Entire contents copyrighted 2005 by Jack Sanders. Reproduction without permission is forbidden.
Keeler Close is a private lane at Casagmo, the apartment complex off northern Main Street. It was named for the Keeler family – see below.
With the construction of Casagmo in the late 1960’s came a new form of road name. We had streets, lanes, roads, places, circles, courts, and avenues, but no “close” (pronounced as in “he was close by”). The word is British for a narrow lane or alley – a “close” or “enclosed” place.
Keeler Drive, the main road through Pleasant View Estates in northwestern Ridgebury, is named for the Keeler family – specifically, for Nehemiah Lyman “Fuzzy” Keeler’s family, which had owned and farmed this land for many years until around 1968 when some 200 acres were sold to Jerry Tuccio, who subdivided it.
The Keeler family lived in the “Pink House,” a saltbox on the west side of Ridgebury Road, opposite Shadow Lake Road. The house was built around 1735 and became a Keeler house in 1795 when the heirs of Timothy Street sold it to a Nehemiah Keeler.
The Keeler clan is an ancient and notable one in Ridgefield and the surrounding towns, and is one of the few of the original settling families that still has a sizable number of descendants living in town and in the immediate area. The 1989 phone book has eight Keeler listings and the Danbury book has 22. Georgetown lists three, and Wilton, two. Most probably descend from the same settlers.
According to one account, the Keelers came to this country from London in the early 1600’s. A Ralph Keeler was living in Hartford in 1639 and he became an early settler of Norwalk, serving as “chimney viewer” in 1645. A carpenter, he probably erected or worked on many of Norwalk’s early homes.
His son, Samuel Keeler (1656-1713), probably also a carpenter, was a veteran of the Great Swamp Fight against the Pequot Indians at Kingston, R.I., in 1675, and for his service, received a grant of land in Norwalk. He was among the proprietors (first landowning settlers) of Ridgefield, drawing by the 1709 lottery a lot on the lower west side of Main Street and also buying one on the lower east side, just above the Keeler Tavern.
An unusual little hand-written genealogy of the early Ridgefield Keelers, compiled in the 1830’s by an unknown person, tells that “on the decease of Samuel, Sarah Keeler, by partition deed of his estate, dated Feb. 17, 1716-17, has sons Samuel, Benjamin of Norwalk and Joseph, Jonah, Timothy of Ridgefield, agreed as follows, viz.: Samuel takes real estate in Norwalk, also 76 pounds person; Joseph takes real estate in Norwalk, also 102 pounds; Benjamin takes real estate in Norwalk, also 55 acres farm in Wilton near Grassmeadows, also 76 pounds personal; Jonah takes in Ridgefield eight acres on Town Ridge lower end, bounded S. by David Scott, east, west and north on highway.
“Timothy takes the late homestead of his father, lot 25, also two opposite on the east side street, also other lands, also land at Chesnut Ridge, Western Ridge, others.” (Most of the “Norwalk” land was probably in what’s today Wilton.)
This genealogy reports, incidentally, that Samuel Keeler Sr., with his wife, Sarah, came from Devonshire, England, to Cow Bay, Long Island, before settling in Norwalk. At any rate, his son, Samuel, came to Ridgefield with his father in 1708, but soon returned to Norwalk, perhaps disliking the pioneering. Joseph later came to Ridgefield and died here in 1757. Benjamin settled in Wilton and started a branch of the family there. Jonah settled here, dying in 1764. Timothy also stayed here, and died in 1748.
From these few sprang a very large family of hundreds of people who were prominent in all aspects of town life – many farmers, millers, businessmen, soldiers, and persons of virtually ever other trade, and who, over the years, held virtually every town office.
In fact, no other Ridgefield family contributed as many soldiers to the Revolutionary cause – 17 Ridgefield Keelers signed up and fought as officers and enlisted men. In addition there was one Keeler in the War of 1812, eight in the Civil War, two in World War I and four in World War II.
Although Keelers settled throughout the town – and in Wilton, Danbury and South Salem – there were three major enclaves of the family here. Several properties in the village belonged to the Keeler family from the town’s founding well into the 19th Century. Another group settled at the Ridgefield-Lewisboro line along South Salem Road. In fact, there were probably more 18th and 19th Century Keelers living just over the line in South Salem section of Lewisboro than on the Ridgefield side of the border, a situation that stemmed from the fact that eastern Lewisboro was once (before 1731) part of Ridgefield, and the Keelers probably purchased land there while it was still part of Connecticut.
