Entire contents copyrighted 2005 by Jack Sanders. Reproduction without permission is forbidden.
Jackson Court is a short, dead-end road off the north side of King Lane. The handful of house lots was subdivided from land of the former Jackson estate, whose house sits at the corner of Main Street and King Lane.
When Carl Lecher and Nicholas DiNapoli Jr. proposed the subdivision in 1978, Joshua's Court was the first suggested name. It would have recalled Lt. Joshua King, who built the original house at the corner of Main Street and King Lane (q.v.) in the late 1700's. They also suggested King's Way, but that was subject to confusion with King Lane.
The Planning and Zoning Commission opted for Jackson Court, which it felt sounded better and which recalled the family, three generations of which had owned the property.
The Jackson family came to Ridgefield in 1916 when Richard Arbuthnot Jackson purchased the stately home as a summer place, which he called Anascote. Born in Richmond, Ind., in 1858, Mr. Jackson had been boyhood friends with David A. Reid, who became chairman of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Rail Road and who introduced him to a career as a railroad attorney and executive. He once headed the Rock Island line and at his retirement in 1916, had been vice-president and general counsel for the Great Northern Rail Road.
Among the things he did to Anascote was to install the fancy stonewall still surrounding the property. It prompted locals to call him "Stonewall" Jackson, partly in humor and partly to distinguish him from another well-known Richard Jackson in town.
He died in a fall in Florida in 1934, aged 76. Though it was the height of the Depression, he left his widow, Anna Scott Jackson, an estate valued at $400,000 - millions in today's money.
His survivors included a son, Fielding V. Jackson, who with his family moved to Anascote shortly after his father's death. A Yale graduate, he had been a stockbroker and became a member of the New York Stock Exchange. He was long active in St. Stephen's Church.
Fielding Jackson died in 1962, a year older than his father had been at his death. His widow, Julia Tower Jackson, continued to live in the house until the mid-1970's. She died in 1988.
The road was accepted as a town road in 1980.
Old Joe Jagger would be amazed to know that his name still lives -
on some maps at least - more than 180 years after his death. The little steep path that led up to his modest home can still be seen, but is no longer used for a public thoroughfare as it once was.
Jagger Lane, also appearing as Jaegger Lane, runs from behind the Pamby Motors (former King Neptune) building on Route 7 up to Bennett's Farm Road, nearly opposite the site of the old Fox Hill Inn. It may have been the predecessor of the eastern end of Bennett's Farm Road (or Maplewood Road), which now comes out on Route 7 in Danbury just north of the Ridgefield town line.
Joseph Jagger came to town in 1774, buying 2.5 acres "with dwelling house ... lying easterlay of Bennets Farm so called." The house probably stood on the hill southeasterly of Bennett's Farm Road overlooking the valley of today's Route 7 (a road that did not exist then).
Jagger came here from Redding and was in his 70's at the time. Perhaps this was his "retirement home."
He appears to have sold the place in 1792 for only six pounds. He was about 90 years old then, and perhaps wanted to move into the village or could not afford to take care of the house, or was physically unable to do so.
Writing in the year 1800, the Rev. S. G. Goodrich reported that there were three "foreigners in the town who are paupers," one of whom was "named Jagger ... an old man about 95 years, an Englishman who served under the Duke of Cumberland at the Battle of Culloden in 1745, and was in Flanders with the regiment previous to that battle."
Mr. Goodrich said that Jagger "wrought jet work in cedar since he has been in this country, till he was near 80 years old and he will to this day ... sing a martial air he learned in Flanders and cry, 'God save King George.'" (Jet work may have meant inlaying cedar with pieces of polished black coal to form decorative articles.)
Samuel Goodrich, the minister's son who went on to write scores of books under the name of Peter Parley, mentioned Joseph Jagger in his autobiography, Recollections of A Lifetime. "We had a professed beggar, called Jagger, who had served in the armies of more than one of the Georges, and insisted upon crying 'God save the king!' even on the 4th of July, and when openly threatened by the boys with a gratuitous ride on a rail," he said.
The town at this time was supplying welfare payments of about seven shillings a week to some family to care for "Old Jagger."
His death is noted in the usually brief town records with this comparatively lengthy statement: "Joseph Jagger dead December 24th 1802, supposed to be one hundred years old." This and the fact that Goodrich mentions the man in a report that described few other individuals in town indicate that Jagger was a well-known and colorful character of late 18th Century Ridgefield.
Two years after his death, the land records mention the sale of property "known as the Jagger Lott."
