The Town of Chatham
[Middlesex Co., CT]
Israel Foote Loomis
The Connecticut Magazine
Vol V., June 1899, No 6, p. 303 - 319
Vol V., August 1899, No. ?, p. 370 - 381
[Data courtesy of Ray Brown]
Part 1 - East Hampton
The town of Chatham is the northeast town of Middlesex County. To the north is Glastonbury in Hartford County, ton the east Marlborough in the same, and Colchester in New London County; on the south East Haddam and Haddam; on the west Portland and Middletown, being separated from the latter in the short boundary between them by the Connecticut River.
Chatham was originally a part of Middletown, and at the time of its incorporation, by the General Assembly, in 1767, it included in its bounds all of what had been previously known under the names of the parishes of East Middletown, most of the parish of Middle Haddam, all of East Hampton parish, and a part of the parish of Westchester. The parish of East Middletown was set off from Chatham as a separate town in 1842, comprising the present town of Portland. By referring to the topographical atlas issued by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, it will be noticed that the surface of this town is very uneven, and in its northern part the hills assume the proportions of small mountains, with an altitude of nearly 800 feet above the sea level, Meshomasic Mountain, and Great Hill, Clark's Hill, Bald Hill, Chestnut Hill, and Bakers Hill being the most prominent. Of the lesser may be mentioned Miller's, Bishop's and Barton Hills. Nestling between, and occupying partially the latter three, lies the busy, thrifty belltown, known all over the world as East Hampton, where are now made about every pattern of bells which Yankee ingenuity has been able to devise a pattern for, besides an endless variety of toys. In the south-west part of the town, abutting on the Connecticut River, is the equally interesting and picturesque village of Middle Haddam, which was formerly a prominent point for building every kind of wooden sailing craft, ships, steamboats, brigs, schooners, sloops and barges and all of smaller size.
The soil of the town is not generally very productive, but outside of the respective industries of the above named centers of trade, the business is agriculture.
The name of East Hampton is said to have been selected for it by some of it's first settlers who had previously lived in Eastham, Mass. The first settlers were attracted there by the fine mill site, or water privilege, at the outlet of Lake Pocotopaug, where a forge had been erected in 1743. Of the beautiful Lake Pocotopaug I shall say but little. It equals in itself, and its surrounding, any of the fine lakes of Litchfield County, as Waramaug in Washington, and Twin Lakes in Salisbury, or Highland Lake in Winsted; and I put in the modest claim for it, that it is not surpassed by any lake in New England for clearness of its waters and the beauty of its scenery. It is about nine miles in circumference, averaging about ten feet in depth, has two most charming islands, and is fed by springs entirely. Rain storms have very little effect in changing its depth. There is evidence that the land and its islands were favorite places of resort for the native Indians, probably of the Mattabessett tribe. It has always been a favorite resort for fishing. There is a legend connected with the lake which passed from the aborigines to the white settlers hereabout, and handed down from generation to generation, to the effect that a beautiful Indian maiden sacrificed herself here by direction of the Great Spirit, on the promise to her that no persons should ever be drowned in its waters.
Two hotels here, one the Pocotopaug House, kept for yeas by the late William Glover BUELL, now kept by his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Caroline B. BUELL, the other, the Lakeview House is finally situated near the shore of the lake. This hotel for thirteen seasons has been one of the factors in drawing summer visitors to East Hampton. It was formerly conducted by Capt. D.D. BROWN and is now under the management of Frank M. WELLER. Easily accessible, close enough tot he activities of life for convenience, and yet far enough away to afford absolute rest and quiet, the Lake View House presents many attractions. It is a mile from the station on a road leading north from the village and is nestled close beside the water at the foot of the hills which form its western barrier. Eighty feet of lawn connects the broad veranda of the house with the water's edge where a cozy pavilion furnishes a breezy lounging place and a convenient landing for boats. The water supply is of remarkable purity, a wind engine supplying each floor with pure water from the lake. Within 200 feet of the house is a smooth, shelving beach which offers and ideal place for still water bathing. The lake furnishes endless entertainment. Save row boats are furnished in abundance for the free use of guests of the house. Fishing is a favorite pastime, the lake being well stocked with black bass, pickerel and perch.
At the time of the erection of the forge, iron was very much needed by the inhabitants of the surrounding country, and very soon was needed in ship building at Middle Haddam, which was carried on so extensively as to cause the town to be named Chatham, after the town in England which was noted for the same industry. How much business was done at this forge would be impossible to tell accurately, but for those days, in the fifty years of its existence, it must have been very great. The property was owned by a number of persons and companies, and for a time was held by Abijah HALL, and passed to his son Abijah, Jr., who operated it until the war of 1812, when it was given up. Ore was brought to this forge from West Point on the Hudson River, and from this iron was made for use in ship building.
