Alexander's Lake, Connecticut
This beautiful sheet of water, of about a mile in length and half a mile in breadth, lies in the town of Killingly, Ct., and was formerly known to the Indians as Mashapaug. Its present name is derived from Nell Alexander, a man who settled at Killingly in 1720, and became proprietor of a large portion of the town. As this person gained his wealth in a manner which illustrates the antiquity of the propensity of the inhabitants of this state to the once honored, yet now despised employment of peddling, we will give the reader a short notice of his history. He came from Scotland, with a great number of other emigrants, in a ship which was to land them at Boston. Just before leaving the ship he discovered a gold ring up on deck, for which he could not find the owner. This fortunately provided: after his arrival he pawned the gold ring for small articles of trade, which he peddled in Boston and Roxbury. He was very prosperous, and finally became able to redeem the author of his success, and pursue his business without embarrassment. After a few years of constant activity, he acquired sufficient property to purchase a plantation of 3,500 acres in Killingly. The gold ring was transmitted as a sort of talisman, to his only son Nell, who transferred it to his only son Nell; who is now living at an advanced age, and has already placed it in the hands of his grandson Nell; and so it will doubtless continue from Nell to Nell, agreeably to the request of the first Nell, until the "last knell of the race is tolled!"
A singular tradition has been handed down to us by the aborigines concerning the origin of this lake.
In ancient times, when the red men of this quarter had long enjoyed prosperity, that is, when they had found plenty of game in the woods, fish in the ponds and rivers, they at length fixed a time for a general powwow, a sort of festival for eating, drinking, smoking, singing, and dancing. The spot chosen for this purpose was a sandy hill, or mountain, covered with tall pines, occupying the situation where the lake now lies. The powwow lasted four days in succession, and was to continue longer had not the Great Spirit, enraged at the licentiousness which prevailed there, resolved to punish them. Accordingly, while the red people in immense numbers were capering about upon the summit of the mountain, it suddenly "gave way" beneath them, and sunk to a great depth, when the water from below rushed up and covered them all except one good old squaw, who occupied one of the peaks, which now bears the name of Loon's Island.
Mr. Barber in his admirable work entitled "Connecticut Historical Collections," from which this account is taken, observes, "whether the tradition is entitled to credit or not, we will do it justice by affirming that in a clear day, when there is no wind and the surface of the lake is smooth, the huge trunks and leafless branches of gigantic pines may occasionally be seen in the deepest part of the water, some of them reaching almost to the surface, in such huge and fantastic forms as to cause the beholder to startle!"