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Rev. Kellogg's 1800 Letter (Updated Text)

In 1800 Rev. Ebenezer Kellogg, the first pastor of the Vernon Congregational Church, responded to a questionnaire sent to each of the towns in Connecticut. His letter describes North Bolton eight years before it became Vernon and just as we began to transition from an agrarian to an industrial community.

Kellogg's letter was filed away and forgotten for nearly 200 years; its existence unknown to anyone in town. Now we have an opportunity to see the town as it was in the beginning.

This is the Rev. Ebenezer Kellogg's description of 1800 Vernon, dated September 6, 1800 as published in "Voices of the New Republic: Connecticut Towns 1800-1832, Volume I: What They Said" - by The Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2003.

Our language and spelling was much different in 1800 than today. This version of the letter has been modified and section headings added to make it easier to read.

» Read Rev. Kellogg's letter as published in the original text.

The Letter

Sir, In compliance with your request, I send you the information I have obtained and what I know relative to the history, geography etc. of the Society in which I live.

Early Bolton

I-84 at Exit 66

I would first observe that the town of Bolton, by its record at the time of the first settlers, was called Hartford mountains. The first matter of record I find on the Town Books is the following, which I transcribe at large: "William Pitkin Esq. These are to desire you to run out and measure the sundry lines about the Lots in the mountain plantations, that thereby the said lots may be by you regularly bounded out, that no wrong may happen to the settlers upon them. Hartford, Apr. 2, 1719, James Wadsworth, John Hooker, John Hall, Hez Brainard."

The next thing recorded in said records, is a deed of conveyance of land by John Bishop in which the place of his abode is thus expressed: "Living at the place called Hartford Mountains, in the County of Hartford". Which deed was authenticated in July, 1719.

The next thing on record is a deed of land given by "Abel Shaler in the town of Bolton," dated Apr. 26, 1721.

These I have mentioned are the first three filings which stand recorded on Bolton Town records. By them it appears, that there was at least one settler in the town, as early as in the Summer of 1719 and that the Town took the name of Bolton sometime between that date and 1721. But as I did not design to give an account of the whole Town, (supposing the Rev. G. Colton will send you concerning the part of the Town in which he lives) I shall speak only of the Society in which I live.

North Bolton

North Bolton, in the County of Tolland, and State of Connecticut is, in extent from North to South 5 miles, and from East to West about 4. It is bounded North on the town of Ellington, East on Tolland and Coventry, South on Bolton and East Hartford and West on East Windsor.

The tract of Land comprised in this Society, before the year 1760, belonged to the towns of Bolton and East Windsor - about 3/4 to the former. It was constituted an Ecclesiastical Society by the legislature of the then Colony at their fall Session in 1760; and in 1789 the Windsor part of the Parish by an act of the General Assembly of the State [at the] May session was annexed to the Town of Bolton.

The first planter in this Society, and indeed in the town of Bolton, was one Stephen Johns from England. He pitched down on a valley in the wilderness (as a daughter of his, who yet surviving informed me, in the year 1716; supposing the land on which he settled to be in Tolland. He lived there several years before there were any other inhabitants on lands which fall in the bounds of this Society. Some of the first settlers in this Parish were from Bolton, Coventry, Hartford & Windsor.

The first and present Gospel-Minister in this Society, was ordained on the 24th day of November 1762. There are at present in it 130 families, six school districts, and as many School-Houses; in which children are taught the Rudiments of common learning the main part of the year by a Master for four or five months in the cold seasons, at a price of 8 or 10 Dollars per month, exclusive of his board and by a Mistress the other seasons at the price of 4 Dollars and .50 Cents per month exclusive of board.


The land on the east part of the Society is mountainous; interspersed with valleys. Some ledges of rocks—considerably stony. The west part, in general, is level and not too much encumbered with stone. The wood and timber at the time of the first planters were rather poor, except on the highland on the east part of the Society, which were good. The growth on the other parts, principally, was low pitch or yellow pines intermixed with small black and white oaks and chestnuts, and many patches with shrub oaks.

The poor growth of wood at that time was occasioned by fire, which for many years burnt over the lands. The Indians in their day to procure feed for their game or other purposes; and after them the people of some adjoining Towns for pasture for their cattle annually put fire to the woods, which killed the greatest part of the growth. The fires being prevented, in a few succeeding years, the growth of oaks, chestnuts, some walnuts and other kinds of wood over-topped and mainly destroyed the smaller and less useful growths becoming fine groves of wood.

Many groves at present stand thick with chestnuts of a good size, out of which are cut timber for rails and other uses, which furnish the fields with fence and many loads of rails for market, which are annually transported to Hartford and Windsor the distance of 10 & 12 miles and sold from 4 to 5 Dollars per hundred. Posts for rail fence, both white oak and chestnut, some oak boards, ships planks and wood for fire, also annually are carried from this place to Hartford.

