Built c. 1790, the house at 67 Moodus Road in Middle Haddam was originally the home of Captain Ralph Smith (1761-1838), a retired sea captain who became a farmer and owned a gristmill, sawmill and distillery on a stream near his home. His children sold the house to Daniel McLean (1818-1877), a steamship steward, in 1867. Born in Bristol, Rhode Island, McLean had been a customs officer at New Orleans. Dr. George Lawson, who married McLean’s daughter Ida Louise in 1897, had his medical office in the house in the early years of the twentieth century. He used a room off the front parlor as his pharmacy. An interesting news item mentioning Dr. Lawson (“Sick Man Well Enough to Escape from Sheriff”) appeared in The Day on September 8, 1909:
Owing to the dilatory measures employed by the officers of the law, Henry Smith, the suspected murderer of his brother, William Smith, escaped yesterday afternoon from his home at Haddam Neck, shortly before the arrival of Sheriff Davis to arrest Smith. The suspected man said on Monday night, when he got a visit from the sheriff, that he was ill from malaria and the sheriff left him without making an arrest or leaving a man on guard.
Dr. G. N. Lawson of Middle Haddam was called by Smith yesterday afternoon and he arrived at the house about 1 o’clock. The man escaped between the time of the doctor’s call and that of the sheriff, which was about 5 p. m.
The house’s original hip roof and Federal detailing have since been removed.
John Stewart and his son Henry L. Stewart were a storekeepers and shipbuilders in Middle Haddam. After John’s death in 1860, Henry erected a brick Gothic Revival house at 94 Moodus Road and turned to farming. the house took five years to build (1860-1865) because local builders were serving in the Civil War.
Various construction dates can be found for the house at 19 Long Hill Road in Middle Haddam (in the Town of East Hampton). In the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Middle Haddam Historic District, it is listed as the Benjamin Clark House, built in 1827. Clark sold the property a few years later. Steamboat captain Heman H. Crosby lived in the house in the second half of the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century it became the home of Raymond Peck, an engineer at Pratt & Whitney, and his wife, Helen Bates Peck. After her husband’s death in 1969, Helen Peck (1909-2008) continued to reside in Middle Haddam. According to her obituary in the Hartford Courant she was an active volunteer and a historic resource who was instrumental in Middle Haddam being listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In her later years, Peck was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. A 2003 article in the Hartford Courant (“Neighbors Stir Up A Probate Debate,” by Gregory Seay, May 17, 2003) describes issues that some neighbors had with renovations made to the property (called Mulberry Farm) by Peck’s court-appointed conservator. The article describes the house as being 155 years old (giving it a date of 1848). The sign in front of the house reads: “Mulberry Farm Circa 1841 Helen B. Peck.”
Dr. Charles L. Smith built the house at 9 Long Hill Road in Middle Haddam (in East Hampton) in 1829, replacing a smaller house that stood on the site. In 1854 the house was purchased by Sophie Gardner, whose husband Edward C. Gardner was the first captain of the clipper ship Comet. Built in 1851 by William H. Webb in New York, the Comet was an extreme clipper, a very fast sailing ship that under Captain Gardner’s command gained a high reputation for speed. In February to May 1853, she raced the Flying Dutchman, another clipper built by Webb, from San Francisco to New York, beating her by 30 hours in a time of 83 days and 18 hours. She made a record time in December 1853 to March 1854, sailing from San Francisco to New York in 76 days 7 hours anchor to anchor (76 days pilot to pilot). She later sailed from Liverpool to Hong Kong, arriving there in 4 days 16 hours anchor to anchor (83 days 21 hours pilot to pilot) on September 9, 1854, another record time. Her best days run on that voyage was 350 miles. E. C. Gardner was captain of the Comet until August 1855. Gardner descendants owned the house in Middle Haddam until 1928, using it as a summer home called “Lawn View.” The Federal-style brick house was altered in the mid-nineteenth century, when an ell was constructed.
William Barton founded East Hampton’s famous bell manufacturing industry in 1808. Bell making was passed to his son Hiram and then to his grandson William E. Barton (c. 1830-1895), who manufactured sleigh bells. William E. Barton initially made bells at his father’s foundry, but after a fire in 1874 he moved to a nearby foundry built by the Union Bell Company. His company was sold and reorganized in 1881 as the Barton Bell Company. He married Harriet Watrous in 1853 and their son Abner Watrous Barton was part owner of the Barton Bell Company. William E. Barton patented several innovative designs for sleigh bells and bell straps. His originality is also reflected in the distinctive design of his house, built in 1855 and located at 30 Skinner Street in East Hampton. The house was acquired by N.N. Hill in 1892 and was owned by the N.N. Hill Brass Company until 1950.
The oldest section of the building at 22 Knowles Road at Knowles Landing in Middle Haddam is possibly a house built on the site c. 1732-1735 by Jonathan Yeoman. For ten years (1735-1745), Yeoman ran a ferry across the Connecticut River. In 1747 the ferry licence was granted to Capt. Cornelius Knowles, for whom Knowles Landing is named. Jeremiah Taylor bought the Yeoman property in 1804, remodeling and expanding it in 1805 to serve as a tavern with a second-floor ballroom spanning the length of the building. The original one-and-a-half story, gambrel-roofed house became a two-and-a-half gable roofed structure. Taylor owned the building until 1826. The Italianate side veranda is a later addition. Jeremiah Taylor’s son, James Brainerd Taylor, was a minister during the Second Great Awakening whose life was a frequently used example of evangelical Protestant spirituality.
In 1865, Horatio H. Abbe (1829-1902) of East Hampton built the Greek Revival-style north section of the house at 15 Main Street. The following year, Abbe was one of the founders of the Gong Bell Company, which manufactured bell toys and other metal toys. Around 1871, reflecting his growing prosperity, Abbe added the Italianate-style south section of the house, which includes a tower and veranda. As related in an obituary of Abbe that appeared in The Iron Age (Vol. LXX, September 11, 1902), Abbe was born in Enfield.
He was married January 26, 1853, to Miss Laura A. Hayes. After engaging in business with a brother he went to East Hampton July 31, 1862, beginning his business life there as a machinist in the employ of Markham & Strong.
January 1, 1866, he, with E. C. Barton, Ezra G. Cone and A. H. Conklin, formed the partnership of the Gong Bell Mfg. Company for the manufacture of the Abbe Gong Door Bell, of which Mr. Abbe was the inventor. This business relationship continued harmoniously and without a break for 33 years, or until the death of Ezra G. Cone, in 1898, when a joint stock company were incorporated, of which Mr. Abbe became the president and Mr. Conkiin secretary and treasurer.
Mr. Abbe was widely known in Masonic circles, of which he was a thirty-second degree member, he being prominently connected with a number of lodges and commanderies. The funeral services were held at his late residence, the interment being at Enfield, Conn.
Mr. Abbe is mourned by those who were intimately associated with him as an honored citizen and one whose generosity, loyalty and genial ways endeared him to a Iarge circle of friends and acquaintances.