HISTORY OF NEW LONDON COUNTY, CONNECTICUT,
WITH BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF MANY OF ITS PIONEERS AND PROMINENT MEN.
COMPILED UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF D. HAMILTON HURD
J. W. LEWIS & CO., PHILADELPHIA, 1882
PRESS OF J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO., PHILADELPHIA
[transcribed by Janece Streig]
ORIGINAL PROPRIETORS AND OTHER EARLY SETTLERS - PART A.
Maj. John MASON - Rev. James FITCH - ADGATE - ALLYN - BUCKUS - BALDWIN - BINGHAM - BIRCHARD - BLISS - BOWERS - BRADFORD - Hugh CALKINS - John CALKINS - EDGERTON, GAGER - GIFFORD - GRISWOLD - HENDY - HOWARD - HUNTINGTON - HYDE - LEFFINGWELL - OLMSTED - PEASE - POST - REED - REYNOLDS - ROYCE - SMITH - TRACY - WADE - WALLIS - WATERMAN - ABEL - BREWSTER - BUSHNELL - ELDERKIN - LATHROP - ALLEN - ALLERTON - AMES - ANDREWS - ARMSTRONG - ARNOLD - AVERY - BAKER - BACON - BADGER - BARRETT - BARSTOW - BATES - BELDEN - BELL - BLACKMORE - BOOM - BURTON - BURLEY - CAPRON - CARSON - CARPENTER - CARTER - CASE - CATHCART - CHAPMAN - CHAPPELL - CLEVELAND - COOLIDGE - COLE - COTTERAL - CRANT - CROCKER - CROSS - CULLENIN - CULVER - CULVERSWELL - DARBY - DAVIS - DEANS - DEAN - DECKER - DENISON - DENNIS - - DOWD - EDGECOMBE - FAIRBANKS - FALES - FARGO - FIELD - FILLMORE - FORD - FOWLER - FOX - FRASIER - FRENCH - GAYLORD - GIBBONS - GOOKIN - GOULD - GORTON - GOVE - GREEN - GRIST - GROVER - HILL - HAMILTON - HAMMOND - HARRINGTON - HARRIS - HARTSHORN - HASKINS - HAZEN - HEATH - HENDRICK - HILL - HODGES - HOUGH - HUTCHINS - HUTCHINSON - JENNINGS - JONES - JOHNSON - KELLY - KENNEDY - KIMBALL - KING - KINGSBURY - KIRBY - KNOWLES - KNOWLTON - LADD - LAMB - LAWRENCE - LEE - LOOMER - LORD - LOW - LYON - MARSHALL - MEADE - METCALF - MERRICK - MOORE - MORGAN - MOSLEY - MUNSELL - NORMAN - ORMSBY - PALMETER - PASMORE - PECK - PENBER - PETTIS - PHILLIPS - PIERCE - - PIKE - PITCHER - POLLY - PRIOR - RAYMOND - RICHARDS - ROBERTS - ROGERS - ROOD - ROSEBROUGH - RUDD - SABIN - SLUMAN - SMALBENT - SPAULDING - STONE - STICKNEY - STODDARD - STORY - SWETLAND - TENNY - TODD - THOMAS - TUBBS - WALKER - WARREN - WAY - WELSH - WHITE - WHITAKER - WIGHTMAN - WILLIAMS - WILLOUGHBY - WOOD - WOODSWORTH.
Sketches of Original Proprietors and Other Early Settlers 1. -MAJ. JOHN MASON. Every memoir of MASON is obliged to take him up at the prime of life, for of his birth2, parentage, and early years no certain information has been obtained. When he first appears in history he is in the English army, under Sir Thomas FAIRFAX, fighting in the Netherlands in behalf of the Dutch patriots against the bigotry and tyranny of Spain. [1 Condensed from Miss CAULKINS' History of Norwich. 2 That he was born about 1600 may be inferred from his age at the time of his death-upwards of seventy-in 1672.] He is supposed to have emigrated to this country in 1630, with Mr. WARHAM's company, that sailed from Plymouth, England, March 20th, and arrived at Nantasket May 30th of that year. But this cannot be stated with absolute certainty, as he has not been actually traced on this side of the ocean before December, 1632, when he was engaged in a cruise with John GALLOP, under a commission from the Governor and magistrates of Massachusetts, to search for a pirate called Dixy BULL, who had for some time annoyed the coast with petty depredations. He was then called Lieut. MASON, but soon afterwards attained the rank of captain. In 1634 he was one of a committee appointed to plan the fortifications of Boston Harbor, and was specially employed in raising a battery upon Castle Island.
In March, 1635, he was the representative of Dorchester to the General Court, but in the latter part of the same year or early in the next removed with the major part of Mr. WARHAM's people to the Connecticut Valley. Here the emigrants planted themselves, on the western bank of Connecticut River, above Hartford, and founded the pleasant and honorable town of Windsor.
With the residence of Capt. MASON at Windsor all the stirring scenes of the Pequot war are connected. This was the great event of the early history of Connecticut, and the overshadowing exploit of MASON's life. He was instrumental in originating the expedition, formed the plan, followed out its details, fought its battles, clinched, as it were, with iron screws its results, and wrote its history. This war was begun and ended when Connecticut had only two hundred and fifty inhabitants, comprised principally in the three towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor. Out of these MASON gathered a band of seventy men, and passing down Connecticut River, landed in the Narragansett country, and being joined by a band of friendly Indians, marched directly into the heart of the hostile territory, assailed the Pequots in their strongest fortress, destroyed it, laid waste to their dwellings, and killed nearly half of the whole nation. This expedition occupied three weeks and two days. The skill, prudence, firmness, and active courage displayed by MASON in this exploit were such as to gain him a high standing among military commanders. From this period he became renowned as an Indian-fighter, and stood forth a buckler of defense to the exposed colonists, but a terror to the wild people of the wilderness.
In 1637 he was appointed by the General Court the chief military officer of the colony, his duty being "to train the military men" of several plantations ten days in every year; salary, forty pounds per annum.3 [3 "The saide Capt. Mason shall have liberty to traine the saide military men in every plantation tenn dayes in every years, soe as it be not in June or July."-Conn. Col. Rec., i. 15.] At a later period (1654) he was authorized to assemble all the train-bands of the colony once in two years for a general review. The office was equivalent to that of major-general. He retained it through the remainder of his life, thirty-five years, and during that time appears to have been the only person in the colony with the rank and title of major.
When the fort at Saybrook was transferred by Col. FENWICK to the jurisdiction of the colony, MASON was appointed to receive the investment, and at the special request of the inhabitants he removed to that place and was made commander of the station. Here he had made his home for the next twelve years.
