HISTORY OF NEW LONDON COUNTY, CONNECTICUT,
WITH BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF MANY OF ITS PIONEERS AND PROMINENT MEN.
COMPILED UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF D. HAMILTON HURD
J. W. LEWIS & CO., PHILADELPHIA, 1882
PRESS OF J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO., PHILADELPHIA
[transcribed by Janece Streig]
Geographical-Topographical-The Mohegans-The Indian Deed-The First Settlements-Survey of the Townships-Original Proprietors-Home-Lots-The Town Plot-Plan of the Ancient Settlement-Pioneer Schools-Early Births, Marriages, and Deaths-The First Mill-The First Chaise.
The town of Norwich lies north of the center of the county, and is bounded as follows: on the north by Sprague, on the east by Lisbon and Preston, on the south by Montville, and on the west by Bozrah and Franklin. The surface of the town is diversified by hills and valleys and the soil is strong and fertile.
Two hundred and forty years ago but a faint wave of civilization has broken upon the primeval forest of the territory now embraced within the bounds of the State of Connecticut. There was a plantation on the Sound at Fairfield, also a small settlement at Hartford and New Haven, but for the most part it was in the undisputed possession of the red man. At the time of the settlement of the English the possession of the eastern part of the State was held by the Mohegans, and the territory now embraced within the present bounds of Norwich, Franklin, Bozrah, Sprague, Lisbon, and a portion of Preston known as the Nine-mile Square, was claimed by Uncas, the Mohegan chief, and was distinguished by the name of Mohegan.
The jurisdiction of the Mohegan territory was ceded to the colonial authorities by Uncas, Sept. 28, 1640, the deed being witnessed by William THOMPSON, Thomas LEFFINGWELL, and Benjamin BREWSTER.
The Indian Deed.-The Indian deed of the town was executed June 6, 1659, and was as follows:
:Know all men that Onkos, Owaneco, Attawanhood, Indians of Mohegan, have Bargained, sold, and passed over, and doe by these presents sell and pass over unto the Towne and Inhabitants of Norwich nine miles square of land lying and being at Moheagan and the parts thereunto adjoyneing, with all ponds, rivers, woods, quarries, mines, with all royalties, privileges, and appurtenances thereunto belonging, to themthe said inhabitants of Norwich, theire heirs and successors forever-the said lands are to be bounded as followeth, (viz.) to the southward on the west side of the Great River, ye line is to begin at the brooke falling into the head of Trading Cove, and soe to run west norwest seven miles-fron thence the line to run nor north east nine miles, and on the East side the afores'd river to the southward the line is to joyne with New London bounds as soe from thence the line is to run nor noreast nine miles and from thence to run nor norwest nine miles to meet with the western line.-In consideration whereof the sd Onkos, Owaneco and Attawanhood doe acknowledge to have received of the parties aforesd the full and juste sum of seventy pounds and doe promise and egage ourselves, heirs and successors, to warrant the sd bargin and sale to the aforsd parties, their heirs and successors, and them to defend from all claims and molestations from any whatsoever.-In witness whereof we have hereunto set to our hands this 6th of June, Anno 1659.
"Unkos his marke
"This deed is recorded in the Country Booke Agust 20th 1663; as attests
"John ALLYN, Sec'y."
This tract was described in the proprietor's records as follows:
The line commenced at the mouth of Trading cove, where the brook falls into the cove; thence W. N. W. seven miles to a Great Pond (now in the corner of Bozrah and Colchester), the limit in this direction being denoted by a black oak marked N that stood near the outlet of the "Great Brook that runs out of the pond to Norwich river;" thence N. N. E. nine miles to a black oak standing on the south side of the river (Shteucket), "a little above Maw-mi-ag-waug;" thence S. S. E. nine miles, crossing the Shetucket and the Quinnebaug, and passing through "a Seader Swamp called Catantaquack," to a white-oak tree marked N, thirteen rods beyond a brook called Qui-qui-qua-soug, the space from the Quinnebaug to this tree being just one mile and fifty-eight rods; thence S. S. W. nine miles to a white oak marked N, near the dwelling-houses of Robert ALLYN and Thomas ROSE, where Norwich and New London bounds join; thence west on the New London bounds, crossing the southern part of Mr. BREWSTER's land, two miles to Mohegan River, opposite the mouth of Trading Cove Brook, where the first bounds began.
