The History of Middlesex County 1635-1885
J. H. Beers & Co., 36 Vesey Street, New York

By James A. PRATT

[transcribed by Janece Streig]


Westbrook, one of the three southernmost towns in Middlesex county, and one of the five that comprised the original town of Saybrook, is situated about five miles west of the mouth of the Connecticut River, with a frontage of about four and a half miles on the Long Island Sound. It is bounded on the north by Essex and Saybrook, on the east by Old Saybrook, on the south by the Sound, and west by Clinton. Its extreme extent north from the Sound is about five miles.

The central village is situated on a flat running back from the shore from three quarters of a mile to a mile, and bordering on the bay about two miles. This flat is surrounded on three sides by moderate elevations which terminate to the northward in high hills that abound in forests of every kind of wood known to this latitude. This north section also furnishes good tilling and grass land.

The permanent population of the town at present is about 900. The town's largest population was from 1836 to 1850, when it reached 1,200. It is not easy to explain this decrease, which many New England towns have experienced. The fact that shipbuilding, which was once of consequence, both to the builder and to the timber men, has disappeared, that farming has ceased to be a profitable occupation, and that manufacturing never existed to any considerable extent, may account for it somewhat.

The principal shrinkage has been in the border districts, where farms, from which the father and grandfathers of the present generation reaped the harvest of wealth, are now abandoned and in decay.

The unsurpassed fishing and bathing of its bay have drawn to Westbrook a new population, which, during the summer months, nearly doubles its census. The sound front is being rapidly covered with cottages, which now number about 100, erected and occupied during the summer months by families from abroad. Many of these beautiful little houses are owned by the STANNARD brothers, who are representatives of one of the oldest and wealthiest families in the country.


The Indian name of the settlement was Pochoug, a word signifying the place where a river divides, and descriptive of the location of the principal tribe at OBED's Hammock, at the confluence of Pochoug and Menunketesuc Rivers. The large quantities of arrow heads, broken pottery, shells, and other Indian remains that have been found and are being unearthed in that vicinity, are evidence that it was some time the abode of a numerous and powerful tribe.

A very common name for the western part of the town, in ancient annals, is Menunketeset, or Menunketesuc, in Indian dialect, Ma-na-qua-te-sett. The name is of Mohegan origin, and was applied to the West River, and the section bordering upon it, after its possession was claimed by UNCAS.

In his deed to Saybrook, in 1666, it is written, Menunketeset, and it has been spelled and pronounced every conceivable way since. The significance of the word is lost.

The soil on both sides of the rivers is a mass of shells, the remains of clam and oyster feasts before the discovery of America.

A remarkable feature of the vicinity is the great number of broken or unfinished arrow heads to be found at round Hill, on the east side of the river. The only explanation for this is, that it was the headquarters for the manufacture of these implements from the late and quartz found on the beach near by. This Indian settlement was probably abandoned at the annihilation of the powerful Pequot tribe, to which they belonged, in 1637.

The Hammock was subsequently occupied by OBED and his tribe, from Niantick, on the western border of Rhode Island, and within the jurisdiction of the Connecticut colony at that time. The small tribe were living here at the time of the arrival of the first whites, and were known as the Menunketeset Indians. They returned to Niantick about the time of the King Philip war, in 1676.

At the last uprising of the Indians in 1675 against the English, the governor and assistants being apprised that "the small plantations of Lyme, Saybrook and Killingworth (Clinton) being not farr from some Indians where we understand by other Indians, were in private consultation at Podunk not long since all night * * * * * and it is not knowed but they may be in the conspiracy with the other Indians against the English," ordered Capt. Thomas BULL to "forthwith repayre to those plantations for their special defense and safety." The Menunketesets were undoubtedly among the suspected.

After the removal of the tribe to the eastward, OBED, the chief, appears in colonial history on several occasions. In 1677 he, with another chief of the Nianticks, came before the governor and council, "desireing that they may be under the imedate government of the English as the Pequots are," which was granted.

In 1684, he complained to the council that the English had taken possession of some of their land. This was ordered to be restored. This was the last resident tribe in town and its chief left his name attached to one of the oldest Indian settlements in the State. The half dozen other places exhibiting evidences of the Indian occupation, were the stopping places of tribes who spent a portion of the year here for fishing, and returned to the north.

The territory within the bounds and limits of Westbrook was a portion of the domain of the Mohegan chief, UNCAS, his claim covering all the land lying between Connecticut River and Guilford and 12 miles north on the river. The title to this he assumed by right of conquest from the Pequots. To his complaint to the General Court in 1665 respecting his squaws' rights at "Homowoset" (Clinton), the committee replied that "UNCAS had alienated all of it [his claim] to Mr. FENWICK and the inhabitants of Saybrook and Guilford, except only six acres in Homonoset." George FENWICK quitclaimed his interest, with a small reservation to the colony, and the Colonial Legislature confirmed all previous titles by a grant in 1704.


It is difficult to determine the exact date at which the town was first inhabited by the whites, as it was only an outlying portion of Saybrook, and its early records come under that title; but there are some points in those records that are easily recognized. That it was earlier than any at present accepted date, there can be no doubt.

Robert CHAPMAN, a resident of Saybrook, had his homestead not far from the Westbrook boundary line on the east. Mr. CHAPMAN owned several tracts of land in this town, among them the meadow around OBED's Hammock. The Chalkers were also large proprietors in the same section, early in the fifties of 1600. The General Court, in May 1656, granted to Mr. James FITCH "a competent farm conteining bet. 2 & 300 acres at Menunketeseck."

Robert CHAPMAN had for adjoining proprietors, Robert BULL, William JACKSON, and Thomas DUNCK; the latter's house standing about one-half of a mile south of the present congregational church.

Thirteen families from Connecticut had begun a settlement at Southold, on Long Island, nearly opposite and within easy access, in 1640.

The above facts, and many others that could be adduced, lead easily to the conclusion that more than 50 years before Peter MURDOCK, from East Hampton, Long Island, sailed up Pochoug river and took possession of his plantation, built a house and store, and set his slaves to build those enormous stone walls to enclose his possessions, that are yet a curiosity, adventurous men had taken up their abode along the flat lands near the shore-or as early as 1650.


The first distinct reference to the territory comprising the town of Westbrook, in old records, or the most of it, for its western boundary had not been determined, was on the occasion of the location and distribution of the outlying lands in the old town of Saybrook in 1848. That year the old town, "for the Improvement of those lands that lye remote," divided those lands into sections called quarters; the "Oyster River Quarter" comprising the largest part of Westbrook, a small portion of Winthrop adjoining on the north, and a section of Saybrook from Oyster River west to the town line. The "Town Platt," that part of Saybrook lying between this river and the Connecticut, had previously been appropriated.

The familiar names of LAY, POST, BUSHNELL, and CHAPMAN occur among those to whom the distribution was made, and much of the same land has remained in the families to the present day. There were many undistributed patches, which were valueless on account of location or other unfitness for use at that time, and which were from time to time occupied without expense or hindrance. Years after the first distribution, upon a piece of this refuse land, the first church was built. The first and second school houses were set on other portions. The first parsonage occupied a tract, and Peter MURDOCK, with his strong Scottish inclinations, appropriated a small piece as near the church as the ledge of rocks upon which it stood would allow, for a family burying place.

