Sheldon B. (Sheldon Brainerd) Thorpe.

North Haven annals : a history of the town from its settlement, 1680, to its first centennial, 1886 online

. (page 10 of 32)
Online LibrarySheldon B. (Sheldon Brainerd) ThorpeNorth Haven annals : a history of the town from its settlement, 1680, to its first centennial, 1886 → online text (page 10 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

pany to be known as the 2d Light Infantry of the loth Regiment,
and to be organized when fifty names shall have been obtained to
this enlistment.

Willis Churchill,
Levi Churchill,
Lucius Ives,
Hobart Ives,
Peter L. Vanhouten,
Jared Atwater,
Ezra S. Munson,
Xervj- Hale,
L>Tnan Clinton,
Zera Pierpont,
Franklin Andrews,
Loyal Thorpe,
Alva Moulthrop,
Elmer Hopkins,
John H. Gill,
Sherlock H. Bishop,
Jasper E. Todd,
William Ailing,
Edwin Jacobs,
Alfred Ives,
Homer D. Ives,
Charles F. Robertson,
Orrin :Mansfield,
Luzerne ^[oulthrop,
Willis Munson,
Henry Bradley,
William T. Frost,
Franklin Brockett,

Isaac L. Stiles,
Edwin Mansfield,
Chauncey M. Barnes,
John Burke,
Justus Brockett,
Julius Smith,
Timothy W. Palmer,
Henry H. Stiles,
James A. Baldwin,
Merrick A. Robinson,
George H. Bunnell,
Samuel S. Foote,
Sherlock A. IMansfield,
Julius V. Beach,
Samuel Sackett,
Whiting S. Sanford,
Willis Jacobs,
Jairus Brockett,
Franklin Shepherd,
Ransford Button,
Byard Pierpont,
Charles T. Pierpont,
William Heald,
Austin Hall.
Samuel E. Tyler.
Harvey P. Eaton,
Charles R. Slate,
Justin Marks,


"William Patterson, William P. Todd,

Ammi Sackett, Philemon Hall,

David L. Smith, Orvile Selden,

Hiram Smith, Warren Cooper,

John R. Pierpont, William T. Doolitte,

Flavel C. Selden. Henry Frost,

William B. Brockett, Willis Hull,

Erus Bishop, Bennett Todd,

Merrit Moulthrop, Charles Redfield,

Jude B. Smith, John C. Moulthrop,

Henry M. Bradley, Lorenzo S. Goodyear,

Timothy Goodyear, Philander Robinson,

William Todd, Truman L. Morse,

Jesse O. Eaton, Charles Eaton,

Reuben W. Linsley, Francis Palmer,

Joel Todd, Lorenzo Sackett,

Loyal Moulthrop, Chauncey Blakeslee,

Jared Frost. James M. Payne.

These names, with the addition of a few others
apparently non-residents, made up the roster of
" The North Haven Blues," an organization which
added great prestige to the Tenth regiment in 183S.

The causes which gave birth to this independent
organization arose partly from pride to have a better
equipped company than the old militia body, and
partly from dissatisfaction with Captain Elizur C.
Tuttle, who at that time commanded it. Captain Tut-
tle was a strict disciplinarian, and had his peculiar
views of obedience and military duty, and made him-
self obnoxious by frequent fines imposed for slight
causes on the men of his command.

Virgil M. Cook was at this time colonel of the
regiment. He ordered an election at once, and on
August 6th, 1S3S, the petitioners met at John Ferrin's
tavern (now the late residence of Deacon N. W.
Brown), and chose the following officers:

Willis Churchill, captain; Peter L. Vanhouten, lieutenant;
Isaac L. Stiles, ensign.

Ezra S. Munson, first sergeant; Samuel E. Tyler, second ser-
geant; Franklin Andrews, third sergeant; Charles F. Robinson,
fourth sergeant.


Charles Slade, first corporal; Justin ilarks, second corporal;
Levi Churchill, third corporal; Orrin Mansfield, fourth corporal.

Musicians — Dennis Thorpe, Erus Bishop, Hobart Ives, Merritt

At this same meeting- they adopted a style of uni-
form which afterward received the approval of their
regimental officer, and thus their organization was
made complete.


