II. The Story of The Barkhamsted Lighthouse and of the Early Settlers –– A Short History of Riverton, Conn. by Edmund L. Smiley, M.A. (Boston University) ( Published by the Author, August 25, 1934) Our very first settler was an Indian. In 1740, or thereabout, there lived in Wethersfield a Narragansett Indian youth whose birthplace had been Block Island, but who had made his way to Wethersfield, and had adopted the ways of white people, and to some extent had established himself in their regard. There also lived in Wethersfield at the time a maiden named Molly Barber, who had been forbidden by her father to marry the man of her choice – and who was so filled with rage at his interference that she vowed she would marry the first man who proposed to her — no matter what manner of man he might be. The Indian youth from Block Island – whose name was James Chaugham (usually pronounced “Shawm´´ or “Shawn”) – saw his opportunity and proposed to Molly Barber forthwith. They were promptly married; and, fearing ostracism or desiring privacy, they journeyed into the northern wilderness and settled upon the east bank of the West Branch of the Farmington River at a point two miles south of Riverton near what is now the Whittemore Camping Ground in the People´s Forest. Here they built a log cabin, and established the first home ever located in the township of Barkhamsted. They were blessed with eight children, six of whom married. They have many descendants. Long afterward a turnpike or toll-road was built along the bank of the river, which ran directly by the Shawn dwelling. Stage drivers, at nightfall, as they made their way along this turnpike, journeying southward from the Albany road would watch for the light streaming through the chinks in the Shawn cabin, and would shout´ to their passengers: “There´s Barkhamsted light-house; only five miles more to New Hartford – the end of the route!
IX. Concluding Notes and Acknowledgments – This is Riverton´s first printed history.
Its sources have been:
Centennial and Sesquicentennial Volumes of Barkhamsted history published by William Wallace Lee and Orville H. Ripley, respectively;
Barber´s Connecticut Historical Collections, published 1836;
Lee´s List of Barkhamsted Soldiers; J. W. Lewis & Co.´s
History of Litchfield County; The Episcopal Parish Record dating from 1828, loaned by Hon. Leon A. Coe;
Congregational Parish Record, loaned by Mrs. Minnie Rowley, clerk of the church;
the Record of Hitchcocksville Burying Ground Proprietors, also loaned by Mrs. Rowley; Charles R. Hale´s
Headstone Inscriptions, Town of Barkhamsted, 1933; and personal recollections, photographs and other data, furnished by Rev. Dr. Sherrod Soule, Hartford,
Mrs. Mabel Roberts Moore of Hartford, Mr. Irving `Manchester of Winsted, Mr. Frank Chapin of New Hartford, Mr. Frank Alford of New Britain, Mr. George Godard, State Librarian, and Mr. Carleton S. Roberts, Hon. Laurence H. Roberts, Mr. Clarence E. Ward, Mr. Byron Tiffany, Mr. Homer Deming and many others in and near Riverton.
The author of this history hereby offers grateful acknowledgment to all who have assisted him in any way. If readers of this short history are as thrilled by Riverton´s story as the writer has been, he will feel well repaid for the effort of telling It.
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