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Lou Sorrentino: Local History

Historic Site advised by Ph.D. to State Archeologist - June 12, 2013

The foundations of Beebe's mills on both sides of majestic Chapman Falls, Devils Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, CT serve as a reminder to guard our civil liberties such as Freedom of Speech, especially when the powers that be tell us they must be compromised in the name of preserving Liberty. In late 2012, this compelling Revolutionary War history story and authenticity of it's related artifacts was finally verified by an academic study. CT State Archeologist Nick Bellantoni supports this research, stating ''We have the mill, we have the stone and we have a wonderful story to go with it. It talks about people's attitudes toward each other at the beginning of the Revolutionary War and to tie it to an artifact is pretty cool.'' Best-selling Revolutionary War author Ray Raphael wrote " You've got a juicy piece of material history there, and in my mind reasonable linking to tell a big story."

Initially published in a full-page of the New York Times on 1/4/2004 titled Uncovering A Millstone Who Done It, this story concerns what happened to an English Loyalist named Abner Beebe and his gristmill in 1774. There are striking parallels evident between mob abuse in the name of Liberty in colonial times, and actions of the US government  today. The “Mob”, or “Sons of Liberty” violently enforced their local Committee of Association’s findings, even when the only offense was expressing a politically unpopular opinion. It was so common that even General George Washington approved of humiliating outspoken English Loyalist when Connecticut’s General Israel Putnam spoke out against it. For example, Abner Beebe’s uncle Jonathan was very outspoken against the Revolution, declaring that the Boston Massacre's General Gage was right in shooting at the crowd, and anyone against it deserved to have their bowels cut out.  The East Haddam Committee of Association voted Jonathan, Abner and his father William Beebe “inimical.” In effect, no one could do business with them legally and, in effect, there was no court to appeal to.

The English government in 1774 had suspended jury trials in America, choosing to send political prisoners outside America back to Britian for trials, where the government had more control. The first American version of the Bill of Rights was proclaimed as the “Declaration and Resolves” in October by the First Continental Congress of 1774.  This was a futile attempt to convince the existing English government to obey it’s own Constitution.

As a true English Loyalist, “Doct. Abner Beebe” was quoted in the Connecticut Gazette.  He “refused to be tried by said Bill of Rights”,  "the government “had a right to make whatever laws they pleased” and it was our “Duty to obey” ” Concerning representation he asserted that “they that had a mind to go back might be represented at home."  His words backfired.

Per "Origins and Progress of the American Rebellion" by Peter Oliver, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court which tried the Boston Massacre, the so-called Sons of Liberty took away  liberty in the name of liberty. In "February 1775 - A Parish Clerk of an Episcopal Church at East Haddum in Connecticut, a Man of 70 Years of Age, was taken out of his Bed in a Cold Night, & beat against his Hearth by Men who held him by his Arms & Legs. He was then laid across his Horse, without his Cloaths, & drove to a consid­erable Distance in that naked Condition. His Nephew Dr. Abner Beebe, a Physician, complained of the bad Usage of his Uncle, & spoke very freely in Favor of Government; for which he was assaulted by a Mob, stripped naked, & hot Pitch was poured upon him, which blistered his Skin. He was then carried to a Hog Sty & rubbed over with Hogs Dung. They threw the Hog's Dung in his Face, & rammed some of it down his Throat; & in that Condition exposed to a Company of Women. His House was at­tacked, his Windows broke, when one of his Children was sick, & a Child of his went into Distraction upon this Treatment. His Gristmill was broke, & Persons prevented from grinding at it, & from having any Connections with him. All these events occurred prior to the Battle of Lexington, when the rebels say the Rebellion began."

Centuries later, history repeated itself.  Accepted local history and customs were challenged with much controversy by this story becoming pubic knowledge. Striking parallels to the Sons of Liberty's treatment of Dr. Abner Beebe came out of heated public controversy by a local non-profit's lay committee.They challenged the research which re-wrote their long-cherished local folklore in 2007. As Beebe was just a doctor, the committee posed that the person who initiated the research was just a health professional, not a historian. The committee demanded even more verification even though a joint panel of DEEP experts and leaders of the local committee had already voted to accept the research and signage had been posted. Under this pressure, the DEEP had the newly posted signage taken down, called for independent verification by a historian and a planned display was put on hold.  Even so, the story was so compelling that the colonial millstone had to be removed from the falls by the DEEP for the safety of the many people who took the risk of climbing over the fence to see it. The colonial era broken millstone was actually removed from the site and is still withheld from public view in an undisclosed location.  Per the Chief of Bureau of Outdoor Recreation for the State of CT, "It was removed from the stream due to public safety concerns for the individuals who tried to climb into the water to get a first hand look and, for fear that the stone would be stolen or vandalized."

Six years later, the research verified by an academic study. application for inclusion on Historical Registers and public education projects have have been proposed to the DEEP and State Archeologist by the 2012 academic study. If you want to support guarding our civil liberties such as Freedom of Speech by having this story preserved, let CT State Archeologist Nick Bellantoni know. (Nicholas.bellantoni@uconn.edu) and Lou Sorrentino(lou.sorrentino@gmail.com)

Historical Importance of Devil's Hopyard, - September 26, 2012



Historical Importance of Beebe's Mills at Chapman Falls, Devil’s Hopyard State Park

The story of Beebe's Mills at Chapman Falls illustrates the conflicts of average people during the Revolutionary War era, and presents a wonderful way to teach history using both archeological and colonial document research. The Founders later crafted the Bill of Rights to insure similar atrocities were not committed in the name of Liberty.

