I. W. (Isaac William) Stuart.

Hartford in the olden time; its first thirty years online

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Hartford in the olden time; its fi

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Its iixsi Sljirig |rars.

Wiitii IIIu«trationj5.




Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, by

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Connecticut.



Reader. Perhaps you ■wonder ■with uplifted hands that Sc^eva
has taken to himself an Editor, and even may curl your lip •when
told, that one unkno'wn to fame has ventured to obtrude his own
name. But ScvE"va is a quaint old man, and 'tis his humor. It is
but no'w that he consents to appear before you in another garb, al-
though ■warmly urged to do so by very many ■svho ■wish to preserve
his ■writings in a compact form. A voice from home, for instance,
through the columns of the Hartford Courant, thus pleasantly ap-
peals to him :

SJo tl)t ^Historian of J^artforU.

Thanks, Sc^va, thanks !

How many a brightening eye
Hath by thy tube transpierc'd the mists of time,
And marked their forms, who first upon the banks
Of this fair river rear'd their rude abodes.
Sharing the hardships of colonial life.
Forth at thy graphic touch they come, to keep
Stern watch and ward against the Indian bow —
Ploughing the furrow for their children's bread.
And planting roots of knowledge that should feed
The mind, thro' unborn ages.

Thou hast drawn
From mouldering archiTcs, pictur'd lineaments
Of patient toil, and unrepining trust ;
And from the moss-grown sepulchre, restor'd
Names that their race should honour.

Beneath the shadow of their trees we walk,
And listen for their words.


Thanks, Sc^vA, thankc !
But not famvell — for wc hare much to lenm,
And thou must aid us, from thy castled heighth,
Fast by the Charter Oak, to guard with care
The patriot lore of the Recorded Past.

n.vKTFORD, Feh. 19th, 1852.

L. U. S,

A voice from the mountains, whose form is prose, but whose tones
are poetrj-, is also heard :

To the Editor of the Couranl.

Dear Sm: — I do not suppose that the author of those
articles subscribed Scsva, tliat have from time to time appeared in your columns, could
feel complimented by any testimonial from me ; but I am so delighted with his con-
tributions that I cannot forbear adding my solicitations to those of many more, that
he will continue to scatter those beautiful flowers of which he has such inexhaustible
stores, along the dusty road of our Colonial history.

That valley with its little community meeting beneath the shadow of the hills, how
it wakens into life at the touch of the cncha:itc'rl Those grim old Fathers of Con-
necticut, with their schooL«, their sumptuary laws, their Train Bands, their wars, their
piety, their exclusiveness, their dread of the Devil and their horror of Dutchmen and
Savages, how their faces brighten, how tlieir brows rela,x, as they peep out from the
mirror held up to them by their graceful descendant. Their very steeple-crowned hats
seem to smile upon ScjEva.

Have we indeed i-ead the last number of those charming sketches, not so much of
men as of manners, not so much of manners as of an era which gave birth to all
republican States that acknowledge as their basis true Christian hberty ?

And if we have rrad the last, shall even the few that have already delighted us, lie
scattered as they fell, like the leaves in Autumn, to be tost by the winds till they arc
lost in oblivion, so that not even the hand that gave them form and life can restore
them to the eyes of those who have already had such pleasant glimpses of their
beauty, or treasure them up for the admiration of the future?

Will you not, Mr. Kditor, entreat ScjiVA to gather them up, bind them in a volume
worthy to embalm them, and commit them as the Itoman I'oot did liis little book, to
the care of posterity ?

ForSc.EVA is a poet, a pastoral, an epic, a didactic, a dramatic poet, though he writes
in what the world calls prose. What a pity all the world does not know aa Cicero did,
that prose a.s well as verse hius its numbers.

Your obedient servant,

Litchfield, March 6, 1852. G. U. H.

Sc.i:vA could not resist these kind appeals, and he gives you now,
in a " volume worthy," he hopes, "to embalm tliem," his chronicles of
the early life of Hartford. He siiows you a wild liut beauteous wood-

P R K F A C E . O

land, rescued from painted savages and savage beasts that once ranged,
as we do now, o'er its free liills, or floated down the stream of that
glad river which still laves its shore. He tells you of the struggles
and disheartening toils of the early settlers — ancestors, perhaps, of
those who road — of their hopes, their joys, their fears and sorrows
too, of all that remains to us of those " good, honest, true and honor-
able men."

