More on the Civil War

It has been some time since I wrote about anything. The research has been heavy and we are getting ready for our annual meeting, which will be about the War of 1812, and we are trying to find out the men from Killingly who served in that war. It is not easy to do as in the official book put out by the State of Ct. on this war they did list the men but not the town they came from. So, two of us have been working on this practically non-stop for weeks now and it has been very time consuming.

Also, as this is the historical societies 40th anniversary, we wanted to do a special project that will be on-going. We are going through some of our cemeteries to look for veterans stones (of all wars) to see if they still have their flag holders and flags. Many of the holders have been stolen to be turned in as scrap metal for cash. When we are finished with the survey we will then order as many flag holders as we need and make sure they are put out at the grave site.

While we are doing this we are noting other stones that may be broken, laying down, tilted or gone. As time goes on we want to fix the broken ones, and set up the ones tilted or laying down. It is quite a project. Every year we will do more.

One of our members and I are going through the New Westfield Cemetery and that is quite a job as it is a large cemetery and only part of it was mapped back in 1928. Many more stones have been put up since then and we have to map the rest of the cemetery.

So, I am going to put out more of the letters from our book “Dear Transcript” letters from the men of Windham County who served in the Civil War. I hope you enjoy them.

2 Oct. 1862
From
The Eighth Regiment
Near
Sharpsburg, Md., Sept. 17th
Frank W. Spaulding

Dear Transcript: It is a painful task for me to describe the events of this day, and want of time forbids my giving a detailed account of the positions occupied by the contending forces. Early in the morning shot and shell from the enemies batteries came crashing through our ranks, and bursting over our heads. Our loss during the fire was four killed and several wounded. Our own batteries getting into position, soon silenced those of the enemy. About 4 o’clock P.M., we were ordered to the front, and again greeted by a furious fire of shot and shell to which our artillery gallantly responded. In the midst of the murderous fire General Rodman perceiving the enemy’s infantry preparing to advance upon us, ordered his division forward. The first Brigade, consisting of Hawkin’s Zouaves; the 89th and 103d New York Regiments, briskly ascended the hill, and received a terrible fire from three rebel brigades, who stationed behind fences and stone walls were completely sheltered. No troops could withstand such fire as was directed against them. Now came the order for the 2nd Brigade, consisting of the 4th R.I., and 16th, 11th, and 8th Connecticut to advance. The 16th Conn., 4th R.I. were sent to the left through a cornfield, and the gallant old 8th, alone and without support, followed in the wake of the 1st Brigade. As we reached the brow of the hill we looked for those that preceded us, but they had been compelled to retire. Now commenced a work of death and destruction which can neither be fully imagined or described. Grape and canister with thousands of bullets, mowed down our noble fellows, who scorning to retire stood up manfully to their work making every shot tell a tale of woe. The men fell on every side. Never was a more destructive fire directed upon one regiment than we sustained for twenty minutes. General Rodman gave the order to retire, but we had never yet turned our backs to the foe and we refused to do it now. Col. Appelman being wounded, also Gen. Rodman, Col. Harland trying to rally the 16th, the command devolved upon Major Ward. “Then will you follow me?” was his personal appeal, and rallying around the colors, stepping as fast as we could load and fire, we retired from the field. The Regiment lost in killed, wounded, and missing, 200 men out of 360 engaged.

16 Oct. 1862

The Battle Of Antietam

The following short but graphic description of the battle of Antietam, we clip from a letter in an exchange:–

“I don’t believe that there has been anything on this earth to compare with it since Waterloo. From sun to sun, twelve mortal hours, it was like hell broke loose. The darkness of Egypt from the dense choking smoke, relieved by thousands of sheets of red flame bursting out in every direction; the rifles rattling with a second’s cessation, like a bunch of crackers on the 4th; the five hundred cannon on both sides blending their discharges like the waves of the sea in one uninterrupted roar, that literally kept the ground vibrating like an earthquake; the infernal screaming of the shells, as if a thousand demons were hovering in the pitchy air overhead, the peculiar serpent like zing! zing! of the murderous Minnies, as they “toyed with your locks,” as the poets say; the short, sudden screams of the wounded all around you, and the deep prolonged groans of those who fell to rise no more; the hoarse shouting of officers; the yelling, cursing and hurrahing of whole square miles of men, black with powder and sweat, reeking with blood, and frantic with passion, made up a scene to which anything else in the world is flat, tame and expressionless.”

The following article (one of 17) was written by James F. Wilkinson, after he returned home from being a prisoner for a year. If you remember he was the editor of the Putnam part of the Windham County Transcript and had enlisted in April 1861 with the Buckingham Rifles of Norwich right away, was wounded at the first battle of Bull Run in July 1861 and taken prisoner. He was finally released in July of 1862.

