The Filley legacy

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The Filley legacy 350 years of American history
Southerton, Donald G
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 292-310).
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Department of History
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by Donald G. Southerton.

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Full Text
Donald G. Southerton
B.A., University of Colorado at Denver
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts

2002 by Donald G. Southerton
All rights reserved

This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Donald G. Southerton
has been approved

Southerton, Donald G. (M.A., History)
The Filley Legacy: 350 Years of American History
Thesis directed by Professor Mark S. Foster
The Filley Legacy: 350 Years of American History is a return to the
narrative, once the backbone of historical scholarship. This study focuses on the
Filley family and its involvement in a number of key collective experiences in
American history including Puritan settlement in New England; the Great
Migration; the Colonial wars; Yankee trading; the movement west; Abolition in
Missouri; homesteading in Nebraska; progressivism; World War One, and the
rise of American Medicine.
The saga begins with William Filley, who settled in Puritan-dominated
Connecticut during the early seventeenth century. His descendants fought in the
French and Indian War; attended the religious revival meetings of the Great
Awakening; and waged war against the British in the fight for American
By the early nineteenth century, two branches of the family developed.
One branch followed the Jeffersonian model of the yeoman farmer. These Filley
sons and daughters cultivated the land. While some remained in Connecticut,
others ventured west to Michigan and then to post-Civil War Nebraska
Other Filleys embraced the Hamiltonian model and became Yankee
traders. After developing a flourishing tinsmith business in Connecticut, the

family expanded its enterprise to New York, Philadelphia, and west to St. Louis.
The St. Louis Filleys, as ardent abolitionists, supported the North and became
key participants in the struggle for Missouri to remain with the Union during the
Civil War. After the war, their business ventures grew, and the Excelsior
Manufacturing Company became the largest stoveworks in the country.
The twentieth century found Filleys in manufacturing and public service.
Dwight Filley Davis, a tennis enthusiast, who created the Davis Cup, dedicated
his life to public service. Frank Herbert Filley entered the rope manufacturing
business. His hard work allowed his children and grandchildren to obtain college
educations and seek careers outside manufacturing in medicine, science, private
business, and the arts.
The Filleys represent a slice of the American experience. They share this
experience with thousands of families of colonial origin. Together they raised
their families and built this country. Through this family, we can catch a glimpse
into times long gone and vicariously connect to a part of our own collective past.
This abstract accurately represents the contents of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Mark S. Foster

My thanks to my graduate advisor, Mark S. Foster, for his guidance and support.

1. A NOTION OF HEAVEN........................................1
The Puritans..............................................2
The Puritan Exodus......................................5
Early Windsor.............................................9
William Filley Arrives...................................21
The Town.................................................22
Colonial Government......................................25
The Filley Farm..........................................27
Agrarian Life............................................31
Windsor Government.......................................40
2. PURITAN TO YANKEE IN A TIME OF UNREST....................47
Local Government.........................................47
The Filleys in Court.....................................50
Legal Battles..........................................51

Land Control.................................................56
Religion in the Early 1700s..................................60
The Great Awakening..........................................61
Colonial Government..........................................65
The Wars.....................................................66
The Aftermath................................................70
Taxes and Discontent.........................................71
3. The Filleys Go To War.........................................74
Slide to War.................................................76
First Blood..................................................78
Early War Efforts............................................81
Bunker Hill..................................................83
The Invasion of Canada.......................................87
The Siege of Boston..........................................88
War Goes Badly for the Colonies..............................90
Valley Forge

4. THE YANKEE TINSMITHS........................................100
Connecticut Recovers from the War..........................102
Connecticut Federalists....................................103
Daily Life.................................................104
The Rise of the Yankee Traders.............................110
The Tinsmith.............................................110
Oliver Filley, Jr., Tinsmith and Yankee Trader...........112
War Returns to Connecticut.................................114
5. THE FILLEYS MOVE WEST.......................................121
Giles Franklin Filley......................................124
The Filleys in Early St. Louis.............................127
The Cousins................................................129
Ammi Filley................................................129
The Abduction of Young William.............................130
The Great Michigan Conspiracy..............................138

Yankee Reformers and the Slide to War.................150
War Comes to St. Louis................................159
The Filleys Support the War Effort....................162
The Filleys in Post War St. Louis.....................166
7. THE FILLEY HOMESTEADERS................................178
Elijah Filley.........................................180
Filley Cousins Arrive.................................193
The Calamity of 1874..................................196
The Elijah Filley Stone Bam...........................197
Daily Life on the Prairie.............................199
Family Births and Deaths..............................201
The Town..............................................203
Filley, Nebraska......................................205
Rise of the Populists.................................208
The Dawn of the Twentieth Century.....................209

8. FRANK HERBERT FILLEY.....................................212
Chauncey Filley and the Elections of 92 and 96........212
Frank Herbert Filley....................................219
The Colt Family.........................................223
Frank Herbert and Mary Go East..........................227
Life in Greenwich.......................................230
Dwight Filley Davis.....................................241
Tennis, Harvard, and the Davis Cup......................245
Dwight Filley Davis Returns to St. Louis................247
Public Service..........................................248
World War 1.............................................253
Secretary of War........................................257
The Philippines.........................................262
World War II............................................268

The Denver Filleys Home Life..............................278
The Sons...................................................283
Dwight Filley............................................283
Giles Franklin Filley IV.................................284
Christopher Mark Filley..................................285
Jonathan Filley..........................................286
11. WHAT IS THE FILLEY LEGACY..................................288
Yankee Traders.............................................289
Public Service.............................................289
Yankee Innovators..........................................290
Lessons Learned............................................290

1.1 Windsor Town Map....................................................28
6.1 Charter Oak Stove..................................................149
6.2 The Excelsior Manufacturing Company................................167
6.3 Eads Bridge........................................................172
6.4 Cup Given to Giles Franklin Filley by National Association.........174

1.1 Residence and Wealth, Windsor, Connecticut.........................25
6.1 Average Weekly Wages, Excelsior Stoveworks, 1869...................168

God Sifted [sic] the whole nation that he might send choice Grain [sic] over into
the wilderness, The New England Mind: From Colony to Province, Perry Miller.
In the spring of 1639, Reverend Ephraim Huit, an ousted Anglican
minister, left his Warwickshire parish in England with a few loyal followers. He
traveled into the neighboring counties of Dorset, Somerset, and Dorchester,
gathering a group to take with him on the ten week voyage to America, in search
of a New Jerusalem. After arriving in Boston the group grew in number, adding
other people already in Massachusetts, and set out for a new destinationthe rich
farmlands of the Connecticut River valley at the confluence of the Farmington
and Connecticut Rivers. A twenty-four year old Englishman, William Filley,
joined Huits gathering. He was the first of thirteen generations of Filleys in
America. We know nothing of William before his arrival in Windsor,
Connecticut, but having been bom in early seventeenth century (1615), he would
have witnessed many of the events and trends of his day. This chapter examines
William Filleys world, in both England and the British America.1
1 Daily (or everyday) Puritan life in colonial New England has been explored by many notable
scholars including John Demos, A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1970) and The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early
America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). Other pertinent titles are: Philip Greven,
Four Generations: Population, Land, and Family in Colonial Andover, Massachusetts (Ithaca,
New York: Cornell University Press, 1970), Richard L. Bushman, From Puritan to Yankee:
Character and Social Order in Connecticut, 1690-1765 (New York: Norton Press, 1967),
Michael Zuckerman, Peaceable Kingdoms: New England Towns in the Eighteenth Century (New

Filleys Puritan world was interesting and peculiar when compared to our
modem society. Labor was sacred and grounded in communal behavior.
Williams experiences in the New World would be in a unique moral-cultural
system. New England Puritans developed a society to control itself: it
encouraged private ownership, but kept it checked and balanced in moral
restraint. When Filley arrived in America he was of modest means; however,
through hard work he progressed socio-economically. It was upon this base that
generations of Williams descendants built their fortunes.
The Puritans
English businessmen operating joint stock trade companies in the early
1600s were primarily responsible for establishing many early settlements in the
New World. The crown granted trade companies an exclusive right to develop a
region economically. The British monarchy derived its claim to the New *
York: Knopf, 1970), Kenneth A. Lockridge, A New England Town: The First One Hundred Years
of Dedham, Massachusetts, 1636-1736 (New York: Norton, 1970), and Sumner Chilton Powell,
Puritan Village: The Formation of a New England Town (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan
University Press, 1963). But none directly dealt with the unique river town life of Windsor. For
example, Demos wrote about the settlers in Plymouth and Deerfield, Massachusetts; Greven
about Puritans in Andover, Massachusetts; and Zuckerman about eighteenth-century
Massachusetts. I drew upon material from these sources, but my research focused on seventeenth-
century Windsor or the neighboring river townsHartford and Wethersfield that developed a
similar culture. This chapter explores seventeenth-century New England though William Filleys
2 Stephen Innes, Creating the Commonwealth: The Economic Culture of Puritan New England
(New York and London: W. W. Norton and Company, 1995), p. 7

World from John Cabots 1497-98 discovery of New England and the kings
status as a Christian monarch.3
Englands first permanent colony in the Western hemisphere was
Jamestown Plantation, in 1607. A second colony, Plymouth Plantation, was
founded in 1620, south of present day Boston. The Spanish were the first
Europeans to exploit the Americas, and the French, Swedish, and Dutch also
established early settlements and trade companies; they too were eager to solidify
their countries claims in the New World.
Many of these countries recruited people, through advertising and offers
of free land, to settle or plant in the colonies. Some sought fame and fortune,
some looked for religious freedom, and many fled poverty and hunger. The New
England area attracted Puritan English CongregationalistsSeparatists and non-
Separatists-and between 1629 and 1640 over fifteen thousand people
immigrated to this region.
Calvinism and its belief in predestination and a divine covenant with God
influenced these radical Congregationalists. Predestination, in the Calvinist
doctrine, argued that the human state was one of sin and that most people were
irrevocably hell-bound, except for an elect-the visible saints. Therefore, since
no one was sure who was one of the chosen, the Congregationalists tried to act as
3 William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England
(New York: Hill and Wang, 1983), p. 69

if they were bound for heaven. This led to a strict morality that dominated the
Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut colonies. In fact, the Separatists, who settled
the Plymouth Colony in 1620, felt the Church of England (also known as the
Anglican Church) was so corrupt and evil that they must separate themselves
from its dark influence. The Puritans, mostly from the middle strata of English
society, felt they needed to purify the Church through reform. They sought to
bring the church to a state of purity and return Christianity to what it had been
during Christs time. The Puritans believed that the Anglican Church had not
carried the Reformation far enough and that church must be stripped of its
ceremonies and vestments. These religious beliefs led Puritans to be viewed by
the Crown as radicals and non-conformists.
Moreover, from Englands pulpits, Puritan ministers lectured their
congregations on the sins of the Anglican Churchchurch idolatry, superstition,
and failure to keep the Sabbath sacred. In the ministers self-righteous eyes, an
evil epidemic was spreading across the kingdom, one in which the people
blasphemed, committed adultery, and fornicated. 4 Their opposition to the
established Anglican Church proved costly, and many Puritans suffered torture,
whipping, and ear removal. 5 By opposing the Church, which was headed by the
4 J. T. Cliffe, Puritans in Conflict (London and New York: Routledge, 1988), p. 1
5 Michael Gruber, The English Revolution: A Concise History (New York: Ardmore Press, 1967),

king, the Puritans were seen as a threat to the state and the monarchy, too. The
Puritans radical beliefs, their challenge to the authority of the Crown, and the
efforts by the Church and Crown to suppress them, motivated Congregationalists
to seek the promised land.
The Puritan Exodus
Four factors drove Puritans from England during the mid-seventeenth
century. The first was the monarchies of King James I and his son Charles I.
James I succeeded the popular Elizabeth I in 1603 and longed to rule England as
an absolute monarch.6 James and his son ruled England in constant conflict with
their Parliaments. Much to the dismay of many English, both monarchs dissolved
Parliament numerous times. In 1629, Charles prevented Parliament from
convening, and it was eleven years before it met again. Ultimately, by mid-
century the English Puritans rose up against Charles in civil war.
Second, the Puritans did not agree with the religious politics of their
kings. James I, angered by the futility of trying to the force Puritans into
conformity, stated, If this be your party [sic] hath to say, I will make them
conform themselves or else I will harry them out of the land or else do worse. 7
Puritan persecutions increased, with 300 clergy forced from their parishes and
6 Ibid., p. 13
7 Ibid., p. 17

fines levied. Upon Charless succession in 1625, he intensified this persecution.
Charles opposed the Puritans even more than his father, and he had even married
a Catholic. The new queen, Henrietta Maria, was the daughter of King Louis XIII
of France. Catholic priests and servants were soon seen in the English court. This
suspected papal influence further upset Puritans and non-Puritans alike. Some
Puritans saw the rise of Catholicism in the royal courts as an evil omen that
heralded the end of the world.
In 1629, William Laud, noted for his love of ceremony and his strict
adherence to the Anglican Church rites, was appointed Bishop of London. He
began promoting religious programs he called the beauty of holiness, a return
to ritual and the high church. More importantly, Laud began a campaign of
persecuting those opposed to the Anglican Churchthe Catholics and Puritans.
As time passed, Charles relied more on Laud in dealing with the radical Puritans.
After Charles promoted him to Archbishop of Canterbury, Laud set to work
barring Puritan ministers from their churches.8 9 Furthermore, Laud visited
churches and required them to conform to Anglican edicts, and overruled Puritan
customs that prohibited work on the Sabbath. He also re-instituted fining
8 Burton W. Spears, Search for Passengers of Mary and John, 1630 (Toledo, Ohio: B. W.
Spears, 1985), p. 2
9 Gruber, The English Revolution, p. 49

