History of Redding Connecticut (CT) Header
Audio Files & Oral History
Books about Redding
Branchville, CT History
Churches in Redding
Churches in Georgetown
Daily History Archives
Donate to the H of R
Early Families of Redding
Early Settlement History
Early Manufacturers
Famous People of Redding
First Telephones in Redding
Flood of 1955
Georgetown, CT History
Georgetown Redevelopment
Gilbert & Bennett History
Hiking Trails in Redding
History of Schools
Huntington Park
Indian Paths thru Redding
Landscape- Farms, Waterways, Geology
Mark Twain in Redding, CT
Little Brick Schoolhouse
Maps of Redding, CT
My brother Sam is dead
News 1966-1992
Old Homes of Redding
Parish History (1729-67)
Pictures of Redding, CT
Putnam Park
RBGC History
Redding Center History
Redding Country Club
Redding Remembered
Redding Ridge History
Summary of Land Use
Wars- Revolutionary, Civil
West Redding History
Sponsors Page
Redding Businesses
Redding Builders
Redding New Construction
Redding Real Estate
Redding Restaurants
Redding Organizations
Redding Town Site
Redding Pilot
Redding Elementary
John Read Middle School
Joel Barlow High School
Region 9 Schools
RBGC Web site
Redding Fire & EMS #1
Mark Twain Library
League of Women Voters
Redding Neighbors & Newcomers
About the Designer
Contact Us


The Bartlett Family of Redding, Connecticut (CT)  

We all have Gary Bartlett of Michigan to thank for the information.

"The Revolutionary War"

Daniel Jr. and Ann (Collins) Bartlett of North Guilford, Connecticut had a son, Nathaniel Bartlett (Lineage #4), who attended Yale at the time when it was under the heavy handed administration of the Rev. Thomas Clap, who served as its Rector / President 1740-1766. During the 1740s, Rector Clap was assisted by three tutors. A tutor was assigned to each incoming freshman class and remained as its only teacher for their sophomore and junior years as well. The rector taught the senior class. Each student followed the same curriculum, and was closely supervised. Nathaniel's time at Yale must have been somewhat less than pleasant, as Rector Clap was thoroughly disliked by his students for his despotic ways. There were few quiet moments in Rector Clap's stormy 26 year career at Yale, but he did succeed in improving both the curriculum and the administration of the college, even while stirring up controversy.

Nathaniel Bartlett studied theology and successfully endured the regimented curriculum, graduating with a M.A. Degree in 1749. He became a Congregational minister, and soon after he was licensed to preach the Hartford South Association recommended him to the Congregational Church of Farmington, Connecticut as a pastoral candidate. This apparently did not work out, however, and beginning in January 1753, he was taken under consideration by the Congregational Church of Redding, Connecticut for a position there. (What the Rev. Nathaniel did during the period 1749- 1753 is unknown, but most likely he was a circuit preacher for small congregations without pastors, filled in temporarily for pastors who were ill, or perhaps he taught school, a common practice for recent college graduates). In April of 1753, the Redding church called him to be their permanent pastor. He was subsequently ordained on 23 May 1753. Per the Redding Church Records of that date, the pastors who assisted in his ordination were as follows: "The Rev. Mr. Eben White of Danbury gave the opening prayer- the Rev. Mr. Jonathan Todd of East Guilford preached the sermon- the Rev. Mr. Elisha Kent (unchurched at that time) gave the ordaining prayer- the Rev. Mr. Jedediah Mills of Ripston gave the charge- the Rev. Mr. David Judson of Newtown gave the right hand of fellowship- the Rev. Mr. Jonathan Ingersoll of Ridgefield gave the closing prayer". The Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett served at Redding for the next 57 years- i.e. until his death in 1810- thought to be the longest continuous pastorate in the history of the early New England churches up to that time. (The record was eventually lost, however, to the Rev. Samuel Nott, who served at Franklin, Connecticut 1782-1852, an unbelievable 70 years). The Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett succeeded the first minister at Redding, the Rev. Nathaniel Hunn- and was in turn succeeded by the Rev. Daniel Crocker. (The Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett's youngest son, the Rev. Jonathan Bartlett served as co-pastor with his father for a few years, but resigned due to ill health prior to his father's death. The Rev. Daniel Crocker likewise served as co-pastor for a few months, following the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett's 22 March 1809 petition to the church board, that he be released from active service due to old age and infirmity).

