A few years after their arrival at the site of Hartford, the street the Lord family
lived on may have roughly resembled this one, although soon houses were improved.

icrannogleadlettert.jpghere is some mystery about who the first Englishmen from Newtowne were to set eyes on the elevated lands, called "Suckiauge" by the Natives, on the west bank of the Connecticut River one hundred miles to the west in what remained a virtual wilderness inhabited by Indians. But we do know who the first Europeans were to stand there. As Richard Lord was putting the finishing touches on his house at Newtowne, in 1633, the Dutch were getting a foothold on the Connecticut River, just a stone's throw from where the English removing from Newtowne were going to end up. On a 17th century Dutch map of the lower Connecticut River region one can make out the Dutch  "Forte de Goede Hoop" on the west bank, just below the developing settlement of "Herfort". (View map here.)

hartfordhouseofhope.jpg "In 1633, Wouter Van Twiller, director-general of New Netherland, sent Jacob van Curler on a mission to a spot on the Fresh River where it met its tributary, called Little River. The Dutch had long traded with the Indians hereabouts, but recently the English had begun to interfere with that trade. Van Curler's job was to build a fort that would serve as a trading post: in effect, a capital of Dutch Connecticut. The Dutch called it Huys de Hoop-Fort Hope, or the House of Hope. Its presence, and that of the tiny contingent of Dutch soldiers that were stationed there, did little to check the English migration. "
"Jacob van Curler with six others sailed up the river and having made a treaty with the Indians June 8th began to erect a blockhouse on the southern bank of the Little River. This they surrounded with a redoubt and two cannon were mounted for its defence ."

"The Trading House", courtesy of the artist, Len Tantillo.

"The House of Hope was a fortified redoubt. Such structures among the Dutch were usually built of logs with stones or brick at the angles Within there was a two story block house of commodious proportions having a large Dutch fire place at one end. About the house was an open court with a hard earthen floor. At Fort Orange (Albany, NY) the building was twenty six feet and nine inches long. Underneath there was a cellar. The first floor was divided by a partition. On the second which was reached by a ladder there was a court or storage room. Probably the House of Hope had an enclosed yard with sheds for their horses and cattle on the southeast side at the landing place."  (19th century history)

hartfordlandingboats.jpgThe reason both the Dutch and the English picked this location for their trading fort and settlement is that this is as far up the Connecticut River that sea-going ships could venture. It was this potential as a landing site for vessels that was later exploted by Richard Lord in the latter half of the century. When the Dutch explorer David de Vries ventured into the region in 1639, he found the House of Hope manned by only fourteen or fifteen soldiers. Just opposite it, meanwhile, he saw that the English had the beginnings of a town. The English governor hospitably asked him to dinner, and de Vries took the opportunity to complain on behalf of the Dutch that the English were trespassers. "He answered that the lands were lying idle," de Vries later wrote in his journal, "that, though we had been there many years, we had done scarcely anything; that it was a sin to let such rich land, which produced such fine corn, lie uncultivated; and that they had already built three towns upon this river, in a fine country." This points out the basic difference between the interest in New England that motivated the Dutch versus the English. The Dutch wanted trade while the English wanted land. While the two purposes could have been compatible, the sense of encroachment and the need to control mitigated against a peaceful cooperation. (Read the de Vries account here)

The agitation to leave Newtowne and find some new place to establish their settelement intensified in the summer of 1633, soon after Rev. Hooker and the bulk of the early immigrants arrived there. At first the Governor proposed to enlarge the town to accommodate more settlers with more land for each, but this was seen as impractical because of the lack of land. So shortly it was decided, and authorized, to search out new lands in the Connecticut River Valley.


