TABLE OF CONTENTS
RG 062:112, Town of Pomfret
Inventory of Records
Finding aid prepared by Bruce P. Stark.
Copyright © 2011 by the Connecticut State Library
The town of Pomfret in northern Windham County was incorporated in May 1713. It has historically been divided into two societies, the First Society and Abington Society, a distinction that is seen primarily in Series 10, Tax Records.
Pomfret Town Records consist of seventeen boxes and the papers are arranged in ten series. Tax Records forms the largest series, followed by Election Records, Administrative Records, and Court Records.
Series 1, Administrative Records, 1753-1884, contain a variety of papers, most concerning overseers, roads and highways, town orders, and treasurer materials. The first significant body of papers in Series 1 consists of appointments of overseers (Box 1, folders 2-10). The selectmen appointed overseers over individuals who by "mismanagement, idleness, & Bad Husbandry" were likely to or already "reduced to want." The first such document in the papers appointed Israel Putnam, Jr. as overseer of Darias Cady in April 1775.1 Often the person so appointed served a specific term. Noah Sabin, for example, was designated overseer of Jonathan Waldo on October 18, 1784 for a period of six months.2 In addition, to heads of households, overseers were also appointed for widows and unmarried females thought likely to become town charges. Box 1, folder 12, Petitions for New Town, contains memorials from inhabitants of Pomfret, Thompson, and Killingly in 1852 and 1854 who wished to establish a new town. The General Assembly responded favorably in 1855 and incorporated the town of Putnam. Box 1 also includes ten folders concerning the building and repairing of roads in Pomfret and adjacent Windham County towns. The papers include tax lists used to apportion highway expenses, repair bills, assessments, and bonds for repair contracts. The records contain just two folders of selectmen's records (Box 1, folders 23-24), the second of which holds four annual reports covering the years 1813, 1814, 1815, and 1817.
The bulk of the records in Series 1 consist of papers documenting financial transactions - 2 folders of Town Deposit Fund records, 14 folders of town orders, and 2 boxes of treasurer bills. Income from the Town Deposit Fund helped support primary schools and the Fund treasurer prepared annual reports for the town. Town orders recorded requests from the selectmen to the treasurer to pay an individual a certain sum and charge the town. "Sir, Pay out of the Town Treasury, to Clement Sharpe Six Dollars, twenty-nine Cents and charge the Town."3 Treasurer bills submitted to the town treasurer requesting payment for services rendered contain a great deal of useful historical information. They document services rendered to the town by individuals, care of the poor, general administrative expenses, and repair of roads and bridges. Bills for 1792, for example, include those for a town record book, for taking care of James Bennit and William Carpenter, for legal representation of the town against a lawsuit brought by Capt. James Eldridge, one and one half days work on Mashamoquet Bridge by Caleb Trowbridge, a coffin and grave for a transient man, a bill for laying out a highway, five loads of wood for Samuel Carpenter, and for perambulating the line between Pomfret and Brooklyn.4
The records are particularly useful for information to document care of the town poor. One 1812 folder contains information of town expenses for the care of Luther Bowen, William Carpenter, Isaac Chollar, the child of Deborah Dodge, Nehemiah Dodge and his wife, Ozias Emmons, Willard Howard, Hannah Lyon, Penelope Millar, Hannah Plummer, Nathaniel Randell, the wife of Walter Sharpe, Mary Whitney, Anne Whitwel, and Stephen Williams, among others. Treasurer bills primarily cover the years between 1792 and 1819 and invoices for care of town poor comprise by far the largest percentage of the papers.
Series 2, Poor Relief Records, 1784-1955, fill just two folders in Box 4 and old age assistance tax enrollment cards in Box 26. The bulk of the documentation on this subject in found in treasurer bills. One folder contains correspondence and includes a 1794 letter from the town of Spencer, MA to the selectmen of Pomfret concerning a "Mulatto Woman" who was born in Pomfret and was "weakly & incapable of performing service which merited wages."5 The second folder holds additional documents relating to town paupers. The old age assistance tax enrollment cards contain some of the following information: name, residence, date and place of birth, occupation, employer, property owner, citizen, voter, reason for abatement/exemption, age by year, and date of tax enrollment.
The small series of Land Records, 1781-1873 fills Box 4, folders 16-18. It consists of one folder of articles of agreement and two folders of deeds, mostly concerning town property.
