Edwin Munroe Bacon.

The Connecticut River and the valley of the Connecticut; three hundred and fifty miles from mountain to sea; historical and descriptive online

. (page 1 of 38)
Online LibraryEdwin Munroe BaconThe Connecticut River and the valley of the Connecticut; three hundred and fifty miles from mountain to sea; historical and descriptive → online text (page 1 of 38)
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Connecticut River

and the

Valley of the Connecticut

Three Hundred and Fifty Miles from
Mountain to Sea

Historical mtd Descriptive


Edwin M. Bacon

Author of " Walks and Rides in the Country round about Boston," " Historic

Pilgrimages in New England," "Literary Pilgrimages

in New England," etc.


o - ,^ -■



G. p. Putnam's Sons

New York and London
XTbe IRnicfterbocfier press






Copyright, 1906



Published, August, i()o6
Reprinted, Januarj', 1Q07

Ube finicltcrbocfccr prcaa, Hew ICotb


Lindsay Swift






Prefatory Note

THE story of the Connecticut River and the Valley of
the Connecticut is so mingled with the history of the
country, and particularly of the formative periods, that in
the proper telling of it much of history must also be related.
Accordingly in the following pages there will be foimd
blended with descriptions of the longest river in New Eng-
land and one of the fairest valleys in the country, narra-
tions of Indian and colonial wars ; of the establishment or
evolution of democratic government ; of the pioneer devel-
opment of internal improvements and of industries ; of the
planting and upbuilding of many and varied institutions of
learning, colleges, academies, and schools, for higher edu-
cation — more than on any other river in the world —
and withal of the growth and unfolding of the genuine
American character. In the study of my subject, besides
consulting the various histories, colonial, state, county, and
town, bearing upon it, historical monographs, family papers,
diaries, and contemporary narrative, I have gone, so far
as they were accessible, to original authorities. As a re-
sult of this research new readings of popular history have

^ i Prefatory Note

been made necessary in several instances, and some cher-
ished old legends which have become fixed in literature as
historical facts, have perforce been relegated to their right-
ful places. It is none the less, however, a story full to
its last chapter of interest and inspii'ation, with much of
romance, of stirring incident, of thrilling adventm^e, of
the exhibition of heroism, devotion, faith, energy, broad
enterprise, large-mindedness, and the true American spirit.

E. M. B.
Boston, Mass.





Dutch Discovery and First Occupation ... 1

Adriaen Block on the River in 1614 — First of European Navigators to
Enter and Explore it — His Sixty-mile Cruise up the Stream in
an American Built Yacht — Story of Block and his Voyage along
the New England Coast — Action by the States General on his Dis-
coveries — The "Figurative Map" — A Remarkable Coincidence
— The Dutch alone Established on the River for nearly Eighteen
Years — The first Rapier Thrust between the Dutch and the Eng-
lish. • '

I. English Occupation ....... 14

First Move by the Plymouth Men in 1633 — Banished River Sachems
in Plymouth and Boston — Edward WiiLslow's Preliminary Explo-
ration — Dismgenuousness of the Bay Colony Leaders — Their Pros-
pecting Parties in the River Region — Exchange of Letters as
to Dutch and English Rights — Affairs Shaping for a Pretty Quar-
rel — The Dutch "House of Hope" — The "Lords and Gentle-
men's " Patent — Entry of the Pilgrims — Ignoring the Dutchmen's
Challenge — Van Twiller's formidable Protest.

^11. The Pioneer River Settlements .... 24

Puritans from the Bay Colony Entering in 1685 — Beginnings of
Wethersfield and Windsor — Intnision on the Plymouth Meadows —
Governor Bradford's Ineffectual Protest — The Dream of a "New
Plymouth" Dispelled — John Winthrop, the Younger, Governor for
the " Lords and Gentlemen" — Lodgment at the River's Mouth —
Coming of Hooker and his Congregation in 1636 — The Old Connec-
ticut Path, The Second Connecticut Trail, and the Bay Path as
traced to-day — Beginnings of Hartford and Springfield — Secession
of River Towns.



