1697 – Norwalk residents are planning to buy land to the north of their settlement, and the General Assembly appoints a committee to inspect a tract “lying about fourteen miles northward of the town of Norwalk to settle a plantation there.”
May 9, 1706 – Little has happened with plans for a plantation north of Norwalk until this day when the General Assembly appoints Captain Jonathan Selleck, David Waterbury and John Copp to visit the area. Complications arise and nothing happens.
May 3, 1708 – Things are starting to happen. John Copp and John Raymond visit the territory north of Norwalk to inspect its worthiness for settlement. They may have camped at Settlers Rock at the south edge of today’s Ridgefield Cemetery on North Salem Road.
May 10, 1708 – Copp and Raymond report on the five square miles they investigated. They “find it to be accommodated with upland considerably good & for quantity sufficient for thirty families, or more, and as for meedow & meedow land, something surpassing (both for quantity as well as quality) what is common to be found in many larger plantations.” A petition is prepared for the General Assembly.
May 13, 1708 – The Copp-Raymond report, along with a petition signed by 26 people who want to settle a new plantation, is received by the General Assembly. The petitioners report they have negotiated with the local Indians and are ready to complete a deal.
May 18, 1708 – The Lower House of the General Assembly approves plans for the prospective settlers to buy land from the Indians.
Sept. 30, 1708 – “Catoonah, sachem of Ramapoo Indians and Associates within her Majesties province of New York in America,” sells the first settlers an estimated 20,000 acres. The price is 100 pounds.
Nov. 1, 1708 – A Town Meeting in Norwalk appoints Samuel Keeler Sr., Matthew Seamer [Seymour], Joseph Bouton, and John Copp “to lay out the Town Plott,” consisting of home lots at two and a half acres, plus five-acre lots to the rear of the home lots. “The said Committee is impowered to act their best skill and judgement to equalize the want of quality by adding or allowing the quantity to such home lotts & division of addition as they in judgement may find wanting.”
Nov. 8, 1708 – The committee to design a Town Plott reports it needs more time to adjust lot sizes according to the value of the land.
Nov. 25, 1708 – The layout of the town lots is completed and the proprietors, meeting in Norwalk, have a lottery to distribute the 25 original home lots on Main Street.
Nov. 25, 1708 – The proprietors lay out “ye burying yard” on upper Wilton Road East near Main Street. At least 40 people are buried there before townspeople in 1735 decide to create a new cemetery at the north end of Main Street and bury people there instead.
March 1, 1709 – The Proprietors agree to name a committee to divide up “plow land” within a mile and a half of the center of town.
March 28, 1709 – The plow land committee recommends six acre lots, with some larger if the lot contains some marginal land.
April 22, 1709 – The proprietors agree to allow Ebenezer Smith of Milford to join their numbers. He is given house lot 26, now the site of the Ridgefield Library, and the family later operates a tavern there.
May 12, 1709 – The General Assembly instructs Major Peter Burr, John Copp and Josiah Starr to draw up a survey of the proposed new town between Norwalk and Danbury.
May 23, 1709 – Sarah Benedict, daughter of James and Sarah Benedict, is born. She is said to be the first non-native person born in what will soon be called Ridgefield.
Oct. 13, 1709 – The General Assembly, meeting in New Haven, officially grants the first settlers permission to form a town, and approves the name, “Ridgefield.”
Oct. 13, 1709 – Matthew St. John marries Anne Whitne, said to be the first wedding in Ridgefield.
Oct. 31, 1709 – Joseph Benedict of Norwalk is admitted as the town’s 27th landowner.
Dec. 23, 1709 – A Town Meeting is held, believed to be the first in Ridgefield. Previous Town Meetings had been in Norwalk. John Copp is appointed register or town clerk.
Feb. 3, 1710 – John Copp is sworn in as town
Although he holds this office, serves as a teacher and surveyor, there
record of his ever having been a homeowner in Ridgefield. He did have a
what is now Branchville, however, but probably lived in Norwalk.
May 3, 1710 – A Town Meeting convened in Norwalk defines the Ridgefield-Norwalk town line [now Ridgefield-Wilton line] as to “begin at Spruce Tree known and standing by ye Hop Meadow Branch, and Runn three quarters of a Mile from Said Tree upon a North North West Course lacking one Degree and at ye Termination of said three quarters of a Mile to run the Cross Dividend line West South West and East North East lacking one Degree to ye East and West Division – between Norwalk and Fairfield and Norwalk and Stamford.” By the 1970s, the exact route of this line is still unclear, and Wilton and Ridgefield have many debates over it.
July 9, 1711 – Benjamin Hickock, one of the original 25 home lot owners, sells his at the north corner of Main Street and King Lane to Thomas Rockwell, bringing a family here whose descendants are still in town in 2008.
Feb. 14, 1712 – Uzziell Hyatt, son of Thomas and Experience Hyatt, dies. It is said to be the first death recorded in the new town of Ridgefield.
May 6, 1712 – To entice a blacksmith to move to Ridgefield, the Proprietors offer Benjamin Burt of Norwalk a share in the new town and a lot at the corner of Main and Catoonah Streets [where the Carnall Insurance building is today]. He accepts, and establishes a family that remains a part of the community well into the 20th Century.
June 3, 1712 – Jonathan Stevens, one of the original home lot owners, has died and his mother, Mary Bouton inherits the land at the southwest corner of Main and Catoonah Streets. On this day, she sells the property to David Scott of Fairfield, establishing a Ridgefield family that still exists in town today. Sections of town – Scotland and Scotts Ridge – recall the family, too, and David Scott’s house is now the Ridgefield Historical Society.
June 12, 1712 – The Proprietors grant Milford Samuel Smith land lying on both side of “Peespunk Spring.” It is the first mention a little-known locality, named for the Indian word for a “sweat lodge” – the equivalent of a sauna. The Indians would heat themselves up in the peespunk, then cool themselves off in the spring.
Oct. 9, 1712 – The General Assembly establishes a church in Ridgefield by allowing the town to tax its residents “toward the settling and maintaining of the ministry.”
Nov. 12, 1712 – The Town Meeting defines the Meeting House Yard – the village green. Much of it is today the lawn of Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church. Here many ceremonies are to take place, and the local militia will train.
Dec. 16, 1713 – The Town of Norwalk votes to create a road from there to Ridgefield.
April 1, 1714 – A Town Meeting agrees to appoint Ebenezer Smith and James Benedict as a committee “to rectifie highways, where they shall be found needful to be rectified to take from mens land where there is need, and to make it up to them again as well as they can to suit them.”
May 1714 – The General Assembly in Hartford assigns Ridgefield an official horse brand, which is an upside down heart.
May 22, 1714 – Representing Queen Anne of England, Governor Gurdon Saltonstall signs the patent officially declaring Ridgefield a town within the colony of Connecticut.
Dec. 13, 1714 – The Annual Town Meeting elects the Rev. Thomas Hauley, the town’s new minister, as its register or town clerk, to keep all the records.
March 18, 1715 – The Proprietors pay four pounds to “Tackora, alias Oreneca, Indian,” for land in the Scotland and Ridgebury areas, including the outlet of Lake Mamanasco.
Jan. 30, 1716 – For a share in the new town, Daniel Sherwood agrees to come to Ridgefield and operate a grist mill at the outlet of Lake Mamanasco, land that had been purchased the year before from Tackora. Sherwood’s homesite is in 2008 the building housing Planet Pizza and Dr. George Amatuzzi’s optometry office.
April 30, 1716 – The county surveyor surveys the Ridgefield-Danbury line, but only as far as Mopus Ridge. He “proceeded no further by reason of York Line not being run.” In other words, they do not know where Connecticut ends and New York begins.
Nov. 6, 1717 – The boundary between Ridgefield and Norwalk [now Wilton] is further defined.
Nov. 18, 1717 – The Proprietors distribute several one-acre parcels “lying all together on ye hill on ye east side of Horsepound Swamp, bounded north by Bedford Road…” The deeds suggest the settlers had already set up a pound for stray horses along Old South Salem Road near the New York line.
Dec. 24, 1717 – A town meeting votes unanimously to “send to Mr. Reed for advice in our present difficulties in ye publick affairs and to fee him therefor.” The “difficulties” are never explained. It may have been the first (of many) times town officials sought the advice of a lawyer.
Feb. 21, 1718 – The Town Meeting votes to compensate with equivalent land property people lost because of the creation of the new road to Norwalk [probably Route 33, Wilton Road West].
July 27, 1718 – John Sturtevant, one of the original settlers, dies before he is able to develop his Main Street lot. Twenty-two years later, the land is set aside for building an Episcopal church.
Dec. 18, 1718 – A Town Meeting appoints Ebenezer Smith the “tavern keeper.”
1719 – The Smith family is operating an inn on Main Street, where the Ridgefield Library is today.
April 21, 1719 – Mary Scott sues her husband David Scott in Fairfield County Court, apparently for abandoning his family, and is given three acres of land. The land is probably near Lake Mamanasco and she becomes the first Scott settler in a neighborhood that is to one day take her name, Scotland District.
May 11, 1719 – Ridgefield petitions the General Assembly for “ye grant and donations of a small tract or gusset of land lying between ye bounds of Danbury and Ridgefield; beginning at yet southwest corner of Danbury line, extending northward by Danbury line four miles – hence westward to York line.” Danbury objects, saying it will “suffer great loss and damage,” but eventually Ridgefield gets the land and soon after, it is returned to Danbury.
1721 – The town votes to spend “eight pounds for ye support of a school.” It is the first mention of schooling in the town records.
1721 – James Bennett of Fairfield moves to Ridgefield, buys a sizable tract, and lends his name to a large section of town called Bennett’s Farm, and later to the Bennett’s Pond and its park.
Feb. 15, 1721 – The Proprietors deed Ebenezer Smith “seven acres, three roods, lying on Titicus, north of Fort Hill.” The mysterious name, never explained in histories, probably stems from an Indian fort that stood somewhere on the hill west of North Salem Road.
Feb. 21, 1721 – Main Street is officially laid out and defined as eight rods – 132 feet – wide.
Nov. 22, 1721 – The Proprietors complete the third purchase from the Indians, paying six pounds for a sizable tract on West Mountain bordering Round Pond and including land now in Lewisboro, N.Y., running north through the area around Ridgefield High School and Mopus Bridge Road and east to Barlow Mountain and North Street.
