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THE LORD´┐ŻS SCOUTS 51

 

acquainted the Indians as we passed with our purpose and went as far as about Norwalk before we stayed* Coming thither on the first day we gave notice to the Sachem and the Indians to meet there on the second day that we might treat with them all together about the business. Accordingly on the second day there was a full meeting (as themselves sayd) of all the sachems, ould men and Captains from Milford to Hudson River. After they had understood the cause of our coming and had consulted with us and amongst themselves and that in as solemn a manner as Indians use to doe in such cases they did with an unanimous consent express there desire of the English friendship, their willingness the English should come to dwell amongst them and professed that they did give and surrender up all their land to the English sachems at Coneckticott it being not long after the English Conquest and the fear of the English being upon them; it being moved amongst which of them would goe up with us to signifie this agreement and to present their wampum to the sachems at Coneckticott; at last Waunetan and Wouwequock, Paranoket offered themselves and were much applauded by the rest for it. Accordingly those two Indians went up with us to Hartford, not long after there was a comitee in Mr. Hooker's barne, the meeting-house then not buylded, where they two did appere and presented their wampem; (but ould Mr. Pinchin one of the magistrates there then) taking him to be the interperator, then I remember I went out and attended the business no further. So that what was further done or what writings there were about the business I can not now say, but I suppose if search be made something of the business may be found in the records of the court, and I supose if Mr. Goodwin be inquired of he can say the same for substance as I doe and William Cornish at Saybrooke who was there.

 

The affidavit of Nicholas Knell confirmed what Mr. Higgison said, and added that he remembered "the payment of money to the Indians as gratuity for the gift.**

The affidavit of Thomas Stanton made the point that the Pequots had previously conquered the territory of the Pequannocks and considered it as theirs, so that it passed to the English by the conquest of the Pequots; and he added that the Pequannocks "did intreat Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Haynes [then magistrates] that some of the English would come and dwell by them that so they not be in fear of

 

52 THE PROMISED LAND

 

their enemies, the uplanders [the Mohawks?] and that the English should have all their land only providing them some place for planting; which I think is but a reasonable request, and I hope you will atend rules of mercie in that case;

not that they shall be their owne carvers what they will and wherefore their exorbitant humour will carry them to disposes you and your houses. Experience proves it; give an Indian an inch and he will take an ell . . ."

 

Altogether, there is little doubt that the English ac- quired the Stratford territory by legal conquest, and it is probable that the sachems, less than a year after the Great Swamp Fight of 1637, "the fear of the English being upon

them," confirmed the acquisition by gift, or by sale for a token figure. Yet a few years later, when the English had duly "atended rules of mercie" by leaving them land for both planting and fishing, the natives began to question the

original acquisition. At the same time, the consciences of the colonists were troubled about it, for at first single settlers, and presently the colonial government, obtained new cessions of the same land by purchase for good consideration. Nevertheless, the "exorbitant humour" of the Indians having been

aroused, they continued to make a racket of their claims, and generally there was bad blood about it for half a century,

leading sometimes to open hostility, though never to war. The Stratford difficulties were an example of the effects of a process which, though legal, is against universal human conscience. And, legal or not, it shows the inconclusive results of conquest by a supposed "master race."

 

For English and practical purposes, the military ex- pedition of 1637 was the discoverer of the coast west of the Connecticut River. It led to the settlement of New Haven in 1638 and of the first two plantations at the mouth of Great River a year later. Meanwhile and thereafter those heroes of greed and adventure, the trappers and traders, were pushing up into the wilderness. By 1642 Messrs. Wakeman, Goodyear and Gilbert of New Haven had sailed or paddled thirteen miles up the river and built a trading post at Paugasset, or Derby. In 1644 Goodyear paddled or poled up

 

THE LORD´┐ŻS SCOUTS 53

 

thirty miles farther of mostly fast water and built a large post on what is still called Goodyear's Island, just below the Lover's Leap rapids and the big Fishing Cove at Weantinock, or modern New Milford. How much farther these adventurers penetrated is matter of conjecture. There is no record of exploration above New Milford until the 1600's.

 

The entrance of Awanux the English into the Upper Valley, as at Milford and Stratford, was to the sound of their muskets making good a punitive expedition. In 1676 King Philip's War, which had convulsed all of New England, ended with the death of the brilliant Wampanoag sachem. In August, Major John Talcot, with a body of Connecticut soldiers and friendly Indians from the Connecticut River,

pursued a party of two hundred Indian fugitives along the Indian trail later the "Great Road" from Westfield to Albany, which crossed the "Ausotunnoog River'* at a ford at the Great Wigwam, future Great Barrington. On the level bank of the river just west of the ford and within the region of the Great Wigwam the spot now marked by a stone between the river and the big brick schoolhouse the Indians made their encampment. Here Talcot attacked them at dawn, killed twenty-five, captured twenty and routed the rest, many of them "sorely wounded, as appeared by the dabbling of the bushes with blood, as was observed by them that followed a little further." One story glorifies the slaughter with the information that the river was reddened by it. A later account adds that "there were sundry lost

besides the forty-five forementioned, to the number of three score in all; and also that a hundred and twenty of them are now dead of sickness." As already suggested, it may have been at the time or just before Major Talcot's victory that the Housatonic Indians vacated the Great Wigwam and the

surrounding territory.

 

Less than in the case of the Great Swamp Fight, thirty- nine years earlier and seventy-five miles to the south, was this first flourish of power related to the later colonization by the English. The Upper Valley remained an unsettled

wilderness where Dutch from the Hudson were presently

 

54 THE PROMISED LAND

 

trading energetically with the local Indians or what was left of them. By 1685 a group of these enterprising Dutch- men were already taking deeds from the natives, usually in the form of the foreclosure of mortgages for moneys advanced to the savages. In 1705: these early grants were consolidated in the Patent of Westenhook, in which the colony of New York granted to a syndicate, composed mostly of Dutchmen, a vast tract including part of the Lower Valley in future Litchfield County in Connecticut and all of the Upper Valley in future Berkshire County in Massachusetts. The basis of the grant was the claim of New York, previously that of New Amsterdam, to all land west of the Connecticut River. There used to be a philological heresy to the effect that "Westenhook" which happens to mean "western corner" was originally applied by the Dutch to the region, and that it was the Indian way of pronouncing it "Housatonuc" that gave the name to the river. The fact is that the Dutch prospectors in 1685 referred specifically to "the creek called Westenhook" as a name already established, and they used the "creek'* as a landmark in their deeds. Obviously, the Indian name was older, and "Westenhook" was the Dutch

way of spelling it.

 

Illustrative of the vagueness of boundaries in the early grants is a Great Barrington legend, without date or authentication. A Dutchman proposed to purchase presumably from the Westenhook patentees a tract of land running as far eastward from the Hudson as a man could run in day, and the contract was duly signed. To enlarge his bargain the purchaser employed a famous Indian runner, who between dawn and sunset covered the forty miles from the Hudson to the Housatonic in Sheffield, including the passage of the Taconic Mountains.

 

The legalities of the conflicting English and Dutch claims in western New England derived from the grandiose gestures of the early explorers the English Cabots had

claimed to the Pacific and from Indian deeds that were readily repudiated, for a consideration, by later Indians. Practically, what mattered was the actual possession, clearing

 

THE LORD'S SCOUTS 55

 

and cultivation of the land claimed. With half a dozen exceptions, the Dutch failed to confirm their Indian grants by actual settlement. But for the trading post, the trapper's cabin, a few scattered settlers, and a remnant of Indians, the Upper Valley remained uninhabited till the 1720´┐Żs, when organized colonies from the east began seriously to make good the English claims. They recognized the holdings; of those Dutch who had actually settled, but as for the enormous

claims of the Westenhook Patent, they referred to the claims of the Cabots as more than a century older than those of Block* And they naturally got a new set of deeds from the Indians.

 

Meanwhile, in 1694, the Reverend Benjamin Wadsworth, a young minister of Boston, afterwards a president of Harvard, recorded his impressions of the Upper Valley. He was accompanying certain commissioners of Massachusetts and Connecticut to a treaty convention at Albany with commissioners from other colonies and the Five Nations of New York, the little cavalcade being escorted by a guard of sixty dragoons under Captain Wadsworth of Hartford. The Reverend Benjamin confided to a diary the irritation of his metropolitan sensibilities by the ruggedness of the region, which was later considered one of the most picturesque in the world.

 

The party set out from Westfield for Albany by the old Indian Trail, "the nearest way thro* the woods; . . . The road which we traveled this day was very woody, rocky, mountainous, swampy; extreme bad riding it was. I never yet saw so bad traveling as this was." It took them five days to reach the valley where, on August l0th, "we . , . took up our lodgings, about sundown, in the woods, at a place called Ousetonuck formerly inhabited by Indians" that is, at the Great "Wigwam, the ford in future Great Barrington, the scene of Major Talcot's fight eighteen years before. "Thro* this place runs a very curious river, the same which some say runs thro* Stratford, and it has on each side some parcels of pleasant, fertile intervale land. . . . The greatest part of our road this day was a hideous, howling wilderness . . ."

 

 

 

j6 THE PROMISED LAND

 

Having completed their mission in Albany, the commissioners returned by a southern route through Kinderhook, Claverack, Taghkanick, Kent, Woodbury and Hartford. After leaving "Turconnick," they rode twelve or fifteen miles, "on our left a hideous high mountain" possibly any of the main Taconics of which the Reverend Mr. Wadsworth of Boston had now seen plenty, perhaps as claimed by one

local historian a particularly bold escarpment that rises a thousand feet sheer near the source of the Weebatuck (Ten- mile) River in New York. A few hours after passing the "hideous high mountain," the party reached "Ten miles"

River, "called so from its distance from Wyantenuck, runs into Wyantenuck. . . . Wyantenuck river is the same that passeth thro* Ousetonnuck; it is Stratford river also."

 

Here we have a glimpse at the transitional nomenclature of the Great River. In the lower, tidal reaches, the period of discovery, exploration and pioneering is long past. The English are more than fifty years established at Stratford and

they have attached the name of their place to the river, supplanting both the Indian Potatuck and the Great River of the first white settlers. In the central span, the Indians, retreating before colonization, have concentrated at Wean-tinock, or New Milf ord, and some whites, visiting them there, have accepted and reported their local name for the river.

In the upper reaches, "Ousetonnuck" is still simply the name of a place in the English vocabulary, though both the Indians and the Dutch have already applied it to the river. This supercilious young minister records what appears to be the

white man's first discovery of the fact that the river at Ousetonnuck is the same as that at Weantinock and Stratford. Twenty-five years later the name of that obscure "beyond- the-mountains-place" will have flowed down to entitle the

whole stream.

 

PART I

 

The Land and the Lord (1639-1761)

 

THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

The First Two Tribes (1639-1657)

´┐Ż

 

26 THE HOUSATONIC

 

against the Puritan greed, essentially the conflict between the

Lord and the Devil, that has been the drama of America, and so, in microcosm, the drama of the valley. In the country as a whole that drama continues unresolved. But in the valley one complete production of it, possibly a preview of the whole, has been completed, with the forces of the Lord triumphing and those of the Devil got firmly under the heeL

This drama of the valley, which is the theme of this story, divides naturally into five acts, in each of which the Lord and the Devil appear respectively in slightly different roles.

In the first Act, the Lord thunders as the true Puritan God, the architect of the cosmic theater and the author and producer of its drama, while the Devil whispers of wealth in cheap land to be had from the Indians.

 

In the Second Act, the Lord appears as the Rights of Man, while the Devil, still whispering of profit in cheap land,, delights to confuse the new liberty with irresponsible license.

 

In the Third Act, the war is bitter between the new science and industrialism that are beginning to destroy idealism in the rest of America and the great surge of humanitarianism that shows itself in the valley in the reform of education and in America's first age of indigenous literature.,

 

In the Fourth Act, the Devil enters in the guise of new wealth that has been accumulated outside the valley, and

makes his sublest attack in terms of gentility, the tallyho, and the Switzerland of America, while the Lord resists in a display of detached, scientific inventiveness. The final failure of the

Devil in this act would seem to depend little on the victory of idealism, but rather on the irrelevant chance that most of the great fortunes in the valley crumpled, for extraneous-

reasons, after 1929.

 

The Fifth Act is less a drama than an epilogue, a final seal upon the victory of the Lord, the triumph of idealism* The triumph was intimated before 1920, and by 1930 the valley was the scene of a powerful invasion of writers, musicians, painters, educators and miscellaneous intellectuals,,

people mostly of small means buying up the old Puritan

 

PURITAN RIVER ´┐Ż

 

farms, many for summer homes only, but more and more of them staying out the winters and growing into the lives of the townships*

 

In these people, more numerously and convincingly

perhaps than at any other time in two centuries, we see the

valley being rededicated to the pursuit of truth. Most of

them know what great wealth did to America in the past

hundred years, and they are determined that their votes and

their increasing influence in the communities will be used

in the interest of themselves and their farmer neighbors

against any further attempt of the Devil to despoil the valley.

The curtain of America's first complete drama is falling now,

coming down on the valley as the same haven for hungry

souls that it was when the first shipload of Puritans landed

in 1639. The Great River is still the same symbol of the

change within unity that is the truth of the universe, the

symbol that anyone may still read here without the confusion

of smoke or traffic or the awareness of misery around him.

It is too early to guess whether in future centuries America

may again seek truth in terms of the Puritan God, the Mind

of the cosmos. If that time comes, the Great Valley and its

people will be ready and rehearsed to start the drama over.

The Great River will become again in literal fact, as in tradi-

tion and psychological fact, a Puritan River.

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

The Promised Land

 

THE PROMISED LAND

 

The First Billion and a Half Years

 

 

ENGLAND has never quite forgotten that in the old days it was a separate continent. The old days were

the first five and most of the sixth day of Biblical creation. Or, if you prefer, they were almost all of a billion and a half years of geologic history which the scientists find recorded in the rocks. It is only in the last fifty million years or so that New England has accepted the inevitable and joined the unwieldy continental union which we call North America.

