Sheldon B. (Sheldon Brainerd) Thorpe.

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

. (page 23 of 32)
Online LibrarySheldon B. (Sheldon Brainerd) ThorpeNorth Haven annals : a history of the town from its settlement, 1680, to its first centennial, 1886 → online text (page 23 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

nected therewith to protect the interests of moralitv
and religion, there was much lawlessness within cr.:
borders, and the moral tone of society at one time wa>
alarmingly low.

This view from the rear, as it were, is gathcrc-i!
from the papers of Deacon Joshua Barnes.

Mr. Barnes was appointed "Justice of the Peace "'
by the General Assembly in 1802. His predecessor^

Samuel Bassett, . i739-i747 Samuel Sackett, . i~5~-^~''
Samuel Sackett, . . 174S-1749 (Undetermined), i777 i"' '
Isaiah Tuttle, , . 1730-1756 Joshua Barnes, . 1S02-1-1-

It appears from Esq. Barnes' " Court Book," that
in his thirteen years' administration he tried 34^ ^^^'!>-
arate complaints. The majority of these suits wcrt
for the collection of claims and for the payment i<:
notes. Trespass, theft, bastardy, housebreakin;.;.
assault, card playing. Sabbath breaking, etc., made up
the balance.

Wife beating, keeping lewd womicn, idlenes>.
vagrancy, were crimes by no means uncomino:'
Lyman Burke, Jotham Allen and others were con-
victed in bastardy cases. In 1796 John Moulthrci'ji.
Levi Blakeslee, Jacob Thorp, Cooper Andrews. Seba
Thorp and Sylvia Jacobs were fined five shillini:>
each for "playing in meeting." The penalty for tlu^
misdemeanor was afterwards raised, for Solomon


Blakeslee and Tilly Ralph were compelled to pay
§1.67 each in 1S02, and Esther and Betsy Jacobs $2.07
for the same indulgence in 1812. Also in 1812 Joel
Pierpont was arrested for unnecessarily traveling on
the Sabbath and fined $3.09.

In 1813 Darling Dayton, Elam Jacobs, Abraham
Doolittle, Levi Brockett and Jared Allen,

" Did at North Haven on the 7th day of February Break the
Sabbath by whisperin, lafing and making Disturbance in the time
of Public worship on said day, which doings are against the peace
and contrary to the statute as made and provided."

This little escapade cost the young fellows $2.27

Self-complaints were frequent, as by this means
fines were made nominal and the culprits escaped a
technical arrest. Pierpont Dayton and Whiting Hull
complained of themselves for ploughing on a " Fast
Day," August 20, 1812. Loly Humaston, Bedotha
Dayton, Roxana Ives, Aaron Potter and Willis
Humaston complained of themselves for disturbing
public worship on April 4, 1813, and were fined $1

Indiscretions of this nature reached high water
mark on Fast day, March 27, 1812. On this occasion
a party of young men and maidens laid themselves
out for a picnic. That they had one the sequel shows.
The parties implicated were Wooding Barnes, Han-
nah Frost, Zera Barnes, Jude Dayton, Clinton Jacobs,
Joshua Dayton, Sidney Brockett, Miles Culver and
Silas Jacobs. The language of the complaint in one
case sets forth the nature of the ofEence of all.

"North Haven, April 16, 1S12.

Personally appeared, Wooding Barnes of North Haven, and
voluntarily complained of himself that he was guilty of a Breach
of the peace, of an Act of this State to enforce the observance of
Days of Public fasting and thanksgiving, by going on to Grate
Rock, ("Peter's Rock") so called, with others on the 27th day of


March last, it being Fast Day, and there recreating himself v.i!!
others, by rolling down stones."

These gentle youth were mulcted $2.27 each. Vaw
this was not the end of it. Five of them were
indicted for "playing cards" on the same occasiui..
and fined $4.61 additional. Culver was unable to pay.
and was taken to jail.

