Sheldon B. (Sheldon Brainerd) Thorpe.

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

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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 14 of 32)
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a vestryman of St. John's parish; both these acts
stamp the transfer from Congregationalism to Episco-
pacy as complete, but no cause is anywhere assigned
for the change.

Besides his study of medicine, Dr Munson had
gained considerable reputation as a vocalist. On his
connection with St. John's Church, this acquirement
seems to have been turned to good account, for he-
received an appointment as " Quircster " with Joel
and Oliver Blakeslee, in 1772. He served ten years in
this branch of sacred worship, with such associates as
the two above named, together with Isaiah Blakeslee,
Joseph Collins, John Seeley, Titus Frost, Joy Humas-
ton, Jonah Todd, John Tuttle and Mansfield Munson.
Under these gentlemen a high proficiency in vocal
music for that day was reached.

In 1786 Dr. Munson's name suddenly disappears
from the records, and we wot not what became of him.
Dr. Bronson alleges he was again recorded as a citi-
zen of New Haven proper soon after 1797, and that he
died in 1802. Jared Munson, his son, was made
administrator of his father's effects, but there was no
real estate left of all his once large possessions, and
he died insolvent.


The conception of the " Sabbath day house" seems
to have been distinctly Puritan. It was a peculiar
growth, born of an ernergency, tried with hesitancy,
and accepted not without some misgivings.


It was never considered an indispensable adjunct
to public worship, but as affording- shelter and tem-
porary comfort to the aged and the very young, it
at length attained a wide popularity. Scarcely a
meeting-house was to be found whose shadow did not
fall on its " Sabbath day houses."

To the rigorous New England winter it owes its
origin. The long distances traveled on the Lord's
day and lecture days, often on foot, the almost com-
pulsory attendance of young and old at the meet-
ing-house — the extreme length of the sacred services
there, all combined to make church-going, particularly
in winter, no slight undertaking. The effects of such
exposure by and by began to be felt in the settle-
ments, particularly on the women and children, and it
may aptly be asked if the germs of an occasional case
of " old-fa.shioned consumption," so prevalent atone
time, were not originated in those cold meeting-
houses. Veritable barns many of the earliest con-
struction were, often with only a thin board parti-
tion between the worshiper and a freezing January
day. There are those living who rememl^er vividly,
in many an icy temperature, the visible streams of
breath rising in clouds all over the sanctuary on a win-
ter morning.

Those parishioners who lived nearest the meeting-
house availed themselves of a brief period of warmth
by going home during the "intermission." Others
had to brave it out or rely upon the hospitality of
their neighbors near the sanctuary. It is said some
of the Connecticut clergy frowned upon this latter
practice, when they found it growing among their
congregations. Such gatherings around a fireplace,
especially among thewomen, on the Lord's day, were
not accounted means of grace, and the habit was dis-

Thus out of these circumstances, and perhaps
others, the Sabbath day house was evolved. It seems



singular that with these discomforts mentioned,
the attention of the people was not directed to thc'
condition of their meeting-houses, and their conse-
quent betterment in warmth and protection, rather
than to relief from outside agencies. It is only as we
reflect what queer notions our ancestors had concern-
ing the sanctity of their places of worship that we find
any explanation. Personal ease in religion was an
equation never to be worked out by them; within the
early time meeting-house man was not to live bv
bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of
the mouth of God. The necessary overshadowed the
unnecessary, and hence, while the town meeting, the
society meeting, the militia drill, the ballot-box.
brought each its oftentimes indecorous followers, it
was deemed no invasion of the Almighty's rights:
but when, it is said, it was once broached in Dr.
Trumbull's church that a chimney and fireplace be
constructed, the horrified worshipers arose and would
have thrust the thoughtless suggestor headlong from
among them.

It cannot be definitely stated where the first " Sab-
bada house " in New England was located; probably
it was in ^lassachusetts. " These houses (says Bar-
ber) were one story in height, containing usually two
rooms about twelve feet square, with a chimney
between them, and a large fireplace in each. They
were commonly built by two or more families. Dry
wood was stored ready for use. Frequently shelter
was provided for the family horse. Early preparation
was made Sabbath morning to be in season at the
church. Those living at a distance were generally
first at the sanctuary. If they were owners of a " Sab-
bada house " in winter a roaring fire was built and the
family thoroughly warmed before assembling in the
meeting-house to shiver through the long service. At
noon they retired thither for lunch of bread, cheese,
doughnuts, apples and ci'der, the while being warmed


again for the afternoon service. At the close of the
day the coals were extinguished, the building made
secure, and they returned to their homes."

