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Two years after moving to Utah, we badly needed an Eastern transfusion. Besides, our Mary Beth was getting her master’s degree at Harvard, and we could hardly pass up Commencement. So we took two months in the late spring and early summer of 2005 and drove across the country.

I was aware that Sandisfield/Colebrook was an important family history site for us, and we had somewhat vague plans to go there. We had Motel 6 reservations in Hartford, so that we could stop at Rein’s matchless Delicatessen in Vernon both for dinner that night and then again for breakfast the next morning, so as to make it to Boston in time for the first Commencement festivities.

So we were tooling along Interstate 84, following the green-brick road to Hartford. As we crested the hill from which we could see the big Newburgh-Beacon Bridge over the Hudson River, the brake-lights of the cars ahead of us suddenly started to flash toward us like so many red dominoes, and traffic began to slow down. We turned on the radio and learned that a semi-trailer truck had jackknifed at the entrance to the bridge; we were counseled to “seek alternate routes.”
Got off the big highway and proceeded north, paralleling the west side of the Hudson, to the next bridge: U.S. 44 at Poughkeepsie. Consulted our map, and ascertained that Route 44 was the most direct path to our reserved sack in Hartford. Then noticed, not without a shiver, that going to Hartford by Route 44 would take us through Canaan and Winsted: towns neighboring Colebrook! At that moment it dawned on us that somebody wanted us to go there sooner and more surely than we’d planned.

The Sandisfield/Colebrook neighborhood is well off the proverbial beaten track. It isn’t easy to get to, from any direction. You’re not likely to find yourself there by accident. But an accident firmed up our plans in a way we hadn’t anticipated. Before returning to Utah, we had documented the “Seven Little Stillmans” from their Colebrook gravestone, the only surviving record of their brief lives. And we made a stop, on their behalf, at the Nauvoo Temple.

I’ve been moved to assert, since, that I might well recognize Uncle Robert or Aunt Zipporah Stillman, were I to meet them on the street…

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