In 1720, exactly one hundred years after the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, the Connecticut General Court in Hartford granted the town of Bolton's petition to incorporate. At the time there were 50 proprietors recognized and they were charged with dividing the land and improving the town.
This year Bolton is celebrating their 300th Anniversary with events throughout the year culminating in a weekend of parades and reenactments on October 3 & 4.
Why should Vernon care?
In 1720 the piece of land we now call Vernon was part of Bolton and for the next 88 years we would remain one town. It would be 40 years before we had enough residents to become the North Bolton Parish, with our own minister; and another 48 years as a parish before the State of Connecticut allowed us to incorporate as Vernon in 1808.
During those 88 years North Bolton was slowly divided and settled. We played an important role in the Revolutionary War as we were on a major road connecting Boston and Providence to Hartford. The United States was created, North Bolton's population grew, we added territory and the first cotton mills appeared on the Tankerhoosen River.
All this happened before 1808 and we often ignore events that happened here before that year. And the citizens of Bolton today forget we were once an important part of their town. Historians refer to these divisions as mother/daughter relationships. Our mother town of Bolton nurtured us until we were ready to go off on our own as a daughter town. After that we mostly ignored each other. This year, 2020, is an opportunity renew and honor our relationship and shared history.
Why study our history?
The following paragraphs are from an editorial in the magazine >CT Explored, 'The Vitamins of a Healthy Connecticut' by JEFFREY F. L. PARTRIDGE, chairman of humanities at Capital Community College.
"We are inspired by history. Everything we have and know derives from the past. Be it family genealogy, scientific knowledge, or civil rights, historical subjects inspire and instruct us. We abandon history at our peril."
"We need a sense of place. Place is essential to a healthy selfhood and effective citizenship. A properly functioning democracy depends upon citizens committed to neighborhood, town, city, nation. The humanities are especially suited to developing a sense of place.
"The humanities and the arts develop committed, informed, engaged citizens."
Whether you are a life long resident of Vernon, consider yourself a resident of Rockville first, or live in an apartment and expect to move on in a year or so, learning about those who came before us gives us a sense of connection. At this time in our history we often live away from the families we grew up in and often feel disconnected. Connecting to the land where you live and its history are healthy for your soul and your psyche. If you adopt this habit you can use it to connect to community wherever you live for however long you are there.
What to expect in 2020
The Bolton 300th Anniversary Committee, chaired by PAM SAWYER, has been meeting and planning for the past year and a half. I joined the committee as the 18th Century Representative from North Bolton, not as a representative for the Town of Vernon. As a researcher of the Tankerhoosen Valley I enjoy exploring early 18th Century families, how they lived, and what they accomplished. That meant learning about Bolton's history as well as spending hours in the Bolton Town Clerk's files.
My goal for 2020 is to focus on those first 88 years of shared history through writing, talks and this website with the hope that it will inspire you and increase your sense of place as well as bringing our two towns closer together - a reunion of mother and daughter.
What is Bolton doing to celebrate their 300th Anniversary?
The Bolton 300th Anniversary Committee has established a webpage and Calender of Events with activities scheduled for almost every month of the year. Events are still being added, but you can access the Calendar here. I hope some events will be of interest and I'll promote them in Tankerhoosen newsletters and on our MeetUp.
I've also looked for opportunities to involve Vernon organizations and at this time the Vernon Historical Society, Strong Family Farm and the New England Civil War Museum, as well as the First Congregational Church may play some role. In addition our fire and police departments will likely take part in the October parade.
And the first event was ...
On January 1, New Year's Day, the Bolton Land Trust held a walk through their new property, the Bobcat Wood Community Forest, led by their president GWEN MARRION. Over 50 people took part on a beautiful crisp day.
In Vernon we often join hikes led by the Northern CT Land Trust or the Manchester Land Conservation Trust without realizing another of our neighbors has 10 properties with about 250 acres, 300 members and regular hikes.
For hikers we've learned something useful already from Bolton's 300th Celebration. Much more to come.
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