30 Oct. 1862

Life Among The Rebels No. 16

At Salisbury, J. F. Wilkinson

The unchanging rations of sour bread and fat pork began to show their effects during the last weeks of our stay at Salisbury. There were numerous severe cases of scurvy among the prisoners, and there were but few among the entire number who had not the first symptoms of the complaint. Remedies were not to be had, and all looked forward to the time when the hot months would, in the language of the surgeon of the post, “make us die like rotten sheep.”

6 Nov. 1862
The
Editor writes:

We would urge upon the knitters of Windham County the necessity of taking immediate measures to supply the soldiers with mittens. Those made with a thumb and forefinger will be most useful, as with them, a musket can be handled as readily as with a glove.

27 Nov. 1862
Twenty-Sixth
Regiment
written on 21
Nov. 1862
E.
R. K. = Edwin Ruthven Keyes, Pomfret
Camp
Buckingham, Centreville Race Course, East N. Y., L. I.

Editor Transcript:– Our Colonel said to the regiment, that the food dealt out to human beings, was not such as government designed we should have, and paid for. Let me give you a little of the arrangement. Some one had contracted to supply us our rations cooked. They are cooked in large kettles. Potatoes are put in without washing; meat, ditto; cabbage, lice or no lice; beans without picking over, accompanied by rats or no rat-tails, and so on to the end of the chapter. But like loyal sons, as we are, we put it down, shutting our eyes and asking no questions for conscience’s sake, remembering it is all for our dear country.
                                            8 Jan. 1863
From
The Eighteenth
Havre
de Grace, Dec. 31st, 1862
Transcript
Detachment = Moses Hallock, Danielsonville

Dear Transcript:– An incident, of a rather startling character, took place on the evening of the 29th, though we were not fully aware of it till the next morning. Mr. Taylor, of Sterling, came out on a visit to his two sons in this company, accompanied by Miss Philena Ladd, a young lady of their acquaintance. It so happened that the old gentleman, William A. Taylor, one of his boys, the young lady and our chaplain were all in a room together, and the consequence was that before the party broke up it was acknowledged that

Whoever says our chaplain’s bad
Is nothing but a railer:
Into that room she went—a Ladd,
He brought her out—a Taylor.

On the next evening the bridegroom—who is our room-mate—“came down” with a pail full of good elder and a large pan of apples, flanked with a bunch of cigars, and these, mixed with singing, extempore speeches, toasts, &c., caused the evening to pass pleasantly and quickly. For the newly wedded pair we wish a long life and a happy one, and may their children be like the blessings of God—neither few nor small.

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Genealogy Pitfalls and Frustrations

Genealogy pitfalls and frustrations.

I have been working on genealogy for a client once again, and even though I have written about mistakes in published records before, I thought it was not a bad thing to bring it up again.

I do use the internet for some of my research but always verify it through primary sources. I had gotten this Button family all done and it seemed to be alright. But when I checked a marriage record in the vital records it made me do some serious thinking about what I had found on the internet. The marriage record in 1755 said that Anne Button was of Voluntown, CT when she married in Stonington, CT in 1755 to Simeon Park, and the actual record is in the Canterbury, CT Vital Records.

So went looking to see if an Anne Button was born in Voluntown and sure enough there was one born in 1733. Now the information I had was that Anne Button was born in Windham, CT in 1727 a daughter of Daniel. That would have made her 3 years older than her husband and 49 years of age at the birth of her last child. I went to see if there was a Button genealogy on-line and I found one. Well, that just added to the puzzle because in that they had that Anne was the daughter of Daniel and born in Windham in 1727 and supposedly married Simeon Park. But later on in the same book they linked Anne born in 1733 to Simeon Park with all their children. And the Anne born in 1727 was not linked to anyone.

At the moment I am giving it a rest and sleeping on it. The Anne born in 1733 makes a lot more sense as it would make her 43 at the birth of her last child. And seeing as Simeon was born in 1730 she is a better fit for him.

I will definitely do some more checking on this before I am comfortable with it. In fact, I am going to see if there are some probate records for these Button men. If that fails, then it is time to look at land records.

I have also been finding that people put dates and places out there on the “net” but they do not list any sources and when I look for those records in the towns, they just don’t exist. In the case of deaths they could be from a gravestone record or even a family record. As I am working mostly with Massachusetts and Connecticut records it is a bit easier to prove as when Massachusetts started publishing their town vital records to 1850 they included family records and gravestone records in the compilation. In Connecticut we have the Hale Collection of Gravestone records and the Barbour Collection of vital records. If I don’t find them in any of those then I have no idea where the person found their information.

Of course, many good articles have been written over the years, and even though I have access to a lot of those, there are still some that I can’t find. And perhaps the information is from some of those articles.