During the Revolutionary War, the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett was consistently a firebrand for the Colonial cause, as were many Congregational ministers who thundered anti-British tirades from their pulpits week after week during the conflict. So outspoken was the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett in his views, that the local Tories who were numerous in western Connecticut threatened to hang him if they could catch him. Due to these frequent and very real threats to his life, the Rev. Nathaniel was obligated to make his parochial rounds with a loaded musket in hand, as well as his Bible. He permitted gunpowder to be stored in a bin he constructed in the attic of his house, (discovered years later by his son the Rev. Jonathan Bartlett), which was quite dangerous- both politically and otherwise.

The atmosphere in Redding must have been very volatile throughout the war, as the local Episcopalians with their rector the Rev. John Beach were generally loyalists while the Congregationalists with their pastor the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett were generally rebels. Those of the Tory persuasion were sufficient in numbers to form themselves into the "Redding Loyalist Association", to which the Rev. John Beach lent his continuing support from the pulpit. The "Redding Loyalist Association" published a list of resolutions in support of the British Government, a document which was signed by 141 male residents (some of whom were minors), of whom 73 were from Redding with the rest being from outlying areas. With the village of Redding being split along political and religious denominational lines, there must have been considerable animosity between neighbors in so small a community, and no doubt many families experienced divided loyalities as well. The Bartlett family, however, was firmly united in support of the American cause.

In addition to verbal assaults on the enemy, the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett supported the war effort by officiating as Military Chaplain to Putnam's Division during their encampment in Redding the winter of 1778/79. His two oldest sons served in the Continental Army: Russell Bartlett (Lineage #5) who enlisted in Danbury in Capt. Noble Benedict's Company, and Daniel Collins Bartlett who enlisted in Redding in Capt. Zalmon Read's Company. One anecdote told about the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett, was that on a Sunday morning at the outbreak of the Revolution, he brought his own sword, newly ground, and presented it to his second son Daniel Collins Bartlett, instructing him to go and defend his country. (The eldest son Russell Bartlett had presumably already left home to serve an indentured apprenticeship, and was living in nearby Danbury, Connecticut at the time, as he enlisted in Danbury not Redding, and also got married there a year later).

The Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett was a teacher as well as a minister, which was a common practice in that era, preparing many young men for higher education. His most noted pupil was the poet Joel Barlow, one of the "Hartford Wits". While attending the village school which the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett taught in Redding, Joel Barlow composed poetry in his free time. Recognizing his talent, the Rev. Nathaniel showed the boy's poems to Joel's father, recommending that a youth with such promise should be prepared for college. Joel's father agreed, and Joel was tutored by the Rev. Nathaniel 1772-1773. Joel Barlow went on to write numerous poems, which were famous in their day. Joel went to France during the French Revolution, and died during Napoleon's disastrous retreat from Russia while serving with the French Army as a special envoy from President James Madison. The Rev. Nathaniel was said to be a fine scholar and an eloquent preacher, who tended to the spiritual and temporal needs of his flock until very near the end of his long productive life. Upon his death, an inventory of his estate revealed assets of around $5,000.00 in value, including a small library of some 24 volumes and 85 pamphlets.

The year 1753 was an important one for the Bartlett family. In addition to becoming pastor at Redding, the Rev. Nathaniel married Eunice (Russell), eldest daughter of Jonathan and Eunice (Barker) Russell of Branford, Connecticut. Eunice (Barker) Russell was the granddaughter of Edward Barker Sr., one of the founders of Branford. Eunice (Russell) Bartlett's uncle, the previously mentioned Rev. Samuel Russell Jr., was pastor at the Congregational Church of North Guilford during the time the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett was growing up there. Her first cousin, Thomas Russell, was born the same year as the Rev. Nathaniel and also graduated from Yale in the class of 1749. It can be presumed therefore, that Eunice (Russell) and the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett became acquainted via the intermediary of these close relatives of hers in North Guilford.

