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Facts About Bethany
Bethany Center Schoolhouse, 1834-1934
Formerly located on Amity Road at the site of the present Center Firehouse
Now located on the grounds of the Bethany Community School
(Information from the sesquicentennial booklet, Bethany in 1982, Alice Bunton's book, Bethany's Old Houses and Community Buildings, Bethanys annual town reports and Municipal Historian Robert H. Brinton.)
Before 1638 Two Indian tribes inhabit the Bethany area. West of the north-south line running along Pole Hill Road are the Naugatucks of the Paugusset Tribe. East of that line are the Mattabessitts of the Wangunk Tribe.
1638 April 24: English Congregational (i.e. Puritan) settlers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony arrive in New Haven area then called Quinnipiac by the Indians.
November 24: Land around New Haven harbor purchased from Sachem Momauguin of the Quinnipiac Indians.
December 11: Land north of New Haven including eastern Bethany purchased from Montawese and Sawseunck, of the Wangunk Tribe living in the North Haven area; for the next 146 years, eastern Bethany is part of the Town of New Haven.
1639 Settlers from New Haven arrive in Milford area, then called Wepawaug. An area extending 20 miles north is considered within Milford town boundaries; this includes western Bethany.
1643 New Haven Colony is organized as a state including the towns of New Haven, Milford, Guilford, Branford, Stamford and Southold, Long Island. It is an independent colony without a royal charter, organized by the Congregational Church.
1649 Execution of King Charles I by a Puritan Court appointed by Parliament.
1650 Richard Sperry, Ralph Lines, and other settlers from New Haven take up residence in what is now southeast Woodbridge.
1660 The monarchy is restored in England; Charles II becomes King; the Puritan regicides are prosecuted.
1661 Two of the regicides, Edward Whalley and William Goffe are hidden in New Haven and the surrounding area for the next three years. One of their hiding places is Judges Cave on West Rock; another is Hatchet Harbor in Woodbridge. According to Ezra Stiles they used Holmes Fort in Bethany as a lookout point.
1662 Connecticut Colony is established in Hartford by royal charter of Charles II, taking its name from the Indian name of the Connecticut River: Quonektacat, meaning long river.
1664 Alexander Bryan of Milford buys Lebanon Swamp (Bethany Bog) in Bethany from Nehantond, a Naugatuck Indian, for 30 shillings; he sells it to New Haven ten years later. Nehantond seems to be the earliest landowner of record in Bethany area.
1665 Union of New Haven Colony and Connecticut Colony is completed with capitals in both Hartford and New Haven.
1666 New Haven County is organized.
1672 New Haven and Milford agree on a common boundary that runs through the Bethany area. Holmes Fort and Beacon Cap are mentioned in the description.
1673 New Haven and Milford dispute the ownership of the Three Brothers, a clump of three chestnut trees on the Milford-New Haven boundary and now located in northern Bethany at the Naugatuck-Prospect-Bethany boundary point. The area in dispute was supposed to be haunted by evil spirits. The quarrel was carried to the Governor of the Colony of Connecticut for adjustment, but a satisfactory decision was not rendered. The townsfolk thereupon agreed to settle their differences by physical combat. Elimination contests were held to determine the town championships in 1673, and the two champions battled beneath the Three Brothers from ten oclock until sundown. The contest was even. Both towns agreed to include the chestnuts in their land descriptions.
1674 Settlers from Farmington purchase land at Mattatuck from the Tunxis Indians; this area later becomes Waterbury and Naugatuck.
1675 Center of New Haven is fortified against Indian attack during King Phillips War (1675-76); a log palisade is built but the town is not attacked. This war resulted in the extermination of Indian tribal life in Southern New England.
1686 A County Road is laid out between Waterbury and New Haven through Bethany area.
1687 King James II sends armed men to Hartford to seize the 1662 Charter of Connecticut, which is hidden in the Charter Oak; government under the old charter is restored two years later.
1700 Proprietors in Milford purchase from the Paugusset Indians a tract of land in western Bethany between Bladens Brook and Lebanon Brook (now called Hockanum Brook). This tract is known as the Two-Bit Purchase two bits being the price of a share in the purchase. Two bits was a quarter (2/8th) of a Piece of Eight, also called a Spanish dollar. The Indians signing the agreement are Conquepotana, Ahanataway, Rasquenoot, Waurarrunton, Wonountacun, Pequit, Suckatash, Durquin, and Windham, all early Bethany landowners and perhaps residents.
