Wethersfield, Connecticut facts for kids

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Wethersfield, Connecticut
Town
Joseph Webb and Isaac Stevens Houses
Joseph Webb and Isaac Stevens Houses
Official seal of Wethersfield, Connecticut
Seal
Location within Hartford County, Connecticut
Location within Hartford County, Connecticut
Country United States
State Connecticut
NECTA Hartford
Region Capitol Region
Settled 1634
Incorporated 1822
Area
 • Total 13.1 sq mi (34.0 km2)
 • Land 12.3 sq mi (31.9 km2)
 • Water 0.8 sq mi (2.1 km2)
Elevation 45 ft (14 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 26,668
 • Density 2,031.5/sq mi (784.4/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 06109
Area code(s) 860
FIPS code 09-84900
GNIS feature ID 0213533
Website www.wethersfieldct.com

Wethersfield is a town in Hartford County, Connecticut, USA, immediately south of Hartford along the Connecticut River. Many records from colonial times spell the name "Weathersfield", while Native Americans called it "Pyquag". The town's motto is "Ye Most Auncient Towne in Connecticut", and its population was 26,668 in the 2010 census. The town is primarily served by Interstate 91. The neighborhood known as Old Wethersfield is the state's largest historic district, spanning two square miles and 1,100 buildings, dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

History

Founded in 1634 by a Puritan settlement party of "10 Men" including John Oldham, Robert Seeley, Thomas Topping and Nathaniel Foote, Wethersfield is arguably the oldest town in Connecticut, depending on one's interpretation of when a remote settlement qualifies as a "town". Along with Windsor and Hartford, Wethersfield is represented by one of the three grapevines on the Flag of Connecticut, signifying the state's three oldest European settlements. The town took its name from Wethersfield, a village in the English county of Essex.

During the Pequot War, on April 23, 1637, Wongunk chief Sequin attacked Wethersfield with Pequot help. They killed six men and three women, a number of cattle and horses, and took two young girls captive. They were daughters of Abraham Swain or William Swaine (sources vary) and were later ransomed by Dutch traders.

Four witch trials and three executions for witchcraft occurred in the town in the 17th century. Mary Johnson was convicted of witchcraft and executed in 1648, Joan and John Carrington in 1651. Landowner Katherine Harrison was convicted, and although her conviction was reversed, she was banished and her property seized by her neighbors.

Silas Deane, commissioner to France during the American Revolutionary War, lived in the town. His house is now part of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum. In May 1781, at the Webb House on Main Street, General George Washington and French Lt. Gen. Rochambeau planned the Siege of Yorktown, which culminated in the independence of the then rebellious colonies.

The Wethersfield Volunteer Fire Department was chartered by the Connecticut Legislature on May 12, 1803, making it the first formally chartered fire department in Connecticut, and is one of the oldest chartered volunteer fire department in continuous existence in the United States.

Explorer Number
1 Nathaniel Foote
2 Abraham Finch
3 Robert Seeley
4 John Oldham
5 John Clarke
6 Nathaniel Dickinson
7 Andrew Ward
8 William Swayne
9 John Strictland
10 Leonard Chester

Wethersfield was "for a century at least, the centre of the onion trade in New England", during the late 1700s and early to middle 1800s. "Outsiders dubbed the Connecticut village 'Oniontown,' with a crosshatch of affection and derision, for this was home of the world-famous Wethersfield red onion."

In addition, the town was home to William G. Comstock, a well-known 19th century gardening expert and author of the era's most prominent gardening book, Order of Spring Work. In 1820, Comstock founded what would become Comstock, Ferre & Company, currently America's oldest continuously operating seed company, pioneering the commercial sale of sealed packets of seeds as he had learned from the Amish. Other nationally prominent seed companies in and around the town are the offspring of this agricultural past.

A meteorite fell on Wethersfield on November 8, 1982. It was the second meteorite to fall in the town in the span of 11 years, and crashed through the roof of a house without injuring the occupants, as the first Wethersfield meteorite had also done. The 1971 meteorite was sold to the Smithsonian, and the 1982 meteorite was taken up as part of a collection at the Yale Peabody Museum.

Geography

Wethersfield is located at 41° 42' 43" North, 72° 39' 48" West (41.7122° -72.6636°).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 13.1 square miles (34.0 km2), of which 12.3 square miles (31.9 km2) is land and 0.81 square miles (2.1 km2), or 6.10%, is water.

