Smedley’s Stone Update

This week Bill Lee appeared before the Board of Selectmen to seek permission to repair Samuel Smedley’s gravestone:

Lee said he was inspired by a photo in Kuhl’s book to restore Smedley’s grave site. The original grave marker in the historic Beach Road cemetery was broken in half, and cannot be repaired. Lee has already set up a trust for donations to replace the marker.

To do so, Lee first needs permission from the Board of Selectmen and the Representative Town Meeting to make changes to the town-owned cemetery. The selectmen approved his request Wednesday, and the RTM will vote on the petition later this month. If they sign off on the plan, Lee will go to a public hearing in probate court for permission to redo the grave site.

The Daily Fairfield article contains two big mistakes. First, the gravestone will be reused, not replaced. The statement that the original “cannot be repaired” is false; the gravestone is going to be refurbished and reinscribed.

Secondly, we will not be appearing before the RTM because none of the money to repair the gravestone will come from the town. The majority of funds will source from private donations. Any public money for the project — probably minimal — will come from the state and/or federal government due to Smedley’s status as a war veteran.

The next step is the public hearing at 3pm on Wednesday, January 11 Thursday, January 12 at the Judge of Probate’s office in Sullivan Hall, where we will formally request the judge to allow the stone to be removed to the refinisher’s workshop. Bill and I will both be there so stop by if you have any questions.


Easton raid. Readers may recall my coverage of the 2008 police raid in Easton, Connecticut, wherein cops hungry for a big drug bust stormed into a house, killed one of two occupants — and found only residual drug traces. Susana Guizan, the mother of the slain man, filed a civil suit against the six towns which contributed men and materiel to the raid. A newspaper reported the case was supposed to go to trial in October 2011 but the attorney for the Guizan family told me it is currently scheduled for May or June of this year. Discovery is complete and the court is now litigating motions for summary judgment.

Smedley’s gravestone. Permitting is underway to have Samuel Smedley’s fallen gravestone removed and reinscribed. Vanguard Bill Lee, who painted the art composing the cover of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer, is scheduled to appear before the town selectmen this week as part of the process. While there’s no doubt Smedley will have a refreshed gravestone sometime this year, I don’t believe it will be ready by June 13.

Paddleboarding. My boys and I had another strong season of adventure, albeit one cut short by Irene and the ensuing high bacteria counts in the water. Alas, the increasing mass of my two lieutenants means we’re edging closer to our Versa Board’s maximum weight allowance of 300 lbs. The Versa is still great on rivers or in the marshes but on the Sound with all three of us it’s like paddling a rock. I think this year I’ll pick up an inexpensive inflatable board for my oldest and then either keep the Versa for a final summer or sell it and buy a lighter board for me and the youngest. So if you’re in the market for a used but well-maintained Versa Board, make me an offer. Unique visitors in 2011 were nearly double those in 2010, with just under 37,000 more hits as well. The top five countries of origin also made more sense than in 2010: USA; Germany and the Netherlands (logical considering my last name); and China and Russia. These last two results can only be a combination of hackers, spammers, and government censors. Seriously — you should see the spam queue.

Mark Your Calendar

I’ve added two new dates to the Upcoming Appearances page.

I’ll be signing copies of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer at the Fairfield University Bookstore in downtown Fairfield (1499 Post Road) at 1pm on Saturday, December 17. It makes a great Christmas gift!

And on February 13th, 2012, I’ll be speaking about Smedley, Defence, prize division, and the fall of the Connecticut state navy at the Westport Public Library.

Stratford Historical Society, Nov. 18, 7pm

Friday I’ll be at the Christ Episcopal Church in Stratford, Connecticut, delivering my presentation on Samuel Smedley, prize division, and the rise and fall of the Connecticut state navy. The evening is hosted by the Stratford Historical Society. If you’re in the vicinity, come on out — you can learn about Connecticut’s Rev War history and still have time afterwards to hit the discothèque. Info here.

My Interview on

Nick Gillespie at graciously asked to interview me about Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer. This was back in July; the outside temperature was close to triple digits, which is why my shirt is open to the navel; and if you squint you can see the sweat drying on my forehead. But I’m very grateful to Nick, cameraman Josh Swain, and most of all editor Meredith Bragg, who cut the video so that I don’t resemble the blabbering idiot I was during the interview. Thank you!

Connecticut River Museum, Nov. 3, 5:30pm

I’m flattered to be the speaker for the Connecticut River Museum’s annual Horace Beck Lecture next week. I will be discussing Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer and specifically the method of prize division that was the undoing of the Connecticut state navy during the American Revolution.

If you’ve never been, the Connecticut River Museum is a wonderful place on the banks of the Connecticut River focusing on the area’s 18th- and 19th-century maritime trade. It has a lot of great hands-on exhibits for children, including a 1:1 model of the submarine Turtle that kids can hop into and pretend to operate. It’s also right down the street from the gastrotacular Griswold Inn.

The presentation begins at 5:30pm on Thursday, November 3. All the deets here.