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Killingly Town

Killingly Town Hall is located at 172 Main Street, Danielson CT 06239; phone: 860-779-5335.

Beginnings [1]

Killingly was laid out in 1708, in the northeast corner of Connecticut, in the wild border land between the Quinebaug River and Rhode Island. This region was early known to the whites as the Whetstone Country, but long left neglected. Rough hill ranges, alternating with marshes and sand-flats, offered poor inducements to purchasers and settlers. It lay remote from any public thoroughfare of travel, and its settlement would probably have been delayed still later had it depended merely upon individual fancy or selection. But the Whetstone Country, though sterile and unattractive, had one great advantage. It was owned by the Colony of Connecticut and not by individuals or corporations. While Mohegan land claims had swallowed up a great portion of Windham County territory, this northern section east of the Quinebaug was at the disposal of the government. The wild Whetstone Country was thus, after a time, cherished and protected and brought as soon as possible into notice and market. The land, if poor, was good enough to give away, or pay to creditors, and many civil and military services were requited by grants of land in this region. Its first white proprietors were thus the leading men in the Colony. Governors Haynes, Treat and Saltonstall; Majors Fitch and Mansfield; the Reverend Messrs. Hooker, Pierpont, Whiting, Buckingham, Andrews, Noyes, Woodbridge and Russel; the Honorable Giles Hamlin, Matthew Allen and Caleb Stanley, had grants of land in the northeast corner and were associated with the early history of Killingly. The grant to Governor Haynes was given as early as 1642; that to the Reverend John Whiting in 1662, but the greater number at a later period. No particular spot or bounds were designated in these grants, which simply allowed a certain number of acres to be taken up, "without any prejudice to any particular township or former grant." The land "was all before them where to choose," and the first coiners chose the best localities. Measurements were in all cases extremely liberal.

The first to take possession of land in the Whetstone Country under these grants, were those notorious "land-grabbers," Major James Fitch and Captain John Chandler. A grant of "fifteen hundred acres, to be taken up together and lying beyond New Roxbury, near the northeast corner of the Colony line," was confirmed to Major Fitch by the General Court, October, 1691), who, with his usual dispatch and discrimination, at once selected and had laid out to him the best land in the whole section. Captain John Chandler, of Woodstock, was next in the field, buying up land granted to soldiers for services in the Narraganset War as indemnity for losses. Two hundred acres, purchased by him from Lieutenant Hollister, were laid out at Nashaway, the point of land between the Quinebaug and French Rivers, and confirmed to him by the General Court in 1691. A great part of the valley land adjoining French River and a commanding eminence two miles east of the Quinebaug, then known as Rattlesnake and afterwards as Killingly Hill, were speedily appropriated by Captain Chandler. The other grantees, less familiar with the country and less experienced in land-grabbing, found more difficulty in taking up their grants. The land was savage, remote and difficult of access. Roads and conveyances were both lacking. Wild streams, deep marshes and tangled forests impeded exploration. Surveyors were scarce, costly and not always capable of wise selection. Indians were numerous and now somewhat turbulent and refractory. The Rev. Samuel Andrews succeeded in obtaining the laying out of his grant of two hundred acres in 1692, west of Rattlesnake Hill, "bounded three sides by wilderness."

In 1693, the future Killingly received its first known white settler — Richard Evans — who purchased, for twenty pounds, a two hundred acre grant of the Reverend James Pierpont, of New Haven, and is described in the deed as "late of Rehoboth, but now resident of the said granted premises." Little is known of this first settler of Killingly beyond the fact of his early settlement. The bounds of his farm cannot now be identified. It was laid out in the wilderness, about a mile east of the Quinebaug River and three miles from Woodstock. It was in the northern extremity of the subsequent township of Killingly; was afterwards included in the "South Neighborhood" of Thompson, and eventually formed a part of the town of Putnam. Mr. Evans was accompanied by a grown son, Richard Evans, and in time built two homesteads and made various improvements. His establishment served as a landmark for all the surrounding region, many tracts of land being identified by distance or direction from Richard Evans.

  1. Ellen D. Larned, History of Windham County, Connecticut, Volume I, 1600-1760, Charles Hamilton, Palladium Office, Printer, Worcester, MA, 1874.
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