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 1781 the people of the parish, following thc
example of similar bodies in the state, made an
attempt to secure incorporation as a town.

Accordingly on February i, 1781, about 2 o'clock in
the afternoon, the noisy rattle of a drum was heard
on the market place, and the town crier, walking up
and down its length, announced in loud voice that on
February 6 a special meeting of the First Ecclesias-
tical Society would be held to take measures for the
erection of the parish into a distinct town.

■ There are good reasons for believing the Second
Ecclesiastical Society was also represented in that
meeting. A committee consisting of Ensign Daniel
Bassett, Captain Jonathan Dayton, Captain Ezra Tur-
tle, Captain Noah Ives, Ensign Nathaniel Beach, Cap-
tain Joshua Barnes, Captain Joseph Pierpont and
Philip Daggett, was appointed "to confer with the
committee appointed by the parish of Mount Carniel
on the expediency of being a distinct town."

About that time New Haven began to feel the bur-
den of her parishes, and became clamorous for a sep-
aration. The support of the numerous bridges in
North Haven and ]\Iount Carmel was used as the
argument for such division. This feeling made the
time more opportune for pressing a project all were
unanimously agreed upon.

The two parishes consumed the summer in think-
ing it over. When the time seemed ripe a meeting
was held in New Haven, December 17, 17S1, and a


committee was appointed to report a plan for the
ilivision of the town. On January 6 of the succeeding
vcar at another town meeting they reported as fol-
lows :

"That the Societies of North Haven and Mount Carmel be
made into a separate and distinct town" and that the "Estate,
Stock, Soldiers in Continental Army. Town Poor, Bridges, and
other Burdens, &c., be equitably divided."

Ten days later than the foregoing, Mount Carmel
held a society meeting as follows :

" Voted by the Society that they would pursue the ]\Iemorial
now before the Assembly for procuring town privileges for the
parishes of North Haven and ]Mount Carmel with this addition to
said Memorial that the meetings of said proposed Town be held
3-5 of the time at North Haven and 2-5 at Mount Carmel.'

Samuel Atvvater,

Society Clerk.

In accordance with these resolutions, Bazaleel
Munson, of Mount Carmel, and Jonathan Dayton, of
North Haven, were made a joint committee to press
the memorial. They did so at the General Assembly
in 1782, only to find their prayer denied.

In 1785 they resolved to try again. The following
is a literal copy of their feelings on that occasion :

•' At a meeting of the Parish of North Haven on the 3d day of
February, 17S5, legally warned for the purpose of Deliberating
upon and Collecting the Sentiments of said Parish upon the sub-
ject of being Erected into a Town either by themselves or in con-
nection with the adjoining Parish of ]Mt. Carmel, passed the fol-
lowing votes:

" Voted — That we are desirous of joining with the Parishes of
Mount Carmel and Northford if it should be agreeable to both of
them to join with us, or either of them that we can agree with, in
Petitioning to be set off from the Old Town or Towns, and be
incorporated into a Town by ourselves.

" Voted — That in case neither of the above mentioned Parishes
see fit to join with us in the said Petition, we will use our Endeav-
ors to get set off by ourselves as a separate Town from New

" Voted — To choose a committee of seven men to confer with
Mt. Carmel committee and \t agreeable to them, with Northford


upon the above said subject, viz.: Thomas Mansfield. Esq., J(K(.;i:i
Pierpont, Esq., Mr. Enos Todd, Dr. Walter Monson, Dea. Je>-f
Todd, Nathaniel Beach and Giles Pierpont.

Voted— To adjourn then to the last Thursday of this niDir.!)
at the meeting house at 2 of the clock in the afternoon.

The adjourned meeting was held at the appointL-d
time and as the sequel shows was ready for busincs.s.
They say, " After hearing the Report of the Commit-
tee chose at the last Meeting for Conference with Ml.
Carmel committee," (which was probably unsatisfac-
tory) " the Society proceeded to choose Joseph Pier-
pont, Esq., Thomas Mansfield, Ensign Daniel Bassctt,
Dr. "Walter Monson, and Dea. Solomon Tuttle to be a
committee with full power to act for this Society in
making application to the Town of New Haven for
the consent of the Town and in Petitioning the Hon-
orable General Assembly to erect this Parish into u
distinct Town."

Voted — To appoint one of this committee as Agent for the
Society to wait upon the Assembly and to prosecute the wlmle
affair according to their best Discretion to a final issue "

No entry was made of the choice of this commit-
tee for their agent. It was probably Thomas }.Ians-
field. Armed with his credentials he appeared before
the General Assembly in the following May and filed
his petition. It was not acted upon at that session.
and his constituents in the First Ecclesiastical Soci-
ety elected him for another year with instructions to
"continue that matter at Hartford."

