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Full text of "Yester-years of Guilford"

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yester-years 
of Quilford 

MARY HOADLEY GRISWOLD 



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Incorporated 

GUILFORD, CONNECTICUT 



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Yester -Years of Guilford 



©0 the ^hree^ 

MRS. ALICE ELDREDGE LOVELL 
MRS. MARY BISHOP BULLARD 
HARRY FOWLER GRISWOLD 

Whose constant encouragement and steadfast faith in 

this undertaking through the years 

have made it possible. 

This Book of Guilford is Dedicated. 



Copyrighted 1938 by Mary Hoadley Griswold 

5* 



Tester -Years of Guilford 



Qontents 



Page 

Lost Acres of Guilford Green 9 

The Naughtys of Guilford 17 

Thomas Jordan's Home Lot 21 

Miles Dudley's Homestead 27 

Comfort Starr's House 29 

The Acadian House 33 

The Leete Corner 38 

Ephraim Darwin's Place 42 

Col. Samuel Hill 43 

Abial Eliot House 49 

Abel Chittenden House 53 

The Burgis Houses 56 

The Philo Bishop House 62 

House Madison Once Owned 64 

The Fowlers of Moose Hill 66 

The Black House 70 

The Amos Seward House 75 

The Great Ox Pasture 78 

The Tragedy of The Daniel Brown Leete House . 88 

Nathaniel Johnson Homestead 94 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Joseph Chittenden House 98 

Two HoDGKiN Houses 99 

David Hull^s House 102 

The Griffing Brothers .104 

The Fosdick Place 108 

Isaac StoVs Property Ill 

A Widow In 1759 114 

Two Collins Houses 119 

The Lees of Crooked Lane 121 

Fourth Church Parsonage 127 

Caldwell House 129 

Great Guns of Guilford 131 

Benton-Beecher House 136 

Philemon Hall House 143 

Four Elms House . 144 

The Island House 146 

Franklin Phelps House 149 

Major Lathrop's Four Chimneys 152 

The Woodward Tavern 155 

Minor Bradley Tavern 159 

Little Journey of A Great Man 161 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Illustrations 

East Side of Guilford Green in 1830 . . . frontispiece 

PAGE 

Dr. John Red field's Hottse 18 

Jared Leete's Home 19 

Comfort Starr's House 34 

The Acadian Hotise 3') 

Daniel Brown Leete House 98 

Nathaniel Johnson Homestead 99 

Captain Samuel Lee's House 130 

Caldwell House . . . . . . . 131 

The Minor Bradley Tavern .162 

Major Lathrop's House 163 



foreword 

Tester- Tears of Guilford is the result of thirty years 
of search of Guilford's records; of accumulation, from sources 
no longer available, of early names and events; of tracing the 
history of some of Guilford's old houses the origin of which 
had been buried in the dust of centuries. 

Tester-Tears does not include those ancient houses of 
Guilford whose history is preserved already by historical organ- 
izations or by families long owning them. Its concern is with 
Forgotten History. 

— Mary Hoadley Griswold 



Tester -Years of Guilford 



Lost Acres Of Guilford Green 



^. 



*HE LOST ACRES of Guilford Green— What became of 
them? 

The fact that nearly four acres of ground had disappeared 
from the original area of Guilford Green was accepted without 
comment for many generations. No theory nor tradition con- 
cerning that disappearance survived two centuries and a half. 

Guilford Green, according to early historians, was original- 
ly a parallelogram containing sixteen acres, the distance around 
it being one mile. Guilford Green, today, contains eleven and 
three-quarters acres, eight rods, within the curbing. 

What happened to it? 

Nicholas Huges's Home Lot 

The land on which the old Betts house stood south of the 
Green, now the site of the new Atlantic and Pacific Store, was 
originally part of Guilford Green, pared off the south side of 
the central plot to provide a home lot for Nicholas Huges, black- 
smith, whose trade was necessary to life in the primitive village. 

The record reads thus: "At a town meeting the 8th of 
November, 1670, the town grants to Nicholas Huges for to 
incorig him to work in his trade a parcil of land stacked out 
by the towne men beside John Parmily's home lott to be his 
own inheritance at the end of the tearm of seven years." 

The "parcil" was measured off by William Seward and 
William Johnson on June 25, 1673, 21 rods, 4 ft. long, 4 rods 
wide at one end, 2 rods, 10 feet wide at the other, and was 
bounded on three sides by the Green, on the south by John 
Parmily's home lot. And this is the reason for the jog in the 
highway at the southwest corner of the Green. Tradition 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

states that it was once possible to stand on Jones's Bridge and 
look east along the highway to the old oak in Boston Street, 
near the corner of Lovers' Lane. 

So Nicholas Huges came and set up, for a time, his forge 
on the south side of the Green beside the original highway. 
"When Mr. Markham was excavating for the foundations of the 
Markham Building he came upon ashes and cinders from that 
ancient forge under the southwest corner of his present build- 
ing. 

As the roadway was subsequently altered to run on the 
north side of Nicholas Huges's home lot, small strips of land 
on either side, that had belonged originally in the Green, became 
part of adjoining home lots. Evidently Huges did not remain 
the stipulated seven years and the land set off to him was ab- 
sorbed by adjoining properties. 

Now William Plane, one of the Whitfield Company, had 
his home lot assigned to him in Whitfield Street, reaching up to 
the Green. He was executed in New Haven after a few years, 
his widow married John Parmelee, Jr., and brought with her 
into the Parmelee family the real estate of her first husband. 
Thus reads the record: "John Parmalee married the widow 
plaine and soo these tow parsells of land .... as they are here 
teriord became his possession .... this six day of Aprill, 1668." 

After the death of his wife, formerly the Widow Plane, 
John Parmelee married another wife. Their son was Stephen 
Parmelee, who married, in 1693, Elizabeth Baldwin. They 
lived here until 1710, when they traded property with 
Josiah Rossiter of Guilford, deeding to him "one messauge or 
tenement, his home lot, 1 acre more or less with buildings." The 
land Stephen Parmelee got in return from Josiah Rossiter was 
located at "Newtown on the Stratford River," and was described 
as "Sherman's Farm." Josiah 's wife was Sarah Sherman, daugh- 
ter of the Honorable Samuel Sherman of Woodbury. 

So the Stephen Parmelees went to live in Newtown and 
Josiah Rossiter brought his family to live south side of Guilford 
Green. Josiah was a son of the distinguished Dr. Bryan Rossiter 

10 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

and became one of the principal men of Guilford. He was town 
clerk, deputy at the general court, judge of the New Haven 
County Court and of the County Court of Probate. He died 
in 1716 but this was the home of the Rossiters until 1781, when 
the heirs sold the homestead, now reduced to three-quarters of 
an acre, to Henry Hill. 

The new owner was no less distinguished than the former 
family. Henry Hill was the grandson of the renowned Colonel 
Samuel Hill ,whose residence was next east of the Hyland House. 
He was a worthy successor of his grandfather and of his uncle, 
Nathaniel Hill, in offices of public trust, his father having died 
early. He died in 1827 and with him ended the Hill dynasty 
in local politics, but his son, George Hill, was consul to Asia 
Minor and a poet, a contemporary of Halleck. 

By the authority of her husband's will, Leah Hill, widow 
of Henry Hill, sold the homestead in 1828 to pay his debts. 
Henry W. Chittenden owned it for ten years, selling it, in 1838, 
to Henry H. Eliot. 

Prelate Demick was the next owner for two short years. 
Of him nothing is known now beyond the fact of his tenure 
but the name is an unusual one. Whoever he was he leased 
ground to Albert Wildman before he quitclaimed the property 
to Samuel Eliot in 1841 and disappeared from the records. 

Thirteen days later Samuel Eliot sold to Abigail Franklin. 
By 1861 she was dead and the property passed to Laura Betts, 
the land being now diminished to one-half acre. In the Betts 
family the property remained until Laura Betts sold it to Charles 
Williams in 1902. 

Clarence Markham, the next owner, came to Guilford in 
1896. For a time he conducted his jewelry business in a store 
in the Norton Block, Water Street, then moved, in 1900, to the 
building of J. Harrison Monroe, on the corner. In 1902 he 
bought the old Betts house from Charles Williams, cut off the 
east wing and moved it into the rear yard and built, in its place, 
the Markham Building, which houses the jewelry store on the 

11 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

first floor, with the family apartment on the second and third 
floors. 

The old Betts house was taken down in 1935, when Mr. 
Markham replaced it with a modern store, now leased to the 
Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. 

Some yet remember the spacious porch over the front door, 
with its built-in benches, and the picket fence which shut in 
the tiny dooryard. These went when the street was widened 
and the sidewalk moved back. Mr. Markham kept the original 
front windows, casements opening out, and placed them on the 
wing in the rear of his store where they are now. 

Samuel Baldiuin's Home Lot 

In 1676 the Town of Guilford again had need of a central 
home lot wherewith to induce another blacksmith, Samuel Bald- 
win, to forsake Fairfield and ply his craft in Guilford. All the 
land around Guilford Green had already been assigned to own- 
ers. What could the Town Fathers do in this emergency? 

What the Town Fathers did do was to shear a strip of land 
off the east side of Guilford Green, toward the south, and deed 
it to Samuel Baldwin and his heirs and assigns forever. 

To understand this it is necessary to visualize the original 
layout of this land. Imagine State Street, or Crooked Lane, not 
ending at the northeast corner of the Green, as now, but ex- 
tending on to meet Boston Street or East Lane. Then imagine 
Guilford Green extending eastward from its present boundary, 
over the ground now occupied by Park Street and over a section 
of the present home lots on the east of the Green to meet this 
extension of State Street. 

Thus the language of the town's deed of land to Black- 
smith Baldwin, hitherto incomprehensible, becomes clear of 
meaning. It reads: "One-half acre of land UPON THE 
GREEN, between John Bishop's barn and the sawpit, ALL 

12 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

ALONG AGAINST THE FRONT OF JOHN BISHOP'S 
HOME LOT, according as it is there laid out." 

Immediately there arises the tradition that John Bishop's 
home lot of seven acres faced the east side of Guilford Green. 
It did. But it was the original Green that it faced. When the 
Green receded to the westward and Samuel Baldwin's long, nar- 
row home lot was contrived between the original Bishop home 
lot and the diminished Green, there was no outlet for the Bishop 
acres on the later Green frontage except by buying land of 
Samuel Baldwin. And that is exactly what happened. The 
second and third generation of Bishops obtained the northern 
part of Samuel Baldwin's land by an exchange effected in 1696. 
Not until then did the Bishop family build houses facing the 
Green's east side, none of which survive today. 

In fact there is but one house standing now that was built 
by a member of the Bishop family on or near the original home 
lot. This is the third-period house of Captain Nathaniel Bishop, 
in Boston Street near the southeast corner of the Green, owned 
now by Mr. and Mrs. John Maljkovich. 

The crook in Park Street, near the former Third Church, 
reveals where Samuel Baldwin's improvised home lot stopped. 
It lay "all along against the front of John Bishop's home lot" 
which was east of it. North of it was the "saw pitt," probably 
the place on the original northeast corner of the Green to which 
the first settlers hauled their newly-felled trees to be sawed and 
hewn into timbers and lumber for those first houses, which had 
to be built as rapidly and efficiently as possible. This bit of 
land could easily be, and doubtless was, absorbed by the Jones- 
Meigs home lot on which it bordered, and which extended north 
to Union Street. Crooked Lane was necessarily cut short off at 
the northeast corner of the Green and the present Park Street 
was substituted for the part of the original Crooked Lane which 
had to be sacrificed to meet the smithian emergency. 

The early house of John Bishop, the settler, stood probably 
where the house, now the home of George Travers, was built in 
1844. Such an old house is mentioned in the inventory of 

13 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Captain Nathaniel Bishop's estate in 1769, at which time the 
present house had been erected. Yet another house stood on 
the original Bishop home lot, which extended to the ground 
where Graves Avenue was opened about 1850, this being then a 
private road through Graves's land. This house was remembered 
by people lately living. It was of the salt box, or second period 
type, stood on or in front of the site of Raymond Rolf's bun- 
galow and was probably the home of Ebenezer Bishop, an uncle 
of Captain Nathaniel Bishop. 

Samuel Baldwin, having obtained title to his long, narrow 
home lot, built his house on or near the site of the later house 
now owned by Thomas H. Landon. After a time he found the 
land not lying to his liking. A trade of land was arranged be- 
tween him and his next neighbors on the east, Widow Susannah 
Bishop and her son, Sergeant John Bishop (the third John). 
By this trade the Baldwin lot secured more land east of the 
dooryard with a frontage on the "common country road," now 
Boston Street. The Bishop lot obtained an outlet on the Green 
frontage in exchange for the acres lying just behind the narrow 
strip that was Baldwin land. 

The bargain was made but, before the deeds could be 
signed, Samuel Baldwin died, in January, 1696, and the year 
was in December before the General Court empowered 
Widow Abigail Baldwin to sign her husband's name to the deed. 
Finally this was done and the north part of Blacksmith Bald- 
win's home lot became Bishop property. Sergeant Bishop built 
a house where the Third Church or Chapel Playhouse stands. 
Samuel Bishop, a brother of the elder Nathaniel, soon built a 
salt-box house where the Town Hall now stands. In 1739 an- 
other blacksmith, Stephen Spencer, lately come to town, bought 
Sergeant John Bishop's house. He sold this to Lewis Fairchild 
in 1754, having built for himself a new and more modern house, 
the one now owned by E. P. Bates. So the east side of Guilford 
Green was filling up with dwellings. 

Samuel Baldwin, the blacksmith, having died, his son, 
Timothy Baldwin, a weaver, owned the Baldwin homestead. 

H 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Nathaniel Bishop, Sr., the neighbor on the east, died in 1714. 
The young men, Timothy Baldwin and Nathaniel Bishop, Jr., 
in 1720, arranged another trade of land. By this, Baldwin ac- 
quired more land in the rear while Nathaniel Bishop, Jr., re- 
gained the lot on the "common country road" that earlier 
Bishops had traded to Samuel Baldwin. This was the land on 
which Captain Nathaniel Bishop, later in life, built the present 
Maljkovich house. 

In 1721 Timothy Baldwin and his wife, Bathsheba, sold 
their homestead on the southeast corner of Guilford Green to 
David Naughty, merchant, late of Boston. They removed to 
North Guilford and many illustrious descendants have traced 
their lineage to that home high in North Guilford hills. 

Captain Nathaniel Bishop House 

It was, then, on June 13, 1720, that young Nathaniel 
Bishop bought land from Timothy Baldwin on the west side 
of his deceased father, Nathaniel Bishop's, homestead. On 
December 12 of the same year he married Abigail Stone, but 
he seems to have continued living in the old house of his ances- 
tors until his fortune was made. He went to sea and became a 
sea-captain, commanding probably one of those vessels which 
were built in Guilford shipyards for the West India trade, car- 
rying down cargoes of animals and farm produce and bringing 
home rum, molasses and other products of the tropical islands. 
He accumulated money and gear, for the inventory of his estate 
fills several pages of the probate record. He was a farmer, as 
well as a sea captain, not an unusual combination in his day. 
The inventory valued his estate at 2,347 pounds, nearly $12,000, 
a considerable fortune for that time. 

Captain Nathaniel Bishop's house today bears evidence that 
it was built by a man of means. When Captain Nathaniel died 
in 1769 the house was unfinished, for both will and inventory 
mention "bords," sash and glass for finishing the house. 

Captain Nathaniel Bishop was sorely bereaved a few years 
before his own death. A son, Beriah Bishop, living north side 

15 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

of the Green, died in 1756; his wife and their oldest daughter, 
Abigail Scovil, died in one year, 1758; his youngest son, Levi 
Bishop, in 1760. 

The ownership of Captain Nathaniel Bishop's homestead 
passed to his grandsons, John Scovil, Jr., and Daniel Scovil. By 
1790 the Scovils had sold the house to Daniel Stanton, who 
opened a store on the home lot. He sold out to Dolly Stanton 
of Killingworth (Clinton) in 1798. 

Dolly Stanton sold the place in 1816 to Abel Kimberly, 
who owned it until 1829. Then he sold to Richard Holmes, 
who continued in business until business became over-compli- 
cated. The title passed to William C. Taylor & Company of 
New York in 1841. Through the next three years Harry B. 
Fowler was acquiring the title. He sold to Samuel Landon on 
April 18, 1844. 

Immediately Samuel Landon set off the east part of the 
home lot and the barn thereon to his son, Charles W. Landon, 
who built, probably the same year, the house now the home of 
George Travers. Charles W. Landon sold to Russell Crampton 
in 1848. Samuel Landon lived on in the older house until his 
death in 1886, forty-two years in all. 

So broken up into small parcels are the original home lots 
of the two men, John Bishop and Samuel Baldwin, that it was 
necessary to trace the origin of every present house as far east 
as the Hyland House and as far north as the former Third 
Church property in order to trace the history of Captain Na- 
thaniel Bishop's house which has served as a marker above the 
submerged land divisions of Guilford's earliest years. 



16 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Naughtys Of Guilford 

\^ HE home lot of Samuel Baldwin, the blacksmith, which 
the town fathers had contrived for him by cutting a section 
off the east side of Guilford Green, passed into the possession of 
David Naughty, late of Boston, in 1721, when Timothy and 
Bathsheba Baldwin sold to him the half-acre and more of land, 
the dwelling, barn and orchard. 

David Naughty and his wife, Ruth, at once opened a 
store on the place, David having been a merchant in Boston. 
After his death in 1739 goods in the store and wine in the cellar 
were inventoried at 658 pounds. His worldly estate included 
a herd of cattle and two horses. His debts in Boston, paid by 
his widow in settling his estate, amounted to 2,252 pounds. 

Peter Naughty, a brother of David, was living in North 
Guilford in 1731 when David, "for love and brotherly affec- 
tion" deeded to Peter "my home lot in Cohabitation". And 
Peter had children; David, not yet 21, named for his uncle and 
heir to his property when Madame Naughty should marry a 
second husband or die; Ruth and Joanne Naughty, to whom 
Uncle David willed a mourning suit each; Margot Naughty 
who was to receive nothing by special instructions in the will. 

The Naughtys had slaves, Montrose and Phillis, who had 
one son, Pompey, at the time of David Naughty's death in 
1739. For their future, and the future of any children that 
might thereafter be born to Montrose and Phillis, David 
Naughty made provision in his will. They were to be set free 
after the death of Madame Naughty. A house was to be built 
for them on a lot of land near the Naughty farm in Nut 
Plains, the lot to belong to Montrose, the house to be furnished 
and ten pounds yearly to be paid to them by his nephew and 

17 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

heir. Pompey was to have 50 pounds outright and to be fitted 
with his master's best suit "and all things comparable to said 
suit from top to toe". The rest of his wearing apparel was to 
go to Montrose. 

David Naughty had set his heart upon having the estate 
he was leaving, lands in Saybrook, Litchfield, North Guilford, 
Nut Plains and Guilford, as well as movable property, always 
in the Naughty name and made careful provision to that end. 
But the futility of human planning becomes painfully apparent 
for the century had not closed before all had passed from the 
hands of his nephew and heir. 

Madame Naughty never married again and so never was 
reduced to "my best bed and furniture and my best silver tank- 
ard", which was all that David's widow was "to enjoy of my 
estate after such marriage". Instead she took efficient com- 
mand of affairs and, in spite of the co-executorship of Nephew 
David after he became of age, she was able to pay up all her 
husband's debts and leave a considerable estate when she died 
in 1773. 

After the death of David Naughty in 1739, three more 
children were born to Montrose and Phillis. These were Moses, 
Aaron and Candace. For them all Madame Naughty, also, 
made generous provision in her will. The older slaves were to 
be set free and some of her jewelry and silk garments were to 
be sold for their maintenance. Pompey had been provided for 
by her husband's will. But as for the younger Negroes, Moses, 
Aaron and Candace, it seemed to Madame Naughty not well 
to set them adrift in a world with which they were unfitted to 
cope. So, notwithstanding the provision of freedom made in 
her husband's will, Madame Naughty indentured the three 
for life. 

Candace, then about 22 years old, was committed to Eben- 
ezer and Ann Parmelee in the Hyland House and after their 
death Candace was to go to their son-in-law and daughter, 
Ensign Hooker Bartlett and Ruth Bartlett. Candace went to 
her new home with most of the personal possessions of her late 

18 



^.: 




Dr. John Redfield's House, Built 1768, Torn Down 1937 




m 1 1 




Jared Leete's Home, Broad Street 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

mistress. But Mrs. Ebenezer Parmelee died in 1789, Ebenezer 
Parmelee and Hooker Bartlett and his wife were already dead 
and there was no one with legal claim so that Candace auto- 
matically became free at the age of 38. A glimpse of her in 
later years is given in the story of the Weld family in which 
she is mentioned as "poor old worn-out Candace, going here 
and there for the accommodation of the public, sometimes 
washing, sometimes making wedding cake." 

Aaron was placed in the family of Levi Hubbard, builder 
of the Black House, and went with them to New Haven when 
they sold the house to Nicholas Loyselle. 

Moses became the servant of the Rev. Amos Fowler whose 
home site is now occupied by the Town Hall. Moses was the 
thrifty and prudent servant who sent to college the son of his 
improvident master. He had been allowed to work out and 
had saved his wages and when the family problem came up he 
said "I got money, I send him to college". And so it was done. 

The nephew, David Naughty II, had to wait some years 
after the death of his uncle to enter upon his inheritance for 
Madame Naughty outlived her husband more than thirty 
years. He was past middle age when he became the owner of 
the "house in town" and other landed estate of his uncle. That 
he occupied Madame Naughty's house for a few years after 
her death is evident for he was in litigation with his neighbor, 
John Redfield, whose home was the so-called Monroe house, 
which stood next south of the Town Hall until November, 
1937. Six years after Madame Naughty's death, John Redfield 
obtained judgment against David Naughty II "for surrender- 
ing seison and possession" of land at Quonapaug, Nut Plains 
and 100 rods in "the town platt". Sheriff Hooker Bartlett 
served the papers on Naughty and delivered "turf and twig" 
on the premises. But the next spring, April 12, 1780, for "100 
lawful money", John Redfield deeded back to David Naughty 
the land at Nut Plains and Quonapaug, retaining "the town 
platt" land. 

19 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

David Naughty II then hved on the Nut Plains farm 
until 1795 when he sold the "home lot where I now live, with 
dwelling house, etc.," to Samuel Evarts, father of Nathaniel 
Evarts and great great grandfather of Mrs. Alice Eldridge 
Lovell. Part of this home lot he had previously, in 1790, deeded 
to his son, David Naughty, Jr. 

Parcel by parcel, between 1779 and 1795, David Naughty 
11 sold all the land in Guilford that his uncle had acquired so 
happily sixty years earlier in the expectation that his estate 
would remain in the Naughty name forever and a day. And 
now, two centuries later, the name remains only in connection 
with a lot in Nut Plains known as the Naughty Lot and the 
tradition that David Naughty II desired to be buried with his 
head out of ground that he might glare at his enemy from the 
burying ground on the Green — across from John Redfield's 
house. 

The home of Thomas H. Landon stands approximately on 
the site of the Baldwin-Naughty house which fell into Dr. 
John Redfield's hands in 1779. Here, in 1780, Dr. John Red- 
field built the mansion house which, with its quarter-acre at 
the southeast corner of Guilford Green, Jared Redfield sold, on 
January 24, 1818, to George Landon, grandfather of Thomas 
H. Landon, the present owner. 



20 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Thomas Jordan^s Home Lot 

CDhOMAS JORDAN, who came from England with the 
Rev. Henry Whitfield and his group in 1639, was assigned a 
home lot at the north side of Guilford Green, land now occupied 
by the home of Nelson H. Griswold, the Sage property recently 
owned by the late Robert T. Spencer, and the old Sage house, 
now owned by Francis E. Langdon. 

Returning to England in 165 5, Thomas Jordan became 
an eminent attorney at Lenham, in Kent, and died about 1705. 
He is supposed to have married Dorothy, oldest daughter of 
the Rev. Henry Whitfield. A daughter, Elizabeth Jordan, 
married the Honorable Andrew Leete, son of Governor William 
Leete, and to this son-in-law, Andrew Leete, Thomas Jordan, 
then of England, made over the title of his homestead in Guil- 
ford on March 25, 1674. 

Andrew Leete is said to have been instrumental in the con- 
cealment of Connecticut's charter during the usurpation of 
authority by Major Andros and to have hidden that charter, 
for a season, in his house in Guilford. This early house prob- 
ably stood somewhat back from the street, in the vicinity of 
the present house, home of the late Robert T. Spencer, as men- 
tion of an old cellar is made in a deed from Jared Leete to 
David Landon dated May 28, 1782. Andrew Leete died in 1692. 

The homestead passed to Andrew Leete's son, Samuel Leete 
(1677-1751) who married Hannah Graves in 1722. 

The pastor of the First Congregational Church, the Rev. 
Thomas Ruggles, Sr., died in 1728, and a division of opinion 
developed concerning the settlement of his son and namesake 
in his place, some favoring the settlement of another young 
man of Guilford, Edmund Ward. The outcome of the dis- 

21 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

agreement was the formation of the Fourth Congregational 
Church, of which the Rev. Edmund Ward was ordained as 
pastor on September 21, 1733. Samuel Leete was affiliated with 
the Fourth Society and on April 10, 1730, gave the land for a 
meeting house, so long as it should be used for that purpose and 
no longer. This meeting house stood approximately on the 
present site of Nelson H. Griswold's store. Church Street, or 
Durham Turnpike, was not opened until almost a century later. 
This meeting house continued in use until March 4, 1811. Deeds 
show that it was yet standing on February 8, 1813, but it was 
taken down soon after and the land then reverted to the original 
ownership. 

Just before his death in 1751 Samuel Leete sold to William 
Redj&eld a building lot, part of his home lot, next west of the 
Fourth Church. Two months later William Redfield sold the 
west section of this building lot to Pitman Collins. Each man 
built a house on his land. William Redfield sold his house and 
land to Beriah Bishop on March 26, 1754. Pitman Collins sold 
his house, next west, to Nathaniel Joslin (or Jocelin) on May 
17, 1760. 

Both places presently had new owners. In 1756 Beriah 
Bishop deeded the homestead he had bought from William Red- 
field to his son, Nathaniel Bishop, "for his advancement in the 
world". In 1769 Daniel Humphreys of New Haven succeeded 
Nathaniel Jocelin as owner of the Pitman Collins house and 
promptly sold it, on April 8, 1769, to Captain David Landon, 
son of Judge Samuel Landon of Southold, Long Island, who 
had married, on October 18, 1763, Rebecca, daughter of Dr. 
Nathaniel Ruggles of Guilford. They were the ancestors of 
the Landon family of Guilford. 

In the meantime, Samuel Leete having died in 1751, his 
son, Jared Leete, inherited by his father's will the eastern half 
of the Leete homestead. Jared bought the other half from his 
sister, Anna Leete, in 1773, this including her right and title in 
the dwelling house which, doubtless, was the original house 
built for Thomas Jordan more than a century earlier. 

22 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Back in 1712 Samuel Leete, father of Jared, had sold to a 
kinsman, Peletiah Leete, the southwest corner of his home lot 
and thereon Peletiah Leete had built a house. He had married 
Abigail Fowler, daughter of Abraham Fowler whose home was 
on the corner of Broad and Fair Streets, next west. Their 
daughter, Abigail Leete, sold the land back to Jared Leete, re- 
serving the right to take away the buildings any time before 
May 10, 1774. Later deeds reveal that Abigail Leete did move 
her house to the east side of the Fourth Church, on land now in 
Church Street. 

By the close of 1773 Jared Leete owned the western part 
of his father's original home lot and about 1774 he built the 
house, afterward owned by Miss Sage and, at the present time, 
owned by Francis E. Langdon. This house originally stood 
farther east on the home lot and was moved to its present loca- 
tion when Joel Tuttle built a new house, farther back from the 
street, later the home of his sister-in-law, Miss Sage, and yet 
later the home of the late Robert T. Spencer. 

Returning to the sister houses next west of the Fourth 
Church, the westernmost one was now the home of Captain 
David Landon, but the other, next to the church, was sold by 
Nathaniel Bishop, 2nd., on September 28, 1776, to the Rev. 
Daniel Brewer. 

This transfer was the more noteworthy because the Rev. 
Daniel Brewer had lately been dismissed from the pulpit of the 
church, beneath the eaves of which he elected to live. He had 
embraced the doctrines of the Sandemanians, the church was 
split by controversy and for several years was without a 
minister. On August 8, 1783, the Rev. Daniel Brewer sold the 
house to his neighbor, Captain David Landon. From Guilford 
he went to Newtown, Conn., where there was a society of 
Sandemanians, and died in Taunton, Mass., in 1825, aged 81. 

Captain Landon now owned all the street front between 
the Fourth Church on the east and Jared Leete on the west. 
In 1787 the property on the west passed from the name of 
Jared Leete, his conservator, Noah Fowler, being obliged to sell 

23 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

the homestead to reaUze 145 pounds, 1 shiHing, 11^ pence for 
Jared Leete's creditors. Joel Tuttle, late of New Haven, bought 
it and lived there until his death in 1822. His second wife was 
Elizabeth Fowler. 

Captain David Landon sold the house next the church in 
1793 to Samuel Brown, but after Captain David's death in 1796, 
it came back into the family and his sons, Jonathan Landon of 
Southold, Long Island, and William Landon of Guilford, sold 
it, on May 22, 1798. to John Hoadley, probably from Branford. 
Hoadley, on July 12, 1804, sold the house to Orren Hand. 

Orren Hand and his sister, Marina, were two of the seven 
children of Ichabod Hand, a distant relative of Jared Leete's 
wife, Hannah Hand. Orren Hand was a seafaring man. On 
September 6, 1804, he made his will, naming his sister, Marina 
Hand, his sole heir and his executrix. In December, 1806, at 
the age of 29 years, he was lost at sea, as was a brother, while 
another brother perished at sea a few years later. 

Marina Hand became the wife of the Rev. Nathan Bennett 
Burgess, a native of Washington, Conn., who was rector of the 
Episcopal Church on Guilford Green from 1801 to 1805. They 
were living in Brookhaven, N. Y., October 12, 1812, when they 
sold the house and lot next west of the meeting house to John 
Taylor. 

John Taylor had already bought, on July 18, 1812, the 
little house of Abigail Leete, on the east side of the Fourth 
Church, Abigail having died in 1792. Her heirs, Daniel, Miranda 
and Wealthy Leete, had sold it to Ezra Stone Bishop, from 
whom, two years later, John Taylor had bought it. On Feb- 
ruary 8, 1813, John Taylor bought the old, abandoned meeting 
house from the Fourth Society. When he sold the property, on 
December 13, 1814, to Joseph Nichols of New Haven, there 
were two houses thereon, the Abigail Leete house and the Hand- 
Burgess house, and a barn, but no mention was made of the 
meeting house, evidence that it had been torn down. 

Samuel Eliot of Guilford bought the property from Joseph 
Nichols on December 25, 1817, and a month later, January 23, 

24 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

1818, sold it to the Rev. David Baldwin (1780-1862) who 
married Ruth Eliot, daughter of Wyllys Eliot of Guilford, and 
was rector, at various times, of the Episcopal Churches of Guil- 
ford, North Guilford, North Killingworth, North Branford 
and Branford, but continued to reside in Guilford. At one 
time, three young girls from the South were members of his 
family and he tutored them. One of these, Mary Ann Tut- 
hill, probably a relative of the Tuttles next door, afterward be- 
came the wife of Frank Stockton, the writer of delightful 
stories. Mr. and Mrs. Stockton were guests of Miss Clara I. 
Sage in later ^ears. 

On April 16, 1818, the Rev. Nathan B. Burgess, then of 
Plymouth, Conn., quitclaimed to the Rev. David Baldwin, for 
one cent, all claim to the property, the latter having paid up 
the mortgage placed thereon by John Taylor. 