Series 4, Court Records, 1780-1904, filling around three boxes, holds lists of justices of the peace appointments and elections, a volume of records kept by justice Job Williams from 1825-52, one folder of Probate court materials, and almost three boxes of records of Pomfret justices of the peace, papers that also include writs for cases brought before the Windham County Court and Windham County Superior Court that were completed and signed by a local justice of the peace. The documents consist almost exclusively of summoning the accused to appear before a specific court at a specified time and place to respond to charges brought against a person. To cite just one example, on November 6, 1790 Mary Jones was summoned to appear before justice Thomas Grosvenor at his house on November 20, 1790 at 2:00 pm to answer charges brought by David Bissell for an unpaid debt by note.6
By far, the bulk of the lawsuits were for debt, either debt by note or debt by book. Debts by note were those in which one party promised to pay another a certain sum within a specific amount of time along with lawful interest.7 The notes were often called promissory notes. Debts by book represent those owed to shop keepers or artisans for products purchased or services rendered that were recorded in account books. The typical language for writ in a debt by note case included the following: "the Defendant in and by a Certain writing or Note under his hand by him well Executed . . . to pay him for Value received the sum of Forty five Pounds Lawfull Money . . . with Interest until paid."8 A suit to collect a book debt included language along the lines of that "the Defendant render the sum of one hundred and fifty Dollars Which to the Plaintiff he the Defendant justly owes by book, the Balance Book accompts."9 The verso of many writs included information on property attached by constables or deputy sheriffs to ensure that the defendants appeared to answer the charges brought against them. In 1807, for example, Nehemiah Dodge then living in Onondaga County, NY had landed property attached in Abington Society to cover a debt of $15.20 and lawful interest.10
Only rarely were other subjects addressed in Pomfret court records. In one such case, Solomon Bill of Weybridge, VT sued Sylvester Stanley of Pomfret concerning the sale of land in Addison County, VT for which the defendant lacked a clear title.11 Lot Woodward brought suit against John Casey on a charge of trespass for taking a cow worth $30 with force and arms.12 Or, the case in which Warham W. Williams sued William Field of Walpole, NH to provide a reasonable account of the time he served as the plaintiff's bailer and receiver for a promissory note.13 Or, the complaint against Sprague Aldrich for who "did beat, bite, wound and ill treat" Lucien L. Pratt.14 One final example, in 1879 Eddleston Edward Hughes, "a wanderer," was charged with breach of the peace by assaulting Thomas Cassady, threatening to kill him and others in his family and to burn their buildings.15
Series 5, Military Records, 1780-1855 comprise just thirteen folders but they contain a good deal of useful information. The bulk of the papers consist of certificates of military duty, attesting that soldiers attended to his duty for which they received exemptions to the poll tax. Box 8, folder 10 contains rare document-tation on support for the families of Revolutionary War soldiers, bounties given to volunteers, and lists of classes of potential draftees for 1780-82. The list for March 5, 1782, for example, divides potential draftees into three classes.16
Series 6 consists of eleven folders of Vital Records, 1853-1897. Pursuant to an 1852 act of the General Assembly, the registrar for vital records in each town had to submit a record of births, marriages, and deaths for each calendar year. The "Abstract of the Records of Births, Marriages, and Deaths . . . for the year ending December 31st, 1854" listed 43 births, 2 of "Colored Males;" 11 marriages; and 36 deaths, 3 "Colored." In addition, the occupation of around two thirds of the deceased was given along with the causes of death. The twenty causes, a figure that includes 2 unknown, lists, for example, 6 deaths for consumption, 3 premature birth, 2 cancer, and 1 sun stroke.17 The series concludes with two folders of vouchers.
The tiny series for School Records, 1837-1874 fills just six folders. The bulk of the papers consists of materials on the Town Deposit Fund.
One folder of Church Records, 1817-1818 holds fourteen certificates from individuals who "conscientiously dissent from the congregational mode of worship," from the waning days for which an established Congregation Church existed.18
Series 9, Election Records, 1788-1893 is more substantial and fills about one half of a box. It consists of 1 folder of lists of electors, 16 of election returns, and 2 of certificates of electors. The earliest election return dates from 1788 and lists the votes for nomination of representatives to the First Congress of the United States. Benjamin Huntington of Norwich led the poll with forty-seven votes. Col. Thomas Grosvenor of Pomfret had thirty-one votes and ranked eighth.19 In addition to votes for House of Representatives, the records also include those for presidential electors, state office, and a handful for those in local office. One of the few nearly complete election returns in the Early National period is for 1833 that gives the votes for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of the state, treasurer, and state senator.20 The series concludes with three folders of certificates of electors, statements by town clerks affirming that individuals were legal voters of one town before they moved to Pomfret.
