"A Journal for the Town of Fairfield, or An exact & impartial Account of the most Material Transactions from the first Settelment thereof till the Present Time"

Preface

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Old Black Rock

BLACK ROCK

Seaport of Old Fairfield

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Fairfield owed much of its financial and political prestige to an excellent seaport. The seaport of Fairfield was old Black Rock.

To-day Black Rock is merely a section of Bridgeport. Airplanes zoom overhead; real estate booms underfoot; and we must sketch our historical picture against a background of modern monuments.

Between the Orphan Asylum and the Socony filling station is the site of the Indian fort. Near the automobile graveyard and the city dump stood the mills that anciently ground out flour for the colonial countryside. Fire, careless remodeling, or neglect have ruined many of the old houses. The one survival of sea- trade is a rough sign: "Live lobsters for sale" — nailed, ironically enough, where the forgotten shipyard once launched a hundred ships, and where on the nearby wharves the rich cargoes of those same ships, returning, were welcomed by the busy pulleys and creaking windlasses of a dozen stores and warehouses.

The flotsam and jetsam of historical incident have been scattered across three centuries, yet we may still salvage stray anecdotes concerning the salty days when every house in the village was the home of a sea-captain.

Fortunately there lived in Black Rock for eighty-two years — from 1762 to 1845 — a sympathetic historian. The record of harbor happenings during those bustling days was jotted down by William Wheeler briefly but delightfully, together with the pioneer legends of his family, and sage comment upon political, social, and personal matters.

The Wheeler Journal, like history, is made up of the ridiculous as well as of the sublime. However we may revere our ancestors, it is always reassuring to those who in our turn may become ancestors, to learn that these forbears of ours were human and occasionally fallible — even as you and I. We should be grateful to William Wheeler, therefore, not only for his vivid account of the capture of General Silliman and of the defense of Black Rock Fort in 1779, but for not slighting the record that on the 15th of November, 1787, "Capt. Brewster's wife & child fell in the creek," that in 1807 three members of one family were "sick with bilious colic—rose from drinking cider that ran through a lead cock," as well as the sad tale of the young man who "after dancing, waiting on a Female home, wet his foot & not drying it before he left her, he was taken ill and lived only 7 days."

The history of Black Rock is thus made up of the heroic, the commonplace and the humorous, — a history written between the lines of church and probate records, in old deeds, in long-lost logs of the merchant ships, and supplemented at moments by the Wheeler Journal.

The pioneer story is a thrice-told tale, but we may give the incident new interest by recalling the geographical as well as the chronological positions of the original settlements in the vicinity of Fairfield.

Fairfield, established by Roger Ludlowe in 1639, is most import- ant. Northeast lies Stratfield (known in earliest days as Fayre- field Village and Fayreford). Fairfield and Stratfield were connected then as now, by a road long in use before being formally laid out in 1687 as King's Highway.

East of Fairfield and south of Stratfield another settlement was made at the tip of the peninsula formed by two creeks and the Sound. This settlement became known as Black Rock village, — named from the black rocks along the shore, — and was for three generations a family holding.

Thomas Wheeler, the elder, came from Concord with a company of other pioneers in 1644. His companions settled in Stratfield and in Greenlea, — as the section near Seaside Park in Bridgeport was then known. Thomas Wheeler separated from them and established his home at the head of Black Rock harbor. Here he was a short distance across the waters of "shipharbour creeke" from his relatives and friends* at Greenlea, and not too far from Fairfield.

The first Wheeler homestead was surrounded on three sides water and stood on a rise of ground overlooking the level plain to the west. Thomas built his house of stone with a strong plank roof and upon this roof, to supplement the natural advantages of his location, he placed two small cannon. One pointed out down the harbor against possible Dutch invasion by sea: the other was directed toward the Indian fort that stood north of the little hill. The Indians were friendly and the Dutch were invisible, but Thomas Wheeler was a cautious man.

This Wheeler "homelot" at the "head of shipharbour" was the nucleus of Black Rock village. The village was for many years inhabited by Thomas Wheeler's grandchildren and their children almost exclusively. There were enough of them, however, to occupy the acres between the old homelot and Grover's Hill with their houses and pasturage, and to divide other lands with nonresident proprietors whose homesteads stood in Fairfield or Stratfield.

From the Thomas Wheeler homestead a road led northwest, meeting the Fairfield road at the present intersection of Brewster Street and Fairfield Avenue. The old Fairfield road, however, coincided with the modern Post Road only between Ash Creek and Ellsworth Street. At the latter point (near the Indian fort) the old road turned northeast (along the present line of North Ellsworth Street) to the upper creek. Here were two forks. One road led northwest across the upper creek to King's Highway and the Holland Heights Road. The other fork led to the Indian Field and thence to Stratfield.

*The earliest recorded settlers at Greenlea and Black Rock are: Ephraim Wheeler; Thomas Wheeler; Thomas Wheeler, Jr.; William Odell; John

Evarts; Joseph Middlebrook; James Bennet; Peter Johnson; and Benjamin Turney.

For many years there was no direct route due east, and we moderns who are accustomed to speed along the Post Road must recall that there were only a few scattered farms between Stratfield and Greenlea where Bridgeport now extends. Moreover, when roads were in the making, early surveyors followed a trail that avoided the old Indian fort. The cautious pioneer always gave his Indian neighbors as much room as possible.

This fort, garrisoned by two hundred Indians, had been palisaded against the tribes of the interior. North and east extended the Old Indian Field as it became known in early deeds. All of this land was sold by the Indians to the town of Fairfield in 1681, but during the preceding thirty years there were probably many dramatic incidents in the lives of the members of the Wheeler family.*

The purchase of the Indian Field ended Indian occupation in Black Rock. The Indians moved north and the new owners divided the field, as was customary, by a lottery. This method of apportionment satisfied contemporary landholders, but created many difficulties for latterday historians and genealogists. A pioneer whose landholdings were scattered from the Dan of SasquaNeck (Southport) to the Beersheba of Stratfield and who casually described his boundaries only by naming his neighbors provided many complications. When a boundary "east on John Wheeler" may mean east on John's homelot, on his Compo dividend, on his Long Lot, or on his share in the Indian Field, and when the north, south and west boundaries are defined only by the names of others who, like John Wheeler, held widely distributed lands, it is difficult to reconstruct from the land records an accurate picture of the holdings.

Another baffling custom was the designation of a lot by the name of the original owner, even after several transfers, or the definition of a boundary by a landmark long since forgotten. †

*In addition to uncertainties of Indian temperament, colonial peace of mind had other menaces. During the witchcraft delusion, Goody Knap was hanged in 1651 at Try's Field (northwest of the Indian Field in Black Rock — near the present site of the Burroughs Home). † "Briant's Field" in Black Rock is mentioned a century after Alexander Bryant terminated his few years of residence in Fairfield and moved to Milford. "Near old Hoit's land," and "land over the creeke" (which might mean any one of the three creeks on the Black Rock boundary) are exasperating examples.