On her father's side, Eunice (Russell) Bartlett's lineage was somewhat noteworthy. Her grandfather was the Rev. Samuel Russell Sr. (Harvard 1681), in whose house in Branford, according to tradition, a group of ministers met in 1701 to donate books for the founding of what was to become Yale University. His father, the Rev. John Russell Jr. (Harvard 1645), was a well known Connecticut Valley minister who founded Hadley, Massachusetts. His main claim to fame, however, was that he hid Major Generals (under Cromwell) William Goffe and Edward Whalley, fugitive members of the English High Court of Justice which condemned and executed England's King Charles I, giving them permanent, clandestine asylum in his house in Hadley when they fled to North America after the restoration of the monarchy. Tradition also has it that these fugitive regicides were also hidden on the property of Governor Leete in Guilford for a few days prior to their arrival in Hadley, and regardless of the truth of this legend, Governor Leete was less than cooperative with Crown authorities sent to Connecticut to investigate the whereabouts of the regicides. Another player in the regicide scenario was the compiler's ancestor John Meigs, who rode his horse from Guilford to New Haven to warn the regicides that the Royal Commissioners were on their way to apprehend them, and that it was time for them to escape. These actions by three of the compiler's ancestors constituted acts of treason against the British Crown a century before our Revolution, and this was the legacy passed down to the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett and his sons.

Also in the busy year 1753, the Rev. Nathaniel and Eunice began construction on a New England salt-box style house in Redding, on 20 acres of land donated by the church, being a common practice of the era. Per the Redding Church Records, the property was deeded over to the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett on 08 June 1753, by Deacon Lemuel Sanford. The Bartlett / Sanford house is still in use today, and is in good condition. In its external appearance, it remains virtually unchanged from how it must originally have looked, except for a wing added on to the east in 1847, and a patio out back. It is located on 10 Cross Highway, just off Route # 107 in Redding Center, directly across from the "Heritage House" senior center- near the site of the original Congregational Church, which burned down on 04 May 1942.

Sometime during the Revolutionary War period or just afterward (judging from their age and style of apparel) the Rev. Nathaniel and Eunice had their portraits painted. The portrait of the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett was reproduced in the work The Revolutionary Soldiers of Redding, Connecticut, by William E. Grumman, which can be found at the Toledo Public Library. In a letter to the compiler, a Sanford descendant indicated that the portraits always hung in the living room of the Bartlett / Sanford House until it was sold out of the family. She also provided photocopies of reproductions of the two paintings made by her aunt. Eunice Bartlett must have loved flowers, as she posed with a rose in her hand. Unfortunately, the writer has been unable to determine the present whereabouts of the original paintings, which likely still exist.

After the deaths of the Rev. Nathaniel and Eunice in 1810, the house was inherited by their youngest son, the Rev. Jonathan Bartlett, the only son who remained in Connecticut. He in turn passed the house down to his nephew by marriage and second cousin on the maternal side, Lemuel Sanford IV. (The Rev. Jonathan Bartlett's first and third wives, Rhoda and Abigail Sanford respectively, were also his first cousins, daughters of Mary (Russell) Sanford, his mother's sister). The Bartlett / Sanford House remained in the Sanford family until being sold to its present owners on 21 May 1969.

Next in the compiler's direct surname line, was the aforementioned Russell Bartlett, the firstborn child of the Rev. Nathaniel and Eunice (Russell) Bartlett, who bore both family names, being a common practice in that era. When the news of the Battle of Lexington reached Danbury, Capt. Noble Benedict began to raise a company of soldiers. Among its 98 volunteers was Russell Bartlett, who enlisted as a fifer in what became the 6th Company of the 5th Regiment of the Connecticut Line, which was assigned to the Northern Army, and was stationed at Lake Champlain along with the 16th Regiment. Russell's initial enlistment was short term which was typical for the Continental Army, as he enlisted on 09 May 1775 and was honorably discharged on 11 December of the same year when the company was disbanded. Russell returned home to civilian life and apparently moved to Redding to live, as he and his new wife renewed their vows in the Redding Congregational Church on 30 March 1777, having married in Danbury the previous year. Also on 30 March, they baptized their first child. This domestic tranquility was cut short, however, when the British raided Danbury a month later. Russell got caught up in the war again during the raid on Danbury, when he joined the local defenders and had the misfortune of being captured by Tryon's Dragoons.

