Entire contents copyrighted 2005 by Jack Sanders. Reproduction without permission is forbidden.
Park Lane in Branchville is an old road, based on a private path established by the Ancona family and others, and improved by Morganti Inc. It appears as early as 1934 on a town assessors' map. The road leads from Route 7, parallel to and south of Branchville Road, to Playground Road. It serves homes and is an access to the Branchville Playground, the town's oldest non-school playground, where youth league baseball games are scheduled.
Park Lane became a town road in 1955.
PARK VIEW ACRES
Park View Acres is the name of the 1964 subdivision of 23 lots off Wilton Road West, served by Acre Lane. It's not clear why the Symon Brothers Construction Company, which did the subdivision, selected Park View as a name - no parks exist in the area. Perhaps the Symons likened the view to that of a park. Acre Lane is less a mystery. Each lot is one acre in size. The whole tract totaled 23 acres.
Parley Lane may be the town's shortest through road, being only 200 feet in length between West Lane and High Ridge Road.
Parley Lane recalls the pen name of Samuel Griswold Goodrich, son of S. G. Goodrich, third minister of the First Congregational Church. Samuel grew up in the house on High Ridge at the head of Parley Lane. As Peter Parley, he wrote, outlined or edited hundreds of books and magazines in the first half of the 19th century, and is considered by some scholars to be the father of the modem school textbook.
Mr. Goodrich was born in 1793 in a house (no longer standing) near the comer of West and Golf Lanes, where his father had moved in 1789. When young Samuel was four, his father had a new home built on High Ridge on four acres that he had purchased in 1794. Samuel spent his childhood there, and left in 1808 to work in a Danbury store and eventually wound up in the publishing field. Literally millions of his books - chiefly histories, biographies and geographies - were sold in the 1800s.
His autobiographical Recollections of A Lifetime, published three years before his death in 1859, has more than 200 pages on growing up in Ridgefield at the turn of the 19th Century and is a unique look at the life and characters in this community two centuries ago.
Parley Lane may have been built to bypass the original route of the southern end of High Ridge Road. An engraving, based on a photograph, that appears in Teller's History of Ridgefield (1876) shows High Ridge Road turning into Parley Lane - no southern extension of High Ridge is shown.
That southern extension definitely existed by then, for it is shown on older maps. But the engraving suggests that the Parley Lane path was more popular - it is much flatter and easier to negotiate. (Even today, quite a few motorists, especially in winter, will avoid High Ridge and use Parley Lane.)
The lane was probably established informally to avoid the steep end of High Ridge. And it was formally established in 1851 when Isaac Lewis sold the Town of Ridgefield, for all of $5, a strip of land two by 15 rods "leading from ... West Lane to the High Ridge, so called, near on in front of the dwelling house of Hugh S. Banks (the Parley house), for the use and purpose of a public highway, the same having been used and occupied for said purpose for a number of years under a lease from me to Rev. Samuel M. Phelps."
Either Mr. Phelps, minister of the First Congregational Church from 1817 to 1829, was a public-spirited citizen who decided to arrange for the more convenient Parley Lane path to help those with horse-drawn vehicles, or perhaps he arranged the lease for his own convenience.
For many years, the only house on Parley Lane was an ornate Victorian style place, built before the turn of the century by William O. Seymour after his career as a civil engineer and bridge builder in the Midwest. Mr. Seymour had earlier conducted a private school in the parley house. Later he was a state legislator, judge of probate, and state railroad commissioner.
The east lawn of the Seymour house was divided off in the 1900s, and a new house built on it. Consequently, there are now two addresses on Parley Lane.
Parley Lane was so called at least by 1912 when the name appears on a property survey. A 1936 map says "Parley Street."
Parley Road, named by Lewis J. Finch for Peter Parley, is situated at Mr. Finch's 1958 subdivision, Chestnut Hills, in Ridgebury. It runs between the northern ends of Harding Drive and Twopence Road.
Samuel Goodrich had no connection with the property and a second road named for him serves only to confuse people, including police officers, firefighters and mail carriers. Just this spring a visitor from New York spent 10 minutes talking to this writer on
West Lane, trying to figure out if the person he was looking for lived a quarter mile away on Parley Lane or six miles to the north on Parley Road. The directions he was given seemed to indicate Parley Lane, but he had written down Parley Road. He finally opted to wander the roads of Ridgebury, looking for the Road.
Parley Road became a town road in 1964.
The late Beverly Crofut reported in 1979 that Parlor Rock was an early 20th Century name for a large, flat-topped rock where Ridgeburians - especially members of the Keeler and Selleck families - used to picnic.
"It was almost like a great big room," said Mr. Crofut. "Nature's own picnic area." The site overlooked the Spring Valley - "a beautiful view," he said.
The rock is off lower Ridgebury Road south of Regan Road.
There is a Parlor Rock in Trumbull, so called because of a natural circular recess which someone likened to a parlor. It was once the center of a well-known amusement park, established in the 1870s by the Housatonic Rail Road. Perhaps our rock got is name from someone's recalling Trumbull's more famous one.
A portion of the subdivision along Field Crest Drive was called Parting Brook Estates in a 1955 document.
On the border of Wilton and New Canaan is a stream named Parting Brook, so called from at least 1742 because it formed part of the two towns' line - or the parting of the towns.
While the Field Crest Drive neighborhood is very near the Wilton-Ridgefield line, it is possible that the subdivision name referred to a pair of streams on the property that converge at a pond just to the north.
Partridge Drive, part of the Ridgefield Knolls, is a dead-end road off Old Stagecoach Road. Although the subdivision dates from 1959, the road did not become a town highway until 1968.
According to the late Edgar P. Bickford, a surveyor on the Knolls project, the name was selected because of the large number of "partridges" noted by field crews when the land was being surveyed and lots laid out.
The first houses developed at the Knolls often suffered from the unusual problem of having these large wild birds fly into the reflections in picture windows, breaking the glass, Mr. Bickford said in a 1975 interview.
The term "partridge" is technically incorrect, and refers to Old World species of the quail and pheasant family. The ruffed grouse, the common game bird, is probably what is meant.
The grouse, incidentally, teaches us something about ourselves: the bird is tame when it lives in the wilderness, but wary when it lives near man.
Pasture Lane is one of those roads that exist only on paper, but occasionally appear in deeds. In this case, the dead-end road was part of the 1957 subdivision of 100 acres in Ridgebury by Herman J. Leffert and others.
The subdivision is now Ridgebury Estates, although the Leffert plan does not match the layout that was developed as Ridgebury Estates by Jerry Tuccio. However, it appears that Pasture Lane, situated off what became Beaver Brook Road between Briar Ridge and Chipmunk Lane, is now an accessway serving two or three homes.
The name reflected the former use of the land. The main road through the Leffert subdivision plan was called Old Farm Road, and follows a path similar to Beaver Brook Road.
More than a century old, Peaceable Street is not a new name, dreamed up a 20th Century developer to add "class" to a neighborhood. Yet, it may well have been devised by a 19th Century "developer" to add class to west-central swamplands.
Peaceable Street, which at 1.6 miles is one of Ridgefield's longer town-owned roads, runs from the intersection of High Ridge Road and King Lane westward to Old South Salem Road near the New York State line. It serves the same purpose as Route 35 (West Lane and South Salem Road - together, the old Bedford Road), but was apparently not as popular years ago because it traversed some pretty swampy territory plus had a steep hill east of Golf Lane.
The name's first appearance on the land records is found in an 1869 quit-claim deed for 16 acres "in Peaceable Street."
The next mention occurs in an 1870 deed in which David K. Hoyt sells the "Ridgefield and New York Railroad" an acre "situate near the house of Sally Keeler in Peaceable Street so called." (It is ironic, perhaps, that this second appearance of Peaceable occurred in a deed to a railroad that, if it had been built, would hardly have contributed to the "peace" of the neighborhood. As it was, the railroad, which was to have run to a station at Titicus, never got on the tracks, thanks probably to the new line that was run from the Danbury and Norwalk Rail Road at Branchville to the center of town. This made a second track to a village of 1,000 or so people rather impractical, even though it would have been a much straighter shot down to New York City.)
Why Peaceable? A nice name. Perhaps it was an early example of the modern "pretty" names, aimed at making neighborhoods sound attractive. Names like Sleepy Hollow, Kingswood, Sunset, Rainbow, etc. And back then, perhaps even Florida (q.v.).
Around the time that Peaceable Street began appearing in deeds, J. Howard King started improving High Ridge in an attempt to woo wealthy New Yorkers to Ridgefield where they could build their massive summer places. Several such country homes were erected on High Ridge Road and eastern Peaceable Street, and it is possible that Mr. King coined "Peaceable" in an effort to add character to the neighborhood overlooked by High Ridge.
The name is not without merit. The neighborhood was probably peaceable. It was mostly land for farming, a rather quiet occupation in the 1800s.
A postcard from around 1910 labels King Lane at Main Street as being Peaceable Street.
PEACEABLE HILL ROAD
Peaceable Hill Road is an old highway that runs from Peaceable Street up the south side of Blacksmith's Ridge on West Mountain.
For many years, it ended at the east end of Yankee Hill Road near Peaceable Ridge. Originally - since before 1856 - the road proceeded farther north and came out at Oscaleta Road. For most of this century, this extension of Peaceable Hill Road had been an abandoned dirt highway, but in 1980, the road began to be re-used as Anthony Czyr's Red Oak Corporation began developing a subdivision along its borders.
Peaceable Hill Road is a modern term, taking its name from Peaceable Street, of which it is a sort of northern branch. The name was in use by 1946 when it appears on the town's first zoning map.