Northern Ridgebury was home to many Keelers from as early as 1743 when Jonah Keeler, son of Samuel Sr., received a grant of 106 acres on the west side of Ridgebury Road, just south of Keeler Drive, and probably including part of Pleasant View Estates. Samuel Keeler, son of Jonah, owned and occupied the land by 1748, according to research done by Edwin Liljegren. Samuel was one of the very first settlers of Ridgebury, and much farmland remained in the Keeler family well into this century – the last big piece going in 1968 for Pleasant View Estates.
When N. Lyman Keeler died in April 2005, The Ridgefield Press carried this editorial:
“The passing of Nehemiah Lyman Keeler is both sad and historic, and should not go unnoticed.
“Fuzzy Keeler was a last link with what Ridgefield was for most of its existence: A community of hard-working farmers, most of whom were born here and most of whom spent their lives in fields and barns tending crops and livestock. For much of his life, he tilled land and milked cows, just as generations of Keelers had before him.
“Fuzzy was a direct descendant of the pioneers who came to the hilly, rock-riddled woods in 1708 to create a new settlement. One of his Keeler ancestors built the house in which he was born. It was the same house in which he died in last Thursday.
“Those settlers of long ago were strong and hearty men and women. That strength and sense of adventure could be seen in Mr. Keeler, who didn’t retire until he was 90 – the same age he took his last motorcycle ride.
“He saw Ridgefield transformed from a town of farms, dirt roads, and horse-drawn buggies into a bustling suburb in which not a single real farm remains.
“Over the years many people have been called ‘Mr. Ridgefield,’ chiefly for their involvement in town affairs. But few have had more Ridgefield in them than Fuzzy Keeler, a man who was born, lived and died in the home of his ancestors and who had worked the same land those ancestors carved from the wilderness nearly three centuries ago.”
Keeler Lane is an old road which apparently connected Barry Avenue below Peaceable Ridge Road to another old lane, called Bypass Road. This route, which parallels Peaceable Ridge, was probably a shortcut between Barry Avenue and western Peaceable Street, avoiding the steep climb up Peaceable Ridge.
Keeler Lane, or portions of it, may now be Woodcock Lane, a dead-end road serving a small subdivision.
Keeler Lane was so called in some 20th Century records for a Keeler family that lived on Barry Avenue in this vicinity as early as 1867 and well into the 20th Century. The road probably began as a lane on the family’s farm.
Keeler’s Ridge was mentioned in the 1786 perambulation of the Wilton and Ridgefield town line. It seems to have been situated near Silver Spring Road, perhaps below Silver Spring Park.
Jeremiah Keeler had land in the vicinity in 1792. By 1828, Walter, Matthew, William, and Anna Keeler all had land in the neighborhood.
Kellogg Street, sometimes erroneously spelled Kellog, runs between Mulberry Street and Ramapoo Road. The thoroughfare does not appear on maps of the town until early in the 20th Century, and began being called Kellogg Street possibly as early as the 1920’s, certainly by the 1930’s.
Some oldtimers believe the name recalls Hiram J. Kellogg, who was born here in 1850 and died in the 1920’s. Mr. Kellogg, who lived on North Salem Road, owned at various times a good deal of land in town. An 1873 deed from Hiram Kellogg (probably his father) to Hiram J. Kellogg provides him with 15 acres “on West Mountain” – this could well be in the vicinity of today’s Kellogg Street.
Mr. Kellogg was a well-known member of the community, having served as a selectman in 1887 and first selectman a year later.
Kelloggs are an old family in Ridgefield, dating back to the mid-1700’s. Three Kelloggs from Ridgefield served in the Revolution.
Kent Lane is a short, private road, serving several homes off the east side of Main Street, between Branchville Road and the Keeler Tavern.
Milton R. Kent of Danbury bought land and buildings here in 1945 and established the Kent Apartment House in what has been the Campbell home in recent years. He named the little lane after himself, for the name was used in deeds of 1951 and 1953 when he was disposing of his holdings to several parties. He was living in Redding Ridge by 1951.
The road was paved for the first time in 1977.
The naming of Ketcham Road, which runs off Pin Pack Road, occurred before there was a Ketcham to name it after. Technically speaking, that is.
When Howard Ketcham, a New York City business executive, bought the land on this little road in 1938, it was already being called Ketcham Road. Apparently, before purchasing the house and 13 acres from Mary T. Carini, Mr. Ketcham had the property surveyed and, for want of another name, labeled an old farm road on the property as Ketcham Road. The name appears on that 1938 map, the first time it is used. He bought the property later the same year.
