The Town of Colchester

part 1

Blue Gray Line

(house2.jpg) Foote Family Homestead -Neidle (ca 1785) on Broadway
     The town of Colchester was envisioned by a group of men from Wethersfield who, in 1698, obtained authority from the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut in Hartford to lay out a new plantation in a large tract of virgin wilderness at or near a place called Jeremy's Farm on the road to New London.  Nathaniel Foote of Colchester in the County of Essex, England had emigrated to the Colony of Connecticut earlier in the 17th Century.  His grandson, Nathaniel Foote, obtained a deed to the land in question from Owaneco, Sachem of the Mohegan Indians.  One account maintains that a red coat, 25 silver buttons, and some rum had something to do with the harmony of the transaction.  Foote was probably responsible for having the settlement called "Colchester." Originally included in the County of Hartford, it was much later transferred to the County of New London.
            A settlement could not function as a town until a minister
         had been settled on a yearly basis and a parish had been
         organized.  In 1703 Colchester received this authority when
         the General Court organized a church body here.  A minister
         had been one of the original settlers named in the charter
         issued in 1698.
            Until 1703, the land had been held in common by the
         settlers.  Now a town "Measurer" was appointed to measure
         and allot land to entitled persons.  Several grist mills and
         saw mills to provide grain and lumber were built in the next
         few years beside dams built in the streams.
            In the early days of the colonization of the New World
         there was no separation of church and state.  The state, by
         means of the General Court, organized a parish (or church)
         in a town.  The church controlled the citizenship of the towns-
         people since no one could vote who was not a person in good
         standing and a member of the church.  When a resident had
         fulfilled all requirements, he was voted to become a "freeman"
         and was entitled to the privileges of citizenship.
            The first minister was the Reverend John Bulkeley.  His
         first church or "meeting house", of crude construction, was
         built in 1706 on the first street to be laid out, called Town
         Street.  This street, nearly 200 feet wide, is now the southern
         end of Old Hebron Road.  A new church was built in 1714
         near the present Federated Church.  By this time, there were
         50 families in town.  The settlement progressed rapidly until,
         in 1725, the population had expanded over the town's farthest
            Attendance at church was very important and those people
         living at a considerable distance found it impossible at certain
         times of the year to get to the services in the center.  Conse-
         quently, in the years that followed, the General Court organized
         three more ecclesiastical societies in Colchester, namely New
         Salem in 1725, Westchester in 1728, and Marlborough in 1747.
         In time, two of these parishes, Salem and Marlborough, sep-
         arated from Colchester to become towns.  Westchester Parish
         remained part of Colchester.  Thus, on two occasions, the
         original area of the town was considerably reduced.
            The children were first educated in the principles of
         their religion and were catechised at least once a week by
         the Selectmen.  Years later, one-room district schools were
         built, as many as 16 at one period.  The first district school
         was the center school south of the church.  There was no
         institution of higher learning at this time.
            A local farmer and slave holder, Pierpont Bacon, at the
         point of death and having no one to whom he wished to
         leave his wealth, was persuaded to perpetuate his memory by
         having a school, bearing his name, built near the church.
         The old district school was removed to a spot behind the
         Third Congregational Church, built in ~ to replace the
         one built in 1714.  (This church was said to have greatly
         resembled the Old S9ut~Church of Boston.  The present
         church was built in ~Bacon Academy was built on
         the site of the first distnct school in 1803.  Bacon's will
         provided that his estate (over $35,000) be used to build a
         school for instruction in all branches of learning, free of
         charge, to all the children of the town.  The construction
         of the Academy cost a little over $7,000.
            The Academy became a celebrated secondary educational
         institution, second to none in New England. Pupils came from
         nearly every state in the union.  By 1830, other academies
         having been built in the nation, Bacon Academy suffered a
         loss in tuition pupils and its efficiency declined.  Many men
         and women, prominent in all walks of life, have been faith-
         fully and successfully educated at the old school.
            Among the men of national reputation who graduated
         from Bacon Academy were Steven Austin, first graduate, who,
         with Sam Houston, was considered a founder of an independ-
         ent Texas; William Buckingham and Morgan Bulkeley, gov-
         ernors of Connecticut; Lyman Trumbull, governor of Illinois
         and intimate friend of Abraham Lincoln; Edwin Morgan,
         governor of New York; William Larrabee, governor of Iowa;
         Morrison Waite, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court;
         Issac Crary, founder of the University of Michigan; James
         Champlin, president of Colby College; John T. Swift, professor
         at the University of Tokyo, Japan; Eliphalet Bulkeley, first

Another House on Broadway
(house1.jpg) Lyman Trumbull's birthplace, Gov of Illinois and friend of Abraham Lincoln.(ca 1790)

Buildings on Norwich Avenue

See also:
Colchester Cemetery 302-1 (recorded 1934)(Old Burying Ground) = colcem1a.htm
Colchester Cemetery (Old Burying Ground) (Bulkeley visit) = colchest.htm
Colchester Cemetery
Colchester Records of birth, death, marriage = colcrec1.htm
Colchester Town History page 2 = coltown2.htm

Blue Gray Line
Rod Bigelow

8 Prospect Circle
Massena, N.Y. 13662 Rod Bigelow at SLIC 
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