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
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.
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.
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
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 Farmington, where Windsor is to-day, he set up the first frame house in Connecticut and surrounded it with a palisade for protection.
Other Englishmen from Massachusetts Bay, hearing of these new fertile lands and of friendly Indians and a profitable fur trade, came overland, making their way through the wilderness. By and by their numbers were so great that the Dutch were crowded out and driven away and Connecticut was settled by the English.
One of the most interesting parties of settlers who came from Massachusetts to Hartford was "Mr. Hooker's company." Thomas Hooker, the minister in Cambridge, led one hundred members of his church overland to new homes in Connecticut in June, 1636. These people had come from England a few years before, hoping to find religious and political freedom in America, and, after a short stay in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they decided to remove to Connecticut. Their journey was made in warm weather, under sunny skies, with birds singing in the green woods. They traveled slowly, for there were women and little children with them, old people too, and some who were sick. Mrs. Hooker was carried all the way in a litter. They followed a path toward the west which by that time had probably become a well-marked trail. Part of it, no doubt, led through deep forests. Sometimes they passed Indian villages. Sometimes they forded streams. They drove with them a herd of one hundred and sixty cattle, letting them graze by the way. They had wagons and tents, and at night they camped, made fires, and milked the cows. There were berries to be picked along the edges of the meadows and clear springs to drink from, and the two weeks' journey must have been one long picnic to the children.
When "Hooker's company" arrived on the banks of the Connecticut River, three little English settlements had already been made there. They were soon named Hartford, Windsor, and We(a)thersfield. These three settlements were the beginning of the Connecticut Colony.
At first the people were under the government of Massachusetts because Massachusetts thought they were still within her borders. But before long it became necessary for them to organize a government of their own. They had brought no patent, or charter, with them from England, and so, finding themselves alone in the wilderness, separated by many long miles of forests from Massachusetts Bay, they determined to arrange their own affairs without reference to any outside authority. They set up a government on May 1, 1637, and the next year, under the leadership of such men as Thomas Hooker, John Haynes, who had once been Governor of Massachusetts Bay, and Roger Ludlow, who had had some legal training, this government, made up of deputies from each of the three little settlements, drafted eleven "Fundamental Orders." These "Fundamental Orders" were not a written constitution, but a series of laws very much like those of the colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay. There is a tradition that they were read to the people and adopted by them in the Hartford Meetihg-House on January 14, 1639.
Connecticut continued under this form of government, which she had decided upon for herself, for more than twenty years—until after the civil war in England was over. Then, when royalty was restored and Charles the Second became king, in 1660, the people feared that they might lose something of the independence they had learned to love and value, and they sent their governor, John Winthrop, to England to get from the king a charter to confirm their "privileges and liberties."
Winthrop was a man who had had a university education in England and the advantages of travel on the continent of Europe. He had a good presence and courteous manners. Best of all, he had powerful friends at court. There is a story that in an audience with the king he returned to him a ring which the king's father, Charles the First, had given to Winthrop's grandfather, and that the king was so pleased with this that he was willing to sign the charter Winthrop asked for. Whether this is true or not, the king did sign one of the most liberal charters granted to any colony in America. It gave the Connecticut people power to elect their own governor and to make their own laws. This is the famous charter which is said to have been hidden later in the Charter Oak Tree. Two copies were made of it, and one of these Governor Winthrop sent home, September, 1662, in an odd-shaped, leather-covered box. This box, which is lined with sheets from an old history of King Charles the First and has a compartment at one side that once held the royal seal of green wax attached to the charter, can be seen to-day in the rooms of the Connecticut Historical Society.
When the people understood what a good charter they had received they were greatly pleased. The record of the General Assembly for October 9, 1662, says, "The Patent or Charter was this day publickly read to the Freemen [that is, the voters] and declared to belong to them and to their successors"; and October 29 was appointed a "Thanksgiving Day particularly for the great success God hath given to the endeavors of our Honored Governor in obtaining our Charter of His Majesty our Sovereign." Samuel Wyllys, in front of whose home stood the oak tree which was afterward to become known as the "Charter Oak," was appointed one of the first keepers of the charter.
For about a quarter of a century the government of Connecticut was carried on under the charter. Then King Charles the Second died, and his brother, the Duke of York, became king. The advisers of the new king, James the Second, wished to unite all the little scattered New England colonies under one strong government which should be able to resist not only Indian attacks, but also attacks from the French on the north. So in 1686, James sent over Sir Edmund Andros, who had once been Governor of New York, with a commission as Governor of the Dominion of New England. It was the duty of Andros to take over the separate governments of the different colonies and to demand the surrender of their charters.
But the people of New England did not like the new policy. Each colony wished to preserve its independence; each wished to be left entirely free to manage its own affairs, yet each expected help from England against its enemies. England, on the other hand, felt that the isolation of these small colonies, their jealousy of one another and their frequent quarrels, were a source of weakness, and that a single strong government was necessary to preserve order, to encourage trade, and to secure defense. The plan of union, however, as has been said, was greatly disliked by the colonies, and Connecticut sent a petition to the king praying that she might keep her privileges and her charter, and meanwhile she put off submission to the new governor as long as possible.
At last, however, Sir Edmund Andros wrote from Boston to Governor Treat of Connecticut that he would be "at Hartford about the end of the next week." This was on October 22, 1687. He left Boston on the 26th. A record written at that time says, "His Excellency with sundry of the Council, Justices and other gentlemen, four Blue Coats, two trumpeters, 15 or 20 Red Coats, with small Guns and short Lances in the tops of them, set forth in order to go to Connecticut to assume the government of that place." He reached Hartford on the 31st, having crossed the Connecticut River by the ferry at Wethersfield. "The troop of horse of that county conducted him honorably from the ferry through Wethersfield up to Hartford, where the train-bands of divers towns united to pay their respects at his coming" and to escort him to the tavern.
Governor Andros had come from Norwich since morning, a forty-mile ride over rough roads and across streams without bridges or ferries, and it was late when he arrived. The fall days were short and probably candles were already lighted in the court chamber where the Assembly was in session. The Connecticut magistrates knew something of Sir Edmund Andros. Twelve years before, while he was Governor of New York, he had appeared at Saybrook and demanded the surrender of the fort and town by order of the Duke of York who claimed part of Connecticut under his patent. The claim was not made good, for Captain Bull, who commanded at Saybrook, raised the king's colors over the fort and forbade the reading of the duke's patent, and Andros, not wishing to use force and pleased with this bold action although it was against himself, sailed away. Now, however, the Duke of York had become King of England with a new policy for the colonies, and Andros was obeying the king's orders.
He was a soldier who had served with distinction in the army and had held responsible positions. He was also a man used to courts as well as to camps, for as a boy he had been a page in the king's household and later was attached to the king's service. He must have presented a contrast in appearance and manner to the Connecticut magistrates who so anxiously awaited his coming.
When he entered the room he took the governor's seat and ordered the king's commission to be read, which appointed him governor of all New England. He then declared the old government to be dissolved and asked that the charter under which it had been carried on should be given up to him. The Assembly was obliged to recognize his authority and to accept the new government; but a story of that famous meeting has been handed down in Connecticut from one generation to another telling how the people contrived to keep their charter, the document they loved because it guaranteed their freedom.
"The Assembly sat late that night," says the story, "and the debate was long." When Sir Edmund Andros asked for the charter it was brought in and laid on the table. Then Robert Treat, who had been Governor of Connecticut, rose and began a speech. He told of the great expense and hardship the people had endured in planting the colony, of the blood and treasure they had expended in defending it against "savages and foreigners," and said it was "like giving up life now, to surrender the patent and privileges so dearly bought and so long enjoyed." Suddenly, while he was speaking, all the candles went out. There was a moment of confusion; then some one brought a tinder-box and flint and the candles were relighted. The room was unchanged; the same number of people were there; but the table where the charter had lain was empty, for in that moment of darkness the charter had disappeared.
