GENERAL HISTORY

OF

THE TOWN OF SHARON,

LITCHFIELD COUNTY, CONN.
FROM ITS FIRST SETTLEMENT
BY CHARLES F. SEDGWICK, A. M.
AMENIA, N. Y.
CHARLES WALSH, PRINTER AND PUBLISHER.
1877

CHAPTER I

CONTAINING A CONCISE HISTORY OF EVENTS WHICH LED TO
THE SALE AND SETTLEMANT OF THE TOWNSHIP.

THE North-western part of Connecticut was sold and settled at a much later period than any other portion of the State. As early as the year 1686, nearly all the lands in the Colony had been disposed of, except those lying north of Waterbury and Woodbury, and west of Simsbury. Under the Charter of Charles II., obtained in 1662, the Colony of Connecticut, though nominally dependant on the crown, enjoyed, in fact, a strictly Republican form of government; the only service they were required to render to the crown of England being the one-fifth part of the produce of such mines of gold and silver as should be discovered. Charles was succeeded by his brother, James II., a prince of very arbitrary and vindictive propensities, and no sooner was he firmly seated on his throne, than he began to manifest his tyrannical disposition by causing the charters, which had been granted by his predecessors, to be vacated, and by assuming to himself the right cf appointing governors for thç different Colonies. It was feared by the people, that these Royal governors would seize upon all the public lands which had not been sold and granted by the Colony, and measures were taken to prevent such unjustifiable proceedings. It was believed, that if the public lands were sold, and the title to them guaranteed by the governor and company of the Colony, they could not be seized for the king, and under this impression, The land within the limjts just mentioned were on the 26th day of January, 1686, conveyed to the towns of Hartford and Windsor. The grant, however, did not include the lands west of the Ousatonic River, the assembly probably supposing, that, on account of their great distance from the settled parts of the Colony, they were beyond the reach of the royal governor’s rapacity. In October, after the grant just mentioned, Sir Edmund Andross came into the Colony, and by virtue of a commission from King James, took upon himself the administration of the government, and continued in. it about two years, or until the deposition of King James, when the people quietly resumed their ancient form of government under the Charter.

The lands above mentioned being deemed of little value, and the more fertile parts of the State being but thinly populated, it was more than thirty years before any attempts were made to settle them. About the year 1722, the public attention was turned to the western lands, as they were called; and as they began to rise in value, the towns of Hartford and Windsor laid claim to them, under the ancient grant which had been made to them tinder the circumstances which have been mentioned. This claim created a strong excitement throughout the Colony, and a lông and bitter controversy ensued, which resulted in a division of the lands between the towns and the Colony, the towns taking the eastern portion and the Colony the western.

This contention with Hartford and Windsor had retarded the sale of the western lands,’ but ‘that difficulty was now adjusted, and the Assembly took measures, soon after 1730, to effect this object; and for this purpose they Were surveyed, and laid out into townships of suitable dimensions. At the session in May, 1732, Edmund Lewis, Esq., Capt. Stephen Noble, and Mr. William Gaylord, were appointed a committee to view the Colony lands west of the Ousatonip River; and to lay out a township. in the northern section of them. They were also endowed with discretionary power to lay out a township on the south of the one just mentioned, if, upon viewing the lands, they should be of opinion that they were of such a quality, as to render them. a desirable place, for a new settlement. This committee entered promptly, upon their duties; and by their, report, dated. at New Milford, October 9, 1732, it appears they laid out both townships. The north township, now Salisbury, they denominated "the township of M” and the, south township they called N. S. The remainder of the country lands west of the Ousatonic River were afterwards, annexed to Kent. The boundaries of the second township are thus described by the committee :—“ Then having. taken a view. of the whole tract, we proceeded and laid out a second township, which begins at the southwest corner of the aforesaid township of M, it being a, stake set in the ground, and many stones laid to it, standing on the east side of a pond, as above set forth; and from thence the line runs 12 1/2 D. W., with the line of partition between said province of New York, and the Colony of Connecticut, nine miles to a heap of stones laid on a rock, in the aforesaid line of partition, and is about two miles east from Captain Sackett’s dwelling house, which is the southwest corner bounds of said second township,—from thence we run the south line of said second township E. D. south four miles and a half and 115 rods, to the Ousatonic River, where we marked a white oak tree, and laid many stones to it, for the southeast corner bounds of said second tbwnship, and we have marked many trees and made many monuments in the said south line. Thus we have surveyed and laid out the township of N. S., and it is bounded north on the township of M., south on the country lands, west on the aforesaid line of partition between the province of New York and the Colony of Connecticut, and east on the Ousatonic River.” The above work was completed October 7, 1732

It would seem that the way was now prepared for the sale and settlement of the township, but the Hartford and Windsor lands being nearer the settled portions of the Colony, probably afforded a more desirable field for the enterprise of new settlers, and the Colony lands were neglected, also existed which produced a serious delay in bringing the lands in Sharon into market. The line of partition between the Colony of Connecticut and the Province of New York, was defined and established in May 1731. The commissioners to settle the boundaries between the different jurisdiction on the part of Connecticut, were Samuel Eells, Roger Wolcott and Edmund Lewis; on the part of New York, Cadwalader Colden, Vincent Matthews and Jacobus Bruyn, Jun., and the articles of settlement are dated Dover, May 14, 1731

