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 21 of 32)
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In 1835 the School Society came to an end and the
powers heretofore vested in it were transferred to
the various districts. It maintained an existence for
sixty years, and its records are complete from begin-
ning to end. At one time and another it carried on
its rolls the best citizens in the community. Its
annual meetings always followed the annual town
meetings, generally in the saine place. Its chief sup-
porter and best • friend in its early days appears to
have been Oliver Blakeslee, who was closely identi-
fied with its interests for twenty-five years or more.
During this time he was its clerk and frequently a
"visitor." His career was such that it deserves more
than a passing allusion.


Oliver, better known in his day as "]\Iaster Blakes-
lee," was the son of Matthew Blakeslee and was born
in North Haven about 1740. Both his father and him-
self were subscribers to the Second Ecclesiastical
Society at its formation. Matthew Blakeslee became


one of its first two wardens and Oliver was its first
clerk. He served as such in 1 760-1-2 and as assistant
clerk in 1788-93, inclusive; during this period he was
collector and treasurer. He was made a vestryman
in 1768 and again in 1772-1778, inclusive, and a third
time in 1786-7-8. In addition to these duties he acted
as one of the " Ouiresters," 1777-1780.

His boyhood was spent in hard work. A large
family and a lean larder in his father's house made
the crosses there greater than the comforts. Tradi-
tion has it that the maternal hand, often perplexed by
the wants of the hvingry children around her, was
wont to prepare in a huge wooden bowl a porridge of
meal and the water in which any vegetables or meat
had been cooked, and placing it on the floor give each
of the children a wooden spoon and tmlimited liberty
to help themselves.

Oliver was apprenticed in early youth to one
Squire Ward, of Pond Hill, where he learned the
trade of reed maker for the hand looms of those
days. He became proficient in this calling, and it is
supposed most of the reeds now preserved in the com-
munity as curiosities of a bygone day were made by
him. He also became an expert weaver and taught
his daughters the same trade.

He derived the title of "Master" from a long
career as a district' school teacher, having, tradition
says, taught twenty-seven winters and three sum-
mers. He was a superior mathematician and taught
navigation to all who desired. Further, he was an
accomplished land surveyor, and received the appoint-
ment of county engineer from the General Assembly
of Connecticut. His calculations in this branch were
never questioned, and in the division of estates, the
laying out of highways and the establishing of boun-
dary lines his work was esteemed faultless. His advice
was adopted in the survey for Tomlinson's bridge at
New Haven.


Excepting Dr. Trumbull and Solomon Blakeslee, v.n
better penman was found. Indeed in some of hi^
exercises he clearly excels both. There is extant a
bit of paper the size of a dime on which he wrote in
1786 the Lord's prayer in beautifully legible letters.
" Copies " used in the writing exercises in his schools
were preserved as beautiful specimens of quill pen-
manship. Mr. Blakeslee married Elizabeth Humastun
M^y 3) 1762. His house stood near that now owned
by Harry Bradley. Here was born a large family
and as their names are somewhat quaint we give them
entire: Rhoda, Susanna, Chlorona, Patta, Elam, Xeus.
Reuel and Lucinda. The latter was born August ic,
1790. Eight years thereafter Mr. Blakeslee sued for and
obtained a divorce from his wife. The cause for this
strange proceeding is unknown; the wife and mother
of twenty-six years' standing was suddenly turned
adrift and no one knows what became of her. The
decree of separation was obtained in July, 1798, and
in the following March, 1799, Mr. Blakeslee married
Mrs. Susanna Tuttle.

Sometime before 1822 his second wife died and the
town sold his homestead to Munson Bradley, -^li'-
Blakeslee was then taken to the house of Eri Bradley
in the Fifth district to end his days. A contract is in
the writer's possession between the town and ]\Ir.
Bradley, whereby the latter agrees to board -Jr.
Blakeslee " for five shillings per week except in eases
of extraordinary sickness." He died about 1825, the
exact date being lost. Mr. Blakeslee was the owner of
the first silver watch in the community. Thus passed
away an active old school gentleman once prominent
in the councils of church and town. There was no one
to raise a stone to his memory, and the very place of
his burial is forsfotten.




(Built by Timothy Andrews about 1780).