Mr. Ketcham sold the house and land to Anne B. Finkelstein in 1944 and moved to Westfield, N.J. And despite only a six-year stay here, his name lives on.
Barry Finch subdivided some of the lots along this road, which is an old lane that once joined Pin Pack Road with Ramapoo Road via Casey Lane.
KIAH’S BROOK LANE
Kiah’s Brook Lane is a fine example of a road’s keeping an old and colorful name alive long after its namesake has been forgotten.
Although the name may lead some people to think it is of Indian origin, Kiah is in fact derived from Hezekiah Scott, who lived and carried on several businesses along the brook and was called by neighbors “Uncle Kiah.”
According to historian Silvio Bedini, Hezekiah Scott was a weaver who also operated a whiskey and cider distillery and a saw mill on Uncle Kiah’s Brook near what is now the junction of Ledges and Sherwood Roads. Scott himself lived near the intersection of Ledges and Barlow Mountain Roads.
“Hezekiah Scott was a colorful figure in the community and he remembered and often related having voted in every administration from Madison to Hayes,” Mr. Bedini reports.
Scott was born on Christmas Day in 1789, son of James Scott II and Lucretia Scott. The Scotts (of Scotland District, in which this brook is situated), came here in 1712, four years after the town was settled, and members of the family – possibly some descendants of Hezekiah himself – still live in town.
Uncle Kiah Scott died in 1876 at the age of 87, three weeks after having voted for Rutherford B. Hayes; it was the 17th Presidential election in which he had cast a ballot.
Kiah’s Brook today flows out of Pierrepont Pond (®MDBR¯q.v.®MDNM¯), also called Lake Naraneka, which in Uncle Kiah’s day was but swamp and pasture. The brook joins the Titicus River west of the intersection of Sherwood and Ledges Roads.
Kiah’s Brook Lane was developed and named by William Peatt Jr. around 1960. Mr. Peatt reported that the road, a dead-end off Ledges Road, was built over the foundation of some building, perhaps the distillery of Hezekiah Scott, or perhaps a blacksmith shop.
Kiah’s Brook Lane became a town road in 1963.
The Kiah’s Brook Refuge on Barlow Mountain Road is a strip of brookside open space that was once part of the Luquer property, purchased by the town as a school site. Scotland and Barlow Mountain Schools were built on the land to the south; Barlow Mountain was later closed and sold to the Ridgefield Family Y as its headquarters. The refuge has long been used by students for environmental studies.
KILN HILL LANE
Kiln Hill Lane, a short dead-end road on the north side of Barry Avenue, recalls the old limekiln which was operated for many years near the corner of Barry Avenue and Ramapoo Road, about three quarters of a mile up the road. The limekiln is discussed under Limekiln Hill (q.v.).
The road serves the subdivision developed on George and Rose Kaiser’s former poulty farm, a subdivision that brought to a formal close a controversy over the property that had lasted several years.
In 1973, the Suburban Action Institute and its off-shoot Garden Cities Development Company contracted with the Kaisers to buy the 10.8 acres to erect about 108 apartments for low to moderate income families. SAI, known for its attempts to allow low-income families to live in the suburbs by forcing suburban towns to downzone, actually planned a rather conservative development here, compared with its one-time proposal for 4,600 apartments in a New Jersey town and nearly 3,000 units in neighboring Lewisboro, N.Y.
The Planning and Zoning Commission denied the SAI-Garden Cities application for rezoning later that year, citing traffic and sewer problems. In 1974, Paul Davidoff and others involved in the application sued the town in Federal District Court, charging that “lily-white” Ridgefield was trying to zone out members of minority races and lower-income groups in general. However, the plaintiffs failed to pursue the case because of internal squabbles and financial problems, and it was eventually thrown out of court for lack of prosecution – its allegations were never ruled on.
Subsequently, the land was subdivided by the Kaisers and was purchased for development by Michael Futterman’s Ivy Ridge Corporation. This writer, called upon to suggest a name for the road, recommended Turkey Hill, Turkey Ridge, Turkey Meadow or some such name recalling the fact that the Kaisers farm was the last poultry farm to operate in Ridgefield.
