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 25 of 32)
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cessful teacher in this and other towns. In the fall
■of 1862 he enlisted in the Twenty-seventh Connecti-
cut volunteers (see future account of service) and
served his term. After some preparatory study lie
entered the medical school of Yale college in 1S64.
graduating in 186S. While engaged in this course oi
study he received in 1865 the appointment of "resi-
dent physician" in the Connecticut State Hospital ai
New Haven. In 1866 was made assistant physician
to the Hartford Hospital. In 1867 was appointed to
supply a vacancy as assistant physician to the late
Dr. John S. Butler, superintendent of the retreat for
the Insane at Hartford. Having finished his studies
he determined to disprove the oft-repeated statement
that "a prophet hath honor save in his own country"
by locating in his native place in 186S. He is at
present the leading physician of the town, with a
wide patronage and an increasing reputation.

There have been in the history of the town other
physicians than these cited, but their labors were

11 I '

'4 i

' 1

^, ^ ^'^-r^^^^. /^.



temporary and call for no extended mention. Among-
them were Dr. Chapman and Dr. Hill.

In connection also with this n:iedical history
shotild be mentioned the name of Dr. Edward O.
Cowles, son of Rev. Orson Cowles and grandson of
Dr. Joseph Foot, before mentioned, and Dr. Gustavus
W. Eliot, son of Dea. Whitney Elliott, and now a
leading practitioner in New Haven.


In 1880 a few residents living in the centre of the
village resolved to appeal to the First Ecclesiastical
Society for liberty to "improve the Green." A special
meeting of the Society was petitioned for and held
December 20, 1S80, at which time a committee was
chosen (afterwards known as "The Pierpont Park
Commission), consisting of Deacon Whitney Elliott,
Sheldon B. Thorpe, Cullen B. Foote, Edward L. Lins-
ley and John F. Barnes. This commission was to be
permitted to begin work, grading, fencing and
improving the public green, when the sum of §500 or
more had been raised or pledged to the satisfaction of
the Societj^'s Committee."

The commission organized December 23, with
Whitney Elliott as president and S. B. Thorpe as sec-
retar)^ and treasurer. Elliott resigned two days later,
and Charles B. Smith was chosen as his successor. A
reorganization of the commission followed, with S.
B. Thorpe president, E. L. Linsley secretary and C.
B. Foote treasurer. An appeal for funds was made,
and within sixty days a little more than $700 was
secured in cash and pledges. By April i, $730 had
been raised. Donald G. Mitchell was employed to
examine the tract and report a plan for its improve-
ment. He prepared a careful diagram of the
grounds, which, if adhered to, would give the village
a country park second to none. Among other feat-
ures, it provided for the removal of the old cemetery,


the uprooting- of most of the unsig-htly evergreens,
and the planting of deciduous trees and shrubs in
advantageous locations. This plan was so revolution-
ary in its sweep, particularly in the removal of the
cemetery, that it prejudiced some of the more con-
servative people against the enterprise.

The first business was to turn highway travel
from its surface. Consultation was had with the
town authorities, who gave a rather unwilling pledge
that if a suitable road was constructed around it.
without expense to the town, they would graciously
accept the same, but would lend no aid. Believing
the verdict of time would sustain them, and not to be
balked at the outset, the Commission built the road,
in the face of threats, which was accepted by the
town, October 3, 18S1.

Work then commenced. Clay, soil, seeds, fer-
tilizers, were plentifully applied. Barren spots were
covered, elms were planted, weeds uprooted, and the
entire surface made to undergo a change.

From the very outset the commission failed to
receive that support from the public to which they
were entitled. The disputed claim to the real estate
operated to defeat their plans. The First Ecclesias-
tical Society refused to surrender whatever right it
might have in the property. The Second Society re-
fused to contribute to the movement so long as the
title was thus clouded, and it was well understood
that the town would not touch the property as a gift
if it was offered to it.

This three-fold complication made the duties of
the commission anything but a pleasure. Occasion-
ally a member would resign, but his place was
speedily filled and its morale sustained.

The time soon came, however, when this lack of
co-operation and unity beg-an to tell. Subscriptions
of money and donations of labor ceased. With such
limited means as the Conimission possesses it endeav-


ors to keep in order the grounds. An attempt in 1SS8
to make the old cemetery accessible in every part by
the removal of several trees, the pruning of others to
an unusual height and the general removal of briars
and weeds, was regarded as such a desecration by the
Society who had neglected it a hundred seventy-four
years that they clamored furiously for the removal of
the commissioners and only failed in the attempt by
a single vote.

