The History of the Old Town of Derby, Connecticut, 1642 -- 188O.
Published: Press of Springfield Printing Company, Springfield, Mass., 1880.
Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15 Part 16 Part 17
1675 -- 1680.
"General Court at Hartford, May 13. 1675.
UPON the motion of Joseph Hawkins and John Hulls to have the privileges of a plantation granted to the inhabitants of Pawgassett there being about twelve families settled there already and more to the number of eleven preparing settlement forthwith, and that they have engaged a minister to come and settle amongst them speedily, and have expended about one hundred pounds in preparing a house for the minister; This Court for their encouragement do grant them the power and privilege of a plantation; and for their bounds, this Court do reserve power in their hands to settle their bounds (when they are informed of the state of those lands,) so as may be most accommodating and least inconvenient to the said Pawgasuck and the new town going up at Mattatock; and do order that the future dispose of lands within the bounds to be granted them and settlement of what is purchased already for improvement, shall be oidered and disposed by the committee appointed by this Court to see to the settlement of both the bounds and distribution of lands, so as may be best for the upholdment of a plantation as is now granted to them; which committee is Capt. John Nash, Capt Wm. Curtiss, Lieut. Thomas Munson.
"The plantation of Pawgasuck is by this Court named DERBY,* and is freed from Country Rates for three years next following, they defraying their own charges."
* DERBY, a shiretown of Derbyshire, England, 127 miles nearly north-west of London, was the town after which the new town was named, as some of these settlers came from that part of England.
Those intending "to come in forthwith," and who had received grants of land, were:
Mr. John Bowers,
All settled here within a few years except Mr. Hawley; Henry Tomlinson and Mr. Camp did not come in for some years, if at all.
The fact of being organized into a plantation guaranteed all the powers and privileges of an ecclesiastical society without a separate organization. The plantation, (or town as they began to call such organizations about that time,) held all powers which have since been delegated to ecclesiastical societies to provide for the preaching of the gospel, and thus it continued more than one hundred years, and there probably were no records other than town records of ecclesiastical doings in this parish until after the Revolution. The church proper kept records from the first, as is indicated in one or two town records which have been seen, but nothing of these can now be found.
Rev. John Bowers had been preaching here some time when the record of November, 1673, was made, and the proposition of the town to settle him and provide for his support proffered and accepted by him. He was in Branford, it is said, in 1671, and may have come here in the next year, but the probability is that he came first in the summer of 1673, and after a few months the proposition to settle him was fully considered and the conclusion reached as recorded, upon one condition, namely, that the Assembly would grant them to be a separate plantation, for they could not continue to pay to the support of Milford
church and support their own many years, as they were then situated.
Mr. Bowers's house was most likely built in the winter according to the agreement, and probably he made his home in it in the spring of 1674, as proposed. This house was located on the hill in the vicinity where the first meeting house was located: since his land is said in the records to have joined that of Francis French, Samuel Riggs and Jeremiah Johnson.
A vote of the town was passed in February, 1674, "that all lands granted and claimed within the bounds of Pawgassett should pay to the full maintenance of the minister, and that the minister's maintenance shall be levied by no other estate, but only by lands, and all lands shall be laid out and prized to tillable lands either in quantity or quality." So that those who had accepted grants of land, whether they occupied them or not, must pay their full share according as their land rated in the classes. The classes were as follows, being appraised in 1670, for Derby, by the court: "House lands twenty shillings per acre, other improved lands one-fourth part twenty shillings per acre, the other three-fourths ten shillings per acre, and all other lands improved [ without] fence, one shilling per acre."
Such were the efforts made by these few settlers at this time, in a deep, thick wilderness, to secure homes and the ordinances of the Gospel A little while, only, they were to live and labor, and then go hence to return no more. The Gospel brought the only hope of any good beyond their earthly toils, and without that, the wilderness, though it should blossom with every joy and comfort beside, would be but a wilderness of fears and death. The efforts of these persons were really wonderful, amazing! Twenty-three families, twelve only in the place, support a minister nearly two years, while at the same time paying their full share of ministerial tax elsewhere, and building a minister's house at a cost of one hundred pounds, and they in a new country, with but little land cleared upon which to raise any produce. In half of the twelve families the parents were married only a few years, and had but little with which to lay the foundation of their life work on new farms. Under these circumstances the struggle for success was beyond description. But three ways were open before them; to go without the
Gospel, or go to Milford, or support a minister at home. Nearly twenty years some of them had gone to Milford on Sunday and back, to obtain all the good they had had from the means of grace, and they knew quite well how much that cost.
A story is still told which illustrates the religious character of the people of that day and the perils of the wilderness. The occurrence must have taken place between 1670 and 1673. A family by the name of Johnson, (and there was but one here then,) before services were held in Paugassett, consisted of small children and the parents. The father went to Milford on Sunday morning to the meeting to remain to the two services. The mother was engaged dressing the children for the Sabbath, when sitting near the door which stood open, she heard some animal near it, and thought it to be a hog. But the next sound seemed different from such an animal, and she reached and shut the door which fastened with a latch, making it quite secure. She then rose and made it more secure by the usual method, and went upstairs and looked out the window to see what creature it was, when, lo! a bear of full size and power was seen. She took the gun, it being loaded for just such interesting occasions, and exercising the best of her skill, fired, and old bruin gave up his life at once. The hours of that day went slower in that house than ever before, until the master came. On arriving home the husband called the neighbors in general campconsultation as to whether it would be wicked to eat that bear, since he was killed on Sunday, for had it occurred on any other day except a fast day, there would have been no question, as such meat was judged quite delicious and healthful. The decision of the council was that since it was "killed in self-defense it would be Christianly consistent to eat the meat;" although how the bear could have entered the house to the injury of the family after being fastened out, is not easy to see at this late distance. The decision having been rendered, the animal lay untouched until the sun was quite down, when he was dressed, and furnished some two hundred pounds of provision. But it had cost a severe fright to that mother and her little ones. So far as she could judge the bear might be dead and harmless, or he might not; she could not venture out to see, and there she remained six hours in a prison of fear. Nor were the people
without their apprehensions of such visitors every day. After the father of this family had left that morning, another family on their way to Milford meeting, called, and the woman had it in her mind to propose to stay with the mother and children instead of going to the meeting, as she apprehended danger imminent to such a family.
Hence it was that this people petitioned so often and earnestly for the organization of a plantation, for with that would come the minister, the meeting services in their own vicinity, and new planters, as well as officers for the protection of life.
When, therefore, the young people of the present day propose to laugh at the faith of the old people, it would be well to consider how much those old people did and endured because of their faith, without which we should never have enjoyed the national grandeur and blessings which are now our inheritance. As well might a son smite his father for loving him as for the favored sons of the nineteenth century to laugh at the faith of their fathers of the seventeenth.
Most perfectly does the language of Dr. A. Beardsley paint the contrast between the old' and the new; the former days and the latter, and how much we are indebted to those who endured as seeing that which should be, but died without the sight.
"A simple narrative of events often becomes a mirror, reflecting the good or ill, the great or ignoble of mankind. In our small and ancient settlements germinated the government of this western world, which has so long provoked the admiration and terror of despotic Europe.
Our commonwealth was among the first to lead the way. The little Colonies began upon the shores of the sea-coast and the principal rivers, and as they became extended it required their combined power to protect themselves against the savage, who might justly have styled himself king in his own land. The settlements, uniting in a common defense and for a common humanity, found it inconvenient to assemble their freemen, and deputies were convened to enact laws and regulations, deriving authority directly from the people. The head of the family was the mouth-piece, the ruling, governing principle; tainted by no bribery, corruption, fraud or inglorious love of money, and
thus originated the purest democracy the world ever saw. The river settlements and those emanating therefrom voluntarily attached themselves to the center at Hartford, while those upon the sea-shore joined New Haven, but in time it was more reasonable and more safe to connect the two, and thus we had given us under one name, Connecticut. From the river and shore Colonies, peopled mostly from Massachusetts and fresh importations, emanated a second class of settlements branching out into the country.
Derby, long known by the Indian name of Paugassett, was one of this class, and she has the honor of being the first inland settlement made up the Naugatuck valley. Being an offshoot from Milford, Stratford, and New Haven, the pioneers were few, and her early growth gradual. Just two hundred and twenty-six years ago the sturdy Englishman, guided by the river banks with no pathway save the Indian's trail, set foot upon this soil, to survey in wonder and pious devotion these hills and this valley in all their primitive loveliness. Shining rivers, laughing brooks, trees and flowers ip all their wild variety, through changing seasons spake their Maker's praise, while the wilderness was enlivened by birds, savage beasts, and still more savage man.
How great, how astonishing, the change as we look out upon this amphitheater of picturesque scenery, teeming with her population of thousands, noisy with the roar of waters, the hum of machinery, the shudder of gongs, the shriek of the steam whistle, and the varied voices of industry and enterprise, all blending and harmonizing in one perpetual song of development and progress!
As we look back through the dim retrospect and trace the early footprints of barbarism down to the higher walks of civilization, and then consider what grandeur the principles of this civilization has wrought out within this brief period, how refreshing, how consoling the thought that our lot has been cast in more favored times. Nor should we forget or despise the endurance, the courage and the faith of those who have given us this inheritance. These early settlers had within them elements of success, besides a divinity of purpose, and like most of the New England settlers, were descended from the upper
stratum of society; the very brain, bone and muscle of the Old World. The more we study the more we admire the simplicity and honesty of their character. They came to this country for high and noble pursuits, and among these they chose to worship God after the dictates of their own conscience. They had their failings, incident to humanity, for which they have ever been ridiculed and criticised by writers and travelers, but some author in his warm defense of the Pilgrims has ventured the remark that, "God sifted a whole nation that he might send good grain into the western wilderness."
The long toil of twenty years in the wilderness was sufficient to convince the stately General Court at Hartford that it would be safe to grant the humble petition of these faithful subjects and to condescend to meet the demands of justice, which had long laid prostrate at their feet. There is something pitifully ignoble in the deliverance of the court when granting the petition. "This court for their encouragement do grant." They did not need encouragement, having shown a marvelous amount of courage in themselves under the puerile reproaches of the New Haven court, and the surprising indecision of the General Court. One writer has stated that a general rule had been established in the state that no less than thirty families would constitute sufficient foundation for the organization of a plantation, but this is an error. The court judged that in this case such a number would seem to be the least that could be trusted to sustain the grant if once given. But had not this little company surpassed all their surrounding neighbors in supporting a plantation in fact years before the honor was conferred upon them? And not only so, but had they not all the time been helping poor Milford pay her minister, repair her meeting-house, and discharge her town obligations, besides killing the wolves to save her sheep, and for which she refused to make any considerations to the hero, Edward Wooster? Twelve families at Paugassett, pleading for the privileges granted to, and sustaining themselves equally with, one hundred and fifty families at Milford! Need of encouragement! "This Court, emulating the courage of the planters at Paugassett, do grant, pledge our support," would have sounded far better for that Assembly after those twenty years of stinted confidence. At the very start the
New Haven court, by the weight of its own power, after fully establishing the plantation, broke it down, and then complained of the want of energy of the planters, and threatened to make their village a desolation if they did not do something worthy of themselves. How often since that day has the same spirit ruled? The strong, well-fed man; the rich, the honored, have tauntingly asked, Why does not Mr. Jones rise up and show himself a man? Why does not Mr. Smith use his money so as to make himself somebody? And then place their iron heels upon the necks of the same men at each different business transaction in life, and grind them until the mystery is that there is any courage or manliness left.
But at last Derby had a name and a place in the little constellation then rising along the shore of a mighty continent.