Ten years after the death of the Rev. David Baldwin, his 
heirs, on May 4, 1872, sold the property, with one dwelling, 
store and other buildings to Nelson Hotchkiss. The little house 
of Abigail Leete had gone to make way for the opening of 
Church Street about 1825. The store was on the ground as 
early as 1846 when William H. Baldwin quitclaimed to David 
Baldwin the store on the latter's land "now occupied by me as 
a country store". 

Nelson Hotchkiss, who now owned the house built by Wil- 
liam Redfield in 1751, moved the house back from the sidewalk 
to its present location, enlarged and improved it. It passed to 
his heirs and is now owned by a grand nephew and namesake, 
Nelson Hotchkiss Griswold. 

As to the house built by Pitman Collins in 1751 and later 
the home of Captain David Landon, his son, Nathaniel Ruggles 
Landon, at the southwest corner of the Green, sold the house 
and half -acre of land to Elizabeth Tuttle on April 6, 1830. In 
the Griff ing genealogy, published in 1881, mention is made of 
a "two-chimneyed red house" lately removed, which was the 
home of Deacon Robert Griffing before he removed to North 
Guilford about 1767. He was a tenant only. 

25 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

The stately mansion of Joel Tuttle was doubtless built soon 
after Joel Tuttle, Jr., had inherited his father's property and 
after his mother had bought the Landon place, that is, about 
1830. Joel Tuttle's wife was Lucy Sage of Cromwell. Her 
sister, Clara I. Sage, made her home with her widowed sister. 
The only son, Willie Sage Tuttle, died in youth. Miss Clara Sage 
outlived her sister, Mrs. Joel Tuttle, and inherited the Tuttle 
property. After her death it was purchased by Robert T. 
Spencer, who came back to his native town to spend his last 
years and died on June 25, 1535. 



26 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Miles Dudley^ s Homestead 

\D HE HOME of William Dudley, one of the Whitfield Com- 
pany, was on the east side of Fair Street, his house standing 
about on the site of the present home of Attorney George E. 
Beers, the well, with its sweep and bucket, being on the side- 
walk. Nathaniel and Betsy Ruggles, descendants of William 
Dudley, were its last occupants. They died in 1840, after which 
the house, two centuries old, was taken down. 

Joseph Dudley, son of William Dudley, occupied his father's 
homestead but his son. Miles Dudley, (1676-1753) who married 
Rachel Strong in 1706, lived on Miss Ida Hubbard's site by the 
evidence of a deed of 1707. The Dudley lot extended south to 
the present north line of the Fair Street School grounds. 

Miles Dudley's youngest son, John Dudley, (1721-1808) 
married Tryphena Stone and lived in his father's homestead 
until 1775, when he sold "the home lot where I now dwell", 
lYz acres, with house, etc., to Nathaniel Bishop II for 360 
pounds. 

Nathaniel Bishop II sold the place in 1777 to Jasper Grif- 
fing who had lately bought the Old Stone House. Jasper 
Griffing died in 1800, his son, Joel Griffing, in 1826. Joel 
Griffing's daughter, Lydia, wife of Colonel William Hart, died 
in 1819, seven years before her father's death. In 1832 Colonel 
William Hart, father and guardian of Sally A. Hart and Wil- 
liam H. Hart, grandchildren of Joel Griffing, sold the property 
to William Hale. In 1833 William Hale sold the present corner 
lot to John S. Bishop of North Madison. 

York Street then extended no farther east than Fair Street 
and this homestead was bounded on the north by John Starr 
and Bela Stone, east by Durham Turnpike, south by the Town 

27 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

of Madison which then owned the present TurnbuU homestead, 
and west by Liberty Street, as Fair Street was called for a few 
years. Prior to 1825 the home lots on the east side of Fair Street 
"reared back" against the home lots on the west side of State 
Street. 

The estate of John S. Bishop in 1838 sold the house and 
lot to William Wooster of Guilford. The property changed 
hands several times until 1859 when John F. Kimberly bought 
it from Daniel S. Redfield and made his home there until 1878, 
when he sold the place to William D. Frisbie of New London, 
son of Mrs. Abigail Hubbard by her first marriage and half- 
brother of Miss Ida Hubbard, the present owner. 



28 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Comfort Starves House 

[^ OMFORT STAR in 1694 came from Middletown to Guil- 
ford. Here he lodged in the "ordinary" kept by John Hopson 
or Hobson in the Old Stone House which had been built as the 
home of the Rev. Henry Whitfield, leader of the founders of 
Guilford who had come from England in 1639. 

Now John Hopson had a daughter, Elizabeth, a maid of 
twenty summers. Comfort Starr was twenty-five. They met 
and their courtship was short. They were married in the sum- 
mer of 1694, bought the house of John Collins, formerly Henry 
Kingsnorth's, in Crooked Lane, and there passed their lives. This 
house is the only one now standing in Guilford, with the ex- 
ception of the rebuilt Henry Whitfield House, of all the houses 
that were the homes of the Henry Whitfield group. 

Comfort Starr of Guilford was a son of Comfort Starr of 
Middletown, a grandson of Dr. Thomas Starr of the vicinity 
of Boston, and a great grandson and namesake of Dr. Comfort 
Starr, that pioneer surgeon or chirurgeon who, with three child- 
ren and three servants, left the comforts of Kent, England, in 
1635, went on board the good ship, "Hercules" of Sandwich, 
"and therein transported from Sandwich to the plantation called 
New England in America". Later his good wife followed him 
with the other children. Dr. Comfort Starr practiced first in 
New Towne (Cambridge), then in Duxbury, and finally re- 
moved to Boston where he died in 1680. 

Comfort Starr of Guilford was a tailor. In the south 
chamber of his house in Crooked Lane he worked at his trade 
with such assiduity that he is said to have worn through the 
floor where he stood at his cutting board. His tailor's goose 
and a chest bearing the initials of Comfort and Elizabeth Starr 

29 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

were exhibits, in later years, in the state historical museum in 
the Henry Whitfield House. His industrious life brought re- 
sults. He became a large land owner and left a handsome estate 
when he died in 1743, lacking one year of a half-century of 
married life. Elizabeth lived nine years longer. Their ashes 
lie beneath the turf of Guilford Green west of the Soldiers' 
Monument. 

There had been eight children, but one son, another Com- 
fort, had died at the age of 18 years. Five daughters and two 
sons lived longer. These were Elizabeth who married Ebenezer 
Fowler; Hannah, wife of Ensign Nathaniel Dudley; Abigail, 
wife of John Graves, Esq.; Submit, single woman; Amy, wife 
of John Davis; Jonathan who married Abigail Cadwell; Jehos- 
aphat who married Elizabeth, daughter of the elder Rev. Thomas 
Ruggles. 

Jonathan Starr learned his father's trade and to him, in 
1732, the father deeded more than an acre of land across the 
street from his home. There Jonathan built, that same year, 
the large, square, hip-roofed house now the home of Rollin F. 
Beecher. The house was a fine one and appears to have been too 
ambitious a project for the young man for the next year he 
deeded it back to his father. In his will Comfort Starr be- 
queathed to Jonathan "(besides what I have already given and 
paid for him)" the life improvement of certain lands and "my 
musquet and half my ammunition." After Jonathan's decease 
half the said lands were to go to Jonathan's son. Comfort, "in 
case he shall live to the age of 21 years". This grandson died 
at the age of 20, as had that other Comfort at the age of 18 
years. Only one of Jonathan Starr's children lived to mature 
years. This was Lucy, a woman of great beauty, who outlived 
four husbands, all of East Guilford; Simeon Dudley who died 
at sea, Nathan Meigs, Thomas Bevan and Mr. Wilcox, whose 
widow she was when she died in 1816. 

Jehosaphat Starr inherited his father's homestead. He was 
of different calibre from his brother, Jonathan, and was a prom- 

30 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

inent man in the town. He died in 1769, leaving the home- 
stead of his father to his sons, John and WiUiam Starr. In 1808 
the brothers divided the homestead and John and his wife, Mary 
Parmelee, remained in the old house while William Starr oc- 
cupied the homestead of Captain Samuel Lee, next above, which 
he had bought in 1795. 

John and Mary Starr were the parents of one son and seven 
daughters, these wittily known in Guilford as the "Seven Stars" 
or the "Pleiades". The son, John Starr, removed with his fam- 
ily to Verona, N. Y., in 1834. The seven sisters were Ruth, 
Clara, Hannah and Grace, none of whom married; Elizabeth, 
second wife of Jedediah Parker; Mary, wife of Captain Joel 
Griff ing; Minerva, wife of Charles Edward Fowler, mother of 
the late Mrs. Beverly Monroe, and grandmother of the late John 
R. Monroe. Grace Starr was the last of the sisters to remain in 
the old Starr homestead where she died in 1874, at the age of 
83 years, the place soon after being sold out of the family. It 
was Hannah Starr who planted in the front yard two black 
walnut trees from nuts picked up by her beneath the trees in 
front of the present property of Mrs. M. F. Bonzano on the 
west side of the Green. She planted them while the church bell 
was joyously ringing because of the signing of the peace treaty 
that closed the War of 1812. Hannah Starr died in 1839. 

William Starr, who bought the Captain Samuel Lee place, 
died in 1816 and was one of the last of Guilford's people to 
be buried in the Green. The house on the opposite corner was 
built for his son, William Starr, Jr., but it passed from the Starr 
name in 1838. A later owner, Captain Reuben Fowler, enlarged 
to its present size the original story-and-a-half house. Later it 
was purchased by the late Elbert B. Potter. The Samuel Lee 
house continued in the Starr family, being owned by William 
Starr's son, Comfort Starr, and his grandson, John Shipman 
Starr. After the latter 's death it was sold to Edgar Wilcox. 
From this house went forth, as a missionary to Japan, Elizabeth 
Starr, wife of John H. DeForest, who died in that country, an 
aged woman, in the winter of 1915-16. 

31 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

A daughter of the tailor, Comfort Starr, named Elizabeth, 
married in 1718 Ebenezer Fowler, son of Abraham Fowler and 
Elizabeth Bartlett. They built a house just off the southeast 
corner of the Green, the site of which was about in front of the 
present home of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick T. Dudley. Eight 
children were born to them, one daughter, Elizabeth, remaining 
single. Huldah became the third wife of Samuel Chittenden, 
owner of the Acadian Flouse. Lucy married Joseph Weld. 
Ebenezer, Jr., married Desire Bristol, daughter of Bezaleel Bris- 
tol who later settled in North Madison, first called North 
Bristol, being named for him. 

Now Ebenezer Fowler, Sr., had been allotted land at Sugar 
Loaf Hills (so-named as early as 1706) in North Guilford in a 
division of land. There he built a house in 1743 and deeded it 
to his son, Ebenezer Fowler, Jr., but reserved to himself and 
wife, Elizabeth Starr, the use of one-half the house for life. It 
is recorded that Jonathan Starr's elder son. Comfort, who died 
in 1751 at the age of 20, and Jonathan Starr, himself, in 1765, 
both died in this house at Sugar Loaf, doubtless in that part 
which had been reserved for the use of Jonathan's brother-in- 
law and sister. 

This house was the birthplace of the writer, a descendant, 
in the seventh generation, from Ebenezer and Elizabeth Fowler. 



32 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Acadian House 



O 



NCE known as the Kimberly house, it is now called the 
Acadian House because tradition relates that this roof sheltered 
for a time, the homeless, penniless refugees from Grand Pre, 
Nova Scotia, set ashore at Guilford Point by a British ship late 
in the autumn of 1755. 

It was in 1670 that Joseph Clay and his bride of that year, 
Mary Lord (anciently Laud) came from Saybrook to Guilford. 
Joseph Clay's home lot contained one acre and was located "on 
the hiway that passeth down to Richard Bristow's house". To 
the east were the common or undivided lands. Richard Bristow 
or Bristol's home lot was on the corner of State and Union 
Streets and he was a great uncle of Bezaleel Bristol who, a few 
generations later, was a pioneer settler in North Madison, early 
called North Bristol. 

There was no house on the land when Joseph Clay's "ter- 
rier" was described in the town records so that he must have 
built it for his bride that year, 1670. It faces the west, frankly 
independent of the curves in the highway. The front door 
now is restored to its rightful place. Abraham Kimberly, in 
1815 or thereafter, moved the front door to the north side, 
substituting a window in the center front. This later side 
entrance is seen in some pictures of the house, taken before the 
recent restoration. 

Four daughters were born to Joseph and Mary Clay, two 
dying in infancy and two living to mature years. Mary mar- 
ried John Mason and passes from the story. Sarah married 
John Chittenden in 1701, when she was 27 years old. She had 
been an orphan for several years, Joseph Clay having died in 
1695, his wife in 1692. To Sarah Clay passed the title to the 

33 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

homestead for beneath Joseph Clay's terrier is written "A record 
of two parcels of land to Sarah Clay, alias Sarah Chittenden, by 
consent of her husband, John Chittenden". 

The property remained in the Chittenden name for 144 
years. John Chittenden was a grandson of William Chittenden 
of Cranbrook. Both John and Sarah died in the prime of life, 
the latter in 1717, leaving 15 -year-old John and 13 -year-old 
Samuel double orphans. Their paternal grandfather took care 
of them. Young John Chittenden married Bathsheba Crutten- 
den and settled in North Guilford, deeding to his younger 
brother, Samuel Chittenden, the homestead of the Clays, their 
grandparents. 

In the same year, 1726, Samuel Chittenden married Susan- 
nah Bishop. Five children were born to them, then Susannah 
died and Phyllis Burgis, widow of Nathaniel Johnson and 
daughter of Thomas Burgis, married Samuel Chittenden. One 
child, Benjamin, was born, then Phyllis also died. Huldah Fow- 
ler, daughter of Ebenezer Fowler at the southeast corner of the 
Green, was Samuel Chittenden's third wife and she outlived 
him for he died in 1783. 

The Chittenden family since early days had owned land 
in what is now East River although it was part of Guilford 
rather than East Guilford (now Madison) until the latter was 
made a separate town in 1826. Here Samuel Chittenden owned 
a more modern house in which he was living doubtless at the 
time the Acadians arrived here, so that the house of this story 
could have been vacant and available for occupancy by these 
destitute French people. 

In the division of Samuel Chittenden's property there was 
"set to Widow Huldah Chittenden one-third part of either of 
the houses that belonged to said deceased for her own use but 
not to hire out the same or bring into said house any other 
family to dwell therein". 

This stipulation regarding an outside family may have had 
reference to the presence for a time beneath this roof of the 
Acadian people. If so, it is the only evidence to be found in 

34 




Comfort Starr's House, Originally Henry Kingsnorth's, 

About 1645 




The Acadian House, Originally Joseph Clay's, 1670 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

the land records that the Acadians found shelter beneath this 
roof. 

To a son, Noah Chittenden, passed the homestead "where 
he dwells". Noah had married Elizabeth Crampton and here he 
spent his life. A daughter, Mindwell Chittenden, married 
Curtiss Blatchley, and to them the other children quitclaimed 
the homestead after the death of Noah Chittenden in 1802, 
specifying that this was "the residence of our honored father 
while in life and the place where he died". 

Five generations had owned this house for 144 years when 
the Blatchleys sold it on November 3, 1814, to Leonard Cham- 
berlain. He, three months later, in February, 1815, sold it to 
Abraham Kimberly. In that family it remained until within 
the memory of the present generation. It is now the property 
of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Greene of New Jersey, who occupy 
it as a summer home. 

So much for the history of the house. The tradition that 
it sheltered for a time the unhappy refugees from Nova Scotia 
was handed down in the family of Colonel George Foote and 
a bit of lace, said to have been made by one of the Acadian 
women, was preserved in that family until placed in the Henry 
Whitfield State Historical Museum. History records the story 
of these refugees as follows: 

In the summer of 175 5, when Guilford was a loyal colony 
of England, British troops were engaged in reducing the French 
colony of Nova Scotia, assisted by the militia of the New Eng- 
land colonies. 

The tragic story of the fate of the people of Grand Pre, as 
told in Longfellow's "Evangeline", is founded on fact. The 
British took the French inhabitants prisoners, put them aboard 
a ship which sailed down the coast and left small groups of 
refugees in the various coastwise settlements. It was late au- 
tumn when Guilford was reached and the "French family" was 
set ashore here. 

The problem of taking care of these helpless and destitute 
strangers did not come up in town meeting until the following 

35 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

spring, and somewhere they must have found shelter and sus- 
tenance during the long, hard winter. It seems probable that 
Samuel Chittenden took pity on them and gave them shelter 
at this time, but there is no recorded evidence as to where they 
were housed that winter. 

On April 12, 1756, it was voted in Guilford town meeting 
"That the selectmen shall, with convenient speed, put out to 
service so many of the French family which is amongst us as 
they can dispose of without cost to the best advantage to free 
the town from charge". To the Legislature of Connecticut it 
was reported that eleven refugees were quartered in Guilford. 
The Legislature ruled that the refugees should not leave those 
Connecticut towns in which they were quartered. 

Twice during the next sixteen years do the town records 
lift the curtain that conceals these strangers from view. On 
December 27, 1768, Guilford town meeting voted to pay the 
old Frenchman's house rent out of the town treasury to Eliph- 
alet Hall. And on April 13, 1772, "Upon the petition of the 
old Frenchman praying for the assistance of the town in de- 
fraying his charges of his passage to Canada, Voted that the 
selectmen of the town furnish the said Frenchman with twenty- 
five dollars (the first mention on these records of the dollar) 
to be disposed at their discretion to the person who appears to 
carry the said Frenchman and his family to Albany." 

The word "passage" indicates that the journey to Albany 
was to be by boat and there was a constant procession of packets 
plying down Long Island Sound to New York and on up the 
Hudson River. It is probable that some thrifty sea captain 
earned the twenty-five dollars and set the French people ashore 
at Albany. 

On up to Montreal went the main traveled trail and doubt- 
less these exiles followed it, glad to hear again their own familiar 
tongue and to dwell again among those of their own nation. 
Somewhere in Canada there may be living today the descend- 
ants of these Acadian exiles who hold the family tradition of 

36 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

the years spent by their ancestors in that distant town by the 
sea, called by the English, Guilford. 

At Albany, these French people passed into the silence. 
Now came on the strenuous and fateful days that ushered in 
the War of the Revolution. Only a few years later the French 
were the allies and the British the enemies of New England, 
their positions being reversed by "the fortunes of war." 



37 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Leete Corner 

v^ HE early name of Fair Street was Petticoat Lane. Three 
men had their home lots on the west side of the street. Robert 
Kitchell's lot extended from Broad Street to the present north 
line of Samuel Spencer's property. Then came the lot of Francis 
Bushnell, Jr., afterward the lot of William Johnson who came 
to Guilford in 1653. The corner lot at Fair and York Streets, 
extending to River Street, belonged to John Caffinch or Caf- 
finge. The western part of the Caffinge lot later became Robin- 
son property. 

In 1652 the Town of Guilford had become the owner of 
the corner lot at Fair and York Streets. (Until 1840 York 
Street went no farther east than Fair Street). This corner lot 
extended west to the Robinson line and south to Dr. Evans's 
south line. The octagon house stands on land once part of 
William Johnson's home lot. 

Guilford had been in need of a blacksmith and, in 1652, 
induced Thomas Smith to come from Fairfield in that capacity, 
giving him this corner lot on condition that he would ply his 
trade in Guilford. But he removed to Clinton (then called 
Killingworth) after deeding his home lot to Thomas Cooke on 
October 9, 1660. The Town of Guilford acquired the lot again 
on September 27, 1695, and presented it again, this time to the 
Rev. Thomas Ruggles, Sr., as part of his settlement. It was 
voted to build thereon a "suitable house which shall be for the 
ministers that settle with us here in Guilford". On January 22, 
1696, the house was ordered to be 46 x llYz feet, 15 feet be- 
tween joists, and on February 26 it was voted to add a porch 
thereto and a tax was laid to cover the expense incurred. 

This house was never built. The land records reveal the 
reason. The Rev. Thomas Ruggles exchanged lots with Daniel 

38 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Bishop, as told in the story of the Woodward Tavern, and lo- 
cated on the west side of the Green, within sight of the meeting 
house. 

Daniel Bishop died in 1751. His son, Daniel Bishop, Jr., 
sold the homestead in Fair Street to Daniel Stone on May 30, 
1757, describing it as "1 messauge or tenement where I now 
live", with dwelling house and barn, bounded south by Cap- 
tain Johnson and Captain Leete (Reuben Leete, site of octagon 
house) west by Esquire Johnson, north and east by highway. 

This home lot remained intact until 1774. In that year 
Daniel Stone sold to Rufus Graves the corner lot, where the 
house of Mrs. Eva B. Leete now stands. Here Rufus Graves 
built a house which he sold to Rosewell Woodward in 1777. 
The latter sold it, in 1782, to David Hull, who, on August 21, 
1783, sold this house on the corner to Thomas Woodger. On 
May 4, 1784, Thomas Woodger bought an adjoining strip of 
land on the south from Benjamin Stone, son of Daniel Stone, 
who was living in the old Daniel Bishop-Daniel Stone house 
on the site of the present house of Dr. J. H. Evans. 

By this second purchase by Thomas Woodger the tiny house 
lot of Rufus Graves and three-fourths of an acre of Benjamin 
Stone's land were thrown together. But Woodger soon sold the 
southern portion to Joseph Green who acquired also the corner 
and the old Rufus Graves house. On September 3, 1785, Joseph 
Green sold the southern portion of land to Abraham Woodward 
who built thereon the house now owned by Earle B. Leete. On 
April 4, 1791, Joseph Green sold the Rufus Graves house on the 
corner to Colonel Noah Fowler of Moose Hill, father-in-law of 
Abraham Woodward, who was a brother of Rosewell Wood- 
ward of Woodward's Tavern on the present site of Douden's 
Drug Store. 

In the summer of the same year. Colonel Noah Fowler sold 
the Rufus Graves house on the corner and an eight-rod garden 
patch to Widow Rebekah Ackerly. The south line was to cross 
the well of water on the premises lately bought of Joseph Green. 

Abraham Woodward's house was sold January 26, 1797, 

39 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

to Solomon Stone, Jr., across the street who, four years later, 
sold the place to James Wheadon of Guilford. He, thirteen 
days later, April 17, 1801, bought from John Starr, administra- 
tor, the late residence of Widow Rebekah Ackerly. During his 
five years of ownership James Wheadon took down the old 
house on the corner built by Rufus Graves. Writing in the 
New Haven Palladium in 1879, the late Henry P. Robinson 
stated "Not twenty years ago this corner .... was the stone 
wall end of a lot with a broken tin and pewter pile, gone the 
way of all the earth". The old cellar place of Rufus Graves 
had become a junk pile. But here, in 1869-70, Edwin A. Leete 
built the large house on the corner which is now the home of 
his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Eva B. Leete. 

Where the octagon house now stands. Captain Reuben 
Leete had built a house, about 1744, on land bought by him 
from Noah Hodgkin who had lately bought it from Sergeant 
Nathaniel Johnson of whose home lot it had been a part. Jona- 
than Vaill owned it in 1801 and Lydia and Hannah Vaill were 
the last occupants. This house disappeared and on its site 
Edwin A. Leete, in 1856, built the octagon house now owned 
by Mrs. Claude A. Griswold, and occupied it until 1870, when 
he built the corner house. 

James Wheadon, then of Branford, on September 4, 1806, 
sold the Abraham Woodward house (Earle B. Leete's) to John 
Hall, who, in 1815, bought from Joel Griff ing, for $425, the 
old house on the south, the Daniel Bishop-Daniel Stone house, 
last occupied by Aaron Hinman, on the site of Dr. J. H. Evans's 
house. 

But John Hall soon fell on evil days for on August 14, 
1818, he deeded the whole corner lot, down to the present site 
of the octagon house, to Maltby & Field, merchants, and Simeon 
Hyde, all of New York. 

These New York men held the title to the place until 
January 14, 1822, when they indentured it to Benjamin and 
Alfred DeForest, also merchants of New York. From them, 
on March 27, 1822, Amanda Scranton, wife of William Stewart 

40 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Frisbie, bought the house now owned by Earle B. Leete. Here 
was born, August 27, 1830, Charles Henry Frisbie, who, thirty- 
two years later gained national fame as the "Hero of the 
Thirty-Seventh Psalm". As captain of the "Jacob Bell", he was 
returning from China with a cargo valued at one and one-half 
million dollars, when his ship was captured, on February 12, 
1863, by the privateer, "Florida", two or three days out of New 
York. The cargo was seized, the crew taken prisoners and the 
"Jacob Bell" was set on fire. Captain Frisbie opened his Bible 
and, while his ship burned, read to Captain Moffit of the 
privateer those inspired words, "I have seen the wicked in great 
power .... yet he passed away and, lo, he was not." 

Amanda Frisbie died in 1870. She had sold to George C. 
Leete, in 1856, the lot on which was built the present home of 
his daughter, Mrs. Annie Leete White, and, in 1868, to Edwin 
A. Leete the lot on which he built the corner house. After 
Mrs. Frisbie's death Edwin A. Leete bought the house where 
his grandson now lives but sold it in 1871 to Charles F. Leete, 
trustee for the widow of Medad Holcomb, as her home. After 
Mrs. Holcomb's death, Edward M. Leete, son of Edwin A. Leete, 
bought the house on September 6, 1889, and lived there many 
years. His son, Earle B. Leete, is the present occupant and 
owner. 

No property in the residence section of Guilford has passed 
through so many changes of ownership nor had so diversified 
a history as the section here described. 



41 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Ephraim Darwin^s Place 

vl^ HE homestead lying between Church and North Fair 
Streets and bounded on the south by York Street was sold in 
1936 by Robert Stone of Kansas City, Mo., to Mrs. Katherine P. 
Norton of Madison. She immediately sold the house and home 
lot to the Misses Ethel L. Harwood and Edith S. Blake, both of 
Melrose, Mass. 

Until the day of these transactions the property had been 
owned by only two families since the settlement of Guilford. 
Ephraim Darwin, who came to Guilford about 1670, left his 
name in the neighborhood for the rocks on the hill beyond 
were always known as "Ephraim's Rocks." He, in 1719, deed- 
ed "the messauge where I now dwell" to his son, Daniel Darwin, 
who, in turn, deeded the property, in 1743, to his two sons, 
Stephen and Ebenezer Darwin. They sold it in two parcels in 
1764-5 to Caleb and Daniel Stone. Caleb's son, Solomon, 
married Daniel's daughter. Thankful, and to Solomon Stone, in 
1772, this place was deeded. The present house is said to have 
been built in 1766. Robert Stone, who lately sold the place, 
is a descendant of Solomon Stone. 



42 



Tester -Years of Guilford 



CoL Samuel Hill 

VwX HE name of "Sam Hill" is heard wherever the English 
language is spoken. To "run like Sam Hill", is a common 
expression. Who was this familiar paragon of so many skills? 

Colonel Samuel Hill was born in Guilford, February 21, 
1678, a son of John Hill and his wife, Thankful Stow, and a 
grandson of the settler, John Hill, carpenter, who came from 
Northamptonshire, England, and settled in Guilford in 1654, 
and whose "stack of chimneys", "now" dwelling, home lot and 
orchards were at the northeast corner of Guilford Green, cover- 
ing ground now the home lot of Mrs. Frederick C. Spencer and 
extending well up State Street. 

In youth Samuel Hill learned the trade of "feltmaker", 
or, in modern parlance, hat maker. At the age of 3 1 he married 
Huldah Ruggles, a daughter of Samuel Ruggles and his wife, 
Ann Bight, of Roxbury, Mass., a granddaughter of the settler, 
Thomas Ruggles from Nazing, England, and a sister of the 
Rev. Thomas Ruggles who was called in 1695 to the pastorate 
of the Congregational Church in Guilford to succeed the Rev. 
Joseph Eliot, deceased. The children of Colonel Samuel Hill 
and his good wife were four: Samuel, Huldah, Henry and 
Nathaniel. 

Col. Samuel Hill was a brother of John Hill who had 
married Hannah Hyland, daughter of George Hyland of the 
Hyland House, and who, as one of the four sons-in-law of the 
Widow Hyland, had participated in that famous lottery by 
which the widow parcelled out the Hyland homestead to the 
husbands of her four daughters. In 1702 Samuel Hill bought 
the Hyland land of his brother, John Hill, who lived at the 
northeast corner of the Green. The remaining parcels of land 

43 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

he purchased one by one from his brother's brothers-in-law, 
exchanging other pieces of land for them as was the primitive 
custom, until he owned all of George Hyland's acres. The 
lot farthest west, which contained the dwelling, he exchanged 
with Isaac Parmelee and his wife, Elizabeth Hyland, for the lot 
which Isaac Parmelee had drawn in the family lottery. Col. 
Samuel Hill was then the owner of all the land on the north 
side of Boston Post Road from the present western boundary 
of William Rolf to the western boundary of the Griswold 
homestead lot, and extending north to Union Street. His 
dwelling, built about 1709 and torn down in 1849, was on the 
site now occupied by the house owned and formerly occupied 
by William Rolf. 

The house of Colonel Samuel Hill was something unique 
in Guilford architecture of that period and was remembered 
a generation ago as having had a three-story front. It sheltered 
four generations. The present house, owned by William Rolf, 
or its nucleus, was built for the great grandchildren of Colonel 
Samuel Hill, Samuel and Anna Hill, by their conservator, 
Deacon Hull. They died in 1877, aged 93 and 90 years re- 
spectively. 

In public life Colonel Samuel Hill was a man of affairs. 
He was chosen town clerk in 1717 and afterwards served as 
clerk of the proprietors of the town until his death. When 
the Probate Court for Guilford District was formed in 1720, 
he was chosen clerk and later judge of the court, holding the 
latter position for the remainder of his life. He was one of 
the principal magistrates of Guilford and justice of the County 
Court of New Haven. He represented Guilford in the General 
Assembly with such regularity that the story goes that the 
moderator of town meeting would rise and say: 

"We are here to elect Colonel Sam Hill and someone to go 
with him to the next General Court." 

Col. Samuel Hill's mantle fell, not upon his first born son, 
who was physically disabled, not upon his second son, who died 
in early manhood, but upon his youngest son, Nathaniel Hill. 

44 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

A grandson, Judge Henry Hill, son of the deceased son, Henry, 
in later years upheld the standard raised by his grandfather 
but with him ended the family dynasty in local politics. Dis- 
tinction, however, was won in the fourth generation by George 
Hill, poet, a friend and contemporary of Guilford's other poet, 
Fitz-Greene Halleck. 

George Hill was a son of Judge Henry Hill and his wife, 
Leah Stone, sister of Medad Stone of the Tavern at the north- 
west corner of the Green. Their home at the south side of 
Guilford Green was torn down in 193 5 to make place for a 
chain store. He at one time held the responsible position of 
teacher of mathematics in the United States Navy. In 1839 
he was appointed consul for the southern part of Asia Minor. 
Failure of health caused his return to his native town and his 
last years were spent in Guilford. 

In the enumeration of famous descendants of Col. Samuel 
Hill, should be included the name of Howard Eliot, former 
president of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Rail- 
road Co., a son of Charles Wyllys Eliot, a native of Guilford, 
and a grandson of Andrew Eliot and his wife, Catherine Hill. 
The last named was a daughter of Judge Henry Hill, the 
grandson of Col. Samuel Hill. Thus Howard Eliot was the 
great, great, great grandson of Col. Samuel Hill. 

So much for the descendants of the man. Of himself, his 
character and temperament, his last will and testament is the 
mirror in which his reflection may be glimpsed after nearly 
two centuries. 

The will is dated July 31, 1751, precisely two weeks after 
the death of Colonel Hill's son, Henry, at the age of 37. It 
would seem that the father reasoned, from the death of his 
son in all the strength of his young manhood, that it was time 
to set his own house in order. He died in 1752. 

The son, Henry Hill had left his widow, Sarah Hart, 
daughter of the Rev. John Hart of East Guilford, and an infant 
son, Henry, then nine months of age. The widow later married 
Dr. Thomas Adams. Her third marriage was with the Rev. 

