Signs along trail telltale of forgotten village in Barkhamsted
Published on: Sept 11, 2011
By: Alec Johnson / Republican-American (Waterbury Ct)
Coni Allen Dubois of Louisiana, a descendant of the Lighthouse Tribe that formerly called the People’s Sate Forest in Barkhamsted their home on Saturday unveils one of six new signs installed along a trail telling her ancestor’s history. Alec Johnson / Republican-American
BARKHAMSTED — A little village deep in the woods of People’s State Forest that was abandoned in 1860 is back in the minds of local residents and descendants of the Native Americans who once called the land off East River Road home.
On Saturday, more than 50 people huddled around a trail as a sign telling the story of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village was unveiled from beneath a green tarp by Lighthouse Tribe descendant Coni Allen Dubois.
Dubois, who traveled from Louisiana, and six other descendants of James Chaughum came from across the country for the day.
Chaughum, a member of the Narragansett tribe, and his wife, Molly, an Irish immigrant, settled there around 1740 after being cast away from society because of their relationship.
Six signs tell the story of the village. There is a burial ground, a foundation of a former cabin, stone quarry, grind stone and charcoal kilns (mounds where charcoal that fueled foundries in Litchfield County was made) along a trail that winds up Ragged Mountain.
Kenneth L. Feder, an archaeologist and professor at Central Connecticut State University, since 1985 has studied artifacts and history of the village lived in by Chaughum and his eight children.
Feder said that over his years of studying the area he found it troubling that so few people knew the history of the village. People had no idea there had been a thriving village here with 100 or 150 people, he said. “People have lost the connection to this.”
The signs, sponsored by the Barkhamsted Historical Society were installed over the summer to teach hikers about the forgotten village.
“This story will never be forgotten and it will never die,” Feder said. “The work has resulted in a permanent memorial to the folks who lived here.”
Dubois began studying her family history 19 years ago at the request of her father. The family knew they were descendants of Native Americans, but over the years the history became muddled. Dubois’ studies led her to Barkhamsted years ago and she has returned several times since. Having the signs and accurate history to inform the public of her ancestors, she said was “amazing.”
During earlier visits she found evidence of campfires in the burial ground. “Now people will have more respect for the area and more love for the people that were here,” she said.
Dubois’ sister, Tonia Allen Gould of California, said that at one time historians believed the families that lived in the village had died out, when there are actually thousands of descendants alive.
“It is an amazing tribute to the Lighthouse Indian village ancestors, words can’t express how we feel about that.”
Note from Coni: I have to make one correction: My sister had stated there are thousands of living descendants which is incorrect – I believe she was referring to the 19,000 people that I’ve researched and have on my genealogy file that are on both sided of my family (Mother & Fathers)
I would give a ruff estimate of a few hundred living (everyday finding more and more thou).