The best iron was made from the pig iron bought in New York, and form Salisbury, Conn., for general purposes, and for this the Salisbury iron was preferred. In 1825 a new forge was built on the site of the old one, and in connection with it a scythe factory, and at these business was done for several years. Near the site of these, since erected, was a shop in 1850 in which BUELL & VEAZEY made bells. Next below, established in 1832, is the BEVIN Brothers Mfg. Co., who have one of the largest plants on the stream. Next to them is the Summit Thread Co., which had previously been occupied by Butler N. STRONG. Their site was once the Eureka Silk Co. which flourished for a while. This site was formerly occupied by BUELL & SEARS' saw mill on the east side and on the west side they had a batting and carding mill. The business of the Summit Thread Co. was established April 1, 1880. It's present officers are, Decevare KING, President, T. KING, Treasurer, Ernest G. CONE, Assistant Treasurer and Manager. These gentlemen also constitute the board of directors. The products of the company are machine silk and spool cotton, the latter being the leading feature of the business, having as an extended sale in the various lines of manufacturers requiring the use of thread. The next plant is that of STARR Brothers, bell makers, and also connected with it the facture of nets by machinery. This plant had been previously occupied by VENZEY & WHITE, the firm consisting of the late Hiram VEAZEY and A.B. WHITE, now of West Hartford. The previous occupants and builders were J.S. HALL & Co. The business was established in 1840, The STARR Bros. Bell Co., succeeding to the VEAZEY & WHITE Co. in 1882. Four of the STARR Brothers are interested in this business, Geo. M., J.M., W.F., and V.B. STARR. The Company manufactures all sizes and kinds of door gongs, house bells, sleigh bells, and bicycle bells of all varieties. The goods are sold in every state in the Union, and many are exported to England and Germany. The above named gentlemen and Henry S. STARR comprise the Starr Net and Twine Co., which was organized in 1886, by the latter. The company manufactures all kinds of fish nettings suitable for lake and river seineing. The entire output of this company finds a ready market each year. The next plant is that of the Gong Bell Co., and the East Hampton Bell Co. who use the same power. The next plant is D.W. WATROUS & Co. Here previously, Noah S. MARKHAM, a native of this tow, made cast steel hoes, with a steel shank. They received a silver medal for these concave hoes at the fair of the American Institute. The writer well remembers when these came into use. They were so high in price that farmers did not have more than one, and himself, like many another boy of those days, had to keep on using the old fashioned ones, with an eye and a handle wedged on, while the hired man, or the father used the "concave".
The next plant, one of the best appointed on the stream, is the N.N. HILL Brass Company which makes bells and toys by the millions. This was the former site of NILES, PARMALEE & Co's shop. The N.N. HILL Brass Co., was formed in January 1889, by N.N. HILL. The average number of hands employed is 125. The bells made by them cannot be excelled for general excellence of workmanship and clearness and resonance of tone, the greatest care being exercised in all departments of their manufacture. A water power about 1,600 feet below the factory generates the electricity by which it is operated and lighted. On the site of this power house previously, BARTON & CLARK had a bell shop. Of this firm, now living, is Mr. Orlando CLARK of Cote St. Paul, Montreal, who engaged in the same business there. Mr. BARTON was the grandson of William BARTON of whom we will speak later. Below this is SKINNER's Mills, where that family founded a little settlement and carried on business in preparing lumber for the ship yards of Middle Haddam. All the above named factories are within less than two miles of the only outlet of Lake Pocotopaug, which is mentioned in Connecticut Land Records, Vol. I, p. 456, as Niuppaquashneag Brook. This word, says M.L. ROBERTS, the historian of this section, is a corruption of Wunni-appoquasinne-awke, and means "a good flag place" or "place to get flag," to make mats etc. The name of the lake, which like the above name of its outlet is also of Indian Origin, and says the late J. Hammond TRUMBULL of Hartford, the recognized authority in the United States for Indian names and traditions, means "a divided pond." The bond has the appearance from the heights of Baker's Hill of being two bonds, united by a short strait. Modern usage calls the name of its outlet Pine Brook, upon which below the above-named sites are, or have been, quite a number of factories. Among these were a satinet factory operated by Justin SEXTON and Sons, Pine Brook factory, ABEL's Saw Mill, WEST's Saw Mill and H.B. BROWN & Co. Further down the stream, but outside the bounds of Chatham, near the mouth of pine brook was once an Oakum factory and HOUSE Brothers now have a paper mill. These constitute all the industries which are carried on power derived from the waters of Lake Pocotopaug, as it flows from this great, pure, natural reservoir.