Scarcely had the town time to elect its officers after receiving the glad tidings of its authority, when the sound of terrible war rolled over the whole land; and worst of all, an Indian war. King Philip had kindled the fires, and the smoke began to be seen. On the first day of July, 1675, intelligence of the breaking out of the Indian war in Plymouth Colony, and of the danger to which the eastern towns in Connecticut were exposed was received from New London and Stonington by the governor and council, and the governor convened the court on the ninth of the same month to take action in the matter. The reports, which were found afterwards to be too true, represented that the Indians were in arms in Plymouth and in the Narragansett country, that they had assaulted the English, slain about thirty persons, burned some houses, and were engaging other Indians as far as possible "by sending locks of some English they have slain, from one place to another." The court appointed a council to have this matter in charge after the adjournment of that body, and ordered troops to be raised and dispatched as speedily as possible to the relief of the people in the eastern part of the state. Evidences soon came that the Long Island Indians were being persuaded to join in the effort for a general extermination of the English.
In addition to all this, Governor Andros, then of New York, being informed of the Indian troubles, appeared at Saybrook on the 8th of July, 1675, with two sloops bearing armed forces,
under pretense of rendering aid against the Indians, gave the Colonies great suspicion that he was secretly inciting the Indians to this hostility and general uprising against the English, in order to wrest from the Colonies their liberties.
In a letter sent by the General Court at Hartford, dated July 1, 1765, to the magistrates at New Haven and the south-western towns, after describing the perils of the time, it is said: "The people of Stonington and New London send for aid, and accordingly we purpose to send them forty-two men to-morrow, and have given order to ye several plantations here to put themselves in a posture of defence speedily; and these lines are to move yourselves forthwith, to see that the same care be taken in your parts for your security, and that all the plantations have notice hereof, both Guilford and so onward to Rye, that they also be complete in their arms, with ammunition according to law."
The hostility of the Indians was confined apparently to those of the eastern part of the state, and Major Robert Treat of Milford being made commanding general of the forces of Connecticut, was sent to the eastern part of the state, taking the soldiers raised by proportion from the plantations. How many went from Derby* is not definitely known, but taking all the drafts made in the summer of 1675, a few must have been taken, although the council very thoughtfully directed that in this matter the "smaller plantations be considered and favored in the press."
Revs. Mr. Bowers and Mr. Walker say in their address to the General .Court, after the war, that there were more taken from Derby and Woodbury than was the proportion for those towns.
On the sixth of August, the Council ordered that: "The Providence of God permitting the heathen to make disturbance amongst the English by hostile attempts upon them, hath occasioned forces already to be sent forth, and brings a necessity upon us to take special order, therefore, that all persons be duly prepared and provide with arms and ammunition according to law; and therefore upon this urgent and necessitous occasion
* There was a John Hull, surgeon in the army in this war, but he was of Kennelworth, according to the records, whenever his residence is mentioned; besides Dr. John, of Derby, is always recorded with the s to his name, Hulls.
law; and therefore upon this urgent and necessitous occasion the council hath seen special reason to declare and order that all those who are to provide arms and ammunition according to law, meet on Monday morning next by sun an hour high at the meeting house, in their respective plantations, upon the penalty of the forfeiture of five shillings for non-appearance, there to attend such farther directions as shall be given them in charge by their commanders."
Although the Derby people had no meeting-house at which to assemble, yet there must have been gathered that morning fifteen or twenty soldiers at the accustomed place of worship, to be examined as to their compliance with the law in providing themselves with guns, ammunition and war equipments, and while they gathered Indians were near observers on every side.
There was not at this time any regularly organized military company in the town, but as they were to take care of the interests in their own town, it is probable that some minor officer was appointed by Milford, if there were none in regular standing in Paugassett.
On the first of September next, the Council being informed that "the Indians being in a hostile manner, prepared with their arms near Pawgasuck, and Mr. Bryan had posted to them for help," and that other demonstrations of hostility in the western part of the state were manifested, recalled Major Treat from the east to Hartford to protect the people. This is the first and the only mention in the records of hostility by the Paugassett Indians or their neighboring brethren. The Milford Indians complained to the Council about this time of severe treatment by the English, and the council wisely and properly ordered that special care should be observed not to give the Indians reason for unkind feelings.
It was ordered also (Sept. 3), "that in the several plantations of the Colony there be kept a sufficient watch in the night, which watch is to be continued from the shutting in of the evening till the sun rise," and that one-fourth part of each town be in arms every day by turns, to be a guard in their respective plantations; to be ordered and disposed as the chief military officers shall appoint; and all soldiers from sixteen to seventy years of age, (magistrates, commissioners, ministers, commission
officers, school masters, physicians and millers excepted,) are to attend their course of watch and ward as they shall be appointed. It is also ordered that, during these present commotions with the Indians, such persons as have occasion to work in the fields shall work in companies, if they be half a mile from town, not less than six in a company, with their arms and ammunition well fixed and fitted for service. And whosoever shall not attend these foregoing orders shall forfeit for every defect, five shillings, provided it be complained of within fourteen days; any one Assistant or Commissioner to hear and determine any one such defect."
At the same time it was ordered that "whosoever shall shoot off a gun without command from some magistrate or military commander, until further order be given by authority, he shall forfeit for every such transgression the sum of five shillings."
It was under such circumstances that Derby asked advice of the Court what they should do to secure themselves from harm, and received this answer: "Oct. 14, 1674. The Court return that they judge it the best and safest way to remove their best goods and their corn, what they can of it, with their wives and children, to some bigger town, who, in a way of Providence, may be in a better capacity to defend it, and that those that stay in the town do well fortify themselves and stand upon their guard, and hasten their removal of their corn as aforesaid what they may; and all inhabitants belonging to the place may be compelled by warrant from any Assistant to reside there until this may be done. The like advice is by this court given to all small places and farms throughout this colony to be observed."
It will be seen by this that all were to remain until the corn was mostly gathered, which would be but about a month, but it soon became more apparent that the Mohegan and Pequot Indians and the Indians west of the Connecticut river, were not in the league against the English and could be trusted as friends, and as allies in defending the colonies. And the first fright of the people on the Ousatonic having passed away, and the fact that the Indians of Milford had appealed to the court for protection, gave strong assurances that the western planters were comparatively safe.
That Mr. Bowers and some of the other families removed to
Milford that winter is quite certain,* but it is also quite certain that a number of them remained and continued their work as usual, with doubtless the observance of the suggestions intimated by the court. Although they built no regular fort, they may have fortified their houses** as well as their hearts, in a comparatively secure manner, and especially so, so long as the Indians of Derby were friendly and on the watch for the enemy. The transactions of the town recorded in the spring and summer of 1676, show that the place was not deserted, but that the spirit of enterprise and progress still reigned triumphant with that marvelously persevering community. What they could not withstand has not yet been written, if ever it shall be.
In the spring of 1676, several town meetings were held; a grant of land was made to Mr. Bowers of three acres of David's meadow; Edward Wooster was engaged to make a "highway through the Long lot and the fishing place to the most convenient place to carry corn and other goods, or land them, . . the highway is to be a sufficient highway for two carts to pass." And in the autumn of that year they were active in the same manner, appropriating and laying out lands, and making improvements.
When the Assembly granted them the powers and privileges of a town, a committee was appointed to fix a place for a ferry and settle some matters of dispute as to lands which had been purchased by individuals above Birmingham, or on what was then called the Neck, which included land between 'the Ousatonic and Naugatuck rivers, which the town claimed the right to control, and to make apportionment to the purchasers in common with the other inhabitants. This land had been purchased in two parcels, forming a belt across the Neck, the northern boundary being at Four-mile brook and across to what is now West Ansonia, or thereabout.
* "In October, 1676, Mr. Bowers with Rev. Mr. Walker of Wooclbury, addressed a letter to the General Court, saying: "We make bold before our return to request this honored court to resolve us in one important inquiry, namely: In case the war with the Indians should be again renewed, what may we expect and trust to, from the authority of this colony, in order to our protection?"
** We learn from President Stiles's History ol the Judges, that Edward Riggs's house was fortified in the years of the early settlement, and if so, was probably again made as a fort for the people to resort to if necessary, during the Indian war of 1675.
The report is a little lengthy, but shows the progress of settlement, and some old landmarks of importance. Mr. Joseph Hawley and Jonas Tomlinson of Stratford, had made one of these purchases, and the former had built a house on his land in the vicinity now known as Baldwin's Corners, and Mr. Tomlinson had commenced a house at the same place. The work of the committee was concluded in February 1676-7, but reported the following May.
At the time of the appointment of this committee, the Court ordered that the town of Stratford should "lay out a country highway, from their town to Pawgasuck, in the most convenient place where the ferry shall be settled."
Derby the 28th February, 1676.
At a meeting of the Committee, appointed by the General Court, May, 1675, to state a place for a ferry and a highway from it to Woodbury, and for the distribution of lands in settlement of the place etc.
And first concerning the ferry, they order and appoint it to be at the lower end of the old Indian field, and that little piece of land between the rocks and the gully or creek, to be for a place to build any house or houses upon, and yards for securing of goods or cattle that may be brought to the ferry, from Woodbury. Mattatuck etc
Also for the encouragement of a ferryman, they appoint eight acres of land out of the said old field, next adjoining the aforesaid little piece of land, beginning at the said gully or creek, to be Jaid out from the highway by the river to the hill, of a like breadth in front and rear, and upon the hill fourteen acres of land adjoining to the aforesaid rocks and land on the southwest of it, with an highway to the ferry from the highway that goeth from Joseph Hawkins; and also six acres of swamp or low land upon that hill against the said old field, as near and as convenient as may be for the making of meadow; and also a proportion with others of tillable land upon the hills in any common field that shall be fenced in for the inhabitants that dwell above the ferry upon that Neck; and also commonage with other inhabitants proportionably.
Also they do appoint a highway of four rod wide from the said ferry by the river side upward towards Woodbury, unto the upper end of the aforesaid old field unto the highway that is now used towards Woodbury,
bury, and also that the highway from Joseph Hawkins's house to Mr. Hawley's lie where, or very near where it now doth. Lieutenant Joseph Judson, declared that if the inhabitants of Derby, would put in a ferryman in convenient time, they were content, or else upon notice given they of Woodbury would put in one whom the town of Derby should approve for an inhabitant, and that without any charge to Derby or the country.
And for the distribution of lands and settlement, for the farthering the plantation of Derby, they have viewed the lands and considered the state of things there, and finding some difficulties and inconveniences, there having been several tracts of land purchased by several persons at several times, both of English and Indians, and after consideration for the best good of the place, with their best judgment, order as follows; first, for the lands on the Great Neck. Mr. Hawly having built a house upon one which himself with Jonas Tomlinson had from the Indians, they do appoint unto the said Mr. Hawly and Jonas Tomlinson all that land both above and below and the said house which they have fenced and improved, and also all the rest of the improvable lands for tillage or orchards below the hills, within that purchase to the river; and also any low and swampy land, to make meadow, which is within that said purchase; and that the said Mr. Hawly and Jonas Tomlinson, the one having built a house and the other having begun to build, do finish each of them a dwelling house, and both of them dwell upon it and become inhabitants there, or settle each of them an inhabitant approved by the town, within one year next ensuing, or else the town of Derby or such as the Court shall appoint shall have power to dispose of the said lands and homesteads to such as will come and settle inhabitants with them, and they divide their proportions as they may agree: secondly, for the rest of the lands below the said Hawley's, between the river and the hill (to wit. that plane where the old fort stood, and the adjoining land and the old field, as low as the ferry land) be divided unto at least six or seven inhabitants, and they to have home lots at the upper end towards Mr. Hawley's, and each or them four acres to his home lot, and to be at as little distance from each other as the place will bear, and the rest of the said plane and old field to be equally divided among those six or seven, and that the low, moist or swamp ground upon the hills be laid out to the said six or seven in proportion, to make meadow, after the six acres for the ferry is laid out as aforesaid; and also any land that is fit for
tillage upon the hills (within the purchase from Mr. Bryan) shall be divided among the seven or more inhabitants, and also any farther field or fields that the aforesaid seven or more inhabitants together with the ferryman shall have need of and desire to take in and improve upon the hills above Mr. Hawley's house until each of them have his quantity of fifty acres beside swamp land for meadow, leaving liberty to the town to add to a man of more than ordinary use among them twenty acres, or within that quantity as they shall see cause. And then the rest of the lands within that neck to lie in common, until the town or such as the Court shall appoint, see cause farther to dispose for encouragements of inhabitants there.
