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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river to the city; for this it was needed and for this
well patronized.

The river at this time was in excellent condition for
navigation, for John Hall and others, of Wallingford
had agreed with the General Assembly (1724) to clear
it of all obstructions at their own expense to insure a
safe passage, "for carrying down said river such
vessels as they shall build upon said river, and pray-
ing that none may be allowed in any way to stop or
obstruct said passage after they have so cleared the
same." It is not thought that this clearing operation
extended farther north than Pine bridge at North

But to return to the fisheries. Of the records of
the various fishing organizations there is little to be
found. One record, concerning the Sackett's Point
company, may prove interesting and serve as a sample
of others, and also as a reminder to the old veterans
of those ancient days.

At a warned meeting ^f the proprietors of Sackett's Point
Fishery held at Mr. Eli Sackett's January 12, 1S07.



Voted— 'Enoch. Ray, moderator; Isaac C. Stiles, clerk.

Voted— ]os\a.h. Thomas, Titus Bradley, Willard Frost and
Isaac C. Stiles, committee.

Voted — That we by 16 pounds twine for the year ensuing.

Voted— Tha-t we by 2 new ropes.

Voted — That we by 12 pounds led for the season.

Voted— ThaX we arrae oure sean on the 9th day of April at 8

Fi?/^'^— That all those that is not on the fishing ground by g
o'clock in the morning on the gth day of April next shall forfeit
and pay one pint of rum.

Voted — That the committee furnish two stakes to a gang.

Voted— ^Th3.t those rites that is not paid on the day of arming
shall forfeit their rites till paid.

When these claims were first taken up, and for a
hundred and more years thereafter in some cases, they
were productive in the extreme, and poor enough was
the settler who did not have one or more barrels of
salt shad in his cellar for home consumption. In the
spring of the year the East river literally swarmed
with this toothsome fish, and it was then that life was
worth living to the fishing gangs. In fact, this river
appears always to have been a favorite resort of this
branch of the finny tribe, and so remained until
recent years, when, because of the traps and pitfalls in
the sound and the filth and sewage of the villages on
the north, it has become more a source of death than
life to anything in its waters.

It is conceded that in point of business, the local-
ity known as " The Bridge Ground " far exceeded all
the others. It was called a poor .season that did not
yield there three thousand shad. Four thousand was
the average catch, occasionally running up to five
thousand and beyond. " Rights " in this company
sold for two hundred dollars each in the year 1800,
and for twenty-five years thereafter.

Two causes combined to make this ground the
rival of all others. Above was built a series of


"weirs" by various individuals, which checked the
run of the shad. Falling back, they congregated h\
deep waters where ledges of rock provided natural
basins. From these haunts they were driven at tlu-
proper time, and their "silver winrows" lined the
banks for rods in all directions. Mr. Daniel Pierpont.
in writing to members of his family in Oxford, N. Y..
in 1831, says: " They have caught this season at the
fishery by our house near 3,000 shad."

With a single " fish story," for the veracity of
which Mr. Erus Bishop kindly stands as sponsor, we
take leave of this subject. The year is forgotten, but
a heavy freshet occurred during the .shad season.
Seines, weirs, standing nets and men were powerle>s
for a day or two to stop the upward rush of the fish.
Word came down from the Quinnipiac mills that there
appeared an unusual commotion in the water below
the dam. Hastily gathering their equipments, a gan;.;
of North Haven fishermen set their boat up the
river, three miles or more, and surrounded the finny
swarm. The first day's catch amounted to 1,800, and
the second day's to 1,200. People came from all the
surrounding country to see the immense quantity
Such a thing never was known before. A " Shad bar-
becue " was held on the meadows near, to commem-
orate the wonderful occasion, and the event passed
into history as " The Great Shad Haul at Quinny


Allusion has been made to the clearing of the river,
by Mr. Hall and others, of Wallingford. Below Pine
bridge at that time this undertaking would not have
been so arduous, but above it the channel is narrow
and tortuous, and gridironed with sunken logs in all
directions; moreover the volume of water was small
and the current rapid. Save in the spring or winter
floods, no craft larger than an ordinary row-boat
could have navigated between Wallinsrford and Pine



Bridge, yet, tradition hath it, one stich craft of consid-
erable burden, in spite of all obstacles, was floated
safely down to its destination. The river bed cer-
tainly was never more than superficially cleared.

Below Pine bridge the conditions for navigation
were more favorable. There was an extra depth at
high water of from three to four feet, wider stream,
broader curves, smoother bottom, and everything
more inviting to Mr. Hall and his partners to make
this the headquarters of their expeditions.