"September 4, the general court began at Newtown, and continued a week, and then was adjourned fourteen days. Many things were there agitated and concluded. . . But the main business, which spent the most time, and caused the adjourning of the court, was about the removal of Newtown. They had leave, the last general court, to look out some place for enlargement or removal, with promise of having it confirmed to them, if it were not prejudicial to any other plantation; and now they moved that they might have leave to remove to Connecticut. The matter was debated divers days, and many reasons alleged pro and con. The principal reasons for their removal were, their want of accommodation for their cattle, so as they were not able to maintain their ministers, nor could receive any more of their friends to help them; and here it was alleged by Mr. Hooker, as a fundamental error, that towns were set so near to each other; the fruitfulness and commodiousness of Connecticut, and the danger of having it possessed by others, Dutch or English; and the strong bent of their spirits to remove thither.”

    Governor Winthrop, 1633

In early July of 1634 Winthrop records the fact that "Six of Newtown went in the Blessing being bound to the Dutch plantations to discover Connecticut River intending to remove their town thither." The Dutch plantations included one at the mouth of the Connecticut River, as well as the one near "Suckiage", so it is not clear if these men actually went to the future site of Hartford. But the evidence suggests these six men had been sent as agents of the Hooker company to settle on the place of their relocation. Their route by water (see map here- Dutch areas in red; English areas in blue )  would have been the easiest, leaving Boston Harbor, sailing southeast around Cape Cod, then west along the coast to the mouth of the river. And apparently they returned to Newtowne that summer with a favorable report on the location. While the names of these six are not recorded, given the adventurous nature of Richard Lord we might expect he was among them.

Inspired by this news, a group of about 60 Newtowne men went overland to the banks of the Little River in the fall of 1635. They began laying out sites for future settlement, perhaps securing building lots for those to come the next year. Since Thomas Lord and his family had already arrived in Newtowne in June, it is entirely possible that both Richard and his father went along with this expedition. It was doubtless during the last days of October 1635 that these pioneers of Hartford reached their destination. They found at Suckiage only a group of Indian wigwams north of Little River and the Dutch at the House of Hope. But they set about establishing the first components of the settlement, and although many of these men returned to Newtowne after securing the lots they would later build on, there is evidence that some of them remained in Hartford over the winter. The Newtown records confirm that those who were known to have gone to Hartford in the spring of 1636 were still in Newtowne in February 1636, and so had not stayed in Hartford the fall before. Starting so late, those who did stay the winter there certainly would have only been able to erect the most minimal structures before the snows, and like the pilgrims before them, their huts and dugouts served them for the first few months.


“(the English newcomers)… burrow themselves in the Earth for their first shelter under some Hill-side, casting the Earth aloft upon Timber; they make a smoky fire against the Earth at the highest side, and … in these poore Wigwames they sing Psalmes, pray and praise their God, till they can provide them houses…” 1640

“Those who have no means to build farmhouses at first according to their wishes, dig a square pit in the ground, cellar fashion, six or seven feet deep, as long and as broad as they think proper, case the earth inside all round the wall with timber…floor this cellar with plank and wainscot it overhead for a ceiling, raise a roof of spars clear up and cover the spars with bark or green sods, so that they can live dry and warm in these houses with their entire families…” 1650


From an eyewitness Connecticut account, we see another version of this type of temporary house described:

"Beginning a few feet below the brow of the hill they excavated a space the size of the proposed house throwing up the earth at the sides and west end. On the embankment thus made they laid a plate on which they rested the foot of the rafters. Where stone was convenient a wall was laid under the plate but as stone was scarce here they must have dispensed with it. Instead of shingle the roof was thatched with a course of wild grass. The east end was probably made from clove boards, ie. boards cloven or split from short logs and hewn into shape. Only the east end and roof of these structures appeared  above ground."
Mr Jabez H Hayden of Windsor

