Some Info & History on the Town of Branford and the state of CT


In 1638 the New Haven Colony traded “eleven coats of trucking cloth and one coat of English cloth made in the English fashion” to the Mattabesec Indians for land known as Totokett (Tidal River). The first permanent settlement was established in 1644 when people from Wethersfield came to Totokett, later renamed Branford after the town of Brentford in Middlesex County, England…..


We thank the Branford Historical Society and local residents for their assistance in providing these materials.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 28.0 square miles (73 km2); 22.0 square miles (57 km2) are land and 6.0 square miles (16 km2) (21.5%) are water, including the Branford River, Queach Brook and the Branford Supply Ponds. There are two harbors, the more central Branford Harbor and Stony Creek Harbor on the east end, and one town beach at Branford Point. Much of the town’s border with East Haven to the west is dominated by Lake Saltonstall, a reservoir owned by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority, and Saltonstall Mountain, part of the Metacomet Ridge, a mountainous trap rock ridgeline that stretches from Long Island Sound to nearly the Vermont border. The southern terminus of the Metacomet Ridge, Beacon Hill, is located in Branford.


The town of Branford includes the Thimble Islands. Neighboring towns are North Branford to the north, Guilford to the east, and East Haven to the west.



An area called “Totoket”, which became Branford, was part of the land bought from the Mattabesech Indians in 1638 by the first settlers of New Haven. Previously, the Dutch in the New Netherland settlements set up a trading post at the mouth of the Branford River in the 17th century, the source of the name “Dutch Wharf” also known as “Dutch House Wharf” and the Dutch House Quarter.  The area was also described by Ezra Stiles as containing a “Dutch Fort” as hinted at by archaeological excavations completed in the 1990s.


The town’s name is said to be derived from the town of Brentford, England.The town in early maps was actually called Brentford before being shortened to Branford.


Established in 1644, Branford grew during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the late 18th century, the first shoreline community, Stony Creek, was settled. Indian Neck and Pine Orchard were also settled, but neither of those settlements was permanent until the mid-19th century.


In 1852, the railroad helped bring new business, including Branford Lockworks, Malleable Iron Fittings Company, and the Atlantic Wire Company. The Stony Creek granite quarries also rose to prominence as a direct consequence of railroad construction.


During the mid-19th century, Branford became a popular resort area. Approximately twenty hotels opened, including Indian Point House in Stony Creek, Montowese House in Indian Neck, and Sheldon House in Pine Orchard.During the mid-20th century, Branford shed its resort image and subsequently took on many characteristics typically associated with northeastern suburbs.


In 1974, Connecticut Hospice was founded in Branford, the first hospice in the United States.



Landmarks and attractions

Branford has six historic districts that are listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places(NRHP). These include buildings in Federal, Arts and Crafts, and Queen Anne styles of architecture. Five NRHP-listed districts are Branford Center Historic District, Branford Point Historic District, Canoe Brook Historic District, Route 146 Historic District, and Stony Creek-Thimble Islands Historic District.


More than 20 historic homes and other properties are separately listed on the National Register. In total, 30 properties or districts in Branford appear in New Haven County’s NRHP listings. One example is Harrison House and Museum, a 1724 structure, which has period furnishings, local historical items, archives, a barn and an herb garden.


Cruises of the Thimble Islands depart from the Stony Creek dock, and seal-watch cruises take place in March.


Branford’s recreational facilities include several town-maintained parks and beaches owned by private foundations, hiking trails along Lake Saltonstall and a stretch of the Shoreline Greenway Trail, and 20 miles (32 km) of coastline with more than 12 marinas.


Principal communities in Branford

Branford Center

Branford Center is a neighborhood and census-designated place (CDP) in the town. The CDP encompasses the traditional town center area (roughly the area bounded by U.S. Route 1, the Amtrak railroad tracks, and the Branford River) and the area known as Branford Point (the portion of the CDP south of the railroad tracks).

The Branford Center Historic District was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The historic district represents the area of the traditional town center and excludes Branford Point. The designated portion is an irregularly-shaped 250-acre (100 ha) area that includes 557 contributing buildings out of a total of 706 buildings in the district, including garages, carriage houses, and other structures. It includes two other contributing sites: the Center Cemetery and the Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery. The district boundaries were drawn to exclude modern construction such as the Branford High School and to exclude older buildings that did not retain their “historic architectural integrity.