Herewith is submitted the financial report of the
commission :


Hon. Hobart B. Bigelow .... $100 00

Hon. Henry D. Smith 100 00

Hon. S. Leverius Bradley . . ... 100 00

E. Henry Barnes $100 00

From other sources 378 04

$778 04


To Lawrence Bruce $218 35

" S. F. Linsley 140 90

" Expense of fencing . . . . 150 00

■" Donald G. Mitchell 50 00

" Trees and planting same ... 43 50

" Sundry bills .' 172 64

" Cash on hand 2 65

$778 04
The present members of the commission are :
the Rev. W. T. Reynolds, president ; Sheldon B.
Thorpe, secretary ; Charles B. Smith, treasurer ; Solo-
mon F. Linsley.


A little before 1759 that religious denomination
known as " Separates " began to hold meetings at the
house of Benjamin Beach at Muddy river. There
was but a handful of them but they arrayed them-
selves with so much bitterness against the " standing
church " at North Haven as to cause considerable
annoyance. Eventually they united with the Wal-


lingford people of the same belief and btiildcd .1
clrnrch on the plains in the lower part of that t>'w:i.
This was in 1770. Internal dissensions smote the::;
there after a few years and the organization v.-:;".
broken up in 1789. The North Haven members the:;
formed a body of their own with headquarters a-ai:!
at Muddy river. Here they refused to pay "chureii
rates " to support Dr. Trumbull and as a result tiic-r
property was seized in some instances. This coiirsL-
had the effect to disorganize and scatter them. Many
embraced the Baptist belief, indeed itniay not be-
wide of the fact to say that the Baptist Society <.f
North Haven owes its germ to the people of this


As an organization, the Baptist Society dates its
existence from June 12, 181 1. Some who came
with the New Haven colony in the early days were
tinctured with what was called " Baptist Heresy," Mrs.
Eaton, wife of the first governor, being a notable
instance. Others of lesser note appeared from time
to time, holding views of liberty and gospel ordin-
ances peculiar to the Baptists, but not in numbers
sufficient to warrant a separate organization, as was
the case in Rhode Island, some parts of Massachu-
setts and eastern Connecticut. The first Baptist
church formed in this vicinity was in Wallingford.
Later this church was increased in membership by
receiving a number of "Separatists." Of the latter
body many lived in North Haven. These "Sepa-
rates " protested against what they regarded as the
want of conformity to the gospel in the constitution
and spirit of the established churches. Ultimately
most of the Separatist churches in New England
became Baptist churches.

The first Baptist known and identified as such was
the wife of Benjamin Beach. The first person bap-

♦ From notes by the Rev. A. H. Simonds, of Montowese.


tized in the town in this belief was Lyman Todd, a
resident in the northwestern part of the town. This
was in 1785. He united with the church at Walling-
ford. It was his custom to hold services in his neigh-
borhood, and he invited various Baptist clergymen to
preach at his house.

In 1809 Rev. Joshua Bradley, a graduate of Brown
University, who had been greatly blest in his work at
Newport, R. I., and in Mansfield and Middletown in
this state, was invited to open an academv in Wal-

At the invitation of one of his former pupils,
engaged in teaching school at North Haven, Mr.'
Bradley came down and held a meeting at the house
of Asahel Barnes. A few were awakened to a sense
of religious things at this meeting. He came again
soon and after repeated visits a revival followed. " At
this time the first one to receive the rite of baptism
was Miss Betsy Croken, April 10, 1810. The ordinance
was administered in the river near the house of Mr.
Barnes above mentioned.

A. large concourse of people witnessed this inter-
esting and, to most of them, novel service, and as the
young disciple, well known and loved bv many, was
buried with her Lord in baptism, many were deeply

This was the preliminary work. The church was
organized with twenty-three members, June 12, 181 1.
Joshua Bradley, Leah Bradley,

David Wright, Patty Barnes,

Joel Beach, PoUy Humiston,

Jesse Brockett, PoUy Todd,

James Linsley, Patty Beach,

James H. Linsley, Abigail Brockett,

Asahel Barnes, Beda Beach,

Lyman Todd. Emily Linsley,

Benjamin Baldwin, Lydia Pierpont

Jesse D. Beach, juiia Tucker,

Richard Scott. • Zeruiah Cooper,

Sally Baldwin.


