HADDAM NECK
History of Middlesex County,
Henry M. SELDEN
J. B. Beers, publisher, New York 1884

Courtesy of David Hoffman


The portion of Haddam early called Haddam Neck, is a triangular point of land between the Connecticut and Salmon Rivers, four miles long and four miles broad across its northern line. From its geographical position is should have been called Middle Haddam, as it is midway between Haddam and East Haddam-a name it afterward gave to the ecclesiastical society composed of it and the western half of the adjoining town of Chatham; a name continuing to the ecclesiastical society, and now also applied to the latter, though inappropriately.

The surface is quite hilly and rocky, the ranges running generally north and south. The scenery viewed from their summits-of the Connecticut River and valley, and the hills and villages on the opposite shore, and of East Haddam to the eastward, with its village of Moodus-is varied and very beautiful. A large and valuable meadow, enriched by the annual freshets of the river, extends along the shore from the northern line southward about one and a half miles with a width of from 80 to 100 rods. This was early known as the Great Meadow, and so described for many years in deeds of the lots.

Another large meadow extends from the foot of the hills southward across from the Connecticut to Salmon River Cove, and terminates at the junction of the two rivers just above the Upper Landing of East Haddam. This tract is called the Cove Meadow, and most of it is excellent land. Several smaller meadows lie between the two mentioned. These meadows are divided into narrow and long lots of varying width, and generally front on the river.

The land, generally meadow and upland, was originally surveyed into comparatively narrow and long lots of from 80 to 160 rods long, and early described as the 1st, 2d, 3d, etc., tier of lots. The best land is meadow and intervale near the Connecticut River, although much good land is found on and among the hills.

Wild animals were numerous for many years after the settlement among which were bears and wolves. The latter were seen as late as 1770, and tradition says were successfully hunted by the men turning out en-masse (probably assisted by others, from the adjoining settlements) who formed a long line across the hills and ravines with diminishing intervals as they advanced, and drove the wolves before them to the Cove Meadow, where they were shot. The hills and valleys were heavily timbered, and the former generally underlaid with a system of ledges, or one continuous ledge extending from the north part of Chatham through the Neck and across and under the Connecticut River, and cropping out at frequent intervals. There are veins, however, some of the large, of gneiss stone of an iron gray color, excellent for building, curbing, and paving stone, which have been used quite extensively, and as far south as New Orleans.

There is a vein of fine dark blue stone occasionally found running through the principal range of rocks underlying the more elevated portions. This vein, from its early discoverer and worker, David ALLEN, is called the Allen Vein. It is of a free rift, with close seams and easily splits with a smooth surface.

The principal quarry of gneiss stone on the Neck was opened by Deacon Ezra BRAINERD in 1762, and was successfully worked by him for many years, and a numerous force employed, until, through the competition resulting from the opening of other quarries elsewhere, it, and the other quarries in the place are not now worked. The principal openings were from 50 to 70 rods from the river, on a hill of considerable height and quite extensive, from which the descent is difficult, known as Quarry Hill. This and other quarries have been worked by Ansel, Capt. Roswell, Alfred, Deacon Cyprian S., Henry S., and Hezekiah BRAINERD, the SHAILERs, and ELYs, of Haddam, and others. Feldspar is abundant, and of good quality. The first quarried in the United States was in this place about 40 years ago, by Alfred BRAINERD jr., and was sent to England. He, years after, in company with Diodate BRAINERD and Harris COOK, opened several quarries, and built a large mill in Higganum for burning, grinding, and preparing it for use. They also shipped much in its native condition, and carried on quite an extensive business. Quarries of trap rock, mica, and graphite have been worked.

Among the different minerals found here are: Albite, anthophyllite, allanite, beryl, chrysoberyl, chlorophyllite, feldspar crystallized, garnet, graphite, hornblende, iolite, iron pyrites, kyanite, lepidolite, mica, magnetic iron, crystals, ferruginous, rose, and smoky quartz, black, green, and red tourmaline. It is probable that several of the minerals credited to Haddam by Dana are to be found here, viz.: Automolite, adularia, columbite, epidote, molybdenite, spinel, sulpuret of bismuth, and zircon.

On the hill rising from and extending back from Rock Landing, is a singular depression in the plain-like surface. It is apparently about 8 rods long and six rods wide, and from 20 to 30 feet deep. The shape is oval with the outline and slopes regular and unbroken. Years ago this was a favorite place for base-ball playing. It was probably caused by the action of the water when submerged during the glacial period, and later may have been used as a place of resort and place of defense by the Indians for which it was well adapted.

There is a similar but large depression, of circular form, on Little Neck, between the junction of Pine Brook and Salmon River; and another in Leesville, on Basin Hill, to which it gives its name. Several small ravines, near the Connecticut River, were, according to tradition, caused by great water spouts occurring since the settlement. There is a small cave in the rocks near the southern extremity of the high ground of the Neck, with an entrance of about four feet in height, opening into a room several feet in diameter and height.

The Indians remained on their reservations in the town for many years. They had a place of resort, in a deep hollow on Haddam Neck, called Indian Hollow, on land of William C. and Henry M. SELDEN, where a number of their wigwams remained standing several years after 1740. The brook rising at Chatham line and passing through it bears the name of Indian Hollow Brook.

Mills and Manufacture


The principal stream of water on the Neck, is Pine Brook, having its source in Lake Pocotopaug, in the parish of East Hampton, town of Chatham, and running in a southerly direction empties into Salmon River Cove. It is a large and durable stream, excellent for power purposes.

Near its mouth a company saw mill was early built, owned by Robert R. CHAPMAN and several of the name of BRAINERD.

Years after this, another saw mill was built still nearer the mouth, by Dudley BRAINERD. This was afterward enlarged and improved by Henry WILLIAMS.

Still further up the stream that the first saw mill, HOUSE & Co. built, in 1847, a large paper mill, which was burnt April 18th 1871. Above the site of the paper mill of HOUSE & Co. was early a sword factory, built by STARR & SAGE of Middletown. This was in use in the time of the war of 1812, and the swords were used in that war. It was afterward changed into a scythe factory by Oliver GREEN.

This in time was abandoned, and three oakum mills were built (as one after another were burnt), by R. & D. RAND & Co., of Middletown; James TIBBALS, manufacturing agent.

Oakum mill No. 3 was afterward managed by Deacon Edward ROOT till 1849, when he moved to Middletown, and R. & D. RAND & Co. sold to the Pine Brook Duck Co., who enlarged the mill and manufactured cotton ducking. This was burnt, and the property was purchased by Daniel WETHERELL, who built a new mill and manufactured cotton batting until 1882, when HOUSE & Bro. purchased and greatly enlarged the mill, using it for the manufacture of paper.

On a stream in the western part of the Neck, Lieutenant Simon BRAINERD built a saw and grist mill. On the same stream, further up, and in the limits of Chatham, was early a company saw mill, built by Robert CLARK, Captain Thomas SELDEN, several of the name of SMITH, and others.

There were, early, several small tanneries and a bark mill in the upper part of the Neck, and saltpetre works at the time of the war of 1812.

Ezra S. GILLETTE commenced the manufacture of baskets in 1852, and has continued to the present time, assisted by his sons, Charles O. and Merit P. GILLETTE. They have two factories, and manufacture 1,200 dozen baskets per year. Several others do a smaller business in the same line.

Under an appropriation by the government, Salmon River Cove was dredged in the autumn of 1883, to admit larger steamboats, a small one, having run regularly, in the summer of 1883, from Scovill's Landing to Middletown. Sloops and scows formerly ascended as far as Leesville.

Cemetery


The cemetery for the use of the people of Haddam Neck was laid out in 1734, on the east side of the road leading to and near Rock Landing, on a sandy knoll 12 rods square, and overlooking the river. It has connected with it a hearse and hearse house. There are several fine marble and granite monuments. On the opposite side of the highway, another yard has been laid out by Jarvis A. MORGAN, and a few fine monuments already erected.

Shipbuilding


The town early set apart a tract of land, below and adjoining the present lower wharf at Rock Landing, for the use of the people in ship building, and for depositing timber and wood. The lower wharf, built by individuals, is 96 feet long, and the upper wharf is 80 feet long.

