The Mattabesec Indians

Mattabesset or Mattabeseck were Native American that loved along the Mattabeseck River. The Mattabesset were a branch of the Algonquian Indian tribe but it is not known if the Mattabesecks were a distinct tribe or simply the members of a larger tribe resident at Mattabeseck. However, in 1920 Encyclopedia Americana lists them as part of the Wappinger Confederation. The last remnants of the tribe left in the late 18th century for upstate New York, and were among the many New England Indian groups that merged with the Indians at Schaghticoke. The Mattabesset spoke a language of the Algonquin family, however the language is now extinct.

In early Dutch maps of the American Colonies from the early 17th Century, the term Mattabeseck was the area of land just to the north of New Haven, Connecticut between the Housatonic and Connecticut Rivers. This land was eventually absorbed by the English Colony of Connecticut.

The Dutch used the word to name Middletown, becuase in its orignal meaning the word meant 'land between waters', in both places, New Haven and Middletown, it refered to a place where boats could dock and trade.

One Woman Buys Ten Private Islands /Conn. Widow Buys Islands Off L.I. Sound

The Associated PressMonday, December 11, 2006; 2:30 PM
One Woman Buys Ten Private Islands /Conn. Widow Buys Islands Off L.I. Sound

BRANFORD, Conn. -- Some people collect stamps. Christine Svenningsen collects small islands. The widow, whose private ways and extravagant tastes in real estate have tongues wagging along Connecticut's coast, has spent about $33 million in recent years to buy 10 of the Thimble Islands in Long Island Sound.
The secluded islands, known by the Mattabesec Indians as "the beautiful sea rocks," have attracted legends and luminaries for generations. Circus star Tom Thumb found love on the islands, and treasure hunters have combed them for Captain Kidd's buried riches.
Svenningsen's buying spree has created something of a mystery.
"It's like a movie," said Valerie Wiel, who owns a market on the mainland town of Branford, of which the islands are a part. "Is she going to buy the whole town? The town has been pretty much the same for a long time. To me this points to more change than people would be comfortable with."
Svenningsen, the middle-aged widow of a party goods magnate, bought her latest island last week for $2.7 million and has her eye on another one. She also typically buys the few houses on the islands.
"There's no master plan," Svenningsen said in what she called her first and only interview. "They're like little pieces of art. I get to put my brush to them."
An artist, she is renovating many of the historic homes and paints the furniture with bright fish and other nautical themes. She fills her islands with colorful gardens, including one with lillies.
"You can smell it before you get to the dock with your boat," she said.
Of the hundreds of Thimble Islands, about 25 are considered habitable. They are all within three miles of the coastline and are reachable only by boat. Tour boats have taken sightseers among the islands for generations. The islands were named long ago for thimbleberries, or black raspberries, which once grew wild there.
Houses on the islands have long been used for social gatherings for the rich and famous as well as for summer vacations for families of modest means. President William H. Taft and actor James Earl Jones were among the visitors, while "Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau and his wife, newscaster Jane Pauley, own an island home.
Svenningsen's late husband, John, bought a home on the islands in the late 1970s. After he died in 1997, she began to buy up more of the islands.
She bought the house where Tom Thumb courted "Miss Emily." Local legend has it that his boss, P.T. Barnum, ordered Thumb instead to marry "Miss Lavinia," another of his performers. He obeyed, marrying her in 1863.
Tom and Emily's names remain etched in a rock near the house. Svenningsen said she plans to rebuild a bridge that connected the house to another island before it was washed away by a 1938 hurricane.
"She tends to take very good care of the islands," said John Herzan of the New Haven Preservation trust. "It's not pure preservation, but it's high-quality renovation."
Svenningsen shocked the town in 2003 when she paid $23.5 million for the 7.75-acre Rogers Island, with a Tudor-style mansion, tennis court, docks, swimming pool and bath house. It remains the highest price one of the Thimbles has fetched.
She said developers might otherwise buy up the islands and build condominiums.
"It's not the Hamptons and I don't think any one wants it to become the Hamptons," Svenningsen said, referring to the celebrity enclave on New York's Long Island. "I think we all like it the way it is, a little slower pace of life."
Her purchases have come as soaring real estate prices, especially along the waterfront, have caused a dramatic jump in property taxes. That has forced some property owners who lived on the islands and the mainland for generations to sell.
Some worry that the islands are increasingly becoming a playground for the rich. The days when families stayed in small homes with kerosene lamps, no televisions and only rainwater for showers are giving way to trophy homes with lush lawns.
"The Thimble Islands were quaint. I don't think they're quaint any more," said Anthony DaRos, a former Branford selectman who has worked on the homes as a contractor for decades. "They were such a great playground for everybody."

