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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In 1779, Colonel Russell issued an order for muster
.and inspection as follows:

"To the Captains and Commanding Officers of the several
companies of Alarm List and Militia in the Parish of North
Haven :

Greeting, etc.

On the back of the order are endorsed the follow-
ing names:

David Mix. Eli Sackett,

Samuel Pierpont, Dan Barnes,

Benjamin Pierpont, * Titus Tuttle.


Enos Pardee, Walter J[onson. '^

Benjamin Barnes, William Sanford,

James Bishop, Zophar Blakeslee,

Samuel Mix, John Parker,

/Richard Brockett, Daniel Bassett.

Thomas Humaston, John Gilbert.

Samuel Tuttle, Giles Pierpont.

Ebenezer Brockett, Samuel Mansfield,

Seth Barnes, Isaiah Brockett,

David Thorpe, Oliver Blakeslee, . ■• ' "■

Enos Todd, . Demas Bradley,

Hezekiah Todd, Robert Tomlison,

James Humaston. Reuben Beach,

Daniel Doolittle, Joseph Bassett.

Besides' Dr. Trumbull, there were three not born
in the parish, but residents of it, who threw in their
fortunes with the army, and when discharged
returned here, lived and died, and were nominally
North Haven men. The first to be named is


Peter Eastman was born in the town of Ashford,
Conn., July 25, 1746. It is not known when he came
to North Haven, although it is conjectured about
1776. He enlisted first as a drummer from his native
town in April, 1775, and marched for the relief of Bos-
ton in the " Lexington Alarm." He was ten days in
this service. Subsequently he drifted down to North
Haven, and enlisted in Captain Jacob Brockett's
company, June, 1776. In 1777 his name is mentioned
as being in General Gates' command " To the North-
ward." Having discharged his military duty, he
settled down here as a farmer. In 17S0 was made a
member of the parish school committee, and in 1799
was raised to the rank of captain in the State militia.
June 23, 1801, he married jNIary, daughter of Dr. Ben-
jamin Trumbull. His homestead at that time was the
farm now occupied by Burt H. Nichols. Here he lived
until his death, June 12,* 1829, at the age of eighty-


three. The following epitaph upon his tombstone in
the old cemetery does not overstate the truth:

He was for many Years

a member

of the Church of Christ

in this place

and a friend and supporter

of the

Institutions of Rehgion




Nathaniel Stacy came on foot to North Haven, in
•company with Peter Eastman, mentioned above. He
■enlisted in Captain Leavenworth's company, Colonel
Webb's regiment, July lo, 1775, and was mustered out
December 20, same year. He must have re-enlisted in
some other command, for the authority is good that
he was at the destruction of Arnold's gunboat fleet on
Lake Chainplain. He was taken prisoner there and
remained in the enemy's hands until early in 1779,
when he was paroled by Sir Guy Carleton, Governor
of Canada. He reached North Haven about July i,
1779, and on General Tryon's invasion of New Haven,
July 5, broke his parole by taking his musket and
starting for the scene of the conflict. Here he nar-
rowly escaped capture, but had several shots at his
old foe.

He married ^Mabel Beach, of this parish, and lived
on the site now occupied by James G. ]\Iansfield. Of
his children, Sally married Julius Heaton, from who
descended Charles, Sarah (married Captain H. H.
Stiles), ]\Ierab (married Chauncey Blakeslee), James.
Susan (married John E. Brockett). i\lr. Stacy's young-
est daughter, ^^label, is still remembered by the older
people of the town as a school teacher for many years.
^Ir. Stacy died April i, 1^27, and was buried in the
old cemetery.


The third man of the trio was


This person was more familiarly known as "Doc-
tor Ralph," though it is not known whence the title
originated. Unlike the former gentlemen mentioned,
Ralph had performed his duty to his country pre-
vious to coming to North Haven. His birthplace is
unknown. He enlisted September 6. 1777, for three
years in Captain Wilcox's company, Colonel Baldwin's
regiment, artificers. In this command he saw hard
fighting at Brandywine, Germantown, iSIonmouth and
on other battlefields.

He came to North Haven at or about the close of
the war, and worked at his trade of ship carpenter in
the shipyard at Mansfield's bridge. He married
Eunice, widow of Jacob Thorpe. (See sketch of lat-
ter). One child, Tilla, was born to them, August 4,
1785, who married a daughter of Seth and Naomi
(Thorpe) Blakeslee, and emigrated to Pennsylvania.

