HISTORY OF THE TOWNS OF
NEW MILFORD AND BRIDGEWATER,
CONNECTICUT, 1703 - 1882,
BY SAMUEL ORCUTT.

[Transcribed by Richard Clarke]






THE PLANTATION.


A GIRL of only eight years of age, coming into the deep wilderness with her father, was the queen of the first household of white persons established in the territory, which, for one hundred and seventy- eight years, has been known by the name of New Milford. John Noble, Sen. was that father, who, being a resident of Westfield, Massachusetts, on the 22d day of June, 1706, purchased of Richard Bryan, of Milford, fifteen on the list of proprietors, his original hundred and fourth part of the undivided territory then recently bought of the Indians and named as above, lying in the dense, sublime, primitive forests, nearly on the western border of Connecticut, where, unto that clay, none but the wild Indian had made a habitation for the rest and security of man. On the same day his son John Noble, Jr., bought a "Right" of John Woodruff, it having been the right originally of James Fenn, who stood number seventy on the list of the original proprietors of the plantation.

In the next spring or summer, 1707, John Noble, Sen., called in his deed "planter," made his way through the wilderness in company with his little daughter Sarah, and took up his habitation among the Indians, in one of the most picturesque localities in the valley of the Housatonic River, known then for more than forty years, in the Indian language, as Weantinock. He at first built a " hut " at the foot of Fort Hill, a little to the north of the Indian burying-place, where the cellar or excavation is still to be seen, and where he dwelt with his daughter while he built a commodious house at the south end of the "Town plat."

Concerning this first inhabitant, the Rev. Stanley Griswold, pastor of the first Congregational Church at this place, in a century sermon delivered in i8oi, makes the following statement:

"The first white settler who came to this town was John Noble, from Westfield, Mass., who came here in the year 1707. He brought with him at first one of his daughters, then about eight years old. He first built a hut under what is called Fort Hill, but afterwards moved, and pitched here in the centre of the town. His house here was for some time the last house on this side of Albany, and General Nicholson once lodged in it during the reign of Queen Anne. It deserves to be mentioned to the credit of the natives, that Mr. Noble once left his little daughter, then eight years old, with them for the space of three or four weeks, while he was necessarily absent from the town, and on his return found she had been well treated and taken exceeding good care of. Another daughter of his, the late Mrs. Margaret Hine, who died here in the 93d year of her age, was then three years old, and the fact was fresh in her memory, as she had heard it while young, though she herself was not yet brought hither."

In the following February a record was made: "The second lot on the Plain, at the South end of the hill, on the east side of the street at New Milford is Thomas Smiths, seven acres and a half, bounded south with John Noble's, the town street west, undivided land east, and with the next lot north, being sixty rods in length and twenty in breadth. Feb. 21, 1707-8." Mr. Noble did not settle on this lot for he had already built a house on the opposite side of the street further south.

Tradition speaks of the hut where the daughter was cared for while her father was absent a short time, as an " Indian's hut" but inasmuch as Indians seldom, if ever, build their huts in the side of a hill, certainly no others in New Milford, and since John Noble did this site now visible must be that of Mr. Noble's first house in the wilderness. It is a very gratifying fact that a copy of a letter written in 1796 by Sherman Boardman, son of the Rev. Daniel Boardman, is still preserved, for by it some dates and items of history are preserved which are nowhere else to be found. Some of this letter may he found in the Indian history part of this work and that which relates to the first settler here is as follows

"An anecdote is related of John Noble the settler, who, when he first came to labor here, brought his little daughter Hannah, about eight or nine years old, to cook his victuals. He built a palisade' house at the foot of the hill where the Indian fort stood, where he lived with his little daughter some time, until some gentlemen came to him and requested him to pilot them through the woods to Albany, one hundred miles distant, when he left his little daughter in care of a squaw, fourteen miles from any white people, and was absent two or three weeks; when he returned he found her kept very neat and clean. Such was his confidence in the care and friendship of the Indians. This I have often heard her relate, as she was my School Dame. After this Mr. Noble removed to this Side of the river and built a log-house, secured as a fort a great many years for the white people; as the Indians had a stockade fort on the west side. To either of these forts the People came for shelter in an alarm during Queen Anne's war. General Nicholson lodged in this house (which was the last house on this side of Albany) on his expedition to Wood Creek where he built Fort Ann."

