THIS MATERIAL IS
PAST AND PRESENT,
REV. HOLLIS A. CAMPBELL,
WILLIAM C. SHARPE
FRANK G. BASSETT.
W. C. SHARPE, PUBLISHER, SEYMOUR, CONN.
Entered according to Act of Congress. in the Year 1902
BY WILLIAM C. SHARPE.
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress.
Washington, D. C.
The lover of history looks with interest upon the old homes and
landmarks of a New England village. But if inquiry is made con-
cerning many of these old places, there is disappointment in learn-
ing their history, because of the indefinite answers given. Having
had this experience, the writer has been gathering, for seven years,
items of interest relating to the old landmarks, homes and families
located in Seymour. Of the old places remaining, the writer has
taken many photographs, which led to further inquiry into their his-
tory. The suggestion to combine the illustrations and history natur-
In May, I9OO, I wrote an article upon the subject, "Old Land-
marks of Seymour," for the Connecticut Magazine, but this was in-
complete for the lack of space.
The interest taken in this article led to the plan of putting in
book form what information was gathered relating to the old homes.
In so doing it is my aim to present the information in such a way as
to revive the public interest in our local history, that has clustered
about the old homes and landmarks for two centuries and more.
It has also been my aim to point out these places, and to briefly
describe them, treating of their history in localities, if not altogether
in the order of time. This method will, with the history of the fam-
ilies, give greater variety, and add to the local and general interest.
Any effort of this kind will, by necessity, be incomplete, be-
cause many facts of history and the traditions have departed with
The most instructive and interesting history is that which re-
lates to all sides of life, classes and conditions of men. The history
Of the people has been too brief. It has been too much confined to
the civil community. Therefore it is hoped that the present meth-
Od of presentation will be a pleasant change, that is, by more fully
considering the homes, families and life that make up the civil com-
munity. The home and home life are nearest the hearts of men.
The social. religious and political institutions have been closely re-
lated to the old homes, to touch the inner life of the people. All
these come into our brief history.
I am indebted to many friends for the information that is gh-en
in these pages. I wish to express my thanks to all who have in any
way contributed to this work; and for the generous public response
in encouraging the work, by subscribing for the same.
My constant aim has been to present an interesting book to read
and also to make it of sufficient value to be useful for future refer-
Among the books for reference were the following: "The His-
tory of Seymour," 2 vols., by W· C· Sharpe; "History of Derby,"
by S. Orcutt; "The History of New Haven Country," by J· L.
Rockey; "Derby Records," manuscripts, deeds, etc.
No sooner was this book begun than there appeared the need
of enlarging it upon the original plan. It was therefore arranged
that W. C. Sharpe should have the exelusive preparation of the bi-
In preparing notes for the churches, manufacturing industries
and fraternities, I found the time too short to do the subjects justice
and consequently these were left to W· C· Sharpe, who prepared
It was further arranged with F. G· Bassett for the preparation
of the genealogies, which he has done with much labor, faithful-
ness and success, thus greatly increasing the value of the book.
Concerning the illustrations, more than sixty of these were from
photographs taken and finished by the writer (H. A. C.) Others
were from cuts made for "The Sevmour Record," and furnished by
W. C. Sharpe. Still others were from cuts generously loaned by
the "Connecticut Magazine Co." of Hartford. The photographic
work of Ralph S. Beach is illustrated in these pages, and also that
of W. C. Bryant of New York.
From the department of the U. S. Geological Survey, Wash-
ington, D. C., there was secured a special edition of 500 copies of
the map, "Derby Sheet,.' made for this book, and given by the
writer. This is the topographical map of Seymour and surrounding
towns, and is one of the best maps made.
Specialthanks are due to the Town of Seymour for having a
map of the town made, and also for furnishing copies of said map
for this book, "Seymour, Past and Present." This map was ordered
after most of this book was written.
H. A. CAMPBELL.
SEYMOUR, Conn., Jan. 23, 1902.
PART I.--BY REV. H. A. CAMPBELL.
HISTORICAL DATA AND SKETCH, AND OLD LANDMARKS.
Important Events and Dates and Historical Sketch.
Chapter I.--Important Events and Dates, page 9.
Our Naugatuck, Poem, by M. S. Noyee, 15.
Chapter II.--Historical Sketch, 17.
Old Landmarks, Homes and Families.
Chapter I.--Fishing Place, Indians, etc., 25.
Additional Notes, see p. 211.
To Rock Rimmon, Poem, by A. F. Rider, 124.
Chapter I.--The Churches of Seymour, by W. C. Sharpe.
The Congregational Church, 125·
The Methodist Episcopal Church, 130·
Trinity Church, 136.
The Church of St. Augustine, 140.
The German Lutheran Church, 143·
The Great Hill Congregational Church, 144·
Great Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, 147·
Chapter II.--Manufacturing Industries, by W. C. Sharpe.
Industries of the Past, 151.
Present Manufacturing Industries, 172·
Chapter III.--The Public Schools, Library and Bank, by Rev.
H. A. Campbell.
The High School, Second Street, Bell, Cedar Ridge, Bungay
and Great Hill Schools, 193·
The Public Library, 199.
Valley National Bank, 200.
Chapter IV.--By W. C. Sharpe.
The Seymour Fire Department, zor.
The New Park, zro.
Chapter V.-By Rev. H. A. Campbell.
Old Homes, Families and Landmarks - Additional Notes, zrr.
Early Dealings with the Indians, 215.
Chapter VI.--BV W. C. Sharpe.
Early Settlers, Indian Hill and Success Hill, 218.
Chapter VII.--By Rev. H. A. Campbell.
Dates of Houses, Factories and Public Buildings, 225.
Chapter VIII.--BY W. C. Sharpe.
Biography, People of the Past, 233·
Biography, People of Today, 277-
Selectmen, from 1850 to 1902, 329-
Town Clerks, Treasurers and SchoolVisitors. 330·
Members of the Board of Education, 332·
Chapter IX.--Patriotic Services in Time of War, by W. C. Sharpe.
In the War of the Revolution, 335·
In the French and Indian Wars, 339·
Soldiers in the War of ISI2--18I4, 339
In the Mexican and Florida Wars, 340·
In the War for the Preservation of the Union, 340·
(:hapter X.--Fraternal and Patriotic Societies, etc., hy W· C.
PART III.--BU FRANK G· BASSETT.
Index, following Genealogies.
Map of Seymour, presented by the Town, and Derby Sheet of
U. S. Survey Map, inside back cover.
BY REV. H. A. CAMPBELL.
HISTORICAL DATA AND SKETCH, AND OLD LANDMARKS.
IMPORTANT EVENTS AND DATES, HISTORICAL SKETCH.
IMPORTANT EVENTS AND DATES.
1614, Adriaen Block discovered Connecticut coast and river
I630, The Council of Plymouth (or for New England) granted the
tract including Connecticut to Earl of Warwick.
1631. The Earl of Warwick granted to Lord Say and Sele and
others the tract from Narragansett River west 120 miles indud-
ing all of Connecticut.
1633, The earliest date used relating to the Indians at the Falls,
16B7-8, New Haven was first settled.
1639, Apr, 25, New Haven Colony was founded.
1639, Milford was settled.
1642, Mr. Wakeman established a trading post at Derby.
1654, Edward Wooster was the first permanent settlerin the Naug-
atuck valley at Derby.
1665, New Haven county was named.
1665, The union of the Connecticut and New Haven colonies was
1670, Date of the Great Hill and Hawley purchase.
1675, Derby town was incorporated with 12 families.
1677, Waterbury was settled, and was incorporated in 1656.
1678, Apr. 22, Ebenezer Johnson became the tirst owner of land in
Seymour, purchased of the Indians, near Rock Rimmon.
1678, Apr. 22, The inhabitants of Derby bought of the Indians the
land about the Falls, except the Falls and reservation eastward.
1683, Samuel Riggs' cellar was located southeast of Rock Kimmon.
1685, The tirst Milford purchase south of Eiladens brook one mile
and 120 rods wide, along New Haven line.
1687. Aug. 6, Quaker Farms and Kockhouse Hill region was bought
of the Indians.
1687, Aug. 6, mention made of Woodbury path or road over Kock-
1690. Before this date there were two or three settlers near Rock
1692, David Wooster, son of Edward rst, bought of Indians land
between Castle rock and the river.
1693, Aug. 15, Land bought of the Indians, b?- Wm. Tomlinson, J.
Hard, J. Lum and T. Wooster, etc., located between 4 and i
mile brook, now Rockhouse Hill, a part of the 1687 purchase.
1700, Feb. 29, The znd Milford purchase, "two bit purchase,"
north of Bladens brook, along New Haven line.
1702, Feb. 23, the jd Milford purchase, "one bit purchase," north
of Lebanon brook, now west part of Uethany.
1702, The "Camp's mortgage purchase,' a tract 3 miles square on
Great Hill was divided. The Indians or the town of Uerb, had
previously given this mortgage to Nicholas Camp of Milford.
1707, There were settlers at Pinesbridge.
1708, Division made of land at Rock Rimmon and Pinesbridge
between Eb. Johnson and Sam. Riggs.
17I2, The first roads or paths were constructed in the north part of
1731, There were settlers along Little River.
17311 The Indians sold their reservation except the Falls and plain
1738, About this date Chief Chuse settled near the Falls.
1740-2, There were about twenty families in this part of the town.
1747, The date of sale of the Abbott's house and mills on Little
river near Park and Oxford roads
1750, About this date the Woosters had a deer park of 100 acres
west of corners of Park and Oxford roads.
1759, New road was laid out at the foot of Indian Hill, south of the
bridge, now South Main street.
1760, The town granted to James Pritchard ths site on Little river
for a corn mill.
1763, Oct. 4, The Indians sold the Falls and 2 1/2 acres of land to
Keeney, Wooster and J.Hull, Jr. The first industries were soon
1766, 4 school is mentioned on Great Hill. The first schools in
town were in private houses.
1775, Nov. 29, Great Hillecclesiastical society organized, and in-
corporated in May, 1779.
1780, About this time Chief Chuse went to state reservation, Scat-
1781, The Great HillCongregational church was built. The first
meeting was held in March, 1782.
1783, Plans begun, and road built soon after, from Woodbury along
Housatonic river to Derbv.
1783, The graveyard was established on Great Hill.
1784, The town of Woodbridge was incorporated.
1785, Capt. Bradford Steele built a shop with hammers at the
Falls, run by water power.
1787, Dec. 21, Rev. Abner Smith was called to the church on Great
Hill, remaining until 1829 or 183"
1789. Nov. 3, Congregational church, Seymour, organized with 26
1790, Congregational church was built on Pearl street.
1793, The first physician, Dr. S. Sanford, came to town.
1793, About the date of the first Methodist preaching.
1795, The Oxford turnpike constructed by the second turnpike com-
pany chartered in the state
1797, Feb. 20, Trinity Episcopal church was organized.
1797, Feb. 7, Methodist church was organized.
1798, The town of Oxford was incorporated.
1798, The New Haven turnpike was constructed, now Maple street,
beginning at Pearl.
1799, (1790?) Titus Beach built fulling mill on Bladens brook, now
the Beach paper mill.
1802, Road was built from iron bridge, Broad street, up the hill to
the old blacksmith shop.
1802, Gen. David Humphreys imported 100 merino sheep from
Spain to Derby.
1803, Gen. D. Humphreys purchased the property at the Falls.
1804, The name Humphreysville was given to this part of the town.
1804, Dr. Abiram Stoddard, M. D., came to town.
1804, Oct. 18, Morning Star Lodge, No. 47, F. & A. M., was organ-
ized in Oxford with z0 members. Revived and moved to Sey-
mour, May 14, 1851·
1805, Gen. D. Humphreys established the first paper mill in town.
1805, The road on the west side of the river was laid out, extending
to Derby Narrows.
1806, June ;6, Gen. D. Humphreys raised the frame of the woolen mill.
1806, The Humphreysville Mfg. Co. was estatlished.
1807, Thomas Gilyard and John Winterbotham came from England.
I812--I2, The last of the Indian lands were sold on and near Indian
Hill, now Promised Land.
1810, Date of the birth of Mrs. Ann Stephens, daughter of John
Winterbotham, born on West street, died at Newport, R. I.,
Aug. to. 1886.
1810, About this date Walter French began to make twisted augers
and bits in a blacksmith shop on the corner of Pearl and Maple
1818, Feb. zr, Gen. D. Humphreys died suddenly in New Haven,
and was buried there. Born in Derby, 37;2.
1828, The first bell and stove used in Trinity church.
1837, The first paper made of straw in Connecticut was at the
Smith paper mill.
1842, The Humphreysville Grave Yard Association was organized,
that is, Union Cemetery; and the first burial was in October,
1844, Raymond French built the dam at Kinneytown.
1844, The town of Naugatuck was incorporated.
1844, The road from Blueville (Rubber mill) was cut through to the
1846, The Congregational church building was begun on Broad
street, and was dedicated April 20, 1847
1847, The dam at Rimmon Falls was begun and was flooded Oct.
27, 4867 Cost $65,000.
1848, The New Haven Copper Co. was incorporated. Capital,
1849, The first railroad locomotive ran into Seymour, May 10, and
on May 14 the Naugatuck road was opened from Bridgeport to
1850, Seymour was incorporated as a town, with a population of
1850, The dam at the Falls was rebuilt with solid masonry by Ray-
1851, The first town bank was incorporated.
1853-4, The Great Hill M. E. church was built.
1854, Austin G. Day began the manufacture of hard rubber goods,
1856-7, The wooden bridge across the Pu'augatuck river, Bank street,
1857, The Hoadley bridge was built at west end of Rank street.
1866, The Fowler Nail Co. was incorporated. Capital $60,000.
I867, Oct. 27, The Rimmon Falls dam, gates first closed.
1869, Printing office opened by William C. Sharpe.
1870, The population of Seymour was 2,121.
1871, Beacon Falls was incorporated as a town, formed out of the
1871, The Seymour Kecord was first published by W. C. Sharpe.
1880, The population of Seymour was 2,318.
1880, The Tingue Mfg. Co. was incorporated. Capital $200,000.
1880, The Seymour hlfg. Co. was organized May, 1880. Incorpor-
ated January session, 1887. Capital $500,000.
1880, The S. Y. Beach Paper Co. was incorporated. Capital
1882, Fire on Bank street destroyed the furniture store of E. F.
Bassett and store of S. Y. Beach.
1882, Oct. 21, The Fire Company was organized, and incorporated
March 17, 1886.
1883, The iron bridge at Broad street was built.
1881, The High School building was begun on Bank street and was
occupied the fall of 1886.
1886, Aug. 20, Mrs. Ann Stephens died in Newport. R. I., aged 76.
1888, July !5, The Church of St. Augustine cornerstone I.:id. Ded-
icated May r8, 1890.
1889, Ansonia was incorporated as a town, separating from Derby.
1889, The "Pines" was converted into a public park. Purchased in
1889, Jan. The Seymour Electric 60. was incorpuratedd Capital
1890, The population of Seymour was 3,300.
1890, The H. A. Matthews Mfg. Co. was organized. Capital $85,000.
1892, The Arethusa Spring Water Co. of Seymour was organized by
Hen. C. French.
1892, The Seymour Free Public Library was organized.
1892, Nov. 31, The German Evangelical Church was c;rgar:izec(.
Church built r 894.
1892, Jan. Dr. Frank A. Benedict, M. D., began practice in town.
1892, Dr E. W. Davis. M. D., began practice in town.
1895, The James Swan Co. was incorporated. Capital $125,000. J.
Swan, Supt. and Manager 1865, full owner r877-
1898, The Seymour \I;ater Co. was organized. Capital $60,000.
1898, The Se?mour Iron Foundr? was established by E. A. E;latt.
1898, May 3, The Board of Tratle was organized.
1898. May 4. The E. C. Sharpe B. 8r L. Co. u-as in orporated.
1898, Oct. r5, The new Railway Station was opened.
11899, Apr., Water Works completed of S. Water Co.
1900, Population of Segmour, 3,541
1900, July 16, the charter of the Valley National Bank of Seymour
was granted. The bank was opened Aug. 14, with W. L. \liard
as president and C. S. Boies cashier.
1900, Jan., the Rimmon Mfg. Co. was incorporated- Capital,
1900, Oct., the New Park. the gift of Hen. Carlos Trench, was
accepted by the town.
1901, Charter was granted for Electric road from Ansonia to Sey-
mour. S. Hart Culver was Representative to Conn. Legislature.
POPULATION OF DERBY.
1756, including Oxford, 1080; 1774, population 1889 ; 1790, POPU-
lation 2994; '803, Derby alone, pop 1878; r8ro, pop. a,ojr.
SOME OF THE GREAT FLOODS IN THE NAUGATC'CK RIVER.
Jan. 13, 1835 Jan. 7, 'X35. In 1847 there were three heavy
freshets - Feb. 3d and 8th, and March 10.
On Nov. It. 1853, the water rose 18 ft. II in. The south part
of the railroad bridge was carried away with the abutment The
bridges at Beacon Falls, Pinesbrid ge and Ansonia were carried away.
Jail. 8th, 1854, the water aKain swept away the railroad bridge,
and also the dam at the rubber mill.
April 30, r85;C. there was a rise of water I!, ft. 5 in.. and Derby
avenue was washed out to the depth of three feet or mere, and
boats were used in the avenue.
IMPORTANT EVENTS AND DATES.
Oct.4, 1869. 15 ft. 9 in. Two bridges on Bladens brook were
swept away. Feb. 19, 1870, 14 ft. Jan., 1874, 1/' ft. 6in. Aug.
19, '875. '3 ft. Dec. 10, 1878, ri'ft. r in. Feb. 12, 1880, gft. ;in.
Dec. 18, 1888, 13 ft. 11 in. Feb. 7, 1896, 16 ft. 5 in. R;larch , r
1901, 16 ft. 6 in.
Fown through the shadowy valleys green
Where ferns and grasses grow,
Wintling the fragrant brnks between,
Its water onward flow.
Through sunny dale and shatly nook,
Through lomar, field and glen. en,
PLlhl song of birds and babbling brook,
Afar from haunts of men.
Pnst towering rocks whose messy crest
In summer sunsets B1OH.
A And vineclad hills in verdance drest,
Where pale sweet violets grow
Through guict rale and busy town,
With h sound of wheel and loom,
'IW morning aunbe:m\J dancing down,
And evening's shade and gloom.
Past cities 'mid whose grassy waves
Tile sculptured marble keeps
It's silent vigils o'er tile graves
Weere many a loved one sleeps
It gently glides ill tranquil 1Tll)lld,
When skies are fair and bright
And rushes on in storm anil flood,
With mad resistless flight
Onward erer through ages old
Of springs slid summers past,
01 autumn's crimson and its gold,
Anil winter s chilling bl;tat
And oh ! what ntorics mnat it know,
Could it but spe;rk and tell,
Of those who in the long ago
Knew all its will lin-s well.
Tales of a long forpotten race.
Who lired and loved and died,
That wandered once in careless grace
The sunny stream beside.
Full many a shifting sc.ene and change
Since this old world was new,
And many a wondrous sight and strange
Has passed brfore its view.
In years ancf ages yet to come
Will still Its waters gleam ?
And other forms beside ic roam
And lore its shining strenm?
When we with many g one before
Shall see and know it not,
Bad gaze apon it nevermore
Forgetting anil forgot.
HISTORY OF SEYMOUR.
THE territory covered by the present town of Seymour was not
included in the first New Haven plantation, which was "a tract
of land north of the bay ten miles one way and thirteen the
other, and was purchased for ten coats." This was in April
1638. Many statements have appeared in print, that the town of
Milford at one time included Derby, which meant also the territory
covered by the present town of Seymour, but this is an error.
Milford extended only to a mile below the Narrows. It was in 1675
that the town of Derby was organized, and ten years later, 1685,
the Milford purchase was made of land, north of the Derby road to
New Haven, one mile and 120 rods wide, along the New Haven line
to Bladen's Brook, and in 1700 another purchase was made one
mile and 120 rods wide north of Bladen's Brook, and in 1702
another section north called "the one bit purchase.''
The people in Derby known as " Paugassett Company " paid
taxes for three years direct to the New Haven Company, and for
thirteen years to Milford, for then they attended and supported the
church in Milford, but all the doings of the plantation, with the
above exceptions, were independent of Milford from the very be-
ginning, and Milford never pretended to claim any part of Derby.
See Der. Hist. p. 446
Though Derby was organized in 1675, the south boundary was
not established until 1680.
To designate the locality about the Falls, the name Naugatuck
was given, by which it was known until the coming of the Indian
Chief Chuse about 1738, and then the name Chusetown was given.
Owing to the new woolen industry established by Gen. David
Humphreys at the Falls in 1803, the name was again changed to
Humphreysville in 1804 in honor of the General.
Seymour was incorporated as a town by the May, 1850, session
of the general assembly, upon the petition of Leman Chatfield and
others. The first town election was held in the basement of the
Methodist church June 24, 1850, and the following were elected:
Selectmen, Leman Chatfield, David L. Holbrook, Thos. Cochran;
Town Clerk, Charles B. Wooster; Town Treasurer, Sylvester
Smith. On the 31st of March, 1851, Bennett Wooster was elected
the first representative of the town of Seymour to the general as-
sembly. Its name was given out of compliment to Hen. T. H.
Seymour, then the Governor of the State.
Old Derby included not only Humphreysville, but also the
region north, now covered by Beacon Falls and Oxford, lying be-
tween the New Haven or Milford bounds and the Housatonic river.