Thimble Islands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thimble Islands are an archipelago of small islands in Long Island Sound, in and near the harbor of Stony Creek, Connecticut in the southeast corner of Branford, Connecticut, 41°15′52″N, 72°45′11″W. Known to the Mattabesec Indians as "the beautiful sea rocks", they consist of a jumble of granite rocks, ledges, and outcroppings resulting from glaciation, numbering between 100 and 365 depending on where the line is drawn between an island and a mere rock. The islands serve as a rest stop for migrating seals. Some of the shoreline residences in nearby Pine Orchard, Connecticut have a spectacular view of the Thimbles. Although they are said to be named for the thimbleberry, a relative of the black raspberry, that plant is seldom seen in the area, being more frequent in northern New England. Other species of blackberry and raspberry, however, are sometimes referred to by residents of the area as thimbleberries.
The first European to discover the islands was Adrian Block, in 1614. Legend says that Captain Kidd buried his treasure here, causing intermittent interest among treasure hunters who believe they have unearthed a clue to its location, although more interest is generally paid to Gardiner's Island, 30 miles away.
The islands themselves - long prized by sailors on the Sound as a sheltered deep-water anchorage -- comprise 23 that are inhabited (most of them wooded), numerous barren rocks and hundreds of reefs visible only at low tide.
Horse Island, the largest island at 17 acres (69,000 m²), is owned by Yale University and is maintained as an ecological laboratory by Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History. Southern Connecticut State University keeps Outer Island for similar purposes, and Frisbie Island is maintained as a sanctuary for wild birds. Bear Island is home to a granite quarry which exported high quality stone to such constructions as the Lincoln Memorial, Grant's Tomb, and the base of the Statue of Liberty. A much larger quarry just north on the mainland is still working, and supplied the distinctive pink/orange Stony Creek granite for the Brooklyn Bridge and the newest House Office Building in Washington.
The inhabited islands bear a total of 81 houses: 14 islands have only one, one (Governor) has 14, one (Money) has 32, and the rest have between two and six. The houses are built in a variety of styles, ranging from a 27 room Tudor mansion, with tennis and basketball courts and a caretaker's residence on 7.75 acres on Rogers Island, to small summer cottages built on stilts or small clusters of buildings connected by wooden footbridges. Some of the houses cover a small island completely, while Money Island, 12 acres (49,000 m²) in size, bears an entire village of 32 houses, a church and post office buildings, concealed among tall trees. Some of the houses were once occupied year-long, but currently they are only used in the summer. The exposed nature of the houses makes them dangerous during storms; local residents still talk about the hurricane of 1938, which killed seven people. The exclusivity of the houses has made them quite expensive, therefore residents are divided between local families which have owned their home for generations, and more recent residents who tend to be wealthy. The least expensive houses, on Money Island, are appraised at about $600,000. Several are well-known; current and past residents of the Islands range from General Tom Thumb on Cut in Two Island East to Garry Trudeau and Jane Pauley. President William Taft established his "Summer White House" on Davis Island for two years. Residents of the area tend to observe the privacy of island dwellers, obeying the 5-mile-an-hour speed limit for motor craft and never landing without an invitation.
Only six islands get electrical power through underwater cables from the shore; the rest utilize some combination of generators, solar power, batteries, or kerosene and propane. About half the islands get fresh water through underwater pipes from shore; the rest utilize wells or rain water, or have containers of water delivered. No sewers serve the islands, requiring the use of septic tanks for all waste water treatment.
Sailing through the islands can be tricky for those unfamiliar with the area, due to the disorientation caused by the myriad of similar islands (particularly at night), the hidden underwater rocks and ledges, and the complex currents caused by the tides acting on the channels between the rocks.
In the warm season, a small ferry transports people and things between the islands and the Stony Creek harbor on the hour from 8am to 8pm. Prior to the advent of telephones, islanders would hang a red flag on the dock to request a ferry visit. An on-call water taxi has recently been added, and three tour boats take passengers on scenic cruises; kayak tours are also available. Many residents have their own boats, and some occasionally arrive by seaplane.
Some of the Thimble Islands' large enough to have names include Hen Island, Money Island, East Stooping Bush Island, Potato Island, Smith Island, Cut in Two Island (East and West), Governor Island, tiny Phelps Island, High Island, Rogers Island, Wheeler Island aka Ghost Island, Mother in Law Island aka Prudden Island, Pot Island, Horse Island, West Crib Island, East Crib Island, Little Pumpkin Island, Davis Island, Lewis Island, Kidd's Island, Outer Island, Reel Island, Belden Island, Burr Island, Frisbie Island, Jepson Island, Wayland Island, and Bear Island.
In 1976, party goods magnate John Svenningsen of Amscan purchased West Crib Island. After his death in 1997 his widow Christine Svenningsen purchased Wheeler Island in 1998, followed by the purchase of Rogers, Phelps, Jepson, and Cut in Two East in 2003, Reel in 2004 and Cut in Two West in 2005 at a total cost of about $30 million, thus making her owner of more than 20% of the habitable islands and the largest taxpayer in Stony Creek. Locals speculate on any motivation other than simple love of the islands, but approve of her meticulous upkeep and restorations of the properties.
As outcroppings of the granite bedrock which were once the tops of hills but have become islands since due to the rise in sea level after the most recent ice age, the Thimble Islands are much more stable than most of the islands in Long Island Sound, which are terminal moraines of rubble left by retreating glaciers.
Note: The correct term for these type of islands is a "drumlin" Cheyenne Morrison.
One woman's passion: the $33m Tom Thumb islands

