In those days the means of education was scanty.
For some years a school had been established in
Judd's Meadow, to be kept a few weeks in the
winter; but while the boys might brave the winds
and snows to attend it, the task was, for the most
part, too severe for the girls. Indeed, the acquisitions
of those who did go were not great. Spelling, if we
may judge from the specimens which have descended
to us, came, as Dogberry has it,
Religion had its appropriate place in Isaac Judd's family; nay, we had almost said was indigenous in every true Puritan home of the early times. The big Bible lay upon the table, and from its throne of authority dispensed instruction and admonition to the assembled household. Reverently they all stood as the morning and evening prayer was offered by the father, and when the blessing was invoked upon the meals. The Sabbath began at sunset on Saturday night, when all work save that of the most imperative necessity was laid aside. On the Lord's day as many of the family as possible must go to meeting. There was then no meeting house nearer than Waterbury Center, the society at Salem not having been organized till 1781. The distance was six miles, the roads rough, and horseback the only means of conveyance. To the elders of the family, of course, it was assigned to ride. Reining the steed up to the side of the horse-block, the father mounted first; then, adjusting her cushioned pillion to the saddle, the mother sprang up behind him, holding herself in place by her arm around her husband's waist. Lastly, the baby – for there was rarely an interval in that family when a youngster of this designation did not claim parental attention – was placed in its father's arms; and thus amply freighted, the patient animal took its jog-trot journey to the house of God. The young people accompanied them on foot with sober and reverent pace, as became the sacred day, none being allowed to remain home unless sick, or having the care of some one else, or for some indispensable need of the household or the farm.
The drum, vigorously beaten at the meeting-house
door, announced the hour of worship. Entering the
little sanctuary, no cushioned and carpeted pew was
seen, but bare benches ranged in two
Furnace or stove there was none, save the small
foot-stove, containing a little pan of coals, which the
wealthier matrons carried with them. No matter how
severe the winter, the people, who perhaps had faced
the cutting winds, or waded through the deep snows,
on the way, sat the hour and a half through with
heroic fortitude. Those who lived at a distance had,
if they were able, small
Did they count it a hardship thus to honor God in
his sanctuary? No; it was a service of love, of
unfeigned, heartfelt devotion. We know of nothing
more affecting than the old, misspelled records, in
which we may read of the sacrifices endured by the
first settlers of the New England towns to procure
for themselves and their children the privileges of
public worship. The people of Waterbury were poor;
the whole property of the township, real and personal,
would not amount to as much as the cost of any one
of a dozen of the church edifices now standing within
its ancient limits. The little meeting-house in use at
the time of the Revolution was
We love to linger amid the recollections of these old, Puritan families. They had their weaknesses and their faults, like the rest of mankind. Petty vices may have existed among the lower classes–the indolent, the shiftless, and the intemperate. Poverty, toil, the want of books, and remoteness from cultivated society may have caused a lack of polish, and some coarseness of manners and habits. But, making all allowance for these things, they were the salt of the earth. These hard-working, God-fearing fathers and mothers were the founders of the state, and none in all the family of nations had nobler than they.
When the oppressions of the mother country began
to be felt in the colonies, there were none more prompt
to join in resistance to them than Isaac Judd and his
sons. Three of them–Roswell. Isaac and Walter–
were of an age to bear arms, and at different times all
entered into the army. Roswell was then a member
of one of the militia companies of Waterbury. The
British General Howe, having evacuated Boston, appeared
in June, 1776, off New York, threatening an
attack upon that city. Congress made a requisition
upon Connecticut for troops, and the legislature, then
in session, authorized seven regiments of volunteers to
be raised in that colony to join the Continental army.
A few weeks later the condition affairs became so
critical that General Washington sent an urgent appeal
for help, and the governor of Connecticut responded
with an order directing the whole body of the
standing militia west of the Connecticut River, and
two regiments from the east side, to march forthwith
to New York,
The companies from Waterbury arrived in season to take part in the disastrous battle of Long Island, and the various skirmishes and fights that followed. Many men were lost, both by casualties and sickness; indeed, the latter was the more fatal of the two. Called suddenly into service in the sultriest days of summer, subjected to the severest duty in the field, resulting in defeat and retreat, with no proper commissary or sanitary stores, it is no wonder that these raw levies were unable to stand the hardships, and that the hospitals, such as they were, were speedily filled with disabled men. In these circumstances, the Connecticut Assembly directed the governor to write to General Washington, requesting him, as soon as might be, to discharge the sick in the militia who should be adjudged incapable of further service.
Mr. Judd, receiving intelligence of Roswell's sickness and discharge under this order, hastened to the camp to look after him. He was, however, too ill to be at once removed; but owing to careful nursing. with a naturally vigorous constitution, he at length sufficiently recovered to warrant the journey. It was a long and toilsome undertaking. His father rode from Waterbury on horseback. There were no railroads then, nor even stage coaches. Small vessels had been wont to sail, more or less frequently, from New Haven or Derby; but during these troublesome times all regular communications of this sort were suspended. Only one way was left. Roswell was placed upon the back of the horse, and his father trudged on foot by his side. Their progress was slow, for the invalid was too weak to ride far in a day. It was nearly a week before they reached home – a trip which may now be easily accomplished in three hours.
As the war went on, the hardships it occasioned were more and more felt in the homes of the people. As early as 1774, Congress adopted a series of resolutions pledging the delegates and inhabitants of the colonies to a system of non-intercourse with Great Britain, hoping, by thus depriving her of a market for her manufactures, to compel her to redress their grievances. Nothing which was produced by England or her colonies was to be imported or consumed. Tea, coffee, sugar, molasses, spices, indigo, etc., were to be disused, Home industries were to be fostered. The rich were to discard their silks and broadcloths, and appear in homespun, which, if inferior in texture and finish, was at least the product of free hands.
To enforce this abstinence from imported goods, one of the
resolutions of Congress recommended the appointment of a vigilance
committee in every town,
This Resolution was seconded by a vote of the town of Waterbury, in
which it was agreed that the people would
It required no small courage and self-denial to comply fully with the terms of this agreement. The people had few luxuries at the best, and these swept them all away at a blow. What could families do without tea, sugar and spices, and a thousand articles needed for housekeeping and for personal use. But necessity is the mother of invention. Substitutes for forbidden articles were found or contrived, many of which would excite no little surprise at the present day. The cider cup more than ever supplied the place of both coffee and tea, and the tall maples furnished, to those who possessed them, their delicious syrup and sugar. In the family of Mr. Judd, who seemed not to have been thus favored, the necessary sweetening was procured in another way. The Indian corn is the botanical cousin of the sugar cane, and its juices, when fresh, are not without saccharine qualities. So the cornstalks were cut, their leaves stripped off, and the stems, bruised and wrung, were placed in a kettle and boiled, from which a coarse syrup was obtained, which helped to make pies and cakes palatable. The writer has often heard his relative, the venerable lady before mentioned, then one of the younger daughters of the family, describe this unique process, and say that she had many a time twisted the cornstalks for syrup-making till her little bands were blistered.