No one knew who had taken it. No one could find it. No one saw the candles blown out. Was it done on purpose, or did a door or a window fly open and a gust of the night wind put them out? It chanced that the night was Allhallowe'en, when the old tales say that the witches and fairies and imps are abroad and busy. Were any of them busy that night with Connecticut's charter?
"Two men in the room, John Talcott and Nathaniel Stanley, took the charter when the lights were out." So said Governor Roger Wolcott long afterward. He was a boy nine years old at the time and had often heard the story. But these two men never left the room; they were members of the Assembly; they could not carry off the charter. However, Major Talcott had a son-in-law, Joseph Wadsworth, and he was waiting outside,—so says another story. Wadsworth was young and daring. The charter was passed out to him and he hid it under his cloak and made his way swiftly through the crowd that had gathered around the tavern and through the dim, deserted streets beyond, to where an old oak tree grew in front of the Wyllys house. This tree had a hollow in its trunk and Wadsworth slipped the charter into this safe hiding-place and left it there. Houses might be searched, but no one would think of looking for a missing paper in the hidden heart of a hollow oak. And because the old tree proved a good guardian and gave shelter in a time of trouble to Connecticut's charter it was known and honored later as the Charter Oak.
We are not told what was said or done in the court chamber after the charter disappeared. The stories of that night are full of mystery and contradiction. Perhaps, after all, no very serious search was made for it. Perhaps its loss brought about a compromise between the two parties. For Governor Andros had already gained his object; he had taken over the government of Connecticut, and the people had saved their pride because they had not surrendered their charter.
The charter lay hidden for two years; not all that time in the oak tree, of course, but in some other safe place. One tradition says it was kept for a while in Guilford in the house of Andrew Leete. At the end of two years there was a revolution in England, and William and Mary came to the English throne. Then the charter was taken out of its hiding-place—wherever that was—and government was at once resumed under the same old patent which had disappeared so mysteriously on that famous Allhallowe'en night.
In the Memorial Hall of the State Library at Hartford, under a glass shield, in a fireproof compartment built into the end wall of the room, there hangs to-day one of the two original copies of the Connecticut Charter. It is in a good state of preservation, its lettering is clear and distinct, and so is the portrait engraved upon it of King Charles the Second who gave it to Governor John Winthrop. A part of its present frame is made from the wood of the Charter Oak. The other copy, that is, what remains of it, can be seen in the box which is owned by the Historical Society.
When, after the Revolutionary War, the Colony of Connecticut became the State of Connecticut, the charter of the colony was adopted without alteration as the State Constitution. No change was made in it until 1818.
The old oak tree, known to Indian legend and better known in Connecticut's story, lived, honored and protected, until its fall in the great storm of August 21, 1856.
1. Trumbull, Benjamin. History of Connecticut. Maltby Goldsmith & Co. New Haven, 1818.
2. Trumbull, J. Hammond (editor). Memorial History of Hartford County. E. L. Osgood. Boston, 1886.
3. Andrews, Charles M. "The River Towns of Connecticut," in Johns Hopkins University Studies, vn, 1-3, September, 1889. Baltimore, 1889.
4. Love, Wm. De Loss. The Colonial History of Hartford. Hartford, 1914.
5. Love, Wm. De Loss. "Hartford, the Keeper of Connecticut's Charter," in Hartford in History, Willis J. Twitchell (editor). Hartford, 1899.
6. Bates, Albert C. Article on "Charter Oak" in Encyclopoedia Americana.
7. Hoadly, Charles J. The Hiding of the Charter. Case, Lockwood & Brainard. Hartford, 1900.
TWO INDIAN WARRIORS
The two Indian chiefs of whom we hear most in the early history of Connecticut were Uncas, sachem of the Mohegans, and Miantonomo, sachem of the Narragansetts. A great Indian battle called the "Battle of the Plain" took place once, near Norwich, between these rival tribes led by these two rival chieftains.
The Mohegans were a part of the Pequot tribe, and the Pequots, or "Gray Foxes," were the fiercest, most cruel, and warlike of all the Indians who roamed through the forests of Connecticut before the English came. The white settlers soon had trouble with them, and when the Pequot War, which was a war between the settlers and the Indians, began, in 1637, Uncas came with some of his Mohegan warriors and offered to guide the English troops through the woods to the Pequot fort.
Now Uncas was himself a Pequot by birth and belonged to the royal family, and it seems strange that he should not take part with his own people. But not long before this he had rebelled against the chief sachem, Sassacus, and had tried to make himself independent. "He grew proud and treacherous to the Pequot sachem," says the old chronicle, "and the Pequot sachem was very angry and sent up some soldiers and drove him out of his country." Afterward, when "he humbled himself to the Pequot sachem, he received permission to live in his own country again." But he was restless and dissatisfied. He was said to be of great size and very strong; he was brave too, and had a good deal of influence among the Indians. The settlers needed his help, yet they were half afraid to trust him, knowing that he would be "faithful to them as the jackal is faithful to the lion, not because it loves the lion, but because it gains something by remaining in his company." Before he would accept him as a guide, Lieutenant Lion Gardiner, commander of the fort at Saybrook, said to him, "You say you will help Captain Mason, but I will first see it; therefore send twenty men to Bass River, for there went six Indians there in a canoe, fetch them, dead or alive; and you shall go with Mason or else you shall not."
Uncas went off with his men and found these Indians. He killed four of them and brought back another as a prisoner, and the colonists, feeling more certain of his fidelity, took him with them on their expedition.
Miantonomo, the Narragansett sachem, did not go himself, but he sent one hundred of his warriors, for he, too, hated the Pequots, who had lately overrun the country and made themselves a terror to their neighbors. The Narragansetts lived near them, just over the Rhode Island border. They were a larger tribe than the Pequots and more peaceful and civilized, and their chief, Miantonomo, was friendly to the English settlers and had been generous in his dealings with them. He and his uncle Canonicus, who was at this time an old man over eighty, governed the Narragansetts together and were on the best of terms with each other. "The old sachem will not be offended at what the young sachem doth," says the English record, "and the young sachem will not do what he conceives will displease his uncle."
The Pequot War was soon over, for the bows and arrows of the Indians had no chance against the guns of the English. Most of the Pequot warriors were killed, their fort and wigwams were burned, and many of their women and children perished in the flames. It is a pitiful story, because the settlers felt it necessary for their own safety to put an end to the Pequot tribe. The few poor Pequots who escaped this terrible destruction were scattered among other tribes. The Narragansetts took some, but more went to the Mohegans because they were related to them. In this way the tribe of the Mohegans grew larger and stronger and Uncas became an important chief. He showed great skill in building up his tribe and he remained faithful to the English all through his life, while they, on their side, protected him as a reward for his services. As his power increased, however, his jealous and quarrelsome disposition showed itself more plainly, and the Indians complained that "the English had made him high" and that he robbed and oppressed them. When the colonists demanded that he should give up to them any fugitive Pequots who had murdered white settlers, Uncas put off complying on one pretext or another, because he did not wish to weaken his tribe, which was still much smaller than that of the Narragansetts.
The year after the war he went to Boston with thirty-seven of his warriors carrying a present of wampum for the governor. But the governor would not accept the present until Uncas had given satisfaction about the Pequots he was hiding. Uncas seemed "much dejected" by this reception, and at first he denied that he had any Pequots, but after two days he admitted the fact and promised to do whatever the council demanded. Half an hour later he came to the governor and made the following speech. Laying his hand on his breast, he said:—
"This heart is not mine, but yours; I have no men, they are all yours; command me any difficult thing, I will do it; I will not believe any Indian's word against the English. If any man shall kill an Englishman I will put him to death were he never so dear to me."
The governor in response "gave him a fair red coat, and defrayed his and his men's diet, and gave them corn to relieve them homeward, and a letter of protection to all men, and he departed very joyful."
Uncas had now become a dangerous rival of Miantonomo, and the jealousy between them soon grew so great that it threatened to break out in open war. In 1638 they were both called to Hartford by the Connecticut authorities to settle the differences between them.
