Wethersfield, Connecticut

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Wethersfield, Connecticut
Town
Joseph Webb and Isaac Stevens Houses
Joseph Webb and Isaac Stevens Houses
Official seal of Wethersfield, Connecticut
Seal
Location within Hartford County, Connecticut
Location within Hartford County, Connecticut
Coordinates: 41°42′04″N 72°40′10″W / 41.70111°N 72.66944°W / 41.70111; -72.66944Coordinates: 41°42′04″N 72°40′10″W / 41.70111°N 72.66944°W / 41.70111; -72.66944
Country United States
State Connecticut
NECTA Hartford
Region Capitol Region
Settled 1634
Incorporated 1822
Government
 • Type Council-manager
 • Town manager Jeff Bridges
 • Town council Mayor Donna H. Hemmann (R)
Dep. Mayor John J. Console (R)
David L. Drake (R)
Mike J. Hurley (R)
Jeffrey R. Kotkin (D)
Stathis Manousos (R)
Jim McAlister (R)
Paul F. Montinieri (D)
Gerri Roberts (D)
Area
 • Total 13.1 sq mi (34.0 km2)
 • Land 12.3 sq mi (31.9 km2)
 • Water 0.8 sq mi (2.1 km2)
Elevation 45 ft (14 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 26,668
 • Density 2,000/sq mi (780/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 06109
Area code(s) 860
FIPS code 09-84900
GNIS feature ID 0213533
Website www.wethersfieldct.com

Wethersfield is a town in Hartford County, Connecticut, USA, immediately south of Hartford along the Connecticut River and Interstate 91. Many records from colonial times spell the name "Weathersfield", while Native Americans called it "Pyquag".[1] The town's motto is "Ye Most Auncient Towne in Connecticut",[2] and its population was 26,668 in the 2010 census.[3] The neighborhood known as Old Wethersfield is the state's largest historic district, spanning two square miles and 1,100 buildings, many dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

History[edit]

Founded in 1634 by a Puritan settlement party including John Oldham, Robert Seeley and Nathaniel Foote, Wethersfield is arguably the oldest town in Connecticut,[4][5] depending on one's interpretation of when a remote settlement qualifies as a "town". Along with Windsor and Hartford, Wethersfield is represented by one of the three grapevines on the Flag of Connecticut, signifying the state's three oldest European settlements.[6][7] The town took its name from Wethersfield, a village in the English county of Essex.

During the Pequot War, on April 23, 1637, Wongunk chief Sequin attacked Wethersfield with Pequot help. They killed six men and three women, a number of cattle and horses, and took two young girls captive. They were daughters of Abraham Swain or William Swaine (sources vary) and were later ransomed by Dutch traders.[8]

Four witch trials and three executions for witchcraft occurred in the town in the 17th century. Mary Johnson was convicted of witchcraft and executed in 1648, Joan and John Carrington in 1651.[9] Landowner Katherine Harrison was convicted, and although her conviction was reversed, she was banished and her property seized by her neighbors.[10][11]

Silas Deane, commissioner to France during the American Revolutionary War, lived in the town. His house is now part of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum. In May 1781, at the Webb House on Main Street, General George Washington and French Lt. Gen. Rochambeau planned the Siege of Yorktown, which culminated in the independence of the then rebellious colonies.

The Wethersfield Volunteer Fire Department was chartered by the Connecticut Legislature on May 12, 1803, making it the first formally chartered fire department in Connecticut, and is one of the oldest chartered volunteer fire department in continuous existence in the United States.[12]

Wethersfield was "for a century at least, the centre of the onion trade in New England", during the late 1700s and early to middle 1800s.[13] "Outsiders dubbed the Connecticut village 'Oniontown,' with a crosshatch of affection and derision, for this was home of the world-famous Wethersfield red onion."[14]

