Tuesday, July 12, 2011


[Ancestral Link: Marguerite Anderson (Miller), daughter of Hannah Anderson (Anderson), daughter of Mary Margaret Edmiston (Anderson), daughter of Martha Jane Snow (Edmiston), daughter of Gardner Snow, son of Abigail Farr (Snow), daughter of Jonathan Farr, son of Elizabeth Powers (Farr), daughter of Thomas Powers, son of Trial Shepard (Powers), daughter of Ralph Shepard, son of Isaac Shepard.]

Isaac Shepard
To these twenty-four proprietors others were soon added. A number of the inhabitants who were at first reluctant to resign their lands, afterwards came into the arrangement, though Isaac Shepard and two or three others never relinquished their individual ownership. Each family retained its original homestead and care was taken to accommodate all with accessible allotments. A lot was laid out to William Douglas "at the brook west of his house running into Mill Brook-the remainder of his purchase being yielded up to the general use of the town." James Deane gave to the use of the town his land eastside of Mill Brook, "hoping that it might tend to the speedy and quiet settlement of the town, though much to his loss." Ephraim Wheeler threw up his purchased land, retaining the lot north of Moosup's River, on which he was settled. William Gallup was allowed a lot, "provided he bring his family to it in some reasonable time and there settle his family;" Peter Crery, also, "provided he do speedily settle his family upon it;" John Gallup, Jr., was granted "the lot he now lives on;" John Gallup, Sen., "a lot adjoining his son's." Matthias Button was allowed to have his hundred acres in two parts, one of them to be between his house lot and Moosup's River, "so that it be not any hindrance to the setting up a corn mill on said river." Samuel Howe, John Deane and other new inhabitants were each granted the privilege of an allotment, by paying three pounds in money into the town treasury. This division being distributed, the town voted, August 27, "That all the intervals adjoining to the north end of the intervals called Judge Tracy's and so up Quinebaug River to Moosup's and so up Moosup's to the place called The Seven Wonders, and so up both sides Moosup's to the General Field fence, shall be laid out into four-acre divisions so far as it will go and to be to the upper end inhabitants, and the south inhabitants to have as much laid out elsewhere-Thomas Stevens, Sen., John Smith and Edward Yeomans, committee." This division was laid out and drawn by lot by forty proprietors, October 19, 1704. The remarkable locality designated "The Seven Wonders" has not been identified. It was assigned to William Marsh and described as near Moosup Round Hill and the lower fordway of Moosup's River, not far from "a birch swamp in a hollow, bound round with hills." To record these various allotments and divisions and other town proceedings, James Deane, the faithful town-clerk, was "engaged to provide three suitable books for the town and to make suitable alphabets to them-one book to record town acts, one for births, marriages and deaths, and one to record the laws, and also to make an alphabet for the present book." For this work, which was performed with great care and accuracy, Mr. Deane was excused from paying anything towards the meeting-house. The peace and tranquillity inaugurated by the division of the town and its orderly laying out were soon broken. An over-measurement of the Tracy land was detected, by which some forty acres were wrongly appropriated, which the town at once seized and made over to Jeremy and other Indians, who raised a fine crop of corn upon it. The Tracy heirs protested against this seizure and signified their determination to take possession of the corn when it was ready for harvest. Early in September a rumor reached Plainfield that the Norwich people were coming up to clear the Indian corn field. As it was a time of Indian alarm and disturbance, and very necessary to avoid any occasion of complaint and ill-feelings, Smith, the constable, was ordered by the town authorities to gather the corn at once and deliver it to the selectmen for the use and improvement of the Indians. Benjamin Palmer and Ebenezer Harris were employed to assist the constable and had gathered the corn into heaps ready to be carried away, when up rode a number of gay young gentlemen from Norwich-Joseph Tracy, John Waterman, William and Jabez Hide, Albert Huntington, Caleb Bushnell and others-all in high spirits and eager for affray, who at once seized the corn and began loading it into the wagons, and in reply to the constable's warning, declared that they would have it. The constable then in her Majesty's name required them to desist, but they went on gathering up the corn and when cited to appear before Major Fitch, declared "That if Major Fitch should send as many warrants as there were straws in the stubble they would take no notice of them." Constable Smith then rode away to report proceedings at head-quarters, and returned with a special writ of assistance and carried the young gentlemen before the Honorable Major, who