceed with more ea^^e ; however, my 
purpose is to do my endeavor herein, because I do delight in 
the work, believing that the work is acceptable to God. Thus, 
desiring God to bless, guide, and keep you. I rest. 

Yours to be commanded in all Christian duty. 

John Blackleach, Senior. 
Laus Deo. 

New York 10. November 1669." 



12 

How proficient he became in the Algonkin tongue or how 
nnich the natives were benefitted is not related. His health 
failed him and in ( )ctobcr. 1671, he writes from Jamaica to 
the riovernor. 

'• Much Honored Sir. My (kic respects presented to you, 
to vour wife, and to all yours, 

" Sir. knowing your ingenuity, I thought it niiglit not be 
iniacceptable unto you to impart to you a l)rief of passages 
observed by me during the present voyage hitherto — one 
month from Nantasket, near Boston, very temperate and good 
winds and weather, otherwise T fear I should hardly been 
able to enchire il. We fell in with the easterniiient part of 
lli>paniola. intending to have first made Porto Rico, but 
thereby we were necessitated to pass by on the north side of 
llispaniola, which pmbably tended to our safety, for another 
vessel from New York passing on the soiUli side was taken 
l)y a Spanish ship and plundered of ])art what they had. 

. . . If 1 liad stayed in New iMigland this winter, my 
present condition considered, I could not see other than that 
T was like to be a burden to myself and friends. As for 
the various and sharj) afflictions with which it has pleased 
God to exercise me with, for divers years past, I coidd 
l)atiently have borne and waited for deliverance and not have 
come to this place, but I Ijclieved I might i)lease God in this 
voyage." Probably domestic troubles added to his despond- 
ency. His second son T'enoni, a young man of 27, had given 
offense to a citi/.en of Wethersficld by certain writings and 
pictures, for which a kindly reprimand might have suf^ficed, 
but being tried in a iniblic assembly he was enraged and the 
magi.strate for " his unsuitable bold carriage here in the court 
do adjudge him to pay as a fine for his misdemeaning himself 
five pounds .... and carry good behavior till the court 
in December next." A kindly neighbor, one Mrs. Wickham, 
gave bonds for him, and at the December court it was recorded 
" there was nothing appeared against Pcnoni Blackleach at 



13 

this court." Nevertheless neither Benoni nor the magistrate 
would give in, and so Benoni disappeared forever. The record 
reads " Benoni Blackleach appeared not and so his father for- 
feited the bond of twenty pounds." Deeds and wills convey- 
ing Blackleach property for many years contain such clauses 
as " It is thought Benoni may be alive." Probably he went 
to sea and like many another young man from the river towns 
was never heard from. His third son Solomon had become 
a seaman, and not long afterward the Rev. John Cotton writes 
from Plymouth to the Rev. Increase Mather: "About a fort- 
night since came into our harbor a privateer under command 
of one Capt. Daniel. The Master is Solomon Blackleach, 
son to the old man once resident in Boston. They stole away 
Rodes (that is, John Rodes), from New York. I doubt 
many hellish abominatious are here acted in secret by those 
who have not the fear of God before their eyes. They pre- 
tend a commission from the States of Holland, and design to 
take French vessels in your eastern parts." It is but just to 
the memory of Solomon Blackleach to say that an account of 
the trial for the condemnation of the James Frigate is given 
at length on Plymouth Colony Records and a list of every- 
thing in her including six great guns and ending with one 
grindstone. The only objectionable person or thing found 
was a convict spoken of by Rev. John Cotton named John 
Rodes who had escaped from a New York jail and whom 
the court speedily sent whence he can-ie. The court sus- 
pected that Solomon commanded by virtue of a Dutch com- 
mission and found " that it would be of ill consequence to 
abet, harbor, or assist those who in show profess an open 
enmity to the French, our neighbors, with whom we ought 
to hold." In short, privateering against the Spanish flag was 
rewarded with high ofl&cial position and honored with knight- 
hood, as we shall see, but against any other nation was a 
hellish abomination. Solomon Blackleach died shortly after 
reaching Plymouth, having made a will in which he orders: 



14 

" I bequeath my soul to God who gave it, my body to the 
dust, and my estate to my dear and loving wife Sindeniah." 

In Jamaica our philanthropist found a wide, if not a 
profitable field for his religious zeal. Here was no Governor 
W'inthrop or General Court to encourage him. Jamaica was 
still the rendezvous of English as was St. Domingo, of French 
privateers, buccaneers, or pirates as you choose to regard 
them, the treaty of Madrid in 1670 to the contrary. Spanish 
galleons, merchandise, cities, towns, anything Spanish they 
held fair game. . Air. Blackleach narrates with considerable 
minuteness the departure from Jamaica and subsequent fiend- 
ish exploits of some five hundred buccaneers under the noted 
Welshman, Henry Morgan, whom Charles II afterward 
knighted and made Deputy Governor of Jamaica. Those of 
us who read Harper's Magazine fifty years ago will perhaps 
remember an account of Morgan by the Rev. J. T. Headley. 
profusely illustrated by an artist who portrays him as a courtly 
soldier listening to the appeal of a beautiful woman. Let all 
such turn to Justin Winsor's Narrative and Critacal History 
of America for a copy of an original painting of the real Sir 
Henry Morgan. 