parishioners who did not attend Anglican Church services. Those who openly
opposed him endured imprisonment and torture.10
The third factor that drove the Puritans from England was that Charles
drifted into war with both France and Spain in 1626.11 12 Among other actions, he
had aggravated the French king (his father-in-law) by harboring ousted French
Protestants, the Huguenots. Charles also excluded the queens Catholic entourage
from the English court. In order to fund the unpopular war, he began to tax his
subjects. Charles raised £8 million but sent those unable to pay to prison, further
aggravating English citizens.
The fourth and final factor was economic. The Agrarian History of
England and Wales noted that the period between 1620 and 1650 was one of the
most terrible in English history. 13 Food prices rose, wages dropped, and the cost
of living and taxes increased (especially on beer and tobacco). 14
Cumulatively, these events prompted a mass exodus called the Great
Migration. This began in 1630, when fourteen ships and over 1,500 settlers,
10 Ibid., p. 17
11 Ibid., p. 38
12 Ezra H. Byington, The Puritan in England and New England (1900; reprint, New York: Burt
Franklin Press, 1972), p. 64
13 Joan Thirsk, ed., The Agrarian History of England and Wales, vol. 4, (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1967), pp. 620-621
14 W.G. Hoskins, "Harvest Fluxuations and the English Economic History," Agricultural History
Review 16 (1968): 90-97, 281-282

under Puritan John Winthrops supervision, sailed for the New World. 15 This
groups jurisdiction came under the Massachusetts Bay charter, a different entity
than the Virginia Company that established the Jamestown and Plymouth
Plantations. 16 Eventually the Boston based group would absorb their neighbors
in Plymouth and expand into Connecticut.
Also aggressively laying claims in New England were the Dutch.
Initially, the Dutch West Indies Company established trading post settlements in
what are today New York City and Albany. They then began to move up the
coast to Connecticut. In colonial policy and objectives, the New England English
Puritans and the Dutch differed substantially; the main goal of the Dutch was
trade with the American Indians, whereas the English Puritans were looking for a
permanent home.
In the 1630s the Massachusetts Colony population grew rapidly with the
arrival of nearly one hundred ships full of people who had fled oppression, a poor
economy, and massive governmental upheaval (which eventually resulted in
Charles Is beheading). By the mid 1630s, the Bay Colony inhabitants began to
expand inland and into Connecticuta name derived from the American Indian
15 The Great Migration was rather modest when compared to the subsequent waves of
immigration of the mid to late nineteenth century. One factor restricting this early immigration
was difficulty in moving large numbers of people across the Atlantic on small, wind-powered
16 Subsequent charters by the British Crown were granted for Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, New
Jersey, and Maryland.

word for long tidal river. Several factors contributed to groups of Bay settlers
moving inland. One was the Bay areas poor farming conditions that resulted
from numerous marshes and wetlands. This lack of good agricultural land
prompted farmers to seek the abundant farmlands inland. The second reason for
the movement out of the area was the Bay Colonys oligarchic government,
controlled by a few select Puritans. Some of the rival Puritan group leaders felt
restricted under Governor Winthrops version of Puritanism. All of these factors
motivated these groups to move inland so they could practice their version of
Calvinism with their own gatherings.
Early Windsor
The Connecticut River Valley began to be settled by several Anglo
groups including the Dutch, and the English Separatists, and Puritans. The Dutch
had first explored the Connecticut River region in 1614 and hoped to establish
trade with the local tribes of American Indians.17 The Dutch traders settled in the
Hartford area after buying a strip of land from the regional Pequot Indians in
June of 1633. Jacob Van Curler led the Dutch group and built a small fort for
protection and trade. 18 Meanwhile, a local tribe of Americans Indians (who prior
17 Whenever possible specific tribal names will be used to identify Americas indigenous people.
Otherwise, the term American Indian will be used.
18 Albert E. Van Dusen, Puritans Against the Wilderness (Chester, Connecticut: The Pequot
Press, 1975), p. 24

to being overrun by the Pequots had lived in the Connecticut River valley) sent
their Sagamore (tribal chief), Waghinpuut, to the Plymouth Colony. Waghinpuut,
wisely wishing to exploit his lands economic possibilities, encouraged the
Plymouth colonists to begin trading with his tribe and build a settlement in the
fertile cropland of the Connecticut River valley. Additionally, Waghinpuut,
traveled to Winthrops Bay Colony to promote the Connecticut Valley region to
its leaders. This was an example of local tribes building alliances with opposing
Anglo groups and playing one European group against the otherthe Dutch and
English. Anglos would soon use the same strategy against the regions American
The Plymouth planters, wishing to repay their English investors
quickly, were the first to respond to the American Indian invitation. They
dispatched William Holmes in September of 1633 who established a trading
post.19 Holmes planned to trade with the local tribes for beaver furs, hemp, and
black lead (graphite). Holmess Plymouth group brought with them a
prefabricated house and occupied the land at the confluence of the Connecticut
and Farmington rivers called Mattaneaug, the first of what would be Windsors
three colonial era names. Here they set up a trading post on land bought from the
areas local Indian tribe, rivals of the Pequots. The Plymouth settlers quickly
erected a palisade for their protection. This action irritated the Dutch West Indies
19 Ibid.

Company in Hartford, which felt it had legal claim to the region. Reacting to the
Plymouth groups encroachment, the Dutch, seventy men strong, marched on the
English settlement in Mattaneaug, and hoped to frighten the squatters away.
The Plymouth group, however, held its ground and did not retreat. The Dutch,
not wanting bloodshed, reluctantly withdrew to their trading post in Hartford.
One concern of the Mattaneaug settlers was the legal ownership of the
region other than by the Indians. The English crown had granted title to the
region to the Earl of Warwick. Then in March of 1632, the royal claim was
transferred to a group of London investors. Subsequently, a small band of their
employees, including indentured servants as laborers, traveled up the Connecticut
River and settled near the Plymouth group. The Plymouth settlers, in the eyes of
the investment group, were squatters. Following a series of complex legal
negotiations, the investors gave full jurisdiction of the Mattaneaug to the
Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635. The investors in London realized that they
did not have the resources to control the area. This opened the door for the next
group of Mattaneaug settlersThe Dorchester Puritans.
Eventually, control of the region would fall to a fourth groupthe
Dorchester Puritans. This group set sail from Plymouth, England, having been
originally gathered by Reverend John White. 20 Although a moderate Puritan
who never separated from the Anglican Church, White aggressively supported
20 Spears, Search for Passengers of Mary and John, p. 2

non-conformist Puritans pursuit of religious liberty. One of the original
organizers of the Massachusetts Bay Company, he never planned to leave
England, but felt that the New World was the perfect place for the more radical
Puritans to live in accordance with their beliefs, unhampered by English rule.
White organized a group composed of families from shires in Dorset, Somerset,
and Devon.
To prepare for the crossing, Puritan families liquidated their properties
and acquired supplies needed for their venture. Organizers suggested people
bring four types of supplies. The first was apparel. Included in this list were six
pairs of shoes and a pair of boots; six pairs of stockings; six shirts; twelve
handkerchiefs and a foul weather overcoat. Next, they were expected to bring an
assortment of tools including a shovel, hatchets, a hammer and axes for clearing
the land and constructing a home. Finally, they were also expected to bring
fishing gear and weapons to defend themselves. The Massachusetts Bay
Company estimated that these supplies would cost about seventeen pounds, plus
another two pounds to ship the supplies to Boston. It cost a family of four over
twenty five pounds to make the trip and that amount of money was a respectable
sum, equal to a typical familys annual income. Less affluent individuals needed
at least fifteen pounds to cover expenses. With the expenses of the trip exceeding

the annual rent of an English farm, poor people were not populating New
England. It took money to leave England.21 22 23
Before their departure, the Dorchester group selected two ministers,
Reverends John Warham and John Maverick, and together the group sailed on
the Mary and John, a 400-ton ship that was one of the largest British merchant
ships. The crossing contained an element of danger, but the English had been
traversing the North Atlantic Ocean for a century. The Mary and John passengers
endured the misery of high seas poor sanitation, confined spaces, and
seasickness before eventually adapting to the journey. To fight the boredom
and monotony at sea, the passengers conducted their daily church service and
bible study, and walked the deck; the children played games and watched the
fish, porpoises, and an occasional whale.
Arriving in Boston during the spring of 1630, the group settled in an area
called Mattapan by the local tribes of American Indians. The Puritans named
their settlement Dorchester in honor of their benefactor, Reverend White, who
lived in Dorchester, England. The Dorchester group represented an interesting
trait in the early English colonial settlements: the transfer of a church
21 Virginia DeJohn Anderson, New Englands Generation: The Great Migration and the
Formation of Society and Culture in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1991), pp. 60-62
22 Ibid.
23 Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor, vol. 2, (1891; reprint, Somersworth: New
Hampshire Publishing Company, 1976), p. 22

congregation to America.24 In the new colony these congregations relocated to
one specific town, analogous to bees swarming and rebuilding a hive. This
movement was for the most part, communal, not individual, (an example of how
seventeenth century New England culture is alien to us).
By 1635, a four-fold growth in their population (from the original group
of 140), and factional discontent with the Bay Colonys land opportunities and
politics, prompted a group of the settlers to look outside the Bay area. In the
summer of 1635, a vanguard of the Dorchester group traveled from the Bay
Colony to Mattaneaug and squatted on unoccupied land, much to the
dissatisfaction of the already established Plymouth settlers. That fall, as the New
England trees changed colors and began to lose their leaves, seventy members of
the Massachusetts Bay group headed overland, led by their civil leader Roger
Ludlow, who had come from the ranks of English gentry. The group of men,
women and children, driving their livestock before them, crossed one hundred
miles of rivers, swamps, and thickets in a two week journey. A similar journey
led the next year by future Connecticut leader and governor Thomas Hooker was
immortalized in Frederic Churchs 1846 Hudson River School painting.25
24 David Gayson Allen, In English Ways (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981),
p.17 map; Allen discussed migration forces in his text, specifically, religious forces on pages
25 Louise Minks, The Hudson Valley School (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1999), p. 94. The
painting evokes a powerful myth-driven image of settlers taming the wilderness.

Hookers group of Puritans, who had initially settled in another part of the Bay
Colony, would found Hartford, Connecticut, ten miles south of Mattaneaug.
The overland trek behind them, the Dorchester group arrived at its
destination and joined the vanguard group that had arrived there the previous
summer. They quickly set up a village of crude tents on the banks overlooking
the Connecticut River. The group found rich meadowland, and cleared fields,
which they felt had been conveniently abandoned by the local American Indians.
No sooner had they begun to get settled in their primitive enclave and secure
their livestock when a surprise New England winter storm struck the region,
freezing the river and preventing their two supply ships from reaching the
settlement. As the winter winds and cold descended on the Dorchester group,
thirteen members, out of the nearly one hundred men, women, and children, fled
overland back to Boston for fear of starvation. One member of the group died
during the ten day ordeal after falling through ice and drowning. The rest escaped
perishing in the cold by finding shelter in an Indian wigwam. Additionally, six of
the colonists tried to return in a small open boat only to be shipwrecked. After
days of wandering on foot they luckily arrived in Plymouth Colony. Desperate
from lack of food and supplies, seventy of the Dorchester group fled south and
followed the riverbanks in search of their relief ship. Traveling in knee-deep
snow without shelter the men, women, and children braved the hostile
conditions, and finally found another small ship out of Boston, the Rebecca,

frozen in ice near the mouth of the Connecticut River, fifty miles south of the
settlement. Miraculously, a warm rainstorm freed the ship, and after five days of
travel the group returned to Boston for the winter. A few of the Dorchester
settlers did, however, remain in Mattaneaug (Windsor) over the winter, surviving
on acorns and the generosity of the local tribes, despite losing most of their
precious livestock (worth £2,000, an astonishing amount of money in the
seventeenth century) to starvation and exposure. 26 (During this time, oxen were
valued at fourteen pounds, ten shillings, horses at ten pounds, and sheep at
twenty four shilling a head).27
Their resolve not jarred by that winters misfortune, the Dorchester group
returned in force with Roger Ludlow and their minister, John Warham in the
spring of 1636. The group quickly settled, and subdued the land around the
Plymouth groups earlier claim and jurisdiction. They renamed the town
Dorchester, which led to considerable discord between the Plymouth group and
Dorchester Puritans. The Plymouth settlers eventually yielded to the Dorchester
groups claims on a share of land, which they called Lords Wasteland unused
by the Pilgrims. Ultimately, the controversy was resolved when the Dorchester
26 Stiles, Ancient Windsor, vol.l, pp. 52-54
27 Jackson Turner Main, Society and Economy in Colonial Connecticut (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1985), p. 57 Appendix 2A. The price of livestock dropped as greater numbers
were shipped to the colonies from England.