ordered the constable to take them into custody and take them before the Governor and Council, impressing what men and horses were needed for this service. Smith with Palmer and Harris accordingly mounted their horses and rode off with the prisoners, but long before they reached Norwich the young men made their escape and galloped away. The officers pursued them to James Bushnell's tavern, where some of them "had brought up," when the constable reproved them for their riotous conduct and again summoned them to attend upon the Governor, "but they refused, mounted their horses," saucily bade the officers "good night," and ran away. This affair caused Plainfield much trouble, expense and inconvenience. Smith was arrested next day, on a charge of "illegal seizing and delivering to Benjamin Palmer, townsman, a certain parcel of Indian corn, by virtue of an unlawful writ," and after several trials before various courts was sentenced to pay £18 and costs. The General Court, upon petition of the defendant, reversed this decision, May, 1706, remitted the execution of judgment, and ordered that both parties should "bear each the charges they have expended." The Indian war of 1704 subjected Plainfield to stringent restrictions and new outlays. With other frontier towns it was "not to be deserted;" its inhabitants were forbidden to leave the place; compelled to support guard-houses and scouts, and provide equipments and ammunition. A train-band company was formed in May, with Thomas Williams for ensign, Samuel Howe for sergeant. Guards were stationed about the meeting-house on Sunday and watch-houses maintained in exposed parts of the town. Great pains were taken to propitiate the favor of the Quinebaugs, who continued as ever peaceable and friendly, notwithstanding the hazard and danger incurred when their corn was taken away from them and "the dangerous consequences that then threatened the whole country by provoking the natives to desert the place and fall off to the enemy." With all these various affairs the settlement of the minister was not neglected. Finding in April, 1704, that the committee chosen to complete the meeting-house had not proceeded in that work, "ensign Williams, Joseph Spalding and Jacob Warren were directed to carry on the same and get what debts were due the town and improve for the same." October 19, Sergeant Howe with Williams and Spalding were chosen "to order the settlement of the pulpit and where a pew shall be made and the manner of it, and also for ordering a body of seats and how they shall be made and settled." It was also voted, "To invite the Reverend Messrs. Noyes, Saltonstall and Treat to be helpful to the town in carrying on a day of humiliation and prayer," preparatory to the formation of the church and ordination of the minister. This having been accomplished on a day appointed by Mr. Noyes and the "pulpit settled on the south side of the meeting-house," the town voted December 25, 1704, "That next Wednesday-com-seven-night be appointed for ordination," and early in January, 1705, a church was gathered in Plainfield and Mr. Coit ordained as its minister. No record is preserved of church organization or covenant. Ten males constituted its original membership. Its first deacons were Jacob Warren and William Douglas. XIX. Quinebaug Land Settlement. Various Improvements. With land laid out, a church, minister and meeting-house, Plainfield was far from being settled. The loss of her western territory and the unsettled condition of her various bounds gave her great uneasiness. The original layers-out of the town had failed to complete their work, and none of its boundaries were satisfactorily determined. Though she had freely and voluntarily relinquished to Canterbury the valley south of Peagscomsuck Island, she now fell back from her agreement, and insisted upon the first grant of the General Court, making the Quinebaug the boundary between the towns. Preston encroached much farther on the south than to a certain red oak tree, which should have sufficed her. To make up these losses on the south and west, there was still vacant territory on the north and east that might be annexed to her, and to secure this became one of the chief objects of the town. April 27, 1704, being "sensible that they were in great need of enlargement, partly by Preston extending too far north and Canterbury coming upon us on the west side," the town voted to petition for enlargement-"William Marsh to go with petition and discourse with the honored governor as to enlargement and do with him as far as he can, as he may find it needful on ye town's behalf." Major Fitch was desired "to join with them concerning Preston as upon choice he did formerly with Thomas Williams." As the result of this action, the General Court, May 10, 1705, received the following petition:- "Whereas, the honorable Court has been pleased to permit ye inhabitants east of the Quinebaug to be distinct and a town by ourselves, the breadth whereof at the south end doth not exceed six miles east from said Quinebaug, if said river be continued as our west border, which