This, the present "Old Burying Ground," soon came into general use as a public burying place by the parish, and remained open to the highway until 1782, when it was fenced "at the expense of the Parish unless the means can be otherwise obtained." A question having arisen in 1812 as to the precise limits of the ground, the "Proprietors Committee of the Oyster river quarter" were called upon to locate and survey it.

This 'burying ground" was used for over a century and in it repose the remains of the only two ministers who have died in the town since the organization of the first church. One, the Rev. William WORTHINGTON, died 128 years ago, and the other, the Rev. John DEVOTION, was his successor nearly a half century. The remains of Mrs. DEVOTION rest by his side. Those of Mrs. Temperance WORTHINGTON, the widow of Mr. WORTHINGTON, were buried in Durham, where she died in 1778.

The second, "Lower Burying Ground," was laid out in 1835, and it began to be used that year.

The present "Westbrook Cemetery" was established in 1866 by an association called the "Westbrook Cemetery Association," and it contains many fine monuments.

In 1723 came into existence the mysterious "Proprietors' Committee," whose official signature is found appended to titles to property.

The original proprietors to the various tracts throughout the colony, becoming jealous of what they considered the unauthorized appropriation of the undivided or common fragments of land, induced the General Assembly that year to enact, "that whatsoever part or interest the ancient proprietors, by custom as well as deed, have in any common or undivided land in any town, which they have not by their free consent disposed of shall be allowed and taken to be their proper estate."

These "ancient proprietors," or their heirs or successors, were also authorized "to divide or dispose of" any such "common or undivided" lands, and to appoint a committee and clerk as agents to conduct their business. This was the origin of the "proprietors committee," which existed for more than a century, the last Jonathan LAY being one of the last members of it, and Jared the last clerk, in 1838.


The town began to be permanently settled early in the sixties of 1600 by families who purchased, or had received from previous distribution, large tracts of land, and prepared for themselves comfortable homesteads, though it is not probable that any considerable number had moved in until the complete and final subjugation of the Indians, in 1676.

The first settlers generally located in the outskirts. The CHAPMANs, from Saybrook, took up their residence in the eastern border. The BUSHNELLs purchased land and located in the northeast. The STANNARDs, SPENCERs, POSTs, JONES, and WRIGHTs, occupied the extreme north and west portions. The LAYs and GRINELLs settled near the center, and the MURDOCKs, coming later from East Hampton. L. I., purchased a large tract of land in the western portion, and built a house and store near the mouth of Pochoug River.

It is highly probable that the northern border districts were the most thickly settled part of the town 150 years ago, and certain it is that a store was kept at that time on "Toby Hill," in the almost limitless woods, at a point a mile from any present dwelling.

The ghostly ruins of old cellars are thickly sprinkled through that section, and are an evidence of a once quite numerous community.

One of the earliest industries of the town was "getting out shooks" for the West India trade, to be returned to the colony as casks filled with sugar, molasses, or rum. This accounts, in a degree, for the first inhabitants locating in so uninviting a section, being in the midst of the material necessary for their business; but tradition adds as a reason, the jealousy of the Indians, whose settlements or camps were on the rivers or near the Sound, they occupying the fairest portion of the settlement.


The earliest traveled road from Connecticut River, through Westbrook, to Guilford and New Haven, turned off the present Main street east of the Congregational church, to the southward, and running nearly parallel with the shore for three-quarters of a mile, turned abruptly to the beach; thence running back of the beach, it crossed the mouth of the rivers at the "riding way," and passed through Pine Orchard. The road probably originated with the Saybrook land owners at Menunketesuc point.

As early as 1663, there was a north route that crossed Pochoug River at its head, near the grist mill, and running in as crooked a line as possible, much of the way in the present road, crossed Menunketesuc River at what is called in ancient records the "riding or wading place," about one quarter of a mile above the present bridge. The location of a public highway, thus early, was governed by the convenience of fording rivers, and these were the first above the bar at the mouth.

In 1680, the present road, with some variations, was laid out my commissioners appointed by the General Court to be "fower or five rods wide," and a bridge built over Menunketesuc River, "that may be sufficient passage for hors and man at all times." This bridge was the first to span either river, and was built of timber.

Complaint having been made in 1692 of the "difficulties and obstructions in the country roade between Saybrook and Kenilworth," [Clinton] a committee was appointed to "survey and straiten said road, as far as they could, between mill, vis. Lieut. JONES' mill and above Samuel BUELL's house in Kenilworth." This committee established the road in nearly its present line, and abandoned the former bridge crossing for the present one.

The present bridge, in the center of the village, over Pochoug river, was not built until some years after, the direct route from Saybrook west being by the way of the fording place at the mill and Menunketesuc bridge.


After having been inhabited by whites for nearly two centuries and incorporated as a parish 116 years, Westbrook, by an act of the General Assembly passed at its May session 1840, became a full fledged town, with all the corporate rights and privileges pertaining thereto.

The first town meeting was called by Dr. Ebenezer CONE, and was held in the Congregational church.

Joseph SPENCER, Jedediah POST, and Alexander CLARK were chosen the first board of selectmen, and Ezra STANNARD, town clerk.

Alexander CLARK, who resided on the "Compitent farm conteining bet. 2 & 300 acres at Menunketescek," presented by the General Court to Mr. James FITCH, in 1656, was elected first representative in the General Assembly.


Representatives.-The representatives to the State Legislature have been: Alexander CLARK, 1841; Ezra STANNARD, 1844, 1845, 1848; Alfred Chittenden, 1846, 1847, 1853; Horace BURR, 1849; Jared PLATTS, 1850, 1851; William H. LAY 2d, 1852; Jared F. KIRTLAND, 1854; P. M. KIRTLAND, 1855, 1856; Linus E. CHAPMAN, 1857, 1858; F. W. SPENCER, 1859, 1861, 1864, 1871; Henry M. STANNARD, 1860; Ezra STANNARD, 1862; John POST, 1863; Horace BUSHNELL, 1865; George C. MOORE, 1867, 1868; F. L. KIRTLAND, 1869; J. A. PRATT, 1870, 1872; H. F. WILCOX, 1873, 1874; Joseph G. SMITH, 1875, 1876; George KIRTLAND, 1877, 1878; Richard H. STANNARD, 1879, 1880; Benjamin F. WRIGHT, 1881; John A. POST, 1883; Oliver H. NORRIS, 1884.

Town Clerks.-The following is a list of the town clerks of Westbrook from 1840 to the present time: Ezra STANNARD, 1840-42; Jared PLATTS, 1842-48; Augustus BUSHNELL, 1848-53; 1855-64; Reuben STANNARD 1853055; George C. MOORE, 1864-84.