The people of New Haven were not entirely satisfied with their location, and formed a design of removing to a tract of land which they had purchased on the Delaware River. In 1651 they proposed this matter to Capt. MASON, urgently requesting him to remove with them and take the management of the company. This invitation is a proof of the high opinion his contemporaries had formed both of his civil and military talents. The offers they made him were liberal, and he was on the point of accepting, when the Legislature of Connecticut interfered, entreating him not to leave the colony, and declaring that they could by no means consent to his removal. Finding that his presence was considered essential to the safety of Connecticut, he declined the offers of New Haven. If he went there was no one left who could make his place good; neither had New Haven any person in reserve who could fill the station designed for him, and therefore the projected settlement never took place. The active disposition of MASON, however, never lacked employment. There was scarcely a year in which he was not obliged to go on some expedition among the Indian tribes to negotiate, or to fight, or to pacify their mutual quarrels. At one time his faithful friend Uncas was in danger from a powerful league of the other tribes, but the seasonable preparations of MASON for his relief frightened the foe into peace and submission. At another time he was sent with arms and men to the assistance of the Long Island Indiana against Ninigrate, the powerful sachem of the Nahanticks, who threatened them with extirpation. This service he gallantly performed, but only two years afterwards was compelled to appear again on that island with a band of soldiers, in order to chastise the very Indians, mischievous and ungrateful, whom he had before relieved.
We find him at the same time, and for several years in succession, holding various public offices, all arduous and important. He was Indian agent, Indian umpire, and the counselor of the government in all Indian concerns; captain of the fort, justice of the peace, and empowered to hold courts as a judge; a member likewise of two deliberate bodies, the Connecticut Legislature and the Board of Commissioners of the United Colonies; major-general of the militia at home, and the acting commander in all expeditions abroad. In 1660 he was chosen Deputy Governor, to which office he was annually re-elected for eight years, five under the old form and three under the king's charter, which united Connecticut with New Haven. The same year he was actively employed, in conjunction with Mr. FITCH and others, in effecting the settlement of Norwich, and also in purchasing of the Mohegans a large tract of land in behalf of the colony.
At this time also, for nearly two years, he performed all the duties of the chief magistrate of the colony, WINTHROP, the Governor, being absent in England engaged in negotiations respecting the charter.
Thus the life of MASON on this continent may be distributed into four portions. The first was given to Dorchester, the remainder, in nearly equal parts, to the three towns in Connecticut that he assisted in planting:
Lieutenant and captain at Dorchester, five and a half years.
Conqueror of the Pequots, magistrate and major at Windsor, twelve years.
Captain of the fort and commissioner of the United Colonies at Saybrook, twelve.
Deputy Governor and assistant at Norwich, twelve.
He was not chosen Deputy Governor after 1668, but continued in duty as an assistant, and was present for the last time at the election in May, 1671.
Of the original band of Norwich purchasers, MASON was one of the earliest laid in the grave.1 He died Jan. 30, 1671/72. According to TRUMBULL, he was in the seventy-third year of his age. His last hours were cheered by the prayers and counsels of his beloved pastor and son-in-law, Mr. FITCH. Two years before he had requested his fellow-citizens to excuse him from all further public services, on account of his age and infirmity, so that the close of his life, though overshadowed by suffering from an acute disease, was unharassed by care and responsibility. There is no coeval record that points out his burial-place, but uniform tradition and current belief in the neighborhood from generation to generation leave no reason to doubt that he was interred where other inhabitants of that generation were laid,--that is, in the POST and GAGER burial-ground, or first cemetery of Norwich. [1 Richard HENDY had deceased before this period, but no prominent proprietor except William BACKUS, Sr. The precise date of MASON's death is ascertained from a contemporary journal kept by Rev. Simon BRADSTREET, of New London, whose record is as follows: "Jan. 30, 1671 (O.S.) Major Jno. MASON who had severall times been Deputy Govern'r of Connectot Colony dyed. He was aged about 70. He lived the 2 or 3 last years of his life in Extream misery with ye stone or strangury or some such desease. He dyed with much comfort and assur'e it should be well with him"-Hist. And Gen. Reg., 8, 46.]
He had been for twelve years an inhabitant of Norwich. It was his chosen home, and no urgent motive can be assigned for his interment elsewhere. Moreover, it was midwinter, when a traveling procession into a new country, with the imperfect accommodations of that period, would have been almost impracticable. Had he been removed under such circumstances to any other place for interment (to Saybrook or Windsor, for example) the event would have been of public notoriety throughout the colony, and must inevitably have been recorded somewhere in the annals of the day.
All the probabilities, therefore, are in favor of his having been buried in Norwich.
MASON is one of the prominent figures in our early history. He shines forth as a valiant soldier and a wise counselor. He was prudent and yet enterprising, fertile in resources, prompt and heroic in the field of action. The natural ardor of his mind, fostered by early military adventures, and continually called into exercise by great emergencies, made him a fearless leader in war. Sturdy in frame and hardy in constitution, regardless of danger, fatigue, or exposure, he was invaluable as a pioneer in difficult enterprises and a founder of new plantations. He was also a religious man and a patriot, of virtuous habits and moderate ambition. Though he sustained many high and honorable offices in the infant colony, he is best known by the simple title of captain. TRUMBULL comprises his peculiar traits in these few words: "He was tall and portly, full of martial fire, and shunned no hardships or dangers in the defense and service of the colony."
Yet, viewing the character of MASON at this distance of time, we become aware of some rigid and imperious features. Though faithful to his convictions of duty, he was stern and unrelenting in the execution of justice, and as a magistrate and commander, dictatorial and self-reliant.
Roger WILLIAMS, in his correspondence with WINTHROP, of New London, refers to MASON in terms which lead us to infer that the latter, as a neighbor, was not particularly acceptable to other plantations:
"Since I mention Capt. MASON, worthy sir, I humbly beg of the Father of Lights to guile you in youre converse and neighbourhood with him"
"Sir, heape coales of fire on Capt. MASON's head, conquer evil with good, but be not cowardly and overcome with any evill."
Again, alluding to dispatches that he had received from Capt. MASON, he says,--
"The letters are kind to myself but terrible to all these natives, especially to the sachems."
Uncas and his tribe were peculiarly the wards and adherents of MASON, and he pledged to defend them against all complaints. We may be disposed to charge him with cruelty to a vanquished foe, but the same taint lies on most of the early colonists. He only shared in the ferocious character of the age, and, we may add, in that misconstruction of the spirit of Christianity which devoted its enemies to immediate and vindictive destruction.
Of the first marriage of Capt. MASON no date or specification has been recovered. A memorandum in the old church-book at Windsor gives the number of those who had die din the plantation before the year 1639, and mentions as one of them the captain's wife. No other inhabitant is known to have had at that time the title of captain, and therefore this may be pronounced without hesitation the wife of MASON. In July, 1639, he was married to Anne PECK, who was the mother of the seven children recorded at Norwich, which list is supposed to comprise his whole offspring.