Robert CLARK built a sloop at Rock Landing, and afterward built another at Ben. CLARK Landing.

Elias SELDEN, Esq., and Colonel Theodore H. ARNOLD, built, at Rock Landing, the sloop Coret of which Asa GOFF was the captain. Simeon SELDEN, Calvin BRAINERD, and Jacob TUCKER built, at Rock Landing, the sloop Lark, of which Horace CHAPMAN was the captain.

Edgar and Caleb SMITH built the schooner Thomas H. Seymour, near the old SELDEN house, in 1848.

Captain Chauncey BRAINERD built the schooner Mary Ann, in 1815, at Town Rock, near the house of Edgar SMITH, and he was he captain. The keep was laid on Friday, and every important part was commenced on Friday; launched on Friday, sailed from New York on Friday, and, it is supposed, was lost on Friday, with Captain BRAINERD and all his crew.

For many years after the settlement a large amount of wood, timber, rails, and posts was shipped to different places but mainly to New York, and goods in part received thereof, which, being divided among those interested, easily supplied the lack of a store.

Merchants


The pioneer merchant was Robert CLARK. The next was Dudley BRAINERD, who built the house now occupied by Captain Charles S. RUSSELL, in the basement of which he had his store. This store was next managed by SELDEN HUNTINGTON one year, succeeded by Elias SELDEN and Colonel Theodore H. ARNOLD, under the firm name of SELDEN & ARNOLD, then by a Mr. L'HOMMEDIEU, and in rotation by Lavater R. SELDEN, James S. SELDEN, Lucius E. GOFF, Captain Charles S. RUSSELL, Albert S. RUSSELL, George E. RUSSELL & Co, and Joseph GRIFFIN. Chauncey ARNOLD built a store near his house which was managed by the family. It is now used as a place for voting.

Robert CLARK being the last surviving member of the Episcopal church in the eastern part of the ecclesiastical society, took it down and removed it to the Neck for his own use.

Settlement


The date of the early settlement of Haddam Neck is involved in obscurity, but it is supposed to be about 1710 or '12, by the following persons, some of them settling later than others: William BRAINERD, his wife Sarah BIDWELL, and their children; James BRAINERD jr., his wife Anne; Thomas SELDEN, his wife Sarah, and their children; Sylvester DUDLEY; Gideon GOFF jr., and perhaps his father; Jabez BROOKS Esq., and perhaps Thomas BROOKS; Dr. Joshua and Deacon Gideon ARNOLD, their sisters, and possibly their father, John; ____ CONE; Robert CHAPMAN; Benajah CLARK, and perhaps Deacon Ebenezer SMITH and William MARKHAM; _____ STOCKING.
Of these, William BRAINERD, the fifth child of Daniel and Hannah (SPENCER) BRAINERD, one of the original proprietors of Haddam, married Sarah BIDWELL, December 13th 1698, and built his house between the foot of Quarry Hill and the house of the late Cyprian S. BRAINERD. Their children were:

1. Sarah, married Deacon Gideon ARNOLD, one of the settlers.
2. Sergt. William J. married Esther _____.
3. Hannah, married William SMITH.
4. Samuel, married Esther BRAINERD, daughter of Jabez and Hannah (CLARK) BRAINERD, and settled in BRAINERD District in Haddam.
5. (Rev.) Chiliab, graduated at Yale, minister in Eastbury, town of Glastonbury.
6. Lieut. Josiah sen., twice married. He built his house on Quarry Hill in 1737. The house was torn down in 1883. He served in two expeditions to Canada; was with Gen. Wolfe, at the capture of Quebec; and also served in the Revolutionary war.
7. Nathan, twice married. He built his house where the house of Oliver B. ARNOLD now stands.

Serg't James BRAINERD jr., son of Deacon James and Deborah BRASINERD, of Haddam, who was the fourth child of Daniel and Hannah (SPENCER) BRAINERD, a Haddam proprietor. It is not now known where his house stood. He died October 2d 1776. His children were: 1. Benjamin, whose house was across the road from, and nearly opposite, the house of Henry L. BRAINERD.
2. Jedediah, who served in at least one expedition to Canada in the French and Indian war, and was father of Jedediah jr., Amos, Candace, and others. He built where the house of Hamlin F. JOHNSON now stands, which last was built by Jedediah jr. His son, Amos, built the one-story house on the corner near, lately occupied by Daniel WETHERELL.
3. Rebecca
4. James
5. Hannah
6. Dudley
7. Ozias
8. Jonathan, who built the house now owned by Mrs. N. B. NORTHAM. He is mentioned in account of Revolutionary war. He died about 1825, aged 88.

Thomas SELDEN sen., from Lyme, son of Joseph and Rebecca (CHURCH) SELDEN, of Lyme, and grandson of Thomas and Esther SELDEN, an English settler of Hartford in 1636, was born in Deerfield, Mass. He built his house at the western head of Cove Meadow near the river and about opposite the new cemetery in Haddam. This was burnt, and his younger son, Capt. Joseph, built a smaller one near the old site, the ruins of which still remain. His eldest son, Capt. Thomas, built on the central ridge, across the road from the house of William C. and Henry M. SELDEN, where the post office is now kept. Capt. Thomas was father of Rev. David.

Sylvester DUDLEY built, first, where Timothy ANDREWS lived; second, near the southern extremity of the high ground on the Neck and near Dibble's Creek, now known as the ACKLEY place.

Gideon GOFF jr. built his house one-eight of a mile north from the house of Justin E. ARNOLD. It is now standing, but unoccupied. His father, Gideon sen., may also have lived there.

Jabez BROOKS, or his supposed father, THOMAS, built a little southwest of the house of the late Abial J. BROOKS. He was an eccentric man, of whose ready wit anecdotes are told, and the first justice of the peace on the Neck. It is related of him that a customer employed him to draw a deed, which he prefaced with "Know one woman" etc., and on an objection being made, he replied, "It is all right. If one woman knows it, all men will!"

Dr. Joshua ARNOLD, son of John and grandson of Joseph, one of the original settlers of Haddam, a petitioner for the ecclesiastical society, and a constituent member of the church, is supposed to have built on the south side of the road leading to Higganum, as also Deacon Daniel, a son of Deacon Gideon.

Dr. Joshua is said to have introduced the common red hearted white cedar. A son, Jacob, built the Justin E. ARNOLD house. Deacon Gideon ARNOLD, a brother of Dr. Joshua, and son of John, was also among the early settlers, a petitioner for the ecclesiastical society, and a constituent member of the church, in which he was elected a deacon November 8th 1740, was father of Deacon Daniel, of the Middle Haddam church, and of Deacon Gideon, of the East Hampton church. His house was in the fields west of Rock Landing road, and of the house of Martin B. BRAINERD.

One of the settlers, named CONE, built his house near the present one of William H. GRAHAM. He afterward, in 1751, exchanged farms with Benajah CLARK, of WAKLEY Hill, a great grandson of William, an original settler of Haddam. Benajah immediately built his house (now standing and owned by Alexander M. CLARK), at the foot of the hill since known as the "Ben CLARK Hill." Benajah was a brother of Peletiah, the ancestor of the Little City CLARKs.

Robert CHAPMAN of the fifth generation, and also fifth in name from Robert, one of the settlers of Saybrook, was settled just east of Pine Brook, and built a gambrel roofed one-story house close by where his only son, Reuben ROWLEY, afterward built and where his grandson, Martin, now resides. He was a teamster in two expeditions to Canada, during the French and Indian wars.

Josiah BRAINERD jr., son of Josiah sen. and Hannah (SPENCER) BRAINERD built a house (afterward burnt) where Samuel HOUSE built later. He next built the house near the river where his grandson, the late Cyprian S. BRAINERD, lived.

A Mr. NORTON built his house near and just south of the barn of Luther ARNOLD.

Jonathan COOK built his house on the north side of the road to Higganum. Two families of the name of STOCKING early lived on the opposite side of the road, and a little south of the Methodist Episcopal church, one of whom probably was John, and the other Nathaniel STOCKING. The house on the west side is now owned and occupied by Warren S. WILLIAMS.

Chiliab BRAINERD, son of Josiah and Hannah (SPENCER) BRAINERD built his house on the east side of the road, near the house of Enos B. YOUNG.