we do not doubt seeing ye honorable Court has been pleased so to state it, in May, this time two years past, for we do look upon it, yt ye grants of our Hon. Court are like ye laws of the Medes and Persians, unalterable, and we dare not entertain such diminutive thoughts of our Honorable Rulers, yt they will act like children to grant a thing one Court and yn to take it away ye next (if they were able). And as for the breadth of our town at the north end it doth not exceed two and three-quarter miles, which we verily persuade ourselves this Hon. Court will not determine a sufficiency for us, whereby we may be able to bear a part to all public charges which will be needful, especially, inasmuch as it is with the Hon. Court to grant us a further enlargement without any real prejudice to any grant or plantation yt already is or may hereafter be granted; therefore beg you to grant yt our bounds may extend east to ye dividing line between Rhode Island and ys Colony, which is esteemed three miles or less from our present east bounds, and but a small part of it good for improvement, generally a barren pine land; also, pray to be enlarged three miles north, and then hope, by the blessing of God, as we are always willing so we shall be able, to maintain public charges in church and commonwealth-but if the Court think our request too much, though we are fully satisfied they would not if acquainted with our circumstances, we will leave it to your Honors to grant what they make think convenient, so as to maintain necessary charges as becomes Christians, and humbly pray that bounds east and north may be settled according to law, and Preston bounds likewise settled and bounds next to river further confirmed, and oblige your poor petitioners- Stephen Hall. Nathaniel Jewell. James Deane. Benjamin Palmer. William Marsh." No action is reported upon this petition, nor upon another the following year asking for a new survey of the Preston bound. While thus negotiating for enlargement, the town continued her distribution of present possessions. In February, 1705, a committee was appointed "to finish the laying out the divisons of meadows-i. e., five and one-fourth acres to each inhabitant, and those that have not had their part to make their pitch and present it to the committee." It was also voted, "That all the land in Plainfield without the General Field to be laid out into five equal parts-Stephen Hall, Joshua Whitney, John Smith, William Marsh and Joseph Parkhurst a committee to do it." A committee was also chosen to lay out leading ways into the General Field and a way to Canterbury. A mill had been some time in operation on Mill Brook, and a cart-bridge over it, and now the highway leading to it was turned eastward "to miss the two flows and with as much conveniency as may be, lead to the north part of Plainfield." A highway, six rods wide, was laid out from Preston line to the extent of the north bounds of the town, with two crossings at Moosup's River for public convenience. Connecting with this road was a highway through the General Field, between John Spalding's and Thomas Pierce's, and "so over the brook on the west side of Moosup's Hill to Moosup's River and so down the river." A corn-mill, set up on this river by Isaac Wheeler, in 1705 or 1706, making it needful for the town to have a common way thither, "Deacon Warren was appointed to act in that affair; where it may be most beneficial and convenient for the town and least prejudicial to any particular person." A road was laid out by the inhabitants of Moosup for their own convenience, from the north bound of the town to this mill, "beginning north side of Joseph Parkhurst's house, and thence by trees marked to the east of Isaac Shepard's house, and so east by Sergeant Howe's house, through Isaac and Ephraim Wheeler's lot to Moosup's River." The proper care and culture of the public cornfield called for frequent enactments, and in April, 1706, the town voted, "That there shall no cows, cattle or horses be suffered to go in the General Field, at liberty, from the first of April to the fourth of October, upon the penalty of sixpence a head, and if any cattle go upon the grain, the owners to pay five-pence per head to the owners of the grain as they shall be found in." As the title to the lands of Plainfield was still unsettled and fresh law-suits and contentions constantly arising, another attempt was made in 1706, to settle the unhappy differences between the Honorable Governor and Major James Fitch, and six competent gentlemen were commissioned by the General Court to repair to the place of difference and there to inform themselves of the true state of that matter, mediate between the parties and endeavor an amicable compromise; with sufficient power to search records and examine evidences-while all actions at law depending between the parties were ordered to be suspended till after this investigation, when it was hoped that the cause of these actions and suits and of all their troubles and vexations would be brought to a final issue. In accordance with these instructions, the appointed