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TERRORISTS ATTACK CHURCH!DARIEN DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY. ___ PARISH LEADER & 49 MEN KIDNAPPED. MINISTERS SON WOUNDED BY GUNFIRE. WOMAN STABBED IN BREAST. 40 HORSES STOLEN. 100 CITIZENS ROBBED AT GUNPOINT. ___ RESCUE ATTEMPT BY MAJ. DAVENPORT FAILS. ___ SEVERAL TERRORISTS RECOGNIZED AS FORMER RESIDENTS. ___ OFFICIALS ASK GEN. WASHINGTON FOR HELP.JULY 22, 1781, PARISH OF MIDDLESEX (NOW KNOWN AS DARIEN), STAMFORDJust after two oclock today, an armed force of thirty-eight heavily armed terrorists attacked Dariens Congregational Church during Sunday services. After a brief scuffle and much confusion, the unarmed worshippers surrendered. The terrorist leader, a Captain Frost, ordered Reverend Moses Mather to
Depiction: During the attack upon the Middlesex Meeting-House, Sally Dibble Defies the Royalists in Defense of a Young Boy.
come down from his pulpit. Next, Frost commanded his men to gather all valuable articles of jewelry from the congregation and to take about forty horses belonging to the congregation for their march back to the shore. Then, forty-eight men and boys were herded together and marched out of the Church, with Reverend Mather in front. Two other men were captured outside the Church. The Darien pris-
oners were all tied together two by two, with ropes or by handcuffs made on the spot at a nearby blacksmith shop. Then, the terrorists mounted their captured horses and marched their prisoners back towards the Sound where their armed vessels waited. Only four escaped the attack: Deacon Joseph Mather and three young men, Stephen Weed, Eli Reed and Noyes Mather. They all jumped out of a
window. Two guns were fired at them by the terrorists, who did not think it prudent to fire any more, as the firing of three shots was the local alarm that signaled an attack on the Parish. Young Noyes Mather, the parsons son, was hit in the heel by one of the shots and dropped to his knees momentarily, but was able to resume his successful escape. During the attack, the women and some of the children tried to reach their husbands and fathers, but were roughly kept back by the soldiers with their bayonets. One of the women, Sally Dibble, tried to shield a boy from capture. One eyewitness said that Joe Smith of Talmadge Hill, and recently from New Canaan, stabbed Dibble in her breast with his bayonet. Within two hours, a state of emergency was declared and the general alarm was sounded with bells being rung and drums being beaten. By this time, the terrorists had reached the Fish Islands. They set up a rear guard on the island closest to land. The Darien prisoners were waded out to the outermost island as preparation for boarding on the ships. Before six oclock, Major John Davenport and the Militia arrived with a rescue party. Over the next few hours, Davenports rescue party increased in size to over one-hundred men and perhaps as large as two-hundred-fifty men. Davenports men and the terrorists exchanged fire. One of the terrorists ships fired grapeshot from its guns. Despite his greater numbers, Davenport decided that it was too risky to cross the islands sand bar while under attack by the ships guns and enemy musket fire. Major Davenport, who has homes in both Talmadge Hill and Stamford, is reported to have said, We feared for the lives of the good Reverend and his flock. Many of the kidnapped victims were likely to be killed by the enemy if we attacked. The leader of this terrorist attack was identified as Captain William Frost of Darien. Frosts wife, the former Sarah Scofield, lives in Darien with her small children. She grew up on a farm near the Meetinghouse (that is now the Goodwives Shopping Plaza). Neighbors of Sarah Frost reported that Captain Frost is a Loyalist who
Mural, Darien Town Hall Auditorium by A. G. Hull, 1939.fled to Lloyds Neck on Long Island prior to last winter. A Loyalist is someone who remains loyal to England in our War for Independence and is also known as a Tory. There, he joined a British para-military group called the Associated Board of Loyalists under the command of Governor William Franklin. Franklin is the once adored but now scorned son of Benjamin Franklin. He flew the kite in his fathers famous experiment with lightning and electricity. More details emerge on the attack. Captain Frost assembled an armed party of thirty-eight men at Fort Franklin in Lloyds Neck Harbor. As darkness approached on July 21, 1781, the Loyalist attack force boarded two warships, a brig with a dozen mounted guns called the Sir Henry Clinton and a sloop with two swivel guns called the Association. They sailed from Lloyds Neck Harbor across the ten mile stretch of Long Island Sound. The commander of the Sir Henry Clinton was recognized as Stephen Hoyt, of Norwalk. Hoyt led the first recorded raid against us in March 1777. As previously reported, he captured the sixty-one-year old Captain Samuel Richards, Jr. and fourteen Patriots