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Connecticut

Tercentenary

by Jane Peterson Bouley

 

 

            Connecticut was ready to celebrate the 300th Anniversary of its founding in 1935, World War I was now a memory and the nation was recovering from the Great Depression. Throughout the year activities were planned at the state level and every town held its own events in celebration. In Branford a committee of over 50 people planned a variety of events for the two week period from July 17th until Aug.4th.

            A seedling from the famous Hartford Charter Oak was planted at the southwest corner of Center Cemetery on July 17, 1935 in a brief ceremony featuring the Stony Creek Fife and Drum Corp. It is not clear whether that seedling survived and is still growing today. Following the ceremony South Main Street was closed off and folk dancing was held with refreshments and fortune telling booths.

            Several exhibits were open during the two week period and admission was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. The Academy was set up as an old school room and children could see what school was like during the colonial period. In the Community House at the corner of South Main and Montowese Street was “Story Village” depicting how Branford might have looked in the early 18th century. A footpath was lined with the wildflowers that were abundant in years past. Stationary figures were posed at work in various occupations of by-gone days. A hunter’s cabin, colonial kitchen, and tavern entrance with a large stage coach in front were also featured. No New England town is complete without its town “character” and a life size figure of the old Leatherman was depicted in the village. AN antique and portrait exhibit was ongoing at the Armory.

            The highlight of the Branford celebration was the “Parade of Age Through Branford Town,” a grand pageant that took place at Hammer Field on Aug.3. The elaborate and ambitious play, written and directed by Miss A. Lauretta Plumley of Northford, was presented to an audience of 2,000 people. The acts depicted the founding of Totoket from its purchase from the Indians to the founding of the church and early settlement. A huge cast participated making all the costumes and scenery. Several scenes included a horse drawn stage coach and oxen drawn wagon. The presentation was voted the best pageant in the state.

            A colonial service complete with costumes and tithing men was held at the Congregational Church on Aug.4 and other churches included historical addresses in their services. One of the greatest contributions of the year was the publication of Old Branford by John C. Carr and his committee consisting of Laura Wilford Ayer, Iva Bishop Baxter, Mable L. Foote, William Russell and Wilson E. Thompson with maps by Bradley F. Prann. It briefly explains Branford’s founding, the church, Newark migration, early life, schools, and shipping. Again available in a second printing, it remains one of the few published works on Branford history.

 

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