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What does Coram mean?
Pre-History
AUGUST 1680
JANUARY 27, 1723
Rock Shelters
First United Methodist Church on Rocky Rest Rd.
Nineteenth Century
The Twentieth Century
1920's
1940's
1960's
In 1975
In 1986
Kevin Buchanan's 2 cents
Headwaters of the Ivy Brook

 

 

 

What DOES Coram mean?

"the equivalent of the Massachusetts Monouhkoiyeum "a valley," "low country," shortened into Moncorum and afterwards into Coram. It probably referred to a passage between the hills or some valley near them."
– by William Wallace Tooker, 1911

"is derived from the Indian word Wincoram, meaning ``a passage between hills or a valley.''
From an article about Coram, Long Island

Pre-History

The Shelton area was first occupied by the Pootatuck hunting tribe, located along the Housatonic River. They were a splinter of the Mohican tribes and were soon related to the Paugusetts. In 1659, Moses Wheeler was the first European to purchase land from the Pootatucks in the White Hills section of the city, and in 1662 Stratford’s Joseph Judson bought land near the Far Mill River. 

The Indians in the area took the names of the tribe from the location where they lived. The pootatuck means "fall's place", The Housatonic river was called the Pootatuck River then, because of the many falls. Today it is the stream at Sandy Hook that empties into the Housatonic in Newtown.

The Indians at the mouth of the Housatonic were called Cupheags, the name meaning "a harbor" or "a place of shelter". Soon after Stratford was settled, Okenuck and his people moved to Pootatuck, which is now Shelton. Okenuck's brother was sachem or cheif at Paugasset, now Derby, (Paugasset meant "water in narrow place" denoting Derby Neck), and their father was sachem at Milford. In 1663, Okenuck was declared the "sole sagamore" or cheif of the paugusetts, after the death of Towtanimow.

The first English settlers pushed out of Stratford in 1680, establishing farms in Coram, as they called the Long Hill section of Shelton.  The Native Americans were given a reservation at Coram which they occupied from 1659 until 1732, when they abandoned the area for more northern lands.  The village grew until, in 1717 fifty families sought parish status for their settlement, and the Connecticut General Assembly granted this petition, establishing Ripton Parish.  A church was built in 1720, and in 1724 Rev. Jedediah Mills of Windsor was ordained the first minister.

–From http://www.electronicvalley.org/tour/Sheltonhistory.htm

AUGUST 1680
CORAM HILL AND TURKEY HILL RESERVATIONS LAID OUT
This writing signigyeth that whereas Captn fowler and Mr. Jehu Burr have been at Corum Hill and layed out one hundred acres of land, be it more or less, bounded wiht marked trees and Stratford river and samuel Judson's land, for the use of those Indians, and not to kame sale of, that property belinging to Stratford to provide for, according to the law of this colony, we the sd townesmen of Stratford un the behalfe of the towne doe agree to the premises and that the foresd Indians shall have liberty to make improvement of it, they the sayd Indians sufficiently fencing of it. Sufficient highways are agreed on, to be allowed in the sayd land, when and where the occasion shall be

The Indian's did not want to fence in their land, and the white settler's pigs would often eat thier corn. The Indian's stole some sheep and had to give up some more land...They finally moved north abandoning the land.

JANUARY 27, 1723

"Know all men by these presents, that whereas certain Turkey Hill Indians upon Stratford River did about May last and before, steal sundry sheep from stratford side out of Quorum plain and being convicted of the same before auhtority - the Indians were these: Montique, Tom Will, Ponocurate, Chashamon, Monjono, Chipunch, Menoco, Pelcocuret, - their Sachem tomtonee or Munshanges, engaging to pay eleven pounds tne shillings in money which the said Indians promised to pay for the damage in stealing of sheep, and not having money to pay, the aforesaid Tomtonee, Sagamore, in the behalf of all the other Indians doth make over two parcels of land; the one being about two acres called by the name of lower Quorum upon the great river, that they had of Abraham Harger, the other ten acres of land near the Narrows, bounded with the land of Daniel Shelton, north, south and easterly by the Indians' land in ye bounds of Stratford for the aforesaid sum of eleven pound ten shillings, and forty shillings more in money ehich we do won to have received already, in all being thirteen pounds ten shillings; all the aforesaid land with all the priviledges, etc. hath made over unto daniel Shelton of stratfoed in the Colony of Connecticut, to quitclaim unto the said Daniel Shelton and his heirs forever, or so long as he the said Shelton or his heirs sha,, own that they are paid by the improvement of said land. The said Shelton of hiis own accord doth say that if the General Court or the town of Stratford saith he hath done amiss, he will relinquish the land. The aforesaid tomtonee paying the sim of thirteen pounds ten shillings to aoresaid Shelton. ....... and the said Tomtonee, Sagamore, does promise for himself and the rest of said Indians that if ever the land is taken out of the hand of Daniel Shelton or his heirs, that the said Tomtonee will pay back the aforesaid thirteen pounds ten shillings to the aforesaid Shelton or his heirs

