Entire contents copyrighted 2005 by Jack Sanders. Reproduction without permission is forbidden.
Hagemeyers' Pond is a small, man-made body of water between western Ivy Hill Road and Branchville Road, named for Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Hagemeyer who once owned it.
The name appears on no map, and has been handed down by word of mouth. Recent US Geological Survey maps give the pond no name, and Hagemeyers' Pond is as good as any.
The waters from the pond flow into the southern end of Great Swamp, connecting there with the beginning of Cooper Brook, which flows down to Branchville and empties into the Norwalk River.
Halpin Lane is an unusual little road, which runs from Prospect Ridge Road opposite the old high school, eastward down to the old railroad bed.
The road used to lead to the small farm of James Halpin and on to Great Swamp. Mr. Halpin, who died in 1911, aged about 90, was for many years a laborer in town. He came here from Ireland in the mid-19th Century.
Until around 1970 Halpin Lane was a dirt driveway; it was paved only after the town bought the former Holy Ghost fathers novitiate and converted the building into a Board of Education headquarters. Although the Holy Ghost fathers had owned the land on both sides of the dirt lane, the town had owned the road itself for many years.
In 1987, the town moved the school board offices to the former Branchville School and was planning to convert the office building into low-cost apartments. The Nolan brothers, private builders from Danbury, were planning to erect lower-cost, federally subsidized apartments for the elderly on town-owned land on the north side of Halpin Lane, where the Marine Corps League has for many years leased a small building for its headquarters.
Halpin Lane has for years served as access to the barns at the eastern end of the road used by the Ridgefield Guild of Artists and by the Ridgefield Workshop for the Performing Arts. It's also an access to the Northeast Utilities electrical substation.
Hamilton Road, running between Remington and Holmes Roads at Westmoreland, was named for Alexander Hamilton.
As a colonel in the Continental Army, Hamilton visited Ridgefield with George Washington in 1780, staying overnight in Ridgebury.
Incidentally, Aaron Burr, the ex-Vice President of the United States who killed Hamilton in a duel, was descended from Burrs who lived in Redding and Wilton in the 1700's and was related to several Ridgefield Burrs.
Hamilton Road became a town road in 1969.
Another form of Narahawmis (q.v.), found in histories of Lewisboro.
Developer Lewis J. Finch named Harding Drive at Chestnut Hill Estates in Ridgebury for his mother, Alice Finch, who died in October 1977 and was a well-known Ridgefielder.
Born Alice Harding in New York City in 1889, she came to Ridgefield in 1913 when she married Harold E. Finch, also a noted citizen of the town and long-time chairman of the Republican Party here. (His son, Lewis, also became chairman of the GOP, and his grandson, Barry, is in 1988 a member of the Republican Town Committee.)
A businesswoman for 50 years, Mrs. Finch operated a fruit and vegetable stand in the early 1920's along the old section of Danbury Road north of Haviland Road. In 1927 she and her husband acquired the United Cigar Store in the Scott Block, where Liberta's Liquor Store is now. Later, the shop moved to the present location of Sweaters Etc., then back across Main Street to where the Ridgefield News Store (Squash's), its successor, is now.
Mrs. Finch was the original owner and operator of Ridgefield's only motel, the Green Doors, which she opened on Route 7 just south of Route 35 in 1952, retiring in 1967. The motel was razed in the early 1980's to make way for what is now the Ridgefield Pizza building.
Mrs. Finch was active in the Women's Republican Club and the Sunshine Society, which aids invalids. For many years she was Republican registrar of voters.
Harding Drive became a town road in 1964.
Harvey Road off the north side of Florida Hill Road is one of two roads in town named for Harvey D. Tanton, Republican first selectman from 1951 to 1953 (the other is Tanton Hill Road (q.v.).
It is said that the name was suggested by the late Bertha Bollas, who was involved in the development of houses there and who, even in her 70's, smoked cigars.
The road existed by 1952 and was accepted as a town road in 1961.
For more than a half century, Ridgefield had no place name to recall one of the most prominent of the first settlers. But that changed in 1978 when a developer created Hauley Place, a short, dead-end road off Lounsbury Road.
As noted below, the Rev. Thomas Hauley was Ridgefield's first minister, and probably its first resident teacher and town clerk. Until the early 1800's, only Hauley's Ridge, an area of Farmingville, made use of the name, and for a while around the turn of this century, there was a Hawley Street (q.v.)
Back in 1978, William R. Hornibrook first proposed using Thomas Hauley Place as the road serving his subdivision, but that was shortened to Hauley Place. Mr. Hornibrook was aware that this area or nearby land had long ago been called Hauley's Ridge, and that the town lacked any name recalling Mr. Hauley himself. It was an excellent example of resurrecting an old name and keeping alive some of the town's early history.
The Board of Selectmen accepted Hauley Place as a town road in 1980. (See also Hawley Street.)
A very old name that long ago fell out of use, Hauley's Ridge referred to territory north of Florida Hill Road, generally east of Ivy Hill Road - including Meadow Woods and south of and perhaps including the area traversed by Blackman and Lounsbury Roads.
The origin of the name was a farm, operated on the ridge by the Hauley family. The founder of the clan here, the Rev. Thomas Hauley, probably received land on the ridge as part of his compensation for becoming in 1713 the town's first minister.
Mr. Hauley lived in the gambrel-roofed house still standing on the north corner of Main Street and Branchville Road. While the house has had several owners in recent years, it had remained in the Hauley or Hawley family well into the 20th Century.
Although his house was in the village, Mr. Hauley could have operated the farm several miles away. It was not unusual for village dwellers to have farms some distance away and even to have barns, other buildings and equipment on them.
A native of Northampton, Mass., Minister Hauley graduated from Harvard College in 1709 and was ordained in 1712. His wife was Abigail Gould of Fairfield and the two came to the Ridgefield wilderness as newlyweds. He was the first minister of what is now called the First Congregational Church. Back then, however, the operations of the church and the town were virtually the same - "government" meetings were held in the church, church records and town records were kept together, the minister was the only schoolteacher.
As probably the most educated of the first settlers, he was the natural choice to be the schoolteacher (John Copp of Norwalk may have done that job temporarily until Mr. Hauley's arrival). At first school was probably taught in the Meeting House on Main Street, but by 1721 or 1722 a schoolhouse had apparently been built.
Mr. Hauley was also the logical choice as the keeper of the town records - the "register" or town clerk. He carried on that task until his death and today, in the town clerk's office, anyone can handle dozens of pages of documents written by Mr. Hauley in his neat and sometimes ornate script.
Minister Hauley died in 1738 - his headstone can be seen at the old town cemetery along Mapleshade Road. He was only 49 years old.
Land records indicate that Thomas Hauley, the minister's son, and possibly Joseph Hauley, another son, may have been living in the Hauley's Ridge area in the 1730's. In 1740, Gamaliel Northrup sold Joseph Hauley "land lying over ye Great Swamp, eastwards of Mr. Hauley's Farm, so called."
In the Sixth 20-Acre Division by the proprietors in 1745, Lot 24 was described as "lying south of Hauley's Ridge" and Lots 28 and 26 were said to be east of Mr. Hauley's farm.
The fact that the phrase is "Mr. Hauley" indicates the writer was respectfully referring to the minister, even though he had died seven years earlier.
Son Thomas Hauley had land at Hauley's Ridge at least by 1745 for we find him selling property to Daniel Sherwood and describing it as "lying behind ye Great Swamp at the northwest part of my farm."
By 1777, many descendants of the Rev. Thomas Hauley owned land on or about the ridge, including Ebenezer, Gould, Thomas, Hezekiah, Elisha, Joseph, and Talcott Hauley, and Abigail Hauley Rockwell. It is doubtful that all were living there then, but most or all of them probably spent some part of their lives on the ridge.
Hauley, incidentally, was spelled in that fashion until Benjamin Smith became town clerk and register of records in 1785 and began spelling it Hawley, the modern version. His predecessor Stephen Smith, town clerk from 1747 to 1785, had always written it Hauley, as had the minister himself. And, after all, he was a Harvard graduation and should have been able to spell his own name correctly.
Hauley's Ridge, a term that first appeared around 1720, was last mentioned in the land records in 1805. The name was probably supplanted in part by Ivy Hill, which is at the south end of the ridge.
The Annual Town Meeting in 1898 discussed the cutting away of portions of "Haviland Hill," probably the area along Danbury Road, opposite Haviland Road and south of the Limestone Shell gasoline station.
Danbury Road used to avoid this hill, as can be seen by the old route of the highway, which veers off eastward at the intersection with Haviland Road and reconnects nearly opposite the gas station. If the town didn't flatten it at the turn of the century, the State Highway Department did in the 1920's when it put the straight section of Danbury Road in place.
Haviland Hill may have been what was earlier called "Limestone Hill" (q.v.).
Haviland Road is an old highway whose function has changed much over the years.
Haviland Road extends from Danbury Road, opposite Limestone Road, eastward to Route 7 and is now used mostly to serve neighborhood homes and as a short-cut to and from Route 7 (and Martin Park), or to and from northern Redding.
