The Genesee Ghost Town

Located in North Madison and North Guilford, Connecticut

By Gary Nilson



Hidden in what is now a large watershed owned by the Regional Water Authority is a long lost settlement called the "Genesee". Evidence of the settlement remains as old cellar holes overgrown with brush and trees. More evidence of it remains in the old land records in Guilford and now Madison, Connecticut. It is a peaceful quiet area that stretches several square miles. The only access is by a permit that can be obtained from the Regional Water Authority in New Haven on 90 Sargent Drive. A local Madison resident and historian Merrit Cleaver did a lot of research on it years ago and wrote a small book on the subject. A copy of his book is at the Scranton Memorial Library in Madison for researchers to read. He made a hand drawn map of several of the locations of the cellar holes and documented who the owners were. Town folklore says that a group of settlers that assembled in Killingworth planned to move to upstate New York for more fertile lands. Shortly after starting their trip they broke an axle on one of their wagons near the Iron Stream. They couldn’t fix it so they sent someone back to get someone to make repairs. During their wait for the wagon to be repaired they apparently liked the surrounding lands of North Madison and inquired about purchasing it. Several supposedly did stay and tried farming the land there. Whether this is a true account or not has never been proved but what is known is that settlers of Killingworth, Saybrook, and Guilford did buy land about the same time shortly after the Revolutionary War. Several Guilford Land Records when describing location of the property actually mention "located in the Genesee". (Guilford Land Records Vol 18:196) The land is very rocky and not the most ideal for farming. The area was called Rockland for a reason. It appears that most of the settlers moved on for better lands. There were only a few houses left at the end of the 19th century.

The area was originally part of North Guilford called the Cohabit. It was called the Cohabit because the men would live together in temporary shelters. The members of the First Society would come up to the Cohabit on Monday and clear the lands and return on Saturday. In 1703 the Society of East Guilford was formed and called the Second Society. On April 24, 1704 Captain Abraham Fowler was appointed with others to lay out the Cohabition Land. In 1705 half of the Cohabit land was finally surveyed and divided. It wasn’t until November 27, 1707 that the town unamimously agreed that those having land in the Cohabit could have a home lot. Those who lived in North Guilford could have their lot to the east of Sugarloaf Hill. Those in North Bristol could have their lot on the hill at the head of the Neck River. In June 1725 the Society of North Guilford was formed called the Third Society. The Fourth Society of Guilford was formed in 1733 . The Fourth Society eventually disbanded. In 1757 the Fifth Society was formed and called North Bristol. This is were most of the Genesee settlement was located. East Guilford became Madison in 1826. North Bristol eventually became North Madison.

It is not known exactly when the area was known as the Genesee but it is mentioned in the Guilford Land records in the early 1790’s. The area had settlers long before it was called the Genesee. The land was divided up into lots in the 4th Division and later divisions. Many of the original proprietors are mentioned in the land deeds as the lots were sold or handed down in their families. There original proprietors were known to the 1st and 2nd societies as radicals and not wanting to conform to the laws and religious beliefs of the time. There were several landmark legal rulings in the courts on behalf of these settlers that wanted their own society that gave them and others of the time more religious freedom. We owe these settlers gratitude for their struggles for standing up and making their voices heard in the courts. The General Assembly in 1733 permitted these settlers to have their own 4th Division "within the bounds of the 1st Division".

Edward Parks from Killingworth was one of the first recorded settlers in the Cohabit. He was admitted as a planter in May of 1671. He married Deliverance French, daughter of Thomas French in 1669. He died in 1691.

The first recorded settler in the northern part of East Guilford was a Peter Blinn. He was born in Wethersfield in 1670, son of Peter Blinn. He purchased land in Guilford in 1698. He sold his property to Abraham Bishop on 24 Dec 1741. (Guilford Land Records Vol 6:187)(NEHGS Register 143:303-324)

When officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary War returned home from service they wrote in their journals stories of unbelievable fertile lands that were available in upstate New York in an area called the Genesee Valley. They claimed that ears of corn grew to 18" in length in that area! What may have delayed the eventual move by the settlers to upstate New York were numerous legal battles over the lands in the Genesee Valley. The lands were being purchased from the local Indians and disputes were common of the legal rights to the land. There were battles between the states of New York and Massachusetts over who had jurisdiction of the land. There are still legal battles today over the rights of the local Indians that owned the land originally. The treaty of Hartford in 1786 settled the battle between New York and Massachussets and the area started to open up for settlement. Connecticut purchased 100,000 acres due west of The Triangle Tract around 1797. With offers of cheap or free land for settlement many families left Connecticut for the opportunity.