Fortunately for the amateur topographer, there were few householders in Black Rock until after 1750. John Wheeler, son of Thomas the pioneer, married first Judith Turney, and second Elizabeth Rowland, succeeding to the Wheeler property in Black Rock and adding more lands by purchase from non-resident dividend holders.

John Wheeler had twelve children. Five of his sons settled in Black Rock. Another, Thomas, sailed from the harbor one day early in 1696. Weeks later his elder brother, John, received the following letter:

Barbadoes, July 19, 1696 . . . . . . Loving brother John,

these lines may inform you that I am aboard of a man of war called Play now bound for London and I think that she will saile very speedily. I am in no hopes of being cleared.

I desire you to take care of three barrels of Rum which I have aboard of Nicklas Inglesbee and I have three months wages down which is ten pounds ten shillings. The sloop is called the Dimon. She belongs to Rhode Island, but bound to New London. I have no loading for it.

I hope you will take care of it and let my honored mother have what she has occasion for and let my honored mother have half the crop of wheat which I have.

As for my lands I desire that my five brothers may divide them if I do not return again. I know not whether I shall be so happy as to see any of you again but I trust in God who is our presence.

Let us watch and pray one for another. No more at present but your loving brother,

Thomas Wheeler.

After eight years this pathetic message was admitted to probate in Fairfield as the last will and testament of the writer. The methods by which the English navy recruited men in early colonial days were already menacing homelife in the villages by the Connecticut sea.

For another glimpse of the early Wheeler families, we have the romantic story told by William Wheeler of the wedding of Hannah, younger sister of the unfortunate Thomas. The stem brother ("my grandfather") who flourished the horsewhip on this occasion was the same "loving brother John" to whom the Barbadoes letter was addressed. His responsibilities were many. His father, Sergeant John, after serving the town as representative for four terms, died in 1681, leaving twelve children, eight of them under age. John, the oldest son, assumed the family cares, and undeterred, — or perhaps fortified — by experience, married Abigail Burr, and reared thirteen children of his own. Of these, only three sons, Obediah, Jabez, and Ichabod,* continued the saga of the Wheeler family of Black Rock.

Other families came to share with the Wheelers the homesites by the harbor. The colonial names of Squire, Burr, Penfield, Bartram, Wilson, Chauncy, Osborn, Jennings, Silliman, Sherwood, and Sturges became prosperously identified with the port.

The sea which played so dramatic a role in the story of the earliest settlers in Black Rock continued to influence the development of the village. The number of ships that plied in and out of the harbor increased yearly.

After 1730 trade impetus along Ash Creek brought results remarkable in those leisurely days. In 1733 Peter Thorp and Ebenezer Dimon were given liberty to set a warehouse at the lower end of the creek. In 1750 Peter Penfield was authorized to establish his mill there, mills which were to continue for a century. In 1753 a new bridge was proposed and new roads planned to shorten the distance between Fairfield center and the ship harbor.

As the map shows, the early roads were almost as circuitous as their descriptions in the records. † The new thoroughfare was surveyed more directly, — almost due east from lower Benson Road, across an inlet by the Penfield mills, and along the shore of the creek to the new bridge. The stone foundations of this road are still plainly visible, as are the foundation piers of the bridge over which the road led to what is now Balmforth Street in Black Rock, — the short road that curves over the shoulder of Grovers Hill and joins Grovers Avenue now just as it did two hundred and seventy-five years ago. Grovers Avenue had existed long before the building of the new road, but merely as a farm road from the harbor to the hill pastures. There had originally been a field gate across it halfway between the turnpike and the Hill.

There had been an elder, John, his father's favorite, who died in 1725. Shortly after his death was born a step-brother, mournfully christened Ichabod ("Thy glory is departed"). The most definite reads: "The highway on the east side of Uncaway Creek which lyeth on the northwest side of the swamps that lie on the northward side of the main highway or common road going out of said road from the south and runneth by and between the land of the said Nathan Gold and said John Wheeler until on the northeast or east it falleth into the highway or road in front of the land called Cable's Field."

The opening of the shorter route immediately affected the pasture lands along Grovers Avenue. David Wheeler, 3rd, was first to profit thereby — and in a manner to interest our modern realtors. Taking over from his father ten acres of meadow, the progressive David deeded to the town two streets to lead from Grovers Avenue to the harbor, and dividing the land into lots, he pointed their advantages to seafarers whose homes lay inconveniently far from shore. The first purchasers were Captain Joseph Silliman and Captain Thomas Holburton, and both immediately built where their families might overlook the Sound and sight their homing ships.

Next to buy was a company of thirteen prominent citizens of Fairfield who acquired land for a wharf at the end of one of David Wheeler's new roads. Adjacent lots were soon sold for homebuilding or investment and the first real estate development in Black Rock proved successful.

Meanwhile David's cousin. Captain Ichabod Wheeler, had busied himself near the old family homelot at the head of the harbor. He had been given liberty by the town in 1761 to build a new wharf there, but after embarking on the venture, decided that it might be more profitable to sell shares. He therefore reserved a one-sixth interest in the wharf, the timber, and the "well already Dugg"; and sold the other five-sixths to James Smedley, Samuel Bradley, Jr., Ebenezer Bartram, Jr., Robert Wilson, and Nathaniel Wilson. Captain Ichabod Wheeler was a shipbuilder and his son, the observant and note-taking William, ^Is us that he built at the Upper Wharf six vessels, all above ninety tons; one, sold to Thomas Alien of New London, who went bankrupt, occasioned a loss of two hundred and sixty-five pounds ¬ — to the builder. With the others he was more fortunate.

The list of investors in the wharves and warehouses of Black Rock about this time includes all of the merchant-residents of Fairfield. Three wharves were built, including the upper wharf, near the old shipyard. The Middle Wharf, already mentioned, lay midway between these and the wharf projected by Captain Samuel Squire at “Money Beach”. Each of these wharves had its store or warehouse, with sheds, chandlery, and tackle for unloading and loading. If we scan probate inventories for the pre-Revolutionary years, we shall find many entries indicating invested wealth on the high seas and alongshore — shares in sailing ships, and in cargoes held by merchants and sailors whose names are a roster of the contemporary Chamber of Commerce in Fairfield. *

Transfers of proprietorship are recorded so often that any list is incomplete. We note, however, in addition to those mentioned as proprietors of the Upper Wharf, these others who kept in close touch with the seatrade: Col. Abraham Gold and his brother Captain Abel, Moses Jennings, Jonathan Lewis, Captain Job Bartram and his brother Barnabas, Hezekiah Sturges, Gershom Burr, Thaddeus Burr, Hezekiah Fitch, Dr. Francis Forgue, Samuel Sturges, Abel Wheeler, Samuel Squire, Jr., Samuel Penfield, the three Sturges brothers, Captain Barlow, Captain Benjamin, and Captain Gershom, — and later Peter Perry of Mill Plain, John S. Wilson, Amos Wilson, Isaac Marquand, and William and Rufus Hoyt. There were many others — cf. indices.