Thirdly, that Plum meadow and the adjacent land is by estimation about twenty acres, lying on the east side the river that cometh from Naugatuck, be divided to accommodate at least two inhabitants.
John Nash, William Curtiss, Thomas Munson.
The Court confirmed all the above, except granting Mr. Hawley and Mr. Tomlinson longer time to settle their land.
The Old field was a cleared tract of land lying west of the Naugatuck a little back from the river, extending so far as to include about sixty acres.
The Old Indian fort, stood near Baldwin's Corners, a little south possibly. The New Indian fort was on the east bank of the Ousatonic, on what has been known many years as the Talmadge Beardsley place. The old fort must have been built before the English came to the place, and the new one after they came, as it is said to have been built on the river bank for the purpose of preventing the English sailing up the river.
In 1678, this land was laid out according to the directions of the Court; to Mr. Hawley, Mr. Tomlinson, and the ferry-man whoever he should be, and to the six men to whom were to be apportioned fifty acres each, who were: William Tomlinson, Samuel Brinsmade, Samuel Nichols, Isaac Nichols, afterwards one of the first deacons of the church, John Pringle and John Hubbell, all of whom settled in the town.
Plum Meadow, was a piece of land, as said, on the east side of the Naugatuck, and is probably that now occupied by the lower part of Ansonia; or it may have been half a mile up
Beaver brook. Of this meadow, twelve acres were allotted to Thomas Wooster, son of Edward, at this time, and some of it to his brother David, in 1680; and a part of it to Samuel Griffin, the blacksmith, in 1682.
But the difficulty between Mr. Hawley and the town as to these lands was not yet settled, and in 1679 Mr. Hawley had sued the town, and the town appointed Joseph Hawkins and Abel Gunn to defend in the trial. Mr. Hawley at the same time petitioned the Court for just pay for his land, and a full proportionment for his son, and the Court appointed the same committee as before, who rendered their decision promptly, but the matter did not become adjusted, and in 1679 the Court sent a committee to see the land measured; the deeds which Mr. Hawley held (received from the Indians) delivered to the town, and the money paid, or guaranteed to Mr. Hawley. The committee made their report the next year, and Samuel, son of Joseph Hawley is spoken of, as owning the land at what is now Baldwin's Corners.
The following shows how the town paid Mr. Hawley.
March 31. 1680-81. Paid by the Town of Derby to Mr. Joseph Hawley of Stratford for his purchases on the Great Neck. s. d. Item. Paid by Mr John Bowers £1 5 0 Paid by Jonas Tornlinson 6 8 Paid by Jonas Tomlinson 17 0 Paid by Wm. Tomlinson 3 11 0 Paid by Jonas Tomlinson for Francis French 8 0 Apr. 13 Paid by 4 bushels, 3 pecks of Indian corn 11 10 1-2 Paid by Francis French 8 9 Paid by a cow hide 33 lbs. 2 oz 8 10 1-2 Paid by Indian corn 18 bushels & a peck 2 5 7 1-2 " " 15 bushels & a half Indian corn 1 18 9 " " Joseph Hawkins in Indian corn 0 12 0 " " a bushel summer wheat & DaBrinsmead 0 17 5 " " 13 lbs. hops 10 10 " " Samuel Nichols 3 bushels & 1-22 a peck of wheat 18 1 1-2 Apr. 14 Mr. Isaac Nichols of Stratford 6 05 5 Mar. 15 Mr. Hawley one rate 6 0 -------------- 21 11 6
March 31. 1680. Money paid by the town of Derby to Mr. Nicholas Camp for Mr. Joseph Hawley & by his appointment as the Court ordered us s. d. One steer of two year old & upward 2 17 6 By John Prindle to Mr. Camp 6 05 6 Per four yards & a half of cloth 1 02 9 Per Ebenezer Johnson 0 16 2 Per 7 bushels & half a peck of Indian corn & 1 bushel & three pecks of rye 1 4 9 1-2 -------------- 12 6 8 1-2 March 31, 1680. Paid by the town of Derby to captain John Beard for Mr. Joseph Hawley & by his appointment . . s. d. Paid by Mr. Bryans Bill 1 15 6 Paid by two 2 year old steers 4 10 0 Paid by Mr. Richard Bryan 2 10 0 Paid by Flax 7 pounds & a quarter 6 0 -------------- 9 1 6 Per Samuel Nichols 3 bushels 1-2 peck wheat 18 1 1-2 & 13 lbs hops 10 10 Apr. 14. Paid by Isaac Nichols of Stratford in soap 5 5 5
No traditions are now heard about this ferry; every one supposing that the first and only ferry was just above Derby Narrows. But several circumstances as well as as the wording of the report establish the locality of the ferry.
Woodbury was very much interested in the ferry and did finally plant it, as will be seen, but that people had no use for a ferry across the Ousatonic at old Derby landing, for they would not wish to cross the Ousatonic above Derby, for the sake of crossing it again below that place. The Derby people had no need of a ferry at that place for all lived some distance up the river. Again the people on the Neck did need some way to cross the Naugatuck when the water was high; and the only path or road out of the plantation, south or east, was from Old Town and several of them owned land which they cultivated on Sentinel hill, besides the meetings were held on the east side where they were about to build a church.
The ferry was established at the place where the old New Haven road now crosses the race between Ansonia and Birmingham on the west side of the Naugatuck valley, where was then the main bed of the Naugatuck river. Here was the "point of rocks," and "the gully" mentioned in the report, and the "little piece of land" on which to build houses for the protection of cattle and other merchandise that might come thither to be freighted across. Besides, the ferry-man's land was to join this little piece of land; and when this land was laid out in 1683, the lot of one of the six men who were to be settled near Mr. Hawley's house was laid, bounding on Mr. Henry Williams's lot, who was the ferry-man, and both of these lots were in the old field. The location of Mr. Hawley's house is fixed very definitely by the town records in the vicinity of Baldwin's Corners.
When the committee made this report on a ferry, Woodbury offered to put in the ferry and furnish the ferry-man if Derby could not or did not do it. This offer they fulfilled upon the invitation of Derby. The agreement of Woodbury and the ferryman was by the faithful Abel Gunn recorded among the land deeds, where it might surely be a witness to the engagement.
"Woodbury Sept. 8, 1681. Be it known . . that we the Selectmen of Woodbury on the one part and Henry Williams on the other part in order to the settlement of a ferry at Derby, appointed by the General Court:
"First. That the said Henry Williams shall have the boat that belongs to the town of Woodbury, furnished and fixed as his own
"That the said Henry Williams shall have as his ferryage for those of Woodbury that have occasion to improve him, if a single person and horse, then at six pence per time ferryage, and two persons with one horse eight pence; two horses and two persons or more at four pence per person for each time ferried over.
"It is concluded that this shall no ways hinder any travelers from Woodbury riding over the river at any season when with safety . . they may adventure.
"It is concluded that our interest in that accommodation settled by the aforesaid committee of a ferry with the consent and approbation of our neighbors and friends of Derby, shall be and remain the said Williams's absolute propriety during his well and seasonable attending the
said ferry, at his own charge and cost successively as it relates to providing boats forever.
"That this is our mutual agreement is signified by our subscribing hereto.
The families as established on the west side of the Naugatuck river in 1681, as near as can be ascertained were Joseph Hawkins, John Pringle, [This name was written with a "g" instead of "d" nearly too years.] who may have resided a short time on the east side, William Tomlinson, son of Henry, of Stratford, Samuel Brinsmade, Samuel Nichols, Isaac Nichols, John Hubbell, who afterwards removed from the town, and Henry Williams, the ferry-man.
It does not appear, so far as seen, that any of Mr. Hawley's family had settled in the house he had built here. Samuel may have lived here a short time, but soon after he is said to be of Stratford. A large grant was made to him afterwards in the western part of the town, which he may have accepted in place of this at Baldwin's Corners.
There may have been other residents here who were not yet accepted as inhabitants. Isaac Nichols, sen., may have been proprietor instead of his son Isaac, or he may have resided with one of his sons, and yet he may have come later.
In 1677 town meetings were held nearly every month, and grants of land made on the usual conditions to Daniel Collins, Samuel Nichols, Josiah Nichols, Paul Brinsmade and William Tomlinson, who all afterwards settled in the town, probably within the two years following.
The town located several pieces of land for Mr. Bowers according to the agreement made in 1673; and the whole community seemed to put on new courage, without regard to what had passed. They do not seem to have once looked behind them, for, having escaped the land of bondage, they did not desire to go back, not even for leeks and onions, but rather to find
the milk and honey of the land possessed and now their own in the truest sense.
Hence, early in the year they commence a movement of progress that would constitute them truly an independent people, so far as methods, privileges and established ordinances could secure that end -- the organization of a church. They had nobly wrought out, step by step, and scarcely more than a step at a time were they allowed to go by the authorities who should have lent a helping hand, their right to the privilege of a township.
One thing should not be forgotten; that, whatever the character of the red man as generally reported, the Indians, in and around Derby, during the King Philip's war, were true friends to their neighbors, the white man, never harming one hair of his head, but the rather rendering important service, so far as all reports and records show, and hence the planters moved on, after a brief pause, almost as though no war had existed in the country; and the taking possession of this old field, and building houses at the door of the Indians' wigwams caused the Indians to remove to the new Indian fort, and to Wesquantock.
At Milford the church was first organized, then the town out of the church, or by the authority of the church. In Derby the town was first organized, then the church, by the authority of the town and the state.
"At a town meeting of Derby. Feb. 25, 1677. The Lord having by his providence called a company of his dear servants into this corner of the wilderness, calls upon us first to seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, which hath put several persons upon the enquiry of the town for their free will and consent to gather a church at Derby and to walk in a church and set up the ordinances of God according to gospel rules as near as we can attain, according to our best light. The town having had two meetings about the same. The first, all the inhabitants were willing, and gave their consent in the thing; at the second meeting which was Feb. 25, 1677. all gave their consent by word of mouth, not to hinder so great and so good a work, but do encourage to set upon it and will help to maintain if settled, and give their consent to ask counsel and consent of neighboring churches in order to a church gathering."
This done, a petition was prepared to set before the court the desire of the inhabitants; which was dated May 6, 1678, and signed by John Bowers, John Hulls and Joseph Hawkins. This petition appears in Mr. Bowers's handwriting, and is a wearisome thing to read, and if his preaching was like this writing.it would be a sufficient ordeal for all the grace common mortals obtain to hear him preach two sermons a week the year through.
On the 30th day of the next April (1678) the town appointed Joseph Hawkins and Abel Gunn to go to the General Court with the petition and secure its request, "provided it be for the good of the town." A certificate was given these men as their authority, signed by John Hulls and Samuel Riggs, and recorded on the town book by the faithful Abel Gunn.
