Early Settlement of Pomfret Connecticut

During the Indian war the family of Captain Sabin were the only white inhabitants of the future Pomfret now known to us, though it is possible that Benjamin Sitton, styling himself of “Mashamoquet, in Nipmug Country,” who purchased of the Danas in 169S “fifty acres of wilderness land at a place called Mashamoquet, bounded west by Windham Rode,” was also a resident. Some land sales were affected during this period. Land in the Quinebaug valley was sold to Sabin by Fitch and Owaneco. Two hundred acres, bounded north on Sabin’s first purchase, the full breadth of the land, were sold by Major Fitch to Samuel Paine, of Rehoboth, in 1695. Philemon Chandler, of Andover, nephew of Deacon John Chandler, of Woodstock, purchased a Mashamoquet allotment of Thomas and Elizabeth Ruggles in 1696. After the close of the war sales multiplied and settlers straggled in. Nathaniel Gary came to the new settlement probably as early as 1698, settling on land east of the purchase. The payment of twelve pounds secured him, in 1699, a deed of five hundred and fifty acres “southeast from Woodstock,” in what was afterward called the Gary neighborhood. The land between the purchase and the Quinebaug, the whole length of the township, was owned by -Major Fitch, who is said to have once offered it to John Grosvenor for fifteen pounds. His sons, John and Leicester, gave a much larger sum in 1698 for 400 acres of this valuable land, extending from the mouth of the Mashamoquet to a brook at the north end of the interval. Farms east of the purchase were sold by Major Fitch to Samuel Allen and Samuel Gray in 1699. Three hundred acres on the Quinebaug, just below its junction with the -Mill river, are said to have been purchased from the Wabbaquasset proprietors at a very early date by Samuel Perrin, Benjamin Griggs and Peter Aspinwall, then of Woodstock, and were confirmed to them by Major Fitch on the payment of twelve pounds in 1702. The remaining land between the Quinebaug and the purchase, from Woodstock line to the mouth of the Mashamoquet, was purchased by Captain John Chandler for twenty pounds in 1701.

The first settlement within the limits was prior to 1700. One of the first settlers was Thomas Goodell, who, after a brief sojourn in Woodstock, bought land of Deacon Chandler in 1699. He is said to have come up alone to the new township to put up a house and prepare for his family, but that his wife became uneasy, took her spinning wheel in hand and came up to look for him in midwinter, and by the aid of teams and chance Woodstock travelers, made the long journey in safety. Mrs. Esther Grosvenor removed to Mashamoquet in 1700. Her eldest son, William, was graduated from Harvard in 1695, and had settled in Charlestown. Her other sons, John, Leicester, Joseph, Ebenezer and Thomas, and one daughter, Susanna, came with her to the new country. A noble inheritance awaited them, the fairest portion of Mashamoquet, embracing the site of the upper part of the present Pomfret village and the hills eastward and westward. The road to Hartford and Windham passed through their land, near their first residence, which was on the western declivity of Prospect hill, near the site afterward occupied by Colonel Thomas Grosvenor’s mansion house. Susanna Grosvenor was married in 1702 to Joseph Shaw, of Stonington. Their wedding, attended by the Reverend Josiah Dwight, is the first reported in Mashamoquet.

Philemon Chandler removed early in the century to his lot on the Wappaquians, in the south of the purchase. Deacon John Chandler, of Woodstock, died in 1702, leaving to his youngest son, Joseph, ” the lot in Mashamoquet, lying upon the line, and, if he see cause, all the Mashamoquet lands.” The one hundred and fourteen acres upon the line -were valued in the appraisal of the goods at £20; two hundred acres on Mashamoquet brook, £12; purchase lands still undivided at £-. The lot on the Mashamoquet was purchased in 1704 by Nathaniel Sessions- prob-ably son of Alexander Sessions, of Andover-who at once took possession of it. In 1705 the little settlement was strengthened by the accession of Deacon Benjamin Sabin, of Woodstock, with his sons, Benjamin, Stephen, Nehemiah, Ebenezer, Josiah and Jeremiah. Deacon Sabin selected for his homestead a farm adjoining Philemon Chandler’s. and settled his sons on land purchased of Samuel Gore’s heirs and others. In 1706 Joseph Chandler sold a hundred acres of land west of Sessions’, on the Mashamoquet, to Richard Dresser, of Rowley, who conveyed the same the following year, together with a small dwelling house built upon it, to Abiel Lyon, of Woodstock. Mr. Lyon at once occupied this dwelling, and set up a saw mill on the Mashamoquet. Joseph Chandler married in 1708 Susanna Perrin, of Woodstock, and settled on the “lot on the line.” bequeathed him by his father. Part of this land, and other land bordering on Woodstock, were purchased and occupied by Edward Payson, of Roxbury, in 1705. Ebenezer Truesdell, after a short residence in the Quinebaug valley, bought land and a house of Thomas Goodell, in the southwest part of the purchase, now included in Abington. In 1709, Joseph Tucker, Samuel Gates and John Hubbard also bought land and settled in the south part of the Mashamoquet purchase.

East of the purchase, settlement was also progressing. Eight hundred acres on the Quinebaug were purchased of the Grosvenors and Captain John Chandler, by John Lyon, of Woodstock, in 1705, and sold by him, with mansion house and barn, to James Danielson, of New Shoreham, for £155, in 1706. Mr. Danielson soon afterward bought land in Killingly, east of the Quinebaug, and seems to have resided in both settlements. The mill privilege of a small brook running into the Quinebaug, known as Bark Meadow brook, was purchased by James Sawyer in 1709, who there built and carried on the first grist mill in the settlement. Samuel Warner and Samuel Taylor also settled in the Quinebaug valley, on land purchased from Danielson and Gary. Griggs’ share of the Perrin land was secured by Samuel Paine, then of Woodstock, who, with his brother Seth, early settled in this vicinity.

The settlement of Mashamoquet was attended with comparatively few hardships. Its soil was good and easily subdued, its smooth hills bare of trees to a great extent, and covered with a rank, coarse native grass, resembling, it is said, a rye field in harvest time. In proof of the natural resources and fertility of this region, old settlers were wont to relate that a cow and calf left prior to settlement to forage for themselves through the winter were found in the spring, not only alive, but in excellent condition. Indians were numerous but not especially troublesome, though fortresses were maintained in various localities during the Indian wars. Various hunting and fishing privileges were claimed by them, and liberty to levy food and cider from the settlers. Mrs. Grosvenor, when alone, was once invaded by a company, who threatened to take the boiling meat from the pot, and made violent demonstrations, but were kept at bay by her broomstick till the arrival of her son, Ebenezer, who had gained much authority over them.

Source: History of Windham County, Connecticut, Bayles, Richard M.; New York: W.W. Preston, 1889

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top