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' By David Ginand 

the original board 839 



By Lynn W. Wilson 

bridgeport newspapers 856 







DENT Lincoln's peoclamation — sentiment in Connecti- 


Bridgeport and Vicinity 




Closely connected with, and influencing, the early history of 
Bridgeport and vicinity were the Indians, some description of whtxn 
is necessary as a foreword to the story of Bridgeport, Stratford, Fair- 
field and Southport. 

At the time of the first white settlement of the east coast this 
territory was occupied by a branch of the Algonquin tribe, kno^yn 
generally by the name of Mohicans, and particularly in the south- 
eastern part of Connecticut as Mohegans. The shores of Long 
Island Sound were their habitat; here they had lived for countless gen- 
erations, hunted, fought and loved in their own way until the white 
man came and dispossessed them of their native soil. 

The Algonquins were a tribe of North American Indians dwell- 
ing principally in the valley of the Ottawa River and around the 
tributaries of the St. Lawrence. The chief tribes composing this 
nation of Indians were the Algonquin, Malecite, Micmac, Nascapi, 
Pennacook, Fox, Kickapoo, Delaware, Cheyenne, Conoy, Cree, 
^Mohican, Massachusetts, Menominee, Miami, Misisaga, Mohegan, 
Nanticoke, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Ojibway, Ottawa, Pequot, 
Polawatomi, Sac, Shawnee and Wampanoag. The Algonquin was 
one of the strongest of the Indian nations and it was with members of 
this tribe that the early settlers of Connecticut had most to do. 

Digitized byGOOgIC 



There are evidences which have been found which seem to prove 
that the Indians first came to the Valley of the Housatonie from the 
Hudson River and first settled in the vicinity of the Town of Kent. 

There they foiind numerous small falls in the river and accordingly 
christened the stream Pootatuck, meaning, in their language, "river of 
the faUs." The first white settlers in turn gave these Indians the name 
of Pootatucks. The second settlement was imdoubtedly made at New 
Mdlford. In this latter place the great council fire was held for the 
entire tribe; here their government was centralized and so remained 
until the territory was sold to the New Milford Company in 1703. In 
this way the Indians were slowly pushed toward the Sound, where they 
lived during the summer months, fishing and gathering oysters and 
clams; in the winter months they traveled inland and hunted game. 
The first meeting between these Indians and the white men occurred 
during the summer of 1687, when Captain Ma:son and Lieutenant 
Davenport surrounded the Saseo Swamp in Fairfield and killed or 
captured a portion of the Pequot tribe which had sought refuge there. 
Aso, it is said that the Indians then living in the vicinity were fined 
for harboring the Pequots. 


The Pequonnock Indians, of the Paugussets, were in the greater 
numbers on the shore of the Sound from New London westward. 
There were three villages of this tribe on the Pequonnock River and 
the lower coast line; one of these communities was located at the foot 
of Golden Hill south, one at the head of the cove near the junction of 
State Street and Fairfield Avenue, and the other one west of the 
Uncoway River, or Ash Creek as it is now called. The name Pequon- 
nock means "cleared field" or "opened ground" and was used by the 
Indiaps to designate the land on the east side of the Uncoway River 
extending northward to the old King's Highway and southward to 
the Sound, including two or three hundred acres of land. This name 
was not then applied to the Pequonnock River, hut only to the ground 
above described, now a part of the City of Bridgeport. Also, on this 
plain, "at the north end of the cove in the Black Rock harbor." was 
the old Indian planting field, covering about one hundred acres ; here, 
too, was the old Indian fort, standing near the end of the cove. 


In 1«89 settlements were made at Stratford and Fairfield by the 
English. At Stratford the white men found numbers of Indiana 

L, , z.chyGOOglC 


known as the Cupheags. Their village was very small and was 
governed by Chief Okenuck, an Indian descended from a long line of 
chieftains. Shortly afterward he removed to Pootatuck with his 
people, which place later became Shelton. A short time prior to the 
coming of the English the Indians on the Uncoway River and on the 
Housatonic had given to the General Court at Hartford territory at 
both Stratford and Fairfield and it was upon this ceded land that the 
settlers located the next year. It is probable that there were no reserva- 
tions of land for the Indians at Stratford for the Cupheags and not 
until 1659, when Golden Hill was set aside, were there any reservations 
in the town. The planting ground at the old fort was held by the 
Indians until 1681, then sold. Subsequently, this ground was known 
as the Old Indian Field and was so called in the early Fairfield records. 


Many writers have claimed tliat in almost every case the land 
around Stratford and Fairfield was purchased from the Indians by 
the white men, but there is little to substantiate this belief. On the 
other hand, valuable authorities and records give the information that 
ths land was not at first purchased, but for twenty years or more was 
considered conquered and ceded territory, and so declared by the 
General Court. Afterwards, through friendliness, the land was 
acquired from the Indians by agreements and deeds, with the ultimate 
object of ousting the red man. 

The settlements at Stratford and Fairfield were under the super- 
vision of Connecticut and were separate from the New Haven Colony. 
The land was granted to the settlers by the General Court, to which 
body the Indians had given it in 1638. As to the purchase of the 
land by the whites every record shows that no deeds were made until 
1656. There is nothing said upon either of the town records and in 
1681 when the final sale was made no deeds prior to 1656 are men- 

In 1 656 the General Court at Hartford made the following record : 
"This Court, at the request of Stratford, do grant that their bounds 
shall be twelve miles northward, by Paugusett River, if it be at the 
disposal, by right, of this jurisdiction." The Pequonnock Indians 
opposed the right of Stratford to this land. The Stratford settlers 
were anxious at this time to have their boundaries fixed by the court, 
as a tract of land had been sold by the Indians in the western part of 
Fairfield and trouble had arisen between them and the white men, due 



to the fact that the settlers' cattle and hogs destroyed the Indians' 
corn. Another factor which contributed to the Stratford settlers* 
desire to have a de6nite understanding was the number of Indians in 
Fairfield, who were constantly being crowded into Stratford territory 
by the Fairfield residents. Prior to this time the General Court had 
attempted to settle the boundary question between Fairfield, Stratford 
and the Pequonnocks, also to compel the Indians to pay tribute to the 
Connecticut Court as conquered and protected subjects, which duty 
they had shirked at every opportunity. 

In addition to this failure to pay proper tribute, the Indians 
exhibited signs of hostility in many ways and committed depredations 
many times. From 1648 to 1655 their warlike attitude became so 
threatening that the settlers kept troopers on guard at night and on 
Sundays, also called out the militia several times. The Indians 
demanded money in return for their lands and the Indians at Milford 
claimed a portion of the Stratford land. However, the claim of 
Ansantaway, the chief then at Milford, proved to be of little strength, 
for he gave a deed for all the land his people claimed on the west side 
of the Housatonie and agreed to accept in return whatever the English 
desired to give. The following order will show the eflTort made by 
the Connecticut Colony to settle the diiferences between the whites 
and reds: 

"Hartford, March 7, 1658-59. By the Court of Magistrates. 
This Court having taken into consideration the business respecting the 
Indians, pertaining to the plantations of Stratford and Fairfield, and 
finding in the last agreement made with the Indians while Mr. Willis 
and Mr. Allin were down there, that those two plantations aforemen- 
tioned are engaged to assure and allow unto those respective Indians 
pertaining to each town sufficient land to plant on for their subsistence 
and so to their heirs and successors: 

"It is therefore ordered by this Court, and required that each 
plantation forementioned exercise due care that the agreement made 
by the magistrates be fully attended without unnecessarj' delay, so 
that the Indians may have no just cause to complain against the Eng- 
lish, but rather may be encouraged to attend and observe the agree- 
ment on their parts, that peace may be continued on both sides; and 
further it is desired that the Indians may be allowed to improve their 
ancient fishing place which they desire. 

"To the constables of Stratford to be forthwith published and 
sent to Fairfield to be published and recorded by the register." 

Three days later the Court took further action in substantiating 



the claims of the Indians in Fairfield and allowing them planting land 
for the f utm*e. The settlers of Fairfield were also ordered to consider 
them as legal residents of the "plantation." 

Not immediately did the three-sided problem come to solution. 
A cleared space of ground to the east of the Uncoway River (Ash 
Creek) became a much disputed point. The land in this space had 
been cleared by the Indians for planting and in all was a very desirable 
piece of gromid. The possession of this land was one of the principal 
reasons the Fairfield settlers wished the Indians crowded over into the 
Stratford territory. The old line was retained, however, while a 
reservation was set aside on Golden Hill for the Indians. The latter 
retained their old planting field at the head of Black Rock Cove until 
1681, when they sold it to Fairfield. 

In the spring of the year 1659 the land question before Stratford 
and Fairfield was brought to the General Court at Hartford and 
decided. The Indians agreed to the following: That if the English 
settlers could prove that they had received the land by purchase, gift 
or conquest, it should be theirs. A number of witnesses gave testimony 
■ and the Court decided in favor of the plantations. The affidavits given 
by the witnesses are recorded in the town book under the caption, "a 
record of several letters presented to the Court at Hartford, whereby 
together with other evidences the Town of Stratford proved, and the 
Court granted a clear right to their land in reference to Pequonnock 
Indians with whom they had to do." 


By the year 1659 affairs had reached such a point that some 
decided move had to be made in order to arrange a definite status. 
The result was the establishment of the Golden Hill Reservation. 
The Court record upon this proceeding is as follows : 

"Gteneral Court, May, 1659. This Court having considered the 
business respecting the Indians at Pequonnock, and the difference 
between Stratford and Fairfield about the said Indians; do see cause 
to order that according unto the desire of the Indians they may quickly 
possess and enjoy from henceforth and for the future, that parcel of 
land called Gold Hill; and there shall be forthwith so much land laid 
out within the liberties of Fairfield as the committee appointed by the 
Court shall judge fit, and in as convenient a place as may best answer 
the desire and benefit of the Indians forementioned, for the future. 



And the said committee is to see so much land laid out within the 
bounds of Fairfield, for the use and accommodati(Hi of Stratford as 
that Golden Hill forementioned is, for quantity and qualit)', and as 
may be most convenient for the oei^bors of Stratford. And in case 
Stratford men are unwilling to accept of land, then the committee shall 
appoint how much and in what kind the inhabitants of Fairfield shall 
pay unto Stratford, in way of satisfaction. And it is ordered that this 
parcel of land called Gold Hill, surrendered by Stratford unto 
Pequpnnock Indians, according to the premises, shall be full satis- 
faction from them unto the Indians foreiiamed. and that neither they 
nor their successors shall make any further claims or demands of land 
from Stratford, hut shall henceforth he accomited as Fairfield Indians, 
or belonging to Fairfield, to be provided for hy them for future as is 
formentioned in the order. And it is ordered that in case these 
Indians shall wholly at any time relinquish and desert Golden Hill, 
that then it shall remain to Stratford plantation, they repaying to 
Fairfield the one half of that which they received in consideration of 
the said land. 

"The committee appointed by the Court to see this order put into 
execution are, of Xorwalk, Mr. Camfield, Mr. Filch, Richard Olm- 
stead, Nathaniel Elye, who are to hound out the lands at Gold Hill, 
about 80 acres, beginning at the foot of the hill where the wigwams' 
stood, and to run upwards on the hill and within Fairfield bounds, as 
is abo^'e mentioned. And the said committee is to make return to the 
Court in October, what they do in reference to this order." 

The committee appointed accomplished its work in due season and 
then made the following report of the matter: 

"Loving neighbors of Stratford we whose names are underwritten 
have according to the order we had from the General Court, without 
any respect to persons considered considered of the value that Fair- 
field men shall pay to Stratford for the eighty acres of land that the 
Indians do possess at Pequonnock with a due consideration of the 
land and the place where it lies, wherein we are agreed and do appoint 
that the Fairfield men shall pay to the Stratford men for the eighty 
acres of land that the Indians do possess at Pequonnock, twenty 
pound; this to be paid in beefe, porke. wheat and pease. Of beefe 
2 barrels (and) of porke, good and merchantable. «hich we value at 
twelve pound, and eight pounds to be paid in wheat and pease; 
wheat at four shillings six pense the bushill, pease three shillings six 
pense the bushetl, good and merchantable, and this to be payed of 



Fairfield to Stratford men betwixt this and the first daj of March 
next ensuing. This being our agreement we have set to our hands 
"Narwoke, May 2, 1660. 

"Matthew Camfeyld, 
"Thomas Fitch." 

This settlement was accordingly made with the Indians and settlers 
of Fairfield and Stratford. Shortly afterward a formal agreement 
was drawn up with the Indians, a verbatim copy of which follows : 

"aqeeement between the indlans of fequonnock and the 
inhabitants of stratford 

"Whereas there hath been a difference between the Indians of 
Pequonnock and the inhabitants of Stratford, for the issuing of which 
it is agreed that the Indians aforesayd acknowledging their former 
irregular carriage and misdemeanor and promising reformation in the 
particulars hereafter mentioned, it is then agreed that the aforesaid 
Indians shall have liberty to plant and improve the land between the 
fence that the Indians made and the bounds which the committee laid 
for the aforesaid Indians, till they shall forfeit the same in the appre- 
hension of the inhabitants of Stratford by breaking their engagement 
in the particulars following: 

"The Indians do hereby ingage not to kill or any way molest our 
cattle and swine. 

"They ingadge to medle with none of our corn or pease to steale 
from us. 

"They do ingadge so to mayntayne their fence which joynes to the 
fence of the Inhabitants of Stratford that the corn may be secured 
and if any damage comes through any defect in their fence they are 
to make satisfaction. 

"They are further, to keep up their fence winter and summer to 
prevent damaging either them or us. 

"They do further engadge to sufi^er none of the inhabitants of 
FajTcfeyld and those of the farmers to get in or drive any cattle 
through the aforesaid ground which the Indians improve, that is to 
say the whole bounds layed out by the committee upon and about 
Golden Hill. 

"The Indians aforesaid are well satisfied with what the committee 
had done, every particular, and concerning the two highways likewise. 



"These Indians have subscribed in the name of all the rest, this 
24th April. 1660. 

"Musquattat's Mask. 
"Nesuposu's Makk. 
"Pechekin's Mabk. 
"Nimhod's Mabk. 
"Nomledge's Mark." 

Thus was the GK>lden Hill Reservation established inside of the 
present city limits of Bridgeport and where, for over a centurj', the 
dwindling tribe of Indians lived, slowly giving up their land to 
the whites. By 1765 only four Indians remained. These four were 
removed and the white men came into possession of the ground. 


The Indifuis continued, even after the proceedings of the General 
Court, to ask pay for the land which they had occupied long years 
before the coming of the English. To these claims the townspeople 
were inclined to be charitable, for they hoped thereby to obtain a 
peaceful and amicable understanding with the Indians and forever 
end the strife. 

The first deed of purchase known was recorded in the first book of 
land records for the Colony at Hartford and was received by one 
Moses Wheeler, dated April 12, 1659. This deed was probably 
executed while the question of title was being debated before the 
General Court at Hartford. The deed concerned "a parcel of ground 
lying along the side of Potatuck River, the east end of it being on a 
small river, which they say is Nayump, the west end bounding to a 
great rock which reacheth the full length of all that plain piece of 
ground, and also to have two miles and a half of ground on the upland 
and all the meadow within that bounds." Wheeler claimed that the 
inhabitants of Stratford had persuaded him to make the purchase for 
"upwards of forty pounds," in order prevent the land from falling 
into other hands. 

The Court ruled in 1659, as stated before, that the territory 
belonged to Stratford without paying for it. Wheeler was permitted 
to retain possession of this land for a quarter century, then the town 
confiscated it and laid it out into lots to be divided among its citizens, 
among whom was Wheeler. However, the General Court came to 
Wheeler's aid in October, 1684, and recommended that the town settle 



in some way with Wheeler for the land. This they did by giving him 
one half of the ground. 

On June 5, 1660, Bray Rossiter received a deed from the Indians 
for Stratford land amounting to about (me hundred acres, located 
on the west side of the Housatonic about a mile above the Two Mile 
Island in that stream. This transfer of real estate established a 
precedent, for then all the Indians clamored to sell the land, their 
possession of which had been previously denied by the Court. 

Another deed was shortly given to the English involving the 
Mohegan Hills. Joseph Judson was the receiver of this land which 
included "a hop garden hard by ye river though on ye other side." A 
second deed was given in 1661 of land lying west from the Farmill 
River, extending west to the west branch of the Pequonnock River. 
The third deed in 1661 was by Towtanimow and his mother the wife 
of Ansantaway, the old chief of MOford, who also signed the deed. 
The deed was made to Samuel Sherman, John Hurd and Caleb 
Nichols, of Stratford. Towtanimow was the chief sachem at Paugas- 
setl at that time. 

In April of the year 1662 a deed was given by Okenuck, who 
succeeded Towtanimow, of land at the western boundary of the 
Paugassett lands. This deed covered some of the most desirable land 
along the Housatonic River. The land was deeded to Joseph Judson, 
Joseph Hawley and John Minor, of Stratford. 

In 1671 the people of Stratford decided to purchase all the land 
claimed by the Indians in one piece and so escape the task of buying 
it in small quantities. An agreement was made with the Indians to 
purchase all of their claims except those embodied in the reservation 
made by the Court. The matter was brought before the General 
Court and the latter body ordered a complete settlement, also 
appointed deputies to attend to the details. The consideration was 
ten coats and five pounds of powder and twenty pounds of lead. This 
purchase included a large portion of the northern half of Huntington 
Township. The purchase cost Stratford about forty pounds and was 
effective in that it kept the Indians quieted for about thirteen years, 
when another band of claimants reaffirmed the sale of previous years, 
for which it is understood the white settlers gave them remuneration 
in very small extent. This apparently ended the matter of Indian 
claims to the territory. 

In this connection the following paragraphs from Rev. Samuel 
Orcutt's History of Stratford and Bridgeport will be found inter- 
esting: "The local name Pootatuck, where the southern part of the 



Village of Shelton now stimds in the Town of Huntington, was within 
the original limits of the Town of Stratford and was occupied by 
Indians, apparently, until 1684, some forty years after the town began 
to be settled, although it was not a reservation. It was probably the 
most ancient settlement on that river below Weantinock uid retained 
the original name of the river, which was Pootatuck, meaning 'falls 
river' or the river with many falls. From the distribution of relics 
us well as the name of the river it is suggested that the Mohican, or 
Hudson River Indians, came through the opening of the mountains a 
little below the present Town of Kent, Connecticut, and finding the 
magnificent cascade or falls at the place now called Bull's Bridge, and 
on ascertaining the falls at New Milford and Canaan, tiiey named 
the river Pootatuck, 'falls river.' So far as ascertained, this was the 
only name applied by the Indians to this river when the whites first 
came here and from it came the general classification of Pootatuck 
Indians to all who resided upon it; except that they always retained — 
even to this day — the ancestral origin of Mohegans (usually pro- 
nounced by the Indians, Mohegans). The first settlement they made 
on the river of any considerable account was at New Milford, which 
was retained as the Council fireplace, or the capital, until the locality 
was sold in 1705. A small settlement was perhaps first made at Kent 
called Scatacook (Pish-gach-tigok) signifying 'the confluence of two 
streams,' for here were found by the first settlers such implements as 
were not made in this part of the country, as described by Dr. Trum- 
bull. * • * The only locality that retained the original name was at 
Shelton, and the extensiveness of the burials made there indicates 
greater antiquity than elsewhere except at New Milford. There was 
here also at the old Pootatuck Village, an old fort, when the English 
first came, and a new one had been built, just before, or was built 
soon after, at what is still called Fort Hill on the west side a little 
farther up the river." 

In 1681 the Pequonnock Indians sold their old planting field in 
Fairfield and in 1685, 1686 and 1687 disposed of all their claims in 
that town. Golden Hill and Coram in Stratford were alo,ne left 
to them, but Coram was not popular as a home with them. Most of 
the Indians moved on west, Newtown and New Milford becoming 
important villages from 1680 until 1705. About the same time these 
latter two places were abandoned by the Indians and sold for small 
sums to the white men. This left the eighty acres at Golden Hill and 
even this the whites endeavored to take from the Indians, but in May, 
1678, the General Court issued an order for the protection of the 



Indians at Golden Hill and confirming their right to the land until 
they should "relinquish their right publicly." 

In May, 1680, the Indians at Paugassett, through their sachem, 
asked for additional land, which request resulted in the appointment 
by the General Court of two committees, one to lay out one hundred 
acres at Turkey Hill for the Milford Indians and the other to lay out 
a similar tract at Corum Hill. The latter location never became 
popular and but few Indians ever lived there. 

Until October, 1763, the eighty acre reservation at Golden Hill 
was held by the Indians without trouble, but upon that date three 
Indians — Tom Sherman, Eunice Shoran, his wife and Sarah Shoran 
— presented a petition to the General Court, claiming that they "had 
quietly enjoyed said lands till within a few years last past, Gamaliel 
French, widow Sarah Booth, Elihu Burret, Joseph Booth, Mary Bur- 
ret, the Rev. Robert Ross, Ezra Kirtland, Aaron Hawley and Samuel 
Porter, all of said Stratford, and Daniel Morriss, John Burr, Jr., and 
Richard Hall, all of Fairfield, have entirely ejected and put the 
memorialists out of the whole of said lands and pulled down their wig- 
wam without right." The Court acted upon this complaint by ap- 
pointing & committee, consisting of Jabez Hamlin, Benjamin Hall 
and Robert Treat, to investigate, but their work being unsatisfactory, 
a second committee was named. These men, who were Jabez Hamlin. 
Elisha Sheldon and Robert Treat, reported in October, 1765, that an 
agreement had been made with the Indians to sell all of the eighty 
acres except "a certain piece or parcel of land called Nimrod lot, con- 
taining about twelve acres, with the spring at the point of Golden Hill 
aforesaid, bounded westerly by an highway, eastwardly by Pequon- 
nock River, northerly by Jabez Summer's land, and southerly by the 
Core and common land, also about eight acres of wood-land at Rocky 
Hill, to be purchased for them by the petitioners, they also paying to 
them the said Indians, thirty bushels of Indian com and three pounds 
worth of blankets." 

The last owner of the Golden Hill Reservation was Tom Sherman ; 
he married Eunice Shoran and to them were bom three children, Tom, 
Eunice and Sarah. 

To sum up the relations between the white men and the Indians 
in this territory it may be said that both Stratford and Fairfield were 
considered by the Connecticut Colony as conquered and ceded ter- 
ritory and for a period of a decade were treated as one plantation. The 
same system of taxation applied to both, magistrates officiated over 
them as one and together they provided for the Pequonnock Indians 



from 1659 until 1680. Stratford gave the land for the Golden Hill 
Reservation and Fairfield contributed to its support and from its 
inhabitants were chosen the agents for overseeing the Indians. 


The early English settlers in Connecticut experienced much 
trouble with the Indian inhabitants. There were two distinct wars 
between the two races, one in 1687 and the other in 1675-6. The 
former was the Pequot war, which began in May, 1637, and closed 
one month later in the swamp which was located near what is now the 
Village of Southport. Ninety men under Capt. John Mason 
attacked the Indians on the morning of the 5th of June and com- 
pletely defeated them, killing many and driving the remainder west- 
ward. The soldiers took up the pursuit, crossing the Connecticut 
River and proceeding along the shores of the Sound. At New Haven 
a number of Indians were killed, also at Stratford where the Pequots 
were joined by the Pequonnocks. Hostages were taken from the 
Pequonnocks for harboring the enemy Indians and many of their 
women were sold into servitude in this state and Massachusetts. This 
ajid other cruel measures instilled into the mind of the Indian a terrible 
desire for revenge and it is said by authorities upon Indian histories 
that the struggle of later years known as King Phillip's war was the 
direct outcome of the punishment inflicted upon the Indians in 1687. 
The colonists lived in constant fear of attack and many times, even 
as late as 1724, the General Court despatched troops to Fairfield 
County for protection against possible outbreaks. In the plantations 
of Fairfield and Stratford, also in Norwalk, Stamford and Green- 
wich, the white settlers were outnumbered fully five to one by the 
Indians. Not only this, but the English were poorly prepared to 
resist a combined attack. Their lives were undoubtedly in severe 
danger, augmented by the trouble between the Dutch and Indians 
at New York. Doctor Trumbull wrote of an incident occurring near 
Fairfield as follows: 

"In the year of 1644 the Indians were no more peaceable than 
they were the year before. Those in the western part of Connecticut 
still conducted themselves in a hostile manner. In the spring they 
mxu-dered a man, belon^g to Massachusetts, between Fairfield and 
Stamford. About six or eight weeks after the murder was discovered, 
the Indians promised to deliver the murderer at Uncoway (Fairfield), 
if Mr. Ludlow would appoint men to receive him. Mr. Ludlow sent 



ten men for that purpose; but as soon as the Indians came within 
sight of the town, they, by general consent, unbound the prisoner 
and suffered him to escape. The English were so exasperated at this 
insult that they immediately seized on eight or ten of the Indians, 
Mid committed them to prison. There was among them not less than 
one or two sachems. Upon this, the Indians arose in great numbers 
about the town, and exceedingly alarmed the people, both at Fairfield 
and Stamford. » * * The Indians were held in custody until four 
sachems, in those parts, appeared and interceded for them, promising 
that if the English would release them, they would, within a month, 
deliver the murderer to justice." 

It is not strange, considering the circumstances briefly described 
in the foregoing paragraphs, that the settlements at Stratford and 
Fairfield had trouble making progress during these troublesome times. 
The people were handicapped by their constant fear of attack from 
the savages and every means within their power was used to prepare 
for the worst. Outnumbered, surrounded and with inefficient militia 
service every day was one of watchfulness for the settlers ; they worked 
in the fields with their flintlocks at hand, they carried firearms to 
church, to town meetings, everywhere they went. In more exciting 
periods constant guard, day and night, was maintained at every house. 

Many Indian relics such as arrow heads, mortars and pestles, axes 
and tomahawks, small implements, pipes and vessels, have been 
unearthed in Bridgeport, Stratford and Fairfield. Also, within the 
City of Bridgeport there are traces known of three distinct burying 
grounds. One of these was near the old gas works, one near the 
Prospect Street school building and the other upon a hill south of 
State Street and east of Main Street, 





The City of Bridgeport, sometimes called The Park City, when 
first the scene of a white man's visit, was the site of an Indian village. 
Five or six hundred Indians lived here in about one hundred and fifty 
wigwams. These were the Pequonnocks. From the mouth of the 
Housatonic to a point near Southport there was a fertile plain of sandy 
and loam-bearing soil about a mile in width. Forests covered a portion 
of this plain, but here and there the white men found open fields, as 
well as spaces cleared and cultivated by the Indians. Commencing 
about one mile from the shore of the Sound hills began, rising gradu- 
ally for a distance of twelve or fifteen miles. Upon this favorable loca- 
tion the nucleus of the future manufacturing metropolis was located 
about the year of 1665. This quiet and peaceful scene has undergone 
an inconceivable change in the two and a half centuries since the Eng- 
lish came. One might write allegorically of the change, how the 
pioneer has moved on to the West, the Indian has disappeared and the 
black smoke of scores of industries has replaced the blue smoke of his 
campfire, but such would be needless. The fact that the Bridgeport of 
today is a new creation, a thing different from the Puritanical New- 
field or the quaint Stratfield, is better proved by the story of her 
growth, from a village to the foremost city in the state of Connecticut. 


There were two families which at first located within the Town of 
Stratford west of the Pequonnock River. These were the families of 



Henry Summers, Sr., and Samuel Gregory. It is believed now that 
they constructed their log houses on a spot now near the junction of 
Park and Washington avenues. 

There were no roads in the vicinity and everything was very prim- 
itive. There had been an attempt to lay out a highway on the east 
side of the boundary line between Fairfield and Stratford, but beyond 
the laying out of a reservation four rods wide nothing had been done. 
An Indian trail passed to the northeast over Golden Hill, where 
Washington avenue is now located. The Indians had pitched their 
wigwams on the southern slope of the hill, near the springs which later 
furnished Bridgeport with her first public water. The white children 
then were afraid of the Indians and it is to be assumed that the elders 
also were apprehensive of the Pequonnocks. Fairfield had been the 
scene of Indian depredations before and consequently the newcomers 
hved in a state of constant preparedness. There were a few white 
people living at Old Mill Green. Also the inhabitants of Fairfield 
had spread out nearly to the Stratford line, or what is now Park ave- 
nue. Col. John Burr's home, which had been erected when the cele- 
brated Indian Council had been held under oak tree in May, 1681, was 
but half a mile west from Samuel Gregory's house. This lent some 
comfort and sense of security to the Gregory arid Summers families. 

The third and fourth settlers in this community were Capt. John 
Beardsley and his brother, Samuel. Shortly after, Samuel Wells lo- 
cated in what is now the southern part of Bridgeport. In the north- 
em part others came in, the Hawley family and the Booth and Sher- 
man families. Several families came from Fairfield, also Samuel 
French moved here from Derby. Like other New England communi- 
ties the one here was largely under the jurisdiction of the church. The 
history of the latter serves well as a story of the first settlement in 
this territory. 


The formation of the Stratfield Ecclesiastical Society began by 
the organization of a school, which has been described by William B. 
Hineks as follows : 

"The oldest document signed by the inhabitants of the plantation 
as such, that I have been able to find any account of, is a petition to 
the Greneral Court dated May, 1678, subscribed by Isaac Wheeler, 
John Odell, Sr., and Matthew Sherwood, in behalf of the people of 
the place. The distance of nearly four miles that separates them from 



Fairfield Center is too great, they say, to be easily traversed by the 
children, especially the younger ones, and therefore they had set up a 
school of their own, and employed an experienced teacher. Forty- 
seven children were already in attendance. The expense of the school 
they propose to bear themselves, but ask to be freed from taxation ' 
for the benefit of the one in Fairfield. Rev. Samuel Wakeman, min- 
ister at Fairfield, adds a favorable endorsement to the petition, thou^ 
most of his parishioners were opposed to granting it. The General 
Court referred the matter to the Fairfield County Court, with power 
to act, and recommended that body to make an allowance to the peti- 
tioners, equal to or greater than their annual school tax." 

This applied only to the Fairfield people residing at Pequonnock, 
as the Stratford people living in Pequonnock had a school on the east 
side of the line very early. 

There are documents which seem to prove that Rev. Charles 
Chauncey served the people here as pastor from 1688 to 1694, for 
which he was paid in provisions. The proprietors of imdivided lands 
in Stratford gave several acres of land to the new community, as they 
had done in other places in the town, in 1719. "Granted to our neigh- 
bors of Stratfield parish that belong to Stratford fifteen acres of 
pasture land. • • * for and towards the support of a Presby- 
terian minister amongst them forever, for the only benefit of our 
neighbors belonging to Stratford." About this time a merchant, Jo- 
seph Bennitt, was established in Stratfield by the vote of the society. 

In 1690 another petition was sent to the Gi«neral Assembly, signed 
by forty-six taxpayers. This list is probably reasonably complete in 
the names of the hoiiseholders then living here. 

"petition for ecclesiastical PSrVILEOES 

"To the Gen'I Court of Connecticut (whom we honor), in their next 
session at Hartford : 

"We, the inhabitants and persons of Poquonnock, do in all humil- 
ity address and apply ourselves unto you in mann'r method and form 

"Manifesting unto this honor'd respected representative body that 
this vicinity of Poquonnock afores'd appertaineth part to the town of 
Fairfield, and part to the town of Stratford, unto which two town- 
ships it hath been fully responsible according to obligations, for meet- 
ing house and school dues, rates and assessments; we, the dwellers 
there, have to the towns we have been engaged to, ever punctually paid 



our acknowledgements, taxes and charges, as we have from time to 
time been laid under such bonds and indisputable engagements. But 
now since we are by the blessing and grace of Almighty God risen 
and advanced to somewhat more maturity and ripeness, and grown 
more populous than before, in capacity to stand within ourselves, with- 
out running for succor six or seven miles on one hand, and at least 
four on the other; we doe make it our joynt, ardent request and pas- 
sionate petition to this honor'd esteem 'd Court, that you would in the 
greatness of your goodness, and out of your sincere zeal to the com- 
fort of this part every way, so order it in yoiu: new convention that 
wee, every one of us, that are settled inhabitants of and steady dwellers 
in Foquonnock, may be exempted and relaxed from any minister's rate 
or rates and schooll mastours salerys, either in Fairfield or Stratford 
afores'd, purposing (God smiling on and favouring our enterprises) 
to suit o'rselves in time convenient w'th such meet instrum'ts for ye 
pulpit and scholl, as may most and best serve the interest of our G^od, 
and do our souls and children most good; such as shall bee most pain- 
full pious aud profitable for these ends to w'ch they were ordain'd, 
and are improv'd. And your humb. petitioners shall ever continue to 
pray for your long life and prosperity, subsigning this our address, 
dated 2d May, 1690. 

"John Bardsle, Sr. 
"Richard Hobbell, Sr. 
"Matthew Sherwood. 
"Samuel Wells. 
"Isaac Wheeler. 
"James Benitt. 
"Roburd Bishop. 
"Jacob Wakelen. 
"Samuel Hubbell. 
"Samuel Hall. 
"Richard Hubell. 
"Samuel Tredwell. 
"Izhak Hall. 
"Thranas Wheller. 
"Moses Jackson, Jr. 
"Matthew Sherwood, Jr. 
"David Reynolds. 
"Nathaniel Knapp. 
"Will Barsley. 

"Matthew Sherwood, Jr. 
"Isaac Wheeler, Sr. 
"Thomas Griffin. 
"Samuel Morhous. 
"Samuel Bardsle. 
"Samuel Bardsley. 
"David Sherman. 
"Samuel Gregory. 
"John Odell, Sr. 
"John Wheller. 
"Joseph Seely. 
"Samuel Jackson. 
"Moses Jackson, Sr. 
"Ephraim Wheller. 
"Daniel Bardsle. 
"Samuel French. 
"Samuel Hubbell. 
"Timothy Wheller. 
"Thomas Benit. 

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"Ed Tredwell._ "Thos. Morhous. 

"Jacob Joy. "John Sherwood. 

"John Odell, Jr. "Joseph Joy. 

"John Benitt, Jr. "Samuel Sumers." 

At the time of this above petition Fairfield opposed the idea of 
the petitioners, but in May, 1694, they renewed their request and 
liberty was granted to them by the General Assembly to orgwiize an 
independent society of their own. The name Pequonnock was then 
changed to Fairfield village, and in May, 1701, to Stratfield. 


Under date of December 29, 1692, there is the following record: 
"The neighbors at Paquonnock requested of the town liberty that in 
case the good people at Paquannock should see cause to build a meet- 
ing house there at Paquonnock the liberty to set the said'house part 
upon Stratford bounds, and said town by vote granted the same." 
This proves that good feeling existed between the people of the new 
settlement of Pequonnock and the Stratford settlers. It is therefore 
probable that the first meeting house was located on the Fairfield- 
Stratford boundary line. W. B. Hincks wrote: "In 1698 the founila- 
tion of a house of worship was laid on an eminence in the upper part 
of Division street (Parkavenue),afew rods south of the King's High- 
way {North avenue) . This height affords a pleasant view of the sur- 
rounding country and is still called Meetinghouse Hill. The building, 
though small, was not completed until 1695, and in the meantime it 
is probable that the people gathered upon the Sabbath in a private 
house, having already provided themselves with a pastor." 

Following is a copy of the first page of the earliest Stratfield 
church book, which gives quite an insight into the life at that time: 

"The Church of Christ in Stratfield (formerly called Poquan- 
nuck) was gathered and Charles Chauncey was ordained the pastor 
thereof, June 18, 1695. 

"The names of those that at that time were embodied into church 
estate were as followeth : 

"Charles Chauncey, Past'r. "James Benitt, Sr. 

"Richard Hubble, sen. "Samuel Beardsley. 

"Isaac Wheeler, sen. "Samuel Gregory, Sr. 

"Mathew Sherman. "David Sherman. 

"Rich'd Hubble, jun'r. "John Odill, Jr. 



"The names of those that were afterwards received by vertue of 
Letters Dissmissory or Recommendatory from other churches were 
as followeth: 

"From Fairfield Church "From Stratford Church 

"Mary Sherwood. "Abigaill Hubble. 

"Anne Wheeler. "Mary Bennit. 

"Mary Odill. "Abigaill Beardsley. 

"Rebecca Gregory. "Abigaill Wakely. 

"Ruth Tredwell. "Temperance Hubble. 

"Mercy Wheeler. "Mercy Sherman. 

"Abigaill Wells. "Their letter was read and ac- 

"Elizabeth Sherwood. cepted July 10, 1695. 
"Sarah OdiU. 

"Their letters were read and 
accepted Anno 1695. 

"Concord. Joseph Wheeler and wife. Their letter was read and 

"From the Church of Christ, Norwalk; Mary Jackson, her letter 
was read December 20, 1697, and accepted. 

"Stratford, Hannah Fairchild; her letter was read and accepted 
by the church September 10, 1699. 

"Thomas Hawley, his letter was read and accepted. 

"Fairfield church; Mary Beardsley, Jno's wife; her letter was 
read and accepted July 26, 1702. 

"Woodbury, AbegaiU Tredwell's letter was read and accepted 
November 24, 1704. 

"Concord, Sarah Whitacus, her letter was read and accepted Turte 
17, 1705. 

"Charlestown, Zachariah Ferris, sen., his letter was read and ac- 
cepted September 9, 1705." 

There were ninety-seven persons in the church at the time of Rev- 
erend Chauncey's departure in 1714. Rev. Charles Chauneey is knf)wn 
as the first pastor of the Stratfield Congregational Church. He was 
the son of Rev. Israel Chauneey, of Stratford, and a grandson of 
President Chauneey of Harvard College. He was born at Stratford 
September 8, 1668, and died in the year 1714. He was a graduate of 
Harvard College in 1686 and was married at Pequonnock June 29, 
1692, to Sarah Burr, daughter of Maj. John Burr and great-grand- 
daughter of Jehu Burr, one of the first settlers of Fairfield. In 1697 



bis wife died, after which he married Sarah Wolcott of Windsor in 
1698. Her death occurred in 1702 and in 1710 he again married, 
choosing Elizabeth Sherwood as his bride. The first deacon of Rev- 
erend Chamicey's cbm^h was David Sherman, one of the first settlers 
of Pequonnock. The second meeting house of the church was erected 
in 1717, under the pastorate of Samuel Cooke. This old Stratfield 
church was the parent of the old First Bridgeport Church. 


In the handwriting of Rev. Samuel Cooke, the second pastor of 
the Stratfield Church, there exists an old record, giving the names of 
the householders residing in the parish about the year 1738 or 1784. 
The date is left blank upon the record, but the above mentioned years 
are undoubtedly the correct ones. The spelling of the names is iden- 
tical with that in the old record. This list follows : 

James Bennitt, Sr. 
Isaac Bennitt. 
William Bennitt. 
James Bennitt, Jr. 
Stephen Bennitt. 
William Beardsle, Sr. 
Daniel Beardsle. 
John Beardsle, Sr. 
Nathan Beardsle. 
Wilham Beardsle, Jr. 
Ebenezer Beardsle. 
David Beardsle. 
John Beardsle, Jr. 
Obadiah Beardsle. 
Joseph Booth. 
John Burr, Sr. 
John Burr, Jr. 
Charles Burrett. 
Stephen Burrows. 
Samuel Cable. 
Israel Chauncey. 
Robert Chauncey. 
Caleb Cole. 
Daniel Comestock. 

Samuel Cooke. 
Elijah Crane. 
Jonah Curtiss. 
John Edwards, Sr. 
Thomas Edwards. 
John Edwards, Jr. 
Sarah Fayerweather. 
John Fayerweather. 
Abigail Fayerweather 
Deborah Fairchild. 
James Fairchild. 
Samuel French's widow. 
Samuel French. 
Ebenezer French. 
Samuel Gregory. 
Benjamin Gregory. 
Ebenezer Gregory. 
Thaddeus Gregory. 
Enock Gregory. 
Francis Hall, Sr. 
John Hall. 
Samuel Hall. 
Burgess Hall. 
Francis Hall, Jr., 

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Richard Hall. 
Elnatban Hall. 
Ebenezer Hawley. 
James Hawley. 
William Hodgden. 
Matthew Horn. 
Richard Hubbell, Sr. 
James Hubbell. 
John HubbeU. 
Daniel Hubbell. 
Stephen Hubbell. 
David Hubbell. 
Joseph Hubbell. 
Ebenezer Hubbell. 
Zaehariah Hubbell. 
Richard Hubbell, Jr. 
Andrew Hubbell. 
Nathan Hurd. 
Moses Jackson. 
.John Jackson's widoic. 
Gabriel Jackson. 
John Jackson. 
David Jackson, Sr. 
David Jackson, Jr. 
John Jones. 
Edward Lacey. 
John Lacey. 
Ebenezer Lacy. 
Zaehariah Lawrence. 
Matthew McHard. 
John Mallett. Sr. 
David Mallett, Jr. 
John Man. 
Samuel Martin. 
Nicholas Masters. 
Zaehariah Mead. 
John Middlebrook. 
Noah Morehouse. 
John Odell. 
Samuel Odell's widow 
William Odell. 

Hezekiah Odell. 
Samuel Odell. 
Samuel Patchen. 
Benjamin Phippeny. 
John Porter. 
Valentine Rowell. 
Henry Rowland. 
Zaehariah Sanford. 
Ezekiel Sanford. 
Thomas Sanford. 
James Seelye's widow. 
Joseph Seelye. 
David Sherman, Sr. 
David Sherman, Jr. 
Enos Sherman. 
John Sherwood. 
Nathaniel Sherwood. 
Matthew Sherwood. 
William Smith, Sr. 
William Smith, Jr. 
John Smith's widow. 
Jacob Starling. 
Henry Stevens. 
Peter Stevens. 
Thomas Stoddard. 
Samuel Summers* widow. 
Henry Summers. 
John Summers. 
David Summers. 
Nathan Summers. 
Edward Tredwell. 
Deborah Tredwell. 
Benjamin Tredwell. 
Zaehariah Tredwell. 
Hezekiah Tredwell. 
Samuel Tredwell. 
Jacob Tredwell. 
Samuel Trowbridge, Sr. 
Samuel Trowbridge, Jr. 
Jonah Tumy. 
Robert Turny. 

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Jonathan Wakely, Sr. Samuel Wells. 

Henry Wakely. John Wheeler. 

Joseph Wakely. Timothy Wheeler. 

Israel Wakely. Isaac Wheeler 

Nathaniel Wakely. Ebenezer Wheeler. 

Jonathan Wakely, Jr. Richard Whitny, 
Samuel Wells' widow. 


Isaac Wheeler was one of the first settlers of the Town of Fair- 
field in 1644. He was a farmer and landowner on a large scale. It 
is said that his mother paid a tax on 706 acres of land in 1681. Of 
this land Isaac had received his share prior to his father's death in 
1670. He was one of the nine male members of the first Stratfield 
church when it was organized. 

Samuel Welles was a farmer, a part of his land being the portion 
known as Welles' Tongue. He was the son of John Welles and the 
grandson of Governor Thomas Welles. In fact it was John Welles 
who first laid out the land and it was bequeathed to Samuel in his will. 
Samuel had one son, David Wakeman Welles. 

John Mallett was a native of France and also an agriculturist. The 
Mallett family afterward located at Tashua was descended from John 

Benjamin Hubbell was a tiller of the soil and married into the Mid- 
dlebrook family of Trumbull. He had one son, John, who married 
Betty Brothwell and became the father of five children, all daughters. 

Benjamin Wheeler was the grandson of Isaac Wheeler and fol- 
lowed the usual occupation of farming. Benjamin Wheeler was the 
father of Timothy Wheeler, and the grandfather of Benjamin, Ezra 
and Hannah Wheeler. 

Samuel Odell, farmer, was once a justice of the peace and one of 
the "pillars" of the church. He had one son, Maline Odell. Maline 
was lost at sea about 1800 while sailing in a clipper-built schooner com- 
manded by Capt. Benjamin Wheeler, a descendant of Isaac. None of 
the crew or the vessel were ever heard from after departing from New 
York. Captain Wheeler himself left a wife and five children. 

Capt. Abel Wakelee, a deep sea sailor, was drowned when the brig 
Julius Caesar was sunk while en route from the West Indies to 
Bridgeport with a load of salt. The crew and the officers were all 
saved in the lifeboat, except Captain Wakelee and a colored man, Ned, 



a slave owned by Capt. Amos Hubbell, who owned the brig. The cap- 
tain left two sons, Charles and Walker. 

William Rose was a Frenchman and lived in Nova Scotia before 
coming to Stratfield. He was one of the colony of French there which 
was deported prior to the Revolution by the English and distributed 
among the thirteen New England states. Doctor Fogg was also among 
the number who were landed in this vicinity. Rose pursued the occu- 
pation of gardener here, while Doctor Fogg practiced his profession 
until his death after the Revolution. Rose lived until April 21, 1812, 
reaching the age of ninety years. The story has been written of Rose 
that he and his dog, Lyon, were in a small boat off shore fishing, when 
the boat capsized. Rose was unable to swim, so he grasped his dog's 
tail and commanded him to swim for shore. The shore almost gained, 
the dog for some reason turned about. "Tudder way, Lyon," again 
ordered the master, whereupon the dog resolutely faced toward land 
again and drew Rose to the shore and safety. 

Hezekiah Wheeler was a tailor and his product consisted of heavy 
buckskin breeches, quite the fashionable wear in those days. He was 
a descendant of Isaac Wheeler. Hezekiah had one son, Wilson, who 
was lost at sea. 

William Hubbell was a house painter. David Hubbell was his son. 

An interesting character of pioneer days here was Justin Smith, a 
stone cutter. He was a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, and was 
particularly skilled in working the brown stone of the Portland quar- 
ries in Connecticut. In 1789 he left that place with a ship cargo of that 
stone, bound for Mill River at Fairfield. A storm came up and he 
was forced to seek refuge in Bridgeport harbor. While here a num- 
ber of citizens persuaded him to remain and employ his trade in this 
place. This he did and became one of the most respected and valued 
citizens of the community. Some of the evidences of his stone-cutting 
ability is attested by the brown stone monuments in the old Stratfield 
buPi'ing ground and in Mountain Grove where some have been moved 
from the old Division Street Cemetery. His, home stood at about 
the present 240 Park Avenue. Mr. Smith died March 17, 188.5, at the 
age of eighty-one years. He married Mary Fox of Chatham and to 
them were born several children. She survived her husband fourteen 
years, dying at ninety-"two years of age. 

Capt. Samuel Wakelee was a shipmaster and before the Revolu- 
tion was in the passenger service between the States and Europe. 

Capt. William Worden, carpenter, farmer, whig, militia captain 



and strong church member, was a prominent member of the early 
community here. 

Justus Burr was the son of Col. John Burr and a farmer. He met 
his death while drawing a load of hay into his bam by ox-team. The 
oxen ran through a small door and crushed him. 

Ezra Kirtland was a blacksmith. He came here before the Revo- 
lutionary war from Wallingford and located on the old Golden Hill 
Road, later Washington Avenue. Upon part of his land the Fequon- 
nock Indians had been located when the parish was first settled. The 
Kirtland family probably owned a greater part of the land south of 
Washington Avenue as- far south as Fairfield Avenue. Ezra Kirtland 
married a daughter of Zebulon Wakelee and had two sons — Zebulon 
and Ezra. Courtland Street was named in honor of the Kirtland fam- 
ily, the name becoming changed in the process. 

Capt. Joseph Knapp was master of a coasting vessel carrying grain 
between here and Boston. This constituted a very profitable business 
then as all the trading was done in Boston by Bridgeport merchants. 
About 1790 the trade switched to New York. The captain had three 
children — Joseph, Jr., Patience and Ruth. Joseph, Jr., was killed by 
a fall from a tree when eighty years of age. 

Thaddeus Gregory was a merchant and house joiner, also promi- 
nent in military affairs. He died in 1777 at the age of seventy-seven 

Zebulon Wakelee was a farmer and lived on Division Street (Park 
Avenue), near the first meeting house. 

Andrew Sherwood was a farmer and blacksmith. His two sons 
were David and Zachariah. 

Lewis Angevine, a Frenchman and weaver, was a well known char- 
acter in the early community. He was known as an eccentric sort of 

Capt. Thaddeus Bennett, a shoemaker and farmer, became noted 
at the break of the Revolution. He was captain of the trainband and 
went to New York with his company in August, 1776, to aid in the 
defense of that city. His company suffered large casualties and the 
captain himself died soon after returning from the 1777 campaign. 
He left four children: Joseph W., Thaddeus, Jr., Grizell and Sarah. 
The prls married Isaac Odell and Nathan Fairchild, respectively, both 
of whom saw service in the Revolution. 

Lieut. David Sherman was a farmer and lieutenant of the Strat- 
field militia company. He had three sons — Elnathan, Jonathan and 

Digitized byGOOgIC 


David. The latter was killed by lightning in the old Pequonnock 
meeting house July 28, 1771. 

Dr. James Eaton Beach, a descendant of Governor Theophilus 
Eaton of the New Haven Colony, came from New Haven to Strat- 
field about 1778 and became the parish physician. He became very 
prominent here. 

Jabez Sherman moved to New Haven in the early '70s prior to 
the Revolution. 

Josiah TreadwelJ was a weaver by trade, which was also followed 
by his son, Samuel. 

Enoch Gregory was a farmer of large means and a slaveholder, 

Andrew Beardsley was a weaver. John W. Beardsley, Henry and 
Rufus Burr were his descendants. Another weaver at this time was 
John Hall. 

Capt. Samuel Sherwood was a farmer and slave owner. He 
married Ann Nichols. In this way he came into possession of New 
Pasture Point, later called Sherwood's Point, from which vessels were 
loaded for the West Indies. 

David Sherman was one of the first settlers in the parish. His 
home, which was very pretentious for the time, was located on the 
top of Toilsome Hill. He was the son of Samuel Sherman, of Strat- 
ford, who came from the Town of Dedham, Essex County, England, 
and was one of the nine original members of the church in Stratfleld. 
He was the father of nine daughters, one of whom married Henry 
Rowland, grandson of Henry Rowland who came to Fairfield from 
Essex County, England. 

Samuel Edwards was a farmer. His son, Shelton, was murdered 
in 1796 at the store of David and John DeForest, comer of State and 
Water streets, Bridgeport, where he worked. It was late in the year, 
at 10:30 o'clock one night, when some unknown persons or person 
caused the death of young Edwards by beating in his head with a 
hammer and cutting his throat, then placed under the counter and 
the store fired. The DeForest boys claimed that their store was robbed 
at the same time. No evidence of the identity of the murderer was ever 

Ebenezer Hall, Nathaniel Sherwood and Gurdon Sherwood were 
all prominent farmers in Stratfleld. Hall was both a poet and post- 
rider at different times. 

Capt. John Edwards, a native of Scotland, came to this country 
about 1700. In Scotland he was an officer in the army, was taken pris- 
oner and as a rebel was sentenced to face the firing squad. On the way 



to the place of execution, guarded by a light cavalry troop, he made 
his escape and hid under a bridge. The soldiers did not find him and 
before long he was aboard a vessel, bound for the States. It is thought 
that he landed at Black Rock harbor and built his home on Chestnut 
Hill, where the wilderness concealed his abode from passing ships. 
He died about 1740 at the age of eighty-eight years and was buried 
in the old Stratfield Cemetery, where his wife, Mary, also lies. He 
is said to be the ancestor of nearly all the Edwards in this vicinity. 

John Nichols was a farmer, blacksmith and innkeeper. General 
Washington lodged with him while traveUng to Rhode Island to meet 
Genera] Lafayette, Nichols, as the story goes, once owned a negro 
slave named Tom, who ran away and was never apprehended. 

William Burr, merchant and justice of the peace, and Joseph 
Strong, farmer and also a justice of the peace, were early settlers of 

Quitfe an unique person in early Stratfield was Rev. Robert Ross, 
who became pastor of the church November 28, 1758, and remained as 
such for more than forty-two years. He was a graduate of Prince- 
ton College and an ardent whig. It is said that he was of commands 
ing appearance, with his wig, cocked hat, black clothes, white-topped 
boots and six feet of stature. Reverend Ross was a slaveholder, own- 
ing one negro, Pedro. After the Revolution he held no more slaves. 
Reverend Ross died August 29, 1799, of fever and within the day his 
wife followed him on account of the same malady. They were in- 
terred in the same grave. 

Benjamin Fayerweather, farmer, was the owner of Fayerweathers 
Island, where the Black Rock lighthouse was afterward located. He 
had one son, Nathaniel, who married Charity Summers, and they had 
three children — James, Daniel and Polly. Nathaniel Fayerweather 
was taken prisoner by the British on Long Island Sound and confined 
in what was afterward Doctor Spring's old brick church, then in pos- 
session of the enemy. In this prison Nathaniel died of smallpox. 

John Holburton, a native English farmer; Samuel Cable, a cooper 
and innkeeper; Sergt. Jabez Summers, farmer; Abel Lewis, cabinet 
maker; were others of usefulness in the settlement. 

Jacob Sterling, a ship carpenter, came from England, thence to 
Haverhill, from which place he escaped at the time of the Indian 
massacre. He first went to Lyme, Connecticut, and then came to this 

Abijah Sterling, a grandson of the above, was for many years a 
representative in the General Assembly. In his old fashioned chaise 



in 1776 he rescued David Shennan and Esquire Sterling who were 
suffering with dysentery at Harlem. He brought them home in his 
carriage, after which they recovered. Lieut. Edward Burroughs of 
this parish died with the same sickness after reaching home. 

Abijah Beardsley was a farmer and blacksmith. He married Dru- 
silla, daughter of Master Wheeler of Toilsome Hill. Three sons 
were born to them, namely: Anson, Wheeler and Abijah. Abijah, 
Jr., in his youth shipped from Bridgeport as a seaman, in a brig com- 
manded by Capt. Samuel Hawley, to Antigua. On this voyage he 
was taken by an English press-gang and forced to serve on a British 
man-of-war. When this ship returned to Antigua he was released 
through the efforts of Sylvanus Sterling and Robert Southworth, 
who were in business there. Soon after he arrived home he again 
shipped on board of a schooner sailing for the West Indies. This 
schooner was lost in a hurricane in 1806 and all oh board were lost. 

Stephen Burroughs was one of the foremost men in Stratfield. 
He was sort of a jack-of -all-trades, being ship-builder, Boston coaster, 
astronomer, surveyor and inventor. In the War of the Revolution 
he followed his whig tendencies and raised a company of "House- 
holders," of which he was elected captain. Several times he was 
representative to the General Assembly and was also justice of the 
peace for several years. It is said that about the year 1798 he invented 
a system of federal money which was later used by the United States. 
He died in 1817 at the age of eighty-eight years, having been blind for 
some time before his demise. Four sons and three daughters descended 
from him, namely: Stephen, Isaac, David and Abijah, Eunice, Bet- 
sey and Huldah. Abijah was lost at sea and David died of fever in 

Elijah Burritt was a notable pioneer of Stratfield, and lived to he 
ninety-eight years of age. His death occurred September 28, 1841. 
Mr. Burritt was the father of one son, Daniel, and three daughters. 

Philip Nichols was a young man with wisdom enough to believe 
that the west side of the harbor would first become a city. Accord- 
ingly he bought considerable land there, where much of the business 
portion of the City of Bridgeport now lies. 

William Pixlee, from Massachusetts, came to Stratford when of 
age and bought land on the spot later the southwestern comer of Old 
Mill Green. 

Richard Nichols, the son of Isaac, Jr., was but twelve years of 
age when his father died, whereupon he, his mother, and two brothers 
removed to Newtown, L. I. Richard returned in 1702 and married 



Comfort, daughter of Theophilus Sherman. His home was on the 
corner of Old Mill Green and East Main Street. 

Samuel Sherman, Jr., was the first settler of this place on Old Mill 
Green. In 1663 his father purchased James Blakeman's half of the 
mill property here, which consisted of twenty acres of upland and 
some meadow. Samuel Blakeman owned the other half. In 1680 
Samuel Sherman, Sr., presented this property to his son, Samuel, Jr. 
The highway later known as Pembroke Street began at the house of 
Mr. Sherman. 

Ebenezer Hurd was a postrider for a period of forty-eight years. 
In the Magazine of American History, 1885, page 118, an article by 
Mrs. Martha J. Lamb contains the following: "This same year 
{ 1775) Ebenezer Hurd, a regular postrider, closed a service of forty- 
eight years, having begun it in 1727. Once in a fortnight, during 
that entire period, he had made a journey from New York to Say- 
brook and back, 274 miles. In other words — for such is the compu- 
tation — during those forty-eight years he had traveled over as much 
spaCe as 121/2 times around the world, or as far as to the moon 
and half-way back. Meantime, what of the wife? Bringing up the 
children, managing the farm and during one year at least, 1767, spin- 
ning not less than 500 yards of wool and flax, all raised on the place, 
making and mending, especially for that indefatigable rider, who was 
doubtless 'hard on his clothes.' " Ebenezer was just as indefatigable 
' as a father, as he was blessed with fifteen children. Abigail Hubbell 
was his wife. Two of his sons — Ebenezer, Jr., and Andrew were also 
postriders, frequently riding in their father's place as well as attend- 
ing to their own duties. 

Capt. Stephen Summers was a farmer and Boston coaster. His 
son, Stephen, Jr., was a master of the brig William, plying from 
Bridgeport to New Providence. In November, 1810, she left port 
here and was never again seen. 

Capt. Amos Hubbell was numbered among the most prominent 
citizens of early Bridgeport. Franklin Sherwood writes of Cap- 
tain Hubbell as follows: "The borough was soon to be called upon to 
mourn the death of one of its most respected and prominent citizens 
and its first warden, Capt. Amos Hubbell, who died July 2, 1801, aged 
fifty-five years. It is stated, on creditable authority, that he was a son 
of Capt. Abraham Hubbell, who came from Wilton, built a wharf and 
store north of the Fairfield Road, and died of smallpox at Boston. 
He was succeeded in his business in Newfield by his two sons, Rich- 
ard and Amos. The family were active whigs during the Revolution. 



Soon after the Revolution Captain Amos built a store on Water 
Street north of Morris Street, which for a long time was known as 
the 'Yellow Store,' from the color of its paint. He dissolved part- 
nership with his brother and continued business in his new store. He 
was engaged in the Boston coasting and West Indian trade. It is 
stated that he owned a ship and two brigs, one of which was named 
Julius Caesar, and was built near his store. At the time of his death 
his residence was on the north side of Morris Street. Previous to that 
he resided on Clinton Avenue. Of his sons, Amos, Jr., died in Havana 
of fever in October, 1798, and Wilson was thrown overboard at sea 
by an officer of a French privateer. A third son, Charles Benjamin, 
was for many years one of the leading citizens of Bridgeport and was 
at one time mayor of the city. Capt. Amos Hubbell was buried in 
the Stratfield Cemetery and upon the slab marking his grave are 
carved the following words : 

"This stone is erected to the memory of 


Who died July 2, 1801, 
Aged 55 years. 

Which also records the death of his two sons 

Amos and Wilson. 

The former of whom di^d at Havana on the 

18th day of October, 1798, of malignant fever, 

Aged 18 years. 

And the latter was deprived of life while iii the 
proper discharge of the duties of his profession 
by an unprincipled officer of a French priva- 
teer, who deaf to the claims of justice and the 
cries of humanity, plunged the sufferer into the 
ocean and left him to perish in the waves 
on the third day of April, 1799, 
Aged 26 years. 

When sweet content serenely smiles around 
Like fair summer evening, Ah! how soon 
The charming scene is lost, the deepening shades 
Prevail and night approaches, dark and sad, 
'Till the last beams faint glimmering die away." 



The death of Wilson Hubbell occurred while the United States 
and France were at war. Young Hubbell was homeward bound from 
the West Indies, when his ship was taken by a French privateer. 
William Cable, his mate, and one seaman were taken away, while 
Hubbell, Samuel Cable, seaman, and Josiah Burr, cook, were left on 
board. A prize master and two French sailors were placed with 
them. The privateer left her capture in charge of the Frenchman. 
The weather being calm, the prize master went into the cabin for a 
sleep, laying his sword and pistols beside him. As soon as he had 
fallen asleep, Hubbell stole into the cabin, captured the Frenchman's 
arms, and locked him in. He then secured the two French sailors. 
The Frenchman asked for a parley, which was graciously, but unwisely 
granted. The two sat upon the quarter-rail to smoke and talk. The 
Frenchman dropped his cigar in the course of the conversation, then 
dropped it a second time between Hubbell's feet. Pretending to stoop 
down to pick it up he suddenly grabbed Hubbell by the feet and 
pitched him overboard. The sea was calm, so Hubbell swam rapidly 
after the sloop, begging to be rescued. The Frenchman paid no heed 
to his entreaties and permitted him to drown. 

Capt. Amos Hubbell had one other 'son, Anson, and a daughter, 

Capt. Josiah Lacey, a house joiner by trade, was commissioned in 
1777 by Governor John Hancock to raise a company for the Conti- 
nental army. This he did and was its captain for three years. After 
the war he built a house at 287 State Street. 

Capt. Daniel Lacey was captain over all the guard companies sta- 
tioned from Division Street (Park Avenue) to Saugatuck River dur- 
ing the Revolution. The first of the Laceys in this territory was 
Edward. Others were John, Henry, Wintbrop, Josiah, Michael, 
Squire, Benjamin, and Zachariah. 

From the North of Ireland during the Revolution came Patrick 
Keeler and John Hopkins. 

Jedediah Wells, son of Capt. Jedediah Wells, who was lost at sea 
about 1758, was a large land owner in the south part of the settlement. 
The family was descended from Governor Thomas Wells. 

Capt. Daniel Sterling, an early settler, was for many years a ship- 
master between here and Liverpool. 

Elijah Hawley was a carpenter and a deacon in the church. His 
son, Jesse, is said to have been the projector of the Erie Canal, and 
that he suggested the work to Governor Clinton. 

The only centenarian in the early parish was Abel Hubbell, who 



died at the age of one hundred and three years. Elijah Burritt and 
Ozias Burr both reached the age of ninety-eight, also a woman named 
Molly Jackson was buried in the old parish ground at the age of one 
hundred and one years, although she was not known as a resident 

Dr. Daniel Clifford was the first resident physician in the parish. 

Capt, David Hawley, son of James, owned the first brick house 
within the present city limits. It was located on the corner of Water 
and Gilbert streets. Captain Hawley was with Arnold in the battle 
of the flotiUas on Lake Champlain, also led the expedition which cap- 
tured Judge Thomas Jones, of Hempstead, L. I., who was afterward 
exchanged for an American oflicer. Gen. G. S. Silliman. Captain 
Hawley died in 1807. His brick house was afterward used as a sad- 
dle factory, and operated by Seth B. Jones. 

Capt. Abijah Hawley was in early life engaged in the Boston 
coasting trade and later became a prominent Bridgeport merchant. 
His descendants, Munson and Marcus C. Hawley, became prominent 
citizens of the city later. 

Nehemiah Allen was a shoemaker and came from Stratford prior 
to the Revolution. Ephraim Wilcox was a boat builder and also came 
from Stratford. He was known as a very good literary scholar, 
together with Elijah Burritt and Philip Nichols, and possessed a 
large library. 

John S. Cannon came to Bridgeport about 1790 from Norwalk. 
He was a merchant of good standing and possessed a large fortune. 
His residence was located on the comer of Water Street and Fair- 
field Avenue. 

Lambert Lockwood came to Bridgeport from Wilton, Connecti- 
cut, about the same year as Cannon, and had his residence on the north 
side of State Street. He was a very public spirited man and a prom- 
inent member of the church. 

Salmon Hubbell also came to Bridgeport in 1790 from Wilton 
and located on the bluff fronting Water Street, south of the land 
adjoining Mr. Cannon. He was a captain and paymaster in the Con- 
tinental army and participated in the taking of Stony Point fort under 
command of General Wayne. He was the first town clerk of Bridge- 

Isaac Hinman came here from Trumbull and first resided on the 
comer of Main and Bank streets, afterwards on the comer of Wall 
and Water streets. 

Ezra Gregory, Sr., came here from Wilton in 1796. His home 



located on the west side of Main Street at the head of Wall was used 
by him for several years as a tavern. 


The Stratfield Burial Ground, the oldest in the city, was used 
from the time of the earUest settlement until 1812, when an addition 
was made. This had been the resting place of all the members of 
the Stratfield parish. 

By 1812 the ground had become too small and, upon petition of 
James E. Beach and others to the session of the General Assembly in 
October, 1811, showing that they had bought a tract of land bounded 
north on Slias Sherman; east on Division Street; and south and west 
on land of Abijah Hawley ; they were incorporated as The Bridgeport 
and Stratfield Burying Ground Association. Lambert Lockwood 
was the first clerk. A son of Ezra Wheeler was the first child and 
Elijah Burr was the first adult buried here in 1812. This cemetery 
was largely used until about 1850. At this time the growing popula- 
tion of the vicinity necessitated a change of some kind, so in 1849 
Mountain Grove Cemetery was established. Then came the ques- 
tion of removing the bodies in the old cemetery to the new. For some 
time agitation continued and the wisdom of such an act was discussed 
from every angle. Finally under an act of the General Assembly 
in May, 1878, the removal was made possible and accomplished dur- 
ing the years 1878 and 1874. P. T. Barnum bought the entire terri- 
tory. The removal of the bodies was made to the west side of the 
Mountain Grove grounds under the supervision of GJeorge Poole. 
Over three thousand graves were changed. Hardly any trace of the old 
Stratfield Cemetery now remains, as streets cross the site and attrac- 
tive rows of houses cover what was once the pioneer cemetery of 





Although the history of the City of Bridgeport proper does not 
begin until 1798, when the inhabitants of the Village of Newfield, in 
the Town of Stratford, were recognized by the General Assembly 
in that they were granted the right to maintain a fire engine company, 
the founding of the community known as Stratfield must be 
recognized as one of the first governmental moves leading to the 
creation of the City of Bridgeport. 

The locality when first visited by the English was the site of an 
Indian village, comprising four or five hundred inhabitants. As 
mentioned before, two families first settled west of the Pequonnock 
River. The heads of these households were Henry Summers, Sr., 
and Samuel Gregory. Their first houses were located near the junc- 
tion of Park and W«shington avenues. 

At that time no highways were laid out in this vicinity. On the 
east side of the boundary line between Fairfield and Stratford there 
was a reservation four rods in width which had been made for a high- 
way, but had never been surveyed properly. Also, an Indian trail 
traversed Golden Hill to the northeast; this latter was made a legal 
roadway in 1686. In 1687 the King's Highway, now known as North 
Avenue, was laid out and, some time later, the Toilsome Hill road, 
now named Park Avenue. 

Fairfield and Stratford had become communities of good size and 
naturally the short distance between them soon caused them to merge. 
It is said that they first met at a point now near the junction of North 
and Park avenues, where a new village was formed, later taking the 



name of Stratfield, using the first syllable of Stratford and the last 
of Fairfield. This community grew rapidly and in 1690, believing 
themselves of sufficient size to maintain a separate government, peti- 
tioned the General Assembly for a parish. This document follows: 


"To the Gieneral Court of Connecticut {whom we honor), in their 
next session at Hartford. 

"We, the inhabitants and persons of Pequonnock, do in all humility 
address and apply ourselves unto you in manner, method and form 
. following; 

"^Manifesting unto this honored, representative body that this 
vicinity of Poquonnock aforesaid appertaineth part to the town of 
Fairfield, and part to the town of Stratford, unto which two town- 
ships it hath been fully responsible according to obligations, for meet- 
ing house and school dues, rates and assessments ; we, the dwellers 
there, have to the towns we have been engaged to, ever punctually 
paid our acknowledgements, taxes and charges, as we have from time 
to time when laid under such bonds and indisputable engagements. 
But now since we are by the blessing and grace of Almighty God 
risen and advanced to somewhat more maturity and ripeness, and 
grown more populous than before, in capacity to stand within our- 
selves, without running for succor six or seven miles on one hand, and 
at least four on the other; we do make it our joint ardent request and 
passionate petition to this honored, esteemed Court, that you would in 
the greatness of your goodness, and out of your sincere zeal to Ihe 
comfort of this part every way, so order it in convention that 
we, everj' one of us, that are settled inhabitants of and steady dwellers 
in Poquonnock, may be exempted and relaxed from any minister's 
rate or rates and school. master's salaries, either in Fairfield or Strat- 
ford aforesaid, purposing (God smiling on and favoring our enter- 
prises) to suit ourselves in time convenient with such meet instrument 
for ye pulpit and school, as may most and best serve the interest of 
our God, and do our souls and children most good ; such as shall be 
most painful pious and profitable for these ends to which they were 
ordained and are improved. And your humble petitioners shall ever 
continue to pray for your long life and prosperity, subsigning this 
our address, dated 2<1 May, 1690. 

"John Bardsle, Sr. "Matthew Sherwood. 

"Richard Hubbell, Sr. "Samuel Wells. 

L, , z.cbyGOOgIC 


"Isaac Wheeler. 
"James Benitt. 
"David Reynolds. 
"Nathaniel Knapp. 
"Will Barsley. - 
"Matthew Sherwood, Ji 
"Isaac Wheeler, Sr. 
"Thomas Griffin. " 
"Roburd Bishop. ' 
"Samuel Morhous. 
"-.laeohe Wakelen. 
"Haimiel Bardsle. 
"Samuel Hiibbell. 
"Samuel Bardsley, Sr. 
"Samuel Hall. 
"David Sherman. 
"Richard Hubbell. 
"Samuel (iregory. 
"Samuel Treadwell. 
"John Odell, Sr. 
"Izhak Hall. 

"John Wheller. 
"Thomas Wheller. 
"Joseph Seeley. 
"Closes Jackson, Jr. 
"Samuel Jackson. 
"Kphraim Wheller. 
"Daniel Bardsle. 
"Samuel French. 
"Samuel Hubbell. 
"Timothy Wheller. 
"Thomas Ben it. 
"Ed. Treadwell. 
"Jacob Jov. 
"John Odell, Jr. 
"John Benitt, Jr. 
"Thomas Slorhous, Jr. 
"John Sherwood. 
"Joseph Joy. 
"Samuel Summers. 
"Matthew Sherwood, Jr. 
"JFoses Jackson, Sr." 

The above list undoubtedly gives complete information as to the 
identity of the householders in Pequonnock community in the year 
1690. The text of the petition shows the close relationship in these 
days between church and state, the former being practically the 
governing force of the community. Fairfield placed opposition in the 
path of the petitioners and their formal request to the General Court 
was not granted at this time, but in May, 1694, they renewed their 
request, which was then granted. However, in May, 1691, the Court 
granted the inhabitants liberty "to procure and settle an orthodox 
minister among them if they find themselves able to do so, and provided 
that those of Pequonnock that do belong to Fairfield Township shall 
pay their just proportion of rate toward the maintenance of the 
ministry in Fairfield till they can obtain freedom of Fairfield or from 
this Court." In the following October they were released from paying 
to the support of the Fairfield ministry, while they kept a minister 
among themselves. Rev. Charles Chauncey was a leading individual 
in this fight for the establishment of a separate parish. Documents 
prove that he had served the people as minister from 1688 until 1694. 
This first church organized at Stratfield was the parent church of the 



old First Church of Bridgeport and its history is closely identified with 
that of the Village of Stratfield and Bridgeport Borough, town and 
city. The first meeting house was located on Meeting House Hill on 
Park Avenue and was completed in 1695. 

The name Pequonnock was changed to Fairfield Village, and per- 
mission given to organize a parish, in May, 1694. Later, in May, 1701, 
the name was again changed to Stratfield. 

In 1 691 a street was surveyed and laid out from the Fairfield line 
to Peqnonnock Harbor. Two men from Fairfield were appointed "to 
view where it is most convenient for a highway to pass in ye Fairfield 
to Pequonnock Harbor and to treat with ye persons through '^\'hose 
land said highway should pass." This street corresponded with that 
which is now State Street. At the harbor there had not been any settle- 
ments made, but the laying out of the street undoubtedly paved the 
way for the community which formed the nucleus of Bridgeport at that 
point. Houses were soon afterward built along Division Street, now 
Park Avenue. 

The church society having been fully organized at Stratfield, it 
then became territory for a military company. David Sherman was 
appointed ensign for the train band in Stratfield in October, 1708, 
and the next spring a complement of officers was filed containing the 
names of "Lieut. John Beardslcy to be captain of the train band of 
Stratfield and Lieut. James Bennett to be their lieutenant." 
Beardsley had occupied a similar position at Stratford and Bennett 
likewise at Fairfield. 

The second meeting house in Stratfield was built in 1716, during 
the pastorate of Rev. Samuel Cooke, who succeeded Reverend Chaun- 
cey. Further historj' of the Stratfield Church Society may be found in 
the chapters on religious historj-. 

Ninety-six years after the laying out of State Street, or in 1787, 
the Fairfield County Court authorized the laying out of Main Street, 
then called "the road at the foot of Golden Hill. State Street was 
designated as "the road from the dwelling house of the Widow Eunice 
Hubbell, near the stores at Newfield, to the town line between Strat- 
ford and Fairfield." These official procedures occurred just at the 
time of the beginning of Newfield which lay upon the Pequonnock and 
formed the seed from which the city proper of Bridgeport grew. 

The General Assembly in May, 1787, passed a resolutiori which 
tended to show that the settlement in the vicinity of State and Main 
streets ha<l become of considerable size and importance. This resolu- 
tion read as follows : 



'"Upon report of a committee appointed in May last, whidi is now 
accepted and approved, Resolved by this Assembly that the town of 
Stratford be, and they are hereby empowered and allowed to keep and 
maintain a public ferry in said town across the Creek or Harbor called 
New Field Harbor, from the point of land called New Pasture Point, 
below Toby's wharf to the opposite shore of said harbor or creek, to 
and onto the land of Aaron Hawley about ten rods south of said 
Hawley's dwelling hotfse, and that two sufficient boats shall be con- 
stantly kept, one on each side of said creek, plying from shore to shore 
as occasion may require, at the places aforesaid, during the pleasure 
of this assembly all subject to the same relations that other ferries in 
this state are by law subject to." 

This ferry at the foot of Union Street was used but a short time, 
for in May, 1791, the Town of Stratford authorized the buildings of a 
bridge "across the Pequonnock River nearly opposite Cannon & Lock- 
wood's wharf," and during the same month the Legislature gave 
authority to Robert Walker and others to establish a lottery for the 
raising of funds to build a bridge across Newfield Harbor. Stratford 
Town then petitioned that the expense of maintaining the bridge 
should not fall upon the town. The road was then changed from its 
end at New Pasture Point and made so as to conform with the new 
bridge. During the process of this action Stratford had to pay to one 
Asa Benjamin the sum of $330 for damages suffered by that gentle- 
man during the change. Stratford set up a toll gate at Lottery Bridge 
in Newfield, for the support of the same and also Benjamin's Bridge. 
In 1797 Benjamin's Bridge was rebuilt and widened. In March, 1800, 
the town voted "to lay out a new road fnom New Pasture Point to Old 
Mill Road." This road became East Main Street. 


From this time until the present the history of the City of Bridge- 
port may be divided into five parts, namely: 

(1) Beginning with the year 1798, when the inhabitants of New- 
field, within the Town of Stratford, living within certain limits, were 
authorized by the General Assembly to maintain a fire engine company 
and ordain by-laws for the protection of their property against fire. 

(2) Beginning with the year 1800, when the General Assembly, 
by a special act, extended the territorial limits of Newfield, gave the 
inhabitants more governing power, and gave the corporation the name 
of the Borough of Bridgeport. 



(8) Beginning with 1821, when the General Assembly of the 
state divided the Town of Stratford and bestowed upon the inhabitants 
hving in the western portion thereof' the authority to maintain a 
separate town government under the name of the Town of Bridgeport. 

(4) Beginning with 1886, when the General Assembly by a special 
act of incorporation extended the territorial luiiits of the Borough of 
Bridgeport and gave to the inhabitants more power of self-government 
under the name of the City of Bridgeport. 

(5) Beginning with 1889, when the General Assembly of the state 
consolidated the town and city into one government, to be known as 
the City of Bridgeport, with territorial limits the same as the town. 

These classifications are those of Mr. Franklin Sherwood, but their 
comprehensiveness and convenience render them the best means of 
presenting to the reader a survey of the city's government from 179P 
until 1917, a period of 119 years. 


In January, 178-4, the Genera! Assembly of the state granted to 
the inhabitants of certain areas within the towns of New Haven and 
New London special acts of incorporation. These acts were designed 
to enable the people to better govern themselves as "cities." In the 
following May identical privileges were granted to certain inhabitants 
of the towns of Hartford, Norwich and Middletown. The Courts of 
Common Council of these several cities were vested with the power to 
make by-laws relative to certain matters of government, among the 
items mentioned being the sweeping of chimneys, preserving the city 
from fire, also "to inflict penalties for the breach of such by-laws, pro- 
vided, however, that such penalties shall in no case exceed $34." The 
apparent insignificance of these restrictions, or by-laws, did not apply 
in those days. Such a thing as protection from fire was a very 
momentous question then, as the means of combating flames were few 
and small and a large blaze once started in a community thickly settled 
meant great destruction. The sweeping of chimneys undoubtedly was 
a measure to prevent fires starting from soot burning. 

Although the power of protecting themselves from fire had been 
given to the people in tliese various cities, it seems as if there had been 
no provision made for regularly oi'ganizcd and paid fire companies, 
hence all such organizations were invariably of volunteer character. 
the members considering themselves of equal rank with the military' 
bodies and claiming military exemption. It is probable that the people 



themselves bore all the expenses of tire engines, etc. New Haven and 
Hartford were both supplied witli two each in 1784. In 1790 these 
two last named cities petitioned the General Assembly for adequate 
authority to maintain a lawfully organized fire department. The 
Assembly in reply passed a resolution giving full power and authority 
to the Court of Common Council of the two cities to nominate and 
appoint thirty men in the case of Hartford, and forty in the case of 
New Haven, as firemen, also to exempt them from military service. 
The Common Council of Norwich at the May session of 1794 made a 
petition to the General Assembly and was given permission to raise by 
voluntary enhstment two fire companies, to consist of twenty men each. 
That when raised the companies should be under the direction of the 
mayor, aldermen and common councilmen. The City of Middletown 
did not petition for a fire engine company until May, 1803, and New 
London Was the last of the five cities in the state, October, 1804, to 
ask permission. All these facts make for a better understanding of 
Bridgeport's beginning. 


Prior to 1798, as described before, that which is now the City of 
Bridgeport simply existed as a fractional part of the Town of Strat- 
ford. The small conmiunity on the west shore of the Pequonnock 
at its mouth, and at the extreme southwestern boundary of the town, 
was called Newfield; the territory immediately across the river was 
known as New Pasture Lots. About two wharves had I>een shunted 
out into the river for the accommodation of the packet boat which ran 
between Berkshire, the head of navigation on the river, and New York. 
In the vicinity of these wharves had locate<l the small community of 
perhaps 200 people, where they built their houses and stores of wood. 
The need of fire protection became apparent immediately, but as they 
had no official recognition upon the state records, the method of pro- 
cedure to get fire protection remained entirely among themselves. So 
it is that we find them procuring individual subscriptions among the 
small population in order to purchase a fire engine. In May, 1797, a 
committee of Newfield citizens went before the General Assembly 
with a petition asking that they might be incorporated with the privi- 
lege of maintaining an organized public fire department. The sub- 
scription paper so loyally made up in Newfield follows : 

"We, the undersigned subscribers, promise to pay the sums put to 
our several names on demand to Daniel Young, John S. Cannon and 



Lambert Lodcwood, who are a committee appointed by the people of 
this Port for the purpose of purcliasing a fire engine, buckets, etc., for 
the benefit of said Port, said money to be applied to the above men- 
tioned use as soon as may be after being collected. 

"Xew'field, I9th of September, A. D., 1796. 

"Daniel Young $33.88 

"Aaron Hawley 20.00 

"Amos Hubbell 20.00 

"John S. Cannon 15.00 

"Robt. W. VVitmore 20.00 

"James Allen 12.00 

"Daniel W. Knapp 2.00 

"Richard Hubbell 20.00 

"Salmon Hubbell 10.00 

"Josiah Lacey 12.00 

"Isaac Hinman 15.00 

"Robert Linus 12.00 

"William Peet 15.00 

"Wm. H. Peabody 5.00 

"Thomas Gouge 10.00 

"Stephen Hull 6.00 

"Reuben Tweedy 10.00 

"Kzra Gregor>' 8.00 

"David Sterhng 7.00 

" Wm. Eaton 6.00 

'Geo. Havt, for himself 


'Silas Sherman 


'Eben Hawlev 


'Jona. Baker 


'Lambert Lockwood 


'James E. Beach 


'Asa Hubbell 


'Samuel Hawley 


'Ezra Hubbell 



'David Osborne 


'Botsford & Thonms. . . , 


'David Sherman 


'Thaddeus Benedict .... 


'Stc. Burroughs, Jr 





. 8.00 

'Stephen Burroughs 

. 20.00' 

The citizens of the above subscription, who were probably the lead- 
ing men in the community, promised all together the sum of $377.33. 
That the sum above subscribed was promptly paid and used for the 
intended purpose is proved by the fact that a memorial signed by 
Josiah Lacy, Thaddeus Benedict and others was presented to the 
General Assembly at its 5Ia>' session following praying that authority 
be granted to the village inhabitants to appoint twenty-five persons to 
operate their fire engine. This prayer was granted by the General 
Assembly at the October session. 

However, owing to the indefinite status of Newfield the people 
enjoyed few benefits from their fire company. Unlike New Haven 
' and other of the incorporated cities of the state, little could be done 
in the way of perfecting an organization. 




At the May session of the General Assembly in 1798^ preamble 
and resolution was passed which remedied all the defects of the former 
one and which really created the Village of Newfield. This resolution 
follows : 

"Resolved, By this Assembly that full power and authority be and 
hereby is granted to the inhabitants living within the following limits: 
Beginning at 'Welles Tongue' so called, thence northerly following 
the river up until it comes to the northeast corner of 'Indian Lot,' so 
called, thence westerly following the northerly hne of said lot to the 
main Newtown Road, thence southerly down the same to the mouth of 
Golden Hill Lane and over said Golden Hill until passing the house 
of Zebulon Kirtland, thence across the fields to the stone bridge on the 
Fairfield road east of Capt. William Wordin's house, thence south- 
easterly across the fields including the house of Nehemiah Allyn to the 
line began at \\'^elles Tongue; or the major part of them, at a meeting 
to be held on the last Tuesday in June, annually, at the school house 
in said Newfield, to nominate and appoint twenty-five suitable persons, 
living within the aforesaid limits, to serve as a fire company, to work 
and conduct the fire engine within the same, and that they have liberty 
to enlist twelve of said company or number from the military com- 
pany, who shall be exempt from doing ordinary military duty in the 
company and regiment to which they belong, so long as they do actu- 
ally serve in the fii-e company- — and the inhabitants have power to 
make by-laws for the regulation of said fire company and to preserve 
said village from fire and to enforce said by-laws by penalties not 
exceeding the sum of ten dollars — provided, however, that said by-laws 
are not contrary to any of the laws of this state." 

This boundary description included practically all of the Village 
of Newfield, except a portion along the Old Line Road, or Park 
Avenue. The Welles Tongue was a point of land extending into the 
liarbor east of the lower end of Main Street. The line from thence 
followed the west shore of the harbor and Pequonnock River. The 
north line of the Indian lot mentione<l was in the vicinity of Meadow 
Street; the Newtown Road corresponded to what is now Main Street. 
However, at that time, it is said that the Newtown Road bent more to 
the eastward, conforming more with what is now North Washington 
Avenue. Washington Avenue was then known as Golden Hill Lane, 
following Washington Avenue to a little beyond Courtland Street. 
The Zebulon Kirtland house stood on the comer of AVashington and 



Courtland, southwest. The stone bridge was about one hundred and 
seventy-five feet east of Park Avenue on State Street. Several of the 
prominent homes were outside of the boundaries drawn, among them 
that of Capt. William Wordin. 


The first meeting of the inhabitants of the newly incorporated 
Village of Newfield was held in the brick schoolhouse on the Fairfield 
Road, which stood on the present site of 200-2 State Street. The 
oflicial record states the business of this meeting as follows: 

"At a legal meeting of the inhabitants of the Village of Newfield, 
incorporated for the purpose of instituting and regulating a fire com- 
pany, and for preserving said village from fire, held at the schoolhouse 
in said village on the last Tuesday in June, A. D. 1798. 

"Voted, That Josiah Lacy be chairman of this meeting. 

"Voted, That Joseph Backus be Clerk of this meeting. 

"Voted, That Lambert Lockwood, John S. Cannon, Amos Hub- 
bell and Joseph Backus be a committee to digest and compose a body 
. of by-laws for this corporation and report the same to this meeting 
for their approbation. 

"Voted, That this meeting be adjourned to the 0th day of July 
next at 6 o'clock P. M." 

This meeting was again, postponed to the 23d of the same month, 
when the ordinance was presented and adopted by an affirmative vote. 
This ordinance was largely a copy of that held by other cities in regard 
to the regulation of the "bucket brigade," and was very lengthy in 
character. It provided for a clerk to be elected annually, for three 
fire wardens, a treasurer, and also for a foreman, engineer and ser- 
geant of the fire company. All of the officers were chosen for the 
term of one year. All the dwellings and stores in the community were 
to be divided into three classes, each house in the first class to be pro- 
vided with "three good leather buckets," those in the second with two, 
and those in the third with one. The wardens were empowered to make 
the classifications. Drills in passing water along the line from well 
to engine were held at stated intervals. This bucket brigade continued 
in existence for several years after Bridgeport was made a city, in the 
latter years becoming more of a tradition than a fact. The year 1849 
is officially given as the date of its final appearance. 


Prior to the year 1800 all the highways in the Town of Stratford, 
of which the Village of Newfield was a small part, were under the 



control of the selectmen of that town. The first road laid, except 
Golden Hill Lane, was Water Street, between Wall Street to about 
Gilbert Street. About 1750 the Stratford authorities laid out a high- 
way from some northerly point, possibly Berkshire, along the west 
shore of the Pequonnoek River and under the bank southerly to 
Welles Tongue. This road, owing to its winding course in following 
the river bank and other discrepancies, never became popular and it 
has all disappeared before the march of improvements. In fact, it is 
conceivable that only that part immediately fronting the settlements 
at Newfield was ever used. 

This layout was apparently made to give the inhabitants a right- 
of-way along the river bank as against the right of private ownership 
and without disturbing the riparian rights which appertained to the 
adjoining property. It was sufficiently explicit, as at that time all 
below Berkshire and east of the Line Road, or Park Avenue, was a 
ivildemess of rocky hills, alder swamps and creeks. This road being 
under the river bank, it was compelled to follow its shores, and as these 
were indented with coves and creeks, it became very inconvenient for 
highway purposes. However, in this section there was a gap of 
private ownership between Bank and State streets, and which was 
not obliterated until 1802, when Josiah Lacy deeded the same to the 
Borough of Bridgeport for a public highway forever. This private 
ownership evidently accrued from the fact that a creek originally 
extended from the river at Bank Street to a point some distance west 
of Water Street. It probably crossed State Street east of the old 
postoffice building. By the original layout the highway had to follow 
the creek to the first point where it could be crossed and then to 
follow its southern shore back to the river. 

On February 18, 1775, N. Wheeler, Joseph Curtis and Zach. 
Coe, selectmen of the Town of Stratford, laid out a highway, three 
rods wide, from the low water mark on Pequonnoek River to the 
liine Road. Soon afterward another road was laid out from Golden 
Hill Lane south to the Fairfield Road, or State Street, and was then 
known as the Newtown Road, and later as Main Street. Both of these 
highways were improved in 1787."' It was the opening of these two 
roads which probably brought into existence Bank Street. It was far 
more convenient to continue the travelled way through to the Newtown 
Road and thence down State Street to Water than to follow the 
old highway with its many turns. The latter was not abandoned 
below the lower portion of Water Street proper. The right of waj' 
under the bank of the road and along the beach continued to be used. 



and it followed the shores of the creeks as well as the upper harbor. 
It curved around Baker's Pond, so-called, where South Avenue was 
afterward located, extending westward to Broad Street. This latter 
street was laid out previous 'to 1800, the definite date not being avail- 
able. It had its northern terminus at the Fairfield Road and the 
southern one at the outer harbor. The layout of this road opened 
a direct route to AVelles Tongue and practically "drove out of busi- 
ness" the road along the water front. Wall Street was used as a 
public highway, although it had never been laid out by town authority, 
but was laid out as a public highway by the Borough. This con- 
stitutes all the highway history of the Village of Newfield, which leads 
directly to the story of Bridgeport when it became a boroug^. 

Digitized byGOOgle 






The second period in the governmental history of the City of 
Bridgeport begins in the year 18CK) when the inhabitants of the Vil- 
lage of Newfield were incorporated as a borough under the corporate 
title of the Borough of Bridgeport. This incorporation occurred on 
October 28th, the records of Joseph Backus, the last village clerk, 
stating such fact and that "hereafter no business will be done except 
in the name of the warden, burgesses and freeman of the Borough of 

The borough era of Bridgeport covers a period of about thirty- 
six years, during which time the small village of 200 people grew into 
a community of 3,000 souls. It released itself from the government 
of Stratford and, according to all available records, progressed faster 
during these years than any other community in the state. That the 
change should have come to the people of Newfield was only natural, 
as the system of town government was rapidly becoming too cum- 
bersome. The center of that government was a good three miles 
away in the Village of Stratford and consequently the Stratford 
authorities took little interest in Newfield. Money which was used 
for town improvements found little use in Newfield, as the latter 
was just a small fractional part of the whole in land area. At last 
it became evident that the only method of securing necessary im- 
provements was by a special act of the General Assembly, granting 
to them powers of self-government in order to make such improve- 
ments as they needed and were willing to purchase. In order to 
accomplish this they appealed to the General Assembly at its Octo- 



ber session of 1800 to be incorporated as a borough. The first section 
of the charter was as follows : 

"An Act for incorporating part of the Town of Stratford made 
and passed in and by the General Assembly of the State of Connec- 
ticut holden at New Haven in said State on the Second Thursday 
of October, A. D., 1800. 

"Sec. 1. — Be it enacted by the Governor and Common Council 
and House of Representatives in General Court assembled; That 
all the Freemen of this state, inhabitants of the Town of Stratford, 
in Fairfield County, dwelling and inhabiting within the following 
bounds, viz.: Beginning at the sea at the south end of the line 
dividing the Towns of Stratford and Fairfield, and thence running 
north on said line to the south end of the Line Road, so called, be- 
tween the Towns of Stratford and Fairfield, thence east to the east 
side of the said Line Road, thence northwardly on the east side of 
said Line Road to the southwest end of the Golden Hill Road, so- 
called, thence on the southeast side of the said Golden Hill Road to 
the Newtown Road, so-called, thence east across said Newtown Road 
to the west side of Indian Lot, so-called, thence northwardly on the 
east side of said Newtown Road to the northwest corner of said In- 
dian Lot, thence eastwardly on the north line of said Indian Lot 
to the west side of Newfield Harbor, thence southwardly to an island 
or dry knoll in Newfield Harbor opposite said Indian Lot, thence 
southwardly to the middle of Newfield or Lottery Bridge, so-called, 
thence southwardly to the easternmost end of Welles Tongue, so- 
called, at low water mark, thence southwestwardly on the edge of "the 
beach at low water mark to the first mentioned bounds on the 
south side of the line dividing said Towns of Stratfield and Fair- 
field, be and the same are hereby ordained, constituted and declared 
to be from time to time, forever hereafter, one body corporate and 
politic in fact and in name, by the name of the Warden, Burgesses 
and Freeman of the Borough of Bridgeport, and by that name they 
and their successors, forever shall and may have perpetual succession 
and shall be persons in law, capable of suing and being sued, pleading 
and being impleaded in all suits of what nature soever, and also to 
purchase, hold and convey away estate, real or personal, and may 
have a common seal and may change and alter the same at pleas- 
ure, and shall be freeman of said borough." 

These borough limits described above did not materially increase 
the territorial limits of the corporation. The new lines only added 
the territory belonging to Stratford which lay west of it, and which 



for some reason was seemingly intentionally omitted therefrom, and 
notwithstanding, in so doing, imaginary instead of fixed boundaries 
had to be substituted. By the new act the western boundary of the 
borough began at "the sea" at the south end of the dividing line 
between the towns of Stratford and Fairfield. The Line Road, or 
Park Avenue, which formed the dividing line between the two towns, 
ended at about the place where it enters Seaside Park now. Between 
here and Long Island Sound was privately owned property, mostly 
farm lands, across which passed the fictitious line of division between 
the towns. The borough line also followed this Park Avenue line, 
although instead of taking the center of the highway as did the town 
boundary it was shifted to the east side of the road and followed the 
street line north to the southeast corner of Washington Avenue, or 
Golden Hill Lane. From this point the line followed the southern 
side of Washington Street to the Pequonnock River, which in the 
quoted description is called "Newfield Harbor," a designation of 
mysterious origin. The eastern boundary of the borough was some- 
what changed. The borough line was evidently designed to follow 
the channel of the Pequonnock from the northern end east of the 
Indian Lot to an island opposite the said lot, near its southern line, 
which was near what is now Limiber Street. This island was also 
known as Indian Island and was situated at East Washington Avenue. 
The island has long since been obliterated. From this island the 
borough line was to intersect the center of the "Newfield or Lottery 
Bridge," which bridge started a few rods west of East Main Street, 
on what is now Stratford Avenue, and its western end was about at 
the foot of Wall Street. The site of the bridge was changed in 1807 
and placed where the Fairfield Avenue Bridge was afterward located. 
From the center of this bridge the line extended to the low water mark 
at Welles Tongue, thence westward to the Fairfield line. 

The annual borough election was to be "holden in November at 
such time and place as the by-laws of said borough shall direct," and 
that there should be chosen a warden six burgesses, a clerk, treasurer 
and bailiff by ballot. The borough was, also, in "legal meeting assem- 
bled" empowered to lay taxes on the polls and ratable estates within 
the limits of said borough for such purposes as said borough shall deem 
proper." A collector could be chosen to collect these taxes. The 
bailiff had powers very similar to the latter office of constable. The 
warden and burgesses had full power to transact business relative to 
the improvement of the borough, making of public ordinances and 
setting all difficulties arising. There was a difference in the making 



of ordinances from the later Courts of Common Council was that the 
wardens and burgesses had to submit all new ordinances to the free- 
man at a borough meeting. 


The following is a copy of the record of the 'first meeting of the 
Freeman of the Borough under its charter: 

"At the first legal meeting of the Freeman of the Borough of 
Bridgeport, holden at the brick school house in said Borough on the 
second Wednesday or 12th day of Noveinber, A. D., 1800, Abijah 
Sterling, Esq., presiding. 

"Joseph Backus was chosen clerk of the said borough for the 
year ensuing, and the oath by law prescribed was by said Abijah Ster- 
ling, justice of the peace for Fairfield County, immediately adminis- 
tered to him, the said Joseph Backus. 

"And Amos Hubbell was chosen warden of said borough, and 
sworn according to law by said Justice Sterling, 

"And Josiah Lacy was chosen first burgess, 

"And was chosen second bufgess, and 

John S. Cannon was chosen third burgess, and Salmon Hubbell was 
chosen fourth burgess, and Lambert Lock^vood was chosen fifth 
burgess, and William Peet was chosen sixth burgess, and all were 
duly sworn by Justice Sterling according to law, and William Wordin 
second burgess, but refused to ser\'e. 

"And Isaac Hinman was chosen treasurer. 

"And William Peabody was chosen bailiff and sworn by said Jus- 
tice Sterling according to law. 

"And voted, That the first meeting of the warden and burgesses 
be holden at the dwelling house of Ezra Gregory in said borough on 
the 24th day of November, A. D., 1800, at 2 o'clock, afternoon. 

"Test., Joseph Backus, clerk," 

It may be said here that Joseph Backus claimed to have been the 
author of the borough charter. In reality, it is believed that thechar- 
ter was simply an adaptation of other city charters. 

The William Wordin who was chosen second burgess, but refused 
to accept the office, was the leader of a small crowd which was opposed 
to the best interests of the borough. His residence stood on the north- 
east corner of Park Avenue and State Street and was excluded from 
the corporation limits, the line coming just to the east line of his door- 




THE NEW /ur.K 



yard fence. He, with his neighbors, afterward tried to be set off 
from the borough. 

According to the plans formulated the warden and burgesses met 
at the house of Ezra Gregory on November 24th and transacted their 
first official business. The first thing done was to instruct the clerk 
to procure a record book, whereupon they adjourned until 6 o'clock 
of the same day. The clerk appeared with the book, which he had 
purchased from Lazarus Beach for five shillings six pence and charged 
the same to the borough. The men in session also voted to erect a sign 
post according to law "on public ground near the northwest comer 
of the fire engine house." The only public ground known to have 
existed at that time was that portion of State Street east of the east 
line of Water Street. Here the fire engine house was probably located. 
To speak of this as a fire engine house may give the impression that 
it was a commodious building, wherein it was undoubtedly a 'shack, 
or frame shed, to protect the engine. 

After due consideration and several meetings at the homes of the 
members the warden and burgesses met at the brick school house on 
January 16, 1810 and approved the first by-laws of the borough. 
These were relative to the conduct of borough meetings, with a few 
extra rules, not the least interesting 6f which is the following : "A By- 
law for restraining swine fi-om going at large within the limits of this 
Borough." Any person cbuld, after this ordinance or by-law went 
into eflfect, impound any stray porker, whereupon the owner would 
have to pay fifty cents per head for the release of his animals. Of the 
fifty cents the borough got twenty-five cents, the impounder twenty 
and the pound keeper five cents. A suit by Anson Hawley later 
resulted in minor changes in this particular by-law. The financial 
affairs of the borough during its infancy remains a mystery as the 
records have been lost. One debt of $109.06 was paid, its identity 
not known. Other small sums were paid out to different citizens and 
a tax of two cents on the dollar was levied on the list of the polls and 
ratable estates for the year 1801. 


The portion of Water Street lying between Bank and State streets 
-was not a public highway, although it had been used as such at the 
beginning of the century. Also Bank Street, then known as Morris 
Street, was mostly private property. This grew directly out of the 
establishment of the road along the Pequonnock River about 1750. 



This highway, which was largely theoretical, followed an indefinite 
course, going along the shore of the river and turning at the creeks 
and coves of the harbor. There was a creek at Bank Street and here 
the highway turned westward until it reached high water mark, then 
turned to the east again going to the river along the south side of the 
creek. With the coming of the Newtown Road, or Main Street, and 
the Fairfield Road, or State Street, that part of the highway on the 
north side of the creek was extended to the Newtown Road and public 
travel naturally followed Slate Street on the south side of the creek. 
This change left a space in Water Street between Bank and State 
which was private property. Stephen Burroughs then owned a piece 
of property on the river front, from the south line of Bank Street to 
some point between that and State Street. He also laid claim to the 
water front from the north side of his property to a line drawn on a 
line with the north side of Bank Street. There were two stores on 
this property, known as the South and North stores. In erecting the 
latter, with a wharf attached, he had occupied one rod in width of the 
water front north of the south line of Bank Street. This the borough 
inhabitants claimed was public highway, probably having been a part 
of the original 1750 highway. Burroughs in 1802 made propositions 
to the warden and burgesses to secure a release of the borough's inter- 
est in that rod of land in question and also for a highway on the east 
side of his stores. The officials, at meeting January 22, 1802, held 
that "the warden and burgesses will compound with Captain Stephen 
Burroughs respecting his encroachments on what is claimed a high- 
way wherein said Burroughs has a wharf and store, provided he will 
quit claim all his right and title to the slip north of his store, together 
with the highway west of said slip on the south side of the lands of 
the heirs of Amos Hubbell, called Morris Street, out to the Newtown 
Road." The up-shot of the matter was that Burroughs by quit claim 
deed conveyed all of his right and title in Morris Street and the slip 
in question to the borough. This is without doubt th^ first authority 
vested in the borough to lay out new streets and highways. 

The east half of the square between Bank and State Streets, which 
was originally the creek, became a danger to the public health. Most 
of the time the ground was covered with stagnant water wherein 
mosquitoes multiplied unhindered. The power which had been given 
to the warden and burgesses was first exercised here when they issued 
an order to the owners of the property to raise their buildings and 
fill in their lots in order to rid the community of the menace to health. 
This order was passed at a meeting held March 21, 1805. Margaretta 



Young, Benjamin Wheeler, Silas Sherman, Salmon Hubbell and 
Robert Linus were the property owners directly effected by this 

From this order, which is very lengthy, it appears that State Street 
was at that time, 1803, called State Street and Water Street was 
called Water Street. Bank Street was known as Morris Street and 
was not changed until the Bridgeport Bank was located on the north- ■ 
east comer of Morris Street and the Newtown Road. 

On October I, 1805 the warden and burgesses laid out eight pub- 
lic highways in the borough, and Saitiuel Gregory, Jr., Isaac Booth 
and Philip Sterling were appointed appraisers to estimate the dam- 
ages consequent upon their layout. It is believed, however, that the 
eight roads were practically highways at the time they were laid out, 
as the bill for damages was very small considering the scope of the 
work. The first highway laid out was that portion of Water Street 
between Fairfield Avenue and Wall Street. The second was Fairfield 
Avenue between Main Street and Water Street. The third was Wall 
Street and the eighth, Court Street from State Street six rods South. 
Wall Street to Fairfield Avenue. The fifth, Broad Street from State 
Street to John Street. The sixth, John Street from Main Street to 
Broad Street. The seventh. Bank Street from Main Street to Broad 
Street and the eight, Court Street from State Street six rods souths. 

This improvement was very extensive considering the financial 
status of the population and as a consequence when this was completed 
there came a decided lull in the civic improvement activity. The 
warden and burgesses could find no funds in the treasury to lay out 
additional roads, nor would the people consent to pay taxes sufficient 
to warrant the work. The officials could and had the power to lay out 
a highway any place they chose, hut in so doing they were compelled 
to pay the land owners for the ground utilized. This was a decided 
obstacle to further work. However, there were two improvements 
they desired above all else — a Public Green and the extension of the 
Newtown Road south to the old highway, or "that portion of Water 
Street which passed around Baker's Pond so-called." 

