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Ma k i n g E n d s Me e t

Financing Every-Day Life for a Madison Family 1685-1865

An Exhibition on early New England Financial Life as it affected the daily affairs of the Grave Family and their community, with special focus on the history of the Deacon John Grave House.




Ma k i n g E n d s Me e t

Deacon John rave GFoundation 3

Dear Friends of the Grave House, It has been an honor to be associated with the Making Ends Meet effort. We hope the resulting exhibition will give visitors and readers of this book a better understanding of what life was like between 1685 and 1865, and how one family dealt with the economics of every day life during the early days of our country.” Cy Wastcoat, President, Deacon John Grave Foundation

acknowledgements The Deacon John Grave

Other major donors include the

 Our deepest gratitude goes out

Foundation wishes to thank

NewAlliance Foundation,

to all.

Bill Brown Design for the

the Museum of American

preparation of this book and the

Financial History (New York)

exhibition design and production,

and Myra and Art Mahon. 

with the generous production help of Rob Fox.

We also wish to thank The Erwin Bauer

Our thanks also to archivist

Charitable Trust,

and author Warner Lord who,

Loretta and Charles Walz,

together with Elizabeth Fox,

Specialty Lighting Group

our Curator and consultant,

with Lemley Electric,

provided the research and wrote

Marketing Resources,

the Making Ends Meet story.

Page Taft Real Estate, Davis Realty, LLC,

None of this would have been

Madison Newcomers,

possible without the generosity

Merrill Lynch

of our more than fifty financial

and Morgan Stanley.

supporters, including a major

matching grant from the

Additonal sponsors include

Connecticut Council

Jack M. Heflin, Ginny Henry,

for the Humanities.

Dominic and Jane Griffin and Jill and Nick Davidge. 

Book Printing by Hitchcock Printing and Distribution Vitrene bases by Carl Johnson | The Woodrack Digital output and production of panels by Seth Kantrowitz Kew Digital Imaging Front cover Field of Onions, 1781 Courtesy of Wethersfield Historical Society © 2006 Deacon John Grave Foundation

Financing Every-Day Life for a Madison Family 1685-1865

An Exhibition on early New England Financial Life as it affected the daily affairs of the Grave Family and their community, with special focus on the history of the Deacon John Grave House.


lovers of A merican history, coupled with having a home in Madison, we discovered that The Deacon John Grave House is a splendid extra benefit.

Also, as a collector of antique financial documents, I naturally saw a match between Connecticut colonial banknotes, the instruments Brother Jonathan Trumbull invented to help Washington finance the Revolutionary War, and the House, where so much history had been lived and observed by one Madison family. As others evaluated that idea, the challenge we all face in making a living and providing for our families began to transform itself into an opportunity to dramatize the challenge faced by the Grave family, and present it in the marvelous context of their own home and inn, post office, tavern, way station, and all sorts of other uses the family invented over the years to help make ends meet. And so, this lovely exhibit has sprung from the dusty and often overlooked pages of history to excite us all once again with the creative spirit and the example of the conscientious work of some very special Connecticut Yankees. We welcome you and hope you will enjoy what you see. John Herzog


Th e D e a c o n J o h n G r av e H o u s e , located at 581 Boston Post Road in Madison, Connecticut, is unique because its history is the story of seven generations of one Madison family, how they lived and died, their joys and sorrows and their continual struggle to make ends meet in a constantly changing society, all within the confines of this one house. Seven generations of farmers, haulers, soldiers, weavers , shoemakers, dressmakers and innkeepers have walked its time-worn floorboards.

Five generations kept amazingly meticulous entries in account books that reveal their story, from early colonial beginnings to the twentieth century. The origin of this exhibition is the Grave family finances and how, by reading their account book entries and other documents, we come to understand how they spent their days, weeks and years. What kind of money did they use? How were goods and services valued? How did John Grave II live in this house when it was just two rooms, with his wife, nine children, slaves and occasional guests? How indeed! The Grave story begins in the largest room of the Deacon John Grave House, one of the oldest houses in Madison, where the huge summer beam dominates the ceiling and a finely paneled wall surrounds the fireplace. How did a Madison family finance their everyday lives and Make Ends Meet?



The Settlement of Madison

Map of Menuncatuck (now Guilford), 1639. Courtesy of the Madison Historical Society. This map was drawn by Henry Whitfield and John Higginson and depicts the land purchased in 1639 by Whitfield from the Sachem squaw Shaumpishuh.


Before settlers arrived in the mid-seventeenth century, the land was inhabited by the Hammonasetts and other Native American tribes, who were attracted by the rich fishing and shelling grounds of Long Island Sound. However, by the time of the English settlement, the land was predominantly used by the Mohegans. The English settlers purchased large tracts of land from the Native Americans between 1636 and 1641. On these tracts of land, colonies were established from Saybrook to New Haven; in 1639 Henry Whitfield purchased a large part of present-day Guilford from the one-eyed squaw, Shaumpishuh, sachem (leader) of a small group of Native Americans living in the area. The purchase

price was twelve coats, twelve fathom of wampum, twelve glasses, twelve pairs of shoes, twelve hatchets, twelve pairs of stockings, twelve hoes, four kettles, twelve knives, twelve hats, twelve porringers, twelve spoons and twelve English coats. The land now known as Madison was purchased in several land transactions. First, George Fenwick purchased the land from Niantic to Tuxis Pond from Uncas, sachem of the Mohegans. The western part of the purchase included the land forming the eastern part of present-day Madison. This land was later transferred to Henry Whitfield, who settled in Guilford in 1639 and built his house in 1641.

background Trading for Beaver Skins. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.


i n t r o d u c t i o n


Later, Whitfield purchased the land from the East River to Tuxis Pond, known as Menukatuck, from a Niantic named Weekwash. In exchange for the land, Weekwash received a frieze coat, a blanket, an Indian coat, one Dutchman’s coat, a shirt, a pair of stockings, a pair of shoes and a faddom [fathom] of wampum.