The poultry-raising operations ceased around 1971 because of new, stringent state health codes for poultry-selling farms. For many years Ridgefielders had bought their Thanksgiving turkeys at the Kaiser Farm. Before the Kaisers came from Monroe in 1953 to buy it, the place was called the Big Jim Farm, operated by Big Jim Smith.
Planning and Zoning Commissioners did not take kindly to the turkey names. The writer then suggested Kiln Hill, and the planners accepted it, perhaps because they thought it was more “respectable.” Oddly enough, a decade later, developer Robert Tuccio used “Wild Turkey” for a new road up the mountain from this site. The road was developed around 1977.
The Kaisers moved to Florida, but periodically returned to Ridgefield to visit. Mr. Kaiser often observed that it was a shame that the apartments were not built because the lack of affordable housing continued to be an ever-growing problem in the town. Mr. Kaiser, who died around 1987, was born in North White Plains, N.Y., in a house that had once been George Washington’s headquarters in the Revolution and is now a museum.
King Lane, the short road from Main Street to High Ridge, recalls one of Ridgefield’s most prominent families, established here just after the Revolution and lasting into the 20th Century. It made its mark on regional history by producing notable soldiers and businessmen.
In Ridgefield history, the King family began in 1783 when Joshua King of Bridgewater, “state of Massachusetts Bay,” and James Dole of Albany, N.Y. paid 150 pounds to Hezekiah Johnson of Wallingford to buy a house, barn, and six acres on the east side of Main Street, opposite King Lane. Here the two established a store, called King and Dole in a building which is today the second story of the Aldrich Museum.
Joshua King was born in 1758 in Braintree, Mass. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the army of the Revolution, initially as a cornet and later serving as a lieutenant in the Second Regiment of the Light Dragoons under Col. Sheldon.
During the war he was stationed near the Connecticut-New York line. “It was while in service here,” a family history says, “that there appeared one morning at headquarters an adjutant and four men belonging to the Connecticut Militia, having in charge a prisoner who looked somewhat like a gentleman in reduced circumstances. He had on a purple coat with gold lace, worn threadbare, a small-brimmed tarnished beaver hat, nankeen small-clothes, and long white top-boots. His hair was tied in a queue, with a long black band, and his clothes were travel-stained.
“Lt. King, to whom the prisoner was delivered, saw at once that he had to do with a person of more than ordinary importance, and his own barber coming in to shave him, the same service was offered to the stranger and gladly accepted.
“When the ribbon was taken from his hair, the lieutenant observed that it was full of powder which, with other circumstances, confirmed his previous impression.
“After being shaved the prisoner asked the privilege of going to bed till his linen and small-clothes could be washed, but this was made unnecessary by Lt. King, offering a change of clothing, which was accepted.
“These little courtesies so won the confidence of the prisoner that he revealed to Lt. King the fact that he was none other than Major John Andre, the adjutant-general of the British army, and that he had been arrested inside American lines. Asking for a pen and paper, he proceeded to write to General Washington, but before midnight, orders came from the commander-in-chief to forward the prisoner at once to headquarters, and this was also done under charge of Lt. King.”
The story of Lt. King’s brief acquaintance with Benedict Arnold’s spy-mate is told in a letter written by King in 1817 to a friend, and reprinted in Teller’s, Rockwell’s, and in part in Bedini’s histories of Ridgefield. The family history, written by Henry P. Phelps, adds that Lt. King “remained at headquarters till the execution and even walked with him to the gallows on which the brave and gallant Englishman met his shameful death.”
Lt. King, sometimes addressed as General King because he held that rank in the postwar Connecticut militia, became acquainted with Ridgefield during the war, liked the town, and decided to settle here. In 1784, a year after his arrival, he married one of the highest-placed women in town. Anne Ingersoll was the daughter of the Rev. Jonathan Ingersoll, second minister of the First Congregational Church, and sister of Jonathan Ingersoll Jr., lieutenant governor of Connecticut from 1816 to 1823.
As a merchant he was evidently quite successful, for Lt. King was soon a wealthy man. (Dole dropped out of the business soon after it started.) King bought much land – and was perhaps the largest private property owner in town; certainly he held more than any other non-farmer. He was also a sort of one-man bank, dealing out mortgages to many residents. He also had interests in several mills in town.
Lt. King served several terms in the General Assembly and was a member of the 1818 convention that framed the modern Connecticut Constitution.