Miantonomo obeyed this summons at once and set out with a great company, "a guard of upwards of one hundred and fifty men and many sachems and his wife and children," and traveled through the forests that lay between the villages of the Narragansetts in Rhode Island and the English settlements in the Connecticut valley. On the way he heard that the Mohegans had planned to attack him, that they had laid an ambush for him, and had threatened to "boil him in a kettle." Some Indians of a friendly tribe met him and told him that a band of Mohegans had fallen upon them and robbed them two days before, and had destroyed twenty-three fields of their corn. Miantonomo had already come about halfway, and, after holding a council with his chiefs, he decided to push on. "No man shall turn back," he said; "we will all rather die."
He reached Hartford in safety, but Uncas was not there. Uncas had sent word by a messenger that he was lame and could not come. The Governor of Connecticut "observed that it was a lame excuse and sent for him to come without delay." So Uncas decided that it was safer for him, on the whole, to get well quickly and to go to Hartford.
In the council that followed, each chieftain stated his grievances and made complaint against the other, and the English tried to reconcile them. At last a treaty of peace was signed, and then Miantonomo stepped forward and held out his hand to Uncas and invited him to a feast. But Uncas would not eat with him, and the two chiefs parted no better friends than before.
Not long after this, Miantonomo was accused of trying to unite all the Indian tribes against the English settlers. It was said that he had made a speech to the Long Island Indians in these words:—
"Brothers, we must be one as the English are, or we shall soon all be destroyed. You know our fathers had plenty of deer and skins, and our plains were full of deer and of turkeys, and our coves and rivers were full of fish. But, brothers, since these English have seized upon our country, they cut down the grass with scythes, and the trees with axes. Their cows and horses eat up the grass, and their hogs spoil our beds of clams; and finally we shall starve to death. Therefore, I beseech you to act like men. All the sachems both to the east and west have joined with us and we are resolved to fall upon them."
The English were much alarmed on hearing this. It was quite true that the Indians had sold their lands without realizing that the settlers would use them for anything else than for hunting grounds and for fishing places, as they themselves had done. They could not know that the forests would be cleared, that farms would spread over the countryside, and towns grow up along the river courses, and they themselves be driven farther and farther back into the wilderness. But Miantonomo denied that he had planned a united attack on the settlements. He told the messengers who were sent to him from Boston that all such reports came from Uncas, and he agreed to go to Boston and appear before the court of Massachusetts. He said, too, that he would like to meet his accusers face to face and prove their treachery.
Miantonomo was a tall, fine-looking chief with serious and stately manners, and he made a favorable impression in Boston on the magistrates who were not very well disposed toward him. "When he came in, the court was assembled and he was set down at the lower end of the table over against the governor." A Pequot interpreter was given him. Now, in his own country he had refused to make use of a Pequot as interpreter because he was not on good terms with that tribe and could not trust them, but here, "surrounded by armed men," he could not help himself. He protested, however, saying gravely, "When your people come to me, they are permitted to use their own fashions and I expect the same liberty when I come to you."
The sessions of the court lasted for two days, and every one was astonished at the wisdom and dignity of the great sachem of the Narragansetts. He answered all the questions put to him deliberately, and would not speak at all unless some of his councilors were present as witnesses. At meal-times, when a separate table was set for him, he was not pleased and refused to eat until some food was brought to him from the governor's table. In the end he convinced the council of his innocence and he returned in peace to his own country.
Meanwhile, Uncas, who was both feared and hated for his sudden rise to power, had several narrow escapes from death. One of the captured Pequots in his own tribe shot an arrow at him and wounded him in the arm. Uncas complained to the English that Miantonomo had engaged this Pequot to kill him, and Miantonomo retorted that Uncas had cut his own arm with a flint to make it appear that he had been wounded, and no one knew where the truth lay. Soon after this an attempt was made to poison him. Then, at last, one day as he was paddling down the Connecticut River in a canoe, some Indians who were friends of the Narragansetts sent a shower of arrows at him from the bank. He at once made a raid into their country, killed seven or eight of their warriors, burned their wigwams and carried off the booty.
This brought matters to a climax, for their chief, Sequassen, was related to Miantonomo and Miantonomo took up his quarrel. The trouble, which had so long been smouldering between the Mohegans and the Narragansetts, broke out in earnest. Miantonomo collected all the Narragansett warriors and led them swiftly and secretly through the forests toward the land of the Mohegans, which lay along the banks of the Pequot, or Thames, River. He hoped in this way to fall upon Uncas while he was unprepared.
But Uncas was on his guard. His watchmen on the hills caught sight of the Narragansetts as they came out of the woods by the fords of the Shetucket River,—above the present city of Norwich. Uncas had a fort five miles below on the Pequot River, which was his headquarters, and the old story says:—
"Being warned by his spies of the approach of the Narragansetts toward his seat, Uncas called his warriors together, stout, hard men, light of foot and skilled in the use of bow and arrow, and upon a conference he told them that it would not do to let the Narragansetts come to their town, but that they must go and meet them. Accordingly they marched about three miles, and on a large plain the armies met, and both halted within bowshot. A parley was sounded, and Uncas proposed a conference with the Narragansett sachem, who agreed. And being met, Uncas saith to his enemy words to this effect:—
"'You have a number of brave men and so have I. It is a pity that such brave men should be killed for a quarrel between you and me. Only come like a man, as you pretend to be, and we will fight it out. If you kill me, my men shall be yours, but if I kill you, your men shall be mine.'
"Upon which the Narragansett sachem replied,
"'My men came to fight and they shall fight.'"
Now, Uncas knew well that his army, being much smaller, had no chance against the army of the Narragansetts in a fair fight, and before he met the Narragansett sachem he had planned a stratagem with his own men.
As soon as Miantonomo had spoken Uncas threw himself face down on the ground and his men drew their bows and shot their arrows over his head and rushed "like lions" upon their astonished enemies. The Narragansetts broke in terror and confusion. They did not stop to fight, but turned and fled panic-stricken, through woods and swamps and over rocks and hills, by the way they had come, back to the river fords. The Mohegans pursued them, killing a number of them and wounding more. They drove them headlong, like sheep, before them, and the pursuit lasted for five or six miles. Some of the Narragansetts lost their way and came upon the Yantic River near its falls and were driven over the steep rocks on the banks and drowned in the water. Others were taken prisoners. "Long afterwards, some old Mohegans were heard to boast of having found a poor Narragansett struggling and panting in a thicket that bordered the river, and so frantic with fear and excitement as to suppose himself in the water and actually attempting to swim among the bushes."
Miantonomo was strong and a swift runner, but that day he wore for protection a coat of mail which an Englishman had given him and the heavy garment impeded his flight. The Mohegans recognized him by it and followed him eagerly. He kept his distance until he had nearly reached the river, but there, "the foremost of Uncas's men got ahead of him." They threw themselves against him and prevented his escape. They did not kill him or try to take him prisoner, but they ran beside him until Uncas came up, when they dropped back and gave their chieftain the "opportunity to take him."
"At a place since called 'Sachem's Plain,' Uncas took him by the shoulder and Miantonomo sat down, knowing Uncas. Uncas then gave a whoop and his men returned to him." But Miantonomo sat silent.
At last Uncas spoke to him and said, "If you had taken me I would have besought you for my life."
Now it was against the Indian's code of honor to ask for mercy. An Indian brave must never complain, no matter how hard his fate. If he were put to torture, if he were even burned at the stake, he must let no sound of pain escape him. He might boast of his own exploits and tell how many of his enemies he had killed, but he must never admit defeat. Courage and endurance were the great Indian virtues. Therefore Miantonomo made no reply to the taunts of Uncas and his men; he kept silence, as befitted a great sachem and a brave warrior, "choosing rather to die than to make supplication for his life."
Uncas had the right, according to Indian custom, to put his prisoner to death at once, but he had agreed to consult the English in all important matters, so he carried him to Hartford. This was late in the summer of 1643. In September the commissioners of the United Colonies met in Boston and the case of Miantonomo came before them. The commissioners were afraid to take the responsibility of setting the Narragansett sachem free, because they had promised to protect Uncas and they felt that Uncas would not be safe while Miantonomo lived, yet they had no reason to put him to death. At last, after long deliberation, they decided that he should be given back to Uncas and that Uncas, if he chose, might put him to death; but he must do it in his own land, not in the English settlements, and there must be no torture.
