The Mather Homestead was built in 1778, during the Revolutionary War, by Deacon Joseph Mather, a deacon in Middlesex Parish. It was built as a "safe house" in a location thought to be far from incoming British soldiers, who raided towns along the Connecticut shoreline in order to wipe out ammunition reserves of the Continental Army and steal the valuables of the local residents. Not only were residents threatened by the British soldiers, but also by the many Tory spies who sided with the British.
While Deacon Joseph Mather was off fighting the war, his wife, Sarah, was home taking care of eleven children and helping their neighbors hide their valuables in the house. Unfortunately, with the help of Tory spies, the British found their way to the home with bayonets in search of valuables. Sarah had hidden many of the valuables, estimated at nearly 100 pounds of silver and clothing, into the water of a deep well for safekeeping, but the British found it anyway and even forced her to cook for them. However, they did not find the silver flatware owned by neighbors that was hidden in the "high-boy" chest dresser that still resides in the dining room of the home.
Deacon Joseph Mather was son of the Reverend Moses Mather, an important figure in Darien's history. Reverend Dr. Moses Mather was a graduate of the Yale Divinity School hired as minister of Middlesex Parish Church, now the First Congregational Church of Darien, in 1744. He held that position for 64 years. At that time, the minister was the preeminent leader in the town. During the war, Mather, a fierce patriot, boldly preached against the British, resulting in the capture of he and three of his sons who were held by the British for five weeks until they escaped. Reverend Moses Mather also made the case that part of Stamford would become Middlesex Parish, a case championed by Thaddeus Bell, and in 1820 it became an official town on the map.
"During the attack upon the Middlesex Meeting-House, Sally Dibble Defies the Royalists in Defense of a Young Boy"
"Sunday July 22nd, 1781, Capture of the Rev. Moses Mather & His Flock by Tory Raiders from Lloyd’s Neck, LI."
The murals above and below were painted in the Darien Town Hall (originally a school) during the 1930s with funding from the Works Progress Administration.
"The Shoreline of Darien" conjures a Colonial-era Darien, when wildlife was abundant and houses were few and far between, connected by narrow dirt trails.
Ominously, the murals also depict Tories and British soldiers arriving onshore by stealth to raid the Congregational Church. The dramatic murals to either side of the stage depict the infamous Sunday, July 22, 1781 raid, when the church was surrounded by a party of Tories, under Captain Frost, just as the congregation were singing the first tune. Dr. Mather and 50 men of the congregation were taken to the banks of the Sound, thrust into boats, and conveyed across to Lloyd's Neck, on Long Island, and then carried to New York and placed in the Provost Jail where some died. Rev. Mather and most of the prisoners were eventually released. In one mural, a woman named Sally Dibble defends a young boy. The two murals convey how relations between the Colonials and the British—and their sympathizers—could become brutish as war waged on. Rev. Mather and 50 members of his congregation were captured during the siege and imprisoned in New York.