The Oxen Adventure Series  LbNA # 1627

Placed DateJun 20 2002
LocationMansfield Center, CT
Found By burning feet
Last Found May 12 2016
Hike Distance?
Last EditedOct 4 2015

The Stone Stump and Soil Letterbox
Oxen Series
Mansfield Center, Ct. Tolland County
Planted: 6-20 -02
Leader of the Pack & Cowboy

Rated easy : unless you have oxen with you ( we left ours home )

We found ourselves just one days journey from the homeplace . The
sun was shining on us we would push on. We began this day in
Mansfield Center , the village once known as Ponde Place and the land
of the people of Uncas. A place of history even this day as we
recreate the journey of our ancestors. It is June 2002 a 300 th
celebration in full swing. We have come 20 miles with the teams of
oxen striding beside us. This morning a pause on the lawn of the
First Church of Christ Congreagational . The church Boaz attended in
1772 and we attend today.
Now if you are searching for a marker in history you might be
ambitious and leave your car here and walk as we and the oxen did. If
less ambitious or you have children in tow then drive up the Browns
Rd. hill from the church . Watching the stone wall on your left you
might view a date where the Dewing family signed their craftsmanship.
But that will be another box. Keep going there is room for just one
car barely at the Babcock Trail just after a blue ranch. Park right
by the phone pole. Or if a car there already you can backtrack to
the Holt trail parking or go on to Wolf Rock parking. If you reach
the Y in the road you have gone to far!
The oxen barely needed rest after 20 miles they still walk on
with vigor. We might have stopped here for a breather if they needed
one. Take the Babcock trail down into the shaded wood. This was not
always so. Where there are walls there was farm land. Connecticut was
stripped of trees by the 1800's. Imagine long ago cows grazing here
or a Mulberry orchard as they were the feed of silk worms an
important cottage industry in early Mansfield. Now think when this
land was deeded from the natives by Joshua son of great cheif Uncas
it was wooded. Settlers to these parts needed to build houses , and
barns, and roads and bridges. OXEN ,they cleared the land and hauled
the trees for building.
Walk down the trail until you see a tree growing V shaped-

Now that they had a place to live they needed farms to support them
OXEN cleared the stumps. They made them into fences and sometimes
burned them.
Walk down the trail to an old rotten stump

New England a picturesque place with stone walls - well next our
colonial ancestors needed crops planted and the OXEN tilled the
soil. Well for many years tilling the soil was a slow process as they
had to remove the stones in the way. So the OXEN dragged them away
and the great maze of New England walls rose from the fresh turned
Cross some seasonal stream beds full of those New England rocks.

Think of the miles walked to make a farm only to arrive and have all
the work of clearing, building and walls to lay before you. The
hardy folks who lived here long ago worked hard every day to make a
place to raise their family. Then came the bill for taxes, the
community grows and so does its needs. The OXEN were taken out to
work off the debt of taxes by helping build the roads.
Walk to a place where the path crosses a small stone wall. A
stone wall OXEN probably built while clearing the land. Look to the
right where a tree has fallen. Under the fork of the tree in the
space below is the Stone Stump and Soil letterbox.
Return up the hill to your car and marvel at how fast you travel
away. We did 1 mph with our oxen!

Hoofbeats from 1772
We start this trail day with our two teams of oxen Scooby and Shaggy
and Zeke and Shin. We our following our ancestors path from
Killingly to their new farm in Mansfield the year is 1772. Were there
maps and road signs then. There were few folks to ask directions of.
We are impressed by our ancestors strength in making this trip in
those times. Take out your wonderful full color map and look for
Goodwin Forest in Hampton , Ct. From Rte 6 drive in Potter Rd. Into
the park and up the road you will find the trail intersection. Head
off on the left trail after an mile imagining us with oxen you will
come to a little bridge and brook, we watered here. You are under Rte
6. Go a little further up the trail are your feet tired . We stopped
for lunch under a wooden trestle bridge . Cool and shady the oxen
chewed their cud and relaxed snitching a green leaf here or there. We
drank water had sandwiches , packed our litter and left hoofprints
from 1772 behind the second upright on the right under rock. Please
rehide the same. Our oxen are barefoot but in 1772 under the rough
conditions a blacksmith would have been hired to fit shoes to the
feet of oxen to protect them for the long journey. These trails are
well groomed and easy on feet hope your feet enjoy the journey.

The Village Letterbox
(Mansfield Center)
Day four in a great summer adventure in the walk of generations as
our family came from Killingly to Mansfield in 1772 and we recreate
it now in 2002. Two teams of oxen and two boys and Mom walking the
miles to home. Today we came from the natchaug river at Bassetts
Bridge Rd. in Chaplin to the Mansfield Hollow park. To find the
village letterbox come along and park at the main park entrance on
the road here - not the boat launch. We stopped here for a picnic
lunch and met with quite a few other letterboxers. From the drive way
look across the road and see the red trail . Your adventure is short
compared to ous and you will be well rewarded. Carefully cross the
road and enter the trail. Into a pine forest think of how the early
settlers of Mansfield used trees such as this for houses , barns ,
bridges, fences. And sold them for ships masts too. Walk into the
forested path for 27 adult paces. Look for a really tall pine. From
that head North to a 5 foot tall broken stump & piece of tree. The
village as drawn in Barbers Sketch book of early Ct. has become a
little piece of stamp and is hidden under large pieces of bark. Color
the stamp with the markers in box and breathe on it just before you
stamp it and you will see the village that Boaz Stearns walked to in
1772. Please rehide exactley so others may enjoy this piece of
history in Mansfield . Thanks to all those who helped hide this box
today on the oxen drive. Leader of the Pack