The 1775 destruction of the gristmill at Chapman Falls in Devil’s Hopyard State Park by supporters of the cause of Liberty was verified via "Origins and Progress of the American Rebellion" by Peter Oliver, 1781, a Primary Source not widely published until the 1960’s. (1) This confirms and adds detail to Dr. Abner Beebe’s 1775 Connecticut Gazette newspaper claim that “the people of East Haddam” did “damage to my person” and “violent destruction of private property”  "as a result of late mentioned vote", "to withdraw commerce", was because his loyalty to England. (2) Then, as now, loyalties determined perspective. For example, Col. Joseph Spencer, in asking for advice in his 1774 letter to Governor Trumbull, wrote that Dr. Beebe was given “the new fashion dress of tar and feathers” by people who had high “zeal” “for what is called Liberty”. He added they visited Beebe several times, but he refused to say anything to give them “satisfaction”, and “without help from abroad”, he was unable to protect him. (3) There is no record Governor Trumbull ever answered. This is not surprising, since Origin and Progress also describes Governor Trumbull being "as relentless as the Mob." Rev. Samuel Peters, the Beebe family’s Episcopal Loyalist minister, had applied in vain to Trumbull for help after his house in Hebron was attacked and he was taken to "one of their Liberty Poles". (4) When Connecticut’s General Israel Putnam tried to stop similar mob action by the Sons of Liberty, George Washington reprimanded him, saying they were engaged in the “cause of liberty.” (5) The description of a Mob in the text below verifies the Beebe story, and judges their actions very differently. It is the last entry in Peter Oliver's Origin and Progess of the American Rebellion 1781 manuscript, one purpose of which was to show how the Mob behaved, and so justify England’s violent suppression of the Rebellion.

"February 1775 - A Parish Clerk of an Episcopal Church at East Haddum in Connecticut, a Man of 70 Years of Age, was taken out of his Bed in a Cold Night, & beat against his Hearth by Men who held him by his Arms & Legs. He was then laid across his Horse, without his Cloaths, & drove to a consid­erable Distance in that naked Condition. His Nephew Dr. Abner Beebe, a Physician, complained of the bad Usage of his Uncle, & spoke very freely in Favor of Government; for which he was assaulted by a Mob, stripped naked, & hot Pitch was poured upon him, which blistered his Skin. He was then carried to a Hog Sty & rubbed over with Hogs Dung. They threw the Hog's Dung in his Face, & rammed some of it down his Throat; & in that Condition exposed to a Company of Women. His House was at­tacked, his Windows broke, when one of his Children was sick, & a Child of his went into Distraction upon this Treatment. His Gristmill was broke, & Persons prevented from grinding at it, & from having any Connections with him. All these events occurred prior to the Battle of Lexington, when the rebels say the Rebellion began." (1)

East Haddam lang records confirm the gristmill and sawmill at Chapman Falls were owned in the period by Abner Beebe, an Episcopal physician. The fact that the mills are on opposite sides, but had common interests, can illustrate the Colonists’ dilemma. No matter what side people were on, business and family interests came first. The property on which the mills stand was deeded on 3/21/1774 by Abner Beebe to John Chapman, (6) his brother-in-law via Abner’s sister Ann, wife of John's brother Jabez. (7) The true intent of the transfers may be inferred by the fact that, after the War, Beebe regained title to the mills, escaping the legal confiscation of Tory estates late in the War. (6-c) Beebe continued buying and selling property with the Chapmans, and remained owner of the mills, until his death in 1801. (6-a)

John’s brother Jabez Chapman was also on the key Committee of Association, (or Inspection) modeled by the First Continental Congress in September 1774. The Committees published who was “inimical” (enemy), and prohibited business being done with them. Despite the fact that England was still the official government, such Committees were the real governing power. Often, groups alternately called “Mob”, or “Sons of Liberty” violently enforced the Committee’s findings, even when the only offense was expressing a politically unpopular opinion. (7-a) Although the “Sons” started as a distinct group in the 1760s, by 1774 the distinction between them and mobs became blurred. Near age 70 in 1775, Abner's uncle Jonathan Beebe was very outspoken against the Revolution, declaring that the Boston Massacre's General Gage was right in shooting at the crowd, and anyone against it deserved to have their bowels cut out. The East Haddam Committee of Association voted Jonathan, Abner and his father William Beebe “inimical”.  (7-b) With the prospects of no business, and the “new fashion dress of tar and feathers”, all three apparently toned down their talk. Several Beebes recanted, and restored to favor when confessions were published in the Connecticut Gazette. (7-c)

Abner's brother Asa refused to recant, despite also being tarred and feathered, (8-a) and left to settle in Vermont. He was a lay reader for the local Episcopal Parish, as recorded by Beebe’s minister, the renowned Rev. Samuel Peters. Jonathan Beebe was about 70 in 1775, (8-b) so it's likely Abner’s uncle Jonathan was the same Parish Clerk mentioned in Origin and Progress. (8-c) The Church of Englands' Episcopal ministers urged their members to oppose the Rebellion. For taking this risky stance, several in his Loyalist (Tory) congregation were tarred and feathered, and one almost killed. He also encouraged the Beebes and others to write narratives of their sufferings.  (7-a) No record their complaints has been found. Unlike the three Beebe’s who stayed, after Rev. Peters and his house were attacked by a “Mob”, which he also called the “Sons of Liberty”, (8-d)he escaped to live in London where Peter Oliver wrote, likely transmitting the Beebe’s tale. Origin and Progress’ Appendix, pg. 154, also records this same incident, adding Rev. Samuel Peters was taken to "one of their Liberty Poles".  Rev. Samuel Peters’ abandoned homestead in Hebron is another of the many interesting local sites related to the Revolutionary War. Like the two beautiful stone bridges near Chapman Falls which are on the Historic Register, Beebe’s mills, with their colorful history and extant artifacts, are in good company.