Architectural styles represented in the Branford Center Historic District include Greek Revival architecture, Queen Anne architecture, and Colonial Revival architecture, Italianate architecture, Federal architecture, Gothic Revival architecture, Second Empire architecture, Colonial architecture, Tudor Revival architecture, and Bungalow architecture. These are mostly vernacular buildings. Of buildings designed by professional architects, the most significant is the “classically inspired, monumental 1893 James Blackstone Memorial Library,” designed by Solon Spencer Beman of Chicago. The library incorporates Tennessee marble and features a domed, octagonal rotunda.  According to the historic district nomination, “relatively little remains in Branford Center that evokes its distant 17th- and early 18th century past.”  The district instead includes remnants of late 19th and early 20th century industrial, commercial, and residential history.


Industry is represented in buildings of the Malleable Iron Fittings Company and the Atlantic Wire Company. Government buildings include the Branford Town Hall, from 1857, a Greek Revival building. Religious institution buildings in the district include:

  • the First Baptist Church, from 1840, at 975 Main Street
  • Mary’s Roman Catholic Church’s rectory from c. 1925 (contributing) and church from 1974 (non-contributing)
  • First Congregational Church, at 1009 Main Street, a brick and stone building from 1843 in Greek Revival style, with Italianate addition from later in the century


The green is typical of a traditional New England town, and serves as Branford’s social, commercial, and governmental nerve center. It is home to many small stores, restaurants, and coffee houses, (including perennial favorites like Ashley’s Ice Cream and Common Grounds) and hosts concerts and other events, such as the annual Branford Festival which is one of the towns largest events taking place on Father’s Day weekend each year. The Branford Green is lined with churches as well as the town hall; other government facilities (such as the Branford Police Department and United States Post Office), are located on nearby Harrison Avenue. A memorial to Branford’s contributions during the American Civil War is to the right of the town hall. The historic Blackstone Library is situated in the western portion of the Center.

Branford Hills

Branford Hills sits on the western end of town and centers on the heavily commercialized strip of U.S. Route 1. Fast-food and sit-down restaurants, auto dealers, grocery stores, and several strip malls are located there. The more southern section features less dense areas with woodlands and farm featuring trails that the Branford Land Trust preserves that connect the Shoreline Greenway trail from New Haven to Madison. The northern section also features a less dense area with woodlands that surround Lake Saltonstall which also feature trail systems maintained by the Regional Water Authority, as the Lake is a reservoir for Branford.


Branford Hills features many condominium and apartment complexes. The original site of Connecticut Hospice (now the Monastery of the Glorious Cross – a semi-cloistered community of Benedictine nuns) is located in this area, on Burban Drive. Also on Burban Drive is St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, which was originally located in Short Beach.

Indian Neck

Indian Neck is in the south-central section of Branford, dominated by a peninsula bordering Branford Harbor. Both Foote Park and John B. Sliney Memorial Park are located within Indian Neck.


Back in the early to mid 20th century Indian Neck was a tourist destination. Trolley service came down to Sybil and Limewood avenues, which had its own commercial area. These included Harry’s General Store, Bud’s Bait Box, and on Limewood Ave the Waverly Inn, Madelyn’s Restaurant, Surfside Restaurant, a news, comics, candy, variety store named Lounsberry’s, and Dairy Joy Ice Cream. Much of the area contained second homes, so the beach was an active place. As the area became more year-round the commercial business slowly shut down. The Montasco Inn, owned/operated for many years by the Poirot’s was torn down in the 60’s. The landmark Waverly Inn burned to the ground in the early 1970s truly marking the end of an era. Indian Neck – Pine Orchard Volunteer Fire Company 9 is located here.


In February 2015, Stony Creek Brewery, named after the Stony Creek area of Branford, opened its doors here.

Pine Orchard

Pine Orchard is situated between Indian Neck and Stony Creek. The Pine Orchard Yacht and Country Club (P.O.Y.C.C.), the Pine Brook School (formerly Wightwood School), a private institution, and Francis Walsh Intermediate School are found here. Notable residents include Dr. Nicholas Perricone and Edward M. Kennedy, Jr.