The funds for this work could not be secured from the people, so 
the borough "fathers" met and devised another plan to raise the cash. 
It seems as if the borough owned a portion of a highway which was 
not used for public travel and which could be sold. The Fairfield 
Road (State Street) ended on the east at low water mark on the 
Pequoniiock River and that portion east of the east line of Water 
Street was known as the "borough slip." This was forty-nine and a 



half feet wide, located in the center of the business portion, and was 
not used, except that the fire engine shack stood on the north side of 
it. On December 17, 1806 the warden and burgesses ordered a meet- 
ing on the 26th for discussing the advisability of selling this ground, 
"the avails thereof to be applied to the purchasing of new highways, 
etc." At the meeting on the 26th the officials were empowered to 
sell this land. Not until February 9th of the next year, 1807, was 
any further action taken. Then the burgesses voted to sell twenty- 
six feet of the slip at public auction on the second Monday in the fol- 
lowing IVIarch. All that is known in addition to this is that on the 
17th of March a deed was given to William De Forest, the same 
signed by Josiah Lacy, warden, William Peet, Salmon Hubbell, 
Isaac Hinman, Ezra Gregory and Reuben Tweedy, burgesses. The 
fact that the engine house occupied the other part of the slip probably 
accounts for the failure to sell all of it at this time. At this same 
time, also, the officials purchased a parcfel of land from Salmon Hub- 
bell for $800, the same which now constitutes the portion of the City 
Hall Green west of the building. The building itself stands on land 
then owned by Daniel Fayerweather. All of this ground was after- 
wards referred to in the record as the "Public Green." It was pur- 
chased ostensibly for highway purposes, but was never, either before 
or after the purchase, intended as such. The remainder of the slip 
above mentioned was sold to De Forest in 1824 for $300, which was 
one-fifth of the amount he first paid for a portion in 1807. 

As has been stated the southern terminus of the Newtown Road 
was at State Street. The inhabitants desired its extension to the 
"traveled road near the dwelling house of Ebenezer Allen." This 
traveled road was that portion of the original layout of Water Street 
which cur\'ed around what was known as Baker's Pond, and consti- 
tuted the .original of South Avenue. The first purchase to secure this 
extension was made from William W. Gilbert of New York on 
June 6, 1807, $100 being the consideration. Other purchases were 
made from Silas Sherman and Aaron Hawley. These convey- 
ances opened a highway to below what is now Gilbert Street, 
probably to Thomas Street. The records apparently prove that noth- 
ing definite was ever done in regard to laying out this road, although 
a highway traversed the route. Fourteen years after, when the Town 
of Bridgeport was asked to bridge Baker's Pond that Main Street 
might be extended south, the committee reported that Main Street 
between State and Baker's Pond had never been accepted as a public 



highway, and therefore the town was not obliged to keep it in repair 
or to bridge the creek. 

The first by-laws of a purely municipal character for the borough 
were approved at the meeting held May 3, 1808. There were four 
of these, relating to the creation of the offices for street and fire inspec- 
tors; the removing of obstructions from the streets and highways of 
the borough; the naming of the streets; and the establishment of 
building lines. The by-law for the naming of the streets reads as 
follows : 

"A By-Law Naming the Streets in the Borough of Bridgeport. 

"Be it ordained by the Warden, Burgesses and Freemen of the 
Borough of Bridgeport ; — 

"That the name of the street running northerly and southerly on 
the margin of the harbor be called Water Street. 

"And that the name of the street running northerly between the 
house lot of Robert Linus on the west and the land of Charles Nichols 
on the east be Middle Street. 

"And that the name of the street runoing southerly from the south- 
erly end of the Bridgeport and Newtown Turnpike Road be Main 

"And that the name of the street running northerly from the 
outer harbor by the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches be Broad 

"And that the name of the street running westerly from Water 
Street between the land of the late Major Aaron Hawley on the north 
and the house of the late Daniel Young on the south be Union Street. 

"And that the name of the street running westerly from Water 
Street between the store of the heirs of Daniel Cliiford on the south 
and the store of Salmon Hubbell on the north be State Street. 

"And that the name of the street running westerly from Water 
Street between the store of Beach and Sterling on the south and land 
of Mrs. Elinor Hubbell on the north be Bank Street. 

"And that the name of the street running westerly from Water 
Street between the house of Edmund Lewis on the south and the land 
of Charles Nichols on the north be Wall Street. 

"And that the name of the street running westerly from Water 
Street between the house of John S. Cannon on the south and Stephen 
Burroughs, Jr. on the north be Beaver Street. 

"And that the name of the street running westerly from Water 
Street between the land of Sterling Edwards on the south and Jesse 
Sterling on the north be Gold Street. 



"And that the name of the street running westerly from Main 
Street between the house of Isaac Burroughs on the south and Samuel 
Burr on the north be John Street." 

The only new street mentioned in this record is Gold Street, which 
before this time occupied no place in the borough books. In 1805 
Samuel Porter owned a tract of land extending from the Newtown 
Road east to the Pequonnock River. On December 11th of that year 
he deeded to Nancy De Forest a lot bounded on the west by the New- 
town Road on land left for a highway to be laid open by him, two 
rods in width. The lot sold to Nancy De Forest is the north corner 
of Gold and Main streets. He subsequently deeded a piece of prop- 
erty to Joseph Sterling Edwards and Jesse Sterling and in each case 
gave as one of the boundaries a two-rod highway on Iwid laid open for 
a highway. This land so laid open constituted Gtold Street in 1808. 
Although the records make no mention of the matter, it is highly prob- 
able that Mr. Porter gave a quit claim deed for this highway to the 
city, else the warden and burgesses could not, under the law have 
treated it as a public highway when they approved the by-laws naming 
the streets. The officials of the borough were rather lax in interpreting 
the law at different times during these years, also in recording the 
transactions made by themselves. 

After the streets had been named and a by-law passed establish- 
ing building lines on all the streets and highways within the borough 
limits, there came a period of fifteen years when no tax was levied 
upon the inhabitants. Public business, building operations and bor- 
ough improvements were at a standstill during this time. Up imtil 
this time the wardens of the borough had been: Amos Hubbell, Jo- 
siah Lacy, William Peet, John S. Cannon, Joseph Backus, Lambert 
Lockwood, WiUiam Benedict, Hezekiah Ripley and Simon Backus. 
The burgesses included such men as: David Minot, Silas Sherman, 
Salmon Hubbell, Ezra Gregory, Abijah Hawley, Isaac Hinman, 
Samuel Hawley, Thomas Gouge, Lewis Sturges, Reuben Tweedy, 
Willam De Forest, Aaron Hawley, David Sterling, George Hayt, 
Daniel Sterling, William King, David Rodgers, Daniel Burritt, 
Ezekiel Hubbell, James W. Alen, Agur Lewis, Jr., and Jesse Ster- 

During this period, it is claimed upon good authority, tne expenses 
of the borough rarely run over $10 per year. The roads were kept 
in repair by the Town of Stratford ; the paupers were cared for by 
individuals or by the community and education was conducted by 
districts. About the only real borough expense was the fire engine. 
The taxes which were levied in rather an indifferent manner served 



to pay all the necessary expenses of the borough, of which there were 

In 1817 building lines were established on the west side of Water 
Street between Beaver and Wall Streets and on the north side of 
Wall Street. However, at that time there were no buildings erected 
at any of these points. In September the Court appears to have 
made an effort to lay out some new streets and widen some of the 
old ones. The opening of a road from Fairfield Avenue to Washing- 
ton Avenue was one of the items; this corresponded to what is now 
the north part of Cortland Street. Another' was the extension of 
Golden Hill Street through the land of Samuel Hawley and that of 
the heirs of Zebulon Kirtland. The widening of Water Street at the 
southeast corner of Wall Street; the extension of Middle Street from 
Fairfield Avenue north to Gold Street ; the extension of Broad Street 
north from John Street to Beaver Street, were other propositions 
made, but upon which no immediate action was taken, due probably 
to the fact that the property owners demanded too much in damages. 
This brings up the true condition of affairs during those years, when 
money was made in small quantities and also spent in equally small 
portions. There were first of all two classes of freemen in the Bor- 
ough of Bridgeport — the farmer and the merchant. Between these 
two there existed a mild rivalry, perhaps opposition. Town govern- 
ment was yet in the experimental stage. For about seventeen years 
the village had been under the government of the Town of Stratford, 
of which its territory was but a very small part. Once the Borough 
of Bridgeport came into being there arose questions of government 
which were too burdensome for the freeman and too expensive for 
their poeketbooks. The burgesses laid out streets, it is true, but in 
almost every case these streets had been highways before, so it became 
simply the task of making these roads public highways in order that 
the expense of caring for them should fall upon the Town of Strat- 
ford. The treasury of the borough was practically nothing and the 
freeman hesitated to tax themselves to lay out new highways. High- 
ways cost money, as the land owners had to be compensated unless 
they donated their ground to the community, which they very seldom 
did. Under the charter of the borough the burgesses, with the 
approval of the freeman, could lay out new highways, also widen 
and straighten the old ones within the borough limits. The Town of 
Stratford could do likewise. The only difference was that in the 
former case the borough freemen bore the expense and in the latter 
the town freeman paid the bills. Again, as the borough freemen were 



necessarily a part of the town they were called upon to share in the 
expense of laying out roads in parts of the town removed from 
Bridgeport. So, it is not strange that they should think that in return 
the town freemen should help in the street improvements within the 
limits of the horough. The people of the town failed to harmonize 
with the horough upon this proposition, as they beheved that every 
street in Bridgeport would mean extra expense to the town for repairs 
and maintenance. They had sufficient highways for their own use and 
they failed to comprehend why the merchants living along the Pequon- 
nock should not pay for extra roads from which they would alone 
derive profit. The rural population had not yet realized that the 
greater the population the greater value their farms would have. In 
one way their attitude might be called selfishness and in another ignor- 
ance of conditions. 

The borough owned certain portions of highways which could be 
sold according to the provisions of the charter and the proceeds 
applied to the purchase of new ones, as had been done in 1807, in the 
sale of the public slip at the foot of State Street. There were three 
of these slips remaining and the more progressive of the citizens 
thought that they should be sold and the funds used to lay out new 
highways. Other people believed to the contrary. At the meeting of 
May 7, 1818 it was voted to be "expedient to sell the remainder of 
the highway east of Water Street between the store of William 
DeForest and the wharf of David Minot for the purchasing and 
widening of high^^ays." The sale was held and the land bought by 
Henry Burr for $.502. However, Burr never took possession of the 
land, a future record of the court stating that the sale was given up. 

In 1818 a tax of seven mills upon the dollar was levied for the 
purpose of providing better fire protection. This tax was the first 
since the year 1802, when a tax of two cents on the dollar was made. 
A committee was later appointed to purchase a fire engine, but beyond 
this statement no further facts are available. 

In March, 1821, acting on the petition of Isaac Sherman and 
others, the burgesses ordered the extension of Middle Street from 
Fairfield Avenue to Gold Street. 


On September 17, 1822 permission was granted to Reuben 
Tweedy, Smith Tweedy and Lemuel Hubbell to place logs or pipes 
under the ground for the purpose of carrying water in this borough. 



provided that the pubhc should not be inconvenienced by the breaking 
up of the ground. This was the first attempt to supply public water 
to the community in places where water was not readily obtainable. 
It was the pioneer of the "Bridgeport Golden Hill Aqueduct Com- 
pany," chartered eleven years later. The sources of supply for this 
crude aifair were two springs on the south side of Golden Hill. The 
first spring was north of Golden Hill Street and west of Hewitt 
Street. The other was just east of the Powder House. The pipes, 
which were made from logs bored through the center lengthwise, were 
laid across the vacant lots to Beaver Street and then connected into 
one main. This main followed the north line of Beaver Street to 
Main, thence on the west line of Main Street to State, and thence 
on the north line of State Street to Water. 


The borough officials held a meeting on September 10, 1824, when 
the question of naming streets again came up for action. The records 
state the results of this meeting as follows : 

"Voted, that the following names of streets be offered for accept- 
ance by the freemen of the borough, viz. : 

"That the street commencing south of David Sterling's house 
lot on Main Street and running west over Golden Hill be Golden Hill 

"And that the street commencing on State Street west of the house 
lot of Widow James Fayerweather and running southerly in front 
of the house of Capt. Joel Thorp, said street being three rods wide, 
be called Fayette Street. 

"And that the street commencing on State Street, laid out three 
rods wide by L. Lockwood, Esq., twenty rods west of Fayette Street 
and running in a southerly direction through the land of L. Lock- 
wood, Esq., be called Lambert Street. 

"And that the street three rods wide between the dwelling house 
of Jesse Sterling on the north and David B. Nichols on the south, 
running west to Broad Street, be called Gilbert Street. 

"And that the street commencing opposite the twin houses of Ira 
Sherman on Broad Street and running west to Fayette Street, it 
being three rods wide, be called Liberty Street. 

"And that the street commencing on Beaver Street and running 
in a northwesterly direction in front of Samuel <^-- Kirtland's dwelling 
house be called Courtland Street." 



At a later meeting of the freemen of the borough the action of 
the burgesses in naming the streets was approved. It has been claimed 
that Courtland Street was named after Samuel C. Kirtland and that 
he laid out the street, but the records seem to disprove this idea. It is 
more probable that the street derived its name in honor of the family 
of Zebulon Kirtland than from any one of his descendants. Lambert 
Street was named after Lambert Lockwood; this street was later 
named Warren Street. John Street took its name from John S. 
Camion and Gilbert Street from W. W. Gilbert of New York, who 
owned a large tract of land extending from the water front across 
Main Street. Fayette Street, later more properly called Lafayette 
Street, was undoubtedly named after the famous French Marquis, 
who had just visited Bridgeport. 

The Court of Burgesses, at their meeting of December 18, 1830, 
at the store of D. B. Nichols, "Voted, that the following names for 
the new streets be offered to the electors of this borough for accep- 
tance, viz.: The one running east and west between D. B. Nichols 
and Jesse Sterhng's dwelling be called Gilbert Street; the one run- 
ning east and west between Moses Plat and Gideon Thompson's 
dwelling be called Clinton Street; the one running east of the Epis- 
copal and Congregational churches be called Church Street; the one 
running east and west between James Allen, Jr., and Elias Hodge's 
dwelling be called James Street, and the one running south of Isaac 
Blason's dwelling house be called Mott Street." 

At the borough meeting of the 27th of the same month it was 
"Voted, That the street running east and west between the dwellings 
of Joseph Allen and Elias Hodge be called Division Street; and that 
the street south of Isaac Mason's dwelliuig house running east and 
west be called Mott Street." 

The burgesses, on Januarj' 24, 1833, "Voted, That the following 
name for the street running from Main Street to the Golden Hill 
Road be offered to the electors of this borough for acceptance, viz. : 
Arch Street." The borough meeting of February I5th voted to so 
name the street. On September 25, 1833, the burgesses "Voted, That 
the street running from Main to Broad Street between the houses of 
Captain Thaddeus Hubbell and Doctor Samuel Simons be named 
Cannon Street." 


At the annual borough meeting held November 28, 1825 it was 
voted that Ransom C. Canfield and Lewis C. Segee be appointed a 






committee to investigate the cost of street lamps for the principal 
highways of the borough. By December 7th the following resolu- 
tion was passed : "Resolved, That eight lights be erected in the bor- 
ough, to be distributed as follows: One to be put in the center of 
Company Block; one on the corner of Thaddeus Hubbell's store; 
one at the corner of Seth B. Jones' shop ; one at Kippen &i Camp's ; 
one at the comer of Charles Winton's house; one at Widow Miriam 
Hubbell's corner; one at the comer of D. Sterling's store; one at the 
west end of the bridge." 

The first lamp was to be located about midway between Main 
Street and the old postoffice on State Street; the second on Water 
Street between State and Bank ; the third on the west side of Water 
Street, near Union Street; the fourth on the west side of Water 
Street between Bank and Wall streets; the fifth on the northwest 
comer of Main and Bank streets; the sixth at the southeast corner of 
^Vall and Main streets; the seventh at the northwest corner of Wall 
and Water streets; and the eighth at the foot of Beaver Street, or 
Fairfield Avenue. 

This was undoubtedly the first attempt at street lighting in Bridge- 
port. The lights, so far as illumination was concerned, were inade- 
quate; whale oil was used in the lamps, the light from which was little 
more than that from a tallow candle. In the winter the lamps were 
taken down and stored away until the coming of spring. Just why 
this was done is not clear, except that travel upon the highways was 
not great during the severe winter months and the inhabitants 
remained at home more. 


At the borough meeting held February 5, 1828 "a by-law respect- 
ing sidewalks" was approved. This was the first attempt to provide 
sidewalks in Bridgeport, that is, through borough action. The Varden 
and burgesses were given the power to order sidewalks to be built 
wherever needed and to compel the owner of the land where they 
were needed to pay for them. The by-law, as made then, was not of 
legal validity. It was modeled after those of several other cities in 
the state, notably Hartford, New Haven, New London and Middle- 
town, none of which had ever believed the by-law to be of much 
strength. However, the fact remains that the oflicials of the Borough 
of Bridgeport made the law and enforced it to the letter. If there 
was any opposition at any time it does not appear upon the borough 



At this same meeting a by-law was passed relating to a watch^ 
which is the first indication of the need of a public watch to protect 
property and maintain peace in the borough. The watch was em- 
powered to place his prisoner in the house of correction until trial. 

At a meeting of the Court of Burgesses September 17, 1829, at 
the oifice of Alanson Hamlin, it was 

"Voted, That in the opinion of this Court it is necessary that fol- 
lowing sidewalks should be made or repaired, and that the clerk order 
the proprietor of the lands adjoining to do the same with gravel, six 
feet wide by the 27th day of October next, viz. : 

"East side of the Public Green. 

"East side of Broad Street from the Episcopal Church to the house 
of John Brooks, Jr., and from John Street to Beaver Street. 

"North side of State Street from the house of P. and S. F. Hurd 
to the western limit of the borough. 

"South side of State Street from Main Street to the land of Mat- 
thew Curtis. 

"North side of Bank Street to Broad Street. 

"South side of Beaver Street from Main Street to Courtland 

"North side of Beaver Street from Water Street to the land of 
Philip A. Cannon. 

"East side of Water Street in front of D. Perry's wharf, and 
from store of P. and E. Lewis to P. A. Cannon's wharf. 

"West side of Water Street in front of the store occupied by 
Curtis & Seeley and house lot of D. B. Nichols. 

"West side of Main Street in front of Philip Hayt's land. 

"East side of Main Street in front of bank lot and the store of 
William DeForest and Jesse Sterling. 

"South side of Wall Street in front of Miriam Hubbell's." 

Thi,s was the beginning of the establishment of public sidewalks 
by the borough authorities. The walks were not graded, but followed 
the natural inclination of the ground. 


During the period of borough government in Bridgeport the prin- 
cipal object which held the attention of the warden and burgesses was 
the fire department. It was at once the most important and most 
indispensable of the borough's possessions. The meetings held by 
the Court of Burgesses invariably were largely occupied by the dis- 

ci byGoOgle 


cussion of ways and means of bettering the department, adding new 
apparatus and determining on the number and identity of the mem- 
bers. Something has been said in preceding paragraphs about the 
beginning of the department, and now something more of the develop- 
ment during the borough period must be told as introductorj' to the 
description of the present efficient fire fighting organization of the City 
of Bridgeport. 

In March of 1828 a fire started in the cooper shop occupied by 
Ashbel Olmstead, which was consumed, together with six stores and 
dwellings on Bank and State streets, causing a loss of $6,000. The 
borough naturally hurried to meet in order to devise something new 
in the way of fire protection. On March 31st it was "Voted, That 
pumps be provided at the expense of the borough for the well at the 
southeast comer of Main and State streets and all other wells which 
shall be dug by individuals for public use, of eight feet in diameter 
at the bottom and of such a depth as the warden and burgesses shall 
approve. That the warden and burgesses provide for the use of the 
borough six fire hooks, six ladders, and sufficient length of hose and 
rope and two axes, and put the engines in complete repair." Acts 
were also passed regulating the mode of building within the borough 
limits and prescribing certain rules for the inhabitants to follow, all 
to further secure the community from the ravages of fire. 

The old fire bucket preceded the modem hydrant and the use of 
it was largely governed by the amount of water in any given locality 
in the community. The "suction engine" had succeeded the primitive 
apparatus, which was simply a force pump on wheels and had to be 
supplied with water by pouring it into a tank underneath the pump, 
which water had to be carried from wells nearby. This led to the 
formation of the "bucket brigade." Every male person within certain 
prescribed ages was considered a volunteer in the department and 
when an alarm sounded he had to run for the scene of the fire, bring- 
ing with him his bucket. In this manner water could be carried from 
all wells within reach and the tank underneath the pump was thereby 
kept full. 

The fire of 1828 was so disastrous that the freemen quickly came 
to the realization that something more must be done. They applied 
to the General Assembly to establish fire limits in the borough and 
within which was prohibited the erection of any building in which 
a fire was to be kept, unless the building was constructed of brick or 
stone. The Assembly immediately passed an amendment to the char- 
ter with this provision incorporated. The fire limits thus established 



comprised practically all of the business section of the borough. 
Steamboats lying along the water front were placed under restric- 
tions in firing up, lest cinders and sparks from the "chimneys" ignite 
nearby frame buildings. Blacksmiths, tallow chandlers, bakers and 
others who demanded a fire within their place of business had to obtain 
permission to open up in the fire limits. New fire engines were pur- 
chased from time to time and new hook and ladder trucks. New com- 
panies were formed, with their regular complement of officers, to 
man these wagons. 

On the night of November 21, 1883, another disastrous fire started. 
It originated in the cabinet maker's shop of Parrott & Hubbell on 
JMain Street, south of Wall Street, and before the flames were brought 
under control the cabinet shop, a store, and eight dwellings were 
burned, entailing a loss of $12,000. Immediately afterward a new 
suction pump engine was purchased. 

This brings the history of Bridgeport up to the time of its incor- 
poration as a city. The last annual meeting of the freemen for the 
election of officers was held at the high school on State Street Decem- 
ber 23, 1835. 

Digitized byGOOgle 






Prior to June II, 1821, all that portion of Bridgeport lying east 
of Park Avenue constituted a part of the Town of Stratford and 
all that part lying west of this avenue remained a portion of the Town 
of Fairfield for forty-nine years afterward, or, until July 5, 1870. 
This same Park Avenue was known during the borough times as the 
Line Road, which name it has been called in the preceding chapter. 
When Bridgeport became a city, that part of it below the "Old 
Stage Road," or North Avenue, was named Division Street. Not 
until the west side was annexed to the city was the present and legal 
name of Park Avenue given to it. 

The May session of the General Court of Connecticut in the year 
1821 brought an important change in the Town of Stratford. All 
of the inhabitants living in the western section of Stratford were at 
this time set off and incorporated as a town by themselves. The 
inhabitants of the section thus set off did not accept this treatment 
with a smile ; in fact, they considered it a forcible expulsion from the 
town. The reason has been advanced that the western part of Strat- 
ford was rapidly becoming more populous and the people of the 
Village of Startford feared that in time the western half would gain 
the upper hand, with the result of moving the town records to the 
Borough of Bridgeport. Again the demands of the borough upon 
the town treasury were undoubtedly large and often threatened bank- 

The people of the western section had little or nothing to say dur- 
ing the action of the General Assembly and it is presumed that they 



had just cause to remonstrate. It is possible, that had they been 
allowed a voice in the proceedings, this opposition would not have 
been so marked. In the Act of Incorporation the territory which 
was assigned to them is described as follows: 


"That all of that part of the Town of Stratford lying west of the 
following lines, viz.: Beginning at the point where the north line 
of the 'Old Stage Road' intersects the Old Mill Creek at the bottom 
of the west side of Old Mill Hill, so-called, and thence running in a 
course due north until it strikes the division line between the Towns 
of Stratford and Trumbull, and running also from the point of inter- 
section first above mentioned in a southwardly course as said creek 
runs to the middle of Benjamin's Bridge, thence southerly across 
said bridge in the middle of said creek to the middle of the channel 
leading out of Bridgeport Harbor, and thence following said channel 
to Long Island Sound, with all the inhabitants residing within said 
limits, be and the same is hereby incorporated into a new and distinct 
town by the name of 'Bridgeport.' " 

This territory assigned to Bridgeport was wedge-shaped, with the 
edge lying along the Sound, comprising the principal portion of the 
village. This bit of territory seemed verj' confining to the Bridge- 
porters, whose dignity had already suffered a severe blow when the 
(General Assembly had granted the right to the residents of the town 
living outside their limits to say whether or not those of Bridgeport 
should be set aside as a separate town and giving them, the people 
of Bridgeport, absolutely no say in the matter. It was also provided 
that "this grant shall be void and of no effect unless the inhabitants 
of the Town of Stratford (not including those within said Town of 
Bridgeport) , shall at a meeting legally warned and held at their town 
house in said Stratford on or before the first day of July next pass a 
vote relinquishing all" claim to two Representatives and consenting 
forever hereafter to have but one Representative to the General 
Assembly of the State * * »" 

By the Act of Incorporation: "The first town meeting in the 
said Town of Bridgeport shall be held at the Presbyterian meeting 
house therein on the second Monday of June, 1821, and Enoch Foote, 
or either of the selectmen of said Stratford residing within the 
Borough of Bridgeport, shall be Moderator thereof, and shall warn 
said meeting by setting up a notification thereof on the public sign- 



. THE KEV.- ■■ORK 



post in said town, and at such place as he may deem proper, at least 
five daj's inclusive hefore said meeting. 

"And said Town of Bridgeport, at such first meeting, shall have 
all the powers incident to the other towns in the state, and full right 
to act accordingly; and the officers elected at. such meeting shall hold 
their offices until others are legally chosen and sworn in their stead." 


At the first town meeting, held June 11, 1821, with General Enoch- 
Foote presiding, Salmon Hubbell was elected town clerk; James E. 
Beach, Noah Plumb, Reuben Tweedy, Wilson Hawley, Enoch Foote, 
Joseph Knapp and David Nichols, Jr., selectmen; Smith Tweedy, 
treasurer; Ezra Gregory, Jr., Robert Gr^go/y, Henry Judson, Benja- 
min S. Smith and Matthew Curtis, constables; David Curtis, Ezra 
Gregorj-, Jr., Johnson Tuttle and Sylvanus Sterling, grand jurors. 
There was also appointed fence viewers, tythingmen, haywards, etc. 

To show the temper of the people at this first meeting, the formal 
protest made by them and ordered to be placed upon the town records 
is quoted in the following paragraph. The Bridgeport inhabitants 
were much incensed and i^ order to impress this feeling sufficiently 
upon the future generatioiis they ordered the .protest entered upon the 
record books before any other business whfitever. This protest is 
long, but without it, the history of the Town of Bridgeport would 
not be complete. It follows: 


"At the first legal meeting of the inhabitants of the Town of 
Bridgeport, in pursuance of the foregoing, their Act of Incorpora- 
tion, on the second Monday of June, A. D., 1821, at th,e Presbj-terian 
meeting house therein, 

"Voted, That whereas this meeting is convened in pursuance of 
a resolve of the General Assembly at their session in May, 1821, by 
which we are commanded this day to meet and organize ourselves as 
a town according to the laws of the state, and whereas, our so doing 
may be construed as a willing acquiescence in the condition we are 
by said resolve placed ; which to prevent and to make known to our 
fellow citizens throughout the state the light in which we view the 
whole transaction which has resulted in the necessity of submitting to 
the strong hand of power, however exercised. 



"We do most solemnly protest against this resolve for reasons 
following, to wit: 

"1st. Because said resolve is, in our opinion, most palpably un- 
constitutional and unjust, in that by it a majority of the Town of 
Stratford living in a particular section thereof are whoUy disen- 
franchised and deprived of all right as citizens of that town against 
their will and at the instigation of the minority of said inhabitants 
living in another section; and in that said majority are deprived of 
the privilege of sending two representatives to the General Assembly 
without their consent or agreement by the vote of the minority only, 
at a meeting at which said majority were forbidden to act, a right 
expressly guaranteed to any town from which any new town is made, 
by the Constitution of the State ; and in that said majority are by said 
resolve deprived of their lawful name as a town and have another 
imposed upon them, all without their consent; and in that they are 
in like manner deprived of their town records which, with the name, 
is given to said minority. 

"2d. And because the line of division is unequal and unjust, in 
that it leaves to said majority not more than one-fourth part of the 
actual territory of said town, and in that said division line runs three- 
fourths of its entire distance through enclosed farms, by which the 
owners of them, being a. part of said majority, will become taxable 
for town expenses in the to^vn composed of said minority, all of 
which might have been prevented by adopting a certain highway and 
brook called Knees-and-Paws Creek, or at some other place, as a line 
of division; and in that there is left to said majority a breadth of 
boundary on the sea'of not more than sixty rods, while said minority 
possess a boundary, as they state in their petition for said resolve, 
of about five miles on the sea and ten miles on the Ousatonic River, 
and in that said resolve gives to said minority the control of one-half 
of Bridgeport Harbor for all purposes of quarantine, which may 
prove an intolerable vexation to said majority, whereas if a line had 
been run in said highway and creek, etc., nearly all the evils mentioned 
might have been obviated. 

"ad. And because in case of a disagreement as to a division of 
the property and burdens, a gi-eat proportion of which consists of 
bridges, three-fourths of which are in the western division of said 
Town of Stratford, the dispute nmst be determined without appeal 
by a single individual, whom indeed the majority highly respect, but 
who was nominated and his appointment procured by the minority 
without the knowledge and consent of the majority. 



"4th. And because said resolve will be a precedent for the viola- 
tion of all other rights of all citizens of the state. 

"5th. And because said majority are impressed with a belief 
that said resolve was procured a passage through said Assembly by 
information given to its members which was alltogether incorrect, 
and by which they were deceived into a belief of its propriety without 
the inquiry before the House. 

"Wherefore, for the reason above stated and many others apparent 
from their said resolve, this meeting does most solemnly PROTEST 
against said resolve; that it is unconstitutional, arbitrary and unjust, 
and hereby do declare that whatever shall be done at their meeting, or 
at any future meeting in carrying into effect said resolve, is submis- 
sion to the strong hand of power, reserving to ourselves notwith- 
standing what may be done, the right at any future time to seek 
redress by all lawful ways and means whatsoever. 

"Voted, That the foregoing be entered as the first article in the 
record of said Town of Bridgeport, and that the printers of this 
town be requested to publish the same in their respective papers. 

"Dated this 11th day of June, 1821. 

"Enoch Foote, Moderator, 

"Salmon Hubbell, Clerk." 

The question which so angered the people of Bridgeport was 
apparently dropped for the time being, but at a town meeting held 
April 15, 1822, it was "Voted, That we will petition the General 
Assembly at the approaching session for an alteration in the line 
between the Towns of Bridgeport and Stratford. Voted, That a 
committee be appointed to examine the proposed lines between 
Bridgeport and Stratford, say Knees-and-Paws Creek and Yellow 
3Iill Bridge, north and south." 

Noah Plumb, John Brooks and Daniel Sterling were "appointed 
as such committee, and the meeting adjourned until the following 

afternoon when it was "Voted, To direct persons to petition 

the (icneral Assembly for an alteration in the division between 
Bridgeport and Stratford line, beginning at Knees-and-Paws Creek 
and thence running south to the Sound and north to the Trumbull 
line." It was further "Voted, That General Enoch Foote be agent 
for the said petition to the General Assembly, and that he have 
permission to employ counsel." The meeting adjourned to Monday, 
April 22d, when the following was passed: "Whereas, the time is 
too short to bring a petition to the approaching legislature. Voted, 



That we suspend any further proceedings in regard to an alteration 
in the lines between the Towns of Bridgeport and Stratford for the 

Nothing more of consequence was done upon this subject until 
sixty-eight years later. 


In the matter of expenditures the early town authorities were 
very economical. The records contain very little to give informa- 
tion regarding the expenses. It was customary to levy a one cent 
tax direct for highway purposes. Persons had the privilege of 
paying their tax by an equivalent amount of labor if they so desired. 
The sur^'eyor of highways in each district had a rate book, in which 
was entered tlie amount of tax or labor assigned to each resident of 
his district. The boundaries of these districts were never recorded, 
the same being a matter of common knowledge, consequently there 
seemed to be no cause for recording them. The tax raised in the 
town was very small, that of 182*2 being only $250 and that of 1830 
less than $300. As almost everj' person paid his tax with his labor, 
the town authorities fixed the compensation for a day's work as 
75 cents, an equal amount alloived for a team of horses or mules, 
or a pair of oxen. Later the day's work was judged to be worth 
only fifty cents. 

The first highway improvement made by the town was the build- 
ing of a bridge across what was known as Baker's Pond. This pond 
has long since passed from existence. It was only a creek which at 
one time extended from the harbor about where South Avenue is 
located across Main Street. It was the outlet for small rivulets 
which drained the swamp lands north of State Street between Broad 
and Courtland streets. It is said that skating parties would start 
from the vicinity of 200 State Street, skate to the harbor and around 
the beacon, the outlet being over Baker's Pond. 

The borough had purchased part of the land to extend Main 
Street south of State Street as early as 1807 and individuals had 
extended the street as far as Baker's Pond. However, neither the 
borough or Town of Stratford had taken any steps to bridge this 
pond. After much dickering, appointment of investigating com- 
mittees, etc., on October 11, 1822, the town "Voted, That the town 
pay James W. Allen out of the town treasury $225 so soon as said 
Allen will and shall build a solid bridge over Baker's Pond, logged 



with Jog sides, 14 feet wide, filled with stones, or gravel, or sod; laid 
firm like a wharf, with a sluice in the middle twenty feet wide, well 
anchored, to the acceptance of the selectmen of said town, ivith a 
proper railing." It is known that Captain Allen constructed this 
bridge, but all remnants have disappeared. For many years a bridge 
on Main Street at South Avenue, fully 175 feet long, was in exist- 
ence, but the memory of it has gone. It is presumed that the town 
officials faced the same problems and experienced the same difficulties 
in road building as did the borough officials. Much opposition is 
shown upon the records to the laying out of proposed roads, while very 
many highways were approved. 

The only street that the selectmen laid out between 1821 and the 
incorporation of the city in 1886 was Pequonnock Street. In October, 
1827, the selectmen laid out a road from near the dwelling house of 
Gideon Wells to the Golden Hill Road. The road was probably 
already there, the action of the selectmen being simply to legalb,e the 


The care of the poor in the town, the provision for a place to in- 
carcerate those who were guilty of disobeying the law, and where 
they could be self-supporting during the time of their imprisonment, 
were matters occupying the attention of the early town meetings to 
a large extent. At a meeting held September 20, 1822, it was 

"Voted, That a committee of three be appointed to examine and 
report at the adjourned meeting in regard to a house of correction or 
poor house. 

"Voted, That the committee appointed on the subject of a work- 
house and house of correction, to be connected with an asylum for 
the poor, inquire, 1st, Into the expediency of such an establishment; 
2d. And as to the proper place for the erection of such an establish- 
ment and the cost of obtaining proper land and buildings for it; and 
lastly, whatever else they may deem proper upon the subject, and 
report at an adjourned meeting." 

Enoch Foote, Daniel Sterling and Wilson Hawley were appointed 
members of this committee and they reported on the 11th of October 
as follows: 

"The committee to whom was referred the consideration of the 
expediency of establishing a workhouse, etc., respectfully report as 
follows, to wit: 



"1st. That they have attended to the duty assigned them agreeable 
to their instructions, and are of the opinion that it is inexpedient to 
establish a workhouse and house of correction, with an asylum for 
the poor. 

"•2d, And do recommend that the town hire a house and one acre 
of land from Elijah Burritt, called Parrish's house, for five years, 
if the rent can be hired at $80 a year, which place we think a very 
proper one and the house convenient. 

"8d. The committee believe it will be a considerable saving to the 
town, the town poor made more comfortable than they are at present, 
and the vicious placed in security. 

"Enoch Foote, 
"Daniel Steblino, 
"Wilson Hawley." 

This report was accepted and the selectmen authorized to proceed 
with the work. It is evident that the selectmen found some difficulty 
in doing this, as it states in a warning for a meeting to be held October 
6, 1828, that the purpose was "to take into consideration the propriety 
of purchasing or hiring a building for a poorhouse and house of cor- 
rection." The meeting appointed Daniel Sterling, Enoch Foote and 
Thomas C. Wordin "to inquire into the situation of David Sherwood's 
property, in regard to its value and encumbrance, and report to the 
next annual meeting." The report submitted by the committee was 
unfavorable and for the time being the question was dropped from 

On June 25, 1825, it was voted that the town should establish a 
suitable house of correction and that the selectmen should find a 
suitable location. They reported on July 11th that they had not been 
able to secure a suitable building, but recommended that a building be 
erected upon some desirable spot, the same not to cost more than two 
hundred dollars. On September 21st the selectmen approved of the 
house, which had been erected near the home of Abel M. Wheeler. 
This house was designated as a workhouse and house of correction. 
On September 15, 1827, the matter of a poorhouse again came up, 
when a committee, composed of Enoch Foote, David Nichols and 
Sylvanus Sterling, was appointed to examine the subject. The result 
was that the selectmen advertised to "contract with any person to 
support and maintain all the town poor for the year ensuing. From 
this time on for many years the subject of a poorhouse and house of 
correction was debated in almost everj' town meeting. Hardly any 



action was taken which could be called important or worthy of men- 
tion, most of it consisting of the appointment of investigating com- 
mittees which invariably returned an indefinite report of their findings. 
On August 19, 1837, a committee purchased of Philip A. Cannon, 
Samuel Peet and John Plumb, for the sum of $700, "a certain tract 
or parcel of land situated at a place called Kast Bridgeport, in said 
Town of Bridgeport, containing five acres, bounded northerly on 
highway, easterly on land of Bryant B. Parrott, southerly on land of 
Isaac Seeley, and westerly on land of Jesse and I^egrand Sterling 
and Lucy Parrott." This house was constructed and later additional 
land was purchased adjacent to the original groimd. 


During the first years of the town's ofiicial life there was no neces- 
sity of having a building devoted to the care of the town records. 
There were probably only two books — the record of town meetings 
and the land record — which had to be kept and these the town clerk 
kept at his house or place of business. On April 15, 1838, it was 
voted at a meeting to instruct the treasurer to purchase an iron safe 
for not more than forty dollars. This is the first instance of any 
special effort being made to protect the books. Immediately following 
the completion of the almshouse there arose the question of building a 
suitable town house for Bridgeport. At this time Bridgeport had 
become a city and it was planned to use the contemplated building for 
both town and city house. The selectmen found everything agreeable 
to the idea of a new building and they were given power .to attend to 
all preliminary arrangements. 

A special meeting was called for March 16, 1888, "for the purpose 
of taking into consideration the expediency and propriety of building 
a town house and public market on the Public Green in said Bridge- 
port, between the houses of Daniel Fayerweather and Daniel O. 
Wheeler, or on land owned by William Peet, Esq., between the 
Episcopal and North Congregational churches." The house of Daniel 
Fayerweather stood on the site of the City Hall Building and the 
Daniel O. Wheeler house on the northwest corner of Broad and State 
streets. The Public Green was that portion of the City Hall Green 
lying west of the building. The lot owned by William Peet was the 
northeast comer of Broad and John streets, extending from the post- 
office to John Street. At this time Broad Street and Main Street 
were not used for business and this fact, coupled with the prospective 



high cost of building, brought forth the decision that it was inexpedient 
to build a town house at that time. 

The City of Bridgeport had by this time grown to at least four 
thousand population and the necessity for some place to hold meetings 
and conduct business was dire. The Baptist Church, on the southeast 
comer of State and Broad streets, was used for meetings, with the 
express stipulation that those present "shall not be allowed to stand 
on any seat." Probably for this reason it soon became the custom to 
immediately adjourn the meetings held in the church to the city court 
room, at the southeast corner of Main and Wall streets. This was a 
large hall occupying the upper stories of three stores known as the 
Exchange Building. 

At the meeting of November 28, 184.0, the matter of building a 
town house again came up and a committee was appointed to learn 
whether or not a proper location for a town house cpuld be secured and 
also the cost of the same. By the following February it was decided 
to contract for a room owned by James Robinson, the same located in 
the Exchange Building, At a special meeting held January 29, 1845, 
the selectmen were instructed "to contract for the enlargement of the 
room known as the town hall for a sum not exceeding one hundred 
dollars per annum," with certain other considerations. 

In March, 1851, a committee composed of George Wade, Lemuel 
Coleman and P, C. Calhoun was appointed to again inquire into the 
expediency of building a town house. From the subsequent records 
it is evident that this committee decided not only upon a site for the 
town house, but had also formulated a plan for a building. Another 
special meeting was held May 10, 1851, "for the purpose of hearing 
the report of the committee appointed to purchase a lot for a town 
house, to appoint a building committee to erect a suitable building 
thereon and empower them to borrow money for said purpose and to 
appoint an agent to sign a note or notes for the same." 

The selectmen were authorized to give the note of the town to 
Dr. David H. Nash for the sum of $8,000 in payment of the lot pur- 
chased of him for the site of the town house. Lemuel Coleman, Henry 
K. Harral, John Brooks, Jr., and Philo C. Calhoun were appointed 
as a building committee. The lot purchased from Doctor Nash was 
bounded on the west by practically the same line as the west side of 
the present city hall building. It was evidently the purpose of the 
town to erect here on this 100 by 15 ft. lot a modest town hall fronting 
the west. On June 14, 18.51, however, a special meeting was held "for 
the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of purchasing 



the remainder of the Fayerweather lot, now belonging to Dr'. David 
H, Nash and selling a portion of the lot recently purchased of said 
Nash, also to provide ways and means of paying for the same." 
Building operations were suspended for a year for financial reasons. 
On July 12th Doctor Nash conveyed to the town in consideration of 
$5,200 "A certain piece of land, with the dwelling house and other 
buildings thereon, situated in said Bridgeport and bounded westerly 
on the public green, so-called, or highway, southerly on State Street 
sixty feel, easterly on land of said Nash, and northerly on land of said 
Town of Bridgeport (which was purchased of said Nash and deeded 
to them the 80th of May, 1851), sixty feet, subject to a lease to the 
present proprietor of said dwelling house imtil the 1st of April, 1852, 
the Town of Bridgeport receiving the rent therefrom." 

On the same day the selectmen deeded to David H. Nash all that 
portion of the lot on Bank Street lying east of the direct line of the 
Fayerweather lot, extending to Bank Street, or foi'ty feet fronting 
on that street, for $1,200. This purchase gave to the town a lot sixty 
feet wide, extending from State Street to Bank Street, and the one 
on which the city hall now stands. 


As early as 1880 the citizens of Bridgeport had aspirations to 
have their village the site of the county courthouse. Norwalk had also 
experienced the same desire, but both towns did not feel that the 
treasury would warrant any extended campaign at that time for the 
removal of the seat of justice from Fairfield. A special town meeting 
was held in Bridgeport December 28, 1888, "for the purpose of taking 
into consideration the propriety of making an efl'ort to obtain the 
removal of the county courthouse and gaol from Fairfield to Bridge- 
port." A committee consisting of Samuel Simons, Daniel Thatcher, 
Philo Hurd, Smith Tweedy and Fitch Wheeler was selected to inquire 
about the subject and report later. They accomplished the investiga- 
tion ordered and then "recommended that a committee of nine be 
appointed to bring a petition to the next General Assembly to remove 
the place of holding the courts from Fairfield to Bridgeport, provided 
the Town of Bridgeport will furnish a courthouse and gaol to the 
acceptance of a committee appointed by the county." The meeting 
then appointed as the committee to bring the petition Fitch Wheeler, 
Alanson Hamlin, Daniel Fayerweather, Smith Tweedy, Ira Peck, 
Mark Moore, Josiah Hubbell, Abijah Hawley and Enoch Foote. 



On April 28, 1841, there was held another special meeting. Prior 
to this Norwalk had petitioned the General Assembly for the removal 
of the courthouse and jail from Fairfield to that town and a number 
of the citizens also had a petition ready asking that Bridgeport be 
made the shire town of the lower end of the county, A warning was 
issued at this meeting of the 28th "to take into consideration the pro- 
priety of remonstrating against any petitions that have been brought 
to the next General Assembly of this state for removing the courthouse 
from the Town of Fairfield to any place westerly or northerly of said 
Fairfield," also several other items. The meeting closed with the 
adoption of resolutions reading as follows: 

"Resolved, That this town assume and maintain the petition of 
Charles Bostwick, Esq., and others, brought to the General Assembly 
of this state for the removal of the courthouse and gaol from Fairfield 
to Bridgeport. 

"Resolved, That in consideration of the peculiar advantages which 
a courthouse and gaol will be to Bridgeport we will, with such aid as 
the present county property at Fairfield wilt afford, erect at our own 
expense the necessary and proper buildings for a county house and 
gaol, and save the county harmless therefrom. 

"Resolved, That an agent be appointed to carrj' into effect the 
foregoing resolutions. 

"Resolved, That James C. Loomis be appointed said agent. 

"Resolved, That the Town of Bridgeport are opposed to the re- 
moval of the courthouse and gaol from the Town of Fairfield to the 
Town of Norwalk, and that the agent hereby appointed at this meet- 
ing to attend to the petition of Cliarles Bostwick, Esq., and others, be 
authorized and directed to file a remonstrance to the General Assembly 
in the name of this town to the petition of the Town of Norwalk, 
brought to the said General Assembly for the purpose aforesaid." 

The result was that neither Bridgeport nor Norwalk succe&ded in 
wresting the county seat honors from Fairfield. Bridgeport did not 
again attempt to do so for nearly ten years. 

In 1850 the Town of Norwalk again petitioned the General As- 
sembly for the removal of the courthouse there. This was the signal 
for Bridgeport again to take up arms. A special meeting was held in 
Bridgeport on April 27th, when vigorous resolutions were passed 
against Norwalk's action, and incidentally pressing forward Bridge- 
port's claims again. Although tlie latter town did not secure the 
courthouse the strong opposition really prevented Norwalk from 
achieving the honor. At this time also Bridgeporters took renewed 

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\tildfn i<_ : 



courage, as their town had become the most likely town in the county 
for the location of the county courthouse. A decade previous this 
could not be said. Then Fairfield held advantages above both Bridge- 
port and Norwalk. During the ten years intervening, however, 
Bridgeport grew in population and commerce, while Fairfield de- 
teriorated. The cause of Bridgeport was rapidly assuming momentum 
and strength. 

The meeting of April 19, 18.52, was held "for the purpose of 
making such arrangements as are necessary and proper in petitioning 
the next General Assembly of the state for the removal of the court- 
house and jail from Fairfield to Bridgeport and to appoint all neces- 
sary agents to carry forward and prosecute the same before said 
assembly." James C. Loomis, William P. Burrall and E. S. Aber- 
nethy were named for the committee. As had been the case before 
Norwalk then followed Bridgeport's lead and voted to petition the 
General Assembly herself, Bridgeport coimteracting naturally with 
a set of resolutions condemning Norwalk's move and offering to build 
a county courthouse at Bridgeport free from expense to the county. 
But Bridgeport was doomed yet to .^vait. 

On February 15, 1858, the foflowing was adopted by the town 

"Whereas, Reports have been industriously circulated that the 
citizens of Bridgeport have never obligated themselves to build the 
public buildings at their own expense in case of the removal of the 
county seat of the lower shire to that place, whereby a false impression 
has been made, Now, therefore, for the purpose of removing such im- 
pression and stopping all further cavil on the subject, we do resolve, 

"First. That believing that the public interests will be promoted 
by the removal of the county seat in the lower shire from Fairfield to 
Bridgeport, it is our intention to petition the next General Assembly 
to that effect. 

"Second. We do hereby obligate and bind ourselves to the County 
of Fairfield, in case of such removal, (with the use of the county 
property at Fairfield,) to provide suitable sites at said Bridgeport for 
the courthouse and jail and to erect thereon suitable, sufficient and 
proper buildings under the supervision of such committee as the legis- 
lature may appoint, with all reasonable despatch for the use of the 
county, at our own cost and expense and without any cost or expense 
to the county whatsoever. 

"Third. That our Representative in the General Assembly be 

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requested to present these resolutions to the meeting of the Represen- 
tatives of the county holden at Westport on the 17th instant." 

Undoubtedly this was the most opportune moment to bid for the 
favor of the remaining towns in the county.- Just then a new jail was 
in process of construction at Fairfield, the expense of which was 
borne by several towns. Now that Bridgeport had made it clear to 
the other towns that they would not have to share in the cost of con- 
structing a courthouse, she secured a leverage which went far to make 
her efforts successful. 

A special meeting was held April 19, 1853, to "take into considera- 
tion the propriety of petitioning the next Genera] Assembly for the 
removal of the county seat from Fairfield to Bridgeport ; of determin- 
ing the terms and conditions upon which said application shall be 
made, and making all such arrangements and provisions as may be 
necessary and proper to carry tlie same into effect." The meeting 
voted to bring the petition and further 

"Voted, That in consideration of the advantages tliat may result 
to the town from such removal, the town will at their own cost and 
expense provide a suitable place or places for the necessary public 
buildings and erect the same for the use of the county free from any 
cost or expense to the county ; and will also assume all the contracts 
that may have been made by the county commissioners for lumber, 
timber, brick, lime and other materials for the erection of the jail at 
Fairfield, and save the county harmless from any cost or expense in 
relation to the same, 

"Voted, That James C. Loomis, K. S. Abernethy, Dwighl Morris 
and John Brooks, Jr., be and are, hereby appointed the agents of the 
town to prepare a petition for the purpose aforesaid, and present and 
prosecute the same accordingly, and that said agents be and they are, 
hereby fully authorized and empowered to make any and all further 
propositions for and in behalf of said town in relation to the premises 
which in their opinion may be necessary' and proper. 

"Voted, That said agents be and they are, hereby authorized to 
draw on the treasurer of the town for such sums of money as they may 
deem necessary to expend in prosecuting said petition," 


This unmistakable sincerity on the part of Bridgeport resulted in 
her acquisition of the county courthouse and jail. An "Act in altera- 
tion of an Act relating to Courts, and an Act concerning Persons," 



was passed by the General Assembly and approved June 80, 1853. 
This Act provided "that from and after the first day of October next, 
the Supreme Court of Errors, the Superior Court and the County 
.Court in the County of Fairfield shall be held in Bridgeport in said 
county, at the several times when they are now by law required and 
authorized.lo be held in the said county." It was made the duty of the 
Town of Bridgeport, free of expense to the County of Fairfield, "to 
erect on the lot between State and Bank streets, on the east side of the 
public square, a building with suitable and convenient rooms with the 
necessary fixtures for the accommodation of said courts, and with a 
fire-proof vault for the safe custody and preservation of the public 
records, to the acceptance of any three judges of the Supreme Court 
of Errors." The town was to execute and deliver to the county treas- 
urer a conveyance of "the right to said rooms for the purposes afore- 
said during the time when said courts shall be by law held in said 
Bridgeport." It was also made the duty of the town "to erect, free 
of expense to said county, a suitable jail" to the acceptance of three 
Supreme Court judges, with "all the necessary arrangements for the 
confinement of persons committed to said jail" and convey the same 
to the county. The expenses of the judges in visiting and examining 
the buildings to determine whether the same ought to be accepted was 
to be paid by the town. The town was also to pay to the treasurer 
of the county "the amount of all expense and liability incurred in the 
erection of the new county buildings in Fail-field," and of all the 
materials used in the construction. The commissioners were author- 
ized to convey the same over to Bridgeport upon the payment of this 
claim. When this money was paid into the county treasury then the 
commissioners were to "refund to any town in said county any sum 
which may have been paid by such town on account of the tax laid to 
defray the expense of said building." It was provided that "if the 
said Town of Bridgeport shall not, on or before the first day of 
October, 1854, have erected said buildings according to the provisions 
of the act," said town, "shall pay into the treasury of the County of 
Fairfield the sum of $20,000, recoverable in any proper action brought 
for that purpose." Bridgeport was also instructed to provide good 
quarters for the courts during the time that the courthouse was being 
built. The sheriff was given the power to see that this was done and 
to use the town money for the same if necessary. The to%vn was also 
authorized to lay a tax and collect the same to carry out the provisions 
of the act. 

That the town had assumed an immense obligation is shown by 



reports of subsequent meetings, when committees were appointed to 
investigate the cost of the removal. A special town meeting was caUed 
for July 7, 1838, "for the purpose of taking into consideration and 
adopting such measures as may be necessary to carry into effect the. 
act removing the county seat of the Lower Shire from Fairfield to 
Bridgeport," and also to take such measures, "as may be thought 
necessary and proper for procuring a lot for the location of the county 
jail, and also of a building on the lot owned by the town between 
State and Bank streets, with suitable accommodations for the courts 
of said county pursuant to the provisions of said Act, 'and also a town 
hall and such other rooms as may be deemed necessary and proper for 
the use of the town, and to appoint all such committees, with such 
powers as may be deemed proper, to carrj' into effect the aforesaid 

James C. Loorais, Henry K. Harral, Hanford Lyon, Philo C. 
Calhoun, John Brooks, Jr., Lemuel Coleman and William S. Knowl- 
ton were appointed as a building committee and they were "empowered 
to erect on the lot between State and Bank streets, on the east side of 
the public square, a building of such form and dimensions as may be 
deemed by them necessary and proper for a town hall, town clerk's 
office, and for such other purposes as the interests of the town may- 
require, containing convenient and suitable rooms with the necessary 
fixtures therein for the accommodation of the courts of Fairfield 
County, together with a fire-proof vault for the safe custody and 
preservation of the public records, and in conformity in all respects 
with the provisions of the 'Ad in Alteration of an Act relating to 
Courts, and of an Act concerning persons.' " 

This committee was further authorized and empowered to purchase 
a suitable lot and to build there a county jail, to borrow money and 
make satisfactory disposition of the buildings then standing on the 
town lot on the east side of the public square. This committee was 
given arbitrary powers by the citizens, because it was composed of the 
most influential and at the same time wealthiest men of the town. 

No further action was taken by the town itself until April 1, 1854, 
when a town meeting was held for the purpose of "authorizing and 
empowering the building committee or some other proper persons to 
convey, according to the requirements of the statute in such ease made 
and provided, to the treasurer of the County of Fairfield and his 
successors in office, the land and buildings belonging to the town, 
situated on Broad Street, on which the jail has recently been erected 
bv said town." 



This lot was purchased by the committee on August 22, 1858, of 
William H. Knowlton, the price paid being $4,000. The description 
in the deed reads as follows : 

"A certain piece of land, and buildings thereon standing, contain- 
ing about 45 rods, more or less : bounded westerly on Broad Street 81 
feet in part, and in part westerly on land of Pearl H. Sperry 32 feet; 
northerly on land of Pearl H. Sperry 76 feet 4 inches in part, and in 
part on land of George W. Griswold 53 feet; easterly .on land of 
William M. Ayres 118 feet; southerly on land of Stephen Lounsbury 
138 feet, the same being situated in said Bridgeport, and the lines or 
bounds of said land being as the same is now fenced." 

This lot was on the east side of Broad Street, near South Avenue. 

On April 11, 1854, James C. Loomis, Henry K. Harral, Hanford 
J_iyon, Philo C. Calhoun, John Brooks, Jr., and Lemuel Coleman, 
conveyed to N. H. Wildman, of Danbury, treasurer of Fairfield 
County, and his successors in office, for the consideration of $1, "for 
the uses and purposes of a common jail for the County of Fairfield, 
according to the provisions of a certain statute law of this state, en- 
titled 'An Act in Alteration of an Act relating-to Courts, and an Act 
concerning persons,' passed in May, 1858, a certain tract of land 
situated in said Town of Bridgeport, in quantity half an acre, more or 
less, and bounded on a line running from front to rear one foot north 
of and parallel to the north wall of the brick building now standing on 
the land in this deed described and hereby conveyed; easterly on George 
Everson; southerly on Stephen Lounsburj', and westerly on Broad 
Street, with all the buildings thereon." 

It was not until May 2d following, however, that the conveyance 
was duly accepted by the judges of the Supreme Court. Nor did this 
conveyance "convey" to the county the whole of the land which had 
been purchased of Knowlton. On the back of the north side there 
was a strip 52 by 58 feet, which evidently was held by the town, to- 
gether with eight feet of frontage on Broad Street. This was sold by 
Silas C. Booth, as agent for.iiie town, to Jessup Alvord, county treas- 
urer, on February 18, 1856, for the consideration of $600. 

In May, 1854, the town decided to issue bonds to cover the ex- 
penses incurred in the erection of the county buildings and to this end 
voted to prepare a petition for the next General Assembly, asking for 
authority to issue these bonds. The General Assembly, at its May 
session, granted this authoritj', provided that the sum of the bonds, 
promissory notes, etc., did not exceed the sum of seventy-five thousand 



In August, 1834, steps were taken to purchase the lot on the east 
side of the courthouse, which had been recently bought by the building 
committee of Messrs. Hall and Miller for the town. The original lot 
had been purchased of David H. Nash on July 12, 1851, and this had 
a frontage of sixty feet on both State and Bank streets. In Septem- 
ber, 1858, Orlando B. Hall and Edward H. Taylor, who had bought 
the adjoining property on the east, conveyed to the town a strip ten 
feet wide from State to Bank streets, the consideration being $1,100. 
Hall and Taylor, after this sale had a lot fifty-six feet wide from 
street to street. Taylor conveyed his interest to Hall and the latter 
in time gave his interest to Henry Hall. The building committee, on 
July 18, 1854, bought this lot of Henry Hall for $4,812.06 and 
assumed a mortgage of $3,500 thereon, held by David H. Nash. Also, 
on the same day, the committee Imught of Emery A. Weller a lot 
twenty-six feet wide adjoining at the east, extending from street to 
street, and assumed another mortgage for $2,000 held by Nash. This 
constituted all the land held by the town east of the then courthouse. 

The mortgages of David H. Nash of $5,500 were paid January 
13, 1855. The aggregate cost of the lot was $19,546.12, that is of the 
lot on which the city hall now stands and the ground east of it. This 
was at the rate of $128.60 per front foot, running from street to street. 

In consideration of the promise made to the Town of Fairfield and 
the agreement entered into, at a special meeting held September 16, 
1854, it was 

"Voted, That the building committee, consisting of James C. 
Loomis, Hanford Lyon, Pbilo C. Calhoun, John Brooks, Jr., Lemuel 
Coleman and ^\'illiam S. Knowlton, be and they hereby are authorized 
and empowered for and in behalf of the Town of Bridgeport to make, 
execute and deliver to St. Paul's Church and Society at Fairfield a 
quit claim deed and conveyance to said church and society all the right, 
title and interest of the Town of Bridgeport in or to the land in the 
said Town of Fairfield on which the jail formerly stood, with the 
buildings thereon, conveyed to said Town of Bridgeport by the Com- 
missioners of Fairfield County by deed dated the 12th day of Septem- 
ber, 1858; also that said committee sell and dispose of the buildings, 
fences and stones on the town lot in which the courthouse now stands ; 
fill up the cellar under said bouse, grade and prepare said lot so far as 
may be necessarj' and proper for the purpose of a public square." 

At a town meeting November 15, 1854, "for the purpose of au- 
thorizing the building committee on courthouse to make conveyance 
of the same as required by law on that subject, passed at the session of 



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the Legislature in 1858," it was voted that the building committee 
should be "authorized and empowered for and in behalf of the Town 
of Bridgeport to make, execute and deliver unto the treasurer of Fair- 
field County and his successors in oiBce a good and suiBcient deed or 
other instrument obligatory to the acceptance of any three of the 
judges of the Supreme Court of Errors of this state conveying un^o 
said treasurer and his successors in said office the right to all the rooms, 
except the southeast room, together with the fireproof vault on the 
second floor of the public building in said Bridgeport known and de- 
nominated the courthouse; also the right of the rooms on the third floor 
of said building known and denominated as the gallery, with the two 
small rooms on the east and west sides of the same known and de- 
nominated as the consultation rooms, with the right to use the north- 
west corner basement room for the purpose of placing a furnace there 
for the heating of the other rooms if the same shall become necessary ; 
also for the purpose of storing the necessary coal and fuel for the use 
of said rooms, with the right to use all the flues in said building that 
may become necessary for the heating of said rooms; also the right to 
use all the entrances, halls and stairways in said building for free 
ingress and egress to and from said rooms, according to the require- 
ments and provisions, and for the uses and purposes expressed and 
contained in a statute law of this state passed at the May session of the 
General Assembly, A. D., IBdS, and approved on the 30th day of 
June in said year, and entitled 'An Act in Alteration of an Act relat- 
ing to Courts, and an Act concerning Persons.' " 

The southeast room on the second floor was also appropriated for 
the use of the Bridgeport Librarj' Company. At the meeting on 
November 29, 1854, it was "Voted, Tliat the room below called the 
basement in this building be hereafter used as a town hall, and that all 
town meetings be held there : and that the northeast room on the same 
floor be appropriated for holding justice courts." 

On February 20, 1855, the courthouse committee presented a re- 
port of their work and were officially thanked for their services. This 
committee had been the same since the first, with the exception of 
Henry K. Harral, who died in 1854. William S. Knowlton took his 
place on the board. On March 14, 185.5, the selectmen were instructed 
"to build a temporary fence around the courthouse and improve and 
finish the grounds connected therewith." This action practically com- 
pleted the building of Bridgeport's first courthouse, the identical build- 
ing which is now the city hall. 




At a special meeting held May 11, 1872, "for the purpose of selling 
to the county the interest of the town in the courthouse," it was 

"Resolved, That Francis Ives, George Mallory and Eghert Marsh 
be appointed a committee to confer with the county commissioners to 
perfect if possible such an arrangement as will enable the county to 
rent for the use of the Court of Common Pleas Washington Hall, 
subject to the use of the town and city for purposes of public meet- 
ings, and to perfect such arrangements as shall be just by which 
the court house building and premises may be kept in good order and 
report their doings as early as possible." 

The committee reported on July 27th "that they had an interview 
with the commissioners in relation to the above mentioned subject and 
understand from them that one-half the hall, together with one of the 
comer rooms on the same floor, will afi'ord all the room needed by 
the Court of Common Pleas, and for this the county would be willing 
to pay $600 per annum, taking a lease for ten years and making the 
alterations and fitting up the rooms at the expense of the county." It 
was finally decided to authoriyx the selectmen to lease to the county 
for the term of tweh'e years the west half of Washington Hall and 
the room adjoining north of the same at a yearly rent of $600, the 
county to make all alterations. 

Mr. Franklin Sherwood wrote in regard to this matter: "Now 
had the town at this particular time voted to turn over to the county 
the courthouse and the green for county purposes it would have been 
a profitable investment. The only accommodation offered by a court- 
house in Bridgeport was to the Bridgeport attorneys. The town had, 
in one of its generous moods, as in the case of the building of the 
Housatonic Railroad, bonded itself heavily to build a courthouse 
which, it was claimed by the attorneys of that day and our local states- 
men, would accommodate the courts for all time, and the building was 
constructed that it might be a monument of beauty and convenience 
for centuries to come. It was a little out of town at the time, but the 
more far-seeing of the statesmen believed that the city would in time 
grow out to it, and in the meantime the quietude of the situation would 
be of advantage to the courts while in session. But it only required a 
quarter of a century to have the coimty courts expand and the legal 
fraternity to follow suit to the extent that the courthouse was con- 
sidered to be inadequate to afford the accommodations demanded, and 
in 1886 the aforesaid attorneys were pressing the matter of building 
new additions to it." 



On February 6, 1886, another special town meeting was held. 
This meeting was to consider the appointment of an agent "to procure 
and convey to the county a suitable site for a courthouse, including 
the present courthouse and the land belonging to the town on the east 
side thereof, if deemed advisable." 

D. B. Lockwood offered a resolution embodying facts which were 
not accepted, whereupon he withdrew the same and offered another 
which was adopted. This follows: 

"Resolved, That if the County of Fairfield will release to the 
Town of Bridgeport all its right, title and interest in the present 
courthouse, the Town of Bridgeport, by its town agent, who is hereby 
authorized so to do, will convey by a proper deed of conveyance to the 
County of Fairfield the lot belonging to the Town of Bridgeport 
lying east of the present courthouse for the purpose of having erected 
thereon by the county commissioners a court house of suitable dimen- 
sions to meet the wants of the county ; or, in case the county commis- 
sioners should decide upon some other location in said Bridgeport, the 
town will purchase the interest of said county in the present court- 
house at a fair valuation." 

At a special meeting held for road purposes on February 26, 
1886, D. M. Read offered the following, which was adopted: 

"Whereas, An attempt is being made in the General Assembly 
_^of this state to remove the county seat from Bridgeport to Norwalk, 
and March 3, 1886, has been fixed as a day for a hearing upon the 
matter before the committee of the General Assembly on new counties 
and county seats at Hartford; and 

"Whereas, Bridgeport by reason of its location, population, grand 
list and business it furnishes to the courts, is the proper and most 
suitable location for the county seat and no good reason exists for 
the proposed change to Nonvalk ; therefore 

"Resolved, That the 1st Selectman of the Town of Bridgeport 
be and he is hereby directed and empowered to use all proper means 
to protect the interests of this town in the matter of the bill now 
pending before said committee of the General Assembly proposing 
to change the county seat of the County of Fairfield from the Town 
of Bridgeport to the Town of Norwalk, and to employ such assistance 
at the expense of the town as he may deem necessan,' and proper to 
prevent such change." 

At a city meeting of March 1, 1886, Alderman Klein presented 
similar resolutions, which were adopted. The mayor appointed such 
attorneys as A. B. Beers, Curtis Thompson, D. Davenport and J. B. 



Klein, also a committee of citizens composed of W. H. Noble, Jarratt 
Morford, E. W. Marsh, P. W. Wren, J. N. Near, P. H. Skidmore, 
Jr., T. L. Watson, J. L. Harlem, F. M. Wilson, W. F. Pinkham, B, 
Keating, W. H. Rockwell, F. Sailer, C. A. Mooney, J. D. Frary, 
William Greisinger, C. Fones, W. H. Stevenson, R. H. Shannon, 
Albert Wintter and John Sexton to help to defeat the Norwalk 

Again quoting from Franklin Sherwood, historian: "This 
whereas and resolution was allright as far as it went. Bridgeport had 
built one courthouse at its own expense to accommodate the 'court 
and its attorneys and had offered to present to it a new site on which 
to erect a new courthouse to suit itself. If the other towns in the 
county, now that the courts and attorneys were ambitious for more 
elegant and modernized quarters, took advantage of Bridgeport's 
weakness to relieve themselves of the expense which would be entailed 
upon them, should the county be called upon to build a new court- 
house, by threatening to remove the county seat from Bridgeport, they 
were not to be blamed. They understood full well that it only required 
a petition to the General Assembly for a change to bring Bridgeport 
to terms and thus relieve the rest of the county from any of the 
expense. The petition of Norwalk did the business and Bridgeport 
at once responded, as it was expected and designed that she should 
do." A. B. Beers followed the Read resolution (mentioned in pre- 
ceding paragraphs) with another set of resolutions as follows: 

"Resolved, That the Town of Bridgeport is in favor of making 
an appropriation for such sum as may be necessary for the purpose of 
erecting a suitable county courthouse at said Bridgeport. 

"Resolved, That the selectmen of the town are hereby requested 
to call a special meeting inimediately for the purpose of making an 
appropriation for such purpose and the transaction of any and all 
business necessary and proper to carry this resolution into effect and 
to prevent the removal of the county seat from Bridgeport." These 
resolutions were forthwith adopted. 

Frankly, Bridgeport was shaking in her shoes. The town and 
city had grown rapidly ; her business, her population and her interests 
were superior to any other place in the county; consequently, the 
thought of losing the comity seat to Norwalk and with it all her 
advantages, brought the citizens of Bridgeport to their feet as a 
body. It is to be readily believed that most any sum would have 
been appropriated, one far greater than that which eventually was 



A special town meeting was called for and held March 3d. "For 
the purpose of making a suitable appropriation and provision for a 
site and the erection thereon of a courthouse at Bridgeport suitable 
for the wants of the county and to authorize the selectmen of tlie town 
to borrow such a sum of money in behalf of the town and upon its 
credit at a rate of interest not to exceed 4^^, as may be decided by 
said meeting to be necessary and proper for the purpose specified. 
Also to appoint a committee to act with the county commissioners on 
the location of said lot and the erection of the courthouse. * * * 
Also to ratify and confirm the town meeting of February 26, 1886, 
relative to the appointment of the first selectman to oppose the removal 
of the courthouse from Bridgeport." 

The action of the previous meeting was not legal, because it was 
not called for the purpose on which it took action. 

A. B. Beers opened the meeting with the following, which was 

"Resolved, That tlie sum of $150,000 be and the same is hereby 
appropriated to be expended in erecting a county courthouse within 
the Town of Bridgeport. 

"Resolved, That the selectmen are hereby authorized to borrow 
said sum of $150,000 in behalf of this town and upon its credit at a 
rate of interest not to exceed 41% per annum for the purpose above 

"Resolved, That Hon, Sidney B. Beardsley, Hon. Nathaniel 
Wheeler, E. F. Strong, P. T. Barnum, S. B. Sumner, with the county 
conmiissioners of Fairfield County, be and they are appointed a com- 
mittee with full power and authority to determine upon a site for said 
county courthouse and to procure plans for and superintend the 
construction of the same." 

Another resolution was presented, naming a committee of sixty 
men who should go to Hartford and oppose the bill then pending 
before the General Assembly.. 

The committee appointed selected a site on Golden Hill known as 
the Jacob Kiefer property. John Stevenson offered resolutions stat- 
ing that he favored buying the property, hut thought it an injustice. 
and that the committee should be dismissed and a new one appointed. 
D. B. Lockwood moved that the resolutions offered by Stevenson be 
indefinitely postponed, which was done. At a special meeting held 
March 5, 1888, E. F. Strong offered resolutions accepting and ratify- 
ing the act of the General Assembly at its January session of 1888, 
authorizing the town to issue bonds; authorizing W. E. Seeley, D. N. 



Morgan and Frederick Ilurd to act as agents of the town in pledging 
credit for the bonds to the amount of $150,000, also to sell them. 

This closed the business matters of any importance preceding the 
erection of the courthouse. Mr. Kiefer's house on Golden Hill was 
moved to the rear, facing on Chapel Sti-eet, and on the site cleared 
the present magnificent courthouse was duly erected. On July 28, 
1886, the design of AVarren R. BrJggs, architect, was chosen in com- 
petition and the cornerstone was laid June 24, 1887. The structure 
was completed and first occupied in 1888. 

Closely connected with the history of the Town of Bridgeport is 
the story of the consolidation of Bridgeport City and the Town of 
Bridgeport for governmental purposes. This is related in the follow- 
ing chapter on the City of Bridgeport, also the story of the annexation 
of West Stratford to the City of Bridgeport. 

Digitized byGOOgle 




For a few years prior to 1886 the borough government of Bridge- 
port had been unsatisfactory. The people had reached the decision 
that this form of government was insufficient in many ways and they 
desired the larger privileges of self-government. The borough char- 
ter had been a copy of the charters of several other cities in the state 
which were granted by the General Assembly in 1784 and the amend- 
ments which were commonly added to them were made applicable to 
all cities alike. The authorities of Bridgeport assumed that these 
amendments would apply to the Borough of Bridgeport as well as thej' 
did to the cities such as New Haven and New London and accord- 
.ingly adopted them. The freemen for many years did not question the 
legality of the proceedings on the part of the warden and burgesses. 
but finally came to the realization that such was not strictly accord- 
ing to law and that the borough government was too limited for their 
needs. Thus began the agitation for city government. 

The first meeting of the borough to discuss the proposition of a 
city charter was held at the high school on State Street on April 8, 
1836, at which time a committee of seven was appointed, composed 
of Stephen Lounsbury, Samuel Simons, Smith Tweedy, Fitch 
Wheeler, William H. Noble, Joseph Thompson and Charles DeFor- 
est. This committee was instructed to mark ofi' the proper limits nf 
the city and report at a future meeting. They were also empowered 
to call a meeting of all the persons residing within the limits which 
they should name, in order that the opinion of all could be learned. 



This meeting adjourned to April 22d and then the committee made 
its report, which was accepted by the people. 

There was another town meeting called for May 5th, to take into 
consideration the matter of extending the limits of the borough and 
securing an act of incorporation for city privileges. The petition which 
the committee prepared for presentation to the General Assembly, 
then in session, was duly approved by that body. The General As- 
sembly at its May session passed a new act incorporating the City of 
Bridgeport, the same to take eflfect October 8, 1886, following. Under 
this charter "all freemen of the state, inhabitants of said Town of 
Bridgeport and dwelling and inhabiting within that part of the Town 
of Bridgeport bounded east, south and west by the boundary lines of 
said town, and on the north by a line running from the center of the 
crossing of the Fairfield line with the center of the old 'Post Road' 
(now North Avenue), along the center of said road to the center of 
its crossing with the Newtown Turnpike (now Main Street) ; thence 
in a straight line to the center of the Berkshire Road (now North 
Washington Avenue) in front of the dwelling house of Charles H. 
Wekelee ; thence along the center of said road and bridge and a road 
running easterly therefrom to the center of said street in front of 
the Point Burying Ground; thence east to the Stratford line," were 
"ordained, constituted and declared to be, from time to time and for 
ever hereafter, one body corporate and politic by the name of tlie 
Mayor, Aldermen, Common Council and Freemen of the City of 
Bridgeport." , 

This made the area of the new city larger than the borough had 
been. The latter did not reach the Line Road, or Park Avenue, arid ^ 
the whole of the southwest portion of the town was outside of its 
limits, while its northerly line only extended to Washington Avenue, 
from a few rods west of Courtland Street, and crossing Main Street 
near Meadow Street, to the harbor. The new city lines followed tht: 
town line, or Park Avenue, to North Avenue, and embraced what 
was afterwards known as East Bridgeport. 

According to the provisions of the charter it was necessary for the 
citizens to hold the first meeting at the high school, which occupied a 
site near what is now 200 State Street, on the first Monday of Octo- 
ber, 1836, at 9 o'clock in the morning, for the choice of a mayor, 
aldermen, common council, clerk, treasurer and sheriflFs for the city. 
The senior justice of peace residing within the city was to preside 
until the mayor and aldermen were chosen. The official record of the 
first meeting of the electors of the city is as follows : 




"This being" the day appointed by the Charter of the City of 
Bridgeport for organizing the City Government, a meeting for that 
purpose was duly warned and holden according to the provisions of 
said Charter at the High Schoolhouse, in said city, on the first Mon- 
day of October, A. D. 1836, being the 8d day of said month. The 
meeting was opened at 10 minutes before 10 o'clock, A. M., by Isaac 
Sherman, Esq., he being the oldest Justice of the Peace present, and 
after a short recess the citizens were called upon to bring in their bal- 
lots for a City Clerk. The presiding justice was assisted in counting 
the votes by Alanson Hamlin, Fitch Wheeler, JosJah Hubbell, Wil- 
liam B. Dyer and Mark Moore, Esqrs., justices of the peace. On 
counting the votes for Clerk it was found that Ira Sherman had a 
majority of votes and he was declared to be chosen, and took the oath 
of office prescribed by the Charter, which was administered to him 
by the presiding Justice. The meeting was then called upon to bring 
in their ballots for all the other officers required by the charter. The 
poll was closed at 4 o'clock, P. M., and on counting the votes it ap- 
peared the following persons were chosen to the several offices annexed 
to their names respectively : 

"For Mayor, Isaac Sherman, Jr. 

"For Aldermen: Charles Bostwick, 1. 
Enoch Foote, 2. 
Ira Peck, 3. 
Stephen Lounsbury, 4. 

"For Common Council Men: Charles B. Hubbell, Edwin Por- 
ter, James Allen, David Hubbell, 8d, Titus C. Mather, Daniel Hatch, 
Jr., Seth B. Jones, Joseph Mott, Abijah Hawley, Charles Hill, Joel 
Thorp, Richard Hyde, George Bobbins, James Betts, David P. Mi- 
nott, Sylvanus Sterling, Sliles M. Middlebrook, Roswell Nichols, Ste- 
phen Tomlinson, Eliada Baldwin. 

"For Treasurer, Joseph Thompson. 

"For Sheriff's, Samuel Hodges, John L. Fitch. 

"At half past 10 o'clock, P. M., the counting finished, the presid- 
ing justice declared the aforesaid officers to be duly chosen, and the 
oath of office provided by the Charter was administered to the Mayor, 
and to Richard Hyde, Edwin Porter and Joseph Mott as Council 
Men. The City Government was then declared to be didy organized. 
After which, the Mayor presiding, a motion was made and passed that 
the first meeting of the Court of Common Council meet at the High 



Schoolhouse, in said city, on Wednesday, 5th of October, 1886, at 7 
o'clock, P. M. 

"A motion made and passed that this ftieeting be adjourned with- 
out delay. 


"Ira Sherman, City Clerk." 

The next series of meetings were taken up with the appointment of 
special city officers and arranging for the proper handling of the city 
business, which was a new departure for the citizens. 

The meeting of the 19th of October, same year, was practically 
the first to be held when real city matters were discussed. At this 
meeting the council ordered that the sidewalks on the north side of 
Wall Street in front of the land and buildings known as the "brick 
block" be raised and altered. These blocks stood between what is 
now Middle and Wall streets. Several other walks were provided 
for at this meeting. 

This item of business, trivial as it may seem, may properly be 
termed the first official business of the City of Bridgeport. 

The walks, such as they were, consisting of gravel, were the first 
ofllcial expense of the new city. Permit Mr. Sherwood to east his own 
criticism of this work: "It may not be out of place to remark that 
these crosswalks were conveniently near either the residence or place 
of business of the members of the Court of Common Council, to whom 
the duty of constructing them was given. This coincidence between a " 
public improvement and the private convenience or interest of mem- 
bers has continued down to the present day." Whether or not Mr. 
Sherwood is right in his estimation of the public concern of the city 
ofl^cials and other persons in whom the city places their interests is 
a matter of conjecture, and clearly not within the province of the 
historian. It may be said, however, that in the job of graveling the 
sidewalks of the city, the council did a thorough job while it was busy. 
The first thing was to divide the city into three sections and appoint 
as many committees to examine the walks and report as to the needs 
of each. It is to be presumed that these committees, from some reason 
or other, did not make a report, for at the meeting of November 14th it 
was "Ordered by the Court, That the order at a former Court for grav- 
eling the whole of the sidewalks, commencing from the north side cor- 
ner of Main and State streets to the west line of said State Street, be 
rescinded." It was also ordered that the Court do nothing in regard 



to sidewalks unless by "petition in writing." This expense was un- 
doubtedly considered useless, and so it was at that time. The side- 
walks were but footpaths between the trees and travel over them 
was very limited. There were not over five houses between Court- 
land Street and Park Avenue on the north side and only two on the 
.south side. 


On May 6, 1889, at a special meeting of the council, Alderman 
Wheeler introduced the following preamble and resolution which were 
passed : 

"Whereas, A small number of inhabitants on the east side of the 
harbor, for the purpose of being relieved from bearing their just pro- 
portion of the small expense of the government of this city while they 
retained all the advantages of their proximity to the same, have peti- 
tioned the Legislature^ at their present session to be set ofF from tht 
city, therefore 

"Resolved, That His Honor, the Mayor, be requested to prepare 
a remonstrance against the prayer of the petitioners, which, after his 
signature, he presented to the Aldermen, Common Councilmen and 
Freemen of this city for their signatures and forwarded to the Repre- 
sentative of the Town of Bridgeport, that he may present the same 
to the Honorable General Assembly for their consideration." 

Notwithstanding the remonstrance of the city government the 
General Assembly at its May session passed "An act altering the 
limits of the City of Bridgeport." It stated "That from and after the 
passage. of this Act all that part of the. present City of Bridgeport 
lying and being upon the easterly side of Pequonnock River and 
Bridgeport Harbor shall cease to be and no longer form a part of the 
City of Bridgeport, and that the inhabitants dwelUng within said part 
shall thereafter be released from and no longer subject to the govern- 
ment, law or regulation of said city." 


At a town meeting held November 28, 1888, which meeting was 
called for the purpose of considering the remodeling of the old court 
house, a special committee was appointed to investigate the same and 
also "to prepare a plan for the consolidation of the town and city gov- 



ernments and to make a detailed report to an adjourned town meet- 

The committee appointed consisted of N. Wheeler, Curtis Thomp- 
son, Civilion Fones, Daniel Davenport, James Staples, D. B. Lock- 
wood and Thomas Reilly. 

On December 1st this committee reported "That they were unani- 
mously of the opinion that a consolidation of the town and city govern- 
ments is desirable, that the same can be accomplished without injustice 
or inconvenience to the inhabitants of any portion of the town or city, 
and that a . more simple, efficient and economical administration of 
our municipal affairs will result therefrom." They recommended 
that both the town and the city take the proper steps to present the 
case before the next session of the General Assembly and to secure 
from that body the necessary authority to consolidate. A partial list 
of their recommendations follows : 

1st. The limits of the town and city should be made the same and 
the privileges of voting and holding office be given to all those entitled 
to vote and hold office within the present town limits. 

2d. The 2d, 4th and 5th wards of the city should be extended so 
as to include within their respective limits the contiguous territory in 
the town not now included in any ward. 

3d. A division of the city should be made into two districts, the 
first of which should be of the same extent as the city as now consti- 
tuted, and the second of which should contain the first district ^nd all 
the rest of the territory of the town. 

4th. The city government should retain all its present powers so 
far as the first district is concerned, and the expenses resulting from 
their exercise as well as the interest and principal of the present city 
debt should be met by taxation levied upon the property and inhabi- 
■ tants in the first district. 

5th. All the powers now vested in the town government for mu- 
nicipal purposes by statute should be transferred to the city govern- 
ment in appropriate departments and ail the property and obligatimis 
of the town should be transferred to the city and the expense should 
be met by taxation levied upon the inhabitants and property of both 

6th. The criminal jurisdiction of the City Court should be ex- 
tended to the town limits and made exclusive, and the power to make 
complaints for criminal offenses should be vested exclusively in the 
prosecuting attorney of the city. 

The committee concluded its report by saying "That the above 



design of consolidation disturbs no existing burden, right or obliga- 
tion of any inhabitant of either town or city, nor provides any altera- 
tion of the same, but such burdens, rights and- obligations shall re- 
main as at present with the exception only that the city shall hereafter 
manage in addition to its own aflfairs those of the town; that the powers 
of government shall be administered by one source instead of two." 

Resolutions naming a committee of three (Cmtis Thompson, Ber- 
nard Keating and James W. Beardsley) were passed, the committee 
to take charge of the petition to the General- Assembly and to attend 
to all matters pertaining to the consolidation question. 

On December 10, 1888, a city meeting had been held, when busi- 
ness favoring consolidation was transacted, the proceedings being 
almost identical with the town meetings. 

An act amending the charter of the City of Bridgeport and con- 
solidating the governments of the town and city was duly passed by 
the General Assembly and approved March 26, 1889. The act of 
consolidation itself varied a little from the plan drawn up at the town 
meeting, in that it designated as the first district the whole town and 
the city proper as the second district. At this time the population 
of Bridgeport was about 48,000. 


The clerk of the Borough of West Stratford addressed a commu- 
nication to the City Council of Bridgeport, which was read at the 
meeting of the latter body on December 10, 1888. This statement 
follows : 

"At a meeting of the Court of Burgesses of West Stratford 
held Wednesday, December 5th, the following was adopted: 

" 'Resolved, That his Honor the Warden be and is hereby directed 
to appoint a committee of five citizens and taxpayers of the Borough 
of West Stratford to confer with a like committee from the City of 
Bridgeport, to be appointed in such manner as the Common Council 
of said city may designate, for the purpose of preparing a plan rela- 
tive to the proposed annexation of said Borough of West Stratford to 
said City of Bridgeport.' 

"The warden of the Borough of West Stratford has appointed 
the following committee. V. R. C. Giddings, Samuel O. Canfield, 
Leonard Wells, Fred V. D. Bogart and Benjamin B. Lewis." 

At the meeting of January 7, 1889, the mayor of Bridgeport made 
the announcement that he had appointed as such committee of confer- 



. ence Alderman Dutlon, Councilman Hughes, D. M. Read, A. B. 
Beers and B. Keating. The committee presented their report at the 
same meeting and outlined the following plan of action: 

"That the portion of the Town of Stratford included within the 
territorial limits of the second voting district in said town, and all that 
portion of said town lying westerly of a line drawn from the mouth 
of Bruce's Brook, so called, southerly to the waters of Long Island 
Sound, be annexed to said Town of Bridgeport, and so much of the 
same as is included within the territorial limits of the Borough of West 
Stratford, together with that portion of the Town of Stratford lying 
westerly of said line from the mouth of Bruce's Brook, so called, 
drawn southerly to said waters of Long Island Sound, to be annexed 
to the City of Bridgeport. The territory so annexed to be and consti- 
tute one ward, provided that the same can be done without changing 
the present non-partisan character of the political division of the City 
of Bridgeport. 

"Upon investigation it is found that the ratio of indebtedness of 
said Bridgeport and town, borough and school debt of the territory 
to be annexed to the amount of their respective grand lists are very 
nearly the same. 

"They therefore recommended that the indebtedness of the terri- 
torj' it was proposed to be annexed be assumed by the Town and City 
of Bridgeport and the annexed territory placed upon the same footing 
in regard to taxation and all other city and town matters as the terri- 
tory of the city and town of which it was to become a part." 

"They further recommended that the mayor be authorized to ap- 
point a committee to act in behalf of the City of Bridgeport with a 
similar committee to be appointed by the Borough of West Stratford 
in preparing and presenting to the General Assembly a bill embody- 
ing the necessary legislation to effect such annexation and to secure 
its passage." 

This committee report was accepted and filed. 

However, there arose opposition almost immediately. Alderman 
Gabriel offered resolutions opposing the annexation of the borough 
to the city as a separate and distinct ward of the same. On February 
4, 1889, Gabriel again came forward with a set of resolutions oppos- 
ing "any annexation scheme which promises to the people of West 
Stratford the expenditure of any more money for public improve- 
ments within the limits of the borough than is raised on the grand list 
of the borough." The resolutions also pleaded for a proviso in any act 
of annexation the clause that before annexation could go into opera- 



tion the people should have a chance to ratify the same by ballot. 
However, this did not accord with the ideas of the West Stratford 
people, nor was it in accord with past actions of Bridgeport along the 
same lines, i. e., the annexation of part of Fairfield in 1870. The Bor- 
ough of West Stratford wished to add value to their property by 
becoming part of Bridgeport, and also to gain the direct advantage 
of municipal improvements from city government. - The matter was 
finally compromised. 

The Annexation Act, which was approved April 18, 1889, stated 
that "This Act shall be a public act and shall take effect* on the 80th 
day of April, 1889; provided, however, that the same shall not take 
effect unless approved and accepted by a majority vote of the electors 
residing within the territory hereby to be annexed present and voting at 
a meeting duly warned as a special meeting, and warned in said Bor- 
ough of West Stratford, to be held on the 26th day of April, .1889, for 
the purpose of voting upon the acceptance hereof, at which meeting 
the polls shall be opened at 12 o'clock noon, and shall be closed at 7 
o'clock in the afternoon on said day. • • • And those persons' 
only shall be permitted to vote who reside within the territory to be 
annexed as aforesaid and who are registered as electors on the registry 
list. * * * and if a majority of ballots cast as aforesaid, shall be 
in favor of said acceptance, then this act shall go into effect as hereto- 
fore provided on the 80th day of April, 1889; otherwise it shall not go 
into effect." 

No such provision was made for the electors of Bridgeport to say 
whether or not the annexation should be made. The vote was taken in 
West Stratford, resulting in 344 yeas and only 23 nays. 

The territory annexed accordingly was, in the language of the act 
itself, "All that portion of the Town of Stratford lying west of a line 
commencing at a point on the boundary between the Towns of Trum- 
buU and said Stratford where the easterly boundary of West Strat- 
ford school district of Stratford intersects said line; thence southerly 
along said school district line, the same being the center of the old 
highway, to where the same intersects the center line of the Broad 
Bridge road, so called; thence south seven degrees west to the point 
where Brace's Brook intersects the line of the Old Mill road or street, 
so called; thence southerly along the center of said brook and of Hol- 
lister's Mill Pond, so called, to the center of water wier on HoUister's 
]MilI Dam ; thence southeasterly along the face of said dam to its east- 
em termination; thence south twenty-four degrees to the southerly 
boundary of the Town of Stratford," 



All this territory was annexed to the first district of Bridgeport 
under the consolidation act, which had just gone into effect. "All 
that portion of the territory hereby annexed to the Town and City 
of Bridgeport lying southerly and westerly of a line drawn three hun- 
dred feet north and parallel with the north line of Old Mill road or 
jtreet from the easterly boundary line of the City of Bridgeport to a 
point three hundred feet easterly of the east line of Mill Hill Avenue; 
thence southerly three hundred feet easterly of line of Mill Hill Ave- 
nue and of Union Avenue and parallel therewith to a point three hun- 
dred feet north of the northerly line of Connecticut Avenue as the 
same is laid out; thence three himdred feet north and parallel with the 
northerly line of said Connecticut Avenue to Bruce's Brook; thence 
southerly along the center of said brook" along the line between Strat- 
ford and Bridgeport to the same, was incorporated in the second 
district. All the territory lying north of the N. Y., N. H. & H. R. R. 
tracks was annexed to the fifth ward of the city and that south of said 
tracks to the sixth ward." 


The first mayor of the City of Bridgeport was Isaac Sherman, Jr. 
He was the son of Capt. Sterling Sherman, a master of a coasting 
vessel, later a partner of Daniel Sterling and Isaac Sherman. Isaac 
Sherman, Jr., was bom in November, 1800; his father's residence 
stood on the northeast corner of Fairfield and Park avenues. As a 
youngster he learned the saddlery trade and continued in the business 
until 1887, when he met financial reverses. Isaac Sherman, Jr., was 
a whig in politics and was appointed postmaster of Bridgeport by 
President Harrison. After serving here he went to St. Louis, again 
taking up the saddlery business, and stayed there until the cholera epi- 
demic broke out in that city in 1 849. He started for Bridgeport imme- 
diately, but by the time he had reached Freeport, III., the disease 
struck him and he died May 22d of that year. He was buried in Moun- 
tain Grove Cemetery. A portrait of Mayor Sherman hangs in the 
City Council Chamber. 

Following are the mayors of the City of Bridgeport in the order 
of their service : 

1 Isaac Sherman, Jr 1836 

2 Daniel Sterling '. 1887 

8 Alanson Hamlin 1888 



firat mayur of Bri<lf.'P|mrt. Father i.f I). ! 
Isaac L. nml amitjirniulfiitliiT of I,Pster 
Aslitubiila. (Iliio. 





i Charles Foote 1839 

5 Charles Bostwick 1840 

6 William P. Burrall Part 1841 

7 James C. Loomis 1841-44 

8 Henry K. Harral 1845-46 

9 Sherwood Sterling 1847-48 

10 Henry K. Harral 1849-50 

11 John Brooks, Jr 1851 

12 Henry K. Harral 1852 

18 Charles B, Hubbell 1858 

14 John Brooks, Jr 1854 

15 Philo C. Calhoun 1855-57 

16 Silas C. Booth 1858-59 

17 Daniel H. Sterling 1860-62 

18 Clapp Spooner 1868 

19 Jarratt Morford 1864 

20 Stilhnan S. Clapp 1865 

21 Monson Hawley 1866-67 

22 Jarratt Morford 1868 

23 Monson Hawley , 1869 

24 Jarratt Morford . ; 1870 

25 Epaphras B. Goodsell . . 1871-78 

26 Robert T. Clarke 1874 

27 Phineas T. Bamum 1875 

28 Jarratt Morford 1876-77 

29 Robert E. DeForest 1878 

30 John L. Wessels '. 1879 

31 Daniel N. Morgan 1880 

82 John L. Wessels 1881 

33 Carlos Curtis 1882 

34 John L. Wessels 1888 

35 Daniel N. Morgan 1884 

36 Henry H. Pyle 1885 

37 Civilion Fones 1886-87 

38 Patrick Coughlin 1888 

30 Robert E. DeForest 1889-90 

40 William H. Marigold 1891-92 

41 Walter B. Bostwick 1898-94 

42 Frank E. Clark 1895-96 

43 Thomas P. Taylor 1897-98 

44 Hugh Stirling 1899-1901 



45 Denis Mulvihill 1902-05 

46 Marcus L. Reynolds 1906-07 

47 Henry Lee 1908-09 

48 Edward T. Buckingham 1910-12 

49 Clifford B. Wilson 1912-16 

One of the first official acts of the city government of Bridgeport 
was the approval of a by-law relating to streets and highways within 
the city, the same having principally to do with obstructing the pub- 
lic highway in any manner. The first street commissioner appointed 
was. David Nichols, but his duties were largely of a police nature. 
The coimcil still held executive powers in this direction. 

The only street laid out during the first year of the city's exist- 
ence was a street connecting Main Street with the "East Bridgeport 
Bridge," which was later known as the East Washington Avenue 
Bridge. On June 6th the committee in charge of laying out the 
street made their report, stating that they had laid out the highway 
through the lands of Daniel Sterling, Elijah Burritt and Ira Sher- 
man. Long and arduous proceedings were bad in court later between 
Sterling and the city, the details of which are too cumbersome and of 
insufficient prominence to merit description here. 

In 1841 Harrison Street came into existence. Many efforts had 
been made before to lay out a street along this route, but difficulties 
prevented the accomplishment every time. The deed, dated March 
15, 1841, from Philo Kurd, George Keeler and Henry Dutton to 
the city describes the street thusly: "A certain piece of land situated 
in said City of Bridgeport, bounded north on Golden Hill Street, 
east on a line commencing at the northwest comer of a lot now owned 
by Henry Dutton and formerly owned by Phillip A. Cannon at said 
Golden Hill Street (now Washington Avenue) and running south- 
erly to the western line of said Dutton 's lot to the southeast boundarj- 
thereof, thence in the same direction cutting said Dutton's house 
lot to Beaver Street, southerly on Beaver Street, westerly by a line 
parallel to said eastern hne and through the whole distance two and 
one-half rods therefrom, from Beaver Street to said Golden Hill 
Street, the same being hereby laid out as a public highway by the 
name of Harrison Street." The name was given in honor of Wil- 
liam H. Harrison, who had just been inaugurated president. 

On May 2, 1842, John C. Shelton petitioned for the "layout of 



a public highway from Main Street to Noble's Bridge." This was 
evidently what is now East Washington Avenue, as the bridge men- 
tioned was afterwards known as the East Washington Avenue 
Bridge. In September the road was accepted. 

In 1844 the first part of South Avenue opened as a highway was 
accepted, this strip being between Broad and Lafayette streets. In 
September, 1848, Cannon Street between Broad and Courtland was 
made into a public street. This had hitherto been a public thorough- 
fare and, building had begun on it, but not until 1848 did it became 
a bona fide highway. In 1852 quite a number of new streets were 
laid out and given the names of West Street, South Fifth, South 
Second, South Third, Little South Third, South Fifth, Sixth, Sev- 
enth, Eighth, Ninth, also several street extensions accompanied this 
work. However, these streets were never finished, principally be- 
cause the mayor refused to approve of them. Had they been laid 
out their location would have prevented any future Seaside Park. 

During these years the streets in East Bridgeport also came in 
for their share of attention. At a meeting of the council November 
14, 1838, it was ordered that the streets of East Bridgeport be named 
as follows : 

The east highway running from tide water north toward Old 
Mill shall be called East Street. 

The next highway running from tide water toward Old Mill shall 
be called West Street. 

The street running from Bridgeport Bridge to Benjamin's 
Bridge shall be called East Main Street. 

The street running from East Street, crossing West Street to the 
barn of Benjamin Pilgrim and from thence south to tide water shall 
be called Sherwood Street. 

The street between the house of Jabez Humphreys and James H. 
Aloore, running east imder the bank to Benjamin's Bridge, shall be 
called Benjamin Street. 

The street running from Titus C. Mather's wharf east under the 
bank to East Street shall be called South Street. 

According to the above East Street was what was later Pembroke 
Street, West Street later East Main Street and East Main Street 
Stratford Avenue. The other streets were below Stratford Avenue 
in the order named. 

In 1854 Madison Avenue was laid out by the city, the petition 
for the same having been signed by Thomas P. Taylor and others 
and asking for a new road to intersect Harral Street. 



On June 6, 1859, the first step was taken toward placing street 
signs in the city. At the council meeting upon this date it was 
"Resolved, That the street commissioner be and is hereby directed to 
procure suitable sign boards, with the names of the streets painted ' 
plainly thereon, and place the same upon the corners of the streets 
of the city. Also have painted upon the glass of the lamps the names 
of the streets upon the comers of which they are located." J. B. 
Ayres got the contract for erecting the signs at 15 cents each. 

Mayor Booth in his annual report of September 3, 1859, said: 
"Our city at the present time shows unmistakable signs of growth 
and prosperity in the future. A large number of first class dwell- 
ings are being erected in the city and suburbs. Several large, new 
factories have been established in and about our city, bringing with 
them hundreds of workmen. We now require from one hundred to 
two hundred dwellings to accommodate them. The growth of Bridge- 
port for the next ten years will be more in proportion than it has 
been since we were called a city and it is our duty to do all that we 
can to aid the same by laying out and opening streets. The city below 
State Street should be laid out and opened at once." 

A special committee was appointed, to whom was referred the 
suggestion of the mayor, and who reported on September 13th "in 
favor of laying out all that part of the city west of Main Street and 
north of Washington Avenue, and all that part of the city south of 
South Avenue, into squares and opening and establishing grades of 
streets." This council did nothing more, but when the new adminis- 
tration came in and with it Street Commissioner Charles G. Brisco, 
things changed. One authority is responsible for the statement that 
Mr. Brisco has "the distinction of being the first street commissioner 
to make this department a source of revenue instead of expense to 
the city. The repairs and improvements of the streets of the city 
were vested in the town on the same footing as the other public high- 
ways. The town levied an annual tax for the care and repair of its 
highways and bridges, and its territory was divided inta highway 
districts, the same being placed in charge of officials known as high- 
way surveyors. The selectmen divided the highway tax collected in 
each district between these highway surveyors, who disbursed it in 
making such repairs on the hi^ways in their respective districts as 
the safety of public travel required. The City of Bridgeport was 
a highway district, and as has been stated, that portion of the high- 
way tax levied by the town on the grand list was paid into the city- 
treasury as a highway fund for the repair of the streets, and the com- 



mittee on streets and sidewalks was made into a committee of high- 
way surveyors. The street commissioner's duty was the keeping 
of the streets in a cleanly manner and to execute such orders as the 
common council should give to him." 

At this time the street commissioner, for the first time, learned 
how to make the sale of ruhbish and refuse from the streets balance 
with the cost of hired labor. This was a very important step in the 
betterment of the municipality, even though in future years the work 
was not so successful. 

In 1866 South Street was changed to Stratford Avenue and 
Church Street became Nichols Street. A short time later certain 
streets in East Bridgeport were given the names of Maiden Lane, 
Pierpont Street, Hallam Street, Cullen Street, Commercial Street, 
Goodwin Street, Berkshire Street, North Avenue, Asylum Street. 
Also Washington Avenue in the east district was changed to East 
Washington Avenue, Pequonnock Street was changed to Maple 
Street, Church Street to Court Street, Sterling Street to James 
Street and Coleman Street to Wood Street. The latter did not con- 
tinue long, however, as the name Coleman was too significant. Some 
of the old landmark names which were changed in the early years 
caused disappointment later, for instance, in the case of King's High- 
way, or the Old Stage Road, which was changed to North Avenue. 

From this time on the street department of the city was con- 
tinually engaged in the laying out of new streets, planning others 
which failed to materialize, widening and extending those that existed, 
and attending to numerous other details which were incident to the 
laying out of the many new streets needed by the growing Bridge- 
port. A glance only is needed to the present day citizen to convince 
him that the streets of the city were well laid out and have been 
improved steadily through the years. The old lanes andavenues with 
their cherry tree borders and cobble stone gutters have disappeared 
before the march of progress which brought asphalt, brick, block and 
macadamized streets. The country dirt road has also disappeared 
from the vicinity, and in its place may be seen long strips of level 
pavement, polished to a glistening surface by the continual automo- 
bile traffic. 

Closely connected with the laying out of streets and naming them 
as public highways is the improvement made in paving. 



A special town meeting was held on September 18, 1859 "to take 
into consideration the propriety of McAdamizing Main Street, or 
repairing said street as the town may direct." At this time all care 
and repairs of the highways was vested in the town government 
excepting sidewalks, and the expense was paid by town taxation. 
The macadamizing of Main Street was the first street improvement 
that appears to have been attempted. Nothing definite was done at 
this time, but at a later meeting resolutions were made which were 
designed to give the control of the streets of the city, so far as their 
expense and improvement were concerned, to the council. The high- 
way tax laid by the town was to be divided in the proportion which 
each district paid, and that part levied on taxable property within 
the city limits was to be turned over to the city treasury to be expended 
on the streets of the city as ordered by its council. The part of Main 
Street to be improved was that between Beaver Street and Wash- 
ington Avenue. About the first of Januarj', 1860, action was taken 
whereby the city for the first time had full control of its streets, but 
without power to obligate the city for street improvements. By the 
end of the municipal year some work had been done on Main Street, 
but so many legal technicalities and other hindrances came up that 
little progress could be made. 

On October 5, 1868, the McNeil Brothers petitioned for the pav- 
ing of Water Street from South Avenue to the railroad depot. The 
matter was referred to a committee which later reported that such a 
pavement was sorely needed. They included in their investigations 
the Nicholson, Belgian, Russ, Cobble and Macadam pavements, 
favoring the first and last named. The new charter of the city, which 
went into effect the first of July that year had given to the city the 
care and repair of its streets, but there was no provision made by 
which any part of a street pavement could be assessed upon adjoining 
property owners. For this reason no further report was made dur- 
ing the municipal year. In 1870 the question of paving Water Street 
again came before the council, but again no definite action was taken. 
In May, 1871, the council once more discussed the subject and ascer- 
tained the prices of various kinds of pavement. Broadway stone 
pavement was found to cost $6 per square yard, Belgian pavement 
$4 to $4.50, Russ the same. Wood the same. Macadam $2 to $2.50, 
depending upon thickness. The council finally decided upon a type 
of pavement known as the Telford-Macadam, an improved macadam, 
and in 1872 the pavement was laid on Water Street from Wall to 
Bank Street. Over six thousand dollars was expended for stone crush- 



ers and steam rollers with which to accomplish the work. However, 
the task once completed it proved a total failure. The quality of 
stone used, which was inferior, the continuous excavations for sewer- 
age and repairs soon caused Water Street to be in as bad condition 
as before the pavement was laid. 

On April 15, 1872, several business firms on Water Street peti- 
tioned for another pavement on Water Street from Beaver Street 
to South Avenue, this time to be with Belgian or granite blocks. By 
the end of the year the pavement had been laid at a total cost of over 
fourteen thousand dollars. The material was known as the Telford 
pavement. In 1873 the same material was ordered for Main Street 
from State Street to Fairfield Avenue. 

On September 1, 1873, Lewis S. Blakeman petitioned for a cob- 
ble stone pavement on Franklin Street, from Main Street to Wash- 
ington Avenue. On December 5th the commissioners reported the 
completion of this work at a cost of about three hundred dollars. Bank 
Street was paved with cobble stones in 1877; this was the best pave- 
ment which had been laid in Bridgeport up until this time. By 1882 
stone block pavements were being laid on Main Street, showing that 
this type had superseded the old Telford-Macadam street surface, 
which under traffic had not stood the wear. Stone block pavements on 
Wall Street and Fairfield Avenue were also before the council. 
Pavement was also laid on Middle Street about this time. 

