History of the Town
ABOUT THE TOWN
The town of Rocky Hill was first settled in 1650 as part of Wethersfield and became Stepney Parish in 1722, when residents of the southern end of town were granted permission for a church of their own and 60 acres of land were set aside. In 1843, it attained separate town status as Rocky Hill, so named for a ridge that rises in the northeast section. This area is now Rocky Hill Quarry Park, acquired under the Connecticut Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program.
The Connecticut River has always figured prominently in Rocky Hill’s history. Floods occurring about 1700 changed its course and hindered travel upstream so that Rocky Hill became the head of navigation for large vessels. Ferry Park area was a busy shipyard and the chief port of the region. Trade was extensive with the West Indies and privateers sailed from Stepney during the Revolutionary War. Many old-time sea captains’ houses are still standing.
CENTER CEMETERY – “THE OLD BURYING YARD”
In 1731, Stepney Parish members asked for and received 1½ acres of land to start a cemetery. The first burial occurred later that year, when an infant daughter of Benjamin and Mary Deming was interred. She was born and died on June 2, 1731. Since then, numerous Rocky Hill residents, including many prominent ones, have been buried there. The cemetery is still in use and contains a variety of markers from colonial to present-day.
The Historical Society’s Ethel Miner Cooke Historical and Genealogical Library contains information on the cemetery and burials, established during several surveys, including one done by the WPA in 1934 and others completed by members more recently.
THE CONNECTICUT FOUNDRY CO.
A succession of industrial buildings stood beside the Connecticut River from 1835 to 1881, when a huge foundry was built by ownership subscription. In 1918, that building burned down. The present building was erected in 1919 by the Connecticut Foundry Co., established by A. O. Knudsen, Arthur Enquist and Ernest Spencer. The company remained in business until 1983, when it closed on March 30.
The company made a wide variety of items of cast iron, from range oil burners, piston-ring moldings and lawn mower parts to bookends and decorative plaques. Those who designed and made the molds were not only artisans, but artists as well. The company’s customers included such well-known corporations as Stanley, Dictaphone, Remington Rand, GE and numerous others.
The Foundry buildings still stand, in dilapidated condition, at the foot of Glastonbury Avenue in Rocky Hill. The Historical Society has on exhibit a number of artifacts related to the Foundry.
Suggestion for further reading:
Rocky Hill, CT
From the Memorial History of Hartford County, CT
Edited by: J Hammond Trumbull LL.D.
Published by Edward L. Osgood, 1886 Excerpted by Sherman W. Adams