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Goods traded for Madison. Courtesy of Charolette L. Evarts Memorial Archives.

Uncas would later claim that this land belonged to the Mohegans. Whitfield then paid him with four coats, two kettles, four hatchets, three hoes and four faddom of wampum. Native Americans placed a high value on these goods — fine textiles, metalware and glass — since they did not have the resources to produce them. William Leete and Samuel Kitchell later purchased the land lying north of the general location of the present Interstate 95 to the Durham border from Uncas. The purchase price was one Indian coat and a quantity of shirt cloth. The value of these items was approximately 40 shillings.

opposite page, Map of New England, 1677 (detail) William Hubbard and John Foster, Boston. Woodcut engraved by John Foster. From William Hubbard’s A Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New England. This map shows how the settlement of Connecticut was largely along the shore and the Connecticut River. Guilford and New Haven are the only towns shown from the New Haven Colony. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.



First Generation –John Grave I (circa 1633 – 1695)


Ma k i n g E n d s Me e t

The Family

The settlement at Guilford, located west of the East River, prospered as new families took up residence and established homesteads. Among these was John Grave I of Hartford. Grave came from England with his father, George, a weaver by trade. George Grave is counted among the founders of Hartford, having arrived in 1636 with Thomas Hooker and his followers. John, a blacksmith by trade, moved to Guilford in 1657. There, John married a wealthy widow, Elizabeth Stillwell, acquired property and built a house. He and Elizabeth had eleven children, the eldest of whom was John II, born in 1658. John I quickly earned the respect of the Guilford community. He served as the Town Clerk for three years and was deputy of the General Court (a representative of the town) from 1660 until his death in 1695. He served as captain of the train band (local militia) and owned several tracts of land in Guilford. He was chosen as a deacon in the First Congregational Church — one of the most esteemed offices at this time. While communicating with distant relatives was not as simple as it is today, the Grave family did their best to stay in touch with relatives in England. Letters from relatives were infrequent but certainly welcome. In February of 1675, Ann Grave, living in England wrote a letter to “Cousen John Graves” addressing it thus: This for John Grave Livinge at Guilfort In ye county of new haven this wheare [sent] In new Ingland

opposite,Man, woman and boy in costume dating from 1600 through 1650. Drawn by Robert St. George after Cunningham and Cunningham. From New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century.

What is a train band?

A train band was a civilian militia organized by a community. Communities held training days to instruct young men in the military skills of marching, obedience to orders and the handling of weapons. Training days were held on the town green where there was plenty of room to practice marching. Elias Grave was an officer in the East Guilford, militia or local army.


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Despite the vague address and lack of a postage stamp, the letter arrived and remains in our collection today. In her letter Ann writes that her daughter Susannah, who had written to George Grave in 1673, “has dyed about month ago” leaving two young sons, Joseph, age ten and Jonathan, age six. Ann was herself “about eighty years old.” She writes to John, because “you ought to know who of our Famely is yet in ye Lands of ye living –” She goes on to tell John that she has set aside in her will a bequest for each of the family members living in New England. She asks John to write to her explaining whether he wishes to receive the bequest in goods or money, and how it is to be sent. She provides the names of Mr. 14

Orbell and Mr. Kiffin in England “should it please God to take me out of this world before yr letter comes.” Ann dated her letter in February, which suggests it was delivered to John in May, or later. His reply would have taken much less time to reach Ann because the prevailing winds and favorable currents, when sailing from west to east, would have shortened the journey considerably. This is much like the prevailing westerly winds affecting airline travel today.

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The Community

According to Kathleen Ryerson, in her book entitled A Brief History of Madison: “no definite date can be given for the erection of the first house in East Guilford (now Madison), but a bridge was built across East River in 1649, so people must have been desirous of a means of traveling from one side of the river to the other. The first settlements were in the Neck and at Hammonassett, working toward the center; then the population gradually spread northward. By 1695, there were about thirty families in the Madison area.” In the 1670s the Town of Guilford encouraged settlement in the section called Esterly Farms, or East Guilford (incorporated as Madison in 1826). In 1675, John Grave I obtained an allocation of land there, with the condition that the land be farmed and a house built on the property within three years. However, it is unlikely that John I ever lived in East Guilford as he had a substantial stone house in Guilford. On July 7, 1682 John Grave I deeded to John Grave II twenty-seven acres of his Third Division land.

What was Third Division Land?

Third Division land refers to the third of five offerings of land for East Guilford settlement.

The Finances

In 1679 John I purchased a leather-bound account book, inscribed his name and began to 15

first generation


Ma k i n g E n d s Me e t

Hannah’s distribution, 1696

An account of what Hannah Grave hath received July 3 1696 one ox 06 10 00 one year old white heifer 02 10 00 to yearlings 03 00 00 one weaning calf 00 14 00 four sheep and a lamb 02 05 00 cart and wheels 01 06 00 one set of iron bands 00 16 00 cart boxes 00 12 00 round pins iron 00 06 00 linch pins and washers 00 04 00 yoke and irons and bows 00 04 00 chape(?) and pin 00 02 00 three hoes 00 07 00 one peace hook(?) 01 00 00 a swine according to agreement in division 00 17 06 by a joined bedstead 01 15 00 one wrought coverlet 02 05 00 one sack 00 06 00 one joined chest 00 16 00 two wooden bottles 00 04 00 one cut sash 00 06 00 one great tow sack 01 02 00 one gun according to agreement in dividing 00 12 00 one third part of the nails 02 05 00 one set of green sage curtains and valance 05 00 00 one bible 00 10 00 one feather bolster 01 09 00 one feather pillow 00 08 00 straw bed and bed cord 00 05 00 one box with lock and key 00 05 00 one pillow 00 09 00 napkins 01 06 00 one table cloth 00 06 00 one pair of fine sheets 02 15 00 one pair sheets 01 08 00 part of a sheet 00 13 09 one pillow coat 00 06 00 two pillow coats 00 08 00 one pair tow sheets 01 10 00 two pillow coats 00 05 00 three yards and a quarter linsey-woolsey 00 19 06 one hollow tub 00 05 00 one little table 00 10 00 one great table 00 05 00 one box 00 01 00 one woolen wheel 00 04 00 one quart basin 00 03 00 one porringer 00 03 00 one pewter platter 00 04 00 one silver spoon 0 one great brass kettle 04 10 00 two blankets 02 00 00 one blanket 00 11 06 one blanket at John’s 00 15 00 one old sheet 00 10 00 one case glass 00 00 06 by part of a chas(?) boad 00 12 00 one woolen wheel (crossed out) 00 06 00 one saltcellar 00 03 00

Valued at five pounds, Hannah’s green sage bed curtains and valance were worth more than double the “four sheep and a lamb” valued at 2 pounds, 5 shillings.

