eBay Thursday: A Woodbury Crime of Old; A Middlebury Fashion Find

This history lesson features a Woodbury crime, Benjamin Stiles, slavery and the U.S. Constitution.


Sometimes, something really wild shows up on eBay. This paper document from 1775 might fall into the category of "ephemera," except that Merriam-Webster defines ephemera as "something of no lasting significance" or a paper item originally meant to be discarded after use, but which has since become a collectible.

I'm sure this document detailing a crime in Woodbury does not fall into the realm of "useless." The seller, revatom, delivers a fine history lesson on the eBay listing.

The one-page document was signed by Benjamin Stiles (1720 - 1797), a legislator, lawyer, militia officer and owner of a slave who fought in the Revolutionary War and won a Merit Badge.

The document was signed by Amos Clark, the sheriff's deputy.

"The document directs the sheriff to summon Jonathan Munger of Woodbury to appear before Stiles at his dwelling house in Woodbury to answer to Stephen Galpin of Woodbury for an assault by Munger upon Galpin's son, Stephen Curtiss Galpin," according to the eBay listing.

Part of the description of the assault itself reads: "... the said Jonathan then in the evening of the [January 6, 1775] at the said Galpin's dwelling house... by force and arms made an assault on the Body of Stephen Curtis Galpin... an infant under the age of twenty and one years and he the said Jonathan did then and there by the same force with his fist and feets beat and wound the said Stephen Curtis in sundry parts of his Body by reason of which wounds, he the Plaintiff was at great cost for medisons [sic- medicines] and also loss of services which he will reasonably expect of and from the said Stephen Curtis... the said Stephen Curtis continuing all the time in the peace of God and the King by all which wrongful doings of the Defendant the Plaintiff is damaged [to the extent of] one pound lawful money, and for the cost [of bringing this suit]... you are also to notify Lewis Munger... the natural father and guardian to the said Jonathan that they appear before Benjamin Stiles... Benjamin Stiles, Justice of peace."

Stephen Galpin born in 1762, was only 13 when he was assaulted by Jonathan Munger. He died in Sundry, Ohio, but a year of death was not noted.

Stiles' Background

According to the eBay listing, Stiles graduated from Yale University in 1740 and practiced law in Southbury.

His sister, Mary, married Revolutionary War Colonel Benjamin Hinman. In 1749, Stiles was appointed by the crown as the surveyor for Fairfield County and also for Litchfield County after its formation in 1752.

He served as deputy to the Connecticut Assembly from 1754-71 and was appointed a captain of militia in 1764.

In 1775, Stiles was suspected of being too conservative in his views and was cited before the General Assembly for contempt of government, the eBay listing stated.

"No specific action was taken against him because his brother-in-law was Colonel Hinman, and he was also a friend of Ethan Allen (of Green Mountain Boys fame) and other patriots," according to the eBay listing. "Further, his son, Benjamin Stiles, Jr., (1756-1817) was a member of the militia as was his wife's slave, Jeffrey Brace."

Jeffrey Brace

Brace gained notoriety during the Revolutionary War. A biography on Brace was published in 1810 titled "The Blind African Slave, or memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, nicknamed Jeffrey Brace."

"In short, Brace, captured in Africa at age 16 and shipped to America, had a few cruel masters before he was purchased by Benjamin's wife, Mary, in 1768," according to the eBay listing. "Prior to Mary's purchase, Brace, who was 6'3" and extremely strong, fought as an 'enslaved sailor' in the French and Indian War, fighting mostly in Cuba."

Mary reportedly taught Brace to read and write. Brace won a Badge of Merit after serving with the Continental Army for more than five years. After the war, he was honorably discharged and freed from slavery, according to the eBay listing.

"He then returned to Woodbury where he lived with Benjamin Stiles Jr.," revatom stated in the listing. "A year later, Brace left the Stiles and moved to Vermont, where slavery was illegal, got married, raised a family, changed his name back to its original African and eventually went blind."

Ratification of the U.S. Constitution

Benjamin Stiles Sr. represented Southbury at a Jan. 3, 1788, meeting in Hartford, for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

"Exactly one month after this document was written (Feb. 9, 1775) the British Parliament declared the colony of Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion," the eBay listing stated. "Three months later, the Revolutionary War began. Amos Clark, who signs and dockets the document on the reverse as deputy sheriff of Woodbury, was born around 1720."

Amos Clark

Clark served on the Woodbury Committee of Inspection, also known as the Committee of Observation, at the start of the war, according to the eBay listing. He served as a corporal in the 5th Co., (Daniel Barnes Co.) 8th Ct. Regiment, under Colonel Sherman.

Middlebury Fashion


This is definitely not historical like Woodbury's item, but cool nonetheless. Seller axistshirtsannex sells T-shirts with "Middlebury, CT" on them and sells them in different colors and fonts.

The cost of the T-shirts is $9.99.


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