In reply to this petition the court made its record dated at Hartford, May 9, 1678:
"Upon the petition of the inhabitants of Derby this court do see good reason to grant the said people of Derby free liberty in an orderly way to settle themselves in a church state; and do desire the Lord's gracious blessing presence to be with them, guiding and directing them therein.
"In regard to the troubles that have been there late years, the court see cause to remit unto the inhabitants of Derby their ordinary country rates for three years, to commence October next."
The troubles referred to were probably the partial removal of the inhabitants during King Philip's war, and the consequent losses and expenses.
No records of the organization and attendant ceremonies are to be found, but the "orderly way" enjoined by the court, and the request that the court should give its consent "to ask counsel and consent of neighboring churches in order to a church gathering," guarantee that the usual order and services were observed. There are no traditions as to where or in what house such services were held, nor whose was the house in which Mr. Bowers held services, some five years before the meeting-house was built, but with the spirit and devotion manifested there is no reason to doubt that ready accommodations were cheerfully offered in the dwelling-houses of the place. It is possible that the first three or four houses were log-houses, and after that
others may have been built in the newer settlements, but after the laying out of the first land the houses seem to have been constructed with a frame and covered with clapboards and shingles; these being rived from the logs instead of sawed, there being no saw mill nearer than Milford at that time.
The organization of this church was strictly in accordance with law.* They first asked authority of the town, next of the state (colony then), then the advice and consent of neighboring churches. No church could be organized at that time withont consent of the court, no doing in church matters without such consent would have been legal, and all such illegal acts were punishable by law. When New Haven and Milford organized their churches they were under no jurisdiction, but with Derby it was very different. Nor is it surprising that it was so, for the colonists had come from the mother country, where the church was the state, and the state was the church as to authority in government.
Mr. Bowers was probably installed at the same time the church was organized. The only mystery in the lives of these planters is, that demanding certain rights of freedom, they could not see the propriety of granting the same to others. Aside from this they did surprisingly well.
It was a misfortune, or more definitely a want of wisdom, that when they sought to become more truly devoted to religious life, they went back three thousand years and placed themselves voluntarily under the old Mosaic laws, instead of taking the gospel of Christ as revealed in the sermon on the mount. However, it is just the same thing that is re-enacted over and over at the present day; most of the dissenters from any denomination go back, for one thing or another, two hundred and a thousand years; and some as far back as Moses, again,
* "This Court orders that there shall be no ministry or Church dministration entertained or attended by the inhabitants of any plantation in this colony district and separate from and in opposition to that which is openly and publicly observed and dispensed by the settled and improved minister of the place, except it be by approbation of the General Court and neighboring churches, provided always that this order shall not hinder any private meetings of godly persons to attend any duties that Christianity or religion call for, as fasts or conference, nor take place in such as are hindered by any just impediments on the Sabbath day from the public assemblies by weather and water and the like." Col. Rec. I, 311.
to find what they are pleased to call "the old paths." But this their folly is their ruin. Forward, not backward, says the gospel.
At a general court held at Hartford October 11, 1677, notices were sent to the towns as follows:
"This court doth grant a rate of eight pence upon the pound upon all the ratable estate of the Colony, to discharge the country debts, to be paid in good and merchantable wheat, peas and Indian corn, pork and beef; winter wheat at five shillings per bushel; corn at 2 shillings and six pence per bushel; pork at three pounds ten shillings per barrel . . and beef . . forty shillings per barrel; always provided if there be above one third paid in Indian corn it shall be at two shillings per bushel."
This last item indicates what was the great article of exchange, because of the abundance of it. Corn grew everywhere except in the swamps, and rewarded the planter with larger profits than any other kind of grain. Wheat was the gold coin, or standard, for paying taxes or anything that must be paid, or in other words was demanded by law, but corn was the silver exchange, and fell a few grains short of the standard under some circumstances. However, in the simplicity of their arithmetical calculations they had not learned to equalize the matter by making the bushel a few grains short when the supply was abundant. That art was left for the high aspirations of later ages; they could not compass all things in one generation!
Possibly this abundance of corn and corn meal for bread was the foundation of that remarkable physical strength, great endurance and long life experienced by the people of the new settlements during the early times of pioneer life. Certain it is that Indian pudding was an article well known in Connecticut. In one town many years since a peddler sold his wares at different times and observing that the people of the principal road in the town always had hasty pudding at their meals, honored that part of the town with the name Pudding street, and from such glory that street has never yet escaped.
In the northern part of Litchfield, Conn., lived a sedate old captain, whose word was never doubted, who used to make the re-
mark of honor to his wife, that she had made an "Indian pudding every day for forty years, Sundays excused." That was steady habits, as to food, sufficient for any granivorous enthusiast on the continent, in all probability.
Corn was the circulating medium more than a hundred years in Derby, and not much less than that time a legal tender, by colonial law, without depreciation of value, except when more than one-third of the taxes was paid in that commodity.
The methods and customs of living, were very simple at this time, and that of necessity, but were seasoned with more cultivation than became the practice one hundred years later. The necessity for perpetual work under circumstances of privation and great difficulties, had not a refining effect on society; and add to this, the consequent very limited social opportunities, and want of general education, and there is a state of community favorable to indifference to culture, with a tendency to morbid roughness of manners and language, and hence, in the general, society degenerated during the first hundred years, rather than improved. The privations were greater at first, but afterward, habit made it honorable to make much out of little, and, to see, not how much comfort could be secured, but how much discomfort could be endured, and maintain a respectable existence. Sacrifices became the heroic idea, and men, women and children, were subjected to needless hardships, to test their physical powers and spirit of subjection to the idea of honor in sacrifices.
The year 1678, was one of great activity and considerable success. Lands were appropriated by small pieces, for special accommodation, and also to be rid of some pieces left in the divisions already made. The land continued to be parceled out by pieces of three, four, five and ten acres as at the beginning. The first settlers, supposed there could be no good meadow, except in the swamps, (an old country idea) and hence, every swamp was as carefully divided into pieces of two, three and four acres, as though they were the very fountains of life. Every hill, covered with scattering cedars, was pieced out in the same way, lor plow land. Sentinel hill, which then meant the whole elevated land for a mile and a half or more, east and southeast of the present Old town, (or Uptown) was parceled
out into ten-acre pieces, and home lots of three acres, but several pieces were inclosed by one fence around the whole, making a lot of a hundred acres. Home lots of four acres were laid on Great hill after 1700, just the same, and the swamp and upland the same. Hence, there was much buying and selling of lots, in order to get the farms into one body. Whenever these sales or exchanges were made, no deeds (usually) were given, but the fact entered by the town clerk upon the records, and that was all. One book contains nearly all the deeds, exchanges, records of town meetings, marriages, deaths, births, marks of cattle, that were made before seventeen hundred. Besides, when the General Court enacted regulations effecting the town directly, that faithful recorder, Abel Gunn, wrote them in this book. In October, 1677, the Court sent him the nominations made for the next spring election, and down he put them, in this book, many of them in an abbreviated form, as Major Robt. Treat Esq., Cap. Ben Newberry, Mr. Sam Sherman, Mr. Ed Griswold, Cap. Dan Clark, Mr. Dan Wetherell, Leu. Rich Olmsted.
As to faithfulness, Abel Gunn was not surpassed, except in the record of births, and in that only by Rev. John James, who as Town Clerk made this entry: "At a town meeting, Jan. 13, 1700-1, Samuel Riggs, son of John and Elizabeth Riggs, was born, at Derby." "Born at a town meeting" would suggest, that young Samuel should have delayed important events, or the town meeting should have adjourned to another place. Promptness, however, has been characteristic of the Riggses, from Capt. Samuel, down, as is still witnessed by the appearance of the old farm, and hence, there could be no delay out of respect to a town meeting.
In this year it is recorded, that Joseph Gardner, having built a small house upon a lot that was formerly granted him upon conditions, which were never fulfilled, "therefore, the town have taken the forfeiture into their own custody, and sold it to Philip Denman for thirty shillings." If this was the usual cost of houses, they were not very safe fortifications against bears or Indians.
In laying out land this year on the Neck, the locations are designated by Paul's Plains, East hill, Indian field. Bar Plains;
which last is supposed by some, to have meant Bare plains, but as there was another name for land a little further up the river, apparently called Baren plains, the former may have been called Bear plains, where the bears came to obtain grass.
Boundaries between adjoining towns received attention, both by the General Court and the town, and of the difficulties in this matter there was no end for a hundred years.
In April of this year, a tract of land was purchased of the Indians,* at what is now Seymour village, lying on both sides of the Naugatuck river, including what is now district number five and district number four, to Bladen's brook, and extending east into Woodbridge and Bethany to Mill river. In this deed, a reservation was made by the Indians of "the fishing place at Naugatuck and the plain and the hill." This was probably mostly on the east side of the river, but may have, by the term "fishing place," taken in some land on the west side. This was the land on which Chuse and his company settled. Mr. J. W. Barber [Hist. Col. 199.] says Chuse's father, gave him this land, then called the Indian field. But this was the reservation of the Paugasuck Indians. Yes, and the Pootatucks as well, for the leading men of each tribe signed deeds conjointly, for many years, denoting general property ownership. Mr. Barber says,
* "This indenture made the 22d. of April, 1678, witnesseth that we do sell unto the inhabitants, a tract of land at Pagasett, bounded on the north with Bladen's brook, and northeast with the Mill river, and south and southwest with the Englishman's ground, and west and northwest with a hill on the west side of Naugatuck river part of the bounds and Naugatuck river the other part, . . all of which we do confirm unto the said inhabitants; only the said Indians do reserve the fishing place at Naugatuck, and the plain and the hill next the river, at the fishing place. Further, the Indians do grant all the grass and feed and timber on the plain against rock Rimmon, and do engage to sell it to them if they sell it, . . all which grants we do confirm for forty pounds to be paid to them at Mr. Bryan's.
Okenung Sagamore, his mark.
Chettrenasuck at the top of the deed, signed his name as Cockapatana at the bottom, or his signature was omitted at the bottom."
the father, "Gideon Mauwehu, lived in the vicinity of Derby." Very lilcely, for he was probably the son of Chusumack the Pootatuck chief or sachem, who removed from where the village ofShelton now stands, opposite Birmingham, to Pootatuck at the mouth of Pomperang.
It will be observed that the deed says, "the fishing place at Naugatuck," naming the place rather than the river. This agrees with tradition, which reports that the place was first named Naugatuck, and afterwards that name was given to the river, in the place of the name Paugassett. In one early deed, the stream is spoken of, as the "river that cometh down from Naugatuck."
Land having been purchased of the Indians* in the vicinity of Rock Rimmon, lying on both sides of the Naugatuck, the town granted to Ebenezer Johnson "the upper plain land against Rock Rimmon, and that it shall lie for division land; and the town grant the said Ebenezer to take in another man with him." The other man was Jeremiah Johnson, the father or grandfather of Bennajah, and the town afterwards confirmed a grant to him in that place "at the lower plain." Samuel Riggs, John Tib balls and Daniel Collins received also a division each at this same time and at the same place. These were the first owners of land in the vicinity of what is now Seymour village, on the east side of the Naugatuck river. This was in February, 1678-9. Soon after this the town granted Ebenezer Johnson one hundred and fifty acres of the land he had purchased at this place in consideration of the money he paid to the Indians for this land, and he delivered the deed to the town.