In 1886 the city adopted a policy of top dressing the streets of 
the city with trap rock, thus giving them an even surface. Asphalt 
streets first made their appearance in 1898, when this material was 
laid on Fairfield Avenue from Courtland to Park. The same year 
Main Street was similarly treated from Congress Street to East 
Washington Avenue. A pavement known as Warrenite has recently 
come into favor and many streets are being covered with this prepa- 
ration. Wooden blocks are frequently used upon the main streets, 
as they give excellent resistance to the wear and tear of traffic. 

Probably the first attempt at constructing a sewer in Bridgeport 
was made back in the old borough days, when some effort was made 
to carry water from the swamp, which covered a large part of the 
present first ward. The council at a meeting held May 6, 1839, passed 
a resolution to apply to the General Assembly for a public act con- 
ferring upon the city additional powers for draining lands. The 



health of the population here then was considered in danger on ac- 
count of the large amount of stagnant water which stood in the. 
swamp. Such an act was passed by the General Assembly. 

A committee was appointed "to report the practicability of drain- 
ing the low ground in the rear of Mott, Burr & Company's carriage 
manufactory." This carriage factory consisted of a wooden build- 
ing on the north side of State Street just west of Broad Street, 
extending in the rear toward John Street. A drain, simply a "blind 
ditdi," had been in existence for several years, following the natural 
water course which emptied into Baker's Pond. The swamp ground 
which had to be drained was bounded as follows: on the north by 
Beaver Street; on the east by Broad Street; on the south by State 
Street, and on the west by Courtland. ^o drain this area the old 
ditch was inadequate, consequently a new one was recommended. 
This was duly accomphshed, the new drain running easterly from 
the swamp, across Broad Street, through Bank Street crossing Water 
Street, and emptying into the harbor. 

On Mard) 27, 1854, the city council passed the following: 
"Ordered, That Aldermen Lounsbury and Tomlinson be a commit- 
tee to construct a sewer from the termination of a sewer near the new 
jail, through the lands of K. J. Staples, Main and Water streets, 
Stephen ' SilHman, the Atlantic Iron Works and the New York & 
New Haven Railroad Company to the harbor." This sewer was evi- 
dently designed to accommodate the new jail on Broad Street. Like 
many other matters, before the coimcil at this time, the order was 
changed back and forth and then laid on the table for a period. 

On August 14th Ira Gregory and others petitioned the council 
for the opening of the old drain or sewer and requested the call of 
a city meeting. This meeting took no action, but later a committee 
was appointed to make assessments upon land owners who would 
be benefited by the sewer. This committee was shortly afterward 
discharged for an unknown reason. On September 2.5th the council 
appointed D. H. Sterling, Charles Foote and T. P. White as a com- 
mittee "to assess benefits to proprietors of lands who are specially 
benefited in the construction of a sewer near the new jail through 
Baker's Pond, so called." This committee presented the following 
report on the 29th : 

"The committee who were appointed to assess benefits resulting 
from the construction of a sewer from near the new jail throu^ 
South Avenue to the harbor, reported that they do find the separate 



property owners along the line of said sewer to be benefited as fol- 

"Daskam & Beardsley, $15; Orrin Tuttle, $30; C. B. Middle- 
brook, $20; R. Tomlinson, $25; N. Y. & N. H. R. R., $50; Town 
of Bridgeport, $50; Atlantic Iron Works, $180; Stephen Silliman, 
$175; Ira Gregory, $25; George Everson, $30; E. J. Staples, $150; 
S. Lounsbury, $125; total, $875." 

This report was accepted by the council. 

This was the first public sewer constructed and also the first 
assessment upon property owners for a sewer. The jail was .undoubt- 
edly the cause of the construction of the sewer in the first place, 
consequently when the council started to collect the assessments from 
the property owners they found diflieulty immfediately. Not a lit- 
tle time was spent in getting a portion of the money which had been 

On May 2, 1859, a petition signed by a number of citizens was 
brought before the council asking for the construction of a sewer 
from Courtland Street through Cannon Street to Main, through 
Main to Beaver, and thence through Beaver Street to the harbor. 
On the 16th the council met again and decided to appropriate $2,000 
for the buildmg of this sewer. It was to be built of "cement and 
brick, egg shaped and 5 feet high, 8 feet wide in the clear to Broad 
Street, and from thence to Courtland Street to be of stone 4 feet high 
and 2I4 feet in width in the clear, the whole to be on a grade of 3 
inches to the 100 feet." 

By a vote of the council the resolution to appropriate the money 
and build the sewer was defeated by thirteen to eight. A committee 
was then appointed to investigate the laying of a sewer from the 
harbor to Courtland Street. "This committee was composed of two 
members who approved of a sewer being constructed forthwith, and 
three who had voted adversely. But it ought not to be construed 
that they were opposed to draining the swamp and affording relief 
to that section, but they were averse to saddling a heavy expense 
upon the city treasury. The subscription of $1,500 (which had been 
offered) in addition to the $2,000 appropriated by the city meet- 
ing would meet at the best but a little over one-half of the cost of 
construction. The remaining portion would have to be raised by an 
assessment on property specially benefited, and in levying assess- 
ments of this character at that time committees were more strict in 
conforming to the abstract justice of individual eases than in subse- 
quent years. It was not theoretically assumed that every foot of 



property was specially benefited in front of or through which a sewer 
passed. Neither was it believed that owners of land whidi naturally 
drained into the camp would be specially benefited by its beiiig 
promptly conducted to the harbor. Those who were specially bene- 
fited were those whose property lay in the swamp itself, and to sad- 
dle upon these this $3,000 or more would at that time have been 
considered an onerous burden." Nothing definite was done by the 

There were several petitions presented during the years 1862 
and ISOSLin relation to sewers. Outside of a surface drain at the foot 
of Bank Street nothing else was done. The expense was too great in 
the estimation of the citizens. 

On April 25, 1864, Charles S. Banks and others petitioned the 
council for leave "to build a sewer from Harrison Street to the har- 
bor through Beaver Street." This sewer fared better than its prede- 
cessors. It was constructed and was the second one in the city. 
Again the property owners who had been assessed refused to pay 
their dues, a fact which placed a great obstacle in the way of further 
sewer construction. A sewer in State Street from Water Street to 
the old drain west of Broad Street was proposed and ordered in 
1864, also petitions were made for sewers from the foot of Bank 
Street to the water, one in South Avenue, one in Wall Street from 
Main to the harbor, one from the foot of State Street up State to 
Broad Street, on Broad to John, up John to Courtland Street, one 
from the foot of Bank Street along Water Street to the State Street 
sewer, one on State to Division Street. All of these were authorized 
by the city council. 

In July, 1866, a sewer in Main Street from Beaver to Wall Street 
was proposed and ordered, also the assessments made. In this year 
also a sewer was constructed in Cannon Street. 

In this manner the building of sewers had its start in the City 
of Bridgeport. Many years were consumed in obtaining this start, 
owing to the depleted condition of the city treasury and the objec- 
tions of the citizens to assessments, but the rapid growth of the popu- 
lation soon necessitated the building of more and more sewers in 
order to safeguard the health of the people. The task once started, 
it became at once the most important business of the council. The 
number of sewers proposed mounted high, too high for description 
here, but the splendid sewerage system of the city at the present time, 
in both sanitarj' and storm types, tells the story of progress and 
work in this direction in plain words. 





Description of the early fire departments of the Village of New- 
field and the Borough of Bridgeport has been given in the chapters 
dealing with those subjects. When the borough became a city an 
inventory of the fire department was taken with the following result: 

"Three engines with apparatus thereto belonging. Also the liooks 
and ladders and other apparatus used by the hook and ladder com- 
pany. One clock, formerly called the borough clock, situated in the 
belfry of the North Congregational meeting house. Also one stove." 

A new fire department was then organized by the city, which 
organization consisted of the bucket brigade and fire wardens, also 
a chief engineer. The department still remained a volunteer one, the 
members to receive so much per fire. The various engine and hook 
and ladder companies were placed upon a new basis; fire limits were 
drawn and new restrictions placed upon building operations within 
these limits. In 1838 a lot between the South Congregational Church 
and the Baptist Church was purchased and an engine house erected 
thereon, in which Engines Nos. 2 and 3 were housed. Previous to 
their removal these engines had been kept in a small shed on the east 
side of Water Street below State Street. Shortly before the year 
1845 the creditors of the city threatened to levy upon the fire appa- 
ratus of the city and to, save the situation the whole department was 
sold by the city to the Town of Bridgeport for $1,249.09 and leased 
from them for $75 per year. It was afterward bought back from 
the town on money which had been borrowed. 

The fire department of Bridgeport, up until 1847, was purely of 

Digitized byGOOgle 


volunteer character. In that year a slight change was made, due to 
a plan advanced by R. B. Lacey for a reorganized department. The 
state legislature in May, 1847, passed a new military law abolishing 
the militia system and giving compensation to members of uniformed 
companies. This meant that the by-laws of the city and the status of 
the department would have to be changed or else the fire department 
itself would disintegrate. The city was accordingly divided into four 
wards, also created a board of engineers, consisting of a chief engi- 
neer and eight assistant engineers, two from each ward. The duty 
of this board, which was appointed by the council, was to "audit all 
accounts against the city relative to the fire department, to cause all 
by-laws of the city relative to fires to be carried into effect, and to 
organize the firemen into engine, hook and ladder and hose com- 
panies." In fact they had full control of the department and com- 
panies forming it. This system prevailed until the establishment of 
a paid department in 1872. 

The department in 1867 had the following apparatus: Steamer 
D. H. Sterling, No. 1; Steamer Protector, No. 2; Fountain Hose 
Company, No. 3; Hook and Ladder Company, No. 4; Steamer 
Excelsior, No. 5; Americus Hose Company, No. 6; Wheeler & Wil- 
son Steamer Seamstress (Independent); and Seamstress Hose. 
The Sterling Steamer had been purchased in 1864, with horses, house, 
etc., for $8,500, the total cost being $11,746.24; two others, namely. 
Protector No. 2 and Excelsior No. 5, were bought in 1865. This 
was the first modem machinery added to the department and with it 
were to come modem methods. 

In 1854 a contract was made with the Bridgeport Water Com- 
pany for the use of fire hydrants. The water company was to fur- 
nish all the water needed by the city for extinguishing fires, also erect 
and maintain any number of hydrants needed, all for a reasonable 
price. On June 18th, after the contract had been discussed and 
adopted, the water company presented its first bill to the city, for 
forty-six hydrants and setting at $80 each and water rent from 
March 1st to September 1,- 1855, amounting to $750. 

In 1872 began the paid fire department and ended the volunteer 
system. On May 1st of that year the fire commissioners reported 
"in compliance with a vote of the council instructing them to pre- 
sent for their consideration a plan for a paid fire department," sub- 
mitted the following: 

"Organize the department into a force of seventy men made up 
as follows: 



"Chief engineer, 3 assistant engineers, 8 steamer engineers, 6 
drivers for steamers, hose carts and hook and ladder truck, 54 hose 
and hook and ladder men, to be organized as follows : 

"Steamer No. 1: 1 engineer, 1 fireman, 2 engine and hose drivers, 
8 hosemen, in all 12 men; 2 horses for steamer, 1 horse for hose cart. 

"Steamer No. 2, same as No. 1. 

"Hose Carriage No. 3: 10 hosemen, carriage drawn by men. 

"Hook and Ladder No. 4: 10 hook and ladder men, the truck to 
be drawn by one horse. 

Steamer No. 5 : 1 engineer, 1 fireman, 1 engine driver, 8 hosemen. 

"Hose Carriage, No. 6: 10 men, carriage to be drawn by men. 

"We recommend that the Hook and Ladder No. 4 be drawn by 
one horse. This would save the expense of ten men, which would be 
at least five hundred dollars per year, while the keeping of one horse 
would not exceed three hundred dollars. 

"We also recommend that a hose reel or jumper be purchased for 
No. 5, to be attached to and drawn with the steamer. 

"We also recommend that a hose cart similar to the one belonging 
to Steamer No. 1, to he drawn by one horse, carrying 1,000 feet of 
hose, be purchased for Steamer No. 2, located in the East District. 
This is rendered necessary by the scarcity of hydrants in that section 
of the city. 

"The annual cost to the city of the following plan would be as 
follows as nearly as we can estimate: salary of chief engineer, $400; 
8 assistant engineers at $100 each, $300; 3 steamer engineers at $250* 
each, $750; 3 firemen for steamers at $125 each, $875; 3 drivers foi 
steamers at $600 each, $1,800; 2 hose drivers at $120 each, $240; 1 
hook and ladder driver, $120; 54 hook sfnd ladder men at $50 each, 
$2,700; 9 horses at $200 per year, $1,800; fuel and gas, $300; inci- 
dental expenses such as repairs, oil, waste, etc., $1,500. Amount of 
gross expense, $10,485; deduct for work on streets of 6 teams, 200 
days each at $8.50 per day, $4,200. Net expense, $6,285. 

"In estimating the number of men and the arrangement of the 
several companies we have adopted mainly the system now in success- 
ful operation in Hartford and New Haven. We believe that the 
force and arrangement here proposed would form a compact avail- 
able and efficient fire department. 

"S. W. Baldwin, 

"W. R. HiGBY, 

"J. B. Atherton, 
"Martin Sykes." 



This ended the volunteer fire department of Bridgeport which 
had been in existence for seventy-five years. The outgoing depart- 
ment was officially thanked for its services "in battling and check- 
ing all fires which raged within our limits." C. A. Gerdenier^ who 
had been chief since 1869, was retained as head of the new system, 
with Joseph S. Reed, Joseph King and Hugh Lawton as his assist- 
ants. The roll of the members of the different units follows; 

Steamer No. 1: Engineer, Jesse Duncomb; assistant, Lewis 
Hoyt; driver, William Timpany; hose, E. Finnegan, foreman, 
Harry C. Roff, Alfred T. Bailey, George D. Miehalis, W. C. 
Churchill, John Stevens, David Craw, Bernard Eberhard, hosemen. 

Steamer No. 2: Engineer, John Keppy; assistant, David M. 
Conger; driver, Michael Garry; hose, Frank P. Lawton, foreman, 
A. S. Hmit, A. E. Hunt, D. F. Murphy, E. H. Jones, Charles E. 
Killenbcck, F. H. May, John H. Killenbeck, hosemen. 

Hose No. 2: Foreman, M. B. Brundage; hosemen, C. H. 
Brotherton, Stiles L. Smith, Horace B. Stoddard, Henry C. Beers, 
Owen Keenan, James Burgess, George Cotes, Hosa Napa, Charles 

Hook and Ladder No. 4: Foreman, D. Holden; laddermen, C. 

5. Powell, S. H. Whiting, G. E. Brown, E. A. Stoughton, H. E. 
Avery, W. H. Card, D. McCoune, T. Yates, J. A. Dainty. 

Steamer No. 5: Engineer, William Delaney; assistant, Joe 
Hotchkiss; driver, William Craw; foreman, J. H. Partridge; hose- 
men, G. W. Campana, David Jack, E. Riley. 

G. O. Stagg, C. Barnum, G. Wellington and William Welling- 
ton were shortly afterward appointed hosemen on No. 5 and F. 
Taulman as ladderman on No. 4 to take the place of Stoughton, 

In the year 1872 a fire alarm telegraph system was installed ii: 
Bridgeport at a cost of $10,000. Forty-two call boxes were con- 
nected with this system. There are 274 alarm boxes. In 1896 there 
were six steam fire engines, houses and land, two hook and ladder 
companies; at the present time the companies are located as fol- 
lows: Steamer No. 1, 248 John Street; Steamer No. 2, 481 Crescent 
Place; Steamer No, 8, 167 Norman Street; Steamer No. 4, 186 
Madison Avenue; Steamer No. 5, 268 Middle Street; Steamer No. 

6, 1184 Barnum Avenue; Steamer No. 7. 575 Bostwick Avenue; 
Steamer No. 8, 566 Newfield Avenue; Steamer No. 9, 452 Lafay- 
ette Street; Steamer No. 10, Putnam Street, near East Main; Auto 
Chemical No. 1, 268 Middle Street; Chemical No. 2, Maplewood 



Avenue; Hook and Ladder No. 1, 167 Norman Street; Hook and 
Ladder No. 2, 268 Middle Street; and Hook and Ladder No. 8, 
1184 Barnum Avenue. 

In 1903 the Gamewell telegraph system was installed. For some 
years the department had not had the use of its signal system, owing 
to a suit brought by the Municipal Signal Company for infringement 
of a patent. With the establishment of the new system the suit was 


In the borough days there was little need for a policeman, al- 
though there existed a public watch, which person was vested with 
the powers of safeguarding property and arresting any person dis- 
obeying the law. After the borough became a city, to be exact, at 
a city meeting held January 7, 1837, a by-law was approved "rela- 
tive to a city watch." The council was authorized and empowered to 
cause a watch to be kept in the city from time to time and for a 
length of time deemed necessary for the safety of the city. 

At a council meeting November 25, 1844, it was "Resolved, That 
a city watch is hereby constituted and authorized to act at the 
expense of the city." This is the first reference in the city records of 
the employment by the city of a watch. The night watch which had 
hitherto existed was simply a volimtary service. Dwight Mor- 
ris and S. M. Middlehrook were constituted watch wardens, the fore- 
runners of the present police commissioners. They had the power 
to employ a suitable number of persons to guard the city against 
thieves and to turn in fire alarms. 

On May 6th, in the year 1848, the council appointed Alden 
Burton and Ezra Kirtland as special constables. This office cor- 
responded more to the future police than the city watch. The coun- 
cil also instructed the mayor to continue the watch until otherwise 
directed, also to procure some suitable building for a watch house. 
This house, or "police station," was established in the cellar of a 
brick building on the north comer of Bank and Water streets. From 
this time on the city had an established night force. The police 
headquarters were later established in the basement of the city hall 

On September 3, 1851, an order was passed appropriating "$8 
addition to E. Bouton, E. Hodge and A. Gunn as city police, 
who were on extra duty." This is the first reference to city police. 



although they were in fact only special constables. Under the char- 
ter the city was allowed fifty special constables, but as late as 1861 
there were only thirty-eight. The_ city records invariably speak of 
the watchmen as police even though in a technical way they were 

The city court, as such, was created by the legislative act of 
1868, when a new charter was given to Bridgeport. Prior to this 
there had been a city court, functioning under a recorder and assist- 
ant recorders, but the new city court was held under a judge and 
deputy judge. The city court only had civil jurisdiction when 
the matter in demand did not exceed $500 and one of the parties 
resided within the city limits. 

It was provided in the new charter that the first common coun- 
cil elected and organized under its provisions should at its first meet- 
ing elect four persons to be known as police commissioners. At a 
meeting held April 15, 1869, E. E. Hubbell, George E. Wheaton, 
John Knowles and H. R. Parrott were elected as the first police 

On April 26th the council adopted an ordinance relative to the 
police force. Under this ordinance the police force was to consist 
of a chief of police, a captain, two sergeants and not less than ten or 
more than twenty men. There was also to be appointed a special 
police force of not less than ten or more than thirty policemen. The 
salary of the chief was fixed at $100 per month; captain, $80; ser- 
geants, $75; each regular, $75; and each special, $2.50 per day while 
doing actual service. It was provided that the then existing night 
watch and special ctmstables should hold their respective offices until 
noon of the first Monday in May, 1869, and until a chief, captain 
and policemen were duly nominated and appointed. This was the 
start of the present capable and efficient police force of the City of 
Bridgeport. The personnel of the first department was as follows: 

Captain, John Rylands; first sergeant, Thomas C. Niblo; sec- 
ond sergeant, Albert Gardner; patrolmen, George Arnold, William 
Coupland, Nicholas Byrnes, Charles E. Canfield, John Dinon, Ber- 
nard Farrell, William R. Galpin, Peter Haefner, Patrick Harty, 
Addis E. Payne, Stiles Smith and David S. Thorp. The following 
special policemen were named: R. H. Marvin, Jesse S. Duncomb, 
Moses H. Wilson, James Bennett, John T. Coggswell, J. L. Bebee, 
Thomas Garry, S. N. Hayes, LegrandStratton,Charles Banks, George 
Hill, H. P. Warner, C. H. Newton, D. R. Waters, C. B. MiUs, 
Henry Stratton, Henry Lockwood, Joseph A. Wheeler, Philip Don- 







ohue, Ed McCall, Henry G. Libby, P. Fagan, Charles Parrott, P. 
Kelly, D. S. Thorp, P. White, George Warner, James Blakesbor- 
ough, G. B. Mallory. 

In 1894 the office of chief of police was changed to that of super- 
intendent of police. In 1896 a contract was made with the National 
Electric Manufacturing Company of MUford, Conn., for the instal- 
lation of a police signal system. In 1900 the bicycle department was 
added, which has been developed into one of the features of the pres- 
ent day police force. Now motorcycles are used, whereas at the start 
the officer had to do the pedaling. In 1900 the force consisted of a 
superintendent, detective-sergeant, captain, lieutenant, three ser- 
geants, patrol driver, matron and forty-six patrolmen. Headquarters 
were in the basement of the city hall, where they remained until the 
construction of the $125,000 buUding on ^'airfield Avenue in the year 
1900, the same for the accommodation of the police department and ' 
the department of charities. There are also stations in the second, 
third and fourth precincts. 

Today the police force of the city consists of the following: 
Board of police commissioners {four men) ; one superintendent; four 
captains; ten lieutenants; fifteen sergeants; nine doormen; one 
matron ; one court officer ; two truant .officers ; one clerk ; one stenog- 
rapher; one liquor and dog agent; three chauffeurs; and 183 patrol- 


Perhaps the first efi'ort to supply water to the people of this 
community was made about the year 1818 by Rev. Elijah Waterman, 
the pastor of the Congregational Church. He lived on Golden Hill 
and owned the entire front of the hill west of his residence as far as 
Washington Avenue. On the west end of his property were located 
several springs of excellent water, which had been well known to the 
Indians when they occupied the land. Other wells of good water 
in the village were owned by Robert Linus and Capt. Stephen Bur- 
roughs. It happened, now, at this time, that vessels coming into the 
harbor were often in need of water and consequently expected to obtahi 
it here. Linus and Burroughs agreed to supply the ships with water, 
for a certain price per cask. This seemed to Waterman to be an 
imfajr method, so he cleared out his springs and deepened them, then 
laid wooden pipes, roughly constructed, through Main and Water 
streets, ending in a trough on the west side of Main at Cannon 
Street. Upon this trough he erected a sign reading "Public Water.". 



In 1823 Lewis C. Segee bought out Waterman, enlarged the 
springs, and continued to supply "public water" until 1848, when 
he sold out to C. B. Hatch of New York City. 

The court of burgesses in the old borough, on September 17, 
1822, granted permission to Reuben Tweedy, Smith Tweedy and 
Lemuel Hubbell to place logs or pipes underground for the purpose 
of conveying water in the borough. This was probably the pioneer 
Bridgeport Hydraulic Company. At the May session of the Gen- 
eral Assembly the Bridgeport 'Golden Hill Aqueduct Company was 
incorporated. Permission was granted to "Jesse Sterling, Stephen 
Hawley, Seth B. Jones, Zilba Northrop, Nickols Northrop, Edwin 
Porter and George Kippen, and all such persons as are or may be 
from time to time associated with them for the purpose of conduct- 
ing pure and wholesome water into, in and about the Borough of 
Bridgeport by means of subterraneous pipes laid along the streets 
of said borough." 

On July 6, 1852, T. H. Barnes and others petitioned the council 
of the city to blast rocks. This was for the purpose of making a well 
or spring, on the south side of Golden Hill. On August 2d it was 
"Ordered, That a company to be formed to bring water into the city 
have the privilege of laying pipes in the streets of said city under 
the direction of the committee on streets." This foretold the forma- 
tion of a company and not a revival of the Golden Hill Aqueduct 
Company. On September 6th it was again "Ordered, That Thad- 
deus H. Barnes, Charles R. Hatch, their heirs, executors, adminis- 
trators and assigns, be and they are, hereby authorized to dig and 
excavate in and through the streets of the city for the purpose of 
relaying, repairing and extending the pipes connected with their 
water works on Golden Hill." The common well had become far 
inadequate to supply the needs of the growing Bridgeport and this 
attempt to carry water systematically from the Golden Hill Springs 
was the first under the city government. 

On March 7, 1853, Nathaniel Greene presented a petition to the 
council relative to supplying the city with public water. It was 
referred to a committee. Greene, who was the agent for the Pequon- 
nock Mills, had a year previous to this time advocated a scheme of 
pumping water from the pond to a reservoir, thence to conduct it to 
the people. This committee on April 18th reported resolutions for 
giving the right of supplying water to Joseph Battin and N. C. 
Whiting, hut the committee of investigation reported unfavorably 
to this. The sole right had been given the previous year to T. H. 



Barnes, but the water which his limited springs could give was not 
enough for the city. Another proposition was presented by Nathan- 
iel Greene and also one from N. C. Whiting. The committee reported 
on May 5th and recommended that the application of Whiting be 
withdrawn and that of Greene be accepted. Greene's proposition 
was as follows: 

"The undersigned proposes to supply the City of Bridgeport 
with an ample supply of pure water in the following manner and 
on the following terms and conditions; 

"The source of supply is from the Pequonnock River. The water 
to be taken from the Factorj' Pond at the Payne's Mills. The prior 
right to -draw all the water required for the use of the city from the 
pond and its sources shall be conveyed to the water company free 
of all encumbrances, and also so much of the land as will be required 
for pipes, pumps and an independent steam engine and boilers, also 
for a distributing reservoir of about two acres. 

"A Cornish engine and boilers shall be set up belonging to the 
water company, with pumps complete. 

"The factory dam to be straightened in the manner described 
by Daniel Marsh in his report to me on file in the office of the city 

"The waterway is being constructed in the most thorough and 
substantial manner of cut granite, laid in hydraulic cement on tht 
plan of the Croton Dam, and the whole equally firm and reliable. 

"The distributing reservoir is to cover an area of two acres, 
divided into two sections. It is to be placed on the hill lying north- 
west of the factory and belonging to the Payne's Mills. The walls 
^vill be of stone properly laid up and secured by canal puddle, and 
the floor of the reservoir will be of stone and cement. 

"The main pipe 2 1/8 miles to Beaver Street is to be laid 
with twelve and fifteen inch pipe, the remaining portions of the pipe 
eight, six and four inches, as may be required by the locality. Dis- 
tance about seven miles, making in all about nine miles of pipe. 

"The head of water being about one hundred and ten feet above 
high water, it will insure an abundant supply to all parts of the city, 
and in all but the highest parts will throw a jet into the open air of 
sixty feet high. 

"The water shall be supplied to the city and its inhabitants now 
or hereafter at as cheap a rate as any other city shall be supplied by 
individuals or private corporations. 

"The company will furnish fire hydrants in such places as may 



be directed by the city government, and will keep them in order 
and always supplied with water and ready for service, the city paying 
the cost of putting down any that are ordered before the line of pipe 
upon which they are to be placed are laid. If ordered before the 
company will place them and the city shall pay for their use at as 
cheap a rate as paid by any other city supplied by individuals or 
private corporations. 

"The capital is fixed at $160,000 in shares of $25 eadi, and books 
will be opened for citizens to subscribe such amounts as they may 
choose, and the city shall have the privilege of taking the stock at 
any time during the 6rst five years by paying an advance of 10 per 
cent upon the capital. 

"The city shall give me and such persons as I may associate with 
me, or any company to be hereafter incorporated, or they may assign 
to, the sole and exclusive right subject to the legal rights of any other 
person or corporations now existing, of laying down pipes in the 
streets, highways and avenues of said city for supplying the city 
and inhabitants with water so long as a full and pure supply is fur- 

"The streets, highways and avenues, after laying or repairing 
pipes, are to be left in as good condition as when broken up. 

"The work shall be completed by the first of December next. 
"Nathaniel Greene." 

It is true that the sole and exclusive right of the Bridgeport 
Hydraulic Company to supply the City of Bridgeport with water 
and lay their pipes in the streets of the city is predicated upon this 
agreement with Nathaniel Greene dated May 5, 1853. Greene's 
proposition was accepted with the proviso that he furnish water as 
agreed, both in quantity and quality. Peter M. Thorpe was presi- 
dent of this Bridgeport Water Company, with Nathaniel Greene the 
"power behind the throne." This constituted the first public water 
company m Bridgeport, but like many of the other pioneer enter- 
prises associated with the city, it was doomed to failure. Much money 
was lost by those interested. Bonds to the extent of $90,000 were 
issued and, being imable to redeem them, the company was sold out. 
A new company came into control of the franchises and works for 
a very low sum, still retaining the rights of the old company. 

The new owners of the water company organized in the year 1857 
under the name of the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company. This name 
has been retained until the present time. The policy' was changed 

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somewhat, which resulted in friction between the company and the 
pubhc. Nathaniel Greene still remained a director of the company, 
but held no oflSce. The methods of control used by the Hydraulic 
. Company were not conducive to harmony with the city and repeated 
efforts were made by the council to purchase the plant and change it 
to municipal ownership. The people were against buying the fran- 
chise, however, and the sale could never be made. The company also 
found difficulty in constructing new reservoirs and keeping their 
water supply pure. The main difficulty was to supply enough water 
for the increasing needs of the city. 

On March 10, 1866, a new company was chartered by the state 
legislature and named the Citizens' Water Company. The officers of 
this corporation were: I. de V. Warner, president; James Staples, 
secretary and treasurer; I. de V. Warner, James Staples, H. A. 
Beardsley, D. F. Holhster, H. N. Beardsley, L. P. Warner and P. 
T. Barnum, directors. After organizing this new company located 
their reservoir and dam on Mill River, in Easton, and immediately 
connected the city with their plant. The work of piping and form- 
ing plans continued until November, 1887, when the company was 
consolidated with the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company. P. T. Bar- 
num had been president of the latter company from 1875 until 1885 
and under his capable direction the plant had been improved and 
the water supply made more regular. William D. Bishop was the 
president of the company at the time of the consolidation. Aftei- 
the consolidation the work of further improvement began and pro- 
cessed rapidly. The additions and changes were large and expen- 
sive. New reservoirs have been constructed from then until the pres- 
ent day and all the sources of contamination removed. The last 
nuisance of this sort was removed in July, 1886, when the water 
company purchased the franchise of the Fairchild Paper Mill. 
Bridgeport's water is now of excellent quality and is supplied in 
great and sufficient quantities; it has stood the most stringent labora- 
tory tests and is without disagreeable taste, which is the case with so 
many other pure water supplies. The health of the community is 
proof of its excellence. The officers of the company in 1916 are: 
DeVer H. Warner, president; Walter S. Wilmot, treasurer; Albert 
E. Lavery, secretary; Samuel P. Senior, vice president and engineer. 

At the May session of the General Assembly of 1849 "R. B. 
Mason, W. P. Burral, Philo Hurd, Hanford Lyon, Horace Nicholi 
and Henry T. Huggins, with such other persons as shall associate 
with them for the purpose," were constituted a corporate body by 



the name of The Bridgeport Gas Light Company, for the purpose of 
manufacturing and selling gas and "to use for that purpose resin, 
coal, oil and other material or materials, and to furnish such quanti- 
ties of gas as may be required in the City and Town of Bridgeport 
for lighting streets, stores, buildings or other purposes." The capi- 
tal stock was $75,000, with the privilege of increasing it to $200,000. 
The corporators of the company were given the usual privileges 
extended to a corporation by a city. A contract between the com- 
pany and the city was made in 1851, wherein lamp posts were placed 
on Main Street, Water Street, State Street, Beaver Street and. 
Golden Hill Street, twenty-six lamps in all. 

This was the first attempt at lighting the city at the public ex- 
pense. All that had been done previously had been accomplished by 
private subscription. Gas proved to be very popular in Bridgeport 
and not many years elapsed before it was quite generally used. The 
company has extended its pipes through almost every street in the 
city and supplies thousands of consumers with a good quality of gas 
for heating, cooking and lighting purposes. 

The officers of the Bridgeport Gas Light Company at the pres- 
ent time are: DeVer H. Warner, president; F. M. Travis, vice presi- 
dent; Ralph I. Munson, secretary; GJeorge W. Roberts, treasurer; 
Charles M. Gerdenier, superintendent. 

The plant was first located at 440 Housatonic Avenue and at the 
time the gas was used for light only. About 1900 it began to bf; 
used for fuel largely. The mantel lights were introduced in 1895, 
and light was produced by heat, rather than by the lighting power 
of the gas. A new gas called "cooking" gas was then made, which 
develops very high heat. The first gas ranges were used about 1899. 

A company known as the Citizens' Gas Company was organized 
in 1895 and established a plant on the corner of Howard Avenue 
and Spruce Street. This company started to produce a gas of low 
candle power, an unpurified gas for heating and manufacturing pur- 
poses. In 1901 the company was consolidated with the Bridgeport 
Gas Light Company, the latter buying the assets of the former. 
The producing plant now occupies a whole block, bounded by How- 
ard Avenue, Worden Avenue, Spruce Street and Pine Street. 
There are 242 miles of gas mains in Bridgeport and vicinity. 

The Bridgeport Electric Light Company was incorporated in 
1884 and its plant located on John Street. Shortly after the incor- 
poration of the company the city made a contract with it for the 
lighting of certain streets and accordingly the first electric lights 



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used on the streets of Bridgeport were switched on February 9, 
1885. By 1898 there were 899 li^ts in the city operated by this 

Shortly after this, the United Illuminating Company superseded 
the Bridgeport Electric Light Company, and in 1902 contracted 
with the city for electric street lights. By 1904 there were 508 lights 
installed under the terms of this contract. There were also over four 
hundred Welsbach single burners, for gas, used as street lights. The 
contract with the United Company for electric arc street lights was 
completed in 1906. On July 1, 1916, there were 854 arc Ughts, 805 
Tungsten electric lights and 292 White Way lights. The expense 
to the city for municipal lighting for 1915-16, fiscal year, was 

Among the first by-laws adopted by the city was that one "rela- 
tive to public lamps and lights in the City of Bridgeport." The 
council was given the power and authority to cause these lamps to 
be erected. The borough had erected several at different times and 
paid for them at private expense. It is presumed that these were 
turned over to the city when the borough govermnent was aban- 


At a city meeting held November 11, 1837, for the purpose of 
approving by-laws, one relative to the mode of taxation was pre- 
sented, read and approved, and a motion was also made and carried 
"that the clerk of the city be authorized to contract with the pro- 
prietors of the Bridgeport Republican for the publishing said by- 
law according to the law of this city." This by-law stated that within 
ten days after it became operative, "and annually thereafter in the 
month of September, the Court of Common Council shall appoint 
two or more, not exceeding five, judicious freemen of this city. Asses- 
sors, whose duty it shall be to make assessments and valuations of 
all property within the limits of the city owned" by persons on the 
first day of October in each year liable by law to be taxed, and to 
complete the Ust of each individual in the manner as is now or may 
hereafter be by law required by the assessors of the several towns of 
this state." They were to enter on the list of each individual "each 
particular kind of property such person may possess," and "lodge 
the same in the office of the city clerk on or before the first day of 
December of each year." 

On December 7th the council appointed as assessors under the 

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foregoing by-law, Abijah Hawley, Daniel O. Wheeler and Ira Sher- 
man. A board of relief was appointed also, consisting of Reuben 
Tweedy, Jesse Sterling and John Brooks. The first tax was for 
two cents on the dollar. 

In this connection it may be interesting to append the grand list 
of the City of Bridgeport for stated intervals from 1850 until the 
present time. 

1850 $ 2,798,700 

1860 7,»9.8,442 

1865 9,069,020 

1870 12,189,878 

1875 12,549,274 

1880 11,626,267 

1885 15,780,884 

1890 24,012,457 

1895 56,848,056 

1900 62,906.222 

1910 89,884,601 

1916 139,689,840 

The net debt of the city on April 1, 1917, was $5,708,885.97- This 
is an increase of almost two million dollars over April 1, 1916. Also, 
on April 24, 1917, bonds amounting to $3,575,000 were issued for 
the further improvement and development of the city. The taxes 
for the fiscal year ending in 1915 were: First district, $884,658.71; 
second district, $1,117,088.48. The total amount of revenue for the 
two districts was $4,514,811.69. 


The city charter was given to the City of Bridgeport for the first 
time in the year 1836, but since this time so many changes have been 
made that it bears little resemblance to the original. As it was then 
,>t constituted the mayor, aldermen and common coimcilmen to be a 
court of common council. This Court of Common Council was to con- 
sist of a mayor, four aldermen, and not more than twenty common 
councilmen, a city clerk, treasurer, and two sheriflFs, who were to 
be elected on the first Monday in October, at an annual city meeting, 
all except the mayor to hold office till their successors qualified, and 
the mayor to do the same "unless removed by the General Assembly." 



This was the method of government for nearly twenty years. In 1878 
the number of aldermen had increased to six and there were eighteen 
councihnen, six from each of three wards. In 1885 the council was 
divided by charter amendment into two boards, which were to meet and 
act separately. The city was divided into six wards and one alderman 
and three councilmen were elected annually from each. In addition 
there were six aldermen at large, making eighteen aldermen. The 
board of public works was established in place of the board of road and 
bridge commissioners. 

The town and city consolidation, in March, 1889, caused another 
change in the charter, also the taking in of West Stratford the same 
year caused an amendment to be made to the charter. 

In 1898 the charter suflPered another amendment, making the 
terms of office of "the mayor, city clerk, treasurer, collector of taxes, 
six aldermen at large, one councilman for each ward, seven sheriffs, 
a town clerk and two registrates of votes for each ward, to be for 
two years, and providing that at annual elections for other officers, 
one alderman and one councihnan should be elected for each ward 
for two years, thus making the boards of aldermen and councilmen 
to consist of twelve members each, six to go out annually from each 
board, leaving six old members constantly on each." In 1894 the 
two council boards were aboUshed and a single board of twenty men, 
ten going and ten coming each year, was established. The common 
council now consists of a president and twenty-four councilmen. The 
other city officers are: mayor, city clerk, assistant city clerk, town 
clerk, assistant town clerk, city auditor, deputy city auditor, city 
treasurer, collector of taxes and assessments, city attorney, city engi- 
neer, harbor master, bo^rd of apportionment and taxation, board of 
appraisal of benefits and damages, board of assessors, board of chari- 
ties, board of relief, building commissioners, health department, 
library board, park department, registrars of voters, sinking fund com- 
missioners', city surveyor, public works department and city court. 

Many other changes have been made in the city charter, the details 
of them being too numerous and bulky for presentation. 


In the original charter of the city there was a provision made for 
a city court. The mayor was designated as the judge and two 
aldermen were to be assistant judges. Meetings were to be held on 
the first Monday in every month. The same year this was amended 



and the council could then choose a recorder instead of the mayor. In 
1855 an amendment provided for the election on the city ticket of a 
recorder and two assistants. In 1868 the City Court was reorganized 
and the existing constitution adopted. It provides for a judge a, 
deputy judge, prosecutor, assistant prosecutor, ekrk, assistant clerk 
and probation officers. Its civil jurisdiction extends to all cases where 
the matter in demand does not exceed $300 and where the parties live 
within the city. Its criminal jurisdiction takes in all cases of crime 
and misdemeanor committed within the city, the punishment of which 
does not exce^ a fine of $200 or imprisonment in the jail for six 
months, or both. 

The judges of the City Court in Bridgeport have been Samuel 
B. Sumner, 1869, to August; David B. Lockwood, 1869; Israel M. 
Bullock, 1870-73; Stephen S. Blake, 1878-77; A. B. Beers, 1877-90; 
J. J. Rose, died 1893; Patrick Kane, 1893-95; GJeorge P. Carroll, 
1895-1908; William H. Comley, 1903-05; Henry C. Stevenson, 
1905-07; John S. Pullman, 1907-09; Carl Foster, 1909-18; Thomas C. 
Coughlin, 1913-15; F. A. Bartlett, 1915-. 

The city has sent to the State Legislature since the districting of 
the state in 1880 the following men : 

Philip A. Cannon, 1833; J. C. Loomis, 1887; Noah Plumb, 1841; 
A. A. Pettingill, 1845; H. K. Harrall, 1850; WiUiam P. Burrall, 
1851 ; Sidney B. Beardsley, 1858; P. C. Calhoun, 1859; W. D. Bishop, 
1866; Nathaniel Wheeler, 1878; Nathaniel Wheeler, 1874; William 
D. Bishop, 1877; William D. Bishop, 1878; Russell Tomlinson, 1879- 
80; Morris W. Seymour, 1881-82; R. E. DeForest, 1888; D. N. Mor- 
gan, 1885; E. G. Bumham, 1887; D. M. Read, 1889-91; D. N. Mor- 
gan, 1893; William H. Marigold. 1895-97; Philo H. Skidmore, Jr., 
1899; William E. Seeley, 1901; Archibald McNeil, 1903; Allan W. 
Paige, Alfred A. Doty, William R. Brown, 1905; ArchibaM McNeil, 
John M. Donnelly, William R. Brown, 1907; Philip L. Holzer. 
Thomas Arnold, Jr., Moses W. Manwaring, 1909; Frederic A. Bart- 
lett, Archibald McNeil, Garry Paddock, 1911 ; Christian M. Newman, 
Archibald McNeil, Jr., Joseph H. Whitcomb, 1918; Frederic A. 
Bartlett, John M. O'Connell, WilUam H. Comley, Jr., 1915. 


Until the time of the separation of Stratford and Bridgeport in 
1821 Stratford had sent two representatives to the General Assembly. 



In 1822 Stratford had only one and Bridgeport is represented for the 
first time. This was Gen. Enoch Foote. His successors have been: 

Joseph Backus, 1823; WilUain Peet, 1824; William DeForest, 
1825; Noah Plumb, 1826; Smith Tweedy, 1827; Thomas C. Worden, 
1828 ; Smith Tweedy, 1829 ; Samuel Simons, 1880 ; Enoch Footc, IBUl ; 
Noah Plumb, 1832; Smith Tweedy, 1833; Noah Plumb, 1834; Daniel 
O. Wheeler, 1835; Smith Tweedy, 1886; William S. Pomeroy, 1887: 
Henry Dutton, 1888; Henry Dutton, 1839; Joseph Thompson, 1840; 
James Fitch, 1841; Abijah Hawley, 1842; Sherwood Sterling, 1843; 
Alexander Hamilton, 1844; Dwight Morris, 1845; Joseph F. Crosby, 
1846; Joshua Lord, 1847; Henry T. Higgins, 1848; Silas C. Bouti;, 
1849; Williams. Pomeroy, 1850; Wyllys Lyon, 1851 ; Wyllys Lyon, 
1852; Joseph F. Crosby, 1858; Thomas F. Oakley, 1854; Silas C. 
Booth, 1855; James C. Loomis, 1856; Philo C. Calhoun, 1857; Amos 
S. Treat, 1858; A. A. PettingiU, 1859; James C. Loomis, 1860; 
George W. Bacon, 1861; Amos S. Treat, 1862; Russell Tomlinson, 
1863; Dwight Morris, 1864; Samuel Larkin, 1865; Nathaniel 
Wheeler, 1866; George Mallory, 1867; Nathaniel Wheeler, 1868; 
Amos S. Treat, 1869; Nathaniel Wheeler, 1870; William D. Bishop, 
1871; Nathaniel Wheeler, 1872; Goodwin Stoddard, 1873; Robert 
Hubbard 1874; David B. Lockwood and Carlos Curtis, 1875; George 
W. Bacon and Robert Hubbard, 1876 ; George W. Bacon and Carlos 
Curtis, 1877; P. T. Barnum and Stephen Nichols, 1878; P. T. Bar- 
num and Amos S. Treat, 1879; Dwight Morris and John Saxton. 
1880; David M. Read and Robert E. DeForest, 1881; A. H. Aber- 
nethy and P. W. Wren, 1882 ; D. N. Morgan and D. B. Lockwood, 
1883; William H. Noble and A. M. Talhnadge, 1884; John J. Phelan 
and L. M. Slade, 1883; John J. Phelan and Henry A. Bishop, 1886; 
Patrick Coughlin and George Watson, 1887; John N. Near and Louis 
Kutscher, 1889; F. S. Stevens and Louis Kutscher, 1891; Morris B. 
Beardsley and John Walsh, 1893; Edward W. Marsh and Charles 
Keller, 1895; Matthew H. Rogers and George E. Somers, 1897; 
Charles C. Godfrey and Hugh Stirling, 1899; James Staples and 
Henry Lee, 1901; Charles H. Botsford and N. P. Bissonnette, 1903; 
Henry Lee and M. L. Reynolds, 1905 ; Stephen F. Boucher and Wil- 
liam E. Phelan, 1907; Fayette C. Clark and Frederic A. Bartlett. 
E. Phelan, 1907; Fayette C. Clark and Frederic A. Bartlett, 1909; 
1909; William W. Bent and Joshua Meltzer, 1911 ; Lynn W. Wilson 
and John H. McMurray, 1913; James P. Kelly and E. Earle Garlick, 





When one considers the fact that the principal occupation of the 
early settler in the community which later became Bridgeport was 
that of tilling the land and marketing bis crops, except that portion 
which he utilized for himself and family, it is seen that farming and 
the problem of transportation were the chief featm'es of commercial 
activity. Barter and exchange of surplus farm products for house- 
hold necessities and articles of apparel caused many a pioneer sleepless 
nights, so others entered into the business of making these exchanges 
for his neighbors and so commerce began. 

There were no railroads then with express freight service or 
regular steamers upon the Sound. The latter, however, was the only 
means of transportation open to the settlers along the Pepuonnock. 
Brigs, sloops, barks and schooners plied between' this settlement and 
Boston almost exclusively at first, or until New York entered as a 
marketing center. 

Ship building naturally became an industry then, as every mer- 
chant of means wished from one to five ships to carry on his busi- 
ness. It is said upon good authority that ship building began along 
the Pequonnoek as early as 1720. There were no regularly equipped 
ship yards as exist now, but the farmers and merchants constructed 
their own ships at times when their other duties did not hold them. 
The timber was cut in the nearby forests, dragged or hauled to the 



river bank, where it was permitted to remain until thoroughly sea- 
soned. Then it was he^n by hand and fastened together securely 
enough to weather the storms of the Sound should the unfortunate 
navigator find himself caught. That these small-draught vessels were 
not seaworthy, or would not be considered so today, is well proved by 
the number of sinkings which occurred then. Many of the best known 
families in Stratfield and Newfield lost sons and fathers at sea, some 
of the principal ones of which are mentioned in the chapter on early 


It is probable that the first store upon the Pequonnock River was 
opened by Richard Nichols, or his son, Theophilus, about the year 
1730, at Berkshire, the head of navigation then. A small ship yard 
existed at this point then and it is believed that their business grew ^ 

out of this. It is also stated that Stephen Burroughs, Sr., who was 
born in 1729, sailed vessels from Berkshire, but it is not known 
whether he possessed a store in connection with his shipping. 

At .the time of his death in 1756 Richard Nichols bequeathed to 
his son, Theophilus, twenty-four acres of land in Newpasture Field, 
at the lower extremity of East Bridgeport. Between the time of 
his father's death and his own in 1774 Theophilus erected a wharf 
and store at the foot of what was later Pembroke Street. Stephen 
Burroughs also desired to get located nearer the Sound than Berk- 
shire and accordingly built on the west bank of the river at the foot 
of State Street. This was before the Revolution. This is said to 
have been the first store and wharf erected in Newfield, but the 
question of priority between Nichols and Burroughs has yet to be 
settled. One thing is certain, however, that these two stores were the 
only ones in the settlement before 1776. Burroughs' store, from Jan- 
uary 1, 1777, until January 1, 1782, was occupied by Lieutenant Hall 
and twenty-four men of the Coast Guard, belonging to the body 
designated by the Council of Safety of the State of Connecticut. 

With Theophilus Nichols there also was interested in the busi- 
ness his son — Philip. Philip later bought a large tract of land on 
the west side where Wall Street is now located, believing that the 
west side held a brighter future than the east side which was favored 
by his father. Philip was bom in 1726 and died in 1807. 


With the conclusion of peace with Great Britain there arose con- 
siderable activity along commercial lines. The village along the 



Pequonnock began to revive. Immediately after the war Maj. Aaron 
Hawley erected a store and wharf on the east side of Water Street, 
opposite what is now Union Street, and there engaged in business. 
About 1786 he sold out his business to Daniel Young, who came from 
Norwich. Young continued prosperous until 1800, when he retired. 
Both Hawley and Young died about 1803. 

The statement was made in a preceding chapter that in 1796 the 
principal citizens of the Village of Newfield were asked to subscribe 
toward the purchase of a new fire engine. Four of the citizens gave 
$20 each to the fund; these were: Stephen Burroughs, Richard and 
Amos Hubbell and Robert W. Whilmore. Richard Hubbell and 
Amos Hubbell were the successors of Capt. Abraham Hubbell, who 
came from Wilton about 1790 and constructed a store and wharf 
on the north side of State Street and carried on from that place a 
Boston coasting trade. He finally died in that city of smallpox. Then 
Richard and Amos succeeded him in the business, coming here from 
Stratfield. Soon, however, the brothers broke up their partnership 
and Amos built a store and a wharf on the north comer of Water and 
Morris streets (Bank Street), where he continued in the West Indian 
trade until his death in 1801. Richard carried on the old business 
for a short time, theij sold out to David Minott & Company, the 
"Company" being Stephen Summers and William DeForest. Hub- 
bell went to New York where he died July 16, 1829, in his ei^ty- 
fif th year. 

Prosper Whitmore (or Wetmore), his brother, Robert W. and a 
third brother, from Stratford, built a store and wharf on the east 
side of Water Street north of Wall Street about 1790, where they 
carried on a West Indian trade until 1797. 

John S. Cannon came here from Norwalk to Newfield before the 
year 1789. He formed a partnership with Lambert Lockwood, from 
Wilton, and built a store and wharf about midway between Wall and 
Bank streets, where they carried on a dry goods and grocery trade 
in connection with the packet sloop Juba, John Brooks, master, 
which sailed between Newfield and New York. Cannon's residence 
was on the southwest comer of Water Street and Fairfield Avenue 
and Lockwood Uved at about 254-6 State Street. The former died 
in 1830 and the latter in 1825, both having been prominent in the 
business and civil life of the community. 

About 1792 Isaac Hinman came from Tmmbull and opened a 
store on the south side of State Street. He resided on the south- 
east .comer of Wall and Water streets, where his son, Capt. Mun- 



son Hinnian, managed the Washington Hotel. By 1806 Hinman's 
residence had been changed to the southwest comer of Bank and 
Main streets. With William DeForest, Hinman succeeded Amos 
Hubbell in the Boston grain trade and was engaged in that until his 
death in 1817. 

William Peet, a tanner and currier by occupation, kept an inn 
where the old postoffice stood. At one time he was associated with 
John S. Cannon under the firm name of Cannon & Peet. Their tan- 
nery was located on Broad Street, north of John. He was also 
engaged in saddle manufacturing with Sheldon Smith. Peet became 
quite prominent, having been a burgess, warden and representative 
to the General Assembly. 

Silas Sherman, with his brother Seth, conducted a dry goods 
and grocery store on the north side of State Street near Water 
Street. This store was erected about 1791. Seth died about 1807 
and then the business was managed by Silas and his son, Ira. Silas 
Sherman died in 1825. 

Salmon Hubbell occupied a small store on the northwest corner 
of State and Water streets and sold dry goods and groceries. Here 
he continued in business for about twenty-five years. Until his death 
in 1830 he had served as captain and paymaster in the Revolution, 
fiire warden, burgess and town clerk. 

Ezra Gregory probably was a tavern keeper. He came from 
Wilton in 1796. His home was on the west side of Main Street at 
the head of Wall and was destroyed by fire November 21, 18S3, 
together with a number of other buildings. 

Another business finn of this period was that of J. and D. Fayer- 
weather (James and Daniel). It is not known just what their busi- 
ness was or how long it was conducted by them. In 1808 Daniel 
Fayerweather lived on thg sitp of the city hall. He lived there until 
1842, when he built a house on the southeast corner of Fairfield 
Avenue and Norman Street. Here he died in 1848. James lived on 
the southeast corner of State and Lafayette streets. 

The firm of Beach & Sterling, composed of Dr. James E. Beach 
and David Sterling, occupied a store on the southwest corner of 
Bank and Water streets, carrying on a dry goods, grocery and drug 
business. Sterling died in 1840 and Beach in 1838. The latter was 
one of the first physicians here, coming from New Haven about 1790. 

The firm of Hull & Lyon were successors of David and John 
DeForest, who carried on the grocery and dry goods business on the 
southwest corner of State and Water streets. Something is said in 



the early settlement chapter about the murder of young Shelton 
Edwards in this store. 

Successful merchants and business men who came here between 
the years 1766 and 1808 were: Ephraim Middlebrook, from Trum- 
bull; Stephen Hull, from Wilton; William DeForest, from Weston 
{now Easton) ; Robert Linus; Capt. John Brooks, from Stratford; 
Capt. Joseph S. Edwards, from Trumbull; Sylvanus Sterling, from 
Tnimhull; Jesse Sterling, Tnynbull; Capt. Ezekiel Hubbell, from 
Greenfield Hill, Conn.; Wilham H. Peabody, from Norwich; Ira 
Peck, from Brookficld; Lemuel Hubbell, from Stratford; Benja- 
min Hall and Joseph Backus, attorneys; Maj. Benjamin M. Wool- 
sey, from Long Island, N. Y.; Smith Tweedy, from Danburj-; Heze- 
kiah Ripley; Lazarus Beach, Redding, Conn.; Stiles Nichols, Dan- 
bury; Thomas Woodward; Joslah Prindle, from Derby; Mor- 
decai Prindle and Joseph H. Prindle, also from Derby. 


As the period after the Revolution was one of revival and begin- 
ning of business in Newfield, the period after the War of 1812 was 
one of the business depression and commercial stagnation. However, 
the business of Bridgeport during the few years after presents an 
interesting study to the present day reader. Mr. Franklin Sherwood 
wrote many interesting things of the merchants of this period, deriv- 
ing his information from the files of the country newspaper. Adver- 
tising in the paper had become advantageous to the merchant; in 
fact the pioneer newspapers were far better as advertising mediums 
than news carriers. Much of the material used in the following 
paragraphs has been taken from Mr. Sherwood's account. 

On November 2, 1813, William King advertised that "the sloop 
Victress, Samuel Pennoyer, master, will sail from the store and wharf 
of the subscriber" for New York each alternate week during the 
winter season, "and after that time will make her weekly trips as 
usual. Every attention paid to passengers and freight." He also 
oflTered for sale a general assortment of "groceries, bar-iron, iron 
hoop and nail rods" and he desired to purchase "rye, old and new, 
com and flax seed, for which the highest cash price will be ^ven." 
He further off'ers for sale "the sloop Debby Ann, a vessel about 
thirty-eight tons, well found and in good order." King's store and 
wharf at this time was on the east side of Water Street near Wall 
Street, for he advertises March 7, 1815, that he "has removed from 



the store opposite Mr. Knap's tavern to the new store of Mr. Isaac 
Burroughs, where he will continue in New York coasting trade." 
Knap's tavern stood on the southwest corner of Wall and Water 
streets. The store to which Mr. King removed stood on the east side 
of Water Street just below State Street. On May 1, 1818, he again 
advertises that the sloop Victress "will sail from Bridgeport for 
New York every Tuesday evening without fail during the summer 
seaSon, and that no expense has been spared to make her accommo- 
dations both elegant and convenient for passengers. Persons being 
at a distance may depend upon the punctuality of the packet sailing 
at the above time." 

The only other New York packet sailing between here and New 
York at this time was probably the sloop Mmerva, Eliada Baldwin, 
master, which sailed every Saturday morning from the store of 
Hervey Page & Company. This afforded the only passenger serv- 
ice to New York except stage coach, but the latter was too expensive 
for the ordinary citizen and consequently was patronized only by the 
wealthy. Mr. King removed to New York in May, 1816, and offered 
his residence, which appears to have been at the corner of State and 
Court at that time, for -sale with the following description: "The 
subscriber intending to remove to New York, offers for sale that 
well-known and very pleasantly situated two-story house and garden 
in the central part of the Borough of Bridgeport directly east of the 
Kpiscopal Church on State Street. The garden is well stocked with 
the choicest of fruits of all kinds. The house is modern built, com- 
pletely furnished, and the windows are all supplied with Venitian 
shutters, and in every respect in complete repair and perfectly con- 
venient. Any gentleman desiring a summer residence it is presumed 
could not be more agreeably accommodated. The charming village 
and remarkable healthiness of the place renders it still more invit- 

The firm of Hervey Page & Company was composed of Hervey 
Page, Eliada Baldwin and Joel Goodsell. On December 8, 1812, 
they advertise that the "sloop Minerva will sail from Bridgeport for 
N"ew York on every other Saturday morning through the winter 
season" and also "that cash would be paid for oats, flax seed and 
potatoes." They further advertise that they had "a good assortment 
of groceries and five hogsheads of molasses." On January 17, 1814, 
the firm was dissolved and it was announced that thereafter the busi- 
ness would be continued by Hervey Page. On the 2d Of February 
a partnership was formed between Page and Baldwin under the firm 



name of Page & Baldwin, and on March 8th Captain Baldwin was 
again in command of the Minerva. This partnersliip was dissolved 
July 24, 1815, and it was advertised that "Ehada Baldwin would 
continue the Xew .York coasting business at the store lately occu- 
pied by Abijah and Wilson Hawley." Heney Page died in October 
of the same year of tuberculosis, aged thirty-one years. 

The store occupied by Hen-ey Page and Page & Baldwin was 
near ^Vall Street and adjoined that of William King. The firm' of 
Woodward & Lacy was the succeeding occupant, carrying on the 
Boston coasting business and also grocerj' trading. 

Joseph P. Shelton & Company was a firm composed of Joseph P. 
and Philo X. Shelton, brothers, and they conducted a general dry 
goods aiid hardware business. In October, 1813, they sold out their 
stock to Xichols & Laeey, a new firm, but not with the intention of 
abandoning the business, as on December 14, 1818, it was announced 
that the Shelton brothers "have entered into a co-partnership with 
James Beach, Jr., and 2)adock Squier of New York, and have opened 
a store in New York in the wholesale and retail dry goods business, 
at 127 Broadway, under the firm name of Beach, Squier & Shelton, 
and likewise at Bridgeport under the firm name of Joseph P. Shel- 
ton & Company, in the west corner of the new range of buildings 
on State Street." This was at the northeast corner of State and 
Main streets. It was the first dry goods store on Main Street. The 
firm, however, did not continue long in business, as on June 7, 1811, 
the firm of Sherman, Hyat & Company advertise as occupying the 
comer store of the Company Block, as this range of stores wa.s 
afterwards called. 

The firm of Nichols & Lacey was composed of Richard P. Nich- 
ols and David Lacey. Lacey was engaged in business on the south 
side of State Street prior to his partnership with Nichols. The part- 
nership was probably formed in October, 1813, as they then announce 
the purchase of the stock of Joseph P. Shelton & Company and the 
formation of the firm. However, this partnership existed only until 
March 26, 1814, when it was dissolved, Lacey entering partnership 
with Thomas Woodward under the firm name of Woodward & 
I^aeey, engaging in the Boston coasting and general grocery trade. 
Nichols entered into partnership with Jesse Sterling in No. 4 of the 
Company Block, Mr. Barnum Beach in June taking possession of 
the store they had vacated. 

Woodward & Lacey announced on August 15, 1815, that they 
had moved to the store lately occupied by Page & Baldwin, adjoin- 



ing Lambert Lockwood's book store and opposite Knap's tavern. 
Either they did not commence a regular retail business or else trade 
was poor for on March 26th they advertised that "a small quantity 
of groceries will be sold wholesale at cost or less as the subscribers 
are going to leave the place in the course of the summer." The dis- 
solution of the partnership was announced May 21st and on the 
same day Thomas Woodward announced his dwelling to be for sale. 

Woodward, prior to his partnership with Lacey, was in the New 
York coasting trade, as on May 24, 1814, under the head of "New 
Establishment," it is advertised that "the sloop Bridgeport, Thomas 
Woodward, master, with good accommodations for passengers, will 
ply between the ports of Bridgeport and New York as a regular 
packet during the ensuing summer, leaving Bridgeport every Sat- 
urday and Peck Slip, New York, every Thursday. For freight or 
passage apply to Daniel Burritt or David Lacey or the master on 
board." Capt. Eliada Baldwin took charge of the sloop Bridgeport 
when Woodward entered into partnership with Lacey. 

Beach & Sherman was a firm composed of James E. Beach and 
Isaac Sherman and on March 8, 1813, advertise "a few hundred 
bushels of com, rye and oats for which cash will he paid." Sometime 
that summer a new partner was admitted in the person of Ira Peck 
and the firm name changed to Beach & Sherman & Company. The 
sloop Patriot sailed to New York in the interests of this firm. The 
firm dissolved November 20, I8I4, and notice was given that the 
bushtess in the futiu'e would be managed by the firm of Beach & 
Peck. They sold groceries for cash or country produce. 

The class of goods bandied by this firm and other store keepers 
is illustrated by their advertisement of January 2, 1816, when they 
announce as just received from New York a fresh supply of gro- 
ceries, consisting of sugar, cpfFee, teas, cognac, peach and elder 
brandy, Holland and Pierpont gin, St. Croix and Antigua rum. 
New Orleans and Martinique molasses, salt, brimstone, Spanish and 
American segars, snuff, also a general assortment of crockery, glass 
and stone ware, iron and steel, cordage, resin, etc. 

Isaac Sherman was in the coasting trade and possessed a store 
before going into partnership with Beach and during the time they 
conducted business together. After the dissolution it is probable 
that he continued in the coasting trade until March 1, 1815, when 
he entered into partnership with Stephen Burroughs. On May 15th 
they announced that they wished "to purchase for the West Indian 
market com, oats, potatoes, hams and poultry of all kinds if deliv- 



ered in six or eight days," and also that "the sloop Lapwing will 
ctmtinue to run in the line as a regular packet." 

John Brooks was evidently engaged in the coasting business and 
made private investments while a sloop master. On March 28, 1818, 
he offered for sale "nine hales of the first quality Georgia upland 
cotton; fifteen bags and three barrels of the best green coffee," and 
on February 9, 1814, announced that he "has on hand a large quan- 
tity of first rate smoked hams and shoulders for sale at David Ster- 
ling's store." On January 9, 1816, he advertised that he had "given 
up the charge of the packet to his son, John Brooks, Jr., and has 
opened a store and offers for sale at store of John S. Cannon in 
Bridgeport, by the barrel or less quantity. Old West India rum, 
genuine Holland gin (free from mixture), Virginia peach brandy, 
sugars, etc." He also announces that "the sloop Mary Ann will in 
the future run as a constant packet from my store and wharf to Peck 
Slip in New York." 

David Ufford was another engaged in the coasting trade at this 
time. He offered lumber for sale at Sherwood & Huhbell's wharf. 
He and Nathaniel Wade formed a firm in September, 1818, and went 
into business in the store formerly occupied by David Minot & Com- 
pany, where they sold pine and cherry lumber, salt fish and grocer- 
ies. On March 15, 1814, they advertised their removal to the store 
near the old toll bridge and that they have bought the sloop Debby 
Ann, for use in the lumber business to and from the North River. 
The partnership was dissolved November 18, 1815, and the partners 
united with William DeForest under the firm name of DeForest, 
Wade & Company and removed their place of business to the store 
of William DeForest. This was at the foot of State Street, where 
he had been located for several years, in a similar line of business as 
Wade and Ufford. 

A. & W. Hawley & Company existed as a business firm until 
December 1, 1818. Then it was dissolved and again revived Sep- 
tember 5, 1815, under the same name, with the admission of Eliada 
Baldwin and Stephen Hawley. 

Charles R. Hubhell & Company was one of the principal firms 
of the time. The store was on the northwest comer of Water and 
State streets. It is not stated in the advertisement who the other 
member or members of the firm were. 

At this time Thomas Cook Wordin was probably the only drug- 
gist in the community. His store stood on State Street near Water. 
On May 23, 1818, he advertises "Spring Bitters, Genuine Aromatic 



Spring Bitters," of his own make, and which he claimed were 
"highly approved for preventing and curing those disagreeable feel- 
ings which many people are troubled with in the spring, and 
strengthen the body at the approach of warm weather." 

On December 23, 1812, Isaac Hinman, Jesse Sterling and 
Thomas C. Wordin advertised as "wanting to contract for a store 
frame of 50 tons of timber. Also for 20,000 feet of V-^ inch oak 
boards; 20,000 oak lath; 17,000 brick and 60 casks of lime." This 
store, as it was called, was a block of wooden stores on the north side 
of Slate Street, at the corner of Main, for many years was known 
as the Company Block. Mr. Wordin was undoubtedly the first to 
remove his business to this block. His store became known as No. 1. 
The next one, or No. 2, was occupied by Kirtland & Wordin, mer- 
chant tailors; No. 3 by Isaac Hinman & Company, dry goods and 
household articles; No. 4 by Sherman, Hyat & Company, dry goods 
and groceries, and probably Jesse Sterling, who owned it, occupied 
part of it for the postoffice ; No. 5 was taken by Joseph R. Shelton 
& Company, dry goods and hardware. Wordin was succeeded by 
his son, Nathaniel S., who remained there until about 1850. 

Samuel C. Kirtland and William Wordin composed the firm of 
Kirtland & Wordin, merchant tailors. Their store was at first on 
the northwest corner of Bank and Water streets. On February 5, 
1815, they were burned out in their new place of business in the 
Company Block, which led to a dissolution of the partnership. The 
two, however, opened up for business in separate establishments 

Richard Hyde, on October 28, 1812, advertised that he had just 
received a large and extensive assortment of goods, including brass 
warming-pans, frying-pans, flat irons, paper hangings and border- 
ings, hardware and cutlery; also wines, hyson, young hyson and 
souchong teas, sugars, spices, etc. On April 27, 1813, Isaac Hin- 
man was admitted to partnership and the firm name changed to 
Hinman & Hyde. After their removal into the Company Block, 
No. 8, the firm name was changed to Isaac Hinman & Company. 
On April 25, 1815, the name was again changed to Hinman, Ster- 
ling & Hyde. At the same time they enlarged their quarters by 
taking in No. 4, Company Block, also. This firm continued until 
May 15, 1816, when it was dissolved, Jesse Sterling withdrawing. 
It became Isaac Hinman & Company again and No. 4 was occupied 
by the new firm of Nichols & Sterling. 

On December 1, 1812, Jesse Sterling was engaged in the grocerj' 



trade on the north side of State Street near Water. He moved to the 
new store, No. 4, Company Block, about the time of its completion, 
and Middlebrook & Denslow occupied the store' he left, keeping only 
a portion of it probably for a postoffice. On March 1, 1814, the 
firm of Nichols & Lacy dissolved and Richard P. Nichols soon after 
formed partnership with Jesse Sterling imde^- the firm name of 
Nichols & Sterling. They opened up for trade in No. 4 The firm 
existed until April 4, 1813, then the new style of Hinman, Sterling 
& Hyde was adopted. Sterling retired, but retained his No. 4 store. 
On June 11th he advertised that "the subscriber having an agent 
in England and another in France, and a number of auctioneers in 
New York that will sell him goods cheap for cash, takes this oppor- 
tunity to inform the public that he has lately obtained, and is this 
day opening, and he now offers for sale a large assortment of Euro- 
pean and Indian goods which he will accommodate the public with for 
cash. My assortment is so complete that it would seem useless to enu- 
merate the articles, but as many of them are of a new style of course 
they have new names, such as Angola cassimere. Magnetic calicoes, B. 
Rock Humhums, large figures, warranted not to cut in the eye. The 
above assortment is to be found at No. 4, Company Block. Be 
particular as you love your money to call at No. 4. None are gen- 
uine unless signed J. Sterling." A trace of irony directed at his 
late partners may be detected in this advertisement. Sterling also 
sold lottery tickets. 

The first announcement bf the firm of Sherman & Hyat & Com- 
pany occurs November 9, 1813, under the caption of "New Estab- 
lishment," with the statement that the firm "at the store No. 2 from 
the corner of the new block in State Street, offer for sale on easy 
terms for the purchaser an entirely new assortment of dry goods." 
A short time later a new member was added to the firm and the store 
moved to No. 4. The partnership was dissolved May 31, 1813. 

William Peet announced on December 12, 1812, that he "has 
received a quantity of Northampton sole leather of the first quality 
to accommodate those who would give that kind of leather the pref- 
erence, and has as usual a general assortment of upper leather, skins, 
etc." Peet also conducted a tannery on Broad Street, between what 
is now John and Cannon streets, under the firm name of Cannon & 
Peet. He also carried a line of "saddlery goods, whips, horsemen 
caps, holsters, portmanteaus, feathers and cockades, horses' bits, 
trimks, etc." He later took in Sheldon Smith in the saddlery busi- 
ness. SamiTcl Peet was also engaged in the tanning business. 



Henry May on April 28, 1812, "begs leave to inform his friends 
and the public that he hasjust received a supply of hardware, join- 
ers' tools, etc., which with my stock on hand makes my assortment 
very good." He also advertised lumber and North River shingles. 
His place of business was at this time probably on the east side of 
Water Street just below State. In May, 1815, Ransom C. Canfteld 
purchased his Stock of goods. 

Enoch Foote & Company was a firm made up of Enoch Foote 
and Samuel Burr. On May 27, 1812, they announce having just 
received a new supply of groceries, which made their stock very com- 
plete, including Old Cognac, brandy, old Antigua and St. Croix 
rum, real Holland and American gin, cider spirits, Sicily, Madeira 
and currant wine, cherry rum, ale and Philadelphia porter, molasses, 
sugar, teas, coiFee, chocolate, spices, raisins, Virginia ladies' twist, 
pigtail and paper tobacco, China tea dishes, Liverpool ware, glass- 
ware, lumber. In March, 1814, Samuel Burr withdrew from the 
firm to go into business with his son and Joseph Brooks took his 
place, making the firm name Foote & Brooks. Their store was prob- 
ably on the east side of Water Street a short distance below Wall. 
Samuel Burr & Son went into business on the southwest comer of 
Bank and Water streets. 

Barnum Beach occupied a store room on or near the same cor- 
ner, where he sold a general assortment of goods. Most of the stores 
of this day were similar, all carrying a general line of goods which 
was meant to supply every need of the family. Similar "general 
stores" are to be found in the smaller towns of the Western states 
at the present time. 

Simon Backus advertised goods first on July 8, 1812. He after- 
ward moved to New York with his business. 

Lambert Lockwood on November 18, 1812, advertised that at 
his "Hardware and Book Store" a general assortment of hardware, 
comprising almost every article wanted in that line, among which 
are brass andirons, brass and iron shovels and tongs, brass, iron, pol- 
ished, screw-bottomed and common, iron and japanned candlesticks, 
britannia and block tin, teapots, japanned lamps, black and red 
teaboards and salvers, hollow-ware, pots, kettles, books, stationery, 

William West was engaged in the book-binding trade at this time, 
but did not make very free use of the advertising columns. 

Caleb Beach opened a general store in October, 1812, on State 
Street, south side. He sold out after about three years of activity. 



Isaac Burroughs advertised on January 2, 1813, that he had 
hought out the stock of Henry May and would thereafter handle a 
miscellaneous line of goods. On March 1, 1814, he announced that 
the sloop Hannah Ann, Gershom £. Hubbell, muster, would sail 
about the 20th for Catskill and Albany. He later carried on a Bos- 
ton coasting tade. 

Wordin & Booth, composed of Daniel Wordin and John B. 
Booth, dissolved partnership May 28, 181S, and the business was 
continued by Wordin. About September of the same year Wordin 
had entered into partnershi|Lwith Nathaniel B. Nichols, as on that 
day the firm advertised for an apprentice in the gold and silversmith- 
ing trade, also a journeyman. They later advertise silver table, tea, 
creatn, salt and mustard spoons, silver and plated tongs, ear rings, 
finger rings, and breast pins, gold, hair and silk chains, gold and 
silver seals and keys, silver and brass waist clasps, necklaces and 
bracelets, silver and brass thimbles, shell, horn and ivory comb, har- 
ness ornaments "and a few first rate English and French watches." 
In June, 1814, the firm stated in the paper that they had in their 
employ "a first rate watch repairer .(who served his time in Lon- 
don), well acquainted with its various branches and complicated 
watches, such as repeaters, horizontals and patent lever escapements." 

Samuel Hodge, Spinning & Pettit, and later Spinning & Tirrill, 
were shoemakers at this period of Bridgeport's liistory. Luther 
Broadwell was here for a short time as a shoemaker. 

Ira B. Wheeler began a general store occupation in April, 1813, 
on Water Street. In July, 1815, he formed partnership with Icha- 
bod Lewis under the firm name of Lewis & Wheeler. This firm, how- 
ever, terminated in January, 1816. 

Brazilla Benjamin on August 15, 1813, advertised mihtary and 
fancy goods, silver-plated cut and thrust, and best gilt hangings for 
ofl^cers, brass mounted horsemen's hangars, gilt *ind brass mounted 
artillery swords, gilt and silver-plated epaulettes, guns, bayonets, 
cartridge boxes and bullets, priming rods and brushes, etc. Al- 
though he was robbed of $400 on June 7, 1815, he remained in busi- 
ness, carrying all kinds of novelties. 

John P. Austin and Christian Mitchell were candle chandlers 
of this day. 

On November 8, 1815, it was announced that Charles B. Hubbell, 
having taken Daniel Fayerweather into partnership, the business 
would in the future continue at his old stand (Yellow Store) in 
Water Street, under the name of Fayerweather & Hubbell, where 



might be found a general assortment of dry goods, groceries, hard- 
ware and cutlery. 

Misses Ruth Lacey and Sally Beardslee advertise on May 4, 
1813, that they "have just returned from New York and now offer 
to the ladies a very handsome and fashionable assortment of goods 
in their line, among which are silk, satin and chip hats, elegant figured 
lustrings and satins, pink and white crapes, lace-nets, crape, leno, 
plain and figured Bedford lace, book muslin, lace veils, sufile gauze 
handkerchiefs, pearl edged ribbon, gimp and chancel cords, laces mil- 
linet, foundation gauze, black and white chip, crape and lace head- 
dresses, flowers, needles, pins, bandboxes, etc." In fact everything 
for the ladies' wardrobes was included in the stock inventory. The 
partnership was abandoned during the following year. Miss Lacey 
taking another store which she conducted by herself. 

David Minot & Company kept a store on the north side of the 
Public Slip at the foot of SUte Street., On October 11, 1815, they 
advertised that "the sloop Three Brothers, Captain Norman, will sail 
from this place for New York as a regular coaster and will leave 
every Thursday." 

J. S. and D. Edwards entered into partnership March 1, 1815, 
and engaged in the Boston coasting trade from the store formerly 
occupied by William King opposite Knap's Hotel. The partner- 
ship lasted a year, then the business was managed by Daniel Edwards 

Burr H. Betts announced on February 21, 1816, that he had 
opened business in the store adjoining Samuel Burr & Son ^d last 
occupied by Daniel Burrett, where he would keep a general line of 
dry goods and groceries. Silas Turney was later taken into part- 
nership and the firm became Betts & Turney. 

James Seeley moved to the borough in 1813 and on October 
5th announced that he had opened a shop. He later took up black- 
smithing in a shop located on the west side of Broad near State. 

Clarke & Broadwell, namely, Christopher Clarke and Luther 
Broadwell, announced on September 80, 1814, that "the fast sailing 
sloop Lark, for New York, will sail on the 27th inst., and will con- 
tinue as a regular if proper encouragement is afforded. For freight 
or passage apply to Clarke & Broadwell at the east end of the bridge." 

Elijah Bassett, post-rider, made a specialty of selling shell combs, 
which were not plentiful upon the market. Thomas Williams opened 
a "delicatessen" next to Knap's Hotel, where he sold various foods 
and liquors on cheaper terms than the tavern itself. Ambrose Thomp- 



son sold Long Island clams. Thomas Williams and Newgian Green- 
leaf were the tonsorialists of the day. 

It may he interesting to quote the advertisement of Ephraim 
Knap, which was printed August 10, 1814, extolling the Bridgeport 
Hotel. "The subscriber feels pleasure in informing the public, more 
particularly those who travel the great thoroughfare between the 
Southern and Eastern states, that his house, beautifully situated in 
the pleasant and flourishing Borough of Bridgeport, fronting the 
harbor and a few rods south of the same, has received additional 
improvements which renders it more commodious and comfortable 
for the weary traveler, who may be assured of always finding a plen- 
tiful and well served table of the richest viands, fruits and dainties 
which the season or market can afford. As his house is large and 
commodious, the lodging rooms will be found peculiarly airy and 
convenient and furnished with new and elegant bedding and furni- 
ture for the accommodatiorj of families and single gentlemen and 
ladies. His cellar and bar will constantly be stored with a choice 
collection of wines, spirits and cordials, while his stables shall be well 
(ttended by careful and experienced ostlers. In short no exertion 
shall be wanting to render the Bridgeport Hotel deserving a contin- 
uance and increase of the public patronage it has hitherto received. 
Passengers may be supplied with seats in the stages, east and west, 
every day (Sunday excepted), at 8 o'clock in the morning and 5 
o'clock in the afternoon." 

The Bridgeport Hotel, or E. Knap's Hotel, was located on the 
southwest corner of Water and Wall streets. 


In the Republican Farmer, a newspaper printed in the borough 
of Bridgeport, issue of March 22, 1815, is the following interesting 

"The steamboat 'Fulton' passed this place yesterday at 1 o'clock 
from New York for New Haven on her first trip. She left New 
York at 5 in the morning and had a head wind." 

The Columbian, published at New Haven, in October of the same 
year gave the experience of a legislator in traveling between that city 
ind New York. This follows : 

"A pleasant tour was made in short time a few days ago by means 
of the great facility of traveling, owing to the establishment of steam- 
boats. A number of the Connecticut Legislature left New Haven on 



Saturday afternoon after the House adjourned, reached New York 
in the stage on Sunday morning, attended service in Mr. Spring's 
church in the forenoon, visited a relative in.Flatbush in the afternoon, 
and in the evening set off in the 'Fulton' for New Haven, where he 
arrived early Monday morning in about 36 hours from his departure. 
In few parts of the world could more novelty, speed, convenience and 
ease be furnished in the same period on a similar route." 

The steamboat was a great improvement over the stage coach. It 
was more comfortable if not speedier and eight hours against a head 
wind was considered good time from New York to a point off 

It is believed that the first steamboat to ply Ijetween New York 
and Bridgeport was the "General Lafayette." It is not known just 
what year this boat began regular trips between these two points, but 
in The Connecticut Courier of October — , 1824, appeared the follow- 
ing advertisement: 


Captain Thomas Vose 

Will continue the regular routes between this place 
and New York through the season, towit: 

Leave Bridgeport every Monday, Wednesday and 
Friday at 8 o'clock A. M., for New. York. 

Leave New York every Tuesday, Thursday and Sat- 
urday at 8 o'clock A. M., for Bridgeport, and every 
Saturday will proceed on to Stratford and Derby and 
will return on Monday (touching at Stratford and 
Bridgeport) to New York. 

For passage or freight apply at the store of D. Ster- 
ling & Company, or to the captain on board. 

At the May session of the general assembly in 1824 it was re- 
solved "that Daniel Sterling, Enoch Foote, Ransom C. Canfield, 
Isaac Sherman, Thomas C. Wordin, Wilson Hawley, with all others 
who are or shall hereafter become associated with them be, and they 
hereby are, with their successors and assigns, made and established 
a body politic and corporate by the name of The Bridgeport Steam- 
boat Company, for the purpose of procuring, building and construct- 
ing steamboats and naWgating the same by steam or otherwise in the 
most advantageous manner." The capital stock of the company was 



not to exceed $80,000, divided into shares of $50 each, nor less than 
$10,000 paid in. Wilson Hawley, Daniel Sterling, Thomas C. Wor- 
din, Reuben Tweedy and Isaac Sherman were made the first directors ■ 
of the company. 

To this company it is probable the boat "General Lafayette" be- 
longed. In this connection it might be mentioned that in this same 
year General Lafayette himself passed through Bridgeport and held 
a public reception at Knap's Hotel. The town meeting held August 
21st voted "to pay General de lay Fayette's bill at Mr. E. Knap's, 
being 22 dols,, and powder dol. 50 cents." 

Following this other boats were added to those coming to Bridge- 
port Harbor, among them being the "John Marshall"; then the "Cit- 
izen," Capt. John Brooks, Jr.; the "Westchester," in 1883; the 
"Nimrod," Capt. John Brooks, Jr., in 1885; the "Vanderbilt," in 
18.S7; the "Croton," in 1840; the "Eureka," in 1848 and in the same 
year the "Niagara" and "Bell." The "Mountaineer" was added in 
1844 and made the best time yet made between here and New York — 
three hours and eight minutes. 

By 1846 the "Nimrod" was the only direct communication with 
New York City. The boat was run in connection with the Housa- 
tonic Railroad and Bridgeport passengers were compelled to stop 
over night in New York; it required two days to make the round trip. 
If any business were to be transacted there it generally required three 
days, as the boat left New York at 6 o'clock A. M. The fare was $1 
each way. 

There was, however, another way to reach the metropolis. "The 
new arid elegant steam propeller 'Nangatuck,' Captain Sellew, left 
Derby at 5 o'clock P. M., Milford at 6 and Stratford at 6:30 P. M. 
every Monday, Thursday and Saturday for New York. Returning, 
leaving pier No. 11, Old Slip, everj' Wednesday afternoon at 6 
o'clock, arriving at Stratford about daylight next morning, and every 
Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock, arriving at Stratford at 11 at night." 
The fare was only 75 cents by this route. 

On January 5, 1846, a new competitor was announced, this being 
the "Trojan," Capt. P. H. Smith. This new and convenient boat 
made regular trips to New York, touching at Port Chester, Rocky 
Neck, Stamford, Norwalk and at Bridgeport met carriages which 
carried passengers to New Canaan, Wilton, Westport, Redding, 
Danbury, Ridgefield, Southport and Fairfield. The "Cataline" was 
later run _in opposition. This made four boats — the "Nimrod," the 
"Eureka," the "Trojan," and the "Cataline," all fighting for the 



passenger and freight service between here and New York. The 
first two charged 50 cents, the third 75 cents and the last 121/2 cents. 

On December 15, 1846, it was announced that "the Mountaineer 
on her first trip reached our wharf yesterday in 3 hours and 28 min- 
utes. The Mountaineer is likely to be popular — being a fast and 
elegant boat." This boat ran in connection with the Housatonic 

This gave Bridgeport both a morning and afternoon boat to New 
York, the "Nimrod" leaving at 5 A. M. and the "Mountaineer" at 
1 :30 P. M. The latter boat made faster time between here and New 
York than the present day steamers. Other boats at this time were 
the "Mutual Safety," the "Fairfield" and the "Utica." On October 
11, 1846, the "Mutual Safety" sphmg a leak during a storm and 
was grounded on Talbot Island shoals. The fifty passengers and 
sailors were rescued, but the boat was a total loss. 

The fast "Mountaineer" was constructed and sailed in order to 
draw the New York and Albany trade over the Housatonic Railroad. 
The main competitor was the New Haven, Hartford & Springfield 
Railroad, with the steamer "Traveler" connecting New Haven with 
New York. The latter boat was also a speedy one and immediately 
became a strong rival of the "Mountaineer." The Standard com- 
ments as follows on Dvrcember 22d: 

The New Haven Courier says the Mountaineer was considered 
the quickest boat on the Hudson, and brags that on Monday week 
the Traveler beat her between New York and Bridgeport by "sev- 
eral times her length." It is a matter of no earthly consequence, but 
the Traveler is believed to have done her prettiest on that occasion, 
the Mountaineer certainly did not^the engineer strictly obeying his 
orders not to carry above a certain amount of steam. The traveling 
public can hardly wish for faster boats than the Mountaineer and 
Traveler, and a respectable portion (i. e. all reasonable people) hope 
there will be no racing between the noble steamers. The Mountain- 
eer in coming up has reached her dock in 3 hours and 20 minutes 
and the Traveler has reached hers at New Haven in 4 hours and 45 
minutes. Who wants to make quicker passages? The gaining of 
some 200 yards in running 60 miles (as the Courier claims) won't 
induce Albany passengers to take the roundabout New Haven and 
Springfield hne, will it? How are the snake heads on the New 
Haven road this season? 

"P. S. The Mountaineer came up yesterday in 8 hours and 15 
minutes, leaving the Traveler some six miles behind. The latter 
came out first. Was there a breakage or 'something?' " 

Digitized byGOOgIC 


The "Alice" was placed in operation in 1858, but was afterward 

With the coming .of the New York and New Haven Railroad in 
1849 this strenuous competition between the steamboat lines prob- 
ably suiFered a decline. It is known that the number of boats run- 
ning between Bridgeport and New York was measurably decreased. 

In 1898 the Bridgeport Steamboat Company operated two fine 
boats between this city and New York — the "Rosedale" and the 
"Nutmeg State." In 1917 there are three steamship companies op- 
erating from Bridgeport, namely: The Bridgeport and Port Jef- 
ferson Steamboat Line, the Hartford and New York Transporta- 
tion Company and the New England Steamship Company. The lat- 
ter company runs the steamer "Naugatuek" to New York and return 
every day, including Sunday, and the Bridgeport and Port Jeifer- 
son line operates the steamer "Park City" to Port Jefferson across 
the Sound and return each day. 

Something of the number of boats using the splendid harbor at 
Bridgeport may be ascertained from the figures for the year ending 
March 31, 1916. During this j-ear there were 15,288 boats which 
entered and departed from the harbor. This number was composed 
of 6,480 steamers and towboats, 6,834 sailing vessels, 1,892 canal boats 
and barges and 82 foreign vessels. The description of Bridgeport's 
harbor and the story of its making may be found in a succeeding 


On October 9, 1838, White, Johnson & Company announced that 
"the packet sloop Orien will run from the wharf of the late firm of 
Hawley & Thorp as a regular market and transportation boat be- 
tween this place and New York, leaving Bridgeport every week on 
Tuesday evening, returning will leave New York every Saturday." 
At the same time Joel Thorp announced that he had disposed of his 
business to White, Johnson & Company. 

P. C. Wheeler &. Company advertised on February that "the fast 
sailing sloop Marksman, H. Wells, master," would make regular 
weekly trips to New York. 

Abijah Burroughs advertised that the sloop "Sabina," Merritt 
Ward, master, would also make trips. 

J. & G. E. Hubbell announced a New York packet as the sloop 
"Fame," G. E. Hubbell, master. 



This probably comprised all the firms then engaged in the trade 
and operating a market boat in connection therewith. It is believecf 
that all of them were located on the east side of Water Street and 
carried on the wholesale and retail wet and dry grocery business, tak- 
ing in trade or by purchase country produce from the nearby commu- 

Porter, Hawley & Smith were engaged in the flour and feed busi- 
ness. Of the lumber merchants there were A. Hawley & Company, 
Z. Sanford and Charles Hawley. The drygoods trade was repre- 
sented in chief by the firm of Hubbell & Thompson, located on the 
east side of Water Street on the north line of Bank Street. Birdsey 
& Beach's "Cheap Cash Store" was located on the west side of Wa- 
ter, corner of Bank Street. Samuel Niles, New York Store, was 
on the north corner of State and Water streets. DeForest & 
Beardsley were located in Main Street opposite the Bridgeport Bank. ■ 
William B. Taylor conducted a drygoods store and variety store at 
No. 8 Exchange Place, the newly erected brick block at the corner of 
ilain and Wall streets. 

Hyde and Curtis were also in the drj'goods business in what was 
called the Phoenix Building on the north side of Wall Street next 
to the Connecticut Bank. Shelton & Thatcher conducted the dry- 
goods trade on the north side of State Street in the wooden block 
then at the comer of Main. 

There were four druggists about 1840. N. S. Wordin occupied 
the old T. C. Wordin store in the Company Block, now about 58 
State Street. Joseph Thompson was on the west side of Water 
Street about halfway between Wall and Bank. William B. Dyer 
also carried on the drug business, but the location of his store then is 
not known. Henry Blakeman opened a drug store in the brick block 
on the north side of Wall between Sliddle and Water streets. 

The jewelry firms then comprised J. C. Blaekman & Company, 
which was located in No. 2, Exchange Place, Main Street, and 
Charles Young's, No. 8, State Street. The latter purchased the 
Clark interest in the old jewelry firm of Clark & Youngs. The Clark 
mentioned was Levi Clark. 

D. & H. F. Hatch opened "a new cheap cash shoe store in Water 
Street" about where No. 398 is now located. Samuel LaForge con- 
ducted a boot, shoe, hat and cap store at No. 2, Phoenix Block, on 
Wall Street. Rodney Curtis engaged in this same business at the 
"Bridgeport Center Store." 

In 1840 Josiah Hubbell advertised "For New York, the new and 



fast sailing packet Housatonic, Captain Ward, built expressly for 
the carrying trade between Boston, Bridgeport and New York, will 
leave Bridgeport on her first trip for New York on Tuesday, Octo- 
ber 27, and will continue to run from my store every Tuesday dur- 
ing the season." Hubbell also carried on the wholesale grocery 
and commission business on Water Street near Wall. 

T. Ransom also advertised: "For New York, the Black Rock 
packet sloop Deborah Ann Eliza, Capt. William Jennings, will sail 
from the store of the subscriber in Bridgeport everj* Thursday 
evening during the season." T. Ransom's store was at the foot of 
State Street on the east side of Water. 

Hinman & Johnson, a new firm, advertised the sloop "Harvest," 
of Black Rock, B. Penfield, master, for weekly runs to and from 
New York. 

Mrs. G. Forbes was probably the pioneer of the ready-made or 
"hand-me-down" clothing business in Bridgeport. She advertises 
her store in 1840 as being three stores north of Thompson & Shel- 
ton's store on Water Street. 

The firm of Thompson & Shelton above referred to sold drugs. 
The firm comprised Joseph Thompson and William J. Shelton. 

In April, 1842, Capt. Munson Hinman announced "having 
leased the eastern half of the large and commodious building on Wall 
Street east of the Connecticut Bank, in the City of Bridgeport, and 
has fitted it up for a hotel (City Hotel)." The old Washington 
Hotel had passed out of existence and this new City Hotel was 
on the west corner of Wall and Middle streets. In the same month 
Daniel Sterling advertised the Sterling Hotel for rent, the same 
having 21 parlors and 41 bedrooms. The Sterling Hotel proper at 
that time was a wooden building on the west side of Main Street at 
the head of Wall Street. North of it was located the "log cabin" 
during the "hard cider" campaign of 1840. This was removed after- 
ward and a brick block erected on the spot, and was known as Ster- 
ling Place. Mr. P. F. Barnum conducted the Bridgeport Hotel at 
the comer of Main and State streets at this time. 


The fire of 1888 opened the way for the extension of the retail 
district of Bridgeport. The erection of the Exchange Block by 
James Robinson was followed by that of the Phoenix Building on the 
north side of Wall Street between Main and Middle streets, and by 


liiiilt in Ifi76. R«i.Hii« in tliis Imii^e m-.t.. bI one tmie oi-.ii|iic'<l liy C'-ir^-,. W^sliingtoti 

Digitized byGOOgle 


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Moore's Block on the northwest comer of Main and Bank streets, 
and still later by the Sterling Place at the head of Wall Street on 
the west side of Main. Additional stores were constructed adjoin- 
ing the Exchange Place and also bore that name. 

This era of building was the beginning of the conversion of Main 
Street from a strictly residential street to one of business houses. 
Water Street had been the retail center of the borough and Main 
Street was considered too far from the river and harbor as all the 
prominent stores had their own wharves, where their packets docked 
between coasting trips. State Street also ranked as an important 
business street. Upon these two streets — State and Water — the dry- 
goods trade had thrived. However, as early as 1888 W. B. Taylor 
had a drygoods and variety store in No. 8, Exchange Place; DeFor- 
€st& Beardsley, in Moore's Block; and Hyde & Curtis in the Phoenix 
Building, next to the Connecticut Bank. In 1840 the Hawley 
Brothers occupied the former store of W. B. Taylor for the same 
business and a new drygoods firm, N. M. Johnson & Company, occu- 
pied No. 4 adjoining. DeForest & Beardsley appear to have gone 
out of business and B. C. DeForest had opened a new drygoods busi- 
ness on Wall Street next to Hyde & Curtis. The old drygoods houses 
of Hubbell & Thompson and E. Birdsey & Company still remained 
on Water Street, the latter on t"he north corner of Bank and the 
former a couple of doors above on the west side. Samuel Niles had 
a drj'goods store on the north corner of State and Water and Shel- 
ton &i Thatcher had one in the Company Block on State near Main. 
Samuel Niles soon closed out and the store was taken by Henry Hall 
for the grocery business. The year 1842 found E. Birdsey & Com- 
pany occupying No. 4, Exchange Place, the store formerly occupied 
by N. M. Johnson & Company, which latter firm had gone out of 
existence, as well as the firm of Hyde & Curtis on Wall Street, A 
new drygoods firm, Bostwick & Sherwood, had started at No. 2, Ex- 
change Place, and Hawley Brothers had removed from No. 8, 
Exchange Place, to No. 8, Sterling Place, and next to them in No. 
4 was another new drygoods firm, Sanford & Peabody. Tliis left 
only the firm of Hubbell & Thompson to represent the drygoods 
business on Water Street. 

By 1844 the old firm of Shelton & Thatcher had dissolved and the 
business was carried on by Henry Shelton, while Thatcher engaged 
in the wholesale drug trade on State Street. B. C. DeForest, who 
had removed from Wall Street to No. 4, Exchange Place, suc- 
ceeding Sanford & Peabody, seems to have turned over his business 



to A. B. Beers, who announced in the local paper that he had taken 
over the store and filled it with an entire new assortment of goods. 
DeForest issued two cards, in No. 1 stating that he wishes to "inform 
all his old friends and customers that (although imder somewhat dif- 
ferent circumstances from those in which I have been for the last 
three years) I am still at the old stand (No. 4, Exchange Place) 
under the management of Andrew B. Beers, formerly of this city, 
but more recently of New York." In card No. 2 Mr. DeForest 
strikes straight from the shoulder. "The few individuals of this city 
who always know more about their neighbors' business than they do 
their own, and who think they understand perfectly the exact causes 
of the uprisings and downfalls of their friends, are respectfully 
informed that if tliey will call upon me I can tell them as much in 
10 minutes (if it is any of their business to know) about my affairs 
as they can find out in four weeks by inquiring of this, that and the 
other individual. If anyone has any demands against me please pre- 
sent them and we will settle." 

James W. Beach opened the "One Price Store" at the "Mam- 
moth 5, Exchange Place," in the drygoods trade. B. B. Beardsley 
and Horace Olmstead opened the old store formerly occupied by E. 
Birdsey & Company at the comer of Bank and Water Streets. The 
firm named their place of business the Empire Store. 

The year 1843 brought many important changes in the trade. 
The firm of Bostwick & Sherman closed out and moved their busi- 
ness to New York City. Their successors at No. 6, Exchange Place, 
were J. Beers and John W. Oviatt. The fire of December 12th of 
this year burned out the only two drygoods stores on Water Street — 
Hubbell & Thompson and Olmstead & Keeler, which caused the 
abandonment of that street by the drj-goods merchants. 

Olmstead & Keeler afterward announced that they would reopen 
for business at No. 4, Exchange Place, which was occupied by A. B. 
Beers. Thereafter Mr. Beers appears as a dealer at No. 3, Ex- 
change Place, opposite the postoffice. The postoffiee was on the west 
side of Main Street south of the Sterling Hotel and was a one-story 
wooden building. In 1846 Samuel Niles entered the drygoods busi- 
ness on the south side of Wall Street, also opposite the City Hotel. 
About this time E. Birdsey announced that he had formed a part- 
nership with C. G. Birdsey. During the first decade of the city's 
existence the drygoods trade increased greatly and only three of the 
firms existed that were in business in 1888 — Hubbell & Thompson, 
who had moved to No. 1, Sterling Place; E. Birdsey and Henry 
Shelton. Of these Shelton was the oldest. 




Probably the first drugstore in Bridgeport was that of Thomas 
Cook Wordin, who located in the old Company Block when it was 
erected in 1818. Prior to that time his business was located a few 
rods east. The Company Block, as mentioned before, was on the 
north side of State Street at the corner of Main. In 1888 the busi- 
ness was turned over to his son, N. S. Wordin. Just when Joseph 
Thompson came from Stratford and located in the drug trade on 
Water Street between Bank and Wall cannot be said, but in 1888 
he had been active for a number of years. Mr. Thompson trained 
many men in the knowledge of his trade and made of them success- 
ful in this particular line. William B. Dyer was also one of the 
early Bridgeport druggists and continued in the business many years, 
or until the time of his death. In 18S8 he was probably located on 
Wall Street. 

One of the first pupils of Mr. Thompson was Henry Blakeman, 
who announced in 1838 that he "had taken a store opposite the 
Washington Hotel on Wall Street." In 1840 Joseph Thompson asso- 
ciated with him as partner William J. Shelton, under the firm name 
of Thompson & Shelton. Shelton also learned the drug business 
behind Thompson's counters. A little later a new drug firm, Aymar 
& Dyer, located in No, 7, Exchange Place. William B. Dyer still 
continued in business. The firm of Thompson & Shelton was dis- 
solved about 1848 and Thompson continued alone. About the same 
time the firm of H. Blakeman & Company passed out, and was suc- 
ceeded by S. P. & J. B. Tonilinson. William Shelton, after leav- 
ing the partnership with Thompson, opened a store of his own on 
Main Street. In 1844 Aymar & Dyer dissolved and the stock sold 
to Thomas Lord. Another firm, Thatcher & Company, "At the Sign 
of the Big Whale," started on Water Street in the same year. 

Thompson was burned out in the fire of December, 1845. He 
was United States Collector of the Port under President Tyler and 
on May 5, 1845, stated in the paper; "Having been Polk'd into 
private life and being perfectly resigned to my fate, I have thrown 
myself upon my 'reserved rights' and intend prosecuting the drug 
and paint business with renewed energy." Later he wrote: "The 
Eye Water business carried on as usual, but as I have no personal use 
for it myself I should like the privilege of supplying the unsuccessful 
competitors for the CoUectorship should they have need for so potent 
a remedy for affections of the eye." After the fire Thompson opened 



an office under the Connectiuct Bank, where he compounded pre- 
scriptions, being a joint tenant with William H. Noble, who had a 
law office there. This he called the Peoples' Drug Store. 

The drug trade of those days was principally the sale of patent, 
or proprietary, medicines. Every druggist had his particular brand 
of medicines and advertised that none were genuine unless bought 
of him. Like many other business men of the time the druggist was 
an agent; in other words, a particular line of goods was not sold by 
all, but by only a single one. This was considered the metropolitan 
method of conducting business then. This is largely the custom now ; 
for instance, the Rexall stores and the Nyal stores. 

John C. Blackman was among the first to locate in Exchange 
Place, occupying the south half of No. 2. Charles Youngs was at 
the same time engaged in the trade at No. 8, State Street. He had 
previously been in partnership with Levi Clark. A. Blakeman also 
worked at this business on State Street. In 1845 Fitch & Wordm 
announce themselves as engaged in the jewelry business on the "west 
side of Main Street, head of Wall, one door north of the Sterling 


Lambert Lockwood was probably the pioneer in the book busi- 
ness in Bridgeport, although book publishing was carried on here 
even before 1800. A. Fowler and J. B. Baldwin were also engaged 
in the business. S. W. Hatch in 1843 carried on a magazine agency 
in connection with a dyeing agency. B. Blakeman & Company adver- 
tised a book store in 1848. In 1844 Samuel W. Baldwin advertised 
book binding. By 1845 the book trade centered in J. B. Sanford 
and S. W. Baldwin. WilHam B. Oakley became associated with 
Sanford in September of that year. 


In 1888 the only merchant tailors in Bridgeport were William 
E. Booth and Edward Briggs, whose shop or store was on State 
Street opposite the N. S. Wordin drug store. In 1842 Booth was 
alone in the business, but in the same year William C. Gibbs & Com- 
pany opened a "New Cash Tailoring Establishment" on Water 

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Street, three doors north of Wall Street. Also S. M. Middlehrook 
advertised as a merchant tailor. C. Kelsey in 1848 claimed to be a 
"commission draper and tailor." G. C. Lewis was another engaged 
in the business at this time. By the end of the year 1846 the tailor- 
ing business was conducted in Bridgeport by S. M. Middlebrook, 
E. S. Hawley & Company, Charles Kelsey and G. W. Forbes. In 
a measure, the tailoring business had been combined with the sale 
of drygoods, there being no custom tailors such as we know now. 


During the first years of the city these articles were generally 
sold together, proving that with the dignity of city government the 
old "general store" had lost much of its caste. Business was becom- 
ing more specialized in every line^ 

In 1888 Samuel LaForge had a shop of this character at No. 2 
Phoenix Block, and Rodney Curtis at the Bridgeport Center Store, 
probably on Water Street. LaForge was succeeded by Charles Bris- 
tol. "Daniel B. Oviatt had a store at the sign of the "Big Boot," on 
the west side of Main Street. Samuel Hodges was yet in business 
as he had been for almost two score years on State. 

In 1848 E. C. Spinning was in business, but was burned out 
in the Washington Hotel on the corner of Wall and Water Streets. 
Samuel Mallett went into the business at No. 5, Exchange Place- 
in 1843. He soon disappeared from the trade, however. Meeker & 
Edwards and D. & F. Hatch were later firms, the latter the first tO' 
advertise "India rubber shoes." Henry Holt opened up in 1846 an 
the south side of Wall Street. About this time the sale of hats and 
caps began to be separated from that of boots and shoes. It appears 
that the Hatches were the only ones who- carried all four items to- 
gether continuously. George Wade appeared in 1846 as a hat and 
cap merchant exclusively. 

This trade in the early days of the borough was carried on both- 
in wholelsale and retail. The conditions of the business demanded 
that such be the case. The most of the business was a matter of bar- 
ter or the exchange of stock for farm produce, which was shipped 
by packet to New York and Boston. The wholesale trade was prin- 
cipally the taking of produce at the store. 



Charles Mallett was one of the earliest retail grocers who located 
on Main Street, where he erected a store at the foot of Cannon 
Street about 1887 and there continued in business for many years. 
The retail grocers at the time, outside of the trade center of the city, 
were very few and widely separated. In 1840 WiUial A. Olmstead 
stated that he had "opened a new cheap cash grocery store on State 
Street in the store one door east of the high school house, formerly 
occupied by Isaac Wilson." In 1848 William L. Peet moved his 
store to the corner of Main and Bank Streets, where he also carried 
on a bakery side line. 

In 1845 Levi Parrott and Herrick A. Sutton succeeded to Peet's 
business at the same stand. D. Wheeler in July, 1845, advertises at 
No. 8, Exchange Place, and in September George S. Stratton an- 
nounced that be had purchased the stock of John C. Shelton. In 
October Cornelius Benedict announced that he had closed up bis 
store in East Bridgeport and taken the store on Water Street be- 
tween Bank and State, where he intended to carry on Ibe grocery 
business on "Washingtonian principles." This meant that he would 
conduct a "temperance" store, no liquors of alcoholic content per- 
mitted to be sold. In March, 1845, J. B. Tousey started in the busi- 
ness on Wall Street. A short time afterward, though, Henry Hall 
purchased Tousey 's stock. John H. Whiting, who was burned out; 
Niles, Thorp & Company; T. Ransom & Company; Henry M, Hine; 
William G. Stevenson; H. W. Chatfield; W. W. Holcomb; Parrott 
& Sutton; Starr Beach; Burr Goodsell; Capt. Eliada Baldwin; Hall 
& Burroughs; and Edward Hubbell were other prominent grocers, 
wholesale and retail, of the time, many of whom were forced to move 
from place to place on account of the fires which were prevalent in 
the days of frame buildings. 