PEACEABLE RIDGE ROAD
Peaceable Ridge Road is one of several roads whose naming was a mistake. In its case, however, the naming gained national publicity.
Extending from Peaceable Hill Road to West Mountain Road over what was once called Blacksmith's Ridge (q.v.), Peaceable Ridge Road was originally known as Standpipe Road (q.v.). However, in 1960, most of the residents of the road decided that Standpipe Road - named for the pair of Ridgefield Water Supply Company pressure-building standpipes along the road - was unattractive. All but one resident of the road petitioned the selectmen for a change.
This attracted the attention of the late Harry Golden, noted humorist, author and nationally syndicated columnist. His column of June 30, 1960, as it appeared in The New York World Telegram under the headline "A Case of Economy on Standpipe Road," follows:
"Up in Ridgefield, Conn., one of the famous commuting towns in Fairfield County, there are 22 residents on Standpipe Road who want the name of their street changed to Peaceable Ridge.
"According to The New York Times, Standpipe Road got its name years ago from two big standpipes, part of the town's reservoir system, both of which still stand, guarding the road.
"But the name won't do. The residents of Standpipe Road have gotten up a petition asserting they would rather have their mail delivered to a place called Peaceable Ridge because that name bears 'some allusion to the natural characteristics of the road rather than one descriptive of an artificial utility.'
"No sooner was the petition drawn than the name of Peaceable Ridge became a misnomer. One resident cast dissension. He doesn't want the name of the road changed. He said Standpipe Road is not only a distinctive name, and accurate, but also very New Englandy. The town selectmen were perfectly willing to honor the petition, but they're not so sure now.
"Decades from now people will drive along Peaceable Ridge or Standpipe Road and comment, 'They used to fight about the name of this road.' Perhaps they ought to call it 'Nonunanimity Range" or 'There's-Always-One-Man Hollow.'
"In the suburbs, people are very interested in the right name, or in the right word. No one in the suburbs ever says, 'We're broke' or 'We have no money.' They say, 'We are economizing.'
"I talked to a little seven-year-old suburban girl who had a bright red lunch box. I told her it was very pretty and she said it was brand new. I told her she must have been a good girl to have received such a pretty present and she said, no, she got it because her family was 'economizing.'
"All those economizers out on Peaceable Ridge are getting more and more exact in inventing new words to describe where they live and what they do. But they do it all by code."
Less entertaining than Mr. Golden's column is the fact that the road's name was changed from something distinctive to something confusingly similar to three other road names: Peaceable Hill and two Peaceable Streets (the second being a small portion of a Redding road that enters Ridgefield in Branchville). In an emergency, such as a fire or heart attack, the response might be to western Peaceable Street or Peaceable Hill instead of Ridge. Confusion could take a fire truck or ambulance nearly two miles and several long minutes in the wrong direction.
If a new name were necessary - and we side with the lone dissenter who found Standpipe Road distinctive, accurate, and New Englandy - something less confusing should have been chosen.
Peaceable Ridge Road is not a particularly old road. It does not appear on 1956 or 1867 maps of the town, but does show up as a path on a 1912 map.
In the early 1980s, the older one of the two standpipes collapsed in the middle of the night, and now only one pipe stands on the road once called Standpipe.
In 1730, the proprietors gave James Benedict a deed for 90 acres "lying at ye south end of ye Peach Pond." This is the first reference in the Ridgefield Land Records to Peach Lake, the body of water now in North Salem and Southeast, N.Y., but once part of Ridgefield. The southern half of the lake was acquired by the proprietors in the Fifth Purchase from the Indians in 1729, and was lost in 1731 when the Oblong (q.v.) was ceded to New York colony.
The Indians called Peach Lake or Pond "Pehquennakonck" (q.v.). It is likely that Peach was merely an abbreviated version of the polysyllabic Indian word, and that there was no real connection with the fruit tree in naming the lake.
During the middle decades of this century, Peach Lake was, like the Ridgefield Lakes, largely a summer cottage community. It now has many year-round homes.
Peatt Park is a 1920s subdivision that includes Washington Street, Lafayette and Rochambeau Avenues, all off Copps Hill Road.
The 47-lot subdivision, built on what was once an apple orchard, was named for its developer, William T. Peatt Sr., born in nearby New York state in 1886 but a Ridgefielder much of his life. He served with the Army in World War I during which he was wounded and gassed. He came to Ridgefield after the war, around 1919, and filed the subdivision plan in 1928.
Besides building homes at Peatt Park, he established the Peatt Resort, consisting of summer camps and a beach at Lake Mamanasco. His family was still operating the beach and snack bar in the early 1980s.
In 1945, Mr. Peatt moved to Florida where he died in 1978 at the age of 92. The Peatt family, including his son William T. Peatt Jr., has been prominent in Ridgefield over the years. Members have served the community in various ways such as on the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department and the Board of Education.
Ridgefield historian Richard E. Venus tells of a small dispute that arose many years ago when Mr. Peatt wanted to connect his subdivision to the Mountain View Park development of Conrad Rockelein, just to the east. The connection would have occurred through a ravine that separates Rochambeau Avenue and Mountain View Avenue. Mr. Rockelein owned the ravine land, however, and was adamantly opposed to the connection, believing it would become a short-cut and a speedway through a quiet residential neighborhood.
"Con feared that such a move would create a race track for some of the cowboy drivers," Mr. Venus wrote in the 1980s. "It sure would have made a great roller coaster, unless the ravine was filled in."
Peck Hill is an early 19th Century name that, like so many others, has disappeared from our geography. The name first appeared in a deed in 1824 when Jeremiah Smith sold Nathan Gould Stebbins seven acres "on Peck Hill." It last appears in an 1844 deed wherein the name is "Peck's Hill."
The hill is that ascended by the dead-end leg of Continental Drive, off the west side of North Salem Road. It reaches 730 feet above sea level.
Although Pecks were among the earliest settlers of Fairfield County and several Peck families owned land in early Ridgefield, there is no record of a Peck having property anywhere near this area. The land-owning Pecks were on the Danbury border at Starrs Plain or in Ridgebury.
Thus, the name may recall some Peck who leased, rented or otherwise lived on the hill around the turn of the 19th Century.
The late Karl S. Nash enjoyed telling a story about Fred Peck, a well-known Ridgefielder early in the 20th Century. Mr. Peck married Arabella Waite, and their large family lived in the 1920s in a house on the corner of what is now Copps Hill Plaza. Dr. William H. Allee, who engineered a town hall minstrel show a little before the Pecks were married, came up with this line at the performance: "If Fred Peck was in a hurry, would Arabella wait?"
For much of the 20th Century, Ridgefield's best known Peck was Louise D. Peck, a popular conservationist. Though the hill of her surname is not far from her home, she lived not on Peck Hill, but on Woodpecker Hill.
One of the most fascinating and colorful names of Ridgefield's past, Peespunk appears in only very early deeds, though not infrequently. It reflects a little-known custom that was practiced by the first Ridgefielders - the American Indians.
The name first shows up in a 1712 deed in which the proprietors granted "Milford Samuel Smith" land lying on both sides of "Peespunk Spring."
In a later but undated deed (possibly 1717), the proprietors "granted unto ye said Samuel Smith" 10 acres "lying near ye Peespunk Brook." The reference suggests that the brook was near "Tackora's House." Tackora, an Indian leader, had an "old house" on the Titicus River near the New York State line, according to one of the settlers deeds from the Indians.
Also around 1717, the proprietors gave Daniel Olmsted an acre at Peespunk Brook, bounded on the west by "James Wallis" land. The Wallaces settled the area on the Ridgefield-North Salem line, and much of their holdings eventually became New York land when the Oblong (q.v.) was ceded in 1731.
These and other deeds make it clear that the Peespunk Brook and Spring were around what is now the New York line in the Titicus Valley. The fact that the name appears in deeds written after 1731 indicates that at least part of Peespunk was in Ridgefield. Some later deeds suggest that it was along North Salem Road, possibly on the west side.
Eventually, deeds simply referred to land "at Peespunk," suggesting that the locality was so well known that it became the name of a whole neighborhood. The word appears in various forms, including Pease Punk (1718) and Peas Punk (1745).
Peespunk is an unusual and interesting word that offers a glimpse of local Indian life not previously noted by Ridgefield historians.
Also spelled Peace Punk, Pesuponck, and Pissepunk in other parts of southern New England, the word comes from "pesuppau-og," meaning "they are sweating." It appears in the languages of the Narragansett and the Paugusett tribes; the latter lived in parts of Fairfield County.
A peespunk or "sweat lodge" was an especially tight hut or cave where Indian men built hot fires and took ceremonial sweat baths. Roger Williams, leader of the settlers of Rhode Island, described such sweathouses where the men went "first to cleanse their skin, secondly to purge their bodies...I have seen them run (summer and winter) into brooks to cool them without the least hurt."
John C. Huden said, "several such place names are found throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island and New England. For instance, in the southwest part of Huntington, Conn., there is a Pissepunk Hill.
"This hot house," said Jonathan Trumbull in his Indian Names in Connecticut (1881), "is a kind of little cell or cave, six or eight feet over, made in the side of a hill, commonly by some rivulet or brook; into this frequently the men enter after they have exceedingly heated it with store of wood, laid upon an heap of stones in the middle.
"A lot at Indian Hill in Portland (Conn.) is called Hot House Lot, because it had one of these...and a swamp opposite Saybrook Point in Lyme is called Hothouse Swamp for the same circumstance."
Thus, long before the Finish custom had become a fad in this nation, our American Indians were appreciating saunas.
Pehquennakonck was the Indian name for Peach Lake, the body of water in North Salem and Southeast, N.Y., the lower half of which was in Ridgefield before the Oblong was ceded to New York Colony in 1731.