For many years nearly all the sleigh bells in use in the United States and the Dominion of Canada were made in East Hampton and Middle Haddam. They also made house bells, hand bells, tea bells, cow bells, and sheep bells for the whole country, and to-day are making their fair share of the bicycle bells which are used in such enormous quantities all over the civilized world. The manufacturing enterprise of this place and its general prosperity are traceable to no one man more than to William BARTON, a very much respected citizen who was born in Wintonbury, a society in Windsor, now the town of Bloomfield, Nov. 26, 1762. He worked with his father whose name was William BARTON, Sr. He was an armorer at Springfield during the Revolutionary War. At the close of the war he returned to Wintonbury and made pistols and other fire arms, until 1790, when he went to New York and engaged in the making of andirons and other brass goods. He came to East Hampton in 1808 and commenced the making of hand bells and sleigh bells. Others learned the trade with him, and afterwards engaged in the same business. The first bell that he made , and so the first bell that was made in East Hampton, was deposited with other relics in a box under the corner stone of the present Congregational Church in East Hampton, when it was laid in 1852. The largest bell ever made in this place was cast in the foundry now owned by the STARR Brothers, which was at that time owned by VEAZEY & WHITE. This bell is now in the belfry of the Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford. It is one of the strongest in tone of the bells in Hartford.
Mr. BARTON was a very liberal minded man, and was happiest when benefiting others. From this small beginning of his, when he made bells by hand, has arisen the various foundries and shops which make the thrifty busy place of today. After living some twenty years at Cicero, N.Y., Mr. BARTON returned to spend the remainder of his days with his children and friends in East Hampton, where he died July 15, 1849, universally respected and lamented.
East Hampton was settled more rapidly than any other part of Middletown, east of the Connecticut River. There was a large increase of inhabitants soon after the erection of the forge at the outlet of the lake about 1743. The names of the inhabitants and the amount of their list, as stated in the Colony Record for that year, were as follows: Azariah ANDREWS, £30; Jonathan BAILEY, 48.16; David BAILEY, 27; William BEVIN, 20; John BEVIN, Jr., 34.06; John BOSWORTH, 18; Jabez CLARK, 39; Ebenezar CLARK, 42.18; John CLARK, 143.10; Josiah COOK, 32.06; Samuel EGGLESTON, 30; Stephen GRIFFITH, 47; W. HARDING, 27; Daniel HILLS, 31; George HUBBARD, 33; James JOHNSON, 86; William JOHNSON, 9; Seth KNOWLES, 58.10; John MARKUM, 21; William NORCUT & Son, 61; Joseph PARKER, 100.16; Hezekiah RUSS, 30; Isaac SMITH, 26; John STEVENS, 26; Samuel WADSWORTH, 40; Isaac WILLIAMS, 18; Daniel YOUNG, 22 -- Total. £1,100.06. On the petition of the above-named for society privileges, the same was granted and the parish of East Hampton was incorporated at the May session of the General Assembly, 1746. The church was organized, that is the Presbyterian, or what is now the Congregational body, Nov. 30, 1743. On this date Rev. John NORTON, a native of Berlin, a graduate of Yale College, 1737, was set over the same and installed as pastor. He had been settled before this, over a church in Falltown, Mass. The latter place is now called Bernardston.
In 1745, when the old French and Indian War was on, and disturbing the people, he resigned his pastorate and went as chaplain, being stationed at Fort Massachusetts, at Adams, Mass., and was there when it was attacked Aug 20, 1746, by nearly one thousand French and Indians under General DE VAUDRUIL. Col. HAWKS, Commandant of the Fort, had only twenty-two effective men, and all told, men, women and children, thirty-three persons. After twenty-eight hours' resistance and having used all their ammunition, they were obliged to capitulate. One special article of the agreement was that none of the prisoners should be delivered into the hands of the Indians. The next day the French general violated his word on this point on the plea that he was afraid of mutiny in his command, as the Indians were irritated because they were cut off from the spoils and profits of the conquest. The garrison lost but one man in action and killed outright forty-five of the enemy. Mr. NORTON wrote an account of his captivity which was about the time of the massacre at Deerfield, Mass. He says in this record "When the prisoners were marched as far as Crown Point, on the way to Quebec, a party of Indians who went off from Adams with a view of attacking Deerfield, returned with six scalps of white men and one captive." Sickness broke out among the prisoners. Mr. NORTON was often sick. Fifteen belonging to the company of prisoners died, and on the 27th of Aug., 1747, the rest were exchanged, and under a flag of truce set sail from Quebec and arrived in Boston, Sept. 16th. In 1755, when the second French war was going on, he was pastor in East Hampton. He went a chaplain again to act in the expedition against Crown Point, and the members of the Hartford South Association, to which this church belonged, agreed to supply his pulpit from October that year to February, 1756. He died of small pox, March 24, 1778, aged 62 years.
Other ministers of this church have been Revs. Lemuel PARSONS, Joel WEST, Timothy STONE, Samuel J. CURTIS, Rufus SMITH, William RUSSEL, Luman H. PEASE, Henry A. RUSSEL, George W. ANDREWS, Joel S. IVES, Edward P. ROOT, C.W. COLLIER, and the present incumbent, Rev. William SLADE. In November, 1798, this church celebrated the Sesqui-Centennial anniversary of its organization.