–From: http://groups.msn.com/AncestorChroniclesOurKinAndTheirTimes/

Rock Shelters

Rock Shelters, like the ones at Ivy Brook and Nell's Rock, where large enough to accommodate hunting parties of four to six people, which were well used as temporary shelters throughout Indian existence in Shelton. Points and flaking tools have been found at Ivy Brook shelter suggesting Indian usage for 3,500 years. Rock Shelters were made up of huge boulders, covered on one side by huge logs, which were also covered by hides to keep bad weather out. John Dorso, Indian Historian.

First United Methodist Church on Rocky Rest Rd.:

I recently came across this wonderful article written by the late Ruth E. Wilkenson.  It was published in the 1968 church photo directory and I have re-created it here for all to see.....(rcr)
   The Church was organized on September 17, 1882.   Thirty people signed the Charter, total membership consisted of 6 probationers and 32 members.  John E. Wildey was appointed pastor in charge.
    The church was an outgrowth of the Scattergood mission - an undenominational organization holding its meetings on the property where the post office now stands.  The Baptist members withdrew first and formed the nucleus of the present Baptist church organization.  A deed of the mission property was then given by the remaining menbers of the Scattergood mission to the Methodist Episcopal Church.
    Willis Cooper was the second pastor in 1883 at a salary of $600.00.   In 1895 Rev. E.  D.  Bassett was appointed.  The church membership was growing and a need was urgent for a new building.  On June 16, 1886, after much discussion and consideration the Bennett lot on Coram Avenue was purchased for $900.00.   In 1888 plans were being drawn for the new church - ground was broken in July, 1888.  At this time the Christian Endeavor was formed, the Ladies Aid gave much of its energy and financial aid to raising the money for this new church.  The church was formally dedicated on June 29,1890 by Bishop Daniel Goodsell.  It was built by the Beardsley Company (my grandfather).

–From http://www.gbgm-umc.org/sheltonumc/newpage11.htm

Long Hill Burial Ground was established in 1720 making it the oldest remaining cemetery in Shelton.

–From: http://electronicvalley.org/shelton/historyquiz.html

Nineteenth Century

In the 1850's Coram Avenue was called the Main Road, there was no Howe Avenue then. After D.W. Plumb built his home in1868, it was called Plumb's Road from Wooster Street to Center Street. The road to Coram Hill was the present Myrtle Street, earlier known as Cam Road because a family by the name of Cam lived where Kneen and Myrtle Streets merge. The cams were descendants of slaves of the Shelton family on Long Hill. Corum Hill Road was the main road to Stratford before the River Road was built.

The Coram District School on Coram Road near Petremont Lane was a one room building with a wood stove and 4 sets of double windows on the sides. There was one set of double windows next to the front door located at the end of the building . It closed in 1911.

The Twentieth Century

One of the reasons why the T.B. rate was so high in this period was that the great surge of immigrants in the late nineteenth century had crowded Connecticut's industrial cities and living conditions were at a low ebb. The state responded to the health threat posed by T.B. by creating the State Tuberculosis Commission and public T.B. sanatoria. Three sanatoria were opened in 1900, another in 1913 and a fifth in 1919. Major permanent sanatoria were built at Uncas-on-Thames near Norwich, at Laurel Heights near Shelton, at Underdliff near Meriden and at Cedarcrest in the towns of Wethersfield and Newington. The Commission waged an increasingly effective fight in the location and treatment of T.B. patients.
From: http://www.ctheritage.org/encyclopedia/topicalsurveys/health.htm

In 1910 the State took over several farmhouses on Coram Hill and converted them. In 1932 modern buildings were built to care for 108 patients and faculties for 105 rehabilitation patients. With the decrease in TB, the Hospital included other pulmonary diseases and chronic diseases. The state closed the hospital and the 125 acres were sold to developer Chris Bargas in 1986.

