Thursday, February 17, 2022

Black History Month- Who was Pharaoh Necho


Pharaoh Necho

Connecticut’s role in slavery cannot be overlooked. By the time of the Revolutionary War, our state had the largest number of slaves in New England, and the enslaved worked as farm hands, household servants, in businesses and on ships. Connecticut was very slow and cautious to bring freedom to the enslaved and passed the Gradual Abolition Act of 1784 which did not immediately free slaves but granted freedom only to those born into slavery and after they reached the age of 25. Slavery did not end in Connecticut until 1848, long after our neighboring states.

In an effort to bring to light our community’s diverse and unnoticed past, the Haddam Historical Society is currently researching Haddam’s former enslaved residents. Eighteen slaves are recorded in the 1756 Connecticut Census, and three slaves are enumerated in the 1790 Federal Census for Haddam. Research has proven to be challenging as there is little primary documentation or written histories of Haddam’s enslaved residents.

Quite by accident, we came across Pharaoh (Pharo) Necho in a Joseph Arnold’s 1772 will. Joseph (an older relative of Thankful by marriage) states that upon his death, “I give my negro servant Necho his time that he may be free from a master after my death and if he is not able to maintain himself by reason of sickness, lameness or any infirmity my will is that my cousin Joseph Arnold shall maintain him out of that part of my estate that I gave him.”

Shortly after the will was written, Necho married Tamar, the “servant” of Reverend Eleazer May which is recorded in the First Congregational Church of Haddam records of 1773. In Colonial era New England, slaves were frequently referred to as servants. We are currently looking into Tamar’s history and hope to report more on her later.

It appears that Joseph Arnold was true to this word, and Necho was freed upon Arnold’s death in 1782. The 1790 Federal Census lists Necho (Negro) a freed black. However, it appears that Tamar, his wife, was still living with the May family as they are listed as having one slave, and Pharaoh is living alone. It is possible that Tamar had died by 1800 as the May family no longer lists a slave in their household, and Necho is still living alone.

Very little documentation survives on Pharaoh’s early life. He is listed on the rolls of Connecticut men serving in the French and Indian War from 1755-1762 which indicates he was born in Connecticut in 1730. The 2nd Lieutenant of Necho’s company (7th Company of the 4th Regiment) was Nehemiah Dickinson of Haddam. Pharaoh served from September to December of 1755.

Once freed Pharaoh earned a living fishing for salmon and shad. He not only owned a boat and oars but also 1/8 part of a fishing place on Thirty Mile Island which he leased out from time to time. Pharaoh was successful enough to buy land and build a house. When he died in 1803, his inventory was worth $321.71, but after paying off debts and court expenses, the estate was deemed insolvent.

Little else is known of Pharaoh Necho, but research continues, and we hope to uncover more in the future.

Photo of Pharaoh Necho’s Inventory, 1803, from Connecticut’s Wills and Probate Records, Inventory includes 1/8 fishing place, 1/16 of salmon and shad caught in 1803, dwelling house and 1 Bible.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022


Thursday, February 3, 2022

 February is Black History Month

"Black Jane"

“An old lady of dignity of character, highly respected and universally esteemed as an old saint”. These were the words used to describe Jane Smith, Haddam resident and former slave who died at the age of 90 in 1880.

Jane Dublin was born around 1792, possibly in New London. She was the slave of Thomas Judd of East Hampton, Connecticut and married George Smith, Venture Smith’s grandson in 1816 in East Haddam.

Connecticut’s Gradual Abolition Act of 1784 emancipated those who would thereafter be born into slavery and only after they reached 25. It appears that Jane was freed around 1817 when she would have turned 25.

Eventually the couple settled in Haddam and had five children including their youngest, Eliza who is listed as “insane” or “demented” which could have meant a number of disabilities including permanent learning incapacities or a mental illness.

George died in 1842 and Jane who was locally known as “Black Jane” became a “laundress or washerwoman” to make ends meet. She lived in a simple house near the intersection of Hayden Hill Road and Timms Hill Road with her daughter and was well-known and liked by her neighbors. She was known as a “faithful servant, a useful citizen, and a consistent Christian.” In the 1870s Eveline Warner Brainerd interviewed all her neighbors, including Jane, and asked for a quote or sage advice. Brainerd writes that “Black Jane replied - It takes all kinds of people to make a world and one black one”.

