Colonial Courtships takes place in the charming historical town of Glastonbury, Connecticut, along the Connecticut River. During the mid-18th century, the town was called Glassenbury, taken from the English town of same, meaning a glistening city.
Until I had the opportunity to travel from my home state of Maine to Connecticut, the Historical Society of Glastonbury was very helpful in answering my questions. When writing a historical fiction, it goes without saying that one mustn’t assume that things where then as they are today. Some of the street names have changed, most significantly Main Street, which was at the time of my story called Country Road.
The hero in my story works in a shipyard at a figurehead carver’s shop. But where were the shipbuilding sites located in 1753? I learned that there were three; today they no longer exist. The one on Tyron Lane was in close enough proximity to the family home, The Red Griffin Inn, which I had already determined would be on Country Road. This worked out well, because since the family home operated as a hostelry, it needed to be situated near enough to the ferry to be within walking distance for travelers, certainly convenient for the stage to deliver patrons.
As a side note, this ferry is the longest running ferry in the United States, still operating today. From the Historical Society website and other sources, I was able to discover many valuable facts about the town and its people. Several names of prominent families are mentioned in my novella, and some became supporting characters including Rev. Ashbel Woodridge, Dr. Elizur Hale, Col. Thomas Welles.
Glastonbury, Connecticut, boasts more 18th century homes than any town in the U.S., save one. They have done a remarkable job preserving its history and three of their buildings are museums. My heart raced as we traveled along the roads of this quaint town, viewing home after colonial home. Several of the town’s buildings are referred to in “Carving a Future” including the original church, built in 1693, the location for one of the scenes between my main characters, Constance and Nathaniel.For The Red Griffin Inn I chose the Welles-Shipman-Ward house, built in 1753 by a ship captain and merchant trader and considered a mansion in its day. Since I “stole” this house for the Ingersoll family, I decided to make a mention of the grand home being built by Col. Thomas Welles for his bride. While the photograph shows the front of this clapboard house to be white, the Red Griffin is entirely red with a gambrel roof, which was common in Georgian architecture. There is also a lean-to kitchen off the back of the house, shaping it like a saltbox.
As typical in 18th century homes, the center chimney determined the room arrangement, usually one or two rooms deep with a front stairway and the rear kitchen, as mentioned. In the Red Griffin there is a main hall (a room for family activities and dining), and a parlor. The parlor also doubles as a guest room at the inn, and in it there is a bedstead, though folded up for space. Unusual? No. In colonial times, in addition to making the most of limited space, the best bed was often on display to show off the beautiful coverings on the mattress and tester (canopy), indicating the owner’s wealth.
Thank you for taking a stroll through colonial Glassenbury with me. I hope you will enjoy meeting the Ingersoll family in their hometown as you read Colonial Courtships.
Every comment on a Colonial Courtships post is an entry for a giveaway for a copy of Colonial Courtships from Barbour Publishing. (USA only)