Commemorative Booklet

The Town of Bethany’s 175th Birthday

Septaquintaquinquecentennial Celebration

Calendar of Events:

Date & Time

Location

Event

Friday, May 25, 2007

8:00 PM

Town Hall Auditorium

40 Peck Road

Historical Society Presentation on 175 Years of Bethany History. To be followed by Birthday Cake, baked by Ellen Iead of Bethany and sponsored by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokers of Orange, along with Nancy Shattuck and Mark Levine

Saturday, May 26, 2007

10:00 AM, 12:00 Noon & 2:00 PM

Tour starts at the Old School House at the Bethany Community School

44 Peck Road

Bus Tour of Bethany Historical Sites

Saturday, May 26, 2007

10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

 

Old Schoolhouse @

Bethany Community Schoo

44 Peck Road

Old Center Schoolhouse open for visitors to tour and learn more about the history of the one room schoolhouse of Bethany’s past

 

Saturday, May 26, 2007

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Clark Memorial Library

538 Amity Road

Library Open House

Saturday, May 26, 2007

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

The Stanley H. Downs Memorial Building,

512 Amity Road

Old Town Hall / Historical Society Open House

Saturday, May 26, 2007

6:00 PM - 11:00 PM

New Firehouse

Amity Road

Community Dinner and Dance featuring The Tony Cafiero Band

Band sponsored by Laticrete International, Inc.

 

Sunday, May 27, 2007

10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

20 Round Hill Road

Open House at Russell Homestead

Activities include sheep shearing and butter churning demonstrations

Sunday, May 27, 2007

10:00AM - 11:15AM

Christ Episcopal Church

526 Amity Road

19th Century-style Service at the Christ Episcopal Church

Sunday, May 27, 2007

12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Bethany Town Hall

40 Peck Road

 

Family Picnic at the Town Hall

Activities include old fashioned games, prizes and more

Ice cream sponsored by Laticrete International, Inc.

 

PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS: the Town of Bethany of New Haven County in the State of Connecticut of the United States of America was incorporated in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two; and

 

WHEREAS: for one hundred and seventy-five years Bethany has represented and does represent a community rich in heritage of the American way of life and in cultural, commercial and recreational pursuits;

 

WHEREAS: in this, our one hundred and seventy-fifth year, the Town of Bethany was ranked the number 1 small town in the State of Connecticut among towns in our population group in the March 2007 issue of Connecticut Magazine

 

NOW THEREFORE be it resolved that the Board of Selectmen have designated May 25, 2007 through May 28, 2007 as the official one hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary days;

 

AND THEREFORE be it further resolved that the Board of Selectmen urge all citizens of Bethany who share a pride and gratitude for our heritage to pledge for ourselves and those that come after us that this community will remain one of harmony and peace, caring for all its people, and to dedicate a fitting recognition of these one hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary days and year – two thousand and seven.

 

AND THEREFORE be it further resolved that the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Bethany does cordially invite all of its neighbors in the County of New Haven, the State of Connecticut, the United States of America and in all nations to participate in their commemoration of the history and presence of this Town which contributed significantly to the ideals of the American way of life.

 

Given under our hand and seal this first day of May in the year two thousand and seven.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

The Bethany 175th Anniversary Celebration Committee would like to thank the many individuals, groups, organizations and sponsors for their support and contributions that have helped make our Septaquintaquinquecentennial Celebration a success.

 

Of special notice, we would like to acknowledge the following companies and groups for their contributions and efforts:

 

Laticrete International, Inc., for their generosity in sponsoring many of our planned events and specifically, the Family Picnic and Community Dinner & Dance.

 

The Bethany Historical Society and all of its loyal members. It is with their help that Bethany’s people, past and events will always be remembered and shared with generations to come. Your tireless volunteer efforts are to be recognized and commended.

 

The Bethany Library Association for promoting the arts and literature of Bethany.

 

Bill Guth for being the “Unofficial Town Scanner” and his artistic input that he added to our Anniversary events

 

Jean Rushworth, who diligently obtained and encouraged sponsorship for our 175th Anniversary activities from town businesses and individuals.

 

Finally, a formal “Thank You” to the volunteer members of Bethany’s 175th Anniversary Committee. These volunteers include:

 

David Forman, Co-Chairman

June Riley, Co-Chairman

Robert Brinton, Honorary Chairman

 

 

Joan Blaskey 

Shaukat Khan

Will Brinton

Nancy McCarthy

Pam Fein

Kim McClure

Carol Goldberg

Marsha Royster

Joyce Howard

James Seaton

Deborah Kichar 

Don Stankus

Ann Klatskin

Bill Guth

 

 

 

Facts about Bethany

 

Bethany is a beautiful small town located in south central Connecticut, 680 feet above the see level. The area was first settled in 1717. In 1762 the northern part of Amity Parish was made a separate ecclesiastical society and was named ‘Bethany’. In May 1832, Bethany Parish was separated from Woodbridge to become incorporated as a town.

 

Coordinates: 41°25′32″N, 72°59′33″W

 

Population: Current (2006) population 5,225; Population density: 242 /Sq mi; the population growth rate is higher (0.58%) than that of New Haven County (0.23 %) and the state of Connecticut (0.30%). In 1840, Bethany’s population was 1,170. After a downwards trends in the number of inhabitants during the years between 1880- 1930, its population started to rise again. In the 1980 census, the population of Bethany was recorded as 4, 3330.

 

Area: According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 55.3 km² (21.4 mi²). 54.3 km² (21.0 mi²) of it is land and 1.0 km² (0.4 mi²) of it (1.83%) is water.

 

Demographics: According to the census of 2000, there were 1,449 families and 1,755 households out of whom 40.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them. The average household size was 2.87 and the average family size was 3.18. There were 1,792 housing units at an average density of 33.0/km² (85.5/mi²). In the town, the population was spread out based on age with 27.3% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 28.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 99.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.1 males.

 

Income: In the year 2000, the median income for a household in the town was $74,898, and the median income for a family was $79,493. The per capita income for the town was $31,403.

 

Education: Bethany has more people with a Bachelor’s degree or higher (41.4%) than the state average (27.3%). Total expenditure per pupil in Bethany is approximately $ 8,300. In the Connecticut Mastery Tests at grade levels 4, 6 and 8, Bethany students perform significantly better than the state average in all three areas tested (Reading, Math and Writing). Average SAT scores are also higher than the Connecticut state average. 94.5% students in Bethany pursue post secondary education.

 

Economy: The major economic activities in the town include services (39.0%), trade (18.4%), construction and mining (17.3%), manufacturing (8.1%) and agriculture (7.4%).

 

Crime: The crime rate in the town is much lower than the state average.

 

References:

U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates.

Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development; Town Profile (June 2002).