The Methodist church organization, says Roberts, the historian, dated back to 1817 when Rev. Joel W. McKEE, one of the preachers on the New London circuit, commenced preaching in private houses and continued to do so until 1818. They built a house of worship in 1830 on Miller's Hill, which is now demolished. Again they built a house which was dedicated April 10, 1851. This was down in the village. At the present time this church is in prosperous condition, having a fine house of worship and a large attendance.
The Catholic church, St. Patrick's, in this town has had two places of worship. The first edifice was built about 1870, on the Hebron and Middle Haddam turnpike, nearly midway between East Hampton and Middle Haddam, to accommodate its communicants who reside in the two villages. The parish priest and curate of St. Mary's Church, Portland, attend to the various duties required in this church, which is a mission in connection with St. Mary's Church. A fine new church edifice was completed and dedicated in 1898. It was built on one of the finest spots in the village. The fine proportions of its outside, and inside, attest at once the good judgment of Rev. T.R. SWEENEY as a builder, in addition to his faithfulness as a celebrant, in the services at its altar, and the various duties which he is called to perform, in his ministrations to this people. We learn that in the near future this church will have a priest regularly stationed, and its relation discontinued as a mission of the Portland Church. Candor compels me to say that this people are setting the brethren of the other churches of the place a good example in the neatness with which the church, both outside and inside is kept; and the proverbial reverence for the alter of God's house ever shown by the devotees of this faith are worthy of emulation by everybody.
The Lutherans of Swedish descent having become quite numerous in this place have for some time held services in private houses. The service is conducted by Rev. L.P. AHIQUIST of Portland, one of the foremost of the Swedish Lutheran ministers in the Untied States. The Lutheran communicants of East Hampton have recently purchased the edifice which was once used by the Union Congregational Church, at the corner of Main and High Streets, renovated it, and dedicated it as the place of their worship, Sunday, May 14, 1899, with impressive services. These recent comers from the northern part of Europe are like the last preceding mentioned, giving the native-born citizens good examples in the neat appearance of their church and its surroundings.
The last church which we mentioned as having an existence in East Hampton was one familiarly known to the people as the "Comeouters". It was made up of some of the very good brethren and sisters who withdrew from the Methodist body in 1848. They conducted their worship quite after the manner of the "Disciples' Church," or United brethren. Its membership was small and by the removals by death, it soon became extinct. They depended on each other usually for carrying on the Sunday or other service, only occasionally having some itinerant brother to minister to them. The last one of these was Brother Peter FELTY, a German who hailed from New Jersey, a very ardent temperance advocate. An old resident of the place informs me that in his last appearance in the role of exhorter that he commenced his address as follows: "Brethren and sisters I am a Deemocrat, but if I was going to "wote" I think I should "wote" the Whig ticket." He evidently did not want any politics in his temperance or religion, and by this, would expurgate both from its baneful effects.
One of the schools in this town want of space prevents me from mentioning at length. It is believed that they are in good hands and that the rising generation are being well trained to become worthy successors of the present business force in town, as the latter are of their immediate predecessors. Pictures of the school buildings accompanying will remind many readers of the halcyon days of youth. One especially of the old Center School house in East Hampton, which, with an almost "broken back" is doing duty as a smith-shop, while a new one, not far from its former site, finely situated, quite complete in its appointments, serves the present generation of scholars. In the old one the writer strove with good measure of success nearly forty years ago, to lead out, and lead up, to better qualifications for the duties of life, many who are now the business men of East Hampton, and it is with a slight twinge of the nerves that on the occasional greeting of one of these old pupils who tells of his grandchildren going to school, I find that teach and pupils of yore are growing old.
The construction of the Hebron and Middle Haddam, and the Colchester and Chatham turnpikes about 1808-10, were of advantage to Chatham in that era of its progress. A mail route over the latter road was established from Middletown to New London, having way offices at Middle Haddam, East Hampton, and Westchester P.O., which, by the way, was established in 1817, within the bounds of Chatham at COMSTOCK's Bridge. Hon. Franklin G. COMSTOCK, being the first postmaster for that office, an on removing to the village of East Hampton in 1818 he was postmaster as well as Judge of Probate for many years, and Associate Judge of the Superior Court until his removal to Hartford at a later date. His digest of the Probate Laws is as complete as any which has been published.
The postman road this route once a week each way, carrying, so I am informed by an old resident, a good sized pair of "saddle bags" to hold small packages for those who had errands to send by him at the towns at either end of his route, or at "way stations." This seems quite primitive, compared with the railroad, freight, mail, express, telegraph, and telephone facilities of to-day. But this answered the purpose in that stage of noiseless progress which this country has made during the passing century.
