While on my road trip, I stopped into the New London Co Historical Society to visit the library and see what other info I could find. While there I looked through a roll of microfilm that was a collection of articles compiled by Richard B Wall on the history of the county. I found a few on the Rogers family. Here is a transcription of one. xxx’s are parts I can’t read:
Published: 1915, article 231 of the Articles compiled by Richard B Wall.
Stories of Waterford
Some Traditions of the Rogers Family By R.B. Wall
It used to be said in the memory of aged persons now living that everybody in Great Neck was either a Rogers, a Beebe or a Beckwith. For more than 200 years the Rogers family was more numerous in its various branches than any other. Many of the name belonged to the Sabbatarians, while a few were associated with other denominations. The first James Rogers who came from England and settled in New London, where he soon proved to be influential, spent his last days in Great Neck. He was one of the first to show his independence in religious matters by not associated himself with the only church in town where everybody was supposed to go and worship God whether he liked the service or not. For this he was brought into court and fined over and over again. Much of his money went in that way, but it is not the purpose of the writer to dwell on the persecutions that he suffered because he would not accept the doctrines of the Puritan church. It is possible that he removed from the town plot to Great Neck, the whole of which he is said to have owned and fenced in because of persecution. There is a tradition that he was buried at the Strand, a summer place near Long Island Sound.
James Rogers of Stern Mold
James Rogers, a grandson of the first James Rogers, lived in what is now called the Brigham place, and he was the father of a large family of boys and girls. As a rule the boys followed the sea and were notable mariners. Stevens Rogers, sailing master of the Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic belonged to this family. James, grandson of James Rogers who came from England and who as before stated lived on what is now the Brigham place, was a very strict parent and one of his many sons is reported to have said that he never saw his father show any real affection for his children but once. It seems that the boys went to school in a small building that stood on the west side of pepper box hill and to reach it they had to cross the meadow and woodland that lay between it and home.
Lost in a Snow Storm
One winter morning after the Rogers boys had reached the school house the snow began to fall and before the close of the day’s session, it was very deep. The school master was solicitous about them and hope they would reach home in safety. The density of the storm brought on the night before it’s time and in the depths of the woodland the boys could not see their way. After walking hither and thither in vain endeavor to reach the meadows that lay beyond, they became exhausted and sought shelter under the branches of a fallen tree, where they huddled together and were quite comfortable in the shelter. The snow xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx sound of a human voice and they xxxx for its repetition. Again they heard a voice nearer than before and they recognized xxxx to be their father’s. They scrambled out from beneath the branches of the tree and halleed a reply to their parent’s call and they were soon beside him.
James Rogers must have been a powerful man for he carried his three boys home. One bestrode his broad shoulders, another clasped his waist with feet and hand while the third hugged his neck from the front and the father ploughed through the drifts over the wind swept plain and rested not till he reached his home. The sons were always under strict orders to rise in the morning at the first crowing of the cock when they had to begin their day’s work. Some of them at least did not enjoy rising at such at early hour and they conspired to cut the tongue of every rooster so that their father would not hear the signal of the cocks and they could lie in their snug beds a little longer.
The Rogers boys removed the tongues of all the roosters and that night they went to bed and slept later in the morning than had been their wont. Their father was not long in discovering that his sons did not rise from their beds as early as usual and he called them to account for it. Accustomed to getting up early in his younger days he would awake as soon as his sons and knew their movements. Calling them together before they appeared at the breakfast table he demanded to know just why they did not arise when the cock crew in conformity to his orders. The boys replied that the roosters had been silent about announcing the dawn and finally confessed their guilt.
Worked His Sons Without Pay
James Rogers, the father, is said to have kept his sons at work on the farm till they were past their majority without paying them wages. Just how many of his sons went to sea and how many remained at home till the farm tradition failed to specify, but to those who worked the farm until they were grown men tradition tells this story: One day a son past 21 asked his father for a monthly wage, averring that he wished to have some money like other young men. The father said he had not made up his mind on that point and he would not state then what his future intentions were to be. The son was indignant and told his father then and there that he would sue him for back wager and carried his case to court and won it. Thinking his father would disown him for his summary method of obtaining reimbursement for labor the son made up his mind to leave the paternal roof and seek employment elsewhere. He had many traits of his tribe. He had constructive industry, was exact in speech, just in his relations toward God and man, steadiness of character and more sympathetic than his father. He had come home from the court alone and did not see the defendant in his case until he was ready to leave home.