group purchased the Plymouth settlers land for £3,710. Control of the region
was now firmly in the hands of the Puritans.
The influx of settlers into the Connecticut River valley established
Wethersfield, Hartford, and Dorchester (Windsor) as tightly organized,
homogeneous river towns during the mid-1630s. While linked to the
Massachusetts Colony by migration, belief, and commerce, Connecticut river
towns were insulated from Massachusetts Bay politics. The river towns
geography allowed local religious societies to evolve differently. However, there
were two forces that bound all the early Puritan colonists together. The first was
based on a belief in covenants, a divine contract between God and His electthe
Puritan. Additionally, Puritans modeled all social relations on covenants,
between the minister and the congregation, between the local magistrate and
community, and the men and their families.
The second force, vital to the Puritan lifestyle, was the need to maintain
order. Sin and disorder were seen as equivalents, and a well ordered town was a
sign of Gods dominion. Together these forces contributed to New Englands
rapid growth and success. In contrast, the southern Chesapeake Bay colonies saw
high death rates in their early years due to diseases not seen in the North, severe
mismanagement, strained relations with the local Indian tribes, inadequate food

supplies, and no profitable food exports. Life expectancy for men in Windsor
was a full seventy years, considerably more than that of the Chesapeake area
men, who might live into their forties.28 29 30 One could imagine New Englands
Puritans seeing their success as a Divine gesture and the Virginia Colonys
suffering as Gods punishment.
Another powerful force in the development of the colonies was the desire
for land.31 England had, over time, sub-divided the ownership of its surplus
land. Traditionally, upon the fathers death in England, the eldest son became
sole heir to the familys property; other male siblings might obtain some modest
section of the family property, but with each generation the allotments grew
smaller. Eventually, land became scarce, prompting great numbers of English to
look across the Atlantic to the New World, including the Connecticut River
valley. The abundance of land in Connecticut motivated settlers to travel one
hundred miles inland through dense forests or travel the dangerous coastal route
around shipwreck littered Cape Cod. This region offered exceptional soil, an
abundance of game, fish, and wildlife, and tremendous virgin forests next to very
28 John J. McCuster and Russell R. Menard, The Economy of British America-. 1607-1789
(Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 1985), pp. 117-118
29 Main, Society and Economy, p. 7
30 The English government controlled the Chesapeake colony, and thus imposed on its inhabitants
the Anglican Church.
31 Anderson, New Englands Generation, p. 145

navigable rivers, the right combination for sawmills, lumber production, and
shipbuilding. Additionally, the region offered trade with the Connecticut Rivers
local Indian tribes, who were perceived friendly.
Unlike the American Indian tribes in the Massachusetts and Plymouth
region, the Connecticut Indians were numerous and had been less affected by the
influx of European diseases in coastal areas. According to Connecticut historian
Benjamin Trumbull, the Connecticut Valley originally had ten distinct tribes
including Podunts, Poquonocks, Wongunts, and Stciaggs. Another tribe
originally from New Yorks Mohawk Valley and called the Pequots, controlled
the region after overrunning the local river tribes by the 1600s. Initially, the
Connecticut colonists had few difficulties with the Pequots. Eventually, however,
conflict with the Indians worsened. Some Puritans saw the indigenous peoples
behavior as militant and arrogant. However, the Puritan colonists sought to
control the region and saw the American Indian as competition.
Bloodshed and conflict erupted. The English accused the Pequots of
attacking coastal ships, murdering sailors, and killing about thirty colonists in
separate raids. After several successful retaliatory raids against the Pequots,
Hartford, Dorchester (Windsor), and Wethersfield settlers, numbering ninety
men, allied with the local friendly tribes. In May 1637, under Dorchesters
Captain John Masona veteran of Englands wars with the Netherlandsthe
colonists struck at the Pequots fortification near Mystic. In a tactically brilliant

dawn attack, Mason led the charge against the sleeping tribe, and in the heat of
the battle ordered his men to set fire to the wigwams. The Englishmen and their
Indian allies, led by an ousted Pequot leader named Unas, ringed the burning
village. The survivors who fled the village engulfed in flames were captured or
killed. After a number of similar engagements with militias from the Plymouth
and Massachusetts colonies, ultimately over 800 of the 3,500 Indians were killed.
Subsequently, many others were hunted down, enslaved, and shipped to the
Caribbean. The Puritans, who viewed war as sinful, believed that the punishment
for anyone who started a war might include slavery. Unfortunately, these beliefs
justified the Indians receiving such brutal treatment. One can envision the
Puritans seeing their success as a sign from God, confirming their self-
righteousness. Alas, this also marked the beginning of the subjugation of the
American Indian in the New England colonies. Ironically, Unas, a Pequot tribal
chief who had turned against his own tribe, led the colonys Indian allies. This
policy of using tribes against one another contributed greatly to the Indians
demise through American history. With the fall of the Pequots, the shift of power
and control over the region went to the English, which gave them complete
jurisdiction over the region and eliminated their only obstacle to expansion.
In the spring of 1639, Reverend Ephraim Huit, an ousted Anglican
minister left his Warwickshire parish in England with a few loyal followers. He
traveled into the neighboring counties of Dorset, Somerset, and Dorchester,

gathering a group to take with him on the ten week voyage to America, in search
of a New Jerusalem. The group grew in number after arriving in Boston adding
others already in Massachusetts. By the time they left the Bay area, it was a
considerable group, although the exact number is not known. Their destination
was the rich farmlands of the Connecticut River valley at the confluence of the
Farmington and Connecticut Rivers.
Arriving at Dorchester (Windsor) in August of 1639, the Huit group
joined the colonists who had settled there earlier. Reverend Huits group
consisted of a cross section of Southwest Englands societyskilled tradesmen,
apprentices, laborers, and yeoman. Among them was twenty-four year old
William Filley, who perhaps had joined Huits gathering in Boston.
William Fillev Arrives
Williams origin is unknown and no records exist about him before he
settled in Windsor in 1639. There are two thoughts on his place of origin. The
first was that he destroyed his records and burned his bridges behind him when
he left England. This destruction of English records was not unusual. Many
Puritans who fled England during the 1600s, like those who sailed from
Dorchester on the Mary and John, concealed their church group affiliation and

the ships passenger lists. Many Puritans did not want any problems (from the
Church of England) following their families to the New World.
A second notion on Williams origin comes from historian Frank
Thistlethwaites research on early Windsor settlers. He determined that by 1641,
sixty-three of the settlers could be directly traced to one of the English
Dorchester groups, five came from elsewhere in the Bay Colony area, eleven
traveled directly from England in Huits gathering and thirteen settlers were of
unknown origin. Thistlethwaite speculated that some of these settlers, possibly
including William, could have been servants.32 33
The Town
The early settlers of Dorchester, like William, obtained land grants close
to the town center. A landowner was entitled to a small house lot, a separate
private farming strip, and access to the communal pasture and meadow. The size
of the settlers land grant was determined by four factors including his initial
contribution to the group, paying the American Indians for the land, the cost of
surveying, and his estate. This estate was based on his family size and
32 Spears, Search for Passengers of Mary and John, pp. 2-3
33 Frank Thistlethwaite, Dorset Pilgrims: The Story of West County Pilgrims Who Went to New
England in the 17th Century (London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1989), p.144; Filleys name was
absent from Thistlethwaites list. Perhaps, Filley was one of the unnamed servants the author
discusses in the text.

community status.34 Permanent land ownership required two years of occupancy
with future land options for expansion as the settlers need increased.
Dorchesters town fathers, such as Roger Ludlow, assumed that when men
owned land they would develop a personal stake in maintaining the law and order
of the town and better follow their Puritan beliefs. In communal fashion, the
town fathers and settlers could watch over and care for each other, making their
community a notion of Heaven.
The town experienced a subsequent land boom with Huits arrival, and
property prices increased. The influx of new people supplied the labor and
capital needed to erect Dorchesters first meetinghouse. This structure was used
for both secular and religious activities. To accommodate the local growth, Huit
began to assist the towns minister Reverend Warham. Huit was awarded several
prime lots by the grateful townsfolk. The town was generous with property grants
since the Dorchester colony had claimed 600 square miles of Connecticut land
and by 1640 had only allocated 16,000 acres (25 square miles).35 The
townspeople also gave Reverend Warham a com gristmill as a gift from his
congregation.36 Additionally, subsides were often granted to the tanners, smiths,
34 Anderson, New Englands Generation, p. 95
35 Linda Auwers Bissell, From One Generation to Another: Mobility in Seventeenth Century
Windsor, Connecticut, William and Mary Quarterly 31 (1974): 80
36 Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor (New York: Charles B. Norton, 1859), p. 127
and Bissell, From One Generation,: 81

and millers, since they contributed to the common good of the town. Thomas
Mattock was granted a ten pound appropriation to help him get set up in his
trade, a blacksmith shop. Provided as public services by the town were
common grazing land, fencing, and a ferry across the Connecticut River. In
addition, individuals were hired to inspect fences, roads, chimneys, and to survey
the landholdings. For these improvements, the local citizens had to give a days
labor each year for the communal maintenance of the roads and fences.
Additionally the town built a road system, with the families of highest
secular and religious status living on Main Street and on the road to Hartford.
The more modest families living on back lanes, Backer Row and Mill Street. A
familys status, total acreage granted, and affluence in this communal society
were reflected in the location of the house lots on the towns streets, (see Table
1.1) William Filleys farm, located on Mill Street, could imply that he was of
modest means. 37 38
37 Ibid., pp. 127-128
38 Linda Auwers Bissell, "Family, Friends, and Neighbors: Social Interaction in Seventeenth
Century Windsor, Connecticut (Ph.D. diss., Brandeis University, 1973), 135-136

Residence and Wealth
Total Acreage Granted
Location of House Lot 1 to 99 100 to 199 200 and over
North Main Street 2 5 8
South Main Street 5 6 4
Backer Row 3 3 0
Palisado 3 5 2
Mill Street 11 2 1
Hartford Road 1 6 8
Table 1.1 Source: Linda Auwers Bissell, "Family, Friends, and
Neighbors: Social Interaction in Seventeenth Century Windsor,
Connecticut p. 133
Colonial Government
At the time of William Filleys arrival in 1639, the Connecticut towns
were newly unified and separated from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This
autonomy led Connecticuts leaders to author the colonys first constitutionthe
Fundamental Orders. Adopted in Hartford, this constitution created a unique
commonwealth, with no allegiance to Charles I, the Bay colony, or the directors
of the stockholder trade companies.39 The Orders, borrowing heavily from
39 The public opposition to Charles Is monarchy in England grew into a civil war, which resulted
in Charles beheading. One can see Connecticut Puritans deep-seated resentment and disdain for
the Crown in the Fundamental Orders.

church organizations, allowed only one church in each town, the Congregational
Church. The community was, in reality, a civil government corresponding to a
religious covenant.
It was during this transition that the new government changed the towns
name from Dorchester to Windsor to avoid confusion with its namesake near
Boston. Windsor also began electing magistrates every year, voting on taxes, and
disposing of surplus land. The voting population, the freemen, was initially
restricted to land owning male church members. Women, children, African-
Americans, American Indians, and indentured servants were excluded from
voting. Overseeing the town was the local magistrate, elected by the freemen,
and ruled by his conscience and divine mandate as a Puritan. While the
townspeople believed that the primary role of their government was to punish
breaches in Gods laws, they also believed in a seventeenth century version of
separation of church and state, much different from our modem view. They
forbade ministers from serving in civil government; but in reality, there was a
symbiotic relationship between the towns church and civic policies with the
same individuals controlling both. In the years to come, most of Connecticuts
leaders were selected from the families of these first settlers, thus generating a
ruling oligarchy.

The Fillev Farm
By 1640, Windsors population had reached 300. William took
possession of a lot north of the towns Palisado, which was a stockade built in
1636 during the period of unrest before the Pequot War. The lots were close
physically and the townspeople were bound religiously, forming a heavenly
village. Early maps (see Fig. 1.1) show the location of Filley homestead near the
banks of the Rivulet, the Farmington River, on Mill Street.40
Like his neighbors, William went about cultivating their land. Settlers
quickly abandoned their English farming techniques and adopted techniques
learned from the areas Indian tribes, planting Indian com, pumpkins, and beans.
The Indians had regularly burned the underbrush and had already cleared some
of the best land near the rivers. William, and those who entered the region later,
needed to clear additional land. The process was demanding and time consuming
even with the use of powerful oxen.41 First, the trees were girdled, which meant
removing a band of bark around the trunk that started to kill the tree. Crops could
40 Jay Mack Holbrook, Connecticut Colonies: Windsor, 1635-1703 (Oxford, Massachusetts:
Holbrook Research Institute, 1986), p. ii
41 Matthew Grant, Windsors town clerk since the late 1630s, recorded in the 1686 tax records the
number of oxen Windsor settlers owned. Most farmers owned a pair of oxen. Matthew Grant,
Some Early Records and Documents of and Related to the Town of Windsor Connecticut 1639-
1703 (Hartford: Connecticut Historic Society, 1930), p. 158

then be planted around these dying, leafless trees until they could be removed
and used for firewood and fences.
Fig. 1.1 Windsor Town map. Jay Mack Holbrook, Connecticut
Colonist: Windsor (Oxford, Mass.: Holbrook Research Institute,
While some farm improvements benefited from communal labor such as
house building, and some settlers had servants, William's early years in Windsor

included long, demanding hours. Being of modest means meant he single
handedly cleared the land and plowed up the soil. It would be several years
before he had a wife and children to assist him. 42 Labor became a valuable
commodity in the early colonies with more work available than workers.43
William married Margaret Cockney in September of 1642. 44 She was
twenty-one and he was twenty-seven. Women married young in New England
compared to England. Marrying young was a reflection on the ease by which a
young couple could acquire land and set up a farm.45
Little is known of Margaret except that she was bom around 1621. It can
be surmised that she, like her husband, had decided to erase all traces of her past
or was servant. Connecticut law required that prior to their wedding, they sign a
contract of espousal and in a publicly displayed announcement proclaim their
intent to marry. After an eight day lapse, they celebrated the actual wedding
ceremony. In what was felt to be a divinely ordained social structure, the husband
was assumed to be superior to his wife in all senses.
42 Daniel Vickers, Working the Fields in a Developing Economy: Essex County, Massachusetts,
1630-1675, Work and Labor in Early America, Stephen Innes, ed. (Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
University of North Carolina Press, 1988), p. 49
43 Need for laborers became a driving force that attracted people to the New World from Northern
Europe. The Old World often produced more people, than jobs.
44 Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor, vol. 2, (1892; reprint, Somersworth: New
Hampshire Publishing Company, 1976), p. 250
45 McCuster, The Economy of British America, p. 104

The Filleys first child, Samuel, was bom in September of 1643. Six
others followed in the next twenty-two years. In fact, Samuel would marry before
his youngest brother, William, was bom in 1664. New Englands material
abundance did not constrain family size as lack of it had in England. New
England families were large by British or European standards and out-migration
was low. William and Margarets children would stay in the Windsor area since
there was plenty of surplus land. 46
William, Margaret, and the children functioned as an economic unit;
every member, regardless of age or gender, contributed. This meant that work
and chores were less stereotyped by gender. The English rural tradition where
men toiled in the fields and women worked in and around the home and garden
was a norm.47 However, women and girls helped in the fields during planting
and harvesting time, and men and boys helped prepare and knit homespun during
the off seasons. 48
46 Ibid., p. 104
47 Vickers, Working the Fields, Work and Labor in Early America, pp. 49-50; Two excellent
sources on the contribution on women in colonial America are Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Good
Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 (New
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982); and Jane Kamensky, The Colonial Mosaic, 1600-1760, No
Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States, ed. Nancy F. Cott (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2000).
48 Juliet H. Mofford, Women in the Workplace, Women History Magazine 2 (Spring-Summer
1996): 1 Available from Internet; accessed
December 29, 2000.