Stony Creek

Stony Creek is located the southeastern section of town, centered on a harbor on Long Island Sound. Stony Creek has the ambiance of a small seaside village, which retains its roots as a summer vacation location with old Victorian hotels and a working granite quarry. It is known for the Thimble Islands an archipelago of glacial rocks, ranging from 17 acres (6.9 ha) down to stepping-stone size, at the harbor’s mouth. Despite their small size, they possess a wealth of history and local lore, as well as providing pleasant scenery. The islands are privately owned but visitors may get an up-close view via several tour boats, which run in the spring, summer and autumn. In the past, Stony Creek was also known for lobstering and oystering, but these industries have all but vanished in recent decades.


The village which has several unique attractions: the Thimble Islands, the Stony Creek Puppet House (known as the Legacy Theatre but may not be open), Stony Creek Museum as well as a small public beach, town docks with boat launch, playground and public library. Three local companies offer boat tours and charters of the Thimble Islands from March thru October.


Other local businesses in the village consist of a package store (liquor store), retail shop, two auto service shops, Stony Creek Depot (vintage gift shop with vacation lodging) and two restaurants: Stony Creek Market and Thimbleberry. The village residential traffic is seasonal, and peaks between Memorial Day and Labor Day but the commercial businesses are open year-round.


Stony Creek is also home to the all-male Stony Creek Fife & Drum Corps, which was founded in 1886. The Corps practices weekly at the renovated Seaside Hall. On occasional summer evenings, the Corps plays aboard the island tour boat, much to the delight of the local residents. In the past, the Corps received many awards and honors, including participating in President Eisenhower’s inaugural parade. Stony Creek is also home to the only all-female fife and drum corps, Totoket Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, who holds their practice at Seaside Hall.


A large quarry is still working and supplies the distinctive pink/orange Stony Creek granite. This granite was used for the Brooklyn Bridge, the Stony Creek Library, and the newest House Office Building in Washington, D.C. It can also be seen in the South Station terminal in Boston, Grand Central Terminal in NYC, and in the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Short Beach

Short Beach is the westernmost of Branford’s neighborhoods. About a half mile long, it is home to many small islands, the largest being Kelsey’s Island which has a few small cabins used as summer homes.


Short Beach was once a thriving shoreline vacation village that became almost a completely year-round neighborhood starting in the late 1950s. There are still million-dollar summer homes on the waterfront as well as the old vacation homes. Nowadays Short Beach is a fast-growing area that still retains a neighborhood feel. It is home to people of every economic background and is a safe and heavily policed area. Most of the old cottages have been fixed up, so much so that the area has a newer look than it did just ten years ago. There has been immigration to Short Beach and the New Haven area in general from the former Yugoslaviaas well as from the Caribbean.


Short Beach is home to half of the famous Shore Line Trolley Museum, which is also in neighboring East Haven, Connecticut. Also in Short Beach are the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club (YCYC), Shore Automotive, the Adult Day Care Center, Short Beach Church, the local fire house, which houses and is owned by Short Beach Hose, Hook and Ladder Volunteer Company 4 of the Branford Fire Department, as well as a U. S. Post Office. Short Beach has three parks, the largest being Pardee Park in the center. Short Beach has a 3-day festival at the end of summer called Short Beach Days with a parade, lip-synching contest, races, basketball, and sand castle building.


New Haven CT Transit F3, F5 and F6 buses run through Short Beach connecting the neighborhood to East Haven, New Haven, downtown Branford and go as far as Seymour and Ansonia.


Short Beach is known for a population of monk parakeets that live there. It is said that they escaped from captivity and never left the neighborhood. The parrots took up residence in the community’s trees and can be heard and seen all year long. Other interesting facts:

  • Short Beach was occupied by theQuinnipiac and possibly the Paugussett tribes in the 17th century but this information is still disputed.
  • The modern day Short Beach was founded with Branford in 1644 byBritish colonists.
  • 1920s Short Beach becomes a summer town rivaling many ofRhode Island’s beach towns in popularity.
  • From 1891 until she died in 1919, poetElla Wheeler Wilcox lived on the Short Beach coast overlooking Granite Bay.
  • Common animals in the area includemonk parakeets, known locally as “Short Beach parrots,” raccoons, mice, possums, skunks, gulls, pigeons, common terns, ducks, deer, coyotes, bobcats, turkeys and  Cornsnakes also live in some Short Beach areas.