commissioners-Joseph Curtis, Esq., Rev. James Noyes, Timothy Woodbridge, Captain Abraham Fowler and Captain Matthew Allen proceeded carefully to investigate the Quinebaug land claims, examining the grants and the bounds therein specified, and taking testimony from Quinebaugs, Mohegans, Narragansets, Pequots and Nipmucks-the aged John Acquitamog, of Woodstock, testifying that he was present at the time of Winthrop's purchase, and saw the trucking-cloth, red cotton, wampum, tobacco-pipes, &c., given by the Governor to Aguntus in payment. The commissioners adjudged that Hyems' deed to Winthrop was defective. "(1.) That it is without any valuable consideration. (2.) With respect unto the uncertain quantity of land therein conveyed, having but one certain boundary, Pawtucket, and one probable bound, a fort on Egunk Hill." They found that the General Court had allowed the Governor's purchase, which had its weight; but they also found that Uncas's east bounds, as settled by the General Court's committee, take in the greatest part of the Quinebaug Country and runs to the aforesaid Falls," or Pawtucket, and that the Court had granted leave to dispose of it to Owaneco, and had confirmed his sales of land to Major Fitch and others. With what now appears the vital point of the whole controversy-the right of either Hyems or Uncas to hold or convey the land-the commissioners had no concern, and probably, as at the previous investigation, it was provided that what was done by them "should not confirme or invalidate the title of any Indian sachem." Having examined all facts that came within their instructions, the commissioners next endeavored to effect the "amicable compromise," and easily persuaded Governor Winthrop and his brother, who must have seen that their claim was not legally tenable, to renounce their right to the remaining lands at the Quinebaug to the Government of Connecticut, upon condition of receiving each a thousand acres, one in the north part of Plainfield, and the other of Canterbury township. A settlement upon this basis was assented to and concluded, October, 1706, between the Honorable Governor and the Council and Representatives in the General Court, and the usual legal instruments of quit-claim and confirmation interchanged and recorded. At the same date, upon the request of the proprietors and inhabitants of the town of Plainfield, the Assembly granted them a Patent for confirmation of the lands in their township under the seal of the Colony. This happy termination of their many conflicts and difficulties greatly rejoiced the inhabitants of Plainfield. The bounds of their town were now first laid down and accurately described by Captain John Prents, the surveyor of New London County. The Quinebaug River was made the west bound of the town, and the Preston line settled to present satisfaction. The instruments confirming this amicable settlement were received with appropriate formalities. Their old friend, the Rev. Mr. Noyes, was invited "to go to the Governor and take the deed from the Governor to the town, in the town's behalf, and to deliver the bill to his Honor the Governor upon his Honor delivering the deed to the person sent by the town." The person sent was William Marsh, who received the deed from Mr. Noyes and presented it to the town authorities. January 1, 1707, it was voted, "That the present town-committee keep the town's Patent until the town orders it otherwise;" also, "That what the town owes to Mr. Caleb Stanley, Lieutenant Hollister and the County Surveyor for laying out the town and attaining the deed of the Governor and attaining a patent-the town will take care and pay as soon as may be." This settlement, so satisfactory to the people of Plainfield, gave great offence to Major Fitch and other Quinebaug proprietors and to the inhabitants of Canterbury, who, in May, 1707, most earnestly remonstrated against "a certain pretended patent or deed of settlement of all the lands in Plainfield and part of the lands in Canterbury to a certain number of persons particularly named," which conveyance they declared to be "unjust, unequal, unreasonable and contrary to law, justice and equity:"- " 1. Contrary to the nature of granting townships, namely, to grant to particular men the whole in fee simple, thereby to exclude others coming into said towns or the impeopling the place and putting a stop to the increase and growth of the Colony. 2. Patent unjust, in that much of the land granted to your petitioners in Plainfield is comprehended in it. 3. Wrong, erroneous and very unjust, in that it includes several particular men's lands and estates, which they had bought by good purchase of Owaneco. 