Series 10, Tax Records, 1777-1932 is the largest series in Pomfret Town Records, filling seven and one half boxes. It begins with twelve folders of abatements. Taxes on polls and rateable estates were abated in part or in whole, e.g. forgiven, for one of several reasons, including incorrect initial assessments, performance of military duty, and illness, although the reasons were often not given. At a meeting of the civil authority in 1815, for example, the polls for more than thirty-five persons were abated "on account of Sickness, Lameness & infirmity."21
The bulk of the records consist of tax abstracts for most years between 1791 and 1849 for the First Society and Abington Society. The abstracts contain detailed information on heads of households. The information captured for each head consists the total value of taxable estate, the number of male polls over the age of sixteen, the number and quantity of livestock, the amount and character of land, for example, plow land, boggy meadow, and wood land, plus selected items of personal property and chimneys. Personal property taxed in 1797 consisted of chaises, silver watches, brass wheel clocks, wooden wheel clocks, silver plate, and money at interest.22 The tax list for 1823 rates land differently, but adds categories mills, stores, distilleries, and manufactures, and includes assessments for insurance, turnpike, state bank, and United States Bank stock. Chimneys are no longer taxed, yet carriages, wagons, and money loaned at interest still are.23
1Series 1 Administrative Records, Overseers, appointment of, Box 1, folder 2.
3Series 1, Administrative Records, Town orders, Dec. 17, 1821, Box 1, folder 28.
4Series 1, Administrative Records, Treasurer: bills, Box 2, folders 9-10.
5Series 2, Pauper Records, Joseph Pope to the Selectmen of Pomfret, Dec. 10, 1794, Box 4, folder 14.
6Series 4, Court Records, David Bissell v. Mary Jones, Nov. 6, 1790, Box 4, folder 29.
7Justices of the peace almost invariably used printed forms in lawsuits for debt, although the majority of handwritten writs also concerned debt.
8Ibid, Timothy Lester v. Amasa Dealoph, Jan. 29, 1782, Box 4, folder 24.
9Ibid, Jared Warner v. Jason Angell, Feb. 3, 1800, Box 5, folder 4.
10Ibid, Asa Kimball v. Nehemiah Dodge, June 2, 1807, Box 5, folder 9. As a rule, the amount of property attached was at least twice the amount owed.
11Ibid, Solomon Bill v. Sylvester Stanley, Mar. 6, 1806, Box 5, folder 8.
12Ibid, Lot Woodward v. John Casey, Oct. 17, 1807, Box 5, folder 9.
13Ibid, Warham W. Williams v. William G. Field, May 25, 1828, Box 5, folder 21.
14Ibid, State v. Sprague Aldrich, Aug. 11, 1832, Box 6, folder 7.
15Ibid, State v. Eddelson Edward Hughes, Apr. 14, 1879, Box 7, folder 9.
16Ibid, Box 8, folder 10
17Series 6, Vital Records, Box 8, folder 11.
18Series 8, School Records, Box 8, folder 28.
19Series 9, Election Records, Box 8, folder 30.
20Ibid, Box 9, folder 11.
21Ibid, Box 9, folder 24.
22Ibid, Box 12, folder 1.
23Ibid, Box 14, folder 3.
Restrictions on Access
These records are stored at an off-site facility and therefore may not be available on a same-day basis.
Boxes 12-14 are RESTRICTED because they contain fragile tax abstracts and can only be seen after approval is granted by the state archivist or his designee upon completion of the access to restricted records form.
Restrictions on Use
See the Reproduction and Publications of State Library Collections policy.
The following are found in the Classified Archives:
Connecticut. Justice of the peace (Pomfret)
Church records and registers -- Connecticut -- Pomfret
Elections -- Connecticut -- Pomfret -- Statistics
Justices of the peace -- Connecticut -- Pomfret
Local taxation -- Connecticut -- Pomfret -- Registers
Property tax -- Connecticut -- Pomfret -- Registers
Soldiers -- Connecticut -- Pomfret
Tax assessment -- Connecticut -- Pomfret -- Registers
Taxation -- Connecticut -- Pomfret -- Registers
Voting -- Connecticut -- Pomfret -- Statistics
Voting registers -- Connecticut -- Pomfret
Writs -- Connecticut -- Pomfret
Pomfret (Conn.) -- Records and correspondence
Pomfret (Conn.) -- Statistics, Vital
The records were donated to the Connecticut State Library by the town of Pomfret. The old age assistance tax enrollment cards were transferred to the State Library in December 2010 and assigned accession number 2011-083.