Location: Coventry Connecticut

Biography of Doctor Thomas S. Brigham

Doctor Thomas S. Brigham was the oldest son of Honorable Paul Brigham, and was born in Coventry, Conn., in 1769, coming to Norwich with his father when twelve years of age. After reaching his majority he studied medicine (with what practitioner is not known) possibly with Doctor Joseph Lewis. This was before the founding of Dartmouth Medical College. When about twenty-five years old Mr. Brigham married Polly Dana, born in 1769, a daughter of General James Dana, and settled in town, where he practiced his profession for several years previous to 1809, when he removed from Norwich, going to Amesbury, Mass., where he married for the second time, becoming the father of five children by this union. From Amesbury he removed to Maine, where he located as a practicing physician. While living in Norwich three sons and two daughters were born to Doctor Brigham. These children and their mother remained in Norwich after the husband and father removed from town, and the family were never reunited thereafter. Doctor Brigham is said to have attained considerable eminence in his profession. He died in...

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Biography of Paul Brigham

Hon. Paul Brigham, son of Paul and Catharine (Turner) Brigham, born in Coventry, Connecticut, January 17, 1746; married, October 3, 1767, Lydia Sawyer, of Hebron, Connecticut; came to Norwich from Coventry, in the spring of 1782, bringing his family with him, all of his children having been born in Connecticut. In 1788, he built the house on ”Brigham Hill,” for many years occupied by his great-granddaughter, the late Miss Louisa D. Brigham. The farm had been previously owned and occupied by Elihu Baxter. In what esteem Mr. Brigham was held by the people of his adopted state and town, is shown under appropriate heads in other places in this volume. Captain Paul Brigham in the Revolutionary Army, June-August 1777. Mr. Brigham served four years as Captain in the Continental Army in a Connecticut regiment commanded, first, by Colonel Chandler and afterwards by Colonel Isaac Sherman. He entered the Army January 1, 1777, and was discharged April 22, 1781. A portion of the time he served under the immediate command of Washington, and was engaged in the important battles of Germantown, Monmouth, and Fort Mifflin. He was enlisted by General McDougal from Coventry, Conn., and his regiment seems to have been largely composed of men from that section of the State. We have been privileged to read a fragment of a diary kept by Captain Brigham during a part of his...

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Migration of Families out of Norwich VT

At the first enumeration of the inhabitants of eastern Vermont, as made by the authority of New York in 1771, Norwich was found to be the most populous of all the towns of Windsor County, having forty families and 206 inhabitants. Windsor followed with 203, and Hartford was third with 190. The aggregate population of the county (ten towns reported) was then but 1,205, mostly confined to the first and second tiers of towns west of the Connecticut River. Twenty years later, in 1791, Hartland led all the towns of the county with 1,652 inhabitants, Woodstock and Windsor coming next with 1,605 and 1,542 respectively. Exceptional causes made the little town of Guilford (now numbering scarcely more than one thousand inhabitants), till after the year 1800, the most populous town in the state. In Norwich, the great falling off in the size of families in recent years is seen in the fact, that in the year 1800, the number of children of school age was 604, out of a total population of 1,486, while in 1880 with a nearly equal population (1,471) it was but 390. In the removal of large numbers of the native-born inhabitants by emigration, we must find the principal cause of the decline of our rural population. Preeminently is this true of Norwich. The outflow of people began very early and now for more than...

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First Settlements in Norwich Vermont

Having glanced thus briefly at the action of the Norwich proprietors in opening a way to reach their new township in the wilderness, and in dividing up a portion of its surface into lots suitable to become the homesteads of future settlers, let us pause a moment and see what had meantime been done in the work of actual settlement. I am indebted to Rev. Edmund F. Slafter of Boston for an interesting account of what was unquestionably the first attempt at settlement made within the limits of the town. I quote from the Slafter Memorial: “Samuel Slafter [of Mansfield, Connecticut], the father of John Slafter, being an original proprietor, and being at the first meeting chosen treasurer of the corporation, took a deep interest in the settlement of the town. At his suggestion, his son John made a journey through the forests of New Hampshire in 1762, to examine the territory and report upon the advantages it might offer as a place of settlement. He found it pleasantly situated on the western banks of the Connecticut, with a good soil, but for the most part of an uneven, hilly surface. He reported it well watered, not only by the Connecticut but by several small, clear streams, and by one more important one called the Ompompanoosuc, an Indian name signifying ‘the place of very white stones’ whose waters emptied...

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