Congregational Church


The settlers were generally religious and, retaining their membership or interest in the church on the west side, continued to attend public worship there, but it was very inconvenient, and they often found it difficult to cross the river. Those, also, living across the line in the western portion of the adjoining town of Chatham, then Middletown, were similarly situated with regard to the church in Middletown.

At length, with increasing numbers, "it being more convenient for them to meet together than for each section to worship where they had done, they united, in October 1738, in a petition to the Legislature for incorporation as a parish, and their request was granted in May 1740." The new parish, or ecclesiastical society, was named Middle Haddam which it still retains.

The history of this church from its organization to 1874 is given in the history of the town of Chatham.

After the departure of Mr. HOPKINSON in 1878, temporary supplies were procured while the old church continued to be occupied as the place of worship. Mr. BENTLEY, a former pastor, preached several Sabbaths, coming from his home in Berlin. Occasionally a neighboring minister would hold a late-in-the-day service to obtain a letter for some member to unite with his own church, so gathering the spoils which were thought to be destined to an inevitable distribution. Lay services were sometimes held, to the acceptance of those who assembled, by Deacon Samuel SKINNER, of East Hampton.

For a long time no services were held in the church, the members attending other churches or remaining at home, and it became evident that the church which had existed for 130 years must either dwindle away and dissolve or locate its sanctuary more centrally to that portion of the original parish which still remained to it.

Edward Davis CLARK, a native and resident of the Neck, who died November 11th 1869, in his will, after the disposal of various legacies, set apart the remainder of his property, about $2,500, to accumulate until it amounted to the sum of $5,000, then to be paid to the Ecclesiastical Society of Middle Haddam, provided it at that time should have a church located on the Neck and near the school house.

The influence of this bequest not only hastened the building of the church, but decided its location.

The place selected for the new house of worship was the summit of the hill directly in front of the school house, on Haddam Neck, a beautiful lot of one and a half acres, which was purchased for $225. Ground was broken for the house early in the spring of 1873.

The building committee consisted at first of David BRAINERD, Hezekiah BRAINERD, and Job E. BROOKS, to which was afterward added William F. BRAINERD. The contractor was A. H. ALLEN, of Portland.

Work on this building was commenced late in the autumn of 1873, and progressed through the following winter. It was finished on the outside, with a small ell in front for a porch, which was not satisfactory. In the spring of 1874, H. M. SELDEN, having drawn a design of a tower and spire in harmony with the house, was appointed a special committee to construct the same and finish the interior.

It was dedicated September 23d 1874. Thus the ancient church of Middle Haddam, just 134 years, lacking one day, from its organization on the 24th of September 1740, took up its abode here in this its later home.

It is a steep roofed one story wooden building, facing eastward, 34 by 48 feet in size, the sides 16 feet high, with a tower in front projecting 8 by 12 feet, forming a porch, and surmounted with a belfry and spire.

A hexagonal addition at the rear, 8 by 17 feet, gives space for the choir and pipe organ, back of the desk.

It was at the outset felt that this feeble church could not build a house of worship unassisted, therefore an appeal was made to other churches for aid, and Henry M. SELDEN and Henry L. BRAINERD were chosen solicitors by the ecclesiastical society. They were very successful in this work.

The entire cost of the church, including the site, was about $6,000. Of this $3,500 was raised abroad, partly from non-resident natives of the place. A bell weighing 800 pounds was purchased in 1877, from subscriptions, avails of a lecture by Rev. Mr. BELL, the singing preacher, then boarding in the place, and a donation of $100 from Mrs. Martha M. ROGERS, of Middletown, whose name it bears.

David BRAINERD was elected a deacon April 21st 1878, and died in office April 26th 1879, aged 67.

Henry M. SELDEN was elected a deacon for three years in 1878, and re-elected in 1881.

Henry L. CLARK was elected a deacon, May 9th 1881. Hezekiah BRAINERD, a member of the church, who died February 3d 1880, gave to the ecclesiastical society (before his death), certain notes to the amount of $7,448, and also devised real estate to the same. An expensive suit at law with the executor of an alleged later will followed and finally resulted in a compromise.

Miss Lucy SELDEN, a member of the church who died December 31st 1882, bequeathed to the ecclesiastical society $250; $200 of which was to be a fund for the support of the gospel, and $50 to aid in building a parsonage for the society.

A two story parsonage, 24 by 35 feet in extent, and about one fourth of a mile from the church, was built in 1883.

The 13th pastor of the Congregational church, Rev. Frederick MUNSON, commenced his labors here the first Sunday in January 1875, and continued until January 1884. He, early in that period, received a call to settle as pastor of the church, but declined. During his ministry here 23 were added to the church.

Mrs. Mary (BROOKS) CLARK, widow of Edward R., and mother of Edward D. CLARK, a member of the church, died March 1st 1878, and bequeathed to the ecclesiastical society $500 as a fund for the support of preaching. In 1884, the church was variously supplied until October, when the present pastor, Rev. Francis Singleton WILLISTON, commenced his pastorate. Since its organization, September 24th 1740, 837 persons have been members of the church. The present number of members is 46, of which 14 are male, and 32 female.

The Sunday school was reorganized October 11th 1874. The superintendents since that time, with terms of service, have been: William H. GRAHAM, 1874-1876; Daniel P. SMITH, 1876-1880; Luther N. ARNOLD, 1880, 1881; Deacon Henry M. SELDEN, 1881, 1882; Daniel P. SMITH, 1882-1885. The number of the school, in 1883, was 56. The library numbers 350 volumes.

Methodist Episcopal Church


The date of the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Haddam Neck, and the establishment of their house of worship is obscure, but supposed to be not far from the commencement of the present century.

The first meeting house was in the chamber of Elisha DAY's house, now owned by Warren S. WILLIAMS, and was conducted by a presiding elder named ROBERTS, from Baltimore.

Their first house of worship was a gambrel roofed wooden building, 23 by 24 feet, and previously used for a dwelling house on Bald Hill, in Chatham, but moved whole to the southeast corner of the second meeting of four roads on the town line.

As rearranged it had galleries on three sides. In front of the pulpit was the altar, a square enclosed space, with a door and a bench around the inside.

This was used until 1845, when a new church edifice, 30 by 40 feet, and surmounted by a tower, was erected on the same site, and dedicated June 10th 1846. This has an end gallery over the porch for the choir, and two aisles.

The building committee were Diodate BRAINERD, Justin SEXTON, and John BRAINERD. The church was supplied by circuit preachers, a new one almost every Sabbath, until 1844 or 1845, since which time they have had a resident minister, whose term has varied from one to three years. Their records, under the circuit arrangement, was kept in East Hampton, with those of the Methodist Episcopal church there, and were burnt in 1835.

A parsonage 22 by 30 feet was built in 1858, between the houses of Henry L. BRAINERD and Alexander DALLAS jr., and midway between the Methodist Episcopal church and school house. The superintendents of the Sunday school connected with the Methodist Episcopal church since 1876 have been: Warren S. WILLIAMS, 1876-78; M. Gertie WILLIAMS, 1879, 1880; Rev. Herbert M. SMITH, 1881; John B. MORGAN, 1881; Charles O. GILLETTE, 1882, 1883. The library of the school consists of 225 volumes.

The resident ministers of the church since 1844, have been: Revs. Andrew J. ROBINSON, 1845, 1846; Albert PARK, 1847; Charles DIXON, 1848; Emerson ETHEREDGE, 1849; John W. HORN, 1849; Thomas G. BROWN, 1850; David BRADBURY, 1851; Ziba LOVELAND, 1852; Sewell LUMBERTON, 1853, 1854; Jesse E. HEALD, 1855; ____ SMITH, 1856; Thomas G. BROWN, 1857; Francis H. BROWN, 1858, 1859; Jabez PACK, 1860, 1861; Joel E. HAWKINS, 1862, 1863; James H. COOLEY, 1864; John W. CASE, 1865; Theodore M. HOUSE, 1866; Abraham S. HOLWAY, 1867; Nelson GOODRICH, 1868; Sanford AMIDON, 1869-1871; Theodore W. DOUGLASS, 1872; Henry H. ARNOLD, 1873; E. Learned LATHAM, 1874; William O. CADY, 1875, 1876; James TREGASKIS, 1877; John COOPER, 1878; William O. CADY, 1879; Walter P. STODDARD, 1880; Charles E. STENHOUSE, 1881; Benjamin F. ELLIOTT, 1882; Frank L. HAYWARD, 1883; no appointment 1884.