According to Place Names of Westchester County by Richard M. Lederer Jr. (1978), the word means "the nearby high place," perhaps referring to an adjoining hill.
In the language of the Narragansett Indians, paquananauke meant "battle field" or "slaughter place." If Pehquennakonck is related to that word, it may have referred to some ancient Indian fight that took place nearby.
However, the name may be connected with the Paugusett word, Pequonnock, which means "a small plantation."
Pehquennakonck does not appear in our land records. George L. Rockwell mentions it in his History of Ridgefield (1927) and various state histories record the word.
It is thought the name "Peach" Lake is but a corruption of the old Indian word.
Pelham Lane is a narrow country road that runs along the Ridgefield-Wilton line between Nod Hill Road and Olmstead Hill Road (the Wilton extension of Nod Road).
The road does not appear on either the Clark (1856) or Beers (1867) maps of the town, but may nonetheless have existed in the form of a farm road from the 1700s. It may, in fact, have been the westerly end of the Old Town Road (q.v.), a highway that begins at Route 7 in Branchville and, in the mid-1700s, extended into this area. It may have been called "Ressiguie's Lane" (q.v.) then.
Pelham Lane takes its name from John and Amy Pelham, farmers who were living there by 1888 and perhaps as early as 1874 and left by early in this early.
Longer residents of the road are the Knoche family (pronounced knock-ee). Joseph Knoche, who with John Knoche bought a Keeler homestead there in 1895, built the handsome stonewall that lines the eastern end of the road in the Weir Farm area. The family still lives along the road. Consequently, the road has frequently been called Knoche Road, and is so labeled on the U.S. Geological Survey maps.
However, the Town of Ridgefield and most mapmakers have preferred Pelham Lane, probably the earlier name.
The road has for years been a small sore spot in relations between the towns of Ridgefield and Wilton. Because it runs along the border, sometimes right on what has been considered the towns' line, there have been some disagreements about how much of the roadway each town should maintain.
Back in the late 1960s, First Selectman J. Mortimer Woodcock tried to get both towns to share the cost of a survey of the town line, but was unsuccessful because Wilton officials, at least, felt the survey would cost more than it was worth.
Perhaps as a consequence of this territorial uncertainty, the pavement of Pelham Lane has at various times in its recent history been in extremely poor condition. In 1972, the president of the Twin Ridge Homeowners' Association, whose neighborhood is on the north side of Pelham Lane, wrote First Selectman Joseph J. McLinden (coincidentally a Twin Ridge resident at that time), complaining of the poor condition of the highway and calling it "the Burma Road."
In his 1975 report on the perambulation of the town lines, Theodore M. Meier, perambulator, discovered the existence of a "sliver" of some 40 acres between Ridgefield and Wilton - from Pelham Lane to Branchville - whose town of ownership is uncertain because of differences between the mapped town line and an old town line formed by stone walls.
"The Ridgefield-Wilton line has never been surveyed," Mr. Meier said. "A survey was proposed in 1966 and again in 1970, but was not accomplished as the towns did not budget the item in the same years. Quotations for the cost of surveying and mapping the line and setting monuments was about $10,500 in 1966 and ranged from $20,000 to $40,000 only four years later. Since applicable laws give precedence to the old stone bounds and prior land use and occupation, it is doubtful that a survey would result in Ridgefield's acquiring the 'sliver' territory."
The 1958 subdivision map for Brookview Estates, which includes Aspen Mill Road, Kiah's Brook Lane, and lots on Ledges Road, labels Kiah's Brook (q.v.) as "Penny Brook." This is odd, since one of the road names in the subdivision comes from the correct name of the brook. Why call the road Kiah's Brook and the brook Penny?
Fortunately, the map is about the only place where Penny Brook appears, except for a couple of deeds, and the name has never caught on.
Occasionally, old deeds will use the term, "pent highway," such as in describing land "bounded on the north by pent highway." The term is not really a road name, but a phrase that refers to a road that has been blocked off by fences or other means.
Usually, these were old town roads that fell out of use and were acquired by the adjoining property owner or owners, who pent them to prevent their use by the public. A pent road could also have been a town-owned road that remained town owned, but for which the selectmen gave permission to have blocked off.
Peppeneegek or Peppengheck, an Indian word that appears in various spellings, was the original name for Cross Pond (q.v.) and/or Cross River on the Lewisboro-Pound Ridge border. Part of the locality was once in Ridgefield, but was turned over to New York in 1731. While "Cross Pond" appears in our Ridgefield land records, "Peppeneegek" does not.
The word, according to Nicholas A. Shoumatoff, an expert in local Indian languages, meant "land picked out, selected or looked at," or simply "selected land."
When the Solley family sold its homestead on North Salem Road to Miss M. Frances Trainor and Margaret Egan in 1955, the deed stipulated that "within two years from the date hereof and as part of the consideration of sale, the grantors agreed to construct a dam and reflood the pond formerly known as Perch Pond and to be called Craigmoor Pond."
Perch or Craigmoor Pond was a small pond on the south corner of North Salem and Craigmoor Roads. Fed by waters from Lake Mamanasco's outlet, it was in the 18th Century the pond that stored water for the famous Isaac Keeler grist milled, burned by the British, across North Salem Road. Subsequently, it stored water for an iron works and was called Forge Pond in the first half of the 19th Century.
If the dam cited in the deed was built "within two years," there is little evidence of its effects in 1994. The "pond" is mostly swamp. It was obviously named for the common fresh water fish that inhabited the pond when it was bigger and that can be caught in nearby Lake Mamanasco.
Perry Lane, a back road running between Whipstick and Rockwell Roads, is part of an old highway or path that once paralleled Main Street for a longer distance than it does today, and whose name recalls the most prominent medical family to live in town.
In the 18th Century, Perry Lane extended northward to Branchville Road about opposite East Ridge. Like East Ridge, it represented the rear line of the first lots laid out along Main Street, and was probably little more than a cow path. The road north of Rockwell Road may have been abandoned because the terrain was somewhat rougher than Main Street, and two north-south roads so close together in this area may have been considered unnecessary.
This route, from East Ridge south to Flat Rock, was said to have been traversed by some British soldiers during the April 1777 Battle of Ridgefield and on their way to the camp grounds at Flat Rock.
Perry Lane recalls the Perry family and specifically Dr. Nehemiah Perry Jr., third generation of a family of physicians who had been serving Ridgefield for more than a century. Dr. Perry had a house on the north side of the intersection of Main Street and Rockwell Road, and his property extended back to Perry Lane.
His grandfather, Dr. David Perry, a 1772 graduate of Yale, came to town around 1782 and was, for a while, a minister at the Episcopal Church as well as a physician. He died in 1812.
Dr. Nehemiah Perry Sr. was one of two of David Perry's sons to become doctors. Dr. Samuel Perry, however, moved to the South where he died in 1821, aged 38.
Nehemiah Sr. was probably the best-known of four physicians active in Ridgefield in the early and middle 19th Century. He was a noted chemist and spent much time experimenting with compound medicines, dyes, and spices, all of which were produced at his Glenburgh Mills and Chemicals Works in Georgetown. (Glenburgh was an early name for Georgetown.)
"Certainly many of the doctor's wares brought happiness to the housewife and efficacious remedy," wrote historian George L. Rockwell. Bottles that held Dr. Perry's patent medicines and embossed with his name are still occasionally being dug up from old dumps around town. One of the most famous of his concoctions was "Demulcent Compound for Coughs and Colds."
Dr. Perry died in 1866 and was succeeded in practice by son Nehemiah Jr. while another son, Samuel, operated the mill.
Dr. Nehemian Perry Jr. lived on Main Street until 1895 when he sold the place to the DePeysters of New York City (see DePeyster Lane) for the rather remarkable price - at the time - of $15,000. He apparently moved elsewhere to retire.
Pheasant Lane is a short, dead-end road off George Washington Highway, part of Scodon III, subdivided by Jerry Tuccio around 1972. The 1,565-foot-long road was finally accepted as a town highway in 1985 after lots along it were developed, largely by Carl Lecher.
Scodon III, an extension of the larger 1960s Scodon subdivision to the east, was one of the town's first major Planned Residential Development (PRD) subdivisions, under which smaller than usual house lots are allowed if large parcels of open space are permanently preserved. In this case, 30 acres of prime wildlife habitat was turned into a refuge.
One of the preserve's residents is the ring-necked pheasant, a native of Asia introduced in this country as a game bird. Larger than the ruffed grouse - males may grow to three feet - it inhabits bushy edges of woods and is often seen flying low for cover when flushed. Its call has been likened to the horn of an antique auto.
Pickerel Pond was an old name for Fox Hill Lake. The name was used in the late 1920s and 1930s, according to people who worked at nearby Outpost Farms at that time. Outpost used to cut ice at the pond.
Pickerels, kinds of pikes, are common fishes of weedy ponds and slower streams. The appearance of fish names in Ridgefield's place names is, however, extremely rare. Except for this and Perch Pond, there are only two, and neither is used any more.
PICKETT'S RIDGE ROAD
Few people today would easily recognize that this hilly, winding back road was once a major highway.
Pickett's Ridge Road is the correct name for what is now often called Great Pond Road. Back in the early 18th Century and perhaps until the construction of the Danbury and Ridgefield Turnpike through Sugar Hollow in the early 1800s, ravelers used this road from Ridgefield to Danbury. They went out Haviland Road and across Pickett's Ridge, whence a road went north through Starrs Plain and over Moses Mountain to Wooster Heights in Danbury. Parts of this route, used by stages, the military, post riders, and others, were abandoned after the flatter turnpike was put through. Pickett's Ridge, however, continued to be used as a route between Ridgefield and Redding.
