For the past few days I’ve been transcribing the items below from the New London Historical Society library. It is a folder of misc. articles written by I don’t really know who about Waterford and the Rogers Family. There is a handwritten name of Mary Stillman Anderson who may be the author. A google search of her name didn’t come up with anything. I’m not sure when it was written except that it talks of something still standing in 1947 giving me the impression that it was probably written about that time. Below are the photos I took of the articles and my transcriptions of them. I wish I could say that the information the author gives is sourced but is not. It is however information that can be used to follow up on and see if we can find proof of it farther down the line. I wish I knew the authors connection with the Rogers’ family as he/she gives some interesting personal anecdotes especially about Mary Jordan. If anyone has any further information on any of the houses mentioned, I’d love to know and be able to follow up more on them.
The Goshen section of Waterford was t one time the home of many of the descendants of James I who has been already mentioned having many heirs saw to it they had homes as near his own house at Magonk as possible. Besides that of John just across the home driveway there was one yet standing farther to the east and another just a stones throw to the North and father east at one time stood a sizeable structure near where now stands the Bascomb home. While across from it a two story house, home of Squire David Rogers which while it has been altered has kept the Colonial style with white pillars supporting the high piazza, dormer window in the south roof and even a box bordered flower garden. It is not he home of Col. W. Ellery Allen, the name of Rogers having entirely disappeared from the Goshen section. The name David seems to have been very popular among the Rogers heirs for besides Squire David there was David first and second and David P. whose house now is summer hotel at Pleasure Beach and follows the design of that of the homes already mentioned as well as that of two houses somewhat altered on the Harkness estate once owned by a David Rogers.
The remains of a cellar can be seen near the house once occupied by Deacon Gilbert Rogers later the home of Mr. Harkness’ mother which built many years previous to those already mentioned was of the square story and half type and was at one time owned by Peleg Rogers of whom no other mention is made in annals of the Rogers one may safely conjecture he was lost at sea as so many of that section were. Another very old house of that style has been repaired and furnished after the style of its period by Mr. Nathaniel Holmes while across from it a two story sizeable house has been repaired yet the style within and without carefully preserved by Mr. and Mrs. Wikin Brown.
Daughters of James Rogers were provided homes nearby as in the case of the Maxson and Darrow houses, the latter now the home of Albert B. Perkins Jr.
These in that section may well be pleased that a man of wealth was led to settle at Mogonk which like all acreage bordering Long Island Sound offers picturesque building sites for the houses Mr. Rogers built so solidly have needed but little alteration to make them artistically worthy of their setting.
(I did find this vintage postcard from the 1920’s of Pleasure Beach near Waterford, CT on line)
Grandson of James I by James II as nearly as can be determined at least the one who inherited Poquyogh and was also owner of the Jordan Mill. He was born in 1754 and his mother is mentioned “as a notable woman” altho no further act to that title is mentioned having eight children and the care of other duties pertaining to many acres and a large number of slaves – well perhaps the husband was not as efficient a manager as she was, yet in those days it would not have been correct to say the least or even mention that. Certain it was that when son Solomon married Lucretia Parker, he was given 650 acres known even then as Miner Hill and extended a long distance south along Miner Lane. His house built on the site now occupied by the commodious home of Mr. Arthur H. Davis was a smaller one which was moved around the corner from the Post Road into Clark Lane when Mr. Davis bought the site.
Nearly every one of that period engaged in fishing but Solomon who has been described as a large portly man liked better to smoke a huge pipe: altho moved to plant three large Elms in front of his residence in commemoration of the birth of three sons. Later he decided and easier way of livelihood than even overseeing the tilling of his large farm or grinding corn for farmers was to turn the house into a Tavern where travellers along what was then known as the Turnpike could stop for rest and refreshment for travellers by stage coach, oxcart and on horseback were increasing and when his wife provided such refreshment as spicy gingerbread and cookies and Solomon added mugs of medford rum, they no doubt attracted many customers.
In fact by 1776 the household was greatly excited by the coming of a company of soldiers led by General Washington and further stirred as they stopped for refreshment, the General tieing his horse under the shade of the, by then, sizeable Elms. Even the small daughter Hannah remembered the event as long as she lived. It is further recorded of her that upon her marriage to a man named Merriman, her Father gave her a number of parcels of land among them the Joel Hill Farm later the property of the Holt brothers the old house home of William Holt probably the Merriman homestead. The Merrimans unlike most early families left no descendants and the others of Solomon’s heir’s have left only the house the great Elms to perpetrate the memory that the stones in the old part of Jordan Cemetery substantiate.
James Rogers I
This no doubt should have preceded the short biography of the sons, but beside some of the characteristics of the Father have been noted with that of the sons, we return to James Rogers the first noting that through the help of Governor Winthrop he was by 1666 assessed double as much as any other person in the Town that included New London and Waterford. He seems to have then reached the heights of his prosperity and popularity for soon after he became involved in a lawsuit with Mr. Wintrop, thereby suffering a reprimand from the general Court for laxity in grinding the farmers corn which must have been especially hard to bear since he had been of the Court Officials for six consecutive terms. Another cause of hostility was the leaving the Congregational Church then the ruling one throughout New England to join the Sabbartarians, largely the influence of his sons James and John. In fact they and other members of his large family became so enthusiastic with that faith, the members were for some years called Rogerines.