However, from at least 1720 until the early 1800's, Haviland Road was considered part of the main road to Danbury, running from Route 35 over to Pickett's Ridge. As noted in previous articles, the 18th Century route to Danbury went north through Starr's Plain and over Moses Mountain - all east of the present Route 7.
By the early 1800's, the Danbury and Ridgefield Turnpike began taking traffic to Danbury via the present path of upper Danbury Road and Route 7. But even then, travelers often took Haviland Road over to the Sugar Hollow Turnpike (Route 7 south of Route 35) rather than deal with the southern end of Danbury and Ridgefield Turnpike (northern Danbury Road), which was very hilly.
Haviland Road was preferable to today's upper Danbury Road because it was comparatively flat and easier for beasts of burden to handle, especially in times of mud. Today, in icy winter conditions, it is sometimes safer to drive across Haviland Road than to chance the dangerous hill-and-curve on upper Danbury Road at Buck Hill, scene of many auto accidents.
The 1912 Whitlock road map of Ridgefield labels Haviland Road as "Danbury Road." Upper Danbury Road (north of Haviland) was "the Hill Road."
Jacob Haviland of Paulington, Dutchess County, N.Y, came here in 1801, buying Michael Warren's 150-acre farm "at Limestone." Most of the farm was on the north side of Haviland Road. Over the years Jacob and his descendants acquired even more land so that the farm stretched along most of both sides of Haviland Road between Routes 35 and 7.
Before they brought their name here, the Havilands had made an impression in nearby New York State. In 1731, one Jacob Haviland Jr. became the first landowner in what is now the town of Patterson in Putnam County. His two large lots were within the Oblong, which had just been transferred from Connecticut to New York.
One lot included a large portion of what is still called Haviland Hollow in the town of Patterson. It had been in this neighborhood that Benjamin Haviland settled and where, in 1750, a Jacob Haviland built a house that was still standing in the 1940's.
The Haviland family continued to farm in Ridgefield until around 1920 when Reed Haviland sold the homestead and about 100 acres to Charles and Hulda Ritch. Their son, Harold Ritch, later developed most of this land into Ritch Drive, Fillmore Lane and Hulda Lane. The old Haviland house, much modified and now bearing uncharacteristic columns in the front, still stands on the north side of Haviland Road, near the intersection with Ritch Drive.
Col. Louis D. Conley acquired parts of the farm for his Outpost Nurseries (see Outpost Pond).
Haviland Road was so called at least from 1946 when the name appears on the town's first zoning map. However, the name was not used on a 1935 road atlas of the town.
There's sort of a sad story about Hawley Court, a name that exists only on paper.
In 1962, DiNapoli Development Company of Bridgeport obtained a subdivision of five lots off Florida Hill Road to be served by a short dead-end road. That was the year that the First Congregational Church was celebrating its 250th anniversary. With this in mind, First Selectman Leo F. Carroll decided that it would be fitting to name this new road Hawley Court, commemorating the first minister of the Congregational Church here, Thomas Hauley.
The church was pleased with the name and even wrote Mr. Carroll, praising him on the choice.
However, the subdivision was never fully developed and the road was never built. And it would be more than 15 years before another name came along to help keep Mr. Hauley's name alive (see Hauley Place).
Hawley Street was for a while applied to the western end of Branchville Road, where it connects with Main Street. The name, which appears on maps published as late as 1936, was derived from the fact that the Hawley family had lived on the northeast corner of this road and Main Street from 1713 until into the 20th Century.
When this road was built around 1830, it was called New Lane. By 1867 it was being labeled Railroad Avenue because it led from the village via the old Branchville road to the depot in Branchville (then called Ridgefield Station or Beers Station). Railroad Avenue probably fell out of use soon after 1870 when the branch railroad line was built to the village, ending at a station where Ridgefield Supply is now. Villagers no longer needed to drive all the way to Branchville to meet the train.
By 1900, a map of the village was calling the road Hawley Street, and S. L. Hawley was living in the Hawley homestead. By 1946, however, the official town zoning map was labeling it "Branchville Road."
It is interesting to note that around the turn of the century, six of the nine roads off Main Street were named for people who lived or owned property on their corners: DePeyster Street (now Rockwell Road), Hawley Street, Governor Street (for Governor Phineas C. Lounsbury), Bailey Avenue, Gilbert Street, and King Lane. (West Lane had been called that since the 18th Century; Prospect and Market Streets picked up their names in the mid-19th Century).
In 1978, when the original edition of Ridgefield Names was being written, it was observed at this point, "it is both odd and unfortunate that with three chances to have a locality named for Thomas Hauley and his long-established and important family, the name has struck out. Town officials should keep this in mind the next time they consider a new road name, particularly around southern Farmingville (Hauley's Ridge), which was inhabited by many members of the family over the years. A name recalling the Hawleys would be far superior to some of the inappropriate names that have been chosen for roads in that area."
Shortly thereafter, William R. Hornibrook named his new subdivision's road, Hauley Place, and "Hauley" was reborn in Ridgefield's geography.
Hawthorne Circle appears on some maps as a short, dead-end road off the eastern side of southern Poplar Road, part of Armando Salvestrini's Ridgefield Garden's development. It is a private road, designed to serve about four lots.
The name is probably incorrectly spelled and should be Hawthorn, the name of the native plant. All the modern roads in the vicinity - Poplar, Linden, Willow, Copper Beech - were named for plants because this territory was once part of the huge Outpost Nurseries.
HAWTHORNE HILL ROAD
Hawthorne Hill Road is a small road for which there were once bigger plans. It is also one of the few roads in town whose name is incorrect.
Now only a short drive off Ridgebury Road and partly serving as a route to Bridle Trail, Hawthorne Hill Road was once planned to extend westerly more than twice its present length to reconnect with Bridle Trail, which was planned to run on to Spring Valley Road. The entire subdivision was to have 64 lots, as shown on a map filed around 1957 by the Spring Valley Corporation.
At least part of the 98-acre former farm, owned by or under option to Richard Conley of the Connecticut Land Company at that time, was once considered as a site for the Ridgebury Elementary School. The location was rejected because of poor soils. And it was probably the quality of the soils and the steep slopes that discouraged further development of the subdivision, too.
Hawthorne Hill Road was named for the plant, of which there were many on the property. Thus, the spelling is incorrect and should be Hawthorn.
By coincidence, Hildegarde Hawthorne Oskison, a granddaughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne, lived for 12 years on East Ridge and later at The Elms Inn. She wrote biographies, including one about her grandfather, The Romantic Rebel. She died in 1952.
However, Richard Owen Carey, a subsequent owner of the Connecticut Land Company, said that the road was without question named for the plant, not the author. He did not know where the incorrect spelling came from.
The hawthorns, a group of thorny shrubs native to this area, are frequently found in fields that have been abandoned for farming. They were once used as hedges in England and, in fact, the "haw" of hawthorn is derived from the same word as hedge.
The incorrect spelling, Hawthorne, has appeared on maps of the town since 1960. The road became a town highway in 1961.
Hayes Lane is a dead-end road off Olmstead Lane, named for Clifford W. Hayes who filed the road and subdivision plan for seven one-acre lots in 1948. Subsequently, more lots were developed.
Most of the territory was swamp that Mr.. Hayes filled in. Earlier Mr. Hayes built for his home the place on Danbury Road, which later became the home of the late actor Cyril Ritchard, famous for his portrayals of Captain Hook in Peter Pan.
Mr. Hayes also operated a roadside eating place, called Poor Ole Cliff's, on Route 7 north of Route 35. When he left town in the 1950's, he took the name with him and opened another Poor Ole Cliff's on Marathon, one of the Florida Keys.
HEAD OF THE BOGS
In 1812, when members of the Seymour family transferred four acres to Sarah Seymour, they described it as being "at a place called the Head of the Boggs."
This locality was at the north end of what we today call Silver Spring Swamp and what was then called the New Pound Bogs, the long swamp east of Silver Spring Road and west of South Olmstead Lane and St. Johns Road.
The term "Head" is found in old geographical terms and descriptions, particularly along coastlines, for the part of a body of water that is opposite the water's outlet. The "Head of the Harbor" on Nantucket Island is the part of Nantucket Harbor farthest from the opening to the sea. In this case, the Head of the Bogs was at the opposite end of the swamp from the brook that today leaves the swamp where St. Johns Road crosses to Silver Spring Road.
The term appears only twice in the land records between 1709 and 1880. The other mention, also involving Seymour land, was in 1837.
HEART BRAND ESTATES
Heart Brand Estates is a subdivision off Route 7 including Ashbee Lane and Richardson Drive, developed around 1962 by Everett Lounsbury Jr.
The reason for the name has not been learned. Perhaps there was some fancied resemblance between the layout of the roads and a cattle brand.
HEIRS LANE, HIGHWAY, WAY
Heirs Lane, Heirs Highway, and Heirs Way are all names that appear very occasionally in the land records. For example, in 1869, Stephen L. Hoyt of Lewisboro sold Henry Mead, also of Lewisboro, 17 acres in Ridgefield, one of whose boundaries was "Heirs Highway."