Therefore these wharves became stormcenters with the oncoming of the Revolution. Angry groups gathered as each ship arrived with fresh and newly disquieting reports, supplemented by news brought by post riders galloping down from King’s Highway.

The closing of Boston harbor directly affected the livelihood of every seaman. Stagnation at Boston Wharves threatened starvation at the wharves of Black Rock. The old taverns rang with violent discussion. Men high in the colony councils, — Thaddeus Burr, Captain Samuel Squire, Gold Selleck Silliman, — were eagerly besought for authoritative information. Their personal interests hung largely in the balance, as landholders and wharfowners; but their patriotism turned from King to Colony, and the town records indicate the result of their influence in Fairfield.

The year after Isaac Jarvis and young Joseph Squire marched from Black Rock to Lexington, the Connecticut coast was fortified and the commissioning of privateersmen in effect.

Fairfield maintained a nightly coast-patrol. In addition, a fort was erected on Grovers Hill to command the mouth of the harbor and protect the shipping as well as to guard the Penfield mills and bakehouse on Ash Creek, which were supplying bread to the new army.

In February, 1776, the garrison for the *Black Rock fort was authorized by vote of the Assembly that:

“twenty-five able-bodied men be raised by volunteer enlistment . . . . under the command of a lieutenant and two sergeants, be employed in erecting works of defense . . . . to have the same pay for their provision and support during said term.”

In July, Lieut. John Mills, commander at the fort was

“to receive two hundred pounds of account of billeting, premium for guns and blankets, and first month’s pay and wages for his men.”

On the ninth of August, it was voted that:

“The selectmen of the town of Fairfield take two of the colony’s cannon now at the furnace of Salisbury for use of the fort at Fairfield — one twelve-pounder and one eighteen-pounder, if such may be had, if not, then two twelve-pounders, and also one ton of shot suitable for the cannon in said fort.”

Apparently the eighteen pounder was not to be had, for we find no further mention of it.

The next appearance of the fort in the assembly records is dated two years later when an order on the colony treasurer was granted to David Squire in response to his memorial that:

“On or about 21 March 1778, he being sergeant of the company stationed at Battery Point, and in actual discharge of his duty in ramming a shot into one of the guns by the battery, the cartridge took fire, by means whereof he lost both his hands and was otherwise so greatly wounded and hurt as to lose one of his eyes.”

This fort should not be confused with Black Rock fort near New Haven, nor with the fortification erected on Grovers Hill in 1812.

When again we hear of the firing of the battery guns it is on the historic spring night in 1779 when the twelve-pounders shattered the stillness, rattled the village windows, and awoke the sleeping townsfolk who rushed out to learn that General Silliman had been captured at his house on Holland Heights. His captors, landing stealthily at the head of the harbor, had been guided up the turnpike, and had successfully made their way back with the captive general and his son. The party was safely across the break in the beach east of Fayerweather Island before the alarm could be sounded from the battery.

William Wheeler implies that his cousin and neighbor, Ezra Wheeler, could have told who guided the British: but since Ezra's name later appears as a member of the battery guard it is probable that if the rumor had any foundation, it is in the fact that Ezra's brothers, Josiah and Abraham Wheeler, were recognized Tories and later had their property confiscated on that account. We do not always love our neighbors, especially in war-time. Moreover entries in the Wheeler Journal are influenced by the age and the emotions of the journalist at the time of writing. The testimony of a seventeen-year-old must be read as such, and not as the judicial report of an unprejudiced adult.

However we may discount young William Wheeler's casual observations, we must credit him fully with his colorful description of the events of that foggy July morning when the British anchored off the fort. Young William had gone with his father to drive cattle up to safer Toilsome Hill pasturage. He hurried back to find everyone watching from the summit of Grovers Hill above the fort the manoeuvres of the invading parties. The boat- loads at Kenzie's Point were well out of range, but the British soldiers rowing in to the mill-wharves at the mouth of the creek were raked by shot from the fort as the fog lifted. So hotly was the harbor defended that after burning the mills and bakehouse, as well as the Penfield homestead that stood back of them on Paul's Neck, the British came no nearer to Black Rock that day, but continued their destructive march north.

The next morning while Fairfield town was in flames, an attack was launched against the fort. Failing, the invaders sailed away, leaving the houses and shipping at the harbor secure.

The historian will note that the Wheeler Journal fails to mention the greater battles and manoeuvres of the Revolution. Only local skirmishes are chronicled. This makes the Journal intensely human. We see the Revolution entirely through the eyes of a boy in a Connecticut village by the Sound. Military matters (except for the fort and the two British invasions) are subordinated wholly to obscure naval encounters. William Wheeler’s perspective is limited to events within his own hearing or vision.

George Washington’s Revolution was very different from William Wheeler’s Revolution, —and perhaps not much more important; for the struggle was not only between the armies in the text-books. The result was determined on a dozen frontiers by land and sea. The whaleboats of Caleb Brewster, the forays to Long Island, the Tory guerilla warfare, described in the Journal, —all weighed heavily in the final balance. The history of Black Rock epitomizes the tale told by a hundred other seaports, — of a rebellion successful because it was whole-souled. George Washington’s army was fed on bread from Fairfield mills and those of a dozen other patriotic towns, while British supplies were intercepted by a hundred impudent little privateers. Black Rock harbor was a detail of the heroic background of Yorktown.

After the Revolution, changes came to Black Rock, as prosperity increased. Several families, burned out by the British invasion of Fairfield, rebuilt near the shore, and young men like Caleb Brewster, whose domestic plans had been postponed during their patriotic activities, married and settled down by the wharves.

The bustle along the harbor continued as ship after ship came into port, bringing molasses and rum from the West Indies, tea from China, and news from everywhere. Other smaller craft voyaged along the coast, putting in occasionally for supplies and trading. Boys of Black Rock, with or without family sanction, slipped frequently aboard and served a hard but joyful apprenticeship at sea. In 1819, of less than one hundred inhabitants of the village, men, women, and children, it is recorded that twenty-eight men were gone as sailors, one-half of them captains.

Down by the shore, next to the old Middle Wharf, stood a tiny house, occupied by Wolcott Chauncey, his wife, and their nine children. Three of the boys who splashed about the piers of the old wharf were to account heroically for themselves in history.

Isaac Chauncey, born in Black Rock in 1772, went to sea at thirteen, and when nineteen was given command of his first ship. He rose in rank rapidly, served in the navy as Captain during the war with Tripoli, afterward commanding the Brooklyn Navy Yard in peace time and the Great Lakes from 1812 to 1816. He was awarded a sword for gallantry in action and is one of the heroes buried in the National Cemetery at Arlington. His brothers, Captain Ichabod Wolcot Chauncey and Robert Chauncey, also served loyally in the Navy during the early years of the republic.

As it was during the Revolution our national history thereafter is curiously epitomized in the life of this little village by the sea.

Our first three wars were all directly caused by events which affected seafaring Americans and shipping interests on the Atlantic coast.

The Port Bill and the closing of Boston Harbor forced the issue in 1774.

Our second war — with Tripoli — was the outcome of such tales as that told by the six prisoners in 1795 in the Wheeler Journal.