Hotchkiss Grove

Hotchkiss Grove is located between Indian Neck and Pine Orchard and consists of First through Ninth avenues, as well as parts of Hotchkiss Grove Road, Seaview Avenue, and Dudley Avenue. It has a small beach used for swimming and mooring boats and features a raft to swim out to. Bay Point Park (The Point) is a grassy peninsula going out into the water where there used to be a small pier. Occasionally residents of Hotchkiss Grove can rent the Point to host parties. Every first Saturday of August, Hotchkiss Grove Day is held, with the day starting with a costume parade, games, and prizes. In the afternoon there are beach games in which kids compete with one another on the beach, a clam bar, and live music. Dinner, a raffle, auction, and dancing close out the evening. Historically Hotchkiss Grove was a summer community with beach cottages and dirt roads; over the past two decades most of the cottages have been converted into permanent, year round residences.

Other communities

Other minor communities and geographic features in the town are Branford Point, Brocketts Point, Brushy Plain, Cherry Hill, Clam Island, Double Beach, Goodsell Point, Granite Bay, Haycock Point, High Island, Jepson Island, Johnson’s Point, Kidd’s Island, Killam’s Point, Lanphier Cove, Little Pumpkin, Money Island, Pawson Park, Potato Island, Rockland Park, Sagamore Cove, Scotch Cap, Sumac Island, Summer Island J, Sunset Beach, Thimble Islands, Todd’s Hill, Vedder’s Point, and Wheeler Island.


Now that Malleable Iron Fittings has been largely demolished and the site turned into housing, Branford is known for high-technology and pharmaceutical companies such as 454 Life Sciences and Durata Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of differentiated therapeutic solutions for physicians and providers to advance patient care in infectious disease and acute illnesses. Also with offices and manufacturing space in Branford is American Polyfilm, Inc., which specializes in the manufacture of polyurethane film for a number of industries including industrial and high performance fabrics and medical products to name a few. Wilson Arms is in Branford, a company that produces small-caliber rifles and parts. Branford is currently home to three privately owned beer breweries: Stony Creek Brewery, Thimble Island Brewing Co, and Duvig Brewing Company.Within the town are also two large glazing and window construction companies, Massey’s Plate Glass & Aluminum and Cherry Hill Glass. Branford is also home to Autac, Inc. which has been manufacturing high quality coiled cords since 1947.


Sister city



Celebrating Branford’s Architectural Heritage

by John Herzan


Branford’s sense of place is the culmination of 350 years of settlement and re-development within the town’s 27 square miles. A rich and varied past can be read in Branford’s architecture as well its town histories. Buildings tell a story, yet it is easy to take them for granted until the bulldozer is at the door.


In 1983 the Architectural Preservation Trust of Branford was formed to identify and recognize the historic resources of the town through listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The trust identified about 800 buildings throughout the town from which four National Register districts were formed reflecting   nearly every period of the town’s historical development, as described below.


The Branford Center Historic District, roughly bounded by Route 1, the Branford River, and Monroe and Kirkham Street, was the focus of early community life. Originally part of the New Haven Colony, the Town of Branford was settled in 1644 by a group of English settlers recruited from Wethersfield by the leaders of New Haven. The colony thrived due to productive cropland and it’s located on the Branford River, which provided the only deep harbor between New Haven and New London. This district’s buildings, streets, waterfront, and open space form a cohesive example of an 18th century Connecticut farming/maritime village which developed over the course of the 19th century into the core of a small coastal town dominated by an industrial based economy. The district’s focal point is the Town Green with its old Academy and monumental public buildings. The area surrounding the green includes relatively well preserved commercial, residential and public buildings illustrating various 19th and 20th century architectural styles.


The Branford Point Historic District located principally along Harbor and Maple streets and on Bryan Road, documents the development of residential architecture in Branford between the Revolutionary and Second World Wars. Once a successful coastal farming area which retained its strong rural character well into the early 19th century, the district now contains many well-preserved examples of 19th and 20th century styles of construction, including late Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Stick, Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts/Bungalow, Shingle and Colonial Revival.