Westbrook Probate District.-The probate district of Westbrook was organized in 1854. The successive judges have been: J. M. STANNARD, 1854-56; Augustus BUSHNELL, 1856, 1857; H. M. STANNARD, 1858-74; George C. MOORE, 1874-84.


Shipbuilding was an important industry of the town for more than a century, the two rivers, the Pochoug and Menunketesuc, with the forests of white oak and chestnut that abounded in the northern section, fitting admirably for that purpose.

Brigs, schooners, and sloops, to be used in the West India or coasting trade, were built at various yards on Pochoug river, from a point in the midst of the timber a half mile above the town bridge to near its mouth, and at one year on Menunketesuc River. Almost any place was extemporized for a ship yard, numbers being built by the side of the highways and on the sound beach.

In the palmy days of the business, vessels were in process of construction continually, as many as half dozen on the stocks at once. Fifty or sixty years ago, the activities of the village were almost wholly devoted to the trades necessary to this branch of industry. Usually, the builders were the owners; often the officers and crew.

No more substantial or seaworthy craft were ever built than these homely vessels, built of the native timber, by carpenters whose trade was a profession, though it earned but "one hard dollar a day and grog, between sun and sun," and good for half century of service. At Ball's yard, on Menunketesuc River, during the last war with England, a number of privateers were built that did good service. At one time during the same war, an unfinished vessel on the stocks in Hayden's yard, on Pochoug River, near its mouth, was sunk, lest it should be burned by the cruisers of the enemy. The upper part of Mr. Hayden's dwelling was also taken down, that it night not reveal the location of the year.

When the revolution in shipbuilding that drew this branch of business to large centers came, about 30 years ago, Westbrook, in common with many other small towns on the coast, lost its most valuable business, and to-day the carpenter, the caulker, and the rigger are among the lost arts.

With such a location to incite and such surroundings to develop a love for the sea it was natural that the town should produce a hardy and skillful race of sailors. In the prosperous days of the sail ship, before steam had monopolized the carrying trade, the town was represented in every branch of the sea service, and in all parts of the world. Its seamen were among the most efficient, and its commanders the most successful. Families, and generations of families successively, notably the SPENCERs, the STANNARDs, the KELSEYs, and the POSTs have been master seamen of from the smallest coasting vessel to the largest merchant ship.


Negro slavery, as was the common practice throughout the State, was a recognized institution among the worthy fathers in the parish. It is interesting to note that the earliest death record, in 1724, commences with: "Cesar Negro man servant to Capt. Samuel CHAPMAN."

The LAYs, CHAPMANs, MURDOCKs, SPENCERs, POSTs, in short every one of whose means would allow, depended upon his "Negro servant" to perform whatever was laborious or menial. The slave's social position was much the same as among every people in every age; and if tradition is not at fault, his perversity was as great, yet that the sober-minded folks did not wholly doubt the possibility of his final salvation, is evidenced by the fact that Toby and his wife Jude, a worthy couple, were received in the church, and permitted to sit on the broad stairs to the gallery and listen to the ponderous sermons of Mr. DEVOTION and his successor, on election, free will, and kindred topics.

Toby had a number of children, all born in slavery and out of wedlock. The descendants of some of these became highly respectable people. He was the property of the SPENCERs, his last transfer being from Caleb SPENCER to his sons-in the language of the will "I give my Negro man Toby to be equally divided between my three sons Joseph, Caleb and John." This was not a desirable heritage as it entailed the burthen of his support in old age. He died in January 1825, aged 82, and his wife survived him about a year.

Toby's name will live in the hill, on the side of which his cabin stood, and in the spring of crystal water near by, long after the cotemporaneous lords of the manor have ceased to be mentioned.

"Jenny" and "Phillis," the property of the Jonathan LAYs, were two other slaves that came down, aged and inform, to the generation of some now living, and are remember for their native peculiarities.


The first mill in town, a grist mill, was built by Samuel JONES, one of the first settlers, and was located at the head of Pochoug river.

The same privilege has been in use until within a few years. The mill was erected at some time between 1680 and 1690, and is familiarly mentioned in the Colonial records of 1692 as "Saybrook Mill or Lieut. JONES' Mill." The north route to Clinton crossed the river at the "fording place," just below its dam.

It is probable that Lieutenant JONES received his title to the mill site, and also to the extensive tract of land north of it, which he owned and lived upon, and perhaps some further assistance in setting up the mill, as it was customary to grant, from the Colonial Assembly, as a condition that he should at all times be ready to serve the people of the town in the capacity of a miller.

Some little time after the building of this mill, a windmill was set up by the GRINELLs, on the west side of the highway, about 50 rods south of the present Congregational church. Not working well in that location, it was taken down and moved to the top of the hill just back of the church, where it stood until nearly 1800. The mill stones now grace a stone fence on the exact spot where they did service for nearly a century.

John P. DIBBLE, the worthy chorister in the old church, for whom, and Mr. Jedediah CHAPMAN, a subscription was opened in 1783, "to induce them to set up a school in the Parish for instructing our youth in the art of music and other matters beneficial to that subject," was its last miller. Here, for a number of years, he hummed standard minor tunes to the rumbling mill stone accompaniment, and discussed with himself the question of toll.

A saw mill, probably the first within the town's limits, was erected by Samuel WRIGHT, Nathaniel CHAPMAN, Thomas BUSHNELL, and Benjamin JONES, on "Falls River," in the northwest part of the town, in 1748. Mr. WRIGHT, upon whose land the mill was built, covenanted that the proprietors "may peaceably possess, improve, and enjoy s'd land on which s'd mill is to be built to Gather with ye dam, pond, Logway, &c., During the term of twelve years without Let or Molestation from any person or persons whatever."

It was agreed that each owner should have the use of the mill for his own sawing three days in each year, "Each owner to find himself a Saw to saw his own turn and when his turn is out he shall be at Liberty to take it away again."

Samuel WRIGHT's turn was to "begin on the first Monday of October next and continue (if he shall then own one-quarter of s'd mill) three days, and the others to follow in the likewise course, Excluding Sabbaths, fasts and Thanksgivings."


The "Iron Works," as they are called in old records, and spoken of by tradition, were located in Pond Meadow District, in the north part of the town. The water power used for that purpose now carries the "PLATTS" saw mill. The establishment combined a smelting furnace, where the metal was reduced from the ore, and a blacksmith's hop, where every kind of hammered work in use at that time, from a horsenail to an anvil or anchor, was made.

The ore was obtained from "Mine Swamp," but a little distance off, and the present appearance of the mining grounds, and the large quantity of slag that remains at the site of the works, leave o doubt of its importance to a large section at one time. It is not easy to tell the exact date of its origin, or give with absolute certainty the name of the founder.

The SPENCERs were the last proprietors in the early part of the present century, and it is altogether probable that Thomas SPENCER, a progenitor of the SPENCER family, who settled near by, discovered the mine and founded the works, prior to 1700.

In 1702, the General Assembly excused "Charles WILLIAMS of Saybrook from training, he being chief workman in the iron works there and living sixe or seven miles from town."

