Note: Some of the out-of-print
books below are available at the Ridgefield
History Shop —see box above.
From the Introduction: "Wicked Ridgefield?
What’s with the 'wicked'? Local histories tend to
focus not only on the major events in a community’s
past, but also on the nicer ones. Any town’s life,
however, includes what might be called a wicked side —
an assortment of bad guys or bad times that may
include thievery, bigotry, murders, missing persons,
arson, and other assorted man-made misery. Often these
people and events may have been forgotten because they
were so long ago — or they may have been tucked away
because people preferred to forget them. This book
describes aspects of Ridgefield’s past that are
sometimes tragic, often sad, and occasionally
mysterious. Many accounts provide glimpses into the
lives that townspeople lived and trials they faced,
while others recall crimes and criminals that upset
those lives. In many cases, however, the worst events
can bring out the best in a community. People get
together, stars emerge, and improvements in how we
function as a society result. This look at the darker
side of Ridgefield history points out some heroes,
offers some lessons, and provides even a little humor.
But let’s face it, as anyone from Shakespeare to
Agatha Christie could tell you, bad news makes good
stories." By Jack Sanders. 160 pages. $21.99.
Available at Books on the Common, Ridgefield
Historical Society, Keeler Tavern Museum, etc.
Published in October 2016 by The
Hidden History of Ridgefield
From the Introduction: "Ridgefield’s people,
places and things seem to provide a never-ending
source of stories, almost all of them interesting and
many of them fascinating —such as the woman who became
one of Connecticut’s first female physicians, despite
having an abusive, drunken father; the man who
orchestrated a helicopter evacuation of more than
1,000 Americans from Saigon just before the city fell
to the North Vietnamese; or the Pulitzer Prize-winning
historian who found Ridgefield, as a place to walk,
more beautiful than a Burgundian village. A woman who
built one of the town’s most beautiful homes went on
to build one of Manhattan’s landmark skyscraper
hotels. Her neighbor was an unsung pioneer in the
world of vertical take-off aircraft. And from the
ridge on which they both lived, a boy who’d later help
Nathaniel Hawthorne get published would set out before
dawn to hunt Passenger Pigeons a century earlier.
These are just a few of the tales of “hidden history”
offered in these pages, a sort of sequel to Ridgefield
Chronicles... They relate little-known pieces of what
make Ridgefield a remarkable place in which to live,
work, visit—or write history. By Jack Sanders.
160 pages. Dozens of pictures and maps. $21.99.
Available at Books on the Common, Keeler Tavern
Museum, Ridgefield Historical Society, etc. Published
in 2015 by The
From the Introduction: "Every community
is special, with its own history, personality, and
local characters, but I like to think that, in many
ways, Ridgefield, Connecticut, is especially special.
After all, how many towns of its size have had six
Pulitzer Prize winners as residents? How many have had
a half dozen of its people featured on U.S. postage
stamps? And how many have issued medals honoring the
nation’s most notorious traitor? Ridgefield has been
home to many artists and writers, soldiers and
sailors, business and finance titans—as well as a few
notable criminals, and plenty of otherwise interesting
people...Ridgefield Chronicles is not meant to be a
formal history of the community, but rather glimpses
into aspects of Ridgefield that will give its
residents and visitors a better understanding of this
unusual town...I have tried to collect aspects about
the town’s history that are not only interesting, but
reflect the diversity of Ridgefield’s people and the
things they accomplished and the way they lived. The
book also examines the town’s varied geography and the
names local people have attached to it over the years.
Much of this information has not appeared in the
town’s three formal histories, or in the dozen or so
other books that have been written about aspects of
the community’s past." By Jack Sanders. More than 60
pictures. 160 pages. $19.99. Available at Books on the
Common, Ridgefield Hardware, Ridgefield
Historical Society, etc. Published in 2014 by The
Images of America: Ridgefield
127 pages of finely reproduced pictures of
Ridgefield past, published in 1999. People, houses,
businesses, scenes of town life, etc. from 1890s to
1950s. Order from Ridgefield
Historical Society, 4 Sunset Lane, Ridgefield CT
06877. $18.99 plus $3.95 postage.
More than 215 views of what Ridgefield looked like
during the first half of the 20th Century. Postcard
images of homes, estates, inns, street scenes, stores,
churches, and more. Over 20,000 words of accompanying
history and lore about the locales pictured.