1723 – The Rev. Samuel Johnson, recently ordained in England, becomes the rector of the Episcopal Church in Stratford, and serves as a missionary priest to Ridgefield, which has about 20 families following the Church of England. He is considered the founder of St. Stephen’s Church.
Dec. 19, 1723 – The Annual Town Meeting votes to build a “meetinghouse” on the green that is 34 feet wide and 40 feet long, “and 28 feet between the sill and the plate.”
Dec. 20, 1723 – The adjourned Annual Town Meeting votes that “ye Rhode to Norwalk pass over ye Ball Hill, where it was laid out by ye jury.” The final layout near the Wilton line will cause many problems in the next century.
May 1725 – The new town is suffering from poverty and asks the General Assembly to exempt it from colony taxes. The exemption is granted.
Dec. 13, 1725 – The Town Meeting agrees to pay the Rev. Thomas Hauley, minister of the church, 70 pounds a year for three years, and to add 10 pounds a year after that until his salary reaches 100 pounds, at which point it will be fixed. Mr. Hauley is able to enjoy the full 100 pounds for only eight years; he dies in 1738.
Sept. 26, 1726 – The Town Meeting votes to spend 147 pounds to finish construction of the Meeting House.
1727 – The Rev. Henry Caner of Fairfield becomes a missionary priest to the Ridgefield Episcopal congregation.
1727 – The General Assembly commissions Samuel Saint John of Ridgefield as captain of the company of trainband (militia) in Ridgefield.
Jan. 9, 1727 – “Ye white oak tree standing near Henry Whitne’s” house is designated the official town signpost, for announcing all town meetings. Whitne’s house is about where the First Church of Christ, Scientist, is now.
May 13, 1727 – Upset at the pending loss of town territory due to moving the Connecticut line nearly two miles to the east, Ridgefielders petition the General Assembly for a grant of land north of town running to the New Fairfield border. Approval comes five years later.
July 4, 1727 – The Proprietors complete the fourth purchase from the Indians, including Taporneck, Wett Hams, Moses, Richard and Samm and paying 18 pounds, two guns, and three bottles of rum. The land is now in Lewisboro and North Salem.
Oct. 29, 1727 – Ridgefielders join the rest of the Northeast in feeling the effects of a major earthquake (said to have been 5.5 on the modern Richter scale). Since it is on a Sunday, many ministers take advantage of the symbolism in their sermons.
Dec. 27, 1727 – Joseph Lees is appointed the town’s first “keeper of ye pound key.” The pound, used to hold captured livestock that had been roaming and lost, was located on the village green.
Dec. 9, 1728 – The Annual Town Meeting agrees that ear marks are to be kept “in ye Town Book.” Over the years hundreds of brands for horses and livestock are recorded in town record books.
March 7, 1729 – In the fifth purchase from the Indians, the Proprietors acquire more land now in New York State, from seven Indians, including Taporneck, Wett Hams, Crow, Moses, and Sam.
April 10, 1729 – The Proprietors complete the sixth purchase from the Indians, a sizable tract that includes much of today’s Ridgebury. The deed is signed by eight Indians, including Ah Topper, Mokens, Waw Sachim, Jacob Turkey and Captain Jacob Turkey.
Nov. 21, 1730 – The first survey of the Ridgefield-New York border is completed.
1731 – A new survey of the Connecticut-New York border is undertaken by Cadwallader Colden, a physician, botanist, and scientist who later becomes lieutenant governor of New York. He is also a Tory, who conveniently dies in 1776.
March 5, 1731 – The Town Meeting votes that in the Meeting House, “ye front gallery be seated, two seats in front, and the rest of said gallery shall be filled up with well proportioned pews, and the side galleries shall be furnished with seats throughout and the Town will bear ye charges therefor.”
May 14, 1731 – Based on Cadwallader Colden’s survey, Connecticut and New York commissioners agree to the transfer of the “Oblong.” Connecticut gives up a strip of some 61,000 acres, nearly two miles wide, on its western border in exchange for what is now Greenwich and Stamford, which Connecticut got many years earlier. Ridgefield loses a sizable chunk of its town, but soon gains land to the north.
June 1, 1731 – Governor Talcott signs the grant, giving Ridgefield the “New Pattent,” land it had recently purchased from the Indians and land that compensates the town for loses when the Oblong is ceded to New York. The New Pattent is bounded on the south by Ridgefield, east by Danbury, north by New Fairfield and west by the colony line. The patent gives Ridgefield’s Proprietors the rights to “all woods, timber, underwood, uplands, arable lands, meadows, pastures, ponds, waters, rivers, brooks, islands, fishings, fowlings, huntings, mines, minerals, quarries, and precious stones upon or within said tract...”
1732 – The list of all taxable properties in Ridgefield totals 5,419 pounds in value.
1732 – Benjamin Benedict is named captain of the militia in Ridgefield.
April 14-19, 1732 – The Danbury-Ridgefield boundary is surveyed.
April 10, 1733 – Officials of Norwalk and Ridgefield perambulate the border between the two towns, making sure markers are in place.
Dec. 3, 1733 – Deacon Smith records with town clerk Thomas Hauley the brand marks on his three-year-old white bull: “A crop on ye near ear, a slitt down yt crop, and a strep ye undr side yd same, and a cross on ye off ear brnded O on ye near hip; and O.W. on ye near horn.”
1735 – The Rev. John Beach, Episcopal rector in Newtown, becomes a missionary priest to the congregation in Ridgefield.
Jan. 27, 1735 – The town votes to create a second cemetery, located at the north end of the main street – what is now the oldest part of the “Titicus Cemetery” or “Ridgefield Cemetery.” The first cemetery had been established earlier at the south end of Main Street.
March 14, 1735 – The town meeting votes to buy “powder, bullets, and flints” for the town militia or trainband. All men 16 to 60 are required by the colony to bear arms and train at least six days a year – in Ridgefield, training is on the town green, which today is the lawn of Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church.
May 1736 – The General Assembly grants a petition to allow 310 acres in Ridgebury to be annexed by Danbury because all the landowners are Danbury residents. The land, on both sides of George Washington Highway, is eventually returned to Ridgefield [see May 26, 1820].
April 27, 1737 – Alexander Resseguie and Daniel Sherwood, among the founders of the Episcopal Church in Ridgefield, guarantee that the minister who serves the congregation will be paid 40 pounds.
Dec. 19, 1737 – The town votes to create a pound in Ridgebury near the meeting house.
Feb. 28, 1738 – The Proprietors complete the seventh purchase from the Indians, including land now in New York.
March 26, 1738 – Philip Burr Bradley is born in Fairfield. He comes to Ridgefield with his parents in 1759, a year after graduating from Yale. In 1770, King George the Third appoints him a justice of the peace, but he goes on to become Ridgefield’s highest ranking revolutionary soldier, who serves in many campaigns, and after the war, becomes the leading citizen of Ridgefield. President Washington appoints him the first marshal of the District of Connecticut.
Nov. 8, 1738 – The Rev. Thomas Hauley, Ridgefield’s first minister, dies at the age of 49. He is also the first resident town clerk and had also been a school teacher.
Dec. 19, 1739 – The town makes the last of eight purchases of Indian lands, a huge tract that runs from Ridgebury to the New Fairfield line. Most of it was ceded to Danbury in 1846. The deed was signed by Betty, Jacob Turkey and Mokquaroose.
1740 – The Rev. James Wetmore of Rye, N.Y., serves as a missionary to the Episcopal congregation in Ridgefield.
Jan. 4, 1740 – The Proprietors agree to provide a parcel on Main Street on which a meeting house will be built for members of the Church of England.
Feb. 13, 1740 – David Scott sells Vivus Dauchy “a certain Negro woman named Dinah and a Negro boy named Peter to be servants or slaves during the period of their natural lives.” The price is 200 pounds.
May 8, 1740 – The Towns of Ridgefield and Litchfield are censured by the General Assembly for not paying state taxes. “This Assembly do sentence and doom the inhabitants of the Town of Ridgefield to pay into the publick treasury of this Colony the sum of 29 pounds, 15 shillings….”
July 1740 – The Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll becomes the second minister of the Ecclesiastical Society (now the Congregational Church).
Dec. 22, 1741 – The town votes that students help support their schools. “Each scholar shall find a third part of a cord of good sound wood, and there shall be allowed after ye rate of 18 shillings a cord out of ye scholars rate.”
1742 – The Rev. Richard Caner of Norwalk becomes the missionary to the Ridgefield Episcopal congregation, serving till 1744.
Dec. 13, 1742 – “The Town by a major vote do give Liberty to ye people living in ye New Pattent, that they shall be allowed to have a meeting four months in a year for two years on ye Sabbath or Lord’s Day among themselves to carry on religious worship, and to live and to hire a man to preach among them in ye sd. time so allowed to them, provided they do it upon their own cost and charge.”
Dec. 13, 1742 – The Annual Town Meeting also votes that “Madam Ingersoll shall have full liberty and equal privilege with Madam Hauley to sit in that pew ye Madam Hauley now sits in during ye town’s pleasure.” Mrs. Ingersoll was wife of the new minister; Mrs. Hauley was widow of the late minister.
Dec. 24, 1742 – At the “sheep meeting,” voters agree that in the future, money raised from loaning out the town-owned flock of sheep will be used for maintaining the town school. Twice a week, the town flock – said to be as many as 2,000 sheep – was loaned to the highest bidder to be kept at least overnight in his fields to take advantage of the manure the animals provided his crops.
1743 – The first Town House is built and is used for not only meetings, but school.
Dec. 6, 1743 – The Proprietors make their last purchase of land from the Indians. The deed is signed by James, Boans, Kiphaster, Tapornick, Ammon, Crow, Old Mosos, Young Mosos, Tom Mosos, and Tom Pornick.
Dec. 19, 1743 – The Town Meeting allows residents of New Patent, later called Ridgebury, to have their own church services four months of the year, and to hire a preacher.
Dec. 19, 1743 – Ridgebury Cemetery is established by the town meeting.
1744 – The Rev. Joseph Lamson of Rye, N.Y., takes on missionary duties to the Episcopal congregation in Ridgefield, along with Bedford and Northcastle, N.Y.
Sept. 7, 1744 – The town has an auction to sell “the old school house” that had been replaced with the Town House the year before.
