East Haven is a town in New Haven County, Connecticut, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 29,257. Located east of New Haven, it is part of the Greater New Haven area. East Haven is from Hartford, from New York City, from Providence, Rhode Island, and from Boston.
In the 21st century, the city heard repeated complaints from its Latino community about discriminatory treatment and harassment by town police officers. The US Department of Justice investigated from 2009 to 2011, resulting in civil and criminal prosecution. In addition, Latinos filed a class action suit for violation of civil rights against the town in 2010. The Town reached settlements in both cases, in 2012 committing to the DOJ for changes in several areas to improve policing, supervision, training, procedures, and outreach. In June 2014 it settled on the class action suit, agreeing to pay $450,000 to the Latino group and to develop clear standards to separate policing from immigration enforcement. In the criminal case, the FBI arrested four officers in January 2012 under a 10-count indictment; two pleaded guilty that year and the two others were convicted at trial. All received varying sentences.
This area was long settled by indigenous peoples. Long before European encounter, Algonquian peoples occupied settlements along the coastline and rivers.
The area now known as East Haven was obtained by Puritan settlers Reverend John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton on November 29, 1638, as part of the purchase of New Haven from Sachem Momauguin of the local Quinnipiack tribe. Additional land, in what is now known as Foxon, was purchased from Chief Montowese on December 11, 1638.
In 1639 Thomas Gregson petitioned for the purchase of Solitary Cove, later called Morris Cove. This was granted on August 5, 1644, and was the last piece of land that made up the original town of East Haven. The original town boundaries were from the harbor and Quinnipiac River on the west to the Branford and North Branford town line on the east. The southern boundary is Long Island Sound, and the North Haven town line is the northern boundary.
East Farms, as it was first called, was considered a parish of the New Haven Colony. Settlers settled into Morris Cove and what is now the "center" of East Haven in 1639. The first Connecticut ironworks, the third in New England, was founded on the shores of Furnace Pond in 1655. Called Lonotononket (Great Pond) by the Quinnipiac, it was renamed by English-speaking settlers as Lake Saltonstall. With Branford and North Branford having had settlers since 1643, people from the New Haven Colony started to settle the Foxon section in 1683.
In 1665, the New Haven Colony was merged with the Connecticut Colony (Hartford) under a charter from King Charles II. With the success of the ironwork mill, the area became known as Iron Works Village. In 1675 Iron Works Village petitioned the Connecticut Colony to become a separate Town. Negotiations with New Haven regarding land never succeeded. This eventually led to the relinquishing of village privileges in 1685. Efforts were again made in 1703.
The Connecticut Colony granted the town petition for Township in May 1707 and colonists changed the name from Iron Works Village to East Haven. Some outstanding land issues with New Haven and a minor feud with Governor Gurdon Saltonstall resulted in the rescinding of the township status; the area was made a parish of New Haven.
In 1706 the first public school building was built in East Haven, followed by the appointment of a School Committee in 1707.
Jacob Hemingway, one of the first Yale students, served as the first pastor (1704–1754) of the Congregational church in East Haven. Several meeting houses were built over the years. In January 1772 the Society of East Haven authorized the expense of $1,000 to build a new meeting house. while under construction, the building was extended by and a steeple was added. In 1774 the Old Stone (Congregational) Church was finished, and Nicholas Street was named its first minister.
During the American Revolution, this area was subject to troop movement and encampment by both revolutionary and British forces. On July 5, 1779, British forces led by General William Tryon landed from war ships, attacked Black Rock Fort in Morris Cove and captured its 19 defenders. The British attacked New Haven and East Haven. General Lafayette and revolutionary forces also visited town and encamped on the green. During the Revolution, East Haven lost 16 men. John Howe was killed at the Black Rock Fort. Fifteen other men died, mostly of disease while held on British prison ships in Long Island Sound. After the war, the United States military abandoned Black Rock Fort.
East Haven became an incorporated town of the new republic in May 1785. At the initial town meeting, on July 5, 1785, Isaac Chidsey was named first selectman.
When relations between the United States and Britain deteriorated in the early 19th century preceding the War of 1812, the government decided to re-fortify Black Rock Fort. A new masonry wall was built for fortification. Six guns were installed, and a new barracks for 50 men and a magazine were built. The fort was renamed Fort Nathan Hale, in honor of the Connecticut patriot. During the War of 1812, the fort successfully defended the area from several British raids.
In 1863, during the Civil War, a new Fort Hale was built to defend against possible raids by the Confederate States. Built next to the ruins of the original fort, the fortification included an earthen rampart, five fortified bunkers, eighteen guns and a moat with a drawbridge. The fort did not see any action during the Civil War. East Haven lost 15 men during the war. Two men, Charles Benoit and James Murphy died at Andersonville prison in Georgia.
East Haven's western border was the Quinnipiac River, and the town was in charge of four bridges that crossed it. In 1881 East Haven was facing a financial problem. The repair and maintenance of the four bridges that crossed the Quinnipiac River, along with highway maintenance, and payments to Civil War soldiers, presented the town with a $200,000 debt. The bridges contributed $180,000 of that debt. Combined with requests for additional town services, the Board of Selectman voted to sell Fair Haven, Granniss Corners, and Morris Cove to New Haven. After a public vote, in which East Haven residents voted 123 to sell and 9 against, it ceded those three sections to New Haven. The town cleared its debt, at the same time losing 70% of its population and 33% of its land area.
Since the 1850s, Lake Saltonstall had become a major amusement center in the region. The lake was used heavily during the summer and by skaters in the winter. The lake, which borders the towns of East Haven and Branford, was sold in 1895 to the New Haven Water Company.
The new East Haven continued to grow. In 1892, after several businesses and the town hall were destroyed in a fire, the Board of Selectmen voted to install fire hydrants in the center of town and ordered of hose. Fighting town fires was handled by citizen volunteers who came to the fire. By 1899, several young town members formed a volunteer fire department. They applied for state recognition and started serving the town on January 2, 1900.