Our third war — in 1812 — resulted from British impressment of able-bodied seamen, continuous since the days of young Thomas Wheeler, and confirmed by anecdotes such as the Journal entry in 1806 that:

"At this time came 2 letters from Mr. Francis Forgue, now on board of a man-of-war in the English Channel — he had not been heard of in 15 years."

The war of 1812, however, began with no such popular heroics as those of 1774-5. Ship-owners and merchants who had endured loss until the fighting word was given at Lexington, murmured over war conditions in 1812. The intervening years of prosperity had softened their lives, while party dissension had affected their economic views. Was the new war with England patriotic or political?

All this is reflected in the Journal of the boy, grown forty years older and wiser. There is no enthusiasm in William Wheeler's d gf 1812-14, — only such sober items as:

"Four vessels, nearly 100 tons each, lie nose by nose in Brewster's Cove & four more at the wharves, useless by reason of the war . . . . This foolish & unnecessary War goes much against us — Gen. William Hull taken & this week news of 400 killed & 800 wounded on Lake Erie by the British & Indians" . . . .

Even the glorious exploits of his erstwhile neighbor, Isaac Chauncy. Commander of the Great Lakes, escape mention: and it is about this time that the manuscript essays begin to show the pacifistic trends of thought which continued throughout the rest of William Wheeler's life.

One threatened invasion by two British frigates alarmed Black Rock, and on the 29th of August, 1814, Thomas Bartram deeded to Walter Thorp, Sullivan Moulton, Gershom Sturges, Abraham Benson, James Knap, Abraham G. Jennings and Nathaniel L. Green, one acre of land on Grovers Hill

"with liberty to pass & repass . . . . and said land is expressly sold for the purpose of defense against an enemy, either in fortification or otherwise & the land is ever to be held for that use in time of war."

The silver cloud of peace was darkly lined, however. West India produce dropped to half-price. There was a trade reaction after the war from which small shipping never entirely recovered.

Moreover, as Newfield (now Bridgeport) harbor on the east developed in rivalry with the old port of Fairfield, there was justice in Timothy Dwight's observation in 1822 that:

“Notwithstanding the excellence of the harbor and the convenience which it furnishes for commerce. Black Rock has long been neglected."

He adds:

“Business is now commencing . . with a fair promise of success."

The promise was never fulfilled. Presently ships that always had sailed from Black Rock wharves, cleared from Bridgeport. Black Rock sea-captains were promoted to larger vessels that docked at New York, Boston, Providence, and Baltimore.

Sporadic industrial and business ventures mark the history of Black Rock during the rest of the century, — the old shipyard continued to serve sloops and schooners: a wagon shop and a cooperage were maintained for several years. The wharves still were used.

Manufacturing developments swung Bridgeport into ever- increasing prosperity, however, and swept prosperity from Fairfield harbor. When in 1870 an act of legislature extended the Bridgeport boundary to Ash Creek, only a few protesting voices were raised in Fairfield town meeting.

Upon the old lot where once Thomas Wheeler settled, a turpentine factory reared its tall chimney. Near the site of the old fort on Grovers Hill, a summer hotel was built. These in their turn have passed. Grovers Hill is a "residential development," and the upper wharves are soon to be included in the plans for a new boulevard that will connect Bridgeport with Black Rock across Fayerweather Island.

Black Rock is no longer a quiet village, no longer a seaport, — it is merely a "district," — and with the coming of the boulevard, the sentimental historian will be honked at sharply or advised to park elsewhere. Meanwhile we have a few leisurely moments to share the historic past with William Wheeler.

WILLIAM WHEELER

Schoolteacher, Philosopher, Diarist

Had William Wheeler been born in eighteenth-century London and exposed to the literary vicissitudes and stimuli of the period, he might have become another Goldsmith. His career, postponed a century and a half, might have been that of a Walter Winchell or a Franklin P. Adams.

Accepting him as he actually found himself, among the surroundings which he was to chronicle, we discover him as a delightful diarist, noting from his boyhood the events of village life, and later summing up his meditations in a series of amusing essays, and leaving a journal historically and humanistically invaluable.

He was born July 12th, 1762, the second child and elder son of Ichabod and Deborah (Burr) Wheeler. Captain Ichabod Wheeler was a builder of ships at the old Upper Wharf in Black Rock: But like most of his neighbors, experienced in the vagaries of an income wrested from the sea, he depended for the support of his family upon the farming of his inherited acres. Upon his farmlands young William toiled, early and late, and the essay upon Agriculture which he wrote in after years is no amateurish dissertation, but a practical treatise.

IN 1780, William began to tutor for entrance to college, and from 1781 to 1785 he attended Yale, observant and critical. His comment upon the ultimate value of his college training is terse and strangely prophetic of modem educational heresies.

His school-teaching venture in Norfield (now Weston) was punctuated by a poignant love affair with an unknown damsel (the asterisks are his own). Thereafter he returned to Black Rock and in 1800 married Rhoda Parrit (or Parrott). The rest of his days were spent in his simple "saltbox" next his father's old house.

The death of his wife in 1808 left him with two small children, William, who was to survive him, and a daughter, Eliza, whose death was to leave her father heartbroken. His frequent references to "E." as his companion on countryside rambles, and entries made in her handwriting in his journals, show the close companionship between father and daughter and his appreciation of her literary ability. His tribute to her (June 15,1839) is masterly in its terse sincerity. He lived until the 28th of January, 1845, continuing to enter notes in the Journal within two months of his death, although the last entry in his handwriting (October 4th) shows that his mind was weakened by age and illness. The preceding year — 1843— when he was eighty-one years old he records that he "filled my barn with hay both sides . . . . labour'd every day myself (per favour) . ." Until the last he continued to interest himself in local and national events.

William Wheeler left as memorials eleven volumes in manuscript which narrowly escaped destruction during a ruthless New England housecleaning, but were rescued by Elizabeth H. Schenck. She quoted liberally from his writings in her "History of Fairfield," and gave the books to the Connecticut State Library at Hartford, where they are available to the persistent antiquarian who seeks original sources.

It is from these half-forgotten manuscripts that the following pages have been arranged.

The original books are catalogued inconsecutively in two series. The first series — of five folio volumes — include:

Vol. 1. Conclusion of Journal, 1839-1845, with an insert of miscellaneous notes.

Vol. 2. Notes on Biblical texts and sermon-essays.

Vol. 3. A Journal / for / The town of Fair-field / or An Exact & impartial Account/ of the most/ Material Transactions / from the first Settlement thereof / till/ the/ Present Time.

(This has been quoted, almost in entirety. The date of the last entry is 1814.)

Vol. 4. Miscellaneous Notes, including a dissertation on Old Age and Youth, surprisingly modern in style and content.

Vol. 5. Miscellaneous Information, jotted down at different times and ranging from diseases and their treatment to the repairing of ships.

The six smaller volumes of Series 2 include:

Vol 1.- Diary and Journal 1740-1835, repeating much of the detail of the larger and earlier volume and carrying the record forward.