Mrs. Anne MASON died at Norwich before her husband. A memorial sermon, preached by Mr. FITCH, represents her as a woman of eminent piety, and "gifted with a measure of knowledge above what is usual in her sex."
"I need not tell you," says the preacher, "what a Dorcas you have lost; men, women, and children are ready with weeping to acknowledge what works of mercy she hath done for them."
The family is registered at Norwich with this heading: "The names and ages of the children of Maj. MASON." The day of the month is not given, nor the place of birth. The list is as follows: Priscilla, born in October, 1641; Samuel, born in July, 1644;John born in August, 1646; Rachel, born in October, 1848; Anne, born in June, 1650; Daniel, born in April, 1652; Elizabeth, born in August, 1654.
The first three were probably born in Windsor, the others at Saybrook.
Of this group three were ingrafted into the FITCH family. Rev. James FITCH married for his second wife, in October, 1654, Priscilla MASON; John MASON (2) married Abigail FITCH; and James FITCH (2) married Elizabeth MASON, Jan. 1, 1676.
Rachel MASON became the second wife of Charles HILL, of New London. They were married June 12, 1678, and she died in less than a year afterwards.
Anne MASON married, Nov. 8, 1672, Capt. John BROWN, of Swanzey.
John MASON, second son of the major, succeeded to his father's accommodations in Norwich.
This gallant young captain was severely and, as it proved, fatally wounded in the great swamp fight at Narragansett, Dec. 19, 1675. It is probable that he was brought home from that sanguinary field by his Mohegan warriors on the Indian bier. His wounds never healed. After lingering several months, he died, and is supposed, in the same house where his father expired, and was doubtless laid by his side in the old obliterated graveyard of the first comers. Though scarcely thirty years of age at the time of his death, he stood high in public esteem, both in a civil and military capacity. He had represented town at three sessions of the Legislature, and was chosen an assistant the year of his decease. In the probate of his estate before the County Court he is called "the worshipful John MASON." The Rev. Mr. BRADSTREET, of New London, records his death in these terms:
"My hon'd and dear Friend Capt. Jno MASON one of ye magistrates of this Colony, and second son of Major Jno MASON, dyed, Sept. 18, 1676"1 [1 Hist. And Gen. Reg., 9, 46.]
He left two young children,--Anne, who married John DENISON, and John, born at Norwich in 1673, afterwards known as Capt. John MASON, being the third in lineal succession who had borne the name and title. He is best known as an Indian claimant, visiting England to asset the rights of the heirs of Maj. MASON to those lands which the latter purchased as agent of the colony. His connection with this long Mohegan controversy will bring him at another period within the range of our history.
The other sons of Maj. MASON, Samuel and Daniel, settled in Stonington, as an ample domain given by the colony to their father, near the border of Long Island Sound. Samuel was chosen an assistant in 1683, and acquired the same military rank as his father, being known also as Maj. MASON. He was one of the four purchasers of Lebanon, but never removed thither. He died at Stonington, March 30, 1705, leaving four children, all daughters. His only son, John died ten days before him, aged twenty-eight, and unmarried. The male branch in this line here became extinct, but the name was continued in the line of the oldest daughter, Anne, who married her cousin, the third John MASON, before mentioned.
Lieut. Daniel MASON, the early schoolmaster of Norwich, died at Stonington, Jan. 28, 1736-37, in the eighty-fifth year of his age. His first wife was Margaret DENISON, of Roxbury, and his second Rebecca HOBART, of Hingham. His oldest son, Daniel, married Dorothy HOBART, and settled in Lebanon, where he died, July 4, 1706, thirty years before the decease of his father, leaving only one child, an infant son, named Jeremiah, after his grandfather, Rev. Jeremiah HOBART.
REV. JAMES FITCH died at Lebanon, and the monumental tablet that marks his grave bears the following judicious and comprehensive summary of his life and character:
"In this tomb are deposited the remains of the truly Reverend Mr. James FITCH: born at Bocking, in the county of Essex, England, December 23, 1632: who after he had been well instructed in the learned languages, came to New England at the age of 16, and passed seven years under the instruction of those eminent divines, Mr. HOOKER and Mr. STONE. Afterward he discharged the pastoral office at Saybrook for 14 years, from whence, with the greater part of his church, he removed to Norwich, and there spent the succeeding years of his life, engaged n the work of the Gospel, till age and infirmity obliged him to withdraw from public labor. At length he retired to his children at Lebanon, where scarcely half a year had passed, when he fell asleep in Jesus, Nov. 18, 1702, in the 80th year of his age. He was a man, for penetration of mind, solidity of judgment, devotion to the sacred duties of his office, and entire holiness of life, as also for skill and energy in preaching, inferior to none."
Mr. FITCH was, next to Capt. MASON, the most influential man in the little settlement. As a pastor he was zealous and indefatigable, and labored earnestly to advance the material as well as the spiritual welfare of the plantation.
THOMAS ADGATE was a deacon of Mr. FITCH's church, but at what period chosen to that office is not known. He was older than his pastor, and perhaps his coeval in office. It is probable that he exercised the functions for at least half a century. His will, dated May 22, 1704, commences, "I, Thomas ADGIT, being in the eighty-fourth year of my age," etc. He died July 21, 1707. Mrs. Mary ADGATE, his relict, died March 29, 1713.
ROBERT ALLYN was of Salem in 1637, and enrolled as a member of the church May 15, 1642. He removed to New London in 1651, where he obtained a grant of a large farm on the east side of the river, at a place still known as ALLYN's Point, in the town of Ledyard. He was one of the first company of purchasers of Norwich, and resided for several years in the western part of the town plot. In 1661 he styles himself of "New-Norridge," and held the office of constable in 1669, but in a deed of 1681 used the formula, "I, Robert ALLYN, of New London."
Robert ALLYN had doubtless relinquished his house in Norwich to his son John, and retired to his farm on the river, within the bounds of New London, where he died in 1683. His age is unknown, but he was freed from training in 1669, probably upon attaining the age of sixty, the customary limit of military service; this would make him about seventy-five at death.
BACKUS.-Little is known of the history of William BACKUS, Sr. He is supposed to have been living at Saybrook as early as 1637.
William BACKUS, before removing to Norwich, married Mrs. Anne BINGHAM, and brought with him to the new settlement three daughters, two sons, and his wife's son, Thomas BINGHAM. The three young men were of mature age or near maturity, and all are all usually reckoned as first proprietors. The daughters were subsequently united in marriage to John REYNOLDS, Benjamin CRANE, and John BAYLEY.
The house-lots of the younger William and of Stephen BACKUS are both recorded as laid out in 1659, but the latter was the allotment of his father, who dying at an early period after the settlement, and the land records being made at a later date, it was registered in Stephen's name, who had received it by bequest form his father. Hence William BACKUS, Sr., does not appear on the town record as a landholder.