Mr. Bradley served the flock as pastor for thr^-.-
years. At the close of his pastorate the church ]:;i:;
increased to seventy members. Not all of these h«.v. .
ever were North Haven people. Wallingford a:;<!
New Haven added liberally to the number. The \V;.l-
lingford organization from one cause and another li^U
become disbanded aboi:t the time the North Haw::
church commenced. There are some indications tlut
Wallingford regarded North Haven as a brand:,
rather than an independent body, for by an under-
standing, communion services were held part of the
time in the former place.

The Society formed to work with the chiirch in
i8ii was called the Union Baptist Society of Xortli
Haven. The articles of agreement- to which its mem-
bers subscribed were preceded by this statement of

We the subscribers for good and sufficient reasons as we ap}ire-
hend do dissent from Ecclesiastical Societies as established bv the
law of the state, being of the opinion that religion ought not t<>
be subject to the control of the Civil power; that every man has
the right to choose his own religion and religious teachers, and to
worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience; th:ii
no man ought to be compelled by law to pay for the support of
religious teachers of any sect or denomination which he does not
choose, and that all forced connection with churches or societies i>i
inconsistent with the proper end of religious institutions, and
tends to subvert and defeat the object proposed — viz. — the glory
of God and the happiness of man.

Sabbath services were held for about a year and a
half at private houses. The most general place of
meeting was in a large room fitted up for the purpose
in the house of Jedediah Button, yet standing some-
forty rods south of the present church.

The first meeting-house was erected in 1S12 on the
"Green" at Muddy River, as the locality was called
then. This plot was given by Stephen Brockett to the
society for that purpose. The building was 45 x 35,
with double rows of windows, and had three gal-


leries. Its cost was about $2,000. It was built of

The erection of this place of worship was no small
■undertaking for this little band. They could look for
no help outside. There were but about fifty Baptist
churches in the state at that time. None of these
were strong; on the contrary, most were feeble and
surrounded by adverse influences.

As a consequence it was something more than
three years before the house was fully completed,
though in the meantime it was used for religious ser-

Mr. Bradley left this pulpit in 18 14. The people
then became dependent on "supplies."

In December, 181 7, Rev. Oliver Wilson became its
pastor. He remained tmtil April, 1825. Among those
brought in under his ministry were : Caleb Moul-
throp, Medad F. Robinson, Giles T. Baldwin, Abra-
ham Beach, Giles Beach; men who became pillars
here and elsewhere. On jNIr. Wilson's retirement,
followed another period of "supplies."

In 183 1, without a settled preacher, the church was
favored with another awakening. Rev. Mr. Bentley,
blest with success in other fields, came to them and
preached with power. Among those baptized under
his ministrations Avere : John S. Linsley, Elihu Lar-
kins, Cordelia Brockett (Robinson), and Jane Larkins

At this time — 1831 — the first Sunday school was
organized, with forty-five members. This was a large
average as compared with the other churches in the
state. As was the custom in all country parishes,
when cold weather approached in autumn the Sunday
school disbanded and went into "winter quarters,"
coming out late in the spring, generally poor from its
hibernating sleep, having lost a promising class of
older boys and girls, who had passed into the world
in the interim.


In July, 1835, Rev. Truman O. Judd, of WestficM.
Conn., became pastor. Thirty-six persons united \v:t:,
the church under his pastorate. Through his clu-n ,
the present parsonage was built, Avhich has been n<,
small factor in parish prosperity ever since.

Mr. Judd removed to Gilbertsville, N. Y. His sm -
cessor was Rev. John Noy, ordained December .?,
1839. He remained one year, and was followed by
Rev. Harmon Ellis, who continued for three year's
with marked success. Then succeeded the short pas-
torates of Rev. E. T. Winter and Rev. N. Whiting.

In 1847 Rev. Charles W. Potter became the shep-
herd of this people, and remained four and a half
years. During his term he undertook and carried
forward to completion the scheme of a new churcli
edifice. The first building erected was of wood, unat-
tractive in style, and unsuited in many respects to the
wants of the worshipers.

There was some difference of opinion concerning
the material for a new building, but one was ulti-
mately erected of brick, to the satisfaction of all. Its
dimensions corresponded very nearly with the old
structure. The cost was not far from $4,000.