This second house of John Noble, Sen., stood on the site of the present dwelling of Col. Charles D. Blinn, and apparently must have been erected in the autumn of 1707 or spring of 1708, for, in the petition of the inhabitants to the General Assembly in October, 1711, it is said, "since the time of our first settlement, which is about three years;' and if this was true, then several of these twelve families took up their residence here in the spring or summer of 1708, and some of them erected their houses further north, or towards Albany, than was that of John Noble, Sen. In February, 1708, John Noble, Jr., was here and made a selection of his home lot. He did not come with his father at first, and hence, probably, did come with his mother and the family in the autumn of 1707; and if these conclusions are the truth, as they appear to be, then, also, the log-house of John Noble, Sen., was built in the autumn of 1707 or in the spring of 1708.

How Mr. Noble made his way through the wilderness with his little daughter, at first, is unknown, but it is quite certain that it was with difficulty and persevering exertion. For sixty years there had been a path from Hartford to Farmington, and for twenty or more, from Farmington to Waterbury and Woodbury, and from the last place to New Milford there could have been only the uncertain and probably untraceable path of the Indian. There is something charming, however, in his bringing his little daughter with him into the deep wilderness. He left at home a family of nine children, if they were all still living, and one only a year old but since, to a father in his absence from home, a daughter is a far better representative of home, although requiring more attention and care than a son, he brought with him his little daughter Sarah. What could she do, an eight-year-old child, in the great wilderness? Ah! She could make the wilderness seem like home to him, so that his heart would not fail him, while he should toil to build a habitation for those he had left behind. But it is said the little girl came "to cook his victuals. What, a woman at eight years of age! No wonder that she became the "School Dame" of Sherman Boardman, twenty years later;-and very probably, the first school dame, or teacher, in the township.

Romance has never painted a picture more perfectly true to the heart of a father, or to the charming bravery of a young daughter of only eight years, than is found in the history of the settlement of the first family in the beautiful township of New Milford.

The second family that settled here was that of John Bostwick, according to the papers of the late Judge David S. Boardman.

To secure the right of permanent homes, the early settlers of New England found two things important to be obtained, the authority of the state (in whatever form it might be) and the purchase of the right of the soil from the natives. These they generally attended to with great carefulness, and by repeated payments for the same territory, and these two items were completed for New Milford by a company of one hundred and nine persons from l\Milford. Situated on the shore of Long Island Sound, Milford (sometimes called "Old Milford" by way of distinction) had sent out several colonies to form plantations, or civil organizations, into the wilderness parts of the country. First, a number of her families removed to Stratford; next, ten men, as a company, purchased a tract of land at Paugassett, afterwards named Derby, and made a settlement there; then another company established the plantation of Woodbury. Several families joined with a company from near Boston in the settlement of Setauket, Long Island; others became interested in and removed to a settlement in the state of Delaware in connection with the New Haven company, and finally the New Milford Company was organized, and the deed from the natives obtained.

Several efforts had been made, previous to 1700, to establish a plantation in this part of the colony. In May, 1670, the General Court granted liberty to "Capt. Nathan Gould, Mr. Jehu and John Burr, to purchase Weantenock and the lands adjacent, of the Indians, to make a plantation if it be capable for such a thing," and a committee was appointed by the same authority. Soon after this a purchase was made of the Indians under this grant, of over 26,000 acres of land lying on both sides of the river, here at Weantinock, but nothing further was accomplished. This was the purchase wherein Col. John Read became interested.

In 1675 the General Court sent a committee to see if the country here was large enough for two plantations, but no report of that committee has been seen.

In 1677, "Scantamaug of Wyantenuck having made complaint of Henry Tomlinson buying land of theirs in a private way to their prejudice &c.,' the General Court sent the case for a hearing to the Fairfield Court, which case was decided in favor of Mr. Tomlinson.

Again, in 1678, the Court granted to "the Hon. Dept. Gov. Major Robert Treat with Mr. Bryan, Sen. or Junior, Capt. John Bird, Lt. Samuel Eells, liberty to view and buy convenient land for a plantation in those adjacent places about Potatuck, Weantenuck or thereabouts"; but this company made no purchase here.



LANESVILLE


QUIETLY sits the village with the above name on the Great Plains about half a mile west of the Great Falls. It consists of a few sparsely located farmhouses, one small store, and two old mills. The days of its first greatness have passed away.