4. Contains lands that were in controversy. Finally, we may say that if you do not see cause to vacate said unjust and illegal deed, yt it can in no wise take away the lands of her Majesty's subjects, or those such who have a good and perfect title from a good authority under the Corporation seal, and more than twenty years passed, nor however, will it in law disable this Colony or any authority therein to try any difference about the titles, the whole Colony being bound by warrants in said patent-the land to the grantees and their heirs for ever." To this violent remonstrance from the irascible Major, was added a request from the selectmen of Canterbury that their bounds might not be altered as established in 1702-1703-wherefore, to prevent any trouble or damage to that township or other of its inhabitants, the Assembly declared "the said patent to be void," and ordered "a new patent to be granted according to usual form, if desired. Cost allowed to Canterbury contra Plainfield is £1. 1s. cash and £2. 4s. 7d. pay." Whether "desired" or not, the new patent was not made out, and Plainfield continued to hold possession of all the land east of the Quinebaug, defending herself in actions brought against her by her Canterbury neighbors and ordering a land-rate to pay the executions obtained by them, leaving it to the selectmen to draw on some persons and mitigate the rate of others "as they see cause." The land division ordered two years before was now perfected and distributed-all the land in Plainfield, exclusive of the meadows and General Field being divided into five sections, called "eighths." The first and most southernmost included John Gallup, Sen., John Smith, Ebenezer Harris, John Fellows, Peter Crary and son and Ben Adam Gallup. The second eighth-north of and adjoining the first-was taken up by Henry Stevens, Deacon William Douglas, William Gallup, Joseph Coit, Tho. Stevens, Jun., and Samuel Shepard. In the third, north of the second, were Benj. Palmer, Joshua Whitney, Nathaniel Jewell, Stephen Hall, Thomas Williams, Benjamin Spalding, Sen., Timothy Pierce and Joseph Spalding. The fourth division, abutting south on the third and north on Moosup River, comprised Thomas Stevens, Sen., James Kingsbury Ed. Yeomans, William Marsh, Jacob Warren, John Spalding, the heirs of Thomas Pierce and Edward Spalding; "while Matthias Button, Ephraim and Isaac Wheeler, Samuel Howe, James Deane, Joseph Parkhurst and John Yeomans belonged to the fifth eighth, north of Moosup," whose bounds began at the Indian Fordway and extended west to the Quinebaug. Various meadows, designated as Snake, Apple-tree and Half, were laid out in divisions of five and one-fourth acres to each proprietor. Black Hill was also laid out and distributed, with the exception of twelve acres bound over to Thomas Williams and Joshua Whitney, in security for four pounds in money lent to the town. William Green, Robert Williams and Francis Smith were allowed each a hundred acres and house-lot near Egunk Hill, they bearing their proportion of charge for maintaining an orthodox ministry and other town charges and paying the town certain specified sums of money. January 2, 1707, it was voted, "That there be forty twelve-acre divisions laid out within the General Field, which is the third twelve-acre division within said field, and also a second division of interval in sixty proportions, each man making his pitch according to his draft." Twenty acres of land were freely granted to Thomas Kingsbury, "providentially cast into Plainfield after long captivity, having lost all that he had by the enemy." Liberty was also given to Indian Thomas "to prepare three acres of land that he had already broken up," and Ephraim Warren was allowed "to enjoy his labor in getting fencing stuff in cedar swamp without molestation from the town." John Fellows was appointed "to have inspection of cedar swamps, and if any one not belonging to the town take timber or rails to seize the same and prosecute on behalf of the town." As Canterbury men continued to appropriate cedar and valley land by virtue of the original compact a committee of five men was chosen, July 8, 1707, "To consider some way which may be most beneficial to defend the town's rights or for the defence of persons orderly settled in the town." Now that Plainfield had come into full possession of her territory, she was deemed competent to bear her part of public charges. The list of estates presented in October, 1707, valued them at £1,265; her inhabitants were about fifty. John Fellows was sent as her first representative to the General Court in May, 1708. Thomas Williams was now lieutenant of her train-band; Timothy Pierce, ensign. October, 1708, her estates were valued at £1,890; her male inhabitants numbered fifty-five. Although the inhabitants of Plainfield in their first mutual agreement had charged the selectmen to take special care in the matter of schools, no public provision was made for them till December, 1707, when "part of the country land was allowed for the encouragement of a school," and Lieutenant Williams, Joseph Spalding and Deacon Douglas directed "to take care that there be one." A year later, the town voted, "To send to Mr. James Deane to see if we can agree with him to be schoolmaster," who agreed to undertake that office for half a year, "for what the county allows and what parents and masters of children shall agree with me for." Mr. Coit was married soon after his settlement to Miss Experience Wheeler, of Stonington, and