Archive for the ‘Cultural History’ Category

Notice: Annual Meeting & Special Event – May 10

April 22, 2013

Annual Meeting (6PM) and Special Presentation (7:30PM) about Selden Neck Island in History – United Methodist Church; 623 Old Main St, Rocky Hill

On Friday May 10 at 7:30 PM, in conjunction with our annual meeting, the Historical Society of Rocky Hill will present a 45 minute visual program, “Quarries of Selden Neck” by historian David Wordell. Mr. Wordell will be present to entertain questions and discussion following the viewing. Location: United Methodist Church, 623 Old Main Street, Rocky Hill. $10.00 per person. Enjoy coffee and dessert as we elect our officers for 2013-14.

The program details the days of quarries and schooners bound for New York City as well as other facts and folklore about Selden Island. Selden Neck Island is located in the Connecticut River between Lyme and Deep River.
More Information

Selden Island in the Connecticut River

Selden Island in the Connecticut River

Quarries of Selden by David Wordell

Quarries of Selden by David Wordell

Dividend Pond Trails & Archeological District

May 25, 2012

Grand Opening: Dividend Pond Trails-Old Forge Road, Rocky Hill CT

North Brick School House – Rocky Hill

May 18, 2012

 Click on photo to enlarge

Judy Fleming of Atlanta GA writes: (May 15, 2012)

Came across the attached picture and trying to determine if this Schoolhouse still exists. My grandmother went to school there, it would have been in approx. 1893-1896. It only says “North Brick Schoolhouse” under the picture.

 My grandparents and great grandparents lived in Rocky Hill – Morton’s and Schoenborn’s with Aunt being married to Frank Robbins who had a farm there  in Rocky Hill.

 Any information you could share would be greatly appreciated.

Rocky Hill Historical Society Presents “Memories of G. Fox”

November 5, 2011

Sunday November 20, 2011 – Memories of Hartford’s Iconic Department Store, G. Fox… (previously scheduled for October 30)

G. Fox & Co, from an old postcard

November 20, 2011

From Hula Hoops to High Fashion: G. Fox in the 1950’s
The Rocky Hill Historical Society and the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) are teaming up to bring you: “From Hula Hoops to High Fashion: G. Fox in the 1950’s”, on Sunday, November 20, 2011, in Chapin Hall, at the Rocky Hill Congregational Church, 805 Old Main St., Rocky Hill, from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm.

Elizabeth Abbe, director of public outreach at the Connecticut Historical Society, will lead you down memory lane with a look at Connecticut’s favorite department store.  She will take you back, floor by floor, to the days when G. Fox was the largest privately-owned department store in the U.S.

For most Connecticut residents the words “G. Fox” hold powerful associations.  They remember a tall department store on Main Street in Hartford filled with every imaginable garment, home furnishing or domestic necessity.  They recall the broad front windows decorated for Christmas or shopping trips for back-to-school clothes.  They remember cream cheese on date-nut bread with mother in the Connecticut Room.  Elizabeth herself, who grew up in Wethersfield, says she remembers how special it was to take the bus “uptown” to spend the day shopping with her mother at Fox’s.

Elizabeth will also give you some insight into the woman who made every shopping experience a joy – Beatrice Fox Auerbach.  In addition to a substantial collection of clothing, furniture, and photographs tied to the story of G. Fox, the Connecticut Historical Society houses some of Mrs. Auerbach’s personal records including correspondence between the G. Fox President and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

So revisit G. Fox, where the customer was always right!  Bring your memories along with your favorite purchases from G. Fox.  We’ll have some tables for display of G. Fox treasures and time for you to share a favorite G. Fox story.

There is no charge for this program but freewill donations will be gratefully accepted.  For more information please call (860) 563-6704.

