J. Hammond (James Hammond) Trumbull.

The memorial history of Hartford County, Connecticut, 1633-1884; (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryJ. Hammond (James Hammond) TrumbullThe memorial history of Hartford County, Connecticut, 1633-1884; (Volume 2) → online text (page 46 of 68)
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1881, and has held important town offices. The success of Southington
manufacturing enterprises is largely due to his energy and executive

A large part of the records of this society and town from 1722 to
1822 are lost. The historical material remaining is scattered in private
houses, deposited in the archives of Farmington, or recorded, with little
attempt at classification, in the voluminous manuscripts of the late Gad
Andrews. To these may be added many public and some private papers
lately brought to light. When the present work was undertaken, the
writer hoped (using Mr. Timlow's Historical Sketches as a basis) to re-
search this scattered material so thoroughly as to supply missing links
and settle disputed points left by Timlow's Sketches in aljcyance. Two
causes have prevented a thorough work ; namely, lack of time, and lim-
ited space. The- work finally done has been to revise former publications
by comparison with original documents, to condense and arrange some
of the most important facts recorded in Timlow's Sketches, and add only
such new matter as the plan of this publication would permit. The
writer dares hope that the laborious work of research and condensation
has not been in vain. For the biographical notices which are included
in the article, I am indebted to the assistance of other persons, who
have prepared them for the history.

Xcf^jgu^^ Vad^^



SUFFIELD is bounded on the north by Massachusetts, on the east
by the Connecticut River, which separates it from Enfield, on the
south by Windsor Locks, East Granby, and Granby, and on the
west by East Granby, Granby, and Massachusetts. It contains about
38|- square miles. Unlike most ancient towns, its area has been en-
larged, — about 2,500 acres having been added since its boundary lines
were first judicially established in 1713. There is no alluvial land
upon the river border, as in towns above and below. The river bank is
generally elevated and bold, composed of " clay slaty rock " suitable
only for foundation walls. From the river westward to the mountain
the country rises with a succession of broken ridges that extend across
the town parallel with the river, with wide intermediate valleys. Upon
these elevations are the highways which originally were old Indian
trails or paths. On the first ridge, half a mile from the river, is Feather
Street. The second ridge is Long Hill. Upon the third, about two
miles from the river, is High Street, formerly the old Springfield and
Windsor " Way." On the next, west, runs what was once the " Hamp-
ton and Westfield path." The mountain, still farther west (in the Mount
Tom range, and formerly supposed to be rich in minerals), is the most
prominent feature in our landscape. West of it lie the Congamond
Lakes. In the extreme southwest corner of the town is Manatuck
Mountain, its eastern border a bold, almost perpendicular bluff, afford-
ing an extended view of the valley between the Talcott and Green
Mountain ranges.

Three streams rising within the town, empty into the Connecticut
River, — Stony River or Stony Brook, Rawlins's Brook, and Deep Brook.
Stony Brook rises in the mountain with a west and north branch, and
half-way across the town toward the east is enlarged by Muddy Brook
from the north, which is formed by numerous small streams from the
Agawam Plains. Stony Brook is further increased by small streams
from Windsor Plains on the south. It formerly furnished many mill-
sites, but the axe and the spade have nearly ruined them. With a
thorough drainage, no town has a better supply of running streams for
its farms, and few have so large a proportion of land adapted to tillage,
or so little broken or waste land. Great Island, in. the Connecticut
River rapids, opposite the mouth of Stony Brook, lies wholly west of
the main channel and is only approachable from the Suffield side, where
the west branch is usually fordable in summer. Its extreme length is
315 rods ; its extreme width, 100 rods. It contains about 100 acres; 60


are alluvial and tillable, and the remainder rocky and covered with for-
est to the water's edge. Probably no other such charmingly isolated
and secluded spot, so near to and yet so remote from the busy world,
can be found in New England.

