If you’re driving up I-95 through Connecticut, you may find yourself on the Moses Wheeler Bridge that spans the Housatonic River between Stratford and Milford. The bridge, built in 1958 and now undergoing replacement, was named for Moses Wheeler (1598-1698), my ninth great grandfather, an emigrant from Kent, England, and an early settler of Stratford. For many years, Wheeler, a ship’s carpenter, operated a ferry across the Housatonic River at this location. His son and later his grandson also ran the ferry. He was said to be the first European settler who lived to be 100.
“Moses Wheeler was a picturesque character of indomitable courage, incredible height and remarkable strength …
… He was a strong powerful man of whom the Indians are said to have stood in mortal terror. The Milford Indians were thought to be unfriendly to him. One day as some of them came to attack him, he took a big dipper of boiling soap, which his wife was then making, and threatened to throw it on them. They dared not advance and left immediately. Another tradition relates that Mr Wheeler was one morning in the cellar of his house, when 3 Indians with tomahawks appeared in the doorway. Realizing his helplessness if attacked, he raised a half-emptied cider cask, saying has he did so ‘Let’s all have a drink” pretending at the same time to drink from the bunghole. The Indians seeing this and supposing the barrel to be full went away, saying they did not want to fight with such a strong man.”
(“History of Stratford, Connecticut : 1639-1939”, p. 699)