Marlborough, CT
From the Memorial History of Hartford County, CT
Edited by: J Hammond Trumbull LL.D.
Published by Edward L. Osgood, 1886



MARLBOROUGH lies in the extreme southeastern part of the county, and is fifteen miles distant from Hartford. It was formed from portions of Glastonburv, Hebron, and Colehester, which are situated in the three counties of Hartford, Tolland, and New London respectively, and is bounded north by Glastonbury, east by Hebron, south by Colchester, and west by Chatham, the latter until 1767 being a part of Middletown.

The area of the town at its incorporation in 1803 was about eighteen square miles. Ten years later an addition was made from Glastonbury, increasing its area to twenty-two square miles : the average length now being five and a half miles, and its average width four miles. It is very irregular in shape, and its rugged surface at some points swells into picturesque hills. The northern part, the natural boundary between Marlborough and Glastonbury, known as Dark Hollow, is a rare picture of disordered and broken masses of rocks rising to great heights, contrasting with wide stretches of woodland and waste open ground dotted with evergreens. Ravines cut this extensive tract of unimproved land in various directions running longitudinally through Glastonbury and Marlborough. These hills and ravines were barriers between the towns until the building of the Hartford and New London Turnpike. Marlborough Lake, so called, is a beautiful basin of clear water nearly a mile in length and a half-mile in width, set among rolling hills which rise gracefully to a considerable height in some places. The lake is fed by underground springs, and is without visible inlet. in some Places the depth has never been ascertamed. Pickerel fishing has long been enjoyed here, and more recently fine black bass have been taken. Granite quarries for home supplies have been opened and have yielded a good quality of stone. Black lead, or plumbago, has been found in small quantities in some parts of the town.

The only river of sufficient size to be dignified by a name is Blackledge's River, or Brook, which runs through the eastern part in a southerly direction to join the Salmon River in Colchester. The lake and numerous small streams furnish excellent water privileges, and there are two mineral chalvbeate springs in the southern part of the town, one of which has more than a local reputation.

The first settlements in the town were made in the southern part. Tradition tells us that a Mr. Carrier came up from Colchester town and made the first clearing, on which he built the cabin that was his dwelling for some years. He had sev€ral encounters with the Indians, but finally succeeded in establishing himself as proprietor of the soil. Messrs. Foot and Skinner soon followed, and later the Messrs. Lord settled in the same neighborhood. The lands in that part of the town are still owned by the descendants of those early settlers. A little later Samuel Loveland came from Glastonbury and built the first house in the northern part of the town. The first settlers in the eastern part were persons by the name of Buell, Phelps, and Owen, while Ezra Strong, Ezra Carter, and Daniel Hosford settled at the centre and western part.

On May 15, 1736, fourteen subscribers, "hereto inhabitants in Colchester, Hebron and Glastonbury," petitioned the General Assembly for a separate place of worship. "We would Humbly Shew to your Hon'rs our Difficult Circumstances. our Living So far from any Pls of the publick worship of God. Some Living Seven, Some Eight miles & Several of us have so Weakicy wives y't are not able to go to the Publick worship of God. . . . . . their are above sixty children in our neighborhood which are so small that they are not able to go to any place of Publick worship." They asked the privilege of "hiring an orthodox minister to preach the word to & amongst us." The residents in Glastonbury (Eastbury society) were "John Waddorns, Abraham Skinner, daved dekason [Dickinson], Samuell Loveland, Joseph Whight [White];" in Colehester (First society), " Epaphras and Ichabod Lord;" in Hebron, "Benja Neland, Wilam Beull, Benjamin Nelan, Jr., John & Joseph Neland," also "Worthy Watters and Ebenezer Mudg," who were probably residents of Hebron. The Assembly granted the petitioners liberty to employ a minister, but did not release them from taxes for the support of the ministry in the ecclesiastical societies to which they respectively belonged.2 The following year (1737) a petition to which thirty-two names were attached was presented. But one "Benjamin Nelan" appears, and "Ebenezer Mudg" is absent; otherwise the names are those of the previous petition. And to these are added, - from Colchester, "Abraham and Daniel Day, Andrew Carrier, Andrew Carrier, Jr., Benjamin Carrier, and Benjamin Carrier, Jr., David Bigelow;" from Hebron, "Noah Owen, Isaac Neland, Timotliy Buel;" from Glastonbury, "Charles Loveman [Loveland];" also" Robert Cogswell, Nathan Dunham, Sr., Rochel Jones, John and Deliverence Waters, Samuel Addams, John Addams (his mark), Daniel Addams, Joseph Kellogg, Samuel Buel, and Benj. Skinner." This petition was not granted; but the perseverance of these pioneers shows itself in the repeated petitions which followed in 1740, 1745, 1746, and 1747. That of April, 1747, having been received favorably, the society was incorporated, and named Marlborough. The society without doubt took its name from Marlborough, Mass.; the largest tax-payer in the society being David Bigelow,' a representative of a family conspicuous in the history of the old town of Marlborough, Mass. Ezra Carter, another influential member of the new society, came from the same town.