STEPHEN BACKUS.-The rights and privileges of William BACKUS, Sr., were transferred so soon after the settlement to his son Stephen that the latter is accounted the original proprietor. The house-lot was entered in his name, as to the first purchaser. It lay upon the pent highway by the Yantic, between the town green and the allotment of Thomas BLISS.
WILLIAM BACKUS, JR.-The second William BACKUS married Elizabeth, daughter of Lieut. William PRATT, of Saybrook. She was born Feb. 1, 1641. The date of the marriage is not registered at Norwich, and it is probable that the young couple did not remove to the new settlement till after the birth of their first son, William, May 11, 1660. John, the second son, born Feb. 9, 1661-62, married Mary, daughter of Thomas BINGHAM. Hannah BACKUS, one of the daughters of the family, found a partner in the second Thomas BINGHAM. Both marriages have the same date, Feb. 17, 1691-92. It was not uncommon in that day for families to be linked and inter-linked and the knots doubled and twisted, as in the case of the BACKUSes and BINGHAMs. William BACKUS (2) is found on record with the successive titles of sergeant, ensign, and lieutenant, though he styles himself in deeds simply yeoman. His will and inventory were presented for probate in April, 1721.
William BACKUS, third son of the above, sold his accommodations in Norwich to his father in 1692 and removed to "the nameless new town lying about ten miles northwest of Norwich." His brother John also emigrated to the same place, afterwards named Windham, and both are reckoned among the early proprietors of that town. The present Windham green was part of the original home-lot of William BACKUS.
Joseph and Nathaniel, the younger sons of William BACKUS (2), remained in Norwich. Joseph married Elizabeth HUNTINGTON, and Nathaniel, Elizabeth TRACY, daughters of the proprietors Simon HUNTINGTON and John TRACY. Joseph and Simon BACKUS, the first two graduates of Yale College of the name of BACKUS, were sons of Joseph. The former graduated in 1718, and some eight or ten year later was styled by his contemporaries Lawyer BACKUS of Norwich.
A large number of the BACKUS family have acquired distinction in the various walks of life. Elijah BACKUS, whose iron-works at Yantic were so serviceable to the country in the Revolutionary war, was a grandson of Joseph. He married Lucy, daughter of John GRISWOLD, of Lyme. His sons, and his son-in-law, Dudley WOODBRIDGE, were among the first emigrants to the banks of the Ohio. James BACKUS, one of the sons, as agent of the Ohio Company, made the first surveys of Marietta, and is said to have built the first regular house in that town. He afterwards returned to Norwich, and died at the family residence, Sept. 29, 1816.
The second Elijah BACKUS, and older brother of James, graduated at Yale College in 1777, and for several years held the office of collector of customs of New London. His first wife was Lucretia, daughter of Russell HUBBARD, who died at New London in 1787. He afterwards married Hannah, daughter of Guy RICHARDS, and removed with his family to Marietta, Ohio, where he died in 1811. His daughter Lucretia, born at New London in 1787, married Nathaniel POPE, of Kaskaskia, Ill., delegate in Congress form Illinois in 1816, and judge of the United States District Court. Maj.-Gen. John POPE, U.S.A., is their son, born March 12, 1823. His mother, Mrs. Lucretia POPE, in remembrance of the place of her father's nativity, and of her own early associations, came from her Western home to attend the bi-centennial jubilee at Norwich in September, 1859.
Among the descendants of William BACKUS who were natives of the old town of Norwich the following clergymen are of note:
1. Simon BACKUS, son of Joseph, born at Norwich, Feb. 11, 1701, graduated at Yale College in 1724, and was ordained pastor of the church at Newington in 1727. He attended the expedition to Cape Breton as chaplain of the Connecticut troops, and died while on duty at that place, in May, 1746. His wife was a sister of President Edwards of the New Jersey College.
2. Rev. Simon BACKUS, son of the above, was pastor in Granby, Mass., and died in 1828, aged eighty-seven.
3. Rev. Charles BACKUS, D.D., of Somers, born in that part of Norwich which is now Franklin, Nov. 9, 1749, died in 1803. He had a high reputation as an acute and able theologian, and prepared between forty and fifty young men for the sacred office. Dr. DWIGHT said of him, "I have not known a wiser man."
4. Rev. Isaac BACKUS, A.M., of Middleborough, Mass., was born at Norwich, within the limits of the old town plot, Jan. 9, 1724, and died Nov. 20, 1806. He was first a Separatist, and afterwards embracing Baptist principles, became eminent in that denomination as a preacher, and the author of several historical works relating to the diffusion of the Baptist faith in New England.
5. Rev. Azel BACKUS, D.D., born in Franklin, Oct. 13, 1765, was a nephew of Rev. Charles BACKUS, of Somers. His father died when he was a youth, and left him a farm, which, he said, "I wisely exchanged for an education in college." He settled at Bethlehem, Conn., as the successor of Dr. BELLAMY, but in 1812 was chosen the first president of Hamilton College. The most noted of his writings is an election sermon preached at Hartford in 1798, on the character of Absalom,--a political discourse of strong partisan tendency.
JOHN BALDWIN. A family tradition has been current that he came to this country in his youth with a relative, but had no brothers. His first appearance on record is at Guilford, where he married, April 25, 1653, Hannah BURCHET.
Of the decease of the proprietor there is no account. His oldest son, John, removed to Lebanon. He was one of the grantees of that plantation in 1695, one of the selectmen of the newly-organized township in 1699, and at the time of his decease, in January, 1705, was a deacon of the church.
Capt. Ebenezer BALDWIN, the third son of Thomas and Sarah BALDWIN, was born May 7, 1710, and married Bethiah BARKER, the nuptial contract being made sure "per Jacob ELLIOT."
Ebenezer, the oldest son of Ebenezer and Bethiah BALDWIN, born July 3, 1745, was a graduate and tutor of Yale College; ordained pastor at Danbury in 1770, entered the army as chaplain in 1776, and died in October, 1777, aged thirty-one.
Hon. Simeon BALDWIN, so long known as Judge BALDWIN, of New Haven, one of the sterling men of Connecticut, was also a son of Capt. Ebenezer and his wife Bethiah. He was born at Norwich, Dec. 14,1761, graduated at Yale College in 1781, was member of Congress from Connecticut from 1803 to 1805, associate judge of the Superior Court and Supreme Court of Errors, and mayor of the city of New Haven, where he died, May 26, 1851, in his ninetieth year.
His son, the Hon. Roger S. BALDWIN, held the offices of Governor of Connecticut and United States senator, serving his native State in her highest executive and confederated capacity. He died at New Haven, Feb. 19, 1863.
Jabez BALDWIN, the fourth son of the first Thomas, died in his twenty-fifty year without issue.