The Settlement of Norwich.- The settlement of Norwich was made by inhabitants of Saybrook, under the leadership of the celebrated Capt. John MASON, a man familiar with the Indian country, well known to Uncas, the Mohegan sachem, and of much influence in the colony. The petition to the General Court for permission to begin the settlement was made in May, 1659. The court answered the petitioners as follows:
"Hartford, May 20, (59). This Court having considered the petition presented by the inhabitants of Seabrook, doe declare yt they approve and consent to what is desired by ye petitioners, respecting Mohegin, provided yt within ye space of three yeares they doe effect a plantation in ye place propounded."
Survey of the Township.- The preliminary step having been taken, the next move was for a survey of the province, which was made in 1659, when the town plot was laid out, a highway opened, and the home-lots measured and assigned. A few of the settlers removed to the new plantation during the fall of 1659 and remained through the winter, but no goods were removed until the spring of the following year.
Original Proprietors-Home-Lots.-The statement has been made by various historians that the original proprietors numbered just thirty-five, but the painstaking and indefatigable Miss CAULKINS, in her "History of Norwich," after thorough research, says,--
"The following list comprises those against whom not only nothing is found to militate against their being ranked as first proprietors, but, on the contrary, the records either prove convulsively or favor the idea that they belonged to that class: Rev. James FITCH, Maj. John MASON, Thomas ADGATE, Robert ALLYN, William BACKUS, William BACKUS, Jr., John BALDWIN, John BIRCHARD, Thomas BLISS, Morgan BOWERS, Hugh CALKINS, John CALKINS, Richard EDGERTON, Francis GRISWOLD, Christopher HUNTINGTON, Simon HUNTINGTON, William HYDE, Samuel HYDE, Thomas LEFFINGWELL, John OLMSTEAD, John PEASE, John POST, Thomas POST, John REYNOLDS, Jonathan ROYCE, Nehemiah SMITH, Thomas TRACY, Robert WADE.
"Others having original home-lots and all the privileges of first proprietors were Thomas BINGHAM, John BRADFORD, John GAGER, Stephen GIFFORD, Richard HENDY, Thomas HOWARD, Thomas WATERMAN, John TRACY, Josiah REED, Richard WALLIS.
"Of this second class BINGHAM, GIFFORD, HOWARD, REED, TRACY, and WATERMAN were probably minors when the plantation commenced. They were all married between 1666 and 1670, inclusive, and were all living except HOWARD in 1702, when a roll of the inhabitants was made in reference to a division of lands which distinguished the surviving first proprietors from the list of accepted inhabitants. BINGHAM, GIFFORD, REED, TRACY, and WATERMAN were enrolled with the latter, which would seem to settle the point that they were not original proprietors.
"Most of these names, however, are necessary in order to make up the charmed number thirty-five. From the position these young men took and the prominence of their descendants in the history of the town they seem to have a higher claim to be ranked as proprietors than some of the earlier class,--HENDY and WALLIS, for instance, of whom we know little more than their names, and WADE, who soon alienated his possessions. By dropping these three names and accepting the six minors we are brought back to the time-honored prescriptive number thirty-five.
"Stephan BACKUS, another minor, became a proprietor in the right of his father, William BACKUS, who died soon after the settlement."
The Town PLOT.- "The town plot was laid out in a winding vale, which followed the course of the rapid, circuitous Yantic, and was sheltered for the greater part of the way on either side by abrupt and rocky but well-wooded hills. A broad street or highway was opened through this valley, on each side of which the home-lots were arranged.
"A pathway was likewise cleared from the centre of the settlement to the Indian landing-place below the falls of the Yantic, near the head of the Cove, following the old Indian trial from Ox Hill to Yantic ford. This path, called by the settlers Mill Lane, was the most eligible route by which the effects of the planters could be conveyed. In some places the forests had been thinned of their undergrowth by fires, to afford scope for the Indians in the passionate love of the chase, and the beaver had done his part towards clearing the lowlands and banks of the rivers. A few wigwams were scattered here and there, the occasional abodes of wandering families of Indians at certain seasons of the year, who came hither for supplies of fish, fruit, or game; and the summits of some of the hills were crowned with disorderly heaps of stones, showing where some rude defense had been constructed in the course of their wars. But in every other respect the land was in its natural wild state. It was a laborious task to cut down trees, to burn the underbrush, to mark out roads and pathways, to throw temporary bridges over the runs of water, and to collect the materials for building.