Vol. 2. Wm. Wheeler/ 1825 / Nov. 20/ Text Book/ Close Thinking is the foundation/ of every good Action/ . . Read and Understand. “With all thy gettings ¬ — Get Wisdom"¬ — Solomon.

This volume, planned as an autobiography, includes an amusing preface and ten chapters: Agriculture, Collegian, Schoolmaster, Revolutionary War, Friendship, Longevity, Religious Friends, Enemies, Religion, Reading Books. From the first four chapters and the sketches "In Fairfield Burial Ground" is drawn much of the material used to supplement Journal entries in the succeeding pages of this book.

Vol. 3. A continuation of similar notes on various subjects especially the horrors of war and the benefits of peace.

Vol. 4. An alphabetical, biographical notebook which soberly includes within one page entries concerning St. Simon Stylites, Sir Philip Sidney, and "Wm. Smith (New York) ¬ — he introduced the curiosities of the City to the daughter, E. We should remember the favours shewn to our children."

Vol. 5. Wm. Wheeler Sen. / March / 1831. Miscellaneous Notes.

Vol. 6. Hints¬ — By Wm. Wheeler¬ — 1833. Notebook. "Few can read much¬ — None can read every author¬ — Hence the necessity of this essence of Writing all that is written in this Book has been written before¬ — it is somewhere¬ — Why then look till you find it¬ — But, good Reader, it is like a needle in a haystack, the profit will not compensate for the Search¬ —

"But Man & Woman must act young, consequently must act ignorantly¬ — A few wish to know the right way¬ — for these I write¬ — whether well¬ — Judge ye." Quotations and notes from a wide scope of reading.

There is something of Thoreau in William Wheeler's intense concentration upon everyday happenings, and his application of small philosophies to a large plan of existence. His sense of proportion is, however, more rational than that of the sage of Walden.

1630-1772

1630-1772 [The first page includes genealogical notes on the Wheeler family, which have been arranged in the "Family Index."] Text in italics is from the D.A.R. and not part of the original historic diary text.

The first Wheeler that came into America settled in Concord (Massachusetts) about the year 1630. He had several sons & one of them came to Black Rock and at the old Lot built a stone house with a flat roof of Plank on which he mounted two four-pounders,—one pointed towards the Mouth of the Harbor & the other at an Indian fort situated at the head of the harbor, now known by the name of Old Fort.

This place the Fairfield Indians had built for their defence against some of the interior tribes with whom they were perpetually at War. It was composed of Palisades joined together & at each corner a room was built out with portholes like the following figure:

It contained about an acre of land & was garrisoned by about 200 Indians fond of War & often solliciting the Old Indian for leave to destroy the English. Once they obtained it on condition of pulling up a large neighboring White Oak Tree-

Well, to work they went & stript off its branches, but still the trunk baffled their utmost endeavours.

"Thus" says the Old Sachem , "will be the end of your War—you may kill some of their papooses, but the old plaguey Stump t'other side of the great Waters will remain & send out more branches—"

It happened one time that 6 of the Mohawk tribe, being closely pursued by the Fairfield Indians were secreted by one of the Waklins of Stratfield under some sheaves of Flax, & being directed homewards, were the occasion of the long Amity that subsisted between that tribe and the English.—

Many remains of the Indians are daily discovered, as Stone arrows, hatchets, etc. In Greenfield is a Samp Mortar made in the solid rock, containing nearly half a Bushel.

A pot has been seen in Weston of Stone & a stone bottle was found very curiously made, holding about half a pint, at Black Rock some years since. A great part of their food seems to have been Oysters, Clams &c. by the vast beds of Shells that are frequently dug out of the Earth.

My Grandfather had (I learn from tradition, there being no journals left of those times) many brothers & sisters, 14 in all.

Hannah, the youngest, was a very intelligent person— about 18 years of age. She was courted & expected to be married to Ringfield a Captain of a ship who gave her a gold ring, 3 pair of green silk stockings &c, but he being gone for so long, she was courted & married by Sam Wheeler.

On the day of their marriage, a Ship appearing taken for Ringfield by the Bride, she burst into tears & declared she would not be married, & half dressed hid in a hole in the back kitchen of my grandfather who, with horsewhip in hand, dragged her out, but she ran around him as he attempted to strike.—

They finally concluded to dispatch a boat to see who commanded said ship. Finding it was not Ringfield (who was lost) she was married, but never could the Capt. be erased from her mind, as (I am told by a person who was eye wit- ness) she used frequently at 75 years of age to weep over his presents.

1740 & 1741

was the Hard Winter. The Ground, covered with Snow to the tops of the fences for 40 days. It did not thaw the least on the sunny side of the House.

(footnote: Waklin, original form of present Wakelee and Wakeley name. Sergeant Samuel Wheeler was son of Deacon Isaac Wheeler.)

A snow fell about the middle of December which filled the roads & buried a pair of Oxen at the old fort, owned by Sam Gold. They were found by their breathing holes. The harbour continued frozen from that time till the middle of May— Capt. Bostwick & Capt. Dimon were loading for the West Indies. Dimon said as winter set in. Bostwick was ready, but delaying one night, was froze in & had to cart hay to his stock for 3 months. When going out of the Sound, he found Dimon returning.

(From sketch of Mrs. Jonathan Wheeler.) She was remarkable for storytelling. In her father's days she said the Sound was froze over and her father went half way to Long Island when it began to break up. He being an active man, sprang from one cake to another till he got ashore. It used to be so cold as to freeze cattle's mouths up & they would have to get a teakettle of hot water to thaw them out. It used in winter time to freeze people's voices, and in the Spring when a thaw came there would be all kinds of noises heard in the air.

1753

In June & July the bloody Flux raged to such a degree that 2 or 3 were buried in Fairfield daily (of the dysentry)

1758 March 22—Earthquake in New England.

1763

The dry summer—begun very early—everything parched up— Old pasture spring dug.

1767

August—Two Indians were whipt & stood in the Pillory for stealing a child & leaving it in the fields.

1768

Isaac Frazier, a noted thief, was hung at Fairfield.

1771

July—The Lightning struck Stratfield meetinghouse & killed uncle John Burr & ripped open the Shoes of his brother Ozias that stood near him & killed likewise David Sherman.

1772

March 7—Snow storm, (this month seven large snow storms—the 2nd day of April snow higher than the fences.

Sept. 2—In the evening 2 black clouds appeared in the South- West & North-West, & one seemed to come & meet them directly over Fairfield from the North East—at half past Eight it began to thunder incessantly. The flashes of Lightning, which seemed to set the room in a blaze, were about a minute's distance from each other, accompanied with bursts of Thunder like the whole broadside of a Ship, making the Earth to tremble and at the same time lifting one of our family from the seat at the side of the house onto her feet. At the same time the room was filled with a sulphurous smell.

(Struck Abel Wheeler's house twice and his signpost once— It was a tavern where much vice was seen) Abel Wheeler got up, it struck him down; then they all stood up & were struck down—The Lightning ran in streams all through the Rooms, broke all the lower windows, but hurt none of the people.