At the May session of the General Assembly, 1791, a resolution was passed authorizing the towns of Chatham and Colchester to erect a bridge, which these towns jointly maintain, over the Salmon River, which runs for a very short distance through the southeastern part of Chatham, and is known as COMSTOCK's Bridge, which is mentioned in the Resolution as being 7 rods and 7 links southwest of the dividing line between the towns. By this it appears that the bridge is entirely in Chatham town. A Mr. MILLER settled in the south part of the society of East Hampton very early. The hill where he lived, over which the turnpike from Colchester was built, has always been called MILLER's Hill. It is now the place of residence of many citizens and was greatly beautified in appearance by the fine rows of trees which are on either side of its main street. These trees, rock maple, are a living monument to the late Dr. Francis D. EDGERTON, who was widely known in this and surrounding towns as a most skillful physician, also to his son, Dr. F.D. EDGERTON of Middletown, and to all others who planted them. No man short of the late Dr. Ashbel WOODWARD of Franklin was oftener called in counsel, and no physician ever practiced in this section who was more beloved for his skill, faithfulness and integrity. He died in 1870, aged 73. He married Miss Marietta DANIELS, who is still living at their home.
Two other physicians of former times who were widely known were Dr. John RICHMOND, who lived near the Congregational Church. He died while attending a patient in the parish of Westchester in 1821. The other, Dr. Robert USHER, lived in the east part of the town within the parish of Westchester at an earlier date. He was a surgeon in WADSWORTH's regiment at Cambridge, Mass., and after a long, useful life died in 1820, aged 77 years.
It will be noticed by the changes which time, and death, and other mutations make, that the population of places are subject to, that few of the old names of families who founded Chatham are now represented in the list of inhabitants. There are some in almost every town, for it is not yet three centuries since this part of America was visited and settled upon by Europeans.
First among men are the builders of towns, of states, of nations, and empires. In addition to those already mentioned, whose names should perpetually be remembered as founders of Chatham are some, who though coming later, have added to its material prosperity. In the East Hampton Society are the names of SEARS, ABEL, BUELL, VEAZEY, WATROUS, ABBE, ACKLEY, CONE, and the later BEVINS of the immediate past; William, Isaac, Chauncey, Abner, and Major Philo BEVIN. Augustus H. CONKLIN and Joel W. SMITH, D.W. WATROUS, Elijah BARTON, H.G. CLARK, who have been for years foremost men in public affairs, and always working for the welfare of the village, are still living. Thomas SELLEW and his descendants, John MARKHAM and his descendants, John PURPLE, and of the latter times Mr. N.N. HILL, and the STARR Brothers and the present members of the BEVIN Mfg. Co. In the latter establishment are men who have been in their steady employment as skilled workmen for more than forty years. These daily toilers who carry on the work are an important factor in the prosperity of the place, standing in the same relation as the rank and file, in the make-up of an army. It is a pleasant fact to record that the relations of the owners and workers in this town have been exceptionally pleasant, and the place is free from the disturbances which are common to some New England towns.
Part 2 - Middle Haddam
About 1719, says Rev. Dr. FIELD, a family named GOFFE, who were the first English inhabitants in Middle Haddam, settled south of Middle Haddam Landing. Capt. Cornelius KNOWLES, an early settlers, afterwards built a house at Middle Haddam Landing near the river, and the vicinity was known for years as "KNOWLES Landing." Then other families settled on the ground adjacent to his place. The inhabitants sustained themselves in part by what they obtained from the river, and in other part and chiefly by cutting down the forest and tilling the ground, which has ever been the main reliance for support of settlers in new countries. About 1758 the ship building industry was started at the Landing, and became the leading business. The first ship built there was launched in the year 1763, and from that time for three-quarters of a century this industry made a market for ship timber, brought from many miles around. People came from Hebron, Marlborough, Westchester, Haddam Neck and other places, bringing everything from keel to gunwale with which to construct the ships, which went to every sea.
Transcribed by Jane Devlin
The first ships that went from America to Canton, China, for importing tea, were built at this place. Many of the first and finest "London Packets," which were so popular at that date of ocean navigation, were built here, some of them being finished in the interior with mahogany, black walnut, rosewood and other fine woods which wee brought to port by vessels engaged in the West India trade. Up to the year 1840 fifty-one ships, twenty-four brigs, twenty-one schooners and fifteen sloops were built, amounting in all to twenty-seven thousand, four hundred and thirty tons.
Mr. Thomas CHILDS, a master builder who lived to be over ninety years of age, stated that he had been the master builder of two hundred and thirty- seven vessels, and that he built most of them at Middle Haddam ship yards. About 1850 this industry, which had done so much toward building up the place, declined. The Landing prospered more through this business than any other. Its leading citizens for many years had a large share in the commerce of the country, owned vessels and followed the sea, some as captains and owners, and as other officers and sailors.
With the loss of the West India trade, business declined at this place. There was for some years a manufactory of house and sleigh-bells, also coffin trimmings, and four oakum factories. The latter business has been chiefly in the hands of the TIBBALS family. They furnish oakum for all yards where ships are built, also for the Navy yards of the United States, for the use of caulkers. Caulking was one of the most important pats of ship building, previous to the use of iron and steel, in the manufacture of hulls.