The old continent of New England went north into Canada about as far as the present St. Lawrence River, and

south to include Long Island. Its eastern shore was a good way out in what we call the Atlantic, and sometimes its western shore included most of modern New York State. The scientists call it Acadia, because that is a pretty name, or perhaps because they lack proper respect for New England. To the northwest, beyond a stretch of ocean, was another little continent which they call Canadia. To the southwest was another named Appalachia.

From the earliest geologic time, western Acadia, where the valley was to be, has been <e the place beyond the mountains." From the age of fire and steam, when the earth's crust was cooling into shape, it remained restless over this upland. Every twenty or thirty million years, either the

 

12 THE PROMISED LAND

 

underlying fire or the lateral pressure of the contracting earth's crust would heave up volcanic peaks five or six miles into the sky. Then the volcanoes would quiet down, the broken crust would lie jagged in upended fragments, and for a quiet aeon frost and water would whittle down the

giants, spilling out the sediment in strata that filled the valleys and lay eastard and westward over lowlands and out over the ocean floor. Then another period of fire and shrinking crust would thrust up mountains again, and the whole process would be repeated. October Mountain, Monument, Bear, Everett, Riga, Canaan, Sharon, and the hundreds of others are the worn stumps of what were once the loftiest mountains in the world. Throughout these ages, the drainage of Acadia's western highland was into either the western or the eastern ocean. There was no ancestral, north-and-south Housatonic Valley where a great river ran into the southern sea.

 

During most of the billion and a half years of the old days there was life of sorts around Acadia or upon it. For

the first billion years it was all in the sea or in the rivers, with a little greenery groping Into the air along the shores. During this time, the fish got such a head start that the Yankees haven't yet been able to catch them all. After a billion years, real forests and flowering plants began to cover the gray rocks, and the oldest fossils in New England are of some of the latter from the western, mountains where the valley was to be. Certain fish experimented with breathing air, and out of these amphibians reptiles emerged that ran on the land and forgot the water entirely. The old days ended picturesquely with the dinosaurs, the biggest animals that

ever lived. They left their footprints and bones here and there in Acadia, but there is no evidence that they ever carried their ponderosity up into the western mountains. After the dinosaurs were exterminated by what process is still in doubt the new days, the epoch of recent life, dawned with little mammals that suggested their modern descendants. On the Biblical analogy, the sixth, and last day of creation

began.

 

THE FIRST BILLION AND A HALF YEARS 33

 

This end of the old days and dawn of the new occurred about fifty million years ago. Geologically, it was marked

by a very special mountain uplift which involved few if any volcanic eruptions and was not a local affair in Acadia. It like- wise involved Canadia and Appalachia, generally the whole eastern part of the great new continent whose coast line it lifted out of the ocean. From southern Appalachia, in modern Alabama, to northern Acadia, in modern Quebec, it was as if some earth-huge Titan put his hands on the carpet of the

earth's crust about two hundred miles apart and pushed them steadily together for perhaps a million years. The carpet, much of which had before been on. the ocean floor, bowed up in a thousand-mile-long welt running exactly northeast and southwest. The welt was the whole Appalachian ridge, the backbone of eastern North America. It shed off the sea between Appalachia and Acadia and Canadia forever, and lifted its western slope far out to drain the ocean from the great plains and complete the rough outlines of the big continent. The high point of the new range was in New York, a little west of where the primordial Berkshires had been. Everywhere from the new heights, new rivers began to pour southeast to the Atlantic, the beginnings of most of the great rivers of the easternseaboard today, the Santee, the James, the Potomac, the Rappahannock, the Susquehanna, the Delaware, the Connecticut, the Merrimack, the Kennebec, and among them, the Housatonic.

 

In the beginning, the Housatonic was a straight river flowing southeast all the way, and the lower third of the

modern stream, traveling southeast from the big bend at Scatacook in northern Sherman, still runs in its primeval, fifty-million-year-old bed. Above the big bend, the original upper reaches came straight down from the northwest, far over in New York State beyond the future Hudson Valley. For a precarious age, it looked as if one of New England's big rivers was going to be sourced in New York. But the primitive Hudson, then a mere tributary of the Delaware, took care of that. Nibbling its way headward, it broke through the banks of the Housatonic and stole its headwaters. Whathad before been the biggest tributary of the Housatonic, running south out of Massachusetts to join it at Scatacook, became the main stream that has since boiled around the big bend there. Deprived of its original sources, the Housatonic became a smaller river, as its old shore lines high along the

hills below Gaylordsville bear witness. But it became exclusively a New England river, and the geologic honors of

both New York and New England were saved.

Meanwhile, the promised land has swarmed increasingly with life. At first it was a tropical jungle, with the diminutive ancestors of tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses, tapirs, horses and dogs. Later, as the climate grew cooler, the forest took its modern form, and the animals began to look like moose, deer, wolf, bear and bison, while the monarchs were the mastodon and the saber-toothed tiger.

 

A million years ago, the Glacial Ages began. For four periods of about a hundred thousand years each, the valley

lay under an ice sheet at least a thousand feet deep. Between the glaciations there were long temperate periods when life returned. The weight and slow flow of the glaciers did not alter the topography of the region. But it did scoop off the precious topsoil from the hills and dump it "into the ocean south of Long Island that until very recently was part of

 

THE FIRST BILLION AND A HALF YEARS

 

the mainland. Having scraped off the soil, the ice sandpapered and scratched the underlying granite, deposited piles of gravel here and there, and scattered everywhere the billions of boulders that the Yankees have hauled out of the ground and piled into "walls.

 

It was only twenty thousand years ago that the fourth ice sheet was all gone, and the time since has been too short for much topsoil to weather out of the rocks. The landscape was taking its complete modern aspect, and the new forest teemed with the creatures man has known, including the vanished heath hen, passenger pigeon and wild turkey. In migration time, the flocks of pigeons overshadowed the sun and made a fluttering twilight in the forest. Waterfowl and fish crammed the streams and ponds, and every spring lamprey eels and solid shoals of shad ran up the river and its tributaries. Otter and beaver were plentiful. A vast natural larder and wardrobe was preparing.

 

There is no evidence that the valley or any other part of America ever cradled any of the primitive ancestors of

Man. That grave responsibility was left to the more experimental, old world. After he finally entered this continent from the west, New England was probably the last region to accept this strange, nervous creature. No one knows just when he slipped through the mountains into the valley of the Housatonic. But if the rock-recorded, geologic time is an hour, it was less than a thousandth of a second ago. It was late in the twilight of the sixth day of Biblical creation. And here the analogy of Genesis breaks down. Having set man in New England, the Lord neither rested nor let him rest.

 

Heathen in the Land

 

THE FIRST human beings to inhabit the valley were the heathen of the Mohican family of the great Algonkin

race. They did not come in search of truth, but were driven out of the Hudson Valley. Those who entered the upper

Housatonic region were probably expelled by the Dutch, in the first half of the seventeenth century, those of the lower valley by stronger Indians, at an earlier but not remotely earlier date. They brought with them one great human quality, the recognition of a Great Spirit informing all things, whom they would rejoin after death in the Happy Hunting Grounds far to the southwest. Otherwise, they were a paradoxical people: generally faithful to their larger, treaty undertakings, but rarely above petty pilfering; magnificent in courtesy and picturesque in dress, but filthier in person than any animals; capable of great fortitude under physical suffering and strain; yet without self-control in eating, drinking and gambling; affectionately generous, and at the same time subhumanly cruel.

 

Though the men were of splendid physique, they were an unwarlike, submissive and pessimistic people. Their solution of emotional problems was suicide, normally by leaping from a cliff into the arms of the Great Spirit, after singing a hymn to apprise him of their approach. Bryant immortalized the legend of the maiden who leapt from the escarpment of Monument Mountain, after her betrothed was killed in battle. Two young chiefs destroyed themselves in the same way from Mt. Tom in Litchfield. An old sagamore, his land in future Bethlehem having been sold to the English by

 

HEATHEN IN THE LAND 37

 

younger chiefs against his will, climbed to the lofty summit of Nonewaug Falls, chanted his death song and jumped. An Indian girl, having been refused by her family to the brave she loved, and being already bedecked for her enforced marriage to another, ran to the summit of Squaw Rock in South Britain and leapt to her death. Having no doubt that at their death they would be welcomed by the Great Spirit, the chief concern of the river Indians during their bodily lives was with Hobbamocko, the Evil Spirit who, they believed, would ultimately destroy their world. Their principal festivals were horrid orgies to propitiate him, during which the frenzied powwows or medicine men threw their possessions and sometimes their children into the flames.

 

The river Indians lived in villages ranging from two or three up to a hundred or more families. The normal family occupied a hide wigwam, while the hereditary sachems and nonhereditary sagamores had houses, sometimes a hundred feet in length, framed of bent saplings and covered with bark. Occasionally, several families occupied a long house with a chief, and ceremonial dances were held in their halls in the winter. On defensible high ground near their principal settlements, the sachems and sagamores usually maintained

palisaded forts.

 

The Indians were in the Stone Age of culture, and their livelihood was by hunting, fishing and crude agriculture. The women, squat, deformed and frequently sterile from overwork, cultivated corn, squashes, and a few beans with wooden or stone hoes. The men raised tobacco, but otherwise were above manual labor. In the autumn they burned the underbrush out of the forest, both to clear the view for hunting and to fertilize for planting. Each spring all the tribes came downriver to catch shad anywhere below the Great Falls at New Milford, which was the top of their run. Thence they proceeded down to the Sound, where they spent the summer digging shellfish on the beaches of Milford and Stratford, feasting on them and making wampum from their shells. After the English came, black wampum beads made from the eye of the hen clam passed current in the settle-

38 THE PROMISED LAND

 

ments at three for a penny. Twenty-four acres on Milford Point were virtually covered with discarded clamshells. On the Stratford side of the river, just above the railroad bridge, a large heap of them remains today, having somehow escaped use for either road building or fertilizer.

 

All the Indians of the valley were one people in physique, language, law, customs, and way of life generally. When the white men appeared, there were at least six fairly well-organized tribes in the Connecticut part of the valley, but only the remnant of one in the Massachusetts part. Although each of the tribes in the Lower Valley was gathered round its own sachem at his "Great Wigwam" or "Council Fire and although each hunted and planted in a more or less distinct region, yet each made traditional claims roughly to all the land on both sides of the river from the sea to

its source.

 

A plausible explanation of this is that all the tribes represented fairly recent emigrations from a common center traditionally Scatacook in Kent and that each group, in moving to a new domain, carried with it all the laws and claims of the parent tribe. "Wars of succession were avoided because the hereditary sachems, whose power was absolute and who personally "owned" all their respective tribes* hunting grounds, were all related to each other, constituting a horizontal royal family cutting across the tribal divisions, and they alone understood and applied the traditional laws. The sachems kept in close touch with each other and consulted and acted together on matters of importance. The colonists learned early that, in order to get a good deed to a large tract,

it was desirable to get on the deed the marks of as many sachems as possible. The sachems were like brothers, each delegated to rule over his part of the land of their single father, who no longer existed.

 

The confusion of tribes is further simplified when it is understood that in a philological sense the Indians of the valley were not divided into tribes at all, that they had no generic tribe names. The apparent tribe names were no more than the names of the places where a subdivision of the main

 

HEATHEN IN THE LAND 39

 

tribe lived. The Indians living around the ford were called in their language "The Fords´┐Ż those near the cleared field were "The Cleared Fields," those at the narrows were "The Narrows´┐Ż those at the falls were "The Falls," and so forth. When an Indian, moved his family from the ford to the cleared field, he was no longer a "Ford," but became a "Cleared Field´┐Ż Only the sachems were more or less fixed at their little capitals, and around them the "tribes" were fluid. Incidentally, a fact that tended to keep all the Indians unified was their common trek every spring over each other's trails to the fishing grounds down the river, and every summer to the shellfishing grounds on the beaches of the Sound.

 

Of the six tribes in the Lower Valley, the Wepawugs were centered in the region east of the mouth of the river*

at the Weepwai-auk, the "Crossing-place," the ford in modern. Milford village across the little river that enters the Sound just east of the Housatonic. With its Anglicized pronunciation and spelling, the stream retains its original name.

 

Across the Great River, the Pequannocks were centered around the Pauqunn-auk, or "Cleared-land-place," a large

and important cornfield in the center of modern Bridgeport. Like ^the Wepawaugs, the Pequannocks are remembered by

the little stream that flowed through their region, the Pe-quannock River of the modern map.

 

Above the "Wepawaugs on the east bank of the river were the Paugassets, whose council fire was at the Ptmg-as-et, the ´┐ŻWater-at-rest-narrow-place." (There were two locative suffixes in the Mohican language, one spelled -auk, -aug, -ac, -uk or -uck, the other -ut or -et.) The Paug-as-ef, where the river widens from the narrows into quiet, tidal water, was at Derby Neck, occupied by the modern city of Derby which was known by its Indian name until quite late in the white man's history.

 

On the west bank of the river, above the Pequannocks; and opposite the Paugassets, were the Potatucks, the inhabitants of the Powntnck-nck, the "Falls-place," the region around Derby Falls, modern Shelton. Potatuck is the most important Indian name in the Lower Valley, because there

 

40 THE PROMISED LAND

 

are so many powntuck-ucks, so many falls-places. Either the first or the second Indian settlement in the valley is supposed to have been at the powntuck-uck, the great falls, at Bull's Bridge, wherefore the tribe there also called itself the Pota- tucks. There was at least one other powntuck-uck that gave Its name to a subtribe that inhabited not only the vicinity of future Newtown, but also, across the river, the larger

region running up the Pomperaug and Shepaug rivers as far as Bethlehem and Litchfield. Though the Great River itself "had other local names, its commonest Indian name in the Lower Valley was Potatuck, the River-of-the-Falls-Place. Certainly it retained this name for the thirteen river miles from Derby or Shelton Falls to the sea, though this reach was of quiet, tidal water. With one exception, it is the nearest to a generic name that the Indians bequeathed to the valley. It is remembered in the Lower Valley only in the musical little ´┐ŻPootatuck River that pours over its weir in Sandy Hook village in Newtown, and then down its hemlock gorge to the

Great River.