viii Contents


Tlu' rolitical Motive that Inspired the Dispersion from the Bay Colony
to the Valley — Democracy versus Theocracy — Thomas Hooker and
John Cotton, Spokesman for the Differiiiij Parties — The Hookerites'
Petition in the Bay General Court — Wiiithrop's Keport of the Un-
recorded Proceedings — Alleged and Real Reasons for Removal —
Provisional Government for the Valley Plants Mons — The Independ-
ent Est<abli.shment — Hooker's epoch-making Sermon — The first
Written Constitution — "True Birth of American Democracy" —
Hooker's lUuminatiug Letter : a Colonial Classic.

TiiK Fall of the House of Hope .... 56

Troubled Life of the Dutch among their EnglL'sh Neighbors — Petty
Aggressions on Both Sides — De Vries's Observations in 1639 —
His Dinner-table Talk with Governor Haynes — A Pleasant Episode
of his Visit — Commander Provoost's Strenuous Five years — A
Dramatic Scene at the Fort — Diplomatic Gysbert op Dyck — Peter
Stuyvesant at Hartford — The Hartford Treaty of 1650 — A brief
"Happy Peace" — Captain John Underbill upon the Scene — He
seizes the House of Hope — End of Dutch Occupation.

VI. Sayukuok Fort ........ 67

The Saybrook Plantation for Important Colonists who never came

— The Questioned Story of the Embarkation of Cromwell and
Hampden — Beginnings by George Fenwick — Lion Gardiner's grim
Humor — John Winthrop the Younger: A Remarkable Personage

— Fenwick's Home on Saybrook Point — Lady Fenwick — John
Higginson, the Chaplain — Lady Fenwick's lonely Tomb — The sec-
ond Saybrook Fort, Scene of an Adventure of Andros in 1675 —
Beginnings of Yale College at Saybrook — The "Saybrook Plat-
form" — First Book Printed in Connecticut.


VII. Eaui.y Perils of Colonial Life .... 80

The River .Settlements of the Colonial Period — Confined to the Lower
Valley for a Century— The First Settlers completely environed by
Savages — The Various Tribes and their Seats — The Dominating
Pequots — Covert Attacks upon the Settlers — Massacre of Captains
Stone and Norton with their Ship's Crew — Tlie Killing of .John Old-
ham off Block Island — Avenged by Captain John Gallop — The
" Earliest Sea-Fight of the Nation " — A Graphic Colonial Sea-Story.

^'ITT. Tin; VK^iVOT Wars 91

First Expedition from llie Bay Colony under Endicott — Lion Gardi-
ner's Practical Advice — Plot to Destroy the River Settlements

' Contents ix


— Tragedies on the River — The Connecticut Colony's Campaign —
The "Army" drawn from the Three River Towns — Major John
Mason, the Myles Standish of the Colony — Hooker's Godspeed at
the Embarkation — Scene on the down-river Voyage — Debate of the
Captains at Say brook Fort — Mason's Master-Stroke — The March
in the Enemy's Country — Bm-niug of Mystic Fort — End of the

IX. Philip's War ix the Valley . . . . .113

The Direful Conflict of 1675-1676 Centering in the Massachusetts
Reach — Philip of the Wampanoags — The frontier River Towns —
Hadley the Mihtary Headquarters — Gathering of the Colonial
forces — The "Regicide" Goffe perhaps a Secret Observer of the
Spectacle — The apocryphal Tale of the " Angel of Deliverance " —
First Assault upon Deerfield — Northfleld Destroyed — Fatal March
of Captain Beers toward Northfield — The Ambuscade on "Beers's
Plain ' ' — Ghastly Sight meeting the Gaze of a Relief Force — A
Sunday Attack upon Deerfield.