Agrarian Life
We know nothing of the Filley farm; however, we can recreate how they
might have lived in seventeenth-century Windsor.
The Filleys sparsely furnished dwelling was likely made from the areas
abundant lumber. The house walls would have been made with two inch thick
planks spiked perpendicularly to a heavy framework of beams. A mixture of clay
mud and hay was used as mortar to seal the gaps and spaces between the plank
walls. The exterior was covered with clapboard or shingles. The interior of the
Filley home probably was dominated by the central chimney and a main
fireplace, which was smoky but provided fire for cooking. Most of the fires heat
escaped through the chimney, so the fireplace provided little warmth. Warmth for
the Filleys came from wearing multiple layers of clothes instead of relying on
their ineffective fireplace. The dwellings second floor, which mirrored the first
floors two rooms, was accessed by a narrow, steep stairway. The second floor
was designed to slightly overhang the first floor, and odds were that as the Filley
family grew, the house was enlarged, with three rooms added adjacent to the two
ground floor rooms. An overhead loft was perhaps used by several of the Filley
children as a bedroom, in the ceiling space created over the new addition. The
shape of these New England homes led to them being called salt boxes. A
single massive chimney, reached to the ridge of the shingled roof. Because

chimney fires were a constant danger, a ladder was required house-side. A town
employee, a chimney-viewer, would inspect the chimneys soundness every six
Margaret used her huge fireplace to prepare the familys meals (some
colonial homes fireplaces might be up to nine feet long and four and one half
feet high).50 A trammel in the fireplace allowed the cooking kettle to be raised or
lowered, keeping it the right distance from the fires glowing embers. Breakfast
typically consisted of bean-porridgea soup made from salted meat, beans and
seasoned with local herbs. The noon meal, the days most substantial, might
consist of Indian puddingcom meal mush made with molassesfollowed by
meat when it was plentiful, or fish. In the spring, multitudes of migrating ocean
fish traveled up the region's rivers and streams.51 Because the Filleys lived
adjacent to the Rivulet, fish were abundant and great numbers of salmon and
shad were caught and salted to preserve them. The evening meal, usually served
cold, consisted of cakes made from com meal, rye, or buckwheat. Baked beans, a
local favorite, were served Saturday evenings, and Saturdays regular noon meal
was salted codfish, available from the regions coastal towns.
49 George L. Clark, A History of Connecticut: Its People and Intuitions (New York and London:
G. P. Putmans Sons, 1914), pp. 104-105
50 Ulrichs Good Wives, Chapter 1, The Ways of the Household, assessed and described the
womens domain in colonial America and explored the complexity of her tasks.
51 Cronon, Changes in the Land, p. 22

A large part of the Filleys nourishment was obtained in the local woods,
fields, and rivers, through adopting the American Indian food gathering cycle.
Settlers trapped and netted fish in the spring, foraged berries in the early summer,
and hunted in the summer and fall.
Providing the family with the bulk of their sweets were honey, collected
from bees; maple syrup, made by tapping native trees for sap, which was an art
learned from the American Indian; and molasses, imported from the West
Indies.52 53 The region was abundant with berries, nuts, grapes, and apples, which
when preserved in jams, pickled or dried, supplemented the garden crops. The
Filleys garden, tended by the children, grew pumpkins, peas, beans, and turnips.
Succotash, another American Indian food, was composed of com and beans.
Hasty pudding was made from boiled com meal and sweetened with maple syrup
and brown bread made from rye and com. These were all served as typical local
American dishes.
Although once stereotyped as opposing alcoholic beverages, Puritan
families did not abstain from beer and cider.54 The Filleys, like their neighbors,
52 Ibid., pp. 39-40
53 McCuster, The Economy of British America, p. 288
54 Some Puritans felt that drunkenness was a destructive vice and led to sloth and dishonesty.
See Stephen Innes, Creating the Commonwealth, p. 135.

may have had a brew-house to make beer, which they enjoyed along with apple
or pear cider served out of a barrel.55
The family wore homespun (clothes made from sheeps wool or locally
grown flax), and leather. For church and civic matters, Williams clothes might
have been more elaborate and brightly colored, with silver buttons on the
waistcoat. In The Boisterous Sea of Liberty, historians David Davis and Steven
Mintz challenge several myths about Puritans. Contrary to the stereotypical view
that Puritans wore drab colors, they actually liked the colors red and blue.56 In
Puritan Windsor, only the ministers wore black.
As his family grew, William continued to expand his farm and holdings.
This also required that he clear more land for agriculture. In the shadows of the
dying girdled trees, he created com hills where, helped by his family at planting
time, he placed five com kernels. An ancient New England ditty depicted why:
One for the bug,
One for the crow,
One to rot,
And two to grow.
Using American Indian farming techniques, the farmers planted com and
pumpkin seeds in the mounds. These mounds were usually fertilized with an
ale wifea small minnow. Between the mounds settlers planted bean plants. The
55 Ibid.
56 David Brion Davis and Stephen Mintz, The Boisterous Sea of Liberty (New York and Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 63

cornstalks then served as beanpoles and the pumpkin plants as ground cover,
keeping in the moisture. This planting method created an ecologically sound
system.57 Eventually William, like his neighbors, raised crops of wheat, rye,
peas, and tobacco. In fact, Windsor was one of the few sites in the North where
tobacco was grown. Farmers cultivated a local variety of the plant, which the
American Indian called poke or ottomauch. Eventually, a more pleasant
milder West Indian tobacco was imported from the Virginia Colony (where it
had been introduced in 1619). By 1640, Windsor would use tobacco as its main
trade product. Even though William was almost entirely self-sufficient, he and
his enterprising family could not make everything; therefore, surplus crops had to
be grown for trade. The surplus of Windsors farmers, found its way to Boston,
Newfoundland, the West Indies, and England. Margaret and the children made
cheese and candles, which could be bartered at the local store. Additionally,
lumber from the forest was sold along with soap-making potash, the byproduct of
land clearing and tree burning. Williams satisfaction came from seeing his estate
grow acre by acre, which compensated for the lack of civilization and the warm
camaraderie of an English alehouse.
The neighbors, bound by church and community, lived in lots closely
adjacent to William and Margaret and they shared meadows for cattle grazing.
Each lot contained a house, bam, several outbuildings, a garden, and a small
57 Cronon, Changes in the Land, pp. 43-45

pasture. Early land records documented Williams neighbors on Mill Road,
including William Phelps, who owned 285 acres and was one of the towns
earliest settlers. His land deed dated to 1636, when he purchased his property
from the local American Indians.
According to available records, another neighbor, William Buell, a
Welshman and carpenter, built the towns punishment stocks and the pew seats
for the meetinghouse.58 59 Buell owned 78 acres of land near Filley. In January
1660, William paid Buell five shillings and nine pence for a row of short seats in
the meetinghouse, located behind rows of long seats and elevated for better
hearing.60 Status in Windsor was reflected in seating preference in the
meetinghouse: the closer to the front altar, the higher ones town status. Most of
those in the long pews were the towns founders or of higher social status. Newer
settlers, like the Filleys, sat further back in the meetinghouse.
Other neighbors included William Thrall, a mason and grant holder of 20
acres, Thomas Bascomb, a stone and brick mason with 20 acres, John Hiller with
33 acres, and the widow, Mary Collins, with but a few acres. We do not know the
exact acreage of Williams first lot, but it was probably comparable to his
58 Daniel Howard, Glimpses of Ancient Windsor (Windsor, Connecticut: Windsor Tercentenary
Committee, 1933), p. 15
59 Ibid., p. 29
60 Stiles, Ancient Windsor (1859), pp. 149-150

neighbors on Mill Street and therefore a small property of only 20 to 40 acres. 61
Mill Street was considered the poor side of town, and was called Silver Street
because the settlers there often survived on alewives-silver minnows, whose
discarded fish scales littered the street. 62 Local lore has it that the street
glimmered in the sun in the morning as if it was covered with pieces of eight;
upon a closer look, the silver shimmer was from the fish scales of shad. This
abundant, but bony fish was a poor-mans meal and was carried up the street
under cover of darkness to conceal the settlers poverty.63
Williams church pew and land lot location, suggest that he started with
modest means. However, as his family grew and prospered, it experienced
upward social mobility. Like many of Windsors more ambitious settlers,
William began to swap land lots. After several years in their relatively small
eleven and one-half rod wide lot, number 85, the Filleys acquired their
neighbors lot, number 77, and again, by 1655, relocated to a considerably larger
lot formerly owned by Jasper Rawlins. 64 Living across the creek from the
61 The acreage of William Filleys first lot is unknown. However, when examining local records
and the Plan of Ancient Windsor, and comparing known lot sizes (of Williams adjacent
neighbors) with his lot, one can surmise that Filleys lot was between 20 and 40 acres.
62 Thistlethwaite, Dorset Pilgrims, p. 137-149
63 Bissell, "Family, Friends, and Neighbors," 135-136
64 Hammond J. Trumbull, The Memorial History of Hartford County Connecticut: 1633-1884,
vol. 2, (Boston: Edward L. Osgood Publisher, 1886), p. 550; Holbrook, Connecticut Colonies, p.
ix Table 2; Stiles, Ancient Windsor, (1859), pp. 137-156

Filleys was Jonathan Gillett and his family. Jonathan Gillett and his brother
Nathan had come from England as part of Warhams Dorchester group.65 In
1663, William and Margarets oldest child, Samuel, married Anna, the Gilletts
first child bom in Windsor. After the marriage, William subsequently gave his
son a section of the familys land on the northern part of the lot.66
As head of his household, William was mandated by local ordinance to
ensure that his family abided by the strict Puritan lifestyle; daily prayer and
religious study with knowledge of the scriptures were essential. Neighbors
closely monitored family piety. All the towns settlers had a bible in their
familys possession. A Geneva Bible cost only three shilling and two pence in
1649. 67 Everyone was compelled to attend church, and the local constable fined
offenders five shillings for each violation. In addition to Sundays church service,
with its two to three hour sermon, William and his family observed the Sabbath
by doing no farming and little household work.
The Code of 1650, a set of laws covering individual rights and protection
enacted by Connecticut, required all the towns children and apprentices (who
were often indentured) be taught how to read, write, and educated in some useful
65 Stiles, Ancient Windsor, vol. 2, p. 289
66 Trumbull, Memorial History of Hartford County, p. 550
67 Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English
Revolution (New York: Viking Press, 1972), p. 75

trade. Moreover, it was not until 1667, when the town was fined five pounds
by the Colony for its negligence, that a schoolhouse was finally constructed.
During this period all but the youngest Filley child, son William, would have
attended dame schoolsschools where children were sent to an educated
womans house for instruction.68 69 The children learned to write and spell, with
arithmetic being taught only to the boys; the colonists felt that a girls time was
better spent learning domestic skills.
Connecticut settlers had to participate in lecture days, celebrate fasting
days, and pay taxes for church support even if they were not members. Official
church membership was tightly restricted and limited to a select number of
citizens (mostly members of the towns oligarchy). There were three steps for
admission. The first was proof of baptism. The next stepthe confession of
faithwas usually the result of a spontaneous realization spurred by a sermon;
here the individual might get a hint that they were one of the heaven-bound.
Finally, following an interrogation by the minister and church members,
admission to membership would be considered.
In July of 1651, Margaret received church admission, more than twenty-
two years before her husband.70 Women, however, were not allowed to speak in
68 Stiles, Ancient Windsor (1859), p. 58
69 Howard, Glimpses of Ancient Windsor, pp. 29 and 84
70 Ibid., p. 250