The first settlers of Middle Haddam labored under great disadvantages in attending public worship on the Sabbath. Sometimes they went by the difficult paths over the "Straits Hills" to the sanctuary in Portland; again by means of sailboats on the river, in the mild time of the year, they went as near as they could to that sanctuary; or in the same way to churches in Middletown and Haddam. The people of Haddam Neck also, living opposite Haddam, to which they then, as now belonged, often found it difficult to cross the river to attend worship on Sunday, or town meetings. Neither were the inhabitants of these places well accommodated to meet together in their own limits. They were scattered among the hills, and bad roads, little better than Indian trails, were the means of reaching any portion of their own parish. It was more convenient to meet together in their own borders than to go where they had hitherto gone, so they united in 1738 in a petition to the General Court for incorporation as a parish, and the request was granted at the may session of the Assembly in 1740. The petitioners north of the "Neck" were twenty-six in number and those on the "Neck" were twelve.
The church was organized Sept. 24, 1740, consisting of thirteen members, seven of whom lived on the "Neck", and the Rev. Benjamin BOWERS, a native of Billerica, Mass., a graduate of Harvard College, was ordained and settled as their pastor. Mr. BOWERS died May 11, 1761, aged 45. He left the reputation of having been a pious, faithful minister. AT the time of the organization the people had no house erected for public worship. They met in the school houses and dwelling houses. KNOWLES' Landing, now Middle Haddam, began to be a place of some business not long afterwards, but it did not attain its present size till that generation, and many succeeding ones, had gone to their graves. The people united in a local center, and built a meeting house in 1744, 36x44 feet, in which they worshiped until 1812, several years longer than they would have done had they been united in views as to the site of the second meeting house.
Mr. BOWERS was followed by Rev. Benjamin BOARDMAN, a native of Westfield, a graduate of Yale, 1758; dean, scholar and tutor in that institution. He was ordained January 5, 1762. During his ministry, families living at Maromas, on the west side of the river, attended worship in Middle Haddam. In January, 1775, the first society in Middletown granted these families leave to pay half their society tax to the Middle Haddam Society. The heads of families who thus attended worship were Israel CARRIER, Francis DRAKE, John CONE, Simeon & Richard MORGAN, Stephen & John SEARS, Samuel SIMMONS, and Mr. SWADDLE. During this year Mr. BOARDMAN went as chaplain to a military company from this town. They had a camp near Boston. Some difficulty arising between him and the people led to his dismission in 1783. On the 5th of May, 1784, he was installed pastor of the South Church, Hartford, where he died February, 12, 1810, at 70 years of age.
Other ministers were Revs. David SELDEN, Charles BENTLY, Stephen A. LOPER, William CASE, Philo JUDSON, James C. HOUGHTON, and William S. WRIGHT. This brings the names to a date within the memory to those now living.
An Episcopal church was formed in Middle Haddam in 1771 in the eastern part of the parish. The church at the Landing was formed April 25, 1785. Their church edifice was built in 1786-87. It was a mission under the care of Rev. Mr. JARVIS of Middletown until 1791. In justice to them, it is but fair to say that the contributions made by a few individuals have kept this church alive.
Not far from the station at Cobalt, is Great Hill, or Cobalt Mountain. The first Governor WINTHROP appears to have believed that there were minerals in this locality, and was so confirmed in this belief that he thought of setting up works for improving them, as is evident from a grant made to him not long after the settlement of Middletown, which at that time, included Cromwell, Middlefield, Maromas, Portland and Chatham, extending to the parish of Westchester on the east. His grant read as follows, to-wit: "The inhabitants of Middletown, for the encouragement of designs of our much honored Governor, Mr. John WINTHROP, for the discovery of mines and minerals, and for the setting up of such works as shall be needful for the improvement of them, do hereby grant unto our said Governor, any mines, or minerals, that he shall find or discover upon any common land within the bounds of our towns, and such woodland as may be convenient for the use of the same to the value of 500 or 1,000 acres, so that it be not nearer than two or three miles from the present dwelling houses of the town, as the town shall judge to be least prejudicial; provided the town shall have free liberty of commonage as far as our town bounds go, until the improvers shall see good to impropriate the same with inclosures -- provided further that said Governor and such as may be co-improvers with him, will set up works to improve such mines and minerals as he shall find within these five years, and let us know whether he doth accept of this our grant within two years; and so it be to him and his heirs and associates from the time of the setting up of such works, else at two or five years, and then to be at the liberty of the town to grant the same to any other. May 25, 1661."
