On May 19, 1780, my 5th-great-grandmother, Thankful (Nickerson) Weekes, was in Harwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, giving birth to my 4th-great-grandfather, her last child, Isaac Weekes. An anonymous recorder of our family history noted that this particular day was “The Dark Day.” My curiosity aroused, I was off to do some research.
What I found is that it is now known that there were massive forest fires burning in the western territories, which caused a smoky cloud to cast itself over the New England states. It was so dark that day that New Englanders had to light their candles and lamps at noontime. Of course then they had no way of knowing the reason for this ominous darkness during the day.
On Wednesday as I listened to Gov. Malloy’s inaugural speech, I was pleased that he went into our state’s contributions to history and that he mentioned some of our well-known historical and literary figures: Harriett Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Eli Whitney, and Prudence Crandall. And then I really perked up when he mentioned The Dark Day! This is what he said:
Perhaps nowhere was our character better defined than by Abraham Davenport of my hometown of Stamford when he spoke about The Dark Day in 1780. He was a public servant in Hartford when a mysterious episode brought darkness to the daytime skies throughout New England. There was a prevailing belief that Judgment Day was upon the land, threatening a shutdown of the Legislature, when Davenport stood and said:
“I am against an adjournment. The Day of Judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”
Today, we could use a few candles. Because as most people in Connecticut know, ours is not a pretty picture.
Another history buff! 🙂