The Stony Creek/Thimble Islands Historic District and the Route 146 Historic District, each located in the southeast corner of Branford, possesses related historical significance. Both areas originally comprised a thinly settled coastal farming district. Route 146 still recalls that era because of its intact rural character. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Stony Creek evolved as a notable Connecticut summer colony and as a center for a small but profitable commercial quarrying industry. Stony Creek and the Thimble Islands contain striking examples of Victorian resort architecture as well as vernacular housing which served quarry workers.


The fourth district is a thematic nomination, Colonial Houses of Branford, which records the best preserved examples of residential architecture (C. 1700 TO C.1820), each of which is an important link to Branford’s origins as a farming community and active seaport. An example is the Harrison House on West Main Street (headquarters of the Branford Historical Society). Although no buildings from the 17th century survive in town; an unusually high number exists from the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The burst of preservation consciousness that led to inventorying and registering Branford’s historic resources will not be effective unless town government agencies, local groups, and private citizens factor historic preservation into all levels of decision making. It seems appropriate on the occasion of Branford’s 350th anniversary not only to remind ourselves of historical achievements but also to reconsider what we are doing to ensure the preservation of Branford’s treasured buildings and neighborhoods for future generations.


Further information on preservation programs is available from the Connecticut Historical Commission, 59 South Prospect Street, Hartford, Ct.06106, telephone 860-566-3005


Thimble Island History

The Thimble Islands – Little Islands with a Big History


The Thimble Islands are a chain of 365 islands in Stony Creek Harbor off the southeast coast of Branford in Long Island Sound. This archipelago was first recorded as “Thimble Islands” in Branford town records in 1739 but earlier maps show them named the “Hundred Islands.” Legends say that the islands were named for thimbleberries, a relative of our native black raspberries, but are seldom found in the area. Dutch explorer, Adrian Block was the first European to discover the islands in 1614, although the Mattabesek Indians knew them well and referred to them as Kuttomquosh, “the beautiful sea rocks.” The sizes of the islands vary greatly from acres wide down to small rocks jutting up from the sea, and the majority can only be seen during times of low tide. Today, the inhabited islands are home to local residents, small businesses, and remain steeped in folklore and history.

Photograph of the Thimble Island House on Pot Island, 1888, Stony Creek, CT – Branford Historical Society

Early History of the Thimble Islands

In the early 18th century, the islands had little to no value to local residents. The terrain proved inhospitable to farming, being too rocky and too small for sufficient crops. Additionally, most were too small to inhabit. They were, however, good spots for fishing, oystering, and seaweed harvesting. By the late 18th century the town of Branford distributed the entire chain of islands to residents descended from the original Branford settlement.

Interest in the islands began to change in the mid-1800s. In 1846, local resident William Bryan built the Thimble Island Hotel on his Pot Island land. Bryan attracted tourists and treasure hunters alike by taking advantage of the legend that Captain Kidd buried his treasure on the islands. Within a month, day-trippers piled onto the steamer Hero for tours to and around the islands. By the next summer Bryan expanded his hotel, offering two bowling alleys, boating, swimming, and fishing. During the 1850s, the railroad running between  New Haven and New London made the trip easy for those living in nearby cities, and the islands became a popular resort area offering a respite from busy city life.

Photograph of the steamer Margaret which serviced the Thimble Islands – Branford Historical Society

Advertisement from New Haven’s Columbian Register, July 8, 1865, for the steamer “Alice E. Preston” excursions to the Thimble Islands. Only a $1.00 for a round trip.


The area’s resort industry declined during the Civil War, but by the war’s end, tourism once again boomed. Residents built private summer cottages, hotels, and guesthouses and welcomed tourists from near and far. Large steamers upped their schedules and ferried people to the islands multiple times a day. By the close of the 19th century, Stony Creek Harbor filled with yachts, attracting a wealthy public from New York City and New Haven. At the start of the 20th century, the islands became more privatized. Local landowners and their families built private summer homes, although the numerous ferries continued to bring tourists to and from the islands.


