Norwich Corner Marker

Norwich Corner Marker

Plaque sponsored by the Mohegan Tribe

Located off route 12, Plainfield

When the town of Norwich was founded in 1659, the boundary markers for the land were commonly referred to as the “Nine Miles Square.” According to Daniel Phillips’ History of Griswold, in 1916 the Anne Brewster Fanning Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution took it upon themselves to identify and restore the ancient Norwich N.E. corner marker located in Griswold/Plainfield. In 1734, ancient records indicated, a tall stone post was set to replace a pile of stones which earlier surveys had identified as the N.E. boundary of Norwich. Years passed, the old stone marker was left leaning over after many years of neglect. Using old town records, the ancient boundary marker was relocated. A careful comparison of the location of this stone post with the original records, revealed the unquestionable identifying marks set down both in the renewal of the bounds in 1685 and in Avery’s survey of 1734. Following restoration and relettering, the marker was permanently reset in concrete. On this site in May of 1917, members of the Anne Brewster Fanning Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution held a ceremony attended by about 100 people.

In May of this year, I talked to Erwin Goldstein, president of the Griswold Historical Society, and asked if he knew where the Norwich boundary marker was located. He said that he had seen it about 25 years ago and perhaps, with some hunting around, maybe the two of us could relocate it. We drove out of Jewett City together. We parked and followed a set of railroad tracks off Route 12 in Plainfield for quite a distance. We then cut off into a heavily wooded area. I expected the old stone post, if it still existed would be lying on the ground under the leaves after all these years. But, after searching for about 20 minutes, there it was, still standing, with the old inscription easily readable. For a couple of old historians, finding this old piece of history really made our day.

The inscription reads:

YE
ANCIENT
NORWICH
N.E. CORNER
BOUND.
1659-1917
D.A.R

The Norwichtown Green

The Norwichtown Green

Plaque sponsored by The State of Connecticut

Located at the intersection on Town Street, West Town Street, & East Town Street

In 1659 the Mohegan chief Uncas sold to settlers led by Major John Mason and the Reverend James Fitch “nine miles square,” part of which became Norwich. According to Frances M. Caulkin’s History of Norwich, “At the end of the first century… the church no longer necessary as a look-out post of the town, came down from the hill, and took its position at the corner of the Green… the place where trades, merchandise, public business, military exercises, shows, sports, festivals, and the general enterprise of the town, found a center.”

“The County Jail stood on the north side at the foot of the hill; the Court House was in the open area; the Post Office not far from the meeting house… taverns, schools, and shops alternating with private dwellings around the border.”

Opposition to British rule increased over the next few years and the residents erected Liberty Tree, “a lofty pole… decked with standards and appropriate devices… Here almost daily, people assembled to hear the news, make speeches, and encourage each other in the determinations to resist the oppression.”

Diah Manning Home

Diah Manning House

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Plaque sponsored by the Major J. D. Robertson Family

Located on 85 Town Street

Samuel Manning, born in 1723, married Anne Winship in 1746. He died in 1783 and his widow, Anne, daughter Eunice and son Diah inherited the house. Diah was born in 1760. In 1784 he married Anna Gifford, daughter of James and Susanna (Hubbard) Gifford. He and his brother, Roger, served as drummers in the Revolutionary War. In 1775 Roger was in Colonel Israel Putnam’s regiment and Diah in the 8th Regiment under Colonel Jedediah Huntington. At Valley Forge in 1778 both brothers were chosen to be in Washington’s Body Guard, Diah being designated Drum Major. Diah carried to Major Andrè his breakfast on the morning of his execution.

Diah’s family was extremely kind to a young mulatto from Haiti who was captured by the Americans. His name was Jean Pierre Boyer who became president of the Republic of Haiti and later sent a present of $400 each to the widows of Consider Sterry and Diah Manning in return for their kindness to him in his captivity.

John Mason Home Lot

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Plaque sponsored by the Gernon Trust

Located on 90 Town Street

The early life of John Mason in England (born circa 1600-01) is obscure. A Puritan, he served as an officer under Sir Thomas Fairfax, in the Netherlands against Spain. He made the 63 day passage to the Massachusetts Bay colony with Reverent Wareham’s party in 1630. One of the few experienced military men, he was elected captain at Dorchester, and eventually helped found Windsor, Connecticut, where the Connecticut River Indians had invited settlement.

In 1636, the first Pequot war began in New England, between Indians and the English. The colony had but a few hundred English inhabitants. Mason commanded a contingent of 90 soldiers, and with the principal aid of Uncas and the Mohegans, he defeated the powerful Pequot nation in 1637. Disobeying orders, he made strategic decisions of his own, which helped gain victory over a more numerous enemy. He lost 2 dead and 20 wounded. The Pequots lost hundreds. Many warriors and noncombatants alike perished when one of their forts was burned by Mason. The Pequots then retreated from Connecticut. Mason said of Uncas… “He was a great friend and great service.”

