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1630-1772 [The first page includes genealogical notes on the Wheeler family, which have been arranged in the “Family Index.”] Text in italics is from the D.A.R. and not part of the original historic diary text.
The first Wheeler that came into America settled in Concord (Massachusetts) about the year 1630. He had several sons & one of them came to Black Rock and at the old Lot built a stone house with a flat roof of Plank on which he mounted two four-pounders,- one pointed towards the Mouth of the Harbor & the other at an Indian fort situated at the head of the harbor, now known by the name of Old Fort.
This place the Fairfield Indians had built for their defence against some of the interior tribes with whom they were perpetually at War. It was composed of Palisades joined together & at each corner a room was built out with portholes like the following figure:
It contained about an acre of land & was garrisoned by about 200 Indians fond of War & often solliciting the Old Indian for leave to destroy the English. Once they obtained it on condition of pulling up a large neighboring White Oak Tree-
Well, to work they went & stript off its branches, but still the trunk baffled their utmost endeavours.
“Thus” says the Old Sachem , “will be the end of your War- you may kill some of their papooses, but the old plaguey Stump t’other side of the great Waters will remain & send out more branches”
It happened one time that 6 of the Mohawk tribe, being closely pursued by the Fairfield Indians were secreted by one of the Waklins of Stratfield under some sheaves of Flax, & being directed homewards, were the occasion of the long Amity that subsisted between that tribe and the English.
Many remains of the Indians are daily discovered, as Stone arrows, hatchets, etc. In Greenfield is a Samp Mortar made in the solid rock, containing nearly half a Bushel.
A pot has been seen in Weston of Stone & a stone bottle was found very curiously made, holding about half a pint, at Black Rock some years since. A great part of their food seems to have been Oysters, Clams &c. by the vast beds of Shells that are frequently dug out of the Earth.
My Grandfather had (I learn from tradition, there being no journals left of those times) many brothers & sisters, 14 in all.
Hannah, the youngest, was a very intelligent person- about 18 years of age. She was courted & expected to be married to Ringfield a Captain of a ship who gave her a gold ring, 3 pair of green silk stockings &c, but he being gone for so long, she was courted & married by Sam Wheeler.
On the day of their marriage, a Ship appearing taken for Ringfield by the Bride, she burst into tears & declared she would not be married, & half dressed hid in a hole in the back kitchen of my grandfather who, with horsewhip in hand, dragged her out, but she ran around him as he attempted to strike.
They finally concluded to dispatch a boat to see who commanded said ship. Finding it was not Ringfield (who was lost) she was married, but never could the Capt. be erased from her mind, as (I am told by a person who was eye wit- ness) she used frequently at 75 years of age to weep over his presents.
1740 & 1741
was the Hard Winter. The Ground, covered with Snow to the tops of the fences for 40 days. It did not thaw the least on the sunny side of the House.
A snow fell about the middle of December which filled the roads & buried a pair of Oxen at the old fort, owned by Sam Gold. They were found by their breathing holes. The harbour continued frozen from that time till the middle of May-Capt. Bostwick & Capt. Dimon were loading for the West Indies. Dimon said as winter set in. Bostwick was ready, but delaying one night, was froze in & had to cart hay to his stock for 3 months. When going out of the Sound, he found Dimon returning.
(From sketch of Mrs. Jonathan Wheeler.) She was remarkable for storytelling. In her father’s days she said the Sound was froze over and her father went half way to Long Island when it began to break up. He being an active man, sprang from one cake to another till he got ashore. It used to be so cold as to freeze cattle’s mouths up & they would have to get a teakettle of hot water to thaw them out. It used in winter time to freeze people’s voices, and in the Spring when a thaw came there would be all kinds of noises heard in the air.
In June & July the bloody Flux raged to such a degree that 2 or 3 were buried in Fairfield daily (of the dysentry)
1758 March 22-Earthquake in New England.
The dry summer-begun very early- everything parched up- Old pasture spring dug.
August- Two Indians were whipt & stood in the Pillory for stealing a child & leaving it in the fields.
Isaac Frazier, a noted thief, was hung at Fairfield.
July- The Lightning struck Stratfield meetinghouse & killed uncle John Burr & ripped open the Shoes of his brother Ozias that stood near him & killed likewise David Sherman.
March 7- Snow storm, (this month seven large snow storms-the 2nd day of April snow higher than the fences.
Sept. 2- In the evening 2 black clouds appeared in the South- West & North-West, & one seemed to come & meet them directly over Fairfield from the North East- at half past Eight it began to thunder incessantly. The flashes of Lightning, which seemed to set the room in a blaze, were about a minute’s distance from each other, accompanied with bursts of Thunder like the whole broadside of a Ship, making the Earth to tremble and at the same time lifting one of our family from the seat at the side of the house onto her feet. At the same time the room was filled with a sulphurous smell.
(Struck Abel Wheeler’s house twice and his signpost once- It was a tavern where much vice was seen) Abel Wheeler got up, it struck him down; then they all stood up & were struck down-The Lightning ran in streams all through the Rooms, broke all the lower windows, but hurt none of the people.
Down rushed the Rain, impetuous as if the floodgates of heaven had been opened.
Many thought it was the World’s last Session & trembling sat, expecting every Breath to be the last for 3 long hours; but at 1/2 past 11 it ceased.
They all agree that the Storm tonight has been the hardest one that e’er this Land has seen. It must as nigh as we could guess Strike 90 times about this Place. A Barn was struck & burnt in Town.