These were the Westbrook works, there being no others of the kind in the ancient Saybrook, and the distance mentioned agreeing with the true distance from the old town.


Shad have always abounded in the bays that front the town, and a century ago were caught, in moderate quantities, in the two small rivers running through the town. Before the commencement of the present century no one thought of selling the fish, each one catching for his own consumption.

At that time to offer it to a guest at dinner was considered an evidence of excessive economy and almost a disgrace. As shad became marketable fish, and finally a luxury, the occupation grew profitable, and was carried on with considerable success for a number of years by "seine" fishing.

The advent of "Pound fishing" and its application to shad, in 1848, gave a new impulse to the business, which since that time has been one of the most important industries of the town, the average annual catch being about 100,000, and the business giving employment to 60 to 70 men.

The white fisheries, at one time of considerable importance, have nearly disappeared, which is a source of regret to the farmers, to whom the fish were valuable as a fertilizer.

Other varieties of fish are obtained from the adjoining waters. The STANNARD brothers, Captain John KELSEY, and Oliver H. NORRIS are prominently identified with this industry.


The territory comprising the present town of Westbrook was incorporated as a separate and distinct society by an act of the General Assembly passed May 14th 1724, the Second Society, or present town of Essex, antedating it one year. For many years thereafter the parish was known as the Third or West Society in Saybrook, or West Saybrook. The records of the ecclesiastical society were the history of the parish for three-quarters of a century. Not only did the society build the church, employ the minister, and tax every inhabitant for his support, but it divided the parish into school districts, built school houses, employed teachers, provided a burying ground, built town pounds, and supervised other matters now conducted by towns at large. The parish at this time probably contained a scattered population from 200 to 250, judging form the birth and death rate. During the first four years from the set-off there were 42 births and 17 deaths.

The church connected with the society was organized June 29th 1726, the day of the ordination of Mr. WORTHINGTON, the first minister, with 14 members, nine of whom were CHAPMANs, POSTs, or SPENCERs. Abraham POST, the first deacon, served in that office alone for 7 years.

The real wealth of the individual inhabitants of the parish, at the time of the set off, was nominal and uncertain. That they were rich in broad acres that had no market value, there is no doubt, and speculators were scarce. The first settlers upon the different tracts of land, most of which cost nothing but the trouble of locating, had come to stay, and their estates were rated according to the improvements made upon them. The occupant's wealth was estimated by the value of his slaves, his stock, or his buildings.

Prior to 1705, the titles to many of these farms were questionable, so much that the General Court in that year passed a special act, securing the then proprietors in their ownership, and giving them full power to sell and give titles. There was much undivided, unoccupied, and, of course, undesirable, land left at this time, and it is highly probable that the Rev. Mr. WORTHINGTON, the first minister, received his princely gift of 100 acres as a settlement from this.

Money was scarce at this early date, the "Bills of Credit of the Colonies" being the principal circulating medium, and these had such an uncertain value at to be in poor repute. Mr. WORTHINGTON's yearly salary of seventy pounds; in a few years became four hundred, equivalent to about $125; not a large compensation for ministerial service, when, in addition to other duties, two sermons and prayers, consuming three hours of time, were expected to be furnished every Sabbath. The little hard money used was derived from the trade with the West Indies.

A rate bill, granted for the support of the poor of the parish, shows it grand list, in 1745, to have been 4,797 pounds, and the number of property holders, 89. The grand list of the undivided town of Saybrook, the same year, was 17,460 pounds, which shows that this parish was rated at more then one-quarter of what at present constitutes the five towns.

Peter MURDOCK's 840 acres, entered by his son, John, is the largest assessment, being 302 pounds 15 shillings. The widow Jonathan LAY, who succeeded her husband in the ownership of the famous "lay Tavern," established years before George WASHINGTON was born, and which was honored by his presence during the "Revolution," comes next, being set in the list at 151 pounds 12 shillings. Eight STANNARDs aggregate 346 pounds; five CHAPMANs, 245 pounds; five LAYs, 458 pounds; three KELSEYs, 331 pounds; two GRINELLs, 225 pounds; five WRIGHTs, 279 pounds; eleven POSTs, 548 pounds; five JONES, 200 pounds eight SPENCERs, 392 pounds; and nine BUSHNELLs, 393 pounds.

The warrant for the collection of this tax was directed to Jonathan LAY, collector "for ye West parish in ye town of Saybrook," who was required "in his Majesties name forthwith to collect" the same, and it was signed by John TULLY, justice of the peace.

Of the sum collected, Dr. GALE, of Killingworth received "four pounds ten shillings, old tenor bills for doctoring James Jardgin in his last sickness." The town retained the Indian name of Pochogue until 1810, when it was changed to Westbrook.

"At a General Assembly held in New Haven the second Thursday in Oct. 1810, upon the petition of the inhabitants of the third Society in Saybrook, by their agents Samuel HART and Joseph HILL, showing to the Assembly that the said society hath from the first settlement of said town to the present time, retained the Indian name of Poochague or Poorchague, which name it is believed very few if any, can either spell or pronounce correctly, which is found to be inconvenient to the said inhabitants and to the public, wherefore our petitioners pray the Assembly to pass a special resolution in their favor, directing that said society within the present bounds and limits, may hereafter be known and called Westbrook as pr. Memorial on file."

In accordance with this petition the following resolution was passed: "Resolved by this Assembly that the third society in the town of Saybrook, within the present bounds and limits thereof, shall forever hereafter be known, and called by the name of Westbrook, and not Poochague or Poorchague, and that said society retain all their ancient rights, powers, and privileges by the name of Westbrook."

The first society meeting in the parish was held May 28th 1724, with Capt. Samuel CHAPMAN as moderator.

At a meeting held June 4th, it was voted "to choose a committee of three men to take the best advice they can in order to obtain a minister to dispense the word of god amongst us." June 29th, Abraham POST was instructed "to go to Mr. WORANTON [WORTHINGTON] to see if he can be obtained."

In August, Mr. WORTHINGTON was hired for two months, at "8 pounds for the two months," and in October for one year, at a salary of 50 pounds, the society to find him his wood. Mr. Jared SPENCER's house, which stood in the present new cemetery, near its center from, was fitted up for a parsonage for his accommodation. The next year his salary was increased to 55 pounds.

The society also voted to build a house for the minister, "he glassing and finding the nails for the same."

This house, the first parsonage, built in 1725, stood about midway between the present Congregational church and the river.

This parsonage house stood and was occupied nearly a century and a quarter, it having been torn down within the memory of middle aged people now living. It was a quaint looking square structure, with its roof rising to the peak from its four sides the space between the ceiling on the inside and the outside covering being filled with sea weed. Doctor and Col. John ELY, the first resident physician in the parish, was its occupant for a number of years after the removal of the WORTHINGTONs.

The Congregational society have built two dwellings for their ministers, though two others have come into their possession by gift-one from Mrs. DEVOTION, the other from Jonathan LAY, the last being the present parsonage.

Rev. Mr. RICH and Mr. SELDEN occupied their own dwellings.

