The Raymond-Bradford Homestead is located on Raymond Hill Road in Montville. As it exists today, the house contains a mixture of eighteenth and nineteenth-century elements. The original part of the building was completed around 1710. The original gable roof was replaced by a hipped roof in about 1820. The original center chimney was replaced by two small brick ones circa 1870. The front door was also altered at that time to accommodate an enlarged hallway. The house was built by Mercy Sands Raymond, one of the noteworthy women of colonial Connecticut and Rhode Island. According to the History of New London County (1882), by Duane Hamilton Hurd:
Joshua Raymond, born Sept. 18, 1660, son of Joshua Raymond, married, April 29, 1683, Mercy Sands, daughter of James Sands, of Block Island. They resided at Block Island. Mr. Raymond having his business in New London, was absent from his family much of the time. The care and management of the home affairs devolved upon his wife, who was a woman of great energy and executive ability. He died at his residence on Block Island in 1704. Soon after his death she removed with her six children to the North Parish of New London, now Montville, where she with Maj. John Merritt purchased a tract of land containing about fifteen hundred acres. She built a house on a commanding site, on what has since been called “Raymond Hill.” Here with her son Joshua she lived until her death. In his will he gave to his son Joshua “the homestead at Block Island, one hundred sheep, twenty cattle, a team and cart,” also “his father’s homestead farm in the Mohegan fields.” She died at Lyme, while on a visit to her friends, May 3, 1741, aged seventy-eight years, and was buried near the stone church in that town.
It is this Mercy Raymond, whose name has been connected, by a mixture of truth and fable, with the story of the noted pirate, Captain Kidd. Mr. Raymond died in 1704, “at the home-seat of the Sands family,” which he had bought of his brother-in-law, Niles, on Block Island. It was a lonely and exposed situation, by the sea-shore, with a landing-place near, where strange sea-craft, as well as neighboring coasters, often touched. Here the family dwelt, and Mr. Raymond being much of the time absent in New London, the care and management of the homestead devolved upon his wife, who is represented as a woman of great thrift and energy.
The legendary tale is, that Capt. Kidd made her little harbor his anchorage-ground, alternately with Gardiner’s Bay; that she feasted him, supplied him with provisions, and boarded a strange lady, whom he called his wife, a considerable time; and that when he was ready to depart, he bade her hold out her apron, which she did, and he threw in handfuls of gold, jewels and other precious commodities, until it was full, as the wages of her hospitality.
This fanciful story was doubtless the development of a simple fact, that Kidd landed upon her farm, and she being solitary and unprotected, took the part of prudence, supplied him freely with what he would otherwise have taken by force, and received his money in payment for her accommodations. The Kidd story, however, became a source of pleasantry and gossip among the acquaintances of the family, and they were popularly said to have been enriched by the apron.
The house descended in the same family for generations.
Also known as the “Cassidy Saltbox” (it was once owned by John H. Cassidy), the house at 715 South Britain Road in the South Britain section of Southbury is an excellent example of an integral saltbox house. Probably built before 1735, it was the home, around 1750, of a Dr. Wheeler, South Britain‘s first physician. The house was owned by Rev. Bennett Tyler from 1807 to 1822. During that time, Rev. Tyler was pastor at the South Britain Congregational Church. He then became president of Dartmouth College.
The house at 260-268 East Main Street in Branford was built circa 1771 by Solomon Tyler. This may be the Solomon Tyler of Branford who was born in 1745 and died in 1819. He married Dorcas Fiske of Haddam in 1772.
Rev. John Wightman (1723-1781) was an itinerant Baptist minister, originally from Groton, who settled in Southington around 1770. According to Heman R. Timlow in Ecclesiastical and Other Sketches of Southington, Conn. (1875):
When Mr. Wightman came to Southington, Mr. Merriman [Southington's first resident Baptist pastor] was already nearly eighty years of age, and to this veteran Christian the presence of such a sympathizing friend and ally must have teen the occasion of great joy. It is my own impression, but I cannot support it by documentary evidence, that Mr. Wightman had occasionally supplied preaching for the Baptist families in the vicinity of Bristol and Red Stone Hill, perhaps a few weeks at a time. When he came to settle permanently, he removed to the neighborhood of Mr. Merriman on what is now the west mountain road. His house was just north of the junction of the road leading from Wolf Hill.
A uniform tradition is that he was in poor health and could endure but little exposure. But the families of his charge were few in number, and there was but little pastoral work to do. During the last year or two of his life he was confined almost wholly to his house. He died of consumption, April 4, 1781. Before his death he had succeeded in having a burying ground laid out, not far from his house, on the Wolf Hill road, and he was the first to be placed therein. The inscription upon his tombstone is as follows:
“Here lies the remains of the Rev. John Wightman, who departed this life April ye 4th A.D. 1781, in the 55th year of his age.
The servant of the lord most high
Sent with the gospel from the Sky
In dreary shades of lonesome night
To spread the grace of heavenly light.”
All the information that 1 can get concerning Mr. Wightman represents him as a devout Christian man, and of amiable traits of character. Like all his family in the eastern part of the state he was on excellent terms with the “standing order.” There is no evidence of any jar between him and Mr. Chapman who was pastor and ex-pastor of the Congregational church, while he was here. And the families of Congregationalists and Baptists were on the best of terms. There is no evidence of the least alienation until after 1780. Backus says “Mr. Wightman was a shining example of uniform piety and benevolence, until death put an end to his useful life which he ended in the most joyful manner at Farmington” (Southington.)
Rev. Wightman’s house, at 1024 Mount Vernon Road in Southington, was built around 1770 (the date he purchased the land). Since the house has Federal-style features outside but not inside, it is possible the exterior details were added later.
Built around 1785 by Moses Downs, the house at 639 South Britain Road in Southbury served for many years as the parsonage of the South Britain Congregational Church. The house has a Greek Revival door surround, added in the 1830s or 1840s.
Happy Independence Day! The Nathan Lester House & Farm Tool Museum on Long Cove and Vinegar Hill roads (153 Vinegar Hill Road) in Gales Ferry is owned by the town of Ledyard. A typical Connecticut farmhouse of the period, the Lester House was built in 1793 by Nathan Lester, whose father, Peter Lester, had originally purchased the farm. The house is also known as the Larrabee House because Hannah Gallup Lester, Nathan’s only child, married Captain Adam Larrabee. The house remained in the family until 1908, when it was bought by Dr. and Mrs. Charles B. Graves. In 1965, as a memorial to her parents, Elizabeth Graves Hill gave the house and 11 acres of land to the Town of Ledyard. This property included the Ledyard Oak, which was the second largest white oak in the country and appears on the Ledyard town seal. The tree was officially declared dead in June, 1969. A new white oak was planted near the original Ledyard Oak in 2009.
Daniel Hubbard (1697-1751) of Guilford married Thankful Stone in 1728. After her death he married his second wife, Diana Ward, in 1730. Their son, Bela Hubbard, graduated from Yale and became an Episcopalian minister, serving at Christ Church in Guilford and later at Trinity Church in New Haven. Their daughter, Diana Hubbard, married Andrew Ward. Their daughter, Roxana Ward, married Eli Foote. Their daughter, Roxana Foote, married Lyman Beecher and was the mother of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher. Daniel Hubbard‘s house, at 51-53 Broad Street in Guilford, was built in 1717. Unusually large for its time, the house has a large wing that was added in 1872.
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