Courtesy of The Antiquarian & Landmarks Society, Inc.


first generation

record his dealings with the community. This simple act was the beginning of a long tradition in the Grave Family of recording all their financial transactions. John’s first entry describes the purchase of 18 pairs of gloves from Goodman Thornton, whom he paid in flax. He then sold the gloves to various people, keeping two pairs – one for his wife and one for himself. This tradition continued unbroken until the last entry in volume three of the account books in 1895. The final entries in the third volume are dated 1895. They read as follows: 1895 for Mary & myself Jan 26th Medicine from Doc Beebe Feb 12th to MGR Feb 14th Colonists used the British system of money: the pound, shilling and pence. A pound (£1) equaled 20 shillings (s) and a shilling equaled 12 pence (d). Therefore, £1 = 20s and 1 s = 12d. Americans continued to use the British system for years after the Revolutionary War. 18

However, most trade during the 17th and 18th centuries was done by bartering — exchanging goods or services for those of equal value. In order to keep track of all of the exchanges and to settle them out periodically, people kept account books. The Grave family account books, covering six generations’ finances, have survived and provide us with fascinating glimpses of their lives. For example, John Grave I’s daughter, Hannah, born in 1680 was not “of age,” or old enough to be married, at the time of her father’s death in 1695. To provide for her future, she was given portable goods that she would bring into a marriage — those goods are listed on page 105 of the first volume of the Grave account books. It was common that the males in the family received land and the females received more portable goods, such as livestock and household goods. Valued at five pounds, Hannah’s green sage bed curtains and valance were worth more than double the “four sheep and a lamb” valued at 2 pounds, 5 shillings. John Grave kept his account book in a safe place because it contained his financial records. He would have had a wooden document box with a lock on it for security. He could quickly figure out who owed him and whom he owed. Here John recorded credits to John Collins for shoes purchased for his family from 1690 until 1694, and debts for wheat and flax purchased by Collins. Periodically John would “reckon” with Mr. Collins to balance the accounts and determine if either of them was owed money “to balance” by the other. Once an account was “reckoned” it was marked with a large “X” and signed by both parties.

Ma k i n g E n d s Me e t

This reproduction document box is similar to one made in Guilford, Connecticut about 1700.


Second Generation –John Grave II (1658 – 1726)


Ma k i n g E n d s Me e t

The Family

John II married Elizabeth Foote in 1685. They moved to the small house that had been constructed on the land in East Guilford, now known as the Deacon John Grave House, deeded to John II by his father in 1682. He followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming deeply involved in the affairs of East Guilford. John and his wife had eleven children, two of whom died in infancy. John II seems to have made most of his living farming his own land, tilling and planting for others, making cider and carting lumber and grain. Like so many other settlers during this period, John II had other occupations as well. In 1707 John took on the role of teacher, which he recorded in the book: “I began to teach school on the 16th of December 1707.” He had nine male students, including his own two sons. Girls were not included in John’s class. Girls would learn the skills they would need from their mothers and other women. We do not know where John kept school — perhaps in his house? However, in 1707, the family — all eleven of them, plus guests and slaves — lived in the two-room house, a very distracting place for young scholars! In 1717 John was appointed an “ordinary” keeper — meaning he was granted permission to run a tavern or inn. John may have provided accommodations for travelers as early 1709, when his books show debts for feeding and lodging “souldiers.” The first law passed in the Colony of Connecticut required that each town provide at least “one sufficient inhabitant to keep an Ordinary that such passengers and strangers may know where to resort.” The position of tavern keeper was given only to the most respectable members of the community.

opposite, Man and Woman in costume dating from 1680 through 1700. Drawn by Robert St. George after Cunningham and Cunningham. From New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

What did girls do in school?

In the 18th century girls did not often go to school as boys did. They learned the skills necessary to manage a household from women. Although girls did not receive a formal education as boys did, they did learn basic reading and math skills as well as domestic skills such as sewing. Younger girls and boys may also have attended a “Dame School.” Dame Schools were taught by women of the community and were an early form of day care. The woman in charge of the Dame School often mixed her daily chores with instruction in math and reading.

Reproduction of a horn book, an early form of a text book.


second gener ation

below, The Boston News-Letter, 1711 version. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.


Taverns were more than establishments for eating, drinking and lodging. They were centers of communication, since stages brought news from other towns. In 1711 John recorded a subscription to The Boston News-Letter, the first continuously-published newspaper in America. The paper was filled with news from Boston and other colonial towns, as well as from London. The scene at the Grave’s inn must have been a lively one when the latest issue of The Boston News-Letter arrived with the up-to-date news of the colonies and London. The men of the community mingled with travelers on the Boston Post Road as pipes were lit and glasses filled,

while the assembled crowd debated the political, social, and economic issues of the day. The role of women in the life of the family is not documented in the Grave accounts. We can only guess at the daily routines of managing a household filled with children, servants, guests and community members coming and going.

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left, Detail of panel from the Moses Marcy House, Southbridge, Massachusetts, circa 1740. Courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village.

above, Clay Pipe Fragments, 1680-1710. Found on the Deacon John Grave house property and is the type smoked in the Grave tavern.

