General History

Some people eat at halftime, some grab a new beer, hit the bathroom…not me. I head out into the woods and see what I can find.

This past Sunday I was down in Ridgefield at my friend Craig’s on Hickory Lane watching the NCAA Basketball games. At halftime of the Tennessee vs. Michigan State game I remembered Craig had mentioned finding a granite marker in the woods behind his house. And so it was off to the woods! as soon as the buzzer sounded.

I was not disappointed. The marker was there and it had a very interesting flaw…the person who carved the R’s must have been a local because he almost carved a B and not an R on the Ridgefield side of the marker. After all that is the Branchville side of town.

Boundary Marker for Redding & Ridgefield

On the Redding side the R is clearly an R.

Ridgefield Side of Boundary Marker

On the Ridgefield side it’s a lot closer to a B. See the photo below.

Close up Showing the B

These boundary markers are more common than you think in Redding and Ridgefield. Down at the corner of Mountain Road & Peaceable Street there is a boundary marker with a R, R, W. The boundary of Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton.

Off of Old Mill Road there is a very old boundary rock marked with N, R, F. The boundary of Norwalk (Wilton), Ridgefield (Redding) and Fairfield (Weston).

Georgetown's Boundary Rock

“Ye surveyors find that ye east and south boundary lines meet on a rock on ye banks of the Norwalk River, 20 rods north of ye Danbury Cart Path fording place. Ye bounds of Norwalk and Fairfield meet on said rock.”

Close-up of N

For more on Branchville and a little about the mining industry in the area. Visit the History of Redding’s Branchville pages.


Redding, Connecticut has been the home of many famous individuals over the years. I’m sure that there are more than I have listed here but at this time these are the individuals I know of. Please feel free to contact me if you know of others.

* Paul Avgerinos (Musician)

* Joel Barlow (Poet/Politician)

* Dan Beard (Illustrator, one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America. Lived on Great Pasture)

* Rosamond Bernier (70s to ’02 – Art lecturer, author…lived on Poverty Hollow Road)

* Leonard Bernstein (50’s – Musician, composer…lived on Fox Run Road)

* Michael Ian Black (Current Resident, Comedian, Actor, Author)

* Georgie Brush (60’s – Painter..lived on Redding Ridge)

* Diana Canova (was an actress in the TV show Soap and the voice of Daphney in the original Scooby Doo cartoon.)

* Stuart Chase (30s to 80s. Economist & philosopher, activist. Worked for FDR and his book “A New Deal” was the term adopted by FDR…lived on Redding Road)

* Rachel Crothers (20s to 50s, playwright…lived on Long Ridge Road)

* Dottie Earle-DeLuca (Current resident of 25 years) Radio City Music Hall Rockette (7 years) Broadway- The Will Rogers Follies, On the Town, Music of the Night-National touring company, Andrew Lloyd Webber musical; The Ziegfield Follies of 1936-off Broadway, and the Broadway revival of Sondheim’s Follies. Hammerstein on PBS and “Liberty Weekend” a star studded event by the legendary producer David L.Wolper at Giants Stadium.

* E.W. Deming & Theresa Deming (10’s to 40’s, E.W. Deming, painter of American Indians, and his wife Theresa, author of books about Indians. They had a home on Route 53 from 1916 until he died in 1942. Theresa died in 1945. They are buried in Umpawaug cemetery.)

* Katherine Drier (20s, 30s, She was a patron of the modern art movement in the U.S. She formed the Societe Anonyme and organized the International Exhibition of Modern Art in Brooklyn in 1926 with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. She was also a key player in founding the Museum of Modern Art in New York City…lived on Marchant Rd in 1912 and later moved across the Danbury line on Long Ridge Rd)

* Susan Boone Durkee (1970’s to Present. Mark Twain Lane) An award winning artist, Susan works out of her spacious West Redding, Connecticut studio, The Lobster Pot, so named by Mark Twain who owned the property at the turn of the century.

* Michael C. Erlanger (Writer. Lived in Redding Center)

* Howard Fast (famous auther of The Crossing and Citizen Tom Paine. Lived on Cross Highway in the 1980-1990)

* Varian Fry (the American Schindler, later in life taught at Joel Barlow High School)

* Robert S. Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald is widely known as one of the most poetic translators into the English language, best known as a translator of ancient Greek and Latin. He published translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid and Sophocles’ Oedipus plays ….lived on Seventy Acres Road, 1940’s – 1960’s)

* Hal Foster (Cartoonist-Prince Valiant)

* Gilbert Fox (Pulitzer Prize-Nominated Cartoonist)

* Francesco A. Gianninoto (Inventor, Industrial Designer. Creations included: Marlboro flip-top cigarette box, Orange-Roof of the Howard Johnson restaurants, Elsie the Borden cow. In 1984, built a 12-story-tall windmill, the tallest in Connecticut on his 23.5 acres estate in Lonetown…it produced electricity for a greenhouse, the rest was sold to a local utility company.)

