Clinton, Connecticut - Some History
First home to the Hammonascit people and later established as a plantation
for English settlers in 1663, Clinton, Connecticut boasts a rich and remarkable
history. Yale University's first classes were conducted here. None other
than Benjamin Franklin, Colonial Postmaster General, personally determined
the site of a Boston Post Road milestone on current Main Street. Hundreds
of trading ships were built and launched from Clinton's shipyards and
the Ponds Extract Company (now part of Unilever) set up shop in town to
harvest, process, and bottle witch hazel. For generations, vacationers,
artists, and year-round residents have found pleasure and a deep community
spirit at our shore. Since 1938, the Clinton Historical Society has researched,
recorded, and shared stories of Clinton's past. Now, we invite you to
discover life in Clinton in the days and centuries gone by.
The name “Clinton” – In 1667, the original settlement was named Kenilworth by Hartford officials, probably at the request of Edward Griswold, the town’s first delegate to the Hartford General Court. Griswold had been born at Kenilworth in Warwickshire, England. Local dialect and irregular spelling soon altered Kenilworth into “Killingworth”. In 1838 the northern portion of the town separated from the original coastal community, taking with it the name Killingworth. The southern section chose “Clinton” as its new name, honoring the nationally popular New York politician, Dewitt Clinton.
Famous Sons of Clinton, Connecticut
Abraham Pierson. The pastor of the Town's Congregational Church, the Reverend Pierson was appointed first Rector of what became Yale University. Its early students were taught in Pierson's parsonage from 1701 until his death in 1707.
Jared Eliot. A Yale graduate, the Reverend Eliot succeeded Pierson as Congregational minister, and served for 56 years. He was also renowned throughout New England as a physician, botanist, and agriculturist; his accomplishments in metallurgy were awarded a gold medal by London's Society of Arts, and he was elected a member of the prestigious Royal Society. Eliot maintained a friendship and ongoing correspondence with Benjamin Franklin.
Abel Buell. Creative and gifted in mechanics, Buell became a respected gold and silversmith, engraver, machine designer, and cartographer. His elegant 1784 map was the first to depict the newly-formed United States of America.
Horatio Wright. Educated at West Point, Wright rose rapidly to the rank of Major General during the Civil War where he ably commanded the First Division of the Sixth Corps in a succession of key battles. Following the war, he commanded the Army Corps of Engineers as it helped to rebuild the nation.
Charles Morgan. With a family background in merchant shipping, Morgan established his own maritime firm in New York. He pioneered in iron ship construction and steam propulsion, owning America's largest pre-Civil War fleet of cargo and passenger vessels. His shipping empire included his railroad from New Orleans to what is now Morgan City, Louisiana. Morgan was among the multimillionaire industrial giants of his era but never forgot his beloved Clinton. In 1871 he built and endowed The Morgan School as a gift to his town
The Clinton Historical Society holds many historical treasures, such as photographs, ledgers, artwork, and other materials. Stop by on a Wednesday between 9 am - Noon and see what they have to offer, or if you have some free time, CHS would love any volunteers!