The Bennett family is also giving me fits. Because there were just about no births recorded from the time of the Revolutionary War to about 1850 it leaves a huge gap when trying to find parents for people. This is what is happening with the Bennett family. Usually you can find a land record or two where a father is giving land to children or there is some connection between siblings. But in this case, I have not found any. In the land records I found for Charles Bennett there is no relationship mentioned when another Bennett sold him land. He is the administrator of one Ezra Bennett, and coincidentally that same man was the one who sold him one half of a shingling mill. The other half of the same mill was sold to him by a Sanford Bennett. Were Sanford & Ezra brothers? The only sibling that I can find for Charles was a Hiram who married and died in a year or two. Charles was the administrator on his estate also.

These are the pitfalls of doing genealogy only on the internet, but it also shows that published records can have mistakes in them also. I have always believed that there is an answer to be found for these difficult research problems. Maybe not right away, in fact, it may be years before it all gets solved. But isn’t that the fun of genealogy? The hunting for the answers is what makes it all so much fun. Sitting at home and printing everything off the internet and saying you have done your genealogy is just so boring. Where is the fun in that? Where is the pride in a job well done? It’s exciting to visit libraries and town halls digging up information and when you find that tidbit you have been looking for, for so long, you just want to holler YIPEE and share it with everyone around you.

How many times people come to our research library and at the end of the day they find out that the person that has been sitting across from them all day is actually related to them! That happens more often than you would think. It is indeed a small world.

So, if at all possible, do your research at the source. You will be very glad you did.

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Wildlife

Wildlife

A beautiful Good Friday but the wind is very cold. Been typing data into a genealogy database that I am working on for a client. And as I work at the computer a big window is right in front of me so I can look out at the woods and see the wildlife that run around out there. This morning the fox came through again. He has been hanging around for a few months and a few days ago we saw him running down the middle of the road. Now, he is not a red fox, nor a tan fox. He is a golden color and his tail has a lot of dark in it. All four legs are black. So, perhaps he is the result of parents being of both colors, red and tan.

If someone knows of a fox like this please let us know.

We have had too many squirrels over the years who chew holes in the house and raid the bird feeders, and no matter how many you trap and move we know that there will never be a shortage of them. We’ve also seen more red squirrels the past winter and I think some of the gray and red have mixed it up as some grays have a very distinctive red fur on their backs.

Had a meeting the other night and afterwards we had a discussion about the chipmunks, squirrels and mice that have invaded just about everyone’s property in large quantities. It would be alright if they were not destructive but they do a lot of damage. The mice love to get into vehicles, leave nuts and seeds there, chew the insulation and the wires which is very annoying to have to replace all the time. When you are driving down the road and a mouse suddenly pops up in front of you on the dashboard, that can be a bit disconcerting and could cause an accident. Anyway, there were many suggestions on how to control the pests and we had some good laughs.

We have coyotes around and the rabbit population is just about wiped out here. We have not seen a one this spring. For some reason during last fall and winter (what winter?) there were a lot of skunks out and about and we had one walk by my library window every night and leave his scent behind. Gave us a good reason not to walk outside at night if we didn’t have to cause you do not want to get mixed up with a skunk! Our oldest son and his dog surprised one in the barn one morning! It was not a pretty sight or smell. The poor dog didn’t know what to do and she was definitely relegated to outside until the smell went away which was not quick. No matter what you wash them with the smell lingers, and lingers, and lingers.

Because of our mild winter we did not have many birds come to the feeders but now they are making up for lost time. I wonder if the rose-breasted grosbeak will come early this year? They are so beautiful. The male goldfinches are turning yellow now and they are so pretty. Saw the Carolina Wren one day but have not heard her sing. The hawks are working on their nest up in the high tree behind us. This will be the third year we have had them nesting there. I am surprised we have any birds at all. They are voracious eaters when they are raising their young. In fact, they catch frogs all the time and our frog population is not what it once was and all those good old bullfrogs are not around to do their “Juggerrum” at night. And the hawks are very noisy!!!!

What has this all got to do with history? Absolutely nothing. Just felt like writing about nature around us today. Maybe reminiscing with my sister this morning did the trick. How different it was growing up in the ’40’s and ’50’s. Actually we have decided that we had the best growing up time of anyone.

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Old Newspaper Items

Old Newspaper Items

The old newspapers, as I have mentioned before, are really goldmines of information if you want to know what it was like in the mid to late 1800’s. So will put a few things here that I thought you might like.

