History of the Landowners of BBF
The following landowner property transfers of the original tract of land (250/270 acres) of which Bingham Brook Farm (62+ acres) is part was researched by George Kiefer who owned the entire tract for 22 years.
The principal part of the township of Salisbury was sold by the governor and company of the colony of Connecticut, in 1737, at Hartford. It had been surveyed and divided into 25 rights in 1732, being at that time known by the government only as wild, unlocated land. Three of the rights were appropriated to public purposes; one for the support of schools, one for the first settled minister, and one for the support of the ministry. The charter of the town was given in 1745. After it was located, and before the charter was given, it was known to the government by town M. Before this, it was known by no other than the Indian names Weatog and Ousatonic. It took its name from a Mr. Salisbury, who lived not far from the center of the town.
Reference: Connecticut Historical Collections......History and Antiquities of Every Town in Connecticut......2D Ed.; John Warner Barber, 1798-1885; Publisher: Durrie and Peck and JW, 1837.
1. Thomas Newcomb
The first record of the land being sold by the [Salisbury] Proprietors Committee is found in the Proprietors Book, page 57 (1742) and page 85 (1744) whereby a block of 250 acres was transferred by warranty deed to Thomas Newcomb. He was born 1691-1692 in Edgartown MA, and died 1761 in Dutchess County, NY. He was buried in Washington Hollow Cemetery, Dutchess County. Thomas was twice married. His second marriage was to Judith Woodworth on January 17, 1720 in Lebanon, CT. Judith was the daughter of Benjamin Woodworth, Sr. (born 1638, died 1728 Apr. 22) and Hannah Damon of Scituate, MA. Judith was born circa 1701 in Scituate. The records of Benjamin Woodworth, Sr. note "Judith married Thomas Newcomb in 1720 and removed to Salisbury, CT".
This move is further confirmed:
"It appears that about the year 1720, three families came and settled in that part of the town called Weatog. These were, one family of Dutchers, one of Whites, and one of Van Dozens. White was an Englishman but had lived with and become connected in marriage with the Dutch. The other two were wholly of Dutch origin. About the year 1740, there were eleven English and five Dutch families, which were settled in different parts of the town. There were four families of Whites in Weatog; Bebees, not far from the falls; Lambs, at the forge in the hollow; Herveys, in the hollow; Newcombs on the side of the mountain, east of the road that now leads from the hollow to Town hill; Woodworths, at the ore bed; Allens, on the road from the hollow to the meeting house; and Baylies, at the meeting house. These were the English families."
From birth records of their numerous children, it appears Thomas and Judith, while removing to Salisbury and purchasing the property, soon moved to reside in Lebanon, CT where all nine of their children were born. Their first child was born 16 Apr 1721 in Lebanon CT. Their last child, Deborah Newcomb was born 21 Jun 1738 in Lebanon but died June 24, 1739 in Salisbury, CT. In any case, Thomas Newcomb’s ownership of the property was brief. He transferred the property by warranty deed in June 1745 (Salisbury Land records Vol. 1, Page 29) to Jabez Bingham.
2. Jabez Bingham
The Jabez Bingham who purchased the property in June 1745 was in the third generation of Binghams in CT.
The Bingham Family History is well documented and illustrious (Click here to visit the Bingham Family History web site). It is believed, but with some limitations and warnings that the CT Bingham’s lineage traces back to John Bingham born 972 A.D. in Sutton Bingham, Melcombe, Dorset, England. However, the Connecticut Bingham’s lineage down to Jabez is well documented as follows:
Thomas Bingham (Deacon) - The First Bingham in CONNECTICUT
It is interesting to note there isn’t a single Bingham listed in the 2005 telephone directories for Lakeville, Canaan, Norfolk, Sharon or Litchfield; perhaps there are some with private and unlisted telephone numbers. (Note: Mathias Kiefer, son of George Kiefer has confirmed this fact; there is a Bingham descendent living in Salisbury under a married name.) According to the Historical Collections Relating to the Town of Salisbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut, Volume 1, arranged and published by The Salisbury Association as written by Malcolm D. Rudd, Lakeville, Conn., Oct. 21, 1913:
"To the continually increasing number of students of family history, vital records are of the first importance. For this reason and because of the comparative ease with which these records can be copied and arranged, they have been selected for publication in this and subsequent volumes of Collections, with the intention of printing this class of our records to about the year 1850.
