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Early
Haddam, Connecticut


From the out of copyright book Historic Towns of the Connecticut River Valley
by George S. Roberts



   The settlement of Haddam was made in 1662, by twenty-eight young men who settled on the east shore
of the Connecticut River, in the neighborhood of Walkley Hill and Mill Creek.  Others, who came a little later,
settled to the south of Mill Creek, in the vicinity of the present hamlet of Haddam.  The names of the first
settlers, near Walkley Hill, were - Nicholas Ackley, Joseph Arnold, John Bailey, James Bates, Daniel Brainerd,
Thomas Brooks, Samuel Butler, William Clarke, Daniel Cone, William Corbee, Abraham Dibble, Samuel Ganes,
George Gates, John Hannison, Richard Jones, Stephen Luxford, John Parents, Richard Piper, Thomas Shayler,
Simon Smith, Thomas Smith, Gerrard Spencer, Joseph Stannard, William Ventres, James Wells, John Spencer,
John Webb, and John Wiat.  The majority of them were married but a short time.

   In October, 1668, the Town was formed and given the name of Haddam.  In those days township lines
were loosely granted and carelessly laid out.  Disputes were therefore natural and not infrequent.  Such a
dispute arose between the Town of Haddam and the Towns of Saybrook and Lyme.  The north boundary of
Saybrook, on the west side of the Connecticut River, was fixed at eight miles north from the Sound, and the north
boundary of Lyme on the east side of the Connecticut, was six miles from the Sound.  Sometime later, an
additional grant was made to Saybrook and Lyme of four miles further north, and a part of this four miles
encroached upon the land obtained by the people of Haddam from the Indians.  A heated dispute arose, but it
was finally settled by a proposal from Saybrook, that the four-mile grant should be divided into a half and two
quarters; one half going to Haddam and a quarter each to Lyme and Saybrook.  This plan was approved by the
General Court in 1669.  In 1734, Haddam Township was divided into two parts, the dividing lines being the
Connecticut and Salmon Rivers.  The town on the west remained Haddam; that on the east became East
Haddam.

   For the first thirty years the principal settlement in this town was just back from the western bank of the
Connecticut River, at the edge of the long, narrow strip of meadow land.  Then, individual families began to move
back farther from the river, toward the western portion of the town, among them being the Dickinsons, Hubbards,
and the Rays, who settled there in 1700, or soon after that year.  Later, they were joined by the Lewises,
Hazeltons, Tylers, Higginses, Thomases, Knowleses, and Burrs.  In 1712, that portion of Haddam, called
Haddam Neck was settled by Thomas Selden, of Lyme, formerly of Hadley, Massachusetts; and two families of
Brainards.

   When the Indians sold the land comprising Haddam to the English, they reserved Thirty-mile-Island (now
Haddam Island) and forty acres at Pattaquoenk, where they lived for many years, fishing and hunting where they
pleased so long as they did not interfere with the settlers.  A favorite resort of theirs was a deep ravine, or hollow
on Haddam Neck, in the north-east portion, which was for many years known as Indian Hollow, and the small
stream running through it was called Indian Brook.  The Indians had no name for the whole territory comprising
the town of Haddam, but different parts of the town were given different names.  The little settlement in the center
of the town called Ponset, by the settlers, was called Cockaponset by the Indians; Higganum, in the northern part
of the town on the Connecticut, was Higganumpus, the fishing-place.

   As early as 1762, a granite quarry was opened by Deacon Ezra Brainard on Haddam Neck.  This was followed
by other openings in the same neighborhood and in 1794, a quarry was started on the west side of the river.  All
of the quarries did a large business, chiefly in curbing and flagstones.  The principal market was New York, but
Boston, Albany, and Baltimore also bought considerable quantities.  Early in 1800, wood was a profitable article
of commerce in Haddam, three thousand cords being being shipped in 1807, of which 2000 were shipped from
Higganum Landing.  In 1813, Haddam had a "ginnery" in which 250 hogsheads of gin were distilled yearly.

   For the first eleven years the people worshipped in the different homes of the settlement.  In 1673, they built a
little meeting-house, twenty-four by twenty-eight feet on the ground, in which they "feared the Lord" every Sunday
and all day Sunday, till 1721 when a new and larger building was erected.  As there are no church records earlier
than 1756, it is not possible to give the date of the organization of the Church, but it was probably in 1700.  The
first minister mentioned in the old records was the Rev. Jonathon Willaube, who was in charge of the Church but a short time.