The first work of civilization at the locality now called Lanesville, the falls on Still River, was the building of the first gristmill in the town by John Griswold and William Gould about 1717. Previous to this some of the land had been laid out along Still River for meadows. Mr. John Griswold's dwelling-house seems to have been located on the east side of the Housatonic, two miles above the Falls, a little south of the residence of the late A. S. Rogers, where he died in 1719, and where a large proportion of his seventy acres, given him for building the mill, were located.

Capt. John Warner began work on his farm on the Danbury road in 1725 at the corner where the Methodist meeting-house was erected about one hundred years later; and about three years later his brother, Joseph Warner, settled a little further south on the same road and Joseph Wailer, at the same time and place. Capt. John Warner's farm was located adjoining the lower end of the Common Field, the east and west fence of that field crossing the valley at the north side of his farm, the corner of the field and the south gate being at the foot of the bill west of his dwelling-house.

Ezekiel Buck was the next settler in this immediate locality, about 1725 or 6, and in 1734 a school was established for a part of the year, for these families, as may be seen in Chapter XV of this book, the school-house being located at the corners, at Capt. John Warner's.

In 1733 the settlement began at what is called the Iron Works in Brookfield.

The settlers more generally preferred to locate on the hills, and hence the plain was left very much to the occupancy of the inhabitants of the town for meadow lands, until about 1740, when the settlers began to increase more rapidly on the adjoining hills, and gradually on the plains.

Still River Neck, or the elevated land between the lower part of Still River and the Housatonic River, was taken up quite early after the Iron Works were commenced in 1733, and next followed Wood Creek Hill, called afterwards Beers' Hill, and more recently Carman's Hill. The elevated land called Still River Neck included what was called Pumpkin Hill, Great Buck Hill, and Prospect Hill, and some considerable portion of this ridge was called for many years Long Meadow, and is still known by that name. At the foot of Pumpkin Hill, on the west side, Lazarus Ruggles settled about 1755, and afterwards he erected the Iron Works at the falls in Lanesville. In 1757 Samuel Brownson, Jr., seems to have owned the mill at Lanesville, perhaps a saw-mill only, which had been built by John Griswold, Sen., in 17'17, or he may have built one there himself.

In 1769 a school district was organized in that vicinity, including, probably, all families on the east side of the plain, who were very few, perhaps none but Lazarus Ruggles, but compassing quite a number on the east side of the Housatonic River.

"Voted, that there shall be a district for a school, beginning at Lazarus Ruggles', including him ; then cross the river, taking in Ebenezer Hotchkiss and his sons, and Lemuel Bostwick, Isaac Bostwick, Richard Bristol, Josiah Smith, Jr., Ezra Merchant, John Oviatt, John Wilkinson, Noah Brownson, Eunice Clark, Joseph Bostwick, Lewis Wilkinson, Abel Gillett, Abraham Smith, Caleb Terrill, Jr.'

Several families had been residing on the road from Lanesville to Wood Creek meadows, before 1760, at which time Silas Hill purchased the farm of John Prindle, who had been residing there near his brother Samuel some years.

Capt. Lazarus Ruggles, son of Capt. Joseph, was born in 1730, and became an influential farmer about 1760. He resided a time after his marriage at the Iron Works in Brookfield, but purchased the Orange Warner farm in Still River Neck, where he afterwards resided, and which farm is still known by his name. In 1775 Capt. Ruggles bought of John Buck, for L150, about fifty acres of land at Still River Falls-north side-now Lanesville, with a dwelling-house and barn, and on this land he erected Iron Works soon after. In January, 1783, he farm-rented these with nine acres of land, consisting of the "Iron Works, two coal houses, a saw mill, and blacksmith shop," to Richard Fairman, Esq., and Eli Dunning, both of Newtown, for the term of 999 years, on condition that a gristmill should not be erected on these premises, and if it should be, the damages to be recovered by him should be L2000; and Mr. Ruggles was not to build a gristmill on the same stream under a like penalty. The object in these bonds seems to have been to secure a monopoly of gristmill work at the Little Falls on the Housatonic, where he had built, or did build soon after that time, a gristmill.