THOMAS BINGHAM. The house-lot of Thomas BINGHAM bears the date of April, 1660, though at that time he could not have been over eighteen years of age. He married, Dec. 12, 1666, Mary RUDD, who is supposed to have been the daughter of Lieut. Jonathan RUDD, of Saybrook. Her image rises before us enveloped in a haze of romance, on account of her probable connection with the story of Bride Book.
THOMAS BURCHARD, aged forty, embarked for New England in a vessel called the "True Love," Sept. 20, 1635, with his wife, Mary, and six children, one of them a son named John, aged seven, and the others daughters. Thomas BIRCHER, made free at Boston, May 17, 1637, and Thomas BIRCHWOOD, or BIRCHARD, of Hartford, in 1639, were probably the same person. He is subsequently found at Saybrook, and was deputy from that township to the General Court in 1650 and 1651. After this there seems to be no trace of him at Saybrook, except in a land sale made in 1656 by Thomas BIRCHARD, "Of Martin's Vineyard," to William PRATT, wherein he quits claim for himself and in behalf of his son, John BIRCHARD.
There can be little hesitation in assuming that John, son of the above Thomas (aged seven in 1635), was the John BIRCHARD that became a proprietor of Norwich. He appears to have been a man of considerable note in the company, particularly as a scribe, serving for several years as town clerk and recorder.
John BIRCHARD was one of the ten inhabitants of Norwich accepted as freemen at Hartford In October, 1663, clerk of the County Court in 1673, a commissioner or justice of the peace in 1676, and deputy to the General Court in October, 1691.
THOMAS BLISS, SR. and JR., had house-lots and divisions of land in Hartford as early as 1640.
The allotments of Thomas BLISS in Saybrook were eastward of the river, in what is now Lyme. His house-lot of thirty acres lay between John OMPSTED (OLMSTEAD) on the north and John LAY south. He sold it, July 23, 1662, to John COMSTOCK. His home-lot in Norwich was also near to that of John OLMSTEAD, extending originally at the northwest to the pent highway. That part where the house stands has never been alienated. Seven generations have dwelt on the same spot, and the house is supposed not to have been entirely rebuilt since it was erected by the first proprietor.
Thomas BLISS died April 15, 1688.
In the inventory of Thomas BLISS his estate is estimated at £182 17s. 7d. He had land besides his home-lot over the river,--on the Little Plain, at the Great Plain, at the Falls, in Yantic meadow, in meadow at Beaver Brook, in pasture east of the town, and on Westward Hill.
MORGAN BOWERS came from that part of Saybrook which lay east of the river and is now Lyme. His one-lot in these Lyme grants was on or near Black Point, and had been in possession about five year. Little is known of him. He was on the jury of the County Court in 1667, and again in 1680. No trace is found of wife or children, but probably he had both. It was disreputable at that time for a man without a family to live as a householder by himself. In his old age, however, he seems to have been both lonely and infirm,
JOHN BRADFORD Was the son of William BRADFORD, the Pilgrim Governor of Plymouth colony. His mother was Dorothy MAY, the earliest of our Mayflowers, the herald of those that give fragrance to the airs of spring, and the graceful prototype of the white-winged bark that bore her and the pioneers of freedom over the ocean.
Dorothy MAY was the first wife of Governor BRADFORD. She embarked with her husband for the Promised Land, but, like Moses, only saw it at a distance. After the vessel had anchored in Cape Cod Harbor, she fell overboard and was drowned, Dec. 7, 1620, her husband being absent at the time in a boat or shallop exploring the coast and selecting a place for settlement.
John BRADFORD was not the companion of his parents in this voyage, and it is not ascertained when he came to this country. Very little is known of his early history, for neither MORTON nor PRINCE, the earliest authorities respecting Plymouth Colony, give any hint of the existence of this son of Governor BRADFORD.
He was of Duxbury in 1645, afterwards of Marshfield, and deputy to the General Court of both places. He married Martha, daughter of Thomas BOURNE, of Marshfield, but had no children.
The home-lot of Mr. BRADFORD, in Norwich, bears the date of the oldest proprietors, 1659, and it is probable that he soon removed to the spot. His farm in Duxbury was sold by "John BRADFORD, gentleman," to Christopher WADSWORTH in 1664.
Mr. BRADFORD was one of the townsmen of Norwich in 1671, but his name seldom occurs on the records. His will was exhibited at the County court in September, 1676. His widow married, after a short interval, her opposite neighbor, Lieut. Thomas TRACY. The period of her death is not ascertained, but the lieutenant was living with a third wife in 1683.
HUGH CALKINS (OR CAULKINS1) was one of a body of emigrants, called the Welsh Company, that came to New England in 1640 from Chepstow, in Monmouthshire, on the border of Wales, with their minister, The Rev. Mr. BLINMAN. The larger portion of this company settled first at Marshfield, but soon transferred their residence to Gloucester, upon the rough promonotory of Cape Ann. From thence, after eight years of experiment, most of the them removed to New London, hoping probably to find lands more arable and productive, and allured also by affectionate attachment to Mr. BLINMAN, whom Mr. WINTHROP had invited to his plantation. [1 The name appears on the early records, written indifferently, with or without the u, and with or without the final s.]
Hugh CALKINS was in 1660 deputy from Gloucester to the General Court of Massachusetts, and chosen again in 1651, but removing early in that year to New London, the vacancy was filled by another election.
While living at New London he was chosen twelve times deputy to the Connecticut Assembly (the elections being semi-annual), and was one of the townsmen or selectmen invariably from 1652 till he removed to Norwich.
From Norwich he was deputy at ten sessions of the Legislature, between Marc, 1653, and October, 1671, and was one of the first deacons of Norwich Church. At each of the three towns in which he was an early settler and proprietor he was largely employed in public business, being usually appointed one of committees for consultation, for fortifying, drafting soldiers, settling difficulties, and particularly for surveying and determining boundaries. These offices imply a considerable range of information, as well as activity and executive talent, yet he seems to have had no early education, uniformly making a bold H for his signature.
JOHN CALKINS, the oldest son of Hugh, was probably born about 1634. He was old enough to be summoned to work with other settlers on the mill-dam at New London in 1652. He married, at New London, Sarah, daughter of Robert ROYCE, and his oldest child, Hugh, was born at that place before the removal to Norwich.
John CALKINS was one of the selectmen of Norwich in 1671, and on the jury of the Country Court so late as 1691. He died Jan. 8, 1702-3. Sarah, his relict, died May 1, 1711, aged seventy-seven years.
RICHARD EDGERTON and Mary SYLVESTER were married April 7, 1653. The birth of three daughters is registered at Saybrook, reaching to September, 1659, and in November of that year we have the date of his house-lot at Norwich.
