Archaeological site in Barkhamsted earns State Archaeological
Barkhamsted, CT, January 15, 2009:
On December 3, 2008 the Connecticut Historic
Preservation Council designated the Lighthouse Archaeological Site,
located in People’s State Forest, Barkhamsted,
Connecticut, as a State
site is the location of the legendary “Barkhamsted Lighthouse,” home of James
Chaugham, a Narragansett Indian, and his wife Molly, a woman of European
descent. They were early settlers in
Barkhamsted, probably coming to the town in the 1770s. One version of the
Barkhamsted Lighthouse Legend tells of stagecoach drivers on the Albany to Hartford
route passing the cabin at night after traveling a long stretch of the journey
through desolate forest. Seeing the
faint light from Chaugham’s cabin, they would announce to the passengers,
“there’s the Lighthouse, five more miles to port!” The “port” referred to by the driver was New
Hartford, the next stop on the route, where passengers could get refreshment
and take a break from the bumpy ride.
The Lighthouse site is an important part of Barkhamsted
history not only for the popular legends, but also because the community that
became established there was a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic group of Native
American, African American, and Euro-American settlers that lived a different
life than that of most of the other residents of the town. The Lighthouse community persisted until the
mid-1800s. All that is left now are a
few small cellar holes and a tiny cemetery with simple grave markers.
In 1990, Central Connecticut University
archaeology professor Ken Feder conducted
field work at the Lighthouse site and later published the book A Village of Outcasts on his
findings. The site was nominated and approved for the
National Register of Historic Places.
Feder was instrumental in initiating the process to designate the site
as an archaeological preserve. The
approval of the Lighthouse Archaeological Site as a State Archaeological
Preserve is an important development because it recognizes the significance of
this historic location and will foster the continued preservation of the site
with an additional level of protection, including significant fines for
unauthorized excavation or other disturbances.
The site is part of the People’s Forest
and is administered by the State Department of Environmental Protection.
Barkhamsted Historical Society is pleased that the Lighthouse Community site has
been designated as a State Archaeological Preserve. The Historical Society plans to seek funding
for a study and further research at the site.
The goal is to publish a booklet on the Lighthouse Community that will
document and enhance the interpretation of this important part of Barkhamsted
For additional information see the Barkhamsted Historical
Society website at http://barkhamstedhistory.org