Several maps of the town, including the Kaiser Handi-Book map of 1978, show this dead-end road as a driveway off the north side of Pumping Station Road near the New York state line. It leads to a couple of houses and a water tank owned by the Ridgefield Water Supply Company.
The name is interesting. My guess is that it originated in some old bequest. The will's author may have given to some heirs property reachable only via this strip of land. Thus, the route to the land of the person's heirs became locally known as Heirs Highway.
The name appears on maps as Lane, Highway, or Way. Despite its modest dimensions and use, Highway is probably the most accurate since it appears to be the original name.
Hemlock Hills off Ned's Mountain and Old Mill Roads consists of more than 350 acres that were transformed from a conservationist's nightmare to a conservationist's dream. It is one of the town's finest and wildest refuges or parks.
The name was chosen by the late Otto H. Lippolt, who acquired the land in many parcels, chiefly from tax sales during the Depression. He planned a Ridgefield Lakes-type of development for summer cottages there.
In 1946, when the town adopted zoning, this area was designated R-4, a district specifically set up for summer cottages on 2,500 square-foot lots. In theory, if the land were developed to its maximum density, more than 6,000 summer cottages could have been crammed into this forest. Mr. Lippolt who had done other Ridgebury subdivisions south of George Washington Highway, would not have developed the area at nearly that density, for he had, as a friend said in a tribute to him after his death, "the outdoorsman's love of the land."
Mr. Lippolt, a well-driller by profession, had gone far enough with his plans to install some roads and drainage culverts, and had built some year-round houses in the neighborhood. But he died in 1965 before the bulk of Hemlock Hills was developed.
Two years later, after much debate and negotiation with Mr. Lippolt's estate, the town under First Selectman Leo F. Carroll agreed to pay about $1,000 an acre for the 357 acres at Hemlock Hills and another 220 acres east of Pine Mountain Road (now called Pine Mountain Refuge). Mr. Carroll said at the time that it was the best land bargain the town would ever run across. Considering the fact that subdivided even under three-acre zoning, the 570 acres would be worth some $40,000,000 today, he certainly seems to have been correct!
However, more important, some of Ridgefield's wildest land has been permanently preserved as a haven for the many kinds of fauna and flora found there. Hemlock Hills, with its huge evergreens and its extensive deciduous forests, its swamps and even meadowland, is a home to almost every species of mammal, bird, reptile, wildflower and fern found in town. (Some species of wildflowers are abundant there, and perhaps nowhere else in town.)
Mr. Lippolt's roads now serve as paths for hikers (and as fire roads), and there are both formal and natural trails through portions of the property. Back in 1982, two students at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies did a 64-page "Natural Resource Inventory," with recommendations for managing the land.
In their 1982 report, the Yale forestry students observed that "today's forest is the direct result of the area's post-settlement land use history. Until the early 1900's numerous landowners held small lots in Hemlock Hills, each with a slightly different use-history of cutting and grazing. Thus the resulting matrix of secondary growth is a blended patchwork of early and mid-successional species. If left undisturbed by man and nature, the area will eventually return to a shady hemlock forest reminiscent of pre-colonial days."
Man has, for once, done his part in providing the protection.
Hemlock Hills was, of course, named for the trees, some of which reach more than 70 or 80 feet in height, especially near Ned's Mountain Road. Years ago the wood was not considered of much value, except for railroad ties (it holds spikes very well) and for the tannin in the bark. It is not suited for carpentry, nor is it good for fires because of its tendency to produce sparks.
Perhaps the fact that the hemlock - disdained by the early settlers - covered much of this area in the 18th Century led to the name of Bogus, which was applied to this neighborhood and suggests that it was not considered too valuable. The old 18th Century Bogus Road is the main dirt road running through Hemlock Hills from Ned's Mountain Road to Skytop Road.
A 1742 description of Timothy Benedict's land says it is "at the Hemlock Hole near Mount Robinson."
Mount Robinson is in present-day Danbury, but was part of Ridgefield before 1846. The mountain is just west of the Richter Park golf course off Aunt Hack's Ridge Road.
A "hole" was a low spot in the terrain.
Heritage Lane, a little dead-end road off Barrack Hill Road, is part of the large Eight Lakes development on West Mountain. It is one of those "pretty" names - like Settlers Lane, Patriots' Place, Kingswood Court, Sunset Lane - that really don't mean much, but sound nice to some people.
Hermit Lane is a short, dead-end road off the south side of Florida Hill Road, developed by Carl Lecher. It became a town road in October 1980.
The road was named for George Washington Gilbert, a Ridgefield native who lived like a hermit in the crumbling ruins of his family's 18th Century saltbox.
Mr. Gilbert was one of the town's characters of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Born in 1847 at the family homestead on Florida Hill Road, he was educated at a private boys school in the village. Little is known of how he spent his early adulthood, but for his last 40 years, he lived alone on Florida Hill Road.
"By his own account, he became a hermit following the death of the girl he planned to marry," said Silvio A. Bedini in his Ridgefield in Review.
Although he lived by himself and rarely visited the village - existing on a budget of about 30 cents a week, Mr. Gilbert was not without visitors. Hundreds of people, young and old, would call on him each year and "he related many strange tales and yarns which gained in detail and wonder with each narration," wrote George L. Rockwell in his History of Ridgefield.
He enjoyed posing tricky mathematical questions, such as "What is a third and a half of a third of 10?" and showing people the sword that his grandfather had supposedly captured from a Hessian soldier at the Battle of Monmouth during the Revolution. He also took people to his cellar where there was a stone in the chimney basement that bore a striking resemblance to the profile of Queen Victoria.
Usually barefoot, Mr. Gilbert invariably dressed in a cotton shirt, overalls hung by suspenders, and an old straw hat.
Mr. Gilbert's home literally fell apart around him and for a while, he had to move his bed onto the hearth of the old fireplace, the chimney being the only shelter left. Finally, Col. Edward M. Knox, whose huge estate was down the road, had a shack built for the hermit. It was there, on Jan. 6, 1924, during a bitter cold spell, that Mr. Gilbert froze to death.
He is buried at the New Florida Cemetery at Route 7 and Simpaug Turnpike under a stone that reads: "The Hermit of Ridgefield." His father, Jeremiah (d. 1860), and mother, Eliza (d. 1884), lie next to him.
Herrick Lane was an old name for a portion of an old road that ran west of and parallel to High Ridge Road - from Peaceable Street south. Today's Shadow Lane is the southern half of this road, which served as an access to the rear of the large High Ridge houses.
One of those houses - the second house from the corner of Peaceable Street - was owned by Gerard and Lois Herrick. Gerard Post Herrick (1873-1955) was a pioneer designer of helicopter-type aircraft, one of which used to be stored in a barn out back along Herrick Lane and which is now in a Philadelphia museum. Mrs. Herrick continued to live in the house until around 1980.
The northern end of Herrick Lane is now a driveway. The middle section, behind Altnacraig and the house just to its north, no longer exists.
The following is from Smithsonian Institution website (see also history notes):
Gerard Post Herrick (1873-1955) was a lawyer and engineer who is known as the inventor of the convertible aircraft. In 1911 Herrick, a graduate of Princeton (A.B.1895) and the New York Law School (L.L.B.1897), founded the Herrick Engine Co. to market his "balanced rotary engine" concept. During World War I, he served as a captain in the Army Air Service (1918-19). After the war, Herrick developed the concept of the convertible aircraft, which could operate both as a fixed-wing airplane and as a giroplane. In late 1930, Herrick engaged F. E. Seiler, ex-chief engineer of Kellett Aircraft Corp, to assist in the design of a full-scale Vertoplane, as Herrick called his invention. After delivering a number of drawings and reports to Herrick, Seiler began work at Heath Aircraft Co and, before his death in mid-1931, pedaled the convertible aircraft concept and the data from his work with Herrick to C. L. Stauffer, a promoter and Heath dealer. In the meantime, Ralph H. McClarren, who had met Herrick in the late 1920s at the Guggenheim School of Aeronautics and had been Seilerīs assistant at Kellett, left Kellett to join Heath, where he uncovered Seilerīs and Stauffer's activities.
By this time Herrick had established the Vertoplane Development Corp of New York to finance his aircraft. Herrick contracted with Heath for the actual construction of the craft, the design of which fell to McClarren. The first aircraft, the HV-1, was ready on November 6, 1931. The test pilot, Merrill Lambert, made several successful test flights in both fixed- and rotating-wing mode, but when he attempted an in-flight transition between the two, the aircraft fell out of control and crashed. Lambert bailed out of the aircraft, but was killed when his parachute failed to open.
Post-crash analysis found no fault with the basic convertible aircraft concept and Herrick continued development work with McClarren remaining as consulting engineer. The new aircraft, the HV-2, was flight tested beginning October 31, 1936 with George Townson as test pilot. Although the aircraft flew in both fixed- and rotating-wing mode, vibrations in the rotating wing delayed the first in-flight conversion until July 30, 1937.