 

The fifth considerable tribe of river Indians was cen- tered some thirty river miles above the Paugassets of Derby and the Potatucks of Shelton. These were the Weantinocks the dwellers at the Wean-adn-ank, the "Winds-mountain- place," the place where the river winds around Long Moun- tain in New Milford. In spite of the rich Indian association ´┐Żwith this region, the name has disappeared from the modern

map.

 

The sixth considerable tribe in the Lower valley, when the English came, were the Weataugs, Weataug being the name for the Salisbury region, forty to fifty miles north of Weantinock on the border of modern Massachusetts. The meaning of Weataug is uncertain.

Besides the six main tribes, there was a subtribe of the Pequannocks, with whom the earliest white settlers had in-

timate dealings. These were the Ciipheags, who lived at Cuphe-ag, the "Shut-in-place" the harbor, modern Stratford. In conformance with the Indians* own legends, it is generally agreed by local historians that they first entered

 

HEATHEN IN THE LAN0 41

 

the Lower Valley from the west at Scatacook in southern Kent, about a mile below the original Potatuck, or Falls Place, at Bull's Bridge. The Indian name was Pishgach-tig~ok, the "Divided-broad-river-place/* the place where a tributary comes into the broad river, specifically the place where the modern Tenmile enters the main stream. It is one of the richest spots in the valley for Indian relics. There is dramatic value in the supposition that the Indians first entered the valley here through the break in the mountains that lets in the Tenmile from New York State; for it was to the general reservation, set aside here by the Colony of Connecticut in 1752, that all the Indians 6f the Lower Valley gradually contracted, and it is certain that at this point their culture is at

this moment coming to an end.

 

Their resounding place names, usually with the croaking locative suffix, were the most permanent contribution of the river Indians to the valley. Besides fotatnck y Wepawaug, Pequannock, and Scatacook, which have been mentioned, there are many others that survive on the modern map.

 

There is a historical paradox between the fact that the Upper Valley, the Massachusetts part from Canaan northward, was at one time populous and the fact that it was almost deserted when the English began to come in during the early eighteenth century. One of the largest concentrations of Indian graves and relics in the whole valley has been found in a small area on the river in Great Barrington village, an area not a specific building that was by tradition the central capital or "Great Wigwam" of the neighboring Indians from the earliest times down into the period of English settlement. Yet in 1694 a traveler, crossing the river at this point, wrote in his diary that the place had been "formerly inhabited by Indians," implying that it was then deserted; and, forty

years later, it was recorded that the- sachems Umpachene, residing with four other families at Skatecook in northern Sheffield spelled differently from Scatacook in Kent, and Konkapot, living**with an equal number of families at Wnah- tu-kook, just south of present Stockbridge village, were the only Indians in the whole region between these points.

 

42 THE PROMISED LAND

 

The traveler's information that the place was "formerly inhabited by Indians" presumably came either from somebody's living memory or from surviving relics of the flimsy, former Indian village which thirty years would obliterate. In either case, it would seem that the exodus had occurred not many years before. Conjecture suggests one of the closing episodes of King Philip's War, in the late summer of 1676, when a band of two hundred fugitive Indians was overtaken and almost annihilated at the ford of the river within the Great Wigwam locality. It may well have been at that time, either before or during the battle, that the local Indians, being unwarlike and not allied with Philip, decamped to join their kin over the Taconics in the Hudson Valley, and so left their capital deserted.

 

Whatever may have been the prehistory of the original Indians of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, which contains the whole of the Upper Valley, they yet performed the service of establishing the principal and most enduring place name in the valley. When they immigrated, they came in from the west over the mountains, and the place where they established became Wussi-adene-uk or the "Beyond-the~Moun- tain-Place," the country beyond the mountains. The Indians accented the first syllable, and, allowing for the elision that would have occurred at the outset, the original pronunciation would have been close to Wiisadenuk or Wiisatenuk. Through innumerable spellings by the whites including Westenhook Westonock Hooestennuc Awoostenok Ansotunnoog Ousetonuck Ousatunick Housatunack House of Tun- nuck ( ! ) Housatonac and with the transference of accent to the third syllable, it has reached its modern form, Housa-

tonic. As late as 1819, Princess Mahwee, the last pure- blooded survivor of the Scatacooks in Kent, said that it should be pronounced Hwsetenuc.

 

Like Potatuck, the place name was transferred to numerous features of the region it described. The traveler in 1694 said the place where he crossed the river otherwise identified as the Great Wigwam was called "Ousetonuck." Thus the place name was attached to the principal village in that

 

HEATHEN IN THE LAND 43

 

place. And, at the coming of the whites, the Indians of the Upper Valley were known as the Housetonucks, the people who lived in the place beyond the mountains* It was not

until the eighteenth century that the name flowed downstream to become generic for the whole River, replacing "Potatuck," "the Great River," and the other Indian and English names that had been used in the Lower Valley.

 

Outside of surviving place names, the only peculiarly local contribution of the valley Indians to the white man's culture was the baskets of the vestigial, conglomerate tribe at Scatacook in Kent and Sherman. With their ornamental curlicues, these baskets have remained until very recently a source of income for the remnant of the tribe. The numerous other and more valuable legacies of the Indians were universal throughout New England, and not peculiar to the valley: their real science of medicinal herbs, many examples of which survive in modern pharmacy; the mysteries of maple syrup; the whole culture of corn, from planting "when the leaf of the dog-wood was the size of a squirrel's ear and the first leaf of the oak as large as his foot" to roasted corn- on- the-cob, succotash ("suktac"), ground meal, com cakes, and numerous other preparations; the use of bark dyes; the more than two hundred Indian words in the modern American language. A possible survival of the Indian feast of spring was the old Yankee Strawberry Festival. And the white man's Thanksgiving is suggestively reminiscent of the Indians* "corn feast," a gluttonous orgy of thanks to the Earth and the Life Spirit after the harvest was in.

 

"With the exception of the legendary suicide of the maiden on Monument Mountain, the Indian stories that have come down in history or legend belong to the period after the white man's coming in the seventeenth century, and some of them will be recounted in. later chapters. At this point in the story of the valley, the period of transition from the Age of the Indians to the Age of the English, it remains only to state a few generalities about the relatively happy relations between the races in this region.

 

It is true that when the heirs of the weaker culture

 

44 THE PROMISED LAND

 

came in contact with the stronger the Indians usually de- generated into alcoholics, beggars, petty thieves, and more or less picturesque local characters. Yet, it cannot be said that in the gradual acquisition of the land by the whites, and in their treatment of the Indians generally, there was more than sporadic and exceptional injustice. The behavior of the colonists in settling can be questioned only by denying that a population of not over three thousand natives should have been asked or permitted to sell for use their three thousand square miles of wilderness, very little of which they used and none of which they developed. The "natives" themselves had appropriated the territory not many generations before, without paying anything for it. In every case, the

colonists acquired the land by means that were legal, by both Indian and English law; and, in every case but one, they got it by fair purchase.

 

The price scale of between one and ten cents per acre of wilderness," whether paid in money or in excellent tools, weapons, and blankets, was the same scale that the purchasers applied in subsequent resales among themselves. And the Indians often got especially good bargains in collateral terms, such as the reserved right to hunt or plant on the land or much of it, along with other stipulations, which the colonial governments and most of the individual colonists always respected. Important among collateral terms were those dealing with defense. Although the valley Indians undoubtedly feared and hated the English, they had an even greater hatred and fear of their predatory neighbors, the Mohawks to the northwest and the Pequots to the east. Both of these strong tribes exacted regular tribute from the valley, and made additional, sporadic raids there for good measure. Consequently, a frequent stipulation in many of the contracts of

sale was that the white purchasers would protect the sellers against the Mohawks and the Pequots, and this the English certainly did.

 

It can hardly be supposed that individual colonists, who were sharp enough in dealing with one another, would have any reticence about driving sharp bargains with the filthy

 

HEATHEN IN THE LAND 45

 

savages. But their propensities in this direction were repressed by the wise and humane laws of the governments they maintained. Individuals were forbidden by law to buy land from

the Indians without authorization by the General Court, and before such authorization was given the court would look minutely into the particular colonist's need of the land, the

adequacy of the purchase price, and the remaining resources for self-support of the Indian or Indians involved. In the majority of cases it was the Indians themselves who instigated

the sales, with their usual lack of self-control pressing deeds and mortgages on the settlers in return for desired items, whether useful tools, useless baubles or when it could be bootlegged to them firewater. There were, of course, scamps who circumvented the law and imposed on the Indians* childishness. But they were few, and they were disciplined when caught.

 

The generally conscientious treatment of the Indians by the English was commendable in an age when Europeans of all sects recognized either the Lord or the Devil in any

unusual phenomenon, and when anyone addicted to curious practices was instantly suspected of being a wizard or a witch, a servant of Satan. The colonists had no doubt from

the beginning that the Indians were the get of the Devil, and they loathed them anyway for their filth, their drunkenness and petty thievery and pilfering. Nevertheless they tried

their trespasses, larcenies and murders in the courts, giving them the benefit of the same rules that they enjoyed themselves. They did ostracize them socially and biologically. They

did try to keep liquor and firearms from them, for the protection of both races. And they did limit their right to alienate land. But outside of these impositions they gave them equal

rights under equal laws, including access to the schools. The failure of the Indian in the valley was principally his own, a dissatisfaction with his own Stone Age culture in the pre-

sence of the wonders the white man brought, and a desire to acquire the white man's ways, yet an inability to accept the discipline that the stronger culture implied. In consequence

the Indian experienced an increasing self -contempt and need

 

46 THE PROMISED LAND

 

to escape into the only world where reassurance remained,

the world of alcohoL

 

The Indians of the valley shared with their immediate successors one great quality, otherworldlitiess, life in eternity instead of in time. Like the Puritans, the Indians looked on this life as a vale of tears. But their methods of dealing with the problem were different. The Indian merely did what he could to propitiate Hobbamocko, the Evil Spirit who was responsible for all terrestrial difficulties. The Puritan went ahead vigorously to make the best of a bad situation. The vast amount he has accomplished in economic, materialistic terms is now suspect. But if there is any virtue in the activities that distinguish man from the animals, namely, his elaborate works of the imagination in philosophy, art and science, then the Indian culture was justly supplanted by the Puritan one that involved equal mysticism, a more inclusive morality, a wider science, and a more active curiosity and enterprise.

The Indians should, and will, be remembered for their religion, some of their arts and sciences, and the integrity of many of their leaders. Yet their culture was of a scope so limited as to be unqualified long to play a part in man's progress toward adjustment to the cosmos. Its passing was pathetic, but in the valley of the Housatonic it was not tragic in any universal sense.

 

In economic terms, the Indians were the greatest of the animals, able to merge into the natural beauty of the valley and survive, leaving it unchanged, the mountains still stately

under their forests, the falls plunging from the cliffs with undiminished power. The Indian lacked the mental force either to build or to destroy. The white man came with the

power to do either, and history's judgment of him will de- pend on the final balance he attains between these conflicting tendencies. Along most of the rivers that he has populated

he has destroyed the natural beauty and replaced it with industrial piles of no significance in spiritual, intellectual or aesthetic terms. But along the Housatonic, his favorable score

is still high. In the ninety-mile stretch of the central valley, he has put up a dozen or so factories that offend the land-

 

HEATHEN IN THE LAND 47

 

scape today. He has robbed the great falls of their water to turn his dynamos, and has left their rocks smooth in the sun under the remembered flow. But, on the whole, he has left

the peaceful stateliness of the region unchanged. The electricity that he makes here he sends far out of the valley to run factories and slums in other places. In compensation for the

small havoc he has wrought, he has contributed in the valley literatures, theologies, works of art and music, and scientific discoveries such as were hardly intimated in the wildernesses

dream.

 

The Indian was part of that older dream, with its sure virtues and limitations. If the white man's dream of religion and poetry and science proves to be a better dream, and if it

survives his dynamos and factories, then it will be well that he has prevailed. But, if it is not a better dream, or if it is forgotten in his commerce and his greed, then his destructive

tendency will have exceeded his creative one. In that case, he is Hobbamocko, the Spirit of Evil, who, as the Indians feared he would do, has overcome the world.

 

 

 

The Lord's Scouts

 

 

WAS probably the second seagoing ship built in North America was appropriately christened the Onrust, which in English means "Restless/' In the summer of 1613,

while the Dutch explorer Captain Adrian Block lay at anchor in New Amsterdam now New York harbor, the flagship of his fleet of four was destroyed by fire. The following

winter he built the Onrust to replace it. The new flagship was forty and a half feet long and eleven and a half wide. In the spring Captain Block took it on a maiden voyage

which turned out to be of diplomatic importance. He sailed up the East River, through Hell Gate and into Long Island Sound, which he called the "Great Bay/' Besides its claim to

be an early ancestor of all American ships, the little Onrust has the incidental distinction of being the first vessel that is known to have touched the shore of Connecticut.

 

The first, or one of the first, places that Captain Block put in was Cupb-eag, the Shut-in-Place (Stratford Harbor) where the Great River flowed in. Doubtless the gigantic

white bird swimming up the harbor caused consternation among the Indians who at that season would have been clamming and musseling along the beach. In his log Captain

Block called the river the "River of the Red Hills," probably from the sand dunes of Stratford Point. He also reported that it was "about a bow-shot wide,'* implying that he explored no farther inland than the tidal marshes at the river's mouth. Proceeding eastward, he mapped the whole coast of Connecticut and, with the usual modesty of ex- plorers, claimed for Holland a vast country northward which

 

THE LORD S SCOUTS

 

included most of New England. Within a few years the Dutch contracted their claim westward to the Connecticut River. But the remainder of it, inherited by the colony of

New York after the English took it from the Dutch in 1670, was the cause of much litigation and some bloodshed, and was not cleared from all of the Housatonic region for two

centuries and a half after Captain Block made his sovereign gesture.

 

After this glimpse through the clouds of prehistory, they close again over the Housatonic until July of 1637, "when the Indians of the valley got their first close view of the

white man in action. His entrance was convincing, but hardly suggestive of his fealty to the Prince of Peace. For two months, the Pequot war had been raging along the

Thames and the Connecticut to the east. In organized reprisal for their unprovoked forays, murders and torturings, six hundred of that savage tribe had been killed and their villages

destroyed. The survivors, some eighty warriors with twice as many old men, women and children, fled westward across the Connecticut, the Quinnipiack, and the Housatonic, and made

a stand in the Saco Swamp in Fairfield. Captain Mason with his small force of Connecticut and Massachusetts men pur-

sued them.