continued to officiate in the pastoral office to general satisfaction. In 1708, a contribution was ordered for him above his salary, "Palmer and Button to see what each will give," and in the following year his salary was "increased to £60, in grain and provision pay as yearly stated by General Court-those paying money to have one-third abated." The care of the numerous "ways" about the town involved much charge and labor, and so many complaints were brought that, February, 1707, the town voted, "That if any person complains to the committee for want of a convenient way, the committee taking a view and finding that complaint was made without cause, the person so complaining shall pay the committee for their time." The Quinebaug and Moosup Rivers were still inimical to the peace of the town. The Shepards had control of the best crossing places and used it for their own advantage. Complaint being made that Isaac Shepard endeavored to hinder persons passing Moosup River where it was thought to be most convenient, the town appointed a committee "to see where the river might be most conveniently cros't and lay out a convenient by-way across it." Attempts were repeatedly made to bridge the "tedious" and troublesome Quinebaug. Committees were appointed to discourse with the selectmen of Canterbury concerning the best way or ways for crossing, and a bridge was actually accomplished in 1709, probably by private enterprise as no town action is reported. The increase in the yield of grain making more mills needful, James Hilliard, in 1709, received from the town several acres of land north of Moosup for his encouragement to maintain a sufficient corn-mill, "the grantee, to the best of his endeavor, to maintain a sufficiency of cornmeal for the use of the town." To protect their fields from the depredations of birds it was voted, "That they who bring black-birds' heads to any one of the selectmen shall be allowed by the town one penny a head, provided they be killed before the 15th of May; for a crow, sixpence per head." Any one that killed a rattle-snake and brought the tail with some of the flesh on it, was allowed twopence per tail. Indian Jeremy and his brother David, having killed two wolves, were each allowed ten shillings for encouragement of such work. Cattle, though not troublesome, required occasional restraint, and a pound was ordered in 1708, "in the senter of the town, near the meeting-house." A rate was levied for "the pound, stox and bords for meeting-house." Money was also given to the selectmen to buy a "book of records, a black staff and waits" for the town. A committee was chosen to discourse with those men who had served as a guard upon the Sabbath and agree with them, and John Deane, their sergeant, was allowed nine pounds of powder out of the town stock for their use. In 1710, it was voted, "That the present meeting-house be decently finished, by finishing the seats below and sealing also, and also the sealing above and making the galleries and all to be made decent and comfortable to meet in, to attend upon the public worship of God." Every householder in town was required to give to the Widow Samans "one peck of Indian corn a year in consideration for her to sweep the meeting-house; so long as she doth it, the corne to be carried to her." It was also agreed, "That the place which has been for several years improved by the inhabitants for the burial of the dead shall abide and remain for that use," and a committee was chosen "to see and appoint what quantity of land might be needful, and also to stake a convenient way for the inhabitants to go unto the same as they have occasion, and also to appoint a place for the Indians to bury their dead." This Indian Burying Ground, rendered so needful by the rapid decay of the Quinebaugs, was situated in the eastern part of the town, in a place where it is said chiefs and Sagamores and many previous generations of the tribe had been deposited. As all the available public land was now distributed, such new inhabitants as from time to time appeared purchased their farms and homesteads from previous proprietors. Daniel Lawrence settled south of Plainfield village about 1708, and became a prominent public man. Sons of proprietors, as they came to man's estate, were admitted inhabitants. In 1709, John Hutchins, Daniel Lawrence, Ephraim Fellows, Ephraim Kingsbury, Benj. Spalding, Jun., Henry Stevens, Jun., Edward Spalding, Jun., and John Hall had liberty to vote for town officers. James Deane still served as town-clerk. Thomas Williams was appointed, in 1700, a Justice of Peace for the County of New London. The representatives serving during this period were John Fellows, Thomas Williams, Joshua Whitney and John Smith. In 1711, Plainfield attained to the dignity of a full train-band, Thomas Williams being confirmed as captain, Timothy Pierce as lieutenant, and William Douglas as ensign, and a rate was ere long ordered to pay for "the cullers and to procure other necessary banners for the company." A fourth twelve-acre division was laid out in the General Field and "lots drawn for