A group of settlers from East Guilford left between 1806 and 1810 for Bergen, New York. They were: Deacon Benjamin Wright, James Munger, Joarab and Wickham Field, Deacon Timothy Hill, Joel Wright, Stephen Evarts, David Evarts, Capt. Phineas Parmelee, Nathan Field, Uriah Crampton, Capt. Samuel Bassett, Sela Wright, Bela Munger, T. Wilcox, William Munger, Harvey Field, Joshua Field, Deacon Levi Ward, Deacon John Ward, Colonel W. H. Ward, Deacon Pitman Wilcox, Hamilton Wilcox, M. C. Ward, General Daniel Hurlburt.

The list of settlers from Killingworth who settled in or near Bergen, New York before 1810 were: Josiah Pierson and his five brothers – Simeon, John, Philo, Linus and Russell, David Franklin and his four brothers – Ishi, Sylvanus, Daniel and Reuben, Harvey Kelsey, Captain Daniel Kelsey, Uriah Kelsey, Martin Kelsey, Charles Kelsey, Josiah Buel, Jesse Griswold, Thomas Stevens, Daniel Stevens, Job Seward, Abner Hull Sr., Ebbie Hull, Roswell Parmelee, Ebenezer Parmelee, Samuel Smith, John Smith, Phineas Nettleton, Major Nathan Wilcox, Deacon Seldon, Augustus Buel, Jonathan Wright, and Calvin Seward. Between 1814-1816 there were William Gorton, William P. Munger, Alvah Stevens, and Lathrop Farnham.


I remember one house that was still standing on the beginning of the Regional Water Authority land near Genesee Lane on Race Hill Road. It was abandoned and unsafe to enter so it was torn down. It was possibly the Noah Hotchins house. Genesee Lane is a newer road and development that is located where the old Bunnel Road started and made it’s way to Route 79.

The above is the cellar hole of Reuben Kelsey’s foundation that is on Goat’s Lot Trail


The following is a list of locations of cellar holes and other Genesee landmarks that were taken by a handheld Garmon GPS 40 in 1993. The accuracy of GPS units has increased over the years. I listed the owner of the piece of property that was identified in the Guilford Land Records and Merrit Cleaver’s map in the list. There are many unknown cellar holes also:

Orren Leach foundation date 1801……………….. N41 23’ 46.5 sec W72 39’ 13.9sec

Reuben Kelsey Foundation 1791………………… N41 23’ 36.5 sec W72 39’ 29.8sec

Stone Bridge over brook ………………………… N41 23’ 31.0 sec W72 39’ 33.0sec

Obedia Tyler foundation 1790 ………………… N41 23’ 29.0sec W72 39’ 32.0sec

Noah Hotchkin foundation 1801 …………………. N41 22’ 19.4sec W72 40’ 13.0sec

Morris Jones foundation 1786………...………….. N41 22’ 23.8sec W72 40’ 13.7sec

Jos and John Jones foundation 1803 ..……………..N41 22’ 25.1sec W72 40’ 21.5sec

Old School House (Race Hill & Coopers Lot Trail) N41 22’ 28.5sec W72 40’ 20.8sec

Elijah Stevens Sr. foundation 1803…………… .… N41 22’ 45.4sec W72 40’ 13.8sec

Elijah Stevens Jr. foundation 1797…………………N41 23’ 08.5sec W72 40’ 13.6sec

Noah Hill foundation 1790………………………….N41 23’ 10.1sec W72 40’ 08.7sec

Asher Thompson foundation 1798…………………..N41 23’ 12.8sec W72 40’ 13.1sec

Ezekiel Wright foundation 1796……………………N41 23’ 25.6sec W72 40’ 03.8sec

Foundation probably Ezekiel Wright’s barn……….. N41 23’ 23.5sec W72 40’ 07.3sec

Rice Page foundation 1811………………………….N41 22’ 26.9sec W72 40’ 27.6sec

Abel (John?) Snow foundation 1799………………. N41 22’ 01.8sec W72 41’ 34.4sec

Isaac Stone foundation 1774………………………..N 41 22’ 09.2sec W72 39’ 30.5sec

Aaron Stone foundation (near axe handle mill)…….N41 22’ 27.4 sec W72 39’ 03.2sec

Aaron Stone foundation…………………………….N41 22’ 35.4sec W72 38’ 51.3sec

Anson Bristol foundation 1802……………………..N41 23’ 16.8sec W72 39’ 29.4sec

Genesee Saw Mill (owned by Eliphalet Lester)……N41 23’ 18.6sec W72 39’ 32.9sec

Nathan Fowler foundation before 1797…………….N41 23’ 37.6sec W72 39’ 56.6sec

David Thompson foundation 1796………………. ..N41 23’ 39.5sec W72 40’ 13.4sec

Reuben Stevens foundation 1793…………………..N41 23’ 49.2sec W72 40’ 05.7sec

Jos Stone foundation (partially destroyed R79)……N 41 23’ 18.6sec W72 39’ 32.9sec

Unknown foundation (possibly Shelly)…………… N41 23’ 39.7sec W72 38’ 53.0sec

Unknown foundation (possibly Stone)…………….. N41 23’ 50.5sec W72 38’ 54.2sec

Unknown foundation (north of Nathans Pond)……..N41 24’ 07.7sec W72 38’ 50.0sec

Unknown foundation (300’ SE of Orren Leach)……N41 23’ 43.7sec W72 39’ 09.4sec

Unknown foundation …………………..N41 24’ 04.2sec W72 39’ 45.4sec

Unknown foundation……………………………… N41 23’ 46.2sec W72 40’ 05.1sec

R. or A. Stone foundation………………………… N41 24’ 30.3sec W72 39’ 15.1sec

J. Stevens foundation…………………………...…N41 24’ 01.4sec W72 40’ 17.2 sec

Unknown Stevens foundation…………………….. N41 23’ 58.6sec W72 40’ 17.5sec

Unknown foundation (Grandma Hall Trail)…….…N41 23’ 54.3sec W72 40’ 35.2sec

Unknown foundation (Old County Road)……..……N41 23’ 51.0sec W72 40’ 36.9sec

Unknown foundation (Old County Road)………….N41 23’ 47.9sec W72 40’ 54.9sec

Unknown foundation (Old County Road)…….. .. ..N41 23’ 48.7sec W72 40’ 56.4sec

Unknown foundation (Grandma Hall Trail)….. .…N41 24’ 26.0sec W72 40’ 36.6sec

Unknown foundation (Old Bangs Road)………… N41 24’ 18.7sec W72 40’ 37.4sec

Unknown foundation (Goats Lot Trail)…………..N41 23’ 05.1sec W72 41’ 43.6sec

Unknown foundation (Race Hill Road)…………..N 41 22’ 12.5sec W72 42’ 00.7sec

Unknown foundation (east of Rt 79)……………..N 41 22’ 46.0sec W72 38’ 26.3sec

Unknown foundation (east of RT79)……………..N41 22’ 51.3sec W72 38’ 23.9sec

Deacon Noah Benton (Twin Bridge Road)……….N41 20’ 49.9sec W72 40’ 23.9sec


Several of the settlers living in North Bristol served in the French and Indian War.


Several of the Genesee and North Guilford settlers served in the Revolutionary War. I would like to make a complete list but I am sure there might have been others that were overlooked. All of the people below owned land in and around the Genesee area of North Bristol:

  1. SGT David Thompson-Was a Sergeant in Captain Elisha Ely’s Company under Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs, also served in the 8th Company 4th CT Regiment commanded by Colonel Zebulon Butler, served in Captain Asa Lay’s Company under Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs, served in Captain Colefax’s Company 2nd CT Regiment commanded by Colonel Heman Swift, was at the battle of Harlem Heights,
  2. SGT Morris Jones- Sergeant in Captain Robert Hallam's company and Colonel John Durkee's Regiment.
  3. Reuben Kelsey-He enlisted in Killingworth on April 1, 1777 as a Private and served in Josiah Baldwin's Co., Colonel Ely's Regiment in Connecticut and Rhode Island. He also served in Captain Butler’s Light Horse Company in Horseneck, CT. He also served 8 months under Captain George Nettleton and was stationed at the "head of the Elk" in Maryland at the time of the surrender of General Cornwallis. He was at the battle of White Plains, New York. He served in New Jersey, West Point, New York, and Danbury. He moved to Newport in Herkimer Co., New York several years after the war.
  4. Timothy Scranton-Enlisted on April 1, 1777 in the company commanded by Captain Elijah Humphrey in Colonel Return Jonathan Meig’s Regiment. Also served the in 5th Company 1st CT Regiment commanded by Colonel Zebulon Butler. Served under Captain Asa Lay in the 6th CT Forces commanded by Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs.
  5. Amos Stevens-Enlisted in Saybrook and served in Colonel Swift’s Regiment for 2 years. Wife Rachel.
  6. Noah Hill-Served as a SGT under Captain Bristol. He answered the alarm to East Haven with Captain Bristol on July 7, 1779
  7. Nathaniel Stevens-Was an Ensign.
  8. Zebulon Hale-
  9. Nathaniel Fowler
  10. John Hopson - Served in Captain Daniel Hand's Company also as a First Lieutenant in Captain Peter Vails Company.
  11. LT Colonel Noah Fowler
  12. Noah Fowler Jr.-
  13. Ichabod Field - Served in Captain William Starr's Company in Colonel Samuel Canfield's Regiment at West Point, New York.-
  14. Eli Fowler- He was a Brigadier General in the militia after the war and served on the State Legislature for the town of Branford.
  15. Major Augustus Collins – He attained the rank of Major in the Revolutionary War. Was a Brigadier General in the militia after the war and served in the state legislature for the town of Guilford.
  16. Ichabod Field – Served as a Private in Captain Starr’s Company in the regiment commanded by Colonel Robinson. Moved to Thompkin’s Co., New York after the war.
  17. Benjamin Hall – Served in Captain Daniel Hand’s Company in Colonel Matthew Tallcott’s Regiment.
  18. Noah Hill - Was a Sergeant in the Revolutionary War and served under Captain Bezaleel Bristol.
  19. Samuel Hoyt - Answered the Lexington Alarm. Served under Ensign Jeheil Meigs.
  20. Timothy Leete
  21. Elijah Stevens - Was a Corporal and served under Captain Edw. Shipman in the 7th CT Regiment.
  22. William Stone - Served in Captain Hall's Company under Colonel Heman Swift's Regiment.
  23. Aaron Stone - Was a Corporal and served under Captain Daniel Hand's Company in Colonel Talcott's Regiment.
  24. Captain Isaac Stone – Was a Captain in Colonel Jonathan Latimer’s Regiment during the Revolutionary War.
  25. Samuel Hoyt – Was a Private in the 2nd Connecticut Regiment in the Revolutionary War. He was a Sergeant and Ensign in the 8th Connecticut Regiment.
  26. John Coan – He was a Private in Captain Peter Vail’s Company of Guards and was stationed in Guilford for defense of the sea coast. He served in the Battle of Guilford CT against the British.
  27. SGT David Dudley – Served in Josiah Baldwin’s Company in Colonel Ely’s Regiment as a Sergeant. Was an Ensign under Captain Steven Hall in Colonel Heman Swift’s Regiment.
  28. Timothy Rossiter - Was a private and answered the Lexington Alarm in Captain Noah Fowler's Company.
  29. Samuel Hotchkiss – Served in Captain Daniel Hand’s Co., Talcott’s Regiment, John Hopson and Augustus Collins were Lieutenants. Also as a Private served in Captain Samuel Parmelee’s Co. and Lieutenant Powers, commanded by Major Graves. Marched from New Haven through Fairfield and thence to Rye, New York. Encamped at Fort Washington and then to Valentine Hill at Westchester. Served in the battle of White Plains. Then was marched to North Castle. He was ordered again into service under Captain Daniel Collins Company of Guilford and marched to Danbury. He again served in Captain Daniel Collins Company of Colonel Worthington’s Regiment in General Ward’s Brigade and marched to Fishkill, New York at the North River.



1852 Map of what is generally considered the "Genesee Tract" outlined in RED

(part of the 1852 Whiteford Map for New Haven County)

(Right Click image and select View Image to view detailed image)

(Part of the 1859 Clark & Tackabury Map Showing several houses still standing.)