After abandoning the old Washington Hotel at the corner of 
Wall and Water Streets, Capt. Munson Hinman opened the City 
Hotel in the new Phoenix Block on the west corner of Wall and 
Middle Streets. This was in the spring of 1842. The Washington 
Hotel was converted to business uses, but was consumed by fire the 
same year. 

On June 27, 1842, Henry Bamum and Ehud W. Fairchild an- 
nounce as "having taken the well known and popular establishment, 
the Sterling Hotel, Main Street" and ask for patronage to the newly 



fitted hostelry. On March 15, 1845, Philo F. Barnum, who was the 
landlord of the Bridgeport Hotel, northwest corner of State and 
Main, announced that hereafter he would conduct only a strict tem- 
perance house. At this period the Washingtonian principles were 
strongly in force in Bridgeport, although it is an acknowledged fact 
that the temperance hotels, even then, did not fare so well financially 
as did those permitting intoxicating liquors on the premises. In 
1846 George S. Wells, whose oyster saloon and boarding house was 
burned in the fire of the previous December, announced that he had 
charge of the Franklin House, which was formerly the Bridgeport 
Hotel, and had changed it to an anti-temperance house. As he 
stated; "The Bar is removed to the basement, where refreshments 
of all kinds. Oysters, Ice Cream, etc., can be obtained at all reason- 
able hours. On the second floor the proprietor has fitted up his rooms 
with special reference to the accommodation of pleasure parties. It 
is his wish to make his upper saloons a place of fashionable resort, 
and ladies and gentlemen will find the rooms cool and agreeable, the 
refreshments the best quality, and the strictest order will be main- 

The P. F. Barnum mentioned above was a half brother of P T- 
Barnum and a cousin of Henry Barnum. 


In the early '40s L. & L. B. Sterling, Porter, Booth & Company, 
and Lockwood & Zane monopolized the business of selling crockery, 
glass and tinware and stoves. The principal place of business of the 
Porter, Booth & Company was on the later site of the City National 
Bank Building. L. & L. B. Sterling were on the south corner of 
^Vater and Bank streets, but were burned out in December, 1845, 
and thereupon dissolved. Lockwood & Zane were on Water Street, 
the second door north of Bank. They also were burned out in 1845, 
but afterward resumed business. 

Edwin Porter, Wyllys Lyon, Thomas Hawley and David N. 
Hawley were the principal hardware dealers of the day. Edwin 
Wood, Frederick Lockwood, Nathan Buckingham, Sterling & Hub- 
bell, D. D. Lockwood & Company and Thomas E. Waite dealt a 
great deal in furniture and upholstering during this business era. 
Charles Bostwick, Gregory & Company, J. B. Merritt and Roswell 
Lewis were coal dealers and Z. Sanford & Company, A. Hawley & 
Company and Hawley & Smith were lumber dealers. Stone and 



marble was carried by John S. Benham and Stephen Silliman, also 
William S. Atkinson. The iron trade was apparently ccoifined to 
Brooks & Lewis and Sherwood Sterling, both firms being located on 
the east side of Water Street below Wall. Robert Linen was a brick 
manufacturer and the- only one within the city limits. Pearl H. 
Sperry, Elisha Hubbell and Moses Mills were engaged in the novel 
trade of installing patent cement cisterns. 


It is a regretable fact that Bridgeport's commercial history can- 
not be traced in detail from 1850 until 1917, but very quickly after 
the days described in the foregoing paragraphs business houses and 
all kinds of trade establishments multiplied here in such numbers 
that the task of enumerating them would be impossible. From the 
meager beginnings described, however, some of the largest mercan- 
tile establishments now in Bridgeport have grown and the principal 
ones of these have been described separately in Volume II of this 

It has been the purpose in dealing so minutely with the early busi- 
ness of the city — in the village and borough days as well — to show 
the character of the trades, the identities of the individuals, and the 
difference in old methods as compared to the present, also the char- 
acter of the products sold. Business was not then based upon the 
solid foundation as it now is, as shown by the many enterprises, the 
changing partnerships, etc. Business then might have been called a 
neighborhood affair entirely. A man did not hesitate to sell goods 
for a time, then sell out completely, rest awhile, purchase a small 
stock of some kind of goods and go back into active business life. 
Now it would take years to reinstate oneself in the commercial life 
of the community were such a procedure followed, but then it was 
simply a ease of inserting a card in the columns of the local news- 
paper announcing that business had been resumed at the old stand 
or elsewhere. 



If a Bridgeport citizen were asked the question: "Why has the 
City of Bridgeport doubled her population every decade for the last 
twenty years?" he would, without doubt, credit the phenomenon to 
tlie marvelous growth of the city's manufacturing. This has been the 
chief and foremost reason for the transformation of Bridgeport from 
a small city of 48,866 people in 1890 to a city of 178,000 in 1917, thus 
making her the largest community in the state and one of the largest 
in New England. There are other factors which have contributed to 
this change, it is true, but to the above the predominance of credit must 
be given. Increased transportation facilities, larger foreign immigra- 
tion and bigger markets have affected the city materially, but these 
very facts are themselves attributable to the growth of manufacturing. 

The Bridgeport citizen is a man of indomitable energy, keen per- 
ceptive powers, strong courage and modern ideas, and to him is due 
many things which have become a part of Bridgeport within the last 
ten years. His work is well expressed in the Bridgeport Chamber of 
Commerce, an organization devoted to the problems of business life 
and to the securing of adequate co-operation in solving the same. In 
the Bridgeport Progress, the chamber of commerce publication, issue 
of June 1, 1917, is the following paragraph relative to the manufac- 
turing interests of the city : 

"The tax assessments on the list of 1916 as compared with those 
of 1915 show the remarkable growth of Bridgeport's manufacturing 
facilities in the course of a twelvemonth. In 1915 the assessed value 
of mills and manufactories was $17,479,478. On the tax list of 191f 
these appear as $19,268,724, showing an increase of $1,784,246. This 
means a permanent solid enduring addition to Bridgeport's commer- 
cial facilities in manufacturing. A similar phenomenal increase is 
shown in the city's investments in mechanical and manufacturing 
operations. This investment was, in 1915, $25,587,952. For 1916 
the figures show $36,374,086. This increase of $10,886,134 in the 



amount invested in manufacturing operations gives a faint idea of 
the progress which Bridgeport has made as a manufacturing center." 

In 1917 the principal industry of the City of Bridgeport is the 
manufacture of munitions and ordnance. The World War, with its 
stupendous demand for military supplies, has caused this branch of 
Bridgeport's manufactories to grow with unprecedented speed. To 
use an unneutral figure, appropriate if not acceptable, Bridgeport has 
been called the "Essen of America." More of the munition works 
of the city will be told in a later paragraph. 

Before reviewing the present-day factories, something must be 
said of the first industries of Bridgeport, the small beginnings of 
■ diflFerent manufacturing enterprises on the Pequonnock. 


The first industrial enterprises of Bridgeport were not inaugu- 
rated for the purpose of promoting the growth of the city, but to 
supply the most urgent needs of the people. 

Hat manufacturing was among the earliest of these efforts. 
Thomas Gouge came here in 1792 and began his business' in a shop 
on the comer of Middle and Beaver streets. Reuben Tweedy came 
from Danbury in the year 1798 and followed the same trade; his 
brother, Smith Tweedy, joined him soon after. Their shops were 
on Middle Street, north of Beaver. (Beaver Street is now Fairfield 
Avenue.) They first made hats of fur bodies for the New York 
markets, but later machinery' was secured for manufacturing wool 
bodies, napped with fur and termed "napped" hats. Gouge em- 
ployed a half dozen men, while the Tweedy brothers carried on a 
larger business, having from twelve to twenty men in their employ, 
aside from apprentices. They opened a branch house at Charleston, 
S. C, and another in Pittsburg, Pa.; the former was soon aban- 

Samuel Hawley, Jr., who learned the trade from his uncle, 
Nathan Seeley, of Bethel, operated on Main Street near Gold for 
a short time, his career cut short by death in 1826, when he was but 
a young man. George Wade, formerly an apprentice, purchased 
the business of Smith Tweedy in 1826 and after two years sold out 
again to Curtis Beardsley. In 1880 Wade bought the place of Reu- 
ben Tweedy and then the firm became Beardsley & Wade. Among 
their employes was a man named Gilson Landon, who was an expert 
in the manufacture of silk hats. In this way the firm introduced 



this feature into Bridgeport. In 1837 Wade sold out his interests 
to Landon, then the iirm of Beardsley & Landon continued until 
1841. At this juncture the business was closed in Bridgeport, 

The manufacture of pewter ware was another early industry of 
Bridgeport and was conducted on the site of the old mill at Old Mil! 
Green. B. and W. Stillman & Company, composed of Benjamin 
and Wyllys Stillman and Capt. Nathan Sherman, purchased the 
old mill site in 1814, then without a building standing, and there 
erected a mill, where they engaged in the manufacture of pewter 
cups, spoons, plates, forks, knives and buttons. ' Sherman shortly 
withdrew from the company, then there was added the making of 
syringes and other smaU articles of pewter. The business of wool- 
carding was later added, and still later, cloth dressing. Then an- 
other side line — the cutting of dye woods for market — was intro- 

The manufacture of shirts occupied a prominent place among the 
pioneer Bridgeport industries. This business was begun here in 
1836 by, it is believed, David and Isaac N. Judson. They owned a 
clothing store in New York City, with a separate department for 
shirts. Here shirts were cut out and sent to their sister, Caroline 
Judson, of Old Mill Green, who gave them to the women of the 
vicinity, who in turn sewed the pieces together, laundered them, and 
returned them to be sold at retail. Shortly this business grew to 
such an extent that some sort of organization became necessary. 
Wyllys Stillman became the superintendent and the 'work was con- 
ducted in the mill building at the head of Pembroke Lake, which 
was used for many years as a storehouse and laundrj'. The new 
superintendent gave the work out to the women of the community, 
but later entered the business for himself, doing his own advertis- 
ing and traveling. W. M. Stillman, who served his apprenticeship 
in the Judson establishment in New York, prepared the first pat- 
terns, cut them, sent them out and received the finished work. 

Thaddeus Barnes came here from New Haven in 1849 and 
began the manufacture of shirts for C. B. Hatch & Company, of 
New York, at 360 Main Street. In 1853-4 Barnes constructed the 
original building of what later became the Burlock Shirt Factory 
on Golden Hill. The springs of soft water on the hill, which were 
ideal for laundering purpcjses, attracted him there. He also intro- 
duced the use of Wheeler & Wilson sewing machines and was the 
first to apply steam power for running them. C. B. Hatch & Com- 
pany took over the factory in 1858 and operated it until 1861. 



The manufacture of leather was established in Bridgeport about 
1845, when S. J. Patterson commenced to make patent leather to 
meet the demand for carriage tops, boots and trimmings. In 1849 
he was joined hy Stephen Tomlinson and together they formed the 
Bridgeport Patent Leather Company. 

House furniture was made in Bridgeport from the earliest days. 
High post bedsteads, high back chairs, cupboards were luxuries, so 
necessarily the iirst articles of furniture made were plain beds, chairs, 
tables and drawer-chests. The humble cabinet-maker and wood- 
worker first made the furniture, also the evet needed cofiin, made of 
cherry or white wood, of conventional shape, and with a name-plate 
tacked on the Ud with brass-headed tacks. 

The first known cabinet-maker in Bridgeport was William H. 
Peabody. Lemuel Hubbell followed the trade here for many years 
alone, using a windmill to turn his lathe. F. W. Parrott learned 
the trade from Hubbell and is given credit for making the first sofa 
in Bridgeport. A New York man named Finch occupied a large 
shop on Main Street south of State for a few years. About the same 
period WilUam B. Thomas was in the same business on Bank Street, 
with Fenelon Hubbell as his apprentice. Hubbell afterwards- joined 
Parrott and they established a shop and salesroom on Main Street 
about where Cannon now enters. Carlos Curtis succeeded to Thomas' 
business and enlarged the shop on Bank Street. Parrott later started 
anew on North Washington Avenue and Hubbell and Curtis went 
in together. Parrott later still changed his business to the making 
of varnish. Frederick Lockwood and Nathan Buckingham com- 
menced the business together in 1888, which quickly grew to one of 
the largest manufacturing plants of Bridgeport then. 

Carriage making was another early industry. Prior to 1833 it 
was confined to the small establishments of Carier & Porter on 
JMiddle Street and Mott & Burr on Clinton, near the comer of North 
Avenue. Stephen Tomlinson, David A. Wood and Jeremiah Judson 
went together and erected a factory on Broad Street, near the head 
of Cannon, at that time and there conducted a highly successful 
business. About 1884 the first steam power was used in connection 
with the carriage business. David and Ebenezer Wheeler put up a 
James engine, a sugar-loaf boiler, in two parts, with conical top, 
and kept in place by its own weight. Iljott & Burr then moved to 
State Street and enlarged their business. Other firms in this line of 
manufacture were; Haight; Hurd, Fairchild & Company; Burr & 



Haight; George Keeler; the Union Carriage Company; Brewster & 
Company; Haight & Hubbell; and the Messrs. Nichols. 

Saddlery manufachire began here before the nineteenth cen- 
tury. William Peet, an early settler, was a tanner and saddle maker. 
His home was on State Street and his tannery stood on Broad Street, 
west side, between John and Cannon. That he established his tan- 
nery before 1800 is proved by the fact that Sheldon Smith, of Derby, 
bom in 1701. entered as an apprentice in 1805 and soon after became 
a partner. 

William Wright was another early saddler. In 1816 the firm of 
Smith & Wright was established in a store on the wharf at the end 
of the Bridgeport Bridge. Hanford Lyon came from Danbury to 
Bridgeport and began the saddlery business in the second story of 
the new block then at the comer of Main and State streets. He was 
joined by Lemuel Coleman. Afterwards the Fairchild brothers of 
Tnmibull, who were manufacturers of saddle trees, joined Lyon in 
the business here. The Fairchilds owned two stores on the east side 
of Water Street near the foot of Wall and into one of these the firm 
of Fairchild, Lyon & Company moved. Between this firm and that 
of Smith & Wright a vigorous rivalry arose, which resulted in a 
compromise in 1821, whereupon the latter firm removed to Newark, 
N. J., and the former remained in Bridgeport. A''>oit 1828 the 
Fairchilds retired from the saddlery business and the firm was changed 
to Lyon, Wright & Company. Wright retained only a small interest, 
which was represented by H. K. Harral, who afterward acquired 
the same. A short time after 1887 Harral was one of the principal 
owners. Other saddlery firms were: Seth B. Jones & Company; 
I. and L. Sherman; Levi Hawley; Wade, Crosby & Company; and 
S. F. Hurd & Company. 

The mechanical industries were well represented in Bridgeport, 
particularly during the '40s. On May 16, 1842, under the head of 
"New Arrangement," it was announced in the papers that "David 
Wheeler, having taken into co-partnership Levi Parrott, the foundry 
and machine business will be in future conducted under the name of 
D. Wheeler & Company. Having experienced workmen in both 
our foundry and machine shop, we are prepared to furnish those 
who favor us with their patronage with castings and machinery 
manufactured in a superior manner. Steam engines and boilers, 
mill gearing of every description, horse power threshing machines, 
and every kind of work in our line. Constantly on hand, horse and 
ox plows, plow castings, cart and wagon boxes, oven mouths, sinks, 



well pulleys, sash weights, etc." Their place was called the Bridge- 
port Foundry and was located near the railroad depot. 

On June 5, 1845, Bbenezer Wheeler advertised as a machinist 
and axletree manufacturer. His shop was on Cannon Street. 

On January 1, 1846, there was announced the organization of 
the Spring Perch Company, with a capital of $25,000, for the pur- 
pose of manufacturing "Tomlinson's Patent Spring Perdi for car- 
riages." Eli {Gilbert, Joseph C. Lewis, Samuel W. Phelps and 
Edwin Porter, Jr., were share holders in this concern. On Januarj' 
10th the dissolution of the partnership was announced by Eli Gilbert 
and George Sterling. At the same time it was advertised "That the 
Spring Perch Company having purchased of Eli Gilbert his man- 
ufacturing establishment at Bridgeport, and also the patent right 
for manufacturing Tomlinson's Patent Spring Perches for carriages, 
are now prepared to succeed him in said business." It is probable 
that Joseph C. Lewis purchased Sterling's interest in the firm of E. 
Gilbert & Company and that the business was converted into a joint 
stock corporation. Sterling sold out to accept the position of treas- 
urer of the Bridgeport Savings Bank and Lewis at the same time 
sold out to Brooks & Lewis, iron merchants on Water Street. 

On April 7, 1846, the partnership heretofore existing between 
Stephen Tomlinson, David A. Wood, Russell Tomlinson and Fred- 
crick Wood was dissolved. On April 1st the joint stock company 
of Tomlinson, Wood & Company, with a capital stock of $100,000, 
was organized. It was announced: "The object for which this com- 
pany is formed is for the purpose of manufacturing and dealing in 
carriages and all articles of merchandise connected with the same." 
The corporation was located on the. southwest corner of Broad and 
Canon streets. Mr. Tomlinson withdrew and the firm became 
Wood Brothers, and did a large business till 1879, when it was suc- 
ceeded by the firm of Hincks & Johnson. 

This leads up to the period of the '70s and '80s, when the City 
of Bridgeport began to expand in manufacturing. Some of the 
large concerns, such as the Warners Brothers Corset Manufactory, 
had been established, but there were many other companies engaged 
in business, which have either been absorbed into present day cor- 
porations or else went out of business altogether. There was the 
Bridgeport Corset Company, the proprietors of which were: I. W. 
Birdsey and Company. They occupied at first a room 'in the Howe 
Manufacturing Company, until the fire of December, 1883, when 
they moved to what was known as the Frary Cutlery Building. 



About three hundred persons were employed in this factory and 
their capacity was about one hundred and fifty corsets per day. 

The Thomson, Langdon & Company were manufacturers of cor- 
sets also. The proprietors were; Charles H. Langdon and W. A. 
Nettleton. The company was established in 1876. The plant was 
located at the corner of Railroad and Myrtle avenues and about three 
hundred and fifty hands were employed. 

H. W. Lyon was a corset manufacturer at 88 Middle Street. He 
began business January 1, 1885, making the "Crown" corset. He 
had ventured in 1880 to try the trade for himself, after being em- 
ployed with the Thomson, Langdon & Company. 

Jerome B. Secor manufactured sewing machines on the corner of 
Broad Street and Railroad Avenue. He came to this city in the fall 
of 1870 from Chicago, III., with the Secor Machine Company. 
This company was dissolved in 1876 and he continued to manufac- 
ture machines in hiff-own name. He employed about one hundred 

The Bridgeport Paper Box Company was located at 76 Middle 
Street and was established January 1, 1877. The firm consisted of 
E. L. White of Bridgeport and E.'w. Smith of Waterbury. 

Ives, Blakeslee & Company were manufacturers of toys and nov- 
elties and were located on the corner of Broad Street and Railroad 
Avenue. The company was established by E. R. Ives and Cornelius 
Blakeslee in the spring of 1868. In 1880 E. G. WUliams of New 
York was added to the firm. 

B. McGovern was a prominent manufacturer of tools and ma- 
chines. He was a machinist, dye maker, and manufacturer of auto- 
matic and special machinery. He also made Brook's Patent Com- 
bination Padlock and Reinhardt's Numbering Machine. He made 
a number of articles of his own invention, including the "safety stir- 
rup" and "Cowboy's friend," also the "anti-rattlers." His shop was 
located at the corner of Noble and Sterling streets. 

The Bridgeport Knife Company was organized in 1876 and was 
located on East Washington Avenue and Hallett Street. They man- 
ufactured table knives and forks in many styles. Their business 
extended to many ports over the world. 

Glover Sanford & Sons were hat manufacturers at 318 Crescent 
Avenue. The members of the company came from Bridgewater, 
Conn., where the elder had manufactured hats from the year 1828. 
In 1877 they purchased the site and buildings known as the Williams 
Silk Mills and there constructed their buildings. Although this was 



one of the best protected factories in Connecticut, having a sprinkler 
system, the whole plant was later destroyed by fire, an account of 
which may be found in another chapter. 

The Bridgeport Power Company, which was on the comer of 
Water Street and South Avenue, manufactured squares, also fur- 
nished power and space for other manufactories. In this building 
was located the Bridgeport Tack Works, which was established in 
September, 1884, by E. Gowdy. W. E. Fitzgerald, established 1884, 
manufactured button hooks and other specialties in the same build- 
ing. Here also was the Diamond Saw Company and the Compressed 
Paper Box Company. The latter company was started here on 
December 1, 1888, with a capital stock of $50,000. Amos S. Treat, 
W. E. Baillie and Jonathan Godfrey were prominent in this con- 

The Ashecroft Manufacturing Company came to Bridgeport 
from Boston and during the winter of 1885 erected a building. They 
specialized in the manufacture of brass goods. 

The Knapp and Cowles Manufacturing Company were the suc- 
cessors to the Cowles Hardware Company, and they to David A. 
Keys. The latter was the first manufacturer in America of the minc- 
ing knife. The Knapp and Cowles Company came to Bridgeport 
and began the erection of a factorj- on Railroad Avenue and Garden 
Street in July, 1884, and in November began business. They made 
screw drivers of all kinds, the mincing knife with twenty-four vari- 
eties, garden tools, clothes line hooks, awls, carpet stretchers, etc. 

The David M. Read & Company, although merchants, were 
prominent carpet manufacturers. Mr. Read, with his brother, Charles 
A., began the manufacture of ingrain carpets with two hand looms, 
located on Water Street. Afterwards they purchased a location on 
Middle Street and increased the business until they were running 
twenty looms. A stock company was formed, known as the Read 
Carpet Company, with a first eaiptal of $55,000. 

The Bridgeport Malleable Iron Company was located at the cor- 
ner of Railroad Avenue and South Street. This business was first 
established in Bridgeport by Henry Atwater, from Naugatuck. In 
January, 1879, a stock company was formed. The company manu- 
factured malleable and gray iron castings. 

The Bridgeport Organ Company, located on the comer of Rail- 
road Avenue and Hancock, was established June 1, 1877, by J. T. 
Patterson. Organs and other musical instruments were made, many 
of them by special orders. 



The W. B. Bostwick & Company manufactured vegetable ivory 
buttons. Bostwick came here from New Milford in 18t84 and formed 
a partnership with D. B. Seward. 

The Standard Card and Paper Company was established June 
1, 1884, with a capital of $5,000. 

The Bridgeport Silk Company was started October 1, 1882, with 
M. C. Patterson as proprietor and manager. He manufactured 
dress, carriage, umbrella and upholstering silks, also specialties. 

The Cornwall and Patterson Manufacturing Company were 
established the first of October, 1879, and made piano and organ 
hardware, also baseball goods. J. B. Cornwall was president and 

The Bridgeport Steel Cutlery Company began in March, 1886, 
and made shoe shanks, nails and general steel work. 

The Wilmot & Hobbs Manufacturing Company, comer of Rail- 
road and Hancock avenues, was established in October, 1884, with 
a capital stock of $125,000. They manufactured cold rolled iron in 
all forms, carriage axle boxes, steel bells and gongs, bicycle rims and 
felloes, and many other articles. In 1901 this company was ab- 
sorbed by the American Tube & Stamping Company of Bridgeport. 

The Pembroke Iron Foundry, manufacturers of gray iron cast- 
ings, was located on the corner of Barnum and Hallett streets. In 
March, 1872, this company was located here, occupying a complete 
square. The plant was started under the firm name of Wilson, Par- 
sons & Company. In 1881 Robert K. Parsons and Anson H. Lan- 
don became the owners. 

The Hatch Brothers Company, devoted to the manufacture of 
pocket cutlery, novelties, dies and tools, was established by Messrs. 
Sackley and Undy in 1885, and was purchased by G. C. Hatch later 
in the same year. The company was located at the comer of Rail- 
road and Norman. 

The Chaplin Manufacturing Company, started in 1886, was lo- 
cated near the depot, there making anti-friction bearings for machin- 
ery and horse-cars. 

The Follansbee Machine Works was begun January 1, 1884. The 
proprietor, John S. Follansbee, made light machinery on orders. 

The Coulter and McKenzie Machine Company occupied part of 
a building at the north end of the depot and did a general machine 

Giles and Clancey's Iron Foundry was located at the comer of 
Water and Golden Hill streets and was established in January, 1876. 



John Hamilton started the making of plwnbers' brass goods here 
in January, 1871> and was located at the comer of Middle Street and 
Golden Hill. 

Hotcbkiss and Malliband were on the same comer with Hamilton, 
coming in 1885. They made fancy colored leathers. 

J. Neal, also on the comer of Middle and Golden Hill, came in 
1883. He manufactured white metal and britannia goods, especially 
cane and umbrella heads. 

The Watson Iron Works, Bast Bridgeport, was established on 
January 1, 1884<, succeeding James Watson, Jr., who had been here 
four years. The company made castings and iron toys. 

The House Corset Machine Company was incorporated Janu- 
arj- 1, 1888, succeeding J. Alfred House. The manufactured prod- 
ucts were corset machinery and embroidery work for corset compa- 
nies. An extensive export trade was conducted with England, 
Ireland, France and Germany. 

The B. Goodman Manufacturing Company was established in 
1886 for the manufacture of elastic webbing, suspenders, buckles and 
similar goods. The plant was located on Knowlton Street. 

The Holmes and Edwards Silver Company was incorporated in- 
1882 and were manufacturers of flat ware alone. 

Couch & Wisner were makers of ladies' and children's fine shoes. 
This business was established in 1870 by Ansel H. Couch, on Fairfield 
Avenue, and in 1878 Wisner became a partner. The business was 
continued on Fairfield Avenue until 1881, when a removal was made 
to the factory at 430 Water Street. » 

The Farist Steel Company was organized at Windsor Locks. 
Conn., in 1860, but in 1872 removed to Bridgeport, locating at the 
southern end of East Main. The company made all kinds of 
steel, hammered and rolled spiral and elliptic car springs and pat- 
tern railroad forging. 

The Pacific Iron Works, P. H. Skidmore & Sons, was established 
as a stock company in 1853, in which form it remained until 1860. 
when Skidmore came into possession of the plant. The business con- 
sisted of steam engine building, boiler making, iron founding and 
machine work. 

The Eaton, Cole and Bumham Company was a very prominent 
manufacturing institution of the '80s. E. G. Bumham was the 
founder of the business, coming here in 1860, soon afterward engag- 
ing in the manufacture of brass and iron valves, also goods used for 
steam, water and gas. In 1873 the business had grown to such an 

Digitized byGOOgIC 


extent that he associated with the firm of Eaton & Cole, of New 
York, similar manufacturers. This plant was located on Water 
Street, through to Main Street, and employed over five hundred 

The Bridgeport Cart Company was established in the city in 
1888 by F. L. Perry, the inventor. 

The Bridgeport Button Works, which were located at 249 Water 
Street, was established in 1864 and was a stock company until 1868, 
when James E. Donnelley bought it, changing it from a "company" 
to a "works." 

The Bridgeport Spring Company, Main Street and East Wash- 
ington Avenue, made carriage and wagon springs of all kinds. The 
company was incorporated in 1864. 

The Bridgeport Forge Company was organized in January, 1883, 
with a capital of $150,000 and was located at the foot of Howard 
Avenue. Charles H. Pierce was president; William F. Pinkham, 
secretary and treasurer; and Benjamin Fletcher, Jr., superintendent. 
They manufactured wrought iron and steel forgings of all kinds. 

Other industries of the period were: The Bridgeport Paper 
Company, 1883; Wheel and Wood Bending Company; Wales Wheel 
Company; Bridgeport Coach Lace Company; Bridgeport Elastic 
Webb Company; and the Bridgeport Copper Company. 

The Bridgeport Boiler Works were established by Humphrey, 
Watson & Company in 1866 and continued so imtil the death of Mr. 
Humphrey in 1872, when the firm became Lowe & Watson. The 
company made boilers for propelling steam engines, making a spe- 
cialty of the Lowe boiler and feed water heater. 

Greenwood & Arnold, on Cannon Street, were manufacturers of 
cans. They came here from New York in 1883. 

The American Photograph Company was organized in 1867 by 
F. W. Smith, D. H. Hollister and B. K. Mills. By permission of the 
secretarj' of the United States Treasury they made photographic 
copies of all U. S. paper money to be used in "Naramore's Bank Note 
Detector." R. C. Naramore was photographer and George C. 
\\'aldo, superintendent. Their place was on Cannon Street. 

The Monumental Bronze Company was organized and established 
in Bridgeport in 1874, and was located on the comer of Barnum and 
ITallett streets. 

The Joseph Keller and Company, makers of square and upright 
pianos, was established here in 1884, and occupied quarters in the 
coach lace factory. 



Hincks & Johnson were manufacturers of heavy carriages, such 
as coaches, landaus, coupes, hansoms, etc., and were estabhshed m 
the city on Broad Street in May, 1879, as successors to Wood Broth- 
ers. David Wood, one of the former owners, was one of the 
first makers of heavy carriages in this country, beginning in 1828 
under the firm name of Tomlinson, Wood and Company. 

The White Manufacturing Company first made coach lamps, 
carriage mountings and hardware. This business was started in 1882 
by Rippen and Sturges, who were succeeded by George Rippen, he 
by White and Bradley, and then Thomas P. White & Company. 
This firm was merged into the White Manufacturing Company, 
which was organized as a joint stock company in 1861, with a capi- 
tal of $40,000. 


It is the purpose in presenting this review of the present day 
manufactories in Bridgeport to give a comprehensive description of 
the principal features of each. In some cases only meager descrip- 
tion is possible, due to the lack of facts, in each case unavoidable, 
while in other cases the history of the manufacturing company has 
been prepared or edited by the company itself. For reasons of con- 
venience the factories are presented in alphabetical order. 

The Acme Shear Company was established in Bridgeport in Sep- 
tember, 1882, with a capital stock of $5,000. The product of this 
plant at first consisted of shears of all description, nut crackers, ice 
picks, lemon squeezers and kindred products, also Wilson's patent 
screwdriver. From the first a large export trade was conducted. In 
1917 this factory, located at Knowlton, Hicks and Joseph streets, 
is the largest shear manufactory in the United States. The com- 
pany was incorporated in 1882 and now has a capital stock of $500,- 
000. The officers are: Dwight Wheeler, president; Frederick D. 
Baker, vice president; David C. Wheeler, treasurer; Dwight C. 
Wheeler, secretary and assistant treasurer. 


The Weed Chain Tire Grip Company was incorporated in 1906 
with a capital of $10,000 to manufacture Weed Tire Chains. 

In the development of the practical details of the business on n 
basis consistent with the increased distribution of Weed Tire Chains, 



it soon became necessary to establish a distinct manufacturing depart- 
mt*nt to deal with problems peculiar to their actual production. This 
was accomplished in 1912 through the formation of the American 
Chain Company, Inc., at Bridgeport, under the same ownership and 
management as the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company. 

The American Chain Company, Inc., was capitalized at $750,000, 
and based its organization on the purchase of the chain business of 
the Oneida Community, Ltd., Oneida, N. Y., and the Cleve- 
land Wire Goods Company, Cleveland, Ohio. A few months later 
the Canadian chain business of the Oneida Community, Ltd., was 
acquired and then in 1913 the Dominion Chain Company, Ltd., was 
formed to take care of Canadian and export business. Two years 
later the American Chain Company became the proprietors of tlie 
Bridgeport Electro Plate Company and the Bridgeport Metal Treat- 
ing Company. 

Finally in January, 1916, the American Chain Company, Inc.. 
absorbed the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company and accordingly in- 
creased its capital to. $4,000,000. A few months later the organiza- 
tion assumed world-wide proportions by reaching across the Atlantic 
and acquiring the Parsons Non-Skid Company, Ltd., of London, 
England. This action was followed in December, 1916, by the pur- 
chase of the Standard Chain Company, Pittsburgh, Pa., a concern 
owning and operating seven factories and a rolling mill. 

The American Chain Company, Inc., now has a capital of 
$10,000,000; has factories throughout the United States, in Canada 
and England, and is the largest chain manufacturer in the world; 
and has its sales offices in Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, 
London and Paris. 


No history of Bridgeport and its notable development along 
industrial and manufacturing lines would be complete without 
extended reference to the American Graphophone Company, which 
had its inception in Washington, D. C, in 1888. The graphophone 
was invented in the Volta laboratory in 1886 by Dr. Chichester Bell, 
brother of Alexander Graham Bell, tlie inventor of the telephone, 
and Prof. Charles Sumner Tainter, a scientist. This was the first 
practical talking machine. Its possibilities were recognized and led 
to the organization of tlie American Graphophone Company, as indi- 
cated. The growth of the business is almost a matter of marvel. 



The plant at Bridgeport today includes llV^ acres of ground spnce 
practically covered by buildings. One of the newer buildings is. a 
six-stor>' structure 60 by 324 feet. The other buildings are three 
and four stories in height. Part of these are of mill construction, 
all are fireproof and are supplied with sprinkler system. The east 
plant covers 6I/2 acres and is of reinforced concrete. The main 
building is a three-story structure 410 by 80 feet, devoted exclu- 
sively to grinding the record material. Pressing and shipping facil- 
ities utilize over one hundred thousand square feet of floor space. 
The new power plant includes a steam plant, a refrigerating plant 
and necessary' equipment and there is electrical installation for using 
local power. They use the steam for heating and manufacturing. 
Their employes number 6,000, 25 per cent highly skilled labor and 
50 per cent semi-skilled labor, while the others are engaged in ordi- 
narj' clerical and kindred work. Twenty per cent of the employes 
are girls. The company manufactures the machines and the records 
in this plant and the cabinets are made by fifteen cabinet factories, 
employing about six thousand people in all. There are also addi-' 
tional plants for the manufacture of records in Toronto, Canada, in 
I^ondon, England, and in Brazil. The plant is rapidly doubling its 
output, for the product is now sold throughout the entire world. The 
plant will soon have a capacity of 400,000 records per day. The 
recording department is at No. 101 West Thirty-eighth Street, New 
York, but the work is developed at Bridgeport. The general and 
sales offices are also in New York. The business is capitalized for 
$10,000,000, of which $4,806,830 is issued. The president of the 
company is Francis S. Whitten; P. T. Dodge is chairman of board 
of directors. The vice presidents are C. W. Woddrop and F. J. 
Warburton, the latter the treasurer of the Mergenthaler Linotype 
Company. The secretary and treasurer is C. W. Woddrop and the 
general manager is John Cromelin, who has been with the company 
since its organization. The directors of the company are Edward 
N. Bums Charles W. Cox, Philip T. Dodge, Mortimer D. Easton, 
William M. Johnson, Edward V. Murphy, John J. Phelps, David 
St. John, F. J. Warburton, Beekman Winthrop and Van Horn Ely. 
The American Tube & Stamping Company was incorporated on 
June 20, 1899, and at present has a capital stock of $2,800,000. The 
officers of this corporation are: C. D. S. Sliller, president; C. G. San- 
ford, vice president and treasurer; P. S. Hill, secrelarj-; and Arthur 
N. Wheeler, assistant treasurer. The plant, which is one of the 
largest and best equipped in Bridgeport, is established on Hancock 



Avenue. The product of this manufactory is composed of open- 
hearth steel billets, hot and cold rolled hoop, band, strip and bar 
steel, nickel-plated steel stove trimmings, rims for automobiles and 
cycles, etc. In 1901 tliis company absorbed the Wilmot & Hobbs 
Manufacturing Company. This latter named company was estab- 
lished in 1877 by the late S. R. Wihnot. A few years later he gave 
an interest in the production of steel to his son-in-law, Mr. Hobbs, 
when the firm became Wilmot, Hobbs & Company. In 1884 the 
business was incorporated under the title of Wihnot & Hobbs Manu- 
facturing Company and in 1894! Hobbs sold out his interest. The 
plant, even before its absorption into the Tube & Stamping Com- 
pany, was one of the largest of its kind in the country, using thou- 
sands of tons of steel eacli year and employing an army of men. 

The American and British Manufacturing Company, located at 
718 Crescent Avenue, was incorporated May 23, 1902, in New York 
as the American Machine and Ordnance Company. The name was 
changed to the present form November 28th of the same year. The 
product of this plant, as suggested by the title, consists of guns, 
ammunition, steam and oil engines, auto and marine motors. Offices 
are maintained in Providence and New York. George W. Hoadley, 
of New York, is tlie president of the company, and W. E. White, 
of Providence, is the treasurer. 

The Max Ams Machine Company, of Bridgeport, located at the 
foot of Scofield Avenue, manufactures power presses and sanitary 
can making machinery. The company was incorporated in 1911 and 
is officered by the following: Charles M. Ams, New York, president 
and treasurer; Julius F. Brenzinger, vice president; Emil A. Ams, 


In 1870 Frank Armstrong and Henry House established The 
Armstrong & House Mfg. Co. for the manufacture of knitting 
machines and spiral spring goods. This business was soon afterwards 
taken over by F. Armstrong and carried on under his own name until 
1886, when it was incorporated under the name of The Armstrong 
Mfg. Co. The incorporators were Frank Armstrong, Chas. H. 
Armstrong and John J. Amory, who became secretary and treas- 
urer. The company continued the manufacture of the Armstrong 
stocks and dies, and other tools, in which a very successful business 
had been established by F. Armstrong, both at home and abroad. 



In 1888 Mr. Amory withdrew from the corporation, selling his 
interest to Mrs. Elizabeth Armstrong, who at the death of her hufi- 
band in 1898 became the president of the company. At the retire- 
ment of Mr. Amory, Chas. H. Armstrong was elected secretary and 
treasurer, which office he still holds. In 1907 Mrs. Armstrong died 
and David N. Armstrong became president of the corporation. 

The goods made by The Armstrong Mfg. Co. are used in all 
parts of the world. 

The Artistic Bronze Company, 2050 Fairfield Avenue, was in- 
corporated in January, 1903, and has a capital stock of $40,000. The 
officers are; Dr. J. W. Wright, president; William Winthrop 
Wright, vice president and general manager; Earnest V. Shaw, sec- 
retary and treasurer. The company manufactures cabinet and build- 
ers' hardware, brass articles of all kinds, and the sanitary ice cream 
cone holder. 

Something has been said of the Ashcnoft Manufacturing Com- 
pany coming here from Boston in 1885 and erecting a factory build- 
ing. This company has grown steadily since that time and now is 
caiptalized for $200,000. A. J. Babcock, of New York, is presi- 
dent; E. M. Moore, secretary; and George D. Branston, treasurer. 

The Automatic Machine Company, 118 East Washington Ave- 
nue, was incorporated in 1896 and manufactures marine and sta- 
tionary gasoline engines, lathes, oyster cultivating machinery and 
special designs of machines. F. J. Kingsbury is president; James 
Coulter, vice president; A. J. Porter, secretary; Norman Leeds, treas- 
urer and general manager. 

The Baird Machine Company was incorporated in July, 1894, 
and now is capitalized' for $500,000. Charles L. Warner is presi- 
dent and treasurer of this company. The company manufactures alt 
kinds of automatic machinery for making products from wire or 
sheet metal, also many other kinds of special machinery. 

The George C. Batchelor & Company are large manufacturers of 
corsets, with a plant located at 805 RaUroad Avenue. Fully 1,200 
people are employed here. The officers are: Edward W. RusseU, 
New Jersey, president and treasurer; Ralph E. Miller, New York, 
vice president; and Albert Quackenbush, New Jersey, secretary. 

The Bead Chain Manufacturing Company was organized in 1914 
and in 1916 constructed the present plant at State and Mount Grove. 
The company was incorporated March 17, 1914. W. Gerald Bryant 
is the president and treasurer. The product of this company is brass 
bead chains for all purposes. 



The Belknap Slanufacturing Company make Brass goods for 
steam, gas and water. The officers are: William L, Belknap, presi- 
dent; C. M. Belknap, vice president; William L. Belknap, Jr., sec- 
retary and treasurer. 

The Black Rock Manufacturing Company was organized by Guy 
L. Hammond in October, 1915, succeeding the Black Rock Machine 
Company, which was organized in 1908. The company manufac- 
tures a marine motor for life-saving boats. About seventy people 
are employed in this plant. The company was incorporated in Octo- 
ber, 1915. Mr. Hammond is both president and treasurer and Albert 
Ketcham is secretary. 

One of the prominent manufacturing institutions of Bridgeport 
is the Bridgeport Body Company, located at 363 Fairfield Avenue. 
This business was incorporated July .1, 1912, and has a capital stock 
of $50,000. The president is Allan W. Terrj'; James H. Hinman. 
secretary; and Clarence W. Seward, treasurer. The company man- 
ufactures enclosed and touring car bodies, with commercial and truck 
bodies a specialty. A general repair work is carried on in addition. 

The Bridgeport Brass Company was organized in the year 1865, 
succeeding to the business of Wilmot & Kissam, for the manufacture 
of hoop skirts. This plant was located at Crescent and Main streets. 
The company became the second in the United States in the manu- 
facture of seamless brass tubing. With the steady development of 
the business further attention was given to this, also to sheet brass, 
rods and wire. The company continues in these lines, with special- 
ties, including bicycle and automobile pumps and plumbing goods. 
There are two factories in the city — one on Housatonic Avenue of 
ten acres for the raw material work and the other on Crescent and 
Main, with six acres. The company is capitalized for $1,000,000 
and is officered by the following: F. J. Kingsbury, president; W. R. 
Webster, vice president; A. P. Swoyer, secretary and general sales 
manager; G. P. Miller, treasurer. Swoyer is of New York and 
Kingsbury of New Haven. The company advertises "from ingot 
to finished product." 

The Bridgeport Chain Company was incorporated in 1887 and 
now has a capital stock of $250,000. The factory is located at the 
comer of Crescent and Bimnell. They are manufacturers of wire, 
halter, kennel, post and coil, "Monarch," bronze, sash and brass 
plumbers' chain. Furniture and machinery springs are also made. 
The officers of the company are; George C. Edwards, president; 



G. S. Bryan, treasurer; George H. Edwards, vice president; and 
A. B. Way, secretary. 

The Bridgeport Crucible. Company was organized and incorpo- 
rated in 1887 as a joint stock corporation. A site was secured on 
Knowlton Street, but in 1893 the plant was destroyed by fire. Imme- 
diately the work of rebuilding started and has been continually en- 
larged to the present size. The capital of the company is $100,000 
and the officers are: W. T. Macfarlane, president; Frank S. Ray, 
secretary; W. A. Macfarlane, treasurer and general manager. They 
manufacture black lead crucibles and climax furnace clay. 

The Bridgeport Die and Machine Company was organized by 
Ebner S. and James W. Ogden in August, 1912. The company was 
located first at 225 John Street, then in the Crawford Laundry Build- 
ing, and then at 170 Elm Street. Max^ine work of all kinds, dies, 
tools and surface grinders form the output of this concern. Eighty 
people are given employment. 

Tlie Bridgeport Elastic Fabric Company was organized in 1900 
by Samuel Lownds, Arthur Liggins and Arthur J. Moore. The 
first factory was at Brooklawn, but in November, 1902, it was moved 
to 209 Center Street. Elastic fabrics are made, with a trademark of 
Spencer's Special. The company is now a part of the Everlastik 
Company, with principal offices at Boston. One hundred people are 

The Bridgeport Electric Manufactm-ing Company was started 
in 1915 and makes the Geyser electric water heater. The capital 
stock is $100,000 and the president is Carl O. Cyrus. 

The Bridgeport Hardware Manufacturing Corporation was 
established as a company in 1895 and as a corporation in 1902. The 
first location was on Knowlton Street. In 1900 a removal was made 
to 461 Iranistan Avenue, where a sawtooth factory was constructed. 
This was destroyed by fire in 1902 and in 1904 the plant was rebuilt. 
Two himdred people are employed here in the manufacture of hard- 
ware specialties such as nail pullers, box openers and wire stretchers. 
The capital stock is $125,000 and the officers are : VVilUs F. Hobbs, 
president; and Harry B. Curtis, secretary and treasurer. 

The Bridgeport Metal Goods Company was organized by Anker 
S. Lyhne in 1909 at 35 Spruce Street. In 1917 the business was 
removed to Cherry Street. The product is metal goods from sheet, 
rod, wire and casting. The company also owns a business called 
the Usona Manufacturing Company, at 1 Hudson Street, where 
flashlights are made. Another facton,' is called the Hotchkiss Fac- 



tory. Six hundred people are employed by the Metal Goods Com- 
pany. Mr. Lyhne is the president of the company; George G. 
Beers, vice president; and Herman K, Beacli, secretary and treas- 

The Bridgeport Projectile Company was incorporated April 1, 
1915. T!ie capital stock is $2,000,000. The present plant on Union 
Avenue covers seven acres and was established at a cost of $2,000,000. 
There are four buildings — the forge shop, the power house, the ma- 
chine sliop and the gun plant. Guns are made here from one- 
pounders to those six inches in caliber. Just at present a large order 
of five-inc!i guns for the United States Government is under way. 
Besides tlie steel guns shells are made in great quantities; in fact, 
the capacity of the works is from five thousand to fifty thousand shells 
per day. One three-inch gun per day; two five-inch and six-inch 
guns per week is the ordinary capacity for this work. Over three 
million dollars worth of contracts are now made with the Govern- 
ment for supplies of this type, which in the near future will be 
greatly increased. From three hundred to five hundred men are 
employed at the Bridgeport Projectile Company. The president is 
Walter H. Knight; Archibald Tappen, secretary; Carl Heyman, 

The Bridgeport Safety Emery Wheel Company was started in 
Springfield, Mass., by Edwin R. Hyde, three brothers, and Daniel 
T. Homan, in 1880, and was called the Springfield Glue & Emery 
M'^heel Company. In 1890 the business was removed to Bridgeport 
and the name changed to the Springfield Emery AVheel Manufac- 
turing Company. The first building was on Howard Avenue. Hyde 
left the concern and started a similar business at 82 Knowlton Street. 
In 1908 he organized the business under the present title. They 
manufacture direct current motor driven grinders in seven sizes. Fifty 
people are employed. 

The Bridgeport Screw Company was established in 1911 and 
the original location was at Union, Central and Williston avenues, 
ocaipying an entire block. . Over one thousand pounds of screws are 
produced each day, in addition to kindred products. William H. 
Farrell is the president and J. W. Seekings, secretary and treasurer. 

One of the largest electric manufacturing companies in New Eng- 
land is the Bryant Electric Company, at 1421 State Street. This 
business was incorporated July 3, 1880. The officers are: Waldo 
C. Bryant, president and treasurer; E. M. Herr of Pittsburgh, vice 
president; James C. Bennett of New York, secretary. The com- 



pany manufactures Superior wiring devices of all kinds. Branches 
are maintained at Chicago and San Francisco. 


The Bullard Machine Tool Company is almost a city in itself 
with its 1,200 employes, ninety per cent of whom are skilled workmen, 
contributing to the success of this mammoth enterprise, which is 
most wisely and carefully directed hy men of long experience. The 
business was established under the name of the Bridgeport Machine 
Tool Works in 1879 by Edward P. Bullard, Sr., for the manufactusp 
of engine lathes. The undertaking proved a success from the be- 
ginning and was incorporated in 1894 under the present name. The 
first officers were; E. P. Bullard, Sr., president; E. P. Bullard, 
Jr., vice president; and A. H. Bullard, secretary and treasurer. 
There was no change until 1906, when Mr. Bullard, Sr., died, since 
which time the officers have been: E. P. Bullard, Jr., president; 
S. H. Bullard, vice president; and A. H. Bullard, secretary and 
treasurer. The plant is located on Broad and Railway streets. The 
first modem building was erected in 1892, the next in 1899, another 
in 1904, a fourth in 1910, and others in 1915 and 1916 until the 
buildings cover nearly an entire block. The later buildings are of 
reinforced concrete, five stories in height, and are fireproof. . Here 
the 1,200 workmen are busily engaged in the manufacture of vertical 
tmret lathes in three sizes and the Bullard Mult-Au-Matic, devel- 
oped by the company, in one size. The product is sold to all sorts 
of metal working industries all over the world and is put upon the 
market by engineering salesmen. The devices are patented and the 
quality of the product is indicated by the continuous growth and 
development of the business. Men are given life employment by 
this company, whose policy it is to recognize and stimulate employes 
to put forth their best eff^ort for the benefit of the business, while rec- 
ognizing that capability means rapid advancement. This company 
is now expending huge sums of money in equipping their plant for 
the manufacture of munitions and ordnance. 

The Bums & Bassick Company, 38 Austin, was incorporated 
November 1, 1885. They are manufacturers of furniture trimmings, 
brass and bronze castings, "Feltoid" casters, automobile hardware 
and grease cups. The capital stock is $100,000 and the officers are : 
E. W. Bassick, president; Wilbur F. Bums, vice president; F. C. 
Bassick, secretary; W. R. Bassick, treasurer. 



The Canfield Rubber Company was founded by Jared H. Can- 
field of Middletown, Conn., and was incorporated as such in Feb- 
ruary, 188d, at which time business was begun on Raikoad Avenue, 
at the corner of Myrtle Street, with H. O. Canfield as manager. 
Three generations of the Canfields have been connected with the busi- 
ness. The H. O. Canfield Company was incorporated July 1, 1904, 
and is located at 191 Housatonic Avenue. The officers are: Alfred 
H. Canfield, president; H. A. Mayse, vice president and treasurer; 
and H. M. Whitney, secretary. All kinds of mechanical rubber 
goods are manufactured. 

The Challenge Cutlery Company was started in 1899 by Walter 
M. Taussig. The Hatch Manufacturing Company was purchased 
and consolidated with the Challenge Razor Works, which latter firm 
had been here since 1889. Mr. Taussig is president of the company 
and WUUam E. Primrose is secretary and treasurer. Cutlery of all 
kinds and razors are manufactured at the plant — 46 Seymour. 

The Coe-Stapley Manufacturing Company, 1565 Railroad Ave- 
nue, was incorporated October 5, 1909. The capital stock is $50,000 
and the officers: B. L. Coe, president; E. B. Shumaker, secretary; 
B. S. Coe, treasurer. The product is sheet metal goods. 

The Connecticut Clasp Company was started in 1900, being incor- 
porated in January of that year. Corset steels are manufactured. 
Frederick Holden of Ansonia is president of the company. 

The Comiecticut Electric Manufacturing Company was organ- 
ized in 1906 by A. H. and I.' B. Trumbull at Bantam, Conn., to make 
electric specialties. The firm moved to Bridgeport in December, 
1912, and located at Connecticut and Florence avenues, there build- 
ing a factory of four stories. Switches, fittings and sockets are made 
and about t^ree hundred people are employed. A. H. Trumbull is 
president and treasurer; James Trumbull is vice president; and 
Frank S. Trumbull is secretary. 




The Crown Corset Company, 845 Railroad Avenue, employs 
about four hundred people in the manufacture of corsets. The offi- 
cers of the company are: Edward W. Russell, president and treas- 
urer; Ralph E. MUler, secretary. 

The Crown Paper Box Company was started by William Pope 
in 1905. He formerly owned the Pope Paper Box Company, but 
sold out in 1899. Sixty-five people are employed in the manufac- 
ture of paper boxes of all styles. The plant is located at 355 Rail- 
road Avenue. 

The Curtis & Curtis Company was established in May, 1882, by 
William D. Forbes, M. E. and Roderick P. Curtis. They established 
an office in Bridgeport and made the goods in Providence, R. I. 
In 1883, however, a factory was established in Bridgeport and here 
they manufactured pipe-cutting machines. They were the first to 
make geared die stock. The plant is located at 188 Garden Street 
and about one hundred people are employed. 

The G. Drouve Company, 40 Tulip Street, are manufacturers of 
the Anti-Pluviiis puttyless skylights. The firm was incorporated 
in May, 1896. The officers of this concern are: G. F. Drouve, presi- 
dent and treasurer; William V. Dee, secretary. 

The Electric Cable Company was started as the Magnet Wire 
Company, but became a part of the former about 1904. The factory 
is located at Bunnell, Central and Crescent avenues, occupying two 
blocks with five buildings. Insulated wires, cables and conductors 
of every type are manufactured. The company was incorporated 
in 1906 and the officers at the present time are: Edwin W. Moore, 
New York, president; J. Nelson Shreve, Scarsdale, N. Y., treas- 
urer. Four hundred people are given employment at this plant. 

The Crane Company of Bridgeport was organized in its present 
form in 1914, succeeding to the business of the Crane Valve Com- 
pany, which was organized in 1904. The latter was the successor 



of the Katon, Cole & Burnham Company. The company makes 
iron and brass valves, cast iron flange and screw fittings, hesides many 
otlier articles. There are two factories in Bridgeport, one at South 
Avenue built in 1907, consisting of sixty-four acres. The general 
offices of this company are in Chicago, 111., while there are fifty 
branch wholesale houses scattered over the United States. Fully 
3,000 people are employed by this corporation in the City of Bridge- 

A Special Machinery Company was started by James W. Grant 
about 1892, for the making of hooks and eyes, rat and mouse trap 
wires, paper clips, clasps, etc. The Grant Manufacturing and 
Machine Company, located at 90 SiUiman Avenue, was incorporated 
June 14, 1904, and the capital stock is $50,000. The officers are: J. 
G. Kingsbury, president and treasurer; George B. Thorpe, secre- 
tary. The product consists of noiseless rotary riveting machines, 
Grant rotary vibrating riveters, tool post grinders and attachments, 
registering and counting machine wheels, metal patterns and light 
contract work of all kinds. 

The Gaynor Manufacturing Company was established in the 
year 1887 and now manufactures sheet metal goods. The capital 
stock is $60,000 and the officers as follows: Dennis J. Gaynor, presi- 
dent and treasurer; Arthur C. Gaynor» vice president; Joseph F. 
Gaynor, secretary. The plant is located at 1476 Stratford Avenue. 

The Hatheway Manufacturing Company was organized in 1889 
by William E. and George T. Hatheway under the name of the 
Hatheway Bros. Manufacturers, making metal specialties. In 1905 
The Hatheway Manufacturing Company was organized and five 
years later incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000. The plant 
is located on the corner of Railroad and Bostwick avenues and 100 
people are employed. Metal specialties remain the principal prod- 
uct of this concern. W. E. Hatheway is president and treasurer of 
the company ; and M. E. Thomson is the secretary. 

The Hawthorne Manufacturing Company was established by E. 
A. Hawthorne with a plant at 35 Spruce Street. The product is 
the automobile, motorcycle and bicycle lighting systems and nitro- 
jeetor spotlight for motor cars. Mr. Hawthorne has been inter- 
ested in the manufacture of metal goods for a long period. His 
many years of experience in this particular line have resulted in 
the development of motorcycle accessories and kindred products 
unsurpassed upon the American market. His patented inventions, 
some large and some small, are numbered by the hundreds. In this 



business he was associated with his two sons. The present officers 
of the business are as follows: E. A. Hawthorne, president; Edgar 
W. Bassick, vice president; E. Stewart Hawthorne, secretary; and 
E. Horace Hawthorne, treasurer. The factory, which" is a three-story 
building of mill construction and supplied with the sprinkler system, 
contains 60,000 square feet of floor space. They use city electric 
power and the plant is equipped with the individual motor unit sys- 
tem. The product of this plaht, which has been described before, is 
sold to jobbers all over the United States and is represented upoa 
the road by sixteen traveling salesmen, while the factory itself 
employs about four hundred people, of whom 30 per cent are skilled 

Albert & E. Henkels, Incorporated, was established in 1909, in 
August of that year, and incorporated May 25, 1915. The plant 
is located at 1069 Connecticut Avenue. The company makes laces 
for interior decorating, for women's wear and trim wash fabrics. All 
grades of lace are made. There are 450 people who have employ- 
ment at this factory. Max Henkels is president and treasurer of 
the company and H. Albert Philips, vice president. 

The International Silver Company was formerly the firm of 
Holmes & Edwards. The company was incorporated November 19, 
1898, and is officered by the following: George H. Wilcox, Meri- 
den, president; George Rockwell, Waterhury, secretary; Frary Hale. 
Meriden, treasurer. The plant is located at 1600 Seaview Avenue. 
The product consists of silver-inlaid and other high grade silver plated 
knives, forks, spoons, etc. 

The Ives Manufacturing Corporation at 194 Holland Avenue 
specializes in the manufacture of toy railroad trains, tracks, stations, 
signals, switches and everything that goes to make up a complete 
toy imitation of the real thing. The company was incorporated 
April 15, 1902. 

The Lake Torpedo Boat Company was incorporated January 18, 
1914, to build the Simon Lake type of torpedo boat. This company 
also owns the stock of the Lake Torpedo Boat Companies of Eng- 
land, Italy, Russia and Germany. Two shipyards are maintained at 
Bridgeport and the annual capacity is eighteen boats. The officers 
are: Herbert S. Miller, Elizabeth, N. J., president; Simon Lake, 
Milford, vice president; Frank Miller, treasurer; and Clement E. 
Adams, secretary. The Lake Aeroplane Motor Boat Company was 
incorporated for the manufacture of Lake's even-keel aeroplanes, 
air-bome motor boats and air-borne flying boats. For an account of 


1'l.ANT OV Till-: UKn.MOHILI:: fl'Ml'ANV OF AMERIfA. DltlDliKl'OKT 

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Simon Lake's inventions, including the even-keel submarine boat, 
see Volume II of this work. 

The Locke Steel Belt Company was organized in 1897 by S. D. 
Locke and James O. Clephane. The plant was first located in New 
York, but in May, 1899, was moved to Bridgeport, where they rented 
space of the American Tube and Stamping Company.- In May, 
1908, a removal was made to South Avenue and Water Street and 
in September, 1914, a plant was established on Connecticut Avenue 
at the corner of Freeman Street. Tlie chain manufactured by this 
company was invented by S. D. Locke, Sr,, in 1887. Fifty people 
are employed. 


In May, 1899, The Locomobile Company of America was incor- 
porated under the laws of the State of West Virginia. . The leading 
spirit in the foundation of the company was Mr. Ami Lorenzo Bar- 
ber, who was undoubtedly tbe most prominent individual in the 
development of street pavement in this country and at the very head 
of the asphalt street industry and associated for many years with the 
Barber Company. As a result ofhis long experience with transpor- 
tation Mr. Barber was an early ijSQr and; believer in the futureof the 
automobile. He had the first electric ear delivered in New York City. 
He went abroad when auttHnobiles first began to be used in Europe 
and tried them out over there and came" back more convinced than 
ever of the great future of the "horseless carriage" as it was called 
at that time. 

Mr. John Walker at that time editor of the Cosmopolitan Mag- 
azine and a gentleman of a very active mind, and as a result of his 
editorship being in touch with all sorts of things, discovered a light 
automobile designed and built by the Stanley Brothers of Newton, 
Mass., manufacturers of photographic dry plates. This car gave 
a great deal of pronjjse and Mr. Walker was so favorably impressed 
with it that he immediately took it up with his neighbor, Mr. A. L. 
Barber, and a trip was made to Milton, Mass., and a company was 
started to manufacture this early car. The name of the first Com- 
pany was "The Automobile Company of America," but it was found 
that another institution of the same name was founded a few weeks 
before, so the name was changed to "Locomobile". The idea of the 
word "Locomobile" originated with Mr. Barber. 

Associated with Mr. Barber was his son-in-law Samuel Todd 



Davis, Jr., later president of the Locomobile Company up to his death 
September 1st, 1915. Mr. Davis was the actual head and directing 
force back of the company since its foundation. He was in every 
way an unusual man, athletic, cultured, an engineer, business execu- 
tive and "true in all walks of life." 

This early car was propelled by steam and was very ingenious. It 
far surpassed the best performances of the early gasoline automobile. 
The manner in which it would start, climb hills, and the ease in which 
it could be guided, and its noiseless operation made a sensation all 
over the country, and the little dry plate works was besieged with 
visitors trying to buy or get agencies, not only from all over the 
United States but from all over the world. The car made a sensation 
in France. 

In the first year 1899 and part of 1900, that is the first twelve 
months, the company turned out over one thousand vehicles. The 
success of this pioneer car so stimulated the manufacture of gasoline 
cars, that in a few months, in an inconceivably short time, the gaso- 
line automobile began to take a turn for the better, consequently 
the Locomobile Company had not been in business more than a year 
and a half, when it was considered probable that the future of the 
gasoline car was better than that of the steam vehicle. Consequently 
Mr. Andrew Lawrence Riker was retained by The Locomobile Com- 
pany, secretly, to develop a gasoline car for them. The plans were 
begun in New York City, late in 1901 and as soon as the car had 
been laid out on paper it was built experimentally and also without 
the knowledge of the automobile trade, in a private machine shop in 
Chicopee Falls, Mass., and the first car was running on the road 
early in the spring of 1902. 

Mr. Andrew Lawrence Riker was at that time a pioneer in 
automobile development. He was one of the very first men to build 
a practical and successful automobile. He took up the electric car 
and developed it to a verj' high state of perfection. Commercial 
delivery wagons owned and operated by such concerns as Altman in 
New York, Gorham & Company and others, were still running up to 
tlie time of writing this, after a successful operation of about eighteen 

The first gasoline Locomobile led others in the design of the 
automobile chassis. It was the first American gasoHne car to com- 
bine the following elements and which are considered the funda- 
mental essentials of the up-to-date chassis: 

The first Locomobile had an all steel chassis frame; sliding gear 



transmission; vertical cylinder motor located at the front of the 
frame under a bonnet; it had a gear driven electric generator; it had 
wheel steering; it had high tension ignition; it had double chain drive, 
but this was later replaced by shaft drive. 

The purpose of the Locomobile Company at this time was clearly 
defined, and was to abandon the policy of a large production of a 
light and comparatively cheap machine. The company decided that 
its future policy would be to build a limited number of exceedingly 
fine cars, as fine as could be made ; to develop the American automo- 
bile to as high a pitch of perfection as it was being developed abroad. 
Another feature of the purpose was to keep in close touch with 
owners and to make the Locomobile Company a high class propo- 
sition all the way through. 

As a result of this purpose various policies were put in action 
and the various plans carried out. All the materials of the Loco- 
mobile car has been specialty chosen and subjected to chemical tests 
and physical tests in order that the standard will be kept right up 
to the highest degree. The car has always been built first and the 
price fixed afterwards. As a result the name "Locomobile" has 
come to mean excellent material and workmanship, in short a chassis 
that has no superior in America for durability and thoroughness of 
construction. All of the nuts and all ends of bolts and screws used 
on the Locomobile have been hardened ever since the first car was 
made. This is an example of the attention to detail. 

The Locomobile Company operates under a policy of limited pro- 
duction not more than four cars a day. The idea being that by 
concentrating on a few cars they can be made finer than if the pro- 
duction was very large. It is thus possible to give intimate attention 
to each car and each owner. 

In 1911 the company took up the matter of the production of 
commercial vehicles. The idea was not to engage in the manufacture 
of these cars in a large way at first, but to build a few trucks and sell 
them and study their performances and the performance of other 
trucks, in short to engage in the commercial vehicle business in a 
gradual way at the outset. This has proven to be a wise step, because 
those who went into the motor truck business early did not make 
any money. In fact it has been common talk in the automobile 
trade that up to the time of the outbreak of war in 1914, there was 
little or no money made in the automobile truck industry in America. 

At the outbreak of the war the Locomobile secured an order of 
one thousand four-ton worm drive trucks from the British War 



Office. Largely the result of a test made in England of the Loco- 
mobile trucks running on some of the Old. Roman roads, up very 
steep grades, but instead of doing as the other competing trucks did, 
run with one load less than their rated capacity, the Locomobile 
Truck operated with one ton overload. It did more than was ex- 
pected of it and so won the attention of the British War Office and 
this large order was placed. At this time the Locomobile Company 
had decided to change the name of the truck from "Locomobile" to 
"Riker", it being considered that the Locomobile Car had become 
associated with an exceedingly aristocratic vehicle. It was not 
regarded desirable to have the same name on two articles so widely 
diiferent, one intended for luxurious travel and the other intended 
to haul goods efficiently and economically year after year. 

Consequently the truck was named after its designer, Andrew 
liawrence Riker, and who was well known having been the first presi- 
dent of the Society of Automobile Engineers. Mr. Riker is also a 
member of the Naval Advisory Board. 

The commercial business for Riker Trucks has grown very rap- 
idly in the last few years, and many large institutions use this truck. 
Like the Locombile car it is composed of the best materials known 
to the Engineering profession and is made in the thorough conscien- 
tious manner. 

The Locomobile works are beautifully situated on a point of land 
adjoining Seaside Park, Bridgeport, Connecticut. This point was 
at one time an old Indian camping ground. Evidently the point was 
sandy and charmingly located for clamming, fishing and bathing, 
and the Indians used to congregate there, as is proven by the large 
number of arrow heads found when extending the Locomobile build- 
ing for a new foundation. 

After the Locomobile Company had been founded at Newton 
it was ahnost immediately necessary to expand, so various factories 
were hired, one at Westboro, Mass., one at Worcester, Mass., and 
one at Bridgeport. Finally after difficulties arising from this system 
the entire outfit was moved to Bridgeport, Conn., and was installed 
in the old Liberty Bicycle Plant. The construction of the factory 
at Seaside Park was then begun and rapidly completed and since 
then numerous additions have been made till the Locomobile works 
now stands an imposing monument to the thoroughness and accuracy 
of New England methods. 

It is the purpose of the Locomobile Company of America to 
beautify the situation as much as possible, and progress has already 

d by Google 


been made in this direction and will be concentrated in future years 
so that the Locomobile works will be a credit to Bridgeport, and 
an agreeable feature of the shore front. 

The policy of the company will be to continue to build a limited 
number of the very finest pleasure cars that can be made and also 
a comparatively limited number of motor trucks of medium capacity. 

The officials of the Locomobile Company are: 

Raymond K. Albright, president. 

Andrew L. Riker, vice president. 

James T. Roche, vice president. 

Frank R. Hickman, secretary and treasurer. 

The W. S. Mills Company was established in 1889 by W. S. 
Mills for the manufacture of underwear. The first factory was 
located on Railroad Avenue and Warren Street, but in 1893 a fac- 
tory was constructed at 80 Parallel Street. This company special- 
izes in the manufacture of children's and infants' knit underwear 
and employ one hundred people. The company was incorporated in 
1907, with a capital of $130,000 and is now oflScered by: D. P. Mills, 
president; Samuel Lautenbach, vice president; T. I. Ferguson, sec- 
retary; and W. S. Mills, treasurer. 

The Modern Manufacturing Company was started in 1916 by 
Claude A. Herman, with F. E. Seeley as president. Forty to seventy 
people are employed at the plant at 75 Third Street for the manu- 
facture of tools and machines for special work. 

In 1892 A. H. Nilson opened a small machine shop on the sec- 
ond floor of the Hamilton Brass Foundry building at the comer of 
Golden Hill and Middle streets, under the name of A. H. Nilson & 
Son. At this time business became dull and the firm of A. H. Nilson 
& Son sold out to Messrs. Knapp & Cowles, Mr. Nilson remaining 
in charge of the business. In three years' time the Cornwall & Pat- 
terson Company purchased the Knapp & Cowles Company and 
Mr. Nilson again started out for himself. He became interested in 
corset machinery and invented several corset machines, which were 
sold to one of the large corset manufacturers. He then organized 
the Automatic Machine Company, of which he was president for 
two years. In 1898 the business was divided between the two stock- 
holders and the Automatic Machine Company removed to new quar- 
ters. Mr. Nilson then established the A. H. Nilson Machine 
Company in the Knapp & Cowles building. In 1904 he erected a 



building at the comer of Railroad and Bostwiek avenues and since 
then has built three other buildings. The company now occupies 
over thirty thousand square feet of floor space. Most of the fac- 
tory is a two story building of tile construction, fireproof and 
equipped with the sprinkler system. That the business has developed 
rapidly and in a most substantial manner is indicated in the fact that 
they now employ one hundred and fifty skilled workmen. They 
manufacture a special line of machinery, including Ihe NUson tilting 
wire reel. This has been developed through a recognition of the 
fact that lost motion, false motion and unnecessary motion cost 
money. The tilting wire reel eliminates all lifting labor and one man 
can do what was formerly hard work for two. The operator trips 
the lever with his foot and the upper part is gradually lowered until 
the wire carrying section is within a few inches of the floor. When 
the reel is lowered it automatically locks, so that it cannot fly back 
into its former position. Just an easy lift and the counterbalancing 
weight brings the tilting section to a vertical position, ready to feed 
the wire into the machine. The output includes. the Nilson standard 
reel for light coils and the clutch reel, also the automatic four-slide 
wire forming machines for round and flat wire. This machine also 
shows many improvements upon others formerly in use and is being 
rapidly introduced. In addition to the products already mentioned 
the company manufacturers hooks and eye machines, safety chain 
machines, paper clip machines, buckle machines, gate hook machines, 
burner shaft machines, eye-feeding machines, stud-feeding machines, 
coat and hat hook machines, piano hardware machines, ceiling hook 
machines, buckle tongue machines, umbrella machines, tapping 
machines, special presses, sheet metal straighteners and wire straight- 
eners. Their piano action machines include rail spring machines, 
jack spring machines, damper machines, regulating rail machines, 
action rail machines, spring machines, brass flange butt machines, 
double frazing machines, tongue machines, damper block screw 
machines, sticker frazing machines, sliding off sticker machines and 
spoon driving machines. Many of the machines sent out are the 
invention of Mr, Nilson, whose marked mechanical skill and ingen- 
uity have done much to further industrial progress. 

The Pequonnock Foundry, Incorporated, received its incorpor- 
ation in August, 1902, and has a plant located in the Fifth Street 
extension. The company was organized in 1902 and at first rented 
property in East Washington Avenue. The present factory was 
built in 1909 and a removal made there in the following year. One 






hundred people are employed in the manufacture of machine cast- 
ings. The officers are: G. E. Kirsten, president and treasurer; J. J. 
Anderson, secretary. 

The Porcupine Company is a reorganization of the Connecticut 
Construction and Supply Company and moved to Bridgeport in 
1911. The plant was estabhshed at 730 Wordin Avenue. Boiler, 
tank and plate work is done here, also the Bagasse Burning equip- 
ment is made for sale to cane sugar producing companies. Struct- 
ural steel is fabricated at this plant. The officers are: J. K. William- 
son, president; C. W. Brooks, vice president; and James B. Reeve, 
secretaty and treasurer. 

The Red Star Company was started in June, 1906, and incor- 
porated in 1907. The factory is located at 115 Main Street and 
A. C. Lyon is president. Men's garters, hose supporters, etc., are 
manufactured and one hundred and fifty girls are employed. 


The City of Bridgeport is the home of the largest manufacturers 
of firearms and ammunition in the allied countries. The above title 
is the result of an incorporation January 15, 1916 and the merging 
of the Remington Arms and Ajjupunitipn Company and the Union 
Metallic Cartridge Company. Besides the jjants at Bridgeport fac- 
tories are maintained at Ilion, N; Y., Swanton, Vt., Windsor, Can- 
ada, and in London, England. The officers'at present of this large 
corporation are as follows: M. Hartley Dodge, New York, presi- 
dent; S. F. Pryor, C. L. Reierson, I. S. Betts, of New York, and 
C. C. Tyler, vice presidents; George Bingham, New York, secretary 
and treasurer; W. H. Nolan and Charles Many, assistant treas- 
urers; W. F. Lawrence, comptroller; P. E. Mack, assistant comp- 

The Union Metallic Cartridge Company was started in the year 

1866. The Crittenden &; Tibbals Manufacturing Company of South 
Coventry, Connecticut, and C. D. Leet, of Springfield, Massachu- 
setts, were purchased by the firm of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham, of ' 
New York. In 1866 all of the machinery was removed to the City 
of Bridgeport and the new business conducted under the name of 
the Union Metallic Cartridge & Cap Company. In September, 

1867, the Union MetalUc Cartridge Company was incorporated. 
This was the beginning of successful metallic cartridge making in 
America; the year 1868 may be said to have been the be^nning. 



Metallic cartridges had been manufactured for small arms before 
and placed upon the market, but were not of standard excellence. 
The perfection of this type of cartridge in America brought orders 
from all over the world, particularly from Russia, Turkey and 
France. After the experience of the Civil War, with its ammunition 
troubles, sudi a cartridge Was doubly welcome. Almost all of the 
contracts made at this time, both at home and across the water, were 
not with individual firms, but with the governments themselves. 

Small calibre rim fire cartridges, center fire cartridges and paper 
shot shells were also developed for the sporting trade. The success 
of this company may be illustrated by the statement that in 1878, 
when the financial panic struck the country, the U. M. C. was the 
only large factory in Bridgeport which continued its regular output, 
thus j>roviding employment for hundreds of people who otherwise 
would have suffered. 

The first factory was a very meager one, consisting merely of a 
few sheds and a few brick buildings; also, at one time only 139 hands 
were employed by the company. To compare this with the present 
day factory space would make the change seem impossible. The 
plant today covers over eighty acres of floor space, with more being 
constantly added. The new Arms plant, completed in the fall of 
1915, is a half mile long and accommodates 9,000 employes. The 
Ammunition plant, with its 11,000 employes, also covers a large 
amount of ground. The establishment of the Arms plant after the 
outbreak of the World War has given rise to an unprecedented 
growth in employes and the necessity of providing some means of 
quartering them. From this need has grown "Remington City," 
with more than 600 dwellings built by the company for the housing 
of these people. 

Of the products of the Remington Arms Union Metallic Cart- 
ridge Company much could be said. In a word they are guns and 
ammunition. Guns of small calibre and of large are made here — 
from the 22 calibre rifle to the improved army rifle. Bayonets are 
also made. In the ammunition line everything from the 22 calibre 
' cartridge to the six -inch rapid fire shells are made. 

At the present time the zone occupied by this plant is recognized 
as one of the most important and best protected spots in the world. 
The huge government orders and the necessity of their fulfillment 
has caused this factory to be guarded constantly by national troops 
and regularly employed guards. Entrance is extremely difficult 
owing to the military restrictions. For Bridgeport, however, the 



*'Arms" has been of great influence in making the city known among 
civilized peoples. "To write of this celebrated institution, for its 
work is based upon such scientific principles, and its reputation is so 
far reaching, that "institution" better expresses its character than 
does the word factory, appears to be carrying coals to Newcastle." 

The Salts Textile Company had its start in 1891. In that year 
Frederick Rhodes left England to take charge of a branch office of 
Sir Titus Salt Bart. Sons & Company, L>mt., of Bradford, England, 
who were than about to establish a branch in Bridgeport. In 1893 
this was made a separate company under the title of the Salts Textile 
Manufacturing Company. The plant has grown to be the largest 
of its kind in the United States. The factory covers the space of two 
blocks and owns private docks on the water front. They manu- 
facture all grades of seal plushes, fur imitations and velvets. 
Branches are conducted at Philadelphia, Penn. and at Lyons, France. 
The capital stock of this mammoth corporation is $8,000,000 and the 
officers now are: F. E. Kip, New Jersey, president; C. Frederick 
Stead, vice president; Ruloff F. Kip, secretary; and F. Rhodes, 

To an American, Elias Howe, Jr., belongs the credit of invent- 
ing the first practicable sewing-machine. There had been machines 
of similar character invented before across the ocean, but the true 
sewing-machine is the product of American genius. In 1790 Thomas 
Saint patented a machine in England, with an awl and notched 
needle; Heilmann patented an embroidering machine in England in 
1820, in which was used the double-pointed needle invented by Wei- 
senthal in 1755; Thimonier, of France, also patented an embroider- 
ing machine in 1880; and, in our own country about 1882 Walter 
Himt of New York patented a so-called sewing-machine, but it failed 
to be successful, although an attempt was made a score of years later 
to revive it. None of these inventions compared with that of Howe. 
He had spent years in experimenting and in 1846 patented his first 
sewing-machine. This hiachine had a curved, eye-pointed needle for 
the upper thread, a shuttle carrying the lower thread, and a "baster 
plate" holding the cloth vertically. This made the lock-stitch, but 
was unsuccessful in its mechanical operation. It needed a "feed," 
for determining the direction of the seam. 

In 1847 Allen B. Wilson, then a journeyman cabinet maker, 
invented a sewing-machine, or rather conceived the idea for one. In 
1848 he made drawings of his machine at Pittsfield, Mass., where he 
was then employed. On February 8, 1849 he began the construc- 



tion of his machine and during the following April he had it com- 
pleted. Every inch of the work had been done by himself. The 
machine was rather crude, due to his lack of experience in metal work- 
ing and poor tools, but it ser\'ed to illustrate what he had in mind. 
He used a curved, eye-pointed needle, a two-pointed shuttle, making 
a stitch with both the forward and backward movements, and a two- 
motion feed. This two-motion feed was a horizontal, reciprocating, 
serrated bar, in contact with the cloth, which it moved forward by 
teeth at the proper time, receding while the cloth was held in posi- 
tion by the needle. This was the first device to control the feed. 
Afterward Wilson built another machine on the same plan, but of 
better constmction at North Adams, Mass. The patent on his first 
machine was dated November 12, 1850. 

The shuttle not being satisfactory, Wilson produced a machine 
in which a rotating hook and reciprocating bobbin replaced the shut- 
tle, and a segmental screw-thread feed took the place of his two- 
motion feed on the first machine. A patent was issued for this 
August 12, 1851, the same day Isaac M. Singer received a patent on 
his first machine. Yet Wilson was not satisfied, so he obtained a 
patent for a machine with rotating hook and stationary bobbin. In 
this last machine he used the four-motion feed, which has been used 
ever since in all machines. For this type of feed he received a patent 
December 19, 1854. 

To Mr. Wilson must go the honor of the invention, but to Nathan- 
iel Wheeler credit is due for attending to the business side, the practi- 
cal side, of the invention. When Wilson first invented a machine 
Wheeler was living at Watertown, Connecticut, manager of the firm 
of Warren, Wheeler & Woodruff, metallic ware manufacturers 
there. In December, 1850, while on a trip to New York, he saw one 
of Wilson's machines on exhibition, the patent for the machine then 
being held by E. Lee & Company, Mr. Wheeler, however, contracted 
to build 500 of the machines at his factory, and employed Wilson 
himself as superintendent of their manufacture. The contract with 
the New York firm was not finished though, and Warren, Wheeler, 
Woodruif and Wilson formed a partnership under the name of 
Wheeler, Wilson & Company, for the purpose of manufacturing 
Wilson's machines and pushing the sale of them. They manufac- 
tured the original Wheeler & Wilson machine with curved needle, 
rotating hook, stationarj' bobbin and four-motion feed. Through 
the efforts of Mr. Wheeler the machine was made an economic suc- 



Invpiitor of fiiwt scniii'; mnehini-, cslled Tlio Howe 





cess in the country, not only for household use, but for light manu- 
facturing purposes. 

After several hundred machines had been sold the first partner- 
ship was sutxieeded in October, 1858, by the Wheeler & Wilson 
Manufacturing Company, organized as a stock company with a capi- 
tal of $160,000. Stock to the amount of $70,000 was subscribed to 
by outsiders, but so successful was the machine that they were never 
called upon for payment upon their notes, for they were all liquidated 
by dividends as they became due. The first officers of the company 
were: Alanson Warren, president; George P. Woodruff, secretary 
and treasurer; and Nathaniel Wheeler, general manager. Warren 
resigned in 1855 as president and was succeeded by Wheeler, who also 
retained his position as general manager. William H. Perry suc- 
ceeded Woodruff as secretary the same year. Nathaniel Wheeler 
held the position of president so long as he lived, or until December 
31, 1898. 

In 1856 the company removed from Watertown to Bridgeport, 
after buying the factory of the Jerome Clock Company here. In 
1864, by a special charter from the legislature, the capital stock was 
increased to $1,000,000. Additions were made to the old factory, 
but on December 12, 1875 if was' destroyed by fire. However, it was 
immediately rebuilt. At firjt, the-iniro4uGtion of the sewing-machine 
in New York City led to tempestuous times, as the laboring classes 
believed that such a device woidd clestroy the trade of seamstresses. 
It is said that for a time sewiftg-machines were delivered secretly in 
New York. 

From that day until 1917 the sewing-machine has undergone so 
many changes and has been improved to such an extent that little 
similarity with the old machine exists, although the underlying prin- 
ciples are the same. James H. House, George H. Dimond, W. F. 
Dial, A. Steward, F. W. Ostroni and Nathaniel Wheeler are men 
responsible for many little inventions which have increased the effici- 
ency of the machine. 

In the year 1907 the Wheeler & Wilson Company was acquired 
by the Singer Manufacturing Company. This latter company was 
incorporated in New Jersey, February 20, 1878, as the successor to 
the New York company of the same name, which had been incorpo- 
rated in 1864, taking over the business of the I. N. Singer Company. 
Besides Bridgeport the following cities have Singer factories: St. 
Johns, Me., Kilbowie, Scotland, Wittemberg, Prussia, and Podolsk, 
Russia. A cabinet factory is operated at South Bend, Indiana. The 



capital stock of this corporation is $60,000,000 and the capacity of 
manufacture is 2,000,000 per annum. 

The Smith & Egge Manufacturing Coolpany was organized in 
the spring of 1874 and was located at 188 Lafayette Street. It was 
incorporated in September, 1877, with F. W. Smith, president; and 
W. H. Day, secretary and treasurer. Mail locks and keys were their 
specialty and its excellence brou^t the concern a large reputation. 
Government business and export business predominated. Sash chain 
as a substitute for cord was one of the principal products and still 
continues, this being the invention of the firm. The plant is located 
at 556 Lafayette Street and the officers of the company are: F. W. 
Smith, president; Oliver C. Smith, secretary and treasurer; A. B. 
Alvord, assistant treasurer. Chains of various kinds and punches 
form the principal product. The chain plant has a capacity of twen- 
ty-five niiles per day. 

The Spring Perch Company was organized in 1847 and incor- 
porated in 1854 by Edward Sterling, J. C. Lewis, Eli Gilbert and 
Wheeler Beers. The plant has always been located on John Street, 
although the first location was on the south side of the street instead 
of the north as now. The present building was begun in the '70s. 
The product of this factory, which is leaf springs for automobiles 
and carriages, is sold direct to the manufacturers. Two hundred men 
are employed. A stale trade school occupies the upper floor of this 

The Springfield Manufacturing Company, incorporated 1909, 
succeeded the Springfield Emery Wheel Manufacturing Company, 
which was established in 1880. Grinding machinery and abrasive 
wheels are made by this company, of which H. F. Brandes is the 
president and treasurer. The plant is located at 817 Mountain 

The Tait Paper Company was started by Andrew Tait in 1856 
and the Tait Mills constructed at Trumbull, there beginning the 
manufacture of box-board or straw-board. In 1895 the plant was 
removed to Bridgeport and the firm style of Tait & Sons Paper 
Company adopted. The plant is located at 1575 Railroad Avenue. 


One of the mammoth enterprises which has given Bridgeport 
her well deserved reputation as a great manufacturing center is that 
conducted under the name of the Warner Brothers Company. It 

d by .Google 


was in August, 1874. that a partnership was formed between Dr. I. 
De Ver Warner and Dr. Lucien C. Warner for the manufacture of 
corsets made after an improved form of corset waist, with straps 
over the shoulders and a projection of cloth held out by a reed at 
the bottom. This was invented by Dr. I. D. Warner for the purpose 
of supporting the clothing from the shoulders in place of the hips, 
and the first sale of the articles was made by Dr. L. C. Warner at 
Painesville, Ohio. The first plant of the firm consisted of a single 
room, not more than twenty-five feet square, in a tailor shop in 
McGrawville, N. Y. The garment was first called Doctor War- 
ner's Sanitary Corset but the name was soon changed to Doctor War- 
ner's Health Corset. The value of the corset was soon manifest and 
the patterns were improved from time to time arid new styles added. 
In 1878 TampiCo fibre was used for stiffening the corsets and was 
called Coraline. The company continued to manufacture corsets of 
that pattern until the early '90s, when they began making corsets .of 
French model, boned with reed, French horn, steel and whalebone. 
In 1876 the business was transferred to Bridgeport, where the first 
factory was built on the site now occupied by the executive offices 
of the company, at the corner of Lafayette and Atlantic streets. The 
growth of the business necessitated larger quarters and in 1878 an 
addition, extending ninety feet north along Lafayette Street, was 
built. To this, in 1880, was added another building adjoining on 
Atlantic Street. A third addition came in 1881, extending 140 
feet on Myrtle Avenue, and still there was a demand for greater 
facilities, necessitating enlarged quarters in 1888, 1889 and 1898. 
The notable growth of the business in 1910 so overcrowded 
the old buildings that it was necessary to erect a large building 
for the metal department at the corner of Myrtle and Gregory 
streets, also to make large additions to the paper box factory and 
to the corset factories. In the same year the storehouses were 
removed to land which the company had purchased between Lafay- 
ette and Broad streets, near Railroad Avenue. A new power plant 
was also built to contain the new boilers and electric generators, so 
that the machinery might be driven by electricity instead of by con- 
tinuous shafting and belting. Beside the power house rises a radial 
brick chimney 156 feet high. In 1912 a five-story and basement 
"L" shaped building was erected for the accommodation of the 
growing corset and accessories departments and a large tract of 
land between Whiting and Atlantic streets and the railroad yards, 
with an outlet to Main Street, was purchased whereon might be 



erected further storehouses and shipping rooms. While the factory 
has heen maintained in Bridgeport and has become a great manu- 
facturing enterprise constituting one of the chief sources of the 
city's wealth and upbuilding, sales offices were established in New 
York, Dr. L. C. Warner devoting a room in his own home at 119 
West Forty-first Street to that purpose. In the fall of 1875, how- 
ever, space was leased on Broadway and with the growth of the busi- 
ness various removals have been made from time to time. With the 
extension of the business to all parts of the counlrj', the company 
began to investigate the foreign market, with the result that an export 
department has been developed with offices adjoining the New York 
office originally, but in 1910 this was made as an entirely separate 
department. The growth of the foreign trade has been rapid and 
continuous and there is today scarcely a town of imy size through 
all the civilized globe in which Warner's corsets cannot be purchased 
and in which Warner's advertisements are not seen. As early as 1870 
further headquarters of the business were established in Chicago and 
in 1889 the company purchased a building in that city, the present 
location being at No. 867 West Adams Street. In 1875 the product 
of the Bridgeport factory was introduced on the Pacific coast and 
in 1895 a permanent office was established in San Francisco. The 
remarkable growth of the trade has resulted in a measure from 
judicious advertising, and something of the growtli of the business 
is indicated in the fact that the budget of 1880 allowed $4,700 to 
advertising; in 1890, $29,000; in 1900, $50,000; and at the present 
time more than $300,000 are spent annually in advertisements, the 
total amount thus used by the company exceeding $2,500,000. Con- 
tinuous changes have been made in models and styles sent out by the 
house. In 1894 the company began the sale of what is known as the 
Redfem corset and in the same year the corsets were first boned with 
rustproof. It was also in that year that the partnership of Warner 
Brothers was succeeded by the corporation known as the Warner 
Brothers Company. The organization of the company is divided into 
ten departments: executive, engineering, corset, accessories, metal, box 
and the four sales departments. The metal department supplies the 
corset and accessories departments with all the metal parts for use, 
such as clasps, bone wire, side steels, backwire, tips, eyelets, buckles, 
hose supporter clasps, etc. The paper box department supplies all the 
departments with their paper and with their printing, maintaining 
equipment of the very highest order in both of these branches. The 
accessories department manufactures Security rubber button hose 



supporters, Warner's rustproof brassieres, Perfection children's 
waists, Century corset shields and the various minor corset acces- 
sories. The corset department has its cloth woven to order, and takes 
delivery in the grey so that it may do its own converting. It also 
imports direct a great quantity of cloths and trimmings. It manu- 
factures Warner's rustproof corsets and Redfern corsets. The 
engineering department is the landlord and furnishes power, truck- 
ing and general janitor service. The sales department handles the 
product of the corset and accessories departments. All the depart- 
ments, each under the direction of its own specialists, work in har- 
mony, to achieve the greatest economies and greatest values, and to 
safeguard the various intricate processes that go into the making 
of a finished corset, in order that Warner quality may never be low- 
ered, but may be constantly improved. The number of employes 
is more than three thousand, of whom more than twenty-two hun- 
dred are women, and the weekly capacity of the factories is ten 
thousand dozen corsets. There is a thoroughly organized fire de- 
partment of seventy-five men, well drilled and eflScient, and the 
company with its increasing business has also looked to the humani- 
tarian side and has done much for its employes. It built Seaside 
Institute for their use and the building was formally opened on the 
10th of November, 1887, by Mrs. Grover Cleveland. It was one 
of the first of the kind ever erected and contained a library, large 
audience room, class rooms, restaurant and parlors. There is also 
conducted a sick benefit fund for the members and there are many 
social activities provided, while the Warner Club, a branch of the 
Young Women's Christian Association, conducts classes in various 
interesting and useful lines. 

The Weidlich Bros, Manufacturing Company was organized in 
1902 by L. W. Weidlich and incorporated in 1905 by L. W., C. E., 
F. A. and E. C, Weidlich and D. H. Ferris. The first location was 
on Sterling and Noble avenues, and in 1910 the plant was removed 
to Connecticut and Florence avenues. The product consists of sil- 
ver plated ware and novelties. An average of one hundred and fifty 
people are employed here. 

The Whiting 'Manufacturing tfompany was started at North 
Attleboro in 1843 when William D. Whiting became a partner in 
the firm of Tifft & Whiting for the manufacture of small silver nov- 
elties. Thirteen yeajs later the William D. Whiting Company was 
organized. It was changed in 1858 to the Whiting, Fessenden & 
Cowan Company. On August 24, 1866, the Whiting Manufactur- 



ing Company was organized and capitalized for $100,000. The capital 
stock is now $1,000,000. The business was continued at North Attle- 
Jboro until 1876, when the principal business was moved to New York 
City. The company does a stamping and blanking business, includ- 
ing sterling silver, brass and sheet metal. 

In 1905 Mr. Bilton organized the Standard Manufacturing Com- 
pany and became its first president, serving as its chief executive as 
well as treasurer during the existence of the corporation. The first 
location of this company was on Noble Avenue and for a time after 
its inception confined its operations largely to commercial work. The 
business was a success from the start, yet was in the position of having 
to make its way as it went along by utilizing profits for experimental 
and development work. In November, 1906, the business was 
removed to 990 Housatonic Avenue, where the original plant con- 
sisted of a building, 82 by 90 feet in dimensions, three stories in height, 
and with a power house on the side. The growth of the business has 
been wonderful and its product for fire escape iron work for build- 
ings, automatic gear cutting and milling machinery, special machin- 
ery, sheet metal goods and telephones, has been shipped to all parts 
of the country. 

In November, 1915, the Parsons Foundry Plant was purchased 
by interests close to the Standard Manufacturing Plant, which 
assured a certain supply of material for the company. This close 
association continued until May, 1917, when the Bilton Machine Tool 
Company succeeded to the business of both plants, under which firm 
name the industries are now conducted and constitute one of the 
important industrial enterprises of the city. 







Modem banking systems dale back to the Bank of Venice, whieli 
was founded in 1587, though private individuals in Venice had been 
receiving deposits of money for nearly two centuries before the estab- 
lishment of the bank by authority of the Venetian government. In 
1619 the Bank of Amsterdam, which was modeled to a great extent 
after the Bank of Venice, was opened for business. After a short 
time it introduced the innovation of accepting bullion for deposit 
and issued receipts therefor, the receipts circulating as so much cur- 
rencj'. This was the origin of the financial theory that a paper cur- 
rency must be redeemable in specie or bullion. When the Bank of 
England was founded in 1694, it adopted the system of the Bank of 
Amsterdam, and a little later the system was extended in the author- 
ity granted to the bank to issue notes. 

Toward the close of the Revolutionary war the Continental paper 
currency issued by the American colonies became so depreciated in 
value that some financial legislation was necessary. Consequently, 
on the last day of the year 1781 the Continental Congress passed an 
act granting a charter to the Bank of North America, which was given 
the right to issue notes under a plan similar to that of the Bank of 

VuLI— K 




England. The states of New York and Massachusetts granted char- 
ters to state banks in 1784, but with the adoption of the Federal Con- 
stitution both the state banks and the Bank of North America sur- 
rendered their charters and, on February 25, 1794, Congress incor- 
porated the Bank of the United States. In July, 1832, President 
Andrew Jackson vetoed the bill renewing the bank's charter, and a 
little later the public funds in the bank were withdrawn by executive 
order. The bank continued in business, however, until the expiration 
of the time for which it was chartered, when it wound up its aiFairs 
and passed out of existence. 

With the closing up of the Bank of the United States, the several 
states began the policy of issuing charters to state banks, under author- 
ity conferred by Acts of Congress. The next decade witnessed a 
rapid development of the country's natural resources, with the conse- 
quent demand for a larger volume of currency, and in the early '40s 
was inaugurated the era of what is known in American history as 
"wildcat banks." Under this system individuals could establish a 
bank and "issue notes against their assets." They were not subject to 
government supervision or inspection and unscrupulous persons took 
advantage of the system by issuing notes far in excess of their assets. 
It is estimated that at one time there were mpre than 600 of these 
irresponsible banks scattered throughout the country. The panic of 
1857 drove many of the wildcat banks out of business, but the system 
continued until after the beginning of the Civil war in 1861. So 
many people had suffered loss through worthless bank notes that a 
prejudice was created in their minds against any banking system. 

But the requirements of modern civilization demand a currency 
of some character as a quick and convenient medium of effecting ex- 
changes. Added to this demand were the conditions growing out 
of the Civil war, which made an extension of the national credit 
imperative. In F'ebruary, 1868, Congress passed the first act for the 
establishment of national banks, with authority to issue notes based 
upon government bonds as security for their redemption. The act 
proved to be defective in a number of important particulars and on 
June 3, 1864, President Lincoln approved another national banking 
act, which, with subsequent amendments, constitutes the authority un- 
der which nearly eight thousand national banks were operating in the 
United States in 1915. The national banks are the only ones in this 
country that have power to issue notes, all other banks being merely 
institutions of discount and deposit. 




When the Revolutionary war opened the State of Connecticut 
had no banks, nor any surplus wealth or extended trade. There were 
just about 200,000 people in the state, spread over the large territory. 
ITie principal occupation was farming, even doctors, attorneys, mer- 
chants and men of other trades carried on farming. The largest 
towns and their population were as follows ; Nejv Haven, 8,295 ; Nor- 
wich, 7,327; Farmington, 6;069; New London, 5,888; Stratford, 
5,553; Woodbury, 5,313; Hartford, 5,031; Wallingford, 4,915; Mid- 
dletown, 4,878; Fairfield, 4,863. Trade with the West Indies, the 
exchange of horses, lumber and provisions for rum, sugar and molas- 
ses, formed the, principal part of the foreign business. To carry on 
this trade there was not a dollar of surplus capital. Consequently, all 
trade was barter, no currency being available. 

The General Court of Connecticut held unto itself the power of 
issuing bills to circulate as money. In 1732 it had granted a charter 
for commercial operations to The New London Society United for- 
Trade and Commerce, which shortly afterward began the issuance 
of notes similar to the colonial bills of credit. Immediately the Gen- 
eral Assembly called a special session and repealed the charter of the 
New London Society, also passed an act which declared that whoso- 
ever should presume to "Strike or emit any bills of credit of the nature 
or tenor of bills of credit on this government," or on any fund or credit 
of any person or persons, or of any society, to be used in lieu of money, 
should be subject to the same pains and penalties of those that are 
guilty of forging or counterfeiting bills of credit. Through the opera- 
tion of this act colonial bills of credit formed the sole paper money 
supply of the colony. By 1770 there were no bills of credit in the 
colony, which meant that the colony was out of debt, also there were 
no bills of other colonies in circulation here. This left the only money 
to be had in silver coin. 

The "shot heard 'round the world" at I^exington in April, 1775, 
changed this condition entirely. The Connecticut Legislature met 
and voted 50,000 pounds sterling in bills to meet expenses, follow- 
ing shortly afterward with 100,000 pounds more. The Continental 
Congress also set to work issuing bills and it is estimated' that in 1780 
there was outstanding $241,552,780 of the latter kind alone, while at 
the beginning of that year paper stood in Philadelphia at $40 to $1 in 
coin. This depreciation of paper currency was a serious matter, and 
the Connecticut Legislature in that year repealed its laws making both 



the state and Continental bills legal tender. The larger part of its 
old bills having been retired the state issued 190,000 pounds in bills 
of credit called "new tenor," bearing interest at 5 per cent, which were 
to be used in the state as legal tender, or the equivalent of coin. In 
January. 1781, $100 of the Continental bills were worth but $1 in 
specie, and then their credit depreciated so rapidly that by the end of 
May they ceased to have any value as currency. They were after- 
wards used as an article of speculation. It is said that the people 
became tired of "the condition of currency which required $500 in 
paper to pay for a breakfast that could be bought for a silver half- 


In January, 1702, a series of articles appeared in the Connecticut 
Courant, published at Hartford, advocating the establishment of a 
bank at that city. The writer signed himself "A Patriot" and put 
. forth some strong arguments in favor of such a move. A petition was 
circulated and every preparation made for the move upon the Assem- 
bly. John Trumbull, author of note, who represented the Town of 
Hartford in the Legislature that year, and who was afterward a 
judge of the Supreme Court of Errors; Chauncey Goodrich, after- 
ward member of Congress, United States senator and lieutenant gov- 
ernor; and Noah Webster, the noted lexicographer, were appointed 
a committee to secure an Act of Incorporation from the Legislature. 
Accordingly the charter of the Hartford Bank, the first one in the 
state, was granted at the May session of 1792. 

Also, at the same session the Legislature granted a charter to 
"The President, Directors and Company of the Union Bank in New 
London," the capital stock of which was to consist of not less than 
$50,000 nor more than $100,000, divided into shares of $100 each. 

At the October session of the same year the General Assembly 
incorporated the New Haven Bank, with $100,000 capital. However. 
no organization was effected until the charter was amended in October, 
1795, authorizing a capital stock of $50,000. 

An act uicorporating the Middletown Bank was passed at the Oc- 
tober session,' 1795, and the Norwich Bank secured an Act of Incor- 
poration at the May session of 1796. These five banks were incorpo- 
rated ten years before another bank made its appearance in Connecti- 
cut — this was the Bridgeport Bank. 







At the October session of the General Assembly, 1806, it was 

"That a bank may be established in the Borough of Bridgeport 
by the name of the Bridgeport Bank, the capital stock whereof shall 
consist of not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000, divided into 
shares of $200 each. 

"And John S. Cannon, Salmon Hubbell, Lambert Loekwood and 
Isaac Hinman, all of said Bridgeport, and their associates, successors 
and assigns, be and they are incorporated and made a corporation and 
body politic by the name of 'The President, Directors and Company 
of the Bridgeport Bank.' " 

It was further enacted that 

"Any person, co-partnership or body politic may subscribe and at 
any time hold in his, her or their names any number of shares of stock 
of said bank — provided, however, that the State of Connecticut shall 
at no time hold shares to a greater, amount than one-fifth of all the 
shares then held in said bank, unless with the consent of the directors 
thereof, and that the shares subscribed by the state shall be considered 
an addition to and not included in the capital stock whenever the whole 
stock subscribed shall amount to $200,000." 

It was also provided 

"That the number of directors, exclusive of the one whom the statt 
should appoint in case it held $5,000 of the stock of the bank, should 
be nine. 

"And that none but stockholders shall be eligible as directors, and 
not less than two-thirds of the directors shall be actual residents in 
the County of Fairfield, and not less than four of said directors shall 
be resident in said borough, nor shall more than three-fourths of the 
(lirectors in office, exclusive of the President, be eligible as directors 
by the stockholders the next succeeding year; but the director who shall 
be president at any election may always be elected as director." 

It was still further enacted that 

"The total amount of debts which the said corporation shall at 
any time owe, whether by bond, bill or note, shall not exceed 50 per 
cent over and above the capital stock of said bank and the amount of 
monies or bullion at any time actually deposited at the bank for safe 
keeping, and that all notes issued at the bank shall be paid in gold or 
silver com. 

"The said Cannon, Hubbell, Loekwood and Hinman are hereby 



authorized to open subscriptions for the capital of said bank, at such 
time and place as they shall think best, receive the first deposits and 
after said subscription, to call a meeting of the stockholders to choose 
directors at such time as the said Cannon, etc., shall judge best; 5 
per cent on the sum subscribed shall be paid at the time of subscrip- 
tion ; 20 per cent on each share shall be paid at the end of sixty days 
from the time of subscribing; 25 per cent three months after said last 
mentioned payment, and the residue in six months after the third 

In November the following appears in the Bridgeport Advertiser 
and other state papers ; 

"Subscription books for the Bridgeport Bank will be opened at 
the house of Ezra Gregory, in said Bridgeport, on the last Monday 
of December next at 10 o'clock A. M., and continue open until 6 
o'clock P. M. of the ^Vednesday next following, being the last day 
of December aforesaid. The extent of the capital allowed by char- 
ter for this bank is $200,000 — to he divided into shares of $200 each. 
Five per cent on each share must be paid at the time of subscribing 
in specie or in notes of the United States Bank, or either of the banks 
in New York or New Jersey ; 20 per cent in sixty days from subscrib- 
ing, and the residue subject to the order of the directors at public 
notice as by grant. 

"John S. Cannon, 
"Salmon Hubbell, 
"Lambert Lockwood, 
"Isaac Hinman." 

The capital stock was subscribed for by sixty-eight individuals and 
firms, and of the 1,000 shares Isaac Bronson & Company, of Gr^n- 
field Hill, subscribed for 656. Only seventy shares were taken by the 
residents of the Borough and eighteen to the residents of the Town 
of Stratford were credited outside of the borough. The Bridgeport 
subscribers were: 

George Hayt Two shares. 

Samuel C. Kirtland & Company Two shares. 

Foote & Nichols One share. 

Elijah Waterman One share. 

Lambert Lockwood Three shares. 

John S. Cannon Eleven shares. 

William Peet Nine shares. 



Isaac Hinman Twenty- two shares. 

Isaac Hinman & Company Sixteen shares. 

Salmon Hubhell Eight shares. 

Abi jah Hawley One share. 

Ezra Gregory One share. 

