William Columbus Ferril.

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period of intense action — a period in which things should cool down and
return somewhat toward their normal state — but it seems hard to conceive
that nature should somewhat later swing to the other extreme and that a period
of cold should set in that would suggest a change almost as fierce as that
of which Milton speaks. Yet Connecticut passed through an experience like



this when the northern half of North America lay buried under the ice and
snows of the Glacial Period.

The many people who ask the question, " Where can I see evidenqes of
the Glacial Period ?" may be divided into two groups. The former ask for evi-
dence for the Glacial hypothesis, the latter accept the hypothesis and are
simply anxious to see the marks of its action which the continental ice sheet
left behind it. The discussion which the first question raises is almost wholly
outside the scope of this article, and can only be taken up incidentally in
answering the second question — the question with which this paper has to

A good while ago geologists observed certain phenomena which seemed
to require special explanation. This consisted in the main of large deposits


of gravel and of certain smoothings and groovings of the rocks in certain
localities, notably the northern part of the British Isles. These they under-
took to explain in various ways, but one theory after another had to be
dropped as impossible, until nothing was left but the theory that these phe-
nomena were due to a great sheet of ice covering the region. Later investi-
gation into the " actual workings " of glaciers existing in mountain regions of
the present day, and the observation that Greenland is under just such a field
of ice, have so strengthened the theory that now it is universa'lly accepted.
The question now remains, what are these evidences of glacial action and
where can they be seen in Connecticut ?

It may be of advantage to pause a moment to consider the nature of a




modern local glacier, the laws of its motion and the effects which it produces
on the region it traverses.

On high ranges of mountains, whose tops are in the region of eternal





cold, the great masses of snow work down the slopes toward the valley that
run down the sides of the range. As this mass passes down it becomes con-
densed by its own weight until it turns into ice, though it is for the most


■>i:A-EKOiitii i:lufi-' of glacial drikt.



part a white ice. Thus we have a river of frozen water flowing down the
valley, and we find that it follows much the same laws as a river of liquid

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water, for it wears away its banks and carries the waste material thus obtained
on with it in its course. The flow of a glacier is necessarily slow — Le Conte
places the speed at from one to three feet per day. As the ice stream moves
slowly along, fragments of rock roll down upon it from the crumbling cliffs
which bound its channel, and the accumulation of these fragments forms a
long line of debris on top of the glacier a little way from its edge. These
accumulations are known as " lateral moraines." The surface of the glacier is
not smooth and unbroken, as might be imagined, but it is very rough and is
broken by great rifts called " crevasses." Into the crevasses plunge the
streams formed by the melting of the surface ice, and with the water go many
of the rock fragments which have been mentioned. The water iinds its way
through to the bottom and there flows along as a subglacial stream which
emerges at the foot of the glacier. The ice as it moves along tears up frag-
ments of rock, and these, together with the fragments which have come down
through the crevasses, are ground up and form a mass of debris under the ice
known as the "ground moraine."

Bat the glacier, besides tearing up fragments of rock, does other work.
It grinds the rock bed over which it flows to a smooth, undulating surface
(for the ice can bend to fit the inequalities of its bed) and on this smoothed
surface it cuts, with the aid of imbedded rock fragments, more or less deep
grooves. This smoothed surface is called "glaciated surface," and the
grooves are called " glacial striae."

Furthermore, it is found that, though the glacier flows steadily down the
valley its foot never gets beyond a given point — a point where the tempera-
ture is so high that the ice melts away as fast as it comes down from above.
But as the ice melts away, it necessarily deposits all the fragments of rock
which it has brought with it, and the vast mass of debris which is thus formed
is called the "terminal moraine."

Having now considered briefly the workings of a local mountain glacier,
let us see if there is a similar action in the case of a great regional ice sheet
such as that which covers Greenland. Le Conte estimates the probable
thickness of this sheet as from 2,000 to 3,000 feet. It moves steadily seaward
breaking up into separate glaciers in the many deep valleys or " fiordes "
which indent the coast. These glaciers as they reach the water break up into
fragments which float off as the icebergs of the northern seas.

