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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


One of the United States, so called from its principal river, lies between 41° and 42° north latitude, and 71°20' and 73°15' west longitude from Greenwich, and is bounded north by Massachusetts; east by Rhode Island; south by Long Island sound; and west by New York, containing 4,674 square miles

Physical aspect-- The surface is uneven, and greatly diversified by hills and valleys.  The soil is generally fertile, particularly so in Fairfield county, and the alluvial meadows in the valley of the Connecticut are uncommonly fine, and well adapted for tillage; but a large portion of the state is better suited to the purposes of grazing.

Mountains--Strictly speaking, there are three mountains ranges in this state; one running a few miles east of the Connecticut as far south as Chatham, where it is cut off by that river, and reappears again on the western side, and terminates at East Haven.  Another range, which extends from Mount Tom, in Massachusetts, runs through the whole state, on the westerly side of the Connecticut, and terminates at New Haven, in a similar bluff called West Rock.  The Blue Hills, in Southington, belonging to this range, are the most elevated land in the state, being at least 1,000 feet in height.  At the westward of Hartford is Talcott mountains, belonging also to this range.

Rivers, Bays, Harbors, &c--The principal rivers are, the Connecticut, Housatonic, Thames, Farmington, Naugatuck, and the Quinnebaug.  The shores of Connecticut are Penetrated by numerous bays and creeks, which afford many safe harbors for small vessels.  The three best harbors in the state are those of New London, Bridgeport and New Haven.

Climate--The climate is generally healthy, through subject to sudden changes of temperature, and extreme degrees of heat and cold.  In winter, the northwest winds are piercing and keen, while those which blow from the south are more mild.  Near the coast the weather is particularly variable, usually changing wit the wind, as it blows from the land or the sea.  In the western and northerly parts of the state, the temperature is more uniform and mild.

Production Resources--Among the staple products may be enumerated, horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, eggs, fish, beef, pork, milk, butter, cheese, silk, wool, tobacco, hemp, flax, hay, straw, wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, Indian corn, potatoes, garden vegetables, fruits, cider and wine. Iron ore, of superior quality, is found in Salisbury and Kent, that of the former being particularity adapted for the manufacture of wire.  At Stafford, a bog iron ore is found, from which excellent casting and hollow ware are made.  Lead and copper mines exist in different parts of the state, but in general they have not been worked to much extent.  A lead mine, near Middletown, was wrought with some success during the revolutionary war.  At Simsbury there is also a mine of cooper.  In Chatham and Haddam, a reddish-brown freestone is quarried, which is easily wrought, and is highly esteemed in modern architecture, wherever it can economically be obtained.  Fine variegated marble is found at Milford, resembling verd-antique.

Manufactures-- A Large proportion of the people of Connecticut are engaged in manufactures, more particularly those of cotton and woolens; also iron, hats, paper, leather, tin ware, buttons, cutlery, carriages, ship building &c.

Railroads and Canals-- Connecticut has over 600 miles of railroad in operation, and others projected, which will undoubtedly be carried through at an early day.  The only canals in the state now in operation are those which have been constructed to facilitate navigation on the Connecticut river.

Commerce-- The Commerce of Connecticut is mostly with the southern states and the West Indies.  The imports and exports of 1850 amounted to $614,320 one half of which entered and cleared at New Haven, and one fourth at New London.  The shipping owned within the state amounts to about 120,000 tons.  The foreign commerce of Connecticut has deceased, owing to the facilities afforded by the railroad communications for shipping at New York and Boston.

Education-- There are three colleges in Connecticut; Yale college at New Haven, one of the most flourishing in the Union; Trinity college at Hartford; and the Wesleyan university at Middletown.  There are in the state 150 academies, and over 2000 common schools.  Connecticut has a large school fund, amounting to about $2,000,000.  The asylum for the deaf and dumb at Hartford is the oldest and most respectable institution of the kind in the United States.

Populations-- In 1790 was 237,946; in 1800 was 251,002; in 1810 was 261,942; in 1820 was 275,248; in 1830 was 297,711; in 1840 was 310,015 and in 1850 was 370,791.  Number of slaves in 1790 was 2,759; in 1800 was 951, in 1810 was 310; in 1820 was 97 and in 1830 was 25 who were not emancipated on account of advanced age or infirmities.