The country is broken and rough, yet the town contains many fine
farms. The numerous streams and reservoirs make the vallies the
natural centers for manufacturing industries. The topography
will indicate better than anything else the general appearance of
The Naugatuck River flows from the north, winding through the
village to the "Falls." which the author will refer to as the central
point, around which is clustered the following history of the old
landmarks and homes. The Little river flows from the north-west
into the Naugatuck some distance above the Falls, and Bladen's
brook, or river, flows from the east into the Naugatuck about an
eighth of a mile above the Falls. The Four-mile brook flows along
the western base of Great Hill into the Housatonic river.
The hills are numerous the highest elevation being 640 feet
above the level of the sea. The hill south of the Henry Wooster,
Moss, now S. G. Warrin place is 280 feet high, and the hill half a
mile east is 400 feet. The hill south of the residence of L. T.
Wooster is 320 feet, and due east from it three-fourths of a mile is a
hill 496 feet in height. The Promised Land rises to the height of
22o feet, and the hill near a mile to the east is 460· Skokorat is an
elevation of 423 feet. Rock Rimmon is the next highest point of
570 feet, where the town line crosses. Rimmon Hill is 400 feet,
Chestnut Hill from 500 to 631, and Castle Rock is an elevation of
340 feet. Where Church and west streets meet, the elevation is
160 feet; the Bungay road at the highest point is 400 feet. The
Mountain road on Great Hill is elevated 440 feet. The highest
point on Great Hill is 640 feet on the turnpike, or the Woodbury
stage road at the old Priest Smith house. Rockhouse Hill is 590
feet, and Moose Hill is an elevation of 670. At the present time,
these northern hills are within the bounds of Beacon Falls and
There being no bridges in the early part of the town's history,
the Naugatuck river was forded at the following places; just below
Kinnevtown, there was one or more, at the South end of Derbv
Avenue where the Rimmon road crossed was another, the one above
the bridge at Broad street was used until the first bridge was built,
referred to in 1763 The ford above the Falls was about the middle
of Kimmon pond leading to Rock Kimmon, east, and Kimmon Hill
road west, and there was still another at Pines Bridge, at the foot
of the hill going north towards the cemetery. The roads at the
present iron bridge would indicate another near that point.
These fords indicate where some of the roads of the early days
were. There was one that followed the river, doubtless used when
the river was low. The Rimmon road came over Rimmon Hill,
crossed Little River to the present Church street, then along the
side of Castle Rock to the ford at the south end of Derby Avenue,
from thence extending to the Henrv Wooster brook, on up the hill.
This road can still be traced between the brook and railroad, and
from the brook up the hill the road is frequently used. There was
a road alone the river to Kinneytown and instead of the south
Bungay road, there was one that came from the west near the Dea.
Nehemiah Botsford place, that has long since been given up. An-
other very old forsaken road is marked by a lane near the Keeney
homestead, Kinneytown, winding up the hill westward, meeting
the south Bungay road. Around the west and south side of Castle
Rock, there was another road, that is not on the chart today. At
an early date there was a path along the Oxford road, but the
turnpike was not laid out until I794· In addition to the Bungay
road, there are two four corners before coming to the Woodbury.
or Stage road, the principal road on Great Hill, mentioned as early
On the east side of the Naugatuck river, at the east end of the
Falls bridge, the old road ran directly to a point a little west of the
engine house ; also there was a road south frorn the bridge leading
to the Henry Wooster brook, a mile below, there meeting the
Rimmon road. The road north of the Wooster Warrin house ran
east, a cross-road northeast to the Frank Stcele farm and Walnut
street. From the old blacksmith shop at the Pearl street corners,
another road extended to the Johns' corners and then south to
Derby. A little east of Davis--Johns corners, a road ran north-
ward to Joel and Leman Chatfield's place. The New Haven turn-
pike was not completed until 1798 Still another important road
led over Skokorat on to Waterbury. From the papermill on
Bladen's brook, there was a road along the north side of the brook,
which is still to be seen east of the stone bridge, close to the brook.
Still another road was laid out along the Naugatuck river to
Rock Rimmon and northward. South of Rock Rimmon, there was
a road running southwest to the ford referred to, and then meeting
the Rimmon road on the southern slope of Rimmon Hill. Another
old road followed Rimmon brook, then extended northeast, meet-
ing other roads now in Beacon Falls. Again at some point on the
southern slope of the Rimmon Hill road, another important road
ran northeast along the eastern slope of Rimmon Hill, passing the
deserted cemetery, now in the wilderness, crossing the river prob-
ably at the Pines Bridge ford, then up the hill east of the present
road, then northward to meet the stage road from Naugatuck town
to New Haven. The connection between the Oxford and Rimmon
roads was the present Beecher street.
It is to be said to the credit of the white people of New Eng-
land, during colonial times, that they purchased the lands from the
Indians before they permanently settled upon it. Such was the
case in this valley. It was only sixteen years after Edward Woos-
ter came to Derby, that other white men began to buy up the ter-
ritory around, beginning with the Great Hill purchase in 1670, by
Alexander Bryan, of Milford, for seventeen pounds. This same
territory was sold to John Brinsmade, Sr., Henry Tomlinson and
Joseph Hawley, of Stratford, for the same compensation, and then
it was called the " Hawley purchase." This was upon the south-
ern border of Great Hill, which in 1716 became the estate of Robert
Bassett, who gave it to his son Samuel. In Aug. 1693 the tract of
land on Rockhouse Hill was bought, being included in the purchase
lying between Four-mile and Five-mile brooks, the Housatonic
river and the Woodbury road. William Tomlinson, Sr. and Jr.,
and Jonathan Lum were among the purchasers of this tract from
the Indians, for twenty pounds.
The Indians began to sell their land in the vicinity of the Falls
as early as 1678, as indicated in the following deed:--
"This indenture made the 22nd day of April, 1678, witnesseth
that we do sell unto the inhabitants, a tract of land at Pagassett,
bounded on the north with Bladen's brook, and northwest with
Mill river, and south and southwest with the Englishmen's ground,
and west and northwest with a hill on the west side of the Nauga-
tuck river, part of the bounds and the 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."
Husks, his mark.
Suckcoe, " "
Okenung, Sagamore, his mark.
Ahuntaway, his mark.
Cockapatana, " "
Sauquett, " "
This tract included the land south of Bladen's brook to the
Henry Wooster brook, where S. G. Warrin now lives, with the
This reservation extended over the hill eastward to the New
Haven line. Among the owners of the tract south of the reserva-
tion was Edward Wooster, I. In the division of his lands Jan. 25,
1693-4, the following is recorded in the Der. Rec. p. 173, "Also the
land at blading brook is Reserved for Edward wooster & Silvester
wooster & Jonas wooster & Ebenezer wooster in the Lue of five
pounds apease." This tract doubtless included the old Henry
Wooster homestead, now the estate of S. G. Warrin. Other lands
on Great Hill and Moose Hill were also divided by lot among his
"Dec. 30, 1678. The town granted to Ebenezer Johnson the
upper plain land against Rock Rimmon." "Dec. 30. The town
granted to Jeremiah Johnson twenty acres of land at the lower end
of the plain against Rock Kimmon." And "at the same meeting the
PAGE 22town granted to Daniel Collins, John Tibbals, and Philip Denman
ten acres each.
"At a town meeting in Derby, Feb. 14, 1678, the town hath
granted liberty to Samuel Riggs to take up twenty acres of land at
or near Rock Rimmon on the west side of the river."
During the same year Ebenezer Johnson bought land of the
Indians east and southward from Rock Rimmon, and it appears
that in some way Samuel Riggs shared in this purchase, because in
1683 a division of land was made between Ebenezer Johnson, be-
ginning at the cellar belonging to Samuel Riggs, located south-east
of Rock Rimmon, the division line running northwest. The exact
location of this cellar is not known, whether on the east side of
Rimmon pond or as far east as the Skokorat road. Another men-
tion is made of a cellar near Rimmon in 1685, to which reference
may be made later.
The settlers doubtless found the region about Rock Rimmon
an inviting one, because of the open plain and the river, there being
two or three settlers before 1690. In the year 1683, Abel Gunn
received from the town a grant of ten acres north of the Falls and
west of the river. On Aug. 61 I687, a large tract was purchased
including a tract along Little river, to Quaker Farms. David
Wooster, in 1692, bought of the Indians the plain west of the Naug-
atuck between the river and Castle Rock, estending as far north as
the Falls, and probably as far as the present Rimmon pond. The
same rear he also bought of the Indians the tract south of Little
river including Castle Rock and the land westward, to other rocks
In April 1700 Ebenezer Johnson and Samuel Riggs bought of the
Indians the tract of land north of little river, which extended east-
ward to the land belonging to David Woostcr, lying along the
river, and also twenty acres of meadow and upland upward of
Chestnut Tree Hill.
Close on to this, in 1702, was the "Camp's Mortgage Purchase,
located west of the river and Falls, wich included a tract of land
three miles square, or the Great Hill region.
Samuel Riggs again bought land on the west side of the river
at Pines Bridge, which estended south, meeting the land belonging
to David Wooster. Tn 1708 a division of land was made between
Samuel Riggs and Ebenezer Johnson; Riggs chose that west of the
riverand south of the brook at Pines Bridge, and Johnson chose
that east of the river, wich in 1721, he divided equally between
his two sons Charles and Timothy. Still later Benajah Johnson
inherited part of the tract which formerly belonged to Ebenezer
and Jeremiah Johnson, and settled on the Skokorat road. In 1708
Samuel Riggs gave to his son Ebenezer Riggs 200 acres of land,
located south of the Pines Bridge brook and west of the river. This
land had houses upon it, which were among the five first dwellings
in this region. Ebenezer lived there, but died when a young man
in 1712, about 30 years of age.
These purchases referred to above included the territory now
covered by Seymour, Pines Bridge and a part of Oxford.
The Indian reservation of 1678 remained complete until 1731,
when people of Derby bought of the Indians all the land known as
Indian Hill, in Derby, situated upon east side of Naugatuck river
near the place called the Falls; all the land that lieth eastward,
northward and southward, except the plain that lieth near the
the Falls up to the foot of the hill." This deed was signed by
John Cookson and John Howd and other Indians.
Indian Hill included what is now known as the Promised Land,
and east to the Woodbridge Line.
On Oct. 4, 1763, the Indians sold the Falls and two and a half
acres of land, to Ebenezer Keeney, John Wooster, and Joseph
Hull, Jr. This deed was signed by the Indians Joseph Chuse and
The last of the Indian land was sold in 1812, to Gen. David
Humphreys and Mrs. Phebe Stiles. Thus during a period of 134
years, the Indians had departed, the reservation sold; and the white
man will continue in possession until the coming of a stronger race.
For our purpose this brief history is sufficient. In the history
concerning the old landmarks, old homes and families, many names
will become familiar, some of which were on record from one to
two centuries ago. In 1779 the following appear to have resided
on the west of the river between Great Hill and the upper part of
the Rimmon region:
Bradford Steele, Edward Harger, John Botsford, Hezekiah
Woodin, Ashbel Steele. Josiah Washburn, Reuben Perkins, Ran-
ford Whiting, Abraham Wooster, Daniel Davis, Lewis Riggs, Benj.
Davis, John Wooster, Ebenezer Kenney, James Pritchard, Jr.,
Wm. Kenney, Samuel Wooster, Wm. Gordon, Theodore Hiles,
Jonathan Miles, Unis Pritchard.
PART I.-Division II.
A HISTORY OF
OLD LANDMARKS, HOMES, AND FAMILIES.
The Fishing Place--Indians--The Humphreys- Dr. R. Mansfield - Henry
Wooster and Dr. A. Stoddard Places--The Three Taverns - The Robbers--Indian Hill
or Promised Land Region - The Steele District--The First Cong'l Parsonape and
Churches - Pearl Street - Bladen's Brook - Smith Street--Joel Chatfield - Skokorat -
Johnson and French-North Street and Rock Rimmon--The Gate House--Town
Center-- Falls Bridge and Vicinity - Mrs. Ann Stephens--Broad Street, Cong'l Church
and Vicinity - Kinneytown Region - Shrub Oak District - Church and West Streets
The Humphreys, Steeles, Canfield, Upeon, and Booths-The Pritchards--Old Mill
and Little River - Oxford Road-The Woosters and Washburns - Rimmon Hill and
the Clarks Old Rimmon Cemetery - Pines Bridge - The dohhnoon--The Bungay
Head --Miles, Canfield and S. Rotsford Homesteads - Botsfords and Marcus Davis -
Davis Corners--Crreat Ilill Region - Old Cong'l or Pres. Church Recollections-
Priest hbner Bmith slid House--The Fanton and Renham House--M. E. Church
and Great Hill Fchool--Rockhouse Hill-The Tomlinsons and Lums--Old Rmitlt
IIomssten:l--'lhe John Iiolhrook Plrtoe-"Tite'e Corners - Gunn and Nettleton
Places-The Peach Orchard and Wilderness - The Old Man
In studying the old homes and landmarks, many proofs are
found, that men come, only to go, as if overwhelmed by the
burdens of life, to be lost and forgotten like the fallen leaves
whirled away by the wind.
Such is the feeling when approaching the Fishing Place of the
Indians, the Naugatuck Falls, often called "The Little Niagara,"
the most remarkable work of nature in the whole valley. A ledge
of rocks extentl across the river forming a natural fall of nearly
twenty feet, making the place a favorite one for the Indians in the
fishing season. A little distance from the Falls on the east side of
the river-, there was a grove of thrift oaks, and here beneath their
PAGE 25 PART I.-Division II.
A HISTORY OF
OLD LANDMARKS, HOMES, AND FAMILIES.
The Fishing Place--Indians--The Humphreys- Dr. R. Mansfield - Henry
Wooster and Dr. A. Stoddard Places--The Three Taverns - The Robbers--Indian Hill
or Promised Land Region - The Steele District--The First Cong'l Parsonape and
Johnson and French-North Street and Rock Rimmon--The Gate House--Town
Center-- Falls Bridge and Vicinity - Mrs. Ann Stephens--Broad Street, Cong'l Church
and Vicinity - Kinneytown Region - Shrub Oak District - Church and West Streets
The Humphreys, Steeles, Canfield, Upeon, and Booths-The Pritchards--Old Mill
and Little River - Oxford Road-The Woosters and Washburns - Rimmon Hill and
the Clarks Old Rimmon Cemetery - Pines Bridge - The dohhnoon--The Bungay
Head --Miles, Canfield and S. Rotsford Homesteads - Botsfords and Marcus Davis -
Davis Corners--Crreat Ilill Region - Old Cong'l or Pres. Church Recollections-
Priest hbner Bmith slid House--The Fanton and Renham House--M. E. Church
and Great Hill Fchool--Rockhouse Hill-The Tomlinsons and Lums--Old Rmitlt
IIomssten:l--'lhe John Iiolhrook Plrtoe-"Tite'e Corners - Gunn and Nettleton
Places-The Peach Orchard and Wilderness - The Old Man
In studying the old homes and landmarks, many proofs are
found, that men come, only to go, as if overwhelmed by the
burdens of life, to be lost and forgotten like the fallen leaves
whirled away by the wind.
Such is the feeling when approaching the Fishing Place of the
Indians, the Naugatuck Falls, often called "The Little Niagara,"
the most remarkable work of nature in the whole valley. A ledge
of rocks extentl across the river forming a natural fall of nearly
twenty feet, making the place a favorite one for the Indians in the
fishing season. A little distance from the Falls on the east side of
the river-, there was a grove of thrift oaks, and here beneath their
shade the petty sachem, Chuse, or Joseph Mauwehu, with a small
company of braves, built their wigwams, getting their living by
hunting and fishing.
The name "Chuse" was probably a part of the name of an
Indian ancestor of Mauwehu, and is said to have been first applied
or given by Gideon Washband, who is said to have lived below the
first brook south of the village.
It was about 1740 when Chuse began his life at the Falls, the
land being given to him by his father, one of the Derby Indians
down the valley. Besides the flat by the river, his land extended
over the hill towards the east, known for many years as the Indian
Hill. The old Indian burying ground was located on the flat back
from the river, the graves being marked by heaps of stone. Some-
time after 1790 this land was ploughed over, by the owner, Nathan
Stiles, thus destroying even the mounds that marked the place of
the dead Indians. When learning of this fact, it is said, that the
Indians grieved and cursed those who did it. About half way up
the north portion of the hill there were indications of still another
Indian burying ground. Chuse had a family of eight or more chili-
ren, two sons and six doughters : one of the sons served in the Rev-
olutionary War at Boston, though he was poisoned on his way to
his native village.
At the time of the coming of Chuse to this vicinity, there were
only two or three white families, but soon after 1740 they began to
settle on both sides of the valley.
At the foot of Indian Hill toward the river, now marked by a
well 12 feet deep, there was a spring of sweet sparkling water,
where Chuse was accustomed to recline, and wish there was
another spring of rum by the side of it, from which he could drink;
then he would be perfectly happy.
Desiring to be a neighbor of the white people, he early moved
to the southwest part of the Indian Hill, on the corner of what is
now South Main and Pearl Streets, known as the Dr. Stoddard
place. After spending about forty years on his reservation, he
returned to the Falls for a time before leaving the vicinity, little
dreaming of the days that would bring the present civilization, when
there would be no fishing, no large game in the forests, and no
Indians; all are gone and forgotten like the fallen leaves.
As the name Chusetown originated from the chief, Chuse, so
the name Humphreysville was given in honor of Gen. David Hum-
phreys who established at the Falls one of the first woolen industries
in the country. It is therefore fitting to recall the stately mansion,
the birthplace of Gen. D. Humphreys.
This fine old homestead was about four miles below the Falls,
on the east side of the river and opposite the old Episcopal ceme-
tery, on Elm St., now in the south part of Ansonia. It is
a large two story house, with a heavy roof, and ell on the
southeast, facing the west.The frame is of oak and very
heavy. The beam across the ceiling of the parlor is 12
or more inches wide; the parlor being nearly 17 feet square.
There are five fire places. The front hall is very simple, without any
architectural beauty, the stairway being enclosed and beneath there
is a small square open closet. Formerly the house was painted rcd.
In front there are large elm trees, indicating that the place must
have been very attractive in its better days. The architectural
plans are worthy of study. This was the home of the Rev. Daniel
Humphreys, who was ordained to preach in Derby, 1733, i" the
Congregational Church. After serving the people 54 years, he died
on the Sabbath, July 29. His wife also died on the Sabbath, five
weeks before him. Reference is made to the house in 1737, though
it may have been standing many years previous. It is known by
the later generations as the Capt. Vose place. The preacher mar-
ried Sarah, Mrs. John Bowers, the daughter of Captain John Riggs,
whose ancestors aided the regicides in their home in 1660. The
marriage took place in 1739 and for 48 years she was known as
She was elegant in manners, refned, and became celebrated
for her knowledge of local history. Their distinguished son was
born July ro, 1752, showing in his early years a love for books. At
the age of 15 he entered Yale College where he became noted for
his poetical gifts and graduated with honors. On entering the army
in 1778, he took the rank of Captain, to be soon promoted to be aid
to General Putnam; he was promoted again shortly after by the
recommendation of Gen. William Hull, one of his neighbors, to
become aid-ae-camp to Gen. Washington. Remaining with Wash-
ington through the war, he was honored by being appointed to
receive the colors surrendered by Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown,
October 19, 1781, and afterward was granted the high honor of
taking these colors to Congress and presenting them in the name
of the Commander-in-Chief. General Humphreys spent much time
with Washington at Mount Vernon at the close of the war.
In 1790 he was appointed minister to Portugal; and in 1797 he
went as minister to Spain, remaining until 1802, when he returned
with a hundred merino sheep, the first imported into this country.
Arriving with his precious cargo, these sheep were pastured in the
field near the old homestead and doubtless feasted in the clover
above their eyes. Precious they were, for the value was from a
few hundred dollars up to $3,000. - for a single ram or sheep. At
once Gen. Humphreys began his woolen industry at the Falls, to
be related elsewhere.
As one now looks upon that old homestead, neglected, beaten
by the storms of many decades, occupied by the transient and the
foreigner, there is a feeling of sadness over the changes coming to
life and the places so sacred to memory and association. We have
lingered upon the name and work of Gen. Humphreys because in
honor of him, the place was named Humphreysville. A more com-
plete history belongs to the limits of L)erby, but he conducted his
business here until the time of his death in 1818. His birthplace
should be known and visited by all interested in the history of our
About a half mile north of the Humphreys' place on Jewett
St., there stands another ancient dwelling of two stories in front
and one on the back, on the west side of the road as one descends
the hill. This was the home of Dr. Mansfield, the first pastor of
Trinity church. This dwelling and land was transferred to the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in 1747, which map have
been the date of building. From this time up to the Declaration
Of Independence, Dr. Manstield received 40 pounds sterling from the
S. P. G., England, to aid him in his work, besides Ribles and
A little time since there stood a massive elm tree in front of
this ancient dwelling, overshadowing it with its wide spreading
branches, adding both beauty and dignity to the old manse of more
than one hundred and fifty years
standing. But like many other
homesteads, in the period of
decline and decay, this is given up
to obscure and less worthy occupants.
In wandering about the old homes, or roaming through de-
serted rooms of the vine clad dwellings of earlier days, - some
of which are now falling into decay and are overshadowed by agetl
and neglected trees, or partly hidden by the ancient lilacs,--one
may recall the period reaching back over two centuries. and the
people living in them through many vicissitudes and glories.