The earliest map showing Pickett's Ridge Road is the Erskine-DeWitt map, drawn around 1780, although the road certainly existed long before that. The map shows a "Lt. Pickett" as a resident of the road in Redding, just before the highway north to Starrs Plain.
The Picketts of Pickett's Ridge probably came from Danbury; a John Picket died in that town in 1712. Indications are that Danbury Picketts had land in the Starrs Plain area, just north of Pickett's Ridge. By 1723, a Nathan Pickett is listed as a Redding resident, probably on Pickett's Ridge.
By the late 18th and the 19th Centuries, Picketts owned "enormous acreage" on Pickett's Ridge, reported Ebba Anderson, a historian of Redding.
Edwin D. Pickett, an offspring of this clan, enlisted from Ridgefield in the Army during the Civil War and was listed as killed on July 1, 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg. Ridgefield's GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Post, an American Legion for Civil War veterans, was named for Pickett at the suggestion of Aaron W. Lee of Farmingville, a founder of the post. A close friend of Pickett, Lee was wounded at the same time and woke the morning of July 1 to find his buddy lying dead next to him.
Pickett's Ridge was so called as early as 1840 when the name first appears in the Ridgefield Land Records.
Pierrepont Drive ascends Ridgebury Mountain from Barlow Mountain Road near Clayton Place to Twixt Hills Road, part of the 1961 Twixt Hills subdivision of Jerry Tuccio.
The road was named for Seth Low Pierrepont, whose estate, Twixthills, included all of the subdivision as well as the adjoining 312-acre state park, the Scotland School-Recreation Center sites, and other now-private property in the area.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Pierrepont was born Christmas Day, 1884. He was a nephew and namesake of Seth Low, his mother's brother, who had been mayor of New York City and president of Columbia University, where Mr. Pierrepont received his bachelor's degree in 1907. From then until 1913, when he came to Ridgefield and built his home, he was in the diplomatic service in various capacities in Portugal, Italy, Paris, and Chile. He was on domestic duty in the Navy during World War I and, in 1921 and 1922, was assistant secretary general of the Washington Conference on Arms Limitations.
In coming to town, he acquired various parcels of farmland, sometimes complete with houses which he provided for his employees, and assembled an estate of more than 600 acres. The property was so extensive that he hired his own private "police force" to patrol it. The house still stands, somewhat hidden in the woods off Old Barlow Mountain Road.
Mr. Pierrepont was active in town and state affairs. From 1921 to 1927, he served three terms in the state legislature where he was instrumental in the creation of the modern State Police Department. He was a member of the Ridgefield Board of Finance for 30 years - from its establishment in 1921 until 1951.
Mr. Pierrepont was president of the Fairfield County Farm Bureau, was on the Board of Directors of Berea (Ky.) College from 1916 until his death, was a president of the Ridgefield Library, headed Ridgefield's celebration of the Connecticut Tercentenary in 1936, was chairman of the Connecticut Salvage Committee during World War II, was an official of St. Stephen's Church for 40 years, led the building committee that erected the south wing of the "Old High School" in 1925-27, and was the first president of the Silver Spring Country Club.
At his death on March 31, 1956, The Press in an editorial observed: "His advice and guidance as a member of the Board of Finance for 30 years helped keep the town on an even financial keel through difficult and perplexing times of stress. Conservative by nature he was always prepared to defend his position on civic and financial matters with well-reasoned arguments...Like many other men of considerable means, Mr. Pierrepont performed acts of kindness and generosity without saying anything about them. He was a shy and gentle man of strong character."
Pierrepont Lake or Pond is a 40-acre artificial body of water created by Seth Low Pierrepont on his estate in 1936-37 (see Pierrepont Drive). Mr. Pierrepont himself called it "Lake Naraneka" (q.v.), under which name it is more fully described.
The term "Pierrepont Lake" came into use because it was easier to say (and perhaps to spell) and because it was Mr. Pierrepont's lake for so many years.
The lake borders Barlow Mountain Road, the Twixt Hills subdivision, and Pierrepont State Park. As with other bodies of water in town, gasoline-powered motorboats are not allowed on the lake.
PIERREPONT STATE PARK
Pierrepont State Park, long the town's only formal state park, consists of about 312 acres donated by Seth Low Pierrepont in his will. The state took title to the property in 1963, seven years after his death.
The parkland, which includes the 950-foot-high Barlow Mountain, was amassed by Mr. Pierrepont in the 1910s when it was mostly farmland. Today, the park is almost solely forest, with some trails first blazed in the 1970s and improved in the mid-1980s, a parking lot, a boat launching area, and a long stretch of shore along Pierrepont Lake - much of which is within park limits.
In his bequest to the state, Mr. Pierrepont prohibited any form of hunting at the park, and the state has followed his wishes, banning same.
Mr. Pierrepont had hoped and expected that his wife would bequeath or give the rest of their land to the state to make the park even larger. Her will, however, did not include such a bequest, and the land around the house was sold to Jerry Tuccio for the Twixt Hills subdivision (1961).
Pinchbeck Pond is a small pond between South Salem and Old South Salem Roads, opposite the Peaceable Street intersection, formed on one of the little tributaries of the Stamford Mill River.
The pond is named for the family who created the pond and owns part of its shoreline. The Pinchbecks also own the oldest Ridgefield business continuously operated by the same family.
Pinchbeck Nursery at Old South Salem Road and Peaceable Street was founded in 1895 by William Pinchbeck, a native of England who came to this country as a child. The nursery was first established in nearby South Salem, but was moved to its present location in 1903 when Mr. Pinchbeck built a single greenhouse. The business now has some 60,000 square feet under glass, and a couple of acres under cultivation.
Pinchbeck Nursery originally specialized in carnations, but as the market and tastes of Americans changed over the years, the family switched to roses. The nursery now carries a wide variety of flowering plants - from rare orchids to common annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees.
The business was headed for many years by William's son, Joseph G. Pinchbeck, who died in 1977. It was Joseph who created the pond in the 1920s, planning one day to build himself a home on a bluff overlooking it. He abandoned the plans when the state built the new South Salem Road cutoff in 1938.
Joseph's two sons, John and Joe - both graduates of the Cornell University College of Agriculture - now operate the nursery.
PILGRIM HILL ROAD
Pilgrim Hill Road, a dead-end lane off Danbury Road almost opposite Ritch Drive, was first shown as an undeveloped private road on a 1964 subdivision map and was approved about five years later. However, it wasn't until the 1980s that much development along it took place.
The name was picked out of a hat by the late Bartholomew T. Salerno, the subdivider, and has no historical significance in connection with Ridgefield.
The subdivision consists of six or seven lots.
PIN PACK ROAD
Pin Pack Road, an old highway running between Saw Mill Hill and Barrack Hill Roads, has a name whose origin is clouded in the past.
Legend has it that the road was named for a peddler who lived there many years ago. The peddler is supposed to have sold small household items, like buttons and pins, carried in a back pack or "pin pack."
The name itself is not that old. While the highway existed by 1856, when it appears on Clark's map, the first recorded name for it appeared in the early 20th Century when it was known as Roscoe Road for the Roscoe (Rusco, Rasco) family that lived there many years. "Pin Pack Road" was in use by 1960, but does not appear on the 1946 town zoning map.
As a child growing up in Farmingville early in this century, the late Karl S. Nash knew the round-top hill, northwest of the intersection of Farmingville and New Roads, as "Pine Hill." It was a local name, but not a new one.
In 1842, when William Hawkins sold Edwin Lee five acres in Farmingville, he described it as "at Pine Hill." The hill rises 750 feet above sea level, about 100 feet higher than the average terrain of Farmingville.
If there are any pines on Pine Hill today, there are many fewer than grew there at the turn of the century, Mr. Nash said.
Pines are one of the most common evergreens around here. White pine has been considered by some the most valuable timber tree in eastern North America, its light, soft, and straight-grain wood being free from knots and nearly free from resin. It has long been used for furniture and can be highly polished.
White pine favors rich woods, and is probably the namesake for most of our pine place names.
In sandy soils can be found the red pine. So called for the color of its bark, the red pine has become a rarity in recent years as most of the town's specimens were killed by a disease peculiar to that species. It is native to northern Canada and was introduced here.
Pitch pine or candlewood pine, so called because slivers of it were lit as candles in the 1600s and early 1700s, can also be found hereabouts in sandy soils. In fact there was once a Candlewood Hill (q.v.) in Farmingville. It is quite possible that Candlewood Hill was an early name for this locality.
PINE LAKE ROAD
Pine Lake Road is a long, winding path through West Mountain's woods, but only a small portion of it is in Connecticut.
The road intersects with Barrack Hill Road just before the state line and, 400 feet on, is in New York where it wanders through forests and fairly near Pine Lake in North Salem. Most or all of this area is owned by Westchester County, and is used for the Mountain Lakes Camp.
The road and probably the lake were constructed around 1908 as part of the extensive grounds of the Port of Missing Men resort (see Port Road).
Often called the highest point in Ridgefield, Pine Mountain is a long ridge in what is still wilderness in the northeast corner of the town, north of the Bennett's Ponds and Wataba or Rainbow Lake at the Ridgefield Lakes.
At its highest point, the mountain is about 1,010 feet above sea level, according to the US Geological Survey maps. Historian George L. Rockwell placed the elevation at 1,040 feet.
The mountain was so-called from at least 1835 when the name first appears in the Ridgefield Land Records. This part of town, hilly and rocky, was never homesteaded and instead served as a source of lumber for construction and wood for fireplaces and stoves of both Ridgefielders and Danburians - many of the latter owned land in this northeast corner. The name suggests that the predominant tree species was pine.
