Bridgewater, Connecticut

 

In 1722 Samuel Clark, an original proprietor of New Milford and merchant from Milford, had a portion of his share of land surveyed in the southerly part of town known then as Shepaug Neck, which later became Bridgewater. Joseph Treat, grandson of Robert Treat, a colonial governor of Connecticut was an early settler along with the four sons of Jeremiah Canfield, Sr. Descendants of these families played a prominent role in the early history of the area. The first school district was established in 1758. By the latter part of the 18th century, petitions were made to New Milford for a separate ecclesiastical society, a request granted in 1803. A meetinghouse, the present Congregational Church, was erected in 1807. Most early settlers were Congregationalists, but other faiths were represented as well. Until about 1800, a Baptist church stood on what is now called Christian Street. Episcopal worship began in private homes around 1810, and a church was built in 1836. The St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of today was erected in 1859.

 

The early town of Bridgewater was divided into several districts, each having its own store, school, mills, blacksmith and woodworking shops. Dairy farming developed in the 19th century and tobacco was grown as a cash crop. Brdgewwater was incorporated in 1856. Hat making flourished from 1823 to 1870 when Glover Sanford & Sons had a factory on Hat Shop Hill Road. For some years, Bridgewater was the boyhood home of Captain William D. Burnham, director and company manager of the American Hawaiian Steamship Company. His generous bequests made possible the library and school on Main Street that bear his name. The town was also the birthplace and place of business for Charles B. Thompson, a leading pioneer in mail-order selling. In 1899, he built a building for his business in the center of town which is now the Village Store and post office. Bridgewater today is largely residential with limited commercial areas and vast open space conserved for future generations.

 

Source: Bridgewater Historical Society and the Connecticut Historical Commission (1979)

© Bridgewater Historical Society

    2021 A. Wilkicki & L. Shail