Oct. 22, 1744 – John Barlow is born in Fairfield. In 1769, he moves to Ridgefield and sets up a farm and blacksmith shop on a hill that now bears his name, Barlow Mountain. In 1802 he moves to New York State.
Dec. 13, 1744 – The Town Meeting orders the select men “to procure good and lawfull weights in yet town, that, so other weights in ye town may be proved and regulated thereby.”
1745 – The Rev. Jeremiah Leaming of Norwalk becomes the missionary to the Ridgefield Episcopal congregation, serving until 1762.
Dec. 17, 1746 – The Annual Town Meeting chooses John Smith and Ambrose Olmsted as fence viewers, charged with making sure fences keep livestock out of neighboring crop fields. The tax rate is set at two pence on the pound. The meeting also pays the Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll 200 pounds for “his work in the ministry for the year past.”
Jan. 23, 1747 – The list of all taxable property for 1746 is filed and totals 9,001 pounds.
March 18, 1747 – The Town Meeting votes that “two women schools be kept from ye first of April next till ye first of October ensuing.” One school will operate in the Town House and the other “at ye house that was built for that purpose a little northward of Jonah Smith.”
May 11, 1747 – Residents of New Patent have petitioned the General Assembly in Hartford for permission to have their own minister to preach to them six months of the year because it is so difficult to attend services in Ridgefield center. The meeting, perhaps fearing New Patent will wish to become its own town, votes to oppose the petition and sends Richard Olmsted Esq. to testify before the General Assembly in opposition.
Nov. 13, 1747 – The town fathers lay out two new highways in New Patent, which is apparently quickly being settled. It compensates for land taken for the roads by providing more land in other locations.
Dec. 22, 1747 – The “Anniversary Town Meeting” votes to pay the Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll 400 pounds for his ministerial services in the past year.
Feb. 10, 1748 – The selectmen order Richard Portman to leave town.
April 25, 1748 – “John Wooding and James Olgor was warned by ye select men of ye Town of Ridgefield to depart out of ye Town of Ridgefield as ye law directs.”
May 2, 1748 – A Town Meeting appoints Lt. Joseph Hauley “to go to Mr. Walker at Stratford for his advice with respect to ye aged Daniel Abbott, whether to be it ye case to oblige Norwalk to keep him, or whether they force ye Town of Ridgefield to support him.”
June 16, 1748 – David Scott files notice that his Negro man shall be set free upon Mr. Scott’s death.
Sept. 20, 1748 – The Town Meeting agrees to pay six pounds for “the powder and lead that was taken up by the soldiers that went from us to guard the upper towns” in the French and Indian War.
Dec. 6. 1748 – The Annual Town Meeting sets a tax rate of four pence on the pound, twice what it was two years earlier. The meeting also orders the Select Men “to stake out ye Burying yard near ... John Smith’s home lott, and fence ye same with a good rail fence, and also to procure two good shod shovels and an ax for digging graves, and all is to be done up ye charge and cost of ye town.”
April 17, 1749 – The Town Meeting authorizes the construction of a “Sabbath Day House” that is no larger than 12 by 10 in size. [Popular in New England, a Sabbath Day house was a small building with a fireplace where families could warm up and have a bite to eat during breaks in the all-day services Sundays at the unheated meeting house.]
Aug. 2, 1749 – Caezer, slave of David Scott 2nd, dies.
Nov. 25, 1749 – The list of all taxable property is filed and totals 10,255 pounds.
Nov. 29, 1749 – Joseph Broadbrook is told to leave town.
Dec. 18, 1749 – The Anniversary Town Meeting votes to give the Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll another raise, to 550 pounds, for the previous year’s work, but at the same time lowers the tax rate to three pence on the pound. It also votes to buy a “black Broad Cloth pall” for town use at funerals.
1750 – An Episcopal Church is erected in Ridgebury, near the intersection of Ned’s Mountain Road, about this time. Services end in 1775 as war loomed, and resume briefly in 1789.
Feb. 12, 1750 – The Select Men “warned Joseph Nickols to depart out of town with his family under ye penalty of ye law.”
April 26, 1750 – Jabez Rockwell, John Rockwell, Joseph Keeler Jr. and “others living in ye North part of Ridgefield,” continue to petition the General Assembly for their own church or ‘society.’” This was to include 12,000 or 13,000 acres in Ridgebury and the lands north to New Fairfield. The petitioners said they had land worth 3,550 pounds sterling and were able to support a society. The town continues to oppose and Samuel Olmsted Esq. is named the town’s agent to speak to the General Assembly in Hartford on the issue.
Dec. 10, 1750 – After electing the usual officials, the Annual Town Meeting votes that “ye tools provided for digging graves and ye Pall shall be lodged at the house of Sent. John Smith.” The tax rate is dropped to two pence on the pound.
Dec. 13, 1750 – The Town Meeting votes to put a new roof on the meeting house “to consist or be made of chestnut shingles.” A tax of three pence on the pound is set to pay for it. The meeting also votes to allow Peter Benedict and Lot Keeler to have seats in the meeting house. The two were living in the Oblong, which had been ceded to New York in 1731.
March 6, 1751 – The Ridgefield-Norwalk town line is perambulated.
Oct. 21, 1751 – For 19 shillings, 9 pence, Constable Caleb Lobdell sells Obadiah Wood five white sheep and one white lamb that had been impounded by Nathan Wilson, keeper of the pound.
Dec. 4, 1751 – The Annual Town Meeting elects town officials, votes to pay Minister Ingersoll 600 pounds old tenor for his work, and sets the tax rate at three pence, half penny on the pound. But the meeting also votes a separate tax of a penny and a half on the pound to repair the meeting house.
Jan. 20, 1752 – The adjourned Town Meeting votes that “a School Master shall be provided and shall keep a school, ye first three months from this time at ye Town house, and ye next 3 months at ye upper School house near Lt. Jonah Smith’s, and ye next 3 months at ye Town house, and ye last 3 months at ye sd. upper School house. Also vote yt a woman school shall be kept in each of ye places above for keeping schools when ye man school is vacant.”
Jan. 20, 1752 – The Town Meeting exempts residents of New Pattent [upper Ridgebury] from having to pay the tax to fix the meeting house since they by then have a meeting house of their own.
March 26, 1752 – The Town Meeting gives the Select Men the “power to allow as many women schools for six months within the several quarters of ye town, as ye Inhabitants shall stand in need of, so that they do not allow of a school where there is not twenty five scholars that can and do constantly attend the same, and the Inhabitants containing said number of scholars shall be at the trouble of providing them their own Mistress, and the charge that shall arises for said Mistress’s wages shall be paid out of ye Town Treasury.”
Dec. 19, 1752 – The Annual Town Meeting gives the Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll a raise to 650 pounds old tenor for the year.
January 1753 – The listers [assessors] report that property in town is assessed at 11,681 pounds.
Jan. 19, 1753 – The Town Meeting agrees that, “upon ye request of Mrs. Burrel Betts and Joseph Betts of Norwalk, made to members of yet Meeting above, to shew their minds respecting setting up a Wind Mill in ye Town of Ridgefield, whereupon the Meeting by a universal vote manifested their willingness that the said Burrel Betts and Joseph Betts try the experiment of setting up or building a Wind mill in the town of Ridgefield.”
Dec. 18, 1753 – The Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll gets a big raise, to 750 pounds old tenor a year.
Dec. 18, 1753 – The town votes to create a 30 by 25 foot pound on Catoonah Street.
Dec. 24, 1753 – The adjourned Annual Town Meeting votes “there shall be three school mistresses provided and put into schools the first of April next and continued therein until the first of October next, one of them to be kept in ye school house near Lt. Jonah Smith’s, one of them in ye Town house, and one of them in or near Benjamin Rockwell’s house.”
April 20, 1753 – A gang of South Salem counterfeiters, including escaped convict David Sanford, sets fires in an attempt to steal back cattle confiscated by the government and kept at the Deforest homestead in Ridgefield.
May 1754 – Ridgefield petitions the General Assembly for help in protecting itself from the gang of counterfeiters who are still “distressing the people by fire and [who] keep lurking about the Borders of Ridgefield armed in Defiance of the Law.” The outcome is unknown.
Dec. 4, 1754 – Jacob Smith and Timothy Street were elected “branders and tollers of horses for ye year ensuing.” [Tollers collected taxes on horses.]
March 26, 1755 – James Brown, “a transient person,” was warned to depart out of ye Town of Ridgefield.”
June 24, 1755 – The Colony of Connecticut sent Ridgefield 48 pounds, 13 shillings, 8 pence, “it being in full of what is due from ye Colony Treasury to ye Town of Ridgefield for supporting ye school for ye year 1754.”
Dec. 7, 1755 – Benjamin Stebbins Jr. is chosen town “packer” for the coming year at the annual Town Meeting. [Packers packed meat and fish intended for market.] “Mr. John Benedict was chosen Collector of ye Excise on Distilled Spirituous Liquors ye year ensuing.”
May 28, 1756 – Vivus Dauchy, captain of the First Company of Train Band in Ridgefield, is drafted to fight in the French and Indian War. He never returns, and is believed to have been killed in battle. He may have been the first Ridgefielder to die in battle.
April 4, 1757 – The Town Meeting voted “that there shall be six men schools kept in the town.”
August 1757 – 22 men from Ridgefield serve under Capt. Perez Fitch of Stamford, organized for the “Alarm for Relief of Fort William Henry and parts adjacent.”
Dec. 4, 1757 – At the Annual Town Meeting, John Benedict is chosen “gauger of casks” for the coming year. [This town official inspected casks to make sure their measurements were as stated.] “Jacob Smith was chosen and appointed to receive ye Provisions or Country Produce that shall be brought in for payment of ye country rates now collecting.”
Dec. 17, 1757 – A tax of one farthing on the pound was voted to repair the meeting house.
March 27, 1758 – The Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll, the Ridgefield congregational pastor, begins a tour of service in the French and Indian War. Mr. Ingersoll is a chaplain under Colonel David Wooster in the campaign around Lake Champlain. Twenty years later, Wooster, then a general, is mortally wounded at the Battle of Ridgefield. Ingersoll remains in service until Oct. 8.
Dec. 14, 1758 – The Town Meeting votes to pay Mr. Ingersoll seventy pounds for his ministerial labors. [The amount is no longer labeled “old tenor.” In 1755, Connecticut made a new issue of currency, known as “new money” replacing “old tenor” and “new tenor” currencies. A pound in this new money was worth many times more than a pound in the old tenor.]
