Monthly Archives: May 2012
Ezekiel Williams, a successful merchant in Wethersfield, was born in Lebanon, the son of prominent First Church minister Solomon Williams and the brother of Declaration of Independence signer and Council of Safety member William Williams. Ezekiel Williams moved to Wethersfield in 1752, built a large house on the Broad Street Green in 1759 and, a year later, married Prudence Stoddard. In 1761 he joined the militia as a captain and in 1767 he was appointed Hartford County sheriff, a position he held for 22 years.
Strong support for the cause of independence seemed to run in this branch of the Williams family. In 1774, Williams led Wethersfield’s effort to provide supplies for blockaded Boston and was elected to the Committee of Correspondence. He also served on the Committee of Inspection seeking out Loyalist sympathizers and the Committee of the Pay-Table which audited Connecticut war accounts.
In May 1775, Williams was one of eleven men appointed to take charge of prisoners of war in the state and in 1777 he took full charge of such prisoners when he was appointed Commissary of Prisoners. This involved far more that being a jail warden, since most imprisoned officers and gentlemen were housed in private homes and were allowed (on the promise of good behavior or parole) to mingle freely within the community. Williams found safe housing, authorized travel permits, and carried out prisoner exchanges. He also managed the prison ships on which British and
Tory enlisted men were kept.
Eliphalet Dyer was born in Windham, CT and graduated from Yale in 1740. He then studied law in Windham. Around 1745 he married Huldah Bowen. They had five sons and a daughter who married Joseph Trumbull.
In 1746 Dyer became a lawyer and a Justice of the Peace. He was a founder and active member of the Susquehannah Company including making an unsuccessful trip to England in 1763 to try and have the company’s title to land in Pennsylvania confirmed. He defended the company in the Connecticut legislature during his terms as deputy from 1742 to1762 and in the upper house from 1762 to 1784. In 1765, Dyer was one of the governor’s council who refused to witness the signing of the Stamp Tax oath.
Dyer was first sent to the Continental Congress in 1774 and continued to serve until 1783, except for 1776 and 1779. He was also appointed to the Council of Safety in 1775 and served until it was disbanded in 1783. Because of his militia experience during the French and Indian War, Dyer was offered a commission as brigadier general in the Continental Army but declined in order to continue his work in Congress and on the Council of Safety.
Born in Stamford, Davenport graduated from Yale in 1732.His first wife was Elizabeth Huntington (daughter of Jabez
Huntington of Windham) whom he married in 1750. Elizabeth had five children before her death in 1773. In 1776 Davenport married Mrs. Martha Fitch.
Davenport served as a Stamford selectman from 1746 until 1777 and then served as town treasurer for two years as well as serving as a deacon in the First Congregational Church of Stamford from 1759 until 1789.
Davenport served as a representative in the General Assembly from 1747 to 1766 and was then elected to the upper house where he served until 1784. He served on the Council of Safety from 1777 until 1783. During the New York campaign, Davenport cared for sick soldiers returning home. He housed many in his own house and found housing and care for many more.
We’ve been contacted by a reenactor who portrays an Allied Native solider from Stockbridge, MA. He’s looking for events in Connecticut in which to participate. Contact us if you’re interested!
Among the earliest successful ship builders at Norwich Landing, Joshua Huntington was an established businessman by the time the American Revolution broke out in 1775.
By late 1776, the recently formed U. S. Marine Committee recommended to Congress that a mix of ships be built to include three 74-gun ships and five 36-gun Frigates, an 18-gun brig and a packet boat. Dithering in Congress kept decisions from being made until 1777, when Governor Jonathan Trumbull wrote to John Hancock insisting that two ships be built in Connecticut, one at “Chatham” (now East Hampton on the Connecticut River) and one at Norwich under the direction of Major Joshua Huntington (1751-1821) at his shipyard below the confluence of the Thames and Yantic Rivers.
The Confederacy was a 36-gun sailing frigate launched November 8, 1778 at Norwich and towed to New London to be prepared for sea. Dimensions and specifications were provided by Oliver Wolcott but without scale drawings or designs. The ship builders were forced to design as they built and according to their imaginations based upon narrative descriptions. Due to the rushed order, a great deal of green lumber went into the Confederacy, causing it to suffer extensive rot within a few years. Its fittings came from a variety of Connecticut foundries as well as from salvaged enemy ships held in Newport, Rhode Island.
