Fern Strong – Daniel Bidwell (1652-1719)
Daniel Bidwell, born in 1652, was among the first generation actually born in the Hartford settlement and later among the first settler families on the east side of the Great River. His father, John, as part of the Hooker Party, was among the original founders of the Hartford Settlement.
As a proprietor and owner of large stretches of land, and important in local administration, he was able to establish a place of prominence for himself and his heirs in the ever-growing community. The location of the family homestead, then named Bidwell Lane, later became Burnside Ave.
As an enterprising man, he not only farmed but managed the first sawmill on the Hockanum River in what is now the Burnside section of town.
In matters of local government, the first meeting house of the parish was authorized in 1699, along with Daniel’s appointment as the first constable east of the river.
Fears of regional Native Americans resulting from the trauma of King Philip’s War, the single greatest calamity of Puritan New England, led to him being appointed to the committee that designated the four local houses required to be fortified for public protection, one of them being his own. But in reality this was a useless endeavor and merely gave a false sense of security.
In 1704, Daniel deeded some of his land for the home of Reverend Samuel Woodbridge, the first minister of Hartford’s new Third Parrish, with Daniel being a member of the important committee that appointed him.
He died in 1719 at the age of 67, as the progenitor of a family that maintained its prominence in the history of East Hartford well into the twentieth century.