HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL RESOURCES HISTORICAL SKETCH HISTORY OF THE LIBRARY HISTORIC LANDMARKS FAMOUS SONS OF SUFFIELD

HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL RESOURCES
Family histories of local families (200± volumes) include published histories, unpublished manuscripts, and genealogical correspondence.

Histories of old houses include information from land records and photo albums.

Vital records include the Barbour Collection, the Loomis Collection , and various church records. These are primarily early records (1670-1820). Later records are at Town Hall.

Cemetery records include headstone inscriptions and encompass the Old Center Burying Ground, West Suffield, Woodlawn, Hastings Hill and Phelps Road cemeteries plus some small family plots. Indexes were compiled in the 1940's.

Account book collection includes more than 100 volumes kept by local farmers, merchants, etc. This collection has been microfilmed.

A large collection of manuscripts, letters, diaries, deeds, estate papers, military records, and miscellaneous documents relating to Suffield history resides in the Historical Room.

Land records 1679-1750 are indexed.

Tax records, for scattered areas of town and incomplete dates, are not indexed.

Suffield news clippings, including obituaries, have been kept since the 1880’s.

Town histories for both Connecticut and Massachusetts,as well as county histories, are available.

All of the above materials are for reference use only and may not be taken out of the building.

HISTORICAL SKETCH
          On October 12, 1670 clearance was granted to John Pynchon of Springfield by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony to settle Stoney Brooke Plantation on land purchased by Pynchon from the Indians.

          John Pynchon and a committee of influential members met in January 1670 and drew up the basic guidelines for the establishment of this new town. They began granting land as well and laying out the order of the town by creating High Street and fixing a place for the meeting house to be built. They set rigid regulations that grantees had to abide by and fixed prices of goods for barter. By the end of 1674, thirty-seven families were established in Suffield. In 1675 settlers were forced to flee to Springfield during King Philip’s War. Houses and mills were burned, but settlement resumed in 1676. Suffield remained a Massachusetts town until 1749 when it became a part of Connecticut. Suffield was, for most of its history, primarily a small agriculturally based town. Tobacco put Suffield on the map economically. As in so many Connecticut valley towns, tobacco was an important crop almost right from the beginning. It was the primary crop in the 1800’s and through much of this century. The first cigar factory in the United States was built here in 1810.

          Today Suffield, with a population of about 11,500, still retains a flavor of its agricultural past. There are still small tobacco farmers, a few dairy farms, a large wholesale nursery, and other agricultural enterprises. Suffield encompasses 43 square miles, bounded on the east by the Connecticut River and on the west by the Congamond Lakes. It boasts two canals, the Windsor Locks Canal and the remains of the now extinct Farmington Canal. The Metacomet Trail, along the Talcott Mountain ridge, threads its way through West Suffield. Suffield Academy, a private high school founded in 1833 as the Connecticut Baptist Literary Institution, graces the town green. The town is adjacent to Bradley International Airport. A new industrial park near the airport holds out hope that the industrial base of the town will grow; but Suffield is primarily a residential town, and most of its citizens work in Hartford or Springfield or neighboring towns.

The information above and elsewhere on this web page was taken from the following sources:

    Alcorn, Robert Hayden. The Biography of a Town; Suffield Connecticut 1670-1970. Three Hundredth Anniversary Committee of the Town of Suffield, 1970.
           Sanderson, Paul G., Jr., ed. It Happened in Our Town. Suffield American Bicentennial Commission, 1978.

Send queries to:  Kent Memorial Library
 History & Genealogy
 50 North Main Street
 Suffield, CT 06078
 or
 history@suffield-library.org

HISTORY OF THE LIBRARY

          Libraries have been an important part of Suffield history for more than two centuries. In the late 1700's, a library was kept in the Gay Manse, home of Reverend Ebenezer Gay. In 1812 a subscription library was started by West Suffield residents at a cost of $2.00 to each subscriber. There are no records to show how long this library lasted.

          The first public library really began in 1884 when interested citizens raised money, purchased books and opened two afternoons a week in a building on the corner of Day Avenue. Library cards were $1.00, and the librarian volunteered her time.

          In 1893 the state legislature passed an act providing state aid to towns with free public libraries. A special town meeting was held March 14, 1894 to organize a free public library. Twelve directors were chosen and authorized to draw up by-laws and to purchase all the books and property of the previous Suffield Library Association. Quarters were established in the Loomis Block.

          In 1897 Sidney A. Kent, a Suffield native, graduate of C.L.I., and successful Chicago businessman offered to build a $35,000 library as a memorial to his parents. Land was purchased from C.L.I., the old South building was demolished, and the new Kent Memorial Library erected. It sat on the site of land purchased by the first Kent ancestor in Suffield. Sidney Kent furnished nearly 7000 books and periodicals and left an endowment of $25,000. The building was dedicated on November l, 1899.

          In the early 1970's, the library had outgrown its home and moved to a new building across the green in 1972. The old building was purchased by Suffield Academy and renovated for use as its library. The name, however, moved to the new building which is still supported by Kent funds.

Information for this sketch was taken from Celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of Suffield, Connecticut October 12, 13, and 14, 1920 with sketches from its past and some record of its last half century and of its present.

HISTORIC LANDMARKS
Hatheway House
King House Museum

FAMOUS SONS OF SUFFIELD
Adams, Willis Seaver (artist)
Alcorn, Hugh Meade (public servant)
Gay, Ebenezer (minister)
Graham, Sylvester (inventor of the Graham cracker)
Granger, Gideon Jr. (Postmaster General)
Lyman, Phineas (Major General of Connecticut troops in French and Indian wars)
Pease, Seth (Western Reserve surveyor)
Phelps, Oliver (Western Reserve land speculator)
Swan, Timothy (composer)
Sykes, Henry A. (architect)
Warner, Olin (sculptor)


Webpage content compiled by Anne W. Borg and formatted by Seth Borg
Last updated February 1998