Her funeral was attended by many friends and neighbors and she left a house worth $100 and $107 in gold and silver. Eliza went to live with her older sister in Philadelphia but died within a year.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022


Haddam Historical Society
Receives CT Cultural Fund Operating Support Grant from CT Humanities


Haddam, CT (January 11, 2021)-Connecticut Humanities, the statewide nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has awarded the Haddam Historical Society a $12,800 CT Cultural Fund Operating Support Grant (CTCFOSG).

The grant is critical in allowing the Haddam Historical Society to continue operations and the Thankful Arnold House Museum to remain open. In addition, funding will help us to keep staff in the museum for visitors, research, and collections care. Funds will also be transformational by allowing the society to update its online presence and present more virtual programs and tours and to share the communities important and inspiring stories with a wider audience.                                  

Executive Director, Elizabeth Malloy noted that this grant is critical to the survival of the society during these difficult times and that for the past two years they have had to cancel most programming and fundraisers. The funding will allow the society to improve its virtual exhibits and programs and maintain our ability to serve the community and public.

The Haddam Historical Society was one of 624 organizations in Connecticut that was awarded CT Cultural Fund support totaling $16M from CT Humanities. The CTCFOSG are part of the $30.7M of support allocated to arts, humanities, and cultural nonprofits through CTH over the next years by the CT General Assembly and approved by Governor Ned Lamont. The CTCFOSG will assist organizations as they recover from the pandemic and maintain and grow their ability to serve their community and the public.

This grant was administered by CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

The mission of the Haddam Historical Society (HHS) is to preserve, collect, interpret and promote the history and heritage of Haddam for present and future generations in order to instill a pride of place, respect for the community and encourage broad public engagement. The Haddam Historical Society provides numerous activities including programs, events, exhibits and services for both adults and children which help them discover an understanding and respect for the town's heritage and previous generations. The group is also active in local preservation issues and documenting significant historic structures.

HHS operates the Thankful Arnold House Museum and Haddam Shad Museum and is a member of the Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail and Connecticut’s Historic Gardens.

About Connecticut Humanities
CT Humanities (CTH) is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. CTH connects people to the humanities through grants, partnerships, and collaborative programs. CTH projects, administration, and program development are supported by state and federal matching funds, community foundations, and gifts from private sources. Learn more by visiting


About Connecticut Office of the Arts

The Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) is the state agency charged with fostering the health of Connecticut’s creative economy. Part of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, the COA is funded by the State of Connecticut as well as the National Endowment for the Arts.



Wednesday, November 10, 2021

 Founders' Day Volunteer Awards

On Sunday, November 7, 2021, the Haddam Historical Society held its annual Founders’ Day Celebration on the grounds of the Thankful Arnold House Museum. We honored both the Native Americans of the area and the early English settlers and presented our volunteer awards. This was followed by a tour of the Old Burial Yard at Thirty Mile Island Plantation.

The Haddam Historical Society is pleased to announce that the 2021 Founders’ Day Awards have been presented to Cindy Sullivan and posthumously to Carl Conrad.

Cindy Sullivan has been a long-time active volunteer with the Society primarily working on our designated Connecticut Historic Garden. She, along with Deb Rutter, have for years been in charge of maintaining the museum’s historic herb garden and have renovated and brought back to life the border gardens. Cindy has also served on the Board of Directors and coordinated volunteers. In addition she has been a vital part of the Haddam Land Trust for over 25 years, serving on their board as both President and Secretary. Cindy is a certified Master Gardener and is currently working on becoming a Master Naturalist Gardner and volunteers at the CT Forest and Park Association. In her spare time, she works at Wellstone Farm, the Middletown YMCA and teaches Tai Chi, Yoga, senior strength and flexibility classes. Cindy and her husband, David, raised their two sons, Carter and Kyle, and live in an historic house in Higganum. She is a devoted volunteer who donates her time to make our community and world a better place.