Sharing the experience of the past
awakens a new thought, which is so well expressed by I. P. Warren.
"Ah, it is sad to see those household shrines, consecrated by
the joys, the tears, the loves, the aspirations, of successive gener-
ations, falling into decay, and soon, like those who dwelt there, to
be known no more forever."
Besides a new thought, there is also awakened a new feeling,
in visiting some of the old homes with their unwritten histories; and
this feeling finds expression in many ways, through the sensitive
spirit and strong imagination, like that of Thackeray's, concernin~-
many of the ancient dwellings. This is the feeling; some homes,
though silent and deserted by man, they are still inhabitetl, for
about them linger spirits, mysteries, some invisible presence,
impressing the visitor with their existence, though representing
events, deeds, and actors of the distant past. And similar will be
the thought and feeling of any one who becomes interested in the
The Henry Wooster place is located on the east side of the
river, in Seymour, about a mile below the falls and is the finest of
our ancient mansions. The Woosters ownetl land in this region
previous to 1694, when a tract belonging to Edward Wooster was
divided among four of his sons. They may have settled here more
than zoo years ago, and the residence is supposed to have been
built as early as 1700. Before this date the name of Henry Woos-
ter appears in the records, and whenever there was difficulty with
the Indians, he was one to be chosen to confer with them to settle
This representative of that famous family selected a beautiful
place for his homestead to be handed down to the five Henrys who
followed him in as many g-enerations.
On the southwest corner of his grounds was a little brook,
known through these years as the Henry Wooster brook, and the
old ford-road crosses the present highway at the bridge, clearly to
be seen today. The place is now located on the south corner of the
main road and one extending east, the house facing the west.
Around this corner is a row of fine elms and maples fifteen in num-
ber, contributing much to the beauty of the place. Just within the
'Ow of trees there is a terrace wall made of smooth stones, about
four and a half feet high, giving the grounds the appearance of ex-
A large iron gate guards the entrance of the roadway on the
north side, and on the west another small iron gate and steps of
stone lead to the front door. On either side rise noble poplars,
and scattered about are a large variety of trees including thorn,
spruce, hemlock, black walnut and maples, all of which give a
charm and beauty, most inviting.
Standing within these spacious bounds is the house itself, two
stories, covering a space nearly 40 feet square, including the lean-to,
and on the southeast corner is an ell. The windows are small,
having from twelve to twentyfour lights according to the location.
The front door with the side windows were set back into the
hallway two and a half feet. The house is lined with two inch
plank and the lath of split boards. The material used for frame-
work, floors, and covering was of oak, now seasoned through the
centuries. As to -the rooms they are small, about eight feet in
height; the hallways large in proportion. Two chimneys one of
which is eight feet on one side, afford the luxury of eight fire
places. After wandering through the labyrinth of rooms, one is
surprised to find sixteen rooms besides the many closets and halls.
In the attic there are four rooms, and above these is the upper-attic
entered by a narrow stairway.
Truly-this house was built to endure, for the rafters are of
hewn oak 5 by 6 inches, and 39 inches apart.
Imagination would suggest many a secret corner beneath the
roof and stairways. Many a choice relic has been found in secluded
corners, and the attic of the kitchen recently plastered up, may
conceal relies, to be discovered by another generation.
There is much to interest in the surroundings, as in the little
burial lot on the rising knell northeast of the house, beneath thick
overhanging trees, and evergreens that suggest teachings of the life
that never dies. Here is the little iron fence about the monument
;. raised in memory of Capt. Henry Wooster, who died Nov. 18, I842;
on the other side were the names of the five children; Harriet,
Henry, Olive, Cecilia, and Leslie B. This last Henry was lost at
sea, being with Capt. Leslie Bryson, when he fell overboard, and
before he could be rescued a large albatross flew down, lighting
apon his head, and Henry was seen no more.
The widow of Capt. Henry married Capt. Daniel Moss, and
since that time the place has been known far and near as the Moss
place by the large circle of distinguished friends. Capt. Moss went
to Youngstown, N. Y., and died there. The last occupant of the
Wooster family was Harriet, who died Feb., 1891, and was the
only one among the children buried in the family lot on the place.
Capt. Henry was a man of affairs, being engaged in trade
between New Haven and the West Indies. His wife was Harriet,
daughter of Joseph Riggs of Oxford and Lydia Alien.
A little east of the burial lot, there is a cliff of rocks 15 feet in
height, crowned by a thrifty oak, and over the smooth rocks there
grows a luxuriant trumpet vine; and in the crevices the cactus
grows, the plants being three feet in length. At the foot of this
ledge is the garden, and meadow of twenty acres.
Towards the brook there stands an old stone building with iron
bars at the narrow windows in the ends, once used as a blacksmith
shop, the eaves scarcely five feet from the ground. All about are
trees and orchards, with a hundred fruit trees, completing the circle
and surroundings, showing neglect and approaching ruin. On the
terrace overlooking the brook south of the house is the ruin of a
cellar wall, what is left of an old fashioned ice-house, near a clump
of evergreens, and close at hand is a little building, once used as a
hot house. Across the brook is the cranberry meadow and the
little Spring-water lake, which furnished ice for Mr. Emery for the
towns people. The present owner of this estate of 150 acres is
Mr. S. G. Warrin, of New Jersey, who is to repair, improve and
occupy for a summer residence, 1901.
Well it is, for this place is beautifnl in situation and surround-
ings, once the pride of the valley and community, high above the
river, overlooking the valley and broken hills in their natural beauty.
Now one would hardly know this fine old family mansion of the
olden time, and of the style of near two centuries ago, large and
roomy, because of the improvements made by S. G. \Narrin. A
two story addition has been built on the north end, a spacious ver-
anda ten feet wide has been added along the whole front and south
sides, new doors and windows cased with cypress, and the fire-
places with antique oak. The house has been piped for running
water from the brook. The small pond will be stocked with fish,
and supplied with boats.
A little distance from the bridge over the Henry Wooster
brook, up the old ford road, there can be seen on the crown of the
hill the ruin of an old cellar, where was the home of a family by
the name of Bryson, three generations, Maxwell, Leslie and Leslie
J. Capt. Leslie of this family followed the sea. Mr. John Bassett
tells the story of this seaman, transporting a company of China-
men. Moved by some philanthropic spirit or desire to civilize these
Orientals, he cut off their queues. Not counting what might fol-
low, he was surprised and overtaken by the spirit of revenge, which
appeared in mutiny, to meet with the loss of life. Thus Bryson
was killed, and the Chinamen were heathen still.
Because of Derby being the port of entry, nearly half a cen-
tury before New Haven and Bridgeport were developed, there were
many sea captains and seamen who brought wealth to many homes
in this vicinity. For many miles around the trade centered at
Only a few rods from the Henry Wooster place across the
road to the north, there stood near the sharp point of rocks the
home of the noted Dr. Abiram Stoddard, who came to town in
1804 as the second local physician. At first he lived on the west
side of the river near the Episcopal church, but in this house he
spent his last days. This old house was built in 1774 by Levi
It was two stories, the second story overhanging a few inches
facing the east. It had two chimneys, the north one being very
large. The timbers were large and squared with a broadaxe; the
nails were hand made. The hall extended through the house east
and west, containing two stairways meeting on the same landing.
There were four good sized rooms on the first floor, with the ad-
ditional summer rooms on the west side, a kitchen, pantry, milk-
room, another room with a set-kettle and well.
The large front door was on the east side, the smaller one on
the south, which was the one mostly used.
This house was burned in Oct., 1894, revealing to the public
for the first time the sub-cellar I2xI5 ft., and 7 ft. deep. Many
came to see the ruins and the sub-cellar which was used for house-
hold purposes, there being nothing superior for a cooler. If this
had been connected with a public house, one might think of it being
used as a hiding place, and a station of the "underground railway"
when the fugitive slaves fled to the north. It may be stated here
that runaway slaves were aided in this valley by the good people in
sympathy with them.
Levi Tomlinson lived in this house as early us 1789 and became
one of the first deacons of the Congregational church. He sold
the house and farm to Dr. Stoddard who had a common rail fence
in front of it. The more recent owners were Harvey Hotchkiss
1857, Judge S. L. Bronson 1872 and L. G. Weaver the present
owner since 1886.
The location is one of remarkable beauty situated on the high
bluff overlooking the river and valley; the river winding in curves
of beauty fringed by the rich growth of timber; the valley made
narrow by the bluff on the east, and on the west guarded by the
sharp rugged Castle Rock that rises more than 340 ft. in height
standing like a sentinel watching over the march of progress up
this narrow valley, the gateway to the "City of Brass," a way of
more consequence than the entrance to the "Garden of the Gods."
If this aged doctor lovetl the beant? of nature, there was no
better place to sttldy the changing shadows of the declining day,
the frescoes of the skies, the pictures of rocks and hills, at the same
time listening for the faint music of the Falls.
Dr. Stoddard was a representative to the General Assembly in
1814, besides holding offices of public trust in Derby for many
years. His practice was extensive and lucrative.
His family has been noted for the many names that have won
distinction in the legal ptofession.
Dr. Stoddard was born in Watertown, January 27, 1777, came
to this place in 1804 and died Dec. 23, 1855, aged 79 years.
Full'of eccentricities, Dr. Stoddard once was called to see a
hysterical woman in Watertown, and ordered a jacket of raccoon
skins to be made for the woman to wear and in the meantime to
amuse her with the music of the fiddle,--no medicine. After two
weeks the jacket became very unpleasant, and the disconsolate hus-
band sent his boy to report. Meeting the doctor he said, "Mother
is no better," "Did you make the jacket " "Yes." "Has she worn
it.," "Yes." "And is no better!" "None." "Did you cut the tails
off !" "Yes." "There it is; I didn't tell you to do that; the whole
curative virtue was in the tails."
About a quarter of a mile below the Falls on the east side of
the river there are three houses of historical interest on the borders
of Indian Hill, overlooking the valley westward. This was the
center. As already said the Indian Chuse came from the Falls to
be neighbor to the white people soon after 1740, building his home
in the fork of the roads, known as the Dr. Thos. Stoddard place. His
white neighbor must have lived across the road where Mr. M. R.
Castle now lives, the house standing near the year 1740· Some
years after Chuse left, Mr. Nathan Stiles had business at the Falls,
and built his spacious house in 1795 on the spot where Chuse had
so long lived. He married Phebe, the daughter of Capt. Ebenezer
Dayton. He died in 1804 The Methodists had their meetings in
this house as they also did in the Dayton house across the road to
the south. In 1812 Phebe Stiles bought another portion of Indian
Hill, and because of her holding it, the name of the hill was changed.
The story is this: Newcomers desired to buy land of "Phebe," as
she was called, and received a promise. These promises to sell
land were so many times repeated, without selling, that the name
"Promised Land" was given to the hill propert.y,-a name which it
In the course of years, Dr. Thomas Stoddard received the
Stiles homestead as a gift from his father, to enjoy many years of
happy life, his home being a gathering place for the social people.
The Stiles-Stoddard house was large and square
with a lean-to and ell on the north. Standing in the fork
of the roads, it faced the south, being overshadowed
by large handsome elm trees. Its location was above the
road, the spacious grounds on the west side being sup-
ported by a terrace wall crowned with a low fence.
At the front door, there was
a square porch with side seats, the door itself having a large brass
knocker. Besides the rooms in the attic, there was an upper attic
with a small window. Close by the chimney there was a little
room used for a smoke-house for hams, etc. There were several
fireplaces, and the home was one of comfort amid beautiful sur-
roundings. The west upper room was used for a ball room during
its tavern days. But now the old brass knocker is gone to be heard
no more; the old look is swept away; the name is also changed.
The present owner, C. H. Lounsbury, raised and repaired the
house is 1898 making it suitable for two families.
This house and the other two referred to form a triangle, each
standing on the opposite side of the three roads that meet at this
point. These houses have an intehsting history because of the
exciting incident which occurred in the time of the Revolution dur-
ing March 1780. Probably this house, known as the Dayton tavern,
and lateras the William Hull place, was standing before the war,
located on the east side of the highway facing the west. In 1806
Gen Humphreys had rooms here during the time of building the
woolen mills at the Falls. When used as a tavern, Mrs. Dayton
had a noted reputation for her skill in mixing drinks to the satisfac-
tion of the "old appetites. "
The house was large having two stories, with an ell on the east
side. The two great chimneys are very noticeable. The general
surroundings together with the great weeping willow at the south
corner gave the place a gloomy appearance. So are some of the
rooms, one of which is cut diagonal, destroying all natural proper-
tions. Even the neglect is of the nature of exclusiveness, and the
once white is becoming brown.
The third house standing on the west side of the main road on
the high bluff above the river had a fine location, occupied since
about 1740. Ab'aham Pierson sold this land south of the Falls on
the east side of the river to Joseph Johnson and his wife Elizabeth,
who again sold it to Turel Whittemore Dec. 4, 1778. The first
name associated with this place is E. Turel Whittemore, who kept
tavern for many years, probably the principal tavern for the region.
The Turel Whittemore house was then a low one story house,
very much like the red house directly east, next to L. T. Wooster's.
In 1867 Mr. Castle made it into a two story house, taking the stone
from the old chimnc? to make the terrace wall in front, caused by the
lowering of the road. The barroom where the robbery was planned
was on the northwest corner.
Other names associated with the place in later years are
Castle, Roth and Lees, who kept the house in 1822 and John H.
Deforest had rooms here while building his house opposite the
railroad station, later the home of Kaymond French.
The Whittemore tavern was the place where the great robbery
was planned by a British officer in March, 1780.
At that time two strangers came to remain over night, and
soon they were in conversation with a company of young men who
frequented the place during the long winter evenings. The name
of one stranger was Alexander Graham, who had a commission from
Gen. Howe to enlist soldiers for the British army. He was the
:leader in the robbery of the house of Capt. Ebenezer Dayton, a
b;rave American patriot who had carried on privateering against the
.enemy on Long Island Sound. At this time Dayton lived in Beth-
any six miles away from the tavern mentioned. He had taken
quarters in Bethany to escape just such a robbery as was then
!; being planned. Capt. L)ayton belonged so a good family in Brook-
haven, L. I., where he carried on the mercantile business. Because
of his zeal for the patriot cause, on one occasion in East Hampton,
L. I., he was mobbed and carried out of town, at which time he was
ill and gave the measles to nearly a hundred people some of whom
'died. Capt. Dayton fled with his family, money and goods to
Bethany. Graham succeeded in snaring several young men into
,the plan to rob the captain, on the ground that it would be paying
him in his own coin; he robbed the British, and the British officer
Graham was going to return the compliment.
But it was a sad beginning for all concerned as will be seen.
The young men had relatives in Gunntown, a district west of Naug-
atuck, who were also drawn into the scheme, making a company
of about eight.
On a bright moonlight night they went to Bethany, and as it
happened, Capt. Darton was in Boston, and other occupants of the
house had moved out the day before, leaving only Mrs. Dayton, the
children and servants, which made the task more simple and free
from bloodshed. After ransacking the house, they carried off lb450
in gold and silver, and large bundles of silk goods.
Making all secure, and leaving the family and servants bound,
they hastened away to their acquaintances in Gunntown, meeting
on the way a young man about 16 years of age who had been home
with a young lady, the night before, though the hour of meeting
was 3 o'clock in the morning. This was Chauncey Judd, who knew
This meeting was another sad incident in the affair, and
Graham sought several times to kill the innocent youth, that he
might not betray them. But his friends each time succeeded in
deferring the deed. After hiding, undergoing many vicissitudes and.
having many narrow escapes from the pursuing officers and vigilance
committee, they hid in a barn in the meadow opposite the present
Staples Washburn place, about a mile and a half from town, on the
Oxford road, to wait for the passing of a severe snow storm. Almost
famishing they failed to get provisions at Capt. John Wooster's,
then keeping a large tavern where now lives Mr. David Riggs, they
started through the deep snow in the night over Great Hill with
the view to go to Derby, and from thence escaped in a boat to
Long Island, Capt Bradford Steele pursued on horseback, but
the robbers avoided the road and escaped in a whale boat a little in
advance of them.
Hoping- to overtake them before they got into the Sound, the!
followed them, but failed in this on account of the width of the river-
near its mouth at Stratford. However, an old sea captain went
into the belfry of the church in Stratford and watched their course to
Brookhaven, where lived a noted tory. This being ascertained, a party
of thirty patriots gathered at Derby in two whaleboats, and being
well armed rowed down the river and across the Sound, captured
all the robbers but one, all being found in deep sleep. Graham
knew he would have no mercy. Being handed over to the army
after returning to Derby, he was tried, found guilty of treason, hav-
ing deserted the American cause, and was executed in Morristown.
Chauncey Judd, broken down and exhausted, was found in the
company with the robbers, and was tenderly cared for by his
brother. The other young men and their helpers were yet to suffer.
Two were allowed to turn state's evidence ; the others suffered
fines, or imprisonment, or both. Three were sentenced to four
years' imprisonment in the Newgate state prison. Those persons
who aided them also were fined. Besides, Capt. I)ayton received
large sums for damages amounting to several thousand pounds.
Chauncey Judd received $4,000 for injuries, his hands being frozen
and the young man made a cripple for life. However, when the
war was over,, there was some modification of the court's decision.
Some time after this incident, Capt. Dayton came to Seymour,
and occupied the house opposite where the plot was made to rob
him, and there he kept tavern for some years ; in the meantime
planned and made the Dug Road to Naugatuck along the river,
that his house might have the benefit of the extra travel.
This cluster of historic houses is at the extreme southwest of
On leaving the Dayton Tavern or William Hull place, the tirst
house east is the old Sheldon Tucker homestead of long standing.
Being painted dark red, the ancient look is well preserved. Being
a low lying one story house with long back roof, and, together with
the ell on the southwest corner, it makes a fine illustration of that
type of a house. Long ago the cellar contained a sub-cellar.
Great are the contrasts between the ancient and the modern,
between the comforts of the past and those of the present, the po-
Sessions of long ago and those now at hand, as are suggested by
this little red house, under the shadow of the fine residence, the
home of L. T. Wooster,
Across the road towards the corner of Maple and Pearl streets,
there stands the little Kinney house, which was once the home of
Mrs. Lydia Kinney, who lived there during years previous and fol-
lowing 1800. From her estate, in 1802, she sold land sufficient to
make the road from the blacksmith shop direct to the Falls bridge.
During the time of her living alone in this house, she raised silk
worms and spun and wove silk enough for a dress for herself. One
of her young friends, now Mrs. E. A. Lum, often went there to see
the silk worms feed upon the mulberry leaves, and to see and hear
her wondsrful parrot. The mulberry trees grew eastward from her
home. Lydia was the daughter of Abram Ronnay and the wife of
Medad Kinney, (son of Ebenezer I. d. 17941 aged 35.) Mrs.
Lydia Kinney was the grandmother of Mr. Medad Tucker, also of
Miss Ann Tucker, who was Mr. Isaac Davis' first wife.
Leaving the little house known as the Kinney place, we come
to the four corners, the crossing of Pearl and Maple streets. Here
was a store on the south-east corner, built in rSzo, and occupied by
Mr. Sanford, "Pitchfork Sanford." so calletl for killing a man many
3.ears I,efore with a pitchfork, when he was a \,lacksmith on the
Woodbridge road. He was tried by the court,
branded and was to wear a cord about his neck the
rest of his life.
On the opposite corner stood the tavern
built by Seba ICioulthrop in 1812, continuing the
business about twenty years, followed by David
B. Clark, who was tavernkeeper as late as 1846.
It was a noted stopping place between New Ha-
ven and the towns north, the travel being over the
Oxford turnpike. In the ball-room the Methodists
held services. This old tavern was last occupied
by a Mr. Harrison, and was moved in 38;3 to the
land north of Frank Beecher's house, leaving the old
cellar still surronnded with maples.
The special object of interest on the cross roads
is the blacksmith shop, belonging to Edwin or Ed-
mund Page in 1798. It stands in the highway close
to the roads and formerly was built on proprietors'
land, or undivided land. In 1798, to avoid disputes
about the location, the north side was taken out
and replaced by a stone wall making the old shop look quite
ancient. I)uring the late years the music of the hammers has been
irregular, but formerly it was a busy place, where the making of
augers was carried on early in the century by Waiter French, and,
perhaps for half a century previous, the blacksmith may have had
his shop here. The road from the shop to the Falls bridge was
laid out in ISoZ, and the turnpike to New Haven in I798.
Indian Hill or Promised Land, rises to the height of 220 feet,
and there were no dwellings on it until long after the beginning of
the present century. The first house was built by Daniel Banks
Johnson for John Corey who worked in the cotton mill, the house
still standing just north of the home of A. B. Dunham, on Wash-
ington Ave. William Losee lived here for many years.
The second house built was the home of the late'Geo. Lester, on
the bank just beyond the station. This was built by Isaac and
William Losee in 1841, a pleasant little one story house looking
west across the valley and the Falls, and upon the busy village
where once the Indian had his wigwam.
The Roman Catholic, St. Augustine's church, is located on
Washington avenue on the east side of the valley. The first church
was built in 1856. Under the leadership of the popular pastor,
Rev. R. C. Gragan, a new church was built to meet the growing
needs in 1888-9, with a seating capacity of about 600. The church
is now presided over by the Rev. M. F. Rigney.