There must have been something profitable in this
venture, for about 1760 North Haven people began to
stir themselves in this direction. A shipyard and
landing place was established about that time on the
west bank of the river, just below Joel E. Bassett's,
and here the sound of adze and broad-axe for many
years was constant. Joel Bradley, builder of the old
brick house in the Fifth district, set up a craft of six-
teen tons burden, built from the oaks on his planta-
tion, and drawing the same with oxen to Pine bridge,
launched it "away for the coasting trade to Boston."
Similar vessels were constructed in other parts of the
parish, and taken there and launched. Of them, the
brig " Hiram," was the largest and most noted. She
was built at this yard by one Collins, a boss ship car-
penter, about 1796. The owners were mainly the Brad-
leys in the aforementioned Fifth district. Captain
William Davidson, of Milford, commanded the craft,
and Frederic C. Bradley, of this village, sailed as
supercargo. The little craft cleared from New Haven
tor the West Indies, and was never heard of again.

In 1779, Joseph Pierpont, Thomas Walter and Eli
Sackett built a bateau there. Also in the same year
came a certain Captain Rogers, and one Captain
Ebenezer Barker (old sailors), who, hailing in from
their coasting trips, brought small cargoes of salt,
which they essayed to exchange for r}-e, through
Joseph Pierpont as a commission merchant, at the


rate of three and one-half bushels of the latter for ohl
of the former. But this cannot be pursued further.
Say what the reader may, and laugh as he perhaij^
will at these declarations of a once commercial activ-
ity here, the fact remains that, by frequent allusion^
in old account books, by bits of evidence on old meir^-
orandums, by strangely coincident tradition, there
was from 1770 to 1800 a period of prosperity in this
line and in the hard wood lumber trade, with the old
"Pine Bridge Shipyard " for its center, such as would
astonish the people of the town, could the volume of
it be reduced to statistics aud unrolled before them.


Undoubtedly the first "Trade mark" in the col-
ony was that designed by the settler for the identifi-
cation of his cattle. Whether the custom \vas brought
from England or from the exigencies of the case origi-
nated here, the writer does not pretend to say. Cer-
tain it was that means were needed to identify cattle
in a new country where the fences were so sparse as
to afford very insufficient barriers to the roaming of
cattle and their consequent herding together. It was
not because material was scanty, but because men's
possessions were so large and scattered that fences
for many years were mainly built to guard the crops
rather than pasturage. Besides this, there was the
"Commons" on which the herds might graze at will-
To identify them when thus mingled, or when astray
or perchance when stolen, the system of "ear-marks"
was adopted as affording relief.

The settler having fixed upon such device for his
neat cattle as he deemed suitable, taking care from an
examination of the records that it was the duplicate
of no other design, appeared with its description
before the proper town official who miniitely entered
the same in a volume kept for the purpose, whereat
said "mark" became as much the property of its


originator as was the animal who bore it. No man
might tamper with either.

It strikes one as rather incongruous to find that in
the case of the New Haven Colony the early record
of such marks was kept with that of the Births, Mar-
riages and Deaths of that day. Because they are
so quaint, and the fact of their existence probably
new to a portion of our readers, we transcribe some
of those given in connection with this locality. It
does not appear though, that every stock owner in
the parish had one.

Nathaniel Yale 1703.

His ear mark for his Cattell is a crop of y*^ near ear and a slit
on y' under side of y same eare.

Samuel Tharp 1706.

His ear mark for his Cattell y a crop of y right ear and a half
penny under y further year.

Samuel Todd 1706.

His ear mark for hys cattell y* a hole in y left eare and a crop
of y*' same eare.

John Moulthrop 1696.

Hys ear mark for hys cattell is a half crop of y* under side y
right ear.

Samuel Bassett 1696.

Heis ear mark for his cattell a crop of y near ear and a slit in
y crop of y same ear.

Moses Blakeslee 1721.

The ear mark for his cattle is two half pennys the under side
of the left ear.

Abraham Blackesle 1725.

The ear mark for his cattle is a slit on the upper side the near

Daniel Barnes 172S.

The ear marks for his cattle is a slanting cross y under side of
ear and a slit in y upper side of y near ear.


About the first industry, perhaps the very first,
that occupied the attention of the early settlers out-
side of their agriciiltural interests, was that of sup-
plying bog ore to the " Iron AVorkes " in East Haven.


The site of the " Works " is still pointed out t(^
the tourist. The reduction and smelting of iron ore
was carried on there with more or less vigor from
1655 to 1679 or 1680, or from twenty to twenty-five
years. Why the work ceased so abruptly has never
been satisfactorily explained. Mr. Dodd of East
Haven thus speaks of it in his " Register."

