The History of Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut: From the Settlement of the Town in 1639 to 1818: Volume 2 – Elizabeth Hubbell Schenck
In accepting the task of compiling the history of a town, rich with historic lore, the author was fully sensible of the labor connected with it; but she resolved to go bravely on and accomplish all that health, perseverance, research and industry, would eventually achieve. Fairfield is her native town, and in Southport, which is a part of it, she was born. For over two hundred years her ancestors have lived and died within the limits of the township. On the hill which summoned the inhabitants of Green’s Farms, by the beating of a drum, to the meeting-house on the Lord’s day, her honored father, the late Jonathan Godfrey, was born. Her great grandfather, Lieutenant Nathan Godfrey, of Colonel Whiting’s company, fought the battles of Ticonderoga and Crown Point. On her mother’s side, she is a direct descendant of Richard Hubbell and of Joshua Jennings, and on both sides of the house of the Couch family. The blood which nerved some of the bravest men and women of Fairfield to deeds of courage, endurance, and military and political achievements, runs in her veins. It therefore, has proved no reluctant task for her to write the history of the men and women who took part in the settlement of New England, and more particularly of Fairfield. It is at all times interesting to study the history of our New England ancestry, which, like the seed of Abraham, has become throughout the vast domain of the United States, in numbers like unto the sands upon the sea-shore: and for their intelligence, sound religious principles, thrift, ingenuity, indomitable perseverance and industry, they are honored by all the nations of the earth. Therefore, to write of their political and military prowess, their religious views, their manners and customs, will prove interesting to all who love old Fairfield. This is book two of two of this series and presents the years 1700 through 1818.
The History of Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut: From the Settlement of the Town in 1639 to 1818: Volume 2
Excerpt from the text:
CHAPTER VII. 1700 — 1710
WAR WITH THE FRENCH AND INDIANS
1700. The dawn of the eighteenth century was pregnant with great events for the American colonies. The struggle for political and religious liberty, which had made rapid progress within the last decades of the past century, now breathed a spirit of bolder resolution. Out of the dreams and ambitions of the past, the light of intelligence was framing for the American people a republic, which was destined to become the greatest nation of the world. With such wisdom, patient endurance and conscientious zeal had the attainment of this end been conducted by the General Court and Council of Connecticut, that already they had begun to realize the day was not far distant when this republic should be firmly established. In no town was this aim more zealously pursued than in Fairfield; and, alas, no town was destined to suffer more in consequence.
Capt. Nathan Gold, who at this time was an assistant of the General Court, was made judge of the Fairfield County Court, and Samuel Squire and Nathaniel Burr deputies. Capt. Jonathan Selleck was made surveyor of Fairfield County. Free grammar schools were ordered to be kept in the four counties of Hartford, New Haven, New London and Fairfield. Every town of seventy families was taxed towards the support of a common school, at the rate of forty shillings upon every thousand pounds. In case any town neglected this order this tax was to be paid to the public treasury.
Active measures were being carried on in Fairfield towards the establishment of a college within the colony. In 1698 ten of the leading members in Connecticut were appointed to ” stand as trustees to found, erect and govern a college,” of which the Rev. Joseph Webb of Fairfield was one. These gentlemen met at New Haven about this time and formed themselves into a society of eleven ministers and a rector to found a college. Each minister present laid upon a table several books, which they in words ” donated, for the founding of a college in this colony.” Forty volumes were given, which were entrusted to the care of Mr. Russell of Bramford. Donations of other books and money followed, so that the trustees were greatly encouraged with the hope that they would soon have a college for the education of young men nearer home than Cambridge College. Application was at once made to the General Assembly for a charter which should make legal this undertaking. The Hon. James Fitch of Norwich ” donated sixteen hundred acres of land in Killingly, & all the glass & nails which should be necessary to build a college house & hall.”
1701. The following October the General Assembly granted these gentlemen ” full liberty, right & privilege to erect, form, order, establish & improve ” all suitable ways and means to maintain such a collegiate school. The trustees were not to exceed eleven, and not less than seven in number. They were to be above forty years of age, and chosen from the established or Congregational Church of the colony. An annual tax of one hundred and twenty pounds was granted out of the public treasury towards the support of this college. The trustees met in November at Saybrook and chose the Rev. Abraham Pierson of Killingworth rector of the college. They also fixed upon Saybrook as the most convenient place to locate the institution for the time being; but until the rector could remove thither, it was agreed that the scholars should be instructed at or near Killingworth. The library was removed from Branford to his house. Various attempts were made to induce Mr. Pierson to remove to Saybrook, but his people were wholly unwilling that he should leave them, and in consequence the students were kept at Killingworth during his life. The first commencement was held at Saybrook September 13.
1702. The use of a house and land was given by Mr. Nathaniel Lynde at Saybrook, while the college should continue there. The following year,
1703, a contribution was made throughout the colony towards erecting a college.