Few marble tablets, urns, or stones,
Tell where repose their honored bones ;
The tide of time, and dull decaj-,
Have swept their tenements away.
But not their names. These live as yet,
In hearts that never can forget.

The battle of life, as fought by the Pilgrim Fathers, is not to be
despised. If it teaches but the virtue of self-denial, it is not lost ;
and should it do more — should it stmiulate the young to action, the
more advanced to lives in harmony with those of parents in the olden
time, and all to grave and earnest preparation for the future, the
chronicles of Sc.eva will not have been written in vain. They are
published nearly as they were given to the Public, number after
number, in the columns of the Hartford Daily Courant — after care-
ful revision, however, by their author, but with a preservation, in
the main, of those allusions to present times which served so well as
a condiment to the articles on their first appearance. While thus
their pristine dress of thought has been retained, the Editor, upon
the suggestion of the author and other friends, has added a few pic-
torial illustrations.

That the volume, in its present shape, may abundantly gratify and
instruct all who read it, is the fervent wish both of Sceva and him-

W. M. B. H.

Hartford, January, 1853.

®abU 0f Cout^iits*


No. 1. Its Begin:5isg

No. 2. Its First APPEAR.4SCE TO THE Settlers ^'

No. 3. Its Purch.\se. Its Distribution and Plan 25

No. 4. Black GOTERNOPSTN nnxNECTicni— By wayofnote to "Hartford ^ No. 3." 37.

No. 5. Map of the Town in 1^'K^^____ ■ ^^

N'o. (j. Its i'resT Organization^^^Ciyil and Religious


No. 7. Its First Military Organiz.vtion

No. 8. Its First Burying-Ground

No. 9. Its Name. A Coat of Arms

No. 10. Its Municipal Organization— down to 1650.

No. 11. Its Judicial Organization— down to 1650.

No. 12. Its Military History— down to 1650. . •

No. 13. Its Land Policy— down to 1650. ....

No. 14. Its Sumptuary Policy— p"^^- ^n Ifi.lO-



No. 15. Its Agriculture- down to 1650 ■_!__1_J__L_1__L_LJ_' 1

/ifo. 16. Its Trades and Commerce — down to 1650.



rScHooL— the Church— the Grave— down to loou. • • • •

No. 18. Its Chief Functionaries— down to 1650

No. 19. Its CmL History— from 1650 to 1665. Period Second 185

No. 20. Its Civil History continued. Period Second 1^5

No. 21. Its Mills— Its Inns. Period Second

No. 22. Its Ecclesiastical History. Period Second ^-^

No. 23. Code of 1650. Pecuuar Laws. Punishments. Period Second. . . . 233

No. 24. Dutch Point. Its History. Periods Fikst and Second 243

No. 25. The Musd again AT Dutch Point .^lu

No. 26. The Military History of Hartkord. The Indians. Period Second. . 277

No. 27. Marrlages and Births. Period Second 285

No. 28. Deaths between 1650 AND 1665. Kev. S. Stone. Gov. Haynes. Gov.

Hopkins. Period Second • .... 295

No. 29. The School. Reflections. Good-Bye. Period Second 307


No. 1. .

" Prithee, Winthrop, please to let me know,

By whom it was your place did first commence?"

Roger Wolcott.

" Sires, dames and little ones, the unflinching band
Thrid the deep forest, climb the weary hill ;

A wandering Israel seeks the promised land.
And God sustams his chosen people still." Aiwn.

It was 1631, two hundred and twenty-tw^o years
ago, what part of the year we know not, and Governor
Winslow of Plymouth visited Connecticut. His was
probably the foot of the first white man upon its soil.
It was 1631 and 1632, when subsequent explorers and
traders, also from Plymouth, sailed up and down its
Great River, bearing back with them hemp, furs and
deer skins. It was 1633 when William Holmes, near
the mouth of the Tunxis River in Windsor, erected for
purposes of trade, the first framed house in Connect-
icut. It was 1634 and 1635, when a few bands, some
of men alone, some of men, women and children, and
one of about sixty in number, settled along from
Windsor to the southern limit of Wethersfield. But
cold and famine did their work upon them. They
were soon, most of them, destroyed or driven back.