Such, in the main, seems a truthful description of
these bygone landmarks. The owner of the first one
built in this parish was probably Theophilus Heaton,
some time prior to 1753, for on May 28 of that year
Mr. Stiles sold James Bishop and Stephen Hill a "par-
cel of ground 2 12-16 rods wide and 13 rods long for a
* Sabbath day house ' bounded north on Theophilus
Heaton, &c." The consideration for this "parcel"
was sixteen pounds, and its location was a little north
of the new public school building. Other buildings
followed, put up from time to time on the south and
west sides of " the market place," extending from the
corner opposite the " Pine Trees " to Linsley's hall; in
all there were ten or twelve of these houses. Among
the early owners, Abraham Bassett had a quarter
interest in 1784; Samuel Sackett had a whole building
in 1786; James Humaston, one in the same year; Cap-
tain Joshua Barnes and Hezekiah Pierpont were joint
owners in 1786; Joel Barnes and Ezekiel Jacobs were
partners in one in 1787; Samuel Thorpe in 1798; Isaac
C. Stiles in 1796; John Sanford, Seth Barnes, David
Barnes, Lawrence Clinton, Benjamin Beach, were
early possessors; Dr. Joseph Foote bought his in 1797;
Deacon Solomon Tuttle; Justus Bishop, Isaiah Brock-
ett and Hezekiah Tuttle were each proprietors in their
day. An old diagram of the location of a part of
these buildings (west side of the market place), made
not far from the year 1800, is in existence and owned
by ^Irs. Sarah Shepherd.

Of these buildings, most were single houses, that
is, of one room each. None were ever painted, and all
were more or less rough in construction. Nearly all
were provided with sheds, and some with closed
stables in the rear for the family horse. Conveyances
of these small pieces of real estate were quite com-



mon, and there was much changing of owners at one
time, according to the records. The introduction of
stoves into the meeting-house marked the beginnin;^'
of the decline of the Sabbath day houses, and when
the present brick edifice was erected their doom be-
came sealed. The necessity for their use had ceased to
exist, and one after another they fell into decay.
Some were torn down, and others drawn away to fill
less honorable positions.

The last to yield to the march of events was the
old Isaiah Brockett house, which stood between the
present old and new school buildings in the Fourth

district. This was

demolished between
r845 and 1850. There
is still existing one
of these old relics,
once owned by Cap-
tain Joshua Barnes,
and which stood be-
tween " the pines "
and the brick house
below. This was re-
moved by Deacon
Byard Barnes, and now stands upon the old estate.
The frame is in fair order, and it has been suggested
by a prominent Congregational church officer that it
be bought and returned to its native heath as a nriemo-
rial of the days of "auld lang syne."


It will doubtless be a surprise to the young read-
er to know that slaves were formerly owned in North
Haven. Their circumstances, however, were not to be
compared with that condition of servitude which
existed in the south before the civil war, for the
northern slave in care, in protection, in privilege so
far exceeded his southern . brother as to make his

(Once owned by Capt. 'Joshua Barnes.

* From a photograph by the author.


bondage in many cases merely nominal. And yet he
was held as property, bought and traded like the
more iinforttinate of his race below the Potomac.

Accurate information concerning these slaves is
exceedingly meager. There is no recorded sale that
we wot of, nor any record kept of their numbers in
the parish.

Of the slaveholders here, it is said that Giles
Pierpont, Jonathan Eaton, Thomas ^lansfield, Heze-
kiah Miller, Peter Eastman, and Samuel Hemingway
were notable examples. In the case of the latter
three we have the manumission records most fortu-
nately preserved as an interesting addition to the
history of the town.

North Haven, Conn.
January the 14th day A. D. 1795.
This may inform all whom it may concern, that we the sub-
scribers having examined into the health and age of Ben the
Negro Slave of Mr. Joel Blakeslee of North Haven, Do find that
the said Slave is now in good health and appears to be of a healthy
Constitution and that he is not of greater age than forty-five
years nor less than twenty-five years, and that he the said Slave
is desirous of being Emancipated.
Certified by

Joseph Pierpont, Justice of the Peace.
Joshua Barns, Selectman.
Joseph Brockett, Selectman.
North Haven, Conn.,
January', the 14th day, A. D., 1795.
Know all whom it may concern that I Joel Blakeslee of North
Haven in the County of J^Jew Haven, for divers good Causes and
Considerations me moving thereunto, have Emancipated & set free
Hen my Negro Slave, and by these Presents do fully clearly and
absolutely Emancipate & make free the Negro man so that from
this day and forward neither I myself nor my heirs shall have any
Kight to his Service as a slave.