Much, possibly all, of Pine Mountain proper is today owned by the town as parkland. Part of it was acquired from the massive Ridgebury holdings of the late Otto H. Lippolt (see Hemlock Hills). Some was bought from the Ives family - whose most illustrious member, composer Charles Ives, is said to have found inspiration for his music in a family cottage that once stood on the mountain. IBM, which owns much land in the neighborhood, gave the town 35 acres, partly on the mountain.
PINE MOUNTAIN ROAD
Pine Mountain Road is an old highway that runs from Miry Brook Road in Danbury south to Mountain Road at the Ridgefield Lakes. It is probable that the western leg of Mountain Road (between Bennett's Farm Road and Pine Mountain Road) was the south end of Pine Mountain Road; the town's 1946 zoning map shows it that way.
There is also evidence that at least the northern section of Pine Mountain Road was once part of a fairly well traveled highway that connected Starrs Plain with Miry Brook, Mill Plain, and Ridgebury. Such a road was mentioned as early as 1792 and in the 1800s was repeatedly referred to as "a mountain road from Miry Brook to Starrs Plain."
Only the northern half of what is now called Pine Mountain Road is in use today. Probably because it was so steep and difficult to traverse, part of the road fell out of use long ago, and today is a dirt path. The road is not shown on mid-19th Century maps, suggesting it was not popular at that time or that mapmakers ignored the road because no one lived along it.
Not surprisingly the road takes its name from the mountain, just to the east of it.
Pine Mountain Road once presented an unusual problem for town officials. It begins in Danbury, crosses a bridge over the Miry Brook, and in a few yards is in Ridgefield. In the early 1970s Ridgefield residents of the road complained that the bridge over the brook was in such poor condition that fuel oil trucks were afraid to make deliveries for fear the heavy trucks would cause the bridge to collapse. They said Danbury didn't want to improve the bridge.
Danbury was not too interested in spending money on a bridge that led to Ridgefield and served few, if any, people in Danbury. However, after much negotiating between the two towns, a modest and narrow new bridge - basically a culvert - was installed.
Pinecrest Drive is a dead-end road off North Street, serving part of the subdivision called "Pinecrest."
The road was subdivided in 1958 by Richard Mayhew, an airline pilot who has lived on the road since then. He selected the name "Pinecrest" because so many white pines were found on the property. They were believed to have been planted by its previous owner, Dr. John J. Kiernan, a dentist who practiced in New York City and who died around 1955.
The subdivision of 22 acres into 13 lots also includes Sprucewood Road (q.v.), named for another tree found on the property.
Pisgah is a name that has often confused historians in towns where it has appeared. There has been no confusion in Ridgefield, however, for the name has gone unnoticed - or unnoted - by town historians.
That's probably because Pisgah appears only one time in the Ridgefield land records, applied to a hill in Ridgebury, quite possibly Pine Mountain (q.v.)
Often, the name is taken to be an Indian word or a corruption of one. Indeed, John C. Huden, in Indian Place Names of New England, says it could be an Abnaki word for "dark" or a Mahican word for "muddy."
"Many locations by the name are found in New England," he writes. One is in Vermont, very near that state's Mount Hor.
A reading of the Bible would reveal both Hor and Pisgah were mountains that figured prominently in the story of Moses. Thus, Pisgah is undoubtedly Biblical, not Indian, in origin.
In Deuteronomy 34, "Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan...as far as the Western Sea...And the Lord said to him, 'This is the land which I swore to Abraham to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to your descendants. I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not go over there.' " Thus it was from Pisgah that Moses saw the Promised Land he was never to set foot in.
Perhaps to the settlers, Ridgefield was a promised land. At any rate, when Andrew Wood quitclaimed 25 acres to Stephen Bennit in 1785, he described it as being "on the mountain called Pisgah."
Names of neighboring landowners suggest that Pisgah was in the northeastern corner of town, north of Bennett's Pond. It could have been Pine Mountain or perhaps Wooster Mountain, a little to the east.
This is rough territory, never used for agriculture or homesteads and limited to woodlots and hunting. Yet, Pine Mountain overlooks the lower hills of Ridgefield to the south and it could be said that it viewed a land promised to those two dozen or so people who migrated here from Long Island Sound communities in the early 1700s.
George R. Stewart in his Names on the Land offered another explanation of the use of the term. Early settlers "found the mountains strange and sometimes fearsome," he wrote. "In one way the names reflected this sense of awe. The English did not often name rivers for streams in England or the Bible. But mountains were constantly called for Biblical names."
Hills or mountains in Branford, Colebrook, Newtown, Oxford, Enfield, East Lyme, and Durham were named Pisgah. Often the term is used redundantly, as in Pisgah Hill in Branford, and Mount Pisgah. In Hebrew, pisgah means "hill."
In Newtown, in a 1714 deed, the name was spelled "Mountain Pizza."
Pisgah and Nod are the only Biblical terms uncovered so far in Ridgefield's geographical names.
PLATT'S MILL POND
Platt's Mill Pond is yet another old name for Miller's Pond on the west side of Route 7 north of Florida Hill Road.
Obadiah Platt bought the grist mill there in 1759 and operated it probably until the 1770s, one of a dozen people to run a mill there between its establishment around 1737 to the early 1800s. And, as in this case, the pond sometimes took the name of the miller - as in McDonald's Mill Pond, for a subsequent owner.
In the land records, "Platt's Mill Pond" occurs once, in a 1765 deed from Daniel Jackson to Ephraim Jackson for five acres "on ye west side of Platt's Mill Pond." Platt owned the mill then, for the deed mentions the land was "lying near ye grist mill of Obadiah Platt." Although Daniel McDonald seemed to have owned the mill by 1779, there is a 1786 deed that refers to land in this area as "near Platt's Mill."
An 1893 atlas labels the area around Branchville as "Plattsville." This is probably a mapmaker's error since that name has not appeared in any deeds or on any other maps of Ridgefield we have seen.
There used to be a Plattsville in Bridgeport near Trumbull and one in Easton near Fairfield.
Playground Road, aptly named, is a road that leads to the Branchville Playground.
The road was installed before the playground - it was built by the town around 1935 to gain access to the field which the Branchville Civic Association had purchased to create the town's first privately established playground for public use. In fact, it was the first athletic field that was not connected with the school system, said the late Francis D. Martin, who had been active for many years in the Branchville Civic Association. The association still owns the field - used largely for Babe Ruth baseball - and leases it to the town for $1 a year.
Playground Road runs between Branchville Road and Park Lane.
Pocconock Trail, sometimes spelled Pocconoc, is a dead-end road off Pin Pack Road. It leads through a subdivision, Pin Pack Estates, designed around 1965 by Lewis J. Finch and Jack Coyle.
Surveyor Michael Jaykus of Ridgefield named the road. He said he was inspired by a road of the same name in a New Canaan subdivision he had worked on.
The source of the name is unclear, but the name itself is not unfamiliar, appearing in at least a dozen Connecticut towns under such sundry forms as Poconock, Poconnuck, Poconock, Poquannoc, Poquannock, Poquannick, Poquannuck, Poquanump, Poquonach, Poquonock, Paquannuck, Paquanauge, and Pacquanach. When the Town of Ridgefield accepted the road in 1970, it spelled it Pocconock.
The term is generally translated as "cleared land" - a suitable name for a road through a subdivision! J. Hammond Trumbull, historian of Connecticut's Indians, wrote in an 1890 letter, "the Indian planting fields were pauque-auke, naturally 'clear, open,' or pauqu'un-auke, land made clear, 'a clearing.' After it had been once planted and dug over, it was pauquetahhun, 'open or broken up'...In one form or another, it is found in a dozen places in Connecticut and in other states of the Atlantic Coast."
Pocconock was also a tribe of Indians, members of the Wappinger Confederacy, who inhabited the area around Windsor and Windsor Locks. A postmaster of the Poquonock post office in Windsor listed 40 different ways of spelling the name on letters received at his office during the year 1882.
So, if you live on Pocconock Trail and people have difficulty spelling your address, it's a problem more than a century old.
In June 1716, Richard Olmsted sold seven acres to Thomas and Samuel Smith, describing the parcel as being on "Pompion Ridge." When Olmsted acquired the land from the proprietors four years earlier, the deed said the tract was on "Pumpkin Ridge."
And so it was for more than a century and a half: the terms Pompion and Pumpkin were interchangeable for the ridge that was later to be called Biddle Hill. It is situated at the western end of Old Branchville Road and near Branchville, Washington and Jefferson Roads, and Nutmeg Ridge.
Pompion, an old word for pumpkin, was a term often used by the English for this vegetable. Pumpkin is, in fact, a corruption of pompion.
The 1716 deed represented the first appearance of Pompion Ridge in the land records, although the term was probably used before that. A common name in the early 1700s, it continued to appear in deeds as late as 1854. Pumpkin Ridge, first used in 1712, did not as frequently appear in the 1700s, Pompion being preferred. Pumpkin becomes more common in the 1800s.
One deed, in 1785, called it "Pompkin Ridge," suggesting how the corruption of pompion to pumpkin took place in our language.
Both names tended to fall out of use by the 1860s and 1870s, although an occasional deed, using an old property description, would carry the term Pumpkin Ridge. The Edith Douglas Wettingfeld (1900-1976) recalled Biddle Hill's sometimes being called Pumpkin Ridge during her childhood.
The ridge took its name probably from vegetables cultivated by the settlers. True native pumpkins were found only in the West and Southwest; however, the English knew and grew pumpkins, which were sometimes called "English melons" or, corrupted, "millions." The English used them chiefly for food - soups, pies and jams - while early Americans also used them widely as fodder for cattle and pigs.
