Person:John Slafter (1)

John SLAFTER
b.Abt 1662 Wales
d.Bef 1754 Willington, CT
  1. John SLAFTERAbt 1662 - Bef 1754
  • HJohn SLAFTERAbt 1662 - Bef 1754
  • WAbiah (1)
m. 16 Oct 1686
  1. Mary SLAFTER1688 - 1793
  2. Anthony SLAFTERAbt 1690 - 1723
  3. Elizabeth SLAFTERAbt 1693 -
  4. Samuel SLAFTER1696 - 1770
  5. Joseph SLAFTERAbt 1698 - Abt 1787
  6. Sarah Slafter1700 - 1778
  7. Moses Slafter1702 - 1778
  8. Abigail SLAFTERAbt 1704 - 1738
  9. Benjamin SLAFTERAbt 1706 - Abt 1760
  10. James SLAFTERAbt 1708 - 1732
Facts and Events
Name John SLAFTER
Gender Male
Birth? Abt 1662 Wales(probable loc)
Marriage 16 Oct 1686 to Abiah (1)
Death? Bef 1754 Willington, CT

From Memorial of John Slafter:

1 JOHN SLAFTER
The emigrant ancestor of the [Slafter] family, which is the subject of these pages, whose name we give above, came to this country from Great Britain, a vague tradition says from Wales, as near as can be ascertained not far from 1680. He appears to have settled at Lynn, Mass., and to have reared a family of at least ten children. The records of Lynn are exceedingly meagre, and his name has not been found in them. His residence in Lynn is a matter of direct tradition from his grandchildren, who were born before his death, and who could hardly be misinformed on this point; and, moreover, this tradition is corroborated by the record of the marriage of several of his children in that town.
As early as 1716, he removed to Connecticut, and purchased that year a hundred acres of land on the Willimantic River, in the town of Mansfield. Two years later, he united with others in the joint purchase of a tract of land containing about twenty-eight thousand acres, in the north part of the same town. At the expiration of four years this property was sold. On the second of May, 1721, he made another joint purchase of land on the same stream, about a mile and a quarter beyond the northern limits of Mansfield, being a tract of land included, or supposed to be, in the old township of Windham, where the deed is found recorded. In 1724, the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut was petitioned to set off this tract, together with a part of Ashford, into a new town. His name appears among the petitioners, with those also of his two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. This being unsuccessful, anther petition was preferred in 1727. On this appears his own name, and those of his sons, Moses and Benjamin. The ground of the petition is alleged to be the inconvenience and dangerous consequences of being too remote from any place of public worship. "Being sensible," say the petitioners, "of the great loss and unspeakable we are under, by reason of dwelling so remote from the public worship of God, as also of what fatal and destroying consequence our so continuing may be to posterity, we do, therefore, with an eye to our present comfort and future everlasting felicity, of us and ours, with a desire, also, to advance the interests, and enlarge the kingdom of our blessed Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, in this wilderness, and chiefly aiming in all these, at the glory of God, humbly address ourselves to your honors, begging that your honors would so far consider our deplorable state and condition as to find out some way for our relief." This appeal had the desired effect, and the town of Willington was incorporated.
Immediately after the incorporation of the town, he received a deed of his portion of the joint purchase of 1721, which is found recorded among the earliest records of the town. The boundaries as laid down are specially stated to include the "mansion-house of the said Slafter." On this estate he appears to have lived the remainder of his life. The farm is situated on the eastern bank of the Willimantic River, and is about a mile and a quarter above the southern limits of the town. This river runs from north to south, and forms the boundary between Tolland and Willington. Half a mile abve the northern limits of the farm, this charming little stream deflects to the east, sweeping round in a graceful curve, forming a complete semicircle, and then resumes its southern course. The railway, which runs along the eastern bank of the river, passes over the river on covered bridges, both at the northern and southern extremity of the semicircle. The lower end of the southernmost bridge rests on the ancient Slafter estate. Easterly from the river's bank, the land rises abruptly, forming an elevation of a hundred and fifty feet in height, as measured by the eye, and then becoming depressed, passes into an undulating plateau. A few rods east of the summit was the "mansion-house" referred to in the deed. It stood in a sunny and protected spot, looking out upon the waters of the nimble Willimantic in their lively flow around the semicircle at the north. The writer visited the spot in 1862. The estate was then owned by Mr. Henry C. Gurley. The "mansion-house" had disappeared, but the walls of the ancient cellar were still in their place. Near by was the decayed trunk of an ancient apple tree, still standing, but in the last stages of decay, the veteran sentinel of more than a hundred years. Its broad base and time-word aspect indicated that it was planted in the time, and probably by the hand of the emigrant ancestor himself. A few branches were springing from the roots, from which was selected a walking stick, as a memento of the revered ancestor who had the courage and energy to seek a home in the wilderness of America.
