Cheshire Timeline – Cheshire History



Here is a timeline of Cheshire’s history.  There are gaps in the chronology, particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries.  Please feel free to email Cheshirepedia ([email protected]) to offer suggestions of additional entries or comments on the timeline itself.  Or you can make comments at the bottom of the article.

Seventeenth Century

  • 1638  New Haven founded (grandmother town of Cheshire and Prospect).
  • 1660  Wallingford founded.
  • 1676  Wallingford men are allowed to cross the river and work in Fresh Meadows.
  • 1679 Mar. 27  Thomas Brooks was born at New Haven, CT.
  • 1687  Dr. John Hull receives grant of land from Broad Swamp to the Quinnipiac River.
  • 1687  John Moss receives grant of land near the Ten Mile River.
  • 1694  First people allowed to settle in Cheshire: Joseph Ives (near Cook Hill Road) and John Hotchkiss (near Wallingford Road and corner of Talmadge).

Eighteenth Century

  • 1702 Mar. 25  Thomas Brooks, in New Haven, married Martha Hotchkiss, daughter of Joshua Hotchkiss and Mary Pardee. They had 11 children, each of whom lived to marry.
  • 1705 Apr. 23  William and Mary Tyler sold Thomas Brooks “102 akers” of Second Division land, in the West Farms section of Wallingford (now Cheshire), CT, “called the Lothrop farm,” lying one mile from the New Haven Mill river, and 8 acres adjoining laid out on the east side of this farm.”
  • 1706-07 Jan. 9  “At an adjourned town meeting, the town (Wallingford) admitted Thomas Broox an inhabetant upon thatt land he purchest.”
  • 1712  Copper discovered by John Parker in the Cheshire Street area.
  • 1718  Thomas Brooks, with Stephen Hotchkiss and Matthew Bellamy, on behalf of the residents of West Farms, unsuccessfully petitioned the assembly to be “constituted a distinct society.” (an independent town)
  • 1723  The appeal was renewed, and the General Assembly persuaded to allow the formation of a new parish, which, at the urging of Thomas Brooks, was named Cheshire, in honor of his father Henry’s birthplace. Thomas Brooks, Nathaniel Bunnell and John Hitchcock were appointed a committee “to manage ye affairs of the society for the year insuing.”
  • 1723 Oct. 10  Thomas Brooks and others petitioned to erect their own meetinghouse. In the meantime, a Congregational church was gathered, consisting of 11 men and 15 women, which met at the homes of Thomas Brooks and John Hotchkiss.  Thomas Brooks was a member of the committee which arranged to settle Mr. Hall as their first minister, 4 Dec. 1723.
  • 1723  The New Cheshire parish is recognized. Pastor Rev. Samuel Hall. Site of church on Lanyon Drive just west of intersection of S. Main and Lanyon.
  • 1726  Land for cemetery presented by Rev. Hall.
  • 1732  Small pox epidemic. 124 cases out of a population of 400. 17 deaths.
  • 1735  New church voted, to be built on the northeast corner of Parson Hall’s property. Front of the Green; marker on the site.
  • 1754  Amos Doolittle, noted engraver, born here.
  • 1760  St. Peter’s Episcopal Church organized.
  • 1763  Schoolhouse built on the Green.
  • 1780 May 19.  Cheshire incorporated as a town by action of the State Legislature.
  • 1780 June 7.  First town meeting.
  • 1781  Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. End of the American War of Independence (Revolutionary War). Gideon Bristol selected by Gen. Washington to receive the arms of the British. (family story, not documented)
  • 1790  Reuben Merriman begins making clocks here. It is his little house that is bought by the First Congregational Church and moved to Foote Street to make room for the new church. (the present church)
  • 1790 Nov. 10.  Temple Lodge, A. F. and A.M. established here.
  • 1794  Town laid out in twelve school districts.
  • 1794  Episcopal Academy established (later renamed Cheshire Academy).
  • 1795  Lambert Hitchcock born here (furniture manufacturer).
  • 1796 Apr. 26.  Cornerstone for Episcopal Academy laid.
  • 1796  The Rev. John Bowden becomes the first Principal of the Academy. (Bowden Hall is named for him)
  • 1798  Burton Ohio founded mostly by people migrating West from Cheshire.
  • 1799  Action begun to establish a toll road from New Haven to Southington.

