Founders of Hartford

Historical marker - Hartford, Connecticut

Historical marker – Hartford, Connecticut

There are 163 men and women listed in the Book of Distribution of Land as being those who settled in Hartford, Connecticut before February 1640.  Their names are inscribed on a monument in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, and I am directly descended from many of them (on both sides of the family! but mostly my mother’s): William Andrews, George Graves, Stephen Hart, Thomas Judd, Ralph Keeler, William Kelsey, Thomas Lord (from whom I am descended on both my mother’s and my father’s side), Matthew Marvin, Thomas Root, Timothy Stanley, Thomas Stanton, George Stocking, Thomas Thompson, (Gov.) John Webster, (Gov.) Thomas Welles and possibly others.  There was also a “George Hubbard” among the founders of Hartford, but he is not “my” George Hubbard (1600-1683).  Many of these pioneers were followers of the Rev. Thomas Hooker and were among the first settlers of “New Towne” (now Cambridge), Massachusetts in 1632.  The “Hooker Company” migrated as a group to the Connecticut Valley and formed the core of the founding settlers of Hartford.  The Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford has an informative website.  Follow the links above for more information on each.

Three of the monuments to the Founders, which can be visted in Hartford, are pictured below:


Calling the original proprietors “founders” is a bit of a misnomer.  Dutch fur traders from New Amsterdam (now New York City) set up trade on the site as early as 1623, following Adriaen Block’s exploration in 1614.  The Dutch named their post Fort Goede Hoop or the ‘Hope House’ (Huys de Hoop) and helped expand the New Netherland colony, roughly analogous to the modern-day New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Tri-State Region, to the banks of the Connecticut River.  Prior to the Dutch arrival, the Native Americans who inhabited the area had called it Suckiaug.  By 1633, Jacob van Curler had added a block house and palisade to the post and New Amsterdam had sent a small garrison and a pair of cannons.  The fort was abandoned by 1654, but its neighborhood in Hartford is still known as Dutch Point.  The first English settlers arrived in 1635, when Rev. Thomas Hooker and Governor John Haynes led 100 settlers with 130 head of cattle in a trek from Newe Towne (now Cambridge, Massachusetts) in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and started their settlement just north of the Dutch fort.



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