Lebanon, Connecticut, a mere dot on a road map of that state, is an
attractive New England town noted for its mile-long Common. The town
lies just to the northwest of Norwich and has its origins in the
expansion of Norwich residents to land beyond the “nine miles square”
they had bought from the Mohegan sachem Uncas. The first grants in the
area were given in 1663 to Maj. John Mason (ca. 1600-1672), deputy
governor of the Connecticut colony, and in 1668 to Rev. James Fitch (1622-1702),
minister of Norwich. These two men were doubly connected by marriage.
Rev. Fitch’s second wile was Mason’s daughter Priscilla, and John Mason,
Jr. married Abigail Fitch, the minister’s daughter by his first wile,
Abigail Whitfield (for some notable descendants of Rev. Henry Whitfield,
founder of Guilford, Connecticut, and his wife Dorothy Sheafe, parents
of Abigail, see NEXUS 10:71, 74). Maj. Mason and Rev. Fitch
were also among the founders of Norwich. The grants were in the
southwestern part of what is now Lebanon, an area the Indians called
Pomakuck, and lay between Deep River and Goshen Hill. Fig. 1 is a
reconstructed map of the area, based on maps in G. McL. Milne, Lebanon
(1986), p. 6.
The next significant grant was a strip of land a mile wide and about
six miles long on the Norwich border; this land became known as “Mr.
Fitch’s Mile,” “the Fitch and Mason,” or just “The Mile.” Then, in 1692,
four Norwich men bought a large tract from Owaneco, one of the sons of
Uncas; this area was called the “Five Miles Square” or simply the “Five
Mile.” The dashed line represents the Owaneco grant; the solid outer
perimeter is the present Lebanon boundary. The Lebanon Historical
Society has even located a 1693 corner marker known as the “Five Mile
Rock” at the southwest corner of the tract.
Traditionally, it has been thought that, a few years before selling
the “Five Mile,” Owaneco had given the “Mile” to Rev. Fitch. As
Frances Caulkins wrote in History of Norwich, Connecticut (1873)
following the description of James Fitch’s Pomakuck grant:
To this grant, Owaneco, the son and successor of Uncas, at a
subsequent period, in acknowledgement of favors received from Mr. Fitch,
added a tract Five miles in length and one in breadth. This munificent
gift was familiarly called the Mile, or Mr. Fitch’s Mile. 
Others have repeated this story: notably, Rev. Orb D. Hine in Early
Lebanon (1880) (pp. 9-10); the 1986 town history cited above; and
Robert Charles Anderson, who in a master’s thesis on the settlement of
Lebanon  cited a 1687 Norwich land record  which seemed to support
All of these accounts are incorrect. The land was not given by
Owaneco, but by Joshua, another of the sons of Uncas, and it was given
to Capt. John Mason, Jr. (1646-1676), not to Mason’s father-in-law Rev.
Fitch. The grant was made not in 1687 but eleven years earlier, in 1676.
The 1687 grant by Owaneco cited in the Anderson thesis was to Capt. James
Fitch, son of Rev. James Fitch, and was for land to the northeast of
Norwich. The 1687 tract does include (as the first of many items) a
piece “six or seven miles in length and a mile in breadth.” But that
piece was “bounded east on quienabaug River” (the Quinnebaug joins the
Shetucket River northeast of Norwich). The actual grant for what became
Mr. Fitch’s Mile was on 8 March 1675/6, three months after Capt. Mason
had received his” death wound” in King Philip’s War (he lived nearly a
year thereafter) and two months before the death of Joshua.
Lyme this 8th of March 1675/76 Know all men by These
presents that I Joshua Seachem of a great part of the Moheag
Country doe for divers good & valluable considerations & for
sufficient reasons moveing me thereunto doe freely give & bequeath
unto Capt John Mason of the Towne of Norwich a certaine Tracke &
parcell of land lyeing & being on the north west side of Norwich
Bounds bounded as followeth one mile from Norwich Bounds westward
wch is to be the breadth thereof, & in length to run
from Hartford Roade to Showtuckett River.... 
A strip of land a mile wide along the northwest border of Norwich,
from the road toward Colchester up to the Shetucket River, would be
about six miles in length along its inner border and seven miles along
its outer. How then did this land given to John Mason, Jr., become known
as “Mr. Fitch’s Mile” or the “Fitch and Mason”? We know that Mason gave
half the land to Fitch, because on 26 June 1695, his son John Mason III
(1672-1736), who lived at Stonington on the coast, formally
acknowledged the arrangement.
Whereas Joshua sonn of unkas Sacham of mohegen did in his life
time...confirm unto my honoured father Captain  John Mason
deceased...a certain tract of Land on ye west of Norwich Town
Bounds. ..and whereas my honoured father in his life time did Agree too
and with my Honoured grandfather the Revarant Mr. James Fitch of
Norwich [John III’s maternal grandfather] that my said
Grand father should petition the Genrall Court...that my Honoured
grandfather and his heir or Asigns should ye Moety [moiety]
or half that should be by the Court Granted.. and I finding that my
Grandfather hath obtained grant of y’ Court...To All Christian people to
whome these presents may come know you that I John Mason unto my
Honoured Grand father Grant unto the above named James Fitch...all the
Three or four years later, on 9 March 1698/9, James quitclaimed half
the land to the heirs of Capt. John Mason . Probably on the same day,
Rev. Fitch and his 26-year old grandson John Mason III agreed on a
division of the “Fitch and Mason” into six parts. Fig. 2 is an attempt
to reconstruct these divisions, based on the following entry in the
The first Devision of the Mile of Land west of present Norwich bounds
belongs to John Mason bounded on the River Northeast Abutting east
south east on Norwich bounds abuting west Northwest on Indian Land
Abutting South southwest on Land of Joseph Ranalds Isral Lothrop the
heirs of Jonathan Foster and Loutn Backus. 