Also the consumption of liquor at' this time is
almost beyond belief. To this indulgence probably
most of the foregoing evils could be traced. A distil-
lery was in active operation several years at ]\Iuddy
river, and its product freely sold. Taverns and gro-
ceries always kept a supply and in general terms ii
may be said, " everybody drank."

Reference had been made to one Lyman Burke.
This individual was the most notorious "tavern
haunter" of his day. He lived where William Hull's
house now stands. From an old account book, it is
seen that from 1804 to 1810, Burke drank at Jesse
Andrews' tavern:

5 quai-ts cider brandy at 25c per quart.

2 pints wine at 37c per pint.

20 gallons cider at 5c per gallon.

2 quarts gin at 75c per quart.

600 gills rum at 12c per gill.

46 gills French brandy at 6c per gill.

22 "nip^" sling at 12c per nip.

4 " bowls " punch at 25c per bowl.

17 gills "bitters" at 6c per gill.

This was " on credit." The drinks for which cash
was paid, and the quantity consumed elsewhere at
other resorts, seem to entitle Lyman to a first pre-
mium. Another hard drinker was William Waterman.
In this connection the following is quoted, which car-
ries its own moral. The scene of events was ^Mans
field's bridge, while repairs were going on.


March, iSiS.
* Town of North Haven,

To Abbott & Ray, Dr.

March 2. To yi gallon brandy, ..... § 40

March 3. " 5 pints old rum and sugar, . . . . i 20

" crackers and rum 19

March 5. " old rum and sugar, 61

" " " " " 35

" % gallon gin 50

" I pint gin, ....... 12

" yz gallon gin, ....... 50

" yi pint gin, 06

" old rum and sugar, 20

" Yz gallon gin, 50

March 6. " i gallon gin, i 00

" old rum and sugar, 31

" " ■' " " 13

$6 07

The youth of North Haven a century ago were
expected to learn a trade. Boys were frequently
"bound out " for a term of years, and "apprentices"
were found serving at all branches of business, under
all sorts of masters. These apprentices never suffered
from too high living or too much idleness. Their
store of pocket money rarely troubled them unless
for its scarcity. Long hoitrs of work, and laborious
at that, scanty food, coarse and insufficient clothing,
were commonly all they received.

A sample indenture is here given that the " gilded
youth" of 1890 may contrast his condition with his
brother of 1790.

"This Indenture Witnesseth.

That Asa Tharp, son of Jacob Tharp, late of North Haven,
deceased, of the Town of New Haven, in the State of Conn., with
the consent, approbation and concurrence of Titus Tharp, his
Guardian, of the said Town, hath put himself, and bj- these Pres-
ents doth virtually put himself Apprentice to Capt. Joshua Barns,

•In 1822 the town paid Joel Ray ^^.^^ more for "spirits" at Mansfield's
bridge, and in 1823 paid $1,315 for " spirits and crackers" at Muddy river bridge."


Jr., of said North Haven, to learn the Art of Joiner, and after t .,•
manner of an apprentice to serve him, the said Barnes, ivom •:
date hereof untill the 14th day of February, which will' be in t;^,
year of our Lord 1790, during all which time he, the said Apprv::-
tice, his said Master shall faithfully serve, his lawful comma*;; \
obey : He shall not absent himself from his said Master's scrv;..-
without his leave.

And the said master doth covenant and agree with the s;;:v';
guardian, and apprentice, that he will use his best endeavors :•
teach or cause to be taught and instructed the said apprentice, thi-
art and mystery of a joiner which he nowuseth in all its brancho.
and provide for said apprentice sufficient food and physick, wash
ing and lodging both in health and sickness during said term of
service.^ And at or before the end of said term of time, to giw
and deliver to said apprentice in joiners tools or cloathes, or both
to the value of £12, lawful money. And for the true performance
of these agreements the parties jointly bind themselves to each
other. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and
seals this 19th day of January in the year of our Lord 17S6.

