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- Once Upon A Time In Connecticut - 1/19 -


ONCE UPON A TIME IN CONNECTICUT

BY CAROLINE CLIFFORD NEWTON

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE SCHOOL CHILDREN OF THE STATE BY THE CONNECTICUT SOCIETY OF THE COLONIAL DAMES OF AMERICA

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The Colonial Dames of Connecticut, under whose auspices this book is published, desire to express their indebtedness to Professor Charles M. Andrews, of Yale University, who generously offered to supervise the work on its historical side. They also gratefully acknowledge help from many friends in the preparation of the volume. Thanks are due to Mrs. Charles G. Morris for criticism of the manuscript and to Mr. George Dudley Seymour for advice in the selection of the illustrations. Courtesies have been extended by the officials of the New Haven Free Public Library, of the Connecticut Historical Society, and of the Library of Yale University.

INTRODUCTION

It is a pleasure to write a few words of introduction to this collection of stories dealing with the early history of Connecticut, a state that can justly point with pride to a past rich in features of life and government that have been influential in the making of the nation. Yet the history of the colony was not dramatic, for its people lived quiet lives, little disturbed by quarrels among themselves or by serious difficulties with the world outside. The land was never thickly settled; few foreigners came into the colony; the towns were scattered rural communities largely independent of each other; the inhabitants, belonging to much the same class, were neither very rich nor very poor, their activities were mainly agricultural, and their habits of thought and ways of living were everywhere uniform throughout the colonial period. The colony was in a measure isolated, not only from England and English control, but also from the large colonial centers such as Boston and New York, through which it communicated with the older civilization. Connections with other colonies were neither frequent nor important. Roads were poor, ferries dangerous, bridges few, and transportation even from town to town was difficult and slow.

The importance of Connecticut lay in the men that it nurtured and the forms of government that it established and preserved. Few institutions from the Old World had root in its soil. In their town meetings the people looked after local affairs; and matters of larger import they managed by means of the general assembly to which the towns sent representatives. They made, their own laws, which they administered in their own courts. Their rules of justice, though sometimes peculiar, were the same for all. They did what they could to educate their children, to uphold good morals, to help the poor, and to increase the prosperity of the colony. Though they could not entirely prevent England from interfering in their affairs, they succeeded in reducing her interference to a minimum and were well content to be let alone. Yet when called upon to furnish men in time of war, they did so generously and, in the main, promptly. They became a vigorous, strong, determined community, and though unprogressive in agriculture, they were enterprising in trade and commerce, and in the opening up of new opportunities prepared the way for the later career of a progressive, highly organized manufacturing state. To the larger colonial world they furnished men and ideas that, during the period of revolution and constitution-making, played prominent parts in shaping the future of the United States of America.

If this little volume gives to the children of Connecticut a truer appreciation of the early history of the state in which they live, its purpose will have been achieved. A knowledge of Connecticut's history, its men and the work they have accomplished, should arouse the devotion and loyalty of every Connecticut boy and girl to the state and its welfare; and that it shall do so is the hope of those by whom this work has been projected and under whose auspices it has been published.

CHARLES M. ANDREWS.

CONTENTS

I. THE HOUSE OF HOPE AND THE CHARTER OAK II. TWO INDIAN WARRIORS III. A HARBOR FOR SHIPS IV. THREE JUDGES V. THE FORT ON THE RIVER VI. THE FROGS OF WINDHAM VII. OLD WOLF PUTNAM VIII. THE BULLET-MAKERS OF LITCHFIELD IX. NEWGATE PRISON X. THE DARK DAY XI. A FRENCH CAMP IN CONNECTICUT XII. NATHAN HALE

ILLUSTRATIONS

I. WADSWORTH HIDING THE CHARTER II. MIANTONOMO'S MONUMENT III. MEDAL COMMEMORATING THE FOUNDING OF NEW HAVEN IV. THE JUDGES' CAVE ON WEST ROCK V. THE SITE OF SAYBROOK FORT VI. THE WYOMING MASSACRE VII. GENERAL PUTNAM VIII. KING GEORGE THE THIRD IX. THE RUINS OF NEWGATE PRISON X. AN OLD CONNECTICUT INN, 1790 XI. THE MARQUIS OF LAFAYETTE XII. NATHAN HALE

ONCE UPON A TIME IN CONNECTICUT

THE HOUSE OF HOPE AND THE CHARTER OAK

A great oak tree fell in the city of Hartford on August 21, 1856. The night had been wild and stormy; in the early morning a violent wind twisted and broke the hollow trunk about six feet above the ground, and the old oak that had stood for centuries was overthrown.

All day long people came to look at it as it lay on the ground. Its wood was carefully preserved and souvenirs were made from it: chairs, tables, boxes, picture-frames, wooden nutmegs, etc. One section of the trunk is to-day in the possession of the Connecticut Historical Society. Tradition says that this tree was standing, tall and vigorous, when the first English settlers reached Hartford and began to clear the land; that the Indians came to them then, as they were felling trees, and begged them to spare that one because it told them when to plant their corn. "When its leaves are the size of a mouse's ears," they said, "then is the time to put the seed in the ground."

At sunset, on the day when it fell, the bells of Hartford tolled and flags draped in mourning were displayed on the gnarled and broken trunk, for this tree was the Charter Oak, and its story is bound up with the story of the Connecticut Colony.

About the year 1613, five little ships set sail from Holland on voyages for discovery and trade in the New World. They were the Little Fox, the Nightingale, the Tiger, and two called the Fortune. The Tiger was under the command of a bold sailor named Adriaen Block and he brought her across the ocean to New Netherland, which is now New York. There was then a small Dutch village of a few houses on Manhattan Island.

While she was anchored off the island, the Tiger took fire and burned. But Block was not discouraged. He set to work at once and built another boat--one of the first built in America. She was 40 feet, 6 inches long by 11 feet, 6 inches wide, and he called her the Restless. In the summer of 1614 he sailed her up the East River and out into Long Island Sound where no white man had ever been before. He named both the Bast River and the Sound "Hellegat," after a river in Holland, and a narrow passage in the East River is still known as "Hell-Gate."

Block sailed along the low wooded shores of Connecticut, past the mouth of the Housatonic, which he named the "River of the Red Mountain," and reported it to be "about a bowshot wide," and by and by he came to a much larger stream emptying into the Sound. This was the Connecticut, and Block turned and sailed up the river as far as the point where Hartford now stands. He noticed that the tide did not flow far into this river and that the water near its mouth was fresh, so he called it the "Fresh River."

When the Dutch in Manhattan heard of this new country which he had discovered, they began a fur trade with the Indians who lived there. In June, 1633, they bought from the Indians a strip of land on the river, one Dutch mile in length by one third of a mile in width, and they paid for it with "one piece of duffel [that is, heavy cloth] twenty-seven ells long, six axes, six kettles, eighteen knives, one sword-blade, one pair of shears, some toys and a musket." On this land, which is now in the city of Hartford, the first block-house in Connecticut was built and was called the "House of Hope." Although two small cannon were mounted upon it the Dutch said the place should be a peaceful trading-post only and free to all Indians who came in peace.

Very soon after this little Dutch fort of the House of Hope was finished, Lieutenant William Holmes, from the Plymouth Colony, sailed up the river, and he and his men carried with them on their boat a frame house all ready to put together. The Dutch challenged the Plymouth boat as it passed their fort, but Holmes paid no attention. He had been told by the Governor of Plymouth to go up the river and he went, and at the mouth of the


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