A peculiar charm has always hung around the old
colonial tavern. An indefinable haze of good fellow-
ship and abandon has so pervaded and enveloped it,
that seen through the mist of years, it stands as an
enchanted spot in a wilderness of common dwellings.

The pioneer of tavern keepers in this parish was
Timothy Andrews. It is uncertain when he came to
North Haven, but it was prior to the Revolutionary
war. He was descended from the honorable family
of Andrews conspicuous in the early history of New

He removed here from East Haven, where he had
large landed possessions, and on them a "salt works,"


managed jointly with Captain Jared Hill and PliiiK-^
Andrews. He boug-ht the corner property r.uv.
known as the Brown estate (then many acres ;:
extent) and put up a dwelling on it. As he was a c.-ir-
penter by trade, the building was doubtless the wurk
of his own hands.

The colony tavern, with all its accessories and
associations, was not the growth of a day, or a mon:l!,
or a year. It was an institittion which came up slow'v
in New England, and only reached high water mark
as religious views began to assume breadth and ila-
grip of the church to loosen. Not that the churci;
and the tavern were antagonistic to each other, hr.t
because of their intense devotion to churchly thin;..;>,
the people had felt no want for a public loungin-

At the outset Mr. Andrews' house had nothiii.;:
tavernwise about it to distinguish it from the ordi-
nary country home. It was erected not far froir.
1780. It bears the stamp of that period. Every
timber is massive, every partition heavy. A wick-
hall divided it into halves on the lower floor, and
the great outside double doors clanged and bangLii
in royal fashion.

The guests who came and went were not frequent.
Couriers and teamsters made up the transient popula-
tion and these were the ones who mainly patroni^(.l.!
Mr. Andrews and then only for a night's lodging.
[There is no tradition Washington ever stopped

The income from such sources must have bccii
exceedingly meagre and, as has been said, Landlon:
Andrews did not depend upon it for subsistence, a -
witness his "book accounts," a specimen or two ot
which is submitted.


1771 — Deter for making a coffing, 3 '•

Deter for shuing his horse, ..... 2 ••



i-;3 — Deter for one day of my work, . . . . . 36

Deter for a bedsted, 80

Deter for a lock for a dore, . . . ... . 50

Deter for some corn for your geas, ....


, - 3 — Deter for laying a garret flore, . . . . .140
Deter for two gallons and half a gallon of rum, . 9 o


1774 — Deter for a pare of black nit briches, . . . . 90

Deter for 2 scanes of thread 06

Deter for 4 sheepskins, 40


1775 — Deter for a gallon of rum, 36

Deter for 4 pounds of corned fish, ....

Deter for losing a saddle, holsters and pistil, . . 2 iS o

(The latter entry shows a dizzy record for Thomas).

Mr. Andrews was held in. much esteem by the First
Ecclesiastical Society. He was made a member of the
school board in 1783-4-5. In 1785 he was appointed
ensign in the old militia company and afterward
raised to captain. In 17S7 he served on the seating
committee of Dr. Trumbull's church, and in 1788 him-
self and wife Mary, who was a sister of the old Revo-
lutionary hero, John Pierpont, united with that reli-
gious body.

In this year — 17S8 — he journeyed to Vermont on a
speculative trip. There he bought a large tract of
land, now covered by the city of Montpelier, and pro-
ceeded to develop it, when he died suddenly, August
27, 1789.

The sad news did not reach North Haven till many
days after his burial by strangers in a strange land.

Probate was granted on his North Haven estate in
1791, and the homestead passed into the possession of
his widow, who conducted it as a public house until

her second marriage with Hough, whereupon

she removed to her husband's home in Wallingford.

Jesse, her second son, had now attained his raajor-
itv and had married Phila Humiston in 1801. The


tavern stand now passed into his hands, and it was u-^
der his regime that this old landmark achieved -.•. .
widest popularity.

He was the typical landlord of his day, and not • ■
be acquainted with "Jess Andrews" was rei^^^ani-. .
through all the country as a lamentable oversi.yht.

The war of 1812 brought to his door a verv hiv^v
constituency. Population, travel, business had vasi!-.
increased since his father's day. There was an eir:
less procession of military stores, raw materials a:;i;
goods in transit passing up and down the street
" Andrews' tavern " was constantly filled to overilnu-
ing; men and teams at some seasons of the year were
constantly arriving and departing at every hour !•:
the day and night.