Wethersfield is bordered by Hartford on the north, Rocky Hill on the south, Newington on the west, and across the Connecticut River by East Hartford on the northeast and Glastonbury on the east.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 3,825
1840 3,824
1850 2,523 −34.0%
1860 2,705 7.2%
1870 2,693 −0.4%
1880 2,173 −19.3%
1890 2,271 4.5%
1900 2,637 16.1%
1910 3,148 19.4%
1920 4,342 37.9%
1930 7,512 73.0%
1940 9,644 28.4%
1950 12,533 30.0%
1960 20,561 64.1%
1970 26,662 29.7%
1980 26,013 −2.4%
1990 25,651 −1.4%
2000 26,271 2.4%
2010 26,668 1.5%
Est. 2014 26,446 −0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
See also: List of Connecticut locations by per capita income

As of the 2000 census, there were 26,268 people, 11,214 households, and 7,412 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,119.9 people per square mile (818.7/km²). There were 11,454 housing units at an average density of 924.3 per square mile (356.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 93.19% White, 2.09% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.58% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.82% from other races, and 1.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.19% of the population.

There were 11,214 households, out of which 25.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.9% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 30.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.89.

The town population was distributed with 20.1% under the age of 18, 4.8% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 23.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 86.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $53,289, and the median income for a family was $68,154. (These figures had risen to $66,044 and $86,432 respectively as of a 2007 estimate.) Males had a median income of $43,998 versus $37,443 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,930. About 2.4% of families and 4.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

Greater Hartford's major system of public transportation is currently Connecticut Transit (CT Transit), a Connecticut Department of Transportation-owned bus service operating routes throughout the New Haven, Stamford, Hartford and other metro areas. Wethersfield is served by route numbers 20, 43, 47, 53, 55, 61, and 91.

Major roads include:

  • Main Street in Old Wethersfield
  • Connecticut Route 287 (Prospect st.)
  • Connecticut Route 175 (Wells Road)
  • Connecticut Route 99 (Silas Deane Highway)
  • Connecticut Route 15 and U.S. Route 5 (Berlin Turnpike and Wilbur Cross Highway)
  • Connecticut Route 3 (Maple Street and Putnam Bridge)
  • Interstate 91 (Exits 25–26)

Wethersfield was once connected to Hartford by streetcar and by passenger service on the Valley Railroad. Its tracks still provide a route for sporadic freight trains between Hartford and Old Saybrook.

Culture

Landmarks and historic district

Three buildings in Wethersfield are designated as historic landmarks by the National Register of Historic Places:

  • Buttolph-Williams House — 249 Broad St. (added December 24, 1968)
  • Joseph Webb House — 211 Main St. (added November 15, 1966)
  • Silas Deane House — 203 Main St. (added November 6, 1970)

In 1970, Old Wethersfield, the district bounded by Hartford, the railroad tracks, I-91 and Rocky Hill, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This is the largest historic district in Connecticut, with two square miles containing 1,100 buildings, many dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

Other points of interest

Wethersfield Cove - 1
Wethersfield Cove
  • Ancient Burying Ground
  • Broad Street Green
  • Roger Butler House
  • Captain James Francis House
  • Great Meadows
  • Heritage Way — a "linear park" and multi-use path that connects Wethersfield's open areas and recreation facilities
  • Hurlbut-Dunham House
  • Keeney Memorial Culture Center — home of the Wethersfield Museum and Visitor Center
  • Millwoods Park/Pond
  • Wethersfield Cove
  • Wethersfield Historical Society
  • Wethersfield Skate Park
  • Willard Pool
  • Wintergreen Woods — 100 acres (0.40 km2) forest with vernal pools and walking trails
  • Eleanor Buck Wolf Nature Center
  • 9/11 Memorial Sports Center

Music

The historic First Church of Christ, Wethersfield, is the home of the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival USA, a major national competition for young organists held annually since 1998.

Appearances in popular culture

Wethersfield was the setting for the children's novel The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, as well as the setting of the one-act play The Valiant by Holworthy Hall and Robert Middlemass.

Actor-turned-author Thomas Tryon used his native Wethersfield as the setting for his action/romance novels The Wings of the Morning and In the Fire of Spring, as well as a mystery/horror novel and film The Other.

The short film Disneyland Dream features the Barstow family from Wethersfield, including footage of their neighborhood.

The novel Parrot and Olivier in America by two-time Booker Prize-winning Australian author Peter Carey was largely set in the town of Wethersfield. The novel touches on some hallmarks of its history including the predominance of onion farming and the old state prison.


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