BLOG: Tolland History Tidbits

by Peter Palmer

This year (2015 ) marks the 300th anniversary of the formal creation of the Town of Tolland by a charter issued by the Colonial legislature in May, 1715. An original copy of the Charter is on display at the Tolland County Jail Museum.

This year (2015 ) marks the 300th anniversary of the formal creation of the Town of Tolland by a charter issued by the Colonial legislature in May, 1715. An original copy of the Charter is on display at the Tolland County Jail Museum. This did not mark the first time settlers were living in Tolland. A settlement was laid out on Meeting House Hill (Grant Hill Road) in 1713 and another on Baxter Street in 1714. There are cemetery stones in the South Cemetery from 1713. The Colonial records have entries for Tolland prior to the charter. Since there is a Tolland, England, it is presumed as the origin of the name.

The Charter set to; Matthew Allyn, Roger Wolcot, Timothy Thrall and John Ellsworth as trustees, ownership fo a six by six mile block of land. It is bounded on the south by Coventry (May 1712) and east by the Willimantic River. The west and North boundaries were not specified and waited for later surveys (1720) to be defined. Due to the course and bend of the river, Tolland now is understood to contain 40 square miles, rather than the expected 36 square miles.

The boundaries seem to be easily located but there was misunderstanding on the location of the Coventry boundary. The 1713 layout on Meeting House Hill (Grant Hill Road) was based on the mis-understanding that it was the center of town. Francis West, a resident of Tolland built his home on Goose Lane (still in existence with significant renovations), found out it was in Coventry. It may have been him who prompted the survey of the line. Three surveys seem to have been conducted, all different. It took a committee appointed by the Colonial Legislature to designate one survey as official.

Three men from each town were appointed from each town and they signed the agreement adopting one survey as the official line location, by document dated 6 Dec. 1722 (recorded on the Tolland Land Records vol 1 pg 198). Mr. West’s home was truly in Coventry and he had to, and did move it north across the line.

The location must have been established before the signing because, the northerly and westerly boundaries were surveyed and the results reported in October of 1720. Also by document dated 3 May 1722 (Tolland Land Records vol 1 pg 305), six additional homesteads were laid out, filling the gap between the established line and other Tolland residents.

From, the petition for a new town, the charter contemplating a new town, the grant of ownership to four trustees, and that I have not seen or heard of any act of the legislature separating Tolland from Windsor I conclude that Tolland was never part of Windsor. Every year the Selectmen of each abutting town were required to walk and renew the line and boundary monuments. A certification of such a boundary walk was filed for the Coventry line in 1736. The Tolland line with Ellington, first surveyed in 1720, was later mapped (after 1786) as recorded in Ellington’s land records.

Copyright September 2015, Tolland Historical Society.

Peter Palmer
Written by:

Peter Palmer

Peter Palmer is Tolland Historical Society's Assistant to Barbara Cook and Archivist. Submissions are on behalf of the Tolland Historical Society.