The country thus visited, however, became known as
exceedingly fertile, the Indians as friendly, trade with
them as lucrative. The opportunity for permanent
settlement was most inviting. Influenced by these
considerations, by straitened accommodations in Mass-
achusetts, by the necessity of better support both for
themselves and those who were to follow them from
England, and by the motive of keeping the Dutch from
possessing a fruitful afid important part of New En-
gland, it was in June, 1636, that the Rev. Thomas
Hooker, Mr. Samuel Stone, and about an hundred
others, men, women and children, took their way from
Cambridge, near Boston, to the present site of Hart-

What was this band, how composed, that tlius ven-
tured through the wilderness to found a Town, and aid
to found a State? One of exiles from their father-land
for faith and liberty — a band of serious, hardy, enter-
prising, hopeful settlers, ready and determined to carve
out, for themselves and their posterity, new and happy
homes in a wilderness — there to sink the foundations
for a chosen Israel — there to till, create, replenish,
extend trade, spread the gospel, spread civilization,
spread liberty — there to live, act, die and dig quiet
sepulchres, in a hope and happiness that were destined
to spring, phoenix-like, from the ashes of one genera-
tion to illumine and beautify the generation which was
to succeed. At the head of this band stood Hooker.
Wise, learned, well versed in civil as well as in religious
affairs, earnest, fearless, quick in composition, ready
in debate — skilled in human nature — a rare soother of
consciences — a "son of consolation" to the afflicted, a


"son of thunder" in rebuking sin — ready while doing
his Master's work, as was quaintly said, "to put a
king in his pocket" — a Bunyan's Great-heart to Zion's
pilgrims — a moral Boone to pilgrims of this world —
he was just the man to inspire and conduct an emigra-
tion like that under consideration. Associated with
him in the enterprise, though not in his journey through
the wilderness, were John Hcujnes and Thomas Welles —
the first already a Governor in Massachusetts, and each
subsequently Governors of Connecticut — men rich in
experience, and eminent alike for their prudence, piety,
skill and private worth. Associated with him soon
after the commencement of his enterprise, but fairly
embraced within it, were George Wijllys and Edivard
Hopkins, also Governors subsequently of Connecticut —
remarkable, the first for his agricultural, the second for
his mercantile enterprise — each signalized afterwards
by an intelligent administration of public affairs, by
great personal worth, and by energy in throwing out
from the primitive nursery, when formed at Hartford,
shoots upon which infant settlements in the adjoining
country might climb into townships, and affiliate with
a new republic. And immediately of Hooker's party,
and his associate as teacher in the Church, was Samuel
Stone — a theological Socrates — a subtle reasoner and
great disputant — ingenious, witty, didactic — remark-
able for his frequent fastings and exact Sabbaths — " a
man of principles, and in the management of those
principles," says Mather, both a Load-stone and a Flint-
stoned And there was William Goodwin, ruling Elder
in the Church, of uncompromising faith, upright in
conduct, of tireless enterprise, pioneer in negotiations

12 llARTFOnD.

with the Indians, of wealth and ip*eat influence — and
Mattheiu Alljjn^ and William Whiting, and John Tal-
cott, and John Webster, and Richard Lord, and John
Steele, and John Cullick, and John Pratt, and Thomas
Standley, and Edward Stebbins, and William West-
wood, all men of note and prominent influence both in
ecclesiastical and civil aft'airs, with more than ordinary
possessions for the day, and honored often in after times
with offices of high trust. The rest of the party were
men, chiefly planters, a very few mechanics, several
merchants — members, most of them, of Mr, Hooker's
congregation at Cambridge — known to the church for
lives upright and godly, and to society for industry,
energy, usefulness and respectability. There was
probably not a single bad man in all IVIr. Hooker's
"goodly company" — and as for the women — ^why it is
not always that a good man has a good wife or good
children — things sometimes " go by contraries" — but it
is a fair inference that wives and daughters who Avere
chiefly church members, and the companions of such
men as we have described, and who were willing to
risk their all for a perilous life in a wilderness, were pure
in their purposes, and blameless and energetic in their

Such was the band that started from Cambridge,
near Boston, to found Hartford. Where will you find
another its superior in mind, knowledge, character,
purpose? No where. How rarely will you find one
its ((inal in these respects! Well may the citizens of
Hartford hv proud of their progenitors — no Goths
starting from wild lairs to overrun and devastate peo-
pled towns and cities — no Tartars to steal the crown



of any already existing little empire — no Crusaders in
the pomp and panoply of earthly might to rescue any
worthless Jerusalem — no band of mere trappers and
miners, absorbed in thought of peltry and gold — no
pioneers for the mere glory of opening new settlements
and adding to the halo of dominion — but a company
of sober, intelligent, wise, earnest, resolute lovers of
God and lovers of man, going forth, freighted with the
rich elements of church and state, to scatter them
there where a wilderness might be made "to bud and
blossom as the rose!"

