William DeLoss Love.

The colonial history of Hartford [electronic resource] : gathered from the original records online

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The town of Hartford has passed the two hundred and
seventy-fifth anniversary of its settlement, and, in a few
years, it will have completed three centuries of history.
The early town that the founders knew has long since
disappeared. Features that were familiar for generations
have been swept away by the ravages of time. Only a
few landmarks now remain. Within the area of what was
formerly a country town, a large city has grown into vigor-
ous life. To the sons and daughters of Hartford, the story
of this development during colonial times, is of interest.
It may also serve a patriotic purpose, by helping her citi-
zens to maintain a fellowship with the forefathers, and by
awakening in her children of foreign descent a loyal regard
for her traditions. In the hope of rendering such a service
to the city, for which the author confesses a strong personal
afiPection, this volume has been written, in the course of a
study of the records, extending over many years.

Students of Connecticut records have occasionally ac-
knowledged their doubt whether certain fundamental facts,
which concern both our local history and the founding of
the Colony, have been correctly conceived. Views have
become current, and have been passed on from one authority
to another, which appeal for their warrant largely to records
that have been lost, and are not in harmony with those that
are extant. Such is the opinion that three organized towns
created the Commonwealth. The records prior to 1639
that have disappeared, were those of three plantations,
which were constituted as such and bore the names of the
three Massachusetts towns from which their inhabitants
emigrated. We have, fortunately, the early records of
Springfield, at first united with them, to disclose the nature of
their government. Hartford, alone, has documentary evi-
dence of any town organization before the Commonwealth
was formally established. Its own records show that the


legality of their premature organization and its acts was
derived from the authority of the General Court of the
colony. There has always been, moreover, an inconsistency
between the theory of a commonwealth, created by three
towns, and the claim of Connecticut, to have inaugurated
modern democracy in her government. Neither the terms
used in the Colonial Records, nor the language of the Con-
stitution, declaring that it was the fundamental law of the
"Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Harteford and
Wethersfield," support the belief that they participated in
this act as organized towns. It was the constitution of the
people. Thus the zeal of historians, in advocating a tradi-
tional theory, has blinded them to the discovery of the initial
establishment of democracy and the practice of its principles
from the beginning of the Colony, as taught by the founders
and, in due time, declared in a written constitution. It is
not a sacrilege to dig about the roots of the vines to dis-
cover the truth. One method only is open to the historian
under these circumstances — that of thorough research in
the original records, which the truth must perfectly harmo-
nize. Conclusions have thus been reached that were not an-
ticipated and are at variance with the traditional belief;
but the evidence seems to the author to warrant no other.
As briefly stated, these conclusions are as follows: that, in
the settlement of the River Plantations under the Warwick
Patent, a compromise was effected, by which the govern-
ment was made over to the colonists; that this was expressed
in the Commission for a provisional government, which
left them full liberty at its expiration; that the founders of
Hartford considered that they had thus secured a right to
the lands which the Dutch claimed; that the three original
settlements were established as plantations, like Springfield,
and so continued in their relation to the General Court
until after the adoption of the Constitution, January 14,
1638-9, the legal inhabitants being represented by commit-
tees; that even the prior choice of townsmen by the North-
side and South-side plantations of Hartford, for the sake
of unity in their own affairs, did not give it participation,
as a town, in the adoption of the Constitution, nor consti-
tute legal standing as a factor in the government; and that


these plantations were authorized, by the General Court of
the colony, October 10, 1639, to organize their town gov-
ernments, which they effected before the next Court of
Election, April 9, 1640, when their representatives were
recognized as such and are called "Deputies" in the records.

The nature of these studies of original authorities has
made it impossible to write a popular history. Such a
volume, if it embodied current opinions concerning many
early events, such as the pilgrimage of Thomas Hooker,
would be of little permanent value; and if our deductions
from the records had been so used, without detailed evi-
dence, the volume would be discredited. The author has
been content to adjust some of the foundation stones of our
colonial history, and to build thereon with the materials
which the records themselves provide. The town of Hart-
ford has occupied such a place in the Commonwealth that
this has been considered the greater service. Nor has it
seemed necessary to continue this study into the last cen-
tury. In 1883 and 1884 a series of articles on the "First
Hundred Years of the City of Hartford," by Mr. John W.
Stedman, was published in the Hartford Sunday Journal.
About the same time the reminiscences of some aged citi-
zens on "Old Days in Hartford" were preserved in the
columns of The Connecticut Post. Many historical papers
have also appeared in The Hartford Courant and The Hart-
ford Times. These, with The Memorial History of Hartford
County and certain monographs, magazine articles and
church histories, have amply covered the field, and are cited
in references.