WILLIAM GAGER came to America in 1630 with Governor WINTHROP, but died the same year from a disease contracted by ill diet at sea, which swept off many of the emigrants. He is characterized by contemporary journalists as "a skillful surgeon, a right godly man, and one of the deacons of our congregation." His son John, the only child that has been traced, was one of the company that settled at New London with John WINTHROP the younger. His name is there found on the earliest extant list of inhabitants.
He had a grant from the town of New London of a farm of two hundred acres east of the river, near the straits (now in Ledyard), to which he removed soon after 1650, and there dwelt until he joined in the settlement of Norwich and removed thither. His house-lot in the new town bears the date of the oldest surveys, viz., November, 1659. He was constable of Norwich in 1674 and 1688.
His oldest son, born in September, 1647, who in 1688 is styled "John GAGER, of New London, son to John, Sr., of Norwich," died in 1691 without issue.
The will of John GAGER, the proprietor, dated Dec. 21, 1695, has the descriptive passage, "being now aged and full of days;" but he lived eight years longer, dying Dec. 10, 1703. His will provides for wife Elizabeth, bequeaths all real estate to "only son Samuel," and adds, "to my six sons that married my daughters, viz., John ALLYN, Daniel BREWSTER, Jeremiah RIPLEY, Simon HUNTINGTON, Joshua ABEL, and Caleb FORBES, twenty shillings each, having already given their wives considerable portions in movables and lands."
It was much the custom in those days for men who had children arrived at maturity to become in great part their own executors, distributing their estates by deed and assignment before death, reserving only a needful portion for themselves, to be disposed of afterwards. This accounts for the slenderness of many ancient inventories. That of John GAGER in 1703 amounted to £49 16s.
Among the items enumerated are on great Bibell, one white-faced stag.
This last we may imagine to have been a domestic pet of the old people. Several articles are mentioned belonging to the old-fashioned fireplace, which the modern use of stove, furnace, and range has rendered almost obsolete, such as two tramills, a peal and tongs, a snit, warming pan, and andirons.
A peal (or peel) was a large flat shovel used to draw bread from the oven. A common shovel was often termed a slice, and a snit was probably used for snuffers.
Other articles that seem antique and homely to the present generation were porringers, wooden trenchers, and syllabub pots.
Many curious things are found in these old inventories; very common articles are canns, of pewter or silver, piggins, keelers, pewter basins, and a cow-bell.
Samuel GAGER, only surviving son of John, born February, 1654, married Rebecca (LAY), relict of Daniel RAYMOND, of New London, in 1695. He was a man of good repute and considerable estate, a resident in the parish of New Concord, but interred at his own request, as heretofore states, in the old neglected graveyard of the first-comers in the town plot, where some fragments of the stone may yet remain.
William GAGER, one of the sons of Samuel, born in 1704, graduated at Yale College in 1721, and in 1725 was settled in the pastoral office at Lebanon. He died in 1739.
Othneil GAGER, who has held the office of town clerk in Norwich for over forty years, is of the sixth generation in descent from the first proprietor in the line of John, oldest son of Samuel.
STEPHEN GIFFORD'S first marriage was with Hannah GROVE, in May, 1667. She died Jan. 24, 1670-71, leaving two children, Samuel and Hannah. He married, second, Hannah, daughter of John GALLOP, of Stonington, May 12, 1672. Four children are subsequently recorded to him,--John, Ruth, Stephen, and Aquilla.
The proprietor and his second wife lived together more than half a century, and died the same year.
Samuel GIFFORD removed to Lebanon in 1692, and there died, Aug. 26, 1714. The tow daughters of Stephen, the proprietor, also settled in Lebanon, as the wives of Samuel CALKINS and Jeremiah FITCH. John, Stephen, and Aquilla GIFFORD, sons of the first proprietor, were inhabitants of Norwich in 1736.
LIEUT. FRANCIS GRISWOLD was a son of Edward and Margaret GRISWOLD, born about 1632. He appears to have been a man of capacity and enterprise, and took an active part in the affairs of the plantation, serving as representative to the General Court for eleven sessions, beginning October, 1664, and ending May, 1671. It is not known when he was married, or to whom. Not even the household name of his wife is found in the records at Saybrook or Norwich.
RICHARD HENDY. This name is identical with HENDÉ, HENDYS, and HANDY. Richard HENDY seems to have been one of the first purchasers of Norwich, and to have had an early allotment in the neighborhood of the town plot. He also shared in the first divisions of land, but there is no evidence of his actual residence at any time in the settlement.
THOMAS HOWARD. The house-lot of Thomas HOWARD has the same date as those of FITCH and MASON. Of his antecedent history no information has been obtained. His family registry at Norwich is as follows:
"Thomas HOWARD and Mary WELLMAN were married in January, 1666. Children: Mary born in Dec. 1667. Sarah in Feb. 1669. Martha in Feb. 1672, and died one month after. Thomas born in March 1673 and Benjamin in June 1675."
CHRISTOPHER AND SIMON HUNTINGTON probably settled at Saybrook as soon as they attained their majority. Christopher was there in 1649, apparently engaged in trade, and had written to his Uncle BARET, in England for consignments of cloth and shot. In 1651 he was one of five persons who seized a Dutch vessel that was on the coast trading illegally with the Indians. He married Ruth, daughter of William ROCKWELL, of Windsor, Oct. 7, 1652. They lost one child, and perhaps more than one, in infancy, and when the removal to Norwich took place the parents had only their daughter Ruth to carry through the wilderness. But a blessing soon descended upon their new hone, a son was born, a second Christopher, Nov. 1, 1660,--the first-born male in Norwich.
"The children of Christopher HUNTINGTON were subsequently increased to seven in number, while Simon had a family of ten. They both lived to embrace their children's children, and to see the family hives swarm, and emigrants pass off to alight in the woods and wastes of Windham, Mansfield, and Lebanon.
"Thomas, the second son, born in 1664, was one of the early settlers of Windham.
"Christopher HUNTINGTON, 1st, died in 1691, as is indicated by the probate of his estate that year. No other record gives the date. He was probably buried in the GAGER and POST burial-ground, and no stone marks his grave.
"The second Christopher HUNTINGTON, the first-born son of Norwich, executed the office of town clerk and recorder for twenty years, and was deacon of the church from 1696 to 1735.
"The two wives of Deacon Christopher were Sarah ADGATE and Judith, widow of Jonathan BREWSTER. He had a family of twelve children; seven sons and four daughters survived him. His oldest child, Ruth was the mother of Dr. Eleazer WHEELOCK, the founder of the first Indian school at Lebanon, and the first president of Dartmouth College.