Surely it was a complex task to balance family concerns with those of running a tavern. When the men were called away for an extended period, as in time of war, all responsibility fell on the women. In addition to managing family and household, they dealt with their husbands’ business activities to the extent they were able.

The Community

When John Grave Senior died in 1695, his will stated, in part: “unto John Grave which is the eldest son as his part, first he is to have all the lands now in his possession at Tuxus farms where he dwells and also the buildings and home lot at the town and the land in the great plain which leith on the east side of the byway there.�


second gener ation

At that time, John Grave II was already living in the small house at Tuxis Farm in East Guilford that he received upon his marriage in 1685. The actual date this house was built is still being studied. It is believed that part of the structure was built by 1685, with changes made as the family needed additional space. Later, perhaps about 1715, it appears John II enlarged the house from a one-over-one room house to one with a hall (a large parlor) and a kitchen on the first floor and two chambers (bedrooms) on the second floor. At that time the entrance was probably changed to face the Post Road and the chimney was moved to the center of the house.

By 1695, thirty families had settled in East Guilford, and in 1699 petitioned the General Assembly of Connecticut to establish their own society, or church congregation. As a society, they would still be part of the town of Guilford, but would be allowed to have their own meetinghouse. Their petition was approved in 1703, and the meetinghouse was built in 1707. Rev. John Hart, the first graduate of Yale, was selected in 1707 to be the first minister of the Church of the Second Society of Guilford. All improvements in town were paid for with taxes. In 1702 Joseph Dudley was paid for assessing all the property and Stephen Bishop for collecting the taxes. Roads and bridges were built and 24

improved. By 1701, with the establishment of mail service between New York and Boston, the Post Road became a major turnpike through the

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Financial document Windsor, Connecticut, 1721. Deacon John Grave Foundation.

colonies. In 1716 the first schoolhouse was built, because the East Guilford settlers were so far from Guilford that they had “very little or no benefit by school, and being, by Divine goodness, blessed with a considerable number of children.”

The Finances

After his father’s death in 1695, John II inherited the family account books and continued the family tradition of recording his own credits and debits. In addition to his finances, John used the books as a diary and record book, recording births and deaths, as well as the day his son went off to war. John II’s accounts show he was paid twenty shillings per year to beat the drum. Beating the drum was a means to call people to church and for town meetings. On page 281 he recorded that “I had the care of beating the drum on Sabbath days [beginning] the first of July in the year 1713.” The drum he beat may have been made locally, since he

left, Drum, circa 1700. Courtesy of The Connecticut Historical Society


second gener ation

English Farthing, 1674. A farthing had the value of one-quarter of a silver penny. From 1672, copper coinage, both farthings and halfpennies, were minted with the head of Charles II on the front and Britannia on the verso. It was the first time Britannia had been used on British coins. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Jack Heflin.


gave credit to Ebenezer Stone in 1713 for “3 drum heads.” Stone is credited several times in 1717 for dressing a drumhead. John continues to beat the drum until 1724 when the church appropriated funds for a bell. As was common at the time, John was often paid for services in goods rather than cash. Even the minister, The Reverend John Hart, was paid his salary of ninety pounds in wheat, rye, pork and Indian corn, in addition to his twenty loads of firewood. Another example is the debts of one Mark Mallam, recorded between 1716 and 1720. Mr. Mallam appears to have been a merchant; on several occasions he was charged for meals for several seamen. Mr. Mallam’s accounts take up

two complete pages in John’s book; his debts include such things as black oak hogshead staves (for making barrels), drinks, meals and lodging including “entertainment one night, horse and man.”

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What is Flip?

Rum, flip (beer, wine or liquor sweetened with eggs and spices), beer and cider were the drinks most frequently mentioned.

He balanced his account by bartering such items as a brass kettle, six dozen of buttons, thirty-two gallons and a half of rum, two bottles of bad rum (!) and three dozens pipes. If you were a tavern keeper would you have been pleased to receive those items in return for services rendered? When John’s daughter, Sarah, was married in 1720, the account book lists the portable goods brought into her marriage. English law forbade the use of non-English currency in the colonies, but the law was almost impossible to enforce. The most widely circulated coin in the colonies during the 17th century was the Spanish reale. Valued for its purity of silver, it was also known as “pieces of eight”, since the large coin was cut into eight slices and exchanged.

The Colonies also produced their own coins. Massachusetts Bay minted coins valued in shillings between 1652 and 1682. Interestingly, they all bear the date of 1652, the year that the English act of treason was imposed.

Flip (oed): Originally, a mixed drink of beer and spirits heated with a hot iron. Today, it’s a drink with spirits or wine beaten with egg and sugar, served warm or iced.

Why were all Pine Tree Shillings dated 1652?

The colony of Massachusetts Bay minted a coin called the Pine Tree Shilling between 1652 and 1682.They all bear the date of 1652, because anyone who made coins after that date was committing treason. Coins courtesy American Museum of Finance, New York.


second gener ation

Not all of Grave’s transactions were settled in goods. He used both the Spanish reale and the English shilling in trade. In August 1694 he records that he “paid to John Cristin one piece of eight,” and in 1716 he records paying Nathaniel Stone, a local tanner, in both a piece of eight and later in shillings. When John II died, a detailed inventory was taken of his estate. All of the property, including household possessions, needed to be recorded for the probate court. Note that the bed curtains were valued higher than the bedstead. John II left his wife, Elizabeth, one-third part of his estate. In his will, dated 1726, he states: “My Will is and I do give to Elizabeth Grave my Dear & Loving Wife ye one Third part of my movable Effects. Ye use or profit of one third part of all my Lands & of my old Dwelling House During her natural Life and my Negro woman Cato.”

What is a Widow’s Third?

In order to provide financial support for a widow, English commong law provided the widow with one-third of her husband’s estate. However, the widow did not actually own the property, but rather it was set aside for her for use during her lifetime.

The widow’s third was a common practice during this period. The fact that John owned a slave is also not surprising. Men of his financial means often owned several slaves who worked in the fields along side their owner and his sons and lived in the dwelling house. Cato probably worked in the house with Elizabeth Grave. Cato is not listed among the possessions in John’s inventory, as was standard.


