Colchester, Connecticut

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Colchester is a town in New London County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 16,068 at the 2010 census.[1] In 2010 Colchester became the first town in Connecticut, and the 36th in the country, to be certified with the National Wildlife Federation as a Community Wildlife Habitat.

The Colchester Historical Society operates a local history museum in town.


The original settlement of Colchester, was founded by Jeremy Adams upon an area of land known as: "Jerimiah's Farme". The land given to Jeremy, by Uncas, Sachem of the Mohegan tribe.

In 1692, the town of Colchester was confirmed unto Danial Mason, son of Major John Mason.

On October 13, 1698, Michael Taintor, Samuel Northam and Nathaniel Foote III applied to go forth and settle the Town. Jerimiah's Farm was selected as the main point of reference for the town, with its north boundary as the Twenty Mile River. The southern side is bordered by Lyme. The west boundary meets the east bounds of Middletown and Haddam. The east and northeast boundary run to the bounds of Lebanon and Norwich. During the initial settlement, the area was also referred to as the Plantation of the Twenty-mile River.

On May 11, 1699, the town's principal founders, Nathaniel Foote, Samuel Northam and Michael Taintor asked the general court of Hartford for assistance with persons hindering the advancement of the settlement, to be transferred under the jurisdiction of the New London colony, and for the Town to be recognized as Colchester. On May 11, 1699 the town name was so named and incorporated into the colony of New London. The town is said to be named after Colchester, a borough and port in Essex, England, where many colonists had emigrated from, most notably, where Nathaniel's grandfather Nathaniel Foote was born.

Colchester's early history, like that of many towns in New England, centered on the church parish. In 1703, the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut ruled that the settlement could organize a church body here known as Colchester. Within a few years, several grist mills and saw mills were built to provide grain and lumber for the settlement. In 1706, the first street was laid and called Town Street. Nearly 200 feet wide, it is now the southern end of Old Hebron Road. By 1714, there were nearly 50 English colonial families in town.

On 13 Oct 1803 the town of Marlborough, Hartford County was created from parts of the towns of Colchester, Glastonbury, Hartford County, and Hebron, Tolland County.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 49.8 square miles (129 km2), of which 49.1 square miles (127 km2) is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2), or 1.49%, is water. Among the many waterways are the Salmon River, Jeremy River, and Dickinson Creek, which is spanned by the Lyman Viaduct.

Principal communities

  • Colchester center
  • Golden Hill Paugussett Reservation
  • North Westchester
  • Westchester


Print made about 1848–1849 by Kelloggs & Comstock

Lyman Viaduct on the Air-Line Railroad

Formerly an incorporated borough, the town center of Colchester is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, known as the Colchester Village Historic District. The walkable center includes a town green with a veterans' memorial. Retail stores and restaurants are located here.

The Colchester Congregational Church, Bacon Academy, and, to the right of the church beneath the trees, a small "school for colored children." Sketch by John Warner Barber for his Historical Collections of Connecticut (published in 1836)

Notable people

  • John Adams (1772–1863), founder of Phillips Exeter Academy, was the principal of the Bacon Academy here from 1803–1810.[11]
  • Prince Saunders (1775–1839), attorney general of the Republic of Haiti
  • Abigail Goodrich Whittelsey (1788–1858), editor
  • Stephen F. Austin (1793–1836), "Father of Texas", attended Bacon Academy in 1803
  • Denison Worthington (1806–1880), Wisconsin state senator
  • William Adams (1807–1880), born in Colchester, noted clergyman and president of Union Theological Seminary (New York)[11]
  • Lyman Trumbull (1813–1896), born in Colchester, Bacon Academy graduate (1829), became influential as a U.S. senator representing the state of Illinois during the Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Henry C. Deming (1815–1872), mayor of Hartford, mayor of New Orleans, colonel in the Union Army and U.S. congressman
  • Alfred Ely (1815–1892), US congressman of New York and taken prisoner after the First Battle of Bull Run
  • Edward Sheffield Bartholomew (1822–1858), sculptor
  • Rick Derringer (1947–), rock artist and producer
  • Ron Wotus (1961–), Bacon Academy graduate (1979), San Francisco Giants bench coach
  • Nathaniel Hayward (1808–1865), Inventor, Business Owner

In popular culture

Colchester is the model for the fictional town of Chelmsford, Connecticut, in DP Mellon's 1978 novel Acid Acres


"Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Colchester town, New London County, Connecticut". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
"Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Colchester CDP, Connecticut". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 87.
Conn. Spec. Acts 1803, 2:1157–1158.
"New London County". Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
Climate Summary for Colchester, Connecticut
"Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
"Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
"American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
"Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 25, 2005" (PDF). Connecticut Secretary of State. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-10-02.
Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607–1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.

Colchester Historical Society

External links

Town of Colchester official website