Nineteenth Century

  • 1800  Cheshire Turnpike Company founded.
  • 1800  Population of Cheshire 2,888.
  • 1801  Cheshire Turnpike built.
  • 1804  Robert Bradley Hitchcock born here (Commodore Hitchcock).
  • 1806 Sept. 12.  Andrew Hull Foote born here – he adds an e to the family name Foot (Civil War rear admiral).
  • 1812 (War)  Dr. Thomas T. Cornwall, a surgeon in the War of 1812.
  • 1815  Tin shop started by Seth de Wolf.
  • 1816  John Frederick Kensett born here.
  • 1818 (approx.)  Foote and Hitchcock swear oath of temperance.
  • 1819  Gideon Welles enters the Academy.
  • 1820  Population of Cheshire 2,230.
  • 1822 April 1.  Special Town Meeting votes approval of the establishment of a canal north from New Haven through Cheshire.
  • 1823  First survey of canal route.
  • 1825  Bronson Alcott teaches in Cheshire.

    Bronson Alcott (1799-1888) was a noted teacher, writer and reformer. Alcott taught at Cheshire Academy for several years. He was the father of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women.

    Bronson Alcott (1799-1888) was a noted teacher, writer and reformer. Alcott taught at Cheshire Academy for several years. He was the father of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women.

  • 1827  Third building of the First Congregational Church built and dedicated. (present location)
  • 1827  Irish canal workers have completed the Great Fill and are now working in the area from Jarvis Street to West Main.  The most difficult and expensive portion of the canal to build. The workers stand in the knee-high water of Cheshire’s swamps.
  • 1828  Farmington Canal opens to traffic; open from New Haven to Farmington (completed in 1835 from Farmington to the Connecticut River in Northampton).

    Lock 12, Cheshire

    Lock 12, Cheshire

  • 1830  Population of Cheshire 1,780.
  • 1834  Methodist Church organized.
  • 1834  Samuel Augustus Foot elected governor of Connecticut.
  • 1835  Barite discovered here. Barite mines opened.
  • 1840  Population of Cheshire 1,529.
  • 1847  Work begun on Canal Line Railway, later known as the New Haven and Northampton Railway.
  • 1848  Canal closed; Canal line railroad opens (built along the towpath of the old canal).
  • 1850  Population of Cheshire 1,626.
  • 1850  Cheshire Manufacturing Company organized, Arad Welton President.
  • 1852  Mix Manufacturing Co. organized by John and Titus Mix.
  • 1860  Population of Cheshire 2,407.
  • 1862  Jan. 1.  The Reverend Sanford Jackson Horton becomes headmaster of Cheshire Academy and transforms it into a military school.
  • 1863  June 26.  Death of Admiral Foote.
  • 1864  United States Army Sergeant Eri D. Woodbury is awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Cedar Creek in October, 1864.
  • 1866  Cheshire Brass Co. founded.
  • 1866  July 4.  Dedication of the Civil War Monument on the Green.
  • 1870  Population of Cheshire 2,344.
  • 1878  Suspension of barite mining.
  • 1880  Population of Cheshire 2,284.
  • 1880  Cheshire celebrates its first 100 years of being a town.
  • 1880  Agricultural Census (federal) shows acreage farmed, what crops, how many cattle.
  • 1888  Cheshire’s first Baptist Church, Hull Memorial, organized.
  • 1890  Population of Cheshire 1,929.
  • 1892  Mary Baldwin opens a small library in a building on Horton Street offered by Dr. Horton of the Academy.
  • 1892  October.  The Wallace House burned down. (hotel just south of the Green; a bench for bus stop is there now)
  • 1894  Old Historic Homes of Cheshire by Edwin R. Brown and John R. Paddock is published.
  • 1894  A high school opens with classes held all over town.
  • 1896  The Waverly Inn opened by Walter Scott.
  • 1896  Death of Dr. Horton, headmaster of the Academy.
  • 1896  Thanks to a gift from Mrs. Philocia Hotchkiss the Horton Home is transformed into a high school building.
  • 1896  Bequest of $5000 by Mrs. Juliet Tompkins for support of a public library.