In October 1725, the General Assembly, held at New Haven, granted liberty to the inhabitants of the society "to embody into church estate and to call and settle an orthodox minister among them with the approbation of the neighboring churches."

In the early part of the year 1726, Mr. WORTHINGTON received a call to settle. In March of that year it was voted "to advance the yearly salary of Rev. Mr. WORTHINGTON for the future, as long as he continues in the ministry among us, according to our increasing ability, the same to be compounded by ye general list of estates at five pence on the pound, not exceeding the annual sum of seventy pound money, and his fire wood."

It is difficult to determine what Mr. WORTHINGTON received a year, estimated by the present standard of value. He first received fifty pounds, which, in 1739, was increased to ninety, "in bills of credit of this and the neighboring colonies." In 1743, Mr. WORTHINGTON acknowledged the receipt, for his year's salary, of the "sum of thirty-two pounds ten shillings in lawful money of this colony, which is equivalent to One hundred thirty pounds old tenor," though his salary had not been increased from ninety.

The depreciation in the value of colonial paper in these years was rapid. In 1747, a committee was appointed "to consider of the representation made by Rev. Mr. WORTHINGTON relating to his salary, and report their opinion."

The same year "in lieu of seventy pounds granted to him as his salary, and all additional thereto made heretofore," he was voted "two hundred and sixty-two pounds ten shillings old tenor, for the future, during the pleasure of the society." This was increased until it reached over 400 in 1753.

In the year 1753, three years before Mr. WORTHINGTON's death, the matter of salary was established definitely. That year, after much controversy, it was agreed "that for the future as long as he is our minister, Mr. WORTHINGTON's yearly salary shall be One Hundred and eight ounces of good coin silver, Troy weight, sterling alloy, or the equivilant thereto in bills of credit of the old tenor, the same to be estimated from year to year by the best judgment of John TULLY Esq. And Mr. William TULLY, both of Saybrook."

Mr. WORTHINGTON's last receipt shows that that "equivilant" was "four hundred and ninety one pounds twelve shillings and six pense old tenor," this in 1755. As an additional inducement to Mr. WORTHINGTON to settle in the parish the society voted to deed to him and his heirs forever one hundred acres of land, including the homestead of about eight and a half acres, with the parsonage built upon it, "provided he continue in the ministry in the society." Mr. WORTHINGTON, in his letter of acceptance of the call and the gift, among other things said: "I thank you for your good will and kind offer to me. I see so much of your willingness to do for me ye day of small things as is a satisfactory evidence to me that as your ability is enlarged, you wont see me want what you can conveniently do for me."

Accordingly, at a meeting held June 6th 1726, it was voted "that ye last Wednesday of the present month, June (Divine Providence concuring) shall be and is hereby appointed to be ye day for the ordination of Mr. William WORTHINGTON, and that such proceedings be had as may be thought most likely and accomodable to attaining said end." The committee chosen to superintend the matter of the ordination "were desired, with the advice of Mr. WORTHINGTON, to treat with such ministers as they shall think proper and convenient in order to ye carrying on that Great, Weighty and Solemn affair."

Rev. William WORTHINGTON was ordained pastor June 27th 1726, and preached acceptably in the parish a little over 32 years, dying November 16th 1756, at the age of 60. He was buried in the "Old Yard," and his tomb stone records that "he lived beloved and died lamented by all who were happy in his acquaintance."

Mr. WORTHINGTON was a native of Colchester, in this State, a graduate of Yale College, and a grandfather of John Cotton SMITH, the eminent governor.

Mary, the daughter of Mr. WORTHINGTON, by his first wife, who was the daughter of Major Samuel MASON, of Stonington, married Hon. Aaron ELLIOT, a great-grandson of the apostle, John ELIOT.

Mr. WORTHINGTON preached the election sermon before the General assembly at Hartford, may 10th 1744, when it was ordered "that Sam'l Lynde Esq. And Capt. Jedediah CHAPMAN return the thanks of this assembly to the Rev'd William WORTHINGTON for his sermon delivered before the assembly on the 10th inst. And desire a copy thereof that it may be printed."

Mr. WORTHINGTON died in November 1856. The next January "Esq'r Jed. CHAPMAN and Capt. John MURDOCK were appointed a committee to invite into the society some orthodox candidate for the Gospel ministry, well approved for that purpose, in order for settlement."

In June the society agreed to "give Mr. John DEVOTION as a settlement, the sum of One Hundred pounds, lawful money of this Colony-viz., fifty pounds at or before the first day of February next, and fifty pounds the February next come twelve months." His yearly salary was fixed at "fifty pounds lawful money of the Colony for four years, then to be increased, five pounds yearly, until it reached the sum of sixty-five pounds and so to remain as long as he shall continue in the work of the ministry in the Parish."

The society also voted to furnish him his fire wood, "thirty-three cords in quantity, good and sound, and the getting of the wood to commence when his wants shall call for it and so keep pace with his wants until it in quantity shall amount to thirty-three cords and no more."

The Rev. John DEVOTION was ordained October 26th 1857. A fast was observed, preparatory to the occasion, Thursday of the week before, "beginning at ten of the clock before noon."

After a pastorate of forty-five years he dropped dead in a fit of apoplexy, a few rods from the church door, September 6, 1802, at the age of 73. On training day, as was the custom, he had taken dinner with the military company, at the house of Mr. Ephraim KELSEY, and was marching in front of the company, by the side of Capt. Nathan KIRTLAND, up to the church, for the usual service, when he was taken and died without a struggle.

This, as an ending to a long and successful ministerial service in the church and society, was everything he could have desired. His widow, a daughter of Major John MURDOCK, survived him a little more than six months, dying March 18th 1803, aged 65. In Mr. DEVOTION were united the scholar, the earnest preacher, and the dignified and courtly bearing of a cavalier. He was a native of Somers, and a graduate of Yale.

Mr. DEVOTION was a man of considerable means, and not wholly dependent upon his salary for his support. The house that he built and occupied is still standing, though the fire places in which he burnt 33 cords of wood a year have been taken out. At times during the Revolution he relinquished a portion of his salary, as he says, "on account of extraordinary expenses of the war." He seemed to be willing, as well as able to be considerate to his people, as when, in 1785, the society, on account of arrears of salary, had impowered him to draw his orders on the committee for the amount due, which orders were to remain on interest until paid, "Mr. DEVOTION came into the meeting and relinquished the aforesaid vote in full and every part thereof."

Mrs. DEVOTION gave by will to the Congregational society the parsonage built by Mr. DEVOTION and occupied by them until their deaths. The house was used as a parsonage until 1813, being occupied by Rev. Mr. RICH until that time. That year it was leased for the term of 999 years. The land was given by Mr. DEVOTION and disposed of in 1839, and the proceeds used in building a parsonage for Rev. Mr. HYDE.

In March 1804, the society gave the Rev. Thomas RICH a call with a settlement of $500 and a yearly salary of $350. The records say that in the vote taken there were 103 in favor and but one against. Mr. RICH accepted the call and was ordained in June 1804. A subscription was immediately circulated to assist Mr. RICH in building a house, and about $500 in material was raised.