In addition, the town was home to William G. Comstock, a well-known 19th century gardening expert and author of the era's most prominent gardening book, Order of Spring Work. In 1820, Comstock founded what would become Comstock, Ferre & Company,[15][16] currently America's oldest continuously operating seed company, pioneering the commercial sale of sealed packets of seeds as he had learned from the Amish. Other nationally prominent seed companies in and around the town are the offspring of this agricultural past.[14][17]

A meteorite fell on Wethersfield on November 8, 1982. It was the second meteorite to fall in the town in the span of 11 years, and crashed through the roof of a house without injuring the occupants, as the first Wethersfield meteorite had also done. The 1971 meteorite was sold to the Smithsonian, and the 1982 meteorite was taken up as part of a collection at the Yale Peabody Museum.[18][19]

Geography[edit]

A red onion

Wethersfield is located at 41° 42' 43" North, 72° 39' 48" West (41.7122° -72.6636°).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 13.1 square miles (34.0 km2), of which 12.3 square miles (31.9 km2) is land and 0.81 square miles (2.1 km2), or 6.10%, is water.[3]

Wethersfield is bordered by Hartford on the north, Rocky Hill on the south, Newington on the west, and across the Connecticut River by East Hartford on the northeast and Glastonbury on the east.

Demographics[edit]

As of the 2000 census,[20] there were 26,268 people, 11,214 households, and 7,412 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,119.9 people per square mile (818.7/km²). There were 11,454 housing units at an average density of 924.3 per square mile (356.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 93.19% White, 2.09% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.58% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.82% from other races, and 1.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.19% of the population.

There were 11,214 households, out of which 25.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.9% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 30.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.89.

The town population was distributed with 20.1% under the age of 18, 4.8% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 23.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 86.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $53,289, and the median income for a family was $68,154. (These figures had risen to $66,044 and $86,432 respectively as of a 2007 estimate.)[21] Males had a median income of $43,998 versus $37,443 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,930. About 2.4% of families and 4.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

The Connecticut Department of Correction and the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles have their headquarters in Wethersfield.[22][23]

The United States Postal Service operates the Wethersfield Post Office, zip code 06109.[24]

Transportation[edit]

Greater Hartford's major system of public transportation is currently Connecticut Transit (CT Transit), a Connecticut Department of Transportation-owned bus service operating routes throughout the New Haven, Stamford, Hartford and other metro areas. Wethersfield is served by route numbers 20, 43, 47, 53, 55, 61, and 91.[25]

Major roads include:

Wethersfield was once connected to Hartford by streetcar [26][27] and by passenger service on the Valley Railroad. Its tracks still provide a route for sporadic freight trains between Hartford and Old Saybrook.

Education[edit]

The Wethersfield public school system encompasses Wethersfield High School, Silas Deane Middle School, and five elementary schools: Highcrest School, Charles Wright School, Emerson-Williams School, Alfred W. Hanmer School, and Samuel B. Webb School.

Wethersfield is also the home of Corpus Christi School, which is a Catholic school of approximately 400 students from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. It was one of only fifty private schools named as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Secretary of Education, in the category of "Exemplary High Performing."[28]

Culture[edit]

Landmarks and historic district[edit]

Three buildings in Wethersfield are designated as historic landmarks by the National Register of Historic Places:

In 1970, Old Wethersfield, the district bounded by Hartford, the railroad tracks, I-91 and Rocky Hill, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This is the largest historic district in Connecticut, with two square miles containing 1,100 buildings, many dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.[14]

Other points of interest[edit]

Wethersfield Cove

Music[edit]

The historic First Church of Christ, Wethersfield, is the home of the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival USA,[34] a major national competition for young organists held annually since 1998.

Appearances in popular culture[edit]

Wethersfield was the setting for the children's novel The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, as well as the setting of the one-act play The Valiant by Holworthy Hall and Robert Middlemass.

Actor-turned-author Thomas Tryon used his native Wethersfield as the setting for his action/romance novels The Wings of the Morning and In the Fire of Spring, as well as a mystery/horror novel and film The Other.

