Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Changing the Town's Name from Chatham to East Hampton

The Town of Chatham, formerly a part of Middletown, had an original grant 3 miles in breadth east of the river and in 1673, a 2nd grant, extended another 3 miles east to what is now the Marlborough and Colchester town lines. Surveying and partitioning of this 2nd grant began in 1721 with the lots awarded primarily to Middletown Property owners.

Chatham was incorporated in 1767 at the October session of the General Assembly as a town of the same name in England, noted for it shipbuilding, and its boundaries embraced the whole of the ecclesiastical parishes of East Middletown (present day Portland) a part of Middle Haddam, the whole of East Hampton and a small portion of Pine Swamp (Westchester).

The first large group of settlers emigrated by sea in 1739 from Eastham, Mass., up the Connecticut River to Middle Haddam Parish. Led by Isaac Smith, some of those early settlers left Middle Haddam to push on to the seven hills near Lake Pocotopaug on which the town of East Hampton now stands. In 1746 the settlers named their growing community Easthampton parish in honor of their original home of Eastham, Mass.

On April 10, 1915, the Town changed its name and by virtue of long usage decreed the divided name of East Hampton, establishing the two word version over the original spelling Easthampton.



Old School House until 1915, then served at Town Hall until the mid 1970s. Currently serves as the Board of Education Administrative Building.


Unlike today where a full transcript of Legislative Hearings or Town Meeting actions occur, the official record in 1915 was quite sparse. The special town meeting held in the Old School House in the Village of East Hampton on April 3rd was adjourned until Saturday the 10th of April because of significant opposition and a late winter storm.

Regardless of one's views, our Town Meetings have a long and noble tradition of full and open debate that allows every citizen the opportunity to express his view. Because the storm impeded the opportunity for all citizens to participate, our Town's Selectmen choose to adjourn a week to enable everyone who desired to attend this important meeting.


The opposition came chiefly from the Middle Haddam area, “they thinking that the upstreet crowd were getting too much benefit by the change.”



The minutes for the adjourned special town meeting as recorded: “Resolved that it is the since of this meeting that the name of the Town of Chatham be changed to East Hampton. Vote stood – 126 in favor and 42 opposed.” On May 4th, the Connecticut General Assembly adopted HR 273 changing the name of the town to East Hampton.

The Summit Tread Building on Summit Street circa 1910.


Accounts in the Hartford Courant give the reason for the change as economic. After Portland separated from Chatham in 1841 the primary business and industrial area of the town was in the village of East Hampton. Confusion arose when Cobalt renamed its Post Office Chatham which interfered in the local commerce since much of the mail was routed to Cobalt and not the Village Post Office in East Hampton.


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