This Week in New England Native Documentary History

On May 11, 1762, a petition of Chicken Worrups, a Native living in Kent, Connecticut, was written and presented to the Connecticut General Assembly two days later.  Being elderly and in financial trouble, Worrups wished to sell part of his 200 acre farm—30 acres of “useless” and “unprofitable” swamp land—to pay his debts and support himself during an illness.  One day later, a prospective buyer, Isaac Bull, a neighbor who was building a gristmill, sawmill, and iron works, petitioned the legislature for permission to buy Worrups’ lot for its wood.  This was not the first time the two had done business together.  Three years earlier, Worrups had sold about 10 acres to Bull to “accommodate him in the use of some mills” which Bull had built on the Housatonic River. 

Even though Worrups owned his land in fee simple, his request to sell the land and Bull’s desire to purchase the land was mediated through Jabez Swift, the overseer for the Schaghticoke tribe.  The legislature approved the purchase and Bull’s Falls Ironworks began a business that thrived into the 19th century.  Chicken Worrups never fully recovered from his illness, dying in Redding in February 1763.  In October of that year, more of his property was sold to satisfy his creditors.

The documents come from Connecticut State Library’s Connecticut Archives, Indian Series.  To see Chicken Worrups’ memorial or read a transcription, click here.  To view contemporary photographs of the Bull’s Falls area, click here.

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