it" at a public meeting, February 7, 1710. A new committee was also chosen to act in fencing this Field, which agreed, "That all the proprietors should maintain their divisions of fence, lots not disposed of done at the town's cost." North proprietors to secure the north and northeast end against ye river from the northeast corner of our General Field to the mouth of Blackwell's Brook; Benjamin Spalding and all south of him secure to the new bridge, and that part of the fence between Robert Green's and Tracy's; proprietors south of the new bridge secure that part of the field from Major Fitch's Neck to Norwich line." The public travel through Plainfield had now become very great, so that the governments of both Connecticut and Rhode Island were constrained to provide for its better accommodation. In 1711, the General Assembly of Rhode Island ordered, "That a highway should be laid out from Providence through Providence, Warwick and West Greenwich to Plainfield." Representations were made to the General Assembly of Connecticut, that travelers from the westward to Boston and Providence met with great difficulty, and were exposed to great danger for want of a suitable country road through Plainfield, both from the centre and south parts of the town to its eastern bounds, whereupon it was enacted, October, 1712, "That the selectmen of Plainfield do take immediate care, by a jury or otherwise as the law directs, to lay out the two roads above-mentioned within their own town; and also, that the said selectmen continue the said country road or roads up to the river lying about one mile and a half to the eastward of Francis Smith's-to be done at the charge of this Government so far as it extends to the eastward of the bounds of the said town." William Marsh, John Fellows and Thomas Stevens were appointed by the town to carry out this enactment, and straitway laid out a highway from the Quinebaug River to the east bound of the town, crossing the "third eighth" and the site of Plainfield village. The land needful was given by the proprietors-Joshua Whitney, Benjamin Spalding, Nathaniel Jewell, Daniel Lawrence, John Hall and John Smith,-"in consideration that it is convenient and necessary for travelers, being the nearest and best way to and from Providence, Boston, Rhode Island, Narraganset and many other places, and convenient for town and country." "A miry slough, eastward from Daniel Lawrence's," was transformed into "a good and sufficient causeway" by the labor of some of the inhabitants. The road was laid out four rods wide and eight rods at some parts of Egunk Hill for the convenience of loaded carts. The committee continued it beyond the bounds of the town to the Moosup ford-way, where a safe and sufficient bridge was constructed at the expense of the Colony, by Miles Jordan and Francis Smith, in 1714. Rhode Island's part of this highway was completed the same year and thrown open to the public, so that communication with Providence and other large towns was very greatly facilitated. XX. Boundary Quarrels. New Meeting-House. Mortality. Though Plainfield was now apparently peaceable and thriving, with lands equally laid out and many public improvements, she had never ceased to quarrel over boundary lines and press petitions for enlargement. The laying out of the township of Killingly, in 1708, effectually precluded all further hopes of addition on the northward, though Plainfield did not submit without opposition and remonstrance and various negotiations in reference to the bounds. The point was settled by an enactment of the Assembly, October, 1709, that Plainfield's north bound "should be and remain as the same was run and settled by Captain John Prentts, surveyor." The vacant territory on the east still greatly excited the cupidity of Plainfield proprietors, and no pains were spared to secure its annexation. After their own lands were parceled out, they took possession of its commons for pasturage, and its few inhabitants were protected and cherished and allowed to participate in the privileges of the town. Petition after petition was sent to the General Court, showing that the lands were good for nothing and yet they could not live without them, but all their efforts were unavailing. With Canterbury, Plainfield maintained an incessant border warfare. That township had never submitted to the Court's decree, robbing her of a valued part of her promised territory, and continued to take her share of the hay and help herself to cedar rails according to the original compact. Plainfield appointed a committee to defend the town's rights, with power to recover rails and withstand prosecution, against which vote William Marsh, Joseph Spalding, Ebenezer Harris and James Kingsbury had the honesty and fairness to protest-"if the town intends the rails which were gotten by Canterbury," showing that they, at least, still recognized the original agreement. Plainfield assumed full jurisdiction of all the land east of the Quinebaug, laying out divisions and ordering fences at pleasure; while Canterbury retaliated by pulling down fences and carrying