Capt. Lazarus Ruggles obtained from his farm and Iron Works a comfortable, but not a sumptuous subsistence for himself, wife, and thirteen children, and enough to give his children such an education and cultivation as to place them in the first rank in society and the enterprises of the times, so that but few families of the town have distinguished themselves more in public positions and social life than his. The members of this family were distinguished for their helpfulness toward each other; all the children growing to years of maturity except the second, a daughter, who died young. Mr. Ruggles died in 1797, aged 66 years, at which time his daughter Hannah was 17 years of age, she being one of the most beautiful young ladies of whom the town could ever boast. His son David died when about 20 years of age, a prisoner in the British army on Long Island in the Revolution. Philo Ruggles was the son next to David, and he was 32 years of age when his father died, and he became a lawyer of prominence, first in New Milford, then in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and afterwards in New York City.

Capt. Joseph Ruggles, an elder brother of Lazarus, was also a prominent citizen, a large land-holder, and an energetic business man. In May, 1787, he purchased of Eli Dunning half of the Iron Works at Lanesville, and in May, 1789, he bought of Reuben Booth half of the mill property at Little Falls. This consisted of a "gristmill, and a saw-mill, and dam, and bolting [works], clothes-mill irons, casks, measures, &e., belonging to both mills." This property Reuben Booth purchased of Lazarus Ruggles the day before he sold the half to Joseph Ruggles, and the partnership continued ten years, until Joseph Ruggles sold his half to Jared Lane, and Mi. Booth died one year later. Capt. Joseph Ruggles died in 1802, aged 71 years.

Jared Lane was born in 1745, and married in New Milford, Aphia, daughter of Lazarus Ruggles, in 1786. One tradition says he was born in England, another that he was nephew to Partridge Thatcher, and if so was probably from Lebanon, Ct.

In 1787, one year after his marriage, he is said, in a deed, to have been of Sheffield, Mass., when he took a mortgage of Abel Weller on land near the Indian field, which land came into his possession a few years later. In 1789, he is said in a deed to be of Sharon, when he bought of John Carpenter land and a dwelling-house in New Milford for 190. The same year he purchased of his father-in-law Lazarus Ruggles fifty acres of land with a dwelling-house, "in Still River Neck," which was in earlier times a part of the Orange Warner farm; and is still known as the Jared Lane homestead. He was successful in farming and became an influential citizen, being a representative several terms in succession.

He introduced, it is said, the Lombardy poplar trees as an ornamental shade tree; had a nursery to raise them for himself and for sale to the people of the town. Mr. William Wanzer tells the story of giving two young apple-trees for one poplar tree, and imagines now that he paid dear for his tree. At one time Mr. Lane's farm had a row of poplars round it, and a picturesque appearance they must have exhibited when seen from Wood Creek Hill. Between 1800 and 1820, the poplars spread over the town in great profusion, and they are still seen occasionally, so poorly clad with leaves as to be a disgrace to all other trees, for the trees of New Milford, as well as the people, are prone to the wearing of an elegant outfit of magnificent apparel. The splendor of this dark foliage contrasted with the lighter shades of the variegated fields of grass and grain, as seen from the top of Mount Tom, Town Hill, Carman's Hill, Guarding Mountain, Great Hill, or many other points of elevated observation, is scarcely surpassed by that of any other town in the state of Connecticut.

The old Lombardy poplars have passed away from the Lane homestead, as have also the once well-known occupants of that estate; but two tows of grand maples, in the strength of vigorous and luxurious growth, approaching the zenith of age, now adorn both sides of the ancient highway passing the renewed mansion which is still in the possession of the heirs of Jared Lane and Lazarus Ruggles. Long may they spread their branches to wave a welcome to the succeeding descendants of Doctor, Amaziah Wright and the United States Senator, the Hon. Elijah Boardman. The voice of the soft summer breeze, waving the spreading branches of these new trees in the place of the old, whispers in the silent moonlight, the never-ending story, "all things pass away, and all things are made new." Jared Lane had two daughters and one son; one of these, Maria Aphia, born in 1787, grew to be a noted young lady, sustaining the high honor of the old Ruggles home-stead for elegance of personal appearance and cultivation, and when Doctor. Amaziah Wright, from Lebanon, Ct., came to this town, the young lady's graces pleased him so well, that he sought and won her as his bride in 1809. They removed to Poughkeepsie, and in a few years to New York City, where the doctor was successfully engaged in his profession until just before the close of his life, when he came to the old Lane homestead as a relief from business life, where he soon after died.