Joshua and Anne had 10 children – four sons and six daughters. Samuel G. Goodrich (Peter Parley) described them in his “Recollections of A Lifetime”: “All reached maturity and constituted one of the comeliest groups I have ever known. The girls all married, save one; three of the sons – among the handsomest men of their time – professed bachelorism; a proof of what all shrewd observers know, that handsome men, spontaneously enjoying the smiles of the sex, feel no need of resigning their liberty, while ugly men are forced to capitulate on bended knees and accept the severe conditions of matrimony as the only happy issue out of their solitude.” This, from the son of a minister!
Lt. King died in 1839, a year after his wife. Two of his sons remained closely connected with Ridgefield, though one only as a summer resident.
Rufus H. King, born here in 1794, moved to Albany where he became one of the city’s foremost businessmen, serving among other things as the president of the New York State Bank and of the Albany Savings Bank. Rufus frequently visited the family homestead at Main Street and King Lane. He was a colonel in the New York State militia and two of his offspring were attached to the military: a son, also Rufus H., became a general in the militia and a daughter, Anna, married a General Franklin Townsend.
For a while, his youngest brother, Joshua Ingersoll King (1801-1887) was a partner with Rufus in a dry goods business in Albany, but upon the death of his father, Joshua returned to the family homestead.
Goodrich, in an 1855 visit to his native town, met Joshua I. King and described him as “not only the successor but in some things the repetition of his father. He represents him in person, and has many of his qualities. He has remodeled the grounds around the old family mansion, amplifying and embellishing them with much judgment.
“The house itself is unchanged, except by paint and the introduction of certain articles of furniture and tasteful decorations – testimonials of the proprietor’s repeated visits to Europe. Here, being a bachelor, he has gathered some of his nieces, and here he receives the members of the King dynasty down to the third generation – all seeming to regard it as the Jerusalem of the family. The summer gathering here is delightful, bringing hither the refinements of the best society of New York, Philadelphia and other places.”
The homestead, probably built by Lt. King in the 1780’s or 1790’s, was destroyed by fire in July 1889, together with many heirlooms and family portraits. One of the finest houses in 19th Century Ridgefield, it stood on the north corner of Main Street and King Lane, a little north of the site of the present mansion house, and was being renovated at the time of its burning.
The existing house, built by Charles S. Nash, is almost the same design as its predecessor. Construction on it began in 1894.
In the 1800’s, several buildings – at least two of them houses – stood on this corner. Joshua I. King occupied the main house while J. Howard King of Albany, son of Col. Rufus H. King, had a place right on the corner. This may have been what the family called “Peaceable Cottage,” used chiefly as a summer retreat.
Joshua I. King was 85 at the time of his death in 1887, and his death record in the town hall lists no occupation. He probably was involved in investments, for his probate records mention his holding many stocks and bonds, and he probably lived off the income from these.
Lt. King’s daughter, Sophia, married William McHarg of Albany, and one of their sons was also prominent in Ridgefield as a summer resident. Henry King McHarg donated the land at Main Street and West Lane for the construction of the present First Congregational Church. His widow, Elizabeth, lived on Nod Road until shortly before her death in 1976. She pioneered the organic gardening movement in this area in the 1930’s.
J. Howard King, who was another wealthy Albany businessman, considered himself a resident of that city, but was well-known here as a summer visitor. And it was here that he died in 1900.
The late Francis D. Martin remembered J. Howard King and his three daughters – Irene, Winona, and Henrietta – “the first girls who ever smoked in Ridgefield,” Mr. Martin maintained in a 1978 interview. The three of them apparently recognized the evils of their ways, for, according to Mr. Martin, they offered the late Malchus Knapp, then a boy, $100 if he would not smoke a cigarette until he was 21. Knapp kept the bargain – in fact, he never smoked in his lifetime – and collected the $100
The stone wall along King Lane has a rather unusual feature that was not always there. Mr. Martin said that the local young men used to go courting the “pot rasslers” – kitchen maids – from Mr. King’s household. Men and maidens would sit together atop the then flat-topped wall, a situation Mr. King found uncomely. So he had the pointed rocks installed, making the wall most uncomfortable for seating.
Among the frequent visitors at the King homestead were Mary King, cousin of J. Howard, and Tom King, son of Rufus H., who would play polo here with other wealthy Ridgefielders.
At J. Howard King’s death, the property was turned over to a group of trustees who eventually sold off the holdings. For a while, the King family continued to use the main house. The building that Lt. King had opened as a country store in the 1780’s had by 1900 become a house and the business itself eventually became today’s D. F. Bedient Company. The complete Ridgefield estate – three houses and some 66 acres of land (including 44 acres of “wood lots” at Silver Spring – was valued at $49,500 in 1900.
