Archive for May, 2011

Memorial Day 2011 State Soldiers’ Home in Rocky Hill

May 30, 2011

This article is republished from Connecticut Monuments web site featuring Connecticut History in Granite and Bronze. The original post is here. (Click on all photos to enlgarge)

Returned Soldier Monument- Rocky Hill Veterans’ Home

Returned Soldier Monument, Rocky Hill

An 1867 marble statue depicting a Civil War cavalry officer being greeted by a young girl stands outside Connecticut’s home for veterans in Rocky Hill.

The statue was originally located in Darien at the state’s first veterans’ facility, Fitch’s Home for Soldiers and Orphans. That facility was founded by Benjamin Fitch, a wealthy dry goods merchant, who helped raise a regiment and promised its members he would care for wounded veterans and their orphaned children.

Fitch’s home became a state facility, and the population ebbed and flowed between the Civil War and the World War I before peaking at more than 1,000 soldiers during the Great Depression.

Recognizing the need for a bigger facility, the state opened the Rocky Hill home for veterans. The vets who moved to Rocky Hill included a 97-year-old Civil War veteran.

Returned Soldier Monument, Rocky Hill

In 1950, the Returned Soldier statue was moved from the former Fitch Home site to Spring Grove Cemetery, the site of a memorial flagpole we visited in March. More than 2,100 vets are buried at Spring Grove, the first veterans’ cemetery in the state.

In 1985, the statue was moved to Rocky Hill, restored and placed on its granite base.

The statue was sculpted by Larkin Goldsmith Mead, a New Hampshire native who moved to Italy. Some of his other public works include the statues on Abraham Lincoln’s tomb in Springfield, Ill.

On Veterans Day, we thank the men and women (and their families) who have  served our country.

Returned Soldier Monument, Rocky Hill

Returned Soldier Monument, Rocky Hill

Sources: Connecticut Historical Society: Civil War Monuments of Connecticut

History of Connecticut Veterans’ Home

Convicted Witch, Alse Young of Windsor Hanged May 26, 1647

May 26, 2011

Salem Witch Hanging

Alse (or Alice) Young of Windsor CT, born c 1600. was the first person known to have been executed for witchcraft in the thirteen American colonies. Her crime was reportedly nothing more serious than preparing herbal remedies for neighbors. This event marked  the start of the terrible saga of persecution, torture, and death culminating in the Salem trails 45 years later. Young was hanged May 26, 1647 in the meetinghouse square in Hartford, the site of the present Old State House.

The next year (1648) Massachusetts employed witch finders who were trained to ferret out supposed witches. These ruthless men were adept at prying  confessions out of their victims after examining them for suspicious witch marks such as the notorious dead nip *…and probing them with witch pins **.

The Connecticut State Library notes; “Twenty people were accused of witchcraft in Connecticut during the seventeenth century, thirteen in the Hartford witchcraft outbreak of 1662-1663 and seven during the Fairfield outbreak of 1692-1693. Seven of those were tried and four were executed. The Samuel Wyllys Papers at the Connecticut State Library contains documents from these trials. The Matthew Grant Diary established the identity of the first person executed as a witch in New England.”

Is there history of witches accused in Rocky Hill? You will recall that during these times, and until 1843, Rocky Hill was a part of Wethersfield known as Stepney Parish. The year after Alse Young’s execution Mary Johnson of Wethersfield was convicted and likely hanged. In 1651 John and Joan Carrington of Wethersfield were found guilty and executed. In other cases from Wethersfield in 1662 and 1669 two women and one man were convicted yet they were spared death. No accused were executed after 1662.  “A single witness was all it took to support a witchcraft conviction prior to 1662. Beginning that year, Connecticut required simultaneous witnessing of the same incident by two or more people.” However, witchcraft remained a crime punishable by death in Connecticut until the capital laws were rewritten in 1750. Source

Suggestions for further reading:Walking the Berkshires


* dead-nip or devil’s mark: a blue mark on the body not caused by injury or blow or from any known cause

** witch pins:  There was numerous means of testing a witch. Several areas of the body where pins could be struck where no pain would be felt. The accused were stripped in a belief that they possessed a third nipple from which the devil and his imps could suckle. It was also thought that water, being a life source, would help to detect a witch. A witch placed in water would always float. Source

What is the Origin of the Crime of “Witchcraft?”

