Cornwall

From the Connecticut Historical Collection
BY John Warner Barbour
Published 1836

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This township was laid out in fifty three allotments, and sold by the colony at Fairfield in 1738, at fifty pounds per right. The first permanent settlement was made about 1740, there being this year 13 families in the town. The first inhabitants were from various parts of the colony, the greatest number being from Plainfield. These were persons by the name of Jewett, Spaulding, Barret, Squires, and others. Those by the name of Allen and Griffin, were from Litchfield; the Fullers and Robertses from Coichester. There were other persons from Tolland, Norwalk, and some from Massachusetts. Such a number of persons planted themselves in the town at once, that they were able to support a minister from the commencentent of the settlement, In August, 1741, the Rev. Solomon Palmer was ordained their pastor. "He continued with them in peace until March, 1754, when on the Sabbath, to the great surprise of the people, he declared himself an Episcopalian in sentiment. He soon after went to England, and obtained orders.. He was originally of Branford, and had his education at Yale College."

Cornwall is situated 38 miles west from Hartford, and 48 northwest from New Haven; bounded north by Canaan, west by the Housatonic, separating it from Sharon, east by Goshen, and south by Warren and Kent. Its average length from north to south is more than nine miles, and its breadth about five. The face of the township is hilly and mountainous, but the soil is fertile and productive, being well adapted both to grain and grazing. Several minerals have been discovered in this town ; in the western section, in what is called Mine Mountain, near the Housatonic, veins of black lead have been discovered in various places; about two miles south of the principal settlement, a bed of porcelain clay has been discovered; there are also various indications of iron ore.

South Cornwall


The above shows the appearance of the village of South Cornwall, as seen from the road which passes from Goshen to Sharon. The drawing was taken from the house of George Wheaton, Esq. on the elevated ground about one mile N. E. from the Congregational church. There are two mercantile stores, and about twenty dwelling houses, within half a mile of the church. The appearance of this village and the surrounding objects, as seen from the road above mentioned, constitutes one of the most interesting and striking scenes to be met with in the state. The cheerful appearance of the church and the little cluster of white painted buildings surrounding it, at the bottom of a deep valley, is uncommonly pleasing. The mountains and lofty hills which rise immediately on almost every side, shutting out in a sense the rest of the world from this apparently retired spot, present a bold and most striking feature in the landscape. The mountain seen south of the village is Colt's Foot Mountain, so called it is said from the circumstance of a colt's foot being found on its summit, which was probably carried there by some wild animal, as the mountain is almost inaccessible. This village is the place where the Foreign Mission School was established in 1818. The building in which the school was kept is the westernmost in the cluster seen around the church. This school had its rise from the attempt to qualify Obookiah, a pious Owyheean youth, and others, for missionaries to their native lands. Obookiah was brought to this country in l8&8, and came to New Haven. While here, Samuel J. Mills, a student in Yale College, and other pious persons, commiserating his condition, instructed him in the Christian religion. Obookiab soon became hopefully pious, and strong]y advocated a mission to his countrymen. Other natives of his island were found, and a school was established for their benefit at Cornwall. In 1820, the number of pupils in this school was 29, of whom 19 were American Indians, and 6 from the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Obookiah sickened and died in Cornwall in 1818. The following is the inscription on his monument in the village grave yard.

In memory of Henry Obookiah, a native of Owyhee. His arrival in this country gave rise to the Foreign Mission School, of which he was a worthy member. He was once an Idolater, and was designed for a Pagan Priest; but by the grace of God, and by the prayers and instructions of pious friends, he became a Christian. He was eminent for piety and missionary zeal. When almost prepared to return to his native isle to preach the Gospel, God took him to himself. in his last sickness, he wept and prayed for Owyhee, but was submissive. He died without fear, with a heavenly smile on his countenance and glory in his soul, Feb. 17th, 1818, aged 26.


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