Entire contents copyrighted 2005 by Jack Sanders. Reproduction without permission is forbidden.
Running from High Ridge to Gilbert Street, Abbott Avenue was named for George I. Abbott, a well-known village businessman at the turn of the century. He operated a Main Street grocery store where Finch Realty is today, and was the first foreman of the Hook and Ladder Company, one of three divisions within the early Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department. He was also a state representative in 1902.
Abbott owned and probably developed the land around Abbott Avenue. The roadway is shown on a 1905 sewer map and the name Abbott Avenue was in use by 1911, when it appears on a property map in the town clerk’s records.
ABBOTT’S MILL ROAD
Abbott’s Mill Road may have been the first formal name applied to the present-day Florida Hill Road, which, during the 18th Century, was frequently called at least “the mill road.” In fact, Florida Hill Road was probably built to provide access from town to the gristmill that stood at the intersection of Florida Hill Road and Route 7, now the site of a home called “Moongate.”
Peter Burr built the mill, often overlooked by historians but a major industry of the period, in 1737 after he received permission from the proprietors to erect “a good and sufficient grist mill” on the “Norwalk River.” He was also allowed to dam the river “northward of Cedar Mountain” to create a pond for water storage. This is very-probably the present-day Miller’s Pond (which was named not after the occupation of milling, but after the late Nathaniel Miller, a former owner).
This gristmill probably served the milling needs of most of the residents of the southeast part of town. Perhaps even villagers went to this mill, rather than the one at Mamanasco, which was the_ first to be established here.
David Abbott was the fourth owner of the mill, operating it for less than two years. But his ownership was notable enough to have his name applied to the road leading to the mill. For in a 1745 grant of 27 acres to David Scott, the proprietors describe the tract as “lying southerly of Abbott’s Mill Road.” It is interesting that none of the previous three mill owners and none of the more than a half dozen subsequent owners through the 1800 had their names applied to the road in land-record deeds.
Perhaps it should be mentioned here that the “proprietors,” a term that appears frequently in “Ridgefield Names,” were originally the people who bought Ridgefield from the Indians and held title to all of the common — or surplus — land in town. They, their descendants, and their designees generally controlled the government and, through their landowning status, had some power to determine who could move into town and who could not, at least in the early years of settlement.
Acorn Place is the only road in town named for a nut, assuming that Chestnut Hill and Walnut Grove Roads were named for the trees that bear the nuts.
William R. Hornibrook developed the 1,200-foot-long, dead-end road off lower Silver Spring Road. The subdivision it serves was approved in 1976.
The name was selected because of the many oak trees on the property.
Acre Lane, off Wilton Road West, was developed around 1964 by the Symone brothers — Frank, John, and Robert — as Parkview Estates. The name comes from the size of the lots, of which there were 23. It became a town road in 1965.
Part of Washington Park Estates off Branchville Road, Adams Road was named for the second president of the United States, John Adams.
Selectman Paul J. Morganti suggested the name in the mid-1950’s as one of several presidents’ names to be used in the subdivision, developed by Bert Ison. The road, which runs between Lincoln Lane and Jefferson Drive, became a town road in 1956.
Mentioned in deeds of 1830 and 1843, the Adder Meadow belonged to the sizable Pardee family who lived just across the line in Lewisboro, but owned land in Ridgefield in the vicinity of West Mountain Road as it crosses into New York State. The meadow was probably somewhere west of Rippowam Road.
The name is interesting in that it is probably connected with the earlier-known names of Rattle Holes and Rattlesnake Swamp (q.v.). The “adders” that were probably once sighted in the meadow were either rattlesnakes, which certainly would have found rocky West Mountain a fine place to live, or copperheads.
Adders are common poisonous snakes in England, and since most of the settlers were English or of English ancestry, the name was probably used generically for any poisonous snake.
Aldrich Park, sometimes erroneously called Farmingville Park, was named for Lawrence Aldrich, who donated the 37 acres in several pieces during the 1960’s and early 1970’s.
The park, near the corner of Farmingville and New Roads, is where the town’s first Little League field was built: It also contains a good number of marked hiking trails through woods and wetland, and is often used by students for nature study.
It has been rumored that somewhere in or near the park was an old silver mine, but those who have searched for it have so far been unable to find the diggings.
Art and open space may seem little connected, but Larry Aldrich championed both. Besides giving the park to the town, the noted fashion designer brought a world-class art museum to Ridgefield.