Mr. RICH was dismissed in September 1810, at his own request, after the society had refused him aid in his pecuniary embarrassments, caused as he said "by misfortune in building and sickness in my family."

To this the society rejoins: "we do not consider his embarrassed circumstances to arise from any public cause or depreciation of currency or from any neglect or fault on our part," and that "granting pecuniary aid would hazard the union of the society." He was a graduate of Dartmouth.

Rev. Sylvester SELDEN was ordained pastor of the congregational church and society in 1812, and was dismissed early in 1834. He was a graduate of Williams College.

December 1833, the record says: "upon consideration it was thought proper and expedient that the minds of the members of the society present should be tried in regard to the Rev. Sylvester SELDEN continuing with us as our minister or asking dismission." Result was 21 in favor of asking his dismission and 11 in favor of continuance.

Mr. SELDEN replied that if the society, or any individual, was willing to take the responsibility of what he would have to sacrifice in the sale of his property, he would ask for dismission. The amount of the sacrifice he put at $500. Upon this the society voted that "they would pay Rev'd Sylvester SELDEN his salary until the 10th day of March 1834," provided he supplies the pulpit and other ministerial duties until that time, "and that they will pay him no longer.

The Rev. Jeremiah MILLER was settled as pastor the latter part of the year 1834, at a salary of $450, and was dismissed early in 1837, at his own request, "the leading reasons" for which, he said, were "the want of a suitable parsonage for the accommodation of a minister, and the pecuniary compensation which your Pastor receives for his services rendered for your benefit." He was a native of Avon, and a graduate of Amherst.

Rev. William A. HYDE was installed June 28th 1838, at a salary of $500. After an acceptable pastorate of little more than 16 years, Mr. HYDE was dismissed at his own request, in July 1854. He removed to Grassy HILL, in this State, and occasionally, to the time of his death, preached here to his parishioners, who always welcomed his coming. He was a native of Lisbon, and a graduate of Amherst.

The church and society had no settled minister after Mr. HYDE until 1863, the pulpit being supplied by various persons-Rev. Henry T. Cheever, about two years; Rev. E. B. CRANE two years; and Rev. Harry A. LOPER, four and a half years. On the 17th of February 1863, Rev, J. H. PETTENGILL received a call to settle over the church and society, and was installed in April of that year, at a salary of $600. Mr. PETTENGILL was dismissed, at his request, May 1866.

From May 1866 to January 1877, the pulpit was supplied by many different clerymen.

About January 1st 1877, Rev. D. A. ATKINS was ordained and installed as pastor, at a salary of $1,000. He resigned in April 1878. Since that date there has been no settled minister in charge.

Rev. John B. DOOLITTLE was employed August 1st 1878, at a salary of $800, and resigned January 1880, on account of ill health.

Rev. J. A. TOMLINSON was employed January 1st 1880, at a salary of $800, and was dismissed, to take effect April 1st 1883.

Rev. E. B. SANFORD began his pastorate August 1st 1883, at a salary of $900.

The question of building a meeting house was agitated very soon after the organization of the society, though on account of the small means of the inhabitants, it would seem, it was not begun until 1727.

April 12 1725, it was voted "that whenever the Society shall build a Meeting House they will set upon the hill near James JORDAN's house."

October 17th 1726, it was voted "to send to the General Assembly now sitting in New Haven for some assistance in building a Meeting House," and in January 1727, "it was voted and agreed to proceed to ye building of a Meeting House for God's Public Worship as soon as may be." It was to be "forty foot long, thirty-two feet wide, and eighteen feet between joints." Afterward, it was voted to build it as large as "ye timber will allow not to exceed thirty-three feet in width and twenty feet between joints." William STANNARD, Samuel BUSHNESS, and Peobody GRINELL were chosen to superintend the building "with full power."

February 29th 1727, the following action was taken, viz: "Whereas the society is apprehensive there should be some speedy method taken for ye procuring of ye nails, glass and lead for ye Meeting House, for ye more easy and speedy procuring ye same, it is agreed and voted that there shall be a committee of three men chosen to procure so much lead and glass and so many nails as they by advise shall think needful, and to use their best endeavor to get ye same by ye first good opportunity they can meet withal * * * * * and that any person concerned shall have liberty to venture off any of his goods or moneys to sea in order to procuring the aforesaid premises."

At a meeting held at the "Minister's House" in April 1727, "it was agreed and voted that whenever ye society shall build a Meeting House they would set it on the hill near James JORDAN's house, at ye lowermost western pat of it where it is thought most convenient."

This, the first church in the town, the body of which was finished in 1729, was situated upon the site of the present Congregational church, and stood 100 years, being torn down to make a place for the second one. It stood as a plain square building until 1795, 66 years after its building, when an addition and steeple were added to it. In January of that year, a "committee was appointed with full powers and instructions to build and annex a suitable and proper steeple to the west end of the Meeting House, and to procure a suitable bell, clock & spire to said steeple.:

Previous to this people were called to meeting by the beat of the drum, "twice in the morning and once at noon on the Sabbath day."

In 1827, when the old church had withstood the storms of almost a century, the question of repairing it was agitated in the parish. At a meeting held in July, says the records, "all present excepting one person voted that they should prefer building a new Meeting House to repairing the old one."

In 1828, the sum of $3,000 was raised by subscription to be expended in building a meeting house, with the avails of the old one. The meeting house was to be 40 by 50 feet, built on the site of the first one, and "steeple and pulpit both to be placed on the southernmost end." This, the second Congregational meeting house, was dedicated June 17th 1829, and was torn down to make place for the present one in 1859.

For a half century or more before the establishment of the church connected with the ecclesiastical society in the parish, the inhabitants worshiped with the church in Saybrook, one of the oldest in the State, having been organized in 1646. Here they listened for a number of years to the preaching of the Rev. Thomas BUCKINGHAM, one of the founders of Yale College, and possibly to the Rev. James FITCH, earlier, who for a time was a land holder in this parish. The church, one of the "Presbyterian Blue Lights" in its origin, was very strict in its rules and regulations, and recusants were summarily dealt with by the society. At times the inhabitants were summoned to answer for non-attendance, or refusal to pay the ministerial rates.


On a Sunday morning in the summer of 1807, a little party of believers in the teachings of John WESLEY met at the house of Mr. Samuel STEVENS, on the northwestern outskirts of the town, and organized a Methodist class. The Rev. Ebenezer WASHBURN preached a sermon, and thus was established the first Methodist church in town, and one of the first in the State. They called themselves, first, Episcopal, afterward Wesleyan Methodists; and held their meetings for 10 years in school houses, or private residences, the class leader usually conducting the services, though at times they were favored with a clergyman.