It has been necessary to use antiquarian methods in
solving some problems presented. In the absence of recorded
stiatements, some conclusions do not admit of documentary
proof. The householder, having lost his door key, believes
that the one he finds on the steps, which fits the lock, is his
own; but he has no absolute proof. Such beliefs rest upon
the strength of probability. Thus many historical state-
ments, now generally received as true, were at first estab-
lished. The author has endeavored to make clear this
distinction, and to qualify any matters of personal opinion
or interpretation.


We make grateful mention of Mr. William S. Porter,
whose laborious researches in the Hartford Land Records,
in 1839, have in some respects lightened our labors; and
of the local historians of the river towns. As the inception
of this study was due to the printing of the first volume of
Hartford Town Votes, in 1897, we express our indebtedness
to Mr. James J. Goodwin, who, through the Connecticut
Historical Society, made that publication possible. These
records, with the book of Original Distribution, recently
printed through the same agency, constitute the classics
of Hartford's early history. It is hoped that the author's
work will bring out into the light some facts hitherto con-
cealed in their pages. The latter publication is cited in
references, although most of the research was done in the
manuscript volume some years since.

To the several officials of the city and state, acknowledg-
ment is made for every courtesy in the examination of pub-
lie records; to Mr. George S. Goddard, librarian of the
State Library for access to many manuscripts in the ar-
chives; to Mr. Albert C. Bates, librarian of the Connecticut
Historical Society, for material that has been helpful;
and especially to Mr. Albert L. Washburn, surveyor, and
an expert in our land records, for his generous cooperation

and assistance.


Hartford, Conn., February 23, 1914




The Pioneers of Hartford in 1635


Removal from Newtown. — Some Hartford Settlers arrive from England. —
Six Agents sent to Connecticut. — Their Report of Suckiaug. — Scarcity
of Land in Newtown. — Who were the Pioneers.'' — Thomas Shepard's
Arrival. — The Meeting at Stone's House. — Recording and Selling
Homes. — Elder William Goodwin's Party. — Their Departure Oc-
tober 15th. — Windsor's Disaster. — Arrival at Suckiaug. — Settle-
ment on the North-side. — Clement Chaplin. — Some Return for
the Winter. — North-side Plantation established. — Winter Hardships . 1


Settlement Under the Warwick Patent

The "Warwick Patent." — Dissensions at Windsor. — Many Return to
Dorchester. — Representatives of the Patentees. — They Challenge the
Emigrants. — Under Whose Jurisdiction? — Conferences of the Winter.
— Patentees need Colonists. — Emigrants want Land. — The Com-
promise embodied in a Commission for Government. — The Patent
and Dutch Claims. — Purchase from the Indians necessary. — The
Dutchmen's Boundaries. — A Springtime Party. — Was Samuel Stone
its Leader? — Patent Rights asserted. — The Dutch Protest referred
to Winthrop. — South-side Plantation begun. — Obligations to John
Winthrop, Jr 17


The Pilgrimage of Thomas Hooker

Distinctive Features of Hartford's Settlement. — Hooker's Relation to
Earlier Parties. — Delay of Departure. — Members of Hooker's Com-
pany. — Winthrop's Account. — Mather's Narrative. — He is Fol-
lowed by Hutchinson. — Error in Details. — The Compass Legend. —
Early New England Travel. — The Path in 1636. — Evidence of the
Route. — Pilgrims in the Wilderness. — The Encampment. — Recent
Discoveries of the Path. — The Sabbath Rest. — Way to Quabaug. —
Arrival at Agawam. — Records of the "Country Road" to Hartford.
— Where it crossed Namerick Brook. — Arrival at Newtown 30



Organization of the Town


The Town in Connecticut. — Organization hindered by Conditions. — The
River Settlements were Plantations. — Governed by Legal Inhabitants.