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 

A Brief History of the Town of Bethany

by

Robert H. Brinton & Barrie Tait Collins

FIRST SETTLERS TO WORLD WAR II

By Robert H. Brinton

Bethany Town Historian

 

Bethany was home to Native Americans for thousands of years before the first European settlers moved inland from coastal towns to untamed hills blanketed with primeval forests. Ebenezer Hitchcock is described as “moving in 1747 from New Haven into Bethany…a wilderness with bears and wolves, no road only paths made by riding horseback or on foot.”

 

Early in the 18th century the proprietors in New Haven divided land in the eastern part of Bethany. Samuel Downs is recorded as inhabiting the valley south of Mad Mare Mountain, today known as Downs Road, as early as 1717. Other settlers were soon to follow and establish homesteads in the parcels created by such divisions.

 

These hardy pioneers were immediately faced with providing for all of their needs in this new and hostile environment. Families cleared forests, constructed homes and established subsistence farms.

 

Amity Parish, consisting of most of present day Woodbridge and Bethany, was incorporated in 1738 to provide for the spiritual needs of the community separate from the existing church in New Haven, a long trip from Bethany. Soon after, in 1750, a schoolhouse was built to serve scholars in the northern part of Amity Parish, at Rocky Corners, near the intersection of Old Amity and Russell roads. Within a few years permission was obtained from the General Assembly for winter preaching at this location.

 

Although many of the sons of Bethany families served in the Revolutionary War, the only attack on the town took place in 1780 when a group of Tories invaded the residence of Privateer Captain Ebenezer Dayton on Amity Road and made off with some of his valuables while he was away. This tale was retold in a 19th century novel.

 

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries much of the landscape in the town was transformed. Most of the forested land was cleared for agriculture, lumber or fuel. Although most residents depended on farming, a small number of enterprising citizens utilized the watercourses found among the many hills to provide power for various types of mills. The foundation of two – a sawmill and a gristmill – can still be found on Hoadley Road, near the bridge.

 

Bethany’s present churches on Amity Road date to these earlier years. The Congregational Church was built in 1831 to replace an earlier one located on Dayton Road. The original Episcopal Church, which stood on Tuttle Road, was replaced by the current structure in 1809. In addition to these two houses of worship, a Methodist Church was constructed on Litchfield Turnpike in 1840. Regrettably this edifice exists today only in photographs and memory – and the front steps.

 

Bethany was incorporated as a town in 1832. At the time of the Civil War the population of Bethany exceeded that of Woodbridge and in 1870 the census recorded 1135 residents. The number dropped in 1871 when a western portion of Bethany became part of Beacon Falls. The town no longer had the manufacturing base that had existed along the eastern bank of the Naugatuck River.

 

The town became a backwater, as the Litchfield Turnpike was no longer an important means of transportation from northern parts of the state to Long Island Sound. Neighboring towns prospered from proximity to navigable rivers, canals, railroads and trolleys.

 

At the dawn of the 20th century, Bethany was a small community whose economy was dominated by dairy farms. The population consisted of only 411 people in 1920.

 

That was all changed with the advent of the automobile. At first people came to the now reforested hills for the summer to escape the heat and crowded conditions found in urban areas. Soon, with improved state and local roads, year round residence became possible for commuters. The town began again to grow, reaching 706 persons by 1940.

 

WORLD WAR II TO TODAY

By Barrie Tait Collins

Staff Reporter, The Bulletin

 

There was something prophetic about a forecast in the 1950 Bethany Annual Report: “Bethany with its picturesque hills and valleys seems to be destined as a town within which many homes will rise and to which many people will come to live in the years to come.”

 

While the town has not grown nearly as rapidly as regional planners predicted, the 1950 population of 1,317 has increased to more than 5,000 today with continuous construction underway. Town paved roads have also increased, from almost 40 miles in 1960 to nearly 70 miles today.

 

Since the end of the World War II decade Bethany has gradually been transformed from a rural community to a suburban one - but one with a difference.

 

Even though three state highways traverse the town’s hills and valleys they have, in general, barely altered a landscape in which rural past and new development meld to a surprising degree. Fields with grazing horses and extensive woodlands are everywhere. With continuing growth it remains to be seen how harmoniously this mix can continue.

 

Probably the leading factors that have kept Bethany different from other area towns are its distinctive ridge and valley landscape and residents desire for country living and “elbow room.” A sense of community and growing support to protect Bethany’s landscape and way of life made this possible. Ownership of about one third of Bethany’s land by three water companies has also played a major open space role.

 

Zoning regulations were adopted in 1952 and are periodically updated to deal with thorny problems, including “grandfathered” sand and gravel operations and business zone landscaping.

 

The town established the Conservation Commission as early as 1962. The Bethany Land Trust, formed in 1968, owns or manages about 440 acres. In 1974 residents created the Land Acquisition Fund, since tapped for purchases. Three years later Bethany Residents for Rural Roads began the state-wide effort to enable towns to adopt “scenic road” protections. (Seven roads have qualified.)

 

An Open Space Plan provides on-going evaluation of possible acquisitions. Town-owned land and easements (including the old airport, Veterans Memorial Park and other municipal property) total about 500 acres. The state owns 575 acres (mostly Naugatuck State Forest).

 

Citizen action to protect Bethany’s scenic beauty and quality of life from overdevelopment and unsightly tall towers has both spurred and complemented official town action at times, several hundred residents ready to speak their piece

 

Bethany’s government has been guided by a board of selectmen since the town was incorporated in 1832. The New England-style town meeting continues to provide citizens a voice and direct vote on budgets and other matters. Contentious issues can still draw. Citizen votes ended town-wide aerial spraying, backed the airport purchase and approved the new recently-completed firehouse.

 

It is worth noting that Bethany voters set a state turnout record in the 1960 presidential election: 98 percent. In 2003 the second Democrat (since 1919-23) and the first woman, Derrylyn Gorski, was elected to the first selectman’s position. The late Gordon Carrington served the longest, 23 years until his death.

 

The years since World War II have also seen educational changes. One-room schoolhouses gave way to the Community School (now Town Hall) in 1934, a larger elementary school in 1969 (expanded in 1998). At the secondary level Bethany students originally attended area schools. In 1954, the town, Woodbridge and Orange formed Amity Regional School District, with a senior high school in Woodbridge. Two junior highs, now middle schools, soon followed in Orange and Bethany. A new senior high replaced the old one in the 90s and was just recently expanded and renovated.

 

An active civic life and volunteerism have kept pace with Bethany’s growth. The historic “two churches on the hill” continue to provide a traditional touch with modern activism. The Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corps constantly expand their professional capabilities. Civic groups like the Lions Club, Scouts, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Garden Club and Friends of the Library contribute as well as older groups like the Athletic Association.

 

In the decades since World War II, Bethany gradually changed from a rural community to one where many residents work and shop elsewhere, but the characteristics that attracted the first commuters – natural beauty and community - will remain as long as they are valued and protected.