Further progress was made in 1679, in the settlement of inhabitants and perfecting the methods of town work. They seem to have become alarmed as to the supply of timber and made
"This indenture made this 19th of Feb. 1678, witnesseth We . . with approbation of Okenuck sagamore, have sold to Ebenezer Johnson three small parcels of land, bounded on the northwest with Rock Rimmon, and on the east with Lebanon, and on the south with a small brook and Naugatuck river, and on the west with an hill on the west side of Naugatuck river so as to take in the little plain; for seven pounds in hand received.
this rule or law: "No man or men shall have any liberty to make any clapboards, or shingles, or pipe-staves, or any coopers' timber, to transport out of the place, upon the penalty of forfeiting all his or their timber, or the value thereof to the town treasury."
This is as strange as the laying out the land for the six men as ordered by the court committee. They began at Paul's plains, laying a highway by the side of the river, and then measured to each, three acres as nearly as might be, making up deficiencies and deducting surplus, elsewhere. These men were Isaac Nichols, Samuel Brinsmade, John Pringle, William Tomlinson, John Hubbell and Samuel Nichols. The Ferry man received his at the same tinie, or a little after. At East Hill, each received four acres; at Bare plains one acre each; at Hasaca meadow two acres each; in the Indian field eight acres each, and four acres each adjoining, for a home lot; and on Woodbury road, another amount each. Then swamps and other items, to make fifty acres each. Men receiving grants of land this year and the next, were Hope Washborn, William Washborn, John Davis, John Johnson, John Beach, John Pringle, Jonas Lumm, Joseph Guernsey. Hope Washborn's home lot was located joining Henry Williams (the ferryman) in 1685.
Exchanges of property were common as indicated in tlie following sale: "Feb. 11, 1679, Daniel Collins sells to Abel Holbrook, his house that now stands on the said Collins pasture; it is 27 feet long, 18 1-2 feet wide & the pasture 6 acres: provided the said Holbrook Rende and bring to the house clapboards enough to clapboard the roof sides & ends of the said house; & also the sd Holbrook is to dwell and attend the order of the town his full time upon the said lands as he was engaged upon his own."
Abel Holbrook sold his house at the same time to Daniel Collins, with a house 22 feet by 18 feet.
The number of town officers was small at first, but in after years became very large.
Officers for 1678: Ebenezer Johnson, constable; Ebenezer Johnson, Samuel Riggs, Wm. Tomlinson, townsmen; Francis French, Ephraim Smith, fence viewers; Abel Gunn, surveyor; Wm. Tomlinson, surveyor for the Neck; Ebenezer Johnson, to
keep ordinary [tavern]; which was the first in the town so far as noticed.
In 1683, George Beaman was chosen grave digger, the first so elected so far as has been seen; and was to receive two shillings for a child's grave, and two shillings and sixpence for an adult's grave.
In 1679, and thereafter, they had two committees for fence viewers, one on the east side, and the other on the west side of Naugatuck river, who were to view the fences once a month, beginning the first day of March. George Beaman was appointed town marshal, to warn the voters to town meetings, and those who did not reach the place within half an hour, after being warned, were fined sixpence, while those who did not come, were fined one shilling. Two or three years later the fine was more than doubled upon failure to reach the place of the meeting within an hour after being warned.
In this year the town changed its rule of accepting settlers, and voted "that hereafter persons taking up land (granted by the town), shall pay the purchase price," whether they should reside on it or not. The former method was to give the land, a four-acre home lot, ten acres upland, and four to six acres of swamp to make meadow, to the man who should build a house and fence his home lot, and reside four years, meeting other town claims of taxes; under which arrangement they sometimes stayed but part of the time, and left without ceremony. John Hubbell proposed to leave after staying three years, and applied to the town for liberty so to do, but they required him to pay fifteen pounds money to the town, upon which his land and improvements should be his, the same as though he had remained his four years. A lot was granted on the east part of Sentinel hill to John Tibballs; he left it after a year or two, and settled on Great Neck; the house became the property of the town upon its being deserted, and the town gave it to four others in succession, who afterwards settled in other parts of the town.
Two votes were necessary to constitute a man an inhabitant of the town and a voter. The one was to accept him as an inhabitant, the other to grant him the usual allowance of land, which being worth the ten pounds money necessary to become a voter, qualified him for that freedom and endowment, upon
his taking the oath. If he had taken the oath in another town it was not required again.
Tradition says that one man moved into the town and resided some time, a year or more, and the town ordered him out, and sent men who took him and his goods and set him out, because he was an infidel. Nothing was alleged against his character as a citizen or neighbor, save the one thing, an infidel, and whatever that meant is unexplained, but it is quite certain from history that the word was used in those days to mean those who believed in the Bible, but not in the interpretation commonly given to that book. What foundation there was for such a tradition may be judged from the record of that faithful town clerk, Abel Gunn: "Aug. 21, 1682. The town does not acknowledge William Corsell to be an inhabitant at Derby, and do desire the townsmen to warn the said Corsell out of the town forthwith."
It is very evident that this action of the town never originated from the Sermon on the Mount, nor did the fathers pretend that it did. They lived under Moses's law, in religious things, and not that of the man of Calvary.
A MILL, A MEETING-HOUSE, AND WAR.
1681 -- 1700.
THE history of Derby might very properly be considered in three periods, characterized by the different pursuits of the inhabitants during those periods. The first was purely agricultural, the second commercial, and the third or present, manufacturing. Each period has developed its master spirits, most of whom, having fulfilled their destiny, have left lasting impressions for the benefit of coming generations.
In this age of civilization, when the people are borne from village and town to and from the great centers of business with the speed of lightning, when the waters swarm with the whitening sails of commerce, when cities are rising by magic, factory upon factories springing up like mushrooms along the rivers to increase our products, followed by neat little cottages, beautiful country seats, and costly mansions, occupied by a population happy and resplendent in the accumulated wealth of the dead and the living, they can know but little of the trials and impediments that stood in the way of our ancestors, when they first pressed their footsteps into the untrodden wilderness, and for many years thereafter. When the white settler first reposed on Riggs hill, all that his eye rested upon was wild, coy, and uncultivated wilderness, seemingly as from the first dawn of creation. The forest, dense with the oak, the chestnut, the pine, the hemlock, the walnut, the cedar and the elm, all growing in luxuriant majesty, obscured from human eye the rising and setting sun, while it sheltered and protected the deer, the wolf, the bear, the catamount and other wild animals in great variety, from the hunter's long and weary pursuit. The Indian, content with his cherished games, still roamed at times over his ancient hunting grounds, while his mate prepared for him his feast of fish and fowl and moose, governed by no rule save the pangs of hunger.
Thus began the first period, the settlers, after clearing a few spots must have obtained their food, clothing, tools, necessaries of life, and few comforts, almost exclusively from the soil, preparing them for use mostly with their own hands, for it is true that the first period passed under the reign of slavery, wherein much of the heavy toil was borne by servants, for there was scarcely a family during the first seventy-five years but that had its slave or slaves. Their luxuries, unlike those of sickly and modern refinement, consisted in a self-sustaining independency, and though rude and simple, they aided in the development of strong physical and mental energies. Their first mechanic was the carpenter, then the blacksmith, the tanner and the shoemaker. The grist mill, where the miller refused toll for grinding, was a public institution, established like the school and the church by the legal authorities of the settlement. The prices of all produce were fixed by the same legal authority, and to refuse a bushel of corn for a debt at the lawful price, would be the same as to refuse at the present day, a gold dollar for one hundred cents. Their roads or cart paths, led first to the mill, then to the church, before any outside market was contemplated. Their buildings were erected without square and compass, or the use of the saw mill. The clapboards for their houses were rived and shaved in the same manner as shingles. The ax performed wonders in those days as well as the jack knife, while heads and hands became self-reliant, ingenious, and skilled in use; and the proverbial remark of the latter instrument is no more celebrated than was the realization of it in those days. Not only a wooden clock could the English Yankee make, but a great number of still more useful things, where every man and woman was skilled in guessing the time in the day or night, without clock or sunshine. During the first thirty years the settlers of Derby lived in isolated families, mostly, in small houses, some of which were really huts; one new house being sold by the town authorities for thirty shillings after the builder had vacated it and left the town. In their occasional journeys to Milford or New Haven, with neither roads nor wagons, they more frequently went on foot, sometimes on horseback or in a cart. Imagine what was once reality, a mother with her little son walking to Milford and back on Sunday to hear the gospel preached. So it was, and so they thought
it wise to cultivate the heart and religious thought, without the present dash and extravagances of that which is only life for the present world.
The inhabitants of Derby having toiled patiently twenty-seven years in securing a town settlement, passing through many difficulties, and one Indian war season, and having attained public notice as a people, and some reliability as to property, proposed to make some improvements as to comforts, and voted: "At a town meeting Aug. 29, 1681, to encourage such a man as will build a sufficient mill for the town of Derby, by giving him twenty pounds and build a dam, provided it shall be in such a place as a committee shall agree upon with the man.
"For making the dam the town do engage to attend the call of the committee, giving a days warning, at all such times as the committee appoints till the dam be finished; and that the town will give accommodations to the mill which shall remain forever to the mill; and the town grants to the mill twenty acres of land that lieth on the brook adjoining, and ten acres of pasture. It is further agreed that the charge of building the mill dam shall be paid by a town rate."
The work of building such a mill for the thirty-five tax payers in the town, at the time, was really great, and occupied some years before it was completed. Dr. John Hull was the man who undertook the work. He had built the parsonage in 1673, for which work there had not been a full settlement until 1682, when a committee was appointed to "recon" with him in that matter.
In 1684, he was made one of the town committee to attend to the completion of the mill, with power to call out men as he might need them to work on the mill.
This mill was located on Beaver brook, half a mile east of the Congregational Church at Ansonia, and remained there probably some thirty or forty years, when a new one was built on the Old river a little above the New Haven road across the valley.
Several pieces of land were granted which determine the location of this mill, although in the town record it is not said where it should be set up, except that it says on the brook, making it
sure that the mill was not on the river. In 1683, the town granted "Thomas Wooster for a pasture that land that lieth north of the little brook above the Trangram, bounded with Plum meadow west, the common north, Jabez Harger's pasture east, brook north." Plum meadow was the low land where the south part of Ansonia now stands, or back of it adjoining the hill. In laying Jabez Harger's pasture the Trangram is also mentioned, and called then, and in several other places, John Hull's Trangram.
The John Hull, Junior's homestead was at the north end of this Plum meadow upon the hill east. Tradition tells us that the people of Old Town used to call the part of the community where John Hull lived the North End; that meant the north end of the village settlement. After the mill was located there it became more thickly settled, but the name North End still survives. In 1696, after Dr. John Hull had been in Wallingford eight years, the town passed a vote of complaint that John Hull had not fulfilled his agreement about the mill, upon which he made over the mill property, a gift, to his son John; and at the same time deeded him and his brother Joseph the other lands and houses he owned in the town, principally on Riggs hill, east of the Riggs farm, and Joseph Hull, the first, remained on this farm some years after it was given to him.
The location of a meeting-house was a difficult task very often in the towns of Connecticut, and was more frequently done by a committee from the General Court, but Derby men determined to practice the rights of freemen and settle this question upon that ground; for on Nov. 22, 1680, they passed a vote that "all the inhabitants of the town (i.e. voters) should have liberty to put in their votes, where the meeting house should stand," thus deciding to be governed by the majority. At this time there was no ecclesiastical organization in the town, aside from the town. A church had been organized, but whether its membership consisted of the free voters of the town or otherwise, there is nothing to show; it would have been very natural to pattern after Milford, but there is no certainty, and then society
was undergoing a change after the uniting of the New Haven and Connecticut Colonies.