church. Margarets membership allowed her children, Samuel, John, Mary, and
Elizabeth, to be baptized. William Filley, according to church records, was
admitted to church communion in March of 1673.71
Under the Fundamental Orders from 1638 to 1662, which was a period of
peace and harmony, the Filleys and Windsor flourished. The community
continued to grow, and there were communal recreational activities, picnics,
fairs, and hayrides. Communal work included husking bees, quilting bees, and
house raisings. William and his neighbors also attended the towns monthly
meetings. Women could attend, but as in church, they could not speak. The
meetings started at nine in the morning, and were announced by trumpet, drum or
messages passed farm to farm. Meetings determined actions on a wide range of
issues, including the building and maintaining of warehouses, roads, and the
school, curfews, and the depth of graves. Agricultural concerns were paramount;
the meetings determined bounties on wolves, the opening of communal pastures,
and limitations on the cutting of certain trees and forests.
Windsor Government
In 1662, Windsor and the Connecticut Commonwealth responded to the
fall of the Puritan-based Cromwellian government and the rise of the Restoration
71 Stiles, Ancient Windsor, vol.2, p. 250

in England by negotiating with the new monarch, Charles II. In so doing they
gained a new Royal Charter. This granted Connecticut residents the unique right
"to have and to hold...for ever" this place "in New England in America." On
October 9, the Connecticut General Court transferred the regions government
from a self-governing commonwealth to that of a British Royal Colony. This
legal maneuver changed little for the settlers with the exception of giving
sovereignty to the king. They gave up no freedom or rights of self-determination;
however, all freemen were required to take an oath of allegiance. Town records
indicate that William and his neighbors complied by taking the oath.72
Each year brought more growth to Windsor and created the need for a
town register, tax collector, and a constable. Eventually, the town hired horse
branders, a sealer of the weights, a bell ringer and town crier, and a public
punishment whipper. Town records show that William was appointed and served
as the town constable for term beginning in March of 1662.73 As constable,
William was responsible for enforcing the towns local ordinances.
The Connecticut court system extended from the local magistrate to the
colony-wide General Court. The General Court tried those crimes punishable by
death, including idolatry, murder, adultery, rape, and kidnapping. Local courts
72 Grant, Some Early Records, p. 115
73 Records of the Particular Court of Connecticut: 1639-1663 (Hartford: Connecticut Historical
Society, 1928), p. 244

punished a wide variety of crimes, including swearing, drunkenness, and lying.
Williams role as constable was significant because it showed his assimilation
into the community. As a constable, he was responsible for the enforcement of
the local laws and ordinances. Punishments for criminals included being locked
in the towns stocks, a fine, or forty lashes by the towns whipper. Whippings
were administered on the communitys lecture day at the town squares
signpost.74 75
Burglary or highway robbery resulted in the violator being branded on the
forehead with the letter B for the first offense, and a second branding plus a
whipping for the second offense. If the crime was committed on the Sabbath, one
of the culprits ears was cut off, and if the offense occurred a second time, both
ears were removed. A third offense resulted in the criminals death. American
Indians found walking Windsors streets after curfew were fined twenty shillings
or whipped a minimum of six lashes.76 Although many of these violations,
including failure to attend church and keeping ones swine out of the communal
pasture, were punishable, many of these laws were not seriously enforced.
74 Stiles, Ancient Windsor (1859), p. 69
75 Ibid.
76 Howard, Glimpses of Ancient Windsor, p. 29

Another crime warranting the death penalty was witchcraft.77 78 Windsor, in
fact, had seen the very first episode of New Englands witchcraft trials. It was
held in May of 1647. Local surveyor and record keeper Matthew Grants diary
noted that Alse Young, a Windsor woman, was accused of the crime, tried, and
hung. Another instance occurred in November of 1654. This time the town found
Lydea Gilbert guilty of conspiring with the Devil and her trial resulted in her
public execution. As the towns continued to admit newcomers, including the
feared Quakers, their tranquility was threatened with increasing crime and
hysteria concerning witchcraft. Not conforming to the towns accepted social
behavior could be grounds for being accused of witchcraft. Deviating from the
towns norms by exhibiting unrestrained individualism, greed or simply not
being accepted had dire consequences. This witchcraft mania, which swept New
England in the 1690s, culminated in the Salem Witch Trials, where AlseYoungs
daughter would also be accused of this offence.79
77 A notable work that explored witchcraft in New England was Carol F. Karlsen, The Devil in
the Shape of a Women in Colonial New England (New York: W. W. Norton, 1987). Karlsen
noted that witchcraft persecutions were endemic in the Puritan colonies with the Salem trials of
1692 accusing 200 people, most of which were women.
78 William DeLoss Love, The Colonial History of Hartford (Hartford: Connecticut Press, 1935),
pp. 282-286
79 Ibid.

We have no record of Williams or Margarets deaths near the end of the
seventeenth century, but property records in 1686 show their material assets to
have been a house with six acres, 18 acres of farmland, a horse, two oxen, two
cows, and one swine.80 When compared to other Windsor settlers in the 1686
records, the Filleys had prospered. (Many people in the records only had one cow
or horse). As Puritans, they would have seen this affluence as a sign of divine
In addition, their family had grown and prospered with their eldest child
Samuel acquiring equally impressive assets. Probate records show no records of
Williams estate, but unlike England, where the bulk of the estate would pass to
the eldest son, the colonies assigned equal shares to all children, except for the
eldest son who received a double share.81 The custom, which became law in
1699, also allowed one third of the husbands personal estate to go to the wife
along with her dower right. The English custom of the widowers dower was
different from the dowry a bride might bring to her marriage. The widowers
dower entitled the widow one third of her husbands real estate, but she could not
80 Grant, Early Records, p. 158
81 Anderson, New England Generation, p. 177

sell or bequeath it. The 1699 law thus protected and increased a widows interest
in her husbands estate.
In addition, because of a lower mortality rate and greater longevity in
New England than in Europe, William and Margaret lived long enough to see
numerous grandchildren by their children Samuel, John, Mary, Elizabeth,
Hannah, Abigail, Deborah, and William. Samuel and his wife Anna had eleven
children, but endured the heartbreak of seeing two children dying violently as
infants. One child drowned in a well and another was run over by a cart; both
were named Samuel. Records show that three of Samuels male children,
Jonathan, Josiah and John, survived into the eighteenth century. There are no
records of the whereabouts and lives of the three later bom children, Abigail,
Mary, and a third son named Samuel. It was likely the children stayed in the
Windsor area.82 83 84
Americas first generation of Filleys had done well as early Puritan
settlers in the Connecticut River valley and the New World. The Filleys started
with modest means and gained upward social mobility. They were part of a
82 Linda K. Kerber and Jane Sherron De Hart, eds., Womens America: Refocusing the Past, 4th
ed. (New York: Oxford, 1995). The essay, Essential Documents, The Laws of Domestic
Relations: Examples from Colonial Connecticut, 1640-1702, noted the complexities of the
widowers dowry in Connecticut.
83 In England, only three out of four children survived to age ten, however, in New England, four
out of five, reached manhood. Anderson, New England Generation, pp. 182-184; Main, Society
and Economy, p. 7
84 Stiles, Ancient Windsor, vol. 2, p. 250

culture that was very different than that portrayed in our modem myths. Legend
portrays Puritans leaving England in search of religious freedom, but the
community allowed only one church with mandatory attendance. Myths portray
Puritans as highly independent, but they were highly communal and allowed
little deviation from the norm. However, perhaps William saw in his last days
that a transition was beginning to occur: an erosion of their generations strict
Puritan values. The tightly knit homogeneous town of Windsor had evolved into
a diverse community different from the town fathers image of heaven on earth
and a notion of heaven. Williams progeny would be part of a much different
world; they would herald the transition from Puritan colonialists by becoming the
first of the Connecticut Yankees.

William Filleys children entered the eighteenth century as socio-
economic shifts were taking place in Connecticuts early towns. These changes
upset the delicate balance and harmony between the family, the local
government, and the church. During Williams lifetime, these institutions had
been interwoven with the Puritans divine covenants: God and family, God and
community, and God and church. Popular movements, started by the 1690s,
would alter the settlers view of local government, land, the economy, religion,
and the crown. A transformation would occur in the heavenly village.
Local Government
The first shift was the splintering relationship between the local
authorities and the towns people. Government previously involved itself in all
aspects of its citizens lives including morale conduct. Civil governments in fact
were designed to maintain Puritan morality and employed police powers to 85
85 Richard Bushman, From Puritan to Yankee: Character and the Social Order in Connecticut,
1690-1765 (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1970) was a respected social history
resource in writing this chapter. His thesis was that the homogenous Connecticut towns eroded
under the forces of economics; religious changes; land issues; war; and lack of faith in
government. These were forces that the Filleys and their Windsor neighbors experienced.
Important insights were also gained on Puritan town life and New England from notably: John
Demos, Philip Greven, Michael Zuckerman, Kenneth A. Lockridge, and Sumner Chilton Powell.

punish blasphemy, work on the Sabbath, and even regulate excess dress.86
Moreover, up to this time, the town government was preoccupied with
administering its constituents economic needs in a nearly endless number of
mundane requests. Some examples were setting a bounty on blackbird that fed on
the meager crops; tax allowances, for farmers who built outside the towns limits
and were unable to use the common pasture; building a warehouse for communal
storage of the farmers produce surplus; or maintaining a ferry, to cross
Windsors two rivers. The primary function of a towns government was to aid,
support, and control the settler.
By the eighteenth century, Connecticuts General Assembly began to
exert tighter regulatory control over its towns, in contrast with Massachusetts,
which left its towns virtually free of colonial oversight.87 88 Town governments
began to turn to the colonial elected officials to solve even the most trivial
problems. The Assembly, however, was unaccustomed and unsympathetic to
dealing with these numerous mundane requests such as the blackbird bounty.
Moreover, whereas the Assembly might have met five to six times a year in the
mid-1600s, beginning in 1701, it met only twice a year. In October, the
86 Mary Jeanne Anderson Jones, Congregational Commonwealth: Connecticut, 1636-1662
(Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1968), p. 60
87 Robert J. Taylor, Colonial Connecticut, A History (Millwood, New York: Kto Press, 1979), p.
88 Holbrook, Connecticut Colonies, p. xxiii

Assembly met on the coast at New Haven and in the spring, it met inland at
Hartford. Adding to the problem was that Windsor doubled in size between
1650 and 1700 to a population of 1,160, and the once small town meetings, grew
large and less effective. In frustration, people turned their requests to the colonial
court system, the Assembly, or the governor. Eventually, conflicts were resolved,
often in a decision by both the courts and the Assembly.
Early Connecticut government never paid much attention to separation of
powers. The governor and Assembly in addition to legislative powers had
judicial powers, with the Assembly functioning as the highest court of appeal. 89 90
The Assembly often overturned or reduced judgments, and ordered new trials. It
was not unusual for a legislator to hold more than one government position. For
example, an Assembly member might also head his countys courts and be a
probate judge. A lesser Assembly member might be his towns justice of the
peaceone who heard cases involving less than forty shillings.91 As Connecticut
entered the mid-eighteenth century, government functions grew even more
tedious, bureaucratic, and time consuming.
89 Taylor, Colonial Connecticut, p. 41
90 Ibid., p. 39
91 Ibid., pp. 38-39

The Filleys in Court
During the lifetimes of William and his oldest son, Samuel, most disputes
were resolved locally; now in the 1700s disputes required action by the
Assembly, and the courts. Arguments between the early settlers over land, goods,
or money also dramatically increased. Between 1638 and 1663, there were 96
debt suits in the Hartford courts. Records show this number grew to 226 from
1684 to 1703. These disputes, usually over land, were most often between
family members or neighbors. The Filleys were not immune from these disputes.
After Samuels death in 1711, two of his sons, Jonathan and John, argued over
the estate. In 1716, the dispute over two acres of land, not allocated in the will,
was resolved in Johns favor by the Assembly in Hartford. 92 93
Later that year, in another issue related to land, John Filley was again
before the Assembly, this time to defend himself against a petition by John More.
Specific details on the case no linger exist, but it appears from Connecticut legal
records that John More wanted property returned that he had mortgaged to Filley.
More petitioned the Assembly after Filley refused to return the land.
92 Bissell, Family Friends and Neighbors, 193
93 Charles Hoadly, Public Records of Colony of Connecticut: Oct 1706-Nov. 1716 (Hartford:
Hartford Press of Case, Dale and Lockwood, 1876), p. 554

Complicating the issue in the local court was that More served as the towns
justice. The Assembly reviewed the case and ruled in favor of John Filley.94
Legal Battles
A complicated nine-year battle over a £600 debt owed Johns son, Daniel,
illustrated the complexity in resolving an issue through the courts by the mid-
1700s. Details on the case are somewhat confusing, but this account illustrates
the legal ordeals early colonists like the Filleys endured.
In the early 1740s, Jacob Phelps of Windsor was imprisoned for a family
debt he owed Daniel Filley. Windsor citizens Samuel and John Palmer Jr.,
negotiated with Filley for Jacobs release by signing a note payable to Filley for
£500. In November 1745, when the note went unpaid, Filley obtained a judgment
against the Palmers and Phelps in county court for £500 plus costs.
In May 1746, the Palmers petitioned the Assembly to dismiss the
judgment Filley had obtained. The Assembly then assigned three of its members
the task of investigating the situation. The Assemblymen were to report their
findings in their October Assembly session held in New Haven. Unfortunately,
the committee never investigated the dispute. In the October Assembly meeting,
the case was reassigned to three new Assemblymen who were to report their
findings to the March 1747 session held in Hartford.
94 Ibid.

