Entire contents copyrighted 2005 by Jack Sanders. Reproduction without permission is forbidden.
EAST FARM LANE
East Farm Lane is a 1,300-foot road running off the southerly side of New Road, part of a 1983 subdivision by Michel and Mario Morin. It became a town road around 1985.
The subdivision is on part of the old Lee property (see Lee Road), and it was said that this was part of the Lees' "East Farm."
The East Meadow or Meadows was the relatively flat land that lies along the upper Norwalk River, especially around the Great and Little Ponds, and perhaps as far south as New Road.
The name, appearing as both singular and plural, shows up as early as 1717 and was used as late as 1826.
The Norwalk River in this vicinity was sometimes called East Meadow River in the early 1700's.
EAST MOUNTAIN I
Several deeds written between 1820 and 1837 mention East Mountain, which appears to be a neighborhood (Scotland District) term for Copps or Stonecrest Mountain (q.v.) the ridge along which North Street runs.
The mountain, reaching more than 800 feet above sea level in places, is "east" of much of north-central Ridgefield, though it is not the easternmost "mountain" in town.
EAST MOUNTAIN II
The description of the perambulation of the Ridgefield and Redding line in 1828 notes that the third monument north of the southeast corner of town (in Branchville) "is upon the side of the East Mountain, a few rods west of the high peak on Elisha Gilbert's lot."
This description places the monument on the steep hill along the east side of Route 7, north of Branchville and south of Redding. This "East Mountain" is mostly in western Redding, where it was probably called something else-perhaps West Mountain!
EAST PUMPKIN RIDGE
Pompion or Pumpkin Ridge (q.v.) is the long, wide ridge about midway between Ridgefield village and Branchville. Part of it has been called Biddle Hill in the 20th Century.
"East Pumpkin Ridge," only one reference to which has been found and that in a 1774 deed, apparently referred to the eastern slope of this ridge, perhaps in the vinicity of the western intersection of Branchville and Old Branchville Roads.
Deeds from the early 18th Century (as early as 1716) usually spoke of this area as Pompion Ridge, "pompion" being an old ward for pumpkin. By the 1800's, both Pampion and Pumpkin Ridge occurred with equal frequency, but the names had fallen out of general use by the early 20th Century.
East Ridge Road, sometimes called East Ridge Avenue, is a fairly modern name for the old road stretching between Prospect Street and Branchville Road, just east of Main Street. It is not as accurate as its earlier name, Middle Ridge Avenue, and not the first road here to be called East Ridge.
Clark's map of Fairfield County shows this road existing in 1856. Its purpose then was probably chiefly as a road around the fields east of Main Street, which were pasture and croplands from the earliest settlement of the community.
The name, East Ridge Avenue, originally applied to what we now call Prospect Ridge Road, according to a 1900 sewer map of the village. It is a fitting name for that road because the ridge is the highest elevation east of Main Street (called Town Ridge by the settlers). So also, Middle Ridge Avenue is a more accurate name for the road that parallels the tops of East Ridge and the Town Ridge.
It is not clear when Middle Ridge Avenue became known as East Ridge, and East Ridge as Prospect Ridge. A property map filed in 1919 used the name Middle Ridge Avenue. In fact, a map for land owned by Walter and Marion Hustis, drawn in October 1959, said "Middle Ridge Road," even though the road was commonly known as East Ridge long before 1959.
If all that isn't confusing enough, a road map of Ridgefield drawn in 1912 labels today's East Ridge as "Orchard Lane," probably because Governor Phineas Lounsbury's apple orchard was situated nearby. Governor Lounsbury's house is now the Community Center.
The Norwalk River along Route 7 was occasionally called East River in the 18th Century.
The first such reference was in a 1718 deed from the proprietors to Milford Samuel Smith (as opposed to Norwalk Samuel Smith) for four acres "on ye Walnutt Ridge west of ye East River."
The name was probably a shortened form of East Meadow River (see East Meadow), just as Great Pond is probably an abbreviated version of Great East Meadow Pond. The Norwalk River, of course, parallels the eastern boundary of the town.