Dr. Ralph was the joker of the village. In his
later years he became somewhat intemperate, and
did not always maintain, it is feared, that dignity
and sobriety of manner becoming to one of his age.
Tradition avers that not unfrequently, to the great
scandal of Dr. Trumbull and others of his orthodox
neighbors, he would don his old regimentals, and
bestriding his white horse, would gallop furiously up
and down " the common," marshalling imaginary
hosts of veterans, and yelling like a Comanche warrior.

Occasionally, when "under the influence," he
would cunningly dispatch his son with various mes-
sages, and the whole village would soon find itself
"rounded up" at the pseudo doctor's door, only
to find the summons of the most trivial importance,
but, nevertheless, managed with the utmost solem-
nity. In his later years he obtained a pension, but
his partner appointed herself treasurer thereof, to the


disgust of the old gentleman. It is related that en
one occasion while his pension money was bcin^.:
counted, the ex-warrior suddenly seized and swallowed
a silver piece. Old " Granny Ralph," as she was named
toward the close of her life, and whose seventy years
had not been spent in vain, was equal to the emer-
gency, and by the prompt administration of will and
medicine recovered the coin. The couple lived in
the old Isaac Thorpe house, which stood upon the
corner now owned by the Rev. W. T. Reynolds. This
was a large unpainted structure, which many of our
older citizens remember. Mr. Ralph died in 1823 and
his widow in 1824.


Fortunately the rolls of two such organizations in
North Haven have been discovered, and the member-
ship of one of them, ("the fourth division,") is sub-
mitted here:

Sergeant— Titus Tuttle.

Corporal — David Thorp.
Daniel Bassett, David Bradley,

John Blakeslee, Joel Cooper,

Jonathan Blakeslee, Daniel Doolittle,

Abraham Blakeslee, John Gilbert,

Jacob Brockett, 2d, Daniel Hulls,

Enos Brockett, Walter Slonson, >/

Joel Bradley, Samuel Tuttle,

Ebenezer Bradley, Hezekiah Todd.

No date is given on this list, but it is not later
than 1782.


Nothing short of a memoir can do justice to this
distinguished patriot. His service alone in the
defense of his country would fill many pages, and as it
cannot all be recounted here, only a brief attempt will
be made to give him a place among his comrades
with whom he marched, ^fought and shared the for-
tunes of war.



Following the outbreak at Lexington, April 19,
1775, Governor Trumbull svimnioned the General
Asyembly of the state to meet on the 26th instant. It
obeyed and remained in session ten days. The lead-
ing measure enacted was the raising of six regiments
of soldiers for the defense of the colony for a term
not to exceed seven months.

Among the first to report for duty was Colonel
Wooster, and his command was promptly accepted by
the authorities. Of this regiment the Rev. Benjamin
Trumbull was made chaplain. The pay rolls show
half a dozen or more North Haven men in the ranks;
among them Abner and Joel Thorpe, Thomas Pier-
pont, Abraham Bassett and two or three others.

During this campaign, Chaplain Trumbull kept a
very full journal, extracts from which were recently
read before the New Haven Historical Society, by
the Rev. "William T. Reynolds, of this town, who has
been entrusted with the classification and indexing of
such of the Trumbull papers as can be secured.

The term of service of this regiment expired in
November, 1775, ^^<^ the North Haven men undoubt-
edly returned home.

Early in 1776 a brigade was "called for" to rein-
force Washington's army at New York. In the Fifth
battalion of this (Colonel Douglass') Mr. Trumbull
received again the appointment as chaplain at the
hands of the General Assembly. The period of enlist-
ment was for six months. In this brief time, however,
the battalion was far from idle and experienced con-
tinuous fighting from Long Island to White Plains.
Captain Jacob Brockett's company was in this organi-
zation, as has been noted, and at the expiration of
enlistment all returned to Connecticut but Thomas
Barnes, Thomas Smith and Isaac Bishop, who died in
the service.

Chaplain Trumbull and his comrades had hardly
reached home when an impassioned appeal for men


was made to march forthwith to the vicinity of R •,•■■.
N. Y., to deal the enemy an effective blow at t];;.i
point. The emergency was sudden, and compaiiit
were hurried forward at all possible speed, so soor. .;s
organized. Mr. Trumbull's two campaigns made hi:;;
keenly alive to the situation, and no sooner h;i(!
the new year opened — 1777 — than he began recruitin-
a company under the following conditions, the
draft of which is still preserved among his papers:

"We whose names are underwritten enlist our-
selves as volunteers for the service of the country in
the present emergency for the term of ten days. .'T
three weeks, if our services shall be wanted so long, ii.
serve under such officers as shall be chosen by tlic
company of volunteers to which we join."