When the mansion house and its 11 acres plus 35 acres at Silver Spring were sold to Richard A. Jackson of Stevenson, Md., in 1922, the price was $67,000 – more than twice the appraised value of those properties in 1900 and a very hefty sum in its day.
When the homestead alone, occupied until the mid-1970’s by Mrs. Fielding V. Jackson, Richard’s daughter-in-law, was sold by the Jackson family in July 1978, the price was $390,000.
A few years earlier, Mrs. Jackson had given the woodlots – probably acquired by Lt. King 180 years earlier – to the Land Conservancy of Ridgefield to remain open space in perpetuity.
King Lane was so called from at least 1867 when the name appears on Beers Atlas as “Kings Lane.” A 1924 map says “King’s Lane,” Today, the “s” and the apostrophe are both gone.
A postcard from around 1910 labels King Lane as Peaceable Street.
The King Lots are an example of how age and legend can distort the actual source of a name.
In his Ridgefield in Review, historian Silvio Bedini recounts the legend: “Local tradition relates that the Burt family of Mamanasco which was descended from the first blacksmith (Benjamin Burt) were Tories and that the Burt property was confiscated by the Government during the Revolution and sold at public auction. This property was located along Lake Mamanasco and included the area from North Salem Road between Pond Road and Tackora Trail along the lakefront, a piece of property that was later designated as the King Lotts since it had been owned by adherents to the King.”
While the legend about the Burt family may be true, there may be another explanation for the name.
Although all of the Burts of Mamanasco weren’t Tories, two were – Benjamin, a son or grandson of the blacksmith, and David were. Evidently, the two fled the country. Two lots amounting to nearly 20 acres were among the Burt lake lands that were confiscated by the state after they left the country.
It wasn’t until 1804 that the state, represented by Joseph P. Cooke, Danbury District probate judge, got around to selling this land – 7.5 acres on the lake “being part of the confiscated estate of Benjamin Burt” and six acres belonging to Benjamin and David together.
The buyer? Lt. Joshua King.
Thus, it is quite likely that the “King Lotts,” a name that doesn’t appear in the land records until an 1856 deed, came from Joshua, and not the errant ways of the Burts. However, it may also be that the name made a lasting impression because of its double-meaning. It was, in effect, one of Ridgefield’s few place-name puns.
KING’S GRANT PARK
King’s Grant Park is a subdivision of nine lots off Seymour and South Olmstead Lanes.
The name is said to be derived from a tradition that this land and other property of the Seymour family came via a grant from a king of England. No mention of such a grant has been found in all town hall records, or in any of the histories of the town or region.
When in 1745, Jonathan Rockwell gave his homestead on Main Street to his son, John Rockwell, he described the three acres as being bounded on the west by “ye King’s Highway.”
The Rockwell deed contains the only recorded use of this term in the Ridgefield land records, and therefore it’s a rather interesting reference.
Main Street was part of a main route between New York, Hartford and Boston, and was considered for some time as the “Upper Post Road” to differentiate it from the Lower Post Road – now US Route 1 along the Sound. Mail and stages traveled the road and its maintenance and suitability for through traffic was generally supervised by the colonial government. Thus, it was a highway of the king’s government, or a king’s highway. It is like saying a “state highway” today.
Several towns in Connecticut, including Fairfield, Bridgeport, Chester, and Milford, still use King’s Highway as a road name. Many others probably once did, but quickly abandoned the term during the Revolution and never resurrected it. (See also Main Street and Post Road)
King’s Ridge is an informal term for High Ridge, used mostly during and just after the lifetime of J. Howard King, who died in 1900 and who maintained a summer place on the northern corner of Main Street and King Lane (q.v.).
The Rev. Daniel Teller reported in 1878 that Mr. King was responsible for beginning the conversion of the southern half of High Ridge from agricultural fields to the sites for the large mansions that still occupy the ridge. He planted many of the old trees that still line the street.
Members of the King family had much land on the ridge from the late 1700’s to the late 1800’s, and still maintained a little land there until 1923 when the last of the King holdings were sold.
King’s Way is the name of the late 1979’s subdivision off King Lane that is served by Jackson Court.
