Upon these lands settled volunteers who had fought in the Narragansett Indian Warre 1675-76. In October, 1696 Lieutenant Thomas Leffingwell of Norwich and Sergeant John Frink of Stonington petitioned the General Court "that they with the rest of the English volunteers in the former warrs might have a plantation granted to them." A tract of land six miles square was granted. With land later added this comprised the present towns of Sterling and Voluntown.
In 1708 the plantation was named "Volluntown." Eight men lead by Lieutenant Leffingwell formed a committee for the management of the plantation on February 23, 1713/14. The proprietors' affairs progressed slowly and on May 21, 1721 town privileges were obtained. The Reverend Samuel Dorrance served as the first permanent minister from 1723 to 1770. His church, established in 1723, was the first Presbyterian church in Connecticut.
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Mr. Dorrance was a Scotch Presbyterian who had arrived from Ireland and was a graduate of Glasgow University. He had been accompanied to New England by several families of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who had followed him to Voluntown and settled. In 1794 a division was granted and Sterling became a separate town. The great length between the north and south borders and the difficulty
of traveling to the meeting house were contributing factors to this separation. On December 4, 1732 it was voted that there shall be a surkelating school kep and a schoolmaster hired at ye town's charge. The first school house was built in 1737. An extensive textile industry began operation here as early as 1814, when James Treat established the Industry Manufacturing Company, whose successor firm, the Beachdale Manufacturing Company, continued well into the present century.
Erected by the Town of Voluntown
the Voluntown Historical Society
and the Connecticut Historical Commission