Joseph was born in Watertown, MA on May 28, 1668. Joseph moved to Groton with his parents when he was an infant, and he grew up in that town. At the age of ten, he witnessed three attacks by the Indians during King Philip's War when the residents of Groton had to take refuge in the garrison houses and fight off the Indians until they were rescued. Later, Joseph served with his brothers, John, Daniel and Nicholas in the defense of the town against the Indian during the first of the French & Indian Wars (King William's War) in the early 1690s.
About 1690, Joseph married Sarah Davis in Groton. Sarah, the daughter of Samuel Davis and Mary Waters, was born August 12, 1667 in Groton.
In 1695, he was chosen constable of the town of Groton. He was granted permission by the general court to keep an inn which he operated from 1699 to 1701. In 1702, he disposed of his real estate in Groton and bought, for £20, 150 acres of land in Aspinock, later called Killingly, in the area which in 1855 became part of the new town of Putnam, CT. He moved his family to Aspinock and resided on his farm which was located north of the old Providence road in the east part of the township of Putnam, near the Rhode Island border. There are a number of Cady family landmarks in the area which lies west of the RI border, south of Route 44 and east of East Putnam Road. These include Cady Pond, Cady Brook, Cady Brook Road, etc.
During the years after he moved to Killingly, Joseph Cady became quite prosperous, and in 1714 he gave up his original log house and built a large, "pretentious" home where he and his descendants lived for many years. In 1895, the genealogist, Orrin Peer Allen, visited the old house and found it deserted and fast going to ruin. He described it as follows: "It had a frontage of two stories; in the center was the conventional stone chimney of the olden days, with the huge oven and fireplace in the kitchen, and fireplaces for the reception and family rooms. There were six rooms of varying sizes on each floor, of ample proportion and convenience." A short time before his death in 1788, Justice Joseph Cady sold the family homestead to Darius Session, Deputy Governor of RI, who made it his summer residence. A few years later during the revolution, this house was visited by many famous persons, including George Washington who was entertained there during one of his trips through the country. Next, the house became the property of Solomon Cleveland, and over the years, it had many other residents until it was finally deserted by 1893. It was, at that time, the oldest house in northeastern Connecticut.
Captain Cady was known for his giant frame and physical strength, and he had considerable influence over the Indians. He grew their sacred medicinal herbs on his farm, and for this reason, they considered his property neutral ground. At that time, the white settlers were in close contact with the neighboring Nipmuc Indians of the region. These Indians sometimes challenged the whites in sports and in contests of strength and agility. In these contests, the whites often proved superior to the redman, because their muscles had been hardened by clearing the forests, building rock walls and performing heavy manual labor on their farms. This story is told of him.
One day soon after his arrival in Killingly, Joseph was mowing brush at the foot of Mashentuck Hill when an Indian came from an adjoining wood and expressed a strong desire to try the skill of a white man in wresting. Joseph thought to himself that if he could throw the fellow it might operate to deter the Indians from hostilities against the settlements. Joseph dropped his scythe and began grappling with his competitor who struggled long and hard to throw him down. Both men struggled long and desperately, but Joseph at last prevailed and the Indian fell. Unfortunately, he fell among the brush which his antagonist had been cutting and one of the sharp stumps which, because of the force of the fall, pierced his skull, killing him instantly.
In 1708, Joseph Cady was chosen lieutenant of the train band (militia), and this was confirmed by act of the colonial assembly in that same year. In 1721, he was chosen captain. During this time, Father Rasle's war [see story following] resulted and the New England colonies were in turmoil. As a captain, Joseph Cady served in several expeditions to the north against the French and Indians. On his return from one of these expeditions, it is reported that he was greeted by an old squaw friend of the family who joyfully exclaimed, "Oh Massa Cady, I so glad to see you I could drink a whole quart of rum!"
Joseph was in charge of the public lands of Killingly for many years, and he was very interested in public affairs as evidenced by the many references to him in the town records. In 1728, he was chosen townsman, and he was deputy or representative from Killingly from 1731-1734.
He died on December 29, 1742. Local historians say that he was buried, near many other members of the Cady family, at the old Killingly Burying Ground, now called the Aspinwall cemetery, located on Killingly Avenue and Nancy Street in Putnam. However, if the gravestone still exists, the inscription is no longer legible. The date of Sarah's death, as with most of the facts of her life, is unknown.
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See lineage of Cady Family
Read the Biography of Joseph's father, Nicholas Cady
Read the Biography of Joseph's son, Benjamin Cady
Read the Biography of Joseph's grandson, Benjamin Cady
Read the Biography of Joseph's famous relative Elizabeth Cady Stanton
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