What is a Ffyler?

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61 Ffyler Place, it’s an interesting address, current home to Kent Memorial Library, and constant source of consternation to out-of-town visitors: “How do you spell that…?”

The Library shows movies every week (Thursday nights, weekdays at 2 p.m., and some Saturdays) that draw people from all over the state. They are a bit flummoxed when it comes to our address. The two “F”s often trip people up. Having discussed the spelling of our address so often, I started to wonder, ”What is a Ffyler? Well, it turns out, a Ffyler is a who:

Zerubbabel Ffyler. (I think the next time I go to Panera’s, I’m going to use this name on my order.)

On January 26, 1670, (347 years ago!) Zerubbabel Ffyler was granted 60 acres in Suffield (it’s good to be an early settler). He was a farmer, most likely, and lived in Suffield for at least six years. A map drawn from the early land grants shows a 6.2 acre portion of Mr. Ffyler’s allotment stretching from High Street to Muddy Brook. At his end of High Street, having now been redubbed South Main Street, Mr. Ffyler’s spread would have been across the street from the King House (nice neighbors). The deed for Zerubbabel’s parcel shows it to be “12 rod wide.”

A rod is 16.5 feet, so, if you do the math – what might have been on this property besides a “residence”? Did he have an orchard? Maybe a family cow, or a modest flock of sheep? A good tobogganing hill? I’m not sure. However, logistically speaking, what isn’t in his backyard, is the

road we now call Ffyler Place. Ffyler Place is situated through what was once the backyards of other early settlers: Jonathan Winchell, John Filley, Joseph Harmon, his younger brother Nathaniel Harmon, John Lawton – wait we’re not done  Thomas Taylor (no relation) – right about here we run out of road. We’d have to go off-roading through the 12 rod wide lots of John Taylor (the brother of the aforementioned Tom), John Pynchon (the guy who put Suffield on the map), and Cornel Bissel, before we ever reach Zerubbabel’s home-sweet-home. All of them had 6.2 acres, right next to Mr. Ffyler. Zerrubabel (pronounced zuh-ruh’-ba-bull, says Lester Smith, which l admit sounds less girly than the Zuh-roo-ba-bell’ I was using) had a British daddy, Walter, who set roots in Windsor (and let’s not ignore mom, Jane, née Irving, of Windsor, Hartford County, “The Colonies”.) The Windsor Historical Society resides in a house once considered Walter Fyler’s original residence (yes, there’s only one F, I’ll explain later.) It would eventually be discerned, while it had been Walter’s property, the house was not old enough to be his. Old postcards will of course, still be identified as such, which I mention, just in case you suddenly run into one of these photos. Ever notice how something you never heard of before starts showing up everywhere once you’ve heard of it?

Anyway, Zerubbabel (can I presume a nickname might have been Zebby?), married Experience Strong and they had 13 children (did they all fit in one wagon? What was the mini van wagons?) It has been my steadfast opinion that if you are going to birth thirteen children in the 1600s — and live — your name pretty much needs to be Experience Strong. I’d just like to mention epidurals wouldn’t be used in childbirth for the first time until 1847. ln 1942 according to the Journal of American Medical Association, there were only 200 epidurals reported in the US. Yikes-a-be.

FYI: Experience (Strong) Ffyler had a bazillion siblings, among them a sister Thankful and a brother Return – oh, and a granddaughter Mindwell.

The Ffylers didn’t stay in Suffield. They returned to Windsor and family, where they spent the remainder of their days doing seventeenth century things and witnessed the turn of the new century (l wonder what the Y2K of 1700 was.) Mr. Ffyler passed, October 21, 1714 (a month shy of his 72nd birthday.) Which means we moved the library to its temporary location at Ffyler Place around the 300th anniversary of his passing.

One question arose for me that remains unanswered: why the two ”f”s? The second “f” appears to manifest mostly in Suffield documents. Why? And who knew this well enough to name the street appropriately? Standard spellings are hard to come by in genealogy and his name appears as Filer, as well as Fyler — but in Suffield, it was mostly Ffyler. If ever I find out why, I’ll let you know. And hey, if you know — come see me! At 61 Ffyler Place.

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