3. Jabez & Mary Bingham
After holding the land for six years, in 1751 Jabez Bingham (wife Bethia Wood) transferred the property by warranty deed to their son Jabez and his wife Mary Wheelock (Salisbury Land records Vol. 3, page 85). They in turn held the property for 12 years before transferring it to Jabez’s brother Silas on May 30, 1763.
4. Silas Bingham
The Salisbury Land Records (Vol. 4, page 50) show that Silas briefly held the property for 60 days transferring it by warranty deed on July 30, 1763. The land records further indicate that at the time Silas transferred the property it included "1 dwelling house, 1 log house and 2 orchards." Given Silas’s brief ownership, it is therefore most probable that Jabez and Mary were responsible for the buildings and orchards; perhaps the "log house" was the original homestead dwelling of Jabez and Bethia and the "dwelling house" built by Jabez and Mary. In any case, it was the Bingham family that initially homesteaded the land and undoubtedly it was a Bingham for whom Bingham Pond was named.
After years of roaming the property and surrounding lands, I discovered buried under tangles of bittersweet and wild grape vines and surrounded by a protective barrier of thorny Barberry, the undisturbed remnant foundation of what is most probably the original Jabez homestead.
5. Mahitabel Webb
Mahitabel Webb acquired the property from Silas on July 30, 1763 (Salisbury Land records Vol. 4, page 44) and held the property for 31 years before selling it in 1794. While I can not find information on Mahitabel Webb, it is interesting to note that in 1783 Salisbury had a bounty of 40 shillings on wolves.
6. Jonathan Scoville
Mahitabel Webb transferred the property by warrant deed on June 23, 1794 to Jonathan Scoville, which sale as recorded in the Salisbury Land records (Vol. 9, page 18) as consisting of 270 acres. Jonathan Scoville, for whom Scoville Ore Mine Road is partially named, held the land for 29 years.
7. Holly & Coffing
On July 16, 1823, Jonathan Scoville transferred 270 acres by warranty deed to the well-established iron company Holley & Coffing (H&C); H&C built a furnace on Mt. Riga in 1806.
We know the following about John Holley from his papers written between 1793 and 1799.
John Milton Holley (1777-1836): John Milton Holley, who went simply by Milton until he came of age, was born in Salisbury, CT in September 1777. He was the eldest son of Luther and Sarah (Dakin) Holley. Milton's formal education began in 1788 when he was sent to Boston to study English and penmanship under Caleb Bingham (a Salisbury native). He excelled in his academic pursuits and, accompanied by his younger brothers Myron and Horace, enrolled in the Academy at Williamstown in 1793. Milton eventually entered Williams College, but only studied there for one year since he was needed at home to help his father with his merchandising business. In 1794, the Holley family moved to Dover, NY and resided there for five years before returning to Salisbury. During that time, a thriving business and a seat in the General Assembly often kept Luther away from home, and Milton managed the affairs of his absent father.
The name Holley & Coffing cannot be mentioned without that of Joseph Pettee. Joseph Pettee was born on March 13, 1781 in Foxborough, Norfolk, Massachusetts and died on March 5, 1838 in Salisbury, Connecticut. He was an Ironmaster on Mt. Riga and it was he who cast the anchor for the USS Constitution. He was buried in Mt. Riga Cemetery.
Joesph Pettee must have been a partner with Holley and Coffing as Volume 1 (1913) of The Salisbury Association Inc. addresses the sale of land on Mt. Riga for the Mt. Riga Cemetery as follows:
"This Cemetery, consisting of a plot of one-quarter of an acre in extent was purchased by the town April 25, 1817 (see Land Records, Vol 14, Page 281) from Holley, Coffing & Pette, for the sum of two dollars. The purchase was made pursuant to town vote of April, 8, 1816, authorizing the selectmen to take conveyance of land for a burying place "near the Mt. Furnace." In the deed it is spoken of as being on Tocannick Mt. It is situated near the north end of the middle road, about one-eight of a mile from its junction with the west road in what was formerly the hamlet of Mt. Riga. This little plot is seldom visited and shows signs of neglect, except for one part of it which is occasionally used for interments."
