Tuesday, April 19, 2011: Granville again, Yes a Third Time! Then on to Litchfield

Time to leave Massachusetts and return to Connecticut. The Patriot’s Day Holiday had forced a change of plans.  I had really wanted to visit the Granville Town Hall and I was determined that today I would stop there. This meant that I might have to give up some other side trip or outing. My ultimate goal was Bristol and their public library history room which was open 2-4 pm. 

I checked out of the Comfort Inn and headed back to Connecticut. This Comfort Inn is not as good as others that I have stayed at.  I actually have upgraded from Days Inn’s to Comfort Inn’s and received much better accommodations.  My room was okay except for the huge bathroom and no shelving for the handicapped.  Loved the shower with all the handle bars and movable shower head.  Showers can be a challenge when you travel. 

The laundromat was on the first floor in a stacked arrangement and I put all my quarters into the dryer first….AUGH!!  The receptionist told me to go to the corner for more change.  Hmmm….what has happened to the concept of Petty Cash? I am sorry, I should not rant!  There are so many more motels around this area of Hwy 20/7 that they might be worth checking out and as far as I could see they all looked in good condition?  Comfort Inn does serve breakfast and they have a points reward program.  I have liked my past rooms and the service. 

Coffee Maker carefully situated on the sink!

My goal is to head for Litchfield, CT but before that I want to stop in Granville and visit the town hall.  I originally planned to stop in Barkhamsted and try to find the tavern of Thomas Goss brother to Philip Goss IV who migrated to Simsbury, Granby and Granville.  I think his tavern is where the Christmas Tree farm is north of Barkhamsted Center.  The original burned a while back.  Still seeing where he lived would be interesting. I didn’t have the time if I was to be in Bristol at the library before the History Room closed at 4 pm.  There is a Barkhamsted Historical Society and it might be a good idea to do a little more investigating before attempting this.  I will talk a little more at Thomas Goss later in this post.

I knew the road to Granville.  So it was easy to drive down Hwy 20 to Hwy 8 to Hwy 57 and make my way along.  I passed the covered bridge again just north of New Boston and turned sharply left onto Hwy 57 and headed east to Granville.  This second time went fast and I zoomed by Rose’s home.  Someone was raking in the yard.  I kept going although it was tempting to stop and say hello? 

The Granville Town Hall is a bright white.  I was a little concerned that the Administrative Assistant might not be there but I spotted a car and knew it was open.  I had been told by the town clerk when I called that if she was not there I could leave a note if I wanted something.  I had confidence that I would be able to access the records for Granville. Rose told me the Administrative Assistant should be there but I should call.  I did email but it was like a holiday and the chance she would see it would be small. 

Granville Town Hall, MA

You park on the right side or in the back.  You enter the building through the door in the back.  The front doors are locked. 

The Administrative Assistant was there and helping a man with his taxes.  I explained I wanted to look at the vital records and she said the town clerk was not in but I could look.  She led me into the town clerk’s office and took me behind the wood swing gate to the metal filing cabinets and on top were metal card files.  She cleared off a desk area for me to work.  She explained that the information was in the card file.  She left returning to her office on the other side.  No one was in the room.  These are cards with hand written names, dates and information on them and not much else in information. 

The vital records of Granville, MA in the dark metal card file drawers.

I studied the dates and pulled out the drawer I wanted and started taking photographs of the cards that I was interested in with the names Goss, Haskell, Rose, Gibbons etc.  I looked at birth, marriage and death. 

Before I left I wrote out a note asking for the birth record for Solomon Goss and gave my $5.00.  I asked were the original records were and was told they were too fragile and that was about it.  I am very confused? This is the second town hall in Massachusetts and so far no original records.  Now that is not very many town halls.  Hmmmm….!!  I did appreciate being given access to these records on the cards. 

Granville Town Clerks Office

No more time for dallying.  So I headed west on Hwy 57 back to New Boston and turned the car south Hwy 8 and headed back to Connecticut.  Boy did it come fast.  A lake came into view on my left and I realized that Connecticut was very close.

Not always easy to get a sign like this with no parking in site!

Now I was planning to turn and go to Riverton and then north and around to Barkhamsted Center but decided that I need to press on.  I was soon in Winsted and it was now or never to go east to Barkhamsted?  I opted to continued south on Hwy 8 which had become a very nice four lane highway and was a dream to drive on. 