The first American publication of the mills’ tradition was traced to a Connecticut Advertizer newspaper article of 1881 which explained the "large millstone" which "most visitors at Chapman Falls have noticed" this way; "revolutionists broke open the mill and rolled the principal stone down the falls". (9-a) This closely matches the 1781 Origin and Progress manuscript which specifies that Beebe's “gristmill was broke and persons prevented from grinding at it”. Period context of this phrasing is revealing. A 1781 petition by people of nearby Longmeadow, MA describing a common similar incident, is worded this way; "Seize on private property where necessary, and in some Instances prevent people from using their property in such a manner as essentially to injure the whole...Many things were done by the people and their Committees, which could not be justified..." (9-b) The most likely manner to prevent people from grinding would be to remove a gristmill’s millstone, thus adding credibility to the later Connecticut Advertizer account of 1881 about Abner Beebe's millstone. Over the years the tradition evolved, illustrating the importance of mainly using Primary Sources from the time of an incident. For example, an unlikely folklore detail of the early 20th century named a Captain Aaron Fox as the Sons of Liberty leader who personally threw millstones into the falls in the attack. (9-c) Close inspection revealed that the local Aaron Fox was merely eleven at the time, and only became a Captain in the War of 1812.(9-d) A review of the family tree revealed a Eunice Beebe marrying the real Aaron Fox. (9-e) It is feasible that the eleven year old Aaron Fox witnessed the Beebe family's 1775 horrific assault. The attack by the Mob (or Sons of Liberty, depending on the source) occurred in front of Beebe’s children, one of which “went into distraction”, as Origin and Progress specifies. (1) Purely romantic speculation demonstrating the development of folklore might find the young Aaron Fox meeting his future bride Eunice Beebe while they witnessed the gristmill attack as children, and passing on the story as a heroic family tradition.

Another example of speculative folklore resulted in several millstones now in the lawn at the caretaker’s residence near Chapman Falls being wrongly attributed to the event. The myth of "Aaron Fox's millstone" and it's related photo were erroneously published in the otherwise noteworthy guide to Connecticut State Parks titled  A Shared Landscape. Recent archeological evaluation revealed quarter-dress design markings from a later, post-colonial period on the two millstones in the lawn, excluding them as related artifacts. This left the sickle-furrowed dress colonial era millstone fragment found in Chapman Falls down-slope from the gristmill in 2002 the only possible candidate found nearby. The furrows on the colonial millstone are also not completely worn down, as they would be if simply worn by use. (10-b) The theoretical possibility that the gristmill ruin's stones, or the one colonial era millstone found downslope, have some other origin is remote. With these understandings of the historical and archeological evidence, and the the colonial era millstone found downslope from the gristmill is linked to it. The millstone story was so compelling that it had to be removed from the falls for the safety of the many people who took the risk of climbing over the fence to see it, and avoid vandalism. (10-c)The millstone is now planned to be on loan from the DEP, to be part of an exhibit of the East Haddam Historical Society, in it’s new museum building.

The Beebe's Mills at Chapman Falls story received national attention in the New York Times article of 1/25/04 titled “Uncovering A Millstone Who-Done-It.” (11-a) After extensive investigation by a joint panel of historical and archeological professionals, the DEP, and lay persons, signage was posted at Chapman Falls by the State of Connecticut DEP commemorating the Beeb's mills' history in 2005, and a future display officially announced. (11-b) In a striking parallel to the Committee of Association’s treatment of Dr. Abner Beebe, heated public controversy by a local non-profit’s lay committee challenged this re-writing of long-cherished local folklore by the distinguished joint panel. In 2005 the leader of the a local park lay committee began publishing the unsupported claim that the new research had "major flaws", without citing any specifics. (11-c) The original govenment supporters of the project then left State service. Suddenly, with nothing about the research proven wrong, the signage was taken down without consulting the distinguished joint panel, and the millstone removed from the falls. DEP qualified this reversal by writing; "If at a time in the future, evidence linking the millstone to the event is brought to light and is verifiable by the State Archaeologist and the State Historic Preservation Office, the agency will reconsider its position...The State Parks Division would be happy to consider an exhibit, at such time..." (11-d).

In 2007 new research verifying the mills’ story was found in the 1781 Primary Source, Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion, and was confirmed by the Connecicut State Historian who wrote this was "exactly what is needed to help clinch the argument."  (12-a) While no one piece of the evidence verifies the whole story 100%, when considered together, the evidence is compelling. Re-evaluation of the millstone by an independent Staff Archeologist of the Kentucky Heritage Council concluded "You can still comment in interpretative materials at the park that the position and condition of the millstone seem to verify the story." His examination of photos of the archeological evidence proved was the only candidate found in the immediate area with design markings from the colonial era (10-b), thus linking it to the event. Even the best-selling Revolutionary War historian Ray Raphael, after reviewing the new evidence, wrote;  "We use physical artifacts as a means of telling significant tales, and that can certainly be done in this case... Again, you've got a juicy piece of material history there, and in my mind reasonable linking to tell a big story." (12-b) The Conneciticut State Archeologist turned out to be correct when he first concluded that ''We have the mill, we have the stone and we have a wonderful story to go with it. It talks about people's attitudes toward each other at the beginning of the Revolutionary War and to tie it to an artifact is pretty cool.'' (12-c) As a result of further research, at least three artifacts have been definitely linked to the story; the gristmill, the colonial era millstone, and the sawmill. With the conclusions of the joint panel re-confirmed by stronger evidence, and the validation of independent experts, application is made by this document for inclusion of the Beebe’s Mills on the Connecticut Historic Register and an exhibit at the park commemorating the site.