Irregular in shape, the extreme length of the town from east to west
is about 8^ miles, and its extreme width is 6 miles. Its area by the
survey of 1713 was 22,172 acres ; add to this about 2,500 acres from
the ancient Westfield grant in 1803, and wg have 24,672 acres as its
present area.

The following names of localities are found in the early records, most
of them being retained : Stony Brook, Muddy Brook, Filer's Brook,
Clay Brook, Rawlins's Brook, Deep Brook, Wolf Pit Brook, Rattle-
snake Brook, Three Mile Brook, Sawmill Brook, Onion Brook, Burli-
son's Brook, Meeting-House Hill, Long Hill, Great Hill, Bush Hill,
King's Hill, Kent's Hill, Stevenson's Hill, Round Hill, Cord Wood Hill,
Hoop Hill, Buck Hill, Chestnut or Sandy Hill, Taintor Hill, Boston
Neck, The Neck, Ireland Plain, Musketo-Hawk Plain, Rattlesnake
Plain, Great Swamp, Dismal Swamp, Pipe-stave Swamp, Dirty Slough,
Swampfield or Little Common, Winchell's Bridge alias Kellogg's Bridge,
Bush Bridge, Norton's Bridge, Jackson Bridge.

The town was originally heavily wooded, especially with pine and
oak, and had only about five hundred acres of meadow or swamp grass-
land. Owing to the lack of open fields and alluvial lands, it is not
probable that the Indians lived here continuously in any numbers,
unless along the Great River Falls and the shores of Wenekeiamaug
(now Congamond), where the fishing-grounds were excellent. In these
localities indications of settlements and burying-grounds are found.
The only names preserved of the aboriginal proprietors are " Pam-
punkshat" and " Mishnousqus " «?uis Margery, probably sachems of
the Agawams. No hill, stream, or locality, except the Manatuck
Mountain, bears an Indian name. No blood of red or white man shed
in war or massacre stains the soil of the town.

Suffield formed a part of Hampshire County, Mass., until 1749. In
1660 it was called Stony River, from its principal stream. In 1670,
and for many years afterward, it was called Southfield, both by the in-
habitants and in the Province laws. On the 20th of May, 1674, the
committee for settling the town petitioned that " the honored Court
weuld please to grant this Plantation seven yeares freedom from Coun-
trey Rates, as an encouragement for the planters, it being a woody
place and difficult to winne ; " also, " that the name of the place may
be Suffield [an abbreviation of Southfield], it being the southernmost
town that either at present is, or like to be in that Countrey, and neere
adjoining to the south border of our Patent in those parts." On the
3d of June, 1674, the Court granted this petition, and the place since
that time has been written " Suffeild " or " Suffield " in all its town
records. In 1660 the Massachusetts General Court granted to six per-
sons (none of them subsequent settlers) land for a plantation at the
place called " by y^ name of Stoney River, on both sides of the way to
Connecticott, seven miles square." An unsuccessful attempt to settle
at the southeast corner of the town was probably made, and the grant
became void. On the 14th of January, 1669, the selectmen of Spring-
field " commende it to the town," that " Samuel and Joseph Harmon,


John Lamb, and Benjamin Parsons have 30. acres of land, and 6. acres
of Wet Meadow apiece, at Stony River." This was followed (May,
1670) by a petition : —

