Small Island, Long History

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Mary Anne Zak

Mary Anne Zak

Visible downriver from the Suffield- Enfield Bridge, King’s Island harbors valuable history.

 “…hundreds of adventists …awaiting the end of the world…” gathered on the island in 1873. They came to await the Second Coming of Christ which had been predicted many times during the preceding century.

Adventist theology held that when Christ returned, righteous souls would be resurrected and taken into heaven and the unrighteous would die. Adventists believed the Second Coming would be followed by the end of the world. Their movement holds an important place in America’s religious and social history.

Throughout the 19th century, many dates based on scriptures were predicted for the Second Coming. None materialized. When a persuasive case was made, however, that the coming would occur in 1873-74, many people gathered in 1873 on King’s Island to await it. Eventually they dispersed.

 Adventism had emerged during the previous century from the religious revival called the Great Awakening. Jonathan Edwards, born in East Windsor in 1703, led the phenomenal movement which holds an important place in religious and social history.

 “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” was the title of Edwards’ most famous sermon. It did not make a deep impression on his home town of Northampton but when Edwards was invited to read the text in Enfield, it generated religious energy throughout New England, and later, on an island in the Connecticut River. This small body of land measuring about 120 acres stands quietly in the river now, the property of Eversource.

In 1641 a Native American woman was said to have sold the island to a Windsor man named John Lewis. The title “proved invalid” in 1644 when the Reverend Ephraim Huit of Windsor petitioned the Connecticut General Court to award the island to him and the court obliged.

The Massachuetts General Court, however, amid contentious boundary claims, gave the island to proprietor John Pynchon in 1670 in recognition of “… his work in running the boundary lines.” The Court also permitted Pynchon to build “…a township on the west side of the river..” in 1670. Originally called Southfield, the town came to be known as Suffield.

In ensuing years, owners were recorded as Devotion, Leavitt, Lyman, Enos and King while the island became known as Lyman’s Island. In 1864 it was bought by D.C. Terry who lived there for years leaving foundations, walls and other traces of the farm he kept there.

Now established as King’s Island, the area enjoys modest park facilities, a boat launch in Enfield, and great popularity during the yearly shad season.

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