For the first few years of my genealogical research, I was pretty sure that my New England ancestors were only in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Then in 2013, I discovered my connection to John Scranton in Guilford, Connecticut. I finally had an ancestor in the state where I lived!
After a few years of researching the Scrantons, I decided to do a genealogy road trip to Guilford in the summer of 2016. Though I took lots of pictures and posted them on Facebook, I never wrote about the trip. What better time than for this week’s #52Ancestors theme?
Since I was going with my husband, I was going to make sure it was an efficient trip with some couple time thrown in. So we hopped on I-95 during one of the hottest days of the year and drove across the state to Guilford.
Some pre-research at the Guilford Library’s website turned up an early map of the town, including who lived where. I wanted to stand on the land where John Scranton lived! Fortunately, there was a Wal-Mart just off the exit and down the street from that land, so that’s where we parked before walking over.
Of course, John Scranton’s house is no longer there, but there was an old house across the street. Its plaque said 1694, but some research shows it may have been built in 1645. John would have seen it every day!
We soon found that Guilford was chock-full of beautiful old houses, so we looked at a few in the area that we were walking. (Later on, I’d bought a book about the old houses around Guilford Green, not too far away. I guess we’ll have to go back to really look at those!)
Our next stop was the Henry Whitfield House. As I wrote here, Rev. Henry Whitfield led many of the first settlers of Guilford in 1639. They soon built the stone house to start the settlement off. Over the centuries, the house has been remodeled many times, so there is barely any of the original left. However, the house is now a museum that reflects on Guilford’s history. They also have a research room, but according to the worker there, it’s best to try the library first, as it has more extensive historical materials.
After a lunch break at the nearby Lobster Pound, we made our last stop at West Cemetery, where my library research showed me that John Scranton’s grandson Samuel was buried. As we combed the cemetery, we couldn’t find the gravestone. What we did see was many older gravestones leaning up against small fences and other gravestones. Although the cemetery opened in 1815, these stones were dated earlier than that. I found out later that Guilford’s first cemetery was actually on its town green, and that many of the graves later were re-interred at surrounding cemeteries, including West. Another reason for a re-visit; perhaps we could find Samuel’s headstone among these strays.
One last reason for another visit: near the Whitfield house is a traffic island that has a granite slab with the 1639 Guilford Covenant inscribed on it. During our visit, I saw the 2014-dated slab but didn’t take a picture, since John Scranton’s name wasn’t on it. Meanwhile, I’ve discovered two other ancestors who are on there: John Bishop and Thomas Norton. Now I want to photograph it and touch their names!