Schools


It appears that for some time after the settlement of the Neck, the children were educated generally at their homes. The ecclesiastical society of Middle Haddam, not long after its organization, established three schools; one at Knowles' Landing, one at the Center, and one at the Neck. The one at the center was built on the rocks, just east of, and near the house of Walter CLARK, now owned by Joseph HULBERG, and a short distance west of the old first church.

This, tradition says, was raised somewhat, and the space beneath afforded a convenient place of refuge for the wilder, young men when liable to arrest. After it was abandoned, a store and shop was erected on or near the site by Walter CLARK. The successor, school house No. 2, was built about one half of a mile west of the first meeting house, at the junction of the roads where meeting house No. 2 was afterwards built. This, on the erection of the former, in 1812, was moved a short distance eastward, and became the Henry DINGWELL house. Deacon Jesse HURD gave the site for the new and present school house on the west road, a short distance south of the old one, and built on its removal.

The first school house on the Neck was built on the northeast corner of the highway, where four roads met, between the present houses of Oliver B. ARNOLD and Justin M. SMITH. This had two chimnies, one in the northwest and one in the southeast corner, with a stout post in the center, called the Whipping Post. The door was on the south side near the southwest corner. This in time became dilapidated, and was abandoned. Its successor, school house No. 2, size 16 by 20 feet, was built across the road from the former, and on the northwest corner, and also had two chimnies. This is now used for a barn, bear its original site. School house No. 3, the present one, was built in 1822, on the southeast corner, where four roads met, a mile south and half a mile west from the former location. This is 24 by 30 feet, surmounted with a tower and is in excellent condition. The ancient seats have given place to those of the most approved modern construction. A school library of 50 volumes belongs to the district. The building of the new house so far away from the old site caused a division, and the people of the northern portion continued to use the old house until 1825, when, by a union with a portion of Chatham and the establishment of a new school district, by the name of Pine Brook, they had built a school house near Chatham, one-half of a mile from the town line between Haddam and Chatham. Middle Haddam Center District was and is composed of a portion of Chatham and the northwest part of Haddam Neck. The northeast part of Haddam Neck was finally set off to Leesville school district in East Haddam. The southern portion of the Cold Meadow on the neck is set to the Shailerville school in Haddam. The ecclesiastical society continued the supervision of the schools in the parish until by the organization of school societies their charge was superseded.

The school district situated wholly on the Neck continued to be called Middle Haddam South, until by a more recent change the towns were given the supervision of the schools, when it was called the Haddam Neck District, or No. 14 in the town.

College Graduates


The names of the college graduates, natives of this place, with dates, etc. are:

  • Rev. Chiliab BRAINERD, Yale, 1731, a settle minister in Eastbury, Conn.; died in 1739.
  • Rev. David SELDEN, Yale 1782, third pastor of the Congregational church in Middle Haddam; died January 15th 1825.
  • Edward SELDEN, Esq., Yale 1783, a justice of the peace in Haddam, and moved to Windsor where he died.
  • Rev. Israel BRAINERD, Yale 1797, pastor in Guilford and Derby, Conn., and Verona, N.Y.
  • Rev. David Almeron STRONG, Williams, 1845, pastor in South Deerfield and Coleraine, Mass.
  • Austin ARNOLD, Yale, 1848, died.
  • Cyprian STRONG BRAINERD, Yale, 1850, a lawyer in New York.
  • Rev. Jacob HURD STRONG, Williams, 1854, pastor in New Preston, Oxford, and Torrington, Conn., and Soquel, Ferndale, Oakland, and Pescadero, Cal.
  • Emerson GILBERT CLARK, A.M., C. E., Union, 1876.
  • Adelbert Thomas Golden CLARK, A. M., C. E., Union, 1876.
  • Evelyn Marcelon ANDREWS, B. P., Yale, 1876.

Bridges


The first bridge over Salmon River, at Leesville, was built of wood, by Jonathan KILBOURN. This was in use many years, and was carried away by a flood. Previous to its construction, the crossing was by fording, some distance below. The second bridge was constructed of long and large spars of pine laud horizontally and spliced together, with iron bands around the splicing, which supported the floor. It was afterward strengthened by piers under the center, and it lasted many years. This was succeeded by a stone arch bridge, built by Col. Elijah BINGHAM and Silas BRAINERD, for $2,100. This fell when the temporary supports beneath were removed, from the arch being too crowning. The contractors put up on the same site another stone arch bridge, which stood two years and then fell in a great flood, before the time guaranty expired. They then built another stone arch bridge, which stood three years, and then fell. These different bridges were built at the expense of the towns of Haddam and East Haddam, Salmon River being the dividing line. At this juncture there was a disagreement between the towns, and the sheriff of the county was ordered by the Superior Court to build a wooden bridge on the same site at the expense of the two towns.

This was a beautiful structure, and stood many years. The frame and floor were arched, and the sides were protected by open work railing. This was in time succeeded by a heavy horizontal wooden bridge with high sides, constructed of a double series of plank placed at intervals, crossing each other diagonally, pinned together at each crossing, and boarded on the outside. The whole was covered by a shingle roof. It at length became weak, and was strengthened by the insertion of heavy arches, one at each side, from which suitable iron bolts at intervals extended downward and were fastened to the floor timbers.

The bridge, partly by its weight and the force of wind, had sagged down stream considerably, and to prevent this increasing long iron rods connected it with rocks and trees above. The eastern abutment was washed away in the great flood of March 1876, and the bridge fell and was carried down stream and broken up. That abutment had always been insecure from its not resting on a rock. A strong and beautiful iron bridge was built several rods below, in the summer of 1876, (from plans by George M. CLARK, of Higganum), with heavy stone abutments laid solid in cement, and resting upon a rock foundation on each side. The highway approaches on each side were changed and graded.

Post Office


The post office at Haddam Neck was established in 1853, by the appointment, as postmaster, of Samuel HOUSE, who kept the office in his dwelling house, on the corner near the Methodist Episcopal church. The mail was received on alternate days, and the mail route extended from Middletown to Moodus, 16 miles. Mr. HOUSE resigned in 1860, and Henry M. SELDEN, the present incumbent, was appointed December 30th 1860. He also keeps the office in his house, and one fourth of a mile south from its former location. The mail is received every day. The present mail route extends from Cobalt, on the Air Line Railroad, to Moodus, 11 miles.

The mail for the place was formerly received from the adjoining post offices.

Members of Legislature


The members of the Connecticut Legislature from Haddam, residing on the Neck, since 1776, have been:

Deacon Ezra BRAINERD Esq., Lieut. Josiah BRAINERD, Edward SELDEN, Esq., Capt. Elias SELDEN, Reuben R. CHAPMAN Esq., Ansel BRAINERD, Diodate BRAINERD, Capt. Charles S. RUSSELL, Capt. James S. SELDEN, Capt. Warren S. WILLIAMS, Chauncey ARNOLD, WASHINGTON K. SMITH, William F. BRAINERD, Francis A. HOUSE.

The Revolutionary War


In the spring of 1775, stirring news invaded these quiet regions.

One Sabbath morning, signal guns were heard announcing the beginning of the contest. Blood had been shed at Lexington and Concord, and there was a prompt response of pastor and people. He (Rev. Benjamin BOARDMAN) and others immediately left for the camp. Seventeen men are said to have gone from the Hill, where the old church stood, and from both the Haddam Neck and Chatham portions of the society young men and old went forth into the conflict to such an extent that scarcely enough were left to assist the women in securing the crops. Only a few of their names can now be recalled.