At the organization of the town of Willington, soon after its incorporation in 1727, John Slafter was appointed its first grand juror, to which office he was re-elected several years in succession. He was, also, by a vote of his fellow citizens, as appears from the record, clothed with the offce of tithingman, an inferior magistracy which has now gone entirely into disuse; but in New England, for a hundred and fifty years, it was esteemed of great local importance. To this officer was committed the guardianship of the Lord's day. His jursidiction extended over the township, and it was his duty to suppress all secular labor, or travelling except in passing to and from places of public worship. Sometimes, however, he was restricted to the oversight of a certain number of families designated by name. Such persons, therefore, were placed in the office, as, by their wisdom, moderation, dignity and age, were able to exercise a controlling moral influence, irrespective of the legal authority with which they were invested.
Among the early enterprises of the new town of Willington was the settlement of a clergyman. At a public meeting, a vote was passed inviting a certain clergyman to officiate for the term of three months. To this Mr. Slafter took the lead in entering a protest. The ground of his opposition was, doubtless, either a want of satisfaction with the candidate, or disapprobation of any temporary arrangement. For, afterward, at the same meeting, an order was passed for the immediate and permanent settlement of a parish minister. This order, to which he appears to have made no opposition, was carried into effect, and the incumbent remained in the useful discharge of his office till the termination of his life.
Our emigrant ancestor, now probably advanced in years, does not appear again in the records of the town, except as paying taxes for the support of the parish minister.
In 1739, he transferred his estate in equal parts to his two sons, Moses and Benjamin, that part of which the "mansion house" stood being assigned to Moses. Nine years afterward the sons exchanged estates, and a year later Moses disposed of his portion and removed to Ellington, then a part of Windsor, Ct., and Benjamin became proprietor of the homestead. It is presumed that, in the transfer of his estate to his sons, he retained a life interest in it, agreeably to a very general custom in New England, thus securing to the last the home of his earlier years, with the tender ministrations which filial affection alone can render.
In person the emigrant ancestor is said, by tradition, to have been not above ordinary height, with broad shoulders, a powerful osseous frame, overlaid and knit together with strong elastic muscles.
On one occasion, at least, he is reputed to have made proof both of his personal courage and physical strength. During his abode in Massachusetts, the forests were infested with Indians, who made frequent incursions upon the English settlements, often carrying terror and death to the cottages of the emigrants. Returning on one occasion after a brief absence, he found his home invaded by two athletic savages, whose insolent threats and gestures had put his whole household in fear of instant death. Assuming the authority which belongs to the lord of the castle, they were at once ordered to leave. Obedience to this command was haughtily refused. Fastening his eye upon the leader, the second injunction was followed, with the quickness almost of lightning, by a blow from his clenched hand, put forth with all the energy of his powerful frame, which laid the savage prostrate at his feet. The other, awed by this lesson, showed only signs of fear, and with humble promises on the part of both they were permitted to depart, and never afterward ventured to repeat their visit.
The time of his death is not known. As his son Benjamin sold, in 1754, the estate which he had received from him, it is conjectured that his death occurred anterior to that date. He was probably buried in the ancient cemetery in Willington. There are very few inscriptions on the headstones of the early burials, and none is to be found bearing his name. There is a very clear and direct tradition of his great age, of his last illness and death, and of the veneration and esteem in which he was held in Willington, long after he had passed away.
References
  1.   Slafter, Rev. Edmund Farwell. Memorial of John Slafter: with a genealogical account of his descendants, including eight generations. (Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States|Boston: Press of Henry W. Dutton & Son, 1869)
    pp. 1-4.