9, 1759 – Samuel Starr, William Castle, and Thomas Stephens petition
General Assembly to have their land annexed to Danbury, and a
Meeting votes to send representatives to the assembly to oppose the
Dec. 19, 1759 – The Annual Town Meeting names Caleb Lobdell and Daniel Olmsted as constables, and when asked whether a third constable should be appointed, votes no.
Dec. 19, 1759 – The Town Meeting votes “that in case that Robert Farquhar don’t improve his time (for the benefit of himself and his family) better for ye future than what he hath of late done, that the Select Men appoint an Overseer or master to take care of him.”
March 1760 – Mary Welch, Thomas Lawrence, George Bartlett, Hezekiah Thayler with his family, and Nehemiah Sherwood with his family are warned “to depart the limits of the Town of Ridgefield.”
April 11, 1760 – John Gould Hauley, a grandson of the town’s first minister, dies at the age of 9. His gravestone in Titicus Cemetery reads: “From youth and vigor soon he fled/ And here he rests among ye dead./ Uncertain here we draw our breath/ How soon we pass from life to death.”
Dec. 23, 1760 – The Annual Town Meeting turns down a suggestion that “sealers of leather” be appointed for the coming year. [A sealer of leather attests to the quality and quantity of leather being sold.]
Dec. 23, 1760 – The Annual Town Meeting votes to show “their willingness and free consent that the people that live within and northward of ye Military Line that runs a cross ye Township of Ridgefield should be made a Distinct Ecclesiastical Society, and that they apply to the General Assembly for that purpose.” The meeting also votes “liberty to Abraham Nash and Isaac Gregory the privilege of building a House for their comfort on Sabbath Days where ye Select Men think proper and to stand during ye town’s pleasure.”
April 13, 1761 – A special town meeting appoints Samuel Olmsted Esq. Samuel Smith Esq., and Stephen Smith “to examine ye records of Ridgefield respecting ye Grist Mill at Mamenasqua, and the covenant relating thereto, and report their opinion respecting ye same to a meeting of ye town or Proprietors of Ridgefield for further determination relating to said mill affair.” Apparently, there is a dispute about ownership of the mill site, established in a 1716 agreement.
May 1761 – Responding to the latest petition from residents of New Patent, the General Assembly appoints a committee to determine whether the northern part of Ridgefield should have its own ecclesiastical society or Congregational church.
May 14, 1761 – “Man is made after a fearful and wonderful Manner, imbued with noble intellectual Powers, a social Creature, capable of moral Government; and formed for Society both civil and religious,” begins the Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll of Ridgefield in a sermon before the General Assembly in Hartford.
October 1761 – The General Assembly, on the recommendation of its committee and the petition of residents, creates a second ecclesiastical society in Ridgefield and calls it Ridgebury.
Dec. 15, 1761 – The Town Meeting votes “that the Select Men of ye Town of Ridgefield or an agent by them appointed make application to the honorable General Assembly in order to get the annexment taken off of a certain tract of land lying in ye township of Ridgefield, which ye General Assembly in time past saw fit to annex to ye Town of Danbury.”
Dec. 28, 1761 – The First Society of Ridgefield (the First Congregational Church) votes that notices of society events and actions be posted on various trees in the village.
Oct. 19, 1762 – John Whitlock donates land for a church building in Ridgebury “for and in consideration of love and respect that I have and do bear unto ye Dissenting Society in Ridgebury and to promote ye same.” [It is the first time “Ridgebury” appears in a town record. The church group is called “dissenting” because it voted to break away from the First Society whose church is in the village of Ridgefield.]
Dec. 20, 1762 – The Annual Town Meeting fills its usual offices, including Richard Olmsted as keeper of the pound, and John Benedict as collector of excises.
Dec. 22, 1763 – The Town Meeting orders the Select Men “to procure a book in order for recording Grants and Deeds of land in for ye Town use and upon ye Town’s cost, and in a manner that may be most advantageous to the town.”
1764 – The Rev. Richard S. Clark of Salem [Lewisboro/North Salem], N.Y., becomes the missionary priest to the Ridgefield and Ridgebury Episcopal congregations.
Dec. 11, 1764 – The Annual Town Meeting votes that the Town House be repaired and that “ye Select Men set up a sign-post within ye compass of ye Meeting House yard, and the same there to continue during ye town’s pleasure.”
Dec. 4, 1765 – The Annual Town Meeting grants “to ye Inhabitants of Ridgebury Parish the liberty of making use of ye yard of Samuel Gates for a pound the year ensuing.” [This is the first use of the word “Ridgebury” in an official town record, though it appeared three years earlier in a deed.]
Jan. 1, 1766 – An adjourned Town Meeting votes to build a new Meeting House, and asks the County Court to find a location.
Dec. 15, 1766 – The Annual Town Meeting orders “a pound to be erected near the place where Matthew Seymour’s Trading Shop stood, and likewise another Pound to be erected in Ridgebury Society, between John Whitlock House and the burying yard in said society; and each of them to be built with timber, at ye discretion of ye Select Men; and Caleb Lobdell was chosen the keeper of ye first, and John Whitlock the keeper of ye second mentioned pound, ye year ensuing.”
Dec. 16, 1767 – Thomas Frost, David Rockwell Jr., Jonah Smith Jr., Daniel Olmsted Jr. are chosen tythingmen for the coming year. [Tithingmen were like police at church meetings, making sure no one dozed off, and also handled disorderly and drunken people in town, including unruly youths.]
Dec. 25, 1767 – The First Society votes to reject whatever site the County Court had selected for a new Meeting House [see Jan. 1, 1766].
April 11, 1768 – The Town Meeting votes to tell the General Assembly that Ridgefielders would greatly favor moving the Superior Court and county courts from Fairfield to Norwalk.
April 28, 1768 – The Ridgefield-Redding town line is perambulated. [It is the first time the “Redding” line has been checked. The year before, when the perambulation was run, it was the Ridgefield-Fairfield line, but the Redding parish of Fairfield has since become a town of its own.]
April 30, 1768 – Matthew Seymour dies at the age of 76. Tradition says he established the town’s first trading post, located on Main Street near #149.
May 26, 1768 – Epinetus Townsend of Salem (Lewisboro/North Salem), N.Y., becomes missionary minister to the Episcopal congregations in Ridgefield and Ridgebury. He remains until July 1776, when the churches in Ridgefield stop meeting because of the Revolution. [Townsend is the last of the series of missionaries that had served the Ridgefield congregation since its founding. During the war he ministers to British troops and, in 1779 while on his way to Halifax, N.S., his vessel sinks in a storm in Boston Bay. All on board are lost, including him, his wife and their five children.]
Aug. 23, 1768 – The ecclesiastical society in Ridgebury votes to build a new church, 46 by 36 feet, and stipulates it should be finished by July 1, 1769.
Nov. 23, 1768 – The Congregational Church in Ridgebury calls its first full-time minister, the Rev. Samuel Camp, a 1764 Yale graduate, at a salary of 75 pounds. [Mr. Camp remains minister until 1804, when he retires due to failing health, but he does not die until 1811. He is buried in the Ridgebury Cemetery, a few doors north of the church. Alongside his tombstone are the identically designed, but smaller headstones of the three wives he survived: Hannah, who died in 1777, aged 34; Lucretia, died 1782, aged 35; and Mary, 1800, aged 55.]
Dec. 20, 1768 – Ebenezer Jones is chosen by the Town Meeting as constable to “collect ye duty on goods and merchandises imported into this Government by foreigners.” [Although Jones is chosen constable a number of times before and after this year, it is the only time this particular task is mentioned in the records.]
Jan. 18, 1769 – The Rev. Samuel Camp is ordained and installed at the Ridgebury Congregational Church, which has 18 members.
Dec. 12, 1769 – A tax rate of a half-penny on the pound is set by the Annual Town Meeting.
Sept. 24, 1770 – The town votes not to build a new Meeting House and instead, repair the old one.
Dec. 10, 1770 – Jonah Foster is appointed a representative from Ridgefield to the Fairfield County Court “in behalf of ye town in order to get the report of a committee set aside, (respecting a highway in Ridgebury Society).” [The nature of the highway dispute is not disclosed.]
April 15, 1771 – A Town Meeting tells the Select Men “to pay out of ye Town Treasury the sum of one pound, two shillings six pence lawfull money to Samuel Jacklin as a reward for his keeping Mary Dimoral, an indigent person.”
April 15, 1771 – Ridgefield agrees to join Danbury, Newtown, New Fairfield, Redding, and New Milford in petitioning the General Assembly “that a new county may be made in this colony, and that said Danbury may be made a county town.” [Clearly Ridgefielders and others are tired of making long trips to Fairfield, the existing county seat.]
May 1, 1771 – The on-again, off-again Meeting House project is on again. Plans for a new First Society Meeting House, 58 by 40 feet in size, are approved. It will have a steeple.
Aug. 20, 1771 – The First Society votes that the new Meeting House be built with volunteer labor, but if that can’t be done, to “hire help.” [The church is not completed until early 1800.]
Dec. 7, 1771 – The Town Meeting votes “that the Select Men examine into the circumstances of Thomas Dowse, and if they judge he be able to pay off the bill of cost that hath been occasioned by reason of his and his wife’s sickness, last winter, that they use their best endeavours to get him to pay off the same, and if occasion require, that they commence a suit against him for that purpose.”
Dec. 3, 1772 – “We the subscribers warned Gorham not to entertain John Adam on peril of suffering the penalties of the law.”
13, 1772 – The Town Meeting votes a tax of a half penny on the pound to
town expenses for the coming year.
Dec. 14, 1773 – The Town Meeting votes that “swine shall be free commoners in this town for the future.” The vote means that pigs are allowed to roam free in town. [See also Dec. 4, 1786].
March 14, 1774 – The Town Meeting appoints “Col. Philip Burr Bradley an agent to appear in the town’s behalf and attend a Congress proposed to be held at Middletown on the last Wednesday of instant March in order to consult proper measures to evade evils this colony is apprehended to be in danger of by reason of claiming and attempting to defend the lands supposed to be within the limits of Connecticut’s charter, lying westward of New York Government.”