Herrick continued to develop the convertible airplane concept with McClarren and others, including designs with both powered and unpowered rotors, as well as a variety of configurations and power plants. In the immediate post-World War II years, he changed the company name to Convertoplane Corp and unsuccessfully lobbied financial interests and the government for support. He remained the president of Covertoplane and stayed active in the development process until his death in 1955.
In Hessian Drive, we have a name that commemorates a disputed piece of Ridgefield history.
Developed in 1959 by James B. Franks to serve eight lots at his "Buffalo Creek Acres" subdivision off North Salem Road, Hessian Drive recalls the German troops who were said to have aided the British when Tryon's troops came through Ridgefield in April 1777 and fought the colonials in the Battle of Ridgefield.
According to George L. Rockwell, the skeletons of two men, believed to be Hessian soldiers, were uncovered in sand being excavated in 1874 on property across North Salem Road from Hessian Drive.
Mr. Rockwell reported, "the bodies had been interred at a depth of four feet and the skeletons were lying near each other, side by side. Dr. A. Y. Paddock, for whom the sand was being drawn, took possession of the skeletons. One was almost perfect and Dr. Paddock exhibited it at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. He was offered $200 for the skeleton, which offer was refused."
After Dr. Archibald Paddock's death in 1889, his house was being moved when the skeleton was found in - of all places - a sealed closet. Its whereabouts today is unknown.
There has been some disagreement over whether Hessians actually participated in the Battle of Ridgefield. Tradition had always said so, and an 1888 history reported so. A list of injured soldiers on the British side included one "Ensign Menichin," which Mr. Rockwell took to be a German-sounding name.
However, Silvio A. Bedini said in his Ridgefield in Review, "the presence of Hessians during (the) raid has been subject of considerable debate among local historians....The major source for the belief that Hessians fought at Ridgefield was the discovery of the bodies of two Hessian soldiers...
"Modern historians are inclined to the belief that Hessian soldiers did not form part of the British forces that took part in the burning of Danbury or the Battle of Ridgefield." Based on a comprehensive study of war records, several historians believe that it is a case of mistaken identity - that observers back in 1777 mistook the unusually tall hat of the British grenadier and the grenadier plates for those of Hessians. Grenadier uniforms of the period copied those of Hessians.
No matter whose the skeletons were, they held up Hessians as far as the developer of the road was concerned.
Hessian Drive became a town road in 1962.
An undated map in the town clerk's office shows a subdivision north of the Gilbert Street and Ramapoo Road intersection, served by a road called Hibbart Place.
Joseph W. Hibbart, who owned the land there from the 1880's into the first quarter of this century, was a local merchant. Among his enterprises was the Round Lake Ice Company, which cut and delivered ice from Round Pond on West Mountain, as well as from Upper Pond, New Pond, and from Hurlbutt's Pond, no longer extant, in the vicinity of Rowland Lane off East Ridge.
The late Francis D. Martin recalled Hibbart's Market, which sold meat, fish, fruit and, of course, ice in a store now occupied by Cappielo's Jewelry Store on Main Street.
For some reason, the road and subdivision were never built.
In 1959, Otto Lippolt, the Ridgebury well-driller who over the years collected hundreds of acres, filed a map for a 72-lot subdivision on about 90 acres bordering Ridgebury Road and George Washington Highway (surrounding the Ridgebury Congregational Church's Shield's Hall property).
Among the several roads for this subdivision was Hickory Drive.
The subdivision, called Ridgebury Acres, was never developed as planned, although one of its proposed roads - Old Trolley Road - has had a few houses built along it. The land was eventually zoned for light industry and was long owned by the now-defunct New England Institute for Medical Research. The current owner, Peter Friedman, has been entangled with the town in battles over how it should be zoned, and the latest plan calls for residential use - what Mr. Lippolt had envisioned 30 years ago.
Hickory Lane, a short dead-end road off the east side of Florida Road, serves seven one-acre lots, according to the plan field in 1958 by Kustaa Havunoja of Redding. The road was accepted as a town highway by a 1962 Town Meeting.
Although the road goes up the side of a hill called Cedar Mountain since settlement times, Hickory Lane commemorates another kind of common native tree.
Several species of hickory, including the pecan, shagbark, pignut and black, are native to this area. All have been valued for their strength, and the hickories have been used for many years for tool handles, chair backs, and other purposes requiring a strong wood. It is also an excellent fireplace wood, and was a valuable source of charcoal. The nuts, of course, are popular with both humans and wildlife.
Hidden Lake is a modern and incorrect name for Turtle Pond (q.v.), the small man-made body of water on the southwest side of Old Sib Road. It picked up the new name when Eight Lakes Estates was developed in the early 1950's and the subdividers decided "Hidden Lake" was more alluring a name than Turtle Pond - alluring, presumably, to homebuyers, that is.
Although Old Sib Road runs right along its shore, Turtle Pond is to a degree "hidden" by steep embankments around much of its perimeter.
HIDDEN LAKE COURT
A short dead-end lane off Old Sib Road, Hidden Lake Court was originally (1952) planned to connect with Barrack Hill Road to the south. However, such a route would rise from 650 feet above sea level to more than 900 feet in a short distance of about 1,000 feet. The terrain was simply too steep, so a 1953 map filed for Eight Lakes Estates proposed a road only about 250 feet long.
The road, at the southeast end of Hidden Lake, is more hidden than the lake.
Highcliff Terrace, running off Bennett's Farm Road just south of Bates' Farm Road, is one of the many small private roads at the Ridgefield Lakes. There's a steep embankment just to the south.
Highland Acres is the original subdivision name for Jerry Tuccio's Eleven Levels development off West Mountain and Old West Mountain Roads, now generally called West Mountain Estates.
The land is high.
HIGH MEADOWS ROAD
A subdivision plan was filed with the town clerk in 1959 by John and Louise Meyers for nine lots on 12 acres off Regan Road. It was served by High Meadows Road, a name descriptive of the terrain. For some reason, the subdivision and the road were never developed.
HIGH PASTURE COURT
High Pasture Court, off North Salem Road, is a subdivision of the old Hubbell and later Sidney D. Farrar farm.
Farrar, a professional baseball player in the 1880's and father of the late Metropolitan Opera star Geraldine Farrar, owned the farm from 1923 until his death in 1935 (see Farrar Lane).
The 30-acre farm was subsequently owned by the late Mrs. Mary L. Olcott, who called the place High Pastures, a name less personal and less entertaining than "Farrar's Thirty Acres," which its previous owner had used.
James Hackert, a Ridgefield real estate agent, retained the name when he subdivided the property into 17 lots in 1965.
Simple, like so many of the early New England place names, High Ridge is just what its name says, and was so called from the earliest settlement of the town.
The Indians, according to the Rev. S. G. Goodrich (1800), called the place Candoto ((q.v.), which one authority translates as "the top of the hill" or "highest place." Among the ridges of Ridgefield, it is one of the highest and is certainly the loftiest locality in or near the center of town.
The U.S. Geological survey measures the top of the ridge at 860 feet above sea level (at about where 55 High Ridge is situated). Round Pond up on West Mountain is only 778 feet (but at its highest point near Camp Catoonah at the end of Oreneca Road, West Mountain reaches 1,000 feet). Main Street at the town hall is about 735 feet and East Ridge at its highest points (at the old high school and at the Ridgefield Skating Center) is only 750 feet.
High Ridge's elevation was hard to ignore, and the earliest map of the village area, drawn by John Copp in 1710 to show plowland lots, locates "ye High Ridge." Candoto never appears in the early land records - we must take Minister Goodrich's word for the word's existence - but High Ridge frequently does. For example, when Joseph Hobart sold James Benedict land in 1724, he called it "my High Ridge lott."
In the late 1700's and in the early 1800's, the name sometimes appears in deeds as one word, "Highridge."
A Different Ridge
High Ridge in the 18th Century was much different from what we see today as we drive along High Ridge Road (from King Lane to West Lane). Copp and the proprietors chose this area as prime planting land - high, dry, open to a full day of sunlight, and very close to the village homes. The forest there was probably felled almost immediately after the settlers came and planting of the soil commenced right away.
It is believed that no houses were built there until Mr. Goodrich erected his around 1794 near the southern end, at the head of Parley Lane. Being ideally farmland but also very open to the harsh northwestern winds of winter, High Ridge was avoided as a site for homes; the Main Street "valley" to the east, between High Ridge and East Ridge, was more protected and suitable for houses.
The minister's son, Samuel G. Goodrich (who wrote more than 100 books under the name of Peter Parley), was very much taken by High Ridge, his childhood home. When he visited the town in 1855, more than 40 years after leaving, it was one of the first places he went to.
The View in 1855
"We went thither, soon finding ourselves in the old Keeler lot on the top of High Ridge, so familiar to our youthful rambles," he wrote to his brother, Charles, at the time. "With all the vividness of my early recollections, I really had no adequate idea of the beauty of the scene, as now presented to us. The circle of view was indeed less than I had imagined, for I once thought it immense; but the objects were more striking, more vividly tinted, more picturesquely disposed.