January 13, 1777.

The following is the muster roll of this company.
The original paper, in the doctor's handwriting, is
owned by James Terry, Esq., of New York city. Only
the names of the North Haven men are here given.
The full company included sixty members, the others
belonging in Hamden:

Corporal Reuben Tuttle, discharged January 13, 1777.
Private Enos Todd, discharged February 14, 1777.
Private Abel Tuttle, discharged February 14, 1777.
Corporal Thomas Pierpont, discharged May 12, 1777.
Private Isaac Brockett, discharged May 12, 1777.
Private Joel Thorpe, discharged February 2, 1777.
Private Solomon Tuttle, discharged jSIarch 12. 1777.
Private Yale Todd, discharged February 2, 1777.
Private Caleb Thomas, discharged February 7, 1777.
Private Monsou Brockett, discharged February 2, 1777.
Private Jared Tuttle, discharged February 2, 1777.
Ensign Jared Hill, discharged February 3, 1777.
Private Jacob Brockett, discharged February 5, 1777.
Private Enos Broekett, discharged February 17, 1777.
Sergeant Gideon Todd, discharged February 6, 1777.
Sergeant Jacob Thorp, discharged February 6, 1777.
Private Timothy Thorp, di.scharged February 7, 1777.
Private Jared Blakeslee, discharged February 7, 1777-


Private Jesse Todd, discharged February 7, 1777.
Private John Smith, discharged February 10, 1777.
Corporal Ebenezer Todd, discharged March 18, 1777.
Private Ezekiel Jacobs, discharged March 2S, 1777.
Drummer Jared Barnes, discharged May, 1777.
Private Benjamin Bassett, discharged February 13, 1777.
Private Caleb Tuttle, discharged February 7, 1777.
Private Clement Tuttle, discharged February 17, 1777.
Private Jonathan Tuttle, discharged February 17, 1777.
Private Jonathan Dayton, discharged February 17, 1777.
Private John Brockett, discharged February 26, 1777.
Private David Bishop, discharged ]\Iarch 4, 1777.
Private William Tuttle. discharged March 8, 1777.
Private Joseph Sperry (?), discharged April 10. 1777.
Private Solomon Jacobs, discharged JMay 12, 1777.
Private Calvin Heaton, discharged May 26, 1777.
{'Private Stephen Ives, discharged January 30, 1777.
Private Levi Cooper, discharged May 20, 1777.
Sergeant Jacob Hitchcock, discharged February 10, 1777.

This little company was a battalion in itself and
marched at once for the threatened point " to assist
in making an effort to destroy the enemy."

We have no account of any collision between the
forces. The North Haven men under Lieutenant
Gilbert were sent forward to Mamaroneck, N. Y.,
while the balance of the company remained at Rye.
They returned home in a scattering manner, accord-
ing to the pay roll, and were discharged in the months
of February and ]\larch.

Two years of study and pastoral labor now fol-
lowed. In July, 1779, General Tryon appeared on the
coast, and grasping his musket Captain Trumbtill hur-
ried to New Haven on horseback ready for the fray.
Professor Silliman relates that the old veteran took
an active part in resisting the British general's
advance, and it is traditionary that with his par-
ishioner, Eliada Sanford, they tore up Neck Bridge, to
prevent the enemy's raid into the country.

For the succeeding thirty years or more Dr.
Trumbull closely followed his profession. In this


interval he did his best work in study and pu]])ii
The war of 1812 came on and again the old fires (.t
patriotism flamed tip within him. Says the Cohtntlniu.
Register of New Haven, nnder October 4, 1S14, \\\
speaking of the building of the fort on Beacon II ill :
*' On Thursday one hundred men from the town of
Xorth Haven, under the direction of their Rev. Pas-
tor, Dr. Trumbull, the venerable historian of Conneu-
ticut, 86 years of age, volunteered their services and
spent the day in the same patriotic work. This aged
minister addressed the throne of grace and implored
the divine blessing on their undertaking."

A writer in the New York Evening Post of April
29, 1882, in speaking of this distinguished divine, cites
an instance of his descending from' the pulpit on a
certain Lord's day early in 1775 ^^<3. turning up the
leaf of the communion table inviting his parishioners
to enlist for the defense of their country. Forty-six
responded, so the story goes, and marched away to
the northwest. Such an occurrence may have hap-
pened later in the war, either at the enlistment for
the Rye campaign or at the volunteering to assist in
the building of the , fort on Beacon Hill, but it is
very doubtful if so large a force of North Haven men
engaged thus early in the struggle.