 

Since all the River Indians hated and feared the Pequots, the white men in passage were welcomed by Ansantawae, sachem of the "Wepawaugs, in his Great "Wigwam at modern

Milford. Across the river, however, in Stratford and Fairfield, the Pequannocks were in a sorry case. Under Indian law, the Pequots claimed their land by a previous conquest,

and, for some years, had been exacting tribute from them. As a subject people, they were bound to aid their conquerors, and as a practical consideration they feared them more than

they did the little-known English. Consequently, about two hundred of the neighboring Pequannocks joined the Pequots in the swamp. But, after the first day of the Great Swamp

Fight that followed, they had a change of heart and took advantage of the offer of the English to spare the lives of any who came out and surrendered. Some of them, mostly

 

 

THE THE PROMISED LAND

 

women, were made slaves, and the rest fled a dozen miles upriver to the fort of their kinsmen at Potatuck.

 

Because of the behavior of the Pequannocks in the Great Swamp Fight, the Connecticut colonial government thereafter treated this tribe's land west of the river as con-

quered territory as far north as Potatuck. This was the only tract in the valley that was originally acquired otherwise than by fair purchase. Both the Pequannocks and the Pota-

tucks, presumably under the compulsion of the English, accepted for their sachem Okanuck, the son of Ansantawae who had befriended them. So, at the outset, the Lord pun-

ished the enemies of His Chosen People. And so there were seeded a resentment in the Pequannocks and the Potatucks and a qualm of conscience in the English, that made Stratford

and, later, Shelton the only sites of bitter feeling between the races in the whole valley.

 

The later misunderstandings about the title to the former Pequannock lands in Stratford and neighboring Fairfield were not due to any illegality in the original acquisition. The

right of conquest was recognized by both Indian and. English law, and in this case seems to have been specifically confirmed by the sachems of the Pequannocks and their neighbor-

ing tribes. Owing, however to persisting uncertainty about the title, the Connecticut General Court, twenty-two years after the Great Swamp Fight and twenty-one years after

the subsequent negotiations, required affidavits from men who had taken part in the latter:

 

Being desired [wrote the Reverend John Higgison, late pastor at Guilford, in 1659] to expose what I remember concerning the transaction between the English of Coneckticott and the Indians

along the Coast from Quilipioke [i.e., Quinnipiack or New Haven] to the Manhatoes about the land the substance of what I can say is briefly this: that in the beginning of the yeare 1638, the last weeke of March Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Goodwin, being imployed to treat with Indians and to make sure of that whole tract of land in order to prevent the Dutch and to accomodate the English who might after come to inhabite there, I was sent with them as an interpreter (for want of a better) we having an Indian with -us for a guide,

 

59

 

SOME TIME in the spring or early summer of an unknown vessel bearing an unknown number of Puritans, under the ministry of the forty-year-old Reverend Adam

Blakeman, approached the entrance to Stratford Harbor. There could hardly have been over thirty families of them, and it is not known whence they came, beyond the fact that

the Reverend Mr. Blakeman himself came directly from Old England, that part of his following was from his former flock there, and that another part was from Wethersfield in Con-

necticut Colony under whose auspices this plantation was being undertaken. Doubtless the Devil with the authority of Calvinist doctrine had whispered to some of the settlers of the chances of enhancing land values and of trade with the Indians, But the effective cause, without which the plantation would not have been attempted, was their determination to risk their lives and their property in order to live in accordance with an idea and a faith.

 

Between the long, low natural sea wall of Milford Point and the dunes of Stratford Point, the ship entered the mile-and-a-half diametered harbor. On the western, or Stratford,

side, they dropped anchor in the mouth of a tidal inlet- later called Mac's Harbor and put ashore on its northern beach. Undoubtedly their first act as a community was to

 

 

60 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

kneel on the beach while the Reverend Mr. Blakeman gave thanks to the Lord who in His mercy had predestined them for a safe landing. The gulls wheeled and screamed overhead.

From the near forest a few Cupheag Indians watched. On the outer points boomed the surf of three thousand miles of ocean, cutting them off from the homes they had left for-

ever.

Six months later, in the late fall of 1639, the cold twilight of any dawn fell on the village then called Pequannucks in its first phase, at once a triumph of fanatical energy and an example of the havoc that civilization wreaks when it first touches the wilderness. Throughout the night, as through all the nights and days, there had been no silence, for the wolves never stopped their racket of hunting moose and deer in the forest, right up to the palisade round the settlement. In the first, gray light, the high platform of the watchhouse stood in bleak outline on Watch House Hill

modern Academy Hill the cold sentry at his post with loaded musket, powder horn and shot bag, the frost crackling on the planks when he shifted his feet. In the lower shadow

the rectangle of the clearing lay faintly visible under light snow, a quarter of a mile north and south and half as wide, the eastern side on the harbor and the other three sides

palisaded with logs, the watchhouse standing against the northern wall that traversed its hill. Down there in the darkness, at the western and southern gates, at the platforms at

the corners of the stockade, and along the harbor, the other members of the watch kept their vigil. They took their turns by roster from Sergeant Nichols* Train Band, which was the

male community between sixteen and sixty in its military aspect.

 

Descending from the watchtower on the hill, the twilight fell on the snow-whitened, thatched pyramid that was the roof of the little log meeting house, already built near the

point where the congregation had landed six months before. Then rapidly the still unfleshed skeleton of the whole village came out of darkness.

 

Two parallel streets modern Elm and Main ran south

 

THE FIRST TWO TRIBES

 

from the little common around Watch House Hill, their frozen mud pitted from boots and hoofs; and along these were ranged the twenty-five or so ugly, one-room, lean-to, log

and clay huts with their big, squat, mud chimneys. Behind, in the long, narrow homelots, the stumps of the ruined forest stood out of the snow, some of them blackened and

still smoldering. Among the stumps were the split-rail cattle pens, the ricks of wild hay from the marshes outside the stockade, a few miniature log barns rising, the big woodpiles,

some patches of corn stubble from last summer's first, meager planting that had been attempted only within the stockade.

 

From the huts came the mumble of morning prayers and the passage from God's Holy "Word, then thumpings and voices. The oiled parchment windows glowed sallow from

blown -up hearth light and out of the chimneys bluish plumes rose and leaned westward together on the gray wind. Slab doors swung open on their leather hinges, and figures, with wooden or birchbark pails, tracked out to the cowpens. The new watch assembled and tramped round, relieving the old. The cowkeepers drove a dozen, assembled cattle up to the common on Watch House Hill to eke out the last blades and shoots of freezing growth. Men in linen shirts and knee breeches of homespun from England or deer-hide already dried the knee breeches baggy to permit being reversed when the seat was worn men in homespun caps or broad "sugar loaf" hats, and wide-toed, big-buckled shoes, congregated in the streets, carrying their tools, greeting each other as "your Honor*' for high officials, "master** or "goodman" for freemen, first names for servants. Under their communitarian socialism, most men were officeholders and the great

majority property owners; universal, male democracy was founded in the assumption of universal, male, proprietary responsibility. The work of the day began, the rhythmed snarl of long saws over the sawpits, the slash of adzes, the whack of mallets on pegs, the shouts to the oxen drawing in logs, the occasional musket shots from outside the palisade where the boys were foraging in the forest against starvation.

 

At sundown on Saturday, which was the beginning of

 

62 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

the Sabbath, a hush fell over the village, as over the rest of New England. The cooking for the next day was done, the wood carried in. Nothing remained for Sabbath activity, but

the guard and the animal chores. At eight o'clock on Sunday morning the drum rolled the first summons, and at ten the second and final one. Men in weekday attire with homespun

capes added and women in capes and hoods came out of their hovel doors that seemed too small for them and walked solemnly over the frozen mud to the heatless, windowless

meeting house. The women took their places on the slab benches on the right, the men on the left, the armed, Sabbath guard from the train band in the rear. For an hour they

bowed to the Reverend Mr. Blakeman's prayer, then listened with complete attention to the difficult, scholarly sermon, while he turned the hourglass twice, and, if it was Communion Sunday, the Lord's Body froze before the pulpit.

 

In the interval between the afternoon service and the end of the Sabbath at sunset, each family sat on the benches and chests or on the hearth before the fire in its one-room

hut, while the father reread the texts of the day, discoursed on the sermon and applied it, as might be, to each of them present. At his signal, the mother set out the cold beans

and corn bread and, after thanks to God for His blessings, they partook of it on wooden trenchers. As the light of the sunset faded in the paper windows, they put the victuals

away and each knelt on the dirt floor at his private prayers. The hearts of the young silently confessed to God the multitude of their sinful thoughts that kept them unworthy of His grace whose attainment was all their ambition. The father and mother, in their respective corners, likewise searched their hearts with agonized sincerity, and confessed in prayer what they found there of cupidity and vanity and licentiousness, of jealousy and malice toward their neighbors, of every evil tendency that jeopardized the Covenant of

Grace they had entered into with their God.

 

The darkness deepened and the dying fire hissed in the otherwise unlighted silence. Each heart felt, for the moment, unburdened of its sins and worthy to glorify the God of

 

THE FIRST TWO TRIBES 63

 

creation. From the surrounding cosmos, where He was enacting His stupendous drama. His peace gathered and entered that house, bringing with it a joy in His mercy that was the

greatest of all joys and an immediate earthly reward and sufficient compensation for the discomfort and suffering of being there. Outside in the cold, the wolves howled and the

watch stood round the little rectangle of the palisade, protecting their idea against the world. Down from unknown forested distances to the north came the Great River. "West-

ward for unknown thousands of miles stretched a continent. Owing to the loss of Stratford's records before, the exact time of its settlement in 1639 is not known, but it was probably a month or two ahead of that of Milford on the other side of the mouth of the Great River. Of all the Puritan plantations, Milford best exemplified that method of settlement by religious schism, imperial growth by ecclesiastical cell subdivision, which for at least the first century was a stronger force than economic greed in the expansion of New England. The truculent future Yankees of Milford

went through three schisms before they put down roots. To begin with, they followed their Reverend Peter Prudden out of England to Boston in 163 7, more or less in the com-

pany of another Puritan group under the Reverend John Davenport. Next, both groups found the then theocracy of Boston too confining for them, and in 1638 they moved to

New Haven, recently discovered and recommended by Captain Underbill, who had noticed the harbor on the way to the Great Swamp Fight the year before. Then, in early 1639,

Prudden's group fell into divers differences with the majority, or Davenport, group in New Haven, notably on the question of theocracy, the determination of the majority to limit the

vote to church members. In the spring Mr. Prudden*s followers bought a small tract of land ten miles to the west from Ansantawae, chief of the Wepawaugs, embracing the

old sachem's former Council Fire where the little Wepawaug River flowed into its long, narrow harbor. The transfer was by a combination of English and Indian ritual; on the one

hand, the delivery of a deed bearing the sachem's mark and a

 

64 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

on the other hand, the twig and turf ceremony by which Ansantawae took up a sod, thrust a twig in it and handed

it to the English.

 

Having bought their tract in the spring, the Wepawaugites did not move until August, thus probably letting Pequannocks Stratford across the main harbor get the honor of being the first plantation on the Great River. But if they lost a race of which they were unaware, the Wepawaugites were for that the better prepared for their enterprise. They came with their church all organized, the Seven Pillars already chosen* And, perhaps uniquely among pioneer settlements anywhere, they brought with them their combined dwelling, tabernacle and government house, all cut,

notched, bored and ready to raise. They sent it round from New Haven by water while most of the pioneers walked the ten miles, driving their cattle. And their first act was to raise this common house and cover it with another unique distinction for a pioneer building, clapboards and shingles. It was large enough to house the forty-four families of the original settlement while they were building their own huts and houses outside, at the same time functioning as a meeting house and a town hall. It stood just west of where the Weapawaug spilled into the top of its narrow harbor. The present Town Hall of Milford is the fourth on the almost identical site.

 

During the following winter, 1639-40, they laid out the village, The common was modern Broad Street, spanning the two hundred yards between the "Wepawaug River and West End Brook. A pair of residential streets ran north along the respective sides of each of these streams; or, more precisely, each of two wide, residential streets contained a sizable all-purpose stream running down the middle of it a suitable convenience for people who were not troubled by notions of sanitation. Along these streets sixty-five home-lots were laid out, averaging three acres each. At a town meeting that March 1640 it was agreed with Mr. William Fowler, one of the Pillars, "that he shall build A Mill and A house for it and doe all the work to her for stones [that

THE FIRST TWO TRIBES 65

 

is, millstones] and Iron-worke and all other Materials fit for her; and substantially done and to be goeing By the last of September 3 Mr. Fowler carried out his pressing assignment, and the committee in charge set his "towle" at three quarts of grain for every bushel brought to be ground. In addition to building the mill, housing it and cutting the stones, Mr. Fowler that summer built a dam, creating back of the town house the pond which shortly became what it remains today, the picturesque center of the town's group of public buildings.

 

The condition of retaining a homelot in Milford was that a "substantial house" be built on it within three years. Most of the houses went up during 1640 and, because the villagers had the common house for suitable temporary quarters, they were able to take their time and make the construction indeed "substantial." As distinguished from the situation in most settlements where it was necessary to take hurried cover under logs, mud and thatch, many of these first houses of Milford were framed, clapboarded and shingled one and a half to two and a half stories high around

a huge, central stone chimney in the pattern that was to be orthodox in New England for two centuries.

 

In its leisurely fashion, Milford reached mature form in 1641. A roughly circular stockade of twelve-foot logs was built around the village and a train band established as in all the settlements, every able-bodied man between sixteen and sixty under Captain John Astwood. South of the village the common land was apportioned for cultivation, the young surveyor being one Robert Treat, not yet a freeholder but destined to become the most picturesque figure in Connecticut in the seventeenth century.