"The home-lots comprised each a block of several acres, and were in general river-lands, favorable for mowing, pasture, and tillage. Here lay the prime advantage to be gained by a change of residence, the first proprietors being, with scarcely a single exception, agriculturists and farmers.
"Each homestead had a tract of pasture-land included in it or laid out as near to it as was convenient. Where the street approached the river the planters had their pasture-lots, in the same line with the house-lots on the opposite side of the stream.
"The dwellings of Mr. FITCH and Maj. MASON were near together, facing the green, and with the river in their rear. The road running from the green to the river, and spanning the stream with a bridge, separated the two homesteads. The allotment of Mr. FITCH, consisting of eleven acres, was on the southeast side of the green; the home-lot of Mason, 'eight acres more or less,'-the early measurements were extremely liberal,--was on the southwest side.
"The first wife of Mr. FITCH died at Saybrook in September, 1659. He came to Norwich a widower with six children, two of them sons-five and eleven years of age-who became active business men, and appear in so short a time taking part in the affairs of the town it might be a pardonable inaccuracy were they ranked as original planters.
"Three acres of Mr. FITCH's home-lot he afterwards transferred to his son, Capt. James FITCH.
"On the northwest side of the green, covering the ledgy side hill, was the allotment of Stephen GIFFORD.
This was afterwards bought by the town for parsonage-land. On this hill, in the time of Philip's war, the meeting-house, the second sacred edifice of the town, stood.
"At the east end of the green was the homestead of Simon HUNTINGTON. His lot was laid out on both sides of the street, with a pleasant rivulet running through it and a land winding into the woods on one side, separating his land from that of his neighbor, BRADFORD.
"On the river, southeast of Mr. FITCH, was the lot of John OLMSTEAD, eight acres, and next to him that of William BACKUS, Sr., six acres. Mr. BACKUS died soon after the settlement, and left his accommodations to his son Stephen, in whose name they were subsequently registered.
"'Memoranda: the footeway six foote broad which goes through the home-lot of Mr. FITCH, John HOLMSTEAD, and Steven BACKUS was laid out by Towne order and agreement for the use of the towne in August, 1661.
"This path for more than a century remained a pent-way, with a gate and turnstile at each end, and when at last-that is, a little before the Revolutionary war-it was widened into a road and thrown open to the public it was dark with shrubbery and overhanging trees, and known as the road through the Grove.
"Thomas TRACY's home-lot of nine acres lay east of Simon HUNTINGTON's, on the south side of the street, which here runs nearly east and west.
"John BRADFORD, four acres, opposite TRACY, with the street and highways on all sides. 'Mr. John BRADFORD's corner' was quoted as a landmark. This was at the east end of his lot, where what was then called 'the road to Shetucket' began.
"Christopher HUNTINGTON, six acres, east of Thomas TRACY, with the brook between them.
"South of HUNTINGTON's corner was a ravine, with a pitch of several feet, through which in times of abundant rain another gurgling stream, formed by rivulets trickling down from Sentry Hill, passed into the alder swamp below. South of this ravine was the allotment of Thomas ADGATE, whose land met that of OLMSTEAD at the corner, completing the circle of home-lots around the central block.
"Opposite the homestead of ADGATE a branch of the town street ascended Sentry Hill, and came down again to the main road below the corner, in the line of the old Indian trail toward the ford of the Yantic.
"Upon this side road, near where it came into the Town Street, was the lot of Sergt. Thomas Leffingwell, twelve acres, with an additional pasture-lot of ten acres, with Indian wigwams then upon it, 'abutting easterly upon the rocks.' The house-lot was eighty-six rods in length upon the narrow highway.
"Sergt. LEFFINGWELL was peculiarly the soldier and guardsman of the new town, and Sentry Hill was the lookout post, commanding the customary Indian route from Narragansett to Mohegan. A sentry-box was built on the summit, and in times of danger and excitement a constant watch was kept from the height. Here, too, in the war with Philip a small guard-house was built, sufficient for some ten or twelve soldiers to be housed. It has of late been called Centre Hill, an unconscious change from Sentry that has probably obtained currency from the supposition that the name referred to its position among other elevations in this multitude of hills. Nor is the name at present inapplicable, this being not far from the centre of the modern township, though by no means central in reference to the original nine miles square.
"North of Leffingwell, and stretching towards Ox Hill, grants were laid out to Richard HENDLY, Josiah REED, and Richard WALLIS, with the commons for their principal boundaries.