Surprised By His Father
Young Rogers had gently but firmly declined to grant his mother’s entreaties to remain. He had kissed her and his sisters and had embraced his brothers xxxxx he turned into the highway and walked to the northward with scarce an idea as to his destination. As he rounded a curve in the road not many rods from his home he met his father face to face and he was not a little astonished when his parent extended his hand which contained a paper. The son opened xxxx congratulate you my son for winning your case and xxxxxxxx act and will said the father and there was a kindly tone to his words as he spoke. This place is now (1915) owned by E.C. Hammond.
Stevens Rogers, Master Mariner
There are many old and middle aged people in this city who will recall Capt. Stevens Rogers, sailing master of the Savannah, the first steam vessel to cross the Atlantic Ocean. He is better remembered as a tax collector and as a Bible carrier in Masonic processions. None know personally of his sailor days because he was master of sailing vessels plying between New York and European ports. His son James was also master of many ocean going merchant ships. As a tax collector, Stevens Rogers used to advertise that he would be at certain stores in the city on specified days when he would be pleased to received taxes and if everybody did not come he would call at their houses.
Stevens Rogers, the son of Stevens Rogers was born in Great Neck on a farm now in the possession of E.S. Harkness. Many of his ancestors had been notable navigators and from his early boyhood he had a craving for the sea. The water of Long Island sound were before him daily from the time he was a toddling child and the sight of ships sailing up and down was the most pleasing spectacle to him when was a rugged lad he worked in the fields along the shore. He would be a sailor but his father and mother strove hard to eliminate the idea from his mind. He was the only boy in the family and his father wanted him to take charge of the place when he got too old to work, while his mother thought the sea had claimed too many of the Rogers family and that if it should now swallow up her son if she could help it.
Sent to Plainfield Academy
Stevens much against his will was sent to Plainfield Academy to get a higher education but he did not get along very well because his mind was on the sea and not in the study of grammar, mathematics and rhetoric. One day he collected his books and without telling the principal he started for New London. When he got off the ferryboat he hastened up Water Street asking every sea captain if he wanted a cabin boy and meeting with no success. As he stood Hallam Street looking northward he spied some smaller vessels than those that were tied up to the Water street wharves. One was being loaded with staves and hoops and baled hay. He straightaway sought the captain who said he would take him along but he must have his father’s verbal consent first.
Hurrying along toward home Stevens wondered how his parents would feel when they saw him and knew what had had done. Reaching the homestead he walked in with a confident stride and after embracing his father and mother he frankly told what he had done and asked for their forgiveness. He pleaded to be allowed to go to sea as he knew that was his calling. After a while he got their consent and the next morning he rode with this father into the city to see Captain Blinn for that was the name of the master of the vessel. Captain Blinn and the father of Stevens proved to be old-time friends and were glad to see each other. “Now Captain,” said Stevens’ father, “I want you to make that boy as sick of the water as is possible. Neither myself nor my wife wishes him to be a sailor and you will do me a great favor to discharge the youngster of the sea habit.”
Meets British Man-o-War’s man
The vessel sailed for Cuba and on the way she was stopped by a British war vessel which had fired a shot across her bow xxxxx a Leutenant xxxxxxxxxxxx officer threatened to impress him, but xxxxxxx Captain Blinn who said that it was his own fault and not the boy’s as he had forgotten to call at the custom house before leaving New London the officer returned to his ship. Stevens had a shipmate print an eagle and an American Flag on his arm before the vessel reached Havana. On the return voyage the ship was again stopped and boarded by an officer from an English warship and as before everyone but Stevens had his papers. “Where are your credentials?” thundered the officer, addressing Stevens. “These are my credentials,” replied the young sailor as he bared his arm and placed his fingers on the flag and eagle.
Rogers Locomotive Builder
Thomas Rogers, founder of the Rogers Locomotive works at Paterson, N.J. was a native of Waterford where he grew up on a farm. He had a relative, Jason Rogers, who was a blacksmith with a shop in Water Street, this city and with him young Thomas learned the trade, boarding with Jason at his home in Main Street. The first night he was told that being the youngest apprentice it was his duty to rise early in the morning and boil the kettle. Thomas was out of bed early and was soon busy making a fire in the kitchen. Jason heard a commotion downstairs a little later and hastily dressing himself he repaired to the kitchen. He laughed heartily as he viewed the situation, while Thomas stood one side as mum as an oyster. The great pot hung on the crane in the fireplace and in it was a small kettle sailing around in the superheated water which boiling over hissed and sputtered on the coals. “What in thunderation are you a-doing?” shouted Jason though vainly trying to suppress his merriment. “I done just as you told me to,” said Thomas.
After serving his time Thomas Rogers drifted to Paterson and in the course of time he founded the locomotive works which still bears his name. He used to come to New London after he made a notable record in the business world and once he said that a thousand men were on his payrolls. He often referred to the happening at Jason’s house on the first morning of his stay there.