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First Families of Westport: About

First Families of Westport

Notable Names of 18th Century Saugatuck

First Families of Westport: Who Began It All?

Westport's unique character can be traced to the town's roots in the Native American tribes who frequented the area, the five original "Bankside Farmers" who settled what is now known as Green's Farms in 1648, and another group of settlers who followed -- the Coleys, the Wheelers, the Bennetts, the Jennings, the Burrs, the enslaved and free African Americans who labored on the farms, in various trades and on the harbor front, and many more who came after them to shape this nationally-known town. Continue reading from About Westport

The Paugussett Nation

The Paugussett nation occupied a sizable portion of western Connecticut, generally defined as that section of coast between West Haven and Norwalk and inland up the valleys of the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers as far as they were navigable by canoe. The tribe was divided into four main bands, all closely related through frequent intermarriage and communal activities: the Pequannock, who occupies what is now Bridgeport, Fairfield, Stratford and Westport, with adjoining inland areas; the "Paugussett Proper", who resided mainly in Milford, Derby and Shelton; the Pootatuck, who occupied Woodbury, Southbury and Newton; and the Weantinock, whose main village was at New Milford. Continue reading from Brilvitch, A History of Connecticut's Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe, 13

The Bankside Farmers

The first three farmers were Thomas Newton, Henry Gray, and John Green. They were soon followed by Daniel Frost, who occupied land now called Frost Point, and Francis Andrews, who lived near what is now called Sherwood Island. These early settlers took one look at the beautiful stretch of fertile fields on the banks of the Long Island Sound and staked out of their claims along the Indian path that is now Beachside Avenue. 

For nearly two decades, these five proprietors - variously known as the Bankside Farmers because they were located on the banks of Long Island Sound, "the West Parish Farmers", or "the Maximus Farmers" - were the only settlers in Machamux. Their land acquisition was recognized by an agreement [...] drafted in November 1648, under which the "Town of Fairfield and Thomas Newton, Henry Gray and John Green shall have Liberty to sit down and inhabit Machamux" to each own 20 acres of upland, and to build fences around their planting fields. Continue reading from Klein, Westport Connecticut: The Story of a New England Town's Rise to Prominence, 36

African American Families

Enslaved people lived in the areas of Fairfield and Norwalk that would eventually become Westport. Over 240 men, women, and children were bound in the parish of Greens Farms alone in the eighty-year period from 1742 to 1822.

They were from the households of prominent families like the Jennings, Jesups, Nash’s, Sherwoods, and Coleys. Their labor – from farming to shipping to retail – produced wealth for those who enslaved them and prosperity in the community at large. Continue reading from Westport Museum for History and Culture

From the Collection

Link to History and Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield by Donald Lines Jacobus in the catalog
Link to Pequot Plantation: The Story of an Early Colonial Settlement by Richard Radune in the catalog
Link to A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England by James Savage in the catalog
Link to Edward Jessup of West Farms, Westchester by Edward G Jesup in the catalog
Link to A History of Connecticut's Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe by Charles Brilvitch in the catalog
Link to Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year of 1790: Connecticut in the catalog
Link to Genealogical Notes on the First Families of Connecticut and Massachusetts by Nat Goodwin in the catalog
Link to CT Society of Colonial Wars Register of Pedigrees and Services of Ancestors in the catalog
Link to Westport, Connecticut by Woody Klein in the catalog
Link to Westport by Westport Museum for History & Culture in the catalog
Link to Westport News Database
Link to Joel Davis Local History Center resource guide
Link to Microfilm Collection resource guide