East Woods is another old and lost term for an area in Ridgebury, probably in the vicinity of Ned's Mountain or a little east and north of Lake Windwing.
The term first appears in a 1774 deed for 40 acres "in ye East Woods" and is used occasionally found well into the 19th Century-the last mention being an 1841 deed.
A 1790 deed says East Woods is "about a mile from Ridgebury (Congregational) Church," but doesn't tell in which direction. But being East Woods, one might assume it's eastward.
Edmond Town was a 19th Century name for a neighborhood along Florida Road, about half way between Florida Hill and Branchville Roads. Here Florida Road was then joined by the easterly end of today's Cooper Road, which now dead-ends long before Florida Road.
This junction was called Edmond Town because it was long the home of the Edmond family. When the name appears in a 1874 deed, Willis Edmond was living there. There were also several other nearby houses, perhaps built by or owned by relatives.
It seems add for such a small, seemingly off-the-beaten-path neighborhood to pick up a "town" name. However, Florida Road had long been part of the main north-south route from Norwalk to Danbury-before the building of the Sugar Hollow Turnpike to the east-and there was probably at least some sort of stage stop here in the 18th and early 19th Centuries. When the turnpike was built and later the railroad with its station to the south at Branchville, whatever businesses might have existed at Edmond Town probably closed for lack of traffic.
Eight Lakes is the town's largest subdivision, consisting of a few hundred lots-from tiny ones around Lake Mamanasco to one-acre parcels up on West Mountain, particularly its northeastern slape.
The land, more than 1,750 acres in Connecticut and New York, was amassed around the turn of the century by Henry B. Anderson and others who had visions of creating a "park" of large homes for the wealthy.
In the construction of roads through the property, Mr. Anderson's right-hand man was Eldridge N. Bailey, later first selectman of the town.
Mr. Anderson built his own mansion on the west slope of the mountain in New York state, overlooking three lakes, but his wife died suddenly and he never occupied the building which eventually fell to ruin.
Atop the mountain at its north slope in New York state, Mr. Anderson built a restaurant, naming it The Port of Missing Men (q,v,) after a 1907 novel of that title by Meredith Nicholason. It was just across the state line on the New York extension of Old Sib Road. The restaurant, often called Anderson's Tea house, catered to wealthy New York businessmen and-some say-their girl friends. It closed around 1940 and the building was razed in 1946.
In 1951, J. Wesley Seward and William H. Hayes of New York City, who had acquired the land, sold 78 parcels of it, ranging from a few acres to more than 100 acres each in Lewisboro, North Salem, and Ridgefield, to the Port of Missing Men Inc. This group of New York City developers then set about subdividing more than 37 Ridgefield tracts, totaling from 500 to 600 acres. Mare than 100 subdivision maps of the land were filed with the town clerk between 1951 and 1954, filling two complete map books.
Same 10 miles of trails and paths, many of them blazed by early Italian immigrants working for Mr. Anderson, became subdivision roads and new ones were added. The roads include Walnut Hill Road, Birch Court, Rock Road, Scott Ridge Road, Blue Ridge Road, Caudatowa Drive, Sleepy Hollow Road, Round Lake Road, First through 12th Lanes, and the west ends of both Barrack Hill and Old Sib Roads.
At times during the 1950's, as many as 20 salesmen for Eight Lakes were working in town over weekends, selling houses and lots in the development. Some lots there are still undeveloped.
The name, Eight Lakes, comes from the number of lakes and ponds encompassed or touched on by the Anderson property in both states: Lake Mamanasco, Turtle Pond, and Round Pond in Ridgefield; Lakes Rippowam, Oscaleta, and Waccabuc in Lewisboro; and two small man-made ponds-one once called Pine Lake-in the wilds of West Mountain in southern North Salem, now mostly parkland owned by Westchester County.
Turtle Pond, also called Hidden Lake, is the only Anderson-made pond on the Connecticut side.
Eighth Lane is one of those not-too-creative names-as in First through Twelfth Lanes-for the short roads, most of them dead-enders, off the west side of Mamanasco Road, part of the Eight Lakes development described above.
