Feb 8, 2012
12:49 PMDiscover Connecticut
Connecticut from A to Woodstock: Ashford
The next stop on our tour takes us to Quiet Corner.
I don't regularly get to the Northeastern Connecticut and Windham County, and have only driven through Ashford a handful of times (other than on I-84), so I'm not real familiar with the town other than knowing it's home to The Hole in the Wall Camp.
Where is it? Ashford is about 35 miles northeast of Hartford, two thirds of the way between the Capitol and the most northeastern tip of the state.
What's it like? Rural, like most of the Quiet Corner (the area's nickname isn't meant to be ironic!). The town's 4,300 residents are spread across almost 40 square miles in mostly single-family residences with the occasional farm; there is very little to no commercial enterprises here, which is part of the charm.
Brief history Originally purchased in 1684 by a Major Fitch from the sachem Owaneco, the area was originally all forest. Settlers from the nearby Massachusetts town of Sciuate came in the early 18th century, and the area was known as New Sciuate until it officially became a town in 1714 and was re-named Ashford. From there, its been a fairly quiet small-town existence over the last three centuries, with plenty of minor incidents but no major tragedies or cataclysmic events. For much longer and detailed history of the town, visit connecticutgenealogy.com.
Most famous resident Thomas Knowlton has been described as "Connecticut's Forgotten Hero," and played a critical role for the American army during The Battle of Bunker Hill. He was recognized for his gallantry and given command of "an elite" group of soldiers that were to be known as "Knowlton's Rangers" and reported directly to Gen. George Washington. Knowlton was killed in 1776 while doing reconnaissance prior to the Battle of Harlem Heights; his service was hailed by Washington as "an honor to any country" and he was buried with full military honors.
If you're feeling charitable As mentioned, since 1988 Ashford has been home of Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Camp, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting children ill with cancer and other serious, life-threatening diseases. Over 20,000 kids are annually served by the group and its programs, including the summer camp program, where sick kids get to spend a week doing something normal healthy kids do—just be kids (not patients) and have fun.
Be prepared Ashford is also the location of the June Norcross Webster Scout Reservation, a 1,200-acre Boy Scout camp that has been in operation for 38 years and includes the manmade Goss Pond.
Washington "griped" here According to a story in James Thomas Flexner's Washington: The Indispensible Man, in the autumn of 1789 during a tour of the fledgling nation, the Father of Our Country found himself stranded on a Sunday in Ashford's Mixer Tavern as it was against the town's law to "hire a conveyance" on the Lord's day. Apparently, the first president was quite vexed with the idea of being stuck in town for more than 24 hours.
Let's just say he wasn't very quiet about being stranded in the Quiet Corner.