The transfer of David Bigelow from the church in Colchester to the Marlborough church tells us that in its early history it was called New Marlborough.

On the 4th of April, 1748, the society voted unanimously "to set a meeting-house on the top of the hill on the east side of time highway twenty-eight rods north of Ezra Strong's house." They appointed a cornmitted consisting of Epapliras Lord, Captain William Buell, Lieutenant Dickinson, Daniel Hosford, Ezra Carter, and Andrew Carrier, to frame, raise, and cover the meeting-house. Before anything was done toward the building beyond the appointing of this committee and a contribution of timber, the society turned their attention to the settlement of a preacher. The Rev. Evander Morrison seems to have preached to them for some time previous to and after the incorporation of the society but they did not give him a call to settle. The Rev. Samuel Lockwood, who had graduated at Yale in 1745, was invited to settle, but declined. The Rev. Elijah Mason, a graduate of Yale in 1744, was then asked to preach as a candidate; and Aug. 17, 1748, the society gave him a call to settle, which he accepted, and was ordained in May, 1749. The church, which was not organized until the council met to ordain Mr. Mason, was composed of such members as were in good and regular standing in the churches to which they belonged.

The work of framing, raising, and covering the house was now begun, the expense being defrayed by levying a tax of four shillings on the pound. A little later in the same year the windows were glazed. This seems to have exhausted their resources, and nothing more was done until April, 1754, when it was voted "to make seats and pews, to seal said house up to the windows, and also to make two pairs of stairs." In the course of the same year it was voted "to make one tier of pews on time back side and on both ends of our meeting-house, and two tiers of pews on the foreside of said house, and the remainder of the lower part of said house to he filled with seats." The following year, "Voted that a committee provide joice and boards at the society's cost for the gallery floor." Dec. 10, 1756, they voted to procure a lock and suitable fastenings for the meeting-house doors, at time society's cost.

Early in 1701 certain charges brought against the Rev. Mr. Mason led to his dismissal after a pastorate of twelve years ; but by a subsequent council he was restored to the ministry, and in 1767 he was settled. in Chester, where he died in February, 1770.

The society was supplied for nearly a year by preachers from neighboring churches who volunteered their services to the struggling church, when time Rev. Benjamin Dunning, a young graduate from Yale (1759), was requested to preach as a candidate, and soon afterward received a call to settle, which lie accepted. He was ordained in May, 1762.

The galleries were completed in 1770. Three years hater Mr. Dunning was dismissed. He was afterward settled in Saybrook (Pautapaug parish, now Centre Brook), where he died in May, 1785.

In October, 1773, the Rev. David Huntington was asked to preach as a candidate, accepting at first, but afterward declining on account of his health. The society repeated their call in February, 1776, and Mr. Huntington was installed the following year. Six years after his settlement the people renewed the work of completing the church, voting in 1782 "to erect pews in the body part of the house," also, "to shingle the front side with chestnut shingles."