45 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Amos Fowler, then pastor of the First Congregational Church 
in Guilford, whose home stood on the present site of the 
Town Hall. 

After the usual preliminaries and the provision that the 
beloved wife, Huldah, was to share with the son, Nathaniel, 
the dwelling house, etc.. Col. Samuel Hill's will took up the 
sad case of his first-born child, Samuel, in these words: 

"Whereas my eldest son, Samuel Hill, Jr., is a loving and 
dutiful son but through weakness of body is not able to labor 
and provide for his comfortable subsistence during his life, 
therefore, in lieu of a double portion of my estate, all my estate 
shall be security for his maintenance, if need be, and his mother 
shall have the care of him so long as she and he shall live: and 
the better to enable her to provide for him she shall keep so 
much of my estate in her hands as she shall think necessary for 
that end. And after his mother's decease, he, the said Samuel, 
shall be taken care of and provided for by his brother, Nathaniel 
Hill, not to live a servile life with said Nathaniel, but to be 
tenderly and kindly used both in sickness and in health. And 
I hope said Samuel will be willing to do what he is able to do 
with comfort, but I would have no compulsion put upon him 
by his Brother, but would have him treat him as his elder 
brother under weakness; and if my said son, Samuel, should 
at any time choose to remove his dwelling and dwell with his 
sister, he shall have liberty so to do; and said Nathaniel shall 
pay the cost of his keeping there, if desired; and after my grand- 
son, Henry Hill, shall come of age and receive his portion he 
shall pay his proportional part, according to what he receives, 
toward the maintenance of said Samuel." 

It is of interest that this feeble son attained the age of 73 
years, a ripe old age in those days. 

Other helpless ones were upon the mind of Col. Samuel 
Hill. An unmarried brother, Nathaniel Hill, was then living 
in Saybrook, apparently in poor circumstances. The prosperous 
Samuel committed the care of this brother to his son, Nathaniel, 
adding, 

46 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

"I grant to my said brother such conveniences in my house 
and other buildings as he may have occasion for, in case he 
will come and live with me, or with my wife and children after 
my decease, which I hope for and greatly desire for the com- 
fort of my brother, and also of my son." Later "great care 
and tenderness to his said uncle" were enjoined upon the son 
and provision made for the same. 

To the daughter, Huldah, wife of Rosewell Woodward, 
there was the bequest of coin, pieces of eight sufficient to make 
her portion one thousand pounds, old tenor. It was cannily 
provided by the testator that the bequest should return to the 
family of Hill, in case the daughter died childless, which proved 
to be the case. Rosewell Woodward lived on the west side of 
Guilford Green, on the site of the homestead of his wife's grand- 
father, the Rev. Thomas Ruggles, Sr. This house stood near 
the site of Douden's Drug Store. 

Toward Nathaniel Hill, his youngest child, who later was 
to uphold the pillars of the family temple, the father's heart 
turned with sympathetic understanding. 

"Whereas the burthen of me, my wife and my 

Brother Hill, in our old age, and my son, Samuel Hill, in his 
weakness, is all devolved on my son, Nathaniel Hill, the better 
to enable him to bear and discharge his duty herein" — then fol- 
lows clear-sighted provision for those responsibilities. 

Last of all is taken up the case of the infant grandson, 
Henry, son of Henry Hill, deceased. The grandfather ex- 
pressed himself as — 

"Being willing he should be so trained up in his youth 
that he may be fitted to serve God and his generation in what- 
soever calling his mother and other of his nearest relatives and 
friends shall think is fittest and best for him to be put to learn; 
and if it should be thought best to give him a liberal education 
and bring him up at colledge, it may perhaps cost more than 

the moveable estate which will fall to his share" Nathaniel 

Hill, uncle of the child, is then empowered to act to meet this 
possibility. 

47 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

A codicil, added a few months later, provides for spending 
money for the youth in his minority, "850 pounds to be valued 
according to Spanish dollars at 3 pounds apiece." It is of in- 
terest to add that the grandson, Henry Hill, did graduate in 
due time from "colledge", a member of the class of Yale, 1772. 

A second codicil of April 25, 1752, added one more 
thought to the provision with which the beloved wife, Huldah, 
was surrounded. 

"My loving wife, Huldah, shall have all the provisions that 
are already provided and laid in for my family's use, and also 
what provisions she shall think needful to use, provide, and lay 
in the summer and fall next ensuin for the use of the family 
that she shall secause to keep." 

On May 28, 1752, Col. Samuel Hill died. Ebenezer 
Parmelee, then living in the Hyland House, was one of the 
witnesses of the will. 

Somewhere on Guilford Green they laid Col. Samuel Hill 
to rest. "A strong man, sun crowned, who lived above the 
fog in public duty and in private thinking." 



48 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Abial Eliot House 

V_/HE Eliot house at the corner of Whitfield and Water 
Streets, built in 1726 as the home of Abial Eliot and his bride, 
Mary Leete, was torn down in May, 1926, to make way for a 
one-story building erected by United Theaters' Inc., to con- 
tain stores and a moving picture theater. 

The work was done by Franklin D. Spencer, contractor, 
a descendant in the seventh generation from Abial and Mary 
Eliot. 

Although the house had rounded out two centuries of 
existence, it was not the original house on this home lot, owned 
by Eliots for 260 years. The original house was of stone, one 
of four stone houses built by the first comers to Guilford, of 
which only one, the Whitfield House, remains. 

This early house on the Eliot site was originally the home 
of the Rev. Nathaniel Higginson, a son-in-law of the Rev. 
Henry Whitfield, and his assistant teacher and preacher. It is 
said by tradition to have been located approximately in the 
rear of the present dwelling of Dr. G. Franklyn Anderson, a 
house built in 175 5 for Abial Eliot's son, Nathaniel. The 
original house was not standing in 1753 when this house lot 
was deeded by Abial Eliot to Nathaniel, and was probably torn 
down soon after the erection of the house on the corner which 
has met a similar fate. The well which served the Nathaniel 
Eliot house may have been the original Higginson well. 

The Rev. Nathaniel Higginson departed from Guilford 
in 1659 and the town of Guilford purchased his homestead. 
When, after much candidating, the Rev. Joseph Eliot, son of 
John Eliot, of Roxbury, Mass., Apostle to the Indians, was 

49 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

called to the pulpit, the property was bestowed upon him, as 
recorded in the town records in the following words: 

"March 15, 1664: 

"By vote of the planters here it is agreed that the house 
and lands bought of Mr. Higginson in order to be disposed of 
for another minister's accommodation for our supply be ten- 
dered to Mr. Joseph Eliot freely and absolutely, that upon his 
acceptance thereof he may furthermore be stated in it, as his 
inheritance amongst us, which was accordingly tendered to Mr. 
Joseph Eliot by Abraham Cruttenden, Sr., and Thomas Clark 
and Henry Doude, being a committee appointed to that work 
by the town and according to Mr. Eliot's desire were kept in 
power till he secause to accept of the town's offer and take 
possession of the accommodations so tendered to him, which 
was not long after." 

To Guilford, then, in 1664, came the Rev. Joseph Eliot 
with his first wife, Sarah, daughter of Governor William Bren- 
ton of Rhode Island. After her death he married Mary, daugh- 
ter of Honorable Samuel Wyllys of Hartford, He lived here 
thirty years, until his death in 1694. 

Each wife left four children, and of the eight Abial Eliot 
was the youngest. Born in 1692, he was but two years of age 
when his father died. He and his brother, Jared, were the 
only boys in the ministerial family. Jared became the reverend 
and distinguished minister of Killingworth, now Clinton. A 
sister, Mary, married as her second husband, Abraham Pierson 
of Killingworth (Clinton), and as her third husband, Samuel 
Hooker of Kensington, a grandson of the Rev. Samuel Hooker. 
Another sister, Rebecca Eliot, married in 1749, a third hus- 
band. Captain William Dudley, the first of that name to settle 
in North Guilford. Her tombstone, with its inscription, may 
yet be seen in the cemetery in North Guilford. 

Dying in 1694, the Rev. Joseph Eliot left a will. Among 
other provisions he gave to his wife his two Negroes, Shem and 
Hagar, "the better to enable her in housekeeping with her 
young children." 

50 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

To his son, Jared, were left lands in Roxbury and Cam- 
bridge, Mass., while to Abial went "all houses, lands, divisions 
and all whatsoever appertaining to me in the town of Guilford 
where I dwell." 

If both sons were "brought up to learning" the library was 
to be divided equally between them. "But, if not, he that is 
brought up have it all." 

Abial became a farmer of the ministerial lands in Guil- 
ford while Jared qualified for the entire library. However, 
to Abial passed the ownership of the famous court cupboard, 
given by the Rev. John Eliot, "Apostle to the Indians," to his 
son, Joseph, when he was "setting out for the far-off Connec- 
ticut wilds." This court cupboard is now a valued possession 
in the family of Edward Eliot of Guilford, a grandson of the 
Rev. Joseph Eliot in the seventh generation. 

The pear tree which the Rev. Joseph Eliot planted, and 
which is said to have stood in the rear of the Dr. Talcott place, 
later the home of Burton L. Sperry, was standing until 1865 
when a high wind blew it down. 

The Rev. Joseph Eliot died on May 24, 1694. He was 
laid at rest on Gviilford Green, as were all of Guilford's dead in 
those early times, his grave being on the east side nearly in 
front of the residence of E. P. Bates. 

When Abial Eliot and his bride, Mary, daughter of John 
Leete, and great granddaughter of Governor William Leete, 
built this fine new house in 1726, they elected to place it close 
by the street, as was fashionable at that period. It was a salt- 
box house. In the east front room, which was the parlor, there 
were paneled and wainscoted walls, and a fireplace, with a tiny 
fireplace in the chamber above, while the living room on the 
west side was similarly treated except for the wainscoting. 

In both front rooms Franklin fireplaces were later in- 
stalled, probably at the time of the marriage of Charles Eliot 
to Chloe Pardee of East Haven in 1815, for the fireplaces bore 
the eagle, which emblem was not in use at the time of the 
wedding of his parents. 

51 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Dr. Benjamin Franklin, who invented the Franklin fire- 
place and stove, was a friend of Abial's brother, Dr. Jared Eliot, 
frequently visiting him at his home in Killing worth (Clinton) 
so that the installation of these (then) modern fireplaces was 
not strange. 

Abial and Mary Eliot had six children, four sons and two 
daughters. Levi died in early manhood. For Nathaniel and 
his bride was built the house already mentioned, now Dr. G. 
Franklyn Anderson's, next south of the paternal mansion. The 
house in Water Street, known for years as the Leverett Gris- 
wold house, was the home of Wyllys Eliot, son of Abial. The 
remaining son, Timothy, settled in North Guilford, the home- 
stead there being long occupied by the great, great grand- 
children of Abial Eliot. 

Nathaniel Eliot's children, reared in the southerly house 
on the corner home lot, were William and Mary. William suc- 
ceeded to the title of the entire property. Mary married Israel 
Halleck and was the mother of the distinguished poet, Fitz- 
Greene Halleck, and his splendid sister, Maria Halleck. 

William Eliot married Ruth Rossiter and three sons were 
born to them: William Horace settled in New Haven; George 
Augustus migrated to Erie, Penn.; Charles remained at the 
homestead in Guilford where he died in 1870. 

To Charles and his wife, Chloe Pardee, were born six 
children. Of those whose descendants yet live in Guilford 
were Adeline, wife of Leverett C. Stone and mother of William 
L. Stone; Sarah Ann, wife of Henry Reeves Spencer and mother 
of the late Daniel R. Spencer and Robert T. Spencer; Lewis R. 
Eliot, father of Edward Eliot, late owner of the homestead. 



52 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Abel Chittenden House 



Nc 



ONE of the early houses of Guilford has been more com- 
pletely forgotten, as to its early history, than the one in State 
Street now owned and occupied by Mrs. Ralph L. Parker, and 
which, for forty years or more, was the property of John Ben- 
ton, formerly of Sachem's Head, who bought it in 1862. 

This house was once the home of Chittendens and re- 
mained in that family for a century or more. The land on 
which it stands was part of the home lot of Henry Dowd, 
twenty-third signer of the Plantation Covenant and so a mem- 
ber of the Whitfield party. He died in 1668. 

The Book of Terrier, Vol. 1, Page 60, a book begun April 
10, 1648, and containing a description of each man's real estate 
in the town of Guilford, contains the following entry: 

"Nathan Bradley hath sold and alienated his house, house 
lot and orchard, 2 acres, to John Chittenden, as by deed of 
May 28, 1667". 

This lot was bounded south by John Evarts, originally 
John Mepham's home lot, west by John Stevens and William 
Dudley of Petticoat Lane, now Fair Street, and north by Wil- 
liam Seward, through whose home lot York Street later was cut. 

This John Chittenden was Sergeant John Chittenden 
(1643-1716) son of William Chittenden, the settler, whose 
home was Cranbrook, corner of Broad and River Streets. Ser- 
geant John deeded the place in 1712, four years before his own 
death, to a son, Abel Chittenden, whose brother, John, was the 
husband of Sarah Clay, owner of the Acadian house. 

Abel was unmarried at the time of his father's death, in 
fact was forty years old in 1721, when he married Deborah 
Scranton, and this is circumstantial evidence that this was the 

53 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

home of his parents from 1667 on, as they were married in 
1665. The place was deeded to Abel Chittenden in 1712. 

Abel Chittenden and his wife, Deborah Scranton, had four 
children. Their only son, another Abel, died when four years 
old. The three daughters never married. Deborah, at the age 
of 63, was a suicide. Ann died in 1799, aged 73, and Elizabeth 
in 1808, at the age of 83 years. 

Elizabeth's will, drawn in 1801, was probated in 1809, 
Abraham Chittenden, Jr., being the executor. She left the 
homestead to the granddaughters of her cousin, Samuel Chit- 
tenden, half of it to Mindwell, wife of Curtiss Blatchley, and 
half to Ruth, wife of Elisha Bartlett. Immediately the Blatch- 
leys sold to Ambrose Benton 28 rods off the north side, next to 
the home lot of said Ambrose Benton (Miss Bertha Benton's 
home now). 

In 1814 Curtiss and Mindwell Blatchley sold the place to 
Leonard Chamberlain and he, seven months later, sold it to 
Thomas Scranton whose home was the so-called Hinckley place 
now owned by Mrs. Clifford Lee. He still owned it in 1828, 
according to a deed of the Ambrose Benton place at that time. 

Although the land records bear witness to the sale of land 
farther down the street in 183 5 to Miner Bradley, land bound- 
ed on the north by Thomas Scranton, no further record of the 
transfer of Abel Chittenden's homestead could be found until 
1849, when Henry W. Chittenden, executor of the estate of 
Anna Kimberly, quit-claimed it to her brother, Eli Kimberly, 
keeper of Faulkner's Island Light Station. He sold it the next 
spring, 1850, to William Hart and he, in turn, sold it that 
August to Richard D. Coan. It was quit-claimed by Richard 
Coan to John H. Kelsey in 1853 and he, in January, 1854, 
sold the place to Gilbert Blatchley from whom John Benton 
bought it on April 21, 1862. 

It remained in Mr. Benton's possession until his death early 
in this century and was his home in his last years. He had 
bought Samuel Johnson's house at the northeast corner of the 
Green where Elisha Chapman Bishop was to build his new house, 

54 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

now the home of Mrs. Frederick C. Spencer, and placed it on 
the south part of this home lot. Mr. and Mrs. Benton lived 
in the Johnson house and kept boarders for many years while 
the old house was given over to tenants. The latter was reno- 
vated and repaired when he returned to the old house to spend 
his last years. 

Other owners were Darwell Stone and Eliot W. Stone be- 
fore Mrs. Parker bought it. 

The deed of 1667 mentions a house on the lot when Ser- 
geant John Chittenden bought it from Nathan Bradley. The 
external appearance of the house, as remembered in the 1890's 
is convincing evidence that it was more than two centuries 
old then. 



55 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Burgis Houses 

vlxHE house, standing opposite the Hyland House in Boston 
Street, is one of the early houses of the town. It was built in 
173 5 as the home of Thomas Burgis, 2nd., who, that year, mar- 
ried Hannah Dodd of East Creek and brought his bride to this 
fine new mansion. The story of it begins with Thomas Wright, 
who came to Guilford in 1670 and lived in town until he died 
in 1692. 

Thomas Wright came from Wethersfield, married Sarah, 
daughter of Edward Benton whose house stood on the north- 
west corner of the Green, and died leaving no sons, but three 
daughters, Mary, Mercy and Mehitable Wright. He was the 
town shepherd, a far cry from the rank of his father, Thomas 
Wright of England, who was an ambassador to the Court of 
Spain, there marrying, according to genealogists, a daughter of 
the House of Toledo. It is a fact that Frank Chapman Leete, 
a descendant of Thomas Wright, ten generations later, was 
mistaken for Alfonso, king of Spain, traveling incognito, when 
Mr. Leete was in Europe as a young man. 

The home lot of Thomas Wright was on the south side 
of Boston Street, approximately the present site of the Boston 
Street Schoolhouse. After his death in 1692 two daughters 
inherited the homestead. Mary Wright in 1698 married Gideon 
Allin who had come to Guilford from Swansea, Mass. He 
deserted his family and went to Killingworth (the present 
Clinton). Mary Wright Allin died about 1729 and her share 
of the estate of her father, Thomas Wright, went to her three 
sons, Joseph, Ebenezer and Gideon Allin. 

Her sister, Mercy Wright, married, in 1707, Thomas Bur- 
gis, shoemaker and tanner, who had lately arrived in Guilford 

56 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

after various adventures. A native of Yorkshire, England, he 
was compelled to serve for several years aboard a British man- 
of-war. While the vessel was cruising in the vicinity of New 
York Thomas Burgis and one or two others made their escape. 
Being overtaken and captured near Newtown, Conn., he re- 
ceived a sabre cut on his face, the scar of which he always car- 
ried. He escaped again, this time near Boston, and made his 
way along the shore to Guilford. Marrying Mercy Wright, 
he occupied the homestead of her father, Thomas Wright, and 
founded the Burgis family in Guilford. 

Thomas Burgis bought from the Allin brothers, nephews 
of his wife, their share of the homestead, which then extended 
from the Caldwell property at the corner of Lovers' Lane on 
the east to the Hopson homestead (the Whedon place, later Mrs. 
George Wingood's) on the west. 

Thomas and Mercy Burgis had five children. The sons, 
Thomas Burgis, 2nd., and John Burgis, married sisters, Hannah 
and Sarah Dodd of East Creek. John Burgis and Sarah, his 
wife, went to live in the West Pond district, where the family 
had owned land for some years, and the old house place, on the 
old road from Moose Hill to North Branford, was not for- 
gotten a generation ago. They died childless but Deacon John 
Burgis attained fame by his "Bill of Mortality", a record of 
deaths in Guilford, begun in 1746 and continued until he died 
in 1800, when others took up the pen he had laid down. One of 
the first deaths he recorded was that of his own mother, Mercy 
Wright Burgis. On the first page he made the entry "Was a 
great earthquake". 

Thomas Burgis, 2nd, and Hannah, his wife, built and 
lived in the house next west of the old homestead, the house 
which is the subject of this sketch. 

As to the daughters of Thomas and Mercy Burgis, Phyllis 
married Nathaniel Johnson of Fair Street, whose house is now 
the home of Captain and Mrs. Leonidas Seward. Her second 

57 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

husband was Samuel Chittenden, owner of the Acadian House. 
Abigail married Enos Bishop. Mercy, the third sister, married 
Abraham Chittenden and remained in the house of her father 
and grandfather. 

Their son, Deacon Abraham Chittenden, married Diana, 
daughter of General Andrew Ward of Nut Plains. She died 
in 1784. Her daughter, Betsy Chittenden, who was only seven 
when she died, lived in the grandfather's home in Nut Plains 
and there Benjamin Baldwin courted her while Lyman Beecher 
was courting her cousin, Roxana Foote. 

Deacon Abraham Chittenden married, after a year of 
widowerhood, Lydia Rose of North Branford. He lived to be 
96 years old, dying in 1848. Of his three sons, two went West, 
Abraham I, to Warsaw, 111., and John B. to Mendon, 111., the 
latter about 1830. At the time of his marriage to Eliza Robin- 
son in 1814, Deacon John B. Chittenden had built the house 
which stands now, the second one east of the Boston Street 
School. In a closet opening out of the east front chamber is 
a secret compartment beneath the floor, found by lifting up a 
floor board, the reason for which can be conjectured only. The 
third son, Henry Ward Chittenden, lived on the west side of 
the Green, where now Mrs. Bonzano lives. Deacon Abraham 
Chittenden died in 1848 at the age of 96 years. 

The old house of Thomas Wright and his descendants 
was torn down in 1860. The last occupant was Stephen Robin- 
son who lived there while building his new house, now the 
home of his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Dwight 
Potter. 

So much for the history of the Thomas Wright house. In 
their new home next west from the paternal residence, now 
owned by Miss Elizabeth Munger, Thomas Burgis, 2nd, and 
Hannah, his wife, brought up their family. Of all their child- 
ren this story follows only the life of one son, Thomas Burgis, 
3rd. 

This young man was graduated from Yale College in 1758 
and became the school master of North Guilford. According 

58 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

to the custom of that time, the school master "boarded around". 
In due season Thomas Burgis became an inmate of the home of 
Ohver Dudley, near the site of the present home of Herman 
W. Kiesel. He courted the daughter of the house, Olive Dudley, 
and they were married in 1769. 

The story of that wedding has been preserved in the hand- 
writing of a granddaughter, Mrs. H. W. Noyes. It was an 
out-door wedding, a novelty in those days. The bride was 
beautiful, her auburn hair falling to her knees. Her wedding 
gown was of dove-hued silk, elbow sleeves trimmed with frills 
of lace, the open skirt, rounded in a graceful train, revealing 
a richly-embroidered petticoat and spangled kid slippers. The 
Rev. Thomas Wells Bray united the couple in holy wedlock 
beneath a beech tree in the dooryard. Later in the day the 
bride and bridegroom set out on horseback for their home in 
Guilford, followed by a procession of friends on horseback, the 
procession extending over a quarter-mile. 

So Olive Dudley Burgis came to her new home in the house 
of this story. She had been educated in the domestic virtues 
and accomplishments by a mother of sweet and gentle piety, 
whose temper was so mild that none of the ills of life could dis- 
turb its equanimity. Olive was skilled with the spinning wheel 
and with the needle. Linen of finest texture and rich em- 
broidery of birds and flowers made up her curtains for win- 
dows and testers. Thomas and Olive lived long and useful 
lives in the community. 

When Thomas Burgis, 3rd. died in 1799 he was the owner 
of two houses, this one described as "the house at home", an- 
other, "the house at East Creek". The latter had been the home 
of his grandfather, Ebenezer Dodd, and stood where now stands 
the home of Henry S. Davis, built by the late Deacon John W. 
Norton. 

The house at East Creek was left by the father jointly to 
two sons, Samuel and Thomas Burgis, 4th. The latter married 
Sarah Deshon, younger sister of Ruth Deshon, wife of Nicholas 

59 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Loyselle at the Black House, and of Lydia Deshon, wife of James 
Cezanne, another Frenchman from Guadaloupe, who then 
owned the house west side of Guilford Green, later Amos 
Seward's. In 1798 Thomas Burgis, 4th, purchased the Black 
House and thereafter, for many years, it was known as the 
Burgis place. 

The "house at home" was left by Thomas Burgis, 3rd., 
jointly to his widow and his three daughters, Olive, wife of 
Ozias Whedon, and Elizabeth and Hannah Burgis who never 
married. A third son, Eliab Burgis, a sailor, died in 1808 aged 
29 years, presumably lost at sea. In 1824 Elizabeth and Hannah 
Burgis, joint owners, were living in their father's house. Eliza- 
beth dying, Hannah became sole owner in 1844. Before that 
year the sisters had removed to New Haven where Olive Whe- 
don was living. In 1846 Hannah Burgis sold the homestead, 
then 111 years old, to William Hart. 

Two months later it was sold again, this time to Jason 
Seward, then of Madison. Jason Seward was a son of Timothy 
Seward and Rebecca Lee. He married Amelia Judson in 1804. 
Their daughter, Eliza Seward, married in 1828 Walter P. Mun- 
ger who died while on a visit to Ohio in 18 59. As she was a 
widow her father deeded the place to her. From her it passed 
to a son, George Wyllys Hunger, who married Susan C. Dudley. 
They were the parents of Miss Elizabeth Munger, now owner 
of the house built in 1735 for Thomas Burgis 2nd. 

The present home of Mr. and Mrs. Bradford Monroe was 
another Burgis hom-e. It was bought by Nathan Meigs, father 
of Isaac Meigs, from Elizabeth Ward in 1787. The site had an 
earlier house built by a grandson of the settler. Lieutenant Wil- 
liam Seward, and owned for years by people living in Durham. 
In 1820 Mr. and Mrs. Leverett Parmelee bought it, then sold 
it, in 1829, to Colonel John Burgis, a son of Samuel Burgis at 
Grandfather Dodd's place at East Creek. Here Colonel John 
Burgis brought up a family of eleven children, the last of whom, 
another Thomas Burgis, died in Pittsburgh, Penn., in 1909. 

60 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Colonel Burgis was a seedsman and had one or two shops nearby 
where seeds were stored and prepared by workmen. One of 
these buildings was moved to the premises of William Bartlett 
at East Creek. 

The house stands on a ledge of rock, to avoid which the 
early road made a sweeping curve. The place remained in the 
Burgis family until 1882, when Miss Fanny Burgis, a daughter 
of Colonel John Burgis, died. 



61 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Philo Bishop House 



O 



NE of the fine examples of early eighteenth century archi- 
tecture in Guilford is the Philo Bishop house in upper State 
Street. It was built in 1707 for John Collins, Jr., when this 
section of the town was known as Norton's Quarter. The home 
lot, containing thirty-three acres, ran back to Alder Swamp. 

In 1723 John Collins, "in consideration of fatherly love 
and endeared affection", deeded this place to his son, the third 
John Collins, "reserving to myself and wife, Ann Collins, use 
and improvement of half the lands for life". Ann Collins, 
formerly Ann Leete, died the next year but her husband lived 
until 1751. 

John Collins III, in 1732, sold the homestead to David 
Bishop, Sr., who had married, in 1724, Deborah, widow of 
Timothy Stanley of Durham and daughter of Captain John 
Seward whose property adjoined this place on the south. 
Deborah's sister, Judith Seward, was the wife of Ithamar Hall, 
next door on the north. 

David Bishop, Sr., willed the whole of the homestead to 
his son, David Bishop, Jr., and died in 1773. The son married 
Audrea Fowler. They had two sons, Jared and Jonathan, be- 
tween whom David Bishop, Jr., divided his homestead. He 
died in 1792. Jared Bishop lived on in the old house while 
Jonathan built a new house on the south part of the home lot. 

Jared Bishop was the father of Philo Bishop. By his will, 
in 1839, he caused an imaginary boundary line to be drawn 
through the center of the old house, his widow, the former 
Mary Munson, to have the south half of the place, the son, 
Philo Bishop, the north half. 

62 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

The place remained in the Bishop family 185 years, or 
until 1917, when the late George Hull sold it to Mr. and Mrs. 
William Whiteman. Afterward Francis Langdon owned it. 
In 1929 WiUiam Hoppock sold it to Mrs. Alice Deaton of New 
York, the present owner, and removed to Taunton, Mass. 

The house next south, built in 1787 for Jonathan Bishop, 
Sr., is the home now of William Pinchbeck. Here Jonathan 
Bishop, Sr., and Jonathan Bishop, Jr., raised their families. Later 
owners. Captain George Erskine and Mrs. Elizabeth Meadow- 
croft, altered and built on to the original house. In the rear 
are the extensive houses of glass in which the celebrated Pinch- 
beck roses are grown. 



63 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



House Madison Once Owned 



cA 



HOUSE in Fair Street, in the center of Guilford, has the 
unique record of having been owned for six years by the town 
of Madison. It is the former Henry Hotchkiss house, now 
owned by Mr. and Mrs. James F. TurnbuU. 

On April 7, 1814, the town of Guilford bought the house 
from Deacon Peter Spencer who had come here from Saybrook 
in 1805 and went from Guilford to Mount Pleasant, Penn. 
Here the town poor were sheltered until East Guilford was set 
off as the town of Madison. The division of the town meant 
the division of property and this house, then the almshouse, 
valued at $900, was set to Madison on October 19, 1826. By 
virtue of a vote of the town of Madison on October 3, 1831, to 
sell the property, it was sold to William H. Stevens on August 
13, 1832, for $550. 

An earlier Stevens was the first owner of this home lot. 
John Stevens although not one of the Plantation Covenanters, 
was probably here at the first allotment of lands. At any rate 
he was located next north of William Dudley, one of the Whit- 
field group. A town meeting of February 13, 1670, granted 
liberty to "Mr. John Collins to buy John Stevens, his house 
and land and so is a planter here". 

John Collins, who came to Guilford in 1669, married Mary, 
sister of Henry Kingsnorth who was the first owner of the 
Comfort Starr homestead. John Collins sold this Petticoat Lane 
property to Benjamin Gould in 1707, it then being sandwiched 
between Joseph Dudley on the south and Miles Dudley on the 
north. Joseph Dudley and Benjamin Gould married sisters, 
respectively Ann and Elizabeth Robinson. The Widow Eliza- 
beth Gould and her son, David, in 1726, sold the place to 
Stephen Spencer, blacksmith, who had arrived in Guilford two 

64 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

years earlier and married Obedience Bradley, daughter of Abra- 
ham Bradley. Stephen Spencer owned the place eleven years, 
then sold it, in 1737, to Caleb Stone, Sr., a son of Lieutenant 
Nathaniel Stone at the northwest corner of Guilford Green. 
Caleb Stone, Sr., soon deeded the place, 'for parental love and 
affection", to Caleb Stone, Jr., whose home it was thereafter. 

Deacon Peter Spencer bought the place from the Stones 
in 1805 and his sale to the town of Guilford already has been 
described. When this town bought the place it backed up on 
the east against the home lots in Crooked Lane or State Street 
but when the town of Madison sold it the eastern boundary 
was the turnpike, or Church Street as it is now called, which 
had been opened in that period. 

The front part of the house now owned by the Misses 
Martin, once the home of J. D. Loper, was a wing of this house, 
moved onto the north part of his lot by William H. Stevens, 
owner from 1832 to 1834, when he went to Illinois. Later 
owners were Samuel Davis, 1834-183 5; William A. Hull, 183 5- 
1839; William Hart, 1839-1840; James Austin Norton, 1840- 
1856. 

It was James A. Norton who sold to the North West 
School District, on January 22, 1848, one-quarter acre of land 
on which the Fair Street School was built. The building was 
set well back from the street for in front of it was a pond hole 
which was said to be bottomless, so that people could not under- 
stand how a schoolhouse could be built on the lot. 

On the south side of his home lot James A. Norton built 
a new house (John Pitts 's), selling the old house to John A. 
Richardson of New Milford on April 4, 1856. Later he moved 
to Bristol. 

John A. Richardson was for many years cashier of Yale 
National Bank, New Haven. His father, Gilbert Richardson, 
and step-mother, Rhoda, made their home here. Rhoda Rich- 
ardson sold the place to Mrs. Henry Hotchkiss (Anna P.) on 
June 29, 1900. From her heirs, Mr. and Mrs. James F. Turn- 
bull bought it in 1933. 

65 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Fowlers Of Moose Hill 



O 



N a bank beside the post road on Moose Hill stands a 
granite boulder, on which, in the summer of 1917, a bronze 
tablet was set, a monument to the memory of Sophia Fowler 
Gallaudet, near whose birthplace it stands. The boulder was 
the gift of Wallace Gallaudet Fowler, a nephew of Mrs. Gallau- 
det, past eighty years of age, and the bronze plate was the gift 
of the girls of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford. 
The whole was a memorial to a benefactor, herself born deaf 
and dumb, but nevertheless able to render inestimable aid and 
encouragement to her husband. Dr. Thomas H. Gallaudet, whose 
school in Hartford for deaf mutes was the first attempt in this 
country to educate these hitherto unfortunate people. 