"A coatee of blue woolen cloth, single breasted, with infantry
buttons on the breast, skirt and sleeves; three rows of said but-
tons on the breast: the breast well stuffed; the collar to be stand-
ing, with two blind button-holes of silver lace extending from the
front half way to the seam in the back of the collar, and a silver
cord extending round the collar at the lower edge of the seam; the
skirt to be turned up on the out edges with white cassimere, etc.,
etc. Long blue pantaloons, two stripes of silver lace on each leg,
and one and one-quarter inches apart. A black stock for the neck.
A cap of glazed leather, eight inches high, one inch smaller m
diameter at the top than at the bottom; chain of silver cord on
each side of it; silver plated star on top; large star, measuring
five inches from point to point, with spread eagle in center, and
silver plated front Cartouche boxes and bayonet scabbards to be
suspended by white webbing belt two inches wide, worn round
the body."

Such was the regulation dress of this Second com-
pany in its palmy days. The officers wore the same
uniform as the rank and file, with the exception that
they carried a white plume instead of blue. Captain
Churchill at once got his command down to business,
and May 6, 1839, issued the following order:*

" In accordance with an act forming and conducting the mili-
tary force of the State, I do hereby order that the public land near
and in front of the Episcopal church in North Haven be and the
same is hereby made the usual place of parade, and established as
such for the Second Light Infantry company of the Tenth regi-
ment of Conn. State Infantry." Willis Churchill, Captain.

This "place of parade" was chosen to avoid any
possible conflict with the older militia company, whose
drill ground lay in front of the present Congrega-
tional church. It is not anywhere said that there

• Records of the company.


existed any jealousy or enmity betAveen these two
org-anizations. The most friendly relations united

The total strength of the company, by the first
returns in May, 1839, was 62. At this muster there
appears to have been some delinquency in attendance,
as barely one-half of the company was present for
duty. Nine unfortunate privates (who may have been
planting peas) were fined four dollars for non-attend-
ance; the others were excused for cause.

In 1841 the first flank company of the Tenth regi-
ment was officially disbanded, and by a general order
the North Haven company w:as prdffioted to the right
of the line, and thenceforward known as the first
flank company.

In 1840 Captain Churchill resigned and was suc-
ceeded by Peter L. Van Houten, who in 1843 tendered
his resignation, and was succeeded by Justin Marks.
Both former gentlemen were Hamden men.

September 27, 1844, was a great day for North
Haven. It was '' general trainin' day." The regi-
ment was ordered to meet " near the house of William
S. Hall for inspection, review and exercise." On this
occasion the regiment marched to the open lots in the
rear and south of the residence of Romanta T. Lins-
ley. Captain Marks' company paraded with thirty-
five muskets, five musicians and three officers on this
occasion. It is said his command sustained its well
earned right to the name of the " ist company." Of
its line officers on that day only Willis Monson is
living; of its sergeants, Orrin Mansfield and Jesse O.
Eaton remain; of its corporals, not one is alive; of
its musicians, only Erus Bishop remains to tell how
they carried off the noisy honors of the day; of the
thirty-five privates only twelve survive.

In 1845 Captain ^larks laid down his sword and
Henry H. Stiles was elected to the command of the
company. In 1847 the State militia was reorganized



and the name of the regiment changed to the Second.
The name of the company also for some unexplained
reason was changed to the " 2d Company." The new
law did not work well. Interest in military matters
l)cgan to decline, and at the October inspection of
Captain Stiles' command in 1849 he had but nine mus-
kets, one musician and four officers in line; total four-
teen out of only thirty on the muster rolls.

Captain Stiles resigned his commission in the fall
of 1849, and on December 15 of that year, the company
met in the basement of the Congregational church,
and chose Bennett Todd as his successor. Captain
Todd had a forlorn hope to lead. His reports are
models of neatness, but the morale, the spirit of mili-
tary enthusiasm, was gone. His last report preceding
the dissolution of the company, was made September
26, 185 1. On this occasion only three officers and
eight privates reported for duty.

Such in brief is the record of the "North Haven
Blues." There are at present twenty-four surviving
members of this once famous organization, of which
Isaac L. Stiles is the highest ranking officer.

Contemporary with this organization flourished
another military company, carrying on its rolls some
of the best inhabitants of the town. To all appear-
ances it was the legitimate descendant of the old
organization of 1718, and at one time and another had
borne on its rolls the long list of officers before men-
tioned. Early in the present century (possibly in the
last) there were two such militia companies within
our borders. They were known respectively as
"The East-siders" and "The West-siders," the Qunni-
piac river being the line of separation. There was
considerable bickering and jealousy between these
rival bodies. At their annual musters each remained
on its own territory in the forenoon, but in the after-
noon it was customary to join forces in battalion drill
upon such side of the river as might be agreed upon.


Tradition has it that these parades were about the
most picturesque things under the sun, and if all the-
reports concerning" them are to be believed, their par-
ticipants were in no wise behind the democratic tend-
encies of the times. Most of the privates assumed
to know more than their officers and gave more
orders. Distinctions of rank were not always recog-
nized and so it was no uncommon thing for the ranks
to freely offer advice to their commanders.

