EARLY HISTORY

On July 18, 1640, Daniel Patrick and Robert Feake, along with Feake's wife Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake, in the name of New Haven Colony, bought all the land between the Asamuck and Potommuck brooks, in the area now known as Old Greenwich, from Native Americans living in the area for "twentie-five coates."

The Dutch, based in New Amsterdam, claimed the area and, fearful of not being protected by New Haven Colony, the early settlers in 1642 agreed to become part of the colony of New Netherland. This made Greenwich a "manor" and Captain Patrick and Feake the "patroons of the manor." (Patrick had married Annetje Van Beyeren of New Amsterdam.) Until 1650 Greenwich officially remained a part of the Dutch colony.

In 1650, the English and Dutch colonies agreed to boundary lines which put Greenwich back under the control of the New Haven Colony. Greenwichites continued to live as they had previously, which drew complaints from some Puritans who said (in a 1656 complaint to colony officials) that the residents "live in a disorderly and riotous manner, sell intoxicating liquors to the Indians, receive and harbor servants who have fled their masters, and join persons unlawfully in marriage." That year, Greenwich was told to become a part of Stamford. It wasn't until May 11, 1665, that the General Assembly in Hartford declared Greenwich a separate township.

In 1672, the "27 Proprietors" purchased land west of the "Myanos River" from the remaining Indians. This tract was called "Horseneck" because of the neck of land (now known as Tod's Point, the actual personal property of Elizabeth Feake) was a common horse pasture. Official title to the land didn't actually come until 1686.[1] Even after Greenwich became a town, the area was known as "Horseneck" at least as late as about 1800, with several travelers through town using the name.

The main route from Boston to New York, called "The Country Road," in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, went through Greenwich (later becoming U.S. Route 1), but it was a very rocky, hilly — even precipitous — route until improvements were made in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. Many travelers recorded their experiences in diaries or books.

A Scottish physician, Alexander Hamilton (no relation to the more famous founding father), journeyed from Maryland to Maine in 1744, arriving in Norwalk on August 29. That day, the traveler wrote (with his spelling), he "rid 10 miles of stonny road, crossing several brooks and rivulets that run into the Sound, till I came to Stamford. A littel before I reached this town, from the top of a stonny hill, I had a large open view or prospect of the country westward. The greatest part of it seemed as if it were covered with a white crust of stone, for the country here is exceeding rocky, and the roads very rough, rather worse than Stonnington."

On the return trip, Hamilton experienced the relief many travelers wrote about when he got over the New York border onto better roads: "'Farewell, Connecticut,' said I, as I passed along the bridge. 'I have had a surfeit of your ragged money, rough roads and enthusiastick people.'"

By the late eighteenth century, plans were underway to improve the road between Fairfield and the New York border, "for even travelers from overseas were learning to avoid this part of the road by taking the boat between New Haven and New York."

SOUND BEACH, A RESORT TOWN

In the late 19th century and eary 20th century, the town had a resort industry with more than a dozen inns, including Ye Old Greenwich Inn, The Castle and The Crossways Inn in Old Greenwich.


RECENT HISTORY

shutterstock_20331601.jpg

More recently, Greenwich Point (locally termed "Tod's Point"), which is on a peninsula and includes picnic areas, a beach and small marina, was open only to town residents and their guests. However, a lawyer, Lawrence Otis Graham, sued, saying his rights to freedom of assembly were threatened because he was not allowed to go there. The lower courts disagreed, but the Supreme Court of Connecticut agreed, and Greenwich was forced to amend its beach access policy to all four beaches. The man was billed $120 for the visits he had made to the park before the policy was changed. However, he refused to pay, setting off another debate in the town as to whether it was right to charge him. Finally, an anonymous donor left $120 in cash in an envelope at Town Hall to cover the expense.