Wethersfield - settled 1634. First called Watertown. Renamed Wethersfield in 1637. - Ricker, 8.
Wethersfield is a town in Hartford County, Connecticut, USA, immediately south of Hartford along the Connecticut River and Interstate 91. Many records from colonial times spell the name "Weathersfield", while Native Americans called it "Pyquag". The town's motto is "Ye Most Auncient Towne in Connecticut", and its population was 26,668 in the 2010 census. The neighborhood known as Old Wethersfield is the state's largest historic district, spanning two square miles and 1,100 buildings, dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Founded in 1634 by a Puritan settlement party of "10 Men" including John Oldham, Robert Seeley and Nathaniel Foote, Wethersfield is arguably the oldest town in Connecticut, depending on one's interpretation of when a remote settlement qualifies as a "town". Along with Windsor and Hartford, Wethersfield is represented by one of the three grapevines on the Flag of Connecticut, signifying the state's three oldest European settlements. The town took its name from Wethersfield, a village in the English county of Essex.
During the Pequot War, on April 23, 1637, Wongunk chief Sequin attacked Wethersfield with Pequot help. They killed six men and three women, a number of cattle and horses, and took two young girls captive. They were daughters of Abraham Swain or William Swaine (sources vary) and were later ransomed by Dutch traders.
Four witch trials and three executions for witchcraft occurred in the town in the 17th century. Mary Johnson was convicted of witchcraft and executed in 1648, Joan and John Carrington in 1651. Landowner Katherine Harrison was convicted, and although her conviction was reversed, she was banished and her property seized by her neighbors.
Silas Deane, commissioner to France during the American Revolutionary War, lived in the town. His house is now part of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum. In May 1781, at the Webb House on Main Street, General George Washington and French Lt. Gen. Rochambeau planned the Siege of Yorktown, which culminated in the independence of the then rebellious colonies.
The Wethersfield Volunteer Fire Department was chartered by the Connecticut Legislature on May 12, 1803, making it the first formally chartered fire department in Connecticut, and is one of the oldest chartered volunteer fire department in continuous existence in the United States.
Wethersfield was "for a century at least, the centre of the onion trade in New England", during the late 1700s and early to middle 1800s. "Outsiders dubbed the Connecticut village 'Oniontown,' with a crosshatch of affection and derision, for this was home of the world-famous Wethersfield red onion."
In addition, the town was home to William G. Comstock, a well-known 19th century gardening expert and author of the era's most prominent gardening book, Order of Spring Work. In 1820, Comstock founded what would become Comstock, Ferre & Company, currently America's oldest continuously operating seed company, pioneering the commercial sale of sealed packets of seeds as he had learned from the Amish. Other nationally prominent seed companies in and around the town are the offspring of this agricultural past.
A meteorite fell on Wethersfield on November 8, 1982. It was the second meteorite to fall in the town in the span of 11 years, and crashed through the roof of a house without injuring the occupants, as the first Wethersfield meteorite had also done. The 1971 meteorite was sold to the Smithsonian, and the 1982 meteorite was taken up as part of a collection at the Yale Peabody Museum.