Reverend Jonathan Todd House / “Green Side”
19 Britton Lane
Reverend Jonathan Todd, the son of an earlier Jonathan, was the second pastor of First Congregational Church. Born in 1713 and educated at Yale College, he graduated in 1732 and became the ordained pastor of the church in East Guilford in 1733, at the age of 20. He remained at that post longer than any other minister of that church, serving 58 years until his death in 1791 at the age of 78. In 1735, he married Elizabeth Couch of Fairfield. They had no children. They are buried together in Madison’s West Cemetery.
Yale President Ezra Stiles characterized Todd as “a great reader of vigorous mental powers” and “strong and penetrating acumen.” Further lauded as “mild, placid, calm, and benevolent,” he was known for his kindness to his congregation. During his ministry, a widespread epidemic struck the towns along the shoreline, and Mr. Todd labored among the sick and the dying, the latter of which numbered 43 East Guilford citizens. The Reverend Todd also kept slaves, whom he freed, in his will, upon his death—but not before. He also left them an endowment. He noted that during the course of his lifetime, he had grown to consider the enslavement of his fellow human beings to be wrong. He wrote: “I have long been convinced in my own mind, that the enslaving of Africans brought to this country or those born in this country is unjust; and it is one of the sins of the land, and I would endeavor to free my estate from the cry of such a sin against it.”
According to at least three authors of the history of enslaved Africans in New England, Todd’s enslaved man, Caesar, was among the noted black musicians often renowned in both the black and white communities. Caesar was, by all accounts, a talented fiddler who, wrote Joseph Boskin, “was frequently called upon to play for the dancing youth in the area.” The “young people,” wrote William Fowler, ”would collect together at the house of the Minister, to listen to [Caesar’s] violin; to dance a few figures, in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Todd, who had no children; to eat pumpkin-pie, from the hands of their hostess; and, always, to retire after a prayer, at nine o’clock.”
This house is not the actual home of Reverend Todd; this structure replaces the earlier structure that was here, or very near here, at the time of Todd’s tenure. Quite logically, the present house has long been named “Green Side,” but the MHS has not been able to identify who gave it its name or when.