1702 Proprietors in Milford purchase from the Paugusset Indians a tract of land in northwestern Bethany between Lebanon Brook and the Waterbury line. This tract is known as the One-Bit Purchase. The Indian sellers were the same eight who signed the Two-Bit Purchase.
1709 Ebenezer Johnson of Milford buys a tract of land in Nyumphs (later to become part of Bethany) from an Indian named Chetrenasut; in exchange Johnson gives Chetrenasut a squaw named Sarah and ₤3,10s.
1711 Land is eastern Bethany area is surveyed and divided by lot among the proprietors in New Haven.
1717 Samuel Downs settles in the valley south of Mad Mares Hill.
1721 Stephen Perkins and others petition unsuccessfully for a separate parish in the Woodbridge-Bethany area.
1722 William Thompson surveys the County Highway to Waterbury through Bethany; the route generally follows present-day Amity Road.
1728 Waterbury, at its own request, is transferred from Hartford County to New Haven County.
1734 Settlers in area northwest of New Haven, now Woodbridge but then called Chestnut Hill, receive winter preaching privileges because of the difficulty of traveling to New Haven.
1738 Amity Parish is incorporated by the General Assembly of the Connecticut Colony. The Parish territory includes most of the present townships of Bethany and Woodbridge. Amity Parish includes the Two-Bit Purchase but not the One-Bit Purchase.
1742 Amity Parish Congregational Meetinghouse is built on what is now the Woodbridge Town Green; Rev. Benjamin Woodbridge is the first minister.
1750 First schoolhouse in the northern half of Amity Parish is built at Rocky Corner near the intersection of Old Amity and Meyers roads.
1754 French and Indian War begins. It ends in 1763. The graves of Bethany veterans of this war are in the Old Bethany Burying Ground on Meyers Road.
1755 Timothy Peck and others ask the General Assembly to draw an east-west line dividing Amity Parish into two parts, and also ask that the north part receive privileges of winter preaching; first meetings are held in the schoolhouse at Rocky Corner.
1762 The Amity Parish is subdivided and the northern part is incorporated by the General Assembly as the Bethany Parish; it is named for the Biblical village on the Mount of Olives where Jesus Christ raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44).
1763 The Bethany Congregational Church is organized and Rev. Stephen Hawley begins his 41-year pastorate.
1769 Bethany Parish annexes 'One-Bit Purchase' from Milford.
1769 Construction begun on First Meeting House of Congregational Church erected on old Bethany Green (corner of Dayton and Amity Roads). Completed in 1773.
1776 Representatives of Connecticut Colony sign the Declaration of Independence and Connecticut becomes one of the thirteen states of the United States.
1779 On July 5th, New Haven is attacked and plundered by a large force of British soldiers from New York; they leave on July 6th when militiamen from outlying towns, including Bethany, begin to gather.
1780 The Ebenezer Dayton House in Bethany is robbed just after midnight on March 14th by a small party of Tories from Gunntown, led by a British officer from Long Island.
1781 Second schoolhouse is built, for the North District, on Litchfield Turnpike north of Cheshire Road. Replaced by Gate School on opposite side of road in 1880.
1783 Revolutionary War ends.
1784 By act of the General Assembly, Amity Parish and Bethany Parish are incorporated as the Town of Woodbridge, named for Benjamin Woodbridge, first Congregational minister in Amity Parish; land for the new town is taken both from New Haven and Milford. Bethany Parish is part of Woodbridge for the next 48 years.
1785 Reverend Bela Hubbard, Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in New Haven, begins missionary work in Bethany. A predecessor to the present Episcopal Church was built on Church Corner at the intersection of Carrington and Tuttle roads. The interior is never finished and the structure is torn down in 1803.
1789 Beecher Schoolhouse is built on Sperry Road. This was the first of three schools on this site.
1795 Connecticut Western Reserve Lands are sold for $1,200,000. Bethany schools receive a share of proceeds.
1797 The Straits Turnpike Company is incorporated to build and maintain a road from Litchfield to New Haven passing through Bethany Parish. This road is later renamed Litchfield Turnpike.
1798 Oxford is set off from Derby as a town; Oxford includes Nyumphs.
1798 Bethany Union Library is founded.
1799 First legal society of the Episcopal Church is organized.
1800 First buggy appears on the Bethany Grand List, owned by Isaac Sperry of Litchfield Turnpike.
1800 Downs Schoolhouse is built on Downs Road. Demolished in 1900, and a new schoolhouse built on other side of the road.