It was a morning in June, 1636 — bright and early we
may safely suppose — that this company was collected
in Cambridge, to begin its journey — men, women and
children, over an hundred, with packs or bundles,
most of them, borne on the back or by the hand, and
near them a few wagons and carts hitched to horses
or oxen, and around an hundred and sixty head of cat-
tle, and swine and goats and kids. The wagons and
carts were loaded, heavily no doubt, for ample time
had been given for preparation, and uncertainty as to
the transmission of effects by sea, and the necessity in
their plan of speedy recourse to them, must, we think,
have induced the Emigrants to carry with them all
that they could, at least in the way of house, and
kitchen, and yard, and farming utensils. Would you
get an idea of their equipment ? Just glance, then,
over the note below.*

* For mechanical purposes thej- had axes broad and narrow, adzes, hatch-
ets, chisels, wimbles, augers, gimlets, files, saws, wedges, beetle rings, and
numerous pieces and scraps of iron ; for house furniture, a few forms and
stools, cushions, tablecloths, napkins, towels, cups, saucers, porringers and


A goodly provision, it would seem I Yes, for that
day, and under the circumstances of the party, start-
ing as it was upon an expedition not expected to occupy
more than five or six days. Yet not more, nor half so
much proportionally, as you may see now, every day,
among multitudes who are threading the thousand de-
vious arms of the Mississippi, or making their way to
new homes in California or Oregon — nor a provision
half so rich in convenience, utility and variety, as that
which fills up, daily, the long canvass-covered wagons
of our emigrants to the West. Such is progress I

But the Hartford settlers were doomed in one re-
spect to disappointment. Tlie journey they expected
to make in five or six days occui)ied them a full fort-
night. Think of making the same journey now,
Hartford citizen, in four hours! No record remains of
their progress. We know, however, that it was through
a pathless wilderness, the abode of wild beasts, and
savages more wild than these. No roads, no fences,
no bridges — mountains, ravines, swamps, thickets — the
felling of trees, the filling up of hollows, the clipping

candlesticks, both of wood and of pewter, feather beds, flock beds, bolsters,
pillows, sheets of flax or hemp, coverlids, blankets, curtains, curtain rods,
knives, spoons, dishes chiefly of wood or pewter, and a few mirrors. For
the kitchen they had pots and kettles both of brass and iron, pans for baking,
warming and frying, skimmers, skillets, ladles, pestles, mortars, cansticks,
cullenders, chafing dishes, bottles of pewter, of leather and of glass, cob
irons, gridirons, smoothing irons, trammels, and pot hooks, and spits, wooden
and pewter platters, tongs, shovels, andirons, pails, firkins, brewing vessels,
bowls, tunnels, drinking honis, &c. For yard and farming purposes they
had plowshares and colters, scythes, hoes, spades, mattocks, cleavers, sad-
dles, ropes, collars, harnesses, bridles, halters, &c. Besides these articles,
they had pieces of cloth, linen and woolen, wearing apparel, paper, some
bundles of leather, provisions for the way, beside the milk of cows, of com,
wheat, pease, oats, butter, cheese, &c., and anns and ammunition.


of banks, the removal of rocks, the construction of
rafts, the swimming of cattle — the bivouac on the hill,
in the valley, amid the thatch of the meadow or the
underbrush of the wood — the dark, eternal forest, the
howl of the wolf, the snarl of the bear, the cry of the
panther, the hiss of the snake, the prowl of the Indian —
these are the associations which paint but too truly
the difficulty and the danger the Emigrants underwent.
They had no guide but the compass, no cover but the
heavens. The sun their illuminator by day, the flare
of their camp fires was their only light by night. The
gun, the pistol, the sword, were almost constantly in
their hands — for game and for defence against danger.
And so on they came, the weary riding in wagons,
the sick, as was Mrs. Hooker, borne on litters, the
rest trudging resolutely on foot — on they came, these
pioneers of the olden time — vocalizing the woods with
the triple melody of their voices and axes and guns —
the turf literally their " fragrant shrine," God's " arch"
literally their " temple" — till about the middle of the
soft, leafy month of June, they stood on the banks of
that river.

■ the sweetest of the chain

That links the mountain to the might}' main,"

the fair, the noble, the glorious Connecticut !