Anne Ayre Lane, the other daughter of Jared, married a lawyer of Poughkeepsie, who was afterwards noted in fame as Judge Hiram Paine Hunt of Troy, N. Y. He was in Congress from 1835 to 1843, and afterwards was judge of the United States Circuit Court of N. Y.

William Jared Lane, son of Jared, born in 1789, studied law in early life; possessed fine reasoning faculties and great cultivation of taste, especially in the fine arts. He was cashier of the Fulton Bank of New York city many years, holding a very high standing among the business men of that city. A few of his last years he spent in New Milford, where he died. His son, Thaddeus H. Lane, born in 1821, held office sometime in the Fulton Bank; then held office some years in the New York courts, but returned to New Milford, where he died. Susan Maria Lane, daughter of William J., married Col. Milton Cogswell of the U. S. Army. He graduated at West Point Academy; served there as professor; served in the late war and was taken prisoner at Ball's Bluffs and remained in Richmond some time. He was for a brief period, between superior officers, commandant at Governor's Island, N. Y., in I865, and in 1869 he commanded at Charlestown, S. C., as military governor. He held office under President Hayes at the Soldiers' Home in Washington, D. C., from 1877 to i88i, where he still remains.

A perusal of the genealogy of this family reveals the fact that they have occupied socially, professionally, and officially a very remarkably high position, and quite many of its members have enjoyed a most brilliant life career.

There was cherished in the home of Lazarus Ruggles another daughter who became celebrated for her beauty and loveliness and the high position of her family. This was Hannah, the youngest child, born in 1780, and reared on the old farmer's homestead.

About 1790, New Milford became famous for the elegance of its social parties, and the attractions of its many well-cultivated young people. The law-school of Judge Reeve of Litchfield took particular notice of this fact, for Reynolds Marvin, Esq., one of the professors in that far-famed institution, won as his bride Ruth Welch, the accomplished daughter of the wealthy Paul Welch, Esq., of New Milford, some years before, and the social relations between Litchfield and New Milford were very cordial. About the year 1795, there was a student in that law-school who came to New Milford with a company of young people to attend a ball, where he met the youngest daughter of Jared Lane, whom he thought the most beautiful and charming young lady he had ever seen, the consequences of which were that he, Samuel Hawkins, and Hannah Lane were married some few years later. Samuel Hawkins is said to have possessed a remarkably elegant personal presence and brilliant intellectual qualities. Tradition says he was born in England; came to America when four years of age; was stolen by the Indians and retained by them for a time, who, being charmed with his fair features and golden curls, they named him the "Golden Lily," and were very kind to him, treating him as a little king, until he was returned to his home. Mr. Hawkins and his young bride settled in New York, where great favor was bestowed upon them by the elegant society of that growing city. In the war of 1812, he received the appointment of colonel, and became a great favorite in the army and afterwards as a politician resided in Washington, D. C., where his wife became celebrated as the belle, or most beautiful woman of that city, and where he himself established a wide political influence, and was the personal friend of Gen. Andrew Jackson, but did not live to see him president of the United States, in 1828. Mr. Hawkins died, leaving a widow and five children. The subsequent career of his sons was brilliant, far beyond the attainments of ordinary mortals. Such are but a few of the outlines of the history of one of the descendants of one of the early families of the town of New Milford.

Silas Hill, born in Massachusetts, came to New Fairfield; enlisted in the French war; served about one year, and in 1760 purchased of John Prindle a farm and dwelling-house on Wood Creek road, where Mr. Charles Hatch now resides, and made himself known during thirty years as one of the most energetic farmers of that part of the town. He was a little eccentric; resolute, even to roughness; enterprising to his own cost. He was engaged very much during twenty years in buying and selling land, there being, perhaps, not over a half dozen men in the town in his day who bought and sold more acres than he. He became more celebrated by a little circumstance than for all the hard work he did in forty years. There was a little brook running from near his dwelling, across the plain, to Still River, and on it he erected a small saw-mill for his own convenience; but when the mill was built he could not raise the water to a sufficient height to obtain fall enough to make the mill go. This failure of the mill set all the poets at work, and, after a great amount of grinding out of poetry, the following lines were ordained for the age of Methuselah:

"Silas Hill built a mill On Pinchgut sandy plain; There was no water in a mile and a quarter Except there came a rain, A chipping squirrel in his cheeks Could carry corn enough to grind six weeks.''