The next year they were ambitious to become a town, and ceased work on the church. The petitions of this and the following year, sent to tile General Assembly asking for incorporation as a town, were not received favorably by that body, and the people once more turned their attention to the meeting-house. In 1797, after a pastorate of twenty-one years, Mr. Huntington was dismissed, and the same year was settled over what is now the South Church in Middletown, whence he removed in 1803 to North Lyme, where he died April 13, 1812. The painting and underpinning of the meetimig-house and the laying of its steps made this remarkable structure complete in 1803. It had been fifty-four years in building, and was finished by laying the corner-stone last. The church was without a settled preacher for seven years after Mr. Huntington's dismissal, and during this period twenty different ministers supplied the pulpit. Of these, Sylvester Dana (1798), Vincent Gould (1799), Ephraim Woodruff, and Thomas Lewis (1801) received calls which were not accepted.

The completion of the meeting-house was followed by the incorporation of the town in May, 1803, and this by the settlement of the Rev. David B. Ripley, in September, 1804, over the church. A fund of three thousand dollars was raised during his pastorate, the increase of which was "to be used for the support of preaching forever." Mr. Ripley sustained the relation of pastor of the church twenty-three years. He was dismissed March 6, 1827, and preached for a year at Abingt.on (Pomfret); then removed to Virgil, New York, and thence to Indiana, where he died in 1839 or 1840.

The following have been his successors, with terms of service, to the present time: Dr. Chauncey Lee, Nov. 18, 1828-Jan. 11, 1837 ; Hiram Bell, 1840-1850; Warren Fiske, 1850-1859; Alpheus J. Pike, 1859-1867. S. G. W. Rankin supplied the pulpit the most of the time for the next four years. In 1871 Oscar Bissell was installed; he was dismissed in 1876. C. W. Hanna supplied one year, when he was installed; he was dismissed in 1879. The Rev. J. P. Harvey supplied for one year, was installed in 1880, and is the present pastor.

In 1841 time old meeting-house had become so uncomfortable that action was taken with reference to building a new one. Subscription papers were circulated with such success as to warrant the undertaking, and in about a year the foundation was laid for the new church, two rods back of the old meeting-house.

The last sermon was preached in the old house June 13, 1841, after which, the record says, "It was rased to its foundations, and the ground cleared away for its successor." The new house was completed and dedicated March 16, 1842. The society now has a fund of more than five thousand dollars, and in addition owns a comfortable parsonage. The present membership of the church is seventy-two.

The residents of the society worshipped harmoniously until 1788, when eleven families left the church and jomed the Episcopal Church in Hebmon. Lay service was held for some years in the school-house in the south part of the town. The Episcopalians never built a house, and in 1820 had become so reduced in numbers that lay service was abandoned, - the three or four remaining families keeping up their attendance at the church in Hebron.

In 1810 Seth Dickinson and wife and Sylvester C. Dunham joined the Methodists in Eastbury; about three years later a class was formed in Marlborough, composed of ten or twelve persons; and in 1816 a Methodist church was formed, embracing forty-five individuals, among whom were the following heads of families: Seth Dickinson, Daniel Post, Samuel F. Jones, Oliver Dewey, Edward Root, Asa Bigelow, Sylvester C. Dunham, John Wheat, and Jeremiah Burden. Meetings were held at first in private families, and for a while in time school-houses in the northwest and northeast school districts. These meetings were frequently conducted by such pioneers of Methodism as Jeremiah Stocking, Allen Barnes, Daniel Burrows, Father Griffin, and occasionally Lorenzo Dow, and were of a character calculated to stir the staid Congregationalists. Sectarian zeal manifested itself at once, and for years a bitterness existed which crippled the spirituality of both churches. The Methodist Church was gathered, however, from a class of disciples who having put the hand to the plough never looked backward, and the rapid growth of the church was a surprise to those who predicted failure.