The Society also recognized Carl Conrad, who unexpectedly passed away in November of 2020. Carl and his wife, Marijean Conrad, joined the Society upon moving to Haddam and as next -door neighbors to the museum were active in programs and events. Carl served on the board as treasurer for many years and worked tirelessly on the financial well being of the organization. He volunteered at countless fundraising events and is remembered as a competitive croquet player. A lovely memorial bench, in honor of Carl, now graces the grounds of the museum, and we welcome visitors to sit and reflect. We thank Carl and Marijean for their many years of service not only to the Society but to other organizations including Brainerd Memorial Library.

Cindy and David Sullivan

Carl Conrad

Tuesday, August 10, 2021


 Historic Celebration to take place at
Higganum United Methodist Church
Higganum, Connecticut

Please come join us for some historic celebrations at Higganum United Methodist Church.  Higganum United Methodist Church is celebrating its 160th anniversary this year, in 2021.  The church, located at 248 Saybrook Road in Higganum Connecticut, is a historical and architectural treasure in town.  First constructed during the Civil War area, the main church remains essentially unchanged since that time.  In 1861 Reverend Allen, the minister destined to head the movement which resulted in the building of the church, was sent to Higganum. He held his revival meetings in the grove across the brook from the old post office, then at Brainerd Hall, and soon after at the Grange. Methodists gradually assumed a more vigorous and effective role in the community and finally demanded a church-The present site was purchased for only $5! Building of the structure began in 1861and was finished the following year. Although many of the church congregants participated in the building, Reverend Allen carted stone from the quarries, chopped timber from the wood, did masonry work and even framed the building and some of the benches. One time the minister, needing planking, was given a full sized tree only if he could chop it down to size which he proceeded to do! Come join us in celebrating this remarkable feat with these special events.

On August 21, 2021 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, the church will host a Music Concert in the Fellowship Hall located at the church.  Be prepared to be serenaded by solo virtuosos and old favorite guitar and piano rock songs by the same favorites that you have come to enjoy at the Higganum United Methodist Church’s Coffee Houses. More than 10 separate musical acts will be delivered and an Award Winning Poet from Connecticut will read her work which merited her third place in the most recent Connecticut Poetry Contest 2020. Soft drinks and snacks will be available for purchase. A free will offering will be collected at the door.

On September 12, 2021 at 9:00 the church will host a celebratory Worship Service. Please join us for our keynote event honoring our church’s 160th anniversary. A special church service will honor our church’s founding fathers.  Included in this worship service will be the Bishop and several past Pastors.  


On September 12, 2021 at noon Higganum United Methodist Church will host an Open House. Following the church service we will have light refreshments followed by a Church Open House beginning at noon.  The Open House will feature the contributions our church has made to the community through fundraising, ministries and outreach.  It will highlight the church history since before the Civil War times with collected memorabilia, publications and a slide show.  On display will also be the crafts and contributions of our church members through the years. Church members will be available to conduct church tours during the open house and you are more than welcome to view our hour long continuously running presentation comprised of photos from our distant and more recent past! If you would like to order a church history book, people will be available to take your order. This will be truly the event for history buffs in town. 


We look forward to seeing you- Sincerely Higganum United Methodist Church and Reverend Ahn.





Music in the Museum Gardens
Sunday, August 15, 2021
6 pm
Thankful Arnold House Museum, 14 Hayden Hill Road, Haddam, CT
Parking up Field Park Drive
Free and Open to all.

Tom Callinan is more than a multi-faceted performing artist. He holds a B.S. in Secondary Education (English Major/Music Concentration) from Central Connecticut State University, and an M.A.L.S. (Music Concentration) from Wesleyan University. In 1977, after five years of successful teaching in a Connecticut junior high school, Callinan launched a full-time career in the creative and performing arts. Annually he presents several hundred performances for tens of thousands of people, spanning nursery schools through nursing homes. Since 1973, he has performed with the popular folk band, The Morgans, representing them as business manager since 1977. In 1991, he was designated Connecticut's first "Official State Troubadour" through legislation by The General Assembly.

His repertoire includes a variety of styles including sea songs, Irish tunes, songs of the earth, and folk songs, tales and tunes to name just a few. Not only are his shows entertaining but uplifting and poignant.

He will be preforming at the Thankful Arnold House Museum on Sunday, August 15, 2021. The concert is free and open to the public. Join us early to picnic on the grounds and enjoy the performance between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

Hope you can join us for a rousing good time!
Haddam Historical Society 860-345-2400 or