After the committee presented its findings to the Assembly in early 1647,
the fall session finally rendered a decision. The Palmers were freed of the £500
judgment and they had twelve months to sue Phelps for the forty-nine pounds,
nineteen shillings that Filley had collected from them. The Palmers also had the
option to sue Filley for £40 in court costs. 95
Several years passed and, perhaps at Filleys demand, Phelps was
returned to debtors prison, for the original £600 pound debt. Amazingly, in
1651 Filley successfully won a judgment for £600 for suffering and costs against
Samuel Talcott, the sheriff of Hartford County. The judgment against Talcott
stated that the sheriff allowed Phelps to escape from the county jail. A county
court tried the case and ruled in Filleys favor. Then, after an appeal by Talcott to
dismiss the case, the ruling was upheld in Filleys favor by the Superior Court.
In October 1654, Sheriff Samuel Talcott and Jacob Phelps petitioned the
Assembly to review the case yet again. The Assembly chose to have the case
arbitrated by three Windsor men. The Assembly then acted on the
recommendation of the Windsor arbitrators, reversed the judgment against
Sheriff Talcott and Phelps and set aside and made void the results of the Superior
Court appeal.96 After nine-years of court sessions, judgments, Assembly
95 Charles Hoadly, Public Records of Colony of Connecticut: May 1744-Nov. 1750 (Hartford:
Hartford Press of Case, Dale and Lockwood, 1876), pp. 208-209, 254-255, 338-339
96 Charles Hoadly, Public Records of Colony of Connecticut: May 1751-Nov. 1757 (Hartford:
Hartford Press of Case, Dale and Lockwood, 1877), p. 60

petitions, arbitration and legal costs, Daniel Filleys efforts to reclaim his original
£600 was futile. This case illustrated how complicated Connecticuts legal
system was in the mid-eighteenth century.
Additionally, whereas the earlier generations town governments quickly
provided communal services such as roads, pastures, and fences, the new town
governments took years to plan and construct local improvements. A vital bridge
across the Rivulet, proposed in a town meeting in July 1737 was not
completed until 1749. Samuels grandsons, Amos and Nathaniel Filley, Sr., and
other townsmen, eventually built the bridge at their own expense. Growing
frustration resulting from the towns apathy, inaction, and the courts indecisions,
contributed to a growing lack of faith in both the local and the provincial colonial
governments. This affected the quality of life for the Filleys and their
The second issue of discontent, land, had been of little concern in
Williams lifetime. In fact, land was a bond of equality between clergymen
and merchants, the wealthy and the poor. In theory, anyone could own a piece
of heaven. All landowners were bound to work the land to survive and therefore
assumed a common interest in its development. As families grew or an 97
97 Stiles, Ancient Windsor (1859), p. 468

individuals ambition expanded, there was an abundance of local surplus land to
be allotted in the towns monthly meeting (Windsor colony claimed 600 square
miles of Connecticut land and by 1640 only allocated 16,000 acres.) 98 In
Williams time, the towns formally admitted inhabitants, called freeman, held
land in an informal trust.
By March of 1663, Windsors inhabitants began developing more of its
land holdings. They expanded west to unclaimed Massacoe, later named
Simsbury. Although this section was never part of Windsors town limits, the
settlers had always considered it as belonging to the plantation. In 1647, the
colonys General Court officially endorsed their claim: The Court thinks fit that
Massacoe be purchased [possibly from the American Indians] by the county, and
that there be a committee chosen to dispose of it to such inhabitants of
Windsor.99 A town committee of Windsor settlers interested in moving to
Simsbury was formed to lay out lots in the new territory. The settlers met on
October 5, 1668 at the home of a local leader, John Moore in Windsor. The
committee agreed that by the first of May, 1669, the settlers would have to fence-
in their respective properties. Furthermore, they agreed that failure to do so
would result in a fine of £5.
98 Bissell, From One Generation to Another, 80
99 Noah A. Phelps, History of Simsbury, Granby and Canton: From 1642 to 1845 (Hartford: Press
of Case, Tiffany and Burnham, 1845), p. 10

Twenty-five people agreed to take land in quantities from forty to eighty
acres.100 The committee specified that those who took up the land were to make
improvements by plowing, fencing, and constructing buildings. They also had to
live on the land for two years. The costs to individual settlers for Massacoe land
grants are not known, but it was thought by local historians that the land fee
probably consisted of only the expenses incurred by the committee. These costs
were minimal, usually just the administrative and land survey expenses. Any
grantee not complying with the terms forfeited his land, usually to other
inhabitants. Samuel Filley moved to Massacoe, along with his father-in-law, John
Gillett, and his brother Nathan Gillett.101
Readily available land provided a powerful motivation for the Windsor
settlers. Furthermore, a three year tax abatement encouraged settlement in this
area. The land, having already been conveniently cleared by an earlier
American Indian tribe, required little labor to prepare it for cultivation.
Windsor records show that in 1669 Samuel was a freeman living in
Massacoe, but there is no record of him having a land title.102 Perhaps he did not
stay the two years required to finalize the land grant. It was a hard place to live
with the settlement located near two rivers, and no roads, no bridges, and no
100 Ibid., p. 14
101 Ibid., p. 13
102 Ibid., pp. 15-16

market for its produce. It also lacked protection on two sides making it
vulnerable to an American Indian attack. Sometime in the 1670s, these economic
and personal safety issues led many, including Samuel and his family, to return
to their Windsor homes. Soon after this, the General Court in Hartford renamed
Massacoe, Simsbury.103
Land Control
In 1685, the Connecticut colonys General Court took legal action to
prevent a cynically acquisitive maneuver by King James II. He sought through a
Royal Governor, aristocrat Edmund Andros, consolidation of the Northern
colonies into the short-lived Dominion of New England. This maneuver aimed to
gain control over surplus colonial land granted to Connecticut and the other New
England colonies under their respective royal charters.104 Hartfords General
Court prevented this hostile take-over by assigning the surplus land titles to
specific people, in many cases the town fathers, called proprietors. However,
by the beginning of the 1700s, new immigrants to the region, who would have
previously been entitled to a share of the surplus land, were excluded. The
proprietors, and then their heirs, exercised absolute control over the surplus land.
This became the subject of controversy in the new century. The proprietors
103 Ibid, p. 16
104 Connecticuts royal charter was granted in 1662, see page 41.

formed an elite segment in a once homogeneous community. In the Connecticut
river towns, proprietors regulated and distributed land as they saw fit, to the envy
of those who had once shared in these decisions. Thus, poor men and those
descendants of the first settlers who were excluded from being granted proprietor
rights were at this elite groups mercy. The proprietors became a controlling
class, reversing Windsors earlier emphasis on equality. None of the Filleys were
thought to be select proprietors; however, they benefited by being longtime
residents and well connected through marriage. They continued to buy and
acquire land in the region. The Filley families, as established landowners of
worth, were not subject to the discrimination that newcomers suffered, but as
their families grew their children felt the restraining pressure created by a lack of
available land.
Related to the land issue was the movement of people living away from
the town center called outlivers. These settlers, living on land outside the
original river towns, soon wished to form new towns and church parishes. This
profoundly disrupted the order that had existed in the community. Williams
generation had formed a close-knit group living within a small radius, subject to
the church and town leaders rule.

As a new generation of people moved into the wilderness, these intrepid
individuals, not having the same religious values as their Puritan predecessors,
were unconnected to the towns. They resented paying taxes for services they
would not receive or benefit from communal pastures, river ferries, roads, or
schools. In fact, most settlers in this peripheral area were highly independent.
They began to petition the Assembly to be allowed to develop their own churches
and town government, much to the old towns dismay. The creation of new
villages obviously resulted in the loss of a portion of taxpayers supporting
services and the church in the older towns. The resentment and battling by the
leaders of both parties ultimately resulted in communities less loyal and less
attached to the local governments that had controlled them in the seventeenth
Ultimately, these new settlements split from their mother towns. The first
town that split was Samuels one-time home, Simsbury, which separated from
Windsor in 1670. By the 1700s, a rapid acceleration in population, growth, and
development spawned many new towns, all of which separated from the original
Windsor settlement. This resulted in a total disruption in the regions old view of

Another schism developed between the interests of farmers, traders, and
merchants. Before 1690, Puritan ethics dominated local commerce. This ethic
influenced how people profited from business, whether they were merchants or
farmers. Rates for services and prices for goods were regulated by the town. In
fact, although New England Puritan ethics urged accumulation of worldly goods
it at the same time confined the impulse to pre-determined limits set by the
church and state.105 The merchants and the farmers were communally
interdependent, the farmers not seeing themselves in competition with their
neighbors, or the merchants.
By the 1700s, the farmers and the town merchants increasingly used the
barter system for exchange of goods. This encouraged the farmer to trade his
annual surplus product in exchange for his accumulated indebtedness. The
merchant then charged prices, including a hefty profit, to their obligated
With the entrance of a new group of merchants and traders in the region,
some farmers left agriculture for more profitable work, and the influx of new
merchants who competitively bought the farmers surplus with cash greatly
105 Bernard Bailyn, ed., The Apologia of Robert Keayne: The Self Portrait of a Puritan Merchant
(New York: Harper and Row, 1965), p. xi

disrupted the system. The once peaceful economic stability was broken by greed
and ambition, marking the birth of the Yankee traders.
Religion in the Early 1700s
Change also occurred in the regions churches. By the early 1700s, a
number of disputes in local congregations between ordinary worshipers and their
autocratic ministers resulted in disorder, which culminated in the 1708 Saybrook
Platform. This edict created a uniform and strict church government, licensed
ministers, disciplined churches and pastors, and arbitrated disputes. Although it
created a period of religious peace in the Connecticut colony, it also produced
bureaucratic formalism; in other words, the church members felt less connected
with the local church. During Williams time, church members hired their own
ministers and dictated church policy; now this direction came from a central
church synod. This schism between church and people continued to grow over
the next thirty years.
The culmination of the declining influence and power of the church hit
Connecticut hard in the 1740s. The causes were manifold. The first cause was the
gradual loss of religious zeal that had obsessed the settlers a century earlier. The
second factor was the deadening effect created by the Saybrook Platform Edict.
Church leaders cared less about pleasing their congregations and this precipitated
a trend towards stifled religious interest by the public. Additionally, the

increasing internal strife within the religious societies caused individual
congregations to split up. Another contributing factor was the growth in the
importance of materialism. In the previous generation, Puritan ministers
constantly addressed their flocks on the evils of unchecked want, but this practice
fell on deaf ears among this new generation. Finally, general social
disorganization grew due to political bickering between the towns and the
colonys governing authority, the Assembly and governor.
The Great Awakening
Thirty years of growing religious indifference spawned a religious
revival movement in New England during the 1730s. Many ministers, concerned
that people were slipping away from God and the church, urged people to
awake. 106 Revivals brought a religious message to the public whether they
attended church or not.107 Solomon Stoddard was the first to organize several
revivals from 1679 to 1718. He called his revivals, harvests. A Northampton,
Connecticut, minister, Stoddard kept his church filled, to the envy of his
colleagues, by preaching what he called the Terrors of the Law. Today, we
106 Richard L. Bushman, ed., The Great Awakening: Documents of the Revival of Religion, 1740-
1745 (New York: Atheneum, 1970), p. 3
107 John E. Finding and Frank W. Thackeray, eds., Events That Changed America in the
Eighteenth Century (Westport, Connecticut and London: The Greenwood Press, 1998), p. 2

would say he preached with fire and brimstone. 108 His grandson, a tall and
comely minister, Jonathan Edwards, who was bom east of Windsor, continued
the family preaching tradition. Edwards combined the old Puritan doctrines of a
stem God with this new evangelistic style. People spoke of his approach as being
methodical with great personal conviction as he leaned on the pulpit on one
elbow.109 This style captivated audiences with vivid descriptions of Hell. 110 111
Gilbert Tennant, a contemporary of Stoddard and Edwards, also delivered
sermons reflected this revival preaching style. Tennents 1735 sermon Solemn
Warning told the audience,
Awake, Awake Sinners, stand up where you are
hastening.. .Awake you prophane Swearers and remember ye will not get
a drop of Water to cool your cursing cursed Tongues in Hell, when they
and you shall flame in the burning lake.. .Awake ye unclean Adulterers,
and Whoremongers, and remember that without speedy Repentance, your
dismal abode shall be ever with unclean Devils, the Soul of a God shall
be avengd upon you.. .Awake ye Sabbath-Breakers, and reform; or God
will break you upon the Wheel of his Vengeance, and torture you
eternally upon the Rack of his Justice....1 1
By October 1740, this movement began to escalate, spearheaded by the
religious eloquence and charisma of reformers like George Whitefield of
England. Speaking before audiences of 20,000, his voice, without the aid of a
108 Cedric B. Cowling, The Great Awakening and the American Revolution: Colonial Thought in
the 18th Century (Chicago: Rand McNally and Company, 1971), p. 43
109 Ibid., p. 47
110 Finding, Events That Changed America, p. 2
111 Gilbert Tennant, Solemn warning to the Secure World from The God of terrible Majesty...,
The Great Awakening, ed. Richard L. Bushman, p. 17

sound system, conveyed his emotion-laden message.112 Benjamin Franklin
estimated that Whitefield, the Great Awakener, could be heard, without shouting,
by 30,000 people at one time. 113 Accounts of Whitefields lectures noted that he
spoke in the words of fire, and could mesmerize his audience with words like
Mesopotamia. 114 Like modem revivalists, Whitefield advertised his meetings
usually in local newspapers, emphasizing the fact that in England he was a
labeled a dissenter and summoning all to what was called New Birth. 115 In
America, Whitefield preferred speaking to the unchurched in open fields often
preaching from a tree. 116 117
Started in small towns like East Windsor, the fervor of the Great
Awakening engulfed the region; such fervor had not been seen since William
Filleys time. Historian Richard Bushman noted that today we fail to appreciate
the impact that revivals had on society in the eighteenth century. Bushman
likened the Awakening to the civil rights movement, the campus antiwar
demonstrations, and urban riots of the 1960s, all combined!
112 Ibid., p. 3
113 Cowling, The Great Awakening, p. 59
114 Ibid.; and Albert E. Van Dusen, Connecticut (New York: Random House, 1961), p. 118
115 Cowling, The Great Awakening, p. 61
116 Ibid., pp. 59-62
117 Bushman, ed., Great Awakening, p. xi