The crime of witchcraft was included in laws enacted by the parliament of England during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign (1558-1603). Witchcraft and its penalty were thought to be the express law of God as stated in Exodus 22: 18 (“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”), Leviticus 20: 27 (“A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them”), and Deuteronomy 18: 10 (“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch” (quotes from the Holy Bible, King James Version).

In each of the New England colonies, witchcraft was a capital crime that involved having some type of relationship with or entertaining Satan. The earliest laws of Connecticut and New Haven colonies, the Blue Laws, make it a capital offense for “any man or woman [to] bee a Witch, that is, hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit, they shall bee put to death. ” Although the witchcraft crimes did not require any harm to result from this relationship or entertainment, in practice there had to be harm that warranted the effort and expense of a formal proceeding. In addition to a formal witchcraft charge, allegations of witchcraft were often the bases for civil suits for slander.

17th Century Witch Trial

Statewide “Honor Roll of Heroes” to be Established in Rocky Hill

May 16, 2011

“…Currently, there is no place in Connecticut where all of the names of state vets are located in one place. That is soon to change, and you can help it happen. A private foundation known as the Connecticut State Veterans Memorial Inc. has been established to raise money for the memorial. The estimated cost is $1.2 million. Half of the funds have already been raised. The other half will be raised through public appeal and a nominating process. For a $1 donation, you may nominate a friend or loved one who has served in the military to be included on the memorial. The so-called “Honor Roll of Heroes” will be located in Rocky Hill, across from the State Veterans Home…

Reposted from Middletown Patch. Read the whole article here.

The memorial will be constructed on a grassy meadow, adjacent to the Col. Raymond Gates State Veterans Cemetery, across the street from the State Veterans' Home on West Street in Rocky Hill, CT. Credit Michael Hayes

May Day Tea at Cromwell Historical Society

May 16, 2011

The Cromwell Historical Society presented a lovely May Day Tea complete with period costumes, flowers, tea, and, a May Pole. Wonderful photos of the event at their site; these are just a sampling: (Photo Credits; Emily Jones)

Cromwell's May Pole

May Day Tea Refreshments


May 15, 2011

Welcome to the web home of The Rocky Hill (CT) Historical Society. Here you will find up to date information and articles about the activities of the society. Please visit the various pages to the right for detailed information about the society and our activities, our community, our historic buildings, etc.

Wall Stenciling-18th C House Rocky Hill (c. 1727)

May 15, 2011

This decoration found on the wall of a 2nd floor room in a house on Lower Pratt Street. Such stenciling decoration was a fairly common practice in the period but to find them intact and vibrant today is rare. It is unknown when this stenciling was added as the previous owners have passed on and the current owner does not occupy the house.

Wall Stenciling - 18th C House Rocky Hill (CT) (c 1727)

Wall Stenciling -  18th C House Rocky Hill (CT) (c. 1727) by Steadyjohn

This decoration found surrounding a parlor fireplace in a house on Lower Pratt Street.

Here is information from a review of the book “American Wall Stenciling 1790-1840” by Ann Eckert Brown:

“For today’s owner of an antique house, the discovery of an early stenciled wall—even a fragment of one—is a revelation that offers a shard of a tangible past. In post-revolutionary America, the decoration of choice for a surprisingly large number of home owners from all social and economic groups was walls painted with intricate stenciled designs. Stenciled walls were cheaper and more sanitary than those covered with paper, but the most compelling reason for the widespread use of stenciling was that it was considered far more stylish than impersonal, mass-produced paper. Stencil artists freely borrowed wallpaper motifs and crossbred them. Successive generations of wallpaper, which became increasingly more affordable after the Industrial Revolution, covered stenciled walls, hiding them, obliterating some and preserving others.”


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