History of Southington, Conn.


 

Southington was established as a town in 1779, when it was separated from Farmington. But its roots go back further.

Samuel Woodruff, Southington's first settler, moved south from Farmington to the area then known as Panthorne. The settlement grew and came to be known as South Farmington, and later, the shortened version, Southington.

A meetinghouse independent of the Farmington parish was built in 1726 and was used until 1757. Its location on the site of the present Oak Hill Cemetery is marked by the First Meeting House stone and plaque.

Southington became a thriving community with the construction of dwellings, taverns and stores. Industry flourished. In 1767, Atwater's grist mill was established, and by 1790, Southington had a button factory, saw mills, a brass foundry and potash works. The first machines to make carriage bolts were developed in Southington.

Southington is in Hartford County, within 20 miles of Hartford and 9 miles of Waterbury, and includes the sections of Plantsville, Milldale and Marion. The geographic area of the town is 36.9 square miles, ranking it 40th out of 169 Connecticut towns.

The town operates with a town manager form of government.

Source: CTNow, Town of Southington 

Details of Several Wars

    The most important early visitor to Southington was General George Washington, who in 1780 passed through the town on his way to Wethersfield. Those places that did not have this distinction missed a universal tradition to be handed down to posterity. Perhaps the General had been apprised that Southington had an envious record of its citizens being ever ready to go forth to defend its country which was evinced as early as the Queen Anne and the French and Indian wars, followed by a goodly number who went into the Revolution. In fact, it is claimed that an even 150 soldiers participated. The encampment of the command of Count Rochambeau on French Hill, in the Marion district was such an event that a marker was erected upon the site.

   Sixteen served in the War of 1812 and three in the Mexican War,

   In the Civil war there were 324 enlistments. There were only sixteen in the Spanish-American war. And hundreds fought in World War 1 and 11.

 Some of the first Manufacturers 

   The first break-neck rattraps were made in the Moss shop at Milldale by Julius Branch. The first patent issued to a resident of Southington of which there was a record, was to Nathaniel Jones, May 9, 1809, for improvement in “wooden combs” The first Cement Mill in the United States was in Southington. Cement that would harden under water was the product of Gad Andrews and Anson Merriman. Micah Rugg was the first to make a machine for making carriage bolts. Benjamin d. Beecher, invented the first screw-propeller for boats and constructed a fanning mill, an invention which separated grain from chalf and dirt. The first tinsmiths in the country were Peck, Stow, Wilcox Co. Tinware became a prominent article of manufacture in Southington as early as 1795. Southington  had many manufactures of thing from nut to blots to tools, from automobile  batteries to auto parts. Many leaders of industry and inventors came from and lived in Southington Conn.

  Education and Schools 

   In 1647 it was enacted there should be at least one school to every fifty householders. In Connecticut, a similar attention was given the subject. Hartford in 1642, voted “thirty pounds a year to the town school.” and other ancient towns show like action.

   In 1798, “school societies”, were constituted, and were regulated by the same laws as had governed ecclesiastical societies or towns, and the limits of school societies might or might not be the same as of the towns, according to the convenience of the people.

   Before this law of 1798 was passed, the schools of this town had been exclusively controlled by the Congregational society.

   The first schoolhouse in parish was in the Flanders district. As time want on every district had its own school. In all of these old buildings “school was kept” only a part of the year; generally from October to April. After Mr. Robinson came here, here, a “summer school” was opened, and one quarter of the public money was voted for it. This met with violent opposition. Its was “too much education” for the people of that generation. In 1799, (Apr. 9) Mr.  Robinson offered to pay “one month’s wage of the teacher”, Samuel Andrus and Isaac Lewis, each a ˝ months wage,” if they could be exempted from taxes. The offer was accepted. In the beginning of the 1800’s several attempts to form select school were made with only partial success.

 The Sally Lewis Fund

    Miss Sally Lewis, generous and beloved by all that knew her, was a progressive woman who looked ahead to the needs of a younger generation. In 1828 she bequeathed her estate, both real and personal, to trustees ”the income to be used for a school of higher order, within the limits of the First District of the town of Southington forever. Latin, Greek, mathematics, geography, and other branches higher than are taught in the common school to be taught.” When Miss Lewis died in 1840, her estate amounted to $3,579.62. Through her influence her cousin, Addin Lewis, willed the sum of $15,000 to Lewis Academy. The Addin Lewis Fund became available in 1846. The brick building known as Lewis Academy was first occupied in 1848, with H. D. Smith as principal.  

   Later in the 1900’s the town of Southington took over the Lewis Academy and it became the towns high school.

Sources:

Ecclesiastical and other Sketches of Southington, Conn.

By Rev. Heman R. Timlow

1875  

History of Southington, Conn,

By Francis Atwater 

1924

 

More Historical Notes for Southington CT

 


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