History of Norfolk, Litchfield County, Connecticut
Some years ago, in searching out family genealogy, the want of a history of my native town became to me apparent. As bits of Norfolk history were from time to time discovered, in books and elsewhere, such items were preserved, and the accumulation began. A desire to learn many things from those whose memories and traditions go back to the early part of this century took hold upon me, and knowing full well that upon those around whom the shades of evening have gathered, soon the sun will set, and their remembrances be forever beyond our reach, an effort to obtain these things through correspondence was made, with results not altogether satisfactory.
In June, 1899, I came 'home' and soon took up in earnest the work of preparing a history of Norfolk. The encouragement and kindly assistance of a large number of the present residents of the town, and former residents as well, has made the difficult, perplexing task a pleasure. Mention by name cannot well be made of the large number who have put me under lasting obligation for their kind assistance. Some of them have done for others and for me what they could do, and have 'entered into their rest.' Mention should be made of the kindness and assistance, great and manifold, rendered by the family of Dr. Joseph Eldridge, which has made possible the publication of this volume. Access has been given to the many rare, valuable manuscripts which were prepared and left by Dr. Eldridge, which have been indispensable in compiling this history. So, in a measure, my purpose has been accomplished, of preserving in permanent form some record of the lives and work of the past generations, upon whom the curtain has fallen and shut them from our sight.
It has been a pleasure to recall and mention, if nothing more, the names of some of those who have walked these streets in former times; have dwelt in these homes; have heard the same Sabbath bell, and gathered for worship in these temples; have sat in the same seats in church which we now occupy; their eyes have looked upon these same beautiful landscapes of valley and mountain; their feet have climbed these everlasting hills where they, too, have looked out and up, and adored the great Creator and Euler of all. And they are gone.
Such as it is, suggestive, not exhaustive, with some errors which should not have been, it is sent forth on its mission, in the hope that it may be of interest and help to all of its readers some of the time.
Table of Contents
I. By Rev. Joseph Eldridge, D.D. 2
A Glance at the History of Connecticut Prior to the Settlement of Norfolk.
II. By De. Eldridge 11
Sale and Settlement of the Town Building the Meeting-House.
III. By Dr. Eldridge 20
Events of Interest in the Town up to the Time of the
Connecticut's Early Town System Settlement of Towns
in Litchfield County Grant of the "Western Lands" to
Hartford and Windsor Controversy Between the Colony
and Those Towns Organization of Litchfield County
Sale, Settlement and Incorporation of the Town.
How the Original Title to Land was Obtained Proprietors' Meetings Dividing and Drawing Land Eighty
Acres of Land Voted for an Iron Works.
First Town Meeting Locating, Building, Dignifying
and Seating the Meeting-House Raising Money and
Early Customs and Habits Organization of the First
Church Settlement of Rev. Ammi R. Robbins.
The Revolutionary War Names and Service of Norfolk
Men in the Army Chaplain Robbins' Journal.
Rev. Mr. Robbins' Half-Century Sermon.
Centennial Anniversary in 1844 Address by Rev. Thomas
Formation of Norfolk Ecclesiastical Society in 1813
Establishment of the Ecclesiastical Society Fund in 1817
Purchase of the First Organ in 1822.
Sketch of Rev. Ralph Emerson, D.D., Ordained and Installed as Pastor, June, 1816 Dismissed, October, 1829.
Sketch of Mrs. Z.P. Grant-Banister Her Early Life in
Norfolk Record as a Teacher. "She Originated Holyoke Seminary."
Building the Present Meeting-House Ascertaining the
Centre of the Town by Survey Names of Contributors.
"The Two Villages," by Mrs. Rose Terry-Cook The
Cemeteries of the Town Remarkable Longevity.
Litchfield County Centennial in 1851 Oration by Judge
Samuel Church Address by Dr. Horace Bushnell.
Severe Winters and Great Snows The Blizzard of 1888
The Ice-Storm of 1898.
Killing a Panther Treed by a Bear A Wolf-Hunt
Fires near and in the Meeting-House.
Manufactures and Manufacturers A Large Number of
Norfolk Merchants Schools The Park.
Period Prior to the Civil War Anti-Slavery Society
Norfolk Men in the War of the Rebellion Sketch of Adjutant Samuel C. Barnum Sketch of Colonel George
Highways A Railroad Through Norfolk Struggle as
to its Location Dr. Eldridge Before the Commissioners.
The Whipping-post First Post-office Temperance Organizations Culture of Silk Indian Story Norfolk
Banks Prices Current, 1778 Colored People Elevations Singing Schools Anecdotes Old Pastorates
Census Reports Norfolk Brick The French War War
of 1812 Strong Fund Probate District Whitefield in
Norfolk Reminiscences of Dr. Eldridge, by Ex-Governor Cooke Masonic Centennial Sketch of Norfolk, by
Sketch of Rev. Ammi R. Robbins, by His Son Madame
Elizabeth Robbins Rev. Thomas Robbins, D.D. Reminiscences by Mrs. Mary Robbins-Kasson.
The Rev. Joseph Eldridge, D.D. Sketches, by President
Porter, of Yale College ; by Rev. Joseph F. Gaylord ; by
Dr. W. L. Gale Farewell Services Obituary Notices
Sketch of Mrs. Sarah Battell Eldridge Miss Cynthia L.
Fosket Presentation of Communion Service.
Sketch of Joseph Battell, Esq. Mrs. Sarah Robbins -
Battell Joseph Battell, Jun. Mrs. Irene Battell Larned
Robbins Battell Mrs. Urania Battell-Humphrey Miss
Anna Battell Philip Battell Mrs. Ellen Battell -
Hopestill Welch and Family Benjamin Welch, Sen.,
M.D., and Family Asa G. Welch, M.D. Benjamin Welch, Jun., M.D. James Welch, M.D. William W.
Welch, M.D. John H. Welch, M.D. Samuel Cowles
Henry Cowles, D.D. Louisa Welch Pettibone Professor William H. Welch, M.D. LLC Ephraim Guiteau,
M.D. Frederick M. Shepard Mrs. Laura Hawley -
Thurston Rev. Reuben Gaylord.
Physiography and Geology of the Town; by Professor
William H. Hobbs The Flora of Norfolk; by Professor
J. H. Barbour and others.
Brief Sketches of Early Settlers of the Town and Their
Descendants Mention of a Large Number of Families
and Individuals, as learned in a great number of ways.
(See Index of names.)
First and Other Church Organs Memorial Windows and
Tablets The Methodist Episcopal Church The Catholic
' Church of the Immaculate Conception ' The Episcopal
' Church of the Transfiguration ' The Baptist Church.
Concluding Chapter Modem Norfolk The Robbins
School The Norfolk Library The Eldridge Gymnasium
Battell Memorial Fountain The Village Hall Norfolk
Downs Norfolk Water Company Newspapers Photography Summer Residents.
Norfolk's Necrology 603
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"A History of Norfolk, from 1738 to 1844, by
Auren Roys," containing eighty-nine pages, was published in 1847. Dr. Eldridge had been pastor of the
church here since April, 1832. In 1856 he announced
his purpose of writing a fuller history of the town,
and of delivering chapters of it to his people as a
discourse upon Thanksgiving days, from year to year.
The following introductory chapter was given as a discourse by Dr. Eldridge, Thanksgiving Day, November,
1856, and by the great kindness and courtesy of his
family, is given here, from the original manuscript.