In 1838 the Union Manufacturing Company fitted up a chapel at the village, where they worshipped until they built a church. Circuit preachers ministered to the people from 1830 to 1842, when the new church was deeded to the Providence Conference, which sent its first representative, the Rev. Nelson Goodrich, to take charge. The church has a membership at present of only twenty-four. It has a fund of two thousand dollars, and a small parsonage. The pulpit is supplied by students from Wesleyan University.

The Baptist Church was the last to attempt organization. In 1831 ten persons resident in the town, with three non-residents, called the first regular meeting; Aaron Phelps, Oliver Phelps, arid Ezra Blish being the leading spirits in the enterprise. Meetings were generally held in the Northwest School-house till 1838, after which they were held for about two years in the chapel fitted up by the Union Manufacturing Company for the Methodists. The membership increased to twenty-eight in 1838. From this time it constantly diminished, until meetings were discontinued altogether.

The people as early as 1757 turned their attention to the education of their children. Schools were kept in private houses in the southern and western parts of the town for several years. Daniel Hosford and others asked permission of the General Assembly to build a school-house at the Centre, were granted this privilege, and began building the following year, completing the house in 1760. This schoolhouse was built nearly opposite tile meeting-house, and was the only school building in the town for many years.

In 1833 the Centre School received, by the will of Captain David Miller, a legacy of eighteen hundred dollars. This was to be held by the town, and its income used for educational purposes in this district forever.

In 1841 there were five school districts, the Centre, Northeast, Northwest, East, and South, with a total attendance of one hundred and seventy-three scholars. An occasional winter school for adults, conducted by clergymen in connection with their church work, has been the only opportunity offered in town to those desiring a higher education. There were in 1884 only four school districts, with an attendance of seventy-one scholars.

The first mills built in the town were grist and saw mills. Mr. Robert Loveland built the first grist-mill, on Blackledge's River, about a mile north of the grain and lumber mills of the late Gustavus E. Hall. The first saw-mill was built by Eleazer Kneeland, in 1751, on the same river, in the south part of the town, near the saw-mill of the late George Foote.

In 1840 there were in the town one woollen-factory, one carding-machine two fulling-mills and clothier works, three grain-mills, four saw-mills, one gunnery, and two large cotton-mills, which were owned and operated at this time by the Union Manufacturing Company. During the Revolutiomm the old gunnery owned and operated by Colonel Elisha Buell did a considerable business in repairing and manufacturing muskets for those who entered the service from adjoining towns.

The Marlborough Manufacturing Company, incorporated in 1815, built the north mill, and several dwellings for the mill operatives and employes, when it failed, and sold out to the Union Manufacturing Company. This company built a number of dwellings, the south mill, and a store, and by operating the mills accumulated a large property. The whole town partook of the thrift and enterprise of the village, finding there a market for wood and produce of all kinds, and being aided materially in many ways by this company. The cloth manufactured was a blue cotton stripe, and was sold to Southern merchants and planters for clothing for the slaves. When the War of the Rebellion broke out, the demand for the material was cut off, and the mills stood idle for some time. The north mill was destroyed by fire in 1862, and the south mill two years later. Several dwellings were burned with these mills, and the enterprise of the town was crippled.

During the past ten years several large tracts of woodland have been cut; the lumber has been shipped to Boston and eastern Connecticut for ship-building and railroad purposes. Besides this, little has been done outside of agricultural pursuits. Time land is owned to a great extent by a few, who still carry on their farming as they did forty years ago. The young people are attracted away by the enterprise of neighboring cities and towns, and thus aid in depopulating the town from year to year. Mr. Jonathan Kilbourn invented an iron screw for pressing cloth. The first screw manufactured by him was used by Esquire Joel Foote in his fulling-mill in the south part of the town. Mr. Kilbourn invented other machanical appliances, and was considered a genius in that section, as the following lines upon his tombstone, in the neighboring town of Colchester, will show : -

" He was a man of invention great, Above all that lived nigh; But he could not invent to live When God called him to die."