"Next to Leffingwell, on the street as it runs south, was the allotment of Thomas BLISS, five acres and a fourth, with a lane on the south leading to a watering-place at the river.
"John REYNOLDS, southeast of Thomas BLISS, six acres.
"Here was the eastern frontier of the town plot. A dense and miry thicket lay between the mill-lane and the upland plain below.
"Returning to the green which divided the settlement into East and West Ends, the proprietors were arranged along the street and river, wets of Maj. MASON, the in the following order:
"Thomas WATERMAN, seven acres.
"Thomas BINGHAM, four acres.
"John POST, six acres.
"John BIRCHARD, seven and one-fourth acres; sixteen rods and eleven feet in front. Mr. BIRCHARD's house, according to tradition, was fortified in the time of Philip's war, and a garrison kept in it, who made port-holes under the roof, through which to fire if they should be attacked.
"Robert WADE, six acres; sixteen rods front. This lot was sold in 1677 to Caleb ABELL, and better known as the ABELL homestead.
"Adjoining WADE, but with boundaries and situation uncertain, was the lot of Morgan BOWERS.
Opposite POST and BIRCHARD, on the northeast side of the street, were the allotments of William HYDE and his son Samuel, extending back into the commons. The HYDE house stood a few rods back from the town street, upon the 'highway into the woods,' as the lane was then called.
"Next west of Robert WADE, on the river side of the street, was the home-lot of John GAGER, eleven and a half acres.
"Thomas POST, adjoining GAGER, on the upland, six acres; 'a burying-place excepted that lyeth within his lot, and also a way to it.'
"On the other side of the street were the locations of Nehemiah SMITH and Thomas HOWARD.
"Beyond Thomas POST on the northwest, with lots reaching from the town street to the river, were the following proprietors in regular succession:
"Richard Edgerton, six acres; William BACKUS, six; Hugh CALKINS, six; John CALKINS, four and three-fourths; Francis GRISWOLD, seven; Robert ALLYN, five; Jonathan ROYCE, six; John BALDWIN, Five; John TRACY, twelve; John PEASE, seven, with the river on the northwest, west, and south.
"This was at the western limit of the town plot, where the river by a sudden turn to the southwest crossed the street at right angles.
"These thirty-eight lots were the first laid out, and though not all in 1659, and some perhaps not till several years later, those who held them, whether immediate possessors or not, were commonly reckoned original proprietors.
"After the first thirty-eight proprietors, the next inhabitants who come in as grantees of the town are John ELDERKIN and Samuel LATHROP. ELDERKIN had two home-lots granted him in remuneration of services. The first grant of 1667 was laid out in the town plot, but being at too great a distance from his business, it was conveyed, with consent of the townsmen, to Samuel LATHROP, 24th August, 1668. Another was given him at the old landing-place below the Falls, where, according to contract, he built a grist-mill for the convenience of the town.
"The Lathrop house-lot comprised six acres, and had a street, highway, or lane on every side of it. Probably it lay on the side-hill opposite ADGATE's. The early intermarriages in the families of LATHROP, LEFFINGWELL, ADGATE, and BUSHNELL, leading them to divide house-lots and settle in continuous homes, make it difficult to determine the precise situation of each original grant. We can be confident only that these families had their first dwellings near together at the east end of the town plot.
"The first Samuel LATHROP appears to have erected a house on the town street before 1670.
"Samuel LATHROP, Jr., in 1679 had a piece of land given him by the town to build upon 'near his father's home-lot,' upon which he is supposed to have built the house that subsequently belonged to Col. Simon LATHROP, and still later to Rufus Lathrop HUNTINGTON. A noted pine-tree, originally of great size and height, stood near and pointed out the site even after the house was demolished.
"The next householders after these were the older sons of proprietors, of whom the most distinguished were John and Daniel MASON, sons of the major, Capt. James FITCH, and Richard and Joseph BUSHNELL, sons of Mrs. ADGATE. These are all ranked as first-comers, taking part in the affairs of the first generation.
"Richard BUSHNELL's residence stood conspicuously upon the side-hill. Courts of larger or lesser significance and meetings of various kinds were held there. One of the Courts of Commission appointed by royal authority to settle the Mohegan controversy is said to have held its sessions in the great square room of the BUSHNELL house.
