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when the Rev. James Dana was called in 1758 to succeed Mr. Whittlesey, who had died in 1752. The matter became a burning theological question in which the whole of New England was interested.
The northern boundary of Wallingford was limited at first by a line drawn east and west, located about three hundred feet south of the present railroad station in Meriden. At this point the old colonial road from New Haven to Hartford crosses a stream known as “Pilgrim's Harbor Brook,” and Dr. Ezra Stiles, with his lively imagination, conceived the theory that this name was given because the regicides at one time, wishing to avoid the king's officers, hid among the rushes and alders which grew on the banks of the brook. Unfortunately for this theory, Rev. John Davenport, writing to John Winthrop the younger, in September, 1660, called the locality by the same name that it bore in the days of Dr. Stiles, and at that time the regicides had not yet left Boston.
All that part of Meriden lying north of Pilgrim's Harbor nearly up to the Berlin line was for many years the "happy hunting ground” of the Indians, and owned no authority but that of the General Court; and was called "country land” because it was government property. The Quinnipiac Indians and those about Hartford and Farmington each claimed the land as their own, and the aboriginal title was sold again and again to the whites by the wily red men, until finally the General Court settled all question as to its ownership by incorporating it into the township of Wallingford.
In the northern part of this territory, and extending into what is now the southern portion of Berlin, was a tract called "Meriden Farm,”* granted by the General Court in 1661 to Jonathan Gilbert, of Hartford, which finally became the prop
* The name Meriden was quite common in England. The writer has found that there were six Meridens, one Meridale and one Merivale in use at one time or another in different parts of that country. An estate near Dorking, in Surrey county, has been called Meriden Farm for several centuries. The etymology of the word seems to indicate that its early meaning was Pleasant Valley. See “Notes on Staffordshire Place Names," London, 1902, and “Century of Meriden," Meriden, Conn., 1906.
erty of Governor Jonathan Belcher of Massachusetts. The name "Meriden,” used originally to indicate the farm only, by a process of gradual expansion finally became the name of the whole territory embraced within the present limits of the town. Meriden was made a separate parish in 1725, and was incorporated as a township in 1806.
Governor Belcher was one of the most distinguished men in New England; affable and polished in manners, with a handsome presence, and with a large fortune which he expended in a manner that attracted attention, his connection with what he called his "Manor of Meriden” made a strong impression in this vicinity, and the farm to this day is frequently called by his
Although of course he never made his home in this neighborhood, there is evidence that he attempted to make of his manor an estate worthy of such a dignified title, for he expended much money in improvements, and constructed a large artificial lake in the northern borders of the farm, and the remains of the old dam can be seen to this day. The remainder of the parish of Meriden was simply a collection of scattered farms, and there was nothing deserving the name of village until the latter part of the eighteenth century, although a church was built and a minister, Rev. Theophilus Hall, was settled in 1728.
When divisions or allotments of lands were made a few years after the settlement of Wallingford, there was soon manifest a tendency to drift towards the western part of the town, and so many of the farmers were living there in 1723 that it was determined in that year to make a separate parish of the territory, and call it New Cheshire. The lands of the parish were fertile, and the ministrations of the pastor, Rev. Samuel Hall, were so satisfactory, that the growth in population and wealth was rapid for those days of purely agricultural manner of living. By 1770, the number of male members of the church was four hundred, and the place was a strong rival to the mother parish, and it was not long before it was realized that it would be impossible to longer keep in leading strings this lusty and active daughter; and so in 1780 a new town was born in the state, by the name of Cheshire, with a population nearly as large as that remaining in the older town. It was a much larger and more wealthy community than Meriden, for many years. .
These forewords perhaps will serve to furnish a proper setting for the events related in the following narrative.
The village of Wallingford was clustered along its present Main street, which crowns the gentle slope rising from the valley of the Quinnipiac. As the town increased in numbers, the more desirable land near the village having been allotted to the original planters, the second generation, as they grew to manhood, found it necessary to look for farms elsewhere, and naturally turned their faces west, towards the fertile lands of Cheshire, and north, towards those rugged peaks between whose parallel chains nestles the present city of Meriden.
Among the pioneers who settled on these large uncleared tracts to cut away the primeval forests and make for themselves homes looking on well-tilled fields and meadows, was Samuel Andrews, a grandson of that William Andrews who signed the Fundamental Agreement of New Haven in 1639, and was one of the twelve. appointed to choose among themselves the men who were to be the pillars of the new church: he also built the first meeting-house and was a man of some prominence in the town.