1920's

SNET began stringing the telephone poles around Coram hill and we were on the Birmingham line. It was part of the Derby line and everyone got 734 exchanges. It wasn't till 1987 that new equipment was installed and we received a 924 exchange. Now it wasn't a toll call to Huntington and Bridgeport. They also replaced the telephone poles from the classic double T shape to the single poles we have now. I still have the wood from the original poles as the front raised flower bed of my house. The wire holes make good drainage holes. Maps from the 1920's display Coram Gardens in the area of Toas Street.

1940's
There was a fire house and civic center created on Cranstan Ave, 4 houses down from coram on the left. Thursday night was Bingo night at the center called Coram Garden, and the area kids would have a playground there and a hang out. The Firehouse had three garage doors and one old pumper in it. The neighbor across the street had a donkey called Mr. Kernel, and would give the area kids rides on him.

1960's
Mr. Demarco had a farm (40 acres) located on what is now Constitution Blv. S. where the condos are. Even in the 1960's Mr. and Mrs. Demarco would ride into town using their horse and buggy. Coram Road was as narrow now as it was back then, so cars would have to stop to let them by. They sold out around the 80's. 1960's was also the time Sunset Drive was built, but it wasn't till the 70's that Plaskon was built.

In 1975,
the Sponge Rubber Plant #4 burned to the ground, A helicopter crashed in Huntington, The New Route 8 Expressway opened, and the 'new' high school was dedicated.

–From: http://electronicvalley.org/shelton/historyquiz.html

In 1986,
Constitution Boulevard South was built by Chris Bargas on the old Laurel Heights State Sanitarium. The Hospital had roughly 125 acres of woods and apple orchards, gardens and wildlife, which now are Pitney Bowes and Water View Drive, and Ivy Brook Road. The Shelton Land Trust was responsible for saving the Ivy Brook from being ploughed under. The headwaters of Ivy Brook are located at the end of Paugussett Ave. Mr. Bargas from Monroe also installed the old sewer pipes running behind Webossett Street thinking the roads would go through. Laurel Heights was so aptley named because of all the groves of mountain laurel growing from the Ivy Brook to the hill side. It was so thick you couldn't walk through it, and some of the bushed reached to 60 feet.

After the road went through, Florist shops in Bridgeport would travel this road and harvest the local flora. There used to be a lot of cattails and pussy willows along the road and in the brook. Now you don't see any. I saved 5 cattails in the 80's and put them in my pond, hoping to reintroduce them when this area would be protected a little better. 2006 was the first year I propagated 3! extra plants from the originals. In 2014 I have over 1 dozen cattail plants. It's time to re-establish them this spring.

Planning and Zoning was first established in Shelton. So we are considered to be pre-P&Z. I guess I can get the goat/donkey after all, on my acre. Maybe a mini horse.

Kevin Buchanan's 2 cents
Here is a wonderful letter I recieved in the mail recently. Printed in it's entirety.

To the Corum Gardens news letter Editor:

Thanks so much for your informative pamphelet. I would like to throw my 2 cents in if I may.

I've lived at 42 Newport Ave from 1957 to 1983, and then from 1993 to the present.

From Newport Ave down to Sunset Drive, most of Sunset Drive from Coram to Dogwood and part of Angell Ave, the homes were built in 1955/56 by the same contractor and were either cape codes or ranches. I may be wrong but I think it was called "Hillside Development" while the area was being developed. My house is a ranch and I believe my folks paid $12,000 for it in 1956. Somewhere I have pictures of the house in it's final satges of construction that my Dad had taken as well as other photos of the area taken in the the late 50s and early to mid 60's. Don't know where they are off hand.

Back in the day we had a "party line" phone line and our number was REGENT-4-0386.

Right across the street from my house is 83 Newport Ave and is a brick house. I think the house was built in 1911 and that area where the condos are now was a barn and fields behind that. Mr. and Mrs. Viewood (sic) lived there until the Demarches (sic) family bought the place in the 1960s. The viewoods, although old to me back in the day, had chickens and cows and a rooster who used to wake me up every morning! The Viewoods must have owned several acres and had a small apple orchard and cherry trees planted. A few homes up the road a bit still, I think, have some kind of fruit trees from back then. They had a white picket fence going around the yard from where Demarches Drive is now up to Newport and down Manton St. Along Manton Street the viewoods had loads of purple grape vines growing along the fence line and were a favorite of us neighbor kids. I'm told that there are some grapevines around 83 Newport to this day.

Going down Manton Street from Newport and at the corner of Westminster, on the left you will see a wooded area and a large rock there. This was known to the neighborhood kids as the "Big Rock" and straight ahead was the "Junky Road".This was the undeveloped road (and impassible by car) that connected the two sections of Manton Street. It's part of someone's driveway now. Meet me by the Big Rock we would say as kids.

