The Courage of Sarah Noble

When my children were little I read this story to them, The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh, I had no idea at the time that I and my children were related to Sarah and her father, John Noble.

Sarah Noble is related to all of us this way:
Sarah is Grandma Reita Geraldine Bishop’s 1st cousin 7x removed.
Sarah is Wes, Duane, Frank, Judy, Gene and Cheryl’s 1st cousin 8x removed.
Sarah is Teresa’s (and all of my first cousins) 1st cousin 9x removed.
Sarah is Daniel, Ian, Lindsay, Paul, Holly, Johnny, Nate, Rachel, Ethan and Abbie’s 1st cousin 10x removed.
Sarah is Daniel “Dano”, Aidan, Lillian, Callen, Leif, and Wyatt’s 1st cousin 11x removed.

Children of Thomas and Hannah (Warriner) Noble:
2. i. JOHN³ NOBLE, (Thomas¹), born Springfield, Mass. 6 Jan 1662; d. at New Milford, Connecticut; he married, first, ABIGAIL SACKET, she died in childbirth. He married, second, MARY GOODMAN, who was born about 1665.

Child of John and Abigail (Sacket) Noble:
3. i. ABIGAIL NOBLE, b. about 1683 in Westfield, Massachusetts

Children of John and Mary (Goodman) Noble: (They had 10 total.)
3.        FEMALE NOBLE
3.        FEMALE NOBLE
3.        FEMALE NOBLE
3.        JOHN NOBLE
3.        MALE NOBLE
3. viii. SARAH NOBLE, “The Courage of Sarah Noble” by Alice Dalgliesh.

3. viii. SARAH NOBLE, (John², Thomas¹), was born at Westfield on 22 March 1699. She married about 1721, TITUS HINMAN, JR. of Woodbury.

The Settlement of New Milford: a Noble Descendant Looks Back; Was it Courage or Economics?
By Kristin Nord, The Litchfield County Times