In the Windham County Transcript of 5 Jan. 1881 is a little story about irrascible Colonel Malbone of Brooklyn, Ct. who had no patience with fools even if they were aristocratic fools. Miss Ellen Larned in her History of Windham County wrote this about him: “An aristocratic kinswoman expressed her desire that there might be “a place fenced off in Heaven for servants and common people, it would be so disagreeable to be mixed up with everybody!” “And I,” roared the disgusted Colonel, “hope there’ll be a place fenced off in Hell for d_____d fools!” A listener who not long since heard a would-be-high-toned young lady find fault with a dealer in this village (Danielsonville), because a special assortment of fancy goods was not kept for “ladies,” and “something cheaper and less elegant for working girls,” mentally borrowed the explosive utterance of Col. Malbone with slight variations. That young woman will be likely to find something cheaper and less elegant portioned off for herself in the other world if she doesn’t get rid of some of her selfish shallowness and abominable vanity before she gets there.

In the 16 Sept. 1880 paper there are two wife notices:

Whereas my wife, Addie E. Tucker, has left my bed and board, I forbid all persons harboring or trusting her on my account after this 15^th day of Sept. 1880. W. A. Tucker, E. Killingly

I hereby forbid all persons harboring or trusting my wife, Mary E. Burdick, on my account, after this date, as she has left my bed and board without suitable provocation. Alexander S. Burdick, Plainfield, Ct. 1 Sept. 1880.

Then in the 2 Feb. 1881 I find this:

When a woman leaves a man who has not earned his salt for years, he immediately advertises that he will pay no debts of her contracting.–Phil. News.

Have noticed in some of our old papers that they publish the Court Record and in some of them are divorces. Was not going to pay much attention to them as we have the published books on Divorces in Windham County and other counties in Conn. But when I started to really look at them in the paper found that in some cases the woman took back her maiden name and it says so and what it is. But the published books do not have that information. So will put together these little divorce tidbits so we all have access to them. And in some papers in the 1880’s I have been going through I see divorces but nothing in the published books about them.

As I have said before we are not perfect people so the way I look at it we can fix published records that are wrong or add to what we find by typing up the new information and putting it on the shelf at the historical society. It helps everyone.

Oh, that reminds me, I was looking for a gravestone for Charles Bennett in the Bennett Cemetery in Canterbury. There was one but he died in 1830! I needed one much later. Well, when I went to the Town Hall in Canterbury and found Charles death record in 1890 I knew exactly what happened. The person reading the gravestones back in the early 1930’s read 3 for a 9. And with early carving it is very easy to do. Anyway, problem solved.

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Civil War

It’s been awhile since I put out anything on the Civil War so thought it was time. These excerpts are taken from our book “Dear Transcript.”
From the Windham County Transcript of 22 May 1862 –
From a member of Co. A, from Putnam.
The Sixth Regiment
Camp Veilie, Dawfuskie Island, May 1, ’62
Editor Transcript:– Undoubtedly you have heard all about our trip to “Warsaw.” The composer of these verses is not a poet by profession, and perhaps your readers may not fully appreciate their meaning; but those that went to Warsaw can if they happen to see them. There is more truth than poetry in them. But without further ceremony, I will write them. They are entitled—
CRACKERS AND PORK.
At morn, when reveille is beat,
And we are dressed, and on our feet;
What is it that our eyes do meet?
Crackers and Pork.

With what do we our stomachs fill
At noon—directly after drill—
And some take hold with right good will?
Crackers and Pork.

And when on guard, with heavy head,
We walk our beat, with noiseless tread,
What is it, with, we all are fed:
Crackers and Pork.

When on fatigue, with weary tread,
We march to camp with dizzy head,
What is it that we mostly dread?
Crackers and Pork.

Why are the hospitals running o’er
With lame and lazy, sick and sore;
And why are they making room for more?
All for–Crackers and Pork.

Why those slabs, and little mounds?
Why that drum’s dull and muffled sound?
Why do friends lie here beneath the ground?
All for—Crackers and Pork.

When the long roll routs us from our bed,
And bullets whistle round our heads,
What is it, more than these we dread?
Crackers and Pork.

When victory shall our efforts crown,
The Union Safe, and free from harm,
We’ll remember how we swallowed down
Crackers and Pork.
Perhaps some may say—“Well, that wasn’t very bad, I’m sure; plenty of nice crackers and good sweet pork.” Those that talk like that don’t know anything about it. The pork I can’t describe. The crackers—I call them crackers, but it is altogether too good a name for them—resemble maple bark or black birch, dried nearly as hard as the wood itself, more than anything else, though there was not near so much flavor in them. And yet, bad as they were, we could not get more than half what we wanted to keep soul and body together.

I wish we knew the name of the man who wrote the above poem. It is a great one and he should have gotten the credit. Love the humor that was evident even though it was certainly not a humorous time. And we had some hard tack at the program we did when the book came out. It is awful!!!!

The following three letters may interest you and hope that you get some insight into what it was like during the battles. I paraphrased them so they were not so long. The second one gives names of some of the deserters from Windham County. Why include them? Because that is also an important part of war, like it or not. Whether they came back in or if they were picked up, I don’t know. Don’t have the CT official Civil War book here.