1938 Hurricane Destroys Island Homes

In September 1938, a hurricane hit without warning. (Although the islands had underwater telephone lines, weather warnings did not yet exist.) The hurricane badly damaged the island properties and stranded residents. The storm swept entire residences into sea, and seven people lost their lives. The hurricane, along with the impending Great Depression, forever altered the bustling, busy islands. Hotels did not reopen and ferry service dwindled. By the 1940s, the Thimble Islands became a quiet community, for those few who could still afford it.

These days the Thimble Islands remain a quiet summer community, although recently they have witnessed a resurgence in tourism. Of the over 365 islands, only 23 are inhabited, and only six islands have electrical power brought through underwater cables. There are a total of 81 houses on the inhabited islands and they range from small summer cottages that run on generators to huge mansions complete with caretaker’s quarters and basketball courts. These properties are included in the Stony Creek-Thimble islands Historic District listed in 1988 on the National Register of Historic Places. Famous Americans also call or have called the Thimble Islands home. General Tom Thumb, of P. T. Barnum fame, once  lived on the islands, and for two years in the 1900s, President William Taft had a summer home on Davis Island.

Photograph of Thimble Island’s Harbor, 1888, Stony Creek, CT – Branford Historical Society


The islands, although predominantly used for residential purposes, today serve a number of other purposes. Yale University owns Horse Island and it is part of Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History’s Ecological Laboratory, and Bear Island has a granite quarry which, in the past, exported stone to build Grant’s Tomb, the base of the Statue of Liberty, and the Lincoln Memorial. There is also a water taxi that transports people to and from the islands. As recently as the 1970s, the wealthy Svenningsen family purchased their first Thimble Islands property, West Crib. Christine Svenningsen now owns approximately half of the populated Thimble-Island properties.





Capital:                                  Hartford

Number of Towns:                         169

Number of Counties:         8

Size:                                       3rdsmallest state (4,845 sq. miles)

Historically:                                    6thfounded colony by Thomas Hooker

Number of Universities: 39

Population:                          3.59 million

Oldest Town:                       Windsor (1633)

Newest Town:                     West Haven (1921)

Branford is:                          #27 oldest towns settled in 1639, and named in 1653

State Bird:                            American Robin

State Tree:                            Charter Oak

State Flower:                       Mount Laurel

Commonly known as:         Constitution State&  Nutmeg State

Resident Nickname:          Connecticuter


American Robin

The American Robin was adopted as the official State Bird by the General Assembly in 1943. The name Robin is applied to a number of familiar birds, but in North America it is the migratory thrush. (Turdus migratorius.)

Our Robin, a true thrush, is a migratory bird with a reddish brown or tawny breast and a loud cheery song. It was first called Robin by the early colonists, in remembrance of the beloved English bird. Despite the protests of some naturalists, we still retain that traditional name.

Familiar in the summertime throughout North America, the American Robin is seen from Alaska to Virginia. Most people do not know that many Robins spend the entire winter in New England. They roost among the evergreens in the swamps where they feed on winter berries. 


Charter Oak Tree (White Oak)

Connecticut designated the historic Charter Oak as the official state tree. The Charter Oak was a white oak tree (Quercus albus) that fell during a great storm in 1856 at well over 200 years of age. It’s memory continues as a symbol of the love of freedom that inspired our colonial ancestors to resist tyranny and demand liberty (read about the hiding of King Charles II’s charter in the majestic oak tree on the state of Connecticut’s official website: The Carter Oak. The Charter Oak is also featured on the Connecticut state quarter.


State Flower: Mount Laurel

Connecticut designated mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) as the official state flower in 1907. The mountain laurel is one of the most beautiful of native American shrubs Mountain laurel is also called ivybush, calico bush, sheep laurel, lambkill, clamoun, and spoonwood (Native Americans used to make spoons from the wood). The fragrant star-shaped white and pink flowers have attracted travelers since early colonial days (first recorded in America in 1624). Mountain laurel is an evergreen shrub native to the eastern United States (from southern Maine to northern Florida and west to Indiana and Louisiana).