Early in the war, Danbury served as a supply depot for provisions stored for the Continental Army, and as such became a legitimate military target for the British. On 22 April 1777, regular British troops numbering around 1550 embarked from New York City on flat boats for the raid on Danbury. They were joined in transit in Long Island Sound by some 300 Loyalist militiamen from "Browne's Provincial Corps", many of whom were originally from Connecticut. This force of around 1850 men was commanded by General William Tryon, and their military objective was the seizure and / or destruction of military stores held at Danbury.

The British/Loyalist force disembarked on Saturday, 26 April at the mouth of the Saugatuck River, near what is today Westport, Connecticut. Their line of march took them through Redding, where a local militia company had been hastily mustered by Capt. Zalmon Read. Presumably, every local man with any previous military training was called upon to participate in the defense. While engaged in reconnaissance near what is now the town of Weston, these Redding militiamen blundered into the main British force, and several were captured. As this was the same date upon which Russell Bartlett was known to have been taken prisoner, it is likely that he was captured during the encounter near Redding. The British force proceeded onward from there to the almost deserted Danbury, where prisoners taken thus far were temporarily confined in a church- including Russell, who watched from its windows while British troops torched the house of his father-in-law, Capt. Daniel Taylor Jr., which was situated across the street. Local legends told years afterward allege that British soldiers drunk on confiscated rum gutted Danbury, but realistic estimates in contemporary reports place the loss at around 20 dwelling houses along with numerous barns and out buildings found to be containing military stores, being as such legitimate military targets. After the war, Capt. Taylor filed a damage claim with the Connecticut State Legislature in the amount of $4,932.00 covering the loss of his house and belongings, and received compensation which took the form of land in Connecticut's "Western Reserve". Capt. Taylor's house was located on the south side of South Street, directly facing Main Street which dead-ended there in that era. Following the raid, he rebuilt on the same site. The second house is no longer standing either, and today, the street has been extended through the site where the house once stood. Most likely, the church in which Russell was detained was the Episcopal Church, no longer standing either, which was situated on the other side of South Street from which the Taylor house could easily have been seen. The church was still under construction at the time of the raid, and was filled to the ceiling with military stores. Although the custom was for British troops to burn the building as well as its contents, they made an exception in the case of the church. They instead removed the stores from the church building and burned them outside, being reluctant to put the torch to the "Church of England", (in contrast to Puritan/ Congregational Churches which the British desecrated throughout the war).

From Danbury, the British force with its prisoners in tow fought their way back to their flat boats via a different route, fighting several sharp skirmishes with American militiamen along the way. Having run the gauntlet back to the Sound, the British weighed anchor on 29 April. Prisoners taken during the raid were transported back to New York City aboard the armed sloop HMS Swan, under the command of British Capt. James Ayscough R.N. which disembarked on 01 May. The prisoners including Russell Bartlett were identified by name and village in a letter dated the next day, 02 May, which was written by James Rogers a prisoner from Redding, was addressed to Squire Sanford in Redding, and was carried back to Connecticut from New York City by Colonel Hart. The letter written on behalf of 43 prisoners who were mostly from Redding, Danbury, and Fairfield, made an appeal to their friends back in Connecticut to send them as much hard cash as could be collected.

Upon his arrival in New York City Russell Bartlett was confined to the infamous "Sugar House", a Revolutionary War version of a POW compound. There were actually three "Sugar Houses"- i.e. sugar warehouses which the British converted into makeshift prisons. Russell was confined in Van Cortland's on the northwest corner of the Trinity Church lot. The other two were Rhinelander's on William & Duane Streets, and another on Liberty Street which was the largest and was used the longest. The most vivid accounts of confinement come from the journals of prisoners confined in the Liberty Street Sugar House, a five story stone building which was stifling in summer and frigid in winter. Food rations were minimal and of poor quality. Sanitation was deplorable and disease was rampant. Many prisoners died of mistreatment and / or neglect. Of the 14 prisoners from Redding who were mentioned in the letter, only half survived confinement to return home- including Russell Bartlett (fortunately for the compiler). It is not known exactly how long the Redding prisoners were imprisoned or the exact conditions for their release, but it is thought they were home before the close of the Saratoga campaign in October 1777. Possibly they were ransomed as the letter suggests, or perhaps they were exchanged for numerous British soldiers captured by the Americans during the Danbury raid as Van Cortland's Sugar House was closed down after 1777 when the number of prisoners began to dwindle due to several POW exchanges.