" To the Highly Honul & The Gen Co^'^ of the Massachusetts : The humble
Petition of Diverse of y^ Inhabitants of Springheld, on the behalfe of y"^ Towne,
Sheweth : that there being a quantity of land betweene Springheld and West-
field and the South Lyne of y® Colony, w'^'^ wee conceive may be capable of a
small Plantation, and for that there are diverse P'"sons amongst us that greatly
want conveniences of land for improvement for their familyes, who desire to sett
upon worke in that quarter, and to prevent the marring of that w"*" may be a
comfortable Township, by such as otherwise may take up those Lands for farmes,
& to preserve the Lands and Woods of the South line of the Collony in that
quarter towards Windsor. Wee doe humbly intreat this much Honnor*^ Co''"' to
Graunt unto y""^ Petitioners for y* use of such as want conveniences of Land in
this Towne, a quantity of Land for y® end aforesaid : And that the Honnor*^ Co"^
would be pleased to allow five or six yeares liberty for setting downe there and
making a Plantation ; the difficulty of winning those woody lands requiring
longer tyme than ordinary to settle upon, there being scarce any open land to
begin with. That God only wise would sitt amongst yo' Honn" guiding you
to his Glory, & y* comfort of his People : Pray : yo'' most Humble Petition"
John Pynchon, George Coulton, Xathaniel Ely, Anthony Dorchester, Eliazur
Holyoke, Benjamin Cooley, Samuel Marshheld, Benjamin Parsons, Henry Cha-
pin, Rowland Thomas, Thomas Stebbin, Samuel Chapin, Lorance Bliss, Jonathan
Burt, Eichard Sicks, Miles Morgan."

The petition was granted on the 12th of October, 1670. A tract of
land ••' to the contentc of six miles square," was ordered to be laid out
and settled upon, with certain provisos, and Capt. John Pynchon, Capt.
Eliaz'^ Holyoke, Leift. Cooper, Q"" Master Colton, Ens° Cooly, and Row-
land Thomas, or any three of them, were appointed a Committee for
that end. On the 12th of January, 1671, this committee adopted gov-
erning rules for " settling " the town. A. summary of them is given.
Caste, or rank, was observed in locating settlers, in the quantity of land
allotted by the committee, unlike that of other valley towns. Only the
mountain and the land Avest of it was divided into lots to be drawn for.


1st. There should be four score shares, or house lots of four ranks, of 80,
60, 50 and 40 acres. Meadow being scarce, only one-tenth part is allowed for each.
2d. Rank was to be determined by Quality, Estate, Usefulness and other Con-
siderations, as the Committee direct.

" 3d. Provided for further divisions of Meadow if more be found. 4th. The
Grantees should pay their proportion of all charges for settling and laying out
the town, procuring and providing for a minister, or any other matter, or thing
conducing to the public good. 5th and 6th. Provided for laying out Highways
and the lands, into several divisions. 7th. Tlie first applicants, should have the
liberty of choice, in which Division to settle. 8th. The Petitioners for the Grant,
could have allotments under certain conditions. (None settled here.)

" 9th. No settler could sell or alienate his land, until he had a continuous
residence of seven years, and with the consent of the committee or selectmen.

" 10th. ' Persons of considerable Quality ' not desiring to settle themselves,
might have grants of land, to settle such persons as might be a furtherance to the
place, and to such only as the Committee approve of.

"11th. Ordered that a convenient allotment of 60. or 80. acres, near the
Centre of the Town be reserved for the property of the first jMinister, that shall
VOL. II. — 2.5.


settle on the place. 12tli. An allotment of 80. acres to be set apart for the min-
istry forcA^er.

" 13tli. Forty acres to be set apart for the support of a school, for, and to that
use forever. 14th. One lumdred acres for the Gen! Court or Country's use, and
four hundred more for the use of the Country. 15th. Twenty or thirty acres to
be laid out in the Centre of the Town, and set apart for the Common use : ^ as, to
set the Meeting House on, or School House, or for a Training place, or any other
Publick use, to be left Common.

" 16th. Sixty acres each for a Corn Mill and Saw Mill with other privileges
might be given as encouragement. 1 7th. The Committee reserve liberty to grant
more Lots upon the same conditions, if they find the place will bear it. 18th.
Grants were void, unless settled upon within a prescribed time."