There is good reason to believe that at a certain time in the geological
history of the world, known as the Glacial Epoch or Period, a similar ice sheet
covered the northern part of North America down to about the 40th parallel
of latitude. This regional ice sheet had apparently various stages of advance
and retreat, but, when it finally withdrew, it left the surface of the country
profoundly modified. It is to call attention to some of these common modi-
fications, especially as seen in Connecticut, that this paper is particularly

Perhaps the first of these evidences of ice action to be taken up is the
glaciation of rock areas. Wherever the ice passed over bed rock, it broke off
projections and loose fragments and ground down the main mass to a smooth,
undulating surface. All the rocks of the state show this action, but it is,
perhaps, especially well seen on the trap ridges of central Connecticut.
Within the limits of Hartford excellent examples may be found on the ridge




w^here Trinitj' College stands. Wherever the trap of this ridge comes to the
surface the smoothed and almost polished surface can be seen. In some cases
actual troughs have been cut in the rock, a fine example having recently
been uncovered by the workmen at the city quarry. In other cases the rock
shows the finely ruled parallel striae. These are well shown on a small out-
crop west of vSummit street and just north of the stairs leading down to Zion
street. The striae are also clearly defined on the rocks along the New
Britain road, a few miles beyond Elmwood.

The interesting question next arises — what has become of the fragments
which the glacier tore from the bed rock ? This vast amount of broken material
or " drift," as it is properly called, is apt to be overlooked on account of its
very abundance. The gravelly soil of almost all our cultivated land, the vast


hills of gravel through which our highways and railroads are cut and of
which the latter build their embankments, the steep faced sandy bluffs along
our rivers all belong to the vast mantle of drift spread over the land. The por-
tion which rests upon the bed rock and hides it from sight for the most part
is usually very firmly compacted of clay and pebbles and is known as "hard-
pan." This apparently corresponds to the "ground moraine" of the local

As the ice moved in general from north to south, it will be seen that the
drift is likely to be of the same material as the bed-rock to the north of it.
For this reason the drift of central Connecticut is mostly of trap and sand-
stone or shale, and is usually of a dark red color. Moreover, as these kinds
of rock break readily into small pieces, there is a general scarcity of the large


rounded fragments commonly known as "bowlders." But when you go into
the eastern or western part of the state, regions of tough crystalline rocks
containing plenty of light colored components, the aspect of the debris
changes. Here the drift becomes very light in color and bowlders of all sizes

Where, along its southern edge, the glacier melted away as rapidly as it
advanced, we find the remnants of a vast " terminal moraine." There is a
good deal of reason for us believing that Long Island marks the position of
this moraine south of Connecticut.

Before speaking more full)' of this distribution of the drift, it ma}- be
well to note some points in connection with the end of the Ice Age. Without
raising any question as to the subdivision of time into which the era may
be divided, it may be safely said that gradually conditions so changed that
the edge of the ice sheet began to recede toward the north and, as it melted,
it of course dropped the drift which it carried. It is due to this that we get
the great mass of surface drift which overlies the "hard-pan." It covers hill
and dale, and in the regions where bowlders were formed is liberally sprinkled
with them. In eastern and western Connecticut it is no imusual thing to find
these blocks scattered so thickly over a field that a person may traverse a
considerable distance by jumping from one to another. The marked differ-
ence between the drift of the central and of the eastern and western portions
of the state may be seen in travelling the length of the Valley Division of the
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. From Hartford to Middle-
town the drift is in general of a reddish color and is very free from bowlders.
At Middletown the road leaves the Triassic area and passes into the region
of the ancient Archaean rocks. The drift at once becomes much lighter in
color and bowlders of crystaline rock are seen on every side.

Some of these bowlders are of immense size — one near Mohegan on the
Thames River being probably the largest in this country, as far as is known.
It is these blocks of the smaller sizes that furnish the material for most of
the stone walls. Not infrequently the melting ice left a large bowlder
stranded on top of a ledge, where it often forms a "tilting stone " or " rolling
rock " of more or less local celebrity. A very beautiful " perched block " of
this type may be seen at Taftville, a few miles from Norwich.

But, while the melting glacier deposited the drift in a mixed mass all over
the surface of the country, it should be remembered that the flowing water re-
sulting from this very melting re-arranged a large portion of this drift into a
distinctly sorted and stratified condition. Such water-assorted drift is gener-
ally called " modified drift "or "washed gravel." Sometimes it is arranged
in a long, windin'..j embankment or"esker" which probably once partially
filled the vaulted channel of some stream running underneath the glacier.
*' Eskers" are often of such size that they resemble an ancient earthwork or
a forgotten railroad embankment. A very fine example may be seen at
Compounce Pond near Bristol..

An "esker" usually ends in a more or less level "sand plain," where the
subglacial stream, emerging from under the ice, spread the drift out over a
considerable area. A section through a " sand plain " shows marked stratifi-
cation due to water action. These plains frequently occur unassociated with
"eskers." The town of Saybrook stands on such a plain, also the town of



Essex. A large part of the city of Norwich is located on a deposit of this
kind and the sandy levels lying to the north of New Haven are probably of
similar origin. Smaller deposits of "modified drift " may be seen in many
places. The gravel which is dug at the head of Allen Place in Hartford is
of this nature, and there are similar beds in West Hartford, near Vine Hill.
The trolley line from Hartford to New Britain cuts through an interesting de-
posit of this sort on Newington Avenue, near the north end of Cedar Moun-
tain. Here many layers of fine, white sand rest on a bed of irregular frag-
ments of trap. The structure has unfortunately become much obscured by
the action of the elements and the caving of the bank.

