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Salisbury, CT history

Salisbury, Litchfield County, CT

Salisbury, Connecticut -- the northwest-most township of the state, and of Litchfield County -- is where Between the Lakes Group is located, and we're particularly interested in the history here. 

The township includes the villages of Salisbury and Lakeville, as well as the hamlets or neighborhoods of Lime Rock, Amesville, Twin Lakes, Taconic, and Mount Riga.  Additional historic names for locales in the Town of Salisbury include Furnace Village (=Lakeville), Hammertown, Joyceville, Weatogue, Chapinville (=Taconic), and others. 

You would never guess it to look around Salisbury now, but for two hundred years, culminating in the early 1920s, Salisbury was an important iron mining, refining, and manufacturing center.  Today, it's a popular upscale weekend home locale for New Yorkers and Bostonians. 


Our Current Salisbury Offerings:


--Trinity Lime Rock in Context -- a History (NEW!)  Lakeville Crucifix This is emphatically NOT the kind of parish history you're used to.  In writing this volume, the author quickly realized that a simple chronicle of the parish founding, with lists of Churchwardens and Clergy since was not worth all that much.  Churches always have existed in a historical context: what environment gave rise to the beginnings of the parish?  Not just who built the church buildings, but why they built them the way they did instead of some other way?  Not just how has the parish reached to major world events, but why did it react the way it did?  How the church survived major events that killed other churches similarly situated? 


 In other words, the CONTEXT -- religious, social, economic, situational, political, personal -- in which the church was founded and still exists. Not just the "who" ran the parish, but where they came from, why they chose Trinity, why they left, and what happened to them after that.   This context, of course, is local history. 


Yes, the volume does include all of the expected parish history ingredients: the list of clergy and Wardens, by year, but also all the Vestry members. Not just the name of the actual architect, but also why he was the architect instead of the architect the parish claimed for many years.  A bit of unexpected history of the neighbors: did you know that Trinity is the closest Episcopal parish church to a major auto racing venue in North America?  It is, and there is a lot of history there as one might expect -- and not all of it is pretty or uplifting.  Other parish churches in the area, both Episcopal and other denominations?  This book has them and considers the interaction of Trinity with them over the years.


Trinity Lime Rock is still there, still functioning, and has a major history about it in print.  It is available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble -- just look for "Trinity Lime Rock in Context" on either site, and you'll find it.


Read more about it in our blog HERE.



--Lakeville Crucifix  Lakeville Crucifix In 1882, the Roman Catholic priest in Lakeville erected a  12 foot tall   crucifix on the lawn of his parish church.  The following summer the local Protestants, offended by this  symbol, petitioned him to remove it.  His parishioners retaliated by boycotting the Protestant merchants, and then the merchants called upon the local iron magnate (William H. Barnum) to fire all his Catholic workers.  Interestingly, Barnum was also the Chairman of the National Democratic Committee at  that time, and among the leaders of the Protestants was a former Governor of Connecticut.  Predictably, the story does not end there. 


The Lakeville Crucifix became page 1 news in the New York Times, was covered extensively by the Hartford Courant, and also received coverage in newspapers across the United States.  Today, we can understand this episode as the collision of several trends, some of them centuries in the making. Nativism clearly played an important role.  The Roman Catholic Church was in the process of monumental changes.  Irish immigrants, impoverished and often illiterate, were arriving in the United States by the hundreds of thousands in the wake of the Irish Potato Famine.  The vestiges of Puritanism were still operative in rural Connecticut.  National politics in the United States were sharp-elbowed and hints of chicanery were frequent. 


Then the Lakeville Crucifix faded from popular memory for nearly a century and a half until this book revisits old newspapers of the day to recreate the episode, explore its roots, and see just where it went from there.  Please visit Amazon.com to read about this volume and order it -- it is also available as an eBook for the Kindle.  See this on AMAZON.COM or read more about it HERE.


