Joshua Hempstead Goes To Training Day, April 22, 1730

On April 22, 1730, Joshua Hempstead of New London, Conn., went to Training Day – or as he put it in his diary, ‘Trayning Day.’  Hempstead was a farmer and man of affairs who kept a diary for 47 years.  His diary was a gift to historians for the detailed information it provided about colonial life in America.

Joshua Hempstead's house

Joshua Hempstead’s house

The Puritans didn’t celebrate Christmas or Easter, but they did celebrate Training Day, Election Day and Commencement Day. Initially, Training Day was a day when able-bodied men gathered on the town common for drill exercises and small arms training to ensure the town was prepared for attacks. Then it became a day off.

From 1620 to 1790, the local militia met six to eight times a year in April, May, September and October. During military emergencies like King Phillip’s War, which put all of New England under arms, Training Day was conducted with great seriousness. If there wasn’t an emergency, Training Day involved a few hours of actual training and many more hours of socializing.

Here’s Joshua Hempstead on his Trayning Day:

Tuesd 22 fair but Rain at night. It was Trayning day & is to be again the first mond & Tuesday after in April next. the Supr Court Sat. I was in Town held a Court for Jonat Rogers.

Joshua Hempstead’s house is still standing in New London.


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