Inventive genius seems to have slumbered some fifty years after Mr. Kilbourn's death, when a number of inventors appear, Henry Diekinson being the first. He invented a new fastenimmg for gates, which was somewhat used, and a washing-machine. Joseph Carrier invented a bread-knife, and Charles Jones a flower-stand. During the past year Charles Hall has secured a patent for a wagon-seat.

The military history of the town, so far as records and traditions go, is of little glory. Worthy Waters bore the title of "Captain" in 1774, but this probably was a local honor, and the respect accompanying it enforced on " training day " only. Few entered the Continental army, and few fought in the War of 1812. In the War of the Rebellion Marlborough furnished her full quota of troops, though few entered the service from motives of patriotism. The only commissioned officer was Captain Dennisoim H. Finley, who went out as lieutenant of Conmpany G, Thirteenth Connecticut Volunteers. He was mustered in Feb. 18, 1862, and served his full three years, having in the mean time been promoted to the captaincy. His only brother, Daniel B. Finley, who was a volunteer in time same regiment, died soon after entering the army, and was the only Marlborough soldier who died in the service whose body was returned to his native town for burial.

It is worth recording that among the town offices that of postmaster was held by the Elisha Buell family for more than fifty years, and by one member of it for thirty-four years; while David Skinner and his son and grandson have been deacons successively in the Congregational Church, their terms of office covering a period of over one hundred years.

The town has been without a resident physician since 1841. Previous to that time a number had located in the town for a short time, going to larger fields of labor as they found them. The following is an incomplete list of those who have practised here: Dr. Hezekiah Kneeland, Dr. Tinmothy Woodbridge, Dr. Eleazer McCrary, Dr. Daniel Smith, Dr. Lewis Collins, Dr. Zenos Strong, Dr. Royal Kingsbury, Dr. John B. Porter, Dr. Palmine, Dr. Spaulding, Dr. Foote, Dr. Harrison McIntosh, and Dr. Lucius W. McIntosh; the latter remaining longer, and being identified with church and town interests to a larger extent, than any other. Marlborough was made a probate district in 1846, having formerly been a district of East Haddam. Asa Day was the first judge.

Epaphras and Ichabod Lord, of Marlborough, were sons of Richard Lord, 3d, of Hartford, and Abigail Warren, daughter of William Warren. Her mother, Elizabetlm, was the daughter of John Crow, who married Elizabeth, only child of Eider William Goodwin. Mr. Crow was the largest landholder in Hartford. Eider William Goodwin was prominent in the early days, was one of the original purchasers of Hartford, a ruling elder in the Rev. Mr. Hooker's church, and afterward in the church at Hadley. He died in 1673, in Farmington, leaving his estate to his daughter. Mr. Crow was in 1659, next to Mr. Welles, the wealthiest man in East Hartford. On the death of William Warren, in 1689, Mrs. Warren married Phineas Wilson, a wealthy merchant from Dublin, and on his death continued her husband's business, and became the most extensive banker in the State. Richard Lord died in 1712. aged forty-three, leaving a large estate. Four of his five sons lived to grow up, and were graduated from Yale, - the two youngest, Epaphras and Ichabod, in 1729. Their mother married for her second husband the Rev. Timothy Woodbridge, and died very aged, in 1753. She gave the church in Marlborough a communion-service, which was sold in after years and replaced by a plated set, to the scandal of the town. Epaphras Lord, born 1709, married Hope, daughter of Captain George Phillips, of Middletown, and had three children. Upon her death he married (1799) Lucy, daughter of the Rev. John Bulkeley, of Colchester, who had fifteen children. He represented Colchester in the legislature from 1743 to 1745. Ichabod Lord, born in 1712, married Patience Prentice Bulkley, daughter of the Rev. John Bulkeley, minister in Colchester, 1703; granddaughter of the Rev. Gershom Bulkeley, of Wethersfield, and great granddaughter of tine Rev. Peter Bulkeley, of Bedfordshire, England. Mr. Lord died in 1762, leaviimg seven daughters. His widow married the Rev. Mr. Eells, and removed to Middletown. After his death she returned to Marlborough, where she died July 8, 1794, aged eighty-four. Her daughter, Elizabeth Lord, married John Fells. Epaphras and Ichabod Lord came down from Hartford and purchased a large tract of land in Chatham and Colchester.

