"Lieut. John Cates, a pious puritan who served in the wars in England, holding his commission under Cromwell, when Charles II. came to the throne, fled to this country for safety. He landed first in Virginia, where he procured a negro servant to attend him. But when advertisements and pursuers were spread through this country, to apprehend the adherents of the Protector, he left Virginia, came to New York, and from thence to Norwich. Still feeling that he should be securer in a more retired place, he came to this new plantation, dug the first cellar, and with his servant, raised in Windham the first English habitation, in the spring of 1689. The settlers, rapidly increasing, petitioned the general court, and obtained a grant of town privileges in May, 1692. It was made a county town in May, 1726."
Windham is bounded N. by the towns of Hampton, Chaplin, and Mansfield; E. by Franklin and Lisbon, and W. by Lebanon and Columbia. It contains an area of about 8 by 6 miles. It has an uneven surface, with a tolerable soil.
Since the removal of the county courts from this place to Brooklyn, and the establishment of the village of Willimantic, the ancient village of Windham has somewhat declined in its trade and population. It is pleasantly located, compactly and neatly built, and contains charm and antiquity, in as great perfection as can probably be found in New England. This village is 30 miles E. from Hartford, 14 N. by W. from Norwich, 44 W.S.W. from Providence, R.I., and 12 S.W. from Brooklyn. Population of the town, 1820, 2,489; 1830, 2,812.
The Borough of Willimantic is 3 miles from Windham village. It is well situated on Willimantic river: it is built principally on one street, and contains some very handsome buildings. In this village are six cotton mills, containing 13,000 spindles; a paper mill and a satinet factory. This flourishing village has grown up in the course of a few years. The population of this borough, in 1837, was 2,000.