William Columbus Ferril.

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wild, selected beauty of the land must have made its impression on those
Hartford men.

Full of apprehensions before the dreaded arrival of Sir Edmund Andros,.
the Colonial Assembly granted to Hartford and Windsor so much of that
region "as lay east of the Housatonic;" but after fear was dispelled, there
was sad quibbling in the effort to ignore the grant. A compromise was.
effected, and an appointment was made to the claimants, soon after 1688. The
land which was afterwards Salisbury and other neighboring towns, remained

the property of the
Colony. Six hun-
dred and twenty-
eight acres of land
in the town were
given to Yale Col-
lege in her early
days, and are still
her property, leases
being given by her
for nine hundred
and ninety-nine

In 1720, men
o< HOGASTicooK. from Livingston



Manor, in New York, purchased of the Indians land on the west bank
■of the Housatonic, and began
a settlement in what was called
Weatogue, later. Not the glit-
ter of gold, but the more prosaic
attraction of rich stores of iron
drew the first Connecticut set-
tlers hither. In 1731, the Colo-
nial Assembly granted to
Daniel Bissell, of Windsor, the
one hundred acres of the "ore-
bed in Salisbury." Samuel
and Elisha Forbes, of Canaan,
were also well-known proprie-
tors of ore-beds ; and Thomas
Lamb, who, for the settlers,
bought land of the Indians for
"' eighty pounds and divers vic-
tuals and clothes," and who
"built the first forge at Lime
Rock, was an early owner of
what was known as Hendrick's
■ore-bed. The struggle with
■Nature must have tested the
powers of those pioneers, push-



ing their way through the wilderness, for the climate was severe, and the
hills which concealed their grand but forbidden rocks with dense forests were
the fastnesses of bears, wolves, and other unfriendly beasts. Connecticut
pluck triumphed, however, and the settlement quickly assumed form and
secured recognition from the Colonial authorities. In 1732, Salisbury town-
ship was surveyed and divided into twenty-five " rights," which proved to be
a tempting investment, in Hartford chiefly, being sold there by the Governor
and Company in 1737. Of these rights, one was reserved for the first minis-
ter who might be settled there ; one for the support of the ministry ; and one
for the school ; provision being made thus in advance for religion and educa-
tion in the town, which received its charter in October, 1741.

(I'rom an old print in possession of Jiit^ge Donald J. Warner.i

Thomas Lamb, who seems to have been a daring speculator, bought all
the water power in town, and according to Mr. Grossman's historical sermon
of 1803, was not ignorant of modern methods of self-aggrandizement. For
some years the ground was burned every autumn, to insure fertile crops the
next year, and Thomas Lamb took the opportunity of the bleak appearance
caused thereby to assure the Commissioners sent from the General Court that
the land was hardly worth public attention, and that there ought to be only a
few "rights." His practices do not appear to have brought prosperity to him,
for he left town about 1746, and went to sea.

True to the traditions of the fathers, the church was the center of the
plan of the founders, — literally the central part here, for the General Court



ordered that the meeting-house should be so placed that its "sill inclose the
stake driven into the exact center of the town.' There was some lack of ac-
curacy in measuring the geographical center, but from an ecclesiastical
and political point of view, there was no failure in carrying out the directions
of the General
Court. The land on
which the old
church stood, about
opposite the present
parsonage, was
given by Colonel
Robert Walker, of
Stratford. Nothing
could be more unas-
suming than the
iirst meeting-house
in Salisbury, — a log-
house thirty feet by
twenty-five, which
was divided into
two parts ; one, to
serve as a church,
the other, as a dwell-
ing-house for the
minister. This use-
ful building was out
grown after a ft\-
years, but the first
minister was ordain-
ed within its walls,
and it was an im-
provement on his
first abode in one end of a blacksmith's shop, where stools served for chairs,
and slabs for tables.

The man who was then made the head of the infant community was one
to leave a lasting impression on his people, for he was a natural leader.