Dec. 14, 1774 – The town votes unanimously not to have any “claim to or engage to defense the lands supposed to be within the Limits of Connecticut charter lying westward of New York government.” [Connecticut has title to more than 3-million acres in Ohio, the so-called Western Reserve. It is not until 1796 that Connecticut finally sells the land to developers.]
1775 – Ridgefielders destroy all the known barberry bushes that had been imported from the Old World after it is found that a fungus, carried on the shrub, is causing a “wheat blast” disease that is ruining the local wheat crops.
Jan. 30, 1775 – With only nine dissenters, the Town Meeting votes to repudiate the Continental Congress. The meeting goes on to state, “We do acknowledge his most sacred majesty King George ye 3rd to be our rightfull Sovereign, and do hereby Publickly avow our allegiance to him and his lawfull successors, and that we will to the utmost of our power support his throne and dignity against every combination in the universe … It would be dangerous and hurtfull to the Inhabitants of the Town to adopt said Congress measures and we do hereby publicly disapprove of and protest against said Congress and the measures by them directed to as unconstitutional, as subversive of our real liberties, and as countenancing licenciousness.” The meeting also votes “that the town clerk be directed to make out a true copy of the above votes and transmit them to one or more of ye printers in New York that they may be published to the World.”
March 7, 1775 – Another town meeting is called on the Continental Congress issue. It adjourns to April 10.
April 10, 1775 – At an adjourned Town Meeting, “The question was put whether ye Town will explain their resolves of ye 30 of January last? Resolved in ye Negative.”
May 1, 1775 – Despite the Town Meeting’s Tory leanings, Ridgefielders begin the fight for freedom. Captain Ichabod Doolittle of Ridgebury is commissioned and, in the wake of the Battles of Lexington and Concord and responding to an act of the Connecticut Legislature, organizes the 7th Company of the Connecticut Fifth Regiment. More than a dozen Ridgefielders join, and serve in northern New York.
May 13, 1775 – Hezekiah Hawley, a farmer from Florida District, enlists in the Fifth Connecticut Regiment and winds up serving throughout the war, being discharged at West Point in June 1783. His eight years of service is longest of any of the approximately 275 men who served from Ridgefield. He fought at Ticonderoga, at Montreal, at Monmouth, wintered at Valley Forge and at what is now Putnam Park in Redding.
Dec. 7, 1775 – Annual Town Meeting changes its mind on joining the revolution. “On motion made, whether said meeting upon reconsideration, do disannul the resolves enter’d into and passed, on the 30th of January, 1775, and adopt and approve of ye Continental Congress, and the measures directed to in their Association, for securing and defending the rights and liberties of ye United American Colonies? Resolved in the Affirmative. Nem. Con.” [Nem Con was short for ‘nemine contradicente,” which means “without dissent.”] The town clerk is ordered to make a copy of the resolution and send it to New York newspapers for publication.
Dec. 7, 1775 – The Town Meeting approves the appointment of a “Committee of Inspection agreeable to the 11th Article of ye Continental Congress.” The committee is charged with enforcing the trade boycott of British goods. Named to the committee is a “who’s who” of leading Ridgefield citizens: Samuel Olmsted Esq., Col. Philip Burr Bradley, Daniel Coley Esq., Jacob Jones, Stephen Smith, Timothy Keeler, Capt. Jonah Foster, Nathan Olmsted, William Forrister, John Benedict, James Scott, Ebenezer Jones, Abraham Betts, Matthew Keeler, Timothy Benedict, Nathan Stevens, Samuel Gates, David Platt, Bartholomew Weed, John Jones, Daniel Smith, Ichabod Doolittle, Abraham Gray, Abraham Nash, Silas Hull, and Azor Hurlbut.
September 1776 – William Lee, a corporal in Captain Northrop’s company, dies at the age of 23.
Oct. 28, 1776 – Jared Hine, a soldier from Ridgefield in Wadsworth’s Brigade, disappears in the Battle of White Plains and is presumed dead.
Dec. 23, 1776 – A Committee of Inspection is again appointed. It consists of 12 people, mostly from the first committee, but now including David Scott.
Jan. 1, 1777 – Philip Burr Bradley of Ridgefield is commissioned a colonel in the “Army of the United States raised for the defence of American Liberty.” The commission is signed by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress.
March 1777 – Jack Congo, an African-American from Ridgefield, enlists in the Fifth Continental Line. He later dies in the war.
April 4, 1777 – At the request of the governor and his Committee of Safety, a special town meeting selects James Scott, Matthew Keeler, Timothy Benedict and Samuel Gates “a committee to provide for ye families of such soldiers as shall enlist into the Continental Army, with necessaries, at the prices stated by law.”
April 4, 1777 – The Town Meetings votes “that this Town will give to each man that shall enlist as a soldier into the Continental Service (for three years or during the war, being an inhabitant of this town, till the quota of the town to fill ye Continental Army be completed) six pounds lawfull money for every year they are in said service, to be paid as follows, viz., six pounds at the time of their enlistment, the next six pounds to be paid within the second year, and so on yearly during their continuance in service; and those that engage that have families, if they die in service by sickness or sword, be paid to their widow or children one year after their death.” The meeting also agrees to borrow money to pay the soldiers, and to tax townspeople to pay the debt.
April 13, 1777 – Rumors of a British invasion prompt many residents to leave the village and hide in more rural sections of town.
April 25, 1777 – Twenty-six British ships, including 20 transports, arrive off Compo Point in Westport, led by British General William Tryon. About 2,000 men land and begin marching north through Westport to Weston, where they encamp.
April 26, 1777 – The British troops move through Redding and Bethel into Danbury, where they burn food and other supplies stored by the local revolutionaries. Nineteen houses, more than 20 stores and shops, and the Meeting House are burned.
April 27, 1777 – British troops march from Danbury to Ridgefield and take part in several skirmishes with some 700 American fighters, led by Generals Benedict Arnold and David Wooster. Wooster is mortally wounded on North Salem Road while Arnold has his horse shot from under him on Main Street. The British encamp off Wilton Road West.
April 28, 1777 – The British troops set fire to the Episcopal Church, which had been used for military storage, heavily damaging the building. It is a Sunday morning. The troops then head south to Compo.
May 2, 1777 – General David Wooster, who had been wounded at the Battle of Ridgefield, dies in Danbury.
May 2, 1777 – James Rogers, taken prisoner by the British, lists in a letter other prisoners taken during the raid on Danbury and the Battle of Ridgefield. Among them are James and Benjamin Northrop, and John Smith, all of Ridgefield.
May 26, 1777 – The Select Men ask the General Assembly for compensation for local losses during the British transit through Ridgefield. The petition says that “the enemy…burnt the gristmill and saw mill of Mr. Isaac Keeler of said Ridgefield, six dwelling houses, two barnes, and killed and carried off a number of horses and cattle.” When the British Army “took up their quarters in that town for a night, they plundered the inhabitants of almost all their provisions and of a great part of their clothing, etc. – by which means many are reduced to the greatest straits and such a number that said town are unable to make adequate provision for the relief of the sufferers.” The assembly appoints a committee to investigate.
May 30, 1777 – Congress grants General Benedict Arnold a fully outfitted horse to compensate him for the one killed at the Battle of Ridgefield.
Aug. 13, 1777 – The General Assembly in Hartford gives Capt. Ebenezer Coe of Stratford 60 pounds in compensation for “a wound by a ball shot by the enemy” in the Battle of Ridgefield that “destroyed his right eye.”
Sept. 8, 1777 – Phebe Birchard dies at the age of 28. Within 18 days, her gravestone in Ridgebury Cemetery says, three of her children are also dead, probably of small pox.
Nov. 17, 1777 – The town meeting names a committee “to procure cloathing for the soldiers in the Continental Army (that the Assembly of this state has required the town to provide for.)”
Nov. 21, 1777 – The Select Men meet with Cyphax to examine the 20-year-old slave of the Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll. Mr. Ingersoll wants to free Cyphax, and under a recent law of the General Assembly, the Select Men must make sure he won’t be a burden on the community. They “do judge him an able bodied man and as likely to get a living as men in common in his condition are, and do therefore approve of his being liberated or set free, according to an act of the Assembly.”
Nov. 24, 1777 – The Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll frees Cyphax.
Nov. 27, 1777 – John Watrous, constable, receives six wandering sheep and put them in the town pound. At the end of 20 days, they are sold “at the Ridgefield Signpost at an outcry, at the beat of the drum.” The town takes in 17 pounds, 10 shillings. [“Outcry” is an old word for auction.]
Dec. 5, 1777 – A committee investigating Ridgefield’s losses in the Battle of Ridgefield reports to the General Assembly that 65 people report damages totaling 2,625 pounds. The biggest loss is Isaac Keeler’s mills, totaling 291 pounds. It takes two years before the assembly, burdened with other war expenses, finally reimburses all the losses.
Dec. 15, 1777 – The Annual Town Meeting votes that “one of the places for setting up advertisements for the warning Town Meetings for the future be a button wood tree before ye door of Jesse Benedict’s house.”
Jan. 8, 1778 – At a town meeting, “The question was put to said meeting, whether the articles of Confederation and perpetual Union, drawn up and published by the Honourable Continental Congress, be approved? Resolved in the affirmative.”
March 3, 1778 – Probably to raise money for the war effort, the town decides to sell its stores of salt, a valuable commodity used more for preservation of meats than a flavoring. John Benedict Esq. and Timothy Keeler 2nd are appointed “a committee to distribute the salt belonging to this town, as follows, viz., one quart thereof to each person of ye several families of the men as that are inhabitants of this town that have taken the Oath of Fidelity to the State of Connecticut, and likewise to each person of the families of the widows in this town that are accounted friendly to the United States of America, and likewise to each person of the families of those men of this town that are in the Continental Army, and said committee are to take 6d lawfull money for a quart of the same, of the persons they deliver the salt to, and that said committee attend upon the business of delivering the salt, on the afternoon of each Thursday and Monday in this month, till the whole be delivered out, and also keep and render true accounts of their doings in the premises, to ye Select Men by the first day of April next.”
March 3, 1778 – The Town Meeting votes to spent money to care for the family of Sgt. Elisha Gilbert, a Continental soldier who froze to death at Valley Forge that winter.
April 2, 1778 – A proprietors meeting votes to undertake a suit to gain ownership of the grist mill at Lake Mamanasco, belonging to the Burt family, many members of which are Tories.
