New London County Historical Society, Inc.

11 Blinman Street, New London, CT 06320

Phone: 860-443-1209


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So far EDWARD BAKER has created 42 blog entries.
2408, 2009

Annual Meeting 13 September

By |August 24th, 2009|Events Blog|Comments Off on Annual Meeting 13 September

NLCHS Annual Meeting 2009
Sunday 13 August at Fort Trumbull Conference Center
90 Walbach Street, New London

4:30 Reception, 5:30 Business meeting, 6 pm Wortman Presentation
Tickets $20 for members, $25 for others
Call Shaw Mansion 860.443.1209 to make reservations

Books will be available for purchase
New London and the Beginning of the Naval Air Corps
Everyone “knows” the history of how the New London Navy Yard became a submarine base after it was established by acting Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt in 1916. But how many of you are aware of the beginning of the Naval Air Corps and its connection to New London at the same time period? It’s time you learned—and the NLCHS Annual Meeting, Sunday 13 September, at the Fort Trumbull Conference Center, will give you the perfect opportunity. Marc Wortman, author of The Millionaires’ Unit, will be sharing the almost unknown story of how the Yale University Flying Club became one of the first flight wings of the Navy. His presentation, from 6 pm to 7, will follow a cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres beginning at 4:30 and the annual business meeting. Call today 860.443.1209, to purchase tickets; members $20.

The Millionaires’ Unit is the story of a gilded generation of young men […]

2707, 2009

a Tomb Stone for R. Christophers

By |July 27th, 2009|Hempstead Diary|Comments Off on a Tomb Stone for R. Christophers

[August 1731] Tuesd 13. I was at home most of the day & Cutting Some letters in a Tomb Stone for R. Christophers Esqr. Adm Mowed al d. Wednsd 14 fair. a Shower aftern. I was at home al day. I made 2 pr letters & Mended fence &c. Ad hilled Corn. Thursd 15fair. David Minerd Mowed. I mowed Some & Raked Some & adm Mowed & Raked. a good hay day. fryd 16 fair. … Saturd 17 fair. I was at home al day Raking & Stacking. Mr Coits Mingo helpt. wee Stackt about 4 Ld.

We could use “a good hay day” right about now after two months of rainy summer weather; the wettest June and July since records have been kept by the National Weather Service. Of course that service didn’t exist for Joshua Hempstead, so the hay that Adam mowed on Tuesday got rained on on Wednesday (Adam was put to work hilling the corn on Wednesday probably due to the threat of rain). But good weather on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the combined labor of four men, including two slaves, resulted in stacks of hay equaling four cart loads being put up. Interesting to note here that both […]

1707, 2009

Maps of State Street 1850 – 1951

By |July 17th, 2009|State Street Exhibit|Comments Off on Maps of State Street 1850 – 1951


Click on the map year for zoomable Maps of State Street.
1850 • 1868 • 1884 • 1901 • 1912 • 1921 • 1951

A Century of Change

Stretching uphill from the harbor to the dignified courthouse built in 1784, State Street has been the organizing spine of New London since the town’s founding in 1646.  Yet, most of the buildings standing on State Street today have been erected since 1850, when New Londoners began a wholesale reorganization of urban space that continued well into the 20th century.

Although the economic prosperity of the whaling industry and the arrival of the railroad in 1849 were important enabling conditions, this urban reorganization was not just a matter of New Londoners using new-found wealth and easy access to metropolitan centers to do more of what they had always done.  Instead, this remaking of State Street involved a more substantial rethinking of the character of urban space.

While houses—large and small—once sat in close proximity to artisans’ workshops and general stores, Victorian State Street was increasingly subdivided into three zones: an industrial swath along the waterfront, a green and leafy neighborhood of genteel villas and cultural institutions near the courthouse, and a commercial district in between.