Some time before, Jonathan Lee, a Coventry lad, born July lo, 1718, had
gone to Yale to study. He was graduated in 1742, and must have had his
share of social as well as collegiate honors ; for it appears that he had entrance
to President Clap's family. He came to the notice of the settlers in Salisbury,
and, being of fine figure and pleasing manners, and in the bloom of his twen-
ty-fifth year, he seemed to them a very desirable addition to their colony. So,
in January, 1742, they asked him to be their minister. He must have been
coy or extraordinarily cautious, for he considered the matter for seven months.
As with most deliberate people, his pondering resulted in an unchangeable
decision ; for he remained with the church in Salisbury until the day of his
death, in 1788. But perhaps the seven months were not wholly occupied in
prayerful consideration of the needs of the Salisbury church, and perhaps the
answer depended on the reply of some one else, for, two weeks after accepting'



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the offer of the Salisbury people, he carried away his trophy from New Haven.
in the shape of Elizabeth Aletcalf, the step-daughter of President Clap. She
probabh^ made her bridal entry to town on horseback, as it was summer, and
neither snow-shoes nor ox-sleds would be necessary ; and as all the luxury that
she could bring would be what couid be squeezed into her share of the compound
meeting house, it follows that she must have left the flesh-pots of Egypt behind
her. But what a lasting luxury of glorious air and scenery was hers ! We
wish that Elizabeth Lee had kept a diary, as did her illustrious step-father ;
very entertaining would it be now. Probably the cares of housekeeping in
the church-parsonage left no opportunnity for literary pursuits ; or, perhaps,
she was too wise to trust her thoughts and observations to paper. She could
have described the cheerful suggestions lurking in the portholes and towers of

From old silhouettes originally in the Ball house. i. Lois (Camp) Ball; 2. Thomas Ball (parents'):
3. Maria; 4. Robert; 5. Sally; n. Emily; 7. Caroline; 8. James (childreni. From the original in possession
of Judge Donald J. Warner.

her dwelling, and the four forts in the settlement, a forethought for the war-
whoop and the night attack of Indian neighbors ; she could have said that
the salary of forty pounds made it necessary for her husband's dignified back
to bend beneath the load of his own wheat, carried to the mill to be ground ;
she could have described the prowling bears and wolves, the " Christopher
canoe place," probably Christopher Butcher's ferrj', and the Burrall's bridge,
built in 1744, the next not until 1760. She could have said that the school of
the town began in 1743, and that in that year, two school houses were within
its limits, one at Lime Rock, the other at Salisbury ; and that the course em-
braced reading, writing, arithmetic, and the Assembly's Catechism.

If only our conscientious foremothers had neglected their duty a little, and
had scribbled a few diverting notes by the way for our benefit 1




The settlers were not long satisfied with their cramped Sabbath quarters,
and in 1749, they decided to build a larger and better church. For that pur-
pose, a committee was appointed : Captain Samuel Beebe, Thomas Chipman,
and Ensign Samuel Bellows. The festivities usually attendant on a "raising"




were not omitted, for
Mr. Bellows was di-
rected to procure " i6
ijals. of rhum and
half one hundred
weight of shuger and
two pounds of all-
spice for raising the
meeting house." Be-
sides that, Sergeant
Samuel Moore was
told to buy " eight
bushels of wheat " to
be made into cake to
be used on the same
occasion. The cooks
had to begin at the
foundation in those
days. With all this,
the building was
raised, November 24
and 25, 1749. The
■ rhum " and cake,
and the sturdy hearts
and hands of the
workers helped to
make a building that
was used for a half a
century, and which
still exists as a framework for the Town Hall, opposite the present church.
The sermons of the handsome young Mr. Lee were not heard from that
pulpit alone ; for he held services on each Sabbath at three separate places :
Lakeville, then called
"Furnace \''illage;
Lime Rock, then
known as the " Hol-
low," and Salisbury
proper. Perhaps the
open air exercises re-
quired for all this
Sunday labor
strengthened the ser-
mon-making brain
for activity so con
slant as that. Stra\
rays of light arc-
thrown on the life of
the settlements, by
the pages of the first .^mk lu shnki.l tavkk




volume of church records, bound in pigskin, where we find that every domes-
tic beast had a kind of Greek cross branded by the "brander " and that hogs
were allowed, by formal resolution to run on the common. A strong hint of
terrors of the time is found in the bounty of three pounds (a large sum for the
time and place) offered for each wolf
that should be killed, and also that of a
shilling- for the death of each rattle-
snake. Far from being the resort of
fashion, the "solitary places" were
then the cause of anxiety and fear. As
^Ir. Grossman naively remarks, "the
burning, with the ponds, mountains,
and cliffs of rocks, made the face of
nature appear forbidding to those who
were not appraised of the fertility of
the soil.