[Seals], Titus Tharp,

Asa Tharp,
Joshua Barnes.

In 1795 the selectmen of the town bound out an
orphan boy for a term of years for the consideration
of "meat, drink, washing, lodging- and physick, and
two suits of clothes, one for common wear and the
other suitable for holy days."

THE farmers' cash STORE.

Probably the 'first syndicate in which the North
Haven farmer was ever concerned was organized in
1804. Its headquarters was in New Haven, and its
purpose was " to buy and sell and make contracts," or,
in other words, it was a joint stock concern for the
better disposal of the farmers' products. It had its
representatives mostly from New Haven county.
Each subscriber to the capital stock was held for a
hundred dollars and the membership could not exceed
sixty or fall below forty-six.

Wallingford had nine shares, New Haven throe
shares, Northford eleve'n shares, Hamden five shares



Cheshire four shares, Waterbury two shares, East
Haven one share and North Haven twelve shares, the
latter owned as follows:

Joshua Barnes, Daniel Pierpont,

Stephen Munson, Joshua Barnes, Jr.,

Amos Blakeslee, Samuel Hemingway,

Philemon Blakeslee, Eli Brockett,

James Heaton, Enoch Ray,

John Smith, Thomas Beach.

How long it continued and whether with failure or
success is not known.


The great marsh lying on both sides of the Quin-
nipiac river, from the railroad bridge in North Haven
to the village of Fair Haven, a distance of eight miles,
covers thousands of acres. Its formation is a matter
of the long since past. Geology asserts that of old
the Connecticut river rolled its waters along our val-
ley — that a great barrier of rock whereof East Rock
is an abutment, stretched eastward to the heights
beyond Fair Haven — that an immense lake in conse-
quence covered the North Haven and Wallingford
plains — that ages later a mighty convulsion changed
the face of nature — that this rock barrier gave way —
that the course of "the long river" was turned east-
ward through the Middlesex valley to the sound.

None of the early settlers appear to have been
greedy for the possession of this marsh and it
remained as " Commons " many years. By and by a
portion of its grass product began to have commer-
cial value in market. A hindrance to the gathering
of this crop were the frequent tides, but no remedy
seems to have been tried until 1759 when a small
dyke was constructed on the East river. Ten years
later — 1769 — one was thrown across the meadows
near West River.*

* New Haven Proprietors Record.


North Haven men did not move in the mattc-i
until 1771. In that year they put themselves or.
record, to wit:

"Upon the memorial of James Pierpont and
others, proprietors of a piece or parcel of meadow tir
marshy land lying east of the road leading- fn.i:;
Wallingford to New Haven in the town of Xcw
Haven in the East jMeadow so called, which is ovlt-
flowed by salt water, and that with drains and dikc^
could be rendered profitable to the owners, etc.. etc."
[Here follows the course of the proposed dyke touch-
ing the meadows of Enos Bassett, Moses Gilbert.
Caleb Ball, James Pierpont, Aaron Gilbert, John
Munson, Daniel Todd, " Turner's Creek " " Atwatcr's
Point."] At the same session Richard Brockett ant:
David Jacobs (Muddy river men) petitioned for a
dyke enclosing about eighty acres at " Dirt)' Point."
touching the meadows of Stephen Brockett, Joshua
Barnes, Isaac Stiles, Joel Bradley, Eliphalet Pardee.
Ebenezer Brockett, Hezekiah Todd, Theophilus
Eaton and Stephen Todd.