April 7, 1778 – The Town Meeting votes “That a copy of the Regulating Act, lately published respecting prices etc., together with doings of the authority and Select Men of this Town, be sent to the printer, and procure a number of them to be printed as to furnish each householder in this town with one, and to be brought and distributed accordingly and the cost to be paid out of the town treasury.” [A convention of representatives of northeastern states had gathered in New Haven in January and, in an effort to curb inflation, set the prices of many wares and services.]
Oct. 2, 1778 – The Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll dies.
Dec. 14, 1778 – The Annual Town Meeting votes “to each soldier in the Continental Army (that counts for this town) the sum of six pounds LM, and the money to be raised by way of tax or rate, made on the list of 1778, and each soldier is to receive ye same by the first of March next.” The grand list in the First Society totals 11,708 pounds that year.
Feb. 4, 1779 – Edward Jones of Ridgefield, found spying on American troops in Westchester County, is sentenced to death by a Court Martial at General Putnam’s headquarters in Redding. He is executed by hanging two days later.
May 7, 1779 – Asked whether the present mode of taxation in this state be agreeable,” the Town Meeting votes no. Ridgefielders then vote that “a mode of taxation be adopted whereby each inhabitant be taxed in proportion to their property.”
May 9, 1779 – Elijah, son of Bartholomew and Sarah Weed, drowns. He is 17 years old.
May 30, 1779 – Brigadier General Samuel H. Parsons and his brigade of 150 troops encamps in Ridgefield, probably at the corner of Main Street and West Lane, on its way to reinforce American forces on the Hudson Highlands.
July 11, 1779 – British General Tryon, who led the Redcoats at the Battle of Ridgefield, attacks Norwalk. Among those killed is Jacob Nash of Ridgefield.
July 13, 1779 – Major General William Heath and his brigade encamp in Ridgefield on their way to Stamford to defend the coastline that the British had been attacking. He remains in town for some days.
July 14, 1779 – Brigadier General John Glover and his brigade encamp in Ridgefield at least until July 21. Colonel Stephen Moylan soon joins him with more troops.
July 28, 1779 – Major General Robert Howe, stationed at Peekskill, is ordered by General Washington to move his troops to Ridgefield and to take command of the various troops stationed here. “The primary object of this command is to cover the country, and prevent as far as possible the depredations of the enemy,” Washington writes.
Aug. 9, 1779 – A group of Ridgefield Tories is gathered up at night and taken to a river, where they are given a “prolonged ducking,” reports historian D. Hamilton Hurd. Earlier that day, the Town Meeting votes against a resolution, “whether any person that was an inhabitant in this town, and hath absconded, and gone over to or joyned the enemy of the United States (and hath returned or shall return into the town) be admitted to dwell in the town, without the liberty and approbation of the town first had and obtained by such person or persons? Resolved in the negative.”
Aug. 9, 1779 – Times are getting tough. Samuel Olmsted Esq. and Robert Edmond are appointed delegates for the town to a County Convention at Redding April 10 “in order to consult and adopt suitable measures to prevent the further depreciation of the paper currency and raise its value.”
Sept. 18, 1779 – General Washington orders the various troops under Major General Howe that had been encamping here to move to Westchester County.
Dec. 27, 1779 – Benjamin Chapman of Salem, N.Y., signs an agreement with the town to operate the grist mill at the outlet of Lake Mamanasco.
Dec. 28, 1779 – The Annual Town Meeting votes a tax rate of one shilling on the pound.
1780 – Around this time, “the canker-worm” appears and destroys the town’s apple crops “to a very alarming degree,” reports the Rev. S.G. Goodrich in 1800. The infestation continues until around 1794.
April 25, 1780 – The Ridgefield property of James Morehouse, who “hath absconded and taken side with the British Troops against the United States,” is sold by order of the General Assembly.
June 29, 1780 – The town grants 30 shillings a month to each soldier from Ridgefield. The money would come from a tax.
Aug 23, 1780 – The Town Meeting decides to send delegates to the General Assembly “requesting that for the future, the method of raising and procuring soldiers for the present war may be by classing and each class to procure a man for said service.” [Classing involved dividing the town into districts or classes, and selecting representatives of each district to serve on a townwide committee. Each district would be responsible for procuring its allotment of people to serve in the Army. Usually, that was one man per class. This system was apparently adopted; see Feb. 8, 1781.]
Oct. 2, 1780 – Major John Andre is hanged at Tappan, N.Y., as a British spy. Accompanying him to the gallows is Lt. Joshua King, his guard, who later becomes one of Ridgefield’s most prominent citizens.
Nov. 20, 1780 – The Town Meeting selects Nathan Smith and William Forrister “to receive the salt necessary for putting up the provisions required of this town to be provided for the army, and to perform every part of service respecting said provision, agreeable to an Act of the General Assembly of this State in their last sessions.”
Dec. 21, 1780 – The Town Meeting appoints Lt. Ebenezer Olmsted, a Continental army veteran who served under Col. Philip Burr Bradley and who is married to the Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll’s daughter, as constable “to collect the state tax for the year ensuing.” It is an appointment the townspeople would later regret for many years.
Dec. 21, 1780 – The town Meeting allows “inoculation of ye small pox to be practiced in this town from this time to the first of April next and to be under the restrictions and regulations as is by law provided in that case.” [It had long been common knowledge that anyone who had survived small pox became immune to the disease. In the late 1700s, “inoculation,” also called variolation, involved infecting people with small pox, usually from pustules of people who had had mild cases, in the hope that they would become immune. It was often not successful – see April 8, 1782.]
Feb. 8, 1781 – Meeting voted “that the method for raising and producing five men for this state service, to serve as soldiers in Col. Beebe’s regiment at Horseneck for the term of one year, be by classing the inhabitants into five classes, and that three of the classes be divided out to procure soldiers for filling up the Continental Army, be formed into one class and the three committee men living in the southern three classes that were appointed to class the inhabitants as above expressed be a committee for the class of the southern part of the town, and so successively through the town to the north end thereof. And Samuel Olmsted Esq., Nathan Olmsted, and Robert Edmond be a committee for the southern class, and John Benedict Esq. Benjamin Smith and John Jones a committee for the second classes, and Col. Bradley, Stephen Smith and Silas Hull a committee fore the third class etc..... up to fifth class. [See Aug. 23, 1780]
Feb. 8, 1781 – Nathan Smith and Ichabod Doolittle are chosen a committee to “receive, inspect and put up” the flour and Indian corn received of the town to be procured by the Assembly of this State, agreeable to an Act of said Assembly passed Nov. 29, 1780.” [The flour and corn will be used to feed the troops.]
Feb. 15, 1781 – The Town Meeting picks “William Forrister and Timothy Keeler Esq. to assist the town treasurer in bringing into the treasury the money due by law to the town treasury on account of military delinquencies (supposed to be on the hands of military officers).”
Feb. 21, 1781 – Colonel Beardsley comes to the dwelling house of Daniel Smith “to muster the soldiers procured by the town for filling up the Continental Army.”
March 23 1781 – Meeting chose Capt. David Olmsted, Col. Bradley Ebenezer Olmstead, William Forrister, and Stephen Norris a committee “to procure soldiers to compleat the town’s quota for filling up the Continental Army and this state’s service.”
March 28, 1781 – New recruits for the continental army are to be delivered to the Select Men at the houses of Clements Smith and Daniel College, in order to be taken to Danbury to be mustered, and delivered to an officer and forwarded to the Continental Army.”
July 1, 1781 – Troops under Comte de Rochambeau, on their way to Yorktown to assist General Washington, encamp overnight at several locations in Ridgebury.
July 2, 1781 – In a field near the intersection of Ridgebury and Old Stagecoach Roads, attended by the French troops, the first Catholic Mass is said in Ridgefield.
Jan. 8, 1782 – Matthew Keeler frees his slave, Dick, in consideration of his long and faithful service. However, he adds a proviso: “If at any time the above said Negro slave Dick should become dissolute and idle in spending his time and earnings, and thereby likely in case of any misfortune to become a charge to me or my heirs, then it shall be lawfull for me or my heirs to again take said Negro slave into my or their service during his natural life.”
Feb. 19, 1782 – The Town Meeting votes to “raise or procure five soldiers for filling up the town’s quota of ye Continental Army.” Captain David Olmsted, Benjamin Smith and Stephen Norris were put in charge.
April 8, 1782 – Sarah, daughter of Bartholomew and Sarah Weed, dies “by the small pox by innoculation [sic],” her gravestone in Ridgebury Cemetery reports. She was 26 years old [See Dec. 21, 1780].
April 30, 1782 – The town meeting decides to “send a committee to the Town of Danbury to confer with their committee respecting preferring a memorial to the General Assembly, praying that ye town of Danbury may be made a half-shire town, for holding courts, for the County of Fairfield.”
1783 – The King and Dole Store is established on Main Street, and is many years later called Old Hundred. The store evolves into the D. F. Bedient Hardware store at the corner of Main Street and Bailey Avenue, which remains in business until 1998. The original King and Dole store is now the second floor of the offices of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.
Dec. 2, 1783 – Stephen Smith is chosen both town clerk and town treasurer at, what seems from the minutes, a quiet Annual Town Meeting. But it is a doomed Town Meeting, for apparently some kind of local rebellion was going on. [See Jan. 8, 1784.]
1784 – Ridgefield’s population is estimated at 1,700 people.
Jan. 8, 1784 – Something bad happened at the Dec. 2, 1783 Annual Town Meeting – or were there two different meetings that day? The Connecticut General Assembly reports that, “Upon the representation of Nathan Olmsted [and other] inhabitants of the Town of Ridgefield, showing to this Assembly that in ye forenoon of the 2nd day of December AD 1783, a number of persons belonging to said town, stiling themselves a Town Meeting, and then and there chose and appointed a lot of town officers for said town, who have been sworn to a faithful discharge of their duties of their respective offices, and that afterwards and the same day, the Select Men with the town clerk and a major part of the inhabitants thereof, convened together agreeable to the ancient usage and custom of said town, and appointed another set of town officers for said town, who have also been duly sworn, which is like to produce Great confusion and disorder amongst the inhabitants thereof. Whereupon, resolved by this assembly, that each of the aforesaid meetings and all the votes and doings thereof, be and the same are hereby declared to be utterly null and void, and the inhabitants of said town, who have a right by law to vote in Town Meetings, are hereby directed and (impowered) to meet together at the usual place of holding Town Meetings in said town on the third Monday of February next, at 12 o’clock in ye said day, and to choose town officers for said town for the current year, and do any other ordinary business proper to be done at a legal Town Meeting....”