The harsh winter of 1635-36 had ended and the Lords were at last experiencing their first spring outside of England. For whatever miseries they had been forced to endure that winter, the family was at least once again together for the first time since the winter of 1630-31. And so it was that early in 1636 the Lord family began to prepare to move westward, with the rest of Rev. Hookers company. Much work would need to be done at the new settelement before the next winter closed in on them, including breaking the soil for planting, making provision for the livestock, raising houses and obtaining stocks of food to last until harvest. They intended to start off in mid-May, but delays were inevitable. The bulk of their supplies and belongings were to be shipped by water, and apparently these arrangements took more time than anticipated. It was the last day of that month before they took their first steps. (See map here)  


"Some of them did not sell their homes before that month. Perhaps they were also delayed in securing transportation by water for their goods. We surmise however that they may have thought it wise to make their journey during the pleasant days of summer. There were gentle women among them unaccustomed to hardships in the forest and mothers with their little children. None of our modern conveniences for camp life were known to them. They were to cook and eat their humble fare by the wayside, find shelter from dew and rain under overhanging boughs and go to their rest in the ominous darkness on the matted needles of ancient pines. Surely the shepherd that led forth that flock may have wisely sought the favor of nature's best season "


Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Company merely notes this event as “Mr Hooker pastor of the church of Newtown and most of his congregation went to Connecticut. His wife was carried in a horse litter and they drove one hundred and sixty cattle and fed of their milk by the way.” 


"In the month of May 1636 they removed an hundred miles to the westward with the purpose to settle upon the delightful banks of the Connecticut River and there were about an hundred persons in the first company that made this removal who not being able to walk above ten miles a day took up near a fortnight in the journey having no pillows to take their nightly rest upon..."

Cotton Mather, 1702

Legend would have it that this band of "about an hundred persons" heading for the Connecticut River Valley thrashed through an uncharted wilderness unbroken by the foot of man nor beast. One early 19th century historian set the tone for a century of mythology: 

"The Newtown pilgrims struck out into the almost pathless woods. Only a few miles from their place of brief habitation, and they were in a wilderness marked only by signs of Indian trails. Evening by evening they made camp and slept, guarded and sentinelled, by forest fires. One of their number, Mrs. Hooker, the pastor’s wife, was carried on a litter because of her infirmity. It was a picturesque but an arduous Pilgrimage. Men and women of refinement and delicate breeding turned explorers of primeval forests in search of a wilderness home. The lowing of a hundred and sixty cattle sounding through the forest aisles, not to mention the bleating of goats and the squealing of swine, summoned them to each morning’s advance. The day began and ended with the voice of prayer and perhaps of song. "

As romantic as that may sound in a novel, it was hardly the historic reality. The route they followed overland for a hundred miles was already well known, and called by some "The Old Connecticut Path." (It remained the main route west even 130 years later, as shown on the 1769 Sauthier map.) It was, according to some, "the same route by which the roving Oldham went in 1633, when he lodged in 'Indian towns all the way.'"  And in addition to the Hartford migration, other parties from back east were using this path to move onto other lands along the Connecticut River. But by the standards of English country lanes, which was the more familiar context of a journey by foot for many in the compnay, the experience must have been sobering; especially as they were leaving behind what little of security and "home" most of them has seen since leaving England. No matter what the reality, as seen in hindsight from the perspective of the historian, the event was just the same monumental, both on a personal level and in the forming of the Connecticut Colony.

"The herd followed one another as they would soon learn to do in a beaten path. It had been trodden that season by several other companies with cattle. Along such a way it would have been comparatively easy for a horse litter to travel nor would a litter have been altogether uncomfortable. There were landmarks too; some of them known to this day. Indian villages were located here and there providing food and shelter in need as many an early pilgrim to Connecticut had reason to know. In Hooker's company there were doubtless a half dozen or more men who had made the journey several times. And there were friendly Indians to guide the party if necessary."

The painting to the left was done in the 19th century, to show the 1636 Hooker migration to Connecticut as it may have looked.  Although a much romanticised scene familiar to  landscape painters of that era, it is not too far  from fact, in that it shows a well trodden pathway within a grand natural landscape. Whether or not any in the party cared to take note of this grandeur remains a matter of conjecture.

