The Byles Homestead is an early eighteenth-century house at 125 Ashford Center Road in Ashford. It stands on part of what had been the 226 acre farm bought by Josias (or Josiah) Byles in 1726 (or 1718). Josias Byles (c.1682-1752) was a Boston shopkeeper who is buried in that city’s Granary Burying Ground. His half-brother, Rev. Mather Byles (1706-1788) was a famously witty clergyman, author and poet who was a loyalist during the Revolutionary War. Josias’ son, Ebenezer Byles (1723-1805), settled on his father’s property in Ashford in 1743. The Byles Homestead passed to Ebenezer’s son Josias, then to his grandson Elisha and then to his great-grandson Andrew H. Byles. As related in Genealogical and Biographical Record of New London County, Connecticut (1905):
Deacon Andrew Huntington Byles was born Oct. 3, 1820, on the old home farm in Ashford, which is located on the turnpike between Ashford Centre and Warrenville. He was brought up to a very practical knowledge of farm work, which, however, in his younger days did not appeal to him, as he had a great desire to enter the medical profession. This boon was denied him as his assistance was needed by his father at home. His education was acquired in the common schools, and for several years he taught school in Ashford and surrounding towns. The old farm continued to be his home, and he assisted very materially in its management until after the death of his father, when it became his by inheritance. He resided there until 1888, when he removed to Willimantic and made that city his home until his death May 17, 1894.
Today, 69 acres of the Byles family’s old property is the Josias Byles Sanctuary, given to Joshua’s Trust in 1988. The Byles House is now a bed and breakfast called Henrietta House. The sign for Henrietta House gives a date of circa 1722, around which time the oldest sections of the residence were built.
The house at 101 State Street in Guilford was built in 1730 for Jabez Benton (1680-1756) and his wife Hannah Stone (1702-1773). They were married in 1726 and had seven children. In 1853 George Walter Hinckley, who would become a teacher and a minister, was born in the house. In 1889 he founded a farm school for homeless children in Fairfield, Maine called Good Will Farm. By the time Hinckley died in 1950, the school had a campus of 3,000 acres with 45 buildings and served more than 3,000 underprivileged and troubled youth.
The house at 1 Church Street in Roxbury was built in 1784 by Gen. Ephraim Hinman (1753-1829), a Revolutionary War veteran, merchant and prominent leader in the Connecticut Militia. Gen. Hinman also served in the state legislature and spearheaded the incorporation of the Town of Roxbury in 1796. He was born in Southbury and, as described in William Cothren’s History of Ancient Woodbury (1854):
Gen. Hinman removed to Roxbury about the year 1784, and built a house in the center of the village, which for a country residence at that period, was regarded as belonging to the first class. For about thirty years he was engaged in mercantile pursuits. During this time he became an extensive landholder, having in his possession at one time, about one thousand acres. He was not a practical farmer. but his love of real estate induced him to retain it, until the interest he paid, connected with losses he sustained, greatly embarrassed him in his declining years, and thus operated disastrously on the pecuniary interests of his son, who became involved in attempting to relieve his father.
The house at 38 Prospect Place in Bristol was erected around 1890 for Carlyle Barnes, son of Bristol industrialist Wallace Barnes. In 1857 Wallace Barnes started a company that manufactured springs and hoops for skirts. After his father’s death in 1893, Carlyle Fuller Barnes (1852-1926) and his four brothers saved the company during rough financial times by switching to the manufacture of wheels and other parts for bicycles. The company would eventually develop into the Barnes Group, a leading industrial and aerospace manufacturer. In 1942 the house was converted to become Grace Baptist Church. After the church moved into a new building in 1957, the house again became a private residence.
The house at 99 Main Street in the Warehouse Point section of East Windsor was built c. 1810-1830. According to the 1869 Baker & Tilden atlas of Hartford County, the house at that time belonged to B. Sexton. Bezaleel Sexton (1811-1891) was president of the East Windsor Woolen Company. In 1860 he had a patent for “Improvement in Machinery for Drying Cloth.” In 1836 he married Elizabeth Phelps. Their son, Thomas Bezaleel Sexton, Trinity College Class of 1860, later owned a ranch in Sonora, Mexico.
Built in 1800, the Federal-style cape house at 111 Moodus Road in Middle Haddam was constructed (literally) by a shipbuilder, Abel Shepard, and his son, Abel Shepard, Jr. In 1804, father Abel sold it to son Abel, who moved to Cleveland, Ohio five years later. A later owner of the house was Patrick Daly, an Irish immigrant, who much altered the house in 1870, reinforcing the foundation with concrete, changing the roofline and adding the two dormer windows on the front facade.