Feb 16, 1784 – As ordered by the General Assembly Jan. 8, a new Annual Town Meeting takes place and elects pretty much the same officers that had been elected Dec. 2 at the first meeting.
June 28, 1784 – Ridgefield’s followers of the Church of England have their first meeting since the Revolution. They vote not to repair the Episcopal church burned in the Battle of Ridgefield seven years earlier.
Aug. 30, 1784 – The Town meeting is asked whether “they would do anything toward erecting a court house and goal in the Town of Danbury? Resolved in the affirmative. Whether they would do anything by way of tax for ye purpose aforesaid. Resolved in the negative.” The meeting recommended that “subscription papers to be drawn and handed about by the Select Men, in order to know what the Inhabitants would contribute for the purpose aforesaid.” It then dismissed all the previous votes, except for the selection of Philip Burr Bradley as moderator.
October 1784 – Jonah Foster, who was “head of a class” in Ridgefield charged with hiring a soldier for the war effort, tells the General Assembly that a man was selected and paid “sixty hard dollars” to serve. However, before he could be mustered in, the recruit deserted and refused to be inducted.
Oct. 28, 1784 – The Episcopal church members in town vote to levy a tax of one shilling on the pound to support the church, including erecting a new meetinghouse measuring 40 feet long, 30 feet wide and 18 feet tall inside.
Sept. 20, 1785 – Lt. Benjamin Smith, a veteran of the Revolution, donates land to the Episcopal church, increasing the size of its lot on Main Street. With more land available, church members vote that the new church will be larger.
1786 – The list of taxable property of the First Society totals 9,395 pounds while the Second Society [Ridgebury] is 4,901 pounds.
April 10, 1786 – The Town Meeting agrees to “accept the resignation of Lt. Ebenezer Olmsted of his office of collector of ye state taxes on ye list of 1780, on conditions of his accounting with and paying to the Select Men the full that he has collected and received on the rates made on said list, and deliver up said rate bills and warrants to the Select Men.” The same meeting appoints Capt. Nathan Dauchy to “be ye collector of ye rates missing on the list of 1780 that are not collected, which Lt. Olmsted has resigned.”
April 26, 1786 – The proprietors of the Independent School House meet at the house of the Widow Clemence Smith and vote that “the proprietors of ye said Independent School House will take and appropriate the now Town House agreeably to the vote of the town respecting said town, and School House, and do wholly and fully invest the town with the privileges respecting said school house, which are mentioned in the town vote, respecting ye same.”
May 1786 – Responding to a petition from Redding residents who live in the Great Pond area, the General Assembly annexes to Ridgefield land that had belonged to Redding. This odd spur of land had projected into Ridgefield for many years and residents there found it more convenient to do business in Ridgefield, which was closer.
July 6, 1786 – The Rev. Samuel G. Goodrich becomes the third minister of the Ecclesiastical Society. He later becomes the father of S.G. Goodrich, known to millions in the 19th Century as author “Peter Parley.”
Aug. 18, 1786 – The Town Meeting appoints Col. Philip Burr Bradley and three other prominent residents “a committee to assist the Select Men in a settlement of the taxes which appears by Ebenezer Olmsted, ye late collector’s rate bills, to be due on ye bills he lately resigned to the select man, which we made on ye list of ye year AD 1780.”
Sept. 30, 1786 – The Town meeting votes that “Ebenezer Olmsted, late collector of ye state taxes for ye town of Ridgefield, holden under arrest at the suit of the town of said Ridgefield, shall be liberated and discharged from said suit, upon condition for the said Olmsted shall fully vest the fee simple right” to a list of his property holdings in town. The property includes his 13-acre homestead on Main Street, about 25 acres scattered around town, eight tons of hay, his right to some cows, and “2,258 Continental Dollars.” He is ordered to deliver all to the town treasurer and told to post a 1,000 pound bond to guarantee payment of the owed taxes.
Nov. 30, 1786 – Perambulators, appointed by the selectmen of Redding and Ridgefield, survey the boundary between the two towns.
Dec. 4, 1786 – Town meetings begin being held in the Independent School House instead of the Town House.
Dec. 4, 1786 – A committee that includes such notables as Col. Philip Burr Bradley, Capt. David Olmsted and lt. Joshua King, is ordered by the Annual Town Meeting to “to make sale of the real and moveable estate that the town hath obtained of Ebenezer Olmsted, late, failing collector of state taxes.”
Dec. 4, 1786 – The town votes “that swine have liberty to go at large on the highways and commons provided they are ringed, after they are two months old, and that in the months of December, January and February they may go at large without ringing.” [Rings were put in the noses of pigs to prevent them from rooting – digging with their noses in search of food. The technique today is considered cruel.]
Dec. 7, 1786 – In an unusual expression of gratitude, the Town Meeting votes that “the thanks of the town be given to Mr. Stephen Smith, late town clerk and treasurer, for his long and faithfull service in said capacities declaring their satisfaction with and high appreciation of his conduct.” [Smith had been town clerk since 1746 – 40 years of service recording deeds, minutes of town meetings, vital statistics and more.]
March 8, 1787 – The Town Meeting is asked “whether they are willing the parish of Ridgebury should be incorporated into a distinct town.” Townspeople respond by voting “unanimously that the town will not make any opposition to the parish of Ridgebury being incorporated into a distinct town; and they are willing their memorial [request to the General Assembly] should be granted.”
March 12, 1787 – The town holds a sale of the property of Ebenezer Olmsted, who had pocketed the state tax collections he had made in 1780. The house fetches only 129 pounds – Olmsted had paid 300 pounds for it in 1782. The sale and confiscations are not enough to cover what is owed to the state, however, and the issue drags on.
Sept. 31, 1787 – The First Episcopal Society sets a tax on its members of four pence on the pound. However, commodities are accepted instead of cash: Rye is worth three shillings and six pence per bushel; corn, three shillings; oats, one shilling six pence; buckwheat, two shillings per bushel; and flax, seven pence per pound.
Oct. 21, 1787 – Michael Warren captures seven stray calves that “are very small and poor” and reports them to town clerk Benjamin Smith.
Nov. 12, 1787 – The Town Meeting votes unanimously to approve the Constitution of the United States, and names delegates to the state convention in January in Hartford to ratify the Constitution. “The delegates are instructed to declare the voice of the people at this meeting at their meeting aforesaid at Hartford,” the meeting orders.
Nov. 16, 1787 – Ambrose Olmsted Jr. becomes the first member of the Methodist Church in Ridgefield.
Jan. 12, 1788 – In Hartford, Col. Philip Burr Bradley and Capt. Nathan Dauchy cast Ridgefield’s favorable votes as Connecticut becomes the fifth state to ratify the Constitution, which goes into effect a year later.
March 3, 1788 – More tax collection problems are discovered. The Town Meeting votes to appoint a committee to examine “the circumstances of Jacob Smith Jr., collector of state taxes, and find what he has on hand, what he has collected in said taxes, and what is due (or uncollected) on said taxes, and make a report thereof to this meeting.”
March 17, 1788 – Townspeople are not letting Jacob Smith escape his obligations. A Town Meeting is asked “whether Jacob Smith Jr. their late collector, be excused from collecting the remainder of the taxes due on ye lists of 1781 and 1782. Voted in the negative unanimously.”
Aug. 27, 1788 – In the first use of their new church building, members of the Episcopal congregation in town gather for their annual meeting to elect officers. The building’s interior is still unfinished more than two years after the project started.
Dec. 8, 1788 – Henry Scribner sells David Olmsted a “blacksmith shop and coal house,” and, in an unusual look at the details of a smith’s shop of the era, he details the contents of same: “one bellows, one anvil, one vise, one sledge, five hammers, one buttress, five pair of tongs, one pair of snippers, one breast wimble [a kind of drill], one polishing file, one coal shovel, one stake, two chisels, two swages [a block of iron with holes in it, used for shaping hot metal], one eye wedge, one lamper iron, and one coal rake.”
Dec. 22, 1788 – The Town Meeting votes that “the Oak Tree near Thomas Smith’s dwelling, be and serve as a place to set up warnings instead of the old Chestnut.” [This tree stood at the southeast corner of Main and Prospect Streets.]
Dec. 22, 1788 – The meeting also votes “that for the future all rams that shall run at large between the first day of August and the 10th day of November, each year, shall be liable to be castrated by any persons, at the risk of the owner.” [In rut and pre-rut season, rams may be aggressive not only to other rams, but humans, and this law – variations of which are still on the books across the United States – is designed to control roaming rams that may be a threat.]
1789 – The Rev. David Belden becomes the first post-war rector of the Episcopal Church. He lasts four months in the part-time post.
1789 – Timothy Keeler Jr., Nathan Dauchy, and Elijah Keeler build an “irons works” on the outlet of Lake Mamanasco, off North Salem Road, “being the old mill place where the grist mill lately stood that was burnt.” The operation continues into the 1800s, but by 1817, has closed.
June 28, 1789 – Itinerant Methodist preacher Jesse Lee gives his first sermon in Ridgefield in the Independent Schoolhouse on Main Street.
Sept. 15, 1789 – The Town Meeting votes to send Col. Philip Burr Bradley to Hartford to discuss “the state of ye taxes due from this town to the state treasury” – probably referring to the money tax collector Ebenezer Olmsted had pocketed in 1780.
Sept. 15, 1789 – In a rare case of official chastisement, the Town Meeting says it “disapprove(s) of ye conduct of the Select Men in receiving Town Orders on account of State Taxes.” [The details are not there, but it seems to have something to do with the handling of Jacob Smith Jr.’s faulty state tax collections – see March 3, 1788.]
Oct. 21, 1789 – Miriam Lobdell, wife of Josiah, dies at the age of 67. Her gravestone in Titicus Cemetery, however, reports very clearly that she died in 1287.
Nov. 14, 1789 – Ridgefield receives a notice from the town of Bedford, N.Y., that Peg Wilson, formerly a slave of Isaac Miller of Bedford, deceased, was freed “from a state of slavery by the last will and testament of Isaac Miller” and “is desired to pass and repass unmolested.”