Reclusive artist buys up historic US sites to 'put my brush on them'

Ed Pilkington in New York

Wednesday December 13, 2006The Guardian

To the Mattabesec Indians who used to populate the coast of western Connecticut before the Europeans arrived, they were known as "the beautiful sea rocks". The archipelago of small islands in Stony Creek in Long Island Sound are homes to migrating seals and sea birds; some of the islands are no bigger than ledges lapped by the waves.
ver the past few years today's residents of the Thimble Islands, as they are now called, have noticed a mysterious pattern. One after another, the larger and more habitable of the islands are being bought up by the same person - Christine Svenningsen to be exact, a painter who keeps a very low profile and only occasionally displays her work in local galleries. Last week she bought what is thought to have been at least her 10th island in the creek, paying $2.7m for it and raising her overall spending on the islands to about $33m.The first of the islands owned by the Svenningsens, West Crib, was bought by her husband, John, in the 1970s. He made a fortune selling party goods such as balloons, streamers and hats, building his business into one of the largest such trades in the world.
 after he died in 1997 that his widow began buying up more of the islands. Mrs Svenningsen, who is listed in the local council directory as the second most wealthy concern in Branford after the Connecticut Light and Power Company, is thought today to own almost half of the 23 habitable islands in the chain. The grandest of her possessions is the 7.8-acre Rogers Island which she bought in 2003 for $23.5m, that sports a 27-room mock-Tudor mansion with tennis and basketball courts.
Thumb, billed at circuses before his death in 1883 as the world's smallest man at 3ft 4in, is one of several historic characters to have peopled the Thimble Islands. Captain Kidd, the pirate, dropped anchor here and possibly buried his treasure too, say locals.
President William Taft established a "summer White House" on one of the islands in the 1900s, while granite from Bear Island was used to build the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Mrs Svenningsen is extremely media-shy and gave what she described as her only interview to the Associated Press. She told the agency she is motivated to buy the islands partly to preserve the way of life they represent. She said she wanted to protect them from condominium developers, referring disparagingly by comparison to the Long Island - a playground for the wealthy.
"It's not the Hamptons and I don't think any one wants it to become the Hamptons. I think we all like it the way it is, a little slower pace of life."
She said her island possessions were like "little pieces of art. I get to put my brush to them."
She was speaking partly literally. She has renovated several houses on the islands, painting the furniture with bright fishes and seascapes. She also creates fragrant gardens, including a lily garden. "You can smell it before you get to the dock with your boat," she told Associated Press.

Another 'Thimble Island' sells at a bargain
Mark Zaretsky,New Haven Register
Connecticut, USA 12/04/2006