Captain Nathan Gold was made an Assistant of the General Assembly, and Mr. Peter Burr and Lieutenant James Bennet deputies. Mr. Peter Burr was chosen Speaker of the House.
An act was passed by which the General Assembly, hitherto held at Hartford, should be held in May at Hartford, and in October at New Haven.
The western boundary line of Fairfield Village was fixed, and the name changed to that of Stratfield. It was given this name from being formed out of a part of the east parish of Fairfield and of the west parish of Stratford, taking a part of the former and latter names to form the new parish of Stratfield.
A copy of the new commission for Justices of the Peace in each county was ordered to be sent to the several towns in colony.
The Rev. Mr. Webb of Fairfield and the Rev. Charles Chauncey of Stratfield received the thanks of the General Assembly for preaching election sermons.
In a journal left by the Rev. Mr. Webb, he relates that on the 23rd day of May, 1700, about three o’clock in the afternoon, ” a prodigious tempest of wind, thunder, rain and hail, occurred; the hail stones were as large as hen’s eggs, houses were unroofed, the rain fell in such abundance that it was driven by the wind under the eves & through the chimneys & roofs into the houses; blew down fences & overturned & destroyed twenty barns. The full force of the wind of this tornado, and the damage it did, lasted but three minutes, but the storm continued much longer.”
1702. King William died at Hampton Court on the 8th of March, and his wife. Queen Anne, was at once proclaimed Queen of England, and crowned in Westminster Abbey on the 23rd of April.
Captain Nathan Gold was chosen an Assistant and Lieutenant James Bennet and Mr. Samuel Squire deputies to the General Assembly.
By an act of the Assembly every seaport town was ordered to have a house set apart for smallpox patients, and no captain of a vessel was from this time allowed to enter within a half mile of any harbor without license from the Governor, Commander-in-Chief or from two Justices of the Peace. Fairfield was numbered one of eight lawful ports of the colony. An act was passed for entering and clearing ships and other vessels, and an officer appointed, called the Naval Officer, to attend to this business.
In order to prevent persons who owned slaves from setting them at liberty when they were too old to take care of themselves, an act was passed causing such owners to support their slaves during their old age.
The five assistants or judges of the counties of New Haven and Fairfield were appointed to hold the Court of Assistants at New Haven in October, and any three of them Avere to constitute a quorum, the eldest assistant to preside.
The constables of Fairfield and Stratford were ordered to pay a lawful portion out of the annual school tax to the school in Stratfield. Captain Nathan Gold, Lieutenant Jolin Wakeman and Mr. Peter Burr, or any two of them, were appointed to lay out six hundred acres of land in the town of Fairfield. for the benefit of a grammar school.
In response to a letter of the Privy Council announcing the death of King William, in which the Queen expressed her good will to her subjects in Connecticut, it was ordered that an address should be drawn up and sent to the Queen, ” to congratulate her upon her majestie’s happy accession to the crown, with thanks for her majestie’s grace & favor manifested to us.” Soon after (May 4th) Queen Anne, the Emperor of Germany and the States General declared war against France and Spain. Thus the colonies were again involved in a French and Indian war.
A tax of two pence half-penny was laid on taxable estates in every town for the maintenance of schools. The town clerks were ordered to keep a list of the freemen of each town, and to call each freeman’s name at every freeman’s meeting, and if any of them was absent without good cause a fine of two shillings was imposed.
Dougal McKensey received from the town a grant of land on the extreme end of Sasco Hill, now known as Kensey’s Point. About the same time the town granted John Barlow a point of land on the opposite side of Mill River, called the Indian Sasco Neck field.
Captain Nathan Gold and Peter Burr, Esq., were chosen Assistants and Lieutenant John Wakeman and Mr. Samuel Squire deputies from Fairfield to the General Assembly.
1703. The farmers at Maxumux were given liberty to erect a schoolhouse on the green about where the present school-house now stands. Thomas Whitney was granted liberty to build a mill upon Compo Creek.
Forty foot of land by a town vote was granted John Edwards at Fairfield in front of his house, once the homestead of the Rev. John Jones. In this way this place was extended out into the Meeting-house Green towards the pond.
A portion of the school long-lot was granted to Joseph Bradley in exchange for other land in the Mile of Common (towards maintaining a school at Greenfield Hill). Land called Rocky Neck, lying west of the creek which puts in from Mill River, was also re-purchased of the Indians.
The hill known as Clapboard Hill, and occupied as an Indian reservation, was now ordered to be purchased for the use of the town. John Burr and Moses Dimond were granted liberty to erect a saw-mill on Mill River. John Edwards and John Sturges were given liberty to build a wharf on the Uncoway River, where the Penfield Mills afterwards stood.
Mr. Peter Burr of Fairfield was made an Assistant of the General Court at this time. Captain Nathan Gold was appointed to be Judge of the Court of Assistants at New Haven.