Several years before the settlement of the boundaries, one Richard Sackett had located himself at the place now called the Steel Works, in the beautiful Valley of the Ten Mile River, about seven miles south of the now village of Sharon. The whole region was a wilderness, and it being in the time of Queen Anne's war, he was exposed to imminent peril from hostile savages. He acquired large possessions of land and his settlement is spoken of in cotemporary documents and records as Sackett's Farm. He had been a sea captain in early life, and in connection with wealthy individuals in the city of New York he commenced at an early day to purchase the Indian title to the lands near him. The colony line not having been established, he probably availed himself of his knowledge of astronomy acquired in the study of navigation, and made experiments and observations, based upon a treaty of partition made in 1683, but which had never been carried out by actual survey, and persuaded himself that the boundary line, when surveyed, would run within about two miles of the Ousatonic River. In this belief, he purchased of Metoxon, the great Chief of all the Indian tribes in that region, whose residence was probably at Copake Flats, N. Y., about twenty-two thousand acres of land, more than seven thousand acres of which the survey of the boundary line, showed to be in Connecticut. The boundaries were definitely traced in the treaty of purchase, but in general terms they were as follows:

The east line commenced at a place which the Indians called Wimpeting, at the western base of a range of mountains, about seven miles south of Sharon Village, and from that point it followed the western base of the mountain range, northerly, 'to a point in Salisbury, a little east of Town Hill, so called. From that point the line ran northwesterly to the base of the mountain north of the Ore Hill, which in the Indian deed is called Ponsumpsie, thence southwesterly to the foot of the mountain west of Spencers Corner, then following that range southerly through the Wassaic valley, to Sackett's other possessions. Looking at this territory in all its characteristics and resources, we can hardly conceive of any other which exceeds it in rural beauty or sources of wealth.

He, believing that the whole tract was within the territoiy of New York, obtained a confirmation of his title from the Provincial Government and from Queen Ann's Most Excellent Maj esty. He exercised acts of ownership in different: parts of the territory. He built a dwelling house in what is now called Sharon Valley, which stood west of the Ten Mile River, a little west ot the Malleable Iron Works, and just within the territory of Connecticut. There he settled a tenant of the name of Baltus Lott, a Dutchman. There can be no dbubt that the house occupied by this individual was the flrst house built by a white man in Sharon, and that he was the first white inhabitant of the town. Sackett also made other improvements in various portions of the lands claimed by him. But the running of the boundary line in 1731 showed him that a large and valuable portion of them were within the jurisdiction of Connecticut, and that so much of them would be lost to him unless he could obtain a confirmation of his title from that Colony.

He immediately commenced petitioning the General Court of Connecticut for the recognition of his title; and prosecuted his suit fo,r nearly seven years. He urged, from time to time, his claims to the land for the reasons, that he had expended large sums of money in the purchase of it, in the full belief that it was in New York; that he had braved many dangers durIng a long residence in the wilderness, encountered perils and privations of various kinds, had built a grist mill for the benefit of the neighboring inhabitants; and in variobs other ways urged a confirmation of his title. His petitions were unifOrmly rejected by the legislature, and he, after several years' of effort, satisfied that a further prosecution would be useless, abandoned it forever. But his tenant Baltus Loft held on to his possessions for several years after the town, was settled, despite the: many efforts of the proprietors to dislodge him, and finally compelled them to pay him a liberal price for his improvements.

The Colony of Connecticut ever made it a practice to deal justly by the Indian claimants before they attempted to dispose of its lands by settlements. Treating Sackett's purchase as a nullity, the governor and company employed Thomas Lamb, who lived at Lime Rock, in Salisbury, to buy up the Indian title to the lands in Sharon, and in October, 1738, he effected a purchase from the tribe claiming title to them, for about four hundred and fifty dollars. The indefiniteness and uncertainty of this contract with Lamb, as to how much, if any land was reserved to the Indians, afterwards, as will be seen, caused no little trouble to the settlers.

It will be observed that the committee who laid out the township mention in their report to the legislature that there had been laid out in country grants about four hundred acres of land. This was the designation given to lands patented by the Colony to individual purchasers. The land thus described was near Hitchcock's Corner. It was laid out in two parcels, one of three hundred acres to Samuel Orvis, of Farmington, and another of about one hundred acres to Jonathan Bird, of the same town. Both pieces were surveyed by Mr. Lewis, about the time of the original survey of the town. This grant included lands of the very first quality, and extended as far north as to include the farm of the late Southard Hitchcock, Esq. Orvis and Bird never occupied their lands, but before 1734 sold them to one Daniel Jackson, and the patent was taken out in Jackson's name, and the land for many years was called Jackson's Patent. Daniel Jackson was the first New England man who lived in Sharon. His house stood where the house lately owned by the Sharon Manufacturing Company stands. He was originally from Newtown, in Fairfield County, but at the time of his purchase he resided in Dover, N. Y. His son, Jehiel Jackson, who once lived where George Maxam now lives, in the Great Hollow, was the first white child born in Sharon. Mr. Jackson lived but a few years in town. In February, 1739, he sold his patent to Garret Winegar, and removed to Great Barrington, Mass.

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