With such an influx, abuses began to creep int"
the tavern system. The General Assembly, that
watch dog of the people, saw the drift of the tinio
and resolved to check it. The Connecticut code <■!'
1796, by its enactments for the regulation of taverns.
gives us a side glance at the errors they sought :<>

Mr. Andrews was nominated by the civil authuritv
of the town of New Haven as a fit person for his call-
ing. He was then required to file a bond of sixty-
seven dollars with the county treasurer that he wouUI
duly observe and obey the laws and regulations con-
cerning tavern keepers, among which were the fol-
lowing :

" No person licensed, shall suffer any, either mcn'>
Sons under age, or Apprentices, Servants or Negroes.
to sit drinking in his house, or have any Strong
Drink there without Special Order, on pain of forfeit-
ing the sum of one dollar for every such offence."

"No Heads of Families, or single Persons beini;
Boardings or Sojourners, or any young Persons or
other Inhabitants whatsoever under the government
of Parents or Guardiaas or Masters (Sti'angers anii
Travellers only excepted) * * * shall meet there.


the evening next and before or next following- the
Lord's Day, or any Public Day of Fasting, on penalty
of seven dollars."

No inhabitant or person could remain longer than
9 o'clock of the evening in any such place unless a
proper reason or an extraordinary occasion warranted
it, on penalty of fifty cents.

No inhabitant could sit in any tavern " tippling
and drinking " longer than one hour at a time on any
occasion, on penalty of the tavern-keeper being fined
one dollar for failure to eject the offender.

Each landlord was reqtiired to fitrnish the select-
men or other authority of the tOAvn, the names of
such persons (if any) as had come to be known as
"tavern haunters" — that is, persons without employ-
ment who idled away their time, and such names
were required to be posted " at the doors of every
Tavern in town," with the prohibition that no liquor
should be furnished them by any keeper under pen-
alty of $10 for every stich offence. If the "haunter"
persisted in his contumacious course after being duly
warned and posted, he was fined $3 or made to sit
"two and one-half hours in the stocks on some public

Such are a few of the old time regulations it was
found necessary to throw around the tavern. It is
not to be supposed North Haven did not need these
restrictions, for she did; yet, after a most diligent
search, it is to the credit of Mr. Andrews that the
Lord's Day was strictly observed at his inn, and no
one received any special favors on that day.

Tradition has invested this old tavern with a thou-
sand delightful scenes and incidents. It was the cen-
tre of the parish, and besides the meeting-house, a
point toward which everything gravitated. Elections,
weddings, dinners, military musters, balls, all f ocussed
there and brought their trains. The town officials
added their weight to its prestige and drank its bowls



of sling- with becoming- dignity on all suitable occa-

In the winter months it received its largest acces-
sion of gaiety. Hither would come from surrounding-
towns, parties to dance in the "Andrews Tavern."
Nor were the local youths and maidens a whit behind
in their obeisance to the light-footed goddess. (Jn
such occasions " old Cato," a black of the purest
water, and a manumitted slave of Colonel Barker, of
AVallingford, was accustomed to furnish the music.
He was a mighty fiddler. No prompter was needed.
The dances were " square " and there were few indeed
who did not know the figures of ''Reel of Four,"'
" Moneymusk," "Up and Down," "Cheat," " Opper
Reel," etc., etc. The men drank their sling, or punch,
or rum straight; the women sipped " sangaree," a
mixture of wine, water and sugar. Before the close
of the ball all sat down to a hearty supper.

In connection with these scenes of pleasure there

lies before the writer a discolored bit of pasteboard

that told its story fovir score years ago. It is a quaint

reminder of those old days.


The Managers respectfully present their compliments ti>

M , soliciting your attendance at Mr. Andrews'

Bail Room, North Haven,

Friday, Nov. 27, 1S12, at i o'clock p. m.

A. Hemingway,* ir^„„„,^o ^ E. Coover,

W. HoMisTON, ) Managers. -j j^_ Mansfield.

"Militia musters" and "general trainin's " were
red letter days in this old tavern's history. On such
occasions liquor flowed freely (though drunkenness
was rare) and the resources of the bar and the kitchen
were severely taxed. At these times food was in great
demand. A meal at the "first table " cost twenty-five
cents and at the " second table " half of that price.
At the bar a glass of French brandy cost 6 cents, a
"nip of sling" 12 cents, ^a "nip of punch" 17 cents, a
"bowl of punch " 35 cents, a gill of rum 12 cents, a
bowl of rum 25 cents, a gill of "bitters" 12 cents, a


quart of cider brandy 30 cents, a quart of wine 75
cents, a quart of gin 75 cents.