At the succeeding session he was successful, and
"the long and well fought struggle was ended. The
following is the patent for our rights and privileges,
never before published:


Upon the memorial of the parish of North Haven, in New-
Haven, praying to be incorporated into a distinct town with all
the rights and privileges belonging to other towns in this state a.s
per memorial on file.

Resolved, by this Assembly, Tfiat the inhabitants living within
the limits be and they are hereby constituted a town by the name



id North Haven, and said town of North Haven shall be entitled
\>> and enjoy all the rights, powers, privileges and immunities
that other towns in this state have and enjoy, and shall be entitled
to have and receive of the town of New Haven their part and
and proportion of all the town stock of said New Haven and
>hall pay their part and proportion of all the debts of said town
of New Haven already incurred in proportion to their list of said
tmvn of New Haven, for the year 17S5, and shall take upon them
the charge and support of their part of the town poor of said town
of New Haven in proportion as aforesaid, and the taxes of said
town of New Haven already laid shall and may be collected for
the payment of the debts and expenses of said town of New
Haven already incurred, and the same being paid and discharged
of said Town of North Haven, shall be entitled to the overplus, if
any be, to be ascertained as aforesaid, and the said Town of North
I laven shall bear their part and proportion of supporting the Bridge
and Highways within the bounds of the Town of New Haven and
North Haven in such part and proportion as shall be adjudged just
and reasonable by Gen. Andrew Ward, Col. Edward Russell and
Gideon Buckingham, Esq., who are appointed a committee for that
purpose, all the circumstances of the town being considered, and
such committee shall also apart and set off to the said town of
North Haven their part and proportion of the Poor of the Town
of New Haven, and Town Stock and debts in proportion to their
List aforesaid and the Town of North Haven shall hold their first
ti>wn meeting at the meeting house in said North Haven on the
second Tuesday of November next at one of clock in the after-
noon, when and where the said town of North Haven may chuse
such town officers as by law are required to be chosen by towns,
which officers shall remain in office until another town meeting
shall be holden in and for said town of North Haven, in the
month of December next, and said meeting shall have power to
transact all matters necessary for the town, and to adjourn to a
future day if necessary; the inhabitants that are legal voters of
said town of North Haven being warned by a written notification
signed and set up by Thomas Mansfield, Esq., on the sign post in
said town of North Haven, at least five days before said second
Tuesday, and said Thomas JIansfield, Esq., shall preside at said
meeting as moderator.

Provided, that nothing in this act shall be construed to hinder
the inhabitants of said town of North Haven from catching
oysters, fish and clams within the bounds of said town of New
Haven under the same restrictions and regulations as the inhabit-
ants of said town of New Hiven.




And provided, that the said town of North Haven shall he
restricted to the choice of one representative to represent them v.\
the general assembly of the state.
Passed in the lower house,

Test — Jedediah Strong, clerke.
Concurred in the upper house.

Test — George Wyllvs.

Following the incorporation of the town in 17S6
the first selectmen were: Joseph Bradley, Ephraim
Humaston, Samuel Mix.

The first town clerk was Joseph Pierpont; the first
town treasurer, Joseph Pierpont, and the first collector
of town taxes, Elias Beach.

Herewith is submitted a copy of the first grand list:

£ sd
154 polls from 21 years to 70 years at ;^iS each,
28 minors from 16 years to 21 years at £q each,
1S6 oxen, 4 years old, at £2, each,
394 cows, 3 years old, at £2 each,
189 steers, 2 years old, at £1 each, .
144 horses, 3 years old, at £2 each,
5 horses, 2 years old, at £2 each,
7 horses, 1 year old, at £1 each, .
2,103 acres plow land at los per acre,
1,537 acres pasture land af; Ss per acre,
451 acres bog meadow (mowed) at 5s per acre,
24)^ acres bog meadow (unmowed) at 2s per acre,
^99}i acres smooth meadow at 7s, 6d per acre,
2,io5J^ acres bush pastyre at 2s per acre,
1,043^ acres unimproved land (first rate) at 2S per acre,
133 acres unimproved land (second rate) at is per acre,
49 acres unimproved land (third rate) at 6d per acre,
I chaise,

5 chairs at £2, each, ... ...

9 silver watches at 30s each,

6 clocks at £2 each,

27 ounces silver plate, . . , .

59 good smokes at 15s each, ....

75 "4 decayed smokes at iis 3d, .