The “Constitution State”

Connecticut’s official nickname is the “Constitution State”. According to the Connecticut “Connecticut was designated the Constitution State by the General Assembly in 1959. As early as the 19th Century, John Fiske, a popular historian from Connecticut made the claim that the Fundamental Orders of 1638/1639 were the first written constitution in history. Some contemporary historians dispute Fiske’s analysis. However, Simeon E. Baldwin, a former Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, defended Fiske’s view of the Fundamental Orders in Osborn’s History of Connecticut in Monographic Form by stating that ‘never had a company of men deliberately met to frame a social compact for immediate use, constituting a new and independent commonwealth, with definite officers, executive and legislative, and prescribed rules and modes of government, until the first planters of Connecticut came together for their great work on January 14th, 1638-39.’


Why Nutmeg?

“The sobriquet, the Nutmeg State, is applied to Connecticut because its early inhabitants had the reputation of being so ingenious and shrewd that they were able to make and sell wooden nutmegs. Sam Slick (Judge Halliburton) seems to be the originator of this story. Some claim that wooden nutmegs were actually sold, but they do not give either the time or the place.”

Yankee peddlers from Connecticut sold nutmegs, and an alternative story is that:

“Unknowing buyers may have failed to grate nutmegs, thinking they had to be cracked like a walnut. Nutmegs are wood, and bounce when struck. If southern customers did not grate them, they may very well have accused the Yankees of selling useless “wooden” nutmegs, unaware that they wear down to a pungent powder to season pies and breads.” Elizabeth Abbe, Librarian, the Connecticut Historical Society; Connecticut Magazine, April 1980.


History of Connecticut Colony

Connecticut was originally settled by Dutch fur traders in 1614. They sailed up the Connecticut River and built a fort near present-day Hartford.

The first English settlers arrived in Connecticut in 1633 under the leadership of Reverend Thomas Hooker. They were Puritans from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After their arrival, several colonies were established including the Colony of Connecticut, Old Saybrooke, Windsor, Hartford, and New Haven. Hartford quickly became an important center of government and trade.

Much of land settled by the colonists was purchased from the Mohegan Indians. The Pequot tribe, however, wanted the land. Soon, violence erupted between settlers and the Pequot Indians in 1637. In what came to be known as the Pequot War, The Pequots were systematically massacred by not only the settlers, but by Mohegan and Naragansett Indians that had previously warred against them. Pequot lands were subsequently divided among the settlers and other tribes. After the Pequot War, Thomas Hooker led in the drafting of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut in 1639. The document was a plan for government and is sometimes called America’s first Constitution. John Haynes was then chosen as Connecticut’s first governor. Finally, in 1662, Connecticut was issued a royal charter, which gave the colony a legal basis and approval from th


Historical Folks from Connecticut


Ethan Allan (January 21, 1738 [O.S. January 10, 1737] – February 12, 1789) Born in rural Connecticut he was a farmer, businessman, land speculator, philosopher, writer, lay theologian, and American Revolutionary War patriot, hero, and politician. He is best known as one of the founders of the U.S. state of Vermont, and for the capture of Fort Ticonderoga early in the American Revolutionary War along with Benedict Arnold.



Benedict Arnold(1741 – 1801) A captain of the Colonial Army turned British spy. He is famous for burning down the town of New London; since then, his name has meant “traitor;” born in Norwich.



Phineas T. Barnum(1810 – 1891) P.T. Barnum was born in 1810 in Bethel, Connecticut. He was one of the most colorful and well-known personalities in American history. Barnum was the founding force behind one of America’s most famous circuses: Barnum & Bailey Circus.



Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)(1835 – 1910) Author ofThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; lived in Hartford.



Samuel Colt (1814 – 1862) Inventor and founder of the Colt firearm company; born in Hartford.



Charles Goodyear (1800 – 1860) Inventor of vulcanized rubber; born in New Haven.



Ella Grasso(1919 – 1981) The first woman to be elected governor of a state; born in Windsor Locks.



Dorothy Hamill(1956 – ) Olympic gold medallist and professional ice skater with the Ice Capades; grew up in Riverside.



Nathan Hale(1755 -1776) A martyr soldier of the American Revolution; born in Coventry.



Charles IvesComposer Charles Ives was born in Danbury, Connecticut in 1874. He is recognized as the most original and significant American composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Ives was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1947.



Mary Kies, The first woman to receive a US patent, received on May 15th, 1809 for a method of weaving straw with silk; from South Killingly.