"Long Island Sound, which extends for 60 miles before the eye, except as it is hidden here and there by intercepting hills and trees, seems nearer than it did to the inexperienced vision of my childhood. I could distinguish the different kinds of vessels on the water, and the island itself - stretched out in a long blue line beyond - presents its cloud-like tissues of forest, alternating with patches of yellow sandbanks along the shore.
"I could distinctly indicate the site of Norwalk; and the spires peering through the mass of trees to the eastward, spoke suggestive of the beautiful towns and villages that line the northern banks of the Sound.
"West Mountain seemed nearer and less imposing than I had imagined, but the seas of mountains beyond, terminating in the Highlands of the Hudson, more than fulfilled my remembrances. The scene has no abrupt and startling grandeur from this point of view, but in that kind of beauty which consists in blending the peace and quietude of cultivated valleys with the sublimity of the mountains - all in the enchantment of distance, and all mantled with the vivid hues of summer - it equals the fairest scenes in Italy...
"As I gazed upon this lovely scene, how did the memories of early days come back clothed in the romance of childhood... Indeed, all my first measures of grandeur and beauty, in nature, were formed upon these glorious models now before me. How often have I stood upon this mound, at the approach of sunset, and gazed in speechless wonder upon yonder mountains, glowing as they were in the flood of sapphire which was then poured upon them...No sunsets surpass our own in splendor..."
The Ridge in 1878
The Rev. Daniel W. Teller gave the following description of High Ridge in his History of Ridgefield (1878):
"J. Howard King Esq. of Albany has ... remodeled and greatly improved his summer home ... He has also purchased the property on High Ridge and is greatly improving it. The street has been widened and adorned with young shade trees, in the same manner as Prospect Avenue, rustic gateways put up, and a pleasant observatory erected on the very top of the hill.
"There are many fine views in town, but none which equal(s) in every particular the view to be obtained from the summit of this delightful ridge. On a clear bright morning, or just at evening, one may sit here and feast his eye upon almost all that is beautiful in nature; the deep blue waters of the Sound, reflecting the slanting rays of sunlight; the clear white thread of sand which marks the shore of Long Island; the purple haze of the still more remote parts of the island, which gradually lose themselves in the boundaries of vision; the gently receding fields, which seem imperceptibly to dip down to the very surface of the waters, dotted here and there with farm-houses and church-spires, and last but not least, the broken and uneven upland, which reminds one of the 'hill country of Judea,' leading away the eye towards the sun rising."
It was during Teller's term as 10th minister of the First Congregational Church (also the church of Goodrich, its third minister) that High Ridge began to take on a new life. Farmland for more than six generations, it was now becoming an attractive location for the summer homes of wealthy New Yorkers. It had the wonderful view noted by Goodrich and Teller, was close to the village, and, well, who cared in summer about winter's icy blasts?
A half-dozen sizable mansions were erected, the best of them being on the west side facing the view that extended for miles across rolling hills and placid lakes to the cliffs of the Hudson River Valley. To the east, one could see West Rock in New Haven; but to the rich, sunsets were preferable to sunrises as views.
The Trees Come
Of course, this was before all the trees, which now obscure most of these highly praised panoramas, had grown up. Many people today forget that we now have many more trees in town than existed a hundred years ago. Trees and farming did not mix well, and most of the land in agrarian Ridgefield had been cleared by 1800 and was under cultivation. Thus, those views were not only unfettered, but tended to be more of patchworks of fields than of today's woodlands.
High Ridge has had other names, mostly short-lived. The late Francis D. Martin recalled that when he was a child around the turn of the 20th Century, the high was called West Ridge, a logical complement to East Ridge on the other side of Main Street.
It was also called King's Ridge (q.v.), for J. Howard King, who, as Teller noted, began the development there for residences. And since many of the houses were subsequently owned by people in the book publishing world, it was also informally called Publisher's Row (q.v.).
HIGH RIDGE ROAD
High Ridge Road - often called just High Ridge today - dates back to the 18th Century and served chiefly as an access to the farming lots along the ridge. On High Ridge itself (from King Lane to West Lane), it borders the back (west) property lines of the original Main Street homelots, laid out in 1708.
The name, "High Ridge Road," first appears on the land records in 1833. Pre-1875 deed references always say "road," never "avenue" as several modern, popular maps call it, and the original term should be retained today.
If road and avenue are not enough, Beers' atlas of 1867 called it High Ridge Street.
The late Karl S. Nash of Main Street recalled that early in this century, High Ridge Road applied only to the section of the road from Catoonah Street south to West Lane. From Catoonah Street north to Gilbert Street was called Maple Avenue, for the trees along it.
Today, the entire distance from Gilbert Street to West Lane is considered High Ridge Road, although High Ridge itself is only along the southern section of the road, from King Lane to Peaceable Street southward.
The south end of High Ridge Road may have originally included today's Parley Lane. The "short cut" from the top of Parley Lane to West Lane, passing by Shadow Lane, apparently was not used until the 1800s.
The town bought the right to what appears to be the south end of High Ridge Road in 1851; however, the deed notes that the path had been used for "a number of years" as a public road under a lease acquired for that purpose from the Rev. Samuel M. Phelps of the Congregational church.
The Parley Lane route is in some ways preferable to the new route. It is less steep, a benefit in slippery winter weather, and it does not have the dangerous curve-plus-blind-intersection (at Shadow lane) of the newer road.
An 1875 deed speaks of land on the "east side of High Road, so called," land that was clearly on what we today call High Ridge.
An 1868 mortgage on the same land refers to "High Ridge Road" so it is likely that the "High Road" is only a transcription error.
HIGH VALLEY & ROAD
High Valley, off the north side of Florida Hill Road, is a subdivision of 23 two-acre lots, obtained in 1969 by Giles and Barry Montgomery, the father and son developers of Twin Ridge. It consists of 51.6 acres.
The land was part of the large estate of Col. Edward M. Knox, a hat manufacturer and Civil War hero, whose mammoth house had 45 rooms. Colonel Knox was wounded at Gettysburg, for which he received a Gold Medal from Congress.
The property is rich in history. The grounds and an old house that stood on the estate once belonged to Hezekiah Hawley, a Revolutionary War hero, whose son, Ebenezer, fought in the War of 1812 and was a prominent figure in early 19th Century Ridgefield. Later George Washington Gilbert, the "hermit of Ridgefield," lived at the edge of the grounds see Hermit Lane).
The house at Downesbury Manor, as the 300 acre estate was called but sometimes spelled Dounsbury, was built sometime around the turn of the century by Henry DeB. Schenck, who lived there only a few years. Schenck raised angora goats there and sold the wool. After Colonel Knox bought the place, he made many improvements, including an indoor riding ring, miles of bridle paths, elaborate gardens, and a five-story high water tower. Vestiges of the garden, fountain, and pool were still visible in the woods in the 1960's.
"His stable was one of the best in town and his kindness and geniality are often recalled," wrote Harvey H. Keeler of Ridgefield in a 1938 edition of The Bridgeport Sunday Post. "He was a close friend of Mark Twain who occasionally drove (or rode the train) from his home in Redding for a visit. In the spacious living room these two men passed many hours, chatting before the open fireplace which is flanked with rare and beautiful tiles bought by Colonel Knox from the Spanish Alhambra on one of his European trips."
The colonel died in 1925. Subsequent owners included Pierre Cartier, the jeweler, who bought the place from the Knox estate and lived there summers for a short while. Also for a short time, the Holy Ghost Fathers used the estate; they also occupied the former school office building on Prospect Ridge as a novitiate until around 1970.
About 1928, Dr. Clyde Kennedy Miller bought the estate and used it as a summer hotel. Then, around 10 years later, an all-year sports club began operation there, but did not last long. In 1942 there were plans to convert Downesbury Manor into a Western-style dude ranch, but the war probably scratched them.
Nothing tried at the manor was successful, and the castle-like house was torn down in the first week of August 1953.
Highview Drive, off Knollwood Drive, is part of the large Ridgefield Knolls development, built in the late 1950's and early 1960's on Ridgefield or Asproom Mountain.
According to the developer's surveyor, the late Edgar P. Bickford of Danbury, the road was named simply for its view which includes Lake Windwing and Ned's Mountain to the north. Its elevation ranges from 680 to 720 feet above sea level.
More than a mile away from Highview Drive is Highview Road, one of the private lanes at the Ridgefield Lakes. It runs from Great Hill Road to Lakeview Drive.
If the town government ever sets about ridding Ridgefield of confusing names, one of the Highviews must go. The similarity of the two names can lead to dangerous mistakes - fire engines or ambulances might rush to an emergency on Highview Drive and wind up on Highview Road.
Incidentally, Highview Drive beats out Highview Road in the height of its views. The latter is 590 to 650 feet above sea level.
Hillcrest Court is a short dead-end lane off upper Barrack Hill Road, part of the Eight Lakes development. As the name suggests, it is at the crest of a hill, some 920 feet above sea level.
