Interesting Story About the Portland CT Quarries

Portland CT Quarries

The Middlesex Quarry, Portland, albumen print – Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery


Members of my Ratcliffe family from Cheshire, England traveled to the US in the 1880s and worked at the Portland Quarries. In the 1880 Census for Portland, Thomas Ratcliffe, my Great Great Grandfather, and his brother in law, John Lewis, were boarding in a home in Portland and working at the quarries. Shortly after that, Thomas’ wife, Jane, and his children joined him in Connecticut. The family ended up settling in Middletown, Connecticut, in about 1889, however, the Portland Quarries are a big part of my family’s history.

Portland Quarries PostcardConnecticut History.org has a great post today about the history of the Portland Quarries and the places  the infamous Connecticut Brownstone was used.

You can read the story here: Portland Puts Its Stamp on an Architectural Era

You can find more info on my Ratcliffe family here: The Ratcliffe Family of Cheshire, England. It’s not totally up to date. Contact me if you are interested in a PDF copy of my family history for the Ratcliffes.

 

Richard Burnham – “Blown up at school house”

I guess everyone has “Burnhams” on their mind lately. Just now the Historic Hartford Facebook Page just randomly posted a photo of this headstone (click photo to enlarge) for the Richard Burnham, son of Elijah and Sarah Olmstead Burnham.

richard burnham headstone

Epitaph reads ” In memory of Mr. Richard Bernham, killed By ye Bloing up of ye schoolhouse; Jun 1766 aged 18 years & 3 months. Son to Mr. Elisha and Mrs. Sarah Burnham”. This accident happened during a celebration of the repeal of the Stamp Act.

Young Richard was born 5 Mar 1748 in Hartford, CT. He is buried in the Ancient Burying Ground in Hartford.

How Many Thomas Burnhams Are There?

Awhile ago I had written about the question of where Thomas Burnham of Windsor, CT was originally from. The original post was called “The Confusing Origins of Thomas Burnham” however, that post didn’t make the transition to the new site. The question of his origins are still not answered, and we have other ongoing mysteries surrounding Thomas Burnham, one of those being whether or not he was in Barbados before arriving in Connecticut.

Last year I was contacted by Burnham researcher, Jim Burnham, of Massachusetts. He is descended from Thomas of Windsor. He has been interested in the Barbados connection for many years and had visited there in 1980s where he had seen a marriage and burial record for a Thomas Burnham. He found records that indicated that Thomas was a sugar cane farmer on the island. Jim didn’t have copies of those original records and so has been searching more recently for information on this “Thomas of Barbados”. Jim contacted me yesterday with a new find. The LDS Family Search website has images of the original records. Jim was able to find the burial record that he had located in the 80’s. This shows that “Mr. Thomas Burnham” was buried from St. Michael’s, Barbados on 1 Aug 1674.

Thomas Burnham burial

Thomas Burnham Burial in Barbados. ( Click to see full page)

This burial record proves that the Thomas Burnham in Barbados was not the same individual who settled in Windsor, CT in the 1640’s. That Thomas died 28 Jun 1688 in Windsor, Hartford, CT. There are enough mentions of Thomas in Windsor over the years to prove that he was in Connecticut continuously between his arrival there and his death.

Now, there may have been another Thomas Burnham (We know that there was a Thomas Burnham in Ipswich, Mass that was a contemporary of Thomas in Windsor, but that’s a whole other confusing issue) that remained in Barbados, and the Windsor Thomas was there prior to arriving in Connecticut, however, I have the feeling that these records found by Jim Burnham, are the source of the “Barbados rumor” we have read over the years.

Jim is going to try to locate the marriage record in the LDS Barbados records and promises to share his findings. In the meantime we welcome any other documents that Burnham researchers may have to either prove or disprove the “Barbados Rumor”.