Greens Farms ~Saugatuck ~Westport~Southport Names
Historical text courtesy
of Saugatuck Technology Inc.
Find below a short backgrounder on the history of the town, with excerpts and quotes from a recent book published by Woody Klein (Westport Connecticut, The Story of a New England Town's Rise to Prominence - 2000, Greenwood Press).
Saugatuck (aka Westport, Connecticut) has a fascinating Native American and Colonial history. While a rich archaeological record exists going back thousands of years, the term "Saugatuck" (or "river that pours out" - see note below) was first used to designate one of several Paugusset Indian settlements along a 30 mile stretch of coastline that stretched from Norwalk to New Haven, and as far inland as present day Waterbury and Danbury. "They were one of several dominant tribes along the Long Island Sound in the area west of the Connecticut River - the Menunketucks, the Quinnipiacs, the Siwanogs, and the Pequots, the largest and most powerful".
In the mid 1600's, offshoot members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony began settling Connecticut in search of land and greater self-determination. Soon after the Commonwealth of Connecticut was created (1635), Roger Ludlowe founded present day Fairfield, including what is today Green's Farms, Redding, Weston, Easton and the western section of Bridgeport. With treaties made with the local Pequonnock, Norwalke and Sasqua Indians between 1639 and 1661, the area between the Norwalk and Saugatuck Rivers were added.
By 1711, residents of Green's Farms split off from their eastern neighbors in Fairfield, founding the Green's Farms Congregational Church. By the Revolutionary War, Green's Farms and settlements along the Saugatuck River were emerging commercial and farming communities. Numerous battles and visits from George Washington and other hero's are recorded in the history of the town. Following the war and into the early 1800's "the farmers of the Village of Saugatuck (as it was then called) . . . combined its farm-based economy with a bustling, new shipping industry . . .With all its waterways, Saugatuck naturally became a seafaring town. All along the river there were warehouses and shipyards . . . sailing to New York, Boston and Providence with grain, vegetables - especially onions - and butter, to Texas for cotton and to the West Indies for sugar, molasses and hardwood lumber."
At the beginning of 1835, many residents of Saugatuck and the surrounding area whose lives were centered on the thriving riverfront port . . . .began to talk seriously about creating a new town that would be made up of territory from the three surrounding towns of Fairfield, Weston and Norwalk." And so the town of Westport was born . . . .
Today, Westport is both an affluent bedroom community of
New York City and a focal point for businesses that use the town as a
base. It has "a great school system, a wide range of recreational
facilities . . . and a general ambience of friendliness and a strong tradition
of inclusiveness. . . . Known widely as a place where celebrities reside,
the town is comprised of an unlikely mix of old Yankee families, descendants
of Italian, Irish, and other immigrants who helped build Westport, famous
artists and writers, and high-profile New Yorkers and F500 corporate executives.
. . . (a place) where its residents maintain a small-town attitude in
the midst of big-town personalities."
Note: "The root So' hk or Sauk that denotes 'pouring
out' is the basis of many local names for the 'outlet' or 'discharge'
of a river or lake. In composition with tuk 'river' or 'tidal stream,'
sauki (adjectival) gave name to Soukatuck, now Saugatuck . . . . The original
name of this village was so appropriate to its locality, being situated
at the outlet of the river of the same name, that we deem it extremely
unfortunate that the name was . . . changed to the unhistoric and meaningless
name of Westport . . . . The name is still retained as the name of the
river. . . . One legend says that the word meant 'River of little fishes.'
Westport smelt later became a trade name for them. . . " From Connecticut
Place Names, by Arthur H. Hughes and Morse E. Allen, The Connecticut Historical
Thumbnail Sketches of Saugatuck's Historic Past
This home on Pequot Avenue, Southport, Connecticut is a recently restored example of the Northrop Brothers fine carpentry and building in the Southport-Greeens Farms area.
Image Courtesy of David Parker Associates