Bibliography and index. 126 pages. Written by Jack
Sanders. First published spring 2003. Available from
Books on the Common, Ridgefield Hardware, The
Ridgefield Press, and other locations.
For more information, click here.
Ridgefield at 300
Lavishly illustrated, coffee-table book about the
town's celebration of its 300th birthday in 2008,
produced by Ridgefield Magazine. $50. For more information, click here.
Farmers against the Crown
Keith Jones wrote this comprehensive account of the
Battle of Ridgefield during the Revolutionary War,
revealing much new information and correcting many old
mistakes. "This telling will remain the standard
account of the battle for a long, long time," said
Christopher Collier, Connecticut state historian.162
pages, paperback, extensively illustrated. Published
2002. Available at Ridgefield
The Farms of Farmingville
While Keith Marshall Jones calls his book "a
two-century history of 23 Ridgefield, Connecticut
farmhouses and the people who gave them life," it is
really a history of a good part of the town. He has
extensively researched a section of Ridgefield that
contained a significant cross-section of the community
from the 1700s into the 20th Century, and has given us
a picture of what life here was like during that
period. Published 2001. Hardcover. 509 pages. Many
maps, house plans, photos. Indexed. Available at Ridgefield
Five Village Walks
Guided tours of Ridgefield village
history, with more than 50 pictures from the past. 56
pages. Indexed. Map. Updated in 2008. $5. Available at
Books on the Common, Ridgefield Historical Society,
and other locations. Click
here for more information.
Ridgefield in Review
The most modern complete history of the town,
published in 1958, with many illustrations, written by
Smithsonian Institution historian Silvio A. Bedini.
Out of print. Used copies often available at www.abe.com.
History of Ridgefield
George L. Rockwell's 583-page classic has been long
out of print, but copies become available.
Particularly strong on 19th and early 20th Century
history, and containing many early birth, marriage and
death records. The book has many photos taken by
Joseph Hartmann. Cloth and leather editions were
printed. Also, in the 1970s, a reprinted edition was
published. Used copies often available at www.abe.com.
Barbour Collection: Vol. 36
The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Records,
Volume 36 in a statewide collection, reproduces the
famous Barbour index to Ridgefield births, marriages
and deaths from 1709 to 1850. A must for any serious
Ridgefield researcher. $30. Published in 2000 by Genealogical
Publishing Company. Go to the
Website, to Connecticut and look down the list for
Barbour's volume 36 (Portland, Prospect,
History of Ridgefield, Connecticut, The
In 1878, the Rev. Daniel Teller of the First
Congregational Church published this 251-page history
of the town. While almost all of the content is
covered in later histories, the engravings of various
Ridgefield buildings and scenes, all based on very
early photographs, are both wonderful and valuable.
Not indexed. Published in cloth and leather versions.
Used copies often available at www.abe.com.
Recollections of A Lifetime
This is the two-volume autobiography of Samuel G.
Goodrich, who wrote more than 100 books, mostly for
young people, under the name of Peter Parley. The
first 160 or so pages are devoted to his growing up in
Ridgefield in the late 1700s and early 1800s and
provide a fascinating and rare look at life in the
town two centuries ago. Published in 1856. Out of
print. Used copies often available at www.abe.com.
Proprietors of Ridgefield, The
Glenna M. Welsh's history tells of the early
settlement of the town, with particular focus on those
who lived on Main Street. Not indexed. Many
illustrations. Published in 1976 in paper and cloth
covered editions, the clothbound version is still
available at the Keeler Tavern or from the Ridgefield
St. Stephen's Church, 1725 to
Written by Robert S. Haight, Saint
Stephen's Church: It's History for 250 Years 1725 to
1975 tells the story of the church and its place
in the community. 220 pages, indexed and illustrated.
A supplement by Dirk Bollenback, Saint Stephen's
Church Reaches the Millennium, 114 pages,
indexed and illustrated, covers 1975 to 2000. Sold by
the church, 351 Main Street, Ridgefield CT 06877. Email
An 88-page, tabloid-newspaper-sized collection of
biographies of more than 400 people who made news in
Ridgefield during the 20th Century. Also contains
extensive timeline. Illustrated, indexed. Published in
2000. Available for $5 ($10 by mail) from The
Ridgefield Press, 16 Bailey Avenue, 203-438-6544.
Last updated Sept. 7, 2016