During 1740, 1741, and 1742, the emotional power of the revivals caused
entire towns to suspend business for religious services. Factions soon developed
within the local churches. One group, inspired by the revivals was called the New
Lights or Separates; they were in favor of reform and separating from the
Saybrook Platform Edict. The second group was the old order, the Old Lights,
who favored following traditional Congregational Church practices.118
In May 1742, the old religious order struck back by outlawing the
evangelists traveling to the regions towns. Additionally they restricted its
ordained ministers involvement in preaching revivalists doctrines. Some
members of the established Congregationalist Church were unhappy with the
internal bickering. This resulted in members leaving the church to join the rival
Baptist and Anglican churches. Some dissenters refused to support the
Congregational Church with taxes and were imprisoned. 119 In 1770, responding
to the persecution induced by the Great Awakening, Connecticut revised the law
code and pushed for more religious tolerance. The General Assembly gave
permission to all Protestants who rejected the Congregational Church to hold
services without penalties but compulsory taxation for support of the
Congregational Church would not end until 1818. 120 The Great Awakening
118 Ibid.
119 Taylor, Colonial Connecticut, p. 137
120 Ibid., pp. 137-138

helped pave the way for religious freedom in America by eventually undermining
the monopolistic position of the established churches in the colonies.121 The
desire by the old order to have one all-encompassing church, supported by
compulsory taxation, and dedicated to promoting order and morality in the
community, would erode and destroy the early Puritan model of William Filleys
Colonial Government
Both Connecticut and Rhode Island enjoyed unique relationships with the
British government. Beginning in 1662, Connecticut was a semi-independent and
self-governing charter colony, but most colonies like Massachusetts, New York,
and Virginia were Royal Colonies with governors and administrators appointed
by the Crown. The Connecticut leadership cleverly maintained a remarkable
degree of self-government in spite of attempts in England to revoke its charter.
The result was that Connecticut did not have to submit its laws to the king for
approval, and continued at times to violate British laws. Moreover, Connecticuts
leaders wisely used agents in England to lobby on their behalf before the
monarchy and Parliament, successfully undermining the Crowns attempt to
control the colonys leaders. For example, in 1734, a committee at the House of
121 Carl E. Kramer, The Great Awakening, Events That Changed America in the Eighteenth
Century, eds., John E. Finding and Frank W. Thackeray (Westport, Connecticut and London: The
Greenwood Press, 1998), p. 17

Lords reported it wanted all laws passed in the colonies including Connecticut,
be sent to England for the kings approval. Additionally the new law would
require Rhode Island and Connecticuts elected governors to take an oath before
a Royal Governor named by the king. Connecticuts governor, Joseph Talcott,
instructed the colonys agent, Francis Wilks, to spare no expense and have
Connecticut exempted from this new legislation before Parliament. Neither law
passed. 122 123 Finally, Connecticut maintained a low profile, with England keeping
most of its attention focused on Massachusetts. Connecticuts unofficial policy
was not to bring unnecessary attention to itself.
The Wars
Connecticut and its neighboring colonies supported the monarchy by
supplying militia for the eras four wars. The conflicts, the result of bitter French-
English rivalry in Europe, spread to the colonies four times from 1689 to the
1760s.The series began with King Williams War, followed by Queen Annes
1 9^
War, King Georges War, and the French and Indian War.
King Williams War (1689-1697) was the American phase of the War of
the League of Augsburg. In America, it was fought in the Hudson Bay and the St.
Lawrence River regions. The French made repeated attacks into the colonies
122 Taylor, Colonial Connecticut, p. 206
123 No records show Filleys serving in the first three wars.

bordering present-day Canada. 124 125 A joint New England confederation was
formed for the mutual defense of the region and an expedition to invade Canada
was agreed upon. Connecticut supplied its 135 men quota before the military
plan was cancelled. The war ended in the Treaty of Ryswish and any lands
gained by either side during the conflict were returned.
The second of these European conflicts, The War of Spanish Succession
(1702-1713), saw only sporadic fighting in the colonies. The American phase
was called Queen Annes War. The results of this war included England gaining
| 'je
Newfoundland, Acadia, and the Hudson Bay.
The third war, King Georges War (1742-1748) culminated in the British
capture of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia by a large colonial force. The war saw
French and Indian raids to the colonial border areas.
Whereas the first three wars were essentially European conflicts that
spilled over into America and had little effect on the colonial life, the fourth
conflict became a contest for control of the continent between England and
France. Called the Great War for Empire, it grew out of a battle for resources and
land control in America in 1754 and expanded to Europe in 1756. 126
124 Finding, Events That Changed America in the Eighteenth Century, p. 91
125 Ibid., p. 193
126 Thomas Clarkin, The French and Indian War, Events That Changed America in the
Eighteenth Century, p. 45

Connecticuts militia served in all the wars, but its military participation
escalated during the French and Indian War. A factor of concern for some New
Englanders was not only who would control the North American continent, but
ultimately which culture, French or English (and religion, Catholic or Protestant)
would dominate the country.
Connecticut initially levied taxes, then fitted and raised a militia, which
impressed one -fifth of New Englands quota. At least nine Filley cousins served
Connecticut in the French and Indian War.127 Prior to the conflict, the colonys
assembly in Hartford had commissioned Jonathans son, Jonathan Jr., as a
Wintonbury militia lieutenant. 128 As the war began, Johns son, Daniel, served
with Windsors Fourth Company of the Third Regiment in an expedition to
Crown Point, New York, one of the first British offensives against the French.
He further served in the British defense of Fort Edwards, near Lake George in
New York, even after most of the Connecticut militia had returned to their homes
and families for the winter of 1755-56. 129
During the first four years, the war effort saw nothing but severe reversals
for the British Regulars. The French had superior land forces and the colonies
127 Most Filleys who served in the French and Indian War were identified from The Rolls and
Lists of Connecticuts Men in the French and Indian War, Collections of the Connecticut
Historical Society (Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society, 1903 and 1905), vol. 9 and 10.
Names of Filley, who also served in the war and not found in The Rolls and Lists... have been
appropriately cited.
128 Hoadly, Public Records of Colony of Connecticut: May 1751-Nov. 1757, October 1751, p. 62
129 Stiles, Ancient Windsor (1859), p. 337

gave little support. This began to change in 1757 with renewed leadership in
Parliament, and increasing food, naval, financial, and industrial support from
England. A new spirit permeated the English and their colonial allies.
Connecticut raised 5,000 troops, split into four regiments to assist in attacking
Louisburg, Crown Point, and Fort Duquesne.
Two of these 5,000 soldiers were Ensign Nathaniel Filley (Lieutenant
Jonathans brother) 130and Abraham Filley, (Josiahs grandson). They both
served in the Fifth Company of Windsor. Another of Josiahs grandsons,
William, also served in the Campaign of 1758 with the First Regiments Third
Company from Enfield, Connecticut. Johns son, Josiah, served in Windsors
Ninth Company along with his reenlisted cousin, Daniel.
In the Campaign of 1759, Lieutenant Jonathan and Jonah Filley are
mentioned as seeing action along with a cousin, Mark Filley. Mark, with an older
brother (whose name is unknown), served under General Wolfe in the two-month
siege of the French fort at Louisburg. 131
Records show Daniel Filley reenlisted a third time and fought along with
9,000 Provincials from New England, New York, and New Jersey in 1759. They
won important victories at Ticonderoga and Crown Point. By 1760, Quebec,
Montreal, and New France, had fallen, and only a few skirmishes with Frances
130 Hoadly, Public Records of Colony of Connecticut: May 1751-Nov. 1757, May 1757, p. 16
131 Stiles, Ancient Windsor, (1859), p. 341

Indian allies continued. This prompted Daniel to join the Campaign of 1761 with
the First Regiments First Company for his final tour of duty in this war. The
conflict ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763. The peace terms reflected the
military successes of the English and her American allies. Britain gained control
over half the North American continent, including French Canada.
The Aftermath
The war had profound impacts on Connecticut and its neighboring
colonies. First, the war greatly increased British national debt. The result of this
was a series of colonial taxes. Next, it generated mutual resentment between the
English and the colonists. The English were not satisfied by the colonies support
either financially or militarily during the war, and the colonists felt the English
had treated them as second-class citizens. Subsequently, English leaders felt they
needed to gain more central control over the colonies and their various
governments. The four wars had diverted England's attention from Connecticuts
unchecked governmental power. This allowed a growing sense of domestic
independence, and Connecticut government in the years after the French and
Indian War became even less obedient to English rule.
In addition, the colonies, which initially had serious doubts about their
ability to wage war against the French, had gained confidence in themselves and
realized that the British would not have been able to expel the French without

their help. Before the war the colonies had no colonial unity, but through fighting
a common foe in the French they had at learned, or at least had a taste of, unity in
victory. Furthermore, the New Englanders felt their victory over a Catholic foe
was a mandate from God that their Protestant Christianity was destined to rule
the continent.
Taxes and Discontent
By the 1760s, with the accession of George III, the British Government
was eager to recover financially from the French and Indian War and began a
series of levies to gain tax revenue. The first attempt by the English was the
Sugar Act of 1764. It created a series of regulations to better enforce trade tariffs
and provide needed revenue. Connecticuts merchants and farmers became
alarmed by this Act. The Connecticut legislature protested to the English leaders
and threatened a boycott of English goods.
The British government, disappointed with revenue collected from the
Sugar Act soon planned to enact a new law, the Stamp Act. This was a tax on all
kinds of paper in use as official documents. A tax up to ten pounds was to be
paid on pre-stamped paper, which included mortgages, newspapers, and even
playing cards.132 Whereas the Sugar Act had affected mostly merchants and
suppliers, the Stamp Act extended into virtually everyones daily life. This
132 Hiller B. Zobel, The Boston Massacre (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1970), p. 25

marked a turning point in Anglo-American relations. The Connecticut Assembly
again protested. In an essay to Parliament titled: Reasons why the British
colonies in America, should not be charged with internal taxes, by authority of
Parliament; humbled [sic] offered, for consideration on behalf of the colony of
Connecticut, the assembly argued that the only taxes applicable to Americans
were ones the colonies had approved and voted into effect. This was a right they
had as British subjects and that internal taxes legislated by Parliament violated
their charter rights. Connecticut reminded England that it had supported the king
in the past four wars and that if tax revenues were needed, Parliament should
impose duties on the slave and fur trade (both of little concern to Connecticut).
During the winter of 1765, a group called Sons of Liberty began to
protest this taxation. These radical citizens passed resolutions condemning the
acts, forced tax collectors to resign, and formed protest mobs. The British, unable
to see the schism forming, misjudged the growing American colonial power.
Instead, they were infuriated by the colonial protests and continued to strengthen
controls over the colonies, precipitating an even stronger American resistance.
The long developing unrest in Connecticuts political and social equilibrium and
the religious divisions spurred by the Great Awakening fueled this resistance.
The resulting climate was one of independent thinking and contempt by
the colonists for the oppressive British. This testy independence was different
from William and Samuels piety. The changes in the social, economic, and

religious institutions during the past epoch had transformed the pious Puritan into
a new generation of individuals; people who would respond positively and
energetically to business, family, and community. This new Filley, a Yankee, and
a patriot, stood ready to deal shrewdly with the new western world and the
upcoming revolution against England.

The next generations of Filleys diverged from the family that had
supported the British cause in the French and Indian War. After a decade of
verbal and ideological fighting with the British over how America would be
ruled, the colonists became revolutionaries. This new generation entered an eight
and one half year conflict as unhappy British subjects and emerged as citizens of
an independent nation, the United States of America. 133 This new nation was a
colonial entity that successfully rebelled against an imperial power. 134
Myths of the Revolutionary War permeate American history, suggesting
it was a unified people who rose up to overcome tyranny. Americans were not
united against the British, who were also themselves divided on how to deal with
the colonies. Historians debate the number of colonists who supported the
revolution, but John Adams estimated that one-third of the colonists were
133 Chapter Three addresses only those Revolutionary War battles that involved Filleys or
affected Connecticut and Windsor residents. Authors starting with Robert Middlekauff, The
Glorious Cause: The American Revolution 1763-1789 (New York and Oxford: Oxford Press,
1982), do an outstanding job in discussing the war and its battles.
134 Sofya Medvedev, American Revolution: A Revolution ? Available from
http://odur.let.rug.n1/E/revolution/revo2.htm: Internet; accessed December 27, 2000.

patriots, one-third supported the British as Loyalists, and one-third just wished to
be left alone. 135
However, Connecticuts populace had an essentially hostile attitude
toward England stemming from its origin as a Puritan enclave. These
Connecticut Yankees upheld beliefs established by their forefathers who first fled
the English and then the Massachusetts Bay government, to find peace and
isolation inland. Connecticuts colonists sat through countless sermons preaching
that they were the wheat the Lord had sifted from the chaff of England. 136 This
deep-seated animosity to England, brewing since the 1760s, soon erupted.
Ultimately, the war founded a nation based on what John Locke called
natural rights and as expounded in the Declaration of Independences claims of
life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the concept that all men are created
equal. This was a war based on political and ideological causesthat
government was a voluntary contract between a ruler and the people and that
when this agreement was violated the people had the right to revoltand not for
dynastic or economic gain. 137 This shocked European governments. The world
would never be the same after April 1775s shot that was heard around the
135 John W. Shay, Hearts and Minds: The Case of Long Bill Scott, A People Numerous and
Armed (New York and Oxford: Oxford Press, 1976).
136 David M. Roth and Freeman Meyer, From Revolution to Constitution: Connecticut 1763 to
1818 (Chester, Ct.: The Pequot Press, 1975), p. 5
137 E. Wayne Carp, The Wars of the American Revolution, Available from Internet; accessed December 27, 2000.