After leaving the west side of the river about 18oo, Deacon
Bradford Steele, Jr., built a house more than a mile southeast of
the Falls, on the New Haven turnpike, at the corners where now the
Johns live. This house was small, one story, and now is ancient
looking. Considerable of the interior was finished in wood. Its
location was well chosen, facing the east, a wide tract of land slop-
ing westward, making a fine farm. Deacon Bradford was a useful
man, and raised a large family. His daughter married a Holcomb
who built the large house adjoining the old one, facing the north.
The more recent owners were Davis and Johns. In the triangle of
the roads there is room for a fine park.
This section might have been called Steele district because of
families by that name. Edmund, son of Dea. Bradford, who married
in 1809, built the house beyond the old blacksmith shop, at the
west end of Union St., on the barik sustained by stone wall and ter-
race, the entrance to the cellar being an underground tunnel from
the street. The house is medium size, a story and a half, with ad-
dition on south corner. A flight of steps lead to the walk and front
door. The well is in the narrow space in front of the house. With
the walls this place is most substantial in appearance as if to stand
another century. John Burton Steele followed his father in living
here until he built the place south known now as the Steele farm.
Henry Wyant occupies the house described. Several other Steele
families were within half a mile south, but now they are all gone.
The little red house, known as the Squire's place was one, the
Steele farm house another, now owned by Charles French.
The Bell schoolhouse was located in what was early known
as the Chusetown district. It was built about 1814, the first stove
was used in 1820. The two story building was cut down to one
story in 1840. Many are the children who have graduated from
this school to make their mark in the world, having taken a useful
place among their fellow men. To them the Bell school is among
the best remembered landmarks.
The next place of interest is the First Congregational parson-
age built in 1789 by Rev. Benjamin Beach, who occupied the
house in March, 1790, coming from North Haven.
The parsonage stands on the corner of Pearl and Elm streets,
the land being given to Rev. Beach by Isaac Johnson, who also
later gave the land where stood the church. At frrst the house was
one story, facing the north, having the appearance of comfort. It
was well built and somewhat ornamented as is still to be seen about
the front door. About 1830 the house was built over and made a
two story house and the piazza was added later, about 1895.
Rev. Beach served the little church faithfully for 15 years,
after which he moved to Milton.
The first parson of Seymour was the great grandfather of the
respected citizens in town today bearing the name Beach.
Besides being a preacher, Rev. Beach was a maker of brooms,
and it was his custom to give a new broom to every couple who
were married by him. The church, a one story building, was built
in 1791. It faced the west ; had no spire, and was never painted.
As was the custom of the times, town meetings were held here, and
other public gatherings. In 1818 it was made into a two story
building. The Methodist beginnings date back to 1797 when the
first class was formed, holding meetings in houses of members and
friends, There were nine members. The first members of the
Methodist church were Jesse Johnson, Isaac Baldwin, Esther
Baldwin, Sarah Baldwin, and Eunice Baldwin. Four other comers
were soon added, George Clark, Lucy Hitchcock, Silas Johnson,
and Olive Johnson.
The first church was organized and trustees elected in 1817,
and the Congregational church was bought on September 22, 1818.
The church was then opened for their services. The building was
cold and unadorned. In 1826-7 George Kirtland organized a
Sunday school. InJan. 18, 1848, the new church was dedicated
by Bishop James, being of Gothic design. This was a pleas-
ant church 40x60 feet in a fine location. But with the growing
industries and town, ambitions also grew, and a new church was
built 1891-2, the total cost being $18,000. The old part of the
church is used for Sunday school and social meetings. The new
part will seat about 4"· It has ;1 sloping floor, two large windows,
and steel ceiling. The membership is about two hundred. L. T.
Wooster is one of the leading members. Rev. E. C. Tullar is the
present pastor. The parsonage is close by, built in 1875
The Dea. E. A. Lum house near the Beach parsonage, is a
large, square two-story dwelling, painted white and facing the
south. The front door wears an old iron knocker, the hall is small
with winding stairs, the rooms large and pleasant, with ornamental
woodwork. At the east end also there is a hall and a little porch.
It is stately in appearance, high and looks as if it had been a tavern.
The architecture represents that of more than a century ago or that
of the Revolutionary period. The west part of the second story
was used as a ball room, but no balls have been given in recent
years. The chimney is large and several fireplaces add charm to
the rooms, some being in use at present. This was the home of
Mrs. E. A. Lum, the daughter of Jeremiah Durand, who lived here
many years. In the previous century the house was occupied by
Hezekiah Johnson, who was married Dec. it, 1784, and if he occu-
pied the house at that time, it is probably that the date 1784 is
about the time that the house was built.
Mr. and Mrs. Lum with their daughter Lizzie make their home
a center for the many social people who gather here. Dea. Lum
is the senior deacon of the Congregational church, and has in prev-
ious years held many positions of trust.
One of the old French homesteads is located nearly opposite
the White place on the west side of the road, a story and a half
house, said to have been built and occupied by Charles French,
who was married Feb. 23, 1784· For a time this was the home
of Raymond French. This house is still owned by the French
The White home is but a little distance toward Bladen's brook
beneath the shadow of the great oak, a story and a half, with
homelike surroundings. Fred Peck is the present occupant. This
house was built by Isaac White in 1831 The old John White
homestead stood a little north of the present house, the location
being indicated by a well. John'Clihite was a soldier in the Revo-
lution. The old house was small. Daniel and Isaac were sons of
Across the meadow directly east is one of the old Botsford
homes, made conspicuous by its pleasant outlook and solitude, as
well as the large spruce tree overshdowing it. This was the home
of Samuel Botsford. The family of Charles Bay has lived here in
recent years. At one time Watson, the stage man, lived here.
The old M. E. parsonage is located on the corner of Grand and
Pearl streets. This is mentioned as the first local M. E. parsonage.
In 1831 George Kirtland paid $110.00 for this land and gave it to
the Methodist church for a parsonage lot, the house itself being
built the next year, 1832. The present owner is Mr. Thomas A.
The old Johnson homestead is located at the first house north
of the Arethusa Spring Water Co., where Samuel Hawkins now
lives. The old house was built by Capt. Ebenezer Johnson, during
the second century past. It was a large house of the old style,
facing the west, two stories in front, with a long roof in the rear.
It was a red house and before its removal, looked very old, having
a tumbled down appearance. Some of the children were afraid to
pass it becaused they believed it was haunted. The David Johnson
place, between this and the rubber milli was formerly a part of the
old Capt. E. Johnson homestead.
The first house on the right going east, on Smith street, was
erected by Capt. Julius Bassett 1847. The story and a half house
next to the paper mill pond was the home of Timothy Hitchcock.
This appears to be the oldest house in the street. The next across
the road eastward was the house of Jared Bassett, built about 1832.
The Crowther house, the last on north side of the street, was
built by Capt. Wilbur W. Smith in 1849. The residence of Rev.
Sylvester Smith, father of Capt. W. W., was located on the right
at the east end of Smith street. This house was built by Bennet
Hitchcock in 1838, and was bought by Sylvester Smith in 1840.
This being a hilly country, with three rivers to make it more
so,--Little River from the northwest and Bladens Brook from the
east, flowing into the Naugatuck river above the Falls, it was nat-
ural for the people to build their houses at the cross roads or oppo-
site, making two or three in the vicinity. And if there were about
twenty houses in 1740 in the vicinity of the Falls, there were eight
Bladens Brook was one of these favored localities, due in part
to the water power. The Beach paper mill marks the location of
one of the first fulling mills in the region. In 1799 Titus Beach
bought the land and built a fulling mill.
Johnson, French, and Chatfield were among the tirst to settle
along Bladens Brook and north on Skokorat. The homestead of
the Chatfields was on the south side of this brook, more than a mile
eastward from the Falls, and one-fourth of a mile from the Milford,
or Woodbridge line. The land was purchased fr'om the proprietors
of the town of I)erbr March 24, 1762, by F,lnathan Chatfieltl and
Hannah his wife. He built a saw mill and a corn mill
very soon after the purchase. From Elnathan it passed to
his oldest son, Joel Chatfield, 1778, who built a much
larger mill on the west side, two stories in height, the first
mill being only one story and ahalf. Therewas a bridge
from the flume leading to the second floor of the first
mill, and two steps enabling
one to pass to the second floor of the new mill. In the
new mill there was machinery for grinding wheat and rye for flour.
The stones were from France, and were among the earliest import-
ed into this country. In 1782 he built the double house now stand-
ing and married Ruth Stoddard of Woodbury, Conn., the next
year. Among their seven children were Leman who lived on the
old homestead, andJoel R. who lived on the Skokorat road to be
mentioned later, and lived to be go years of age.
The old Chatfield house was large and roomy, with a two story
ell on the northeast corner, facing the south and highway. Its ap-
pearance is very old looking, especially when shaded by a large
spruce tree. Mrs. Chatfield was a progressive woman, who wanted
something better than pewter or heavy yellow dishes, so she made
an engagement with a sea-captain to get her a set of genuine china-
ware direct from China, paying for the same in advance with the
product of the farm. After many months the coveted crockery
came, to her satisfaction. Though doing good service for many
years there are now but two or three pieces remaining, being in the
possession of Miss Mary Chattield.
The original tract of land, or the first purchase made by
Elnathan Chatfield, contained four and one half acres, located be-
tween the brook and highway, beginning one eighth of a mile from
the Milford or Woodbridge line.
The old mill stood north of the house, but nothing now remains
except the stone foundation and the embankments of the canals.
After grinding was discontinued, the next industry was the making
of plow beams and handles. The handles were turned, steamed
and bent, and shipped to New York city. This industry was con-
ducted by Jason and Burrett Skeeles until 1832· The next indus-
try was that of clock making conducted by Burrett Hitchcock until
1836. The next was the making of the wooden heads for white-
kash brushes, a business conducted by Rufus Hine 1837, which was
the last work done in the old mill.
Skokorat--where is Skokorat ? It is the large, broad hill 420 feet
high, north of Bladens Brook. The Indian name was Scucurra, or
Snake Hill. A number of fine farms are now on this hill, it being
the locality first occupied by the pioneers.
This hill slopes gradually southward, and near the foot where
now Howard Chatfield lives, there came one of the first settlers,
Benajah Johnson, in 1728, who was married to widow Sarah (Brew-
ster) Hawkins. Oct. 10, of the same year. He has been mentioned
in history as building the first house in Seymour, but there was a
Mr. Riggs near Pinesbridge, beside the Henry Wooster place, al-
ready mentioned and Miles in 1724 On the Bungay road. In 1750
Johnson built another house just north of the present Chatfield
house, and directly opposite William Gilyard, which was torn down
before 1880. Benajah was the first of the many Johnsons of this
region,they having come from the prominent familiesinlower
Derby. Stiles Johnson, so prominent in the Methodist church,
lived here about one hundred years later. Isaac Johnson had for
sons, Jesse and Stiles Ist, the latter had a son Stiles who lived on
the old homestead on Skokorat and was a leading Methodist.
For situation scarcely a better one could be found, and here
the lonely couple lived with only a path leading out of the wilder-
ness to the civilization a few miles down the Naugatuck river. For
12 years they were without neighbors, until 1740 "hen Israel
French secured land and built a house where now stands the home
of William Gilyard, across the path west of B. Johnson. Israel
French married Sarah Loveland September Il, 1739 Portions of
this first house of Israel French were doubtless used in the present
dwelling of Mr. Gilyard,--the Gilyarrl family coming from England
The outlook over the country from this place is beautiful and
charming. The land is productive. The moss covered orchards,
further up the hill, with age resting upon them, bear witness to the
past generations, that have gathered many harvests. To the pres-
ent generation there is some wonder ;Is to what use these great
orchards served; the answer is given by the old brandy-mill that
belongetl to many of the old estates generations ago, and was one
of the thriving New England industries, but very few of these mills
remain to the present day. During or at the close of the civil war,
legal restrictions were placed upon all cider Brandy mills.
Near one of these old moss covered orchards in Skokorat there
stands another old house of two stories facing the west with the
overhanging upper story. This house stands back from the road,
having a number of large maple trees in front. It is shingled on
the sides and very brown with age. As one approaches in dusk of
the evening, one might think the grove a good place for the witches
This house was built by Col. Daniel Holbrook for his son DanieI
who was married 178-. For many years it was the home of Joel
R. Chatfeld, until his death, having lived to be very aged, 90 years.
died Feb. 4, 1894. The interior arrangement of rooms shows the
lack of skill and plan, due in part to the great chimney, as did
many of the oldest homes, yet the common room was convenient,
and there were comforts in those days amid great trials.
Other old houses on Skokorat have been replaced by modern
houses, thus removing many of the ancient land marks, if not the
ancient bounds. The distance from the Falls is about a mile and
A tradition is sometimes referred to concerning a thoughtful
youth who longed to get away from Scucurra, or Skokorat, because
lit was such a lonesome place, and if he should die, he did not want
to be buried there, because he feared when the trumpet was sounded
for the resurrection, it could not be heard as far away as Scucurra,
and he would be left behind.
From Bladens brook the road runs north, called North street,
and nearly opposite the west end of Gilyard street, there was for-
merly an bid house belonging to the French family. One of the
occupants was Israel French, who built the house on the old foun-
dation, now the home of the Howis family. From the location,
this old homestead appears to have been a part of the estate of the
first Israel French who settled on the west side of the Skokorat road.
Still further north on the same street, on the corner of Nichols
street, there is another of the Johnson homesteads. In recent
years the place is known as that of the Ashbel Storrs place. Two
generations before it belonged to Capt. Josiah Merrick;still earlier
it was probably built by Benajah, or Isaac Johnson, a large old
style house with two stories in front and one in the rear, ver)-
similar to the Tomlinson house on Rockhouse Hill and also to the
Samuel Botsford house on the ESnngay road. This was the home
of Isaac Johnson, who first owned the land upon which was built
the Congregational parsonage and where now the Methodist church
stands. In later years Isaac Johnson became a Methodist.
Capt. Josiah Merrick came to Seymour from New Haven about
1925-30, and in 1838 tore down the old house and used many of the
timbers in constructing the new house, still standing beneath the
peaceful shade of the maples. During the destruction of the old
house some shackles were found with which the Rev. Jesse John-
son, son of Isaac, was confined during periods of insanity, a meth-
od which was used during the days before asylums were establish-
ed. Besides this homestead Capt. Josiah Merrick bought of the
Johnsons the tract of land extending to the river including the pres-
ent Seymour Park. By inheritance this farm came from Capt. Jo-
siah Merrick to his grandson, Gee. H. Merrick, the father of Mrs.
H. n. Northrop, and by him was sold to Raymond French. The
last occupant was Ashbel Storrs.
Capt. Josiah Merrick was born in Harwich, Mass., in 1766, died
in 1845, and was buried in Seymour. He was a communicant of
Trinity church. He descended from William who whs born in
Wales 1603, and emigrated to America in 1636, and for six years
served under Miles Standish in the Colonial Militia, as ensign. In
the "Merrick Lineage" the family is said to have descended from
both the princes of Wales of the Welsh royal family, and of the
English royal family from King Edward I. As early as the 6th cen-
tury the line was established in North Wales. At the coronation
of Henry VIII, Apr. zj, 1509, Merrick was a Captain of the guard
and by order of the King the name Merrick became one of the first
surnames in Wales. On the coat of arms there was this motto of
the Welsh Merricks, "\liithout God nothing; God and enough."
Between the Kimmon and Mud brooks that flow into Kirnmon
pond on the east side, against the bank, there was an old log-house
belonging, in early days, to the Davis family. Daniel was one who
had sons named Daniel and Reuben. In that locality wolves and
rattlesnakes were abundant, and by some means Reuben discover-
ed a cure for rattlesnake bites, but he never would reveal the sec-
ret, except to his son, who finally died without giving it to the
Just west of Rimmon brook, on the crown of the hill, a wolf-pit
was dug by the early settlers for the purpose of catching wolves. A
large pit was dug in a bed of clay, a sheep placed in it, then cover-
ed over lightly with brush. From five to seven wolves have been
caught at one time in this pit. The place has been marked in re-
cent years by a depression in the soil, in the center of which there
was growing a butternut tree.
A little distance up Kimmon brook there is still to be seen the
foundation of a mill, that received its water supply from the region
of the present icehouse of M. E. Wheeler.
At the very foot of Rock Rimmon on the south, where now lives
A, E. Wheeler, there was found in 1892 an old cellar of long dura-
tion while men were digging for a new cellar. Though having long
been covered with earth, the stones of the old cellar wall still stood
upright from two to three feet on all sides except the north side
towards the rock, there was a stone about twelve feet long and
nearly the height of a man in its widest part, the cellar being about
twelve by fifteen feet. Within this stone enclosure there were also
found shells and rude pieces of crockery, so called. This may
have been one of the cellars referred to in 1685, soon after the first
division of the lands. The arrangement of stone upright recalls
the old-time method of the use of stone in the building of the hum-
On the eastern slope of Rock Rimmon, many pears ago, there
lived a slave named Brister or Bristol, at one time belonging to
Alez;ander Johnson, who remembered being stolen from the coast
of Africa when a little boy, but lived to spend his last days beneath
the shadow of Rock Rimmon. (Rock Rimmon in the Holy Land
is where six hundred Benjamites took refuge to escape slaughter. )
--Judges 20 : 45 : :And they turned and fled toward the wilder-
ness unto the rock of Rimmon."
The Record office on Main street, the second building south of
the station, is one of the old landmarks still standing in the heart of
the village. Probably a Mr. Mix built this house about 1790. The
Benhams came here in 1817. While there have been many occu-
pants, the most noted was the Henham family, that had twin boys,
who in after years were among the most wealthy men of Bridge-
Being masons by trade, they built up a large business that
exceedingly profitable. In their declining years they occupied
house on Great Hill back of the schoolhbuse, spending the sum-
mer days with delight amid those solitudes. Further reference will
be made to the Benham home.
"The Robbin's Nest" said a young man "I know where there
is a Robbins' nest with ten young Robbins in it."
Capt. Robbins followed the sea, and his family lived in the old-
est house on Main street, known as Robbins' Nest, now occupied
by The Record office, W. C. Sharpe, editor. There were nine
daughters in the family, and some living at present remember the
good times at the "Robbins' Nest." In the attic was a loom where
Mrs. Robbins wove carpets. Previous to the extension of the rail-
road 1849, the Robbins' garden was famous for growing the most
beautiful flowers. At present none of the family reside here.
Directly west near the river is the old Humphreys woolen mill,
built in 1806, and said to be the first in the country of its kind, which
made the best broad cloth. The merino wool was used here. This
old mill is a curiosity, having lived through the era of the develop-
ment of manufacturing, The mill is long and high, with long
windows and many dormer windows. There were formerly a tower,
and bell on the east end. Thomas Jefferson procured from this
mill cloth for his inaugural suit.
The large house opposite the railroad station was
built by John H. Deforest, first President of Humph-
reysville Mfg. Co., in 1822 for his own dwelling, a mod-
el for its day in architecture, location, and comfort. The
fancy woodwork compares well with the best of the
presentday. The rooms are high, large, cheerful, and
fourteen in number. Every-
thing about is substantial. Also the grounds testify to the taste of
the occupant, there being numerous trees and a variety including
the musical pine and spruces. Deforest lived here until his death
in 1839, the property then passing into the hands of Raymond
French who lived here for many years. Mr. French did much
toward building up Seymour industries.
The old tannery is an object of interest because of its antique
looking structure, located at the east end of the iron bridge, on the
bank of the river, the south part of the block of houses composed
of three. It is easily to be distinguished from the others by its age,
the old chimneys, and the west side which is covered with wide
boards. This is what is left of the old tannery, a two story build-
ing having many names associated with it, as those of Benham,
Judson English, George Kirtland, and Alfred Hull. The bark mill
was located by the little brook a number of rods south.
Deacon Isaac Kinney had a tin shop close by the east end of
the bridge, south side. Dea. Isaac was known as "the salt of the
earth," because of his noble and useful life. He was an active
member of the Episcopal church.
On the north side of the road opposite the Kinney tin shop,
(the place now being marked by cellar and river wall) there was a
store, which was built by Ezekiel Gilbert. The "Turnpike Co."
gave Gilbert the right to build there, because he built the stone
wall next to the river. This store was burned.
Leaving the east side of the river, one crosses the bridge below
the Falls to a slight elevation which becomes a small island in high
water, and during floods is nearly covered. The first bridge built
here was before 1763.
Another was built in 1783, the money being raised by lottery,
etc. The Falls bridge ordered in 1782 and begun in 1783, cost
about $725.00, the money being raised by lottery tickets. There
were 88 tickets sold to 33 persons, most of whom were doubtless
living in this part of the town. Names:
Joel Chatfield, Levi Johnson,
John Crawford, Joseph Johnson, Jr.,
James Baldwin, Gideon Johnson, Sr.,
Abiel Canfield, Ebenezer Keeney,
Daniel Davis, William Keeney,
Ebenezer Dayton, Ashbel Loveland,
Enoch French, Peter Nostrand,
Isaac Foot, Elisha Pritchard,
Levi Hotchkiss, David Parsons.