--Lakeville Horse Show Program (1964).   This show programs lists exhibitors and competitors by name.  Competing in this show required planning, serious purpose, and the willingness to advance entry fees weeks in advance of the dates of the show, rather than the usual practice at smaller horse shows today of entering on the day of the show, or even just as a class was about to begin.  The Lakeville Horse Show, back in these days, was an important regional horse show. The show documented in this program was unusual by today’s standards. Not a jumper show, or a breed show, or a hunter show, or a Western show, but a horse show.  There were classes for hunters and jumpers (indeed the show carried a B rating from the AHSA in those divisions) to be sure, but there were also saddle seat/gaited horse classes, Western classes, breed classes for Arabians, Morgans, and Hackney ponies, driving classes, and even barrel racing classes.   The advertisements in the program reflect a time when the Northwest Corner of Connecticut was a different place.  Not yet “discovered” by conspicuous consumers, there were still many working farms in the area – since replaced for the most part by grand weekend houses.  The Lakeville Pony Club, the show’s beneficiary then as it is today, was less than ten years old in 1964 (now it ranks as one of the oldest continuous clubs in the United States Pony Clubs), and one finds many of its members of that era listed with “Entry” next to their name in the list of exhibitors and competitors by number – the kids who were waiting to see which horse Miss Lucy Drummond, who ran both the Pony Club and Holley Hill Farm, would mount them on come the days of the show.  76+ pages, in PDF format, download now for $4.50.

 Lakeville Horse Show program (1964)


Salisbury CT - land speculation - first publication -- Land Speculation in Salisbury, CT (1739 – 1761) by Judith M. Sherman.  In addition to the importance of this master's thesis in the history of Salisbury, it also marked a trend in historiography that was only beginning to appear in local history when it was written in 1990: quantitative analysis based on early records.   This  rigorous approach was at the time only beginning to take the place of the generalization and ancestor puffery that characterized much local history at the time.  The data collection for this paper began a year or two earlier, with the author’s “Salisbury, CT: the Early Years” – also available from Between the Lakes Group (see below) – and the approach was the happy result of three factors: the author's finely honed analytical skills that had propelled her successful Wall Street career, the recognition and support of her approach by Hunter College and the Graduate Center of CUNY, and well-preserved colonial records in Salisbury, CT.  The choice of her topic was based on real estate speculation in the 1980s that was largely driven by New York City residents bidding up the cost of second home real estate in Salisbury combined with the author's skepticism about the then-prevailing view that real estate speculation by “outsiders” had been rampant in Colonial times in Salisbury as well.  The paper had been sought for publication by the William and Mary Quarterly, then as now the preeminent learned journal of American Colonial history, but the author withdrew it to offer it to a local historical society which did not publish it -- although the author subsequently noted that rather abruptly people in the local historical community ceased alluding to rampant land speculation in colonial Salisbury by “outsiders”.   73+ pages, in PDF format.  Download now for $7.00.

 Salisbury CT Land Speculation by Judith Sherman


--Salisbury, Connecticut, Abstract of Early Land RecordsThis article, abstracting some of the more historically significant early land records, is found in that organization’s Historical Collections of the Salisbury Association, Volume II.  It is important to note the limitations of this collection as admitted by the compiler.  The abstract doesn’t claim to be complete (original grants are not included, and only the more historically interesting deeds are abstracted, for example).  Also, as the compiler notes, any selection process of this sort implicitly is colored by the interests of the compiler.  The original records still do exist (they survived the Town Hall fire) and are available for examination at the Town Clerk’s office.  Its limitations notwithstanding, this is an interesting compilation and has significant historical value.   Download now in PDF format, 28+ pages, $4.00.