3 July 1862
After the disastrous battle near Charleston
Henry Glines writes to his parents, in this village, an interesting account of the battle, from which we make the following extract:

“We were obliged to go over fields planted with cotton and corn at ‘double quick’, to get into the field where the battery was. I was so much exhausted I could hardly walk. When we came in sight of the rebel pickets they run towards the battery yelling like crazy men. The 79th New York were in advance, and we were the second regiment. When within forty rods of the battery they opened on us with grape, canister and shot, and many of our men fell. Some of the boys went on to the parapet but never returned.” I had a shot at the rebels and they said I dropped one of them. Both of our color sergeants were shot down, and our flag was riddled with shot. Capt. Hitchcock was killed, a Lieutenant in Co. D was shot in the leg and bled to death. A soldier at my side had his rifle struck with a grape shot and smashed to pieces. The shot fell about me like rain, and I thought I had seen my last day. Our troops could not stand such a fire and retreated in good order. I never left the field until all the troops were off, save a few, that were in the swamp. I met one of our company and he said Andrew Hibbard was left on the field wounded. Thomas Elliot and myself returned and found him. There was not a person in sight on the field. He was struck below the knee by a shot which completely shattered it. We started for the hospital with our wounded companion and made a good mark for the rebels. They let rifle shot and grape fly at us, and the bullets whistled by our heads, but we heeded them not. We carried Hibbard two miles to the Brigade hospital, but he died a few hours after we got there. He was a brave soldier.

10 July 1862
From The Fifth Regiment
Front Royal, Va., June 17th, 1862
M. F. B. = Marcus F. Bennett
Friend Stone:–I am sorry to say we have lost from our company, 9 men by desertion (I blush to admit) from Windham County. The names of the deserters from Windham County are John Miller, Frank F. Falkner, Minor Spicer, Killingly; H. A. Stafford, Albert Stafford, Central Village; Benj. R. Case, Woodstock; William Holt, Moosup; Martin Ethridge, Woodstock; B. S. Rouse, Central Village.

24 July 1862
Battle of Richmond
The following extract is from a letter received in this village from G. P. Nettleton, who is also in the 1st Conn. Artillery:
“We have fought several hard battles as severe as ever fought with artillery. The first one lasted all one day. We silenced their batteries twice. The rebels were in the woods so we could not have a very good chance at them. Henry Copeland was wounded in the back by a piece of shell, and he is the only one injured in our company (D). Most of their balls passed over or fell short of us. At night we moved our guns back about a mile for safety. About 8 o’clock they opened upon us with artillery and musketry, and the balls whistled a little nearer than was desirable. Our batteries replied till infantry could reach them. Regiment after regiment passed us on “double quick.” Our Major had command of our company and Co. B, and we soon followed into an open field where we laid flat while the balls were passing harmlessly over us. We were in this position till 12 o’clock, being on the ground several hours, after which we returned to our guns. I had a narrow escape. While lying down I fell asleep, and a musket ball struck within an inch of my head, so near that it covered my head with dirt—but a miss is as good as a mile. The place where we just had the battle is called Cold Harbor.

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Stone Walls

Stone walls

New England is known for all the stone walls that thread their way through the woods and along the roads. Why are they in the woods? Because these woods were once fields that the farmers had cleared of trees and rocks and the numerous rocks were used to build walls to mark the borders of their fields and also to keep animals in. At first they used wood to build fences but then with so much stone it seemed like a good idea to build fences with them. And why are there so many stones? The glaciers probably had more to do with it than anything else. When they receded they were left behind. And we all know that with the freezing and thawing of the ground each year it moves stones to the top so there seem to be a never ending supply of them. Just ask any farmer who plows or harrows a field how many stones are there.

You may notice that in some places there are stone walls about the width of a roadway apart and it could be the farmer used that pathway to get to his fields or home. But in some instances they were part of a stagecoach road. When I was in 1^st & 2^nd grade and going to the two room school house, we hung a May basket for the teacher. And then ran down in back and onto a cleared path through the woods with a wall on each side. Of course that was off school property and we did get a talking to about going off school property but were never punished for it. It was not until I was an adult that I found out that it really was a road — the stagecoach road that came up Tan Yard hill, past the school and on up the next hill and beyond.

Last year I was at a program about the Civil War called King Cotton. It was very interesting. The north needed the cotton in order to keep the mills running and so did everything they could to get it through the blockades. But one thing that was said that I do not agree with, is that all the stone walls we have were built by slaves. There were slaves in Connecticut. That is a fact. But, they were owned by the wealthier people, not the average person, and most farmers were not wealthy. People tended to have large families and the sons would help their father clear the land of trees and rocks in order to plant crops. They had to do something with all the rocks they took out, so it made sense to build “fences” using the stones. Now we all know that most of our stones are not conducive to building walls. They are mostly round or odd shapes and it amazes me that they put them together in such a way that the wall would stand, made without mortar, and still be here today. They were artisans for sure. We have some beautiful walls that were made by professionals but most of what we see when we ride along our roads were made by farmers.