Ma k i n g E n d s Me e t

Third Generation –John Grave III (1690 – 1763)

The Family

John Grave III was the son of John and Elizabeth Foote Grave of East Guilford. He married Elizabeth Stevens in 1714 and she bore him four children. Elizabeth died in 1725, and John married Abigail Starr in 1728 and they had three children. You may recall that in 1726, John Grave II had willed his wife Elizabeth one third of his dwelling house and his moveable effects (furniture, etc.)

How do you think John III’s second wife, Abigail, whom he married in 1728, coped with having her mother-in-law owning one-third of her home and furnishings?


third generation

In 1753, one year after the death of Abigail, John married his son’s mother-in-law, the widow Naomi (Dudley) – sounds like an 18th century soap opera, doesn’t it? Like his father and grandfather, John held important offices in the community. He was a deacon in the church and an ensign in the local militia, also known as the “train band.” In 1754 he was appointed justice of the peace, an office he

held until his death in 1763. As justice of the peace he dealt with local legal issues, summoning local residents to his dwelling to answer complaints. John III understood the importance of education for his eldest son. His account book includes an entry in 1747 for “An account of what Mr. Todd hath received on account of Elias schooling.” Apparently, Mr. Todd was paid in advance, as he is listed as “debtor by cash” in the amount of two pounds. Mr. Todd was the local minister.

The Community

The Faithful Servant Rewarded, A Sermon Delivered at East-Guilford. Printed by Timothy Green of New London, 1732.When the first minister, Rev. John Hart died in 1730 after 23 years of service his memorial sermon was given by the Durham minister Rev. Nathaniel Chauncey. The sermon was published two years later. Lent by Madison Historical Society, Madison, Connecticut.


The East Guilford church, or Second Society of Guilford, played an important part in the life of area residents. It was the sole place of worship and also served as the community meeting place. Like his father, John III beat the drum for worship and meetings, and, like his grandfather, he served as a deacon in the church. The first minister, Rev. John Hart, died in 1730 after 23 years of service and was succeeded by Rev. Jonathan Todd, who served the church and community for nearly 60 years.

The Finances

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Like his father and grandfather, John III had many skills he would use to support his family. In 1707, as a young man, he learned the trade of weaving from one of his father’s boarders. According to John II’s record, a weaver named Jeheil Hoyt “began to board at my house.” Hoyt was charged for working on the family’s loom, but was given credit for weaving both linen and wool as well as “by instructing John to weave.” When

Mr. Hoyt was not teaching John III to weave, he was sent to work in the fields. No lying about in the Grave house! left, Haying, detail from Diderots’ Encyclopedie, circa 1760. background, Carting from Thomas Dilworth’s A New Guide to the English Tongue, 1740. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.


third generation

Pair of reproduction 18th century shoes. This is the type of shoe that was made by John Grave III. Lent by Warner Lord


In addition to weaving, John III also farmed his land and carted wood and crops. His son, John IV, was a shoemaker living in the house with his father, who kept his accounts. The diversity of the Grave family’s sources of income can be seen in a single account book entry in 1742, which charges Daniel Bishop for

services provided by the family: weaving, plowing, haying, threshing wheat, firewood and work on the highways. Page 230 of the account book records a flurry of work for Josiah Crittenden between February and June 1741. There are ten references to shoe making, two for sawing boards, one for weaving 30 yards of cloth, two for loads of wood and plowing. This work was valued at 14 shillings 3 pence. The Grave account book also records charges for his sons’ work in others’ fields and for the work of Stepney and Newport, his slaves. In 1730 an entry lists his sons, John and Ezra, working for 8 shillings a day, the same price he charges for the slaves’ work. The slaves are also credited for clearing fields, planting crops, pulling stones and mending fences. While John Grave was a Justice of the Peace, his home served as the courtroom for the East Society. There are numerous entries for writing and signing writs, acknowledging deeds and pronouncing judgment on a variety of issues.

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By the 1720s he might have had either a Spanish and an English coin in his pouch or perhaps one produced in Connecticut. One of the most common coins produced in the colony was the Higley token or copper. It was made from copper mined from John Higley’s mine in Granby between 1737 and 1739 and bears the inscription, “I am good copper” or “Value me as you please.”

Frontispiece to The Pleasant and Profitable Companion, Boston, 1733 Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society



Fourth Generation –Elias Grave (1733 – 1802)

This sword was carried by Captain Daniel Hand (1732-1816) of East Guilford, a contemporary of Elias Grave, during the Revolutionary War. Lent by Madison Historical Society Madison, Connecticut Gift of W. W. Pardee

right, Image of Soldiers from a powder horn belonging to Nathaniel Selkrig, 1758. far right, View of Fort William Henry from powder horn belonging to Thomas Smith Diamond, 1756. Both courtesy of William P. Guthman Collection


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The Family

Elias was the son of John Grave III and his second wife, Abigail. Although not the eldest son, he inherited the homestead when his father died in 1763. His older brother, John IV, died in 1759, and his other older brother Simeon lived in another house. Elias first was married to Mabel Murray in 1763. She bore him two children; the first died as an infant and the second, John, died at age 20. His second wife, Mary Cleveland Hubbard, bore him four children. When he was 22, Elias answered his country’s call to duty during the French and Indian War, and would later serve in the American War of Independence or the Revolutionary War. As recorded in John III’s journal: “Sept. the 8, 1755. Then Elias Graves was prest into the expedition to crownpoint.” He also recorded Elias’ safe return on November 26, 1755. Elias returned to the battlefield in 1757, serving under Major Elliot at Fort William Henry on Lake George. In April 1758 he served in Canada, finally returning home on December 11, 1758. At the time of the Revolutionary War Elias was appointed Lieutenant and then Captain of the 7th Connecticut Regiment, serving in 1778 and 1779. His commission, which still exists, was signed by Governor Jonathan Trumbull, an ardent patriot and the only man to hold the post of Governor of both a colony and a state. In 1777, at the age of 42, Elias wrote his will before being called to serve in the war: “It is my Will knowing that it is appointed for man once to die and being now a going abroad in the defense of my country not knowing whether I ever shall return.”