So Uncas came to Hartford "with some considerable number of his best and trustiest men," and having received his prisoner, he set out with him on the fatal journey. The English sent two of their own men with him to see that the sentence was duly executed. They went through the forests until they had passed the English boundaries and had come upon land that belonged to the Mohegans, and, therein the wilderness, the brother of Uncas, who walked behind Miantonomo, lifted his hatchet and silently drove it through the captive chieftain's head.
On Sachem's Plain a great heap of stones soon marked the spot where Miantonomo had been overtaken, for each Mohegan warrior who passed the place cast a stone on the pile with a shout of triumph, and each Narragansett added to it with cries of sorrow and lamentation for the loss of a noble leader. In after years the stones disappeared, and a monument was erected on the spot in 1841, in honor of the Narragansett sachem. It is a large, square block of granite with the name and the date carved upon it, "MIANTONOMO, 1643." It can be seen to-day in Greeneville, two miles from Norwich.
Uncas lived on for many years and was a very old man before he died; "old and wicked and wilful," one account describes him. He quarreled with his neighbors and gave much trouble to his friends, the English. The Narragansetts attacked him after the death of Miantonomo, to avenge the death of their chief, and they drove him into one of his forts on the Pequot River. The colonists had helped him to build this fort on a point of land running out into the water, and it was too strong for the Indians to take it by assault. They took possession of the Mohegan's canoes, however, and they sat down patiently before the fort, on the land side, to starve out Uncas and his warriors.
But the story says that one night Uncas sent out a swift runner, who got safely past his enemies and carried the news to the English. Thomas Leffingwell, one of the settlers at Saybrook, "an enterprizing, bold man, loaded a canoe with beef, corn, and peas, and under cover of night paddled from Saybrook" around into the mouth of the Thames, or Pequot, River and succeeded in getting the provisions into the fort without the knowledge of the Narragansetts. The next morning there was great rejoicing among the Mohegans and they lifted a large piece of beef on a pole to show the besiegers that they had plenty to eat. The Narragansetts, finding that the English had once more come to the rescue of Uncas, gave up the siege in despair and melted away into the forest.
There is an old legend which says that each night while he was waiting for relief, Uncas himself secretly left the fort and crept along through the shadows on the river-bank until he came to a ledge of rocks from which he could look down the stream; that he sat there stern and motionless until morning watching and hoping for help from the strange, new owners of the lands which had belonged to his fathers. These rocks afterward went by the name of "Uncas's Chair."
Uncas was buried in the royal burying-ground of the Mohegans near the falls of the Yantic River. His monument is there now in the heart of the city of Norwich.
1. DeForest, John W. History of the Indians of Connecticut. J. W. Hammersley. Hartford, 1853.
2. Drake, Samuel G. Book of the Indians. Boston, 1845.
3. Caulkins, Frances M. History of Norwich. Hartford, 1874.
4. Sylvester, Herbert Milton. Indian Wars of New England. W. B. Clarke Co. Boston, 1910.
5. Winthrop, John. History of New England. Edited by James Savage. Boston, 1825.
A HARBOR FOR SHIPS
"It hath a fair river, fit for harboring of ships, and abounds with rich and goodly meadows." This description of New Haven, or Quinnipiac, as the Indians called it, was brought back to Boston in the summer of 1637, after the Pequot War, by some of the English soldiers who had pursued the flying Pequots into that part of Connecticut and had noticed the good harbor of New Haven as they passed.
The report sounded so pleasant and so satisfactory in the ears of a company of London merchants, who, with their families and their fortunes, had recently come to New England and were looking about for a suitable spot in which to settle, that they decided to visit this place and judge of it for themselves.
These people, about two hundred and fifty in number, had arrived in Boston in June of that same year, after a voyage of two months. Of course in the small ships of those days there must have been many discomforts, even in a pleasant season, and no doubt some of the people were seasick. An old record of that time says, "We fetched out the children and others that lay groaning in the cabins, and having stretched a rope from the steerage to the mainmast, made them stand some on one side and some on the other and sway it up and down till they were warm. By this means they soon grew well and merry. ... When the ship heaved and set more than usual a few were sick, but of these such as came upon deck and bestirred themselves were presently well again, therefore our captain set our children and young men to some harmless exercises, in which the seamen were very active and did our people much good, though they would sometimes play the wags with them." When at last the Hector dropped anchor in Boston Harbor, and "there came a smell off the shore like the smell of a garden," her passengers must have been glad that the long voyage was over.
The two leaders of the company were Theophilus Eaton, a successful shipping merchant of London, a man of affairs and of great personal dignity and kindliness, and his friend, Reverend John Davenport, a London clergyman, who, like many other Puritan ministers of those days, had been obliged to leave England on account of his religious opinions. These two men had been schoolboys together in the town of Coventry, they had been associated later in London, they came together to America, and they remained friends to the end of their lives.
As many of their party were merchants, and not farmers like a large number of the settlers on the Connecticut River at Hartford, it was important to select a place for their colony which would be convenient for trade and where there was a good harbor for the commerce they hoped to establish. For this reason the report of Quinnipiac interested them, and in September several members of the company went to Quinnipiac and liked it so well that seven men were left there through the winter to prepare for the coming of the rest in the spring. In April the whole number removed there from Boston.
The people of Massachusetts Bay were sorry to have them go. They would have been glad to have this rich and influential company join their colony, but these new settlers wished to found a colony of their own in which they could carry out their own ideas of what a model state should be, both in civil and religious matters. They took ship, therefore, from Boston for Quinnipiac, carrying all their goods and provisions with them. The expedition was well fitted out and all its details had been carefully planned before they left England. Friends already in the colonies had written offering suggestions: "Bring good store of clothes and bedding with you; bring paper and linseed oil for your windows, with cotton yarn for your lamps."
As they sailed into Quinnipiac Harbor they saw for the first time the two great cliffs, the East and West Rocks, called by the Dutch "the Red Hills," which still stand like guardians, one on each side of the present city of New Haven. On the level plain between them, which is watered by several small streams, they determined to build their town and to place it at the head of the beautiful harbor.
They made large and generous plans for it. They laid it out in regular squares and set aside a great open space in the center for a market-place. This is the New Haven Green, which exists to-day just as John Brockett, the surveyor, laid it out in 1638. It is still the largest public square in the heart of any city in the United States. In the middle of the Green they built the first "meeting-house." It was fifty feet square, made of rough timbers, with a small tower on top where the drummer stood on Sundays to "drum" the people to church; for at first there were no bells. Each person had a seat carefully assigned to him, or her, in the meeting-house. Sometimes the boys sat with the soldiers near the door. We read later in the records that at one time the children in the galleries were so restless during the long sermons, that "tithing-men" were appointed "to take a stick or wand and smite such as are of uncomely behavior in the meeting and acquaint their parents." On week-days the children went to school in a schoolhouse which was built on the Green.
The town of New Haven was soon noted for its large and fine houses, Eaton's having nineteen fireplaces according to tradition, and Davenport's, thirteen. But at first any kind of shelter was used for protection. The people met under an oak tree for service on the first Sunday after landing and Reverend John Davenport preached a sermon to them on the "Temptation of the Wilderness," so it is said. During the first winter some of them slept in cellars dug out in the banks of one of the creeks and covered with earth. A boy named Michael Wigglesworth, who came to New Haven with his parents in October, 1638, when he was nine years old, lived in one of these cellars. When he grew up he wrote his autobiography and in it he says, "I remember that one great rain brake in upon us and drenched me so in my bed, being asleep, that I fell sick upon it, but the Lord in mercy spared my life and restored my health."