 

A 1994 report to the Planning and Zoning Commission defined rural character as “undeveloped land, be it farm, fields or forest. These open spaces form the matrix of a rural landscape…. Developed areas are widely dispersed so they punctuate the landscape without overwhelming it.”

 

It added, “Rural landscapes are dark at night, and the stars are visible….the wind in the trees and the cry of peepers at night can still be heard….Rural roads lie lightly upon the land, conforming to the topography….Traffic is light and allows for pedestrians and equestrians…rural goes hand in hand with a sense of community and belonging.”

 

The 1951 selectmen’s report put it this way: “Bethany is a good town to live in. Good town. Good people.”

 

Printed courtesy of THE BULLETIN newspaper, 2007

 

What happened in 1832?

 

  • 1st streetcar railway in America starts operating in New York City. The fare is 12 cents.

  • Andrew Jackson is re-elected president of US

  • Louisa May Alcott, author of "Little Women", is born

  • Abraham Lincoln loses the election for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly

  • Greece becomes an independent monarchy

  • Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia are the only states

  • Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll and author of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", is born

  • Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower and the skeletal framework for the Statue of Liberty, is born

  • Michigan voters begin the statehood process.

  • Jeremiah Day earns a $1300 annual salary as the President of Yale

  • Samuel Morse conceives the idea of an electric telegraph

  • Sheet glass is invented

  • John Calhoun becomes 1st US Vice President to resign

  • Charles Darwin is sailing in the HMS Beagle

  • The song "America", aka "My Country Tis of Thee", is written and performed publicly for the 1st time

  • Bethany separates from Woodbridge to become incorporated as a town

 

What has happened in 2007?

 

  • Novelist Kurt Vonnegut, author of "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle," dies at 84

  • NASA astronaut Sunita Williams completes the Boston Marathon after more than four hours of running in place while orbiting Earth aboard the International Space Station.

  • Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey tops Forbes' list of the 20 richest women in entertainment at $1.5 billion

  • Energy bill makes first change to daylight-saving time since 1987 causes scramble to update software that affects electrical grids, stock trading, email, hotels, hospitals and other businesses

  • Gasoline prices average $2.984 in Connecticut in April for regular unleaded fuel

  • A new regulation requires all persons, including U.S. citizens, to have a passport to enter the United States by land, sea or air

  • A 67-year-old Spanish woman has become the world's oldest mother with twins as the result of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment.

  • Scientists succeeded in producing neurons in vitro using stem cells extracted from adult human skin. This is the first time such an advanced state of nerve cell differentiation has been achieved from human skin, a breakthrough that could eventually lead to revolutionary advances in the treatment of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson's disease.

  • A French-led study determines that global warming has affected the ice cap on Mount Everest in the heart of the Himalayas.

  • Yale University President Richard Levin earns a $779K salary

  • 78 million Baby Boomers, or people born between 1946 and ending in 1964, become a major purchasing and political force in the United States.

  • Gov. M. Jodi Rell asked FEMA to declare a major disaster in Connecticut following record-breaking rain storms from April's Nor'easter

  • Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend his decision to fire seven U.S. attorneys

  • The U.S. Postal Service introduced its first "forever" stamp. The 41-cent stamp will continue to be valid for first-class postage for as long as the postal service lasts.

  • Bethany is ranked #1 by Connecticut Magazine among towns with populations between 3,500 and 6,500

  • Bethany celebrates it's Septaquintaquinquecentennial (175th Anniversary)

 

Bethany's First Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes: 1832

 

At a General Assembly of the State of Connecticut holden [sic] at New Haven in said state on the first Wednesday of May in year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty two ~

 

Upon the Petition of the Town Woodbridge in New Haven County, [unreadable] that town is about 11 miles in length and about 6 miles in breadth, and about equally divided into the [unreadable] ecclesiastical societies of Amity and Bethany, one at one end and the other at the other end of [unreadable] and that the population, and lists of said Societies are nearly equal, and that the inhabitants of said town suffer much inconvenience in attending in the transactions of the public business, and that if said town should be divided into towns corresponding with the limits of said Societies, each of said new town would be of convenient size and shape, and the inhabitants of said present town of Woodbridge and the public would be greatly accommodated, and that said Town of Woodbridge in a legal town meeting duly warned and holden on the 28th April 1832 had voted that in case said town was divided the property debts and representation thereof should be equally divided, and praying for relief, as per petition on file, dated the 30th day of April 1832 will be fully approved.

 

This Assembly find that said petition was duly brought and entered in the docket thereof in pursuance of said vote of said town of Woodbridge duly and legally warned - and holden on the 28th day of April 1832 as aforesaid ~ And that all persons interested in the said petition have had due notice thereof and, the Petitioners and their agents have appeared to present their [unreadable] petition, and Truman Hotchkiss Esq. and others have also been heard in opposition to said petition and upon their remonstrance as on file, and this assembly do also find that the allegations in the said petition are true and that the allegations in said remonstrance are not true and thereupon this assembly do grant the prayer of said Petition; ~

 

Whereupon, Resolved by this assembly that all that part of the town of Woodbridge south of the line between Amity and Bethany, with all the inhabitants belonging and residing within said limits be and remain a distinct and separate town, by the name of the town of Woodbridge and the inhabitants aforesaid and their successors forever residing and belonging within said limits, shall have [unreadable] and enjoy all the power, privileges, rights and immunities now enjoyed by said town of Woodbridge except as is hereafter provided, and shall have and enjoy all powers, privileges and immunities enjoyed by other towns in this state with the right of sending one representative only to the General Assembly of this State.

 

It is further Resolved that all the rest and residue of the Town of Woodbridge which is comprehended within these limits thereof with all the inhabitants therein residing and belonging, be and the same is hereby incorporated into a new distinct and separate town by the name of the Town of Bethany, and the inhabitants thereof and their successors forever residing and belonging within the limits of said new Town of Bethany shall have and enjoy all the powers, privileges and immunities enjoyed by other towns in this State with the right of sending one representative only to the General Assembly thereof.

 

And said towns respectively shall pay their equal proportions of all debts, charges, expenses and claims already due and accrued, or which shall hereafter become due or accrued by force of any claim now existing and all such roads and bridges as are now made and supported by said Town of Woodbridge shall be supported and kept up by said respective towns within whose limits the same shall be situated, and all persons who are now town paupers of said town of Woodbridge shall be equally divided between said new towns. And all persons now belonging to said town of Woodbridge or who shall derive a settlement from them, and now absent therefrom [sic], shall be deemed and taken to be inhabitants of such one of said new towns as they last resided in, and in case any such person should hereafter become poor they shall be maintained by said new towns respectively to which they shall by this act belong, whether at present within the limits thereof or not ~. And the Selectmen of said respective new towns next hereafter to be chosen by said towns of Woodbridge and Bethany shall at some convenient time and place to be mutually agreed upon by them, meet and apportion or divide and distribute equally the poor of said present town of Woodbridge and the present property and burdens thereof, and in case they cannot agree upon the time and place of said meeting and the apportionment aforesaid, the Hon. William Bristol is hereby authorized and empowered to make the same first giving notice of the time and place when and where the same shall be done.

