New London County Historical Society

11 Blinman Street | New London, CT 06320

Phone: 860-443-1209

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About NLCHS

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So far NLCHS has created 6 blog entries.

Caesar Shaw: Freeman & Sailor

April 25th, 2019|

By: Sam Urban

Caesar Shaw was born a slave in New London on the 10th of February, 1760. He was owned by Nathaniel Shaw Jr, so he likely lived in the third floor servants’ quarters of the Shaw Mansion. At Nathaniel Shaw Jr’s untimely death in 1782 he was freed in the will that Nathaniel dictated on his deathbed. Nathaniel Shaw Jr.’s will also bequeathed him ten pounds in silver coins annually for the rest of his life; as long as he lived in New London. Ten pounds in 1782 was about $2,100 dollars in today’s money when adjusted for inflation.

It is likely that Caesar was sent to sea by his master, like many slaves in New London were at the time. The records from the late 18th century and early 19th century when Caesar was a sailor are often incomplete so we only know of two specific voyages that Caesar participated in. The first voyage was in 1795 to the West Indies on the sloop Betsey. A notarized certificate that says Caesar is a free man and an American citizen protected Caesar from runaway slave catchers and British impressment on his journey. Caesar’s second voyage to the West Indies was […]

Benedict Arnold’s Privateering Past

April 25th, 2019|

By: Steve Manuel

From Benedict Arnold to Nathaniel Shaw Jr. on August 10, 1780.

“Dear Sir,
I have taken the liberty of enclosing sundry letters, bills sale etc.; by which it appears that Capt Joseph Packwood in August 1778 sold to Capt Thomas Truxton one fourth part of the sloop John with her cargo. Amounting to £1070, lawful money, for which amount Capt. Truxton drew on me (then in Philadelphia) which draught I stood ready to honor when presented; it also appears by Capt. Packwood’s letter that he had no doubt of the draughts being honored. It also appears by the papers that the sloop made one voyage and returned safe from the West Indies in March 1779 with a cargo of rum, sugar, & Molasses; — How many voyages she has made since, or what has become of her, I have never heard. Capt. Truxton informs me that Capt. Packwood wrote him some time since, requesting him to draw two thousand pounds lawful money, part of the profits of the Voyage, and at the same time objected to his sharing in full proportion alleging for reasons, that the sloop was not paid for when bought and that the money had greatly depreciated; […]

Joshua Hempstead Diary Update

April 25th, 2019|

By: Patricia M. Schaefer

In April of last year I wrote an article for the newsletter about the upcoming new edition of The Diary of Joshua Hempstead 1711-1758. It is still upcoming, but there has been progress. I have finished the proofreading, Dan Connors has formatted the entire diary so that we have page numbers, and I’m mostly finished checking name index errors and additions.

This means there are two major tasks remaining: changing the page numbers in the index to match the page numbers in the new edition; and getting the diary printed. The new edition is seventeen pages longer than the last one, partly because of formatting changes, but mostly because of added content. There were a few entries added that had been suppressed by the Victorian transcribers, but most of the added content is a line here, and another one there. Most of these were simply missed, being at the end of an entry, squeezed between two other lines, or at the bottom of a page. They add up. There are a number of diary entries that make much more sense with the added line. For instance:
Tuesd 15. fair Cloudy. Samll Hide in Town. I was at home & in […]

Explore New Bedford’s Whaling History

June 20th, 2011|

Bus Trip! with NLCHS Staff and Fellow Members
New Bedford MA, although a much larger city, has many things in common with New London: its whaling history, its 19th century prominence, its beautiful historic homes, its ethic diversity and its active waterfront. Plan to join us on Friday 19 August, for a tour to New Bedford to explore this interesting and lively city and two of its great museums. A special point of interest at the Whaling Museum will be the recently opened exhibit  on the Azorean and Cape Verdean connections to New England through the whaling trade.

Included in the tour is motor coach transportation from New London (or Stonington — we’ll pick you up), with commentary provided by our own whaling authorities; admission to the New Bedford Whaling Museum with a special guided tour by Senior Curator Michael Dyer; lunch at a waterfront restaurant; and a tour of the historic Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Gardens.

[…]

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Lisbon Earthquake 1755

March 22nd, 2011|

[December 1755] Saturd 27.  A Snowy day. I went into Town to see the Boston News Paper, which gives an account of the Terrable Efffects of a Great Earthquake in Spain & Portugail.  The famous City of Lisbourn Destroyed.  Ye Houes all Shaked down but 3.  & Thousands of Pple killed.  The fire on the hearths burnt all ye houses & Rubbish. & Some places Swallowed up &c. 

Here in 2011 we have all been horrified and transfixed by the pictures and videos of the “great earthquake” and Tsunami in Japan that also killed thousands and swallowed up whole towns.  Back in 1755 this kind of terrible news was not immediate, and not visual of course, but it still had the power to shake those far away who read about it, and Joshua, always a news hound, made a point of heading to town to get his news about the tragic earthquake in Lisbon, which destroyed the city by shaking, flooding and fire – very similar to the situation in the towns and cities along the coast of northeastern Japan.  Knowing as we do, the difficulties facing the population of Japan in 2011, we can only imagine the chaos and the […]

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a publick Thanksgiving in this Colony

November 23rd, 2009|

 

[November 1756] Thursd 18 “fair. a publick Thanksgiving in this Colony.  I Set out in the morning with Joshua in order to go to Stonington purpusing to meeting att Groton but the ferry boat was gone over & Stayed there a great while and a small wind & Right against us that wee were Late & the ferrymans cellar being broke open ye last night & Sundrys Stole out I stopt to write a Warrant to Serch & by that means was too late for the meeting and wee went the Lower way to Stonington & Dined att Joshuas between 3 & 4. oe Clock & went to son miners & Lodged there.”

This Thanksgiving Day in Joshua’s 79th year gives a new meaning to “over the river and through the woods” to a holiday meal with family.  It also points up a difference between Thanksgiving then and now.  The Connecticut colony, according to Joshua’s Diary, as well as the colonies of New York and Massachusetts, usually held a day of Thanksgiving in early November.  These days were “publishd” at the local meetinghouse a week or so in advance and most of Joshua’s entries regarding these special days simply read something […]