Deeds drawn in 1817, 1821, and 1835 refer to "Jagger Road." By 1867, deeds are calling it Jagger Lane.
This name was still in use in 1915 when Col. Louis D. Conley had his land surveyed and the road was so called on a property map. Other maps of the early 20th Century also show the road, but by 1946, when the town published its first zoning map, it no longer appeared, except on U.S. Geological Survey maps, which describe it as an unimproved dirt road.
The Elise Conley Cox of New York City, daughter of the late Colonel Conley, recalled that as a child, she used to go sledding down this road which was surrounded by her father's property and was probably used a good deal by his estate workers.
This interesting variation of Jagger Lane appears on Whitlock's 1912 map of Ridgefield. Evidently, the cartographer misunderstood the correct name, or thought it was an incorrect spelling of Jaguar.
This peculiar name was both occasional and long-lasting in its appearances in the land records. It first occurs in a 1775 deed when the proprietors granted Daniel Benedict of Danbury three acres "in the eastern part of Ridgebury Society at a place called ye Jambs."
In 1788, Lemuel Abbott Jr. sold the proprietors a three-rod wide strip of land for a highway "at the James so called." In 1837, John G. Barton of Danbury bought something called "the Jambs lot" in Ridgebury, and in 1850 his estate sold land "near the 'Jams' so called.
What and where were the Jambs? The word has several old meanings. One was a bed of clay or stone running across a mineral vein. As mentioned previously, there were iron mines in this vicinity (see Iron Works I). There may have been some connection.
Another very old meaning was "an angular turn or corner in a street or way." On the east side of Ridgebury, where George Washington Highway crosses into Danbury, is an offset intersection of Briar Ridge Road, Miry Brook Road, Pine Mountain Road, and George Washington Highway. There were several turns or angles to this junction of four roads, and these could have merited the name, the Jambs, though it seems unlikely.
After my first speculations on the Jambs were published in 1978, Ridgebury historian Ed Liljegren wrote me the following:
"The definition of 'jam(b)" changes in various editions of Webster's from 'a thick bed of stone which hinders them (miners) when pursuing the veins of ore' (1836) to 'a mass of mineral or stone in a quarry or pit standing upright, more or less distinct from neighboring or adjoining parts.' This latter definition is more in keeping with the root of the word, meaning a leg or support. In any case, I suspect that this is the definition the settlers had in mind.
"The Jambs were located in the Short Woods (q.v.) which turns out to be on Ned's Mountain, most probably on the western slope. The Jambs lot was located adjacent to Capt. Henry Whitney's Bogus Lot Ä so described in his will. The most probable location was straddling what is now called Ned's Lane, which once went through to Old Stagecoach Road.
"Both Ned's Lane and Old Stagecoach Road were built about the time that Lemuel Abbott deeded part of his land to the proprietors for a road. If you travel down Ned's Lane as far as it reasonably passable, you can see a spectacular rock formation which could have well given rise to the name of the Jambs.
"It is also possible that the land lies along Bogus Road, but I think that less likely than Ned's Lane."
Japornick's Division, employing an incorrect version of the Indian Tapornick's name, was an early 18th Century proprietors' subdivision on West Mountain.
George L. Rockwell and several early town clerks, among others, misinterpreted the handwriting of Thomas Hauley, the first town clerk, when he wrote Tapornick's Division (q.v.). His "T" looked much like a more modern "J" in script.
Jefferson Drive, which runs between Branchville Road and Lincoln Lane, was developed in the early 1950's as part of the Washington Park Estates.
Bert Ison, the developer, named the road after the nation's third President, Thomas Jefferson. Other roads at Washington Park Estates recall the first, second and 16th Presidents.
Only the first is known to have ever set foot in the town, although a Vice-President under the 16th once spoke here.
The road was accepted by a July 1956 Town Meeting.
Otto H. Jespersen and William B. Rodier, whose surnames were modified and combined to form the portmanteau name, developed Jeffro Drive, a dead-end road off Ivy Hill Road. (Jeffro apparently sounds better than Jespro, Jesro, Jero, Rojesp, etc.)
Mr. Jespersen, a native of Copenhagen, was born in 1900 and served in the Danish King's Bodyguards for two years before emigrating to the United States at the age of 26. He came to Ridgefield in 1937 to work for Outpost Nurseries (formerly employer also of Mr. Rodier), retiring after 35 years. He also had an upholstery and antiques restoration business until he moved to New Hampshire around 1970. He died in 1982.