 

The first town meeting in said town of Bethany shall be holden at the Congregational meeting House in said Bethany on the second Monday in June 1832, and Reuben Judd or either of the selectmen of the town of Woodbridge, residing in said Bethany is hereby authorized to warn such meeting by setting up a notification thereof on the public sign-post in said Society of Bethany, and at such other place as he may deem proper at least five days inclusive before said meeting. And said town of Bethany at said first meeting on be called to order by said Judd, shall have all powers incident to the other Towns in this state and full right to act accordingly; and the Officers who may be elected at such meeting shall hold their offices until [sic] are legally chosen and sworn in their stead. And William Clark, or either of the selectmen of the present town of Woodbridge shall warn a town meeting in the same manner as is herein provided for the meeting to be warned in the said town of Bethany, to be holden at the Congregational meeting house of said Amity Society on the second Monday of June, 1832 and said Town of Woodbridge upon being called to order by said William Clark or either of the Selectmen of the present town of Woodbridge shall have all powers incident to the other towns in this State, and full right to act accordingly, and shall have power to choose two or more selectmen in addition to the said Clark who is now selectman of said present town of Woodbridge and resident therein: and such other officers as they may deem necessary not exceeding the number by law allowed ~

 

And the Records, public documents and all other papers belonging to the present town of Woodbridge shall [unreadable] and remain in the custody and keeping of the town Clerk of the said new town of Woodbridge, to be hereafter chosen by said Town and with his successors in office.

A true Copy of record,

Examined by

Thomas Day } Secretary

Certified by

Hezekiah Thomas } Clerk

 

Notice ~ The inhabitants of Bethany are hereby warned to attend a town meeting at the Congregational meeting house in said Bethany on Monday the 11th of June [unreadable] at 2 O’clock [sic] in the afternoon for the purpose of electing town officers for the town of Bethany and to transact such other business as may legally come before said meeting

Bethany June 5th 1832

Reuben Judd } Selectman

Certified by

Hezekiah Thomas } Clerk

SELECTMEN OF BETHANY…1832 to 1892

1832

Reuben Judd, Andrew Beecher, Theophilus Smith, John Russell, Archibald A. Perkins

1833

Andrew Beecher, Abel Prince, Theophilus Smith, Abraham Beecher, Oliver Hotchkiss

1834

Abraham Beecher, Alvin Sperry, Alvan Perkins

1835

Harry French, Newel Lounsbury, Eliakim Smith

1836

Newel Lounsbury, Theophilus Smith, Lewis Lines

1837 - 1839

Harry French, Theophilus Smith, Lewis Lines

1840

Harry French, Miles French, Enos Perkins, Edwin Pardee, Horace Tolles

1841

Horace Tolles, Andrew Beecher, Anthony H. Stoddard

1842

Andrew Beecher, Jason W. Bradley, Levrett Thomas

1843

Jason Bradley, Leverett Thomas, Guy Perkins

1844

Guy Perkins, Leverett Thomas, Darius Driver

1845

Andrew Beecher, Darius Driver, Edwin Pardee

1846

Sidney Sperry, Anson Perkins, Justus Peck

1847 - 1848

Sidney Sperry, Justus Peck, Miles French

1849

Miles French, Ezra S. Sperry, Andrew Hotchkiss

1850

Miles French, Justus Peck, Sidney Sperry

1851

Sidney Sperry, Justus Peck, Dennis Beecher

1852

Sidney Sperry, Justus Peck, Edwin Pardee

1853

Edwin Pardee, Justus Peck

1854

Robert Clark, Sheldon Clark, Edwin Pardee

1855

Robert Clark, Guy Perkins, Milo Beecher

1856

Miles Hitchcock, Robert Clark, Guy Perkins

1857 - 1860

Robert Clark, Darius Driver, Edwin Buckiingham

1861

Darius Driver, Edwin Buckingham, Dwight N. Clark

1862 - 1865

Dwight N. Clark, Sidney Sperry

1866 - 1867

D.N. Clark, Sidney Sperry, Buel Buckingham

1868

Buel Buckingham, Andrew T. Hotchkiss, Garry B. Johnson

1869

Samuel G. Davidson, Jason W. Bradley, Henry E. Lounsbury

1870 - 1876

Jason W. Bradley, Henry E. Lounsbury, Edwin Pardee

1877 - 1878

Jason W Bradley, Samuel G Davidson, Samuel R.Woodward

1879 - 1880

Samuel G.Davidson, Samuel R.Woodward, C.C. Perkins

1881 - 1883

Samuel R.Woodward, Sanuel G.Davidson, Evelyn O.Pardee

1884 - 1888

Samuel R. Woodward, Samuel G. Davidson, David Carrington

1889 - 1890

Samuel R.Woodward, Samuel G.Davidson, Jasper B. Todd

1891 - 1892

Samuel R.Woodward, Samuel G.Davidson, Andrew J. Doolittle

SELECTMEN OF BETHANY…1893 to 1957

1893 - 1896

Samuel R. Woodward, Samuel G. Davidson, Harry F. Peck

1897

Samuel R. Woodward, Dwight L. Humiston, Harry F. Peck

1898

Samuel R Woodward, Dwight L Humiston, Frederick E.Beecher

1899

Samuel R.Woodward, Harry F. .Peck, Frederick W. Beecher

1900

Samuel R. Woodward, Dwight L. Humiston, Frederick W. Beecher

1901

Samuel R. Woodward, Harry F. Peck, Jerome A. Downs, Jr.