Twentieth Century

  • 1900  Population of Cheshire 1,989.
  • 1910  Population of Cheshire 2,560.
  • 1910 R.W. Hine established.
  • 1912  Humiston School opens, grades 1-8.
  • 1912  Joseph Beach’s History of Cheshire 1694-1840 is published by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
  • 1912  Cheshire Fire Department organized.
  • 1912  R. W. Hine opens hardware store.
  • 1912  Fire at Waverly Inn.
  • 1913  Broad Brook Reservoir is built (water supply for city of Meriden).
  • 1913  Thistle Troop (Girl Scouts) organized.
  • 1913  Reformatory built in Cheshire.

    Cheshire Reformatory

    Cheshire Reformatory

  • 1913  York Hill Trap Rock Co. begins operation in West Cheshire.
  • 1917  Last train on Meriden Waterbury Cromwell Connecticut River rail runs.
  • 1917  Boy Scouts organized.
  • 1920  Population of Cheshire 2,855.
  • 1926 Oct 9.  Cohen’s Department Store opens.
  • 1928 Blackies Hot Dogs established.
  • 1929  The Honey Pot Country Club (golf) is incorporated.
  • 1930  Population of Cheshire 3,263.
  • 1930  The Womanless Wedding (a traveling company).
  • 1940  Population of Cheshire 4,352.
  • 1941  Horton Hall burns.
  • 1950  Population of Cheshire 6,295.
  • 1953 Feb.  The Cheshire Herald begins publishing.
  • 1953  New Cheshire High School opens. (grades 7-12)
  • 1953  The Home National Bank builds new quarters.
  • 1960  Population of Cheshire 13,383.
  • 1961  Interstate 84 is completed through Cheshire.
  • 1961  Mixville Park opens.

    Mixville Pond, undated photo

    Mixville Pond, undated photo

  • 1967  United States Marine Corps 1st Lieutenant Harvey C. Barnum, Jr. is awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in December, 1965 at Ky Phu, Quảng Tín Province, Vietnam.
  • 1969  Cheshire Land Trust organized, accepts first gift of land – the 40+ acre Russell Preserve, high on the West Ridge.
  • 1970  Population of Cheshire 19,051.
  • 1975  The Environment Commission lists lands and structures that should be preserved.
  • 1978  The town acquires Roaring Brook.
  • 1979
  • 1980  Population of Cheshire 21,788.
  • 1980  Cheshire celebrates 200 years of Incorporation.
  • 1980  Lock 12 Historical park opens.
  • 1981
  • 1982
  • 1983
  • 1984
  • 1985
  • 1986
  • 1987  Interstate 691 completed.
  • 1988
  • 1989
  • 1990  Population of Cheshire 25,684.
  • 1991
  • 1992
  • 1993
  • 1994  Cheshire Celebrates 300 years of settlement; in 1694 Joseph Ives and John Hotchkiss built homes and settled near Cook Hill Road Ye. Fresh Meadows later called West Farms (and finally Cheshire).
  • 1994  TRAILS book is published. Written by members of the Environment Commission and the Cheshire Land Trust, the book describes walking trails in Cheshire and also contains articles on Cheshire’s History, Geology, Soils, and Streams.
  • 1995
  • 1996  Under construction for a year, the greatly enlarged Public Library re-opened.
  • 1997
  • 1998  Cheshire Cinema closes.
  • 1999