The united capital invested by Bridgeport people upon this first 
installment amounted only to $8,900. The fact that the capital stock 
equaled one-third the total banking capital of the state held no attrac- 
tion to the trade and commercial interests of Bridgeport. It is known 
that Isaac Bronson was the leading spirit of the enterprise. He took 
the balance of the stock after everyone else had taken what they 
wished. He was a wealthy banker of New York City and to him a 
bank under the laws as then existing, with the powers and privileges 
which the state granted, would supply financial advantages for his 
capital, which otherwise he would not have. Mr. Franklin Sherwood 
writes of Bronson as follows: 

"There can be no question of the fact that Doctor Bronson was 
the moving spirit in securing the charter of the bank, nor that he was 
the ruling spirit of its management until he severed his connection 
with it a quarter of a century later. He was close, calculating and 
cold blooded, with the faculty of money-getting largely developed, 
BJid this was the ruling trait of his character as handed down to us. 
He ran the bank practically as his private corporation until declining 
years prevented him from giving it that personal attention which he 
believed his interests demanded, and then he closed out his stock and 
retired better satisfied in placing his capital elsewhere than in having 
it.under the control of his colleagues in the management of that insti- 
tution." Mr. Bronson died in 1887 at the age of seventy-seven years. 

On February 3, 1807, the stockholders met at the house of Ezra 
Gregory, inn keeper, for the purpose of choosing directors. Joseph 
Goodwin of Lenox, Massachusetts, was chosen chairman and, upon 
counting the votes, it was found that the following were chosen as 
directors : Isaac Bronson ; Birdsey Norton, of Goshen, N. Y. ; Sam- 
uel W. Johnson of Stratford; John S. Cannon, Salmon Hubhell, 
Lambert Lockwood and David Minott, of Bridgeport; Jessup Wake- 
man, of Fairfield; and Ebenezer Jessup, of Saugatuck. 

On the following day the four resident directors, with S. W. 
Johnson and Isaac Hinman, were appointed as a committee to pur- 
chase a lot and erect a banking house with suitable accommodations for 
the cashier and also to lease a building for temporary use. Mr. Bronson 



was also requested to go to New York City and secure the necessary 
bank note plates and other stock for the issue of bank bills. On Marcli 
24th the board fixed the cashier's salary as $700 per annum, with the 
privilege of the banking house for a home for his family. Capt. 
George Hayt, who resided on Water Street between State and Union 
streets, was chosen the first cashier. Isaac Bronson was, of course, the 
first president of the jiew institution. The first building of this bank 
was a two-story-and-a-half structure on the southwest comer of Main 
and Bank streets. This building was remodeled in 1857 and an addi- 
tional story built. In 1884-85 the Bridgeport Bank and the City 
Savings Bank constructed the Union Bank Building on the corner of 
Main and Bank streets. 

That the capital of the Bridgeport Bank was not intended to be 
used in Bridgeport is shown by a resolution passed July 15, 1807, at 
which time there had been 25 per cent of the capital stock, or $50,000, 
paid in. This resolution reads: 

"Resolved, That the funds of the bank heretofore loaned by Isaac 
Bronson in New York on his own responsibility, and for which t)ie 
bank holds his notes, payable on demand, being now tendered to the 
bank by said Bronson, shall not be considered in future at the risk ol' 
said Bronson in case of war breaking out. But he is requested and 
hereby authorized to secure the same in the best manner he can, on 
loan or otherwise, for the benefit of this institution." 

Under the charter the bank was authorized to issue its own notes 
to an amount of 50 per cent in excess of its capital stock and deposits, 
and, as the demand for loans in Bridgeport was very small, it is prob- 
able that Bronson technically borrowed from the bank on his own 
note such portion of its capital and notes of issue as he could loan 
in his own name in New York, paying the bank such interest as left 
him a fairly sized profit. War clouds on the horizon undoubtedly 
caused Mr. Bronson to bum his financial bridges behind him. It has 
been said that one of his theories in regard to banks of issue was that 
capital was unnecessary except to inspire confidence in their patrons. 
So long as the people would accept paper without question, without 
returning them for redemption, the printing press would supply all 
the capital the bank required. In fact, the whole banking system of 
this day, in the whole state, was shaped in regard to this theory. 
Hence, it was more desirable to make loans to individuals and compa- 
nies at a distance than at home, as there was less chance of the paper 
currency being presented for redemption. 

Notwithstanding the fact that capital occupied so uncertain a posi- 



tion, the banks themselves so conducted business as to impair the 
very confidence they sought to inspire. In February, 1808, the Bridge- 
port Bank passed the following; "Resolved, That in future no bills of 
any bank in this state shall be received in payment for notes, ex- 
changed for Bridgeport paper, or received on deposit." 

However, the other banks in the state were equally as solvent. 
They, too, followed the example set by the Bridgeport Bank, so con- 
sequently the Bridgeport Bank found no circulation for its biUs ex- 
cept at "home or in the near vicinity. 

The D_erby Bank was chartered in October, 1809, and owing to 
its closeness to the Bridgeport institution an arrangement Was made 
between the two relating to the circulation of their bills. This con- 
nection was not a profitable one in the end. Bronson retired from the 
presidency in 1823 and was succeeded by John S. Cannon. The 
charter of the Derby Bank was revoked by the General Assembly in 
1826, and Mr. Cannon dying in the following year, Mr. Bronson 
again took upon himself the management of the Bridgeport Bank- 
In 1882 he disposed of his entire interest in the bank and retired from 
the management. He was succeeded November 7> 1832, by Ebenezer 
Jessup, of Saugatuck; also. Cashier Hayt, on account of ill liealth. 
resigned and was succeeded by Charles Hill, of Catskill, N. Y. The 
new management did not possess the business sagacity of the forjner 
controlling heads and they soon became enamoured with the wild land 
speculation which ended a few years later in a grand financial crash. 
They used the bank to further their speculations, so when the collapse 
came the bank was found to be deeply involved and the stock worth 
no more than fifty cents on the doUari Upon the election of Sylvanus 
Sterling to the presidency and George Burroughs to the position of 
cashier, it is probable that the total assets of the bank did not total 
$110,000. To help in this predicament the General Assembly ordered 
an additional $100,000 of new stock, but it was not until five years 
after that the bank was able to pay a dividend. 


Phis is a period of interest in the history of Connecticut and 
affected the future organization of Bridgeport banks. For over a 
score of years the Hartford Bank, styled the "Old Bank," had been 
the leading institution of Hartford and all nearby territory. Some 
people claimed that they had not been used fairly by the Hartford 
bank and began to plan for the establishment of another bank, even 



more powerful. In the spring of 1814 petitions were circulated 
throughout the state asking the General Assembly to grant a diarter 
for a bank with a capital of $1,500,000, and following the example 
of the bank of the United States, offered "in conformity to prece- 
dents in other states, to pay into the treasury of the stale for the 
benefit of the state the sum of $60,000, to be collected as a tax or 
premium of 4 per cent." 

The petition which was presented to the General Assembly was 
somewhat altered, and made to include a branch at Litchfield, and for 
the clause above quoted the following was substituted: 

"And they offer, in conformity to the precedents in the other 
states, to pay for the privilege of incorporation herein prayed for the 
sum of $60,000, to be appropriated — if in the opinion of your honors 
it shall be deemed expedient — in such proportions as by your honors 
may be thought proper, to the use of the corporation of Yale Col- 
lege or the medical institution established in the City of New flaven, 
and to the corporation of the trustees of the fund of the bishop of the 
Episcopal Church in this state, or to be otherwise disposed of for the 
use of the state, or for any purpose whatsoever which to your honors 
may seem best." 

In this line of thought, it may be well to quote the statement of 
the General Assembly at the time the Declaration of Independence 
was approved in 1776. This was: "Voted, That the form of civil 
government in this state shall continue to be as established by charter 
received from Charles The Second, King of England, so far as adher- 
ence to the same will be consistent with an absolute independence of 
this state on the Crown of Great Britain." 

The state had no other constitution in 1814. The federalists were 
dominant and they opposed the calling of a state convention to frame 
a constitution. The republicans were in the minority and their pleas 
for better ordering of the legislative, executive and judiciarj-- powers 
were unheeded. The federalists believed in letting well enough alone. 

On the other hand, although the Presbyterian and Congregational 
churches, established in the early days of the colony, had lost some 
of the old privileges, under the law every dissenter, to be relieved from 
the payment of taxes for the support of that church, was compelled to 
place with the clerk of the society of which he was a member a certifi- 
cate of having joined with some other ecclesiastical societ)', while those 
who did not attend public worship in any church were taxed, never- 
theless, for the benefit of the "standing order." This arrangement 
was unsatisfactory to the dissenting bodies, to the Methodists and 



Baptists because they were opposed to any union of churches and to 
the Episcopalians because they were opposed to the union of the 
Presbyterian Church and the state. The majority of the federalists 
were members of the "standing order," and when the Episcopalians 
applied for the grant of a charter for a college it was refused, as they 
would not consider a rival to Yale College in the state. 

Some of the men who were prominent in the movement for a new 
bank were Episcopalians and the modification of the original petition 
was a clever means of pledging the Presbyterian majority in the Gen- 
eral Assembly to the Bishop's Fund, made more attractive by a sim- 
ilar grant to Yale College, the same to be accomplished without draw- 
ing a cent from the state treasury. The proposition to establish a 
branch at Litchfield was meant to secure the votes in the western 
parts of the state. 

During this time the directors of the Hartford Bank were not 
idle, but presented a memorial in opposition, oifering to increase their 
capital stock $1,000,000 and to pay the state a bonus of 5 per cent 
on that sum, or $50,000, if the General Assembly thought to enlarge 
the banking capital of the state. 

The Presbyterian members were also shrewd and although the 
petition passed the house it was rejected in the council. A committee 
of conference was appointed, but, before it reported, a bill for public 
act, independent of any petition, was introduced and finally passed in 
both houses. Under it the "President, Directors and Company of the 
Phoenix Bank" in Hartford was incorporated with a capital of $1,- 
000,000 ; one- fourth of the capital to be emploj-ed in a branch at Litch- 
field. A bonus of $.50,000 was paid into the treasury of the state. At 
the same session of the General Assembly there was appropriated out 
of the first monies paid into the treasury of the state in pursuance 
of the act incorporating the Phoenix Bank, $20,000 to the medical 
institution of Yale College. The General Assembly refused to make 
any more appropriations of the monies to come from that source. 

The Episcopalians claimed that, by the petition, they were entitled 
to a portion for the Bishop's Fund ; that the petition was granted in 
fact if not in form by the charter to the bank and the grant to the 
medical institution. The Presbyterians, on the other hand, claimed 
that the petition was not granted and that by the act of incorporation 
the money was to go into the state treasury to be used as the General 
Assembly might direct. They accused the Episcopalians of various 
things, mainly criticising them for telling the General Assembly how 
to appropriate the money. 



Then began the great "Contestation." Both sides became very 
bitter in their accusations against the other. The Episcopalians con- 
tinued to press their claims for a portion of the bonus and a college 
charter, but without success. In 1816 they seceded from the federalist 
party and joined with the republicans under the name of the "Tolera- 
tion" party. The new party obtained complete control of the legis- 
lative and executive branches of the state government in 1818. The 
net result was a call for a constitutional convention and the separa- 
tion of the church and state in the framing and adoption of the pres- 
ent constitution of Connecticut. The Phoenix Bank must be consid- 
ered as the starting point of all the trouble which had arisen. 

The bonus from the Phoenix Bank had long before been spent for 
general purposes. In 1820 the General Assembly, to liquidate any 
claim that they might have, bestowed upon the trustees the grant of 
a lottery, with liberty to raise a sum of $15,000 after all expenses had 
been deducted. The General Assembly agreed not to grant any other 
lottery within five years. This was accepted and on February 28th 
assigned to Frederick Lee and John Babcock, from whom they re- 
ceived the sum of $7,004.88 therefor. This was the first instance in 
the history of bank corporations in this state where a bonus was made 
a condition for the granting of a charter by the General Assembly. 
The next bank chartered after the Phoenix Bank which was compelled 
to pay a bonus to the state was the Connecticut Bank of Bridgeport. 


The Connecticut National Bank of Bridgeport was founded in 
1865, although the parent institution came into existence in 1831, when 
at the May session of that year the General Assembly of Connecticut 
chartered a bank at Bridgeport under the name of "The President, 
Directors arid Company of the Connecticut Bank." The institution 
was capitalized for $200,000, the par value of each share being made 
$100. Its capital stock could be increased to an amount not exceed- 
ing $300,000, while the rules of the bank made it necessary that five 
of the nine directors should be residents of Bridgeport. It was pro- 
vided that within three months after the directors shall begin to dis- 
count they shall establish a branch in the village of Mill River (now 
Soiithport) in the Town of Fairfield, and that one-third part of the 
capital of said bank shall be employed in said branch. It was further 
provided that the bank should within twelve months from the same 
time pay to the treasurer of Yale College seven-tenths of $5,000, and 


ton">:kcticut national bank, Bridgeport 

Digitized byGOOgle 



to the treasurer of Washington College (now Trinity) three-tenthi 
of $5,000, and at the expiration of two years should pay a further 
sum of seven-tenths of $5,000 to Yale College and three-tenths of 
$5,000 to Washington College. In 1831 the bank was organized with 
Ezekiel Hubbell as the president and for about two years occupie^l 
a building at the northwest corner of Wall and Water streets. In 1888 
a removal was made to the northeast comer of Main and Wall streets, 
where a building was erected for the purpose, and there the bank has 
since been conducted. In 1851 the Southport Bank was chartered and 
on the 1st of July of that year the property was divided, two-thirds to 
the Connecticut Bank and one-third to the Southport Bank, while in 
1855 the capital stock was increased to $100,000. On the 21st of Feb- 
ruary, 1865, the directors voted to obtain if possible the consent of the 
stockholders to make the institution a national bank and this was voted 
at a special meeting of the stockholders and the bank was so organ- 
ized on the 17th of March, 1865. The following dayHervey Highy 
was elected president with John T. Shelton cashier. The growth of 
the business necessitated the erection of a more commodious bank 
building in 1885 and in 1911 the present bank building was erected. 
Daniel Thatcher succeeded to the presidency, following Mr. Hubbell 
in 1835, and so served until 1848. For sixteen years thereafter Philo 
C. Calhoun was at the head of the bank and from 1864 to 1875 Hervey 
Higby was president. Daniel H. Sterling occupied that position from 
June 5, 1875, to March, 1877, and was succeeded by Samuel W. Bald- 
win, who remained the incumbent until 1914. On the I2th of Janu- 
ary, 1915, Hamilton S. Shelton was elected to the presidency. The 
following cashiers have served in turn: Charles Foote, John T. Shel- 
ton, Henry B. Drew, Hamilton S. Shelton and L. B. Powe, the last 
named being made cashier February 20, 1917. The bank has a paid- 
in capital of $832,100 and a surplus fund of almost equal amount. 


The First Bridgeport National Bank is the result of the merging 
of three banks — the First National Bank, the Bridgeport National 
Bank and the Pequonnock National Bank. 

Much of the early history of the Bridgeport Bank has been writ- 
ten in the first paragraphs of this chapter. Following Sylvanus Ster- 
ling the following men served as president of this bank until the time 
of its merger with the First National Bank in 1909: Hanford Lyon, 
Sherman Hartwell, Munson Hawley and Thomas B. DeForest. 



The Pequonnock National Bank was incorporated in May, 1851, 
with a capita] stock of $200,000. The subscription book was opened 
on the first Tuesday of August, 1851, under the supervision of three 
commissioners, Charles Adams, John Gould and W, A. Judson. The 
first meeting of the stockholders was held at the Sterling House on 
Monday, August 11, 1851. The following were chosen directors at 
this time: P. T. Bamum, Charles B. Hubbell, Samuel F. Hurd, 
Munson Hawley, Seth B. Jones, Thomas Ransom, Philo F. Barnum, 
Joseph Thompson and Samuel B. Peck. In the autunm the bank 
erected a building on the comer of Main and State streets, the busi- 
ness being conducted in one of the stores in the Bailey Block on State 
Street during the erection. The following men ser\'ed as president 
of this institution until the time of its merging with the First Bridge- 
port National Bank in 1913: P. T. Barnum, Charles B. Hubbell, 
Clapp Spooner, Slunson Hawley, Charles B. Hotchkiss, David Tru- 
bee and P. W. Wren. 

The First National Bank of Bridgeport was organized March 18, 
1864, and was a successor of the Farmers Bank. At the time of the 
organization Edmund S. Hawley was elected president and William 
E. Seeley cashier. The bank organized with a capital of $210,000. 
William E. Seeley afterwards became president and in 1906 Charles 
G. Sanford was chosen for the office. 

The Bridgeport National Bank merged with the First National 
Bank in 1909 and the Pequonnock National Bank came into the cor- 
poration in 1913. The name was changed to the First Bridgeport 
National Bank at the time of the first merger in 1909. This bank, 
now occupying one of the handsomest bank buildings in New Eng- 
land and the "skyscraper" of Bridgeport, is officered as follows: 
Charles G. Sanford, president; P. W. Wren, vice president; O. H. 
Brothwell, cashier; H. C. Woodworth, F. N. Benham, Jr., and F. \V. 
Hall, assistant cashiers. The capital stock of this institution is $1,000,- 
000; the surplus, $600,000; undivided profits, $4.12,000; and the de- 
posits amount to about $7,000,000. 


The City National Bank of Bridgeport has now reached its sixt>'- 
seventh year of a prosperous existence that has made it one of the 
strong financial factors of the state. It was organized in 1854 as 
a state bank with a capital stock of $100,000, issued in 1,000 shares 
of $100 each. Its location was on Bank Street, opposite the postoflice. 



but subsequently a removal was made to Wall and Water streets, 
where the bank was housed until 1861, when the present bank build- 
ing on Wall Street was erected. Back of the new enterprise were men 
of well known business ability and substantial worth. Adam P. Hous- 
ton became the first president, with George H. Fairchild as cashier, 
and together with these on the board of directors were Silas C. Booth. 
Philo H. Skidmore, Ira Gregory, Starr Beach, Alfred Cook and 
Eli Thompson. On the 10th of January, 1856, Mr. Houston retired 
and S. Ferris Hurd was chosen president, so continuing until April 
27, 1857, when he was succeeded by Ira Sherman. On the I8th of 
January, 1858, Sherwood Sterling was elected president and upon his 
death George B. Waller was elected to the office. In the meantime tht; 
institution had been converted from a state to a national bank on the 
21st of March, 186.5. After an incumbency of more than nine years 
Jlr. Waller retired and Daniel N. Morgan became president Janu- 
ary 17, 1870, remaining at the head of the institution until June 1, 
1893, when President Cleveland appointed him treasurer of the 
United States. His resignation was followed by the election of E. G. 
Sanford, who remained at the head of the bank (of which he had 
become a director on the 9th of January, 1877) until his death in 
1906, when Frank Miller became president and is now its executive 
head. The cashiers in turn were: George H. Fairchild, Eleazer La- 
oey, Robert T. Clarke, John H. Fayerweather, Thomas L, Bartholo- 
mew and F. J. Banks. Frederick C. Burroughs afterward became 
cashier in the bank which he had entered as a boy January 17, 1881, 
and filled the cashiership until December 1, 1904, when Charles E. 
Hough succeeded him and remains in that position. 

The bank has maintained an unsullied reputation through all the 
years of its existence, and in the panic of 1857 its bills were the only 
circulating medium of money in Bridgeport. They were accepted 
by merchants and others upon the guarantee of their redemption by 
the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company. 

In 1888 the bank remodeled and improved its present quarters, 
but still its facilities were inadequate, and in December, 1903, it se- 
cured the entire floor of the building for its own use. The home of the 
bank is most attractive in its furnishings and equipment. Among 
the recent improvements are the rooms set apart for women customers, 
with a young lady in charge to aid them in every possible way. Theii' 
three vaults are fire and burglar proof, with a splendid safety deposit 
vault department. Its present deposits amount to more than $7,000,- 
000. Since the institution was organized as a national bank ninety- 



six consecutive dividends have been paid amounting to $875,000. The 
bank is capitalized for $250,000 and has surplus and undivided profits 
of $545,000, with deposits of more than $7,000,000. 


The Bridgeport Savings Bank was the first institution of its kind 
to obtain a charter in Fairfield County. At that time the city had 
just entered upon the twenty- first year of its existence and its wealth 
was comparatively small when the conditions of the old colonial towns 
were considered. On the 31st of May, 1842, Governor Chauncey F. 
Cleveland signed the Act of Incorporation and the names of the in- 
corporators appearing on the charter were Benjamin Wheeler, Bird- 
sey G. Noble, W. B, Dyer, Mark Moore, Samuel Simons, W. H. 
Noble, Josiah Hubbell, Stephen Hawley, Sherwood Sterling, Wyllys 
Stillman, Smith Tweedy, David Perry, Samuel Stratton, Gideon 
Thompson, Henry Shelton, Wilson Hawley, Thomas Ranson, Lem- 
uel Coleman, Joshua Lord, Schuyler Seeley, Starr Beach and Elihu 
Beach. The bank was opened in the store of Sherwood and George 
Sterling, wholesale and retail iron merchants of Water Street, and 
the following year a removal was made to a small room near the north- 
east comer of Water and Wall streets, for which they paid an annual 
rental of $12. In 1845 the bank was moved to 21 Wail Street, occupy- 
ing a room on the second floor of the building for which a rental 
of $40 a year was paid. The next step was the purchase of a 
lot at Main and State streets for $2,100, on which they erected a brick 
building, and when the growth of the business necessitated larger 
quarters a new building was erected on the same site at a cost of 
$60,000, and has since been used for banking purposes. This building 
was torn down in 1916 to make way for a new and larger building 
covering the site of the old building and the two adjoining pieces of 
property. This building is now, 1917, in process of construction and 
will be, when completed, one of the most beautiful buildings in thf; 

The oflicers of the bank, always men of high ability, have contrib- 
uted much to the development of the city and its business interests. 
The first officers were : Sherwood Sterhng, president ; Josiah Hubbell 
and W. B. Dyer, vice presidents; Smith Tweedy, treasurer; and Wil- 
liam H. Noble, secretary. The next year the president and treasurer 
exchanged offices and Mr. Tweedy served from August, 1848, to 
the 29th of June, 1850. He was succeeded by David O. Wheeler, 







who continued in the office until June 30, 1851, when Lemuel Cole- 
man became the fourth president and occupied the office until June 
25, 1864. Mr. Sterling then again accepted the presidency and served 
for six years, at which time he was also president of the City National 
Bank, holding both positions until his death, which occurred October 
31, 1869, when he had reached the age of sixty-six and one-half years. 
Herv'ey Higby was president from 1870 until June 19, 1875, when 
he was succeeded by Edmund S. Hawley, who remained until 1894 
at the head of the institution, in which he has been a trustee or officer 
for forty-one consecutive years. In 1859 he had been elected to the 
presidency of the Farmers Bank,, now the First National Bank. 
Monetary affairs had always been of deep interest to him and he 
possessed intimate knowledge of finance and banking. The presi- 
dency passed to Samuel C. Trubee in 1894 and he remained at the 
head until 1900. The incumbency of Thomas B. De Forest as presi- 
dent continued from 1900 until 1918, when he was succeeded by Fred- 
erick B. Hawley, the present executive head. The treasurers of the 
bank have been Smith Tweedy, who, as previously stated, exchanged 
positions with Sherwood Sterling, who remained as treasurer for two 
years. George Sterling was then called to the position, which he 
filled from 1843 until 1871. ' Charles P. Porter occupied the office 
from 1871 until 1882 and Alexander Hawley from 1882 until 1911. 
In that year S. M. Hawley was called to the position. He is one of 
Bridgeport's native sons, bom in 1877, and all of his life has been 
spent in this city. He has been connected with the bank continuously 
since 1903, entering it as clerk and working his way upward through 
various intermediate positions to the office which he now holds. The 
trustees of the Bridgeport Savings Bank have always been men of 
high moral and business standing, prominent in the public as well as 
in the industrial and commercial life of the community. 

The first deposit of the bank was made by Mark Moore for his 
daughter, Helen Moore, December 24, 1842, and on the 1st of Janu- 
ary following the bank had seven patrons, its total deposits aggregat- 
ing $97- The business has grown each year from the start. In the 
first year the dividend declared was $381.74. The deposits now 
amount to $10,650,000, and in 1916 a dividend of $376,192.50 was 
declared. There were 21,400 depositors in January, 1917. Ten peo- 
{>Ie are employed in the bank and from the beginning the institution 
has held to the highest standards and its fair name has never been 



people's SAVINOS BANK 

The People's Savings Bank of Bridgeport was organized in 1860 
by special act of the General Assembly, the organizers being Nathan- 
iel Wheeler, James C. Loomis, Sherwood Sterling, Ira Sherman, P. C. 
Calhoun, George B. Waller, Frederick Wood, Samuel B. Fergu&on, 
Robert T. Clark, Abijah Hawley, Thomas Ransom, James Daskain, 
Elbert E. Hubbell, AVilliam G. Lineburgh, William H; Perry, 
Henry Burr and Stephen Hawley. The first officers, elected July 2, 
1860, were: Ira Sherman, president; George B. Waller, vice presi- 
dent; and Stephen Hawley, treasurer; with Abajah Hawley, Thomas 
Ransom, Nathaniel Wheeler, Samuel B. Ferguson, James Daskaiii, 
Elbert E. Hubbell, William G. Lineburgh,- William H. Perry, Brad- 
ley Sanford and Stephen S. Booth as trustees. The first vote which 
they took was for the adoption of a seal for the bank — the seal which 
has since been in use. 

They began business in a small room at the corner of State and 
Main streets, over the Pequonnock Bank, and later were located at 
the corner of Wall and Water streets, while subsequently they erected 
a building at the comer of Bank and Main streets, a brick structure 
with high basement in the rear. The first floor and basement were 
used as a store by the Frank Reed Clothing Company. This was in 
1870. The First National Bank quarters were originally on the sec- 
ond floor in the front office, while the People's Savings Bank used the 
rear office. In 1880 the First National Bank occupied the first floor 
and the savings bank thereafter occupied the entire second floor. The 
inside finishings were of heavy black walnut. The bank remained in 
that building until 1905, and then secured temporary quarters at 923 
Main Street, but on the 24th of August, 1907, were installed in their 
new. home at Nos. 924 and 926 Main Street, where they have since 
remained. This building has a twenty-seven foot frontage and a 
depth of ninety-two feet, is one story in height, with mezzanine floor in 
the rear. There are brick side walls laid with cement, while the front is 
of marble and the finishings are of mahogany and metal. Light enters 
through skylights of ornamental glass and the equipment of the bank 
renders it most attractive, while the policy of the institution has made 
it one of the most safe and reliable to be found in Connecticut. In the 
year 1861 the deposits amounted to $108,405.98. Something of the 
continued growth of the business is indicated in the fact that in 1871 the 
deposits were $711,341.79; in 1881, $1,808,246.68; in 1891, $2,371,- 
548.80; in 1901, $3,529,344.83; and in 1911, $5,738,655.28. The total 



assets in 1917 are $8,915,448, with deposits of $8,246,986. Today the 
bank has undivided profits of $198,582, with a surplus of $825,000. 
During the past ten years it has paid a 4 per cent dividend. Its first 
safe was an iron one, purchased at a cost of $50. Today the bank uses 
the time-lock fire and burglar proof vaults unsurpassed by those of any 
banking institution in Bridgeport. Air. Sherman continued as the 
first president until his death in May, 1869. He was succeeded on 
the 12th of July of that year by George B. Waller, who remained 
in the oflice until his death, June 24, 1890. WiUiam E. Seeley then 
served as president from June 26, 1890, until death terminated his 
labors August 25, 1905. His successor, Samuel W. Baldwin, served 
from October 8, 1905, until he passed away December 25, 1914, at 
the notable old age of ninety-one years, and on the 7th of January, 
1915, Henry Atwater became the president and so continues. 

The first secretary and treasurer, Stephen Hawley, died in Novem- 
ber, 1861, and was succeeded by Courtland Kelsey, who served from 
January 8, 1861, until he resigned, May 28, 1862. Philip E. Lock- 
wood then occupied the position until June, 1864, when he resigned, 
and on the 17th of that month Joseph F. Hanford was elected to the 
office. His resignation on the 20th of December, 1867, was followed 
by the election of Egbert Marsh, who served until July 6, 1881, when 
he resigned. In the same month Francis W. Marsh became his suc- 
cessor and remained in office for five years. He was followed by 
Edward W. Marsh, who filled the position from June 1, 1886, until 
his death January 23, 1913. Willis H. Lyon was then elected treas- 
urer, January 80, 1918, and still occupies that position. Edward W. 
Marsh resigned as secretary October 25, 1910, and was elected assist- 
ant treasurer, while Frank Hubbard became secretary and has since 
occupied that position. 


The petition for the incorporation of the City Savings Bank of 
Bridgeport was presented to the State Legislature by D. F. HoUis- 
ter and a charter was granted to the institution in May, 1859. The 
first meeting of the stockholders was held at the city council rooms 
July 16, 1859, and the following officers were elected : Hanford Lyon, 
president; Russell Tomlinson, D. H. Sterling, Ira Gregory, D. W. 
Thompson, vice presidents; S. M. Middlebrook, secretary and treas- 
urer; Sherman Hartwell, P. C. Calhoun, Horace Nichols, D. F. Hol- 
lister, George P. Stockwell, Stephen Lounsbury, H. N. Hayes, John 



Brooks, A. A. Pettengai, E. B. Goodsell, Burr Knapp, R. T. Clarke, 
Thomas Hawley, Josiah Baylies and S. C. Booth. 

The first business was conducted in hired rooms on Wall Street, 
near the comer of Water, The presidents of the institution since 
Hanford Lyon have been: Ira Gregory, Horace Nichols, D. F. Hoi- 
lister and Benjamin Fletcher. The bank has been very successful 
throughout its existence and now has deposits close to $10,000,000. 
Willard S. Plumb is the secretary and treasurer of this bank and 
Richmond W. Cogswell is his assistant. 

mechanics' and faemebs' savings bank 

This bank received its charter in 1871, but was not officially organ- 
ized until July, 1873, when the incorporators held their first meet- 
ing and elected a board of trustees; George W. Hayes, president; 
Andrew Burke and George Lewis, vice presidents; and Lyman S. 
Catlin, secretary and treasurer. It was started as an East Bridge- 
port bank and was located on West Washington Avenue, near East 
Main Street. From there the bank was moved to the basement of 
the Connecticut Bank Building, comer of Main and Wall streets, . 
then to the Barnum Building, 407 Main Street, then to the City 
Bank Building, Wall Street, and finally to the new and attractive 
structure at 980 Main Street. The presidents of the institution have 
been: George W. Hayes, William G. Lineburgh, Andrew Burke, 
D. N. Morgan, and John L. Wessels. L. S. Catlin is the treasurer. 
The deposits of this bank are close to $7,000,000. 


The Bridgeport Trust Company is one of the oldest trust com- 
panies in Connecticut. It was incorporated in 1901 and succeeded 
the private banking firm of Marsh, Merwin and Lemmon which was 
established in 1886. This trust company has enjoyed remarkable 
prosperity and speedy development. Starting with $100,000 paid in 
capital, this was increased in 1905 to $200,000 and again in 1913 to 
$500,000, while at the present time the capital and surplus of this 
company exceeds $800,000. The original list of officers at the time 
of organization consisted of Francis W. Marsh, president; Orange 
Merwin, vice president; Edmund H. Judson, treasurer; and Egbert 
Marsh, secretary. In 1907 Mr. Egbert Marsh was elected to the 
vice presidency at the death of Mr. Merwin. In 1913 Mr. Charles 




lilE Kf.7 yoBK . 



G. Sanford succeeded Mr. F. W. Marsh as president and shortly he 
was succeeded by Mr. C. Barnum Seeley. About this time Mr, 
Horace B. Merwin assumed the secretaryship. These officers are 
assisted by an exceptionally strong board of directors consisting of 
some of the most prominent and influential men of the community. 

In February, 1916, this company moved into its beautiful new 
bank building, which' is one of the most up-to-date and attractive 
buildings devoted exclusively to banking in New England. Its safe 
deposit and storage vaults are among the largest and most complete 
on the eastern sea-board. 

As a result of years of development, this company has in opera- 
tion several distinct departments. Its trust department carries on a 
fiduciary business which embraces the handling of estates in all 
branches, together with personal and corporate trusts, offices of reg- 
istrar and transfer agents. Its savings department, which is oper- 
ated under the same conditions as a savings bank, has deposits now 
over tgfo million dollars. Its regular banking department has deposits 
aggregating nearly four million dollars. 

The future of this trust company looks exceptionally bright for 
with a wide-awake and aggressive management, its steady growth 
and rapid development will continue to strengthen its position in the 

The American Bank and Trust Company was established in 
November, 1912. The capital stock of the company is $100,000, the 
surplus $19,000 and the deposits nearly $2,000,000. The officers 
are: M. W. Manwaring, president; L. Kutscher, Jr., vice president; 
E. L. Sullivan, vice president; R. J. McKenzie, vice president; Albert 
\V. Tremain, secretary and treasurer. 

The Southport Trust Company was organized in 1903 and is now 
officered by the following: A. O. Jennings, president; W. H. Perry 
and O. G. Jennings, vice presidents; and R. G. Demarest, secretary 
and treasurer. 

The Stratford Trust Company was recently, 1915, organized. 

E. W. Peck is the president of this institution ; S. W. Hubbell and 

F. S. Beardsley, vice presidents; and W. E. Goodard, secretary and 


The Southport Savings Bank was chartered by the General 
Assembly at its May session, 1854. It was organized in Septem- 



ber, 1854, by the election of the following: Frederick Marquand, 
president; William W. Wakeman, Edwin Sherwood, Augustus Jen- 
nings, vice presidents; Jessup Alvord, Moses Bulkeley, George 
Bulkeley, Oliver H. Perry, Ebenezer Jessup, Simon Sherwood, Wil- 
liam Bulkeley, Allen Nichols, Jonathan Godfrey, Samuel A. 
Nichols, WiUiam Bibbins, John Gould, trustees; F. D. Perry, sec- 
retary and treasurer. The present officers are: John H. Perry, 
president; A. O. Jennings, C. O. Jelliff and W. H. Perry, vice 
presidents; H. H. Perry, treasurer; and C. B. Jennings, assistant 

The Southport National Bank, now defunct, was an institution 
chartered in January, 1832, as a branch of the Connecticut Bank 
of Bridgeport, with Jeremiah Sturges as the first president. This 
connection with the Bridgeport institution discontinued in July, 1851, 
when the Southport bank obtained an independent charter and was 
known as the Southport Bank. It became a national bank in 1865. 
The first capital stock was $100,000. 


The banking department of the Jas. Staples & Company was 
started in 1874 under the style of Staples & Company. T. R. Crut- 
tenden and Frances H. Cruttenden were the partners. The firm of 
James Staples & Company was formed in 1884 through the admis- 
sion of Philip L. Holzer and Frank T. Staples. In 1908 James 
Staples died and since the other two have conducted the business of 
banking. In 1892 the company occupied their own building at 189 
State Street. Prior to this time they had been located on State 
between Main and Water streets, at 283 State Street and at 287 
State Street. 


The firm of T. L. Watson & Company was started in the year 
1866, on November 1st, by Gen. T. L. Watson and Daniel Hatch, 
under the firm name of Hatch & Watson. Watson had been a clerk 
in the old Farmers Bank and also in the City National Bank. After 
the death of Mr. Hatch the business of the firm was conducted under 
the name of T. L. Watson & Company, which title this successful 
banking institution now bears. 





Prior to the coming of the railroads, the date of which may be 
placed as 1836, the highways were the chief avenues of travel and 
for the carriage of produce to the villages and to the water. Ship- 
ping was done almost wholly by vessels plying along the Sound, to 
Boston and New York and intervening points. Overland transfior- 
tation was both expensive and cumbersome and was rarely used. The 
merchants had their stores along the water front and each equipped 
himself with a wharf and from one to five packets for the coasting 

This matter of providing better and more comfortable avenues 
of travel than was afforded by the common highway under town 
control was brought before the General Assembly in 1792. The 
towns hitherto had had charge of the repairing of the highways which 
passed through their territory and, the average town being too poor 
to make any but the necessarj' improvements, the highways were gen- 
erally in very ,poor condition. Every town levied a highway tax, 
which was paid in labor upon the roads. This condition of affairs led 
the General Assembly to take from the control of the towns certain 
main highways leading from one large community to another and 
to authorize the erection upon the roads of gates, where it was made 
lawful to collect toll from travelers, the money thus collected to be 
used exclusively for the improvement of the highways. This arrange- 



ment was satisfactory to the towns, as it freed them from extra high- 
way expense. 

The first turnpike gate in the state was established by a resolu- 
tion passed by the General Assembly at its May session of 1792, 
"authorizing the collection of toll on the road from New London to 
Norwich through the Mohegan Reservation." 

The commissioners were annually, in December, to account for 
the receipts and expenditures of the tolls with the county court of 
Fairfield Coimty, and in default of a proper management could 
be sued by the treasurer of the county "and the sums so recovered 
from them shall be applied under the direction of said court for the 
benefit of said road." 

At the October session of 1797 Jonathan Sturges of Fairfield 
and others were incorporated as "The Saquituck Turnpike Company, 
for erecting and keeping in repair bridges over Saquituck River 
(Saugatuck River) and Sasco Creek, and for establishing, making 
and keeping in repair a turnpike road from Ansel Trubie's in Fair- 
field to Thomas Lockwood's in Norwalk." Under a provision made, 
the towns of Fairfield and Norwalk, Westport not then having been 
set off, were allowed the privilege of subscribing for a certain num- 
ber of shares of the company. Jonathan Sturges was prominent in 
the work of having good roads from New York to New Haven and 
was identified with several turnpike companies which controlled the 
stage route between New York and Boston, and which passed through 

At the May session of 1806 John Davenport, Jr., and his asso- 
ciates were incorporated under the name of The Connecticut Turn- 
. pike Company. This turnpike extended from Byram River, or the 
New York State line, to Mill Plain in Fairfield. The extension of 
the road east was along Fairfield Avenue, State Street to Main, to^ 
Wall Street, across the Newfield or Lottery Bridge to Stratford. 
However, this portion never became part of a turnpike road. 

The first turnpike of direct interest to the Village of Newfield 
was The Stratford and Weston Turnpike Company, incorporated at 
the October session of the General Assembly in 1797. "Amos 
Hubbell, Josiah Lacey, Salmon Hubbell, Burr Gilbert, David Silli- 
man and William Bennett" were "authorized to repair the road from 
the foot of the hill below the Baptist meeting house to said cross high- 
way above said David Silliman's in said Weston." The southern 
terminus of this turnpike was at a point on Brooklawn Avenue which 



later divided the City of Bridgeport from Fairfield at Union Ave- 

At the October session of 1801, on the petition of John S. Can- 
non and others whom should associate with him, there was incorpo- 
rated The Bridgeport and Newtown Turnpike Company. This was 
perhaps the most important turnpike company with which Bridge- 
port became associated, as its extension to New Milford opened up 
a rich producing territory for the merchants. It was provided that 
"when the county court of the County of Fairfield, either by them- 
selves or by a committee appointed for that purpose at the expense 
of said company, shall have fixed upon and established the ground 
proper for said turnpike road from the north line of said Bridgeport 
. to the south hne of said New Milford, which they are hereby author- 
ized to do, and either by themselves or their committee shall have 
assessed and allowed the damages done to any individual or individ- 
uals by the alterations that shall be so made by straightening the 
road now traveled, or laying out a new road as the case may require. 
and as the said County Court shall judge expedient: and said com- 
pany shall have paid and satisfied to such individuals their respective 
damages assessed as aforesaid, and shall have fully repaired the road 
so laid out and established, and have built and put in a state of repair, 
as the ease may require, all necessary bridges on the road so estab- 
lished to the acceptance of said county court, and obtained a certifi- 
cate thereof from the said county court, then and not before they 
are hereby authorized to erect three turnpike gates on said road so 
established at such places as said county court shall order: Pro- 
vided always that the southernmost gate shall not be erected south 
of the north side of the 'Old Post Road,' so-called, from Stratford 
to Fairfield." 

This Old Post Road is now known as North Avenue, and the 
north line of Bridgeport referred to was the borough line, namely: 
the junction of Washington Avenue and Main Street. The toll 
which the company was authorized to collect at each of their gates 
was as follows: 


Every traveling four-wheeled pleasure carriage, driver 
and passengers 25 

Every two-wheeled pleasure carriage, driver and pas- 
sengers 121/2 

Every loaded cart, team and driver 121/2 

Every loaded wagon with two horses and driver 8 




Every man and horse 4 

Every stage, including driver and passengers 25 

Every loaded sled, team and driver 10 

Every sleigh with two horses, driver, etc 8 

Every pleasure sleigh, with one horse, etc 6^/4 

Every other one-horse sleigh 4 

Every empty cart, wagon, sleigh, sled and driver. ... 4 

Every horse, cart and driver ; 4 

Horse, mules and neat cattle, each 1 

Persons traveling to attend public worship, funerals, or soci- 
ety, town or freeniens' meetings, and persons obliged to do military 
duty, traveling to attend trainings, persons going to and from grist 
mills, and persons passing through gates to attend to or return from 
their ordinarj' farming business, were not liable to the payment of 

This highway became one of the most important in Western New 
England and for many years paid large dividends. The road natur- 
ally brought the greater amount of country trade to Bridgeport and 
consequently this led to the formation of other turnpikes from New- 
town to Norwalk and also from Monroe to Black Rock, for the pur- 
pose of diverting a portion of this trade to those towns. 

The General Assembly at its May session in 1828 appointed Jesse 
Bradley, Abraham D. Baldwin and Daniel Tomlinson to view the 
contemplated route of the Huntington Turnpike and to "survey and 
lay out a road from the center of said Huntington to said Bridgeport, 
so as to fall in with a certain new road to said Bridgeport lately laid 
out by the county court of Fairfield, and lately worked from Nichols 
Farms, so called, in said Trumbull, through portions of said Trum- 
bull, Stratford and Bridgeport, and assess damages done to individ- 
uals thereby." This corporation was to be known as the Huntingtoti 
Turnpike Company. This turnpike still exists. It originally ended 
at Main Street, below East Washington Avenue, but the remainder 
of it in the city limits is known as the Huntington Road. 

The only other turnpike road entering the City of Bridgeport 
was incorporated by the General Assembly at its May session in 1832. 
This was known as the Black Rock and Weston Turnpike Company. 
The Branch Turnpike was incorporated the previous year, commenc- 
ing at Bennett's Bridge in Newtown and passing through Newtown, 
Weston and Fairfield, ending in Norwalk. 

The incorporators of the Black Rock and Weston Turnpike Com- 



pany i\ere: David Hill, Walter Thori>e, Seth Bury, Thomas Bar- 
tram, Rufus Hoyt, William H. Nichols, Munson Gray, Thomas 
Ransom, John S. Wilson, Josiah Banks, Sullivan Moulton, Jere- 
miah Oakley, Bradford Winton, Hezekiah Osborn, Moses Wheeler, 
Dnvid Williams and Henry Jennings. 


The coming of the railroad enterprises in the '30s immediately 
brought forth much opposition from the turnpike companies. Mr. 
George C. Waldo, Sr., in his "History of Bridgeport" (1897), states 
that : "The advent of the railroads .was to this interest a most serious 
matter. And yet, chartei's were being asked for up to and after the 
time when the railroad epoch opened. The danger does not appear 
to have been, at first, fully realized. But where railroads were pro- 
jected that paralleled existing turnpikes, the companies owning and 
controlling the latter remonstrated strongly against the injustice that 
would be done them by the granting of the railroad charters. The 
owners of stock in and the officers of the great turnpike companies 
which terminated in Bridgeport, and which had been the feeders of 
her trade and commerce for a quarter of a century, fought against the 
chartering of the Housatonic Railroad, which would drain the coun- 
try from which they derived their support, and, in the end, kill their 
business. These parties represented, in petitions to the Legislature 
drawn by such able and interested lawj'crs as Judge Roger Minot 
Sherman of Fairfield, that they had chartered and vested rights which 
were threatened with destruction, but which the state was in honor 
bound to protect. They had invested large sums of money in the 
building, improving and repair of the great turnpike roads, and the 
stock in the chartered companies was owned, in many instances, by 
widows and orphans, and held in trust for other dependent persons, 
whose all was imperiled by the railroad proposed. When the extent 
of those interests and the strength of the case thus presented are 
considered, it is remarkable that the new project triumphed, and to 
have overcome such certainly natural and seemingly consistent oppo- 
sition, the railroad, as an institution, must have possessed, even then, 
that wonderfully persuasive power in shaping legislation, which in- 
heres in it today." 

In the year 1882 Connecticut gave, through her General Assem- 
bly, charters to the Boston, Norwich and New London Railroad, the 
New York and Stonington and the Sharon and Salisbury railroads. 



In 183& charters were given tQ the Manchester and Hartford, also the 
New Haven Railroad and in 1835 the Hartford and Springfield, Fair- 
field County, and the Worcester and Hartford railroads received 
their charters. 


In 1886 a charter was granted to Enoch Foote, William Peet and 
William C. Stirling of Bridgeport for the "Ousatonie Rail Road 
Company." Authority was given them to "locate, construct and com- 
plete a single, douhle or treble railroad, to commence at the north 
line of the State of Connecticut on the southern boundary of the 
Town of Shefiield, thence following or near the valley of the Ousa- 
tonie River in the State of Connecticut to the Town of New Milford; 
thence along the valley of Still River to a point within at least one 
mile and a half to the dwelling house of Thaddeus Gray in the Town 
of Brookfield ; thence into and along the Pequonnock Valley to tide 
water in the Town of Bridgeport; or from or near said point near 
the dwelling house of Thaddeus Gray to intersect the northern ter- 
mination of the Fairfield County Railroad in Danbury; or from said 
point near Thaddeus Gray's dwelling house, through Danbury ani 
Ridgefield to the western line of the State of Connecticut, to meet 
a contemplated railroad from Harlem through West Chester 
County." The capital stock of the company was to be $800,000, with 
authority to increase the same to $1,300,000, to be divided into shares 
of $100 each. 

Although his name did not appear as an incorporator the real 
force back of the project was in the person of Alfred Bishop, who 
had moved to Bridgeport from New Jersey in 1836, with the inten- 
tion of undertaking contract work and in particular the construction 
of the railroad. "Mr. Bishop was a suave conversationalist, a shrewd 
manipulator and a persistent worker in carrying out a fixed pur- 
pose. Railroads were practically an experiment at the time, and 
showing advantages over the turnpikes with their frequent toll gates 
it is not surprising that the construction of one leading from the 
Massachusetts line to tide water at Bridgeport had a fascination for 
the enterprising and go-ahead business men of the city, who, however, 
were as unsophisticated in matters of this kind as were their mon* 
rural neighbors. With such surroundings it is not surprising that a 
man with the peculiar tact and ability of Mr. Bishop would soon lead 
them to believe that this railroad could not fail to prove a profitable 



investment. Without Mr. Bishop's efforts there are grave doubts 
whether the Housatonic Railroad would have been constructed at 
this time, or would have been constructed had not the city of Bridge- 
port become a principal stockholder." 

At a city meeting held March 2, 1836, resolutions were passed 
which pledged the aid of the city to the extent of $100,000. This 
sum was afterwards increased to $150,000, bonds issued and sold for 
the raising of the money. All of the citizens of the community had 
thus pledged themselves to the purchase of $150,000 worth of Housa- 
tonic Railroad stock, but it is believed today that had they foreseen 
the future events they would not have been so willing to encumber 
themselves to such a great extent. Everyone expected the new rail- 
road to be a successful enterprise and pay big dividends immedi- 
ately. Little did they belie\'e that the debt would have to be paid by 
direct taxation upon their property and that almost a half centuiy 
would elapse before they were cleared of the responsibility. 

With the money realized from the sale of the bonds and from 
other sources the road was built, but at first was not successful. A 
financial panic struck the whole country at about this time and the 
citizens of Bridgeport were compelled to pay interest upon their 
bonds. This was next to an impossibility for people in such circum- 
stances as were the Bridgeporters. Many moved from the town to 
escape the payments and others openly declared hostilities. The 
whole question was carried into the courts and in every instance the 
courts found against the city. It was not until 1856 that a sinking 
fund was established, which enabled the city to eventually free her- 
self from the burden. 

Whether the city and the tax-payers were right in their fight to 
secure or find some means of dodging the payment of the bonds is 
a matter of individual opinion. It will be found that the consensus 
of opinion is that, once in the deal, the citizens and city itself should 
have "faced the music," as the courts decreed time after time that 
they should. Every means was taken to protect the city property 
from seizure, as several of the actions of the council will attest. For 
instance, at a meeting August 21, 1843, Mayor James C. Loomis 
leased the engine houses, Nos. 2 and 8, to George Kippen for $15, 
also Engine House No. 4, for the period of twelve months. Again, 
at a city meeting called for the purpose on September 30, 1843, 
it was voted "that Philo Hurd, of the City of Bridgeport, be and 
is hereby appointed agent * * * to assign, transfer and con- 
vey unto Noah Plumb, Esq., of the Town of Bridgeport, aU the 



property of the City of Bridgeport, both real and personal, in trust 
for the benefit of all the creditors of, the said city, according to the 
statutes in such cases made and provided." Again, in June, 1844, 
the city sold to the town "all the fire engines with fixtures and 
appurtenances thereto belonging, together with the houses and lands 
belonging to said fire department" for the sum of $1,249.09, and 
the town in turn leased the sanfc property back to the city for the 
sum of $75 a year. This was a form of subterfuge to escape the tax 
levy upon city property. It was not altogether successful, however, 
as it was too bold and illegal. In February, 1845, the city took back 
the fire department property for the same price which they had been 

At the beginning of the Housatonic enterprise, Gideon Tomlin- 
son, ex-governor, was president of the company, but at the first 
annual meeting in 1837 the following officers were chosen: William 
P. Burrall, president; William H. Noble, secretary; Jesse Sterling, 
treasurer; and William P. Burrall, Edwin Porter, Samuel Simons, 
Stephen Lounsbury, Charles DeForest of Bridgeport, Anan Hine, 
Asa Pickett of New Milford, Alpheus Fuller of Kent, and Peter 
Bierce of Cornwall, directors. 

The southern portion of the road, from Bridgeport to New Mil- 
ford, was constructed and opened for traffic in February, 1840. 
The northern portion was opened in 1842 from Sheffield, 
Massacliusetts, to Bridgeport. The first track consisted simply of 
flat iron strips nailed down to wooden sills, but these frequently 
caused accidents by bending at the ends, and in 1846 the "T" rail 
was adopted. 

Many difl^culties, chiefly financial, beset the Housatonic Rail- 
road through its existence as such and at different times the company 
was reorganized. By 1887 the road had embraced the New Haven 
and Derby Road and the Danbury and Norwalk Railroad. After 
a time this system was absorbed by the Consolidated System, under 
a ninety-nine year lease, and the Housatonic, as such, came to an 


The Naugatuck Railroad, like the Housatonic Railroad, was 
projected by Alfred Bishop. He conferred with various influential 
men of this territory and finally satisfying himself that such a scheme 
would be a success, brought the matter before the General Assembly. 
This body granted a charter in the year 1845; this was amended in 1847 



and 1848. The grantees named were: Timothy Dwight of New Ha- 
ven, Green Kendrick of Waterbury, Thomas Burlock of Derby, Wil- 
liam P. Burrall of Bridgeport, Philo Hurd of Bridgeport, Alfred 
B, Brittain of Bridgeport, and George L. Schuyler of New York 

The first plan was to extend the road only from Bridgeport to 
Waterbury, with a capital stock of $800,000, but later, when it was 
farther extended to Winsted, the capital stock was increased to 
$1,200,000. Again, sometime later, the capital was increased to 
$1,500,000, in order that equipment and rolling stock might be pur- 

The company was formally organized in February, 1848, and a 
contract made with Alfred Bishop for the construction of the road 
complete, for which he was to receive $800,000 in cash and $400,000 
in bonds. The first officers of the company were: Timothy Dwight, 
president; Ira Sherman, secretary; and Horace Nichols, treasurer. 

The survey of the road was made by R. B. Mason and presented 
to the directors March 14, 1848. The board adopted the plans sub- 
mitted and in the following April the actual work of building the 
line was begun. Modern equipment for the time, including the heavy 
"T" rail, was used from the beginning. 

Slight changes were made in the route of the railroad at this 
time. At the south end, instead of crossing the Housatonic River 
at Derby, thus coming, direct to Bridgeport, the line was continued 
on the east side of the river to the New York and New Haven Rail- 
road. On June 11th the road was opened to Waterbury and on 
July 23d to Plymouth. By September 24th the line was open to 
Winsted. The chief offices of the Naugatuek Railroad were located 
at the corner of Main Street and South Avenue, Bridgeport, the 
shops and freight depot being located a short distance away. The 
road was merged with the Consolidated Corporation in 1887 and 
became the Naugatuek Division of that system. Throughout its 
existence as an independent road the Naugatuek enjoyed more pros- 
perity than its predecessor — the Housatonic. It was better managed 
and organized and made money steadily. 


In the year 1844 an Act of Incorporation was obtaiped from the 
Connecticut Legislature by Joseph Sheffield of New Haven, Anson 
G. Phelps of New York, and others, giving them permission to 



construct a railroad, not exceeding six rods in width, from New 
Haven to the western boundary of the state, and to transport per- 
sons and property on the road by steam or other power, including 
animab, or "by any combination of these which said company may 
choose." On May H, 1846, the New York Legislature granted the 
same persons permission to extend their proposed railroad from the 
Connecticut line to connect with the Harlem Road at Williams' 
Bridge, New York. 

The first meeting of the stockholders was held at New York 
City, May 19, 1846, when the following board of directors was 
elected: Robert Schuyler, Anson G. Phelps, Elihu Townsend, Mor- 
ris Ketchum, all of New York; Henrj' J. Sanford, of Stamford; 
William P. Burrall and Stephen Tomlinson, of Bridgeport; Joseph 
E. Sheffield, of New Haven; and F. Jl. Griffin, of Guilford. At a 
subsequent meeting of the directors Robert Schuyler was chosen 
president and William P. Burrall, secretary. 

Preliminarj' surveys were made of the road by Alexander C. 
Twining, whereupon a contract was consummated with Alfred 
Bishop and Sidney G. Miller to build the road from the depot of the 
Hartford & New Haven Railroad in the City of New York to Wil- 
liams' Bridge, the work to be started by December 1, 1846, and to be 
completed by August 1, 1848. The contract price was $2,250,000, pay- 
able as follows: cash, in installments, as work is completed, $1,350,- 
000; and $900,000 in stock. The contractors were also to receive 
life-time passes upon the road. 

Upon the death of Alfred Bishop in 1849 his son William Darius 
Bishop, then just graduated from Yale, took up his father's work 
and completed his unfinished contracts, not only on the Naugatuck 
Road but in the West. He early became a director in the Naugatuck 
Road, then its superintendent, and in 1855 its president. In 1867 
he became president of the new New York, New Haven and Hart- 
ford Road, which position he held twelve years, and during his incum- 
bency the road developed into a powerful and prosperous corpora- 
tion of which Mr. Bishop remained a director till his death in 1904. 

The work of construction and the optimism of the directors were 
based largely on the report of Roswell B. Mason, which had been 
made about six years before. Mr. Mason was a prominent engineer 
of the time, was superintendent and made the final surveys of the 
Housatonic, of the Berkshire to the Boston & Albany Railroad, and 
subsequently moved to Chicago, of which city he was mayor at the 
time of the great fire there. He served as engineer for the New 



York & New Haven when construction was begun on this road. His 
report in part read : 

"Report of the Survey and Examination of a Route for a Rail- 
road from Bridgeport in the direction of New York City, to Sawpits 
Village. By R. B. Mason, Chief I'-ngineer of the Housatonic Rail- 
road." After stating that the line surveyed was "from the comer of 
Wall and Water streets in Bridgeport to the east bank of the 
Byram River, opposite the village of Sawpits in New York" and a 
statement of the cost of surveying Mason stated : "Although I have 
estimated for the wooden rail and flat bar, still, I would recommend 
the edge rail, believing it to be sound economy to use it on a road 
destined to do such an immense amount of business. A single track 
edge rail, with tum-oyts, including right of way and all expenses 
to prepare the road for locomotive power, may be constructed for 
$21,000 per.'mile. 

"I would refer to some of the resources that this road, when 
complete, will have for its support. The present amount of travel 
between New York, Bridgeport and the intermediate points, for four 
or five months in the year, is about 250 daily, each way; for the resi- 
due of the year, about 100. This, however, does not include the travel 
between Sawpits and New York. I have not been able to ascertain 
the amount of travel between the country east of Bridgeport and 
New York, but from the number of steamboats engaged on the 
Sound, almost exclusively in the transportation of passengers, we 
can readily conceive the number must be several hundred each way 
daily. During the summer this travel would be divided between 
the steamboats and the railroad. But for several months in the 
year, a large proportion of it would seek the railroad ♦ * * 
Where, I would ask, is there a railroad project whose benefits, when 
completed, would be so widely diffused, or that promises such a rich 
reward to the stockholders?" 

This is a comprehensive forecast of the purpose behind the organ- 
ization of the New York & New Haven Railroad Company. It 
was to meet this competition from the Sound vessels and to secure 
the large amount of travel and freight which then existed. 

Trains began running from Bridgeport to Fairfield September 2, 
1848, but, although finished from New Haven to Westport in Octo- 
ber, 1848, it was not until January 1, 1849, that the road was opened 
for travel over the whole length. This was then a single track, but 
in- May, 1851, an additional track was laid and the capital stock 
increased to $8,000,000. 



In 1872 a consolidation of the New York &t New Haven and the 
Hartford & New Jtlaven was eflfected. The new title, the New 
York, New Haven & Hartford, was given at the time of the incor- 
poration of this new combination on August 6th of that year. The 
Hartford & New Haven Raih-oad was chartered in May, 1888, and 
opened for traffic in May, 1889. The New York & New Haven 
took over the Naugatuck Line by lease October 1, 1884, and the 
Housatonic in the same manner June 30, 1892. 

The directly operated lines of the New York, New Haven & 
Hartford extend from New York City to Providence and Boston, 
with radiating lines through the States of Connecticut, Rhode Island 
and Massachusetts. Over 2,000 miles of main track are used by this 
system. The Bridgeport depot has always he^n located on ground 
given by the late Hanford Lyon on condition that it be used for 
depot purposes for thirty years. This time expired many years ago, 
and the road has, come into possession of the site by virtue of the 
contract. The station has been improved in recent years, an addition 
built on the east side of the tracks, also the tracks through the City 
of Bridgeport have been elevated. The expenses of this large im- 
provement were borne by both the city and the railroad — in the ratio 
of about 1 to 6. 


The development of the street railway in Bridgeport has been 
on a par with the development of the railroads. From 1865 until 
1917 progress has been made which would have been thought impos- 
sible two score years ago. 

The Bridgeport Horse Railroad was the pioneer of this type. 
It was incorporated in 1865 with a capital stock of $100,000, the 
charter giving the company the privilege of extending the line from 
the starting point near Pembroke Lake to Mountain Grove Cemetery 
and Black Rock, with a branch to Seaside Park. Cars began running 
from the Sterling House to the eastern terminus January 28, 1866. 

The attention of the public was first called to the matter of having 
a street railway by an article in the Bridgeport Standard. Mr. Han- 
ford Hayes, a public spirited citizen, immediately conferred with 
the editor of the newspaper, John D. Candee, and these two called 
into conference a number of prominent men of the city. The result 
was the granting of a charter. The work of construction was begun 



by the president of the company, George S. Sanford, who turned 
the first shovel of earth on the hill at the eastern end of Noble's 
Bridge in East Bridgeport. At the time of the organization of the 
company the officers were: Albert Eames, president; Frederick 
Hnrd, secretary and treasurer; B. F. Lashar, superintendent; N. 
Wheeler, P. T. Bamum, C. A. Hotchkiss, James Wilson, Albert 
Eames, H. E. Bowser and F. Hurd, directors. 

Instructions given by the council of the city to the street railway 
company were as follows: 

"To the Bridgeport Horse R. R. Co.: 

"Gentlemen: — The Common Council of the City of Bridgeport 
having appointed the undersigned a committee with full power and 
authority to confer with you and give directions regarding your rail- 
road and the location and construction of the same and its appur- 
tenances; now in pursuance of the duties of the said appointment 
and after examination of the proposed route of your road and con- 
ference with the officers of your company, the undersigned as such 
committee hereby direct that the track of your said railroad be laid, 
constructed and built in accordance with the provisions of the charter 
of said company along Washington Avenue in East Bridgeport from 
some convenient point east of the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing 
Company, in or near the center of said avenue, in conformity with 
the established grade thereof, diverging ^from the center of said 
avenue at some convenient point east of Noble's Bridge and cross- 
ing the stream at said bridge on the northerly side of said bridge 
upon a structure or bridge to be built by said company, connected 
with and attached to said Noble's Bridge and the draw thereof; thence 
along Cedar Street as near as convenient to the center thereof in 
conformity with the established grade of said street, diverging to the 
northerly side of said street near its western terminus to admit the 
enlargement of the curve; thence along Main Street to State Street; 
thence along State Street to Division Street (Park Avenue). 
• * * With a branch track or tracks as specified in the charter 
of said company from Main through Beaver to the depot of tht 
>!, Y. & H. R. R. Co., in or near the center of said Beaver 
Street * • * with such turnouts on Washington Avenue and 
Cedar Street, and in Main and State streets, as may be deemed 
convenient and necessary by said company. Said railroad company 
to macadamize the streets traveled by its road in the manner pro- 



rided in the charter of the compaQy and leave the same in as good 
condition as they are in when the same shall be located thereon. 

"W. D. Bishop, 
"Geomge W. Hayes, 
"Iba Geeoorv. 
"Bridgeport, September 11, 1865." 

On the 2oth of September the horse railroad company extended 
an invitation to the council to attend the ceremony of breaking ground 
for the railroad at 10 A. M. on Washington Avenue. The invitation 
was accepted. The new venture, however, failed to succeed. For a 
number of years a desultory business was conducted and finally, unable 
to meet expenses, the road was practically abandoned. 

The Bridgeport and West Stratford Horse Railroad Company 
was chartered in Januar>', 1885, with the right to construct a road 
from the depot of the Consolidated in Bridgeport along Stratford 
Avenue to Xesunipaws Creek, also a branch through East Main Street 
to Crescent Avenue. The incorporators were: H. X. Beardsley, 
A. J. Beardsley, Warren B. Nichols, H. B. Drew, Samuel Wilmot, 
James Staples, V. R. C. Giddings, D. F. HolUster, Jacob Borstleman 
and James Bounds. The company organized with D. F. HoUister as 
president; H. B. Drew, secretary and treasurer. Work was begun 
on the construction about August I, 1885, and the first cars began 
running October 12th of the same year. Unlike the first horse rail- 
road company in Bridgeport, this company was a success from the 
start. A great increase in population in the two decades probably 
accounts for the prosperity of the new company. 

In August, 1890, the Bridgeport Company was purchased by a 
Rochester sjTidicate. In 1892 it was sold to Charles A. Hotchkiss 
of Bridgeport and in 1898 a company under the name of the Bridge- 
port Traction Company was organized with a capital stock of $1,000,- 
000. This newly organized company bought out the old Bridgeport 
lines and the West Stratford, or West End, roads. In 1894 extensive 
improvements were made, chief of which was the introduction of the 
overhead trolley system, now used. A line was extended to Stratford, 
at Paradise Green and Washington Bridge, on the east, and to Fair- 
field and Southport on the west. The principal streets were double- 
tracked; extensions were made through State Street to Fairfield Ave- 
nue; through Fairfield Avenue from Main Street to Fairfield and 
Southport; through Park Avenue to Seaside Park; to Woodlawn 
Park and the Country Cluh; through Noble Avenue to Beardsley 

Digitized byGOOgIC 


Park; and in various other directions. This new company was organ- 
ized with Col. N. H. Heft as president. In 1898 the line was extended 
to Westport. It is now possible to travel to New York City by trol- 
ley, to New Haven, Waterbury and other New England points. 

The Bridgeport electric lines are among the finest in the country, 
in service, equipment and appearance. The company organized in 
1898 has been absorbed by The Connecticut Company, which was in- 
corporated under the Connecticut laws for the operation of electric 
railways in the state. On May 8, 1907, The Connecticut Company was 
legally merged with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad 
Company, but on October 27, 1914, the $40,000,000 capital stock was 
transferred from the railroad to five trustees in accordance with a 
ilecre^ of the Department of Justice. This stock is to be sold before 
July 1, 1919. The Connecticut Company has about 800 miles of 
trackage in the state. 




Stratford is the most southeastern town of Fairfield Coiinty. It 
is bounded on the north by the towns of Huntington and Trumbull; 
on the east by the Housatonic River, which separates it from New 
Haven County; on the south by Long Island Sound, and on the west 
by the towns of Bridgeport and Trumbull. The surface slopes gen- 
erally toward the Housatonic on the east and the sound on the south, 
broken here and there by small elevations, of which the principal are 
Chestnut Hill, Old Mill Hill, Long Hill, White HiUs, Coram HiU 
and Toilsome Hill. The last received its name from the fact that 
the early settlers made a winding road to reach its summit, making 
the ascent longer than was really necessary. From the top of this 
hill a fine view of the sound and the surrounding country may be 


The territory now comprising the State of Connecticut was 
granted to a company by the Earl of Warwick in 1681. Windsor, 
Hartford and Wethersfield were settled in 1685-36; Saybrook was 
started in 1685 under John Winthrop, Jr.; two companies from Lon- 
don, led by Davenport and Pruden, founded New Haven in April, 
1688, and the following spring Mr. Pruden led his company farther 
west and settled at Milford. Stratford was therefore the seventh plan- 
tation settled within the present State of Connecticut. During the war 
with the Pequot Indians, in 1637, Roger Ludlow of Windsor, while 



in pursuit of the savages, became so pleased with the general appear- 
ance of the country and the fertility of the soil, that he recommended 
the planting of settlements there. In the spring of 1689, encouraged 
by the Connecticut Court, a few families located in what is now 
Stratford, though there is a fairly well authenticated tradition that 
William Judson, and perhaps a few others, settled there in the year 
1638. The Indian name of the place was "Cupheag," and the set- 
tlement was first known as the "Cupheag Plantation.", 

In the fall of 1689 Roger Ludlow and his associates drove their 
cattle westward to Pequonnock (now Fairfield) and established a 
settlement in that region. On April 6, 1640, Mr. Ludlow, Governor 
John Haynes and Thomas Wells were appointed by the court to 
"settle the divisions of bounds between Pequannocke and Uncowaye, 
by the 24th day of June next, according to their former commis- 
sion ; and also that they tender the oath of Fidelity to the inhabitants 
0f the towns and make such free as they shall approve of." 

Before the date named in the above order the court, for some 
reason, appointed other persons to adjust the boundaries. The rec- 
ords of June 15, 1640, show that: "It is Ordered that Mr. Ludlow, 
Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Blakeman shall survey and divide and set out 
the bounds betwixt the Plantations of Cupheag and Uncoway 
(Pequonnock) provided if they cannot accord, Mr. Wells at his next 
coming to those parts shall issue it." 

The Mr. Hopkins mentioned in the above order was William 
Hopkins, one of the early settlers of Stratford, who was appointed 
the first magistrate of the town, and Mr. Blakeman was the Rev. 
Adam Blakeman, Stratford's first clergyman. It will be noticed 
that in the order of April 6, 1640, the two settlements are called 
"towns," whidi would indicate that they had previously been incorpo- 
rated according to law, but the date of such incorporation is not 
exactly known. The question of boundaries seems to have remained 
unsettled for many years. As late as the year 1679 the following 
report of a committee to adjust them was ordered to be spread upon 
the records of the two towns : 

"An Agreement of ye agents of ye two Towns of Stratford and 
Fairfield this 24th day of Aprill 1679, about ye bound between ye 
two Towns from ye Cheritree Southerly to ye Sea as itt used to bee, 
arid Northerly from ye Cheritree to a stone whereabouts a walnut 
tr^ growed, and from thence to a rock by Henry Summer's fence, 
from thence to a tree near ye path marked of ould with a cross north 
and south, from thence to a heap of stones nearer ye path upon ye hill 



of rocks in sight of ye rode, and from thence to the next marked 
bound and so to Continue ye ould marked bound to ye extent of our 
twelve Miles.- 

"That this is our Agreement wee attest by subscribing our names 
this 24th day of Aprill, 1679. Joseph Hawley, Jehu Burr, John 
Wheeler, Francis Hall, Samuel Morehouse." 

The line thus established was no doubt intelligible to the people 
of that day, but it would be a difficult matter to trace it at the pres- 
ent time. The "Cheritree" mentioned stood near what is now the 
junction of Park Avenue and Fairfield Avenue, in the City of 
Bridgeport, and the other landmarks have all been obliterated. 


William Judson, already referred to as the first settler of Strat- 
ford,' was a native of Yorkshire, England. In 1684 he came to 
America and first located at Concord, Mass., where he lived until 
he came to Stratford in 1688. A few years later he purchased an 
interest in the iron works at East Haven and removed to New Haven, 
where he died on July 29, 1662. His son, Joseph, came with him to 
Stratford, being at that time a youth of nineteen years of age. He 
was made a freeman in 1658 and the next year was elected a deputy. 
During the next thirty years he was actively identified with the 
aiFairs of the town. He died in 1690 at the age of seventy-one. 

Thomas Fairchild was one of the first to settle in Stratford, the 
claim having been made that he came with William Judson in 1688, 
but this is not certain. He came of an old English family, the coat- 
of-arms of which indicates that members of the family were in the 
Crusades as early as 1096 A. D. Mr. Fairchild was one of the first 
merchants in Stratford and was prominent in public matters. In 
1654 he was appointed one of the committee to draft men for serv- 
ice in what is known as the "Narragansett War," and the same year 
was elected deputy. Ten years later he was appointed a commis- 
sioner, or justice of the peace, for Stratford and served until his 
death on December 14, 1670. 

Thomas Sherwood, who is supposed to have come to Stratford 
with William Judson in 1638, came from England with his wife 
and four children in the ship Frances in 1684. In 1645 he was 
elected a deputy to the general court. When war with the Narra- 
gansett Indians was imminent, in October, 1654, Mr. Sherwood was 
appointed with Thomas Fairchild and the constables of Stratford to 



press men and necessaries from the town. In the same year he and 
John Hurd received from the town a grant of forty acres of land 
and three pieces of meadow, on condition that they would "build a 
mill to grind the town's corn." He died in 1656, at the age of fifty- 
six years. 

Rev. Adam Blakeman was born in Staffordshire, England, in 
1598, and was therefore forty-one years old when he came to Strat- 
ford in 1689. At the age of nineteen he entered Christ College at 
Oxford, where he prepared himself for the ministry and prior to his 
coming to America he preached in Derbyshire and Leicestershire. 
Soon after coming to Stratford he organized the First Church, of 
which he remained pastor until his death in September, 1665. The 
life of a minister in Connecticut in that day was not a "path of 
roses," and the congregation fell so far in arrears in the payment of 
their pastor's salary that on May 17, 1649, the court issued the fol- 
lowing order; "Concerning Mr. Blakeman's maintenance, Mr. Lud- 
lowe is directed, both for what is behind and also for the future, to 
take care that it is levied according to the several seasons as is pro- 
vided by the order of the country." Two years later, at a town 
meeting, it was "agreed that Mr. Blakeman shall have sixty-three 
pounds and pay a part of his own rate." 

Philip Groves, one of Stratford's first settlers, was prominent in 
the town. He was the first ruling elder of the Stratford Church; 
was elected in 1642 the first deputy to the General Court; and in 1653 
was appointed with William Beardsley to settle the question of 
boundaries between Fairfield and Norwalk. About that time it 
looked as though there was to be a war between the people of Con- 
necticut and the Dutch at New York, and Mr. Groixs and "Good- 
man Thornton" were appointed to assist the constables in making a 
draft of soldiers and provisions. In May, 1654, he was appointed 
by the court "Assistant to such Magistrates as the Court shall at any 
time send among them." The following year he was again elected 
deputy. During the next ten years he held various public positions 
and died in 1675. 

William Beardsley, with his wife and three children, embarked 
upon the ship Planter at an English port in April, 1635, and four 
years later came with his family to Stratford, having been made a 
freeman in Massachusetts in December, 1636. He was a native of 
Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire, England, the birthplace of Wil- 
liam Shakespeare, and it is quite likely that he had something to do 
with naming the Town of Stratford, Conn. In 1645 Mr. Beardsley 



and Thomas Sherwood were elected deputies for Stratford and in 
1651 he was appointed an assistant "to join with the magistrates for 
the execution of Justice in the town by the Sea side." He died in 
1660 at the age of fifty-six years. Some of his descendants named 
the Town of Avon, New York, and one of them, Samuel Beardsley, 
served for several years as chief justice of the New York Supreme 

Two others who came over on the Planter with Mr. Slakeman's 
company in the spring of 1085, and who followed him to Connecti- 
cut, were Richard Harvey and William WiUcoxson, both of whom 
settled in Stratford in 1639. Mr. Harvey was a native of Hertford- 
shire, England, a tailor by trade, and probably made the first suit of 
clothes ever made in Fairfield County. Mr. Willcoxson was made a 
freeman in Massachusetts in 1636. After coming to Stratford he 
became prominent in the aifairs of the town. In his will, which was 
dated May, 1651, he left forty pounds to the church in Concord, 
Mass., his first home in America. 

Among the settlers of 1689 were Francis Nichols and his son 
Isaac. In the order of the General Court, issued on October 10, 1689, 
directing the governor and Mr. Weils to administer the oath of 
fidehty to the settlers of Stratford, make freemen of such as they 
deemed quahfied, etc., it was expressly stated that they should "assign 
Sergeant Nicholls for the present to train the men and exercise them 
in military discipline." He was therefore the first military officer 
in the town and was probably selected for that honor on account of 
previous military training in the mother country. He died in 1650. 
His son Isaac served as deputy in the General Court in 1662 and 
again in 1685. His death occurred in 1695. 

Thomas Alsop, who came to this country from England in 1685 
on the ship Elizabeth and Ann, was one of the first company to set- 
tle in Stratford. Some authorities state that he was a son of John 
Alsop, who lived in Stratford-on-Avon, England, and from this 
fact deduce that he had something to do with the name given to the 
Connecticut plantation. 

Other early settlers of Stratford, who came prior to the year 
1650, were: John Peake, Arthur Bostwick, Thomas Skidmore, John 
Reader, Robert Rice, William Quenby, William Burritt, Nicholas 
Knell, Eleazer Knowles, John Brinsmade, Adam and John Hard, 
John Birdsey, Daniel Titterton, John Thompson, Thomas Uffoot, 
Joseph Hawley, Robert Seabrook, Henry Gregory, Richard Boothe, 
Moses Wheeler, the Coe (or Cooe) and Curtis families, William 







Hopkins, Samuel Sherman, Robert Rose and Thomas Thornton. 
All were men of steady habits and undaunted courage — men well 
calculated to assist in developing the resources of a new country. 


One of the first necessities in a new country is a mill for grind- 
ing grain and sawing lumber. There is a vague accoimt of a corn 
mill having been built on Nesumpaws Creek, southwest of the village, 
but by whom it was established or just when it was erected is not cer- 
tain. It was a tidewater mill and was still in operation in the full 
of 1671, as the records of November 7, 1671, show that a division of 
the land "lying between the mile path and the fence" was ordered at 
a town meeting held on that date. 

In 1652 the town voted in favor of another mill and Thomas 
Sherwood and John Hurd began the work of construction. On Jan- 
uary 5, 1654, the records show that "John Hurd and Thomas Sher- 
wood, in consideration of the expense laid out for the making and 
keeping a mill to grind the town's corn, do require the town to give 
them forty acres of upland lying as near the mill as may be, bounded 
as foUoweth: Jhe creek eastward of it, the common highway on the 
north, the commons west and southward; and three spots of meadow 
a little below the mill; all of which is granted by said townsmen." 

At that time the board of townsmen was composed of Philip 
Groves, Thomas Fairchild, Richard Butler and John Wells, all of 
whom signed the order granting the land to Sherwood and Hurd. 
The mill stood at the east end of what was afterward known as the 
"Old Mill Green." In making the grant of land the town required 
that it should not be sold from the mill, and in the event thai either 
partner desired to dispose of his interest he should give the town the 
first opportunity to buy. It was further stipulated that the millers 
were to have the sixteenth part of the com brought for grinding, and 
they should use "an even and just measure provided by the town, 
so that when it is stricken it may be just the sixteenth part of a 

In the year 1700 there were two grist mills and two fulling mills 
in operation in the town. During the first quarter of the eighteenth 
century liberty was granted to several persons to erect mills. On 
January 26, 1708, Ebenezer Curtis, James and Edmund Lewis 
received authority to "build a saw mill near Misha Hill." On Decem- 
ber 25, 1704, John Seeley, Benjamin Sherman and John Williams 



were given permission to establish a grist mill "on Pequonnock River 
at the narrows below Essay's pond, upon signing certain articles of 
agreement with the townsmen." Ephraim Stiles was granted lib- 
erty on January 11, 1706, "to set up a grist mill at Farmill River, a 
little below Black Brook, near the place called the Plum Trees." On 
February 14, 1722, John Edwards asked for and received permission 
"to erect a fulling mill upon the river on the west side of Ox Hill." 
Three years later Mr. Edwards and Richard Hubbell built a fulling 
mill at this place, then called Jackson's River, not far from the Fair- 
field town line. Two mill privileges were granted in December, 1725 
— one to Zechariah Beardsley, Ephraim Judson and Charles Lane 
"to erect a saw mill and make a dam for the said mill at the south 
comer of Acquanquedy Plain, on the west sprain of the Farmill 
River," with the proviso that they should "satisfy all damage that 
their dam may cause to any particular person's land;" and the other 
privilege was granted to Capt. Josiah Curtis and John Willcoxsou 
"to erect a saw mill on the Halfway River, at the north end of the 

Another problem that confronted the first settlers of Stratford 
was to find some way of crossing the streams. No roads were opened 
and bridges were not built until the country had been settled for sev- 
eral years. In May, 1648, Roger Ludlow presented a petition to the 
General Court asking that Moses Wheeler be allowed to maintain 
a ferry at Stratford. The court ordered that "the motion made by 
Mr. Ludlow, concerning Moses Wheeler for keeping the ferry at 
Stratford, is referred to such as shall keep the next court at Fayre- 
field, both in behalf of the Country and Town of Stratford." 

■ The "next Court at Fayrefield" acted favorably upon the petition 
and the ferry was established. That the Town of Stratford took an 
interest in the enterprise is seen in the following entry taken from 
the records of the town meeting of April 14, 1653: "In consideration 
that the passage to the ferry was stopped up, it is ordered that the 
Townsmen pull up the fence and make way for passengers where they 
had laid out the way formerly, and the Townsmen promised to bear 
them out in that act." 

On November 21, 1670, the town leased "to Moses Wheeler, ship 
carpenter, the ferry with thirty or forty acres of upland and six of 
meadow joining the ferry for twenty-one years, without tax or rate 
except sixpence per annum during said lease." In making the lease 
it was stipulated that "the inhabitants shall be ferried over for one 
half-penny per person, two pence per horse or other beast." It was 



also agreed that, if he gave up the ferry at the end of the twenty- 
one years, the town would pay him for his improvements and take llie 

The Moses Wheeler to whom this lease was given was a son of 
the Moses Wheeler who founded the ferry in 1648. In January, 
1690, a short time before the lease expired, a committee was ap- 
pointed by the town "to lease the Stratford Ferry to Samuel Wheeler, 
son of Moses Wheeler, for twenty-one years from the 18th of Novem- 
ber next." That this arrangement met with the approval of the for- 
mer lessee is shown by the following written statement, which was 
appended to the record of the transaction: 

"To ye Committee of the Town of Stratford Gent'm — These may 
inform you that for the natural love and aiFection yt I have to my 
dearly beloved son Samuel Wheeler, I doe by these presents trans- 
mit all my right title and Interest of Ye Ferry in the bounds afore- 
said with all benefits and Profitable Improvements accrewing there- 
unto by virtue of any gift grant of lease whatsoever in as full and 
ample a manner as ever it was made to me or intended as Witness 
my hand this 6th day of January, 1690. 

"Signed in the presence of Thomas Hicks. 

"Moses Wheeler." 

The will of Moses Wheeler was probated on January 23, 1725. 
From its provisions it is learned that he received the ferry from his 
father and bequeathed it to his son, EInathan Wheeler, hence the 
ferry continued in the hands of the Wheeler family for almost a cen- 
tury. It is not certain, however, that EInathan Wheeler conducted 
the ferry for any length of time after he came into possession of it 
by his father's will, for in 1727 the General Court gave the Town 
of Milford the privilege of establishing a ferry and keeping a boat 
on the east side of the river. In May, 1758, Josiah Curtis, who was 
then operating the Stratford Ferry, was ordered to appear at the 
October session and "give reasons, if any, why a ferry should not be 
established on the east side." Mr. Curtis evidently failed to give 
sufficient reasons, for at the October session it was ordered "that 
there be a boat kept on the east side of the river at Stratford for 
transporting passengers, etc." In May, 1761, the Milford boat 
was owned by Peter Hepburn, who then received a license "to keep 
a house of public entertainment at the ferry for the ensuing year." 
The ferry was kept in active operation until the completion of the 
bridge in 1808. 

Digitized byGOOgle 


Alexander Bryan of Milford was the first great merdbant in this 
section of the state, his trade extending alcmg the coast from New 
London to New York. He and his son Richard carried on the busi- 
ness for about half a century, their ships trading in all the local 
ports and in England, Spain and Holland. Between the years 1640 
and 1670 there was no mercantile firm in New England outside of 
BosttMi that did a larger volume of business than Bryan & Son. They 
furnished the goods to pay the Indians for much of the land purchased 
f rtHii them, and they dealt largely in real estate in nearly all the towns 
along the coast. In this way they assisted materially in the develop- 
ment of the country. 

Among the early merchants of Stratford was Isaac Nichols, who 
purchased most of his goods from Bryan tt Son. In the latter part 
of the seventeenth century Samuel Blagge of New York, Richard 
Blacklach of Guilford, and Daniel Sbeltoo, a recent arrival from 
England, all engaged in the mercantile business in Stratford. 


But the principal occupation of the early inhabitants was that of 
tilling the soil. The most of the fanners of Stratford lived in the 
village and wait out to their farms, a distance of from fine to three 
miles every ntoming. This custom was ailopted (Hi account of tlie 
hostile attitude of the Indians in the vicinity. Every nioming teams 
could be seal leaving the viUage for the farms^ some of them going 
southward to Old Field and the Great Xeck. others to the New 
Field, which joined the village on the southwest, still others to the 
field called "Nesingpaws" (or Nesumpawst on the west side of tlie 
Mill Brook, and still others to Far Field west of Nesumpaws, the 
New Pasture south of the Old MM Green, or the Pequonnock Field 
on Golden Hill. 

Cattle were pastured at large in the woods and herders were 
enipSoyed to see that the animals did not go astray or were not (hiven 
off by Indians, and woe be to the herder who {^yed truant or was 
remiss in the perfonnance of his duty, as witness the following from 
the town records: 

"February IR. lfi«3. Whereas Samuel Fayrecfaild and Robert 
I^ne Cow Keepers for the year 1662 being Detected of unfaithfid- 
ness in keepinir the beard, the sayeil Saniud and Robert doe owne 
that they d:J leave the hearJ in the woods and come home several 
dayi. This was owned in a Ptiblic Town Meetk^ befwe Sir. Shai^ 



man February 18, 1662, and Mr. Sharman hath adjudged the above 
Robert Lane and Samuel Fayrchild to pay to the townsmen twenty 
shillings use." 


When the first company of settlers came to Stratford in 1689, 
they did so in the belief that the colonial authorities had extinguished 
the Indian title and that they had an undisputed right to the soil. 
Historians have fallen into a similar error. Noah Webster, in his 
History of the United States, says of Fairfield: "The first adven- 
turers purchased a large tract of land of the natives," and regarding 
Stratford he makes the following statement : "Mr. Ludlo'w, of Wind- 
sor, who had traversed the lands west of Quinnipiac in pursuit of 
the Pequots in 1687, was so pleased with their fertility, that he and 
a few friends purchased a large tract at Unquoway and began a set- 
tlement in 1689 called Fairfield. In the same year a company of 
men from England and Massachusetts purchased Cupheag and Po- 
quonnock and began the Town of Stratford." 

Webster's mistake has been copied by Barber, Trumbull and other 
writers, but, as a plain matter of fact, the farmers of Stratford cul- 
tivated their lands for some twelve or fifteen years before they dis- 
covered that the region was still claimed by the native red men. So 
confident had the early settlers been that they were the owners of the 
lands, that a division was made and each man received his allotment 
of "both upland and meadow." About 1654 the Indians began to 
assert their ownership and an investigation of the colonial records 
disclosed the fact that the lands had never been purchased from the 
natives. The first Indian deed to land within the limits of the pres- 
ent Town of Stratford was made in 1656. It included a strip north 
of an east and west line about six miles from the Sound. 

In 1673, after several individuals had purchased land of the 
Indians, the townsmen applied to the General Court to settle a dis- 
pute between Joseph Judson and the town, regarding the title to 
some 5,000 acres of land (the Mohegan Hills), which land had 
been bought from the Indians by the said Judson in 1661. The court 
appointed a date for a hearing, but the matter was adjusted before 
that time arrived and the land was subsequently divided among the 
proprietors, Mr. Judson retaining a portion of it for his own use. 

Two other tracts were purchased in 1661 — one "a large tract of 
land lying west of the Farmill River at Woronoke," which was bought 



by Joseph Judson in behalf of the town, an<) the other a tract 
between the Xeannill and Farmill rivers, which was bought in 
December, 1661, by Samuel Sherman, Caleb Nichols and John Hurd, 
then townsmen for Stratford, "and all the proprietors had their pro- 
portion of it in after years." 

On April 22, 1662, was negotiated the "Long Hill Purchase," 
which included a large part of the present townships of Trumbull, 
Monroe and Kaston, "lying west of the land which the Town of 
Stratford had previously purchased," west of the Pequonnock River 
and extending to the Fairfield line. 

The last large tract of land was purchased on May 25, 1671. It 
was known as the White Hills Purchase and the agreement with 
the Indian chiefs was that it should "cover all lands within the bounds 
of Stratford, without any reservations whatever," not even the usual 
fishing and hunting privileges. The bounds described in the deed 
were definitely laid down, to wit: "Stratford River on the east, Fair- 
field on the west, and from the sea twelve miles northward, as it is 
now settled by the court, with all rights, titles, privileges and apper- 
tenances thereunto belonging or in any manner of ways appertaining, 
whicji we do freely and absolutely resign and make over to the afore- 
said mhabitants." 

The consideratitm in the case of this purcliase was £50, 14s. 6d 
and a tax for that amount was levied wpoa the inhabitants to raise 
the money for "all the <^rges and expense of the White Hills and 
the confirmation of lands within the bounds of Stratford." The tux 
was paid and the people, believing that they bad satisfied all Indian 
claims, voted on February 8. 1674. to lay out Golden Hill into lots 
that every proprietor should have his proportion thereof. A commit- 
tee was appointed to make the division and the reservatiwi was divided 
into 100 lots, which were distributed amcmg the proprietors by a 
"drawing." so that no charge of partiality could be made. 

Golden Hill had been set apart as a reservation in 1659, with 
the unflerstanding that should the Indians at any time relinquish it, 
the land should become the property of the Town of Stratford, that 
town repaying to Fairfield "one-half of that which they received in 
consi<]eration of saJd land." The distributioD of lots above men- 
tioned was made in 1677. The next year the Indians (or some white 
D»en acting for tbeni) made complahit to the General Cmirt, which 
issued an order restraining the iiJiabitants of Stratford from taking 
possession of any part of the eighty acres whkfa constituted the reser- 
vation. Thus matten stood until 1763. when the town paid nearly 



oDe hundred pounds for seventy acres, part of the purchase money 
being placed in a fund for the support of the three- Indian claimants 
—all that remained of the tribe. 


Not only was the development of the country retarded by the 
Indian claims to the land, but also the grant made by the Colony of 
Connecticut to the original settlers was somewhat indefinite, so that 
land tenture or title became in time a matter of doubt. After the 
Indian title was extinguished, the inhabitants of the town turned 
their attention to the matter of securing a more unquestionable patent 
from the colonial authorities. To that end a petition, signed by a 
large number of the resident freeholders, was presented to the Gen- 
eral Court, asking for a confirmation of the former grant in unmis- 
takable terms, whereupon the court issued the following: 

"Whereas, the General Court of Connecticut have formerly 
Granted unto ye proprietors Inhabitants of Stratford, all those lands 
both meadows and upland within these abutments viz: 'upon ye sea 
on ye South on Stratford River on ye East, and on Fairfield bounds 
on ye West and to run from ye sea on ye south ye whole breadth full 
twelve miles and from ye norwest comer to run easterly to ye middle 
of Stratford River & abuts on ye wilderness on ye North the said 
land having been by purchass or otherwise lawfully obtained of the 
Indian native proprietors, and 

"Whereas, ye proprietors the aforesaid Inhabitants of Stratford 
have made application to ye Governor & Company of said Colony of 
Connecticut assembled in Court May 25, 1685, that they may have 
a patent for confirmation of ye aforesaid lands so purchased and 
granted to them as aforesaid and which they have stood seized and 
quietly possessed of for many years late past without interruption, 
now for a more full confirmation of ye abovesaid tract of land as it is 
abutted & Bounded aforesaid unto ye present proprietors of ye Town- 
ship of Stratford in there possession & enjoyment of the premises: 

"Know Yee yi ye said Governor & Company assembled in General 
Court according to ye Commission & by vertue of ye Power granted 
to them by our late Soverraign Lord Charles 2nd of blessed memory 
in his Letters Pattents bearing date the three and twentyeth year 
of said Majesties Raigne have given & granted & by these present 
doe give grant r&tifye & Confirm imto Capt. William Curtiss, Mr. 
Joseph Hawley, Mr. Isaac Nicholls, Mr. Jere Judson, Lieut. John 



Beardslee, Ensigne Stephen Burritt, Sergt. John Curtiss, Mr. Rich- 
ard Blackleach, Mr. Timothy WQcoxson, Mr. John Wells, Mr. Sam- 
uel Sherman & Mr. Ephraim Stiles and all the rest of ye said present 
proprietors of ye Township of Stratford & theire Heires and assignes 
for ever and to each of them in such proportion as they have airedy 
agreed upon for the division of ye same all yt aforesaid tract and 
percells of land as it is butted and bounded together with all ye woods 
uplands meadows pastures ponds havens portes waters rivers with 
all adjoining Islands therein fishings huntings fowlings mines min- 
eralls quarries & Precious stones upon or within ye said tract of lands 
with all other proffits & Comodities thereunto belonging or in any 
waise appertaining. 

"And doe alsoe Grant unto the aforenamed Capt. William Cur- 
tiss (here follows all the names in the above paragraph) & all the rest 
of ye present proprietors Inhabitants of Stratford aforesaid theire 
heires and assignes for ever yt the aforesaid tracts of land shall bee 
for ever hereafter deemed reputed & bee an Intire Township of 
itself to have and to hold the said tracts of land & premises with all 
and very those appurtenances together with the privileges Immuni- 
ties & franchises herein given & granted to Capt. Wilham Curtiss 
(here the names of the proprietors are repeated) & all other ye 
present proprietors Inhabitants of Stratford theire heires successors 
& assignes for ever according to his Majests Manor of east green- 
wich in ye County of kent in ye kingdom of england in free & comon 
soccage & not in Capitee nor by Knight service they yeilding and 
paying there for to our sovreign Lord ye king his heires & successors 
onely the fifth part of all ye oare of gold and silver which from time 
to time & all times hereafter shall bee there gotten had or obtained 
in lieu of all rents services duties & demands whatsoever according 
to charter. 

"In witness whereof we have caused the seal of ye Colony to be 
hereunto aflixed this fowerteenth of May one thousand six hundred 
eighty & six in ye second yeare of ye Raigne of our Sovreign Lord 
James the Second by the Grace of God of England Scotland and 
Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c. 

"Robert Treat, Governor, 

"Pr. John Ai^lyn, Secret'yr." 

A "Postscript Note" provided "Alsoe yt ye Islands in said river 
belonging to Stratford are called by ye names Mr. -Knells Brins- 
meades the Lower & Upper Islands & Harvies Island in all five with 



all the wanted priveleges of ye River to have and to hold to ye said 
Town of Stratford & to them & theire heires for ever." 


In the spring of 1668, nearly two years after the above patent or 
charter had been granted to the Stratford proprietors, the governor 
and his assistants formulated the following "advice," which was 
submitted to the inhabitants of the town for acceptance: 

"1. That the present freeholders, dwelling upon or possessing 
allowed home lots in propriety, be allowed as free planters and have 
the privilege of vote in all town affairs; and the present Outlivers 
on propriety have the like liberty of vote ^o far as may properly con- 
cern them in point of Interest in town affairs, as choice of constables 
and townsmen, &c., but' not in granting of home lots and receiving 
Inhabitants, or the like where they are not concerned. 

"2. That for the future none be admitted "to privilege of vote 
as free planters but such as shall be orderly admitted by the town's 
consent upon certificate and testimony according to law. 

"3. That the sons of settled and approved planters be not capable 
of vote in town affairs until of lawful age and distinct proprietors and 
planters themselves. 

"4. That no transient person or persons admitted for habitation 
only or mere tenantship be allowed the privilege of vote in the plan- 
tation until orderly approved to be free planters by the town's con- 

"And whereas persons have built upon division land contrary to 
the town's order, it is not our intent in anything by us propounded 
to justify their so doing, but leave the case to the Town's considera- 
tion, to provide for their own good and to add such penalty for the 
future to their above said confirmation thereof as they shall see 

"26th March, 1668. The contents of this Writing we present as 
our advice to the inhabitants for their future settlement and peace, 
and to that end to be confirmed by vote at their next town meeting." 

This advice was signed by John Winthrop, William Jones, Ben- 
jamin Stone, Jehu Burr and John Burr. The next day Governor 
Winthrop and his assistant, William Jones, prepared the following 
supplement : 

"An Explication to be added to the Paper of Advice &c. 

"It is declared that the Inhabitants of the Mill Lots are to be 



accounted and enrolled in the number of freeholders and not to be 
looked upon as those who are named outUvers in the paper presented 
to the Town; and those that are of the outlivers who have also other 
town proprietors are to be also looked upon and esteemed free- 

The day after this advice reached Stratford a town meeting was 
held, at which it was "Voted and unanimously agreed on the advice 
presented to us by our Honored Governor, the Worshipful Mr. Jones 
(an Assistant) , and Mr. Stone, and our Respected Friends Mr. Jehu 
Burr and Mr, John Burr, bearing date the 26th of March, 1668, for 
our present and future direction as to Inhabitants and their privi- 
leges (as also their explication of the first particular subscribed Ijy 
the Honored Governor and Mr. Jones), every particular being par- 
ticularly voted and agreed on, every particular was accepted and 
should be recorded. 

"John Minor, Recorder." 


From the time the first settlers came to Stratford in 1685 to the 
spring of 1662, the plantation was under the jurisdiction of the Con- 
necticut Colony and was in no way connected with or subject to the 
authorities of the New Haven Colony. Under a new charter granted 
by Charles II and dated April 23, 1662, the Connecticut and New 
Haven colonies were united. Under the new charter the freemen, 
as "one body corporate and politic in fact and in name," were author- 
ized to choose representatives, who were "to hold annually two gen- 
eral assemblies — one on the second Thursday in May and the other 
on the second Thursday in October — to consist of the Governor, Dep- 
uty Governor, twelve Assistants, with the more popular element of 
two deputies from every town or city." 

HoUister, in his Connecticut History, says: "This established the 
General Assembly in place of the old General Court, and constituted 
a popular government of great constructive force and ability. It 
was the second 'key note' to the government afterwards established 
for the United States, Ludlow's first Constitution of Connecticut 
being the first. This union affected the towns of the Connecticut 
Colony but little, but it created some considerable excitement and 
trouble in New Haven and the plantations in union with it." 

The General Assembly continued to be popularly referred to as 
the General Court, however, for many years after the two colonies 



were consolidated under one government. In the "advice" above 
quoted, Jehu Burr and John Burr, two of the signers, were the rep- 
resentatives or deputies from the Town of Stratford. The regulations 
based upon that "advice" remained the law of the town respecting 
legal voters until the entire territory was settled and the "outlivers" 
became freemen. 


By a large majority of the American people in this twentieth 
century witchcraft is regarded as a myth, -though there are still n 
few whose belief in the possession of supernatural powers is so strong 
that they will consult clairvoyants and soothsayers to obtain their 
assistance in the settlement of vexed questions. Among the Euro- 
pean peasantry the belief in witches existed for centuries before 
the first settlements were made in America. It is therefore natural 
that some of the early immigrants should bring with them the super- 
stitions of their ancestors for many generations. These supersti- 
tions were not the exclusive possession of the English speaking 
settlers of New England. The Dutch who settled New York in 
building their houses placed inside "witch marks" to keep witches 
from bringing trouble or disaster to the occupants. Two eras when 
witchcraft was punished by severe penalties swept over New Eng- 
land — one about the middle and the other near the close of the 
eighteenth century. Had the clairvoyants of the present lived in 
New England then, they would doubtless have been put to death. 

Many stories were told of people being prostrated by sickness, 
due to the machinations of some witch, who was always an old woman 
with the "evil eye." For such a woman merely to look intently at a 
person for a moment was a sure harbinger of trouble of some sort. 
As an instance of how far the imagination could be strained regard- 
ing witchcraft, the following story, which was current in New Eng- 
land 250 years ago, is here reproduced : 

"A farmer's wife in churning cream to secure butter, spent sev- 
eral hours without success and gave up the effort as useless. When 
her husband came into the house shortly afterward she related the 
story of her fruitless toil of the morning. The husband, being 
strongly impressed with the notion that some one, out of envy toward 
him or his family, had bewitched the milk, took down his old musket 
and fired a full charge through the chum near the bottom. He then 
plugged up tiie hole in the chum and his wife, with a few minutes* 



chii.ning, produced a nice supply of butter. But about the time the 
shot was fired through the chum an old woman living near was sud- 
denly taken with a fit and died in convulsions within a few minutes. 
The uld woman had been suspected of being a witch and her death, 
almost at the exact moment the shot was fired, convinced the people 
that their suspicions were not without foundation, and the com- 
munity was well rid of one who possessed 'the evil eye.' " 

At least one case of witchcraft occurred in the Town of Strat- 
ford during the period of the first excitement. In May, 1651, the 
General Court, then in session at Hartford, issued the following 
order; "The Governor, Mr. CuUick and Mr. Clarke are desired to 
goe down to Stratford to keep Courte upon the tryal of Goody Bas- 
set for her life, and if the Governor cannott goe then Mr. Wells is 
to go in his room." 

The records of the trial, if any were kept, have disappeared, hut 
in the New Haven records of a trial of a witch in the same year, one 
of the witnesses mentioned a "Goodwife Basset" who was con- 
demned to death a short time before at Stratford, and another wit- 
ness referred to a confession of a witch there, which may have been 
Goody Basset. Maj. W. B. Hinks, in his "Historical Sketches," 
says: "The place of her execution is pointed by tradition to this 
day, and would seem to be determined by names 'Gallows Brook' 
and 'Gallows Swamp' in the first volume of Stratford town records. 
The former was a small stream, long since dried up or diverted into 
another channel, emptying into the swamp, a portion of which yet 
remains, a little south of the present railroad depot. A rude bridge 
stoned up at the sides crossed this brook, just where the Old Mill 
Road and the railway intersect. The remains of the bridge were 
exhiuned by workmen about thirty years since, when the railroad 
was graded at that point. At that bridge, uniform tradition states 
the execution of the witch by hanging to have taken place. Near 
by, where the street from the village turns oif toward the depot, 
was, until quite recently, a small qutrtz bowlder, with hornblende 
streaksTike finger marks upon it, which was connected with the fate 
of Goody Basset, by an ancient and superstitious tradition. The 
story was, that on the way to the place of execution, while stru^ 
gling with the officers of the law, the witch grasped this stone and 
left these finger marks upon it. The stone, with its legend, cnnie 
down to our day, but a few years since an unromantic individual 
used it in building a cellar wall, not far from the place where it had 
been lying." 



Another account says the gibhet upon which she was executed 
was located at the first crossing south of the railroad station, and 
that the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad runs over 
her grave. 


In 1850 Stratford came into a wide and rather unenviable noto- 
riety through the "spirit knockings," which commenced in a house 
occupied by Dr. A. Phelps, his wife and two children. This house 
had been the residence of Doctor Phelps and his family for two or 
three years without anything out of the ordinary having occurred. 
Then, upon returning from church one Sunday morning, hie found 
crape on the door. The furniture in every room in the house had 
been disturbed and in one room he found a figure resembling a human 
body shrouded for the grave, which vanished when he approached it. 
Then the knockings began and messages were written by an invis- 
ible hand. Says Mrs. Ellen O. Kirk : 

"One is tempted to believe that the spirit of Goody Basset, 
hanged in 1651, for divers witchlike arts, was never fairly laid and 
now. after an unquiet term of 199 years returned to walk the earth. 
Or it may be that the dust of those early settlers, over whose graves 
the lofty trees of Elm Street were planted, rose for a sort of earthly 
judgment day- and took possession of the nearest habitation. Evil- 
minded or angry spirits they must have been who ransacked, pounded, 
knocked and almost overturned the quiet, decorous house known in 
later years as the 'Stratford Institute.' During the early period 
of this unearthly possession the entire village was convulsed with 
excitement and lost its character for sobriety. Crowds poured hither 
by every train — editors, reporters. Spiritualists, skeptics, explored, 
watched, investigated and interrogated, and gave an unwelcome 
publicity to the scandalous details. The single village hackman throve 
amidst the universal decline and fall of Stratford. So many were 
the visitors that he was obliged to set up a huge yellow omnibus, 
which traversed the streets night and day with a sign in huge capi- 
tals which made the village disgrace only too legible — 'Mysterious 
Stratford Knockings.' " 

Doctor Phelps was a reputable physician and a quiet, law-abid- 
ing citizen. He was as much annoyed by the constant stream of the 
morbidly curious as he was by the mysterious "knockings," and 
finally left the town. After his departure the spiritual manifesta- 
tions (or whatever they were) ceased and in time Stratford resumed 



its normal attitude. A few old residents are still living who can 
remember the excitement of the time, but the cause of the disturb- 
ance has never been determined. 


On February 16, 1790, a postoffice was established at Stratford 
with Robert Walker as the first postmaster. He held the position 
until March 20, 1798, when he was succeeded by Victory Wetmore. 
Some years ago the Stratford office was made a branch of the Bridge- 
port postoffice. At the beginning of the year 1917 William B. 
Bristol-was superintendent of the branch, which then employed three 
clerks, three local carriers and one rural carrier. 

A postoffice was established at Putney Heights in the early part 
of the year 1876, with Sterling S. Booth as postmaster. It was 
discontinued in the summer of 1878. 