Mr. and Mrs. Andrews remained thereuntil a little
after 1830. Fortune favored them wonderfully. In
this time the brick house now owned by the Rev.W. T.
Reynolds, the wooden dwelling known as the Henry
vSmith place, and also that now occupied by William
Hull, were built.

The life of the couple had been so active that they
determined to rest from some of its duties, and the
care of the old stand was transferred to their son
Jesse and Seymour Bradley (recently deceased in
Xew Haven).

But the sun of the country tavern was on the down
hill slope through Xew England. Mr. Bradley with-
drew from the partnership and young Andrews con-
tinued it for a little time, when he surrendered it to
his father again. He in turn leased it to one Perkins,
of Meriden, until the property was transferred to Cap-
tain John Farren, who was the last landlord to sit
upon the throne of his predecessors. The completion
of the Hartford and New Haven railroad gave the
death-blow to this public house and it was closed soon
after 1840.

Mr. Andrews, or " Uncle Jesse," as he came to be
more familiarly called in his later years, became very
infirm and died May 30, 1855, at the age of eighty.
His faithful wife, " Aunt Phila," followed him a few
years later.

The illustration accompanying this article is from
a recent photograph. The piazza in front of the
building is of modern date, as well as the door on the
right ; the former replaced the old fashioned " hood "
so common over the front entrance of colonial houses.
Underneath this hood or portico was a. small wooden
platform, flanked on eitlicr side by a short wooden
settee. The interior has beeji somewhat remodeled, but
not enough to confuse the old guests of a centurv ago
should they come again in spirit to re-people its rooms.





TEACHERS — CONG. CHURCH CHOIR 1800-1835 — Ml ^" "

The Rev. W. J. Boardman came to North Il.iw
as a candidate for Dr. Trumbull's vacant pulpit. :
the spring- of 1820. He w^as a Massachusetts uu.-
In June of that year, a special Society meetin;4 w..
held whereat it was declared "That we are sai.-
fied with the Rev. Mr. W. J. Boardman's preachii;.
and that we will unite with the Church if they ..:
disposed to give him a call to settle with us in t;
Gospel Ministry." The latter body saw fit to conv •
and a "call " was extended to him in Jtily.

He was ordained the third Wednesday in Sci'K-::
ber. His salary was fixed at six hundred dol!;;'
annually. He remained eight years, and at '■■
request in 1828 the Society accepted his resignati -
but no steps were taken toward his dismission, h
evident his people did not wish such a course, for .
a special meeting in ^lay, 1830, they voted, "It is <<•■
wish to have Rev. W. J. Boardman continue witli .
and supply the pulpit, and that the committee :
authorized to confer with him and act agreeabk- t
his wishes."

The whole matter was postponed until 1833, wiu
he was formally dismissed on October 30. In iS;,5 ■'■
was installed pastor of the Congregational church ;
Northford, Conn., and died in 1849.

Of his pastorate it may be said that during its C'^
tinuance the church received a much larger accessi'-



of members than tinder either Stiles or Trumbnll. In
all there were 280 admissions, all of which but six
were on profession of faith. In 1831, 159 were admit-
ted to its membership, a number never since equaled
in any year.

Apropos of this grc'at revival— 1S31— the writer is
permitted to quote concerning it from a letter written
by Daniel Pierpont, Esq., to his daughter in June of
that year. Mr. Pierpont was an Episcopalian:

" We have the greatest excitement in North Haven
that has happened within my memory. The forepart
of winter it was chiefly confined to the subject of
temperance, out of which (as many .suppose) grew a
religious awakening which increased rapidly through
the winter and spring. Mr. Boardman, with the assist-
ance of a number of young Presbyterian ministers,
have been constantly employed in various parts of the
town. Just before electors' meeting I made inquiry,
but could not learn that any would attend. Prayer
meetings, conference meetings, anxious meetings,
temperance meetings and happy meetings of converts
seem to occupy their whole mind; no thoughts upon
politics could be spared. I had my doubts whether a
sufficient number would get together to do the neces-
sary business with decency, but when the day arrived
— the 4th of April — the electors came together from
all quarters, but there was not enough so we made
about twenty new ones, and after fervent prayer
offered up by one of the young divines, they were all
prepared to bring in their ballots for a representative.
On counting there appeared to be a greater number
of votes than ever was given by the freemen of North
Haven at any one time before, and all the votes
except one were for two persons, viz.: John Todd and
Isaac Stiles. Stiles had a handsome majority.