Their house of worship being in Waterford, Mr. Rogers looked about that Town for a building spot deciding upon Magonk as near the Church and also the Sound which offered much allurement to his sons as means of livelihood extending over many generations of his descendants. Therefore from the time he had decided to build, he transferred his activities from New London to his large land holding in Waterford and the establishment of the Church for all his belief, his zeal extending to those outside of its membership whom he tried to win my strenuous arguments, especially those who shared the use of the Church building, often it is said sitting on the doorstop to argue with the Preacher altho it is not recorded who with Philip Taber when he forced the Rev. Gorton from the pulpit, undoubtedly James both Jr. and Jr. as well as son John were among them.
All of which did not hinder the building of a sizeable gambrel roofed house, mostly of stone with large center beams and a number of fire places. Soon after moving from New London he began to dispose of some of his land holdings beginning with the 2400 acre tract in Groton which he had held with Col. John Pyncheon of Springfield and next the large grant in Montville gained from Uncas thro is being one of a committee on fortifications in the Indian war of 1675 while his Waterford holding extended from Jordan Cove or Robin Hoods Bay ( as has been previously noted) eastward to Alewife Cove.
As his sons married he provided homes for them, the first shown by a cellar built for his son John in 1679 while a short distance east of the driveway that led to the beautiful beach, the connection of the drive is broken by high stone pillars and a sizeable flower garden and many shrubs added to the beauty of a truly picturesque building spot so noticeable where later the immediate home was purchased by Mr. Erastrus N. Smith of Brooklyn Bridge fame, and ell was added to the west side bringing an inlet from the Sound yet closer to the terraced flower garden. Miss Mary Sussman, a teacher of art, painted a picture of house and grounds much cherished by the Smith Family.
As to the Rogers heirs, Jonathan born in Milford in 1656 was drowned near Gull Island trying to kill a seal Mar 2, 1678. His wife being Naomi daughter of the Burdicks of R.I. He followed the steps taken by his brothers James and John and was baptized in New London by Elder Hiscox of New port as there was then only a few Sabbatarians outside of R.I. Many of the houses yet standing in the Goshen section of Waterford were built by heirs of James Rogers even the Harkness Mansion was designed by James Gamble Rogers noted New York architect who like Mrs. Harkness can trace their ancestry back to the first James Rogers of Waterford whose will covers seven pages of sizeable paper so thoroughly itemized as to show that he was still a man of intellectual ability as well as spiritual foresight convinced as was Roger Williams of the need of the need of greater freedom of conscience willing to pay the price of loss of friends, suffer criticism, and ay the fines then exacted by the Congregationalists. His aggressiveness becoming more peaceful as the years passes helped no doubt as the Sabbatarians moved to a Church building farther west on land given by some of his descendants. He passed to his reward Feb. 1688.
(Handwritten on this pave is Mary Stillman Anderson but I don’t know if she is the author or not.)
James Rogers Jr. and the Waterford Mill.
According to records, some years before the division of Waterford from New London, one may find the extent of the large land holdings of James Rogers who came from Milford to settle in New London in 1658 and was soon after friendly with John Winthrop from whom he received the privilege to operate the Town Mill yet standing in New London. As he was a baker he secured the contact of making se biscuits for the many boats sailing from the New London harbor and also later for the Colonial troops so that he soon became a notable personage, and when later he added grinding corn for the farmers over a wide territory, it was little wonder that in 1666 he was assessed double as much as any other person.
Like other early settlers he had a large family among whom James Jr. appears to have been a favorite for altho he was a seafaring man, he was given a large tract of land in Waterford which probably stimulated his decision to sail to Ireland having with him a number of sailor lads whose purpose was to induce a number of redemptioners to embark to the New World where according to terms of the voyage, they would become betrothed of Captain James Rogers Jr.
There seems to have been no family objection to the simple marriage ceremony upon their arrival in Waterford, and very soon after the grant of land the sizeable two story house was built with the assistance of local builders and James many relatives, the roof having an octagon shaped cupola not only for ornament but also as a watch tower from which to watch the slaves working on the distant farm acres which then extended as far west as Jordan Cove and this now called Pleasure Beach.
To the house a number of buildings were added, a wood shed, corn house and out house after the manner yet common in northern New England and as yet customary house and outbuilding were painted white giving the estate the name White Hall Farm for many years.
Before the arrival of Mary Jordan the Rogers family had severed their connection with the Congregational Church in Milford and joined the Sabbatarians, James and John, his brother, being among the first converts in Rhode Island led the family to that decision which is cited as one reason of their building a home in Waterford where others of like faith built a Church on Pepperbox Hill, but as in other lands, the State Church sent their excise men to collect annual dues whatever the landowners faith might be which appeared to James Rogers Jr. and his fiery Irish wife an outrage, therefore as the excise men were rolling away a barrel of beef, James assisted by his wife threw scalding water upon them wich act so aroused the hostility of the town that James was obliged to stay on his farm for the protection of it, as well as that of his family and slaves.
His son James became the chief inheritor and also first Townsman of New London which there included Waterford. His advancement beyond that of his Father as a Townsman led him to develop his home tract making a driveway through it from east to west, marking the entrance with two high granite posts (yet standing 1947) and on the grass plot around the house, he planted fruit trees. Elms and old time shrubs including silver leafed maples whose dancing leaves still shimmer in the breeze. He with his wife became a member of the Congregational Church. Because of this and also of his having built a windmill in Ocean Avenue his Grandfather in 1712 gave him the grant to the Jordan Mill one tract was not only a lucrative one then, but that has continued to make Waterford history over a long period of years under many different managers for in 1727 james Rogers sold his homestead to Philip Taber for 2970 lbs. having moved to Norwalk the previous year. His reason for Selling his farm being largely due to the loss of his wife in 1713 due to his marriage to Freelove Hurlburt who owned a home there. Solomon Rogers one of his sons who lived in a house on the Post Road was an inheritor of the mill.