After the above vote, the question was tried, and those in favor of "setting the meeting house upon the hill above Ephraim Smith's" (afterwards called Squabble hole,) were Mr. Bowers, Edward Wooster, Joseph Hawkins, William Tomlinson, Samuel Riggs, Ephraim Smith, Abel Gunn, Francis French, Samuel Nichols, Thomas Wooster, John Beach, -- eleven.
Those against were: Jeremiah Johnson, Philip Denman, Stephen Pierson, John Tibballs, -- four.
The first meeting-house in Derby, erected in 1682.
Those absent were: John Hulls, Jabez Harger, George Beaman, David Wooster, Ebenezer Johnson, Abel Holbrook, Isaac Nichols, Samuel Brinsmade, Jonathan Nichols, Jonas Tomlinson, -- ten.
Having done this they took a recess one year to consider the subject, and were probably the more inclined to this policy since there was so much difference of opinion as to the location.
"Nov. 22, 1681. The town have voted to build a meeting house twenty-eight feet long and twenty feet wide, . . this winter; that is to
say, to fall and square the timber and get the shingles and clapboards by the last of March next and cart them to the place, where it is agreed to be set; and also the said house is to be ten feet between joints.
"Further, For the carrying on the building of the said house the town have chosen a committee which shall have full power to call out the inhabitants as they see cause, and when they please; the committee is Sargent Hulls, Joseph Hawkins, Abel Gunn and Philip Denman.
"Further it is agreed that the charge and cost of building the aforesaid house shall be done according to every man's estate in the list. In case any man neglect or refuse to work when he is called, he shall pay two shillings and sixpence to the work, having had two days warning, those that work when called to have two shillings and six pence per day.
"Dec. 14, 1681 they have agreed to build and frame the said house, and raise it, and make the window frames; viz: six windows, two on the front side, one on each end and two on the pulpit side; all the window frames to be transume frames, leaving three lights in each tier, a set and a half in length in the lower length, and a set in the upper tier.
"Further, Whereas the former vote respecting the place where the meeting house should stand, seemed to be difficult with some, the town have voted the second time that the place near the tree where the town met and sat down shall be the place where the meeting house shall stand, without any more trouble."
This plan as to the meeting-house seems to have been carried into effect and the work accomplished as rapidly as could be, under the circumstances that then surrounded them. John Hull was the head man of the committee and was probably the leader in all the work. When built it must have had the appearance of a low barn but for the windows and the door, but it was the best they could do, and that may be better than their descendants do, even with their very fine and costly meetinghouses.
As it was voted to collect the money by tax for the mill and the meeting-house, a new list was made this year of land and personal estates, and was placed on record among the land records. One leaf containing about half of the account of personal property has been torn from its place in the book and cannot be found. All the land that was taxable at that time is, probably, given; the land owned in the unbroken forests was not taxable.
When the work had progressed one year, and finding nearly the amount of the tax to be raised, the town sent Abel Gunn to the General Court to obtain release from country tax, which the Court granted for two years.
It will be seen that in the lists recorded, there are no sheep; the reason was that the General Court in 1666, "freed all the sheep in the Colony from the list of estates whereby rates are made, until the Court see cause to alter it." And in the following October, "The Court proposed that some method be devised by each town to burn or subdue the undergrowth in the woods near the settlements to provide pasture for cattle and sheep."
In October, 1670, "the Court, for the encouragement of raising sheep, &c.," ordered that every male person in the several plantations, from fourteen years old and upward "that is not a public officer, viz.: an assistant, commissioner, or minister of the gospel," should work one day in the year, sometime in June, yearly, in cutting down and clearing the underwood, so there might be pasture. The selectmen of each town were to have charge of this matter, and see that the work was done or heavy fines collected. In 1673, the Court made further provision concerning the raising of sheep, declaring that "whereas the increase of flocks is found very advantageous to this Colony, and as experience doth show that the breed of sheep is much decayed by reason of neglect of breeding, and suitable care for the flock, that it is ordered by the Court that two or three meet persons in each plantation shall be appointed to take care that suitable care should be instituted in regard to the care and breeding of sheep." These men, called sheep masters, were appointed regularly for many years. It was also ordered, at the same time, "that no sheep should be kept on the commons except in flocks, except where the flock was less in number than one hundred, to prevent the sheep either doing or receiving harm."
In the year 1703, this method was in full operation, as is evident from the record: "Voted by the proprietors of sheep that they will hire a shepherd for the year, from the first of April; and William Tomlinson, senr., Stephen Pierson, senr., and Sargt. Thomas Wooster be sheep masters, to have power to hire a
shepherd; besides that any of our neighboring towns have liberty to send as many sheep as the sheep masters shall see cause to admit."
Many cattle and sheep were sent from Milford, Stratford and New Haven to be pastured at Derby.
But little did the people of Derby think that just one hundred years from this time, the first grand impulse should be given to the proper care and breeding of sheep in America, by a son of its own soil; that a flock of one hundred selected sheep, from the best flocks in Europe, should cross the ocean in one vessel and land at Derby. That honor was to fall on Derby, by its enterprising and noble General Humphreys.
The amount of the General list of estates for the town, as sent to, and preserved by, the General Court, possesses special interest as showing the very gradual growth as to property and persons in the town. The number of persons paying taxes, was not reported after 1710. It is quite surprising that the increase of persons paying taxes in the town, from 1685 to 1710, twenty-five years, was only twelve.
Paugassett was taxed separately under New Haven jurisdiction in 1660, £1 8s. 8d., in 1661, £1 6s. 2d., in 1662, £1 10s. 5d.
After this the proprietors paid taxes as individual members of the town of Milford until 1775, when organized as a town, then out of the next ten years the General Court released them eight years from country taxes.
LIST OF ESTATES AND PERSONS: Persons. Persons. 1685 £2041 38 1705 £2749 65 1686 1893 39 1706 2697 57 1687 2051 41 1707 2855 53 1689 1304 38 1708 2825 50 1690 1337 39 1709 2856 49 1691 1963 41 1710 2927 1692 1559 37 1711 3000 1693 1630 34 1712 3367 1694 1713 3241 1695 1804 42 1717 3667 1696 1696 42 1718 3832 1697 1719 3994 1698 1863 40 1720 4287 1699 1920 40 1721 4389 1700 2109 51 1722 4615 1701 2389 47 1723 4506 1702 2327 53 1724 4494 1703 2377 60 1725 5310 1704 2756 56
The meeting-house was framed in the spring of 1682, as appears from a vote of the town to allow the men who should do the work, three shillings a day for this work, and it was probably completed in the plainest manner that summer. No account has been seen of the seating of this house, or any work done on it until 1707, when after having voted to build a new meeting-house, they concluded to repair the old one, which continued to serve them until 1718.
The support of the minister in addition to all taxes was quite an item.
"November 21, 1681. The Town for the providing Mr. Bowers wood this year do agree that every man shall cary for his proportion as it was agreed upon last year (viz)
Sar Wooster 5 loode Sar Riggs 5 loode Joseph Hawkins 5 loode Thomas Wooster 4 loode Jonas Tomlenson 4 loode Sar Harger 4 loode Sar Jo Hulls 5 loode Wm Tomlinson 2 loode Jo Pringle 2 loode Samuell Nical & Isaac 6 loode Samuel Brinsmead 4 loode Phop Isaac 2 loode George Beaman 2 loode Jer Johnson 4 loode Phillep Denman 4 loode John Tibbals 4 loode Da Collins 2 loode Stephen Pierson 4 loode Abel Holbrook 2 loode Sar Johnson 4 loode Abell Gun 4 loode Frances French 2 loode Ephraim Smith 2 loode Joh Griffen 2 loode Joh Beach 2 loode David Wooster 2 loode -- 88
"It is agreed that if any man neglect or refuse to carry in Mr. Bowers's wood by the last of March next he shall carry double to what his proportion is now above written. Further the town have voted to give Mr. Bowers fifty pound for his maintenance this year.
"Dec. 31, 1683. The town have voted to give Mr. Bowers for his salary this year fifty pounds to be paid in good merchantable pay by the last of April next ensuing; and have agreed to convey Mr. Bowers's wood as followeth:
Philip Denman 3 l. | Sar Johnson 4 l. Sa Riggs 4 | Fran French 3 Abel Gunn 4 | Ephraim Smith 2 Geor Beaman 2 | Stephen Person 3 Jo Griffen 2 | Sar Woster 5 Abell Holbrook 2 | John Hulls sen 5 Jonas Tomlinson 3 | Widow Hawkins 3 Jer Johnson 4 | Henry Williams 2 Wm Tomlinson 3 | Jo Pringle 2 Sar Hulls 3 | Tho Wnster 2 John Tibballs 4 | Sam Brmsmead 2 Sa Nicols 3 | John Beach 2 Isaac Needs | John Huls 2"
It is supposable that the above names represent all who were obligated to support the preaching of the gospel, which included at that time all who paid taxes in the town.
In September, 1684, Mr. Bowers was very ill, and had a will recorded, which was very brief, giving all his property to his wife Bridget, desiring her to remember "the birthright, if he carry it well to his honored mother." That is that John, the eldest child and son, should have the proportion according to the old English law. But John survived only three years and died in 1687, the record of whose death has been taken for that of his father in all published accounts except Trumbull's. The father lived until 1708, but it is doubtful whether he was able to preach after this illness, as he had done before.
The town record certifies: "Mar 1685-6. Town have voted to give Mr. Bowers sixty pounds this year, for his salary, and Mr. Bowers is to find himself wood; and to give him the rate of all his proper estate of lands and cattle to be added. It is to be meant his rate to the minister.
"Moreover, the town having granted to Mr. Bowers the use of the Town's sequestered land in the meadow while he carried on the work of the ministry in Derby, maintaining the fence that belonged to it, the said Mr. Bowers hath engaged to pay one pound five shillings per year for ten years or so long as he shall enjoy the land." Mr. Bowers, probably, supplied the pulpit mostly four years longer, possibly securing some assistance, but the above record indicates some change, although his salary was continued as before, only the free use of certain lands was not granted.
Mr. Trumbull says he "removed from Derby and settled at Rye about the year 1688." This was an error, it being Nathaniel Bowers the son of John, who preached in Rye. He says Mr. Webb preached here twelve years, but this is an error according to Trumbull himself, in his second volume. It is unfortunate that no records of town transactions can be found of the years between 1686 and 1690, and therefore we obtain from this source no knowledge of the dismissal of Mr. Bowers or the employment of Mr. Webb. The latter was ordained at Fairfield in 1694, and therefore could not have been in Derby over six years, and the town was seeking another minister in 1692.
He was probably a licensed preacher, while here, but not ordained, and preached here not over two years.
He was appointed Town Clerk in December, 1690, and served one year with great elegance and correctness. He was a much better scholar and writer than his successor in the pulpit, although it is doubtful as to his having been graduated at college. Scarce any writing on the town records equals his, for the first two hundred years.
In 1685, probably the first military company was organized in the town, and Ebenezer Johnson was confirmed by the General Court, lieutenant, and Abel Gunn, ensign of Derby Train Band. There had been military men, and military drill and service in the town before this time, but a regular company had not been officered and established of the town. The records show that at various times the town by regular tax, had provided a stock of powder and lead, and obeyed the directions from the General Court as to preparations for defense, but it does not appear that a company was organized before this time. The amount of ammunition required was quite considerable. In 1682, every man was required to purchase as much powder and lead as would cost equal to his rate or tax. The town valued the powder at three shillings per pound, and lead at sixpence per pound; and so every man to have eight pounds of lead or bullets to two pounds of powder.