From May 1 to August 24, 1779 Confederacy cruised the Atlantic coast under the command of Captain Seth Harding. While convoying, providing armed defensive support to a fleet of merchantmen, on June 6, 1779, she and the Deane, captured three prizes, drove off two British frigates and brought the convoy safely into Philadelphia. Deane, named for American commissioner to France, Silas Deane, of Wethersfield, was built at Nantes, France, and brought to the U.S. in May 1778.
Still under the command of Captain Harding, the Confederacy, on September 17, 1779, was commissioned to sail to France to return the French Minister, Count Gerard, and the American Minister to Spain, John Jay. Two months into their voyage, on November 7, 1779, the ship was dismasted by a heavy wind and was nearly destroyed. Captain Harding managed to work the ship southward, forced to seek refuge on Martinique, West Indies in early December. With 6 feet of water in the hold, she remained there for several months for repairs. From Martinique, the ship’s diplomatic passengers departed for France on the French frigate L’Aurore and after repairs, Confederacy returned to active duty.
She returned to Philadelphia on April 20, 1780 only to have the need for more extensive repairs discovered. In October, she was damaged once again in a collision with another ship in Philadelphia harbor. In 1781 Confederacy was forced to strike her flag to two British ships; the 44-gun HMS Roebuck and the 32-gun Orpheus off the coast of Cape Francois, West Indies. She was subsequently taken into the British service as HMS Confederate, and sent to England with her load of American supplies and nearly 100 American prisoners. In England, the Confederacy’s excessive hull rot was discovered.
In April 1775 17-year-old Daniel Putnam followed his father from farm field to war, serving as Major General Israel Putnam’s principal aide. In 1790 he purchased this farm and named it Putnam Elms, after the many trees he planted.
Putnam Elms is owned by the Colonel Daniel Putnam Association, and is open to the public.
Well, the launch of Connecticut’s new marketing slogan has certainly provoked much discussion in the tourism/arts & culture communities in this state. From what we’re seeing, the consensus is – meh, it’s better than nothing, but “revolutionary?” The Land of Steady Habits? Besides, as we heard on Where We Live yesterday, Connecticut’s Revolutionary War heritage is neither exciting, important, or anything we’re best known for.
Over here at RevolutionaryCT.com, we’re 1) amused that a group of small, mostly all-volunteer historical societies and sites came up with an idea ahead of professional marketing firms; and 2) no disrespect to all other periods of Connecticut’s history, we’re going to dispel the myth once and for all that “nothing happened here” during the War of Independence.
Mostly, it’s lack of awareness. What we know is that Connecticut was literally the front line of defense – militarily and politically and domestically – but our visitors and our citizens don’t know it. In a state with great thematic tourism trails – we even have a maple syrup trail – there is no Revolutionary history trail.
But all that’s about to change. Welcome RevolutionaryCT.com, with a great logo, teeny budget, and tremendous enthusiasm for a neglected subject. We’re not setting goals for economic development, we’re just sharing what we have and know with the people who live, work, and spend time in Connecticut. Yep, it’s a revolutionary idea.
Farms such as this one were essential to the supply lines that fed and clothed Connecticut’s Revolutionary soldiers. Behind the house once stood a two-story barn that housed livestock one level, and feed and equipment on the other.
The Strong-Porter House is owned by the Coventry Historical Society, and open to the public.
The Yantic, the Shetucket, and the Quinebaug Rivers unite at Norwich to form the Thames River, making the city a Revolutionary-era center for shipbuilding, merchant trading, and manufacturing. Norwich was also a hotbed of activity for the Sons of Liberty. Benedict Arnold was born here, and the city “hosted” one of the Revolution’s other notorious traitors, Benjamin Church in its gaol.
The Norwich Historical Society interprets the history of the “Rose City.”
Franklin was once West Farms north of Norwich. The stage road was from the Norwich Town Green to Windham. In 1786 West Farms became Franklin and the following year it was voted that a town highway tax be payable in labor at 3 shilling per day for a man and 8 shilling for a man and a team of 4 good oxen and cart. In 1795the Hartford to Norwich Turnpike was chartered to connect the towns of Franklin, Lebanon, Columbia, Andover and Bolton. It was to have two toll gates. But in 1796a resoluntion was forwarded to the General Assembly that the inhabitants of Franklin
were” dissatisfied, aggrieved and injured by setting up a turnpike between Lebanon and Norwich and praying that such relief as consistent with wisdom, justice and equity be granted.”