It's not surprising that in a town as high and hilly as Ridgefield that we would see roads named with "hill." What may be a little surprising is how few of them there are - just this and the one that follows.
Traversing a hill and a dale, Hillsdale Avenue is part of an old subdivision of a hayfield along lower Danbury Road at Island Hill.
Conrad Rocklein, a German barber whose shop was on Main Street above Roma Pizzeria (and later at his home on Mountain View Avenue), filed the original subdivision plan for this neighborhood in 1910. It included about 30 lots, 75 by 250 feet in size, on 19.4 acres. No street names were shown on the map.
A new plan was filed in 1927, called Mountain View Park. On this map, the road is labeled "Hillsdale Street." A map published for the town in 1958 also uses that name, but modern maps as well as telephone book addresses use "Avenue." The switch probably occurred because the two other roads in the neighborhood, Mountain View and Island Hill, are both Avenues.
Hobby Drive, which has nothing to do with leisure-time activities, was named for Jackson Hobby, who farmed the land there around the turn of the century.
Part of a subdivision by a corporation called Scotland Knolls, the road off North Salem Road was created around 1955 and serves about 23 lots.
Jackson Hobby came here from Danbury in 1886, buying 60 acres that included the old Town Farm, a place where indigent people were put to work to help support their welfare costs. (Hobby did not buy the Town Farm building itself on North Salem Road, where the workers had lived.)
Mr. Hobby sold the place, "known as the Town Farm," to Seth Low Pierrepont in 1914. Mr. Pierrepont was a wealthy man who collected so much land for his estate that he maintained his own private "police" force to watch over it.
Mr. Hobby's house was situated on Sherwood Road near Ledges Road.
An interesting neighborhood name with a rather limited life and use, "Hogholler" appears in only one deed.
In 1749, Thomas Smith sold Gideon Smith 2.5 acres "on Asproom Mountain near Ebenezer Smith's hogholler, so called."
The word is probably a variation of "hogwallow," which is a "hollow or ditch in which pigs wallow." However, the Oxford England Dictionary also notes a specifically American use of the term to refer to "a natural depression having this appearance."
Exactly where it was located is hard to say, but the Hogholler was probably at either Ridgefield Knolls or Twixt Hills, both modern subdivisions on Asproom or Ridgebury Mountain.
Curiously enough, a 1746 deed refers to 11 acres "lying...under Asproom near Wallis's Hoghole so called." The deed was from Ebenezer, Daniel and Job Smith to Gideon Smith.
Whether the two references were to the same locality is not known.
Pre-1840 deeds occasionally refer to land in Ridgebury at "the Hollow." For example, in 1821, the estate of David Meeker sold Daniel Sanford land "in the Hollow at Ridgebury."
The term, first mentioned in 1821, was a shortened form of Ridgebury Hollow, first noted in 1794 and probably applying to a valley in what is now western Danbury (but then northern Ridgefield) near Mill Plain see Ridgebury Hollow).
Although this history has not attempted to cover in detail the hundreds of different lot names that were in use on Ridgefield's farms over the first two centuries of the town's history, the "Holloway Lott" is an interesting example of how the brief ownership of land can, however accidentally, preserve an owner's name for many years.
In 1737, one George Halloway came to town from Danbury and purchased six acres "at Toilsome," a hilly area on the west side of North Salem Road around Continental Drive and Barrack Hill Road. Later, he also bought land along Danbury Road where he may have settled. Only two years after buying it, he sold the six acres. By 1740, he had disposed of all his holdings and moved to the newly opened wilderness at Cornwall.
In 1787, almost a half century after Halloway had sold his Toilsome land, John Lawrence, the state treasurer, sold Allen Hays a portion of the confiscated property of Jeremiah Smith, whom he called "an absentee." (Smith was probably a Tory who fled the town during the Revolution.) In his description of the land, Lawrence said it was "well-known as the Holloway Lott" and added that it was about a mile north of the Meeting House in the village.
The family of Allen Hayes, who died in Canaan, sold "the Holloway Lott" in 1792, still using the term recalling a man who left town more than 50 years earlier and who had owned the land for only two years.
Holmes Road at Westmoreland, a name once used to identify a different road, recalls the Holmes family who owned farmland here from the 1860's into the early part of this century.
The road was named for the farm of the brothers Irving and Orville Holmes, whose farmhouse on Barry Avenue is now the home of Fred P. Montanari, former selectman. Orville Holmes was the first selectman of Ridgefield for three one-year terms from 1916 to 1918.
The late Francis D. Martin recalled that around 1910 to 1915, the Holmes brothers were paying youngsters 10 cents a day to weed onions in their fields in this neighborhood.
Today's Holmes Road was originally called Lincoln Road, for the original subdivider of Westmoreland, the Lincoln Development Corporation of Lincoln, Mass. The name was changed in 1966 for fear it would be confused with Lincoln Lane off Branchville Road.
Before 1966, today's Remington Road was called Holmes Road.
Holmes Road was accepted as a town highway in 1969.
Sounding more like a cutesy name in a modern subdivision, Honey Hollow is actually an antique. It first appears in a deed for a sale of land that occurred in 1846, just before northern Ridgefield was ceded to Danbury. The name was probably applied to a locality near the junction of modern-day Aunt Hack Hill Road and Middle River Road. How long the name stuck is not known.
This and the following name may have stemmed from the fact that the spot was well-known for its wild bee hives and the sweets contained within them. Honey Hill in Wilton was so called from 1706 because of the abundance of wild bees in its woods. (Honey Grove, Texas, was named in 1836 by Davie Crockett because he found wild honey in a tree there.)
Although honey was a treat much appreciated by the early settlers and the word made for pretty sounding place names, few of the 169 towns in Connecticut have old place names employing the word honey. According to Connecticut Place Names, only eight towns have honey places. Honey Hill is the most popular (four towns), but there are place places like Honeypot Brook and Glen, and a place simply called "Honey Spot."
This attractive name was, like the above, in western Danbury, probably near Mill Plain in the vicinity of the intersection of Route 6 and Old Ridgebury Road. At the only time Honey Woods was cited in a deed - in 1830 - this area was part of Ridgefield.
It is odd - and unfortunate - that both of these fine old names were in the wrong place to have livened up our own modern geography. It is all the more odd that olden Ridgefield had two "Honey" localities when about 90% of the towns in the state apparently had none. Dick Venus, never one to miss a chance to praise his native town, might say it is because Ridgefield's such a sweet place.
HOP MEADOW BRANCH
Although the Hop Meadow Branch - and the Hop Meadow itself - were more famous in Wilton, the stream so called is one that originates in this town and the name was picked up and used by Ridgefielders.
The Hop Meadow Branch appears to be the brook that runs east of and parallel to lower Wilton Road East in Ridgefield. Once into Wilton it turns westward and crosses into Lewisboro, N.Y. Today, this is often called the east branch of the Silvermine River (q.v.)
It was an important brook to the early settlers, for a tree somewhere on its bank in Wilton officially marked a point three quarters of a mile north of which was the boundary line between Ridgefield and the Wilton parish of Norwalk. The brook and the tree were mentioned in 1710 when the boundary was set up, and in 1716 when it was checked.
The Hop Meadow was a well-known locality in Wilton and was near the northwest corner of the town above Bald Hill. David H. Van Hoosear, a Wilton historian, called it "a large low tract of land ... a short distance north of the Methodist Church," which formerly stood on the west side of Ridgefield Road (Route 33), a little south of Ruscoe Road. The name appears frequently in the Norwalk land records when Wilton was a parish of that town.
However, the brook is also mentioned in Ridgefield transactions, such as in 1732 when the proprietors deeded Daniel Olmsted 11 acres "lying southeasterly of his Six Acre Division, west of ye Hopp Meadow Branch."
Its approximate location in Ridgefield is described in a pre-1750 deed in which the proprietors grant Samuel Olmsted 1 1/2 acres "lying southerly at ye road yt leads to ye Spectacles and east of ye Hop Meadow Branch." (The road to the Spectacles in this case was probably Wilton Road East; the Spectacles were a pair of ponds in Wilton - see Spectacle Lane).
The name fell out of use as a locality reference in deeds after the middle of the 18th Century. However, Mrs. Charles Russell of Wilton Road East told us in the 1970's that the brook which crossed her property, on which she had lived for 40 years, was called the "Hops Meadow Brook." This is near the headwaters of the watercourse identified above. A deed in 1770 seems to identify Mrs. Russell's stream as the Beaver Brook, but brook names tend to change as fast as the property owners along their banks.
Hops, plants that are members of the mulberry family, are found both cultivated and wild, and have been used for brewing beer and for feeding livestock. Because Hop Meadow appears so early - 1710 was only nine years after northern Norwalk was settled - the hops in the meadow were probably wild, though they could have been someone's cultivated field. The Hop Brook in Bridgewater was "so called from the enormous quantity of wild hops found growing on its banks," according to a history of that town.
