Friday, July 15, 2011

On the Trail of East Haddam’s First Settlers

The two places I made appointments with to start my search for information on the families that settled East Haddam, such as Gates, Ackley, Hungerford, Chapman and Spencer, were the Haddam and East Haddam historical societies.

Charlie Farrow, President of the East Haddam Historical Society ( is a fount of information. The Society does not have genealogical files but they are in the process of cataloguing their collections, which will be very valuable to researchers.

I went prepared with a list of specific items I was seeking information about and Charlie could not have been more accommodating. He set me up with a table and chair and a couple of books that had pertinent information.

As we went down my list, Charlie had a name, a phone number, or a suggestion where I might find further resources. My time there, well spent, provided me a “to do” list of researching other resources that Charlie had recommended.

I moved on second to the Haddam Historical Society ( and once again met with gracious assistance. The Executive Director Elizabeth Hart Malloy was very interested to hear about my project. At first, she questioned what information there would be for me at Haddam since my book was about East Haddam women. Once I explained that I was starting with the families that originally were in Haddam and crossed the river to found Macamoodus (which became East Haddam), she enthusiastically  pulled files for me and I added to my data files.

One of the people I was researching was Nicholas Ackley, who it says on the Haddam Historical Society’s website was married to Miriam (Moore) when he came to Haddam. He could not have been married to her if at that time she was married to John Willey as records show. This puzzle has been keeping me awake at night. I am so determined to straighten out this mystery. My first thought when I start researching is Nicholas Ackley. You might wonder why I am so concerned with a man, since I am writing a book about women. In the seventeen century, there is so little information about women that you have to first research the men and see to whom they were married. Even this does not always work because women’s names often were not recorded. After all, they were not important, were they. Oh dear, I let a little of my bias against how women have been treated through the centuries shine through.

Historical societies and individuals such as Charlie and Elizabeth are valuable resources to the community and to historians, and I thank them for their efforts on my behalf.

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