X. The Battle of Bloody Brook ..... 126

Slaughter of the " Flower of Essex " at South Deerfield while Convoy-
ing a Provision Train — The Sudden Attack from Ambush by
a Swarm of Braves — Many of Captain Lothrop's Men idly gath-
ering Grapes by the Brookside when the Warwhoop rang out —
Desperate After-fight by Captain Moseley — Memorials of the Battle

— The Legend of "King Philip's Chair" — Destruction of Deer-

XI. The Burning of Springfield ..... 132

With Pledges of Fidelity the Agawam Indians concoct a " Horrible
Plot " — Bands of Philip's Warriore secretly admitted to the Indian
Fort on the Outskirts of the Town — A Night Alarm — Early Morn-
ing Attack upon Messengers riding out to Reconnoitre — The full
Pack soon upon the Village — The People crowding the Garrison
House — A wild Scene of Havoc.with the Town in Flames — Major
Pynchon's Forced March from Hadley to its Relief — Grave After-

XII. The Rising op the Narragansetts . . . 142

Canonchet drawn into Philip's War — Flight of his Tribe toward the
Valley — Ravages of Frontier Towns on the Way — The great
Indian Rendezvous about Northfield — Attacks upon Northampton,
Hatfield, and Longmeadow — Death of Canonchet : A Hero of his
Race — The Great Falls Fight : An English Victory followed by a
Disastrous Rout — A Chaplain's Experience — Final Attacks upon
Hatfield and Hadley — End of Pliilip's War — Death of Philip,
deserted and betrayed — Results of the War to the Colonists.

xii Contents




XI. An K.\i:i.v Coloniat, IIighavay .... 303

The River an important Thoroughfare through Colony Times — The
first White Man's Craft on its Waters — Dutch and English Trad-
ing Ships — William Pynchon the first River Merchant — Pros-
peroiLs Traffic in Furs, Skins, and Hemp — The earlie.st Flatboats
operating between the Falls — Seventeenth Century Shipbuilding

— River-built Ships sent out on long Foreign Voyages — The Rig
of the Flatboat as developed by Colonial Builders — System of
Up-River Transportation in the latter Colonial Period — Lumber
Hafts — Early Ferries.

XXII. Locks and Canals 310

Thefiret River in theCountiy to be Improved by Canals — The Initial
Charter issued l>y Vermont in 1701 — First Work in the Massachu-
setts Reach — Locking of South Hadley Falls in 1795 — A Remark-
able Achievement for that Day — Unique Features of the Consti-uc-
tion — The System as Developed Northward ■ — Wells River Village
Head of Navigation — River Life then Animated and Bustling —
Improved Types of Freight-Boats — Schemes for Extendmg the
System with great Rival Projects — Final crushing Competition
of the Railroads.

XXIII. Steamboats and Steamboating . . . .325

Connecticut Valley Inventors of the Steamboat — Claims of John
Fitch and Samuel Morey to Prioritj^ over Fulton — Morey's tiny
Steamer on the River — First Steamboats in Regular Service —
Gallant Efforts for Steamboat Navigation to the Upper Valley —
Triumphant Progress of the Pioneer " Barnet " up to Bellows Falls

— The "Lcdyard's" Achievement in Reaching Wells River — A
Song of Triumph by a Local Bard — The last Fated Up-River Enter-
prise — Steamboating on the Lower Reaches — Dickens's Voyage
in the " Massachusetts '' — End of Passenger Service above Hartford.


XXIV. "T.iK Beautiful Rivek" 345

Winding down its Luxurious Valley 8(10 Miles to the Sea — Almost a
CoMliiuu)u.s Succe.s.si<)ii of Delightful Scenery — The River's Highland
Fountains — The four Upper Connecticut Lakes — Topography of
the Valley — The bounding Summits — The River's Tributaries —
Historic Streams entering from Each Side — The Terrace System —

Contents xiii


Charming Intervals with deep-spreading Meadows — The Panorama
in Detail from the Headwaters to Long Island Sound — Fossil Foot-
prints of the Lower Valley.

XXV. Along the Upper Valley . . . . .367

The Romantic Region about the Connecticut Lakes — Pioneer Upper
Settlements — Story of a Forest State of the Eighteen-Twenties and
Thirties — At the Valley's Head — Upper Coos Towns — Old Trail
from Canada to Maine — The Country of the Fifteen-Miles Falls

— Lower Coos Towns — About the Gi'eat and Little Ox-Bows —
Dartmouth College and its Surroundings — Between White River
Junction and "Old Number 4" — Historic Towns of the Lower
Reaches to the Massachusetts Line.