The memorable September gale of 1815 was an "evil not unmixed with good," as it felled the trees that furnished the frame for, and perhaps suggested the building, the first Methodist church in town. This church, built in 1817, and situated about two and a half miles west of the "Congregational Church on the HILL," stood just 50 years. Its first minister was William JEWETT, followed by Elijah HIBBARD and SMITH DAYTON, though its pulpit was generally supplied by itinerants. It was a furious breeze that disturbed the little church 25 years later, filling it with dissension and strife, that in the end let to the organization of the Methodist Episcopal church, and the erection of its church edifice in 1841. The conduct that accompanied this disagreement would now appear ludicrous but that it is remembered that it took more than a quarter of a century to heal the difficulties.

Soon after the rupture in the First or Wesleyan Methodist Church the aggrieved members formed a new church and society, with the original name, that they had brought away with them, that of Methodist Episcopal church and society. A quarterly conference, held at Clinton, in April 1841, at the request of the new church organization appointed a committee "to raise money to purchase ground and superintend the building of a House of Worship for the Methodist Episcopal Society in Westbrook.

This, the present Methodist church building was raised in July 1841, and the first quarterly conference was held in it, December 25th of the same year.

Rev. Charles W. CARPENTER, president elder at the time, officiated on the occasion. The Rev. Isaac SANFORD was its first resident minister, being stationed voer the church for the year 1842.


The matter of a public school was agitated very soon after the set off of the parish, and in February 1726, a committee was chosen "to treat with the East Society respecting a certain legacy given and left by Mr. Edward LAY *{The Edward LAY, here mentioned, was a member of the Lyme branch of the LAY family, and the gift was probably inspired by his indignation at the removal of Yale college from Saybrook to New Haven. At the removal of the detained books of the college by a sheriff's warrant, in 1718, this indignation was expressed so forcibly that Mr. LAY and Captain Samuel CHAPMAN of this parish were brought before the governor and council "to be examined of threatening words spoken to the sheriff of the county relating to the executing of his office" and placed under bond of 50 pounds each "for their good behavior toward his Majesties subjects, and especially to all his officers." Bert BATES, for many years afterward clerk of the ecclesiastical society in this parish, became one of the bondmen.} to ye inhabitants of ye town of Saybrook for maintaining a free school for the children of ye inhabitants of said town, supposing ourselves to have a just right to a proportionable part thereof, and as we are in a distinct society it ought to be improved in some other manner than has been formerly accustomed in order to attain ye end proposed by ye said donor . . . . . they do their best endeavor for obtaining ye said school to be kept in our society some part of each year;" also "to inquire after and use their best endeavor to obtain a proportionable part of ye fifty pounds granted by ye General Assembly to ye town of Saybrook for ye use of a school, or at least some part of the interest for maintaining a school among ourselves." This was the first public school in town.

These matters were probably settled to the satisfaction of the parish, for January 26th 1727, it was voted "to set up a school forthwith or as soon as may be conveniently for so long a term in each year as ye law directs," and a committee was appointed "to take oversight and management thereof, and to hire and agree with some suitable and meet person to keep ye said school for the ensuing year."

This school was under the supervision of a committee chosen each year by the society. In 1733, it was voted "that ye school shall be maintained in manner following, viz., of what ye county money is wanting from time to time of a sufficient supply, the society shall be at one-half of ye charge and those that send their children to school ye other half." The committee were instructed the following January to employ a school master for two months, at three pounds per month, and a school mistress for the other four months, at twenty shillings per month and no more.

There seems to have been dissatisfaction in regard to the distribution of the public moneys, for it was represented to the society, in 1740, that "Whereas there hath a difference arisen and is now subsisting in the town of Saybrook respecting the free schools in said town, and after many debated thereabout the town hath voted to refer the decision of that matter to a committee, this society, taking the matter into consideration, think it needful to raise a small sum of money to hire some meet and suitable person as a counsel for us in the case."

One farthing on the pound was voted for that purpose.

This action had reference to money realized from sale of Western lands, for in 1744, it was voted that a certain sum received "from the sale of Western lands, should be let out in sums not exceeding twenty-five pounds, nor less than fifteen to any one man, and for a term not exceeding five years."

Though a public school was established in Westbrook Parish in 1727, it was 14 years before a school house was built for its accommodation; the school in the meantime being kept in private houses, most likely much of the time at the parsonage. The question of building such a house was agitated in 1740. A meeting of the citizens was held at the house of Mr. Ephraim KELSEY on the evening of January 2d 1741, at which it was agreed "to erect a school house upon some convenient place between the meeting house and the river." It was decided to locate it between the meeting house and Rev. Mr. WORTHINGTON's garden.

Its dimensions were to be 21 feet in length, 15 feet in breadth, and in height 6 feet stud. It was to be planked and the roof covered with 18 in chestnut shingles, and the sides clapboarded with rift clapboards. It was to have two good floors, one above and one below, and to be sealed round the inside.

There were to be in it three glass windows, the two larger ones two feet in length and 18 inches in width, and the small one 18 inches in length and 12 inches in width. The chimney was to be four feet between the jambs, at the back. It was to have one good door, well hung, and a hearth to the chimney, and to be well furnished with benches.

The parish contracted with Mr. William DIVALL to build the house for 54 pounds, 12 shillings, he giving bonds accordingly. Mr. DIVALL did not finish the work to the satisfaction of the committee, and his bondsmen were sued to recover.

This, the first school house within the bounds and limits of Westbrook, stood at the foot of the hill west of the present congregational church, and was used for school purposes nearly 30 years.

Until 1768, a period of 40 years from the time of the first school, Westbrook parish constituted one school district and needed but one school house, but the increase of its population, especially in the north and west borders, made it desirable that school houses should be erected in those sections for their accommodation. Consequently, in 1768, the parish was divided into three school districts, and three school houses were built, the first house being sold and the site changed. The third, that was to be on Pound Meadow, in anticipation of the division, had already partly built one.

The lines of boundary of the districts, as per record, were as follows: The First District, "beginning at the southeast corner of the parish and extending northward in the parish line as far as Hornbrook; thence running westerly, including Ephraim JONES, Ephraim JONES Jun, and Benj. JONES and Simeon LAY; thence southerly to the sea. Second or western district to begin at the mouth of Eight mile river (Menunketesuc) running northerly, leaving out Simeon LAY, and to extend so far northerly as to take in all the inhabitants of Horse HILL and Mr. Daniel LAY; thence westerly to Killingworth line; thence by said line to the sea side, all the remaining part of the parish to be the third or northerly district."

The First District, by the division, comprised the present Center, East, Hayden, and the largest part of the North District. The Second, or Western district, comprised the present KIRTLAND and Horse Hill Districts; and the Third, or Northerly district, comprised the Pond Meadow and the north part of the present North District.

The school house in the First district was to be set somewhere between the meeting house and Mr. Hezekiah POST's dwelling. It was set on the ground occupied by the front of the present town hall. Its dimensions were 20 feet in length and 16 feet in width. That in the Second District, 16 feet long and 14 feet wide, was set "on Horse HILL, about 33 rods below the brook to the southward of Jeremiah WRIGHT's house on the east side of the highway." The Third District was to go on and complete the house already begun. This was probably built on the site of the present Pond Meadow school house. The parish levied a tax of two pence half penny on the pound on the common list to construct their buildings, two pence in provisions or material, and a half penny in money.