Well, I might not have investigated Barkhamsted but I could stop in Litchfield and check it out.  My question was “Where did they hang poor Thomas Goss?” 

Barkhamsted is where Thomas Goss lived and he murdered his wife Eunice because he thought she was a witch or as the story goes?  Thomas Goss was a brother to Philip Goss IV who married Mary Kendall.  Thomas had been in Granville and then he migrated to Barkhamsted.  He is listed with Philip Goss on the Granville Land Map that I viewed at the Granville Public Library. 

Now I would publish the newspaper articles for Thomas Goss describing his arrest and the hanging but there is a “reproduction prohibited without permission” at the bottom.  So here is the source:

1.  Article #2 – No Title Connecticut Courant and Weekly Intelligencer (1778-1791); Aug. 29, 1785, ProQuest Historical Newspapers pg. 2.  This is about the trial of Thomas Goss (written Gofs) for the murder of his wife.  “guilty of willful and premeditated murder!”

2.  Article #5 – No Title Connecticut Courant and Weekly Intelligencer (1778-1791); Aug. 29, 1785, ProQuest Historical Newspapers pg. 3. “Litchfield, Nov. 15, Laft Wednefday Thomas Gofs, late of Berhamfted was executed at this place, pursuant to the fentence of the Superior Court for the murder of his wife, — His defence, upon trial was Infanity…” “and under pretense that his wife was a witch…” I obtained this on the internet at a Connecticut Library which has access to the newspapers.  You might be able to get copies in some other way? 

Thomas Goss served in the Revolutionary War and that might have caused some problems afterwards. Here is one source about this service.

Book:  Litchfield County Revolutionary Soldiers – Honor Roll, Josephine Elli Richards, Editor-in-Chief, published by Mary Flloyd Tallmade Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Litchfield, Connecticut, 1912 Pg 41 – Thomas Goss Bark. Men, page 19 – Rec. Conn. Men. 17, 471

Soon I was at the turn off for Hwy 118 to Litchfield which is not that far to go.  Litchfield is wonderful.  I immediately liked what I saw.  They have a great big town green that is divided up with streets and you do have to pay attention to the streets signs and highway signs.  I turned on South St. (Hwy 63) and then parked my car across from a long line of buildings that must be their downtown area. 

Litchfield Shopping!

There was a restaurant named DiFranco’s and I decided to give it a try.  Perfect, just what I wanted a sit down restaurant with a variety of items to choose from.  I sat in the window so I could watch the action outside. 

People looking very much like lawyers were coming in and out of this building that looked more like a church and I asked a man if it was the courthouse and he said “yes.”  You can see rain drops on my camera lens!

Down the street to the east on the corner was the Litchfield Historical Society.  It was after 11 am and I knew that I might after all be in luck and be able to visit it.  Sure enough it was open.  I was greet by a nice friendly receptionist who asked me to sign in and I think I paid $5.00?  I told him what I needed was to find out information about Thomas Goss and he sent me downstairs to the Archives. 

Right on the corner !

One of the attendants behind the desk offered to help and I told her about Thomas Goss and she jumped up and went into the back through a door and a few minutes later she and another person came out with a file folder with a few items in it about Thomas Goss.  They had the two articles I had obtained from the Connecticut newspaper and have listed above and another article from the Litchfield paper which she gave me a copy. 

Source:  Republican-American (Waterbury newspaper?) Sunday June 13, 2010 “Race’s murderous hill has history of hangings pg 1 and continued on page 4A by Brigitte Ruthman.  “It was known as “The Gallows,” just off the Town Green and a half-mile from the courthouse and jail. It is where, during the 1700s and 1800s at least four convicted murderers were hanged….hangings were conducted at a hangman’s tree.”  Several cases are presented in this article with names.  “Thomas Goss was a 52-year old innkeeper who was said to have showed signs of insanity in 1785.  “He fancies himself beset by the minions of the spirit word and used to speak of goblins harassing him,” according to historical accounts, “and began calling himself the second Lamb of God.”  He killed his wife with an ax, believing her to be a witch and “smeared her gore over the bodies of her three children: to keep her form casting a spell on him.  He then walked to a neighbors house to confess his crime.  He was hanged at Litchfield Nov. 7, 1785.”