But iron, which lured the settlers
from the rich meadows of the Connecti-
cut and the Farmington, gave the chief
occupation of the first years. At first
the ore was carried in leather bags on
the backs of horses by the " Ore Path " J'-^^'= ^oxald j. warner.

from Ore Hill to the iron works at Great Barrington. Very near the present
railroad in Lakeville is the well which was "Ethan Allen's Well." It is re-
corded that a forge existed at the " Hollow," now Lime Rock, in 1734 ; and
from that day to this, one has not ceased to be in operation there. There was

also an iron furnace
at " Furnace Vill-

^«' ^SSSBSBSSBS^SKm V i 1 1 e . Here the

Salisbury men, John
Hazleton and Ethan
Allen, (later of Ti-
conderoga renown)
and Samuel Forbes,
of Canaan, built and
used a furnace in
1762. But, wherever
the center, the signs
of activity in the
manufacture of the
useful metal ap-
peared on all sides.
Ore beds were open-
ed at various places,
the rude machinery
of those days was
taxed to the utmost to make the earth give up its treasures, and many furnaces
sent forth their fiery blasts to transmute the rough ore into saleable iron. Of



these ore-beds, " Old Ore Hill " is the oldest in the state, and the most notable.
There a hundred acres had been granted to Ephraim Williams. In fact,
"Town Hill," in spite of the fierceness of the winter winds' attack, was the
spot originally meant for the town, and a wide street led from that straight to
the "Old Ore Bed." The imposing buildings of the Hotchkiss School stand
on the place set apart for a public square. Let no one say that the strict men
of those days did not have an eye for the beauties of Nature.

Iron became a sort of circulating medium, and promissory notes were
more frequently made payable in iron than in money. The iron obtained here
was superior to all other iron in tovighness and durability ; and therein was
Salisbury's destinctive claim to Revolutionary glory.


We all know how faithfully the little state of Connecticut and her grand
old governor, Jonathan Trumbull, were Aaron and Hur to Washington during
the distressful days of lack of all commissary supplies; how almost everything,
from food and clothes to horses and wagons was provided for the Continental
army by their heroic efforts ; but that would not have sufficed if Connect-
icut earth and Connecticut ingenuity and skill had not produced the cannon to
give in thundering tones, on sea and land, the message from Freedom's hills.
No sooner had the "shot heard round the world " given the signal than the
Salisbury furnaces were summoned to do their best. Secure among the hills,
they were never interrupted by fear of attack or capture, and proudly did they
■do their work.

Before the war, Richard Smith, an Englishman, bought the furnace at



" Furnace Village," then the only foundry in Connecticut. He wisely returned
to the mother country, when he found that he could not sympathize with the
rebellious feelings of his neighbors ; and he abandoned his estate here, so that
the state took possession, making Dr. Joshua Porter its agent. To this furnace
came frequent orders for shot, shell, cannon, and chains, from the Governor
and Council, for the use of the army and the navy. Whether Richard Smith
objected to having his guns turned on him, so to speak, history does not

Hither came the statesmen of the time. Jay and Morris, and Trumbull,
and Hamilton, to look with anxious eyes on those furnace fires, perhaps to
wonder whether the Salisbury iron would still be true to its reputation. One


flaw in a cannon might decide the fate of a battle and so turn the course
of empire. Bostwick Hill, between Salisbury Center and Lakeville, was the
target against which the cannon were tried. Many cannon balls of the ancient
kind were found imbedded in the earth when it was cultivated as a farm, and
Mr. Milton Robbins has one of those balls in his possession- The old ore-beds
did honor to the state in which they lay, and sent forth cannon that did their
stern work on many a Revolutionary field.

Here, at Lakeville, were made the armaments whose vollej's began the long-
list of our naval honors. From this spot were trundled out the cannon which
served Commodore Truxton, on the Constellation, in those desperate conflicts
which resulted in the defeat and capture of the French frigates, L'Insurgent
and La Vengeance, in 1789, thus averting the danger of war after Jay's treaty ;.



and in : 798, when the Constitution went to sea, she carried forth .Salisburj^
cannon for her historic career.