Of those from the Neck, serving in the army on engaged in privateering were: Freeman, Sergts. Jabez, Joseph, and Master Gunner Samuel Brown Prince ARNOLD; Asa, Lieut. Josiah, Dr. and Deacon Thomas, Cornelius, Jonathan jr., Lieut. Shubael, and Lieut. Simon BRAINERD; Capts. David and Samuel BROOKS; Reuben Rowley CHAPMAN, Esq., Nathaniel and probably Elihu and Jonathan COOK jr., Leveus EDDY, Isaac LOOMIS, Captain Elias SELDEN, James and Nathaniel STOCKING, and probably John SMITH. Of these, Freeman, baptized 26th 1764; Sergt. Jabez, baptized September 12th 1762, died at East Haven August 9th 1779, and Master Gunner Samuel B. F. ARNOLD, were brothers and sons of Jabez and Martha (freeman) ARNOLD, of the Neck. Joseph was a son of Dr. Joshua and Elizabeth ARNOLD, of the Neck. Asa, and it is believed Sergt. Simon jr., who was born November 9th 1752, and afterward became a captain, were sons of Simon and Hepzibah (SPENCER) BRAINERD. Lieut. Simon lived awhile in Chatham, but moved to the neck, where he built a house. Cornelius, born June 26th 1756 and Lieut. Shubael BRAINERD, born January 12th 1752, were sons of Abijah and Esther (SMITH) BRAINERD, of the Neck. Lieut. Shubael married Ruth, daughter of Capt. Abner STOCKING, of Middle Haddam, December 7th 1775, and moved to Higganum, probably to assist in the building of the Samson, and died in the Jersey prison ship at New York, June 4th 1782. Lieut. Josiah BRAINERD, born May 11th 1711, a son of William and Sarah (BIDWELL) BRAINERD, of the Neck, served also in the two preceding French and Indian wars, and was with Gen. Wolfe at the capture of Quebec. He married (1) Sarah and (2) Hannah SPENCER. Among his children were Deacon Ezra and Deacon Israel BRAINERD. He died July 8th 1792. Dr. and Deacon Thomas BRAINERD, born February 9th 1751, son of Nathan and Sarah (GATES) BRAINERD, of the Neck, was a surgeon in the army and a deacon in the Middle Haddam Congregational Church. He moved to Ludlow, Mass., in 1814, where he died. Jonathan BRAINERD, jr., baptized August 1st 1762, was a son of Jonathan and Elizabeth (STOCKING) BRAINERD, of the Neck. He died in the Jersey prison ship at New York about June 4th 1782. Capt. Samuel BROOKS, born January 20th 1745, was a son of Jabez and Eunice BROOKS, of the Neck. He commanded the privateer Harlequin, and went on many sea voyages, and was beloved by his men, who always fared as well as he did. He was a pleasant and genial man in peace, but in war a strong and determined fighter.

Reuben R. CHAPMAN, Esq., born October 15th 1758, only child of Robert and Mehetable (ROWLEY) CHAPMAN, of the Neck (who was a soldier in the French war, and served in one or more expeditions to Canada), Cornelius BRAINERD, Leveus EDDY, and Lieut. Simon BRAINERD, afterward a captain, were in the battle of Long Island. They, also, with perhaps the exception of Cornelius BRAINERD, but with the addition of Thamar ROWLEY, probably Ithamar, and a number from Middle Haddam, went on a privateering expedition to Long Island, to capture some goods stored by the British, of which they had been apprised by spies, who represented a probable easy capture. Arriving in the vicinity at night, they passed up a small creek and concealed their boat in the bordering bushes. After a careful reconnoisance [sic], they found the goods had been removed and a strong guard stationed around the house in wait for the expected invaders. The enemy had been informed of their intentions. They were discovered and with difficulty eluded their pursuers in the darkness. They ran to the woods, where they hid several days, and all finally escaped, but without booty. CHAPMAN afterward enlisted for the war as a trumpeter, but being an only child his parents procured a substitute in the person of John WEST, of East Hampton. He afterward served in the commissary department, during which he took a drove of fat beeves, for Gen. Henry CHAMPION, deputy commissary general, to Newport, for the supply of Count Rochambeau's forces. When a detachment of the latter passed through Lebanon and encamped on Taylor's Plains, in Portland, he visited them there.

He married Mary DOANE, of Middle Haddam, December 19th 1781; served many years as justice of the peace; three half years terms in the Legislature, and died August 3d 1846.

Jonathan COOK jr., soon of Jonathan and Deborah COOK, was baptized April 16th 1752. Isaac LOOMIS was wounded in the war, and said he should carry British lead in him to his grave. He resided on the rocks west of and near Leesville Bridge. "LOOMIS Rocks" are named from him. Captain Elias SELDEN, born August 22d 1758, a son of Captain Thomas and Rebecca (WAKLEY) SELDEN, was discharged for disability at White Plains, then a private, afterward a captain of militia. He married May 23d 1781, Ruth KIRBY, daughter of Deacon Joseph and Esther (WILCOX) KIRBY, of Cromwell, and died July 1st 1781. He was a brother of the celebrated Rev. David SELDEN, of Middle Haddam.

From the Chatham portion of the society as far as the data at hand shows were: Rev. Benjamin BOARDMAN, pastor of the Congregational church; Elijah and Abel ABELL, Thomas AIKENS jr., Major Jonathan BOWERS, Sergt. Othniel and Seba BRAINERD, Capt. Joseph DART, George CARY, Timothy CLARK, Seth DOANE sen., Timothy and Seth DOANE jr., Robert DINGWELL, Dolphin, a slave of Capt. Joseph DART; Leveus EDDY, William EXTON, Abijah FULLER sen., Richard FLOOD, a man by the name of GILBERT, Elijah GREEN, Capt. Joshua GRIFFITH, Heman, Moses, Seth HIGGINS sen., and Seth HIGGINS jr., Elihu and Sergt. Thomas HUBBARD, Capts. Joseph, Benjamin, and Jacob HURD (brothers), Seth KNOWLES, Richard MAYO jr., Daniel MORGAN, Elisha and John NILES. Rowland PERCIVAL, Nathaniel ROBERTS, Amos jr. and Nathaniel RICH, Capt. David and Michael SMITH, John SNOW, Lieut. John Harris STRONG, Capt. Abner STOCKING, Jesse SWADDLE, Elisha TAYLOR jr., Sergt Beriah WHEELER, Samuel YOUNG jr., and John Wright.

Of these, Thomas AIKENS jr., son of Thomas and Hannah (BRAINERD) AIKENS, was baptized June 2d 1754. Major Jonathan BOWERS, was a son of the Rev. Benjamin and Sarah (Newell) BOWERS, the first pastor of the church, baptized April 28th 1754, and wounded in the battle of Bennington. Elijah and Abel ABELL were brothers, and the former was wounded at Point Judith. Sergt. Othniel and Seba BRAINERD were sons of Othniel and Lucy (SWADDLE) BRAINERD, of Middle Haddam. The former was born September 19th 1755, and served seven years in the war, and died May 27th 1832. Seba was born April 14th 1763, and served some time during the latter part of the war, and became a colonel of militia, and died about 1845, aged 82. Capt. Joseph DART was probably a son of Cyrus. He served in the commissary department, and became a captain after the war.

Seth DOANE jr. and Timothy DOANE were brothers, and sons of Seth and Marcey DOANE, of Middle Haddam, and both baptized December 30th 1759. Seth DOANE jr. died at his father's in Middle Haddam, January 30th 1777, after he had returned from captivity. Elijah GREEN was a son of John and Rachel GREEN. Capt. Joshua GRIFFITH was father of Capt. Stephen. Timothy CLARK, son of Jonathan and Zilpah (BRAINERD) CLARK, of Middle Haddam, was baptized May 4th 1760, an officer on the Samson, was wounded and died in consequence. Deacon Jesse and Captains Joseph, Benjamin , and Jacob HURD were brothers, and sons of Jacob and Thankful (HURLBUT) HURD. Leveus EDDY, son of John and Elizabeth (BRAINERD) EDDY, was baptized June 14th 1759, resided at the time in Young street, in Chatham, but afterward moved to the Neck.

Capt. David SMITH was probably a son of Benjamin and Hannah SMITH, and born about 1738. Michael SMITH lost a limb in the service. He married and settled in East Hampton after the war, and could never speak of the British with any degree of complacency. Lieut. John Harris STRONG was a son of Joseph STRONG. He was one of the men engaged in the action at Stony Point, and endeavored to be the first who should pull down the ensign of St. George, that floated over the fortress. In this he was unsuccessful, but always affirmed that he aided the successful aspirant. He married Elizabeth CAREY after the war, and in 1811, removed to Euclid, Ohio, where, in 1817, he was chosen judge of the Court of Common Pleas, an office he held until his death, April 28th 1823. Jesse SWADDLE was a son of John and Susanna SWADDLE. Sergt. Beriah WHEELER, son of Moses and Rebecca WHEELER, was baptized May 6th 1759. Samuel YOUNG jr., son of Samuel and Rebecca YOUNG, was baptized July 7th 1745. Amos RICH jr., a son of Amos RICH (deceased at the time of the record) and Mary, his wife, was baptized February 4th 1754.