This mill was located on Three Mile Brook, and this poetry was not exactly truthful, since there was abundance of water for two or three months in the year to carry an ordinary mill, the only difficulty being that it was on a level plain; and hence no fall to secure power.

Mr. Hill was not lacking in shrewdness in business transactions and the saving of money, while he 'was also quite generous when the spirit came upon him. Having traded horses on Sunday with Gaius Norton, both were brought before the court for Sabbath breaking, when Mr. Norton, being called upon to plead, said, "Not guilty," meaning that he felt no guilt for what he had done. The court therefore proceeded to try him, and fined him with a large amount of cost. Mr. Hill, seeing how the matter went with Norton, when they called on him to plead, said: "Guilty, guilty, guilty as the devil." Upon which the court announced only the small amount of fine for breaking the Sabbath, without any costs, which was very gratifying to Mr. Hill.

When he built his mill-pond, he said he would eat the first thing that should be caught in the pond, supposing it would be some kind of fish; but the first thing was a water-snake, and, true to his word, he had a piece cooked, and he ate some of it; but the thoughts of what kind of fish it was deranged his appetite so that he ate very little, yet that little made him fearfully sick, and he was made sensible that it was a fortunate thing that his appetite failed so soon.

Nicholas Wanzer a little time before 1800, then of New Fairfield, erected the frame of a grist-mill, but found that a proper dam, when constructed, would overflow a large amount of meadow-land, which he did not like to lose; therefore he took down his frame, brought it to New Milford, and, in connection with Daniel Sherwood, erected it at the Great Falls, on the Housatonic River.

It has been supposed that Mr. Wanzer's mill was the first erected at the Great Falls; but the records show that Capt. Isaac Bostwick had a grist-mill there about twenty years before; which, when he lost his property by being county tax collector, immediately after the Revolutionary War, fell into the hands of the town of New Milford, and was afterwards sold to Reuben Booth and Reuben Bostwick (son of Capt. Isaac). Silas Hill bought the Reuben Bostwick half of this property in 1792, and gave it to his son, Silas Hill, Jr., in 1794, it consisting of a grist-mill, dwelling house, barn, and nineteen acres of land, lying between Still River and the Housatonic River. This property was rented some years by Daniel and Reuben Sherwood.

It is said that Cornelius McMahon was the engineer who blasted out the channel in the bed rock of the river, at the west end of the falls, for the accommodation of the mill,-the channel which has been much observed as long as any person remembers, but which by recent operations has disappeared.

Nicholas Wanzer held an important place at Lanesville in business transactions for a number of years. His store was at the four corners now occupied as a dwelling by Doctor Knowles.

Daniel Sherwood engaged with Nicholas Wanzer in the grist-mill at the Great Falls. It being a part of the business to ship grains and corn-meal to distant ports, and having had good success, he ventured to load a ship at Bridgeport, in connection with a Mr. Hubbell, with wheat, and send it to the West Indies, where the exchange was made for a full cargo of rum and molasses. Just before the ship arrived at the port of New York, Mr. Hubbell made a consignment of the whole cargo, worth nearly $100,000, to his creditors, whereby Mr. Sherwood lost a large part of his property, and, although he had a comfortable living afterwards, yet he never recovered his in dependent fortune lost by the infamous Hubbell.

Ezra Ruggles, son of Lazarus, Sen., born in 1771, built a house at Lanesville, near the mills, in 1812, and kept a store there for many years. He was a good man, well known, and much liked, and died in 1838, in his sixty-eighth year, not married. How it should happen that a young man, with six so unusually attractive sisters, should never marry is a mystery, unless it was that he feared he should never find their equal. He possessed a fund of good-natured wit and humor, which was also characteristic of the whole family, and his store was the place for the full display of amusing anecdote and conversation "in ye olden times."

There was a store kept at this place before Ezra Ruggles built his. It was owned by Richard Fairman and Luther Dunning. Mr. Fairman sold his half to Silas Hill in 1789,-the half of the goods, the store, and the land for 15, lawful money.

Doctor Dobson Wheeler resided on the Wood Creek road, near Silas Hill's home, and pursued his professional life and that of a farmer for quite a number of years. He married the widow of Nathan Talcott, and had several children; one of them, Mary, married Cornelius McMahon, the engineer miner.