How sad!!!! The descriptions of the hangings are documented in “Legal Executions,” a comprehensive reference by Daniel Allen Hearn at the Connecticut State Library.  I have not check this source from the newspaper article.” 

I asked her were he might have been hung and she mention Gallows Lane featured in the article.  Then she said quietly that they really didn’t know.  I said “Gallows Lane and where is that?”  So she pulled out a another map not the Walking tour map of Litchfield that I had found and showed me it was south on Hwy 63. Gallows Lane is flat when you first approach and then there is a steep hill to a valley below. It is very short with trees on one side and houses on the other.  The tree is long gone but it is believed to be haunted. I guess I have watched too many CSI’s. 

Now there is another family of interest in Litchfield.  Oliver Wolcott Sr. buried in the East Cemetery in Litchfield and Oliver Wolcott Jr.   Their houses are in Litchfield on Hwy 63.  The Walking Tour of Historic Litchfield.  According to this map the Litchfield Library is Oliver Wolcott Jr’s home and across the street is opposite Wolcott St. as it butts up to South Street is Oliver Sr’s home. 

Well this is what happens when you hurry! The Library at Litchfield
Oliver Srs. Home

Litchfield would be worth returning to and exploring it was lovely even in the rain!


Friday, April 15, 2011: The Berkshires!

The Old Mill Inn in Hatfield is an amazing Bed and Breakfast.  Breakfast was delightful in a more formal dining room.  This inn is set on the Miller river and has had many incarnations but it was original a grist mill.  It is just lovely! 

The innkeeper Ted, was a very brave young man who purchased the building, renovated it and is the force behind all the decorations and the great food.  The Inn also has other activities like a monthly tea, mystery theatre and other events.  He is in the process of updating his website so keep and eye out.  See the link to this mill to the right under Travel links.

There is a dam on the river and it just roars as the water spills down

It is bright yellow. My photos does not do it justice!

I cannot dally however, for I am off to the Berkshires where Philip Goss of Brookfield (IV) and Mary Kendall Goss settled before heading for the Susquehannah River and the Wyoming Valley once owned by Connecticut.  Philip and Mary are my 5th great grandparents.  I descend from their son Solomon Goss and his wife Olive Scott.  Solomon Goss was born in Granville in 1754 or somewhere near there. 

I leave the Old Mill Inn and make my way over to the town of Northampton taking Chester Hwy 10/5 and south into Northampton and east onto Bridge Street that took me right to the Bridge Street Cemetery. I am stopping at the Bridge Street Cemetery to view the monument of Rowland Stebbins.  Rowland is a 10th great grandfather.  Rowland is the 3rd great grandfather to Keziah Cooley Goss who married Philip Goss (III) in Brookfield.  I am stopping because a grave that old is very difficult to find.  Technically it is a monument to him as one of a line of Stebbins that came from England.  It was erected by a descendant who tried to figure out which grave was his but finally decided to create this tribute. 

I could not enter through a gate and drive the cemetery for the cemetery was LOCKED UP TIGHT!  So I parked on Bridge Street out front.  It was about 10:30 am.  There were several gates but all were chained with locks.  I walked around this very large cemetery trying to get in.  No luck! Well I did something that I will not describe.  About 11:10 am a truck appeared and the gate was opened on Parsons Street at the very end next to the houses.  He didn’t come over and ask me how I got in.  He seemed occupied and on his cell phone???  Most cemeteries are dawn to dusk or they put the hours on the fence.  Once I saw that the gate was opened I retrieved my car and drove around the cemetery looking for the Find A Grave photos of the tombstones. 

Finally the gates were opened about 11:10 am

Located in the front along Bridge Street to the right

There are two photos for Rowland Stebbins at Find A Grave.  I found the tombstone that is chunky with the curved head and the inscribed plaque but not the tall one?  I was all over that cemetery?  Hmmm…..! There is little information given at Find A Grave and not much on the actual location of the stones that area featured in the photographs. 

Northampton is the county seat of Hampshire County which was the old county from which several separated like Hampden, Berkshire and Franklin.  The Hampshire County Registry of Deeds is located in Northampton.  I was going to go there but my time was fast disappearing and I decided not to seek out Philip Goss’s deed in Warwick that I discussed in a past post.  The Family History Library has them microfilmed so I will check that out instead.  Northampton is a very interesting city and there is this college there called Smith?  Hmmm… is that one of those fancy colleges? HA!