When the settlers at Quinnipiac, or New Haven, as it was soon called, had been there a little more than a year, they met in Robert Newman's barn "to consult about settling civil government" and also about establishing a church. Up to this time they had lived under what was known as the "Plantation Covenant," which was a simple agreement among themselves that they would all "be ordered by those rules which the Scripture holds forth." At this meeting on June 4, l639, they decided that they would continue to accept the Bible as a code of laws, and that only church members should hold office or have the right to vote for magistrates. They did this under the direction of John Davenport, who in one of his writings had described this colony as "a new Plantation whose design is religion." This agreement, made in Robert Newman's barn, was known as the "Fundamental Agreement." Twelve men were appointed on that day who chose seven from among themselves to found a church. These seven men were called the "Seven Pillars." On August 22, the "Seven Pillars" met and established a church, and on the 25th of October they met again and set up the civil government.
Like the Connecticut Colony, the New Haven Colony in setting up its government made no reference to any authority beyond itself; the people elected their own magistrates and made their own laws. But the New Haven Colony was unlike Connecticut in one important respect. In New Haven no man could vote or hold a place in the government unless he was a church member. This led later to much discontent among some of the people, and was one reason, among others, for the failure of New Haven as a separate colony and for its beng absorbed, twenty-five years afterward,—in 1664,—into the larger and more liberal Connecticut Colony.
Meanwhile, even before the government was organized, the merchants and shippers of the company had bought or built boats and had begun to trade along the coasts to the north and to the south. During the first winter while some of the people, like the family of Michael Wigglesworth, were still living in cellars dug in the river-banks, Master George Lamberton was sailing in his sloop, the Cock, on a trading voyage to Virginia. Other New Haven ships soon established commercial relations with Boston and New Amsterdam, with Delaware, where beaver skins could be obtained in abundance, with Virginia, whose great staple was tobacco, and with other plantations still farther away, such as Barbados in the West Indies, where sugar was the most important article of exchange. Now and then we hear of a New Haven ship in strange and foreign parts of the world.
There was one which set out in December, 1642, for the Canary Islands, laden with clapboards, and fell in with pirates near the Island of Palma, one of the Canaries. A Turkish pirate ship of three hundred tons with two hundred men on board and twenty-six guns, attacked this small New Haven ship of one hundred and eighty tons, which had only seven guns fit for use and twenty men armed with rusty muskets. The fight lasted for three hours, and Captain Carman, the master of the New Haven ship, and his men succeeded in killing a good many Turks in spite of being taken at a disadvantage. But at last the pirates put their ship alongside and sent one hundred men on board the New Haven ship, When, however, they found that their captain was shot and the rudder of their ship broken, the pirates hauled, down their flag and drew off so quickly that they left fifty of their men behind. "Then the master [Captain Carman] and some of his men came up and fought those fifty hand to hand and slew so many of them that the rest leaped overboard. The master had many wounds on his head and body and divers of his men were wounded, yet but one slain. So with much difficulty he got to the Island [of Palma], where he was very courteously entertained, and supplied with whatever he needed."
But New Haven ships did not always come off as well as in this encounter with the pirates, and their voyages were not always successful. Some members of the New Haven Colony bought land in Delaware and attempted to establish a trading-post in order to take advantage of the profitable trade in beaver skins. But the Dutch and Swedes, who had settled there, objected to the coming of the English, and once, in 1642, they seized Captain Lamberton, who had come in his ship the Cock, accused him of inciting the Indians against them, and threw him into prison. As the charges against him could not be proved he was soon released, but the hostility of the Dutch and Swedes continued until the New Haven merchants were driven away from that coast and out of the rich fur-trade of Delaware. This was a great blow to the colony. Other losses, too, were met with, and at last the people became greatly discouraged as they saw their hopes of founding a successful commercial colony slowly, but surely, disappearing.
The voyage of the "Great Shippe" which took place about this time is the most tragic adventure in the story of New Haven's early shipping days. It began in this way. In 1646, as a last resource, the merchants of New Haven decided to fit out a ship with what was left of their "tradeable estate," and send her to London. Up to this time they had sent goods to England by way of Boston or of the West Indies; there might be more profit, they thought, in a direct trade, cutting out the cost of reshipment. So they bought a ship. We do not know her name, she is always spoken of as the "Great Shippe," although she was only one hundred tons; perhaps the title was given her because the colonists were staking so much on this venture. If it succeeded, their prosperity might be assured; if it failed, they must give up the sea and commerce as a dependence and turn their energies to agriculture. The "Great Shippe" was a new boat, said to have been built in Rhode Island, and she was loaded principally with wheat and peas shipped in bulk, with West Indies hides, beaver skins, and what silver plate could be spared for exchange in London. Her cargo altogether was worth about twenty-five thousand dollars, which was a large sum in those days, especially in a new and struggling colony.
The master of the ship was the same Captain Lamberton we have heard of before. He was a brave and bold skipper, but it is said that he was not altogether pleased with the ship when he first saw her; that he did not like her lines and thought her not quite seaworthy. Other people, too, besides Captain Lamberton, complained that she was not only badly built, but badly loaded, with the light goods of the cargo below and the heavy above, and some old seamen predicted that the grain would shift in rough weather and make trouble. These were mostly rumors, however, and few paid attention to them at the time; but long afterward, when people talked over the strange fate of the "Great Shippe," Captain Lamberton's words, "This ship will be our grave," were recalled and believed to have been a prophecy.
That winter of 1646 was a bitterly cold one in Connecticut, and New Haven Harbor was frozen over. When the "Great Shippe" was ready to sail, it was necessary to cut a way out for her with handsaws through the thick ice for nearly three miles. A good many people from the town walked out on the harbor ice beside the ship to see her begin her voyage, and to bid good-bye to a number of their friends who were going home to England on business of one kind or another. Seventy people had taken passage in the "Great Shippe," and among them were some who were very prominent in the colony, as, for instance, Captain Nathaniel Turner, who, having had experience in the war with the Pequot Indians, had been given "the command and ordering of all martial affairs" in the plantation, and Thomas Gregson, one of the magistrates, who was charged by the colony to obtain a charter for them, if possible, from the English Parliament, then in control in England.
Reverend John Davenport, the minister, stood in the crowd of people on the ice that winter day and offered a prayer to God for the protection of the travelers. "Lord," he said, "if it be thy will to bury these our friends in the bottom of the sea, they are thine, save them." This does not sound like a very cheerful send-off, but we must remember that a long voyage was a serious undertaking in those days and that people sometimes made their wills even before sailing from New Haven for Boston.
When the "Great Shippe" had really gone, when the people had seen the last of Captain Lamberton standing on her deck giving orders, and had watched her white sails dwindle and disappear, they walked back over the ice to their homes on the shore remembering sadly that it would be a long time before they could expect to have any news from her. It might be two or three months before she reached London and as many more before word of her arrival could come back to them. So they waited patiently through the hard New England winter and the early spring, but by summer time they were eagerly looking for tidings of her. Ships came from England as usual to the colonies, but no one of them brought news of the safe arrival in London of the "Great Shippe" from New Haven. Then the people began to question the skippers of other boats, boats from the West Indies and from the plantations on the southern coasts, and to ask if anything had been heard of her in that direction. For they remembered that there had been an unusually violent storm soon after the ship had sailed, and they began to fear that she might have been blown out of her course and possibly wrecked on some such coast or island. Public prayers were offered for her safety and for the safety of her passengers. Meanwhile, the summer passed and the cold weather came again, and still there was no word from the fated ship. Few vessels put into New England harbors during the winter, and, as the chance of news grew less and less, the anxiety of the people gradually changed to despair. They recalled the sacrifices they had made to fit out that ship, the precious cargo she carried, all the things that could not be replaced (such as the sermons and other writings of Mr. Davenport which he had sent to England for publication); and in the loss of the ship on which they had set all their hopes they saw the final blow to the prosperity of New Haven. No one now had the courage or the money for another venture of that kind. Slowly and reluctantly the people turned to agriculture instead of trade, and the days of New Haven as a commercial colony were numbered.
But far worse to them than any material loss was the loss of the dear friends and relatives who had sailed with the "Great Shippe" for England. No compensation could come to those who had loved them. In November, 1647, the passengers on the ship were finally given up as lost and counted among the dead and their estates settled.
