History of East Hampton, CTWelcome To Historic East Hampton Connecticut
Incorporated in 1767
The first large group of settlers emigrated by sea to East Hampton in 1739 from Eastham, Massachusetts.
East Hampton was first settled in 1639, and was officially incorporated in 1767. The town’s name is derived from its location on the east bank of the Connecticut River. East Hampton has a long and storied history, and has played an important role in the development of the state of Connecticut.During the American Revolutionary War, East Hampton was the site of several battles, including the Battle of Hartford Heights. In the 19th century, the town became known for its thriving shipbuilding industry, and many of the town’s historic buildings date back to this period. Today, East Hampton is a picturesque New England town with a small-town feel. Despite its relatively small size, East Hampton is home to a number of historical sites and cultural attractions. Visitors to East Hampton can explore the town’s many Museums and Historic Landmarks, or enjoy its scenic hiking trails on the Air Line Trail and parks.
Did you know East Hampton was originally named Chatham?
In 1767, the town was incorporated as Chatham Connecticut in honor of the Earl of Chatham in England for his support of the American colonies at that time and was originally part of Middletown.
At the time of its incorporation by the General Assembly in 1767, it included in its bounds all of what had been previously known under the names of the parishes of East Middletown, most of the parish of Middle Haddam, all of East Hampton parish and a part of the parish of Westchester. Chatham, CT was officially given the name East Hampton in the year 1915, which is said to have been selected by the first settlers who had previously lived in Eastham, Mass.
Why do they call it Belltown USA?
In the 19th century, The Town of East Hampton became the center of the manufacturing of bells. So many bells were made in East Hampton that the town was given the nick name Belltown USA. The first factory was constructed in 1808 by William Barton on Bevin Hill later renamed Barton Hill. During the 1800s, thirty firms were said to have built and run shops, or small factories producing bell and bell related products. The most prominent names include William Barton, Bevin Bell, The N. N. Brass, The East Hampton Bell Company, Watrous Manufacturing, and Gong Bell Manufacturing.
East Hampton Stats
East Hampton covers approximately 36 square miles with one of Connecticut’s largest inland water bodies, Lake Pocotopaug. State parks and forests surround us on our northern, southern and western borders. We also are home to Connecticut’s last true covered bridge, the Comstock Covered Bridge, which crosses the Salmon River. In East Hampton you will find a community that supports a rural/suburban lifestyle that is family oriented. Our town offers a quality school system, two history museums, local parks with varied recreational programming for all ages, and dedicated public safety agencies.
The Legend Of Pocotopaug
The best-known version of the Legend of East Hampton’s Lake Pocotopaug is deeply rooted in the overwhelming fear that the Indians had of the Great Spirit, Hobomoko. Multiple drownings and devastating illness began to plague the Wangunk Indians causing the strong as well as the weak and the young and old alike to perish. The Indians, who lived on the banks of Lake Pocotopaug, became convinced that the Great God Hobo – moko was angry and was bringing his vengeance upon them. The tribe was haunted with fear and weary from the suffering they had endured.
In desperation, Chief Terramaugus summoned the tribal council to solicit the extent of their willingness to sacrifice to appease the God and gain his favor. The tribal medicine man, Gitchetan, was asked to commune with Hobomoko, solicit the God’s demand and their inevitable fate. Gitchetan learned that the supreme sacrifice of the fairest daughter of the tribe, Na-moenee, daughter of Chief Terramaugus, in the waters of Pocotopaug would put an end to the tribe’s suffering. Chief Terramaugus was stabbed by these words and agonized between his love for his daughter and his du- ty to the tribe. In short time, he proclaimed, “The will of Hobomoko shall be obeyed.” Trained in the sacred customs of her tribe, without self-pity, Namoenee willingly went to her death. Hobomoko was appeased and the curse was lifted. The plague ended and records, lore, or memory do not reveal another Indian drowning in the lake after Namoenee’s death.
When Bell Companies Dominated East Hampton
The bell companies that dominated the economy of East Hampton by making metal bells continued to flourish until the era of the bells used for horses and buggies gave way to the era of automobiles. Two firms continued to flourish into the 1950s by changing from making predominantly metal bells with bell toys being a minor part of their production in the 1800s, to primarily making bell toys. These two firms N. N. Hill Brass Co. and Gong Bell Mfg. Co., survived till the 1960s. The last remaining original operating bell shop, operated by Bevin Brothers, was razed by fire on May 27, 2012, but continues in full operation in a new East Hampton location; some other structures shut down while still structurally intact but remained unavailable for adaptive re-use, due to the presence of toxic substances at levels that resist remediation. Other mills, which were remediated or did not contain toxics, have been converted into offices, stores, and other small businesses.