"A careful examination of the grants and proprietary records show that in 1672 land had been recorded to only seven-seven persons within the town limits.
"In April, 1661, the first division land was laid out (this included the Little Plain); in 1663 the second division land, which lay towards Lebanon; and in 1668 the third, upon Quinnebaug River. After a few years almost every citizen owned land in eight or ten different parcels. For the first eighty or one hundred years very few of the homesteads seem to have been alienated. They passed from one occupant to another by quiet inheritance, and in many cases were split in to two or three portions among the sons who settled down by the side of their fathers.
"There was a peculiarity in the foundation of Norwich that distinguishes it from most other settlements in this part of the country. It did not begin in a random, fragmentary way, receiving accessions from this quarter and that till it gradually grew into a compact form and stable condition, but came upon the ground a town and a church. The inhabitants were not of a body of adventurers fortuitously thrown together, but an association, carrying their laws as well as their liberties with them, each member bound to consult the general good as well as his own individual advantage. Steady habits, patient endurance, manly toil, and serene intelligence settled with them, inspiring and efficient through quiet housemates. In the early days of the township the inhabitants labored hard, but every man helped his neighbor. Trespasses were rate; a grand decorum of manners prevailed; sympathy, kindly counsel, and friendly assistance softened the rigors of the wilderness, and the hearts of all were strengthened with the constant cheer of gospel promises. All the enactments and proceedings of these fathers of the town, all that we can gather concerning them from records or tradition, exhibits a well-organized community,--a people, bold, earnest, thoughtful, with a ring of the true metal in their transactions.
"The whole course of history furnishes no fairer model of a Christian settlement."
Indian Forts.- If any dependence can be placed on names and traditions, the Indians had at least three rude forts within the present bounds of Norwich. One at the Landing on the brow of the hill, which on this account was called at the first settlement Fort Hill. This was probably the citadel of Waweequaw, the brother of Uncas. Another upon Little Fort Hill, between the Landing and Trading Cove, belonging to Uncas himself. And a third, more ancient than either of these, on the southwestern side of the Yantic, below the junction of Hammer Brook. This stood upon a rugged platform of rock, surrounded and overshadowed with woods. It was a barren and secluded spot; but the tradition has been current, particularly among the HYDEs and POSTs, who first owned the spot, that here was an wall, inclosing an area upon the brow of the hill, and must have been designated only as a hiding-place to which to retreat in times of invasion. The stones had been broken by the Indian builders into portable size, and about the year 1790, were removed and used in the building of a cellar and for other purposes by the owner of the land.
In 1685 a patent was obtained which confirmed to the town the original tract of nine miles square, to be an entire township, "according to the tenor of East Greenwich, in Kent, in free and common soccage, and not in capite, nor by Knight's service." A copy of this patent is herewith given:
Patent of the Town of Norwich, A.D. 1685.
Whereas the General court of Connecticut have forever granted unto the proprietors and Inhabitants of the Towne of Norwich all those lands, both meadows and uplands, within these abutments (viz.), from the mouth of Tradeing-cove Brooke, the line to run as the Brooke to the head of the Brooke, to a white oake marked N: and from thence west northwesterly to a great pond, to a black oake marked N: which stands neere the mouth of the great Brooke that runs out of the pond to Norwich River, which is about seven miles from the said Tradeeing cove; and from thence the line runs North noreast nine miles to a Black oake standing by the river side, on the south of it, a little above maumeagway, and from thence the line runs south southeasterly nine miles to a white oake standing by a brooke marked N: and then the line runs south southwesterly nine miles to a white okae neere Robert ALLYN and Thomas ROSE's Dwelling-houses, which tree is marked N: and from thence westerly as New London Bounds runs to Mohegan river, the whole being nine miles square, the said land having been by purchase or otherwise lawfully obtained of the Indian natives proprietors.