1902

Samuel R Woodward, Arthur A.Doolittle, Dwight L. Humiston

1903

Jerome A. Downs,Jr, Samuel R. Woodward, Noyes Andrew

1904

J.A. Downs, Jr., Noyes Andrew, William L. Wooding

1905

J.A. Downs, Jr., William A. Wooding, S.R. Woodward

1906

Jerome A. Downs, William L. Wooding, Noyes Andrew

1907

Jerome A. Downs, Noyes Andrew, Edwin G. Pardee

1908

Jerome A. Downs, Elbert S. Downs, Noyes Andrew

1909

Arthur H. Doolittle, Elbert S. Downs, Henry P. Carrington

1910

Arthur H. Doolittle, Henry P. Carrington, Noyes Andrew

1911 - 1912

Henry P. Carrington, Elbert S. Downs, Noyes Andrew

1913

Henry P. Carrington, Elbert S. Downs, Charles C. Booth

1914

Frederick E. Payne, Elbert S. Downs, Charles C. Booth

1915

Elbert S. Downs, Jerome A. Downs, Arthur H. Doolittle

1916

Elbert S. Downs, Charles C. Booth, Frederick E. Payne

1917

Elbert S. Downs, Charles C. Booth, Henry P. Carrington

1918

Elbert S. Downs, Charles C. Booth, Noyes Andrew

1919

Tyler D. Davidson, Wallace S. Saxton, Otis E. Carrington

1920

Tyler D. Davidson, Henry H. Russell, Wallace S. Saxton

1921

Tyler D. Davidson, Nelson J. Peck, Henry H. Russell

1922 - 1923

Tyler D. Davidson, Henry H. Russell, Otis E.Carrington

1924 - 1928

William L. Wooding, Ralph R Downs, Arthur E.Russell

1928 - 1931

William L. Wooding, Ralph R. Downs, Arthur E.Russell

1931 - 1934

William L. Wooding, Ralph R. Downs, Charles C Booth

1934 - 1938

William L. Wooding, Ralph R. Downs. Tyler D. Davidson

1938 - 1941

William L. Wooding, Ralph R. Downs, Harland I. Tuttle

1941 - 1944

William L. Wooding, Ralph R. Downs, Charles C. Booth

1944 - 1951

Wallace S. Saxton, Ralph R. Downs, Charles C. Booth

1951 - 1953

Wallace S. Saxton, Ralph R. Downs, Edward H. Hinman

1953 - 1957

Stanley H. Downs, Ralph R. Downs, Elizabeth G. Fox

SELECTMEN OF BETHANY…1957 to 2007

1957 - 1959

Stanley H. Downs, Ralph R. Downs, Katharine W. Wakeman

1959 - 1962

Stanley H. Downs, Gordon V. Carrington, Katharine W.Wakeman

1962 - 1963

Stanley H. Downs, Gordon V. Carrington, Richard H. Podoloff

1963 - 1965

Gordon V. Carrington, Irene S. Downs, Richard H. Podoloff

1965 - 1973

Gordon V. Carrington, Arnold Pfenninger, Richard H. Podoloff

1973 - 1975

Gordon V. Carrington, Arnold Pfenninger, James W. Bailey

1975 - 1979

Gordon V. Carrington, Arnold Pfenninger, Miriam C.Niederman

1979 - 1981

Gordon V. Carrington, Arnold Pfenninger, Michael P.Stearne

1981 - 1983

Gordon V. Carrington, David E. Hungerford II, Mark I. Levine

1985 - 1986

Gordon V. Carrington, David E. Hungerford II, Francis A.DeBisschop

1986 - 1987

Gordon V. Carrington, Francis A. DeBisschop, John E. Ford III

1986 - 1987

John E. Ford III, Francis A. DeBisschop, David E. Hungerford II

1987 - 1989

John E. Ford III, David E. Hungerford II, David Gewirtz

1989 - 1991

John E. Ford III, David E. Hungerford II, Sheila Wade

1991 - 1993

John E. Ford III, Craig A. Stahl, Sheila Wade

1993 - 1995

John E. Ford III, Michael P. Stearne, Craig A. Stahl

1995 - 1997

John E. Ford III, Craig A. Stahl, Michael P. Stearne

1997 - 1999

John E. Ford III, Craig A. Stahl, Melissa Spear

1999 - 2001

Craig A. Stahl, Melissa Spear, Walter G. Briggs

2001 - 2003

Craig A. Stahl, Sheila Wade, Walter G. Briggs

2003 - 2005

Derrylyn Gorski, Walter G. Briggs, Craig A. Stahl

2005 - 2007

Derrylyn Gorski, Steven C. Thornquist, Walter G. Briggs

Photo courtesy of Timer Downs

BETHANY AND THE AIR AGE

By Barrie Tait Collins

 

Bethany had a long association with the airplane in the 20th century.

 

One of the first, if not the first, airfield in New England was located at the present recreational field on Rt. 63 with the distinctive old Quonset hut-style airdrome, successor to a previous one, as a nostalgic reminder. The frames of two landing lights half hidden in the woods bordering the field are another.

 

Several well-known flyers, including General Jimmy Doolittle of World War II fame, are known to have landed at the old Bethany Airport. It was home to a handful of private planes for years and weekend aerial rides were popular with the public. The airfield was shut down in the mid-60s when the Channel 8 communication tower was erected nearby in Hamden. A growing number of houses surround the area today.

 

Many planes – from small to large jets and military planes – have flown over Bethany since, including National Guard ones that streak across Amity Road every year in honor of the Memorial Day parade... But none have landed except for a helicopter connected with the annual drug education program at Community School – and one other.

 

In 1975 a helicopter from the Sikorsky plant in Connecticut crash-landed in a Regional Water Authority sand pit area off the eastern end of Rt. 42 in Bethany. The pilot and co-pilot were whisked off site by a chase copter and a military guard and flood lights put around the damaged copter until it could be trucked out later that week. The mystery of the visit was not revealed for many months, until the Navy released information that an Iranian pilot was training with submarine and underwater mine detection equipment for copters being bought by the Shah of Iran’s government. The water utility’s lakes were being used for the mission.

Photo courtesy of Timer Downs

Photo of Charles A. Lindbergh landing at the Bethany Airfield.

 

A Collection of Favorite Bethany Moments from the Past

Charles Forman's Favorite Bethany Moments from 1950-1960

 

We lived on Downs Road, and our next door neighbor Ellie Downs made his living by keeping cattle and selling milk to a company, from New Haven I suppose, that sent a truck around to collect milk from him every day. The old Downs homestead, which is still there next door to our place, was a much smaller house then than it is now. Ellie and his wife Mavis raised 3 children there --they slept up stairs under the eaves. Every day Ellie drove his cattle down Downs Road to the pasture. They were Devon cattle, an unusual breed, with long horns and a beautiful deep red/brown hide. And every day when he drove them down the road our children would run out and help him. That was a big excitement. Unfortunately the cattle declined in numbers. He was convinced that they were poisoned by insecticides or herbicides that were sprayed on the vegetation by the side of the road. He lost all his cattle eventually.

 

I was a teacher at Yale Divinity School in the mid-50's, and I remember one interesting time I was grading papers out in the pasture on a beautiful May day. I put one student’s work down beside my chair when one of Ellie's cows which were in our pasture at the time grabbed it and tore it up into pieces before I could get hold of it. Of course I had to give the student an "A". I told him the circumstances but he was not amused; he didn't think it was satisfactory just to be given an "A" without the paper having been read.

 

Another time, Stanley Downs, who was Bethany’s First Selectman at the time, was mowing our pasture with a sort of ride-on mower, and there was quite a steep hill that made the mower very tippy. A young woman, who lived in the little cottage up the hill, was doing something out on the porch. She was rather scantily clad and I think Stanley may have taken his eye off the terrain. The next thing we knew his rig had overturned and caught on fire with his leg trapped under it. The volunteer fire department came in a hurry, pulled Stanley out and extinguished the fire; but I think Stanley was laid up for quite a while after that mishap.