Samuel, with his good wife Abigail, braving the dangers of the wilderness, chose as his farm a tract of land about a mile west of the present railroad station in Meriden. Here he built his home, and here their children, eight sons, were born, almost in the shadow of the grim and rugged Hanging Hills, which rear their lofty summits almost a thousand feet above the peace ful plain of the Quinnipiac river.
Five miles to the east, the age-stained cliffs of Lamentation, Higby and Beset mountains guard the other side of the valley in which the sturdy pioneers laid the foundations of Meriden.
Midway a lofty hill rises, whence on a clear day one may view the heights of Mt. Carmel and East Rock, and further on glimpses may be caught of the waters of the Sound, while in the north, just breaking the haze of the horizon, peers the sharp peak of Mt. Tom, in Massachusetts. On the western slope of this hill, where a bountiful and never failing spring gushes forth into a brook that dances and sings in its journey through the meadows to the south, the pioneers érected their primitive little church; while further up the hill “the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep,” their graves marked by a few sad-faced old tombstones, while in the midst rises a brown-stone shaft bearing the roll of the names of those, so far as known, who lie beneath the mouldering sod. The hill is barren and wind-swept, and no dwelling was ever built on it, for the land would yield no one a living. Time has played strange pranks, for, once the centre of the parish, the hill is today far from the haunts of men, and no one comes here now except the curious and those desiring to muse and be alone.
It was at least three miles to the east from the home of Samuel Andrews to the little meeting house, and each Sunday, doubtless, the family wended their way through the forest and up the hill to this pioneer sanctuary, and no suspicion existed in their minds or in those of their neighbors as to their orthodoxy or loyalty to the congregation ministered to by the Rev. Theophilus Hall.
In the course of time, it became necessary for one of the sons, Laban by name, to leave the parental roof in order to learn a trade; so he was duly articled as an apprentice to Captain Macock Ward, who lived on Pond Hill in the southern part of Wallingford, almost on the North Haven line. Here Captain Ward had lived for many years, respected by his fellow townsmen and prominent in the affairs of the community, for he was many times elected a deputy to the General Court and served, with some distinction it is believed, in campaigns against the French and Spanish. Governor Talcott, of Hartford, writing to the Duke of Newcastle in 1740, mentions that he has commissioned Macock Ward a lieutenant; and we also learn that he was a captain in the Crown Point campaign of 1755.
Captain Ward was evidently of an inventive turn of mind: the fact has come down to us that the first pleasure carriage in Wallingford was owned by him, in the year 1755, and to it he had attached a sort of cyclometer arrangement. The carriage was a one horse chaise, and the diameter of the wheels was about five feet, and by means of a machine of some sort attached to one of the wheels and put in motion by the progress of the vehicle, each revolution was recorded, and the driver was notified when a mile had been traversed by the striking of a bell. One can readily imagine the sensation created by the gallant captain when riding about the streets of the town in his novel and ingenious vehicle. *
He carried on at one time the manufacture of reeds used in hand looms, and it was perhaps to this trade that Laban Andrews was bound as an apprentice. Probably the only cause of complaint that his fellow townsmen could urge against the captain was that he was a churchman, or member of the Church of England. Indeed, the Ward family generally seems to have been identified with this church, for his grandfather, Andrew, was registered as one of the members of the Episcopal Church in Stratford, and his brother Ambrose was a vestryman of Trinity Church, New Haven, during the years 17741776 and 1778-1780. But these facts cannot have injured the popularity of the captain to any great extent, or he would not have occupied so prominent a position in the community or been so often elected to positions of influence and trust by his fellow townsmen.
In those days an apprentice was generally made one of the family, and there was no exception to the rule in the case of young Andrews. Now the captain had a young and blooming daughter, and the apprentice, naturally smitten with her charms, fell in love and was so successful in his suit that he was soon her affianced lover. But woman is fickle or man is inconstant: one knows not which horn of the dilemma to choose. Certain it is that this engagement did not terminate in a marriage, but during the brief heyday of bliss the young woman, mindful of the welfare of the soul of her lover, succeeded in converting him to the faith of her father; and the result was so lasting and thorough that the broken troth did not cause
* From a manuscript History of Wallingford, by Geo. W. Stanley, written more than a hundred years ago, and now in the possession of the Connecticut Historical Society.