History-- Connecticut comprises a part of the territory of the Plymouth colony, and was granted to the earl of Warwick, in 1630, extending westward from the Atlantic to the "South Sea".  The first permanent settlement was made in 1633, by English emigrates from Massachusetts Bay, who located at Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield.  In 1635, another puritan colony was also established at the mouth of the Connecticut, called the "Saybrook" in honor of Lords Say and Brook, to whom in 1631, the earl of Warwick had conveyed his title.  In 1638, a third puritan colony was formed at New Haven and remained in force until 1665.  In 1639, the inhabitants of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield formed a separate government for themselves, as one public state, or commonwealth, to which the Saybrook colony was annexed, by purchase, in 1644, and with which the New Haven colony united, under the royal charter, in 1665.  In 1662, the royal charter of Connecticut was granted by Charles II, embracing the territory extending westward from Narraganset bay to the Pacific, embracing within its limits the New Haven colony and most of the present state of Rhode Island.  In 1687, Sir Edmund Andros came to Hartford with a body of troops, and by royal authority, as governor general of all New England, demanded a surrender of this charter, and a dissolution of the existing government.  The Connecticut assembly being in session at the time, were not disposed to make the surrender, and while the subject was under discussion, the lights were extinguished, and the charter secretly conveyed away, and concealed in the cavity of a hollow oak tree, which is still standing and bears the name of the "Charter Oak".  This charter formed the basic government until 1818, when the present constitution was adopted.  Within this charter was embraced the "Connecticut Western Reserve", consisting of about 3,300,00 acres of land in the northeast part of Ohio, which as a compromise, was ceded to the United States in 1796.  It was sold to the Connecticut Land Company, for $1,200,00 and was the foundation of the state school fund.  The Constitution of the United States was adopted in 1788.  The motto of the state seal is, Qui transtulit susinet "He who brought us hither still preserves."

Government-- The government is vested in a governor, lieutenant governor, senate, and house of representatives, all chosen annual by the people, on the first Monday in April.  The senate consists of not less than 18, nor more than 24 members.  The sessions for the legislature are held annually, alternately, at Hartford and New Haven.  The judicial power is vested in a supreme court of errors, Superior court, and such inferior courts as the legislature may establish.  Judges are chosen by the legislature, and hold office during good behavior, or till seventy years of age.  The right of suffrage is enjoyed by every white male citizen of the United States, who has resided in the town six months immediately preceding, and has a freehold of the yearly value of seven dollars, or shall have preformed, or been excused from military duty, or shall have paid a state tax, one year next preceding the election, and who is of good moral character.

1850 Counties of Connecticut


County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Fairfield southwest corner, Long Island sound on the south 630 Fairfield & Danbury 59,775
Hartford northern boundary, crossed by Connecticut & Farmington rivers 727 Hartford 69,966
Litchfield northwest corner 885 Litchfield 42,253
Middlesex southern boundary, Long Island sound on south, crossed by Connecticut river 342 Middletown 27,216
New Haven southern part on Long Island sound 540 New Haven 65,580
New London southeast corner, crossed by Thamas river, Connecticut river on west 600 Norwich & New London 51,822
Tolland on north boundary 337 Tolland 20,091
Windham northeast corner 620 Brooklyn 31,079

Bridgeport City, CT

Bridgeport City in Fairfield Co and watered by Pequinock river and Long Island sound.  The city is built on a plain, which, as it retreats from the water, rises into an elevation that affords a fine prospect of the surrounding country, and thence spreads away into undulations and hills.  It is well laid out with handsome houses.  In the last few years especially, a large number of substantial brick stores and dwellings have added much to the appearance and wealth of the place.  The Housatonic railroad, traversing the valley of the Housatonic river, meets the West Stockbridge railroad in Massachusetts, which is the connecting link between Albany and Boston,  Several vessels sail from this port, and it would probably carry on a more extensive foreign commerce, if the harbor was not obstructed by a sand-bar, 13 feet below high-water mark.  A bridge 1,125 feet long extends across the harbor, admitting vessels through a draw. 

The population in 1810 was 572; 1820 blank; in 1830 was 2,803;  in 1840 was 4,570; 1850 was 7,560

Hartford, CT

Seat of justice of Hartford Co and state capital, together with New Haven, of Connecticut, is situated on Connecticut river, at the head of sloop navigation.  45 miles from it entrance into Long Island sound, 100 miles, southwest of Boston, and 123 miles northeast of New York.  The city is built on the west bank of the river, which rises suddenly into an elevation, and stretches away into an undulating and diversified country.  Seated in the centre of the state, and in its richest region, and communicating with the whole valley of the Connecticut, from Vermont to the sound, it enjoys an extensive and valuable trade in all the manufactures and productions peculiar to New England.  The plan of the city is not very regular, but many of its buildings are elegant and beautiful for situation.  On a public square stands the state house, a fine structure of the Doric order, 116 feet long, 75 wide and 54 high.  Trinity college, an Episcopal institution, has a fine location near the city.  The city hall is the Doric and he Athenaeum of the Gothic architecture, are conspicuous edifices.  But the buildings most honorable to Hartford, are the American Asylum for the education of the Deaf and Dumb, and the Retreat of the Insane.  Both of these institutions are widely known, and include persons from all parts of the country.  The former is situated on Tower Hill, about a mile west of the city, and receives a revenue from grants made by the general government and from other sources.  The buildings of the Insane Asylum are located toward the southwest of the city, upon an eminence, in the midst of picturesque and delightful scenery, well suited to minister to the injured mind that peace and quietude which nature can best impart.