Species of squash, members of the same genus, were also called pumpkins years ago, and it is possible that some native plant found on the ridge, with a fruit that looked like a small squash, generated the ridge's name.
Pond Mountain is the steep hill just eastward of Bennett's Pond and so named because of its proximity to the pond. The first mention of the name occurred in the late 1700s when Nathan Sellick of Danbury sold James Sturges Jr. and others of Danbury seven acres "lying on ye Pond Mountain so called," and whose south boundary was "running a long ye brook running out of ye Buttonwood Swamp"(q.v.)
The name last appeared in the land records in 1830.
Pond Road may be the town's oldest dead-end road. Running from North Salem Road at Scott's Ridge down to near Lake Mamanasco, it was built as an access to the grist mill at the outlet of the lake.
The first mill, that of Daniel Sherwood, was erected around 1716 and by then, there must have been some small path leading down to the mill. And since several subsequent mills were operated there by quite a few different millers, the road remained in active use until the late 19th Century when, after he last mill closed for good, it became a hardly used path to a house or two. One can still see remains of the last mill (several were built on the site) from the end of Pond Road.
The first name for the road was probably simply "Mill Road." That name was used for it in a 1791 deed.
Though now it is a quiet, sleepy road, things were not always peaceful there. At least that is the impression given by the following 1843 entry in the Town Record Book:
The selectmen "being called upon to remove obstructions and nuisances on a certain public highway near the grist mill belonging to the heirs of Jonah Foster, late of Ridgefield, deceased, proceeded according to law to give notice to Charlotte Burt to remove the fence standing on the highway in front of her land, leaving said highway unencumbered, and on her neglecting and refusing to remove said fence...we...employed Francis Foster to remove the same."
However, something apparently went wrong - perhaps Charlotte stood out there with a gun. At any rate, the record continues: "Said highway which was held enclosed by the said Charlotte Burt, commenced on a point of the highway which leads from the Post Road to North Salem to said grist mill about rood east of the northwest corner of said enclosure...A new highway was laid out across starting at the north end of the old highway, and west over Foster's heirs and following the present traveled path to the mill."
A portion of the old highway that ran westward, then southward, was abandoned, apparently satisfying both the Foster heirs and Charlotte. Both Burts and Fosters had lived in that area for many years, and Burts owned the mill before the Fosters gained title to it. Perhaps there was bad blood between the two families - maybe stemming from the Revolution. Jonah Foster had been a captain in the colonial army while most of the Burts of Scott's Ridge were Tories who, during the war, fled Ridgefield for British-held territory.
Pond Swamp is a name that appeared only once in the land records - in 1799 - and apparently referred to land around the intersection of Craigmoor and North Salem Roads. The "pond" was probably Forge Pond, the small body of water at what is now the corner of the two roads. The swamp probably bordered the pond, much as the pond is almost surrounded by swamp (or has become all swamp) today.
The pond could also have been nearby Mamanasco Pond, not known as a "lake" until the 20th Century.
Ponded Swamp is another once well-known place name that has disappeared from Ridgefield's geography. Its use spanned more than a century.
The name began appearing in the 1730s. One of the earliest mentions was in a proprietors' grant to James Scott in 1733 for 10 acres "lying northerly from ye Ponded Swamp."
In 1740, the Select Men "laid out for a highway between Benjamin Stebbins and John Stirdevant('s land), northerly of Toilsom, two rods wide, this ye that runs up toward ye Ponded Swamp." The road was quite possibly Barrack Hill Road (q.v.), and Ponded Swamp was a section of West Mountain - probably the modern-day swamp on the northerly and southerly sides of Old West Mountain Road, near where it joins Barrack Hill Road. It was "ponded" because the swamp had a high water level; it was probably a dying pond, halfway between a pond and a swamp. Such is typical of small ponds, created by the last glacier. The streams from higher land brought silt that gradually filled smaller ponds. Today the swamp is probably not nearly as 'ponded' as it was.
The name appeared frequently in the 18th Century and well into the 19th. The last reference in the Ridgefield Land Records occurred in 1866 in a deed that spelled it "Pounded Swamp." Pound is a valid variation, as in "impounded" water.
An 1875 deed mentions 50 acres "near the 'Sugar Hollow' cart path where the state line crosses the Ponded Swamp Road so called." This Ponded Swamp Road may have been today's Barrack Hill Road.
POOR HOUSE LANE
This colorful name occurs once in the land records, in an 1862 deed in which the estate of Aaron Betts sells Clark Bronson land in Danbury and Ridgefield, bounded on the north "by the Poor House Lane, so called, leading from the Danbury and Ridgefield Turnpike Road on to the Mountain."
This property was bounded on the east by the turnpike, indicating that Poor House Lane went off the west side of the turnpike and up toward Pine Mountain.
What was probably this road can still be seen today, barely a path running off Route 7 just north of Bennett's Farm Road and almost opposite Starrs Plain Road. This is probably the same road that was occasionally referred to in the land records as the "Mountain Road leading from Miry Brook to Starrs Plain," an 18th Century highway that traversed Pine Mountain.
Why "Poor House" Lane? Probably because the town of Danbury maintained a poorhouse nearby in the Starrs Plain District. (Ridgefield's poorhouse was on North Salem Road in a house still standing at the corner of Circle Drive; see Town Farm.)
A poorhouse was a building that housed a community's impoverished citizens. In those days, this was not many people because families were closer-knit then and were more apt to "take care of their own" and even their friends. Far from being free room and board, the poorhouse put the inhabitants to work, usually farming the accompanying land. It may be that Danbury's poorhouse had land along this road. Whatever food that was raised and not used by the occupants of the poorhouse was sold to support its upkeep.
Poplar Road, which runs from Haviland Road to Linden Road, was part of a subdivision first proposed in 1955 and called Ridgefield Gardens.
The subdivision was designed by Gustave Iser, but largely built by Armando Salvestrini, who spent many years developing the neighborhood.
The road was so called because of the poplar trees thereabouts, planted probably by Outpost Nurseries, which owned this land for nursery stock from the 1920s until the early 1950s.
Poplars, including native species and those imported from Europe, are used both as ornamentals and for pulpwood, the latter use because they are fast-growing (and short-lived). The seeds, buds, and twigs are important food sources for almost all kinds of herbivorous wildlife in our area. Poplars include aspens and cottonwoods.
It is interesting that a simple, two-syllable word like poplar is frequently mispronounced. Many times we have heard it called "Popular Road." Nearby is Limekiln Road, often pronounced "limekin." And a popular version of Mamanasco among some oldtimers was "Manamasco."
Port Road was a common term early in this century for what we now call Old Sib Road. The name was short for "Port of Missing Men Road"- that is, the road that led up to the Port of Missing Men, a resort on West Mountain.
The resort was situated along the New York State extension of Old Sib Road, near what is called Titicus Mountain along Hunt Road in North Salem.
Henry B. Anderson, who had amassed some 1,750 acres in Ridgefield and North Salem, established the resort around 1908. The place was sometimes called Anderson's Tea House, and Old Sib Road was sometimes referred to as Tea House Road (q.v.).
The resort, which lasted into the 1930s, catered to wealthy New York businessmen and, by some accounts, their girl friends, and the acreage provided places for hunting, fishing, hiking, or perhaps secluded picnicking.
The name of the place came from a popular 1907 novel of the same title by Meredith Nicholson. At one point in the novel, Armitage, the hero, is hiding out in Virginia for political reasons. As he arrives at a secluded hunting lodge, his companion says, "Here is what they call the Port of Missing Men."
"Why the name?" asks Armitage.
"There were gray soldiers of many battles - yes? - who fought the long fight against the blue soldiers in the Valley of Virginia, and after the war was over, some of them would not surrender - no; but they marched here, and stayed a long time, and kept their last flag, so the place was called the Port of Missing Men."
So the fictional port was both a hideout and a hunting lodge, the same as the real resort.
Novelist Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, then a Ridgefielder, chose The Port of Missing Men as the title for her 1989 novel about an Olympic swimmer. In this case, however, the "port" was an ocean liner in the era just before World War II. "Like the classic Ship of Fools, The Port of Missing Men is both a refuge and a portent, a last harbor in a world about to go mad," says the dustjacket.
An 1843 property description says that North Salem Road connected with "the Post Road," i.e., Main Street.
A post road was a mail route, so called because it had "post houses" or post offices along it. Post comes from the French or Italian word for "station."
Today, of course, almost all highways are "post roads" since mail trucks travel many routes. But in the old days, a post road was considered to be a major highway - a sort of modern interstate - because it passed through the center of villages, was known to have establishments for food and lodging along it, and was in good condition - good for those days, at least.
For its whole length from the New York State line north to Route 7, today's Route 35 was one of the "northern" post roads, as opposed to the more famous "southern" one that is today called U.S. Route 1 or the Boston Post Road.
Mail traveled along our post road on the way from New York to Hartford and Boston, starting sometime in the 18th Century and lasting probably until it was replaced by train service.
None of the route in Ridgefield was ever formally called "Post Road" and it was rarely informally so called.
However, a portion of the route, a little almost-abandoned dirt road of Wooster Heights in southern Danbury, is still called "Old Boston Post Road." This is because the post road between Ridgefield and Danbury in the 18th Century followed a route that was east of the present-day Route 7, a highway not built until after 1800. The Post Road followed Haviland Road to Pickett's Ridge, then went north through Starr's Plain and over Moses Mountain, coming out via the "Old Boston Post Road" at Wooster Heights.
When the new Danbury and Ridgefield Turnpike (q.v.) through Sugar Hollow was built, post riders or stages used that route (see also Danbury Road).
