100 Objects: Bankside Farmers 1648-1711

Back in 2018, Westport Museum (then Westport Historical Society) did a year-long exhibit called “History of Westport in 100 Objects” in which we shared the nearly four hundred year history of the town using different objects. We are bringing back that always-popular exhibit here–virtually. Check back each week for a new post and photos of items that tell our collective story. Have a suggestion for an object to include? Email us a photo and description at virtualmuseum@westporthistory.org and we’ll consider including it on our facebook page. When Connecticut was a British colony, the area east of the Saugatuck River to the border of Fairfield and west of the Mill River was known as Green’s Farms. Thomas Newton, John Green and Henry Gray were given a land grant to settle the area in 1648 with Daniel Frost and Francis Andrews joining them within a few years. The group later became known as the Bankside Farmers. In subsequent generations, others like Joshua Jennings possessed landholdings encompassing a large parcel of Green’s Farms.  Settlers cultivated the rich soil of Greens Farms initially for their own subsistence and later for commercial profit. Positioned on the Long Island Sound, Green’s Farms was also a seafaring community which tapped into the export trade. Flax was grown for linen, and corn–also known by the Native name maize–was grown for the settlers’ families, their cattle, and for export to the Caribbean where it was used to feed enslaved people.  Food was also harvested from the sea and fish, clams, and oysters were part of the bounty. Fish and lobsters were so plentiful they were also used for fertilizer. 

100 Objects: A Town Born from Battle

Back in 2018, Westport Museum (then Westport Historical Society) did a year-long exhibit called “History of Westport in 100 Objects” in which we shared the nearly four hundred year history of the town using different objects. We are bringing back that always-popular exhibit here–virtually. Check back each week for a new post and photos of items that tell our collective story. Have a suggestion for an object to include? Email us a photo and description at virtualmuseum@westporthistory.org and we’ll consider including it on our facebook page. There was no “Westport” in the 1630s. Instead, using the Saugatuck River as the boundary, the town was divided between Fairfield and Norwalk. On the Fairfield side, many farmers settled along the Long Island Sound–amidst the original settlements of the Paugusset Natives who were “cousins” and allies of the larger, more powerful Pequot tribe. By 1637, there was all out “war” between the two groups. Originating in Massachusetts, Europeans hounded the Pequots all the way to the swampy area between what is now Southport and Greens Farms. The massacre that ensued was called the Great Swamp Fight and effectively ended the war and the Native presence in this part of the colony. The Native People who survived were either absorbed by other tribes or sold into slavery. Over the years, their presence has been erased except for the now familiar place names they left behind like Saugatuck and Aspetuck.