The community of Gales Ferry in Ledyard was served for generations by a one-room schoolhouse. The surviving school building, erected in 1868, is the third to have stood on the same site (4 Hurlbutt Road) since 1750. It was used as a school until a new two-room building (now the Gales Ferry Community Center) was opened in January 1929. The former Gales Ferry School House was later restored by the Ledyard Historical Society.
Much altered over the years, the house at 20 Hurlbutt Road in Gales Ferry Village in Ledyard was built in 1848 by Ralph Arthur, who soon sold it to Henry Comstock (1811-1854). A whaling captain, Comstock departed on the Louisa Beaton in 1853 on what would be his final voyage. He died of “African fever” at Ascension Island on March 23, 1854.
The building at 6 Hurlbutt Road in the Gales Ferry section of Ledyard was erected in 1857 as the Gales Ferry Methodist Church. The church was established in 1803 and their first church building was a structure that had been moved to the site in 1815. This was replaced by the 1857 church, to which an addition was built on the rear in 1954 that doubled the size of the building. The church moved to a new building in the mid-1960s and in 1969 the old church was purchased by Church & Allen Funeral Service. After being on the market for several years the building was converted to retail use in 2011. Next door is the former church parsonage built in 1928.
The house at 36 Hurlbutt Road in Gales Ferry, Ledyard, was built in 1912 for John J. Lawless, a lawyer and military veteran. Active in New London, Lawless apparently had homes in both Ledyard and the Quaker Hill section of Waterford, his home town. As related in the Gales Ferry news section of the Norwich Bulletin of Saturday, July 10, 1915:
Mr. and Mrs. John J. Lawless entertained Monday Mrs. Carlos Chapman of Groton, Mrs. D. J. Cavanaugh, the Misses Beaudry and Earle Wooten of New London. In the evening Ernestine Talbot, Mrs. Lawless’ young daughter, entertained her young schoolmates and some friends with fireworks and light refreshments on the lawn.
They were celebrating Independence Day on July 5 (no doubt because July 4 that year was a Sunday). A description of the career of John J. Lawless can be found in A Modern History of New London County, Vol. II (1922), edited by Benjamin Tinkham Marshall:
John J. Lawless was born at Vinal Haven, Maine, May 17, 1876. He received the preliminary portion of his education in the public schools of New London, having been brought to this city when very young by his parents. After graduating from the New London High School, during which time his attention had been turned forcibly to the legal profession, he decided to make it his career in life and, accordingly, prepared for college at Mystic Valley Institute, graduating from this institution in 1901 and subsequently matriculating at the Albany Law School, from which he won the degree of Bachelor of Laws in the class of 1903. Returning to New London, he entered the law office of Abel P. Tanner, where he remained until 1904, when, after passing his bar examinations, he established himself in the practice of his chosen profession which has proven extraordinarily successful, having grown extensively up to the present time.
Major Lawless has always been interested in military life, and during the Spanish-American War enlisted as a private in Company A, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, being later commissioned a second lieutenant. After the war he was commissioned captain of the Third Regiment, and held this post for many years. The World War offered him another opportunity and this he was quick and eager to grasp. Successfully passing the examinations for major at Fort H. G. Wright, New York, he was sent to Plattsburg, where he was assigned to the 9th Company of the New England Training Division, and was mustered out of service July 15, 1919. Major Lawless is now a member of the American Legion, and is also past commander of the George M. Cole Camp, United Spanish War Veterans.
[. . .]
Respected as he is both in New London and his home town, Waterford, his advance can have known no deviation from the strictest probity and the most up-right methods. Such a record is certainly worthy of emulation.
Major Lawless married, July 5, 1910, Alice Wilbur Talbot, daughter of George L. and Emma Wilbur Talbot, of Putnam, Connecticut.
The house at 24 Hurlbutt Road in Gales Ferry, Ledyard was built in 1845 by Stephen Perkins, a whaling master, on land he had acquired in 1844 from Ralph Hurlbutt. Perkins owned the house until 1859, after which it had a series of owners who rented the house to different tenants until it was purchased by Warren Stoddard, son of Charles H. Stoddard, in 1898. In the 1860s and 1870s the house was rented by Capt. Gurdon L. Allyn (1799-1891), who wrote the book The Old Sailor’s Story (1879) about his many whaling and sealing voyages. As related in the History of the Town of Ledyard, 1650-1900 (1901), by John Avery:
In May, 1861, Capt. Allyn obtained a commission as acting master and coast pilot in the United States Navy, and received an order in June, from Com. Dupont, to report for duty on the United States frigate, “Saint Lawrence.” He was a participant in the famous Merrimac and Monitor engagement at Hampton Roads, in March, 1862. He had an honorable career in the navy, and in due time was discharged on account of his age. His salary while in the service, and the prize-money and pension, which he afterwards received, were a great help to him in his declining years.
Gurdon’s son, Gurdon F. Allyn, became a farmer and auctioneer in Salem.
The house at 52 Hurlbutt Road in the village of Gales Ferry in Ledyard was probably built around 1827 by William Browning, who acquired the land that year from his father-in-law, Jabez Averill (Browning married Eliza A. Averill in 1826). In 1822 Browning had purchased the nearby Thames River ferry, which he operated until 1856. He also had a store on the Upper Wharf. He sold the house to Simeon A. Bailey in 1843. Bailey’s second wife, Esther Bailey, sold land in the rear of the property to the Norwich & Worcester Railroad in 1898. Frederick Moulton purchased the house from the bankrupt railroad in 1942. The rear ell of the house was significantly altered in the 1960s with the addition of dormers and a porch.