-BRANFORD — Christine Svenningsen, a true fan of the rocky and secluded Thimble Islands, has continued showing her appreciation for the beauty and serenity of the Thimbles with a flourish of a pen in her rather well-appointed checkbook.
Svenningsen just bought another island.
She added Beldens Island, which was listed for $3.9 million last year, for the bargain basement price of just $2.77 million — and she got some offshore oyster grounds in the deal, to boot.
The purchase of Beldens Island, a 1.04-acre expanse that, according to assessor’s records has one house, a wooden shed, a wooden deck and some docks on it, recently was recorded in the town clerk’s office.
It brings the number of Thimble islands now owned by Svenningsen, or limited liability companies she is a principal of, as is the case with Beldens Island, to at least 10 — and the amount she has spent to buy them over the years to at least $33 million.
Svenningsen, the widow of John Svenningsen, a Westchester County, N.Y., party goods magnate who died in 1997 at age 66, sent local jaws a-flapping back in 2003 when she bought the 7.75-acre Rogers Island for the then-unheard-of sum of $23.5 million. It remains the highest price one of the Thimbles has fetched.
Svenningsen also may be angling for an 11th Thimble.
She’s listed as a principal of East Crib LLC, which registered with the secretary of the state’s office earlier this year, although no sale has been recorded for East Crib Island, a 0.52-acre rock in the Thimbles archipelago off Stony Creek.
Svenningsen or her husband has owned neighboring West Crib Island, which has two houses on 1.38 acres, since 1976.
East Crib Island is owned by the Joel Schiavone Irrevocable Family Trust. The trust represents four of the well-known New Haven developer’s children, who inherited the island, which has one house on it, after their grandmother, Esther Schiavone, died in 2002.
Allyx Schiavone of New Haven, one of the siblings, declined to comment Friday on whether a sale was in the works.
The woman who sold Beldens Island to Svenningsen, Geraldine Chandler of Killingworth, who, according to assessor’s records, bought it with her then-husband, John, for $250,000 in 1985, also declined to comment.
Svenningsen has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached for comment.
Waterbury attorney Thomas E. Porzio, listed as the agent for Beldens Island LLC, which is the island’s new owner on paper, could not be reached for comment.
Beldens Island’s assessed value, according to the 2004 assessment, was $715,900, including $603,300 for the land, $104,200 for the house itself and $8,400 for outbuildings and extra building features, according to town records.
Besides Beldens Island, Rogers Island and West Crib Island, Svenningsen or limited-liability companies she’s associated with bought Wheeler’s Island in 1998, Rogers Island (also known as Yon Comis) in 2003, Phelps Island in 2003, Jepson (or Rock) Island in 2003, Cut-In-Two East Island in 2003, Reel Island in 2004 and Cut-In-Two West Island in 2005.
Over the years, she also purchased a house in Stony Creek with 56 feet of water frontage on Linden Point Road, the small Spencer’s Rock adjacent to Rogers Island and a six-car garage on the mainland at 218 Thimble Islands Road.
The most Svenningsen has paid for any Thimble other than Rogers Island was $3.4 million for 0.8-acre Cut-In-Two East, one of the most famous of the Thimble Islands because legendary P.T. Barnum-era circus star Tom Thumb spent a summer there courting "Miss Emily," the daughter of the island’s owners at the time. According to local legend, Barnum is said to have ordered Thumb instead to marry "Miss Livinia," another of his performers, but Tom and Emily’s names remain etched in a rock near the house.
At the time of the sale, Cut-In-Two East’s 1,300-square-foot house, built in 1900, featured a living room with walls covered in Barnum-era circus and theater posters that commemorated Tom Thumb’s visits.
There are between 100 and 365 Thimble Islands — depending on how you define an island — some not much bigger than a boulder. Of the 25 habitable islands, some of the homes are seasonal and some have been winterized.
Tour boats have taken sightseers among the islands for generations. According to local legend, pirate Captain Kidd left treasure buried on the aptly named Money Island, the most populated of the Thimbles.


Women in a mill in Ansonia

Connecticut Leads All States, Most Nations In Development Index

In an index measuring life expectancy, educational attainment and productivity, Connecticut not only ranks higher than all other states but is ahead of all countries except Norway and Germany, according to data compiled by The Economist magazine.

The British journal merged a state-by-state index, which was reported earlier this month, and a United Nations Human Development Index, to reach its conclusion.
States ranking below Connecticut were New York, Wyoming, California and Illinois, in descending order. Nations below Germany — and below Connecticut — were Sweden, Australia, Switzerland and the United States.

— Mara Lee

The waterwheel, Hamilton Park, Waterbury


New London

Old Hartford

Seymour (?)