What was the French and Indian War? This war was called the French and Indian War by the English because they were fighting the French and France’s Indian allies. The war was fought over the land claimed by both the English and the French. The battles were fought along the Hudson River, Lake Ontario and the Ohio River.


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He left his wife, Mabel, his personal (non-real estate) property, his “Negro Boy,� and one-third of the rest of his land. The other land was to be divided among brother Simeon, sister Ann and his niece Ruth.

It must have been a trying and emotional time for Elias and his family as he prepared to leave his home to serve again. We must also remember that in Elias’ absence his wife had to assume his responsibilities. Elias returned safely and commanded his own militia company in 1780. As captain, his pay was thirty-three percent higher than a lieutenant and twice that of an ensign. The pay for each member of the company was recorded in pounds, shillings and pence, while the charge for carting the baggage home was recorded as four dollars. Many Connecticut residents continued to use the English system of the pound long after the Revolutionary War ended. 36

The Community

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About the time of the Revolutionary War, Elias added a lean-to at the rear of the house. The new addition included three rooms: a buttery, a kitchen and a storage room or bedroom. In the 1790 census Elias’ household listed one head of family (Elias), one male (Hubbard), and three females (his second wife, Mary, and daughters, Mabel and Mary).

In 1793 an East Guilford library was established, containing two hundred and fifty books. A second library was built in North Madison in 1824 with nearly one hundred and five books. By 1800, East Guilford’s population was 1,428, including 489 people living in the northern section known as North Bristol. Elias also served as tax collector and justice of the peace. As justice of the peace, Elias handled local legal matters as his father had. He summoned various individuals to his “dwelling place” in the afternoon between three and four “of the clock” to answer various charges including unpaid debts and disturbing the peace. He also recorded deeds and served writs. In September, 1781 he ordered the Sheriff to apprehend Jacob Conkling of Guilford and present him at Elias’ house to answer a complaint that he did “Disturb and Break the Peace of the Good Subjects of this and the United States of North America by kicking the person of Timothy Bradley and Other Tumultuous and Offensive Behavior . . .” Serious stuff! 37

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above, Bring in the Wood, detail from Peter Parley’s Method of Teaching Arithmetic, 1833. Courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village below, Women’s Work, frontispiece from The Complete Country Housewife, London, 1770

The Finances

As his father, grandfather and great grandfather had done, Elias Grave continued to write in the family account book. Having filled all of the pages of the book, Elias started a new book in 1795 and proudly inscribed his name on the first page. Elias both farmed the land and made and mended shoes. All family members were responsible for outdoor chores. Older boys and men worked in the fields while younger boys chopped wood and fetched water. The women and girls worked in the garden, milked cows and gathered eggs. The women also generated income by occasionally supplying some of their home-churned butter to their neighbors. In 1760 they sold four pounds to Noah Scranton. Elias also recorded the costs of having his servants work in the fields for others. In 1783 he charged David Thompson for “my self, Prince and team a day (7 shillings, 6 pence).” Elias often took in boarders. In one case he recorded the debts of a Jemima Wiger, “who came to my house to live” on October 17, 1782. She was charged for an apron, shoes, a pair of buckles, mending shoes, cloth, cash and an orange valued at six pence.

Surprisingly, leasing a horse for one day had the same value as one orange. While apples, peaches and pears were plentiful, citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons were imported from the West Indies and were considered a luxury. In 1799 Elias wrote a second will, leaving his estate to his second wife and their children with no mention 38

of his Negro Boy, whom he probably had freed. At the time of his death, his entire estate was valued at $2,291.50, not including debts. All of

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above, Field of Onions, 1781 Courtesy of Wethersfield Historical Society

his land and buildings were valued at $1822.99, or eighty percent of his estate, with the dwelling house, barn and lot being valued at $800. The rest of his estate included movables such as livestock, household furnishings and clothing.


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What Was in Elias’ Wallet?

State of Connecticut note, 1782. This note is for twenty-five pounds, thirteen shillings to be repaid in Gold and Silver at 6%. Museum of American Financial History.

State of Connecticut Note for 18 shillings, 1782. The note was cancelled with a punched hole. Museum of American Financial History.

Rhode Island notes left, Three Shillings, 1786 above, Verso of Two Shillings, 1780. Museum of American Financial History.


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Four Reales, 1788. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Jack Heflin.

George III Half Crown, 1774. Lent by Raymond Rensis. above, One Shilling, Connecticut note, 1776 below, Reverse of Two Shilling & Six Pence, Connecticut note, 1781. Between 1755 and 1780 Connecticut produced bills of credit or treasury notes. Museum of American Financial History.

1 â „2 Reale, 1781. This is similar to a coin found on the Grave property. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Jack Heflin.

Connecticut Copper Cent, 1787. Produced from 1787 until 1790, the copper was based on the British halfpenny. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Jack Heflin.

below, Flame Stitch Wool Wallet, circa 1785, Lent by Madison Historical Society, Madison, Connecticut . Nine Pence Connecticut Note, 1769, Nine Pence Connecticut Note, 1785. Museum of American Financial History.



Fifth Generation –Hubbard Grave (1782 – 1863)

The Family

Hubbard, the only son of Elias and Mary Grave was the last male to own the house, assuming ownership in 1802. He lived in the home with his two unmarried sisters, Mabel and Mary. In 1817 he married Betsey Pierson. They had four children, but only one, Mary Elizabeth, lived more than a few years. Hubbard lived in the house longer than any other member of the Grave family. Assuming he lived in the house from birth until death, he occupied it for 81 years.

Reproduction of profile of Betsey Pierson, 1791-1881 Courtesy of Madison Historical Society


Continuing the family tradition of military service, Hubbard was commissioned as a sergeant in the Connecticut Militia. He had advanced to the rank of Captain when he was discharged in 1821 at the age of thirty-nine. He continued to farm the land and derived additional income from cutting and hauling firewood, carting wood and selling fish for fertilizer.