In the latter part of the year 1776, a number of men from this society, who had been kept as prisoners in the Jersey prison ship at New York, were released by exchange. They were told that their last meal before they went should be a good one. Savoury soup was set before them, and they all partook of it except one of two brothers named DOANE, from Middle Haddam Landing, who did not like onions, with which it was flavored, and who returned comparatively well. Of those who ate, all died, either on the way home, or soon after arrival, evidently the result of some slow poison introduced with their food. Jesse SWADDLE died in December, on the journey home. John SMITH and John SNOW, having crawled as far as Milford, there died I January 1777. Joseph ARNOLD also expired before reaching home, January 3d 1777. Seth DOANE jr. and Elisha TAYLOR jr. only reached their homes to lie down and die. Many of the people engaged in privateering in some degree, incited thereto both by their patriotism and the hope of better providing for their families. Among the masters of privateers residing in the Chatham portion of the society were: Capts. Joseph, Benjamin, and Jacob HURD, brothers; Joshua GRIFFITH, Seth DOANE, and Abner STOCKING. Their vessels hailed form New York.

Capts. Joseph and Benjamin HURD, with their brother, Deacon Jesse, were captured, and all confined in New York at the same time. Their other brother, Capt. Jacob HURD, was also captured and confined, but at another time.

Capt. Stephen GRIFFITH, a son of Capt. Joshua, was captured and confined in the Jersey prison ship, where he enjoyed some favor. His servant, by the name of RICH, while engaged in cooking for him, carefully extinguished the unconsumed fuel to use again, and was reproved for saving it by a petty officer on board. RICH replied with spirit claiming a right to do as he pleased with what he had gathered on the dock, and added, "I will attend to my business if you will to yours!" In the altercation, the officer struck RICH with his rapier, and in turn the latter emptied a dish of hot food into the bosom of the officer, burning him severely, and from the effects of which he died 12 days later. RICH was promptly placed under arrest, but on investigation the homicide was justified by the commanding officer. Capts. J. GRIFFITH, DOANE, and STOCKING were leaders in the Point Judith engagement.

In the general alarm felt throughout New England over the news of the approach of BURGOYNE's army from Canada to unite with Clinton's forces in New York-Colonel SAGE, of Middletown, raised a body of troops, or militia, to march to West Point; among whom was a company from Middle Haddam Society, under the command of Captain David SMITH, of Chestnut Hill, in Chatham. He was a fiery, impetuous man, who cared little for red tape, a man of great force of character, and proud of his talent as a swordsman. As they approached their destination, hungry and fatigued after their long march, they encamped without rations. Captain SMITH called on the commanding officer to learn the reason why they were not supplied, and was informed that the supply train had not arrived, and it was uncertain when it would. SMITH replied with such asperity, and said to SAGE: "I can pick a pin from your coat collar"; accused him of incompetency, and added: "My men came to fight, not to starve! If the supplies are not here to-morrow morning I shall then march my men back to their homes." The morning came, but not the supplies, and true to his word, SMITH marched his men home. His spirit is well illustrated by the following incident of another soldier.

Samuel PIERSON, a Revolutionary soldier, born in Wallingford, August 2d 1759, father of the late Ephraim PIERSON, of Haddam, and Mrs. Susan House, of Haddam Neck, now living at the age of 84-was, at the breaking out of the war, an impressed seaman on board of a British man-of-war, from which he escaped and joined the American army. During the latter service, while marching barefoot over the frozen ground, with his head inclined forward, the better to pick his way, he was reproved by an officer behind him, for not marching in an erect, soldier-like manner, and who at the same time struck him with his sword. PIERSON suddenly brought his musket back with such force, that the butt, striking the officer in the breast, knocked him down. He then wheeled and was about to pin him to the ground with his bayonet, and was only prevented by the efforts of his fellow soldiers.

He was arrested, tried by court martial, and sentenced to be shot. General WASHINGTON, hearing of the affair, had the prisoner brought before him, and on learning the particulars, asked him if he did not know it was death for a private to strike and officer. PIERSON replied with spirit: "I know it is death for an officer to strike me!" WASHINGTON immediately ordered his release, and a pair of shoes from his chest to be given him, and told him never to be without shoes again. He then reproved his officers, and charged them to be more careful and considerate for their men, adding, that such a soldier was too valuable to lose, and if he had a body of men like him he could pierce the enemy's center at any time. PIERSON at length fell into the enemy's hands, and as he was being marched away, unarmed, in charge of two of his captors, he managed under some pretext, to take off his shoes, and on approaching water he threw them away saying, "Catch me, if you can!" rushed for the water, swam away and escaped.

Aside from the regular sea voyages of the privateers, there were suddenly planned and executed, sortie-like adventures along the coast; prominent among which were several to Long Island for the capture of goods stored by the enemy, or persons high in rank for exchange; and, also, in watching the approach of the enemy's ships into the Sound, by the eastern route, with the intention of capturing such as they could. Among the latter was the affair off Point Judith, in the State of Rhode Island, and near the Connecticut line, not heretofore in print, and in which many of the men of Middle Haddam Society were engaged. They organized into six boat crews, consisting of from weight to ten men each. The boats were of the whale boat pattern, the stern constructed like the bow. A swivel was mounted in the bow of each and the crews were properly officered.

Among the several boat commanders, were: Capt. Samuel BROOKS, of Haddam Neck; Capts. Joshua GRIFFITH, Seth DOANE, and Abner STOCKING, of the Chatham part of the society; and Capt. SAGE, of Middletown. Arriving at Point Judith they hauled up their boats in a sheltered bay near by, where they encamped. A constant watch was kept from an eminence for the approach of the enemy's ships. One morning soon after their arrival, the camp was excited over the news of a strange sail seen in the offing, whose appearance was soon generally discussed. The rigging, some said, was like a man-of-war, others that her hull was like a merchantman. The conclusion being in favor of the latter, and to risk an attack, they were soon ready. As the ship drew near the boats put out from around the Point, advanced in succession to the rear, and fired their swivels in rapid rotation into the stern of the supposed merchantman, and retired to load and again take their turns in the attack. When the last had fired the ship wore around, raised a tarpauling covering from her sides, and greatly to their surprise disclosed a man-of-war with two rows of port-holes from which issued a broadside, harmless in effect, as the sea was high and they were so near the balls passed over their heads.

The attacking boats hastily withdrew, passed around the Point into the bay and out of range with such speed that the boat commanded by Captain BROOKS on striking the shore ended over and permanently lamed Elijah ABELL, one of its crew, and brother of Abel ABELL, who built ABELL's mill in Chatham. The other boats, coming in on top of a wave, were landed high on the shore. Unsatisfied, they mounted two of the swivels on the rocks and replied with vigor to the continued broadsides of the enemy. An artillery company happening in the neighborhood and, hearing the melee, hastened down and took a part in the engagement until the ship proceeded on her way. Although no prize was taken, no lives were lost. A prisoner on board of the ship at the time told them, after his release, that a ball from one of the boats passed through a closet in the captain's cabin and broke every dish there, and another ball struck the mizzen mast and passed half through it; that the captain was highly enraged, and said: "It was the most audacious proceeding he ever heard of, and if he could catch those fellows he would hang every one of them from his yardarm."