So, as you ride through New England notice the beauty of the stone walls that have stood for hundreds of years and were built by ordinary folk like you and I. And try sometime to build a wall. It will give you a great appreciation for what these ordinary folk could do with the round odd shaped stones of New England.

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Trees in the 1800’s or the lack thereof…

When I wrote the addendum to Half Hill earlier today it made me think about what they could see because there were few trees to block the view. We New Englanders are used to seeing lots of trees, at least in my lifetime, 1941 and up. And we are so surprised to hear that back in the early 1800’s, from Boston to New York, it was just about treeless. Hard to imagine isn’t it? Oh, they had woodlots but not the forests we have today. Why? Well, they cut the trees to build their houses, barns and other buildings, and also to heat and cook their food, year round. They cleared the fields so they could plant crops to feed their livestock and themselves. No convenience store just around the corner!

  And way back then most people didn’t have the money to buy things in a store. They bartered for what they needed, made it or raised it themselves or did without.

So for 150 years they cut down trees for their own use. And I don’t think they were planting seedlings like we do now for future use.
Then the mills came along and they were mostly of wood. Towns sprung up around the mill sites and more houses and other buildings were built. Mostly of wood. And they had to be heated, with wood of course.

Then in 1839/40 the Norwich & Worcester railroad came through here. In order to lay the tracks they need ties, which of course meant cutting down more trees. And in order to run the engines what did they use?? You guessed it – Wood. So, you can see that the forests that had been here were being quickly depleted.
When the train engines switched to burning coal it eased up on the need for wood. And more of the mills were being built of brick or stone.

The editor of the paper from 1859 to mid-1890’s, John Q. A. Stone, pushed for planting trees in Danielsonville (as it was called then) and surrounding area.

In the 29 June 1848 issue of the Windham County Telegraph (the name before it was changed to the Transcript by John Q. A. Stone) is a tidbit about Mr. Turner of the Danielsonville Cash Store, having an eye to the cool comforts of this life– has in the absence of much needed shade trees—thrown a beautiful awning across the walk, opposite his store. The new awning makes the “Cash store” a perfect oasis in the desert about the Depot.

In the 11 May 1865 issue of the paper we find this: Trees—We have never known so many trees planted in this section in one season as during the present Spring, and we are pleased to chronicle the fact. A few dollars expended in this way will pay a large interest. Every man who has a piece of land will do well to see that it is occupied with trees and grape vines, currant bushes, &c. for they will grow while he sleeps. Nothing adds more to the beauty of a dwelling, than trees and shrubbery, tastefully arranged, and owners of real estate cannot better invest a few dollars than in this way.

Then in the 21 Sept. 1871 issue this: Mr. Isaac Hyde, now a resident of California, who formerly lived in Danielsonville, after an absence of twenty years, revisited this place last week. Arriving in the evening, he was completely lost, so greatly has the appearance of the village changed in the past two decades. Inquiring for the street that led to Westfield, he discovered he was walking upon that thoroughfare. When he was here, there were no trees, and but very few buildings.

If you look at photo’s from that time period it is very obvious that there were few trees.

And I am glad that today we do have those wonderful trees that not only shade us but make our surroundings beautiful and supply oxygen for us to breathe.

I have been noticing for awhile now how young the trees are in the woods along I-395 and other roads and realize that I do not remember what it was like before the trees grew in. It had to be open fields for the most part. Things happen so gradually that we don’t even notice it. Even the woods in back of our house where our boys played has filled in. No more children running and playing keeping the brush and trees at bay.

It just seems like we should have noticed these things happening. Maybe we are all too busy and have no time to appreciate our surroundings. That is sad! Time to slow down and smell the roses as they say.

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Half Hill addendum

As with all things we do, nothing is perfect. And after I had written
the article about Half Hill and was picking up my paper mess in here,
didn’t I find another small tidbit on Half Hill that I thought was worth
putting at least a bit of it on here.
It was in our old paper, the Windham County Transcript, issue of 22
June 1887. It’s too bad that they did not sign articles they wrote.
In any case, the person says it is one of the most sightly locations in
Windham county. The way they got to Half Hill back then was to take a
path just west of the Old Furnace, crossing Fall brook. But the next
part just amazes me. The person talks about the magnificent view from
the top. “The observer can see way up into Massachusetts, and also has
at a glance the whole of Danielsonville, Dayville, Pomfret, and many
surrounding towns, and the railroad from Putnam to Willimantic is quite
visible to the eye.”
Well, from personal experience of being on top of that hill the
other day, you can see a lot, but it is all woods!!! You cannot see a
thing that this person mentions! So, guess there were very few trees
even at that time.
Thanks for taking time to read my little tidbits.