Interesting history of G. Fox & Co. click here

Events Planned for October at Rocky Hill Historical Society

September 25, 2011

Complete details about all of these events is on the page Upcoming Events…(please click link)

October 9, (Sunday) 2011

The Rocky Hill Historical Society is sponsoring a program on local farm implements on Sunday, October
9, 2011, at the Town Hall Fountain on Old Main St. in Rocky Hill…(complete details click here)

October 29, 2011
Tag Sale

The Rocky Hill Historical Society will be holding a tag sale on Saturday, October 29, 2011, at the
Academy Hall Museum at 785 Old Main St., in Rocky Hill, from 9:00am to 2:00 pm…(complete details click here)

October 30, 2011

From Hula Hoops to High Fashion: Hartford’s iconic G. Fox in the 1950’s…(complete details click here)

Shoes Hidden in Old Houses to Ward off Evil Spirits…

August 22, 2011

From our Inquiries from Readers page (received today)

Early 19th c Shoe (Concealment Piece)

Chris M. from Indiana writes:

I am a graduate student at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. As part of my Master’s thesis, I am researching objects deliberately concealed in buildings for good luck. I am particularly interested in the practice of concealing old shoes or boots in buildings, which seems to have been brought to the U.S. from Great Britain.

It is my understanding that a shoe was found in a house in Rocky  Hill, CT. I am trying to find out more about the shoe, where exactly it was found in the building, when it might have been concealed and by whom. If you know anything about this object or any other unusual objects found in the walls, ceilings, floors, or chimneys of other historic buildings in the area (horseshoes, old garments, bottles with unusual contents, strange animal remains, iron tools, coins, etc.), I would greatly appreciate it if you would contact me or forward my email to someone who may be able to help.

I look forward to your reply.

We replied:

“You are in luck as I was one of the persons finding the old shoe hidden as a “concealment piece” (as such things were then known) in the Rocky Hill home where I lived until ten years ago. The shoe was found some 15 years or so ago and after examining, photographing, and exhibiting it to society members we replaced the shoe behind the panelling next the hall fireplace where we found it. (see attached photo 18C Parlor…) The room in the photograph is actually what is known as the hall and the shoe was found behind the panelling near the upper left side of the hearth. The date of the house is c 1750; here is a view from 2006.
The shoe may be viewed in this composite view made in 2009. Other, more detailed views (you can enlarge the images for greater detail) are here,here,and here. If you learned about this shoe from these photos on the web then  you may already have seen them. The shoe is made of leather and is fastened together with wooden pegs.”
Her followup message:

…would it be possible to use the photos of the shoe and house in my thesis? If so, how would you like me to credit them?

“I also wanted to let you know that I sent the photos of the shoe to the cobbler at Colonial Williamsburg and he identified the shoe as a “man’s or boy’s, 1820s-40ish, round toed w/pegged repairs. Waxed-calf with “dog-leg” side seam.” Which is interesting because it post-dates the house, suggesting the shoe was concealed at a later date, perhaps during an episode of repair or remodeling.”

Save the Ferry Public Hearing Tonight!

August 22, 2011
Please  attend tonight!

DOT Public Information 
on the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry
August 22,  6:00 
RH Town Council Chambers
Written statements suggested.
Ed Chiucarello

Memorial Day 2011 State Soldiers’ Home in Rocky Hill

May 30, 2011

This article is republished from Connecticut Monuments web site featuring Connecticut History in Granite and Bronze. The original post is here. (Click on all photos to enlgarge)

Returned Soldier Monument- Rocky Hill Veterans’ Home

Returned Soldier Monument, Rocky Hill

An 1867 marble statue depicting a Civil War cavalry officer being greeted by a young girl stands outside Connecticut’s home for veterans in Rocky Hill.

The statue was originally located in Darien at the state’s first veterans’ facility, Fitch’s Home for Soldiers and Orphans. That facility was founded by Benjamin Fitch, a wealthy dry goods merchant, who helped raise a regiment and promised its members he would care for wounded veterans and their orphaned children.

Fitch’s home became a state facility, and the population ebbed and flowed between the Civil War and the World War I before peaking at more than 1,000 soldiers during the Great Depression.

Recognizing the need for a bigger facility, the state opened the Rocky Hill home for veterans. The vets who moved to Rocky Hill included a 97-year-old Civil War veteran.