These rules, slightly modified in 1673, were conscientiously adhered
to. Captain John Pynchon, with the assistance of Samuel Marshfield
(county surveyor), devised the following general plan for "• laying out"
the town, that is substantially the same to-day, except Feather Street
Common, subdivided in 1732,

[On the 16th of May, 1671, the committee for Stony River Plantation met,
being there on the place. Present, J. Pynchon, Lieutenant Cooper, Mr. Holyoke,
Benjamen Cooley, and George Colton.] "We settled several Divisions or Places,
where mens Lands should ly, and be taken up, as one on the north side of Stony
Brook, by Northampton Road, where the Harmons are to take up part of their
Land, and some others : also we laid out the Town Plat, a little eastward from
this Land, something towards the Great River, on the North side of Stony Brook ;
where we stated the Highway or Street, running from Stony Brook, northward
toward Springfield, and called this Street High Street, where we intend and order,
the Meeting House shall be set. This is to be a double Street, and to build upon
both sides of it, those on the West side of it, their Lots to run back Westward
to Muddy Brook, and those on the East side of this High Street, their Lots to
run back from it Eastward, Twelve Score Rods, these meeting M'ith, or adjoining
to at least the upper part of these Lots, though not downward.

"Another Range of Lots which come from Feather Street, near the Great
River, though some distance from the Great River, there being some Land left
there for a Common, next the Great River. This Range of Lots in Feather St.,
which is only a single Range having the Land before them Common, to the
Great River, from the front of their Lots, where they are to build. The Lots
run back westward toward High Street, Twelve Score Rods, and somewhat
more, there being a little allowance in the length of Feather Street Lots, as
being Judged somewhat meaner than them in High Street ; all which Lots are
to rear one upon another, except at the lower end, or Southwardly next to Stony

On the 28th of January, 1675, the committee met, and so many
persons desired to settle in the new town, that it was determined " to
fill up the place to one hundred Families, as speedily as may be." The
breaking out of King Philip's War, a few months later, suspended all
grants of lands, and the plantation was abandoned. Early in the year
1677 the committee announced to the dispersed settlers that," Whereas
now thro' the favor of God in scattering the Heathen, and giving us
some quiet, there is hopes of resettling there," they will not claim for-
feiture of lands on account of abandonment, jjut will give them " forty

1 About twenty acres were set apart as the town's common. Here was the training-ground,
and here stood, side by side, the meeting-house, the school-house, the stocks, the whipping-
post, and the pound.


days to declare their intendments and full resolution to settle there,"
and " failing to settle within eighteen months, their allotments to be
disposed of, to such as will."

In the spring of 1677 nearly all who had grants returned, and the
town started anew. Meanwhile, two members of the committee had
deceased ; Lieutenant Cooper was killed by the Indians in the attack
on Springfield, Oct. 5, 1675, and Captain Holyoke died Feb. 6, 1676.

For the safety of the people, the land on High Street not laid out
was divided into house-lots about twelve rods wide, to be given to the
settlers, especially those out on the Northampton Road, who were most
exposed, and who finally removed to High Street.

In 1678 additional grants were made and some highways deter-
mined ; namely, the one from the lower end of High Street to the
Windsor road, one from High Street easterly toward the mill, also the
road to Feather Street and '• the highway out westward " over Muddy
Brook (where there was a new bridge, the first in the town) to the
Northampton Road. The " Northampton road " was at first a path or
trail between the Connecticut towns and those of Massachusetts west
of the river by the way of Westfield, which was a trading-post in
1643. Northam|)ton and Hadley kept this way open for ox-carts many
years. This road and High Street were called "• country roads," dis-
tinguishing them as not laid out and maintained by the town. Another
" way " from Poquonnock to Westfield through West Sufiield, by the
notch (Rising's), was called " New Hampton Path." High Street
(also called Springfield Road) and the Feather Street (river) road
were both used for many years before the town was settled. Fine
plains and swamps extended to the Wenekeiamaug, west from the
mountain, and along its eastern base stretched the Great Swamp,
now cultivated land. The allotment for the Crooked Lane Lots, " be-
yond, or at the upper end of High Street," was granted, with a highway
adjoining, in 1680.

