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The Place Where It All Began- Wequetequock

A History of Wequetequock

 

Just before 1649, there was no Stonington, Conn. There wasn't even a Westerly, R.I. Really, there was nothing but empty fields and wooded areas in what was soon to become our town.

It wasn't until 1649, when William Cheseborough established a trading post near the present day intersection of Greenhaven, and Stonington Roads. This is also at the head of the tidal Cove at Wequetequock.

Most people don't even realize Wequetequock was where it all started. No, it wasn't the Borough, Mystic, or Pawcatuck. Our town started in what is now knows as Wequetequock.

Most people don't even realize the facinating history of the place where our town started. Hopefully, this will give Wequetequock some justice!

Our story begins on the Stonington Road, across from what is today Buzzi Memorials. Out towards the cove, sits the grand Wequetequock Casino. The Wequetequock Casino was built-in 1906 to by the Groton and Stonington Street Railway to promote their newly established trolley line, that Passed through Wequetequock. The casino was used by local people for years for dances, parties, cookouts, and many other recreational activities. The casino property consisted on the main building, walking paths, and even a carousel! It really was a great place for the community to congregate until Stonington Junior Prom 1940, when the thirty-six year old building burned to the ground. Unfortunately, this important, yet mostly unheard of place was never rebuilt.

As we continue traveling up the Stonington Road, towards Pawcatuck, we pass the cove which most of the village is situated near. We see at the head of the cove the "breakwater" which allowed the trolley cars to pass over the stream and continue on their way through the Wequetequock Woods.

Back on the Stonington Road, we pass one of, if not the oldest house in Stonington, built-in the mid to late 1600's. It is also known as the "Harry Hinkley" house.

Next, as we pass the house and intersection of Greenhaven and Stonington Roads, we come to the knoll on the west side of the road where the Wequetequock Chapel and schoolhouse stood. The chapel was built during the Civil War era for around $200.00. The Wequetequock Chapel was not only a missionary church to Calvery Church in Stonington, but served as a place to hold community events. The chapel was destroyed in the Great Hurricane of 1938 and was never rebuilt. The chapel's bell now sits in the bell tower at the Wequetequock Fire house.

On the same lot as the chapel stood the simple schoolhouse. This schoolhouse was built-in the 1820's. The school didn't really have the best academic record. According to the 1872-'73 annual report that the Stonington Board of School Visitors wrote states" District 10-Wequetequoc-Mr. F. J. Eccleston taught the winter term, and Ms. Brayton, the summer. The winter term was not a success; wanting in push, snap, and invention-simply a dull routine of school exercise. The summer routine was decided an improvement in the winter." Once the school closed, it was used as a community center. The schoolhouse burned down in the early 1970's. It was never rebuilt.

As one can see, Wequetequock was quite the village in its day, it even had its own Grist Mill on the Weuqetequock Pond. Even though Wequetequock has changed dramatically in the past four hundred years, it still shouldn't just pass through when driving down Route 1. Hopefully, after reading this brief history of where out town started, you can get an idea of what once was. After all, you can't talk about any part of Stonington's history without mentioning Wequetequock. That just isn't fair!

A special thank you to "The Stonington Chronology" written by William Haynes

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

James P. Higgins July 30, 2012 at 06:32 AM
Nice work, Connor! Very interesting, especially about the trolley, and the Casino! (But what are you doing posting this at 4:30 AM on the Fourth of July?!)
Connor B July 30, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Thank you! I posted it the night before, and the editor posted it at 4:40 AM.
Chris DeWick July 31, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Very interesting about Wequetequock. But next time, perhaps you might like to write about Thomas Stanton...who actually started the Trading Post. "In February 1649, the General Court of Connecticut granted Thomas Stanton the liberty to erect a trading post at Pawcatuck Rock, with six acres of planting ground and exclusive rights to trade on the Pawcatuck River for the following three years. The rock had steep sides so that canoes and sailboats could easily pull up and unload their furs in exchange for beads, metal tools, nails, cloth, and suchlike." You can check it out in the site that I have included, or any of the Davis Farm sites. http://www.stoningtonhistory.org/archiv4.htm
Elizabeth Barratt July 31, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Thanks for this, William Chesebrough was my nine times great-grandfather! Elizabeth Barratt, Carmel Valley, CA
Connor B August 04, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Actually, William Chesebrough started a different trading post at Wequetequock, there is a sign near the intersections of Greenhaven and Stonington Rds. to prove that. When you say that Stanton started a trading post at Pawcatuck Rock, you are totally correct, as that is pretty well known. Pawcatuck Rock is certainly a beautiful spot on the river!

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