Northampton city center

Smith College:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_College  It is located a little more west and up Hwy 9.  As I was driving along there were all these students milling about.

Be careful people in Massachusetts walk across a street when they want to and in any direction they choose.  One guy was a little scary!

Before leaving on my trip I had consulted the online weather reports and the mention of snow had made me prepare and alternate route to Pittsfield if I needed it. I can drive in snow but would rather not.  I had wanted to drive Hwy 9.  Ted of the Old Mill Inn said it was a good road and I would enjoy it for it was scenic. 

Off I go through Northampton and up Hwy 9 which takes me north to Haydenville, Williamsburg, Goshen, Cummington, Windsor and curving around to Dalton and then into Pittsfield. Once out of Northampton it becomes a country road again.

Just west of Cummington is the Old Creamery Grocery Store.  I stopped their for lunch and they had quiche!!  It was very good.  It is a country store with all kinds of foods, a deli, wine, groceries, gifts and more.  They have a little eating area. You can find it at this link for Hidden Hills.com http://www.hidden-hills.com/oldcreamery/  It will be on the left and it is big and white.  Park on the west side where there is more room.  I asked for a local wine and ended up with a California wine titled Berkshire Red?  Don’t take there word for it and read carefully the prices are a bit high?

My itinerary which I had prepared before I left had me going to the Registry of Deeds for the Middle District for Berkshire (pronounced Berkshur, hey I am trying!).  It is located in Pittsfield.  I decided that I had the deeds I needed from Hampden County when I had visited that Registry early in the trip.  I need to prepare an Excel spreadsheet and post that here so keep and eye out for that data.  So this meant that I could do other things and I decided since it was about 2:30 – 3 pm that I would just go ahead and register at the Comfort Inn south of Pittsfield and get settled.  I was going to be in this area till Tuesday so I might as well reevaluate my situation and do some chores…like laundry!

Once in Pittsfield the road takes you on Hwy 9 to Hwy 7/20 south.  The Comfort Inn is just past the big sign pointing the way to the Pittsfield NARA branch of the National Archives.  Unfortunately this NARA branch will be closing at the end of the summer – I think in September?  I do know that the microfilms will be transferred to the Pittsfield Athenaeum (old title for a library).  Other records I am not sure?  I did not visit it because it houses federal records and I need town and county. 

Driving through downtown Pittsfield was very interesting.  It was not a problem.  I just followed the signs.  It was busy with traffic but no worse than being at home. 

Pittsfield City Center


Pittsfield City Center from the Berkshire Atheneaum

Bed and Breakfasts are wonderful and I love the old houses and the history of each of them. The great food. They do have their challenges like no elevators to carry your luggage up.  The stairs in the older B&B’s can be very steep and narrow.  Fortunately most of my hosts had been helpful and helped me carry things to the room.  My hubbie was at home and he usually covers this for me. 

This was something my sister taught me. If you are staying at a lodging place only one night take only what you need and leave the rest behind: like valuables, sleep wear, a change of clothes and a toothbrush to the room.  So I know pack another bag to stuff things into.  My car rental had a special anti theft devise.  So that would discourage it being stolen. 

The Comfort Inn was a different situation so I took all my luggage and most of my stuff in to get it better organized.  The next week I would be on the go and staying at B&B’s for one or two nights. The Comfort Inn in Pittsfield is really south of Pittsfield and on the border with Lenox.  The sign is right there at the entrance.  It is on the east side of Hwy 7/20.  This street is very busy and turning left on it can be an adventure.  The Comfort Inn entrance is next to a green chain link box and up a hill behind the Dakota Restaurant. 

Instead of running off and doing some research I stayed in the room which was a handicap room with a huge bathroom.  Why they gave this room to me I don’t know?  I spent the time getting organized, rearranging my schedule and other chores.  It had a microwave and refrigerator so that was good.  It also had two beds so I could spread my stuff out.

The attendant at the desk told me about a Stop and Shop up the street and on the left side.  So I went up there and purchased some items.  Dinner was in the room and I got to take it easy.

Please Note: As you have probably guessed I have returned to my home on the West Coast and physically the trip is over.  I will continue to post my adventures over the next week or so and hopefully get this all written up.  So keep reading there is more to come.