The mills on both sides of Chapman Falls, and the millstone found below, have definite links to the stories real families on both sides of the Revolution. Commemorating them serves as a reminder to carefully guard civil liberties such as Freedom of Speech, especially when those in power claim that urgent circumstances justify giving up essential freedoms in the name of preserving Liberty.


Documented by:

Lou Sorrentino, researcher,  6/6/08
203 Adams Hill Way
East Windsor, CT 06088
860/508-0812
lou@lousorrentino.com

Footnotes:
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1-Peter Oliver's Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion, 1781
Edited by Adair and Shutz, page 157, 1961
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2- Connecticut Gazette newspaper account, September 22, 1775
Abner Beebe states the "recent violent destruction of private property and damage done to me" by "the people of East Haddam" "as a result of late mentioned vote" (of Connecticut Gazette on Jan. 5, 1775), " to withdraw commerce", was because he was "inimical to the Colonies",
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3-Joseph Spencer to Governor Trumbull. East Haddam, September 14, 1774
Force, American Archives, Page v1:787 3. S4-V1-P03-sp25.-
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF LOYALISTS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, Lorenzo Sabine Volume II, page 478, 1864 Beebe, Doctor. He was tarred and feathered, and otherwise roughly treated, by a mob styled as the Sons of Liberty, at East Haddam, in the year 1774..
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4--Peter Oliver's Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion, 1781
Edited by Adair and Shutz, page 154, 1961
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5- General George Washington seems to have approved mob persecution of the Tories. In 1776 General Israel Putnam, one of Washington's generals, met a procession of the Sons of Liberty parading a number of Tories on rails up and down the streets of New York and he attempted to halt this inhuman proceeding. On hearing this, Washington reprimanded General Putnam, stating that "to discourage such proceedings was to injure the cause of liberty in which they were engaged, and that nobody would attempt it but an enemy of his country."  Mark M. Botner III, ENYCLOPEDIA OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (New York: David MacKay Co., 1974, p. 1094.
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(6)East Haddam Land Records (Grantor and Grantee), CT State Library, and Parker’s History of  East Haddam 1925
(7) VITAL RECORDS OF EAST HADDAM, EAST HADDAM, MIDDLESEX CO., CONN., BARBOUR COLLECTION,
Vol. LR7, page 6.  BEEBE, Anne, daughter of William (father of Abner)& Phebe, born Jan. 27, 1731.Anne married Jabez CHAPMAN on 2 Apr 1752 in East Haddam
(6-c) Connecticut Loyalists: An Analysis of Loyalist Land Confiscations, John W.Tyler, 1977, Page 45, # 78,79
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(7-a) Reverend Samuel Peters, in Boston, to his mother, in Hebron, Boston, September 28, 1774,
Amer. Arch.,1. S4-V1-P03-sp23. Page v1:716
REVEREND SIR: The riots and mobs that have attended me and my house, set on by the Governour of Connecticut, have compelled me to take up my abode And for my telling the church people not to take up arms, &c., it being high treason, &c., ...the Sons of Liberty have almost killed one of my church, tarred and feathered two, abused others; and on the sixth day destroyed my windows, ..."Mr. Beebe and Mr. Daniel Jones, Mr. Warren, and Griffin of Millington must draw up a narrative of their sufferings and such words as Col. Spencer, & have spoke by way of encouragement to mobs, and let Dr. Beebe send the same to me, to the care of Mr. Thomas Brown, merchant in Boston.")
*Note that Rev. Samuel Peters uses the terms "mobs" and "Sons of Liberty" as if they were the same, and that they "almost killed one of my church, tarred and feathered two.” Note "Beebe" is mentioned twice; a Dr. and a Mr. This are likely Mr. Asa Beebe, who was a lay reader for the church, and his brother Dr. Abner Beebe.
(7-b)-CT Gazette October 22, 1775 Abner Beebes uncle Jonathan Beebe was voted "inimical”, for approving Gage’s firing on crowd. Beebes' father William Beebe, was voted "inimical to the Colonies" for persisting in maintaining commercial relations with his son Dr. Abner Beebe.
(7-c) Connecticut Gazette April 12, 1776. Jonathan Beebe recanted, confession published.
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(8-a) BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF THE GRADUATES OF YALE COLLEGE, Volume II, Franklin Bowditch Dexter, page 574 ,1896 , Asa Beebe...of East Haddam...studied theology and also medicine, and settled in his township as a physician. He was employed from 1766 to 1774 as a lay reader to the Episcopal families in the village of Millington, in the same town, and to those of Middle Haddam, in a neighboring town. At the approach of the Revolution he was outspoken in support of the mother country, and as a consequence he was tarred and feathered by the Sons of Liberty in his vicinity in the early part of 1774.
(8-b) REV. MR. PETERS TO THE SECRETARY-EXTRACT. Hebron, in Connecticut, Dec 26, 1776. Documentary History of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Hawks & Perry, 1864, Connecticut Church Documents ii, 106 , “Millington and Middle Haddam,...., have hired Mr. Asa Beebe, who was educated at Yale College,...to read prayers and sermons .............”
(8-c) )VITAL RECORDS OF EAST HADDAM, EAST HADDAM, MIDDLESEX CO., CONN., BARBOUR COLLECTION.The only man, near age 70 in 1774, whom Abner Beebe was the nephew of, was his uncle Jonathan Beebe; born: 1695 at East Haddam, Middlesex Co., CT. His father William's brother. William was born 1699 at New London, CT, Died: 29 Jan 1788 at East Haddam, Middlesex Co, CT)
(8-d) The Papers of Loyalist Samuel Peters, Oct. 1, 1774, At Boston, To Dr. Samuel Achmuty, by Kenneth Walter Cameron, Trancebdental Books-Drawer 1080-Hartford
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(9-a)THE CONNECTICUT VALLEY ADVERTIZER, JULY 16,1881 (Connecticut State Library, microfilm) –Millington. "Probably most of the visitors at Chapman Falls have noticed a large mill-stone at the foot of the precipice, but not one out of every ten knows the history of it. During the Revolutionary war, one Beebe owned the grist-mill at the top of the falls. It is said that he was a Tory, and the revolutionists broke open the mill and rolled the principal stone down the falls, where it remains to this day."
(9-b) Petition of Nathaniel Ely, Festus Colton, and Azariah Woolworth to the Senate and House..., 1781,
Massachussetts Archives, 231: reprinted in the Centeniel Celebration of Longmeadow, 213
(9-c) Parker’s History of East Haddam 1928
(9-d) David D. Field's: A History of the Towns of Haddam and East Haddam 1814, Page 15
(9-e) July 8, 1792, Millington Church Records, Vol. 2, Page 122, and Fox family records
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(10-a) A Shared Landscape, 2005, Devil's Hopyard State Park, by Joseph Leary
(10-b)Charles Hockensmith,Staff Archaeologist,Kentucky Heritage Council, 300 Washington Street,Frankfort, Kentucky 40601Phone: (502) 564-7005, Ext. 122, Charles.Hockensmith@ky.gov
Dear Mr. Sorrentino:
Thank you for the photographs of the two millstones at Devil's Hopyard
State Park at East Haddam, Connecticut. I have looked at the
photographs and have the following comments.
Millstone #1. According to the information that you provided, this
millstone may have been rolled over the falls by the Sons of Liberty to
intimidate mill owner Abner Beebe. This broken millstone (slightly less
than one-half of a millstone) appears to be made from a conglomerate
(containing pebbles in a matrix) but I can't tell for sure. The
millstone has a "sickle dress" or curved furrows cut into the stone to
facilitate grinding. According to Howell and Keller (1977, page 76),
"Many millstones used in early colonial mills were dressed with the
'sickle' or circular furrow dress." You have a good point about the
grooves not being worn down. However, the millstone appears to have
some wear (smoothing) from many years of water flowing over it. Thus,
it would be difficult to determine if it needed sharpening when thrown