No native of the town can fail to reflect with pride
on the long muster roll of revolutionary patriots
as presented in these pages. Out of this large num-
ber of enlistments there is only one recorded case
of desertion,* a fact which, in view of the peculiarly
trying times in which they served, speaks well for
the parish boys. But this tide of loyalty, of which
we are so proud, did not rise so high as to flood
the entire community. Here, as elsewhere, were men
contented with the rule of the mother country. They

* Jacob Drockett, zd.


could not see in devastated states, sacked towns, pil-
laged homes, impoverished families, an advantage
which would warrant bringing such horrors on them-
selves. While they regretted the pressure of the hand
of England, the more conscientious remembered the
low estate fi-om which they had grown, and that they
were but colonies of hers, and as such, hers to gov-
ern. Others did not believe her shackles could be
broken, but that every attempt to do so would but
rivet them closer. Thus not every one stood boldly
on his feet to catch the blessed wind of Liberty blow-
ing across the land, but either sat silent in his place
or secretly rendered aid and encouragement to the
enemies of his country.

Such persons were called " tories." Ninety years
later men of their stamp were known as "traitors."
The interval of time did not improve the breed, nay
it degenerated it.

When the news of the battle of Lexington reached
this parish, a choice of rulers had to be made by its
people at once. Man for man, we have not their indi-
vidual records, but we know what Benjamin Trumbull
thought and those of his parishioners who marched
away to Canada with him. Scarcely had the sound of
their footsteps died out in the distance, when the roy-
alists began to show their hands. Chief among them
was one whose utterances, (because of his official posi-
tion), attracted the attention of the General Assembly
at the May session, 1775. We quote Rev. War 1—398
— 400.

" Abraham Blakeslej* of New Haven, captain of a military
company in the Second regiment in this Colony, having mani-
fested a disatlection to this government and the privileges thereof
as established by charter, by speaking contemptuously of the
measures taken by the General Assembly for maintaining the
same, and threatened to act in his office in opposition to the law-
ful authority of the Colony contrary to the duties of his office :

Therefore, Resolved, By this Assembly, that the said Abraham
Blakesley be and is hereby brT)ke and cashiered from his said office,
and that the colonel of said regiment lead said company to the
■choice of a captain in the room of said Blakesley.



This startling action of the authorities was not
without its lesson. In other parts of the state, in a
few instances, men were cited to appear at the bar of
the General Assembly to answer for seditious conduct,
but so far as known the preceding case stands isolateil
in the colony as an instance thus early in the strug-
gle of a militia officer being stripped of his rank for
such cause.

At the time of this unfortunate occurrence, Captain
Blakeslee was the senior warden of St. John's Parish.
It was thought by his friends and neighbors that the
punishment was excessive, but it was replied that he-
had threatened force to prevent the execution of the
laws and that such insubordination, whether intended
or not, could not be overlooked. From 1777 he con-
tinued to be senior warden until his death eight years

By and by the eflEects of the struggle began to be
apparent in the two churches. Candor compels it tu
be said that each came to be the exponent of widely
diverse political ideas. The "church on the hill"
stood for the crown, the " church on the green " stood
for the freemen. The constituency of each was being
thoroughly sifted. Some changes in membership
occurred, the Church of England receiving a few
accessions it is supposed from Dr. Trumbull's church.
As the war progressed with its varying fortunes, men
became more radical in their opinions, and there came
at length to be no hesitancy on either side in openly
declaring the Presbyterians as ' rebels " and the Epis-
copalians as *' tories."

Such a feeling was unavoidable; everything nour-
ished it. Men could not march away unsolicitoiis for
those left behind. For themselves in the field con-
fronted by English guns they had no fear, but for
their families at home face to face with toryism, they
were often disquieted. As they returned from time
to time from their campaigns filled with a larger
spirit of liberty, it is said they gave their tongues



such unusual license as to drive for a time at least
some of the more bitter enemies of freedom from
the community. Among those who could not brave
the wrath thus showered upon them were, Phile-
mon Blakeslee, Abraham Seeley, Dr. Clarke, Joshiia

