Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Little Bitty-Bit of Early American History

In case you may have forgotten, I will take you back to the 1600's to recall a piece of early American History, one of the first steps in the journey to the West. In this episode taken from a History of Norfolk, Connecticut,1744-1900, by Theron Wilmot Crissey, we see the beginnings of the expansion into the West.

     "The title to the land and right of Robert, earl of Warwick, was the first proprietary of the soil under a grant from the Council for New England. March 19, 1631, he ceded it by patent to Lord Say and Seal, Lord Brook, John Hampden and others. Before any colony could be established under their authority, individuals, headed by William Holmes of Plymouth had, September 1633, erected a grading house at Windsor [Connecticut]. The June previous to the arrival of Holmes, the Dutch from Manhattan, had established themselves at Hartford, having purchased twenty acres of land of a Pequot chief,--built a fort and mounted a couple of cannon. They claimed Connecticut, and never whiolly relinquished their claims until 1664 {those naughty Dutchmen]. The fur trade with the Indians was then very lucrative. The Dutch purchased of the Indians annually ten thousand beaver skins. [And I thought it was the white men who were doing all the fur killing and killing off the animal species. Where was the PETA?] In 1634, a few men from Watertown, Mass., came and erected huts at Wethersfield, which is the oldest town in the state. In 1635, a number of men cam from Dorchester to Windsor, and erected log houses. Other men from Watertown did the same at Wethersfield. [And these folks weren't unionized but free to build their houses.] In the autumn, having completed these preparations, these men returned to Mass. for their families, and on the 15th of October there set out about sixty men, women and children with horses, cattle, and swine. More than a hundred miles of wilderness through which no roads existed, whose streams were without bridges, and whose sole inhabitants were Indians and wild beasts, had to be traversed. [A trip repeated many times with the same conditions into the 1800's.] Dr. Trumbull says, "after a tedious journey, through swamps and rivers, over mountains and rough ground which where passed with great difficulty and fatigue, they arrived at their place of destination. But the journey had consumed much time, and the winter set in earlier than usual. [Shades of the Donner Party. People just never learned.]" [And their basic supplies ran out. They had to send some people back to the mouth of the Connecticut River, but when they got there, their boats with the supplies were not their. Most of the "invaders" made their way back to Boston.] Yet in the opening of the next year, 1636, the budding of the trees and the springing of the grass were signals of a greater emigration to Connecticut. The principal caravan commenced its march in June. Thomas Hooker, the light of the western churches, led the company. It consisted of about a hundred souls, many of them accustomed to affluence and the ease of European life............ Of this company, some settled at Windsor, some at Wethersfield, but the larger portion with Hooker took up their residence at Hartford."

     "Meantime the Pequot Indians had been exterminated, in 1637. This warlike tribe had from the first exhibited a hostile spirit towards the English. They had committed several murders.

     "Capt. John Mason, with ninety English, attacked Fort Mystic at daylight, May 28, 1637. It was set on fire, and in one hour above six hundred Indians, men, women and children, perished. This terrible blow struck dismay into the hearts of the other tribes, and secured peace to the colonists for a long period."
     [When you compare this massacre to those of Chivington or Custer or even the Mountain Meadows, the casualties are minimal, but, I suppose, it set the tone for the succeeding years of the westward expansion.]


  1. Whether a few or many, the intentions were the same.

    1. Yawp! But not very politically correct now.