over the falls. When millstones were resharpened, the grooves were recut
or chipped to make the stone rough again. Repeated use of a millstone
can polish the grinding surface of the stone so that it would not
adequately grind grain. A millstone could have very pronounced furrows
that were polished somewhat from use. The referenced mentioned above is:
Howell, Charles and Allan Keller1977 The Mill at Philipsburg Manor and A Brief History of Milling.
Sleepy Hollow Restorations, Tarrytown, New York.
You have done some excellent archival research that has provided
interesting details about the Sons of Liberty, the Beebe family, and
others connected with the story. The millstone could easily support the
story since it has a dress style that dates to the colonial period, is
broken, and is located below the falls. Unfortunately, there is no way
to be 100% sure. The stone could have been thrown over by someone else
later in time. You can still comment in interpretative materials at the
park that the position and condition of the millstone seem to verify the story.
Millstone #2. (Caretaker's residence)This appears to be a conglomerate millstone. The style
indicates that it was a runner stone or upper stone that turned. The
dress pattern is "quarter dress" which is a very common style. Most
millstones that you see in our area has a variation of this dress
pattern. Thus, I would assume that it is a later period millstone used
at the mill or brought to the site from a another location for display.
       Sincerely, Charles Hockensmith
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(10-c) Thomas Morrissey, Chief, Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, CT DEP, April 26, 2007 email to Ms. Lisa Porto
Dear Ms Porto:
Thank you for your letter regarding the millstone at Devil’s Hopyard SP in East Haddam.....................
When Mr. Sorrentino brought the story of the millstone to light and interest from the press and resulted in widespread publicity, the millstone became an item of significant curiosity at the Hopyard.
The Department of Environmental Protection State Parks Division wishes to assure you that the millstone was not stolen. Rather, it was removed from the stream due to public safety concerns for the individuals who tried to climb into the water to get a first hand look and, for fear that the stone would be stolen or vandalized. The millstone is stored in a safe location and is being protected for future study and investigation. The State Parks Division is preparing documentation to show the precise location of the stone prior to its removal. This will also be beneficial for future reference.
As you know, the State Parks Division works closely with Mr. Nicolas Bellantoni, State Archaeologist and State Historic Preservation Office Staff Archaeologist David Poirier. All are in agreement that it was necessary to move the stone for safety and security reasons. The three agencies are preparing to embark upon an independent investigative study of the history of the Devil’s Hopyard area and the relationship to the millstone found at Chapman Falls. A graduate student specializing in Archaeology and Natural History, will begin a study likely by the fall of 2007. The outcome of the investigation will be a written report documenting the findings and recommendations for future curatorial action and public information. Yours truly, Thomas Morrissey
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(11-a) New York Times, Metro Section, 1/25/04, “Uncovering A Millstone Who-Done-It.”, by Adam Bowles
(11-b) July 29, 2004 David Leff, Deputy Commissioner CT DEP letter to Louis Sorrentino,
        Dear Mr. Sorrentino,
        Let me assure you no one disputes the conclusions of Nick Bellantoni (CT State Archeologist in his letter of  
        9/19/2003) nor does anyone call into question the significance of the millstone...............The matter at hand is how
        best to tell the story, not whether the story ought to be told. I sugest we meet with Nick Bellantoni, State Parks  
        Director Pamela Adams, Henry Alves, and a member of the Friends to work out a methodology for arriving at  
        appropriate wording and the best means of displaying the available information...Please contact Jill Carr at
        my office to set up a meeting time and place. Sincerely, David K. Leff
On 10/7/04 the referenced meeting was held at the CT DEP's Hartford office with above persons. Also included were DEP's Leslie Lewis, Connecticut College Arboretum's Kathy Dame, Friends of Devil's Hopyard President' Barbara Bloomberg, and Mashantucket Pequot Museum's Head Archivist Jon Ault. This joint panel of experts, government, and lay persons decided to post signage at Chapman Falls in Devil's Hopyard State Park and plan a larger display for future installation. Based on the joint panel's decision, DEP's Leslie Lewis designed signage and it posted at the top of Chapman Falls shortly after. Here is her letter verifying this posting:
          Leslie Lewis, DEP, May, 25, 2005
          Dear Mr. Sorrentino,
          As requested, I am enclosing a copy of the material posted at Devil's Hopyard State Park.
          Sincerely, Leslie Lewis    cc: David K. Leff, Pamela Adams
(11-c)  From Barbara Bloomberg, President, Friends of Devils Hopyard to Kathy Dame, Assistant Director,
          Connecticut College Arboretum, email from Bbloomberg@aol.com of 2/5/2005 7:01 PM
       " Lou's "discovery" is not as it may seem......There are major flaws in his claims of research and discovery."
          From  Kathy T. Dame (Conn. College Arboretum) to DEP Dep. Com. David Leff &  Commissioner Gina McCarthy
        "I got a letter from the President of the Friends of Devil's Hopyard (attached) telling me that the research was flawed
         discrediting the work...However, Nick (Bellantoni) re-confirmed what I correctly believed I had heard that day....
         ( On 10/7/04 as a participant and witness of the DEP joint panel that approved the project.)
(11-d)  From Thomas Morrissey,Chief, Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, CT DEP, to Louis Sorrentino, April, 5, 2007
          Dear Mr. Sorrentino,
The facts that the millstone exists and that a mill existed upstream from
the millstone’s location have been verified. The rest of the story,
although fascinating, cannot be tied directly to this artifact. The story
certainly reflects the diverse attitudes of the time and the tensions that
existed around the Revolutionary War period. However, the DEP places
factual information about the parks on its website and this would not
qualify. If at a time in the future, evidence linking the millstone to
the event is brought to light and is verifiable by the State Archaeologist
and the State Historic Preservation Office, the agency will reconsider its position.
Similarly, an exhibit at Devil’s Hopyard State Park would be subject to
the same stipulation. The State Parks Division would be happy to consider
an exhibit, at such time as a definite link can be made between the
millstone and the story.
I understand your interest in the millstone and promoting its place in the
history of East Haddam. The DEP and State Parks Division has the
responsibility to educate the public with factual information.
Interpretive signage will reflect the history of a site with verifiable
information. Please forward any questions or comments to Ms. Pamela Aey
Adams, Director of Connecticut’s State Park Division.___________
Yours truly,  Thomas Morrissey
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(12-a) Walter Woodward, Connecticut State Historian
 April 30, 2007 email to
 Louis Sorrentino   lou@lousorrentino.com
"Congratulations! This is a contemporary account from a Tory who fled Connecticut and
wrote a scathing history of Connecticut once he was safely in England. I believe
this is powerful evidence to support your thesis, and is exactly what is needed to
help clinch the argument."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(12-b) From Ray Raphael, Revolutionary War Historian, Subject: millstone contactray@rayraphael.com
Date:       Tue, June 3, 2008 7:40 am To:       lou@lousorrentino.com
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(12-c) Nick Bellantoni, Connecticut State Archeologist, New York Time, 1/25/04