By far the most extensive of these schemes of dyk-
ing originated in the year 1802. At that time Xurtli
Haven and Hamden petitioned the General Assembly
for an immense barrier beginning at the house of
Benjamin Brockett (now Lucius Brockett) on the ea.'^i
shore, and extending across the meadows and river
to the Hamden side. The memorial recites that tlie
former small dykes had proved ineffectual, and that
a barrier of the magnitude contemplated " would
divide the fresh from the salt meadow and be of great
advantage." By this means they would enclose some
1,500 acres. This dyke was constructed at great
expense. Not only the main line had to be built, but
the banks on either side of the East river reqiiired
raising and strengthening; sluices had to be con-
structed and several rough problems in engineering
settled. There is reason to believe that it did not

Theophilus Eaton,



accomplish all that its projectors claimed, from the
fact that shortly after its erection a number of
smaller dyke companies wei^e formed, some of them
enclosing tracts within the very area just mentioned.
Of these companies not one has existence to-day
except in name. No meeting" has been held in years
and the old works are demolished. Of .one tract of
one hundred fifty acres, about sixty are mowed at
present, the remainder being under water. Eaton
Brothers cut thirty stacks annually here, but as they
harvest this crop twice in the season, they secure
good stock hay. Other proprietors, who mow but
once, get an inferior article. Mr. Jesse O. Eaton of
Montowese, the last clerk of the " The Mocking Hill
Dyke Co.," has its original charter with the names of
the proprietors.


Previous to the incorporation of the town the
freemen went to New Haven to vote. No one could
attain to this franchise lightly in the earlv days of
the colony.* In 1658, to acquire the privilege of a
freeman, one must be twenty-one years of age, " be
possessed of ^30 proper personal estate, and be of
honest and peaceable conversation."! In 1675 the
same moral qualifications held, but the money basis
was lowered to ^20. In 1689 the selectmen were
required to issue a cfertificate setting forth the orderly
qualities of the candidate, and the property clause
was reduced to forty shillings. In 1702 town clerks were
required to keep a " roll of the freemen" and read the
same at the town meetings, to which every man must
answer. Absentees were fined two shillings unless
excused for cause.

In 1729 the candidate was required to present him-
self in open town meeting, and if found duly qi:alified

* Church membership was made a requisite by Xew Haven colony previous to

+ Colonial Records.



be sworn in a public manner. A few names amn!:.-
many are here cited, showing- when some of or.r
earlier citizens came to this privilege :

Simon Tuttle, September 3, 1759.
Ezra Stiles, September 3, 1751.
Joseph Pierpont, September 3, 1754.
Ephaim Humaston, April 12, 1756.
Jacob Brockett, April 11, 1757.
Thomas Ray, April 9, 1759.
Samuel Pierpont, April 9, 1769.
Jotham Blakeslee, April 13, 1761.
Jonathan Dayton, April 13. 1761.
Ebenezer Blakeslee, April 13, 1761.
Isaac Stiles, April 13, 1761.
Lawrence Clinton, April 13, 1761.
Joshua Barnes, April 13, 1761.
Seth Heaton, April 7, 1760.
Moses Thorp. September 20. 176S.

Judged by political terms, the town was demo-
cratic in ratio of about three to one.

At the incorporation, the freemen went to the mect-
ing - house on the green to vote. The ballot box wa.s
placed on the commitnion table. There was no '' check
list " kept, and " repeating " had not been heard of.

That readers may gain a little idea of the political
strength of the town early in this century we copy
from an old memorandum (author unknown) the fol-
lowing: «

April, 1S04 — Federalists, 25 votes; Democrats, 73.
April, 1S05 — Federalists. 3S votes; Democrats, 93.
April, 1S06 — Federalists, 36 votes; Democrats, iii.
April, 1S07 — Federalists, 34 votes; Democrats, 99.
April. iSoS — Federalists, 43 votes; Democrats, 113.
April, iSog — Federalists, 45 votes; Democrats. S5.
April, iSio — Federalists, 37 votes; Democrats, 91.
April, iSii — Federalists, 44 votes; Democrats, 72.
April, 1S12 — Federalists, 20 votes; Democrats, S9.