For generations, the iron industry has been continuous here, where have
been made cannon and anchors for the government, and rifle iron for the
arsenals at Springfield and Harper's Ferry. By the Bessemer steel process,
good steel can be made from inferior grades of iron, and modern methods of
manufacture and transportation have taken away all chance of monopoly from
the Salisbury ore-beds, but the superiority of its iron is still undisputed, and
the remains of the ancient hoisting machinery and furnaces, and the wan
spaces of the ore-beds themselves are features of the landscape that remind
us of what has been.


But the "loud-mouthed dogs of war," and the emblematic anchors were
not the only things which Salisbury contributed to the Revolutionary war.
Men, of the best blood and staunchest hearts, went out from the mountain
town. Patriotism was in the very air the citizens breathed. It was to the
neighboring town of Litchfield that the statue of George III, hurled from its
pedestal in New York, was brought to be cast into bullets to be fired at his
Majesty's soldiers. Some time before, the Rev. Jonathan Lee had seized the
august opportunity of an election sermon before the Governor and the General
Court, to utter the suggestive words : " Dominion or right to rule, is founded



neither on nature or grace, but in compact and confederation." Some Salis-
bury men had gone to the French war, making a part of the five thousand
men whom Connecticut, in a few days, raised and sent to the field, in addition


to those forces she had already sent. As early as 1756, the soldier's spirit had
been shown in the organization of two military companies in the town ; and
prompt response was made to the call for troops in 1775. During the Revolu-
tionary war, twent}'-
one officers and more
than one hundred
officers and privates
served in the army.

Among the offic-
ers were Colonel
Blagden, Major Luth-
er Stoddard, and Dr.
Joshua Porter, who,
with Dr. Solomon
Williams, had mig-
rated from Lebanon,
Conn. Dr. Porter,
as Colonel of Militia,
was present at Bur-
goyne's surrender ;
and besides that, was
of notable service as
Continental agent
for cannon, shot, and
so forth. Colonel Ethan Allen, who makes so piquant a figure on the Revolu-
tionary^scene, and who wrote a narrative of his experiences as a British captive,




was a dweller here for some years, and, as has been said, was one of the pro-
prietors of the old furnace. From Salisbury went out the first efficient cavalry
that joined the Continental army, Colonel Elisha Sheldon's troop of horse,

which did most
valuable service.
Throughout the war,
the gall an t town
gave even more than
the required support
to the army ; it ex-
ceeded the quotas of
men and siipplies ; it
paid bounties in ad-
dition to those offered
by the state, and,
often when even the
undaunted Governor
Trumbull was on the
verge of despair, did
his appeal for help in
an emergency bring
forth new recruits,
and fresh stores of
food, clothing, and
ammunition from
this remote corner of
the state.

Of B u r g o y n e ' s
surrendered army,
several regiments were quartered in Lakeville and Salisbury, on their way
to Hartford. One of the Hessian soldiers, John Lotz, was so well pleased
by his surroundings,
that he deserted from
his regiment, and be-
came a miller here.
The tents of the cap-
tives stretched out
for a mile or more,
and the officers made
merry in the midst of
their misfortune, by
giving a ball in the
house of Lieutenant
Ashbel Beebe, i>n
Beebe's Hill. A por-
table wine chest left
by them, is still treas-
ured as a memento of their stay.

In the words of Judge Church : " We may say, boastingly, that our mines




furnished the material, our streams the power, and our citizens the labor, by
which much efficiency was given to .the great cause of American independ-

The associations of the famous war were strengthened by the presence of
three citizens who dwelt in the town after the army was disbanded : Archibald
Campbell, Joseph Hollister, originally from Glastonbury, who was with
Putnam, and commanded a guard on the Hudson which captured a British
soldier bearing messages from Burgoyne to Clinton ; and John Russell, Ser-
geant of Artillery in the New York line, who was in the military family of

Of distinguished men in professions other than that of war, the town has
seen a great number. The Rev. Jonathan Lee moved among his people as a
strong power for good until the frontier hamlet had grown to be a place of
importance commensurate with the dignity of its pastor. He was his own
law in certain matters, evidently, if we may trust specimens of his church
records: as the following, copied verbatim ct literatim from the baptismal
register. He was fond of Latin, and the page begins with a Latin sentence
and then goes on — " — for Ephraim Ketcham viz. Sarah & one & onemore name
forgot and Hannah 65 " {tliat is lyd^) — ^" for Joshua Porter's wife Joshua ; 60
& Abigail ; 62 & Eunice & peterBuell 73 & Augustus " ! no7i mcmor temporis,
Sept." !

