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REVOLUTIONARY WAR TIMES
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 and the outdoor water well. Unfortunately, with the help of Tory spies, the British found their way to the home with bayonets in search of valuables. The raiders found nearly 100 pounds of silver and clothing which were hidden in the well. They even forced Sarah Mather to cook for them! However, they did not find the silver flatware 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 Dr. Moses Mather, an important figure in Darien's history. Moses Mather, a graduate of the Yale Divinity School, was hired as the first minister of Middlesex Parish Church, now the First Congregational Church of Darien, in 1744. He held that position for 62 years until 1806 when he passed at the age of . At that time, the minister was the preeminent leader in the town.
During the Revolutionary War, Moses Mather, a fierce patriot, boldly preached against the British, resulting in the July 22, 1781 raid of the church during service, just three months after the raid on the Homestead. More on the raid below.
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.
The murals above (top of page) were painted in the Darien Town Hall (originally a school) during the 1930s with funding from the Works Progress Administration.
The murals depict the infamous Sunday, July 22, 1781 raid of Middlesex Parish, when the church was surrounded by a party of Tories from Lloyd's Neck, LI, 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 (left above). 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.
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