* George Giusti (Graphic designer, Illustrator. Lived on Chalburn Road)

* Bernard Guerlain of Guerlain Perfumes (Owned a specialty paper company that imported artist and specialty papers, including Arches and Rives, used by printmakers and watercolorists. Lived on Sanfordtown Road.)

* Elizabeth Janeway (Author) & Elliot Janeway (Economist) late 1940s and early 1950s with their two sons on Valley Road (now Poverty Hollow Rd.) at the bottom of Church Hill Road.

* Daryl Hall (Musician-Hall & Oates. Lived on Topstone Rd.)

* Frank M. Hawks (Famous Aviator. Lived off Route 107 “Hawk’s Nest”)

* Jascha Heifetz (40s – Violinist…lived on Sanfordtown Rd)

* Elsie Hill (20s to 30s, Women’s Suffragette…lived on Seventy Acres Road)

* William E. Hill (Cartoonist)

* Anna Hyatt Huntington (Artist) Lived on Sunset Hill.

* Charles Ives (Musician) Lived on Umpawaug Hill.

* Alfred Winslow Jones (Known as the father of the hedge fund industry. Created the Wall Street “hedge fund.” …lived on Poverty Hollow Rd)

* Igor Kipnis (Musician)

* John Kirkpatrick (Musician/Professor/Writer)

* Larry Kudlow recently moved to Redding. He has his own TV show Kudlow and Company and is a syndicated columnist.

* Joseph Wood Krutch (40s. Author and Naturalist…lived on Limekiln Rd)

* Marvin Laird (Musical Director…lives on Ledgeway Road)

* Jack Lawrence (Songwriter)

* Hope Lange (Actress)

* Barry Levinson (Writer, Producer, Director)

* Enoch Light (Musician)

* David Lilienthal (50s – Scientist, Director of the Atomic Energy Commission, Director of Tennessee Valley Authority…lived on Stepney Rd)

* Walther Luttgen (1910’s-20’s) Partner at international banking firm, August Belmont & Company; Director of the Illinois Central Railroad Company, the Transatlantic Trust Company and the Rapid Transit Construction Company.; Luttgen Place in New Jersey is named for him.

* Harry Mace – Cartoonist – freelance, AMY (syndicated panel)

* Carmen Mathews (Actress. Lived on Umpawaug/Marchant…New Pond Farm)

* Meatloaf a.k.a. Marvin Lee Aday (Musician. Lived on Orchard Drive)

* John G. Mitchell (Editor-in-Chief of Sierra Club Books, Field Editor and Writer for Audubon Magazine, Environmental Editor National Geographic)

* Joseph S. Montgomery (Founder of Cannondale Bicycles, Peaceable St., Fox Run Rd., Umpawaug Rd., Granite Ridge)

* Dick Morris (White House Aide/Political Advisor)

* Walter O’Meara (Ad Executive/Writer – who lived on Sanford Town Rd – 50s)

* Fred Otnes (Artist, Illustrator. Lived on Chalburn Road)

* Albert Bigelow Paine (Writer. Lived on Diamond Hill)

* Major General Samuel Holden Parsons (1778-1782. Commander under Gen. Israel Putnam . He first proposed the idea of a Continental Congress in 1774. Appointed first Chief Judge to Northwest Territory (Ohio)…lived on Black Rock Tpke)

* Charles A. Pooler, (1957 to 1965) Amarketing research pioneer and co-founder of Ad Age magazine. Spent 20 years with Benton & Bowles advertising agency. Resided at corner of Sidecut Road and Rt.53.

* John Russell (70s to ’02 – NY Times art critic and author…lived on Poverty Hollow Road)

* Daniel Saidenberg, Poverty Hollow, an accomplished musician and conductor, who created his own chamber music group. He was an extraordinary cellist who played for the Philadelphia and Chicago Symphony orchestras.

* Elliot Scheiner (5 Time grammy Award Winning Producer/Engineer)

* Edward Steichen (Artist-Photographer) Lived on Topstone…actually Topstone Park was his property)

* Orville Schell (Civil Liberties lawyer, First Amendment defender)

* Jane and Michael Stern (Writers/Food Critics)

* Ira and Maxine Stone (Songwriters, Musicians, Performed at the Original Woodstock Festival in 1969, Redding resident’s since 1975.)