Down rushed the Rain, impetuous as if the floodgates of heaven had been opened.

Many thought it was the World's last Session & trembling sat, expecting every Breath to be the last for 3 long hours; but at 1/2 past 11 it ceased.

They all agree that the Storm tonight has been the hardest one that e'er this Land has seen. It must as nigh as we could guess Strike 90 times about this Place. A Barn was struck & burnt in Town.

Revolutionary War

"And seald is now each life that could have told" Byron—Lara.

I have always regretted that I did not keep a journal of the War which beeon in 1775, being then 13 years of age, whereas I began to write 1780. (Autobiographical sketchbook, from which indented entries are quoted.)

1774

June—Boston Port shut up—Connecticut people contributed for their relief.

1775

April 19—War between Britain & America began.

1776

Independency declared. 1777

April 24—Eighteen Sail landed at Compo 2,500 Men who marched up thro Greenfield & North Fairfield to Danbury, stayd there one night, destroyed the Stores of Provision. Our people collected & Gen. Arnold built a breastwork in Ridgefield & with 250 men stopt the whole army for 15 minutes. On our side lost Col. Gould & a considerable number more were killed.

I perfectly remember the expedition of the enemy to Danbury (1777) & was at work in my father's garden when our people met them at Ridgefield where a temporary breastwork was thrown up of rails & behind which 250 patriots were posted under the command of Gen. Arnold who sustained the fire of the whole British army (2200 picked men) for 15 minutes till the flank guards came round the corner of the house that stood by the side of the road where they were engaged—

Arnold, mounted on a horse, rode up to the breastwork and encouraged our men to fight until his horse was shot dead under him—the soldier that shot the horse running to take Arnold, he while dropping, snatched his pistol from the holster and brought him to the ground with "Damn you, take that!"

My wife had a greatuncle (David Patchin) an experienced marksman at shooting pigeons every fall, who was used to such sport as this, having been in the old French war,—when under Abercrombie. His righthand man (as he has often told me) was shot down twice in one day & then he had seven shots when he took as he said as good sight as ever he did at pigeons,—the last time at one that came round the comer of the house about 3 rods distance. He saw him drop, & then, under cover of the smoke of the whole volley which the British poured in upon them, retreated, & when that left him, skulked behind a rock where the balls struck spat! spat! spat! in the manner of hail; but soon under cover of more smoke, he came off safely ...

The place where they retreated was a cleared spot through an orchard,—no cover—& there Col. Gould of Fairfield was shot & was buried next day with the honors of war, three volleys being fired over his grave ... (He married my mother's sister.)

The firing was distinctly heard at Black Rock from Ridgefield and caused many melancholy sensations—

Gen. Wooster endeavored to attack them in their rear, but his men would not come on, & there he was killed, being near 70 years of age.

"To the immortal memory of the Generals Warren, Montgomery, Mercer, Herkimer, Nash, Wooster, and all the renowned heroes that ever bled & died in the defence of their country"—was a toast given about that time that is now fresh in my memory.

1779

April 25—A boat load with 8 or 10 men landed against Old Fort at the head of Black Rock harbor in the night & marched up to Gen. Silliman's & took him & his son William through the broken place in the beach to Long Island, then in possession of the enemy. They were piloted by one of our own (Tories). As they passed over the beach, the old 12 pounders at the battery three times distinctly in a calm night made the windows of my chamber shake. We were soon out, expecting the next moment to be a prisoner, but sending to the battery we learned the cause. The next morning the tracks of 8 men were discernible; 2 traced to the house of Ezra Wheeler, the next neighbor, who was tried for life before Putnam (then cantoned at a wood in Redding for the convenience of fuel in winter)—he was liberated.

July 7—At 7 in the morning, the fog clearing off, the enemy's fleet, just returned from plundering New Haven, appeared. Three guns announced an alarm—everyone busy in moving or throwing their things out of doors. About 11 o'clock 1,600 regular troops landed at the foot of the bar on town beach. Isaac Jarvis commanded the battery at the point of Grover's Hill, Black Rock, who, as soon as the British turned to go up the beach lane, fired a 12-pounder with ball & grape- shot, & kept it going till it was so hot you could hardly bear your hand thereon.

As they approached the parade, a field piece let go a ball & grapes through them.

I was at that time on Toilsome Hill, having been just above with my father to drive cattle to our woodland, to keep them from the enemy. As we arrived at Black Rock, it was with no pleasant sensation we heard the firing back towards Barlow's-plain, & seemed to be in danger of being hemmed in—this, however, we prevented by taking the upper bridge.

Black Rock people soon assembled on Grover's hill, among whom were several females, where we could see the enemy marching up. A continual cracking from near Round-hill was kept up the remainder of the afternoon & sometimes from a field-piece.

The first building that appeared on fire was the guard-house at Kenzy's point; next one at Barlow's plain. You might from Black Rock see the fire shine through the windows & presently the fire on the outside.

At night the British placed guards round the town which were plainly seen by the burning houses,—while many a column of Fire from the flaming buildings & frequent flashes of Lightning from a western cloud with dis- charges of cannon & musquetry formed a Prospect the most Gloomy & comfortless imaginable to the poor inhabitants who, many of them sheltered only by the Canopy of Heaven, without a second Suit to their backs, or a Penny in their Purse, beholding from a Distance the fruit of all their toil & labor expiring in a Cloud of smoke & cinders.

April 25—Ezra Wheeler's brothers Josiah and Abraham, as Tones, had their estates confiscated subsequently, but Ezra Wheeler remained in Black Rock and served as a member of the battery guard in 1779.

The town burnt all night—a cloud seemed to remain fixed in the west, from which issued frequent flashes of lightning; this, joined to many a column from the flaming buildings & frequent discharges of cannon & musketry on the British guard placed around the town; the poor inhabitants, with no shelter, with no clothing but what they had on; wives separated from their husbands & exposed to the indecencies of an infuriated soldiery, rendered truly diabolical by the spirits they found in plenty in the town,—formed a scene altogether so shocking that Fairneld will never see again, nor her present silken sons & daughters can form any conception of.

There were some instances of great bravery among the inhabitants of Fairfield. A Mr. Tucker fired from his shop on the parade at the whole army only a few rods distant, & was wounded by them in the shoulder & taken prisoner. Mr. Parsons fired from a chamber into the road & killed a British officer; then running out the back door made his escape. The enemy coming into the house, found an old negro bed-ridden; they said it was him, he declared it was not; they put the bayonet into him & burnt the house, next day my brother saw him about half burnt up & a beam lying on him.

Parsons, after this taking a prisoner, was conducting him away when he was taken prisoner himself.

Joseph Gold, a very old man & feeble, going off, stopped at a spring to drink; they commanded him to stop; he would not; they shot him.

Several women stayed in town to save their houses; but were so frighted, they said they would never again stay.

Jonathan Bulkley, living on the Green, stayed, got a protection from General Tryon & saved his house & three adjoining houses.