It is pleasant to see his " 44 years in the service of Christ " commemorated
on the church walls by a tablet raised one hundred years after his death by
Mr. Jonathan Scoville. Mr. Lee is buried in the old burying ground back of
the Town Hall.

We catch a glimpse of another holy man, the Rev. ^Mr. Crossman, who was
here from 1796 to 181 2, whose untiring ministrations to the sick in an epidemic
of typhoid fever ended in his own death. Blessings on his memory !

There was another long pastorate among this people, that of the Rev.
Adam Reid, D. D., who, coming hither from the Scotch Highlands, made a home
for forty years in this other land of loch and glen and ben. He was a master
in theology, a forcible teacher, a noble man, revered by his people. He ceased
not to write sermons even to the day of his death. Said one of his hearers,
"When Dr. Ried stops preaching, I feel as if I had dropped from a height."
His success as a " fisher of men " was perhaps promoted by the ardor with
which he accepted the gifts of Providence in this fisherman's paradise. It is
said that many jolly days were spent by him in the company of Henry Ward
Beecher, while scouring the countryside in pursuit of this favorite sport. Like
Mr. Lee, Dr. Reid was here during a war, the civil war with all its intensity of

Dr. Reid died September 23, 1877.

From that congregation have gone forth eighteen ministers, two of them
missionaries : four governors, Jonas Galusha, for several years a popular gov-
ernor of Vermont ; Thomas Chittenden, governor of Vermont, with the
exception of one year, for eighteen years, from 1778 to 1797 ; Martin Chitten-
den, his brother, also a governor of Vermont ; and our own honored governor,
Alexander Hamilton Holley : Three State Chief-Justices, Nathaniel Chip-
man, an officer in the Continental army, who became Chief Justice of Vermont,
his brother Daniel Chipman, being also a prominent Vermont lawyer ; Chief-


Justice Spencer, of New York ; and Samuel Church, Chief-Justice of Connecti-
cut, a man who won and deserved the highest esteem as a lawyer, a scholar,
and a public-spirited citizen : three United States Senators, eight members of
Congress, two lieutenant-governors, and military and naval officers galore.
Judge Church was a classmate of Calhoun, at Yale. He was an authorit)' on
local history, and gathered his knowledge together in some notable addresses
on anniversary occasions.

The first lawyer in the town was Jabez Swift, of Kent. In 1773, he built
the stately stone house on Town Hill, often called the "Montgomery House."
He planned more lavishly than his means seemed to warrant, so that the ball-
room was not finished before his death, which occurred while he was with the
army near Boston ; but the beautiful house, with its spacious rooms, its rich
cornices and ceilings, its daintily ornamented walls, its fine hall, and its impos-
ing entrance, stood among its gardens, as a landmark in the country, for many
years. Mrs. Swift was connected with the Livingstones, who owned large
tracts of land in the vicinity. In 1774, the house was sold to Heman Swift,
who sold it in 1776 to Robert Livingstone. His cousin, Janet Livingston, who
married General Montgomery, is said to have been a visitor here at times ; and
on account of the retired situation, to have been residing here when the sad
news of her husband's death at Quebec reached her, although she went to the
Hudson to receive his body when it was brought thither. The saddle and ac-
coutrement of the lost hero were brought to his widow at this house. As the
years passed, the house was used as an inn, and then was inhabited by some
one who did not know the actual or the historic value of the mansion ; so that
at last, for lack of repairs, trifling at first, it fell into a state of decay before
the day came when the hand of a Daughter of the Revolution or a Colonial
Dame could be reached out to save it. Its exquisite mantels and other wood-

Online LibraryWilliam Columbus FerrilThe Connecticut quarterly (Volume 2) → online text (page 37 of 46)