* Ruth Stout – Writer (organic gardening)

* Hume Cronyn & Jessica Tandy (40s to 50s – Stage and film actors …lived on Stepney Road)

* Russ Titelman (lived in Redding in the 1980s. He is a grammy winning record producer for Eric Clapton, David Sanborn, Steve Winwood.)

* Anne Parrish Titzell (Writer…lived on Peaceable St)

* Tasha Tudor (10s to 30s. Childrens’ author and artist…lived on Tudor Rd)

* Mary Travers (Musician-Peter, Paul, Mary. Lives on Limekiln Rd.)

* Mark Twain (1908-1910, Writer) Mark Twain Lane, “Stormfield”

* Moira Wallace, Redding Ridge, Not world famous, but one of the most well known and highly regarded antique dealers of her era (1940-1985).

* Walter White (40s to 50s, Head of NAACP…lived on Seventy Acres Rd)

* Jay Williams (50s. Author)

Enjoy this list? You’ll love Dennis Paget’s new book: They All Lived in Redding.

Next Tuesday March 30th on Cablevision’s Channel 88 at 9:30pm. The show is called “Christina”. Brent Colley, Susan B. Durkee and Heather Morgan discuss their efforts to promote Mark Twain’s time in Connecticut during the Twain Centennial year of 2010.

It will also play on channel 88 in April at 8:30pm April 6th, April 13, and and April 20th.

Hauntings and Ghosts in Redding and Georgetown, Connecticut

West Redding:
Reports of orbs in a small field on the right of the train tracks before the overpass on Simpaug Turnpike usually at night. Orbs of light and a lit tent vanishing.

Why? Train worker killed in this location in early 1900’s. This is also an area that has Native American Indian connections and a re-burial of Indian remains recently. Other clues…this area had a colonial tavern.

Gallows Hill: Reports of orbs and voices, especially in winter months.

Why? They call it Gallows Hill for a reason.

General Putnam’s Orders, Feb. 4, 1779

Edward Jones was tried at a General Court Martial for going to and serving the enemy, and coming out as a spy. He was found guilty of each and every charge exhibited against him, and according to Law and the Usage’s of Nations was sentenced to suffer Death:

“The General approves the sentence and orders it to be put in execution between the hours of ten and eleven A.M. by hanging him by the neck till he be dead.”

General Putnam’s Orders, Feb. 6, 1779

John Smith of the 1st Connecticut Regiment, was tried at a General Court Martial for desertion and attempting to go to the enemy, found guilty, and further persisting in saying that he will go to the enemy if ever he has an opportunity.

“The General approves the sentence and orders that it be put in execution between the hours of ten and twelve A.M. for him to be shot to death”

Route 53: Just past John Read Middle School. Lot’s of strange activity…not easy to explain. Don’t even know why to be honest, could be native american indian related or an industrial accident, horse or car accident. Haven’t uncovered any clues yet.

Umpawaug Cemetery: Cold spots around the pines even in the heat of summer.

Why? not sure yet. Many untimely death victims buried there so that’s likely the cause.

Diamond Hill: Just below the Mark Twain Library there is a super hot area where three people drowned in two separate floods…a couple died in 1955 after their car was caught in the swollen river, and a man died in 1982 attempting to clear the falls in a raft.

At the Diamond Hill Road bridge, Edward Arthur Phoenix, 53, and his wife, Veronica, 47, of Fox Run Road lost their lives when their car was swept into the river below the bridge. Mr. and Mrs. Phoenix were coming home from dinner at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Blair of Great Pasture Road.

A three and one-half hour frantic and near successful attempt to rescue Mrs. Phoenix from a tree, after her husband had been swept to his death, made the tradegy even more horrifying. While volunteer firemen and neighbors tried vainly to reach her in the darkness she clung doggedly to the tree, aware of the efforts to save her. But at length her strength failed and she fell into the river and drowned. At one time the rescuers were within 20 feet of the tree but were turned aside by the tremendous force of the torrent.

An Army helicopter spotted the women’s body Monday Morning, 1,500 feet from the Diamond Hill Bridge. Mr. Phoenix’s body was recovered early Tuesday about 50 feet further downstream.

Mark Twain Lane: Black Cat appears on Halloween.

Why? not sure yet. But every year it appears.

Many older homes is this area, my favorite ghost story is…

Couple and their 2 year old move into old homestead, prior to move 2 year old sleeps through the night no-matter-what. For the whole first week, 2 year old is wired- plays and laughs all night long. Figuring the child needs the home to somewhat resemble their former home to return to a normal routine, the mother takes the child to her mother’s so the husband has time to decorate and fix up the child’s room. While at the mother’s house the 2 year old points to a painting on the wall and asks: “what’s she doing here?!” Mother responses: “what’s WHO doing here?!” 2 year old says: “Nadajiah”. Mother, doing her best not to freak as she looks at a portrait of a child circa 1800’s on the wall, asks the child to explain…2 year old says “the girl from new house in Redding….we play together, she comes out at night, we have fun.”