The Keeler Tavern was probably the town's first post office and the only Ridgefield stop for post riders and coaches in the 18th and early 19th Centuries. It was conveniently situated in what was then the center of the business community of Ridgefield and the tavern provided stage riders with an opportunity for refreshment while mail was being exchanged.
The post road in New York State followed the old path of the modern Route 35. According to a 1797 surveyor's map of Lewisboro, this highway, as it led to South Salem Road, was called the "Boston Post Road," indicating that at that time, it was a major mail route.
In the 1980s, Westchester County historian Richard M. Lederer Jr. did research on the post roads. He was uncertain just when the mail started being carried from New York through Ridgefield to Danbury and Hartford. "A 1714 newspaper says that the mail to Boston alternated by way of Saybrook and by way of Hartford," he said in a letter to this writer in 1987. "The Westchester Road Commissioners laid out a road from Bedford to Ridgefield in 1737. The 1797 map of Lewisboro...shows both of the above as Post Roads. The historian in the Postmaster General's Office says the earliest mail service from Hartford was 1798 by way of Danbury, Ridgefield, North Castle, White Plains. A milestone in Scarsdale bears the date 1771."
Potash Hill is the name formerly applied to the hill on Wilton Road West (Route 33) just north of the Silver Hill Road intersection. The name was well known in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, but has been all but forgotten today.
The name was in use as early as 1831 when the Town Meeting voted to appoint a committee to investigate "the present traveled road leading from Ridgefield to Wilton ... over Flat Rock and Pot Ash Hill, so called..." for a new road. Interestingly enough, a debate over the path of this road lasted many years, and it was not until 1849 that the Town Meeting finally agreed to a straighter route over Potash Hill, one similar to the present road, that cut a quarter of a mile off the trip between Flat Rock Hill and the Wilton line. The old route went to the east, connecting to Wilton Road East, and can still be seen running through the woods.
However, it may not have been until many years after 1849 that the new road was actually installed. The straight section of Wilton Road West as it goes down the hill and passes Silver Hill Road and Fieldcrest Drive was built by the state around 1920.
Potash Hill, with Potash as two words at first and as one word later on, appeared frequently in the mid-19th Century land records. By 1871, the neighborhood had picked up the name. For example, when Jonathan D. Gray of Wilton sold John K. Gray of Wilton two acres, he described it as being "at 'Potash' so called." And a deed a year later between two Ridgefielders mentions three acres "at Potash."
The source of the name has not been ascertained, but it can be surmised that on or near this hill was a potash manufacturing operation, a common trade of the period. In the town of Torrington, a Potash Hill was so called because "a potash factory was in the meadow at its foot," according to a local history. In the town of Washington, another Potash Hill was so named because "potash is made at the foot of the hill," an old history of that town says.
Potash, a substance obtained by burning wood, was used years ago as an alkali in the production of soap. Water was poured through the ash to extract the alkali constituent. This was originally done in a pot; hence, "pot ash."
The late Karl S. Nash recalled that, in the 1920s, he found large quantities of a "white" substance on the surface of the land just west of Wilton Road East, a little north of Silver Hill Road. It was at the intersection of Wilton Road East with an old road, called Potash Hill Road, which connected Wilton Roads East and West - quite probably part of the old Wilton Road that the 1849 Town Meeting wanted to bypass. The white substance was probably the ash from the old potash operation.
In A Book of Country Things, based on oral interviews with Walter Needham about 19th Century life in Vermont, the farmer recalled: "If you look in most books about the New England pioneers, you will read where the settlers cut down all the trees and burned them for ashes.
"The Needham side of my family - my father, his father, his father, and his father - burned wood to make potash for soap; that was their business, selling potash, and had been ever since the State of Vermont started. They begun in 1794 and kept it up for three generations. But actually the fellows that wrote the histories got all excited for nothing.
"Good timber was just as valuable then as it is now, and the old-timers had better sense than to destroy it. What the settlers burned was of no value. It was old growth, either hollow or rotten or shaky or poor stuff; it had gone by, the same as an apple that has hung on the tree too long.
"When I was a boy, my own father told me that they was cutting trees and burning them for ashes. The old-growth hemlocks would be four or five feet through, all right, but they was hollow, with just a little shell on the outside. Sometimes they had hollows big enough for a man to get into..."
It is interesting that the 1849 description of the new route of Wilton Road West in the vicinity of Potash Hill mentions "the low land west of P(latt) Brush saw mill pond." It is possible that the scrap from the saw mill was used at a nearby potash manufactory.
"Potash" was also applied to a stream along the hill. Deeds in 1843 and 1851 refer to Potash Brook, probably the small stream that runs under Wilton Road West at the foot of Potash Hill, down by Silver Hill Road.
Pound Mountain is the hill north of Turner Road. It is now mostly in Danbury but before much of Ridgebury was ceded to Danbury in 1846, it was entirely within Ridgefield.
The hill, 860 feet above sea level at its highest point, overlooked an animal pound situated on or near the ridge east of the Ridgebury Congregational Church. The ridge was called Pound Ridge (below).
A pound was an enclosure - like a corral but usually using stone walls - to hold stray livestock, such as cattle and swine, as well as horses, until their owners claimed them. More than a half dozen of them were established around town at various times. The town government appointed pound keepers, at first called "keepers of the pound key," to hold the animals until their owners claimed them.
The name "Pound Mountain" begins to appear in deeds connected with the division of lands obtained by the town in the 1731 New Patent. Under this agreement, Ridgefield obtained Ridgebury territory north to New Fairfield.
In fact, Pound Mountain is shown on a map of "the 4th Twenty Acre Division Granted by the Proprietors of Ridgefield & Recorded January ye 23rd AD 1740/41...drawn from the Original by Benj. Smith, Proprietors Clerk, June 12th AD 1787." The map, on file in the land records in the town hall, was drawn 46 years after the original; it is possible that the name did not appear on the original map and was added by Smith because he knew that is what the hill was being called in 1787. While it is also possible that a pound was already established at the time of division in 1741, it's more likely it was created after the upper Ridgebury lands were more settled.
In 1737, the town authorized the establishment of a pound in Ridgebury on land set aside for the meeting house or church. At that time the meeting house site was near the intersection of Ridgebury and Ned's Mountain Road. Thus, this pound was probably not the source of the name.
In 1766, another pound was authorized, this one to be near the burial ground. This reference was probably to the still existing cemetery north of the still existing Ridgebury Congregational Church, which dates from the late 1760s.
However, it is also possible that yet another pound existed on Pound Mountain, though we have been unable to find a reference to it in early government records.
"Pound Mountain" does not appear in deeds until 1792 when Ebenezer and Sarah Pickett of Danbury sold Ezra Nickerson 13 acres "at ye north end of Pound Mountain so called." The last land record appearance of the name occurs in 1834.
In two deeds (1800, 1818), the name appears as Pond Mountain, although the place cited is clearly Pound Mountain.
Pound Ridge is an old name for the ridge situated north of George Washington Highway and east of Ridgebury Road, according to Ed Liljegren, a Ridgebury historian in the 1970s and early 1980s.
It was on and about this ridge that 4,800 French troops under Comte de Rochambeau camped around July 2, 1781, on their way from Rhode Island to the Hudson River to join with American forces for an attack on New York. Rochambeau instead eventually joined Lafayette at Yorktown.
The name appears in deeds written in 1824 and 1858.
Pound Street is the only one of several "pound" names (including New Pound Ridge) to survive today, but is also probably the newest of the pound names.
The road runs from Main Street just south of Joe's Corner and opposite Casagmo, west to New Street and a little beyond New Street. It is of early 20th Century origin, not appearing on 19th Century maps nor on one of the village drawn in 1900. Pound Street may have been developed in conjunction with the building of New Street around 1908. It originally extended across to Ramapoo Road, but most of that section has been abandoned.
The road was named for the animal pound, which stood on the northern side of the intersection with Main Street. The pound was established around 1797, possibly replacing one that stood at the lower end of Main Street "near the place where Matthew Seymour's trading shop stood" or possibly supplementing it. It served as a holding place for loose animals from the northern part of the village, plus Titicus.
The need for the pound had become evident by 1795 when the Annual Town Meeting voted that the new pound should be established on a 400-square-foot parcel on the west side of Main Street, just about opposite the Casagmo entrance. But the 1796 Annual Town Meeting rescinded that action and selected a site farther north on Main Street. And in 1797, the meeting voted "that ye pound near Samuel Stebbins' dwelling house be established." At the same meeting, "Samuel Stebbins, Joseph Grey and Cyrus Edmond were chosen to keep ye keys of ye pound(s)" in town. Edmonds' pound was probably down in Florida District; we do not know where Grey's was.
Some years ago, the late Robert A. Lee of Farmingville found a deed for the pound land in the papers of his grandfather, Aaron W. Lee, a first selectman in 1880 and 1881, who built a house near the old pound in 1888. This may have been a deed giving title to the old pound land to him.
No record of the town's acquiring the pound land in the 1790s could be found; perhaps it had already been town-owned or perhaps it belonged to Mr. Stebbins, and title did not transfer to the town until some years later.
The pound was maintained through part of the 19th Century, but by late in the century, neighborhood pounds had fallen out of use, apparently because fencing to keep animals under control had become extensive and better kept.
Powderhorn Drive, a dead-end off Farmingville Road, was named by Robert E. Roache, developer of the 30-acre former Wilder property, once farmland.
Mr. Roache "always wanted to be a cowboy," said one acquaintance. He wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, named the subdivision "Gun Hill Farms," and later moved to the West. The other road in the subdivision is called Old Musket Lane.
Mr. Roache bought the property in the spring of 1964 and immediately began building the first of the planned 23 houses. He was also developer of the earlier 17-acre Lantern Hills (Lantern Drive) subdivision.