Mention should be made of one peculiar form, which deposits of un-modi-
fied drift sometimes take. It is that of an elliptical, round-topped hill, with



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its long axis corresponding to the direction in which the ice was moving.
There have been many theories as to just the manner in which these " druni-
lins " were formed, but none of them are wholly satisfactory. The large hill
known as " Buena Vista," lying west of West Hartford, is a good example of
this form, and several others of a similar nature are to be seen on the road to
Simsbury, about ten miles from the city of Hartford.

These are some of the thoroughly common phenomena which bear
witness to the Glacial Period, somewhat after the principle that "a workman
is known by his chips." For it should be remembered that these are, in a
certain sense, only the chips. The real masterpieces which the ice wrought are
far greater. They are the changing of streams and drainage system, the
changing of shore lines, the creation of lakes and profound changes in the
geographical distribution of flora and fauna. Geologically speaking, the



Glacial Period is a recent event, and the surface of the land has as yet by no
means become re-adjusted to the changed condition which followed the
invasion of the ice.

Geological phenomena are frequently but the often repeated stages in
that recurring circle of events in which Earth's history repeats itself forever.
The Preacher spoke truly when he said—" The thing that hath been, it is that
wliich shall be ; and that which is done is that which shall be done ; and there
is no new thing under the sun," — and ages to come may prove that I should
have completed the final line of the quotation from Milton, and should not
have omitted the words —

" thence hurried back to fire."



When Nature paints the western sky

With pink and blue and red.
And evening shades are drawing nigh.
When Nature paints the western sky
The gentle breezes moan and sigh,

And weep that Day is dead.

When Nature paints the western sky

With pink and blue and red.



These recollections of my father are rescued from Time's "()mniiim dath
erum." They are put upon record, in memory of the children of si.xty and seventy
years ago, who knew the earliest stories of Peter Parley and studied his lesson
books, made so attractive to them ; for the children of those children, who grew
up on his school-books, many of whom knew him personally, and for the grand-
children of to-day, who have had their curiosity excited through hearing the odd
name of "Peter Parley" mentioned at intervals, and are invading the "query
columns " of the newspapers with questions as to his identity.

Every generation or two there is a return wave, which bears upon its crest
the name of some prominent character in the past, quicscenl, though not forgot-
ten. Writers and publishers are quite aware of this fact, and are keenly on the
watch for the first sign of a returning wave. Within the last three or four years,
the name of the children's friend, Peter Parley, has been upon the lips of those
aged readers who learned from his books. Constant mention of him has been
made in educational articles in the newspapers, and the magazines have brought
him to mind again. Many letters to myself, urging me to write of him and his
work, prepared me for the request of the editor of The Connecticut Quarterly
to give some reminiscence therein, which I gladly do in a most informal and unpre-
tentious manner. This first part of my story is told entirely from a child's point
of view, in language such as a child would employ. Ignoring the royal " we," as
unsuited to the subject, I have written simply in the first person, a simple record.
In order to avoid repetition, I have not confined myself rigidly to a sequence of
dates, but now and then, when speaking of some charactaristic of my father, as,
for instance, his love for music, I have grouped together events occuring at wide

Mr. Goodrich very rarely referred to his family tree. Suffice it to say it was
well rooted in English soil, and as early as 1628 there were upon its American
branches the names of governors, mayors, senators, diplomats. Revolutionary offi-
cers, college presidents, clergymen, and judges. We give a portrait of one of
them, an uncle, Elizur Goodrich.

Samuel Griswold Goodrich, Jr., was born in 1793, in Ridgefield, Conn., where
his father was pastor for years. Their home was a large rambling house, pictur-
esque in its appearance and surrounded by several acres of very fertile lands,
which was carefully farmed and added largely to the comfort of a numerous and
growing family. Mr. Goodrich's salary as a clergyman was but four hundred dol-
lars a year. He added to this by taking into his household si.x or eight yoimg men
to fit for college. The old homestead overflowed with life, kindliness and an at-


mdsphere of religion which was never gloomy. In these happy surroundings he
giew apace. His mother was Bet.sy Ely, daughter of Rev. Col. John Ely of Lyme,
where she often met our own officers and those of France and Germany. She
was a most cultivated woman, but slightly tinged with sadnes.s, caused by the
troubles of her country, the disasters which beset her father and by the ingrati-
tude of Congress toward him.