Putnam Park: Many believe to have experienced something back by Philip’s Cave. Little to no research to-date by experts.

Redding Ridge: Lots of activity up on the Ridge. The Spinning Wheel Inn has had sightings and investigations for decades.

Why? I suspect the former owner is involved. I know she never wanted alcohol to be served and it has been since she left the business.

Meeker Hill: There is also some activity on the corner of Meeker Hill and Route 58. The spirits appear to be slaves or indians. Could be either given the history of that location.

Redding Ridge Cemetery: Back in middle school a schoolmate connected with something via a “walkman” when she touched a stone. I know she was in need of attention but I’ve experienced “cold spots” there too…in August.

Thoughts? Redding historian Charles Burr Todd is buried in Redding Ridge Cemetery and he does not have a stone, in fact, he is not even noted above ground!! This man in the only man or woman to publish the complete history of Redding in book format and he is buried…period, no stone, no marker, nada. Tell me you would not haunt if that were you.

Sunset Hill: Senator Peck’s estate. A woman who used to live there told me of ball room music playing and the sounds of “guests” partying late at night.

Georgetown: In the Rock Lot, an open space/trail area off Peaceable Street is the cave of the “Leatherman”. It has some activity, especially in October and November. The Leatherman has been recently been made famous again by Pearl Jam.

Many more houses and areas are haunted in Redding. Some stories are just too spooky to share online.

Painting in Redding CT is the top search term at the present. Not Redding Real Estate, not Redding History or Famous Redding Residents…nope! Painting in Redding CT.

If I had to plug a Redding CT Painter it would be Susan Boone Durkee. Susan is the best Portrait Painter in Redding, CT if not Connecticut as a whole.

So…if you need a:

painter in redding connecticut
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or a

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Call Susan B. Durkee- (203) 938-2760

If you need someone to paint your house? Call Advance Painting (203) 938-7063. Please mention they need a website. 🙂

In an effort to raise awareness of Mark Twain’s time in Redding, Connecticut I have put together a slideshow presentation that highlights his final home, Stormfield, and the library he founded for the people of Redding.

The Credits:

A special Thank You to all those that made this PowerPoint Presentation possible.

Thank you to Barbara Schmidt and her amazing Twain resource site.

Thank you to David Thompson and his collection of Twain photos and montages. &

Thank you to Kevin Mac Donnell for his knowledge, insights, rare photos and books.

Thank you to Susan Boone Durkee for her knowledge, photos, artwork and parties. Two of Susan’s portraits appear in the slideshow- Jean and Sam in his Oxford Gown.

Thank you to The Mark Twain House, for their truly amazing museum, and priceless photos. Thank you to Patti Phillippon for access and usage.

Thank you to Heather Morgan and her staff at the Mark Twain Library for access and usage. The MTL is a treasure trove of new information on Twain’s Final years.

Thank you to The Mark Twain Forum and all its members for sharing their knowledge and bringing Twainiacs together.

Thank you to The Mark Twain Journal, for promoting Stormfield and Redding in Volume 44.

Thank you to The Mark Twain Project, for access to Sam’s letters. Your work has allowed for the research that fuels us all to keep searching and sharing.

Paul of Adam’s Auction Service, LLC emailed me this week urging me to find a way to get down to New Canaan before Friday. He had called and emailed me before, but this week it was “now or never”. Raymond Miller’s house and belongings were going on sale and everything had to go. For those of you who do not know who Raymond Miller is, he was the Vice President and Secretary of Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Company up until the Merger and Acquisition of the company in 1985. Raymond’s family, for the most part, took the reins from the Gilbert family in the early 1900’s and grew G&B to a whole new level of success and innovation. Three Miller’s and one Miller son-in-law served as President from 1906 to 1963.

For many years I’ve had to rely on first and second hand accounts of what happenned to Gilbert and Bennett from the mid 1970’s to the mid 1980’s…it was my only gap…but now (as I type this) I am surrounded by boxes and boxes full of information: cash ledgers, property ledgers, employee records, stockholder reports, hand written notes, internal memos and letters, photos, employee handbooks…it’s a treasure trove of new information.

I cannot thank Paul enough and urge anyone considering an Estate Sale consultant to contact Paul via his website: Paul saved a very important piece of the puzzle for all of us interested in the rise and fall of the Gilbert and Bennett Company, an early Christmas present that I’ll be sharing with you all in 2010.

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