Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Stone in a Guilford (Menunkatuck) CT History

    “Concerning the Indians who dwelt upon this (tract of land that became Guilford CT) nothing certain is known. A stone with a human head and neck roughly carved, now lying in a fence half a mile northeast of Madison meeting-house, is supposed to have been used by them as an Idol…”
     (Unsure if this is one recorded by Stiles)
   “The first settlers of this town were adventurers from Surry and Kent near London, and, unlike their mercantile brethren who peopled New Haven, were mostly farmers. They had not a merchant among them and scarcely a mechanic… The places where most of the original settlers first located themselves are now known. The noted Stone house of Mr. Whitfield, said to have been built in 1639, erected both for the accommodation of his family and as a fortification for the protection of the inhabitants against the Indians, is supposed to be the oldest dwelling-house now standing in the United States… It occupies a rising ground overlooking the great plain south of the village and commanding a very fine prospect of the sound… According to tradition the stone, of which this house was built, was brought by the Indians on hand-barrows, across the swamp, from Griswold's rocks, a ledge about eighty rods east of the house, and an ancient causeway across the swamp is shown as the path employed for this purpose…”
   (Hints at Indigenous Stone Building Skills, including quarrying, transporting and building structures such as a house - and an elevated Causeway through a swamp.)
   “Guilford harbor affords but an indifferent station for vessels. It has six feet of water on the bar at its entrance at low, and twelve feet at full tide. On the flats adjacent round and long clams of a very superior quality are taken by the inhabitants, and Guilford oysters, taken from the channel of East river, are noted as among the best in Connecticut. Their flavor is peculiarly agreeable and readily recognized by the epicure. They are, however, taken in but small quantities and held at a high price.”
     (This is where the Chaffinch Stone Weir is located – and makes one ponder if another purpose of the stones was to create a Clam Garden.)
     And of course Stone Heaps or Rock Piles mentioned in Treaties or Land Deeds:
    “Whereas, as the General Court of Connecticut have formerly granted unto the proprietors, inhabitants of the town of Guilford, all those lands both meadow and upland within these abutments viz. at the sea on the south and on Branford bounds on the west, and beginning at the sea by a heap of stones at the root of a marked tree near Lawrence's meadow and so runs to the head of the cove to a heap of stones there, and thence to a heap of stones lying on the west side of Crooper hill at the old path by the brook, and thence northerly to a place commonly called piping tree to a heap of stone lying at the new path, and from thence to a heap of stones lying at the east end of that which was commonly called Rosses meadow, and from thence to a heap of stones lying at the south end of Pesuckapaug pond, and so runs into the pond a considerable way to the extent of their north bounds which is from the sea ten miles, and it abuts on the wilderness…”
The History of Guilford, Connecticut: From Its First Settlement in 1639
 By Ralph Dunning Smith (1877)

Please note that this is a short "stone focused" version of something I gleaned from an 1877 History of Guilford (Menunkatuck) CT and, if you don't care to slog through the History, you can peek at the longer version I posted over on Waking Up on Turtle Island this morning, where I include all sorts of references to Cultural Landscape Clues:

No comments :