" Why this business was relinquished cannot now be satisfac-
torily ascertained. The furnace was supplied with bog-ore from
North Haven. It was chiefly carted, but sometimes brought from
Bogmine Wharf by water round to the Point below the furnace
and from that circumstance the Point to this day is called Bog-

The first intimation we get of this enterprise, out-
side of Mr. Dodd, comes from the Probate Records of
New Haven as follows:

27th December, 16S6.

" and also a road or highway from Stoney River

Farms to the Bogmine Plaine, where it is or lately was, when bog-
mine ore was carted to the Iron Workes, and from the said Bog-
mine Plaine, onward upon the plain near where it lieth to the end
of our Towne bounds toward Wallingford."

And again.

" and one highway from the Boggmine Wharffe up to

the country road."

No trigonometry of the present day can by any
means resurrect these old highway lines. What a
delight to the historian, could he but unearth in some
dark attic crude diagrams even of these old routes of
yore. Certainly the allusions quoted above refer to
main lines of travel between North Haven and the
iron works. Over those lines, wherever they may
have been, the ore was carted.

The latter reference fixes a branch road from the
"mines to the Whartfe." This wharf was at or near
Sackett's Point.

Passing now to Dec. 28, 1696, we find in the Proprie-
tors* Record that: " The Towne granted Nathaniel Yale
and others eighty acres of land for eighty years near
Bogmirc Swamp provided they improve the same."



And again, page 235, volume 3, this report is
found :

" Highway to Bogmine Swamp.

We whose names are underwritten being appointed by the ma-
ior part of the selectmen to take out a convenient four rod high-
way on the east side of the Bogmire Swamp by the Lott of Mr.
John Yale across the ends of Stephen Trowbridge, Abraham
Blaksly and Mr. Wetmore their lotts, have accordingly been upon
the spot this Sth day of October, 1722, and discovered said high-
way foure rodds wide by stakes and marked trees from the N. E.
corner of Mr. John Yales Lott incumpassing the Billberry Swamp
to the highway; the last stake foure rodds from Islv. Wetmores N.
W. comer.

Moses Mansfield.
Samuel Todd.

This layout rendered so plain on the day it was
surveyed, means little else than an inextricable snarl
at the present time. The only valuable thing about
it, is its confirmation of the proximity of this metal
industry to our doors.

The Bogmines covered considerable territory. For
the sake of clearness we will say — beginning in
the marshes east of the Episcopal church, thence
in a southerly di^:ection including all the lands
around " The Pool," thence swinging in a crescent
curving to the southwest, passing in the rear of F.
Hayden Todd's and crossing the street a few rods
south of his house, on in a southwesterly course fol-
lowing the flow of a stream called since earliest
remembrance "Bogmine Brook" — lies this famous
locality. If there is any one distinctive point in this
tract where it may be said a larger percentage of
the mineral lay, such place would be in the vicinity of
" The Pool " and the swamps north of it. At almost
any place within this area can still be found nodules
of ore from the size of a pea to masses weighing
three to four pounds or more.

In and about " The Pool " the waters have a dis-
tinctly metallic taste. Hundreds of gallons are car-


ried away yearly and drank for curative proper-
ties. Moreover, here also abound those large beds of
sesquioxide of iron, so valuable as a coloring- agent in
the manufacture of pressed brick.

What means were employed to gather this article-
in our early days, v/hat quantity was taken away, who
transported the same, what prices were obtained or
who was benefited thereby, must remain unanswera-
ble questions.


Another calling followed to some extent by our
ancestors was the manufacture of " Bayberry Tallow."
It does not appear that it was made in this parish ex-
cept for home consumption. At any rate the product
was deemed of sufficient importance to need protec-
tion from the government, for in 1721 we read :

"If any person or persons shall at anytime before the twen-
tieth day of August annually, gather any of the said berries (bay-
berries) growing in any place in this Colony, he or they so offend-
ing shall pay a fine of two shillings and sixpence for each peck of
berries so gathered as aforesaid, and pro rata for greater or lesser

It was found by experience that August 20 was too
early for the proper maturing of this crop, and the
following year an amendment to the act extended the
time to September lo, when they might begin to hus-
band the same. Certain godless ones were just as
eager to evade the laws a century and a half ago as
they are to-day, and that they infringed in so small
an affair as unlawfully gathering bayberries is made
apparent from the following, which was passed two
years later, or in 1724 :

"Whatsoever person or persons shall have any quantity of
said berries found in his or their possession at any time before the
loth day of September, shall suffer the penalty hereinbefore
recited, except such offenders shall prove that he or they gathered
said berries out of the Colony."