Mr. Jespersen was active in the Boys' Club, of which he was once president, and was a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Board of Tax Review, and the Democratic Town Committee, on which he served 20 years, part of the time as chairman. He was named Rotary Citizen of the Year in 1963.
Mr. Rodier (1912-1999), a landscape contractor, was one of the three founders of the Ridgefield Symphonette, now called the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra. He was a violinist. He also served on the town's school building committees in the 1960's.
Jeffro Drive appears as Jesperson Drive on at least one (1960) map of the town.
Jerry's Court, the name applied to the road leading into Stonehenge Estates off Route 7 when Jerry Tuccio subdivided the property, was so called for Mr. Tuccio's son, Jerry. Residents didn't like the name, however, and by petition to the selectmen had it changed to Druid Lane in 1966.
Bobby's Court, named for another Tuccio son, had better luck surviving.
See Jeffro Drive above.
A deed in 1858 mentions "the Johnson Hill land," whose exact location has not yet been determined.
From owners in the vicinity, the locality would seem to have been in the northern part of the village, perhaps around Grove Street or along southern North Salem Road. Strangely, however, no one named Johnson owned land anywhere in this area before 1860.
There was also a Johnson's Pond off Wilton Road East in the first half of the 20th Century.
John's Pond, north of Branchville Road and south of Cooper Road a little east of its intersection with Branchville Road, has existed in one form or another for more than 200 years.
It appears that a pond was created on the site around 1751 to supply the saw mill of Benjamin Hoyt (or Hayt, Haight) with water power. The mill was built at about this time, and was operated by the Hoyt family well into the 19th Century, although there is evidence that the operation may have been abandoned from time to time. A mill was operating there in 1867, according to Beers Atlas. An 1866 deed indicates the pond then was called simply "Saw Mill Pond."
It acquired its modern name from Norman John, who reportedly repaired the old dam or built a new one in the 1930's and created a new and larger (about six acres) pond on the site. (Oddly enough, in 1977, the president of the John's Pond Association of neighboring landowners was Mrs. John Norman!)
The pond shore was the site of a camp in the 1930's, according to one neighbor. During the famous hurricane of 1938, a nearby goldfish pond overflowed and sent goldfish pouring into John's Pond, where they thrived for many years. For a long time the state refused to stock the pond with trout because the goldfish, being bottom feeders and so plentiful, were taking the food. The goldfish, some as long as six inches, were still in the pond in the 1960's, although they are probably gone now, if for no other reason than the fact that the pond dried out in 1977 when dam difficulties were experienced.
For many years, a sizable portion of the pond shore was owned by Dr. Alice Paul, the suffragist and author of the long-proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
John's Pond is fed by the waters of the Cooper Pond Brook, which continues on to the Norwalk River in Branchville and eventually ends up in Long Island Sound.
This on-again, off-again pond existed early in the century along Farmingville Road, opposite New Road. Though I've found no written confirmation that the name "Jones Pond" was used, it is probable that it was at least a neighborhood name since the pond was on David L. Jones' farm (called Walnut Grove).
The pond is an interesting example of how small bodies of water were used on a farm.
During the summer, there was no pond, only a bog on which "bog hay" was grown. The hay was cut in late summer and baled. Then, according to the late Robert A. Lee, who lived across the road from the pond around 1900, two long poles were inserted under each bale and the bale was carried to the barn by two persons, each holding two ends of the poles. In the barn it was used for bedding animals.
After the hay was cut, timber slats were inserted in an outlet (sluice) in a stone dam at the end of the pond, causing water to back up and thus creating a pond. By winter, the pond was frozen and neighbors had a source of ice.
Mr. Lee said the Jones, Lee, Starr and Lounsbury families all cut ice on the pond, each storing it for summer in small ice houses on their farms.
After Mr. Jones died in 1917, the pond was retained year-round because no one wanted to cut hay any more. Karl S. Nash, Mr. Jones' grandson, said many birds - including kingfishers and pied-billed grebes - visited the pond. Mr. Nash also recalled one summer day when he and two others caught 150 frogs on the pond. All 300 legs were consumed.
Eventually, the wooden portion of the dam rotted and burst. When the old farm was subdivided and developed for Walnut Grove Estates, the bog was preserved as permanent open space.
Jones Ridge, a name which shows up in the land records as early as 1789, appears to have applied to a ridge near the intersection of Branchville and Rockwell Roads.
The Jones family had land on the ridge, at least from the Revolutionary period, and Ebenezer Jones was living thereabouts in 1789. Benjamin Jones had land there in 1838, the last time (through the 1880's) that the name shows up.