In April, 1923, the Highway Department of Connecticut 
caused thirteen handsome maple trees in front of the house 
nearby to be cut down and the memorial itself was moved 
far back on the bank to permit the road to be widened and 
straightened. 

The story of Sophia Fowler Gallaudet is the story of the 
Fowlers of Moose Hill, that section of Guilford which adjoins 
the towns of North Branford and Branford. The Fowlers and 
the Nortons were the first families from Guilford Center to 
locate here. 

Abraham Fowler, grandson of the Guilford settler. Deacon 
John Fowler, was the first of that name to have title to Moose 
Hill land. Living in Guilford Center, he made his will in 1753 
and gave "to my beloved son, Noah Fowler, all my land at 
Moose Hill, running from the Country Road to Roland Leete's". 
A further bequest was the southwest corner of the paternal 

66 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

home lot at the corner of Fair and Broad Streets (now George 
F. Walter's property) for the site of a "Sabba' Day" house, a 
place of shelter for family and horses on Sundays when out- 
dwellers came in town to attend all-day meetings in the heat- 
less Meeting House. 

Noah Fowler married in 1752 Deborah Pendleton of Ston- 
ington, daughter of Josiah Pendleton, and settled on Moose 
Hill. He prospered greatly and before his death in 1815 could 
ride to the westward on the old stage road with his own 
fields and pastures on either hand. His property even crossed 
the town line for he settled his son, Eli, on the Branford side 
of his land, the house site being a bit east of the present home 
of Rudolph Kneuer. For his son, Noah Fowler, Jr., he built 
the house which has been for many years the property of the 
family of Richard Kelsey. For his son. Miner Fowler, he 
built the house across the street from his own home, later the 
Moose Hill Inn. Bildad, the youngest son, remained in his 
father's house, for the patriarch's house stood on the site of a 
later one, also built by Fowlers, which now is the home of Eber 
Fisher. 

Captain Noah Fowler he was when he led forty-three men 
to Lexington with the Seventh Regiment of the Connecticut 
Line. Later in the War of the Revolution he was made lieu- 
tenant colonel of the Twenty-Eighth Militia Regiment. Thus 
he had his "best silver-hilted sword and belt belonging to the 
same" and his "other silver-hilted sword" to leave to his sons. 

In front of the Kelsey house, which was the home of Noah 
Fowler, Jr., there stood, until a few years ago, a clump of box- 
wood grown so tall and thick that it hid the window and a hole 
had to be cut through the center of the shrub to admit light 
to the room. Tradition was that the Marquis de la Fayette, 
passing through Guilford in 1824, was entertained by Noah 
Fowler, Jr., and his wife, he having known the father. Colonel 
Noah Fowler, during his war service; that the Frenchman 
courteously presented to his hostess the sprig of boxwood which 

67 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

he was wearing as a boutonierre and she rooted it and planted 
it beneath the window as a memento of that red letter day. 

Colonel Noah Fowler by his will gave to each son a home- 
stead and also set apart a burial place in the rear of his house, 
where doubtless his own dust reposes. A monument there 
bore the names of his grandsons, Captain Harry Fowler, Ward 
Fowler and others. 

Miner Fowler, third son of Colonel Noah Fowler, married 
Rachel Hall in 1787. She was a daughter of Captain Stephen 
Hall and a descendant of George Hyland of Guilford. Six 
children here were born to them. The first one, Parnel, proved 
to be deaf and dumb. Two sons came next, each with normal 
speech and hearing. Ten years after the birth of Parnel an- 
other daughter, Sophia, was born and she, too, was deaf and 
dumb. Two years after Sophia's birth a cousin of hers was 
born across the street, Ward Fowler, son of Bildad Fowler and 
Sarah Bartlett, and he also, was deaf and dumb. 

Here then were three children in these two families, cut 
off from all communication with their kind except such as 
could be established in the family. It was a heavy affliction. 

But while these three deaf mutes were young, life opened 
up for them. Dr. Thomas H. Gallaudet of Hartford had taken 
up as his life work the instruction of the deaf and dumb, had 
studied in Paris and now had opened, in Hartford, a school for 
deaf mutes. Cheerfully the parents sent their children to this 
school, sparing no expense to educate them. 

Parnel presently came home again and passed her life in 
her father's house with her brother, Miner Fowler, Jr. But 
Sophia Fowler married her teacher, Dr. Thomas H. Gallaudet, 
on August 29, 1821, and passed her life in Hartford. Her 
assistance to Dr. Gallaudet was beyond measure. 

Miner Fowler, Jr., in 1827 brought his bride to his father's 
homestead. She was the Widow Charry Ives of Waterbury, 
young, beautiful, accomplished and with much social prestige. 

68 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

The property owned by her in Waterbury is now in the heart 
of the city. While she was mistress, the house on Moose Hill 
entertained many guests. Their son, Wallace Gallaudet Fowler, 
was the last of the name to make the place his home. He was 
the father of the late Mrs. Chester Kingman, who inherited her 
grandmother's beauty and charm and who lately died in Eng- 
land, and of Dr. Ernest Fowler, now in California. 



69 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Black House 



'ESIDE the old Boston Post Road in Guilford there stands 
a dwelling with a history which sets it apart from other houses, 
old or new. It is called the Black House because once it bore a 
coat of sable paint. The story of that coat of paint is the story 
which links for all time the history of little Guilford with the 
history of England, of France and of Guadaloupe in the West 
Indies. 

The house was built in 1761 for Levi Hubbard and his 
wife, Anna Gould. Levi Hubbard belonged to an early Guil- 
ford family, and was a brother of the Rev. Bela Hubbard, that 
pioneer priest of the Church of England who had taken the 
long, perilous voyage to England to receive ordination in 1763. 
Returning to his native town the young rector was in charge 
of the little mission churches in Guilford and two neighboring 
towns until 1767, when he was transferred to New Haven. 

The fact that this brother, Bela, lived in New Haven may 
have influenced Levi and Anna Hubbard to remove there. They 
sold their homestead in Guilford, March 24, 1787, to Nicholas 
Loyselle, late of the Island of Guadaloupe, and removed to New 
Haven. 

Nicholas Loyselle, a Frenchman, had married Ruth Deshon 
of New London, Conn., who was of Huguenot descent. Their 
household included slaves, "one Negro man named John, and 
one named Joe", who were sold in 1794 to Dr. Thomas R. 
Pynchon, the local physician. A few years later slavery be- 
came extinct in Connecticut. 

What had brought to Guilford Nicholas Loyselle, late of 
the Island of Guadaloupe? 

70 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

It was the time of the racial struggle going on in the 
French islands of the West Indies, a struggle which culminated, 
between 1794 and 1797, in the uprising of the black race and 
the flight of the Frenchmen to safety in other countries. 

Warned in season, Nicholas Loyselle had departed from the 
unhappy island before the uprising and had come to New Lon- 
don, Conn., a natural refuge for fugitives from the West Indies. 
Between New London and the West Indies vessels were con- 
stantly plying, carrying down cargoes of New England pro- 
ducts and bringing back tropical merchandise. These vessels, 
when the uprising of the blacks had really begun, came back 
crowded with refugees and the hostelries of New London were 
full to overflowing for a time until the refugees could scatter 
to new and more secure homes in this northern land. 

Another potent influence operated to bring a Frenchman 
of the station of Nicholas Loyselle to New London. The French 
government had stationed there, in 1786, a naval agent, one 
Philip dejean, whose interest in the welfare of a fellow country- 
man would have been instinctive. It was doubtless through 
dejean that Loyselle met in New London Ruth Deshon, whom 
he soon married. It is not known what influence caused the 
Loyselles to choose Guilford as their place of residence but here 
they came in 1787. 

The family of Ruth Deshon, wife of Nicholas Loyselle, 
was a distinguished one. The name, Deshon, is said to have 
been a derivation from the old French name, Des Champs. The 
story runs back into the preceding century. 

In 1686, the year after the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes, thirty Huguenots and their families had emigrated 
from France to Oxford, Mass. Indians soon broke up the 
settlement and the Huguenots were dispersed to other parts 
of New England. 

One of these men had a son, Daniel Deshon, who was 
brought up in the home of Rene Guignon, a Huguenot of some 
note. He settled in Norwich, Conn., and died there in 1715. 

71 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Young Deshon, having received provision by the will of his 
benefactor, soon removed to New London. 

There, on October 4, 1724, Daniel Deshon married Ruth 
Christophers, daughter of the Honorable Christopher Christ- 
ophers, a Harvard man of 1702. Ruth Christophers was a 
descendant, in the fifth generation, of Elder William Brewster. 

A son of Daniel Deshon and Ruth Christophers was Henry 
Deshon, who married Bathsheeba Rogers. Their children, es- 
pecially the daughters, Ruth, Lydia and Sarah Deshon, are the 
Deshons of this story. 

There were sons, also, born to Henry and Bathsheeba 
Deshon, illustrious sons who acquitted themselves as men in 
the War of the Revolution. Daniel Deshon, the oldest son, was 
commissioned by the State to command the armed brig, "Old 
Defense" which was captured by the British in 1778. Richard 
Deshon was captain of a volunteer company. John Deshon, 
one of the leading members of the Council of Safety, was 
commissioned by the State to lay out the forts, Trumbull and 
Griswold, for the defense of New London, and to impress all 
vessels in New London Harbor for coast defense. John Deshon 
was a warden of St. James's Episcopal Church, thus managing 
that difficult combination of patriot and churchman. He held 
that office in 1778 when the rector, the Rev. Mr. Graves, was 
mobbed and locked out of the church because he could not 
conscientiously refrain from reading prayers for the King and 
royal family of England. 

When the British invaded New London in 1781, Sarah 
Deshon, the youngest of the family, was but a child. Family 
tradition recounts that Sarah met the "Red Coats" on the 
bridge over Shaw's Cove, near her home, and that she made 
them a low courtesy before scampering homeward. The soldiers 
followed her to the fine new house, which stood close by the 
Shaw Mansion, now famous because Washington once slept 
there, set fire to the house of the Deshons and burned all the 
family possessions. Soon after the parents died. 

72 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

It is probable that the sisters, orphaned and homeless, found 
homes with their older, married brothers, and that thus they 
met the Frenchmen, Nicholas Loyselle and James Cezanne. 

As has been stated, Nicholas Loyselle brought his wife, 
Ruth, to Guilford in 1787. On September 10, 1789, Lydia 
Deshon was married to James Cezanne in New London by 
"William Henry Channing, minister, as attested by the records. 
Three years later the Cezannes followed the Loyselles to Guil- 
ford, purchasing the homestead of Joseph Griffing on the west 
side of Guilford Green, later known as the Amos Seward house. 

There were three Cezanne children, Lydia, James and 
Henry. The name of Lydia Cezanne echoes to this day for 
she was a charming girl and a social favorite, counting among 
her admirers the poet, Fitz-Greene Halleck. She died when 
about twenty years of age. 

A third Frenchman, Michael Guimar, moves dimly through 
the story. The records reveal him as taking a mortgage on 
the property of Nicholas Loyselle so that he must have been 
a man of some means. That he also was from the Island of 
Guadaloupe is certain, but where he lived or if he had a family 
is unknown. 

In the spring of 1793 Nicholas Loyselle was having his 
house painted. He was superintending the work of the painter 
when news reached him that Louis XVI, King of France, had 
been executed on January 21, three months earlier. They were 
loyal Frenchmen, these men from Guadaloupe, and the soul 
of Nicholas Loyselle was filled with grief. 

"No more work to-day", he told the workmen. "It is like 
a funeral." 

When the work of painting the house was resumed, the 
paint was black. And black the house remained, a symbol of 
mourning for the King of France, long after Nicholas Loyselle 
himself had followed Louis XVI out of this life. Traces of the 
black paint remained in sheltered spots long after later coats 
of paint had succumbed to time and weather. 

71> 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

One more claim to remembrance in Guilford annals be- 
longs to Nicholas Loyselle before he passes into the silence. He 
was a friend of Eli Foote, the lawyer-merchant who died in 
the South of yellow fever in 1792, leaving ten young children. 
To the oldest of these, Roxana, Monsieur Loyselle taught the 
French language. She became so proficient, both in speaking 
and writing French, that afterward, when she was the wife of 
the Rev. Lyman Beecher and the salary of the pulpit in East 
Hampton, Long Island, must be eked out, she was able to teach 
French to the young ladies who were her husband's pupils in 
other branches of education. 

The records are silent concerning the fate of Nicholas 
Loyselle but a faint tradition has survived the years. It runs 
that he took ship for his former home, the Island of Guadaloupe, 
to transact some business or, in local phrase, to "bring back a 
barrel of money." The transaction was completed and the 
ship was to sail at dawn, for which reason Monsieur Loyselle 
slept on board. In the morning he was found dead in his berth, 
slain by an unknown hand. 

That Madame Loyselle was left with limited means seems 
probable. On March 14, 1798, her brother-in-law, James 
Cezanne, deeded the Loyselle homestead to Thomas Burgis, the 
fourth of that name, who had married Sarah Deshon, sister of 
Mrs. Loyselle. The Black House was thereafter the Burgis 
homestead for many years. 

It is probable that Madame Loyselle continued to live in 
the house as a member of the Burgis household. She died May 
18, 1824, at the age of 65 years, leaving a legacy of $50 to the 
Episcopal Church of Guilford. 

The surnames of Loyselle, Cezanne and Burgis passed long 
ago from Guilford except as carved on tombstones now and 
again. The story, as told here, was searched out of the records 
of New London and Guilford. A marker has been placed on 
The Black House by the Dorothy Whitfield Historical Society, 
Inc., its history having been pieced together after a century 
had passed. 

74 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Amos Seward House 



O 



N the west side of Guilford Green, its door step hard 
against the sidewalk, is one of Guilford's remaining Colonial 
houses, yet known as the Amos Seward house, although owned 
in that family only eighty-five years. 

It was built in 1772, in the reign of George III, by Dan 
Collins, a son of Oliver Collins of the West Pond road, on 
Moose Hill, and a brother of Darius Collins of Back Lane, now 
Union Street. He married Amy, daughter of Bezaleel Bristol. 
Ten years after building the house, he moved with his family 
to Richmond, Mass. 

The land on which this house stands was originally a part 
of the two-acre home lot of Edward Benton at the northwest 
corner of the Green, which home lot passed later into the own- 
ership of the Stone family. In 1724 the five sons of Lieutenant 
Nathaniel Stone divided the property of their deceased father 
and the corner lot was set to Joseph Stone. 

Joseph Stone died in 1733. His daughter, Mary Stone, 
"singlewoman", inherited the corner lot and sold half of it to 
her brother, Joseph, in 1736. That same year she married 
Samuel Evarts, who died four years later. In 1741 she mar- 
ried Samuel Dodd of East Creek, who died in 1757. Until 
her death in 1790 she was known as Widow Mary Dodd. 

Ephraim Pierson had come to Guilford, whence is not de- 
termined. Little is known of him except that he married 
Dorothy Bishop in 1710 and died in 1761. Two years before 
his death he bought of the Widow Dodd the last quarter-acre 
of her inherited land "at or near ye town plot or Great Market 
Place". 

75 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

In 1763 Submit Pierson memorialized the General As- 
sembly for permission to sell this land on the west side of the 
Green and it was sold to Jasper Griffing, who, later, was to 
purchase the Old Stone House. Up to this time there was no 
building on the lot but, when Jasper Griffing sold the land 
to Dan Collins on March 8, 1772, a shop was standing thereon, 
perhaps for the sale of goods brought in by coasting vessels of 
the "Old Commodore". 

After building his house, Dan Collins bought, in 1775, a 
bit more land on the north from Bilious Ward, bringing his 
north line up to the shop where Bilious "Ward plied the trade 
of silversmith. This shop may be the same shop in which the 
Dorothy Beauty Shop is housed today. 

Dan Collins sold the place on October 2, 1781, to Joseph 
Griffing from Long Island, second cousin of Jasper Griffing, 
who lately had arrived in Guilford with his bride, Ruth Hart, 
of Huntington, L. I. For a time Griffing ran a coasting vessel 
to and from New York. From 1801 to 1808 he was keeper 
of Faulkner's Island Light Station, its first keeper. On January 
3, 1783, he sold the house to a brother, Nathaniel Griffing of 
Southold, L. I. The house now owned by Frank Cianciolo 
and used as a fruit store was the later home of "Uncle Joe and 
Aunt Ruth" Griffing. 

The title to the Amos Seward house remained with the 
Southold owner for nine years. On January 17, 1792, Joseph 
Griffing resumed ownership, selling immediately, February 9. 
1792, to James Cezanne. 

Cezanne, like his brother-in-law, Nicholas Loyselle of the 
Black House, was a Frenchman from the Island of Guadaloupe, 
as told in the story of the Black House. 

Twelve years the Cezannes lived in this house, then sold 
it, July 23, 1804, to the Rev. Israel Brainard, and moved to the 
Samuel Bradley place, west of Jones's Bridge. The house was 
the home of the minister only two years for the Rev. Israel 
Brainard was dismissed from the pastorate of the First Congre- 
gational Church and sold the place back to James Cezanne on 

76 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

September 12, 1806. Going as a missionary to the frontier, 
Oneida County, N. Y., he died in Syracuse on September 5, 
1852. 

Amos Seward bought the house on August 8, 1814, and 
here brought his wife, Sarah Hubbard. They passed their lives 
here and it was the home of their children after them. In the 
winter of 1871-2, the house narrowly escaped destruction by 
fire. The Hale store and two houses, next south, burned to 
the ground. The Seward house was saved by desperate work^ 
the firemen holding upright, by pikes, the north wall of the 
burning house, only four feet distant, until it was ready to fall 
when they pushed it over and away from the Seward house and 
so saved the latter. 

On January 30, 1899, Mrs. Fannie Seward Baylies, trustee 
of the estate of Amos Seward, sold the place to Edward M, 
Leete. It is owned yet by the Leete family. 



77 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Great Ox Pasture 



^ 



ROM the time of Guilford's settlement in 1639 until as 
late as 1830, Sachem's Head was known as the Great Ox Pasture, 
the name of Sachem's Head being applied only to the land 
bordering on the harbor of that name. On the bluff to the 
westward, when Whitfield's company arrived, stood an oak 
tree bearing in its fork the gruesome burden which gave name 
to the neighborhood. The story of the Indian Sachem and his 
head is too well known to need repetition. The late Charles 
L. Benton told the writer that he remembered his father point- 
ing out to him, a small boy, the stump of the oak tree which 
had borne in its fork the head of the Indian chief. That tree 
stood on a bluff west of the Pope cottage, a bluff that has dis- 
appeared since as a result of quarry operations. 

The history of The Great Ox Pasture falls naturally into 
three periods, the first beginning in 1728. The Great Ox 
Pasture was divided into 260 lots, each patentee receiving 20^ 
acres and 3 5 rods. Those who preferred undivided land else- 
where could take that instead. Many records of exchanges of 
land filled the years immediately following. The boundaries 
of The Great Ox Pasture were thought by the late Deacon 
John W. Norton, an expert in terrier matters, to have been 
Long Cove on the east, Great Harbor on the west. Long Island 
Sound, of course, on the south and on the north a fence run- 
ning from the head of Long Cove to Great Harbor. 

^ ^ # 

When the fifth division of land took place William Leete 
II lived near Guilford Green. He was a son of the Honorable 
Andrew Leete and a grandson of Governor William Leete. His 
homestead was on the south side of Broad Street, west of Mrs. 

78 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Sophia Bishop's present home and across the street from the 
home lot of his father, Andrew Leete. The latter had occupied 
the land and house vacated by his father-in-law, Thomas Jor- 
dan, who had returned to England in 1660. 

Dying in 1736, William Leete II left all of his acres in The 
Great Ox Pasture to a son, Jordan Leete. Another son, Solo-* 
mon Leete, succeeded to the ownership of the homestead just 
off the Market Place or Green. A third son, Roland Leete, 
lived in that section of the town approached by the "country 
road" which leaves the state road at Eber Fisher's, Moose Hill. 

No sooner had Jordan Leete become "well seized" of his 
paternal acreage than he began to enlarge his boundaries by 
purchase and exchange of land until he owned a farm of 100 
acres in The Great Ox Pasture. His marriage to Rebecca Wat- 
rous took place in 1746 and he seems to have settled at The 
Great Ox Pasture then, since all his interests and activities were 
centered there. The first documentary evidence of Jordan 
Leete's residence at The Great Ox Pasture is found in a quit- 
claim deed of 1764 and, on the same day and date he deeded 
several acres to his brother, Solomon Leete, stating that they 
were part of his homestead. 

Just before this, on March 28, 1762, the Rev. Edmund 
Ward of Guilford had bought of Seth Stone three-quarters 
of an acre at the Harbor of Sachem's Head in The Great Ox' 
Pasture. A document of January, 1763, describes this land, 
"with the house now in building", and a deed of 1765 states 
that the Wards were living there. The home of the Rev. Ed- 
mund Ward was the nucleus of the present residence of Edward 
Eliot, the early house having been much smaller than the present 
one. These dates prove the Eliot house to be the oldest one 
now standing at Sachem's Head and the second one erected 

there. 

* * * 

The story of the Rev. Edmund Ward is a tragical one. He 
was a native of Guilford, a son of Capt. Andrew Ward, Jr., 
and his wife, Deborah Joy, the latter of Fairfield and Killing- 

79 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

worth. He was graduated from Yale College in 1727, studied 
divinity for a few months and was in readiness to preach just 
as the Fourth Church was separating from the First Congre- 
gational Church over the dispute about the settlement of 
Thomas Ruggles the younger, in place of his deceased father, 
in the First Church pulpit. In 1733 the Rev. Edmund Ward 
was ordained over the Fourth Church. His ministerial career 
was short, however, for in 173 5 he was dismissed from the 
church and silenced from the ministry on charges of unbe- 
coming conduct. During the early days of the little Episcopal 
mission on the Green Mr. Ward shared with laymen the duty 
of reading service when no priest was available. His wife was 
Mehitable, daughter of Thomas Robinson, Jr. History states 
that Mr. Ward remained in Guilford but lived in seclusion. In 
1763 the Wards sold their homestead on the east side of Guil- 
ford Green and retired to the greater seclusion of the new house 
beside Sachem's Head Harbor. A daughter, Clarinda Ward, 
married Nathaniel Caldwell "and later the Ward house by the 
sea was referred to as the Caldwell place. 

Jordan Leete, the pioneer, came to the end of his days 
on April 8, 1773. His property was divided among his heirs, 
his widow and children, who disappeared from The Great Ox 
Pasture. His name remains at Sachem's Head only as it is at- 
tached to Jordan's Channel. Tradition relates that a vessel lay 
to outside and called for a pilot into Sachem's Head Harbor. 
There was no one to act as pilot but Jordan Leete and he knew 
more of ploughing the land than of ploughing the deep. But 
he went aboard and brought the ship in by the most direct 
route, over top of rocks and reefs on which the craft bumped 
considerably, as the captain remarked. This was "Jordan's 
Channel" thereafter. 

Solomon Leete, brother of Jordan Leete, sold his father's 
homestead west of Guilford Green, about 1776, removed to 
The Great Ox Pasture and located upon the bluff above Sa- 

SO 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

chem's Head Harbor where soon British vengeance was wrecked 
upon his property. On June 17, 1777, a party of the British 
landed on the beach near by under cover of fog and burned 
his house with most of its contents, also two barns. This was 
doubtless an act of reprisal as only a month before, from this 
same harbor, had gone out the little expedition, under Colonel 
Return Jonathan Meigs, which had accomplished one of the 
most successful raids of the Revolution. In little more than 
twenty- four hours it had traveled ninety miles to Sag Harbor, 
Long Island, captured ninety-six prisoners, destroyed a fleet 
and taken large quantities of supplies, all without the loss of 
a man. 

Being a thrifty man, Solomon Leete immediately prepared 
a list of his losses at the hands of the British and applied to the 
General Assembly for reimbursement, being "satisfied that the 
sum of 1,044 pounds, 15 shillings and 2 pence would not at this 
day replace said articles." The General Assembly saw fit to 
grant him fifty per cent of his estimate. The list of quaint 
articles is yet on file in the State records. 

In 1803, shortly before the death of Solomon Leete, there 
were five homesteads in The Great Ox Pasture, of which four 
were homes of Leetes. The fifth was the Ward or Caldwell 
house before mentioned. The children of Solomon Leete and 
his wife, Zipporah, were five sons and two daughters. Solomon 
Leete, Jr., moved with his family to New York State. Thomas 
Leete married Anna Norton, built the house now the home of 
Daniel Walden and became "Uncle Tommie Leete" of whom 
more anon. James Leete located at Jones's Bridge, engaged in 
ship building there and was drowned in the river near his home. 
Pharez Leete dwelt with his father in the house which Solomon 
Leete had built on the old site to replace that burned by the 
British. After the father's death, Pharez sold the homestead 
to Charles Faulkner and removed to North Haven where his 
descendants yet live. Elijah Leete's house, long gone, was built 
near the cottage of the late Misses Newhall, his descendants. 
He was the father of Daniel Brown Leete, the story of whose 

81 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

home, now called "Shaumpishuh", is told elsewhere in this 
volume. 

The dust of Solomon Leete and many of his descendants 
remains at The Great Ox Pasture. A little cemetery, 33 feet 
square, yet can be discerned on the hill back of the present 
Sachem's Head Hotel. A fence once enclosed it but the forest 
now has possession. A grassy mound, a rude footstone here 
and there mark the place but the headstones were removed to 
Alderbrook Cemetery when Samuel Leete, the last of the family 
there, departed from The Great Ox Pasture a half -century or 
more ago. 

Thomas Leete and Anna, his wife, married June 30, 1773, 
were a childless couple. As the former advanced in years he 
developed eccentric ways and peculiar lines of thought and was 
known through the town as "Uncle Tommie Leete". He called 
people by their first names, without prefix, and the Rev. Aaron 
Dutton, the minister, was no exception. Ceasing to attend 
public worship. Uncle Tommie in his own home, went through 
the forms of praying, preaching and singing each Sunday 
morning. Next day he would allude to his interview with 
Luke, John or Paul. 

The late Mrs. Kate Foote Coe, writing in The Independent, 
related these anecdotes about Uncle Tommie Leete: 

"In an evil hour he sold some of his many acres in The 
Great Ox Pasture to a neighbor. The deeds were drawn and 
the money paid but Uncle Tommie never got over the feeling 
that those acres, once his, were yet his by inalienable right and 
he turned in his red Devon cattle whenever he saw fit. The 
new owner remonstrated. 'I own that land. It's against the 
law to put your cattle on my land'. 

" 'I dunno about your laws uptown there — I've nothin' to 
do with 'em', said Uncle Tommie, bland and firm. 'This is ox 
pasture law, and the matter is, Sammy, that those cattle have 
got to go on that land'. Ox pasture law prevailed. Old Tommie 
put his cattle where he saw fit, and then, mounting his old horse, 
he rode up town in his three-cornered hat and cutaway coat. 

82 



Yester -Years of Guelford 

There he stopped at any house where the spirit moved him 
to tarry and, entering in, held an extempore prayer meeting 
with whatsoever people he found therein, exhorting the family 
to lead honest lives in the fear of God. Nobody was unkind 
enough to refuse a prayer meeting thus brought to their doors 
and nobody ever made practical application of Tommie's own 
method of life to his theory and so bring him to confusion 
of face. 

"In the time of the elder Adams a heavy land tax was 
laid to support the standing army and the unequal arrange- 
ment fell upon farmers horny-handed and hard-fisted already 
and destined to become more so if that sort of oppression went 
on. Tommie was one of those who felt it deeply. 

" 'Gusty Collins and Abra'm Fowler, you're the under- 
strappers of Johnny Adams', said he to the assessors. 'And the 
matter is, I shall tell him so. I shall say, Johnny, Johnny, you 
can't do it'. And he would have jogged on his old horse all 
the way to Washington to see the President if the strong hand 
of death had not intervened and laid low this expositor of Ox 
Pasture Law." 

Thus Mrs. Coe. One more story about Uncle Tommie 
Leete. The fire in the kitchen fireplace was out one morning 
and Uncle Tommie had to kindle it. He hung a bunch of 
"top-tow", the refuse of flax, from the trammel hook on the 
crane, intending to flash the powder in the pan of his gun, 
ignite the top-tow and drop the blazing mass into the waiting 
shavings, this process being quicker than the use of flint, steel 
and tinder. Uncle Tommie pulled the trigger and a bullet 
bored a hole through the bedroom door beyond which Aunt 
Anna was taking her morning nap. "Upon that", said Uncle 
Tommie, (his favorite expression) "Upon that, I'd forgot I'd 
loaded that gun for a hawk. Lucky your aunt wa'n't up". 

* * * 

The house on the shore, built for Edmund Ward, passed at 
his death to the possession of his son-in-law, Nathaniel Cald- 

83 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

well, a merchant of Guilford. Nathaniel Caldwell was a Loyal- 
ist during the Revolutionary War and had his troubles then. 
His dwelling and store were on the east side of Guilford Green, 
probably the same house as that formerly occupied by his 
father-in-law, the Rev. Edmund Ward. By the fortune of the 
time the property was seized by Watson & Murray of New 
York on June 8, 1774, to cancel a debt of 81 pounds. In 1782, 
at the close of the war, the homestead was in the possession of 
the State of Connecticut and the treasurer of the State, John 
Lawrence, was selling it to Eli Foote and Asher Fairchild with 
the statement that Watson & Murray, merchants in New York, 
had their property adjudged forfeit to the use of the State. 
Two years later, 1784, Eli Foote and Asher Fairchild deeded 
this homestead back to Nathaniel Caldwell who was then oc- 
cupying it. Probably this is the only instance of seizure of 
property in Guilford by the State in the history of the town. 
In 1796 Nathaniel Caldwell sold the homestead to Jedidiah 
Lathrop, the Major Lathrop of La Fayette's acquaintance, who 
built the present handsome residence, now the home of Dr. 
F. D. Smith. Nathaniel Caldwell went to reside in the house 
built by his father-in-law at "Sachem's Head Harbor in The 
Great Ox Pasture", the Rev. Mr. Ward having died in 1779. 

Yet remembered is the tiny graveyard on the former blufif 
near this house and the tombstone with its half-obliterated in- 
scription in memory of one, " — ard Godfrey of Taunton, who 
died August ye 8, 1795, in ye 42nd year of his age." It is said 
that he was a sailor who died of yellow fever when his ship was 
passing through Long Island Sound and was brought ashore 
and buried here, denoting that this burying ground was then in 
use. The stone, saved from destruction, now stands in the 
home lot of Edward Eliot, the former Caldwell place. No 
doubt the Rev. Edmund Ward was the first to be buried here. 
Older people remembered Caldwell gravestones and possibly 
there were slaves laid beside their master and mistress. 

Aftr the death of Nathaniel Caldwell and his wife the 
homestead passed into the possession of their son, Harry Cald- 

84 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

well, a business man in New York who was unfortunate in his 
transactions and lost the place. It knew many owners until 
1850, approximately, when it became Benton property. 



In the summer of 1846, when the big shore hotel on the 
hill was popular with Hartford people, John Olmstead, a suc- 
cessful business man of that city, sat upon the hotel's broad 
verandah and looked down upon the little gambrel-roof house, 
a story and a half, that nestled among the trees. His mind 
was busy with the problem of his son, Frederick Law Olmstead, 
a young man whose fancy seemed turning toward the cultiva- 
tion of the land. The father bought the little farmstead for 
his son but Sachem's Head held Frederick Law Olmstead only 
a year. The whole United States was to become his garden. 
The grounds of Central Park, New York, and of Leland Stan- 
ford University, California, attest to the national fame of the 
great landscape gardener of whom Sachem's Head neighbors 
once said pityingly, "Poor fellow! He will never make a living. 
Why, he is actually setting out bushes!" 