Capt. David BROOKS, a native of Higganum, and some of the time a resident of the Neck, where he married, was commander of the sloop-of-war, Samson, of which Shubael BRAINERD was first lieutenant, and Samuel B. P. ARNOLD was master gunner. Of the crew, Jonathan BRAINERD jr., Elihu COOK, James and Nathaniel STOCKING (supposed brothers-in-law of Capt. BROOKS), it is believed belonged to the Neck; and Timothy CLARK, Elijah GREEN, and William AIKENS, to Chatham. Timothy CLARK had some position on board. The Samson, built in Higganum, with a sharp bow for fast sailing, and carrying six or eight guns of from nine to twelve pounders, took several prizes and gained quite a reputation among friends and foes as a strong fighter. Among the different engagements of the Samson with the enemy was her battle by night with the Swallow, a British sloop-of-war of 20 guns, in the Sound and near New York. As the two vessels approached each other, the Samson was hailed for her name. The reply was "The Hornet!" The latter, a noted privateer from Philadelphia, had taken many prizes and was a terror to the enemy, who feared to contend with her unless with superior force. The engagement began and continued with great severity until the guns of each became unserviceable, and both vessels were leaking badly and in such a dangerous condition as to necessitate a mutual withdrawal for repairs. The Swallow retired into Cow Bay where she repaired. Spies informed the Samson when her late antagonist was ready to said, and she was off her port ready to meet her. In despair, the Swallow, was scuttled and sunk by her escaping crew. One of the officers of the Swallow remarked that he had rather contend with two Hornets than with one Samson.

The Samson, after important service in many an action with the enemy's ships, was captured in the English Channel, and her officers and crew confined in the jersey prison ship, where Captain BROOKS, Lieutenant BRAINERD, William AIKENS, Jonathan BRAINERD jr., Elihu COOK, Elijah GREEN, James and Nathaniel STOCKING (and how many more of its crew is unknown) all died in June 1782, as appears by the Middle Haddam church records, under well grounded suspicion of having been poisoned; all partaking of food which the master-gunner refused on account of the flavoring he disliked, and in consequence he alone survived. How many prisoners there were, from other ships and places, who had like experience and fate, is unknown. It was said that Cunningham, the steward of the prison ship, boasted that he had destroyed more rebels than the king's arms. Dr. FIELD, in his BRAINERD Genealogy, page 106, mentions the suspicion of administering of poison in liquor to the officers and crew of the Samson. This, written so much nearer the time, may appear more authentic than the above version given from tradition. The fact of the poisoning is of more importance than the method.

Timothy CLARK, who had some position on the Samson, was severely wounded in an engagement, and taken to the hospital at New London, for treatment, just before the attack on that place by the British. His father Jonathan on learning of his condition, hastened with Capt. Samuel BROOKS, down the river in a whale boat to bring him home. Arriving at New London, Col. LEDYARD, the commander of Fort Griswold, urged them to remain and assist in the defense of the fort, as he had not men enough-to which they consented, as a soon as they had taken their wounded charge to a place of safety. They placed him on a litter, carried him to their boat, and rowed up the river several miles and left him with a Mr. AVERY, where they armed and returned.

As they neared the fort, they climbed a tree to learn the condition there, and saw the British flag waving over it; there they remained until they saw the enemy leaving the fort for their shipping. Then they hastened onward and assisted in caring for their wounded, and burying the dead of the inhumanly massacred garrison. They then returned to their wounded charge and conveyed him home, where he finally died of his wounds.

The privateer Harlequin, commanded by Capt. Samuel BROOKS, of the Neck, and built later than the Samson, was also a high reputation and several prizes. Master Gunner Samuel B. P. ARNOLD, served successively on board of both vessels. While in this service he was severely wounded by copper shot fired by the enemy. On one occasion, when pursued by a ship of superior force, which carried more canvas than the Harlequin, the prospect of her capture was evidently only a question of time, unless stratagem prevented. Night was fast approaching, as the distance between pursuer and pursued constantly lessened. In the meantime Captain BROOKS had ordered an empty cask from the hold, which was then sawed in two, and a whip rigged across the bilge, supporting a mast in the center, all to the perplexity of the wondering crew. When it became sufficiently dark, a light was fastened to the mast of the tub, and it was lowered into the sea and cast adrift. Every light on the Harlequin was suddenly extinguished as she tacked on a new course. Not long after they heard with satisfaction the guns of the enemy firing at the decoy tub. This incidence, often related with great gusto by the master gunner, has since been used by the story writer in tales of sea prowess. It is related of Captain BROOKS that while in a certain port with the Harlequin, another American vessel arrived and reported having seen two British vessels headed apparently for another port. Upon being asked whey he did not attack them, the Captain replied: "That he was glad to escape, for either of them were larger and carried more guns than he did." Captain BROOKS sailed immediately for that port, and found the two vessels there, anchored side by side, a little distance apart, either of whom carried more guns than the Harlequin. With an audacity worthy of the celebrated Paul JONES, he ran his vessel between them, and opened rapid fire on each. They, fearful of injuring each other, replied with little effect, and he soon captured both.

As officers for drafting entered the old first meeting house on Hog Hill, one Sabbath, Jonathan BRAINERD sen., of the Neck, to avoid the draft, leaped from a second story window of the church to the ground, and striking on his feet, ran and escaped.

He took the death of his eldest son, Jonathan jr., who died in the prison ship, so sorely to heart, that he had a younger son, Jeremiah, an eccentric youth, recorded on the records of Haddam as a fool, to prevent his being drafted. He, smarting under the indignity, took his father down, as soon as he was able, and gave him a severe pounding. Jonathan BRAINERD sen. was born December 16th 1737, and married, first Elizabeth STOCKING, May 1st 1760. She died June 5th 1782, and he married, second Hope STRONG, of Middle Haddam, November 24th 1782. She was killed from being thrown from a frightened horse, and he married, third, Jerusha (CLARK) FIELDING, a daughter of Benajah CLARK, and widow of Timothy FIELDING, and died in 1825 or 1826, aged 88.

It appears that on the morning of the 10th of August 1779, an aged father appeared before the council and related his simple story. He stated that he had given five sons to the service of his country; that three of them had fallen in battle; that two were still in the army, and he came now before the council to ask that his sixth, and only remaining son-"the Benjamin of his old age"-who had recently been drafted, might be permitted to remain at home with him. The following is a copy of the record"

"TUESDAY, August 10th 1779

"On representation of Cornelius RICH, of Chatham that he has had five sons in the Continental Army; three of which are dead; killed in the service; one lately at Norwalk; that he has two more sons in ye army; one son only remaining with him, whom is lately detached in the Military service for one month, or five weeks, on ye sea coast; that his circumstances are such that he cannot part with, and has been detained till this time, praying his board that he may be excused from said service. This Board, in consideration of the particular, and almost singular circumstances of Mr. RICH's case, release his son from this detachment, and will direct his case be favorably considered for the future."

The son mentioned as being killed at Norwalk, was the Nathaniel RICH mentioned in the church record as being killed in the action at that place, July 11th 1779. He was wounded in the knee, and his comrades endeavored to carry him from the field during the retreat. As the British soldiers were near, and crowding our men fast, he begged of them to leave him and save themselves, as they could not take him without the greatest hazard. In the course of two hours the enemy retreated, and our men, returning, found RICH dead, with the top of his skull torn off, supposed to be blown off by a musket used to dispatch him. He was, in fact, brutally murdered. The names of the other two sons, that were killed in the service have not been recovered, but it is thought that the name of one was John. Mr. RICH is remembered to have had sons by the name of Nathaniel, John, Samuel, and Cornelius jr.

The following story was current for many years after the war: It was said that Gen. Henry CHAMPION stationed a guard as some distance from Fort Stanwix (now Rome, N.Y.). probably during the advance of BURGOYNE's army, with Lieut. John Harris STRONG, of Middle Haddam, son of Josiah, as commander. They were to be relieved in 24 hours. The time had long passed and they in their hunger felt obliged to detail several of their number to seek supplies. While these were away relief came; the absentees were reported and ordered by CHAMPION to be whipped. The commanding general on hearing of the affair sent a reprieve in order to learn the particulars more fully. This was said to have been in the pocket of CHAMPION while the punishment was inflicted. Henry GOSLEE, one of the victims, on learning the facts, swore vengeance, and declared he would kill CHAMPION on opportunity. After the war was over they met in one of the stores in Colchester. They instantly recognized each other, but CHAMPION was shy of the wronged man, and quickly withdrew. GOSLEE followed him into the yard and struck him a violent blow across the abdomen with a sharpened end of a hoop-pole-a stick about two feet long-cutting a long gash from which his bowels protruded. CHAMPION, clasping his hands around himself, mounted his horse, rode to his home in Westchester, had the wound sewed up and finally recovered. GOSLEE in the meantime escaped and was not arrested.

