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Thomas Knowlton Letterbox

Placed: 4-27-03
Placed By: WWW (Formerly known as Chuck and Molly)
Location: Ashford Connecticut, Windham County
Rated: Easy

Same starting point as The Mongolian Death Worm Mansfield CT

This box is in honor of Col. Thomas Knowlton, Revolutionary War, patriot, founder of the United States Army Rangers, and past resident of Ashford.

The letterbox is planted on the property of the Knowlton Hill Preserve owned by Joshua’s Trust. It is listed by them as being located in Mansfield but there is a large section of the property that is over the town line in Ashford. The letterbox is in the Ashford section. From the Storrs 4 corners (intersection of routes 195 and route 44) go 3.5 miles on route 44 east. Turn right onto Knowlton Hill Road. The small parking area is located 1 mile down the road just past the large beautiful private Victorian house with a copper roof on your left. The parking area holds 3 maybe 4 cars. This preserve is not used very much. I never had a problem parking here. You can also get to the preserve from the intersection of routes 195 and 89 in Mansfield Center by going down route 89 north 1.2 miles. Here you turn left onto Wormwood Hill Road. Continue on Wormwood Hill Road 4.8 miles to a fork. Take Knowlton Hill Road .5 mile to the preserve parking on your right. This hike round trip totals about 1 ¼ mile.

Get out of your car and go 140 degrees to a row of 4 trees. These trees are oriental chestnut trees. The trail in the field varies slightly from time to time. It all depends on how they mow it. The field can be as low as grass or as high as a hay field. Please follow the trail and do not walk through the hay. It is used by a local farmer. From post number 1 which is located near the first of the four chestnut trees, take a reading of 80 degrees. This points to a lone tree which sticks out over the top of the hill. You have to get to this tree. There is a path that goes in that direction and will get you there. This tree is a silver maple. There you will find a rock and post number 2 with a birdhouse on it. There is also a stone bench with a plaque dedicated to the memory of William Toubman. This is Knowlton Hill. Great view of the Mount Hope river valley. Very impressive spot, especially on a windy day. From the bench, take a reading of 95 degrees to another lone tree. Go to this tree. At this tree, take a reading of 105 degrees which points to a trail entrance. Enter the trail and go east into the woods. Come to a 4 corner intersection and go north to 2 large oaks and post 5. Follow the path through a stone wall. Keep going, and cross a nice plank bridge built by the boy scouts and come to post number 6. Stay on the trail. Depending on the time of year, you may have some nice views of Knowlton pond. The pond and 50 feet of land before it are not on the preserve but is private property. You will come to two large rocks on the right of the trail which is as wide as a dirt road and see post number 7. From the post, walk 67 steps further up the trail to a rock on the floor of the trail. Stand on the rock and take a reading of 15 degrees. This points to a rock off the trail. Go behind this rock and look low to find the Thomas Knowlton letterbox. Keep following the yellow blazes. You will come to a Y but follow the yellow blazes to the right and go up along the side of a stone wall. Follow the wall and trail to Knowlton Hill Road. You have to cross through a stone wall to get to the road. You can go left and follow the road .3 mile back to your car or take a reading of 210 degrees, cross the street to the corner of a barn, and continue following the yellow blazes a total of ½ mile to find The Mongolian Death Worm letterbox and be back to your car.

About Thomas Knowlton

Thomas Knowlton was born in November 22nd, 1740 in West Boxford, Massachusetts. Around the age of 8, he moved with his family to Ashford Connecticut and a 400 acre farm. In 1755 at the age of 15, Thomas enlisted in the English army and fought under Major Putnam in the French and Indian War. At the age of 20, he was made a Lieutenant. In 1759 he married Anna Keyes of Ashford and bought a farm on the present site of the Norcross Webster Boy Scout Reservation. Knowlton and his wife raised a family of nine children. He went back in service with the British in Havana Cuba against the Spanish. At the age of 33, Thomas was already a popular man in Ashford and was elected Selectman in 1773. From the start of the American Revolution, Ashford and Thomas Knowlton supported the cause. In 1775 a Company was organized in Ashford for the struggle against the British. They elected Thomas Knowlton as their commander. Captain Knowlton took the company from Connecticut into Massachusetts, the first unit from an outside colony to march to Massachusetts to assist with the struggle after the Lexington and Concord alarms. The Company of Ashford Volunteers reported for battle at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The leader of the Battle was General Putnam, who had previously commanded Thomas Knowlton during the French-Indian War twenty years earlier. Knowlton was in command of nearly 200 troops. His troops helped to repulse the early British charges and were the rear guard covering the retreat of the rest of the force. Captain Knowlton was promoted to Major based on his performance here, and was considered the "first officer of his grade in the army". In the winter of 1775 – 1776, Major Knowlton lead a daring foray into Charlestown to burn homes housing British officers. In the spring of 1776 a special force of Connecticut men was formed for "special" operations. this was a ranger force. Major Knowlton was asked to command it and was promoted to Lt. Colonel. This was an elite hand picked independent corps which was under the direct command of George Washington. This was the origin of today’s army rangers and Thomas Knowlton is known today as the founder. The soldiers he led were known as "Knowlton's Rangers" and eventually earned the nickname "Congress's Own". In preparing for the defense of New York, General Washington felt the need for more intelligence about the British situation in the city. Lt. Col. Knowlton was put in charge of the intelligence operation. Nathan Hale of Coventry Connecticut was the volunteer to put the operation into effect. He was captured by the British and hanged the day after his capture. His words that day have been immortalized into American history: "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country." In 1776, Lt. Col. Knowlton and his 16 year old son participated in the Battle of Harlem Heights. It was in this battle on September 16th, 1776 the rangers with Col. Knowlton and his 16 year old son were scouting in advance of the main army at the battle of Harlem Heights New York when they came into contact with the Black Watch. It was during this scrimmage that Col. Knowlton was mortally wounded. He is reputed to say, "You see my son, I am mortally wounded; you can do me no good; go fight for your Country." George Washington upon hearing the news said on the next day "The gallant and brave Col. Knowlton, who would have been an honor to any country, having fallen yesterday while gloriously fighting, Capt. Brown is to take command of the party lately led by Col. Knowlton."

There are many place names in Ashford named after Knowlton and a monument of Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton presently stands on the state capitol grounds in Hartford.

Visit the following sites for more information on Col. Thomas Knowlton:

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