Entire contents copyrighted 2005 by Jack Sanders. Reproduction without permission is forbidden.
Zack's Ridge is another of those 18th Century Ridgefield names that, unfortunately, fell out of use. One day, perhaps, it will be resurrected in a road name.
"Zack" was a nickname for Isaac, in this case, Dr. Isaac Hall of Fairfield. Zack Hall managed to obtain from the government of the colony of Connecticut a grant of 150 acres in what was to become Ridgefield but at the time was simply Indian territory north of Norwalk.
Research done by Ed Liljegren, a former Ridgeburian, indicates the Colonial Assembly gave the land to Dr. Hall in May 1697. The tract was "to be taken up where it may not prejudice any former grant to any town or particular person." Although Ridgefielders 11 years later paid the local Indians for the land they were to occupy, the Assembly apparently felt an Indian was no "particular person" and simply gave Hall the 150 acres in what's now Ridgebury. Such as the way the American government was to treat the natives for two more centuries.
Mr. Liljegren says the grant of Isaac Hall was a coffin-shaped parcel along the southwest side of Old Stagecoach Road (which did not exist then), and includes much of today's McKeon farm.
Dr. Hall had requested 250 acres for his service as a surgeon during an unnamed war or campaign. Little is known of the fellow. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England (1860) says he was a surgeon who was "perhaps born in England, for he took the oath of fidelity at New Haven 7 April 1657." He died in Fairfield in 1714, leaving a widow, Lydia, and at least two children.
In a speech before the State Medical Society in 1853, Dr. Rufus Blakeman, a prominent Connecticut physician, described the early history of the profession in the colony, and mentioned Zack. "Isaac Hall was also a physician of Fairfield, who died in 1714," Dr. Blakeman said. "But regarding his reputation, nothing special is to be obtained. In his nuncupative will on the probate record, he is styled Dr. Isaac Hall, but his inventory exhibits but a meagre amount of his professional remains ... Sylvester Judd Esq. of Northampton, who is most conversant with the early records of Fairfield County, states regarding him 'he was a physician and especially a chirugeon. He was employed by the government in some warlike expedition, and my impression is, that he was somewhat distinguished.'" ("Chirugeon" is an archaic form of "surgeon.")
The name "Zack's Ridge" shows up occasionally in old deeds, including one in 1747 when Moses Knap of Redding sold Nathan Sherwood, Josiah Foster and Timothy Foster "100 acres of land, lying in said Ridgefield, on Zack's Ridge so-called, and is part of an 150 acres originally granted to Dr. Isaac Hull of Stratfield." (Stratfield was a parish, partly in Fairfield and partly in Stratford, that later became Bridgeport. Hall and Hull were often interchanged in old documents.)
How the Knap or Knapp family got the land from Dr. Hall is not known, though Redding at the time was part of Fairfield, and Hall is known to have owned land near Moses Knap's place in the Lonetown section of Redding. Knap was apparently working the land, for by 1750 deeds were calling the area "Knap's Farm" (q.v.) instead of Zack's Ridge.