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We are located in Killingworth, CT
PO Box 707
Killingworth, CT 06419


 
 




Killingworth Historical Highlights
  • Killingworth originally comprised present day Killingworth and the Town of Clinton to the south. Killingworth was first settled in 1663 as the plantation of “Homonoscitt” (Hammonasset). On May 9, 1667, it was ordered that “ye towne of Homonoscit shal for ye future be named Kenilworth.” Through corruption of spelling, Kenilworth became Killingworth which was used exclusively after 1707.

  • In October 1667 Rev. John Woodbridge, a graduate of Harvard, became minister. He was pastor until 1679 when he became pastor in Wethersfield.

  • Uncas, Sachem of the Mohegan, married the daughter of Sebaquaneh, Sachem of the Hammonassets and came into possession of all the Hammonassets' lands. On November 26, 1669, Uncas and his son, Joshuah, sold to the inhabitants of Killingworth all the lands in the township. They reserved for themselves "Six acres of Land on the Great Hammock."

  • In 1686, there were 36 persons (freemen only were counted) living in town.

  • The Rev. Abraham Pierson was called as pastor in 1694. He holds the distinction of being the first Rector or president of what was to become Yale College and held the first classes in Killingworth.

  • The Rev. Jared Eliot, one of Pierson’s pupils, preached for about two years and was called as pastor and ordained on October 26, 1709. He was a distinguished physician and scientist; a friend of Benjamin Franklin who visited him occasionally; and operated the iron forge off Ironworks Road in present Killingworth and developed a method for making iron from black sand that was located on the shore.

  • On May 8, 1735, an Act of Organization was passed by the General Assembly dividing the Town of Killingworth into two Distinct Ecclesiastical Societies. The act stated where the division line would be and made the northern part of town a separate ecclesiastical society. This line would be the boundary between Clinton and Killingworth.

  • On September 25, 1735, it was voted that a meetinghouse should be built. The building, built in 1736, became a society house or town hall instead of a meetinghouse as voted by "ye north Society in Killingworth." The meetinghouse was completed in 1743 and used until 1820 when the second meetinghouse was completed and dedicated. The site of the society house and meetinghouse is south of the Route 80 and 81 traffic circle and west of Route 81, near the current Killingworth True Value.

  • The first pastor of the Congregational Church in the Second Society was Rev. William Seward. He graduated from Yale College in 1734. The Rev. Seward was 26 at the time he became Pastor in North Killingworth. During his pastorate, he received 158 into full communion, and 466 owned the covenant. He baptized 1,343 in his own parish, and married 307 couples. His ministry in Killingworth lasted 44 years until his death in 1782 at the age of 70.




    Painting of Rev. William Seward, c. 1750

  • Emmanuel Episcopal Church was organized as the Episcopalian Society of North Bristol (now North Madison) on July 10, 1800. Nineteen of the original members were from North Bristol and two were residents of North Killingworth. The church was completed in 1816 and the sanctuary was consecrated by Bishop Hobart of New York in 1817. The first minister of the church was Nathan Bennett Burgess who had been rector of Christ Church in Guilford and St. John’s in North Guilford.

  • Present Killingworth did not become fully separated from Clinton as a Town until 1838. The split occurred by an act of the Legislature in May, 1838, it was highly favorable to North Killingworth which retained the name Killingworth, the original town records, rights to the town dock and beach, and two representatives to the General Assembly.


Daily Life in Killingworth

School Children

Schools
In 1703, the town voted to build on Meetinghouse Hill a school house sixteen feet square with a chimney. School Districts were formed and often changed, combined with others, or new ones created. In the eighteenth century, the schools were the Tower Hill, Roast Meat Hill, Meeting House, and Parmelee District  schools. The Tower Hill, Roast Meat Hill, and Parmelee schools were consolidated into the Union District school in 1800. By the mid-nineteenth century, the town had eight school districts, each with its own one room schoolhouse. The districts were Center, Southwest, Chestnut Hill, Union, Lane, Pine Orchard, Stone House and Black Rock. The one room schoolhouses were used until 1949. All of the schoolhouses still stand and two, the Union District and Black Rock schools, are owned by the Historical Society.

Town Hall
House built by Dr. Rufus Turner before it became the present Killingworth Town Hall.

Town Halls
The first society house was built in 1736. The second society house, later called the “Town House” and then “Town Hall,” was built in 1822 behind the Congregational church. The next town hall was originally the Agricultural Hall built in 1881. It was sold to the Killingworth Grange in 1910. The Grange sold it to the town in 1923. In 1966, the town sold the building, known as the Old Town Hall, to the Congregational Church. The present Town Hall on Route 81 was built around 1830 by Dr. Rufus Turner who purchased the property of Moses and Aaron Wilcox, twin brothers who moved from Killingworth and founded Twinsburg, Ohio.