   In 1668, Nicholas Noyes, "an improved candidate", preached to the people for thirteen or fourteen years, but
there is reason to believe that he was not ordained.  The Noyes family came to the Colonies from Wiltshire,
England, and was a family of ministers.  An Uncle of Nicholas, the Rev. James Noyes, was the first minister of
Newbury, Massachusetts; and his cousins, the Revs. Moses Noyes and James Noyes were the first ministers of
Lyme and Stonington, Connecticut, repectively...

   ...Sometime between 1682, and 1690, the Rev. John James preached in Haddam, but just when and how long
is not known.  He was a good man and an excellent preacher, but was notable for his eccentricities.

   In August, 1691, the Rev. Jeremiah Hobart became the minister, but he was never regularly installed. Later,
there was a misunderstanding between him and the parish which was settled amicably in June, 1700, when he was
formally installed as the minister, in the seventieth year of his age.  On November 6, 1715, he attended service,
received the sacrament and in the intermission died in his chair.

   The next minister was the Rev. Phineas Fiske, son of Dr. John Fiske, of Milford.  He studied at Yale, under
Rector Pierson, in Killingworth.  The year before Rector Pierson's death, Mr. Fiske became a tutor in the College.
After his death, the senior class was removed to Milford, in 1707, and Mr. Fiske took charge of the other classes
in Saybrook, till Commencement.  For several years thereafter, Mr. Fiske and another tutor instructed all the
classes in Saybrook. Mr. Fiske was thoughtful and scholarly and was regarded as a great success as an instructor.
At that time Conncecticut was looking to Yale, or the Collegiate School, as it was then called, for its ministers
and many of the most notable were instructed there under the direction and personal attention of Mr. Fiske.  As a
preacher, Mr. Fiske was a man who appealed to the minds of his auditors rather than to their emotions.

   Then followed in the pulpit of the Haddam Church, the Rev. Aaron Cleveland, from 1739 to 1746.  Mr.
Cleveland died in the home of his friend Benjamin Franklin, in Philadelphia; the Rev. Joshua Elderkin, from 1749,
to 1753; the Rev. Eleazer May was minister for forty-seven years, from 1756, to 1803; the Rev. David Dudley
Field, from 1804, to 1818.

   The first record of a school in Haddam was in 1705, and for seventy years it was the only school in the town.

   The Rev. David Brainard, a descendant of the early settler, was one of Haddam's notable sons.  He was famous
and greatly beloved in all of the British Colonies for his grand work as a missionary among the Indians.  He began
his work among them in 1743, at a place known as Kaunaumeek, near Kinderhook, New York, and from there
he went to the Forks of Delaware, not far from the line dividing New York and Pennsylvania.  It was among the
Crosweeksung Indians, near the Freehold, New Jersey, that he experienced his greatest success.  The hardness of
his life and his devotion to his work so far broke his health that he returned to New England in the hope of
recovering it.  His health was too far gone, however, and he died in the home ofthe Rev. Jonathon Edwards, in
Northampton, Massachusetts, in October 1747, at the age of thirty.  An early writer described Mr. Brainard and
his work as follows:

If the greatness of character is to be estimated by the object it persues, in danger it braves, the
difficulties it encounters, and the purity and energy of its motives, David Brainard is one of the
greatest characters that ever appeared in the world.  Compared with this standard of greatness,
what little things are the Alexanders and the Caesars, the conquerors of the whole earth?  A nobler object no human * * * mind could ever propose to itself, than to promote the glory of the great Governor of the Universe, in studying and laboring to diffuse purity and happiness among His unholy and miserable creatures.  His life among the Indians exhibits a perfect pattern of the qualities which should distinguish the instruction of the rude and barbarous tribes; the most invincible patience and self denial, the profoundest humility, exquisite prudence, indefatigable industry, and such a devotedness to God, or rather, such an absorption of the whole zeal for the Divine glory and the salvation of men, as is scarce paralled since the age of the Apostiles.





Plaque Honoring the Original Proprietors of Haddam


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