-And whereas the said Inhabitants and proprietors of the s'd Norwich in the Colony of Connecticutt have made application to the Governo'r and Company of the s'd Colony of Connecticut, assembled in Court May 25th, 1685, that they may have a patent for the confirmation of the afore'sd land, so purchased and granted to them as aforesaid, and which they have stood seized, and quietly possessed of for many years late past without interruption. Now for a more full confirmation of the aforesd unto the present proprietors of the s'd Towneship of Norwich in their possession and injoyment of the premises, know yee that the 'sd Governour and Company, assembled in Generall court according to the Commission Granted to them by his magestie's charter, have given and granted, and by these presents do give, grant, Ratifie, and confirme unto Mr. James FITCH, sen'r, Capt. James FITCH, Mr. Benjamine BREWSTER, Lieut. Thomas TRACY, Lieut. Tho. LEFFINGWELL, Mr. Christopher HUNTINGTON, Mr. Simon HUNTINGTON, Ensign William BACKUS, Mr. Thomas WATERMAN, Mr. John BURCHARD and Mr. JOHN POST, and the rest of the said present proprietors of the township of Norwich, their heirs, successors, and assigns forever; the aforesaid parcell of land, as it is Butted and Bounded, together with all the woods, meadows, pastures, ponds, waters, rivers, islands, fishings, huntings, fowleings, mines, mineralls, quarries, and precious stones, upon or within the said tract of land, and all other proffitts and comodities thereunto belonging, or in any wayes appertaining; and Doe also grant unto the aforesd Mr. James FITCH, sen'r, Capt. James FITCH, Mr. Benjamin BREWSTER, Lieut. Thomas TRACY, Lieut. Thos. LEFFINGWELL, Mr. Christopher HUNTINGTON, Mr. Simon HUNTINGTON, Ensign Wm. BACKUS, Mr. Thomas WATERMAN, Mr. John BURCHARD, and Mr. John POST, and the rest of the proprietors, Inhabitants of Norwich, their heirs, successors, and assigns forever, that the fores'd tract of land shall be forever hereafter deemed, reputed, and be an intire towneship of itself-to have and to hold the said tract of land and premises, with all and singular their appurtenances, together with the priviledges and immunities and franchises herein given and granted unto the say'd Mr. James FITCH, sen'r, Capt. James FITCH, Mr. Benjamine BREWSTER, Lieut. Thomas TRACY, Lieut. Thomas LEFFINGWELL, Mr. Christopher HUNTINGTON, Mr. Simon HUNTINGTON, Ensign Wm. BACKUS, Mr. Thomas WATERMAN, Mr. John BIRCHARD, and Mr. John POST, and other the present proprietors, Inhabitants of Norwich, theire heirs, successors, and assignes for ever, and to the only proper use and behoofe of the sayd Mr. James FITCH, sen'r, Capt. James FITCH, Mr. Benjamine BREWSTER, Lieut. Thomas TRACY, Lieut. Thomas LEFFINGWELL, Mr. Christopher HUNTINGTON, Mr. Simon HUNTINGTON, Ensign William BACKUS, Mr. Thomas WATERMAN, Mr. John BIRCHARD, and Mr. John POST, and other proprietors, inhabitants of Norwich, their heirs successors, and assigns for ever, according to the tenor of East Greenwich in Kent, in free and common soccage, and not in capitte, nor by Knite's service, they to make improvement of the same as they are capable, according to Charter. In witness whereof, we have caused the Seale of the Colony to be hereunto affixed this twenty-first of May, 1685, in the first years of the reigne of our sovereigne lord James the Second, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the faith.
Robert TREAT, Governor.
March 30th, 1687, per order of Gov'r and Company of the Colony of Connecticutt.
Singed pr John ALLEN, Secrety.
Entered in the pub. Records, Lib. D: of. 138, 139 Nov'r 27th, 1685: pr John ALLYN, Secrety.
Schools.- The first reference in the old town records to schools is in 1677, when John BIRCHARD was chosen to keep school nine months of the year for £25, provision pay.
March 31, 1679,--
:It is agreed and voated by the town that Mr. Danill MASON shall be improved as the school-master for the towne for nine months in the yeare ensuing, and to allow him twenty-five pounds to be payed partly by the children, . . . and each child that is entered for the full time to pay nine shillings and other children that come occasionally to allow three pence the week; the rest to be payed by the Towne."
July 28, 1680, a special meeting was called to deliberate respecting the establishment of a town school, and the whole matter committed to the charge of the selectmen, with injunctions that they should see,--
"1st, that parents send their children; 2d, that they pay their proportion, according to what is judged just; 3d, that they take care parents be not oppressed, espeshally such who are disabled; 4th, that whatever is additionally necessary for the perfecting the maintenance of a school-master, is a charge and expense belonging to all the inhabitants of the town, and to be gathered as any other rates; 5th, whatever else is necessary to a prudent carrying through this occasion, is committed to the discreshon of ye s'd select men."