Moses -Hotchkiss, Polycarp Smith,
Joel Hine, Samuel Smith,
Amos Hine, Benjamin Twitchell,
Hiel Hine, Benjamin Tomlinson,
Gideon Johnson, Jr., Ebenezer Warner,
AsahelJohnson, Hezekiah Wooden,
Hezekiah Johnson, John Wooster,
On this island there are two houses of note, the Seymour
House on the south and the little dwelling on the north, a small
house of one story with two windows in front. This was the house
in which John Winterbottom and family lived only for a season,
the summer of 1817. The daughter Ann was about eight years of
age. She became the distinguished writer known as Mrs. Ann
Stephens. This house has been pointed out as the birth place of
Mrs. Ann Stephens; but it is not. She leaves a letter that removes
all doubt and corrects the error. She tells of living in this little
house ner;t to the "Pines," a beautiful grove of white pines with
scattering oaks, where she spent many a happy day through the
summer, while waiting for the completion of the new house with
stone foundation on the corner south of the old blacksmith shop on
Following events soon led them to move from town, and the
little honse was occupied by Kichard Hine, who built before 1820
the east part which is the same shape as the old, but about two feet
higher, though not quite as long; the like of which is rarely seen in
these days, though a hundred years ago more common, building
on a little as the family increased. At present the house belongs
to the Strapp family.
The birthplace of Mrs. Stephens is on West St. more than half
a mile from the Falls, in a house standing on the south side of the
road, known in late years as the Swift house. Ann was born here in
1810. This house was built in the preceding century, a story and a
half, facing north, and the south roof somewhat longer than the
To the writer the following description was given of its appear-
ance seventy-five years ago: "It was then an old red house, whose
partitions inside were ceiled to the top and painted a deep red. It
had the usual fire-places upon which Mrs. Stephens remembers
warm drink was kept in a tin cup' during sickness, the cup stand-
ing on the hot stone hearth. After this there was a change of own-
ers and the house was clapboarded and painted white. Besides
many other improvements were made costing more than to build a
While living here Ann attended school in a little red school
house a little way up the road where also attended the children of
Dr. Stoddard. In her "recollections," she refers both to her first
home, thelittle red school house and those families living near.
During the last visit of Mrs. Stephens to this home, she peeled some
of the bark from the large maple trees, standing in front of the
house, as a memento of her birthplace. They were little trees
when she was alittle girl living there.
The Seymour House stands on the south side of Broad St. on
the bank of the river close tothe bridge. It was built byJohn Moshier
in 1824, the main part being of stone, cemented and painted, the
other additions being of wood. In its early history it became the
center of great activity because of the stage route passing here, and
this was one of the places for changing horses on the stage line
between New Haven and Albany. Thus it continued for many
years until the coming of the railway in 1849. During the period
of travel by teams exclusively there were occasions when dozens of
teams stopped here for the night, and like other prominent houses
in thbse times, this was witness to exciting scenes, and strange it
would be if there were no romances worthy of a longer story. For
many years this was the chief tavern and hotel for this vicinity. In
1830 Ezekiel Gilbert kept tavern here for two years; after which
time, or in 1833, he occupied the house and store on the bank at
the east end of the bridge. In 3835, Mar. 14, E. Gilbert bought
this place of William Humphreys, which included a house, store
and barn. This appears to be the location of a cellar belonging to
Gen. D. Humphreys in I8I2. (See Sey. Hist., p. 63. ) Again John
Moshier occupied the old tavern. At one time Horace Hurd owned
and occupied this house. In recent pears Henry A. Dunham has
owned and kept the hotel, and the livery stables have been in the
hands of A. B. Dunham, under whose skillful management, it has
done good service. With the coming of the wheel and railroad, the
hotel meets the new demands of modern days.
The Glendenning Academy is still remembered by many of our
Prominent people as the place of their schooling. This Academy
was established in 1849, and occupied the old Congregational
church building, which formerly stood on South Main street next
north of the cemetery, later being moved to its present location, the
first house down the river below the falls, now owned by John
As the railroad had just come to town, May 11, 1849, it was
thought that this locality would be a most favorable one for the
establishment of an academy for the benefit of the youth in this
region and neighboring towns. There were forty-seven pupils who
were taught here, having the advantages of the English branches,
the classics, Latin, Greek, also French and music. The academy
passed through several changes into a public school, which con-
tinued until the high school was built in 1884, at a cost of $45,000,
which is one of the finest school buildings in the Naugatuck valley.
Across the road, on the corner of Broad and Pine streets, there
is a landmark more lasting than old houses, and that is the sidewalk
made of useless pins from the pin factory. This walk extends
around the corner of the residence of hlark Lounsbury for more
than three hundred feet. Seventy-five barrels or more of waste
pins have been used in the construction of this walk. Through the
process of rusting, the walk has become solid iron, and has remain-
ed firm even against the force of the flood during high water in the
river. which, like a torrent, sweeps through with great fury to the
depth of nearly six feet.
The wide interest concerning this walk is illustrated by the
"Newspaper Cutting Bureau,'' which offered to furnish four hundred
and fifty clippings concerning this walk, published in different
parts of the world.
The old elm so long admired was dying, and was cut in 1900,
and a zoth century tree, the gift of Hen. Carlos French, from his
land east of Walnut street, was set in its place.
THE PLANTING OF TKE 20TH CENTURY TREE.
On the corner of Derby avenue and Broad street, in the trian-
gle of the highways, there was planted April 30th, 1901, by the Rev.
H. A. Campbell, aided by George W. Burroughs, a handsome hard
maple tree four inches in diameter and twenty-five feet high. The
"I plant this tree in view of future years, with hopes of joy to
childhood, youth or age. Wide may thy branches spread, and
every season wider still ! May thy beauty grow with years; may
thy charms dispel both signs and fears, until it be that ten thousand
hearts shall say with me,
" Fair tree ! for thy delightful shade
'Tis just that some return be made:
Sure some return is due from me
To thy rool shadows, and to thee.
When thou to birds dost shelter give
Thou music: dost from them receive:
If travelers beneath thee stay
Till storms have worn themselves away
That time in praising thee they spend.
End thy protecting power commend."
Thus, Fair Tree ! may thy years be spent the century through,
into another century that shall be called new.
H. A. C.
Seymour, Conn., April 30, 1901.
One of the old roads extended from the north over Rimmon
Hill, down across Little River up past the Episcopal church, divid-
ing at the four corners, one leading down Falls Hill to the ford at
Broad St., the other road led south along the side of the hill, now
Cedar St, down under the shadow of Castle Rock to the ford near
the Henry Wooster place. There were only two houses in all the
region south of the corner; and below the Falls. One of these
houses is where Geo. Hurlburt now lives, a substantial looking
place, said to have been built by Bradford Steele, a story and a
half, with rooms in the basement, situated second below the
old Shrub Oak schoolhouse, and the rocky ledge that extends down
to the Falls. It stands on the upper road directly west of the
Congregational church, and the view from this high road is one of
much beauty, looking down upon the Falls, the village, and across
the valley to the Promised Land. Being on the road that led to
the ford, this house has been witness of many events and changes
that were not recorded, and is known to have stood about the time
of the Revolution. Other occupants were H. Upson and W. Buf-
fum. Hiram Upson lived here when his daughter was married to
The other old house is on Derby avenue, near Rose street,
known as the i2bel Bassett, Lum, or Holloway house, and formerly
stood where the road now runs, having been moved back about
ten feet. The south part stands in the original form and is very
old, the date 1747 being found on the stairway which was replaced
by a new one many years ago. Previous to the time of Mr. Bassett,
this place was owned by a slave who acquired it
from his master. This house served as a tavern,
being the nearest to the ford, on the west side of the
river, nearly a quarter of a mile above the ford.
Dancing must have been common in those days,
and to aid the sweet and harsh sounds of music,
there was a mysterious
sounding apparatus placed in the ceiling. It can hardly be called
a sounding board. A number of bottles were imbedded in the
plaster of the ceiling with their necks down three inches, and when
the fierceness of the dance and music reached their height, strange
sounds came from the ceiling, being sent forth from the empty bottles.
Little is known about this place through its long and eventful his-
tory. Like the ancient homes in general, the passing public does
not even give a thought concerning the history of their past. Now
the thousands of wheels pass by where more than a century ago
there was only a path for the Indians and pioneers. Under the
shadow of Castle Rock this house stood on the land which David
Wooster bought of the Indians in 1692.
The old "Pound" for stray cattle, so well remembered by the
school children of half a century ago, was located five rods south of
the corner of Pine street and Derby avenue, close to the walk, with
a high fence, beneath two great white pine trees. In the later
Period it was used as a chicken yard. Being shady and cool the
cats found it good hunting ground. The chickens disappeared.
One season, Philo Heecher, the owner, lost twelve chickens and
shot thirteen cats for compensation. The pound was destroyed
Now and then in New England, the beginning of a home is
similar to the one just north of the Union cemetery. This was
begun by Gipson Lum, in 1837. He was a young man, being a sea
captain, and having a young family. Before he finished the house,
he received an urgent call to take charge of a ship about to leave
port. At first he declined because of a very strong feeling coming
over him that he ought not to go. But finally he consented, much
against his own will. Soon after his departure, other ships brought
news of a severe storm, and Captain Lum and his ship were never
seen or heard from. The place is now owned and occupied by
Albert F. Warner.
Going south from the Falls the road follows the River, with
hills on the right, the river on the left, and being overshadowed
with trees, it is the favorite road in the region, traveled over by
thousands of wheels. The first house below the woods is the early
home of Jonathan Miles, znd, a tory; it being on the west side
sheltered by the woods and hill, a two story house but of little
interest at present, except as the stopping place for the wheelmen.
Ebenezer Keeney was born in Wales, in 1718; came to Derby
when a young man, and resided a little way southeast from Old
Town until he built his house at the Landing in 1754. It was the
first house at Derby Narrows, and his son, Ithiel Keeney, was the
first white child born at the Landing, March 17. 1755. Ebenezer
Keeney married Betsey Davis, daughter of John Davis, Jr., necem-
ber 7, 1738 Ebenezer was a man of large influence in the town
and possessed great business energy and ability, as indicated by his
being elected tax collector most of the time during the Revolu-
tionary war. He was also appointed war inspector. He was
among the number who purchased of the Indians in 1763 two and a
half acres of land near the Falls, together with the Falls, for eight
pounds. He also owned the land where now stands the Congrega-
tional church and parsonage.
He lived in the old Canfield-Booth house on the hill, and also
in a house that stood on the flat now covered by the buildings of
the Copper Co. Ithiel his son was for thirty years treasurer of the
town of Derby, and was said to be one of the most reliable men
ever in town.
William was the ninth child of Ebenezer Keeneg, born July
16, 1757, and married Millie Steele. Their oldest son was Ebenezer,
born Nov. 28, 1779, and married Betsy Bucking-ham; their oldest
child was Betsev, born Jan. 9, 1804, who married Jeremiah Durand,
and their oldest child was Elizabeth, who married Edwin A. Lum.
Keeney-Kinney. KeeneB is the Welsh name. The Irish
name is Kinney. The greater number of the Keeneys spell their
.i name Kinney. The correct spelling of the Welsh name is Keeney,
.: and the spelling of the Irish name is Kinney. It will be seen that
the descendants of Ebenezer Keenev are in error when spelling
the name Kinney, as the greater part of them do. Kinneytown Is
the locality near Kinneytown falls.
The first Keeney who settled at Kinneytown, was William, who
was married about 1/~78, becoming the father of Ebenezer, a car-
penter and shipbuilder, William, a tinner, Metiad, a blacksmith,
Deacon Sheldon and Isaac Keeney. As the road then ran close to
the side of the river, the first homestead was built facing the east,
a small, one story, red house, the roof e?itending very low on the
back side. The old cellar is still to be seen, a little northeast of
the present dwelling, under the shadow of a cherry tree.
The present Keeney homestead is located near the falls, known
as Kinneytown falls. The house is a large, pleasant two story
dwelling with the modern appearance, with shade trees of long
standing, surrounded with orchards and many comforts. The barns
are on the west side of the road.
The house was probably built by Deacon Sheldon Keeney in the
early part of the 19th century. Sheldon was a deacon of the Con-
gregational church, and it was his generosity that provided a par-
sonage by the side of the church.
The Keenev families have had a large share in the interests and
welfare of the town, notably Deacon Sheldon and Deacon Isaac,
whose names are still familiar to many an household.
Doubtless the fine river lands contributed much towards the
prosperity of this, and the neighboring families below.
Less than a quarter of a mile below the Keeney place, there
stands a large two story house, some distance back from the high-
way, with the back of the house toward the street. In this last
respect the house is similar to the home of Mark Twain in Hart-
ford, that has the kitchen facing the main street. However, this
old home was not built according to the modern fashion. But
more than a hundred years ago, the house was built facing both
the river, and road which then ran east of and in front of it.
This old homestead is known as the Capt. Philo Holbrook place.
Captain Philo was a man of affairs, and the old home itself would
indicate no little prosperity in its best days.
In 1852 a Mr. Cantield lived there, a tailor by trade, and to him
many of the people brought their home-made cloth to have it cut
for garments, and in many cases he finished the garments. Capt.
Philo Holbrook occupied this old homestead in more recent years.
One is impressed with the dignity of this old house, located on
the east side of the highway, with its little lean-to and corner porch,
and the well near at hand. The picture of the old time home
would have been complete, if the well-sweep had been preserved
and were still in service.
Westward from the house near the Bungay road and little
brook, there was formerly a cider mill, and its companion a brandy
mill, but both are now in ruins.
On going south and and approaching the brook, at the foot of
King's Hill, a row of large trees, maples and elms, will be seen.
In the field nearly west, there once stood another old homestead of
one of the Tomlinson families. One family by the name of Tucker
and another by the name of Smith, also lived there. The trees
are all that now remain, which would indicate the existence of this
ancient landmark. Abel Church set out this row of maples and
elms in the early part of the last century, and tried to sell them to
the owner of the place. The house has long since disappeared.
Abel Church lived just back of this house on the Bungay road, in
the same home that Rector Davis, or his widow, spent their decli-
ning years. The next house above on the Bungay road was long
ago the home of Enos Smith, and later the home of two genera-
tions of the Williamson family.
Another old building, fast becoming an old landmark, is the
"Shrub Oak " schoolhouse, situated on the high rock west of the
Congregational church, on Cedar street. The "Shrub Oak" dis-
trict was laid out Dec. 27, 1779, and the first schoolhouse was built
on north side of road back of James Swan's upper shops, near the
corner of the Waiter French garden, and the path leading to the
shops. From this location the schoolhouse was moved to, and
forms a part of the Beers house, nearly opposite of the Trinity
cemetery. The third location for the Shrub Oak school was on the
rock mentioned above and was built about 1850 It has been used
but little since the new high schoolhouse was built, 1884, and its
present deserted condition makes the old "Shrub Oakl' school-
house a monument of the past.
Shrub Oak was the name given at an early date to the region
west of the river and Falls. Still earlier, 1702, it was known as
Camp's Mortgage,a section three miles square. The origin of
this last name was due to the selling of liquor to the Indians by
Mr. Camp, who took a mortgage on this territory.
The houses of interest in Shrub Oak are located at the crossing
of the roads, Church and West streets. Formerly the Rimmon
road came down by the Episcopal church, now a part of Church
street. These corners might have been well called the doctors'
corners, for doctors lived here for more than 100 years.
The first physician was Samuel Sanford, coming to town
about 1790, and died in 1803 at 38 years of age. He lived on the
right hand corner going up the Bungay road, or West Church
Street. Across the road towards Castle Kock, there was a pest
house for small-pox patients, in which the town took an interest.
The house of Dr. Sanford has passed through many changes,
the old part being now the west part, while the large square house
in front facing the east is the work of Gen. Humphrey, at least so
stated by the best authority. The Hen. John Humphreys occupied
it early in the century. He was a lawyer,being called Judge.
Judge John and William were nephews to the General and had
charge of the woolen mill, T. Vose & Co.
Mrs. Anna Stephen says, that Judge John and his wife, called
Lady Humphreys, an elegant, handsome lady, were great favorites
with the General, and were generally looked up
to in the neighborhood as superior persons. The
whole Humphreys family were remarkable for their
personal beauty. Judge John had two daughters,
Mrs. Canfield and Mrs. Pease, who were beautiful
and elegant women. Judge Humphreys died in 1826,
and between that time and between that time and 1830
the house was adorned by A. M. Bassett with the preent
style of architecture.
This large white house was the most conspicious on the west
side of the river, pleasantly located on the corner, having large,
high rooms, a generous hall, a colonial window in the attic, fancy
frieze, a veranda supported by six doric columns. There were bal-
ustrades on both the veranda and roof of the house. This place
has lost but little of its former dignity. The more recent occu-
pants were George F. Deforest, Henry Wheeler, E. E. Adams,
W. A. Warner and C. S. Boies, cashier of the Valley National Bank.
Across the road to the north and on the corner was the Doctor
Johnson house built by him in 1842. He married Hannah, the
daughter of the old Dr. Stoddard, and began housekeeping in an
old house that stood back of the new one where the barns now are.
This was a very old house. Its early history cannot be found, but
this has been ascertained, that it was the first home of Dr. Stod-
dard, who came here in 1804, and probably lived there for a num-
ber of years and sent his children to the same school with Mrs.
Ann Stephens, in a little red schoolhouse on the road back of James
Swan's upper shops, nez;t above Walter French house. Mrs.
Sephens writes later of the good doctor making his visits going
horseback. This will answer many inquiries where Dr. Stoddard
From this old house so near the corner and Episcopal church,
the doctor moved to the Rimmon road, a little way up Rimmon
hill, on the west side, the barns being on the opposite side of the
road. The house was small and one story, but the location was
dry and the views most beautiful, as they are all along the southern
slope of Rimmon. This house was burned in 1894. This large
farm was afterwards given to his son Joseph, and the old Doctor
moved to the east side as already described, a mile below the Falls.
For many years after 1842, Dr. Johnson lived in the new house
which he built in front of the old one, on the north corner of West
and Church streets, and today it is one of the best locations for a
fine residence in town. In May 1901 this property passed into the
hands of W. L. Ward, the undertaker, who will make it his per-
Ur. Kendall lived on the corner towards the cemetery. This
house was formerly used as a store. The Rev. Dr. H. D. Northrop's
family live in the home on the opposite corner, the house having
built by Hiram Upson in 1847, the work being done by his
two sons. And the first physician, Dr. Sanford, lived on the other
corner, so there has been a doctor living on each of the four corners.
Abiel Canfield, son of Joseph, came from that
part of Great Hill, known as the Bungay district,
southward from the present Uungay schoolhouse.
Abiel married Mary Barlow of Stratford Dec. 23, 1779'
and lived in the little house on West St., where now lives George
F. Robinson, the fifth house from the corner,
on the west side of the street. Capt. Bradford Steele lived here
until he sold it to Abiel Canfield. This is a small one story and a
half house with a basement kitchen, thought to have been one of
the houses built by Capt. Uradford Steele, who built several houses
and lived in a number before he moved across the river to the pres-
ent Johns place. There is a well, mentioned in a deed given by
Theophilus Miles to Abiel Canfield, May 18, 1784; and this well is
located among the invisible landmarks beneath the concrete walk
in front of the first house south of the Canfield-Robinson house.
As early as 1760 Ebenezer Keeney owned land at the Falls, and
also the land and house which he lived in, or the place now known
as the Canfield-Booth place on North Church street. In 1785 the
name of Bradford Steele appears among the names of those who
leased land at the Falls, who also became the owner of the house
which Ebenezer Kinney previously occupied. Abiel Canfield be-
comes the next owner of this old homestead, about I800, which
still remains in the family. Located on the east side near the road,
with maple trees in front, this old red house was two stories, facing
the west, the east roof sloping down to one story. Besides the
front door, there was a small door on the south side near the front
corner. The house was built on the old plan, with corner rooms in
front, small hall in the center, back of which was the great chim-
ney and fireplace of the largest pattern, opening into the kitchen,
which was on the back side of the house. Standing beneath the
maples and weeping willow, the well sweep pointing heavenward,
this old homestead has been a fit subject for the work of artists.
Abiel Canfield was followed by his son, Samuel, who was fol-
lowed by Henry T. Booth, who married Harriet, the daughter of
Samuel. These two families occupied the old house for nearly a
century, or until a few years ago, when the new house was built,
being located east of the old one, leaving the well, still to be seen,
in the front lawn.
The memory of Napoleon is associated with this well. A trav-
eler visiting the tomb of Napoleon cut from the historic weeping
willow some branches and brought them to this country. Trans-
planting them they began to grow. From one of these a branch
was taken and set out about two rods from this well. Growing rap-
idly, it became in the course of years a large, beautiful and grace-
ful tree. To the surprise of the family, one summer season, the
well failed for the first time in its known history. On making inves-
tigation, there was found at the bottom of the well a perfect wreath,
as large around as the well, made of the fine rootlets from the wil-
low tree; this wreath was taken out and the tree cut down.
The large red house opposite the Canfield or Booth place, is
the oldest looking landmark in the vicinity. Having two stories in
front and one in the rear, it stands on the crown of the hill, great in
contrast to the buildings of modern days. It is like a monument,
or memorial of the past. Formerly it was occupied by Hiram Up-
son, but later Samuel Canfield became the owner of it.
Like Capt. Bradford Steele, Hiram C'pson occupied many
houses making it difficult to trace him in his wanderings.
In 1847 Upson built the house on the corner of Cedar and
Church Sts., now the summer home of Dr. H. D. Northrop, and
his two sons helped to build the-house. Still later Upson moved
to the old Miles homestead on the Bungay road a mile above, now
the home of Clark Chatfield.
In 1791 IS3ac Baldwin had a mill at the mouth of Little River,
and a house on the flat below the little iron bridge, and just south
of the river at the foot of the Rimmon road. It was in this house
that the Methodists held their meetings some year after 1790. At
the time of one of their meetings, some of the young fellows got a
ladder and covered the chimney, thereby smoking out the devoted
worshipers. In after years, the good people thought that the
judgment of God was upon those young men, because they all died
in the prime of life.