— Agawam an Illustration. — Hartford's Plantations have Separate
Organizations. — Advantages of Dual Settlement. — William Spencer's
Service. — Critical Study of Town Votes. — First Election of Towns-
men in 1637. — Union its Purpose. — Unauthorized Choice of Town
Clerk. — Townsmen and a Town Court. — Windsor's Plantation. —
Organization after General Court's Action. — Proof in Town Records.

— Wethersfield's Enigma. — Tripartite Agreement. — Dissensions re-
sult from Town Organization 47


Connecticut's Early Government

Antecedents of Democracy. — Provisional Government. — Created by the
Emigrants. — Early Courts. — The Inhabitants elect Magistrates. —
Popular Election Impracticable. — Representation by Committees. —
Their Legislative Year. — General Courts. — Agawam withdraws. —
Preparing the Constitution. — The Sermon of Thomas Hooker. —
How the Fundamental Orders were adopted. — The Will of the People.

— No Town represented. — A Dramatic Scene. — Operation of
Colonial Government delayed. — New Factors created. — Final Ac-
tion October 10, 1639. — Authority given for Town Organization. —
Deputies of Towns displace Committees of Inhabitants 64


Indian Forts in Hartford

The River Indians. — Sequassen's Village at Suckiaug. — Allies in the
Pequot War. — Removal to the South Meadow. — Indian Neighbors
of the Dutch. — Land of Manorolos and Sequassen. — Fight with
Uncas. — Sequassen's Land divided. — An Indian Fort. — Heirs of
Manorolos. — Pequot Heads. — Pesiponck, a Native Bath House. —
Fort Hill at Hockanum. — Stronghold at Podimk. — Incidents in its
History. — Scene of Miantinomo's Death. — Burning of Major Rich-
ard's Buildings. — A Son of Miantmomo. — Ten Hostages given. —
Massecup in Prison. — Removal to Farmington 81


The Dutch and their House of Hope

English Colonist and Dutch Trader. — West India Company. — Trade of
the Pilgrims. — English Claims. — Early Ventures on Connecticut
River. — House of Hope. — Holmes's Expedition. — Dutch Opposition.

— Purchase from the Pequots. — English Settlement. — The Dutch pro-



test. — DeVries intercedes. — Dispute over Rights. — The English
fence their Lots. — An Encounter. — Impounding Dutch Cattle. —
Winthrop's Statement. — Arbitration sought in Holland. — Boswell's
Advice. — William Kieft. — Agreement of 1650. — Seizure by Captain
Underbill. — Tracts of Dutch Land. — Location of the House of Hope.
— The "Redout." — Its Ruins. — Site partly owned by the City 98


Proprietors of Hartford

Extensive Lands wanted. — Indian Conveyances. — The Territory included.

— Five-mile Purchase. — Proprietorship. — "Original Proprietors in
1639." — Grants by the Town's Courtesy. — Their Proportions vary. —
Rates assessed on Lands. — All Grants are Conditional. — Speculation
is excluded. — Settlers are rewarded. — General Court's Action con-
cerning Undivided Lands. — Who were the Owners.'' — Committee to
determine. — The Rule of Division. — List of Proprietors. — Additions
to Town's Courtesy Class. — Inequalities adjusted. — East-side Division.

— Rule used in 167'1. — Inhabitants divide Five-mile Tract. — The Con-
test of 1754. — Ancient Proprietors win 116


Plantation Divisions

Lost Plantation Books. — Principles of Allotment. — "Original Distribu-
tion." — Early Settlers anthorized to Sell. — Practice in recording
Lots. — Dividing Line. — House-lots. — Little Meadow. — North
Meadow. — South Meadow. — Cow Pasture. — Neck. — Little Ox Pas-
ture. — South-side Ox Pasture. — Upland Divisions. — East-side Mead-
ow. — Westfield. — Venturers' Field. — Pinefield. — Middle Ox Pas-
ture. — Old Ox Pasture. — Highways Westward. — West Division. —
Bridgefield. — Town Common. — Soldiers' Field. — Original Grantees.