XXVI. The Massachusetts Reach ..... 392

Northfield's attractive Seat at its Head — The Dwight L. Moody
Institutions — Landmarks of the Indian Wars — Clarke's Island
and its Spectre Pirate — Rural Hill Towns below Northfield —
Beautiful Greenfield — Turner's Falls — Historic Deerfield — Rare
Deerfield Old Street and its Landmarks — Picturesque Sunderland
and Whately — Old Hatfield and Hadley — The Russell Parsonage
and the "Regicides" — " Elm Valley": a fine Type of the Colo-
nial Farm-seat.

XXVII. Cities of the Massachusetts Reach . . 406

Northampton, the "Meadow City" — Its Crop of Exceptional Men

— The Dwights and the Whitneys — • Sites of Jonathan Edwards's
Home and Pulpit — Scenes of the Ely Insurrection and of Shays's
Rebellion — Smith College — An Educational Centre — Mounts
Tom and Holyoke — Holyoke, the " Paper City " — Its great Hy-
draulic Works — Chicopee and its Notable Manufactures— -Spring-
field, the "Queen City" — Beauty of its Setting — Its choice Insti-
tutions — The United States Arsenal — Scene of the Overthrow of
Shays's Rebellion.

XXVIII. Thk Lower Valley 430

Enfield and Suffield at the Connecticut State Line — Windsor Locks
and Warehouse Point — Site of Pynchon's Warehouse of 1636 —
Ancient Windsor to-day and its Landmarks — Charms of the East-
Side Windsors — A Romance of the Colony — Roger Wolcott and
his Homestead — Birthplace of Jonathan Edwards — Timothy Ed-
wards and his remarkable Family — Modern Hartford: Yet a
" Gallant Towne " — Its Historic and Literary Landmarks — Trinity

XIV Contents


XXIX. Hartford to the Sea ...... 448

Down the River by Steamboat — Old Dutch Point — Wethersfield back
from the Meadows — The Glastonburj-s — Rocky Hill and Cromwell
— Portland and Middletown at the Great Bend — The College City
— Wt'slcyan University and Berkeley Divinity School — John Fiske
in Middletown — The Straits — The Chatham Hills — Historic
Mines — " The Govemor's Gold Ring " — The Lymes and the Had-
dams — The Field Family — Brainard the Missionary to the
Indians — Essex — At the River's Mouth.



View of the Connecticut River between Thetford,
Vermont, and Lyme, New Hampshire . Frontispiece

A Dutch Yacht of the Early 17TH Century, Yacht of

THE East India Company, 1630 . page 6

Near Moodus ........ 20

A Typical River Boat ...... 36

Quiet Lifj5 by the River's Side ..... 50

Dutch Point, Hartford. Near the Site of the Dutch
"House of Hope" ....

Lady Fenwick's Tomb, Old Saybrook

First Site of Yale College, Old Saybrook

High Street, Middletown ....

A View on the Lower River Banks

A Seaward Look across the Marshes, Saybrook

The Heart of Old Saybrook ...

A River Fishing Camp — Camp Wopowog, Near East
Haddam ......

Sturgeon Fishing ......

Salmon River, East Haddam, Idling to the Connec

TICUT ........

Salmon River, "By mossy bank and darkly waving wood"
Tree-clad Rocky Point .....








xvi Illustrations


Door of the "Ensign Sheldon House," with its
"Hatchet-Hewn Face." Relic of the Sack of
Deerfield, February, 1703/4 .... 164

The "Redeemed Captive's" Son, Stephen Williams,
Minister of Longmeadow for Sixty-six Years
(1716-1782) . .... 180

White River Junction, and West Lebanon, New

Hampshire Side ....... 186

White River Junction and Lebanon Bridge, at High

Water 188

The Great Ox Bow, Newbury, Vermont Side . . 202

Site of the Historic Fort "No. 4" of the French and

Indian Wars, Charlestown . . . . .210

A River Island— Chase's Island, Looking North . 220

An Island View, near Hanover .... 224

Windsor Bridge, Windsor, Mount Ascutney in the

Distance ........ 230

Pine Grove on the River's Bank, near Hanover . 234

View from Kilburn Peak, near Bellows Falls, Look-
ing South — -Kilburn Peak Side at the Left . . 244

The Bend — Two Miles North of Hanover . . 252

Eleazar Wheelock (1711-1779), Founder of Dart-
mouth College ....... 258

From an old painting.