"Public works in those days were slow in progress, more fro the want of hands to labor than from deficiency of skill or the absence of enterprise. A school-house for which appropriations had been made in 1680 was finally built in 1683 by John HOUGH and Samuel ROBERTS. These men were both from New London, but found employment in Norwich as house-builders, and about this period became residents of the town.
"1680, July 21.-Mr. ARNOLD accepts as an inhabitant: the Selectmen to provide him with 4 or 5 acres of land as convenient as may be.
"Mr. John ARNOLD was a schoolmaster and probably exercised his calling for several years in Norwich, although the records do not advert to him in that capacity. An allusion occurs to 'Mr. John ARNOLD, merchant,' who was doubtless the same person, as a variety of occupations, in a small way, were often pursued by one man in those days.
"Mr. ARNOLD afterwards removed to Windham, where his name is found on the list of the first twenty-two inhabitants, May, 1693. He settled in that part of the town which is now Mansfield, and the records of the place show that he had been a master of a school in several different towns, and had children born at Newark, Killingworth, Norwich, and Windham.
"Schools in our early settlements were only kept a certain part of the year, varying from two to eight or nine months. In 1690 the selectmen were directed to provide a schoolmaster, the scholars to pay 4d. a week, and the remainder of the salary raised on the list. No further notice is taken of schools, town-wise, until 1697, when Richard BUSHNELL is appointed to keep the school for two months that year, and to be paid in land.
"In 1698, David HARTSHORN was engaged for the same time. Here it is probable that the town school died out.
"In the year 1700 a startling fact appears in the indictments of the grand jury of the county: 'Norwich presented for want of a school to instruct children.' "That measures were immediately taken to remedy this deficiency, we may infer from the fact that £6 was added to the next year's rate for repairing the school-house, and about the same time a tract of land was granted to David KNIGHT in payment for work upon the meeting-house and school-house.
"It may not be true of all New England, but in some portions of it, for a considerable period after the first generation had passed away, education was neglected; the schools ere of an inferior grade, and very grudgingly and irregularly sustained. This was probably owing to the paucity of good teachers and the superfluous activity of the people, which led them to break away impatiently from sedentary pursuits. But the inevitable consequence was that the grandchildren of the first settlers were more illiterate than either the generation before or after them.
"April 26, 1709, the town passed a resolution 'that they will have a schoolmaster, according to law.' This emphatic determination seems to imply an antecedent neglect. Richard BUSHNELL was again employed for a short period.
"Jan. 26, 1712. In town-meeting, Lieut. Joseph BACKUS, moderator:
"'It was voted that a good and sufficient schoolmaster be appointed to keep school the whole year and from year to year; one-half of the time in the Town Plot and the other half at the farms in several quarters.' "At this period 40s. on the list of every thousand pounds was granted by the country,--that is, by the General Court, for the benefit of schools, and each town was by law obliged to maintain a school for a certain part of the year.
"Schools were maintained by what was called a country rate of forty shillings upon the thousand pounds, and all deficiencies made up by parents and guardians. The schools were distributed over the town, and kept a longer or shorter period, according to the list of each society. In 1745 the appointment was as follows:
School at the Landing Place to be kept 3 months and 17 days.
two in the Town Plot, one at each end 5 ½ months each.
at Plain Hills 2 months 19 days.
Waweekus Hill 1 16 days.
Great Plain 2 18 days.
Wequanuk 2 15 days.
on Windham road 2 11 days.
"If any of these schools should be kept by a woman the time was to be doubled, as the pay of the mistress was but half that to the master."
A school was continued here during the Revolution, and was described as furnishing instruction to "young gentlemen and ladies, lads and misses, in every branch of literature, viz., reading, writing, arithmetic, the learned languages, logic, geography, mathematics," etc. Charles WHITE, teacher.
In 1799 a Mrs. BROOKS opened a girls' school on Little Plain, but it was of short duration.
In 1782 an academical association was formed in the western part of the town-plot, and a school opened, which continued about thirty years.
Dr. Daniel LATHROP, upon his death, left a legacy of £500 for the support of a free grammar school, which was opened in 1787, with Ebenezer PUNDERSON as a teacher. It was in operation about half a century.
In 1800, William WOODBRIDGE commenced school in Little Plain, but it lived but a few year. Among other schools which have flourished for longer or shorter periods in Norwich were the Select School, at the town plot; a preparatory school at the Landing, in 1797; the Chelsea Grammar School, organized in 1806; the Norwich Female Academy, incorporated in 1828.