This delightful home was known far and wide in the state for its genial hos-
pitality. Travelers of mark left their servants and equipages at the tavern, but
were entertained personally at the parsonage. Here judges and senators, officers
of the government and public men of varied opinions often met. Grave discus-


sions and learned talk were frequent, and often in their midst would be noticed an
eager but modest little lad, listening and .sometimes venturing a pertinent ques-
ti(}n. When on their return that way some of them brought him desired books —
others left such behind them for his use. On these he grew and throve and
.studied and hoped. At five years old he had been sent to a dame school, kept by
Aunt Delight Benedict, whose nose and cap ran to the .sharpest of points. He
started off in high feather, taking his little chair with him. (It had then served
several generations, — it is one hundred years older to-day.) In this chair Miss
Benedict seated him under her wing where she could conveniently tap his head
with a huge brass thimble. She called him to read his letters, and with a ruler
indicated the one he should name.

" What's 'at ? What's that .' "

He looked in her face without reply.

At the third question and a prod with the thimble, he said quietly :

" I did not come to tell you the letters, you tell 'em to me."


She looked at him amazed but said no more. At recess she led the culprit
home, now and then assisting him by a pull at the ear. His parents were called
in solemn conclave and the story told. You could not convince him he had done
any wrong. He was willing enough to say he was sorry if he had been rude to
" Miss Daylite " but he couldn't see it in that way. " Thamniy didn't go to tell
Miss Benedict wat's A and vvat's B," and there he took his stand. So far school
was a failure. Later on he had a few months chance at the " three R's " at " West
Lane Academy," and this closed his educational opportunities outside oi his

Early in his mind blossomed a desire for good literature, fostered to begin
with, by a copy of the English "Mother Goose," sent him from London Ijy an
uncle. Instead of entertaining him, he was disgusted. The tales were so un-
meaning, the poems so silly, the language vulgar. Childlike he at once picked out
its most objectionable features and went about repeating some of the undesirable
rhymes. In reply to an inquiry from his mother who scarcely recognized her little
son in this unusual attitude, he brought her his gift, telling her once for all that he
meant to write better books for children ; stories they would love to read, rhymes
that would teach something, and facts told in a way that would at first attract,
then cling in the mind. Bravely he kept this promise which grew with his growth
and developed more and more in his brain the plan for good and entertaining
reading for the young, and lesson-books made interesting for the scholar, until
Peter Parley had become a well-known and favorite writer for children, and Eng-
land, America, the Continent and "The Isles of the Sea" knew his works in
many languages.

We have not space to tell of the years when he was building his plans, but
to his life's end he never forgot what he owed to the advice given him by Miss
Lydia Huntley (later Mrs. Sigourney), when, a shy youth of sixteen or seventeen,
he was in a book store in Hartford. Through this he studied French, learned to
dance, took part in debates, .sought the company of refined young ladies, and was
one of the fortunate members of her Literary Society, the first of its kind in

Presently, assisted by an uncle, he went abroad for counsel from older and
wiser heads. He visited dear, quaint Hannah More at " Berley Wood " and was
entertained by her there, coming away greatly encouraged by her sympathy and
the gladness with which she welcomed his broad plan for attractive and instruct-
ive literature for youth.

He often told me of how carefully he sought a iioin di plume ; something
which would catch and hold the public ear. Many a book has fallen flat on the
market because of a faulty title as a send off, which, being withdrawn for a while,
renamed and reissued, has floated on to success. >

While deliberating on this fact one day, he was declining the verb " Farlee —
to speak," and found what he sought — "Peter the Talker — Peter Parley" — and
he adopted it then and there.

His first book was written abroad and published in 1823, " Parley's Talcs of
the Sea," and had an immense sale. One hundred and si.xteen Parley books were
his own, and fifty-four compilations, beside " Merry's Museum," published as a
monthly for many years ; the "Token," a gift book, and " The Cabinet Library."
John and Epps Sargent, Royal Robbins, and S. P. Holbrook, Esq., assisted in the
larger and more imjiortant com|iilations.


For " Peter Parle)-'s Method of Searching- Geography," Mr. Goodrich recei\-ed
^300 and the pubhsher made a fortune by it. It was tran.slated by our mission-
aries for use in their foreign schools. Hon. Donald G. Mitchell, in a late work,
tells of the recollection of this little book which came over him when he visited
the Tower of London.

(Jf the " Natural History," George Du Maiu-ier says : " Last, but not least

Online LibraryWilliam Columbus FerrilThe Connecticut quarterly (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 46)