 

The third achievement of that year was the erection of the meeting house on the knoll on the upper bank of Fowler's millpond. This appropriately was the most commanding site in the village, looking down over the pond, the town house, the village and the central common, all in the stockade, and outside the stockade southward across the farmland to the Sound and westward to the harbor of the Great River, the marshes along its southern, reaches, the

 

66 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

great sycamores that marked its course as it narrowed inland toward Derby. Like the town house, that first meeting house is survived today by its third successor on nearly the

same site. More than most villages, modern Milford, centered around its pond, now nicely parked, and its town hall and First Church of Christ, now lofty and magnificent, suggests

its bleak beginnings of three centuries ago.

 

Even that first meeting house was magnificent for its time. It was forty feet square, framed in heavy timbers and covered with unpainted clapboards like the common house.

It was two full stories high under a pyramidal roof with a bell-less bell tower at the peak. The casement windows of both stories were fitted with the luxury of diamond glass.

"Within, at the head of the central aisle, the lofty pulpit was reached by its winding steps that embraced the slightly elevated deacon's seat in their curve. The most desirable pews,

occupied by the town dignitaries, were those on either side of the pulpit and facing it along the north wall. The next most desirable ones were the central ones, flanking the center

aisle. The poorest pews were the raised ones along the side wall facing, not the pulpit, but the center of the church. All the pews at the outset were rough-hewn benches. But

for the lack of a bell, a gallery, and musket racks behind the guards* seats at the rear, deficiencies that were eventually filled in Milford, this meeting house was typical of the more

substantial ones in New England throughout the seventeenth century.

 

It is a fair guess that by the time Milford's meeting house was completed, not a grown tree remained anywhere within either its stockade or that of Stratford five miles away across the river. By the end of 1641, Stratford doubtless had a few framed houses too and, but for Milford's better public buildings, the two settlements presented the same crude aspect. Between the buildings there was mud, broken only by a few shrubs round the houses, and the withered gardens of the homelots. Everywhere the gray mud not yet softened with green, and the yellow of raw

timber not yet weathered into gray.

 

THE FIRST TWO TRIBES 67

 

In the annals of the two colonies during the next dozen years, four events are of historical consequence:

 

In 1643 Milford, requiring protection against the Dutch, surrendered its previous independence and joined the New Haven Confederation, accepting perforce and conditionally

the theocracy which it had not practiced before.

 

In 1645 Stratford's meeting house got the first bell in Connecticut.

 

In 1648 Moses Wheeler of Stratford got the first concession for a ferry across the Great River a raft with a pair of oars at each end. This "Wheeler, incidentally, was a giant, hated Indians and made himself hated by them. One morning, when he was in his cellar, a group of Indians appeared in the hatchway suggestively armed with tomahawks. Picking up a half -empty cider barrel, Mr. "Wheeler said, ´┐ŻLet's all have a drink," and himself drank from the bung. The Indians thought the barrel was full, lost their nerve before such strength, and departed.

 

In 1651 occurred the supposed hanging of "Goody" (Good wife) Bassett for a witch on "Witch Rock in Stratford, the only execution for witchcraft in the valley.

 

Throughout this early period Stratford was in a continuous state of tension with the Indians, as was Fairfield to the west of it, because of the refusal of the new generation of natives to recognize the English acquisition of the land by conquest. The trouble was aggravated by the cattle and swine of the whites straying into the Indians* planting field Bridgeport and by the Indians* weakness for stealing the crops of the whites, so that an armed guard was always maintained around all fields. Between 1644 and 1649 there were three cold-blooded murders by Indians in Fairfield,

two of them of women. The three murderers were properly arrested, and, after two of them had escaped, the third was brought to trial and executed. The General Court at Hartford

rejected a motion to declare war, a measure which, by de- priving the Indians of civil rights, would have greatly helped the colonists. In 1656 a Mr. Ludlow of Fairfield confirmed

his title to a large tract by purchasing it and taking a regular

 

68 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

deed, "although Mr. Ludlow had been in possession of it for nearly seventeen years." Encouraged by this success, all the Indians of Fairfield and Stratford began to clamor for pay-

ment for their former land, starting a series of conferences, treaties, repudiations by the Indians, purchases, repurchases, and generally bad blood on both sides which continued for

thirty years more. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the Great River, the Milfordites, having purchased their land at the outset, lived at peace with their native neighbors.

 

The years 1656 and 1657 mark respectively the end of the first phase of colonization in the valley, and of pure Puritanism. In 1656 the Reverend Peter Prudden died, and the Milford that he left behind him was an age away from the pioneer village of only seventeen years before. The danger from the heathen and wolves had all but retired over the northern horizon and, given a proper industriousness, every family in town was on a comfortable subsistence basis, its manpower bringing in and its womanpower finishing all its necessities of food, shelter and clothing.

 

The dawn light of a May Sabbath first struck the belfry that still wanted a bell to rival Stratford's. In the twilight below, the sentries no longer looked out at the forest but over miles of open pasture and fields corrugated by spring plowing, the whole checker boarded with fences of stone or split rails, with farms in their closes and with orchards in bloom. In the village proper the yellow oblongs of light along the dark streets came no longer from wakened hearths shining through oiled skins or parchment but from rush candles behind real casement windows with diamond panes. The dwellings that took shape around these windows out of the dawn mist were sizable, clapboarded structures housing their great chimneys, varying from a story in height to the

lofty salt boxes recently built by Magistrate Robert Treat and a dozen others.

 

As the light grew, low palings of pickets appeared before

many of the houses. In the little front yards imported grass

was already growing, and lilacs in bloom and other shrubs

were mounting to the second stories against the weathered

 

 

 

THE FIRST TWO TRIBES 6$

 

clapboards. In the rear of the old homelots, the stumps had

rotted into the soil of big gardens, already plowed and partly

planted, while behind them young orchards were in full pink

and white bloom and the first sunlight made them murmur-

ous with bees at their predestined mission of refilling the

half -empty cider kegs in the cellars.

 

 

 

 

At the southern fringe of the village, the last features

to come out of the sea mist were the masts of ships, the ware-

houses, the lines of oystermen's shacks. Around the pond

between the town house and meeting house lay a small green

where there was no useful planting. Here and in some of the

little front yards young trees grew unmolested, trees that

had been left as seedlings when the ground was cleared and

were now outfanning their duster tips over the lower gables,

baby trees that were to outlast every man-made structure

and become the first village elms of New England.

 

Comparable to the change in the appearance of the

village was that in the appearance of the people. The Lord's

and the DeviPs admonition to tend the formers garden had

transformed almost all the householders into substantial far-

mers with a few hundred good acres outside the palisade

where they raised all needful clothing and food except rum.

On the other hand, they produced exportable crops of hides,

furs, horses, cattle, pork, beef, mutton, fish, flour, corn

meal, barrel and pipe staves. A half dozen big merchants

and shippers such as the Bryans were rich even by European

 

 

 

/O THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

standards. At ten o'clock, when the drummer boy rolled the

final summons to meeting from the meeting house belfry,

the families that emerged from the houses the man and wife

in front, the former carrying his musket, and the children

behind were those of a prosperous village. Several men wore

long red coats over plush waistcoats and breeches. A few had

expensive ^beaverettes" in place of the old sugar loaf hats.

Many wore shoes of buff leather, with silver buckles adorned

with garnets, and slashes revealing gay red or green stockings.

The wealthy ladies had red or blue cloaks with hoods and

elegant shoes of red morocco, flowering russet, silk, velvet

or damask. The poorer people still wore long, homespun

coats and cloaks, the men woolen caps or sugar-loaf hats,

but most of them were also able to display red stockings and

elegant silver buckles on their square-toed shoes. Only the

poorest wore heavy boots that made an unseemly thumping

as they entered the meeting house.

 

But the great and significant change was in the minds

and hearts of the congregation when it assembled. The

majority of those present were of a generation that had

grown up in the seventeen years since the first settlement,

years in which the risk of starvation or violent death had

decreased while comfort had increased. The immigrant par-

ents of these children, being in constant danger, had felt

themselves utterly in God's hands, and accordingly had been

utterly humble in their lives and under the ministration of

His vicar. But with the youngsters the oldest of them now

in their thirties the adventure of physical living had been

less risky, and in consequence their religious necessity had

been less desperately passionate. No less serious and respon-

sible than their elders, they yet felt qualified to arrive at

their own opinions upon ultimate matters. Especially at this

time, when a successor to Mr. Prudden had not been selected

and the visiting minister was on trial, they listened to his

sermon with a frankly critical attitude. Sometimes their

criticism took a form that called on the tithingman in

charge of discipline in meeting to use his long rod with its

knob for drowsy gentlemen and its feather for equivalent

 

 

 

THE FIRST TWO TRIBES /I

 

ladies. The Calvinist individualism which had always char-

acterized a man's relation with God, but had not sanctioned!

any questioning of settled doctrine, of the opinion of the

congregation, or of the Lord's anointed minister, this in-

dividualism was now invading all these dangerous fields. The

youngsters were going so far as to question the parental

congregation in its infallible control of church membership.

And with that change the first of America's major social

tragedies was being enacted.

 

Under Puritan theology there were two sacraments >

baptism and holy communion, the first celebration of the

latter being also the occasion of the communicant's joining

the church and entering thereby into the State of Grace

which was the prerogative of the elect. Baptism occurred in

infancy, and the condition of it was that the parents be

church members. Communion, or union with the church*

was voluntary, but with two precedent conditions: the in-

dividual must be baptized and he must, before admission*

stand a severe inquisition on the part of the entire congrega-

tion as to the validity of his conversion or regeneration.

 

This inquisition many of the young generation, however

anxious they might be to join the church, now declared

themselves unwilling to meet. Knowing every member of the

congregation with village thoroughness, they questioned the

holier-than-thou assumption that the Lord had commissioned

them to express His will as to the redemption of all and

sundry. Prayerfully, young men concluded that their own

inmost conscience was as fit to pass upon their eligibility for

church membership as was a majority of the church members*

 

Fathers who had sacrificed everything in order to raise

their sons in the hope of the immediate establishment of

the Holy Commonwealth, the New Jerusalem on earth, now

saw their boys refusing even to qualify for the elect. As:

parents they were defeated, while in larger terms their idea

of the Holy Commonwealth was evaporating before the fact

of an all too secular commonwealth. This was the beginning

of the Great Puritan Decline.

 

The decline became official in 1657 with the adoption

 

 

 

/2 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

of the Halfway Covenant by a synod of ministers, its subse-

quent recommendation by the General Courts, and its adop-

tion in some form by many congregations. The immediate

crisis impelling the Synod of 1657 into its unorthodox posi-

tion was the fact that large numbers of the younger genera-

tion who had refused to qualify for church membership

under the old ordeal were now presenting their own children

for baptism, and baptism was for none but the children of

church members. Not only were thousands of babies being

left in Calvinistic, infant damnation, but, since the unbap-

tized could under no circumstances join the church, in

another twenty years there would be almost no church left

to join. The Halfway Covenant provided that baptized in-

fants could, on reaching years of discretion, merely "own

the covenant" and thereby qualify themselves for church

membership and their children for baptism. Of the two

Puritan sacraments, baptism and communion, such people

would experience only the first. They were only "halfway"

to grace. Theirs was the Halfway Covenant.

 

Thus, as throughout its history, the Church of Christ,

by refusing to die at its spiritual guns, saved itself and its

influence as a secular institution. The congregations were no

longer communities of saints who had attained Heavenly

Grace here and now, but missionary societies urging the un-

regenerate to qualify by good works for redemption in a

postmortal hereafter, snobbish societies of the leading fami-

lies who undertook to run the towns. In the form of church

courts they began to examine and censor the life of the

citizenry and to earn their future reputations. The proposed

site of God's Holy Commonwealth shifted back from New

England to heaven. The enrollments of the churches in-

creased. And the "noblest" large-scale experiment ever tried

in America was over.

 

 

 

The Next Seven Tribes (1655-1743)

 

 

 

F

 

JL^OLLO

 

 

 

the arrival of the first two tribes In 1639,

it took a hundred and thirty-two years for sixteen more

separate tribes, or plantations, of the Chosen People to occupy

the rest of the Promised Land, which they eventually did

clear to the three tips of the river's headwaters in Washing-

ton, Lanesboro and Richmond. In some of these settlements

the avaricious motives of the Devil seemed to outweigh the

impulse to worship the Lord. Also, increasingly there appeared

the new motive of American social individualism, the desire

to move out into frontier elbowroom free from the older

and already crowded settlements. But generally throughout

this colonizing era the prevalent motive was the religious one.

For most of the people most of the time the controlling in-

terest of life continued to be in God and His cosmic drama*

 

Third Tribe, Paugassef, or Derby (1655-1665)'

 

The third tribe consisted of five families from Milford

who in 1655 drove their oxcarts ten miles up the Indian

trail to settle on the heights at Paugasset. Below, the Housa-

tonic, the Naugatuck and tidewater convened between

mountainous bluffs in a titanic, slow whirlpool. In its natural

state this was surely the most magnificent site on the river,

as it would be today if the industrial cities of Derby and

Shelton could be deleted and the Naugatuck cleansed of the

sewage of its industrial wealth. Appropriate to the future

of the vicinity, the plain motive of the original settlement

was the DeviPs, for most or all of the five families bought

 

73

 

 

 

74 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

shares In the trading post already established there by some

New Haven people. Nevertheless, they continued to make a

persuasive show of being good Puritans, most of them making

every Sabbath the twenty-mile round trip to attend their

old church in Milford, though the law with its five-shilling

fine did not require them to go so far.

 

It is plain that all did not go smoothly between Milford

and her northern daughter. During the period of first settle-

ment there occurred an obviously hostile though obscure

event referred to in local history as "the incident of Parson

Pradden's pigs." Also, Milford for a long time forestalled

Paugasset in its efforts to get independent township, and in

1659 the "Wolf -killer 3 ' Edward Wooster asked the General

Court whether he should seek from New Haven or from

Milford the bounty for seven wolves destroyed. In 1660 the

Paugassetites started the shipbuilding industry, which was to

flourish for almost two centuries. In 1661 Edward Riggs

sheltered the regicides Goffe and Whalley in his palisaded

house while they were being moved from the famous Judges 3

Cave in New Haven to the house of Micah Tompkins in

Milford, where they were successfully concealed for three

years.