Uncas' true grave found? - November 24, 2009

Concerning this new premise for the exact location of Uncas' grave, the Mohegan Tribe's Archivist said: "Dear Lou Sorrentino, I think you are a good research person...the questions those passages pose is interesting and could be a project for testing the premise in the future..." Faith Damon Davison, 10/5/2007, fdavison@moheganmail.com

There is a monument in Norwich, CT which most people assume was erected over the actual grave of Uncas; Sachem of the Mohegans. While some have long known this is not the exact gravesite, new archival research has produced a compelling circumstantial case for the exact location.

The 1852 book Songs of the Fireside by C. W. Everest contains his poetic account of "A Summer's Day Ramble." It makes clear that the Uncas monument's "cornerstone" was in place years before the actual monument was later erected. More telling is the fact that a plain slate headstone marked with the name ‘Uncas’ was visible "by" the separate "cornerstone" in the intervening years on a mound of "heaving turf." This description is backed up by a period newspaper, as cited in the document titled; Royal Burial Ground: 1842 December 31, (Norwich Courier) “In the Royal Burying Ground of the Mohegans as it existed more than two hundred years ago was a small flat stone set up by early settlers as a memorial to the great Sachem with a simple inscription in rude letters ‘Uncas'. On page 27 of the Ramble the author describes a grave mound of "heaving turf" which was clearly marked as "Uncas's grave, and by it stood The shameful mockery of a cornerstone." He further explains this cryptic reference in his Notes on page 35, where he describes his thoughts upon viewing the new Uncas monument's completion after laid by President Andrew Jackson some nine years earlier. The Ramble ends with an engraved print of the grave on page 34 which seems congruent with a proposed location modern-day gravemound-type site at 24 Sachem Street in size, proximity, and surroundings.

