The house at 105 East Pattagansett Road in East Lyme was built circa 1760 by Joseph Smith, the son of Samuel Smith, whose 1685 house survives on Plants Dam Road. During the Revolutionary War, the house was rented to Elisha Beckwith, a notorious Tory, who was known to pass intelligence to the British force based at Sag Harbor, Long Island. The British would cross Long Island Sound at night, hide their boat at Crescent Beach and leave the next day with supplies provided by Beckwith. Beckwith was likely a valuable source of information for Benedict Arnold during the raid on New London on September 6, 1781. The Connecticut Gazette of November 30, 1781 (also quoted in John Warner Barber’s Connecticut Historical Collections under the date December 6, 1781) reported that
Last Friday a guard under the command of Ensign Andrew Griswold, stationed at Lyme, discovered a whale boat in a fresh pond near Black Point; and suspecting it came from Long Island, they set a guard of five men over the boat; and the night after four others of the guard with Ensign Griswold, went towards the house of the noted Elisha Beckwith; one of the party named Noah Lester, advanced faster than the rest, and was challenged by Beckwith’s wife, who was near the house; this alarmed ten men who were in the house, well armed, and they immediately seized upon and made prisoner of Lester, and carried him into the house. Soon after the other four of the guard came to the house, (not knowing Lester was a prisoner,) and went directly in; where they discovered the ten persons in arms: a scuffle immediately ensued between them; and after some lime the guard secured six of the party, among whom was Elisha Beckwith; the other four made their escape into the woods, but they all except one were taken the next day. They came in the above boat from Long Island, and were under the command of Thomas Smith, formerly of Middletown, who had a Captain’s commission under the British King. Elisha Beckwith went off with the enemy the 6th Sept. last, when they made their descent on this place. The above culprits are secured in Norwich gaol.
After spending time in the Hartford Jail, Beckwith eventually reunited with his family in Nova Scotia in 1782.
The Capt. Simon Ray House, on Hartford Road, at the corner of Round Hill Road, in Salem was built circa 1750. From April 11, 1899 until September 30, 1905, the Ray House served as the Salem Post Office. Donald McRae was the postmaster.
A sign on the house at 337 Main Street South in Woodbury reads “Built by Zaccharias Walker 1691.” Also known as Zechariah or Zachary Walker, Rev. Zaccharias Walker led a group of religious dissidents from the church in Statford to found the town of Woodbury in 1673. He became the new town’s first Congregational minister. The house was probably built for Rev. Walker’s son, also named Zaccharias (Deacon Zachariah Walker). Born in Statford in 1670, he married Elizabeth Miner around 1689/1690, about a year before the house was built.
Built in 1754, the house at 43 Park Street in Guilford was originally home to Stephen Spencer, a blacksmith who had his forge on the south side of the house. In the 1840s and 1850s an upstairs room was rented for use as a schoolroom. In the 1870s, the south wing of the house was added by owner Daniel Auger. Elias Bates bought the house in 1894 and it remained in the Bates-Burton family for over a century.
Rev. Andrew Storrs was the second minister of the Plymouth Congregational Church. He built a house on the Green (4 Park Street), c. 1764-1766, where he lived during his pastorate of twenty years (he died in 1785). In front of the house, which once had a center chimney, is a sycamore tree that was planted by Rev. Storrs. The property also includes a large nineteenth-century barn. In 1853, Rev. Isaac Warren founded the Hart Female Seminary, which was located in the Storrs House and remained in operation until 1857. A wing, which Rev. Warren had added for the school, was later detached from the house to become a private residence (2 Park Street), serving as the Congregational parsonage after 1865. Read the rest of this entry »
Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727) was a colonial-era teacher and businesswoman. She is best known for the diary she kept of a journey from Boston to New York City in 1704 (pdf). Born in Boston, she came to Norwich in 1698 and was a storekeeper and innkeeper. Sarah Knight later returned to Boston but came back to Norwich in 1717. A two-handled silver communion cup that she gave to the Church of Christ in Norwich in 1722 is now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The tavern she operated in Norwich was built c. 1698-1717. It was enlarged by Andre Richards in 1734. A later innkeeper was Joseph Peck (1706-1776), who purchased the building from Capt. Philip Turner around 1754. As related by Mary Elizabeth Perkins in Old Houses of the Antient Town of Norwich (1895):
This inn was one of the three celebrated taverns on the Green, and some old people still remember the large old elm which stood in front of the house, among the boughs of which was built a platform or arbor, approached by a wooden walk from one of the upper windows. From this high station, the orators of the day held forth on public occasions, and here tables were set, and refreshments served.
On June 7, 1767, a notable celebration took place at Peck’s Tavern to celebrate the election of John Wilkes to Parliament. In front of the building, which is located at 8 Elm Avenue, is a cast iron fence, erected in the late nineteenth century.