 

Fourth Tribe, Woodbury (1665-1685)

 

After the death of their first minister, the Reverend

Adam Blakeman, in 1665, Stratford split in two on the issue

of the Halfway Covenant, the conservatives immediately

ordaining the Reverend Israel Chauncey and the liberals, or

Halfwayites, ordaining three years later the young Reverend

Zechariah "Walker. There followed some years of acrimonious

squabbling, mostly epistolary, at the height of which one

"loving brother" wrote to another in the opposite camp:

"It seemeth our greatest difference is what is our difference."

 

In 1670 the General Court of Connecticut enacted in

dignified annoyance that tc it shall not be offensive to this

Court if Mr. Walker and his Company doe meet distinctly

elsewhere." Accordingly in April, 1673, the first contingent

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES /J

 

of the "Walker schism, being fifteen families complete with

children and worldly goods, passed Paugasset with rafts and

canoes, bound for the tributary Pomperaug sixteen miles

farther into the wilderness up the Great River. Four or five

miles up the small stream they had bought from some Indian

chiefs, sight unseen, an allegedly large and fertile valley.

Early on what was probably the third day of their journey,

they passed the mouth of the Pomperaug as being too small

according to the instructions they had from the Indian

sellers. Four miles farther up they climbed the larger Shepaug,

including lofty Roxbury Falls, wandered lost for a day in

the Roxbury region, and were finally led by the Lord south-

ward through the wilderness into their excellent valley,

which they immediately recognized from the top of Good

Hill. What they had not been apprised of, they saw also in

the middle of the valley a fortified and occupied Indian vil-

lage on a natural pinnacle which they later called Castle

Rock. This led to a conference in which three conflicting

views were advanced, each of them soundly puritanical. One

proposal was that they first kneel down and thank the Lord

for having led them to this valley and then await His advice.

The second was to go down immediately and attack the In-

dians. The third was to return to Stratford and sue the chiefs

who had sold them the land. The pious view prevailed, and

when, after thanks, they went down into the valley they

were not disturbed.

 

For three years thereafter they lived a migratory exis-

tence in their new domain, occupying tents in the summers,

laying out and clearing the ground, building a mill for their

grain, worshiping in the gorgeous, uplifted, natural temple

of the Orenaug rocks, clearing by order a highway down to

Paugasset, and returning to Stratford for the winters while

the Indians stole the grain they left hidden in log cribs.

During King Philip's War in 1676 , the development was

suspended for fear of disaffection among the local Indians

and because Woodbury, like the other towns in the valley,

sent more than its quota of men to the colonial forces. In

1677, after the peace, they completed permanent settlement

 

 

 

j6 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

along wide Woodbury Main Street as It Is today, building

several stockaded houses in place o a palisade round the

whole mile-long village. In 1681 the impossibility of agreeing

on a place for a meeting house required a reference to Magis-

trate Nathan Gold of Fan-field and Colonel Robert Treat of

Milford who was now deputy governor of Connecticut.

The place "pitched upon" was near the grave of the sagamore

Pomperaug who had ruled the region, and across the street

from Drum Rock where the Masonic Temple now stands.

The site of the meeting house is today occupied by a small

barn, while that of Pomperaug's grave is marked by a fitting

bronze tablet on one of the characteristic outcrops of his

one-time domain.

 

During the period of Woodbury's schism and settle-

ment, the chief event elsewhere, other than King Philip's

War, was the absorption of New Haven, including Milford,

into Connecticut Colony In 1665* In the same year the

colony was divided into four counties, of which New Haven

and Fairfield were divided by the Housatonic, each having a

fringe of towns in its watershed.

 

In 1673 Paugasset changed it name to Derby and was

incorporated as a town. Not till 1682 did that rich little

settlement build a church, and then a wretched shanty In a

section appropriately called the Squabble Hole, a shanty

hardly larger than a deckhouse on one of the merchantmen

being built In the flourishing shipyards below.

 

In 1680 Stratford, having greatly increased In popula-

tion In spite of the defection of the Woodburyites, built Its

second church, this time on Watch House, now Academy,

HilL The new structure was graced with high-backed pews.

 

In 1 68 r Connecticut Colony reached a new agreement

with all the sachems having any claim to the Stratford

lands, repurchasing them all and taking a new blanket deed

for the whole tract, which Included most of modern Shelton.

This ended the petty clashes in Stratford proper, but the

Indians in their fort at Potatuck across the river from Pau-

gasset remained sulky, and delayed the settlement of Shelton

until the eighteenth century.

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES //

 

fifth Tribe* Pabqwoque, or "Danbwry (1685-1708)

 

In the spring of 1685 seven families from Norwalk

and one from Stratford made their way twenty-five miles

northward through the woods with their possessions, bought

from the friendly Indians Pahquioque, the "open plain** on

the tributary Still River, and typically marked each of the

three corners of the survey by "a rock" and the fourth by

"an ash tree." They built their cabins in two rows along

Town Street, which is today lower D anbury Main Street

where it ends at South Street.

 

The local historian says the early inhabitants were fa-

mous for piety. On the other hand, there is no evidence that

they organized their church until 1695, and, though they

built an early meeting house, its date, location and description

are not on record. Furthermore, the Devil's motive is inti-

mated from the beginning by the fact that they and their

"open plain 7 * became immediately famous for excellent beans,

which they hauled to market down to the older towns on the

Sound, thereby earning the name of Beantown. When, in

i 6 8 7, they applied for a township, their own choice of a

name was the humble one of Swampfield, from the great

swamp, now drained, that used to parallel Town Street to

the east. The same note of humility is heard in the asser-

tion in the application that "there are twentie families at

Pahquioque and more desirable persons acominge." Robert

Treat, being now governor of Connecticut Colony, thought

the name "Swampfield" undignified, and saw to its incorpora-

tion under the name of a village in Essex called Danbury.

A few days after signing the incorporation, the governor

managed the famous Charter Oak incident whereby the

already "ancient" rights of Connecticut were preserved.

 

In 1690 Stratford passed an ordinance that was novel

surely in New England, probably in the British Empire, and

possibly in human history: ". . . Voted, that from the

middle of March next to the middle of May next no sow

that have had pigs or hath pigs, shall be suffered to goe

upon the commons or streets, but by the owners shall

 

78 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

stiutt up [the reason for this daring enactment is anti-

climactic] for the preservation of the increase of our flock

of sheep, to save our lambs."

 

During this period there was founded the legend of

Captain Kidd's burying treasure on Milford Island, the

sands of which have since been thoroughly and fruitlessly

mined. To the fact that he visited Milford village at least

 

 

 

 

once there is credible evidence in the form of a letter written

in 1699 by a young lady:

 

. . Aunt Prudence has told you of the visit from Capt. Kidd,

from .the craft wh. was seen, to come in the harbor at 7 of the

clock in the evening. He stayed in the house till in the early morn-

ing and sat all the night by the fire with Jacobeth and Tomas Welsh

carrying himself in an uncivil and bold manner. I told Aunt Pru-

dence that he will come to trouble in the sinful way, wh. he has

done, f or Zecharaiah White has told us all about him. . . . I

want to tell you, cousin Thankful, what he did: when he came

in the room he put his arms around my waiste, and kyssed me, wh.

made Jacobeth laugh and Tomas Welsh cough. Jacobeth says that

Capt. Bob is not so bad as the folks say. ... I overheard Jacobeth

say that Kidd was going on a long cruise, and that he had left

some things with him. I am going to tell Aunt Prudence all about

it, and find out what they are. ...

 

Your cousin, Patience Tut tie.

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES 7<?

 

In addition to the stories that caused the overturning

of Milford Island, the legend of Kidd's having buried treasure

on Stratford Point became so persistent that in 1850 a com-

pany was formed and some miles of sand were plowed on the

outer stretch of beach still called "The Gold Diggings."

 

In 1702 the old family quarrel between Stratford and

Woodbury was composed when, upon the death of the lat-

ter J s minister Mr. Walker, the now aged Reverend Israel

Chauncey of Stratford came up to officiate at the ordination

of Woodbury's new minister, Mr. Joseph Stoddard*

 

Meanwhile, in 1701, the War of the Spanish Succession

had begun in Europe, releasing in America what is sometimes

called the First French and Indian War, but which was

virtually the beginning of a single, sixty years* struggle

between the British and the French for the mastery of the

Continent. American hostilities opened in February, 1704,

with the French-led sneak raid and massacre at the Massa-

chusetts frontier town of Deerfield. The minister there, car-

ried off prisoner and later ransomed, was John Williams, a

member of the Williams family that was later closely identi-

fied with the history of the Housatonlc Valley.

 

After the Deerfield massacre Woodbury and Danbury

became outpost towns with garrisons and several stockaded

houses. Also, the Connecticut General Court passed repressive

measures on the local Indians, because of the difficulty of

distinguishing them from the marauders from Canada who

were roaming the frontiers in small scalping parties. Each

town was to assign limits for its Indians, which they would

pass at their peril, and they were offered a 10 bounty for

any enemy Indian they captured. White men, both military

and civilian, were offered a 5 bounty for the scalps of male

enemy Indians. Not long after his ordination in Woodbury

the Reverend Mr. Stoddard, from the large palisaded house

the town built him, shot dead two Indians he saw lurking

in his garden.

 

Doubtless Mr. Stoddard's hunting of Indians caused no

more stir in Woodbury than an episode involving tea that

occurred in his solid, seventeenth century mansion. A pack-

 

 

 

80 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

age of the herb was sent to the minister, being the first to

reach this frontier township, with the injunction that it was

to be used only for sickness or on very special occasions.

Shortly, it appears, the parson's two daughters were over-

whelmed by the vices of curiosity and frivolity, for they

invited their respective swains to a tea party in one of their

bedrooms, providing furtive access thereto by a ladder.

Being uninformed in the preparation of tea, the young

people boiled it violently at the fireplace, emptied it into

a pewter platter, leaves and all, and drank it like soup. The

fate of the daughters and the swains is not of record.

 

Mr. Stoddard seems to have been possessed of aa: amiable

vagueness to which, in some part, it would be charitable to

attribute his brutal murder of the two Indians. Several

times on Sunday morning his wife asked him to mind the

baby, and, when he took it, went off to church. One of the

deacons knew what it meant when she appeared alone,

wherefore he slipped out of church, reported at the parsonage,

himself took the baby and held it while Mr. Stoddard went

and held the service.

 

The picture of Mr. Stoddard approaches completeness

with the tale of his Newfoundland dog which, if at large,

would follow its master to church, proceed up the aisle at

elephantine leisure, mount the pulpit steps to a landing part

way up, turn there and sit down facing the congregation, and

remain so throughout the service. At length Mr. Stoddard

commanded his several small sons to confine the dog and

see that it did not happen again. The next Sabbath the dog

came up the aisle a little later than usual, with the parson's

second-best coat on, buttoned over his back with the fore-

legs through the arms, the parson's second-best wig on his

head, and an old pair of the parson's spectacles on his nose.

At home, after church, all the boys denied guilt except the

youngest, who was duly whipped. Years later he told his

father that they had all done it together but that he, as

the youngest, was selected to take the punishment for which

they had prepared him by putting sheepskin in his pants.

 

A major scandal inJParson Stoddard's time was an appli-

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES 8l

 

cation in 1708 by Woodbury's Jonathan Taylor to the

General Assembly for a divorce. He proceeded to prove that

his wife had tried to kill him, had been otherwise violent,

had some time since deserted him and gone to New York

Colony, and was now living openly with one John Allen, a

Negro. The General Assembly generously granted the applica-

tion.

 

"Woodbury as well as other colonies! makes claim to

the famous Indian-Puritan episode that is supposed to- have

occurred about this time* After two of the settlers had spent

the evening In the house of one of them disputing the ques-

tion of predestination^ the guest rose to go home and, as he

did so, looked to the priming of his musket. "Why do you do

that?" asked the host. "If It Is predestined that an Indian

is to shoot you, you cannot prevent it. 33 "True/* said the

other, "but if it Is predestined that I am to shoot an Indian

I must be ready. 3 * By modern psychology that was a rationali-

zation of a practical intent. Actually It revealed the center

of the Indomitable energy of the true Puritans* In all their

hardships and dangers they were working, not for themselves

but for the glory of God; they were God's agents to carry

out His plan which had been foreordained since before the

beginning of the world.

 

Sixth Tribe, Quanneapagne or Newioivn (1705-1720)

 

Having cast off "Woodbury to the thunder of schism,

Stratford next mothered Newtown so gently that it is im-

possible to find the motive behind the settlement. Since the

region, at first called Quanneapague, was mostly inside the

frontier line of "Woodbury and Danbury, the fact that the

war with the French and Indians was going on does not

seetn to have deterred the settlers, In 1705 a group of Strat-

ford men bought the town from the Indians, and In 1708 the

General Court already called the General Assembly gave

the residents town privileges. In 1710 there were twenty-two

proprietors who took their "pitch* 3 of land, and in 1711 the

village was laid out about as it Is today. In the same year

82 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

efforts unsuccessful until 1714 were begun to call a minis-

ter. In 1720 the first meeting house was roofed and put into

use, but it was not finished until many years later.

 

Seventh Tribe, Weantinock> or New Mil ford (1705-1720)

 

In New Milford the hills within and bounding the

valley begin to get higher, the river swifter, and the whole

landscape more rugged and mountainous. The center of the

town is a sort of elliptical bowl, three miles long by a mile

wide, where the drama of the Indians and the whites was

played out for twenty-five years with maximal credit to

both sides. The mile-wide valley plain, through which the

modern, contracted river winds, is the former bottom, as

the flanking hills are the former banks, of the enormous,

ancestral Housatonic. A hundred feet or so up each of these

hills, and at the same level, are two wide river terraces of

the ancient stream. On the western of these, called Indian, or

Fort, Hill, the Indians had their village and fort of "Wean-

tinock. On the eastern shelf, called Town Hill, the whites

made their village. Thus the two civilizations faced each other

across the mile-wide "Indian Field/* which was the name of

the central valley plain. Three miles downriver stood the

divided mountain above the "great falls," Metichawan, where

the Lover's Leap Rapids had eaten their gorge, and where

the sachem Waramaug had his palace.