For more than a century after the first settlement was made in 
Stratford, the town meetings were held in such places as the select- 
men could obtain for the purpose, sometimes in the meeting house, 
sometimes in a private hall and later in the school house. In January, 
1750, a town meeting "Voted to build a town house and that the 
same shall not nor any part thereof be used for a school house under 
any pretence whatsoever, and to set the house upon the hill just 
south of Tanner's Brook called the Smith Shop HiU. The house to 
be 45 feet long, 82 feet wide and 10 feet between joists, and to be 
furnished with seats and chimney." 

It was proposed to build the house by subscription, if possible, 
though a tax was voted to assist in its construction. A committee 
was appointed to solicit subscriptions and superintend the erection 
of the building, but the work dragged along for two years when 
another committee was appointed to take charge of the work. This 
committee, composed of one member from each society in the town, 
made better progress than its predecessor and the first town meeting 
was held in the new structure in December, 1758. 

The Stratford town hall of the present day is a commodious 
three-story brick building, the third story of which is rented to the 
Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges, the other floors being used for 
town purposes. Extensive alterations and repairs were made upon 
this building in the summer of 1917. 

Digitized byGOOgle 



The first mention of any system of protection against loss by fire 
to be found in the town records is in the minutes of a town meet- 
ing held in 1686, when it was "Voted That every householder in the 
Town of Stratford shall provide a suitable lather (ladder) to his 
house that will reach the top of his house at least within — feet of 
the top and whatsoever Householder shall neglect providing a suit- 
able lather as aforesaid above one month from this date shall forfeit 
five shillings, the one half to the complainer and the other half to 
the town treasurer." 

It is not known whether any of the citizens failed to provide the 
"lathers," but a short time after the town passed the above resolu- 
tion a volunteer company was organized to use the ladders in case 
of fire. Improvements were made in the department from time to 
time until in 1917 Stratford was as well provided with fire-fighting 
apparatus as most towns of its population. In his report for the 
year ending on September 1, 1916, Allen Judson, chief of the depart- 
ment, says: "The efficiency of our Volunteer Department is up to 
the highest standard and we invite the hearty cooperation of all the 
citizens of our town to keep it the same." 

Mr. Judson also mentions the fact that during the preceding year 
a pulmotor had been installed and the members of the department 
instructed in its use, and that two smoke helmets had been purchased 
that would allow the firemen to enter any building filled with smoke 
and gas. He also recommended an appropriation of $2,000 for the 
installation of a fire alarm system. During the year the department 
answered fifty calls and laid over five thousand feet of hose. The value 
of the property involved in these fires amounted to nearly ninety thou- 
sand dollars, while the actual loss was only a tittle over fifteen thousand 


According to the town report for the year ending on September 
1, 1916, the assessed valuation of property was $6,699,691. The es- 
timated income for the ensuing year was $203,848,50, and the out- 
standing bonds, notes apd other evidences of indebtedness amounted 
to $331,200. Following is a list of the principal appropriations rec- 
ommended by the board of finance, composed of E. W. Peck, H. .T. 



Curtis, F. Van DeBogart, S. W. Hubbell, E. B. SniflFen and W. H. 
Fryer, for the year ending on September 1, 1917: 

Schools $68,000 

Town Roads 13,000 

Interest on Public Debt 15,580 

Sinking Fund 8,300 

Salaries 7,100 

Street Lighting 7.500 

Fire Department 2,785 

Police Protection ■ 1,000 

Water Supply 1,650 

Stratford Library Association 1,800 

Town Buildings 1,880 

Charity Departments 4,500 

Town and Probate Courts 1,600 

Sewers 5,600 

Total $184,895 

It must be borne in mind that the custom of assessing property at 
about two-thirds of its actual value prevails over a large part of the 
Slate of Connecticut, hence the actual value of the property in the 
Town of Stratford is not far from ten millions of dollars. According 
to the town treasurer's report for 1916, the total expenditures 
amoimted to $178,861.55, less than two per cent of the actual value of 
the town's property. And the holder of Stratford securities has every 
dollar of his lien secured by over thirty dollars' worth of propertj'. 


The Stratford of the present day is quite a different town from 
that of two hundred and fifty years ago, when the farmers all lived 
in the village as a precaution against prowling Indians; when depreda- 
tions upon live stock by wolves was a common occurrence, and when 
the ox-team or on horseback was the only means of transportation. 
In 1910 the population was 3,712. Stratford is located on one of the 
main lines of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railway system 
and is connected with the adjacent towns and the City of Bridgeport 
by electric railway. It has a bank, a number of manufacturing estab- 
lishments, an excellent public school system (a new school buUding 



has been recently erected at a cost of $50,000), mercantile establish- 
ments handling all the leading lines of goods, hotels, etc. 

The town officers at the beginning of the year 1917 were as fol- 
lows: Selectmen, James Lally, John J. Williams and Fred W. Net- 
tleton; clerk, Harold C. Lovell; treasurer, Walter S. Curtis; tax col- 
lector, John C. Wilcoxson; assessors, J. Henry Blakeman, William 
H. Crawford and David L. Rhoades; auditors, John Graham, Jr., and 
Gilbert Y. Edwards; school committee, William B. Cogswell, Eph- 
raim N. Wakelee, DeRuyter Howland, Philo P. Haven, Louis O. 
Snyder and Nettie A. Filmer; constables, George F. Ash, William 
E. Bassett, George R. Fryer, H. B. Barnum, E. W. Burritt, Fred 
L. Palmer and Alford W. Stacey. 

Digitized byGOOgle 






Immediately west of the City of Bridgeport lies the Town ot 
Fairfield. It is bounded on the north by the Town of Easton; on the 
east by the Town and City of Bridgeport; on the south by Long 
Island Sound, and on the west by Weston and Westport. Along the 
shores of the Sound the ground is marshy in places, but the sur- 
face gradually rises in a series of terraces until an elevation is finally 
reached which commands a wide view of the surrounding country, with 
the blue waters of the Sound in the distwice. In the southwestern 
part of the town is the swamp where the Pequot Indians made their 
last stand. Here the Sons of Colonial Wars have erected a monu- 
ment to commemorate the ending of the Pequot War, July 13, 1637- 
Several of the hills in the town have been dignified by names, and some 
of them have played an important part in the early history of the town. 

Northwest of the village of Fairfield is Greenfield Hill, where one 
of the first settlements was established and a Congregational Church 
erected. From the spire of this church Major Talmage, one of Wash- 
ington's trusted secret service agents, watched the movements of Brit- 
ish vessels passing and repassing through the Sound and directed the 
operations of the Continental troops in the vicinity. 

Round Hill, now a beautiful park, was a signal station of the In- 
dians. From its summit fires often blazed at night, sending their warn- 
ing messages to the braves of the neighboring tribes. 

Holland Hill, or Holland Heights, was the home of General SU- 



liman at the time of the Revolution. After the burning of Fairfield 
in July, 1779, many of the homeless inhabitants of the town found a 
refuge at Holland Hill. Among them was Rev. Andrew Eliot, whose 
account of the destruction of the town is given in another chapter. 

On the east side of the harbor at Southport stands the Sasco Hill, 
a bold headland projecting into the sea. During the Revolution a 
watch was maintained here to observe and report the movements of 
the British ships cruising along the shore. The hill is now occupied 
by handsome residences. 

Grover's Hill, near the eastern boundary line of the old Fairfield 
Parish, was another important point at the time of the Revolution. 
It was the site of Fort Black Rock, which was garrisoned by a small 
force of Fairfield men, and a fort was also maintained here during the 
War of 1812. It is now known as "Schoonhoven Park," one of the 
prettiest residence districts in Fairfield County. 

The little hill which slopes down to Ash Creek is often pointed out 
to strangers as "Witch Hill," it being the place where Goodwife 
Knapp is supposed by some to have been hanged as a witch in 1653, 
though that fact is not fully established. Knapp's wife was hanged 
as a witch at that time, but the exact spot where the execution took 
place is a matter of doubt. 

Two or three miles north of the village of Fairfield is a precipice 
about seventy feet high called "Samp Mortar Rock." It takes its 
name from an excavation or depression on the top. This depression 
resembles a mortar and is capable of holding about half a bushel of 
grain. Tradition says if was used by the Indians for poimding their 
com into meat. 

Originally the soil was quite productive, but three centuries of cul- 
tivation have caused it to become somewhat worn in places. The early 
settlers found peat in considerable quantities in the swamps and used 
it both for fuel and as a fertilizer. When the first white men came to 
this part of the state, they found an abundance of timber, oak, hickory, 
poplar, maple, basswood, ash, elm, pine, hemlock and some other vari- 
eties of native trees. But the ax and the saw mill have done their 
deadly work and the primeval forest has almost entirely disappeared. 
In these woodlands were plenty of game animals, such as deer and 
bear, while along the streams lived fur>bearing animals, the mink, 
muskrat and otter especially, which were taken in large numbers for 
their pelts by the pioneers. Wolves and wildcats also abounded and 
proved to be a source of great annoyance to the first settlers on account 
of their depredations upon the flocks and herds. Wild ducks and geese 



were plentiful in certain seasons, and the passenger pigeons, now ex- 
tinct, in their migrations passed over the region in flocks numbering 
millions of birds. Along the shore and the lower reaches of the water- 
courses were large quantities of fine, edible fish, hence the "high cost 
of living," of which so much has been written in recent years, did not 
worry the early settlers of Fairfield. 


In the spring of 1686 the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay 
Colony commissioned Roger Ludlow and seven others "to govern the 
Colony of Connecticut for the space of one year." Toward the close 
of that year, Mr. Ludlow called a GJeneral Court to meet at Hartford 
"to consider the necessary steps to be taken for the protection of the in- 
fant settlement on the Connecticut River." For some time the Pequot 
Indians had maintained a threatening attitude toward the white in- 
vaders of their domain, and the court called by Ludlow declared war 
against that tribe. A levy of troops was also made upon the three 
established plantations, Hartford being called upon to furnish forty- 
two men, Windsor, thirty, and Wethersfield, eighteen. The whole 
force of ninety men was placed under the command of Capt. John 
Mason. An account of the Pequot War is given in the chapter on In- 
dian History. 

Mr. Ludlow accompanied the expedition into the Indian country 
and was so favorably impressed with the region now included within 
the Town of Fairfield that he determined to found a settlement there. 
Accordingly he made application to the General Court, which in the 
spring of 1639 gave him and four others a commission "to begin a 
plantation at Pequonnock," as the place was then called. On May 11, 
1639, a treaty was made with the Pequonnock Indians, supplemented 
by another treaty on the 24th of June following, by which Ludlow 
and his associates were granted permission to settle on "a strip six 
miles wide along the coast from the southwest line of Stratford to 
Sasco Fields." 

One account of the early settlement of Fairfield says that the first 
thing Ludlow did was to call a coimcil of the sachems and head men of 
the Indians and "purchased all the lands lying west of Stratford to 
the Sasqua or Mill River, and from the Mill River southwestward to 
the east bounds of the Maxumux Indian lands, and from the Sound 
seven or eight miles into the wilderness." 




Roger Ludlow (also spelled Ludlowe), the founder of Fairfield, 
was bom at Dinton, Wiltshire, England, in March, 1590. In June, 
1610, he entered college at Oxford, but did not graduate. In the fall 
of 1612 he began the study of law and followed that profession until 
March 20, 1630, when he embarked at Plymouth on the ship "Mary 
and John," of which he was part owner, and which was bound for 
America. Upon his arrival he settled at Dorchester, Massachusetts, 
where for the next five years he took a prominent part of the aiFairs 
of the Dorchester Company. 

In the summer of 1635 parties came from the three Massachusetts 
towns of Dorchester; Newtown and Watertown to Connecticut. Lud- 
low was one of those who came from Dorchester. They estabhshed a 
fown called Dorchester, after the old place from which they came, but 
the name was afterward changed to Windsor. The first entry in the 
colonial records of Connecticut is that of "a Corte holden att Newton 
(now Hartford) 26 Aprile, 1636," over which Ludlow and four of his 
associates presided. The commission given to him and seven others in 
March, 1636, to govern Connecticut for a year expired in March, 
1637. No effort was made to renew it, but Ludlow by common con- 
sent continued to act as chief executive. On May 1, 1637, he presided 
at the "Generall Corte at Harteford," the most important act of which 
was to declare "an offensuive warr agt the Pequoitt." 

On September 10, 1639, another session of the General Court was 
held at Hartford. Mr. Ludlow was too busily engaged in laying out 
his Fairfield plantation to attend and was fined ten shillings for being 
absent. He was present, however, the following month, when he 
explained his absence at the previous session, and also answered his 
critics regarding his action locating his plantation where he did. The 
entry in the records bears this headline: "Mr. Ludlowe his apology 
for taking up Uncoa," and then goes on to state: 

"Mr. Deputy informed the Court that he hath Understood since 
his return offence hath beene taken att some of his prcedings in his 
late jourey to Pequarmocke and the parts thereabouts. He therefore 
desired to make knowne what had beene done by him therein web was 
this — Att his coming down to Quinnipiocke the hand of the Lord was 
uppon him in taking away some of his Cattle wch prevented him in 
some of his purposes there for selling some of them. Afterwards 
att Pequannocke he found cause to alter his former thoughts of win- 
tering his Cattle there and understanding that the beginnings of a 



Plantacon beyond that was not carryed on according to Agreement 
made with those who were interested in ordering the same and that 
by some things wch appeared to him to his Apprehensions were that 
some others intended to take up the sayd place who had not acquainted 
this Corte with their purposes therein, which might be preiudiciall to 
this Comonwealth & knowing himselfe to bee one of those to whome 
the dispose! of that Plantacon was comitted he adventured to drive 
his Cattle thither, make provision for them there and to sett out him- 
selfe and some others House lotts to build on there' and submitts him- 
selfe to the Corte to judge whether he hath transgressed the Comis- 
sion or Nott." 

The Court failed to see why he should be excused for his neglect 
of duty in not notifying the Court of the reasons for his absence and 
his action in taking up a plantation beyond the place where be had 
been directed to go. Realizing, however, that there might be some 
mitigating circumstances. Gov. John Haynes and Thomas Wells were 
appointed "to repair thither & take a View of the aforesaid occasions 
& if in Their judgment both persons & things settled by him be soe 
as Comfortably bee confirmed they remain as they are or Otherwise 
altered att their discretion. And they are to report things how they 
find them to the next General! Corte that a full issue may be given to 
the matter in hand as things shall then appear." 

Messrs. Haynes and Wells were also authorized to administer the 
oath of fidelity to the planters and to make freemen of such as they 
deemed proper, and to direct them to send two deputies to the Gen- 
eral Court in April and September. They went to Fairfield, made 
their investigations, and in January, 1640, reported that they had con- 
firmed Ludlow's action, to which the Court gave assent. 

Although somewhat under the ban of the Court, Mr. Ludlow re- 
mained throughout the session of October, 1639, and assisted in the 
enactment of legislation aiFecting the towns and plantations of the 
colony, his own among them. Upon the adjournment of the Court 
he went back to Uncoway, as Fairfield was then called, and continued 
the work of laying out lots and building up the town. In May, 1654, 
he left Connecticut and went to Virginia, where his brother, George, 
had settled some years before and owned a large estate. He remained 
in Virginia but a short time, when he went back to Europe, met his 
cousin, Edmund Ludlow, who was lieutenant-general of Cromwell's 
forces in Ireland. In December, 1654, he was appointed a member 
of the commission to settle claims relative to forfeited lands in Ire- 
land. He died in Ireland some years later. 



ti;f. tiLv fOR" I 






It is stated, on apparently good authority, that Capt. Thomas 
Wheeler was the first settler at Black Rock and "at the old lot built 
a stone house with a flat roof of plank, on whieb he mounted his two 
four-pounders, one pointed towards the mouth of the harbor, the other 
at an Indian fort situated at the head of the harbor, now known by the 
name of 'Old Fort.' This place the Fairfield Indians had built for 
their defense against some of the interior tribes with whom they were 
perpetually at war. It was composed of palisades joined together 
and at each comer a room was built out with port holes. It contained 
about an acre of ground and was garrisoned by about two hundred 

In the fall of 1689, about the time that Roger Ludlow came from 
his attendance on the General Court at Hartford, a number of new 
settlers came to the plantation. Among them were Francis Furdie, 
John Nichols, Henry Whelpley, John Green, Richard Westcot, Wil- 
liam Forest and his son-in-law, John Gray. John and Thomas Barton 
arrived a little later, and early in 1640 came Henry Gray, a brother 
of John. Each of these men received an allotment of land, varying 
from two and a half to fonr acres, .'owing to the location of the land 
and the number of members in the family. ■ In the spring of 1640 
another company from Watertown, Massachusetts, joined the little 
colony and each new arrival was allotted a piece of land judged suf-. 
ficient for his needs. 


Stratford was settled about the same time as Fairfield and a mild 
controversy arose as the dividing line between them. Stratford was 
then known as Cupheag or Pequannock and Fairfield bore the Indian 
name of Uncowaye. On April 6, 1640, Roger Ludlow, John Haynes 
and Thomas Wells, were appointed by the General Court to settle the 
question of "the division of bounds between Pequannocke and Un- 
cowaye by the 24th day of June next, and also that they tender the 
oath of Fidelity to the inhabitants of the said Townes and make 
such free as they shall approve of." 

On June 15, 1640, about nine days before the commissioners ap- 
pointed in April were directed to report, the court appointed a new 
commission on the boundary question. It consisted of Rev, Adam 
Blakeman, the minister at Stratford; William Hopkins, one of the 



early settlers of Stratford and the first magistrate in that town; and 
Roger Ludlow. In the absence of records it is not known what solu- 
tion of the problem was reached by these commissioners, but whatever 
it was it was evidently unsatisfactory, as the question of boundaries 
remained a mooted one for a numbe'r of years. As late as 1679 the 
selectmen of the two towns appointed members of a joint committee 
to "run and mark the line between the Town of Stratford and the 
Town of Fairfield. This committee made the following report, which 
was accepted and ordered to be spread upon the town records : 

"An Agreement of ye agents of ye two Towns of Stratford and 
Fairfield this 24th day of Aprill, 1679, about ye bound between ye two 
Towns from ye Cheritree Southerly to ye sea as itt used to bee, and 
Northerly from ye Cheritree to a stone whereabouts a walnut tree 
growed, and from thence to a rock by Henry Summer's fence, from 
thence to a tree near ye path marked of ould with a cross north and 
south, from thence to a heap of stones nearer ye path upon ye hill 
of rocks in sight of ye rode, and from thence to the next marked 
bound and so to Continue ye ould marked bound to ye extent of our 
twelve Miles. 

"That this is our Agreement wee attest by subscribing our names 
this 24th day of Aprill, 1679. 

"Joseph Hawley, 
"Jehu Bubb, 
"Samuel Morehouse, 
"Francis Hall, 
"John Wheeler." 

The "Cheritree" mentioned stood near what is now the junction 
of Park and Fairfield Avenues in the City of Bridgeport. As no 
further mention of a boundary dispute occurs in the town records, 
it is fair to presume that the special joint committee settled the 
question in a satisfactory manner. The old line thus established 
was obliterated by the erection of the Town of Bridgeport. 

patent or 1685 

Fairfield continued to be known as Uncoway (in the early record* 
this name is spelled in various ways, Uncoa, Unquowa, etc.) until 
164.5, when the present name was adopted. In 1654 it was the fourth 
town in the Colony of Connecticut, Hartford, Windsor and Weth- 
ersfield being the only towns that exceeded Fairfield in population 



and value of property. When Fairfield County was established in 
1666 this town was designated as the county seat and remained 
so until 1853, when the court-house was located at Bridgeport. For 
nearly half a century after the first settlement was made in 1639, the 
people held their lands by virtue of the commission issued to Roger 
Ludlow and his associates in the spring of 1639, which commission 
was based upon the grant of Robert, Earl of Warwick, to the pro- 
prietors of Connecticut eight years before. About 1683, when the 
people of Fairfield learned that other towns in the colony were ob- 
taining from the General Court patents which gave them a better 
title to the lands, they decided to apply for such a patent for them- 
selves. In response to their petition the General Court issued the 
following patent or charter: 

"The General Court of Connecticut have formerly granted to 
the Proprietors of the Inhabitants of the Towne of Fairfield all those 
lands, both meddow and upland within those abuttments upon the 
Sea towards the South about seven miles in bredth, and in length from 
the sea into the Wilderness twelve miles and upon Stratford bounds 
on the East, and the Wilderness North and on Norwalk bounds on 
the West — only a parcell of land between these bounds & Saugatuck 
River that is likewise granted to the said Fairfield, Provided the said 
Saugatuck do not exceede two miles from the bounds of the said 
Fairfield, the said lands having by by purchase or otherwise lawfully 
obtained of the Indian natives proprietors, and 

"Whereas the Proprietors the foresaid Inhabitants of Fairfield 
in the Colony of Connecticut hai'c made application to the Governor 
& Company of the said Colony of Connecticut assembled in Court 
May 25, 1685, that they may have a pattent for confirmation of 
the aforesaid land soe purchased & granted to them as aforesaid 
and which they have and stood seized & quietly possessed of foi- 
many years last past without interruption; Now for a more full 
confirmation of the aforesaid tract of land as it is butted & bounded 
as aforesaid unto the present Proprietors of the said Township of 
Fairfield in the possession and Enjoyment of the premises — 

"Know Ye that the said Governor &i Company assembled in Gen- 
eral Court according to the Commision granted to us by His Majestic 
in our 'Charter have given granted & by these promise to give grant 
ratifye & Confirm unto Major Mather Gold, Mr. Samuel Wakeman, 
Mr. Jehu Burr, Mr. John Burr, Mr. Thomas Staples, Mr. John 
Green, Mr. Joseph Lucknow, Mr. John Wheeler, Mr. Richard Hub- 
bell, Mr. George Squier & Mr. Isaac Wheeler and the rest of the 



present Proprietors of the Township of Fairfield their Heires Suc- 
cessors and Assignes for ever according to the terms of £ast Green- 
wicfae in Kent in free and comon sosage and not in Capitte nor by 
kni^ts service; they to make improvements of the same as they are 
capable according to the custom of the country yielding rendering 
& paying therefore to the Soverreign Lord the King his Heires and 
successiors his due according to Charter. 

"In witness whereof we have caused the seal of the Colony to 
bee bereuntoe affixed the 26th day of May, 1685, in the first year of 
the Reigne of our Soverreign Liord James the Second of Bngland 
Scotland and Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c. 

"By Order of the General Court of Connecticut. 

"RoBEST Tekat, Governra-, 
"John Aixek, Sectr'y-" 


It is said that Goody Basset, who was executed as a witch at Strat- 
ford in 1651, made a confession just before her death, in which she 
referred in a rather mysterious way to "others who hold their heads 
full high," and intimated that they were equally guilty. She men- 
tioned no names, but her remark and the peculiar manner in which 
it was made, caused several women to fall under suspicion. One of 
these was a woman named Knapp, who lived in Fairfield. For mcire 
than two years she was watdied by the more superstitious element of 
the population, until in October, 1653, she was arrested and arraigned 
for trial upon the charge of being in league with the powers of evil. 
The General Court appointed "Mr. Ludlow, Mr. Wells, Mr. West- 
wood and Mr. Hull to keep a perticulier Courte at Fairfield before 
winter, officite at the tryal of Knapp's wife and execute justice as 
the cause shall require." 

The defendant is simply designated as "Knapp's wife" or "Good- 
wife Knapp" in the only available records of the trail, which lasted 
for several days. Numerous witnesses were examined by the "godly 
magistrates" in the presence of a jury of twelve men. Among the 
witnesses were Goody Odell and Mrs. Lucy Pell, who were appointed 
by the court to examine the person of the accused and note any pecu- 
liarities they might discover. The two women made the examination 
and afterward testified to finding "witch marks" upon the body- of 
the prisoner. This was regarded as positive proof of guilt. Another 
witness was Mrs. Thomas Staples, who told of certain acts of the 



defendant that convinced her Mrs. Knapp was a witch. The jury 
brought in a verdict of guilty as charged and Goodwife Knapp was 
sentenced to death. 

After sentence was pronounced by the court she was kept con- 
fined until the day of the execution. During that period she was 
visited by many of her former acquaintances who urged her to confess 
herself to be a witch and point out her accomplices, or other persons 
she knew to be possessed of evil supernatiu"al powers. They pointed 
out that such a confession would be for the benefit of her soul, "which 
would rest more easily in the hereafter, and the tortures of perdition 
were declared to be her certain punishment if she refused to confess. 
Even the minister joined in the importunities and every influence 
that could be brought to bear was used to get the unfortunate woman 
to implicate others. The method known as the "third degree," used 
by the police of the present day to extort confessions from suspected 
persons, is probably no more brutal than were the persistent efforts 
employed to induce Goody Knapp to admit she was in league with the 
evil one. At one of these examinations Mrs. Knapp declared that it 
was not her intention "to say any thing that is not true," and that 
she did not want "to wrong anybody," but promised that if she had 
anything to reveal she would communicate it to Mr. Ludlow when she 
was brought to the place of execution. Upon this Elizabeth Brew- 
ster, a woman whose zeal no doubt outran her judgment, answered 
in -a coarse way: "If you keep your secret a little longer till you 
come to the ladder, the devil will have you quick if you reveal it not 
till then." 

"Take care," responded Mrs. Knapp somewhat testily, "that the 
devil doed not get you, for you cannot tell how soon you may be my 
companion. The truth is, you would have me say that Goodwife 
Staples is a witch, but I have sins enough to answer for already, and 
I hope that I shall not add to my condemnation. I know nothing 
against Goodwife Staples, and I hope she is an honest woman." 

Richard Lyon sharply rebuked her for using such language, which 
would have a tendency to create discord among neighbors after she 
was gone, whereupon the prisoner answered rather sharply: "Good- 
man Lyon, hold your tongue; you know not what I know. I have 
been fished withal! in private more than you are aware of. I appre- 
hend that Goodwife Staples hath done me a wrong in her testimony, 
but I must not return evil for evil." 

After the body had been cut down from the gallows and laid by 
the side of the grave, a number of women came crowding forward to 



see the witch marks testified to by Mrs. Pell and Mrs. Odell. Mrs. 
Staples knelt by the side of the body and declared the innocence of 
the murdered woman, called attention to the alleged witch marks, 
which she insisted were nothing more than such marks as she herself or 
any woman had. In those days a mole, a freckle, or even a scar of 
some old wound could be distorted by the imagination of the supersti- 
tious into a "witch mark." When Mrs. Staples stated that every 
woman bore such marks, one of the older women present replied: 
"Aye, and be hanged for them and deserve it too." Upon this a 
"general clamor ensued." During the trial the belief that Mrs. 
Staples was herself the witch had gained ground, and her defense 
of the executed woman did not increase her popularity just at that 
particular time. She therefore gave up the effort of tr)'ing to con- 
vince the court and jury they had made a mistake and returned to 
her home. 

After the affair was all over, Roger Ludlow gave it as his opinion 
that Mrs. Staples "liad not only laid herself under the suspicion of 
being a witch, but made a trade of lying." In the spring of 1654 
Thomas Staples, husband of the woman thus characterized, brought 
suit against Mr. Ludlow for the remark above quoted. The case was 
tried at New Haven and the court awarded Mr. Staples damages to 
the amount of fifteen pounds. 

The last trial in the State of Connecticut for the imaginarj' crime 
of witchcraft took place "At a special court of Oyer & Terminer, held 
at Fayrefield September 19th, 1692. Present Robert Treat, Esqr 
Governour, William Jones Esqr. Deputy Governour, John AUyn, 
Secretary, Mr. John Leete, Capt. John Bur, Mr. William Pitkin & 
Capt. Moses Mansfield (composing the Court)." 

The woman placed on trial at this time was Merc^' Disborough, 
wife of Thomas Disborough (in the accounts of the trial the name is 
also spelled Disbrow and Desborough). A grand jury consisting of 
the following gentlemen had previously been impaneled: Joseph 
Bayard, Samuel Ward, Edward Hayward, Peter Ferris, Jonas Wa- 
terbury, John Bowers, Samuel Sherman, Christopher Conistock, Wil- 
liam Reed, John Piatt, Ebenezer Booth and Samuel Galpin. This 
grand jury presented a bill of indictment against Mrs. Disborough, 
in which the following charges were made: 

"That not having the fear of God before thine eyes, thou hast 
had familiarity with Satan the Grand Enemy of God and man and 
that by his instigation and help thou hast in a preternatural way af- 
flicted and done harm to the hodyes and estates of sundry of their 



Majesties Subjects or to some of them contrary to the peace of our 
Sovereign Lord and Ladie and King and Queen, their crown and 
dignitie: And on the 2Sth of Aprill of their Majesties Reignes at at 
sundry other times for which by the laws of God and this colony thou 
deservest to die." 

The indictment bore date of September 15, 1692, four days before 
the trial court was convened. When the court met on the nineteenth 
the following petit jury was impaneled: James Beers, Isaac Wheeler, 
Joseph Rowland, John Wakeraan, John Osborn, Ambrose Thompson, 
John Hobby, John Bowton, Samuel Hayes, John Miles, John Belden 
and Eleazer Slawson. The defendant when arraigned pleaded not 
guilty, and nearly two hundred witnesses were examined, either per- 
sonally or by deposition. The character of the evidence against Mrs. 
Disborough is shown by the depositions of Hester Groment {aged 
thirty-five years or thereabouts) and Edward Jesop (aged twenty- 
nine) . The former testified "that when she lay sick some time in May 
last she saw about midnight or past the widow Staples, that is the 
shape of her person, and the shape of Mercy Disborough sitting on 
the floor by the two chests that stand by the side of the house in the 
inner rume and Mrs. Staples shape dancing upon the bed's feet with 
a white cup in her hand and performed three times." 

Jesop, in his deposition, stated that he was "at Thomas Disbu- 
row's house at Compoh sometime in ye beginning of last winter in the 
evening. He asked me to tarry and sup with him, and there I saw 
a pig roasted that looked very well, but when it came to ye table (where 
we had a very good lite) it seemed to me to have no skin upon it and 
looked very strangely; but when ye sd Disburow began to eat it ye skin 
(to my apprehension) came upon it and it seemed to be as it was when 
it was upon the spit at which strange alteration of ye pigg I was much 
concerned however, fearing to displease his wife by refusing to eat I 
did eat some of ye pigg. 

"And the same time Isaac Sherwood being there and Disbur- 
row's wife and he discoursing concerning a certain place of Scripture 
and I being of ye same minde that Sherwood was concerning ye place 
of Scripture and Sherwood telling her where ye place of Scripture 
was she brought a Bible that was of very large print, but though I 
had a good lite and looked directly upon the book I could not see one 
letter, but looking upon it while in here hands after she had turned a 
few leaves I could see to read it a yard oflf." 

Jesop was what is known to members of the bar as a "willing 
witness." His evident desire was to secure the conviction of Mrs. 



Disborouj^. Not content with relating the incidents of the "pigg" 
and the Bible, he went on to give the following account of his return 
to his home after partaking of "ye pigg": 

"Ye same ni^t going home and coming to Compoh Creek it 
seemed to bee high water whereupon I went to a canooe that was 
about ten rods off which lay upon such a bank as ordinarily I could 
have shoved it into ye creek with ease, though I lifted with all my 
might and lifted one end from the ground I could by noe means push 
it into ye creek. Then the water seemed to bee loe yt I might ride 
over whereupon I went again to the water side but then it appeared 
as at first very high. And then going to ye canooe again and finding 
I could not get it into ye creek I thought to ride around to where I 
had often been and knew ye way as well as before my own dore 
and had my old cart horse, yet I could not keep him in the rode do 
what I could but he often turned aside into ye bushes and then went 
backwards so that though I kept upon my horse and did my best to 
get home I was ye greater part of ye night wandering before I got 
home although it was not much more than two miles.*' 

What would such testimony be worth in a court of justice in this 
Twentieth Century? In those days it was not an uncommon thing 
for visitors to be treated to New England rum by the host. Could it 
have been possible that Mr. Disborough's hospitality' along this line 
was responsible for young Jesop's seeing hig^ water where none ex- 
isted? Did he in his muddled condition wander about all night in 
going a distance of a little over two miles? And in his vague recol- 
lection of what occurred how easy it would have been for him to attri- 
bute the whole thing to witchcraft. 

Elizabeth Clawson, Goody Miller and widow Staples, who were 
tried for witchcraft at the same time, were acquitted,- but Mercj' Dis- 
borough was found guilty and sentenced to death. A petition was 
soon afterward presented asking that she be pardoned. The records 
do not show that the pardon was granted, but a few years later a 
Mercy Disborough of Fairfield appears as one of the executors of the 
estate of her husband, Thomas Disborough. Still later she was living 
in Westport, where it is said children often pointed to her as the 
"old witch." 

Preposterous as such proceedings appear to the people of the 
present generation, it required a long time to uproot the idea that 
witchcraft was a stem reality. In 1765, one hundred and twelve years 
after the execution of Goody Knapp at Fairfield, and seventy-three 
years after the trial of Mercy Disborough, Sir William Blackstone, 



the eminent English jurist, in his "Commentaries on the Laws of 
England," said: "To deny the possibility, nay, the actual existence 
of witchcraft is at once to deny the revealed word of God. * ♦ * 
The thing itself is a truth to which every nation hath at times borne 
witness." And now, a centurj' and a half after Blackstone wrote, 
it is impossible to find an intelligent person who believes in witches. 


Fairfield is first mentioned as a "town" in the order of the Gen- 
eral Court of April 6, 1640, directing Messrs. Ludlow, Haynes and 
Wells to adjust the boundary lines between that town and Stratford. 
The town records prior to 1650 have been lost, hence it is impossible 
to say just when Fairfield was incorporated as a town, or what rules 
for the government of the inhabitants were adopted during the first 
eleven years of its history. One peculiar ordinance passed in that 
time has been preserved. In May, 1647, the town enacted the fol- 

"Forasmuch as it is observed that many abuses are committed 
by frequent taking of Tobacco it is hereby ordered that no Person 
under the age of twentie years nor any other that hath not alredy 
accustomed himselfe to the use thereof shall take any Tobacco until 
he shall have brought a Certifficate under the hand of some who are 
approved for Knolledge & Skill in phisic that it is useful for him and 
also that he hath received a license from the Court for the same." 

The young man of that period stood a poor chance of becoming 
addicted to the excessive use of cigarettes, for the ordinance provided 
that when tobacco was used it was not "to be flaunted on the street or 
taken in the woods or fields unless the person shal bee on a Trail or 
Journey ten miles from his home." It could be enjoyed as part of 
one's dinner {or immediately after eating), but it was not to be used 
oftener than once a day and then "not in company with any other." 

The government established by the first settlers was a democracy 
of the simplest character. Every man had a voice in making the laws 
and rare indeed were they wilfully violated. In February, 1662, the 
"townsmen," or selectmen as they are now called, chosen for the year 
were: Jehu Burr, John Burr, William Ward, Cornelius Hull, John 
Banks, William Hill and Mr. Gold. In May this committee elected 
Edward Adams "Pound Keeper" and ordered that his fees should be 
one penny "for every parcel of creatures brought to the pound." A 
few years later the town meeting voted to give "ye east farmers 



libertie to pound their own creatures themselves or any of them or by 
ye pounder or other in a pound at sayd farmes they pounding sayd 
pound at theire own cost or in any allowed yard there and. he that 
keeps ye sayd pound or yard gate shall have one penny per head." 

Farming and stock raising were the leading occupations and it 
is natural that much of the early legislation should pertain to these 
lines of industrj'. Fence-viewers were elected to "attend to the com- 
mon fences" and to notify any individual that his fence was defective. 
The fence-viewers and the pound-keepers worked together for the 
protection of the growing crops. In J669 the town meeting ordered 
"that when there hath beene Notice given to make up defective fences 
the pounders shall make it theire care toe impound all the Swine that 
shall bee found in the comon fields and meaddows. They are to begin 
to pound sayd swine two days after men have Notice of the defective 

The sheep-masters were likewise important functionaries in look- 
ing after the care of the flocks. In Februarj', 1670, the following 
order was unanimously adopted by the town meeting: "Whereas 
there is complaynt that the dogs of some of ye inhabitants of ye town 
have worried & killed several sheep and some of the owners of the 
dogs refuse to kill the dogs for the prevention of Damage the Town 
orders that if any dogs of any Inhabitants of ye Town have killed or 
worried sheep or have been in Company with dogs when such 
missehiefe was done or shall bee soe in Future time the owner having 
notice thereof shall kill such dog or dogs and if he shall refuse or 
neglect to kill sayd dog or dogs what sheep for the future shall bee 
soe killed or worried while the sayd dog or dogs live in Town ye owner 
of such dog or dogs shall pay all such damages as ye proprietors of ye 
sheep shall sustaine unto them except the owner of ye dog or dogs 
shall make it what and whose dog or dogs else did ye misschief." 

As a large part of the land was held in common until such time 
as it should be parceled out to actual settlers, and the flocks and herds 
grazed freely over these common lands, there were also cowkeepers, 
to see that cattle did not stray beyond the town limits, and an official 
"brander," whose duty it was to see that every animal was propeyly 
marked with the owner's initials burned upon the skin. Dues were 
paid by the owners of cattle, in proportion to the number of head they 
possessed, to pay the cowkeepers and brander for their work. If a 
pi^ got into a neighbor's garden the pound-keeper was notified and 
the pig was Imprisoned in the pound until its owner made good the 
damage and paid the pound-keeper's charges. If the owner failed to 



Til!-: K£v; yoRK 



redeem the pig, it was sold and the money applied to the payment of 
damages and fees for impounding. Stray animals, after being adver- 
tised as the law required, were "sold at public outcry at the beat of the 

Public houses of entertainment were called "ordinaries." Pro- 
prietors of ordinaries were required to obtain a license, or were chosen 
by the town, and they were governed by rules and regulations of the 
strictest character. The house was to be closed at nine o'clock in 
the evening; no one was to be permitted to drink more than half a 
pint of wine at one time. If a man got drunk he was fined ten shil- 
lings. "Excessive drinking" was punished by a fine not exceeding 
one shilling and four pence. 

Nothing was done without the consent of the town. If a miller 
wanted to build a mill, a blacksmith to open a shop, or a tanner to 
start a tanyard, the matter must first come before the town meeting. 
If a majority voted in favor of the proposition the work went on, 
otherwise the miller, blacksmith or tanner must pass on to some other 
town that would appreciate her services. Undesirable visitors and 
residents were frequently made to feel "the iron hand of the law." 
In June, 1666, the townsmexua-ppointed John Burr "to notifye and 
warn Mr. Blacklige to dep^t ye towne and npt take up his residence 
herein." As the stocks and the whipping poM stood upon the edge 
of the village green as a reminder that the orders of the townsmen 
were to be enforced, the probabilities are that Mr. Blacklige "moved 
on" to some other locality. 

On January 4, 1677, the town ordered each owner of a dwelling 
house to place thereon "a ladder long enough to reach to the ridge 
pole," and John Green, Osborn Wakeman, Richard Hubbell and 
Thomas Wilson were appointed a committee to see that the ladders 
were provided within two weeks, under penalty of a fine of ten shil- 
lings a week for every week beyond that time. At the same meeting 
it was ordered that every householder sweep his chimney every two 
weeks in winter and once a month during the summer. Henrj'' Castle 
and Edward Wilson were appointed to see that the ordinance was 
enforced. These provisions against loss by fire were the beginning of 
Fairfield's fire department. 


The town hall of Fairfield was once the courthouse of Fairfield 
County. When the Village of Fairfield was laid out a "green" was 



left in the center. This villa^ green afterward became the center of 
business as well. Here were located the courthouse, the jail, the 
meeting house and the ordinary or inn. Upon the removal of the 
county seat to Bridgeport in 1858, the courthouse became the town 
hall. It stands near the center of the green, is a substantial frame 
structure, with abundant room for the town officers, a hall for town 
meetings, quarters for the local courts, etc. Over the entrance is the 
inscription: "Built 1720; Burned by British 1779; Rebuilt 1794; 
Remodeled 1870." 


At the south edge of the green stood the Sim Tavern, which was 
built shortly after the town was burned by the British in 1779. It 
was kept for many years by a man named Penfield. Washington, 
while President of the United States, stopped at this hostelry one 
night on his way to New Haven. The citizens of Fairfield gathered 
to do honor to the nation's chief executive and the next morning he 
pursued his journey. In 1818 the property was purchased by Rev. 
Nathaniel Hewitt, pastor of the Congregational Church, who sold it 
some years later to Dr. Lyman Atwater, A private school was at one 
time kept in this house, which is one of the town's historic landmarks. 

Immediately after the Revolutionarj- war. General Abel built the 
large residence which was afterward converted into a tavern by Cap- 
tain Benson. The "Benson House" became widely known and for 
many years it was a favorite stopping place for travelers on horse- 
back or by stage from New York to Boston, or from New England 
to the West. Among the noted personages who were guests at this 
tavern were Aaron Burr, Daniel Webster, Andrew Jackson, Booth, 
Macready and other noted actors in the early part of the Nineteenth 


The following account of the Fairfield Memorial Library is taken 
from a little volume pubUshed in 1910: "This library was organized 
and incorporated in 187ft through the inspiration and leadership of 
Mr. Morris W. Lyon, who gave most generously to the institution 
and cherished it with unswerving fidelity during the later years of 
his beneficent life. Although called by its founder a memorial of our 
national independence and other important events, it is really a me- 



t::k I .v/ voKK I 



morial of Mr. Lyon, witnessing to his local patriotism and his spirit 
of noble helpfulness. Associated with him in loyal co-operation when 
the library received its charter were: Rev. Samuel Osgood, D. D., 
the first president of the board, Capt. Isaac Jennings, Rev. James 
K. Lombard, Mr. Oliver B. Jennings, Mr. Samuel Morehouse, Rev. 
E. E. Rankin, D. D., and Mr. John Glover. 

"The edifice which now serves the association, built by popular 
subscription, was dedicated on the afternoon of June 11, 1903. A 
large and notable company was present on the occasion. Addresses 
were made by Rev. Samuel Hart, D. D., president of the Connecticut 
Historical Society; Prof. Henry F. Osbom, Ph. D., of Colxmibia Uni- 
versity; Prof. William L. Phelps, Ph. D., of Yale University; Hon. 
John H. Perry, president of the Pequot Library Association of South- 
port, and Timothy Dwight, D. D., LL. D., ex-president of Yale Uni- 

"The library is free — supported by the gifts of friends and patrons. 
It is open six days of the week. The assembly room on the second 
floor is given to the uses of the Fairfield Historical Society for their 
collections, and is also used for lectures and public meetings." 


The Fairfield Historical Society was organized on June 17, 1902, 
at a meeting called for the purpose and held in the old Sherman man- 
sion, a house built by Judge Roger M. Sherman, nephew of Roger 
Sherman, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Its 
object, as stated in the constitution adopted at the time of the organi- 
zation, is "to foster a spirit of local and national patriotism by public 
meetings, historical research, the marking of interesting sites, the pub- 
lication of papers and documents, and the collection and preservation 
of old letters, journals, books, furniture, garments and heirlooms 
handed down from an honorable ancestry." 

Soon after its organization the society undertook the work of copy- 
ing "Volume A" of the town land records, an old volume which had 
almost fallen to pieces. The work was done at a cost of $850, thus 
preserving the early land records of Fairfield. Following this, the 
society had a plat of the town made, showing the history of each home- 
stead lot, the names of its successive owners, etc. 

A museum of antiquities was established upon the second fioor of 
the Memorial Library, where the society holds its public meetings. 
Here have been collected miany old documents, utensils used during the 



colonial days, historic relics of various kinds, etc. The society has 
also published a number of historic papers, written by members of the 
society and others, bearing upon some particular phase of local history. 
Reports of the doings of the society are printed and distributed 
among the members annually. The membership numbers over two 
hundred, and there are many who are not members that have con- 
tributed articles to the musemn. The oificers of the society in 1916 
were: Rev. Frank S. Child, president; Henry C. Sturges, vice presi- 
dent; Rev. Allen E. Beeman, secretary; Samuel H. Wheeler, treas- 
urer. There is also an executive council composed of the above officers 
and the following members: Charles B. Jennings, Ohver G. Jen- 
nings, VVinthrop H. Perry, John H. Perry, Milton S. Lacey and 
William H. Burr. 


Almost three centuries have passed since Roger Ludlow "adven- 
tured to drive his Cattle thither," and the sound of the woodman's 
ax was heard for the first time in the forests of what is now the Town 
of Fairfield. To note all the changes of these three centuries would 
require volumes. The schoolhouse has supplanted the Indian wig- 
wam, the forests have been felled and the trees converted into homes 
for civilized men, herds of cattle graze where packs of howling wolves 
once had their haunts, the great steamship plies the waters of Long 
Island Sound, where once the canoe of the red man was the only 
craft, one of the main lines of the Xew York, New Haven & Hart- 
ford railway system has taken the place of the old-time stage coach, 
whose arrival and departure were occasions of importance, and elec- 
tric line connects Fairfield with Bridgeport, the metropolis of the 
county. In 1910 the population was 6,134, and in 1916 the property 
of the town was valued for tax purposes at $8,054,700, which valu- 
ation is only about two-thirds of the true value. 

Fairfield has a high school and ten graded schools, in which fifty 
teachers are employed. During the year 1916 the town expended 
$45,594 for educational purposes, exclusive of $40,000 voted by the 
town meeting of August 16, 1916, for a new school building in the 
Village of Southport. Several of the leading religious denominations 
have handsome and commodious houses of worship, the business in- 
terests of the town include practically all lines of merchandise, poultry 
raising, fruit growing, manufacturing and the usual minor shops to 
be found in everj' village. But the pride of Fairfield is in its cozy 




t;:^-. i.„w YORK I 



homes and the beautiful grounds which surround them, making it one 
of the most desirable residence districts along the shores of the Sound. 
The town officers at the begiraiing of the year were: Charles 
A. Rowe, F. A. Burr and Hezekiah E. Elwood, selectmen; Joseph 
I. Flint, clerk; Luin B. Switzer, treasurer; Andrew B. Wakeman, 
Clarence H. Bradley and Edgar S. Banks, assessors; Bacon Wake- 
man, judge of probate; Robert C. Hitchcock and Frederic B. Wake- 
man, auditors; Clarence H. Banks and James H. Farrell, registrars 
of voters. 


When the first settlement of Fairfield began, a harbor was estab- 
lished at Black Rock at the southeast corner of the town. During a 
period of more than two hundred years this harbor was within the 
limits of Fairfield, Fayerweather Island forming a natural break- 
water, behind which ships could find safe anchorage. Black Rock 
was a place of considerable activity during the Revolution, and it 
was also the headquarters of the men engaged in whaleboat warfare 
in that conflict. One of those was Capt. Caleb Brewster, who cap- 
tured or destroyed a number -of British craft. Black Rock is now 
within the corporation of Brideport. 

As the settlement expanded another harbor was found near the 
southwest corner of the towtt, between the Sasco and Rose hills. After 
the burning of Fairfield in 1779, quite a number of the citizens went 
to this harbor and founded the Village of Southport. For many years 
after the Revolution Southport Harbor was one of the best known 
on the coast of Long Island Sound. Its fleets engaged in active com- 
merce with Boston, New York and ports of foreign countries, and 
regular lines of communication between Southport and a number of 
short cities sprang into existence and flourished for years. The fol- 
lowing story is told of one of Southport's sea captains, who was a 
terror to the tories along the shore: 

"One June evening Capt. Amos Perry sailed from the South- 
port Harbor in his sloop Racer, for the express purpose of punisH- 
ing one of the tory bands that for some time had been especially 
active in the neighborhood. That night a storm came on and the 
next morning the Racer was discovered by the crew of a tory sloop, 
in seeming distress. Supposing the Racer to have been damaged by 
the storm, the tory captain drew near, saluted Captain Perry and im- . 
mediately afterward proceeded to board the vessel, intending no doubt 
to carry off the Racer as a prize. The capture was apparently an 



easy one and the tory captain was congratulating himself upon the 
event, when Captain Perry gave a signal previously agreed upon, his 
men fully armed swarmed out of the cabin and the hold. A brief 
hand-to-hand fight followed, the tories were overcome, and the sloop, 
which was carrying a cargo of military stores for the British army, 
was towed into Southport Harbor as the reward of Captain Perry's 

At different periods four ship yards have been successfully op- 
erated at Southport, or Mill River, as the settlement was called for 
some years after it was started. During the War of 1812 a fortifi- 
cation called "Fort Defence" was built near what is now the lower 
wharf, and a volunteer company was organized in the Town of Fair- 
field to garrison the fort in the event the enemy appeared in the 


Southport was incorporated under a charter dated May 26, 1881, 
and the first borough meeting was held on the 4th of July follow- 
ing. The first borough officers were: Jonathan Bulkley, warden; 
Ebenezer Dimon, Charles Perry, Andrew Bulkley, Justus Sherwood, 
Jesup Alvord, Wakeman B. Meeker, burgesses; Simon Sherwood, 
treasurer; Julius Pike, bailiff. The last borough meeting under this 
charter was held on December 30, 1854. Since then Southport has . 
been a village within the limits of the Town of Fairfield, governed 
according to the general law of the state relating to villages. 


Southport has had at least three public or semi-public libraries. 
In February, 1880, the "Mill River Social Library" was formed. 
Life memberships could be secured upon payment of $10, annual 
memberships paying a certain sum annually. Among the life mem- 
Ijers were Jeremiah Sturges, Hezekiah Davis, Julius Pike, Simon 
Sherwood and Joseph Bulkley. After a few years this association 
went down and the books were distributed among the members. 

In 1858 a library was established in connection with the public 
schools and at one time numbered about two hundred volumes. The 
third library was organized in 1875, when subscriptions amounting 
to about two hundred and fifty dollars were obtained without diffi- 
culty. The money was expended for books and after a short career 
the whole business was turned over to a temperance society. 







The Fequot Library, an institution of which any village like 
Southport could justly be proud, was built and equipped by Mrs. 
Elbert B. Monroe, a niece of the late Frederick Marquand, whose 
ancestor, Henry Marquand, settled upon the site now occupied by 
the library in 1768. . In later years Frederick went to New York, 
where he amassed a fortune, a portion of which he placed in the 
charge of Mrs. Elbert B. Munroe, Henry C. Marquand, Alanson 
Trask and D. C. McWilliams for educational purposes. The trust 
fund has been managed so that over three millions of dollars have 
been used in founding schools, libraries, etc., or as donations to estab* 
lished colleges or other institutions. 

It was from this fund that Southport received its handsome 
library building, which stands upon a beautiful lawn, where once 
stood the Marquand homestead. Perhaps it would have been appro- 
priate to name the library the "Marquand Memorial," but the name 
"Pequot" was selected because it stands in sight of the spot where 
the last great fight of the Pequot war occurred in July, 1687. The 
librar}'' contains about thirty-five thousand volumes and was first 
opened to the public in 1894. It is controlled by an association, the 
officers of which in 1917 were as follows: John H. Perry, presi- 
dent; H. H. Perry, secretary; Frederic E. Northrop, treasurer; Jose- 
phine S. Hendrick, librarian'; Frances E. Gleason, assistant librarian. 
The institution is free to the people of Southport. 


The Southport Fire Department was incorporated on October 
81, 1895. Previous to that time, however, the village had a volunteer 
fire company. After the incorporation an engine house was built on 
Main Street, where in 1917 were quartered a steam fire engine, a 
hook and ladder truck apd a hose carriage. H. H. Perry was then 
president of the department, which is still chiefly on a volunteer basis; 
E. A. Van Holtz, Jr., and W. S. Hemson, vice presidents; T. N. 
Wakeman, secretary; Theodore Van Holtz, Jr., financial secretary; 
Fred E. Northrop, treasurer; John O. Dwyer, chief engineer. 


In 1910 the population of Southport was 1,479. It is the busi- 
ness center of the Town of Fairfield, has two banks, a number of well 
stocked mercantile establishments, some prosperous manufacturing 



enterprises, a new $40,000 school building. Congregational, Episco- 
pal and Methodist churches, lodges of several of the fraternal soci- 
eties, and a number of handsome and comfortable residences. It is a 
station on the main line of the New York, New Haven & Hartford 
Railroad between New York and Boston, and i? connected with the 
adjacent towns by electric railway. 





Bridgeport has been aptly termed the Park City, not only on 
account of the number of her parks, but their extent and beautiful 
appearance. Upon the cool waters of the Sound, along the river, 
and scattered around the residential districts are no less than ten '^arks. 
These are: Beardsley Park, north end of Noble Avenue and East 
Main; Brooklawn Park, west side of Brooklawn Avenue; Columbus 
Park, Park Avenue beyond Lincoln Avenue; Lafayette Park, Oak 
Street, Lexington Avenue and Linen Avenue; Marina Park, Wal- 
demere Avenue and Marina Park Street; Old Mill Green, Boston 
Avenue from East Main to the Pequonnock River; Seaside Park, 
south end of Main, Broad, Myrtle Avenue, Park Avenue and Iranis- 
tan Avenue; Washington Park, East Washington Avenue and Bar- 
num Avenue; Wood Park, Wood Avenue, Grove, Benham Avenue 
and Sherwood Avenue; and Yellow Mill Park, at the junction of 
Stratford Avenue and Connecticut Avenue. 

Parks in New England may be said to have originated prior to 
the year 1800, when it was customary to lay out wide streets and 
small openings called "greens." The village green was usually the 
repository of the meeting house, the town house, the whipping-post 
and the stocks. No effort was made to improve these open spaces 
until all of the surrounding streets and lots had been built up. The 
famous New Haven Green and the Boston Common are notable 
examples of this custom. Almost every town and village had its 
green and in most of them this historic spot has been preserved until 
the present day. 

. DigilizedbyGOOgle 


Bridgeport's first attempt at establishing an "open space" for 
her citizens began before she became a city. In fact, the beginning 
dates even further back, when the Stratfield training ground, on the 
comer of Clinton and North avenues, was' started. Richard Hub- 
bell, a prominent early settler, donated this plot of ground. This 
ground, was a necessity in those days for the militia, as well as a 
common meeting place for the citizens. In 1694 the people of Fair- 
field and Pequonnock villages were joined into a church order by 
the General Assembly. In 1697 the court ordered that the "soldiers 
inhabiting that territory be united together and exercised in one 
band and company ; Lieut. John Beersley and Ensign Isaac Wheeler 
to be commissioned respectively therefor." The soldiers were under 
obligation to train at least four days in the year and to hold them- 
selves in readiness for active duty at all times. After the hours of 
training were over, the young men used the training ground for 
sports and games under the admiring eyes of the village maidens. 

The next of these so-called parks is the Old Mill Green, or Pem- 
broke Park. This was formed by the forking of the King's High- 
way, east of Berkshire Mill Pond. The King's Highway followed 
an old Indian trail and was largely used by travelers between Strat- 
ford and Fairfield. Stratford voted in 1685 that all the uplands and 
marshes southward of the road leading to Fairfield should be left for 
a common, and twenty rods in length should be left for a road to Fair- 
field bounds. In 1740 Richard Nochols, Nathaniel Sherman, Sam- 
uel Judson, Peter Pixlee, Ebenezer Hurd, Theophilus Nichols, 
Samuel Sherman, Timothy Sherman and Joseph Nichols deeded the 
land of Old Mill Green for a perpetual common to the people. This 
has been improved for park purposes by the City of Bridgeport. 

The first ground acquired by Bridgeport for public use is what 
is now known as the City Hall Park, or Green. The Borough of 
Bridgeport purchased this plot of land from Salmon Hubbell on 
February 9, 1807, the land described as "that piece or parcel of land 
lying and being situate in said Bridgeport, containing one-quarter 
of an acre, be the same more or less,rand bounded easterly on Daniel 
Fayerweather's land, southwardly and westwardly and northwardly 
on highways, to be laid open, kept and maintained as a public high- 
way forever." The date of the deed from Hubbell to the city is 
March 17, 1807. This plot of ground is that which at present lies 
west of the City Hall Building; the portion east of the building was 
acquired at a later date. The wording of the above quoted descrip- 
tion, describing the ground as a public highway, comes about by rea- 








son of the lack of any provision in the borough charter for the laying 
out of any green or square. This ground is not considered now as a 
public park, but in view of the care taken and the beauty of it the 
same is one of the garden spots of the city. 

In 1851 William H. Noble and P. T. Bamum, when opening their 
property in East Bridgeport, in the district known as the New Pas- 
ture Lots, set aside a four acre tract of land for a public park. In 
this way they thought to add value and beauty to the residential dis- 
trict about to be opened. However, it was not deeded to the city 
until 1865. The owners of property became alarmed over the possi- 
bility of the tract never being made into a park, so in May, 1865, 
Aldermen Nathaniel Wheeler and Eli Thompson, and Councilman 
Frederick Hurd, were appointed by the city council to investigate 
the matter and report any measures necessary or advisable to sec]ire 
the ground for a public park. They reported that P. T. Barnum and 
William H. Perry, owners, would give the ground to the city on 
condition that the city grade, fence and otherwise improve it, also 
maintain it as a public park, and that $500 be appropriated by the 
city, which sum, in addition to $2,500 raised by private subscription, 
should be used for this purpose. In the July following the plot was 
deeded to the city and $1,000 was voted for the necessary improve- 
ments. The name Washington Park was given to it and William H. 
Perry, Charles A. Hotchkiss and Nathaniel Wheeler were named 
as commissioners. This was the first real public park in the city and 
today is one of the prettiest. Elegant residences, four of the most 
attractive churches, and well improved streets surround this park. 

Seaside Park is the largest park in Bridgeport and one of the 
most attractive in New England. Perhaps the first public notice of 
the land now comprising the park was taken in 1862, when the Sev- 
enteenth Connecticut Volunteer Regiment encamped on the land 
south of the city. Farms then occupied the space, but Colonel Noble 
and the crowds of people who visited the soldiers' camp became im- 
pressed with the desirability of the site as a public park. The work 
of boosting the location was taken up the next year by The Bridge- 
port Standard and by many timely articles the question was hastened 
to a conclusion. The public as a whole soon demanded that some- 
thing be done toward the securing of the land. 

P. T. Bamum and James C. Loomis were the first individuals to 
take any definite action. Both were public spirited men and desired 
that Bridgeport have every possible advantage. A survey was made 



in 1864 by E. R. Lambert and George Beckwith and a map drawn 

of the thirty-five acres in discussion, thirteen acres of which were in 
Bridgeport and the remainder in Fairfield. In 1865 a committee was 
■appointed by the council, consisting of Nathaniel Wheeler, Frederick 
Hurd and Eli Thompson. They investigated the proposition and 
reported favorably. They found that the owners of the land, Capts. 
John Brooks and Burr Knapp, and George Bailey and P. T. Bar- 
num, would convey the land to the city free of charge provided that 
it be used perpetually for a public park; and they also reported 
that a contribution of $2,720 had been made by several persons and 
business firms for the purchase of additional land. A city meeting 
was called July 8, 1865, and the council was authorized to accept the 
deeds to the land and to appropriate a sum not exceeding ten thou- 
sand dollars for grading and improving the park. 

On August 14, 1865, the council accepted the deeds of John 
Brooks, Maria Brooks, Burr Knapp, Marietta Knapp, George Bai- 
ley, Harry Wheeler and P. T. Barnum to the city of about thirty 
acres of land adjoining the Sound, gave it the name of Seaside Park, 
and appointed James C. Loomis, S. S. Clapp and Jacob Kiefer com- 
missioners of the park. 

Gen. E. R. Viele of New York gave the suggestion for the stone 
sea wall around the park front, the driveway and walk behind the 
wall, the pond excavated and connected with tide water. The Dailj' 
Standard for January 15, 1867, contains the following item in regard 
to the park: "In the rooms of Messrs. Lambert & Bunnell, the archi- 
tects, in Wales Building, can be seen an excellent sketch of the pro- 
posed Seaside Park. This drawing was, we learn, obtained and pre- 
sented to the park commissioners by Mr. Nathaniel Wheeler at 
considerable expense, and is an example of public spirit worthy of 
special mention. The drawings were obtained of the designers and 
superintendent of the New York Central Park, and the work was 
done by Messrs. Olmstead, Vaux & Company, artists of New York. 
The plan is well worthy the attention and study of our citizens gener- 
ally, and particularly of those who have property in the vicinity of 
the park." 

Afterward the land area of the park was increased by both dona- 
tions and purchases. In 1872-8 the commissioners, Nathaniel 
Wheeler, G. B. Waller and Albert Eames reported the total expense 
in the purchase of land and in improvements to be $77,778.85. A 
table of lands donated and purchased for Seaside Park until 1872 is 



given here (recopied out of The Standard's History of Bridgeport, 


August 14, 1865. P. T. Barnum, 7 acres, 10 rods Given 

August 14, 1865. John Brooks and wife, Burr Knapp 

and wife, 6 acres, 57 rods Given 

August 14, 1865. George Bailey, 7 acres, 134 rods.... Given 

August 14, 1865. Harry Wheeler, 100 feet for avenue. Given 

August 14, 1865. Harry Wheeler, 7 acres, 85 rods $ 2,257.50 

September 22, 1865. J. Brooks and wife, Burr Knapp 

and wife, F. Lathrop and wife, south end of Main 

Street, quantity not stated Given 

September 28, 1865. George Bailey, 5 acres $ 900.00 

September 29, 1865. George Bailey, 8 acres, 151 rods. . 4,470.50 

June 5, 1866. F. Lathrop and wife, west of Main Street 250.00 

June 6, 1866. J. Brooks and wife, west of Main Street. Given 

June 6, 1866. Burr Knapp and wife, no quantity stated. Given 
June 7. 1866. I. H. Whiting, south of Park Place, 

between Broad and Main, quantity not stated $ 500.00 

June 14, 1866. John Brooks and Burr Knapp, 4 acres, 

120 rods 1,425.00 

September 8, 1866. Harry Wheeler, 2 acres, 128 rods. . 832.00 

July 12, 1869. P. T. Bamum, 8 acres, 80 rods Given 

September 14, 1869. Harry Wheeler, 2 acres, 186 rods. .$ 2,843.75 

January 24, 1870. Nathaniel Wheeler, 2 acres, 80 rods. . Given 


In the year 1884 P. T. Barnum gave about thirty acres more to 
the city, the land lying between Waldemere Avenue and the water 
and extending from Iranistan Avenue on the east to Barnum's dyke, 
at the mouth of Cedar Creek, on the west. In 1895 Horace Smith, 
who owned a claim to certain land within the park, south of the north 
line of Waldemere Avenue, released his entire right to the city. This 
gave the city unobstructed ownership and enabled the west end of 
the park to b§ improved. 

The bronze statue of P. T. Barnum was unveiled on July 4, 1898, 
with a ceremony attended by a great number of people. The statue 
itself, which was executed by Thomas Ball, was presented to the City 
of Bridgeport by Mr. Barnum's former partners — James A. Bai- 
ley, James A. Hutchinson and W. W. Cole. The granite pedestal 



upon which the statue is placed was given by the citizens of Bridge- 

The handsome Soldiers' Monument in Seaside Park is the gift of 
the Ladies' Soldiers' Monument Association of Bridgeport and the 
town, who raised about $80,000 for the purpose. The cornerstone of 
this monument was laid August 29, 1866, Governor Joseph R. Haw- 
ley and Maj.-Gen. A. H. Terry being among the speakers during 
the exercises. The monument was dedicated August 17> 1876, and 
the occasion was used for one of the largest military and civic cele- 
brations ever held in the city. The oratory of the day was in the 
hands of such men as D. H. Sterling, Rev. Alexander R. Thompson, 
Maj. William H. Mallory, Ex-Governor J. R. Hawley and Gen. 
William H. Noble. A sudden storm compelled the rendition of the 
program in the opera house. The artist and designer of the monu- 
ment was William H. Moseman of Chicopee, Mass., and the committee 
in charge of the erection was composed of William H. Mallorj\ 
Henry A. House and J. D. Alvord. 

The statue of Elias Howe, Jr., in Seaside Park was presented 
to the city on condition that the latter provide a suitable base for 
the figure of the inventor and former head of the Howe Sewing 
Machine Company. This was done and in the fall of 1884 the statue 
was placed in its present position. 

To James W. Beardsley the City of Bridgeport is indebted for 
the splendid park known as Beardsley Park." In February, 1878, be 
deeded the land to the city on condition that "the city shall accept 
and keep the same forever as a public park, by the name of Beards- 
ley Park." In 1881 the park was laid out under the direction of 
Frederick Law Olmstead. This is one of the beauty places of the 
city, located on the river and combining hundreds of shade trees with 
a rustic beauty unsurpassed. In memory of the donor of this park 
there was erected a statue of James W. Beardsley, the unveiling 
taking place June 19, 1909. The subject of this tribute was first 
mentioned in 1904 and several citizens, prominent among them Fred 
Enos, secured subscriptions and a sum from the city for the statue. 

In this connection may also be mentioned the untimely death of 
James W. Beardsley on December 22, 1892. A few evenings before 
his house was visited by burglars while he was ill and not only did 
the thieves carry away considerable plunder, but left Mr. Beardsley 
with injuries from which he died. The guilty parties were never 

The latest park acquired by the city is Beechwood Park, pur- 



chased by the park department. This park is situated on upper 
Park Avenue and extends easterly, comprising about thirty-five acres. 
The other parks of the city are small, some formed by the converg- 
mp; of streets and others secured by purchase. Lafayette Park was 
given to the city by Nathaniel Wheeler and Seth B. Jones. 

Before completing the description of the parks of Bridgeport 
it should be said that to Mayor Philo C. Calhoun the .honor must be 
attributed of first calling attention to the need of a public park. In 
his message of August, 1857, he wrote: "The want of such a place 
in our crowded limits for the free circulation of air and healthy 
exercise is seriously fell by our citizens, and universally remarked 
by visitors. There is scarce a foot of public ground within the city 
limits where persons can resort for recreation, and if such an improve- 
ment is ever to be made, no time should be lost in taking the neces- 
sary measures to secure it." However, the city had to experience the 
Civil war before any action was taken. 

The first bridge of Bridgeport was built across the Pequonnock 
at the head of navigation, or across the lower end of Berkshire MUl 
Pond. By the time of the close of the Revolution there was no 
bridge below the head of tide water; ferries transported the people 
across the river. The exact date of the building of Benjamin's 
Bridge, later Yellow Mill Bridge, is not known, but it was prob- 
■ ably sometime after this- Passengers bound for Stratford, after 
crossing on the ferry, were again obliged to take a boat across the 
eastern arm of the harbor. 

This mode of travel became very inconvenient and in May, 1791, 
Robert Walker of Stratford and others petitioned the Legislature 
for authority to establish a lottery to raise the funds necessary to 
build a bridge across Newfield Harbor. The lottery method, selling 
tickets by which means to get money, was not held in disrepute at 
that time. In response to the petition the Legislature appointed 
James Davenport, John Chandler and Jonathan IngersoU a commit- 
tee to investigate and make a report upon the proposed bridge. This 
committee reported favorably and in October, 1791, the following 
resolution was passed; 

"act establishing lottery bridge 

"Upon petition of Robert Walker and other inhabitants of the 
Town of Stratford, and Jonathan Sturges, Thaddeus Burr, Andrew 



Rowland, and other inhabitants in the Town of Fairfield, in Fair- 
field County, showing to this assembly that the road from the Town 
of Stratford to the Town of Fairfield through a village called Old 
Mill is about nine miles, and by reason of the rocks, hills, and other 
bad quarters of the said road, the same is extremely incommodious 
to traveUng in general, and particularly to the public stage, and that 
another road leading from said Stratford to said Fairfield through a 
place called New Field is three miles shorter and capable of being 
an extremely good and pleasant road and very commodious to the 
public, but that by reason of an intervention of an arm of the sea 
across said road at Xewfield the same cannot be rendered conven- 
ient without a bridge at said Xewfield across said arm of sea, and 
that the said Town of Stratford, to which said Village of Newfield 
belongs, is unable to erect said bridge at their own expense; pray- 
ing for liberty to raise a sum of money to build said bridge by lottery, 
as per petition on file, etc. 

"Resolved, by this assembly, that liberty be and the same is hereby 
granted to the petitioners for the setting up of a lottery for the 
purpose, of raising a sum of £1,500 lawful money, and that the 
moneys so to be raised shall be appropriated to the purpose of build- 
ing said bridge; which said bridge shall contain therein a draw or 
drawbridge over the most convenient place In the channel, of twenty- 
four feet in width, and shall be completed in everj' respect and com- 
modious for the public; and that John Benjamin, Amos Hubbell, 
John Thompson, Josiah Lacey, David Burr and Daniel Salmon ( ?), 
or any of them not less than four, be and they hereby are appointed 
managers of said lottery, and fully authorized to establish a scheme 
or schemes of said lottery, to consist of one or more class or classes, 
make sale of the tickets and collect the money arising therefrom. 

"Provided, they do within three months after the rising of this 
assembly lodge with the treasurer of this state a bond payable to said 
treasurer or his successors in said office, with one or more sureties, to 
be approved of by said treasurer in the penal sum of £8,000 lawful 
money, conditioned for the faithful management of said lottery, pay- 
ment of the proceeds, and that the money so raised be faithfully 
applied to the building of the said bridge, and that the said bridge 
be erected and completed by the 1st day of December, 1798, and 
that the sale of said Ijekets shall not commence before the first day of 
July next." 

This bridge had a draw, parting in the middle and raised by pul- 
leys on each side. The construction of the bridge was very poor, as 



hhidukkirt hospital 

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■within three years much repairing had to be done. About 1804, 
while undergoing repairs, the whole structure gave way and fell into 
the stream, where it remained for a number of years. Benjamin 
Hall, of Stratford, and afterwards Abel Hall, Jr., and Elijah Bur- 
ritt, were given permission by the Legislature to repair it, but failed 
to improve the grant. In 1807 Salmon Hubbell and others rebuilt 
the bridge with the western terminus farther up stream, at Fairfield 
Avenue. This was a toll bridge until 1868, when the city bought it 
and made it a free bridge. It was called the Lower Bridge. 

In 1886 Willis Stillman, B. G. Noble and others constructed a 
bridge at Indian Island. This, known as Noble's Lodge, was pur- 
chased by the city in 1864 and opened to the public for free passage. 
In 1893 the structure underwent expensive repairs. The first rail- 
road bridge was built by the New York & New Haven Railroad Com- 
pany in 1848 and was replaced by an iron bridge in 1869. Private 
individuals built a foot bridge along this structure in 1850 and 
charged a toll, but the city built a foot bridge on the other side in 
1869 and made it free. 

The first center bridge was constructed by P. T. Barnum and 
Wilh'am H. Noble, at the time they opened up their land in East 
Bridgeport. The bridge was bought by the city in 1864 and the toll 
charges removed. The Center Bridge, from Congress Street on 
the west to the foot of William Street on the east, was opened in 
1870. It was built of stone and iron and had a draw of 210 feet. It 
was constructed by William S. Knowlton at a cost of $100,000. 

The Lower Bridge was rebuilt in 1888, the improvement costing 
the city about seventy thousand dollars. The work was in charge of 
Charles R. Brothweil, of the board of public works. This bridge 
was the first to employ an electric motor for moving the draw. 

Yellow Mill Bridge was at first a toll bridge and was built by 
John Benjamin of Stratford in 1792. This bridge was rebuilt by 
the Government in 1900. 

One of the most beautiful bridges in Bridgeport is the Congress 
Street Bridge, which was opened to the public July 16, 1910. The 
value of this bridge is $300,000. In 1916 contracts were awarded for 
the construction of the East Washington and the Grand Street 

The new Stratford Avenue Bridge, now in process of construc- 
tion, one-half of which was opened for traffic in August, 1917, is 
the largest and costliest of the Bridgeport bridges. Fully a half 



million dollars has been expended upon the construction of this 
bridge. The draw is electrioally operated. 

' The value of the various other bridges in the city as recorded by 
the city is as follows: Bridgeport Bridge, $100,000; East Washing- 
ton Avenue Bridge, $25,000; Yellow Mill Bridge, $150,000; Berk- 
shire Bridge, $22,000; Boston Avenue Bridge, $25,000; Uncoway 
Bridge, $5,000; Glenwood or Boston Avenue Bridge, $6,700; North 
Avenue or Rooster River Bridge, $9,000; and the Ash Creek Bridge, 


One of the greatest contributing factors to the successful com- 
merce of the City of Bridgeport is the harbor. From the days of 
Newfield Village, when only vessels of light draft could pass the 
bar and enter the river, until the present day, the harbor has been 
almost in a constant state of improvement. The United States Gk)v- 
ernment has expended huge sums of money in dredging the wide 
and deep channel through the bar, in constructing breakwaters and 
establishing lighthouses. The water front has been changed and 
reconstructed as the growth of commerce and shipping demanded 
and now Bridgeport has one of the most efficient, modern and attrac- 
tive harbors along the New England coast. Some idea of the amount 
of business conducted through Bridgeport harbor may be had by 
noting the shipping statistics in a preceding chapter. 

The first lighthouse in the harbor consisted simply of a lantern 
hung from the end of a mast. This was put up in 1844 by Capt. 
Abraham A. McNeil. Following this Capt. John Brooks, Jr., a 
prominent navigator of the day, hung another lantern on top of a 
boat and anchored the improvised lighthouse near the channel, or 
"ditch," which had been recently cut through the bar. The next step 
was to drive a group of spiles in the mud bottom, lie them together 
at the top, and there place a light. This was the beginning of the 
typical lighthouse, in form if not in adequate service. The first actual 
lighthouse was constructed Ijy the Government in 1851. This was 
succeeded in 1871 by the larger and more modern light, also built 
by the Government. This same year witnessed the beginning of 
extensive harbor improvements, which have been continued dowTi 
until the year 1917, and will so continue. The needs of a harbor, 
if it is to be in proper condition for traffic, are perpetual. 

The construction of the inner breakwater and the dredging of the 
basin north of it added much space to the harbor, thus relieving all 



congestion in the inner harbor. A light was placed at the end of 
the inner breakwater. The land used for the breakwater was donated 
to the Government by Nathaniel Wheeler, George Mallory and P. 
T. Barnuni. Many authorities are unanimous in giving most of the 
credit for the harbor improvements of this period to Harbor Master 
Capt. John McNeil, the son of Capt. Abraham A. McNeil, who 
constructed the first harbor light. Now the river has been thoroughly 
dredged as far as Berkshire Bridge and vessels of deep draft can 
navigate w?ll up the stream. 

Black Rock Harbor was for many years really superior to Bridge- 
port Harbor proper, but in recent years the improvements made upon 
the latter have placed it ahead of the former. Black Rock Harbor 
offers a shorter distance to the waters of the Sound and for that rea- 
son is a favorite resort for pleasure craft of all kinds. 


Prior to the year 1800 all postoffice business of the Village of 
Newfield was transacted at Stratford, of which town Newfield was 
but a part. When Bridgeport became a borough, under the admin- 
istration of ThcMnas Jefferson, a postoffice was established and Amos 
B. Fairman appointed postmaster. Mr. Fairman is believed to have 
been the proprietor of a public tavern on the southwest comer of 
Wall and Water streets, afterwards known as tlie Washington Hotel, 
the business of the postoffice being conducted in the north room of 
the building which was used as a drug store. 

Beivjamin Bostwick shortly afterward became the proprietor of 
this hotel and he and his son, Charles Bostwick, held the office of 
postmaster from 1804 until 1810. Then the mail was brought from 
New York by a four horse stage coach, and arrived between 8 and 
9 o'clock in the evening. The stage came into the village by way 
of State Street, then a post road, and the coming of the mail was 
usually heralded by the sounding of a horn when the outskirts were 
reached. In 1809 Bostwick removed his business and with it the 
postoffice to the comer of Bank and Water streets, there remain- 
ing postmaster until he sold out and then Jesse Sterling was ap- 
pointed. Shortly after this a block of wooden buildings was erected, 
then called the "new block," and here Mr. Sterling removed his busi- 
ness and postoffice, occupying the room about where 70 State Street 
is now located. The postoffice equipment at that time was very 
meager, consisting of an "upright show case about thirty inches long 



by twenty-four inches wide, located at the rear of the store, and upon 
the mantel over the fireplace, arranged behind tapes, were placed 
the letters." The whole village generally collected in the vicinity 
when the mail coach rolled down the main street, so the postmaster 
saved time by announcing in a loud voice the names of the persons 
who were fortunate in receiving letters. During the last years of 
Mr. Sterling's incumbency the postoffice was again moved to the 
front of-his premises on Main Street, about number 318. Rev. Sam- 
uel Orcutt stated in his history of Bridgeport that "An elderly 
citizen has related that while the business was conducted in the store 
on State Street, a single newspaper, the Journal of Commerce, from 
New York, was taken in the place by Isaac Burroughs. On its 
arrival it was considered, by the consent of Mr. Burroughs, public 
property for a short time, and the company gathered were treated 
to the news by some stentorian reader." 

Letter postage at that time was regulated according to distances, 
such as follows: 30 miles and under, 6 cents; over 30 and under 80 
miles, 10 cents; over 80 and under 150 miles, 1214 cents; over 150 
and under 400 miles, 18-54 cents; over 400 miles, 25 cents. 

Since the incumbency of Jesse Sterling, the followed named men 
have held the office of postmaster in the City of Bridgeport: Stephen 
Lounsbury, Jr., 1841; Philo F. Barnum, 1845; George Wade, 1849; 
E. B. Goodsell, 1853; F. W. Smith, Jr.', 1861; George F. Tracy, 
1869; James E. Dunham, 1872; J. W. Knowltpn, 1875; Edwin F. 
Meeker, 1886; J. W. Knowlton, 1889; Aurelius Steward, 1893; 
William H. Marigold, 1899; Charles F. Greene, 1915. 

Under the postmastership of F. W, Smith tlie postoffice was 
located on Bank Street, below Main, a building running through to 
State Street. However, the quarters here soon became inadequalfe 
for the growing business of the office. Through the efforts largely 
of Congressman E. W. Seymour an appropriation of $150,000 was 
made in the spring of 1888, for a Federal building in Bridgeport. 
In Deeember of the same year the site of the old St. John's Church 
at the corner of Broad and Cannon streets was selected and on Feb- 
ruarv 5, 1892, the completed building was thrown open to the pub- 
lic. " 

It is interesting to know that Bridgeport is the fifteenth city 
in the United States in postal bank increases. Her increase amounted 
to $25,230. The order of cities follows: New York, Detroit, Brook- 
lyn, Cleveland, Boston, Newark, Toledo, Los Angeles, Seattle, 



Gary, Ind., Philadelphia, Akron, O., Cincinnati, South Bethle- 
hem, Pa., and Bridgeport. 

The steady and rapid increase in Bridgeport's business shows in 
a vivid manner in comparative postal figures prepared for Bridge- 
port-Progress by Postmpster Charles F. Greene. The figures of 
business by the postoffice in a community furnish a mighty valuable 
and accurate means of judging the condition of that community as a 
whole for the postoffice business draws from all classes and is not 
indicative of any special interest. 

The amount of postal receipts for the year 1917 was on April 80, 
$501,714.45 as compared with the year previous when the receipts 
were $455,889.04. 

The amount on deposit in the Postal Savings Bank shows a phe- 
nomenal increase, having more than doubled in the past year. 

The deposits on May I, 1916, were $865,070 and during the 
twelve months to May 1, 1917, these deposits had increased to $809,- 
788. This shows that Bridgeport's public is not only earning 
money but saving it in spite of the fact that living costs are high. 

The following figures show the rapid and very healthy increase 
in Bridgeport's business : 

Postal receipts year ended April 80, 1917 $ 501,714.45 

Postal receipts year ended April 30, 1916 455,889.04 

Postal receipts year ended April 80, 1915 371,105.08 

Money on deposit in Postal Savings Bank on May 1, 

1917 809,788.00 

Money on deposit in Postal Savings Bank on May 1, 

1916 365,070.00 

Money on deposit in Postal Savings Bank on May 1, 

1915 156,982.00 

Money orders issued June 80, 1916, to June 30, 1917 — 

Domestic issued, 202,652; amount 2,092,081.88 

Fees 14,398.91 

International issued, 16,478; amount 265,391.65 

Fees 8,202.20 

Money orders paid June 80, 1916, to June 80, 1917— 

Domestic paid, 77,080; amount 1,419,226.25 

International paid, 970; amount 22,708.05 

Estimated number of letters dispatched year ended 

March 31, 1916 82,595,000 

Estimated number of letters dispatched year ended 

March 81, 1917 88,115,000 




On November 7, 1918, Lambert Lockwood advertised in the 
Bridgeport newspapers that he "has set apart an assortment of' 
books to the amount of one hmidred or two hundred dollars as a 
circulating library, consisting of divinity, history, voyages and 
travels of the most interesting; novels, tales and romances of the 
latest and most celebrated, as per catalogue to be seen at my store, 
where a subscription is opened for persons wishing to subscribe for 
six or twelve months. The library will be constantly increasing (if 
encouraged), and particular attention paid to add new publications." 
This was probably the first circulating library in Bridgeport. 

However, at the seventh annual banquet of the Bridgeport Board 
of Trade, held at the Atlantic Hotel, Tuesday evening, February 
28, 1882, John D. Candee, editor «f the Standard, spoke of the 
library as follows; "Deeming the final establishment of our free 
public library as among the most important events in the history of 
Bridgeport during the past year, I cheerfully speak of it. The first 
public library was started in Bridgeport sixty-two years ago by Mr. 
S. M. Middlebrook, then a boy about eleven years old, who in 1820, 
by publishing several anonymous communications in the Farmer, 
caused the calling of a public meeting and the formation of a small 
library which was kept open for many years. Then there were for- 
merly three secret societies in Yale College, each having a fine 
librarj-. One of these was composed of southern students, who so 
mismanaged their funds that their library was at last sold to pay its 
debts, and the citizens of Bridgeport, by liberal subscription bought 
it for a public library. For more than twenty years this librarj' 
struggled along with inadequate funds for its support and improve- 
ment, till, not long ago, it was compelled to close its doors. The 
Legislature having recently passed a law permitting the establish- 
ment of free public libraries, to be supported by a tax upon the poll 
list, Mr. Clarence Sterling, of this city, interested himself in obtain- 
ing the benefit of this enactment for Bridgeport, and by circulating 
petitions to the common council, be, more than anyone else, caused 
the movement which has resulted in giving us our present noble free 
library and reading room. About 1,500 new books have been added 
to the library, which brings it up to nearly 12,000 volumes, of which 
an average of about 850 are drawn daily. The spacious reading 
room, which is supplied with about $550 worth of papers, magazines 
and periodicals of special nature, receives about 500 visitors a day. 




: NEW Yorr 



Those who draw books are from every class in the community, old 
and young, and we deem it to be very useful, especially to the poor. 
Although it has been open only about two months, yet it has already 
taken so strong a hold upon the community that we can believe it 
will be liberally supported as long as the city exists." At that time 
the officers of the library were : David B. Lockwood, John D. Can- 
dee, Patrick Coughlin, William B. Hincks, William J. Hills, Charles 
Sherwood, Gustave Ohnesorg, directors; William D. Bishop, presi- 
dent; John D. Candee, vice president; Charles Sherwood, secretary; 
William B. Hincks, treasurer; Mrs. Agnes Hills, librarian. The 
present officers are: Henry A. Bishop, president; Jerome Orcutt, 
vice president; William T. Haviland, secretary and treasurer; Cal- 
houn Latham, superintendent and librarian; Jerome Orcutt, Henry 
A. Bishop, Charles H. Armstrong, Wildo C. Bryant, William T. 
Haviland, Alfred B. Beers, William E. Burnham, Jacob B. Klein 
and J. Monson Tomlinson, library board. In the 1916 report of 
the library a total of 69,227 books are catalogued; there are about 
9,000 active members of the library. 

In January, 1888, by the demise of Mrs. Catherine A. Pettin- 
gill, the library trustees came into possession of the Burroughs 
Building on the southwest corner of Main and John streets. Mrs. 
Pettingill provided in her will for the use of this building as a library 
to be known as the Burroughs Public Library Building. After cer- 
tain repairs were made upon the building and arrangements made 
for the proper housing of the library the building was opened to the 
public June 11, 1888. In 1901 extensive additions were made to 
the Ubrary building, the improvements being made to the extension 
along John Street. 


Isaac Sherman estimated in 1860 that there were 110 persons 
residing in the territory embraced within the city in 1790; in 1800, 
2.70 people; in 1810, 550; and in 1820, 840 persons. The first census 
taken of Bridgeport separate from Stratford was in 1810, Jere- 
miah W. Beardsley being the enumerator. He found that there were 
94 heads of families in the borough, and the total population, in- 
cluding a negro slave in the family of Lieut. Salmon Hubbell, to 
be 572. In 1840 Henry Edwards compiled the census list and found 
4,570 people in the city. In 1850 William R. Bunnell reported 7,538 
inhabitants. The number of colored persons was 286 and of for- 



eigDers, 1,498, including 1,102 born in Ireland, 188 in England, 138 
in Germany, and 65 in various other countries. By 1860 G^rge W. 
Lewis found the population to be 13,299 and in 1870 there were 
19,876 people residing in the city. By 1880 the population had in- 
creased to 29,153 and by 1886 to 89,000. From then until 1917 the 
figures are: 1890, 43,866; 1900, 70,996; 1910, 102,000; 1915, 115.- 
000; 1916, 160,000; and 1917, 173,000, the latter estimate compiled 
from the military census. 

In this .connection the statistics of Bridgeport's male alien pop- 
ulation in 1917 prove in an interesting manner the character of the 
foreign population. 

Austrians 1,144 

Americans 453 

Arabians 25 

Africans 3 

Albanians 62 

Australians 5 

Belgians 24 

Bohemians 73 

Bulgarians 17 

Brazilians 3 

Canadians 409 

Chinese 110 

Cubans 16 

Danes , 146 

Egyptians 2 

English 1,216 

East Indians I 

French 219 

Finns 57 

Germans 884 

Greeks 1,670 

Hungarians 4,227 

Hollanders 50 

Italians 6,452 

Irish 1,008 

Japanese 1 

Lithuanians 401 

Mexicans 6 

Macedonians 9 

Norwegians 82 

Polish 1,739 

Portuguese 408 

Persians 1 

Russians 5,062 

Roumanians 250 

Swedish 792 

Slovaks 1,589 

Serbs 181 

Scotch 324 

Swiss 40 

Syrians 136 

Spaniards 460 

Turks 58 

Welsh 10 

West Indians 3 

Bridgeport's population comprises people from at least forty- 
five nations. The rapid growth of manufacturing has been the im- 
portant factor in the unprecedented growth in population. The 
extensive manufactories, with their many opportunities and high pay, 
has brought men by the thousands into the city. 




A history of Bridgeport would not be complete without some 
mention of the large fires which occurred here in the early days, 
some of them sweeping the entire business district, destroying the 
blocks of frame stores. 

The Republican Farmer, printed in the borough by Stiles Nich- 
ols & Son, contained the following accoimt of a fire, in its issue of 
February 8, 1815 r 

"Fire — on Sunday morning last, about 10 o'clock, the new block 
of buildings in this borough was discovered to be on fire. Its prog- 
ress seemed to threaten for a considerable time the destruction of the 
whole block together with all the buildings near it, but the spirited 
exertions of the inhabitants, favored by a full tide, the calmness of 
the morning and the engine extinguished it. The cause of the fire, 
it is said, was the putting of ashes into a wooden dish the preceding 
evening and leaving them in the shop of Messrs. Kirtland & Wordin, 
merchant tailors, who were the principal suflferers — estimated about 
two thousand dollars. During the rage of the fire an explosion took 
place by a small quantity of powder taking fire which burnt a few 
people near it, but we are happy to say without material injury. 
Some considerable damage was done in the apothecary store of 
Thomas C. Wordin. 

"We hope this will prove a caution against the like proceedings 
both in this and other places. To take up ashes in a wooden vessel 
is too common for each individual's safety. Let those who May doubt 
it try the following experiment. Take two or three bushels of cold 
ashes, put them in a large wooden box, rake them open and put in 
a peck of hot walnut ashes and embers and the probability is that 
the whole will burn over again especially if often repeated." 

The block burned was the wooden block on the north side of State 
Street at the corner of Main. 

In March, 1828, a fire broke out in a cooper shop occupied by 
Ashbel Olmstead, which was consxmied with its contents, together 
with six stores and dwellings on Bank and States streets, entailing a 
loss of about six thousand dollars. 

On the night of November 21, 1838, Bridgeport was again visited 
by a large fire. It originated in the cabinet maker's shop of Par- 
rott & Hubbell on Main Street, south of Wail Street, and before the 
flames could be controlled the cabinet shop, a store and eight dwell- 
ings were destroyed, at a loss of $12,000, on which there was about 



two thousand five hundred dollars insurance. Mr. Franklin Sher- 
wood writes of this fire : "The loss appears small when we consider 
the number of buildings destroyed, but labor and materials were 
cheap and the buildings, although substantial, were plain and devoid 
of expensive ornamentation. Between Main and Middle streets on 
the north side there were but two dwellings, and on the south side 
the same number. The store destroyed was probably in one of these. 
On the southeast comer of Main and Wall streets was the house of 
widow Miriam Hubbell, and just south of it but north of the foot 
of John Street was another dwelling house. On the west side of 
Main Street, from the head of Wall Street to John Street, were, 
three dwelling houses, two of which were double houses. It is prob- 
able that these, with those on the south side of Wall Street, were 
the ones destroyed. If the fire department saved any building it 
was probably that of Isaac Burroughs, which stood on the site of 
the Burroughs Free Library Building." 

On Thursday morning, December 12, 1845, Bridgeport experi- 
enced a fire, which, in extent of territory burned and comparative 
loss, has never been equaled during the life of the city. The burned 
district included the whole major portion of the business district. 
Forty-nine buildings were ravaged by the flames and fully forty 
families made homeless and, many of them, penniless. The property 
loss was estimated at $150,000, with $80,000 insurance. 

In the square bounded by Main, Bank, Water and State streets 
there were sixteen wooden buildings, three of them fronting on Bank 
Street, four on Water and nine on State Street. On the south cor- 
ner of Bank and Water streets Legrand and Lorenzo B. Sterling 
occupied a store owned by Sylvanus Sterling, where they carried on 
a stove and house furnishing business. The upper part of the struc- 
ture was used as a home by two families. Adjoining the Sterlings 
on Water Street was the grocery store of O. & W. Sherman, and 
the next south was the grocery of George A. Wells, and at the cor- 
ner of State, Henry Hall also kept a grocery store. Immediately 
in the rear of the stores of the Sterlings and Shermans was a large 
building -occupied by George A. Wells as a boarding house, with an 
oyster saloon on the ground floor. 

About 1.30 on the morning of December 12th this last mentioned 
building was discovered to be on fire. The weather was very cold 
and a wind was blowing from the north and northwest. The fire 
had gained rapid headway and the families living therein had very 
little time to make their escape, one of Wells' little daughters being 



rescued by a neighbor at great risk. The alarm was raised immedi- 
ately and soon the whole population was dressed and on the scene. 
Fire apparatus was brought from the corner of Water and Gilbert, 
from Court Street and from Main Street near High. Everyone 
helped with the engines, but unfortunately the only supply of water 
available was the harbor. Here the tide was low and the suction hose 
would not reach to the water surface. Consequently, the people had 
to direct their energies to saving goods and household effects and 
permit the fire to bum unchecked until the tide came in. 

The Sterling store soon caught fire, also the one at the west on 
Bank Street, occupied by Alexander Gordon and others as a dwell- 
ing. On the north side of Bank west of the building on the comer 
of Water were two stores owned by Charles B. Hubbell. The only 
building on that side of the street between these two stores and Main 
Street was the Hubbell residence. The inter\'ening space protected 
this building. 

The west store on the north side of Bank Street was occupied 
by Philip Conrad as a meat market and dwelling, and the next store 
east was used as the carpet room by the firm of Hubbell & Thomp- 
son, whose main store was on Water Street, the third north from 
the comer of Bank. The corner store on Bank and Water was taken 
by Olmstead & Keeler as a dry goods store and the adjoining One by 
Lockwood & Zane as a hardware an^ stove store. From these stores 
the firemen and citizens worked energetically to remove the stock 
before it was reached by the blaze. 

The west store on the south side of Bank Street was the cabinet 
shop of F. Lockwood. This building extended toward State Street, 
where there was a row of eight small buildings. The fire quickly 
spread to these, the west one of which was occupied by Samuel Hodge 
as a stove store and adjoined the dooryard of the residence of Wil- 
liam Feet, father-in-law of Mayor Harral. Extra efforts were cen- 
tered on this building, as it was considered the pivot of the fire. This 
one caught, there was no way to prevent the fire reaching Main 
Street. The east side of it and the roof were covered with carpets, 
which were kept wet by water thrown from buckets. The effort was 
made successful and the fire prevented from reaching Main. 

Adjoining Henry Hall's grocery west on State- was the oyster 
saloon owned by William A. Whiting, and the next five were owned 
by Benjamin Wheeler, aU having shops on the lower floor and dwell- 
ings on the upper. The building between these and the Lockwood 
show room was occupied by George G. Wheeler's grocery and billiard 



room. On the west side of Water Street next north of the dry goods 
store of Hubbell & Thompson was the clothing store of G. Forbes 
and adjoining this the drug store of Joseph Thompson. Rodney 
Curtis had the next one as a shoe store, and then came the grocery 
of John H. Whiting. Between this and the brick store of the Hatches 
was the shoe store of Schuyler Seeley. This building being of small 
value was torn down by the firemen to prevent the fire from going 
farther north. 

On the south side of State Street at the comer of Water Street 
was the grocery of Edmund Thompson. In the building next west 
was stored 500 bushels of grain owned by Ryan & Thorpe of Wes- 
ton, the upper part used as a dwelling. Next came a tailor shop, 
then two dwellings, then a "rookery" owned by Benjamin Wheeler 
and tenanted by colored families. On the west side of Water Street 
below State were two dwellings standing several feet above the high- 
way, which were reached from Water Street by steps and had a rear 
entrance from State by an alley. The north one was occupied by a 
man named Palmer as a boarding house and the other was the tem- 
perance hotel kept by A. A. McNeil. Here the fire stopped as 
there was nothing more to burn within reach. 

The heaviest loss of the fire occurred on the east side of Water 
Street, where fifteen buildings were consumed. These buildings ex- 
tended from midway between Bank and Wall streets to midway 
between State and Union streets. They were all wooden buildings 
standing on the water front, most of them being erected on pUes. 
The northerly store was occupied by Lockwood & Zane as a stove 
depot, and the adjoining one south by Sherwood Sterling as an iron 
and cordage store. The next was the hide and leather store of Morris 
& Marvin, and then came the wholesale grocery store of Niles, 
Thorp & Company. This store stood at the foot of Bank Street. 
Edwards & Whiting occupied the next store as a fish market. South 
of this was the wholesale grocery of Charles DeForest, the upper 
part of which was a stove depot owned by L. and L. B. Sterling. 
The next was the flour and fish store of Henry Burroughs, adjoin- 
ing which was the wholesale grocery of Morford, Northrop & Com- 
pany. The south side of this building stood on a line with the north 
.side of State Street. Mathew Curtis' paint store was at the foot 
of State Street, on the north half of the old "public slip," and the 
next was occupied by T. Ransom &t Company with a wholesale 
grocery. Hall & Burroughs held the next south, also in the whole- 



sale grocery business. The remaining buildings were used for stor- 
age purposes. 

The brig Gorham, which was lying at one of the piers, was con- 
stantly in danger, but was fortunately saved by the exertions of the 
firemen and sailors together. In the store the larger part of the 
goods was removed in time, but some of it which was stored on the 
wharves was destroyed by the fire. The flames raged until about 
4 o'clock in the morning before they were checked. The firemen 
experienced great difficulty in combating the fire, due in no small 
part to the bitter cold which caused the water to freeze in the hose, 
once the tide rose enough to be of service. 

A meeting of the citizens on Saturday evening, December 13th, 
was held and a committee consisting of Alexander Hamilton, Edwin 
Porter, Isaac M. Conklin, Daniel Thatcher, V. D. Ellsworth, Ira B. 
Wheeler, Joseph Cook and Eliakim Hough was appointed to investi- 
gate the condition of the poor who suffered from the fire. The ladies 
of Bridgeport also held a meeting in the afternoon of the same day 
and the Bridgeport Brass Baijd gave a concert at the city hall on 
the evening of the 17th. About fifty dollars was raised at the con- 
cert for the relief of the destitute. 

Previous to the fire the principal retail trade had been carried 
on in Water Street. Main Street, between Wall and State, had com- 
menced to gain as a business center, hut could not be compared to 
Water and State streets. The fire of 1833 which had removed old 
landmarks in the vicinity of Wall and Main had opened the path for 
new and better stores, which James Robinson, Daniel Sterling and 
others erected. However, they drew very little trade from the 
"shore" at Water Street. The fire of 1845, however, changed mat- 
ters entirely. All the Water Street merchants, particularly in dry 
goods, were compelled to remove to Main Street, with the result 
that they never returned to their old haunts along the water front. 
Since then Main Street has been the leading retail district. 

An interesting intimate account of the fire of 1845 is given by 
George A. Sanford, who was then an apprentice with Jacob Mott, 
carriage maker. The Standard's History of Bridgeport (1897) 
has the following in regard to Sanford's account: 

"He occupied a room in the rear of the house, from which he 
could plainly see the oyster saloon on Bank Street, kept by George 
A. Wells, in which the fire started. Mr. Sanford states that his 
landlady, Mrs. Middlebrook, called to him about one o'clock on the 
night of December 12th, saying: 'George Wells is all afire.' 



"Mr. Sanford dressed immediately and was one of the first to reach 
the fire. It had started in a lot of shavings in the cellar, kept to 
use in roasting oysters, and it quickly burst through the floor and 
enveloped the structm-e. 'Then,' says Mr. Sanford, 'everyone 
thought the fire must run into Main Street. I went back to the 
house, packed my things and then went across the street to the Ster- 
ling House stables, and had my horse harnessed ready to move if the 
fire spread into Main Street. Many others were making similar 

" 'I went back to the fire and worked a spell on an engine as 
volunteer. William Hall came to me and asked me to open his 
grocery store, near Thomas Hawley & Co.'s store, and to give to all 
crackers and cheese and cigars. He could not do this as he belonged 
to one of the engine companies. I did so and there were a large 
number of boilers of coffee brought in by the ladies. One or two 
other stores were opened in like manner. There were three or four 
hand engines in town, but all the buildings were of wood so that the 
fire spread rapidly. The tide was out^and the pipes from the engines 
kept filling with mud as they took water from the river. The fire 
ran into Water Street and soon spread on both sides of the street. 
It was finally stopped from going north on the west side by pulling 
down a small wooden building just below Thomas Hawley & Co.'s- 
It ran down both sides of Water Street below State, burning what 
was called "the Old Flat Iron," corner of Water and State streets, 
that had been an eyesore to Bridgeport people for a long time. It 
was owned by a man named Wheeler and how the boys did cheer 
when they saw it in flames. It was thought at one time that the 
whole business part of the city was doomed, but the fire was gotten 
under control finally. A West India brig had come in a few days 
before, loaded with salt and molasses and had unloaded at the stores 
on the dock. They were all burned and the molasses ran into the 
street and all over the dock where the brig was lying, and she took 
fire several times, it being low tide, before she could be floated across 
the river.' " 


Near midnight of June 7, 1877, occurred the most destructive and 
sanguinary fire ever experienced in the City of Bridgeport. On this 
night the Glover Sanford & Sons hat factory was consumed hy 
flames, causing a property loss of $250,000 and the death of eleven 



The factory was located on the south side of Crescent Avenue, 
about two hundred feet from Pembroke Lake. The factory was 
built originally by the Williams Silk Company in 1864. The San- 
fords, C. H., H. B. and E. G., took over the plant in 1869 for the 
manufacture of hats and immediately began extensive improvements. 
The main building was of four stories, while about three other struc- 
tures had been added. Two hundred and fifty men were employed. 

Shortly after 11 o'clock on the night of June 7, 1877, the night- 
watchman, N. B. Burfee, had just completed his customary round 
of the main building and had retired to the office to read. The night- 
watch at the U. M. C. factory across the street, nwned Beibel, noticed 
a blaze in the third story of the Sanford plant and immediately hur- 
ried over to find Durfee and give the alarm. Two policemen saw 
the blaze about the same time and also rushed to the alarm box. 
Three engine companies, Nos. 1, 2 and 5, responded to the call, but 
upon arriving at the scene discovered a serious lack of water. The 
hydrants were useless. One company lowered a suction-basket in 
the pond at the rear and another drew water from the lake. In this 
way, after a delay of many minutes, several streams were brought 
to bear upon the fire, although the flames had by this time gained 
sufficient headway to make the firemen's efforts futile. In short, 
everything was consumed. The U. M. C. was in constant danger 
and only by the use of their own steam pump and the flooding of the 
roofs with water was the plant saved from ignition. 

The death of the eleven men occurred in the office room at the 
side of the main building. This was a separate small structure. 
Here fifteen or twenty men had gone to remove the safe and its con- 
tents. While engaged in this work the crowd on the outside saw 
that the end wall of the main building was about to fall toward the 
office and cried out a warning to the men inside. A concerted rush 
was made for the exit, but eleven were too late. The wall crashed 
down, demolishing the office completely and leaving nothing but a 
steaming pile of bricks and debris. For a time there were believed 
to have been no casualties, but when the fact became known that some 
of the men had not escaped, workers began digging into the ruins 
which were cooled by streams of water. After four blackened and 
mutilated bodies had been recovered the work began in earnest and 
by 9 o'clock the next morning eleven victims had been found. Those 
who were killed here follow: 

Oscar J. Acker, aged forty-five, with wife and two daughters. 
George W. Acker, aged nineteen, son of the above. 



Edward O'Toole, aged thirty-five, wife and two children. 
Hugh Smith, aged twenty-eight, wife and two children. 
John Gallagher, aged thirty-two, wife and three children. 
John Mallony, aged twenty-eight, of New Britain. 
Charles F. Dart, aged thirty-three, wife and four children. 
James Coyne, aged nineteen. 
George Mclntyre, aged twenty-one, wife. 
John Killenbeck, aged twenty-five, wife. 
J. H. Tomlinson, aged twenty-one. 

The tragedy assmned double proportions when it became known 
that almost all of the men killed had families. Their bodies were 
found in various stages of mutilation, although only one, that of 
Gallagher, was burned to any extent. The remainder had been 
crushed by the falling wall. As mentioned before, the Sanford 
Company suffered a property loss of $250,000, of which about one 
hundred thousand dollars' worth was covered by insurance. The 
plant was rebuilt during the same year. 


Although temperance work has never been highly successful in 
Bridgeport it has been constant since the early days. In January, 
1840, the city authorities held a meeting "for the purpose of grant- 
ing liberty to any person to sell wines and spirituous liquors within 
said town, under such regulations as the town may adopt." This 
was the first mention of temperance legislation on the town records. 
Any person who secured the proper license was allowed to sell intox- 
icating liquors. 

However, on January 81, 1842, at a special meeting a motion 
was made and carried "that the town grant no license for the sale 
of spirtuous liquors or wines for the ensuing year." This was the 
direct result of the strong temperance movement in Bridgeport at 
that time. The "wet" interests were very much in the minority. For 
the next three years nothing more of official character was done in 
regard to the question, but it is known that, notwithstanding the 
law, liquor was sold in the town openly. 