A beautiful freestone bridge spans Mill river, which winds through the city into the Connecticut, by a single arch of 100 feet, and a substantial and costly bridge connects the town with East Hartford.  Perhaps the object of most universal interest in the vicinity of Hartford, is the Charter Oak, which still flourishes as in its pristine verdure, through age has robbed it of some of its limbs.  It stands on a beautiful elevation south of the city.  The New Haven and Hartford, the Hartford and Springfield, and the Connecticut river railroads, traverse the best part of Massachusetts and Connecticut and sloops and steamboats ply upon the river and Long Island sound.

Population: in 1810 was 3,955; in 1820 was 4,726; in 1830 was 7,074; in 1840 was 12,793 and in 1850 was 17,966

New Haven, CT

City, seat of justice of New Haven Co and capital, together with Hartford, of Connecticut, situated on a bay of Long Island sound, which is here about 20 miles broad.  It is 76 miles northeast of New York and 300 miles from Washington.  The city is built on a plain, or gentle slope, at the foot of two bold spurs from the Green Mountain range, which here terminate in two abrupt cliffs, called "East Rock" and West Rock," rising like sentinels on either side.  From the top of these, the eye beholds a wide and enchanting prospect.  Below the feet, New Haven lies in quiet beauty, with its white mansions and steeples embowered amid clusters of rich foliage.  Far around stretch hills, slopes and valleys, rich with colors of nature and cultivation; away to the south and east, like an ocean, spreads the sound, sprinkled here and there by a mote-like sail, and dimly bounded by the cloud-like shores of Long Island.  New Haven is on of the most beautiful cities.  Its streets are broad and regular; tasteful, chaste and splendid buildings are surrounded by pleasant gardens, parks and trees.  Many of these are elms, stately and venerable, planted by the fathers of the town and cherished, with commendable pride and care, by their descendents.    This profusion of foliage and freedom from contracted and uncleanly streets, combine for New Haven the advantages of the city and the country.  The "Green" is a pleasant spot of ground, shaded by rows of lofty elms; in the centre stand the three oldest churches in the city.  Toward the west is the statehouse, a large and imposing structure; still further to the west, are the buildings of Yale College, one of the oldest, most flourishing, and respectable institutions of America.  Hillhouse avenue, bordered by sides of undulating green, from which spring rows of stately trees, runs between splendid mansions and gardens, that rival Italian villas in loveliness.  Northwest of the city, is the cemetery, beautifully laid out, and adorned with an imposing entrance in Egyptian architecture.

The harbor is spacious, but so shallow that large vessels are obliges to anchor at Long wharf, which from time to time has been extended to a length of 3,943 feet.  New Haven prosecutes an extensive coasting trade with New York and the towns along the sound.  Several ships from foreign shores also make this city their port.  The New York and New Haven railroad has largely increased the communication between the two cities, and the New Haven and Hartford railroad joins the lines at Springfield, which traverse the valley of Connecticut river, and other parts of Massachusetts.

Population in 1810 was 5,772; in 1820 was 7,147; in 1830 was 10,180; in 1840 was 14,890 and in 1850 was 20,345.

New London, CT

City, seat of justice, together with Norwich, on New London Co, CT.  44 miles southeast of Hartford, 353 miles from Washington. Occupies a gentle elevation facing the southeast, on the west bank of the Thames river, three miles from its entrance into Long Island sound.  The ground on which it stands is rocky and rough, and seems to have discouraged the builders from attempting to construct it with regularity.  The houses erected within a few years, however, are superior to the rest, and the appearance of the town is much improved.

New London harbor is deep and convenient, although its entrance is narrow and might be easily blockaded, if it were not defended by two fortifications.  Fort Griswold, in Groton, opposite the city, and Fort Trumbull, one mile below, shared severely the struggles of the Revolution, and the former, especially, was the scene of bloody barbarities under Benedict Arnold, who in 1781, entered the harbor, took Fort Griswold and burned the town.  An obelisk of granite, 125 feet high, preserves the memory of the patriots who here suffered and died.

The business of the city is chiefly whale fishing and commerce; its tonnage is larger than that of any other town in the state.  The Worcester and Norwich railroad unites with the Thames at Allyn's Point, a few miles above.

Population: in 1810 was 3,238; in 1820 was 3,330; in 1830 was 4,356; in 1840 was 5,519 and in 1850 was 8,994

Norwich, CT

City and town, seat of justice, together with New London, of New London Co, CT, 39 miles south east of Hartford; from Washington 357 miles.  Situated at the head of navigation of Thames river, at the junction of the Shetucket and Yantic rivers, 14 miles from Long Island sound.  The main part of the city is situated on a steep acclivity, the houses being built in tiers rising one above another, present a beautiful appearance when approached from the south.  Here are extensive manufactories of cotton and woolen goods, paper, hardware, pottery &c.  This location was the scene of severe contests between the Mohegan and Narragansett Indians.  It was the stronghold of the latter, and here the burial place of their kings is still seen.  Near the city there are several picturesque falls or cataracts, and from a high rock which overhangs these waterfalls, the Mohegan Indians plunged and perished, rather than fall into the hands of the Narragansett, who were pursuing them.

The population in 1840 was 7,239 and in 1850 was 10,265.

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