Yet many to whom they were dear could not rest satisfied. They remembered all the perils of the sea, the dangers of shipwreck on some barren coast, of possible capture by pirates, such as those who had attacked Captain Carman off the Canary Islands not many years before, and they came to feel at last that they would be thankful to learn that the ship had foundered at sea and that their friends had gone down with her to a natural death in the waters.
Two years and a half after the sailing of the "Great; Shippe" (so the story stands in a strange old book called the Magnolia Christi, by the Reverend Cotton Mather), a wonderful vision came to the people of New Haven. On that June afternoon in the year 1648, a great thunderstorm came up from the northwest. The sky grew black and threatening, there was vivid lightning, and a cold wind swept over the harbor. Before the rain had ceased and calm had come again, it was nearly sunset.
Then, against the clear evening light, a strange ship sailed into New Haven Harbor. Around the point she came with her sails full set and her colors flying. "There's a brave ship," cried the children, and they left their play to stand and gaze at her. Men and women gathered on the water-front and the same startled hope thrilled every heart: "It may be the 'Great Shippe' come home again!" For there was the old familiar outline, there were her three masts, her tackling, and her sails. And yet there was something new and mysterious, something awe-inspiring about her, and the watchers held their breath as they realized that she was sailing toward them straight against the wind that blew strong off the north shore. For a full half-hour they stood and gazed, until they could distinguish the different parts of her rigging, until they could see, standing high on her poop, the figure of a man with "one hand akimbo under his left side and in his right hand a sword stretched out toward the sea." Then, all at once, a mist rose out of the sea behind her and covered her like smoke, and through the mist and smoke men saw dimly her shrouds give way, and her masts break and fall, as though a hurricane had struck her, and slowly she careened and plunged beneath the surface of the water.
The people turned to their pastor. "What does it mean?" they asked. "It was the form of Master Lamberton. Why is this vision sent us?" And he replied that doubtless God had sent it in answer to their prayers, to show them the fate of their friends and to set their hearts at rest, for "this was the mould of their ship, and thus her tragic end."
1. Levermore, Charles H. Republic of New Haven. Johns Hopkins University Studies. Baltimore, 1886.
2. Atwater, Edward E. History of the Colony of New Haven. Printed at New Haven, 1881.
3. Blake, Henry T. Chronicles of New Haven Green. Printed at New Haven, 1892.
4. Winthrop, John. History of New England. Edited by James Savage. Boston, 1825.
5. Mather, Reverend Cotton. Magnalia Christi Americana, i, 25. London, 1702.
In the year 1661, when the city of New Haven was a small village not much more than twenty years old, a family of boys named Sperry lived out on a farm some two or three miles west of that settlement. There was only one house then besides theirs outside the town in that direction and the woods all about were thick and wild.
That summer something mysterious was going on near the Sperry farm. Every morning Richard Sperry himself, or one of his boys, carried food, in dishes covered with a cloth, into the woods on the steep side of West Rock about a mile from the house, and left it there on a stump. Every evening he, or one of his sons, went for the empty bowls and brought them home. The boys were curious to know who had eaten the food, for they never met any one coming or going, and never saw any one up on the Rock. In reply their father told them that there were men at work in the forest near by; yet they never heard voices nor the sound of an axe, and it was only long afterward that they learned the real reason for what they had done. If one of the boys had waited long enough some morning, lying still and hidden in the bushes, he might have seen a man come slowly and cautiously through the woods toward him, a dignified, grave-looking person with something foreign in his dress, something soldierly in his bearing, as if he were accustomed to commanding others; he might have watched this stranger—so different from the people he knew—take up the dishes of food and disappear again into the dark forest. And he would have wondered why a man like that, who was evidently not a hunter and not a new settler, should be hiding in the woods around New Haven.
Twelve years before, in England, this same man had taken part in a very different scene. There was a great trial held in the stately old Hall of Westminster and the prisoner at the bar was the King of England himself, and among the fifty-nine judges who condemned him to death was the man who was now hunted for his own life and was in hiding near the Sperry farm that summer, three thousand miles away from all he loved in England.
There were nearly one hundred men who had some part, large or small, in the trial and death of King Charles the First, and all of them were in great danger eleven years later when the Royalists returned to power and his son, Charles the Second, became king. A few who had very little to do with the king's sentence were pardoned; others were seized at once, tried, condemned, and executed in the barbarous way the English law then allowed, and still others tried to escape by leaving England. Some got safely to the Continent and wandered about from one foreign city to another, trying to pass unnoticed in the crowd, and always in danger of being discovered and arrested by the messengers the English Government sent after them.
Three of them came to New England and spent some time in Connecticut. This is their story.
Early in May, 1660, a ship named the Prudent Mary lay at Gravesend near London, getting ready to sail under her master, Captain Pierce, for the colonies in the new world. Two of the regicides, General Edward Whalley and General William Goffe, had taken passage in her, but they dared not sail under their own names and they came aboard as Edward Richardson and William Stephenson. While the ship was waiting in Gravesend the new king was proclaimed. That was on Saturday, May 12. The next day General Goffe wrote in his diary,—"May 13. Wee kept Sabbath abord."
On Monday they sailed and were happy to get away from England before an order could be given for their arrest. The ships of those days were very small and the little Prudent Mary took ten weeks to make her way across the ocean, but at last Goffe wrote in his journal: "July 27. We came to anchor between Boston and Charlestown; between 8 and 9 in the morning; all in good health through the good hand of God upon us."
When the judges landed they were among friends, for most of the people in New England were of their political party. They took their own names again, called on the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony and went about freely. Goffe's diary says: "Aug. 9. Went to Boston lecture and heard Mr. Norton. Went afterwards to his house where we were lovingly entertained with many ministers and found great respects from them." And on the 26th: "We visited Elder Frost, who received us with great kindness and love."
This diary and his letters show that Goffe was sincere and religious, but his life tells us that he was brave and energetic too. He had made his own way, and both he and Whalley, who was his father-in-law, had been important men in England; they were major-generals who had fought in great battles and had taken part in great events in history. There is an old story about their skill in fencing.
"At Boston," so the story runs, "there appeared a gallant person, some say a fencing-master, who, on a stage erected for the purpose, walked for several days challenging and defying any to play with him at swords. At length one of the judges disguised in a rustic dress, holding in one hand a cheese wrapped in a napkin for a shield, with a broomstick, whose mop he had besmeared with dirty puddle water as he passed along, mounted the stage. The fencing-master railed at him for his impudence, asked what business he had there, and bade him begone. The judge stood his ground, upon which the gladiator made a pass at him with his sword to drive him off. An encounter ensued. The judge received the sword into the cheese and held it till he drew the mop of the broom over the other's mouth, and gave the gentleman a pair of whiskers. The gentleman made another pass, and plunging his sword a second time, it was caught and held in the cheese till the broom was drawn over his eyes. At a third lunge, the sword was caught again, till the mop of the broom was rubbed gently all over his face. Upon this, the gentleman let fall, or laid aside, his small sword and took up the broadsword and came at him with that, upon which the judge said, 'Stop, sir! Hitherto, you see, I have only played with you and have not attempted to hurt you, but if you come at me now with the broadsword, know that I will certainly take your life.' The firmness and determination with which he spoke struck the gentleman, who, desisting, exclaimed, 'Who can you be? You are either Goffe, Whalley, or the devil, for there was no other man in England that could beat me.'"
For seven months the two judges lived in Cambridge at the house of Major Daniel Gookin, a member of the governor's council and a fellow passenger of theirs in the Prudent Mary. They went to church on Sundays, and no doubt on "training-days" they watched the train-bands practice, for they were famous fighters themselves. But meantime the news of their being in the colonies was carried to England by a royalist named Captain Breedon, and the governor debated with his council what to do about it. He wanted to protect them, but he feared the king's displeasure might bring trouble on the colony. Before he decided, the two judges, or "the two Colonels" as they were called, finding they were not safe in Boston, left for New Haven.