121^4 decayed smokes at 7s 6d,

91 1.( decayed smokes at 3s 9d,

Assessments, ........
















9 "


4 4




7 ^




4 <>

• 5



10 i<


6 9


5 "

• 42

3 9


7 6

. t7

I 3


Total valuation,

7.947 4


The property as above described was entered as
being either in the " First " or " Second " Ecclesi-
astical Societies, according to the creed of its owner.

The valuation of the First .Society was . . . £b,is^ 16 7
The valuation of the Second Society was . . i,790 7 7

The wealthiest man in the town was Giles Pier-
pont, whose list was ^121-7-0 on two yoke of oxen,
eleven cows, ten steers, three horses, two hundred
acres of land, one silver watch and "six smokes ^2
decayed " (the latter meaning chimneys which were
considered one-half as good as new, or one-quarter, or
three-quarters, as the case might be). Second in pos-
sessions was Thomas Cooper, whose list was _;^i 17-18
-3, and closely following him came Titus Bradley at

The only possessor of silver plate was Thomas
Mansfield, who also owned the only "chaise" in the
town. We must believe Mr. Mansfield to have been a
very truthful person, for it is refreshing to read that
he was the owner of "12 smokes " all in good condi-
tion. His valuation was _;:^ioS-4-3.

The owners of the six clocks were Dan Barnes,
Titus Bradley, Lawrence Clinton, Jonathan Tuttle,
Enos Todd and Jonathan Dayton.

The owners of the five " chairs " were Joseph Dar-
ling, Peter Eastman, Jonathan Tuttle, Enos Todd,
and Joseph Pierpont. The distinction between a
"chaise" and a "chair" lay in their capacity, "for
while each had but two wheels, the former would
carry two or more persons, while the latter offered
accommodations for one only.

In the Second Ecclesiastical Society there were but
twenty-seven freemen, and these owned most of the
property in it. There were a large number of non-
residents, but their holdings lay chiefly in unimproved
lands of no special value. Zophar Blakeslee was the
leading moneyed man, being rated at ;!^ioo-5-io.
Next came Seth Todd at ^^98-14-6, and then Samuel
Mix (third selectman) at ^85-2-3.



But one watch (Oliver Blakeslee) and one cIckk
(Seth Blakeslee) is scheduled as found in that Socict\-.
but it is to the credit of its members that they owned
ten out the fifty-nine "good smokes" in the tow;;.
The true standard of a man in all ages is the " list '
which he renders to be taxed upon.

The second year of the town's existence was
marked by increasing wealth. Nearly a thousand
pounds were added to the grand list. " Good Smokes '"
were multiplied, live stock increased, unimproved
land reduced, watches, clocks, chaises, chairs added,
and a general air of prosperity attended the commu-

The amount raised by taxation in 17 86 was ^171-
2-10. In 1787, ^269-15-3. In 17S8, ^214-3-3. The
taxes in these years were abnormally high. After
1790 they were reduced and remained steady for ten
years. In 1800 the system of decimal reckoning was
generally adopted and dollars took the place of

The following table has been prepared from the
grand lists of the town, showing by decades some-
what of its growth:
















$31,074- -4











26,975 2S






( 17,363 ?''






\ 19,434.04












20,867. (>5

















743,547 t"^

Between 1856 and 1866 the standard of value wa.s
considerably raised, w;hich accounts for the large
increase in the latter year.



In 1786 the wealthiest man was Giles Pierpont; in
1796, Jonathan Tuttle; in 1806, Calvin Heaton; in
1816, Calvin Heaton; in 1826, Joshua Tuttle; in 1836,
Jacob Bassett; in 1846, Zera Blakeslee; in 1856, David
Clinton; in 1866, estate William B. Johnson; in 1876,
estate William B. Johnson; in 1886, estate William B.

The following named gentlemen have been First
Selectmen of the town in the past one hundred years:

7S6-7 Joseph Bradley,
7SS Joshua Barnes,
7S9 Captain Levi Ray,
790 Nathaniel Beach, (?)