Now part of Danbury, just north of Mill Plain, "Jo's Hills" were part of Ridgefield from 1731 to 1846. The name appears in the Ridgefield records by the 1740's and as late as 1810.
Although some have thought that the hills were once the home of an Indian named Jo, research done by Imogene Heireth of Danbury indicated that Jo was probably Joseph Crane and that Jo's probably comes from Jos., an abbreviation for Joseph that was commonly used in records dealing with Mr. Crane.
Joseph Crane Sr. was living in Fairfield in 1741 but by 1744 was in the town of Southeast, Putnam County, N.Y., where he operated mills near the Connecticut border. The Oblong, as this area was known, had been split off from Connecticut in 1731 in an exchange of land with New York. Crane may have acquired his land when part of Connecticut, for he owned the hills just across the line in Connecticut. Mrs. Heireth has found an early reference to "Jos. Crane's Hills" in upper Mill Plain.
Danburians today retain the name as Joe's Hill Road. In Ridgefield records, the name always appears as "Jo's Hills." Technically, perhaps, the real name is "Jos. Hills" or even "Jos.'s Hills." All early records use the plural, "Hills."
Joe's Corner has for much of this century described the portion of the intersection of Danbury Road and Main Street where Country Corners, the gasoline station and convenience store, is today. However, in common use, the name has come to include the entire intersection, one of the busiest in town.
Joe's Corner picked up its name from the Joseph brothers, Mustapha C. Joseph and James Joseph, who operated the store at this corner for more than a half century.
M. C. Joseph, a native of a part of Syria that is now Lebanon, opened "Joe's Store" in 1918 at what was then called Danbury Corners. He operated the business until his death in 1938 at the age of 48.
His brother was much longer-lived. James took over and owned the place until his death in 1972 at the age of 91. The original Joe's Store, once clapboard sided, is the little brick building on Danbury Road, just to the east of Country Corners. According to the late Francis D. Martin, the larger building that is now Country Corners was built around 1905 by James Kennedy, contractor and mason, as his office. It was taken over by the Josephs in the 1920's to serve an expanding business at Joe's Store.
Until two or three years before his death, James Joseph waited on customers. After that he just watched the passing scene, sitting all day long in a chair, inside or outside the store, depending on the weather.
He had come to the United States in 1903 and joined his brother in the operation of the Square Deal Store in Danbury. The two also sold fruit and vegetables in Ridgefield, first by horse and wagon and later by automobile, until opening a store here.
James, called Jimmy Joe, became a US citizen in 1958 but could not at the time become a voter because he could not, in several attempts, pass the literacy test (although he did read and write in Syrian). When the literacy test was abolished in the late 1960's, Mr. Joseph came to the late Town Clerk Ruth M. Hurzeler and, with great pride, finally became a voter after having lived in this country for more than 65 years.
Both Mr. Joseph and Miss Hurzeler had tears in their eyes as the new voter was sworn in.
Judges Lane is a private road off Rockwell Road and parallel to Main Street.
Carl Lecher, the developer, and Paul McNamara, his attorney, were sitting in Mr. McNamara's office the night of the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on this subdivision in 1974, trying to think of a suitable name for the road. Judge Joseph H. Donnelly, senior partner in the law firm, walked through the office and it occurred to the two that Judges Lane would be most appropriate because not only Judge Donnelly, but also Judge Reed F. Shields used to live very near the property. Both were former Probate Court judges in Ridgefield.
Another name considered, but quickly abandoned, was "Judges Court."
Since it is a private road, the post office does not recognize Judges Lane as an address, and residents have their mail addressed to Rockwell Road, where their mailboxes are situated.
JUG (?) ISLAND
Two early 18th Century deeds mention a locality in Scotland District with a name that is unclear. The script of the town clerk recording the deed could be interpreted as Joy, Jay, Jug or even Ivy Island.
In a 1728 deed, Benjamin Stebbins sold James Scott two acres of "boggland and upland ... lying east from said Scott's house on Titicus River" and bounded on the east by "ye Jug (?) Island."
The other reference occurs in 1739 when Stebbins sells John Stirdevant an acre "at ye Jug (?) Island near said Stirdivant's house" and bounded on the east by "ye river."
The location was probably the Norwalk River west of Danbury Road, perhaps in the vicinity of Tanton Hill or Limestone Roads.
If it was Jug Island, the locality could have been so named because the piece of dry land was shaped like a jug and surrounded by a swamp. If Jay, it could have been known for its bird population. If Jog, it could have been some variation in a boundary line or in the terrain. If Ivy, it might have been covered with the plant. If Joy, who knows....