On the 12th of October, 1681, the General Court ordered the com-
mittee to call a meeting of the qualified voters, for town organization.
On the 2d of January, 1682, the committee met for the last time and
completed their labors of " filling up the place " to one hundred families
(although the grant required but twenty). The grantees became pro-
prietors in fee simple of all the lands within the plantation, each in
proportion to his first grant ; 6,258 acres had been distributed, and the
remainder was left to be divided as the majority should direct.

In 1682 sixty-two proprietors were heads of families ; the remainder
Avere unmarried, and some of them young. The first proprietor to die
was Samuel Harmon, in 1677 ; the last was Deacon John Hanchett, in
1744, aged ninety-five years. The first female white child born here
was Mindwell, daughter of Robert and Susanna Old, Feb. 4, 1674.
The first male white child born was Ephraim Bartlett, born June 17,
1673, son of Benjamin Bartlett, of Windsor, who bought a right in the
Sufiield plantation of Major Pynchon, but abandoned it soon after.i

The names of the first grantees and proprietors (one hundred in
number), many of whom were from Springfield and Windsor, in the
order of their grants, are : —

^ Pynchon Account Book, and History of Wilbraliam.



Samuel Harmon.
Joseph Harmon.
Nathaniel Harmon.
Zerubbabel Filer.
Robert Old.
Jonathan Winchill.
David Winchill.
George Jetfries.
Eobert Watson.
John Watson.
John Millington.
Steven Taylor,
John Taylor.
K'athaniel Cook.
Timothy Hale.
John Filley.
Hugh Roe.
Thomas Spencer.
Judah Trumble.
Joseph Trumljle.
Edward Smith.
Anthony Austin.
Timothy Palmer.
Walter Holiday.
Samuel Roe.
Abram Dibble.
John Burbank.
John Barber.
Thomas Barber.
George Norton.
Thomas Remington.
Launcelot Granger.
Thomas Granger
George Granger.

John Hodge.
Samuel Kent, Sr.
Thomas Parsons.
James Barker.
James Rising.
Benjamin Dibble.
Thomas Remington, -Jr.
Isaac Cakebread.
Timothy Eastman,
Joseph Eastman.
John Lawton.
Thomas Copley.
Thomas Taylor.
Sergeant Thomas Huxley.
Edward Burleson.
Peter Roe.
John Sevrance.
John Pengilly.
Edward AJlyn, Sen.
Edward Allyn, Jr.
John Allyn.
William Allyn.
John Scott.
James King.
Samuel Bush,
Joseph Seager.
John Remington.
Jonathan Remington.
Richard Austin.
Anthony Austin, Jr.
Samuel Kent, Jr.
Deacon Thomas Hanchett.
Thomas Hanchett, Jr.

John Hanchett.
David Froe.
Obadiah Miller.
Daniel Canada (Kenedy).
Simon Gowin.
Mr. John Younglove.
William Pritchard.
Michael Towsley.
John Rising.
Edmund Mar.shail,
Richard Wollery,
John Huggins.
James Barlow.
James Taylor.
Luke Hitchcock.
John Barber.
Samuel Taylor.
Jonathan Taylor.
Nathaniel Cheny.
Victory Sikes.
William Brooks.
Ebenezer Brooks
Gregory Gibbs.
Samuel Lane.
John Mighill.
John Mighill, Jr.
Tliomas Mighill.
Thomas Stevens.
Joseph Leonard.
Joseph Barber.
Benjamin Barber.
Samuel Filer.
Joseph Pynchon.

The following had grants, but were not settlers, and received their
proportion of subsequent divisions of land in compensation for some
services rendered : Major John Pynchon, Benjamen Cooley, George Col-
ton, Rowland Thomas, Elizur Holyoke, Thomas Cooper, John IngersoU,
John Ingersoll, Jr., John Petty, Joshua Wells, Samuel Cross.