— Additional Soldiers. — The Missing Men. — House-lots the Greatest
Reward. — North-side Soldiers' Row. — Similar Row on the South-side.

— Conclusions 131


Growth of the Town

View of the Settlement in 1640. — Increase of Population. — A Rural Com-
mimity. — Changing Appearance. — Their Building Operations. — Pre-
paring Timbers. — Stone Quarries. — Bricks. — Agricultural Labors. —
Fencing. — Activities determine Development. — Highways. — Work on
them Compulsory. — Causeways. — Encroachments. — Pounds needed.
— Centiuel Hill. — Filling for Main Street. — Hill graded. — An Open
Area. — Bartholomew Barnard's Homestead. — Fortified Houses. —
Talcott's Warehouse. — Removal of Pound. — Barnard's Ponds. —
Process of Transformation 151



Along the Great River


The Naming of Hartford. — First City Seal. — Indebtedness to the Con-
necticut River. — Early Channel. — Bird's Island. — Land east of the
Creek. — The Scott-Cadwell Lot. — Thomas Cadwell's Warehouse. —
Jonathan Gilbert's Enterprise. — Environs of the Landing in 1678. —
Other Warehouses. — Improvements on the East-side. — Establish-
ment of the Ferry. — Early Ferrymen of Hartford. — Licensed to keep
Taverns. — Use of Revenues. — Wharves. — Front Street in 1775. —
"Haynes's Pasture." — Early Houses and Shops east of Front Street. —
"Cheapside." — Old Ferry Street. — "Jones's Landing." — The North
Shipyard. — Traffic from the East-side 166


The Banks of the Riveret

The Riveret of the Forefathers. — Its Various Names. — Allyn's First Mill. —
His Second Mill. — The Town's Competition. — Allyn and Bidwell. —
History of the Upper Mills. — Badger's Road. — Early Bridges. —
Hopkins's Mill at the Falls. — The Town Mill. — Later Owners. —
Destruction of the First Bridge. — Differences as to Location. — Bridge
burned in 1672. — Change of Place. — "Town Bridge" and "Great
Bridge." — Some Landmarks on its Banks. — Tanneries. — Islands of
Early Times. — The Armory Tract. — Flaxseed Oil Mill 181


Ancient Meeting Houses

The First Meeting House. — Some Notable Assemblies. — Meeting House
of 1638. — Location and Size. — The Porch Chamber. — Later Improve-
ments. — The Broken Bell. — Sequel to the Church Controversy. —
The South-side Congregation. — Location of their Meeting House. —
Evidence of its Size. — Lawsuit over the Site. — Whiting's Loyal Sup-
porters. — Proposed Union of the Churches. — Third Meeting House
of the First Church. — Fixing a New Site for the Second Church. —
Two Steeples. — Edifices on the East-side. — West Hartford Edifices.
— Colonial Beginnings of other Denominations 197


Some Public Buildings

Early Court Sessions. — The Custom in England. — Thomas Ford's Inn. —
Jeremy Adams his Successor. — His Agreement with the Colony. — The
Court Chamber. — Zachary Sandford the Host. — Andros and the
Charter. — The Charter Oak. — General Assembly convenes in the
Meeting House. — Governor Saltonstall proposes Court Houses. — Old
Court House. — Erection of the State House. — Bulfinch the Architect.




— Original Appearance. — Reception to La Fayette. — Old City Hall.

— Early Town OflScers. — Beginnings of Post Service. — Newspapers

and Post Riders. — Postmasters of Hartford 215


Social Resorts and Life

Acquaintance with Colonial Society. — Inns as Social Resorts. — The
Typical Landlord. — Scenes in Adams's Inn. — Transmission of News.

