February 3, 1780: A Dark Day in New Milford’s History
Born in New Milford in 1760, Barnett Davenport would grow up to become CT's first mass murderer.
At the age of 15, Davenport had already become a convicted robber and horse thief. In 1776, at the age of 16, he ran away from home and joined the Continental Army and served under General George Washington and Benedict Arnold in the Revolutionary War according to connecticuthistory.org.
Davenport later deserted his post and escaped back to Washington, CT using his brother's name, Nicolas to work for Caleb and Jane Mallory who owned a grist mill along what is now Route 109 in New Milford. At the time, the Mallory's had no idea that Davenport was a deserter and an outlaw and that his real name was Barnett.
Just after midnight on Feb. 3, 1780, according to a 14-page signed confession found by New Milford town historian Michael-John Cavallaro, Davenport crept into his employer's bedroom and bludgeoned Caleb and Jane Mallory and their 9-year-old granddaughter, Charlotte to death.
He then proceeded to loot the house and then set it on fire not knowing that the Mallory's two other grandchildren were sound asleep in separate bedrooms. A massive manhunt was launched and Davenport was later found inside a cave in the town of Cornwall according to the website todayincthistory.com.
He was then transported to Litchfield for trial which lasted one day where he was sentenced to death preceded by 39 lashes. After being sentenced, he confessed to his heinous crimes which were written down and recorded.
Barnet Davenport was hanged on May 8, 1780, at high noon on the Litchfield Green for all to see and was left hanging until 3 that afternoon. For an in-depth version of Davenport's life along with direct quotes from his 14-page confession, click on connecticutmag.com. You can also find New Milford historian n Michael-John Cavallaro's book complete with Davenport's complete confession at ebay.com.