During his Summer's Day Ramble the author passed the river Thames, then describes "resting by the torrent's brink, That gushed, in living freshness from the rock." This description fits well with what is now known as Yantic Falls at Indian Leap, since that is the only waterfall "torrent" gushing from "the rock" situated anywhere nearby. After some time, at "the forest's verge", he "spied a place of graves" where "Mohegan warriors slept in death" marked by "heaving turf"and notes "small slabs of slate stone" were "at the heads of several." It says that the end of day, he was headed back home, but turned back to view the grave one last time. Since the author was headed back home toward the Thames and the "torrent's brink" (Yantic Falls/Indian Leap), then turned and saw the grave site of Uncas, the relative position of the author would situate the newly postulated grave mound in the correct direction of his line of sight looking back. Since he looked behind him to see the actual grave, it seems reasonable to assume the grave he saw must have been slightly further back from the cornerstone, respective to Indian Leap, a prominent Mohegan site where the known major path traversed. This means the Uncas grave mound must be in a directional line which takes these facts into account. The proposed Uncas' grave site is adjacent to the right wall of the building at 24 Sachem Street in Norwich, CT. The mound is about 30 feet to the rear and left of the Uncas monument, about 6'long X 4' wide X 2.5' high and completely covered by a large bush. No marked gravestone is visible, but when the surface leaves are removed, many small slabs of slate stone are visible, a typical gravemound feature. The site is 15' outside to the left rear of the current graveyard boundaries, but the original boundaries are much larger, according to the signage there.

One reference to a excavation of a grave which was previously theorized to have been of Uncas (Royal Burial Ground: 1832 – May 1 below) is not likely his because no "Treasure" was found in it: "as had been their custom" (Royal Burial Ground 1832 , as noted also below) While this new Uncas' grave site proposal is not conclusive, it certainly is the best hypothesis to date.

Re: "Songs of the Fireside, Rev. C. W. Everest, Hartford, Brocket & Hutchinson", "entered according to act of Congress 1852", pg. 27, 33, 34, 35., written around 1845. (per Dedicatory sonnet page 3) & "A Summer's Day Ramble" Re: Royal Burial Ground: 1842 December 31, (Norwich Courier) 1822- The path through one of these ravines emerges from the shades of the dark forest trees opposite a cluster of elms and sassafras's, which mark the burying place of the Mohegan Sachems. There are still remaining many head and foot-stones, some of them bearing English inscriptions in good preservation ; but the greater part are shapeless pieces of granite sunk in the soil and covered with moss, and doubtless mark the graves of Sachems who ruled the country in ages long anterior to the earliest histories and traditions. ......a short walk, where the extensive landscape and the placid water are entirely excluded by the broken banks of the Yantic, whose stream, pouring over a ledge of rocks...... 1734 burying their Treasure with their dead, (as has been their custom) and were advised to save what they had now carefully deposited in the Coffin, and accordingly they complied, and took out Wampum, Gold and Plate, &c. of considerable value, and then proceeded to finish the funeral 1832 – May 1 “While making excavations on the sites for new mills, on the banks of the Shetucket an Indian grave was opened, containing besides a few bones, a pot, spoons and a small box, all of copper, glass bottles and some other articles. It was near this spot that the famous battle was fought between Uncas, Sachem of the Mohegans and Miantonimi, chief of the Narragansetts, in which the latter was slain. – Judging from the thigh bones, which are nearly entire, the person interred must have possessed a gigantic stature and powerful frame. Possibly this grave was the burial place of that renowned warrior. Norwich Courier.” (LS-- Note: no gold or Treasure objects, per 1734 description of "their custom")

Ray Raphael, Renowned Historian's endorsement - June 3, 2008

Ray Raphael, Renowned Revolutionary War Author of 'A Peoples' Guide to the American Revolution' Concerning research about Chapman Falls, Devil's Hopyard State Park, East Haddam, CT. verified by Peter Oliver's 1781 Origin and Progress story of Beebe's attack by the Sons Of Liberty Mob in 1775, and it's link to the gristmill ruins and it's millstone found in Chapman Falls at Devil's Hopyard State Park, CT Lou, Wow! You've gone far deeper into this than I did. Here are my thoughts: First, you don't have to have absolute certainty in this arena. We use physical artifacts as a means of telling significant tales, and that can certainly be done in this case. So I wish you the best of luck in your efforts. But I don't think you need this as an "independent source" for your purposes. Again, you've got a juicy piece of material history there, and in my mind reasonable linking to tell a big story. Best of luck Ray From: "Ray Raphael contactray@rayraphael.com> Date: Sun, June 1, 2008 To: lou@lousorrentino.com

-THE NEW YORK TIMES- "Uncovering a Millstone Who-Done-It" - January 25, 2004

-THE NEW YORK TIMES- "Uncovering a Millstone Who-Done-It" *By ADAM BOWLES (NYT) 1440 words Published: January 25, 2004

SINCE he was a child, Louis Sorrentino has visited Devil's Hopyard State Park in East Haddam to go for a walk, take pictures of the scenery or
enjoy a picnic. His love for the outdoors merged with his interest in history one day in the spring of 2002 when he spotted a large piece of a millstone in Chapman Falls in the park.

Curious about its origins, he called the municipal historian and checked
out an historical marker near the stone. Both sources led him to the story of the Sons of Liberty toppling a stone into the falls to
intimidate a loyalist mill owner.

More than a year and some 30 hours of research later, Mr. Sorrentino, founder and vice president of the Friends of Devil's Hopyard, became
convinced that the stone he found in a restricted area of the park just 200 feet from the marker that referred to it was indeed a Revolutionary
War artifact. ''Apparently from 1881 on it got forgotten,'' said Mr. Sorrentino...