The developer originally suggested calling the road King’s Way, after the King family which once owned the property, but the Planning and Zoning Commission felt it would be confusing to have two King roads. (See Jackson Court, King Lane)
While our other “King” names all have a place in the history or legend of Ridgefield, Kingswood Lane has none. In some towns “kingswood” may have significance. However, in Ridgefield, it is, purely and simply, one of those meaningless, made-up names that the Planning and Zoning Commission has allowed developers to use, apparently on the ground that they are distinctive in sound and seemingly reputable in character.
In February 1978, in a story by Macklin Reid entitled “For Thou Art A Road and We Do Dub Thee...” The Press reported on the commission’s rather lengthy and sometimes entertaining discussion of what Finch Realty Company’s then-new subdivision road off Ashbee Lane should be called. Three names had been suggested: Kingswood Lane, by the subdivider; Clapboard Tree Lane, by this writer; and Nob Hill Place, by someone apparently embarrassed to admit its authorship.
“The commission had no problem disposing of Nob Hill Place, which all agreed would be easily confused with the existing Nod Hill Road and Nod Road – already confusing enough,” the story said. Good for the commission.
“Most of the commissioners also found similar objections to Clapboard Place, Clapboard Hill or Clapboard Tree Place – the variations increased as the discussion went on. Clapboard something-or-other roads existed in most of the surrounding towns, they said. Confusing again.”
By the same reasoning, our Main Street would be confused with Danbury’s. But road naming involves taste, and commissioners may also have felt the name was awkward.
Commissioners wondered why the name was suggested. A nearby ridge had been called Clapboard Tree Ridge (q.v.) in the early 1700’s, probably because good wood for clapboarding the sides the earliest Ridgefield homes was taken from trees there. Despite the commissioners’ belief that the name is common in the area, only about a dozen towns are listed as having “Clapboard” names in Connecticut Place Names, a huge compendium published by the Connecticut Historical Society. Nor is it a “low class” name, as some of the commissioners may have suspected; Clapboard Ridge in northern Danbury has some of the poshest houses in that city.
Kingswood itself is not without significance in some communities. In pre-Revolutionary times, representatives of the government would seek out the best trees in the forest and mark them to be felled for use by the crown, mostly in shipbuilding. Tall, straight trees for masts were particularly sought-after, for instance. These trees, bearing the “King’s mark,” would be considered “King’s wood.” (There were times, of course, when there was also Queen’s wood.)
Kingswood, Clapboard and Nob weren’t the only names the commission considered. The new road, explained Commissioner Daniel M. McKeon, “is right off Ashbee Lane (q.v.), which is named after old Charlie Ashbee. He used to dress up as Santa Claus. Maybe we should call it Santa Claus Place.”
“Mr. McKeon’s suggestion had some appeal,” Mr. Reid reported. “Commissioners Mark Erwin and Dr. (Nelson) Gelfman played with some variations – Santa Place, Santa Claus Circle ...” From here discussion wandered into the merits of lanes and drives versus circles and places.
“Mr. Chairman,” said an apparently impatient Joseph Heyman, “I would like to move that the road be named Kingswood Lane, the name suggested by the developer.”
“What about Santa Claus?” protested Mr. McKeon.
Mr. Heyman shook his head gravely. “I don’t think you should bring religion into road names.”
After commissioners eventually approved the name, two conversations were overheard during a break in the meeting.
“Your (own) name is religious,” Dr. Gelfman told Mr. Heyman. “It might offend someone to have to call you Joseph.”
The doctor, who voted against Kingswood, also confessed his reason for his dislike of the new name. “Kingswood,” he grimaced. “It’s a typically pompous name.”
A few feet away, Commissioner Erwin reworked strategy with Mr. McKeon.
“Maybe if we tried St. Nicholas Place?” he mused.
But it was too late.
Kish’s Brook Lane is an erroneous spelling in Connecticut Place Names, a catalogue of names published by the Connecticut Historical Society. It was probably a typesetting error for Kiah’s Brook Lane (q.v.).
Lake Kitchawan is the modern name for Cross Pond, which runs along the Lewisboro-Pound Ridge line in New York State. This line was once the western boundary of Ridgefield before the Oblong (q.v.) was sliced off from western Connecticut in 1731 in a land exchange with New York State that netted Connecticut what is now Greenwich.
The pond was the eastern boundary for the Kitchawong Indians, who roamed as far west as the Hudson River but who lived chiefly in Pound Ridge. Dr. Benn Adelmar Bryon of Ridgefield may have first applied the name. In the early part of the century, he started the development of summer cottages or camps around the lake (see Bryon Avenue).