John Wheelock (1754-1817), Son of Eleazar Wheelock,

Second President of Dartmouth College . . 264

Dartmouth College in 1790 ..... 300
From a print in the Massachusetts Magazine, iSoo.

A Typical Chain Ferry ...... 308

Seal of the Proprietors of Locks and Canals. Show-
ing the Contrivance First Used at South Hadley
for Passing Boats , . . . . .312


Remains of the Old Olcott Falls Locks, New Hamp-
shire Side. Two Miles North of White River
Junction ........

Olcott Falls Dam of To-day, Olcott

The Modern Olcott — "Wilder's" ....

Entrance of the Enfield Canal at Windsor Locks .

The River between Fairlee and Orford. Scene of
the Trials of Morey's First Steamboat, 1792-93

Middle Haddam Landing

Rock Landing ......

East Haddam Upper Landing

Deep River Landing ....

Modern Steamboating on the River — ^The '


Fountains of the River. The Upper Connecticut
Lake .........

Fountains of the River. First, or Connecticut,
Lake — Mount Magalloway at the Left

McIndoe's — Below the Fifteen-Miles Falls

Bellows Falls Dam .......

At the Head of the Massachusetts Reach — North-
field: the Dwight L. Moody Institutions on the
Left Bank ....

The Straits — Below Middletown

Looking toward the Straits

The Promontory — Above Saybrook

A Logmen's Houseboat

Breaking up a Log Jam










366 .


xviii Illustrations


Junction of the Ammonoosuc, Wells River, and the


The Little Ox Bow — Haverhill, New Hampshire Side 374

Dartmouth College Bridge. Between Norwich,

Vermont Side, and the College Town . . . 376

Dartmouth College — The Campus . . . '378

Dartmouth College — Dartmouth Hall . . . 380

Dartmouth College — The College Inn and the

College Club, from the Campus .... 382

Dartmouth College — ^Looking down from the Tower

IN THE College Park ...... 384

John Ledyard, the Traveller ..... 386

"One of tlie most romantic and original manifestations of
the Dartmouth spirit."

Dartmouth College — The Rollins Chapel . . . 388

Suspension Bridge, near Brattleborough . . 390

Deerfield Old Street, 1671-1906 .... 394

Looking down from Sugarloaf, South Deerfield —

Sunderland across the River .... 398

" Elm Valley " — The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Home-
stead, Hadley ....... 402

"One of the finest types of the Colonial Farm Seat in the

Round Hill, Northampton, in the Eighteen-thirties 404
(The period of Cogswell and Bancroft's Round Hill School

for Boys here.)
From an old print.

Jonathan Edwards ....... 406

From a portrait of 1740, the most authentic portrait

Wife of Jonathan Edwards ..... 406

From ri portrait of 1740.

Illustrations xix


The Jonathan Edwards Elm, Northampton: in Front
OF the Whitney House on the Site of the House
OF Jonathan Edwards. The Whitney Family
Grouped about the Tree ..... 408

Smith College — College Hall ..... 410
From photographs by Miss Katherine E. McClellan,

Smith College — The Students' Building . . .412

Smith College — Seelye Hall ..... 414

From photographs by Miss Katherine E. McClellan,

Smith College — View across the Campus . . . 416

Smith College Commencement, 1905, Ivy Day . . 418

From a photograph by Miss Katherine E. McClellan,

The Railroad up Mount Tom ..... 420

The Dam at Holyoke ...... 422

Holyoke. Looking North from the City Hall . . 424

City Library and Art Museum, Springfield . . 426

The Springfield Home of George Bancroft . . 428

A Connecticut Valley Tobacco Farm . . , 432

The Connecticut State Capitol and Bushnell Park,

Hartford . . . . . . . . 438

Main Street, Hartford ...... 440

Old State House, Hartford, and City Hall. Place
OF THE Sitting of the Hartford Convention during
THE War of 181 2 ....... 442