The growth of wood after curing and clearing (if suffered to grow) rather improves; and wood at present is in good plenty for fuel and other uses and if cut with prudence will continue so for ages to come. The common price of oak wood is one Dollar per cord.


The soil in different parts of the Society is, principally, of two kinds. The eastern part is generally a blackish dirt intermixed with gravel and stone, in some spots a little clay. It is natural for grass and good for pasture and mowing. There is also a good proportion of tolerable plow-land. The western part in general is of a loamy soil intermixed in some places with gravel or sand.

Both parts of the Society, when new, or fertilized with manure, produce Wheat, from 15 to 20 Bushels per acre, but generally the old improved lands are sown with Rye, which yield from 7 to 12 Bushels per acre. The year after the crop of Wheat or Rye is taken off, the fields are planted with Indian corn, and some potatoes and the next year sown with oats and flax, and frequently stocked down with red clover or herds grass seed, or both together for mowing or pasture, which answer for one or other of these purposes three or four years, then it is usually fallowed for Rye etc. In this rotation the arable lands are generally cultivated by the farmers.

The produce of Indian corn per acre, is from 12 to 25 bushels. The quantity of flax annually raised, upon an average is a competent supply for home consumption. The moist and swampy parts and low lands near streams of water are improved for mowing and pasturing. The higher land in many places, when enriched with manure produces a good burden of excellent hay.

The principal manure used is, stable and barnyard dung; Plaster of Paris is made some use of, and has a surprising effect on warm dry land in the production of red clover, Indian corn, and other grain.

The cultivation of land is with oxen, but ofttimes with a horse or horses harnessed before them. The Plough made use of and preferred by the farmers, is what they call the Dutch Plough. It is constructed with one handle, its share rises high on the fore-end of the Chip or bottom piece is fastened on with an iron bolt which comes up through the beam; it has no Coulter. The harrows in use, are small timbers framed in a triangular form and set with iron teeth. Ox carts are principally in use, there may be in the place 8 or 9 Ox Wagons. The latter are preferred for carrying loads to a distance; but accounted not so convenient for short movements on a farm.

Orchards are considerably numerous and improving. It's supposed there are made in the Society annually about 2600 barrels of cider, priced from 1 to 1 dollar 50 cents per barrel.


This Society is well watered by many brooks, small rivulets & springs, which by intersecting roads, afford great convenience of water to most of the inhabitants. There is scarcely a Farm but what is accommodated with lasting water.

The principal stream of water in the Parish, is known by the Indian name of Hokkanum: It has its source out of a large Pond, called by the Indians, and still called Snipsick Pond. This Pond lies in the N.W. corner of Tolland, and near the N.E. corner of this Society. The greatest part of the Pond is in Tolland. It is about two miles in length and half mile in breadth. The stream from this fountain takes its course westerly, and with considerable descent, in a serpentine manner runs over rocks and stones about a mile and a half; and then turns a southern course on smoother ground, leaving the Parish by cutting a little on the corner of East Windsor, then enters the town of East Hartford in Orford Society (Manchester), and makes its way by many windings to the Connecticut River, into which it empties near the meeting house in East Hartford. This river in its general course may be from 20 to 30 feet in width; in common seasons. It is remarkable for mill seats, and on which in its length, there are many mills of various kinds.

The next stream for bigness is called by its Indian name, Tankkerrooson, on which stands several mills. Wells, which afford good water for all uses, are obtained by digging from 15 to 25 feet.


The Society is well accommodated with mills of the following kinds: 5 Grist mills, 6 Saw mills, one fulling mill with other apparatus of the Clothiers business, one linseed-oil mill, one Cotton Factory for the spinning & twisting of cotton yarn built by and on the property of a Mr. Warburton, a few years since from England, who is of uncommon mechanical genius. This factory is now of considerable business and increasing.

There are 4 Stills worked in this Society, one of which is of large capacity. It contains 8 [hdds?] principally used in distilling Gin from rye, the product of which in the present year 1800 is 3,117 Gallons. The others employed in distilling Cider into Brandy.

The Butter and Cheese carried to market, annually, is conjectured to be, (I cannot obtain the exact weight) about 2,000 wt of each. Grains of all kinds, (but principally rye) that is carried to market may be about 1500 bushels. Pork that is marketed, yearly, is supposed to be about 15,000 wt or 75 barrels. Of sheep's wool we have a sufficiency for home consumption and some to spare.

It's difficult, if not impossible, for me to obtain exact information of these things; therefore with the aid of the opinion of some others of the Society, I have stated as above.

There are 146 oxen in this Society, which with those that are younger subjected to the yoke, together with horses—tis supposed make about 80 working Teams.

Within 30 years past, the price of land has risen four double.

There are but two taverns in the Society.

If the preceding information will be of utility in any respect, it will be grateful to your humble Servant Ebenezer Kellogg.

North Bolton
September 6,1800

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