 

There were early unauthorized purchases from the In-

dians in the Weantinock region, leaving the unexplained,

prehistoric name of Gallows Hill in southern New Milford,

and the large log house of one John Read in the original

village. In 1705 the General Assembly wiped out all earlier

tides Mr. Read fought the matter for years by granting

a syndicate of in "adventurers** under the leadership of

the ubiquitous Colonel Treat, the right to purchase $ 0,000

acres from the Indians. Since very few of the adventurers

ever adventured upriver into this northern wilderness and

there was a lively speculation in the rights, this was the

first plantation on the river founded frankly as a business

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES 83

 

speculation. The price paid the Indians was about a cent an

acre, and the prices realized by the adventurers averaged

about a cent and a half. The Indians retained the right to

harvest apples in the Indian Field and to fish at Metichawan.

 

Most of the actual settlers are said to have taken to the

wilderness for purposes of religious freedom. The first was a

John Bunyan of a man named John Noble of "Westfield,

Massachusetts. In 1706 he bought several tracts from the

rich Bryans in Milford, and, in spite of Weantinock's being

outside the frontier and the war raging, he reached it by

Indian paths, bringing with him his eight-year-old daughter

Sarah "to cook his victuals for him." He built his first cabin

at the foot of Fort Hill, right under the Indians* noses. Later

the same summer he built a second and larger log house on

Town Hill, at the foot of Aspetuck Hill, a little west of the

already deserted house of John Read and at the head of the

future New Milford green, then a thick swamp. In the

autumn of the same year he entertained a company of

travelers who wanted to reach Albany, some hundred and

twenty-five miles to the northwest without a house between

or any trails but those of the Mohawks. Leaving his daughter

with an Indian squaw, Noble guided his guests to their desti-

nation and returned after three weeks, finding his little girl

well, happy and fixed forever in the affections of the Indians.

 

Settlement in force did not occur till after the peace of

Utrecht in 1712, in which year and until 1715 town meetings

were held in Milford. In 1714 there were fourteen cabins

around the quagmire of the future green. In 1712 the settlers

had organized their church and called the Reverend Daniel

Boardman, whose subsequent and sincere friendship with the

great sachem Waramaug was a pattern of proper relations

with the Indians. In 1716 he moved into residence, and

services at first were held in the deserted Read house. In 1719

they voted the meeting house, but it was not occupied for

seven years and not finished for twelve.

 

Meanwhile, in the older part of the valley, the Reverend

Samuel Andrew, third minister at Milford, had, in 1717,

become the third president of Yale, holding the post till

 

 

 

84 THE LAND A3NTD THE LORD

 

1718 when lie was succeeded by his son-in-law, Timothy

Cutler, of Stratford. In the year that Mr. Andrew became

president of Yale, a group of Anglicans in Stratford set up

the first Episcopal church in New England, though their

action was illegal and they were subject to fine for failure to

attend the orthodox Congregational church. They had a

weapon, however, in a long-smoldering disposition of Par-

liament to punish Connecticut for too much independence

generally, and an eagerness on the part of the Church of

England to appoint a bishop over all of New England. The

Connecticut General Assembly in 1708 cagily passed the

niggardly Toleration Act, permitting the Episcopalians to

worship as they saw fit, but still requiring them to pay taxes

for the support of the Congregational establishment. Thus

did the Puritans in their decadence admit the church that

had persecuted them, and with it the seeds of Toryism.

 

In 1710 died Robert Treat of Milford, certainly the

most prominent and useful citizen of Connecticut in the

seventeenth century; the commander of the colony's troops

during King Philip's War and second in command in New

England; governor of Connecticut for thirteen years; hero

of the Charter Oak incident; leader of an expedition to the

far southwest, and founder there of Newark, New Jersey.

But for all his ability, Treat was a man of action and not

properly in the puritanical, intellectual tradition of the valley.

 

In 1719 Danbury built its second meeting house, a sub-

stantial one at the corner of modern Main and West streets.

 

In 1720 Derby, now flourishing between shipbuilding

and the West Indian trade, likewise built itself a meeting

house less shameful in diminutive size than the original one

had been. The minister was the Reverend Daniel Humphreys

whose son David was to be distinguished in the Revolution.

The chief parishioner was Colonel Johnson, who was much

beloved by the local Indians, raised and commanded several

detachments of them for the French Wars, and whose home

address was in Sodom Lane.

 

In 1717 Ripton (later called Shelton) was set off as a

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES 85

 

separate parish, though remaining until 1789 a part of the

town of Stratford.

 

Eighth Tribe, The Greenwoods, or Litchfield (i7 I 9- I 7 2 4)

 

By the Peace of Utrecht in 1712 the Five Nations of

New York, including the Mohawks, were acknowledged to

be British subjects* This released the first westward emigra-

tion from settled New England, and specifically caused the

opening of the "Western Lands" of Connecticut, comprising

most of modern Litchfield County, where the presence of

the dangerous Mohawks had discouraged pioneering before.

The region was then called "The Greenwoods" because of its

growth of colossal pines, the name being applied particularly

to future Litchfield Township, because that was nearer to

civilization and so better known. Forty years after the whole

territory was settled, President Stiles of Yale, riding through

Norfolk and Canaan, measured a pine fifteen feet in girth

and counted four hundred annual rings in a cut one.

 

Litchfield Township was sold in 1719 at Hartford, t

which town that part of The Greenwoods had been given

previously. The method and conditions of sale were those

followed, with slight variations, in the settlement of the rest

of the valley thereafter, both in Connecticut and in Massa-

chusetts. The land was divided into sixty shares, or rights

in this case about 785 acres per right and fifty-seven of

these were disposed of at public sale. Of the remaining three,

one was to be given to the first minister absolutely, one

reserved for the support of the first and succeeding ministers,

and one reserved for the support of the school. The shares

were bought blind, and afterwards the purchasers drew lots

for the order of selection of their tracts. Only ^fraction of

each share was "pitched" at the original drawing, and in

later drawings the order of selection was reversed, so that

the division was fair in the long run. Speculation was dis-

couraged by three conditions of sale: every purchaser must

within three years build a habitable house at least sixteen feet

square; he must live in it for three years after Its completion;

 

 

 

86 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

for five years thereafter lie could not sell or lease; if lie broke

or failed to fulfill any of these conditions, his title was forfeit.

 

Settlement began in 1720, with three families, and three

years later there were forty-seven adult male inhabitants. The

original layout of the village was as it is today, the modern

green being then called Meeting House Street, modern North

Street then Town Street, and modern South Street, running

out of Meeting House Street approximately opposite Town

.Street, being then called Town Hill Street. Because of the

famous beauty of Litchfield today and the opinion sometimes

heard that such greens and elm arcades were "planned" by

the founding fathers, the actual origin of Litchfield's plan

is worth noting.

 

The highways meeting at the Center were originally

even wider than they are today sixteen, twelve and eight

rods, respectively "more," writes the honest, local historian,

tc for the convenience of the cattle than for the delight of

residents and strangers." Here, as in every new settlement

where the threats of Indians and wolves were still real, the

plan was to enclose for protection as much common pasture

land as possible within the line of huts, still keeping them

near enough together to comprise a united system of defense.

A second reason for the wide street was to provide a drill field

or training ground for the train band, but this could be pro-

vided outside the village as well as in its central common.

In the early days the identification of the "street" with the

public highroad as an avenue for transportation and com-

munication was not important, because both transport and

communication took the easiest route, whether over public

or private land. Any aesthetic motives for the wide streets

were wholly nonexistent. Typically of other early settle-

ments, the great avenues of Litchfield became, soon after

they were denuded of trees in the beginning, thick alder

swamps where the water collected on the underlying hard-

pan. Through these bushes and stands of marsh grass wound

cattle paths, footpaths and presently cartways, two of the

latter in each great street tending to follow the line of the

front of the houses. Stories of children and strangers getting

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES 87

 

lost in the jungles of these "streets'* were not unusual. The

only motive for clearing them was to improve the pasture

or the training ground, which latter was in the western part

of Meeting House Street, where the village gathered on the

annual Training- Day to watch the wonderful convolutions

of the plumed soldiers.

 

Litchfield called its minister in 1721, voted its meeting

liouse in 1723, and raised and completed it three years later.

It stood in the middle of Meeting House Street opposite

the end of Town Hill modern South Street.

 

In 1722 fresh French and Indian troubles broke out in

eastern Massachusetts and Maine, and the Massachusetts gov-

ernor and Council declared war independently, though Great

Britain was at peace with France at the moment. The trouble

spread westward, and now it was Litchfield and New Milford

that were the frontier towns, selected houses being palisaded

and garrisoned. During the next two years one Litchfield

man was captured and escaped, one was stealthily murdered

and scalped in his field, and two strange Indians were shot,

the bounty on their scalps being now increased to 20. In

1727 the scare passed. The local Indians were at least super-

ficially friendly, keeping the colonial order that they must

stay within their prescribed limits at their peril. Their limits

included Litchfield's highest hill which, because any local

Indian was called "Tommy Indian/ 5 became known as Mount

Tom.

 

In 1722 New England had rocked when President

Cutler of Yale, along with Tutors Browne and Samuel John-

son, professed episcopacy, were dismissed, and went to Eng-

land where they received Anglican ordination and D.D/S.

In 1723 they returned as missionaries. Dr. Cutler becoming

rector of the newly organized Christ Church in Boston and

Dr. Johnson of the parish of the same name in Stratford.

In 1724 the latter congregation built an Episcopal church,

the importation of one Samuel Folsom to do the metalwork

setting the stage for America's best Cinderella story, which

will be recounted later.

 

 

 

88 THE LAND AND THE 3LORD

 

Ninth Tribe, Sheffield (1725-1743)

 

In 1725 a committee authorized by the Massachusetts

General Court bought from the Sachem Konkapot and other

Housatonic Indians the southwestern corner of Berkshire

County, an area about eight miles wide with the river flowing

through the middle of it, and lying northward from the

Connecticut line approximately as far as modern Stockbridge

village. The price was "Four Hundred and Sixty Pounds,

Three Barrels of Sider and thirty quarts of Rum/* From

the beginning, the tract was divided into the Lower and

Upper Townships by an east-west line crossing the Great

River at a point where the Great Bridge was presently to be

built for the Great Road from Boston to Albany, and where

U.S. Route 7 crosses the Great River today at the northern

end of Great Barrington village. At the time of the original

survey, the Great Road still swung half a mile south to

cross the Great River at the ford at the Great Wigwam

where Major Talcot had destroyed the fugitive Indians at the

end of King Philip's "War fifty years before.

 

In 1726 shares in the Lower Township were sold in

Springfield. One of the purchasers was Matthew Noble of

Westfield, a worthy kinsman of John of Westfield and New

Milford. Matthew had already explored the region, and,

having bought his tract, repeated the feat of his cousin,

taking in with him his sixteen-year-old daughter Hannah to

keep house for him. Riding into the wilderness, carrying a

feather bed on the horse behind her, she was the first white

woman in Berkshire County.

 

The new settlers met with and returned some violence

on the part of a few Dutch who had titles under the old

Westenhook Patent, were in at least seasonal residence and

had done a little building. Civilities were exchanged between

the governors of Massachusetts and New York> and the

difficulty was settled by a recognition of such Dutch claims

as had actually been developed.

 

In 1722 the Lower Township was incorporated as

Sheffield. Two years later it voted, raised and finished its

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES 89

 

church and ordained its first minister. The vote for the rais-

ing is more explicit in some respects than any found in the

 

records of other towns:

 

Voted to Set the meeting House on a Certain Nole of Land

which is In the Street or Highway.

 

Voted to allow three Barrels of Good Beare towards or for the

Raising of the meeting house.

 

Voted to allow twenty Gallons of Rhumb towards or for the

Raising of the meeting house or for the towns use.

 

Voted to allow twenty pounds of Sugar to go with the Rhumb

and Obadiah Noble and Ensign Ashley were made choice of to Dool

out Drinks to Strangers or Towns People and also to receive the

money likewise Ensign Ashley to serve as Pinman.

 

Voted to allow no drink to the Labourers after they are Dismist

from Labour. . . .

 

At the ordination in October, 1735, two important

names make their first appearance in the valley. Among the

assisting ministers were the Reverend Samuel Hopkins of

"West Springfield and the Reverend Jonathan Edwards of

Northampton.

 

Meanwhile, after the opening of the region in 1725, the

northern, or Upper, Township, from modern Great Bar-

rington village north to modern Stockbridge village, had

lain in an unorganized and lawless state, without even so

much orderliness as would be given by a division and sale

of lots. It had, in consequence, become a paradise for tax

dodgers and all kinds of criminals centered around the

fastnesses of Monument Mountain. In 1736 the northern half

of this area was enclosed in the new township of Stockbridge.

But this left the southern half, including the mountain, as

wild as ever, a plague to the decent people in the northern

part of Sheffield, who were under the additional hardship

of having to ride six miles down to Sheffield Center to

church. Soon after the incorporation of the town they began

to agitate for separate parish rights, with the lawless region

to the north incorporated with them so that they could

bring the rascals there under control.

 

 

 

90 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

In 1742 this northern strip o Sheffield, locally called

Hcmsatonuck from its ancient name, already had two hun-

dred inhabitants and had taken upon itself to build and

maintain its own separate school. In that year its inhabitants

won their fight and became the North Parish of Sheffield,

the badman's land to the north being incorporated with

them. They set out with a promising rush, building their

church at once on the old common on the east of the river,

gracing it with a "belf ree" that was not roofed for three years

and never got a bell. For a year they "hired preaching/* then,

in '43, called the young Reverend Samuel Hopkins, nephew

of the divine of the same name who had assisted at the ordi-

nation in Sheffield. The young man was destined to become

oiie of New England's great theologians, and incidentally the

hero of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Minister's Wooing. As this

time, being just out of Yale, he was studying with Jonathan

Edwards in Northampton, where the messenger from Shef-

field's North Parish found him,. A few days later the Lord

accredited the call, and they rode back over the mountains

into the rugged country that forty-seven years before had

so offended the sensibilities of another young minister With,

its "hideous high** mountains.