An abstract of the title to our lands under the Massachusetts
patent may be outlined as follows : (1) The Town Grant by that Gen-
eral Court. (2) The Indian title acquired by Major John Pynchon for
<£30 and conveyed by him to the Inhabitants of Sufiield for £40 in
1684. (3) The distribution by the Committee and Proprietors, with a
descriptive record of the date, bounds, quantity, and name of Grantee,
made in the Town or Proprietor's Books, compiled and certified by the
Land Measurer. Succeeding transfers by deed, will, or other-wise, be-
fore 1749, are in Massachusetts records ; since that time, in Hartford
and Suffield records. The location of proprietors' house4ots is easily
determined, while that of their outlands is often in hopeless obscurity.
Five years' quiet possession of land made a title under the province

The " Great Island " was given to the Rev. Ephraim Huit, of


Windsor, by the Connecticut General Court in 1641, and by his will it
was returned in 1644 " for the use of the country." In 1681 the Mas-
sachusetts General Court gave it to John Pynchon. He died in 1703,
and the Island was a part of his Suffield estate, inventoried at ten
pounds. In 1717 liis heirs sold it to John and Ebenezer Devotion and
Joshua Leavitt, all of Suffield, for ,£130 current money. In 1736
Joseph Kellogg, of Suffield, bought John Devotion's right. In 1755
General Phineas Lyman bought the whole island, and sold it in 1774 to
Roger Enos, of Windsor, for £200. Since that time its many owners
are found in Suffield land records to 1806, and since that date at En-
field. The isolated position and consequent little value of this beauti-
ful island render its jurisdiction of slight importance. Mr. Terry, who
now owns the larger part, is probably the first permanent white resident.
It has borne the successive names of " Great Island," " Lvman's,"
" Copper," " King's," and " Terry's."

On the 21st of March, 1671, the committee laid out the bounds of
that part of the town east of the mountain, and made this report to the
General Court, which was approved and confirmed June 3, 1674 : —

" The North Bounds of this new Plantation joyniug to Springfield South
Bounds on the West Side of the Connecticott Ryver, is at a little gutter about
half a mile below the brook, commonly called the Three Mile Brook below
Lieut. Cooper's house : Viz : at two tall middling trees standing about two foote
from each other, the one a walnut, the other an oak, which stands on the knap
or brow of the hill, on the Xorth side of that gutter by the Great Eiver side
within three or foure rod where the gutter emptyes into the Great Eiver. The
said trees being marked on the Xorth bounds of this new Plantation : and thence
the Bounds run upon the due West line, about fewer miles and a halfe from
the Eiver Connecticott till it meet Westfield Bounds (now Eising's Xotch), and
from the said two trees, tlie East bound is the saitl Eiver Connecticott, and is
sixe miles southward upon the square fmm the said West (Xortli) Lyne. The
South border of this New Plantation is a due West Lyne, drawn from a large
White Oake, marked standing on the banke of the Eyver Connecticott two or
three rods from the said Eyver, and about a half a mile below the Island, neere
the foote of the Falls in the Great Eyver. And from the said White Oake, the
South border extends seven miles and a halfe due West, many trees being marked
in that Eange or Lyne."

Notwithstanding boundary disputes for two centuries, these are
town lines to-day, with this exception : The south line interfered with
the Simslniry grant at five miles from the Great River. The north line
varies but little from the correct State line, being only ninety rods too
far south at the river, and eight rods too far north at the Westfield
line (now Rising's Notch). Ancient Westfield (the top of the moun-
tain) bounded about two miles of our west border. The Simsbury
line was in dispute and unsettled until 1713. The Suffield grant by
Massachusetts, in 1670, revived the colonial boundary question, which

Online LibraryJ. Hammond (James Hammond) TrumbullThe memorial history of Hartford County, Connecticut, 1633-1884; (Volume 2) → online text (page 46 of 68)