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Rowayton History

Rowayton HistoryRowayton dates its beginnings to 1651 with a transaction between European settlers and the local native Indians. Those original farmers and fishermen gave way to oystermen and sea captains, and then to our modern giants of industry. Find out more about our colorful history.  Learn More 

 Then and Now

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Guiders Corner
112 Rowayton Avenue

From 1868 to 1910 Charles Guider ran a general store and blacksmith shop on what is now the corner of Rowayton Avenue and McKinley Street. There was also a local meeting house on the second floor. In 1915 Pincus M. Needles ran the store as a grocery, which also became a big penny candy hangout for local children. In 1926 the building became Butler's Grocery, and in 1945, Louies Newspaper store.

 

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Meads Store
167 Rowayton Avenue

Built in the mid 1800's, Meads store was Rowayton's first department store and also the site of the town's first telephone. On December 18, 1934, the store was destroyed by a fire so intense that the hose ignited at the hydrant. This site is presently White Bridge Marina.

 

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Free Library and Reading Room
101 Rowayton Avenue

Organized in 1903, the present library association soon outgrew its first location at 91 Rowayton Avenue and soon moved to 101 Rowayton Avenue (now a restaurant), shown here, remaining until 1926.

 

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Reliance Hook and Ladder Company
145 Rowayton Avenue

In 1905, the men of the Reliance Hook and Ladder Company built a firehouse with porches overlooking the river, with full basement, meeting rooms, a dumb waiter, and pool table. It stood less than a hundred feet away from the competing Rowayton Hose Company. The library association purchased the building in 1926 and it housed the library for the next 40 years. The building now serves as the Rowayton Arts Center.

 

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Rowayton Market
157 Rowayton Avenue

The Rowayton Historical Society's records indicate this building has been in continual operation as a market for over two hundred years. The site was a General Store operated by Samuel and James Richards in the year 1753. From 1866 to 1868 the first Lyceum Library Association organized and met in the basement. In 1906 the Drug Store was established by Charles Bartlett in the small building to the right of the Market.

 

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Winthrop House
166 Rowayton Avenue

During the eventful year of 1848 Charles L. Raymond built a four-story summer hotel on the southeast corner of what is now Wilson and Rowayton Avenues. Guests could enjoy a large fenced in lawn (where the real estate office and stores are today) and walk along some property on the Five Mile River. After a period as a private dwelling, circa World War One, it was purchased during the Second World War by the Bassler brothers.

 

 

Civil War

civil war vetsThe Civil War had a profound effect on American life. It ushered the transition from an 18th century rural, agrarian society to the 19th century industrial age. No other event is as central to colored troopswhat America became and no other war changed the lives of such a significant percentage of the population. Rowayton was no exception.

There are at least 60 soldiers with connections to Rowayton who served in the war, price and most returned to the Norwalk area to live and work and raise their families. They worked as laborers, oystermen, surgeons, hat makers, railroad workers, and ministers, and many were involved in the development of the village. At least 38 of these veterans are buried in Rowayton, at Rowayton Union Cemetery and Raymond civil war logoCemetery.

The RHS has done extensive research on these men and is happy to share our findings. For more information, please contact us at info@rowaytonhistoricalsociety.org.


Honor Our Local Veterans from the Civil War

Arnold, Frederick

H Co., MN 4th Infantry

Ayres, Elbert B.

B Co., 17th CT Infantry

Ayres, Edward    

D Co., CT 7th Infantry

Baker, Henry      

G Co., 3rd CT Infantry

Bechtold, John H.   

D Co., OH 29th Infantry

Boomer, Hiram E.

C Co., CT 21st Infantry

Brady, Edwin L. 

U.S. Navy

Brady, William Nicholas

U.S. Navy

Brundage, John G.

F Co., 4th Infantry/17th Infantry

Brundage, Joseph L

F Co., NY 5th Heavy Artillery

Clock, Charles H.

G Co., CT 10th Infantry

Cowperthwaite, William W.

K Co., NJ 22nd Infantry

Crockett, William Gardiner

H Co., CT 8th Infantry

Cushman, William H.

U.S. Navy

Cutbill, Henry C.

L Co., NY 6th Cavalry

Dauchy, Allen

F Co., CT 8th Infantry Volunteers 

Dauchy, William E.

F Co., CT 8th Infantry Volunteers

Dauchy, William

E Co., CT 12th Infantry, CT 17th Infantry

Dingee, George

C Co., CT 28th Infantry

Doty, Charles E. 

F Co, CT 17th Infantry Co. D/B/I

Fairweather, George Nelson

H Co., CT 8th Infantry

Ferris, Stephen, H.

H Co., CT 8th Infantry

Ferris, William H. Jr.

H Co., CT 28th Infantry/I Co., CT 10th Inf.

Finch, Lyman S.

G Co., CT 10th Infantry

Fowler, Douglas

A Co., 17th Infantry CT

Grant, Jacob

H Co., CT 8th Infantry

Gregory, James G.  

K Co., NY 48th Regt. C Co.

Gregory, Henry S.

I Co., 23rd Infantry, CT

Guider, Charles H. 

U.S. Navy

Hackley, Charles E.

NY 2nd Cavalry

Homan, William Howard

G Co., CT 10th Infantry

Hooton, Thomas

D Co., CT 7th Infantry, also E Co.

Hoyt, George A.

H Co. CT 8th Infantry

Hoyt, John

F Co., CT 3rd Infantry

Hoyt, Lorenzo L.