Cornelius McMahon is said to have come from New Jersey to New Milford as one accustomed to work in silver and copper mines. He married Mary, daughter of Dobson Wheeler, and purchased his first land in New Milford Nov. 7, 1781, on Wood Creek Hill. He seems to have settled half a mile north of Lanesville four corners, on the north side of Two Mile Brook, Danbury road. He purchased land to the amount of several hundred pounds money, and became a successful farmer. He was employed to blast out the channel in the rock at Great Falls for the first grist-mill erected there, and also to blast a tunnel from Green Pond for an outlet to secure water to run a mill in Sherman. In one of these pieces of work he unfortunately injured one of his arms by the premature explosion of a blast, which caused the loss, in a great measure, of the use of his arm. Doctor Dobson Wheeler took him to his house, and there treated his arm so skillfully that he recovered very much the use of his hand and arm, and then he married the doctor's daughter.

A little circumstance occurred with Mr. McMahon, which is amusing, although a little disastrous to him. He had a place where he salted his sheep on a rock, which rock he proposed to remove, and after drilling a hole in it and putting in the powder he arranged for the blast. Just as he went to the rock and stooped over to light the fuse, the sheep saw him, and expecting to find salt they all ran for the rock; and in great consternation he exerted himself to frighten them away, but they seemed the more determined to get some salt and drove upon the rock, all in a cluster. Having stayed as long as he dared he cried out: shew, shew, you devils, and ran with all his strength to save himself, when, away went the sheep, sky high. On viewing the remnants he remarked pitifully to the poor things: "I told you so why didn't you mind ?"

A little over half-a-mile east of Lanesville are the Great Falls and Falls Mountain. The former of these is celebrated as the place where the Indians caught lamprey-eels, and the latter as affording the high cliff, called Lover's Leap, and the monument to Waraumaug's grave. These natural wonders are more fully described in Chapter VIII, of the Indian History published by the author of this book. The mountain is not very high, but the river has cut a gorge through the mountain, a distance of a quarter of a mile or more, leaving the rock on each side abrupt, sometimes overhanging the water. At the lower end of the gorge the rock is the highest, and on the east side it is called Lover's Leap. The legend is that the daughter of the Indian Chief became attached to a young white man and he to her, and the match not being acceptable to the old Chief, the lovers repaired to this rock, and in each others' arms threw themselves off the point of rocks into the river, and from this came the name, Lover's Leap. The place is romantic and beautiful, but so far as the legend is concerned, it is almost impossible to have occurred after the white people came into the country without having left more recognizable traces of its truthfulness.

The falls afford a wild-appearing rush of waters, but the hand of art is diligently at work erecting a large manufactory on the west side, on the site of the old grist-mill, and the bustle of city life is likely soon to begin there, on the site, perhaps, of the celebrated tent-palace of the renowned Chief Waraumaug.

Just below Falls Mountain at the Cove, on the west side of the Housatonic River was located the Fishing Place, which consisted of a narrow strip of land with the right to catch fish at that place. It was first leased for the purpose, on the 11th of August, 1773, by Benjamin Hawley, for 999 years, to Seth Lacey, John Fairchild, Joseph Stevens, Stephen Mead of New Fairfield, and James Benedict, Isaac Barnum, Daniel Jackson, Amos Northrop, Ephraim Jackson, and David Jackson, Jr., of Newtown, and David Wakelee, Levi Merwin, and Clement Maxfield of New Milford, upon the condition that they should deliver to him-the said Benjamin Hawley-and his heirs, every thirteenth fish they or their heirs should catch at that place. This amount of rent must have been, at times, quite burdensome, for it is recorded that Sherman Boardman said he had known the finest shad sold, as many as any one desired, at one penny each; and it is also said that fish were often given away to any persons who would take them away.

The shares of the Fishing Place were quite a stock in the market at New Milford for about 100 years-even to the building of the great dam at Birmingham across the Housatonic river.

This Fishing Place was different from the fishing for Lamprey-eels at the Great Falls, just above Falls Mountain. Fishing for the eels was done at night by torch light, with long poles upon the end of which were iron hooks. The eels would cling to the rocks just under the sheet of water which flowed over the falls, and with these hooks the eels were drawn or thrown out upon the dry rocks. The parties took their turns-Indians and all- according to certain rules,-and continue the work all night, from week to week, in the season for the eels. Often, in consequence of the rum bottle, there were some rough times, the noise of which was heard on the night air one and two miles.

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