Old Simsbury


Old Lyme

Connecticut to California

Old New Haven

Old Ansonia

John P. D'Agostino Sr , artist

John P. D'Agostino Sr (June 13, 1929 – November 28, 2010)[4] was a comic-book artist best known for his Archie Comics work. He was also the letterer for the lead story in the Marvel Comics landmark The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (March 1963), as well as other seminal Marvel comics. (Under the name Johnny Dee) D'Agostino was born in Cervinara, Italy and emigrated to the United States with his family during childhood. He mentored new-hire Stan Goldberg, a 16-year-old colorist who would later become one of Archie Comics' most prominent cartoonists. Goldberg recalled, "I found out there was an opening in the coloring department at Timely Comics, so I went up there. They needed another body to be in the room that handled the coloring, and that's where I worked. ...[T]he man who was in charge of the coloring department is still a dear friend of mine, Jon D'Agostino."  Following the 1992 death of his first wife, he married Elvira "Vivi" Testa D'Agostino in 1995, D'Agostino's The Bronx to Ansonia, where his two sons live. He died there of bone cancer.

John D'Agostino, poker player

John D'Agostino (November 3, 1982) is an American professional poker player who hails from Seymour. As of 2010, his total live tournament winnings exceed $1,600,000.

Jeff Tuohy - Knock On Wood

Eugene O'Neill of new London

Oh, Curt is the last one to be bothered by anyone's morals. Curt and I are the unconventional ones of the family. The trouble with Bigelow, Martha, is that he was too careless to conceal his sins--and that won't go down in this Philistine small town. You have to hide and be a fellow hypocrite or they revenge themselves on you. Bigelow didn't. He flaunted his love-affairs in everyone's face. I used to admire him for it. No one exactly blamed him, in their secret hearts. His wife was a terrible, straitlaced creature. No man could have endured her. [Disgustedly.] After her death he suddenly acquired a bad conscience. He'd never noticed the children before. I'll bet he didn't even know their names. And then, presto, he's about in our midst giving an imitation of a wet hen with a brood of ducks. It's a bore, if you ask me. [Shaking her head.] His reform is too sudden. He's joined the hypocrites, I think.
Reprinted from The Hairy Ape, Anna Christie, The First Man. Eugene O'Neill. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1922.

Bloomfield Conn. 1930

Bloomfield, Connecticut High School Class of 1930

1930 yearbook of the Gunnery School

Gunnery School Washington, Connecticut 1930 Basketball Team

Bumper cars, Savan Rock?


The Old Leatherman

The Old Leather Man devoted every day to a pedestrian circuit of a 365-mile, 34-day-long, clockwise trip through southwestern Connecticut and adjacent sections of lower New York State. Dressed from head to toe in a roughly stitched leather suit, the Old Leather Man subsisted on the generosity of the townspeople and farmers who came to know him. He first made his Connecticut appearance before the Civil War, and continued to travel his route through the state until his death in 1889.

Old Saybrooke


The Old State House

The Old State House (completed 1796) in Hartford, Connecticut is generally believed to have been designed by noted American architect Charles Bulfinch as his first public building. The State House is currently managed by the Office of Legislative Management of the Connecticut General Assembly. The exterior building and the Senate have been restored to its original Federal style; the Representative's chamber is Victorian, and the halls and courtroom are Colonial Revival.

The Hartford State House is, in appearance, very similar to the Town Hall of Liverpool, England, built in the mid-18th century and perhaps depicted in one of Bulfinch's architecture books. However, all materials came from the United States. Its first story is 20 feet high and constructed from Portland, Connecticut brownstone. The second and third stories are brick patterned in Flemish bond. The cornice is wooden.

The State House has been modified somewhat since it was first built. As originally constructed, the building had neither balustrade or cupola, but the balustrade was added in the early 19th century for the protection of firemen, and the cupola was constructed in 1827 with its bell and John Stanwood's statue of Justice. An original (1796) stone spiral staircase behind the northern arch, designed by Asher Benjamin, led to the second and third floors; it no longer exists. In 1814, the Hartford Convention was held there. In 1839, the start of the Amistad trial was held there.

The building had been in danger of closing in 2008 due to financial constraints. State and Hartford officials have recently signed a 99-year lease placing Connecticut's Old State House under new management. The lease puts the city-owned historic building under the control of the state Office of Legislative Management.
It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

Swordplay, 10th Connecticut Infantry


Hendrix at Bushnell 1968

The Oakdale


The Buckley's of Sharon

William F. Buckley Licked By Dog The Buckley Children Extended Family Portrait Piano Time WIth The Buckleys

election in Waterbury October 1950

Inauguration, 1951

Connecticut State Republican convention 1940

Football fans 1962, near Startford


Factory dome outside of Hartford

New Haven Communters wait, the flood of 1955 knocked out train and bus service

Waterbury after the 1955 flood