One more Leete homestead awaits mention. On the brow 
of the hill overlooking Great Harbor, deserted for sixty years, 
is the old house place of the Benton family. It was a Leete 
homestead originally and old inhabitants said that here once 
lived "Widow 'Viah Leete"; that her husband, Simeon Leete, 
had the timber cut and piled for the erection of this house 
when he was called to fight the British who had landed at 
Leete's Island and was killed. The neighbors finished the house. 
His tombstone, originally erected on Guilford Green, now 
stands beside the highway in Leete's Island. He was the hus- 
band of Zerviah Leete, later "Widow 'Viah", who, with her 
children, removed to New York State in 1802. One son, An- 
son Leete, bought the land now known as Chatauqua Point 
for $4.50 per acre and it bore the name of Leete's Point until 
1875. 

85 



Tester -Years of Guilford 

New names were coming into the land records of The 
Great Ox Pasture. In 1805 George Kimberly bought land of 
the heirs of Solomon Leete and built the house by the sea, later 
known as the Roberts place. George Kimberly 's son, Captain 
Eli Kimberly, was keeper of Faulkner's Island Light Station 
from 1818 to 1851. A nephew of George Kimberly 's wife, 
Charles Faulkner, in 1806, bought the Solomon Leete house 
on the bluff from Pharez Leete. Eli Kirkham (Kircum) lived 
in the little house opposite the former Charles Benton place 
and there kept toll gate after the tuilding of the Hartford 
turnpike. 

Three prominent men of Guilford, Joel Tuttle, Frederick 
Griffing and Samuel Eliot, envisioned a line of steamers to run 
from New York to Sachem's Head when ice made impossible 
the navigation of the Connecticut River; these steamers to be 
met by stage coaches running between Hartford and Sachem's 
Head. So the Hartford turnpike was built about 1825, laid 
out, not by the towns, but by the State Legislature. It began 
at a rock in Sachem's Head Harbor and continued, sometimes 
over a new lay-out, sometimes over the old one, until it joined 
the New Haven and Durham turnpike in Durham. The new 
lay-out avoided the original Ox Pasture road from the Edward 
Eliot house to the foot of Lindley Benton's hill and built the 
present road, except that the section through Long Cove was 
made in 1888. From Mulberry Bridge to the next corner east 
is not original. Wild Rose Avenue having been the early road. 

After the stage coach, the hotel. The house on the hill, 
which Solomon Leete had built to replace the one burned by the 
British and which his son, Pharez Leete, had sold to Charles 
Faulkner, was owned now by the Griffing family. Here was 
the nucleus of the summer hotel, the early Sachem's Head Hotel, 
which the manager, Agar Wildman, advertised in the Hartford 
Courant in 1835 as being accessible by steamers of the New 
Haven and Norwich Line and of the New York and Hartford 
Line while stages would meet the New York boats at New 
Haven. "In short", said Mr. Wildman, "This place presents 

86 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

so many attractions and is so easy of access that it is surpassed 
by no other summer resort". Mr. Wildman went on to pledge 
himself "that no exertion will be spared by him to make it 
agreeable to those who may favor him with their company". 
Sachem's Head became a popular seashore resort for the elite 
of Hartford society. The poetess, Lydia H. Sigourney, extolled 
thus its glories in the Hartford Courant of July 2, 1848: 
"Along the whole beautiful extent of coast, where Connecticut 
holds dalliance with the sea, there is no more desirable spot 
for a summer visit than this long favored locality of Sachem's 
Head". 

In the early '60's, H. L. Scranton, formerly of Madison, 
became the proprietor and he, too, spared no effort to make 
the hotel property unsurpassed. Additions were built so that 
it became "the largest hotel between New York and Newport". 
More barns and bowling alleys were built, the grounds were 
laid out, and trees were transplanted from the forest, forming 
the grove which is there yet. Gay and fashionable society 
rode, drove, promenaded or sailed at Sachem's Head during 
the season. Then one night in June, 1865, the original Sa- 
chem's Head Hotel was burned and was not rebuilt. 



87 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Tragedy Of The Daniel Brown Leete House 

t_) MALL thought of tragedy had Daniel Brown Leete when, 
in 1816, he built "Shaumpishuh", the house by the sea, for his 
bride. Electa Fowler, daughter of James Fowler of North Guil- 
ford. 

Daniel Brown Leete was a son of Elijah Leete, whose home- 
stead was later the Newhall property at Sachem's Head. He was 
a grandson of Solomon Leete, one of the pioneers at Sachem's 
Head. 

Seven children were born to Daniel Brown Leete and his 
wife, Electa, and five lived to mature years; Jonathan, Elijah, 
Susan who became Mrs. Bottsford, Tempa whose married name 
was Wheeler, and Elizabeth, later Mrs. George Bowen of 
Guilford. 

Jonathan and Elijah were diametrically opposite in tem- 
perament, Jonathan, ten years older than his brother, being 
quiet, methodical and a home-stayer while Elijah was gay, much 
in society and a favorite, especially with older people whom he 
was given to visiting. Jonathan followed the sea while Elijah 
worked the farm with his father and sang bass in the choir of 
the Episcopal Church in Guilford, his intimate friend, Spencer 
Foote, also being a member. 

Captain Jonathan Leete was in the oyster trade for several 
years, sailing a schooner, "Reaper", built at West River bridge 
and owned by Captain James Frisbie whose home near the rail- 
road in Guilford is now occupied by Harry L. Page and family. 
Captain Jonathan had difficulty in finding a deck hand of 
neatness to suit but at last picked up in New York a Lascar 
named John Lord, or Jackalow, who filled the position well. 
When he gave up command of the "Reaper" and returned to 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

his father's farm, Captain Jonathan brought Jackalow with 
him. The deck hand soon learned the ways of the household 
and was regarded as a member of the family. 

Jackalow's great fault was the love of gold. Paper money 
had no charm for him but the glitter and clink of gold he 
could not resist. Once in New York he had stolen $100 from 
Captain Jonathan and had escaped to New Haven before he 
was captured. He shed tears and begged forgiveness so Cap- 
tain Jonathan refused to appear against him and took him back 
into his service. 

Captain Jonathan and Elijah Leete joined in the purchase 
of the 30-ton sloop, "Spray", in which to engage in the coast- 
ing trade, and Daniel Brown Leete mortgaged his farm to assist 
his sons in this enterprise. The "Spray" was painted flesh-color 
outside with yellow and red streaks, the inside bulwarks were 
green and the deck light lead color. She had a flush deck with 
centerboard and her port quarter had been stove and patched. 
Coasting vessels in those days did a flourishing trade, carrying 
to New York passengers and farm products and returning 
laden with city merchandise. 

For two or three years the Leete brothers worked the 
"Spray", with Jackalow aboard as cook and deck hand. Several 
times Captain Jonathan was warned by friends to beware of 
Jackalow but his confidence in the Lascar remained unshaken. 

In the spring of 1860 the Leete brothers were to be mar- 
red, Jonathan being engaged to Miss Delia Hale and Elijah to 
Miss Josephine Hall. One more trip to New York was planned, 
then the double wedding was to take place. 

The "Spray" was laden with hay and potatoes, David 
Benton of Sachem's Head being an important consignor, and 
the day set for sailing was Wednesday, March 14, 1860. An- 
drew Foote of Nut Plains was to go along as a passenger and 
came down on Tuesday evening to spend the night and be 
ready for an early start on the morning tide. Elijah owned a 
melodeon and the young people passed the evening singing 
hymns. Then Elijah turned to his sister and said, "There 

89 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Elizabeth, you can have the melodeon". Mrs. Bowen kept that 
melodeon as long as she lived. 

The "Spray", with its crew and passenger, sailed for New 
York next morning. Andrew Foote came home another way 
but a week passed and the "Spray" did not return. Daniel 
Brown Leete became anxious. 

"It's time the boys were home", he said anxiously but the 
mother, of a calmer temperament, replied, "Don't worry about 
the boys, they are all right somewhere." 

Still the father kept up his vigil and the days went by 
until Sunday, March 25, 1860. On that day the news came, 
not by telegraph, nor telephone, Sunday newspapers nor radio, 
for of those Guilford knew nothing. It was brought by a 
Madison captain just back from a trip up the Sound. 

The church bells had ceased ringing and the four churches 
about Guilford Green held each its worshipping congregation 
when a messenger ran in the door of the Episcopal Church, up 
the stairs to the choir loft aild whispered in the ear of Spencer 
Foote. He, white and agitated, sprang up and rushed from the 
church. Like magic the whisper ran through congregation 
and town, "The Leete boys have been murdered by Jackalow". 

Within ten minutes the churches were deserted and an 
angry, vengeful crowd assembled on Guilford Green. Threats 
of vengeance were uttered until the more immediate question 
arose, "Who will tell the family?" Franklin Phelps and John 
Benton finally consented to bear the ill tidings. They went 
down to the farmhouse by the sea but had no need to speak. 
Daniel Brown Leete saw them coming and knew why they 
came. That day and for many days the farmhouse was filled 
with friends, a hundred at a time, lamenting, comforting, 
questioning. 

For days went on the piecing together of the details of 
the tragedy. On Tuesday, March 27, six days after the dis- 
covery of the murder, the New Haven Register carried an 
account, copied from the New York Tribune, of the affair. 
This paper could be obtained only from the newsboy on the 

90 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

train so the entire town met that train. The time of the train 
stop was short, papers were snatched and some were paid for, 
some not. The important thing was to get the news. 

It was learned that the "Spray's" run to New York was 
made safely, as Andrew Foote could testify. The cargo was 
sold and about $500 in gold and bills was stowed in the cabin. 
The "Spray" turned homeward, was seen at various points 
along the course by other craft. On a dark, foggy night the 
"Spray" anchored off Norwalk, as did other coasting vessels. 
Cries of "Murder!" and "Open the cabin door!" were heard 
coming from the "Spray". 

The next news obtained was that the "Spray" was in 
collision with the "Lucinda" of Rockaway, about four miles 
north of Barnegat, N. J. on Wednesday, March 21, at 2 P. M. 
Later in the day the schooner, " Thomas E. French", out of 
Suffolk, Va., passed and Captain Webb saw the "Spray" on 
her beam ends while a short distance away to windward lay 
at anchor a yawl boat with an Oriental aboard. Although the 
sea was rough the Oriental asked no assistance but Captain 
Webb motioned to him to cut the painter. He did so and 
was taken aboard. He pretended not to understand English 
and, when asked what had become of his captain, made signs 
that he was drowned . When the seamen began to joke him 
he became more communicative and told a confused story. 

He said the "Spray" had sunk, after the collision with 
the "Lucinda", carrying down the captain and his brother. 
Afterward he said the main sheet struck the captain and 
knocked him overboard; again that the captain was on the 
bow at the time of the collision and was thrown overboard by 
the impact; lastly that the captain was sick in the cabin and 
so went down with the sloop. 

Captain Webb had occasion to run into Little Egg Harbor 
and there lay the "Lucinda", whose captain distinctly stated 
that no one but the Oriental was aboard the "Spray" at the 
time of the collision, that the deck of the sloop was strewn 

91 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

with furniture and bedding as if the cabin had been searched 
for plunder. 

In spite of the circumstantial evidence against Jackalow, 
Captain Webb made no effort to detain him for delivery to 
officials in New York, but allowed him to accompany him 
ashore unguarded, in the small boat. When the boat landed 
Jackalow made one bound and disappeared in the crowd. 

The "Spray", lying on her beam ends, was found by a 
pilot boat and towed into New York. The name was found 
on a burgee, the sloop having been completely stripped of sails 
and rigging. Then in New York Harbor, the cabin of the 
sloop was examined and signs of murder were there — a portion 
of a man's shirt stained with what appeared to be blood, other 
blood stains spattered about the cabin. 

Descriptions of Jackalow were sown broadcast. A Phila- 
delphia train, running into Jersey City, passed on the road bed 
an Oriental, recognized by engineer and brakeman as answering 
the newspaper description. Jersey City police were notified 
and started out but Jackalow had already been arrested at 
Hackensack Bridge, by another party. At first he gave a 
fictitious name but later admitted he was Jackalow and repeated 
his story of the wreck. He was found to have $3 89 in cash 
on him and several articles that had been the property of the 
Leete brothers. 

A few weeks later two bodies were washed ashore on Long 
Island and members of the Leete family went across the Sound 
but could not surely identify them. If these were not the 
bodies of Jonathan and Elijah Leete, no other trace of them 
was ever found though the shores were closely watched. 

Jackalow was brought before Commissioner Vroom of 
Jersey City. He was calm until Mrs. Leete and her daughter, 
Elizabeth, appeared in court. Seeing them he wept violently 
and asked to speak with them but was not permitted to do so 
by his counsel. 

Positive evidence of the identity of the bodies was lacking, 
so Jackalow's $3 89 went to the lawyers and Jackalow was set 

32 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

free on condition that he leave the country forever, which he 
was doubtless only too glad to do. The only point proved 
concerning him was announced by the New Haven Register of 
April 9, 1860, "Jackalow proves to be not Chinese but Japanese. 
He was brought to this country in Commodore Perry's flag- 
ship, 'Mississippi' ". 

There were no witnesses to the actual crime but it was 
believed by all that, while the "Spray" lay at anchor off Nor- 
walk that foggy night, Jackalow bided his time until one 
brother was asleep in the cabin, the other standing watch on 
deck, then locked the cabin door, thus effectually preventing 
the brothers from united action; that he crept upon the man 
on deck in the dense fog and felled him, though not before 
the latter had time to cry out "Murder!"; that, awakened by 
his brother's voice, the man in the cabin shouted "Open the 
cabin door!" whereupon Jackalow opened a skylight and shot 
him, spattering the cabin walls with blood; that he then threw 
the bodies overboard, ransacked the cabin until he found the 
money, then got the sloop underway. 

By good luck rather than good seamanship Jackalow 
worked the sloop to South Brooklyn, provisioned it with a 
tierce of rice and a cask of kerosene oil and was in the Atlantic, 
off Barnegat, bound south, when the collision occurred. Was 
he sailing for his native land with his stolen wealth? The men 
of Guilford thought so. 

Daniel Brown Leete had mortgaged his farm by the sea 
to buy the "Spray". With sons and sloop lost, all was lost. 
Though he and his wife made their home to the last in the 
farmhouse by the sea the portion of their old age was sorrow 
and mourning. 

The house now bears the name of "Shaumpishuh" yet seems 
ever looking out across the sea, watching for those young men 
who, all unwittingly, sailed away forever on that March morn- 
ing in 1860. 



93 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Nathaniel Johnson Homestead 

(Elizabeth G. Davis, Collaborator) 



Is) 



ILLIAM JOHNSON, who came from New Haven to 
Guilford as early as 1653, had his home lot on the west side of 
Petticoat Lane (Fair Street) extending from Samuel Spencer's 
north line to Dr. Evans's south line. He married Francis Bush- 
nell's daughter, Elizabeth, and they were parents of ten children. 
The ninth. Deacon Samuel Johnson, (1670-1727) succeeded 
to the ownership of the homestead. 

Deacon Samuel Johnson married Mary Sage of Middle- 
town. They were the parents of eleven children, the second of 
whom was later the renowned Dr. Samuel Johnson, first pres- 
ident of King's College, now Columbia University. Their sixth 
child was Nathaniel Johnson, with whom this story is con- 
cerned. Four years younger than Nathaniel was William John- 
son, only 18 years old when their father died in 1727. 

In the inventory of Deacon Samuel Johnson's estate was 
the item; "Guilford home lot, 6^/2 acres, 22 rods, with house, 
barn and workshop". Set to Nathaniel in the division of 1728 
was the north part with dwelling house and barn; to William, 
the south part with workshop. When William Johnson, then 
living in Durham, became 21 in 1730 he deeded the south 
part of the homestead to his brother, Nathaniel Johnson, who 
then owned it all. 

In 1727 Nathaniel Johnson married Margery Morgan, 
granddaughter of Governor William Jones and great grand- 
daughter of Governor Theophilus Eaton of the New Haven 
Colony. It is believed that Nathaniel Johnson built for his 
wife, more than 200 years ago, the substantial house that is 
now the home of Captain and Mrs. Leonidas Seward. 

94 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

The title of Captain Nathaniel Johnson resulted from his 
captaincy of a Guilford company on the expedition to Fort 
William Henry in 1757. 

Margery Morgan Johnson died in 1752. Nathaniel's 
second wife was Diana Ward Hubbard, widow of Daniel Hub- 
bard and mother of Levi Hubbard, builder of the Black House, 
and of Dr. Bela Hubbard who crossed the Atlantic to be or- 
dained as a priest of the Church of England in 1764 and who 
was the first minister of the Episcopal Church in Guilford 
until 1767, when he was transferred to New Haven. Nathan- 
iel Johnson was a warden of this church at its organization in 
1744 and some of the church services were held in his house 
up to 1751 when the little wooden church was built on the 
Green. 

Nathaniel Johnson occupied the homestead until his death 
in 1793. To his unmarried daughter, Rachel Johnson, he deed- 
ed, in 1787, "In consideration of her long continuance of faith- 
ful services in my family, the south part of my dwelling house, 
where I now live, containing large south room and bedroom 
adjoining, with chamber over said large room, half of kitchen 
and east division of cellar". 

In 1793, the year of his death, he deeded to his son, Samuel 
Johnson, "for 50 pounds, for services rendered and for primo- 
geniture, the north half of the house I now live in, with land 
on which it stands." 

In his deed to Rachel, the father had not mentioned the 
south half of the attic nor the kitchen chamber, so these re- 
mote parts of his dwelling were included in the inventory of 
his estate, the remainder of the house having been disposed 
of by the above deeds. 

After Rachel Johnson's death her heirs deeded her part 
of the house to her brother, Samuel Johnson, whose wife was 
Margaret Collins. They lived in the family homestead and 
here, in 1757, was born their son, Samuel Johnson, Jr. 

For generations teaching had been hereditary in the John- 
son family, stated the scholarly Henry Robinson, who wrote, 

95 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

"Possibly for the greater period from 1750 to 1805-10, Samuel 
Johnson, Sr., and his son, Samuel Johnson, Jr., taught the 
academy on Guilford Green." 

Unlike his father, Samuel Johnson, Jr. did not spend all 
his life in the family homestead, as the family Bible contains 
the record of his removal to Bethlehem in 1786, when 29 years 
old. Later he returned to Guilford. He was the author of 
the little 198-page school dictionary published in 1789 by 
Edward O'Brien in New Haven. The late Henry Robinson 
stated that the British Museum and Yale University Library 
each had a copy of this dictionary. In 1800 Samuel Johnson 
collaborated with the Rev. John Eliot of East Guilford in 
putting out another dictionary of 223 pages and nearly 9,000 
words. 

In 1780 Samuel Johnson, Jr., married Huldah Hill whose 
people lived on the northwest corner of Guilford Green (Mrs. 
F. C. Spencer's home lot). At the death of his father in 1808 
he became the owner of the homestead formerly the home of his 
grandfather. Captain Nathaniel Johnson. 

One of the four sons of Samuel and Huldah Johnson was 
Samuel Collins Johnson (1792-1872). He married, in 1824, 
Clarissa Frances Baldwin. His second wife was Olive Spencer, 
daughter of Samuel Spencer and sister of James Spencer. To 
James Spencer, in 1868, Samuel C. Johnson sold the Johnson 
homestead in Fair Street, property that had been in the John- 
son family more than two centuries. 

The new owner was a brother of Isaac Stow Spencer, 
founder of I. S. Spencer's Sons, and had been living at Long 
Hill in the house later occupied by Horace Wall's family. He 
died in 1874, his wife, Emmeline Butler, in 1875. From that 
estate Edward Long bought the former Johnson homestead in 
1879. His nephew and administrator, Vincent Scully, sold it 
to the Seward family in 1913. 

The house stands at a slight angle to the street and to the 
line of adjacent houses, all of later dates. An unusual feature 

96 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

in a wooden house, the front wall is thick enough to permit 
deep window seats in the front windows. Perhaps Margery 
Morgan, Nathaniel Johnson's bride, remembered such window 
seats in her grandfather's house in New Haven. They were a 
feature of the house of his contemporary, the Rev. Henry Whit- 
field, in Guilford. 



37 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Joseph Chittenden House 

\iy HE house in Fair Street which the late Mrs. Mary Hubbard 
Bishop bought from Mrs. Bertha Palmer Ryer of Branford in 
1921, and which Mrs. Ryer's father, A. B. Palmer, had bought 
in 1871, was originally the home of Joseph Chittenden. 

He bought, on May 24, 1766, from Nathaniel Johnson a 
part of the latter's home lot near the dwelling of Captain 
Reuben Leete on the present site of the octagon house. Captain 
Reuben Leete's house also stood on the early Johnson home lot, 
he having bought the land in 1744 from Noah Hodgkin who 
had obtained it from Sergeant Nathaniel Johnson. 

Joseph Chittenden's third wife was Carine Ward, widow 
of Asher Stone. She had two sons, John Stone who lived and 
died in the house at the head of Fair Street, on the Guilford 
Institute lot; William Stone who had a farm at Guilford Point. 

The heirs of Joseph and Carine Chittenden sold the home- 
stead, August 25, 1827, to Julia Scranton, widow of Ira Benton. 
Her two daughters, Harriet and Juliana Benton, died young 
a year or two later. The Widow Julia Benton finally married 
Martin Seward, father of George Seward, Sr. She was a sister 
of Amanda Scranton, wife of William Stewart Frisbie, who 
lived in the house now owned by Earle B. Leete. Heirs of 
Julia Benton Seward sold the place to A. B. Palmer, Mrs. Ryer's 
father, who came here from Cornwall. The barn was struck 
by lightning and burned in the summer of 1898. 



98 



Mi- 










Daniel Brown Leete House, Sachem's Head, Built 1816 




Nathaniel Johnson Homestead 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Two Hodgkin Houses 



^; 



HE SEWARD HOUSE in Fair Street, owned now by Mrs. 
Ruth Seward Spalding, was built by Noah Hodgkin, Jr., in 
1770, shortly before the War of the Revolution. 

Noah Hodgkin, Jr., was a son of Noah Hodgkin, Sr., who, 
August 15, 1761, had bought a trifle over a half-acre of land 
of Silas and Sarah Benton and there built a house, the present 
home of Mr. and Mrs. E. Selden Clark, Fair Street. On July 
4, 1769, the two Noahs, father and son, bought each 53 rods 
of land, measuring 2 J/2 rods front and rear, of Philip and Ann 
Man between the dwelling of Capt. Nathaniel Johnson on the 
north and that of Noah Hodgkin, Sr., on the south. Here 
Noah Hodgkin, Jr., 27 years old and married, built a home, 
the present Spalding house. Upon the death of his father in 
1783 the settlement of the estate gave "To Noah Hodgkin, Jr., 
that part of the land of Noah Hodgkin, Sr,, formerly bought 
of Philip and Ann Man, with dwelling house standing partly 
thereon and partly on Noah Hodgkin's own land, together 
with other buildings." So house and lot became wholly the 
property of the son. 

The family under consideration was descended from John 
Hodgkin of Essex, England, who probably came to Guilford 
about 1648, and who took the oath of fidelity May 11, 1654. 
He married Mary Bishop, April 4, 1670, and died January, 
1681-2. The name of Hodgkin was gradually modified to 
Hotchkin and finally to Hotchkiss. 

On September 11, 1786, Huldah Hill, wife of Samuel 
Johnson, Jr., bought Noah Hodgkin's house and lot, selling 
it May 30, 1800, to Benjamin Frisbie. By this later date Samuel 
Johnson, Jr., and Huldah, his wife, were living next door, in 

99 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

the house of his grandfather, Nathaniel, of his father, Samuel 
Johnson, Sr., and of his father's unmarried sister, Rachel. The 
deed identifies the property being sold to Benjamin Frisbie as 
"the same land we lately bought of Noah Hotchkin, dwelling 
house, etc., exempting the clothier's shop if any part of it 
should stand on said land." 

By this clause of exemption may have been sown the seeds 
of the controversy which later waxed heavy between Samuel 
Johnson and Dr. Strong. 

May 30, 1807, Benjamin Frisbie sold the homestead to his 
brother, Russell Frisbie, then 26 years of age, who later was 
the grandfather of the late Dr. Redfield B. West, and built 
the house now occupied by Mrs. West. 

On March 31, 1813, Russell Frisbie sold the homestead 
of Noah Fiodgkin to Dr. Lyman Strong of Hartford, who 
took up his residence there. 

Dr. Strong's quarrel with his neighbor, Samuel Johnson, 
began immediately for on July 5, 1813, Abraham Chittenden, 
Abraham Stone and Timothy Stone, a committee appointed by 
the town, rendered their decision as to the boundary line. That 
the disputants rejected the committee's decision is made ap- 
parent by a record of May 18, 1818, when Dr. Strong and 
Samuel Johnson were placed under bonds of $500.00 to accept 
the boundary decision of the committee, which consisted this 
time of Deacon Thomas Hart, Captain John Caldwell and 
Captain Thomas Burgis. 

That this final decision was unfavorable to Dr. Strong 
may be inferred. On June 10, 1818, less than a month later, 
he sold the homestead to Martin Seward and removed to Hebron 
and Colchester. The homestead passed, in due season, to Martin 
Seward's son, the late George M. Seward, then to his grand- 
daughters, the Misses Seward, one of whom continues to reside 
there, and finally to his great granddaughter, Mrs. Ruth Seward 
Spalding. 

Noah Hodgkin, Sr., who built the present residence of 
Mr. and Mrs. E. Selden Clark soon after 1761, was the father 

100 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

of the Rev. Beriah Hodgkin. In the division of the father's 
estate in 1786, the south part of house and land was set to 
his widow, Hannah Hodgkin, as dower, while the north half 
of the house and land went to a son, Beriah. 

The Rev. C. E. Stowe, in his address at the Quarto-Mil- 
ennial Celebration, related that Beriah Hodgkin was consecrated 
to the Lord before his birth by his mother, Hannah, in a 
moment of spiritual exaltation, she, who had already lost four 
children by death, following the example of another Hannah, 
wife of Elkanah, an Ephrathite, who gave her son, Samuel, to 
the Lord and to his service in the Temple. 

Before he was seven years of age Beriah Hodgkin had 
read the Bible through. He was brought up in the old 
Fourth Church, which had split off from the First Congrega- 
tional Church about 1729. At the time Beriah Hodgkin, in 
his impressionable years, sat under the fervent preaching of 
the Rev. James Sproat, the church was in its most flourishing 
period. Beriah Hodgkin was not able to secure a college educa- 
tion but studied for the ministry with the Rev. Amzi Lewis 
in Goshen, N. Y. 

In August, 1784, the Rev. Beriah Hodgkin was hired for 
six months to preach in the Fourth Church. He remained as 
pastor until 1789. He sold his house in Fair Street to Ben- 
jamin Frisbie, September 17, 1792, reserving his mother's dower 
right to her, and in 1793 was installed as pastor in Greenville, 
N. Y., whither some of his people had already removed. There 
was then in this region, from the Hudson River to Oneida 
County, no Congregational minister but himself and but few 
of any denomination and the Rev. Beriah Hodgkin carried 
spiritual comfort and consolation among these settlers until 
about 1825. He died in 1829 in Steuben County, N. Y. 

With the death of Hannah, widow of Noah Hodgkin, Sr., 
the name of Hodgkin ceased in this neighborhood. 



101 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



David HulVs House 

(Elizabeth G. Davis, Collaborator) 

vl/ HE house in Fair Street, owned by I. S. Spencer's Sons, 
Inc., and occupied by Charles Clore and family, was built in 
1766 by David Hull, on land bought by him that year from 
Nathaniel Johnson. In 1791 David Hull sold the homestead 
to Seth Bishop, the home lot being bounded on the south by 
Nathaniel Johnson. Seth Bishop had married, in 1789, two 
years earlier, Hannah Parmelee. Their daughter, Polly Maria, 
in later years, married Jonathan Bishop of State Street. In 
1796 Seth Bishop sold this salt-box house to Ambrose Hoadley, 
a native of Branford. 

Ambrose Hoadley was a son of James Hoadley of Paved 
Street, Branford, and Lydia Buell of Rillingworth, (Clinton). 
His wife was Wealthy Trueby, a daughter of Giles Trueby 
who was a charter member (1771) of St. Alban's Lodge and 
who died east of Boston after being a prisoner of the British 
troops. In 1802 Ambrose Hoadley sold the place to Parnel 
Griffin and moved to a house beyond Jones's Bridge. 

The identity of Parnel Griffin is not definitely determined. 
She may have been Parnel Bates, daughter of Martin Bates of 
Hanover, N. J., who married her cousin, Timothy Griffing of 
Guilford, in 1794, as his second wife, although they moved to 
Richmond, Mass., in 1795. No deed has been found recording 
the transfer but in 1808 the place was owned by John and 
Parnel Hathaway, the recurrence of the name, Parnel, sug- 
gesting relationship. 

In 1808 the Hatha ways sold to Darius and Friend Collins 
who sold, in 1811, to William M. GriflFing. 

102 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

The ownership changed seven times from 1814 to 1830, 
several of these owners living in Wallingford. In 1830 Calvin 
Norton bought the place from Jonathan Morse and in 1832 
sold the south half to Alpha Morse. It was the home of 
Philander Walker, until 1862, then Robert Sutton lived there. 
In 1882 the town of Guilford sold the place to Mrs. Mary J. 
Galvin. She, her son, William, and her daughter, Mary, lived 
there for some years. Mother and daughter died and the son 
did not survive many years. From the heirs I. S. Spencer's 
Sons, Inc, bought the place. 



103 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Griffing Brothers 

Vl/HE house in Fair Street, long the home of Charles Yale 
and the late Mrs. Yale, has a south chamber of unusual height. 
This became the meeting place of St. Alban's Lodge, No. 38, 
A. F. & A. M., probably about 1802, when its owner. Captain 
Joel Griffing, was made master of the lodge. Henry W. Chit- 
tenden, who married his first wife, Charlotte Griffing, daugh- 
ter of Captain Joel Griffing, in 1820, stated in after years that 
the lodge was meeting overhead when he was courting Char- 
lotte, evidence that this was the meeting place of the Masons 
for several years. 

The lodge room extended across the entire south side of 
the second floor, space that has since been divided into three 
rooms, and the ceiling w^as raised about a foot higher than that 
of the other rooms. This resulted in a raised floor, like a plat- 
form, across the south side of the attic, an arrangement that is 
yet in evidence. 

The house was built in 1796 by Seth Bishop, who had 
bought the land, in 1791, from David Hull. Seth Bishop, 
father-in-law of Jonathan Bishop of State Street, lived in the 
David Hull house from 1791 to April, 1796, when he sold it 
to Ambrose Hoadley. On the corner stone of his new mansion 
he cut the date, 1796. On October 20, 1797, Seth Bishop 
mortgaged dwelling house, shop and barn to Joel and Nathaniel 
Griffing, evidence that the present house was built already. 
Seth Bishop sold the house, August 11, 1801, to Captain Joel 
Griffing, whose home it was until he died. May 8, 1826. 

After Captain Griffing died. Captain Richard Fowler and 
family moved in to take care of the Widow Griffing, the for- 
mer Mary Starr and second wife of Joel Griffing. She lived 
until April 3, 1858. Captain Richard Fowler took title to the 

104 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

property in 1852. A few years later the place was bought by 
Mr. and Mrs. Ruggles Loper, parents of the late Mrs. Yale. 

Joel Griffing's house was copied, with some elaboration, by 
his brother, Judge Nathaniel Griffing, who built the house 
at the foot of Fair Street which was the home in later years, 
of Mrs. Hannah Brown and her daughter, Mrs. Henry E. 
Fowler, and is now owned by Dr. Carlyle S. White. Owing 
to the fact that both houses were the homes of Griffings, the 
Nathaniel Griffing house has, not unnaturally, been confused 
with the Joel Griffing house as the early meeting place of St. 
Alban's Lodge. 