In witness whereof I hereunto have subscribed my name.

Joel Bl.\keslee.
In presence of I J-g|;,';j;P-';

Received for Record the 14th day of January A. D. 1795.

.Joseph Pierpont, Clerk.


North Haven,

September 29th day A. D. 179S.

Know all men whom it may concern that I, Samuel Hemiii''-
way of North Haven in the county of New Haven for a valuabk-
consideration already received to my full satisfaction of Dick my
Negro Servant and Slave, have emancipated and set free my
Negro Slave Dick and Ellis his wife my Negro Servant and Slave

also so that from and after this day neither I myself

nor my heirs nor any under me or them "shall have any Right.
Title or claim to them the said Negroes named Dick and Ellis.

Samuel Hemingway.

Captain Eastman's papers are similar to the forc-
g-oing mentioned, and he emancipated his "Slave
Jube " in 1801. Jube went to Branford, Conn., remain-
ing there about twenty-five years, and then removed
to Durham, Conn. In 1832 he married Dinah Smith, of
Wallingford, and five years later applied to Durham
for help. Durham sent him to North Haven, and
North Haven charged him to Branford. Branford
would not own him, and the result was, after much
windy litigation, Durham was compelled to provide
for him and his wife while they lived.

Hezekiah Miller lived in the " old brick house on
the plains *' now owned by Dennis Thorpe, and had u
slave " Tom." This faithful old fellow refused to be
freed and lived to a great age, dying upon the place.


The years 1774-1778 inclusive were marked by the
ravages of the small-pox in the parish. A pest house
was established by the authorities near the present
residence of Henry Hull, and also on the borders of
the town near Mt. Carmel, and thither the affected
ones were compelled to go. From a memorandum
dated April 4, 1777, the following names are taken,
showing to some extent the workings of the dread-
ful disease at that time:

Benjamin Pierpont, wife and son, Jonah Blakeslec.
William Crane, Hezekiah Todd, Samuel Sackett, Jr.,
Lemuel Bradley, Peter Butler, Joel Blakeslee, wife
and three children, Chauncey Bradley, John G. Tut-



tie, Titus Frost, Ezra Pierpont, Retiben Barnes, Am-
brose Barnes.

It is evident that the above does not include the
entire list of sufferers, but that these mentioned were
all ill at or about the same time. If any record of
the deaths resulting from this disease was kept it has
not yet been found. Dr. Trumbull refers only to two
or three specifically as follows:

"Mary Mansfield, aged seventeen, died of the
small-pox by inoculation in 1774."

"Joseph Clark died of the small-pox January 18,

" Phineas Clark died of the small-pox February 2,

" Obed Blakeslee died of the small-pox 1778."

" Zophar Jacobs died of the small-pox by inocula-
tion in 1778." (See muster roll revolutionary sol-

Besides these there are other deaths (causes not
mentioned) which are difficult to accotint for except
as the result of this epidemic. For instance:

James Heaton died October 13, 1776, his wife died
October 6 and his son James died September 30, all
within two weeks. They were buried in the Muddy
River cemetery.

Thomas and Abigail Humiston lost two children
March 11 and 26, 1774, and three more children within
eight days in September, same year.

Joseph Tyler and wife lost three children within
eleven days in December, 1776.

These are but few of the many instances of mor-
tality in the parish about this time, and whether they
are attributable to this disease or not. it is a signifi-
cant fact that no such pestilence has to any extent
visited the community since.


It is very evident our ancestors had considerable
faith in the duration of the world and of the country


they were opening, as witness a few of the leases of
real estate they made. It is not asserted that these
remarkable documents were never released or quit-
claimed, but they are mentioned as an interesting;-
chapter in the history of the town, and in the case
of the school districts, as a warning to examine
the titles to their school sites and govern them-
selves accordingly.

On March 19, 1784, John Heaton leased of David
Jacobs, for seven shillings and sixpence, a strip of
land one and one-half rods wide to reach to a water-
ing place, for "nine hundred ninety and nine years."'

