One cannot consider the history of the Town of Trumbull without also understanding the history of the parent town of Stratford. "Cupheag" had been founded in 1639, and had propspered. For the most part, the settlers were farmers. With increasing pressures of a growing population, the settlers sought new farm land. They would eventually head to areas called Nichols, Trumbull, Long Hill, Monrow, and Huntington.
After petitioning Colonial leaders for several years, settlers were granted rights to establish their own parish north of Stratford and would name the town after the Colonial Governor - Jonathan Trumbull. On November 20, 1797, the first official town meeting was held.
Trumbull was once part of an area known as Pequonnocke or Cubheag and is now known as Stratford, which also gave birth to Monroe, Shelton and part of Bridgeport. Stratford retained its original bounds from 1639 to 1789 when territory was taken from it for the town of Huntington (Shelton). Land was surveyed and laid out to individuals about 1670, but it was not until about 1690 that Abraham Nichols and his family ventured into this wilderness and established themselves a home. The "Farm Highway" (Nichols Avenue) was laid out in 1696 and at that time the records imply that the ground had been under cultivation but that the place was deserted.
Passage of time brought new families into this far-off area, and for their convenience, mills were needed. A grant for a sawmill was given to James and Edmund Lewis and Ebenezer Curtis in 1702 and 1704. John Williams and John Seeley were permitted the use of a gristmill on the Pequonnock River. Other brave and venturesome families began to migrate here from their homeland and, in 1725, the northwest farmers of Stratford petitioned the General Court for "village privileges". Their plea was granted and the village was to be called Unity. By this act, the village remained a part of Stratford but the residents could erect and maintain a meetinghouse, "settle" and support a minister, and build and maintain a school. To enable them to do this they were obliged to levy a tax for the support of the village. While the establishment of a church was paramount to all else in the parish, it was 1730 before a church was gathered. The first church was erected near the intersection of Unity and White Plains Road. It was a small group of about 30 families that attempted the support of the church.
Families from the Stratfield section of Fairfield began to settle in the western section and they also desired their liberty and were established as the society of Long Hill. They too had a struggle for existence. The two villages petitioned the General Assembly "to annex the Long Hill parish with Unity". In 1744 the parishes united and became the Society of North Stratford.
The North Stratford Society functioned in the same way as had that of Unity. After proving that they could manage their own religious and educational interests, they began petitioning for complete independence. For ten years their efforts were repeatedly blocked by the mother settlement. Finally, in 1797 the General Assembly granted their request, established town bounds, and declared that forever this shall be a distinct town to be known and called by the name of "Trumbull". The act also specified that the first town meeting should be held on November 20, 1797 and that Jabez H. Tomlinson should serve as moderator.
The town meeting and election was held in accordance with the act of the General Assembly, and a new town was born. When the newly elected selectmen attempted to establish the dividing line between the new and old town as set out by the Special Act, it was discovered that the lines could not run between the first society and the Parish of North Stratford without intersecting established property bounds in both towns. A new line was agreed upon and the new town began to operate independently of the parent settlement.
Like other towns, it became part of the complex unit of the State of Connecticut. Each town derived its existence from legislature, all being granted certain powers and privileges. Though the General Assembly controlled their governmental operations, general and special acts have gradually changed the original stereotype form of government. All local questions were decided at open town meetings. Originally just a notice to in strategic parts of the town, was the only notice required. It was the responsibility of the voter to be at the meeting and find out what items of business were to be presented. In fact, if he failed to be present, a fine was imposed. This idea gave way to the realization that it was unduly burdensome to require people to attend meetings on matters they didn't care about. Later it was provided that no item could be taken up unless it appeared on the call.
When the population of the town exceeded the accommodations to carry on an orderly town meeting as its legislative body, a Special Act granting percentage representation, or the Representative Town Meeting, was adopted. With continued growth of the town, the number of persons to be represented by one legislator increased. In 1957 a permissive act known as the Home Rule Act was passed authorizing towns to draft and adopt their own charter and method of self-government. Our present legislative body, called a Council, consists of 21 members elected by the 7 voting districts as provided by a revised charter adopted November 2, 1976. The total number of members will remain constant, but the ration between the Council member and the number of persons he/she represents will vary with the number of persons in the voting district.
The administrators have attempted to keep pace with the rapid development of the town. Whatever the future holds is unpredictable, but we have the machinery to mold whatever plan will work best for the Town of Trumbull.
Trumbull, Connecticut, was a small community with a lush landscape spotted with farms and light industries before the era of World War II. After the war, many soldiers returned to the states and came to Trumbull looking for homes. The explosion of Trumbull's economic market caused much of the farmland to become housing developments to accomodate the veterans and their families.
This volume of nearly two hundred images looks back at Trumbull during the quieter era between 1890 and 1940, before the town was flooded with the mad rush of people and businesses. These fifty years detail a history marked by teh prosperous times of the early twentieth century, the pain and anguish of World War I, and the gloomy grip of the Depression. Small-town life comes alive in the faces and places of Trumbull, and these photographs and their stories take a reader back into a time that seems so much simpler than today's hustle and bustle.
The Trumbull Historical Society, a group established in 1964, has compiled a rich collection of images that celebrates and remembers a bygone Trumbull, a Trumbull that will appeal to the imaginations of both the local citizens and its visitors.
Trumbull: Church and Town
E. Merrill Beach
The Trumbull Historical Society, Inc.
A History of the Colonial Town of Trumbull and of its Church which was The Church of Christ in Unity
The Church of Christ in North Stratford and is now
The Church of Christ in Trumbull 1730-1955