 

Young Hopkins, less finicky but physically frail, found

himself equally tired. The second night out on the old Great

Road he wrote in his diary:

 

I went to bed after midnight, and after I was abed was much

troubled with gnats, which are very tedious here; they kept a

smoke by the door all night . . . but this did not keep them off,

but they came all around and into my bed, so . . .1 did not lie there

but about four hours, and slept I believe not one. The people of the

house seemed to be after the world, and not to savor of religion any

more than the heathen. . . . Came to w Tunnick at n o'clock, am

kindly received and well accornodated to all appearance.

 

After preaching a few Sabbaths, Mr. Hopkins recorded

that the congregation consisted of "very wicked people/*

On August ist he wrote: "Took a walk through the woods,

and as I returned went into the tavern, found a number of

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES 91

 

men tliere, who I believe had better been somewhere else.

Some were disguised by drink. . . . The circumstances of

this place seem to be more and more dreadful to me; there

seems to be no religion here; if I did not think I had a call

here I should be quite discouraged/* Two years later, in 1744,

the minister tried to have the two or three taverns closed.

"Some are offended at me/' he wrote sadly in his diary, e *yea

even rage at me/'

 

Making allowance for the sensibilities of the young divine,

who was unaccustomed to addressing the Lord otherwise

than from the refined appointments of New Haven and

Northampton, making allowance further for the fact that

the parish was temporarily embarrassed by the ruffians from

its northern section who had just been brought within the

law, admitting also that the chief motive for the carving

of the parish out of Sheffield had been religious, admitting

all this, yet in this frontier settlement that was going to be

Great Barrington there is already a suggestion of a worldli-

ness greater than in the downriver settlements. The inti-

mation is found less in the alcoholic status of the bar flies

than in the economic status of the respectable. In spite of

the original sale of shares In Sheffield having been under safe-

guards against speculation similar to those applied in Con-

necticut, land grabbing had got well under way in the fifteen

years since the settlement. Even at this early date all the land

in North Parish on the west of the river was in the hands

of three men. The social note of big landowning, henceforth

to characterize the settlements of future Berkshire County,

was already struck. In the mud and drunkenness of embry-

onic Great Barrington the existence of a small, landed, ruling

class was already inferring that wealth rather than godliness

was the chief aim of existence. Before long the same class

was to establish in the region a pattern and tradition of

pseudo-aristocratic, worldly charm instead of piety. And

at the same time there was founded among the commonality

in the taverns a proportionately more watchful jealousy of

their rights, and a quicker readiness to violence than in the

Connecticut towns. As between the inhabitants of the Lower

 

 

 

2 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

and the Upper Valley, the latter were to be the less godly

and stable, and correspondingly the more colorful and

explosive.

 

At the outset, however, and even while Mr. Hopkins

was inditing his complaints, the original, responsible element

in Housatonuck remained in control. In 1752 only two

years after their southern neighbors of Sheffield proper they

built their own independent grammar, or high, school. Yet

twelve years later this quixotic municipality was fined for

not maintaining a teacher even in its elementary school!

 

During the period of the settlement of Sheffield, Mil-

ford in 1728 built its second meeting house on the original

site, with a spire ninety feet high, a bell better than Strat-

ford's, and a clock. Citizens living outside the village were

not taxed for the clock "on account of the distance they

lived from the church and could not see the clock anyhow."

In the same year of 1728 Derby built a school building, ap-

parently its first.

 

In 1730 the Connecticut General Assembly licensed

Peter Hubbell to run a ferry across the Great -River between

Newtown and a point in Woodbury presently to be in

Southbury near the mouth of the Pomperaug.

 

In 1731 New Milford finished its meeting house, which

had been used in an unfinished condition for five years, and

the following year it was found necessary to buy a drum to

summon the faithful to meetings.. At this time New Milford

also had a school building, the earlier date of its completion

not being of record.

 

In 1731 Southbury was incorporated as a separate parish.

In 1732 it called and ordained the Reverend John Graham,

who from 1732 to 1736 carried on a famous battle of pam-

phlets with the Reverend Samuel Johnson of Stratford on

the question of episcopacy.

 

In 1737 New Milford built the first bridge across the

Housatonic above Derby, a long, covered structure at the site

of the present Bennitt Street Bridge which did service till

the flood of 1802, which carried it away.

 

In 1710 the boundaries of Woodbury had been increased

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES 93

 

by the "North Purchase" of approximately the later towns

of Bethlehem and "Washington. In 1734 lots were sold and

the region spelled "Bethlem" in the early records was

promptly settled. In 1738 Bethlem asked the General Assem-

bly for and received ^'winter privileges," the right to hire

their own minister and hold their own services from Novem-

ber to March, instead of riding the six miles down to the

parent church in Woodbury. Bethlem made good use of its

winter privileges, for it hired young Joseph Bellamy, just

out of Yale. In 1739 it became a separate parish, and Mr.

Bellamy accepted a permanent call, holding services in a barn

until 1744.

 

Judea future "Washington Township and Roxbury

were carved out of Wbodbury as separate parishes in 1741

and 1743, respectively. Already had been born Roxbury 's

triumvirate of prodigious first cousins, Remember Baker,

Seth "Warner and Ethan Allen.

 

In 1743 the Sherman family invaded New Milford, the

older brother "William building in that year the first separate

store building in town. Young Roger went on into the north-

ern part of New Fairfield, afterwards named for him.

 

1743 was a year for ecclesiastical architecture in Strat-

ford. The Episcopalians got the six-foot, gilded weathercock

which still turns to the wind on Christ Church; and the

Congregationalists countered with a mammoth new meet-

ing house on the common Academy Hill with a spire a

hundred and thirty feet high, forty feet nearer heaven from

grade than any other edifice in the valley.

 

But throughout this period from the mid-twenties to

the early forties the most interesting feature is the rise in

religious interest. Ever since the beginning of the Puritan

decline in about 1660^ a consistent attack from all the pulpits

tip and down the valley had been directed at the dissoluteness

and indifference of each new generation of youih the period

having been that of the Restoration in England. But now a

religious unrest, some kind of reawakening, becomes widely

perceptible, evidencing itself both in increased membership

and piety in the established congregations and in experi-

 

 

 

94 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

mentation in new directions and the demand for ever-wider

tolerance.

 

In 1708 the Episcopalians had won the right to worship

according to their ritual, but they were still compelled to

pay taxes for the support of the established church. In 1727

Daniel Shelton, the richest citizen of Stratford's Riptoii

Parish, went to jail in protest against this tax. Soon thereafter

the Connecticut General Assembly relented and passed a

law that the church taxes of Episcopalians should go to the

support, not of the orthodox Congregational churches, but

of their own establishments. Presently the long-abhorred

Quakers and Baptists got the same concession. In 1726 and

1727 the unprecedented number of thirty-six persons joined

the church in New Milford. Then, after the completion of

the church building in 1731, nineteen, mostly young people,

"fell away" into Quakerism over a period of eight years. It

is symptomatic of the broadening tendency of the times that

New Milford's minister, the Reverend Daniel Boardman, used

to attend the Quaker meetings that were stealing his parish-

ioners.

 

In 1732 Newtown, where Dr. Johnson of Stratford had

been holding occasional services since 1724, organized an

Episcopal church and had a rector assigned. In 1737 Derby

did the same; the Roxbury region of Woodbury in 1740;

New Milford in 1743. In 1740 the Episcopalians of Ripton

Parish in Stratford built their own church. Outwardly, this

swing to Anglicanism would seem to indicate a surrender of

individualism. But this particular movement expressed rather

a reassertion of individualism, bolstered to be sure by an

increasing number of English immigrants in the population.

With the hindsight of two centuries we can already see great

doings afoot, doings that were to begin with religion and end

with epic politics, that were to begin by tolerating the Angli-

can Church and end by pitching it out, all for the same,

politically individualistic reasons.

 

The religious ferment of the twenties and thirties at

last boiled over in the Great Awakening of '40-^41. Theolog-

ically, this was a revival of original Puritanism, a revolt

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN TRIBES 9J

 

against the compromise of the Halfway Covenant. Socially

and politically, it was an expression of rising libertarianism.

By restoring individual, emotional religious experience as the

condition of church membership, in place of the now almost

universal, purely format qualification of "owning the cove-

nant," the people asserted their independence of the plutoc-

racy which had come to control not only the economy but

the churches also.

 

Oratorically, the chief leader of this religious debauch,

this strange emotional epidemic, the only one of its kind in

the history of New England, was the Englishman George

Whitefield who landed in Boston in 1740, added fuel to the

already raging flames, and became America's first great re-

vivalist. Theologically, the center of the movement was

Jonathan Edwards of Northampton, who as early as 1734

had engineered a full-scale dress rehearsal in his own con-

gregation, and in 1740 started the region- wide revival by a

series of guest sermons, the first in Boston.

 

As distinguished from Whitefield, Edwards was no

orator in the artistic or rhetorical sense. He had a high, weak,

overrefined voice, spoke monotonously with his elbow on the

pulpit and his chin in his hand, and employed neither ges-

tures nor modulation of expression. What he did possess was

the complete consecration of a mystic, one of the great theo-

logical intellects of all time, an absolutely humble and abso-

lutely comprehensive Christian humanity, and along with

these a commanding stature and a handsome face. What he

believed in was "heart religion/* justification and regenera-

tion through a spiritual revelation of God to the individual

mind and emotions, a process involving a long period of

contemplation and prayer. "What he got, all over New Eng-

land, was a sudden crop of hysterical, wholly unintellectual-

ized outbursts from thousands of troubled spirits who had

been groping for light in the increasing worldliness of the

age and at the same time had been resenting the control of

their towns and their churches by the increasingly exclusive

plutocracy.

 

Edwards never doubted the validity of many of the con-

 

 

 

96 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

versions. But when, following the tour of Whitefield in 1740,

he encountered on every side screamings, faintings, convul-

sions, contortions and trances, he desisted from his evangelical

labors and considered more carefully than ever the nature of

true religious experience. While the fire he had helped to

kindle raged around him, he quietly wrote and published

in 1741 The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit

of God) and thus joined with the "Old Lights," or conserva-

tives, in extinguishing the fire.

 

Theologically, Edwards was of the "New Lights/ 5 the

believers in individualistic instead of social and formal re-

ligion. But like all first-rate intellects he saw the virtues and

the evils on both sides of the fence and so, eventually, was

condemned by both schools. Through his doctrine of "heart

religion" and individually achieved grace he restored dignity

to the little man in the pew and elevated him to spiritual

equality with the educated ministry which was socially identi-

fied with the rich. Yet, ten years later, the very common

people he had honored dismissed him from his church, be-

cause of his blood, marital and educational kinship with the

landed, ruling class of western Massachusetts. And at the

same time that ruling class spat him out of its mouth for his

adventures in "enthusiasm/*

 

Religiously, the Great Awakening was a violent death

spasm of true Puritanism whose healthy life had ended eighty

years before, leaving it in a coma. The eventual significance

of the spasm was the harvest of new sects in the beginning

of the nineteenth century. The immediate significance was

the strengthening of the political motivation of life that was

arising to replace the declining religious one. The humble

parishioners whom Edwards had elevated would shortly for-

get their spurious religious excesses, but they would not

forget their elevation. Twenty and thirty and forty years

later, the thousands of quietly fanatical men who would be

willing to die in pursuit of liberty would be repeating the

psychological pattern they learned in the strange, noisily

fanatical days of the Great Awakening.

 

The conflict aroused by the Great Awakening between

 

 

 

THE NEXT SEVEN" TRIBES 97

 

tie Old Lights and the New Lights split New England In

two. By 1742 the controversy was so severe that Jonathan

Law of Milford, then governor of Connecticut^ issued a proc-

lamation calling for a day of fasting and prayer because of

"The Unhappy Divisions and Contentions which still prevail

... in the Doctrines and Practice of Religion." Joseph

Bellamy of Bethlem, now the leading preacher of the valley,

was in favor of Edwards's heart religion and against the

Halfway Covenant, as were also the Reverend Messrs. Stod-

dard of Woodbury, Graham, of Southbury, and Judd of

Judea now "Washington. Bellamy, likewise following Ed-

wards, who had been briefly his tutor at Yale, was opposed

to the excesses of the New Lights. In late 1739 or early 1740

Edwards had invited him up to Northampton to preach. He

was so impressed by the young man's performance that after-

wards they talked together in the center of the church for

a long time, oblivious to the departing congregation, and

later walked out in the snow leaving at least Edward's hat.

Thus began a close friendship between Bellamy and Edwards

which remained affectionate and active while they both lived.

In 1744 Bethlehem finished its meeting house. About the

same time they built near by a parsonage for Mr. Bellamy,

which he later incorporated in the fine mansion that remains

the most prominent feature of the village. The tiny, two-

room building still preserved in the back yard was Bellamy's

study. With this for a classroom and his house for dormitory

he began in the 1740'$ systematically to receive and teach

candidates for the ministry, and thus established the first

divinity school in America. The enrollment averaged about

twenty "sirs," as divinity students were called. To exercise

them in preaching, Dr. Bellamy used to lend them, out to

neighboring parishes as guest preachers, and would take

along the whole school to hear each performance, that they

might all criticize it together afterwards. The cavalcade of

black-coated, black -hatted youths, with Dr. Bellamy and

the preacher of the day at the head, was a common sight in

and around Bethlem till near tie end of the eighteenth

century.

 

 

 

98 THE LAND AND THE LORD

 

Though, the controversies stirred up by the Great Awak-

ening continued in a war of ministerial pamphlets up till

and through the Revolution, the popular interest was oblit-

erated by the new excitement of the War of the Austrian

Succession, in America the Second French and Indian War,

1744-48. It was symbolic of the change that when "William

Pepperell of Kittery, Maine, got a commission as commander

of the expedition against Louisburg, Whitefield the revivalist

happened to be visiting him and supplied the motto for the

expedition's flag "Nil desperandum Christo duce." Once

again Constantine advanced the cross before the legions.

The Light of Religion became the Light of Liberty.