"Christopher HUNTINGTON, 3d, was born in 1686. Christopher HUNTINGTON, 4th, born in 1719, was a physician in the parish of New Concord. These four Christophers were in the direct line, each the oldest son of his father, but the fifth Christopher was the youngest son of the fourth. He succeeded his father as physician in New Concord, or Bozrah, where he died in 1821. His oldest son, the sixty Christopher, settled in Hartford, where he died in 1834, and with him the direct line of the Christophers ends, other names in the family of the last-mentioned Christopher taking the place of the old heirloom.
SIMON HUNTINGTON. The title of deacon became very early a familiar appendage to the name of HUNTINGTON. One of twenty deacons of the first church, seven have been HUNTINGTONS,1 six of whom held the office over thirty years each. In the line of Simon the deaconship descended from father to son through four successive generations, Simon 1st, Simon 2d,Ebenezer, and Simon 3d, covering a period of one hundred and twenty years. Deacon Barnabas HUNTINGTON, of Franklin, was also a progenitor of deacons.2 Other churches in the vicinity have been prone to select their ministering servants from the same cognomen. Near the close of the last century there were six Deacon HUNTINGTONs officiating at one period in as many different parishes of Norwich and the neighboring towns. [1 Eight if we include the first Christopher HUNTINGTON, who is usually placed on the list, but there does not appear to be any contemporary evidence that he held the office. The statement is derived from minutes made by Dr. LORD, in which the first Christopher was probably confounded with the second. 2 "The old FRANKLIN homestead was for a long period in the possession of deacons, and what is not a little remarkable, these deacons, each in his day and generations, kept tavern under the sign of the Seven Stars, which shone with steady luster for the benefit and bountiful cheer of wayfarers on the old Lebanon road."-Speech of Hon. Asahel HUNTINGTON, of Salem, Mass., at the HUNTINGTON gathering at Norwich, Sept. 3, 1857.]
"Simon HUNTINGTON, the proprietor, was united to Sarah, daughter of Joseph CLARKE, of Saybrook, in October, 1653. They lived together fifty-three years, and she survived him fifteen, dying in 1721, at the age of eighty-eight. This was probably the earliest, but not the only one of the first thirty-five wedded pairs that could have celebrated the golden period of their connubial life, if at that day such festivals had been in vogue.
"Deacon Simon left an estate appraised at £275. The inventory of his books may be worth quoting as a specimen of what was doubtless a fair library for a layman in 1706:
"'A great Bible 10s. Another great bible 8s. Rogers his seven treatises, 5s. A practical Catecise 1s. 6d. William DYER, 1s. Mr. MOODY's Book 8d. Thomas HOOKER's Doubting Christian, 9d. New England Psalm Book, 1s. Mr. ADAMS' Sarmon. The bound book of Mr. FITCH and John ROGERS 2s. The same unbound 8d. the day of doom 10d.'
"At the time of Deacon Simon's death his six sons and three daughters were all heads of families. His sons-in-law were Solomon TRACY, Deacon Caleb FORBES, of Preston, and Joseph BACKUS. Four of his sons-Simon, Nathaniel, Daniel, and James-settled near their parents in Norwich, though not all in one parish. Joseph went to Windham, and Samuel to Lebanon.
"The oldest son, Simon, born in Saybrook before the removal to Norwich, married Lydia GAGER, Oct. 8, 1683, and had four children. The oldest of these, bearing his own name, the third Simon in direct descent, was the person killed by the bite of a rattlesnake just after he became of age.
"This second Deacon Simon HUNTINGTON had two other sons besides the one so suddenly removed, viz., Ebenezer and Joshua, and in the series descending from these are found several names of more than common distinction. The last-names son was born Dec. 30, 1698, and is known in local tradition as Capt. Joshua. He was a noted merchant, beginning business at nineteen, and pursuing it for twenty-seven years, during which time it is said that the traded more by sea and land than any other man in Norwich. IN the prime of life, activity, and usefulness he took the yellow fever in New York, came home sick and died the 27th of August, 1745, aged forty-seven.1 He was the father of Gen. Jabez HUNTINGTON, of whom more will be said hereafter. [1 "His epitaph says, 'Very justly lamented by the survivors.']
"Among the HUNTINGTONs of note in this and the neighboring towns, besides the clerks and deacons already mentioned, we might enumerate five or six judges of the common courts, five members of Congress, one of them president of the Continental Congress and Governor of the State, and six or seven who acquired the military rank of colonels and generals, one of them a brigadier-general in the army of the Revolutions. Of the clergy, also, a considerable list of HUNTINGTONs might be made without going out of New London County for their nativity.2 [2 "The Genealogical Memoir of the HUNTINGTON Family, published by Rev. E. B. HUNTINGTON, of Stamford, is a work of great interest and value. It embodies the results of years of patient research, and is clear, full, and almost exhaustive in its details.]
"The name has also been widely disseminated in other States besides Connecticut, and rendered honorable by the talents and virtues of those who have borne it. But it is not on this account wholly that we give it special prominence in these details, but rather for this reason, that the HUNTINGTONs are the only family among the proprietors with whom any connection has hitherto been traced with Norwich in England. As we have seen, Margaret BARET, the mother of Christopher and Simon HUNTINGTON, appears to have been a native of Norwich, and it is not improbably that her children were also born there."
WILLIAM HIDE, or HYDE,--the first mode of spelling being the most ancient,--is found at Hartford before 1640, a resident and proprietor. The period of his emigration is not known. He removed to Saybrook perhaps as early as 1648.
On his removal to Norwich he sold his house and home-lot to Francis BUSHNELL, and other property to Robert LAY.3 He died Jan. 6, 1681-82. His age is not known, but he was styled "old Goodman HIDE" in 1679. [3 The sales are registered at Saybrook, with the following receipt: "I William HIDE of Mohegan do acknowledge to have received of Robert LAY of Six Mile Island the full and just sum of forty pounds which was the first payment specified in the agreement made 25th day of January 1659 for all the lands I had at Potapaugue. "Witness my hand 5th of May 1660. "William C C HIDE, his mark."
SAMUEL HYDE.4-Thomas Lee, an emigrant, coming from England with his family to settle in America, died on the passage. His wife, whose maiden name was Phebe BROWN, with her three children,--Thomas, Sarah, and Jane,--completed the voyage, and are afterwards found at Saybrook, or Lyme, where the relict married Greenfield LARRABEE. Samuel HYDE's wife was the step-daughter of LARRABEE.
After the removal to Norwich, the younger HYDE appears to have formed at first but one family with his father, though he afterwards settled at the West Farms. In August, 1660, on the HYDE home-lot, in a newly erected habitation standing upon the border of the wilderness, with a heavy forest growth in the rear, a new member-a welcome addition to the settlement-made her appearance. This was Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel and Jane HYDE, the first child born of English parentage in Norwich.
Phebe, the second daughter of Samuel and Jane HYDE, born in January, 1663, married Matthew GRISWOLD, of Lyme.
Samuel HYDE did not live to see the settlement of his daughters. He died in 1677, leaving seven children, the youngest an infant, and all sons but the two daughters above mentioned.