In Russell's case, he had to have arrived home prior to 01 February 1778 when he and his wife were admitted into membership in the Redding Congregational Church.

News of Russell's capture during the Danbury raid must have been carried back to his family virtually immediately by his brother Daniel Collins Bartlett, who was also among the local defenders at Redding. (In 1803, Daniel C. & Esther (Read) Bartlett moved to Amenia, New York, just over the Connecticut border, where they purchased a farm from Joel Gillett. Their son William left descendants, some of whom still live in the Amenia area).

Upon his return to Redding, Russell continued to contribute to the war effort and to serve the local community. On 22 June 1778, he was elected Constable of Redding. On 09 August 1779, he was appointed one of a committee to procure clothing for the Continental Army, and on 28 November 1780, he was appointed to receive beef and pork collected for the army. Connecticut received one of its nicknames, "The Provisions State", as the result of its sizeable contributions of military provisions during the war.

In the year 1776, a new nation was born, and a new Bartlett family came into existence when Russell Bartlett married Rachel (Taylor), daughter of the aforementioned Capt. Daniel Jr. and Elizabeth (Boughton) Taylor who lost their house in the Danbury raid. Capt. Taylor also served his country in the war as a member of the General Assembly of Connecticut during the period 1776-1780. He also served in the Connecticut State Legislature after the war, during the period 1785-1787. Capt. Daniel Taylor Jr.'s military rank came not from service during the Revolutionary War, but from his service in the Danbury Train Band (local militia) years earlier. He was commissioned an Ensign in May 1752, and was recommissioned a Captain in May 1754.

Capt. Daniel Taylor Jr. was a grandson of Thomas Taylor, one of the first settlers of Danbury, and was the great grandson of John Taylor, one of the founders of Windsor, Connecticut.

"The Trek Westward"

The close of the Revolutionary War marked the beginning of the era of westward expansion, which would last another hundred years. Large numbers of war veterans began leaving their home communities along the eastern seaboard, to seek land and opportunity in the west.

In the case of Russell and Rachel Bartlett, they stayed in Redding until early in 1781, when they moved to the tiny village of Sharon, Litchfield County, Connecticut, in the extreme northwest corner of the state within walking distance of the New York border. Their church membership was transferred from Redding to the Sharon Congregational Church by letter, which was written into Sharon Church records on 06 May of that year. It is not known where the Bartletts lived when they first arrived in Sharon, but on 26 April 1783 they purchased five acres of land from Abel Patchen with frontage on Main (formerly Town) Street, on the west side of the street north of the "meeting house" (i.e.- the old Congregational Church- no longer standing), on which land records indicate Russell built several buildings, including possibly a hattery as Russell was a hatter by trade. Danbury, where Russell apparently lived at the outbreak of the war, was the center of the hat industry in colonial New England, and it can be presumed that Russell served an indentured apprenticeship to a hatter there prior to the war- possibly to his father-in-law, as Capt. Daniel Taylor Jr. was likewise a hatter.

Another possible candidate from whom Russell may have learned the hatter's trade was Zadock Benedict, a brother of Capt. Noble Benedict under whom Russell served in the army. There was a family connection between Russell and Zadock, as the latter was married to Jerusha (Russell) Benedict, a first cousin of Russell's mother, Eunice (Russell) Bartlett. Although there were hatters working in Danbury before the war, Zadock Benedict is given credit for being the first to start up a "hatting factory" whose production was marketed outside the immediate Danbury area. Zadock did not set up his factory operation until 1780 , but he was presumably engaged in hatting on a part time basis in earlier years and he is known to have employed apprentices, so he was perhaps Russell Bartlett's mentor.

It will probably never be definitely established from whom Russell learned the hatting business, as many of Danbury's early records were destroyed during Tryon's raid. In general terms, it is known that training for almost every trade in colonial New England was gained through an apprenticeship of seven years to a master tradesman, and most apprentices began not later than their fourteenth year in order to finish by age twenty one. Such most certainly was the case with Russell also as the Hat & Felt Act, passed by Parliament in 1732 to limit hat-making in the colonies thereby protecting English hatters, required that colonial craftsmen to serve a seven year apprenticeship, that master hatters limit their employees to two apprentices, and that the sale of hats be confined to the colony in which they were made.

Virtually nothing is known about Russell and Rachel Bartlett's life in Sharon, but several of their children were born there before they finally sold their land to John Hobart on 09 March 1792.