Functional specialization affected […]

307, 2009

Tuesd the 4th

By |July 3rd, 2009|Hempstead Diary|Comments Off on Tuesd the 4th

[July 1738] Tuesd the 4th fair. this morning about 6. Clock my Daughter in Law Stephens wife was DD of a Son in a hopefull way to do well. I was at home foren mending the Cart. aftern in Town Executing Deeds of Conveyance for ye ministry Land to Divers persons. Adam began to Mow before ye Door.

A different view of the fourth of July, 40 years before it became known as Independence Day. Here we see some of Hempstead’s typical shorthand: foren, or fore-noon, for morning, and aftern for afternoon. The wife of Hempstead’s son Stephen, Sarah Holt Hempstead, was “delivered of a son,” Thomas, in 1738 who didn’t do as well as was hoped. A second son named Thomas is born in 1740.

Adam is Hempstead’s slave, whose work is recorded in the diary on a very regular basis. But in this case, Hempstead is recording something a bit more significant, the beginning of the hay mowing season. In 1728 Adam’s first mowing is recorded on 1 July; in 1732 on 10 July. In the seasonal realm of farm work this marks the beginning of one of the most labor intensive and all-summer-long tasks. A good mower would have been expected to mow about […]

306, 2009

Benedict Arnold

By |June 3rd, 2009|Benedict Arnold|Comments Off on Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold Turns and Burns New London

September 6, 1781 was a brutal and terrifying day for Connecticut citizens living on both sides of New London harbor, along the Thames River. On that day 1,700 British, Hessian, and Loyalist troops, under the command of General Benedict Arnold, achieved the last British victory of the Revolutionary War, committing acts of urban terrorism and slaughter that would define those communities for years to come. “Arnold’s Raid on New London,” as it was later called, had more to do with spite than strategy. But the raid, occurring almost exactly one year after the discovery of Arnold’s plot to turn George Washington’s army and headquarters over to the British and Arnold’s subsequent escape to the British, cemented Arnold’s reputation as America’s most notorious traitor.

But the events leading to the burning of New London were rooted in circumstances far deeper than simple spite. A confluence of geography, world trade, and wartime economics turned New London (and neighboring Groton) into hotspots of historic import.

A Bustling Port Turns to Privateering

The Thames River provides New London with an excellent harbor. It is wide and deep, the bottom has excellent mud for anchoring, it hardly ever freezes over, and its […]

2905, 2009

Mr ad pr al day

By |May 29th, 2009|Hempstead Diary|0 Comments

[May 1730] Sund 31. Sacramt Day. Mr ad pr al day. Joseph Southmayd of Midle town & Abiah Douglass John Brooks & Sarah Lester pbullisht. Samll Leech & wife ownd ye Covnt & had their Child Baptizd Abigail.

Mr Adams probably didn’t preach ALL day. This was Joshua’s shorthand to record that Mr Adams preached at both the morning service and the afternoon service.  Mr. Eliphalet Adams was pastor of the Congregational Church in New London from 1709 until 1753 when he died. An offer was made in 1724 to make him president of Yale College but the town voted in the negative their willingness to let him go — he was a town employee as the pastor of the church. This image is from a painting attributed to the “Pierpont Limner” and is matched by a painting of his wife Lydia. The paintings date from early in his ministry, perhaps as early as 1720, and may be some of the earliest paintings created in New London. The pictures hang in the Shaw Mansion.

Being “published” meant that their intention to marry was made known to the church and community. These two couples being recorded by Joshua as having their vows published may provide a […]

1905, 2009

Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day – Starr Street Hidden Gardens