1807 The Wheeler-Beecher House, also known as the Hoadley House, is built on Amity Road; designed by David Hoadley of Waterbury.
1809 Present Christ Episcopal Church is erected on Amity Road; designed by David Hoadley. Completed in 1810.
1818 New Connecticut Constitution is passed; Congregational Church is disestablished, and no longer receives direct town support.
1831 The First Church of Christ Congregational in Bethany Center is completed; original Congregational Meetinghouse on old Bethany Green (built 1769-1773) is torn down; and the Green is sold. This move brings the church to the geographical center of Bethany Parish.
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.
1833 A family of Bethany Indians resettled in Derby by the selectmen is wiped out by smallpox; there are in all six men, three squaws, and three children; only the children survive the epidemic. The family, named Mack, support themselves by making baskets and by hunting. They are among the last survivors of the Paugusset Indians living in the area
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 towns 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.
1840 Bethany Census: 1,170.
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.
1848 The Canal Railroad begins service from New Haven through Mt. Carmel and Cheshire to Plainville. This brings the railroad within two miles of Bethanys east boundary.
1849 Naugatuck Valley Railroad begins service. The station for Beacon Falls on the west side of the Naugatuck River is as close as Bethany ever comes to a railroad. Train service to Beacon Falls, Naugatuck, and Waterbury ends the prosperity of the Litchfield Turnpike.
1850 Bethany Census: 914.
1854 Bethany Probate Court is established.
1854 Straits Turnpike Company is dissolved.
1858 First Woodbridge-Bethany Agricultural Society Fair held in Woodbridge. Some held on Fair Grounds in Bethany on present Fairwood Road. Continued until about 1890.
1858 Episcopal Church carriage shed is built.
1860 Bethany Census: 974.
1865 A part of Bethany is annexed by Woodbridge when Bladens Brook becomes southwest boundary between the two towns.
1866 Bethany Town Meeting on October 11th passes an ordinance forbidding Edward Malley of New Haven to hunt or fish within its boundaries.
1870 Bethany Census: 1,135.
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.
1875 Hartford is made sole capital city of Connecticut.
1875 Interior of Episcopal Church is remodeled.
1877 Smith School is built on Carrington Road. This is the third school to serve the Northeast District.
1880 Bethany Census: 637.
1888 Lake Watrous is built on the West River by the New Haven Water Company; part of the lake is in Bethany, although the greater part is in Woodbridge.
1890 Bethany Census: 550.
1892 Lake Chamberlain is built on the Sargent River by the New Haven Water Company; it is first called the Sargent River Dam.
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 Bethany Census: 517.
1905 First book on Bethany, Bethany and its Hills, by Eliza J. Lines is published in New Haven. Parts of the book had appeared earlier in the New Haven Register.
1907 Davidson Telephone Exchange taken over by Southern New England Telephone Company.
1907 Stagecoach service on the Litchfield Turnpike discontinued.
1910 Chestnut blight begins to destroy the large stands of chestnut trees that had been a major source of timber and trim for Bethany houses and barns.
1910 Bethany Census: 495.
1914 First Bethany Town Hall built on Amity Road at Bethany Center.
1915 First road paved in Bethany Amity Road.
1915 New Naugatuck Reservoir is built on Hill Brook by the Naugatuck Water Company; it is at first called the Long Hill Dam.
1915 Bethany Grange #188 organized.
1917 Bethany Grange Town Development Assoc. Inc. held Bethany Fairs until 1923 at Town Hall.
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.
1920 The population reaches its low point and begins to grow again.
1920 Bethany Census: 411.
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.
1930 Bethany Census: 480.
1931 Amity Road is widened, straightened and repaved.
1931 The Center Schoolhouse is moved a short distance east, away from Amity Road.
1931 Congregational Church is moved to the west, away from Amity Road.
1931 Catherine Edmondson receives Certificate from Connecticut State Board of Education for Perfect Attendance for eight years.
1932 Bethany Centennial celebration is held.
1932 Troop I, Boy Scouts of America, is chartered in town.
1934 Bethany Volunteer Firemens 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.
1934 Bethany Baseball Club is organized.
1936 Clark Memorial Library dedicated by the Bethany Library Association; it is a bequest of Noyes Clark.
1939 State Police Barracks Troop I on Amity Road opened.
1940 Bethany Census: 706.
1941 Bethany Athletic Association incorporated. Originated as the Bethany Baseball Club. The association leased Peck Pond and furnished funds for its development.