Where did they strike this river ? Perhaps high up
as Springfield, for Hutchinson mentions the Chicopee
River as one which on their route they could not well
avoid — perhaps between Springfield and Hartford —
perhaps lower down. But no matter — here they are,
thank God, at last, on the site of Hartford, tired.


safe, thankful, hopeful, at their journey's end! Hark
to their voice of prayer, to their songs of thanksgiv-

How do things appear to them ? We will look
through their eyes, Reader, in another article.




No. 2.

" Thy parent stream, fair Hartford, met the eye,
Far lessening upward to the northern sky ;
No watery glades thro' richer valleys shme,
Nor drinks the sea a lovelier wave than thine."

Joel Barlow.

Conceive Connecticut River, Reader, in front of our
city, running much farther east than at present, and re-
ceiving the tributary North Meadow Creek at the foot
of our present Ferry Street continued east. Stretch-
ing from its banks on either side, but sloping soon
into uplands on the west, behold level, extensive mead-
ows, as now, but which here and there are to quite an
extent wooded and covered with underbrush. Fire,
however, at frequent intervals, has consumed trees,
bushes and foliage. It was the Indian's remorseless
agent for clearing land, that it might look upon the
sun, and forget its deep, cold gloom. Large spaces
appear wholly destitute of timber and covered Avith a
long, wiry grass, the primitive thatch, or, if without
grass, are undulated by rows of Indian hillocks, the
beds of corn and hemp and squashes. To the west
and north are several uplands, one main one on the
present site of our city, cleared also like the meadows
by fire, but locked in on most sides by the tall, green



trees of a primeval forest, which now rising, now sink-
ing, but never with any great elevation or depression,
stretches miles away east and west, till it climbs and
overruns two long ranges of mountains. The pine,
the cedar, the oak, the maple, the walnut, the bass-
wood, the whitewood, the ash, the elm, the beech,
figure conspicuously in this perspective, while beneath
climb and thicken, in great profusion, the vines of the
wild grape, the raspberry and blackberry, and the
bushes of the currant, and of the bay and dew and
whortle and straw berries, and the small trees of the
wild cherry and plum. And here and there scattered
in open spaces on the banks of the Great River, and
along the Little River, here and there beneath tall and
majestic trees, or on little cleared elevations in differ-
ent parts of our present city, the smoke rises from
numerous Indian wigwams. It rises, dense as the
fumes from their pipe bowls, plainly from the fort of
the Dutchmen at the Point, and now and then from
the solitary hut of some resolute Englishman, rem-
nant of former emigrations, who in spite of cold and
famine and disease, still maintains his foothold in the
wilderness. It is June — the middle of it. Trees,
plants and shrubs are all in foliage. Corn and hemp
in much abundance have started from the ground.
The earth has on its carpet of green. Birds carol
every where amid verdant branches. The sturgeon
and the salmon have not yet ceased to leap in the
river. The Indian is busy spearing them, or dragging
his hempen net "by mossy bank and darkly waving
wood." Ilis tiny canoe is shooting up and down a
stream — ])road, deep and majestic enough it looks, to


float all the pinnaces that commerce can gather, on,
freighted with every exchangeable commodity that
industry can create, on to the ocean and a market.

Such was the first aspect of Hartford to the primi-
tive Settlers. Truly it was a goodly one !

A more minute view but improved it. It showed
that the soil was indeed, as reported, naturally most
fruitful — that it produced a remarkable variety of
most valuable roots and herbs — and that the groves
around were filled with natural fruits and excellent
game, and the waters with fish. Ground-nuts, arti-
chokes, wild leeks, onions, garlic, turnips, wild pease,
plantain, radishes, and other esculent roots, grew
spontaneously. There was hardly a medicinal vege-
table, of common use, that could not be found in
profusion. There was enough of bloodroot, and liq-
uorice root, and spikenard, and elecampane, and sarsa-
parilla, and senna, and ginseng, and angelica, and
masterwort, and lungwort, and centaury, and flag,
and elder, and pennyroyal, and rattlesnake weed, and
mallow, and celandine — enough of these, and of
many other medicinal roots and barks and buds, to
supply scores of druggists and cullers of simples for
centuries. Walnuts, chestnuts, butternuts, hazelnuts
and acorns, filled the groves. What a time the chil-
dren were to have ! Wild game was also to be found
in the richest abundance. There were the deer, moose,

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Online LibraryI. W. (Isaac William) StuartHartford in the olden time; its first thirty years → online text (page 1 of 19)