Hitching Post # 3
Animal control was a topic of government interest in Union early on. At a town meeting on December 25, 1738 Alexander McNall, (Union's first settler) was chosen fence viewer and Amos Stickney and W. Robert Paul were continued as "branders" and pound keepers for the ensuing year. Records of June 26, 1769 show at motion at the Town meeting to build a pound on or near where the old pound stood. It is likely that the first pound was made of wood. But by 1769 many New England towns had little timber left and the use of stone became more common.
Union's town brand was assigned by the Connecticut General Assembly when the town was incorporated on October 10, 1734: "this assembly grants and enacts that the said tract of land be made a township... and that it be called by the name Union, and that the brand for their horses shall be a figure ."
Another way of marking livestock was the earmark. A distinctive cut was made, for example, a hold was cut of the right ear of an animal. These earmarks were then registered with the town as a way of identifying the owner of an animal. In the late 1730's there were 12 different earmarks registered with the Town of Union.
In England most livestock was watched over by individual herders, but in New England, labor was so scarce that
only the most valuable animals, milk cows, sheep, some horses and oxen were guarded this way. The rest, swine, goats and dry cattle were left to their own devices and posed a constant threat to crops.*
Occasionally, the barnyard of a particular farmer was used as a town pound; other times pounds were built following a passage of a specific law. Many pounds were commissioned with the requirement that they be built "horse high, bull strong and hog tight".*
Consequently, the town voted to build a pound for stray animals. It was to be thirty feet square, four feet think at the bottom, and eighteen inches at the top, six feet high and made of stone with a timber all around the top. This task was to be completed within three weeks from the date of this meeting.
Sparse remnants can be seen in the photograph below circa 1983. Demolition of the former Union Elementary School in 2010 resulted in the burial of some of the stones, others were removed by unknown persons. Few stones remain to mark this historic site.
* Sermons in Stone by Susan Allport)