By |May 19th, 2009|Events Blog|0 Comments

Sunday 21 June we celebrate the Shaw Mansion’s induction into Connecticut’s Historic Gardens, an association of the state’s premier historic sites with gardens interpreted as part of the visitor experience. From noon to 4pm, several of the Starr Street Association members will open their vest-pocket gardens, hidden behind their restored houses, to ticket holders as part of the event. $20 tickets will allow holders to visit Starr Street gardens, the Shaw Mansion garden, and they can enter for a drawing of Garden-themed door prizes at the Shaw Mansion — drawing will be held at 4pm.
These fourteen sites, scattered throughout Connecticut, offer visitors an opportunity to explore many types of gardens while visiting historic homes. On Sunday 21 June each location will participate in the sixth annual Connecticut’s Historic Garden Day with a variety of special events and activities. Other Connecticut Historic Gardens close by include: The Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme; Harkness Memorial State Park, in Waterford; and the Thankful Arnold House Museum in Haddam. For a listing of the other sites visit:

1605, 2009

State and Main

By |May 16th, 2009|State Street Exhibit|Comments Off on State and Main

Once known as Buttonwood Corner (after the sycamore tree that stood on the site until 1856), the intersection of State and Main streets was the heart of New London’s commercial district in the second half of the 19th century.  Throughout these decades, the area was transformed in extent and character.



Eager to locate businesses along this thriving commercial artery, entrepreneurs bought up and pulled down several of the gracious homes that had once graced the middle stretches of State Street.  At the same time, many of the wooden buildings that had housed New London’s businesses were replaced by large masonry commercial blocks.  Characterized by ground-floor shops sporting large plate-glass display windows, these blocks brought a new gentility to the shopping experience by separating delivery, storage, and bookkeeping functions from the spaces where customers examined goods.


Banks and hotels catering to “the better class” of travelers helped complete the  refinement of New London’s commercial core.

Bishop and Kenyon, photographers
American, Stereopticon, Public Library of New London
Taller and broader than even its three-story neighbors, Bacon’s Marble Block was further distinguished from those wooden and brick buildings by its classically-detailed marble façade.   Bacon operated a billiard hall in the building, offering “luxurious surroundings . . . genial companionship […]

1605, 2009

The Parade

By |May 16th, 2009|State Street Exhibit|Comments Off on The Parade

The Parade—the open triangle of space at the foot of State Street—has long been a focal point for intense activity.  Initially serving as a market square, by the middle of the 19th-century it came to function as New London’s transportation hub.

As civic leaders began to perceive the Parade as the gateway to downtown New London, the area also became the focus of beautification schemes and a site for community-wide commemoration efforts.  This trend started in 1896 with the erection of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, but it has continued more recently with the relocation of the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse to the site.

While civic leaders controlled the physical evolution of the Parade, the meaning of the Parade—what it says about New London and the intended audience for that message—has been the subject of lively debate.  Sometimes this discussion has been overt (as in recent public deliberations about a proposed pedestrian bridge).  More often, however, the debate has been implicit in promotional images that carefully disguised the Parade’s proximity to New London’s “skid row.”

E. C. Kellogg, after drawing by Joseph C. Ropes (1812-1885)
American, Lithograph, New London County Historical Society
Ropes focuses on the commercial activity at the city’s busy harbor, but is careful […]

1505, 2009

Stones – The Labors of Hercules

By |May 15th, 2009|Hempstead Diary|Comments Off on Stones – The Labors of Hercules

[May 1739] Mond 14 fair. I was at home all Day plowing & helping plant & drawing Some Stones. Tuesd 15th fair. I was at home al Day writing &c. Wednsd 16thfair. I was at home al Day Diging & drawing Stones. Thursd . 17. fair & hot. I was at home foren Diging & Drawing Stones. aftern I went to Stonington & Josh & Lodged at Son minors.

Stones, stones, stones. Time of the year to plow and plant, yet it seems the greatest harvest in New England was one of stones.  One can visualize this work, a man and boy walking beside a team of oxen pulling the simplest of tools, a chain attached from the yoke to a stone boat. A stone boat being something akin to a large door-sized set of planks with a piece of iron at the front holding the planks together and with a hole for attaching the chain. Depending on how well trained the oxen are, there would be a third person, perhaps Adam Jackson, Hempstead’s slave. The team drags the boat round and round the field, the driver keeping abreast of the beasts, the two others rolling stones on to the planks. I […]