Photo courtesy of Timer Downs

Arnold Riley’s Favorite Bethany Moment from 1949

 

When I was in third grade, I had a classmate and we both had chickens – or banties, I guess you call them – and occasionally we would swap them with each other. He would bring one to school in a little cage and I would bring one, and at the end of the day we would take them back home on the school bus. But during the day they would, of course, be crowing down in the furnace room of the community school, so we got a lot of complaints from the teachers!

June Riley’s Favorite Bethany Moment from 1961

 

I was 19 years old when Arnold brought me to Bethany as his bride, and we lived in an apartment at the Woodward Farm on Fairwood Road. I had a baby 10 months later, and when I would get bored, I would go out to the barn and listen to all the old stories that were being told. You see, Arnold was a herdsman on Woodward’s Farm, and everybody would gather at milking time and tell all the gossip that happened in town, just like old “Peyton Place.”

Dave Forman’s Favorite Bethany Moment – 1957

 

You know how nowadays they close school the first moment any snow falls. Well, when I was a kid growing up in Bethany that was far from a sure thing. I especially remember one day when the snow had already started falling and there were 4-5 inches on the ground already, but we were out there waiting for the school bus anyway. The bus came. Johnnie Beletsky was our driver. The route went up Downs Road, down Hoadley Road and then we were supposed to go up Wooding Hill Road to pick up kids there. When Johnnie got to the steep hill at the start of Wooding Hill, he gunned the bus engine and got about a third of the way up the hill before the wheels started spinning and he had to back the bus the whole way back down. We kids were cheering, “Yeah! Yeah! We don’t have to go to school!” - but Johnnie tried again. He got a little further, but still couldn’t get up the hill. We thought, “Oh Boy! It’s all over – we can go home!” But no, Johnnie just skipped the kids on Wooding Hill and drove on to the rest of the route. The kids on Wooding Hill got to miss school that day and we had to go. I forget if there was an early closing or not, but I still remember backing down Wooding Hill in that school bus.

Pam Fein’s Favorite Bethany Moment – 1969

 

We moved to Bethany from Milford in the first part of December in 1969 and we built the house on Oak Ridge Drive. It was so nice moving to the country (as it was then) and I remember walking in the still empty vacant lots and there was a wagon track that went through them. I just thought that was so nice and country-like. Of course that’s all long gone now. I don’t know if there are too many wagon tracks left in this wonderful town.

Kim McClure’s Favorite Bethany Moments from 1974 – 1982

 

My favorite memory is from when I was 7 or 8 taking swimming lessons at Peck Pond, which I did for a couple of summers. Of course, you opened your eyes under water and you couldn’t see a thing because it was all green, but that was a part of Peck Pond’s charm. I also remember spending time catching frogs and pollywogs there too.

 

I also have fond memories of fishing with Allie Wooding all over town. My mother used to wait for my brother and I to get off the school bus and we would go get Allie to go fishing. One Sunday, when I first moved back to town after veterinary school, I decided to go fishing. I drove around to all of our old fishing spots and there were “Water Company – NO TRESSPASSING” signs everywhere, so I went home. When I got there, I called my mother and said, “Mom, the places we used to fish, you can’t fish there anymore. It’s posted ‘Water Company – NO TRESSPASSING’ and she said, “What do you think it was back then!” I guess Allie had her own type of water company permit…We just loved Allie.

 

My first date was at a square dance at the Town Hall when I was about 15 or so. We were the youngest people there by probably 30 years, but we had a ball. And then, while we were in the dance, my date’s “friend” came and took the distributor cap out of my date’s truck as a prank!

Ruby Russell DeCosta’s Favorite Bethany Moments from 1915 – 1929

 

I was born in 1915. It was terrific growing up in Bethany back then; everything was at a slow pace. I went to school in a one-room schoolhouse (the same one that’s up at the Town Hall now), and there were 18 or 19 children in it. The teacher would call up classes like Grades 1 and 2 (we never had a kindergarten) to the front of the room to teach. The classes were very small. I think that when I was in 1st grade, there were only 3 or 4 of us in the class – well, there were only 400 families in Bethany back then. So, while a class was up front being taught, we would do our homework in the back and practice our writing. When I graduated from 8th grade there were still only nine 8th graders in the whole town of Bethany.

 

We lived on the Russell farm that the Historical Society has now. We had nothing back then, not even electricity. Up until I went to high school we had to do our reading by candlelight or kerosene lamps. I don’t remember who was the first home in town to get electricity, but I can remember when we got it and we pulled the chain the first time. I remember we all screamed! It was an exciting event.

 

What did we do for fun? We didn’t have too much time for fun because whenever we had free time we’d be in the garden pulling weeds or doing other work, though in the wintertime we used to play in the snow. There were no (or very, very few) cars so everything was horse and buggy – but we all loved life so much. Everything concentrated around the home or the church – that was it.

 

There were 12 of us in the family. I had 6 sisters and 5 brothers. We’d have to get up in the morning before school and drive the cows down to pasture. We did dairy farming, and my father and the older ones used to go by horse and buggy to deliver quarts of milk over in Seymour. When I was in high school, we used to have to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go milk cows by hand and then drive them down to pasture. By the time we got done we had to get washed up and ready for school. How did we get to school? We walked most of the time to the community school, the “Center School” it was called, but on rainy days my mother used to take us by horse and buggy. If there were any kids walking along the way, we would stop and pick them up. I don’t remember how long the walk was, but really it didn’t seem that long when we were kids – it was something like 2 or 2 ½ miles.

 

And then after school we had to fill the lamps with kerosene and then wash the lampshades because they would get black with the smoke, and we’d have to empty our chamber pot because we had no indoor plumbing. We had no hot water either. The old fashioned woodstove was all we used to heat the whole place and we had a big tank at one end of the stove and we used to ladle it out into the big washtub in the kitchen that we used to take our baths in. Sometimes we’d do it next to the stove in the dining room. Two of us would take a bath at the same time while the water was still hot.

 

When we went to high school, we all went to Hillhouse High School in New Haven. I used to have to walk over to the state highway (Route 63) to catch a bus coming from Winsted. It was only an oil-paved road then, not like it is today. The bus went from Winsted to the New Haven Railroad station 3 times a day, and we used to have to go running to catch it. But because of the schedule, all the Bethany kids were always late to school by 10 minutes, but we had no other choice. So the children from Bethany had to go into what they called the ‘tardy room’ and write essays, and every morning for six months, we wrote essays for being late, and it got so that we didn’t know what to write any more! Finally, in February of 1929, they excused us from being late. But they were good days just the same.

