The chief river of western Connecticut is the Housatonic. It was called Howsatunnuck, but the local Indians (who also gave us Naugatuck, Niantic Scitico the Shetucket and the Connecticut Rivers as well) although over the years it has also been known as the Stratford, Potatuck, or Great River.
The river enters the State from the north, about seven miles east of its western boundary, and flows in a direction somewhat west of south for about thirty miles, when, having almost touched the New York State line, just before entering New Milford territory, it bends toward the east, and for a distance of thirty-five miles flows in a southeasterly direction, when it turns again and flows nearly due south for nine or ten miles, and empties into Long Island Sound between Stratford and Milford.
The Naromiyocknowhusunkatankshunk brook, which rises in Sherman runs north, and enters the Housatonic a little distance below Gaylordsville. This is isn’t important but I really wanted to include that name someplace.
And let’s not just skip over the name Gaylordsville. It’s a real place in the northwest corner of New Milford. The population as of today is about 1,133. The name comes from the Gaylord family, (Gaillard, in the original French version)
In 1630 William Gaylord arrived from England on the ship "Mary and John" and settled in East Windsort. His great-grandson, Ensign William Gaylord, moved to Woodbury in 1706 and married Joanna, the daughter of Captain John Minor. Joanna's sister, Grace, married Samuel Grant, and was an ancestor of President Grant.
In 1712, the Gaylord couple came to New Milford, which had been settled only five years before (Their house stood on the corner of Main and Elm Streets.) He began taking title to parcels of it, and soon owned a large part of the valley.
Anyway, the Naromiyocknowhusunkatankshunk is now more of a stream than brook. Its name can probably be translated into “fishing place in the gravelly stream near the big hill” or something close to that.
The problem is that the name, like so many other names of places in Connecticut, are loosely based on Anglo interpretations of various Algonquian dialects spoken across the state at one time. Since there was no written language, the settlers did what they could with the sounds of the words they heard.
Along Route 7 where the road crosses over the brook, there had been a sign that read Naromiyocknowhusunkatankshunk Brook but in the 1940s the state replaced that with another sign that declared the brook to be Morrissey Brook, after James Morrissey, a local tobacco grower in the late 19th century but no one like the change and in in 2001 an act of the state legislature included a provision reinstating the name Naromiyocknowhusunkatankshunk Brook.