Returned Soldier Monument, Rocky Hill

In 1950, the Returned Soldier statue was moved from the former Fitch Home site to Spring Grove Cemetery, the site of a memorial flagpole we visited in March. More than 2,100 vets are buried at Spring Grove, the first veterans’ cemetery in the state.

In 1985, the statue was moved to Rocky Hill, restored and placed on its granite base.

The statue was sculpted by Larkin Goldsmith Mead, a New Hampshire native who moved to Italy. Some of his other public works include the statues on Abraham Lincoln’s tomb in Springfield, Ill.

On Veterans Day, we thank the men and women (and their families) who have  served our country.

Returned Soldier Monument, Rocky Hill

Returned Soldier Monument, Rocky Hill

Sources: Connecticut Historical Society: Civil War Monuments of Connecticut

History of Connecticut Veterans’ Home

Convicted Witch, Alse Young of Windsor Hanged May 26, 1647

May 26, 2011

Salem Witch Hanging

Alse (or Alice) Young of Windsor CT, born c 1600. was the first person known to have been executed for witchcraft in the thirteen American colonies. Her crime was reportedly nothing more serious than preparing herbal remedies for neighbors. This event marked  the start of the terrible saga of persecution, torture, and death culminating in the Salem trails 45 years later. Young was hanged May 26, 1647 in the meetinghouse square in Hartford, the site of the present Old State House.

The next year (1648) Massachusetts employed witch finders who were trained to ferret out supposed witches. These ruthless men were adept at prying  confessions out of their victims after examining them for suspicious witch marks such as the notorious dead nip *…and probing them with witch pins **.

The Connecticut State Library notes; “Twenty people were accused of witchcraft in Connecticut during the seventeenth century, thirteen in the Hartford witchcraft outbreak of 1662-1663 and seven during the Fairfield outbreak of 1692-1693. Seven of those were tried and four were executed. The Samuel Wyllys Papers at the Connecticut State Library contains documents from these trials. The Matthew Grant Diary established the identity of the first person executed as a witch in New England.”

Is there history of witches accused in Rocky Hill? You will recall that during these times, and until 1843, Rocky Hill was a part of Wethersfield known as Stepney Parish. The year after Alse Young’s execution Mary Johnson of Wethersfield was convicted and likely hanged. In 1651 John and Joan Carrington of Wethersfield were found guilty and executed. In other cases from Wethersfield in 1662 and 1669 two women and one man were convicted yet they were spared death. No accused were executed after 1662.  “A single witness was all it took to support a witchcraft conviction prior to 1662. Beginning that year, Connecticut required simultaneous witnessing of the same incident by two or more people.” However, witchcraft remained a crime punishable by death in Connecticut until the capital laws were rewritten in 1750. Source

Suggestions for further reading:Walking the Berkshires


* dead-nip or devil’s mark: a blue mark on the body not caused by injury or blow or from any known cause

** witch pins:  There was numerous means of testing a witch. Several areas of the body where pins could be struck where no pain would be felt. The accused were stripped in a belief that they possessed a third nipple from which the devil and his imps could suckle. It was also thought that water, being a life source, would help to detect a witch. A witch placed in water would always float. Source

What is the Origin of the Crime of “Witchcraft?”

The crime of witchcraft was included in laws enacted by the parliament of England during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign (1558-1603). Witchcraft and its penalty were thought to be the express law of God as stated in Exodus 22: 18 (“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”), Leviticus 20: 27 (“A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them”), and Deuteronomy 18: 10 (“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch” (quotes from the Holy Bible, King James Version).

In each of the New England colonies, witchcraft was a capital crime that involved having some type of relationship with or entertaining Satan. The earliest laws of Connecticut and New Haven colonies, the Blue Laws, make it a capital offense for “any man or woman [to] bee a Witch, that is, hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit, they shall bee put to death. ” Although the witchcraft crimes did not require any harm to result from this relationship or entertainment, in practice there had to be harm that warranted the effort and expense of a formal proceeding. In addition to a formal witchcraft charge, allegations of witchcraft were often the bases for civil suits for slander.

17th Century Witch Trial


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