Mary Russell’s Favorite Bethany Moment from 1982

 

One day I received a call about 10 minutes before I was going to leave work. It was my brother-in-law, who happened to be home that afternoon, and he said that my mother (who lived with us) looked out the window toward the pool, and there was a pig in the pool. The pig was at the low end of the pool and it was trying to get out. My mother didn’t know what to do, so she called my brother-in-law, and he in turn agreed to come down to our house, while his wife called for the State Police. His wife called the State Police, but when they answered the phone, the poor man laughed so hard that he could hardly talk. Meanwhile, my brother-in-law lassoed this pig with the help of one of the neighbors, and they managed to get him out.

 

The following December, we were at a Christmas party, and one of the other couples there happened to tell a funny story about a pig in a pool. Well, needless to say, that was our pig and our pool.

Jim Seaton’s Favorite Bethany Moments from 1986

 

Springtime elections are a reminder of some of the things that make the Town of Bethany “different” and makes us remember our rural past. When I asked my parents years ago why Bethany had elections in the springtime, rather than in November like many other towns, my dad told me that Bethany’s first settlers, who were farmers, determined it. He explained that by the first week of May, most of the garden and field planting had been done, and in November, farmers were way to busy harvesting their year’s crops and could not be bothered by politics. Right or wrong, it made sense to me.

 

So, whenever the Republican, Democratic or Independent candidates come knocking at your door every couple of years, you know it is definitely spring in Bethany.

 

Back in 1986, First Selectman John Ford was running for re-election as a member of the Republican Party. One Sunday afternoon, we see John and Russ Von Beren, who was running for the Board of Finance, sauntering down our driveway to provide the Seaton family with the much anticipated “Service Directory” for the town and tell us why we should vote for the Republican team in that year’s elections. They knew they had our votes….it was just part of the “formality” each election year back then!

 

What the candidates didn’t know was that we had a “guard chicken” protecting the Seaton house! We had a beautiful Banty rooster named Henry, who had adopted our family and was in charge of keeping stray dogs, cats and other animals off our property. The rooster would follow everyone in our family like he was a loyal and well-trained dog. He would follow my Dad while he was working outside and run up and down the rows of my father’s vegetable garden that my Dad loved so much. He would dig a “nest” in my Mom’s flower garden and sit next to her as she tried to determine which plants were weeds and which ones were plants. He was a great member of the family!

 

So, when Henry saw two people that he didn’t recognize walking down the driveway, and he saw that our lazy fat cats and dog weren’t going to stop these strangers, he sprung into action and protected the house. Russ recently recalled that he saw the beautiful chicken sitting on the window perch and thought it was a very nice statue or lawn ornament that we had. However, Henry flew from his windowsill perch and landed on Russ’ shoulder and began to bite him as a way to drive off this invader. After Russ recovered from the shock of this awkward red, brown and black bird sort of flying through the air and then attacking Russ, and after we all caught our breaths from laughing so hard, my Dad went into the house to get a band-aid for Russ. My sisters asked my Dad what all of the noise was about outside and what had happened. All Dad could say was, “Well, now we know that Henry is a Democrat!”

Rural is Beautiful: Enjoying the Legacy of Land

 

The charm and rural character of Bethany is being actively preserved through the Town's Conservation Commission and the Bethany Land Trust, providing hiking trails and bridle paths for residents and generations to come. One such parcel of land is the Ida Carrington Lowell Land, a 27-acre tract of beautiful woodlands off Cedar Road on the west side of Bethany.

 

The Bethany Conservation Trust (later renamed the Bethany Land Trust) was created in 1968 to receive this property from Marion Jenkins, the daughter of Ida May Carrington and William Lowell. Abram Carrington, Marion’s grandfather, had purchased the land in 1867 as a cow pasture from Jay Andrew, and the so-called “Jay” land was given to Marion and her husband, Tom Jenkins, in 1943 as a weekend and summer retreat. The couple, who both held doctorates in psychology, eventually built a cabin, barn and root cellar on the property, where they spent weekends writing and wandering through the woods.

 

The property slopes down toward Hopp Brook and the Birmingham Utilities land on the western side of town. There is more than a mile of wide hiking trails going around most of the perimeter and through the middle of the rectangular-shaped property. The property is surrounded on three sides by stone walls and features an abundance of large trees. Old Abram Carrington had planted an apple orchard there, and Dr. Jenkins transplanted many nut trees and other specimens onto the property.

 

From the main entrance, the Upper Trail goes along the eastern and northern edges of the property. On the western side, the Lower Trail crosses two seasonal streambeds. The Gooch Trail connects the Lower Trail with the Upper Trail, near the spot where the Jenkins’ cottage once stood. And the Middle Trail cuts across the Gooch Trail and leads back to the main entrance.

 

Map of Bethany…circa 1950

Map of Bethany ~ 2007

 

Historical Sites & Bus Tour of Bethany

 

On Saturday, May 26, 2007, the Bethany Historical Society will sponsor a bus tour of historical sites throughout the Town of Bethany. The photos on the following pages highlight some of the interesting locations along the tour route.

 

Located north of Bethany’s “Town Center,” the Old Bethany Airport Hangar is an unmistakable visible icon on the property that was first used as an airplane landing strip in the early 1920’s. Over several decades, the airport was used by many notable pilots and local flight enthusiasts. Renovation plans for the old hangar are currently under consideration. The property presently hosts sports events, horse shows, car shows and the annual “Bethany Carnival.”

The original Hangar & “Colonial Airlines” of Bethany, Conn

The “New” Bethany Airport Hangar

Photo from the collection of James E. Markey

The Bethany Airport Hangar in 2007

The Isaac Doolittle House, located on the eastern side of Downs Road about ½ mile north of the Bethany-Woodbridge border. This beautiful old farm house and property is bordered by an old picket fence, stone walls, overgrown hayfields and one of Bethany’s numerous “Scenic” roads.

Cherry Tree Farm, still owned and operated by the Carrington family, is located on Bethmour Road. Hayfields, dairy products, cut timber and Agway sales have all been part of this property’s use for several generations. The lovely farm house, large barn, open fields and black & white “banded” cows epitomize what Bethany’s rural past has looked like.

BETHANY’S TOWN CENTER…..circa 1900

Photo courtesy of Christ Episcopal Church

This panoramic shot of “Bethany Center” was taken on top of Falls Road around 1900. Of special interest is the open fields that are shown behind the Congregational Church (right of center) and next to the Episcopal Church. Also, in the lower left hand corner, some of Bethany’s first telephone poles along Route 63 (Amity Road) can be seen. This rare photo was given to Christ Episcopal Church from Janice Von Beren.

Photo courtesy of Christ Episcopal Church

A close-up of the center of the top photo clearly shows the Christ Episcopal Church and its Parish House on the east (top) side of Amity Road. On the west side, you see the Carriage Shed which appears much larger than the existing shed which was restored in 1998 and the original location of the First Church of Christ, Congregational.

BETHANY’S TOWN CENTER…..1948

“Bethany Center” as depicted on the Bethany Town Seal, designed by local artisan Betsy Seaton in 1975, is roughly comprised of 4 properties: The Christ Episcopal Church, The Stanley Downs Memorial Building (formerly the Bethany Town Hall), The First Church of Christ, Congregational and The Episcopal Church’s Carriage Shed (the last such building of its type in Connecticut).