As late as 1812 it was customary, if muster days
were stormy, to gather in the old Congregational meet-
ing-house for drill and inspection, and many a time
the rattle of the drum and the steady tramp of feet
was heard within that sacred place. The practice-
was common in the colony and had been continued
here many years. To Deacon Joshua Barnes, is
ascribed the credit of breaking it up. As a militia-
man on one occasion was standing on one of the seats
in the church. Deacon Barnes remonstrated with him
and was met by the rejoinder that " it didn't hurt the
old house." Turning to Captain Isaac C. Stiles, who
stood near. Deacon Barnes proposed that the next
drill be held in the Episcopal church as a fair change.
" By no means," said Mr. Stiles, " our church is conse-
crated to Almighty God." "Be it so," said Deacon
Barnes, " this shall no longer be used in this way."
And it was not !


Side by side with the establishment of the Presby-
terian church in this parish grew the Episcopal
church. Its genesis dates back to 1722; its focal point
was the hotise of Ebenezer Blakeslee; its father was
Rev. James Wetmore. This places its birth but six
years later than the founding of its sister church. It
is not pretended that there was an organization and
regular worship at this time, but as all great move-
ments resolve themselves out of a more or less nebu-
lous condition, so did* the elements of the Church of


En.q'land exist some years before they condensed into
visible substance.

The Rev. James Wetmore was dismissed from his
pastorate, in brief, because he " doubted the validity
(if his Presbyterian ordination." He went to England
tor Episcopal orders, received them at the hands
of the Bishop of London, in the chapel of Lambeth
Palace, was returned to New York city, and afterward
stationed at Rye, N. Y. His ministry of thirty-seven
years was remarkable for efficiency and widely ex-
tended results. It is not known that he ever came
to North Haven after his comparative banishment
therefrom. But, be that as it may, there is abundant
reason to believe his convictions became the convic-
tions of some of his parishioners, noticeably among
whom was Mr. Ebenezer Blakeslee.

It is a strange omission of President Ezra Stiles
that in his recorded list of the families of the parish
in 1 7 15 he makes no mention of Mr. Blakeslee. One of
the earliest settlers in the parish, he was a man of
strong conviction and indomitable perseverance. He
was a blacksmith and a hard worker. Tradition has it
his anvil was long preserved in the family, but now
irrecoverably lost. It will be recalled that it was
under his roof for many years prior to, and during the
building of the first meeting-house, that his neighbors
met in accordance with this resolution:

" Agreed on by y society that they will accept of y" house of
Ebenezer Blakeslee for y" publick worship of God, until y major
part of y society shall see cause to lay it aside."

It was thus he became the Obed Edom of his fel-
lows, having in his custody an ark of God while its
rude temple was biiilding.

Ebenezer Blakeslee came of good stock. He and
his descendants have been so identified with the his-
tory of the town that the record would be incomplete
without a somewhat detailed account of the family.

I. Samuel and John Blakeslee came from England
about 1636. They were blacksmiths, and brought


their anvils, hammers and tools of their craft neces
sary to set up their forges in the New World. Thcv
landed at Boston, and bought what was known as
" Boston Neck." Here they established their families
and attempted a livelihood, but patronage was poor,
and after a few years' struggle left their possessions
and emigrated to New Haven. Neither name appears
on any planters list, but when the meeting-house was
seated, in 1646, Samuel Blackley was assigned the first
seat "against the Soldiers seats." John remained in
New Haven but a little time before he removed to the
northwestern part of Connecticut and settled in what
is now Woodbury. Both these gentlemen were mem-
bers of the Church of England. Samuel died in 1672,
leaving an estate appraised at 231;^ 14s. pd. No dis-
tribution appears of this property, but there is men-
tion made in the inventory of " shop-tools, old iron,
&c." Of the children, thus far but two have been sat-
isfactorily accounted for, Samuel, Jr., and Ebenezer.

The Rev. Mr. Wetmore was dismissed late in 1722.
After that date Mr. Blakeslee's name no longer appears
on the First Ecclesiastical society's records, but in
1723 we find his temple doors opened once more to a
little company in sympathy with the old faith of his
fathers, who then and there at his hearthstone formed
the temporary society which later on became the
Church of England in North Haven. Thus literally
from the same source, within few years of each
other, sprang the two churches which for a century
and a half have dwelt so pleasantly together."

