Dig Seeks to Settle Feud Over Which Town Is a State's Oldest

An archeological dig is resurrecting the friendly rivalry between the two towns, which really, comes down to the definition of “town.”

But whether in Wethersfield or in Windsor, historians said they’re excited that this could drum up interest in the time period.

"It’s been going back for years and years and years. More than 100 years, a very friendly rivalry between Windsor and Wethersfield," said Amy Northrop Wittorff, the executive director of the Wethersfield Historical Society.

She’ll tell people technically Wethersfield came first.

"(Wethersfield) legally received permission to become a town in May 1635. Our neighbors in Windsor got their permission in June 1635," Northrop Wittorff said.

Signs around Wethersfield read they are the “most ancient” and founded in 1634.

But a few miles up the Connecticut River, people in Windsor said they were there first.

"Wethersfield celebrates 1634 as their settlement date and we celebrate 1633 as our settlement date," said Christine Ermenc, executive director of the Windsor Historical Society.

Men from Plymouth, Mass. set up a trading post in town in 1633, according to Ermenc.

"We consider Windsor the first English settlement in Connecticut because it was continuously occupied since that Sept. 26, 1633 date," Ermenc said.

It comes down to semantics.

An archeological dig conducted by the non-profit Public Archaeology Survey Team (PAST) at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield rekindled the friendly rivalry. That survey started in 2016 and recently wrapped up.

"We’ve discovered over 20,000 artifacts and they date from over a 400 year period starting in the 1630s," museum Executive Director Charles Lyle said.

The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum is in the process of building a new visitor and education center. Because of the importance of the historic site, the museum was asked by the state Historic Preservation Office to do extensive archeology work, according to Lyle.

Archeologists uncovered ceramics and glass dating back to the colonial period, Lyle explained, along with several other artifacts.

But in the friendly "which came first" rivalry, he won’t take a side.

"We have more work to do before we can establish that," Lyle said. "But it’s pretty close! We’re about a year apart."

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