War of 1812


Among the soldiers from the Neck engaged in the war of 1812-14 were: Captain Roswell BRAINERD, Ansel BRAINERD, Lester BRAINERD, Porter SMITH. David YOUNG, Elijah YOUNG. It was during the war of 1812-14, that several young men and boys, among whom was Oliver B. ARNOLD, of the Neck, went early one Sunday morning to the river to bathe, near a fish place, at Middle Haddam Landing. They saw in the distance a fleet of small fishing vessels coming up the river. It was at a time when a rumor was current that spies occasionally passed up the river in vessels, the better to avoid observation, in their endeavor to gain information. Perhaps influenced by this consideration in some degree, but more by a desire for fun, they quickly mounted on the capstan of the fish place several eel pots lying around, which from their size and shape resembled cannon. A dense fog coming on helped the illusion. A fire was kindled, and a long handled torch prepared and lighted. As the vessels came near, Neil GOFF, the captain of the party, waved his wooden sword over his head, and hailed them without effect.

He then, in a loud voice, ordered, "Prepare to fire!" The blazing torch was waved, and at his second hail the vessels came to and answered every question promptly, gave their number, freight, port, and destination. One of the questions was : "If they had seen any suspicious vessels?" Captain GOFF, apparently satisfied, told them they might proceed. One of them, as if in apology, remarked: "We didn't know that you fortified up here."

Oliver BROOKS ARNOLD, one of the party, born November 25th 1797, a grandson of Captain Samuel BROOKS, of privateer fame, and now residing on the Neck, and in his 87th year, contributed this and several incidents of the Revolutionary war included in the sketch of Haddam Neck, and the ecclesiastical society of Middle Haddam.

War of the Rebellion


Among those from Haddam Neck who served in the Union army during the great Rebellion were: Sergeant Luther N. ARNOLD, David ANDREWS, Evelyn M. ANDREWS, ____ Attwell, Morris B. BRAINERD, George W. BRAINERD, John L. BRAINERD, SMITH B. GILLETTE, Phineas L. HYDE, Sergeant Newton MORGAN, Ellsworth RUSSELL, Stephen M. RUSSELL, Henry M. SELDEN, Henry M. SMITH. Of these, Sergeant MORGAN died at home from wounds received at Port Hudson. Evelyn M. ANDREWS and Sergeant J. H. SELDEN were wounded, on account of which they are pensioners, the latter losing an eye.

Phineas L. HYDE and Henry M. SELDEN are pensioners for injuries received I the service.

Literary Circle


The young people of Middle Haddam and Haddam Neck organized a society for mutual improvement, October 1st 1861 called the "Literary Circle." This was popular and successful and accomplished much good. It continued eight years. Its meetings were held semi-monthly, and varied with music and literary exercises. A manuscript paper, composed of original articles by the members, was read by an editor at each meeting.

Venture SMITH


A remarkable negro formerly lived here, named Venture SMITH. Several editions of his autobiography-a pamphlet of 24 pages-have been published, from which it appears he was born at Dukandara, in Guinea, about 1729, and was a son of Saungm Furro, king of the tribe of Dukandara, and named by him Broteer. The king was six feet and six or seven inches in height, two feet across the shoulders, and well proportioned. He was a man of remarkable strength and resolution, affable, kind, and gentle, ruling with equity and moderation. He descended from a large, tall, and strong race, exceeding the average of men. When Broteer, or Venture, as he was afterward called, was in his seventh year, the territory of his father was invaded by a warlike tribe from a distance of upward of 140 miles, and beyond an intervening desert. The enemy were supplied with musical instruments, guns, and other arms of modern use, and instigated, supplied, and equipped by some white nation to subdue the adjacent countries probably in the interest of slavery. Their army consisted of about 6,000 men, whose leader was called Baukurre. The old king, unable to resist the invaders, retreated, and was captured and tortured to death.

They immediately marched towards the sea with their captives, among who was the subject of this sketch, who was made waiter to the leader, and had to carry his gun.

On the march he had to carry on his head a large flat stone, used for grinding corn, which weighed about 25 pounds, besides carrying victuals and cooking utensils.

After a series of adventures in capturing other tribes on their way, as described in the biography, they in turn were overcome and captured by a tribe on the sea coast, who appropriated all the accumulated booty to their own use, and retained the captives for market as slaves.

Young Broteer, with other prisoners, was taken to a ship, then in port from Rhode Island, commanded by Capt. COLLINGWOOD, whose mate was Thomas MUMFORD, and he was sold to Robertson MUMFORD, the steward, for four gallons of rum and a piece of calico, and called Venture, on account of the transaction being a private venture on the part of the steward.

The number of slaves purchased for the cargo was 260. Venture was taken to Fisher's Island, where he remained about 14 years, subjected to many trials and oppressions, where he married a fellow slave. He had in the meantime developed into a tall, broad shouldered man of gigantic strength. His height, without shoes, was six feet one and one-half inches, and his breadth was such that tradition says his custom was to turn sidewise in passing through an ordinary door. He was soon after sold to Thomas STANTON, of Stonington Point, who sent him two miles after a barrel of molasses, and ordered him to bring it home on his shoulders. He managed to carry it the entire distance.

To test his strength he took upon his knees a tierce of salt containing seven bushels, and carried it two or three rods, in the presence of several witnesses. He was next sold to Hempstead MINER, of Stonington, who soon after sold him to Col. Oliver SMITH, who more generous than the former owners, gave Venture the opportunity of gaining his freedom by working for others and paying him the privilege. Here, out of respect to this master, he added SMITH to his name.

Venture was then 31 years of age, and by his great industry and frugality he earned his freedom in the succeeding five years, and for which he paid Col. SMITH 71 and 2 shillings, besides paying for the privilege of working away. In this period, he worked awhile on Long Island, where, in six months, he cut and corded 400 cords of wood, and threshed 75 bushels of grain.

His next ambition was to purchase the freedom of his wife and three children, which he eventually accomplished, besides buying the freedom of three other men. In about 1778, when 49 years of age, his disposed of his property on Long Island and moved to East Haddam, where he worked for several persons, among whom were Timothy CHAPMAN and Abel BINGHAM. Anecdotes of his renown here as a wood-chopper are still current. While here he purchased land on Haddam Neck, near Salmon River Cove, and just below and opposite the mouth of Moodus River, to which he soon removed, and made subsequent purchases of land adjoining, until he owned over one hundred acres of excellent land and three dwelling houses.

During his residence at Haddam Neck, he owned, at different times, of boats, canoes, and sail vessels, twenty or more. These he employed mostly in fishing and trafficking, often cheated by those with whom he traded taking advantage of his ignorance of numbers. Notwithstanding he was often wronged, he maintained his own integrity, and left a name for truth and uprightness that was never tarnished, and of which he was ever proud.

In later years he became almost blind, and was led about by a grandchild. His autobiography, as related by himself, and clothed in appropriate language by a citizen of East Haddam, was first published in 1798, when he was 69 years of age, appended to which was a certificate of his high character, dated Nov 3d 1798, and signed by Nathaniel MINOR Esq., Elijah PAMMER Esq., Captain Amos PALMER, Acors SHEFFIELD, and Edward SMITH, citizens of Stonington, Conn.

This was reprinted in 1835, copies of which are now so scarce it is hoped that some of his descendants will publish another edition. Venture died a few years after the publishing of his narrative.

Venture died September 19th 1805, in the 77th year of his age, and was buried in the cemetery by the Congregational church. The following inscription is copied from his tombstone:

"Sacred to the memory of Venture SMITH, African, though the son of a King, he was kidnapped and sold as a slave, but by his industry he acquired money to purchase his freedom who died Sep. 19th 1805 in ye 77th year of his age."

"Sacred to the memory of Marget SMITH relict of Venture SMITH who died Dec. the 17th A.D. 1809, in the 79th year of her age." It is said that as the pallbearers were carrying the body of Venture to its burial, a distance of some three miles from his late home on the Neck, to the cemetery as the Congregational Church in East Haddam, they felt the heaviness of their load so much (Venture was a very large and heavy man) as to cause one of them to remark, "We ought to have gone twice for our load."



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