His rediscovery recently caught the attention of top state officials who are fascinated with the story behind the 229-year-old millstone and say it could be used as a valuable teaching tool. The state archaeologist, Nicholas Bellantoni, who visited the park in the summer to see the stone, said while archaeological investigations would not be able to verify the story, it is significant that the millstone is down a slope from gristmill ruins, specifically the foundation.

Either the stone, which is about 50 inches in diameter, dropped into the falls due to natural erosion at the site or it was thrown down, he said, adding the latter appears to be the logical conclusion based on
circumstantial evidence. ''We have the mill, we have the stone and we have a wonderful story to go with it,'' Mr. Bellantoni said. ''It talks about people's attitudes toward each other at the beginning of the Revolutionary War and to tie it to an artifact is pretty cool.''

Mr. Sorrentino researched records at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford and at other libraries, reading newspaper articles, historic commission reports and colonial period documents. The story that unfolded from his studies goes like this: The Sons of Liberty, a group of colonists organized to protest the Stamp Act, were angry with Abner Beebe, a wealthy Tory mill owner who also practiced as a physician.
Mr. Beebe's brother, Asa, was a lay leader in the Church of England who
pledged allegiance to the English monarchy at the start of his church services, a common act for Loyalists but forbidden by the Revolutionists.

Both Beebes had another terrible shortfall, as far as the Sons of
Liberty were concerned. They drank tea, an English import boycotted by the Colonists. Ebenezer Punderson, a traveling minister of the Church of England who preached in East Haddam and Norwich and who was an acquaintance of the Beebes, also indulged in drinking tea.

''They were notorious tea drinkers, the crack smokers of their day,'' Mr.
Sorrentino said.

Mr. Punderson recanted his statements supporting England's right to tax the colonies before the Committee of Norwich, Mr. Sorrentino said. But Abner Beebe initially refused to recant, irking the Sons of Liberty who tarred and feathered him, according to a 1774 letter about civil
unrest from Col. Joseph Spencer to Connecticut Gov. Jonathan Trumbull. His brother, Asa, was also tarred and feathered, according to Dexter's Yale Biographies of 1898.

They also destroyed Abner Beebe's personal property, according to his complaint that was published in the Connecticut Gazette in 1775, Mr.
Sorrentino said. That same newspaper 106 years later referred to the incident in which Revolutionists broke into a mill and rolled a millstone down a hill. It was the last time public records indicated that people knew of the millstone's whereabouts.

Asa Beebe and his family took off for a British colony in Canada, or what is now Nova Scotia. They got as far as New Hampshire, where they settled. ''He more than Abner decided he didn't want to change his loyalties,'' Dr. Karl Stofko, East Haddam municipal historian, said.

Apparently, the Sons of Liberty visited Abner Beebe several times. He eventually sold the gristmill and nearby sawmill to John Chapman and left the Church of England to join the Millington Congregational Church. After the war, he bought back the mill. Still, he stayed in the area throughout his ordeal because he wanted to be with his family, including his three children, Mr. Stofko said. Mr. Punderson went bankrupt and also left for England, returning after the war when the state legislature granted him safe passage home after he explained that the reason he left was he feared for his safety.

Mr. Stofko said just three people in town were loyalists. Mr. Stofko said when Abner Beebe complained of his treatment to the town and the state he did not name names.

The Sons of Liberty also raised a liberty pole and flag at the site of the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse. The pole, one of the tallest in Connecticut in more than 140 feet high, was designed to alert visitors that the town was
pro-independence.

''Today we would call them renegades,'' Mr. Stofko said of the Sons of Liberty. ''They were a group of young men who decided to take the law into their own hands. They more or less disappeared after the Revolutionary War got started. It was an important time in history.
Outside of the liberty pole, it's one of the few stories we have of the Sons of Liberty. They probably existed in every town.''

Mr. Bellantoni said he would be opposed to moving the stone because its location is part of the story. His office, the Connecticut Department of
Environmental Protection and the Friends of Devil's Hopyard are
discussing how to promote the millstone as a minor attraction. Mr. Bellantoni said a new trail that would allow visitors to see the stone and pamphlets that tells its story are two possibilities.

Mr. Sorrentino has permission...to redo several kiosks at the park that inaccurately credited a certain Captain Aaron Fox with overthrowing the stone.

David K. Leff, deputy commissioner of the D.E.P., said the stone underscored the history found in many of the state's parks, including Gillette Castle State Park, also in East Haddam, and Fort Trumbull in New London.

''You can't go very far in the New England woods without running into a cellar hole or stone wall with historical significance,'' he said. ''In these days of renewed patriotism that millstone, while it is a very ordinary object, carries with it a very powerful symbol of the struggle for freedom.''

John Ostrout, director of Cultural Heritage Tourism in Connecticut, has also visited the millstone. Mr. Ostrout is working on creating a Revolutionary War Trail in the state that would feature historic sites and
artifacts for tourists to visit in a systematic way. He said the millstone would be ideal for such a trail.

''We know there is a rich history of the American Revolutionary War period in our state,'' said Mr. Ostrout, who created the Connecticut Impressionist Art Trail several years ago. ''It's time to dust off these existing treasures.''

Mr. Sorrentino admires the Sons of Liberty but not for what they did to the Beebes. He said it is important for young people today to realize the atrocities Americans have done in the name of freedom. The Beebes' freedom of speech was denied amid the flurry of zealous colonists at war, he said. ''I think we need to keep the story alive,'' Mr. Sorrentino said. ''We have the seeds of squelching liberty even before 1776.''

Copyright 2005

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