Whether the ten Lords felt anxious about leaving the comparative civilization of Newtowne behind, or about approaching an unknown and perhaps unimaginable new life where no house worthy of the name yet stood, one cannot ever know. Or perhaps each member of the family had a different feeling on that day. Richard, the adventurous one, might well have been excited, and may have regaled the rest of the clan with tales of what he had already seen to the west the year before. Thomas the younger, being 17 and in awe of his older brother, may have hung on every word. This would be his first big adventure as what could be considered then an adult.

But for the parents, Thomas Sr aged 51 and Dorothy aged 47, this may have been something of a gamble. Did they have time left and energy sufficient to start this new life? And for the six younger children, in ages from 5 to 15, was there enough wonder and excitement to off-set the great effort and even fear of the unknown? And as they aproached the east bank of the Connecticut River, where they would have to cross to the western side before going south to Hartford, was reality setting in for everyone?

"Reaching at some uncertain point the wide, full Connecticut, flowing then with larger tide than now, and swollen with its northern snows, the travellers crossed on rafts and rudely constructed boats; and on the spot where Hartford now lifts its stately edifices of worship and of trade, and cheered by the sight of some pioneer attempts at habitation and settlement made the season previous, 'Mr. Hooker’s company' rested, and the ark of the church stood still."

Hartford - Summer 1636

Although they brought cattle with them, and no doubt had carried on horses some minimal provisions, they may have peered anxiously downriver for the boats from Newtowne that labored against the strong current to bring up the rest of what they needed to make a start. What they probably saw was a large area of cleared land, overlooking the Little River and the meadows beyond, with perhaps lots staked out or marked in neat rows where each family was supposed to live. But the only "houses" they saw would have been the rude and primitive shelters erected the fall before by those who had wintered over here.The realization might have sunk in, then, that there was nothing here and that everything had to be created by the work of their own hands.

The primitive dugouts (described above) that first arrivals often raised in new Massachusetts settlements in this period could serve to protect the families for months, even years. And the Lords could have raised any number of intermediate "huts" such as these. But given the five to six months they had before hard winter set in, it is likely they decided to try for better.

The intent would be, as one early pioneer stated, to: "... make what haste we can to build houses, so that within a short time we shall have a fair town..."

The first task would be to create shelter, especially for those, like the Lords, who had women and small children to look after. While in a few short decades water mills of every description would pop up all along the Connecticut River Valley, there were none here now. And while Mathew Alynn's corn mill would be erected at this settlement by the end of the summer, there was no mill now available for the sawing of timbers and boards which would be essential to raising proper houses. And while they could easily have copied the efforts of their neighbors and set up adequate dugouts and huts, I am sure with the entire summer and fall ahead, they envisioned doing better than that.

The Lord men could have raised a very comfortable home with nothing but an axe and the trees of the forest, for log cabins would serve families of pioneers in America during the next two centuries. Using either round logs (left) or squaring the logs with a broadaxe, anyone could raise a solid house with interlocking corners (right), poles for rafters, a dirt floor and slabs of bark for a roof.

But these men were recently from England and brought their cultural preference for the type of houses they had lived in "back home" only a year or so previous. So a proper timber frame and boards were required.

Vastly more laborious than building a log house, erecting a proper English framed house required timber work that no axe alone could accomplish. Beams could be hewn with a broadaxe, but better beams and proper boards for floors, roofing and siding, had to be sawn. In a more advanced settlement a water-powered saw mill with a reciprocating vertical blade set in a frame would get the work done in short order. But here there was no mill. So the frontier man-powered equivalent had to be created.

The creation of sawn timbers and boards had to be accomplished with great expenditure of time and effort. The saw itself was not much different than those used in saw mills at the time, but had handles at each end for a sawyer to grasp. The logs had to be rolled onto a framework and then the two men working together could slice them to the widths needed. To make the work easier, a pit was dug in the ground underneath, and in that the lower "pitman" worked - a very nasty job!