 Salisbury Land Records     (Download)


First publication - Salisbury CT--The Township of Salisbury, Connecticut - The Early Years, by Judith M. Sherman (1988). Most of this material is based on the 1719 – 1742 period – the period when Salisbury was first laid out and settled.  In its 83 pages, including extensive tables, references, and footnotes, the paper summarizes the township’s early history in a way that had not been done previously.  The author’s background, prior to her graduate education in history, had been in analytical work on Wall Street.  She in this paper coupled her analytical tools with the documentary record of the Town of Salisbury and produced an early history of that township that is free of the puffery and exaggeration of previous histories of that town.  A statement like “Land speculation was rampant in early Salisbury” was the sort of generalization that  Sherman had been trained to detect, question – and frequently demolish.  Along those lines, this paper presented the first critical view of a real sacred cow of Salisbury history, the first clergyman in town, the Rev. Jonathan Lee.  Typescript, PDF format, download now for $5.00.

 Salisbury CT Early Years by Judith Sherman      (Download)


--The Litchfield Hills -- an 1898 Connecticut Quarterly article about geography of Litchfield County.  (FREE)


--For Lime Rock -- once the headquarters of an industrial empire -- a small book based on a slide show we prepared for a Heritage Walk we conducted there in October 2004.  It's now available as a downloadable PDF file.  See our Lime Rock page for more information.  


--Lime Rock Cemetery Plot Map -- We were able to obtain at auction an original plot map of the Lime Rock Cemetery.  As far as we know, the download we offer of our photo and scans of this map  represent the only plot maps of this cemetery that are publicly available, although, of course, the Cemetery Association has working maps that permit them to manage sales of plots and niches in the columbarium. See our page about Lime Rock Cemetery for more information.


--Salisbury Cemetery Records (1913), from the Historical Collections of the Salisbury Association, Volume I.  This 45+ page compilation of several cemeteries in the Town of Salisbury (Chapinville, Dutchers Bridge, Mt. Riga, Town Hill, and five small, isolated cemeteries, does not include the old cemetery at Salisbury Center (see our separate download of that material), nor the cemeteries at Lime Rock, and the "new" Salisbury cemetery.  Nonetheless, these 688 inscriptions are an important part of the record of Salisbury.  PDF format, download for $3.00.  

Salisbury Cemetery Records     (Download)


--Salisbury: Old Section of the New Cemetery (1916), from the Historical Collections of the Salisbury Association, Volume II.  This 46+ page compilation of the oldest section of the so-called "New Cemetery" (the one located on Route 41 just north of Salisbury village provides records that will be of use to many who came to Salisbury a bit too late for the smaller and older cemeteries around the township (published separately). A section at the end identifies Civil War veterans buried in this ground as well as some buried elsewhere. PDF format, download for $4.25.

Salsibury: Old Section of the New Cemetery     (Download)


--"Salisbury in War Time", a Memorial Day 1910 address by Thomas Lot Norton, with a comprehensive list of Salisbury men who served in the Union military forces and their units.  34+ pages.  Download, in PDF format, $3.50. 

Salisbury in Wartime by Thomas Lot Norton     (Download)


--Salisbury CT vital records circa 1730 - 1767 from the historical collections of the Salisbury Association, originally published in 1913.  51+ pages.  Download now in PDF format, $3.25. 

Salisbury CT Vital Records     (Download)


--Salisbury CT vital records circa 1768 - 1800 from the historical collections of the Salisbury Association, originally published in 1916.  90+ pages.  Download now in PDF format, $3.25.

Salisbury CT births marriages deaths    (Download)


--Members and officers of the Salisbury Association (1913).  This list of 19+ pages from Volume I of the historical collections of the Salisbury Association serves today as a "who was who" of Salisbury at the time.  Download in PDF format.  $2.50. 

Salisbury Association membership (1913)     (Download)


--History of the Town Hall, by Malcolm D. Rudd (1916).  This history is extracted from Historical Collections of The Salisbury Association, Volume II (1916).  The Salisbury Association served for many years as both a civic betterment group and an historical society for this northwest Connecticut township.  Nearly 100 years ago it set out to publish four volumes of its “Collections” and they are, today, a very useful source for anyone with an interest in the town and its history.  Salisbury’s town hall had an interesting history at the time this history was written, and it continued to be interesting in the years following its publication. 