— "Black Horse Tavern." — Some Other Resorts. — Taverns near the
Ferry. — South-side Hosts. — Drinking Customs. — Visiting. — The
Social Side of Military Trainings. — Election Day. — Transformation
of the Puritan. — Succeeding Generations. — Changing Fashions of
Dress. — An Indication of Social Life. — Jewelry. — Inventories of
Apparel. — An Early Trader. — One of the Proprietors. — The Colonial
Gentleman. — A Wealthy Dame. — The Lady of Fashion 232


Earlt Schools of the Town

Laying the Corner-stone. — John Higginson. — Other Schoolmasters. —
"The Town House." — "Goody Betts." — Desired Improvements. —
The Unnamed Friend. — Laws of 1650. — Elder Goodwin represents
Governor Hopkins. — The Greenhill Lot. — Suspension of Grammar
School. — The Hopkins Bequest. — Opposition to the Trustees. —
Hartford's Proportion. — Hopkins Grammar School. — Caleb Watson.

— Elementary Schools. — Erecting a School-house. — Homestead of
Thomas Seymour, Esq. — Parish Schools. — Formation of Districts. —
Later History of the Grammar School 251


Phases of Criminal History

Criminal Courts of Colonial Times. — The Particular Court and its Judges. —
Laws. — Penalties. — Contempt of Court. — Various Offenses. — Ref-
ormation and Probation. — Defamation of Character. — Social Im-
morality. — Servants a Menace. — Marriage and Social Virtue. —
Divorces. — Civil Cases. — Treatment of Witchcraft. — Hartford's Exe-
cutions. — Punishments near the Meeting House. — Early House of
Correction. — Building of 1698. — Establishment of the Colony Work-
house. — Transfer to the County. — Hartford Gaol. — Old Jail of 1793.

— Rehef of the Poor. — Workhouse and Almshouse 276


Trade and Shops

Dependence on Trade. — Markets and Fairs. — TraflSc with the Indians. —
Export Trade. — Vessels owned in Hartford. — Hopkins and Whiting.

— Richard Lord. — John McKnight. — Methods of Exchange. —



Trade at the Ferry. — Early Shops. — Artisans. — Evolution of the
Store. — The Appearance of Main Street. — South-side Residents and.
their Shops. — North of Shepard's Corner. — "Unicom and Mortar."

— Development of the Stanley Lot. — Green and Watson. — Hudson
and Doolittle. — The Burying Ground. — Mookler's Barber Shop. —
"Heart and CrowTi." — West of the Court House. — State Street Mer-
chants. — Along Queen Street 295


Houses of Colonial Times

The English Colonists' Ideal of Home. — Early Development. — The Bliss
Homestead. — Houses of the First Settlers. — Arrangement of Rooms.

— Size of Houses. — Materials and Construction. — Changes of Type.

— Various Uses of Rooms. — Interior Furnishings. — The Whiting-
Bull-Burr Homestead. — Home Lot of Governor Hopkins. — James
Richards's Manor House. — Later Occupants. — Captain Thomas Sey-
mour. — Home of Isaac Sheldon. — History of a Homestead in the
Meeting House Yard. — Captain Jonah Gross. — His Brick House. —
The Morrison Mansion. — Home of Thomas Green 319


Incorporation of the City

Connecticut's Incorporation Movement in 1784. — Its Beginning in New
Haven. — Hartford during the Revolutionary War. — The State im-
poverished. — Agitation of the Impost. — "Policy of Connecticut." —
Governor Trumbull favors Incorporation. — Municipal Government
necessary to Progress. — Opposition of the Farmers. — Hartford's
Favorable Action. — The Remonstrance. — Second Memorial. —
Charter of Hartford. — Limits of the City. — Court of Common
Council. — City Court. — The First Election. — Progressives in Power.
— Colonel Wadsworth. — Services to the City. — Improvements disclose
Former Conditions. — City Streets. — Solomon Porter's Survey. —
City By-Laws. — Up-River Trade. — Commercial Interests. — The
State House, a Memorial of the City's Incorporation 343

Index 359


Thomas Hooker Frontiapiece

From a picture of the statue on the State Capitol, in " The Sculpture of
Charles Henry Niehaus."

The North-side Plantation, 1635 10

Sketch showing the house-lots of the pioneers at Suckiaug.

Governor John Winthrop of Connecticut 18

From a copy in the State Library, painted by George F. Wright, after the
original portrait in the possession of Mrs. Robert Winthrop of New

The Pilgri\l

Online LibraryWilliam DeLoss LoveThe colonial history of Hartford [electronic resource] : gathered from the original records → online text (page 1 of 36)