Mr. Aldrich founded a women’s clothing firm in 1927. “My dress collections were an immediate success and sold in all the best stores,” he told The Press in 1996 when he turned 90. His wife, Winifred, a talented artist, helped spark an interest in contemporary art and he began collecting in the late 30s, eventually becoming a central figure in the New York City art scene.
The Aldriches moved to Nod Road in 1939 and by 1960, were running out of space for their art collection. In 1963, Mr. Aldrich acquired three acres and a Main Street house that had once been The Old Hundred, a 19th Century country store. The Aldrich Museum opened there in 1964 and has thrice expanded over the years. Mr. Aldrich and the museum championed countless new artists by showing their work. “The museum is one of Connecticut's true treasures and a living example of Larry Aldrich's vision and commitment to the arts and to his community,” said UConn Chancellor Mark Emmert when he awarded Mr. Aldrich an honorary degree in 1996. That June, Mr. Aldrich donated $50,000 to the acquisition of more open space in town. “It’s all part of my birthday celebration,” the good-humored Mr. Aldrich said, “because I'll never been 90 again.”
Mr. Aldrich died in 2001 and Winifred, two years later.
Anderson Mountain is another name for Titicus Mountain, according to a mention in The Ridgefield Press in 1952 (see below).
ANDERSON TEA HOUSE ROAD
Anderson Tea House Road is an unusual name was once applied to modern-day Old Sib Road, much of which was built around 1908 as an access to H. B. Anderson’s resort, called the Tea House, on Titicus Mountain. Later, the resort was named the Port of Missing Men, more fitting since most of the refreshments served were considerably stronger than tea, and the men who visited the place were often without their wives.
“Anderson Tea House Road” appears on a 1928 property map filed with town clerk. The map says Louis G. Smith owned the road itself.
After the 1895 fire that destroyed most of Ridgefield’s business district, villagers decided to create a water system that began operation in 1900. Spring fed and financially unstable, the system was inadequate until Henry B. Anderson took over the Ridgefield Water Company in 1902 and acquired Round Pond on West Mountain as its main water source. Around the same Mr. Anderson organized the Ridgefield Electric Company to power water supply pumps and village lighting.
Mr. Anderson was also involved in the creation of the Port of Missing Men, a West Mountain resort for wealthy New York men. He and Ogden Mills, secretary of the treasury under President Hoover, were partners, owning some 3,000 acres in Ridgefield and nearby Westchester County, N.Y., on which they built many of the West Mountain and Titicus Mountain Roads used today and some of the ponds.
These were not his main occupations, however, for Mr. Anderson was a Yale graduate with a Harvard Law degree who had a noted legal firm in New York City (which once represented the old New York Central Railroad). His first home here, a mansion on West Lane, was later sold to Frederic E. Lewis (see Lewis Drive.). His second home was on Titicus Mountain.
During World War I, Mr. Anderson offered his yacht, Taniwha, to the Navy (a taniwha was a Maori water monster). He was placed in command and assigned to patrol the New York Harbor area. He later worked in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington until the war ended. Mr. Anderson sold the water company in 1928 and by then was living at Sands Point, Long Island, where he died in 1938, at the age of 75.
More discussion of his resort appears under “Eight Lakes” and of the road, under “Old Sib Road.”
According to Beers Atlas (1867), Andrews Pond was the name for the body of water, now known as Sanford’s Pond, situated just north of I-84 and just east of the New York line in Danbury — territory that was once part of Ridgefield.
Andrews probably once owned the pond, and may have been a miller who used its waters. In the 1700’s it was known as Whitings Pond.
Aokeets (or Aokeels, Aokkeels) was the Indian name for the body of water now called Little Pond, on the west side of Route 7 just south of the intersection of Route 35.
John C. Huden, in his Indian Place Names of New England, says the name may have meant “hornet place” or possibly “adversary’s place” in the Siwanoy language. The Siwanoy (which means “South People”) were a group of Indians who lived in southern Fairfield and Westchester Counties.
The suggestion in the name is that some ancient Indian battle or battles may have taken place at or about the pond.
Aokeets is first mention as a boundary marker in the first purchase of Ridgefield land from the Indians in 1708. However, it never again appears in the town’s land records.
The Rev. Samuel G. Goodrich, third minister of the First Congregational Church, used the name in an 1800 report on the town, so it may still have been in some use by then. However, Clark’s map of Fairfield County, published in 1856, refers to the pond as “Little Pond,” the name it still holds.