(Part of the 1895 Topographical Map of the area)

(Map by Charles Hubbard in the book Old Guilford showing the Genesee Country )


Foundation - Morris Jones-Noah Hotchkin

Foundation - Joseph and John L. Jones

Foundation - Obediah Tyler

Foundation – Reuben Kelsey

Foundation – Reuben Stevens

Foundation – Noah Hotchkin

Foundation – Unknown-County Road N41deg 24min 00.3sec W72deg 40min 15.3sec

Foundation – Unknown-County Road N41deg 23min 59.63sec W72deg 40min 16.6sec

Foundation – Unknown-County Road N41deg 23min 52.0sec W72deg 40min 34.6sec

Foundation – Unknown-County Road N41deg 23min 52.6sec W72deg 40min 37.0sec

Foundation – Stream with Dam near foundation-probably a saw mill near above location

Rock Covered Well – Near Reuben Kelsey’s foundation.

Stillwater Brook (Iron Stream) on Race Hill Road.

Old Stone Bridge (under newer wooden beams) on path to Obediah Tyler’s Foundation off of Goat Lot Trail.

Stream coming down the hill on County Road near one of the foundations.

Possibly a stone animal pen near Obediah Tyler’s foundation.



SGT Morris Jones b. 1735 Saybrook, Connecticut

 SGT David Thompson b. 20 Apr 1751 Guilford, Connecticut


Actual images of land records of the Genesee and some surrounding area deeds.


List of Landowners in the Genesee
Transcriptions and photographs of gravestones.
NEHGS Register - New England Historical and Genealogical Society-Boston MA
GVR – Guilford Connecticut Vital Records – Barbour Collection 1639-1850
GLR – Guilford Land Records (Town Hall of Guilford CT)
KVR – Killingworth Connecticut Vital Records – Barbour Collection 1667-1850
KLR – Killingworth Land Records (Town Hall of Killingworth CT)
Madison-Three Hundred Years By The Sea-Lauralee Clayton and Warner Lord-
The History of Guilford, Connecticut-Hon. Ralph D. Smith 1877
A Brief History of Madison, Conn.-Kathlyn Ryerson
History of Guilford and Madison, Connecticut-Bernard Christian Steiner
Field Genealogy-Frederick Clifton Pierce 1901
Book Two-The Family of John Stone – Truman Lewis Stone 1897
Bristol Family Genealogy-Extracted from the NY Genealogical and Biographical Record Vol 45-46
The Descendants of John Scranton – Erastus Scranton
Genealogical History of the Redfield Family – John Howard Redfield 1860
Early Connecticut Marriages as Found in Ancient Church Records – Frederick W. Bailey
Hale Collection – CT State Library –Numerous Madison, Killingworth, and Guilford cemeteries
Barbour Collection – CT State Library – Vital Records, Church Records, Probate Records
CT State Library- Land Records of Guilford, Madison, Durham, and Killingworth on microfilm
Annals of the West – Principal Events – James Albach 1858
Lineage Books – Daughter’s of the American Revolution – Several volumes
Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files –
Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783. Original data from: The National Archives –
Revolutionary War Service Records – Original date from: The National Archives –
Map – Genesee & Other Cellar Holes Identified With Original Owners – Merrit Cleaver 1985
Magic Map Library – University of Connecticut – Historical Map Collection
History of the Colony of New Haven and it’s Absorption into Connecticut – Edward Elias Atwater 1902
Rootsweb World Connect – Global Search – Various family trees of the settlers involved
Genealogy of the Descendants of John Eliot – Wilimena, Ellsworth, and George Eliot 1905
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record –Volume 45
Proceedings of the 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Guilford – 1889
A History of the Christ Episcopal Church in Guilford Connecticut – 1894
The Family of William Leete – Edward L. Leete 1884
Fifty Puritan Ancestors – Elizabeth Todd Nash 1902 (a former Madison, Connecticut resident)
US Census Records – Heritage Quest
From Puritan To Yankee-Character and Social Order in Connecticut 1690-1765-Richard L. Bushman
This is a work in progress and I have a lot of information to add including some partial genealogies of the families that lived in the Genesee Settlement. I hope the information is interesting and helpful to others researching this. Thanks,
Gary Nilson Wallingford, Connecticut Updated April 13, 2010