Major Mason was the chief military officer in the colony for 35 years. He was magistrate and major at Windsor for 8 years. He married his second wife, Anne Peck, after the death of his first wife, and he had altogether 8 children. A son, John Jr., was mortally wounded in King Philip’s War (another English/Indian struggle) in 1675. For the next 12 years he was placed in charge of a fort in Saybrook. In 1660, with his son-in-law, the Rev. James Fitch, he founded Norwich. During the first eight years, he was made deputy governor while Gov. Winthrop was in England seeking Connecticut’s charter form King Charles. He died January 30, 1672.

Meeting House Rocks

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Located on West Town Street

The rocky ledge west of the Norwichtown Congregational Church was the site in 1675 of the second meeting house in Norwich. The place served a three-fold purpose as a place of worship, as a watchtower against the Indians, and as a garrison post. It is now a site for outdoor worship by the First Congregational Church.

Meeting House Rocks

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Bradford-Huntington Home

Bradford-Huntington Home

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Located on 16 Huntington Lane

Thought to be Norwich’s oldest house, this house is one of the three remaining structures built by a founder. It was built in different sections at various periods. In 1691 Simon Huntington Jr., purchased the land and “new dwelling house.” Additions to the house were attributed to him. In 1719 Simon’s son, Joshua, obtained the homestead. The heavy, plain, box cornice, the attic over hang, and the pediments over the end windows are all primitive features of the 1719 addition.

The broad rear ell along Huntington Lane was built by Joshua’s son, General Jabez Huntington, a wealthy West Indian trader who came into possession of the property in 1745. He installed much of the fine paneling. Some of the shutters have heart-shaped openings, and the double door on the ell is studded with nails in diamond patters. The interior hardware is notable. Leaden sash weights from this old house were cast into bullets during the Revolution.

General Jabez Huntington was born in 1719. After graduating from college in 1741 he entered into commercial life in Norwich, added largely to his father’s ample fortune, and at the beginning of the Revolution, owned a large number of vessels engaged in foreign trade. Though fully aware of the risk in his business, he was an ardent participant in the War of Independence. He gave largely of his fortune for the cause.

General Jedediah Huntington was one of their sons, born August 4, 1743. In 1741-2 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Tracy) Backus. She died in 1745. He then married Hannah, daughter of the Reverend Ebenezer Williams of Pomfret.

According to Crofut’s Guide to Historic Sites, George Washington spent the night of April 8, 1775 at this house. Lafayette is said to have been entertained here during some of visits to Norwich.

Christopher Huntington, Jr., Home

Christopher Huntington Jr

Located on 410 Washington Street

Located on 410 Washington Street

Christopher Huntington, 2nd, or Deacon Christopher as he was frequently referred to, was born November 1, 1660, and was the first male child born in Norwich. He was the son for Christopher and Ruth (Rockwell) Huntington. In 1681 he married Sarah, daughter of Thomas Adgate. She died in 1705-06 and he then married Mrs. Judith (Stevens) Brewster, the widow of Jonathan Brewster.

Christopher was a deputy and frequently chosen as a townsman. He served as town clerk, succeeding Richard Bushnell from 1698 to 1702. He was an expert surveyor and frequently settled questions of boundary. He was appointed a deacon in 1695-6.

He had a total of eleven children. He died in 1735 and the property was inherited by sons, John and Jeremiah. John subsequently deeded his portion of the properties to Jeremiah and when he left Norwich, he sold the property to Samuel Avery.

Leffingwell Inn

Thomas Leffingwell, and in 1701 he was given permission to open an inn.

Plaque by Mr. Thomas Leffingwell Pulling

Located on 348 Washington Street

Once upon a time in Norwich, there was a two-room building owned by the Stephen Backus family in 1675. It later passed to Thomas Leffingwell, the son of Lt. Thomas Leffingwell, and in 1701 he was given permission to open an inn. There followed two major additions to the original building to provide space for that use.

Thomas’s son, Benajah, succeeded his father as an innkeeper and, in turn, Benajah’s son, Christopher Leffingwell, continued in that business. Christopher Leffingwell, Norwich industrialist, entrepreneur, merchant and patriot distinguished himself for his contribution of provisions to the success of the American Revolution. En route to Providence during the war, General George Washington dined at the Leffingwell Inn and met with patriots from the region.

It was moved to the present location at 348 Washington Street

The Leffingwell Inn originally was located at the corner of Harland Road and Washington Street. In 1957 it was doomed for demolition to make way for the new Connecticut Turnpike connector. Fortunately, Philip A. Johnson, President of the Society of the Founders of Norwich, with the help of then Govener Abraham Ribicoff and State Highway Commissioner Newman E. Argraves, made possible its purchase by the State Highway Department. It was then deeded to the Society of the Founders of Norwich with the provision that the Society maintain the Inn as a historic site. At a cost of $100,000, it was moved to the present location at 348 Washington Street, where it is regularly opened to the public as one of New England’s finest examples of colonial architecture and furnishings.