A Modern History of New London County, Connecticut


The early history of New London County has been well covered by Miss Caulkins' histories of Norwich, and of New London, in various local addresses on special occasions, and in more formal articles prepared for the 200th anniversary of the founding of Norwich. Notable amongst these was the historical address of Daniel Coit Gilman, delivered at Norwich on September 7, 1859. To enumerate the special papers delivered at the meetings of the New London County Historical Society, at the dedication of monuments and public buildings of the county, on patriotic occasions, on the 250th anniversary of the town of Norwich (1909), and in almost countless addresses on special topics given before interested audiences in churches and halls, not to mention the many excellent contributions of the press, would in itself be an arduous task, interesting though it might be.

Very few parts of our country are more filled with historical associations. Indian legends, mingled with a vast amount of verifiable Indian history; Revolutionary stories, with a record of honorable action surpassed nowhere; loyal patriotism in the days of the Civil War, under the leadership of Governor Buckingham, himself a resident of Norwich, all these offer a wealth of material to the investigator. Out of the great mass of historical writings inspired by such a splendid past there looms up a background, a heritage of memories, that should urge on every citizen of New London County today to better citizenship, to more devoted public service.

From some of these records and addresses we have quoted — they were written by men and women who were near the events described — for we believe that true patriotism is a deep sentiment toward one's native land, not simply a series of outward acts. This abiding sentiment of affection and unselfishness in a people, as in an individual, is rooted in memory. By the memory of earlier days, by knowledge of the sacrifices of earlier patriots who made liberty possible for us, will the true spirit of Americanism be best nourished. Nor is the Indian history without value. Even if, in the light of history, "the noble red man" of Cooper's novels seems a somewhat idealized figure, surely nowhere else in America may be found a better typical picture of the early relations of the white settler and the aborigine. We see them both at their best and at their worst. We have the grim picture of John Mason as he leads his resolute forces on to the utter destruction of the Pequots, and we have the picture of Uncas in all things, "Wauregan," living in unbroken amity with the Norwich colonists; we learn of Samson Occum, the Mohican who visited England and brought back ten thousand pounds to Dartmouth College. The present work, then, aims to emphasize only such features of the early history of our country as are helpful to the modern reader in visualizing the days of occupation, of settlement, and colonial development, the essential background by which to emphasize modem condition.

Our history for the last fifty years, inasmuch as this has not been printed in any one volume, will be described with greater minuteness. It is hoped that this portion of the work may be helpful for some years to come as a storehouse of information.


Table of Contents

Chapter I — General Facts About New London County — Naming and Earliest Settlement of the Twenty-one Towns — Scenery — Geography — The Aborigines — Uncas and the Mohegans — John Mason — Miantonomah — Early Government — Customs of Settlers — Journal of Madam Sarah Knight — Religious Conditions 1

Chapter II — The Beginnings of Education — General Definition of Education — Outline of Educational Development in Connecticut — Early Schools in Norwich — Early Schools in New London — The "Norwich Tests" — The District System — Supervision — Trade Schools — Model Schools — Normal Schools — Education of Indians in Early Days — Founding of Dartmouth — Samson Occum — Dr. Nott's Sermon — Music Vale Seminary 31

Chapter III — An Era of Unrest — Revolutionary War — Nathan Hale — Battle of Groton Heights — Rathbun's Narrative — Account of Rufus Avery — Of Stephen Hempstead — Allyn's Account of Death of CoL Ledyard — The War of 1812 — Early New London Whalers — Early Manufactures — Life of Daniel W. Coit 59

Chapter IV — Little Known Facts About New London County — Beginnings of Railroads and Telegraphs — Shipbuilding — Adams Express Company — Donald G. Mitchell's "Looking Back at Boyhood" — Ancestors of Six Presidents — Father of Oliver and Matthew Perry — ^Wolves in Early Days — Shaw Mansion — Celebrated Sons and Daughters of New London County 81

Chapter V — The City of New London — "Edelwiss"— John Winthrop the Younger — Natal Day — Bride Brook — Home Lots — Will of Mary Harries — Estate of Governor Winthrop— Anecdotes of Revolutionary War — Arnold's Account of the Expedition Against New London — Whale Fisheries at New London and Stonington — Stephen Decatur — Voyage of the "Savannah"— The Early Press — Poem on the Old Mill 97

Chapter VI — The City of Norwich — Stedman's "Inland City" — Deed of Norwich — First Proprietors — Settlement from Saybrook — Life of Capt. Mason — The Early Press — Visits of Eminent Men — Effects of War — Benedict Arnold — Anecdotes of Early Times — Early Industries — Early Physicians — Lincoln at Norwich — Data About Founders and Interesting Spots 133

Chapter VII — Other Towns of New London County — Colchester — East Lyme — Franklin — Griswold — Groton — Lebanon — Eminent Men — The War Office — "Brother Jonathan" — Early Settlers— Lisbon— Lyme and Old Lyme — Salem — Sprague — Stonington — Voluntown — Waterford 177

