By Steven Slosberg
Glacial erratics, they are called, those hefty chunks of outsized deposits distributed here, there and virtually everywhere by the Laurentide Ice Sheet some 20,000 years ago.
“Long Island is the terminal moraine from that event,” according to Glenn Gordinier, associate professor in the Williams College-Mystic Seaport Program and co-director of the Seaport’s Munson Institute. “Fishers Island, Watch Hill Reef and Watch Hill are remnants of a recessional moraine. Places like The Devil’s Hopyard and Ledyard’s Glacial Park are all remnants of the glacier depositing rocks on our Connecticut landscape.”
Among the countless rocks and boulders strewn across the region are two noteworthy ones perched close together along the aptly named Boulder Avenue at Lords Point in Stonington. The bigger one is 12 feet high, 13 feet wide, and 4 feet thick.
To be sure, given the abundance of such massive hunks of stone around us, there is nothing out of the ordinary about them. But they are, nevertheless, special boulders, indeed, as stipulated in the 1926 will of James Lord and Fannie Noyes Lord. They were the owners of the property from which Lords Point was developed in the early 1900s, and Section 201 of the document says this:
“There is willed and devised to Lord’s Point Association Inc. the shore from Beach Avenue to Skipper Street, to be controlled and managed by the trustees of the Athletic Grounds and their successors and assigns. The two large boulders must not be disturbed under penalty of forfeiture of the real estate to the heirs of the donors.”
The real estate, between Wamphassuc Point and Quiambog Cove, is a private community of
some 200 homes and cottages fronting Long Island Sound.
In other words, if Section 13 of the Lords’ will is to be taken as written, should the boulders be shaken, rattled or rolled, unlikely as that event may be, the scenic and curved shore property at the heart of Lords Point would revert to the heirs of James and Fannie Lord, wherever, and if ever, they are.
Bryan Bentz, an MIT-educated inventor who heads an engineering firm in Stonington, also happens to be a dedicated historian and maintains a website, Quiambaug/Mistuxet Valley, chockablock with local lore.
He provided, through the website, a copy of the will, along with the fact that just east of Lords Point, in a small family cemetery on Wamphassuc, is the eternal resting place of John Hallan, “who lived nearby and who was on very good terms with Captain Kidd.”
Lords Point, Bentz speculates, may once have been part of what was called Wamphassuc, or, to the Native Americans here, “‘white land’ or land frequented by white birds.”
A plot map of Lords Point, dated 1909 but drawn the year before, shows the proposed subdivision of land owned by James and Fannie Lord, part of what was once the Samuel Langworthy farm. Lord took to raising prized Shropshire sheep and turkeys, as well as other animals.
But back to his presumed fondness for those two boulders. I was curious whether the provision in Section 13 would hold up, should the boulders ever be dislodged. An attorney who is well versed in wills and land issues offered this:
“The will of James Lord creates a right of reverter. Since it was created in 1926, it might still be viable. However, it might not be enforceable under the ‘Rule Against Perpetuities,’ which generally provides that such a reverter would be viable only for the life of the creator or life in being at the time of its creation plus 21 years.
“Such reverters in favor of a charitable entity (of which this is not one) can last in perpetuity and are under the jurisdiction of the attorney general. Lastly, there is a statute which attempts to save such reverters, called ‘The Second Look Doctrine’ which might be applicable here. Good arguments can be made that the boulders should not be moved. So it is clear as mud and not ‘rock solid.’”
Well, appreciating the legal intricacies, not to mention the question of extant heirs, the validity of that stipulation in the will does seem to be clear as mud. Still, it would be prudent for Lords Point denizens, walking by those boulders, not to sneeze.
Steven Slosberg lives in Stonington and was a longtime reporter and columnist for The Day in New London. He may be reached at: email@example.com.