The land upon which the Nathaniel Griffing house stands 
is a small section of the original home lot set out to Robert 
Kitchell, one of the Whitfield Company and a signer of the 
Plantation Covenant, who removed to New Jersey in 1666, 
selling his homestead to John Norton. Thereafter it was the 
Norton homestead for 140 years. 

The original home lot extended north to the present north- 
ern boundary of the home lot of Samuel Spencer. The Norton 
family had a farm on Moose Hill, and an early generation built 
there the ancient Norton house which was the childhood home 
of Frederick E. Norton now of Wethersfield. Even the fourth 
John Norton had his house in town and his farm on Moose 
Hill as late as 1785 when he drew his will, leaving the farm 
to his son, John Norton, the fifth, while the house in town 
was willed to the children of a deceased son, Nathan Norton, 
whose home it already was. 

It was the early death of Nathan Norton in 1785 at the 
age of 33 years, leaving his widow, Elizabeth Roberts, and four 
children of ages ranging from 12 years to less than one year, 
that reminded the father, John Norton, of the mortality of 
man and the uncertainty of life. He made his will. Provision 
for the little family of his youngest son, the deceased Nathan, 
was as follows: 

"To my grandchildren, heirs of my son, Nathan, deceased, 
the remainder of my home lot in town which I have not al- 

105 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

ready disposed of, with dwelling house thereon, to be equally 
divided and the son to have a double share, or two parts." 

The son, Elijah, thus had the Biblical double portion of the 
elder son. There had been another boy, Elisha, born a year 
earlier than Elijah, who had been killed by a cartwheel when 
a year old. Thus Elisha's mantle of birthright fell upon Elijah, 
reversing Biblical precedent. 

The other children were Elizabeth, nine years old when 
her grandfather made his will, who married later John Hodgkin; 
Lydia, two years old, and Amanda, an infant of a few months. 

The negotiations by which Nathaniel Griffing bought the 
Norton homestead covered a period of 14 years. In 1792 Elijah 
Norton, then 19 years old, his sister, Elizabeth, 16 years old and 
the wife of John Hodgkin, and their mother, the Widow 
Elizabeth Norton, deeded this homestead to Nathaniel Griffing. 

Judge Griffing was an astute and experienced business man 
and he appears not to have been fully satisfied with this deed. 
Seven years later, January 23, 1799, Elijah Norton signed a 
paper which bound him to Nathaniel Griffing in the sum of 
$500.00, the condition being that his minor sisters, Lydia, aged 
16, and Amanda, aged 14, should make a good and legal deed 
to the said Griffing, within one year after arriving at the age 
of 21 years, of their right and title in the south part of the 
home lot where their father, Nathan Norton, had lived, with 
the house thereon standing. Upon their giving such deed 
Elijah's obligation would become void, otherwise to remain 
in force. 

The deeds were forthcoming in due season, but the sisters, 
when they arrived at legal age, were living in New York State, 
where evidently the entire family had gone. On September 27, 
1803, Lydia Norton of Manlius, "Anadorga" Co., N. Y., as 
Onondaga County was quaintly mis-called by the legal gentle- 
man who drew the deed, made over to Nathaniel Griffing her 
right and title in the property. 

Amanda followed suit on May 8, 1807, being at that time 
the wife of Aaron Wood, Jr., of Manlius. And so the last 

106 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

shred of Norton title to the homestead was disposed of and 
Judge Griffing was secure in the title to the handsome mansion 
house which he had built and which is yet a substantial residence 
of the town. 

It was only the south part of the home lot of John Norton 
that passed into Griffing ownership. 

As the home of the leading man of Guilford until his 
death in 1845, the house of Judge Nathaniel Griffing was a 
mansion of distinction. It was the home, also, of his son, Fred- 
erick Redfield Griffing, the first president of the New Haven 
and New London Railroad. His untimely death in 18 52, 
leaving his v/idowed mother bereaved of her only remaining 
son, was a crushing blow. 

Three generations of Griffings, Jasper, Nathaniel and 
Frederick, had been interested in maritime enterprises. Their 
ships sailed the seas of commerce and brought home merchan- 
dise. So it was that a store, for the sale of imported wares, was 
built on the street corner of the Griffing home lot. This build- 
ing was later removed to the Stone House property, which be- 
longed to the Griffing family from 1776 until 1900. About 
1868 it was moved again, this time to Guilford Point, and now 
is the east cottage there. 

The widow of Nathaniel Griffing lived on in the Griffing 
mansion until June 1, 1865, when she died, lacking but two 
days of completing her 98th year. She had survived her hus- 
band and seven of her eight children. Notwithstanding her 
bereavement, Mrs. Griffing gave much time, money and thought 
for the benefaction of others. She planned for the youth of 
the town a seminary and the Guilford Institute thus took form 
and shape. Church enterprises found a firm friend in her. 

Mrs. Griffing was eleven years of age when, in 1778, Gen- 
eral Lafayette passed through Guilford. He and his staff were 
entertained at the house of her father, Samuel Brown, Esquire, 
on the site of the Eliot Davis Building, and she recalled every 
detail of the great Frenchman's first visit to Guilford. 



107 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Fosdick Place 



I 



N 1719 there came to Guilford from New London, John 
Fosdick, a shipwright, who married Jane Bradley of Guilford 
in that year and for her built a house hard by Jones's Bridge. 
It was a "Mansion House", as described in the deed of the land 
given by Jonathan Rossiter to John Fosdick on March 11, 1721. 
The boundary line began at a rock on the river bank. The 
northern boundary is described as being "the street leading over 
the bridge called Jones." 

Jones's Bridge was named for Caleb Jones whose home, 
near the site of Mrs. Louise Hall's house, was probably the 
nearest residence in 1719. 

It is probable that John Fosdick brought his trade of ship- 
wright with him, for this was an ideal location for the ship 
building industry. The records show John Fosdick, in 1744, 
three years before his death, as being one of four men who 
built a wharf near Jones's Bridge "for ye free use of all the 
Inhabitants of this Town as they may have ocation for the 
same in a Regular Manner without Unnecessarily Incumbering 
the Same to ye Detriment of other Inhabitants of ye Town." 

This John Fosdick had a brother, Samuel Fosdick, who 
was the ancestor of Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick. 

Elizabeth Fosdick, a daughter of the shipwright, became 
the wife of William Chittenden, who died, leaving his widow 
with several children. Then she married Reuben Stone, as his 
second wife, and was the mother of three more children. One 
of her sons, Luther Chittenden, perished of small pox in the 
army in 1777. She, herself, died in 1787 and in 1789 all her 
children, Chittendens and Stones, joined in selling the home- 

108 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

stead of their honored mother, Elizabeth Stone, to James Leete. 

Now James Leete was a son of Solomon Leete, a settler in 
"The Great Ox Pasture". James Leete also followed the busi- 
ness of ship building, until his death, by drowning, in the river 
near his home. His brother. Captain Thomas Leete, settled 
the estate and deeded the homestead to a son, James Leete, Jr., 
in 1796. This son married Zibiah Miller and lived here until 
his own death in 1838. 

Joel and Nathaniel Griffing, who were builders and own- 
ers of ships which, launched from their shipyard near by, sailed 
the high seas and engaged in the West India trade, had some 
interest in the Leete property as evidenced by a deed of 1814 
from them to Zibiah Leete of the homestead. After her hus- 
band's death, the Widow Leete lived on in the homestead. A 
son, James T. Leete, was located in Philadelphia and to him 
she deeded the homestead in 1846, he, in return, guaranteeing 
to her the life use of the property. The next year, however, 
James T. Leete sold the property to three men, William B. 
Baldwin, Alvah B. Goldsmith and George A. Graves and to 
them, in 1849, the Widow Zibiah signed over her life interest. 

And now the old Fosdick homestead became the scene of 
busy industry. The Guilford Manufacturing Company, a joint 
stock corporation capitalized at $20,000, bought "the James 
Leete place" and the old mansion house had as close companions 
a foundry, machine shops and all the equipment of a manu- 
factory of steam engines, iron castings and machinery. But 
by 1856 the molten iron had ceased to flow, the chimneys no 
longer flaunted to the wind their banners of smoke and silence 
fell upon the factory on the river bank. Coasting vessels sought 
elsewhere for their cargoes. The buildings were sold, one por- 
tion being moved and becoming the Music Hall building on 
the west side of Guilford Green; another, removed to the 
corner of Meadow Street, was made into a house, afterward 
burned; two sections of the old building remain on the ground 
today, having been built over into dwellings. 

109 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

After passing through various transactions involved in the 
settlement of the affairs of the Guilford Manufacturing Com- 
pany, the old homestead was purchased by George Parmelee in 
1860. His widow, in 1868, sold the house to the town of Guil- 
ford for an almshouse. 



110 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Isaac Stow^s Property 



*UILT in 1743 by Isaac Stow for his bride, Hepzibah 
Collins, daughter of John Collins of New Haven, this house 
in Broad Street, now the home of Mrs. Sophia Bishop, is a fine 
example of the third-period houses in Guilford. 

Isaac Stow, from Middletown, bought the land, a quarter- 
acre, from Mindwell Stone, part of the home lot of her father, 
Joseph Stone, on April 6, 1743. The Stones owned the land 
east and south of him, while on the west was the home lot 
formerly the second William Leete's, then occupied by his son, 
Solomon Leete, who later lived at Sachem's Head. 

Isaac Stow built not only a house and barn but a smith 
shop. Such a shop then was more than a place for shoeing 
horses and cattle. It was a hardware manufactory, where 
hinges, andirons and other house hardware were made. 

His oldest daughter, Olive Stow, in 1768, married Christo- 
pher Spencer, son of Stephen Spencer, who lived on the east 
side of Guilford Green. Stephen Spencer, too, was a blacksmith. 
Ashes of his forge have been unearthed in the yard of Charles 
D. Hubbard's house, a later structure. Olive Spencer died 
in 1783. 

Meantime Isaac Stow, Jr., brother of Olive, who had been 
living in Richmond, Mass., in 1777, and in Ballstown, N. Y., 
in 1778, was killed by Indians in 1780. His widow, Mary 
Pierson Stow, returning to Guilford, became the second wife 
of Christopher Spencer and lived in this house which Isaac 
Stow had sold to Christopher Spencer in 1772, a year before 
his own death. 

Christopher Spencer, who died in 1796, provided in his 
will that Widow Mary Pierson Spencer should have the life 

111 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

use of this house and, after her death, title should pass to her 
sons, Stephen, Alanson and Harvey Spencer. But when the 
Widow Mary died in 1846, none of her sons was living and the 
property passed to the grandchildren. All the other heirs re- 
linquished their rights in the property and the title was ac- 
quired by Elizabeth Patten Bloom Spencer, daughter of Alan- 
son Spencer, deceased in 1847. She made her home here until 
1854, when she sold the place to Madame Abigail Gregory. 

Abigail Gregory was a daughter of Wyllys Eliot, whose 
home was the present Four Elms House, and a granddaughter 
of Colonel Andrew Ward, east side of the Green. Her sister, 
Ruth Eliot, was the wife of the Rev. David Baldwin, Episcopal 
clergyman, whose home was the present Nelson Griswold house. 
She had married Levi Gregory of Wilton, Conn., and had one 
son, Eliot Gregory. 

Two years later, in 1856, Eliot Gregory bought Gablehurst 
from the Rev. E. Edwin Hall and made his home there. He 
died in 1863, a half-year before his mother died. Her will, 
drawn while both were living, left the house in Broad Street 
to Eliot Gregory and provided that, after his death, it should 
pass to Henry W. Baldwin, son of her nephew, William W. 
Baldwin. In case Henry did not live to the age of 21 years, 
it was to go to William W. Baldwin. 

Henry W. Baldwin, grandson of the Rev. David and Ruth 
Baldwin, was 18 years old in 1866, when his father, William 
Ward Baldwin, quit-claimed the house of Madame Gregory 
to Benjamin Corbin of Guilford. 

Corbin sold the house next year to William Fuller of 
New Haven, who, in 1869, sold to Diodate J. Spencer. 

The new owner was not a member of the Spencer family 
that had owned this house in earlier years. He was a son of 
Reuben Spencer of Hebron, Conn., and had married, in the 
Episcopal Church in Guilford, Leah, daughter of David Rossi- 
ter of North Guilford. These were the parents of Mrs. Sophia 

112 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Bishop, the present occupant, and her brother, the late George 
V. Spencer. 

The name of Isaac Stow, who built this house, is perpet- 
uated in the name of I. S. Spencer's Sons, Inc., whose iron 
foundry was founded by Isaac Stow Spencer, a grandson, in 
1857. 



113 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



A Widow In 1759 



In) 



HEN the old family desk, that had belonged to the late 
William Henry Eliot, and to his father and grandfather before 
him, was sent by its present owner, Harry W. Parmelee, to the 
cabinet-maker a few years ago to be restored, no one knew 
that the desk contained a secret compartment. Yet a secret 
compartment the cabinet-maker discovered, cleverly contrived 
and controlled by a spring, and its spaces were filled with papers, 
yellow and brittle with age, that had not seen the light of day 
for a century and a half. William Henry Eliot, it was evident, 
had not known of the secret compartment, nor had his father, 
Samuel Eliot, 1764-1843. It was the secret of the generation 
before him. 

The desk belonged originally to Wyllys Eliot, who lived 
from 1731 to 1777 and whose home was the house in Water 
Street now known as the Four Elms, which his son, Samuel 
Eliot sold to Peletiah Leete in 1796. Wyllys Eliot was a leading 
business man in Guilford, dealing much in real estate. In 1772 
he bought the Old Stone House from the heirs of Major Robert 
Thompson of London, England, through the agency of An- 
drew Oliver, Esq., of Boston, attorney for the Thompson heirs. 
This transaction involved a voluminous correspondence, the 
letters of which Wyllys Eliot put carefully away in this secret 
compartment of his desk, thus preserving them until the present 
time. 

But interest centers chiefly in two older and even more 
tattered letters, dated August 16, 1759, at Ticonderoga, which 
must have been placed in this compartment by Mrs. Wyllys 
Eliot herself. Who was she? 

She was born Abigail Ward. Her father was Col. Andrew 
Ward, an officer in the French and Indian War, whose home 

114 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

was east side of Guilford Green. Her mother was the aristo- 
cratic and beautiful Elizabeth Fowler who lived to be almost 
a century old. Abigail married, about 1753, Dr. Giles Hull 
who had come to Guilford in 1753 and whose home on the 
west side of Guilford Green, the site later owned by Mrs. H. "W. 
Murlless, was sold by his heirs to Nathaniel Rossiter in 1792. 

Dr. Giles Hull enlisted in the second French and Indian 
War and went to the front as Captain Hull. His brother-in- 
law. Captain Andrew Ward, afterwards General Andrew Ward 
whose home was the Foote farm in Nut Plains, was in the same 
expedition. Capt. Hull died at Ticonderoga but not in battle. 
He died of measles, an ailment bound to be fatal in the exposure 
and privation of an ancient army camp. 

The letter, written by Cornelius Hull, probably a brother 
of the dead man, bringing to Mrs. Abigail Hull the news of 
her husband's death, and a companion letter of consolation 
from her brother. Captain Ward, were hidden away in the 
secret compartment of Wyllys Eliot's desk. For Abigail, 
widowed at the age of 28, later married Wyllys Eliot and surely 
must have placed these cherished letters here with her own 
hands. After the death of Wyllys Eliot in 1777 she married 
a third husband, Samuel Parmelee, and doubtless forgot the 
letters as the sorrow they commemorated became dim with the 
passing years. 

The two letters of 1759 were brought from Ticonderoga 
by the same messenger. After the fashion of that time the 
sheet of paper was folded skillfully and became its own en- 
velope. The address on the outside which left no doubt of the 
news within, follows: 

"Mrs. Abigail Hull at Guilford, widow of Capt. Giles 
Hull, late deceased at Ticonderoga, these with care and speed 
by Mr. Thompson from the army". 

The body of the letter, edited to conform with modern 
spelling, but with a few portions missing, reads as follows: 

115 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Camp At Ticonderoga, Aug. ye 16th, 1759. 

For Mrs. Abigail Hull. After my tender regards, these 
lines may inform you that it is with the greatest reluctance 
and dread of heart to me to write to you in this manner. But 
since it is the will of God who will do right and not do any of 
his creatures the least injury and I hope you will be enabled 
to receive this afflictive dispensation of Divine Providence as 
coming from God who perfectly knoweth all things that are 
best for his creatures and hath a sovereign right to dispose of 
his creatures as seemeth right to him, I earnestly pray that God 
would sanctify his holy hand to you for your spiritual good. 

A Wednesday ye 3rd. I was with Capt. Hull at the land- 
ing at Lake George. Came from there at night and Capt. 
Hull was taken poorly at night, proved to be the "meazels" 
but walked about till ye 4th day, Tuesday ye 7th, proved a 
rainy day. I mounted guard at night. Rained very hard, 
proved a tempest of thunder and lightning. The wind shifted 
about 3 in the morning. Ye wind blew very hard and cold 
and an extraordinary storm followed till past 8 in the morning. 

Capt. Hull's "meazels" came out some but upon the change 
of weather they returned in. Ye ninth day, Mr. Beckwith 
made a prayer with him. I found him at first laboring under 
much concern of mind, being sensible he should not live many 
days. On Saturday he remained very sick but was more easy 
in his mind and remained rational and had his reason to the 
end. Sometimes when awaking out of sleep he was something 
shattered for a few minutes. At night rested something easy. 
Capt. Ward came to see him several times. Continued very 
sick until the 14th day, not with all the pains that could be 
taken by the doctor and then his disorder could not be re- 
moved. He was as well taken care of in life and greatly la- 
mented at his death. Capt. Hull departed this life ye 14th. 
at half after 5 in the afternoon. We provided a coffin and he 
was decently buried ye 15 th. day half after 5 in the afternoon. 
He gave very satisfying witness of his good estate. He 
(charged) Capt. Ward to take care of his (family) It is a 

116 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

heavy stroke to me and I earnestly hope therein may have a 
sanctified improvement thereof to (all). No more at present 
but I remain your well wisher and humble servant, 

Cornelius Hull. 

The letter by which the brother, Captain Ward, essayed 
to comfort his widowed sister, reads thus: 

Ticonderoga, Aug. 16, 1759. 
Dear Sister: 

Before the opening and reading of this, as well perhaps as 
when you do, thy heart is full and thy eyes brimming with 
grief on the same account as mine have done before you and 
do now. But tears also are trifling things, they rather increase 
than alleviate our sorrows. Then dry them up, my sister, tho 
thou art disconsolate and afflicted. I think I can tell thee 
where there are cordials and comfort for you. Thou hast read 
the Scriptures — I know thou hast — the promises the Evangelist, 
the one predicting of that shall make the widow's heart sing 
for joy, the other telling thee of faith that he died so. Then 
turn thy heart, thy affections, from him where they have been 
lately set, and perhaps you think with reason, for kindly and 
friendly offices done to thee and thy infant, but all that thou 
ever found in him or any other mortal that was lovely was 
but small streams that run from that Being as a fountain where 
I would have thy heart center. The one for whom thou art 
now sorrowing was (provident) and that with intention of 
providing comfort for this life for you and yours. But the 
one on whom I would have you lean at this time was really 
the provident friend. He feeds the ravens of the valley and 
will he not much more the children of the widow who hopes 
in his mercy and trusts in his promises. 

How weak was the one for whom you are now sighing. 
Life was not his when he would for he said calmly, I can neither 
live nor die. But the one where I'd have thy soul poured out 
has life and death in his hands, and life he offers. Did you 

117 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

ever see the one for whom you are in a flood of tears, wisely 
and with good will telling a pleasant and dutiful child, "ask 
for bread and those things you need and I will give you." Then 
hear the one, I advise you to, say "If you that are parents know 
how to give good gifts to your children, much more will my 
Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him." The good- 
ness and tenderness in the parents is derived goodness from the 
Being I advise you to. See the word, he does not say "If one 
that I own as a child asks for those things that they need." but 
to them. See the promise. "Much more will my Father give 
the Holy Spirit to them that ask." Would not this be a com- 
fort and consolation to you in your or any other contempla- 
tions. I have not time to say only this. You have a kind 
father and mother and sisters, have you experienced them as 
well as I. And if I ever return I hope you will find me a 
brother really. 

Andrew Ward, Jr. 

The tragedy of Abigail's early widowhood must have been 
as sharp and real as any sorrow of this latest generation. It is 
pleasant to know that she presently was comforted and that 
she later filled an important place as a wife and mother in the 
Guilford of her time. She was the mother of nine Eliot child- 
ren among whom were Abigail, the elder Mrs. Gregory, and 
Ruth, wife of Priest Baldwin, names not unfamiliar in Guil- 
ford a half-century ago. 



118 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Two Collins Houses 



I 



N early years Union Street bore the name of Back Lane. The 
old house there, long known as the Milo Cook house, now 
owned by R. O. Abbott, was built about 1769 as the home of 
Darius Collins, a son of Oliver Collins whose farm was on the 
old Moose Hill-North Branford road, near West Pond. He 
was a grandson of John Collins of the Philo Bishop house and 
a great grandson of John Collins and Mary Kingsnorth who 
had inherited the Comfort Starr house in 1686. 

Darius Collins married Hannah Spencer in 1762. She was 
a daughter of Stephen Spencer and Obedience Bradley, the 
latter a daughter of Abraham Bradley at the corner of State 
and Union Streets. Hannah Collins had inherited from her 
father, Stephen Spencer, land in Back Lane (probably Abra- 
ham Bradley's formerly) and on January 6, 1769, Obadiah and 
Mindwell Spencer deeded a half-acre on the west of it to their 
brother-in-law, Darius Collins, So Darius and Hannah built 
their house. 

Their daughter, Hannah, inherited the homestead "during 
time Hannah remains unmarried", which was her lifetime. Her 
will of December 6, 1847, left it to her relatives, from whom 
Samuel C. Johnson purchased it in 1849. He sold it in 1867 
to Sarah A. Sweet of Milford. James and Sarah Sweet sold it 
to John Benton in 1872 and John Benton to Lucy J. Cooke, 
wife of Milo Cooke, on January 6, 1876. Mrs. Cooke died in 
1908, in which year William Fritz bought the place, selling 
to Miss Eleanor Owens in 1927. She sold the property to Mr. 
Abbott shortly before her death in 1937. 

Meantime Hannah Collins's brother. Friend Collins, mar- 
ried Philena Norton in 1785. In 1787 Darius Collins bought 

119 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

land in State Street, a portion of the home lot of Colonel An- 
drew Ward, from the heirs. Colonel Ward's house was near the 
present site of Dr. F. DeWitt Smith's and his home lot extended 
north to Union Street, Broad Street, now intervening, having 
been extended to Graves Avenue a century later. A house 
was built in 1787 as the home of Friend Collins, who was the 
owner in 1796 when he and his neighbor on the north, John 
Davis, (Mrs. Bristol's place) were agreeing on a boundary line. 

The title to the State Street house passed through several 
names until 1851 when John Jackson bought it. He placed 
on the south side of the house an old structure as an addition 
in which he kept a meat market, as did Edmund S. Jillson, who 
owned it from 1866 to 1869, when he sold to Henry N. Cham- 
berlain. In 1890 John S. Norton bought the place and his 
daughter, Mrs. Lillian Jillson, is the present owner. Her son, 
Harry W. Parmelee, moved the wing mentioned above to Mul- 
berry Point and converted it into a cottage. 

A daughter of Friend Collins, Mary Ann, born 1787, mar- 
riel Leonard Chamberlain and for them was built the house 
next south, at the corner of State and Broad Streets. 



120 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Lees Of Crooked Lane 



cA 



FEARLESS, brave woman of the Revolution was Agnes 
Dickinson Lee. Small wonder that her name is reverenced in 
a score of Guilford homes and in other and unnumbered homes 
from Atlantic to Pacific. 

Samuel Lee, Jr., was the third of that name in succession. 
He was the son of Samuel and Ruth Morse Lee and was born 
October 12, 1742, in a house standing "one mile from Guil- 
ford Green on the old Durham road". 

Until he was 20 years of age, Samuel Lee, Jr., led a care- 
free life, his favorite pursuits being hunting and fishing. On 
November 7, 1764, when 22 years of age, Samuel Lee, Jr., 
married Agnes, the daughter of Azariah Dickinson of Haddam, 
and they began their married life in the house at the corner of 
State and North Streets. 

The early years of the Lees's married life were eventful 
ones in the nation's history. The following March (1765) the 
British Parliament passed the Stamp Act. For a decade British 
misrule continued to pile up American grievances until the in- 
evitable result came, war in 1775. 

Before the battle of Lexington three daughters had been 
born to the Lee home: Rebecca, March 17, 1766; Lucy, July 3, 
1770; Ruth, August 13, 1773. Another member of the family 
was Samuel Lee's brother, Levi Lee, a famous fifer of his time. 

During these eventful years before the Revolution, Guil- 
ford was far from idle. When the alarm of Lexington came, 
the town sent forty-three men at once to the front. Later 
that year another company of Guilford men was in service 
along the Lakes George and Champlain. In 1776 a company 
of Guilford men helped garrison Ticonderoga. 

121 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Meantime there was danger of attack on the home shore 
front and on July 31, 1776, Guilford voted in town meeting 
"that the Selectmen are desired to finish the Carriages which 
are begun for the Cannon in this place and fit them for Service." 
Prominent among those active in home defense appears the 
name of Samuel Lee, Jr. When, in 1776, Long Island fell into 
British hands and Long Island patriots desired to take refuge 
in Connecticut, Samuel Lee, Jr., was a member of a committee 
of five which chartered the sloop "Polly" to furnish transport- 
ation. Five times did the "Polly" cross the Sound, bringing 
to Guilford Long Island refugees with their families, house- 
hold goods and domestic animals. In 1777 the town voted to 
set up salt works and Samuel Lee, Jr., was one of a committee 
of three to purchase kettles for the enterprise which, however, 
soon proved unsuccessful. 

During the year 1780 the Connecticut coast was patrolled 
by three sets of whaleboats, one from Stonington to Guilford; 
one from Guilford to Housatonic; a third thence to New York. 
On May 1 of that year Samuel Lee, Jr., enlisted a company of 
twenty-nine men to act as a coast guard, he being lieutenant 
in command and his brother, Levi Lee, sergeant. 

The greater part of Guilford townsmen were patriots, the 
Tories being a small but troublesome minority. Lieutenant 
Lee's home became the center of patriotic operations in Guil- 
ford. There lead was brought, melted into bullets and stored, 
as well as powder, for the hour of need. All about the house, 
especially in the west bedroom, were hidden confiscated articles, 
buttons, strings of which hung on the wall behind the four- 
post bedstead, laces, silks and thread. Near the house, beneath 
a willow tree by the brook, stood the alarm gun, a cannon from 
the Canadian wars which had been assigned to Guilford in 
earlier years. This gun was to be fired as an alarm in case of 
British attack along shore. 

When, in 1781, the British did land at Leete's Island and 
it was high time to arouse the countryside, there was not a man 
left in Crooked Lane (State Street) to fire the signal gun. 

122 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Nevertheless the gun was fired, for Agnes Dickinson Lee, to 
quote her own words which have come down through five gen- 
erations, "went out and blazed away." So the British were re- 
pulsed. 

Greater occasion was there for womanly courage than the 
discharging of a cannon. Full as was the house of valuables, 
Lieutenant Lee would scarcely have passed from sight down 
Crooked Lane before the Tories would be raiding his house. 
At such times, clever Agnes Dickinson Lee would swing the 
great kettle onto the crane of the kitchen fireplace, fill it with 
lace, thread, buttons and silk, clap on the cover and the raiding 
Tories would never dream that it held anything but soup. 

Lieutenant Lee was out of town, perhaps in Hartford, at- 
tending General Court. He had left his home in care of his 
brother, Levi Lee, with a neighbor, Jared Bishop, to come in 
nights in case of a Tory raid. One evening, while Levi was 
absent for a brief while, there came a knock at the front door. 
Agnes Dickinson Lee, listening inside, heard voices whispering 
on the doorstep and knew that the Tories had come. 

"Who's there?" she asked. , 

"A friend." was the reply. 

"Yes, friends to King George and the traitors," replied the 
spirited woman and she would not admit them. 

The Tories proceeded to batter down the door. Agnes 
Dickinson Lee pushed into the bedroom her little daughters, 
Rececca, Lucy and Ruth, whose ages then were 13, 9 and 6 
years, and locked the door. As the Tories forced their way 
into the house she held high her lighted candle that she might 
recognize her unwelcome visitors. Three times the Tories blew 
out the candle and three times she relighted it from the coals 
on the hearth. The Tories advanced toward the bedroom door, 
but the brave woman placed herself before it, exclaiming that 
her children were in there and that none should enter save over 
her dead body. Awed by her indomitable spirit, the men paused. 
At this moment Levi Lee returned. 

123 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

"Shoot, Levi," she exclaimed, handing him a gun. "You 
will not harm us." 

Levi fired and in the darkness he might have been a dozen 
men. The Tories fled, leaving behind a bullet in the door casing. 
Across North Street they went, Levi sending bullets after them 
as fast as Agnes could load. Most likely they thought the entire 
Coast Guard was defending the house. Next morning the snow 
where they had passed was red with blood and a doctor was 
called to North Guilford to attend a man with a bullet in his 
elbow. 

Nor was the house free from attack when Lieutenant Lee 
was at home. He answered a rap at his back door one evening 
only to be struck at with a cutlass. So quickly did he close 
the door that the weapon struck the door panel, leaving a gash 
which remained to be seen there by his great grandchildren. 

Agnes Dickinson Lee had courage in face of graver danger 
than a Tory invasion. It has been said that ammunition was 
kept in the house in quantities. One summer day, when the 
heat had caused the attic windows to be left open, a powder 
keg, nearly full and uncovered, stood just inside the west win- 
dow. The barn caught fire, presumably from lightning, and 
showers of sparks were being carried toward the open window 
inside of which the open powder keg stood. There was no one 
there but Agnes Lee to save the house. Without a moment's 
hesitation she rushed up to the attic, past the powder and closed 
the window, shutting out the dangerous sparks. She afterward 
remarked that she never expected to come down those stairs 
alive. 

The Tories carried on illicit traffic with the British ships, 
which annoyed patriotic Guilford. On December 25, 1781, 
the town voted to detect, suppress and stop the traffic. The 
special charge of this movement fell upon Lieutenant Lee. It 
was the practice of the Tories to load boats with provisions, 
slip down East or West River after nightfall and secretly supply 
the British ships with food, taking in return contraband goods 
which they carried ashore and concealed. 

124 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

One night Lieutenant Lee was informed that a whale boat 
was returning up West River from one of these secret trips. 
Gathering a few men Lieutenant Lee appeared on the bank of 
the river and ordered the boat to come ashore. 

A refusal came back in the voice of a neighbor of Lee. 
"With an oath, Lieutenant Lee repeated the command. Now 
swearing was forbidden by the General Assembly, of which 
body Lieutenant Lee was a member. 

"I shall report you for swearing, Lieutenant Lee," observed 
the man in the whale boat in his smooth, gracious way but 
making no move to turn shoreward. 

"Come ashore!" thundered Lieutenant Lee with a second 
oath. "Come ashore, or I'll put a bullet through you." 

The boat's prow grazed the river bank without more ado. 
The cargo was confiscated and stored in the Lee house and the 
boat was placed outside in the yard, a chain from it running 
through the cellar window and being fastened in the cellar. 

Some years later, when the oldest daughter, Rebecca, was 
married to Timothy Seward, her wedding gown was made of 
silk, a piece taken from among the confiscated goods. Friends 
and neighbors m^ade merry at the wedding. When the bride 
and bridegroom were ready to start for their new home, the 
saddled horse was brought to the door. Timothy Seward sprang 
into the saddle and his bride was about to mount to the pillion 
behind him when she discovered that her wedding gown was in 
tatters. It had been ruined by ruthless scissors, snipping here 
and there, as opportunity came, in the hand of some Tory 
guest. 