In 1S24 the friends of Andrew Jackson pushcil
him for the presidency. Samtiel Culver always men-
tioned with pride that *he was the only man in Xortli


Haven who voted for him that year. Jackson was
defeated, but in 1828 came before the country again,
and this time with such popularity as few candi-
dates know. Culver was the local hero of the hour,
and the Democratic party here, led by him, cast its
vote solid for "Old Hickory."

A scrap of paper found among the possessions of
Daniel Pierpont, Esq., is worthy of mention because
of the hint it gives concerning the relations which
existed in his day between politics and church creeds.
It is an extract from a letter to his daughter in 1833.

" You requested me to write after our Election. I am

unable to inform you much about No. Haven politics. I believe
they are founded on everything but 'Mason' and 'Anti-Mason.'
The vote for representative was 1S3 for Hubbard Barnes (demo-
crat), 27 for Eleazer Warner and 26 for Amasa Thorp. Warner is
a first rate Cold Water Presbyterian — Thorp is a favorite of the
old Republican party; his votes probably were the production of
Sectarian zeal, as their complaint and as the truth is, they have
had a Representative belonging to that Society but one session
in 12 years."

Hence it appears that the First Society, though
stronger numerically than the Second Society, was
really a minority in political matters. The term "old
republican" applied to ]Mr. Thorp, must not be taken
in the modern sense but as belonging to the demo-
cratic party previous' to its adoption of the latter
title. " Sectarian zeal," (to use Pierpont's words) did
elect Thorp two years later to the General Assembly


As a rule our representatives from 1786 to 1854,
were democrats. In the latter year the political sen-
timent of the town changed on the qitestion of slavery.
A large number of yoi:ng men attained their major-
ity about this time, and the Republican party came
into power. Since then but four persons have been
elected to the legislature from the former once domi-
nant organization.


Prohibition, as a political factor, was made public
here in 1872. Its chief promotor was Frederic f.
Bradley. He may be called the father of the part\- in
this community. George W. Jones was also an ardent
supporter of the cause in his day. Other gentlemen
of more or less influence have identified themsclvLs
with it from time to time, but not in sufficient num-
bers yet to affect legislation.

Occasionally can be found an elderly citizen v/lio
deplores the present indifference to politics as con-
trasted with forty years ago. He scoff's at the rising
generations as weaklings in political belief and sup-
port. He points with emphasis to the pristine days of
Harry Bradley, Erus Bishop, Sewell Gardiner, Hervey
Dayton, Isaac Hinman, Elizur Tuttlc, warriors of tlic
first magnitude, and whose political instincts sought a
fight at every opportunity.

THE WAR OF l8l2.

Could the burned volume of the Town Journal be
restored we should find recorded therein the action o\
this community as the war of 1812 came on.

It is unlikely that at first much uneasiness was
felt. Dr. Trumbull with all his previous war experi-
ence makes little or no mention of it. There is great'
dearth of "official record" concerning it.

The community experienced its first real alarm in
September, 1813, when a small squadron of
vessels appeared at the east end of Long Island
sound. It was expected they would destroy the coast
villages and ravage the interior. Instead, they passed
harmlessly along toward New York. At this time the
Fourth Connecticut militia was garrisoning Fort

Another alarm came in the spring of 1814, to whicii
at least two North Haven men responded. The third
and final call came in September of the same year.
and it was to meet this that the community was


The following is the muster roll of those who
served, so far as known :

Eneas Blakeslee, eulisted i3i2.

Jesse Cooper, served two days in June and 13 days in Septem-
ber, 1S14.

John Todd, served 3 days in June and 13 days in September,

John Bassett, served 30 days September and October, 1S14.

Timothy Bassett, served 13 days September, 1S14.

Levi Brockett, served September S to September 21, 18 14.

Samuel Cooper, served September 3 to September 21, 1814.

Joshua Dayton, served September S to September 21, 1814.

Thomas Eaton, served September S to September 21, 1S14.

Leverett Frost, served September S to September 21, 1S14.