Twenty-First Century

  • 2000  Population of Cheshire 28,543.
  • 2000  New Year’s Eve Celebration of Light ushers in a new century. Fireworks at the Cheshire Academy campus can be seen for miles.
  • 2001  Freight Terminal, Inc. applied for a permit for a distribution hub on East Johnson Avenue in Cheshire, adjacent to the Quinnipiac River. It was denied after knowledgeable citizens presented persuasive evidence about the harm to the environment that would result.
  • 2002  Cheshire Cinema building torn down.
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2005  Two local Historic Districts were formed by ordinance: South Brooksvale and Cornwall Avenue-Town Center.
  • 2006  The Cheshire Land Trust inherited the Ives Farm on Cheshire Street, a property farmed since the 1790s. The 100+ acre property with hundreds of feet along the Quinnipiac River, includes a 60+ acre forest on the east side of Cheshire Street.
  • 2007  Hearings on the proposed Shoppes at Cheshire application for stores and condos near Great Fill and stone aqueduct of the Farmington Canal (Ten Mile River) W/S Development
  • 2007  Home invasion, murder of mother and two young daughters overshadows all other events. Dr. Petit, father, sole survivor.
  • 2008 Dec. 22.  Heavy rains turn small brooks into rushing whitewater streams.
  • 2010  Population of Cheshire 29,261.
  • 2010  A winter of heavy snow and severe winds caused many roofs to cave in around town; barns were among the most common victims. The roof of the Keeler Stove shop on S. Main St. gave way, was declared unsafe, and was taken down.
  • 2011  Halloween Storm Alfred brought snow and extensive tree damage.
  • 2011  Restoration of the Keeler House on S. Main began.
  • 2011  Two men involved in the 2007 home invasion were found guilty and sentenced to death.
  • 2012  200th anniversary of the War of 1812; Dr. Thomas Tryon Cornwall was a surgeon in that war.
  • 2012  Dome covered community pool opens; the dome collapses under weight of winter snow.
  • 2013  Girl Scouts in Cheshire celebrate 100 years, first troop in CT.
  • 2013  Anniversary of the Wakefield murder.
  • 2013  One hundredth anniversary of the building of the Broad Brook Reservoir.
  • 2014  Longstanding civic groups begin to disband – Junior Chamber of Commerce.
  • 2016  150th Anniversary of Civil War Monument Dedication

4 thoughts on “Cheshire Timeline – Cheshire History

  1. I really enjoyed reading this! It is amazing the population has changed. It is good that you kept a record of things, although the 80s seems to be missing LOL.

  2. Thanks so much for this history. I taught English at Cheshire High School; my husband was a student at YDS and was a clergyman at The First Congregational Church in the 1950s. We lived at 163 S. Main Street in an historic two story house owned by John Nettleton – near the church before we bought a house in Brooksvale.
    Many fond memories of Cheshire. I am trying to track some old friends who lived on Cook Hill Road – Les and Maggie Schackenback. After Maggie died, Les married Lib Rice. I have tried the internet without luck. Do you have any suggestions about how I can research them, as well as the Purdy’s who lived across the street from us. Thanks so much.

  3. I am Eric Brooks and have just found this timeline about the history of Cheshire, Conn.
    Since we are in Connecticut for a day or two I am going to try to find the graves of some of my distant ancestors such as Thomas Brooks and Martha and if possible Henry Brooks. These people are the people who fought in wars and settled lands in the new world as it was called back in colonial days. A timeline like this is very valuable in this work.
    We are originally from the fingerlakes region of upstate New York and have always wanted to do this . Thanks to the people who kept the information and displayed it for people like me.

  4. No mention of the first Boy Scout Troop sponsored by the Rotary Club on or about 1943/4

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