792 Captain Levi Ray,

793 Captain Levi Ray,

795 Joshua Barnes,

796 Captain Peter Eastman,

797 Captain Peter Eastman,

798 Joshua Barnes,



Soi Captain Lemuel Brooks,

502 Captain Stephen Munson,

503 Philemon Blakeslee,

504 Lyman Todd,

505 Lyman Todd,

506 Jedediah Button,

507 Jacob Walter,
SoS John Barns,
S09 Jacob Bassett,
Sio Jacob Bassett,

8ii Philemon Blakeslee,

812 Joseph Doolittle,

813 Captain Nathan Marks,
S14 Philemon Pierpont,

Si 5 Philemon Pierpont,

516 Jacob Bassett,

517 James Heaton,
Si3 James Heaton,
S19 Joel Humaston,
820 Joshua Tuttle,

1 82 1 Theophilus Todd,

1822 Lyman Todd,

1823 Frederic Barnes,
1S24 Timothy Andrews,
1825 Timothy Andrews,
1S26 John Todd,

1827 Manning Tuttle,

1828 John Beach,

1829 Eleazer "Warner,
1S30 Eleazer Warner,
I S3 1 Horace Stiles,
1S32 Amasa Thorpe,

1833 Cephas Clark,

1834 Merritt Barnes,

1835 Philemon Pierpont,

1536 Philemon Pierpont,

1537 Philemon Blakeslee,

1838 Ward Peck,

1839 Ward Peck,

1840 Ward Peck,

1841 Obed. S. Squires,

1842 David T. Bishop,
1S43 Jesse Robinson,

1844 Elizur C. Tuttle,

1545 Jared Bassett,

1546 Ezra Stiles,

1547 Evelyn Blakeslee,

1845 Chauncy B. Foote,
1S49 Amasa Thorpe,
1850 Oswin H. Doolittle,

1551 John Beach,

1552 John Beach,

1553 Elizur C. Tuttle,

1554 Evelyn Blakeslee,


1855 Henrj- H. Stiles, - 1871 Elizur C. Tuttle,

1856 Evelyn Blakeslee, 1S72 Joseph E. Bishop,
1S57 Henry H. Stiles, 1S73 Andrew F. Austin,
1S5S Evelyn Blakeslee, 1S74 Andrew F. Austin,

1559 Jared Bassett. 1875 Andrew F. Austin,

1560 Nelson J. Beach, 1876 Andrew F. Austin,

1861 Dr. R. F. Stillman, 1877 Andrew F. Austin,

1862 Whitney Elliott, 1878 Andrew F. Austin,

1863 Elizur C. Tuttle, 1879 Charles M. Tuttle,
1S64 Whitney Elliott, 1S80 Andrew F. Austin,
1865 Whitney Elliott, 1S81 Andrew F. Austin,
18G6 Henry H. Stiles, 1S82 C\tus Cheney,

1867 Henry H. Stiles, 1SS3 Cyrus Cheney.

1868 Henry H. Stiles, 18S4 Cyrus Cheney,

1869 Henry H. Stiles, 1SS5 Cyrus Cheney,

1870 Andrew F, Austin, 1SS6 Romanta T. Linsley.

During the early years of the town, that is after
its incorporation, the public business was transacted
at the tavern of Jesse Andrews. This place continued
to be "official headquarters " for more than fifty years.
or until what was known as the "Academy" Avas
erected. Prior to 1835 the town meetings were held
in the old Congregational church on the green, and
the elections, with a few exceptions, were carried on
there also. Occasionally the freemen went to " Muddy
river " to vote, and it is said on one occasion cast their
ballots in the old " Separate " meeting-house at Quin-

The selectmen and the "listers" (assessors) com-
prised the official staff of the town. Their bills for
" dinners and liquors " are frequent, and whenever an
auction was held in which the town was particularly
interested, it was expected liquor would be furnishtd
and paid for by it. Such was the case in 1805 and
other years. The dinner, liquor and other bills of
Mr. Andrews for these officials, were not excessive,
hardly reaching $10 annually. The town treasurer
received $4 as his yearly salary, and other services
rendered were on a like econom.ic scale.

An old manuscript has been found containing a
record made by the "listers" in 1795. Their names


were Nathaniel Stacy, Oliver Blakeslee, Ward,

John Heaton, Isaac C. Stiles, John Pierpont, John

Stacy was chairman and Blakeslee clerk of the
board. They met in the old tavern then kept by Mrs.
Mary Andrews, widow of Timothy. They were a law
unto themselves and made their own regulations.
They fined themselves one shilling if tardy twenty
minutes from the hour of meeting and two shillings
if not present at all, unless a satisfactory excuse was
made. These fines were held as a revenue for the
supply of " Bowls of Sling," and it is noticed that on
one occasion every member of the board was fined for
tardiness. They sat till 8 o'clock in the evening. In
all they held seven sessions and finished their work
December 28, 1795.