world in Lexington and Concord. Support for the revolution spread across the
colonies, into the countryside, and onto the Filleys farms.
Slide to War
The slide into the Lexington and Concord altercation can be traced to the
Sugar and Stamp Acts and the accompanying declarations that intended to
reinforce the legitimacy of Great Britain taxing the colonies. Britain, as
discussed in the previous chapter, began their aggressive taxation of its colonies
to offset the national debt, which had grown to £122,603,336 in 1763. 138 139
The Sugar Act was received by many colonists with overwhelming
feelings of resentment, aggravated by the economic downturn following the
French and Indian War. During the conflict, Connecticut farmers had sold their
agricultural produce to the British and the colonial militias. When the war ended,
their profit source dried up. The downturn plunged Connecticut into a severe
depression, and since farmers lost a major market for their surplus produce, they
were not able to pay their debts to the local merchants. The merchants in turn
were unable to pay their suppliers, forcing many into near bankruptcy.
The subsequent protests resulted in the Sugar Act being repealed.
However, Parliament unwisely thrust another act on the colonies, the Stamp Act.
138 Stiles, Ancient Windsor (1859), p. 381
139 Middlekraff noted that by 1764, the debt grew by an additional £ 7 million. Middlekraff,
Glorious Cause, p. 57

Unlike its predecessor, the Stamp Act was an internal tax, not involved with
customs or regulation of trade. This Act was imposed on all legal documents,
papers used in court proceedings, deeds, college diplomas, mortgages, and
contracts. The Stamp Act even taxed playing cards, at one shilling a deck, and
dice at ten shillings a pair.140 Again, British America erupted in protests from
Georgia to Boston. Again, Parliament bowed to pressures abroad and at home
and repealed the Act. Parliament, now under the control of Charles Townsend,
enacted a new set of duties, the Revenue Act of 1767. 141 This Act enforced the
free housing of British troops and imposed import duties on paper, glass, paint,
lead, and tea. These duties further infuriated the colonists. Parliament again
reluctantly responded to the protest and with the exception of the tax on tea,
revoked the Act.
The smoldering fire of revolt was in air. A public confrontation with
British troops on the streets of Boston resulted in the Boston Massacre in
1770.142 Eight British soldiers, taunted by barrages of snowballs and epithets,
fired into a crowd of three to four hundred angry protestors.143 Eleven Bostonians
were hit by British gun bursts; three men died instantly, one a few hours later and
140 Zobel, The Boston Massacre, pp. 24-25
141 Middlekraff, Glorious Cause, pp. 146-152
142 Zobels The Boston Massacre depicted the events in Boston that lead to the Boston Massacre
and gave a detailed account of the actual event on King Street.
143 Middlekraff, Glorious Cause, p. 206

the fifth after several days. In December of 1773, radical Bostonians, protesting a
British monopoly on tea, dumped tea held in three ships into the bay in order to
prevent its consumption and taxation. This act of defiance became known as the
Boston Tea Party. In June of 1774, the British Government, in response to this
open defiance, closed Boston Harbor until the dumped tea was paid for. No
shipping or commerce was allowed in or out of the port town.
This thrust the area into economic ruin. The deteriorating conditions
aroused the sympathy of people across the colonies, resulting in donations of
food and supplies being shipped overland to the patriots. The Boston patriots
were suffering a punishing lesson from the British. Windsor and its sympathetic
townspeople shared 391 bushels of rye, 89 14 bushels of com, and 14 barrel of
pork with their New England neighbors. 144
First Blood
In an attempt to confiscate a supply of patriots arms and munitions, a
detachment of British Redcoats were dispatched into the Boston countryside.
They traveled to Lexington and Concord on April 19 1775 where they
confronted a group of Minutemen. These men, Massachusettss organized
144 Ibid., p. 383

militia, had been drilling during this period of political unrest to fight at a
minute s notice.
After a short skirmish, eight of the militiamen were dead with ten more
wounded. Only one of the British soldiers was grazed in the leg.145 146 The
countryside began to swarm with farmers and locals ambushing and attacking the
retreating British from behind trees and fences. Bells, watch fires, and mounted
messengers spread the message across the region. With the arrival of new bands
of Minuteman, the British began an exhausting retreat back to Boston. This
retreat became a sixteen-mile gauntlet, with militiamen firing on their British
opposition from behind trees and walls. By sunset when the bulk of the British
soldiers had returned to safety, 283 had become causalities. Ninety-five
American were killed or wounded. 147
Local lore has it Windsor found out about the confrontation in
Massachusetts quickly-the next dayas the news traveled down the East
Coast.148 Connecticut patriot and soon to be war general, Israel Putnam, found
145 A description of the skirmish at Concord and the Minuteman can be found in Robert A.
Grosss The Minutemen and Their World (New York: Hill and Wang, 1976). Gross gave a
detailed account of the famous confrontation. Concord, the village, had much in common with
Windsor, Connecticut, in that, both were small villages founded by English settlers in 1635-36.
Moreover, they were agrarian societies with Puritan roots.
146 Middlekraff, Glorious Cause, p. 270
147 Ibid., pp. 269-270
148 Richard Buel Jr., Dear Liberty: Connecticuts Mobilization for the Revolutionary War
(Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1980), p. 35

out about Lexington and Concord on the morning of the twentieth while working
his fields on his farm in Eastern Connecticut. Legend has it that he was building
a stone wall when he heard the news. He promptly jumped on his horse and rode
non-stop to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in time for the council of war. 149
Within a few hours of hearing the news of Lexington and Concord in
Windsor, twenty-three of Windsors townsmen also marched to join the patriots
from the other New England colonies massing in Lexington.150 Windsors
citizens could easily sympathize with the Minutemen. Puritans had settled
Concord, like Windsor, in 1630s. Their six generations of families had endured
the same challenges and, when hungry, also survived shad and alewives.151 Soon
3,716 Connecticut men, including members of the Sons of Liberty and former
French and Indian veterans joined other revolutionaries from across the colony.
The struggle had now begun, a revolution that would directly involve thirteen
Filleys in service to their country and affect their lives, families, and towns.
l49Clark, A History of Connecticut, p. 284
150 Ibid., p. 384
151 Robert Gross, The Minutemen and Their World, p. 3

Early War Efforts
Responding to the events that were occurring around Boston area, Ethan
Allen and his Green Mountain boys (assisted by a former New Haven,
Connecticut businessman, Benedict Arnold) were granted authority by the
Connecticut Assembly to capture the poorly manned British fort, Ticonderoga.
The fort was strategically positioned between the border, New York and Canada.
Back in the Windsor area, several Filleys were swept up in the
revolutionary fervor and immediately joined the service. This included Elnathan,
whose father, Nathaniel Filley, Sr., had served as an ensign in the French and
Indian War. Joining Elnathan was Jonathan Filley III, whose father,
(Lieutenant Jonathan Filley, Jr.), was Nathaniel, Srs brother. In addition, his
father had served in the French and Indian War. Jonathan III at the time of the
wars outbreak was already serving as an ensign in the militia.
David Filley, Samuels son Johns youngest child also enlisted from East
Windsor, along with Sylvanus and Mark Filley. 152 153 Remembrance Filley, from
the Winchester and Torrington area, west of Simsbury, also joined. Based on
Revolutionary War records, most of the Filleys who joined the war effort served
one or two enlistments and then returned to their farms and families. Several
152 Ibid., p. 314
153 Ibid.

Filleys served multiple tours of duty. Few details exist on specific battles or
actions in which the Filleys participated. 154
At the beginning of the war, compensation for the Filleys and their
comrades who enlisting on seven month tours of duty, was forty shillings a
month. They were also issued fifty-two shillings to purchase a blanket, knapsack,
and clothes; ten shillings for a musket, bayonet and cartouche box; and fifteen
shillings a month for food. Cumulatively, this was more than they could earn as
unskilled laborers in farming season. 155
The Connecticut General Assembly also adopted a food-rationing
schedule for their troops. Each soldier was to receive three-quarters of a pound of
pork or a pound of beef, along with one pound of bread or flour with three pints
of beer daily. Additionally, they were to receive milk, molasses, coffee, tobacco,
toiletries, and weekly rations of com meal, butter, and beans or peas. 156
Although Connecticuts Assembly allocated funds to sustain their troops, the
soldiers rarely saw an abundance of food or supplies outside Connecticut during
the war.
154 Rolls and Lists of Connecticuts Men in the Revolution: 1775-1783, vol. 8 (Hartford:
Connecticut Historic Society, 1901) lists a number of Filleys who served in the war. This thesis
focuses on specific battles Filley were documented to have participated.
155 Buel, Dear Liberty, p. 39
156 Roth, From Revolution to Constitution, p. 33

Bunker Hill
For several months, patriots arrived from New England (including 2,300
from Connecticut) and massed in the Cambridge area on the outskirts of
Boston.157 This ragtag army grew to 10,000 and held the British at bay in Boston.
When spies passed word that the British planned to launch an attack to smash the
resistance in a bold amphibious invasion supported by the navy, the Americans
fortified the areas high ground, Bunker Hill. After the patriots quickly threw up
an earthwork fortification, the battle against the larger and more experienced
British ensued. After hours of fighting, Connecticuts Putman rallied the
American forces that were exhausted and nearly out of ammunition, with his
immortal words Dont fire until you see the whites of their eyes.
The battle became a distinct Yankee victory even though the British
ultimately occupied the field against the farmer-soldiers. The untrained
Americans had fought against the worlds finest army killing 226 and wounding
824 of the 2,400 British engaged. In contrast, the 1,400 patriots soldiers lost 140
killed and 310 wounded.158
157 Although 3,716 soldiers ventured to Massachusetts in April 1775, many returned to their
farms and families before the battle. Approximately 2,300 Connecticut soldiers were in
Massachusetts at the time of Bunker Hill in June.
158 Robert Leckie, George Washingtons War: The Saga of the American Revolution (New York:
HarperPerenial, 1993), p. 164

The battle was of military significance, in that it was a paradigm shift in
battlefield tactics. The free natured Yankee soldier fired independently and
quickly reloaded at his own pace and re-fired. Connecticut captain John Chester
noted, we lost our regularity.. .every man loaded and fired as fast as he
could.159 This was in direct contrast to the regimented, command based firing
and reloading of the Redcoats. This shift disgusted British officers, who felt it
philosophically broke the rules of war. Scholars see it symbolically as a clash
between individual based democracy versus aristocracy. 160
The Battle of Bunker Hill had a sobering effect on the British leadership
when the Americans, who the British viewed as rabble in arms stood fast
against the professional British soldier. The British generals, not recognizing the
enthusiasm and spirit in the colonists who had fought the French sixteen years
earlier, soon estimated that 19,000 troops including foreign mercenaries would
be needed to subdue the rebellion instead of the original 4,000.161
Connecticuts General Assembly, under Governor Trumbulls watchful
eye, contributed to the success of the battle. They provided monies that equipped
eight regiments of militia, including much of the ammunition used at Bunker
159 Ibid., p. 165
160 Ibid.
161 Ibid., p.167

Upon his appointment as commander-in-chief of the army by the
Continental Congress, the colonies governing body, General George
Washington headed for Boston. Once he arrived, Washington discovered an
unorganized, undisciplined group of New Englanders, fresh from their farms and
shops, who were distrustful of any military hierarchy. In fact, some saw authority
as an enemy of liberty. These farmer-soldiers dressed in homespun and carrying
their hunting muskets, were used to a highly independent town meeting based
Gradually Washington and his novice staff brought order to the
encampment and discipline to the troops, running off the loose women, flogging
the drunks and defiant soldiers, and improving the sanitation around the camp.
Washingtons greatest challenge was maintaining the armys numbers.
Enlistments in the militias were short termthree to six months. Adding to the
dilemma was that state militias and Continentals served together in battle under
Washington. In addition, some states paid more for a militia re-enlistment bonus
than the Continental Armys twenty-five dollars bonus. This disparity in pay was
due to each state setting its own military service compensations with most states
having more revenue than the Continental Congress. The newly formed federal
government, a poorly funded authority, determined the pay rate for the

Washingtons new Continental Army. In 1776, a private in the Continental Army
earned forty shillings a month compared to Maryland militiamen who received
thirty-six shillings a month. New York militia soldiers were paid fifty-three
shillings a month. Issues over local militias would continue to plague
Washington during most of the war.162 163
Troops from Windsor, funneled into the newly formed Continental army,
assembling on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. Roll records show that
they included Moses Filley, Josiah Filleys grandson. Under George
Washingtons leadership, the troops began to construct fortifications during the
fall and winter of 1775-76.
Records depict the conditions at the encampment and the diversity of
quarters. Most soldiers ended up living in tents housing six soldiers who were all
cramped in a six or seven square foot area. Housing was made of canvas sail,
board, stone, or brush. The soldiers bedded on cramped, uncomfortable blanket
covered ground and ate from a communal iron pot, each soldier taking a turn at
cooking. The army suffered from a lack of necessities. Food and rations were
162 Charles Patrick Neimeyer, America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army
(New York and London: New York University Press, 1996), p. 125
163 Don Higginbotham in his essay The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Militia, described the
concerns and problems Washington and his generals encountered with militias. Don
Higginbotham, The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Militia, Reconsiderations on the
Revolutionary War (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Company, 1978)