Between 1810 and 1820, Hubbard also earned additional income by taking in boarders, including a succession of Irish immigrants. Some of the men stayed as long as thirty-five weeks. Even after marriage and the birth of his children, boarders continued to live in the house. In 1817 Hubbard was charging boarders two dollars a week, the value of a barrel of cider or a day of plowing. Near the end of his life in 1862, he built the third addition, a kitchen, on the northwest corner of the house.

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Butter Churn, circa 1810 Lent by Madison Historical Society Madison, Connecticut

Family from Home by Mrs. Sherwood, New Haven, 1833


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Detail of a Toll Rate Sign, circa 1820. Originally hung on the toll house on the Boston Post Road between Guilford and Madison. Lent by Madison Historical Society Madison, Connecticut Gift of Mr. Squires. (below) Farmer, 1837 from Edward Hazen, Panorama of Professions and Trades: or Every Man’s Book, Philadelphia.

The Community

1826 was a momentous year for the citizens of East Guilford. They officially established and incorporated their town, naming it Madison, in honor of President James Madison. By 1832, to serve the town’s 315 houses, there were five merchant stores, a grocery store, three taverns, a clothier’s, four shoe shops, two tanneries, two saw mills and three grain mills. The Post Road continued to be a major turnpike from Boston to New York. In 1811 a toll road was built between the Post Road and the town of Durham. Its upkeep was paid by taxes and the tolls collected along its route. After 1832, stagecoaches brought travelers and mail daily via the Post Road and a new stage line between Norwich and New Haven that was established in 1837. The first railroad tracks were laid in 1851, so people and goods could travel more swiftly by train.

The Finances

Although Hubbard continued to farm the land, his account book suggests that he also made a living carting goods for others. There are numerous entries for carting wood, corn, lumber, potatoes, fish and seaweed. The fish and seaweed apparently were used for fertilizer.


Hubbard’s sister, Mabel, also earned income by making clothing and patterns for others. Hubbard recorded charges for her work in his account book.

There are numerous entries for “Mabel work on gown,” “making sewing,” and one entry for “Mabel cleaning.” After the Revolution, Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, realized that a national bank was needed to bring order to the growing nation’s currency. In 1789 Congress established The First Bank of the United States, which was chartered through 1811. The Second Bank of the United States operated from 1816 until 1836 when Andrew Jackson determined not to renew its charter. The free banking era, which followed the closing of the Second Bank, was a period when states, private banks and even canal and railroad companies issued currency. The situation was chaotic, with notes of different sizes, designs and values, including some that were counterfeit. A note issued by a bank in New Haven for $100 was not the same value as a $100 note issued by a railroad. The confusion finally ended when Congress passed the National Bank Act in 1863, the year Hubbard Grave died. Bank notes were one way people paid their bills. Each bank issued its own notes, which the bank promised to redeem in gold or silver. Most were marked that the bank “will pay the bearer on demand.” Notes were generally more valuable in the immediate vicinity of the issuing bank.

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First Bank of the United States, 1799. Engraved by William Birch.



What Was in Hubbard’s Wallet?

Eight Reales, 1815 Ferdinand VIII, Peru. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Jack Heflin.

Coronet Type Large Cent, 1855 Issued by the Philadelphia mint, the large copper cent was produced from 1793 until 1857. Museum of American Financial History.

Eight Reales, 1803 Charles III, Mexico. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Jack Heflin.

Bank note, Bridgeport, 1837 Bank notes were one way people paid their bills. Each bank issued its own notes which the bank promised to pay in gold or silver. Most were marked that they “will pay the bearer on demand.” Notes were generally valued higher near the issuing bank. Museum of American Financial History.

Bank note, Fairfield, 1837. Museum of American Financial History.


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Reale, 1817 Ferdinand VII, Chili. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Jack Heflin.

50¢ Piece, 1813. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Jack Heflin.

Indian Head Cent, 1860. Museum of American Financial History.

Bank note, Hartford, 1823. Museum of American Financial History.

Bank note, Stonington, 1831. Museum of American Financial History.

$1.00 Gold Piece, 1856. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Ginny Henry.

$1.00 Gold Piece, 1852. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Ginny Henry.

$5.00 Gold Piece, 1849. Deacon John Grave Foundation, Gift of Ginny Henry.



Sixth and Seventh Generations Mary Grave Redfield

The Family

178 years after John Grave II and his family moved into the Grave house, Mary Grave Redfield became the first female owner. Hubbard, who had lived in the house 81 years, willed it to her on his death in 1863. Mary, the only surviving child of Hubbard and Betsy Grave, was living in the house with her two young daughters, Mary Elizabeth and Augusta Cleveland Redfield. They are listed in the 1860 census. Her husband, Gustavus Redfield, died in 1855. On their mother’s death, Mary’s daughters, Mary Elizabeth and Augusta Redfield, acquired the house becoming the 7th generation to live in the house. Mary survived her sister and gained 48

the dubious distinction of being the last direct descendant of John Grave I to own the house. Mary carried on the Grave Family tradition of public service until her death in 1933. She was particularly interested in education and became a teacher in the local schools – as was her ancestor John Grave II. She taught at the Lee Academy, served on the Madison Board of Education for many years, and held the position of School Visitor. Mary also served as a trustee of the Madison Library, serving on the book committee since the opening of the present library building in 1901. Mary Redfield and the house entered the 20th century together experiencing significant changes. In 1921 the Boston Post Road was paved with cement. Hand Academy was razed and Hand Consolidated School built in its place. The new century brought two movie theaters, the automobile and the Scranton Library; farming gave way to the summer tourist. In 1900 the population of Madison was 1600 souls and the annual budget $25,300. Twenty-five years after Mary’s death in 1933, the Connecticut Turnpike (I-95) opened and Madison would never be the same.