July 8—A Row-Galley, mounting an 18-pounder of brass, lay 5 of a mile from the Battery, & fired upon it, sending some shot over the hill; & the Battery firing on them, & hallooing with a speaking trumpet to turn their broadside towards them & they would give it to them.

Isaac Jarvis commanded at the Battery. Had he been a coward, 10 more houses would have been burnt; Squire's, Burr's, Silliman's, Holbertons, Fowler's, Chauncy's, Widow Wheeler's, Ichabod Wheeler's, E. Wheeler's, Bartrams.

About noon the enemy returned on board at Kenzy's Point, & were pursued through the burning houses by enraged inhabitants, and at Sandy Lane the roar of the small arms was continued like the roll of a drum.

Our people would have paid them as they were embarking, had they not levelled all the stone walls near the shore where our men might get behind, & drew up their armed vessels to keep off the Americans.

It is said the Fairneld people fought much better than they did at New Haven or Norwalk, which was burnt soon after.

Map of fairfield 1779

When the British burned FairEeld this map was made for or by Lieutenant Lawru of the invading army,—hence the military accuracy of the details of gunrange and position of troops,—and hence also the many inaccuracies in the topography of the hinterland—unfamiliar, of course to a British observer. "This manuscript map is reproduced by courtesy of Louis F. Middlebrook, author, and of The Essex Institute, publisher, from "Maritime Connecticut in the American Revolution 1775-1783."

About 40 of the enemy were found dead & 8 or 10 of ours. No doubt many were wounded & carried off with them, for about a fortnight after, when on guard at the point, I observed the remains of one washed out of the sand where they had buried him.

Eighty dwelling-houses, besides barns, stores, etc. were consumed. A Presbyterian meeting-house, Episcopalian Church & a Court-house, Green's Farms with their meeting-house, & Mill River (Village) were burnt at the same time.

Eleven houses were left standing, some of them extinguished by our people who followed close at the heels of the English, & afforded a refuge to the poor inhabitants from a hard succeeding winter, the most terrible but one (1740) ever seen since the settlement of New England.

The severe cold quieted in some measure our fears from an attack, & made the enemy in New York tremble in their turn for fear our men should march on the ice & attack them—& affording us a long season of excellent sleighing.

Thus graciously did a kind Providence favour & defend us from an unrelenting foe, till they were tired out by the contest.

The Sabbath after, Mr. Eliot preached (from 'Our holy & our beauti- ful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire; and all our pleasant things are laid waste') at Holland Hill* (William Wheeler's recollection seems here at variance with the Parish register held states that the church service of July 11th after the burning of Fairfield was held at the house Deacon Bulkley—which was one of the few houses near the Green left standing. Services on subsequent Sundays were held at Deodate Silliman's and other houses.) where Fairfield people assembled, not daring to meet near the shore for fear of being taken prisoners, so fearful were they—& long after, they could hardly sleep in their beds.

My father had a place for his silver tankard & some silver therein, in a stonewall. Many a time he has gone in a dark night with his gun to see if no enemy's boat came over the beach. (July 8 -The silver tankard, hidden by Captain Ichabod Wheeler, is now in the collection Historical Society in Fairfield.

Sometimes very few guards at the Battery or anywhere else. Strange that the enemy did not burn us in the four long years that the war lasted after this time. I listed as a soldier in the Guard (Upper Wharf) from May 16th till July 7th, when Fairfield was burnt, being 16 years of age. We had a double fortified 3 pounder, which sent a shot over a boat of the enemy's, sounding at the broken place of the beach."

About a fortnight after the Fire, I was drafted to go upon Guard a fortnight in town. We kept Guard upon the Beach & Kinsey's point,—3 sentrys at each place. One night as we were on Guard, we heard a Boat row, & ran to the Shore & lay on the Beach ready for them, but it went to Greens Farms & landed there. News soon come to Town and as they fird the Cannon to make an alarm, one poor fellow was so affrighted that he dropt down.

Alarms almost every night, some of them false. With driving away our cattle & carting- away furniture occupied us the rest part of the year. One morning- we saw 30 ships off the Harbor.

1780

The winter of 1780 was much the severest that had occurred in 40 years, the Snow filled the roads from side to side, & the air was pro- portionately keen. In one of the coldest nights of that dreary winter, 7 captives having got out of the Ship (one of them, Ebenezer Bartram, our neighbor, had his toes frozen) waited on the ice for about 40 more. They not coming, they took to their heels, amidst a shower of bullets which were fird from the surrounding guardships, & made for the land.

When they arrived on Long Island they came to a house where they were dancing & went in.

A British officer present sent off for a guard to secure them & placed himself at the door to obstruct their retreat, but their comrade, a huge Irishman, with one blow felled him to the floor.

They then set off in the night once more, but the air was so extremely piercing, sad necessity obliged them to stop at another house where only an old man & his wife occupied the fire. To this they made directly without ceremony. The inhabitants were shy, but when they got warm, the Americans told them they were going to New York.

"No" said the old man, "I know who you are,—you are prisoners from the ship, but fear nothing. The officer you saw has gone for a guard, but cannot be back in two hours,—have something to eat."

Having partook of some refreshment, he piloted them to a Stack where they staid till the search was over, and then retired to a Barn where the Old man fed them all next day, & the succeeding night sent his son to show them where they could cross the Sound which they did, steering by the stars—

They never could hear of their friend the Old man afterwards, whom it would have delighted them to reward.

While in Prison, their allowance was scarce enough to keep body & soul together—their bedclothing was so scant that onehalf had to walk in their shirts while the rest slept, & those that were delicate perished. In those long & dismal nights they were enveloped in total darkness, being allowed no candles.

(Related to me by T. Bartram, brother of the Captain.)

Jan.—A vast quantity of light snow fell & a strong N.W. Wind blew it incessantly for 3 or 4 days thicker than a snow storm & drifted so hard that sleds, loaded, came over the tops of the fences. The Harbor was froze so hard that loads of wood went on the Channel, the Ice being 1/2 foot thick. Capt. Parks cut out from the upper Wharf in 14 days. Ducks, Geese, &c laid out on the land. Joseph Bartram came across the Sound at Whitestone after his escape from the old Jersey Prison Ship. (The name Joseph Bartram may be mistaken for Ebenezer, his brother; cf. following note and entry, 1781.)

March 18—Capt. Fry & Lieut. Willard & twenty soldiers went to Town, having been here 46 days. (Garrison of the Fort.)

March 27—I begun to study Latin Grammar with Mr. Eliot. I began my studies & so large a portion of the town consumed, the Cats & Rats took to the houses that remained in great numbers. Our roaster put down his hand to stroke one of the rats, thinking him to be poor Horace, his favorite dog.

When the town was burnt, some were for dismissing their Pastor that they could not pay him, but he courageously told them that he would continue with them even if they gave him nothing.

He was a fine scholar in the Latin tongue and a very social & merry in company—his salary was 420 dollars per Annum. (This Year there was not any Rain from the 19th of May till the 7th of August.)

April 21—Taking up a Crib, we kilid 50 Rats.