Blakeslee, Seeley and Clarke returned after the
war. The former came to be held in high respect
by his townsmen, although it was suspected with
strong probability of truth that he was engaged dur-
ing his absence in supplying the British army with
supplies from within our lines. Seeley was an Eng-
lishman and the first brick manufacturer within the
parish limits. Clarke was a ne'er-do-well, whose
career is involved in obscurity,' save that in Zuar
Bradley, then living on the present Eri Bradley place,
he had a tory friend, and as the legend goes, the
twain were wont to meet weekly to drink cider, chew
tobacco and swear at the state of the country. By
and by Bradley was apprehended for disloyalty and
a portion of his farm was confiscated and sold. Of
the above named men Blakeslee, Seeley and Bradley
were Church of England men, Chandler was a Con-

Chandler fared much worse than his associates.
He came to North Haven about 1765. He was admit-
ted to the Congregational church in 1767 on certificate
from the First church in New Haven. His homestead
was on the site of the Goodyear place. The Ecclesi-
astical Society placed him on the school committee
1766-69 inclusive. The General Assembly made him
"Justice" 1770-74 inclusive, during w^hich period he
served as the colleague of Esq. Samuel Sackett. The
town of New Haven made him one of its " Deputies "
1 768-1 7 75 inclusive, with the exception of the years


Esq. Chandler was a man of ability; he owned his
pew in the church, and usually presided at the First
Ecclesiastical Society's meetings. His name is fre-

2S2 ^\>llTll HAVEN ANNAL!S.

quent in the colonial records, and he must have been
held in o-reat esteem by the vState authorities previous j
to the Revolutionary period. ''

Hut he came to be a tory of the rankest kind, lli.s
son William, an officer in the British army, is said by
Barber to have guided Tryon's forces to the invasion
of New Haven in 1779. In 1780 Chandler's pew in
Dr. Trumbull's meeting- house was torn up '■ that the
sino-ers might have proper seats." In 1781 his whole-
property was contiscated to the government. "Charles
Chauneey was appointed administrator on the estate
of Joshua Chandler, now gone over to and joined the
enemies of the United States of America." The
inventory of his possessions embracing- his New
Haven property amounted to ,^;3,752 and his debts to
^^5-459- The historian, Goodrich, says Chandler and
his family went away with Tryon's forces; eventually
they ren-ioved to Nova Scotia and in journevin},'
Ijctwecn two points on that coast by sea, were
wrecked and all miserably perished.

The cry began to be raised of persecution and pro- ''.
scription of the Church of PZng-land, but when it was
seen that within its enclosure were found not only
open but secret enemies of the new born nation, it
could not, of course escape criticism. In this connec- \
tion is submitted the following document strangely '
preserved through the years, and whose authenticity
cannot be questioned:

" To his honor, John Martin,
Commissary i;-encral at New York,

With speed.
North Haven, February 12, 177S.
We, the inhabitants of North Haven whose names are under-
written are

The king's royal subjects,
And well wishers to his majesty. George the third. We have
therefore provided a considerable (juantity of provisions and to-
bacco for the use of his army, and intend to send at tb" Tirsi

*Thc original document is owned by Vernon C. Stiles.



• pportimity we have to New York or Long Island. We have Hke-
wise several young men that intends to join the Regulars the first
. nance they have. We hope the God of Heaven will succor you
:n your endeavors to subdue the Rebels to your subjection, so we
niust conclude your hearty friends and well wishers.

Walter Monson, Abraham Blakeslee,

Zophar Blakeslee, Lemuel Bradley,

Joel Blakeslee, Samuel Mix,

Ebenezer Heaton, Timothy Heaton,

Samuel Butler, Benjamin Pierpont,

Isaiah Blakeslee.

With the exception of Bradley, who was a Mt. Car-
mel man, and Butler (so far an ittter stranger) this
traitorous crew were members of the Second Ecclesi-
astical Society.

There is every probability that the existence of
this paper and the treachery of its signers was un-
known to the patriots of that day. Its publicity
would have jeopardized their entire possessions, if
not cost them their lives.

With the foregoing, the consideration of the Revo-
lutionary period must close. Sufficient has been
shown to establish as a whole the loyalty of the par-
ish in those trying days. The women who, in the
absence of their husbands, sons and fathers, gathered
the crops in the dark autumn of 1777, are "spoken of
as a memorial." The ministers of the association who
supplied Dr. Trumbull's pulpit during his campaigns,
have gone to their reward. The brave souls who fol-
lowed the drum from Lexington to Yorktown, be-
queathed blood which was found again in the name
of liberty on the fields of Antietam, Fredericksburg,
Gettysburg and all along the lines where the dread
issues of Rebellion were met and settled.



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 19 of 32)