The five sons of Samuel HYDE were speedily multiplied into a numerous body of descendants.
Samuel married Elizabeth, daughter of John CALKINS, Dec. 16, 1690. He lived first at West Farms (now Franklin), but removed to Windham, and afterwards to Lebanon, where he died in 1742, aged seventy-seven.
He was the grandfather of Capt. Walter HYDE, whose monumental inscription in the Lebanon cemetery states that he joined the American army in 1776, with an independent company of which he had command, and died at Greenwich, Sept. 18, 1776, aged forty-one.
He was also the ancestor of Col. Elijah HYDE, a neighbor and friend of Governor TRUMBULL, who commanded a regiment of light-horse during the war for liberty, and was on duty with the Northern Army at the surrender of Burgoyne, and of Gen. Caleb HYDE, who at the period of the Revolution was a sheriff in Berkshire County, Mass., but afterwards settled in Western New York.
THOMAS LEFFINGWELL, According to minutes preserved among his descendants, was a native of Croxhall, in England. The period of his emigration has not been ascertained. In his testimony before the Court of Commissioners at Stonington in 1705 he says he was acquainted with Uncas in the year 1637, and was knowing to the assistance rendered by the sachem to the English, then and ever after during his life. According to his age, as given in depositions, he must have been born about the year 1622, therefore at the time of the Pequot war not more than fifteen or sixteen years of age.
The earliest notices of his name connect him with Saybrook. From the colonial records we learn that in March, 1650, a petition was presented "from the inhabitants of Saybrook by Matthew GRISWOLD and Tho: LEPPINGWELL."1 The births of his children are also registered at Saybrook, but under the simple heading of "Children of Thomas LEFFINGWELL," the name of the mother not being mentioned. The list is as follows:
"Rachel born 17 March 1648; Thomas 27 August 1649; Jonathan 6 Dec. 1650; Joseph 24 Dec. 1642; Mary 16 Dec. 1654; Nathaniel 11 Dec. 1656." [1 Col. Rec., i. 205. LEPPINGWELL and LEPPENWELL often appear on the early Norwich records. It is suggestive of the supposed origin of the name,--Leaping-well, denoting a bubbling or boiling spring.]
It is probable also that Samuel LEFFINGWELL, who married Anna DICKINSON, Nov. 16, 1687, and died in 1691, was the son of Thomas, though his birth is not found recorded.
Following Mr. LEFFINGWELL to his new home in Norwich, we find him an active and influential member of the plantation. He was one of the first two deputies of the town to the General Court, in October, 1662, an officer of the first train-band, and during Philip's war lieutenant under Capt. DENISON in his famous band of marauders that swept so many times through Narragansett and scoured the country to the sources of the Quinnebaug.
He lived to old age, but the record of his death does not give his years, and no memorial stone marks his grave.
"Lieut. Thomas LEFFINGWELL died about 1710.
"Mrs. Mary LEFFINGWELL died Feb. 6, 1711."
The staff of the venerated lieutenant, reputed to have been brought with him from his native place, and bearing his initials on its silver head, is now in the possession of one of his descendants, Rev. Thomas Leffingwell SHIPMAN, of Jewett City, Conn. This memorial staff is interesting on the score of antiquity, but far more so from its association with venerable men of successive generations to whom it has been a staff of support. It calls up from the misty past the image of the old soldier or the deacon on the Sabbath-day slowly marching up to his seat under the pulpit: we see his white hair and hear the steady sound of the staff brought down at every step.
Thomas LEFFINGWELL, Jr., and Mary BUSHNELL were married in September, 1672, and might have celebrated their golden wedding in 1722, with a houseful of prosperous descendants gathered around them. The husband died March 5, 1723-24, leaving dive daughters, all married to BUSHNELLs and TRACYs, and three sons, Thomas, John, and Benajah.
Mrs. Mary LEFFINGWELL long survived her partner.
The inventory of Ensign LEFFINGWELL, in 1724, shows that he was richly furnished, not only with the house-hold comforts and conveniences of that era, but with articles of even luxury and elegance. He had furniture and linen in abundance, woodenware, and utensils of iron, tin, pewter, and silver;2 wearing apparel valued at £27; wig, 20s.; walking-staff with silver head, 20s.; rapier with silver hilt and belt, £6; a French gun, £3; silver watch, £5; 3 tankards; 2 dram-cups; 4 silver cups, one with two handles; copper pennies and Erabians,3 £6,18,7. Total valuation of estate, £9793.9.11. It is doubtful whether, at that time, any other estate in the town equaled this in value. [2 In the inventory of Nathaniel LEFFINGWELL, at an earlier date, we find a castor hat, one coffee-cup, a beaker, a pair of campaign boots, etc. 3An Arabian is supposed to have been a small gold coin.] The third Thomas LEFFINGWELL, son of the Ensign, was born in 1674, is distinguished as Deacon Thomas. He married Lydia, daughter of Solomon TRACY, and died July 18, 1733. He had six children.
His brothers, Capt. John and Benajah LEFFINGWELL, had large families, the former, eight daughters and four sons, the latter, eight sons and four daughters. Capt. John LEFFINGWELL married, first, Sarah ABELL, and second, Mary HART, of Farmington.
Benajah LEFFINGWELL married Joanna CHRISTOPHERS, of New London. Col. Christopher LEFFINGWELL, of the Revolutionary period, was the third of his eight sons.
Thomas LEFFINGWELL, 4th (son of Deacon Thomas), married Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Benjamin LORD, Jan. 23, 1729. He died in 1793, in the ninetieth year of his age.
Thomas LEFFINGWELL, 5th born in 1732, died in December, 1814, aged eighty-two. These five generations were in direct succession, each the oldest son of the oldest son, but the lineage is here interrupted, as Thomas, the 5th, died unmarried.
The LEFFINGWELL tree has a multitude of branches. Samuell LEFFINGWELL, who married Hannah GIFFORD, March 2, 1714-15, was the progenitor of several large families. A district in the southern part of the township is known by the familiar designation of Leffingwelltown, from the predominance of the name in that neighborhood. In a field upon old LEFFINGWELL land, in this district, there is a quiet village of the dead, where LEFFNIGWELLs, CHAPMANs, POSTs, and other names of the vicinity are found. Here is the grave of Deacon Andrew LEFFINGWELL, who died in 1803. He was the son of Samuel, and born Dec. 12,1724.
Some of the LEFFINGWELLs, who lived on farms, have the traditionary renown of having been stalwart men, able horsemen, enterprising, robust, dreadnaught kind of people. They would ride to Boston in a day, with a led horse for relief, and return on the morrow, unconscious of fatigue. One of them, it is said, performed the feat with a single horse, but the noble animal was sacrificed by the exploit, being found dead the next morning.