The wedding party proceeded on horseback to the Seward 
home and at East Creek found ropes stretched across the road 
to trip the horses — another bit of Tory pleasantry. 

Near the close of the Revolutionary "War, Lieutenant Lee 
received his commission as captain, signed by Governor Jona- 
than Trumbull. This commission was carefully preserved by 
his great grandson. Captain Charles Griswold of Guilford. An- 
other heirloom was Captain Lee's porcelain snuff box which 

125 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

descended to his great granddaughter, Miss Annette Fowler, 
of Guilford, and by her was given to her niece. Miss Anna Lee 
Fowler of Chicago, a great, great granddaughter of Captain Lee. 

When the Marquis de Lafayette visited Guilford and tasted 
his first dish of succotash. Captain Lee was associated with 
General Ward in entertaining the distinguished visitor. Captain 
Lee represented his town in the General Assembly many times, 
his last term of office being in 1800. He is described as a re- 
markable man, and a typical Puritan, much given to discussing 
Biblical doctrine. He died May 31, 1819, at the age of seventy- 
seven years. 

The three daughters of Captain Lee and his wife married 
and settled not far from their parents. Rebecca, the oldest, 
married Timothy Seward and went to live at East Creek in a 
house now gone, beyond the Carter homestead. Lucy married 
Joel Griswold, Sr., and Ruth married Abner Benton. They 
lived in houses standing side by side, built on the Lee home lot. 
Descendants of Samuel Lee long owned the Joel Griswold house 
and the Henry B. Griswold house, the latter built for Captain 
Samuel Lee himself. 

The three sisters lived to advanced ages, leaving many de- 
scendants. Ruth Benton died March 9, 1854, aged 81. The 
same month, March 24, 1854, Lucy Griswold died at the age 
of 84. Five years later, December 6, 1859, Rebecca Seward 
died at the age of 93. 

Agnes Dickinson Lee, herself, survived her husband for 
about ten years, during which she made her home with her 
daughter, Lucy Griswold. She died about 1830. Her great 
grandson, the late Henry B. Griswold, remembered her well. 
He described her as a little woman, a white kerchief about her 
throat, knitting as she sat erect in her straight-back chair — a 
woman of dignity and charm and a great grandmother who 
told delightful stories. 



126 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Fourth Church Parsonage 

V-^HE pastorate of the Rev. Daniel Brewer with the Fourth 
Congregational Church, which stood approximately on the site 
of Nelson H. Griswold's store, is outlined in the story of 
"Thomas Jordan's Home Lot". This story is about the parson- 
age built for this pastor by the Fourth Society. 

John Norton, the fourth of that name, in 1772, sold to 
the Fourth Society 53 rods of land oflF the north side of his 
home lot in Petticoat Lane which his great grandfather had 
purchased from Robert Kitchell in 1666. The same day he 
sold to the Rev. Daniel Brewer, himself, a lot in the rear of 
the one purchased by the Fourth Society. 

The Fourth Church committee set about building a par- 
sonage on the newly-acquired home lot. The dwelling yet 
stands, being now the home of Samuel Spencer in Fair Street. 

The Rev. Daniel Brewer did not long occupy the parson- 
age of 1772, which the church had voted in 1771 to build "of 
any model." He had become a Sandemanian in belief and in 
1775 he was dismissed. The society instructed the committee 
to "settle with Mr. Brewer the best way they can." The next 
year, 1776, it was voted to rent the house originally built for 
Mr. Brewer. In 1792 the Fourth Society sold the parsonage, 
built twenty years before, with one-half acre of land, to Joel 
Fowler for 100 pounds. 

In the same year, 1776, the Rev. Mr. Brewer bought 
for himself the homestead of Nathaniel Bishop, 2nd, at the 
north side of the Town Square and next west of the sanctuary 
from the pulpit of which he had lately been dismissed. 

Another parcel of the Norton home lot was sold in 1799 
by Elijah Norton, his brother-in-law and sister, John and Eliza- 

127 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

beth Hodgkin, to Ruth and Nathan Chittenden, their aunt and 
uncle. This was 1 acre, 99 rods, next south of Joel Fowler, who 
now owned the former parsonage. The Chittendens, in 1807, 
sold the land to Agar Wildman, no house thereon. A deed of 
1808, conveying a piece of land from Agar Wildman to Joel 
Fowler, reveals Agar Wildman's homestead. There is reason to 
conclude that Agar Wildman built the house which was later 
the home of the late Christopher Spencer. The house was 
drawn across the street in recent years to make room for the 
addition to the plant of I. S. Spencer's Sons, Inc. 

The Fourth Church parsonage was bought by Ebenezer 
Bartlett, who moved up from Sachem's Head. He died in 1870, 
his wife in 1876. A few years later George B. Spencer, father 
of Samuel Spencer, bought the house and made his home there, 
as his son does now. 



128 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Caldwell House 

v^ HE Caldwell house, corner Boston Street and Lovers' Lane, 
now owned by H. Rossiter Snyder, was the home of Charles 
Caldwell, grandfather of Miss Clarissa Caldwell. He bought 
the home lot of Benjamin Everest March 3, 1726, six acres with 
messauge or tenement, indicating an earlier house on the lot. 
Extensive alterations are said to have been made to the present 
house in 1815 when two chimneys replaced the old stone stack 
in the center and made possible the long central hallway. 

Miss Clarissa Caldwell, the last of the name to occupy the 
ancestral home, was born a subject of King George, her natal 
day having been January 18, 1776. She died April 8, 1876, at 
the extreme age of 99 years, 9 months and 9 days. Her am- 
bition to attain a century was not realized. 

Miss Caldwell was a remarkable woman, both in mental 
and manual capability. A gentlewoman in the best sense of 
the word, she was also a business woman. A millinery estab- 
lishment was her specialty and more than one young woman, 
who came from afar to learn the trade of a milliner with Miss 
Caldwell, remained in Guilford for life, marrying and settling 
down here. 

A devout member of the Episcopal Church, Miss Cald- 
well was a close friend of the mother of the late Right Rev. 
John Williams, Bishop of Connecticut. Whenever Bishop Wil- 
liams visited the parish he failed not to call upon his mother's 
friend. The wit and repartee of the conversation between the 
hostess and her distinguished guest sparkle yet, undimmed by 
time. 

A brother. Captain John Caldwell, who died in 1843, was 
one of the numerous seafaring men of that period before the 
railroad had ended the maritime industries of Guilford. 

129 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

The house was partially ruined by fire in June, 1919, when 
later owners, Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur B. Bradley, lost their lives. 
The place was purchased from John E. Shelley of Chicago, 
brother of the late Mrs. Jennie Shelley Bradley, by Mr. Snyder 
in October, 1923. He is a son of the Rev. Henry Snyder of 
Boston, who was a close friend of the late Deacon John Rossiter 
of Boston Street, and gave to his son the name of his friend. 
The Rev. Mr. Snyder, Deacon John Rossiter and the Rev. Mar- 
tin Lovering were members of the class of 1881, Yale Univer- 
sity, and were so closely allied as friends that they were known 
as "The Triumvirate." Mr. Snyder is a descendant of the early 
settler, Stephen Bradley. 



130 




Captain Samuel Lee's House In Crooked Lane 




Caldwell House, Corner Lovers' Lane 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Great Guns Of Guilford 



N, 



EAR the Henry Whitfield House, and Hsted as one of the 
exhibits of the Henry Whitfield State Historical Museum, stands 
an ancient cannon. Its foundation is an ancient gravestone, 
one of those removed from Guilford Green in the first half 
of the nineteenth century, the inscription on which was hidden 
beneath a coat of stucco. 

This gun was a ship's cannon of the War of 1812. It was 
found on a New York dock and brought to Guilford by a 
coasting vessel running between Guilford and New York in 
the 1830's. Guilford Democrats appropriated the gun and 
with it celebrated Democratic victories when occasion arose. 

In its old age the gun was cared for by Milo Cook at his 
home in Union Street. He sheltered it, kept it painted and 
gave it an honored place in the parade on Fair Day. When Mr. 
Cook sold his homestead and left Guilford, he transferred the 
guardianship of the ancient piece of artillery to the Henry 
Whitfield House. 

There should be a companion for this ancient gun to stand 
beside it on the historic grounds of the Henry Whitfield House. 
Once, but not now, Guilford owned another field piece. This 
gun had its place in Guilford's defense of its coast during Revo- 
lutionary years and even before then had seen service in distant 
lands. 

It is tradition that this earlier gun was landed in Guilford 
by a British ship in 175 5, along with a handful of Acadian 
peasants who had been torn from their homes in Grand Pre, 
Nova Scotia, and landed by the victorious British in their col- 
onial town of Guilford. 

It is history (Trumbull's) that in June, 175 5, Colonel 
Monckton's expedition against Nova Scotia had taken the 

131 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

French fort, Bausejoir, and with it twenty-six pieces of mounted 
cannon. The Acadians, who had been assisting the French, were 
disarmed to the number of 15,000 men and pretty generally 
removed from the country. Great numbers of them were 
brought to New England. It was the tragedy of this thing 
that caused Longfellow to write "Evangeline". 

A little group of these Acadians was set ashore in Guilford 
and tradition has it that the great gun was landed here at the 
same time. For twenty years the curtain of silence hides this 
field piece. The next glimpse of it is obtained during the Revo- 
lutionary years. The hand, writing on the wall, had moved on. 
War, formerly between France and England, now was between 
England and her colonies, with France aiding the latter. So 
the gun which the British had taken from the French and them- 
selves brought to Guilford was trained against them by that 
same Guilford. 

In June, 1777, is is recorded that notice of any landing 
of the British should be given by the firing of two great guns 
in the old town, answered by one at East Guilford (Madison) 
and the ringing of the bell. In that same month it is stated 
that the State ordered the furnace at Salisbury to deliver to the 
selectmen of Guilford "100 round 4-pound shot with grape- 
shot in proportion" and the owners of the powder mill at New 
Haven to deliver 150 pounds of cannon powder. A four-pound 
shot, unearthed by the late John Starr in his dooryard (the 
Captain Lee House, State Street), is doubtless one of the above 
shipment. It is now on exhibition in the Whitfield Museum. 

The alarm gun stood under a willow tree beside the brook 
west of the house of Captain Samuel Lee. The house, later the 
home of John Starr, is owned now by Edgar Wilcox. When the 
British did land on the coast and it was time to fire the gun to 
arouse the back districts, not a man remained in Crooked Lane. 
They had forgotten to fire the alarm in their haste to meet the 
enemy. It was then that intrepid Agnes Lee fired the gun. 

The next time the Revolutionary gun came to sight it was 
serving as a fender at the southeast corner of Guilford Green. 

132 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

About 185 5 there arose a political party calling itself the 
"Know Nothing" party, with which many of the old-line 
Whigs united. It was, in a way, a secret organization and did 
not long survive. However, the party did elect a Governor of 
Connecticut, William T. Minor, 185 5-7, and Guilford young 
men turned out one night to celebrate the victory. They dug 
up the ancient cannon, conveyed it to the post office, a small 
building on the east side of the Green, now moved back of the 
Town Hall, and planted it, muzzle down, in front of the build- 
ing. 

Postmaster Franklin C. Phelps was the most prominent 
Democrat in the town and an ardent political fighter, but he 
took the joke in a sportsman-like spirit and next day paid a 
man a dollar to dig up the gun and plant it muzzle-up so that 
it might serve as a horse post in front of the post office. 

This did not suit so well the young men of the "Know 
Nothing" party. In the small hours of the next night they 
turned out again, took up the old gun and mounted it on cart 
wheels. They reamed out the mud and rust which filled the 
gun and arranged to fire a "Know Nothing" salute on the 
Green. 

"Charley" Miller kept a general store at West Side, the 
store which was last conducted by Daniel Sheehan and stood 
at the corner of York and River Streets. The young men sent 
there for every bit of powder in stock, which proved enough 
to fire the gun a few times. 

Democratic headquarters at that time were in the store of 
Horatio Johnson, a building in Water Street later used by A. G. 
Sommer as a barber shop. A party of Democrats, realizing 
that the "Know Nothings" were celebrating up on the Green, 
sallied forth to stop the celebration. A war-like member of 
the "Know-Nothing" group drew a clasp knife from his pocket 
and set chase to a prominent Democrat, pursuing him so fierce- 
ly that it was afterwards said checkers could have been played 
on the Democratic coat-tails. The old gun was spiked and that 
closed the incident of that night. 

133 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Next day the "Know-Nothings" took the gun up to the 
blacksmith shop of Morris Leete, grandfather of Henry "W. 
Leete, in York Street. They trumped the spiking trick by 
reaming out another vent hole. They sent to New Haven for 
a full supply of powder, but here their plans were temporarily 
thwarted for the New London Railroad refused to transport 
the ammunition. Then came to the rescue Captain "Dick" 
Fowler, the veteran stage coach driver, who brought the powder, 
100 rounds, from New Haven for "the boys". 

That night the "Know-Nothing" celebration was on. Led 
by a drum corps, with flags waving and drums beating, staid 
town fathers marched in procession around the Green while 
the young men dragged the ancient cannon, afterward firing it 
to their hearts' content. 

After that night there was always the need of preventing 
the precious field-piece from falling into the hands of "the 
enemy". Joel Griswold, then selectman, gave permission to 
hide the cannon in the dim recesses of his house cellar in State 
Street. The women of the household were not taken into con- 
fidence, and great was the consternation of a daughter when 
she stumbled over the thing while down cellar to get vegetables 
for dinner. 

Finally the hiding place of the gun was located by the 
Democrats and it was decided that the gun must be moved. 
So one dark night the gun was carried up the street to the 
basement of the "Rock House". Again the gun was traced and 
again it was moved. This happened repeatedly. Reuben Fow- 
ler's barn and Jonathan Bishop's hay mow were hiding places, 
among others, before the tide of enthusiasm ebbed. 

The last recorded public appearance of the old gun was in 
1858, a century after its capture from the French in Nova 
Scotia. Cyrus Field had laid the Atlantic Cable. The event 
must be celebrated for Cyrus Field was descended from an 
early East Guilford or Madison family. A public demonstra- 
tion followed the sending of the first message of August 5, 
1858. It was held on Guilford Green. Church bells rang 

134 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

merrily during the day. At sunset fifty rounds of powder were 
fired and the church bells pealed again. Hundreds of people 
assembled and bonfires burned while the Guilford Brass Band 
lent its music to the occasion. Addresses were made by Hon. 
Ralph D. Smith, the Rev. R. Manning Chipman, Hon. Judge 
Beebe of New York and Joseph R. Hawley of Hartford. Fire- 
works and the ascension of a balloon closed the program. 

But the occasion was marred by an untoward event. The 
old gun had been placed on the northern part of the Green and 
a crowd assembled there. George Durgin and George Stevens 
were acting as gunners. Once and again the gun was fired. 
The muzzle was pointing southward in the direction of the 
crowd. Standing in front of it George Stevens was ramming 
home a charge. There came a premature explosion. The gun- 
ner was cruelly burned about the chest and arms. The ramrod 
was shot across the space toward the spectators and killed Selden 
Munger's dog, with which his little daughter had been playing 
a moment before. It was a narrow escape for many in the 
crowd. The gunner, George Stevens, was disabled for some 
time and a purse was made up for him. 

That incident closed the active career of the old cannon. 
It was pronounced unsafe and was consigned to oblivion in 
the shed of the town mill. For several years it lay there, then 
somehow drifted down to Warren Lowe's livery stable in Water 
Street, lying there neglected and unrecognized. 

There is no record of the final disposition of the old gun. 
It is whispered that the selectmen, in a thrifty moment, some- 
time in the 1870's, sold the historic gun, the ancient war cannon, 
to the Malleable Iron Works in Branford as scrap iron. Thus 
ends the story of a gun which had its part in Guilford history 
for 120 years. 



135 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



BentoTi'Beecher House 



U 



NTIL 1829 the Benton-Beecher house was standing at the 
head of Guilford Green. Then it was moved to the foot of 
Whitfield Street, about a mile distant, and the present First 
Congregational Church was erected upon the site. 

The house was built about 1778 by Caleb Benton, son of 
Ebenezer and Abigail Benton who had lived in an earlier house 
on the same site. They willed the homestead to a son, Caleb, 
reserving to a daughter, Rebecca, the right to a home there. 
When the new house was built Caleb, following his father's 
example, deeded to his sister, Rebecca, January 28, 1779, the 
lower west room in the upright part of the house, which would 
be the east front room as the house now stands. Dying in 1794, 
twelve years later than her brother, Rebecca Benton willed her 
property to her brother's son, Caleb Benton, Jr. 

Now the parents, Ebenezer and Abigail Benton, in 1738, 
had given to another son, Ebenezer Benton, Jr., land in North 
Guilford, upon which he had built a home. A son, Lot Benton, 
had succeeded to the title and lived in North Guilford until 
1794. He then purchased his grandfather's homestead at the 
north end of Guilford Green from his cousin, Caleb Benton, 
Jr., and moved down town. 

Lot Benton and his wife, who was Catherine Lyman of 
Middlefield, had no children of their own but had adopted an 
infant nephew of Mrs. Benton, Lyman Beecher. The child 
was a son of David Beecher of New Haven and his wife, who 
was Esther Lyman of Middlefield and who died of consumption 
shortly after the birth of her son, Lyman. 

It was not strange that Lyman Beecher was a frail child. 
It is stated by good authority that only the invigorating air of 

136 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

the hill country of North Guilford carried him through child- 
hood. But he survived to a ripe old age. Indeed his body out- 
lasted a splendid mind. 

When Lot Benton changed his residence to the center of 
the town in 1794, his foster son was a student in Yale Col- 
lege, from which he was graduated in 1797. Uncle Lot had 
tried his best to train Lyman Beecher in farming but had given 
up the task in despair and had sent him to college as a last 
resort. This was the underlying reason for his retiring from 
the North Guilford farm. 

It was, then, to this house in Guilford that Lyman Beecher 
came from Yale to spend his vacations. He brought with him 
a chum, Ben Baldwin, who was calling on Betsey Chittenden 
at the home of her grandfather, General Andrew Ward in Nut 
Plains, and who took young Beecher with him. It was thus 
that Lyman Beecher met Roxana Foote. 

Roxana Foote was the second of ten children of Eli Foote 
and his wife, Roxana Ward, who had been orphaned by the 
sudden death of Eli Foote while in the South on a business trip. 
The greathearted grandfather, General Andrew Ward, had 
taken to his Nut Plains home his widowed daughter and her 
ten children and there brought them up as his own. 

It was a case of love at first sight with Lyman Beecher and 
Roxana Foote. In his own language he saw that she was "of 
uncommon ability". But alas! Between the lovers there was 
a great gulf fixed. She was an Episcopalian, he a Congrega- 
tionalist. 

Long and earnestly did Roxana Foote ponder upon the 
situation. Then love and common sense triumphed and she 
took the courageous step, becoming the bride of the young 
Congregational minister. 

The wedding took place on Saturday, September 18, 1799, 
at the Ward homestead in Nut Plains. The Rev. Lyman 
Beecher's first pastorate was at East Hampton, Long Island. 
Thither went the young preacher and his bride, Uncle Lot 
Benton hiring a sloop to take them across Long Island Sound. 

137 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

The years passed on, Uncle Lot died, as had his good wife. 
Aunt Benton, leaving by his will his homestead in Guilford 
and land worth $2,000 to Dr. Lyman Beecher. 

Meantime the Beechers had lived for ten years at East 
Hampton, conducting a select school for young ladies by which 
was eked out the slender salary of the minister. Then the heavy 
salt air began to tell upon the minister's none-too-rugged frame 
and the family removed to the hills of Litchfield, Conn. 

There, in 1816, Roxana Foote Beecher died, leaving eight 
children, another having died. It was her dying prayer that 
her five sons all might become ministers of the Gospel, and that 
wish was fulfilled. Indeed all of the eight brothers and sisters 
were of unusual mentality, although the fame of Harriet 
Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher exceeded that of the 
others. 

Dr. Beecher married a second wife in 1817, Miss Harriet 
Porter of Portland, Maine, and they were the parents of Isabella 
Beecher Hooker. Being again bereaved in 183 5, Dr. Beecher 
married in 1836 a third wife, Widow Lydia Jackson of Boston. 
In 1826 he became pastor of the Hanover Church in Boston; 
in 1832, president of the Lane Theological Seminary near Cin- 
cinnati, Ohio, where he remained for nineteen years, in the 
early part of the period preaching also in the Second Presby- 
terian Church in Cincinnati. His last years were spent in his 
own house on Brooklyn Heights, N. Y., where he died January 
10, 1863, in the 88th year of his age. He was buried in Grove 
Street Cemetery in New Haven, his native city. 

During the years in East Hampton and in Litchfield, Dr. 
Beecher doubtless came home to Guilford as often as the long, 
tedious journey could be managed. But in 1828, when he was 
living in Boston and negotiations were opened with him to sell 
the Lot Benton house in Guilford as the site of a new meeting 
house to replace the old "Temple" on the Green, Dr. Beecher 
was not averse to selling. The future was opening out before 
him and the old house in Guilford could never be his home. 

138 



Tester -Years of Guilford 

There exists a little home-made note-book, made of brown 
paper bound with string, which is kept with the records of the 
First Congregational Church and which contains the notes of 
the building committee of that time. This committee was ap- 
pointed February 18, 1828, and was made up of Nathaniel 
Griffing, William Todd, Daniel Loper, George Landon, Amos 
Seward. One entry in the book reads, "Nothing heard yet 
from Dr. Beecher". 

The building committee was authorized, January 19, 1829, 
"to go on and make the contract for building a new meeting 
house, and that they procure the Lot Benton place, so-called, 
to set it on, provided they can purchase it on such terms as they 
think are reasonable". 

The committee could and did. The corner stone of the 
new edifice was laid June 5, 1829. In the present cellar of the 
church the well yet remains that was dug and used by the 
early Bentons. The records are silent concerning the disposi- 
tion of the dwelling house that Caleb Benton had built but 
tradition takes up the tale. A new chapter now opens in the 
story of the house. 

A man in Guilford, Rossiter Parmelee, bought of William 
Eliot, on May 18, 1829, 150 rods of land lying in the Great 
Plain, near Sluice Creek. He, on the same day, mortgaged the 
land, which held no building, to Mercy Parmelee for $200.00. 

Did the building committee give the house to Rossiter 
Parmelee if he would take it away? And did Rossiter Parmelee 
finance the moving project with the proceeds of the mortgage? 

At any rate tradition states that seventy yoke of oxen were 
required to move the mansion. It was a large undertaking for 
the great chimney of solid stone was moved also, after being 
cut off at the base and decapitated in the attic, facts proved 
during later repairs to the house. There were no overhead 
wires and no wayside trees to obstruct progress, and no railroad 
tracks to be crossed, in those early days. But tradition states 
that the moving nearly came to grief opposite the Old Stone 
House, probably in the mud and mire of the early highway on 

139 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

a day in late May, and it was thought for a time that the house 
could go no further. However it was finally landed on the 
foundations prepared for it. 

The late Miss Annette A. Fowler used to relate a family 
incident in connection with the moving of this house. Her 
parents were living in it temporarily, while their own house 
on the west side of the Green was being built. When word 
came that the house was to be moved that day, her mother was 
engaged in the arduous task of dipping candles. She could not 
leave the task and, while others moved out the household fur- 
nishings and the dwelling began its strange journey, she con- 
tinued dipping candles until the procession had reached the 
south end of the Green. 

In its new location beside the sea the old house entered 
upon new times. Probably Rossiter Parmelee kept a tavern 
there, for the packets and coasting vessels, which made a mari- 
time place of Guilford, carried passengers as well as merchan- 
dise. In 1840 Rossiter Parmelee was licensed to sell spirituous 
liquors. 

Rossiter Parmelee was born in Guilford in 1783, a son of 
Nathaniel Parmelee and his wife, Mercy Chittenden. He mar- 
ried Clarissa, daughter of Captain Jasper Griffing, one of the 
sea captains of that period who adventured to the West Indies. 
In 1844, he sold the homestead to David H. Smith of Hartford. 

At this period the Guilford coast was a favorite shore re- 
sort with Hartford people and David Smith immediately set 
about enlarging the house and adapting it for a seashore hotel. 

When built the house was of the second period design, 
salt-box shape, with a two-story front and a roof sloping in 
the rear to one-story height. David Smith had the rear roof 
lifted to make it two stories high, and built a three-story wing 
on the east end, with a two-story portico across the front. The 
first floor of the new part contained dining room and sitting 
room. The second floor was cut up into tiny bedrooms with 
transoms above the doors opening into the corridors. The third 
floor contained a ballroom with windows on three sides. All 

140 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

about this great room ran a narrow wooden bench against the 
wall. From the window there was a wonderful view of Long 
Island Sound and, as the balls of a century ago began at six 
o'clock, even on a June evening, the dancers had a chance to 
enjoy some glorious sunset views while they danced. 

The regime of Manager Smith was short, coming to a 
tragic end eleven years after he bought the house. He owned 
a schooner, "Emperor", which engaged in the coasting trade. 
Being himself no navigator he employed Lyman Chapman of 
Madison as captain. The crew consisted of a white man named 
Brown, and a Negro of forgotten name. 

On March 9, 185 5, against the protest of Captain Lyman 
Chapman, the "Emperor" started on a trip to New York to 
carry a cargo of farm produce. David Smith and the crew 
accompanied the captain. A gale of wind was blowing and it 
was a bad time to start. The craft reached the Thimble Islands 
but could not make further headway westward so the captain 
headed eastward for Plum Gut hoping to pass through in safety 
and find shelter under the Long Island shore. Instead the 
schooner went on the rocks of Rocky Point, near Orient, on the 
north shore of Long Island. All on board were lost except the 
colored boy. 

As a sequel to this adventure, John H. Bartlett, adminis- 
trator of the estate of David H. Smith, on November 27, 185 5, 
sold the homestead to William Mallory of Norwalk. He, on 
April 30, 18 58, sold to Elizabeth Bullard, a member of the 
family of her brother, Joel Bullard of Guilford. 

Reserving life use to himself, Joel Bullard deeded the place 
to his daughter, Mary, wife of William Church, a returned 
soldier, on June 7, 1873. Mary Church later married Captain 
Jerry Rackett from East Marion, Long Island, and for almost 
forty years it was the Rackett place. 

Captain and Mrs. Jerry Rackett used but a few rooms in 
the great house, as they lived simply. Captain Rackett was a 
genial kindly man, who was beloved by all. He obtained his 
living by oystering in the river near the house. There were no 

141 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

children, so that all the affection of Mrs. Rackett's nature was 
centered upon her husband and she guarded and protected him 
with all the intensity of a strong temperament. 

Despite all her care, there was a mis-step and a fall one day, 
and after that Captain Jerry was an invalid. He had been a 
lifelong member of the Masonic Lodge of Greenport, L. I., and 
the lodge provided for him until he died. Mrs. Rackett, widow- 
ed, lived alone in the house for a time, then took in tenants. 
Though not in good health, she was yet able to be about and, 
desiring a change in surroundings, went to the home for the 
aged people where her husband had been, near Hartford. 

On July 3, 1913, Mrs. Rackett telephoned friends in Guil- 
ford that she wished to come home the following day, July 4. 
But on the morning of the Fourth came a message stating that 
Mrs. Rackett had died during the night. She was brought to 
Guilford and buried beside her husband. 

The homestead now passed into the hands of one and an- 
other of Guilford residents until 1917 when it was purchased 
by Andrew A. Benton of New York. He was not a descendant 
of the builder of the house but did belong to the same family 
and bought it for reasons of sentiment, wishing to preserve it 
and keep it in the Benton name. 

Then came the World War, interrupting all normal under- 
takings. To it was sacrificed the life of the new owner. Al- 
though he had passed the age for actual enlistment, Mr. Benton 
was an expert accountant and his energies were devoted to the 
task of putting on the liberty loans. His overtaxed brain gave 
way and his life was abruptly closed. 

The property then reverted to Andrew A. Benton's father, 
Arthur H. Benton of Minneapolis, formerly of Omaha. At his 
age it was impracticable to carry out his son's plan to restore 
and occupy the house. Accordingly he sold it in 1921 to Harry 
Durant who has developed the old mansion into a charming 
and attractive home. 



142 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Philemon Hall House 

V-^HIS house, on a hillside west side of the Long Hill Road, 
was originally the home of a branch of the Hall family, a name 
early found in Guilford. Mary Hyland, a daughter of George 
Hyland, whose home was the Hyland House, married Deacon 
Thomas Hall. Their son, John Hall, on May 30, 1780, deeded 
this place to his son, Philemon Hall, 2% acres "where Philemon 
now dwelleth", "for and toward his advancement in the world". 
Philemon Hall had married Sarah Page in 1756, about which 
time this house was probably built. 

Philemon Hall rejoiced in the title to his home for twenty 
years. He died in 1800, the year after the death of his son, 
Thomas Hall. The latter's son, Joel Hall, removed to Wash- 
ington, Penn., where he was living in 1818 when he sold the 
place to John Walker. Four years later it passed into the hands 
of Hezekiah L. Partridge, then to Dennison Chittenden, then 
to Calvin Cramp ton in 1842. 

Betsy Crampton, widow of Calvin Crampton, owned the 
house until 1877 so it was long known as the Crampton place. 

In 1877 Betsy Crampton sold the house to the Stone fam- 
ily. William L. Stone, on October 20, 1919, sold house and 
land to the Bishop Brothers of West Side. 

A peculiarity of the house is the outward slant of the 
front wall, an examination of the sills and frame revealing 
that it was built thus. A traditional explanation is that the 
slant was intended to protect the house from the drip of the 
eaves. 



143 



Tester -Years of Guilford 



Four Elms House 

V^HE LAND on the south side of Water Street, the site of 
I. O. O. F. Hall owned by Menuncatuck Lodge and the site 
of the old house long known as the Four Elms House, originally 
belonged to the home lot of the Rev. Joseph Eliot, on the corner 
lot of which now stands the Guilford Theater. 

This house was the home of Wyllys Eliot, son of Abial 
Eliot who lived in the house formerly on the theater site. 
Wyllys Eliot married in 1763 Abigail Ward, widow of Dr. 
Giles Hull who had died in 1759 of measles while with the 
army at Ticonderoga during the French and Indian War. The 
oldest son of Wyllys and Abigail Eliot was Samuel Eliot, born 
1764. He was only thirteen years old when his father died. 
Abigail Eliot afterward married a third husband, Samuel Par- 
melee. This homestead was quit-claimed to Samuel Eliot by 
his brother and sisters. 

On October 8, 1796, Samuel Eliot sold to Peletiah Leete 
this house and 100 rods of land, bounded on the north by the 
highway leading from the "Public Square" to Jones's Bridge, 
and on the east by Nathaniel Eliot's land. 

Peletiah Leete migrated to "York State", selling this place 
on January 8, 1817, to Stephen Griswold. The buildings there- 
on included a blacksmith shop. 

Stephen Griswold was a son of Ebenezer Griswold of Kil- 
lingworth (Clinton), a great grandson of Michael Griswold of 
Wethersfield. He married in 1805 Nabby Crampton of East 
Guilford. At his death in 1851 the homestead passed to his 
son, Deacon Leverett Griswold, 1806-1890. 

Deacon Leverett Griswold married Lavinia Stone, one of 
three daughters of Augustus Stone and Electa Collins, whose 

144 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

home is now the Travelers Rest at West Side. She was a sister 
of Electa Maria Stone, third wife of Jonathan Bishop of State 
Street, and of Amanda Elizabeth Stone. The latter outlived 
both Deacon Leverett Griswold and his wife, with whom she 
had made her home. As they left no children the place be- 
came hers. 

On February 21, 1894, George W. Hill, acting for Amanda 
E. Stone, sold the house, barn and shop and one acre of land to 
Menuncatuck Lodge, I. O. O. F., reserving the use of the west 
half of the premises to Amanda E. Stone. 

