Originally published in Ancient American Magazine Issue #83
by, Wayne May
West Connecticut may seem an unlikely place to find ancient inscriptions from the Old World, but there they are, etched in granite atop a six hundred-foot mountain ten miles southwest of Hartford. Part of the narrow, linear Metacomet Ridge extending from Long Island Sound near New Haven to the Vermont border. Pinnacle Rock stands above the Quinnipiac and Farmington Rivers. Nearby, to the southeast, are the crumbling, concrete bunkers of what was once, during the paranoid “Cold War”, a Nike missile base.
More enduring are things found at Pinnacle’s summit. Among the scratchings of current graffiti may still be seen four sets of Hebrew characters. Each represents a name: “Adam”, “Isaac”, “Moses”, and “Abram”. They are veritably unmodern, having been described as long ago as 1789 by Dr. Ezra Stiles in a report still on file in the Beinecke Library at Yale College, where he was President. Already old when he described them, he guessed that the names belonged to miners who died while prospecting in the Cornwall, Kent, and New Milford area. Dr. Stiles’ speculation is highly unlikely, as no evidence suggests the appearance of Jewish miners i n Connecticut or any place else in the world.
Contemporaneous with his report is an early ledger for New Preston’s general store, a document composed by John Buckingham of Marble Dale, who wrote, “the characters engraved on the Pinnacle rock that have been the subject of much wonder. Many learned men have examined them, but they remain a mystery … The truth has been given me by a grandson of the individual who engraved them … Ebenezer Beeman, an eccentric who made pretensions to great learning, and had in his possession a Hebrew and Greek dictionary, went to the top of the rock in 1774, taking with him some books and tools. He attempted to engrave the names of Issac, Moses, Adam, and Abraham. The last name was unfinished on account of a heavy thunder shower… This, I am told, may be relied on as a true account of those Mysterious characters.”
Perhaps, Dale’s explanation is apocryphal and unlikely, more reminiscent of a Nathaniel Hawthorne take, than local history. More likely, the four names were old and enigmatic long before either he or Stiles wrote of them. The engravings need to be examined for deposition and erosional wear by professional geologists to determine their actual age and, by inference, their origins. Until then, the names will remain as mysterious as they have been for more than two hundred years. Given the abundance of related inscriptions found throughout North America, however, the characters etched atop Pinnacle Rock could emblazon identities of Hebrew visitors to Connecticut during the prehistory of this land.