off hay and grain. Innumerable lawsuits were carried on between the contending parties. Samuel Adams, Obadiah Johnson, Tixhall Ensworth and Robert Green were arrested for taking from Greenwich Plain a parcel of grain, and though judged "not guilty," had to give account of grain. Gallup and Smith complained of Ensworth, also, for carrying off fence and recovered "two loads of posts and rails, with costs." The Tracys sued Thomas Brown, of Canterbury, for rail-timber, while, at a later stage in the controversy, Major Fitch, Elisha Paine, Samuel Cleveland, John Dyer, and nearly all the prominent men of Canterbury, were indicted "for stealing loads of hay," and had each to pay ten shillings to the Treasury and twenty shillings to John Smith. At length, after ten years of wrangling and confusion, the General Court, in a revision and settlement of various disputed bounds, ordered the line between Plainfield and Canterbury to be re-stated, "pursuant to the agreement of the inhabitants of the east and west sides of the town of Plainfield, made on December 24, 1702." The line was then run by John Plumb, county surveyor, in 1714-1715, a quarter of a mile east from the centre of Peagscomsuck Island, and thence in a straight line to the south bound of the town. This so-called settlement only increased the confusion and disorder, Plainfield resolutely refusing to yield her accustomed jurisdiction, and Canterbury assuming not only jurisdiction but ownership of the land accruing to her. Open war was waged by the contending townships and many acts of Border-ruffianism perpetrated on both sides. After some years of strife and litigation, Plainfield thus appealed to the General Court:- "Oct. 12, 1721. We, your poor petitioners, inhabitants and proprietors of ye town of Plainfield, humbly showeth: That, whereas, notwithstanding a supposed agreement made by part of the inhabitants of the east and west sides in respect to a dividing line between them, when this agreement came to be laid before ye Hon. Assembly for confirmation ye Hon. Court granted the [Quinebaug] River, and, whereas, the Court had not granted us any fee in our first grant, doth show as looking upon it as not to lie in them-We, your humble petitioners, did propose, at no small cost, to purchase this property of the Hon. Winthrops, who, many years before, had purchased of the natives, which purchase had been approved by King Charles of blessed memory, and then we got confirmation from the Gen. Assembly and proceeded to lay out our land, &c. But now we are sorry to be obliged to expose the makedness of our neighbors of Canterbury, which otherwise we should have covered with a mantle of love, as far as we could with a good conscience, but they, without giving any notice for the establishing of a line according to first agreement, and the General Court, not so well considering what they had done before, granted the line according to first agreement. And, whereas, our Canterbury neighbors, not sufficiently checked for their first fault as contrary to law, but too much countenanced, took encouragement, as it is the nature of sin to grow from bad to worse, and blinded the eyes of the Hon. Assembly with a most abominable falsehood-all which is greatly to our hurt, especially in the use Canterbury is making of the same, as may be evident: 1. Since the new line was fixed, Canterbury people came up in the midst of summer, when all our grain was standing, and pulled up the fence from the General Field, thus laying the field open to be destroyed by all sorts of devouring creatures to our unaccountable damage. 2. Some have come upon us in a riotous and disorderly manner when we were making hay on lands that we had honestly bought and been possessed of many years, and laid violent hands on some of us and dragged us down to New London by force, without writ or warrant, and feloniously carried away our hay that we had mowed. 3. Some have carried off our corn that we had planted and tilled for the support of ourselves and families. 4. Some have had their corn reaped and carried away, hay mown and carried away, and have not known by whom till Canterbury people have boasted of doing it under pretence of this line, so that they have to gather corn before it is ripe; all which are not fancies of the brain but real matters of fact. Further, the records of this land are in Canterbury-an intolerable hardship to be laid on ye King's subjects and not to be tolerated in a christian government. We beg the Hon. Court to help us in our distressing difficulties and establish the first grant, for these reasons:- 1. It was, upon due consideration, granted and patented to us by this Court, and thereby established to us according to law. 2. In that, according to the Court's fears, if that Canterbury doth come to the said supposed line, it will not only be hurtful but totally ruinating to our General Field, which is our greatest dependence to support our families and charges in church and state.
History of Windham County, Connecticut: Vol. 1-2
found on ancestry.com

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