We know that this was how the Hartford men raised their homes in 1636 from this reference: "
Thus they prepared their timbers, planks and boards. Their progress in erecting buildings may be inferred from the fact that on January 7, 1639, 40 such pits as were on public land or not in use were ordered to be filled up and all pits were to be protected by pales."

The Lord Properties

From an extremely intensive search of the 17th century Connecticut documents, this reconstruction of where each
settler's house lot was located as of 1640 was created in the 19th century. It is felt to be 100% accurate. The three
continguous Lord lots are shown in the block outlined in red, located on elevated land in a bend of the Little River.

While we do not have concrete evidence of the kinds of houses first built by these families during the summer and fall of 1636, from other evidence for the same time period in other new settlements in New England we can assume they were a simpler version of the ones they had lived in in the towns they left behind on the far side of the ocean. It is not known whether the prohibition on thatched roofs passed in Newtowne was carried in the minds of the founders of Hartford, but clearly with the river flats and marshes available in both places, the option of avoiding the labor intensive splitting of endless bolts of wood for shakes and shingles might have tempted them to not worry so much of the danger of fire.

hartford1640mapsm.jpg hartfordstreet.jpg
The site chosen for the Lord family, perhaps by the elder Thomas, or perhaps by his son Richard during the previous summer's exploration,
was in a bend of the Little River near the falls. We do not know if this had significance, but in 1637, only a few months after their arrival, the new town issued three orders: “One provides for a guard during public worship…another orders each inhabitant to have a ladder to reach the roof of his house…and a third forbids the taking of stones at the falls, near the home of Thomas Lord.”  The street they lived on may well have looked like this (above).

The best estimation of the size of these house lots is from a listing made two years later. In 1639 the records show "The Names of such Inhabitants as have Right in undivided lands" with the acreage of each. These include "Richard Lord, 18; Thomas Lord, 28". I addition the record lists "The Names of such Inhabitants as were Granted Lots to have only at the towns courtesy with liberty to fetch wood and keep swine or cows by proportion...", and on this list we find "Thomas Lord Jun, 6." Although the list gives Thomas, Sr. nearly twice the lands of his son Richard, the map of houselots (above), also reconstructed from primary sources, shows the opposite. Knowing the lands as they lie today, it is likely some of both Richard's and his father's acreages included lands outside the central town, for pasture and agricultural purposes.
hartfrodchimney.jpgWhile timber was abundant, stone for foundations and chimneys was not. (Note the 1637 warning above from the Town to stop stealing stones from the falls by Thomas Lord's house.) But soon there would be bricks to be had. A clay deposit existed just north of the settlement and by the end of 1637 a brick works had been established. Historians believe the settlers made their own bricks at the works, rather than trade or purchase them from the yard. But until then chimneys of wood and clay cribbing, or wattle and daub, as in the walls, protected by riven clapboards, would suffice.

"Some of the early framed houses were small - only a story or a story and a half in height. They had a chimney in the middle. On one side was the hall or living room and on the other the parlor, sometimes called in such houses a chamber, being used for that purpose. There was a low lodging room or loft above lighted by small end windows. It was reached by a narrow stairway in front of the chimney at the foot of which was the main doorway. From the inventories of William Spencer, Seth Grant, and Robert Day, who died early, it seems probable that they occupied such houses expecting doubtless to build greater shortly. The rule however for those who had means was to erect two story houses. These were generally accepted as models for many years."

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We can only speculate about where on the continuum from dugout, (left) to simple house (middle) to "fair house" (right) the houses of Thomas Lord, and his sons, might have fallen.
Perhaps from their arrival in 1636, until they became firmly established in the town in 1640, they had lived in each type in turn.

hartfordfurniture.jpg "From England they brought chests filled with sheets, pillow biers, blankets, rugs, table cloths, napkins, towels, curtains, cushions and the like. Most every family had one or more chests. Wealthier settlers unquestionably brought some furniture. All of them came provided with certain kitchen utensils- kettles, pewter dishes, and implements necessary in their simple culinary service. It is evident however that some of their early furniture was of home manufacture. The average family may have had a few treasures brought from an ancestral home, but for the most part the settlers of the first generation were content with the simple furniture that could be readily secured or was made in their cabinet shops."