Corum Gardens Fire Company number 2 was about 2 and 1/2 houses down from Cranston from Toas Street and was on the right. Just below that on the right also was the Corum Gardens Civic Center. They had swing sets, a small building, and I recall going there in the summer playing board games, using the swings ect.

Going down Cranston, taking a left on Manton and going to the end of the road at the stop sign is an overgrown lot on the left. There I remember my Mom taking me to feed a Donkey carrots. This was the early 60's. Not sure of his name or if it's the one mentioned in your article or not. When you are there today, look straight ahead and this is where the "junky road" came out from the top of Manton.

The numbers are in a strange order coming up Newport from Sunset - take a look sometime!

The small road connecting Sunset and Plaskon never had a name. Until recently, it extended all the way to the woods but now has grass planted there. In the 60's just beyond where that road ended the houses were huge field and we kids use to go sled riding there in the winter and we had some great trails made there. We rode our bikes on them in the nicer weather. If you went to the next field up (toward the top of the hill) there were the water towers from Laurel Hieghts Hospital,right near the top of the hill. I was told that on many occasions some of the older kids neighborhood guys would get a .22 rifle and shoot out the aircraft warning lights on the towers! Further back in the day those fields belonged to a farmer named Mr.Plaskon (Plaskon drive named after him perhaps) and I heard stories how he would load his shotgun with rock salk and pepper your fanny if he caught you on his land!

Growing up here in the 60s was a blast as most families had kids my age. On Halloween there were so many kids out on the streets that if you fainted you could not fall down! Sled riding, snowball fights in the winter, water balloons, ball games, bike riding – I would not trade growning up here for anything else. It seemed like everyone's dad worked at Sikorsky or Avco. In my little section I can count 5 families who still live here from the mid to late 50s.

Kevin Buchannan
42 Newport Ave.

 

This is a very old map before Woonsocket was built. It looks to be a topo map of the proposed development. Sunset Drive doesn't even exist. My guess it is from around 1950.
Click on the image to enlarge.
This is a current map of the area courtesy Yahoo! Click on the image to enlarge.
  Here is a .PDF map from Google earth of the area.

Headwaters of the Ivy Brook

?Shelton Land Concervasion Trust accepts DeFillipo property

With the start of the new year, the Land Trust has acquired yet another parcel of land to preserve. The new parcel is off Providence Drive. It consists of approximately two and a half acres, and includes much of the headwaters of the Ivy Brook.
Ivy Brook parallels Constitution Boulevard, forming a pleasant greenway on its way to the Housatonic River. At one time, this parcel of mostly wetlands had a map, recorded years ago, proposing to split it up into eight tiny lots. Recent development in the neighborhood has put great strain on these key wetlands, with some of them being filled in for development.
The Land Trust was approached by a family member, who was concerned with preserving the property. Known as the DeFilippo property, it had been passed down through the years, and was owned by 2 generations, and several siblings. “Several board members walked the parcel last fall, and immediately appreciated its environmental significance,” said Joe Welsh, Land Trust president.
It took several months to get all the family members lined up to sign the necessary deeds, but by January the deal was completed. “The Trust greatly appreciates this generous gift from the family,” said Joe Welsh. “They too, recognized its significance as one of the last pieces of the headwaters that could be protected, and they did not want to see it filled in and developed.”
Some of the specimens observed on the property included Jack in the Pulpit, ferns, mature hardwoods, and some unwanted invasive plant species. Although the parcel is not easily accessible, (It is down a steep embankment at the end of Providence Drive) you can get to it if you’re careful. If you prefer, you can view a video of the site walk on Youtube: http://youtu.be/RrMLp73KftY

There have been quite a few proposals in developing the wetlands. Here is an excerpt from a 2006 P&Z meeting with some history:

Mr. Cook: There were 17 lots on Providence that were denied. Then there was Pawtucket in 1995 that was building on the other side of Toas and they ran the sewer line down through with no laterals because it was essentially all wetlands. There was an extension of Wells Ave. where they took 2-3 lots and combined into one lot. This is like the 2nd or 3rd extension. Cranston is on the more upland portion. Back in the late 80’s they requested a legal opinion from Corporation Counsel on how to handle all these paper streets with paper lots. Counsel at that time said apply the regulations at some point there is going to be a point of no return as far as some lots that are there and have been on paper for 50 years are no longer going to be viable lots.


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