Hopper's Pond is at the north side of the junction of Old South Salem and South Salem Roads, and was created in the 1920's by Reginald M. Lewis by damming up one of the tiny tributaries of the Stamford Mill River. Although Mr. Lewis wanted it as a duck pond for his farm, it also served as an important source of ice for Ridgefielders in the pre-refrigerator days.
Mr. Lewis, son of the wealthy F. E. Lewis (whose large, beautiful mansion was situated a little eastward where Ridgefield Manor Estates is now), bought the farm where the pond is as a hobby. He hired Richard Hopper as superintendent and Mr. Hopper, who lived nearby, gave his name to the pond.
This small body of water has also been called Scripps Pond and Lacha Linne (q.v.).
HORSE POUND and SWAMP
From the earliest settlement of the town throughout the 18th Century, the Horse Pound was a well-known locality that was cited in many deeds. Today, its location is uncertain and the fact of its existence is so little known that none of the town's several histories has even mentioned it.
Pounds were common in town throughout the 18th Century and into the 19th. Usually consisting of stone walls, they were like corrals and were used to hold animals that had strayed from farms and had been captured by town wardens or farmers.
However, no other pound in the many records of old Ridgefield seemed specifically designed for one kind of animal. The fact that this was described as a "horse" pound was unusual.
Several of the many deeds that mention the Horse Pound, either directly or indirectly, give a pretty good location of the neighborhood in which it was situated.
The existence of the pound was first mentioned in 1717, only a few years after settlement began, when the proprietors deeded several people one-acre parcels "Lying all together on ye hill on ye east side of Horse Pound Swamp, bounded north by Bedford Rhoad and all other ways by common land."
Bedford Road was, in this case, today's Old South Salem Road (the latter in the 1700's was the original South Salem Road as it left town). A 1718 deed mentions land "south of Bedford Road, on ye brook yt runs out of ye Horse Pound Swamp." This may have been one of the branches of the Stamford Mill River, which crosses the two South Salem Roads near the New York State line.
A 1729 deed refers to land "by ye Horse Pound on West Mountain." West Mountain extends south to New York State line at South Salem Road. This closeness to the state line is confirmed by 1750 and 1759 deeds which mention land at "ye Horse Pound near ye Oblong." The Oblong was the strip of land along the state line that was ceded to New York in 1731.
Subsequent deeds continue to place the pound north of Bedford Rhoad, near the state line, and either on "a hill" or on West Mountain.
The last mention of the place, by then called "the old horse pound," occurred in a 1796 deed. (A 1793 deed says "Horse Pond," but this is probably a transcription error.) Apparently, the pound had fallen out of use by the latter part of the century.
The various citations seem to place the pound west of lower Peaceable Street, perhaps near Pinchbeck's Nursery. This seems an unusual place for the community's only horse pound, it being near the western edge and the southern half of the town. However, this could have been an area where horses were bred and raised, and where they were most apt to escape from their owners' properties. Or, it may have been that the pound was used to hold horses from all over town that were sent to this area to graze on common land. Common, or town-owned, property existed in the vicinity of the pound until at least the 1790's, by which time most of the common land elsewhere in town had been sold off. (The town had a common sheep pasture in the early years of its settlement.)
Or, the existence of the pound in this part of town could simply have meant that it was the first area of the community to be heavily settled. What was probably the second animal pound, erected by 1716, was in this same quadrant of the town (at the intersection of Silver Spring and St. Johns Road). The first pound in town was in the village green on Main Street.
The Horse Pound Swamp, mentioned in many deeds, was probably the wetland on both sides of lower Peaceable Street, west of Mead Ridge.
Occasionally in early Ridgefield records, there appear references to How's Limekiln. An example is a 1793 deed in which Stephen Smith gives his son George five acres "lying near How's Limekiln."
This kiln, owned at that time by Epenetus How(e), was situated near the intersection of Ramapoo Hill Road, Barry Avenue and West Mountain Road. The kiln, probably the town's first, is discussed under "Limekiln Hill."
Huckleberry Hill, mentioned once in the pre-1880 land records, is possibly the 817-foot-high hill just west of Bridle Trail and between Spring Valley and Ridgebury Roads.
The name was mentioned in an 1810 deed from Elias and Eunice Smith to Benjamin Barberry for "one piece of rough and unenclosed woodland, lying on and adjoining Huckleberry Hill so called."
It is one of several localities named in the 18th or 19th Centuries for the native fruits - Cranberry Meadow and Whortleberry Hill, for examples. Huckleberries, edible members of the Heath family, are common shrubs bearing dark blue to black berries.
Huckleberry Lane is a short dead-end road off Wilton Road East, subdivided around 1960 from the late Margaret Starr Jessup's property which fronts on Main Street. The road was accepted by the town in 1961. Oldtimers report that the area was a popular berry-picking spot.
Hulda Lane, which runs between Danbury and Haviland Roads, was named for Hulda Ritch, mother of Harold A. Ritch, who subdivided the family homestead see Ritch Drive) around 1954.
Mrs. Ritch and her husband, Charles, had purchased the former Haviland farm there around 1920 and had lived on it for many years. She died in 1944.
Hull Place, a dead-end road built around 1977 off Ivy Hill Road, was a name selected by Carl Lecher, the subdivider, to honor Harry E. Hull, a former first selectman.
Mr. Lecher had purchased and subdivided a piece of Mr. Hull's homestead off Danbury Road around 1975. He wanted to name the little accessway leading to the three houses after Mr. Hull. However, the Planning and Zoning Commission would not allow the naming of a private accessway - only public roads are supposed to have official names that can be considered as mailing addresses.
When Mr. Lecher proposed Hull Place for a subsequent subdivision of about 10 lots in the fall of 1976, the commission had a debate over whether there was any precedent for naming a road after a living person. Commissioners were unaware that not only was Harvey D. Tanton alive when River Road was changed to Tanton Hill Road, Mr. Tanton himself seconded the motion on the Board of Selectmen to change the name to honor him. Mr. Tanton was a former first selectman.
Woodcock Lane is said to honor former First Selectman J. Mortimer Woodcock, and there are many other examples of roads named for people while they were alive.
Mr. Hull, who died in 1986 at the age of 88, was a painting contractor by trade and served four two-year terms as first selectman from 1947 to 1957 (interrupted by one term of Mr. Tanton as chief executive). That was quite a feat for a Democrat in a strongly Republican town. Only one person since has managed to duplicate it - Louis J. Fossi, first selectman from 1973 to 1981.
A Ridgefield native, Mr. Hull served in World War I, during which he saw much action in France at such places as Marie Louise Sector, the Paris-Metz road, Vaux, Chateau Thierry, and the St. Mihiel front.
Over the years, Mr. Hull had been a member of almost every board and commission in town. To newer residents of town, he was best known as the grand marshal of the Memorial Day Parade, a post he held over a half century.
In a 1975 testimonial for Mr. Hull, Norman Myrick said: "He stands tall among us as the essence of an ideal that finds it full expression in the proud and noble title, Citizen of the Republic."
Mr. Hull's wife, the former Elsie Rux, whom he met when she moved to Ridgefield at the age of four, died in 1977.
Titicus Mountain, the range along the west side of North Salem Road near the New York State line, is sometimes called Hunt Mountain because members of the Hunt family were living on or near its slopes from around the year 1800 well into the 20th Century.
It was on the side of this mountain just across the line in New York State that an Eastern Airlines jet crashed and burned in 1963 with the loss of only four lives.
Hunt Mountain is more properly applied to this mountain on the New York side of the state line in North Salem, where the name is well established. In Ridgefield, Titicus Mountain is more suitable.
Although plenty of hunting goes on in adjacent Great Swamp, Hunter Heights has nothing to do with blasting away animals. A subdivision of about 65 acres of farmland off Blackman Road, Hunter Heights and its two roads were named for the Hunter family, which owned the property for 28 years.
The subdivision, sought by Lewis J. Finch and approved in 1968, consists of 25 one-acre lots plus nearly 30 acres of open space in Great Swamp.
Back in the 18th Century, this land was probably owned by the Hawley family, descendants of the town's first minister, Thomas Hauley. Around 1805, John Blackman of Fairfield moved to the area and his family owned the land well into the 20th Century.
In 1925, Eva M. Schork (nee Blackman) sold 45 acres and an old Blackman farmhouse to F. Heyward and Martha Hunter of Pelham Manor, N.Y. The Hunters were to use the place as a summer home until 1948, calling it Lacy Green because of the way "the trees met over the lane (Blackman Road) 'like green lace' as my mother used to say," reported Russell Hunter of Los Angeles, who spent his summers as a child at Lacy Green.
"The name was also taken from my grandmother's place in England," Mr. Hunter said. His grandmother had come to the states in 1889, five years after her husband, to run a ranch in Chadron, Nebr. His mother was born there in 1890, during the last of the Indian Wars.
Both his grandmother, who died in 1932 and grandfather, who died in 1936, are buried in a little cemetery at Hunter Heights on what is, in 1989, the Marthaler property. "The stone wall surrounding it was built with (grandfather's) hands and the periwinkle which grows over it was also planted by him," Russell Hunter said.