Knapp Estates is a small subdivision of 10.8 acres off Topstone Road. The Topstone Trading Company developed the land, formerly owned by the Knapp family, around 1979.
Knap’s Farm is an old place name, once applied to a section of town in the same fashion as Bennett’s Farm was. But unlike Bennett’s Farm, Knap’s Farm did not survive nearly as long, first appearing around 1740 and last in 1790.
Edwin Liljegren, a former Ridgeburian who was an avid student of Ridgebury history, contributed the following information on Knap’s Farm.
The story of Knap’s (or Knapp’s) farm really began in May 1697 when the Colonial Assembly granted to “Isaac Hall of Fairfield 150 acres of land to be taken up where it may not prejudice any former grant to any town or particular person.”
Hall had requested 250 acres for his service as a surgeon during a war. He must have claimed his land before the proprietors of Ridgefield purchased Ridgebury from the Indians, and by 1740 it was sold to Moses Knap, and it was known as Knap’s Farm. The area, however, continued to be called Zack’s Ridge (q.v.) in other references in the colonial records.
Isaac Hall and Moses Knap also both owned land in the Lonetown section of Redding, near John Read’s farm. (It is Read’s name that lent itself to Reading, now Redding.)
When in 1747 Moses Knap sold 100 acres to Josiah and Timothy Foster, and Nathan Sherwood, the name of Knap’s Farm pretty much died, although it appeared occasionally, including in deeds of 1750, 1751, and 1790.
The land was a coffin-shaped parcel, lying along the southwest side of Old Stagecoach Road, which did not exist at the time. It includes much of the McKeon farm of today.
Two other parcels such as this were laid out before Ridgefield purchased the land. One was the Taylor-Benedict farm along George Washington Highway – an area called The Crank (q.v.). The other is the Sherwood Farm, lying on a hillside, which slopes to Mill Plain, an area later annexed to Danbury.
Knapps continued to own some land at or about Knap’s Farm at least as late as 1793 when William Knapp of Greenwich still had title to 14 acres “southeasterly from and near to Henry Whitney’s dwelling house” – now the McKeon home.
Knoche Road is another name for Pelham Lane, which runs between Nod Road and Nod Hill Road on the Wilton-Ridgefield border.
“Knoche Road” appears on modern U.S. Geological Survey maps, but generally not on other modern maps, which use Pelham Lane instead – and perhaps correctly so. For Pelhams predate Knoches as property owners in the neighborhood.
The Knoche family came to that area in 1893 when Robert W. Keeler of Wilton sold John and Joseph Knoche property in Ridgefield and Wilton along or near Pelham Lane. But John R. Pelham was already living there by 1888.
Thus, if the road should be named for the first of the two families to live there, it should be Pelham. But if it would be named for the family that has lived there longer, Knoche takes it easily because the Joseph Knoche family is still there. Joseph’s father, Joseph, built the fine stonewall along both sides of the road.
A sharp curve in the road near the Knoche property is called Knoche’s Corner, according to the late Theodore M. Meier in his 1975 report on the perambulation of the Ridgefield-Wilton line.
This road may be the same one referred to in the mid-1700’s as Ressiguies Lane (q.v.).
Knollwood Drive, which runs from Bennett’s Farm Road over Ridgebury Mountain to the intersection of Barlow Mountain and Old Barlow Mountain Roads, was built around 1960 by Robert Kaufman as part of his Ridgefield Knolls subdivision.
According to Edgar P. Bickford, surveyor on the project, it was the first road at the Knolls.
The road, not accepted as a town road until 1968, was originally called Topstone Drive after Mr. Kaufman’s Topstone Development Company. But Mr. Kaufman changed the name to avoid confusion with Topstone Road, which runs from Route 7 into Redding a few miles away from this development.
The road name is derived from the subdivision name, Ridgefield Knolls, referring to the knolls in the neighborhood.
Kopps Mountain is a version of Copp’s Mountain, frequently appearing in the land records beginning in 1786 when Benjamin Smith became the town clerk.
Copp’s Mountain, named for John Copp, the man who surveyed the town and was its first town clerk, is the hill parallel to and east of North Street.
Kores Boggs is a version of Cores Boggs or Core’s Boggs, a very old name for a locality in the Peaceable Street neighborhood. The place is mentioned as early as the 1720’s, and the spelling switches throughout the 18th Century between Cores and Kores.
The writers were probably trying to spell “coarse,” descriptive of the surface of the bogs or of the vegetation in them.