The presence of livestock and the immediate produce from small house gardens probably sustained the Lord family, being the largest family (as far as we know) in the community, during the summer. This required vigilence against stock wandering or being killed by predators, and against wildlife taking advantage of the new, easily accessed food supply created by the townspeople. It also required prodigious amounts of split timber (see below).

hartfordpalingtwo.jpg "The town's orders show also that they needed many fences. Their yards and gardens were enclosed with paling. This was made of stakes driven into the earth and fastened to one or more horizontal rails. Pales were from three to six feet in length according to their use. They also fenced their cornfields and meadows." hartfordpalingone.jpg

But no number of cattle or productive kitchen gardens could keep these settlers alive for the four months it would take for their first harvest to ripen. Even hunting and fishing would not make up the deficiency, especially as the few men available for that were more urgently needed to complete the construction of the settlement. So these English men and women, and children, relied on a favorable relationship with local Indians; something which shortly (1637) was to be sorely tested by the Pequot War.
hartfordcorntrade.jpg hartfordindianvillage.jpg
Until the harvest at the end of summer, provisions for the population consisted mostly of corn traded or purchased from
 local Indians living in the many villages that still surrounded the  fragile incursions of the Europeans.

The Pequot War of 1637


I am sure for the Lords, securely housed in their new home, with provisions laid up and much of the heavy manual labor behind them, the winter of 1636-37 was one of recuperation and restoration. And we must remember that this was a firmly religious community, led by Thomas Hooker and Samuel Stone. So much time, no doubt, was spent that winter huddled around fireplaces in the dim light of candles or rush lamps, worshiping and praying....for salvation.... but perhaps secretly for an early spring.

hartfordwarrior.jpghartfordmassacre.jpgBut the spring of 1637 brought grave troubles. There had been sporadic violence between settlers and Indians throughout the Connecticut Colony since the English first arrived and began to take root. As with most situations of this type, there was guilt on both sides, and revenge attacks which only escalated the violence.

Suddenly on April 23rd came the Wethersfield massacre, just a few miles south of Hartford. (see map here) Two hundred Pequots attacked Wethersfield, killed six men and three women and captured two girls. The Indians also kept the Saybrook Fort, at the mouth of the Connecticut River,  in a virtual state of siege, and captured and tortured to death many settlers. They even roasted alive one poor young man.

While the colony might have wanted to avoid violence, "this was a challenge they must accept or soon be overwhelmed. So on May 1st the Connecticut General Court declared an offensive war against the Pequots and ere long their little fleet was afloat on the Great River."

hartfordhooker.jpg  "Agaynst our mynds being constrayned by necessaty we haue sent out a company taking some Indians for guides with vs and before they set out their reverend leader gave them his blessing”
                            Thomas Hooker

"In the three levies of the Pequot War, Hartford was called upon for sixty one soldiers. While Richard Lord is not known to have been among them, given his adventurous nature, and his later rise to military command in the Colony, it is more than likely.  In due time they attacked the Indians' stronghold at Mystic, near the coast, and by the end of summer, the power of the most dangerous tribe in New England was crushed forever. Many Pequot people were killed by the colonists and their allies; more were captured and sold into slavery in Bermuda, and some ran away from home. Those who managed to evade death or capture and enslavement dispersed. It would take the Pequot more than three and a half centuries to regain their former political and economic power in their traditional homeland region along the Pequot (present-day Thames) and Mystic Rivers in what is now southeastern Connecticut."


