Posted on 08/23/2013

Photo taken on August 23, 2013



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Buildings and Roads

Buildings and Roads
There's always a story. The roads need the buildings for destinations, the buildings need the roads to stay alive. They both are empty without people, without stories.

This is a view of what was. What is there still. Across the way, just to the right of the spire, the mineral springs. Stafford Springs. John Adams, future President, traveled to the Iron and Sulphur springs in 1771. A trolly line connected Stafford to Rockville and Hartford. A rail line from Norwich brought New Yorkers to the springs in the late 1800s. The Guilded Age. The railroad started buying the right of way up the Willimantic River valley in the 1840s or so. The rail line today serves Canada. This is the main freight line from Montreal to New London during the winter.

From Barber's Connecticut Historical Collections:

“The mineral springs in Stafford have justly acquired considerable celebrity. They are situated upon a stage road, between Hartford and Boston, six miles from Tolland court house, and 24 miles from Hartford. … The principal spring… rises…, on the banks of a stream, one of the branches of the Willimantic river. There is another spring a few rods westward.” (Barber, 556)
“The Indians first made the settlers acquainted with the virtues of these springs, when, in the year 1719, this part of the country began to be settled. " It has been their practice, time immemorial, to resort to them in the warm season, and plant their wigwams round them. They recommended the water as an eye water; but gave, as their own particular reason for drinking it, that it enlivened their spirits." (Barber, 556)

“There are two distinct springs, the medical qualities of which are considered as essentially different. one of them contains a solution of iron, sustained by carbonic acid gas, a portion of marine salt, some earthly sub-stances, and what has been called natron, or a native alkili. …The other spring, … contains… a large portion of hydrogen gas, of sulphur, and a small proportion of iron.”(Barber, 556)

A bit earlier in the life of the springs, before the buildings, this way down the hill, turned right and joined up with a path that crossed a ford over Furnace Brook and on to another ford over the Willimantic River to the mineral Springs.

Later, the intent by the English to settle and put up buildings found this:

At a meeting of the Governour and Council in New
London, February the I9th, 1716/7.

The Governour signified, that he had been informed that some persons, pretending authority from tlie General Court, had been laying out a township east of Enfield and north of Tolland, and south of the Colony line, bringing on inhabitants, selling lots to them, and proceeding therei notwithstanding the said land had never been granted by the General Assembly to any person for the use of a town, or any other use ; and produced a letter to the purpose aforesaid from Roger
AVooUcot, Esqrs one of the assistants, in his own name and with the concurrence of William Pittkin, Joseph Tallcot, and Mathew Allin, Esqrs, assistants : For the preventing of which proceedings, and such mischiefs as may arise therefrom. Resolved, that a proclamation be issued out and published forthwith in those parts, signifying that such proceedings are without the privity of the government; that the land is still in the grant of the government ; and that orders are given out for the apprehending of all persons, who, in pursuance of such evil designs, shall commit any trespass thereon.* (CGA 586)

* The township was what is now Stafford ; Major Fitch claimed the land by an Indian title. A printed copy of the Governor's proclamation is in Crimes ^ Misdemeanors, II. 129; It was answered by a counter proclamation from Major Fitch, in which he says, " As to a kind of a proclamation lately come forth from the Honourable Governour and Council, in February last, I had thought to have taken it to pieces, and I think I could have done it and cut it in as many pieces as the protestant did the popish wooden god," and ends, " God save the King, and the Colony of Connecticut
from self defining and self seeking men." An information was exhibited against Mr. Fitch in the General Assembly, in May, 1717; he made a written acknowledgment that he had acted indiscreetly and disrespectfully to his Honor the Governor, asked pardon and promised better behavior, whereupon he was discharged, though the Upper House wished to punish him. (CGA, 586)

The last parcel of land deeded to Major Fitch was granted a patent following the major's death, one of the patent holders was Major Fitch's oldest son. One might speculate, did the General Court (i.e. General Assembly) include the Major's son as a precaution? In land speculation, it seems to be, possession, location, location, location.

Barber, John Warner, Connecticut Historical Collections, New Haven, 1836

Connecticut General Assembly, The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, Vol. IV. From October, 1710 to October 1716, Hartford 1870