It appears that Hiram Upson began his local career at this
place. Though the Baldwin house was burned down, Upson built
another on the same foundation, which is still standing, the story
and a half house, with a two story addition on the north of it.
Returning to West street, next to the Dr. Johnson place, there
stands on the bank above the road a long, low one story house,
with little convenience in the arrangement of rooms, once occupied
by one of the Humphrers, probably William or John, who was in
the office of the T. Vose and Co. It has long been known as the
Reynolds' place, but now owned by Hildebrand. Another old well
used in early times is to be found north near the south line of Gee.
E. Matthies' place. Up the hill from the well stood the large old
house two stories in front and one in rear, where once lived Theo-
philus Miles, 2nd
After crossing the little brook the road turns to the left and
here stands the house known for many gears ;Is the Bell place.
Smith Uotsford sold this place to Horace Hurd, who built over the
small one story house into a good size two story dwelling in 1847
making it very attractive in its best days. At one time this was
used as the Episcopal parsonage. Directly opposite is the Warren
French home, son to Waiter, and the only house in the vicinity
shingled on the sides.
Passing the Swift place, already described, there stands nearly
opposite the old Waiter French house, called by Mrs. Stephens,
the French Mansion. This was built after 1812, Waiter French
being the first to engage in the auger business in town. "Star"
and John Washburn occupied this house later. An old Samuel
Bassett house stands next, across the road, a large two story dwell-
ing, facing the north, occupied by him 1814 or 1817, having the ap-
pearance of age of more than a century, having small windows, is
weather beaten, neglected and now the home of the transients.
In this vicinity there was a little red school house long since remov-
ed, but of note because Mrs. Ann Stephens and the children of Dr.
Stoddard attended school here, and the good old spinster taught
Ann how to sew, as well as to read and write. Scarcely any one
remembers this school, but it stood midway between the French
mansion and the saw-mill according to Ann's account. Also Ed-
ward Pritchard says-the red schoolhouse stood where the road or
foot path commences that goes to Swan's shops, within a few rods
from the corner of the Waiter French garden. If this building
was moved, it now stands and is a part of the house where Mr.
Beers lives opposite Trinity cemetery.
The old Pritchard place has been known in recent years by the
Betts place, located on the west side of the road, on West street,
the south end of Swan's reservoir being opposite. The Pritchards
had a land interest in this locality, buying it from Ebenezer John-
son as early as 1740, the year that James Pritchard, Jr., was mar-
ried, being the tirst of the several generations that lived here. In
1 760 the town granted to James Pritchard the right of and use of Little
River for mill purposes from the mouth up to the Fairchild place.
It is not known when the Pritchard house was built. If not by
Johnson, or at the time, in 1746, when James was married, it is
probable that 1760 is the date when the grant was given for the use of
the river. The old house was a story and a half, facing the east
and looking down upon the sawmill and river.
Following James Pritchard was his son Jabez, who married
Eunice Botsford Oct. 31, 1764, and his son Leverett was born Sept.
r6, 1765, who spent his whole life on or near the homestead; his
son Jabez E. was born there, and his son Edward Pritchard was
alsoborn there May 24,I830. B. Steele, Jr., and Jabez enlisted
for the war July, 1777, and were taken prisoners near Fort Inde-
pendence while aiding a wounded companion.
Falling into the hands of his inhuman captors, Jabez survived
but a short time after being taken to the prison ship in North
River. Before his death he gave his money to aid others, and
especially Bradford Steele, Jr., who used some of this for provis-
ions which preserved his life until released; then he was scarcely
strong enough to get home. However, he recovered, and lived a
very useful life, and his name is reverenced even to this day, He
was deacon of the Congregational church. He died at his old
home on the New Haven road in 1841, aged 80, and was buried in
the old Congregational vard.
In 1847 Isaac Lindley built a new house a little south of the
old Pritchard house, but the old Pritchard house remained standing
until 1866, when Richard Aspden tore it down, and, using old lum-
ber, built a house for himself, now standing, the first house west of
the old Bell place. To the past generation, the new house on the
Pritchard place has been known as the Betts place. In March,
1901, this passed into the possession of V. A. Page of Derby. The
property is situated between the Bungay road and West street
and comprises about fifty acres of land, upon which is erected a
dwelling house and a large barn.
The location of the old Pritchard home is still indicated by the
high hollow mound just a little north, which now remains as a mon-
ument of the past, and which is crowned by a living memorial, in the
shape of an ancient looking lilac bush, the silent sentinel, still
guarding over the sacred memories of the old Pritchard homestead.
The lilac bush is often the only living remnant which now
marks the location and ruins of the habitations of some of the
noted families of New England. The lilacs once planted by gentle
hands are still growing by the foundation of the old homesteads,
and sometimes are even overshadowed by the later growth of for-
est trees, while the hands that planted them have long been at rest.
The old Pritchard saw-mill and the Pritchard farm house were
opposite each other, the mill being close by the river and lower
than the main road. Josiah Washburn was an early owner of this
mill, and conducted a large lumber business. At intervals for more
than a century the old saw has furnished music for the neighbor-
hood, the last work being done in r895, which was the sawing of
large whitewood logs by Mr. George Wakeley. The second year
following, the mill was dismantled, leaving only the stone work.
Standing by the side of the falls and beneath the large overhanging
trees, and together with the surroundings, this mill made a fine pic-
ture of a New England industry, that is fast passing away. These
monuments of ruins and departed days speak the silent lessons of
the story of life.
This old sawmill was first owned by the Pritchards, second by
Josiah Washburn, then by "Star" or Sterling Washburn, who gave
it to his daughter, Mrs. Osborn, then bought by John Washburn
about 1865. James Swan bought the property in 1868, and in 1875
it was built over and leased to E. L. Hoadley who occupied it for
to years, the last work being done there in 1898. It was torn down
The second house above the Hoadley bridge was formerly the
residence of Gen. Clark Wooster, now the home of Frederick
Beecher. An old landmark, to many of the people of two genera-
tions ago, is still standing a little back in the lot in the appearance
of a shop. This was used in its earlier days as a store, and the old
fashioned "wet goods" were also kept and sold in such quantities,
that the saying went abroad, that "more liquor including cider
brandy was sold there than there was water in Little River."
In those days cider brandy was a common drink, sold at 3 cents
a glass and some of the patrons ran up such bills at this store, their
accounts being kept on the wall, "chalked down" so they could be
seen by all. In recording those drinks, a large piece of chalk was
so cut and so used, as make two marks---two drinks--instead of one.
Little river winds among the hills, and where the valley is
narrow there have been many mills, but the rich meadows invited
the pioneers as early as 1731. Up this valley runs the Oxford turn-
pike, which was chartered 1795, being one of the oldest turnpikes
in the state, and a much traveled road. A number of old houses
are still to be seen, and there is one still standing on the corner of
the Oxford road and the lane leading to the S. W. Buckingham
slaughter house, a medium size one story and a half dwelling,
rudely furnished, but pleasant in location, and rural-like, because
of the many large maple trees growing near. The house was
built by Philo Holbrook, one of the Holbrooks who came from the
old '' hive," the son of Capt. John, Jr. Philo was married to Ann
Wooster, June 3, 1779. She was long known as "Aunt Annis,'
It is probable the house was soon occupied after this marriage.
Abijah, one of their sons, lived at the place on the Great Hill road,
now the home of Mrs. John Church and sons.
The home of Eugene Wyant is in the open field. Its loca-
tion is on the rise of ground across the Little river more than to
rods east of the highway or turnpike, and, with the bridge, trees,
buildings and their snrroundings, this little home makes a picture
more like some of the European dwellings among the hills of
Switzerland. The low lying roof forms the covering to the south
veranda, while the veranda also extends around the west side,
making the house appear broad and low. This is called the
"Woodside dairy farm." The house was built by Ebenezer John-
son, who was married 1814 Immediately following their marriage
they lived in the Wooster place until the barn was finished; then
they lived in the barn until the house could be occupied, in 1815.
This family has in its possession a relic of much interest handed
down from the time of the Indians ; it is a large, heavy cane carried
by one of the pioneer Johnsons. Having this cane in hand one
evening while returning home, he discovered an Indian following
him with noiseless step and tomahawk in hand. In the dim light
the anxious man quickened his steps thinking what was best to do.
The Indian followed with similar pace nearer and nearer to strike
the fatal blow. Suddenly Johnson turned; there was the sound of
a heavy blow and the Indian fell upon the autumn leaves and his
spirit went to the unhappy hunting ground. This cane did the work
of saving Johnson's life and now stands in the corner unconscious
of its service in warlike days of the pioneer's life.
The old Wooster saw and grist mill, recent owners Sheldon
Church, his son William, Edward Pritchard and Mark Lounsbur?.
At one time plaster "as ground at the grist mill. About 1830
Washburn ("Wop") Wooster lived on the north corner of Oxford
and Great Hill roads, about the date of the house. The Waiter
French house was occupied following him by Star Washburn and
John, his son. The John Humphrey house was occupied by Dr.
Kendall, Keynolds, etc.
At an early date the Woosters owned land north of Chestnut
Tree Hill, on Great Hill and Moose Hill which sloped eastward
toward Little River. Some of these lands are mentioned in the di-
vision of the estate of Edward Wooster, I, in 1694. The selection
for a dwelling was one of the best in the Little River Valley, at the
north end of the long meadow which became the home of the
Woosters, John and Thomas, and others.
On Little River about two miles from the Falls there was a
mill property sold in 1747. From the description and distance this
is the locality near the dwelling of David C. Riggs, known in the
time of the Revolution as the Capt. John Wooster tavern. The old
Wooster house stood near the corner made by the main road and
the Park road coming- from the west. Capt. John probably came
here near 1750 and for many years kept a tavern of considerable
note long before the Oxford turnpike was laid out. There was a
large deer park owned by the Woosters northwest of the house,
covering the hilly section, and was protected by the early laws of
the state. South of the tavern was a fine level meadow of many
acres lying on both sides of the river.
Located near and north of the well, and a little southwest from
the present house, the old house is said to have been red at first but
later was yellow, a large two story dwelling facing the east and
highway, the back roof long and sloping to one story. The general
plan of the house differed but little from others of that date. The
chimney was very large, being made of stone, with the usual fire-
places including one in the basement room, the corner of the house
towards the corner of the roads. In later years this was used as a
cider room, and one of the old tables is still preserved. The rooms
were large and a good number of them adapted for the purposes of
a tavern. In the attic there was a place built for smoking hams.
This old tavern had a history though not written. Capt. John
Wooster was one of the principal men in town, being a justice of
The old house became famous because of the visit of Graham,
the traitor, with his band of robbers, in March, 1780, on a cold
stormy night. Here they sought food and rest, but before morning
the officers disturbed them and they fled to a barn, where they re-
mained through the day, cold and hungry, waiting for the storm to
cease. Xlmost starving, they again sought food at the tavern as the
dusk of evening came, but before getting it, the alarm of their pres-
ence was given, causing them to flee over Great Hill as already
Many can look back to this old house as their home, remaining
in the Wooster name for several generations, other names being
Smith, Stoddard, Kandall and Riggs. The old tavern and home
was dismantled and torn down in 1872-3, and part of the material
was used to build the second house above, and some of the stone
from the massive chimney was taken to build the cellar wall of the
Congregational church parsonage, 1873.
In the time of the Revolution, Thomas Wooster, a brother of
Capt. John, lived in the story and a half house across the road to
the east, nearly opposite the Capt. John Wooster tavern, being
located on the south corner made by the main road and the one
leading to Rimmon Hill. This house stood a good distance back
from the main road, facing the west, being pleasantly located on a
natural rise of ground several feet high, and much larger than the
usual story and a half house. Covering a large foundation, it was
built on a generous plan, with high ceilings, with a large hall seven
yards long, and wide in proportion, the stairs being enclosed. On
each side of the front door, there was a large hall window. The
south front room was the barroom, and later used as the parlor.
Among the four rooms on the ground floor, the largest was the sit-
ting room, directly back of the hall, which was also seven yards
long, containing the big fireplace and oven, which would indicate
that this room was at first intended for the living room and kitchen
as well as the dining room, and was extensively used in the busr
tavern days. The growing demand led to the building of a large
ell on the northeast corner, containing the dining room, kitchen,
etc. In the angle of the back yard made by the ell and house.
there stood a large sweet apple tree and the well, and all about the
ground was paved with stones. Later occupants were Sheldon
Church, followed by his son Henry and family. At the time of
the fire the house was rented.
This was probably at first a red house, but in its latest period
when white, it had the look of many years service. Afterward it
was burned in August, 1894, and with it a number of valuable
pieces of antique furniture. The old chimney stood complete for
a long time, and now crumbling, becomes the monument of former
days and places, telling of a history, even though without inscrip-
Along Little River southward extends a fine meadow for a
quarter of a mile. About half way down this meadow on a rise of
ground east of the highway there stands one of the stately homes
of more than a century ago. Here lived the Washburns for many
years, they being early comers into this fertile region. Just inside
the fence there is an earth terrace, the house standing back several
rods. The entrances are by two gates more than twenty rods
apart, the driveway making a semicircle to the back of the house
and to the barns. Scarcely could ;1 better location be found. At
the north gate there stands a massive elm tree with very large
branches, and of great age, which served in colonial times and before
as the boundary between the Indians of Chusetown and those of
Woodbury. About the house are maples planted in the early part
of the century, adding much to the beauty of the surroundings. At
the present time the appearance is not only that of quiet but of lone-
liness, as if commanding reserved solitude. Nevertheless, this place
has a history dating back to the middle of the preceding century
The Washburns were among the early comers, there having been at least
four generations living on this place, Josiah, Ist, Josiah, Jr., Staples, and
his children still living there, Catherine, or Mrs.Rose, and Seth S. Washburn.
The first house was very small, with one story and attic, containing but one
room below with pantry and cupboard, and one of these was under the stairs.
The way into the cellar was down stone steps, made from the stone gath-
ered from the fields, very rough and uneven. When there was
need of extra rooms, blankets were hung up for partitions. To
this little house there were three outside doors. The second house
is now standing, a story and a half, probably built before the Revo-
lution, and many signs of age are to be seen in the architecture
and hand-wrought iron hinges, latches and the like. The large fire-
places have been bricked up. Differing from most houses, the cor-
ner is toward the street, and the principal living room is on the
south side, receiving the direct sunlight all day. In this respect
there could be no improvement.
About the time of opening the Oxford turnpike, 1791-5, New
Haven was building the long wharf so as to make the city a port of
entry, and soon after there was a large trade for many miles
around, and much of it came over the Oxford turnpike, passing the
Washburn place. The distance favored the establishment of a tav-
ern, so a large addition was built, --in fact a separate house set at
the same angle as the old one, the corners meeting. The new one
was built on the southeast corner of the old.
Josiah Washburn Jr., was of age to be married and on account
of opposition, he "stepped out" (ran away) and was married on
Long island May 4, 1793, to Catharine Smith, then 20 years of age.
This smart young woman figures largely in the success of the tavern
during the years when so many travelers and teamsters put up at
the tavern in going and returning from New Haven. As the house
was large, now containing 17 rooms, nine below and eight above,
many could be acommodated at one time..
In those days a tavern was not complete without a bar, nor
was this large estate complete without a cider-brandy mill. Cider-
brandy sold at this tavern at six cents a glass. For the most part
the teamsters brought their lunch, and sitting at the table ordered
tea, which was the only article of food furnished for the table; so
also the feed for the horses was carried by the drivers. The un-
written history of this oId tavern would furnish material for an in-
teresting story if the facts could be gathered.
The large new house was built in the best style, with plank
siding to make it warm and strong. The rooms were larxe, facing
the south, one on each corner, the front door, hall, and stairs being
between, In addition to the great chimney and fireplaces. These
rooms have low ceilings, but are exceedingly pleasant, looking out
upon the gentle slope of the lawn to the bridge and Little River,
and off to the hills.
Back of the front rooms was the bar room, extending the length
of the house, making another pleasant room, the bar proper being
at the east end and somewhat secluded by a little partition. The
work on these rooms was of the best order. In the bar-room there
was a long mantle above the great fireplace, and above the mantel
it was finished in woodwork something like a large panel painted in
a dark brown, and grained by the painter in a most artistic way,
still remaining in its original form. In the east front room, there is
a handsome corner closet decorated with fancy woodwork as is the
rest of the room. Above the mantels also of these rooms it is fin-
ished in wood. The entrance to the bar-room is principally through
a large door on the west side, a door which is set in about four feet,
having little windows at the sides. In its present state this room is
The large ball room is above, where history has been made,
but not written. In the height of the season, this room was fitted
out with several cord bedsteads to accommodate a goodly number.
On one occasion the house was full and among those assigned to
this room was a young man of large and powerful proportions, who
purposed not to have the night pass without some fun. No one
thought it a Rise thing to lay hands on the young giant, so he had
the first fun in his own way. When all was quiet, he placed himself
beneath the cord bedstead where two were quietly sleeping and
suddenly rising to his feet spilled out the astonished occupants,
shaking the house in so doing.
It might be mentioned here that several names were given to
the lady of the house and one of them was "Tury," also called
"Aunt Tury," the house being known as "Aunt Tury's Tavern."
After this disturbance, Aunt Tury was on hand to learn the cause,
and as no one ventured to punish the giant she gave emphatic
warning that there should be no repetition of any such disturbance.
Soon all was quiet and all heavy in sleep, when suddenly two other
occupants found themselves rising in air to fall to the floor, and the
house again resounded from the shock. Aunt Tury grasped a heavy
horse whip and ascended to the scene of action, driving the young
giant about the room under the heavy blows of the whip, until she
felt satisfied that he was justly punished. Then was the time for
the others to have their fun, for they would certainly tell that Aunt
Tury gave him a horsewhipping if he didn't "treat," a thing which
he was glad to do to stop their mouths. Still taking advantage be-
cause of the second episode, he must treat again or else they would
Aunt Tury was equal to all emergencies during those rough
times and among rough men. She prospered, and the bag of silver
grew in weight, as also did the bag of gold, until a little fortune
had been secreted away in the hiding place. But such things are
too often disturbed. There was a young negro at the tavern, who
served on many occasions, also acting as the colored coachman.
During some busy time, he saw Aunt Tury hasten to change some
money, and while unobserved himself, he learned the way to the
secret chamber of gold.
Soon it was missing. This was an emergency requiring some
judicious acting to find out the thief and catch him before he was
gone. Knowing the fondness which the colored boy had for pie,
she made a fine pie with a good dose of jalap in it, for she mistrust-
ed him. Soon he was very sick. But still to keep him within her
control, some strong tea was prepared with more jalap. This
brought him to the condition requiring the presence of the doctor
and soon Dr. Stoddard was present. "What have you been doing
to get so sick as this ?" said the doctor, "You must have done some-
thing very bad !"
Having been informed of the case, he quickly ordered more
tea--containing more jalap, for this was one of the favorite articles
used by him. Becoming very sick, the colored boy began to get
frightened. Seeing this the doctor said, "You are very sick--dan-
gerous! You haven't long to live! You have done something!
If you have anything to say, you must say it quick, for you can't
live more than two hours ! " After a moments thought, out came
the confession, "I took the money." "Money ! where did you hide
it ?" "Under the sill in the horse barn," was the faint reply. Hast-
ening to the hiding place, the large bag of gold was brought forth
safely; and from that hour the boy rapidly recovered.
Rimmon Hill is an elevation of 400 feet nearly tn-o miles long, be-
the Naugatuck and Little rivers. The land for the most part is well
adapted for agriculture. Near the northern portion there are three
old homes which belonged to the first settlers. Back a little west
of the highways is a house in the last stage of service, long used for
storehouse and shed. More than 303 broad acres stretch out over
this region sloping to the east and northwest, now one of the best
farms in the region of miles around. The house is a large two story
dwelling, with long sloping roof to the north. The house was well
finished, having a corner closet for the better household utensils.
The old stone chimney to the very top bears witness of its age.
The earliest names now to be found are those of Clark and
Edwin Hine. The family of William Clark is associated with this
homestead. William was married about 1774 and his oldest daugh-
ter Eunice became in 1804 the wife of Dr. Stoddard.
In later years Sheldon Sanford kept house here while building
a new house on the corner a fe\r rods cast. He was the last tc,
occupy the oltl dwelling. The property now belongs to Albert
Carrington. During the best days in a single year, 1870, $3,000
worth of cattle were sold from this estate. Near the corner stands
a famous chestnut tree 26 feet in circumference, having increased
three feet in 30 years. It is a fine specimen of a chestnut, with wide
spreading branches, and still growing.
About an eighth of a mile on the eastward slope from this chest-
nut tree in the open field, there is a barn which marks the location
of an old homestead, occupied last by Philo Sanford, the father of
Sheldon, the house being destroyed by fire. Philo Sanford bought
this place of Levi Riggs; the Riggs family was one of the first
settlers in this region and towards Pinesbridge.
From the Carrington place and the old chestnut tree, going
south, the first house is another of the old houses referred to as still
standing on Rimmon, and the other is nearly opposite towards the
The one on the west side of the road was known a century ago
as the Pangman place, the name Nathan Pangman appearing on
the tax list of 1792.
This was probably occupied a generation before. At a later
dav, one by the name of Booth lived there. The house stands on
a little elevation near the road, facing south, two stories, the roof
in the rear sloping down to one low story, and the sides are shin-
gled. Rising above the roof is the stone chimney. Sloping west-
ward is the farm land of many acres.