The short film Disneyland Dream features the Barstow family from Wethersfield, including footage of their neighborhood.

The novel Parrot and Olivier in America by two-time Booker Prize-winning Australian author Peter Carey was largely set in the town of Wethersfield. The novel touches on some hallmarks of its history including the predominance of onion farming and the old state prison.

Notable people, past and present[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Connecticut Towns in the Order of their Establishment, Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  2. ^ Official Web Site of the Town of Wethersfield
  3. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Wethersfield town, Hartford County, Connecticut". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved November 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ Clark, George Larkin (1914). A History of Connecticut: Its People and Institutions. G.P.Putnam's Sons.
  5. ^ Town Profile: Wethersfield. The Connecticut Economic Digest, Connecticut Department of Labor, January 2004
  6. ^ Virtual Tour of the Connecticut Supreme Court Courtroom. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  7. ^ Historically Speaking: Stonington-born woman helped create flag, The Bulletin (Norwich), August 27, 2008
  8. ^ Konstantin, Phil (2002). This Day in North American Indian History. Da Capo Press, pp. 99-100.
  9. ^ List of New England witchcraft cases
  10. ^ Another list of New England witchcraft cases
  11. ^ Brief summary of Katherine Harrison case
  12. ^ Wethersfield Volunteer Fire Dept
  13. ^ A Great Trade Vanished. How Connecticut's Onion Monopoly Was Lost, New York Times, June 2, 1889
  14. ^ a b c Wethersfield, CT, and Onions, Yankee Magazine, August 1993
  15. ^ Connecticut seed company Comstock, Ferre & Co. returns to its roots, Boston Globe, October 16, 2011
  16. ^ Comstock, Ferre & Co
  17. ^ Wethersfield: The Cradle of American Seed Companies, Wethersfield Historical Society, January 23, 2012
  18. ^ The Wethersfield Meteorite, Yale Peabody Museum. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  19. ^ The Wethersfield Meteorites, Wethersfield Historical Society, October 24, 2011
  20. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  21. ^ American FactFinder. Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  22. ^ Contact Us. Connecticut Department of Correction, 24 Wolcott Hill Road, Wethersfield, CT 06109. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  23. ^ Contact Information. Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, 60 State Street, Wethersfield, CT 06161. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  24. ^ Location Details. United States Postal Service, 67 Beaver Road, Wethersfield, CT 06109. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  25. ^ Routes & Schedules, Connecticut Transit. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  26. ^ A Revolution in Horse Power, ConnecticutHistory.org. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  27. ^ They Even Survived Rocks on the Track, Wethersfield Historical Society, August 23, 2012
  28. ^ Corpus Christi School, Wethersfield CT
  29. ^ Great Meadows Conservation Trust, Wethersfield, Rocky Hill and Glastonbury CT
  30. ^ Introduction to Heritage Way, Wethersfield CT
  31. ^ Keeney Memorial Culture Center, Wethersfield CT
  32. ^ Wethersfield Historical Society, Wethersfield CT
  33. ^ Eleanor Buck Wolf Nature Center, Wethersfield CT
  34. ^ Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival, First Church of Christ, Wethersfield
  35. ^ Margalit Fox, Robbins Barstow, Home-Movie Maven, Dies at 91. New York Times, November 13, 2010. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  36. ^ William G. Comstock, Smithsonian Libraries.
  37. ^ Troupes present light fare for summer audiences, The Blade (Toledo), July 15, 2010
  38. ^ Department of Theatre and Dance, Otterbein University, Summer 2012
  39. ^ Foote, Abram W. (1907). Foote Family, Comprising the Genealogy and History of Nathaniel Foote of Wethersfield, Conn., and his Descendants. Marble City Press.
  40. ^ Nathaniel Foote, New England Families. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  41. ^ General Samuel Blatchley Webb, Town of Claverack, NY. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  42. ^ Gen. Samuel B. Webb, FindAGrave.com. Retrieved December 22, 2013.

External links[edit]