ELEVEN LEVELS, ROAD
Eleven Levels is a large subdivision under development from the mid-1970's well into the 1980's off both West Mountain and Old West Mountain Roads. The 5,450-foot-long main road running through the development is called Eleven Levels Road. While the subdivision itself has been labeled Eleven Levels, the development is now more often being called West Mountain Estates.
The subdivision is part of an old estate called Eleven Levels, apparently the number of degrees of elevation that ripple through the property as it rolls down the eastern slope of West Mountain. However, the number may have been less accurately chosen for its mellifluence with the word "levels."
The property was amassed by Arthur C. Fraser who began 1n 1907 by buying 31 acres. By the time of his death in 1934, he had acquired 14 parcels totalling 180 acres and extending all the way between West Mountain and Barrack Hill Roads.
When his estate was appraised in 1936, the value of the entire 180 acres was placed at $8,958. In 1987, a single acre there would probably fetch more than 30 times that much!
Called in his Press obituary "one of (the) best patent attorneys in (the) United States," Fraser probably built the house which the obituary described as a "beautiful summer home." He was a benefactor of many charities in New York City and maintained his office and his winter home in Brooklyn.
His widow, Rose McLane Fraser, sold the estate to Joseph M. Shapiro in 1941. A native of Russia, Mr. Shapiro founded in 1929 the Simplicity Patterns Company, still famous today for its designs for home-made clothing. He headed the firm until the 1960's when he died. Shapiro sold the place in 1952 to Paul and Elizabeth Arnold. Mr. Arnold headed the bread baking firm bearing his name.
The Arnolds sold the estate to Jerry Tuccio in 1959. A year later Mr. Tuccio, who lived for many years in the main house, applied to the town Planning Commission for the 62 lots on 100 acres, at first called Highland Acres, but eventually called Eleven Levels. A protracted battle ensued between the officials and the developer over the number and size of the lots. During the debate, Mr. Tuccio maintained he was being unfairly denied his right to develop his land reasonably, and at one point uttered the exclamation, much quoted at the time, "This is Ridgefield and not Russia!"
Eventually the subdivision was approved (around 1968), but it wasn't until eight years later that home-building there began. Other roads in the development include Armand Place, Green Lane, Old Wagon Road, and Trial's End Lane.
Eleventh Lane is one of the First-through-Twelfth Lane roads off Mamanasco Road, and part of the Eight Lakes development.
Some subdivision maps label the western end of Dowling Drive as Elliott Drive. Charles Elliott, who died in 1983, developed the property in the 1950's, but the name is not recognized as a town road name.
The Elm Branch, a name long ago lost, refers to one of two brooks (often called "branches" years ago) that rise west of Silver Spring Road and east of the New York State line.
Frequently used in the 18th Century as a landmark, the Elm Branch was first mentioned in a 1717 proprietors' deed for land described as "lying on ye Elm Branch." Subsequent deeds place the stream near the state line and a 1772 reference speaks of property at "the head of the elm Branch" as being in Ridgefield, though much of the brook flows through Lewisboro.
The Elm Branch is probably the stream that rises in a swamp near Flat Rock Drive, winds southward for about a mile and enters New York State where it continues its southward flow into Scott's Reservoir in Lewisboro, which serves Norwalk. The outlet of the reservoir flows into the west branch of the Silvermine River, which eventually empties into Long Island Sound.
It is probably no accident that the road in Lewisboro that parallels this brook is called Elmwood Road; the territory was probably well populated with elms years ago.
Once more common than it is today, the American elm has suffered from both insect pests and Dutch elm disease, but not to extinction. The distinctive vase-shaped form of the elm can still be seen, especially an back roads and in woods where, if spaced far enough apart, they have not caught the disease.
Ridgefielders caught a bit of "elm fever" in 1986 when the owners of a shopping center an Main Street wanted to cut down an elm tree to move their entrance to be more closely opposite Prospect Street. In the wake of a public outcry - right down to "Save the Elm" t-shirts, the plan was abandoned and Main Street's last elm remained untouched. Back in 1986, there were "experts" who claimed the tree would not last long anyway; in 2005, it was still alive and well.