At the time of this grant the residents of Middletown dwelt within the bounds of the present city and the lower part of Cromwell, which at that time, or subsequently, was called the "Upper Houses." "It is not probably," says Rev. Dr. FIELD, "that Governor WINTHROP had any very strong impressions that he would find minerals exception on or in the hills at the Straits, two or three miles below the present city of Middletown, where the Connecticut River seems to have long ago left its original course by which it emptied its waters into Long Island Sound, in the vicinity of New Haven, and burst through this right of hills at the Straits." In these hills, lead on the west side of the river, and cobalt on the east side, were afterwards very seriously, though unprofitably, sought. From the correspondence of the Governor with the learned men in England it is probable that knowledge of this locality went over the sea in his time. NO effort, however seems to have been made to find gold or any other mineral at this place for a century after this grant was made. In 1762 Prof. John Sebastian STEPHAUNEY, a German, employed some men, and made an opening into Great Hill for the purpose of finding mineral treasures. He worked only for a short time. In 1770 her renewed his attempt in company with two other German explorers, John KNOOL and Gominius ERKELENS. Dr. STEPHAUNEY, at length retired and left the management of the work to KNOOL and ERKELENS, reserving a share of the profits to himself.
Many casks of ore obtained were sent to England and Holland, and some taken to China. All the persons engaged as operatives or speculators were of foreign birth and speech, and as the ore was all exported very little was known at the time of its character or value. The better informed believed that cobalt was the mineral sought. At last ERKELENS again appeared as the principal manager, as appears from an entry in the diary of President STILES of Yale College. On Jan 1, 1787, he notes as follows: "Mr. ERKELENS visited me full of his cobalt mine, and China voyage. Some years ago he bought the "Governor's Ring" as it is called, a mountain in the north west corner of Middle Haddam, comprising about 800 acres. Here he finds plenty of cobalt which he manufactured in "smalt" with which the beautiful blue on China ware and other pottery is made. Governor TRUMBULL has often told me that this was the place where Gov. WINTHROP used to go with his servant, and after spending three or four weeks in the woods at this mountain in roasting and assaying metals and casting gold rings, would return to his home in New London with plenty of gold; hence the place became known as "The Governor's Ring". WINTHROP was in intimate correspondence with Sir Kenelm DIGBY, and the leading chemical and philosophical men of his time, as may be seen in the fortieth volume of "Philosophical Transaction," 1740."
ERKELENS expended two thousand pounds sterling in the mine, which was like many other mining ventures, of no profit. He made one shipment of twenty tons of ore to China. There is a good deal in the Chatham Records respecting these lands, and the operations at Great Hill. Large sums of money have at different times been spent in attempts to obtain ore at this place. Mr. Seth HUNT from New Hampshire worked there from 1818 to 1820, and spent his fortune to now avail. In 1844 Prof. Charles U. SHEPARD, author of " The Report on the Geological Survey of Connecticut," worked there. It is a curious fact, that after all that has been done in this mine, very little is really known to the public as to the worth of the minerals located there, and whether it could be worked to any profit. It is evident that the principal object which has been sought is cobalt. "Cobalt," says Prof. JOHNSON of Wesleyan University, "is a rare metal, and is not used in the arts in a metallic state, but its oxid is used largely in preparing the beautiful blue coloring matter for painting glass and porcelain ware." "This locality," (at Great Hill) he adds, "is the only one known in this country where this peculiar ore of the metal is obtained, but in two or three places, the oxid is found associated with oxid of manganese. at mine La Motte, Missouri, it occurs in sufficient quantity to be extracted from the ore for use in the arts."
In March, 1850, Mr. Edmund BROWN with some friends began operation about the base of the Great Hill, a little east of the place where previous operations had been carried on. He employed a large force and sunk a shaft seven by nine feet, about forty feet deep, and worked from the shaft for some sixty feet taking from the opening a large amount of ore. The then commenced a tunnel seven hundred feet east of the shaft and proceeded some forty feet westerly with the object of meeting and opening up the shaft, in the meantime putting up stamping works, laboratory and smelting works. After working about an year, and expending a large sum of money, the company failed. Dr. FRANCKFORT, a French chemist, made an analysis of the ore taken from the shaft. This analysis shows that the ore is properly speaking, an arsenical pyrites, containing 8o per cent of arsenic, 9 per cent of iron, 4 1/2 per cent of sulfur, almost 4 per cent of cobalt with a trace of bismuth.
In a communication from Dr. FRANKFORTH he says in regard to the work at Great Hill by the Germans and others, prior to Mr. Brown and his company, that they worked in the micaceous shale of that region in view of obtaining the smaltine or cobalt pyrites, a silvery-white, find grained ore found here. The black peroxid of cobalt, extensively used in the making of blue pottery, fine smalt, etc. was the object which those who mined there had in view, and wished to prepare.
"This mineral," he adds, " is very rare in the United States, and there is no doubt whatever that the regular vein of it will amply pay of mining if it should be found." There has also been found a mineral called copper-nickel, of copper red color.