The parish remained thus districted about nine years. In 1777, the wishes of the north part of the First District were gratified by being set off from that district, to be a Fourth School District. The limits of the district are described as, "including Mr. Samuel SPENCER and Mr. Gideon DENISON, and all northward from thence, and heretofore belonged to the First District, for a new and fourth district."

It was arranged to build immediately a school house, 18 feet long and 14 wide, for the district, "somewhere betwixt Wid. Prudence BUSHNELL's and Mr. Joseph WHITTLESEY's."

Through some difficulty this house was not built until 1784, at which time the parish, in school meeting, laid a tax of "two pence on the pound in provision or material, and two farthings on the pound in cash," for that purpose. This house stood on the ground occupied by the present North District school house, or very near it.

In 1787, the Second District was divided to form a fifth district. The dividing line was "halfway between Josiah WRIGHT's and John LAY's," the north portion, or present Horse Hill District, to be the Fifth.

The school house in the Second District, being within the limits of the Fifth by the set off, was retained by the Fifth, they paying to the Second its proportion of ownership according to its list of estates. A school house was built by the Second on the site fo the present KIRTLAND District house.

The Sixth or Hayden district was set off from the First district in 1824, the dividing line being Pochoug River. A school house was built that year in the corner of the lot given by Mrs. DEVOTION to the First Ecclesiastical Society. This house is still standing and in use.

The Seventh or present East District, was formed by a division of the First, and a school house built that is at present in use.

The second school houe, built on the site of the present town hall, in the First District, in 1768-9, was burned about 1814. The third one, on the same ground was built by proprietors in 1815, and rented to the district for school purposes. This building was sold to Jonathan LAY, Esq., and by his widow given to the First Ecclesiastical society for a conference room. After the erection of the present church, with its chapel room, it was sold to the town for a town hall and used for that purpose until the building of the present hall in 1881.

This building, the old "Conference House," as it was familiarly called, was as well known, and it will probably be as long remembered as any in town.

Among its various vicissitudes it was pretty well torn to pieces in 1837, during an anti-slavery meeting. Thereupon the ecclesiastical society voted that they "would not have any more abolition meetings in their meeting house or conference house."

The fourth and present school house in the First District was finished and occupied in 1839.

The Academy Association was formed in 1852, and the academy building was erected that year and occupied the following winter with about 80 scholars. Though this was the first building of the kind in town, a select school had been kept from four to six months in a year for a quarter of century, in various buildings. Edward D. RAWSON, the first principal, was a graduate of Amherst College. Under his preceptorship of two years the school probably enjoyed the greatest prosperity, though under his successors the school maintained its character and excellence for years. Many have gone forth from its teachings to make their mark in the world of letters, ad those who have settled down to the more humble and quiet walks of life look back with pride and pleasure to their "Alma Mater."


Westbrook furnished for the army, in the war of 1861-65, 55 of its natives and citizens. Of these, four were killed in battle, twelve were wounded, of whom two died in consequence, and sixteen died of disease or starvation. Several endured the miseries of Southern prisons.

The town was represented in many of the most severe struggles of the war. Its killed or wounded were on the field of Antietam and Fredericksburg, at Cedar Creek, Port Hudson, and Gettysburg, and in the Wilderness.

Five from this town entered the navy, two of whom were lieutenant commanders, one acting master, and one master's mate. One was on board of the Tuscarora in her cruise after the Alabama and Sumter, one was with Farragut in the Gulf Squadron, and one on board of the Ironsides in the attack on Fort Sumter, when that ironclad lay for two house, aground on a torpedo which did not explode, exposed to the fire of all the batteries in Charleston Harbor. One was severely wounded by being blown up with his vessel, by a torpedo, in a South Carolina river.

T. Nelson SPENCER entered the revenue service, and was promoted to the position of lieutenant, in which office he served during the war. He was afterward promoted to the position of captain, and died in the service, in 1874.

Twelve descendants of Captain Samuel CHAPMAN, one of the first settlers, and Deacon Jedediah, his son, who commanded a company in the Cape Breton expedition, in 1745, well represented the family in the war of the Rebellion.

In addition to the citizens of the town who took part in the great struggle, about 30 non-residents enlisted and served to its credit. A few of these were substitutes, but most enlisted for the bounty offered by the people and military subjects.

The Ladies' Soldiers' Aid Society was active throughout the war, and did much toward alleviating suffering and making pleasant the soldier's life in field and camp.


The Westbrook Agricultural Society was organized January 4th 1879, and incorporated by act of the Legislature, March 3d 1882. From small beginnings it has become an important society, and its fairs have been some of the best in the State.

Its first fair was held September 29th 1881, at which there were 901 exhibits for premiums. The number of premiums awarded was 564. Amount awarded, $250.35.

The second fair was held October 10th 1882, at which there were 1,188 entries. Amount of premiums awarded, $349.30.

The third fair was held October 10th 1883, at which premiums were awarded on 650 articles; amount, $337.09.

The fourth fair was held October 8th 1884, at which there were over 1,250 entries of animals and articles for premiums. There were 855 premiums awarded, amounting to about $360.00.

The object of the society according to its constitution, is to awaken and promote an intelligent interest in agriculture and kindred pursuits, and it has succeeded in this object beyond expectation.


This place is situated about three-quarters of a mile from the Congregational church, eastward, on the main street, and is so called from having been long in the possession of Colonel WORTHINGTON of Revolutionary fame. There is an old house standing on the premises. Its age is unknown, but William CHAPMAN, who died within a few years, at the advanced age of 95, remembered having carried dinner to carpenters who were repairing the building when he was a small boy. The structure was probably built over 200 years ago. This ancient house was used as a hotel in Revolutionary times, and it is said to have been the nearest to the sound of any on the line of the old turnpike between New Haven and New London. Some of the first counterfeiters of silver coin formerly occupied this dwelling. The made their money on an island, ad stored it in the northeast chamber of the house, in a cavity constructed in the casement so as not to attract attention. The paper on the wall of the southeast chamber was put on during the war of 1812. The ladies lit a lamp just at dark, whereupon the British fired at the house from a vessel on the Sound. One ball went over the building, three fell short of it. Near here is the site of one of the pox-houses to common in those days.


Of the pioneer families of the town many, as the GRINNELLS, BATES, and DUNCKS, have wholly disappeared. Of the LAYS, MURDOCKS, WRIGHTS, and JONESES, remnants remain, while the CHAPMANS,POSTS, STANNARDS, SPENCERS, and BUSHNELLS are yet representative families and numerous. The PRATTS and KIRTLANDS were later comers, though their ancestor, Lieutenant William PRATT, of Potopaug, and John KIRTLAND, the first tavern keeper in Saybrook, were settled but a mile or two away about 1640.

For nearly 200 years Westbrook was not without a Samuel CHAPMAN, a John STANNARD, a William BUSHNELL, and a Jared SPENCER.

The name of Robert LAY and Ephraim KELSEY existed here for a century and a half.


Blind Counter