On April 12 the four days' meetings, as they are
termed, commenced and continued through the week.
The ablest ministers from New Haven and elsewhere


officiated. Prayer meetings were held at 5 o'cloek
every morning and conferences every evening ia
every district in town, and all the houses were

The 29th of May there were taken into the Presby-
terian church in our town, as I' understand, one hun-
dred and twenty-five persons from the age of eleven
and up to sixty and seventy. Since that the horses
and wagons have had a little more rest. At this time
some are happy, some are crazy, some in despair, anil
some are careless as ever. The same kind of excite-
ment and ' four days' meetings ' have gone through
most of the towns around us, and I mtist say from my
own observation that they have been canned on with
the greatest propriety of anything of the kind I ever

Perhaps I ought to tell you a little more about
temperance. Last January Joel Ray and Richard
Mansfield took out licenses to retail spirits ; they
have both got convinced it was wrong and relin-
quished the business. There is now no retailer in
town. Jesse Andrews has taken down the tavern
sign. Dr. Foot bought Ray's liquor and emptied one
cask containing about half a barrel of gin into the

Such was practical Christianity in North Haven
sixty years ago. iThis was the beginning of the tem-
perance movement. It was supplemented a few years
later by the formation of the "Cold Water Army," and
thus was laid the foundation of that sentiment well
sustained in the community at the present day.

Following Mr. Boardman's dismissal came a long
and trying period of '* candidating."

At a special meeting of the First Society, May 14-
1833, a committee was chosen " To conclude what sum
will be proper to offer Rev. J^everctt Griggs as a
yearly salary," in connection with a call to be extend-
ed him to become their pastor. This committee



reported §600 as a " suitable sum," and Mr. Grig-gs
was invited to settle among them. He acceded to the
request and was ordained fourth pastor of the Con-
gregational Church October 30, 1833.

Leverett Griggs was the son of Captain Stephen
and Elizabeth Griggs, of Tolland, Conn. He was born
November it, 1808, the youngest of a family of seven.
His constitution in early youth was far from vigorous,
and it is related that some of the neighbors doubted
if his parents would be able " to raise him," but his
father had lived too long on the hills of Tolland to be
discouraged at the sickly appearance of his youngest
born, and with great faith stoutly maintained he
would "make a minister of Leverett yet," and he did.

In 1825 he entered Yale college, and was gradu-
ated with high honor in 1S29. Immediately he en-
gaged in teaching, first in Baltimore and then back
in the old college halls as a tutor. In the latter place
he remained but a year. He was now twenty-four
years of age. Before him stretched the long vista of
life wherein he hoped to glorify his Redeemer by
publicly proclaiming the glad tidings of salvation.

He preached his first sermon in Northford, Conn.,
April 14, 1833. Within a short time (perhaps the next
Sabbath) he preached at North Haven and probably
remained here during the month of May, for on the
last day of this nionth, at a special meeting it was
decided to formally offer him the pulpit of the Con-
gregational Church.

There seems to have been no haste on either side.
The summer was spent by preacher and people in
becoming better acquainted with each other, and it
was not until September of that year that the society's
committee reported " the Rev. ]Mr. Griggs has
acceded to our proposals."

He was ordained Oct. 20. 1833. There was a large
and enthusiastic audience. It is related that the sing-
ing at this event was made a marked feature, and


that the efforts of the great chorus choir surpassc(|
anything ever heard before in the old sanctuary.

Two months before his ordination, and while
preaching as pastor-elect, Mr. Griggs had married a
maiden of his native town. Tolland county hati
already furnished North Haven a most noble woman
in the person of ]\Iartha Trumbull, and now again it
was laid imder contribution when Catherine Stearns
pledged her hand to the young divine. Both by their
lives reflected honor on womanhood everywhere.

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 21 of 32)