 Salisbury CT Town Hall history   (Download)


--The 1820 census of children attending school in the Town of Salisbury, by school district.  This article constituted Volume III of the historical collections of the Salisbury Association.  22+ pages.  Download now in PDF format, $3.50. 

1820 school census Salisbury CT      (Download)


--Lime Rock  -- an 1905 article from the Connecticut Magazine by the Rector of the local church about the history of this community.  (FREE)


--The Salisbury Academy, documents and student lists, comprising Volume IV of the Historical Collections of the Salisbury Association.  65+ pages, PDF format, download for $5.00. 

The Salisbury Academy    (Download)


--A lengthy illustrated article from 1989 from Volume IV of the Connecticut Quarterly about the history of the Town of Salisbury, including an index.  26++ pages.  Download now in PDF format, $2.00. 

Town of Salisbury      (Download)


--Grave-stone Inscriptions at Salisbury, Connecticut (1898).  This 16-page collection of Salisbury gravestone inscriptions, principally at Salisbury center, originally collected by Malcolm Day Rudd, was published as a pamphlet.  This download, which is in PDF format, $3.75. 

Salisbury Gravestones       (Download)


--A Brief Military History of Salisbury, an address by Malcolm D. Rudd (1911) from the historical collections of the Salisbury Association.  30+ pages.  Download now in PDF format, $2.75. 

Military History of Salisbury CT     (Download)


--About the iron industry -- We're happy to offer two articles by one of the earlier researchers of this subject in one download entitled Early Iron Industry of Connecticut.  Yes, there's plenty of Salisbury material  in it!  See our Iron page for more information.


--The White Oak for 1954, yearbook of Housatonic Valley Regional High School, Falls Village.  Includes the town of Salisbury. See our Litchfield County page for more information.

--Changed place names in all of Litchfield County.   (FREE)

--The historic  iron industry of the Upper Housatonic Valley.  (FREE)

--For all of Litchfield County -- our republication of Arthur Goodenough's classic The Clergy of Litchfield County (1909).  See our page about Clergy of Litchfield County.   (CD-ROM)

--Delegates' Reports: CT Board of Agriculture (1869) -- The report from the Litchfield County delegate begins on page 21 of this document.  See our Connecticut miscellany page for more information.  Some Salisbury exhibitors did especially well in an agricultural exposition held in Falls Village and reported in this article.

 What's coming next about Salisbury?  

--More sections of the four volumes of the Historical Collections of the Salisbury Association, Inc. (1913 through 1941) -- no question about that!  Lots of great information there for historians and genealogists.

--We live and have our business at Twin Lakes, and we're continuing to look for something to product about our home neighborhood.  Since the Twin Lakes have been "discovered" (according to the Lakeville Journal), we are carefully documenting what remains of old Twin lakes and what new Twin Lakes is shaping up like.  We've started photography but we have much, much more to do.  This is a very long term project to be sure, and development out here always seems to be getting ahead of our efforts at documenting what was here, sadly.

--We've done two history walks of Lime Rock now under the auspices of the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, and hosted by Trinity Church, Lime Rock.  We're also working on a comprehensive history of Trinity Lime Rock, which will be published in a 2019 - 2020 timeframe.  

--In the course of our work on Salisbury, an incident in 1883 known as the Lakeville Crucifix caught our attention.  A book is well underway documenting this event and sorting out the powerful historical trends that brought the media focus on Lakeville for a few months.  We will be publishing that one in 2018.

CLICK HERE to go to our page about Litchfield County, CT

CLICK HERE to go to our main Connecticut page

We also republish local history about other areas.  Please check our listing of future (and present) projects by state, or our catalog.

And, don't forget to try our "Search our website" capability.  You'll find a button to take you there n the upper left margin of every page.

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Between the Lakes Group is located at 372 Between the Lakes Road, in Salisbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut.  More specifically, we're in Taconic -- a hamlet  in the Twin Lakes area of the Town of Salisbury.  Questions about us or about our products?  Go to our Frequently Asked Questions page.  

Postal address:
Post Office Box 13
          Taconic, CT  06079-0013
Electronic mail:
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