Sometime in the early 1790's, Russell apparently heard about the founding of Cooperstown, at that time a rough frontier settlement at the south end of Lake Otsego in what became Otsego County, New York. (Russell already had some familiarity with upstate New York, as the result of his military service). Well known today as the site of the "Baseball Hall of Fame", Cooperstown was founded in 1786 by Judge William Cooper, a land speculator with political aspirations and the father of James Fenimore Cooper the first American novelist. Judge Cooper moved his family from New Jersey to Cooperstown in 1790, by which time he was well on his way to gaining a reputation as the leading expert on frontier land development . Correctly perceiving the relationship between land ownership and commitment to the local community he sold land outright to small farmers, in contrast to other wealthy landowners of the day who just leased their land to prospective farmers who were then responsible for paying rent in perpetuity. Judge Cooper also advertised in newspapers for skilled tradesmen to help settle his land patent, offering to sell them as much or as little land as they wanted on extended credit. As the largest landowner in the area, Judge Cooper reasoned that skilled tradesmen meant essential goods and services, essential goods and services meant more settlers, and more settlers meant a thriving community and elevated land values, allowing him to increase the return on his investment. The wisdom of his approach to settlement was borne out by the fact that this settlement on the upper Susquehanna succeeded, whereas other previous attempts had failed. The Bartletts, being among the earliest settlers, presumably arrived in the village in late spring-early summer 1792, figuring a couple of weeks or so to make arrangements for their trip from Sharon to Cooperstown, and perhaps a couple more weeks for the trip itself. Sometime before the end of the year, Russell purchased a lot in the village, upon which he built a hattery. Unfortunately, this land sale was not recorded, so the exact time of their arrival in Cooperstown cannot be firmly established.

Nevertheless, from subsequent land transactions it is established that Russell's hatter's shop was located on the west side of River (formerly Water) Street, between Main (formerly Second) and Lake (formerly Front) Streets. The hattery lot was located directly behind, (i.e.- to the north of- in the direction of Lake Otsego), the Benjamin Griffin House, the oldest house still standing on Main Street today , on a site now occupied by a small art studio. The studio was once the carriage house for the Griffin house but since the carriage house was known to have been standing in the 1790's, it can be presumed that the Bartlett hattery was directly to the north, probably where an alley runs today.

Then on 01 February 1793, Russell purchased a second lot from Judge William Cooper and his business partner Andrew Craig. The second lot was adjacent to the hattery lot, to the south. The land sale in this second instance was indeed recorded, although not until 1795, and the deed references the first lot, already in possession of "Russell Bartlett, hatter". The two lots are clearly shown on the "Cooper Family Land Map", which was on exhibit at the Smithy's during the Cooperstown Bicentennial in 1986. Russell's two lots on Water Street were long and narrow, with little frontage on the street. Lots in Cooperstown were plotted out in this manner by design, as William Cooper reasoned that small lots would inhibit village tradesmen from engaging in part time farming. Judge Cooper wanted tradesmen, who he considered essential to the local economy, to be totally committed to their trades, reasoning that tradesmen/farmers would not do justice to either endeavor . Russell and Rachel also owned a nearby corner lot which they purchased from Benjamin Griffin in 1795, situated kitty-corners across from the Griffin house.

Russell and Rachel sold the second lot to Isaac Cooper, James Fenimore's brother, in 1812, with their son to Hiram Bartlett (Lineage #6) signing as a witness. The hattery lot was finally sold by Hiram's brother, Russell Bartlett Jr., at that time a resident of Leeds County, Upper Canada (i.e. now Ontario), just prior to their mother's death in 1835.

There was no church in Cooperstown for the first decade of its existence, due in part to the fact that William Cooper, a lapsed Quaker, had little use for religion, especially the type practiced by the Calvinist denominations like Baptists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists favored by the more devout of his Yankee settlers, and due also to the fact that the early Cooperstown residents came from diverse religious backgrounds with no one denomination having enough support to justify the founding of a church. Hence, in absence of organized religion to promote public morality and maintain social order, those functions fell to the Freemasons, at that time the only organization in Cooperstown capable of assuming a leadership role in the local community .