It is uncertain how many families at that time
entered into this Episcopal covenant, but in a little
while thereafter their recorded names were, in addi-
tion to Mr. Blakeslee's:

Thomas Ives,

Simon Tuttle,

Nathaniel Tuttle,

Samuel Btockett,

Lawrence C. Clenton (Clinton).


Of these men, Thomas Ives had been collector of
the "ministerial rate," and also prudential committee-
man in the old society, 1720-24. Simon Tuttle was
chairman of the meeting-house building- committee,
1718-1722, and was, moreover, noted for his "dissent-
ing " views in the business meetings of his associates.
The remaing three gentlemen had never been hon-
ored with any official station in the old society, so far
as appears.

Dr. Trumbull says of them in his Century sermon :
"One or two families embraced Episcopacy with Mr.
Wetmore which began the church in this town;"
and in speaking of the number of families holding to
Episcopacy a few years later he says — some think
with a touch of sarcasm: "The Church increased
considerably in these years by the population of the
one family of Mr. Ebenezer Blakeslee, who was the
first man of the Episcopal profession."

During the Rev. Isaac Stiles' pastorate in the First
Ecclesiastical society other families were added from
time to time to the temporary Episcopal organization.
Mr. Stiles' conservatism, and his in no wise hostile
demonstration toward the feeble minority here, prob-
ably spared them the serious troubles experienced
elsewhere, and to this day very pleasant memories
have been cherished by churchmen concerning him.

When they found themselves growing they like-
wise found that to be healthy they must have some
organization. There was nobody in New Haven to
unite with, and no " Church House " there. That was
the stronghold of orthodoxy; they could not look that
way. There were a few sympathizers in Walling-
ford, and a small number in Cheshire. With these
they consulted regarding a union of their interests
and a house of worship. A meeting was eventually
held at the house of Thomas Ives, where it was
agreed that a " Union Church " should be formed, and
on the Monday after Eas'ter, 1740, at Mr. Ives' house,


such a church was organized. The following officers

were chosen:

Thomas Ives, ) hardens,
North Ingham, )

Ebenezer Blakeslee, ^

Aaron Tuttle, i

Isaac Dayton, ^-. ^

} Vestry7/ien.
William Walter,

Enos Smith,

John Mackay,

North Ingham, Clerk.

Ives, Blakeslee, Tuttle, Dayton and Walter were
North Haven men. They held the balance of power,
and this indicates a stibstantial backing behind them.
At the same meeting steps were taken to build a
place of worship and to secure the services of a cler-
gyman, of which the number in the colony had now-
increased to six. They also agreed on a ministerial
rate as follows:

Thomas Ives, twenty shillings.

Ebenezer Blakeslee, ten shillings.

Aaron Tuttle, ten shillings.

Isaac Dayton, ten shillings.

William Walter, ten shillings.

Subsequently the following heads of families were
enrolled as members:

Abraham Blakeslee, Matthew Blakeslee,

John Parker, John Bassett,

Titus Brockett, Daniel Finch,

David Brockett.

Mount Carmel, Northford, Wallingford and Chesh-
ire furnished about twenty others, and they felt them-
selves strong enough for aggressive service.

During the year 1740 a small rude place of wor-
ship was built by them in the " Pond Hill " district in
Wallingford. It stood near the present residence of
George Allen. A reproduction of it taken from Dr.
Davis' History of Wallingford is here shown.




Pond Hill District, 1740.

The frame of this building, and perhaps some por-
tion of its covering', is still extant, and stands in the

rear of the old Jesse
Clinton place now
owned by Elizur C.
Clinton. It is about
twelve feet square,
low, and with a com-
paratively steep
roof. Familyhistory
fixes its authen-
ticity beyond ques-
tion, and it stands
to-day a silent witness of the troublesome times when
it cost something to be an Episcopalian.

In 1757 Wallingford abandoned the rude altar at
Pond Hill and in 1762 erected a more commodious
place of worship in the center of the village, and from
that time the union church became practically useless.
The Rev. Mr. Camp on his return engaged afresh in
building up and eucouraging his Master's work. He
officiated in Wallingford and North Haven as circum-
stances would allow and gave valuable assistance to
the church in both places. He was the first Episco-
pally ordained clergyman who officiated here. At
this time — 1757 — or when practically the "Union
Church " had been closed by the withdrawal of the
Wallingford members, it is not improbable that for
a little time the North Haven worshipers sought tem-
porary quarters back at the old fire-place of 1723.

A generation had passed by. Of the pioneers none
were alive, with the possible exception of Thomas
Ives, who died in 176S, at the age of eighty-four.
Great changes had been going on. They went out
■* an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the
mountains." They returned after varied and mani-
fest experiences, "bringing their sheaves with them."
A day was dawning on larger and better things, and



on April 24, 1759, the parish of St. John's Church,
North Haven, was formally organized.