At the beginning of the year 1846 the following were licensed to 
sell liquors: "Monson Hinman and Eliud Fairchild, as innkeepers 
or tavemers; Daniel H. Sterling & Company, Munson Hawley, Hall 
& Burroughs, Holcomb & Chatfield, and Peter M. Thorp, as whole- 



salers; Thomas Lord, Henry Blakeman, Nathaniel S. Wordin, Jos- 
eph Thompson and William J. Shelton, as druggists." Hinman 
and Fairchild were proprietors of public taverns. The retail grocers 
were not, according to the records, granted licenses, but it is an estab- 
lished fact that the grocery store of that time without a bar attached 
would soon have suffered bankruptcy. 

At a special town meeting held August 5, 1854, called in the 
city court room, corner of Main and Wall streets, "for the purpose 
of directing the selectmen in regard to the amount of moneys they 
shall appropriate from the treasury of the town for the purchase of 
spirituous liquirs to be sold by the agents appointed by the select- 
men to sell such spirituous liquors agreeable to an act for the sup- 
pression of intemperance passed by the last Legislature of the state," 
Noah Plumb was chosen moderator. Bridgeport was not that time 
a prohibition town, although the proposition that the town enter the 
liquor business through its agents and thus derive the profits did not 
meet the approval of the meeting. The record further states: 

"After reading the warning, motion was made to adjourn to the 
new courthouse, which motion was amended to adjourn without date, 
^mid much confusion the chairman attempted to take the vote on 
the original motion, and declared the meeting adjourned without call- 
ing the noes. This proving unsatisfactory to the meeting the chair- 
man came back to tHe chair and called for the noes, and then called 
for the vote on the amendment, and without deciding the vote de- 
clared the meeting adjourned to the new courthouse to determine the 
question on the amendment. The question on the amendment was 
then negatived. And at the new courthouse, without further pro- 
ceedings, the following resolutions were passed: 

"Hesolved, That the selectmen of this town be directed not to 
appropriate any funds from the treasury of the town for the pur- 
chase of spirituous liquors under the provisions of an act passed by 
the last General Assembly of this state, entitled an act for the sup- 
pression of intemperance. 

"Resolved, That said selectmen are hereby instructed to with- 
draw all monies appropriated by them to the town agents for the 
purchase of liquors under the provisions of said act, and return the 
same to the treasury of the town forthwith." 

Notwithstanding the stringent character of this law, it became 
a dead issue in a very short time. Public opinion was decidedly 
against the enforcement of such a ruling. Liquor was. at first sold 
secretly, but soon clubs were formed, where liquors were purchased 



in quantity and the members helped themselves at retaU, depositing 
the price with the club treasurer as "dues." Soon this subterfuge 
became unnecessary, and again liquor became a free agent, and has 
continued so until the present time. A prophecy as to whether or 
not Bridgeport will ever be placed in the list of prohibition cities 
would be idle, but in view of the growing tendency over the United 
States to cast out the harmful effects of liquor, Bridgeport may in 
future years follow the example of the large cities on the Pacific 

The prohibition, or temperance societies, in Bridgeport now are : 
Living Spring Division, No. 52 S. of T.; L. T. No. 11, Bemadotte, 
T. of T.; North Star International Order of Good Templars; St. 
Joseph's T. B. and L. Association; St. Patrick's Yoimg Men's T. 
A. and B. Society; and the Women's Christian Temperance Union. 

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The Stratfield Baptist Church was first established in 1751 tinder 
the leadership of Capt. John Sherwood. It was the outcome of the 
"new light" moyement of 1740-1. Rev. Samuel Cooke of the Strat- 
field parish was an advocate of the new thought at that time, al- 
though several of his charge did not agree with him and withdrew 
from the church. The second pastor. Rev. Lyman Hall, discarded 
the new light belief. This led to two distinct factions in the church. 
Rev. Joshua Moss, a convert of Whitefield, and John Sherwood were 
the moving forces in forming the society at the latter's home in 
October, 1751. After the services the following were baptized by 
Elder Moss and the Lord's Supper was administered: Zechariali 
Mead, Nathaniel Seeley, Elihu Marsh, John Sherwood, Ebenezer 
Sanford and Samuel Beardsley. This constituted the organization 
of the churdi. Captain Sherwood was the first resident pastor of 
this organization. This church was located about three miles north- 
west of the present Bridgeport center. Two meeting houses were 
maintained, known as the Stratfield and the North. 

In 1830 the St. John's Episcopal Society offered their church 
on the comer of State and Broad streets for sale. Rev. James H. 
Linsley was then pastor of the Stratfield Baptist Church and he col- 
lected sufficient funds to purchase the property. The sum of $3,6o0 
was paid. 

The first Baptist society was organized July 24, 1837, and was 
composed of six members, namely: Benjamin Wakeman, Raymond 
Whitney, Roswell Whitney, Bennett Whitney and two others not 
known. The church was constituted September 20, 1837, with thirty- 
nine members, eleven of whom were males and twenty-eight females. 
Rev. Joseph Eaton was the first regular pastor in 1838 and under 
him the membership increased to 136. Succeeding him the follow- 



ing have served as pastors of the First Baptist Church : Revs. Daniel . 
Harwington, William Smith, William Reid, J. L. Hodge, A. Mc- 
Gregor Hopper, M. H. Pogson, W. V. Gamer, C. C. Luther, G. 
W. Nicholson, and John Richard Brown. 

Under Rev. J. L. Hodge a new church was constructed. In 
1892 this structure was sold and a new location purchased at the 
comer of Washington and West avenues, where a stone church was 
erected and dedicated October 28, 1894. Rev. Dr. Samuel F. Smith, 
author of "America" participated in the ceremony. This church 
was incorporated in 1908. 

The Second Baptist Church, located at the comer of Kossuth 
and Arctic streets, was organized in 1874, and incorporated in 1909. 
In the '50s a Second Church had been formed from the original 
church and much ill feeling caused. Rev. A. McGregor Hopper 
came to the pastorate in 1861 and succeeded in reuniting the churches. 
In 1874, however, an organization was effected by forty-seven mem- 
bers from the First Church. Rev. C. W. Ray was the first pastor 
and he has been followed by Revs. W. M. Ingersoll, H. W. Pink- 
ham, George D. Reid, Elmer E. Loux, F. V. Atkinson and C. Frank 

The Immanuel Baptist Church was organized in 1888. The pas- 
tors since J889 have been L. O. Brooks, W. F. Bronson, Charles L. 
Chamberlain, C. F. W. Ahrens and A. C. Thompson. The Mes- 
siah Baptist Church was also organized in the year 1888 and is located 
on Arch Street. The pastor of this society now is Rev. William N. 
Norton.^ The First Swedish Baptist Church, with a building at the 
corner of Seeley and Lewis streets, was organized in the year 1882. 
Among the pastors of this society have been Revs. T. Clafford, The- 
odore Grandin, J. O. Hammarberg and Herman Litorin. The 
Swedish Baptist Bethel Church, 291 Bunnell Street, was organized 
in January, 1907. The pastors have been Revs. J. O. Hammarberg, 
^Vilhelm Kohler and David Anderson. Other Baptist churches of 
Bridgeport are: the Memorial Baptist Church, of which Revs. 
George C. Sauer, Alfred H. Boutwell, Walter T. Aiken and H. 
Douglas Pierce have been pastors ; the Calvarj' Baptist Church, Rev. 
William B. Oakley ; the German Baptist Church, among whose pas- 
tors have been Revs. C. A. Gruhn, C. Schenck, William Ritzmann, 
George Knobloch and J. A. Baier; the Swedish Baptist Chapel at 
690 Brewster and the Italian Baptist Mission, corner of Burroughs 
and Kossuth streets. 

The name of Baptists was first given in 1644 to certain congre- 



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gations of English Separatists, who had just restored the practice 
of immersion. Many of the early colonists of America held Baptist 
views. The first church was established at Providence, K. I., in 
March, 1639, by Roger Williams, a former minister of the Church 
of England, but a Puritan. 


Congregationalism designates "a system of church organization 
or government, democratic in form, and rightly claimed by a great 
family of religious bodies, of which that popularly called Congrega- 
tional is only one." This includes the polity of the Baptists, River 
and Plymouth Brethren, Christians, Disciples of Christ, Unitarians, 
Hebrew Synagogues, Adventists and American Lutherans. The 
term has other applications covering a wide area. Congregational- 
ism, as we now know it, has its origin in discussions subsequent to 
the English Reformation. The earliest advocates formed the radi- 
cal side of the English Puritan Protestants. It is said that notwith- 
standing the fact that a church Congregational in organization ex- 
isted in London in 1567, Corigregationalism itself was first in the 
writings of Robert Browne,, (tfCaJobrixJge- He organized a Congre- 
gational Church in Norwich in 1580-1. He was compelled to seek 
safety in Holland, whence he issued tracts advising a separation from 
the Church of England. This gave the name of Separatists to the 
early members of this denomination. In 1587 preaching was con- 
ducted by Henry Barrowe, an attorney of London, and John Green- 
wood, another Cambridge man. They had gathered a large follow- 
ing by their eloquence and consequently came under the eye of the 
Government. The organization of a Congregational Church in Lon- 
don in 1592 was closely followed by the hanging of Barrowe, Green- 
wood and John Penry. Most of the members were exiled to 
Amsterdam, Holland, where they were led by Francis Johnson and 
Henry AJnsworth. At Scrooby and Giainesborough in England 
other churches modeled after the Congregational were founded; hot'/ 
eventually sought refuge in Holland. The former church with Pas- 
tor Robinson and Elder Brewster went to Leyden in 1609, thence a 
.small part emigrated to New England in 1620, founding Plymouth 
in December of that year. Here they lived and struggled under 
Brewster, William Bradford, Edward Winslow and Miles Stand- 
ish. More came in 1628, having been driven out of England by 
Charles I. They united with the former party in 1629 and after- 



ward Massachusetts became very strongly Congregational. By 1643 
there were 58 churches; in 1816 there were 1,020 churches and about 
100,000 members. In 1903 there were 5,981 churches and 700.000 

The present United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, at 
the comer of Gilbert and Broad streets, is the result of the union 
of the First Church and the Second, or South, Church, in the year 
1916. The First Church was organized in 1695 and the Second 
Church in 1880. 

The early history of the First Congregational Church which was 
originally the Stratfield Church, has been given in a previous chap- 
ter, as the connection of church and state was' very close. The pas- 
tors who served at Stratfield were Revs. Samuel Cooke, Lyman Hjill, 
Robert Ross and Elijah Waterman; it was during the latter's pas- 
torate that the change to Bridgeport Borough was made. On June 
11, 1804, the Stratford Society voted to hold their meetings half of 
the time in Bridgeport. Again, on June 20, 1808, in the new meet- 
ing house at Bridgeport, it was voted to hold public worship there 
two-thirds of the time and during the same year the change was made 
complete. A list of the pew-holders on the old church at this time 
gives the following: Josiah Lacey, John P. Austin, William De- 
Forest, Lambert Lockwood, Lewis Sturges, Silas Sherman, Ezra 
Gregory, Thomas Woodward, Simon Backus, Benjamin Wheeler, 
Stephpn Burroughs, Jr., Wilson Hawley, Samuel Hawley, Jr. 
Elijah Burr, Stephen Hull, Abijah Morehouse, William Benedict, 
Mary Sherman, Salmon Hubbell, Robert Southward, David Ster- 
ling, Thomas Gouge, Jesse Seeley, Henry May, Abijah Sherman, 
Samuel Wordin, Levi Silliman, Barzillai Benjamin, Anson Beards- 
ley, Samuel Burr. 

The pastors of the First Church after Waterman until the time 
of the union in 1916 were: Revs. Franklin Y. Vial, John Blatchford, 
Jotm Woodbridge, John H. Hunter, Benjamin St. John Page, 
Joseph H. Towne, Matson Mier Smith, George Richards, Charles 
Ray Palmer, John DePeu, and Herbert D. Gallaudet. 

As stated before, the first church building was constructed in 
Bridgeport during the pastorate of Rev. Elijah Waterman, 1804-25. 
During the incumbency of Reverend Page the second church edifice 
was erected and dedicated April 11, 1850. 

The pew-holders in the First Church in the year 1835 were: 
Daniel Thatcher, Alanson Hamlin, Alexander Hubbell, Daniel 
Sterling, Hanford Lyon, Thomas C. Wordin, Samuel Niles, 



: !:ev^ YORK 



Charles B. Hubbdl, James E. Beach, Sylvanus Sterling, David 
Sterhng, Joel Thorp, Philo C. Wheeler, John M. Thompson, Dan- 
iel Fayerweather, Charles Hawley, Gideon Thompson, Benjamin 
Wheeler, Isaac Sherman, Nathaniel Wade, Legrand Sterling, Levi 
Wordin, Alanson Caswell, Coley E. Betts, James Betts, Daniel 
Curtis, Henry N. French, Gurdon Hawley, Abijah Beardsley, 
Wyllys Stilhnan, Alexander Black, Nathaniel Humiston, Cyrus 
Botsford, Titus C. Mather, Joseph Mott, Isaac M. Conklin, Capt. 
E. Wicks, David Wheeler, David V. Seeley, Joseph Knapp, George 
Wade, Ezra Gregory, Joseph P. Sturges, Nichols Beardsley, Lem- 
uel Coleman, William K. Bunnell, Thomas Bartram, Ira Peck, Jos- 
eph C. Lewis, David Hubbell, III, Anson Hawly, David Sherwood, 
Robert Milne, Wheeler French, Jr., Judson Bray, Sturges and 
Smith, Isaac E. Beach, Stephen Nichols, George Kippen, Samuel 
Porter, Elijah C. Spinning, Samuel Wordin, Louisa Bartlett and 
Eleazer Edgerton. 

The bi-centennial anniversary of the church was celebrated on 
June 12 and 18, 1895, during the pastorate of Rev. C. R. Palmer. 
Aside from the historical address of the minister the feature of the 
celebration was the roll call of the original members, answered in 
every instance by some descendant or representative. 

The Second Congregational Church, or South Church, was or- 
ganized January 28, 1830, "by 117 persons — thirty-nine men and 
seventy-eight women — who bad been dismissed for the purpose 
from the Strafield (First Congregational) Church of this city; 
they being recognized as such the same day by a council of min- 
isters convened to assist in its organization; and after entering into 
diurch covenant, William DeForest, Stephen Hawley and Josiah 
B. Baldwin were chosen deacons. Religious services were tempo- 
rarily held in the high school house on State Street, while measures 
were at once taken for the erection of a house of worship. A lot on 
the corner of Broad and Gilbert streets was purchased and its first 
edifice, built of wood, was erected that year. The house was soon 
completed and on November 80, 1830, it was dedicated to the wor- 
ship of God, at which time the church numbered 128 members. At 
a meetmg of the church held August 28, 1880, the Rev. Nathaniel 
Hewit, D. D., was unanimously invited to become its pastor, which 
call was accepted and he was installed December 1, 1880, Doctor 
Woods of Andover preaching the sermon." For twenty-three years 
the Reverend Doctor Hewit remained with the society, in 1858 being 



dismissed with Seventy-eight members of the church, to organize a 
Presbyterian society, of which Doctor Hewit became the pastor. 

Following Doctor Hewit as pastor of the South Church came 
Revs. Asahel L. Brooks, Benjamin L. Swan, Alexander R. Thomp- 
son, Francis Lobdell, £. P. Hammond, Daniel Lord, Edwin John- 
son, R. G. S. McNeille, Frank Russell, William H. SaUmon, Henry 
H. Tweedy and Richard L. Swan. In 1860 the old church of this 
society was removed and a new building begun, which was dedicated 
in January, 1862, Reverend Storrs of Brooklyn preaching the dedi- 
catory sermon. 

The Park Street Congregational Church was organized January 
15, 1868, with thirty-nine members, twenty-five of whom were dis- 
missed for the purpose from the North Church. The first pastor was 
Rev. John G. Davenport, ordained July 1, 1868, and following him 
have been: Revs. George S. Thrall, Frederick E. Hopkins, H. C. 
Hovey, Edward Grier Fullerton, and the present pastor, Gerald H. 
Beard, Ph. D. Until the year 1871 the church services were held in 
Bethesda Mission Chapel on East Washington Avenue, but in that 
year the new church was built and dedicated October 17th. In 1885 
extensive improvements were made on the building. 

The Olivet Church, 2102 Main Street, was the outgrowth of a 
Sunday School Mission of the First Church at 114 North Wash- 
ington Avenue, afterwards at Olivet Hall, comer of Grand Street. 
The Olivet Congregational Church was formally organized Novem- 
ber 16, 1870, and had as its first pastor. Rev. DeForest B. Dodge. 
He has been succeeded by Revs. S. Hopkins Emory, Allen Clark, 
John S. Wilson, S. D. Gaylord, E. K. Holden, George R. Mont- 
gomery, Winthrop B. Greene, Morgan Millar and the present pas- 
tor, George Oliver Tamblyn. The. church building of this society 
was erected during the pastorate of Rev. E. K. Holden. 

The West End Congregational Church was at first a Sunday 
School of the Presbyterian Church in 1884 and in 1885 became a 
branch of the Sunday School of the First Congregational Church. It 
was organized as a church on February 15, 1887. The pastors have 
been: Revs. George F. Prentiss, Henry Ketcham, C. F. Stimson, 
Burt Leon York, Grant L. Shaeffer, O. D. Fisher, W. Irving 
Maurer, Walter L. Bennett and Edward C. Thompson. The churdi 
is located on Colorado Avenue between State Street and Fairfield 

The King's Highway Chapel was organized June 28, 1894, and 
is situated at the comer of Noble Avenue and Spring Street, Revs. 




; '.:?UCLIbRARY i 



Wilson R. Stewart, Evan Evans and P. E. Mathias have been recent 
pastors of this church. 

The Swedish Congregational Church, located at the comer of 
I-aurel Avenue and Grove Street, was organized December 19, 1895. 
The pastors of this congi'cgation have been : Revs. Oscar Lindegren, 
J. M. Henrikson, O. Olson, Isak Hoyem, Algath Ohlson and A. P. 

The Italian Calvary Congregational Church was organized June 
26, 1902, and is located in the Italian section of Bridgeport. The 
pastor from the beginning until the present time is Rev. Canio 


The term Episcopacy denotes a system of church organization 
in which the principal authority is vested in a bishop. Since the time 
of the Reformation the church has preserved the Episcopal model, 
although not in communion with Rome. The Protestant Episcopal 
Church in America is descended from the Church of England and 
dates as a separate American church body since the year 1789, in 
which year a constitution was formally adopted. The church is an 
outgrowth of the Church of England and still adheres to the Church 
of England doctrine, discipline and worship. The church may be 
said to have grown out of the different parishes which existed in the 
colonies from the time of the first settlement until the War of the 
Revolution, all under the jurisdiction of the bishop of London. Scat- 
tered over the New England states these parishes were essentially 
different in form and practices, but were united later. In the State 
of Connecticut the church organization was the result of an inner 
movement. In 1722 Rev. Timothy Cutler, rector of Yale College, 
and Daniel Brown, his assistant instructor, together with the Revs. 
Samuel Johnson and Joseph Wetmore, left the Connecticut colony 
and were ordained in London. This gave rise to the Episcopal move- 
ment in the colony and as a result, at the close of the Revolution, 
Connecticut was the leader in Episcopalian matters in the country. 
The movement to constitute one Episcopal Church for the whole 
United States began May 11, 1784, at New Brunswick, N. J., and 
the first general convention was held at the Christ Church, Phila- 
delphia, September 27, 1785. In the year 1914 there were sixty- 
seven dioceses in the United States and twenty-one missionary dis- 

The people of Newfield, both Congregational and Episcopal, 



attended services at Stratfield for about twenty-five years, but no 
sooner was the borough organized than efforts were made to bring 
these churches therein. The Episcopal Church was the first to con- 
struct a church building here. The first building erected as a house 
of worship for this church was in Stratfield in the summer of 1748, 
as indicated from the letters of Joseph Lamson, in the church docu- 
ments of Connecticut, as follows: "I have formerly mentioned a 
church built at Stratfield, in which they are very urgent to have me 
officiate every third Sunday, because we have large congregations 
when I preach there. The people living in the town and westward 
are very much against it, because Mr. Caner used to keep steadily 
to the church in town, but then there was neither church nor con- 
gregation at Stratfield." Caner resigned his pastorate in Fairfield 
in 1747 and Reverend Lamson succeeded him. It is believed that 
the congregation was formed and the church built after Lamson 
took his position as pastor. It was called St. John's Church and stood 
on what later became Wood Avenue, Bridgeport. 

In 1801 the St. John's Church, Rev. Philo Shelton, pastor, 
erected its second edifice on the southeast corner of State and Broad 
streets. In 1886 the third church was erected on the southeast cor- 
ner of Broad and Cannon streets. When the fourth church was 
built during the incumbency of Rev. E. W. Maxoy", the old church 
was bought by a syndicate and converted into two public halls, for 
which it was used until 1889, when the site was purchased by the 
Government and the federal building erected thereon. The new 
churdi is located at the comer of Fairfield and Park avenues. 

Following Reverend Shelton as pastor of the St. John's Church 
have been: Revs. Henry R. Judah, Gurdon S. Coit, Eaton W. 
Maxoy, Edgar A. Enos, J. S. Lindsley, W. H. Lewis and Stephen 
Fish Sherman. 

Christ Church, on Courtland Street, between Fairfield Avenue 
and John Street, was organized as a parish August IG, 1850, and 
the following officers elected: Charles Bostwick, senior warden; 
Russell Tomlinson, junior warden; Charles B. Ferguson, Chaun- 
cey M. Hatch, Charles M. Booth, Samuel Stratton, Aaron T. Beards- 
ley, Philip B. Segee, vestry; Henry Shelton, treasurer; and John 
S. Smith, clerk. The first rector of the Christ Church was Rev. 
J. Howard Smith, who was called November 7, 1850, and who stayed 
until 1854. During his pastorate the site of the church on Court- 
land Street was purchased and the comer stone of the edifice laid 
on Good Friday, April 9, 1852. This handsome brown stone churdi 



was completed and dedicated the following year and was consecrated 
by Bishop Thomas Church Brownell on April 21st. The building 
cost about thirty-two thousand dollars. Following Reverend Smith 
in the piJpit of this church these rectors have ser\'ed: Revs. Wil- 
liam Preston, G^rge E. Thrall, L. W. Bancroft, Henry M. Stew- 
art, John Falkner- Blake (later John Blake Falkner), John J. Har- 
rison, N. L. Briggs, H, N. Powers, Beverly E. Warner, Herbert 
D. Cone, John Brown, Ernest J. Crafts and John G. Sadtler. The 
chapel in the rear of the church was erected in 1867 for $9,000. 

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, of East Bridgeport, was organized 
at the home of Gen. William H. Noble, on Stratford Avenue, June 
4, 1858, at which time Rev. Gurdon S. Coit, of St. John's Church, 
was chosen rector. Sunday school work was conducted at first in 
D. W. Thompson's coal office, near Center Bridge, and later over 
a store on Crescent Avenue. Rev. N. S. Richardson was the firjst 
rector of this parish, followed in order by Revs. M. Clark, James O. 
Drunun, Mildridge Walker, H. M. Sherman, Earl H. Kenyon and 
Benjamin F. Root. The corner stone of the church building on Kos- 
suth Street, fronting Washington Park, was laid by Bishop Wil- 
liams October 6, 1868, and the finished structure was dedicated July 
29, 1869, and consecrated in 1880. The cost was about thirty thou- 
sand dollars. 

The Trinity Church was an outgrowth of St. John's Episcopal 
Church and was organized June 1, 1868. The first services were held 
in a hall over the N. Y., N. H. & H. depot June 1*, 1868. The cor- 
ner stone of the church building was laid November 2, 1868, at the 
comer of Fairfield Avenue and Broad Street and was opened for 
worship July 8, 1864. The church was consecrated by Right Rev. 
John Williams, assistant bishop of Connecticut, on November 2, 
1864. The first rector of the Trinity Church was Rev. Sylvester' 
Clarke, followed by Revs. L. N. Booth, William Brewster Stoskopf, 
Charles L. Gomph and C. W. Areson. 

The St. Luke's Church (Mission) was started August 1, 1873, 
and succeeded Coit Memorial Chapel which had been opened on 
Whit Sunday, May 19, 1872. St. Luke's was formally organized 
April 8, 1912. The rectors have been: Revs. Benjamin J. Davis, 
A. P. Chapman, John W. Gill, N. T. Pratt, Eaton W. Maxoy, E. 
L. Wells, J. C. France and W. H. Jepson. The church is located 
at the corner of Stratford Avenue and Sixth Street. 

St. George's Episcopal Church, corner of Clinton and Beech- 
wood avenues, was organized September 20, 1892, and was at first 



known as St. John's West End Chapel. Prominent among the pas- 
tors of this church have been; Revs. G. A. Robson, H. B. Ziegler, 
F. R. Sanford, Ellis Bishop and Henry E. Kelley. 

The Calvary Church, North Avenue and Wells streets, is in 
charge of Rev. George J. Sutherland at the present time. 


The name of Methodism was given to the religious movement 
inaugurated in England by John Wesley. The name has subse- 
quently been given to all the churches which have sprung from that 
movement, whatever nationality they may have been. Other churches, 
although not bearing the name of Methodism specifically, may be 
safely identified with that denomination. The church dates from the 
year 1789. The religion of the Methodists was introduced into Ire- 
land in 1747 by the organization of a society in Dublin by Thomas 
Williams. English troopers carried the teachings to Jersey in 1779 
or 1790; after which the mainland of France was invaded. C. G. 
Miller, a youth from Wurttemberg, went to London in 1805, was 
converted and in 1880 returned to South Germany, where he preached 
the doctrine of the church. In Italy the Methodists first took hold in 
1852, when the French sent M. Rostan into the'Piedmont Valley. 

The first Methodist Society in the New World was formed from 
German refugees to Ireland, who had been expelled from the Pali- 
tinate by Louis XIV. Philip Embury and Barbara Heck were con- 
verted in Ireland and upon landing in New York in 1760 began 
preaching their faith. Thomas Webb, a captain in the army, also 
preached in New York and elsewhere about 1766. Robert Straw- 
bridge, also a native of Erin, began the work in Maryland, assisted 
by Robert Williams, the apostle of Virginia. In 1769 Wesley sent 
Richard Broadman and Joseph Pilmoor, and two years later Francis 
Asbury and Richard Wright, to help the cause in America. 

In 1778 the first conference was held, with ten ministers and 
1,160 members. The Revolutionary war, coming at this juncture, 
brought an increase in numbers instead of disaster. At the end of 
hostilities there were eighty preachers and 15,000 members. Wes- 
ley endeavored to get a bishop in England to ordain one of his 
preachers in America. He was not successful, so concluded he had 
the necessary authority himself . Accordingly, on September 1, 1784, 
he ordained Whatcoat and Vasey as deacons, on the next day the 
elders, and Coke, superintendent. He instructed them to organize 



the American societies into a church. This was done at the Christ- 
mas Conference in Lovely Lane Chapel, Baltimore, December 24, 
1784, to January 2d following. Here Asbury was ordained dea- 
con, elder and superintendent, the societies taking the name of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. Since then the growth has been great. 
In 1914 there were 62,416 churches of all branches; 41,925 ministers 
and 7,328,829 communicants. 

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, began in 1844, when 
the church was divided into two branches. The question of how to 
abolish slavery divided the members into two factions. The north 
churches believed in the excommunication of the states which fa- 
vored slavery and the south maintained that such action would 
destroy all the good work which the denomination bad accomplished 
in America. The general conference in 1844 authorized the sepa- 

The Methodist Protestant Church was started in 1828 and organ- 
ized under that title in 1830. It traces its origin back to the Evan- 
gelical Reformation begun by John and Charles Wesley, The sep- 
aration from the mother church "grew out of the controversy for 
rights of the laity in the lawmaking councils of the church." 

Methodist preaching occurred in the vicinity of Bridgeport very 
early. In 1784 William Black, a Nova Scotian, came to the United 
States, and during the course of his travels in New England 
preached in the Congregational Church at Stratfield. He made a 
good impression, but subsequent knowledge of some of his beliefs 
turned the people against him. His work, however, had its good 
features, for it stimulated the desire for religious organization and 
among those who assembled for worship were Mrs, Wells and Mrs. 
Wheeler, living at the south end of Park Avenue, then called Mut- 
ton Lane. On June 18, 1789, Jesse Lee, a pioneer of New England 
Methodism, preached in the courthouse at Fairfield to about forty 
people. He then came to the home of Mrs. Wheeler, where he called 
the neighbors together on, the 19th and made several conversions. 
On July 8d Lee preached at the house of Elijah Hawley, in Strat- 
field, and thereafter preached at several different places in the 

The start of the first Methodist class in this nei^borhood, and 
one of the first of New England, was that organized by Reverend 
Lee September 26, 1789, in a house on Toilsome Hill, Fairfield. 
The three persons composing the class were Mrs. Wells, Miss Ruth 
Hall, her sister, and a Mrs. Risley. The first Methodist society in 



Bridgeport met in 1802 in a wooden block standing on the comer 
of Main and State streets. In 1817 Bridgeport first appeared in the 
conference minutes, referring to the old Pequonnock Church. Dur- 
ing the year 1816 the old Congregational meeting house at Pequon- 
nock was purchased by the Methodists and for about six years pub- 
lie worship was held there. 

In an historical record by Albert Nash, an early pastor, there is 
the following in regard to the church: "Before the church at Pe- 
quonnock was abandoned in 1821, a room was procured for holding 
Methodist meetings in the borough in what was then called the New 
Block, at the corner of Main and State streets, over the drug store. 
This place appears to have 'been procured mainly by the efforts of 
Nathaniel Ruggles, who had been converted a few years previous 
under the labors of Rev. Benoni English, at the Pequonnock Church. 
From my best information I conclude this hall was first occupied 
by our people in the winter of 1821-2, and that John N. Maffit then 
held a series of meetings in it. 

"In the year 1822 measures were taken for the erection of our 
first house of worship in this city. The members of the society were 
first organized into an ecclesiastical body according to law, June 30, 
1821, and the principal members are stated in the warrant to have 
been Nathaniel Ruggles, Burr Penfield, Agur Bassett, Richard 
Fuller and Stephen Durand. At the first meeting, held for the pur- 
pose of organization. Stiles Nichols, long and favorably known as 
editor of the Republican Farmer, acted as chairman; N. Ruggles 
was chosen clerk; and A. Bassett, John P. McEwen and R. Fuller 
were chosen as trustees. 

"On the 11th of February, 1822, the meeting voted to proceed 
in the erection of a house of worship and N. Ruggles was entrusted 
with all the business necessary to be done in the matter. The site of 
the church was located at a meeting held May 13, 1823, and the 
house, though for some years remaining unfinished, was occupied the 
latter part of that year, Mr. Maffit preaching the first sermon in it. 
The trustees at the time of its erection were Charles H. Wakeley, 
J. P. McEwen, B. Penfield, Abram S. Smith and Elias A, Hall. The 
church stood on the site of the present one. It was 40 by 60 feet 
and its cost, with the lot, was about three thousand dollars. The 
house stood about twenty-six years, and in 1849 it was burned. Meas- 
ures were immediately taken to erect the present church edifice, and 
while it was being built the society worshiped in Wordin's Hall, at 
the comer of State and Water streets. On the 14th of February, 

d by Google 


1850, this house was dedicated — the Reverend Doctor Durbin and 
the Rev. Allen Steele preaching on the occasion. At its completion 
a debt of about nine thousand dollars remained, which was paid in 
1860, Mr. Eben Fairchild generously giving half the sum upon the 
rest being raised by the others. The first Sunday school in con- 
nection with this society was organized during the conference year 
commencing in 1828." 

Early preachers of the Methodist Society were Revs. Jesse Lee, 
John Bloodgood, Nathaniel B. Mills, Aaron Hunt, Joshua Taylor, 
Smith Weeks, Aaron Hunt, James Coleman, Zebulon Kankey, 
Nicholas Sneathen Daniel Dennison, Timothy Dewey, Elijah Wobs- 
ley, Robert Leeds, David Buck, Augustus Jocelyn, William 
Thatcher, David Brown, S. Marvin, Isaaic Candee, J. Coleman, 
James Campbell, N. W. Tompkins, P. Moriarty, Sylvester Foster, 
Nathan Felch, Oliver Sykes, J. M. Smith, Zalmon Lyon, Noble W. 
Thomas, Billy Hibbard, Nathan Emory, John Russell, S. Rowell, 
S. Beach, Henry Eames, E. Washburn, Reuben Harris, E. Wool- 
sey, S. Bushnell, John Boyd, Cyrus Silliman, Laban Clark, Eli Bar- 
nett, William I. Pease, Humphrey Humphreys, Marvin Richard- 
son, F. W. Sizer, Henry Stead, John Lovejoy, James H. Romer, 
H. Bartlett, Charles Sherman, S. Martindale, Laban C. Cheney, 
James Youngs, J. Tackerberry, Davis Stocking, Charles F. Pelton, 
Harmon D. Goslin, J. W. Lefevre. Pastors of the society have 
been: Daniel Smith, John M. Pease, Salmon C. Perry, John L, 
Gilder, James H. Perry, H. Bangs, George Brown, John B. Strai- 
ten, Edwin L. Janes, Thomas G. Osbom, Charles Fletcher, John M. 
Reid, William F. Collins, Albert Nash, John Miley, Ichabod Sim- 
mons, Frank Bottome, James M. Carroll, John Dickenson, S. H. 
Piatt, Daniel O. Ferris, George A. Hubbell, Charles E. Harris, 
H. Q. Judd, W. W. Clark, Joseph Pulhnan, Harvey E. Bumes, 
Wilham H. Kidd, F. B. Upham and George M. Brown, the present 

The Washington Park Methodist Episcopal Church was organ- 
ized September 12, 1853, according to Orcutt, but other authorities 
place the date as May 27, 1854. The first church edifice was erected 
on the comer of Barnum and Noble and was completed and occu- 
pied in 1858 or 1854. In 1867 the structure was enlarged and im- 
proved in 1867. This structure was removed in 1888 and a brick 
church building erected. The cornerstone was laid May 23, 1888 and 
the building dedicated March 80, 1884. The pastors of this church 
have been: Revs. S. H. Smith, E. J. Searles, Charles S. Wing, 



Thomas Stevenson, W. W. Bowdish, A. C. Eggleston, I. M. Foster, 
George L. Thompson, Saul O. Curtice, Ervjn Thorp, N. G. Cheney, 
Frank D. Walker, James A. Macmillan, Charles £. Barto, and E. 
A. Bumes. 

The Summerfield Methodist Episcopal Church, 1241 Barnum 
Avenue, was organized in April, 1872. Among the pastors have 
been: Revs. George A. Parkington, A. P. Chapman, L,. W. Abbott, 
E. L. Bray, George Fibner, O. F. Bartholo, W. S. Manship, D. O. 
Ferris, Royal W. Raymond, E. C. Carpenter, George Van Alstyne, 
S. Danforth Lewis, Henrj' Blatz, Jr., A. Sturges Ball, G. H. L. 
Hammond, and J. P. Wagner. The present pastor is Rev. B. F. 

The Newfield Methodist Episcopal Church, located 1285 Strat- 
ford Avenue, was organized in the year 1872. Among the pastors 
of this society have been: Revs. R. S. Eldridge, F. M. Hallock, 
S. A. Sands, Samuel Gurney, Calvin B. Ford, Benjamin F. Saxon, 
D. D. Irvine, G. W. Simonson, and D. M. Lewis. 

The Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, at the corner of Fair- 
field and Clinton Avenues, was established August 6, 1890. The first 
pastor was Rev. E. A. Noble, then came Revs. Addis Albro, M. O. 
Lepley, W. D. Beach, Horace W. Byrnes, John Emory Parks, John 
J. Snavely, O. W. E. Cook and Ernest F. Weise. 

The German Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1881. 
Among the pastors of this congregation have been : Revs. Johannes 
A. Schaauble, J. H. F. Boese, A. Steitz, John G. Lutz, R. G. Koenig, 
H. Schuckai, G. Wiegand, and A. Opitz 

The First Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church was organized 
November 13, 1888. Recent pastors of this church have .been: Revs. 
John Em. Hillberg, Eric N. Hedeen, Hilmer Larson, N. J. Chil- 
strom, David Bjork and William E. Chellgren. 

Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, located North Avenue and 
Remer Street, is in charge of the Rev. Hubert C. Carter. 

The North Main Street Methodist Episcopal Church, or the Tab- 
ernacle, was founded in July, 1878. In the following year a church 
building on North Main, at the foot of Frank Street, was opened, 
and Rev. A. B. Sanford was appointed pastor. 

There are at present two colored Methodist Episcopal churches 
in the city — the A. M. E. Zion Church, organized in 1884, and the 
Bethel A. M. E. Church, organized 1885. Of the former church 
Rev. William W. Ely is the pastor and of the latter Rev. Ira Stanley 


First Presbyter inn Kir-'t RM|jti«t 

Chri»t ICpUcopHi South Coiigregntional 

St. Mary's Roman Catholic St. John's K[)i»i'0|iul 


Digitized byGOOgle 

TiiE NEW yoRK I 



In addition to the churches above mentioned there is maintained 
the Point Union Mission and Sunday School, in charge of Superin- 
tendent R. W. Parrott, at the comer of East Main and Nichols 


The First Presbyterian Church of Bridgeport was constituted 
October 16, 1858, at which time eighty-two persons, previously receiv- 
ing letters of dismissal from the Second Congregational Church, 
entered into covenant and connected themselves with the New York 
Presbytery. Rev. Nathaniel Hewit who also had been released from 
the Congregational Church, was the first pastor. In 1860 the church 
was transferred to the Presbytery of Connecticut and in 1870 to the 
Presbytery of Westchester. The following were the original ruling 
elders: Stephen Hawley, Thomas Hawley, John Brooks, Henry M. 
Hine and Stiles M. Middlebrook. The Myrtle Avenue Chapel was 
dedicated February 1, 1858 and a new church erected on the corner 
of Myrtle Avenue and West Liberty street was dedicated in August, 
1835. The ground for the church site was donated to the society 
by Capt. John Brooks and Capt Burr Knapp. Succeeding Rever- 
end Hewit in the pulpit of the Presbyterian Church have been : Revs. 
H. G. Hinsdale, H. A. Daveii^ort, -G. F. Pentecost and the present 
incumbent, Rev. John McL. Jlichardscm. Reverend Davenport 
served the church for almost thiilj; years. In 1874, during the pas- 
torate of Reverend Hinsdale, the church building was destroyed by 
fire. The society immediately sold the old site and began the con- 
struction of a handsome stone church on the corner of Myrtle Avenue 
and State Street, with adjoining chapel, altogether costing about 
$94,000. While the church was being constructed meetings were 
held in the opera house, comer of Main and State streets. 

The People's Presbyterian Church, Laurel and Park avenues, 
is an outgrowth of the First Church, and was organized April 21, 
1907. Rev. H. A. Davenport has been the pastor since the beginning. 


To trace the origin of the Catholic Church would be far too 
stupendous a task for a work of this scope. However, it may be said 
by way of introduction that the Roman Catholic Church would be 
"that portion of Christendom which acknowledges the Pope or 
Bishop of Rome as its head and which considers such adherence to 



this definite and visible center of unity as absolutely essential to 
membership in its ranks." 

The first account of Catholicism in America is that of the pres- 
ence of priests in Greenland in the Tenth Century. The Diocese of 
Garder was estabUshed in 1112 A. D. The first authentic history 
opens with 1494, when twelve priests accompanied Columbus to the 
New World. They were subject to the Spanish See of Sebille until 
1512, when the first American Episcopal See of San Domingo was 
created. In 1522 a see was established at Santiago, Cuba, and in 
1580 one in Mexico. From these latter named sees were evangel- 
ized the Indians of the northeastern and southwestern territories of 
the present United States. The Franciscans, Dominicans and Jes- 
uits established missions through here at this time, also the French 
missionaries labored with the savages of the St. Lawrence River, 
Maine, northern New York and on the Mississippi River. In 1634 
Jesuit fathers were established in the originally Roman Cathohc 
colony of Maryland and after 1681 Roman Catholics were in con- 
junction with Penn and the Quakers in Pennsylvania. Until 1784 
they were under the jurisdiction of the Vicar Apostolic of London 
and missionaries journeyed across the ocean to them. 

The American Revolution brought a change for the better. The 
various disorders of the Old World resulted in a large immigratioD, 
the greater percent of which was Roman Catholic, which was in turn 
composed largely of Irishmen. In 1790 the See of Baltimore was 
created and John Carroll made the first bishop. There were then 
about 80,000 Catholics in the thirteen colonies. By 1820 this number 
had reached 250,000; in 1840 about 1,000,000; in 1870, 5,000,000; 
and now the Catholics in the United States number easily 16,000.000. 
The church in the United States is divided into provinces and dioceses. 
Each province is presided over by an archbishop and this forms an 
archdiocese ; besides there are eighty-five separate dioceses, one vicar- 
ate and one prefecture apostolic (Alaska) . The dioceses are divided 
into parishes and missions. 

The first date when mass was celebrated in Bridgeport was 1830, 
when Father Fitton came regularly for two years, when Father 
McDermott was stationed at New Haven, and relieved him. Mass 
was first said in the house of Mr. Farrell, on Middle Street, there 
being about eighteen Catholic families then residing in the city. Soon 
afterwards. Rev, James Smith visited Bridgeport once each month. 
He constructed a brick church on the comer of Arch Street and 
Washington Avenue, known as St. James. The church was dedi- 



cated July 24, 1848, the congregation then numbering about 300. 
The Rev. Michael Lynch was the first settled pastor of this church, 
receiving his appointment in November, 1848. He also had charge 
of the missions of Derby and Norwalk. 

On September 2, 1852 Rev. Thomas J. Synott was appointed by 
Bishop O'Reilly and after his arrival he began the building of the 
church of St. Mary on Crescent Avenue, East Bridgeport, and fin- 
ished it the following year. In the same year he began St. Thomas 
Church in Fairfield and finished it in 1854. The brick church on 
Washington Avenue having become too crowded, the foundation for 
the present St. Augustine Church was laid August 28, 1866 and the 
building completed was dedicated St. Patrick's Day, 1868, Rt. Rev. 
Bishop McFarland officiating. The convent school in connection 
with this parish was completed in 1881. Upon the death of Father 
Synott in 1884, after thirty-two years' service, Rev. Michael F. Kelly 
was appointed pastor, but died in 1888, whereupon Rev. D. J. Cremin 
succeeded. Following came Rev. Charles J. McElroy and now Rev. 
James B. Nihill is the pastor. 

The St. Mary's Church of Bridgeport was begim as a mission of 
St. Augustine's and was the first. A frame building was used, 
located on the corner of Crescent Avenue and Church Street and was 
erected in 1854. The first missionaries here were Revs. M. O'Neil, 
P. Lamb and Dr. Wallace. The first regularly stationed pastor was 
Rev. Peter A. Smith, installed in April, 1857- , Following him have 
been: Revs. John F. Rogers, William H. Lynch and John F. Mur- 
phy, the latter now the incumbent. Father Rogers began the church 
building, located at the comer of Pembroke and Steuben streets. 
The cornerstone was laid May 22, 1875 by the Very Rev. James 
Hughes, V. G., and dedicated by Bishop Galbery October 26, 1877. 
The old church was remodeled into a parochial school by the Sisters 
of Mercy. 

The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was set off from the 
St. Augustine parish in the year 1883. The cornerstone of the church 
building, 718 Myrtle Avenue, was laid in 1884 and the finished build- 
ing was dedicated July 4, 1886. The church was erected by Rev. 
D. J. Cremin. Following Rev. J. C. O'Brien the pastors have been 
Revs. J. R. Sweeney and R. F. Moore. 

St. Joseph's German Church was organized in 1874. The church 
building on Madison Avenue was begun in 1877 and completed iu 
1878, the Rev. Joseph Schaele then pastor. The present pastor of 
St. Joseph's Church is Rev. H. J. Dahme. 



St. Patrick's Church was formed from St. Augustine's in May, 
1889. Rev. James B. Nihill was the first pastor and was succeeded 
in recent years by Rev. John C. Lynch, the former taking the pastor- 
ate at St. Augustine's. On August 3, 1890 the cornerstone of St. 
Patrick's Church was laid by Rt. Rev. Bishop McMahon in the 
presence of about 4,000 people. 

St. John's Nepomucene Slovak R. C. Church was organized 
April 21, 1891, and the church building is located at S16 Brooks 
Street. Revs. Joseph Kossalke, Major Desiderius and Andrew E. 
Komara have been pastors of this church, the latter at present active. 

St. Joseph's Polish National Catholic Church, at 45 CaUfomia 
Street, was organized in 1907. Rev. A. Z. Korona was the first 
pastor and the present is Rev. W. Blazowski. 

St. Anthony's French R. C. Church, 96 Colorado Avenue, was 
established December 27, 1892. Rev. Ed. J. Plunkett is the pas- 
tor, having been preceded by Rev. J. L, Desaulniers. 

St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, at 521 Howard Avenue, was 
organized October 1, 1900. The pastor of this church since the begin- 
ning is Rev. Thomas J. Kelley. 

The Holy Rosary Italian Catholic Church, 885 East Washing- 
ton Avenue, became an organization on March 20, 1904. The first 
pastor was Rev. Gaetano Ceniti, followed by the present incumbent. 
Rev. Angelo De Toro. 

Other Catholic cjiurches in Bridgeport are: St. George Lithu- 
anian, 443 Park Avenue, Rev. Matthew A. Pankovski ; St. Michael's 
Archangel Polish R. C. Church, 810 Sterling Street, Alphonse M. 
Figlewski, pastor; St. Charles R. C. Church, 1255 East Main Street, 
Rev. Patrick J. McGiyney; St. Cyril's Methodius Slovak R. C. 
Church, Crescent Avenue and Church Street, Rev. Gaspar Panik; 
St. Stephen's Hungarian R. C. Church, Spruce Street and Bostwick 
Avenue, Rev. Stephen F. Chernitzky; the convents are the St 
Josephs, Sisters of Notre Dame, 45 Madison Avenue; St. Augus- 
tine's, Sisters of Mercy, Calhoun Place; Sts. Cyril and Methodius, 
79 Church Street; and Sacred Heart Convent, 655 Park Avenue. 


Lutheranism arose from the Reformation in Germany. The 
church is the mother of Protestantism. This was in the Sixteenth 
Century. The Lutheran Church and its various branches now have 
in the United States alone about 2,112,494 members. Rasmus Jen- 



sen, a Lutheran pastor, came to America as chaplain of a Danish 
expedition in 1619, preaching at the winter quarters at Hudson Bay, 
where he died February 20, 1620. Dutch Lutherans settled on Man- 
hattan Island in 1623, but had no regular minister until the coming 
of the English in 1664. In 1626 Gustavus Adolphus, King of 
Sweden, prepared to undertake the introduction of the gospel in 
America through colonization. Unfortimately he died in 1632, but 
his prime minister established colonies on the Delaware in 1638. A 
pastor, Reorus Torktilus, arrived in 1689 and was the first Lutheran 
pastor in the territory of the United States. He held services in Fort 
Christina and the first Lutheran Church in America was here. A 
block house was soon constructed. In 1643 there arrived Governor 
Printz and Rev. John Campanino, who built a church at Tinicum, 
nine miles southwest of Philadelphia. In 1684 the first English 
Lutheran services were held in Germantown and Philadelphia by 
Heinrich R. Koster. 

The First German Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church, at Grand 
and Catherine streets, was organized in 1892. Among the pastors 
prominent in the work of this church have been : Revs. Henry Span- 
nath. E. Fischer, F. P. Wilhelm, Otto F. T. Hanser, W. H. Stcup 
and the* present pastor, Herman Wehmeyer. 

The First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Laurel Avenue 
and Grove Street, became organized September 20, 1903. The pas- 
tors have been: Revs. H. H. Hartmann, Edgar R. Cooper. 

St. Paul's German Evangelical Lutheran Church, 66 Harriett 
Street, was organized March 6, 1898. Revs. Max Y. V. Mueller, 
Ernest F. Hingkeldey and P. Clemen have occupied the pulpit since 

The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Salem Church, located at 
1291 Park Avenue, was organized in the year 1887. Recent pastors 
of this society have been : Revs. Carl E. Cesander, Peter Froeberg, 
David J. Nordling and at present, A. J. Okerblom. 

Our Saviour's Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church, on Beach 
Street, was organized September 27, 1893. Recent pastors have 
been: Revs. A. W. Anderson, A. J. Tarpgaard, Henry Plambeek, 
P. Yensen and Einar Winther, the latter at present occupying the 

Two Sunday Schools are maintained — the Black Rock Swedish 
Lutheran Sunday School and the East End Swedish Lutheran Sun- 
day School. 




The founders of the German Reformed Church came to America 
from the Rhine provinces in Germany and from the German cantons 
of Switzerland. The greater part of this immigration occmred 
between the years 1710 and 1770. .These people established them- 
selves in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, 
Carolina and Georgia. The first congregation was organized at 
Germantown, Virginia, in 1714, with Rev. John Henry Haeger as 
the pastor. Gradually most of the churches of this denomination 
became absorbed with other churches, the Presbyterians, Episcopa- 
lians and Lutherans. The Reformed Church , however, became 
denominational in Pennsylvania. The organizer and pastor of tbe 
three original churches was John Philip Boehn. Before 1740 there 
were twenty-four Reformed congregations in Pennsylvania and the 
leading ministers of the period were Boehn, Templeman, Weiss, 
Rieger and Goetschius. In 1747 the congregations united in a costus 
(synod) under Rev. Michael Schlatter, and were under the jurisdic- 
tion of the Holland synods. Thus the Reformed Church begun in 

The German Reformed Church in Bridgeport was organized on 
October 1, 1860, the Rev. Andrew Schroeder being the &st pastor. 
In 1868 the church was reorganized and Rev. Caspar Brunner took 
charge. In the same year the society bought the Polanna Chapel, 
on State Street, opposite Myrtle Avenue, which they occupied until 
1888, when the property was sold, another site on Congress Street 
near Main bought, and a $20,000 church building erected thereon. 
Following Reverend Brunner as pastor came Rev. Herman G. 
Wiemer, at present active. 

The First Hungarian Reformed Church, 225 Pine Street, was 
organized November 24, 1894. Recent pastors have been Revs. 
Stephen P. Harsanyi, Alexander Ludman, Joseph Toth, and Sigis- 
mund Laky. 


The Universalist Church, or Church of the Redeemer, was organ- 
ized January 12, 1843. In March, 1850, on the 28th to be exact, 
the wooden structure which they used on Cannon Street was burned. 
Soon after preparations were made for rebuilding, resulting in the 
brownstone church edifice at 262 Fairfield Avenue, which was dedi- 



cated in the latter part of the year 1851. This church claimed as one 
of its most active members the late P. T. Barnum, who was a trustee 
and also the giver of many substantial donations. Among the pas- 
tors of the Universalist Church in Bridgeport have been : Revs. Adin 
Ballon, Olympia Brown-Willis, John Lyon, L. B. Fisher, J. N. 
Emery, F. A. Dillingham and William W. Rose, the latter the 
incumbent in 1917' 


The Advent Christian Church of Bridgeport was organized in 
November, 1849, with fourteen members. Meetings were at first 
held in Temperance Hall on Beach Street. The church is now located 
on the comer of Park Avenue and Putnam Street. Recent pastors 
have been: Revs. G. H. Wallace, I. M. Blanchard, I. F. Barnes, 
James A. Gardner. 

The Church of God and Saints of Christ, Rev, James William, 
is located at 225 Charles Street; the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 
Rev. W. R. Uchtmann, is at 312 Wilmot Avenue. 

The first Hebrew congregation in Bridgeport was the B'Nai 
Israel, which was organized September 19, 1859, the first minister 
being Rev. A. Jacobs and the place of worship 35 Wall Street. Meet- 
ings were also held at Freedman's Building, State Street, and in 
the Curtis Building, 483 Main Street. Rev. Gustav Gumpel was 
the second pastor. 

The Adath Israel Synagogue, comer of East Washington Ave- 
nue and Kossuth Street, was organized in 1890 and incorpprated 
two years later. Rev. William Wittenstein is the officiating rabbi. 
The Congregation Ahavas Achim was organized June 22, 1908 and 
the rabbi is Rev, Henry Einhorn. The Congregational Anshei Lib- 
awitz Nusach Hari was organized May 21, 1909. The Congregation 
Bikur Cholin, 69 Green Street, was organized October 18, 1907. The 
Congregation Rodelph Sholem, 86 Court Street, was organized in 
November, 1909. On August 4, 1917 occurred the dedication of the 
handsome new synagogue of the Congregation Agudas Achim at the 
comer of Grand Street and Madison Avenue, the ceremonies of 
which were participated in by Mayor Wilson of Bridgeport. 

TdL I— II 




In the City of Bridgeport there are two societies of the Hun- 
garian Greek Catholic Church, namely: the Holy Trinity Church, 
onBostwick Avenue, organized May 2, 1891, Rev. Joseph Kovaleski; 
and the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, 717 Arctic Street, organ- 
ized March, 1906, Rev. Orestes P. Chornock. 

There is one church of the Evangelical Association at the comer 
of Newfield and DeForest avenues. The Berean Church, 262 East 
Main Street, was organized in September, 1888, and is in charge of 
Rev. R. C. SteinhoiF. The Church of Christ, Meeting House, at 
the corner of William and Vernon streets, is in charge of Elders Syl- 
vester Pike and C. M. Abercrombie. The First Church of Christ, 
Scientist, is located at 871 Lafayette Street. The first reader of 
this church is Frederick A. Peitzseh and the second reader Jessie 

Digitized byGOOgle 




Freemasonry is beyond question the oldest, strongest and most 
widely distributed of all the secret fraternal societies. Tradition 
carries the origin of the order back to the Pythagoreans, Essenes, 
Carmathites and other organizations of ancient times. No doubt cer- 
tain features of the rituals of these ancient brotherhoods were incor- 
porated into the ceremonies of the guilds of stonemasons and builders 
during the Middle Ages. That was the era of church and cathedral 
■ building and members of these guilds traveled over Europe under 
the patronage of the church. They were invested with certain privi- 
leges, hence the term "Free Masons." Toward the close of the 
church-building period, members of these guilds banded themselves 
into a society for friendly intercourse and mutual benefit, and it is 
practically established that this fraternal society is the mother of 
modern Freemasonry. 

The order is said to have been introduced into England by Edwin 
Athelstan about 930 A. D. A few years later a convention of Ma- 
sons at York adopted a code of laws which it is claimed is the basis 
of all later Masonic constitutions. In 1275 a convention of the trav- 
eling guilds was held at Strassburg, and a century later the members 
were divided into three classes — Apprentices, Craftsmen and Master 
Workmen. From England and Continental Europe the order found 
its way to Scotland, where the oldest known Masonic lodge in the 
world is now to be found, viz: Mother Kilwinning Lodge, which 
dates back to 1599. 

Four lodges of English Masons sent delegates to a meeting in 



London on June 24, 1717, at which time the English Grand Lodge 
was organized. At that time there was but one degree in the order, 
but in 1724 the English Grand Lodge adopted the classification of 
the guilds at the close of the Fourteenth Century and prepared a 
ritual including the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft 
and Master Mason, the three degrees which constitute the Blue 
Lodge of the present day. 

One June 5, 1780, Daniel Coxe of Burlington, New Jersey, re- 
ceived a commission as "Provincial Grand Master of the Provinces of 
New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in America." The com- 
mission was issued by the Duke of Norfolk, then Grand Master of 
England. St. John's Lodge at Philadelphia was organized by Mr. 
Coxe in the fall of 1730 and was the first lodge in America. On 
April 80, 1738, Lord Viscount Montague, then Grand Master of 
England, commissioned Maj. Henry Price of Boston "Provincial 
Grand Master of New England," and before the close of that year 
Major Price organized a lodge at Boston. This was the first Masonic 
Lodge in New England organized under the authority -of the Eng- 
lish Grand Lodge. 

St. John's Lodge, No. 8, Free and Accepted Masons, of Bridge- 
port, was founded under a charter dated February 12, 1762, the same 
having been issued by George Harrison, Grand Master of the prov- 
ince of New York, to Eleazer Hubbell of Stratfield. At this time 
there was not a grand lodge in Connecticut; in fact, there were only 
two local lodges, Hiram No. I of New Haven, instituted in 1730, 
and St. John's No. 2 of Middletown, instituted in 1754. 

The first meeting of the St. John's lodge at Stratfield was held 
at the home of Capt. Samuel Wakeman, on what is now Park Ave- 
nue, a short distance south of State Street, on February 15, 1762. 
There were just five members present at this time, namely: Amout 
Cannon, of New York, who acted as master pro tem ; Joseph Knapp 
and Isaac Young, of Fairfield; Eleazer Hubbell, of Stratfield; and 
J. Anderson, a visiting member of the lodge who acted as secretary. 
This particular meeting was called for the purpose of initiating into 
the order David Wheeler and Wolcott Chauncey. 

The first regular meeting was held at the house of Richard Hub- 
bell, on the street later called Clinton Avenue, on February 24, 1762. 
On July 14th of the same year occmred the first election of officers 
and Eleazer Hubbell was chosen the first master. 

Until December 8, 1762 the meetings of the lodge were held in 
Stratfield, but on that date the lodge was moved to the house of 



Isaac Young in Fairfield. Two years later it was again moved, this 
time to the "Sign of the Anchor," presumahly an inn at Fairfield. 

In January, 1768, it was voted that the lodge should have a seal 
and parchment and that the secretary should assess the sum of three 
shillings for a certificate. Until 1780 the initiation fee was three 
pounds ten shillings, approximately $17, then it was changed to three 
pounds in silver coins. 

That the memhers of the lodge in the early days were not 
strangers to the sociability and good will of the "flowing bowl" is 
abundantly proved by various items in the official records. The lodge 
room was equipped with a spacious punch-bowl and the the steward 
had his orders "to provide necessaries for the lodge room, rum, sugar, 
pipes and tobacco." These appurtenances, or "refreshments" as they 
were officially designated, were considered indispensable to a success- 
ful meeting. Needless to say, this feature has passed with the years. 
The two St. John's Days — June 24th and December 27th — were 
days when a celebration was held, the lodge members inviting their 
friends to hear a sermon by some member of the clergy. Rev. 
Andrew Elliot of Fairfield was a frequent speaker on these occasions, 
also Revs. Lamson, Baldwin, Shelton and Sayre. Some present or 
token of appreciation was usually presented to the obliging minister, 
such for instance, as a strip of calico to Reverend Elliot and a pair 
of silk gloves to Reverend Stebbins. Under date of February 25, 
1798 the record states the following: "Voted unanimously, That 
Bros. Lacey and Cannon wait on the Rev. Philo Shelton and present 
him with the thanks of this lodge, as likewise one guinea, for his 
excellent discourse on St. John's Day, 27th December, 1792, at 

Some of the prominent members of the lodge at this time were 
Jonathan Bulkley, who served for seventeen years as master; Gen. 
Elijah Abel, sheriff of Fairfield County; Lieut. Isaac Jarvis and 
Capt. Samuel Smedley, who won honors in the Revolutionary war; 
and Dr. Francis Forgue, the leading doctor of the village. In con- 
nection with the latter a pathetic note appears in the records, when 
it was written "That Brother Abel be desired to wait on Brother 
Forgue and know whether it is his desire that prayers be desired for 
him at the Throne of Grace, under his present indisposition of body." 
A short time later Forgue died. 

During the War of the Revolution long intervals occurred when 
no meetings were held, in fact until 1789 meetings were infrequent. 
In 1789 Josiah Lacey, Lambert Lockwood and Daniel Young in- 



duced the removal of the order to the village of Newfield where they 
were engaged in business. Here the first meeting was held at the 
house of Daniel Young, on the southwest comer of Union and Water 
Streets, on June 24, 178». Nine members and four visiting members 
were present. After the election of officers and delegates to the con- 
vention the members walked to the tavern of William Peet, "where 
they dined and drank in good harmony." 

On January 27, 1790 it was decided to meet at the house of 
William Peet upon the north side of State Street and on December 
14, 1791 another removal was made to Josiah Laeey's house, on the 
south side of State Street, between Main and Water. A year later 
the lodge began to meet in the home of Isaac of Hinman, on the south- 
west comer of Wall and Water streets. From 1809 until 1812 the 
lodge was compelled, by order of the grand lodge, to meet within 
one mile of the court house in the Town of Fairfield. In 1812 the 
members returned to Hinman's house. 

Free Masonrj- suffered severe criticism during the years 1831-2, 
owing to the alleged abduction of Morgan and in Bridgeport, as 
elsewhere, the order was pronounced "injurious to morality and 
religion." St. John's Lodge strenuously defended themselves and an 
article signed by fifty members was published in the local newspapers. 
Among the prominent signers of this defense were: Hanford Lyon, 
Philo Hurd, Wilson Hawley, Gen. Enoch Foote, Charles Foote, 
William Peete, Rev. H. R. Judah, Dr. William B. Nash, Abijah 
Hawley, Ezekiel Hubbell, EJi Thompson, and Gideon Thompson, all 
representative men of Bridgeport. However, after 1847 ilasonry 
began to revive and once more St. John's became cctive. Meetings 
were held in the old lodge room in the second story of a school house 
at 200 State Street, afterwards upon the northwest corner of State 
and Water streets, at the foot of State, and then over Ferris Kurd';. 
store on Water Street. In 1855 the lodge occupied rooms in the 
Sturdevant Building at the corner of Main and Bank streets. 

The next lodge to be organized in Bridgeport was Jerusalem 
Chapter No. 18, Royal Arch Masons, on October 21, 1813. Then 
came the Jerusalem Council Xo. 16, Royal and Select Masons, in 
1827. Hamilton Commandery No. 5, Knights Templar, was char- 
tered under the name of the Hamilton Encampment on May 10, 
1855, with sixteen charter members, all of whom originally belonged 
to Clinton Commandery. DeWitt Clinton Lodge of Perfection, A. 
and A. S. R., Pequonnock Chapter, Rose Croix, A. and A. S. R., 
Washington Council, P. of J. A. and A. S. R., and the Lafayette 



Consistory, S. P. of R. S. A. and A. S. R. were organized and char- 
tered in 1858. Corinthian Lodge No. 104 was chartered May 22, 
1868. Other organizations of Masonry now in Bridgeport are: Pyra- 
mid Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine; Orient Chapter No. 1, 
Order of the Eastern Star; and Morris Court No. 4, Order of Amar- 
anth. One lodge of colored Masons, Doric Lodge No. 4, Free and 
Accepted Masons, is now active in Bridgeport. 

In 1894 the Masonic Temple was erected on Broad Street at the 
head of Bank Street. The cornerstone of this building was laid 
September 25, 1894 and in 1895 the building was dedicated. 


The Grand Army of the Republic is an organization of soldiers, 
sailors and marines who fought on the side of the Union in the War 
of the Rebellion— 1861-65. It was founded by Dr. B. F. Stephenson 
and Rev. W. J. Rutledge, surgeon and chaplain respectively of the 
Fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. As early as the spring of 
1864 these two officers discussed the advisability of organizing some 
kind of an association of veterans to perpetuate the fraternity estab- 
lished in camp, on the march or on the firing line during the war. 
After the war they formulated their plans and called a meeting at 
Decatur, Illinois, for April 6, 1866, and at that meeting the Grand 
Army was bom. 

Each state constitutes a "Department," and local societies are 
called "Posts." The first post was organized at Decatur, Illinois, on 
the date of the meeting above mentioned, and the first national en- 
campment was held at Indianapolis, Indiana, in November, 1866. 
The objects of the order are to collect and preserve historic relics 
and documents pertaining to the war ; aid and assist disabled Union 
veterans, their widows and orphans; observe Memorial Day by suit- 
able exercises and the decoration of the graves of fallen comrades ; 
keep alive the cherished recollections of the camp and campaign, and 
teach to the rising generation lessons of patriotism. 

The order reached its greatest strength in 1890, when it num- 
bered 409,487 members. Each year since then the number of those 
who answer the "last roll call" have increased until in 1915 the death 
rate was about one thousand per month. The Grand Army is largely 
responsible for the establishment of Memorial Day (May 80th) as 
a legal holiday, and it has been influential in establishing soldiers' 
homes and institutions for the care of soldiers' orphans. 



Elias Howe, Jr. Post, No. 3, Grand Army of the Republic, of 
Bridgeport, was chartered April 13, 1867, with the following named 
veterans as the charter members; William H. Noble, James E. Dun- 
ham, Albert W. Peck, J. R. Gumming, William H. Lacey, E. A 
Stebbins, S. M. Nichols, Samuel E. Blinn, Wheeler Hawley, H. L. 

The post was organized in the office of Gen. William H. Noble, 
in the Sturdevant Building, oij April 25, 1867. General Noble com- 
manded the fourth district of the department of Connecticut, which 
had been organized April 11, 1867, just a few days previous to the 
organization of the Bridgeport post. At the meeting in General 
Noble's office the following officers were chosen to serve until the 
first election of Julj', 1867; James E. Dunham, post commander; 
William H. Lacey, senior vice commander; J. R. Gumming, junior 
vice commander; Albert W. Peck, adjutant; Philip B. Segee, quar- 
termaster; J. R. Gumming, surgeon. S. M. Nichols was appointed 
officer of the day; Samuel E. Blinn, officer of the guard; S. W. Haw- 
ley, sentinel at the outpost. The officers first regularly elected in 
July, 1867, were; James E. Dunham, post commander; William H- 
Lacey, senior vice commander; Henry L. Coles, junior vice com- 
mander; Albert W. Peck, adjutant; Philip B. Segee, quartermas- 
ter: J. R. Gumming, surgeon; William H. May, chaplain. 

The post continued to hold meetings in General Noble's office until 
June 29, 1867, when Lafayette Hall was secured and meetings were 
held there until December 19, 1867, when it removed to Good Tem- 
plars' Hall. In 1868 the post was removed to the Odd Fellow's HaD 
on Water Street, in 1869 to Harral's Hall, in 1870 to a hall in the 
Sturdevant Building, then to Waller's Building, in 1874 to Lafay- 
ette Hall and in 1883 to a hall over the old postoffice. From this 
time the post occupied many halls for the meetings and now is located 
at 925 Main Street. In 1884 the post was incorporated by an act 
of the Legislature. 

In this connection it may be interesting to give the names of the 
veterans who were members of the post during the first year of its 
organization. They were: 

William H. Noble, Colonel. Albert W. Peck, First Lieuten- 

James E. Dunham, Captain. ant. 

J. R. Gumming. John M. Andrews. 

William H. Lacey, Captain, Charles F. Anderson. 



Henry Biebel, Captain. 
Theodore F. Bradley. 
John Beck. 
Eugene N. Botsford. 
Charles Bailey. 
James Burton. 
Allen G. Brady. 
Charles H. Brotherton. 
John H. Beck. 
Walter Baxter. 
Garrett D. Bonne. 
* Reuben Blake. 
Oscar R. Beers. 
Phao M. Beers. 
Homer S. Curtiss. 
E. N. Stebbins. 

Samuel E. Blinn, First Lieuten- 
Wheeler Hawley, 
Henry L. Cowles. 
L. M. Nichols. 
Anthony Aigeltinger. 
Alfred B. Beers, Captain. 
George F. Blinn. 
Frederick A. Booth. 
Wesley H. Botsford. 
S. G. Bailey. 
James Bozwortli. 
Frederick C. Bowman. 
Roderick S. Beers. 
Cyrus T. Bachelder. 
John C. Bayles. 
John F. Bartlett. 
Hiram H. Blish. 
Samuel Bmr. 
Charles E. Beers. 
Frederick H. Carpenter. 
H. B. Chamberlain. 
George S. Crofutt. 
Marcus Coon, Captain. 
James CafTrey. 

Henry L. Crampton. 

Frederick N. Cox. 

John B. Clark, Lieutenant. 

Alexander Doran. 

William F. Dailey. 

Andrew J. Davis. 

Burr H. French. 

Wilson French, Captain. 

E. N. Goodwin, Lieutenant. 

Russell Glenn. 

James G. Gkwdwin. 

Miles W. Gray, Lieutenant. 

William C. Geddes. 

William L. Hubbell, Captain. 

George Hill. 

Justus B. Hawley, Lieutenant. 

Samuel O. Hodges. 

T. M. Holcomb. 

John R. HuU. 

John Harvey, Lieutenant. 

Charles Hull. 

Franklin H.Hull.' 

Orris S. Jennings. 

John Johnson. 

Michael Kelley. 

Rudolph Kost, Lieutenant. 

Henry Krouse. 

Edward H. Lyon. 

David B. Lockwood. 

Moses Lonsella. 

William H. May, Captain. 

George N. Munger, Lieutenant. 

Louis N. Middlebrook, Captain. 

Rufus Mead, Jr. 

Jesse S. Nash. 

Joseph W. North. 

G. Ohnesorg, 

Charles E. Plumb. 

A. D. Powers. 

William W. Pardee. 

Henry W. Pettitt. 




George A. Parkington. 
Ashael Porter. 
William Rexinger. 
Lyman L. Rose. 
Lorenzo E. Snow. 
Charles E. Shelton. 
Henry L. Sturges. 
John H. Stratton. 
George D. Squires. 
Frederick Smedel. 
William H. Smith. 
Horace E. Sherwood. 
William R. Spencer, 
J. F. Tupper. 
Benjamin H. Toquet. 
George E. Underhill. 
Rohert Wilson. 
David R. Waters. 
Elliott M. Curtis, Slajor. 
Pierce D. Colburn. 
Lyman S. Catlin, Lieutenant. 
Henry R. Chaffee, Lieutenant. 
Dwight H. Cowles. 
William E. Dishrow. 
Jacob Dietrich. 
Charles Dimon. 
Montgomery Egbert. 
William Finnemore. 
E. D. S. Goodyear, Lieutenant- 
William Geilner. 
R. Charles Gotschalk. 
Steadman Greenwood. 
James L. Green. 
Robert Hubbard. 
James Hanford. 
H. K. Hall. 

Charles W. Hall, Captain. 
Walter S. Hotchkiss, Captain. 
O. H. Hibbard. 
Charles F. Hall. 

Charles Hurd. 
Peter Haefner. 
Alvin S. Hunt. 
D. Homer Jennings. 
Thomas Knablin. 
Justin S. Keeler. 
Robert Lander. 
John Laurie. 

Bennett L. Lewis, Captain. 
Stephen C. Lewis. 
Moses M. Mills. 
Robert H. Marvin. 
^ViIliam H. Mallory, Major. 
George C. Morris. 
William B. Nichols. 
Isaac Northrop. 
Charles H. Orchard. 
Otis E. Porter. 
John T. Piatt. 
George Piatt. 
Jacob Powlouich. 
Addis E. Payne, Captain. 
George S. Quinn. 
Darwin S, Reade. 
John M. Speidel, Lieutenant- 
John G. Stevens, Lieutenant. 
Samuel B. Spinning. 
Henry Stagg. 
George E. Stowelt. 
George A. Staples. 
Joseph N. Shailer. 
Legi-and Stratton. 
William H. Smith. 
George H. Spall. 
James A. Thompson. 
John W. Thompson. 
Myron H. White. 
Joseph F. Wales. 
Lyman F. Warner. 



The Elias Howe, Jr., Woman's Relief Corps, No. 33, was organ- 
ized April 8, 1909. Lincoln Circle, No. 4, and Sheridan Circle, No. 7, 
Ladies of the Grand Army, are also active in Bridgeport. 


The modem order of Odd Fellows had its beginning in 1745 in a 
society organized in England under the name of "The Antient and 
]Most Noble Order of Bucks." Some authorities have tried to estab- 
lish the fact that the society was founded by some dissatisfied members 
of the Masonic fraternity, who hoped to make it a successful rival of 
that order, but the statement lacks authenticity. The oldest records of 
"The Antient and Most Noble Order of Bucks" are those of Aris- 
larchus Lodge, which held its meetings in the Globe Tavern in London. 
About 1773 the society began to decline, but a few lodges held on and 
finally succeeded in effecting a reorganization. George IV, when 
Prince of Wales, was admitted into the "Bucks" in 1780, and tradition 
says that on the occasion of his initiation the words "Odd Fellow" were 
used for the first time. 

In 1803 a grand lodge was organized in England, but six years 
later a lodge at Manchester withdrew and declared itself "Independ- 
ent." As a sort of self-constituted grand lodge it established a new 
order and in 1813 the "Manchester Unity, Independent Order of Odd 
Fellows," was founded. On December 26, 1806, Solomon Chambers 
and his son, John C. Chambers, who had been initiated into the order 
in England, organized an Odd Fellows lodge in New York, but it 
was short lived. Another attempt was made to establish a lodge in 
New York in 1816, under the auspices of the Manchester Unity, but 
it was also unsuccessful. In 1818 Thomas Wildey came over from 
England and settled in Baltimore, Maryland. He' had been made an 
Odd Fellow in England and soon after locating in Baltimore he 
began a search for other members of the order with a view to estab- 
lishing a lodge, even going so far as to advertise in the newspapers. 
His efforts bore fruit and on April 26, 1819, a lodge was instituted in 
Baltimore with Thomas Wildey, John Welch, John Cheatham, Rich- 
ard Rushworth and John Duncan as the charter members. This was 
really the introduction of Odd Fellowship into the United States. On 
September 23, 1842, the order in America separated from the Man- 
chester Unity and established a grand lodge for the United States and 
Canada. In those tivo countries there were about one and three-fourth 
millions of Odd Fellows in 1913. 



Connected with Odd Fellowship are also an Encampment, which 
is higher than the Lodge; a ladies' degree called the "Daughters of 
Rebekah"; and a semi-mihtary degree known as the "Patriarchs Mili- 

Pequonnock Lodge No. 4, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of 
Bridgeport, was established on June 11, 1841, just two years after the 
introduction of the order into Connecticut. The petition for this 
lodge was signed by George H. Johnson, John M. Wilson, Giison 
Landon, Samuel L. Eldred and George Walters, all local men. The 
first meetings were held in a small room in the upper story of No, 35 
Wall Street, but in Januarj', 1845, the lodge was moved to a large 
hall at 407 Water Street. 

On February 4, J847, Arcanum Lodge No. 41 was instituted, 
with the following first officers: Ira Morse, noble grand; W. H. 
Lacey, vice grand; W. H. Williams, secretary; L. C. Shepard, treas- 
urer. This lodge met with the Pequonnock Lodge. In 1856 the 
Arcanum Lodge surrendered its charter, but was reinstituted in 
March, 1875. In 1860 the Pequonnock Lodge also passed out, hut 
this was renewed February 2, 1869, on petition of Martin Concord, 
F. H. Stevens, J. L. Roberts, Ebenezer Wheeler and Lewis Sher- 
man, former members. Meetings were held at first on Water Street, 
but in January, 1871, the lodge moved into a hall over the Peoples 
Savings Bank, corner of Main and Bank streets, and on April 19, 
1878, to the upper story of the Burroughs Building, comer of Main 
and John. The present Odd Fellows Building, erected in 1910, is 
located at 1075-97 Broad Street. The new hall was dedicated June 

Steuben Lodge, No. 88, was instituted April 1, 1867. For » 
long time meetings were held at the old hall on Water Street, then 
in 1879 a removal was made to the Stanton Block on State Street. 
Meetings are now held at 164 State Street. 

I^essing Lodge, No. 94, was organized December 14, 1874. This 
lodge is composed of German members. Charity Rebekah Lodge, 
No, 4, and Friendship Lodge, No. 13, Daughters of Rebekah, were 
instituted May 7, 1870, and February 18, 1874, respectively. 

Stratfield Encampment No. 23, was instituted July 16, 1869, with 
seven charter members. Bridgeport Encampment, No. 22, was char- 
tered May 17, 1870. 

In 1876 East Bridgeport was considered of sufficient size to merit 
lodge meetings there, so on October 26th of that year the Samuel H. 








Harris Lodge, No. 99, was instituted. Thirty-eight members com- 
posed the first roll. 

Adelphian Lodge, No. 80, was organized April 29, 1897. The 
other lodges of the I. O. O. F. in Bridgeport are: Monitor Lodge, 
No. 88; Nutmeg Encampment, No. 53; Fidelity Rebekah Lodge, 
No. 6; Harmony Rebekah Lodge, No. 26; and Household of Ruth, 
No. 772, G. U. O. O. F.; also the Loyal Abraham Lincoln Lodge, 
No. 7674, I. O. O. F. Manchester Unity. 


On February 15, 1864, five clerks in Government offices at Wash- 
ington, D. C, met and listened to the reading of a ritual for a new 
fraternal organization that had been prepared by one of their num- 
ber. All were members of the Arion Glee Club and intimate associ- 
ates. They were Justus H. Rathbone, William H. Burnett, David 
L. Burnett, Robert A. Champion and Dr. Sullivan Kimball. The 
ritual, which was the work of Mr. Rathbone, was based upon the 
friendship of Damon and Pythias. It was approved by those who 
listened to its reading and the name "Knights of Pythias" was 
selected for the proposed order. Four days later Washington Lodge, 
No. 1, was instituted in Temperance Hall. 

Franklin Lodge, No. 2, was instituted at the Washington Navy 
Yard on April 12, 1864, and during the next six months several other 
lodges were foimded in the immediate vicinity of the national capi- 
ta]. Progress was slow until after the close of the great Civil war, all 
the lodges disbanded except Franklin, and the outlook was anything 
but eneotiraging. On May 1, 1866, members of Franklin Lodge 
and some of the others that had passed out of existence organized a 
grand lodge. During the next two years the order spread to Penn- 
sylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, New Jersey and Del- 
aware, and on May 13, 1868, the Supreme Lodge was organized by 
representatives from those states. Since then the order has spread 
to every state in the Union and into Canada. In 1915 the Knights 
of Pythias was the fourth largest of the fraternal societies, num- 
bering about three-fourths of a million members. Over a million 
and a half dollars were paid out in that year for relief and charity. 

The Uniform Rank was established in 1878. The manual of drill 
used is that of the United States army and in 1898 a number of offi- 
cers in the volunteer service in the Spanish- American war were taken 
from the Uniform Rank, Knights of Pythias. Another feature of 



the order is the "Dramatic Order Knights of Khorassan," and there 
is also a ladies degree, the members of which are called "Pythian 

The first lodge of the' Knights of Pythias in Bridgeport was 
Mithra, No. 8, established in 1867, shortly after the beginning of the 
order. There are now eight lodges of the Knights of Pythias in the 
city, the others being: Joseph Dowdall Lodge, No. 40; P. T. Bar- 
nuin Lodge, No. 58; Park City Lodge, No. 59; Shenandoah Lodge. 
No. 2; Pythian Sisters, Calanthe Temple, No. 19; and Company F, 
No. 21, Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias. 


About the close of the war in 1865, a number of "good fellows," 
most of whom were members of the theatrical profession, fell into 
the habit of meeting together and passing the evening in friendlr 
association, singing songs, "swapping yams," etc. In time a club 
was organized under the name of the "Jolly Corks." The adoption 
of this name is said to have been due to Charles Vivian, a young ' 
Englishman, who was one of the most active participants in the club 

In the winter of 1867-68 some one proposed that the club be 
used as the nucleus of a fraternal society. Then the objection was 
raised that the name "Jolly Corks," while proper for a local club, 
was not sufficiently dignified for a secret order. A committee was 
therefore appointed to select a more appropriate name and surest 
a ceremony of initiation. That committee chanced to visit Barnum's 
Museum, where they saw an elk and learned something of the habits 
of that animal. The name "Benevolent and Protective Order of 
Elks" was then proposed and was adopted. New York Lodge, No. 
1, was organized on February 16, 1868. 

For about three years, it was the only lodge in existence. On 
March. 10, 1871, it was incorporated as a grand lodge, with power 
to establish subordinate lodges in cities having a population of fi« 
thousand or more. The second lodge was organized in Philadelphia 
soon after the grand lodge was incorporated. On April 18, 1876, the 
third lodge was instituted at San Francisco. Within five years lodges 
had been established in all the leading cities of the United States, 
and in 1915 there was scarcely a city in the Union with the requisite 
population of 5,000 that had not its "Elks' Club." The order had 



spread to Alaska, the Philippines and Hawaiian Islands^ the mem- 
bership in 1915 numbering about half a million. 

During the early history of the Elks the convivial feature was 
prominent, but in more recent years it has been subordinated to 
charitable work and the cultivation of a fraternal spirit. The initials 
"B. P. O. E." are sometimes said to stand for "Best People on 
Earth." The motto of the Elks is: "The faults of our brothers we 
write upon the sands; their virtues upon the tablets of love and 


In Bridgeport there are five divisions of the Knights of Colum- 
bus, all with a large membership. These are: Cordova Council; 
Park City Council, No. 16; Cecil Calvert Council, No. 38; Aragon 
Council, No. 127; and Rogers Council. 

Of the Ancient Order of United Workmen there are: Golden 
Hill Lodge, No. 35, organized October 8, 1888; Scandia Lodge, 
No. 58, organized May 4, 1892; Farren Lodge, No. 57, organized 
August 11, 1892. 

The Foresters of America are represented in Bridgeport by nine 
lodges, namely: Court Iranistan, No. 34; Court Marina, No. 53; 
Court Pequonnock, No. 62; Court Nathaniel Wheeler, No. 92; 
Court Park City, No. 99; Court Roma, No. 153; Catalpa Circle, No. 
14, Lady Foresters of America; Star of Pembroke Circle, No. 117; 
Catalpa Circle, No. 425; and Lucetta Warner Circk, No. 472. There 
is one lodge of the Independent Order of Foresters — that of Court 
Berkshire, No. 4722. 

There are in Bridgeport six lodges of the New England Order of 
Protection. These are as follows: Ida Lodge, No. 10; Park City 
Lodge, No. 68; Seaview Lodge, No. 231; Bridgeport Lodge, No. 
288; Schiller Lodge, No. 338; and Sterhng Lodge, No. 356. 

The United American Mechanics are represented in the city by 
Waldemere Council, No. 6; Uncas Council, No. 25; Bridgeport 
Council, No. 6, junior; Harmony Council, No. 12, junior; Miller 
Commandery, No. 12, L. L. 0.*U. A. M.; Betsey Ross Council, No. 
19, Daughters of Liberty; and Lady Howe Council, No. 88, Daugh- 
ters of Liberty. 

Of the Woodmen of the World Lodge there are: John C. Tuthill 
Camp, No. 1; Kossuth Camp, No. 14; Pioneer Camp, No. 17; Live 
Oak Camp, No. 18; East End Camp, No. 50; Park Citj- Camp, No. 



59; Bridgeport Camp, No. 95; Live Oak Uniform Rank; Woodmen 
Circle, Ivy Grove, No. 1 ; and Woodmen Circle, Kossuth Grove, \o. 
2. The J. C. Tuthill Camp, No. 1, maintains a Sick Benefit Asso- 

There are two organizations under the head of Sons of Veterans 
— Franklin Bartlett Camp, No. 11, S. of V., and Angeline H. Bart- 
lett Tent, No. 4, Daughters of Veterans. One lodge of the United 
Spanish War Veterans, the Lieut. N. W. Bishop Camp, No. 3, is 
active in Bridgeport. 

Other lodges are: Henr>- A. Bishop Lodge, No. Ill, Brother- 
hood of Railway Trainmen; Denmark Lodge, No. 37, Danish Broth- 
erhood; Troskab Lodge, No. 16, Danish Sisterhood; Daughters of 
American Revolution, Marj* Silliman Chapter; Daughters of the 
Royal Arcanum ; Daughters of Scotia; Daughters of St. George; Fra- 
ternal Order of Eagles; German American Central Bund; Improved 
Order of Red Men, Konckapotanauh Tribe, No. 30 ; also Woroompon 
Tribe, No. 40, and Kyota Council, No. 16; Harmony Lodge, Xo. 
711, Independent Order of B'nai B'rith; Bridgeport Lodge, No. 
289, Loyal Order of Moose ; Americiis Tent, No. 3, The Maccabees, 
also Tent No. 4; Dewey Camp, No. 7033, Modem Woodmen of Amer- 
ica; Beloin Camp, No. 9395, N. W. A.; five lodges of the Order of 
Shepherds of Bethlehem; Violet Camp, No. 4241, Royal Neighbors 
of America ; Sons of the American Revolution ; and two lodges of the 
Sons of St. George. 

The Bridgeport Lodge, No. 36, Benevolent and Protective Order 
of Elks, was organized September 20, 1885, with 110 members. 
From the first this lodge assumed an important place in the social and 
charitable life of the city and has always been maintained upon a 
plane of high excellence and capability. In 1908 the large Elk's 
Home on State Street was erected. 

y. M. c. A. 

In 1868 the first organization toward the establishment of a 
Young Men's Christian Association in Bridgeport was effected. 
Dabney Carr was chosen president of this organization ; Henry Stir- 
ling, Emory F. Strong and R. P. Chapman, vice presidents; C. P- 
Porter, treasurer; and William F. Fosket, secretary. A certain 
amount of work was accomplished by this small force, but for vari- 
ous reasons the work was discontinued in 1872, four years after the 



I h'jlic library 



In June, 1883, however, there was fonned the Young Men's 
Christian Association of Bridgeport; the association was incorpo- 
rated one year afterward. The first oiGcers of the new organization 
were: Dr. I. de Ver. Warner, president; D. W. Kissani, Daniel E. 
Marsh, Marshall E- Morris, vice presidents; F. W. Marsh, treasurer; 
Dr. W. H. Donaldson, recording secretarj", W. E. CoUey, general 
secretary; and George Munger, auditor. At first rooms were se- 
cured for the housing of the association, but before many months had 
passed the increasing scope of the work and the addition of numerous 
members brought the need of larger and more comfortable quarters. 
The need was answered by Dr. I. de Ver. Warner, the president, 
in October, 1888, when he gave to the society the lot on the north- 
west comer of Main and Gilbert streets. Here, on June 3, 1890, 
was laid the cornerstone of the present Y. M. C. A. building. Sen- 
ator Chauncey M. Depew spoke the oration at the time. The build- 
ing itself, which is the work of Architect W. R. Briggs and cost 
?150,000, was opened in 1891. 

The Young Women's Christian Association was established in 

Bridgeport , and occupies quarters on Broad 

Street, opposite the Federal Building. 

Similar to the Y. M. C. A. in purpose and effort is the Boys' 
Club, organized in 1887- The object of this club is to provide recrea- 
tion and educational facilities for boys who otherwise would not have 
such advantages. The building used for this purpose is located on 
the comer of Middle and Gold streets. The officers of the club are: 
Henry A. Bishop, president; Frederick A. Strong, secretary; Ho- 
bart E. French, treasurer. The Boys' Club was incorporated in 


One of the first purely social clubs in Bridgeport was the Eclec- 
tic Club, organized in 1870 by the young men of the town. The first 
club rooms of this organization were on the second floor of the 
Wheeler Building, comer of Fairfield Avenue and Main Street. 
Afterward the club moved to the Curtis Building, comer of Main 
and Elm streets, and lastly to the Burroughs Building, occupying 
the second floor, now a part of the public library. For a score of 
years this club prospered, was patronized by older men as well as 
young, and was one of the most popular organizations in the city. 
In 1890 the members disbanded. Among the presidents of the club 



were: George C. Waldo, Sr., Morris W. Seymour, William H. Ste- 
venson, R, T. Clark, Greorge L. Porter and John E. Pond. 

What is now the Seaside Club was originally a driving club, and 
was organized in 1884 with the following officers: E. P. Ives, presi- 
dent; E. G. Burnham, Francis Ives, vice presidents; Frank J. Xar- 
ramore, secretary; and Charles F. Williams, treasurer. The driving 
feature of the club was afterwards abolished and it became a social 
club only. The first rooms occupied by the Seaside Club were located 
at 844 Main Street, second and third floors. In 1888 the members 
purchased the lot on the southeast comer of State and Lafayette 
streets and there built the present club house. This building was 
opened September 19, 1891, the club occupying rooms in the Wheeler 
Block for a short time before the removal. The club was incorpo- 
rated April 5, 1889. The officers in 1917 are: Dr. Frank M. Tur- 
key, president; Harvey C. Irving, secretary; and Robert A. Lewis, 

The Seaside Outing Club is a subordinate organization of the 
Seaside Club and was organized in 1894. A club house is maintained 
at 215 Seaview Avenue for the members. George M. Eames is 
president of this club and H. L. Blorehouse, secretary and treasurer. 

The Algonquin Club was organized October 5, 1892. Rooms are 
kept at 211 State Street. The officers are: Robert J. LjTich, presi- 
dent; R. Irwin Smith, secretary; Thad B. Beecher, treasurer. 

Other prominent clubs in the City of Bridgeport are: the Black 
Rock Yacht Club, organized March 20, 1915; the Bridgeport Club, 
organized November 1, 1900; Brooklawn Country Club, incorpo- 
rated March, 1914, but organized about 1896; Mohawk Yacht Club, 
organized 1908; Park City Yacht Club, organized July 6, 1896; 
Pequonnock Yacht Club, organized 1905; University Club, incopo- 
rated 1905. 




The public schools of Bridgeport are managed at the present 
time by a commission of twelve men called the board of education. 
About fifty years ago and prior thereto the city was divided into 
eleven districts independent of each other. They could lay and col- 
lect their own taxes, build schoolhouses and employ school teachers to 
instruct the children. Once a year a school meeting was called when 
a committee of three citizens was elected to take care of the district 
school property and engage the teachers. Each district received from 
the state school fund the sum of $2.25 for each child enumerated be- 
tween the ages of four and sixteen years, and was supposed to lay a 
tax for the balance needed. 

The general results of these schools were never satisfactory to 
the school visitors and the public in general. While one district would 
be willing to tax themselves, engage the best teachers, and conse- 
quently turn out good scholars, another district would be handicapped 
by a vote of the school meeting, refusing to lay a sufficient tax, and 
compelling the committee to do the best they could with the state 
money to the detriment of the children. 

For some years the matter of bringing all the districts together 
under one head was agitated in town meetings, but the public was 
evenly divided and nothing could be done. It was so much spoken 
of in the newspapers, however, that finally in order to test the senti- 
ment in a legitimate way the question was embraced in the warning 
of the annual town meeting on the first Monday in April, 1876. 

Franklin Hall on State Street was crowded to the doors on the 
afternoon of that "day. After a chairman and clerk were elected it 
was voted the school question should be decided by ballot and the 
voting list be used. A short recess was taken, ballot box and voting 
lists were secured, and "Yes" for consolidation and "No" against it 
were poured into the box as fast as the voters could be checked. It 
was long after 8 P. M. before the ballot box was closed. The oppo- 



sition to consolidation seemed to be predominating, but much to the 
surprise of everyone the affirmative was successful (Ves, 2,085; No, 

A second town meeting for April 12, 1876, to elect a school com' 
mittee of six, nine or twelve citizens to carry out the vote of the town, 
'was called. The meeting was held in Franklin Hall again. It was 
agreed to vote for a committee of twelve and use the voting lists and 
ballot box again. There were two tickets in the field, one with twelve 
democrats and the other with six democrats and six republicans. The 
non-partisan ticket was elected with 1,781 against 1,334 for the other 
ticket. The following were declared elected: James C. Loomis, 
Daniel H. Sterling, Frederick W. Zingseni, James Staples, Dr. A. 
H. Abemethy, Henry T. Shelton, Andrew Burke, Edward Sterling, 
Joseph D. Alvord, David Ginand, Geo. W. Bacon and Julius S. 

The new board immediately organized by electing , James C. 
Loomis, president, and Henry T. Shelton, secretarj'. 

The twelve men were divided into three groups of four to sene 
for one, two and three years, and four groups of three as commit- 
tees for schools, school buildings, supplies and finance. The follow- 
ing districts were united under the supervision of this board of edu- 
cation, viz.: 

Bridgeport District, eleven-room schoolhouse. Prospect Street. 

Golden Hill, two-room schoolhouse, High Street. 

Washington School, six-room schoolhouse, Pequonnock Street. 

Union, six-room schoolhouse. Grand Street. 

Old South, one-room schoolhouse, Iranistan Avenue. 

Island Brook, four-room schoolhouse. North Avenue. 

Pembroke, one-room schoolhouse. Old Mill Green. 

Bamum, three buildings, eight rooms, on plot bounded by Noble 
Avenue, Arctic, Harriet and Maple streets, which plot P. T. Bamum 
gave in exchange for the lot on Bamum Avenue, where the Park 
Street Congregational Church now stands. 

Sterling Street, two rooms. Sterling Street. 

Jane Street, two rooms, Jane Street. 

Waltersville, six rooms, Hamilton Street. 

East Bridgeport, two rooms, Nichols Street. 

Black Rook, two rooms, Brewster Street, 
and that part of Toilsome Hill and school No. 21 in the town limits, 
the sclioolhouses being in Fairfield. 



At that time in the whole town there were eighty-three teachers 
employed in sixty-five rooms exclusive of recitation rooms. The cost 
of the schools the year previous was $53,855 for maintenance, and 
$6,181.73 for buildings and repairs. 

Mr. H. M. Harrington was elected superintendent of schools by 
the board, and acted as such for fourteen years. Considerable work 
was accomplished by him and the different committees in order to 
get the schools working under one head. The greatest difficulty 
staring the new board in the face was the lack of room for housing 
the children properly. The old fashion town meetings were in vogue 
at that time, and it was the hardest work to get enough money appro- 
priated to buy land and build schoolhouses as they were needed. As 
a makeshift the board rented stores and dwellings and fitted them up 
for temporary use. 

Mr. Joseph M. Sanger laid a plan before the board of a portable 
one-room building which could be built in sections and put up in any 
school yard for temporary use and taken apart and transferred when 
wanted somewhere else. They could be built for $700 to $900 apiece. 
The board was favorably inclined to try one or two of them, and 
ordered Mr. Sanger to build them. They answered the purpose so 
well that more of them were ordered. At the present time there 
are fifteen in use. While the board was satisfied that this was a bet- 
ter plan than rented store and dwellings, the public was disgrun- 
tled, sajing that it was a disgrace for a city like Bridgeport to teach 
children in such bamlike buildings. 

After the board of apportionment was created to take the place 
of the old town meetings, it was a little easier to get the appropria- 
tion, but still the board was unable to furnish rooms enough for the 
growing city. At a meeting of the board of apportionment in Feb- 
ruary, 1899, a resolution was passed to lay a tax of one mill on the 
grand list every year, the proceeds of which to be used exclusively 
for buying land and building new buildings until such time as the 
city would be amply provided with new schoolhouses. With the pro- 
ceeds of this tax governed by the resolution the erection of new build- 
ings was carried on. 

When the Borough of West Stratford was annexed to the City 
of Bridgeport the board of education had to take over two schools. 
One building had burned down and was not built up again, and the 
other was too small, in need of extensive repairs and wholly inade- 
quate for the purpose for which it was used. The board made a con- 
tract with James Spargo to build a building on Stratford Avenue for 



rental, whidi could be temporarily used for school purposes until 
such time as a new schoolhouse could be erected. 

The following named citizens were added to the board in place of 
others whose services had expired, or who had resigned or died: 


James C. Loomis (deceased) , elected 1876, first president. Sen-ed 
11^ years. 

Daniel H. Sterling (deceased), elected 1876, first vice president 
Ser\'ed one year. 

Henrj' T. Shelton (deceased), elected 1876, first secretary. 
Served three years. 

John D. Alvord (deceased), elected 1876, resigned. Served one 

Dr. A, H. Abemethey (deceased), elected 1876. Served eight 

David Ginand, elected 1876, as member. Served eighteen years. 
Served sixteen years as agent. 

Julius Hanover (deceased), elected 1876, second president and 
president. Served twelve years. Served five years as agent. 

Andrew Burke (deceased), elected 1876. Served three years. 

James Staples, elected 1876. Served six years. 

F. W. Zingsem (left city), elected 1876. Served six years. 

Edward Sterling (deceased), elected 1876. Served three years. 

George W. Bacon (deceased), elected 1876. Served three years. 

Edward W. Marsh (deceased), elected 1877, secretary. Served 
six years. 

D. N. Morgan, elected 1877. Served three years. 

Nathaniel Wheeler (deceased) , elected 1878. Served fifteen years. 

Rev. Thomas J. Synnott (deceased), elected 1878. Served six 

George C. Waldo, elected 1880. Served three years. 

Emory F. Strong (deceased), elected 1880. Served one year. 

George N. French (deceased), elected 1882. Served three years. 

Warren W. Porter (deceased), elected 1883. Elected April, 
resigned July, 1888. Served three months. 

Marshal E. Morris, elected 1888. Served three years. 

Henry Cowd (deceased), elected 1888. Served six years. 

Dr. Thomas F. Martin, elected 1884. Served six years. 



Emory F. Strong (deceased), elected 1884, second election, vice 
president. Served twelve years. 

W. B. Hincks (deceased), elected 1884, acted as secretary. 
Served three years. 

Morris B. Beardsley, elected 1884, acted as secretary. Served 
four years. 

John H. Colgan, elected 1885. Served six years. 

Wilfred E. Norton (deceased), elected 1886. Served three 

Joel Farist, elected 1888. Served three years. 

Chas. F. Williams, elected 1888, acted as secretary. Served two 

Edward F. Hallen (deceased), elected 1890, acted as secretary. 
Ser\'ed twenty years. 

Joseph J. Rose (deceased), elected 1890, Served three years. 

George Watson (deceased), elected 1890, acted as secretary. 
Served three years. 

Dr. Fred K. Rice (left city), elected 1891. Served three years. 

Patrick Coughlin (deceased), elected 1891. Served nine years. 

David F. Read (deceased), elected 1892, acted as vice president. 
Served fifteen years. 

Henry C. Coggswell (deceased), elected 1892. Served seven 

Frank Miller, elected 1892. Served six years. 

Frank Kinsley, elected 1892. Se^^'ed six years. 

John C. Shelton (deceased), elected 1893. Served eight years. 

John N. Near, elected 1893. Ser^'ed six years. 

Peter Gabriel (deceased), elected 1894, acted as vice president. 
Served nine years. 

Frank M. Canfield, elected 1894. Served three years. 

Dr. Clarence M. Payne, elected 1895. Ser%'ed three years. 

Elmer S. Young, elected 1895. Served three years. 

Dr. George L. Porter, elected 1896. Served three years. 

Dr. Chas. C. Godfrey, elected 1896. Served nine years. 

D. N. Morgan, elected 1898. Ser\'ed six years. 

Dr. Reuben Lockhart, elected 1898. Served six years. 

Dr. Chas. L. Baker (deceased), elected 1898. Ser\'ed four years. 

W. H. Marigold, elected 1899, acted as president. Served twelve 

William Lieberura (deceased), elected 1899, acted as president. 
Served fifteen years. 



A. M. Wooster, elected 1902. Served nine years. 
Elmer H. Havens, elected 1908, president at present time. 
Howard S. Challenger, elected 1904. Still a member. 
John F. Brady, elected 1904. Served nine years. 
Dr. Murray Johnson, elected 1904. Served nine years. 
Thomas McDonald (deceased) , elected 1904. Served eight years. 
Andrew Duka, elected 1905. Served three years. 
Dr. David Monahan, elected 1906. Served six years. 
John J. Cullinan, elected 1907. Served eight years. 
Richard H. Murphy, elected 1907. Served six years. 
A. William Bell, elected 1908. Now a member. 
A. E. Veness (left city), elected 1911. Served one year. 
Nathaniel W. Bishop, elected 1911. Now a member. 
W. R. Webster, Jr., elected 1911. Now a member. 
Wm. B. Boardman, elected 1912. Now secretary. 
Dr. Geo. W. Osborne, elected 1912. Now a member. 
William Ryan, elected 1912. Served three years. 
John J. Hurley, elected 1918. Now a member. 
Louis F. Schwetdtle, elected 1913. Now a member. 
Robert D. Goddard, elected 1914. Now a menjber. 
Dr. Chas. G. Godfrey (2nd election), elected 1915. Now 8 

Henry H. De Loss, elected 1915. Now a member. 

The first aim of the board of education was the building of new 
buildings, and the establishment of a high school and training school- 
In conjunction with the board of selectmen the money was procured 
(1884) to build two eight-room buildings, one on Myrtle Avenue, 
and the other on North Avenue, corner of Oak Street, the cost of 
which was $37,000. 

Ahigh school was opened in the two highest rooms of Prospect 
Street School with Charles D. Peck as principal and Miss Marble and 
Miss Miner as assistants. Mr. Peck resigned after one year's service to 
take up the ministry and Mr. Paddock succeeded him. A training 
school was established in the lowest room of Prospect Street School 
\ with Sarah E. White as principal. 

The next pressure came from the North End where children had 
to go to the Town of Trumbull for their nearest school, none being 
in the city limits above Grand Street. A piece of land was bought 
at the point of Beechmont and Main streets, near T«esiny AvenuCr 
and a one-room schoolhouse built at a cost of $1,000 (1884). 



The next thing the board of education took up was separate build- 
ings for the high and training schools. On February 4, 1880, a com- 
mittee of twenty selected by the town reported for approval the lot 
on Congress Street for a high school building. The lot was accepted 
and Messrs. Wheeler, Waldo and Marsh together with the chairman 
of the building committee were appointed a committee to have plans 
made and a high school building erected. 

The committee organized immediately by electing Mr. Nathaniel 
Wheeler as chairman, and Warren R. Briggs as architect. Consid- 
erable time and labor were spent to get at a mode of ventilating the 
building. Mr. Wheeler insisted that it should be done automatically, 
and went to considerable expense and labor experimenting to find 
the proper way to do it. It was finally decided to have two large 
shafts in the center of the building with two openings for each room, 
have immense steam circulating coils at the bottom of these shafts 
boxed in with sheet iron, from the top of which sheet iron pipes of the 
proper size were to convey the heated air to each room, the cold air 
was to be taken from the outside eight feet from the ground, led to 
the bottom of the shaft underneath the steam coils, and thus run . 
through the coils to be heated. The heated air would enter from 
the inside wall of the school room, pass over to the cold outside wall, 
and as it cooled off descend and be drawn into the shaft through the 
opening even with the floor, the shaft being heated to create draft by 
the heating pipes running through it. The board was a little skepti- 
cal at first to adopt this mode of ventilation, so Mr. Wheeler at his own 
expense had a miniature room built of glass with inlets and outlets, used 
ice on the supposed outside wall of the room, and had an inlet and out- 
let on the supposed inside wall. With the members of the board 
present he introduced smoke into the glass room through the inlet, 
and after he had it as dense as he could make it applied a torch to the 
outlet and after a few minutes the smoke would pass gradually out 
of the outlet, and as the smoke was still coming through the inlet one 
could see it make the circuit to the outlet. This convinced the board 
of its practicability and there was no more opposition to the Wheeler 
system. Mr. Briggs, the architect, was ordered to go ahead and have 
the plans perfected as soon as possible. Mr. George Tumey took 
the contract for $64,000, and gave a bond for $5,000. The work of 
building was running along quite smoothly for a while, when Mr. 
Turney found that he would be the loser on the job. He was willing 
to forfeit his bond to be released from the contract, but the building 
committee prevailed upon him to finish the building, and they would 



try to have his loss made good. The building was finished October 
30, 1882. Mr. Turney claimed to be the loser of $22,000. A town 
meeting was called to hear the report of the building committee, who 
recommended that $10,000 be paid Mr. Turney, which sum was cut 
down to $5,000 and passed. Mr. Wm. K. Seeley, Mr. Tumey's attor- 
ney, said it would have to be either $22,000 or a lawsuit. For two 
years the matter was in court and at the end of the suit Mr. Turney 
was awarded $2,000. 