Freemasonry spread like wildfire during the period just following the American Revolution, perhaps as a natural extension of the camaraderie that military veterans had experienced in the army. The "Otsego (Freemasonic) Lodge" was founded in Cooperstown in 1795 by six men: Rowland Cotton, Richard Edwards, James Fitch, Benjamin Gilbert, Elihu Phinney- the first Master, and Russell Bartlett- the first Secretary. It is believed that all six had been inducted into lodges elsewhere prior to their arrival in Cooperstown. In Russell's case, he may perhaps have joined the Freemasonic Order in Sharon, as there was a lodge there in that era, but unfortunately the original lodge building burned down years ago, and the early records went up in smoke. Otsego Lodge, the timber frame Freemasonic Hall which constructed in 1797, still stands on its original site at the corner of Lake & Pioneer Streets (donated by Judge Cooper), and all of the original lodge minutes taken during Russell's tenure as Secretary still exist in his own hand, going back to the very first meeting. Russell also served for a time as Cooperstown Town Clerk, in the late 1790s.

It is difficult to imagine what it must have been like living in Cooperstown at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but a census of the village taken in 1803 provides valuable statistical information offering us some insight in that respect. At that time, there were 24 heads of households in Cooperstown including Russell, the only Bartlett. The village population totalled 163, which included six slaves. There were 35 houses and 13 barns. Russell had a household of five at the time of the census. He had two houses, one of which was presumably the hattery, and no slaves or barns. The Bartlett property was close to Lake Otsego, and it must have been cold in the winter, and damp and muggy in the summer. At the very center of the Cooperstown of that era stood Otsego Hall, William Cooper's two story brick mansion constructed 1796-1799 which replaced his Manor House, a wooden structure which he had built earlier on that site, from which he exercised a paternalistic influence over the lives of the settlers in his village.

As an interesting side note, it should be mentioned that the Bartlett and Cooper families became connected by marriage in 1812, when Russell and Rachel's youngest daughter Elizabeth married Judge William Cooper's son Samuel. In a letter dated 26 April 1812, James Fenimore Cooper mentioned his new sister-in-law, saying: "Samuel was married at Pomeroy's and is at present with his wife at the Castle- I am pleased with what little I have seen of her". Samuel & Elizabeth (Bartlett) Cooper had three sons, Isaac, William, and Samuel, from whom there were descendants. Their eldest son Isaac Cooper for instance, eventually moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where numerous of his descendents presumably still live. Unfortunately, Samuel Cooper died young, and Elizabeth eventually remarried, her second husband being Miles Benjamin.

On 06 April 1812, Russell and Rachel Bartlett began preparations for what would be their final move, when they purchased a farm in Hartwick Township, Otsego County directly south of Cooperstown from Samuel Cooper, who became their son-in-law three days later. Their farm in Hinman Hollow, where both Russell and Rachel died, was referred to in later years as the "Short Farm", and their farm house was torn down early in the 20th century.

Next in the compiler's direct surname line was the aforementioned Hiram Bartlett, Russell and Rachel's youngest son, who was born in Connecticut, made the trip to New York as a toddler, learned the "hatter's trade" in his father's shop as a youth and eventually continued the family's trek westward. In 1819, Hiram married Mary Ann (Fisher), daughter of Dexter and Hannah (Walker) Fisher, also of Hartwick. The Fishers were originally from Windham County, Connecticut, within walking distance from the Rhode Island border, and they presumably moved to Hartwick around 1808, as Hannah was admitted into membership in the Hartwick Baptist Church (where Hiram and Mary Ann were married) via letter in that year. Dexter Fisher, like Russell Bartlett, bore both family names as his parents were Barzillai and Lydia (Dexter) Fisher. Barzillai Fisher and four of Dexter's brothers served in the Continental Army- (although in Barzillai's case, he only marched to Boston on the Lexington alarm- an enlistment of only seven days).

In the spring of 1826, the Bartletts again moved westward, when Hiram and Mary Ann left Hartwick for what soon became Port Lawrence Township, Monroe County, Michigan Territory (now the central core of Toledo, Ohio), being accompanied by her parents the Fishers.

Back to TOP | Back to Redding Section | Back to Georgetown Section



History of Redding is a not a business or an organization..It's one person working to promote the history of his hometown
and surrounding areas. All costs are out-of-pocket so donations and/or sponsorships will allow me to dedicate more time
and effort to research and updates.