The Rev. Ebenezer Punderson presided at this
meeting. Tradition aflfirms that it was held at the
house of Ebenezer Blakeslee. Mr. Punderson was a
native of New Haven. He graduated at Yale college
in 1726, and for a time was pastor of a Congregational
church in Groton. Like Mr. Wetmore and others he
experienced a change of views and went to England
for orders. He returned in 1752 and was stationed at
New Haven.

He gave three-quarters of his time to his church
there and at West Haven, and the remaining part to
the work in North Haven. He was eminently fitted
for his calling, and though his fields were widely scat-
tered, rendered efficient aid to them all.

At the meeting of April 24th, 1759, at Mr. Blakes-
lee's house, as just related, the following persons were
the first elected officers of the Church of England in
this place:

Ebenezer Blakeslee,

Mathew Blakeslee, \
Abraham Blakeslee, j
ZoPHAR Blakeslee, \ Vestrymen.
Gershom Barnes, J
Oliver Blakeslee, \ Clerk.

A declaration of principles was drawn up and re-
ceived the signatures of those willing to cast in their
fortunes with the old mother church. The following

is a copy:*

a subscrh'tion.

We, the subscribers, having seriously and in fear of God, con-
sidered the melancholy divisions of Christ's mistical body His
church, which he has purchased with his own blood, which above
all things ought to be at tinity within, & as much as may be at all
Times to endeavor to preserve the unity of the spirit in the Bond
of Peace, is the indispensible Duty of every Member of this his
Body, who is the Head of all things and the Judge of all Men

♦ St. John's Church Records.



Also disregarding the fear of Men which is a Snare, & having
ill the Fear of God examined into the Doctrine of the Chiirch of
I'ni^dand sumd up in the twelve Articles of the Apostles Creed,
which is the one Faith into which all her Members are baptized & in
some measure acquaint ourselves with her Government by Bishops,
Priests and Deacons which the greatest enemies of the Church of
J^ngland acknowledge to have been the Government of Christs
Church for 1500 years together, & also being sensible of the expe-
diency & Excellency of her worship by forms of Prayer in public
which all may understand and join ; in glorifying our heavenly
Father with one Jlind & one ]\Iouth according to the Apostles
Direction and Command Romans 15:6

Considering the particulars above mentioned we do profess our-
selves Members of the national established Church of England
and submit ourselves to the pastoral Care and charge of the Revd.
El)enezer Punderson the venerable societie's Missionary in Con-
necticut, but more especially in this town, hoping and trusting to
be at all Times intreated in his Pra^'ers and Blessings & pastoral
labors so far as his extensive Charge will admit of; & humbly
hope his Labors among us will not be in vain, nor our own, in
working out our own Salvation with fear and Trembling; always
considering the words of St. Paul — Hebrews 2:3 — how shall we
escape if we neglect so great Salvation.
Ebenezer Blakeslee, William Walter,

Edward Little, Thomas Walter,

Daniel Fince, John Spencer,

Mathew Blakeslee, , Benjamin Barns,

Ebenezer Blakeslee, jr., Ger.shom Barnes,

Abraham Sieley, Benjamin Smith,

Abraham Blakeslee, Reuben Bachelor,

Daniel Fince, jr., Jude Cooper,

Zuphar Blakeslee, Aaron Tuttle,

( )liver Blakeslee, William Sanford,

Samuel Pierpont. John Winston,

Samuel Brockett. Joel Blakeslee,

Samuel Mix, George Mix,

Stephen Mix, Gershom Todd,

John Blakeslee, Simon Tuttle,

Ashbel Stiles, James Pane,

Mecca Potter, Amos Allen,

John Clennon (Clinton), John Robenson.

These heads of families were the original mem-
bers of the parish. President Stiles mentions onlv a
portion of this list, but, significantly enough, the


names he does record are among the most prominent
supporters of the chnrch to-day.

Up to this time a few of these men had been proini-
nent officials in the First Ecclesiastical society. Notice-
ably among them were Samuel Brockett, Samuel Mix,
Zophar and Abraham Blakeslee, Jude Cooper and one
or two others, but it does not appear that these lost
caste in the society from which they seceded, for \\c
find some of them receiving appointments from the
very body which churchwise they had abandoned,
another proof that in North Haven at least, no ani-
mosity existed between the two organizations.

Online LibrarySheldon B. (Sheldon Brainerd) ThorpeNorth Haven annals : a history of the town from its settlement, 1680, to its first centennial, 1886 → online text (page 10 of 32)