May 19—Dark Day—Candles were lighted, & fowls went to roost. The Darkness was greater to the Eastward & less to the Westward. The Clouds appeared of a yellow colour like brass.

July 16—Capt. Whitney's Vessel was carried off from Mill River & himself murdered coming out of the Cabbin.

Capt. (Nehemiah) Whitney at Mill River was sleeping unsuspiciously | in his Cabin. Hearing a noise on deck & coming up, he was knocked ]i down & killed. This, though a slight affair contributed to keep up , that continued state of fear & alarm which lasted (excepting the hard winter) for several years. What increased the danger more was a number of Tones from every town who could pilot (and often did) the enemy into every place they pleased to come. '

Newtown was more particularly famous for these wretches,—the ' Whigs from Fairneld went & took their fowls & turkeys by force s (in a mob) & brought them home.

Greenfield Hill was a place among others where a Liberty Pole was set up & the throng drank confusion to King George & hurra for , Liberty!

The Torries by night cut it down—The Whigs set it up again & plated it with iron as high as they could reach, but the Tories with a ladder sawed it off above the plates.

Aug. 17—Capt. (Caleb) Brewster returned from one of his customary cruises & brought news that they had killed Gorham Smith of a party that attempted to take their Boats & lost one of their own taken prisoner.

About this time a large number of Privateers from 4 to 12 Guns of the Enemy's & ours are cruising in the Sound & take almost every unarmd Vessel that enters it—and when opportunity offers, plunder on both sides—

It was customary for the enemy to come from L. Island in Whaleboats (sharp at each end and manned with 8 to 10 oars) These, under cover of night, might be drawn up into some unfrequented nook while the rascals plundered & if pursued they could crawl off & soon be out of gunshot. Sometimes they would bring British goods and among them a species of velvet called Corduroy, from which this was long called the Corduroy trade.

Captain Caleb Brewster of Black Rock with 3 whale-boats about midway of the Sound against Fairneld, met 3 of the enemy's boats, when an engagement commenced. The boat that opposed Brewster had a small piece & was leeward; there was a fresh gale & Brewster reserving his fire till within 8 or 10 rods of Hoyt, poured in a broadside & then another & boarded; there was a large Irishman in the enemy's boat, who walked several times fore and aft, brandishing his broad- sword till Hasselton, a mighty fellow from the State of Massachusetts, snatched it from him & cut his throat from ear to ear; he died immediately.

Capt. Brewster being wounded was several times struck on the back with the steel rammer of a gun by Hoyfc On board of Hoyt's boat all hut one were killed or wounded. In Brewster's boat 4 were wounded— one (Judson Sturges) mortally.

Another of our boats had a swivel (gun) which killed 2 men at one shot in another of the enemy's boats & they immediately surrendered: the enemy's third boat escaped.

Capt. Brewster was also at the capture of Thomas, who commanded a privateer of the enemy mounting 14 guns, & manned with 35 men. Our vessel had about 70 men. The enemy hailed & ordered them to bring to.

"Aye, aye, presently."

"Bring to, I say."

"Aye, aye,"—and running their bowsprit across them about amid- ships, the sailing master, Hezekiah Gold exclaimed, "Strike, strike, damn you, or I'll sink you to hell!"

Of the enemy 9 were killed & 5 wounded, not one of ours was hurt; they were taken off Stratford-point & carried into Black Rock; they had taken 2 row-boats bearing the Continental flag that morning & had the men in their hold.

Sept. 27—The Sun appeared like a Gold Ring.

Oct. 29—2 Rainbows appeared in a Cloud & those vanishing 2 more appeard.—

Nov. 21—8 boats & 100 men under Major Talmadge went to Long Island.

Nov. 23—Returnd, having burnt 400 tons of hay, took a fort with 50 men & got some plunder.

Nov. 28—Came to Mill River 20 Men—took 3 sheep & an Ox & cut the throats of 2 more which they left. Dec. 9—60 Men landed at Compo—The mail was taken from Stratfield.

1781

Feb. 1—A Boat of the Enemy's dragged across the Beach.

Feb. 18—A Boat came to Mill River & took 2 of the Inhabitants Prisoners, but 2 more Boats coming in, they left theirs & ran into the woods, & the People from Town went down & took Samll Osborn & another.

March 1 —This week the Enemy burnt 2 houses & a Barn,- one of them belonged to Dr. Hill.

March 4—They burnt 2 tide mills on Mill River belonging to the Perrys their party consisted of 30 in 4 boats.

March 18—Men on Long Beach saw a Boat with something pild up like goods & fird 3 rounds.

March 22—A Boat came to Mill River & plundered 2 houses & took 2 prisoners.

March 26—Eben Bartram Junr. came in a flag from the Prison Ship at New York.

April 18—Capt. Slater fell in with 7 of the Enemy's whale- boats. He fird at them (& they at him) with 6 men & 2 swivels till he g-ot into Newfield. The guards at the upper Wharf fird upon the Boats twice with the Cannon when they went off.

May 16—2 of the enemy's Brig's drove Capt. Sturges in & went off by Stratford Point, fird ashore & kilid Cattle,— went to Mill River & took off 37 sheep & 15 lambs of Thaddeus Burr's at Kinsey's point, with 4 horses. 4 of our people collected & fird upon them as they went off & they left 7 cattle dead on the shore.

May 31—At Daybreak, 4 of the Enemy's armed Vessels landed at Compo 200 (men) where they drove on board a number of Cattle, Sheep & Swine, & burnt the Guard House. Our folks drove them off at noon with the loss of one man killed & 2 wounded.

June 27—Near this time a great number of Whale Boats go to Long Island to plunder.

July 11—3 French frigates,—one of them 44 Guns, & a Brig,& a Sloop came off against this Harbor, got some pilots & went to Long Island.

July 12—They returned, having effected nothing.

Aug. 25—2 Sloops & a Brig having taken a Guard at West Haven, coming off by Stratford point, the Brig overset and the Hatches being open, immediately sunk—2 of the Prisoners were drowned with some of the hands. Capt. David Hawley took her Shrouds & rigging off— her Masts were seen some time at low water till easterly storm took them away— The two prisoners drove ashore about 9 days after, near theplace where they were captured.

Sept 1-A great flight of pigeons—30 dozen taken at once.

Nov 6— Off "The Cows" a vessel upset—6 men drowned.

Dec 7_A Schooner concernd in illicit trade came in—Capt. Jarvis made her a prize.

1782 Jan. 31—19 Slays came at once to trade. Salt is 4 Dollars a Bushel.

March—7 persons went from Black Rock to Inoculation.

May 1—A privateer of 8 guns takes many Vessels on this shore—Capt. Hobby stove his Vessel.

May 14—David Patchin's house struck.

June 24—Mr. Edwards' wife drowned. Capt. Parks with 10 Guns & 21 men fird at a boat with 10 men—it is thought they killed most of them—off Black Rock.

Let the noise of War no more be narn'd There is a Peace once more proclaim'd.

Four Years at Yale

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The Collegian at Home

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The Sentimental Schoolmaster

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