An evening drawing school was established in 1880 and ran along 
for three winters with Julian H. Sterling as tutor, and some very 
good draughtsmen were turned out. 

A commercial course was started in the high school which was 
largely attended. 

The building of a training school was taken up in 1888, Prior to 
that additions were built to Jane, Sterling and Nichols Street schools. 
Mr. Briggs was instructed to make plans for the training school 
building, the lot being situated on Clinton Avenue running through 
to Colorado Avenue. The school was completed in 1889 at a cost, 
with the land, of $60,000. 

The Sunimerfield School was next attended to, an eight-ro<Hn 
building was erected on the land taken from West Stratford, at a cost 
of about $40,000. It was put in use in December, 1881. At the same 
time the Barnum District was taken into consideration. There were 
three small buildings on the large square lot on Noble Avenue, which 
were removed and a twenty-room building with assembly hall was 
contracted for with Mr. H. M. Purdy for $84,000, which was finished 
and occupied in October, 1892 (Longstaff and Hurd were the archi- 

The next pressure came from Golden Hill District and the West 
End. Land was bought on Sanford Avenue, 150 by 216 feet, run- 
ning through to Highland Avenue, and on Maplewood Avenue, 200 
by 250 feet, running through to Linwood Avenue. Eight-room 
brick buildings were erected thereon under the supervision of Long- 
staiF and Hurd for $27,000 each. They were ready for occupancy 
January 1, 1894. The building on Sanford Avenue was called the 
Wheeler School in honor of Mr. Nathanial ^Vheeler, During the 
years 1891 and 1892 under the superintendence of Doctor Bouton, 
Mr. Harrington's successor, there were more or less complaints from 
parents about their children not getting along as fast as expected. 
Most of the school rooms were overcrowded so that the teachers could 
not do justice to their work, and the change of superintendents, with 



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the new man trying hard to bring about a betterment in schooling, 
had the effect of making the board of education impatient, and after 
a sharp debate, pro and con, they voted to dispense with the services 
of Doctor Bouton, the superintendent, and try a new man. Dr. C. 
W. Deane, one of the applicants, came highly recommended, and 
was elected in 1893, and ser\'ed the board over twenty years, when 
he resigned, his resignation was reluctantly accepted. 

Under Doctor Deane's regime the legislature was petitioned by 
the board to build a slate normal school in Bridgeport, which met 
with favor and was adopted. It was the intention of Doctor Bou- 
ton's friendis to recommend him for principal, for which he was con- 
sidered highly capable, but on joint meetings of the board and the 
board of education of the slate no agreement could be reached, the 
state board making the conditions such that the school board could 
not accept them, and the whole thing fell through, the board not being 
willing to yield the control of some of their schools to the state as 
long as they had to pay for the maintenance of them. 

The schools made good progress imder Doctor Deane. The 
vacancies in the teaching corps were filled by the graduates of our 
own training school. The only drawback continually staring the 
board of education in the face was the lack of schoolhouses. 

A wooden building of foxu- rooms was built on the school grounds 
of Waltersville School on Hamilton Street in 1895, and the Lincoln 
School on Stratford Avenue was put under contract by Mr. Briggs, 
the architect. It was finished and occupied in October, 1897. 

After the board of apportionment in January, 1899, voted to allow 
the one mill tax on the grand list annually for school buildings only,- 
which was expected to yield about $80,000 or more per year, land was 
bought at the corner of Sterling and Kossuth streets, and on Bost- 
wick Avenue, and an eight-room brick building on each lot was 
built. The Kossuth Street School cost about $43,000 and the Bost- 
wick Avenue School $44,500 with equipment. A change was made 
in the ventilation of these buildings, so that the foul air of each room 
would exhaust into a separate flue of the shaft instead of all the 
rooms exhausting into one open shaft, the flues having a small radia- 
tor put in to create heat and a draft. 

The two buildings were finished and occupied in September, 1900. 
Some time previous to this land was bought on Wheeler Avenue and 
Alice Street for the erection of a building to relie\'e the pressure 
on Grand Street and Oak Street. Mr. Henry Howe, the architect. 



was engaged to prepare plans for a sixteen-room building with assem- 
bly hall. After plans were perfected and adopted by the board, it 
was decided to leave Off two wings of two rooms each to be built later. 
The twelve rooms with basements and assembly hall were contracted 
for and occupied in November, 1901. Mr. John C. Shelton pre- 
sented a large tower clock and bell to the school, which was thereupon 
named the Shelton School. The cost for land and equipment was 

The matter of physical training was approached this time by Mr. 
David Ginand, a member of the board, and a committee was ap- 
pointed to visit schools where such training was in vogue. The com- 
mittee after visiting several cities were highly pleased with the physical 
work done, and recommended that physical culture be introduced 
into our schools, which recommendation was adopted, and Harvey C. 
Went was selected as instructor. 

Mr. J. C. Witter was appointed special instructor for writing 
and drawing, and Mr. F, E. Howard for vocal music. 

Mr. James Spargo, who had bought the brewery property adjoin- 
ing the Waltersville School, made an offer to the board to sell part 
of that property to give the school lot more depth. A committee was 
appointed who made an agreement with Mr. Spargo for fifty feet of 
the extreme eastern front at a price of $6,500. It would make tlie 
lot about 253 by 140 feet. The board approved of the transaction, 
and an eight-room brick building was built on Gilmore Street, the 
eastern end of the lot, and the old brick building torn down, and 
twelve more rooms built in extension of the Gilmore Street School, 
the whole cost was $89,82776. 

The crowding at Maplewood School at this time (1904) was so 
great that the board was obliged to use portable buildings until an 
addition was built on both ends of the building which was ready for 
use in August, 1905, the cost was about $18,000 for each. 

The Huntington Road School was built at the same time. Mr. 
Henry Lambert, the architect, had planned a wooden eight-room 
building at first, but before it was put under contract it was changed 
to a ten-room brick building which was finished in October, 1905, the 
cost with land and equipment was about $60,000. 

The old Black Rock School on Brewster Street having outlived 
its usefulness, a four-room brick building was put up. The land for 
this was bought as early as March, 1899, but other buildings being 
more pressing nothing was done toward building until 1905. 

The number of children of school age increasing from year to 



year, being about 800 more in 1906, which meant sixteen more school 
rooms, and on account of other pressing expenses of the city the one 
mill tax having been cut down to three-fourths mill by the board of 
apportionment that year, the school board found itself in a dilemma 
as to furnishing the necessary buOdings fast enough. Land was 
bought on NewBeld Avenue and an eight-room brick building put up 
at a cost of $50,000 for land and equipment. It was occupied in 
November, 1906. 

Mr. Witter resigned as drawing and writing supervisor, and Miss 
Anne D. Hallock was appointed for drawing and art work, and Mr. 
Prince for writing supervisor. Miss Cora M. Purviance took the 
place of Mr. F. E. Howard, deceased, as supervisor of vocal music. 
Mr. Alfred E. Eagan was appointed supply clerk March 18, 1907. 

The committee that had been appointed to look up land for an 
additional school in the Lincoln District recommended a lot on Kel- 
sey Street running through from Hollister Avenue to Logan Street, 
which could be bought for $6,300. The recommendation was adopted 
and the committee instructed to buy it. Mr. Ernest G. Southey was 
a])pointed architect, and Messrs. Marigold, Monahan and Lieberum 
as committee to have the building erected. Mr. Southey refused to 
serve, for the commission ofTered, and Mr. C. T. Beardsley was 
appointed in. his place, and was given the Jane Street School addi- 
tion to build at the same time. Messrs. D. F. Read, A. M. Wooster, 
Thomas F. MacDonald and Doctor Johnson were the committee, at 
the time land was bought adjoining the Bostwick Avenue School, 
and Architect Joseph O'Brien was selected to make the plans foi 
an eight-room addition under Messrs. Havens, Duka, Challenger 
and Brady as building committee. Inasmuch as the appropriation 
for school buildings might not be suflScient when part payments became 
due for these buildings, the committee were instructed to insert a 
paragraph in the contracts, that in such a case the contractor would 
have to wait until the new appropriation would be available in April, 

The school on Kelsey Street, called the McKinley School, cost 
with land and equipment $55,000. The one on Jane Street was 
called the Staples School, and cost with equipment and alterations 
of the old buildings $53,840. The addition to the Bostwick Avenue 
School was called Longfellow and cost with land and equipment 
$59,500. The three schools were ready and occupied at the begin- 
ning of the school year in autumn, 1908. 

Medical inspection and free kindergartens were introduced in 



1908. Fire escapes were put on the High and Prospect Street 
schools. The school on Grand Street was remodeled so as to gain 
two more class rooms and an annex building of six rooms to be built 
on the Maplewood Avenue School lot was voted by the board. Joseph 
Northrop was selected as the architect to plan and have it built. It 
cost with equipment $84,570, and was occupied in June, 1909. 

In May, 1908, the board voted to remodel Prospect Street School 
so as to improve sanitary conditions, and have better exits from the 
main and wing buildings. Mr. C. T. Beardsley was the architect, 
and the cost amounted to $16,000. 

The senior class of 1908 of the high school donated a gift of $230. 
the interest of which was to be used for graduate prizes. 

Mr. Long of Burr Knapp appeared before the board asking 
to convey some land of the Black Rock School to them for a street, 
so that it would be accepted by the common council. They would be 
ivilling to stand the expense of sewer, sidewalk and retaining wall. 
He was requested to make his proposition in writing, but such writ- 
.ing was not handed in, and after several months Messrs. Burr and 
Knapp were given leave to withdraw. 

Mr. E. G. Southey presented a bill of $1,250 for plans for the 
proposed alterations of the Prospect Street School, but his plans 
not having been used the bill was rejected, and Mr. Southey went to 
law about it and had $600 awarded to him by the court. 

Miss Mary Jackson was appointed supervisor of art education 
February 1, 1909, in place of Miss Anne D. Hallock, resigned. 

In June, 1909, the board voted to establish a school for domestic 
science, and a room in the Wheeler School was fitted up' for that 
purpose. It was so well patronized and so highly spoken of that 
another was fitted up for the East Side at the Bamum School, and 
two others were contemplated to be built later on. 

Manual training was started at the same time, and rooms fitted 
up in Kossuth Street, Bryant, Prospect and Shelton schools. 

A petition was handed in by Maj. Thomas Boudren protesting 
against compulsory vaccination of school children. He used such 
strong arguments that in conjunction with the board of health a pub- 
lic hearing was called to hear both sides. Most all physicians ex- 
pressed themselves in favor of vaccination, but as most parents 
opposed it and refused to obey the rules regarding it, the board of 
education voted on November 8, 1909, to rescind all rules on vaccina- 

The pressure for more room was greatest at the extreme ends of 



the city, viz.: Summerfield and Black Rock School in 1908-9. It was 
voted to buy a strip of land in the rear of Summerfield and built a 
nine-room addition thereon, and also build an addition to the Black 
Rock School. Mr. Beardsley was appointed as architect for the lat- 
ter. It cost about $35,000, and was put in use at the beginning of 
the school year 1909. At the Summerfield School the board had 
a little trouble in procuring the land in the rear, but it was finally 
bought, and Architect Joseph Northrop put up the building so it 
could be used in September, 1910, the cost was $45,350. 

At a meeting of the board in March, 1909, the matter of a new 
high school was approached, and a resolution was adopted to call a 
public meeting in regard to asking for a bond issue of $800,000, after- 
wards changed to $400,000, to build a new high school. It dragged 
along favorably until in 1910 when Mr. CulUnan was instructed to 
appear before the Legislature to advocate the issue of such a bond, 
and it being passed by the Legislature a committee was appointed to 
look up a suitable site. 

The committee appointed to select a lot for a building to relieve 
Jane Street School reported, recommending a lot, 150 by 192, on 
Stillman Street, which was bought, and an eight-room brick build- 
ing built thereon by Mr. C. T. Beardsley, the architect, which was 
put in use January 1, 1911. 

The committee to look up land for the North End School rec- 
ommended a lot on Tesiny Avenue on the hill, 200 by 177, the lot 
was bought and Leonard Asheim was selected as architect to build 
a four-room building, and inasmuch as there was no sewer, to build 
a septic tank in the yard to drain into. The building was called 
Sheridan School and was finished September 12, 1911, at a cost of 

Joseph Northrop was selected to add four rooms and basement 
in Shelton School at a cost not to exceed $12,500. It was ready for 
occupancy March 13, 1912. At the same time committees were 
appointed to look up a suitable site for relief to Grand Street School, 
also for relief for Lincoln School and Brooklawn District, also a 
committee to look into the advisabilitj' of building an addition to 
Clinton Avenue schools. 

The committee on land for Lincoln School recommended the pur- 
chase of the Jones lot, comer of Central Avenue and Revere Street 
for $2,000, which was adopted and committee authorized to make the 
purchase, also the property adjoining owned by Frank Umstatter 
on Revere Street for $2,500. The committee on land for the Brook- 



lawn District recommended the purchase of land 200 feet square on 
Brooklawn Avenue for $8,600, the purchase was made. 

A lot on Poplar Street, comer Maplewood Avenue, was also 
bought, about 174 by 175 feet, for $9,500. 

The committee on site for relief of Grand Street School recom- 
mended the Bums property, comer North Washington Avenue and 
Commercial Street, for $14,000. The recommendation was adopted 
and purchase made. 

Mr. C. T. Beardsley was appointed architect for the Poplar Street 
School; it was to be an eight-room fire proof building, and it was 
ready for use in November, 1912, and was called the Bryant School. 
The cost amounted to $58,600. 

The Old South School on Iranistan Avenue had not been used 
for some time, and in September, 1911, the agent received instruc- 
tions to have it remodeled for a kindergarten school. It was so done 
at a cost of $1,000. 

In the November meeting, 1911, a committee was appointed to 
look up high schools to ascertain the number of rooms needed for the 
purpose. March 15, 1912, the committee on site for new high school 
recommended the land on Lyon Terrace, running from Congress 
Street to Golden Hill Street, belonging to Mrs. AUce Watson, Mrs. 
Margaret D. Kelley and Frank Hurd. Recommendation was 
adopted, but as no satisfactory agreement could be made with Mr. 
Hurd for his part of the land, the Superior Court was appealed to 
to fix the purchase price to be paid to Mr. Hurd. The land with the 
necessary preparation to build cost $67,000. 

At a meeting in April, 1912, it was voted to build an eight-room 
building to relieve Grand Street, with the intention of making it a 
sixteen-room building later on; add four rooms to Jlyrtie Avenue; 
buy land and build a four-room building on Bostwick Avenue, and 
buy a lot on Nichols Street and build a school to relieve the condition 
in that section. 

Mr. C. T. Beardsley was selected as architect for the building on 
the Bums property, comer of North Washington Avenue and Com- 
mercial Street. It was occupied in September, 1918, the cost was 
$59,021 including the land. One year later four rooms were added 
at a cost of $21,167. 

For Myrtle Avenue Mr. Frederick Cooper was selected as archi- 
tect to add four rooms and make the building fireproof. The school 
was ready for occupancy November, 1913. It cost $88,955. 

At Nichols Street the property adjoining the old school was 






bought for $5,800, the old schoolhouse razed and a sixteen-room fire- 
proof building was erected by Mr. Leonard. Asheim, the architect, 
who tiu-ned it over to the board in April, 1915, at a cost of $92,071. 
The new school was called the Franklin School. 

To relieve Bostwick Avenue School Mr. Asheim was also selected 
to build an eight-room fireproof brick building on the lot corner of 
Wordin and Bostwick avenues, donated by the city for that purpose, 
which was finished and occupied in the spring of 1915 at a cost of 
$41,213 and was called the Jackson School. A new departure from 
the ventilation system was used, recommended by Mr. Samuel H. 
Wheeler, which proved highly successful. 

On account of the CoUinswood Schoolhouse fire in 1918, where a 
lot of children met their death, school authorities all over the country 
were thrown into great excitement. The Legislature of Connecticut 
made a law compelling all school authorities t« have iron fire escapes 
on all schoolhouses. The law contained a clause, however, whereby 
schoolhouses with two or more exits could be exempt, and it was 
given in authority to the chief of fire department to decide where 
there was to be an exemption. All the schoolhouses in the city could 
have been exempted xmder that law, but the chief of the fire depart- 
ment would not give his consent unless the buildings were strictly 
fireproof. The board of education had to build fire escapes on thir- 
teen buildings at a cost of $84,000. All schoolhouses built thereafter 
were made strictly fireproof. 

Land was bought from the Oilman tract between Whittier Avenue 
and Orland Street from street to street for $6,000, and an eight- 
room building was built thereon by Architect Asheim who received 
instructions the following year to add four rooms more. The build- 
ing cost $67,000. The main building was occupied September, 1913, 
and the addition September, 1915. 

In order to meet all expenses for school sites and buildings, which 
could not be done by the one mill tax, serial notes of $200,000 were 
issued by permission of the Legislature in 1914. In 1915 only one- 
half mill tax was laid which yielded $57,517.15. It was therefore 
necessary to bond the city for $200,000 more, which was -done. 

In 1916 the board of apportionment omitted the one mill tax and 
recommended that another bond issue of $800,000 should be voted on 
by the citizens, which was passed by a good majority. Proposals 
were advertised for, by J. Gamble Rogers, who was selected by the 
board as architect to build the new high school, in November, 1918. 
The bids running way above the $400,000 allowed, it was voted by 



the board to put the building under contract and make the two eiid 
wings conditional upon an additional bond to be issued by permis- 
sion of the Legislature. Eighty thousand dollars was therefore asked 
for to finish the building and $45,000 for equipment. It was readily 
passed by the Legislature, and the financial part on account of the 
new high school was therefore settled with the bonding of $525,000. 
But there was a great deal of trouble ahead and Mr. E. H. Havens, 
the president of the board, did an immense amount of work to steer 
the operations of the new building to a successful end. The cost 
was within the appropriation. In the early spring of 1916 the 
school was moved from the old building into the new one. The class 
of 1912 presented a speaker's desk and chair. While the new higli 
school was in course of erection superintendent of schools, Mr. 
C. W. Deane, severed his connection with the board, having given 
six months previous notice. Mr. Samuel J. Slawson was elected in 
his place. Mr. Geo. K. Post, who was supervisor of writing after 
Mr. Prince had left the service, also resigned, and Mr. William J. 
McAndrew was elected in his place. Another supervisor of music in 
the person of Mr. Clayton P. Stevens was appointed. 

The Italian societies of Bridgeport presented to the board a bust 
of Christopher Columbus which was thankfully received and placed 
in the grounds of Columbus School. 

The building of the annex to the Lincoln School was put in 
charge of Frederick Cooper. A building of ei^t rooms and an 
assembly hall on the ground floor was planned and erected. It was 
occupied in part on September, 1914. The cost amounted to $65,820. 

Mr. Cooper also had charge of an addition of four rooms to Oak 
Street School and fireproofing the old building, which was accom- 
plished by April, 1915, at a cost of $87,628. The school was named 
Webster School. 

To relieve Shelton School land was bought on North Avenue, 
200 by 250 feet, for $10,000, and Architect Joseph Northrop selected 
to build a sixteen-room building thereon. It was finished and occu- 
pied in January, 1915, its cost was about $101,700, including land, 
and it was' named Read School in commemoration of the Read 
family who had done so much for the schools and the city. 

At the same time land was bought on Clermont Avenue between 
Pixley and Willow streets, 220 by 240/267 feet for $5,000, and an 
eight-room brick building was erected thereon by Mr. Fred Cooper 
at a cost of about $44,000, including the land ; it was called the Hall 
School and it was finished in 1915 and occupied after the spring vaca- 



tion of 1916. An addition of eight more rooms and an assembly hall 
on the ground floor was decided on to be built, and is under way at 
the present time (September, 1916) at a cost of $64,179. 

An addition of eight rooms is also being built at the Garfield 
School on Stillman Street by Mr. Frederick Cooper, the architect, 
which will cost $43,793. An addition of four rooms to the Bryant 
School was built by Architect C. T. Beardsley at a cost of $22,531, 
and occupied in September, 1913. 

The committee which had been appointed to look into the matter 
of relief to the Clinton Avenue School reported that no land suitable 
for a new schoolhouse was available in the neighborhood and recom- 
mended that an addition be built on the Clinton Avenue side of the 
present school, which recommendation was adopted and Mr. Asheim 
selected to make plans for a nine-room addition, which plans were 
accepted and the addition is in course of erection at a cost of $71,785 
at the present time (September, 1916). The school is to be named 
Elias Howe School. 

Land on Wayne Street and Fairview Avenue was bought for 
$5,900, and Frederick Cooper selected to build a sixteen-room brick 
building> thereon at a cost of $94,500 minus heating and plumbing. 
Land was also bought on Linwood Avenue for $5,511 and Mr. 
Asheim instructed to make plans for a junior high school, which 
plans when accepted were put under contract for the sum of $109,394. 

On March 18, 1916, Messrs. Webster, De Loss and Hurley were 
appointed a committee to look into the prevocational work in the 
old high school. Upon their report on March 28th Mr, F. O. Smith 
was elected as director of industrial education. 

On May 18, 1916, a committee was authorized to negotiate with 
Louis and Fanny Baumrind, Lorenzo and FedeUo Padella, James 
Landon, Charles and Fred C. Rosele and Louise Knoehenhauer 
regarding purchase of their property to be added to the Walters- 
ville School grounds. 

On August 16th the board voted to buy the O'Neil lot at a price 
not to exceed $1,225 to be added to the Wayne Street School lot. 

On account of the prevailing infantile paralysis in the summer of 
1916 the board of health recommended that the vacation of school 
children be extended to September 26th. The board of education 
voted to so extend it. 




Somebody has said that, given a mind of a sufficient order it would 
be possible to read the history of the universe in the constitution of 
a pebble. The statement contains an element of exaggeration, but 
it would certainly be possible to reconstitute the history of Bridge- 
port from a scrutiny of the files of its newspapers, of which the four 
principal ones at this time, in the order of their birth, are The Bridge- 
port Evening Farmer, The Bridgeport Standard, The Bridgeport 
Post and The Bridgeport Telegram. 

Of these the two first began humbly as weeklies and were hoary 
with age when the last two entered the field as full fledged daihes. 
And these four dailies are but the remainder of many efforts, made 
during 127 years. They are the survival of the fittest. Many were 
called, but few were chosen. 

The Bridgeport Evening Farmer had its lowly beginning in a 
lofty mission, when in 1790, it came into being in Danbury, under 
the name Farmer's Miscellany, to give expression to the lofty ideal- 
ism of Thomas Jefferson. It was founded by Stiles Nichols, a sturdy 
people's champion, who made it victorious over several rivals. 

In 1790 the London Times was two years old. The Federal Cod- 
stitution was made but eleven years. There was a state church in 
Connecticut, and the constitution which was to abolish it was twenty- 
nine years in the future. Bridgeport, then known as Newfield had 
not attained independent legislative recognition. 

Newfield grew imtil, in 1800, the Legislature raised it as the Bor- 
ough of Bridgeport, and thither came the staunch democrat. Stiles 
Nichols, in 1910, bearing The Farmer, which for 117 years there- 
after was to be flesh of its flesh with Bridgeport, and a follower of 
democracy for better or worse, during times of good and of ill repute. 



The Farmer was not the first newspaper that adorned the bud- 
ding city. In 1795, Lazarus Beach, who combined the honorable 
callings of printer, bookseller and stationer, issued the American 
Telegraph, weekly, from the office at Wall and Water streets, oppo- 
site tbe old Washington Hotel. In 1805 Samuel Mallory began the 
Bridgeport Herald, and in 1806 Hezekiah Ripley tested fortune with 
the Bridgeport Advertiser, price $1.50 per annum; cash or barter. 
In that very 1910 The Connecticut Courier was inaugurated, and 
endured for twelve years. 

These were papers with a passing mission; they came and went, 
but The Farmer, preaching the rights of the common people and 
the doctrines of Jefferson, grew in prosperity and influence. There 
were ripples on the journalistic waters. In 1826 L. Bradley & Com- 
pany printed the Connecticut Patriot, at their office. Main and State 
streets, opposite the Steamboat Hotel, later the Franklin House. 

In 1830 Edmund Fanton began The Bridgeport Republican, 
which contained the germ of a long life. 

In the meantime there arose an agitation against Free Masonry, 
which culminated with the disappearance of the unfortunate Morgan. 
Bridgeport's part in this storm was manifested by The Spirit of the 
Times, published by George Smith, Jr., with violent denunciation 
of the Masonic orders. It attained a following, outlived the occa- 
sion of its birth, passed into the possession of John Swaine, and out 
of existence. 

The times were changing. The Federal Constitution was not the 
last word in democracy. The abolition of the state church was not 
all the freedom Connecticut desired. Bridgeport, even then distin- 
guished for the industry of its citizens, rather than by its wealth, 
was acquiring new notions of the equality of man. The democratic 
party, long victorious, had become aristocratic, had become the shel- 
ter of wealth and privilege; no longer entirely represented the toil- 

There was a new radicalism, led by younger men, and as a conse- 
quence of this new spirit another newspaper came, which was to 
represent during many years the republican party, not yet born, as 
faithfully and as intelligently as The Farmer represented the demo- 
cratic party. 

In 1889 A. A. Pettengill purchased of Edmund Fanton the 
Bridgeport Republican, of which he became editor and proprietor, 
changing its name to the Bridgeport Standard. 

The Farmer and the Standard, as weeklies, shared the field be- 



tween them, while events were moving faster and faster toward the 
Civil war and the end of chattel slavery. 

The Farmer had been consecutively published by Stiles Nichols, 
Stiles Nichols & Son, Pomeroy and Nichols, William S. Poraeroy, 
Pomeroy & Morse until the war was about to break. The Farmer 
true to its traditions, and casehardened in an ancient faith, edited 
then by a Southern democrat, reaped to the full the consequences of 
its stubborn spirit. 

One afternoon a mob visited its printing shop, wrecked its offices, 
destroyed its equipment, and sought the editor, who saved his life 
by fleeing over the neighboring roofs. 

The Standard had undergone numerous changes. In 1848 Pet- 
tengill admitted Julius S. Hanover to an interest in the business. 
In 1850 The Farmer undertook as a daily. In 1853 the Standard 
followed with a tri-weekly edition, which became a daily in 1854. 

In 1868, John D. Candee of New Haven, a man of strong con- 
victions and excellent talents, succeeded the firm of Pettengill k 
Hanover. The Standard entered upon its period of unalloyed pros- 
perity, and for a time was easily the leading paper of this part of 
Connecticut. Its fortunes increased with the victory of the North. 
It prospered as the repubhcan party took over the reins of power. 

The Farmer and Standard, the one unflinchingly democratic, and 
the other as loyally republican, shared between them a growing Held, 
substantially without opposition, until 1874, when Maj. Henry M. 
Hoyt, L. C. Prindle and John Beardsley started the Morning News, 
which lasted for thirty days. It was October 27, 1879, when the 
News was started again, by Hoyt, who ran it until 1885, when it 
was purchased, by L. C. Prindle and Rufus Lyon, an uncongenial 
partnership, soon terminated. 

This Lyon was of notable ability. He became city editor of The 
Farmer, a post he occupied during many years. He was the first 
of Connecticut newspapermen to grasp and apply the principles of 
modem newspaper making. Under the influence of his precept and 
example the newspapers of Bridgeport became more newsy and less 
didactic. Comment and criticism withdrew from the news columns 
and took their proper place on the editorial page. The news, by the 
method of its presentation, took on a new flavor of interest. Mr. Lyon 
remained easily the head of his profession in Bridgeport, until weary 
with service he retired to his home in Redding, which is a mecca for 
newspapermen who owe their training and success to him. 

The Farmer, The Standard and The News shared the field with- 



out serious interruption until February 7, 1883, when George W. 
Hills issued the first copy of the Evening Post, a four column sheets 
15 by 22, and sold it for a penny. 

The Farmer was born to meet the necessities of Jeffersonian 
democracy. The Standard owed its success to that chain of belief 
which culminated in the victory of the anti-slavery party. The News 
had arrived without any particular reason, because it seemed as if 
the city was large enough to support a morning paper. 

The Post was born of economic causes. There had been changes 
in the way of making news print paper. Wood pulp was used in- 
stead of rags, and the price had dropped to a mere nothing. Print- 
ing machinery had been speeded up and improved. Mr. Hills, less 
of an editor than a business man and a mechanician, saw distinctly 
that it was possible to produce a penny paper at a profit. He 
launched the Post at half the price of his competitors, who perceived 
too late the strength of his position, and so failed to reduce the price 
of their own papers soon enough to strangle an unexpected compe- 

By legitimate succession The Farmer passed to Pomeroy, Gould 
& Company, to Gould & Stiles, and finally to The Farmer Publish- 
ing Company, of which the active head is, and for many years has 
been, Floyd Tucker, a democrat of strong convictions, who runs his 
newspaper in accordance with his faith. 

In 1867 The Standard became a corporation with John D. Can- 
dee, as its active head until his death. From this period, and until 
the present, George C. Waldo, now eighty-four years old, the dean 
of Connecticut journalism, has been associated with this newspaper, 
and most of the time in charge of its editorial policy. 

As the democratic party lost in progress and gained in dogma- 
tism, so the republican party entered upon a period of an-ested prog- 
ress and defeat. The Standard sharing the fortunes of the party. 
The Farmer gained in prestige, as the national democracy again con- 
solidated its power. 

In this present year. The Standard, suffering by a too close 
advocacy of property rights, waned to such a state that the property 
was purchased by a corporation of which George C. Waldo, Jr., is 
the head. The publication is continued under the name, Standard- 
American. Revived in spirit and in ideals by its change of ownership, 
the Standard-American seems sure of a strong future. 

The News lived out its little day, and was destroyed at the open- 
ing of the twentieth century by the Morning Union, a transient 



publication, which in its turn disappeared by absorption into the 
Telegram, a morning daily started by George W. Hills, who had 
started the penny Post. 

The Union was started by Charles D. Ocain and Frederick Bart- 
lett, now judge of the city court. It was edited at various times by 
B. M. Bushong, William H. L. Preston and Lynn W. Wilson- 
]Mr. Preston was perhaps from a literary standpoint the most brU- 
liant of Connecticut journalists of the last twenty years, but died 
before his unusual powers were known outside the circle of his fel- 
low workers. 

In time Mr. Hills, tired of the labor of the day, sold the control 
of The Post to F. W. Bolande and others, and later sold the Tele- 
gram to Kenneth W. McNeil and Archibald McNeil, Jr. 

These gentlemen brought about the consolidation of both papers, 
which, with the Sunday Post, are printed under one roof, in the 
same plant, with consequent large economies. 

Mr. Bolande, who had long been editor of The Post, under the 
' Hills ownership, lived to see the consolidated papers attain an un- 
precedented prosperity and died while yet a young man. From his 
widow the Messrs. McNeil obtained the Bolande interest, and are 
now the active owners and managers of these strong and growing 

In the whole, the movement of journalism in Bridgeport has been 
in the direction of independence. The partisan newspaper is dis- 
appearing. The independent newspaper, with loose affiliation to 
party, is becoming more numerous. The Standard-American, the 
Post and the Telegram are so called independents. The Farmer 
is less rigidly partisan than it used to be. 

Various attempts have been made, generally without much suc- 
cess, to create socialist or labor newspapers. If partisan journalism 
has a rebirth in Bridgeport, it will be in the interest of these more 
recent apostles of economic change. 

The history of journalism in Bridgeport is not entirely a his- 
torj' of ownership. Floyd Tucker earned his spurs in every depart- 
ment of the sen-ice. George C. Waldo, Sr., became distinguished 
mainly through his editorial colmnn. George C. Waldo, Jr., served 
an apprenticeship in editorial positions on The Farmer, The Stand- 
ard and The Telegram, before he adopted the role' of publisher. Frank 
AV. Bolande began as a reporter, and served in nearly every position 
on a newspaper. James L. McGovem, now collector of customs 
for the Connecticut District, became widely known by his capacity 



in the display of news. He was long city editor of The Farmer, 
and with Mr. Bolande inaugurated the epoch in which names were 
the thing, and the happenings of the news came to be displayed upon 
the theory that there are more of the common people than of any 
other kind. Under this theory of newspaper making the society 
coltmin ceased to be a record of the doings of notables, and became 
the medium of anybody who gave a party. Lynn W. Wilson is 
known chiefly as an editorial writer. Sidney W. Challenger* is a 
noted authority on sports. 

Today Bridgeport newspapers are among the strongest and the 
most liberal in the United States. Never have they had higher ideals, 
sounder business management, or stronger editorial departments. 
The young men now entering Bridgeport journalism in the whole 
are the superiors of their predecessors, and in their hands the news- 
papers will lose nothing in merit or influence. 

An aftermath of the Civil war was the Bridgeport Sun, origi- 
nally known as the Budget and afterward as the Star, which was 
published intermittently by William H. May. This newspaper was 
intended as a successor to "The Old Flag," which during a period 
of fourteen months Captain May had issued at Camp Ford, Tyler, 
Tex., printing each letter laboriously with a pen. The Sim was 
distinguished by its broad satire, and by its drawings rudely, but 
impressively, made by the editor. 

During the period when Bridgeport dailies were coming to their 
full growth and authority there was a recession in the number and 
power of weeklies issued in cities. Despite the set of the times the 

Sunday Herald was inaugurated by 

Swift. Since the death of Mr. Swift the Herald has been managed 
and edited by Richard Howell. Mr. Howell is one of the greatest 
living authorities on sports, and it is largely by the interest in his writ- 
ings upon this subject that the Herald has had its long life and its 
continued prosperity. 








Much of the history of human progress centers about the deeds 
of great generals and their armies. Savage races have been compelled 
by force of arms to give way to the march of civilization ; aggressive 
wars have been waged by strong nations for the conquest of weaker 
ones, or to uphold the regal power and "divine right" of kings; and 
defensive wars have been fought to maintain established government 
or to advance the rights and liberties of the people. The independence 
of the United States was gained only by a war which lasted for ei^t 
years, and of all the great nations of the civilized world the United 
States is perhaps the only one which has never declared war except to 
defend her institutions or to secure greater liberties for downtrodden 

In the chapter on Indian History reference is made to the early 
wars with the red men who inhabited Connecticut when the first settlers 
came, and it is the province of this chapter to deal only with those wars 
in which the white race was concerned, viz. : The Revolutionary war, 
the War of 1812, the Mexican war, the Civil war of 1861-65, and the 
war with Spain in 1898-99. 


In the very beginning of English settlements in America, it was a 
radical element that came to the New World to escape the persecu- 



tions of the conservatives — those who were satisfied with existing con- 
ditions. Once here, they besought the British Government for char- 
ters which would give them control of local aflfairs. To "keep them 
quiet" such charters were granted to several of the colonies. That is 
where Great Britain made her first mistake, if she intended or ex- 
pected to retain control of her American colonies. Under the liberal 
charters came the town meeting, which Thomas Jefferson declared 
to be "the vital principle of their governments and have proved them- 
selves the wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the per- 
fect exercise of self-government and for its perpetuation." 

In the town meeting the people acquired almost from their in- 
fancy the habit of discussing, deliberating and judging of public mat- 
ters. It was in these assemblies of towns or districts that the senti- 
ment of the people was formed. Here were chosen the representa- 
tives to the General Court. To these representatives were given in- 
structions filled with important and minute detail, and they were held 
to a strict accountability. The king and his ministry were beyond the 
sea, but the constituency of each member of the General Court was 
near at hand and to that constituency- he must answer. There could 
he no evading, no shirking the responsibility. The law-makers in the 
General Court belonged to the same class of men who spoke boldly in 
town meeting, and the same spirit governed their actions as legis- 

Notwithstanding the liberties granted to the colonists of New 
England by the Mother Country, they remained loyal to the nionarchs 
of England for almost a century and a half before an open rupture 
occurred. They rendered valuable aid in the war between England 
and France, both in men and money, and when the war ended by the 
reduction of Canada in 1760 the event caused general rejoicing 
throughout the colonies. On October 25, 1760, began the reign of 
George III. He has been described as "narrow-minded, self-willed, 
jealous of his royal prerogatives, envious of others' greatness, and 
resentful of all difference from his wishes on any public measure as 
a personal offense against the King." 

Soon after the close of the French and Indian war, the British 
Parhament, with the sanction of the king, formed a plan for raising 
part of the expense of that war by taxing the colonies. To this end 
an act was passed laying a duty on all paper, vellum or parchment 
used in America, and declaring all docimients written on unstamped 
paper to be null and void. This act, known as the "Stamp Act," re- 
ceived the royal assent on March 22, 1765. Immediately there was a 




storm of protest from the people of the colonies. An organization 
known as the "Sons of Liberty" was formed for the purpose of re- 
sisting the act; merchants associated themselves and agreed not to 
import any goods from Great Britain until the ohnoxious law was 
repealed; and Massachusetts sent out a call to the other colonies to 
send deputies to a convention to be held at New York in October. 
In response to that call deputies from nine of the colonies met at 
the time and place appointed and voiced their opposition to the act 
in no uncertain language. They adopted "a declaration of rights 
and grievances," sent a. petition to the king and a memorial to each 
house of Parliament urging the immediate repeal of the act. This 
spirited and unexpected opposition, seconded by the eloquence of Wil- 
liam Pitt and other friends of the colonists in Parliament, resulted 
in the repeal of the Stamp Act on March 18, 1766, four days less 
than one year from the time of its enactment. 

Although the Stamp Act was repealed before the British Gov- 
ernment was able to derive much revenue from its operations, the 
English ministry still persisted in their scheme of raising revenue 
by taxing the colonies. In 1767 an act was passed laying duties on 
glass, painters' colors, paper and tea imported into the colonies. The 
duties were made slight, in the hope that the people of America would 
pay them without murmuring. But it was not the amount of the tax, 
so much as the principle involved, that aroused opposition. On De 
cember 16, 1778, a number of Bostonians disguised as Indians 
marched to Griffin's wharf, boarded some ships loaded with tea and 
threw 840 chests into the waters of the harbor. This affair, fre- 
quently alluded to in history as the "Boston Tea Party," brought a 
retaliation on the part of Parhament, which in March, 1774, passed 
the "Boston Port Bill," prohibiting all intercourse with that town 
by water and removing^ the public offices to Salem. General Gage 
was also appointed military governor. Every town in New England 
sympathized with Boston. The people of Fairfield, Connecticut, 
held a meeting and donated 634 bushels of rye, 116 bushels of wheat 
and other commodities for the relief of the people of Boston in their 


General Gage arrived at Boston in May, 1774, and four regi- 
ments of British regulars were quartered in that city to overawe the 
rebellious inhabitants, enforce the obnoxious laws and the orders of 
the British ministry. Seeing that open conflict was inevitable, the 




Digitized byGOOgle 



colonists organized companies of "Minute Men," that is men who 
would respond on short notice, and voted funds to lay in supplies of 
ammunition. On December 19, 1774, a town meeting was held in 
Stratford, Conn., at which the Boston Port Bill was denounced 
and a committee, consisting of Philip Nichols, Josiah Hubbell, David 
Hawley, Nathan Bennitt, Stephen Burroughs and Legrand Cannon, 
was appointed "to solicit and transmit to Boston such donations as 
they shall receive, by any safe opportunity, addressed to the com- 
mittee appointed to take care of and employ the poor of that place." 

On the night of April 18, 1775, a detachment of British troops 
left Boston for the purpose of destroying some military stores at 
Lexington and Concord. Paul Revere rode ahead of the soldiers 
and spread the alarm. This ride has been made immortal by Long- 
fellow's poem. When the detachment reached Lexington on the 
morning of the 19th the commander found a motley collection of 
"Minute Men" assembled on the village green. Though "raw" and 
without uniforms or military discipline, the farmers could shoot and 
the British were forced to retreat with heavy loss. There were no 
telegraphs or other means of quick communication in those days, 
but the news of the affair spread throughout New England with 
startling rapidity. Fairfield County, Conn., was one of the first to 
send a company of troops to the 'relief of Boston. That company was 
made up as follows: 

David Dimon, captain; Peter Hendrick and Edward Burroughs^ 
lieutenants: Wakeman Burr, ensign; Abijah Sterling and Aaron 
Hubble (Hubbell), sergeants; Ebenezer Wakeman, clerk. 

Privates — ^David Annabel, Israel Bibbins, Walter Buddington, 
Isaac Burr, Jonathan Darrow, Thomas Elwood, John Fuller, Solo- 
mon Green, Benjamin Hall, John Hayes, Isaac Hubbell, Joseph 
Hubbell, William Hubbell, Nathan P. Jackson, Isaac Jarvis, Isaac 
Jennings, William Jennings, Zebulon Kirtland, Josiah Lacey, Levi 
Mallery, Abijah Morehouse, Uriel Morehouse, Daniel Morris, Jr., 
Paul Nichols, John Pearson, Nathan Seeley, Daniel Sherwood, Eben- 
ezer Squire, Joseph Squire, Judson Sturges, Andrew Thorp, Nathan 
Thorp, Andrew Wakeman, Nehemiah Whitney and Daniel Wing- 

The company was in service for seven days, when the immediate 
danger was past and the men returned to their homes. Capt. Joseph 
Hoit's company of Stamford was also in service for eight days on 
the occasion of the "Lexington Alarm." Subsequently Captain 
Dimon's company marched to the relief of New York, but several 



changes had been made in the personnel of the company. James 
Hamhleton succeeded Edward Burroughs as lieutenant; John Mills, 
Albert Chapman, John Odle and Aaron Hubble were the sergeants; 
eighteen of the privates dropped out and the following recruits had 
been added: Daniel Bament, Nathan Bradley, Samuel Bradley, 
Ezekiel Canfield, Samuel Chard, Asael Disbrow, Nehemiah Fowler, 
Shnbael Gorham, Joseph Green, Joseph Hayes, Andrew Hendrick, 
James Knapp, William McCarthy, John McKee, Gideon Morehouse, 
Josiah Smith, Joseph Stratton, Moses Sturges, David Sturges and 
Peter Winton. 


Soon after the battle of Lexington the Connecticut IjCgislature 
passed an act calling for volunteers. Under this call the Fifth Regi- 
ment came largely from Fairfield County. It was mustered into 
ser\'ice with the following officers : David Waterbury of Stamford, 
colonel; Samuel Whiting of Stratford, lieutenant -colonel ; Thomas 
Hobby of Greenwich, major; Charles Webb, Jr., of Stamford, ad- 
jutant (afterward transferred to the Seventh Regiment) ; John Mills, 
adjutant after the transfer of Webb; Simeon Seleck of Stamford, 
John Mills and Thomas Couch of Fairfield, quartermasters; Dr. 
John Wood of Danbury, surgeon ; Samuel Whiting and Asel Fitch, 
surgeon's males. 

David Waterbury enlisted as captain of the First Company and 
was commissioned colonel of the regiment on May 1, 1775. Samuel 
Whiting enlisted as captain of the Second Company and was at the 
same time promoted to lieutenant-colonel. When Captain Waterbury 
was made colonel Lieut. Sylvanus Brown was promoted to the cap- 
taincy. In this company Jonathan Whiting served as lieutenant 
and Samuel Hait as ensign. The lieutenants of the Second Company 
were Elijah Beach and Robert Walker and the ensign was Judson 

The Third Company came from Greenwich and was officered 
as follows: Thomas Hobby, captain {promoted major); Bezaleel 
Brown and Samuel Lockwood, lieutenants ; John Waterbury, ensign. 

Fairfield furnished the Fourth Company. Its captain was David 
Dimon, who had answered the "Lexington Alarm" with his company 
before the Legislature called for troops. The lieutenants were Peter 
Hendrick and Wakeman Burr, and the ensign was Josiah Lacy. 

Matthew Mead was captain of the Fifth Company, which was 



raised in Norwalk. The other oflScers of this company were: Levi 
Taylor and William Seymour, lieutenants; Joseph Betts, ensign. 

The Sixth Company was a Da'nbury organization, with Noble 
Benedict, captain; Joseph Clark and Ezra Stephens, lieutenants; 
Daniel Heacock, ensign. 

A large part of the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth companies came 
from outside Fairfield County. Albert Chapman of Fairfield was 
captain of the Seventh Company ; Joseph Smith of Newtown was cap- 
tain of the Eighth, and Jabez Botsford, also of Newtown, was a lieu- 
tenant in the company. In the Ninth Company Samuel Keeler of 
Norwalk was one of the lieutenants. 

The Tenth Company's officers were: Zalmon Read, captain; 
Ezekicl Sanford and David Feet, lieutenants; Benjamin Hichols, 
ensign. A number of the privates in this company were Fairfield 
County men, but the muster rolls do not always give the residence. 

Charles Webb of Stamford was captain of the First Company 
in the Seventh Regiment, but was promoted to the colonelcy when 
the regiment was mustered into service, and Charles Webb, Jr., was 
transferred from the Fifth Regiment as adjutant. Stephen Betts 
was a lieutenant in the First Company of this regiment and Hezekiah 
Davenport was clerk of the company. 

The Fourth Company of the Seventh Regiment was commanded 
by Joseph Hait of Stamford as captain, and John Odell was ensign 
of the company. 


One company of the Fifth Regiment (the Second) marched with 
Ethan Allen against Ticonderoga. It was commanded by Lieut.-Col. 
Samuel Whiting, and as it was the only Fairfield County company 
in that campaign the muster roll is given in full. Elijah Beach and 
Robert Walker, lieutenants ; Judson Whiting, ensign ; Samuel Ward, 
Aaron Benjamin and Ephraim Beardsley, drummers; George Ben- 
jamin, fifer. 

Privates — Enoch Bailey, John Bassett, David Beardsley, Lemuel 
Beardsley, Chauncey Beardsley, Ephraim Bears, Silas Bears, James 
Beebe, David Beers, Joseph Beers, Josiah Beers, Joseph Birdsey, 
Thaddeus Birdsey, Nathaniel Booth, George Borough, Isaac Brooks, 
Isaac Brown, James Burton, William Burton, William Burton, Jr., 
Enoch Coger, John Cramfoot, Roger Crary, Barabas Cunningham, 
David Curtiss, James Curtiss, Jonathan Curtiss, Jones Curtiss, Wil- 



liam Curtiss, John Davenport, Henry DeForest, William DeForest, 
John Downing, James Downs, John Downs, Abel Edwards, Samuel 
Edwards, Abel Fairehild, John C. Fairehild, Thomas Fairchild, Sam- 
uel French, Thomas Fulford, William Gorham, William Grant, Daniel 
Hall, Abram Hawley, Gideon Hawley, Nathaniel Hawley, Jonas 
Hinman, Samuel Hows, Joseph Hubbard, James Hughs, Mead Hurd, 
Ephraim Johnson, Ephraim Jones, Beach Judson, Joel Judson, Bryan 
Kollekelly, Nathaniel Lamson, James Liniham, Robert Lines, John 
Munrow, Mansford Nichols, James Norton, Nathaniel Osbom, Wil- 
liam Osbom, John Peck, Daniel Peet, David Phippeney, William 
Russell, William Russell, Jr., John Slawtry, Jesse Smith, John Smith, 
William Southworth, Thomas Stratton, Peleg Sunderland, Xehemiah 
Thompson, Ebenezer Vost, William Wainwright, Joseph Wakeley, 
Samuel Wakeley, Abel Walker, Hezekiah Ward, Benjamin Watkins, 
David Whiting, Levi Whiting, John Witelus, Hezekiah Whitmore. 

elhore's beoihent 

In Col. Samuel Elmore's regiment in 1776, Albert Chapman was 
captain of the First Company; John Waterbury and Shubael Gor- 
ham, lieutenants; and James Chapman, ensign. 

In the Second Company of the same regiment, Robert Walker of 
Stratford was captain; Samuel Webb of Stamford, a lieutenant; and 
William Hubbell of Stratford, ensign. 


In the "Connecticut Line" — 1777 to 1781 — Joseph Walker of 
Stratford served as an aide-de-camp on the staff of Maj.-Gen. Samuel 
H, Parsons; Hezekiah Ripley and Samuel H. Phillips of Danbury, 
Eliphalet Lockwood of Norwalk, and John Squire, Jr., of Fairfield, 
were commissaries. 

The Second Regiment of the "Line" was commanded by Col. 
Charles Webb of Stamford ; Samuel Wheaton and Charles Webb, Jr., 
served as quartermasters; John Mills, Stephen Betts and James Beebe, 
as captains; Seth Weed, Isaac Keeler, Samuel Hickock (or Heacock) 
and Eli Barnum, as lieutenants; and Nathaniel Booth and Isaiah 
Betts, as ensigns. 

In the Fifth Regiment Matthew Mead of Norwalk was lieutenant- 
colonel; Amos Benedict of Danbury and Hezekiah Rogers of Nor- 
walk, served as adjutants; Ezekiel Sanford of Redding, Josiah Lacey 



of Stratford, Samuel Hait of Stamford, and Thaddeus Weed of 
Stamford, as captains; Nehemiah Gorham of Stratford, John Odell 
(name also spelled Odle) of Stamford, Samuel Lockwood of Green- 
wich, as lieutenants. 

Albert Chapman and Phineas Beardsley held commissions as 
captains in the Seventh Regiment of the "Line;" James Barnes and 
Thomas Starr were lieutenants in the same regiment. 

John Chandler of Newtown was colonel of the Eighth Regiment; 
Joseph Hait of Stamford, lieutenant-colonel; Aaron Benjamin of 
Stratford, adjutant; Sylvanus Brown of Stamford and Selah Benton 
of Stratford, captains; Bayze Wells of Stratford, Ephraim Kimberly 
of Newtown, and Aaron Benjamin of Stratford, lieutenants. Lieu- 
tenant Benjamin was promoted to adjutant of the regiment. 

Ten companies of the "Connecticut Line" were with General 
La Fayette at the surrender of Cornwallis, October 19, 1781. David 
Bates, a Fairfield County man, was captain and quartermaster in 
Col. Seth Warner's regiment, and a few men from the county served 
in Colonel Sheldon's Light Dragoons. 


That the people of Fairfield County were fully awake to the situa- 
tion is seen by the action of some of the town meetings in the early 
years of the Revolution. On December 19, 1774, a town meeting 
in Stratford indorsed the action of the Continental Congress and 
appointed a committee "chosen in several parts of the town to observe 
the conduct of certain persons," whose loyalty to the colonial cause 
was suspected. 

A year later, December 18, 1775, another meeting in the same 
town appointed the following "Committee of Observation :" Robert 
Fairchild, John Brooks, Isaiah Brown, Samuel Whiting, Daniel Jud- 
son, William Pixlee, Isaac Nichols, Joseph Curtiss, Agur Judson, 
Ichabod Lewis, Daniel Fairchild, Abram Brinsmade, Nathan Booth, 
Lemuel Blackman, Stephen Burroughs, Elnathan Curtiss, Ahijah 
Starling, David Wilcockson and George Thompson. 

On February 16, 1776, a town meeting in Fairfield decided upon 
the following measure of defense: "It is voted Allowed & Ordered 
that twenty-five able bodied men be raised by Volunteer Enlistment 
at the Discretion of the authorities and Selectmen of said town, under 
the command of a Lieutenant and two Sergeants to be improved (em- 
ployed) in erecting works of defence at such place & manner in said 



Town as the said Authorities &e. shall direct for watching &c. as shall 
he necessary to continue until the First day of November next unless 
sooner released by the General Assent of this Board, said men to 
have the same pay & Wages as the Army near Boston & to be al- 
lowed eight pence per day for their provision and Support during 
said term." 

Under this order "Fort Black Rock" was built on Grover's Hill, 
commanding the mouth of the harbor. It guarded the entrance to 
the harbor and the Penfield Mills near the mouth of the Unquowa 
River, then operated by James Penfield, who daily used several bar- 
rels of flour in making bread for the soldiers. 


On April 25, 1777, twenty-six British ships appeared in the Long 
Island Sound off Norwalk and a force of some two thousand men, 
commanded by Gen. William Tryon, the lorj- governor of New York, 
was landed at Cedar Point, about four o'clock in the afternoon. 
Tryon's object was to capture some military stores at Danburj', about 
twenty miles north of Norwalk. As soon as the troops were landed 
the march to Danbury commenced and that town was reached about 
two o'clock on the afternoon of the 26th. The- small garrison there, 
when it was learned that a large force of the enemy was approaching, 
carried away the greater portion of the ammunition and part of the 
provisions, hut made no attempt at resistance, leaving the town at the 
mercy of the British. 

General Silliman, then in command of about five hundred of the 
Connecticut militia at Fairfield, hearing of the movement, marched 
his little army to the relief of Danbury. Colonel Cook, who was in 
command of the garrison at Danbury, had despatched a messenger 
to General Silliman, but the messenger, a young man named Lambert 
Ijoekwood, was captured by some of Tryon's men engaged in foraging 
over the country. Silliman also sent messengers to all the militia 
companies within striking distance, urging them to hasten to Danbury. 
When Tryon, through his tory spies, learned that the militia was con- 
centrating against him, he set fire to the town and began his return 
march toward his ships. He afterward claimed that in trj'ing to 
burn the stores the town was accidentally set on fire. 

Gen. David Wooster and Gen. Benedict Arnold were at New 
Haven when the news of Tryon's movement reached that city. Col- 
lecting such forces as they could on short notice, they hurried to 



reinforce General Silliman, who was doing all he could to harass the 
enemy's retreat. So eflfective were his efforts that it was midnight 
when Tryon's rear guard arrived at Bethel, less than three miles 
from Danbury. Here hostilities ceased until the following morn- 
ing. As soon as it was light enough to see, Tr\-on was on the move 
toward Norwalk, with Silliman still cUnging to his rear and flanks. 
At Redding Silliman was joined by Wooster and Arnold. The latter 
by a forced march reached Ridgefield, thus getting the British be- 
tween two fires and Tryon was forced to stand and fight. This 
was on the morning of the 28th. Wooster and Silliman were rein- 
forced at Saugatuck Bridge by Colonel Lamb's battalion with three 
pieces of artillery. In the action General Wooster was severely 
wounded and died on the 3d of May following. 

Tryon finally out-maneuvered the Americans and secured a strong 
position in the Compo Hills, from which he could not be dislodged. 
Reinforcements came up from the fleet and a running fight occurred 
practically all the way to Norwalk. The British loss could not be 
ascertained, but thirty dead and wounded were left on the field and 
twenty prisoners were taken. The American loss in killed and 
wounded was about sixty. It was nearly sunset when the last of 
Tryon's troops embarked and the vessels set sail for Long Island. 
He had destroyed the stores, but it was a dearly bought victory. 


General Tryon and Commodore George Collier made another 
Taid into Connecticut and burned the Town of Fairfield on July 7, 
1779. Probably the best account of this event is that given in a letter 
written by Rev. Andrew Eliot, then stationed at Fairfield as pastor 
of the church, to his brother John, under date of July 15, 1779. 
He says : 

"About four o'clock in the morning the approach of the fleet was 
announced by the firing of a gun from a small fort we have on Grover 
Hill contiguous to the Sound. They seemed, however, to be passing 
by, and about seven o'clock we, with pleasure, beheld them all to the 
westward of us, steering, as we thought, to New York. A very thick 
fog came on, which entirely deprived us of the sight of them till be- 
tween the hours of nine and ten, when the mist cleared away and we 
beheld the whole fleet under our western shore, and some of them close 
in with Kensie's Point. They presently came to anchor and lay till 
about four in the afternoon, when they began to land their troops 



A little to the east of Kensie's Point, at a place called the Pines. From 
thence the troops marched along the beach until they came to a lane 
opposite the center of the town, through which they proceeded and in 
about an hour paraded in their divisions on the green between the 
meeting house and the court-house. From thence they detached their 
guards and proceeded to their infernal business. 

"Their commanding officers were Sir George Collier by sea and 
Generals Tryon and Garth by land. * * * There was no thou^t 
of opposing their landing, as our force was nothing to theirs. Our 
little party, however, posted themselves so as to annoy them to the 
best advantage, expecting they would land at the Point. When our 
people found them landing on the left and marching in their rear to 
take possession of the town, they immediately retreated to the court- 
house; and as the enemy advanced from the beach lane they gave 
them such a warm reception with a field piece, which threw both 
round and grape shot, and with the musketry as quite disconcerted 
them for some time.^ The column, however, quickly recovered its solid- 
ity and advancing rapidly forced our small body to retreat to the 
heights back of the town, where they were joined by numbers coming in 
from the country. The enemy were likewise galled very much, as 
they turned from the beach to the lane, by the cannon which played 
from Grover's Hill. 

"The Hessians were first let loose for rapine and plunder. They 
entered houses, attacked the persons of whig and tory indiscrim- 
inately, broke open desks, trunks and closets, taking away everything 
of value. They robbed women of their buckles, rings, bonnets, aprons 
and handkerchiefs. They abused them with the foulest and most pro- 
fane language, threatened their lives without the least regard to the 
most earnest cries and entreaties. Looking glasses, china and all kinds 
of furniture were soon dashed to pieces. 

"About an hour before simset the conflagration began at the house 
of Mr. Isaac Jennings, which was consumed with the neighboring 
buildings. In the evening the house of Elisha Abel, Esq., sheriff of 
the county, was consumed with a few others." 

When the meeting house green was reached, as mentioned by Mr. 
Eliot in his letter, a proclamation previously prepared by General 
Tryon and Sir George Collier was posted. It set forth that the in- 
habitants were deluding themselves in hoping for independence; of- 
fered the protection of the British Government to all who would 
take the oath of allegiance; and promising that all who refused should 
be severely pimished. The proclamation was supplemented by the 
verbal promises of the commanding officers. Lieiit.-CoL| Samuel 


KAVI'ir) FROM Till': W'RNIN);, FAIKFlKl.r: 

Digitized byGOOgle 




Whiting chanced to be at Fairfield at the time, and he took upon 
himself the authority to reply to the specious written and spoken 
promises of men in whose honor he had not the slightest confidence. 
Said he: "Connecticut has nobly dared to take up arms against the 
cruel despotism of Britain, and as the flames have now preceded your 
flag, they will persist to oppose to the utmost that power exerted 
against injured innocence." 

Fort Black Rock was garrisoned by Capt. Isaac Jarvis, Col. 
Elijah Hill, Capt. David Jarvis, Daniel Burr, Nehemiah Burr, Jesse 
Burr, Fairweather Brothwell, Chauncey Downs, Joseph Gold, Silas 
Hawley, William Hawley, Nathan Jennings, James McNay, Huldah 
Mason, John Meeker, Samuel Patchen, Abraham Parritt, Benjamin 
Meeker, John Lyon, Nehemiah Rose, David Sherwocd, William 
Sturges, Ezra Wheeler, Robert Walch, John Wilson, Daniel Wil- 
son and Nathaniel Wilson. This little band of patriots kept their 
one gun busy as long as the enemy was within range and it is rather 
surprising that no attempt was made by the British to capture the 

When the flames broke out some of the citizens, on behalf of the 
women and children of the town, appealed to General Tryon to leave 
some of the dwellings. He agreed to save some of the houses, but 
when the retreat began the rear guard was composed of "Yaugers," 
whom Mr. Eliot calls "Sons of plunder and devastation — a banditti, 
the vilest that was ever let loose among men." They applied the 
torch indiscriminately and the houses protected by Tryon's order went 
with the rest until the town was a smoking ruin, only five houses 
being left standing. In the meantime a considerable force of militia 
had rushed to the scene and followed the British to their ships, firing 
from behind trees and fences and otherwise harassing the retreat. 

The burning of Fairfield was in a measure an act of retaliation 
for the activity of the authorities of that town the year before. In 
the fall of 1778 it was discovered that certain tories in the western 
part of the state were purchasing cattle in considerable numbers, 
ostensibly for shipment to New Jersey, but it was suspected that the 
cattle were to be used for the benefit of the British. The selectmen 
of Fairfield reported the matter and the commissary-general seized 
the cattle for the Continental army. 


In the fall of 1780 Fairfield became the base of offensive opera- 
tions for a brief period. On November 17, 1780, a detachment of , 

L, , ... i.Cooglc 


Colonel Sheldon's dragoons (dismounted) arrived at Fairfield under 
command of Captain Edgar. A little later a number of boats came 
into the harbor with more soldiers and Major Taimage, who assum«i 
command. The purpose of the movement was to capture the British 
post of Fort George, at South Haven, Long Island. About four 
o'clock on the afternoon of the 21st, eight boats carrying eighty men, 
under Major Taimage, left Fairfield and started across the Sound. 
A storm came on just as a landing on Long Island was effected 
and the men kept themselves under cover for twenty-four hours. 
On the evening of the 22nd Major Tahnage divided his force into 
three parts — one commanded by Lieutenant Jackson, one by Lieut. 
Caleb Brewster of Black Rock, and the third by himself. The fort, 
which consisted of two strong houses and a stockade about ninety feet 
square, was attacked from three sides and in a short time the garrison 
of fifty men surrendered. A vessel loaded with stores was also cap- 
tured, and the fort was burned. 


The Revolution came to an end with the surrender of the British 
army commanded by Lord Comwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, Octo- 
ber 19. 1781, but the definitive treaty of peace, which recognized the 
independence of the United States, was not concluded until Septem- 
ber 8, 1788. During the war, most of the states passed laws to con- 
fiscate the property of the tories — that is those who had taken the 
British side — many of whom left the country upon the retirement 
of the British troops, some going to England, others to Canada or 
the West Indies. Those who remained were not permitted to have 
any voice in the management of political affairs, and in some places 
they were ordered out of the community. The minutes of a town 
meeting held in Fairfield on April 10, 1783, contain the following 

"Voted — The Inhabitants being called to meet principally for 
the purpose of Considering what measures they would wish to have 
taken with respect to those persons who during the war between 
Great Britain and America have gone to and joined the enemy and 
put themselves under their protection. The Question is put whether ■ 
this meeting is willing that any of those persons who have gone over to 
and joined the Enemy and put themselves under their Protection as 
aforesaid should be permitted to reside in this Town and Passed in 
the Negative." 



At the same meeting it was "Voted — That a Committee be ap- 
pointed to remove all such persons from this Town who are now in 
it it or may Hereafter come into it who have gone over to and joined 
the enemy and put themselves under their protection during the war 
between Great Britain and the United States of America." 

After some years the animosity toward the tories subsided to some 
extent and a few of those expelled from Fairfield returned. For 
quite a while the property of the tories in many localities was heavily 
taxed, authorities reasoning that as they had, by their disloyalty, 
increased the expenses of the war, they should be made to bear a larger 
share of the burden. 

WAS. OF 1812 

In the opening years of the Nineteenth Century, France and 
Great Britain were at war. Constant efforts were made to cripple 
the commerce of the two countries with neutral nations. In 1807 
Great Britain, by what is known in history as the "Orders in Coun- 
cil," undertook to prohibit American vessels from entering any Euro- 
pean port, except those of Great Britain and Sweden. Napoleon 
retaliated with the "Milan Decree," ordering the capture and sale 
of any American vessel entering or leaving an English harbor. 

Added to these unjust decrees, Great Britain claimed the right 
of search and impressment — that is, the right to stop a vessel on the 
high seas, no matter what nation the ship belonged to, and take off 
any sailor who was a native of Great Britain or Ireland. Through 
the operation of this system many American sailors were "impressed" 
into the British navy. 

As an offset to the Orders in Council and the Milan Decree, the 
United States Congress on December 22, 1807, passed the "Embargo 
Act," forbidding the departure of any vessel from a United States 
port. England was pleased with the act, because it left all trade to 
British merchants. In the Eastern States, where the people depended 
largely upon commerce, there was great dissatisfaction and some per- 
sons advocated separating from the Union. The Embargo proved 
to be so generally unpopular that in 1809 it as superseded by the 
"Non-Intercourse Act," which left the people of the United States 
free to trade with any country in the world except England and 
France. It proved to be but little better than the Embargo and 
ceased to be effective in 1810. 

Meantime the impressment of American sailors by the com- 



manders of .British vessels went on. The obstruction of commerce 
by legislation and the impressment of American citizens into the Eng- 
lish navy gave rise to the slogan of "Free Trade and Sailors' Rights." 
The war sentiment continued to increase and on Jmie 18, 1812, Con- 
gress formally declared war against Great Britain. 

A few days after the declaration of war, a meeting was held 
at Pike's Tavern in Fairfield to organize a company of volunteers. 
Eleazer Bulkley was chosen to preside and a company was formed 
for the defense of the town, with Jeremiah Sturges, captain; Joab 
Squire, first lieutenant; Jonathan Bulkley, second lieutenant. Vol- 
unteers came from aU parts of the town and a number of sailors from 
ships "laid up" in the harbor enlisted. The company adopted the 
name of the "Mill River Sea Fencibles." A redoubt was constructed 
at the lower wharf, and an old cannon mounted and a night guard 
maintained. The company met every day for drill, but was not called 
into service. 

Throughout New England the sentiment prevailed that the war 
was wrong and needless, and very few men from that section of 
the country offered their services as volunteers. There were, how- 
ever, a number of Fairfield County men in the regular army. John 
Jennings of Fairfield served in Captain Bradley's company of the 
Twenty-fifth Infantry. In Captain Cone's company of the same 
regiment were John Patterson, James Squires, Peter Squires, Charles 
Thompson and Sergt. Thomas Turner of Fairfield, and Annanias 
Knapp and John Sherwood of Stratford. 

In Captain Howard's company of the Twenty-fifth Infantry 
were Sergt. Peter Flandrau, Joel McRay and John Thompson, 
of Fairfield, and Jesse Seely {corporal) of Stratford. To this com- 
pany the Town of Bridgeport furnished Daniel Stafford and Wil- 
liam Welch, and Charles W. Troup of Stratford was a private in 
Captain White's company of the Twenty-fifth Infantry. 

In the Thirty-se^'enth Infantry, William E. Munroe of Strat- 
ford served in Captain Ferry's company; William Wheeler of Fair- 
field was a member of Captain Ives' company; Gershom S. Dun- 
conet and Samuel Spencer of Fairfield, and Joseph Sherman of Strat- 
ford were privates in Captain Warner's company. 

The War of 1812 was brought to a close by the Treaty of Ghent, 
which was concluded on December 24, 1814. At least one battle, 
that of New Orleans, was fought after the treaty was made, owing to . 
the great length of time required for the news of the peace to reach 
America. In this war the United States gained all that was de- 



manded. American ships were allowed to trade where they pleased 
and the right of search was abandoned by England. 


After Mexico became independent of Spain she claimed the ter- 
ritory now comprising the State of Texas. A large number of emi- 
grants had gone to Texas from the United States and they were 
not pleased with the idea of living under the Mexican Government. 
In 1885 they rebelled and drove the Mexican troops out of the ter- 
ritory. The following year a large force under General Santa Anna, 
the Mexican governor, invaded Texas and treated the inhabitants 
with great cruelty until Gen. Sam Houston met the expedition at 
San Jacinto and drove Santa Anna back across the Rio Grande. 

Texas then became an independent republic for a few years, when 
an agitation in favor of the annexation of the territory to the United 
States was started by the Texans. President Tyler made a treaty of 
annexation in 1844, but the Senate refused to ratify it. In the politi- 
cal campaign of that year the question of annexation was one of the 
leading issues. Tyler, who favored the project, was elected. As 
soon as Congress met in December, 1844, a bill was introduced pro- 
viding for the annexation of Texas, but it did not become a law until 
the following spring. Texas was admitted into the Union as a state 
in December, 1845. 

Then a dispute arose concerning the western boundary, Mexico 
claiming that it was the Neuces Kiver, and the Texans asserting that 
it was the Rio Grande. Early in 1846 the President ordered Gen. 
Zachary Taylor to occupy the disputed territory until the boundaries 
could be adjusted. Taylor built Fort Brown (where Brownsville 
now stands) and defeated the Mexicans at Palo Alto and Resaca 
de la Fftlma. Congress declared war on May 18, 1846, and authorized 
the President to call for 50,000 volunteers. This war, like the War 
of 1812, was looked upon with disfavor in New England and few 
volunteers came from that section of the country. 

A number of Fairfield County men in the regular army at the time 
participated in the war with Mexico. Credited to Bridgeport were: 
Henry Y. Cable, Company I, Fourth Infantry; James R. Murray, 
Company I, Eighth Infantry; Charles F. McKenzie, Company A, 
and Thomas Bigelow, Company F, Ninth Infantry; George Strat- 
ton. Company G, First Artillery; John Smith, Company A, Second 



Artillery; John W. Goulden, in the dragoons; William H. Lyon, 
General Service, and Nathaniel B. Webster, in the Voltiguers. 

The Town of Fairfield was represented by the following: James 
Mason; Company G, First Infantry; Seely Scofield, Company B, 
Second Infantry; Chester Andrews, Company K, Fifth Infantry 
(later in General Service) ; Leroy M. Elwood, Company G, Wil- 
liam A. Hubbell, Company B, Orris T. Judd, Company K, and Wil- 
liam H. Enapp, Company E, Tenth Infantry; Nathaniel Mallor}', 
Company H, Fourteenth Infantry; James W. Waterbury, Company 
A, James S. Porter (corporal). Company G, and Joseph C. Keeler, 
Company K, Sixteenth Infantry; William H. Burr, Company B, 
Rifles; Charles A. Scofield, Company H, and Stephen Finchley (ar- 
tificer). Company M, First Artillery; James M. Gilbert, Company 
A, and Benjamin Strong, Company I, Third Artillery; Daniel June 
and James J. Whalley, General Service, and Morris Canfield, Com- 
pany A, Engineers. 

Only one man was credited to the Town of Stratford — George 
Durand, who was a private in Company I, Second Artillery. 





Almost from the very beginning of the American Republic, the 
slavery question became one of the leading political issues. Slavery 
was introduced into America in 1619, when a Dutch trader sold a few 
negroes to the planters of the Jamestown colony. The custom of 
owning negro slaves or servants gradually spread to the other colonies, 
but by 1819 seven of the original thirteen states had either abolished 
slavery or made provision for the emancipation of the slaves within 
their borders. 

The first clause of Section 9, Article I, of the Federal Constitution 
provides that "The migration or importation of such persons as any 
of the states now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be pro- 
hibited by Congress prior to the year 1808." The adoption of this 
clause was regarded as a victory for the slaveholders, as under it Con- 
gress had no power to interfere with the foreign slave trade until 
1808; but in that year Congress passed an act prohibiting any further 
traffic in or importation of negro slaves. 

In 1819 slavery existed in six of the original thirteen states, the 
other seven having abolished it as already stated. In the meantime 
Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had been 
admitted into the Union as slave states, and Vermont, Ohio, Indiana 
and Illinois as free states, so that the country was evenly divided — 
eleven of each. Maine was admitted as a free state in 1820 and the 



advocates of slavery sought to have Missouri admitted as a slave state 
in order to maintain the equilibrium in the United States Senate. 
After a long and somewhat acrimonious debate, that state was ad- 
mitted under the act known as the "Missouri Compromise," which pro- 
vided for the admission of Missouri without any restrictions as to 
slavery, but expressly stipulated that "in ^1 the remaining portion 
of the Louisiana Purchase north of the line 86" 80' slavery shall be 
forever prohibited." During the next twenty-five years the slavery 
question remained comparatively quiet, owing to the admission of 
free and slave states in equal number. Arkansas came into the Union 
in 1886 and Michigan in 1837; Florida was admitted in 1845 and 
Iowa in 1846. 

At the conclusion of the Mexican war the United States came 
into possession of a large tract of territory in the Southwest, to which 
the advocates of slavery laid claim, and again the question came up 
as a subject for legislation, resulting in the passage of the compro- 
mise act of 1850, conunonly known as the "Omnibus Bill." The 
opponents of slavery contended that this act was a violation of the 
provisions of the Missouri Compromise, in that it sought to extend 
slavery beyond the line of 86° 80'. In 1854 came the Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill, which added fresh fuel to the already raging flames. 
Its passage was one of the principal causes for the organization of 
the republican party, which opposed the extension of slavery to any 
new territory of the United States whatever. 


In the political campaign of 1860 the issues were clearly defined 
and some of the slave states declared their intention to withdraw from 
the Union in the event of Abraham Lincoln's election to the presi- 
dency. The people of the North regarded these declarations as so 
many idle threats, made merely for political effect. Through a divi- 
sion of the democratic party, Mr. Lincoln was elected and on De- 
cember 20, 1860, South Carolina carried her threat into effect, when 
a state convention passed an ordinance of secession, declaring that the 
state's connection with the Union was severed and that all allegiance 
to the Government of the United States was at an end. Mississippi 
followed with a similar ordinance on January 9, 1861 ; Florida seceded 
on January 10th; Alabama, January 11th; Georgia, January 19th; 
Louisiana, January 26th ; and Texas, February 1st. 




All these states except Texas sent delegates to a convention at 
Montgomery, Aia., February 4, 1861, when a tentative constitution 
was adopted for a new government to he known as "The Confederate 
States of America." Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was elected 
provisional president, and Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, provi- 
sional vice president, and they were inaugurated on February 22, 
1861, the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Con- 
secjuently, when President Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, 
he found seven states in open rebellion with an organized government 
in opposition to his administration. Still, the President, his advisers 
and the people of the North generally, clung to the hope that a recon- 
ciliation could be effected and that the citizens of the seceded states 
could be induced to return to their allegiance. Vain hope! 


Early in the year 1861, relations between the North and South 
were still further strained when Maj. Robert Anderson, then in com- 
mand of the defenses of Charleston Harbor, S. C, secretly re- 
moved his garrison and supplies from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, 
because the latter could be more effectively defended in case of an 
assault by the Confederate forces then organizing at Charleston under 
the command of General Beaiu-egard. -The people of the South 
claimed that this movement was a direct violation of an agreement with 
President Buchanan, and the feeling was intensiBed when it was dis- 
covered that Major Anderson, prior to his removal, had spiked the 
guns at Fort Moultrie. On the other hand, the press of the North was 
practically unanimous in justifying Anderson's course, and in de- 
manding that additional supplies and reinforcements be sent to him 
at Fort Sumter, The persistent hammering of the Northern press 
on this line caused the war department to despatch the steamer Star 
of the West with 250 men and a stock of ammunition, provisions, 
etc., to Fort Sumter. On January 9, 1861, while passing Morris 
Island, the vessel was fired upon by a masked battery and forced to 
turn back. In the official records this incident is regarded as the 
beginning of the Civil war, though the popular awakening of the 
North did not come until about three months later. 

Not long after President Lincoln was inaugurated, General 
Beauregard made a demand upon Major Anderson for the evacua- 
tion of Fort Sumter. Anderson refused, but on April 11, 1861, 



finding his stock of provisions running low and having no hope of 
obtaining a new supply, he informed Beauregard that he would vacate 
the fort on the I5th, "unless ordered to remain and the needed supplies 
are received." This reply was not satisfactory to the Confederate 
commander, who feared that the new administration would find some 
way of getting reinforcements and supplies to Anderson that would 
enable him to hold the fort indefinitely, in which case Fort Sumter 
would be a constant menace to one of the Confederate strongholds. 
After a conference with his officers, Beauregard decided upon an 
assault. At twenty minutes after three o'clock in the morning of 
April 12, 1861, he sent word to Anderson that fire would be opened 
upon the fort within an hour. At 4:80 A. M. Capt. George Janes 
fired the signal gun from Fort Johnson, the shell bursting almost 
directly over the fort. A few seconds later a solid shot from the 
battery on Cummings' Point went crashing against Sumter's solid 
walls. The war had begun. 

Anderson's gallant little band responded promptly to the fire and 
the bombardment continued all day. Later in the afternoon fire broke 
out in one of the casemates of the fort and the Confederates in- 
creased their fire, hoping to force a surrender. That was on Fri- 
day. Anderson held out against desperate odds until Sunday, the 
14th, when he was permitted to evacuate the fort with all the honors 
of war, even to saluting his flag with fifty guns before hauling it 

When the telegraph flashed the news of Sumter's fall through the 
loyal states of the North, all hope of bringing about a peaceable 
settlement of the difi'erences was abandoned. Party lines were oblit- 
erated in the insult to the flag. Political controversies of the past 
were forgotten. There was but one sentiment — the Union must and 
shall be preserved. On Monday, April 15, 1861, the day following 
Anderson's evacuation of the fort. President Lincoln issued the fol- 


"Whereas, the laws of the United States have been for some time 
past and now are opposed and the execution thereof obstructed in the 
states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi. 
Louisiana and Texas, by combinations loo powerful to be suppressed 
by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested 
in the marshals by law: 

"Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United 



States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the 
Laws, have thought fit to call forth and hereby do call forth the militia 
of the several states of the Union to the aggregate number of 75,000, 
in order to suppress said combinations and cause the laws to be fully 

"The details for this object will be immediately communicated to 
the state authorities through the War Department. 

"I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate and aid this effort 
to maintain the honor, the integrity and the existence of our National 
Union and the perpetuity of popular government, and to redress 
wrongs already too long endured. 

"I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces 
hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places and 
properly which have been seized from the Union; and in every event 
the utmost care will be observed, consistent with the objects afore- 
said, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference 
with property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part 
of the country. 

"And I hereby command the persons composing the combina- 
tions aforesaid to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective 
abodes within twenty days from this date. 

"Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an 
extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me 
vested by the Constitution, convene both houses of Congress. Sena- 
tors and representatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their 
respective chambers at twelve o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the 4th 
day of July next, then and there to consider and determine such meas- 
ures as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to 

"In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the 
seal of the United States to be afiixed. 

"Done at the City of Washington this 15th day of April, A. D. 
1861, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty- 
fifth. "Abraham Lincoln. 

"By the President: 

"W. H. Seward, Secretary of State." 


At the time President Lincoln issued his call for 75,000 militia 
there was not a single organized militia regiment in the State of Con- 



necticut. On April 16, 1861, the day following the President's proc- 
lamation. Governor W. A. Buckingham called for a regiment of vol- 
unteers (ten companies) to supply the quota of the state asked for 
by the secretary of war. In calling for this regiment the governor 
knew that he was acting without authority of law, but he relied on 
the General Assembly at the coining session to validate his action. 
In this emergency the town meetings came to the governor's rescue. 
Practically every town in the state held a meeting, voted money to 
aid the families of those who volunteered and encouraged men to 
enlist. Men came by tens, fifteens and scores from the smaller towns 
and in larger numbers from the more populous ones, so that in a short 
time fifty-four companies instead of ten had been organized and 
tendered their services to the governor. This was more than five 
times the number asked for in the call, and Governor Buckingham 
went to Washington and induced the war department to accept three 
regiments from Connecticut instead of the one asked for in the requi- 
sition from the war department. In May the Legislature met and 
the first thing done was to ratify the governor's act in calling for 
volunteers. An appropriation of $2,000,000 was made for military 
expenses; an act was passed providing for extra pay to the amount 
of $80 a year to each and every man who enlisted; aid to soldiers' 
families was voted — $6 a month for the wife of each volunteer and 
$2 a month for each child under the age of fourteen years. Surely 
Connecticut was not lacking in patriotism when the co-operation 
of the state was needed to save the'Union. 


The First Regiment, known as the First Connecticut Volunteer 
Infantry, was mustered into the United States service at New Haven 
on April 24, 1861, for the term of three months, with the following 
officers: Daniel Tyler, colonel; George S. Bumham, lieutenant- 
colonel; John L. Chatfield, major; Justin Hodge, quartermaster; 
Theodore C. Bacon, adjutant; Dr. Henry P. Steams, surgeon; 
George N. Webber, chaplain. 

Company E was organized in Fairfield County, with Eliakim E. 
Wildman, captain; Jesse D. Stevens, first heutenant; John W. Bus- 
sing, second lieutenant. The commissioned officers all came from 
Danbury and a majority of the members of the company belonged 
in that locality. 

Company H was recruited in Bridgeport and the immediate vicin- 



ity. Of this company, at the time it was mustered in, Richard Fitz- 
gibbons was captain; Henry M. Hoyt, first lieutenant; William A. 
Lee, second lieutenant. 

Riile Company B was also a Fairfield County organization. Its 
commissioned officers were: John Speidal, captain (promoted to 
lieutenant-colonel) ; John Holzer, first lieutenant; George Louis, 
second lieutenant. 

The regi'ment, 780 strong, left New Haven on May 9, 1861, for 
Washington, where it arrived on the 18th. Other regiments reported 
for duty before the First Connecticut, but none came better equipped. 
The men brought with them rations and forage sufficient for twenty 
days and 50,000 rounds of ammunition. Owing to its superb equip- 
ment it was the first regiment to be ordered up the Potomac River. 
It went into camp at Falls Church, Virginia, where it remained until 
in July, when it was learned that the enemy was concentrating at 
Manassas Junction and the First Connecticut, along with other 
Union forces, was ordered to the front. Colonel Tyler was promoted 
to brigadier-general and in the battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861) 
the regiment was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Burnham. In 
that engagement the regiment lost eight men killed and wounded 
and nine captured. After the battle it fell back to Centreville, where 
it remained until the expiration of its term of service. It was mus- 
tered out at New Haven on July 81, 1861. 


The Second Regiment came from the eastern part of the state, 
but in the Third Infantry Fairfield County was well represented. The 
commissioned officers of Company A, a large part of which came 
from Fairfield County, were as follows: Douglass Fowler, captain; 
Gilbert Bogart, first lieutenant; Stephen D. Dyxbee, second lieu- 

Company C was a Danbury organization and was mustered in 
with James E. Moore as captain; Samuel G. Bailey, first lieutenant; 
Charles H. Hoyt, second lieutenant. This company was known as 
the "Danbury Rifles" prior to the organization of the regiment and 
its designation as "Company A." 

Company D of the Third was organized in Bridgeport and was 
mustered in Frederick Frye, captain; S. H. Gi'ay, first lieutenant; 
Elliott M. Curtis, second lieutenant. Captain Frye was promoted 



to lieutenant-colonel and Lieutenant Gray was promoted to the 

Rifle Company F also came from Fairfield County. Of this 
company Albert Stevens was captain; Wells Allis, first lieutenant; 
Isaac L. Hoyt, second lieutenant. 

The Third Regiment was muftered in by companies. On May 
19, 1861, it left Hartford and on the 23d went into camp at Camp 
Douglas at Washington. Just a month later it was ordered to Camp 
Tyler at Falls Church, Virginia, where it was brigaded with the First 
and Second Connecticut and the Eleventh Maine. The oflicers of 
the Third were: John Arnold, colonel; Allen G. Brady, lieutenant- 
colonel; Alexander Warner, major; Richard E. Holcomb, quarter- 
master; Frederick J. Peck, adjutant; Junius M. Wiley, chaplain. 
On July 16, 1861, the brigade, under command of Col. E. D. Keyes, 
broke camp and moved to the front. At Blackburn's Ford a slight 
skirmish with the Confederate forces under General Longstreet 
occurred, and on the 21st it took part in the battle of Bull Run, which 
proved so disastrous to the Union forces, and there lost 4 killed, 13 
wounded, 18 captured and 6 missing. In the retreat the Third Con- 
necticut covered the rear of the army and retired in good order. The 
regiment was mustered out at Hartford on August 12, 1861. 

Concerning the three Connecticut regiments that were mustered 
into the three months' service, Johnston, in his "History of Connecti- 
cut,"says: "They led the advance (at Bull Run), opened the battle, 
were not demoralised, and covered the retreat — a pretty fair record 
for 'mudsills* in their first battle." 


This was the second Connecticut regiment to be mustered into 
the United States service for three years. It was organized in the 
summer of 1861 as the "First Connecticut Revolving Rifle Regi- 
ment." Company A came from Fairfield County and was mustered 
in with Henry B. Stone of Danbury, captain; James A. Betts, first 
lieutenant; William A. Daniels, second lieutenant. Dr. W^illiam C. 
Bennett of Danbury was assistant regimental surgeon. 

Company E contained several Fairfield County men. Alfred 
A. Chinery of Norwalk was mustered in as first lieutenant of tlus 
company and subsequently was promoted captain. 

On July 29, 1861, the regiment left Connecticut, under command 
of Col. Orris S. Ferry of Norwalk, and was soon on the firing line. 



After taking part in the battles of Winchester, Cedar Mountain, 
Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and several minor actions with the Army 
of the Potomac, the regiment joined Gen. W. T. Sherman's army for 
the campaign against Atlanta, Ga. In that campaign it was 
engaged at Resaca, Rocky Face Ridge, Dallas, Marietta, Peach Tree 
Creek and numerous skirmishes. Several members of the regiment 
who were so unfortunate as to be captured by the enemy died in the 
notorious Andersonville prison. The Fifth was mustered out on 
July 19, 1865. 


This regiment was organized in August, 1861, and was mustered 
in for three years, with John L. Chatfield as colonel; William G. 
Ely, lieutenant-colonel; John Speidal (formerly captain of Rifle 
Company B, First Regiment), major. Major Speidal was after- 
ward promoted to lieutenant-colonel. 

Company D was raised in the towns of Stamford and Green- 
wich, and was mustered into service with Lorenzo Meeker as cap- 
tain; Charles H. Nichols, first lieutenant; John Stotlar, second 

Company H was a Bridgeport company. The commissioned offi- 
cers of this company at the time of muster in were: Henry Biebel, 
captain; George Louis, who had ser\'ed as second lieutenant in Rifle 
Company B during the three months' ser\'ice, first lieutenant; Ru- 
dolph Kost, second lieutenant. 

The commissioned officers and quite a number of the members of 
Company I also came from Bridgeport. Of this company Thomas 
Boudren was captain; Daniel J. West, first lieutenant; Stephen S. 
Stevens, second lieutenant. 

The Sixth left New Haven on September 17, 1861, with 1,008 
officers and enlisted men. In October it was ordered to South Caro- 
lina and was made a part of the Union forces operating about Charles- 
ton. It took part in the capture of Forts Walker and Beauregard 
on the 7th of November, being the first regiment to land, and it led 
the assault. In March, 1862, it assisted in the reduction of Fort 
Pulaski; was later engaged at Hilton Head; and participated in the 
engagements at Morris Island and Fort Wagner. In the assault 
on Fort Wagner Colonel Chatfield was severely wounded while lead- 
ing his men and died about a month later. In the spring of 1864 the 
regiment was ordered to Fortress Monroe and from there moved to 
Petersburg, where it joined Grant's forces in the siege, remaining 



there until after Richmond capitulated. It was mustered out at New 
Haven in August, 1865. 


This infantry regiment, of which Alfred H. Terry was colonel 
and Joseph R. Hawley, lieutenant-colonel, was organized in the fail 
of 1861. Company D was a Fairfield County company and was 
mustered in with Benjamin F. Skinner, captain; Joseph S. Deming, 
first lieutenant; Thomas Horton, second lieutenant. 

Sylvester H. Gray, who had served as first lieutenant and captain 
of Company D, Third Regiment, in the three months' service, was 
commissioned captain of Company I, and Ira E. Hicks was second 
lieutenant. Several members of this company came from Fairfield 

The service of the Seventh Regiment was very similar to that 
of the Sixth, with which it was associated practically all through the 
war, and it was mustered out about the same time. 


Edward Harland of Norwich was colonel of this regiment, which 
was organized duringithe months of September and October, 1861, 
and Peter L. Cunningham of Norwalk was lieutenant-colonel. Fair- 
field County was represented in at least two companies — Company 
A and Company H. 

Henry M. Hoyt, who- first entered the volunteer army as first 
lieutenant of Company H, First Regiment, in the three months' 
service, was mustered in as first lieutenant of Company A. On 
December 25, 1861, he was promoted to captain and at one time was 
in command of the regiment. After the war Captain Hoyt was for 
some time editor of the Bridgeport Morning News. Several of the 
non-commissioned officers and privates in this company also came 
from about Bridgeport. 

Company H was raised chiefly in Fairfield County and was mus- 
tered in with Douglass Fowler, captain; James L. Russell, first lieu- 
tenant; Thomas S. Weed, second lieutenant; Captain Fowler had 
previously seen active service as captain of Company A, Third Regi- 
ment, in the three months' sei-vice. Frederick W. Jackson of Dan- 
bury was captain of Company I, and Frederick E. Nearing of 
Brookfield, second lieutenant. 

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The Eighth left Connecticut on October 17, 1861, with 1,027 offi- 
cers and enlisted men, and joined Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside at 
Annapolis, Md. It received its baptism of fire at Newbern, N. C, 
JIarch 14, 1862. After that it was sent to the Army of the Potomac, 
took part in the battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, and was 
then engaged in the siege of Petersburg xmtil the fall of the Southern 


This regiment was mustered in by companies in the fall of 1861 
and entered the service with Thomas W. Cahill of Hartford, colonel; 
Richard Fitzgibbons of Brookfield, lieutenant-colonel; Frederick 
Frye, major. A portion of companies D and I came from Fairfield 

The commissioned officers of Company D were: Thomas C. 
Coats, captain; Richard A. Clancy, first lieutenant; G. W. Slore- 
house, second lieutenant, all from Bridgeport or the adjacent sub- 

Addis E. Payne, a Fairfield County boy, was mustered in as 
second lieutenant of Company H, and rose to the rank of captain. 
* Elliott M. Curtis, who had served as second lieutenant of Company 
D, Third Regiment, was commissioned captain of Company L; 
Charles S. Palmer, first lieutenant. 

The Ninth's first service was in the far South, being for some 
time engaged in the military operations about Baton Rouge, La., 
and along the lower Mississippi River. It was then ordered to join 
the Army of the Potomac, where it was engaged at Deep Bottom, 
Cedar Creek, a mmiber of minor actions and the siege of Peters- 
burg. It was mustered out on August 8, 1865. 


This regiment was also organized in the fall of 1861 and was 
mustered in for three years with Charles S. Russell as colonel. A 
large part of Company G came from Fairfield County. It was mus- 
tered in with Isaac K. Ho>'t as captain; George W. Smith, first lieu- 
tenant; Thomas Miller, second lieutenant. 

Company I also was largely from Fairfield County, with Daniel 
M. Mead, captain; Isaac O. Close, first lieutenant; Thomas R, Mead, 
second lieutenant. 

On the last day of October, 1861, the regiment left Connecticut 



and joined the army commanded by General Bumside. Its first 
engagement was at Roanoke Island, N. C, February 8, 1862. It 
then served in North and South Carolina and Florida until the spring 
of 1864, when it was ordered to Virginia, where it took part in 
the siege of Petersburg and a number of the engagements inci- 
dent thereto. It was mustered out in August, 1865. 


The Eleventh Infantry was mustered in by companies late in the 
year 1861 and was mustered in with T. H. C. Kingsbury as colonel. 
A large part of Company A came from Fairfield County. . Of this 
company George A. Southmayd was captain; Samuel G. Bailey, 
first heutenant; Charles H. White, second lieutenant. WiUiam 
Moegling of Danbury entered the service as captain of Company C 
and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the regiment. 

The Eleventh left the state on December 16, 1861, and most of 
its service was with the army commanded by General Bumside. 
Colonel Kingsbury was killed at the battle of Antietam, September 
17, 1862. 


This regiment followed soon after the Eleventh and was mus- 
tered in with Henry C. Deming as colonel. Company E contained a 
large number of Fairfield County men. Stephen D. Byxbee, who 
served previously as second lieutenant of Company A, Third Regi- 
ment, was commissioned captain; Gilbert Bogart, who had been first 
lieutenant of Company A, Third Regiment, wa» first lieutenant of 
this company, and E. H. Nearing was second lieutenant. 

Soon after the regiment was organized it was ordered South. It 
took part in the engagements at Port Hudson and Georgia Landing, 
and after the fall of Vicksburg was ordered to Virginia. As part 
of the Army of the Potomac it was in action at Winchester, Cedar 
Creek, Fisher's Hill, etc., after which it was in front of Petersburg 
until the close of the war. 


Of this regiment, which was mustered in about the close of the 
year 1861, Henrj' W, Birge was colonel, for ,the term of "three years 
or din-ing the war." A considerable portion of Company B came 



from Fairfield County, with Apollos Comstock as captain; William 
E. Bradley, first lieutenant; William C. Beecher, second lieutenant. 
The Thirteenth was in service the longest of any of the Connecti- 
cut regiments. In January, 1864, a large majority of the men 
re-enlisted and in December of that year those whose three years' 
term had expired were mustered out. Then the veterans and recniits 
were organized into five companies known as the "Veteran Battalion, 
Thirteenth Connecticut Volunteers." The regiment first served in 
Mississippi and Louisiana, after which it was sent to Virginia and 
there became a part of the Army of the Potomac. After the sur- 
render of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, the Thirteenth was 
kept on guard duty until April 25, 1866, when it was mustered out. 


Dwight Morris of Bridgeport was colonel of the Fourteentli. 
Company A was organized in the county and was mustered in with 
James D. Merritt, captain; George N. Morehouse, first lieutenant; 
Jliles S. Wright, second lieutenant. 

This regiment was in twenty-four engagements, including some 
of the hardest fought battles of the war. Among them were Antie- 
tam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania 
Court House, Cdld Harbor and the siege of Petersburg. It left the 
state on August 25, 1862, and was mustered out on May 81, 1865. 


The Seventeenth was practically a Fairfield County regiment. 
Of the regimental officers William H. Noble of Bridgeport was 
colonel; Charles Walker, also of Bridgeport, lieutenant-colonel; 
Albert H. Wilcoxson of Norwalk, adjutant (promoted lieutenant- 
colonel) ; Hanford N. Hayes of Bridgeport, quartermaster. 

Company A was officered by Douglass Fowler, captain; John 
McQuhae, first lieutenant; John W. Craw, second lieutenant, all of 

The commissioned officers of Company B were: Charles A. 
Hohbie, captain; Marcus Waterbury, first lieutenant; Edgar Hoyt, 
second lieutenant, all of Stamford. 

Company C came from Danbury and was mustered in with James 
K. Moore as captain; Milton H. Daniels, first lieutenant; Henry 



Quien, second lieutenant. Captain Moore had previously served as 
captain of Company C, Third Regiment. 

Bridgeport furnished Company D, of which William H. Lacey 
was captain; William L. Hubbell, first lieutenant; Samuel £. Blinn, 
second lieutenant. 

John F. Clancy of Bridgeport was mustered in as second lieu- 
tenant of Company £ and was afterward promoted to first lieuten- 

Company F was officered by Enoch Wood, captain; Htenry Allen, 
first lieutenant; William A. Kellogg, second lieutenant, all of Nor- 

In Company G James £. Dunham of Bridgeport was captain, 
and Wilson French of Stratford was first lieutenant. 

Company H was a New Canaan organization. At the time it 
was mustered in Enos Kellogg was captain ; J. Irving Benedict, first 
Ueutenant; James H. Ayres, second lieutenant. 

Company I came from Greenwich. Q{ this company D. O. Ben- 
son was captain; Thomas A. Haight, first lieutenant; David W. 
Mead, second lieutenant. 

The Town of Fairfield furnished the greater portion of Com- 
pany K, of which John J. McCarly was captain; John H. Norris, 
first lieutenant; John C. Mills, second Heutenant. 

On September 8, 1862, the Seventeenth left Connecticut for 
Washington and soon after its arrival at the national capital it was 
assigned to the Army of the Potomac. At the battle of Chancellors- 
ville it lost 120 men in killed, wounded and missing and it bore a prom- 
inent part in the battle of Gettysburg. In August, 1868, it was 
transferred to the Department of the South, where its first engage- 
ment was at Folly Island. It then served for some time in Florida 
and was mustered out at Hilton Head, South Carolina, July 9, 1865. 

twentV-thihd regiment 

This regiment was mustered in about the last of September, 1862, 
for a term of nine months. The regimental officers were: Charles 
E. L. Holmes of Waterbury, colonel; Charles W. Worden of 
Bridgeport, lieutenant-colonel; David H. Miller of Redding, major; 
Samuel Gregory of Danbury, adjutant; Dr. William H. Trow- 
bridge of Stamford, surgeon ; Ranson P. Lyon of Bethel, and George 
O. Dalton of Fairfield, assistant surgeons. 

Company B came from Danbury, with James H. Jenkins, cap- 



tain; Frederick Starr, first lieutenant; William B. Betts, second 

Newtown furnished the greater part of Company C, of which 
Julius Sanford was captain and John F. Peck, second lieutenant. 

Charles W. Hall of Bridgeport was captain of Company D; 
Stephen M. Nichols of Bridgeport, first lieutenant ; Charles E. Plumb 
of Trumbull, second lieutenant. 

Company G came from Bethel. The commissioned officers of 
this company were as follows : George S. Crof ut, captain ; Oscar S. 
Hibbard, first lieutenant; Charles Bailey, second lieutenant. 

Company I was a Bridgeport organization. William %!. May 
was captain; John G. Stevens, first Ueutenant; John W. Bucking- 
ham, second lieutenant. 

Company K was raised in the northern part of the county and 
was mustered in with Samuel G. Bailey of Danbiu-y as captain; 
Edwin -H. Nearing of Brookfield, first lieutenant; George Quien of 
Danbiiry, second lieutenant. 

On November 16, 1862, the regiment was ordered to Camp Buck- 
ingham, on Long Island, and about a month later it embarked for 
New Orleans. It was with General Banks at Port Hudson, Brash- 
ear City, etc., until the summer of 1868, when it was ordered home. 
It was mustered out at New Haven on August 31, 1863. 


The regiments between the Twenty-third and the Twenty-eighth 
were also mustered in for nine months, but only one Fairfield 
County man's name appears in the list of commissioned ofiicers in 
any of them, except that of Edward N. Goodwin of Bridgeport, who 
was second lieutenant in Company K, Twenty-fourth Regiment. 

Samuel I. Ferris of Stamford was colonel of the Twenty-eighth; 
William B. Wescome of Greenwich, major; Charles H. Brown of 
Stamford, adjutant. 

Company A was mustered in with Francis R. Leeds as captain; 
Philip Lever, first lieutenant; Frederick R. Warner, second lieuten- 
ant, all of Stamford. 

Company B also came from Stamford with the following com- 
missioned officers: Cyrus D. Jones, captain; Charles Durand, first 
lieutenant; Henry L. Wilmot, second lieutenant. 

In Company C William M. Whitney of Darien was first lieuten- 
ant ; Theodore L. Beckwith was first lieutenant in Company G, and 



William Mitchell was second lieutenant in the same company; 
George W. Middleton and James Kiley of Greenwich were captain 
and first lieutenant, respectively, of Company H. 


As originally organized the First Connecticut Cavalry was a bat- 
talion of four companies — one from each congressional district. The 
battalion was recruited in the fall of 1861 and left the state on Feb- 
ruary 20, 1862, with a strength of 846 men, commanded by Maj. 
Judson M. Lyon of Woodstock. In the year 1868 it was recruited to 
a full regiment of twelve companies and attached to the Army of the 

A part of Company D was raised in the vicinity of Bridgeport. 
Louis N. Middlebrook was captain of the company; Richard R. 
Crawford, first lieutenant; and John W. Clark, quartermaster ser- 
geant. The regiment served with the Army of the Potomac until 
the close of the war and was mustered out on August 2, 1865. 


This battery was formed at Bridgeport in August, 1862, by the 
consolidation of two batteries belonging to the state militia, and was 
mustered into the United States service with John W. Sterling, cap- 
tain; Walter S. Hotchkiss, and Philip B. Segel, first lieutenants; 
Philo B. Sherman and George Hunger, second lieutenants. It left 
Bridgeport on October 15, 1862, and served with the Army of the 
Potomac until after the battle of Gettysburg, when it was sent to 
Alabama. It assisted in the reduction of Fort Gaines and Fort 
Morgan, and then served in the Department of the Gulf until mus- 
tered out on August 9, 1865. 


The First Heavy Artillery was formerly the First Infantry of 
the State Militia. When mustered into the United States sen-ice as 
an artillery organization. Nelson L. White of Danbury was com- 
missioned lieutenant-colonel. About half of Company M came from 
Fairfield County. Uriah Wallace was captain of this company and 
Charles W. Gleason was second lieutenant, both of Bridgeport. 




Through the discovery of Cuba by Columbus on his first voyage, 
the island became a possession of Spain and remained so for almoiL 
four centuries. Havana was founded in 1588. The brigliest era of 
Cuba's history while a dependency of Spain was under the adminis- 
tration of Las Casas as governor-general, which began in 1790. 
Under his rule the people of Cuba were given greater liberties than 
ever before. In 1808, when Napoleon deposed Ferdinand of Spain, 
the Cubans declared war against France. Their loyalty at that time 
to Spain was unquestionable. But after Las Casas came governors- 
general whose policy was not so liberal and in 1848, when the French 
Republic was established, the people of the island openly advocated 
annexation to the United States. President Polk offered Spain 
$1,000,000 for the island, but the offer was refused. Twenty years 
later forbearance ceased to be a virtue with the Cubans and they 
rebelled. The insurrection was finally suppressed, though Spain sent 
over one hundred and fifty thousand troops to Cuba and the war cost 
that country over twenty million dollars. 

Spain then levied heavy taxes upon the Cubans to defray the 
expenses of the war, and this in time brought about another rebel- 
lion, which was likewise suppressed at heavy cost. Toward the close 
of the nineteenth centur5' the Cubans, led by Gomez and Garcia, 
again made an effort to throw off the Spanish yoke. General Wey- 
Icr was sent to Cuba to put down the uprising. He adopted the 
policy of driving the people of the rural districts into the cities, where 
they were held prisoners, in order that they might not be able to 
furnish supplies to the revolutionists. Many of these "reconcentra- 
dos," as they were called, actually starved to death. Weyler's cruelty 
aroused the protest of the whole civilized world and he was superseded 
by General Blanco, who was better only in that his cruelty was more 

Political conventions and state legislatures in the United States 
adopted resolutions asking this country to intervene in behalf of the 
oppressed Cubans, but nothing was done until the spring of 1898. 
Early in that year the United States battleship Maine cfropped anchor 
in the Harbor of Havana. Although the United States and Spain 
were then at peace, the presence of this armed vessel was not liked 
by the Spanish Government. On the evening of February 15, 1898, 
the Maine was blown up and over two hundred of her officers and 
men were killed. A court of inquiry afterward rendered a verdict 



that the vessel was blown up by a submarine mine exploded under 
her forward magazines. 

Excitement in the United States now rose to fever heat. "Re- 
member the Maine," became the slogan. After some pointed diplo- 
matic correspondence, which was unsatisfactory to the United States, 
Congress declared war against Spain and authorized the President 
to call for volunteers to free Cuba. President McKinley accord- 
ingly issued his proclamation asking for 12a,000 men from the 
national guard of the several states. The only Fairfield County 
troops to respond to this call was 


This battery was mustered into the United States service on IMay 
19, 1898, with Fred J. Breckbill, captain; John A. Leonard, first 
lieutenant; William A. Evans, second lieutenant. The battery was 
not called into active service, much to the regret of the members, 
and on December 20, 1898, it was mustered out. There is no doubt 
that had the opportunity offered, Battery B would have upheld the 
honor of Connecticut as did their fathers Ri the war of 1861-63. 

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