Brief History of Shelton, Connecticut

Fairfield County


Walnut Tree Hill (northwest section)

Booth (northwest)

Huntington (central west section)

Shelton (central east section)

Upper White (northeast section)

White Hills (northeast section)

Lower White Hills (east central section)

Pine Rock Park (southeast section)


southwest  --  Far Mill River

Central  --  Means Brook into Far Mill River

east  --  Housatonic River


pre-Colonial days  --  Native Americans hunted, fished, and gathered food here.

1600s  --  English settlers of Stratford found a thriving Indian culture at a place called Coram, along the shore of the Housatonic River.

1659  --  Moses Wheeler was the first European to purchase land from the Pootatucks in White Hills.

1662  --  Stratford’s Joseph Judson bought land near the Far Mill River. 

1680  --  the first English settlers from Stratford established farms in Coram (the Long Hill section).  The Native Americans were given a reservation at Coram which they occupied until 1732.

By 1717   --  the northern part of Stratford formed into a parish (a district with its own church), which they called Ripton, perhaps in honor of the ancestral home in England of their most prominent resident, the merchant Daniel Shelton. (It was centered around today's Huntington Green.)

1720  --  a church built.

1724  --  Rev. Jedediah Mills of Windsor was ordained the first minister.

1732  -- the Native Americans on the Coram reservation moved to more northern lands. 

1754  --  many Shelton residents served in the French and Indian Wars and David Wooster became a colonial general.

1775-1783  -- the American Revolutionary War.  Shelton residents served at Bunker Hill, Long Island and Danbury, where General Wooster lost his life. 

1789  --  Shelton originally incorporated as the Town of Huntington, named after Connecticut governor Samuel Huntington of Norwich.

late 1700s --  the Leavenworth family started building ships in competition with the Derby shipyards for the West Indies trade. 

after 1800  --  bridges were built down river, blocking shipping, thereby contributing to the closing of ship building in Huntington. 

1812  --  The city's namesake, Edward N. Shelton, born in Huntington, the youngest son of Joseph and Charity Lewis Shelton.

much of the 19th century  --  Huntington remained an agricultural community.  M
igration out west increased and the population declined.

1823  --  New Stratford separated from Huntington to become Monroe.

Jacksonian Era  --  the Jacksonian Democrats, under the leadership of William L. Bennett, controlled Huntington for almost fifty years.

1836   --  in Derby, Edward Shelton founded Sanford & Shelton Company, the first tack factory in the United States.  Later he was president of the Ousatonic Water Company.

1840  --  Edward N. Shelton married Mary Jane DeForest, member of an old and prominent Derby family.  He built his famous home, "Greystone," at 9 Seymour Avenue, Derby.

1861-1865  --  American Civil War.  Huntington sent 58 privates to fight for the Union.

1863  --  the Ousatonic Water Company began dam construction across the Housatonic River.

1870  --  the Ousatonic Water Company dam completed.   

Shortly after the Civil War   --  the Ousatonic Water Company formed to exploit the energy of the Housatonic River for manufacturing.

The area along the Ousatonic Water Company mile-long canal dug below the Housatonic Dam and along the waterfront became the new business center of town.

1871  --  Trap Falls School, a one-room school house, built (originally located near the intersection of Trap Falls Road and Huntington Street.)  Later it was owned by the Bridgeport Hydraulic company and moved to their property.

1871  --  Edward Shelton moved his company Sanford & Shelton from Derby to Shelton.

1882  --  Borough of Shelton was incorporated and named for its leading citizen, Edward N. Shelton.

1888  --  the railroad extended from Derby through Shelton to Newtown. 

1891  --  the Ousatonic Water Company dam washed.

1891 (winter)  --  successful Shelton businessman David Wells Plumb chaired the meeting at which city residents voted to establish a public library.

1892  (October)  -- city residents appropriated a three-quarter mill tax to build the library.  David Wells Plumb named library president.  

On David Plumb's death, his widow Louise, donated property for the building of a new library building.  His brother, Horace, used the monies he received from his brother to fund the new building.  

1894  --  the new Romanesque brownstone library building (65 Wooster Street) completed.  Charles Beardsley, Jr. of Bridgeport was the architect.

1894  --  death of Edward N. Shelton at age 82.

1896  --  there were 25 businesses around the Ousatonic Water Company canal area.

1899  --  completion of a trolley line linking Shelton, Derby and nearby towns.

1911  -- Lafayette school built.

1917 --  the borough and earlier town governments merged into the City of Shelton.

1919  --  Shelton incorporated as the City of Shelton with Edward W. Kneen as mayor.

1941  --  end of the Shelton family ownership of "Greystone".  Mrs Frances Osborne Kellogg purchased it to prevent its demolition, but after World War II it was sold to the City of Derby and razed to provide the site for New Irving School.

1941-1945  --  World War II.

after World War II  --  the population doubled. 

1970   --  Trap Falls School given to the Shelton Historical Society and moved to their property on 70 Ripton Road. (The school is open to visitors. )

1973 (March)  --  voters approved a $500,000 for an addition to the library.

1974  --  the addition was completed.

1975  -- what was left of  industry was dealt a mortal blow with the arson destruction of the Sponge Rubber Factory. 

1975  --  Route 8 opened, linking Shelton with Winsted and Bridgeport.  This helped expedite Shelton’s transformation to a bedroom community for Stamford and New York. 

end of 1991  --  the Huntington Branch Library opened at the Shelton Community Center.

Today  -- the town's population is 38,000.


Shelton, Connecticut:

Plumb Memorial Library: History

Shelton Trails

Shelton: A Brief History

Derby History Quiz -- Edward Shelton.


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