In 1819 appears the first distillery on the grand
list. This was owned by Calvin Eaton, and located at
Muddy river. It was assessed at five hundred dollars.
What liquor was manufactured is not stated, but the
venture was doubtless a paying one, for after Mr.
Eaton's death his heirs added another plant, and a lit-
tle later a third. "When the temperance wave struck
the town in 183 1, it struck the distilleries also, for they
suddenly disappeared that year and are heard of no


For at least sixty years after the birth of the town
the heaviest expense was its pauper list. The roll of
such unfortunates is a singularly long one, year after
year. The taxpayers could not complain that exorbi-
tant prices were paid for these poor creatures' support.
The cases are exceedingly rare where a dollar per
week was paid for their maintenance; generally it
was seventy to eighty cents. In some cases the town
poor were allowed to " keep themselves." For instance
(opening at random in 1S24), Polly Bradley "kept


herself nine months for $19.80." Eunice Blakeslcc-
"kept herself twenty weeks for $5.00." Patty Coopt-r
"kept herself four weeks for $3.60."

The usage of putting up these paupers at auction at
the annual town meetings probably prevailed then, as
it certainly did thirty years later. Much injustice-
was done the persons so "bid off." They were poorlv
fed, poorly clothed and hard worked in many instances.
The writer has vividly in remembrance the case of a
weak-minded, middle-aged woman, who, for alleged
laziness, was once stripped to the waist, hung up by
her wrists, and brutally whipped by her "keeper."


Among the expenses of the town fifty years ago
were items that seem strange to the reader of to-day.
The arms and equipments of the old military compa-
nies had to be cared for, and so we read that Jacob
Thorpe was "town armorer" for many years. He was
succeeded by Hervey Stiles, who in 1847 packed up
the old muskets and shipped them off to the adjutant
general at Hartford and there was no more expense
from that source.

As late as 1834, -or while the old Congregational
church stood on the green, the town paid ten dollars
annually for ringing its bell, and in 1833 Billa Thorpe
was paid thirty-four cents for " sweeping the meeting-
house twice." This latter expense presumably fol-
lowed two public meetings held therein.


The First Ecclesiastical Society assumed the con-
trol of the schools in the parish from its formation to
the year 1796.

When the town became incorporated, in accordance
with the laws of the state, it formed a " School
Society " for the sole and separate maintenance of
educational privileges. The preliminary steps were
taken at the annual town meeting December 14, 1795.


by appointing the second Monday in the following
October, 1796, as the time for the formation of such a

At this meeting, held October 10, Joseph Pierpont
was moderator and Joshua Barnes clerk. The first
committees under the new system were :

Giles Pierpont District No. 1

Philemon Blakeslee, District No. 2

Levi Ray, District No. 3

Eli Sackett District No. 4

Obed Bassett, District No. 5

Jonathan Tuttle District No. 6

Joshua Simmons District No. 7

Jared Goodyear, District No. 8

At this meeting the boundaries of the various dis-
tricts were looked after, but it was deemed advisable
to make no change. It was not until 1798 that " school
visitors " or " overseers " were appointed. The first
board was made up of Solomon Tuttle, Joseph Foot,

Joshua Barnes, Levi Ray, Ebenezer , Samuel

Mix, Oliver Blakeslee, Jonathan Tuttle and Elisha
Chapman. It does not appear what the duties of
these gentlemen and their successors were until 1806,
when they met at the tavern of Jesse Andrews and
chose "A Committee to Examine into the Qualification
of the Instructors and Teachers of the Schools and
sign their Certificates. Viz — Oliver Blakeslee, Joseph
Foot, Joel Humaston, Hazzard Button and Isaac C.
Stiles." At this meeting they adjourned " after agree-
ing which of the Visitors should Visit each of the
schools twice in the season."

In 1820 a commission consisting of Joel Humaston,
Joel Ray and Josiah Todd, re-arranged the boundary
lines between some of the districts, the same substan-
tially being in force to-day.

In 1841 the Fifth district had become so reduced
in numbers that it was difficult to maintain a school
there, except at great expense to its patrons. A grant


of $io was therefore made by the society to assist
them. This vote was renewed annually until tlu-
schgol was finally abandoned.

The first public examination of candidates f(-r
teachers was held in 1850. At this time a public hall
had been opened (Academy). A meeting was also
called in this same year "for the purpose of appro-
priating a portion of the local or school fund to pro-
cure a suitable place to hold meetings for the further-
ance of the cause of education in said society." A
grant of $12 was made "for the purpose of defraying-
the expense of room, lights, etc., for meetings for pub-
lic lectures for promoting the cause of education."
Apparently this was the first move toward such an
object ever attempted here. This grant was renewed
annually till 1855, when the prudential committee
was authorized to expend such sums as would "con
duce to the promotion of education."

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 20 of 32)