Dec. 15, 1789 – The town votes to allow the building of a pound in Limestone District.
1790 – The census finds 1,947 people in Ridgefield.
Jan. 28, 1790 – Jesse Lee organizes a class in Ridgefield. The first members of the precursor of the Methodist Church here are Mr. and Mrs. Ichabod Wheeler and Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Keeler. The group meets in the homes of members.
Oct. 16, 1790 – Bishop Samuel Seabury of Connecticut ordains Dr. David Perry, a Yale graduate who is also a physician in town, as an Episcopal priest. Dr. Perry becomes the first settled minister here after the Revolution.
Feb. 11, 1790 – Ten years after Ebenezer Olmsted, collector of the state tax in the town, had failed to turn over his collections, the town is still dealing with the problem. It appoints a committee find a “speedy settlement” and takes an extraordinary step by voting to authorize the “Select Men [to] hire a collector to collect the arrears due on the rate bills … as cheap as they can.”
Dec. 16, 1790 – The Annual Town Meeting votes to require that any collector of state or town taxes be required to obtain a performance bond. To this day, the town requires and provides a bond on the tax collector to assure that if a shortfall occurs, the town is protected.
March 1791 – The new Episcopal Church building is completed, nearly seven years after the project was first approved. Nonetheless, there is still no pulpit until 1799.
March 26, 1791 – Abijah Resseguie is born on a farm in Whipstick District. For many years, he is the proprietor of the Keeler Tavern. As a boy, he witnessed the last flogging at the whipping post at the corner of Main Street and Branchville Road. [See also Dec. 17, 1886 and April 16, 1887.]
Sept. 22, 1791 – The Rev. David Perry is named part-time rector of the resurrected Episcopal congregation in Ridgefield. There is considerable friction between him and church leaders, and he leaves the post in 1795.
Dec. 12, 1791 – Some sort of controversy is afoot as the Annual Town Meeting convenes to elect town officials. Ridgefielders vote “that in ye present meeting it shall be a rule to choose a town clerk, Select Men and constables by silent vote.” The meeting then picks Benjamin Smith to be town clerk, and promptly adjourns from the schoolhouse to the church, perhaps because of the size of the crowd. There, Lt. Joshua King, Nathan Smith, and Capt. Henry Whitney – all leading citizens – are elected Select Men. The meeting then decides the rest of the town officers would be selected “by voting by ye hand.”
1792 – Theophilus Burt, who had “absconded and taken side with the British troops against the United States of America” and had had his land confiscated, petitions the General Assembly to restore his title to the Ridgefield land. Some property near Lake Mamanasco is returned.
April 9, 1792 – The issue of whether Ridgebury should be incorporated as a separate town comes up again and voters approve. However, when the voters are asked “Whether this meeting are willing to relinquish their right of choosing and sending two representatives to the General Assembly of this State,” they vote “in the negative.” It then votes that if Ridgebury is made a town, it should still join with Ridgefield in selecting the two representatives to the General Assembly. [Since the “town of Ridgebury” was never approved, this must have been a major issue.]
Dec. 10, 1792 – Apparently abandoning hope of ever collecting all the taxes due from Ebenezer Olmsted in 1780 and from perhaps other years, the Annual Town Meeting instructs the Select Men to “borrow such sums as shall be necessary to settle ye demands the state treasurer has against the town.” The town is apparently so hard up for money that the same meeting votes to sell “the books containing the law of ye United States … to the best advantage for ye town.”
Dec. 10, 1792 – Ebenezer Olmsted isn’t the only taxing problem facing Ridgefield, who vote “that ye Select Men be instructed and authorized in ye behalf of ye town to borrow such sums as shall be necessary to settle ye demands the state treasurer has against this town.”
Aug. 9, 1793 – Samuel Griswold Goodrich Jr. is born in a house on West Lane. More than 100 books are written under his pen name, Peter Parley, in the 1800s, and his two-volume autobiography, Recollections of A Lifetime, gives a rare glimpse into Ridgefield life in the early 19th Century.
Dec. 11, 1793 – Perhaps the town’s problems with the state tax collections have been settled, for the Annual Town Meeting votes: “The thanks of this meeting is hereby given to Major Joshua King and ye other gentlemen, Select Men and collectors, who have served the town in their several official capacities during four years last past, for their vigilance, assiduity and [unreadable] in their associative departments; and in particular for their spirited solutions in obtaining a settlement of the town’s debts due to the state treasury and individuals.”
Spring 1794 – Soon after the leaves open, canker-worms that have been infesting apple trees for several years appear. However, reports the Rev. S.G. Goodrich in 1800, “There came into the orchards several flocks of uncommon birds, a little larger than a blue-bird, of a brown color, and picked the worms from the trees, as was also the case with a number of flocks of pigeons, which greatly checked them, and the frost which happens sometimes the latter end of May entirely destroyed them. So we have not one canker-worm since that has been heard of. Respecting the bird, it has never been seen with us since.”
Sept. 29, 1794 – The Farmer’s Chronicle in Danbury contains an advertisement: “Hugh Cain, of Ridgefield, announces that he can full in the driest season, has now begun, and can continue to full, provided there should be no rain for six weeks to come. He makes all colors made in America (scarlet excepted). Mr. Cain operated a fulling mill for processing cloth at what is now Route 7 and Topstone Road.
Sept. 30, 1794 – The Connecticut Collector of Revenue issues a license to Timothy Keeler of the Keeler Tavern to sell “foreign distilled spirituous liquers.”
1795 – The first library, consisting of 150 volumes, is established in town, according to the Rev. S.G. Goodrich.
Aug. 11, 1795 – Tirzah Welker is divorced from John Welker for “the detestable sin of adultery.”
Dec. 14, 1795 – Nancy, daughter of the slave woman Jenny, belonging to Stephen Smith, is born. Under state law, she must be given her freedom at the age of 25.
March 12, 1796 – William Resseguie sells Timothy Keeler Jr. and Daniel Olmsted, representatives of the First Society [the Congregational Church] “all right, title, interest, challenge, or demand that I … have in and unto one certain pew in the gallery of the Meeting House in the First Society of Ridgefield, said pew being the northwest corner pew in the north gallery.” The price is $6 – about $75 today.
Dec. 12, 1796 – The town votes to erect a pound on Main Street at the corner of what is now called Pound Street.
Jan. 5, 1797 – Philip Burr Bradley and Joshua King sell Epenetus How a third interest in the “hatter’s shop” near How’s house at Titicus. The price of 30 pounds includes a third interest in the “utensils” and “tools” of the shop, plus the land. It may be the earliest recorded mention of a hatting industry in Ridgefield.
May 11, 1797 – St. Stephen’s Church adopts the constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Connecticut.
Dec. 4, 1797 – Pounds are apparently in considerable need. The Town Meeting establishes a publicly supported pound near Samuel Stebbins house and then, in an unusual move, votes “that liberty is granted to Robert Edmonds and his neighbors to erect a pound at their own expense between the dwelling houses of Stiles and Cyrus Edmonds.”
Dec. 4, 1797 – Seventeen years after small pox inoculation is first allowed [see Dec. 21, 1780], the Town Meeting again decides that “liberty is given to inoculation for the small pox, under the restrictions and regulations of law.” Unlike most votes, it is not unanimous, and the motion passes by “two thirds of said meeting.”
Dec. 4, 1797 – The Select Men are authorized to “repair ye roof of ye House where Yabecomb lives, at the town expense.” [Gilbert Yabbecomb, according to Silvio Bedini, came from Wales, and by the late 1700s, was a town pauper. He was not without income, however, for he was receiving a four-pound annuity from England until 1802 on property he owned at “Quarry Park.”]
May 8, 1798 – The Town Meeting votes “on motion whether this meeting will do anything respecting the direction of Capt. Nathan Dauchy, administrator on the estate of Jacob Smith Jr. deceased, what further measure to pursue with Josiah Raymond, now imprisoned in Fairfield Goal for a debt due to said estate, of which the town is a principal creditor, (said Raymond having taken the poor prisoners oath), voted in the negative.” [This is a fascinating, but unclear action. Jacob Smith had been the state tax collector who failed in his duties – see March 3, 1788. How Raymond is connected to Smith is unknown. However, by taking the “poor prisoner’s oath,” Raymond is attempting to get out of jail by swearing he has no property of value and has not conveyed any property to others to escape his debts. The voters clearly didn’t want to get involved in whatever Capt. Dauchy felt might be done.]
Aug. 30, 1798 – The Town Meeting appoints three men to ascertain the value of land and buildings, as well as to enumerate slaves, in accordance with a recent Act of Congress.
Dec. 3. 1798 – The border between Ridgefield and Norwalk [now Wilton] is still in dispute, and the voters decide to ask old-timers what they recall about the border. The Town Meeting names Joshua King Esq. to “be agent to procure the testimony of some aged gentlemen to perpetuate the remembrance of the bounds between Ridgefield and Norwalk towns.”
1799 – The First Society has 10 schoolhouses serving 433 children. Ridgebury has two more schoolhouses and about 75 children.
Feb. 14, 1799 – The Rev. David Butler becomes part-time rector of the Episcopal congregation, serving until 1804.
Oct. 18, 1799 – In the only perambulation ever recorded between the two towns, officials of Ridgefield and New Fairfield survey their joint boundary.
Dec. 2, 1799 –The Annual Town Meeting appoints Samuel Stebbins “to inspect the wood which shall be furnished for the town’s poor.” [Could it be that the people that are supposed to supply wood – the 1700s equivalent to today’s fuel oil – were providing an inferior product?]
Dec. 2, 1799 – The Select Men are told to take care of Joseph Jagger for the coming year, “by way of public venue to the lowest bidder.” [Joseph Jagger came to town in 1774. Writing in 1800, the Rev. S. G. Goodrich reported that there were three “foreigners in the town who are paupers,” one of whom was “named Jagger ... an old man about 95 years, an Englishman who served under the Duke of Cumberland at the Battle of Culloden in 1745, and was in Flanders with the regiment previous to that battle.” Mr. Goodrich said that Jagger “wrought jet work in cedar since he has been in this country, till he was near 80 years old and he will to this day ... sing a martial air he learned in Flanders and cry, ‘God save King George.’“ Jet work may have meant inlaying cedar with pieces of polished black coal to form decorative articles. He died in 1802, supposedly at the age of 100.]