In Possession of Pioneer Family for 239 Years— To Be Subdivided

From Windham County Transcript, September 7, 1944

Albert Bernier announced on Saturday that as agent for the owner he has sold the historic old Danielson farm on Maple Street to Adelaide Verone of Providence who plans to develop 40 of the 68 acres into a residential section to be known as the Colonel William Danielson Acres.  The work of surveying the property has been entrusted to William H. Pike, whose plan will subdivide the land into 103 lots in addition to space allowed for roads.  The proposed development, when completed will greatly enhance the financial standing of the community, adding considerable to the grand list of taxable property as well as creating a boom in the building trades.  The “Boom Town of New England” promises to boom again with opportunities opening up for bigger business in all lines as the development gets under way.   The work of laying out the project is to start within the next two weeks.

In contrast to the modern development trend is the marked change about to be made in the general landscape of that particular section of the borough, a change that will undoubtedly stand out most prominently in the eyes of many of the older residents to whom the “old Danielson house” has been a favorite old landmark to be proudly pointed out to visitors interested in the historical background of Windham County.  In the sale of the old Danielson Homestead and land, recently owned by the Misses Katherine and Ruth Danielson, many facts of historical interest might be noted.

The first settler south of Lake Mashapaug, now Alexander’s Lake, was James Danielson of Block Island, who served in King Philip’s War.  As he passed through this section, about the year 1675, and rested his company on the land between the Quinebaug and Assawaga (Five Mile) rivers, he was so impressed with the beauty of the spot that he said if he lived through the war, he would come back, buy the land and settle here.  Tradition has it that he came back after thirty years and bought from the Indians only to find that they had previously sold to Major Fitch.  In 1705, Mr. Danielson purchased 2,000 acres from Major Fitch and built a garrison house near the southern extremity, according to Miss Larnard’s History of Windham County, and was known as one of the most prominent men in the new settlement.

From that date to this year, 239 years, the land has been owned by him and his heirs.  Seven generations of the family have lived on the land and five in the old homestead.

The first James Danielson, who gave what is now known as the Westfield Cemetery, was the first to be interred there, January 22, 1728.  Among the bequests in his will were “four hundred pounds to be left for his grandson, James, to bring him up to college under the advise and direction of Rev. Ebenezer Williams.”  The five slaves left by him were valued at six hundred pounds and their graves are to be found in his lot in the cemetery.

In 1786, Col. William Danielson, his grandson, built the old home on Maple Street, a typical New England homestead, wide, low-eaved and large chimneys.  The rooms are spacious with fireplaces in many of them and a garret extending the length of the house.  Col. Danielson continued his grandfather’s interests in the town and was elected to be one of the men to help in building the church, which later became known as the Westfield Congregational Church.  That he also took his place in the town’s political life is indicated by the fact that in 1788 he was elected as one of the two delegates from Killingly to the state convention at Hartford for the purpose of discussing the then new Federal Constitution.  It should be remembered that when his house was built, 1786, Washington was not yet president.  It is also interesting to note that the D.A.R. Chapter of Danielson is named for Col. William Danielson’s wife, Sarah Williams Danielson.

In 1807, James Danielson, son of Col. William, asked permission of the town to build a dam on the Quinebaug River and in the next few years had erected two cotton mills at the foot of Maple street with power looms, which were then just being introduced into the New England mills.  A history of Danielson by H. V. Arnold states:  “Thus far the village had been gradually built up and was called Danielsonville after Gen. James Danielson, its most conspicuous resident.”  Mr. Arnold further adds, “Maple Street was a quiet nook of the borough in those years.  There were only eight residents on the whole street.”

James Danielson’s son, Deacon Elisha or Captain Elisha, carried on his family’s interest in the town and although he bought slaves, always freed them and paid them the wages of “hired help.”  The last fireplace to be built in the homestead was for one old Nance, a freed slave, because in her words, “she had misery in her bones”—probably as good a description of rheumatism as any other.

George Danielson, his son, who died in 1928 was with the Pope Manufacturing Company in Hartford for many years and returned to his home here the later part of his life.  His children are Miss Katherine Danielson of Pomfret, Miss Ruth Danielson of Boston and Thomas Danielson of Maple Street.  A fourth child, Robert, died in infancy.  Capt. Elisha Danielson’s only other grandson is Lt. Col. Richard Ely Danielson of Boston and Washington.

Note---The Danielson Homestead is still standing at the lower end of Maple Street and is presently an apartment house.  It is one of only a few 18th-century houses left in Danielson.  It is over 220 years old.