President STILES visited this place in 1787 and sketched "The Governor's Ring" and a map showing the country from New London to Middle Haddam and Middletown. This he was prompted to do by the prospect that Great Hill afforded. The mine was near the bottom of the hill, being a short distance from it, at an elevation of about four hundred feet above the seal level of the Connecticut River, - the top of the hill rising nearly three hundred feet more. From the summit of this hill the view in every direction is one of great beauty, comprising the enchanting scenery of this part of the rive in its windings, and the inland landscape. Upon the rive we see vessels of every description passing to and fro, and the hills of Glastonbury, Portland, Marlborough, Hebron, Colchester, Westchester, East Haddam and Middletown dotted with the habitation of men and the spires and towers of churches. It is a panorama equaled by few locations in this state. In a clear day Long Island Sound and the shores of Long Island are plainly visible. It is a pleasant thought to bring to mind as one views this scene, that he can see the birthplaces of David BRAINARD, and of James Brainard TAYLOR; of Rev. Edward Dorr GRIFFIN, and his contemporaries, Rev. Dr. EMMONS, and Eliphalet NOTT, D.D.; of Major General Joseph SPENCER of Revolutionary fame, of Colonel Henry CHAMPION of the old French War, afterwards a Commissionary General of the eastern army during the Revolutionary War, of General Henry CHAMPION, son of the preceding, of Stephen J. and Cyrus W. FIELD< the former a Justice of the U.S. Court, the latter a promoter in ocean telegraphy, and many others of the past who were renowned in civil and military life.
This prospect alone is worth a visit to Great Hill.
Eastward from Middle Haddam the ground rises in some places very boldly. Here is a hill of great natural beauty, and enchanting scenery known by the name of "Hog Hill". The reason of its bearing this unbecoming name is as follows: "Soon after the settlement of this society," says Roberts, " the hogs belonging to the early settlers were allowed to roam at large. On this hill the first meeting house was built, and standing on the side hill it was stoned up underneath and a small aperture left for going under the church. During a storm the swine took refuge under the church. Some party closed the entrance and shut the swine in and they were not found until the Sabbath day when their noise disturbed the worshippers. From this circumstance this beautiful hill has always been known as Hog Hill."
Among the old and more prominent families, who were active in building and making Middle Haddam what it was in its early days, the names of STEWART, JOHNSON, HURD, CARIER, WHITMORE, TAYLOR, CLARK, CHILDS, SIMPSON, TIBBALS, SELDEN, SMITH, NORTON, PARKER, FOOTE, GARDNER, GRIFFITH, TALLMAN, STRONG, SHEPARD, WARNER, ROBERTS, and POST have been known to all who know anything about the parish. One incident connected with the name of JOHNSON, is worthy of relating as showing the ambitions of the sons of these old families. It is related of Capt. Nathaniel Cooper JOHNSON, now deceased, that he went to work for his father in the shipyard at caulking, on the under side of a vessel that was on the stocks. After working one day, he told his father that he had worked as long as he wanted to on the under side of a vessel, and that hereafter he would get his living on deck. Proving his word, he very soon became a sailing master, and for many years of his life he trod the quarter-deck of some of the finest "London packets" as captain. Among others he commanded "The Sovereign of the Seas." He retired early in life, having accumulated a fortune.
Chatham has ever been noted for the loyalty and patriotism of its citizens. Its citizen-soldiers have been in every war from the first French & Indian War to the present. So early as Dec. 19, 1774, the citizens assembled in town meeting, passed the following resolve to whit: "That this town do accept and approve of the doings of the Congress, held at Philadelphia in September land, and agree to keep and observe the same and to do our uttermost that the same shall be punctually kept and observed according to the true intent of the Congress." A committee of observation was appointed to see to it that citizens lived up to the requirements of the resolution. When soldiers from Chatham went to duty they were armed and provisioned according to approved methods of the times of their going. In the town treasurer's book, on the date of June 18, 1780, we find the following record. "State of Connecticut to the town of Chatham Dr. to supplying Captain BRAINARD's company with provisions and stores to march to West Point in an alarm by order of General WARD, for twenty days.
£ s. d. To 800 lbs of bread 9 12 0 To one bbl pork 6 0 0 To one beef kine 3 6 0 To 10 gals rum 4 10 0 to man & team, to carry baggage,
& stores for the Company
3 12 0 To expense of team 2 8 0 ___ ___ ___ 29 8 0
In the Civil War, 1861-5 were many from this town, now grey grown with age and wearing the G.A.R. badge, who were then sprightly young soldiers. And many are the homes where brave loved ones lived who went, and did not return, giving their lives for liberty and freedom of this fair land.
With a record to be proud of, with natural beauty that will compare favorably with any portion of New England, the town of Chatham has within its bounds an abundance of interest. And that part of the town by the Great River, known as Middle Haddam, with its ease of access to and from the large centers of population by river or rail, make it an ideal place of residence, and especially so in the summer season. There is no place more worthy of receiving its share of the city folk on the lookout for the rest and recreation, and who shall say that the prospect of no distant future is a town resembling in the amount of its life and activity the Middle Haddam of former days.