This was their first journey in the new wilderness; it was winter time, and probably there was snow on the ground and hanging heavy on the trees-more snow than they had ever seen in England. Most of the road between Boston and New Haven was a trail through forests where a guide was necessary. They stopped at Hartford, were kindly received there, and reached New Haven early in March. For three weeks they were guests of the minister, Reverend John Davenport. He was their friend and is said to have preached a sermon from the text, "Hide the outcasts; betray not him that wandereth," to prepare people for their coming. Whalley's sister had once lived in New Haven and they had other friends there too. But it was very dangerous for these friends to try to protect them, and when word came that a reward had been offered in England for their arrest, the hunted judges left New Haven as they had left Boston before, pretending, this time, to go to New York. However, they only went as far as Milford and turned back secretly in the night to New Haven where the minister received them again and hid them, in his own house and in the houses of other friends, until May, when a still greater danger threatened them.
The royal order for their arrest at last reached Boston and the governor there was obliged to forward it. He gave it to two young royalists, Thomas Kellond and Thomas Kirk, and on Saturday, May 11, they arrived with it in Guilford at the house of William Leete, the Governor of the New Haven Colony. Governor Leete took the paper and began to read it aloud, hoping some one in the room would overhear it and send word to warn the judges. Kirk and Kellond interrupted him and said the paper was too important to read in public. Then they asked for horses and a search-warrant to carry with them to New Haven. It took a long time to get the horses; there was one delay after another, and the governor said he could not give them the warrant without consulting the other magistrates, but he would write a letter. It took a long time also to write the letter, and when both horses and letter were ready it was too late to start that night. The next day was Sunday and nobody was allowed to travel on Sunday in the New Haven Colony. So the messengers waited impatiently for Monday, and meantime they heard rumors that the judges had been seen in New Haven, and that Mr. Davenport must be protecting them still, because he had lately put ten pounds' worth of fresh provisions in his house; all of which made them still more impatient.
On Monday, at last, they got to New Haven, and some hours later Governor Leete followed them—very slowly—and called the magistrates together. It took the magistrates so long to decide what to do that Kellond and Kirk asked bluntly whether they meant to honor and obey the king or not. The governor answered, "We honor his Majesty, but we have tender consciences." At last a search was ordered to be made for the regicides, but Kirk and Kellond were convinced by this time that it would be useless, and they left in disgust for New York.
They were right, it was useless; for an Indian runner had come quickly from Guilford on Saturday, and Goffe and Whalley had disappeared.
Several stories are told of their narrow escapes at this time. One says they were on the Neck Bridge over Mill River on State Street when they heard the horses of their pursuers behind them and had only time to slip under the bridge and lie there hidden while the men rode over their heads. Another tells how a woman hid them in her house, in a closet whose door looked like a part of the wall with kitchen pots and pans hung on it. When they left the settlement they took refuge in the wild forest, and most of that summer they lived in a cave in a pile of boulders on the top of West Rock. The cave is there still, and is called "Judges' Cave" to-day. Richard Sperry carried food to them or sent it by one of his boys, and sometimes on very stormy nights they crept secretly down to his house and stayed with him. Once, in June, they went back to New Haven and offered to give themselves up to save their friends, if necessary, and arranged that Governor Leete should always know where to find them. Most people thought they had left the colony altogther then, but they were back in their cave on the Rock, or in some other hiding-place in the deep woods. Rewards were still offered for them and they dared not venture out. They called West Rock "Providence Hill," because God had provided for them there. And now these two men, who had led such stirring, active lives in England, lived in a great loneliness and silence, with no friends near them, no sounds but the distant crash of a falling tree, or the wind sighing in the forest branches. There were prowling Indians and prowling wild beasts. Once, so the story says, a panther crept up stealthily to the cave at night as they lay in bed and put his head in at the opening, his eyes burning in the darkness like two fires.
In August, when the search for them was pretty much over, they went to Milford. They stayed there very secretly for three years, until, in 1664, there was danger of another search being made. Then they went back to their cave on the Rock; but it was no longer a safe place for them, because "some Indians in their hunting discovered the cave with the bed," and their friends made a different plan for their concealment.
The exiles set out on another long journey. They traveled only at night, stopping and hiding in the daytime. The trail they followed led them up the valley of the Connecticut River, beyond Hartford and far into the north, until they came to what is now the town of Hadley in Massachusetts. This was then one of the farthest settlements in the wilderness and very remote and lonely. Reverend John Russell, the minister there, gave them shelter and took care of them. There was a cellar under part of his house, and, by taking up some loose boards in the floor above it, they could drop down quickly into it if visitors came unexpectedly. In spite of the danger to himself, Mr. Russell kept them safe in Hadley for twelve or fifteen years. A few friends wrote to them and sent them money, but no one else in the world outside knew what had become of them or whether or not they were still alive.
There is a famous story about one of the regicides in Hadley. Once, it says, in King Philip's War the Indians attacked the place. They burst out of the woods and rushed upon the settlement on a Sunday morning while every one was at church. Terror-stricken and thrown into wild confusion by the sight of the yelling savages the people of Hadley were helpless, when, all at once, an unknown man, with whitening hair and strange garments, appeared in the midst of them and took command. He rallied them and led them out against the Indians and drove them back into the forest. "As suddenly as he had come, the deliverer of Hadley disappeared." No one ever saw him again, and the people said God must have sent an angel to help them. Long afterward they learned that it was General Goffe.
There is not much more to tell about the judges after this. Whalley was an an old man now, and Goffe wrote to his wife, who was Whalley's daughter, "Your old friend" (he dared not say her father, and he signed himself Walter Goldsmith instead of William Goffe) "is yet living, but continues in a very weak condition and seems not to take much notice of anything that is done or said, but patiently bears all things and never complains of anything. The common and very frequent question is to know how he doth and his answer for the most part is, 'Very well, I praise God,' which he utters with a very low and weak voice."
After Whalley died, Goffe left Hadley and went to Hartford. We do not know much about him there. We know that he was still an exile with a price on his head, and still hiding. In one of his letters he says to a friend, "Dear Sir, you know my trials are considerable, but I beseech you not to interpret any expression in my letters as if I complained of God's dealing with me." His family in England had moved and he did not know their address or how to reach them, and in April, 1679, he wrote to the same friend, "I am greatly longing to hear from my poor desolate relations, and whether my last summer's letters got safe to them." What answer he received, whether he ever heard from them again, we cannot tell, for his story ends with that last letter.
The third regicide judge who came to Connecticut; was Colonel John Dixwell. He spent some time with Whalley and Goffe at Hadley and afterward lived seventeen years in New Haven. No search was ever made for him because he was supposed to have died in Europe, and he was known to almost every one in the colony as Mr. James Davids. It was only when he was on his death-bed that he allowed his real name to be told. His house stood on the corner of Grove and College Streets; he married in New Haven and had several children. He was a great friend of Reverend James Pierpont, the minister, and the story goes that they had beaten a path walking across their lots to talk over the fence and that Madame Pierpont used to ask her husband who that old man was who was so fond of living "an obscure and unnoticed life" and why he liked so much to talk with him, and he replied that "if she knew the worth and value of that old man she would not wonder at it."
Once, so it is said, Sir Edmund Andros came from Boston to New Haven and noticed on Sunday in church a dignified old gentleman with an erect and military air very different from the rest of the people, and asked who he was. He was told that it was Mr. Davids, a New Haven merchant. "Oh, no," said Andros, "I have seen men and can judge them by their looks. He is no merchant; he has been a soldier and has figured somewhere in a more public station than this." Some one warned Dixwell and he stayed away from church that afternoon.
When he died he was buried in the old burying-ground behind Center Church on the New Haven Green. In 1849, one of his descendants put up the monument to him which stands there to-day. The monument to Goffe and Whalley is the "Judges' Cave" on the top of West Rock, and three streets in New Haven are also named for the three regicide judges who came to Connecticut.
1. Hutchinson, Thomas. History of Massachusetts, Salem and Boston, 1795.
2. The Mather Papers, in Massachusetts Historical Collections, 4th series, vol. 8.
3. Dexter, F.B. Memoranda respecting Edward Whalley and William Goffe, in Papers of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, vol. 2.