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Half Hill (Ross’ Cliff)

A beautiful warm, sunny Sunday. I have wanted to write about Half Hill
for some time but thought that it would be great fun to actually walk up
and see for myself what it is like. So 5 of us went for a walk this
morning and it was well worth it. It is beautiful! And I will go again.
We have our old papers and the first time I saw an article about it was in the 24 May 1849 issue of our paper and it summed up very well why in the almost 49 years I have lived in this area and never visited it. “It’s very proximity perhaps leads you to think it of no consequence. We are too apt to think that “that which costs us little is worth little.”
There are a number of ways to climb it and the paths are there.
Trust me, at almost 71, I did not climb the face of it. But three of
us went around the outside path up to the top and it was really, really
neat. Two more adventuresome, younger folks, took another path that had
a bit more climbing over rocks. We “met in the middle” at the top.
I am glad we had the camera with us.
In this early newspaper article it says that they ascended it from
the west, so there must have been a different way back then. To quote
the article “You ascend gradually from the west until you have attained
a considerable elevation, and seem just to have reach the summit of the
hill, when of a sudden, with nothing to give you an idea of what is
before, you find yourself upon the brink of a precipice, nearly
perpendicular, deep as the base of the hill. In fact, the whole eastern
half of the hill seems by some tremendous convulsion to have been
removed. You look for it and see it not, for it is not, and in its
place is a low moist meadow, extending nearly to the base of the rock
upon which you stand, and flowing near the foot of the steep is a stream
affording a site for a small mill.”
We thought we had gotten to the highest point and waited for our
friends but then my hubby decided to walk further on a downward path and
it actually came to an even better vantage point. Seeing as I do not
like heights you will not get me to the huge rocks on the edge. But
there are places to sit on the rocks away from the edge and enjoy the
view. The description in the paper is thus: “The ledge extends about
three fourths of a mile, and in the highest part about two hundred fifty
feet in height-representing beautifully a transverse section of the hill.”
The article goes on to talk about the passage through the rock,
called the “Devil’s Cartpath.” This is an opening of the rock near the
highest part of the precipice affording a passage from below to the
summit, but few feet in width with the rock standing perpendicularly
upon each side. The “path” rises at perhaps an elevation of forty five
degrees, and of course requires considerable effort to ascend it.
In the 7 Sept. 1881 newspaper another article is written and
describes the scene at that time from the summit: “Looking down at our
feet everything seems diminutive. A tiny horse and carriage is hitched
to a bush whose trunk is really that of a lofty tree. These broad acres
are cut into such little squares! The cornfields are so meagre! The
farm-houses are pressed into such small, white spots on a cloth of green. ”
There are no fields or farm houses now. The woods have taken over
now. There is still a brook and the ponds are there.
To quote further: “We creep to the edge of the cliff and dare to
look over it down the abyss. And what a strange sight! There, perched
on an overhanging shelf of rock, half way down, are three owls, clinging
and hooting, and flapping their broad wings as they try to gaze with
round, full eyes at the invasion.”
Looks like they interrupted their shut-eye!!!
To quote further: “Our downward gaze now detects the silvery thread
of a brooklet that gurgles by, and on its banks the few remaining
weather-beaten timbers of a saw-mill, showing that activity once ruled
this quiet scene. There is the mill race and the large wooden shaft,
form which crop out the broken and rotted stumps of the floats of the
water-wheel, and at its end the cam, which changed the circular motion
of the wheel into the linear motion of the saw. But miller and mill
have done their work and passed down the stream forever.”
Then in the 16 Dec. 1891 newspaper is the story of The Rock Fall at
Half Hill. “A successful attempt was made on Monday to dislodge and
precipitate from the crest of the precipice of Half Hill a huge flat
rock that partially over-hung the cliff.”
Many families were gathered near “the flume” to watch this feat.
“The rock lay upon the verge of the cliff, which rises shear some
fifty feet from the slope that at a sharp angle falls thence to the bed
of the stream which formerly fed the wheel of ‘The Old Mill.” The rock
was some 20 feet 6 inch in width and 3 feet thick. They used
jack-screws and “these applied with mechanical purchase, the great slab
toppled over the brown of the precipice and landed wedge-wise out of
sight into the trees and rubbish. It was a great disappointment, as we
had hoped to see it bound, shivered and shivering in a great crash and
with the sound of thunder.”
But, wait, they were not done. The catastrophe should be had.
“Finding a ledge part way down the cliff where a shoulder of rock gave
opportunity for purchase by a jack-screw, Dr. Hyde was lowered with a
rope, and applied the force to push off what seemed the fact of the
cliff. He sat on a small, saddle-like projection which clinging to the
rope with one hand, (the rope that was tied to the jack-screw), he began
to open its invincible jaws. A block of some fifteen feet in length
started, and set free a drift of the ledge, yawning beneath and about
the dauntless engineer, who, clinging to his rope, seemed to see the
whole mountain going under his feet. White faces peered over the cliff
above, and nervy hands held the rope, expecting each moment to see the
Doctor hurled to destruction. But calm as in his office he sat and
surveyed the awful convulsion he had precipitated.”
It must have been something to see and hear as they go on: But of
the fearful crash! Tons of rock rolled away from the face of the
precipitous cliff and fell in solid mass, till striking, shivering,
splintering on the steep declivity below they poured an avalanche upon
rocks and trees, sweeping all before them, and leaving a desert of rock
behind; while far above rolled the smoke of the awful torment in the
clouds of dust.”
There are a lot of rocks at the base and there are more splintering
off with the freezing and thawing each year.
Most of these men involved in this attempt were business men,
doctors, and ministers. Dr. Hyde was a dentist.
The ladies in carriages below watched the goings on (but the horses
were taken out in event of the awful crash). Okay, save the horses,
and kill the ladies! Too funny!
There have been a number of people killed by falling from this
height. Hope you liked this story about Half Hill.