1943 The Amity Rangers, Connecticut State Guard, under Capt. Willis Thompson was organized.
1943 Wooden Honor Roll erected in front of Town Hall to acknowledge Bethanys World War II servicemen.
1944 Wallace S. Saxton elected first selectman, defeating incumbent First Selectman William L. Wooding. Wooding, who was first elected in 1924, resigns from his new position of third selectman.
1947 Charter for Bethany Public Health Nursing Agency is drawn.
1948 Board of Finance established.
1949 First addition to original Community school completed. Two classrooms and an office added to the northern end of the building.
1950 'Amity Star' published by George Vaill for Bethany and Woodbridge (later Orange and Prospect also) began, ended in 1953.
1950 Peck Pond purchased by the Town and Athletic Association.
1950 Bethany Census: 1,318.
1951 Center Schoolhouse moved to the athletic field on Munson Road.
1952 Lions Club organized.
1952 Zoning 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.
1952 Bronze plaque replaces earlier wooden honor roll in front of Town Hall.
1953 Regional High School District #5 established to serve towns of Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge.
1953 First woman elected to Board of Selectmen - Elizabeth Fox.
1953 Stanley H. Downs elected first selectman to replace retiring First Selectman Wallace S. Saxton.
1953 Second addition to original Community School completed. Gym, lobby and kitchen added to the southern end of building and basement of the existing structure divided into two classrooms.
1953 Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge join to form the Amity Regional High School District No. 5. The district governs grades seven through twelve.
1954 The senior high school is built on Newton Road in Woodbridge. Earlier Bethany students had been sent to public high schools in neighboring towns as tuition students for grades nine through twelve.
1955 Traffic light installed in front of Town Hall at Bethany Center. This was the towns first traffic light.
1955 Methodist Episcopal Church on Litchfield Turnpike is torn down after being inactive for many years.
1956 First four-room annex (#1) for the Community School completed.
1957 Yale Observatory built on Hilldale Road.
1957 Bethany adopts subdivision regulations.
1959 Bethany Memorial Scholarship Fund established.
1960 Second four-room annex (#2) for the Community School completed.
1960 Park and Recreation Commission created by Town.
1960 Bethany Town Court is discontinued.
1960 Bethany Census: 2,384.
1961 Bethany Volunteer Ambulance Corp., an affiliate of the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department, is organized.
1962 Bethany adopts its first Town Plan of development.
1962 Conservation Commission established.
1963 Amity Regional Junior High School on Luke Hill Road in Bethany opened.
1963 First Church of Christ, Congregational celebrates its 200th birthday.
1963 Gordon V. Carrington becomes first selectman following the death of First Selectman Stanley H. Downs.
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 Six-room annex (#3) for the Community School completed. First kindergarten classes held.
1965 Industrial Development Commission formed.
1965 Bethany Airport closes.
1966 First golf course in Bethany opened at Woodhaven Country Club.
1966 Thirty-two acre former Nettleton property purchased by town as a site for the Community School North Campus.
1966 Building Code established in town. Frederick Fritz Johnson is the first Building Official.
1967 One hundred-twelve acre former Bethany Airport property purchased by Town for industrial park.
1967 'Cook and Sew' 4-H Club organizes young people groups for first Rid Litter Day.
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.
1969 Joined with Orange and Woodbridge in construction of a regional dog pound.
1969 Athletic field on Munson Road completed.
1970 North Campus of Bethany Community School completed.
1970 Bethany Census: 3,857.
1971 Elizabeth Mendell donates 125 acres to Bethany Conservation Trust.
1971 Town switches from 3-person elected Board of Assessors to one appointed professional assessor. Lawrence Larson is chosen for the position.
1972 Hinman Fire Station built on the corner of Bear Hill and Hinman roads.
1972 Alice Bice Buntons book, Bethany's Old Houses and Community Buildings, published by the Bethany Library Association.