F. Heywood Hunter, Russell's father, was a teacher in New York City. "Those were the days," recalled Russell, "when one could have an apartment in town, a house in Ridgefield, a car, a maid, and send me to private school on $5,000 a year. Less, actually. I think that he never saw more than $4,400 in any one year." His father paid only $5,000 for the place (which sold in 1948 for $35,000; today, 25 one-acre lots would be worth at least $5-million!).
"When we bought it, it had no water, no electricity, no gas, and no telephone," Mr. Hunter said. "And only a small lawn in front of the house. What is now Blackman Road was - I think - unnamed and was a country dirt lane with tracks where the automobile tires ran on either side of a grass strip down the middle."
The house and property were much improved over the years, but the family still used kerosene lamps and had no telephones until well into the 1940's, "principally because either the electric or the phone company wanted $25 a pole to bring service in and it did not seem reasonable."
Russell Hunter, who had just earned his Ph.D. at the age of 54 when interviewed in 1978, reminisced about growing up at Lacy Green.
"Our pleasures in my childhood there were simple ones. I used to walk the fields and woods, getting lost in the Great Swamp more times than I care to remember. I think that my present sense of direction dates from that time - the fact that I learned how to find my way out of what was a pretty wild area in those days, and very large for a small child."
"I used to walk over to the Stolles (farm on Farmingville Road) and play with the Stolle children, but this was my only contact with kids my own age since that was not an era in which parents drove children around that they be amused. I made my own amusements.
"I do not remember being lonely - I loved Lacy Green - and, quite simply, grew up learning to be creative about doing things around the place and in the woods and fields. A very happy time in my life.
"As a family, we pushed back a lot of the wild to create a rather large lawn and complex of gardens. I remember the lawn itself took four hours to cut. We had in addition both flower and vegetable gardens which supplied us with flowers for the house and vegetables for the table. There were apple, pear and cherry trees. Mother used to do a lot of preserving in those days. In later years, my father kept bees.
"In a sense, I suppose we were 'almost farmers' in the summer time, and I have happy memories of producing from those gardens."
Mr. Hunter visited the place in the spring of 1977. "It was a curious experience...So much was gone - the water tank, the pumphouse and spring, the old barn we used as a garage, our old flower and vegetable gardens, so many of the old landmarks in the woods which I used to use in my tramping.
"I was glad to see my grandparents' graveyard well cared for, but so much was - just gone. I felt very strange knowing that the familiar to the children there now was unfamiliar to me, and that the things which were a part of my own childhood had simply vanished.
"Not that I bemoan progress. I felt that progress had to Lacy Green in a very tasteful fashion. It was just a wrench to see, to discover, that what I had regarded as constants simply were gone."
F. Heyward Hunter died in 1948 and shortly thereafter, Martha Hunter sold the place to Jeannette Fox Parker, an attorney, woman's rights activist, and a flamboyant chairman of Ridgefield's Zoning Commission. Her husband, Albert, also an attorney in New York City, was a founder of Albert Einstein College of Yeshiva University.
In 1965, the Parkers sold 65 acres and buildings to Mr. Finch.
HUNTER LANE, LANE WEST
Hunter Lane, the main road leading through Hunter Heights to a cul de sac, was named for the Hunter family (see above). It became a town road in 1970.
Hunter Lane West, or West Hunter Lane as it is sometimes called, runs between Blackman Road and Hunter Lane. A rather unexciting variation of Hunter Lane, the name should probably be changed to recall another former property owner, such as the Parkers.
Hunting Ridge is the name given to a subdivision of 27 acres into 11 lots on the south side of New Road.
The subdivision was obtained in the fall of 1986 by the descendants of Robert Lee, part of whose farmland was subdivided.
Lost Mine Place is the road serving the development.
The name was originally proposed for the road, but was rejected because of possible confusion with Hunter Lane. The name was probably selected because it sounds good, though no doubt the land has often been used for hunting over the years.
Hurlbutt Lane is an old name for Market Street, so called because Hurlbutt's Market stood right next to the road near the corner of Main Street.
David Hurlbutt established the market sometime before 1850 in a small building that stood near his house (now the District Nursing Association offices). According to Silvio Bedini, Hurlbutt started out as a hatter and later became a butcher, and built his market on land he bought from his close friend, the well-to-do Joshua I. King.
Ironically, Hurlbutt was killed by a cow he was himself trying to butcher in 1858. By then, his son, Sereno, had taken over the operation of the store. Sereno Hurlbutt later became the town's tax collector for many years in the late 19th Century, and was involved in other businesses, such as the Rockwell candlestick factory on Catoonah Stree and the carriage factory, now the Big Shop housing restaurants and shops at the back of the municipal parking lot. He died in 1904.
Hurlbutt Lane is mentioned by Laura Curie Allee Shields in her book, Memories. Mrs. Shields - then Laura Allee - and her husband, Dr. William Hanford Allee, bought the Hurlbutt house in 1906 from Mrs. Julia Hurlbutt and Miss Julia Hurlbutt. The Allees called it Homeland and the Allees lived there many years, as did daughter Dorothy Detzer, who still lives in Ridgefield.
In Memories, she recalls that "Market Street was then just a lane that went through to East Ridge, and in winter was almost impassable with mud. We impored our neighbor, Mrs. Ebenezer Keeler, to put her ashes on the road, and we did the same, and in the course of 25 years we had quite a road.
"In May 1914 the town dignified the side lane enough to call it Market Street. Years before, Sereno Hurlbutt had a meat market and slaughter house where our garage now stands. Up to that time it had been called Hurlbutt Lane, which to my mind was very much more elegant, to say the least. But the town fathers insisted upon Market Street."
One of David Hurlbutt's several interests in town was an ice business to supply local households with refrigeration. The ice was obtained from Hurlbutt's Pond, now only a small body of water, situated west of East Ridge, between Branchville Road and Market Street.
The pond was once much larger. The area it covered included the Rowland Lane neighborhood, where some residents today might sometimes wonder when it rains heavily whether the ghost of Hurlbutt's Pond is cursing their waterlogged yards.
Near the pond stood an ice house to store the cakes of ice in warmer months. The ice house was in operation by 1849 when David and Julia Hurlbutt leased portions of it to a group of Ridgefielders that included William Hawley, Joshua King, Samuel Lobdell, and Henry Smith.
Joseph W. Hibbart, another market operator, later obtained ice from Hurlbutt's Pond.
HUSSAR'S CAMP PLACE
Hussar's Camp Place is a road serving part of a 61-acre subdivision along a ridge west of Ridgebury Road and south of Chestnut Hill Road, once part of the late Daniel and Louise McKeon's Arigideen Farm. Dillon Associates received approval for 17 lots there in February 1987.
The name recalls an event in July 1781 when 4,800 French troops under Rochambeau came to Ridgebury. They were on their way from Rhode Island to the Hudson River where they would join American forces for an attack on New York.
According to Mr. McKeon, a student of Ridgebury history, there were 600 artillery, 600 cavalry and 3,600 light infantry, including the hussars under the Duc De Lauzun. The Legion of De Lauzun was composed of 300 horse and 300 light infantry.
In Ridgebury, there were two encampments. The main body of troops stayed on the ridge east of the Ridgebury Congregational Church's Shields Hall and north of George Washington Highway. The other division made its camp on the hill where the subdivision is.
This encampment was occupied by hussars (light cavalry), grenadiers (infantry) and chasseurs (rapid-action troops) under Alexander Berthier. Berthier reported in his diary that "The second Brigade left Newtown and marched 15 miles to Ridgebury where it arrived at 11 o'clock. It was preceded on its march by an advance detachment of grenadiers and chasseurs. I was ordered to lead them and to find a good position for them a mile ahead of the Brigade on the road to New York where they camped after stationing sentries at all points leading in from enemy territory."
The word "hussar" originated in 15th Century Hungary where it referred to a light cavalry soldier. The word comes from the Serbo-Croatian term for "brigand" or "pirate."
Because the troops were accompanied by chaplains, Ridgefield historian Silvio Bedeni believes that a Catholic mass was celebrated in the encampment. That may have been the first Catholic service to have taken place in Ridgefield, a fact that was marked in a 1981 celebration on the site. (However, Mr. Bedini also notes that about 160 French cavalry of the Partisan Legion under Colonel Charles Armand had an encampment off Barrack Hill Road during the summer of 1779, and may have had a chaplain to celebrate mass.)
"Arigideen," incidentally, has a story behind it, too. According to Louise McKeon, it is "the name of a small river in County Cork, Ireland, where Dan's grandfather was born. It means 'little silver stream' because the salmon would go up river and in the water cast a silver shadow.
"When we came here in 1937, we named the farm Harkaway Farm, ordered writing paper, etc., and the first day we received mail so addressed, Jim Smith, our carrier, told us that Ada Phair called her place that - and that morning had gone down and registered the name for 25 cents at Town Hall. So we picked Arigideen, feeling nobody else would take that name. It is difficult to pronounce, but we are happy with it."