Mr. Potter resigned his charge in 1852. Rev.
Truman O. Judd was then recalled, after an absence
of thirteen years. He was installed and remained for
the next ten year^. In all, Mr. Judd's term of service
covered a period of fourteen years, much the longest
pastorate of any who held the sacred office in that
church, and, as appears from the records, the most
successful in increasing the membership, in propor-
tion to the time of service, excepting Mr. Bradley.

Following him, in 1862, came Rev. Solomon Gale.
Mr. Gale was succeeded by Rev. G. J. Ganun, and he
in turn by Rev. J. M. Lyon. Only five years had
elapsed, during which period three pastors had served.
This was part of the period of the civil war, here, as
in other places, not favbrable to much spiritual ad-



In April, 1867, Rev. A. H. Simonds was called to
the pastorate of the church, remaining until April,
1874. His successor was Rev. Henry G. Smith,
ordained there June 11, 1875, and he retired in
March. 1877. The next pastor was Rev. Otis Saxton,
who left in the following May. In June, 1878, Rev.
William Gussman was called to the pulpit, remaining
until November, 1880. Following him came Rev. E.
S. Hill, from April, 1881, to April, 1885. Rev. W. R.
Terry succeeded the latter in December, 1885, contin-
uing until May, 1887, at which time Rev. A. H.
Simonds (present pastor) was recalled, after an
absence of thirteen years.

The following gentlemen have served the church
as deacons : Jesse Brockett, Ward Johnson, Benjamin
Baldwin, Lewis Bates, Hervey Sackett, Linus Barnes,
William P. Todd.

Four hundred eighteen members have been con-
nected with it, 1811-1891. Of these, 340 joined by
baptism. Though only four-score years old, this
church has been a mother indeed to other churches of
the same faith and order, for many of its sons and
daughters have from time to time gone to other and
wider fields, carrying vigor and efficiency, and honor-
ing the old parish and the church which gave them






At 4 o'clock, Thursday afternoon, April iS, iS'n.
the people of North Haven living along the liiu- (■•
the New Haven and Hartford railroad caught ilu-.r
first glimpse of the "panoply of war" as eightcLn
cars containing the Sixth Massachusetts reginur.t
passed bound for Washington. On Friday and Satur-
day other regiments followed. On Sunday, the Rev. l'>
S. J. Page, acting pastor of the Congregational Chun.::.
preached a most memorable war sermon. Scarcely
had he dismissed his congregation, and while iIk-v
were returning to their homes, two immense tram-^
thundered through the town carrying the Bost(«;i
Light artillery on open cars to the defense of Wa>l:-

Among those who watched the hurrying regimcnt->
go by were two slender, pale-faced and qtiiet youtl:^.
sons of farmers. No one dreamed of them as possiMc
soldiers, and yet four weeks later, May 23, 1861, "Wal-
stein Goodyear and Leverett A. Rogers enlisted i:i
the First Conn. Heavy Artillery for three years or 1"'
the war. These lads were the first resident Nortr.
Haven boys to enlist in the war of the Rebellion.
Henry F. Cowles, a native of the town, but living i:^
Norwich, Conn., had preceded them two weeks in tnc
Second Conn. Infantry.

Joseph O. Blair and John McCormick followed in
the Fifth Conn., in July. Luzerne S. Barnes and
Alfred Howarth, in' the Sixth Conn., in September.


Theodore Bradley, F. Wilbur Goodyear, James E.
Smith and Frederick G. Eaton in the Seventh Conn.,
also in September. Harvey S. Hoadley, Marcus A.
Jacobs, E. D. S. Goodyear, Oliver T. Smith and Edward
L. Goodyear, in the Tenth Conn., in October. Seth B.
Bassett, Julius Blakeslee and Charles W. Jacobs, in
the First Conn. Heavy Artillery, in March, 1862.

The people lost no time in expression of opinion
as lov^ers of the Union. The first flag was raised on
April 24, 1 86 1, at the junction of the highways front-
ing Dennis Thorpe's. This was a private demonstra-
tion. Three of the boys interested in the matter
afterwards entered the army; two are dead, and the
third is the writer. On June 26 the people of Monto-
wese celebrated the raising of a flag on their little
green near the Baptist church. This ensign was 14 x
20 and floated from an eighty-foot mast. Nearly a
thousand people were present and the enthusiasm of
the occasion turned many a young fellow's thoughts
to his country's need.