On the other side of the road, there was at first an humble
dwelling of small proportions, very rude in its structure, and evi-
dently put together with unskilled hands. The living room speaks of
many years ago. Scarcely is there anything at right angles; the
doors do not fit; great cracks can be seen everywhere. Most of
this room is finished in wood. Across one corner is a partition
which makes a sleeping room. Through the many cracks the wind
whistles and groans.
This was the little house bought or built by Mr. Simeon
Wheeler, by whose name it is still known, being owned at present
by Burr Howard. Lyman Wheeler built a substantial addition,
two generations ago, making an excellent home. From this side
of the road the land slopes toward the rising sun until it meets the
The views from this high road of 400 feet are fine and varied.
On the southeast part of this hill, there was during the last century
(18th) a road winding down to the ford extending northeast until
it met the New Haven road on Beacon brook. This road has not
been used for more than 100 years. However, by the side of this
deserted way, there was a little cemetery, first occupied 1765, and
having been deserted for more than 100 years, no one having been
buried there since 1795. It is located about a mile above the R. R.
station on the high bluff west of the track a few rods back in a per-
fect wilderness. Many of the stones were broken by boys and the
falling of the first growth of trees, and now overshadowed by the
half-grown second growth. The "deserted village" of the poet
tells one story, and this little deserted cemetery tells another. It
is said that one of the Brewster family of the Mayflower has Deen
given a resting place in this solitude, calling to mind the burial
place in the wilderness of the new world on Cole's Hill at Plymouth
during the winter of 1621.
In the deserted burying ground on Rimmon Hill, there were
seven gravestones with the following inscriptions; which are taken
from W. C. Sharpe's History of Sermour, the original descriptions
being now almost indecipherable.
Susanna, wife of Lieut. Thomas Clark, died Apr. I, 1768.
aged 29 years.
Phoebe, wife of David Johnson, Aug. 6, 1777, in the 47th year
of her age.
In memory of Joseph Riggs, son of Mr. Joseph and Mistress
Anna Riggs, who departed this life March 22, 1794, in the
8th year of his age.
Joseph Riggs died Mar. 19, 1791, in the 38th year of his age,
who was a pattern of industry, a friend to virtue, and a
pillar of society.
In memory of David Johnson Riggs, son of Mr. Joseph and
Mistress Anna Riggs, who departed this life March 24th,
1794, in the 15th year of his age.
In memory of Mrs. Sarah, relict of Mr. Benajah Johnson, who
departed this life May 7, 1773, aged 72 years.
Thomas Clark, died Oct. 11, 1797, aged 33 years.
Col. Ebenezer Johnson gave to his son Timothy land at Pines-
bridge, located on the east side of the Naugatuck river, and upon
it Timothy built a house about 1725, the house being located south-
east of where hlr. Jones now lives on the old road, near the orchard.
The other son of Ebenezer, Charles, received the land located on
west side of the Naugatuck river just below the ford. Some of this
land is still in the family.
Pinesbridge was the locality two miles north of the Falls where
the Johnsons bought land previous to 1703 Of the Indians, and
came here to settle about 1720. A little red house still stands on
the hill above the road on the east side which was the home of
Alesander Johnson, the son of Timothy and Abigail Brewster. a
descendant of Elder Wm. Brewster of the Mayflower, who were
married in 1725. Alexander was born 1730 and married Dec. 30,
1755. which date represents nearly the date of the house. It is
probable that Timothy did not live there, but rather south near the
ford of the river, below the pines and cemetery. Alexander gave the
ground for the cemetery near 1795, after which the old cemetery on
Rimmon road was deserted. The great white pines add beauty to
this solemn place. The first burial was that of Timothy Johnson,
July 23, 1791 Ale?rander Johnson was also buried here. He died
Sept. 8, 1817, aged 87 years.
It is said that Alexander was very much troubled by the wild
beasts coming down from Rock Rimmon to the injury of crops and
flocks. In connection with the history of the Indian Chuse, there
was mentioned as the most famous hunters among the whites the
names of Alexander Johnson and Gideon Washburn.
The little red house has but few rooms, includingthe
small hall, facing the west. The south room contzins a
medium sized fireplace with a large flat stone in the back,
--a stone as taken from the fields, giving the fireplase an
artistic and primitive appeaance. The view across the
valley is a sightly one, and the house with the hill for a
background reminds one of
the pictures of a Swiss cottage. In the rear of the house is a little
porch set back under the roof with stone floor. As every house
has a spirit about it, so this one has, giving one the feeling that it
is better to be absent than to be present.
The great rock on Bungay is on the estate of Robert Healey,
northwest of his house. This estate formerly covered a large
tract of land, more than a century ago, belonging to Abner Tibbals,
who was a school teacher and farmer. In 1794 Abraham Bassett
bought the estate, and three generations of Bassetts lived upon it.
In 1816, 59 acres located on West street were given to his son
Samuel. In 1874 Robert Healey became owner. Clover Bassett
raised the old house making two stories, three generations ago.
On going up the Bungay road more than a mile westward from
the Falls there is a rise of 403 ft., the views eastward being of the
finest and most varied for a country road. This was the locality of
several of the early families, the Canfields, Botsfords, and Miles.
The region was a part of the Camps Mortgage, and when it was
divided among the proprietors Riarch 12, 1702, section No. 10 was
set off to the Widow Miles, wife of Samuel, the land extending
from the Bungay road to the Naugatuck river. Jonathan, son of
Widow Miles, built a house on this land about 1724, and left two
Theophilus born Feb. 11, 1730, and Jonathan 2nd, born 1745.
Theophilus had a son born Nov. 27, 1778, who married Freelove
Nettleton and had six children, Mary Jennett, who married Isaac
Rotsford; Clark; Lucretia, who married Jabez Pritchard; John;
Sarah, who married Judson Canfield, and Sheldon Miles, now living
in an octagonal house which he built in 1855 on the southern slope
of the ancestral lands.
The Miles house now standing was built about 1768, a large,
square, two story house, facing the west, with foundation 32x40
feet. The square stone chimney 12x13 feet foundation rises above
the roof ; the house is red, and homelike in its appearance. The
fireplaces are of the generous size, and many have been the occa-
sions when the family circle gathered about the fickering fire.
Seven generations have come to the shelter of this old homestead
and have gone forth again, and now the name Clark-Chatfield des-
ignates the old place. The ancient surroundings invite one's atten-
tion, as the great high stone posts for the gates to swing upon, the
old stone walls covered with moss and age. The next house south
was also an old Miles homestead, said to have been Jonathan Miles',
2nd a small red house.
Some distance south, on the east of the road, on the crown of
the hill, there stands a small red house known as the Isaac Bots-
ford place, built by Clark Botsford 1816, with a little veranda set
into the corner, covered by the main roof. Lovers of nature
pause to take a view of the broad landscape from the crown of this
hill,-a view that lingers in memory.
Near by is the Bungay school where many generations of the
boys and girls began their distinguished career. This was the local-
ity deeded to Joseph Canfield in 1747, two houses near by have
held families by the Canfield name. At the Canfield homestead,
Sheldon Miles when a boy was thrown into the well by the break-
ing of the well-sweep. The water was deep, and he was not
injured. He is now living, 84 years of age, this year 1901. The
old homestead stood second from the schoolhouse, on the east side
of the road, a large house facing the south, two stories in front, one
in rear, after the style of the early houses and very similar to the
Samuel f5otsford house as illustrated in another place. This loca-
has been chosen for a summer residence because of good air and
wonderful natural beauty.
Judson Canfield built the new house a little north of the old one,
a pleasant two story house. Joseph of a recent generation liveel. in
the little old one story house on the corner south of the Bungay
schoolhouse, now the home of T. Brennan.
Because of the familiar name of Botsford. there will be much
interest taken in a view of the old Samuel Botsford homesteatl, and
its history. Located on the southern slope down the Bungay road
from the old Canfield place, the first house on the west side, facing
the east, two stories, and one on the west, the roof sloping very
low to the height of the door. A few rods below runs a little brook.
All about there are marks of an old homestead, as the old weli-
sweep and the well-curb itself, the great maples and the stone
walls, the old swing gate balanced on a post and the old flags
growing but a little distance back. On the first floor there are six
finished rooms, around a ver?- large stone chimney, all stone to the
very top. Differing from many of the ancient homes, all the second
and third stories are combined in one room, in appearance like a
great barn loft like a scaffold, reached by a wide ladder. Here the
chimney is very large with a single fire place on the south side.
There was no attempt to finish off this upper story, that still
remains in its primitive state with the plank lining, or siding, left
rough and very irregular, a most realistic illustration of how the
people lived in early times. A generation or so ago, one little
room, including a single window, has been done off from the great
A generation ago, the house was said to have been 150 years
old, or at the present time about 175 years old, one of the oldest in
the town. This would be about the date of the marriage of Samuel
Botsford, which was in 1726. The same year that Samuel Bots-
ford was married, he received from his father, Samuel, of Milford,
80 acres of land in the Camp's Mortgage Purchase. Before this
John Prindle owned land on Bungay and sold to Samuel Botsford.
June 29, 1722. (John Prindle was in Derby as early as 1677) This
same tract Samuel Botsford Ist sold to his son Samuel, 80 acres of
land bounded south by the common land, east by the highway, north
by Abiram Canfield, west with the high way. This sale took place
Dec. 31, 1726
Evidently Samuel, son of Samuel, was the one who lirst occn-
pied this estate. Nehemiah, son of Samuel, left this house to his
wife for life then to his daughters. Asa Cooper, marrying one of
the daughters, bought the rights of the others. Still later all
Andrews entered the family, and at present the old homestead is
occupied by George Andrews and his sister, Mrs. Adelaide William-
Another house belonging to this Botsford family was occupied
by Nehemiah Botsford, doubtless having been built on the original
estate. This was a small one story house southward below the
brook, once an old looking house, but in recent years the large
chimney has been removed, a new one built, and the rooms have
been changed, now belonging to the Water Co. The first Nehemiah
Botsford was married in 1766. His son Nehemiah was a man sen-
sitive to religious impressions, and one day while in the field he
heard a clear voice speaking to him, saying, "It is high time to
awake out of sleep !" As there was no one to be seen, he regarded
this message as ;I divine warning. From that day he was a different
man. Uecom;ng interested in religion, he was converted and lived
a better life. He was chosen deacon in the Congregational church,
serving well for many years, and to this date he is spoken of as
Deacon Nehemiah Botsford, a true prophet in his Christian faith,
died 1842, age 65. This was also the home of his daughter, Maria
Botsford. Abram Collins married Sarah, the daughter of Nehemiah
Botsford, and lived in this little house. That region seemed to be
one where strange voices were heard, for Abram Collins had a sim-
ilar experience to that of Nehemiah Botsford, for while returning
to his home one day, he also heard a voice above his head, "Abram !
Swear not at all!" It is said that he obeyed the summons, and
ceased swearing from that day.
On leaving the Bungar road, either at the old Miles place, or
the Bungay schoolhouse, and going westward towards the Great
Hill schoolhouse, there is an old homestead located on the second
four corners, facing the west, a small story and a half house, with
a large two story addition on the south. The old stone chimney
stands in contrast with the new. Ezra Botsford built the small
house about 100 years ago and raised a large family. This family
of Botsfords were large people, more than six feet in height, and
some of the men weighed 300 pounds. As a matter of fact, in the
early history, there were many large and strong men who were
grown up on Great Hill. This was later the home of Timothy Sco-
field, who was a great singer; and still later the home of Cyrus Bots-
ford, who raised a large family of seventeen children. Cyrus was a
music teacher and chorister, being thus engaged as early as 1810.
This little home was the place of large activities, and this little
hive has swarmed again and again. For many years the interior
of this house was not finished off, according to modern ideas, or
the modern term, but remained in its rough and primitive appear-
ance until within a half a century. In recent years, this has been
known as the home of Marcus Davis, who had many sons and
daughters to gladden the old homestead. CTnder his wise manage-
ment, the place was improved, the new two stoty addition was
built, thus combining the ancient and modern home. The new part
was built in 1873 A few rods just across the four corners, there
is another old landmark of a well still in use. Marcus Davis still
occupies this home in his old age, at the opening of the twentieth
century. He was born in the old Davis homestead, located on the
Davis corners towards the schoolhouse.
But before describing that locality, it is well to point out two
or three Uotsford homes located on the road north of the Marcns
Davis place. One of these was the home of Curtis Kotsford,
known as " Curt," built in 1787, now the home of Edward Shay.
These houses are some distance apart, and one of them was occ;-
pied later by a Hawkins family. Another Hawkins family earl
occupied the place where now lives Hildebrand, and where man-
years ago there was found in an old deserted oven, an account booli,
that was used at Derby dock in 1760: this was a large book, non-
In possession of John Kiggs. This Hawkins-Hildebrand place is
north on the mountain road that joins the Osford road at the S.
W. Buckingham place.
Great Hill was early the most important part of town. Tho
section was purchased from the Indians in 1670, but in 1702 much
of it was included in the Camps' mortgage, which was divided up
soon after this date. There is a fragment of histor\, stating that
"Jonas Tomlinson, emigrant, settled on Great Hill about 1680.
He had two sons, Jonas and Agur." Samuel Bassett has generall\-
been regarded as the first to settle on his land on the south side
about 1717. Previous to 1745 a road was laid out over Great Hill
and Rockhouse Hill on to Woodbury. This road or path is men-
tioned in deeds as early as 1693. The Great Kill region covers a
territory two miles east and west, and three miles north and south,
the highest point being 610 feet, from which the widest views ma\-
be had of the country, hills, valleys, and the waters of the Sound.
For a hundred Sears there has been but little change in the
general appearance of this region, for it bears the marks of New
England thrift and industry, in the wide fields, long standing homes,
some of which are small, and others large and stately, indicating
the stability of the period of prosperity. However, the great
changes are marked by the generations that have gone, declining
of the farming industry, and decreasing population. If anything,
at present there is a reviving, by increasing activity on the farms,
and especially the peach orchard of many thousand trees, under
the management of M. L. Coleman. The old houses still show
that much time and labor was required to build them, after the
heavy timbers were prepared,and also the shingles, when the
house was to be shingled on all sides.
Some of the upper rooms have never been finished off, remain-
inn very much the same as when built. The general plan of one
will serve for most of the larger houses. Two rooms in front with
narrow hall and winding stairs between, the large chimney in the
center, fireplaces, and the long kitchen, or living room at the rear,
with a small room at one end. When the house is square, there is
often an ell; but when a long sloping back roof, there is space for
the smaller rooms about the living room. Some have stone chim-
neys to the top, as brick was not then to be had, at least not
preferred. Some are shingled all over, the shingles being shaved
by hand, enduring the weather beating storms for a century and a
half. Now and then a huge well-sweep is still to be seen with its
ancient grace In dipping up the living waters. Some of these
houses are on the old stage road to Waterbury and have served as
taverns in their early days.
The ancient furniture is set aside for the modern. The people
themselves have been religious, loyal, patriots, contributing strength
to the cause of freedom. The moss grown orchards are to be found
here, sometimes in the very edge of the forests, so long have they
been neglected, and also with them came the cider brandy mills
which have wrought the work of error. By the side of the brook,
there is still to be seen the ruin of the last of these; and another
ruin caused by brandy and rum has touched some of the young
men, who had not the endurance of their ancestors, the pioneers.
The Tomlinson-Keardsley-Davis-Scranton place is located on
what is known as the Davis' corners on the Great Hill and Wood-
bury road. Being one of the best locations on Great Hill, it is
doubtless one of the oldest. It may yet be learned that this was
the homestead of Jonas Tomlinson who came to this region about
1680. Some time following the Revolution, Russell Tomlinson
built the old house over, making a large house, and the best in all
the country round about. He was called Squire Russell, and his
place became one of the taverns (or stopping places) in the days
of overland transportation of merchandise from the Derby landing
up country to Woodbury. Evidentl?- Squire Russell was one of
the leading men in this vicinity.
About 1795 this estate passed into the hands of James Beards-
ley who held it for 15 or 18 years. At the beginning of the War of
1812, Anson Da\is, son of Col. John, came from Osford, and the
old homestead on Chestnut-tree Hill, and took possession. Anson
had a family of ten children, among whom were Rev. Sheldon, the
rector, Samuel P. sncl Marcus. During his time, improvements
and additions were made. Anson was followed by his son Samuel
P. who carried on the large estate until his sudden death near the
close of 1891, the place having remained in the family 80 or more
years. A period of gloom overshadowed this fine homestead at the
time of the death of Samuel P. and nearly all the household, sev-
eral in number, including the help. The severity of the disease was
intensified by typhoid fever, thought to have originated from the
well. The contagion was terrible, judging from the results. How-
ever, recovering from that period of gloom, there was begun
another period of sunshine and prosperity, when atout 1895 the
estate passed iuto the possession of Abraham Scranton, whose
promising family may keep it in their possession for a century yet
Located on the corner, this place is the most attractive of all in
the region, the same as it was a century and more ago. In front there
is a row of large maple trees, a neat fence, a large open yard and field
to the south and east. The house faces the west and south, is very
large, two stories, with a large ell on northeast corner, the well and
entrance to the cellar being located in the middle on the north
side. The north side looks the most ancient, but on the whole it
is not an old looking house because of being so well built and well
preserved. Everything about the house is of the generous order.
For a great many years there were chambers that did not have the
modern finish, being left unfinished like many other houses. Fre-
quent reference is made to the large stone step at the south front
door. Priest Abner Smith bearded here previous to his departure,
then an old man of more than 80 years, in 1829.
As early as r7/'5 there was preaching in the schoolhouse at the
foot of the hill towards the brook, and soon after petition was
made for a separate society, which was granted, their first meeting
being held on Sept. to, 1779 This was "The Great Hill Society."
The church was built in 1781, mostly by Capt. John Holbrook, who
was a noble and generous man, an earnest and strong patriot, hav-
ing given three sons to the American army. Capt. John was a man
of great wealth, having many hundred acres, woodland, and a saw-
mill. From his large resources he gathered the material and built
the Great Hill meeting house on his own land. In 1786 the Rev.
Abner Smith was engaged to be the pastor of this I' Great Hill
Society." He was titled " Priest Smith," and remained as their
faithful pastor and preacher until 1829.
The old Congregational church, sometimes called the Presby-
terian, was located a few rods from the Tomlinson-Davis place,
across the road southward, near where the angle is to be seen in
the stone wall. A part of the building stood where the road now
runs. The church was a plain looking structure facing the south,
shingled on all sides, without porch or spire, having three or four
windows on each side, two windows on the south end, the door
being in the center, with stone steps. The interior was plain and
simple in its furnishings. Humble looking as this church was, for
many years it was the center of interest and activity of the Great
Hill and Rockhouse Hill people. Other denominations worshipped
in it; the town meetings were held there every third year, and from
1830 to 1852 it was used for school purposes, at last being divided
by a partition. It was dismantled and removed in 1852, much to the
grief of some of the old members of the church. Some of the timbers
of the church are still preserved in the barns on the Bassett place,
nearest the parsonage and home of Priest Abner Smith.
The recollection of Marcus Davis brings us nearer to the old
times than those of any other man living, unless it be those of
Sheldon Miles, both of whom are over 80 years of age. Marcus
Davis speaks of the old times when Rev. Abner Smith hoarded at
his father's house, then an agetl man of more than eighty years.
Though a little boy himself, he rernernbers the seasons of devotion
which seemed very long to him. He speaks also of the school davs
of seventy years ago, the big boys and the big men; the time when
the boys of twenty-five years went to school, but not having the am-
bition to learn. A part of the schooling then consisted in the de-
velopment of muscle anti mischief, and who could handle the
school master or put him out of the school house.
The best teacher was the one who could keep on the inside of
the schoolhouse, and the best pupil was the one who could put the
teacher out. It may have been a case of a "little learning " beings
a dangerous thing. Ty'et ,, recognize the high attainments which
some made in the line of education. One is reminded of the clans
of an earlier date, while listening to the stories of the common
meeting ground of the Great Hillers, Rockhouse Hillers, and the
Hell mners. with their particular traits and singular virtues. A
school of sixty of these sturdy young men and girls demanded a
master who was the master. It would be difficult to reproduce this
" Deestrict School." Other recollections cluster about the old
school, the meeting house and the great family gatherings, all of
which are matters of history to the present generation. The once
familiar names now have no living representative, and the thought
of this brought an expression of sadness upon the face of him who
has told us of these things.
Sheldon Miles relates his experience, when but a small bo-.
From the old homestead on the Bungay road he would walk to
Great Hill to attend evening meetings, and still remembers that
-eventy years ago, 1830, there was a company of old men who were
very active in the church, and especially in the prayer meetings,
both earnest and spiritual to the profit of all.
From the old Davis homestead---now Scranton---land was taken
to make another homestead, known as the Capt. Abel Holbrook
place, a little distance south. The house was built by a Mr. Whit-
ney, there being two men by that name during the period of the
Revolutionary war. It appears that Capt. Abel Holbrook was a
soldier in the Revolution, and in due time occupied this place,
which was pleasantly located facing the west, a large two stor.
house bearing the marks of age. On the southeast corner, there
was a large addition which made the house quite spacious, anti,
like many old homes on this road within a mile, this was usetl as ;I
tavern. Its general appearance is stately, large, and spacious, be-
ing overshadowed by several large cherry trees. The general
plan and rooms are very much like those described. Some distance
from the road and north of the house, there is a well and 3 fine old
well-sweep, which makes one of the finest pictures of its kind hav-
ing the orehard for a back ground. The barns are across the high-
way westward. This Holbrook family represented one of the
swarms which came from the old Holbrook "hive, " that will be
Still going south, the first old red one story house on the right
is worthy of mention because of its age, and being hidden among
the low lying branches of the trees. About a hundred and fifty
years ago this was a Bassett place.