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How many of you know that the Tiffany whose name is synonymous with the famous Tiffany Stained Glass was a descendant of the Tiffany family who came to Killingly in the early 1800’s?  Comfort Tiffany came to Killingly and in 1810 became one of the original investors in the Danielson Manufacturing Company.  Comfort operated the company’s store which was located where the present mill stands at the corner of Maple street in Danielson.  About 1827 Comfort Tiffany erected a cotton factory on the Brooklyn side of the Quinebaug River and the family moved to that area.   Although only a teen, his son, Charles Lewis Tiffany, ran the company store for his father after attending the Plainfield Academy.  In the fall of 1837 Charles Lewis Tiffany and his future brother-in-law John P. Young opened Tiffany & Young at 259 Broadway, New York City.
Louis Comfort Tiffany son of Charles Lewis & Harriet (Young) Tiffany was born in New York 18 Feb. 1848 and when he married his second wife, Louise Wakeman Knox in 1886, he incorporated the Tiffany Glass Company.  The world of glass, including stained glass, would never be the same.
Two churches in Northeastern Connecticut are known to have Tiffany stained glass windows –Trinity Church on Route 6 in Brooklyn and Christ Church on Route 169 in Pomfret.   There are others but I don’t know where they are in southeastern Connecticut.  (Taken from an article by Margaret M. Weaver, Killingly Municipal Historian).
The following is from our “Pictures on Memories Walls” book.
After Charles L. Tiffany went to New York he occasionally visited his ancestral home on business or pleasure, and was fond of taking little journeys up the river in a row boat.
Here is a sketch of one of these pleasure jaunts too good to remain buried in the folds of a letter from John L. Spaulding and runs thus:
“During my term of service for Mr. Lathrop, Mr. Charles L. Tiffany came from New York to his old home for a short vacation. On the morning of the day on which he was to return to New York by the ‘steamboat train’ which left Danielsonville at 8.30 in the evening, he came into the store and requested Lathrop to allow me to accompany him in a skiff up the Quinebaug river, where he wished to fish for a part of the day. Mr. Lathrop consented and we started off. After rowing for quite a distance Mr. Tiffany suddenly turned the direction of the boat, not as I thought, toward the river bank, but directly into thick alder bushes, when he stopped rowing and removed his boots and stockings and rolling up the legs of his pants he dragged the boat through the opening made, revealing quite an expanse of clear, still water, on the margin of which he dropped the light anchor.
He had been entertaining on the way up stream, talking with me more than men in those days usually condescended to converse with boys.
Now as he re-entered the boat he became quiet, almost stern, as he instructed me not to make any noise by talking or otherwise. After replacing his stockings and boots he proceeded to arrange his fishing gear for business.
Standing in the boat he cast his line as far as possible, and in a moment I observed a movement in the water, which nearly caused me to shout to him. He gave me a look that meant business, and for about sixty seconds he allowed his fishing line to remain motionless, then commenced pulling it gently toward the boat. I could see by the commotion in the water that something was fast to the outer end of the line. I also noticed how he trembled with excitement as he stood there hauling in the line. Presently with a rapid movement he threw into the boat the handsomest pickerel I had ever seen, at the same time covering the fish with his coat to prevent its leaping overboard.
He soon pulled the boat ashore, and handing me his knife he directed me to cut plenty of green grass which he moistened and placed in a basket and upon which he laid the prize. I remember with what evident satisfaction and pride he displayed his catch on our arrival back to the store, as he undoubtedly did to his New York friends. My present recollection is that its length was about 18 inches and its weight about four and a half pounds. J. L. S.
I hope you like the little stories about people from here who made a difference in others lives.

 

 

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