Chapter VIII — New London County Today — Its Population — Improvements — Scenery — Historic Relics — Public Buildings — Industries — Grand Lists — Index of Manufactures — Anniversary Celebrations at New London and Norwich 211

Chapter IX — Miscellaneous Information — Resources of the County — Character of Industry in Each Town — Assets — Changing Population — Financial Statistics — Lists of Public Officials — Significant dates — Representatives and Senators (State) 237

Chapter X — Educational Institutions — Connecticut College — Norwich Free Academy — Bacon Academy — The Bulkeley School — Williams Memorial Institute — New London Vocational High School — Mystic Oral School for the Deaf — The Wheeler School 243

Chapter XI — Religion in New London County — Early Conditions — Various Types of Churches — Theological Differences — Foreign Service — Connection Between Church and School — The Colonial State Church — Preaching to the Indians — "Rogerencs" — "Half-Way Covenant" — Parishes and Towns — ^The Congregational Denomination — Baptist Churches in the County — The Episcopal Church — Methodism — Various Religious Bodies — ^Roman Catholic Churches — Universalists 271

Chapter XII — Courts and Lawyers in New London County — New London District — Norwich District — Bozrah District — Colchester District — East Lyme District — Groton District — Lebanon District — Ledyard District — Lyme District — Montville District — North Stonington District — Old Lyme District — Salem District — Stonington District — Lawyers of Note — Members of County Bar — Memorial Addresses — County Court House — Eulogies 323

Chapter XIII — Medicine and Medical Men — Early Life of the Pioneers - Primitive Conditions of Medical Practice — Epidemic Diseases — Cholera — Medical Organization — Early Physicians — References 363

Chapter XIV — New London County Press — New London Day — Norwich Bulletin — Cooley's Weekly — Editor and Managers 401

Chapter XV — Banks — Early Banking — Famous Banks — National Bank System — Union Trust and Bank Company — New London City National Bank — Merchants' National Bank of Norwich — Norwich Savings Society — Thames National Bank, Norwich — Savings Bank of New London — National Whaling Bank— Mystic River National Bank — First National Bank of Stonington — National Bank of Commerce of New London — Uncas National Bank — Groton Savings Bank — Chelsea Savings Bank — Mariners Savings Bank — Dime Savings Bank — Jewett City Savings Bank — Jewett Qty Trust Company - Bankers Trust Company — Pawcatuck Bank and Trust Company — Winthrop Trust Company 423

Chapter XVI — Fire Insurance in New London County— A Primitive Necessity — First American Companies — Mutual Assurance Company of the City of Norwich — Last of Eighteenth and First of Nineteenth Century — The Norwich Fire Insurance Company — A New London Company — Other Early Companies in Connecticut — New London County Mutual Fire Insurance Company — Fire Insurance Agents in the County — List of Agencies in the County 457

Chapter XVII — Norwich Fire Department — Early Days — Serious Fires — Actions of Common Council — Norwich Companies at Boston Fire in 1873 — Various Ordinances Regulating the Fire Department — Statistics of Alarms "Rung In" — Pension Fund — Equipment 475

Chapter XVIII — New London Fire Department — Early History — First Companies — Chiefs and Other Officers — Groton Fire Company 489

Chapter XIX — Community Activities — History of Various Firms — Manufacturing — Taftville — Civic Spirit 493

Chapter XX — Fraternal Brotherhoods—Masonic — Odd Fellows — Other Orders — Fourteen Lodges of New London County — First Building in the World erected by Masons exclusively for Masonry — Elks 507

Chapter XXI — Patrons of Husbandry — History of the Grange — Oliver H. Kelley — Granges in New London County — Picture of the Grange 521

Chapter XXII — The Red Cross — The Four Chapters of New London County — Work of Norwich Chapter — New London Chapter — Various Activities 529

Chapter XXIII — Notable Places and Homes — Washington's Visits to the County — Stage Coach and Tavern Days — Various Famous Taverns — Potteries of Norwich — Silversmiths of New London County — Pinehurst — The Barrel House 533

Chapter XXIV — Military History — Civil War — Spanish War - World War — Muster Roll of Spanish War — Honor Roll of Various Towns 581

Addenda — Mary Lydia Bolles Branch — Benedict Arnold — The Groton Massacre — Fire Insurance — Norwich Fire Department 617


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New London County, occupying the southeastern part of Connecticut, is bounded on the east by the State of Rhode Island, on the south by Long Island Sound, on the west by Middlesex and Tolland counties, and on the north by Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties.

The county, with an area of approximately seven hundred square miles, is composed of twenty-one towns, Bozrah, Colchester, East Lyme, Franklin, Griswold, Groton, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Lyme, Montville, New London, North Stonington, Norwich, Old Lyme, Preston, Salem, Sprague, Stonington, Voluntown, Waterford; and has a population (census of 1920) of 255,311.

This county was one of the first four counties of the State, organized in 1666, and originally included a considerable part of the present Middlesex county, extending as far west as Clinton. Of the five first cities of Connecticut chartered in 1784, New London county had two.