The Charter Oak, Hartford ..... 444

Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch, Hartford . 446
The Portland Quarry ...... 44S

XX Illustrations


Wesleyan University — "College Row" . . . 450

Wesleyan University — North College. Destroyed

BY Fire March i, 1906 ..... 452

Wesleyan University — Wilbur Fisk Hall . . 454

Wesleyan University — Orange Judd Hall of Natural

Science ........ 456

Wesleyan University — Scott Laboratory of Physics 458

Wesleyan University — Memorial Chapel . . . 460

Saybrook Lighthouse at the River's Mouth . . 462

Map of the Connecticut River .... at end


The Connecticut River


Dutch Discovery and First Occupation

Adriaen Block on the River in 1614 — First of European Navigatoi-s to Enter and
Explore it — His Sixty-mile Cruise up the Stream in an American Built
Yacht — Story of Block and his Voyage along the New England Coast —
Action by the States General on his Discoveries — The "Figurative Map"
— A Eemarkable Coincidence — The Dutch alone Established on the River
for nearly Eighteen Years — The first Rapier Thrust between the Dutch
and the English.

IN the year 1614 Adriaen Block, Dutch navigator,
came first of all Europeans upon the Connecticut and
explored its lower waters for sixty miles in an American
built ''yacht." That was six years before the advent of
the Pilgrims at Plymouth, and before a single enduring
settlement of white men had been effected on the North
Atlantic coast. The native Indians called the stream
Quinni-tukq-ut, or Quoneh-ta-cut, the "Long Tidal River."
Block, perceiving a strong downward current a short dis-
tance above its mouth, named it De Versche Riviere, the
"Freshwater River." Block's name held with the Dutch
who came after him so long as they remained about the
River. The English adopted that of Connecticut, a form
evolved from the more euphonious and significant Indian

Unkind and partisan historians have sought to rob the

2 Connecticut River

Dutch of the credit of the River's first discovery and its
opening to civilization. Some have belittled Block's
achievement by dwelling upon the unfruitful discoveries,
or reputed discoveries, of earlier navigators. Some insist
that Estevan Gomez, the Portuguese navigator in the ser-
vice of Spain, was the true discoverer, when he skirted the
coast from Labrador to Florida in 1525. Others are dis-
posed to credit its discovery to Giovanni de Verrazzano,
the Florentine corsair, commanding the first North Ameri-
can expedition sent out by the king of France, who sailed
the coast from North Carolina to Newfoundland two years
before Gomez, and discovered New York, Block Island, and
Narragansett Bay. But it is not at all clear that either of
these mariners even sighted this River. Verrazzano appar-
ently was quite ignorant of its existence, for he passed
Long Island on the sea side. In his letter to the king
(the genuineness of which is no longer questioned by most
authorities) he records no incident of his voyage between
New York and Narragansett Bay. His first mention is of
Block Island, to which he gave the name of "Luisa," in
compliment to the King's "illustrious mother," Louise of
Saxony. As for Gomez, there is little or nothing substan-
tial of record concerning his voyage. Indeed, Professor
George Dexter, most thorough of investigators, has shown
that it is impossible to determine with certainty in what
direction Gomez explored the American coast. His ex-
plorations were of no value whatever with respect to our
River. While these and perhaps other navigators may have
coasted in its neigliborhood, it remained virtually unknown
to Europeans and untouched by European craft till Block,
under the Dutch flag, tiu-ned his prow into its placid

Just as to the Dutch, and Henry Hudson sailing under

Online LibraryEdwin Munroe BaconThe Connecticut River and the valley of the Connecticut; three hundred and fifty miles from mountain to sea; historical and descriptive → online text (page 1 of 38)