“In the last hours of moonlight, May 26, 1637, English Puritans, with Mohegan and Narragansett allies, surround the fortified Pequot village at Missituck (Mystic). Within an hour, 400-700 men, women, and children are put to the sword or burned to death as the English torch the village. Unfamiliar with war targeted at civilians, for the first time Native Tribes experience the total devastating effects of warfare practiced by Europeans. The Mystic massacre turned the tide against the Pequots and broke the tribe's resistance.  Many Pequots in other villages escape and hide among other tribes."

"The English, supported by Uncas' Mohegans, pursue Sassacus and the retreating Pequots down the New England coast until most are either killed or captured and given to tribes friendly to the English.  Some are taken by the English as domestic servants, and a few are sold into slavery. Sassacus and a few of his followers escape, but ultimately are executed by the Mohawks as a token of their friendship toward the English."

Richard Lord, often cited as "Capt. Richard Lord" in the histories, was appointed commander of the first troop of horse raised in the Colony of Connecticut in 1656 and, according to the histories, "distinguished himself in the Indian Wars" which continued in New England right into the 18th century. But the only clue we have as to the military role he may have played almost 20 years earlier in the Pequot War is the statement from the colonial record below.

hartfordarmor.jpg  In describing the first meeting house in Hartford in 1638, the histories state:

"There they had certainly met that spring to confer with some Indian sachems for John Higginson states that it was in an edifice, later Mr Hooker's barn,.. "their second meeting house being then not buylded". There is a record of some costlets* that had been kept in this house, probably suspended from pegs in its walls like ancient armor, which were on April 5th committed to Richard Lord "..to bee fitted vpp". They had been used in the Pequot War..."

*"costlets", or corselets, were pieces of upper body armor, sometimes including articulated sections to cover the thigh. But most likely in New England at this time the item being referred to is a form of breastplate, as seen in these images.

This connection of Richard Lord to the care of the Pequot War armor at Hartford in 1638 has been taken to signify his military role and expertise in the community, and possible major role in the warfare itself. But if we consult the actual text of the original records, a different picture possibly emerges. The existence of these"costlets" at Hartford is explained by the folowong entry in the Colonial Records for March 8th, 1637:

8 o die Martii 1637 

It is ordered that there shal be fiftie Costlets provided in the plantacons vid Harteford 21 Costlets, Windsor 12, Weathersfeild 10, Agawam 7, which are to bee provided within 6 monthes  at farthrest. And the saide Costlets are to be veiwed bv the military officer that is provided for that purpose, and if he disallowe them as insufficient, they are to prvide better. And alsoe yt the saide Townes are to give in the names of such as are to finde the saide Cosletts att the next generall Courte, and then such as shall faile to provide by the day aforsaide shall forthwith pay 10s and five shillings a moneth vntill he hath supplied them, and it shall alsoe be lawful for the saide military officer to call for the saide costeletts to viewe whether they be in repaire or noe .

The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut [1636-1776]

It can be seen that this armor was being distributed in March in preparation for the military action against the Pequots in April and May. And of this consignment of fifty corselets, almost two dozen were to go to Hartford. The reference in the next year (1638) to Richard Lord being assigned to look after two of the ones that were now in the meeting house suggested he was a military man with expertise in taking care of armor.

But if we read the actual text of the order, in the 1638 colonial records, we find this is not exactly what was indicated.



 It is thought meete that the Costlets that were in the last service shal be made good to the Commonwealth and made as serviceable as before and that Richard Lord shall take such Costlets into his Custody as are in the meeting house of Harteford and make them vpp and when they bee fitted vpp, the saide Lord is to bring in his noate and the Courte to appointe one to veiw ye same and when they are certified to bee in good kelter there must be speedy course taken by ye Courte for the speedy payment of the said Lord.

