“Sufferers’ Land” Post #13 – Clarissa Benedict


Clarissa Benedict in later years

Clarissa Benedict came to Norwalk at the age of twenty. She was born in North Salem, New York in 1796, and although she spent much of her childhood and youth in Danbury, Connecticut, she and her family also lived for a time in New York City.
A photograph taken later in life shows a woman with regular features and a kindly expression. [1] Contemporary accounts described her as comely and compassionate.

Mary Ann Morse, who attended school with Jonas and Eliza Ann Benedict, recalled that Clarissa Benedict came down to watch with and take care of my mother, who was very sick. I looked upon her as some superior being, for I had never seen young ladies much, and she was so gentle and lovely that she won my heart at once. [2]

After moving so much as a child, the trek into the wilderness probably was not as wrenching for Clarissa as we might expect; certainly better than it was for young women like Laura Denton, who left lifelong friends, as well as family. Still, the adventure must have been trying for someone Clarissa’s age.

Life on the frontier differed greatly from that in settled communities of Connecticut. The first winter must have been especially hard, alone with her family on the sand ridge more than a mile from the nearest neighbor. However, starting in the spring of 1818, a community began to take shape on the sand ridge and opportunities for entertainment became available. Young men indulged in skating and swimming-races, foot races, huskings and shooting matches; gallantly accompanying the pretty girls in spring to the sugar camp, or in autumn along the river banks and hills to gather in the yearly supply of nuts and wild fruits. The more advanced and dignified indulged in hunting, fishing, cabin raisings, chopping matches, and rolling bees.

Women, young and old, found diversion and companionship while participating in the more elevated pastime of quilting, sewing bees, pumpkin pearings, singing schools and sleigh riding. [3]

Young men and women found these meetings a good place to get acquainted, and many of these liaisons blossomed into romance. Perhaps it was at one of these events that Clarissa Benedict met her beau.

Please like this post and let me know what you think in the comments. Thank you.

GO TO NEXT POST – The Gallup Family in Norwalk

Index of Posts

[1] Photograph of Clarissa Benedict is in The Firelands Pioneer, December 1899, p. 541.
[2] Description of Clarissa Benedict as a young woman are from “Recollections of Northern Ohio,” by Mrs. John Kennan, The Firelands Pioneer, October 1896, p. 85.
[3] Diversions for men and women on the frontier are described in The Firelands Pioneer, June 1858, p. 6

© 2009 by David W. Barton. All rights reserved

One Response

  1. […] with Platt Benedict’s daughter Clarissa, it was probably during one of these social occasions that Calista Tuttle fell in love: with a […]


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