At the time of the American Revolution (1775 -1783), each year the local iron industry consumed 500,000 to 600,000 bushels of charcoal for blast furnaces, plus 2,000 to 3,000 cords of wood for "puddling" furnaces. While Mahitabel Webb (1763 to 1794) and Jonathan Scoville (1794 to 1823) held the property for 60 years, it is unknown (at least by this writer) if any of the land’s timber at that time had been cut. As the forests in close proximity to the Salisbury furnaces were cleared for charcoal, the woodcutters moved farther a field. How far north of the furnaces they were by 1800 is unknown to this writer, but it is quite probable that H&C acquired the Scoville property in 1823 for its timber for charcoal and potential iron ore. As the Salisbury iron industry grew to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding nation that demanded iron for arsenals, ships, railroads, agriculture and building, the first growth hardwood forests of the Taconic Plateau and surrounding lowlands paid the price.
The charcoal was made on site by stacking, covering, and smoldering wood in outdoor kilns. Throughout the BBF property and the whole Taconic Plateau, these old charcoal kiln sites can be found and remnant pieces of charcoal picked up. According to the Nature Conservancy:
"Each year a typical blast furnace needed charcoal made from cutting 600 acres of trees, or 10,000 acres worth of trees over a 30-year period. The forges' incessant appetite for charcoal soon led to the deforestation of all 120,000 acres of virgin forests in the Berkshire Taconic Landscape. As a result, only a few remnants of old growth forests remain today--mostly in inaccessible areas in isolated ravines. (You can see remnant stands of hemlock during the fall and winter, when that evergreen species stands out among the deciduous trees that change color and lose their leaves. "
By the turn of the 20th century, practically the whole of the Salisbury landscape was denuded of old hardwood forests and used for agricultural purposes. In fact, old stone walls run throughout BBF and surrounding properties testifying to human efforts to clear the denuded landscape of rocks and create fields for grazing livestock and farming. Interestingly, while almost all of the hardwood trees on the BBP property today are less than 100 years old, here and there can be found massive white oaks that if cut would probably have 150+ years of growth rings. The only plausible explanation I’ve heard as to why these grand old trees were spared is that they were left as "seed" trees.
8. Samuel C. Scoville
The property’s next owner was Samuel C. Scoville who acquired the property on February 28, 1832 by warranty deed (Salisbury Land Records Vol. 19, page 142). This transfer is the first where the property was surveyed with the land records noting it as 263.579 acres.
A direct descendent of Samuel Scoville is Ms. Molly Scoville who currently owns a 20 acre parcel contiguous to BBF’s SW property line. Molly is the sister to Anthony "Tony" Scoville who also resides in Salisbury.
Samuel Scoville held the property for 32 years selling a 75% interest in 1864.
9. Hunts, Lyman Iron Co. (William Barnum, Henry Sage & Seth Walton)
This group acquired a 75% interesting 275 acres on April 29, 1864 (Salisbury Land Records Vol. 29, page 93).
10. Simon Stephens
Stephens acquired his interest in the property in Aughust 1907 as a residuary devisee (by probate) under the will of Calista Dakin, deceased. Calista had acquired the interest as the sister and heir to Seth Walton. (Salisbury Land Records Vol. 17, page 347).
11. Donald J. Warner
Donald Warner acquired by quit claim 270 acres on May 19, 1920 (Salisbury Land Records Vol. 49, page 174).
12. Lois Church Warner
The land (270 acres) passed to Lois Warner under a certificate of devise on December 8, 1958 (Salisbury Land Records Vol. 80, page 497).
13. George Kiefer
George Kiefer (who did all of this property transfer research) acquired the 270 acres by quit claim on May 16, 1958 (Salisbury Land Records Vol. 80, page 497).
14. John F. Fisher, III
George sold "Jack" Fisher by warranty deed "Lot 5" consisting of 61.512 acres on March 21, 1980. (Salisbury Land Records Vol. 124 page 804).
15. Donald E. & Gloria E. Janelli
Jack sold by warranty deed Lot 5 to Donald and Gloria Janelli on March 9, 1981 (Salisbury Land Records Vol. 125 page 1170).