A VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF DANBURY, CONNECTICUT
1684 -- Danbury founded and named for the English town by eight families from Norwalk. Early nickname for the place was Beantown because excellent quality beans were grown here.
1770 -- Colonel Joseph Platt Cooke House built at 342 Main Street. Washington, Lafayette, and Rochambeau met here. It was partially burned by the British 7 years later.
1777 -- Danbury raid by British force under General William Tryon. The Brits burned and looted the town, destroying the church, 19 houses, and 22 stores and barns filled with military stores.
1777 (April 27) -- Battle of Ridgefield where the militia tried to stop Tryon’s troops retreating from the burning of Danbury. General Wooster received a mortal wound and taken back to Danbury where he died. The Timothy Keeler Tavern received a round shot during the battle. The building was owned and occupied by the architect Cass Gilbert. (Norwalk to Danbury, US 7 follows the path of the retreat of the British raiders on Danbury under Tryon.)
1778 -- in the fall, four brigades commanded by General Gates encamped for a few weeks.
1780 -- Zadoc Benedict established the first beaver-hat factory in America in Danbury. In the 1930s 51 of the 70 mills engaged in some branch of the hat industry.
1782 -- returning from Yorktown, the French stopped over the night of October 23 in Danbury.
1784 -- Danbury was a half-shire town with Bridgeport.
1792 -- harness horses raised in Danbury.
1821 -- fairs held in Danbury as early as this date.
1822 -- Danbury becomes a town.
1832 -- P. T. Barnum jailed in Danbury for libel for 60 days. He ran his newspaper operation from the jail.
1850 -- George White Ives (grandfather of composer Charles Edward Ives) helps plan Wooster Cemetery.
1850s -- substantial growth of the hat industry in Danbury.
1852 -- the railroad, the Danbury & Norwalk Railroad, started its 23-mile railroad line.
1861-1865 (Civil War) -- Danbury band leader George Ives, father of composer Charles Ives, leads the Brigade Band of the First Connecticut Heavy Artillery. General. Grant called it the best band in the Union army.
1869 -- first Danbury Fair held. Kohanza Dam breaks and 10 people killed.
By 1869 -- the Danbury Fair had become a yearly event, and was held until 1981.
1870 -- Danbury News first published.
1871 -- ground purchased for the famous Danbury Fair Grounds.
1888 -- Danbury’s first mayor Louis Legrand Hopkins elected. He was employed by the Danbury and Norwalk Railroad as a freight agent.
1889 -- Danbury chartered as a city.
1902 -- the American Federation of Labor union called for a nationwide boycott of a non-union hat manufacturer, Dietrich Loewe, in Danbury. The manufacturer sued the union under the Sherman Antitrust Act.
1908 -- the Supreme Court held that the American Federation of Labor hat workers union was liable for damages.
1915 -- the hatters’ unions loose the US Supreme Court decision over fights with the Loewe hat firm and 186 union hatters forced to sell their homes to pay the court judgment of $300,000.
1928 -- local pilots purchased a 60 acre tract near the Danbury Fairgrounds, known as Tucker's Field. This property was leased to the town and became the Danbury Municipal Airport .
Lake Candlewood -- Lake Kenosia (originally named Mill Plain Pond and part of the Still River) was accessed by Danburyites by trolley. It provided a hotel, boat rides, swimming, and other amusements. It was destroyed by fire in 1926 and Danbury citizens flocked to the newly created Lake Candlewood. In 1948 a small section of the lake became a town park for the Danburyites. (Danbury Museum and Historical Society, 2001)
1940s -- world-famous contralto Marian Anderson moves to Danbury.
1941 -- use of mercury outlawed in 26 states.
1955 -- flood of the Still River.
1960s -- the Army Corps of Engineers re-channels the Still River.
1969 -- US 84 connects New York State with Hartford.
Early 1970s -- Rev. Daniel Berrigan and his brother Philip, Catholic priests, jailed for their antiwar protests against the Vietnam War were imprisoned in the Federal Correctional Institution at Danbury. Later G. Gordon Liddy, Howard Hunt and four other Watergate burglars transferred from Washington D.C. to the Federal Correctional Institution.
1972 -- William F. Buckley, Jr. speaks at Western Connecticut State College on his trip with President Richard Nixon to China.
1981 -- close of the Danbury Fair. The Danbury Fair Mall is located there now.
1986 -- opening of the Danbury Fair Mall.
1988 -- Danbury was voted #1 City to live in by Money Magazine mostly due to low crime, good schools and location.
Danbury Museum and Historical Society, 2001.
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