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History of Brookfield, Connecticut facts for kids

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The History of Brookfield, Connecticut extends back roughly three centuries.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 1,018
1800 1,010 −0.8%
1810 1,037 2.7%
1820 1,159 11.8%
1830 1,255 8.3%
1840 1,255 0.0%
1850 1,359 8.3%
1860 1,224 −9.9%
1870 1,923 57.1%
1880 1,152 −40.1%
1890 989 −14.1%
1900 1,046 5.8%
1910 1,101 5.3%
1920 896 −18.6%
1930 926 3.3%
1940 1,345 45.2%
1950 1,688 25.5%
1960 3,405 101.7%
1970 9,688 184.5%
1980 12,872 32.9%
1990 14,113 9.6%
2000 15,664 11.0%
2010 16,452 5.0%
Sources: 1790-1820

To 1800

Before the English settled the area that became Brookfield, Connecticut, it was inhabited by the Wyantenuck and Paugusset Native Americans, members of the Algonquin Federation. According to early deeds for property on both sides of the Still River, "Sachem Pokono" the son of Sachem Waramaug who met the first settlers to Brookfield in 1710 (or "Pocono") led the local Indians for many years. Indian relics are still found in Brookfield.

At one time, the "Indian Tree", a wild cherry tree on Route 133 was said to be the spot where local Indians would meet. Area names that come from the local Indians include Lake Waramaug (for a chief or " Sachem" in Algonquin ). Lillinonah was the name of his daughter. Pocono Road was named for Chief Pocono.

In the 18th century the community was called "Newbury," a name that came from the three towns from which its land was taken – New Milford, Newtown, and Danbury.

Because it was difficult for community residents to get to one of the distant churches in those towns in winter, in 1752 the General Assembly gave the community the right to have worship in area homes from September through March. In 1754, the General Assembly granted permission for the Parish of Newbury to build its own meeting house and get its own minister. On September 28, 1757, the first Congregational Church building was dedicated. The Reverend Thomas Brooks was ordained as the first settled minister. In 1787, when the town was incorporated, it changed its name to Brookfield in honor of Brooks, who was still the minister.

Along the Still River mills were in operation as early as 1732 in an area that became known as the Iron Works District. Brookfield was a thriving town with iron furnaces, grist mills, sawmills, comb shops, carding and cotton mills, a paper mill, a knife factory, hat factories, stage-coach shops, lime kilns, harness shops and other plants operated there. The grist mill (now the Brookfield Craft Center) still stands. The Iron Works Aqueduct Company, formed in 1837 to supply water from mountain springs to the Iron Works District, still supplies water as the Brookfield Water Company.

Nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Town resident Susan Sherman wrote a diary in 1850–1851 now available online at a Web site of the University of Pennsylvania. The diary mentions frequent trips to Hartford, Danbury, and New Haven; embroidering and quilting; her own engagement and a description of her wedding. One section has recipes (mostly desserts).

Before 1912 the town had two train stations: one in the Iron Works District, near the present Brookfield Market and, second, Junction Station, near the corner of Junction Road and Stony Hill Road. Young people used the train to attend high school in Danbury.

The first Town Hall (first called the "Town House" was built in 1794 across from the meetinghouse (Congregational Church). Town business was conducted there until a new Town Hall was built in 1876 at a cost of $4,000. In 1975 the Town Hall was again moved to new quarters and the Brookfield Museum and Historical Society leased the structure.

Danbury & Bethel Gas and Electric Company brought electricity to Brookfield in 1915.

After Candlewood Lake was created, parts of the town of New Fairfield were left on the Brookfield side of the lake. So in 1961 Candlewood Shores, Hickory Hills, Candlewood Orchards, Arrowhead Point and the land that became Brookfield Town Park all became a part of Brookfield.

In 1955, the 14-mile-long Lake Lillinonah was created when the Shepaug Dam was built.

The .475 Wildey Magnum gun, later made famous in the 1985 Charles Bronson movie Death Wish 3, was developed by Wildey J. Moore in Brookfield in the early 1970s (the factory has since moved to Warren, Connecticut).

In the early 1970s, the town was home to LEGO USA headquarters.

In 1991 most buildings in Brookfield Center’s Historic District were named to the National Register of Historic Places.

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