After her death, Menuncatuck Lodge, having built 
L O. O. F. Hall on the east part of the land, sold the house to 
Addie A. Chittenden on March 26, 1898. Mrs. Chittenden, 
who had been conducting the hotel in the old house on the site 
of J. Harrison Monroe's Pharmacy, named the old Eliot house 
the Four Elms House and kept a boarding house there. 



145 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Island House 



O 



N an island, formed by West River and its arm at West 
Side, stands a house now the home of Miss Lottie Norton. Built 
in 1790, it was originally a Fowler house, but the name of 
Fowler long since disappeared from this section. 

A deed of January 19, 1790, from Andrew Fowler, Sr., 
conveyed to a son, Jonathan Fowler, one-half acre of land at 
the Mill Pasture with a new house, partly finished, the whole 
valued at J 00 pounds, "in consideration of five years service". 
It was the house of this story. 

Andrew Fowler, Sr., was a great grandson of Deacon John 
Fowler who came to Guilford from Milford before 1648 and 
had his home lot on the corner of Broad and Fair Streets, where 
George F. Walter now lives. To Andrew's grandfather, John 
Fowler, Jr., in the sixth division of land in 1730, had been set 
land at the Mill Pasture which included this island. It had 
passed through the hands of his father, Benjamin Fowler, and 
so to Andrew. 

Andrew Fowler married Martha Stone and they were 
parents of seven sons and three daughters. In 1767 Andrew 
Fowler, Sr., bought of Mark Hodgkiss his home near Barn 
Brook on the Dunk Rock Road. How long he lived there has 
not been ascertained but that he disposed of it seems certain 
for in 1807 he sold to Solomon Stone another homestead which, 
as the boundaries given in the deed disclose, stood on the site 
of the present home of R. Walter Bishop, for it was bounded 
on three sides by the highway and on the east by the home lot 
of Ambrose Chittenden, opposite the present entrance to River- 
side Cemetery. 

Jared Fowler, oldest son of Andrew and Martha Fowler, 
died at the age of 23 years. His brother, Jonathan Fowler, 

146 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

whose home this island homestead was, deeded it to his brother, 
James Fowler, in 1799, and migrated to the Ohio Valley. On 
April 12, 1806, being then of Poland, Ohio, he was drowned 
in the Ohio River. 

James Fowler passed on the title to the island homestead 
to another brother, Chauncey Fowler, who died in 1802. An- 
other brother, Bela Fowler, whose home was the present res- 
idence of Burton W. Bishop, was administrator of his estate 
and sold the property to Charles Collins. 

The oldest brother of this family was the Rev. Andrew 
Fowler, of whom mention should be made although he had no 
connection with the island house. He was graduated from 
Yale College in 1783, and was a member of a Congregational 
family. Yet he became a member of the Episcopal Church, 
probably through the influence of the Rev. Bela Hubbard, also 
a native of Guilford, who was then in charge of the Episcopal 
Churches in New Haven and West Haven. 

Because of his loyalty to the Church of England, which 
included allegiance to the King of England, Andrew Fowler, 
Jr., was one of the Tories cited to appear in the old Town 
House on Guilford Green and undergo examination by a com- 
mittee appointed by the General Assembly of 1780. Pro- 
nounced inimical and dangerous persons, it was ordered that 
their names be inscribed as such on the town records. The 
order was obeyed but an astute town clerk wrote the names on 
a fly leaf of the book. In 1790, good judgment having regained 
sway, the list of names was ordered expunged from the records 
and this was accomplished by the simple process of tearing out 
the fly leaf. 

The Rev. Andrew Fowler died in Charleston, S. C in 
1850. He had presented for confirmation in the Protestant 
Episcopal Church the first class ever gathered in that State. 

Charles Collins, the new owner of the island house, was 
a bachelor and had an unmarried niece, Cynthia Collins, daugh- 
ter of his deceased brother, John Thomas Collins, who made 
her home with him. 

147 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Charles Collins, in partnership with George Landon, con- 
ducted a country store on these premises. It is believed that 
the building now doing duty as a woodshed housed the store 
as there is evidence that it was drawn to its present position. 
Probably it stood nearer the street. 

In 1815, at the age of 43, Charles Collins made his will^ 
making his niece, Cynthia, and his partner, George Landon, 
joint owners of the homestead. Two days later he added to 
his will a codicil, bequeathing to his niece the house and lot 
and to his partner $300 in lieu thereof. 

There were bequests to other nieces, Hannah Collins, wife 
of Phineas Shelley of Guilford, and Clarissa Johnson, wife of 
the Rev. Ashbel Baldwin of Stratford. To the Episcopal So- 
ciety in Guilford he left the sum of $1,000, the interest to be 
applied annually to the support of an Episcopal clergyman in 
said society and the principal to remain forever as a fund. The 
will was probated in 1823. In 1923 a warden of the church 
stated that the fund did not then exist and no one living knew 
what had become of it. 

As her uncle had sheltered her all her life, so did Cynthia 
Collins take her nephew, John Collins Shelley, to live with her. 
Each remained unmarried. The general store had disappeared 
but Miss Cynthia kept in the corner cupboard in the front 
room a little store of candy which she sold to the children of 
the neighborhood. She died in 1852, leaving the homestead 
to her nephew who was then forty years of age. 

Then, if not before, John Collins Shelley brought his 
mother Hannah Collins Shelley, to live in the island house. She 
lived until 1861 when her clothing caught fire from the front 
room fireplace and she was burned to death. 

Sudden death came to John Collins Shelley also. He was 
driving his horse in Fair Street when it took fright and ran 
away, injuries then incurred resulting in his death. His estate 
was administered by his brother, Samuel Shelley, who sold the 
homestead in 1870 to William Nelson Norton, father of Miss 
Lottie Norton, the present occupant. 

148 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Franklin Phelps House 



I 



N MAY, 1925, Guilford Public Health Nurse Association 
bought from Byron H. Benton the house in State Street which 
had been known for many years as the Franklin Phelps house, 
the home of the man who was postmaster of Guilford from 
1856 to 1861 and again from 1865 to 1869. 

The house was built in 1828 as the home of Chloe Munger 
who came here from Madison. On May 27, 1828, Miles Mun- 
ger, whose home was in the triangle bounded by State and 
Union Streets and Market Place, deeded to his sister, Chloe 
Munger of Madison, the northwest corner of his home lot or 
garden, and there was built the house which was her home 
until her death in 1842, when her heirs deeded the house and 
land back to Miles Munger. 

The original home lot was enlarged by the Borough of 
Guilford, which, on April 17, 1837, permitted Miles and Chloe 
Munger to enclose land in front of their land, the line to run 
from the northwest corner of John Davis's house (now Mrs. 
Elizabeth Bristol's) to the southwest corner of Henry Benton's 
house (Henry Beckwith's), the north line to range with the 
north end of Chloe Munger's house, the south line with Pent 
Road (road having a gate), the south fork of Union Street. 

Miles Munger's ownership originated in his wife's inherit- 
ance. His wife was Rachel Grumbley, daughter of John 
Grumbley and Elizabeth Griffing Grumbley. 

In 1801 Joel and Nathaniel Griffing, sons of Jasper Grif- 
fing, deeded to their half-sister, Elizabeth, wife of John Grumb- 
ley, the house and lot where her last years were spent. The lot 
was bounded on the south by the highway, by Samuel Johnson's 

149 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Sabbath Day House and by the potash house and wood yard 
of the Griffings. 

Jasper GrflFing, a native of Southold, Long Island, was 
known as "the Commodore" on account of adventures at sea 
and a narrow escape from capture at Louisburg, Cape Breton, 
during "King George's War". He married, first, Mindwell 
Stone, a daughter of Sergeant Joseph Stone, and evidence of the 
land records tends to show that this land came to the Griffings 
through the Stone line. His second wife was Rachel Lee, 

The late Mrs. Julia Woodward, whose childhood, as the 
daughter of Nathan Brooks, was spent in a house on the site of 
Mrs. George H. Parmelee's, remembered the aged Widow Eliza- 
beth Grumbley living in a three-story house standing east of 
the present house, formerly the home of Andrew J. Benton and 
later of Henry Beckwith, on the north side of Market Place. 

In 1805 the triangular plot, bounded on all sides by streets, 
contained two dwellings, one the home of Samuel Grumbley, 
the other the home of Rachel Grumbley, wife of Miles Munger. 
These were children of John and Elizabeth Grumbley. Both 
houses probably faced on "Pent Road", the Munger house being 
east of Samuel Grumbley's. 

Emmeline Munger, daughter of Miles and Rachel Munger, 
married Franklin Phelps in 1825. Doubtless they made their 
home in the house of their aunt, Chloe Munger, after her death 
in 1842. 

Franklin Phelps came to Guilford from New Berlin, N. Y. 
He died in 1873, aged 70 years. His wife's brothers deeded to 
her, Emmeline Munger Phelps, the homestead of their father. 
Miles Munger. When the two houses, homes of Miles Munger 
and Samuel Grumbley, disappeared from the triangle, is not 
recorded but one of them is remembered by persons yet living. 

The adopted daughter of Franklin and Emmeline Phelps 
was the latter 's niece, Henrietta, who married Sylvester Bennett 
and inherited the homestead of her adopted parents. Thus 
the property descended for four generations through the fe- 
male line, Elizabeth Grumbley, Rachel Munger, Emmeline 

150 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Phelps and Henrietta Bennett, an unusual record in this town 
of old houses. After the Bennett family ceased to live there 
the place passed through several ownerships until it was bought 
by the Guilford Public Health Nurse Association. 

An ancient map of Guilford locates some Sabbath Day 
houses on this triangle. Miles Munger bought these from Cal- 
vin Frisbie of Branford, Friend Collins, and the Parmelees, 
John, Joel and Harriet, of Guilford, in 1837, shortly before the 
Borough of Guilford consented to the enclosure of land in front 
by the Mungers. By 1837 the need of Sabbath Day houses for 
shelter "between meetings" on Sundays by dwellers in the "out 
lands" was passing. 



151 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Major Lathrop's Four Chimneys 



"W 



HEN General Lafayette was dining in 1824 at the Minor 
Bradley Tavern on the northwest corner of Guilford Green, a 
little girl, Clara Stone, swinging on a gate across the street to 
see the great man come forth from the tavern, heard Major 
Lathrop, a member of the reception committee, say to Lafayette 
with much pride, "The house with four chimneys that you see 

across the Green is er mine." Although the four 

chimneys are no longer to be counted, the same house stands 
there today, the home of Dr. and Mrs. F. DeWitt Smith, 
though it lacks the rows of boxwood that once guarded the 
path to its door. Jedidiah Lathrop owned the property from 
1796 to 1854 and built the present house about 1815. 

The sixth signer of the Plantation Covenant, drawn up on 
shipboard by Henry Whitfield and his followers in mid-At- 
lantic in 1639, was Thomas Jones. And when Menuncatuck 
had been purchased from the Indians and the home lots as- 
signed Thomas Jones had two acres east side of Guilford Green, 
north of John Bishop. This home lot extended north to Union 
Street, Broad Street stopping at State Street. 

Thomas Jones appears to have left Guilford before 1652, 
and is believed to have died of small pox in England or Scot- 
land. At all events. Lieutenant William Chittenden, agent for 
Thomas Jones, sold the lands in Guilford on March 4, 1667-8, 
to John Meigs, formerly of New Haven. 

A deed of 1712 conveyed the property from Meigs to 
Captain Andrew Ward (3) who had come to Guilford in 1690 
with his mother, Tryal Meigs, daughter of John Meigs, Sr., 
his father, Andrew Ward (2) of Stamford, having died pre- 
sumably. The first Andrew Ward had settled in Wethersfield 
and was the first judge of Hartford County Court. 

152 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Captain Andrew Ward, 3rd, married Deborah Joy, daugh- 
ter of Jacob Joy of Fairfield and KilHngworth (CUnton). 
Among their numerous children were three sons; Colonel An- 
drew Ward the 4th, an officer in the French and Indian War, 
who married Elizabeth Fowler (Madame Ward) ; the Rev. Ed- 
mund Ward, who married Mehitable Robinson and was the 
first pastor of the old Fourth Church; Samuel Ward who mar- 
ried Lucy Pendleton and lived in Philadelphia. 

Captain Andrew Ward, 3rd, in 1731, divided this home 
lot among these three sons. His own dwelling, bounded north 
by the town pound, with one acre of the home lot, was deeded 
to Samuel. One acre of the home lot on the south side, next to 
John Bishop, was deeded to Edmund. And to Colonel Andrew 
Ward, 4th, "the house in which he now dwells" was deeded with 
two acres, all the land adjoining not already given to the other 
sons. The house in which the father had lived is shown in 
Angeline Bassett's sketch made in 1830 and stood approximately 
on land now part of the Library lot. The other house, in 
which Colonel Andrew Ward, 4th, lived, doubtless disappeared 
when Major Lathrop built the present house. 

In 1739 Captain Andrew Ward, 3rd, sold to Stephen 
Spencer, blacksmith, three acres, formerly the estate of Ser- 
geant John Bishop, deceased, south of Edmund Ward's land. 
In 1742 Stephen Spencer sold a strip of land on the north of 
this lot to Edmund Ward and in 1754 he sold to Lewis Fair- 
child a small dwelling, where the Third Church was afterward 
built, having built for himself a new house, now the residence 
of Elias P. Bates. 

Edmund Ward was graduated from Yale College in 1727 
and was ordained pastor of the Fourth Church on September 
21, 1733, but was dismissed in 1735. Fiis house at Sachem's 
Head is described in the story of The Great Ox Pasture. 

The homestead beside the Green passed in 1765, after 
various real estate transactions, into the hands of Nathaniel 
Caldwell, son-in-law of Edmund and Mehitable Ward. Na- 
thaniel Caldwell sold the place to Jedidiah Lathrop on October 

153 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

30, 1796. The deeds constantly describe the property as "near 
the Meeting House". 

The old house on the north, formerly the home of Cap- 
tain Andrew Ward, 3rd, was afterward the home of Asher 
Fairchild, son of Samuel Fairchild of Durham, who married 
Thankful Hubbard, 1761, and was lost at sea 1795. His 
daughter, Harriott, married Jeremy Hoadley, and they were 
the ancestors of Dr. Charles Hoadley of Hartford, for many 
years state librarian. 

Major Jedidiah Lathrop was master of St. Alban's Lodge, 
A. F. & A. M., 1812-13; warden of Christ Episcopal Church, 
1820; warden of the Borough of Guilford, 1828-30. He sold 
the homestead to Ralph D. Smith in 1854 and died in 1859. 

Ralph D. Smith, grandfather of Dr. Bernard C. Steiner, 
resided there until his death in 1874. A complete sketch of his 
life is given in his grandson's volume, "History of Guilford 
and Madison. The house and lot passed to his daughter, Mrs. 
Sarah Smith, wife of Lewis C. Steiner, who sold it in 1896, to 
George H. Beebe, M. D. Dr. and Mrs. F. DeWitt Smith suc- 
ceeded the Beebe family as owners. 



154 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



The Woodward Tavern 



U, 



NTIL the summer of 1925 there stood, on the present site 
of Douden's Drug Store, a house that had been, in earUer years, 
"Woodward's Tavern, the last to survive of Guilford's old-time 
hostelries. Mr. and Mrs. William Hotchkiss were the last own- 
ers and occupants of the house. 

In the early settlement of Guilford four men had home 
lots on the west side of Guilford Green. George Bartlett was 
located on the "Hotel Corner". Next north was Henry 
Goldam, while Thomas French owned the present Bonzano 
property and Edward Benton was on the northwest corner. 

Henry Goldam came early to Guilford, though not with 
the Whitfield party. He died in 1661, leaving his house and 
land to his daughter, Susannah, wife of John Bishop. 

John Bishop died in 1683. The Widow Susannah Bishop 
in 1696 conveyed to her son, Daniel Bishop, the homestead of 
his grandfather, Henry Goldam. 

At this time the town was settling a new pastor, the Rev. 
Thomas Ruggles from Roxbury, Mass., to succeed the late 
Rev. Joseph Eliot. It was customary, in settling a pastor, to 
bestow upon him house and lands and Mr. Ruggles was given 
the house lot in Petticoat Lane (Fair Street) recently bought 
by the town from Goodman Cook. This lot was located on 
the west side of Fair Street and extended from the Country 
Road (York Street) south as far as the residence of the late 
Mrs. Mary Bishop, originally the Joseph Chittenden house. Mr. 
Ruggles was not content with this location and on March 6, 
1696, exchanged dwellings with Daniel Bishop. Thereafter 
Mr. Ruggles lived on the west side of the Green, not far from 

155 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

the old stone meeting house on the Green where he preached, 
and Daniel Bishop lived in Petticoat Lane. 

The Rev. Thomas Ruggles, Sr., died on June 1, 1728. The 
inventory of his estate mentions an old house valued at five, 
pounds, which may have been the original house on the prop- 
erty, Henry Goldam's, described in Steiner's History as having 
stood in the rear of the Isbell house, which was the Woodward 
Tavern. 

The elder Ruggles left two sons, the Rev. Thomas Ruggles, 
who followed his father into the ministry, and Dr. Nathaniel 
Ruggles, the town physician. To the latter was left the pater- 
nal homestead. The doctor's daughter, Huldah Ruggles, mar- 
ried Rosewell Woodward in 1774, and so the Woodward name 
enters the story. 

Rosewell Woodward first owned a small house which stood 
near the present site of Mrs. Eva B. Leete's home. This he sold 
in 1782 and in 1783 bought from his father-in-law the north- 
east corner of the Ruggles home lot, Dr. Ruggles giving him 
the right "to pass and repass northward of my dwelling to the 
rear of said tract", said tract having a frontage of only 20 feet. 

In 1792 Rosewell Woodward bought, from Dr. Ruggles, 
another bit of land in the rear of his first purchase. In 1794 
Dr. Ruggles died. The administrators of the estate were Rose- 
well Woodward and Nathaniel P.ossiter. Through the medium 
of Thomas Ruggles Pyncheon, next neighbor on the north, 
Rosewell Woodward bought the homestead. Now he was 
ready to build the Woodward Tavern. 

Rosewell Woodward was a son of William Woodward of 
Guilford and a grandson of the Rev. John Woodward of Ded- 
ham, Mass., of Norwich, and finally of New Haven. The first 
wife of the Rev. John Woodward was Sarah Rosewell, whose 
surname came down in the family as a given name. 

Miss Lydia Chittenden recalled that the ball room of 
Woodward's Tavern was located in a smaller building which 
stood on the present site of the Times Building. This ball room 
was later the hardware store of E. H. Butler and stands now, 

i56 



Tester -Years of Guilford 

dilapidated and used only as a store room, in the rear of the 
Times Building. A card of invitation, dated June, 1800, to a 
ball at Woodward's Tavern, sent to Miss Clarissa Caldwell, 
was an exhibit in the Henry Whitfield State Historical Museum. 
It stated that dancing would begin at six o'clock and was signed 
by several young men of the town. 

Next south of the "Woodward place was the house of Dr. 
Elisha Hutchinson. A fine old house it was, with a piazza> 
and stood on the site of Music Hall Building, originally part 
of a factory at Jones's Bridge and now owned by Eliot E. Davis. 
Congress Hall, which was burned in 1862, occupied this site. 
The old well of the Hutchinson house is located in the cellar 
of Music Hall Building. 

Dr. Hutchinson had a daughter. Marietta, and of her ad- 
mirer he disapproved. When the young man called, he sat on 
the piazza outside the window inside which sat Miss Marietta. 
The courtship, for some reason, did not result in a wedding. 
The family removed later to New York. 

Rosewell Woodward died in 1807, at the age of 57 years. 
He willed his homestead to remain undivided among his three 
sons. The oldest son, John, was to have the first chance to take 
over the entire homestead, buying out his brothers' rights. 
Should John decline, it was David's privilege. Failing that, it 
was Rosewell, Jr.'s chance. Rosewell, Jr., became the next 
owner. 

The Widow Woodward survived her husband until 1827. 
Seven years later, in 1834, her son, Rosewell Woodward, and 
his wife, Catherine Eliot, were living in Georgetown, D. C. 
The homestead in Guilford was sold to William and John Hale 
on August 9, 1837. 

During the following winter, 1837-8, a Methodist mis- 
sionary came to Guilford and organized a society of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church. John and William Hale became active 
members and deeded to the society the land upon which the 
Methodist Church was immediately built. This building is 

157 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

now owned by Paul Cianciolo and has been converted into a 
store, occupied as the Ben Frankhn Store. 

The Woodward homestead, which had ceased to be a 
tavern after the death of the elder Woodward, continued in 
the Hale family through the lifetime of Kate Hale Isbell, wife 
of William Isbell, and was later owned, as has been stated, by 
her nephew, William Hotchkiss. He sold it to Frank F. 
Douden on July 1, 1925, and the house was taken down to 
make way for Douden's new Drug Store. 



158 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Minor Bradley Tavern 



'^, 



HE lot at the northwest corner of Guilford Green, on 
which the late Miss Lydia Chittenden built, in 1886, the present 
dwelling, now long unoccupied, was a part of the home lot 
set to Edward Benton, an early settler, who came, perhaps from 
Milford, to live in Guilford and died here in 1680. 

The house known as the Minor Bradley Tavern, torn down 
to be replaced by Miss Lydia Chittenden's modern dwelling, was 
built in 1750 during the ownership of Simeon DeWolf. 

When the land passed from the Benton name to the Stone 
family has not been ascertained but it was early for in 1724 
the five sons of Lieutenant Nathaniel Stone, grandson of Samuel 
Stone, divided the property of their deceased father and set 
this lot to Joseph Stone. Joseph Stone's daughter, Mindwell, 
was the first wife of Jasper Griff ing and, in 1748, Jasper and 
Mindwell Griffing sold eight rods, "the northern part of our 
home lot" to Simeon DeWolf, no house being specified in the 
deed. On March 4, 1751, when Simeon DeWolf sold the prop- 
erty to Abraham Bradley, a new dwelling house was mentioned 
in the deed, and the price had risen from 150 pounds to 965 
pounds. Abraham Bradley profited by the transaction as he 
sold the place, in 1753, to Daniel Stone for 1,200 pounds. 

Daniel Stone was a distant cousin of the earlier owners 
of that name, being of the fifth generation from Samuel Stone. 
His estate was distributed in 1790 and his dwelling house was 
set to a son, Medad Stone. To these eight rods Medad Stone 
soon added 19 Yi rods on the south, which he bought from 
Jasper Griffing and his children, they being Stone descendants. 

Medad Stone was a brother of Thankful, first wife of Sol- 
omon Stone of Fair Street, and of Leah, wife of Henry Hill at 

159 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

the south side of Guilford Green. He made of his home a 
"Tavern House", too late for the visit to Guilford of General 
Lafayette who was entertained then at Brown's Tavern, farther 
down the west side of the Green. Although General Lafayette 
visited Guilford again in 1825 and was entertained beneath 
this rooftree, Medad Stone was no longer living to act as host. 
That responsibility fell upon Minor Bradley, who had bought 
the "Tavern House" from Mary Griffing Stone, widow of 
Medad Stone, and her son-in-law and daughter, Rosewell and 
Sally Bartholomew, in 1822. 

The stage coach pulled up at this hospitable door on its 
way from New Haven to points east, or returning, and the 
stage coach road ran diagonally through the Green, past the 
"Old Temple" or second edifice of the First Congregational 
Society of Guilford. The signboard of the Minor Bradley 
Tavern, with its pictured stage coach, later found its way to 
the Henry Whitfield State Historical Museum. 

Minor Bradley was thrice married but his children were 
all mothered by his first wife, Acsah Bishop, who died in 1814. 
In 1815 he married Phebe Hull, who died in 1847, and in 1848 
he married the Widow Parnel Munger, who died in 1860, two 
years before his own death. He was a son of Simri Bradley of 
Madison and a great great grandson of Stephen Bradley who 
had lived in Guilford. 

Of the seven children of Minor Bradley, only two attained 
adult years, Caroline and Harriet, who died 1876 and 1878, 
respectively. Dr. Frederick P. Griswold bought the place from 
the Estate of Harriet Bradley in 1882 and sold it in 1885, when 
he moved to Meriden. As has been stated Miss Lydia Chit- 
tenden had the old house torn down and the present one built. 
Here she lived until her death, leaving the house to the First 
Congregational Church which, not needing it as a parsonage, 
sold it to the present owners. 



160 



Yester -Years of Guilford 



Little Journey Of A Great Man 



e 



NE June day in 1805 a covered wagon passed out of 
Crooked Lane, Guilford, and turned westward along the Post 
Road. The oxen which drew the wagon were driven by Ben- 
jamin Hall, whose family and worldly goods were within that 
canvas cover. A family was migrating to "York State". 

Benjamin Hall, son of Benjamin Hall and grandson of 
Ebenezer Hall and Deborah Hyland, was of the fifth genera- 
tion from the settler, William Hall, who had come from Kent, 
England, with the Whitfield Company in 1639. Born in 175 5, 
he was leaving his native town, at the age of fifty years to 
migrate to the frontier of New York State. 

The Legislature of "York State" had set apart 2,000,000 
acres in the heart of the State to be divided as bounty to 
soldiers who had taken part in the Revolutionary War. This 
so-called "Military Tract" was divided into townships which 
were sprinkled with classical names. Thither were hastening 
many of the ambitious and progressive people of Massachusetts 
and Connecticut. Benjamin Hall, ex-soldier, came to the end 
of his journey in the town of Homer, county of Onondaga, 
by the beautiful Susquehanna. The old homestead back in 
State Street, Guilford, had been sold by him and his maiden 
sisters, Judith and Hannah Hall, to William Starr, whose de- 
scendants yet own the property. 

In the new home in the new land, Ruth, daughter of Ben- 
jamin Hall, met and married Andrew Dickson, a settler from 
the town of Middlefield, Mass. A daughter was born to them, 
Clara Dickson, who became the wife of Horace White. He 
also was of Massachusetts stock, a son of Asa White and Clara 
Keep from Monson, Mass. 

161 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

To Horace White and Clara Dickson, his wife, was born, 
on November 7, 1832, a son, Andrew Dickson White. The 
name of his grandfather was conferred upon him but the spirit 
of his grandmother was born within him. The child was to 
be, in later years, one of the wisest of America's diplomats, 
one of the greatest of American educators, one of the keenest 
of America's thinking men; so great a man, withal, as to be 
utterly unconscious of his own greatness, which is the highest 
pinnacle of human achievement. 

In September, 1917, 112 years after the slow and ponder- 
ous outfit of Benjamin Hall had journeyed out of Guilford, 
a swift and luxurious touring car rolled into the ancient town 
over the State highway. It brought Benjamin Hall's great 
grandson, the first of the family to come back for a look at the 
ancestral town. 

At the age of 85 years and near the close of a long, active 
and distinguished life, Dr. Andrew Dickson White was real- 
izing the intention of a lifetime. He was seeing for himself 
the old town which had been unforgetably impressed upon his 
memory by his grandmother, Ruth Hall. With him were his 
wife, formerly Helen McGill, and their daughter, Karin Andre- 
erna, born in Finland twenty-four years earlier. 

Ruth Hall had left a townful of kinsfolk and acquaintance 
when she departed from Guilford in 1805. Her grandson, re- 
turning in 1917 to look reverently upon the scenes of his grand- 
mother's youth, could find no person living who remembered 
Ruth Hall, no person, then, who could point out to him her 
birthplace. He came with the honors of the nations, the laurels 
of the world of letters, the friendship of kings and emperors 
heaped upon him. Yet scarcely a person in Guilford knew 
that Dr. Andrew Dickson White, former minister to Russia, 
former ambassador to Germany, former president of Cornell 
University, leader of the American delegation to the peace con- 
ference at the Hague, was a grandson of Ruth Hall and there- 
fore a kinsman and descendant of Guilford families. 

162 



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Minor Bradley Tavern, 1750-1885 




Major Lathrop's Four-Chimney House Minus Two Chimneys 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Had Andrew Dickson White visited Guilford during his 
years at Yale College, New Haven, only sixteen miles distant, 
the case might have been otherwise. In the early 1850's people 
were living who would have remembered Ruth Hall. In 1917 
it was too late. 

However, Dr. White could see Guilford Green, beneath 
the turf of which four generations of his ancestors lay. He 
could look upon the spot where once stood the original Epis- 
copal Church, a tiny wooden building, wherein Ruth Hall, 
herself trained in the strictness of the Congregational Church 
founded by the Rev. Henry Whitfield, had been so much im- 
pressed by the Christmas Eve service with its chants and carols, 
the white-robed priest, the greenery of mountain laurel and the 
box and the pine together. 

He could look upon the seacoast which Benjamin Hall, a 
youth of 21 years, had patrolled as a Minute Man of the Revo- 
lution. He could visit the tomb of Fitz-Greene Halleck, 
America's poet, dead for fifty years yet "one of the few, the im- 
mortal names that were not born to die." Ruth Hall had re- 
counted the great honor she had thought it when the future 
poet, a small boy, was brought, from time to time, into the 
school which she attended, and the respect and admiration with 
which she regarded his later career as a leading poet of America 
in the first half of the nineteenth century. 

Dr. White brought with him to Guilford other memories 
cherished by Ruth Hall of her ancestral home. The great fire- 
place in the old home had held a kettle hanging from the 
crane. Hungry children had helped themselves to boiled lob- 
sters from this kettle to "piece out" between meals. 

There was, too, the "grand lady" of Guilford, a Mrs. Leete 
who had deeply impressed the young girl, Ruth Hall, yet whose 
identity could not, in 1917, be determined, so many women 
had borne that name. 

Benjamin Hall and his family experienced many hard- 
ships, much toil, privation and suffering on the frontier. Wolves 
howled in winter about the houses of the village of Homer. 

163 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

Flour was brought from the mill by a day's journey through 
the trackless forest. Church attendance meant a ride of twenty 
miles on horseback. But those lean, hard years brought results. 
The wilderness was made to blossom as the rose. 

By the time that Ruth Hall's grandson was in his impres- 
sionable years the village of Homer was a pretty place. A 
Green formed the center, even as in Guilford. Likewise as in 
Guilford, upon the Green stood the church and the academy. 
Maple trees shaded the broad main street. Beyond the stores 
and tavern were large, pleasant dwellings, each with its own 
garden and orchard and its fence in front. 

The house in which Dr. Andrew Dickson White was born 
was described by him as a large, brick house in Colonial style, 
its southern stoop shaded by honeysuckles. Old fashioned 
flowers bloomed in the large garden, brought, who shall say 
from what gardens of Massachusetts and Connecticut, even as 
English foremothers, sailing for America's distant shore, brought 
with them seeds and roots of beloved posies from gardens they 
could never see again. 

Ruth Hall Dickson had died in 1865 at the age of 76 years. 
But she had lived to see her beloved grandson, by whom she 
was so reverently remembered, well started in the path which 
led him to heights of distinction as a leader in the thought of 
a nation and of the world. She saw him graduated with honors 
by Yale in 1853; become an attache to the American legation 
at St. Petersburg (Petrograd) ; professor of history at the Uni- 
versity of Michigan; a writer of articles for high-class publica- 
tions; State Senator at Albany. And her spirit may have vis- 
ualized the future that was to be his after she had passed from 
earth. 

No small part did she have in the formation of her grand- 
son's character. It was she who refused to allow the young 
boy in the streets after dark, even to the point of going forth 
herself to bring him in, and so taught law, order and restraint. 
Hers were the broad-minded faith and trust that enabled her 
to look up from the harsh Galvanism of the time to say, "There 

164 



Yester -Years of Guilford 

is, of course, some merciful way out of it all." So, Dr. Andrew 
Dickson White believed, through all the horror of the European 
war, that it would result in the establishment of an international 
peace tribunal of permanent working value. 

The visit to Guilford was made none too soon. In 1918, 
the following year, and one week before the signing of the 
Armistice, Dr. White died, leaving the world a better, happier, 
and richer place, because he had lived in it. 



165 




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