500 Years of History

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1492: Christopher Columbus sets sail from Spain. Henry VII is King of England. A seed from an acorn germinates in coastal Connecticut. That white oak will eventually supply the framing timbers for the Hyland House.

1639: Charles I is on the English throne. On September 29th, the Guilford Plantation founders, led by the Reverend Henry Whitfield, purchase from the Menunkatucks an unsettled tract of land between Oiockcommock (Stony Creek) and Kuttawoo (East River).

1651: George Hyland arrives in Guilford. By 1665, he is married to Hannah (née Cruttenden). They have four children: Elizabeth (b. 1666), Hannah (b. 1670), Mary (b. 1672), and Deborah (b. 1674).

1657: English Parliament makes the Humble Petition to Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell offering him the crown. Cromwell declines. George Hyland purchases property on Boston Street. The parcel extends along Boston Street from the eastern border of the Green to Union Street.

1693: On January 20th, George Hyland dies and leaves his property to his wife, Hannah.

1701: On January 27th, Hannah Hyland divides the property between her four sons-in-law. The westernmost parcel was drawn by Isaac Parmelee, the next by Thomas Hall, the next by John Hill, the easternmost by Ebenezer Hall.

1706: On November 7th, a series of property exchanges occur between the brothers-in-law and Colonel Sam Hill. Isaac Parmelee is now the owner of the site on which the current Hyland House is built. Parmelee had married the eldest Hyland daughter, Elizabeth, in 1689. In 1706, Isaac and Elizabeth were both forty-one and had seven children between the ages of one and sixteen.

1713: The Hyland House is built. A dendrochronology study completed in 2014 confirms this date. The earliest structure is described here.

1719: On July 29th, Ebenezer Parmelee, Sr., is deeded the property for 40 pounds (approximately $150,000 current value). He is twenty-eight years old and his wife, Anna (née Cruttenden), is nineteen. Ebenezer is a clockmaker. In the eighteenth century, clockmakers were highly-respected specialists and clocks were coveted status symbols. Only 5% of householders in the Connecticut River Valley owned tall clocks before the Revolution. Ebenezer is responsible for the parlour paneling and other fine finish carpentry in the House. Between 1718 and 1733, Ebenezer and Anna have six children, four boys and two girls.

1736: A smallpox epidemic kills all four Parmelee sons: eighteen-year-old Ebenezer, thirteen-year-old Samuel, ten-year old Reuben, and three-year-old Phineas. Ebenezer and Anna’s two daughters, sixteen-year-old Anna and nine-year-old Ruth, survive. Smallpox epidemics occurred with devastating regularity in colonial New England. In 1730, more than 25% of Bostonians contracted the virus. More than 3 percent of the city’s population died that year from the disease. In 1738 Ebenezer and Anna have a fifth son, also named Ebenezer. Nathaniel is born in 1742.

1773: Candace, an enslaved woman, is “bequeathed” to Ebenezer and Anna Parmelee by Ruth Naughty. Candace is 22 years old. Candace will be emancipated twenty years later on January 18, 1793. She later marries Thomas Bow and moves to a piece of land on Nut Plains. Connecticut’s slave population peaked at about 5,000 in 1774; three of every one hundred people in Connecticut were enslaved at the time. A Witness Stone to honor Candace will be placed in front of the house on November 2, 2017.

1789: George Washington becomes the first president of the United States of America. Anna Parmelee dies. Ebenezer Parmelee, Jr., (b. 1738), the only surviving child of Ebenezer and Anna, inherits the House. A member of the Yale Class of 1758, Ebenezer is a clockmaker like his father. He serves as Guilford’s town clerk from 1771-76.

1795: Ebenezer Parmelee, Jr., sells the Hyland House to his mother’s cousin, Seth Cruttenden, then 42 years old, and his wife, Anna Rossiter Cruttendon.

1830: Seth Cruttenden dies leaving no descendants.

1831: On February 26th, Randolph C. Wildman purchases the Hyland House. The House remains in the Wildman family until the early twentieth century.

1916: The Dorothy Whitfield Historic Society purchases the house to protect it from a proposed demolition.

1917: Norman Isham completes the restoration of the house. Isham was a prominent architectural historian, author, and a professor at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. He writes about the Hyland House in his classic work Early Connecticut Houses

1918: The Hyland House Museum opens to the public as a museum.