Thursday, August 12, 2010

James Brainerd Taylor, boyhood home . . . "The Hill," Middle Haddam, Connecticut

Alas, after some 10 years of personal searching in libraries and online, a sketch of the boyhood home of James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829) is found!

Via Google Books' digitalization (February 11, 2010) of Columbia University Library's copy of A New Tribute to the Memory of James Brainerd Taylor (New York: John S. Taylor, 1838), the sketch appears in the book's frontispiece.

For some reason, every copy this J. B. Taylor researcher has come across thus far of this second 1830's memoir on the Second Great Awakening "uncommon Christian" evangelist did not contain this frontispiece sketch. That such a sketch existed is known from pages 263-64 of A New Tribute when the compiler Fitch W. Taylor (1803-1865, James' younger brother) wrote in a footnote:

[The Hill] is the name by which the family residence of Mr. Taylor was known among his friends. See the sketch on the Title page. The scenery at this point of the Connecticut [River] is considered to be very fine.

The footnote is included in a paragraph from a July 29, 1828, letter from J. B. Taylor to his family and friends in New York City and elsewhere. The paragraph reads,

When shall we see you at the Hill? You know how gladly we all would welcome you. The Hill looks finely. The trees are doing well, and grow luxuriantly. The lover of scenery will never tire here, but always find enough to feast his love of the beautiful amid so much enchantment of nature.

"The Hill" most likely refers to the Hog Hill section of the early 19th-century ship building town of Middle Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut (est. 1767). Located on a summit overlooking the Connecticut River, Hog Hill was so named because a hog was once stuck underneath the Hill's now non-existent Congregational Church (built 1744). Today's Hog Hill Road is adjacent to the Middle Haddam Historic District (part of East Hampton, Connecticut, click here for photos). Since 1984, the district has been listed on the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places.