Nov 11, 201407:51 PMFairfield
Celebrating Fairfield's 375th
As the year comes to a close, we get closer and closer to one of the biggest bashes Fairfield has ever had- Fairfield’s 375th Grand Gala. Before the big day arrives, let’s look closer at the incredible history we’ve been celebrating for the past year.
Before Fairfield became “Fairfield,” it was called Uncoway. Occupied by Native Americans of different tribes, English settlers took over the area. The 1637 “Great Swamp Battle took place around what is now Southport. The battle was fought by Pequot Indians who had survived a previous massacre. The warriors who fought were killed, and the surviving women and children were sold to the Indian allies of the English as slaves.
In 1639, Roger Ludlowe, who had fought with the English in the Great Swamp Battle, purchased a tract of land from the Pequonnock Indians inhabiting the land. Over the years, he purchased more land. As more settlers came to the area and started to settle further and further away from the historic town center, the stage was set for separate towns.
Fast forward to 1777. British troops initially invaded the area but bypassed Fairfield in favor of raiding and destroying military supplies in Danbury. However, a second invasion on July 7, 1779 was catastrophic. Homes were burned one by one, along with churches and the minister’s homes. Because it took Fairfield a long time to recover, it lost its reputation as a prosperous town, and the economical center of the coast shifted to Bridgeport.
During all this, slavery was still a common practice in Fairfield. However, a state law passed in 1783 was passed that gradually ended slavery. Though the numbers dwindled over the years, it was not officially abolished in Connecticut until 1848.
By the late 1800s, Fairfield was a very different town from when it had started. Another change was in industry; as western lands opened up, it was no longer considered great farmland. However, its harbor was busy, and the land was valued for its development potential. This paired with the arrival of the railroad in Fairfield in 1848 helped make Fairfield the town it is today. Men could work in New York City and arrive home the same day if they chose. Well-to-do city dwellers could enjoy a restful trip to the water.
Now in 2014, that trend has continued. With the addition of highways, more people travel in and through Fairfield than ever before. Fairfielders still do a (shorter) commute to the City, visitors come to enjoy a little time by the water, and the town maintains its old charm, with diverse neighborhoods and historic buildings.
The 375th Grand Gala is the perfect way to celebrate Fairfield’s rich past, and to look forward to its future. The event takes place this Saturday evening at the William H. Pitt Center at Sacred Heart University. Even if you are unable to attend the Gala, Fairfield is still ending the year-long celebration with a bang. Numerous holiday events are taking place throughout the remainder of November and through December. See fairfield375.com for information about the gala and the final 2014 Fairfield events.