Photo courtesy of Christ Episcopal Church

BETHANY’S TOWN CENTER…..2007

Christ Episcopal Church

Episcopal Church Carriage Shed

The Stanley Downs Memorial Building (Old Town Hall)

First Church of Christ, Congregational

The Town of Bethany…A Timeline of History from 1832 – 2007

~Portions of this timeline are compliments of the Bethany Historical Society website~

1832 – By act of the General Assembly, Bethany Parish is separated from Woodbridge and incorporated as the Town of Bethany. Reuben Judd becomes first selectman of the new town.

1834 – Center Schoolhouse is built on Amity Road.

1839 – Bethany annexes the Nyumphs area of Oxford; this later becomes the eastern part of Beacon Falls.

1840 – The Methodist Episcopal Church is built on Litchfield Turnpike.

1840 – The town’s population (which includes Straitsville and Beacon Falls) is at its peak and is not surpassed until the 1940s. It is the beginning of a long decline to the low point of 411 people in 1920.

1844 – The area and population of Bethany is reduced when the Straitsville area becomes part of the new Town of Naugatuck by act of the General Assembly.

1858 – Episcopal Church carriage shed is built.

1865 – A part of Bethany is annexed by Woodbridge when Bladen’s Brook becomes southwest boundary between the two towns.

1871 – Bethany's area and population again reduced when Beacon Falls is incorporated as a town by act of the General Assembly.

1874 – Bethany begins publishing Annual Town Reports.

1894 – Bethany Lake is built on the West River by the New Haven Water Company; when the dam is filled, an earlier dam called the Nailworks Dam is inundated.

1898 – Tyler Davidson founds the Davidson Telephone Exchange System in Bethany. Cedars from Lebanon Swamp are used as telephone poles.

1900 – First record of an automobile seen in Bethany.

1900 – Bethany Census: 517.

1907 – Stagecoach service on the Litchfield Turnpike discontinued.

1914 – First Bethany Town Hall built on Amity Road at Bethany Center.

1915 – First road paved in Bethany – Amity Road.

1915 – Bethany Grange #188 organized.

1918 – First road in Bethany is paved.

1918 – Five airplanes are spotted flying over the town on July 4th. These are the first seen in the skies over Bethany.

1920 – First tractor appears on the Bethany Grand List – an International 8-16, owned by Clifford Whitlock and used at his farm on Litchfield Turnpike.

1920 – First airplane lands at or near the site of the future Bethany Airport, one mile north of Bethany Center.

1923 – Bethany Field, later known as Bethany Airport, is opened; it is among the earliest in New England.

1924 – Bethany Agricultural Association, Inc. holds Fair.

1930 – Bethany Library Association is incorporated.

1931 – Congregational Church is moved to the west, away from Amity Road.

1932 – Bethany Centennial celebration is held.

1932 – Troop I, Boy Scouts of America, is chartered in town.

1934 – Bethany Volunteer Firemen’s Association is founded.

1934 – The Bethany Community School on Peck Road is completed. This four-classroom building houses grades one through eight and replaces the four remaining one-room schools in town.

1936 – Clark Memorial Library dedicated by the Bethany Library Association; it is a bequest of Noyes Clark.

1943 – Wooden Honor Roll erected in front of Town Hall to acknowledge Bethany’s World War II servicemen.

1948 – Board of Finance established.

1950 – Peck Pond purchased by the Town and Athletic Association.

1951 – Center Schoolhouse moved to the athletic field on Munson Road. While at this location, the Schoolhouse is used as a garage for town fire trucks and equipment and serves as a storage house for events held on the athletic fields.

1952 – Lions Club organized.

1952 – Planning & Zoning regulations first adopted.

1952 – Bethany Volunteer Fire Department's new station completed on Amity Road.

1952 – Vault, bathrooms and office constructed for Town Hall addition. This is the first time the Town Hall has running water and a place to store its land records. These records were previously stored in the attic of the barn at the John Hinman house.

1953 – First woman elected to Board of Selectmen - Elizabeth Fox.

1955 – Traffic light installed in front of Town Hall at Bethany Center. This was the town’s first traffic light.

1957 – Bethany adopts subdivision regulations.

1960 – Park and Recreation Commission created by Town.

1961 – Bethany Volunteer Ambulance Corp., an affiliate of the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department, is organized.

1962 – Conservation Commission established.

1964 – Road Department started; Edward Hinman appointed first full-time Road Foreman.

1964 – First Annual Memorial Day Parade organized by 4-H 'Cook and Sew' Club under leadership of Marion Sandell.

1965 – New Connecticut Constitution is passed; Bethany loses its town representative in the General Assembly.

1965 – Bethany Airport closes.

1967 – One hundred-twelve acre former Bethany Airport property purchased by Town for industrial park.

1968 – Bethany Conservation Trust is organized and incorporated. The 27-acre Ida Carrington Lowell property off Cedar Road is donated by Mrs. Marion Jenkins to be used as a nature sanctuary.

1972 – Hinman Fire Station built on the corner of Bear Hill and Hinman roads.

1972 – Alice Bice Bunton’s book, Bethany's Old Houses and Community Buildings, published by the Bethany Library Association.

1972 – First Resident State Trooper assigned to the Town of Bethany.

1973 – Inland Wetlands Commission established.

1975 – Center School moved to permanent home on Community School grounds. Renovation of the school begins as part of country’s Bicentennial celebration.

1975 – Town Seal, designed by Betsy Seaton, adopted.

1976 – The Wheeler-Beecher or Hoadley House on Amity Road becomes the first structure in Bethany to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1977 – New Town Hall on Peck Road opened.

1977 – Original Town Hall renamed the Stanley Downs Memorial Building at the annual town meeting.

1978 – Hazel Lounsbury Hoppe’s book, Bethany Yesterday: The One Room School, published by the Bethany Historical Preservation Trust.

1980 – Town sells the Stanley Downs Memorial Building to Christ Episcopal Church.

1990 – Position of Municipal Historian is created. Robert H. Brinton is selected as town historian.

1990 – Granite war memorial, carved by Peter Horbick, dedicated.

1992 – Bethany is assigned its own zip code – 06524.

1993 – Bethany Historical Society is incorporated.

1994 – The Christ Episcopal Church deeds the Stanley Downs Memorial Building and surrounding property to the Bethany Historical Society.

2003 – Derrylyn Gorski, Bethany’s first female First Selectman, is elected.

2007 – The New Bethany Firehouse is opened and dedicated on the northern end of the Old Bethany Airport property, directly across from the intersection of Munson and Amity Road. The Center Station is no longer utilized as a fire house and is to be used by the town for other municipal needs.

2007 – Bethany Celebrated its 175th Anniversary !!!

 

 

 
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