This text reads as if the repair of the armor were being contracted out to a craftsman - a metalsmith - and that he would be paid for that work just like any craftsman. This is extrememly interesting, because Richard's father is listed as a "smith" on the passenger lists for the ship Elizabeth & Ann in the spring of 1635, as he departs London harbor for America. So could this have been his trade, and taught to his son? And if so, this would perhaps explain the "shopp" attributed to Richard in Newtowne in 1633. The evidence seems to point in that direction. Certainly a metalsmith would be worth his weight in gold - literally - in an emerging community like Hartford. And if the houses were to have split shake roofs and plank clapboarding on the sides, this would require a prodigious amount of iron nails. It is doubted that Hooker's company took up precious space in their ships with kegs of nails. And while the settlers could have bartered for nails in Boston, or even in Newtowne, where perhaps Richard was their backsmith as well, for the most part these early pioneering enterprizes were self-sufficient. Supplies of rod iron could easily have come upriver in ships for much less in trade than kegs of finished nails.


By the close of 1636, the Lords were as far removed from their life in Towcester, England, as anyone could be. Facing a cold New England winter at the edge of the wilderness, surrounded by Native villages, which they both feared and depended on, in a new house barely built and with people they barely knew, one can wonder if second thoughts were felt, and if felt, were these thoughts shared, or kept each individual to themself. But for better or worse, this family would remain rooted in the Connecticut Colony for the rest of their lives, and while the children of Thomas and Dorothy each began a life path of their own (see the next webpage) that took them often away from Hartford, this would always be remembered by them as the beginning of something new and potentially wonderful.


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The location of the Lord lots as mapped in 1640 is easy to determine because, as in Newtowne (Cambridge), the original primitive streets and lanes were merely built over and improved, retaining their 17th century pattern. Above you can see how the 1640 Lord lots (top,right) occupied a block bordering a curve of the Little River. That exact same block can easily be seen on the 1890s street map of Hartford (top, left). At that time the Little River still ran as an open stream. In the 20th century the river was run underground and the only remnant today is an elongated pond in Bushnell Park to the north (left). But the curving edge of that block remained, and on it has been built an unusual curving modern condominium building. The street today runs on the path of the river 400 years ago, and the location of the Lord houses would be more or less among those trees at the foundation of that curved building (red rectangle). (Check here for another map comparison.) (Check here for an 1864 birdseye view.)


Hartford - 2008


In the summer of 1636, the Lord family, along with many others, envisioned a modern  town
where the Little River fed into the great Connecticut River. Their idea of "modern" in the
mid-17th century and our idea of "modern" today, were a universe apart!

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The excitement that comes from locating, after much detective work, the very spot on the face of the earth where your ancestors lived, coping with their fears and preserving their fragile hopes for the future, is that one can stand there - on that same spot - and let imagination run wild. Sometimes it is looking at a distant horizon and realizing they also watched that horizon; in this case 400 hundred years ago. But to be able to stand on that spot in the midst of a burgeoining modern city, such as this, staggers the mind. That a small cluster of houses like those at right stood on the edge of a street (red box in photo at left)...rushing with traffic and surrounded by thousands of people living their own lives, dealing with their own anxieties and holding on to their own dreams.... this is an experience without equal. And to find the site not yet swallowed up by 400 years of urban development, but situated pretty much as it was then, on the edge of a river (then of water, today of concrete), is extraordinary.

tantillocredit.jpg      One of the purposes of these webpages is to put flesh on the dry bones of historical record and to  allow the reader to better visualize what life may have been like 400 years ago in the several places and at the different times this family experienced.  And the ample use of images and graphics greatly faciliates that leap from the pages of history to the perception of history.
     Perhaps no-one has better used images to bring back to life the past than artist Len Tantillo, and he has given his kind permission to use several of those images to illustrate these pages, where the time period and subject matter coincide, even though the locations may be a hundred miles apart or more. This project has been greatly enhanced by his willingness to share those images, and I would hope that everyone reading these words will take a moment to visit his website and see  his work.

     Click this link to Len Tantillo's website.                    The painting at left, "Schenectady Town c 1690"

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In September of 1995, a plaque was placed on the site of the Lord homesteads in Hartford. For more about that event, click here.