The next public meeting was held August 28,
same year, on North Haven green. A flag, 20 x 30,
purchased of the best possible material, was dis-
played from a staff 115 feet in height. These colors
(in use to - day) were drawn to the peak by Billa
Thorpe, then in his eighty-second year, and son of
Sergeant Jacob Thorpe, killed at the invasion of New
Haven, July 1779. Addresses were made by Rev. Dr.
Bacon, Thomas Lawton, John "Woodruff, Frank Peck
and Homer B. Sprague. There was a brass band and
glee club, and collation under the oaks.

It was not until President Lincoln's call for 300,-
000 men, in July, 1862, supplemented two days later
by Governor Buckingham's proclamation for 7,000
men as Connecticut's quota, that the town took any
action concerning volunteering.

A public meeting was held in Academy Hall
August 4, 1862, with Captain Henry H. Stiles chair-



man. The object of this gathering was expressed in

its call:

For the purpose of making an appropriation to encourage vol-
unteering in this town, and to appoint a committee to assist in
getting recruits.

There was a large attendance. Elizur C. Ttittle, a
Democrat, introduced a lengthy preamble and
resolutions setting forth the expression of the meet-
ing. The following vote was passed :

Resolved, That the selectmen be authorized to pay each volun-
teer $ioo.

On the evening of the same day the first war meet-
ing of the citizens was held at the above place. The
hall was small, barely seating one hundred fifty per-
sons, but on this occasion more than two hundred were
crowded into it. It was addressed by Hon. O. H. Piatt
and Hon. Dexter R. Wright of jNIeriden. Wright was
the hero of the evening. An impassioned appeal was
made to the North Haven boys to assist in the forma-
tion of a New Haven county organization to be known
as " The Lyon Regiment." Jacob F. Linsley, was the
first to put down his name. The volunteering then
began. As one after another of the young men rose
to pledge themselves to their country, the wildest
enthusiasm swept through the little hall. It was a scene
one seldom sees, never forgets. On this night fath-
ers gave up sons, and wives husbands. The supreme
moment had come to the quiet country town, and its
farmer boys met it squarely. That night and the
next day thirty of them enrolled themselves under
Capt. H. H. Stiles, as Company K, Fifteenth Conn.
and five days later all were in camp at Oyster Point,
New Haven.

A second town meeting was held August 30, 1862,
at which Whitney Elliott presided. At this time a
bounty of $150 was voted to any who should enlist
prior to September 10. Under this provision the nine
months' men of the Twenty-seventh Conn., came in.


r \\


Whitney Elliott.


Up to October 6, 1862, §3,900 had been expended in

The loth of September, 1862, was an eventful day
to many of the townspeople. In spite of liberal vol-
unteering, the town still lacked six on its military
quota. A local draft of nine months men was
ordered by the selectmen, Whitney Elliott, George
Munson and Horatio N. Warner. There were but
ninety-six men left in the town between the ages of
eighteen and forty-five years, enrolled as military
subjects. Soon as it became known that six of these
were demanded by the government, demoralization
set in. Teeth were extracted, rheumatism courted,
chronic minor diseases nursed into magnitude, and a
flood of ills let loose. Two or more had business in
Canada, one mysteriously disappeared for weeks, two
attempted to leave the country, and various other
devices were resorted to.

This did not prevent the draft, however. On the
day mentioned ninety-six names were placed in a box
by the authorities, and six drawn as follows : Bela T.
Jacobs, David Bassett, Jared B. Bassett, Samuel A.
Richardson, James Baldwin and one other whose name
is lost. Jacobs was a much frightened man. At the
announcement of his name he took to the woods, and
was not seen for days. The Bassetts (brothers) and
Baldwin looked at the matter calmly and waited de-
velopments. Richardson and the unknown volun-
tarily reported to the camp of the Twenty-seventh
Conn. All these men were eventually cleared for
cause. The selectmen for some reason doubted the
validity of their exemption papers, and ordered them
to repair on a certain morning to Academy Hall ready
for transportation to camp. Four of them reported
and were commanded to get into a wagon in waiting.
They refused, and as no force was on hand sufficient
to compel them, the attempt failed. Thus ended the
first draft. Substitutes were afterwards hired, and


the town breathed freer until the great draft of 1S63,
as will be seen.

On October 21, 1862, a third town meeting- was
held, at which a committee was appointed to procure
volunteers, but they were not plenty and no report

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 25 of 32)