B Co., CT 17th Infantry

Hyler, William

K Co., NY 9th Infantry

Ingersoll, Martin Van Buren

G Co., CT 23rd Volunteer Infantry

Ives, Charles

F Co., NY Vol. 16th  

Johnson, Elias 

B Co., CT 17th Infantry

Johnston, Henry

U.S. Navy

Knowlton, Martin

H Co., CT 8th Infantry

Lockwood, W. Henry

B Co., CT 28th Infantry

Malkin, William

H Co., CT 13th infantry

McGraw, John

K Co., CT 8th Infantry

Meeker, Seth H.

G Co., CT 10th Infantry/F Co., CT 3rd Inf.

Metcalf, John W. 

F Co., CT 17th Infantry

Mills, William E.

B Co., CT 17th Infantry

Mills, William H.

C Co., CT 28th

Millspaugh, Andrew

K Co., NY 124th Infantry

Morrison, Samuel C.

A Co., 17th CT Infantry

Morton, Fred 0.

H Co., MA 10th Infantry

Nash, Wilbur

C Co., CT 27th Infantry

Oakes, William Charles

B Co., CT 6th Infantry

Raymond, Horace H.

G Co., CT 15th Infantry

Raymond, Henry M

G Co., 10th Infantry

Sammis, William A

H Co., CT 8th Infantry

Scofield, David C.

B Co., CT  28th Infantry

Scofield, Theodore C.

K Co., CT 6th Infantry 

Seeley, Albert O.

F Co., 3rd Infantry; B Co., CT 17th Infantry

Sherwood, Samuel B.  

M Co., NY 16th Heavy Artillery

Smith, Henry T. 

A Co.,  CT 17th Infantry  

St. John, Benjamin   

I Co.,  CT 23rd Infantry

Stevens, James A.

F Co., CT 17th Infantry

Swords, Alfred

A Co., CT 17th Infantry/Co. 75th 2nd IV

Tooker, John   

G Co., CT 10th Infantry

Tuttle, Edwin L.

G Co., CT 5th Infantry

Tuttle, George O.

A Co., CT 17th Infantry

Vincent, Gilbert  

G Co., CT 10th Infantry

Waterbury, Samuel W.

D Co., CT 7th Infantry

Webb, Henry L.  

G Co., CT 10th Infantry

Whitney, James  

F Co., CT 17th Infantry/Co. G, VRC 7th

White, Edward

 

Wilkins, William H.  

H Co., CT 8th Infantry

Wing, Henry E.

C Co., CT 27th Infantry

Winus, John H.   

I Co., CT 10th Infantry

 
   

Most of these men are buried in Rowayton Union Cemetery on Rowayton Avenue across from Sheffield Avenue. John Bechtold is buried in Raymond Cemetery (212 Rowayton Avenue), and you will find his tombstone, along with those of other veterans (some from the Revolutionary War) there. Research for this list is ongoing, and we would appreciate any information you might have about locals who served during the war.

 

 

 

 

 

Seeley-Dibble-Pinkney House

Rowayton’s Pinkney Park is the picturesque setting for the Rowayton Historical Society headquarters, the Seeley-Dibble-gertie dibblePinkney House. The community purchased the house from the widowed Dorothy Cowles Pinkney in 1971, and the society subsequently redecorated and furnished it in keeping with a prosperous farm home of the period 1850-1890.

Today, the grey shingled house set on a point of land jutting into the Five Mile River is known as the Seeley-Dibble-Pinkney House and belongs to the Sixth Taxing District which comprises Rowayton. Although the exact date of the house is uncertain, the building was probably erected between 1790 and 1820. Records concerning the homestead go back much further than this. They show that in 1737 Samuel Richards bought two acres and one “rood” of then common land on the Five Mile River. In 1753, he added three “roods” of land and a marshy edge. Presumably, a dwelling was built, as land “with buildings” were allotted to two more generations of the Richard family until it was sold to William Whiting. Shortly afterward, in 1820, Alfred Seeley purchased the house, its property and the store which is now the Rowayton Market. In addition to the market, which was the principal store in the village, Seeley also owned sizable farms both in downtown Rowayton and in the Crest Road-Ridgewood Road area.

Seeley built the first packet to New York, the “Enterprise,” constructing it on the Five Mile River property. The “Enterprise” carried produce and the necessities of life to and from New York markets and along Long Island Sound. When he replaced her with the “Julia” in 1836, there still was no other sailing packet going regularly from the area to New York.

The family prospered and the house grew. At this time, there is no way to tell the exact size of the original Seeley home. There is evidence of its having been a saltbox with a two-story, eight-room main section and a one-story back section of one or two rooms. There have been many alterations. The roof has been raised; so have the ceilings.  In the back section, two rooms have been combined to make one. Some of the windows are Victorian, others are much older.

Until the house was purchased by the town of Rowayton, it was owned and lived in by one family, through the feminine line from Seeley to Dibble to Pinkney. Alfred Seeley and Hannah Hoyt Seeley of New Canaan were newlyweds when they purchased the homestead on the Five Mile River in 1820. Later, Mrs. Seeley always kept a lamp in the south window of the sitting room so it would shine downriver and welcome home the menfolk arriving by boat.

The Seeley’s had five children—Oliver, Stephen, Julia, Emily and Hannah Minerva. It was Hannah, the youngest daughter, who married Alphonso Dibble and took title to the house and the store in 1890. The Dibbles had eight children, and, once again, the youngest daughter took title to the house.

This youngest girl, who was to inherit the homestead, was Gertrude Hannah, who was married to William Pinkney. Until she died at the age of 97 in 1967, Gertrude’s recollections of her girlhood in the Seeley-Dibble-Pinkney House were extremely vivid. And it is through her generosity that many of her family’s papers are preserved in the Society’s files.


Adapted from the article written by Jeanne Bender for the Darien Times, September 25, 1980
Photo: Gertrude "Gertie" Dibble and friends enjoying dressing up in boys' bathing suits.  c. 1888