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The 20th Century

Mary left the house to her second cousin Mary Parmelee Low in 1933. In 1940 Mary Low’s daughter, Charlotte Low Lage, inherited the house and moved there with her husband, William P. Lage, and their three children. The Lage family modernized the house, adding an upstairs bathroom and other amenities. Soon after they moved in the family inscribed their names and dates in the cement floor of the cellar to mark their presence. 49

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During the years the Lage family lived in the house there were occurrences that could only be explained by referring to “the ghost.” Fleeting glimpses of a female figure, creaking stairs at night when the family was asleep, a mysteriously rocking chair in the west chamber – what else but the presence of a Grave family member from generations ago? Perhaps it is Anne, the daughter of John I, born in 1692, whose death was never recorded. Does she still roam these ancient rooms, quietly watching, her presence revealed to only a few? Walk softly and listen. Speak quietly and perhaps she will acknowledge you, for she loves her home as we do. When Charlotte Lage died in 1970, the house passed to her husband who left it to the children in 1978, ending the home’s continuous occupation by John I’s descendants. The house was rented from 1978 until 1983. From stories told by various tenants it appears the rental included the ghost. In 1982, the contents of the house were auctioned. Ironically, this was the same year that the house was included in the Madison Green District of the National Register of Historic Places. In 1983, the Deacon John Grave Foundation purchased the house to preserve it for future generations. The little brown house beside the Boston Post Road has witnessed Madison’s transformation from a rural, agricultural community to a thriving suburban community of 18,000. With the efforts of the Deacon John Grave Foundation and its supporters, it will witness many more changes.

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The Deacon John Grave Foundation Making Ends Meet – 1983 - 2006

The House

In the beginning it all seemed so simple. The rallying cry in 1983 was “Save the Grave House.” The little brown house on the Boston Post Road that had been loved and admired for over three hundred years was put up for sale. For almost a year no one made a serious offer. There were rumors a buyer planned to convert it to a restaurant. As concern mounted, a small group of citizens banded together to found the Deacon John Grave Foundation. The house, barn and 2.2 acres of land were purchased for $215,000 with a $59,000 down payment and a $156,000 mortgage. Over the next five years a total of $391,000 was raised through private donations, Connecticut State grants, matching grant programs and fund raising events. During that time, $364,000 was spent for the purchase, maintenance and careful restoration 51

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of the property. Thanks to the generous help of volunteers, operating expenses for the same period averaged less than $1,000 per month. In 1989, the foundation began an extensive restoration of the structural framework, including rewiring, improving the heating system and re-enforcement of the entire second floor. This work was financed through a second mortgage providing a credit line with a local bank. In 1989 the foundation launched a capital campaign to raise $400,000 to complete the restoration of the house and start the funding of an endowment program for ongoing operations.

During that time, $364,000 was spent for the purchase, maintenance, and careful restoration of the property.


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The Finances

The Economics of Preserving an Historic House Prior to the death of the last full-time resident of the house, William P. Lage, the finances of the house had related to the care and feeding of the occupants and the maintenance of the house and grounds. The Foundation’s purchase of the house and grounds brought radical changes in the character of the financial activities required of the owner of the house. The owner no longer lived in the house; the house itself became the focus of financial endeavor. Income still had to match expenses for the house to endure. No longer did members of the household barter their services for the necessities of life.

John Stoddard at the closing on the house. John was a leader in the effort to save the house and later served as second president of the foundation.

below, Volunteers raking leaves


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John Stoddard inspecting the restoration work. Note the diagonal braces supporting the house as the sills are replaced.

Archeological dig

Artifacts found during restoration below, The beginning of exterior restoration


The barter economy was largely supplanted by a money-based economy, although today, volunteers who contribute their time play a significant role in the care of the house. Money to pay the carpenters, utility bills, mortgage and to meet the day-to-day operating expenses of owning and maintaining a 17th century house became the sole focus of “Making Ends Meet” for the Deacon John Grave Foundation. Although the Deacon John Grave Foundation was started by a small group of dedicated people, it enjoys the active support of many other individuals and organizations. Board members, friends and neighbors and school children have worked side by side with restoration specialists, collectively donating thousands of hours, saving the Foundation untold dollars. They have mowed the lawn, raked the leaves, sewn, dug and painted and conducted tours. While raising money is not always fun, members of the Grave Foundation have managed to raise a great deal of money, enjoying themselves in the process! Fundraising events have been numerous and inventive – auctions, concerts, fashion shows, hearth cooked dinners and children’s programs. As the Grave family depended on their interactions with the community for their continued well-being, the Foundation also draws on the resources of the community for its existence. Members, friends, local banks and service organizations have given invaluable aid to the efforts of the foundation.

The Future

The Deacon John Grave Foundation is committed to preserving the past for the benefit of the future. The responsibility of owning and preserving an historic house is both awesome and stimulating. Each contribution of time, energy and money furthers the Foundation’s mission of carrying on the Grave family tradition of community involvement. Visitors to the house experience the unique sense of history that pervades the home where so many generations of the Grave family laughed and cried, were born and died. Their spirit is present in each room. Their footsteps still echo on the stairs if you listen. We touch the timeworn beams and sense the family’s presence – and maybe that of Anne Grave, who some sense is still taking care of this house. Visitors can experience this unique sense of history today, thanks to the vision of a small, dedicated group of Madison citizens. After years of raising funds, pursuing grants, renovating and restoring, the Deacon John Grave House is once more alive to tell its story. It is a never-ending story the Foundation hopes you and succeeding generations will enjoy. Without your support, your enthusiasm and your participation, the story may fade. That would be a shame, for this house and its story have survived for over 300 years. Another 300 would be nice!

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The first fund-raising auction

Carding wool (above) and partaking in meals prepared over a blazing fire (below) help visitors understand the rigors of daily chores in colonial life.


Please join us by pledging your Support of our efforts to Continue the traditions of the

Deacon John Grave House

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Making Ends Meet  

Fund raising book version of 2005 exhibition for a historic house museum in Madison, Connecticut.