We are all probably aware that Connecticut was originally inhabited by many Native American tribes, but now there are 169 towns in the Nutmeg State. That is a lot of towns for a small state, but how did these towns get their start? When were they settled and by whom? Here are 11 towns in Connecticut that have an interesting beginning. Are you ready for a little history?
1. New Haven
Serving as co-capital of Connecticut from 1701 to 1873, New Haven was founded in 1638 by English Puritans. In the next year, eight streets were laid in a four-by-four grid. This was coined as the Nine Square Plan and other towns all over the United States used that same plan. That area called the New Haven Green is on the list of national historic landmarks.
Named after the more famous settlement in Massachusetts, Plymouth was incorporated in 1795. The town is situated on what was formerly Northbury which was a burying ground for the town of Waterbury. The town was founded in part, because it's first settlers believed there was a very large deposit of lead, but the lead was never found.
Greenwich got an early start back in 1640 when settlers from our northern neighbor, Massachusetts purchased the land between the Asamuck and Patomuck rivers. A dispute with Native Americans which ended in the massacre at the Indian village of Petuquapaen allowed the settlers to take even more land for farming and created what is today one of the wealthiest cities in Connecticut.
Pomfret is a town in the northeastern corner of Connecticut. It was incorporated in 1713. Pomfret got its name that means broken bridge as it was named after an estate, Pontefract, located in Yorkshire, England and owned by Governor Saltonstall.
5. New London
John Winthrop Jr. founded the English Settlement that we now know as New London in 1646. The first settlers lived in wigwams much like the Native Americans that already inhabited the land. When it came time to name the town, the residents wanted to name it London and the government preferred the name Faire Harbour. After much debate, the legislature gave in and New London became the 13th town in Connecticut.
Ansonia was originally a part of Derby until 1845 when it separated. Known for its production of brass during that time, it was an easy transition to become a leading manufacturer of clocks as well.
Settled by people from Salem, Enfield was incorporated into Massachusetts 1683 as the Freshwater Plantation. Around 1700, the name of the town was changed to Enfield. In 1749, the town became part of the Nutmeg State as a result of a lawsuit that revealed a surveyor's mistake placing a portion of Connecticut within the Massachusetts border.
8. New Fairfield
Although New Fairfield is not located right next to its namesake, the original settlers were from Fairfield, Connecticut. They purchased more than 31,000 acres for the equivalent of $300 from the Native Americans in a location north from their original town.
9. East Hampton
Incorporated in 1767, this town went through several name changes in its early history. Originally known as Chatham after a town in England, its primary industry was that of ship building due to its proximity to the Connecticut River. The town was then called Belltown USA, as several manufacturers began making bells for sleighs, farm animals and other uses. Finally in 1915, East Hampton received the name it still has today.
Land in Darien was starting to be cleared as early as 1640, but it did not become a community until around 1737 when the area became known as the Middlesex Parrish. The town was incorporated as Darien in 1840, but not until after quite an argument about the name. Many of the residents wanted to name the town after themselves and it wasn't until a sailor who had visited Darien, Panama suggested naming the town after that part of the Spanish Empire that the town finally got a name.
11. East Granby
The area of East Granby was first inhabited by several different tribes of Native Americans, much like the rest of Connecticut. It was first settled by European people in 1664 as one of four parishes in Simsbury. In 1786, the Turkey Hills Ecclesiastical Society became a section of Granby and finally in 1858, the town was incorporated as East Granby. The town had the first incorporated copper mine in America and that mine later became Old Newgate Prison, the first state prison in the United States.
Do you live in any of these towns? Or does your town have an interesting beginning that you can share? Let us know in the comments section.