Our interest is now turned to the old parsonage built in 1788, a
little distance below, the home of Priest Abner Smith, the pastor of
the Congregational church 1786-1829. Beautiful for situation, it is
located on the highest point of Great Hill, on the west side of the
highway, facing east, a good sized gambrel roofed house in good
repair, and well preserved, now the home of J. W. Tornlinson. In
front stand the old cherry trees, and the big swing gate, balanced
on a post, guarding the entrance on the south. The
north upper room was used for a study by the parson.
and the book case is still in place under the gambrel roof.
In the front north room, another reminder of former
days may be seen, the old corner closet, where were
kept the liquid refreshments, which was thought at that
time to be one of the social
necessities. It is said that the parson suffered a little because of
this custom, due to the social generosity of his people, especially
on those days when he made a great many calls. These visits to
his scattered congregation he made on horseback, and was always
able to return in the same manner that he went.
From this place estensive farms cover the southern slope em-
bracing homesteads of other families, that have had a large part
in the affairs of Great Hill. The wide landscape reaches out until
it meets the Sound and the ships, seen from afar.
From the Davis-Scranton corners, the road extends west and
northward. Near this turn is another corner, where the latest
and present schoolhouse is situated, being finished about Jan. 1,
1878. This a neat and pleasant building, where few are taught
as compared to the most prosperous days of the people.
One cannot fail to observe the picturesque and conspicuous
house just west of the schoolhouse, on a rise of ground, as the hill
begins to slope westward and north. Pleasant beyond expectation,
the house is large, two stories, facing the east and south, shingled
on all sitles, and well preserved. This is known as the hloses Fan-
ton place, the house being built by him in 1781· The present own-
ers are twin brothers, Julius H. and Junius N. Benham, who are
now old men. These are the brothers who lived where the RECORD
office now is. The Benham brothers have in their keeping the old
communion service used by the Episcopal people on Grest Hill in
the early history of that church, and also several chairs that formerly
belonged to Kector Smith, some seventy years ago.
From the present schoolhouse northward there is a long hill,
near the foot of which there is another locality of much interest,
because of the meeting of the four roads, the Great Hill road over
which we have gone, the Hell Lane road from the north, the
Rockhouse Hill road that extends west over the hill towards Wood-
bury, and the Squantuck road from the Housatonic river and
Squantuck section. Three interests have been centered here,
namely, the Methodist church, the tavern, and school.
Considering the youngest institution first, the Methodist church,
we recall that this region was one of the first strongholds for R;ieth-
odism in Connecticut, beginning soon after 1790. They had no
church of their own until their present church was built and dedi-
cated Oct. zj, 1854, being still in use. Besides the work given the
cost was $880.
THE Tavern.-Somewhere near the corner of the meeting of
the roads near the present M. E. church there was a house kept by
Capt. Gillett, a tavern, road house, and hotel, all combined, where
were entertained a great many people, and in the order of events
the place became known as the "Hell House." Following events
led to the name of one of the roads as Hell Lane, extending north-
ward past the Holbrook, and west by the Gunn and Nettleton
places. The exact location of this famous house has disappeared
and is not known.
THE SCHOOL. The first and oldest schoolhouse stood about
opposite the M. E. church, where the barn stands on the Treat
place. Mention of this school is made as early as 1766. The
Great Hill school had sixty scholars, big fellows, in the early times,
it being the custom then, of attending school winters until twentv-
five years of age. Little learning was one quality in the school
life, and the best scholar was the one who could put out the teacher
and the best teacher was the one who would not be put out. This
was the meeting place of the Great Hillers, six-footers, and the
Hell Laners. who lived in the valleys where the brandy mills were,
and the Rockhouse Hillers, who, like the historic Lot, pitched
their tents towards the valley; and the Squantuckites from the
river. In 1830 there was an exciting discussion about schoolhouse
privileges. As a result of this discussion the church for a time was
used for school purposes. About the same time the schoolhouse
was built at the foot of the hill, near the M. E. church, now used
for a horse shed.
There were numerous cider brandy mills in the valley of this
Four-Mile Brook and the region about, one of the last being located
near the brook west of the M. E. church, on the north side of the
road. This continued in operation until 1888, when it finished
business anl clo;ed up ; the foundation is still to be seen. The
one near the Gann-Nettlrton place, on '' Tite's Corners,'' was closed
up about 1863, and now there is nothing to mark its location.
Notwithstanding this old time brandy business there were many
noted families and names connected with this local history, and
some of these were on the Squantuck road and along the Housa-
tonic river, besides an old mill, and a road house of considerable
fame. But this region is now more closely related to Derby.
Rockhouse Hill, sometimes called Rocker's Hill, rises wesf-
ward from the Four-Mile Brook to the height of 590 feet, and, to-
gether with the encircling hills north and east, forms a great basin,
or hopper, with here and there an old farm house adjoining an
extensive farm. From these encircling hills the views are beauti-
ful, even grand. On the very summit of Kockhouse Hill there
stands an old hoase south from the road and some distance back,
facing the north.
The house is two stories in front, with roof sloping back to
one, with a very large chimney. On the north and east there is a
terrace, with the old time cherry trees to make the place more an-
cient looking. The entrance to the cellar is on the east terrace.
Like some other old houses, this one has a spirit peculiar to
itself, impressing one while wandering through the unfinished rooms.
for only one, the front room, has been finished, painted and paper-
ed. This looks out upon the road and the wild scenery beyond,
down into the valley and beyond in stretches of beauty.
The other rooms appear in their rude, unfinished state, with
no ceiling but the timbers and floor above. This house is without
a hall. The cold of winter must have found free accesss through
many thin places and cracks to the outer world. A feeling of prim-
itive simplicity comes to one while looking into these rooms where
a stove never stood, yet where many have lived and slept the sleep
of the just.
The kitchen occupies the center of the back part, with a fire-
place about ten feet across and near four feet deep, having two
huge ovens directly back, one each side of the fire, about four feet
apart. The fireplace has been described to be large enough to
roast an ox in it. Doubtless with this great chimney heated, the
house would feel a little less like winter.
One peculiar thing about the house differs from all others
known is the way to the upper story; instead of stairs of wood
there are stone steps made of long stone laid into and supported b.
the chimney. It is very uncommon to have stone steps to the
attic. Among other attractive things a few rears ago were several
pieces of ancient furniture, not then discovered by the antique
"hunter." This old home, known in more recent pears as the
Truman Tomlinson place, has sheltered one of the best families in
New England, and doubtless some in the cities, who have spent
their youth here, look back in fond recollection of those sacred
memories that cluster about the old homestead that has braved the
blasts of one and a half centuries. Glancing back there stands
the long stone wall, supporting wooden posts, rails gone, holes
gone, ?et the sides stantl moss coveretl with age.
This was a Tomlinson place. The house was built by Joseph
Tomlinson in I/~75, fo' his half brother Isaac, who was married
Dec. 19, 1775 There is a tradition that the house was standing
about 1750, being one of the oldest in that region. As already in-
dicated, Tomlinson was among the first to settle on Great Hill.
The name Isaac appears in several generations, and also the name
Jonas. Sarah, the dau. to Jonas, married Andrew Smith May 21,
1696. Jonas was the father to Joseph, and Isaac his half brother
was son to John Tomlinson, who died Nov. 1756, aged 70. Joseph
was appointed guardian of his half brother Isaac 1756 Some sixty
years ago this old home passed into the hands of the Lum family.
These Lum families were prominent in the early affairs and history
of the town. Two of their homesteads were located east of the
Tomlinson place just described. The first house east is of a later
date, where lived the widow Lum to the great age of 97 years, her
death being caused by choking while eating. E. J. Leavenworth
is now living here. The old original house has disappeared, but
formerly stood a number of feet eastward from the present house.
The other Lum homestead is now the Henry Treat place, the
present house having been built about a hundred years ago. The
old house stood back of the present one, and a little west there was
a small room where the slave of the family lived. This room re-
mained until recent years. In those days it was a mark of social
distinction among some families to have a slave. Only two other
slaves are mentioned as living among the farmers of this locality.
The Holbrooks owned one, the Nettletons the other, Titus and old
black "Sim." The Treat family came from Ouaker Farms, next
south of the stone house belonging to the Griffin family. The old
home of their fathers has fallen into decay; their present home is
one very pleasantly located, beneath the great elm, a house of two
stories, well built, facing the north, back from the road, with a fine
The name Lum often appears in the records of the town in
connection with school matters. Still another Lum family lived on
the Squantuck road.
Among the prominent names are those of the Russell families,
who livedin thetwo houses east of the H. Treat place, the two
sons of Timothy, Samuel, living in the one story house, and Joseph,
who lived in the nest two story house, near the highway. This
last was used as an "inn " in the time of the Revolution and since.
Both of these houses were standing as early as the Revolution.
The name Samuel Russell frequently appears in the records of the
town as holding some office. This road was one of the most fre-
quented because of being the direct route to Derby dock.
On the left and north is another substantial looking old house,
now owned by Mr. Francis, but formerly belonging to the Smith
family,-a name of long standing in the region, one of whom,
Ephraim, bought the place of Mr. Waters, and conducted the
brandy mill now in ruins by the brook below. This house stands
back many rods from the road on the shelf-like portion of the hill,
from which there are beautiful views of the valley and hills. When
the sun is declining, the most conspicuous object is the little cem-
etery a mile away eastward with the white marble stones marking
the place of the dead.
Returning from Rockhouse Hill to the little Methodist church
and 1-he little deserted schoolhouse by thecorners, the first house
north stantls back from the old Hell Lane road, to the west anti
across the I,rook, approached by a lane from the highway. This is
the old Christopher Smith homestead, one of the most picturesque
places within the Great Hill region. Ueing so locatedin the center
of the valley and near the brook, and being surrounded by the en-
circling hills, this old home makes a picture rarely surpassed, as
seen among New England hills. On going down the lane there are
two gates some distance from the house and on the east side of the
brook, one gate for teams, the other a narrow gate by its side, not
a common arrangement in these days. These two gates remind
one of the work of Sir Isaac Newton who cut two holes in his study
door, one for the old cat, the other a small one for the kitten. The
use of the small gate was a matter of convenience when on foot, or
for cattle. Crossing the bridge, the driveway led to the south of
the house, the house facing the east, a large two story red dwelling,
with only one story on the west side, the house being shingled all
over. The usual large stone chimney, and also the arrangement of
rooms are after the old plan. The back door is low and very near
This is one of the typical old New England homesteads, with
surrounding trees, orchards, and a number of farm wagons, carts,
old and new, to complete the surroundings. The stone walls about
the sheds, yards, and barn, give more than usual appearance of
thrift and security. A visit to this home will long linger in mem-
ory. Christopher Smith is said to have built this house in 1774
Another house probably stood here a generation before, though
this may have been the first one, and older than the date men-
tioned. Among the five generations of Smiths living here are the
names of Christopher, John, and Edgar, who was the last to in-
herit and use the estate, but not long. While in a demented con-
dition he shot himself, 1893.
Not because he was poor did he take his life, for he had in his
possession more than $25,000 in money besides the estate. Now
deserted by the family there is a depressing loneliness about this
old homestead when one recalls its past history and the work
of five generations ago.
Some distance north from the old Smith homestead on the
main road, there stands the old "hive," a large square two story
red house shingled all over. Located on the east side of the road
it faces the west looking toward the brook and Rockhouse Hill.
Besides the front door, there is one near the corner on the
south. This corner door is common in the homes of the period.
With the ell on the east side, the house is roomy and well
worthy of the name of " hive." It was built by John Holbrook
for his son John in 1745. There may have been a house on the
same foundation or near, occupied by John Holbrook as stated in
connection with the boundary. John Holbrool;
raised a large family here, and many were the times
of swarming during its history, hence the name
of the old "hive." Six generations, John, John,
Daniel, S. D. Russell and others have been sheltered
beneath the broad roof and within the spacious
rooms through passing joys and sorrows.
Looking once more upon the old "hive" surrounded with
fences, giving it a shut-in appearance, the great maple and the
rock by the roadside, one beholds another picture where the
swarming has ceased with the great family here, and a new but
sad period of history has already begun.
It was John Holbrook who gave the land for the cemetery
which was located on the corner of his farm not far eastward from
his dwelling, a beautiful place on a low-lying hill of a dozen feet
or so, -and with the many white stones is the most conspicuous ob-
ject from the encircling hills. More by far are buried here than
there are living in the region round about. The first to be buried
here was Joseph Canfield. The full inscription is as follows:
" Here lies the body of Joseph Canfield, the first deacon of the
church at the Great Hill in Derby, and the first person buried in
this yard. Died July 14, A. D. 1784, in the Faith and Hope of the
Gospel, aged 65 years.
Also Sarah Canfield.
" In memory of Sarah Canfield, relict of Deacon Joseph Can-
field, who departed this life January 25th, 1793, in the 67th year of
her age. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord"--Sharpe's
Hist., vol. 2, p. gr.
Again going north on the old Hell Lane road for a considerable
distance, one will come to another corner, slid to have been called
in the olden time,''Tite's Corners." Titus was a slave belonging
to John Holbrook, and desired to enter the Revolutionary war to
fight for the independence of the colonies. As all the sons of
John were in the army, Titus was persuaded to remain and help
his master until the war was over, and then receive his freedom and
a tract of land. This he did. And in due time it is said that
Titus built a little house eastward from the corners, which for a
long time was known as " Tite's Corners," and the lane known as
Titus' lane. This is in the north part of the valley. From these
corners, what is now known as the Hell Lane road begins and
extends westward to Quaker Farms. Somewhere near the north
corner of these roads, there stood the old brandy mill already re-
Many years ago an Episcopal clergyman frequently visited his
parishioners, who were located in this Hell Lane region, and on
one occasion when he returned after making parish calls, said that
the region was rightly named.
Northwest from "Tite's Corners," and also in the
north part of the valley referred to, very near the
Four Mile Brook and at the base of a great hill
rising to the north, there stands the old red house
known as the Capt. Nettleton place. Though the
builder was forgotten, his name was Capt. Abel Gunn
who lived here as early as
1740 His name is mentioned when the new society at Oxford was
being planned, the south boundary being at the "brook and bridge
between the dwelling houses of Abel Gunn and John Holbrook."
Agnes Gunn, the daughter of Abel Gunn, married Josiah
Nettleton in 1761. Among the seven children there was a son who
became Capt. Josiah Nettleton, who lived on the old homestead
for more than eighty years. He was captain of the militia. L)ur-
ing the following years, John Riggs, and still later Abraharn Scran-
toll lived here, and several others.
The house is located on a knell west of "Tite's Corners" and
the brook, facing the south. In all the region about, there is not
a house like it in shape, or architectural design. The overreaching
roofs give it the appearance, on the end, of the shape of an Indiarr
arrow head or spear head, The extended roof, without any up-
right supports, form a! veranda on both sides of the house.
It is a large one story and a half house, there being room for
two windows in the second story, and two smaller windows in the
There are two large chimneys, eight fireplaces, a wide hall
running through the house from south to north, with double
"dutch" doors, that is the upper and lower parts opening separate-
ly. There is another such door in the house. At the east and
front side of the basement there was a large, high kitchen, having
a fireplace on the north side sufficiently large to receive an eight
foot log in the back. The door to this kitchen is at the east end,
near the front corner.
On the west end of the house there is a large ell which contains
the kitchen and other rooms, also a smoke-house built in the chim-
ney. Over the kitchen was a little room where for many years lived
the slave known as old "Black Sim." Sim was a faithfulslave,
and when he received his freedom, he had no desire to leave his old
master, so he served well, remaining here as long as he lived. Very
few remember old "Black Sim."
In the west room up stairs, there was an old loom where weav-
ing was an industry for many years, and together with the other
wheels about the house, there was little need of a shopping day.
As one now looks upon this strange red house shingled on its
broad east end, and see the long window of the basement kitchen
and the broad porch without the usual supports, and the well near
the west front corner, there appears the very picture of one and a
half centuries ago, but all who dwelt there are gone.
On Hell Lane just west of the Nettleton place is a red house
of two stories where lived, among others, Capt'n Jim Beardsley,
who, like many others, had a local reputation and his home became
the center for the gathering of the spiritualists of the mystical or-
der. It is not stated as to their communication with the spirits of
darkness, or with the spirits of light. If every old house has an
occupant or more of the spirit nature, doubtless they are present
on their old camping ground. Great Hill reminds one of Vermont,
having representatives of all known religious sects.
Beyond this place is still another, standing as a landmark of
former activities; and some distance beyond out on a cross road
southward is another brandy mill, that belonged to the English broth-
ers, which has left the trail of the serpent in that vicinity. Notwith-
standing this extreme of life, Great Hill has been noted from its
early history for men of patriotism and faith.
So many noted places recorded in history were near, and so
many noted battles have been fought upon the border of some
peach orchard, that we will not leave these old landmarks without
mentioning another noted peach orchard upon the very border of
the region that has been described.---a region once noted for its
prosperity and distinguished familes, a region rich in soil and beau-
tiful for situation, a region which now causes the long absent son
and daughter to shed a tear over the marks made by death and
time upon those homes made sacred by early associations.
From ever point of the valley anti encircling hills, looking
northward, there rises gracefully that large, round hill, covered
with a peach orchard of more than eighty acres and near 20,000
trees. In springtime this was a hill of flowers, in summer a hill
of the richest fruit.
Close at hand, there is another chapter
of history, known only to the oldest residents
living, to the hunters and woodsmen. The
region north and northeast of the peach
orchards is now dotted over with cellar-holes,
overgrown with trees and bushes, marking
the former homes of many families, long
since departed. The wilderness has claimed
them, hiding those old landmarks so effect-
ually. that neither path nor road can be found lending to them.
The hunter alone disturbs those solitudes of the wilderness.
While riding along the old turnpikes, there is now and then
pointed out a gate-house, against which in olden times the road-
gate swung. Many of the houses are now being forgotten. How-
ever, there is one old gate-house still standing on the east side of
Kimrnon pond, the tirst north of the iron watering tank, between
the pond and the road.
Just below the watering tank, on the east side of the road,
there stands a house conspicuous because of its architecture, a low
lying, ancient looking structure. It was built by John Storrs on
the sandbank southward, but as there was no water to be had there,
it was moved to its present location and is now the home of the
Our search after old landmarks now ends and we return to The
Falls. The waters here rose on the first of March, rgoo, to the
height of near 17 feet until all the rocks were covered, the river
banks more than full, dashing and foaming in the mad race to-
wards the sea. I)ut only a few hours passed, when the river re-
turned to its natural and common place. So is the flight of time,
the making of history. the experience of our lives, at the greatest
height at one time, but mostly in the natural and common level.
The old homes are but landmarks along the river of time, and
while we have considered these as the humble and more spacious
dwellings of men, our history is not complete without a look at one
who has been a builder of home and church and state,-the " old
The " old man" has more than passed the span of life, four
score years. He still lives upon the southern slope of his ancestral
lands, where in graceful curves the fields estend toward the river
and woodlands. He looks eastward across the valley upon the
real pictures of nature, growing more beautiful with his years.
His dwelling is not of the ancient type, rather it is octagonal
in shape, two stories, always receiving the light from the morning
to the evening. Encircling his grounds at his very door runs the
swift brook, adding both music and a charm to his quiet home.
The roadway winds from afar along the hillside, by the side of a
great rock covered with a grapevine, and nearer still the long arbor
shades the path to his quarters. To many, he would appear lone-
some and alone; but he is not alone. The enlarged house makes
room for a son and children. Their happy faces drive away the
care of years. Yet he is alone. The companion of many years
has fallen asleep, now resting in the narrow home of waiting.
In the bright March sunlight, the trees about his dwelling shine
with a shimmering light, intensifying the natural beauty and giving
a new warmth as often seen before the springing forth of life.
Here lived the aged man,-a little man, who is the last of all
his schoolmates and youthful companions. Hut he remains peace-
ful amid all these changes. His locks are white with age, his eyes
a little dim, his hearing a little dull. But his voice is still sweet
and clear, as he tells of his ancestral people and the days long
since gone, of those events that have made history what it is.
There is a nobleness about his countenance and a neatness about
his appearance, his clothes well worn and well cared for. Like the
strength of mind his spirit is strong, and thus the more willing to
wait the coming of the reaping angel.
His room of waiting is one of simple comfort, full of light and
cheer. The old wood stove, the cushioned chairs, a place to recline,
add to the comfort of his surroundings. After his day's work is
done, and while the sun is still high, he sits by the window, and
draws near to him, not a table, nor a stand, but a little frame made
strong to hold the great Book upright with its large clear letters
that reveal the light and truth of the other world. He again lis-
tens to the Sweet Singer of Israel; he walks by the side of the
Man of Galilee; he waits by the sea shore ; he goes into the moun-
tain to pray ; he again hears the invitation "Follow me." In
company with John he beholds visions of strange and beautiful
things. Though in the evening of life, he does not look downinto
the valley of the shadow of death to fear, but rather, his look is
upward, looking the way that angels and spirits go. He is not like
the bud, nor the flower; he is the ripened grain, clad in righteous-
ness, ready and waiting for the breath from heaven, to drive the
little chaff away, thereby freeing the spirit, that it may fly upward