Best tin pail…67 cents

Lucy Skinner was born in Granby, Connecticut in about 1801. Twenty years later she married Alexander H. Griswold (1792-1881), also a native of Granby. The only other detail about Lucy’s life I have been able to find is that she died in 1845. For women’s history, this is fairly average.

Women’s history may be hidden, but it does exist. Tucked within a collection of Alexander’s Griswold’s papers (Ms 74356) are two lists of items owned by Lucy Skinner Griswold. Of the two lists, only one is dated. The first list is labeled “Distributed to Lucy Skinner.” A two page document, each line contains a description of an item, how many are included, and the value. Some of the items she received were a bird’s eye towel (50¢), 2 1/4 yards of tow towels (at 30 cents/yard, 67.5¢), a striped Italian lutestring gown ($6), and a white-faced cow ($21). Several promissory notes, of various amounts, are also listed. Based on her belongings, Lucy Skinner came from a well-to-do family. This may also be illustrated by the land she was given, 17 1/4 acres estimated at $799.50.

On April 9, 1829 Lucy Griswold’s father compiled a list of property set off to his daughter. No reason for the gift is given; perhaps he would no longer be keeping house. The items listed range from a 6¢ tin funnel to $23.38 worth of bed quilts, blankets, and similar. She also received a tin pail. Not just any tin pail, but the best tin pail, valued at 67¢.

These lists paint a picture not often available, but certainly of value. The other papers in Alexander’s collection include deeds, bills and receipts, papers referring to the local school district, and a list of notes due to him. All of this is open for research. Come visit!


you will gow to room Number
three & as you gow in, on your
right – hand you will find an
old pillow on an under birth
Where you may find concealed the
contents, etc – etc  Between the case
& tick that holds the feathers.

This unsigned note is one of several documents, in the latest Newgate Prison collection to cross my desk (Ms 74355), that refers to escaping from East Granby, Connecticut’s copper mine-turned-prison.

It is not clear whether they all related to the same escape, or if there were separate affairs. One letter appears to be from an inmate, apprising the guards of a pending escape. The author’s reason for informing the guards is that, “we are strictly commanded to preserve Our own lives – & that of others. And did I not deem life sweeter than liberty gained at the peril of ones own life.” Another echoed that concern. “If mens intentions were only to obtain their Liberty in a humane manner I should not think it my duty as a prisoner, to inform you,” the prisoner began, and then continued to describe the escape he was aware of.

(Click the above images to view in more detail)

Thomas K. Brace, in Hartford, spread the word to Captain Griswold at Newgate in another letter. “[T]he white Prisoners in the New Building have it in contemplation to effect their escape,” Brace wrote. He encouraged Griswold to “Look out! be vigilant! be watchful!!”

There is no indication in the collection as to the success rate (or lack thereof) of the escapes. The other pieces included are minutes from a guard meeting and a list of certificates paid.

Escape the heat and come study this collection or any other. Our library and museum are quite cool places to spend the day! Visit our website for more information.