From 1680 to 1686, a few new inhabitants were accepted, and grants of land made to them upon the usual conditions. In 1680, Richard Bryan of Milford was admitted, and he purchased ninety acres of land, but for some reason did not settle here, and not long after died. In 1682, Samuel Griffin, and in 1685, John, his brother, settled near John Hull's mill at Northend. Samuel Griffin was a blacksmith. In 1685, Hope Washborn, and in 1687, John Chatfield, became inhabitants. In 1683, Henry Hitt, the new ferry-man. In this same year the town granted to Samuel Riggs, "half that land at Rimmon on the northwest of the said Samuel Riggs's cellar, between that and the rock, and at the same time granted Sar. Ebenezer Johnson the other half northwest of the said cellar." This cellar was the first ground broken in the vicinity of what is now Seymour village, or near Rimmon, for the erection of dwellings.
It is probable that Ebenezer Johnson and Jeremiah Johnson soon built upon the land they owned in the vicinity. "April 11, 1682. The town have granted Sargt. Johnson and Samuel Riggs, liberty to make a fence at Rock Rimmon, from Naugatuck river up to the top of Rimmon, and also give liberty to pasture the land they fence; tho' liberty is granted provided higways be not hindered, & liberty to enjoy it during the towns pleasure; the town engageth to put up the bars of the said fence if they pass through it; also the town engageth the same respecting Philip Denmans fence & John Tibbals at Rimmon." It is said [Hist. of Seymour, by W. C. Sharp, 37.] that Bennajah Johnson, who was son of Jeremiah, who came from New Haven, and Timothy Johnson, son of Major Ebenezer Johnson, no relation to Bennajah, so far as the records show, were the first settlers in this region, and that they settled near, or at Beacon Falls. The records indicate as above that the first houses were near Rock Rimmon, where this cellar was already built in 1685. Knowing the energy and characters of the men who owned land first in this vicinity, it may be a fair inference that the two or three first settlers, in what is now Seymour, were there before the year 1690.
It is stated [Barber's Hist. Col. 199. DeForest's Hist, of the Indians of Conn. 406.] that when the Indian Chuse made his residence at this place, "there were only two or three white families in the vicinity," which is most probably true, but if so then it was Gideon Mauwehu, and not Joseph or "Jo," that superintended the settlement here at first. Agar Tomlinson was married in 1734, and Jo Chuse living with him several years, perhaps five or six, would have been twenty one about 1641 or 2. He lived, at this Chusetown forty-eight years and removed to Kent and soon died. His land at Chusetown was sold in 1792, which was a short time after his death, or making a little allowance for running tradition, he may have removed soon after selling his land. Now in 1741 or 2, there must have been nearer twenty families than three in the vicinity of Chusetown. At that time, Tobie had been in possession of his land a little over thirty years. In May 1682, the town granted to Abel Gunn, "ten acres of land up the Little river above the Nau-
gatuck Falls; or upon the long planes above Naugatuck Falls, on the west side of Naugatuck river where the said Gunn pleaseth." David Wooster purchased of the Indians* the. Long plain a little above Seymour in 1692, and apparently settled on it soon after. The Paugasuck Indians had no land left, below this reservation at Seymour, in 1690, except at Turkey hill, and must have removed from the Great Neck some time before 1700; so also the Pootatucks, across the river from Birmingham, and the most probable supposition is that they began to gather in the vicinity of Seymour before 1690. Again the story of a Pequot sachem (Mauwee), coming to Derby and taking the rule of the Pootatucks and the Paugasucks, while yet the sachems of these two clans were living, viz., Cockapatana Ahuntaway and Chusumack, descendants of a long line of royal blood, is scarcely to believed. It is far more probable that Gideon Mauwee, was the son of Chusumack, the signer of three deeds with the Paugasucks in Derby, who, by no strange transformation for those days, became possessed of the name Mauwee, his more common name being Chuse, (or "Cush" as at Pootatuck) from Chusumack. If he or his ancestors came from the Pequots, it must have been very early, apparently before the English settled in Derby.
Since writing the above concerning Chuse, the statement has been seen in print that Chuse settled at Seymour, about 1720, in which case he could not have lived with Agar Tomlinson as stated by Barber, which information he obtained of Chuse's daughter as he informs us. The Indian deed of the sale of the land surrounding Seymour, was dated in 1678, with a reservation of the land Chuse afterwards occupied, and it would seem scarcely possible that there should be no settlers here until forty years later.
Know ye that we Huntaway and Cockapatany, Indians of Paugasuck . . for a valuable consideration confirm unto David Wooster . . a certain parcel of land on the Northwest side of Naugatuck river in the road that goeth to Rimmon, the Long plain, so called, in the bounds of Derby, be it bounded with Naugatuck river South, and east and north, and west with the great rocks, be it more or less.
At the breaking out of the war between the English, assisted by the Dutch, and the French, a great effort was made in America to secure the aid of the Indians against the English. The French were then in possession of Canada and the Mississippi valley, and although the war was declared between France and England, the principal theater of the war was in the American Colonies, and this theater was extended to wherever an English subject inhabited in this country. As soon as the information was received of the beginning of the war, the General Court was called together and resolved to raise in the Colony as their proportionate number, two hundred English and Indians; and if that number could not be secured by volunteers, then they should be drafted from the militia. OfBcers were appointed in various parts of the state for the militia and volunteers.
"Ebenezer Johnson is chosen captain of such volunteers as shall go forth against the enemy, and is to be commissioned accordingly, and he hath liberty to beat the drum for volunteers to serve under him in every plantation in the county of Fairfield and New Haven."This was in September, 1689, and this army was ordered, mostly to protect English subjects from the Indians who might join the French. In the following April the court was again convened, under pressing entreaties for help to defend Albany, which was threatened by the French and the western Indians. "All which was considered by the court, and the court did see a necessity of utmost endeavors to prevent the French of attacking or settling at Albany, and therefore did order that two foot companies shall be with all speed raised and sent to Albany, to take all advantages against the enemies to destroy them." [1 Col. Rec.] One company was to be raised in Hartford and New London counties, and commanded by Capt. Fitch appointed for that purpose. "The other company is to be raised in the counties of New Haven and Fairfield, and is to consist of sixty English and forty Indians, if so many Indians shall be found willing to go, and Ebenezer Johnson is appointed their captain. The companies to be raised are so
many volunteers as shall appear, and the rest to be prest soldiers."
"This Court having ordered and appointed you to be captain of a company that is to go forth against the enemy, and for the county and city of Albany, for his majesty's interest, there being sundry soldiers already who have enlisted themselves for that service, as we are informed; These are to appoint you to make what haste you can to those plantations of the seaside, and to inform the said volunteers that the General Court hath appointed you to be their captain, and Samuel Newton to be their Lieutenant, and Ager Tomlinson to be their Ensign, and that you will take care and charge of them to lead them out against the enemy, and that your commission shall be sent after you to the seaside speedily, that so you may proceed with the best expedition you may, and you have liberty to raise of the English to the number ot sixty, of Jndians not above forty in all which you are to raise as you may by volunteers, so far as you can, and the rest by press, and you may expect that for your encouragement you shall have besides wages the benefit of what you shall obtain by plunder, and all smiths in those plantations of the seaside are hereby required to apply themselves to mend such arms as shall be brought to them which are to be employed in this expedition. These soldiers are to be raised in the counties of New Haven and Fairfield."
The court ordered a rate to be raised for this beginning of the war of fourpence on the pound. This made the amount for Derby twenty pounds, a sum of some consequence when to be paid, as was the fact, by thirty-nine men, besides fitting out the men who might volunteer or be drafted from the town. Captain Johnson raised his company, went to Albany, remaining some time, but was appointed the next spring one of the War Commissioners for the state, to which office he was appointed seven years. For expenditures at Albany in consequence of damages by his soldiers and in part for the loss of a horse, the court allowed him six pounds, in 1698.
This war continued until 1710, and was the cause of much expense to the Colonies, and of perpetual fear from treachery of the Indians in allowing or directing unfriendly Indians in their devastations and terrible raids. In 1697, Captain Johnson was ordered to go to New York with sixty men in company
with Captain Matthew Sherwood of Fairfield, with a like number, to protect that city from a French fleet expected there from the West Indies. In 1703 he was appointed "to have the care and ordering of the Paugasuck Indians, to protect them from other Indians, and to set their bounds beyond which they were required not to go, and to take care that they did not harbor or entertain unfriendly Indians." It is very probable that Captain Johnson was sent upon several other expeditions during this war since the soldiers of New Haven and Fairfield were appointed in such expeditions, and since also the consideration granted Captain Johnson would indicate further services. In 1698, the court granted him "(over and above the interest in the grant to the volunteers) two hundred acres of land, to be taken up where it may not prejudice any former grant to any township or particular person." In 1700, however, the court order that the amount should be three hundred acres, and that Mr. Samuel Sherman and Ephraim Stiles should lay out the same. The town afterwards gave him one hundred and fifty acres in consideration of his public services.
The effect of the ten years' war from 1689 to 1699 was quite perceptible upon Derby and its prosperity, for during this time the tax-payers increased only two, and the Grand List increased only one-third of the whole, and during the next ten years the increase was about the same. For the twenty years ending 1709, the increase was only eleven, and most of these were raised in the town, but few coming in; some going out, and a few dying. Among these last were Edward Wooster and Francis French, two of the first settlers of the town. They were more public in the work they did than in oflfices or display as public servants. They began life empty-handed, and during fofty years appear to have worked hard; enduring the wilderness ten years almost alone, fighting against wild beasts, watching, kindly, the natives of the forest, and trusting them to a marvelous degree; clearing the land of timber and stone by the hardest work; rearing considerable families; and when they had departed, some portion of their real estate had to be sold to meet claims that could not be otherwise met. This is a comment on the times in which their lot was cast, by a hand whose counsels none understand. Could they have had cash in
hand, one dollar in twenty of their equals in the present day, they would have died wealthy! To whom shall it be said, "Well done, thou faithful servant?" Abel Gunn and Joseph Hawkins, two of the second class of settlers had gone; men of the most solid worth, seeking not high places, but when called to them could meet the responsibility with great manliness and much ability.
Abel Gunn was the town clerk twenty-one years, but so modest, that so far as seen, he never wrote or recorded that he was elected to that office. We learn the fact when at first he says "Abell Gun his book," and then in the same hand writing records the doings of the plantation and the town. He afterwards, in a few instances, signed papers as recorder. He was a fair speller, and a much better writer than some who follow him in that office. Ebenezer Johnson-, Samuel Riggs, and Ephraim Smith of the second class of settlers were still living, and in the zenith of their glory.
While this war was going on, bringing not a farthing to the Colonies, but great expense, and much sacrifice of life, the inhabitants of Derby were making noble, although slow progress purchasing lands of the Indians and extending their settlement north and north-west. The agents of the town purchased a tract of land north of the Four-mile river, said to belong to the Wesquantuck and Pootatuck Indians, and received a deed of them.* Here the Pootatuck and the Paugasuck Indians unit-
"In consideration of twenty-one pounds; have sold one parcel of land lying in the great neck at Derby, bounded on the southeast with four mile brook and another little brook that falls into the Little river, north & northeast with the Little river that runs into Naugatuck river, and Northwest and west with the eight mile brook, and west and southwest with the west channel of the Pootatuck river, and Woodbury path from the six mile brook to the four mile brook. Aug. 6, 1687,
John Banks, his mark.
"Proprietors of Wesquantock, with consent of our Sagamore, for twenty pounds in hand received, have sold a certain tract of land called Wesquantook and Rockhouse hill. Derby Aug. 15, 169S. Boundaries nearly the same as in 1687.