4. Stiles, Ezra. A History of Three of the Judges of King Charles First. Hartford, 1794 Reprinted in Library of American History, Samuel L. Knapp, editor. New York, 1839.
5. Goffe's Diary, in Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1863-64.
6. Judd, Sylvester. History of Hadley. Introduction to edition of 1905. H.R. Huntting & Co. Springfield, 1905.
THE FORT ON THE RIVER
A boy named Lion Gardiner was born in England in 1599, toward the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was strong, active, and energetic, and as he grew up he was trained to be an engineer. Like a good many other ambitious young Englishmen of his day, he took service in the Low Countries,—that is, in what is now Holland and Belgium,—where the people were fighting against Spain for their independence. He was employed as "an engineer and master of works of fortification in the legers [camps] of the Prince of Orange."
While he was in Holland he received an offer from a group of English "Lords and Gentlemen" of the Puritan party, who were interested in colonization in America, to go to New England and construct works of fortification there. "I was to serve them," he says, "in the drawing, ordering, and making of a city, towns, or forts of defence," and "I was appointed to attend such orders as Mr. John Winthrop, Esq., should appoint, and that we should choose a place both for the convenience of a good harbour and also for capableness and fitness for fortification."
Lion Gardiner signed an agreement with them for four years at one hundred pounds, or five hundred dollars, a year and expenses paid to America for himself and his family. He was married before he left Holland and he and his wife sailed for London, July 10, 1635, in a small North Sea bark named the Batcheler. A month later they left London in the same little ship bound for Boston. The Batcheler was very small; there were only twelve men and two women on board, and these two women were Gardiner's wife, Mary Wilemson, and her maid, Eliza Coles. The voyage was rough and stormy and lasted nearly three months and a half. When they arrived in Boston on November 28, the snow was knee-deep, and the winter set in so cold and forbidding that there was some delay in carrying out the plans for the new colony. As Lieutenant Gardiner was an "expert engineer," the people of Boston were glad to take advantage of his stay with them to employ him in finishing some fortifications for them on Fort Hill.
In the spring he sailed once more on the little Batcheler for the mouth of the Connecticut River, where it had been decided to build the new fort and plant the new colony. This place was selected partly because of its good harbor, and partly because a fort here would command the entrance to this "Long, Fresh, Rich River."
The "Lords and Gentlemen" who planned this undertaking included Lord Saye and Sele, Lord Brooke, John Pym, and other well-known men in the Puritan party. They were opposed to the Government in England both in politics and religion, and at one time, when matters went strongly against their party, some of them expected to come to America. It is said that Oliver Cromwell, afterward Lord Protector of England, and John Hampden, his cousin, were among this number. It is at least true that Lieutenant Gardiner was ordered to construct "within the fort" houses suitable for "men of quality" and to erect "some convenient buildings for the receipt of gentlemen." The place was named Saybrook for Lord Saye and Sele and for Lord Brooke. It was not a colony of merchants like the New Haven Colony, nor of farmers like the Connecticut Colony; it was a military post, and it was planned as a refuge in the New World for influential men in public life in England who might be forced to leave their own country.
John Winthrop, Jr., who was to be the governor of the settlement, had sent a ship in November with carpenters and other workmen to take possession of the place and to begin building, but when Lieutenant Gardiner arrived at the mouth of the Connecticut in March, he found that not much had been done—only a few trees cut down and a few huts put up. He set to work at once and built a fort "of a kind of timber called 'a read oack,'" and across the neck of land behind the fort he built a "palisade of whole trees set in the ground."
The fort was on a point of land running out into the river just above its mouth. There were salt marshes around it, and on three sides it was protected by water. Dutch sailors had first discovered this place and called it "Kievet's Hook" from the cry of the birds (pee-wees) whom they heard there. The Dutch themselves intended to establish a trading-post here, but they were driven away by the arrival of the English.
The "Lords and Gentlemen" in England had promised to send Lieutenant Gardiner "three hundred able men" that spring, to help him; "two hundred to attend fortification, fifty to till the ground, and fifty to build houses," but they did not come and he was greatly disappointed. George Fenwick, acting as agent of the company, however, arrived to see how matters were progressing at Saybrook. Fenwick was the only one of the Puritan "gentlemen" who ever came to New England; for conditions were rapidly changing in English politics, and their party was soon engaged in a struggle with the Government that kept all its prominent leaders at home. But although Lion Gardiner was left without enough workmen and with few supplies, he made the most of his resources, and his little fort, built under such difficulties, soon became an important place because of the protection it gave to the planters against the Indians.
He was scarcely established at Saybrook before trouble broke out with the Pequots, a large and powerful tribe of Indians. There were wrongs and misunderstandings on both sides, and at last the Pequots murdered Captain Stone, a Virginia trader, in his boat on the Connecticut River, and most of the party with him. Not long after this John Oldham, a Massachusetts trader, was killed on Block Island. These and other outrages led the Massachusetts Colony to demand satisfaction of the Pequots and the surrender of the murderers. Lieutenant Gardiner, in his exposed position, felt that a war just then would be a mistake, and he sent a protest to the magistrates of Massachusetts to "entreat them to rest awhile, till we get more strength here about," he said, "and provide for it; for I have but twenty-four in all, men, women, and boys and girls, and not food for them for two months unless we save our cornfield, which could not be if it came to war for it is two miles from our house. I know, if you make war with these Pequots, myself with these few you will leave at the stake to be roasted or for hunger to be starved; for Indian corn is now twelve shillings per bushel and we have but three acres planted. War is like a three-footed stool; want one foot and down comes all, and these three feet are men, victuals, and munition; therefore, seeing in peace we are like to be famished, what will be done in war? Wherefore I think it will be best only to fight against Captain Hunger."
But the Massachusetts people did not take his advice. Instead, they sent out an expedition under Captain Endecott, to punish the Pequots. This expedition burnt the Indian wigwams and cornfields on Block Island, and also in the Pequot country near the mouth of the Pequot, or Thames, River; and Captain Endecott and his soldiers came to Saybrook Port and made that place their headquarters, "to my great grief," said Gardiner, "for you come hither to raise these wasps about my ears and then you will take wing and flee away."
His prophecy came true, for the expedition returned to Boston without having accomplished anything except to enrage the Indians still further and to make the position of the little garrison at the fort more difficult than ever.
Even before this they had found it dangerous to trade with the Indians. About the time that Gardiner sent his protest to Massachusetts, a Saybrook man, Thomas Hurlburt, had a narrow escape from death in the Pequot country, where he had gone with a trading party, and he was only saved by the kindness and compassion of an Indian woman. He stepped into the sachem's wigwam to inquire about some stolen horses. While he was there, the Indians having for some reason left him alone for a moment, the sachem's wife, Wincumbone, came back and made signs to him secretly that the men were planning to kill him. "He drew his sword," ran to his companions, and barely got aboard the boat in time.
"This caused me," says Lieutenant Gardiner, "to keep watch and ward, for I saw that they plotted our destruction."
From this time on the fort was almost besieged by Indians who lay in ambush around it, watching and waiting for a chance to attack any of the garrison who might venture out.
One day two men were "beating samp at the Garden Pales," not far from the fort, when the sentinels called to them to run in quickly because a number of Pequots were creeping up to catch them. "I, hearing it," says Gardiner, "went up to the redoubt and put two cross-bar shot into the two guns that lay above, and levelled them at the trees in the middle of the limbs and boughs. The Indians began a long shout, and then the two great guns went off and divers of them were hurt."
These "two great guns" were two pieces, of three inches each, by which the fort was defended.
"After this," writes Gardiner, "I immediately took men and went to our cornfield to gather our corn, appointing others to come with the shallop [the boat] and fetch it, and I left five lusty men in the strong house I had built for the defense of the corn. Now, these men, not regarding the charge I had given them, three of them went a mile from the house, a-fowling; and having loaded themselves with fowl, they returned. The Pequots let them pass first, till they had loaded themselves, but at their return they arose out of their ambush and shot all three; one of them escaped through the corn, shot through the leg, the other two they tormented."