Excerpts from Iron Fever

February 19, 1743-4, he bought a tract of land from Samuel and Rebecca Algur for 30 pounds containing a small dwelling, called the Algur “home lot” which Obadiah Hawley of Stratford had given to Rebecca Algur (his daughter) by deed executed April 17, 1732, recorded in the first book of Records of Sharon. (1)

In addition, on the same date, for 700 pounds in bills of credit old tenor, Rowley bought from Samuel Algur “1/2 part of the land Samuel Algur and William Castle bought of Joseph and William Hart of Farmington November 17, 1739, before Joseph Hooker, Justice of the Peace.” (2)

On the first map of Kent the Algur Grant is shown on the west side of our Kent Bridge. It follows the road northwest and along the ridge of the mountain on the north side of the road about three quarters of the way to Eads corner. (1989)

Five years later, May 10, 1748, Rowley added a very large tract purchased from Robert Watson of Stratford. This joined the Algur tract on the south, went to the “York Line on the west, up Fuller Mt. road to the crest of the hill then again west to the York Line.” This covered a large chunk at the beginning of what is Macedonia Park and included the gorge of the Macedonia Brook. (3)

This large tract Robert Watson of Stratford had acquired with Benjamin Hollister and Henry Stevenson the month before, April of 1748, for 200 pounds with a lease for 999 years from Captain Maheu, Keft Sawmill Cokenes, Jobe Mahew, John Anteney, Thomas Suknes, and John Sokenes, Indians of Nodine Hollow. (4)

Watching the haphazard acquisition of the Colony Lands, the townspeople of Kent, anxious to have control of the area for sale and town support, as Charles Grant surmises, appealed to the General Assembly to be allowed to annex the lands. (5)

“With some perspicacity, the General Assembly, studying the situation, ordered that the land be annexed to the town only with reference to town privileges and without passing the fee thereby.” This measure was passed in 1743. The lands were not surveyed until 1752 when Roger Sherman was appointed surveyor by the General Assembly. He and two chairmen took seventeen days to divide the 11,000 acres into 28 lots. Then an Act of 1853 ordered the sale of these lots at auction. Somehow Moses Rowley’s land was missed in the survey and (his land) was not sold with the rest in 1753-54. (6)

At first Rowley probably used the Algur house, but after the 1748 land purchase, according to later deeds, he built a house and sawmill on the south side of the road on what is now the Preston Mountain Brook. Later in 1788, this was the site of the Converse forge. There’s no record of Rowley having a forge there.

“In 1769 he received an eviction order and petitioned plaintively against it. His memorial to the General Assembly pleads that Watson had purchased the land of the Nodines, April of 1748. He had entered upon and made improvements and built a sawmill supposing he had good title and other buildings.” (7)

A committee investigated and satisfied itself that what Rowley alleged was true. They recommended that he receive a grant to include his sawmill. The General Assembly approved and the grant was formalized in 1769. Moses had further trouble. In 1771, it was charged that he had deceived the Assembly and that the land granted him had been represented to be small in comparison to what it really was. After two more investigations, Moses was ordered to appear in New Haven ‘to say why the grant should not be declared void.’ Moses admitted to 900 acres. If this was smaller than the actual land claimed he was really gambling on obscurity. The General Assembly records show no disposition of the case but Kent Records show he became a public charge so that the grant probably had been rescinded. (8)

“Whereas the subscribers, selectmen of the town of Kent have inspected into the affairs of Moses Rowlee of Kent and find he is guilty of poor husbandry and mismanagement in his business and is thereby in great damage of wasting his estate, we do therefor appoint Abraham Fuller to be overseer over said Moses Rowlee to order and direct him in the management of his business until the selectmen of Kent aforesaid shall give further order.
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