Cemeteries
The cemeteries in Killingworth are the Union District (Roast Meat Hill Road); Old Southwest District (River Road); New Southwest District (Green Hill Road); Parker Hill District or Nettleton (North Parker Hill Road); the Old Yard also called Old Pine Orchard (North Chestnut Hill Road); Stone House District (Little City Road); Emmanuel Church Cemetery, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, also called New Pine Orchard (Bunnell Bridge Road); Lane District (Lovers Lane); and Evergreen, private association (Green Hill Road). The oldest cemetery is the Union District Yard, laid out March 22, 1738.

Farming, Mills, and Occupations
The principal occupation in Killingworth was farming, and from the founding of the town the residents were known as “the farmers.” The town, however, grew considerably and contained many small industries. In 1814, the grand list for North Killingworth was $31,645.65, with 212 dwelling houses and three merchant stores. The industries included saw mills, grist mills, shingle mills, flour mills, paper mills, carding mills, feed mills, fulling mills, axe helve or axe handle manufactories, tanneries, blacksmith’s shop, doctor’s office, store, tavern, and meat market.

There were two iron mills or forges, one on Ironworks Road on the Menunketesuck River and the other in Chatfield Hollow. These forges first made iron from bog iron found in the bogs and swamps. The forge off Ironworks Road was operated by Jared Eliot, was a significant one which supplied steel for Connecticut and other colonies and for the manufacture of armaments in the Revolution. The forge ceased operation in 1785. There were two paper mills, the Killingworth Manufacturing Company on Green Hill Road and the Elba Paper Mill on Paper Mill Road. In 1835, Abner Lane, an inventor and scientist, founded the A. Lane & Co., Makers of Axe and Pick Axe Handles, which operated two axe handle factories.

With the opening of the Erie Canal and then the railroads, agricultural products from the Midwest were able to reach eastern markets. Throughout New England, the farms with their mostly rocky soils were unable to compete, and farmers sold their land and moved to the Midwest. The population in Killingworth declined from 1,130 at the time of the split with Clinton to 528 in 1890 to 482 in 1932. Around the turn of the twentieth century, immigrants from Europe began to move into town and bought the farms of the descendants of the original settlers at very low prices. Most continued to farm and operate dairy and chicken farms, mostly at a subsistence level. This influx of new people was responsible for many of the early homesteads being preserved. Those houses that were not purchased were abandoned and fell into ruin, as did all of the mills. Population began to increase in the 1950s and today Killingworth is primarily a residential community.

 

Killingworth Images

The Killingworth Images, also called the automata, were located on Green Hill Road at its intersection with Coughlin Road. They were built by Clark Coe in the early 1900s for the amusement of his grandchildren.

There were twelve life-sized figures of people and animals and a Ferris wheel with twenty-two small dolls. He built a stone dam across a small stream which ran down the meadow across from his house. A sluiceway ran from the dam to operate a small water wheel that supplied the power for the movement of the images.

Each image was ingeniously made from driftwood, barrel staves, and tree branches. The figures were then painted and dressed in the clothing of the period. The bandmaster swung his baton while the fiddler and musician with lute played their instruments. A mother rocked her baby in a cradle and another mother used her hand to belabor a boy lying across her knees. A woman pulled a stubborn pig. A boy and a girl see-sawed continuously. Another figure was seated on a pig. The small dolls sat on swinging seats in the Ferris wheel which revolved endlessly.

Even at night, the ghostly squeaking of the images could be heard by passersby. Clark Coe died in 1919 and the property was later bought by Dwight Parmelee who reclothed and maintained the images for some years.

Bandmaster - Killingworth Images

"The Bandmaster" - Killingworth Images

Cowboy Valley

Cowboy Valley was a “Wild West” tourist attraction located southwest of the intersection of Stevens Road and Route 81. It opened in 1957 and closed in 1959, but despite its brief existence, is well remembered by residents living in the area at the time.  It consisted of a western town with a Bank, Gunsmith, Courthouse, Joe Jones, M. D., Wells Fargo Express, Land Office, Red Eye Saloon, a newspaper The Clarion, the Trading Post, Silver Lode Mining Co., Western Outfitters, General Store, Prairie Hotel, Silversmith, Barber Shop, and Bootmaker. Wild west enactments, including robberies and stagecoach holdups, were carried out in Cowboy Valley.

Cowboy Valley

Children chase a robber at Cowboy Valley.





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