Powderhorn Drive became a town road in 1968.
Rather than being a subdivision named by a would-be cowboy, Powdermaker Drive is named after a psychiatrist, surgeon and author.
Dr. Florence Powdermaker, along with her sister, Hortense, bought the 103-acre former Desmond place on the west side of upper Ridgebury Road in 1950.
In her obituary in 1966, The New York Times reported that "much of her career in medicine was devoted to the problem of making children feel secure in society." To that end, she wrote one of her two books, Children in the Family, later called The Intelligent Parents Manual.
Dr. Powdermaker earned a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1922 and a medical degree from the University of Chicago four years later. She studied in Europe under a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1928 and 1929, and went on to hold various positions in psychiatry in New York City. At one point after World War II, she was a consultant to the supreme allied commander in Japan; one of her specialties was treating servicemen shocked by combat in the war.
She was 71 at the time of her death.
Her sister, Dr. Hortense Powdermaker, was an anthropologist who taught at Queens College for many years. She studied many cultures, including that of Hollywood, about which she wrote the book, Hollywood, the Dream Factory. She spent some years in Ridgebury, but lived mostly in New York and was living in Berkeley, Calif., when she died in 1970 at the age of 69. A nephew, Allan Powdermaker, also lived on the property for a few years until he moved to New Jersey around 1969.
Part of the Powdermaker land is now Pleasant View Estates, Jerry Tuccio's last major development here, laid out around 1968. Powdermaker Drive is a dead-end road off Keeler Drive in this subdivision.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Prospect Hill is at the northern end of Prospect Ridge, the area around the old high school where the elevation reaches 750 feet above sea level.
It is a common name; more than 40 towns in Connecticut alone have Prospect Hills.
As best as can be figured, Prospect Ridge takes its name from Prospect Hill, which in turn takes its name from Prospect Street. Evidence is that the name "Prospect Street" existed before "Prospect Ridge" or "Prospect Hill" came into use. In fact, around the turn of the century, Prospect Ridge was known only as "East Ridge" and Prospect Ridge Road was East Ridge Avenue.
East Ridge is, historically at least, probably the more accurate name for the top of the ridge east of Main Street. Today, however, East Ridge seems to apply only to the land between East Ridge Avenue and Prospect Ridge Road, while Prospect Ridge applies to the land east of Prospect Ridge Road. It's all one ridge, but it's got two names.
Prospect Ridge Road extends from Prospect Street on the north to Ivy Hill Road on the south. It is a road that town officials have over the years eyed as part of a possible village bypass. But whenever the idea is proposed, opposition is quickly heard from those who note that a bypass means widening the road and destroying the rows of trees along the northern end. The last proposal to widen Prospect Ridge occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s during the administration of First Selectman Louis J. Fossi. The plan was abandoned in the face of vehement opposition, but town officials decided instead to make Prospect Ridge Road one-way southbound between Prospect and Governor Streets. That reduced the chances of auto accidents along that narrow stretch where people are often distracted by softball games and tennis matches on the parkland on the west side of the road.
Prospect Street is one of the most common road names in Fairfield County, and probably in the state and nation. Seventeen of the 23 towns in the county have Prospect Streets, Avenues, Lanes, or Drives. Interestingly enough, the six towns without "Prospects" also lack developed 19th Century villages or cities - Easton, Monroe, Redding, Sherman, Weston, and Wilton. Prospect Streets, it seems, are characteristic of older, developed villages and particularly of cities.
Prospect Street first appears in the Ridgefield Land Records in 1877, but as "Prospect Avenue." The Rev. Daniel Teller, in his History of Ridgefield published in 1878, uses "Prospect Avenue." In the same year, Mr. Teller mortgaged his house on "Prospect Avenue." The town's sewer map, drawn in 1900, shows "Prospect Avenue." When the switch to "street" took place is unclear. By 1946, "Prospect Street' was on the town's first zoning map.
The name was undoubtedly taken from the view of "prospect" one has from Prospect Hill at the top of east end of the road. From there, in the days when the land was almost treeless pastures, one could see the whole village. And one can still view the hills and ridges to the east for miles.
The Russians, incidentally, use the word "prospekt" as a type of road; prospekts are avenues of houses or long, straight streets; thus, Nevesky Prospekt in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad).
Prospect Street is one of our oldest roads, having been laid out at the Dec. 16, 1721 Annual Town Meeting as a "road eastward between ye homelots of Thos. Smith and Ebenezer Smith...thence to Joseph Keelers Six Acre Division and down to Great Swamp."
For many years and until a few decades ago, Prospect Street was traversable through Great Swamp to Blackman Road. The swamp portion was undoubtedly risky to travel in wet seasons, but a nice short cut when the swamp's higher lands were dry or frozen. Today, the road extends only to the old railroad bed; the section from Prospect Ridge to the end is often called Prospect Street Extension, and leads to the rear of Quail Ridge condominiums.
In the early part of the century, Prospect Street was often referred to as Depot Hill because the train station was in the valley between the two hills traversed by the street. The western end was also called Library Hill because it passed by the library.
Pumpkin Ridge is an old name for the hill at the western end of Old Branchville Road and near Branchville and Washington Roads, Jefferson Drive, and Nutmeg Ridge. It was later called Biddle Hill (q.v.).
The name, discussed previously under Pompion Ridge (pompion being another name for pumpkin), was in use as early as 1712 and as late as the turn of the 20th Century. It may have stemmed from wild, pumpkinlike plants found there or from someone's planting a large patch of them there.
George R. Stewart in his American Place Names says that "like most vegetables, (pumpkin) has given rise to few names, especially because it carries some derogatory connotation, as in 'pumpkinhead.' " It is for perhaps that reason that Pumpkin Ridge fell out of use.
Pump Lane is a short dead-end road built in the 1950s off lower West Lane near the New York State line.
The road is so-called because the Silver Spring Country Club once had a pump house along it. The pump house, long ago abandoned, supplied water for the club's golf course when it opened many years ago. It was installed in 1932 by Achille Bacchiochi, the contractor. According to his son, the late Joseph Bacchiochi, a small pond was dug near the road and water was pumped to a pressure tank that was still standing near the road in the mid-1970s.
The golf course is now watered from ponds, enlarged in the 1970s, along Silver Spring Road.
PUMPING STATION ROAD
Pumping Station Road, which runs from Oscaleta Road into New York state (becoming Petit Road at the line), takes its name from the Pumping Station Swamp, which it crosses. It is an old road, dating back possibly to the 1700s when it was probably a farm path. Later, it served as a short-cut from the upper village to South Salem, being shorter and less hilly than the old West Mountain Road route.
The road in New York isn't much different from what it was a century ago: a narrow, dirt path through wetland - then pasture, now woods.
PUMPING STATION SWAMP
Pumping Station Swamp runs along the west side of Oscaleta Road between West Mountain Road and Pumping Station Road, with some of the swamp extending south of Pumping Station Road. Its name stemmed, not too surprisingly, from a water pumping station in the swamp.
In the 1870s, Ridgefield began developing as a popular spot for the summer places of wealthy New Yorkers. Most of these large houses, either new or remodeled antiques, were situated in and around the village. This development was sparked by the laying of a spur rail line in 1870 from the main line at Branchville to the village, making travel from New York City to Ridgefield village fairly easy and comfortable.
In 1895, a sizable portion of the village business district burned in the worst fire in the town's history. The lack of trained firemen and of water to fight this blaze, plus the increased development and value of property in the village, led to the creation of the Ridgefield Water Supply Company a few years later to serve the village's water needs.
The first source of water was Pumping Station Swamp, where a well was put into use in the spring of 1900. From the well, water was forced by the pumping station to a standpipe on Peaceable Hill. A standpipe, higher than any of the customers, provides water pressure. The original standpipe lasted until the mid-1970s when, in the middle of one night, it collapsed with a huge roar, much to the chagrin of neighbors.
Around 1902, the company began drawing water from Round Pond, a natural pond that had been used for some early saw mills and as a source of ice. Nonetheless, the swamp's aquifer still supplies much of the company's water today from a deep well and, to protect the swamp's watershed, the town in the 1960s created the first three-acre house-lot zoning through the "Pumping Station Valley."
The water company owns 45 acres in and about the swamp, and much of the swamp south of Pumping Station Road is now permanently preserved town open space, acquired when the nearby development that includes Minute Man Road was subdivided.
Pumping Station Swamp may once have been known as Rattlesnake Swamp (q.v.).
In the proprietors' second purchase from the Indians, through Oreneca, on March 18, 1715, a portion of the boundary is described as "thence something eastward between the mountain and Mamanasquogg Pond to the lower end thereof, over a small run then named punch Brook..."
This is the only appearance of the name, which possibly referred to the small brook that now runs from Turtle Pond (Hidden Lake) to Mamanasco. (A "run," as mentioned above, is a brook.) The pond was created around 1908 by damming up the stream.
The origin of the word is uncertain. Punch had an old meaning of "short," but usually was applied to something that was also stout.
It is also quite possible that the word is an Anglicized version of an Indian word. If that is the case, punch could be a word based on the sound "pon" or "pown" which among southern New England tribes meant waterfalls or rapids. The stream suggested above drops some 75 feet in a short distance, and probably had some falls or rapids.
Paug or pauk was a sound indicating "pond," and punch might have been a version of this, referring to Mamanasco.
Or Punch could have been a shortened, corrupted form of Peespunk (q.v.) or Pease Punk, a locality that may have been in this vicinity, although deeds suggest that Peespunk may have been northwest of Mamanasco.
This stream may have been the same that was later called Ivy Swamp Brook.