Edwin Herbert Land, inventor and physicist, was born in Bridgeport, Ct. in 1910. Land and a group of scientists founded the Polaroid Company in 1937. During WWII, the company produced military related items like target finders and dark-adaptation glasses. Their most successful product was the Polaroid Land Camera, the first “instant” camera. It was introduced in the late 1940s.



Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.(November 29, 1908 – April 4, 1972) was a Baptist pastor and an American politician, who represented Harlem, New York City, in the United States House of Representatives (1945–71). He was the first person of African-American descent to be elected from New York to Congress. Oscar Stanton De Priest of Illinois was the first black person to be elected to Congress in the 20th century; Powell was the fourth. Blacks in the South were disenfranchised and excluded from politics until after passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s.



Harriet Beecher Stowe(June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author. Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, on June 14, 1811. She was the seventh of 13 children, born to outspoken religious leader Lyman Beecher and Roxana (Foote), a deeply religious woman who died when Stowe was only five years old. Her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) was a depiction of life for African Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom. It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. She wrote more than 20 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was influential both for her writings and her public stands on social issues of the day.



Noah Webster(1758 – 1843) published the first American dictionary in 1810. Webster was born in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1758. He was the first person to document distinctively American words such as skunk, hickory, and chowder. He also modernized spellings of words, changing the traditional English “musick” to “music,” “centre” to “center,” and “plough” to “plow.”



School Location Control Carnegie Classification Enrollment Year founded
Albertus Magnus College New Haven Private Masters university 1555 1925
Asnuntuck Community College Enfield Public Associates college 1945 1969[6]
Capital Community College Hartford Public Associates college 3302 1992[7]
Central Connecticut State University New Britain Public Masters university 11784 1849
Charter Oak State College New Britain Public Baccalaureate college 1583 1973
Connecticut College New London Private Baccalaureate college 1865 1911
Eastern Connecticut State University Willimantic Public Masters university 5362 1889
Fairfield University Fairfield Private Masters university 5137 1942
Gateway Community College New Haven Public Associates college 7217 1992[8]
Goodwin College East Hartford Private Health professions school 3546 1999[9]
Hartford Seminary Hartford Private Faith-related institution 138 1833[10]
Holy Apostles College and Seminary Cromwell Private Faith-related institution 464 1956
Housatonic Community College Bridgeport Public Associates college 5143 1967[11]
Lincoln College of New England Southington Private Baccalaureate/associate’s college 536 1966
Manchester Community College Manchester Public Associates college 6780 1963[12]
Middlesex Community College Middletown Public Associates college 2733 1966[13]
Mitchell College New London Private Baccalaureate college 677 1938
Naugatuck Valley Community College Waterbury Public Associates college 6651 1962[14]
Northwestern Connecticut Community College Winsted Public Associates college 1406 1965[15]
Norwalk Community College Norwalk Public Associates college 5800 1961[16]


School Location Control Carnegie Classification Enrollment Year founded
Paier College of Art Hamden Private Arts school 103 1946
Post University Waterbury Private Masters university 7681 1890[17]
Quinebaug Valley Community College Danielson Public Associates college 1559 1969[18]
Quinnipiac University Hamden Private Masters university 9960 1929
Sacred Heart University Fairfield Private Masters university 8532 1963
Southern Connecticut State University New Haven Public Masters university 10320 1893
St. Vincent’s College Bridgeport Private Health professions school 763 1991
Three Rivers Community College Norwich Public Associates college 4245 1992[19]
Trinity College Hartford Private Baccalaureate college 2350 1823
Tunxis Community College Farmington Public Associates college 3767 1969[20]
United States Coast Guard Academy New London Public Baccalaureate college 986 1876
University of Bridgeport Bridgeport Private Masters university 5658 1927
University of Connecticut Storrs Public Doctoral university 32,027[21] 1881
University of Hartford West Hartford Private Doctoral university 6714 1877
University of New Haven West Haven Private Masters university 6835 1920
University of Saint Joseph West Hartford Private Masters university 2467 1932
Wesleyan University Middletown Private Baccalaureate college 3206 1831
Western Connecticut State University Danbury Public Masters university 5721 1903
Yale University New Haven Private Doctoral university 12458 1701