Early Births, Marriages, and Deaths.- The first birth in the plantation was that of Elizabeth HYDE, in August, 1660. She was the daughter of Samuel HYDE and Jane LEE. The second child born was Anne, daughter of Thomas BLISS. The first male child born was Christopher, son of Christopher and Ruth HUNTINGTON, Nov. 1, 1660.
The following births occurred during the first five years of settlement:
1661.-Sarah, dr. of John BIRCHARD; Deborah, dr. of Francis GRISWOLD; both born in May. Sarah BIRCHARD died young. Deborah GRISWOLD married Jonathan CRANE.
John, son of John CALKINS, born in July.
Abigail, dr. of Thomas ADGATE, in August.
Joseph, son of Simon HUNTINGTON, in September.
1662.-Elizabeth, dr. of Jonathan ROYCE, in January.
John, son of William BACKUS, February 9.
John, Son of Richard EDGERTON, June 12.
Thomas, son of John BALDWIN; no record of his birth found, but his age shows that he was born this year.
1663.-Rebecca, dr. of Thomas BLISS, in March. Lydia, dr. of John GAGER, In August. She married Simon HUNTINGTON, who was born at Saybrook in 1659. Samuel, son of John CALKINS, in October. John, Son of Jonathan ROYCE, in November.
1664.-Sarah, dr. of Thomas ADGATE, in January. Elizabeth, daughter of Simon HUNTINGTON, in February, and died in infancy. Mary, dr. of John REYNOLDS, in April. She married John EDGERTON, above named (born 1662). Abigail, dr. of John POST, November 6. Thomas, son of Thomas POST, in December.
1665.-Thomas, son of Christopher HUNTINGTON, March 18.
Samuel, son of William BACKUS, May 2; died young.
James, son of John BIRCHARD, July 16.
Daniel, son of Rev. James FITCH, in August.
Samuel, son of Francis GRISWOLD, in September.
Sarah, dr. of Jonathan ROYCE, in October.
The first death was that of Sarah, wife of Thomas POST, in March, 1661, and William BACKUS, June 12, of the same year.
The first marriage was that of the widowed minister, Rev. James FITCH, to Priscilla MASON, in October, 1664.
The First Mill.- One of the greatest inconveniences met by the early settlers was the want of mills for grinding corn, and this matter was usually given the early attention of the town.
The earliest vote concerning a mill was under date Dec. 11, 1660, which is the renewal of a contract states to have been made at Saybrook, Feb. 26, 1655 [probably should be 1659-60], between John ELDERKIN on the one hand, and "the town of Moheagan" on the other, to erect a corn-mill, either by the home-lot of John PEASE [at Yantic, western extremity of the town plot], or at No-man's Acre, to be completed before Nov. 1, 1661, under penalty of forfeiting twenty dollars. The toll allowed was to be 1/16, and a tract of land was pledged as a compensation for the erection of the mill.
Elderkin's mill, erected first at No-man's Acre, was soon removed to a situation below the falls, and new grants and privileges were bestowed upon the proprietor, that it might be well sustained. Here for a long course of years stood the mill and the miller's house. This had formerly been a noted landing-place of the Indians. A fine spring of pure water gushed copiously from the side-hill near by, which was literally a perpetual fountain of sweet water, with no record or tradition of its having failed but once, and that was in the great drought of 1676.
The Mill Falls, Elderkin's Mill, "the valley near the mill in which the spring is," "the deep valley that goeth down to Goodman ELDERKIN's house," and "the island before his house at the Mills Falls," are all referred to in the early records.
The First Chaise.- The first chaise in town was owned by Samuel BROWN, who was fined for riding in it to meeting. Col. Simon LATHROP owned a chaise about this time, but the use of it was excused on his part in consequence of the frailty of his wife.
During the Revolutionary period there were six chaises in town, as follows: Gen. Jedediah HUNTINGTON owned the first one that was furnished with a top that could be thrown back. It was large, low, square-bodied, and studded with brass nails with square and flat heads. Gen. Hezekiah HUNTINGTON was the owner of one. Dr. Daniel LATHROP's chaise had a yellow body, with a red morocco top, and was furnished with a window on one side. This was considered a splendid establishment. Other owners of chaises were Dr. Theophilus RODGER, Elijah BACKUS, and Nathaniel BACKUS.