On February 22, 1790, Joseph Doolittle, owner of
the grist mill- at Quinnipiac, and who afterwards sold
his interest to Caleb Atwater, leased to the latter gen-
tleman for ten shillings, the privilege, for five hun-
dred years, to use stone fi^om an adjacent lot to repair
the mill dam.

The next lease, because of its peculiar considera-
tion, is presented entire:

Know all men by these presents that I, Seth Heaton. of the
town and county of New Haven, State of Connecticut Do Lea>e
and do Farm Let out unto Ebenezer Brockett of the Town and
County aforesaid, one acre and an half of my land called Pine
Hill lot, at the east end, for nine hundred and ninety-nine years
from the date hereof, to cut and use the Wood and Timber and
Improve the land as he pleases for the following considerations.
•viz : That the said Ebenezer Brockett procure a man to do the
present tour of Duty of my son Philemon Heaton for 3 months in
the State Service ; but if the man procured is holden only one
month the said Brockett is to have only one Acre of land, and if
two months, then an acre and a quarter. Seth Heaton.

North Haven, The loth day August, 17S0.

On May 12, 17 84, Dr. Walter ]\Iunson, then owner
of the grist mill at Quinnipiac, and who afterwards
sold it to Joseph Doolittle, leased to said Joseph Doo-
little and Joel Doolittle, their heirs and assignees, for
JQ20, the right for 500 years to erect a " Fulling Mill"
on the stream at said Quinnipiac.


On January 10, 1801, were executed five rather
remarkable leases, which, it may be, the present
alleged owners of the property are in ignorance of.
These leases were made by Eneas Munson, Jeremiah
Atwater, Samuel Bishop and Jonathan Ingersoll,
known as " The Hopkins Grammar School Commit-
tee " of New Haven. The said Hopkins wSchool
owned twenty-six acres and nine rods of meadow
within the limits of North Haven, and it was thought
advisable to divide this tract into five parts, and
sell the lease of each for " nine hundred ninety and
nine years " at " public vendue." This was accord-
ingly done, and the auction was held December 18,

The highest bidder for lot No. i was Gideon Todd,
who for the payment of ^62 los. received for himself,
his heirs and assigns, the right to use and improve
said tract without any molestation whatever during
said term of nine hundred and ninety-nine years.

Lot No. 2 was taken by Captain Joshua Barnes for
;^58 I OS., for the same term and with the same condi-
tions as the preceding.

Lot No. 3 was bid off by John Barns for ^37 los.
Lot No. 4 by Nathaniel Dayton for ^31 12s., and lot
No. 5 was taken by Harmon Robinson for ;£j,2. Thus
the tract was disposed of, and on the loth of January,
2800, these leases will expire. Present occupants need
give themselves no uneasiness on that account.

The next item concerns the land on which one of
the public schools of North Haven once stood. This
was leased by James Pierpont " To the inhabitants of
the North Hill School District so called," on June 11,
1793, for the term of "nine hundred and ninety-nine
years." It was given " For and in the consideration
of the pleasing Motive of doing Good and promoting
Literature by furnishing North Hill District with a
convenient place for a school house." The provision
was "That the inhabitants of said district Keep and


maintain a convenient school house during said term
of lease, otherwise this lease be Null & Void and the
use of said land revert back to me and my heirs." The
original bounds of this plot were as follows: North on
Mr. Pierpont's land, east by the highway, south by
Joshua Barnes, and west again by Mr. Pierpont. Its
area was four square rods. (The present building-
does not stand upon this grant).

The Montowese school district, on condition of
good behavior and attention to business, can continue
its lease indefinitely. This district is indebted to
Richard Brockett for its grant. The consideration
was four dollars, and the party of the second part was
" Levi Ray, Calvin Easton, and Samuel Barns and the
rest of the inhabitants of the said district." The area
of the plot was 44 feet by 28 feet, and bounded south
and west by Mr. Brockett, north by Calvin Eaton, and
east by the highway. The " condition " of the lease
is stated in this wise:

" To have hold and occupy the same by the said lessees without
hindrance or molestation from me or my heirs so long as the said
lessees shall keep and support a good and sufficient School House
for said District ; but whenever they shall fail to do that, then
the above described land shall revert back to me my heirs or
assigns as though this Lease had never been made."

Dated at North Haven this Sth day of December, 1S03.