Bayberry bushes are well nigh extinct in the
town. Occasional patches are here and there seen.
A certain Elizabeth McCoy in the second district was
once a noted tallow maker. It is doubtful, except
in a single instance, if a vestige of this material
can be found in town to-day, though fifty years ago
such manufacture was common. The shrub itself
was indigenous to the soil, yet it preferred a warm
climate. It is low and spreading in its growth. The
berries are a stone fruit, adhering closely to the
wood, and when ripe, about the size of pepper corns
and covered with a greenish white resinous substance
like wax which was collected by boiling and frequent
skimmings. ' A bushel of berries would yield three or
four pounds of tallow. Afterward this product was
melted and refined and made into candles. These
burned slowly with but little smoke and emitted an
agreeable balsamic odor. Their illuminating powers
were weak and the tallow as a lubricant was a fail-
ure. The poorer classes chiefly engaged in this work,
for it needed no capital but a basket and a kettle
It was especially used to harden bees-wax.

At an Ecclesiastical society meeting in 17 18 the
following vote was passed:

"Agreed on by y society that they will move forward in order
of having a military company started among them.

Agreed that Daniel Barnes and Samuel Ives be a committee to
take care of said affair."

This was the beginning of the militia movement.
The company was formed with Joseph Ives, captain,
John Granniss, lieutenant, and Samuel Ives, ensign.
Careful as was the wState to organize and provide for
its defence, yet strange to say, there are no muster
rolls of its forces preserved, down to the time of the



French and Indian war, except an occasional local
list in private hands.

In the subjoined list appear the names of those
citizens of the town who at one time and another
held posts of command in the militia forces. It will
be interesting to study it as indicative to a certain
extent of the best men of the times. However much
military titles were desired in the eighteenth century,
there is no evidence that they were unduly acquired
by their wearers. Merit, not money, won in those
days. It is not claimed this roster is complete, nor
that the commissions in all cases were issued in the
exact years mentioned. The certain thing about it is
that these men once existed and at the dates given
enjoyed the titles affixed to their names. The list
extends but a little way into the current century.

Andrews, Timothy, capt., 17S6.
Andrews, Jesse, lieut., 1S03.
Atwater, David, lieut , 17S4.
Blakeslee, Isaac, ensign, 17S3;

lieut., 1760.
Blakeslee, Jesse, lieut., 1760.
Blakeslee, Seth, ensign, 1779;

lieut. 17S2.
Blakeslee, Moses, ensign, 1727.
Blakeslee, Abraham, capt., 1770.
Blakeslee, Philemon, lieut., 1801;

capt., 1S03.
Barns, Gershom, ensign, 1751;

capt., 1753.
Barns, Joshua, sr., ensign, 1770;

capt.. 17SX.
Bams, Joshua, jr., capt., 17S7.
Barns, Jonathan, lieut., iSoi.
Bams, Jared, lieut., 1S03 — in

Revolutionary war (see future

Barns, Samuel, capt., 1742, (at

siege of Quebec).
Bassett, Abraham, ensign, 1742;

served in Revolutionary"

army ee future account).

Bassett, Daniel, ensign, 1773.
Bassett, Hezekial, capt., 1793.
Bassett, Isaac, ensign, 179S.
Bassett, Jacob, ensign, 1S02;

capt., 1S05.
Bishop, David, lieut., 17S1.
Bishop, Abraham, lieut., i7Sg.
Bishop, Benajah, ensign, iSio.
Brockett, Joseph, capt., 1790.

Brockett, , ensign, 1765.

Brockett, Jacob, lieut., 1770;

capt., 1778.
Brockett, Thomas, ensign, 1S05;

lieut., iSio.
Brockett, Jesse, lieut., 1S12;

capt., 1S15.
Brockett, Pierpont, ensign,

1S12; lieut., 1815.
Bradley, Jason, lieut., 174S,

capt., 1749.
Bradley, Joel, lieut., 1777.
Beach, John, capt., iSii.
Cooper, Jude, ensign, 1754.
Cooper, Joel, lieut., 1762.
Cooper, Thomas, ensign, 17S;.
Cooper, Joseph, ensign, 1733.