     On June 6, 1706, John Noble bought his right to land in New Milford from Richard Bryan, a Milford land speculator, so that he might start a life, according to the historian, Samuel Orcutt, “in the dense, sublime, primitive forests, nearly on the western border of Connecticut, where unto that day, none by the wild Native American had made a habitation for the rest and security of man.”
A year later, Mr. Noble set off with his eight year old daughter, Sarah, to establish a homestead amidst the Native Americans. His first dwelling was a hut; the second, Mr. Orcutt reports, “a commodious House at the south end on the Town Platt,” near Bennitt Street today.
The land purchased by Mr. Noble and others had been given plantation status by the General Court, Connecticut’s ruling body, and the area was established as a joint stock corporation, with interests divided into 104 parts or shares.
Mr. Noble had chosen to leave his home in Westfield, MA, when he was 45 years old, and he would live in New Milford just seven years before he would be the first adult settler to die and be buried in Center Cemetery. But while he was alive he was prosperous; he was the first town clerk elected to office, a surveyor of lands and a member of the Woodbury Church. His daughter, Sarah, is believed to have become the first schoolmarm; his step son Stephen, one of the seven other children, became the captain of the first military company in town.
But there are many of us in the 20th century who wonder why Mr. Noble, who was believed to have run a trading post in Deerfield, MA, before settling in the Springfield, Westfield, MA area, would choose to move again so late in his life. Two-hundred and seventy-five years later, Julie Blackman Barrows, a direct descendent of John Noble, searches for an answer.
“I would not be at all surprised but what it had to do with the fur trade,” speculates Mrs. Barrows, a New Milford resident who is the director-curator of the Scott Fanton Museum in Danbury.” After the third generation, the Nobles had become tanners, and they continued in the trade until the 1850’s One branch went into shoemaking and another branch became tailors, but they were all involved in the clothing trades all along.”
The inventory in John Noble’s will indicates he had half a share in a worf pit; and while the colonists had trouble with wolves, Mrs. Barrows believes the pit probably supplemented his income. She wonders if his decision to settle here was not as courageous as it was entrepreneurial. Historical landmarks from John Noble’s time—, the Great Falls, where the Native Americans have fished, and the rich, river, bottomland known as “the Indian fields,” still were visible. The land was farmed until the late 1960’s when it was sold for commercial development.
Even a history buff like Mrs. Barrows, who also is related to the Bostwicks, another of New Milford’s 12 founding families, however, has trouble putting “flesh” on the Noble ancestors. New Milford’s town records go back uninterrupted to the town’s plantation days, but beyond town records, nothing much from the family, with the exception of some heirlooms, remains.
Throughout the centuries, however, it is not the men, but the women, who have intrigued her. The portrait of one aunt, painted by Ralph Earl, hangs in the Historical Society building.
These women, from the missionary whose daughter was the first white baby born on the Hawaiian Island of Kaui, to the aunt in the portrait, “were handsome and strong-willed,” she said; but they’re elusive.”
The great River was the Housatonic. It was always called the Great River before 1800 on the New Milford records. The name Housatonic originated near Stockbridge, Massachusetts where it was interpreted by the Dutch of New York State and written “Wustenhuck”
“For one thing, it wasn’t as difficult to travel as people thought,” Mr. Barrows said, “Tavern history goes back at least that far, so there were inns along the route, at least until you got to Woodbury. (1)
“Danbury and Woodbury had been settled before then, and New Milford offered excellent fishing, a good water supply, an sheltered area in which to live and friendly Native Americans, willing to share the land.”
An the town clerk, the records show that John Noble was literate, Mrs. Barrows said, “He could, for instance, write better than his grandson could.”
“He seems to have been well thought of, but there aren’t that many references except at the Town Hall. New Milford is luck; the town records go right back to the formation of the original plantation.”
As a child, Mrs. Barrows lived with her parents and grandparents for many years in the large cream-colored Italianate building that now houses the Danbury Savings and Loan. The history of education in New Milford is scanty. The early settlers were busy with problems such as erecting fences, building roads and getting a grist mill in operation for grinding flour. The children probably received instruction at home or in neighborhood “Dame Schools”. But in the fall of 1721 there were 25 families in New Milford, and it was voted that a school would be opened for four months during the winter. We do not know where the first school was, but we do know how big it was: “Twenty feet long, sixteen feet wide and seven feet between joints”. This information was from the minutes of town meeting in 1725.
Sarah Noble was apparently well educated and was one of New Milford’s earliest teachers. Sherman Boardman, son of Reverend Daniel Boardman, mentions in his letter that he had attended school at which Sarah was “my school Dame”.
The people had no electricity, no cars and no phones. There was no library in New Milford until 1796 and it was called the “Union Library”. It had 355 books. You probably have that many just in your classroom. Some of the foods were hickory nuts, wild turkey and deer.
There were horses-“one well-known path traveled on horse-back was horse-beat, bu the soldier scouts watching for the Canadian Indians in 1718, under the command of Captain Stephen Noble (Sarah’s older brother). This was near Mount Tom in New Milford. It was against the law to trade horses on the Sabbath Guarding Mountain is on the west side of the Housatonic, opposite New Milford village. It was so named from the fact of the Native Americans building signal fires on it to guard against an attack by the Mohawk Native Americans. These guarding Native Americans must have been Sarah’s Native American friends.
Fort Hill is where the Native American burial place was, at the foot of Guarding Mountain. This is where John Noble first built a hut. It was a palisade house (a house secured as a fort). The house was built at the foot of the hill-the “Indian fort stood where he lived with his little daughter for some time, until some gentleman asked him to guide them to Albany, so he left his daughter in care of a squaw, fourteen miles from any white people, and was absent two or three weeks; when he returned he found her kept very neat and clean”. Sarah retold this story to her sister Margaret, and to one of the students so this information is in two separate sources. Maybe this was Tall John’s family.
It says in one book that the site of the hut is still visible, but the book is 80 years old. The second Noble house was located at the west side of the Green near Bank Street. It was in this house that the entire family lived when they arrived in the fall of 1707 or spring of 1708.
John Noble was 45 years old when he came to New Milford, and it is believed he ran a trading post in Deerfield, Massachusetts and did some fur trading. On his land deed he is called a “planter”. He was the first Town Clerk elected to office. He was also a “surveyor of

lands” and a member of the Woodbury church in these first years. He had to travel 28 miles through the wilderness in which the narrow Native American trail was the only path, to attend church. When he died in 1714, he was the first white person to be buried in the little New Milford graveyard.
Sarah did not have a middle name, and she may not have really had a doll called Arabella. That may have been added by the author of, “The Courage of Sarah Noble“. But she must have had a doll of some sort as all little girls have and her name could have been Arabella. But maybe it was Patience or Sarah or Rachel, Ann or Lucy, for those were the names she gave her real daughters when she was mother herself.

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One Response to The Courage of Sarah Noble

  1. Sarah Malone says:

    Lovely. Just came across “The Courage of Sarah Noble” – and am enjoying it. As former resident of Roxbury CT, I was very familiar with New Milford and environs. But even as current resident of Central Pennsylvania, and an enjoyer of hiking there, I just can’t imagine walking – or riding horseback – 28 miles on an Indian trail in the woods to get to church on Sunday!

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