Neighbor Putt, his mark.
ing in signing deeds of the same land at ten years distance of time, and some different names at each time. They say they sell this land with consent of their Sagamore, which indicates, as well as the same fact in other deeds, that the Indians were not only divided into clans, or small companies, being still of the same tribe, but that the lands were divided among the Indians, certain ones owning a certain tract set apart to them. This is indicated in most of the later deeds.
It has been supposed and published in different papers that the Indian Tobie received his land of Capt. Ebenezer Johnson, and while there is no doubt but that gentleman aided his former servant, yet the deed of that land speaks to the honor of others as well.* This land was bounded by Lopus plain and rocks, in part. It is said that this name originated from that of a man by the name of Loper. It is quite certain that no man by that name had owned land there up to this time when the name is used. If such an one had been there before, he was a squatter, and such a man the town would have sent out of its borders so quick that he could give no name to anything, and in that case there would have been some record of the transaction, which record has not been seen.
"Know all men . . that we Cockapatana and Huntawa, Sachems of Paugasuck, and Jack Tots, Shoot Horn and Mutshok, in the name and upon the proper account of ourselves and all the Indians of Paugasuck that are proprietors there of, for and in consideration of ten pounds and a barrel of cider paid and secured, with which we do acknowledge ourselves fully satisfied, sell . . unto Tobe, a Narranganset Indian formerly servant unto Capt. Ebenezer Johnson of Derby, . . a certain tract of land, bounded North with Chestnut tree hill and Lopus rocks, east with Naugatuck river against Beacon hill, west with the Little river against Thomas Woosters land, and southward with Rimmon hill and Rimmon hill rocks pointing into the Little river, and from the upper end of Rimmon hill through Lopus plain running between two ponds in Lopus plane through the hill swamp and so to Naugatqck river; unto the said Tobe, his heirs and assigns forever.
"We Cockapetouch Chops, Rawneton, Indians belonging to Potatuck, yet having a certain swamp in Derby bounds called Squantick swamp which we gave about fourteen years ago to our friend Tobie and upon the consideration of friendship, & have with other Indians as Keuckson, & John Banks, laid out said swamp to Tobie & renewed the bounds lately, according as is hereafter mentioned. . . . We do freely give, grant & confirm unto the said Tobie, an Indian that lives with the English, brought up by Mayor Johnson, from a boy, his heirs assigns forever.
It is said again that the man, whoever he may have been, had a horse that had a peculiar gait or movement in trotting, and by this horse called the Loper, the place received its name, but it should be remembered that no Englishman had resided in that region with a title of land but possibly Thomas and David Wooster, and that only a few years; and some of the Johnsons on the east side of Naugatuck north of or about Rock Rimmon.*
"That we Cockapatani, Sachem and Ahuntaway Gentleman, Indians in consideration of four pounds ten shillings in hand received by us of Capt. Ebenezer Johnson and Ens. Samuel Riggs . . do sell a certain quantity of [land] at Rimmon bounded southward with David Wooster his land and the above Ensigns his land and Naugatuck river westward, and north with Tobe Indian purchase. April 16, 1700.
"Another tract called a certain parcel of meadow and upland lying at the upper end of Chestnut tree hill, containing twenty acres . . . bounded by marked trees on the north & west & east side, & a rock at the south side with a heap of stones.
"This i6th day of April 1700.
"This deed given to Capt. Ebenezer Johnson & Ens. Saml Riggs."
"Deed given by 'Cockapatana sachem of the Indians' of Pagasuck and Ahuantaway of the same, in his majesty, in consideration of a shilling in hand received, sell to Davide Wooster a piece of land & meadow bounded as follows, northward by naugatuck river. Southward with a purchase of David Wooster, being of Cockapatana, & also bv the little river, & eastwardly the ledge of rocks -- the ledge on the west of the long plain, westward along upon the ledge of rocks that lies northward over the hollow . . & so down to the little river. May 6, 1798.
The Indians may have owned such a horse, but that interferes with the yarn of the story.
There is a tradition about Tobie that has much more foundation. It runs thus: Captain Ebenezer Johnson being sent with a squad of soldiers to subdue some Indians did his work so thoroughly, as was his custom, that not an Indian was left except the dead on the battle field. The fight ended at dusk and the captain and his company slept on the battle field. Early in the morning the captain walked out on the field of conflict the day before, and as he stood viewing the scene, suddenly he felt something clinging to his feet, and looking down saw a little Indian boy looking up most hesitatingly and pitifully. This boy the captain took home with him, and this was Tobie.
The deed says he was a Mohegan Indian, and Captain Johnson says he obtained him of a Mohegan Indian. The captain no doubt in one of his missions with his soldiers went to New London or its vicinity, and there obtained the boy, who grew to be an honor to himself, his tribe, his benefactor and his adopted town.
In 1713, after the inhabitants of Derby had obtained a patent for their township, of the General Assembly, [In 1698, the General Court changed its name to General Assembly, and divided into the Upper House and Lower House.] as many other, or all other towns sought to do after 1700, Tobie applied to the Assembly for a patent for his land. Upon this the town appointed Sergeant Law and Sergeant John Riggs, and in case Mr. Law could not attend to it. Sergeant Samuel Gunn, in his place, as attorneys to go to the Assembly and oppose Tobie's petition. Poor Tobie, if he had been after anything of particular value what a mountain he would have had to climb -- the town of Derby, two lawyers, and another near at hand, and he himself nobody but a picked up Indian! Yet he scared the whole town. What would they have done with a little town owned by one man, inside of Derby? It is said that a "fly about
the breathing organ wakes more people than the thunderings of all the steam cars in the world."
But Tobie did not stay long. His kindred were lost to him no doubt on some battle field, and the time of his orphan sojourn he filled with honor, then went forward to find those who had gone before; and gave his land, which was divided according to his will, in 1734, to Timothy Wooster, Peter Johnson, Ebenezer Johnson and Timothy Johnson; all except Wooster were sons of Capt. Ebenezer Johnson; these were his kindred. If there be no future retribution and awards, what a world of unrighteousness and injustice the present one is! And if the endless future of all intelligent beings is fixed by the conduct of the present life, what a monstrous system of inequality, disadvantage, and fatal damage governs the present state of existence!
From the imperfectness of the records, the exact time of the dismissal of Mr. Bowers from the pastorate, cannot be obtained. Mr. Webb, is made town clerk* for the year 1691, doing his work very finely as to penmanship and scholarship, and is said in the public prints to have preached here, yet the town records show nothing of the kind so far as seen. Trumbull's statement that he preached here is doubtless true, but not over two or three years.
In 1690, the town engages in building a parsonage house. Mr. Bowers owned his house, and when he was dismissed the parish had no parsonage, and because of the items of interest recorded about the making of this house, the record in full is given.
"Nov. 25, 1690, voted to hire a carpenter for to build an house for a minister, viz., to fall the timber, hew it, frame it and raise it, and to get all the clapboards and shingles; to dress and lay them. And to
Dec. 28, 1691. Mr. Joseph Webb, was sworn to the following oath, and recorded it:
make all the window frames, and set them up. The town have chosen Capt. Ebenezer Johnson, Isaac Nichols, Philip Denman, to agree with the workmen. And the town doth engage to pay according to the town rate, for building the said house according as the three men above mentioned shall agree, or any two of them.
"Jan. 16, 1691, voted to allow for boards 1 1/4 inches, eight shillings, six pence per thousand. Voted to allow six pounds, ten shillings for the building and finishing a cellar twenty feet one way and seventeen feet the other."
The money was to be raised on the list of 1690, to pay for the building the house.
"The town have chosen Ens. Samuel Riggs & Samuel Hull, a committee to call forth men to work with their teams at the ministers house, and they shall give two days warning at least to those they call out, [and] whosoever shall refuse or neglect after legal warning shall pay five shillings as a fine for every such neglect, to be improved towards the building said house, and these two men above said are empowered to destrain such fines."
In 1692, they vote to "seek for Mr. Tomas Buckingham, to be helpful to us in the work of the ministry, and if they cannot prevail with him, then they having word to seek for Mr. Stephen Mix, for his help in the ministry.
"Further the town have chosen Captain Johnson, to see if he can prevail with Mr. Buckingham to come and preach amongst us, and to offer a minister for salary, fifty pounds and the use of the parsonage and his wood, if he continue in the town a year.
"In August 1693, they voted to give a "minister that will come and settle amongst them, forty pounds a year and the use of the parsonage and his fire wood, and if he will continue with them six years, then they will give him forty acres of upland and meadow."
In February next, they voted that they desired Mr. James would settle among them. And further, "they have agreed to be at the cost to transport his goods down in case he will settle amongst them," and appointed a committee to agree with a man or men to bring down his goods. In November of the same year, they provide for Mr. James's wood, "according to
heads that are sixteen years old and upward, every one a load, and the wood shall be delivered all to him by the first of December next." Therefore Mr. James was settled here in the spring of 1694. Thus again the ship of state with a minister was afloat and under fair sailing.
The General Assembly enacted in 1696, that no wheat should be transported out of the colony except it be converted into flour, except at the forfeiture of the wheat.
The reason for this is not given, but it worked good for Derby, for they found cause soon after to build a new flour mill.
"Jan. 16, 1690-1. Voted that whosoever shall neglect to appear at the place appointed for the town meeting, within an hour after the time appointed for it, having had legal notice and warning, shall pay as a fine for every such neglect, two shillings and six pence, and shall be obliged to stand to what the town then acted."
"Dec. 4, 1693. Voted that Thomas Smith shall have leave to come into the town for two months, then if they see cause to remove him out of town, that then he shall surely go out."
"Feb 13, 1694. The town grant Thomas Smith a home lot at Grape Swamp." No explanation given.
"In 1692. They have agreed that the country road shall run over Sentinel hill down to two-mile brook. Further they have granted Captain Johnson the old road that goes now from Abel Holbrook's house down to the two mile brook for exchange for the other road."
The first act, authorizing ordained ministers of the Gospel to marry persons, was passed by the General Assembly in 1694, previous to which, the officers of the state performed that ceremony.
Feb. 8, 1682. Mr. Richard Bryan [sold] one sorrel Mare Colt Branded with x on ye nere Buttock & two hapenies out of ye offer eare: A white in ye Face & A sorrel spott in ye white toward ye offer or Right Eye; & the nere or left hoves Behind & Before white.
One black hors Colt with astreak of white Down the face To the mouth; Branded with x on ye nere or left Buttock & Two happenies cutt out of ye offer or right eare.
Abel Gunn of Derby hath changed to Ephraim Sanford at Milford
agray hors about 6 years old a gelding & docked; Branded with A on ye nere or left shoulder & a hapeny cut out of the offer eare.
1689, William Tyler Jr. sould, to Ebenezer Johnson of Derby a black horse with a white face, two wall-eyes, three white feet and dockt, branded upon the left buttock with W T upon the left shoulder with M.
Dec. 30, 1703, Memorandum That John Tybals & Abel Gunn exchanged horses and yt ye horse wch heaforsd Tybals had off ye sd Gun is a dunne horse with a black list down his back & a white ring round his nose & an halfpenny on ye near ear on ye underside theroff. And ye horse Abel Gun had offgoodman Tybals is a sorrel horse with a white blaz on his face & an half-penny on ye under side ye off ear & an H on ye near shoulder & I. C. upon ye near buttocks.
1785, Samuel Griffins eare marke for cattle & swine, is a hapeny cut out of the under side of the offer eare or right eare.
Widdow Hargers eare marke is a slitt in ye nere or left eare & a hool in ye offer or Rightt eare.
Isaac Nichols, sen., his eare mark is a hool in the nere or left eare & a slitt on the under side of the offer or right eare; the slit is downward of the eare.
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