ARMAND PLACE, ROAD
Armand Road and the dead-end Armand Place off it are roads at and adjacent to the Eleven Levels or West Mountain Estates subdivision off Old West Mountain Road. The roads were developed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
The names recall Colonel Charles Armand, more formally known as Charles Armand Tuffin, Marquis de la Rouerie, a wealthy French nobleman who fought with the colonists during the Revolution. In the summer of 1779 Armand established a barracks for his Partisan Legion near the intersection of Barrack Hill Road and Old West Mountain Road — on or about the area served by these roads. From here his men went on sorties into Westchester and Putnam Counties, attacking the British and protecting patriots. Some of his cavalrymen also acted as a sort of police force, patrolling the area to apprehend marauders, deserters, rioters, stragglers, and other soldiers found guilty of violating the General Orders.
According to historian Silvio Bedini, the barracks operated here for about a year. Armand then headed south, serving with de Kalb in North Carolina and then participating in the surrender at Yorktown.
In 1783, Congress appointed Armand a brigadier general, suggesting that his service to the country was much appreciated.
Ascot Way, a short, dead-end road off lower Main Street, was named for the subdividing company, Ascot Associates, whose main partners were William Wade and Anthony Ricardo. Why they used the name is unknown.
Developed around 1969, Ascot Way became a town road in 1974.
Running off Route 7, Ashbee Lane was named for the late Charles F. Ashbee, a retired insurance executive who lived on Wilton Road West and on Barry Avenue.
When he died in 1962, the front page of the May 31 issue of The Ridgefield Press announced: “C.F. Ashbee, Santa Claus, Dies at 89.” Charley Ashbee, an insurance man, had been a local legend. “Mr. Ashbee spent nearly as much of his long life portraying Santa Claus and delighting the children of this town as he devoted to the insurance business,” The Press said. “Donning a Santa Claus suit became a habit with Uncle Charley soon after he and Mrs. Ashbee settled here.”
He had been born in New York City in 1872, and moved to Wilton Road West early in the 20th Century. Every Christmas for several generations, he was a fixture at celebrations on Main Street and with various organizations, and for all the joy he gave kids, was named Rotary Citizen of the Year in 1960. Among his off-season hobbies was autograph collecting and he had the signatures of every president except George Washington.
Everett Lounsbury Jr. named the road and developed it in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
The name appears in one 1979 deed as “Ash Bee Lane,” prompting one to wonder whether the deed’s author thought ash bees were dry equivalents of sweat bees.
Asoquatah is the native word for West Mountain, appearing in the 1708 deed for the first purchase of land from the Indians. However, the settlers never commonly used the name, and it never appears in any subsequent deeds – “West Mountain” was used instead. It is one of those difficult-to-pronounce Indian names that quickly fell out of use.
The meaning is uncertain, but there are at least four possibilities. One is “pine tree sap place,” assuming that the word is constructed from azoi, meaning sap; kowa, meaning pointed or thorny, i.e., pine; and tock, meaning place. Pine sap may have been used by the Indians here as an adhesive or sealer, and perhaps as a fuel for fires and lights.
Another possibility is that the word had something to do with a place where the ruler lived — the sound sohk, meaning ruler. Aso could mean “backward” or perhaps “turning place” in an old Indian path, which is said to have traversed the mountain (discussed under Oreneca Road).
However, Nicholas Shoumatoff, who lived in Lewisboro and who studied local Indian names, believed Asoquatah translates as “something that is not crooked.”
Take your pick.
ASPEN LEDGES ROAD
In Ridgefield, Aspen has nothing to do with the tree or the Colorado ski town. The word is a corruption of the Indian term, Asproom (q.v).
The steep incline on the north side of Ledges Road was identified in the land records from very early times. Probably the first reference occurs in 1753 when the proprietors granted Stephen Smith about five acres “lying at Asproom Mountain, west of ye Great Ledges.” By 1783, deeds are calling the area “Asproom Ledges.”
The first reference to the modern-day version occurs in an 1841 deed for land “near Aspen Ledges so called.” S.G. Goodrich (Peter Parley) used the term “Aspen Ledges” in his Recollections of A Lifetime, published in 1855, indicating that the corruption of the word was probably well established by then.
The road, which extends from the end of Old Stagecoach Road to Bob Hill Road, was built around 1959 by Robert Kaufman as part of the Ridgefield Knolls subdivision. Mr. Kaufman originally planned to called the road Topstone Drive West to complement Topstone Drive, also at the Knolls.
However, the name would have caused confusion since ‘Topstone Road is at the eastern edge of town, running from Route 7 into Redding, the two Topstone Drives would be several miles away from each other. Thus, Topstone Drive was changed to Knollwood Drive and Topstone Drive West to Aspen Ledges Road.