Cooper, James, ensign, iSoo.
Clenton, Lawrence, capt., 17S1.
Doolittle, Solomon, ensign,

Dayton, Jonathan, capt.. 1779;

served in Revolutionary army

(See future account).
Eastman, Peter, capt., 1799.
Eaton Calvin, ensign, 1763.
Frost, John, ist lieut., 1793;

capt, 1795-
Frost, John, 2d, capt.. 1S29.
Granniss, John, lieut., 171S;

capt., 1733; an officer in the

first military company in the

Goodyear, Thomas, lieut., 1742.
Goodyear, Theophilus, capt.,

Heaton, James, ensign, 1749;

capt., 1760.
Humaston, Ephraim, ensign,

1770; lieut., 1775.
Humaston, Thomas, ensign,

Humaston, Samuel, lieut. , 1790.
Hill, Jared, lieut., 17S1.
Hitchcock, Jacob, lieut , 1781.
Ives, Joseph, capt., 1718, an

officer in the first military

company in the parish.
Ives, Samuel, ensign, 171S, an

officer in the first military

company in the parish.
Ives, Jonathan, lieut., 1754;

capt., 1760.
Ives, Daniel, first capt., 1739.
Ives, Noah, lieut., 1773; capt.,

Ives, Daniel, second ensign,

Ives, Thomas, capt., 1793.
Ives, James, capt., 1791.
Ives, Leonard, capt., 1S15.

Monson, Stephen, capt., 1792.
Munson. Israel, (?) ensign, 1733.
Marks, Nathan, ensign, 3S03;

capt., 1 80S.
Pierpont, Joseph, ist, ensign,

1742; lieut., 1744.
Pierpont, Joseph, 2d, lieut.,

1760; capt., 1764.
Pierpont, James, ensign, 1793;

lieut., 1795.
Pierpont, Giles, ensign, 1808.
Pierpont, Andrew, ensign, 1S15.
Perkins, Daniel, lieut., 1737.
Ra}', Thomas, lieut., 1754.
Ray, Levi, capt., 17S7.
Sanford, John, capt., 1736.
Sackett, Samuel, lieut., 1736;

capt., 1644.
Stiles, Isaac C, ensign, 1794;

capt., 1S05.
Tuttle, Isaiah, ensign, 1737.
Tuttle, Andrew, capt., 1737.
Tuttle, Ezra, ensign, 1761; capt.

Tuttle, Ithimar, ensign, 17S0;

capt., 1S06.
Tuttle, Lyman, ensign, 1S08;

lieut., iSio.
Tuttle, Manning, ensign, 1S16;

lieut., 1S19.
Tuttle, Benajah, capt., iSoi.
Todd, Ebenezer, lieut., 1760.
Todd, George, capt, 17S7.
Todd, Lyman, ensign, 1793.
Todd, Oliver, ensign, 1796.
Todd, James, ensign, 1744;

lieut, 1794.
Todd, Ira, lieut., 1794.
Todd, Gideon, capt., 17S7.
Thorp, Seba, ensign, 17S6, capt

1 8 10.
Thorp, Jacob, sergt, 1789. In

Revolutionary- army. Killed

at East Haven.


Many of the commissions of these men are care-
fully preserved, not only as evidences of the confi-
dence and skill reposed in the grantees, but as bearing
the autographs of the governors of the old regime.
The most ancient commission that has thus far come
to the writer's attention was issued by Governor
Roger Wolcott to Isaac Blakeslee in 1753. Those
bearing the signature of Jonathan Trumbull are quite

A quaint specimen of orthography in this connec-
tion was recently found among the Evelyn Blakeslee

" To Philemon Blakeslee, Captain of the fifth Company in the

Second Regiment and 2d Brigade Militia:

Whereas you are dismissed from Military duty when one more
Captain Shall Be chosen and Commissioned in your Room, and to
cause Legal warning to be given said Company.

You are hereby Directed to meet at thine Usual Place Paraid
for the purpose of chusing Military Officers, and when as meet
you are to lead them to the choice of A Captain, and such other
Officers as may be Necessary to fill any Vacancies that may hap-
pen in consequence of said Dismission. And due returns make to
the General Assembly to be convened att Hartford This present

Given under my Hand this 2d Day of May, 1S04.

Andrew Hall, Jr.
Brigadier General 2d Brigade Milit'a.
A troo coppy.





Whereas his Excellency the Commander-in-Chief has consid-
t-red it expedient to grant the petition of Willis Churchill and
others of North Haven and its vicinity requesting to be organized
into a Company of Light Infantry, therefore we, the subscribers,
whose names are hereunto affixed, do hereby enlist into the newly
established Light Infantry, to be armed and equipped as the law
requires, to be dressed in such uniform as we may choose, pro-
vided the same meets the approbation of the Commander in-
Chief, to be annexed to the loth Infantry, and as such to be sub-
ject to all the laws, rules and regulations for the government of
the militia, which are or which may be established. Said Com-

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 9 of 32)