Joel Foote, Esq., son of Asa and Jerusha (Carter) Foote, and fourth in descent from Nathaniel Foote, of Wethersfield, was born June 26, 1763, in that part of the town of Coichester which was set off to Marlborough. He was liberally educated, and was probably as good a type of an old-school gentleman as any resident of the town. His uprightness was proverbial, and his services in places of trust were constantly sought. He represented the town in the General Assembly tweimty-two successive years, and from his general prominence won the title of "the Duke of Marlborough." He was twice married, his first wife being Abigail Robbins Lord, daughter of Elisha Lord, of Marlborough, who died at an early age, leaving four children. His second wife was Rachel Lord, daughter of Samuel P. Lord. of East Haddam; eight children were born of this marriage. His death occurred at Marlborough, July 12, 1846, at the age of eighty-three years.

Ezra Hall was born in 1835. After working upon his father's farm till he was twenty years of age, he determined to acquire a liberal education, and after a course of preparatory study at Wilbraham, Mass., and East Greenwich, Rhode Island, he entered Wesleyen University, at Middletown, in 1858, graduating in 1862. He read law in the office of Judge Moses Culver, of Middletown, while in the University, and afterward in that of the late Thomas C. Perkins, of Hartford, and after his admission to the bar began practice in the city of Hartford, pursuing his profession there until his death. He was elected to the State Senate in 1863, from the district in which his native town was situated, and was the youngest member of the body. He was again elected to the Senate in 1871, and in 1874 he represented Marlborough, in which he still kept his legal residence, in the House of Representatives. In 1874 he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, and argued some important cases before that tribunal. He was taken suddenly ill, and died at Hartford, Nov. 3, 1877, after a few days of intense suffering. He left a widow and two children. Mr. Hall had attained an honorable position at the bar and a high place in the public esteem. He was ambitious in his profession, and indefatigable in the discharge of its duties. No client ever had reason to complain of any neglect of his interests. He was always honorable in his practice, and had in this respect the entire confidence of his associates at the bar. He had a tenacious will, a vigorous and especially active and perceptive intellect, and a rare faculty for the despatch of business. He was, however, made for a man of affairs rather than for a great thinker, and found his most fitting place in dealing practically with business and with men. With a shrewdness and sagacity of the traditional New England type, he was unusually skilful in negotiation. During the later years of his life Mr. Hall was a specially growing man. An earnest study not merely of the law, but of everything that would help him to a higher development of his faculties, was showing its fruit. Professional success was still the great object of his ammibition, but it seemed to gather about itself in his conceptions higher and higher moral conditions, - a wider knowledge, a more through selfculture, a high standard of personal honor. He was for many years a communicant in the Pearl Street Congregational Church of the city of Hartford, and for a long time one of the most active laborers in its Sabbath school.

Samuel Finley Jones was born in Marlborough. His father, John Jones, served in the Revolutionary War, and died, on his way home, of a fever contracted in the service, leaving a widow and two sons. His widow died soon after, and the elder son went to sea and was never heard from. Young Samuel at three years of age went to live with his grandfather, Samuel Finley, for whom he was named, and lived with his grandparents until sixteen, receiving only a common-school education. He was then apprenticed to Colonel Elisha Buell, to learn the trade of a gunsmith; and after serving his time out married Miss Annie Strong, and bought a small farm in the northeastern part of the town. From this time on he added to his landed property rapidly, and for fifty years was the largest land-owner in that section. Mr. Jones had also a genius for money getting and keeping, and was well known as the money king of that section for many years. The Methodist Episcopal Church and town interests found in him a firm friend and most excellent adviser. His great force of character, indomitable courage, and individuality were remarkable. He died at the age of ninety years, the last ten of which were years of infirmity.


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