Mural of the Purchase of Fairfield by Roger Ludlow 1639
by artist and historian William D. Lee
Please click on the thumbnail image to view a larger version of the mural.
The Mural of the Purchase of Fairfield, painted by artist and historian William D. Lee, was dedicated in a ceremony on Monday, January 28, 2002. The mural is located in the front foyer of Sullivan Independence Hall.
Mr Lee, Municipal Historian Emeritus, has described his mural as follows:
"Roger Ludlow was born in England in 1590. He was educated at Oxford, and then went on to complete his studies in law. He was truly a puritan and an intellectual leader of the period. He also became an active member of the Massachusetts Bay Company. The lure of the new land in America was a challenging and adventurous attraction to Ludlow. He came from England to the New World in 1630 on a ship that he owned.
Within the following ten years, he became one of the most ambitious colonizers in New England. Although many people were in attendance at this Purchase Agreement ceremony, this mural focuses on Ludlow and the Chief of a small clan of the Pequonnock Tribe located in Unquowa (Fairfield). The Pequonnocks were part of the Paugussett nation in this part of Connecticut. There are varied interpretations of Ludlow and Native American tribal leaders in the 17th century.
Ludlow, dressed in typical 17th century Puritan attire, is offering much valued glass Trading Beads as a portion of the Agreement. The Native Americans perceived glass as a valuable and supernatural substance. Their preferences in color were red and blue.
Included in the ceremony, the Tribal Chief would implant a twig into the soil. This symbolized conveying the land and all that the land sustained to the English. The Tribal Chief also exhibits a new and prized English wool blanket draped across his shoulders.
It was common for both men and women to paint their faces and stain their bodies red, as the Trial Chief demonstrates. This was the reason early explorers called Native Americans "Red-Men". Likewise, feathers were worn in various arrangements and distinguished outstanding leaders of the tribe.
The figures in the background represent four prominent settlers that accompanied Ludlow. They are Thomas Newton, Edward Jessop, Thomas Staples and Edmund Strickland.
Similar land purchasing agreements in this vicinity included the trade of blankets, hoes, knives, axes, kettles and mirrors. The original detailed trading documents for Fairfield were destroyed and burned by the British during the American Revolution in 1779. In the Harbor is a typical ship of the period and to the rear of Ludlow is a mountain laurel, now the Connecticut State Flower."
The image of the mural is courtesy of Jim Gilleran.