John Goodsell) served September 8 to September 21, 1S14.

Richard Mansfield, served Seteraber S to September 21, 1S14.

Alfred Pierpont, served September S to September 21, 1814.

James Pierpont, served September S to September 21, 1814.

Joel Pierpont, served September 8 to September 21, 1S14.'

Isaac Stiles, served September S to September 21, 1814.

Augustus Munson, served September 8 to September 21, 1S14.

John Beach, .

Ziba Shepard, .

Enoch Ray, .

Part of these men served in a light battery which
patrolled a portion of the time the west shore below
New Haven. They were finally quartered in Fort
Wooster on Beacon Hill while this defence was build-
ing. John Bassett was chief gunner of this artillery
company and the writer has frequently heard him
say he fired the first cannon from this breastwork
(not at the enemy, but for practice). It was at the
construction of this fort that Dr. Trumbull and his
one hundred North Haven men assisted.

Unlike the war of the Revolution or of the Rebel-
lion, the service of these men was not voluntary.
They were members of the state militia and were
drafted. The privilege of procuring substitutes was
allowed. Elijah Hull was the only person who availed
himself of this permission. It was not thought the


campaign would be lengihy or dangerous, and m, .;.
most cases the men drawn shouldered their niuskv!-
and reported in person.

An anecdote concerning John Beach, more fair.-l
iarly known in his latter days as " Major," will not :;<
out of place here. Beach was a captain in the milu-...
and received orders to march with his company t-
the relief of New London. He camped the first nis^i:;
near Guilford. After supper the men gathered arouiMi
the camp fire and produced a pack of cards for divt r
sion. Captain Beach was solicited to take a hand at
a game of "old sledge," and as a courtesy the card-
were handed him for the first deal. The sturdy olu
/ warrior and puritan, very much more familiar wit:.
his Bible than these paste boards, took the laitc-r
much as he would a rattlesnake, and opening the livr
coals of the fire with his swoi^d dropped them in. I:
was noticed he did not sheathe his weapon. Not ..
word was said, neither was "high-low-jack" played i:;
the camp that night or thereafter while Beach liail

With the possible exception of the latter soldit-r.
it is not probable any of the North Haven men ever
saw the enemy. Their service was very li;-:lit.
yet many of them secured pensions toward their hit
ter days. The last survivor was Levi Brockett, win-
died in 1884.


Foremost among the industries of the town nnist
be placed the manufacture of brick. From its fir>:
settlement there has hardly been a time when thi>
branch of labor has not been carried on. One cannot
fix the exact year when bricks were first made in Nc'-
Haven colony. Atwater, in a list of "house holdcr>, "
1641-3, mentions "a brickmaker." At "East Farm>"
(now Cedar Hill), we know Governor Theophilu-
Eaton had a brickyard, for at his death — 1658 — "lii^
farm by the brick kilns " was transferred to Thomas


Yale. The Yale possessions (except in the case of
Nathaniel) covered large areas between Cedar Hill
and the present southern boundary line between Ham-
den and North Haven. It is probable that the
ancient yards lay within New Haven limits.

But few brick were brought into the parish for
some years after its settlement. The earliest chim-
neys, if not of logs and clay, were constructed of
stone. Later, chimney tops were laid of brick, but
not generally till after 1700, and it was a hundred
years later when this material began to be used in
the underpinning of houses.

There are some indications that the first brick
used in the parish adorned the top of the chimney of
the Wetmore parsonage in 1718. The- dimensions of
those preserved out of this old structure furnish the

Concerning pioneer brick making in this parish,
the honor belongs to Nathaniel Thorp, Jr. This
young man was the son of Nathaniel Thorp, the set-
tler, and was born 1695. He died 1725 and was buried
in the old cemetery. In the inventory of his estate
mention is made of " House and Lands and ye bricks,
and bords." He had no children, for his property
was divided am_ong his brothers and sisters. Moses,

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 23 of 32)