250 Year Anniversary Logo
East Hampton is located 22 miles south of the state capital of Hartford and is equidistant from Boston and New York City. Our Town is known for its rich history, environmental assets, and small town charm. We strive to preserve our rural-suburban character, our farmlands, watershed land, and historic structures by taking a long-term view. Enriching quality of life, respecting Town heritage, and building community are among our highest priorities
Our Town covers approximately 36 square miles, with a population of approximately 13,000 residents, with one of Connecticut’s largest inland water bodies, Lake Pocotopaug at 512 acres. State parks and forests surround us on our northern, southern and western borders, along with the famous Comstock Covered Bridge across the Salmon River.
In East Hampton you will find a community that supports a rural/suburban lifestyle that is family oriented supported by a quality school system, two public libraries, two history museums, local parks with varied recreational programming for all ages, and professional public safety agencies. Our Public Works Department maintains over 100 miles of local roads, six miles of sidewalks, seven cemeteries and numerous drainage structures.
East Hampton is very fortunate to have dedicated volunteers, officials, and employees who take great pride in the Town and the services we provide to sustain a quality of life that we feel is unmatched in New England.
Things to Do and See
Summer Activities and Historic Landmarks
The Comstock Covered Bridge is located on 14 Bridge Street at the junction of Colchester and East Hampton crossing the Salmon River.
Lake Pocotopaug is a big part of East Hampton’s History and in recent times has become a popular resort area surrounded by numerous homes
Air Line Trail
The Old Air Line Trail in East Hampton dates from the 1870s, and today draws walkers, horseback riders and bikers for the views, and relaxation.
Sears Park is situated on Lake Pocotopaug the park was donated to the Town in 1910 by the Sears family. The Park, Pavilion and Willian O’Neill Performing Arts Gazebo are located at 68 North Main Street in East Hampton, Connecticut.
Hurd State Park
Enjoy scenic views of the Connecticut River while surrounded by nature. Activities at Hurd Park include birding, hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, and camping. Parking is available at the intersection of 151 and Hurd Park Road.
Nelson’s Family Campground is located at 71 Mott Hill Road in East Hampton. Whether for the day, week, month or season, the campground is an ideal place to camp, relax and enjoy the great outdoor life with your friends and family.
N.N. Brass Hill Factory
The success of N.N. Hill Brass Company was largely based upon Norman Hill’s innovation of stamping bells
Bevin Bell Factory
Bevin Bells was founded by brothers William Bevin, Chauncey Bevin, and Abner Bevin in 1832.
American Distilling dates back to the 1800’s, becoming the cornerstone of Witch Hazel in Americana.
Restauraunts in East Hampton, CT
Lakeside Bar and Grill
Lakeside Bar & Grill is a one-of-a-kind culinary establishment with a menu inspired by the idea of simple and honest cooking.
Useful Town Links
Chatham Health District
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Featuring Present Day News, History, and Local East Hampton Events
CT River Kayak
Sunday September 18th 2022The Chatham Historical Society and East Hampton Parks and Rec are sponsoring a leisurely kayak paddle from Hamburg Cove in Hamburg,Connecticut to the Baldwin Bridge in Old Lyme, on Saturday, September 18. Paddlers can meet at the parking lot...
Hurd State Park Walk
Hurd State Park WalkThe Chatham Historical Society (CHS) is organizing a hike at Hurd State Park on Sunday, July 11th at 10 am as part of its “Explore East Hampton” monthly series of walks. Come for a hike and learn history of Hurd State Park. The walk is sponsored by...
2020 Antique Appraisal Day
Antique Appraisal Day 2021 Saturday, March 20th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Chatham Historical Society will host its 25th annual Antique Appraisal Day at the East Hampton Town Hall, 1 Community Drive Dr. Verbal Evaluations The Chatham Historical Society only provides...
The Official East Hampton, CT Historical Society Website
This site intends to provide information to the public about the Chatham Historical Society’s upcoming Calendar of Events and Programs with the purpose of bringing together people interested in the History of Cobalt, Middle Haddam, and East Hampton, Connecticut.