It will not come amiss in these. chapters to know
upon what intellectual meat our fathers fed. A cata-
logue of " Books in the North Haven Library " has
been discovered among the Evelyn Blakeslee papers,
and though it is without date, the character of the
volumes place it not far from ninety years since:

Elegant Extracts i volume. Beauties of the Specta-
tor 2, Fordice's Address i. Sermons 2, Knox's Essays 2,
.Franklin's Life and Essays i. Bank's Life of Cromwell
I, Pamela and Clarissa i,_ Seneca's Morals i, Walter
and Charlotte i, Morse's Geography 2, Sherlock on a


Future State i, Bruce's Travels i, Bennett's Lectures
and Strictures i, Dodd's Prison Thoughts i, Coquette
I, Nelson's Festivals i, Scott's Lessons i, Fool of
Quality 3, Rasselas i, Benjowsky's Travels 2, Barring-
ton's Botany Bay i. Burgh's Dignity of Human
Nature i, Burton's Lectures i, Humphrey Clinker 2,
Tom Jones 3, Wilson's Pelew Islands 2, Beauties of
History 3, Anderson's Embassy to China i, Addison's
Evidences i, Seabury's Sermons i, Rambler 4, Family
Instructor i, Learning and Dissertations i, Modem
Travels 6, Doddridge's Rise and Progress i, American
Preacher i, Romance of the Forest 2, Dean's New
England Farmer i, Cheselder's Anatomy i, Persian
Tales 2, Jefferson's Notes on Virginia i, Mitchell's
Nomenclature i, Allen's Roman History i, Pope's
Essay on Man i, Beauties of Sterne i, Fox on Time i,
Trumbull on Revelation i, Grace and Trtith i, Trum-
bull's History of Connecticut 2.

A truly solid bill of fare for the growing North








The Rev. Isaac Stiles died May 14, 1760. A special
meeting of the Ecclesiastical Society was called June
18, same year. Deacon Thomas Cooper, Esq., Samuel
Sackett, Thomas Mansfield and Captain Dan Ives were
" chosen as a Committee to take care and see that
the pulpit was Supplyed." It was also directed "that
the above chosen committee should apply themselves
to our association for advice and Direction." Aaron
Blakeslee did not approve of the proceedings, for a
foot note in connection witn the record adds: "Aaron
Blakeslee Desired to have his protest entered. Sec.
against what was Done at this meeting."

Benjamin Trumble, the son of Benjamin and Mary
Trumble, was born in Hebron, Conn., December 19,
1735. He was graduated at Yale college in 1759. Upon
leaving that institution he was employed as a teacher
in Dr. Wheelock's Indian Charity school at Columbia,
• Conn., and at the same time studied theology under
that worthy dominie. He was licensed to preach in
1760, probably by the General Association which met
that year in North Branford. In answer to the appli-
cation for " advice and direction," made as referred
to, young Trumble was brought to the notice of the
North Haven church. It was in the summer of 1760
that he first stood in the pulpit so long filled by Mr.
Stiles and preached his maixlen sermon. At this time


he was but twenty-five years of ag-e. There must
have been something" engaging in his manner and
attractive in his preaching, for shortly after this
record is entered: "Voted by the Society, even by
every one present that they were Desirous to have
Mr. Trumble preach with us till the meeting of the
Association, and then with their advice as a Proba-
tioner in order for Settlement." And again, October
31st, same year, "Voted that we were willing to give
Mr. Trumble J 220 Lawful ]Money Settlement, and
also that we would clear and fence 10 acres of the
Society Lott and sequester to Mr. Trumble During his
work of the Ministry among us, and also that Mr.
Trumble should have Liberty to get what Timber he
could of all sorts for building of his house (if he
should want to build among us) out of the Society
Lott." A little later, thinking this inducement not
enough, so much were they prepossessed in favor of
the young preacher, they further "Voted to give Mr.
Trumble ^^-j^ Lawful Money and 25 cords of W'Ood
yearl}' during his Ministry among us." And then in
another and last appeal they decided not only to clear
ten acres of land, but to make it twenty.

The pressure of all these propositions and impor-
tunities finally won the young theologue. not, however,
until a conference between all interested had been
held and a fixed standard of money for his salary
agreed upon. In this case 225 ounces of silver, val-
ued at six shillings and eight pence per" ounce, or its
equivalent in the common currency of the colony,

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 14 of 32)