ASPEN MILL ROAD
William Peatt Jr., the developer in the early 1960’s of this lane off Ledges Road, proposed naming it “Asproom Mill Road,” after the accurate representation of the Indian name and the fact that Hezekiah Scott’s grist and cider mill was only a short distance away (see Kiah’s Brook).
Although his suggestion used a historically accurate name and reference, the old Planning Commission apparently didn’t like the sound of Asproom and changed it to Aspen, thus creating confusion for many people with Aspen Ledges Road – which in turn is sometimes confused with just plain Ledges Road.
An 1893 map of Connecticut shows today’s Barlow Mountain as being named Aspetuck Mountain. This is clearly an error; no reference to the word “aspetuck” ever appears in the land records here. The label was probably applied in confusion with a locality in Redding or Easton.
Aspine Loaf is a version of the name “Asproom Loaf” or “Loft” that appears in an 1839 deed referring to land near Barlow Mountain.
In 1792, David Scott sold James Scott 2nd a couple of acres “near Asproom Bridge.” This may have been the bridge by which Barlow Mountain Road traverses the Kiah’s Brook east of the Scotland School, or it may have carried Ridgebury Road or Sherwood Road over the Titicus River near Ledges Road.
ASPROOM LOAF, LOFT, ALOFT
Here’s an interesting set of terms, apparently all referring to the same place and used interchangeably.
In 1756 Gershom Bennit, who was born here but moved to Fairfield (he was a member of the “Bennett’s Farm” clan), sold Jonathan Whitlock nine acres “lying easterly of Asproom Loaf so-called.” But in 1786 Abraham Pullen, Abel Barnum (probably the same family that produced P. T.), and Jonathan Woods all had land at “a place called Bennett’s Farm near Asproom Loft so-called.”
In 1797, when James and Jere Scott sold six acres to Abraham Pulling, they described it as being on “the west side of Asproom Aloft so called.” Even later, in 1866, Timothy O. Scott combined both new and old forms when he sold two acres at “Aspen Loaf” to Smith Burt.
Loaf, as in Sugar Loaf Mountain Road, referred to the shape of the peak of a mountain — its being like a loaf of bread or a loaf of sugar (which a couple centuries ago was conical in form). Loft or Aloft just meant it was high. Some landowners may have misunderstood the earliest word, loaf, and converted it to the seemingly more sensible loft or aloft.
At any rate the references are probably to the lofty peak of Barlow Mountain, just west of Limestone Road and visible from much of the Ridgefield Lakes area. It is today part of Pierrepont State Park and a fine hiking trail traverses the peak from which, at 950 feet above the sea, one can see for many miles in all directions.
Asproom Mountain, as it was commonly called in the 18th Century, is the elevation of land that extends from Limestone Road westerly to Spring Valley Road. It is now sometimes called Ridgebury Mountain, and includes Barlow Mountain and Sugar Loaf Mountain. At its easterly end it connects at Asproom Loaf with Stonecrest or Copps Mountain, the ridge along the east side of North Street.
Asproom is a corruption of Asprumquak. In April 1716 John Copp, who helped lay out the Main Street lots, surveyed the northern boundary line of the town (then quite a bit south of where it is now) and said he crossed the top “of a mountain called Asprumquak.”
This word, according to various authorities, means “lofty place” in the native language.
“Asproom” first appears on the land records in the third purchase from the Indians in 1721, but there was at least one instance of the original word’s remaining almost entirely intact some years later. When the proprietors in 1748 granted 22 acres to Joseph Crampton’s heirs, they described the land as “lying northeasterly of Asproomqua.”
However, Asproom was by far the most common form of the word and was used to place various nearby localities. For example, there was Asproom Boggs, a swamp along the Titicus first mentioned in 1721; Asproom Plain, flatlands south of the range or perhaps in the area of Regan Road (1724); Asproom “Peek,” possibly the area around Summit Lane with an elevation of 860 feet or perhaps the previously mentioned Asproom Loaf (1722).
The Rev. Samuel G. Goodrich wrote in the year 1800 that the mountain and the ledges provided such a strong division between Ridgebury and Ridgefield that the two regions were virtually separate communities. In fact, the range of the Asproom Mountain probably did more to lead to the creation of Ridgebury Parish and repeated petitions for a “Town of Ridgebury” than any other factor (see Ridgebury).
Asprumquak Mountain is the original form of Asproom and Aspen, as described above.