Although most towns in the area, if not the nation, have streets named for the elm, Ridgefield has somehow managed to ignore this tree, except in a single name, long ago forgotten, of a small brook in the southwestern corner of town.
EQUIVALENCY LINE, the
Very occasionally an 18th Century deed will mention the "Equivalency Line," a reference to the state line.
As is explained mare fully under The Oblong (q.v.), Connecticut exchanged land with New York in 1731. Connecticut got the Greenwich panhandle and New York got a one and three-quarter mile wide strip of land up the western side of Connecticut.
The new state line-the present one-was called the Equivalency Line because it represented what New York received in exchange for its land. In other words, it marked the "equivalent" of the panhandle.
ETHAN ALLEN HIGHWAY
Ethan Allen Highway is the only road through Ridgefield that bears the same name in three states-unless one considers "Route 7" a name. (Several road names, such as West Lane and Oscaleta Road, cross one state line.)
Ethan Allen Highway is, of course, Route 7, and technically bears that name all along its 312-mile length from Norwalk to the Vermont-Canada border. In some towns local names are used, such as Sugar Hollow Road in Danbury, and Danbury Road in Wilton.
According to The American Guide, a 1949 condensation of the famous WPA Federal Writers Project travel guide series, the road is called Ethan Allen Highway "because it passes through the Green Mountains (Vermont) where Ethan Allen (who was born in Connecticut) and his Green Mountain Boys fought for independence of Vermont from New York domination and at the same time put down Tory opposition during (the) Revolution and in 1775 launched their successful attack an Fort Ticonderoga."
However, Connecticut, the original 1938 volume written by workers of the Federal Writers' Project, says, "US 7 is known as the Ethan Allen Highway because it was the route taken by the eager-eyed recruits from Connecticut who hurried north to join the Green Mountain Boys."
In capturing Fort Ticonderoga from the British, the first victory of the Revolution, Colonel Allen uttered the now-famous words: "I demand it in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress."
That remark rather annoyed Samuel G. Goodrich (Peter Parley), the 19th Century author and historian who was born in Ridgefield in 1793, four years after Allen's death. Goodrich was rather reserved in recording the man's feats. In A Pictorial History of the United States ... for the Use of Schools and Families (1843), he observed that "Colonel Allen, though a brave man, was not always exemplary in his language. Like many other brave men... he had defects in character. His declaration to the British officers savored strongly both of profanity and untruth."
Goodrich, a man of morals innate in a New England minister's son, reported that Allen's wife was a "pious woman," who taught her children "the truths of Christianity." However, one daughter, "inclined to the same strange opinions of her father," had openly professed not to believe in Christianity.
"When about to die, she sent word to her father that she wished to converse with him.
" 'I am about to die,' she said. 'Shall I believe in the principles you have taught me or shall I believe in what my mother has taught me?'
"The father became agitated, his chin quivered, his whole frame shook, and after waiting a few moments, he replied, 'Believe what your mother has taught you!' "
To Goodrich, that statement was probably the high point of Allen's life.
Ethan Allen Highway was so called at least by 1935 when it appears in The Connecticut Guide, published by the Emergency Relief Commission in Hartford. In Ridgefield today, Ethan Allen Highway is used as an address from the Wilton line north to the Route 35 intersection. From there to the Danbury line is Danbury Road. The road here has also been known as the Sugar Hollow Turnpike and the Danbury and Norwalk Turnpike (q.v,).
Evans Circle is a non-existent road, shown on some maps of the mid-20th Century as running off the west side of Silver Spring Road near the Wilton line.
The late G. Evans Hubbard of Wilton probably proposed it; he owned the land (and was a historian of Wilton and founder of The Wilton Bulletin newspaper). For some reason, his subdivision was never built, but the Hubbard family sold the land in the mid-1980's when it was developed as Southridge Court (q.v.).
A short dead-end road, Evergreen Place runs off Pheasant Lane, which runs off George Washington Highway in Ridgebury.
It is part of the Scodon III subdivision approved around 1974 for Jerry Tuccio, and subsequently developed by Carl Lecher and others.
There are evergreens in the area.