at Richards home in Rowayton (todays Pinkney Park). Richards died three months later, the day after he was released from prison. Hoyt is descended from the same Simon Hoyt of Stamford as all of the Hoyts around Talmadge Hill. The Talmadge Hill Hoyts are among our greatest Patriots, including our highest ranked Patriot officer, Captain Joseph Hait (just a different spelling of Hoyt) and our youngest enlistee, his son, Warren, who joined as a private when he was thirteen. Simon Hoyt was a serial settler who arrived at Salem, Massachusetts, in April 1629, from England. He helped to settle Charlestown, Mass., then Dorchester, Mass., then Scituate, Mass., and finally Windsor, Connecticut, before coming to Stamford. Simon perfected the residential real estate game of value enhancement by receiving land grants upon arriving in each new settlement. Upon his departure for his next village, he sold his properties and used the proceeds to buy more properties in his
new settlement in addition to receiving how his brother, Joseph, was treated. more land grants from his new village. As previously reported, Joseph Gorham attempted to join the Loyalists, but was Back to our story: Under the cover arrested and jailed before he finally of darkness, Stephen Hoyt anchored fled to Lloyds Neck in 1777. Josephs in the area of the Fish Islands and half ownership in the Gorham mill Contentment Island. Here, the and his other property were seized by Loyalists lowered four tender boats to Connecticut. However, our doubts cannot be row ashore somewhere within Scotts Cove. The boats were concealed and proved and we need his grain, so we were to be used to make a hasty retreat will just keep a close eye on Gorham. if the Tories believed that they might The Gorham family is well to do, be severely outnumbered or caught by and he purchased other properties during the war and repurchased his surprise. The Tory raiders marched about brothers interest from the State. (In three miles towards their target, hiding 1789, Daniel Gorham completed one overnight in a swamp eight-hundred of the first of the many future tearfeet from the Church. One wonders downs in Darien, taking down the whether Captain Frost left his troops original Gorham homestead and buildfor a few hours to visit his wife and ing a much large home on Rings End children, or whether such a dalliance Road at what is now called Gorhams Pond.) might have endangered his mission. Lookouts kept guard overnight, and at sunrise, Captain Frost led a small scouting party from their hiding place towards the Meetinghouse. It is believed that two Town residents, Rowland Slason and Daniel Gorham met with Frost that morning to confirm his plan to attack during the afternoon sermon, when there would be more rebels to capture. No one witnessed Daniel Gorham meeting with Frost or can verify whether he is an undercover agent for the Loyalists. Gorham operates the grist mill and dam on Pine Brook (at what is today called Goodwives Riverthe bridge across the dam was built in 1825). His mill supplies grain for the Connecticut Militia, and many town residents believe that this proves his patriotism. Also, he took the States oath of loyalty on September 16, 1777. On the other hand, skeptics say that he sells his grain to the Militia only when the price is good for him. Others report that Gorham remains faithful to his Anglican church, and he continues to pay his ministerial tax to his Anglican pastor, Ebenezer Dibble in Stamford. Some claim that he helped Tory Joe Smith escape from town, after Smith was wounded and captured during a Loyalist raid. By the way, Gorham is married to Abigail Waterbury, who is a sister of Smiths wife. Finally, it has been said that he still harbors a grudge against the State for
July 25, 1781NEW YORK CITY. The New York Gazette published the British account of the Meetinghouse raid today. This Tory gibberish extols the bravery, coolness and honor of armed Loyalist terrorists in capturing and kidnapping unarmed men while December 27, 1781 PROVOST they were praying in church! PRISON, NEW YORK CITY. Today, the Reverend Mather and the eighteen August 2, 1781MIDDLESEX men and boys who were kidnapped PARISH. Today, terrorists landed at from the Congregational Church on Noroton Point to steal cattle. The July 22 returned home. They were Militia exchanged fire, but was out- released in a prisoner exchange and numbered by the terrorists. No doubt, walked home in the winter cold. James these vile terrorists took advantage of Bell died along the way. the depleted number of men in Town, After being taken from the Church, as a result of their mass kidnapping the Loyalists took their prisoners across eleven days ago. Two of our own the Sound to Lloyds Neck and then were killed in action, including young decided to release about half of the Gideon Weed. We captured Joe Smith men. Twenty-six were jailed in prisbut he escaped with the suspected help on ships. Then, these prisoners were of Daniel Gorham.