This first division evidently had its southwestern end on a 440-acre
piece that James had already sold to Messrs. Backus et al. (“Foster,”
incidentally, was “Fouller” in the earlier transaction).
The second Devision of Land belongs to the Revernd Mr
James Fitch abutting north north east on the first Division three
hundred and twenty rods abutting west north west on Indian lands from
thence to Suscutonescut Brook Abutting south south east on said Brook
through out ye mile abutting east south east on Norwich
bounds from Suscakokomscut brook to the first Division[.]
The “three hundred and twenty rods” tells us that the strip was, in
fact, one mile wide.
The third division belongs to John Mason Abutting north northeast
Suscutomscut Brook throughout ye mile Abutting west North
west on Lebanon Land two hundred Rods Abuting south southeast on Norwich
bounds three hundred and twenty Rods Abuting on the highway which runs
from Lebanon Towne Street South South east untill it corns to the South
end of A swamp called Elderkins swamp Then it runs east south east
Across the mile[.]
This division includes the area from the brook down to the road that
now connected Norwich Town to the Lebanon area.
The fourth division of Land belongs to ye Reverflt M’ James Fitch
Abuting on ye high way North norwest and North North east
throughout ye mile Abuting west North west on Lebanon Land
three hundred & twenty Rods Abuting east southeast on Norwich bounds
two hundred Rods Abutting South south west on the farms layed out on
peases Brook three hundred and twenty Rods
Below the fourth division, the land is split into two strips.
The fifth division of Land belongs to John Mason Abuting east north
east on said farm eight score Rods Abutting North north west on Indian
Land from the said farm to Hockunum path or wethersfield Road Abuting
southward on ye abovesaid Road half the mile abutting south
south east on y sixt division
The “Hockunum path or wethersfield Road” is the road west which ran
through James Fitch’s Deep River property. After passing through
Colchester, it turned northwest toward Hartford. Both Hockanum and
Wethersfield are just south of Hartford, the former on the east side of
the Connecticut, the latter on the west.
The sixt division of Land belongs to the Reverant James
Fitch Abutting east north east on the farm of John Baldwen eight score
Rods Abutting North north west on the fift devision from ye
Above said farm to wethersfield path Abutting southward on the Above
said path half the mile Abutting South south east on Norwich Line this
Distribution of the Mile of Land west of Norwich Bounds made and Agreed
to the 9th day of March 1699[.]
The surveyor for the division was John Fitch, the minister’s son.
Rev. James Fitch received the even-numbered divisions, John Mason III
the odd ones. Note that the property extends beyond the Five Mile at
both ends (in fact it even extended a little past the present eastern
boundary of Lebanon, to the river). This extension accounts for the
change in the description of the outer boundaries of the divisions
between Indian land and Lebanon land.
The division explains why the grant came to be called the “Fitch and
Mason.” As to why it was also known as “Mr. Fitch’s Mile,” we can only
speculate that it was named after residents - Rev. James Fitch and
several sons actually lived on the band, while John Mason lived in
Mary E. Perkins wrote in 1895 that the Biblical name Lebanon “was
suggested to Mr. Fitch, by the height of the land, and a large cedar
forest” (M.E. Perkins, Old Houses of the Ancient Town of Norwich,
1660-1800 , p. 97). In the lower left corner of Fig. 1
there is a “Red Cedar Lake,” close to Rev. Fitch’s Deep River land. Rev.
Fitch also owned a “Ceder Swamp” in that area, which he later gave to
his children. On the other hand, an “Indian Trails” map, produced for
the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of Connecticut in
the 1920s, clearly shows a “Lebanon Path” leading northwest from
Norwich, supposedly in 1625; possibly, however, this designation and
date are errors of a modern cartographer. In sum, then, a major grant in
what became the town of Lebanon, Connecticut, dates to 1676, not 1687,
and was given by Joshua, a son of Uncas, to Capt. John Mason, Jr.,
son-in-law of Rev. James Fitch. One mile wide, six miles bong on one
side and seven on the other, this strip of band was divided into six
parts in 1698/9; three were given to the elderly Rev. James Fitch, and
three to his grandson John Mason III.
 F.M. Caulkins, History of Norwich, Connecticut (1873), p.
 R.C. Anderson, Genealogy and Social History: The Early
Settlement of Lebanon, Connecticut, as a Case Study (Thesis,
University of Massachusetts, September 1983), p.5.
 Norwich Land Records, 1:54-56.
 Ibid., 1:6.
 Lebanon Land Records, 1:115. Note: The original records
are numbered on the right-hand page only and are the numbers used here.
When these pages were microfilmed, numbers were assigned to both sides;
thus, for example, this record appears on p. 233 of the film version.
John T. Fitch, a tenth-generation descendant of Rev. James Fitch,
recently completed Puritan in the Wilderness: A Biography of the
Reverend James Fitch, 1622-1702, and is also author of A Fitch
Family History: English Ancestors of the Fitches of Colonial Connecticut
(1990), both published by Picton Press. He also contributed “A
Genealogical Puzzle,” relating to an ancestral Fitch church in Lindsell,
Essex, to NEXUS 4(1987):244-46. Interested readers may contact
him 4 Canal Park #712, Cambridge, MA 02141.