1972 Municipal Agent for the Elderly position established.
1972 First Resident State Trooper assigned to the Town of Bethany.
1973 Inland Wetlands Commission established.
1974 Senior citizens provided with a room at the Community School South Campus and a hot lunch program.
1975 Center School moved to permanent home on Community School grounds.
1975 House numbers are introduced to town.
1975 Childrens Room completed at the Clark Memorial Library.
1975 Town Seal, designed by Betsy Seaton, adopted.
1975 Use of the South Campus at the Bethany Community School discontinued for educational purposes.
1976 Bethany observes U.S. Bicentennial. Restoration of Center Schoolhouse began.
1976 Barone fieldhouse built at the Munson Road athletic field.
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.
1976 Second traffic light installed in Bethany at the intersection of Carrington and Cheshire Roads.
1977 First woman elected as Town Clerk - Alice Bice Bunton.
1977 New Town Hall on Peck Road opened.
1977 Original Town Hall renamed the Stanley Downs Memorial Building at the annual town meeting.
1978 South addition to Center Firehouse built.
1978 Hazel Lounsbury Hoppes book, Bethany Yesterday: The One Room School, published by the Bethany Historical Preservation Trust.
1980 First woman Town Treasurer - Alice Bice Bunton.
1980 Town sells the Stanley Downs Memorial Building to Christ Episcopal Church.
1980 Bethany Census: 4,330.
1982 Bethany celebrates its 150th birthday.
1982 Center Schoolhouse Committee is formed to oversee the old Center Schoolhouse.
1984 911 system instituted.
1985 First Selectman Gordon Carrington wins re-election for a record-setting 12th term. Carrington becomes longest serving first selectman in town history. Other long-time first selectmen were Samuel R. Woodward (22 years) and William L. Wooding (20 years).
1986 John E. Ford, III becomes first selectman after death of Gordon Carrington.
1986 Second Resident State Trooper added fro the Town of Bethany.
1989 Old transfer station in Beacon Falls is closed; Town begins curbside pickup of trash.
1989 Bethany begins recycling program.
1989 Addition to Hinman Fire Station completed.
1990 Position of Municipal Historian is created. Robert H. Brinton is selected as town historian.
1990 Granite war memorial, carved by Peter Horbick, dedicated.
1990 Bethany Census: 4,730.
1991 District Animal Control, encompassing the towns of Bethany, Orange, Prospect and Woodbridge, established.
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.
1994 East addition to Center Firehouse completed.
1995 Work begins on renovating the Stanley Downs Memorial Building. This is completed in 1996.
1995 110-acre Spykman Preserve conservation easement donated by the Harter and Winer families to the Bethany Land Trust.
1995 New Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge and major renovations to the Amity Junior High Schools in Bethany and Orange completed.
1996 New Town Garage is completed.
1996 East Wing addition to the Clark Memorial Library is dedicated.
1997 The Town purchases the 55-acre former Bethany West property, now known as Veterans Memorial Park.
1997 Hazel Lounsbury Hoppes book, Bethany Pebbles and Flowers, is published by the Bethany Historical Society.
1998 C wing addition to Community School is dedicated.
1998 Senior Citizen van put into operation.
1998 Episcopal Church carriage shed, the last of its kind in Connecticut, is restored.
1999 The Town purchases the 94-acre former Monument Stables property, now part of Veterans Memorial Park.
1999 Hockanum Lake at Veterans Memorial Park is opened for swimming.
1999 Craig A. Stahl elected first selectman to replace retiring First Selectman John Ford. Stahl is the first non-incumbent candidate to win the top post since Stanley Downs first election in 1953.
1999 Town purchases the 15-acre former Brinsmade property to add to the Old Airport tract.
1999 Pole Hill Park improved with a parking area and fire access road to the skating pond.
1999 First annual Family Day event held at the Town Hall Field.
2000 Town acquires an agricultural easement over a portion of Clover Nook Farm on Fairwood Road.
2000 Bethany adopts its revised Town Plan of Conservation and Development.
2000 First annual Summer Sparkler event held at Veterans Memorial Park.
2000 Local Tax Relief for the Elderly adopted.
2000 Bethany Census: 5,040.
2001 A gazebo is built on the Town Hall Field, donated by the Lions Club.
2001 Footbridge built by the Bethany Veterans of Foreign Wars at Veterans Memorial Park.
2001 Historic Bethany Center signs erected on Amity Road.
2002 Third traffic light installed in Bethany at the intersection of Amity and Cheshire roads.
Note: If you have additional items that you think should be included in this list or find any errors, please call us at 203-393-1832, or email William@BrintonWood.com and let us know.
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