The profanity of these men, of which he records certain 
choice specimens, shocked the good old man. " In those 
raging fits," he says, " I have taken occasion to exhort them 
to repentance, and have found that all, or all but one, have 
fallen under and manifested some repentance." 

" It is a difficult matter to fa.sten a word of exhortation, 
because no man may dispense a word without order from 
England." At all events the voyage seems to have greatly 
improved his health, for in November of the next year he 
entered into partnership \\\\h Richard Lowe by whom he is 
directed to purchase what fish or other goods are needed 
(besidees the fish already bought in Salem") ■ for the Ketch 
Blessing, thence to proceed to Bilboa. Spain, to sell his cargo, 
and thence to some part of France, where it may be most ad- 



15 

vantageous to lay out the proceeds in linen cloth, and whatever 
else may be best, and thence directly to Boston.' Blackleach 
as partner is to have no wages, but instead ten per cent, on 
the sale of Lowe's portion in Bilboa and five per cent, ditto 
in Boston." 

Illustrative of the uncertainties of Hartford ventures by 
sea at this time we have two years afterward on the 30th of 
July, 1674, a lease by Richard Lord and John Blackleach of 
Hartford and John Ruck of Salem to Richard Wharton of 
Boston, of " The good Ketch called the John and Sarah of 
Salem of the burthen of seventy tons or thereabout now riding 
at anchor in the harbor of Salem, .... for five months 
certain, or ten months uncertain, for a voyage to be made 
with her. by God's assistance," from Salem to Boston, thence 
to Cape Sable and " then with the first opportunity of wind 
and weather to the port of Rochelle, Nantz, or Bordeaux in 
the Kingdom of France or to all or any of them for the 
delivery of her fish and receipt of her loading for Boston 
aforesaid." . . . . " But in case Samuel Pickman, master 
of the said Ketch, shall, before his arrival in any of the ports 
in France, have certain infomiation of wars raised between 
England and I'Vance that then the said master shall sail to 
the kingdom of Portugal, Spain, or England or either of 
them." 

In 1675. in the midst of the Indian war known as King 
Philip's, Mr. Blackleach is on a committee for the protection 
of Hartford, and the Council orders them to place flankers 
in or near the outside houses of the town so that they may be 
able to command froni flanker to flanker round the town. 
Two years later he signs an agreement with Richard Lord to 
act as master of the ship Hartford on a voyage to the West 
Indies. In 1678 he makes a voyage to ^Madeira, Barbadoes, 
and home to New England, sailing from Barbadoes in the Ketch 
Mayflower with his son John for Boston, there fitting out the 
ship for another voyage to Madeira in December, 1679. This 



1 6 

may have been his last voyage. He was now an old man, and 
giving over his wanderings and religious enterprises, he set- 
tled in Wethersfield and there died August 23, 1683, following 
to the grave his wife Elizabeth who had preceded him the 
previous month. In an age which glorifies visible achieve- 
ments, his well meant endeavors for the good of his fellow 
men may seem visionary, but he certainly gained the respect 
and esteem of such men as Rev. John Davenport of New 
llaven and of Gov. John Winthrop. Wait Winthrop, son of 
the governor, writes to Fitz-John Winthrop February 26, 
1688-9, about the expediency of a marriage between some of 
the younger members of the families and says " I have always 
had a i)articular friendship to the old gentlemen." 

Mr. lilackleach senior left a son born in 1635, commonly 
known as Captain John, like his father a merchant and shi])- 
per. He was, so far as appears, a worthy man. His son John, 
as already stated, married Susanna, widow of William Hooker. 
Mary, daughter of Captain John, married three times, first 
Thomas Welles of Hartford, son of Thomas and grandson of 
Thomas the settler, from which marriage came children and 
grandchildren. She married second John Olcott of Hartford, 
son of Thomas the settler, and had four children. .She 
married third Capt. Joseph Wadsworth of Charter Oak fame 
by whom she liad no children. The name Blackleach has dis- 
appeared from modern New England literature, partly from 
the excess of female descendants who lost the name in mar- 
riage, partly, perhaps, by the removal to other states of those 
who bore it, and partly no dou1)t by the interference of some 
spelling reformer. 



'A^ 




i^' 



^ 



^s 



^ 



Ml 




i 





AA 000 474 815 




f^ 




t' 



Jv 



m